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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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What I read last week:

Enjoyed them all.  The Book Club was written almost 20 years ago but I had to read it with a title like that and written by Mary Alice Monroe.

What I am reading now:

I am reading this one because a reading challenge I am doing needed an animal in the title. I had already bought this so it fitted. I loved her books Girl in Times Square and The Bronze Horseman so I decided I’d try out this, first in a series. I see Paullina grew up in Russia and now lives in the USA.

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Listening to…

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Up next:

Review book and new to me author.

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Last Week’s Posts

Sunset Beach   Mary Kay Andrews

The Little Teashop on Main   Jodi Thomas

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#IMWAYR

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Into 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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Hope you all had a good week. Mine was. I did a variety of things like visit with family, visit with friends, went to craft night with friends, went to a Quilt show – read and may have done some basic housework!

What I read last week:

I finished listening to this audiobook – it was a reread, I loved it the first time and loved it in the audiobook version as well. So good

I also read

What I am reading now:

I am listening to this second one in this series. Listened to the first one awhile ago but should be okay.

I am reading a review book.

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Up next:

One from my recently bought shelf.

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Last Week’s Posts

The View from Alameda Island   Robyn Carr

April Reading in Review

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Review

How to Keep a Secret by Sarah Morgan

book coverPublished: HQ
Date: 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 462
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating of book

Goodreads callout

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant. Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

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Well what can I say! I loved this book for sure. It has all the elements I like. It is always hard to slot this kind of book into a genre. I’d like to say Women’s Fiction, which says to me it has a woman’s viewpoint, tackles some relevant to life issues and often contains a bit of a romantic element. All of which this book has in spades. But… then lots of readers don’t like the term Women’s Fiction, for very many valid reasons. So whatever!

This book is a departure for Sarah Morgan as she usually writes straight out contemporary romance, and I like her books in that genre too. However this is more and I salute her for it, and I wish with all my being she writes more books in this vein. Just some of the one liners alone will bring me back at some point to read this book.

It is about family, what goes right in it and what doesn’t and how when it doesn’t the choices and challenges it throws. Its about sisters, I loved both of them. Its certainly about mother/daughter relationships and that was an interesting exploration. I fell in love with Miss Teen Mack and her difficulties. Its about love strained, love lost and love found. And … secrets!

It is a stand alone book, so go for it.

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Review

My Top Books of 2016

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday was created and is  hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  
It is rather difficult to chose the top books of 2016 for me. So many good reads, although not necessarily outstanding reads. Some haven’t made the list but could easily have. I haven’t included audiobooks although some were fabulous. Thank you to all the authors who entertained me in 2016. I apologise that your book is not here, mainly because the post would just be far too long!
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This was my first book of the year and it turns out to be one of my top reads for 2016. It was fantasy and a real saga.  I was reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. I’ll be reading Foxmask in 2017, the follow up of this book. First time reading author Judith Marillier – New Zealand born and educated now living in Australia.

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I was impressed by this one and it was my first book by USA author Kristina McMorris. Historical fiction. The climax was tense and I wanted to close my eyes and jump a few pages! Perhaps it ended a little too tidily some might say, however I  found it very satisfying, and loved how the story circled around itself and even with one element having a bittersweet mirror image.

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Rachael Johns – Australian author produced two books in 2016 I loved, this was one of them.  Outback Sisters –  all that I love in a good romance novel. Add to that a good dose of rural Australia. There were plenty of little twists and turns, much drama and heartache, and of course love. If that wasn’t enough, I was also reminded of good times, when Rachael Johns mentioned The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) which took me off in a little indulgent reminiscence. And she also has two characters who love reading and love to discuss the books they read.

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Another Australian author I enjoyed. Historical fiction and debut novel. Set in the USA in the 1920’s. I loved the whole historical background and what it was like for women in those days. It was rather horrifying to read of some of the childbirth practices and attitudes prevalent in that time. A woman’s touch was certainly needed. penned an absorbing, clever book, with characters that came alive off the page. I enjoyed the drama, the humour, the sadness, the romance and the time period. Fantastic read. And totally adore the cover.

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I have come to love the romance books of UK author Sarah Morgan. Loved the #3 in the Puffin Island series. To my mind Sarah Morgan is tops at writing today’s romance stories. This one was charming and enchanting. Set in the winter wonderland of snow and Christmas – a wonderful backdrop. At first I was disappointed it wasn’t all on Puffin Island, but the English countryside was magical too. Loved the tension between the two main characters, the humour and the growing love. There was plenty of wisdom in the story and loved that too. Love her writing and the similes were often spot on. Perfection.

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Allegiance of Honour is #15 in this wonderful urban fantasy/paranormal series. I have loved every book in the series and this was another winner for me. As Nalini Singh (NZ author)  says it has an ensemble cast. Many of the characters from previous books are given updates on how life is going for them. As I love each and every one of these characters that was a delight for me. I took my time reading it. No skipping lines, I just wanted to savour it. Delicious!

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USA author J. R. Ward does it again. This soap drama series has intrigued me and the second one – this one – just left me wanting more of this dysfunctional family. I couldn’t wait to find out all the scandal that has gone on since last year’s book The Bourbon Kings. Of course I had to wait! A whole year, but it has passed and I eagerly began this book. I might even have peeked at the end – although it didn’t tell me that much. This is a book that you have to read every line because you just might miss something of one of the characters evolving story.

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I always love a new book from USA author Cathy Lamb. Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80’s where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA. While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part – how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

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Archangel’s Heartis #9 in the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. In this book the focus is back on Elena and Raphael and their ever maturing relationship. This time they are off to Morocco where the Luminata have called all the Cadre (the group of archangels who rule the world), because one of the Cadre – Lijuan ruler of China is missing. Is she dead? Hiding out? Or gone into a deep Sleep that lasts for centuries?
This book made me want to reread and reacquaint myself again with the whole series. It was an absorbing and emotional read. Every detail needs to be read, you can’t afford to skip a line, everything counts. Fabulous writing, satisfying reading, the very best!

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This was my first introduction to USA author Karen Rose and her romantic suspense. Every Dark Corner introduces Kate Coppola – an agent I just loved. Despite stress and a personal history that might have levelled another, Kate dedicates herself to helping others, working to save those caught in the nets of depravity.  I highly recommend you get to know her.  She sits within a 5 star read.
I have since gone on to read the first one in the series and have the next one as well. Then I will be all caught up and waiting for the next one in the Cinncinnati series.

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Ah…USA author Mary Alice Monroe. Another in her Lowcountry series. It was everything I love in a story and it was just so good to go back in Taylor’s life to when he first was discharged from the Marines, after experiencing a terrible explosion that left him shattered and suffering from PTSD. He can’t cope with returning to his family for Christmas, finds crowds threatening, and his family are bewildered and find it difficult to understand.
This is a beautifully written story, it sucked me in right from the beginning and I loved every word and minute of it. It is a perfect Christmas story and is linked with little quotes and references to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Review

Miracle on 5th Avenue. Sarah Morgan

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Published:HQN
Date: November 29th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                  Add to Goodreads

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

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With Miracle on 5th Avenue – we have #3 in the From Manhattan with Love series. It’s a story I have been anticipating with relish for awhile now, and so it was a pleasure to read about Eva and Lucas Blade. We’d met Eva before and knew her pretty well but Lucas was a treat in store for us. 
They’re both suffering loss, yet Eva has no one – no family at all, although what she hasn’t taken time to realise is that family doesn’t always have to be blood based. Her many close and not so close friends both adore and love her.
Lucas is trying to escape his interfering family (as he sees it). So while he is pretending to be in Vermont he is actually at home.  He is a writer with writer’s block, the book is due and there is not a word on the page, until enter Eva – sent by his Grandmother to decorate and cook so the place is all welcoming when he returns for Vermont. 
So this book is a slightly different version of meeting and being snowed in, because of course Lucas was home when Eva turned up, but it was too icy and snowy to leave. 
Eva is a romantic, she believes in love and living happily, even ever after. Lucas has past experience that tells him differently. Eva doesn’t like the dark thrillers that Lucas writes and would love to see a little love in there  to lighten things a little.   That horrifies Lucas! 
So there is a fun clash between the two, some tension and heat, and possibly coming up a love story and a happily ever after.
I enjoyed Eva and Lucas’ story and it ends deliciously. Can’t ask for more.
Review

Sunset in Central Park Sarah Morgan

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Published: Harlequin
Date: 30th August 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages:384
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars             Add to Goodreads

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents’ divorce, she’s seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that’s strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race…

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he’s known forever and doesn’t want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?

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Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan is #2 in the From Manhattan With Love trilogy. It is also linked to her Puffin Island series. That said you could read it as a stand alone, but like many a book in a series you would lose the richness and nuances of all the characters.
I again really enjoyed the story of Frankie and Matt, they’ve been friends for years as Frankie has been good friends with his sister Paige since childhood on Puffin Island. Matt I suspect has long had an eye for Frankie but she hasn’t been ready for a relationship. Her parents marriage broke up, she hasn’t seen her father since and her relationship with her mother is problematic. However life and Sarah Morgan conspire to bring Frankie and Matt together in a story so well told.
The pacing is great, if something is foreshadowed you the reader don’t have to wait for half the book to be read through before it happens. It moves along, never drags and plenty happens. I loved the visit back to Puffin Island to witness the wedding of Ryan and Emily, such a nice touch. If you are a Puffin Island fan, you’ll know how happy I was to return. Not so Frankie though, her memories of the place are not good, so don’t ask her to go back there.
I enjoyed seeing the business that Paige, Frankie and Eva have set up going from strength to strength. There friendship is strong. We get to glimpse Eva’s sadness and I can only anticipate a great Christmas romance coming up for her soon! I know it will be good.  
Of course things don’t all run smoothly for Frankie and Matt, but honesty, trust and good communication develop and that’s something that I like to see between the main couple in a romance story. Frankie is a strong heroine, she is independent and can take care of herself, she doesn’t need a man to rescue her, Matt is kind, compassionate and able to listen and wait.  
Very satisfying read.
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Review

Some Kind of Wonderful. Sarah Morgan

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Some Kind of Wonderful
Sarah Morgan
Published: Harlequin
Date: 29th December
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Add to Goodreads
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In Some Kind of Wonderful, Sarah Morgan returns us to Puffin Island for the second story in this series.  This time she takes up the story of Brittany  – an archaeologist returning to Puffin Island with broken wrist after falling into a hole because she was laughing so much. The Islanders are sympathetic towards her because Zack is back around the island, and they show it in their usual nosey but caring way. Zack and Brittany were married when she was eighteen. But only for ten days and then he walked out with a note on the pillowcase.


The Islanders are sympathetic towards her because Zack is back around the island, the man she was married to for ten days and then he walked out with a note on the pillowcase.
Zach’s early story drew me in, he was a poor abused kid, then Philip and his wife, who run the Puffin Island Camp took him on when he fell in love with flying, after Philip took him up in a plane. Zach has been touchy about others pitying him. He has learned that he can only rely on himself and that he can neither trust others nor himself to be worthy of trust. However he has set up a lucrative business for himself plus he helps out at the camp.
I loved how the story developed, with Brittany now ten years older and wiser. With Zach showing his true self, and his kind caring ways with children and animals. And ultimately his growth as the story progresses until he is at a place where he is ready to take the necessary steps to make a lot of people very happy, including himself.
Puffin Island is a delightful place, full of community spirit and beautiful beaches and forest. It’s a place any reader would most likely love to visit and even live. Sarah Morgan writes well, her small community romance stories are fast becoming one of my top favourites.
4 stars
Review

First Time in Forever. Sarah Morgan

First Time in Forever
Sarah Morgan
Published: Harlequin
Date: 24th February
Format: eARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Add to Goodreads

It’s been a summer of firsts for Emily Donovan. From becoming a stand-in mom to her niece Lizzie to arriving on Puffin Island, her life has become virtually unrecognizable. Between desperately safeguarding Lizzie and her overwhelming fear of the ocean—which surrounds her everywhere she goes!—Emily has lost count of the number of “just breathe” pep talks she’s given herself. And that’s before charismatic local yacht club owner Ryan Cooper kisses her…

Ryan knows all about secrets. And it’s clear that newcomer Emily—with her haunted eyes and the little girl she won’t let out of her sight—is hiding from something besides the crazy chemistry between them. So Ryan decides he’s going to make it his personal mission to help her unwind and enjoy the sparks! But can Puffin Island work its magic on Emily and get her to take the biggest leap of trust of all—putting her heart in someone else’s hands?

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First Time in Forever is the first in her new series set in Maine on a small off the coast place called Puffin Island.  I’ve read a few books recently set around this region and it is fast becoming a place I’d love to visit.  The island that Emily arrives at with her small niece Lizzie is a booming summer idyll but not so much in the winter.  Fortunately Emily arrives mid summer.  
Emily has only had Lizzie for a couple of weeks, her half sister has died and has left Lizzie’s care to Emily.  She and her sister have never been close so this is a surprise to Emily.  Now it is important to escape to some remote place because the media want to photograph Lizzie because her mother was in the movie business.  Emily has had a difficult upbringing, her mother was an alcoholic and was never there for her.  She took on responsibility at a young age and has been haunted by a very unfortunate accident that she feels was her fault.  So it is now very difficult for her to love, she holds herself back and doesn’t allow herself to get too involved.  Will Lizzie change all that?  Will Emily manage to give this little girl all she needs?
Ryan has been contacted by the owner of the cottage, Brittany, and asked him to keep an eye out for Emily and give her any support she needs.  Brittany, Emily and Skylar are very close friends and have often come to Castaway Cottage – where Emily now stays.  In the absence often of family support a strong friendship exists between these three. Ryan himself has a background that has led him to once fleeing the island to ‘do his own thing and be free’.  Now however he is back and owns a successful business on the island.  He does take Emily and Lizzie under his wing and helps them out in all kinds of ways.  But remember Emily is emotionally challenged and Ryan is responsibility challenged so there are many hiccups along the way.
It took me awhile to warm to the characters, but once I did, I enjoyed the ups and downs  very much. One of my favorite characters was Agnes the grandmother of Ryan – who just seemed to bond with Lizzie and she also had an adorable little dog that also took to Lizzie.  There were a variety of minor characters that I am sure will in their time become the main characters in their own books.  As that happens I do hope we keep up with the ones who have already had their time in the sun.  My favorite moment in the book was when all the islanders joined together to foil an unwelcome visitor to the island.  Small community, strong friendship, family and new beginnings, overcoming past fears, courage and trust and love – all found within the covers of this book.
4 stars
Review

Suddenly Last Summer. Sarah Morgan

Suddenly Last Summer.  Sarah Morgan

Suddenly Last Summer
Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin
Date: 24th June 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
My thoughts

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the reasons and the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine…

My thoughts
Suddenly Last Summer is the second book in the O’Neil brothers series.  It was the first book I have read by Sarah Morgan, and I have to say I did enjoy it very much.  It has all those things in common with family/small town series, that make them a satisfying read.  The values of family, friendship, welcome, passion and loyalty are at the heart of the story.
This is Sean’s story, okay I have to admit it would be a favorite with me because I like the medical elements in any story.  Sean has passion for his work, it’s important to him, he knows he works long hours and can’t expect to have a relationship where he will need to be committed.  He can’t, his patients need him and come first.  He is at odds somewhat with his family who run the Snow Crystal resort and doesn’t return home that often.  His grandfather has passion too, for Snow Crystal resort, and Sean has regrets and guilt tied to his grandfather.  How this plays out was a very satisfying part of the book.  Sean managed to stay true to himself, and learned along the way things were slightly different to what he had perceived.  
The best part of the book, where I got caught with that twinge to the heart was when Sam and his grandfather have an important conversation, and Sean heard the truth and shared his truth as well. He is able to say something he has never said before.
Elise, the chef, is the woman who has managed to attract Sam and has him going places he has never gone before.  Elise is like Sean, she is passionate about her work – and she does not want a committed relationship. Oh no, thank you very much!  Sean finds himself falling where he never fell before.  Elise loves his grandfather and wants Sean to reconcile with the old man.  Truth be told Sam and his grandfather are very alike.
This book has plenty of heart, endearing characters and a fun story line.  I am very much looking forward to the next brother’s story – Tyler, my guess is he is in for a big fall! Brothers!  I will also be backtracking to read the story of Jackson, Sean’s twin brother.  This book has that x factor, I liked and cared about the characters – all of them.
4 stars
The O’Neil Brothers
1. Sleigh Bells in the Snow
2. Sudddenly Last Summer
3. Maybe This Christmas – October 2014