February 22, 2018

The Memories that Make Us. Vanessa Carnevale

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Published:Harlequin (Australia)
Date: 19th February 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                                    Add to Goodreads
Gracie Ashcroft is supposed to marry Blake Beaumont in three months’ time. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who he is…

After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fiancé Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm.

While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fiancé she so badly wants to fall in love with again. What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love. Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?
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Do memories really make us?  Well for Gracie that can't be true because she is involved in a car accident and loses her memory. She does not recognise anyone from her life or places, or how to do things or what she likes and doesn't like.  She has completely lost herself - or has she?

Gracie makes some courageous decisions once she recovers from the physical trauma. She refuses to see her fiance Blake, as she is fearful and wholly traumatised.  To her friend Scarlett, Gracie seems to be someone different.  What she once liked and was good at has all changed.  Gracie not wanting to see Blake makes sense to me, because just before the accident they were arguing and I thought maybe Gracie was going to end their relationship.  

Returning to her home out in the country from Melbourne, where while not realising it she grew up. Her mother had a flower farm which is now all run down. Gracie's mother died some time back but there are people who remember Gracie and help her as she decides what she wants to do.  Which as it turns out is to become involved with flowers - grow them, sell them, pick the perfect bunch to lift the heart of person receiving them.  It feels like she is finding some important part of herself.

While there, still refusing to meet up with Blake - she meets Flynn and his dog Parrot. He is often around and as time goes by Gracie finds herself attracted to him, yet guilty because she knows at some point she must face Blake.  

This is a gentle story of healing and love finding its way. Its about searching for your true self and being with the person you really want to be with, but also knowing who you really are first - deep down.

I wasn't too surprised by final revelations although I admit I had to go back to the prelude to see how I had been led to interpret in the way I did. I enjoyed that little "leading me up the garden path".

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February 20, 2018

The Tuscan Child. Rhys Bowen

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 20th February 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 329
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars               Add to Goodreads
In 1944, British bomber pilot Hugo Langley parachuted from his stricken plane into the verdant fields of German-occupied Tuscany. Badly wounded, he found refuge in a ruined monastery and in the arms of Sofia Bartoli. But the love that kindled between them was shaken by an irreversible betrayal.

Nearly thirty years later, Hugo’s estranged daughter, Joanna, has returned home to the English countryside to arrange her father’s funeral. Among his personal effects is an unopened letter addressed to Sofia. In it is a startling revelation.

Still dealing with the emotional wounds of her own personal trauma, Joanna embarks on a healing journey to Tuscany to understand her father’s history—and maybe come to understand herself as well. Joanna soon discovers that some would prefer the past be left undisturbed, but she has come too far to let go of her father’s secrets now…


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In the Tuscan Child Rhys Bowen has written a novel with a dual time line. One part is set in Tuscany during World War 11 time, where Hugo - an English pilot is forced to eject from his damaged plane. Badly injured he is helped by Sofia - a local young woman. She hides him in bombed monastery and carries food to him when she can.

As well we meet Joanna - Hugo's daughter, in 1973 returning home to Langley Hall on the sudden death of her father. She finds some items amongst his things that lead her on a journey to Tuscany to find answers to her questions.  From her we receive a picture of Hugo as an old defeated man, out of touch with his daughter. Yet in the mid 1940's we see a completely different Hugo.  

Mystery surrounds what went on in that small village during the war, how did Hugo and Sofia not end up together?  The town has one story but is that correct? Joanna finds welcome from some in the village but not from others. Her hostess is lovely and soon has her sampling all kinds of wonderful Tuscany cooking. Yet there seems to be something not quite right going on, a bad force at work. 

While Joanna finds the son of Sofia still alive - Renzo, it takes awhile for him to warm to her, however soon they are working together to find the answers Joanna is seeking about her father and his cryptic note he tried to send Sofia.

I enjoyed the Tuscany setting and the description of the food and people. Sofia was a warm, courageous young woman, Hugo a man changed by her, Joanna a daughter kept somewhat at arm's length but still with a connection to her father, that makes her determined to find out what went on here in San Salvatore during the war.  And the day of reckoning for some is about to take place.
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February 19, 2018

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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Hi everyone, hope you had a great reading week. I did indeed. Summer continues to roll on. They say bad weather is coming but not sure if we will feel the effects of the weakening cyclone here or not. Hoping not!                                                          

What I read last week:

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What I am reading at present:

I am about to start reading...
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And still listening to Sweet Tea and Sympathy by Molly Harper

Up next:

At this point in time I am not sure! I read I'll Be Your Blue Sky very quickly because I was liking it so much so I will have a little space from review books to choose one off my own shelf, but can't decide what just yet.  Or maybe I'll go to the library.

Last Weeks Posts
Hearts of Resistance   Soraya M. Lane

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February 14, 2018

Hearts of Resistance by Soraya Lane

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 10th January 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 324
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars                      Add to Goodreads
At the height of World War II, three women must come together to fight for freedom, for the men they love—and for each other. When Hazel is given the chance to parachute into Nazi-occupied France, she seizes the opportunity to do more for the British war effort than file paperwork.

Alongside her childhood friend, French-born Rose, she quickly rises up the ranks of the freedom fighters. For Rose, the Resistance is a link to her late husband, and a way to move forward without him. What starts out as helping downed airmen becomes a bigger cause when they meet Sophia, a German escapee and fierce critic of Hitler who is wanted by the Gestapo. Together the three women form a bond that will last a lifetime.

But amid the turmoil and tragedy of warfare, all three risk losing everything—and everyone—they hold dear. Will their united front be strong enough to see them through?


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Hearts of Resistance starts with a short prologue filled with danger that immediately starts me both worrying and asking questions about will these women survive? 

Then we are taken back in time and introduced one by one to three women, whom by the time the book finished I did not want to leave. Three women - one English, one German, one French and their lives are utterly changed by WW11.

There is Hazel - English - engaged and watching her fiance go off to war, and in an environment that did not believe women were capable of contributing significantly to the cause. Hazel will prove that wrong, once recruited by the SOE.

There is Sophia - a young German girl already helping Jewish people to escape from Berlin and hiding her Jewish boyfriend in her apartment. The horrors of the Nazi regime and her own father drive her from Germany and into the Resistance.

Finally Rose a young French woman married to her dearly loved husband and as the war carries on also finds herself by circumstance caught up in the covert operations against the Germans.

Eventually these three come together - work together - carry out mind and heart stopping work that really counts. They are highly trained, ready to kill if necessary and hugely passionate about the extremely dangerous work they do. Three powerful women.

These three women, while fictitious, do represent so many women who showed that they were very capable and courageous during this period of history.  Soraya M. Lane obviously researched this well, and she has presented an extremely wonderful tribute to these brave women.

I loved the strength of these three women and the bonds of friendship that they formed. While not always an easy read it was a very realistic and eye opening read. If you coped with Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale - you'll manage this one too.

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February 12, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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 I was away a few more days than I intended as on the final leg of my journey I overheated my car - badly! Out in the country unsure where I was, I was panicking a little,  quite a bit (although my sister and hubby were on the way) when a wonderful policeman pulled over and helped me sort things. He was so good, a dog handler, he even tried pouring some of the dog's water into my radiator! But it all poured out!  In the end the car was dead, had to be towed and short story is I bought a completely new one and drove home a few days later. Drama!  Even though my little yellow car was a 1992 I loved it. The new car is beautiful but,,,, its not yellow!  However it has all the latest safety features etc and probably won't break down! And I concede - the blue is a lovely shade of blue!

I had a lovely time away with my two sisters but it is nice to be back.                                                      

What I read last week:

I had two big reads really in the past week. The first was a somewhat dark, angsty read set in Alaska from Kristin Hannah. I fell into the camp that liked it - a 4.5 star read for me.
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The other one was an audiobook and I am so happy I went this way with reading this one as it was in my opinion the best narrated of the series. Some of the narrations have really annoyed me for this series, but not this made me happy.  Almost 20 hours long, I raced through it.  I loved the Australian setting.

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What I am reading at present:

I am about to start this review book, this is my first time reading this author.
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It has taken me over 2 hours just going through Audible trying to decide what I wanted to listen to next. When I finish listening to a good book sometimes nothing seems right for the next listen. In the end I went for one a few of my Goodreads friends had liked plus Katherine at I Wish I Lived in a Library.

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Up next:

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Last Weeks Posts
The Upside  Abdel Sellou
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February 6, 2018

The Upside: Abdel Sellou

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Published:Perseus Books, Weinstein Books
Date: February 6th 2018
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 224
Genre: Memoir
Source:Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley
Rating:
4 srars                  Add to Goodreads
The story of Abdel Sellou's surprising friendship with aristocrat Philippe Pozzo di Borgo has been told and retold around the world-most recently in the major motion picture with comedian and movie star Kevin Hart portraying Abdel and his edgy charm. In this appealing memoir, Sellou shows us the real man behind Kevin Hart's smiling face. The book takes us from his childhood spent stealing candy from the local grocery store, to his career as a pickpocket and scam artist, to his unexpected employment as a companion for a quadriplegic. Sellou tells his story with a stunning amount of talent, humor, style, and-though he denies that he has any-humility.


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I have not seen the documentary or the movie that have recounted some of Abdel Sellou's activities, however I didn't need to, reading The Upside was complete in itself. Although if I got the opportunity to ever view the other media I would.

I couldn't help but become fascinated by Abdel Sellou's story.  It would seem the world came to know him first as an aide to wealthy Phillippe Pozzo di Borgio -  a tetraplegic.  They are well suited to each other.  Abel Sellou is irreverent, fun-loving and sure to shake up the household. He arrived in France when he was four, given to an uncle and aunt as is often the custom in Algeria. 

He tells his story of those days - of how he learned to live on the streets, steal and break laws until the age of eighteen when he can be held responsible for his actions. And so he has a little stint in jail. If there is one word that describes this character for me - it is resilient. He may have escaped a formal education by mainly just not turning up, but in many other ways he was smart.

His childhood underlined for me what happens when a child has no boundaries and is allowed to do what he likes. His new parents loved him, but didn't know how to raise him, he raised himself. 

However his friendship with Phillippe Pozzo di Borgio gradually educates and grows Abel Sellou.  While this man is more in the background in the memoir, he himself is very inspiring. What abides with me as I finish the book is the power of a deep friendship that enriches two lives.

This memoir was well worth the read.


February 5, 2018

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 am away this week travelling up north to Rotorua so I won't be here to visit you all this week. I'll be back later in the week.                                          

What I read last week:

The Duchess was okay, although I found the telling of the story a little too much. This Must Be the Place  was very well written and told in an interesting structure that required me to keep track of all the jigsaw pieces.
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I listened to Still Me on audio and it was very well done on the whole. And I enjoyed it.

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What I am reading at present:

As soon as I saw this in the shop I had to buy it! I am only a little way in and not missing one word of it.  But no... I am not going to live in Alaska.

Just started listening to this one. Again I was going to borrow it from the library but a long waiting list and as I have a road journey I thought I'd get into this one while travelling.  I have at least 500 books in my wish list at Audible and I find it so hard to choose. Almost went for a reread.
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Up next:

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Last Weeks Posts
Reading Month in Review
Tempest   Beverly Jenkins
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