Review

The Cliff House RaeAnne Thayne

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 26th March 2019
Genre:  Contemporary Romance
Source:  Litte Bird Publicity via NetGalley

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The Cliff House is a really wonderful read – I think my favorite from this author. It abounds with love and family and care for the wider community.

Stella is a middle school teacher, a “mother” to her two nieces and a beloved foster mother to many another child. But… she is only forty and she hankers for her own child.

Her two nieces are now grown women, a credit to her and themselves – yet some things are not yet sorted. Bea is a great mother to Mari, born of a marriage to a rock star, that has long since ended and she is so ready to move on.   Daisy is a talented financial advisor and accountant, but a little tight and buttoned up. She carries some secrets and surprises though.

The story explores the issues of the importance of foster care, and for each of the women a second chance at becoming firstly more themselves  and secondly a relationship for each of them that promises to be very fulfilling.

It was a story I just kept reading, there is an adorable dog or two, women who care about each other and men who each have their strengths and abilities to be there for the women they have come to love. A secret here and there, past mistake, some tension and loss, and some big hearted giving.

This stand alone book is RaeAnne Thayne’s first ever book in hardcover and it is certainly worthy of it.

 

 

Review

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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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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Well there have been some dark days here in my country, New Zealand. My heart goes out to all those who were so brutally murdered by the terrorist in Christchurch.  The families – what an experience to have to cope with. Almost every New Zealander grieves with our Muslim community.  I say almost because there are a few who choose to hate.  I have never seen my country so sombre.

What I read last week:

A review book and one from the TBR shelf.

What I am reading now:

Loving this one off my TBR shelf.

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And listening to .. well I do need to start!

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Up next:

A little dubious with this one – it is a Modern Mrs Darcy read and one for a reading challenge or two!

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Last Week’s Posts

Home At Last Meredith Appleyard

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Review

Home at Last Meredith Appleyard

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Published: Mira   Australia
Date: 18th March 2019
Format:  e-ARC
Pages:  416
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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I chose to read this book because I’ve always had a fascination with the Flying Doctor Service in Australia. I think it goes back to the years of radio when when there’d be stories that involved this incredible service.

Anna comes back to Broken Hill as a pilot for the FDS. I loved that gender roles were reversed in this novel. Anna is a very competent pilot, has had a challenging life but always seems to make something work.

She meets up with one of the FDS nurses – Nick and a relationship develops. However for both of them there are issues especially that of trust that makes things rough going for awhile. Nick has his own baggage and it all takes some time to be worked out.

The flying doctor service aspect did not disappoint, the author’s own experience of nursing with the FDS made for very authentic situations. I loved the Australian rural setting, a couple of the minor characters added some fizz to the plot.

The story deals with issues of parenthood, ageing parents, having work that is satisfying and of course working out a relationship. A good read.

Book Connections, Reading challenge, Review

Women Growing into Themselves

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book coverMarilla of Green Gables Sarah McCoy.   Historical fiction.
Marilla is loyal to the family and the farm. While she loses the love of her life she does not let it embitter her. She finds meaning in helping out in the community and even being part of the underground railway.

 

Book CoverBecoming Mrs Lewis   Patti Callihan   Historical fiction.
Joy Davidman was a woman of courage who had to make difficult choices and she did. Choosing what felt right to her and would give her fulfilment and joy.  She chose her children, her writing and her relationship with C. S. Lewis. She left her homeland and journeyed to live in a new country. In spite of many difficulties she hoped and loved.

book coverTrue Places   Sonja Yoerg      Contemporary fiction.
Suzanne after an incident in Africa becomes anxious and fearful. She settles for being a wife and security. When a young woman arrives in her life it awakens in her the need to be strong and to be herself.

book coverAmerican Duchess – Karen Harper  Historical fiction.
A young woman, Consuelo Vanderbilt,  is forced by her mother to marry a Duke. After a unsatisfying marriage and two children, she finds the strength to claim a life of service and to be with the person she truly loves.

Book coverMeet me at the Museum  Anne Youngson.
Tina Hopgood has been a farmer’s wife for forty years. She has cooked and cleaned and made life comfortable for her husband and children. But… she has neglected her own needs. In writing to a man in Denmark she comes to understand herself and what has happened to her. Through this she grows and when the crunch comes, is strengthened to take steps that will lead to growth for her.

Review

California Girls Susan Mallery

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Published   MIRA
Date  1st March 2019
Format   Kindle
Pages   366
Source   Publisher via Edelweiss

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California Girls is set in Los Angeles and is all about three sisters and their slightly prickly, strange mother.

Life for the three sisters is rather falling apart as the book opens. Finola – a TV host is about to be painfully dumped by her husband in a very unkind kind of way. I couldn’t quite marry up the portrayal of a loving man, with the man who seems to really do something so stupid.

Ali who is about five weeks from walking down the aisle with Glen is dumped and he doesn’t do it in person. He sends his brother Daniel and it turns out Daniel is way nicer in every way! Ali is left with winding up the wedding plans and canceling everything.

Zennie is sort of dumped by her dating friend – Clark, because she is just not so into this relationship. She agrees to be a surrogate for her best friend Bernie who is unable to have children and then has to face into the annoyances of pregnancy. And if that isn’t bad enough some of her so called friends and family are of no support whatsoever.

Ali and Finola fall apart at first, they are the victims and go into that space of victimhood where one rages, drinks, eats and sees no way out. But… only for awhile – both girls discover new insights about themselves and begin to rethink their lives.  Zennie makes discoveries of her own as well.

On the whole I enjoyed this new story by Susan Mallery.

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Review

American Duchess by Karen Harper

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Published: William Morrow
Date: February 26th 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

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A woman’s life story to rival any one made up in a fiction novel.

Who knew that so many American wealthy heiresses shored up the coffers of the British aristocracy. In the late Victorian era and early twentieth century this was quite the thing.

At the age of eighteen Consuela Vanderbilt was forced into marriage by a very ambitious and over zealous mother, with the then Duke of Marlborough. The mother achieved the honor of her daughter becoming a Duchess, her husband gained millions from the Vanderbilt wealth to shore up the huge Blenheim Palace.

We track the life of this marriage, the visits with royalty and the life of other famous people they mingled with. She was a good friend of Winston Churchill and his wife, he being a cousin of the Duke.

This is the life of Consuela – her family, her loves, her losses. We see her seek meaning and happiness in what appears to be an historically accurate retelling. As there is no great plot other than a reasonably eventful life, I found the book dragged a little here and there. However just as I felt the drag, I turned the page and my jaw dropped. What drama.

I enjoyed seeing a woman grow in stature and self reliance, seeing her reach out and help others and for herself find happiness.

With a little touch of Downton Abbey, and a reminder of a rather  infamous 1980’s royal marriage, readers who are intrigued by the British aristocracy and their ways should find this interesting.

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Review

Home Fires. Fiona Lowe

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Published: Harlequin Australia
Date: 18th February 2019
Genre: Women’s fiction

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I am still dabbing my eyes and swallowing the back taste of smoke as I finish Home Fires by Fiona Lowe. As I read into the book I just couldn’t put it down,  I was drawn into the lives of the people of Myrtle in Victoria, Australia.

We all watch devastating events happening most nights as they play out on our TV screens. As I read this book I am hearing about a fire devastate a town in my own country.  Home Fires explores the terrible destruction of fire that can spring up and engulf a community.

This is a book not only about the horror of fire out of control, but the lives of people both before and after the fire. There is the shock of loss of life and home and animals. Add into that the people who survive and the huge stress that is placed on them. The world forgets them, but they are left to pick up the pieces.

Home Fires presents us with a wonderful group of characters all who are dealing with fire related issues, and issues that were already present and greatly exacerbated by the fire. We see a motley group of people struggle and fall, challenge each other and support each other until… something new arises.

So worth reading! A fabulous Australian setting,a disaster event and the courageous response to it, family upheaval, violence and marriage issues, PTSD, crime, and above all family and community supporting each other. This book has it all. The title of the book is totally apt and the cover gorgeous.

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Review

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

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Published: Lake Union
Date: 12th February 2019
Source:  Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley
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The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen explores the upheaval of World War 1 and the far flung impact on the people in England. Hardly one family was left untouched by loss, and if not loss – men who return deeply scarred by the experience.  Class barriers begin to tone down, women take on new roles – and The Victory Garden gave me, the reader a taste of that.

Emily – the main character was someone I came to really like and admire. She is a middle class woman with a Judge as a father. Her mother is very cognisant of class and was rather a sad case to behold. Because they had lost their son in the first year of the war they kept a tight hold on Emily and would not allow her to help out in the war effort. And the question of them is – when the chips are down “Does family matter?”

When Emily turns twenty one though all that changes and she sets off to become a land girl. The work is hard, but she is willing to give it a go and in doing so forms meaningful relationships with women of lower class and means.

The story moves along at a good pace and I found myself picking up the book happily at any chance I had. I loved the journey Emily had to take to find herself and her place among community. And she is supported by a very likeable group of people. I don’t want to give away all that happens to her, so no more.

If you enjoy books about the English countryside, people banding together in hard times and a heroine who ‘comes of age’ then I think you’d enjoy this.

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Review

The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

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Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: 5th February 2019
Genre: General Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Right from the first page I was hooked into this story that explores military life from so many different viewpoints. Firstly the men themselves, then the women who love them and the children in the family.  Military men are tough but they are also human, Laura Trentham explores PTSD, grief and loss, women who worry about their men and children who have either lost a parent to war or must tiptoe around because their dad just isn’t who he once was.

Harper Wilcox is a wonderful Mom to Ben. She has been through the mill – losing her husband Noah in a military mission. Fortunately she has the support of her mother and a delightful Ben. She wants more though about how Noah died beyond the terse military report. She believes Bennett who was on that mission may hold some answers.

Allison is Harper’s friend, she has three children and a husband who since returning from active duty has been morose and the family have had to tiptoe around him.

I liked the way the story unfolded, the characters were ones I could take into my mind and heart. The story moved along at a good pace and I think gave me a good insight into the challenges, struggles and losses of those involved in military service. While I smiled from time to time, I also teared up. So an emotional read!

Such a mixture of loss, guilt, anger, despair coupled with love, strength, support, new hope and second chances. I will most certainly look for the next book in The Heart of a Hero series.

photo of authorLaura Trentham is the award winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

 

Buy links can be found here.

 

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Discussion, Review

How Often Do You DNF a Book?

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Until recently I have been reluctant to DNF a book, I’d struggle through or speed read (that is skip huge chunks) and call it read. But just this month a couple of things changed my mind about this. I am going to take on a new attitude towards books.

Firstly I read a post by Anne Bogel at Modern Mrs Darcy encouraging readers to not finish books that they just weren’t into.  She argues that five or so hours reading a book is time investment from a reader and so the books should be worth that investment. I’d always thought of the hours spent by the author writing it!

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However I can now see that some books just aren’t for me. It’s not that the book is bad, but rather just not to my taste and I made a mistake in choosing to read it. This happened to be with Turning the Pages by Penelope Janu. I liked the idea of it involving the book world and the main character was an author. But… what I found and can own was the writing was very upbeat chick lit and the main character seemed to ditsy around.  I closed that book I am not sure how many pages in and returned it to the library. There is a queue waiting for it on reserve and readers that will just delight in it, but not me. I felt relieved and moved on.

When I have a book that I am counting the pages or looking to see what % I have read, it may be a sign that I am finding it not to my taste. Anne Bogel says to learn from the books you DNF. So I’ve learned and I sort of knew that I don’t enjoy upbeat chick lit romance and to leave it alone to those who do!

It hurts when I’ve bought the book (big OUCH) although Amazon and Audible are pretty good about returns although sometimes I don’t read them for so long after buying I wouldn’t do it.  But I have until now struggled on with the REVIEW  book! However from this day forward I have decided that they too will hit the DNF slot and I will just let the publisher know that. That’s fair feedback I do believe.

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I will count the DNF books for 2019 and feel successful if the list is longer than other years because that means I have moved on to books more to my taste and most likely avoided a reading slump. I will be happy to be guilty as charged and be a happy DNFer.

How about you? How often do you DNF a book, how do you feel about that? What was the last book you DNF’d and why?

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I am linking up with Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts at Midnight. Check out all the discussions for January.