Book Connections, Review

Five Books that Explore Family Complications

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Families most likely by their nature are complicated, I guess we can all point to our own complications. And so when books explore these various complications a) we nod our heads or b) we think “well thank goodness that didn’t happen to us”.

Book cover Lucy’s own mother is dead and she would really welcome a mother figure. However her mother-in-law Diana is not that friendly a figure. She is aloof, unemotional, stands by strict beliefs about money and spends her time on a very good cause. When Diana ends up dead – the question is who did it and why? I didn’t like Diana at the beginning but I warmed to her eventually, I listened to this one on audio and that version was well done.

A middle grade book that introduces to us two twelve year olds who discover their dads are in a relationship and they want their daughters to be “family”. Initially the daughters are horrified! Then a firm friendship is formed in spite of their quite different personalities. The dads have their issues because they aren’t alike either and they stop the relationship to the disappointment of the girls. I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade book and was delighted by all the plot twists and turns.

book coverA family complication happens in this YA novel and so Aria and her mother move provinces in Canada. One of the complications is that on a night out on Halloween Aria spies her father in another house with a young child on his knee and  the woman who answers the door is pregnant. Well! And there is a second complication but I am not saying a word because I hope some of you read this novel.  It explores what it is to be different, to harbor a secret, and it takes a hard look at bullying. Loved the touch of romance and development of the characters. K. A. Tucker I am so a fan.

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This book fits only loosely into family complications, because really its about friendship complications.However what about when friends eventually work through all the relationship complications over a long number of years and recognise that actually they are family. That’s how this one works out, along the way exploring alcoholism, dieting, secrets and deceit. I enjoyed this book although I didn’t love it. I was so happy it was a library borrow!

Book Cover What happens when one sister steals or seems to steal the man you are to marry right from under your nose. Going to be complicated for sure and it is. It’s either fight or flight and Lena chooses flight and I sympathise with her on that. When she returns home ten years later its because her Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and its all hands on deck. Herself, her sister and brother plus their Dad must deal. In the dealing there is much exploration of memories, of forgiveness and the difference between forgetting and not forgetting. Plus there is a twist that is well signalled and ties in well to the title. And a second twist that I wasn’t that happy with and meant I scored it 4 rather than 5 stars.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Not much going on here. Unseasonably warm for Autumn ending though. I don’t know where the days go to though, they pass so quickly. I am endeavouring to get out walking each day, in the spirit of do something for thirty days in a row and the habit might stick! I went to the city on Friday and then when I got home was too lazy to walk, so beginning the thirty all over again!

What I read last week:

Tell Me Three Things I absolutely loved, The Lemon Sisters is for a coming review, The Mother-in-law was very good on audio and To Night Owl from Dogfish was a really delightful middle grade fiction book that I fell in love with.

What I am reading now:

I am enjoying this slightly Pride and Prejudice twist, set in modern day Canada and about a Muslim couple. This has a different cover to the USA one, which comes out in June. Ayesha has a fondness for a purple hijab and purple notebook (she likes to write poetry)  so of course she was immediately accepted by this reader.

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I am listening to

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Up next:

A Family of Strangers is Emilie Richards book to be published in June, so happily will get into this one in the coming week.

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I’ll most likely read something else as well but it will be a mood pick. 

Last Week’s Posts

Have You Seen Luis Velez    Catherine Ryan Hyde

Are You a Podcast Fan? and surprisingly not many are, I discovered in the comments.

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It’s Monday! What are You Reading this mid-May?

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a place to meet up and share what you have been, and are about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment and er… add to your groaning TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started on J Kaye’s blog and then was hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn here at The Book Date.
Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels or anything in those genres – join them.

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Here’s my reading week. Hope yours was full of good reading.

I spent some of my time looking to organise new curtains for the house. Turns out I found that more difficult than I thought. Still haven’t made the final decision or received the quote yet! I finished two of the quilts I was making for the Christchurch shooting victims and posted them off to the coordinator. And I did some reading!

I looked through Modern Mrs Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide and picked out fifteen of the thirty books I’d like to read. We shall see! The Mother-in-Law is the first of them. The PDF of the guide is absolutely gorgeous.

What I read last week:

I was disappointed with this novel, I didn’t really connect to the main characters. It was a mishmash of a little magic and time travel and weirdness. It is the first in a trilogy and I won’t be reading the next ones published.  I did see it through to the end as I was reading it as a challenge book and ouch $30 down the drain, but… someone will like it when I put it into this year’s fund raising Book Fair.

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I then read the following one to clear my reading palate. When I was a teen Lucilla Andrews novels were sometimes serialised in the English Women’s Weekly or I read a few from the library later on. I bought this one from AbeBooks, but now I see they are republishing her books on Kindle and I’ll get them there from now on.
Lucilla Andrews was a nurse in London during WW2 and afterwards began to write romance novels although they read a little more like women’s fiction. This one Frontline 1940 is about the blitz in London and a nursing hospital. It has details in it that come from firsthand experience and its partly what makes me want to read everything she has written.
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I finished listening to Southern Side of Paradise. I enjoyed it although found it a little repetitive.
Still good to finish the trilogy.
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This one is a review book, at first I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but it ended up being a very interesting read. Review will follow.
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What I am reading now:

Just started listening to…

And reading

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Up next:

 

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Review

The Things We Keep Sally Hepworth

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The Things We Keep
Sally Hepworth
Published: St Martin’s Press
Date: January 19th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
4.5 starsAdd to Goodreads

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there’s just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

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The story of two young people with early onset alzheimers. It breaks my heart to read such a story, but warms it at the same time. 
It is also the story of Eve and her recovery from a husband who has through shady financial dealings deprived Eve and her daughter of their home and through a subsequent action  –  a husband and father.  Through his financial dealings he has left many others penniless  as well. One of those awful stories you read about in the paper. In this story we catch a glimpse of those left behind dealing with the fall out. 
Being robbed of memory, life as one might expect – so many losses and most of all the loss of dignity – being treated as if you aren’t there. Carers who don’t really care and treat you not like the person you are. Being left in the hands of people who are mostly trustworthy but what of those who are not? However thank goodness for those with the eye of compassion and realisation of what really matters. My heart also went out to Jack (Anna’s brother) and his family as they struggle to find their way through Anna’s illness.
I liked the varying points of view – especially that of Anna before she loses her memory considerably. It adds a sadness and a realisation of the person lost in the illness.  It also gives us the truth, the truth that other characters don’t have. Eve who has had a huge challenge thrown at her, but brings a compassionate pair of eyes to the situation at Rosalind Home. Clementine the daughter of Eve – the eye of innocence and charm that can relate to the people of the home in a way others can’t and also experiences the cruelty of the school playground. And must struggle with the loss of her father and who he was for her.
I disliked Eric the manager of Rosalind House from the get go and have to admit, suspected him of more than what he finally is brought down for.

Once I started reading this book I had to keep going, I felt sad as I reached the final page, and yet thankful for the gift of the story.

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Review

The Secrets of Midwives. Sally Hepworth

The Secrets of Midwives book cover

The Secrets of Midwives
Sally Hepworth
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Date: 10th February 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

THE SECRETS OF MIDWIVES tells the story of three generations of women devoted to delivering new life into the world—and the secrets they keep that threaten to change their own lives forever. Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy—including the identity of the baby’s father— hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back 60 years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s—a secret which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

My thoughts
The Secret of Midwives by Sally Hepworth was a book I just wanted to keep reading until I reluctantly came to the end.  The story is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Floss is the mother of Grace and the grandmother of Neva. Each woman narrates the story and gradually the details unfold. Floss arrived from Britain to the United States in the 1950’s with her baby daughter Grace.  She always told Grace that her daddy had died before she was born in an accident. Grace always felt she missed out with the absence of a father.  So when Neva – Grace’s daughter is discovered to be pregnant – in her seventh month and then won’t reveal the name of the father, Grace is upset because again this baby will grow up without a father.
Each of the women face challenges – firstly how they relate to each other and how they trust or perhaps at times distrust each other.  Although when it ultimately counts these three women come together in a time honoured way and manage something miraculous.  As well as relationships with each other there are the relationships with their partners.  How does Floss include her partner Lil in all the family happenings and can she share her truth with her?  Grace and her husband Robert are going through a rough time, with work issues and personal issues.  Then Neva is not willing to reveal her baby’s father, there is gossip at work and she has someone with whom she connects with, feels an attraction for yet there seems to be things that just get in the way.
Each woman’s story and journey was engaging and wonderful.  They are all knowledgeable and skilled in their loved work – being midwives, even though Floss is now retired her experience and knowledge still counts very much.  I loved how Lil first got to meet Floss.  I loved how all three women were linked by the connection to the miracle of birth. I loved how as the story unfolds they all grow and develop and how truth, love and family all win out in the end.
4 stars
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