March 22, 2017

If Not For You. Debbie Macomber

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Published:  Ballantine
Date: March 21st 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages:
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars         Add to Goodreads
If not for her loving but controlling parents, Beth Prudhomme might never have taken charge of her life and moved from her native Chicago to Portland, Oregon, where she’s reconnected with her spirited Aunt Sunshine and found a job as a high school music teacher.

If not for her friend Nichole, Beth would never have met Sam Carney, although first impressions have left Beth with serious doubts. Sam is everything Beth is not—and her parents’ worst nightmare: a tattooed auto mechanic who’s rough around the edges. Reserved and smart as a whip, Beth isn’t exactly Sam’s usual beer-drinking, pool-playing type of woman, either.


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I loved the prologue which whet my interest, and made me want to read on.  A little drama goes a long way!

The contrast of characters in Sam and Beth was interesting but not really surprising.    Sam might seem a little rough with his tattoo, long hair and  strong language.  But he is loved by a couple of children which is kind of telling.  His values are good, although his head is a little mixed up as it turns out.

Beth is an  only child with a mother who is a bit of a snob and rather controlling.  Beth has to move to Portland to make her point that she is her own person, that she can stand on her own two feet, make choices for her life that will make her happy. Perhaps the choices will not earn her the approval of her mother, but then her mother's values are a little skewed.

I thought the apple does not fall far from the tree because Beth got into a little meddling herself. All done with the best of intentions but was she justified? Or did those people she set out to help heal, need her gentle prod. 

This is a rather straight forward romantic story, with interesting enough characters and a plot that moved along well and was all tied up very neatly at the end. A light, pleasant read.
If Not For You e card



March 20, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 20th March

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and 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 that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join them!
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Well the week passed quickly again. Some reading, some quilting, some thinking I'll clean the windows and then when I have accomplished that I can go order new curtains. Clean the windows first!  I also did a throw out for some of the books from my TBR shelf that I know I just won't read as my tastes have changed. So into a box to later go to a book fair for October.  And that made space to pick up books I will read off the floor and place them on to a shelf.

I also attended an opening for a new school, or my old school relocating to new buildings and premises. They had lovely weather for it and all went off well. I loved meeting up with past students who were now looking all very grown up and had returned for the opening by kind auspices of their high school.

I went to my nephew's wedding on Saturday which took place beside a local river mouth and as the weather again was very accommodating that went off really well too.

On Sunday we chopped down about two thirds of my lemon tree that had become overgrown, a spiky thing it is too. However I did insist we go walk on the beach  as it was such a lovely day, and many others had the same idea, making the best of the last of the summer weather. 
       

What I read last week:

Review book - an okay read, not her best I thought.
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Review book for April. Suffice to say here I liked it very much. 
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Just finished today from my recently bought shelf a Cathy Lamb book. I love her books but this one was real dark. What can be darker than child sexual abuse. I hated reading it, I loved reading it. I am distraught and you can see from what I picked up next to read I really needed something light and fun. 
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What I am reading at present:

Where else to go but Jill Shalvis....

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Listening:
Still listening to Etched in Bone. Gone off the boil with audio listening, got distracted by podcasts, but must get back to the book!

Up next:

I have great expectations for this review book as I loved her last year's book.
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After that I'll pick something from my TBR, not quite sure what yet.

Posts from last week.

A Letter From Italy Pamela Hart
Sweet Lake  Christine Nolfi


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March 16, 2017

A Letter From Italy Pamela Hart

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: March 14th 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 356
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source:Hachette NZ
Rating:
4.5 stars                    Add to Goodreads
1917, Italy. Australian journalist Rebecca Quinn is an unconventional woman. At the height of World War I, she has given up the safety of her Sydney home for the bloody battlefields of Europe, following her journalist husband to the frontline as a war correspondent in Italy.

Reporting the horrors of the Italian campaign, Rebecca finds herself thrown together with American-born Italian photographer Alessandro Panucci, and soon discovers another battleground every bit as dangerous and unpredictable: the human heart.


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A Letter From Italy is set in Italy during World War 1. Rebecca an Australian, has arrived with her husband Jack Quinn to report the war to an English and Australian newspaper. It is still a time when women news correspondents were really not in existence or not accepted. Rebecca comes from a family where women's rights were strong, her mother an active suffragette. The Italian attitude to women comes as both a bit of a shock and a challenge to Rebecca.

Rebecca is a strong woman, with flaws, but passionate about her work. She is determined to prove herself and report what she sees and hears about. She is relentless in her pursuit of what might make a news story and report to those at home what is going on. And she does so with a woman's heart and compassion.  Along the way she learns how her husband Jack is not all that she first thought, which brings out actually the best in her.

Along with Rebecca we meet Sandro, or Al as he is known back in New York. He is helping out his Nonna, Nonna Rosa a woman with a story of her own I am sure. Sandro has been unable to join the war efforts and up until now has struggled with it. But alongside Rebecca he finds something that he can accomplish and so participate in the war effort.

The story is really well told, small details make it feel like a factual, real account. We meet some of the actual heroes in that war and witness the pain and loss of the young men that went off to fight that war. 

As well Italy is brought to life, the countryside, the food, the people and their way of life at that time. 

Well worth the read.  Once begun hard to put down.

About the Author
Pamela is an award-winning author for adults and children. She has a Doctorate in Creative Arts from the University of Technology, Sydney. Under the name of Pamela Freeman she wrote the historical novel The Black Dress, which won the NSW Premier's History Prize for 2006. Pamela lives in Sydney, with her husband and their son, and teaches at the Australian Writers' Centre. A Letter From Italy is her thirtieth book.

Find her at her website Pamela Hart




March 14, 2017

Sweet Lake Christine Nolfi

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Published: Lake Union
Date: 28th February 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                    Add to Goodreads
Everyone in Sweet Lake, Ohio, wants her to muster all her business sense and return the Wayfair Inn to its former glory. Her parents hope she’ll forgive her scoundrel of a brother and reconcile the family. The eccentric Sweet Lake Sirens want her to open the inn—and her heart—to new possibilities. And her hilarious lifelong friends Jada and Cat are dropping none-too-subtle hints for her to ignite a romance with Daniel Kettering, the sexy attorney who’s been pining for her for years…


My thoughts banner
Sweet Lake is the first book in a new series by Christine Nolfi. Set in Ohio in a small town where everything went downhill in terms of work when Freddy Wayfair took off with most of the money from his family's account, leaving his sister Linnie to struggle on with the family inn.  Now she is working on a shoestring, has let many of the staff go, and because numbers are down at the inn, the whole town has lost business. Serious times.  Fortunately she has very good friends, a good man who has his eye on her and very loyal employees.

The Wayfair parents have retired and live in Florida. Linnie sends a little money to them as she can. She is the good girl, a hard worker, responsible, thinks of others and basically has been left "holding the baby".  Do her parents value her? Do they really love her? Because to me love involves respect and fairness and as the story progresses it seems to me they honestly don't. 

Life growing up in the Wayfair family was a little rough around the edges. There were many expectations put on the older brother Freddy, some of them quite tough. We briefly meet the mother, and my impression was of a woman I didn't really like. Her attitude annoyed me!

Freddy is gifted, harbors a few secrets, and acts without thinking at times. Hello! Taking all that money and not thinking of the consequences for all those people relying on the inn. I sort of had a love/hate approach to him. He is redeemable and circumstances surround, as Frances would be keen to point out.

Frances? One of the Sirens, a group of middle aged and elderly women who appear a little eccentric, and into new age stuff. However secret kindness is their catch cry and they rally to many a good cause and they see Linnie as a very good cause!

So as I read questions abounded.  Could Linnie take hold of her reins and stand up and speak up and go after what she really wants from life? Freddy did that to a large extent, but he too his a little tied to his parents wishes so how is he going to deal? 

This is a heart warming, humorous story.  It is well paced, has a variety of entertaining characters and some important issues to explore. A great start to a new series. 
thought provoking page turner romantic well written

March 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and 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 that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join them!
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Hope you have all had a good week. I have had my usual sewing and reading week. Very quiet week really.  Drizzly weather today, just been shopping for groceries for my Dad, and got a bit damp. 

                                                         

What I read last week:

I finished listening to this 18hr 36 min audiobook. It is the third in a series and I really enjoyed it. The narrator had been changed since the first book and was much improved. 
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I read Foxmask - a follow up to Wolfskin by Judith Marillier.  It was a long fantasy saga full of adventure and answers to what had happened to one of the characters from Wolfskin.  Happy to have read and enjoyed it.


I quickly read through When all the Girls Have Gone. It was a good romantic suspense and I really liked it. Was a borrow from the library. 


What I am reading at present:

A review book
So far seems to be a light romance book, won't take long to finish it I think.
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Started listening to... (one of the books I was looking forward to for 2017)
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Up next

For review
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Last Weeks Posts
A Million Little Things    Susan Mallery
All Summer Long   Dorothea Benton Frank

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March 9, 2017

A Million Little Things. Susan Mallery

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Published:
Date: February 28th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars                      Add to Goodreads
Zoe Saldivar is more than just single-she's ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it's up to her to stop living in isolation

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated-her first new friend is Jen's widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen's brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe's own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam's flustered, Jen's annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think "alone" doesn't sound so bad, after all
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A Million Little Things - #3 in Susan Mallery's Mischief Bay series, is a book I looked forward to from the time I knew it was in the pipeline. I had enjoyed the first two and was so ready to dive into the next one. And... it delighted me as much as the first two.

We have three women - Zoe, Jen and Pam. Zoe and Jen are friends, Zoe works from home and I loved the opening scene where she deals with a misbehaving ladder to the attic. Jen has a little guy who is perfect in every way, but... he isn't talking and she is worried. Surely by now that milestone should have been celebrated. Added to that she is hyper alert over every little germ and obsessive over organic food. In other words a bit of an uptight mess.  So much so it is impacting on her marriage and her friendship with Zoe.

We met Pam in the first book, a lively woman who had the sudden loss of her husband to deal with. She is Jen's mother and up until now has been worried about Jen and her anxiety over little Jack. However there is some likeness between mother and daughter, as Pam too has been a little on the anxious side. It becomes full blown when her son who she set up to get to know Zoe, meets a hiccup in his life that she just can't get her head around: she is in danger of losing her son if she can't give up her need to keep him safe.  Pam has until now had a good friendship with Zoe and Zoe kind of sees her as a mother figure, someone to go to as her own mother has died.

There are some great men in the book as well. Kirk is Jen's husband and he has taken on new work with the LAPD and has a new partner - Lucas, and Jen doesn't really approve of him. She has judged him on certain appearances and found him lacking. That changes through the story and it was one of the interesting aspects of proceedings. Steven - Pam's son is a great guy and I really liked him, he was strong minded and made his own decisions for happiness.

All in all I found this a very satisfying and enjoyable read. I liked the characters, their issues and the explorations of them. It was a perfect, light read.  Keep them coming Susan Mallery.
page turner favourite author Part of a series Keeper Shelf

March 7, 2017

All Summer Long Dorothea Benton Frank. TLC Book Tour

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Published: William Morrow
Date: March 7th 2017
Format:Paperback Reprint Edition
Pages: 400
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating:
4.5 stars                   Add to Goodreads
Filled with her trademark wit, poignant themes, and rich characters, the perennial New York Times bestselling author returns with a sensational novel that follows the travels of one couple though a tumultuous summer.

Dorothea Benton Frank’s magical stories take us deep into the heart of her beloved Carolina Lowcountry. In her novels, this lush landscape comes alive in all its vibrancy and color. She ignites all of our senses with her vivid descriptions of landscape and atmosphere. In her novels you hear the ocean washing the shore on different islands so profoundly that you can nearly hear the sea gulls squawking, too.This is a story of people whose lives are changing—a southern gentleman returning home to lead a more peaceful life and his talented New York wife who is not quite sure she is ready to make the transition. They are moving north to south, fast pace versus slow pace, downsizing. And while they are doing this, they are getting glimpses into other people’s lives over the course of a summer, holidays that will amuse, shock and transform them.

This irresistible story is home to captivating characters as funny, complicated, and real as our best friends—husbands and wives, mothers and daughters, friends and family who wrestle with the complexities, pain, and joys familiar to us all.

Finally, we’ll come to recognize the face of love, the kind that deepens and endures but only because one woman makes a tremendous leap of faith. That leap changes them all.


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Olivia - interior designer in NY who is on the brink of bankruptcy, she needs new clients to keep her business going, quite a hoarder, many expensive knick knacks.

Nick - husband, absent minded professor about to retire - moving to Sullivan's Island. doing up beach house bought by Olivia, so they are about to down size, which gladdens minimalist Nick's heart. Also happens to be anxious and a little OCD about hygiene on planes etc.
Nick and Olivia have their peccadilloes, yet they love each other and their relationship is strong. Both are principled people and they are really well matched.

Contrasted with them is the very wealthy Bob who has provided Olivia with much business due to the fact of his oft changing of the guard in terms of wives.  The present wife Maritza is someone who loves Bob but its obvious his eye is roving again. They have one very indulged four year old daughter and a nanny Ellen who is the object of the roving eye.  Along with them are the hangers on who surround Bob and live the life of the tedious rich. Some rather revolting on a catty level. 

It took me a little while to become wrapped up in this book, but once Maritza entered the story for some reason I became caught up in it and read the book in just over a day. Maritza might appear a little ordinary to some of those catty women, but when she stands she sure does it well.

I loved the exploration of does wealth bring happiness? Is lack of money going to bring unhappiness, what is true friendship and what makes a great marriage?  The range of settings was fun and I enjoyed visiting them all. There was the contrast of city and country life and the simple and the rich life.  Dorothea Benton Frank's writing brings them all very much alive.

I ended up loving this book and the characters in it, it was with great reluctance I closed the book at the end. 


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dorothea Benton Frank

About Dorothea Benton Frank

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband. Find her on the web at www.dotfrank.com, or like her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.







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