First Quarter Top Reads

Top reads for me are ones that absorb me and that I really love the characters in the book. Usually I am reminded to about what it is to be truly the best kind of human. They bring me hope and inspire me. They might make me laugh or cry. They might make me stop and think. Also they often just plain entertain me.

In no particular order these are the ones I have loved in 2020 so far. I awarded them 5 stars. Links take you to Goodreads.

book coverIn this House of Brede was my first read of the year and a reread. It stood the test of time. While I acknowledge that this 1960″s classic is not for every reader, the close study of human character was what drew and held me. Set in a Benedictine convent in England.

Book Cover Diane Chamberlain did not disappoint me in this her latest book. Set in North Carolina Big Lies in a Small Town was my second read of the year! I loved this book. It held me in its thrall all the way through. There is mystery, challenge, injustice, racism and violence – but not too much, just a taste.

book cover It wasn’t until mid February that my next 5 star read presented itself. Again The Ten Thousand Doors of January  only for readers who enjoy a fantasy type story. Which I do from time to time. When I could hold this book in my hand I could see the wonderful cover. Will be the one to beat for me in 2020. The blurb says “Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.”
book cover Just an Ordinary Family by an Australian author. This one was all about family and secrets. I found it a really worthwhile and very must pick it up read. The characters were flawed and yet gained a place in my heart.

book coverThe Heirloom Garden is my most recent read and there will be a review further on. Only to say now I loved it and anybody who loves flowers will love this one. I think this is the second Viola Shipman book I’ve read and now he is a firm favourite. I have one sitting on my TBR shelf too which I’ll want to get into soon.






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The Sea Glass Cottage. RaeAnne Thayne

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Published: HQN
Date: 17th March 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Olivia daughter of Juliet, is called home when Juliet falls and breaks a hip. They have already known hard challenging times as Olivia’s dad was killed in the line of duty in a fire. Her sister Natalie died of an overdose. When Juliet had so much to deal with Olivia took back stage and so there is a sticky mother-daughter relationship. Plus Olivia with some good reason has fears that are holding her back on making new choices around her work.

Juliet has parented Natalie’s daughter Caitlin, continued on with a very successful garden center and has another secret she isn’t letting on about to her daughter and grand daughter. Her neighbor Henry is a great friend and there might be something more there but Juliet is not going to allow it if at all possible.

Caitlin has found her mother’s and Olivia’s diaries and read them avidly because she wants to find out who her father could be.  Since reading the diaries she has been surly with Olivia because Olivia expressed some strong feelings as twelve or thirteen year old might.

Connor has returned to town as fire chief because his sister Mel and her three boys need a bit of support after a no good husband and father abandoned them. He and Mel have always been connected to the Harper family growing up and Mel is Olivia’s best friend.

So… there is plenty of things going on and the stories of each carry the plot along in a seamless way. And eventually everyone finds what they seek and new paths are chosen. I enjoyed the story and once everyone really communicated, difficulties were resolved.

A warm satisfying read with flawed but very well intentioned and loving characters who all deserved their positive ways forward.

author photoRaeAnne Thayne
New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern
Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors,
including six RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and Career Achievement and Romance Pioneer awards from RT Book Reviews. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website.

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It’s Monday! What Are you Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Hope you are all coping. It sure is very odd times. I can’t quite take it all in. My country is today going into complete lock down and closing all except essential services.  A friend and I were laughing on FaceTime last night over the toilet paper spree and how when we were very young um… cut up newspaper was the go to.  I couldn’t cope with that now!!

Our library closes until further notice. I have a couple of books out. I’ve had to limit listening to the radio because they really like to go on about the government not moving fast enough. I think they are making people panic and its not helping – the radio people not the government! They criticise Jacinda Ardern our Prime Minister and her team, but I think they along with everyone else are doing their best.

Take care.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

Loving this.

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Listening to

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Up next:

#2 in series.

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Last Week’s Posts

Comfort Reads

The Grace Kelly Dress Brenda Janowitz

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Comfort Reads in These Times

As I find my anxiety ratcheting up in these rare times, I have looked at my books and wondered if I needed something really good to read that would engage me, what would it be? These are some I picked out, although there are many more I could choose.  My library is still open, unlike some around the world but of course that could change in a moment.

book coverPublished 2009. I really enjoyed this book, it was excellent. It is about four writers. One of them has her life fall apart and the other three come to her rescue. To help her they co author her book that must be written to meet a deadline. Of course no one else knows that. Each chapter starts with a wonderful little quote that are gems in themselves. It is extremely well written and once started fully engages the reader. As I was reading I found plenty to enjoy and ponder on.


book coverWritten in 1996. The last thing widow Althea Winsloe wanted to do was remarry. Unfortunately, her meddlesome mountain neighbors had other plans. So, one autumn night they banded together and gave Althea a shocking ultimatum: She was to find herself a husband by Christmas…or the town would do it for her!

I didn’t write anything about this book for review on Goodreads but I have a memory of it being so heart warming and beautiful. It would most likely be the book I’d pick first.


book cover Published 1996 as well. Annie Trimble lives in a solitary world that no one enters or understands. As delicate and beautiful as the tender blossoms of the Oregon spring, she is shunned by a town that misinterprets her affliction. But cruelty cannot destroy the love Annie holds in her heart.

No review for this one either but the emotion of it lingers and that’s really what counts for me in a book.


book cover And one from 2017. Most likely any of Kristan Higgins books would do but this one for sure.
On Second Thought  was a read that I couldn’t put down. I came back to it any time I had, other things I thoroughly enjoy were put aside. I was totally hooked into this book, I laughed and at times a few tears slipped down from the sheer perfection of some of the relationships and how they worked out.

book coverPublished 2018.
Single mother, Ruth, and her son, DJ, have never truly fitted in, but that didn’t matter, so long as they were together. When their home comes under threat, their quiet life will change forever.
My review was very short! “Oh my goodness – I loved this book – it goes straight to the heart. Loved it, loved it!”



What few books would you choose for a comfort read? Stay well everyone.

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The Grace Kelly Dress. Brenda Janowitz

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Published: Harlequin-Graydon House
Date: 3rd March 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

The Grace Kelly Dress follows the timeline of three different women on the cusp of adulthood and marriage.  They are three generations of women and at the centre is a wedding dress made in the likeness, but not a knock off, of Grace Kelly’s dress. The eldest Rose is French and an excellent seamstress living in Paris and working in an atelier in 1958. She will eventually live in the USA.

After Rose marries her daughter Joan wears her wedding dress, and some adjustments are made, now Joan wants Rocky (Rachel) to wear the dress, but… it isn’t quite to Rocky’s taste. But can she tell her mother that? And what about Grandmère?

The story moves along in three timelines and is fast paced and often revealing little surprises along the way. Each woman has a love story that threads through,  yet  there are heartaches  and challenges for each that are painful to face.

While I liked each character and their story, for me there was not enough emotional depth to each character, I didn’t fully connect to their lives. There was too much happening, and so much had to be glossed over.

It is well written and if you like stories of generations of women, tradition and moving on, the joy of a wedding dress and high couture then this one could be for you.


Photo of authorBrenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

Brenda Janowitz’ Website



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Audiobooks on my TBR 2020

For many years I have enjoyed audiobooks, although just lately I had a lull. However I’ve picked up my pace again and I am well on my way to finishing my present one. So my mind has gone to what I might listen to next.

Here are the ones I will listen to this year but I am not sure in what order!

Book Cover I have Becoming for sometime, I really need to make it a priority, I know I’ll really enjoy it. I know I do not need to say any more about this book, it has been huge.


book cover This is another one I’ve had since last year. I haven’t really read Maeve Binchy but I believe this is worth reading. It is narrated Caroline Lennon.
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This one is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice but set in Pakistan. It was on Anne Bogel’s Summer Reading Guide 2019 and it has been on my radar. So now its in my Audible library waiting for my attention.  It is narrated by Rasheeda Ali.


book coverI listened to The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan and really enjoyed it. This one is her next book and is World War 11 as well. It has only one narrator – Jane Entwhistle. Her previous book had quite a cast of narrators.


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The Sun Sister is the next one in a series and I have been watching for it to coming out on audio.There are two narrators as there usually in these books as they tell two time lines. Some readers haven’t been happy with the narrators but I think I’ll still go with it. I haven’t got this one in my Audible library yet but it will be soon. Its about 26 hours long though!!


Which one will I listen to next? I am not sure! But at least I have narrowed it down to five! That’s sort of a plan! If you were making a choice which one would it be for you?


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Tucker. Emily March

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 25th February 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley

Tucker  is #2 in the McBrides of Texas, although Tucker and his cousins are closely related to the people of Eternity Springs and the angel cousins – Celeste and Angelica, who foster the romance and healing that Emily March brings to her stories.

Tucker has arrived in Redemption – having just left the army after a stint in Washington that left him with a distinct dislike of the political falsehoods of the place. He feels at a loose end as once upon a time he thought the army would be his life. He is a good guy, not perfect, but very good hearted and worthy of the best in life.

Gillian works with her mother in a bridal shop – a business they both love. Gillian is engaged to be married and the event is not far away. However it is rather telling that neither her mother or father are that pleased with the would be groom. I really liked how she goes up and down, until eventually she finds her whole hearted choice.

Tucker finds his business feet and soon his skills are to the fore. I really liked his survival teachings and it could be applied to any challenging situation.

I thought after so many books in this genre I’d be a little tired of them, however Emily March reeled me in with this story and I really enjoyed it. I loved meeting up with Caroline and Jackson from the first Texas book and I could have had even more of Haley, Jackson’s daughter, than we were given.

Its romance, family, challenge, angelic intervention, a beautiful setting and characters who worm their way into a reader’s heart.

photoEmily March is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America.
A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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Book Connections, Review

Bookish Books


book coverAn unusual book, it tells the story of Tom an Australian farmer and his love for Hannah and Peter. Hannah has suffered and lost so much and her story of Auschwitz is heartbreaking. Tom too is not a stranger to sadness yet he is extraordinary in his quiet way. I loved his way with people and animals and his ability to work and craft beautiful bookshelves. I really enjoyed the Australian flavour to this book. I laughed aloud at some of the recognised colloquilisms. Hannah is a difficult character, but she has been through so much, her struggle understandable. I liked her determination to gather and sell books to make up for the many destroyed by the Nazis. My heart went out to Peter, so young and yet so much heartbreak for him. It had a lot more appeal for me than I thought it would.

book cover I listened to this one on audiobook and I found that at times I had to push myself to pick it up to listen to. I may have liked this a lot more if I’d just read it. Nina works in a book shop, is a total book nerd, loves her cat and is a trivia expert. She has never known her Dad, but when he dies she finds out she has lots of family -some lovely some not. There is also a little romance and Nina finds herself wondering is it better to be alone or is it better to be alone with someone who loves her as she is.

book cover This one is a true bookish book. It is about a bookshop and the people who own it and work in it. It has lots of bookish talk and yet its about so much more. It’s about relationships and what makes them, its about valuing and loving people in spite of what might appear on the surface. We often judge, but are we making that up in our heads, is it really what’s happening? I loved the explorations and paths this book took me down. Its definitely one for my keeper shelf.

book coverThe Ten Thousand Doors of January is not immediately bookish, but it is still about the power of story and words and  captures much of the magic of books. It is fantasy but often feels very real. January the young heroine of the book loves to read and write. There are doors that lead into other worlds, and there are those who want to lock them up tight and keep the world safe and to their order and power. Safety at the cost of freedom and choice. January stands at the centre, she is key. Magic, time travel, a coming of age story. It’s thought provoking. The characters, especially January and Sam and Bad really appeal. Maybe not for everyone but I am pleased I gave this one a chance. If you want to know a little more read this interview of Alix by her husband, its informative and as well, fun.  I gave this book 5 stars.

book cover The Book Charmer has a small town approach with a librarian – Sarah who often has books that “talk” to her and she gives books to people because she “knows” they need them. And most often she is proved right. Grace turns up in town and Sarah knows that Grace is destined to stay in the town but Grace is not inclined. It was a good read although I didn’t entirely warm to it. However other readers I follow did award it 5 stars so it could have just been me. I gave it a solid three stars.

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An Everyday Hero . Laura Trentham

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 4th February 2020
Source: Publicist via NetGalley


An Everyday Hero  by Laura Trentham certainly wins my vote as a reader who loves a deeply satisfying story of redemption, second chances and sheer gutsiness.

Greer has returned home after years of just plodding along in the music industry to find her boyfriend cheating on her. After a bout of drunkenness and disorder she is sentenced to helping at a music center for veterans and her families.

One of the people she is assigned is Ally, a really anti, sullen teen, who has lost her father in war. Everyone else has given up on Ally, but Greer with her quick comebacks and understanding born of years of hard graft, begins to make a chink in her armour.

Veteran Emmett Lawson has holed himself up in a cabin, shooting at anyone who visits. His worried parents have appealed to the music center for help. Greer is sent out and in spite of receiving the shooting treatment manages to get a foot on the step, eventually.

For all the characters its not an easy journey. They all have issues and deep seated pain and heart break. But when it comes down to it, they hang in there, and manage to eventually come through the chaos of their lives.

The story highlights the difficulties faced by war veterans and their families. It also says it’s important to hang in there with them and not be put off by early rebuffs. Love, family and friendship along with challenge and tough love can win through.

I’ve become a firm fan of this author and this series.


Big Lies in a Small Town. Diane Chamberlain

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date 14th January 2020
Source: Publisher via NetGalley


If you ever had any doubt that you must let go the past so that you can move into the future then this book will certainly convince you of it being so true.

Morgan Christopher has the huge task of restoring a mural painted by Anna Dale in 1940. Morgan has been unfairly in prison for the past year, because of a boyfriend who was a coward. This is an opportunity for her, although she knows nothing about restoring painting. Plus there is a time limit. And why did the well known artist Jesse Williams name her as the person who must do it?

Anna Dale has been given the task of painting the mural in Edenton  to hang in the post office. She moves there for awhile while she paints it so that she can get a feel for the place, its history and people. A few young students help her, Jesse among them. Anna has come from the north and is rather wondering of the racist ways still present here in this town and she is to run up against it in unpleasant ways.

The less said about the plot the better. It needs to unfold for the reader so that you have an opportunity to see it play out before your eyes. The story is told between Anna and Morgan. The chapters are short, so this time I could easily live with the dual time line. There was no time to miss one character because I was speedily back with her. As well, their stories of working on the mural and the mystery it presents links up so seamlessly.

I loved this book. It held me in its thrall all the way through. There is mystery, challenge, injustice, racism and violence – but not too much, just a taste. The characters of Anna and Morgan – nothing not to love. Jesse was another who in the ’40’s I cheered on. And his family.

All I can say is don’t miss out on this one. I wish it went on much further, but maybe Diane Chamberlain knows where to stop!