Review

Mornings on Main by Jodi Thomas

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

Rating
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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 He is a part time unpublished writer, father of teen Sunnie and carer of his ageing Gram.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.

Review

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

Rating
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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.

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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!

Review

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.

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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.

Review

The Summer of New Beginnings by Bette Lee Crosby

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 27th March 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 284
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Author via NetGalley

Rating
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Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold.

Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother.

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The Summer of New Beginnings is a sweet, gentle story of the loss three women experience when there is an unexpected death in the family.  This event leads to change and some re arranging of plans and hopes.

Meghan to me seemed the most affected of the two girls, she was close to her father and had a good relationship with him.  As the days go by it feels like her Dad is watching over her and leading her along in ways that will refill her sorrowing heart. When she was young she lost a very beloved pet, now a new dog comes into her life and with him comes both the fear of losing him and the excitement of new possibilities.

Tracy has always felt a little “less” than Meghan and has tended to rush into things that just aren’t that good for her. When she returns home with a son who doesn’t talk, she is a little prickly about it. However as she re finds her feet at home, she begins a deeper relationship with her sister and she can see that Meghan has a heart that cares deeply about her and little Lucas. Megan will go to great lengths to help them.

Lila their mother is a more in the shadows figure, she began the family off with their father years ago and has established a home that is caring and compassionate. And of course she is at first thrown by the loss of her husband. She is an accomplished cook and keen to be  a grandma.

The family face real life situations, experience a range of conflicting emotions and are able to face together the challenges thrown at them.  This is a heart warming and enjoyable story.  A good read for a cosy read by the fire or beach.  And a perfect cover to go with it.  And the touch of romance just was the icing on the cake!

Review

The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

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Published:Harlequin (Australia)
Date: 19th February 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source:Publisher via NetGalley

Rating
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After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fiancé Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm.

While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fiancé she so badly wants to fall in love with again. What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love. Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

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Do memories really make us?  Well for Gracie that can’t be true because she is involved in a car accident and loses her memory. She does not recognise anyone from her life or places, or how to do things or what she likes and doesn’t like.  She has completely lost herself – or has she?

Gracie makes some courageous decisions once she recovers from the physical trauma. She refuses to see her fiance Blake, as she is fearful and wholly traumatised.  To her friend Scarlett, Gracie seems to be someone different.  What she once liked and was good at has all changed.  Gracie not wanting to see Blake makes sense to me, because just before the accident they were arguing and I thought maybe Gracie was going to end their relationship.

Returning to her home out in the country from Melbourne, where while not realising it she grew up. Her mother had a flower farm which is now all run down. Gracie’s mother died some time back but there are people who remember Gracie and help her as she decides what she wants to do.  Which as it turns out is to become involved with flowers – grow them, sell them, pick the perfect bunch to lift the heart of person receiving them.  It feels like she is finding some important part of herself.

While there, still refusing to meet up with Blake – she meets Flynn and his dog Parrot. He is often around and as time goes by Gracie finds herself attracted to him, yet guilty because she knows at some point she must face Blake.

This is a gentle story of healing and love finding its way. Its about searching for your true self and being with the person you really want to be with, but also knowing who you really are first – deep down.

I wasn’t too surprised by final revelations although I admit I had to go back to the prelude to see how I had been led to interpret in the way I did. I enjoyed that little “leading me up the garden path”.

Review

Over The Teacups #3

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book coverWhy? I would like to reread this series or for some of the books read for the first time.


Plot.  In Anne of the Island we see herself and Gilbert and Prissy go of to Redmond college to study hard to attain their degrees.

All goes well the first year and Anne makes a new friend as well – Philippa. In the second year they come across a place that they are able to rent “Patty’s Place”.   While Anne is not that fond of cats a mangy, but feisty one attaches itself to Anne and a love affair is born between them.

Anne has started writing and faces both rejection and some success. She receives a few proposals of marriage that she turns down, among them Gilbert who is pretty heart broken about that. But Anne is looking for something magical and really takes a long time to decipher true love. Finally though all is well.  Anne realises her true love!

What Appeals to me. I enjoyed the story, well narrated again by Barbara Caruso. I don’t ever remember reading this book, as a child, perhaps I did, perhaps I didn’t. I am now quite motivated to go right through the series.

Somehow I got the order wrong and passed by Anne of Windy Poplars so will need to go back to it – possibly now when I have finished the others.

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Plot.

The story continues in Anne’s House of Dreams as Anne and Gilbert are married and take up residence in a darling house. They make new friendships and the characters made me smile. Lesley is a near neighbour and she and Anne eventually become dear friends. And what a story surrounds Lesley. Then there is Captain Jim with his stories, Miss Cornelia with her “Just like a man” additions to most statements. Which to be honest got a bit too much!

What Appeals to Me. The story is both heartwarming and sad with some tough tales told. However what comes through is the closeness of good friends, the start of a new family and a home that suits perfectly… for now!

The audiobook was read by Karen Savage on LibriVox and a fine narration it was, I could listen along in my podcasts app on my iPad and it was perfect.  My first time trying LibriVox and a positive one.

And so…While I might take a rest from these for awhile I will continue on. I may have to read Anne of Windy Poplars  and Anne of Ingleside because I don’t see them anywhere on audio for my part of the world.

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Why? 

I saw a review for Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine at  Debbish,  her review put the book firmly on my radar. Excellent review.

I chose the  audiobook form and it was excellent. The narration by Cathleen McCarron was perfectly suited to the voice of Eleanor Oliphant the heroine of this story.

Plot. Eleanor is rather different – straight forward, somewhat out of touch socially and scarred. She is a hard worker, quick to judge and a little finicky. And I just must mention Raymond who befriends her, and shows her what true friendship and family is all about.  Is Eleanor the same at the end of the book as she was in the beginning? Absolutely not. And there was a little twist at the end I did not see coming!

What Appeals to Me? Her life story as it unfolds is captivating, sad and yet told with a light touch and glimpses of humour.  I loved Eleanor’s development over the book.

And so…I think if you liked The Rosie Project or A Man Called Ove  you’d like this book. For me it was ahead of those.  Certainly will  be on my list of top books read in 2017.  And I’ll be wanting to read the next book by Gail Honeyman, this was her debut novel.