February 24, 2017

The House of Secrets. Sarra Manning

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 10th January 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 437
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thank you to Hachette NZ
Rating:
4.5 stars                     Add to Goodreads
Zoe and Win are trying to move forward with their marriage and put the raw memories of a recent tragedy behind them.

Their move into an almost derelict house in suburban London is the first step to moving on. Then Zoe finds an old suitcase full of letters, diaries, and press cuttings from the 1930's, belonging to a long-forgotten woman. And it contains something that strikes a chord with Zoe's own pain. She knows she won't be able to rest until she finds out the truth of this mysterious woman's fate.

My thoughts banner
House of Secrets is set in two time periods and follows the lives of two sets of people, with a link to a mystery house. Libby lives in 1936, she has lost a child through miscarriage and even worse has been deserted by the father and her husband. Zoe and her husband Win buy a house that was built in 1936 but never lived in. Now it is run down, full of dry rot but they have put in a bid and have won the house. 

Zoe finds a suitcase with baby clothes and letters and newspaper clippings that sets her off on a journey to find out about the mystery Libby and how the suitcase came to be left in the house. Zoe is in mourning, having too lost a child through an ectopic pregnancy, and almost lost her life as well. Since then things have not been that good between herself and Win and they are drifting apart. Zoe finds herself in tears, Win is his most controlling self and even takes off to stay with his mother because he can't cope.

The story of Libby unfolds as the book alternatively explores the life of Libby and then Zoe and Win. Libby has a tough time and she is a victim of her love for men who do not love her in return. However of the two men she turns to, one of them comes through for her and it enables her to start out on a new venture.  Zoe and Win have many challenges in their relationship and in renovating the house. And always to the fore, especially for Zoe is finding out about Libby, as she identifies with her, they share so many similarities that it is important to Zoe that things worked out for Libby.

I liked Libby and Zoe and Win, none of them are perfect, but they are very real and I was soon engrossed in the lives of all of them. The story linked really well between the two time periods and nothing was left hanging. Something I really appreciated after reading a book or two where things were "dropped" but never brought to resolution.  I liked the growth of the characters, it felt real and ended on a note of hope.

Well worth reading.
cover love new to me author page turer well written


February 21, 2017

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Katarina Bivald

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Published: Random House Audio
Date: 19th January 1916
Format:Audiobook
Narrator: Fiona Hardingham, Lorelei King
Length: 12 hrs  10 min
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Thanks to eStories 
Rating:
         Add to Goodreads
It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life--has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time--bravely decides to accept her unknown friend's invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home. . . Sara finds herself alone. And what choice do the inhabitants of Broken Wheel have but to take care of their bewildered tourist? And what choice does Sara have, faced with a town where nobody reads and her desire to honour her friend, but to set up the perfect bookshop with all the books she and Amy shared--from Yann Martel's Life of Pi to Iris Murdoch and Jo Nesbo, to Bridget Jones and Doug Coupland's All Families Are Psychotic, Little House on the Prairie And then watch as the townsfolk are, one by one, transformed in unexpected ways. . .


My thoughts banner
As I listened to The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend I fell in love with this funny little Iowa town where if we're being honest the inhabitants mostly didn't really read! As the farms have been sold off the town has fallen on poorer times and there isn't too much optimism around.

At the invitation of Amy, Sarah arrives from Sweden into their midst. Amy and herself have been correspondents over their love of books and has invited Sarah to the town. Only trouble is Amy has just died as Sarah arrives in time for the mourning.  The town takes Sarah under their wing and she finds she has to pay for nothing.

The people of Broken Wheel are a motley group, there is Caroline the church warden, right and proper who has a running feud with Grace over at the diner. There is George whose wife left him and whose job it is to drive Sarah around the town wherever she wants to go. George took to the bottle when his wife left with his daughter but now he seems to be pulling himself up. There is Jen who writes the newsletter and perhaps tries to write others lives. There is John, an African American who for the first time ever felt safe in Broken Wheel and he had a special relationship with Amy.  Then there is Tom and Andy, who are about the same age as Sarah.

What Sarah does by her very being there is to bring life and new hope to the town in ways she can't even understand and its all through books. As a reader I loved this aspect and enjoyed all the bookish references and Sarah's love for books.

We get to meet Amy through her letters which are peppered throughout the story. She too has a great love for books and also has little wisdoms and insights to share about both books and the people of the town.

I found it a warm, funny story that lent itself well to being presented in audio by the two narrators. One voice for Amy's letters and the other for telling the story and all the goings on in the town. They both narrated well, Lorelei King who presented Amy's voice sounded older and warmer and really brought Amy to life. Fiona Hardingham was pleasant and differentiated the voices of the ensemble cast enough to add interest.  There presentation made me really care for the characters. 

I received this audiobook from eStories. It was a site that I found easy to use.

eStories.com, an audiobook service allows customers to choose from over 80,000 bestselling titles and new releases.  You can get your first audiobook for free now.
Additionally, eStories:
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You may try it out by obtaining a  Free audiobooks trial


February 20, 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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I had a good week with lots of quilting and some reading! I have been learning to free motion quilt where the control is in my hands and foot rather than the sewing machine, its all about co-ordination and believe me is harder than driving. However as I learn I have been working on actual blocks rather than practice blocks so that I have a quilt at the end of it. Using up scraps I have from other quilts. 

Quilt as You Go means I can quilt small areas but then they have to be linked which I am doing now.
Two blocks linked
Two blocks linked.

Rows of quilt ready to be linked

And three rows of blocks linked, the rows still have to be linked, but first I have four more rows to link. Thanks to Leah Day for her excellent teaching.  I enjoy the challenge.

And summer finally showed a little of itself for a couple of days which was rather good!!
                                                         

What I read/finished last week:

I finished listening to The Chocolate Thief. It was a light fun listen set in Paris and involved lots of mouth watering chocolate. While I enjoyed it I won't continue with the series.
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From the TBR shelf I read and liked...
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Contemporary women's fiction that involved a new start, a serious health issue and a side dish of quilting. Enjoyed it. #1 in series and would go on for sure at some point to read the next one.

From the Review shelf
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Well if you've read this one set in WW11 you'll know what a roller coaster this one was. Review pending.

What I am reading at present:

From the TBR shelf one that has been there for quite some years. Woman betrayed by her husband as well as stealing money and putting the blame on his partner. Husband dead, partner out of prison and sure the ex wife has the money! Enjoying it, early days.
About to start listening to
The Shadow Sister. Will be very long so will be listening into next month I suspect. #3 in a series. The narrator has been changed so am hoping, The first one was meh in terms of narration so I read the second one.

Up next:

Been looking forward to this one for awhile. Part of a favourite series that has me captured. For review.
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And then it will be...
For review as well and anything I have read by her I have enjoyed. So promising reading week coming up!

Reviews from Last Week.

Echoes in Death   J. D. Robb

On Second Thought  Kristan Higgins



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February 16, 2017

Echoes in Death. J. D. Robb

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Published:  Hachette NZ
Date: February 7th 2017
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages:371
Genre: Suspense
Source:Thank you to Hachette NZ
Rating:
4.5 stars                   Add to Goodreads
New York at night. A young woman stumbles out on to a busy street - right in front of Lieutenant Eve Dallas and husband Roarke. Her name is Daphne Strazza, and she has been brutally assaulted. Confused and traumatised, she manages to tell them one thing. Her attacker wore a devil's mask.

As Eve investigates this shocking case, she soon discovers a disturbing pattern. Someone is preying on wealthy couples, subjecting them to a cruel and terrifying ordeal. Worse still, the attacks are escalating in violence and depraved theatricality. Eve and her team are now in a race against time to find the man behind the mask - before he strikes again. But for Eve, this case in particular has unsettling echoes of her own troubled past...


My thoughts banner
Echoes in Death is #44 in the series. It seems an awful lot but every book is excellent as we watch Eve Dallas, Roarke and Eve's team go in to bat for those who have been murdered.

Every story is different, yet there is often a very egotistical killer, and this one has an ego the size of a city. Yet he in the end is no match for Eve as she carefully builds the details to bring him down. The young woman Eve and Roarke find  - Daphne - awakens in Eve memories of her own experiences and it seems to me that she is learning to deal and move on. She has the love of Roarke, her main support. And of course she is a strong woman. However her past experience helps her walk in the shoes of Daphne and understand her like no other cop would be able to.  

There is the usual banter between friends, the fun of the others on the team seeing Eve's new work space at home and Eve's own enjoyment of it. Somerset is a little in the background this time but he's there and so is the cat, another little bulwark for Eve.

The murders are different to any others J. D. Robb has come up with, she has an amazing ability to set up a murderer and his motives, reveal his warped mind and then unravel them all through Eve. This murderer like all the other ones really, is very very unlikeable. There is a little twist at the end, I should have seen it coming but I didn't and loved how that was dealt with.

Peabody and Eve continue to work as a team and there are little indications that Peabody is growing more and more in stature and Eve is the best of leaders and teachers. She gives to Peabody before Peabody even realises she is taking a new step. 

Verdict: Thoroughly great yarn.




February 15, 2017

On Second Thought. Kristan Higgins

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Published: HQN Books
Date: 31st January 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
                  Add to Goodreads
Ainsley O'Leary is so ready to get married—she's even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn't anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who's already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan's death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and sometimes the people who step up aren't the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.


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On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins was a read that I couldn't put down. I came back to it any time I had, other things I thoroughly enjoy were put aside. I was totally hooked into this book, I laughed and at times a few tears slipped down from the sheer perfection of some of the relationships and how they worked out.

The book is told from the point of view of two sisters. Kate the older one, not long married to Nathan has found the love of her life and is hoping for a child, until the unthinkable happens and a freak accident takes him from her. She becomes the widow, encased in a grief locked inside her. Nathan's family are very much part of this story and the way the relationship with Kate develops is very interested - especially Kate's mother-in-law. 

Ainsley is the younger sister, they share the same father but not the same mother. However Candy has raised Ainsley and while Ainsley doesn't quite feel the love there, she finds a few surprises along the way.  Ainsley has been in a very long term relationship with Eric, the guy with the size of an ego that blinds him. He is a total ass. Ainsley is so kind and caring and loving she hasn't really seen him for who he really is.  When it all turns to custard it turns out Ainsley and Kate begin to share things never shared before and the development of their relationship is deeply satisfying.

I warmed very much to both sisters, perhaps Ainsley a little more at first, but both of them are wonderful women, finding their way together through tough times. There extended family provide extra entertainment and Gram Gram - Candy's mother and the girls grandmother is totally incorrigible and a load of fun.

While this book is more than romance there are a couple of wonderful guys also in the story who really 'get' the women and are there for them. 

On Second Thought was a delectable, delightful read - it hit all the right buttons for me, I was captivated by every part of it.

witty Heartfelt Keeper shelf page turner

February 13, 2017

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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!
a divide
Well as I sit here to start this post I feel like going outside to shoot a short video of the wind and rain that our summer brings again today. Oh we did see the sun a couple of times this week so I wouldn't forget what its like. However that said, I'd rather have it that the 48 degrees C that Sydney got yesterday.

I have been sewing a lot and really enjoying the whole learning experience of quilting. To be honest a little obsessive! My reading has taken a bit of a back seat really. And now I am about to brave the bad weather to go buy some more quilting thread and visit the library for a book I want to pick up. 
                                                         

What I read last week:

I enjoyed this story of women, friendship, love, marriage, loss and other challenges. It was well written and I look forward to reading on with this author.

I love the cover of this one and it really suits the book well. It is a dual time book - 1930's and today and includes a mystery about a house. It was done well and as a dual time book really worked. Review to follow.


I finished listening to this book - enjoyed it. Review to follow.


What I am reading at present:

From my Kindle TBR.... just about to start this one.


And still listening to The Chocolate Thief by Laura Florand.

Up next:

Posts from last week:
Staying For Good   Catherine Bybee
Who's Afraid Too    Maria Lewis
Always   Sarah Jio

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February 11, 2017

Always. Sarah Jio

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Published: Random House - Ballantine
Date: 7th February 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary Ficiton
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                       Add to Goodreads
While enjoying a romantic candlelit dinner with her fiance, Ryan, at one of Seattle's chicest restaurants, Kailey Crane can't believe her good fortune: She has a great job as a writer for the Herald and is now engaged to a guy who is perfect in nearly every way. As they leave the restaurant, Kailey spies a thin, bearded homeless man on the sidewalk. She approaches him to offer up her bag of leftovers, and is stunned when their eyes meet, then stricken to her very core: The man is the love of her life, Cade McAllister.

When Kailey met Cade ten years ago, their attraction was immediate and intense everything connected and felt "right." But it all ended suddenly, leaving Kailey devastated. Now the poor soul on the street is a faded version of her former beloved: His weathered and weary face is as handsome as Kailey remembers, but his mind has suffered in the intervening years. Over the next few weeks, Kailey helps Cade begin to piece his life together, something she initially keeps from Ryan. As she revisits her long-ago relationship, Kailey realizes that she must decide exactly what and whom she wants.
My thoughts banner
Always by Sarah Jio was a book I read through quickly because I needed to know what happened. In 2008 we have Kailey and Ryan, much in love and a really nice couple. She is a journalist and he is a big time wealthy developer.  They are perfect in every way except that their values seem to be somewhat misaligned. 

One day Kailey sees a homeless guy outside a restaurant and she gives him the food in her hand. When their eyes meet she recognises him and we are taken back to 1996 to the time when it was Kailey and Cade who were very much in love. So what has gone wrong? How did Cade a musical genius in terms of spotting the next great band and wealthy in his own right reach the place he is in now?  The element of mystery held me... wanting to know more.

Kailey has been for a long time interested in the homeless and has fought through her journalism to have their plight and rights recognised. And soon this is even more important to her as she seeks to find out what has happened. She begins a fight to help him regain his health and his rights.

I was most interested in the 2008 part because that was where the now was. The 1996 part that is woven into the story filled in the backstory of Kailey and Cade.  And they had been a perfect couple.

It is an emotional story of love. I really felt for Ryan as he was a good guy and he was in danger of losing someone precious to him. But Kailey and Cade had had that too and more. So in the end the ending was a little bittersweet.

I felt things wrapped up a little to easily and tidily, there were aspects of the story I would have liked to have been developed a little more but to discuss them would be to give the plot away. So I'll leave you to read and enjoy it as I did.
Quote from Always.



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