Over The Teacups, Review

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.


book cover Why?  I picked this up because it is a book for the Books With Heart online book club. It has as its main focus a 79 1/2  year old woman, and that also covers a challenge to read a book with a  main character over 60.

Plot  Peggy lives in a single bedroom apartment with her old dog Basil. Life is rather blah until a long time friend arrives to jazz her up. And there are a couple of surprising revelations there! Peggy also has her eye on a neighbour – Brian, whom she rather fancies. So we follow the health struggles, the life challenges, the family ups and downs, until we arrive at the other side and Peggy is almost a new woman.

What Appeals to me? This story gives us a look in on the wonderful people who are often invisible to the eye. Is being elderly a time to sit and be boring? Or is it a time when life can be lived to the full – and why not? Peggy is very real and her desire for love and friendship is a basic need. With a little confidence she is going to bring out the Smart in her. This book gives insight from the older person’s point of view. Joanna Nell is a doctor, so she brings to the story wisdom and understanding.

And so… I think this is a book that would count as exploring diversity – of age! Well done Joanna Nell. It was the Books with Heart book for November and I enjoyed reading and contributing to the discussions about it during the week.

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Over The Teacups, Review

Over the Teacups #10 with Kristan Higgins and Cathy Lamb


book coverWhy? I like any book by Kristan Higgins so I was absolutely keen to read this one.

Plot This is about three friends who have weight issues and body image issues – their struggles and their joys. Their families and loves.

What Appeals to me? An extremely well written book that explores hugely important themes in today’s world. Like body image, attitudes around that, other people’s kindness and unkindness. It’s about family struggles too. Parenting.

This book is so sad and so funny at various spots.

It took me  a little while to like the woman characters, but they grew on me. I It really isn’t an easy book to read in some ways, its confrontative.

And so… I think its an extremely important book, and would be excellent as a book club read. So much to talk about you’d need a few sessions!


book coverWhy? I thoroughly enjoy any book ever written by Cathy Lamb. Thanks to a blogger I was introduced to her books. This one was one I had that I hadn’t read, its like saving up something special.

Plot  Boss Mom Jaden has loved her son Tate since he was born. Born to her sister Brooke (a drug addict). Tate has a large head, so he has had a good deal of teasing to deal with. But… he is the most loveable of characters. Jaden takes him as her own when Brooke walks out after his birth. Now he is seventeen and he so wants to fly, to play basketball, to be accepted by other. And Jaden is so against that because a knock to the head could cause serious problems for Jaden because he has a shunt going from his brain to his heart.

What Appeals to me? I totally love the characters that Cathy Lamb conjures up. They are so full of warmth and feeling. And humour! Irreverent humour. I love the way she explores and shares someone who is different and so fully a wonderful human being.  It invites us to be open and kind and accepting and really celebratory of all the differences in people.

And so… I do have one more book to read by Cathy Lamb, her one that is due out on the 30th of October titled The Man She Married. I don’t even know what its about. It doesn’t matter. Its written by Cathy Lamb. That’s all I need to know.


Between You And Me by Susan Wiggs

Book CoverPublished: William Morrow
Date: June 26th 2018
Format:  Hardback
Pages: 356
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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Caught between two worlds, Caleb Stoltz is bound by a deathbed promise to raise his orphaned niece and nephew in Middle Grove, where life revolves around family, farm, faith—and long-held suspicions about outsiders. When disaster strikes, Caleb is thrust into an urban environment of high-tech medicine and the relentless rush of modern life.

Dr. Reese Powell is poised to join the medical dynasty of her wealthy, successful parents. Bold, assertive, and quick-thinking, she lives for the addictive rush of saving lives. When a shocking accident brings Caleb Stoltz into her life, Reese is forced to deal with a situation that challenges everything she thinks she knows—and ultimately emboldens her to question her most powerful beliefs.


Do you ever read a book slowly, especially as you get to the end. Read a few pages, walk away and do something else. And then go back. That’s what I did as I came to the final pages of this book. I just didn’t want to leave Reese, Caleb, Hannah and Jonah.

Both Reese and Caleb are similar in that parental expectations loom large in their respective lives. Reese is the only child of two very successful doctors… and they want to her too to climb to the top of the medical tree. But is it what she herself wants, where does her passion in medicine lie?

Caleb has lived his life in the Amish community, but only stays there because of a promise to his brother John to watch over Hannah and Jonah, his niece and nephew as they grow. His struggle revolves around what he really believes and what he has promised.

While this story situates the faith struggle in the Amish community, this question of what is true and right for a person, applies to any faith community I believe. Every religious group has its wonderful and positive attributes and… the darkness of beliefs somehow that have become twisted and well… stupid!  We all need to ask – what is life giving? And this story explores that very much.

So in short, a book that I identified with and really enjoyed.

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Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #9


Book CoverWhy? I’ve seen some very good reviews for this book, plus I’ve enjoyed a few previous books written by Karen White.

Plot Larkin returns home to the south when her mother has an accident. She left there 10 years ago when some kind of embarrassing event happened and she has sworn never to go back. Until now. Right into a mystery that slowly unravels about family and secrets and friendship and love.

What Appeals to me? Strangely enough for me – this time the writing. I love the similes, the way the plot is structured, the different time periods that meld perfectly. The little touches of humour that every so often would surprise a laugh out of me. The characters, especially CeeCee, Bitty and Larkin.

And so… I read this from the library, and it was so new, I think I as the first to read it, what a delight! However I want this book to go onto my shelf at home… so I’ll be buying my own copy. When it comes out in paperback. Hardback a little pricey!

book coverWhy? Any romance story I have read by Ainslie Paton is always slightly different to any other one I have read. Her plots are refreshing and fun.

Plot. This is the story of Caleb Sherwood and Finley Cartwright. Both out to help others but Caleb’s family do it in a very interesting way, is it above board or not? Hmm. What will Finley think when she gets hooked in as Caleb’s partner or… one night wife. One thing though – in one or two places TMI! I don’t need or want it, thanks.

What Appeals to Me? Learning about the con was fun! I wonder does it really work! I liked that the story points out the greed and huge ego of many of the rich and famous in this world and how many of them avoid taxes and avoid making real donations. Oh yes, I could name the people on the news who fit this scenario!!

And so... I loved how the Sherwood family were pushing back. Another quirky and charming book from this author.

book coverWhy? A good friend put this into my hand and highly recommended it.

What is it about? This is the memoir written in 2017 by Edith Eger, originally from Hungry. She is Jewish and in 1944 was taken to Auschwitz. Yes readers it is horrific, but see her spirit and beliefs. And amazing how she made it out of there at the end of the war. It is not only about this period in her life, she goes on to live in the USA and eventually her experiences enable her to help many, many others. She is still alive and in her nineties.

What Appeals to me? Well its eye opening. Its mind blowing. It is full of wisdom and insight and beauty. Oh my, what an inspiring woman. I am inspired by her.

And so… Well of course I had to google her! I watched a few You Tube videos. I saw her do her high kick! I want to learn from her. I want you to read it!!!

As I most likely have to return this hardback, I have bought the Kindle copy which is an obscenely low price.


This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 25th January 2018
Format:  Paperback
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ

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On the one hand, if Essie hadn’t written that letter – the one that only her best friend was meant to see – then she’d still be living like an actual proper grown-up, tucked up with Paul in his picture-perfect cottage, maybe even planning their wedding…


On the other hand (if her true feelings hadn’t accidentally taken the internet by storm, that is) she never would have met Zillah and Conor – not to mention Lucas. And she’d never have found out just how much life there is to be lived…


This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell was a joy to read. One of those books you can just pick up and relax into. It was a great mix of wonderful and endearing characters, with a little fun and a bit of romance thrown in.

I loved Zillah, what a character, the kind of person I’d love to be at eighty three. She was warm and generous, loves dressing up and going out and having a good time, yet very thoughtful of others. She’s quite human so has a little guilt and regret thrown in there as well.

Essie is another easy to like. She has the horror of her email sent out accidentally to her whole address book. In it she is very honest about some people and it doesn’t go down well. However really it sets in motion the next phase in Essie’s life… which was so good.

Then there is Connor who rents the flat above Zillah, he keeps an eye on her, and is an excellent photographer.  I liked that he had the courage to change his life completely, be honest and move on.  He makes a few mistakes in romance but it all added to the fun.

Lucas is an adorable character, a very handsome one too and very much part of the story. I don’t want to give too much away about his involvement in things because it would spoil the story but just let’s say he has an interesting back story which makes him just that little bit more vulnerable.

If you like a light hearted, quirky story then this one will satisfy. I was charmed by it and it will certainly be one I remember.


A Soft Place to Fall by Liz Flaherty

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Published:  Pelican Book Group
Date:  April 26th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages:  234
Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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Early McGrath doesn’t want freedom from her thirty-year marriage to Nash, but when it’s forced upon her, she does the only thing she knows to do-she goes home to the Ridge to reinvent herself. Only what is someone who’s spent her life taking care of other people supposed to do when no one needs her anymore? Even as the threads of her life unravel, she finds new ones- reconnecting with the church of her childhood, building the quilt shop that has been a long-time dream, and forging a new friendship with her former husband. The definition of freedom changes when it’s combined with faith, and through it all perhaps Early and Nash can find a Soft Place to Fall.


Sometimes – just occasionally I pick a book by its cover. And A Soft Place to Fall was one of those, all because of the quilt on it. Reading the blurb the story sounded like I might enjoy it and so I went ahead and read it.

Its a gentle yet moving story of life in a large extended family. Early and Nash have just been divorced because Nash has a bit of the mid life crisis going on.  They are still the best of friends, care about each other and their family.  I liked them both and never at any time felt impatient with them. I liked that the divorce gives Early a chance to explore her new freedom and to take her life in the direction she would like it to go. Up until now she has been the chief caregiver, and although that doesn’t halt, she does have opportunities.

One opportunity is the chance to open a quilt shop called A Soft Place to Fall, its a good place where women gather, quilt, talk, heal and support one another. I liked this aspect of the book even though it was only a small portion.

There is tension as Early had a sister who died and Sarah her daughter was adopted by Nash and Early. Who is her father? As the search unfolds it brings both sadness and blessings.

The story ends in a way that was perfectly satisfying to me and I did enjoy this funny, caring family.


The Family Gathering by Robyn Carr

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Date:  17th April 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity and NetGalley

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Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his older brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.


Every so often I look forward to reading a certain book and then feel a little let down when I read it.  Not so with The Family Gathering, #3 in Robyn Carr’s Sullivan’s Crossing. I love, love, loved every word of it.

I’ve come to love this little community and the spirit that exists among them.  And I really looked forward to brother Dakota’s story and it was everything that I wanted and more. Yes more! Because we had updates of Maggie and Cal and little Elizabeth. We saw Sully from time to time, and Connie and Sierra’s story is furthered and in such a way that had my heart hurting and hoping at the same time.  And then the last sister Sedona – what a story for her too. Such a strong sense of family and community – my kind of read.

If that all sounds like you couldn’t read this one without reading the previous two books – well you could because Robyn Carr does fill you in a unobtrusive way. However I am so happy to have followed the story from the beginning.

As soon as Dakota arrives and finds himself a little cabin in the woods I was hooked. Made me remember such a cabin in the Virgin River series.  I loved how he talks straight and tells people (women mostly) where he’s at with them or not as the case may be.  I loved Sid too, she’s had a knock back but in reality she is a very intelligent and strong woman.

All the characters have such interesting back stories and it impinges on their lives now. This is not just some light romance, this is a story about people – their highs and lows and struggles. And their ultimate arrival on the path to redemption. And of course there is romance and in such a perfect way.

I loved all the characters, Robyn Carr even includes the perfect nun, plus the oddest character around, we’ve met her in previous books and she is every bit as weird in this one, but has she finally met her match?

If you are a Robyn Carr fan this one is certainly for you. If you like a heart warming and emotional read, great characters and plenty to keep you involved in the plot then I say …. read it!


Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas

book coverPublished:Harlequin
Date: April 10th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 315
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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In Mornings on Main there is another delightful story by Jodi Thomas, set in a small town in Texas that has perhaps seen better days. But what counts are the warm hearted characters that populate the town and with the touches of humor that Jodi Thomas does so well, this book was all I had hoped for.

But wait… there’s more! I hadn’t realised that one of the shops on Main is a quilting shop and that Gram, the darling old lady is a wealth of knowledge and has such a love for the many quilts that have found their way into her shop. I just loved finding out about the various quilts – their history and the way in which they told  the stories of people from the town.

Wandering into this small town is Jillian – a wanderer since birth really. She now has nobody – totally alone, her father ditched her when she started college, and she has kept up the wandering ways she learned as a child with him. Right from the beginning she has made it clear, she isn’t stopping, just spending a few months and then moving on.

Connor is the mayor, and owner of a lot of property in the town. But that doesn’t make him rich as a lot of it is now land with old disused factories that knew better times. He is a part time unpublished writer, father of teen Sunnie and carer of his ageing Gram. It sure keeps a man busy. When he meets Jillian though, his heart begins to pine for something he has been assured he can’t have.

So the mix of the quilting, the interaction of the characters, the small mysteries, the humor and warmth of the story kept me happily reading along. Yes and some romance too of course, sweet and gentle – perfect. For more than one set of characters too!

And of course it all ended too soon, I so hate leaving these small towns where I feel like I could just fit in so well.


The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

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Published:  Lake Union
Date: 3rd April 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 380
Genre: Mystery/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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A year later, Cecily is in mourning. She was supposed to be in the building that day. Instead, she stood on the street and witnessed it going down, with her husband and best friend inside.

Kate, now living thousands of miles away, fled the disaster and is hoping that her past won’t catch up with her. And Franny, a young woman in search of her birth mother, watched the horror unfold on the morning news, knowing that the woman she was so desperate to reconnect with was in the building.


Three women in this novel and a web of lies and deceits.

In my opinion as I read :

  • One woman is a bit of a mystery
  • One woman is socially disturbed and I can’t agree with her actions
  • One woman seems ordinary and caught in the cross fires of other people’s mistakes, poor choices and the victim of disloyalty.

I know this story is going to have lots of revelations along the way, and one comes for sure mid-read. Now my mind is beginning to see many possibilities and schemes. I just need to read on and see where this goes.

There is Cecelia – mother of two, who is on her way to the building where her husband works and is just in time to see that building explode. Why was she going to meet her husband Tom?  Well eventually that is revealed.

Then we have Kate, who is taking care of two delightful twin boys in Canada. But she has only been there  a year and why did she flee the disaster – when she has a family of her own. Not cool.

Finally Frannie who maintains she is adopted and that one of the women killed in the explosion was her birth mother.

All through the story people lie in one way or the other. There was really only one woman I liked, the other two – not so much, although I might have felt sorry, no really I didn’t feel sorry or sympathetic towards them.

This was a story that had some good twists and turns and revelations, the kind of book that kept me reading until I had finished it up in a day!


Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

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Published: Graydon House
Date:  3rd April 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

Rating 4.5 stars
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The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab.

But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.


Oh my! What a heart breaking read, so much of it dark and just so sad. Yet…  it is very real and at the same time is hope filled.

Lexie is the responsible sister, both herself and her sister Annie have had a tough upbringing after their father died and their mother after months of depression takes them to a closed religious group, whose values are far from mine. And as is sometimes the case hides those who are evil.

Both Lexie and Annie escape, Lexie becomes a doctor and becomes engaged to Sam, a fine young man – a doctor too and so very loving and understanding.  All through he supports Lexie in the days that follow after Annie returns pregnant and drug filled. And that’s another difficulty because in Alabama that’s a criminal offence.

What stands out is the love that Lexie has for Annie and vice versa. Both have had huge issues to deal with, my heart went out to both of them in their pain and struggle. Annie just can’t share the shame she feels and Lexie can’t ask for help. Both situations are so difficult. And yet amongst all this is the joy of Daisy, daughter of Annie, beloved by both Lexie, Sam and Annie.

The book explores serious issues in a way that for me the reader opened my heart to the characters, it wasn’t easy to read in places, it made me feel so sad and yet at certain times my spirit was happy to see certain characters go from blindness to sight.

I don’t want to give away the plot so enough.