A Year of Marvellous Ways. Sarah Winman

book cover

A Year of Marvellous Ways
Sarah Winman
Published: Tinder Press
Date: 23rd June 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 312
Genre: Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
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Cornwall, 1947. Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she’s taken to spending her days sitting by the river with a telescope. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it.

Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War.  When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up on Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid.

My thoughts banner
A Year of Marvellous Ways is the story of Marvellous – her life and loves and Drake who arrives at her caravan by the sea in Cornwall, England.  It is an unusual book and it took me awhile to acclimatise to it.  I am used to speeding through a book! It takes a little while to get into the rhythm of reading it, I found it has to be read slowly – no skipping or I just might miss something. 
The language is poetical, sometimes evocative of the beauty of nature and at others of the stark ordinary workings of the human body. Here and there is a play on words – sometimes I chuckled and reread as I enjoyed the little surprises tucked away in various corners. Even the title of the book surprises! Before I had read the synopsis of this book I had no idea Marvellous Ways was the name of a person. 
Marvellous is old, wise, and knows how to be herself and not bend to others rumours and opinions or actions.  She is a healer, a caring person and a kind of doctor of the soul and spirit   She has had three loves in her life, all important with the last being the longest.  She doesn’t worry what the neighbours think and sometimes her actions were shocking although I think that was part of being herself rather than setting out to be shocking. I liked her very much.
Drake a soldier scarred by war and what he has witnessed of the hard realities of men’s despicable actions,  has loved and lost, and when he arrives on Marvellous’ doorstep is very broken.  He never knew his father and lost his mother early in life.  As time goes by he heals with good companionship, story telling and decent helpings of sloe gin.  
There is horror and heartbreak, life and death, love and loss, war and peace, the healing of sharing and telling your story, the importance of the sea and nature, and the importance of being needed in this novel.  Marvellous is coming to the end of her life, Drake must learn to go on and be at peace. The ordinary mingles with the magical, often in dreams and sometimes in the daily living.

The novel speaks of integration for both Marvellous and Drake as they share with each other their lives and are heard. They are a blessing and gift for each other, and while the final surprise was no surprise it was still satisfying.

I love the cover of this book, the teal blue is perfect, the orange firefly look, I believe ties in with the orange starfish often mentioned in the novel and it has a beautiful feel. Makes having a paper book in your hand a sensory experience. Covers matter!
4 stars

The Girls of Mischief Bay. Susan Mallery

The Girls of Mischief Bay   Susan Mallery

The Girls of Mischief Bay
Susan Mallery
Published: Harlequin
Date: 24th February 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 416
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

Nicole Lord wants to be a good wife, but there’s a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she’s never seen. He won’t even help take care of their son, leaving Nicole to run the house and work full-time at her Mischief Bay Pilates studio. Can she say enough is enough without losing the man she loves?

Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg rose to become vice president in her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late—until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she can have it all. And if she can, does she want it?

Although Pam Eiland has a beautiful house and a husband she adores, she feels… restless. She wonders who a stay-at-home mom becomes after the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise her husband brings the heat and the humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she’ll have to redefine herself. Again.

My thoughts
The Girls of Mischief Bay is the first book in a new series by Susan Mallery.  As I read on into the book I began to really enjoy it and followed each of the three main characters with interest as their stories played out.  Three women who are friends – Nicole, Shannon and Pam. Nicole is in her thirties, Shannon is almost forty and Pam is fifty.  I wonder why it is called The Girls of Mischief Bay, these are women – not girls!
Nicole teaches pilates and works hard in her business and loves her young son Tyler.  However her husband Eric has up and left his work and settled in to write a screenplay – oh and to go surfing in the morning.  Meanwhile Nicole struggles on working hard and paying the bills.  Eric seems to be very wrapped up in his own life and vision.  He was a remote kind of character, we never really got inside his head and I had little to no empathy for him.  Nicole and he are drifting apart and this is the struggle and challenge in life for Nicole.
Shannon is very successful – a six figure yearly income. She is a CFO and very competent at her job, prepared to work the long hours it takes.  Yet she hankers for something more, and meets Adam, someone she is attracted to.  He is divorced and shares the custody of his two children week about. For Shannon the challenge is forming a loving and trusting relationship and discovering the ups and downs of moving towards a relationship that could really be ‘the one’.  Shannon is discovering the need to have a child and realises her time is running out.  Will Adam go along with that need, after all he has two children already?
Pam has a loving husband and three grown children – and a delicate little dog – Lulu.  She and John have been married for thirty one years, as the story opens she is struggling with ageing.  She is noticing all those wrinkles and other signs of ageing that no one tells you about until it happens to you! I identify with Pam!  It makes her a little insecure, yet she is such a competent and talented woman who is so supportive of her friends and family.  She also feels her sexual relationship with her husband John is somewhat ‘meh’ so she decides to book a surprise retreat weekend geared towards spicing it up. However soon Pam is dealing with a lot more serious issues than these.
Life throws a number of curve balls for these women to face and work through.  At times I wanted to shake one or two of them, but like in real life it all takes time and things begin to change as time goes by.  For each of these women it was a facing of  the end of one way of life and the beginning of something new. Another stage in life – and with that comes loss and grief, insecurity and being totally thrown.  It also makes way for something new.  
Nicole is to be the main character in the next book and I look forward to seeing where her life leads. She deserves something really good, while she accepts responsibility for what has happened so far, I want her to become really confident in who she is and reach for the stars.  I look forward to meeting again these three friends and their wider circle of family and friends. I wish it was already written.
4.5 stars

Ten Tiny Breaths. K. A. Tucker.

Ten Tiny Breaths book cover

Ten Tiny Breaths
K. A. Tucker
Published: Simon & Shuster 2013
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Elizabeth Louise
Length: 8hrs 58min
Source: Own audiobook

After a terrible car accident destroys her life as she knew it, 20-year-old Kacey escapes to Florida, where she encounters an irresistible man determined to capture her wounded heart.

Just breathe, Kacey. Ten tiny breaths. Seize them. Feel them. Love them.

Four years ago Kacey Cleary’s life imploded when her car was hit by a drunk driver, killing her parents, boyfriend, and best friend. Still haunted by memories of being trapped inside, holding her boyfriend’s lifeless hand and listening to her mother take her last breath, Kacey wants to leave her past behind. Armed with two bus tickets, Kacey and her 15-year-old sister, Livie, escape Grand Rapids, Michigan, to start over in Miami. They’re struggling to make ends meet at first, but Kacey’s not worried. She can handle anything – anything but her mysterious neighbor in apartment 1D.

Trent Emerson has smoldering blue eyes, deep dimples, and perfectly skates that irresistible line between nice guy and bad boy. Hardened by her tragic past, Kacey is determined to keep everyone at a distance, but their mutual attraction is undeniable and Trent is determined to find a way into Kacey’s guarded heart – even if it means revealing an explosive secret that could shatter both of their worlds.

My thoughts banner
Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker has been in my view since 2013 when I watched it on NetGalley and saw many, many reviews for it.  I just passed it by, it didn’t seem like it was for me!  I am not sure what made me finally give it a go, I must have read an audio review because that is the format I chose.  So I found out then that it was not only New Adult but first person POV and written in the present tense.  Hate that! Well I used to anyway because a sentence or two was only spoken and I was hooked and totally in for the ride.
Kacey was in a car accident, where her parents, best friend and boyfriend were killed and she was left holding her dead boyfriend’s hand until she could be cut out hours later.  Kacey and Libby now need to escape the place where they are living because the uncle is not all he should be.  They set up in a small apartment and Kacey finds work through a neighbour Storm.  
Kacey is a hard nosed young woman, but she has not coped well with the loss and anger that she experiences from the accident.  She has tried many avenues and still nothing works.  She hates anyone touching her hand.  Her anger can be triggered and when it does – Libby is worried by what may happen.  She forms a strong loving relationship with Trent the guy next door, yet this has its difficulties.
I loved the cast of characters, they became like Kacey’s and Libby’s family.  I smiled sometimes and I admit to a few tears too.  I was able to predict what was to be a big shock for Kacey before it happened, yet  I don’t hold that against the book.  I think most if not all readers would see what was coming.
As I listened I was struck by how much damage happens by those who drink and drive and cause accidents that need never have happened.  It impacts for sure those who lose their lives, but what about those on the wider circle who are victims too – the family and friends. Or those who live through the accident.  
The narrator was perfect for the book and I will certainly listen to some more in this series. One prejudiced reader won over!
5 stars