Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #11 Josephine Moon and Lisa Patton


book coverWhy   I read a previous book by Australian author Josephine Moon The Beekeeper’s Secret and was very impressed by it. So when a new book came out I was very quickly putting in a reserve for it at the library. Actually now I wouldn’t mind my own copy!

Plot We first meet Lara in Italy – she has just arrived there from Australia. She meets a crusty old man,Samuel,  her caring nature comes out and before she knows it she is working for him at his villa. He sure has a back story and so does Lara. Slowly all this is revealed. Both have had very tough life experiences.

What Appeals To Me?  It is set in Tuscany and a little in Australia. It has a wonderful Italian flavour and goats, cheese making and food is very central. The writing is excellent as well. I loved Lara and Samuel and felt for them both. The story unfolded perfectly. There is a little romance mixed in, but mostly its a wonderful family story, but with some very serious issues explored. I don’t want to give away those because to do so would to start giving the story away.

And so… this is what I would call a keeper shelf book and I will be putting it on my list of 2018 top books.

book coverWhy? I noticed this book on a couple of book blogs that I follow and I decided to chase up the book on their recommendation. I found it through our library system and as I put in a reserve for it I was first on the list and read a beautiful new hardcover book.

Plot  The story centers around admitting girls to a sorority in what’s known as Rush. At ‘Ole Miss’ university in Oxford Mississippi. It is told from a number of viewpoints, a few girls, a mother and a housemaid at the Alpha Delt house. As well this book explores the lot of black Americans and racial injustice.

What Appeals to Me? Ha! Firstly as a person living in another country it took me awhile to work this whole sorority business out, but I think I have  a sort of understanding of it now! Wowee though, in this book the cost per year was a little mind blowing. I liked though the idea of friendship, kindness and forgiveness in this novel. The contrast of rich and less wealthy and the fact that its not what counts when it comes to the value of a person. I loved the characters, all of them even Mrs Whitless Whitmore was somewhat understood at least.    I really liked the social justice aspect and the fact the girls were willing to do something about an issue right in their midst. I felt the book had a universal aspect to it and I could identify with issues and characters, especially Wilda, one of the mothers.

And so… I’ll certainly look out for other books written by Lisa Patton, a new to me author.


Under Italian Skies. Nicky Pellegrino

Under Italian Skies book cover

Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 12th April 2016
Format: Paperback ARC
Pages: 287
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
4.5 stars                           Add to Goodreads

Stella has life under control – and that’s the way she likes it. For twenty-five years, she’s been trusted assistant to a legendary fashion designer, but after her boss dies suddenly, she’s left with nothing to do apart from clear the studio.

It seems as though the life she wanted has vanished. She is lost – until one day she finds a house swap website and sees a beautiful old villa in a southern Italian village. Could she really exchange her poky London flat for that?

But what was intended as just a break becomes much more, as Stella finds herself trying on a stranger’s life. As the villa begins to get under her skin, she can’t help but imagine the owner from the clues around her. She meets his friends, cooks the local food he recommends and follows suggestions to go to his favourite places. But can an idea of someone ever match up to the reality?

As Stella wonders if she can let go of the safety of her past, perhaps there’s a chance for her to find a way into her future…

My thoughts banner
Under Italian Skies – another wonderful read from talented author Nicky Pellegrino. This book transports you to a small place in Italy, and wraps you round with the Italian way of life that has nothing to do with a touristy view.
Stella house swaps and finds herself in the small town of Triento in a villa perched atop a steep hillside.  Her life as she has known it has finished, and she is unsure of where it will lead next. She is willing to take a risk, step out of her comfort zone and do something different. This time in Italy is like a time in a cocoon for her, and what will emerge at the end of it is something completely new. 
Stella is a kind of a catalyst for some of the local people she befriends in this place. There is Tosca – an older woman with some experience of being a movie star, a bit of a diva, but with a sadness within. Then there is Raphaela who owns a trattoria, for whom food is her way of life, yet she still mourns her departed and beloved husband. Raphaela and Tosca have been life long friends and know how to ‘manage’ each other. 
Francesca is the woman that runs the linen shop in the village. She is an interesting character – somewhat manipulative, but as her story unfolds I have to say I found some sympathy for her.  Then there of course is Leo – the man Stella is house swapping with. They begin to build a relationship with each other through email. Leo has left Stella with a way of exploring the local area that is utterly charming.
If you are a food lover this book is for you. I’m not, but it still didn’t prevent my envying the richness of the love of food and family this book portrays. The passion that a true cook brings to their meal preparation  had my mouth watering many a time.
I loved the characters, many of them dealing with the issues of living and supporting each other with friendship and love. I gave a sigh of disappointment as I turned the page – and found there was no more. Always the sign that a book and its characters have really connected with me.
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About the author: When Nicky Pellegrino’s Italian father fell in love with and married a Liverpool girl, he shared what all Italians know – that you live to eat instead of eating to live. This mantra is the inspiration behind Nicky’s delicious novels. Nicky hoards her holiday time so that she and her husband can return to Italy to meet up with family, eat the best mozzarella and research her books. She now lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
Web:       Nicky Pellegrino

Bitter Greens. Kate Forsyth

book cover

Bitter Greens
Kate Forsyth
Published: Allison & Busby
Date: 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 542
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Own book
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Charlotte-Rose de la Force, exiled from the court of the Sun King Louis XIV, has always been a great teller of tales.

Margherita, trapped in a doorless tower and burdened by tangles of her red-gold hair, must find a way to escape.

Three women, three lives, three stories, braided together in a compelling tale of desire, obsession and the redemptive power of love.

My thoughts banner
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth is an amazing historical novel that tells the story of three women.  It is set in France in the time of the Sun King – the seventeenth century and in Italy in the late sixteenth century.  
Charlotte Rose de la Force born in the south of France finds her way to Louis XIV court where she loves the goings on at court.  Yet the King is capricious and Charlotte Rose is not always safe or her own boss.  There is a hierarchy to be followed, the intrigue and gossip makes it dangerous at times. Charlotte is a Protestant and while the first reign of terror of the Huguenots is over, Louis is a Catholic and ready to continue to wield his power and spread terror among the protestants.  It was sad reading of this time, it made me realise how religion was used in those days to create terror and destruction much as it is today in many parts of the world.  
Selena Leonelli is a woman who makes her way in Italy, partly making her living by posing for and being the muse of the Venetian artist Titian.  She is a great beauty and does not want to die. Her desire to stay a beauty and live for a long time leads her to witchcraft.
Margherita is the beloved daughter of two villagers in Italy, now trapped in a high tower by a woman who visits every full moon and requires her blood.  Her story is recounted to Charlotte Rose when she finds herself in a place she never had any wish to be.  
Charlotte Rose is a courageous and independent woman, at times she might be down but she is never out!  Margherita might be locked in a high tower but she remembers she has parents who love her, despite what the woman who keeps her locked up tells her.  She is resourceful and brave and her story is the retelling of the story that we know as Rapunzel. 
This a very well written book and the research is obvious.  I enjoyed reading the Afterward and learning a little more of how Charlotte Rose lived out her life after the book ends. While this is a novel of the imagination, Charlotte Rose de Caumont de la Force was an actual person in history. Fascinating.
If you enjoy fairy tale retellings and/or historical fiction then this book is a book that should be at the top of your list to read.
Want to know more – excellent reviews of this book are where I found out about this book.
Bitter Greens review by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out
Bitter Greens review by Teddyree at The Eclectic Reader.
4.5 stars
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