Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Comfort of Fences by Stacy Overman Morrison - Review & Giveaway

Genre: Contemporary/Women's Fiction
Publication Date: 17th October 2013
Pages: 244
Book Source: Virtual Author Book Tours

Synopsis: Comfort of Fences explores the unconditional love between a trio of women: Ruth, the matriarch and builder of boundaries; Denise, her special-needs adult daughter with powerful secrets of her own; and Georgia, Ruth’s best friend and source of strength and practicality. The dynamics of their relationships expose the ironies that the people we love the most can also be the people we most underestimate and that the strongest of loves has nothing to do with romance.

My Thoughts: 
So much to love in Comfort of Fences ... for all the heartache there's just as much hilarity, it's one of those stories that makes you feel protected and loved, wrapped in a warm blanket. 

The relationship between mother, daughter and best friend made me laugh, cry and smile in recognition. Unconditional love, mistakes, joys, sorrows and - right or wrong, the barriers erected to protect ourselves and others. 

I console myself that Georgia's coming, and then smile. My white knight will not ride in on a white horse. My white knight is an old, red-haired, irreverent lady who always knows when to hold my hand and when to kick my butt. 

As Ruth writes her life story for her daughter, we are taken back to mid 1950's; Ruth falls pregnant, Ruth and Georgia become firm friends and Denise enters the world. It's an intimate and touching look at their lives, loves and losses. Fast forward, and Ruth's advancing cancer is viewed with honesty and humour as she hastily makes plans for her 52 year old daughter's future (over-protectiveness can be a double-edged sword.) Denise's underestimated resilience and strength is inspiring and I adored Georgia for her unwavering loyalty and snark. 

"Speaking of bodily functions, that reminds me. I brought you something." Georgia returns from the guest bedroom with two pair of gaudily sequinned adult diapers. "I figured when you have to wear these things, you might as well make a statement." 

Stacy Overman Morrison effortlessly captures uniquely-special female friendships and the strength of family ties.    

Wouldn't we all grow beautifully in big pastures with distant fences.

Connect with Stacy Overman Morrison






Giveaway:
I'm thrilled to offer readers the chance to win an eBook copy of COMFORT OF FENCES. To enter just leave a relevant comment or question for Stacy along with your email address. International!

Extra Entries: 
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 1st May and winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!


Monday, April 21, 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! 

Hope everyone who celebrates had a Happy Easter. My eldest son's work rotation lined up well with the Easter break so it was really nice to spend some time with him and Christine. Anthony's a merciless tease so there were lots of laughs over lunch on Saturday. And I made the best Sticky Date Pudding with Caramel Sauce ... might do a weekend cooking post about it, especially since I don't even like dates. haha

Here's a couple of cards I made ... the one I lost in my scrapbooking mess, for my best friend celebrating 30 years of marriage and one for my sister. It's mum's anniversary today ... 6 years and I miss her so very much. I know she's watching over us but I miss the fact she's not here to share all the special things happening in our lives. I still go to pick up the phone and tell her something I know will make her laugh. Mum was in the 2% that die from stage I melanoma ... timely for me to say, please get your skin checked!!  






#bookblogwalkers update #16: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers:  
Mon: 30min walk
Tue: no walk
Wed: 40min walk
Thurs: 40min walk
Fri: no walk
Sat: no walk
Sun: 1 hour walk in the city and then some night photography practice

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE SCANDALOUS DUCHESS by Anne O'Brien ~ the epic love story between Katherine Sywnford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

LADY OF THE ENGLISH by Elizabeth Chadwick (audiobook) 

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline (audiobook) ~ 5 star fave!! 

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Finished last week:

COMFORT OF FENCES by Stacy Overman Morrison ~ loved it! Review Wed.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain (audiobook) ~ rude, crude, drugs, sex, depravity, oh and food,  not for the faint-hearted but hilarious. 

THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY AND HARD TIMES by Sandra Worth ~ well worth the read even if you've watched the TV series Call the Midwife.  

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This Week's Reading List: 


THROUGH THE CRACKS by Honey Brown

FOUR FRIENDS by Robyn Carr

FROM THE FEET UP by Tanya Saad

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Reviews Coming:

THURSDAY'S CHILDREN by Nicci French ~ good but Frieda Klein wow she's a hardass

SIX YEARS by Harlan Coben (audiobook) ~ good audio, not my favourite Coben

THE PRINCESS OF EGYPT MUST DIE by Stephanie Drey ~ novelette. This was really good, can't wait for full length novel. 

WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY by Wendy Wax (audiobook) ~ loved the story and the narration.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Scandalous Duchess by Anne O'Brien

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 6th March 2014
Pages: 410
Book Source: Harlequin Mira

Synopsis: If you will be a great man’s mistress you must pay the price...

1372, The Savoy. Widow Lady Katherine Swynford presents herself for a role in the household of merciless royal prince John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, hoping to end her destitution. But the Duke’s scandalous proposition leaves her life of pious integrity reeling...

Seduced by the glare of royal adoration, Katherine becomes John’s mistress. She will leave behind everything she has stood for to play second fiddle to his young wife and ruthless ambition. She will live in the shadows of the most powerful man in England in the hope of a love greater than propriety. 

But soon the court whispers – whore, harlot, vile temptress – reach the ears of not just John’s bride but his most dangerous political enemies. As the Plantagenet prince is accused of bringing England to its knees, who better to blame than shameless she-devil Katherine Swynford? Dragged from the shadows, Katherine must answer for her sins.

My Thoughts:
One of the greatest love stories, the 25 year affair and eventual marriage of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, younger son of King Edward III. 

The story isn't new to me, I read the classic, Anya Seton's Katherine quite a few years ago and was excited to read Anne O'Brien's take on things. There's little documented of Katherine which offers an author quite a bit of freedom but Anne O'Brien grounds this fictionalised story firmly in historical events; The Black Death, the Peasants' Revolt, The Hundred Years' War.

I was once again surprised that John & Katherine's longstanding, passionate affair didn't elicit more sympathy from me, for John's wife, Constance of Castile. But, no attacks of conscience here. For me, great love definitely won over strategic alliance. 

John was one of the most charismatic and influential men of his time ... I'd have had a hard time refusing his mistress offer, even fearing for my reputation and mortal soul. HA 

John and Katherine had four 'Beaufort' children together, legitimised after their marriage, and from their descendants came the Royal Houses of York and Tudor ... a very significant couple to dynastic England.  

Through political unrest, public scandal, great shame, separation and sorrow, their love stood the test of time. 

Connect with Anne O'Brien 


Monday, April 14, 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! 



My first grandchild is due in about 10 weeks so we're all getting very excited and I've been having fun doing Nonna things, making beanie's and cot blankets ... aren't the bright colours you can get in polar fleece these days just gorgeous? It's also nice to have an excuse to buy children's books again. Guess How Much I Love You was a favourite when my boys were little and now I've got a copy to give to Anthony & Christine to read to their baby.  


Easter this weekend. We'll be staying home, maybe painting, getting ready for new carpet to be layed in the main bedroom. It's what-was-I-thinking blue and about 14 years old ... so definitely time for a change. 
Hopefully more reading time since there wasn't much time for that last week and I'm dying to see Divergent! 
Do you have any plans? 


#bookblogwalkers update #15: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers:  I ran a bit and I didn't die ;)
Mon: 30min walk
Tue: no walk
Wed: 40min walk/5min run
Thurs: 30min walk/5min run
Fri: 40min walk
Sat: no walk
Sun: 40min walk on the beach in the drizzly rain

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

LADY OF THE ENGLISH by Elizabeth Chadwick (audiobook) 

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline (audiobook) ~ 5 star fave!! 

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Finished last week:

THE SCANDALOUS DUCHESS by Anne O'Brien ~ enjoyable. Review Tue 

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This Week's Reading List: 


COMFORT OF FENCES by Stacy Overman Morrison ~ page 65

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain (audiobook) 50% done. 

FOUR FRIENDS by Robyn Carr

THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY AND HARD TIMES by Sandra Worth ~ page 140 but on the back burner til I finish review books.

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Reviews Coming:

THURSDAY'S CHILDREN by Nicci French ~ good but Frieda Klein wow she's a hardass

SIX YEARS by Harlan Coben (audiobook) ~ good audio, not my favourite Coben

THE PRINCESS OF EGYPT MUST DIE by Stephanie Drey ~ novelette. This was really good, can't wait for full length novel. 

WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY by Wendy Wax (audiobook) ~ loved the story and the narration.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: Lady of the English by Elizabeth Chadwick

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1st July 2012
Time: 16hrs 59mins
Narrator: Patience Tomlinson
Book Source: Own audio

Synopsis: Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry's widowed queen and Matilda's stepmother, is now married to William D'Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man's word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall ...What price for a crown? What does it cost to be 'Lady of the English'?

My Thoughts: 
I'm a total Elizabeth Chadwick fangirl. See my post about The Summer Queen (5 stars) on audio which inspired me to go with the audio of Lady of the English rather than read the book ... big mistake! 

No more audiobooks by this narrator ... ever! She yawned and talked. Repeatedly. Go on, try it ... see what I mean? I kept thinking, it's a one off, it's not so bad ... it wasn't a one off and it was that bad. 

Lady of the English focuses on the relationship/friendship between Matilda, heir of Henry I of England and Henry's second wife, Adeliza of Louvain. I knew nothing about Adeliza so I was really looking forward to her story. Following King Henry's death it was nice to know Adeliza was blessed with love and children in her subsequent marriage to William d'Aubigny. Matilda's cousin, Stephen of Blois (grandson of William the Conqueror) assumes the throne upon Henry's death but Matilda fights tooth and nail to reclaim what is rightfully hers. 

Despite my best efforts I seem to be incapable of writing an unbiased review ... just can't get past that spitting, jarring, harridan-like narration. My advice, check out reviews from readers who read the book and if you recently bought this one on audio ... get a refund. Quite frankly I'm pissed off that the narrator ruined my experience. 

Recommend: Not on audio

Connect with Elizabeth Chadwick




Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Genre: Historical/Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 2nd April 2013
Time/Pages: 8hrs 21mins/294
Narrator: Jessica Almasy, Suzanne Toren
Book Source: Own audio

Synopsis:  a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

My Thoughts: 
Put simply ... I adored Orphan Train and didn't want it to end! I've read quite a few fictionalised stories about the Orphan Train Movement, My Notorious Life by Kate Manning being one of the best. Orphan Train joins illustrious ranks on my favourite's bookshelf; its quiet strength and beauty just as compelling as the powerful, My Notorious Life. 

At almost 18, Molly has 50 hours of community service to complete for stealing a library book ... enter 91 year old Vivian Daly. Molly helps Vivian clean out her attic and becomes a vehicle for Vivian's story. Orphan Train seamlessly transitions between present day Maine and the early 1900's as the orphan trains take children from New York to the midwest and sadly, an uncertain life. Delicate layers peel away, revealing long kept secrets and a story that simultaneously breaks and warms your heart. 

As cliched as it sounds, what a joy it was to share Vivian's heartbreaking, courageous and inspirational journey and Molly & Vivian's unique connection. Narrated beautifully with such authenticity I felt like a participant in their rare friendship rather than an observer. I felt their losses, shared their joys, I laughed and cried and cheered as they both found a sense of belonging. 

To borrow words from The Homecoming of Samuel Lake (another favourite read) ... it's "enough to make your heart fill up and burst."

Recommend: A heartfelt yes ... don't wait! 




Connect with Christina Baker Kline






Monday, April 07, 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! 

Here's the layout I did at the charity scrap day. It was a really lovely kit to work with, (by the talented Sue Tonga) not too complicated, perfect for chatting and scrapping lol. I also made a card for a friend but I can't find it *sigh* 

Boys and I Gold Coast 9 years ago
gorgeous kit by Sue Tonga



#bookblogwalkers update #14: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers:  An improvement on last week, I walked 4 days out of 7. Thanks for the encouragement last week. Head over to Felicia's to commit to exercise in April.

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

SELDOM COME BY by Sherryl Caulfield ~ beautiful historical fiction, set in Newfoundland

SAFE HARBOUR by Helene Young ~ another unputdownable read.

HER KIND OF TROUBLE by Sarah Mayberry ~ guest review by Karen 5 stars

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Finished last week:

THURSDAY'S CHILDREN by Nicci French ~ good but Frieda Klein wow she's a hardass

SIX YEARS by Harlan Coben (audiobook) ~ good audio, not my favourite Coben

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This Week's Reading List: 


THE SCANDALOUS DUCHESS by Anne O'Brien ~ page 65

COMFORT OF FENCES by Stacy Overman Morrison

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL by Anthony Bourdain (audiobook)

THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY AND HARD TIMES by Sandra Worth ~ page 140 but on the back burner til I finish review books.

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Reviews Coming:

THE PRINCESS OF EGYPT MUST DIE by Stephanie Drey ~ novelette. This was really good, can't wait for full length novel. 

LADY OF THE ENGLISH by Elizabeth Chadwick (audiobook) ~ good but shame about the narrator. 

ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline (audiobook) ~ 5 star fave!! 

WHILE WE WERE WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY by Wendy Wax (audiobook) ~ loved the story and the narration.