Review

The Golden Hour. Beatriz Williams

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Publisher: William Morrow
Date: July 9th 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

It pays to stay with The Golden Hour! It weaves in and out of timelines and tells the lives of two seemingly unrelated, different women. Elfriede and Lulu.  Elfriede we meet in the early 1900’s, in Germany. As a young woman she is married to a German baron, however she suffers from post natal depression – something really not understood in those days. It leads to a number of events.

We then have Lulu in the early to mid 1940’s – war time. And does she have an interesting back story. She finds herself in The Bahamas in Nassau during the war. There she develops a relationship with the Duchess of Windsor and her husband.  I found this aspect really interesting, and I do think Beatriz Williams drew some interesting and well researched aspects to this couples personalities and lives and values.  Lulu meets up with and falls in love with Benedict Thorpe – a rather mysterious man, who appears and disappears often.  Only to return rather often bearing bruises and scars.

Its wartime, so there are spies and strange disappearances and even murders. Some of what happens is based on history, some of the people we meet were actual factual people. Although of course all the main characters are fictional.

At times the continual weaving back and forth of time lines and the two women annoyed me. I like a straight forward timeline! However exercising patience rewarded me and I really became involved in the story and liked it very much. A few revelations at the end I didn’t see coming which of course really is a plus.

There is a reference in the author’s note  to The Infinite Sea, a book I very much liked, and now want to go back and refresh my mind by rereading it. Johann, a German, we again meet in The Golden Hour, in a minor but still very interesting way, was in The Infinite Sea.

A well written, insightful and clever piece of historical fiction.

 

Review

Jackson – Eternity Springs:The McBrides of Texas

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 25th June 2019
Source: Publicity – St Martin’s Press

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Emily March is branching out of Eternity Springs into Redemption – Texas. It seems that this is the first in a trilogy, and its Jackson’s story. However his two cousins Boone and Tucker look like they will have their day in the sun.

The two communities are well linked, and there was some inter linking of the two towns that was very pleasant.  The part that amused me the most was that we see a slightly different side to Celeste – the all knowing angel of Eternity Springs. Here in Redemption her cousin Angelica is all set to oversee the Inn that Jackson and his brothers establish. Angelica is very into dented halos and imperfection and I just loved her dress sense.

Jackson is wounded – his ex wife has every excuse under the sky to prevent him from being with their daughter Haley. It breaks his heart. He has lost his passion for life and most especially his great love of music. Will he ever regain it back?

Caroline the heroine of the story is someone who has had to stand strong. She has lost the love of her life and now must start a new chapter.  And she does that beautifully by deciding she wants to open an independent bookshop. Well who can argue with that? And I noted it has a quilt shop right next to it. I so want to visit Redemption!

From half way through this book it began to move along at a great pace with enough “flies in the ointment” to keep things interesting. It reeled me in. I guess I’ll be back for more! And I am just noticing the cover perfectly fits the book.

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Buy the Book Link.

photoFind Emily at her website.

 

Review

A Family of Strangers Emilie Richards

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Published: Mira
Date: 25th June 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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I slowly read the last pages of A Family of Strangers, reluctant to finish, because then I have to step out of the story web that Emilie Richards has woven and entrapped me in.

Ryan has had to return home to help her parents take care of her two nieces. There Dad is in a submarine somewhere and their mother – Ryan’s sister – Wendy, has let Ryan know she needs to disappear for awhile. Wendy is way older than Ryan so they have never really been at home together so don’t know each other that well.

When Ryan takes on the role of caring for her two nieces Holly and Noelle, she finds the going tough, the girls are lost and very wary. I liked how it wasn’t easy for Ryan as she had to find her way with them and discover what was happening for them.  As well Ryan needs to deal with a situation – a serious one – that she was involved in before she left town.  However she wants to reach out to Teo, the man she loved but left.

Those who like to listen to crime podcasts will appreciate that Ryan has produced and been part of a successful crime podcast. She is a journalist and as a mystery surrounding her sister begins to develop her skills, colleagues and general instincts come into play.

Along the way Ryan is going to have the opportunity of a second chance, she is going to find out what matters to her, how her family really sees her, and where true justice lies.

For those who like an absorbing family story, with mystery that leaves clues along the way so that you are able to infer and make judgements about what tack the story is going in.  A satisfying read.

 

Review

One Minute Later. Susan Lewis

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Published: William Morrow: Harper Collins
Date: June 11th 2019
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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One minute you are okay, living a fun filled and fulfilling life – the next minute the unthinkable happens and you are twenty seven and experiencing a heart attack.

That’s what happens to Vivi Shaeger and it turns her world and life upside down. She returns to her home town of Kesterly on Sea and life is very different. To survive she is going to need a new heart. Suddenly life seems fragile and one of the things she wants to find out is – who is her father? But when she does find out what will she think?

The story swings between Vivi and Shelley who lives a generation back – it takes awhile to find the link between the two, but it is there. In one sense it will  give Vivi new heart and love, but what about the actual live beating heart? The story certainly tracks really well all the emotions that a person may experience in such a situation.

This is a story about family, secrets, love, loss and heartbreak. It is also a big plug for organ donation as it makes such a difference in the lives of recipients.

I liked the characters, followed the ups and downs and wondered how it would all turn out. Bittersweet is all I am saying!

Review

Backbone Power: The Science of Saying No

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Author and Narrator: Anne Brown
First published: 2012
Source: Assistant to Anne Brown

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Anne Brown narrates her own book – Backbone Power the Science of Saying No. It is narrated in a no nonsense, informative way, with plenty given to provide food for thought. She cautions that in no way does the book replace work someone might need to take with a therapist, although the average person I do believe can pick up ideas, areas of importance and the opportunity to reflect on life past and present.

So who might this book be for? I think anyone who wants to think about the place of saying no in life. A parent or teacher might want to reflect on the importance of helping children to speak up and out. Do we want them to be “nice” and “people pleasers”? Anne Brown helps us see the consequences of that!

She covers three main areas…

  • how and when to say no
  • the importance of asking for what we need
  • and speaking authentically and honestly

Through various scenarios of therapist and client she explores a variety of situations that might take place and how to deal with them. She encourages the reader to not give away personal power, but to set boundaries, care for yourself and be a warrior in all areas of life. She warns us to watch for such feelings as resentment and anger which may be signals to us that we aren’t speaking up in our own power.

I wouldn’t have minded being introduced to something like the concepts in this book years ago. I was a people pleaser and only years of experience have helped me grow and voice where I stand. How about you? Were you brought up to be “nice”? Many of us were. Food for thought.

Anne Brown’s no nonsense rather monotonous voice might not suit you and reading the Kindle edition might suit you better. However this book I think is not meant to be listened to in one swoop, rather it plays better in small chunks with much reflection in between.  Since reading it – its made me look twice and some of the characters in the books I’ve been reading. Perhaps they could do with this information!

 

Review

The Other Half of Augusta Hope. Joanna Glen

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Published: HarperCollins Australia
Date: 13th June 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Augusta Hope is a twin – an outspoken twin growing up. She says things that are pointed and well…. truthful. But others who like to be less forthright – like her parents, squash her down. Her sister Julia, the good one, supports her with love. I liked Augusta, she sees things as she grows up with honesty.  Her poetry is raw and sometimes made me laugh. She could almost be described as counter cultural.  Burundi a small oppressed country in Africa obsesses her. She  loves new words and enjoys the dictionary.

Parfait grows up in Burundi and suffers from the troubles that abound in that country. He looks with longing outwards, and Spain very much appeals to him as a land of freedom and peace. He wants to walk through Africa and cross into Spain. Through him we witness the horror of living in Burundi. Eventually he will leave, what happens to him then?

There is a sombre tone to this book, it is different to what I usually read, yet in a way it has a lot to say about life, death, loss, love, family, community. And about regrets and guilt and eventually a place of  acceptance, integration and hope.  Its about how lives cross and choices are made.

This story grew on me, its insightful, informative and ultimately hope filled.

Review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? This June.

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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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I know for most of you – the start of summer. For me the start of winter and just as exciting. We were hit with a cold blast throughout the country which I found quite delicious for the winter fire cosy aspect, and not quite so delicious because of the walk in a biting cold southerly wind – not such fun.

So now I am ready to see what June brings, here we have a long weekend as its Queen’s Birthday weekend, I’ve already celebrated with a bit of book buying with a 20% discount at the local shop and bought a set of books for a niece. Listening to a podcast this morning I discovered Sally Rippin is Australian and the illustrator of the books is Japanese living in New Zealand. Perfect for my niece with an Australian dad and a New Zealand mother. How did I just do that unknowingly! Hope she likes them, Billie B Brown is toted as a feisty heroine. Audrey is 6 1/2 yrs so I am hoping this set will be great winter read alone books for her. They are for emerging readers.

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What I read last week:

The Bookshop is a sad but beautifully written book, and really well narrated. Maybe I’ll watch the movie as its in our local library. Ayesha at Last and Pride Prejudice and Other Flavors  as it turned out had a Pride and Prejudice flavour to them and I very much liked them both.

What I am reading now:

I am just over a third through A Family of Strangers and enjoying it, it has a similar idea to it as the Jill Shalvis book I read recently The Lemon Sisters, where a sister takes over caring for the children of another sister. However this feels far more realistic and well… a little sinister.

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I am listening to one of my Audible sale books

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Up next:

A review book and one from the pile of requested books from the library!

 

Last Week’s Posts

The Lemon Sisters   Jill Shalvis

Looking back at May Reading.

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Review

The Lemon Sisters Jill Shalvis

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Published: William Morrow
Date:  18th June 2019
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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The Lemon sisters are at a crossroads. Mindy turns up at sister Brooke’s LA apartment with three children – one not potty trained, saying she has had it, she is tired, her husband is stepping out on her and she needs a break. Some of that is true, some of that she’s making up stories in her head.

Brooke works on making travel movies but in these later years she has  been  in the studio, not out in the field. It turns out she has some PTSD from a traumatic event that has left her fragile, anxious and heart sore. She hasn’t been back to Wildstone for a long time. But when Mindy appeals for help, she finds herself wending her way there minus Mindy and three children in tow.

The men are good guys, Linc is a hard working guy, but clueless about his wife and what is happening to her.  Garrett the next door neighbor has a history with Brooke that ended in heartbreak for both of them, he has a whole growing up situation too that has left him with issues.

Of course we have the cats, a likeable dog and balloon that denotes the travels of a pet to sweeten the deal. Plus three children who are mostly adorable. They made the book for me, and I laughed at the toilet seat difficulty that Millie points out about of her youngest brother. Who hasn’t been caught out by that!

This has all the trademarks of a Jill Shalvis – some humor, some sizzling romance with misunderstandings, and a well told happy ever after story.

Review

Are You a Podcast Fan?

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Do you listen to podcasts? Bookish podcasts? Other podcasts? And when and where do you listen?

Myself I enjoy podcasts. Its like I can curate radio and just listen to what I want to listen to. I have three main podcast “genres” that I listen in on on my iPad.

  • Bookish podcasts
  • Quilting podcasts
  • Uplifting/inspiring podcasts

Night time is my time to listen. I sort out one or two (depending on length) and set them going when I go to bed. It quietens my mind! Yes really. It stops my mind going on about stupid unnecessary worrying things. I have to concentrate on what they are saying. And then I drop off to sleep. Sometimes before the podcast finishes. But that’s not a problem, I just go back to it and pick up more or less where I feel asleep, the next night. Like last night I fell asleep and slept through about three podcasts that I went back to rescue this morning!

Bookish Podcasts I like

What Should  I Read Next is the first book podcast that I listened to and my favourite.  Even if I don’t often feel attracted to the books that the interviewee is chatting about, I love the book talk and Anne Bogel is an excellent podcaster and interviewer. Such enthusiasm. This one is my favourite.

One Great Book is a new podcast started by Anne where she spends 5 minutes or so chatting about one book. Again her enthusiasm wins me over, even though I already have a lot of great books I want to read!

Smart Bitches Trashy Books is a romance book podcast hosted by Sarah. Another good interviewer. I generally listen to this podcast although I do occasionally just skip some as well. Again though awesome book enthusiasm.

Currently Reading is hosted by Meredith and Kaytee. I haven’t been listening to this long but they chat about books they are currently reading, sometimes have guests and I like listening in.

Sarah’s Book Shelves Live is one that started earlier this year and I am enjoying her interviews and book chats even though I have little in common with the books.

Quilting Podcasts

 Pat Sloan is such a bundle of energy and interviews very interesting people.

Just Wanna Quilt is hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Townsend Gard and is utterly fascinating, and does have an invested interested in copyright. Comes from Tulane University.

Hello My Quilting Friends  Leah Day

Inspiring/Uplifting Podcasts.

Happier by Gretchen Rubin is always a very fascinating listen and I love her sister Elizabeth who is also hosts the podcast with her.

Happier in Hollywood is hosted by Liz ( Gretchen’s sister) and Sarah. Two writers in Hollywood and they are both informative, entertaining and very authentic.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations I always find interesting and uplifting or thought provoking.

Phil in the Blanks has started recently and the interviews and discussions have again been thought provoking and often fun.

Onbeing with Krista Tippet I sometimes listen in on.  Oriented somewhat to poetry which doesn’t really interest me but its not only that so I check every week.

Others:

Some of these I also listen to at times

Do the Thing With Whole 30’s Melissa Urban

From the Front Porch

Hip to be Square Quilting Podcast

The Book Podcast – Australian

The West Wing Weekly  as I sporadically re-watch the West Wing I listen to the matching podcast.

You?

What are your favourite podcasts? That’s if you listen to them. If not – why not?

Is there some bookish podcast – or other – you think I am missing that I could try?

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Review

Have You Seen Luis Velez? Catherine Ryan Hyde

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 21st May 2019
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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If you need an uplifting book, that invites you to reflect on life and your role in it, then pick this one up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Raymond who feels as a seventeen year old like a bit of a misfit in his family. His step Dad doesn’t really accept him, his mother listens then forgets and his Dad  has a new wife that doesn’t really like Raymond’s Dad paying any attention to him.

How Raymond turned out like he has is beyond me because he has the kindest of hearts. And one day he is rewarded because an older woman of ninety or so “sees” him. She is blind but when she calls out a question, Raymond stops  to check on what that’s all about. How many people would stop and check? Too few most likely.

And so begins an unusual relationship between Raymond and Mrs G. At first I thought everyone needs a Raymond in their world. But then… a Luis Velez is good too and really Mrs G. is just so full of wisdom. So they all enriched me and each other.

This is really a very heart warming book, it speaks to what is wrong in our world today in so many ways. Life can be hard and challenging, people experience prejudice, hate, loneliness, helplessness, injustice and racial non acceptance. What is the answer? Well Raymond and Luis are answers. And they invite you and me to be answers.