September 23, 2016

Echoes of Family. Barbara Claypole White

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 27th September 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages:397
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars         Add to Goodreads
Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.

In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of 'what if' reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
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I looked forward to reading this book because I have loved the previous books I have read by Barbara Claypole White. And it did not disappoint! At first I was a little disoriented as I started to read. We meet Marianne - a woman who has to cope with a manic depressive illness. At the beginning of the story she is about to go into a full blown episode of mania. 

Marianne is a successful woman and a courageous one. Yet she has carried along with her a past that haunts her, and now is the time for her to confront it. She seems larger than life, very emotional - a little crazy! But she owns it. 

Darius her husband loves and supports Marianne, he is a passionate lover, a jealous one. And one who intends to not repeat any past mistakes - to be the kind of person Marianne needs. He is a little larger than life too.

Jade is the young woman Marianne 'adopted' when Jade was fifteen and has supported and loved ever since as her daughter. Jade too has her past, she is tough, hard working and totally delightful.

Gabriel is the vicar in a local parish in England. He and Marianne have a shared past and were friends for years. His careful life is totally disrupted when Marianne, Darius and Jade burst upon his quiet rectory life. On the surface Gabriel is controlled, the perfect vicar. But underneath there is turmoil. 

The story is told from the point of view of these main characters and I loved it all. I never disliked going from one to the other. It was perfect. All the characters are imperfect and I loved being with them as they journeyed, and I very reluctantly left them when they parted ways with me.

This is a story of family, of the burdens some carry from their past, of living with a mental illness. And that from the point of view of the person with the mental illness and those who love and support them and angst for them. It gave me insight and enabled me understand and open my heart to those who have the burden of such illness.
   keeper shelf< page turner well written book club worthy



September 21, 2016

The Art of Keeping Secrets. Rachael Johns

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Published: HQN Mira.
Date: 19th September
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 464
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 Stars

Add to Goodreads
They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.


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Racheal Johns has written an engaging and thought provoking book about three friends and the secrets they have unshared. They are really very involved in each others lives, yet they don't know everything that is going  on for each of them - yet. 

Three women - Felicity married to Seb, with two children, Zoe about to be married and  a seventeen year old son.  Seb is a loving attentive husband, the other two women Emma and Neve somewhat envy the happy married life. But what they don't know is that something is going down to change the relationship Felicity and Seb have. In spite of the love between them, it may not be enough.

Emma is a divorced women coping with three teenage children and an ex husband and his young wife that has replaced her. Max gives the children everything, and Emma struggles to work and pay the way of herself and the children with little support from the ex. And what is worse the stress is getting to her and headaches are plaguing every step she takes. 

Neve, has one son - Will. She has brought Will up alone, and now he wants to know who is father is. The trouble is she has told Will his father did not want him, however now she is faced with having to face up to the man she has never told that he has a son. She is at risk of losing her son when he discovers the truth.

In turn the story focuses on each woman and the struggles she faces. However they are all very much there for each other, in spite of some differences of opinions.  And eventually secrets will out.  And when it is tough going they are there for each other. The theme of friendship is strong. 

Each woman must find her way forward for her, while friends are there for you, in the end each must take those brave steps on their own. While I don't want to give the plot away, other than to say its very on point, I'll just say that I was so delighted to see Felicity finally take the heartbreaking step that would ensure she stay true to herself.

Kudos to Rachael Johns for this book, exploring a topic that has only recently come to the fore a lot more.  Not telling what though, that would be to spoil the finding out.


September 19, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 19th September

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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 another week of reading and my last week was a good one and I am anticipating another one! I have been busy sewing too, I decided about a week ago to make a quilt for one of my sisters who is having a birthday next Monday, so scrambling a bit to get it done, even though it is only a small lap quilt. I had a knitting night out with friends as well, we are knitting another nativity set to raffle at a fund raising event at the school we used to teach at. I only opted to knit the sheep though this time!

I can hardly believe it but we go into daylight saving next weekend here in NZ. So lighter evenings coming up as Spring gets underway. We've had heaps of rain so in a way I guess that's good!  Made me lazy though about getting out for walks.

As I made room in my reading schedule this week for a book I'd bought recently I was enlightened by an author I like to follow ( Barbara Claypole White) on Facebook. She commented that she was delighted to be able to pick up a book of her own choice as she was all up to date with reading books that she was reading to write and author recommendation for. In my innocence I never thought of authors being tied by review books as we book bloggers often find ourselves.                     

What I read last week:

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What I am reading at present:

From my recently bought list I have managed to fit in Susan Elizabeth Phillips latest. Always an auto buy for me.
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And still listening to Delusions in Death by J. D. Robb

Up next:

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Posts from the last week:

Finding Libble   Deanna Lynn Sletten
Apprentice in Death   J. D. Robb
Always a Cowboy   Linda Lael Miller

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September 18, 2016

Finding Libbie. Deanna Lynn Sletten

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Published: Lake Union
Date: September 6th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 331
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher/Author via NetGalley
Rating:
3.5 stars          Add to Goodreads
Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.

In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.

Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

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While Finding Libbie starts in the present day, it soon moves make to the 1960's, to that time of the Vietnam war, when women mostly still stayed at home and didn't go to work. When some were bored and fell prey to drugs and alcohol. 

Libbie comes from one of the most wealthy families in the town. Her family or at least her mother places her value on wealth to measure worth. Her sister was someone I really disliked, she was a real stirrer of the pot. Libbie's dad was good, if somewhat indulgent and with the penchant to look for a life of turning a blind eye to what was going on in his home.

Jack was a hard working young man, in love with Libbie but as their life progressed he could see all was not right with Libbie. (They married so young - as  many did in those days.) So when Jack's daughter discovers that he was married before the marriage to her own mother she is very curious as to what happened to Libbie. As the reader I was too, what did she do in the intervening years? How did this fragile, anxious but sweet young woman fare?

It is Emily - Jack's daughter who when she learns of Libbie in her father's life spends time searching for her.  It is a time for her too to re-evaluate how her own life is panning out and whether  the man she is with, is right for her.

The story comes eventually to a heartwarming and moving conclusion. I was amused at how well all the threads of the story were detailed out in the epilogue. It is rare that that happens!

The story examines mental illness and the lack of understanding in the past that led to much suffering. It is a story of second chances and growing into a place of contentment and self fulfilment.

September 14, 2016

Always a Cowboy by Linda Lael Miller

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Published: HQN books
Date: August 30th 2016
Format:  e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Western Contemporary
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                    Add to Goodreads
Drake Carsonis the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can't deny the longing—and the challenge—she stirs in him.

Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals—and with ranchers. The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son. Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who's stealing the ranch mares. But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything—for both of them.

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Always a Cowboy is #2 in Linda Lael Miller's The Carson's of Mustang Creek, and is set within her books that take place in Biss County.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, a great addition to the series although there would be no problem picking up this book as a stand alone - the best of both worlds!

What drew me?

  • Linda Lael Miller knows her ranch and the animals on it. Right down from the wild stallion and its herd, to the ranch horses, mountain lion and faithful dogs.
  • The care of animals - wild and ranch. There is a respect for both and the needs of both. No just shoot on sight because you are a nuisance factor.
  • The beautiful Wyoming setting. Perfect for a cowboy type romance.
  • A gentle romance story, no big tension or angst. A great stand off at the beginning that was a fun hook though into the book.
  • The family that surrounds the main couple. We had met Drake's older brother and his choice of wife - Grace in the first book, and they are still very much about, with a nice little cameo advancement to their story. Then there is his younger brother Mace whose story no doubt will be next, and Blythe his mother. Blythe is terrific, if a little too much "let's get this romance on the road" style. Red a ranch hand and Harry the cook along with Grace's brother round out the strong family atmosphere.
  • The sense of community, they are not centre stage but they are there in the background and it was great just having a taste of some previously well loved characters doing what they do well.
While there was a nice rounding off to the book I felt a little more could have been made of the wild stallion and the mountain lion - there was scope to broaden it out a little. But happy reader anyway!

sense of community romantic western family


September 13, 2016

Apprentice in Death. J. D. Robb

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 6th September 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 375
Genre: Crime
Source: Thanks to Hachette NZ
Rating:
                           Add to Goodreads
The shots came quickly, silently, and with deadly accuracy. Within seconds, three people were dead at Central Park’s ice skating rink. There's a sniper loose on the streets of New York City, and Lieutenant Eve Dallas is about to face one of the toughest and most unsettling cases of her career.

Eve knows tha tonly a handfuul of people could have carried out such an audacious but professional hit. Even more disturbing: this expert in death has an accomplice. Someone is being trained in the science of killing - and they have a terrifying agenda of their own. With a city shaken to its core, Eve and her team are forced to hunt not one but two killers. Worse still - the talented young apprentice has developed an insatiable taste for murder....
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In #43 of the In Death series we find Eve and her team dealing with a long range laser rifle murderer. The book opens with a chilling killing at a ice skating rink. Soon Eve is asking why, who was the target among those who are dead and where did the shots come from?  And knowing Eve we know she is going to hunt down the answers and the murderer. However will she do it before that laser rifle is used again?

The story is all the more chilling because of the shootings we have seen on our TV screens in our world of today. In this science fiction story there is a deadly killer at work. It turns out it is an apprentice, and Eve is thrown into thinking about her own teachers and those she has mentored. However there is good and bad in the world and there is choice. Some choose to learn to foster good and some are so twisted and evil. 

With ruthlessness and objectivity Eve follows up on every detail, ready to put her own body on the line when necessary. She has her usual team there for support - especially Peabody and Roarke. She sets traps, makes wily use of some of her friends... and of course she gets her target. In a way it is formulaic, but each time it is clever and entertaining as we watch Eve at work.

I enjoyed seeing Eve being really aware of how important friendships have become for her, and when some of them are put in a little jeopardy it cuts to her heart. I also loved how the development of her new office at home rounds out and the continuing love of Roarke.

A little light relief is provided by little one year old Bella who totally adores her birthday gift from Eve and Roarke and who shows even as a one year old the goodness that can abide in a heart, in contrast to the deadly killer. 

Ah yes, J. D. Robb does it again.
crime kick ass heroine page turner action packed

September 12, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 12th September

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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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Welcome in everyone, hope your week went well. We had a bit a blast from the South Pole in the last week so it was light the fire and cozy up beside it, and I have to admit walking suffered because I wasn't willing to face into the southerly wind. However all sunshine today.  I have to admit that today I realised I hadn't pruned the roses yet. Getting a bit late for it. I seem to be neglecting the outside considerably. 

On Saturday I did visit a Craft and Quilt show which was interesting. Mostly modern quilts on show from Australia. Very clever, although I prefer the traditional ones myself.                                                          

What I read last week:

Two review books, both very enjoyable reads.

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And I finished listening to Breakaway. The first in the series and I look forward to continuing with it soon.

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What I am reading at present:

From the TBR shelf
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And I am about to start listening still to :
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Up next:

Review books - oh yes the Christmas books are appearing!
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Posts from the last week:

The Beekeeper's Secret    Josephine Moon
The Joyce Girl   Annabel Abbs

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