Monday, October 20, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

On the home front:
Feeling better but the awful virus all the family seems to have had, is a tenacious one, damn it. Anyway ... packing, getting organised and having my precious granddaughter for a last sleepover has taken precedence. In other words ... bad blogger I am!  





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#bookblogwalkers update #39: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: love that so many of my friends are doing Felicia's challenge to move and get healthy. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

:( no walks with Bella but got lots of steps in shopping and getting organised for trip. There'll be lots of walks and castle stairs in England & Scotland. 

Mon: 15,000 steps
Tue: 8098 steps
Wed: 11,792 steps 
Thurs: 8392 steps
Fri: 9771 steps
Sat: 8665 steps
Sun: 5430 steps

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE BREWER'S TALE by Karen Brooks ~ fascinating read

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Finished last week:

THE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain ~ loved it 4.5 stars 

BIG LITTLE LIES by Lianne Moriarty (audiobook) ~ library borrowbox. Couldn't stand some of the mean-girl school mums to start with but but ended up really enjoying this one. 

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This Week's Reading List: 


apologies in advance to some of my favourite authors for reviews after publication ... they will get done, just later than I'd hoped.

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner (The Spymaster Chronicles #3) ~ 60% done and enjoying it, will finish on flight to UK ... how fitting.  

OUR KIND OF LOVE by Victoria Purman (Boys of Summer #3) 

THE WINTER CROWN by Elizabeth Chadwick (Eleanor of Aquitaine #2) ~ (audiobook) can't wait to listen to this one while travelling

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Reviews Coming: 

LARGER THAN LIFE by Jodi Picoult (novella prequel to Leaving Time) ~ excellent, made me cry

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: The Brewer's Tale by Karen Brooks

Title: The Brewer's Tale
Author: Karen Brooks
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1st October 2014
Pages: 532
Book Source: Harlequin Mira & NetGalley

Synopsis: It had been Mother's secret and mine, one passed down through the de Winter women for generations. I would ensure it was kept that way, until I was ready to pass it on.

When Anneke Sheldrake is forced to find a way to support her family after her father is lost at sea, she turns to the business by which her mother’s family once prospered: brewing ale. 

Armed with her Dutch mother’s recipes and a belief that anything would be better than the life her vindictive cousin has offered her, she makes a deal with her father’s aristocratic employer: Anneke has six months to succeed or not only will she lose the house but her family as well. 

Through her enterprise and determination, she inadvertently earns herself a deadly enemy. Threatened and held in contempt by those she once called friends, Anneke nonetheless thrives. But on the tail of success, tragedy follows and those closest to her pay the greatest price for her daring. 

Ashamed, grieving, and bearing a terrible secret, Anneke flees to London, determined to forge her own destiny. Will she be able to escape her past, and those whose only desire is to see her fail?

A compelling insight into the brewer’s craft, the strength of women, and the myriad forms love can take.

My Thoughts:
Fascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ...  from the fictional town of Elmham Lenn to Southwark, London and Gloucester and the world of ale-making. 

Anneke Sheldrake is such an interesting character, what she endures while establishing herself as a brewster, plagued by prejudice, sabotage and tragedy made for harrowing reading. I found the entire brewing process surprisingly fascinating ... ale, hops, beer, the ale crones, ale-conners, taxes, laws, fines, bizarre punishments and corruption. 

And what a wonderful cast of characters ... Betje, Adam, Captain Stoyan, Leander, Alyson; their fierce loyalty and unwavering friendship providing a beautiful sense of family and a lightness to balance out this story. I fell in love with them, especially Alyson, the feisty owner of the Swanne bathhouse, that woman had a heart of gold.  

To keep it spoiler free I won't mention the antagonist by name, I'll just say it's been a while since I've hated a character with such passion. ...would the evil bastard ever die?? Maybe it was simply a case of 50 pages too many ... 

The author's historical notes were a great bonus, I didn't pick up that Alyson was Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath and this is Karen Brooks' take on her life beyond The Canterbury Tales.  

All up The Brewer's Tale was a page turner, rich with historical detail and characters to love and hate. 


Connect with Karen Brooks

The Brewer's Tale




Monday, October 13, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

On the home front:
Knocked for six by a virus last week which lead to adjustments to my heart medication while I try to kick this thing. Annoying so close to our overseas trip but could be worse ... could have been this week. I'm a bit peeved that it cut into time with my granddaughter though. Mia and her mummy and daddy have been sick too but she's been a little trooper and a big dose of 'happy' for us. Now I'm freaking out about how much I've still got to do ... eek. 



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#bookblogwalkers update #38: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: love that so many of my friends are doing Felicia's challenge to move and get healthy. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Nothing happened here ... bed, lounge, bed :)

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ good narration, I love Barbara Erskine but this wasn't a favourite

OUTBACK GHOST by Rachael Johns (Bunyip Bay #3) ~ my favourite of the series 4.5 stars. 
Rachael has decided to write another book for this series so I'm very excited! 

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Finished last week:

THE BREWER'S TALE by Karen Brooks ~ fascinating read, pretty intense.

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This Week's Reading List:  maybe ... 

apologies in advance to some of my favourite authors if I don't get them read and reviewed on time ... they will get done, just later than I'd hoped.


THE SILENT SISTER by Diane Chamberlain ~ loving it and almost finished. 

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner (The Spymaster Chronicles #3)

BIG LITTLE LIES by Lianne Moriarty (audiobook) ~ library borrowbox. Only half-way through since I didn't walk this week.

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Reviews Coming: 

LARGER THAN LIFE by Jodi Picoult (novella prequel to Leaving Time) ~ excellent, made me cry.


Friday, October 10, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Darkest Hour by Barbara Erskine

Title: The Darkest Hour
Author: Barbara Erskine
Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 3rd July 2014
Time: 20hrs 25mins
Narrator: Sandra Duncan
Book Source: Own audio

Synopsis: Love is as uncertain and as untameable as war…

In the summer of 1940, most eyes are focused on the skies above the South of England. The battle for Britain has just begun. But young Evie Lucas has eyes for no-one but a dashing young pilot called Tony. Evie has a glittering career as an artist ahead of her but seems to be wasting her time sketching endless portraits of Tony. She wants his parents to have something to remember him by in case it all goes wrong in the war…

Seventy years later, and recently widowed art historian Lucy is trying to put the pieces of her life back together. And in order to do that, Lucy needs to uncover the mystery surrounding a painting in her home. But as she accidentally ends up stirring up a hornet’s nest of history which has been deliberately obliterated, Lucy finds herself in danger from people past and present who have no intention of letting an untold truth ever surface.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed The Darkest Hour but it's far from my favourite Barbara Erskine. It's my first time listening to Sandra Duncan, she did a wonderful job with narration and I'd certainly pick up something narrated by her again. I didn't give the 20+ hours a thought when I bought The Darkest Hour, I was only interested in getting into the latest from one of my favourite authors but if I'm being honest, this one dragged at times.   

The plot moves effortlessly and distinctly between WWII the Battle of Britain and the present day as art historian Lucy Standish delves into war artist Evie Lucas's mysterious past and gathers research for her biography.  

The time-slip tale is something Barbara Erskine does  exceptionally well and I was interested in both Evie and Lucy's story. The descriptions of airfields, raids, the pilots and their planes were well researched and evocative so I really enjoyed those scenes. 

However, I much prefer Barbara Erskine's ancient history 'hauntings' to the ghostly premise in The Darkest Hour ... this one just didn't have the same tragic or sinister pull.  

Recommend: enjoyable but too easily put down.

Connect with Barbara Erskine
Website
Twitter





Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Review: Outback Ghost by Rachael Johns

Title: Outback Ghost
Author: Rachael Johns
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Bunyip Bay #3
Publication Date: 1st October 2014
Pages: 343
Book Source: Harlequin Mira & NetGalley

Synopsis: Third-generation farmer Adam Burton has always tried to keep his family together, but twenty years after his little sister went missing from the family farm he’s losing hope. His dad has walked out, his mum is as reclusive as ever and he still blames himself for his sister’s disappearance.

When Stella Reynolds and her young daughter arrive from the big smoke to stay at the holiday cottage on their farm for the summer, Adam is immediately attracted to the beautiful single mum. Although he’s always steered clear of children and doesn’t believe he deserves love or a family of his own, he finds himself spending time with Stella and her young daughter, Heidi, and enjoying it.

As the twenty-year old mystery begins to unravel, Stella wonders if she should take her daughter and run. But doing so is easier said than done, because Stella just might be falling in love with Bunyip Bay and a gorgeous, but hurting, farmer.

My Thoughts:
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much more to love in Outback Ghost ... depth, layers, grief, loss, community; it's a really touching read. 

I've felt for the Burton family since the disappearance of Adam Burton's young sister was first mentioned in Outback Dreams. When single mum Stella books the holiday cottage on Adam's farm to enjoy a much needed break and special time with her 7 year old daughter Heidi, the mystery slowly unravels. 

Adam and Stella, *sigh* I loved their interactions, their chemistry and I really loved that there were no miscommunication issues providing conflict and drama. I loved that Adam saw Stella as a package, the way he related to Heidi was just adorable. And last but not least, I loved the joy that Heidi brought to Adam's mother's life, what a special relationship between Heidi and Esther. 

'I've had sex' she told the cat proudly. 'Hot, messy, crazy, fabulous sex. With a man.' Not just any man but undoubtedly the hottest, sexiest man on the planet. Whiskers merely looked up and then turned her head and walked off in disgust.
'Might not be such a big thing for you,' Stella called out as the cat wandered back into the hallway, 'but this is monumental for me.'

The community really came together with love, support and acceptance in this final installment, a healing time ... and not just for the Burton family.  

Outback Ghost will have you teary, sighing and smiling ... I loved it and I'm sad to say goodbye to Bunyip Bay.


Connect with Rachael Johns


Monday, October 06, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

On the home front:
Trip to Goulburn for my Aunt's funeral, thanks everyone for the good wishes. Bittersweet ... great catching up with uncles, aunts and cousins (Dad is one of 8) but sad that big family get-togethers are often due to funerals. Since getting back I've not really been in the mood to blog (you might have noticed) ... so I haven't. Still working on the guilt side of things lol. It's a public holiday here today so I'm running behind but my mission now is to get back on track. 


Eilean Donan 
Photo by Mark Nicol

Lots of time with darling Mia again last week and hopefully more this week, trying to squeeze in as much as I can as there's only a bit over 2 weeks until I'm off to the UK and Scotland. So very blessed to be sharing a trip of a life time with my best friend and her daughter ... whoop whoop and I'm beyond excited to be visiting places I've been visiting in historical fiction reads for years and some I've only dreamed of. 


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#bookblogwalkers update #37: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: love that so many of my friends are doing Felicia's challenge to move and get healthy. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Mon: flight to  Canberra - airport walking (6839 steps) 
Tue:  flight Canberra to Sydney to Brisbane - airport walking (7888 steps)
Wed: walk with Bella (12,044 steps)
Thurs: no walk (6504 steps)
Fri: walk with Mia & Bella (12,146 steps) 
Sat: exercises at home (8025 steps)
Sun: shopping centre walk (11,560)

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Giveway Winners: emails on the way


SELDOM COME BY & COME WHAT MAY by Sherryl Caulfield ~ 

Congrats:
Rita H ~ Seldom Come By

Kathryn T ~ Come What May





BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth ~ Congrats to Katherine P










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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

not a thing 

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Finished last week:

zip, nothing, nada. 

My library borrow of Big Little Lies was corrupt so I didn't have an audiobook for flight. But all good now so I'm on it this week.

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This Week's Reading List:  


THE BREWER'S TALE by Karen Brooks ~ page 300 ... great read so far 

BIG LITTLE LIES by Lianne Moriarty (audiobook) ~ library borrowbox

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Reviews Coming: 

OUTBACK GHOST by Rachael Johns (Bunyip Bay #3) ~ my favourite of the series

LARGER THAN LIFE by Jodi Picoult (novella prequel to Leaving Time) ~ excellent, made me cry.

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ great, love Barbara Erskine



Monday, September 29, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


A weekly event hosted by Sheila from Book Journey to discuss your reading week ~ the books you've read and those you plan on reading in the coming week. I love this meme, it helps me stay on track ... well, most of the time. Thanks Sheila! 

On the home front: 
The Robbie Williams Swing Tour was amazing, he's such an entertainer. Quite a few old favourites, old songs from music greats like Sinatra and some new Robbie songs like Go Gentle, a promise to his daughter Teddy.  Angel is one of my all time favourite Robbie songs.


Today my dad and I are on our way to a family funeral interstate, my Aunt passed away a few short weeks after a diagnosis of Pancreatic cancer. Looking forward to seeing uncles, aunts and cousins, (dad is one of 8) but it's sad it isn't for a happy occasion. It's been a chaotic week arranging last minute flights and car hire but worth it to avoid a 30 hour drive. I won't be around much until later in the week. 


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#bookblogwalkers update #36: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: love that so many of my friends are doing Felicia's challenge to move and get healthy. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Boy did I work up a sweat carrying Mia on one of my walks, she's only little but it's amazing the difference an extra 5kg makes. She slept the whole way while I toughed it out lol

Mon: car trip to Toowoomba (4241 steps) 
Tue:  30 min walk (7283 steps)
Wed: no walk, exercises at home (8049 steps)
Thurs: 30 min walk with Bella &  15 min exercises (10,213 steps)
Fri: Huge day, 45 min walk with Mia & Bella (17,724 steps) 
Sat: 30 min walk with Bella (8202 steps)
Sun: busy day getting ready to travel to NSW (14,263 steps)


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Giveways: 


SELDOM COME BY & COME WHAT MAY by Sherryl Caulfield ~ Book 1 & 2 of the epic Iceberg Trilogy. 1 print copy of each and it's INTERNATIONAL. Enter hereLAST DAYS







BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth ~ 1 print copy. US only. Enter here
Historical fiction/Fairytale Re-telling. Pure magic! LAST DAYS









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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE by Randy Susan Meyers ~ intense, emotional, loved it!

IN YOUR DREAMS by Kristan Higgins (Blue Heron #4) ~ guest review by Karen, 5 stars

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Finished last week:

THE TIME OF SINGING by Elizabeth Chadwick (William Marshall #4) ~ enjoyable

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This Week's Reading List:  

THE BREWER'S TALE by Karen Brooks ~ page 75

BIG LITTLE LIES by Lianne Moriarty (audiobook) ~ library borrowbox

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Reviews Coming: 

OUTBACK GHOST by Rachael Johns (Bunyip Bay #3) ~ my favourite of the series

LARGER THAN LIFE by Jodi Picoult (novella prequel to Leaving Time) ~ excellent, made me cry.

THE DARKEST HOUR by Barbara Erskine (audiobook) ~ great, love Barbara Erskine