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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Hope you are all okay and that those of you who have had snow and cold that now it is beginning to improve.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

#6 in my current quilting cozy series that I am reading.

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About two thirds of the way through A Promised Land. I must admit it is rather a little beyond me at times as there is so much government USA stuff.

Up next:

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Review

Love at First. Kate Clayborn

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Published: Kensington

Date: February 23rd 2021

Source: NetGalley

Sixteen years ago, a teenaged Will Sterling saw—or rather, heard—the girl of his dreams. Standing beneath an apartment building balcony, he shared a perfect moment with a lovely, warm-voiced stranger. It’s a memory that’s never faded, though he’s put so much of his past behind him. Now an unexpected inheritance has brought Will back to that same address, where he plans to offload his new property and get back to his regular life as an overworked doctor. Instead, he encounters a woman, two balconies above, who’s uncannily familiar . . .

No matter how surprised Nora Clarke is by her reaction to handsome, curious Will, or the whispered pre-dawn conversations they share, she won’t let his plans ruin her quirky, close-knit building. Bound by her loyalty to her adored grandmother, she sets out to foil his efforts with a little light sabotage. But beneath the surface of their feud is an undeniable connection. A balcony, a star-crossed couple, a fateful meeting—maybe it’s the kind of story that can’t work out in the end. Or maybe, it’s the perfect second chance . . .

Love at First by Kate Clayborn is a delightful story of love and friendship and found family.

It has a bunch of quirky characters who share an apartment block and who look out for each other. Into this group Will finds himself when his uncle leaves him his unit  apartment. Will has only been there once before when his uncle rejected him. So of course Will wants to do nothing more than clean the place up and let it. However… that’s not accounting for the fact that the girl/woman he saw on that first visit is still there.

What follows is a delightful story of two people who have been wounded by their upbringing, where they had learned certain things about life, that maybe no longer stood them in good stead. It was delightful to see them changing and growing and finding their way.

One of my favorite characters was Will’s boss, Gerald. He too undergoes change and finds his way in life and love in a heart warming vulnerable way.  

This book shows us what it’s like to live with a diverse group and be accepting and caring. To find love in all its facets.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Review

The Vineyard at Painted Moon. Susan Mallery

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Set in the vineyards of the north west part of the USA, The Vineyard of Painted Moon introduces us to the important roles of wine producing. Chief among them is the winemaker and in this case this would be Mackenzie Dienes and she works for her husband’s family business. And… she is really good at her job, passionate to be precise.

The family? Well there is Rhys her husband, and his sisters Lori, Stephanie and Four! At the centre of all the action is the matriarch Barbara. Some of these characters are likeable and some not so much. The story is set off by a lovely man proposing to Barbara and giving her a beautiful ring. They look so in love. It sets in play for some of the characters the realisation that they are not living either truthful or satisfying lives. Some way through the book it clicked with me that Bruno who first appears at the vineyards Summer Solstice party, we have met before in another story.

I loved the choices Mackenzie made along the way. She had a lot to deal with. The family is the only one she knows, she has no family of her own. Stephanie is her best friend, she is divorced and struggling rather in life to find passion and meaning.  

Barbara is something else, its a wonder all her children are even as sane as they are. She is a controlling woman, and doesn’t seem to know much about unconditional love. Her son Rhys I couldn’t make sense of. We didn’t see into his mind but could only judge him by what he says and does. I was left feeling sad for him.

I don’t want to give the plot away. Don’t read the blurb before you start this, go straight in, which as it happens I did, so even the beginning spoilers I didn’t have. I picked this book up when I was just not finding reading engaging. 

The Vineyard at Painted Moon soon picked me up out of that slump and I loved every minute of the book, I kept wanting more and more.  The challenges the characters faced, the plot the final epilogue all my kind of read.

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Rating: 5 out of 5.
Review

The Debut Books of Friends and Fiction Authors

Do you ever go back to the debut books of authors who are already well established and their new books are usually read by you?

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Mary Kay Andrews first book was written as Kathy Hogan Trocheck. She went on to write a number of books in this series. I only read the first one as these are cozy mysteries and I wasn’t really into that genre then.

Callahan Garrity is the owner of house mouse, a cleaning service that tidies up after Atlanta’s elite. She’s also a former cop and a part-time sleuth. She and her coterie of devoted helpers can ransack a house for clues faster than it takes a fingerprint to set.

As it happens I have read this book back in 2015.  I say… Enjoyed this older story published in the ’90’s in it’s first edition. Callahan is the head of a cleaning company along with her mother Edna. Callahan is also a part time PI and finds herself caught up in a murder and some shady business dealings. Full of quirky characters, and humour.

book cover This is Patti Callahan Henry’s debut novel. Amy Reynolds is stunned when her first, great love suddenly reappears. A happily married mother of two, she wants nothing to do with him. But then-needing to know why he was ripped from her life without explanation-Amy becomes obsessed with the idea that maybe they really were meant to be together…

I haven’t read this one published in 2004. I don’t know if I will but there are others of her backlist I do want to catch up on. Readers who reviewed this one mention the bittersweet – cry your eyes out ending. So not so sure I want something like that at present.

book cover Mary Alice Monroe‘s debut novel published in 1995. Still reeling from the shock of her estranged husband’s suicide, Nora MacKenzie is hit with the news of the Wall Street power broker’s debts. Left only with a small farmhouse in Vermont and his secret journals, Nora begins to sort things out–until a ruggedly handsome farmhand shows up to greet her.

As it happens I listened to this on audiobook in 2014 and it was my first introduction to this author. It was narrated by Sandra Burr and I actually really enjoyed it. I remember very little about it now, but I do remember being deeply satisfied by it. Maybe a re-listen could be on the agenda. I’ve gone on to read quite a few of her books.

book cover Kristy Woodson Harvey had her first book published in 2015. One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

4.5 stars. I first noticed this book when I read a review by Kristin at Always With a Book, I made a note of it to read sometime in the future. When I was browsing our local library shelves there sitting facing me was a pristine copy of the book, so I felt the time had come to read it. The library rose a few more degrees in my esteem, for already having it on its shelves here in New Zealand! Published 2015 and read in 2015! I’ve gone on to read everyone of her books since.

Jodi Thomas says on the cover – “Characters with rich, complicated lives…. Beautifully shows how a family comes to be”. As Jodi Thomas is a favourite author of mine, I needed no further incentive to read.

book cover Kristin Harmel is an author I have not read – yet. She now writes historical fiction which I real less of than contemporary fiction. She is probably best known for her recent The Book Of Lost Names.

When Claire lands the plum assignment of interviewing Hollywood’s #1 hottie, she knows better than to mix business with pleasure, yet the next morning she wakes up in his bed–without her clothes. The tabloids pick up the story, and she learns that not everything printed is true.

I probably won’t read her debut novel but I think I will sample her writing with the book The Sweetness of Forgetting which I had already marked to read. It does sound sad and seems to have a dual time line but I’ll give it a go.

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Review

Gone But Knot Forgotten. Mary Marks.

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Gone But Knot Forgotten by Mary Marks is #3 in this cozy quilting mystery series. Just let me say I am totally enamoured for a number of reasons. It was published in 2015 and in case you think you are past writing a book, the first book in this series was published when the author was seventy. I wishing her a long and fruitful life!

Martha Rose the main character is so real. About 55 years of age, a size 16 and a divorceé as her husband left her for a much younger woman. Therefore she does not trust men and it shows. Plenty of them seem to appreciate her finer points but she struggles to accept them. She is very assertive and refuses to be pushed anywhere she doesn’t want to go. So don’t leave your shaving gear on her bathroom vanity if you haven’t been asked!

She has two fine friends in Lucy – in her sixties and Birdie in her seventies. They form a little quilting group and I just love how real it all is. These people really support each other, but when Martha Rose needs to be told – they tell her!

In this book Martha Rose is asked to be the executor of a will for a past friend Harriet. She has been dead ten months in her house before found!! And soon it is found out she was murdered. Well in rides Martha Rose and I can say she is out for justice for Harriet. Much to the annoyance of the police, but too bad. The house that Harriet lived in is amazing and might even have a secret room. There are lots of valuables, some of which are missing.

The quilt on the cover is one of those – a quilt going back to the Declaration of Independence. I just loved the whole story around it.

I guessed the murderer before reveal – just. I already have book #4 from the library ready to dive into very soon!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Review

Boone. Emily March

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With his smooth talk, rugged good looks, and deep pockets, native Texan Boone McBride appears to be a man who has it all. Few people know about the heartbreak behind his decision to leave home, family, and career for the isolation of a small town in the Colorado Rockies. Luckily, time and life in Eternity Springs has worked its healing magic upon his wounded soul, so when he meets obviously troubled Hannah Dupree, Boone sees a chance to pay his good fortune forward. 

Tragedy has taken everything Hannah loves, and her will to keep going is failing. So when Boone strides into her life determined to save her, it’s easier to go along with him than to resist.

Right from the very first pages I was hooked into Boone, and once hooked I was in it all the way through to the end. Of course Boone McBride is a great character and is just the kind of person that fits into Eternity Springs. And… this book is set mostly in Eternity Springs which is  a place with so many well-beloved characters, including Celeste of course. 

There is mystery that surrounds Hannah, she is a lovely person but so deeply troubled. Unbeknown to her she has landed in the perfect place, is about to meet a man – Boone who very soon is keen to have her stay on, and Celeste is going to have a finger in the pie of Hannah’s life.

The plot is great, I loved the various twists and turns, there was always something about to happen that had me turning the pages. 

While this book is part of a series that has a long line of characters, it is easily a stand alone book too. Although those who love these books get that added satisfaction of getting glimpses of some of their beloved characters from previous books. This book was so good it made me want to reread the whole series all over again!

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Rating: 5 out of 5.
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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Hope you are all doing well and reading your way through to the end of this difficult year.

What I read last week:

I enjoyed Ocean Boulevard, Boone is a review book with review to follow. Bad and Glittering is by British author Harriet Muncaster, lower middle grade. Oh my, I loved it and the drawings are delicious, but… it’s a Christmas gift for a great-niece so will have to pass it on! Hope she doesn’t notice the slight crease I’ve left in the spine! Kamala Harris’ book was very informative and I think she is a fabulous choice for Vice-President of the USA. I applaud her.  I am so happy that this strong woman will soon be far more visible.

What I am reading now:

Getting in a little cozy reading! And as this series has a side serving of quilting I just had to try it out! This is the first one in the series. I see I have at least 8  in it so that’s good.  I am not really a cozy mystery reader but when you hang around with readers who like to read a cozy I get inspired to try a few.

Still listening to Born a Crime. And almost finished listening to the cozy Death Overdue by Allison Brook.

Up next:

It’s a Christmas novella and third in a series that I enjoy. By Canadian author K. A. Tucker.

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Review

Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy

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Published: Hallmark Publishing

Date: 27th October 2020

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

When a quilt shop owner finds a former Marine’s journal, she longs to heal his heart…

When Sophie Davis sorts through a box of donated books to her church, she’s surprised to discover a soldier’s journal. As the daughter of a veteran who watched her father struggle over the years, she feels a deep connection to the man who wrote the emotional entries.

Former Marine Cole Aaron battled to find peace after returning to civilian life. He’s always needed to protect others. Now, fighting fires in Pine Hill, Kentucky helps him put out the demons within him. When Sophie shows up at the fire hall with his journal from when he’d first returned stateside, Cole can’t believe it was in the box he’d donated. Not wanting to face painful memories, he tells her to trash it.

Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy by Janice Lynn is a sweet, heartwarming story of the Christmas holiday season.

It has a gentle, outreaching heroine in quilt shop owner Sophie and a cautious, guilt ridden retired Marine, Cole, who is now part of the local firefighter team, fight fires and rescue the odd cat up a tree.

Sophie and Cole are thrown together as they canvas for goods for giving to children in need at Christmas and while reluctant, Cole finds it difficult to resist her charms. Although he doesn’t want to be her charity case as Sophie is known for her soft heart. Ask Stitches the cat!

A sweet, small town Christmas story that plays out gently and predictably.

Rating: 3 out of 5.
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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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Hope you are all doing okay and coping with life’s challenges. I haven’t been doing much, summer sport has started here and I know none of you are cricket fans but I am, so that makes me happy to see it back. We have the West Indies in the country at the moment playing us.

What I read last week:

What I am reading now:

And listening to

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Up next:

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Last Week’s Posts

My Name is Anton. Catherine Ryan Hyde

Bookish Thankfulness

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Review

My Name is Anton

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Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date: 1st December 2020

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

t’s 1965, and life has taken a turn for eighteen-year-old Anton Addison-Rice. Nearly a year after his brother died in a tragic accident, Anton is still wounded—physically and emotionally. Alone for the holidays, he catches a glimpse of his neighbor Edith across the street one evening and realizes that she’s in danger.

Anton is determined to help Edith leave her abusive marriage. Frightened and fifteen years Anton’s senior, Edith is slow to trust. But when she needs a safe place to stay, she lets down her guard, and over the course of ten days an unlikely friendship grows. As Anton falls hopelessly and selflessly in love, Edith fears both her husband finding her and Anton getting hurt. She must disappear without telling anyone where she’s going—even Anton.

If keeping Edith safe means letting her go, Anton will say goodbye forever. Or so he believes. What would happen, though, if one day their paths should cross again?

Catherine Ryan Hyde writes an emotional story, with characters I always find myself taking into my heart. My Name is Anton totally lives up to this expectation I have of her books.

Anton is a wonderful young man at the beginning of the story, dealing with challenging life events. He has this amazing grandmother – Marion and a great uncle too. They know how to be with and for Anton. The same cannot be said of his parents. They seem to have checked out.

So there is a strong theme of family running through this book, and an exploration of love that is unselfish as opposed to love that is centred on “what’s best for me”.

Anton makes choices along the way. One I had some difficulty buying into but I did find it stretched me to examine my attitude and allow the choice to play out. It worked out and I was able to see the rightness of it.

Catherine Ryan Hyde explores some tough issues in this book, but with great gentleness and in a way that makes a reader believe in the goodness of the human heart. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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