Book Connections

Goodreads Choice 2020

Well it seems I am more out of sync than usual for the Goodreads Choice Awards. I have read even less of them this year. And usually I don’t vote unless I’ve read them. This year I broke that and voted for one I am currently reading and one that comes out late November.


book coverI am reading this at present. I think it will hold up – it has a theme of all the choices unchosen in life and what would it look like if you had gone down that path. The heroine is depressed and with no felt sense of any purpose in her life decides to end it. Instead of ending up dead she lands in the in-between of a library that is going to enable her to examine the choices she didn’t make.

Historical Fiction

book cover I read this via audiobook and I think because I read it in this format that I fell for it. It really put me on a Jane Austen path – I loved the setting – the time … just at the end of WW2 and the various characters just took hold of my heart. The narration by Richard Armitage was superb. And that’s saying something because I am not that keen on a male narrator but he nailed it. I also voted for this one in the Debut section.


The Switch book coverI had also read Beach Read in this category but I liked The Switch a lot more. Again I think because I read it via audiobook and that aced it for me. It’s fun, interesting characters and was well narrated by two narrators. Had a great older character too.

Non Fiction

book coverWith wonderfully real examples Anne Bogel depicts the over thinking that many of us engage in (from time to time) and gives us tips to manage this little habit that robs us of energy and time. In one place it had me chuckling out loud. Anne doesn’t spare herself.

It’s a book I’ll dip into again, exploring some of her references as well.


book cover Okay this is the one that I haven’t read but voted for anyway! I plan to read it and will most likely do via audiobook.

If it is as good as his wife’s book then it should be interesting, informative and most likely entertaining as well.

Have you read any of the Goodreads Choice books. Did you vote in the semi final round?

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Book Connections

Non Fiction books on My Bookshelf. Waiting…


I am not a big non-fiction reader, but I do like some in the memoir or spiritual or psychology type genres. I have a number of them sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read and as I write, I can think of one or two on my Kindle!

book cover I like all things royal and this one sounds interesting. Of course we are still with the British monarchy here and so I’ve been interested since early times. Our magazines always carry something royal!  I heard a review of this book on the radio.





Book CoverI love all things Obama too! How come I just haven’t read this one yet. I have it in hardback and audio form. I need to get onto it!

book cover This is a memoir and while I haven’t really read much of Pat Conroy’s books I thought I’d give this a go. The title draws me in. At the same time I also bought the memoir by his wife.

book cover Nancy Zieman had a quilting TV show for years. I didn’t see them but have seen some of her videos on You Tube. She strikes me as a very gutsy woman who overcame challenges. She died far too young but I think left a huge amount of inspiration.

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This is about Gregory Boyle who worked or maybe still does with the gangs in Los Angeles. I did hear him speak on a podcast a long while back and this is going to be another inspiring read.



So obviously I like being inspired and amazed at the contributions people make to our world. It’s good to be reminded of the wide range of men and women in our world who live their lives to the full. Any recommendations for me to add to my reading agenda?

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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.

Over The Teacups, Reading challenge, Review

Over The Teacups #8


book coverWhy? I had read/listened to the previous book The Cafe by the Sea and loved it so I was totally in for listening to this one.

Plot This continues life on Mure which is a small island off the coast of Scotland. It sounds both unappealing and appealing. We meet all the same characters. Flora is running her cafe, her brother is about to get married, there is a doctor who wants to find his wife and children from a war torn area. And Flora is still wondering really about her relationship with Joel.

What Appeals to me? Well I loved the narration by Sarah Barron, perfection. I loved the setting, the characters and the bittersweet angst. We learn so much about the background of Joel, the doctor’s struggle with his search and find of his family, and well… there is one very sad loss happening.

And so… It was a 5 star listen for me. A keeper shelf book and most likely a notable book of 2018 for me.

book coverWhy? I saw this listed over on the AAR website where they had the top 100 romances as voted I guess by their readers. As I had read quite a few on this list I thought I’d try this one – new to the list. I also heard it discussed on a couple of podcasts and reviews on Goodreads were generally very positive.

Plot. This was about Jennifer – the Banana Queen, a baking genius who is totally exploited by her parents. And Cletus Winston – Jen blackmails him into helping her prepare for someone to marry. He sets out to educate her giving her tasks to do – like do something different every day. Cletus is a devious, loveable, quiet and clever individual but it turns out Jen is all of that and more.

What Appeals to me. It was a fun set up, and all the Winston family were a load of fun. They all have their own books I do believe. I listened to the audio and it was an easy listening experience reasonably well narrated.

And so…While I most likely won’t read about the rest of them in their books its only because there are so many books to be read… and if I only had time! A 4 star story and narration.

book coverWhy? I heard Joe Biden being interviewed by Oprah on SuperSoul Sunday Podcast awhile back and I was just so impressed by him. So I put the book into my wish list at Audible.

Plot. Joe Biden recounts some of his experiences as Vice President of the USA, and the years that led up to his son Beau’s death from brain cancer.

What Appeals to Me. I really liked Joe Biden’s values, his devotion to family and to duty and service. His life is inspiring, his simplicity, his authenticity, humility and loyalty. I liked his positivity and belief in his country even as times changed after his time in office. He narrates this book himself, he doesn’t have the most varied of voices, but the fact he is speaking it himself was enough for me.

And so…I was pleased I picked this one out to listen to, Joe Biden because of his life experience with tragedy has a compassion and ability to connect with others who have suffered. A 5 star reading experience.


The Upside by Abdel Sellou

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Published:Perseus Books, Weinstein Books
Date: February 6th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 224
Genre: Memoir

Source:Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley

Goodreads callout

The story of Abdel Sellou’s surprising friendship with aristocrat Philippe Pozzo di Borgo has been told and retold around the world-most recently in the major motion picture with comedian and movie star Kevin Hart portraying Abdel and his edgy charm. In this appealing memoir, Sellou shows us the real man behind Kevin Hart’s smiling face.

The book takes us from his childhood spent stealing candy from the local grocery store, to his career as a pickpocket and scam artist, to his unexpected employment as a companion for a quadriplegic. Sellou tells his story with a stunning amount of talent, humor, style, and-though he denies that he has any-humility.


I have not seen the documentary or the movie that have recounted some of Abdel Sellou’s activities, however I didn’t need to, reading The Upside was complete in itself. Although if I got the opportunity to ever view the other media I would.

I couldn’t help but become fascinated by Abdel Sellou’s story.  It would seem the world came to know him first as an aide to wealthy Phillippe Pozzo di Borgio –  a tetraplegic.  They are well suited to each other.  Abel Sellou is irreverent, fun-loving and sure to shake up the household. He arrived in France when he was four, given to an uncle and aunt as is often the custom in Algeria.

He tells his story of those days – of how he learned to live on the streets, steal and break laws until the age of eighteen when he can be held responsible for his actions. And so he has a little stint in jail. If there is one word that describes this character for me – it is resilient. He may have escaped a formal education by mainly just not turning up, but in many other ways he was smart.

His childhood underlined for me what happens when a child has no boundaries and is allowed to do what he likes. His new parents loved him, but didn’t know how to raise him, he raised himself.

However his friendship with Phillippe Pozzo di Borgio gradually educates and grows Abel Sellou.  While this man is more in the background in the memoir, he himself is very inspiring. What abides with me as I finish the book is the power of a deep friendship that enriches two lives.

This memoir was well worth the read.

Over The Teacups, Review

Over The Teacups #5


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Why? I have enjoyed all of Kristy Woodson Harvey’s previous books and so of course I would read this one too.

Plot Ansley has three daughters who for all different reasons return home to Peachtree Bluff. Ansley herself (mother) has quite a back story and that is all revealed as the story progresses. The story is told from Ansley’s and daughter Caroline’s point of view. Caroline is deciding what to do as her husband has been unfaithful in a spectacular way. She is very pregnant and has an older daughter of about ten – Viki. Ansley has been dealt a hard card in life but the way she has picked herself up and looked after everyone is outstanding. There is a little plot twist that turns things somewhat as well.

What Appeals to me?

I loved the setting of course and the sisters relationship with each other was a drawcard. Each of the main characters is dealing with difficulties that are definitely quite south of simple! I did like too how Caroline grew as a character. Also that the characters each had their quirks and challenges. I just wish Ansley would think of herself just a little bit more.

And so… I see this is #1 in the Peachtree Bluff series so I am looking forward to catching up with this family in the future.

book coverWhy? I wanted a food memoir to read for the Better World reading challenge and I saw a review for this by Katherine over at I Wish I Lived in a Library.

Plot Well there isn’t one but there is a wonderful accounting of Edward in his nineties and Isabel who is in an unhappy marriage. Isabel visits Edward once a week and partakes in his delicious meals. No recipes but oh my, makes me want to appreciate and taste such food.

What Appeals to Me? The way Edward lives his life so fully in his nineties and his obvious deep love and devotion to his wife who is now dead. He battles with this loss but it does not diminish too much his participation in life. I liked the way Isabel valued the friendship and grew as a person in the time she was able to experience this special relationship.

And so… Very happy to have read it. As one person also pointed out from It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? pointed out there is a great tip for scrambled eggs that she uses to this day. I have yet to try it but I will.

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Why? This has sat on my actual TBR shelf for quite a few years! I was wondering about what to read next and saw there is a bit of a romance in this book while the couple are travelling. Perfect for the Better World reading challenge I thought! Besides I have never read Monica McInerney, but seen noted many good things about her books.

Plot. This is a book about a family! A grown up family who are in the Travel business. There are two men, two women – one of whom came to the family when she was eight – Lara. As a travel tour around Cornwall and Devon is to take place centred on an old TV show, Lara goes missing. Harriet is leading the tour and is worried about Lara as is Austin one of the brothers. So there is a little romance, (Harriet and the star of the TV show) a mystery, secrets and family relationships in the mix.

What Appeals to me? I found it a little slow, but the variety of characters was fun, the mystery and secret kept me going and the whole family aspect with its exploration of loss and grief was interesting. Plus how we often make judgements about others that is quite far from the actual truth.

And so... At some point in time I will be happy to venture into reading another Monica McInerney book .


Peggy and Me. Miranda Hart

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Published: Hachette New Zealand
Date:  11th October 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 294
Genre: Memoir
Source:Thank you to Hachette NZ
           Add to Goodreads

For years Miranda viewed dog owners with some suspicion.  She was bored by the way they only talked about their pooches, alarmed by their light coating of dog hair and troubled by their apparent comfort around excrement. But that all changed when, nine years ago, Miranda met Peggy.  She was exceptionally cute (the dog), very smart (again, the dog) and they bonded from their first meeting.

Since then, Miranda’s life has had its ups and downs – when they first met there was no such thing as a sitcom Miranda – and she candidly charts this in the book. No one has been more surprised than Miranda herself that it’s been her wonder dog who has taught her the best life lessons, taken her on hilarious adventures and become her smart talking but utterly loyal and loveable best friend.

My thoughts banner
Multi- talented, writer and actor, Miranda Hart has now written a book about herself and her experience of becoming a dog owner. In her own inimitable style she documents the sometimes rocky but always love-filled road with Peggy.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching some of the Miranda sitcom shows, and found while I was reading the book I had to go to You Tube to re-experience some of those very funny moments. 
Miranda Hart must be very tenacious, she already had this book written in 2013 and then lost it in a house burglary. Imagine the heart ache of losing something like that, hour upon hour of work. But… she began again and here we have the chronicles of Peggy and herself.
Miranda began out unsure of whether she wanted to be a dog owner, but nine years on, she totally loves Peggy and dreads the day that all pet owners face, the day their beloved pet dies. However Peggy is still very much alive and bringing much joy to Miranda.  I would love to see Miranda Hart in a debate for Dog versus Cat. She would of course take the dogs are best side of the argument and would be very convincing and funny. Cat owners you would have a very difficult time putting your side across!
I laughed out loud so many times while reading this book. Mostly something funny would come out of the blue and I would just find a chuckle escaping. I cannot believe the escapades Miranda found herself in, along with poor Peggy who just sometimes had to put her paw over her eyes!
When Miranda first obtains Peggy, she is still unknown – (Miranda that is), and it is in the following years that she becomes more of a well known name for her comedy and acting in both Miranda and Call the Midwives.  She shares with us her vulnerabilities, her worries, her joys. Along the way with Peggy she learns and grows and becomes a bit of a philosopher as well.
I am not a pet owner – for the very reasons of some of the ‘disasters’ that Miranda details in her book, and  she is a braver woman than I. However I love the bond that she forms with Peggy and I do get the joy that pets can bring. 
Full of great humour, personal sharing and lessons about life, I found Peggy and Me  a really enjoyable read. Also loved the little illustrations sprinkled throughout by Jenny Meldrum, totally adorable.
Furry Fun

Speed Date Book Review: The Year of Yes. Shonda Rhimes.

Year of Yes
Shonda Rhimes
Published: Simon & Shuster Audio
Date: 2015
Format: Audiobook
Length: 7 hrs 4 min
Narrator: Shonda Rhimes
Genre: Memoir
Source:Own book
5 stars           Add to Goodreads

The megatalented creator ofGrey’s Anatomy, Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder chronicles how saying yes for one year changed her life – and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the ubertalented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side benefit of saying no for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.
Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: Just for one year, try to say yes to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed – and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life – and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

I listened through this in less than a week, which is a little unheard of for me and an audiobook. I think any introvert is going to identify and enjoy this book, and let’s be honest many of us are. The blurb tells you what it is about and really that’s it.
Shonda Rhimes speaks honestly, I am sure she brings her writer embellishments to it, her sense of drama, her timing. I really enjoyed listening to her, and I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much just reading it. A couple of her speeches are included – and they are live. You hear the audience.
The part that I liked the most – her growth into her sense of who she is and speaking her truth. In her year of yes there is room for her yes to no. No to what she is not. I sure liked that bit.
I came away feeling enriched by her sharing – and a renewed interest in her TV shows!

Running Like China. Sophie Hardcastle

book coverRunning Like China
Sophie Hardcastle
Published: Hachette Australia
Date: 25th August 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 275
Genre: Memoir
Source: Thank you Hachette NZ
Add to Goodreads

Most of the time we don’t notice the darkness… not until we’re in the thick of it. It was like that for Sophie Hardcastle, as the joy she’d always known disappeared. She was constantly tired, with no energy, no motivation and no sense of enjoyment f

In this brave, bold and beautifully told memoir, Sophie lays bare her story of mental illness – of a teenage girl using drugs, alcohol and sex in an attempt to fix herself; of her family’s anguish and her loss of self. It is a courageous and hopeful story of adaptation, learning to accept and of ultimately realising that no matter how deep you have sunk, the surface is always within reach.

My thoughts banner
Running Like China is a memoir of a young woman in Australia, that held my attention all the way through.  Her book is a gift of herself – her story to each and every reader. Her hope is that it will help others who are experiencing the depths of mental illness that may lead to suicide. That it will encourage them to hang in there in the down times and to remember all there is to live for. 
It is a very moving, articulate, insightful piece of writing and it gave me some understanding of what it can be like for someone living with bi polar 1 disorder.  I was astounded and in awe at her experience. I stand and admire her strength, courage, wisdom and intelligence, and passion for life. Her passion for writing.
I loved how she shared about those who were there for her, her family, a few close friends, a boy with ice blue eyes, a school counsellor, a white bearded psychiatrist. And for some reason a surf maker -“the coffee -coloured, coffee scented man with shorts as short as the seventies”, who helped her back to the enjoyment of something important to her.  
I wondered about those who do not have such support, and those who for some reason are unable to give that support.  It is obviously very difficult for family and friends to hang in there with a person suffering with such a disability.  It is painfully distressing. This book may not always reach those who have bi polar when they need it, but if this book gives an understanding to family and friends of the person, then it has achieved so much.   I came away realising support is so important.
It cut at my heart that some of her peers in their ignorant youthfulness said horrible things about her on social media.  We live in an age where petty gossip and drama can be blown up hugely. With such cruel results.  
I was saddened by the misdiagnosis to begin with that I think caused much suffering in the beginning. Drugs that weren’t helping and had terrible side-effects.  Of course bi polar is a chemical imbalance and when the right drugs are used and the person can underscore that with responsible living then drugs are another support for the person.
I feel inadequate in responding to this book. It is powerful, it is important reading. Read it. It’s one I know I will pick up again and reread.

5 stars

photo of author
Sophie Hardcastle is an exciting young writer, determined to help change the lives of young people living with mental illness. She is working with Batyr and Headspace, agencies that train young people with mental illness to visit educational institutions, to share their experiences and dispel the stigma surrounding mental illness.
AWW Writer's Challenge 2015Aussie Author Challenge