Book Connections, Review

Five Favourite Author Books in 2019


Favourite authors are authors I’ll always buy their books, or most likely pre-order them so they arrive soon after publishing date. Most of them don’t appear in our shops at all or take a week to get there. I did win Under Currents which was very nice. I love a win, who doesn’t! However Nora won’t lose out because I’ll buy the audiobook for my sister as she is a fan too.

Book Cover Nalini Singh is one of my favourite authors from recent years – like the last decade! Her Psy/Changeling paranormal series is the one of hers I enjoy the most. Wolf Dance takes us back to San Francisco and the wolves den, plus the emergence of a new kind of E Psy. I loved the warmth and wit, the catch up with past characters, and the dual between darkness and goodness. Plus two new main characters who were such fun and of course had good sparks flying between them. Memory is one gutsy heroine and I loved her nose to nose encounters with Alexei the wolf changeling. Five stars from me of course. Ouch I want the June 2020 book now. Thinking I might go back and start rereading this series via audio.

book coverThere is no doubt about it – Nora Roberts knows how to write great romantic suspense. There are times of intensity and times of a wonderful family, friendships blossoming and gardens getting big time makeovers. I loved how both Darby and Zane overcome the awful things life has dealt them. Darby’s ninja skills especially were something to admire for sure. Zod the dog – what a darling. Britt – Zanes’s sister, another strong woman. So much to love and cheer for, so much to be sad about. Five stars from this reader.

book coverOne sister disappears, the other – Ryan, is called upon to take care of two girls – seven and five, who seem shell shocked and withdrawn. Add in one parent who is working out on a submarine and rarely heard of. The grandparents have their own stress with Ryan’s dad having had a heart operation. The sister who has disappeared seems to be key to the whole family situation.  A mystery that slowly unravels and a family that eventually realigns itself. Very engaging read.

book coverAh, Kristan Higgins can sure write a book! Such a mix of characters, some strong – some weak. What a great mother Emma is, Riley such a delightful teen. And yes to Tess! I think she is a rampaging 2/3 year old. What havoc she caused, would love to see her as a teen and young woman! For another character – what is it like to carry a secret that scars for life? We see what it is to be a great Dad, and a terrible Dad. Great story, full of emotion, sadness and joy, some humour – the trademark of KH. And by mistake I ordered two of these books – just too overly keen!

book cover I enjoyed this latest novel of Wendy Wax. I liked the author angle, showing the tough world of publishing and having to produce. And then there is  the angst of falling out with your best friend. That happens!  Mother / daughter relationships also feature. They too have a wonderful relationship but what about if there is a secret lurking in there? All the main characters are flawed, in a very realistic, relatable way. There is struggle, and  forgiveness is not easily extended. And I loved the photo at the front of the book of Wendy Wax’s aunt in a stunning wedding dress. I can see how a story needed to be written!


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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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This past week I finished another lap quilt that I gave as a gift to a very dear friend who taught with me for many years. She has just received some bad health news so it was good that I had already started making it and had it ready. Of course it was book related and had “covers” on the books of her gifts, talents, travels, projects she set her class etc. And books read to classes over the years.

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And this is her cat Poppy, that she rescued from the SPCA. Evidently the cat never sleeps on the couch but when the quilt was placed there she decided to sleep on it all day! It has a lovely cuddle fleece on the back which hopefully will be warm and nice to snooze under. For Francey, not the cat!

quilt and cat photo


What I read last week:

I had a great week of reading, enjoyed all three books. And the one I am reading now is good too.

What I am reading now:

I had just finished my last book when this arrived in the post, and it seemed just what I wanted to read. In the same post came a second copy. I’d ordered it twice without realising. So I guess someone will find that passed on to them. Not a bad thing as Kristan Higgins is always a good read.


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Up next:

I like to  free wheel my reading in August so haven’t decided what I’ll pick up next. 

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Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax

Book coverPublished:Berkley
Date:  April 2018
Format: Paperback
Pages: 391
Genre: Mainstream Fiction

Rating 4.5 stars
Goodreads callout

Forced to rent out or lose their beloved Bella Flora after the loss of their renovation-turned-reality-TV show Do Over, Maddie, Nikki, Avery, Kyra, and Bitsy move into cottages at the Sunshine Hotel and Beach Club believing the worst is over. Only to discover just how uncertain their futures really are.
Maddie struggles with the challenges of dating a rock star whose career has come roaring back to life while Nikki faces the daunting realities of mothering twins at forty-seven. Avery buries herself in a tiny home build in an attempt to dodge commitment issues, and Kyra battles to protect her son from the Hollywood world she once dreamed of joining. And Bitsy is about to find out whether the rewards of seeking revenge will outweigh the risks.


I close Best Beach Ever by Wendy Wax with a sigh of satisfaction. I’ve had a few laugh out moments, wiped a tear away and generally loved being back with the women who form this strongly forged band of friendship.

So Maddie is still with rock star Will and finding her way in that relationship, and how will it affect her life at Mermaid Point and her beloved Kyra and Dustin.

Krya meanwhile is coping with being on the set of a movie with Dustin who as a four year old is playing the part of a son who is kidnapped. There is plenty of tension on the set, because of course the main stars and director are Dustin’s loved Dad and his wife Tonja.  Alongside that Troy the cameraman (of old) has turned up in a whole new way.

Nikki is coping with twins, or rather not coping, plus she isn’t happy about her weight gain and slow return of her body to its previous size. And… horror of horrors she has the perfect Nanny who could help all go smoothly, if only she could let her.

And as for Avery, she loves Chase but she is no way prepared to make a full commitment, and that makes Chase really disappointed and well… see what he gets up to.

Finally we have Bitsy, out to get her revenge on the husband who stole all her money and hived off with it and a girl friend. All I say is “Go Bitsy”. Finally she is getting up off the ground and taking a look at her situation.

You might have guessed this is a series and Best Beach Ever is #6. I’ve really enjoyed all of them, these women have certainly had many a challenge and together they’ve made it through.

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The House on Mermaid Point. Wendy Wax

The House on Mermaid Point

The House on Mermaid Point
Wendy Wax
Publisher: Berkley
Date: July 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 388
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Own book
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Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . .

My thoughts
The women we met first in Ten Beach Road and then in Ocean Beach are back.  It was every bit as enthralling reading about them in The House on Mermaid Point as it was the previous two times.
How things are changing since that first time we met them.  Maddie was having difficulties in her marriage back then, now she is single woman again, and growing in stature all the time.  She still has that wise, caring way about her, and she is also a woman to be reckoned with.  Don’t expect her to pick up what you drop anytime soon, those days are gone. Loved the growing relationship with William Hightower.
Deirdre and her daughter Avery are furthering their reconciliation – with many surprising developments along the way.  Kyra and Dustin are delightful as they have always been, Kyra is proving she is a good mother – and Dustin is charming.  Their story too develops with a surprising and wonderful revelation towards the end.  
The Do Over boss is as difficult as always and again is not out to make life easy for the women. However change is on the way! There are many challenges along the way – as a group and individually.  What will Nicole do – she has someone who loves her, but she is just so not willing to trust the idea of marriage again. 
Rich descriptive details bring the setting alive, the character development was deeply satisfying, and while every little detail was not tidied up and made into ‘happily ever after’, each woman was on a satisfying journey and the place they found themselves in was perfect for now.
5 stars

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax

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While We Were Watching Downton Abbey
Wendy Wax
Published: Berkley 2013
Format: Kindle Edition 384 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: own book

When the concierge of The Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and—even more unexpectedly—with each other…

Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money—for herself and for her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.

Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old world charm of The Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all.

And then there’s Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She’s just starting to realize that it’s time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be.

For Samantha, Claire, Brooke—and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings—it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life’s hardest moments—all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.

My thoughts
I really enjoyed this book and it was quickly read.  The story of the three women held my interest all the way through.  One aspect of this book that really grabbed me was that we can’t always know what is really going on for a person or in a person.

Take Samantha for instance, she was seen as the rich women who had it all and too snooty to be interested in the ‘lower’ class of people. In actual fact Samantha is a warm hearted caring person, her only problem is that she has denied herself to take care of her brother and sister and takes responsibility for their welfare.  She has pushed back her own feelings and needs, always watching to see what is the ‘right thing to say and do’.  Her gradual awakening was a very important part of this book.

Claire is an author who has left her neighbourhood and moved into the city.  She spends her time staring at the blank page, unable to write the historical novel her publisher is expecting from her.  She is learning to cope with living alone as her daughter steps out into college life and more independence.  Her growing friendship with Samantha and Brooke is very important and eventually leads her to being able to form the printed word into a book – but not quite in the way she expected.

Brooke is a mother with a two young daughters, she has worked to put her husband through his study to become a plastic surgeon.  Now he has left her, for a woman who is willing to undergo the knife to look good.  I love the way that Brooke grows as the story unfolds, and the way she begins to stand up for herself.

These three women form a bond, they learn together what true friendship means, and how valuable such a friendship bond is.

Edward the concierge is a character to admire, it is he who helps these women truly find each other as they watch the first and second series of Downton Abbey.  Like many, I too enjoy watching Downton Abbey, and it was fun to remember this series through the eyes of the characters.

4 stars


Christmas at the Beach

Book Cover

Christmas At The Beach
Wendy Wax
Published: Penguin
Date: October 2013
Pages: 52 – Novella
Format: Kindle ebook
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Own copy.

Summary from Goodreads

When Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford, and Nicole Grant first gained ownership of Ten Beach Road, they didn’t realize that remodeling the house would not only bind their fates together but give them a second chance at rebuilding their lives.

Now, as Kyra, Madeline’s daughter, returns to the newly sold Bella Flora for one last Christmas, she’s hoping to get a brief respite from the paparazzi that constantly hounds her and the son she had with famous actor Daniel Deranian. But when a string of bad news threatens to disrupt her happy holidays, Bella Flora’s sanctuary may be threatened for all of the women who call it home…

My thoughts
This is a very short novella from the Ten Beach Road series.  I enjoyed it very much but…. it was far too short!  A tantalising tit bit!  I was caught out by the ending as it finished at 65 %.  I then found that there was a preview of The House on Mermaid Point, which will be published in 2014. I rarely, if ever read previews. I prefer to wait for the complete story… because of course it will be an auto buy.

This short novella is told from Kyra’s point of view, the videographer and daughter of Madeline.  Kyra has a delightful one year old son, by Daniel Deranium.  The whole group gather as they celebrate Christmas together.  There is an update of some of the groups lives, with a shock for Kyra on two fronts.  The new renovation is revealed, and the set up is complete. I like Kyra and I look forward to seeing the development of her character when the next book is published.

4 stars