Review

Life on Loan. Ashley Farley

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Published: Lake Union
Date:October 8th 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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I’ve never read a book by Ashley Farley, but the cover and the book blurb made me suspect this kind of story would be for me. And I must say I was right.

It’s about two women who meet many years after the years in college as friends. It is now the mid years for them when many reassess their priorities and life and often make changes. After all, we have one life and its important to be happy and have that deep down gut feel what we do and who we are is just right.

Lena has had it with her husband and daughter, she has let them walk all over her, suddenly she has had enough and leaves, deciding to take a month to be by herself and sort herself out.

Olivia’s marriage ended a few years back, after a revelation from her husband. She has been running a successful blog, but she is tired of the unnecessary drama of certain aspects of it, and besides she wants to write and test her talents, could she write a novel?

Meeting at an airport they make the decision to exchange places for a month and see where life leads. Olivia finds herself in a lovely cottage by the river right next door to Alastair, a life long friend of Lena’s. He has been through the trauma of loosing his wife and is in a bit of a black hole.  Lena on the other hand finds herself in Charleston and soon awakens in her the delight she has for photography. However this also leads her down some unexpected paths.

I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their explorations and taking a second look at their lives. They will find new focus,  a little romance, family bonding and deepening friendships.

I will certainly look out in the future for more books from Ashley Farley.

Review

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

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Publisher: Graydon House – Harlequin
Date: 19th March 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

 

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In The Things I Cannot Say Kelly Rimmer as penned a very powerful dual time line story.

In one time space we are taken to Poland in the early times of Nazi occupation during WW2 and to the story of Alina and Tomasz and their families. Those times were horrific and yet the bravery of these people stand out as they dealt with the terror.

In the present we have Alice and Wade and their two children – one very intelligent and one who is on the autism spectrum. The stresses in the family are well depicted and felt very real. When Alice is asked by her grandmother to return to Poland to seek information about what happened back then and who is there now, it is a huge challenge for her.

The dual time lines worked well. While I am not a huge fan of dual time lines, I have to admit the way the details were spread throughout the story was very effective.  I was sucked into both stories – one shocking and so hard to read, one “easier” but with its own difficulties.  And always such love.

Its very emotional and tissues were needed! I came to love and admire all the characters and to be in awe of the story telling power of Kelly Rimmer.

Review

Lost Without You by Rachael Johns

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Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Date: October 29th 2018
Format:  Trade Paperback
Source: Own book
Rating

 

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Lost Without You by Rachael Johns is a roller coaster ride of family, friendship, a secret, loss, guilt and love.

Rebecca is a mother to Paige and wife of Hugh. Early on she is faced with a serious health issue that throws her family into some stress. Evaluating her life Rebecca decides to look back and open a door in her life she has hidden away.  Her daughter is about to go down the marriage path and has a really lovely partner Sol. So Paige decides she wants to find her mother’s wedding dress and be married in it.

This search leads her to Josie and Nic – married and Josie is not coping with the miscarriages she has had to endure. However the two girls become friends and everything there seems to be good.

Clara is another person in the mix – she nurses Rebecca when she is in hospital and also helps Josie out with her grief.

When Rebecca’s secret is revealed everyone is thrown out of their comfort zones. Some become judgemental and angry and rifts occur. And it also turns out that all the women’s lives are more intertwined than first thought.

I felt for them all but most of all for Rebecca because of the way others turned on her. I understand that we can get hurt and angry with family members so I could see where they were coming from, but all the way through I was on her side!

It was a very good read,  possibly some links were a little too coincidental, however it was story with challenging issues that were well explored.

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Review

A Thousand Roads Home by Carmel Harrington

book coverPublished: HarperCollins
Date: October 2018
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 440
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Source: Library
Rating of book
Goodreads callout

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Firstly thank you to Trish from Between My Lines who intrigued me with her review of A Thousand Roads Home by Irish author Carmel Harrington.  It is the first book I have read by this author and I do believe I have discovered another author I will want to read more from.

This book grabbed me by the heart and I just had to keep reading it, it engaged me from the first page and didn’t let me go all the way through. When I had finished it I didn’t want to have finished it. I loved all the characters, cheered when things when well for them, chuckled sometimes and reached for the tissues quite often!

The story explores homelessness, having Asperger’s syndrome, being a single parent, being lost and in grief and so much more. And… it shows how one person with their kindness and compassion can change the world one person at a time.

It is set in Ireland and very authentically Irish, but… it is an universal story and has issues we can all relate to one way or another. If you can, read it – it is indeed “warm, powerful and unforgettable.”

Read Trish’s review here just to check it out! I haven’t gone into details, let’s just say I won’t ever forget it.

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For USA readers this will be published there in June 2019.

Over The Teacups, Review

The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell.

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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

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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.

Review

Between You And Me by Susan Wiggs

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

Rating of book
Goodreads callout

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.

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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

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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.

Review

This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell

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

Rating
Goodreads callout

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…

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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.

Review

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

Rating
Goodreads callout

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.

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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.