Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Review: Six Degrees by Honey Brown

Title: Six Degrees: The Power of Attraction Connects Us All 
Author: Honey Brown
Genre: Romance 
Publication Date: 1st August 2015
Pages: 269
Book Source: Jane Curry Publishing

Synopsis: Emotion, seduction and passion wind through six intricately connected stories, where strong Australian women embrace their most intimate desires, and the men are more than just their suit and tie. 

Apparent strangers are bound together by one tragic event, the effect of which is felt from the urban streets of Sydney to the dusty bars of Western Australia.

My Thoughts: 
I've had a love affair with Honey Brown or should I say her writing, since Dark Horse blew my mind and Through the Cracks had me tasting despair. They're darkly disturbing psychological thrillers. Six Degrees is a complete departure from her previous works but with the same expressive yet restrained style that grabs and keeps the pages turning. 

Knowing from the synopsis that the six stories are somehow connected, I was curious reading each whether the connection would come across as forced or convenient. No and No. It's clever and smooth and brings a cohesiveness to what would otherwise be random short stories about desire. 

My favourites were the first story and the third. The first was HOT and just a bit naughty and that's all I'm saying about it and the third, well it's the fly fishing story. Yep you read that right. 

Fishing in my book (when you don't catch anything) is up there with watching grass grow or paint dry. Fly fishing and sexy are two words I would never use in the same sentence. But Tasha and Daryl's story is beautiful and sexy and very, very sensual. So, hang on a minute while I eat my words.

This is probably completely left field but the sexual attraction in Six Degrees reminded me of the weather in Dark Horse ... a character in itself. 

Six Degrees is a fun and very satisfying read about the power of sexual attraction and our intrinsic need to feel emotionally and physically connected. 

Connect with Honey Brown

Monday, July 06, 2015

It's Monday: Check-In Time

Linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and It's Monday! What are You Reading? hosted by Sheila from Book JourneyIn Sheila's absence, share your Monday post on twitter #IMWAYR. 

My granddaughter's 1st birthday was the big event here, a big family get-together celebrating Mia and the joy she has brought us. I can't believe how quickly the year has gone, I love being a nonna! We had family stay most of the week and with all the preparations and social stuff I needed an impromptu blog break to look after myself. 

I know it's disappointing when reviews aren't posted in a timely fashion, my apologies to those authors I had commitments with but I also know you are very understanding of the need for health and family to be top priority.

I'm participating in Paris in July again this year. My love affair with Paris continues and I hope to post photos and a couple of book reviews. Pop on over to Tamara @ Thyme for Tea and join in the fun.

#FitReaders Weekly Check-In

#FitReaders co-hosted by Felicia @ Geeky Bloggers Book Blog and Jen @ That’s What I’m Talking AboutFitReaders is a great way to stay motivated, accountable and it's more fun having bloggy friends to check in with. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :)  

Yay me, on target again this week. The combination of intentional exercise and the timer as a reminder to move for 5 mins each hour that I'm on the laptop is keeping me on track. And of course I'm in again for July!!

Fitbit Steps: 
Mon: 4252 steps 
Tue:  5868 steps  
Wed: 13,197 steps ~ walk
Thurs: 8032 steps ~ walk with Bella
Fri: 7853 steps
Sat: 9100 steps ~ walk with Bella and Mia
Sun:  9242 steps ~ strawberry picking  


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE COLOR OF OUR SKY by Amita Trasi ~ heart-achingly beautiful and excruciatingly painful.

THE GUEST COTTAGE by Nancy Thayer ~ I liked it


Finished last week:

SIX DEGREES by Honey Brown ~ a complete departure from Honey Brown's usual but I really liked it. 

EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES by Laura Dave ~ loved it!


This Week's Reading List: 

HEART OF THE COUNTRY by Tricia Stringer ~ almost done. very enjoyable


THE PRECIOUS ONE by Marisa de los Santos (audiobook)


Reviews Coming: 


THE WATER DIVINER by Andrew Anastasios and Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios (audiobook) ~ I bawled my eyes out! 

THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP by Nina George (audiobook) ~ enjoyable

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Review: The Color of our Sky by Amita Trasi

Title: The Color of our Sky
Author: Amita Trasi
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publication Date: 30th June 2015 
Pages: 318
Book Source: Bloomhill Books & NetGalley

Synopsis: India, 1986: Mukta, a ten-year-old girl from the lower caste Yellamma cult of temple prostitutes has come of age to fulfill her destiny of becoming a temple prostitute. In an attempt to escape this legacy that binds her, Mukta is transported to a foster family in Bombay. There she discovers a friend in the high spirited eight-year-old Tara, the tomboyish daughter of the family, who helps her recover from the wounds of her past. Tara introduces Mukta to a different world—ice cream and sweets, poems and stories, and a friendship the likes of which she has never experienced before. As time goes by, their bond grows to be as strong as that between sisters. In 1993, Mukta is kidnapped from Tara’s room.

Eleven years later, Tara who blames herself for what happened, embarks on an emotional journey to search for the kidnapped Mukta only to uncover long buried secrets in her own family.

Moving from a remote village in India to the bustling metropolis of Bombay, to Los Angeles and back again, amidst the brutal world of human trafficking, this is a heartbreaking and beautiful portrait of an unlikely friendship—a story of love, betrayal, and redemption—which ultimately withstands the true test of time.

My Thoughts:
I'm having trouble putting my very mixed feelings about The Color of our Sky into words so this may not be the most coherent of reviews. Overwhelming sadness, rage, hopelessness. 

We are dropped straight into the caste system of India and introduced to Mukta, born lower caste, the daughter of a temple prostitute and destined to the same fate, sold at the tender age of ten. *truth* I wanted to hurt the grandmother that sold her. 

Whilst the Devadasi tradition was deemed illegal in 1988, it's still practiced in parts today. It's almost impossible to comprehend a tradition such as this, a society that allows it, and it was really difficult to read.

The story is told in alternating chapters from Mukta and Tara. Mukta's broke my heart.

I didn't really care for Tara. I found her disingenuous and undeserving of Mukta's loyalty but I'm probably in the minority on that count. I also had trouble coming to grips with Tara's father ... as kindly and 'progressive' as he was, as much as he helped, he still couldn't see Mukta treated equally. One of Tara's musings about America stayed with me. 

What I always found strange was the affection people placed in pets. It was more than we ever placed in Mukta.

Just when you feel it's a losing battle against apathy and corruption, there are glimmers of light with the agency and rescue centers' work. I hope this is a light that exists for the real Mukta's in captivity. 

In the author's notes Amita Trasi states that although the village of Ganipur is fictional, "there are similar villages in the area that practice the Devdasi traditions and force young girls into the prostitution trade. The tradition of temple prostitution is especially prevalent in the poorer sections of society."

The Color of our Sky is both heart-achingly beautiful and excruciatingly painful and whilst there's hope I wouldn't call the book hopeful, more a tribute to resilience.

Cover: just beautiful

Connect with Amita Trasi

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Review: The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer

Title: The Guest Cottage
Author: Nancy Thayer
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publication Date: 12th May 2015
Pages: 336
Book Source: Own purchase

Synopsis: Sensible thirty-six-year-old Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. She knows her role in life: supportive wife of a successful architect and calm, capable mother of two. But on a warm summer night, as the house grows quiet around her and her children fall asleep, she wonders what’s missing from her life. When her husband echoes that lonely question, announcing that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket from her friend Susie Swenson, Sophie rounds up her kids, Jonah and Lacey, and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.

Also minus one is Trevor Black, a software entrepreneur who has recently lost his wife. Trevor is the last person to imagine himself, age thirty and on his own, raising a little boy like Leo—smart and sweet, but grappling constantly with his mother’s death, growing more and more closed off. Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with Leo, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island from his friend Ivan Swenson.

Best-laid plans run awry when Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house. Still, determined to make this a summer their kids will always remember, the two agree to share the Swensons’ Nantucket house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.

My Thoughts:
My first Nancy Thayer read but it won't be my last and luckily I have a bunch of her books waiting for me. The Guest Cottage was just the incentive I needed to make a dent in that backlist. 

When Sophie Anderson rents a Nantucket cottage with her two children for 2 months of summer and finds Trevor and his young son Leo have rented the same guest cottage they decide to make the best of the odd situation and share the house and their holiday.

It's a chance for both adults to take an honest look at their lives and for everyone to enjoy a summer of discovery, growth and healing.

The Guest Cottage is a lovely summer beach read and if you live in the southern hemisphere like moi`it's the perfect read to bring the promise of summer to a chilly winter's day. I guess this was somewhat predictable but that also made it an easy, relaxing read which added to the holiday vibe. 

Nantucket seems to be the idyllic setting for many a novel ... I'm definitely adding this place to my travel bucket list. 

Connect with Nancy Thayer

Monday, June 22, 2015

It's Monday: Check-In Time

Linking up with The Sunday Post hosted by Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer and It's Monday! What are You Reading? hosted by Sheila from Book JourneyIn Sheila's absence, share your Monday post on twitter #IMWAYR. 

A few family hiccups meant it wasn't quite the organised week I'd planned. I didn't get ahead with reviews (surprise, surprise lol) but I did still get 2 posted. Busy week coming up, end of the week my granddaughter turns 1 (J yippee and L waahh I wish taking the batteries out of the clock helped) and we are having a big family celebration here. I need to get a move on with the photo/scrapbook album I'm doing. And my dad will be staying later in the week.  

#FitReaders Weekly Check-In

#FitReaders co-hosted by Felicia @ Geeky Bloggers Book Blog and Jen @ That’s What I’m Talking AboutFitReaders is a great way to stay motivated, accountable and it's more fun having bloggy friends to check in with. If you also have a fitbit and want to add me, let me know :) 

Yay finally back on target. The timer is working for the days were I spend a lot of time on the laptop blogging or photo editing. 

Fitbit Steps: 
Mon: 13,698 steps ~ woohoo running after Mia :)
Tue:  8448 steps
Wed: 9681 steps ~ walk with Bella
Thurs: 5523 steps
Fri: 8036 steps
Sat: 5058 steps 
Sun:  8162 steps ~ walk and gardening


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE CONFECTIONER'S TALE by Laura Madeleine ~ Weekend Cooking post ... Paris yummies!

5 MORE REASONS NOT TO MISS - STILL THE ONE by Jill Shalvis (Animal Magnetism #6) 


Finished last week:


THE WATER DIVINER by Andrew Anastasios and Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios (audiobook) ~ I bawled my eyes out! 


This Week's Reading List: 

EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES by Laura Dave ~ I think it was Brandie's wonderful review of this one that had me pushing it to the top of my reading pile. Page 75 and loving it already.

SIX DEGREES by Honey Brown ~ can't wait! 

THE PRECIOUS ONE by Marisa de los Santos (audiobook)


Reviews Coming: 

THE GUEST COTTAGE by Nancy Thayer ~ I liked this a lot

THE COLOR OF OUR SKY by Amita Trasi ~ traumatic

THE LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP by Nina George (audiobook) ~ enjoyable

Friday, June 19, 2015

Review: The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine

Title: The Confectioner's Tale
Author: Laura Madeleine
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 21st May 2015
Pages: 336
Book Source: Random House & NetGalley

Synopsis: At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.
But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.
Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.
My Thoughts:
Food, Love and Paris ... sold! Ok I confess, I wanted this one for the cover.

In 1909 Guillaume (Gui) Du Frere, leaves Bordeaux for Paris and a job as a railway labourer. He finds so much more than he ever imagined when a chance encounter with Jeanne Clermont, daughter of a famous Parisian confectioner opens the door on the Patisserie Clermont and forbidden love. In 1988 Petra Stevenson is determined to uncover a family secret involving her late grandfather. 

I loved the historical narrative and Gui and Jeanne and I begrudged leaving 1909. Actually the swings from present day to the historical timeline were so fast I found it quite unsettling, just as I was immersed, I was yanked out ... torture, I kid you not. That's my only reason for not rating this higher as Madeleine's writing is beautiful and her descriptions of Paris and the Clermont Patisserie, rich and evocative. 

The workings of the patisserie kitchen, the sweet smell of sugar and chocolate, cream and warm caramel, the delicate pastries ... my mouth was watering.

There were whole, plump roses steeping in honey; purple-stained sugar, thick with lavender, tiny jars of crimson threads, cherries and peaches suspended in syrup as if they had fallen there from the trees. 
The luxurious scents wrapped around him. Butter, his nose relayed, cream, nuts, brandy, chocolate ...

The Confectioner's Tale had me pining for Paris. Macarons or chocolate ├ęclairs are mandatory with this read :)

Cover: cover fairy touched this one 

3 short days in Paris Nov 2014 ... drool 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

5 More Reasons not to miss - Still the One by Jill Shalvis

Title: Still the One
Author: Jill Shalvis
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Animal Magnetism #6
Publication Date: 7th April 2015
Pages: 312
Book Source: Own purchase

Synopsis: Darcy Stone is game for anything — except sexy Navy veteran and physical therapist A.J. Colten, the guy who'd rejected her when she'd needed him most. Now the shoe is on the other foot and he needs her to play nice and help him secure grants for his patients. Unfortunately, Darcy can't refuse. She needs the money to fund her passion project: rescuing S&R dogs and placing them with emotionally wounded soldiers.

A.J. admits it — Darcy is irresistible. But he's already been battle-scarred by a strong-willed, vivacious, adventurous woman like Darcy, and he's not making the same mistake twice—until he and Darcy are forced to fake a relationship. Growing closer than they'd ever imagined possible, Darcy and AJ have to ask themselves: how much between them is pretend? What's the real thing? And where does it go from here?

My Thoughts:
My love for this series continues unabated 

Last year I gave you 5 Reasons not to miss Then Came You, book 5 in the Animal Magnetism series. Just in case you didn't get on board back then, here's 5 more :)

1. Winning combo - heat, heart and humour and let's not forget cute animals. What can I say I'm a sucker for cute animals ;) 
Gertie, Bean, and "boner" squawking parrot Peanut are back and of course there's Oreo who was rescued in the last book.

2. Belle Haven Veterinary Clinic and the Sunshine Wellness Centre would have to be one of my favourite settings in romantic fiction history. After all this is where the hot guys are*cough* the hot stuff happens. What I'm trying to say is this is where the cute animals and people heal. 

3. I've been dying for Darcy to get her HEA with physical therapist AJ since meeting them in Then Came You. AJ was Darcy's therapist after the accident that almost killed her. She's got trust issues, she's prickly and difficult and snarky and stubborn but it was only towards the end that stubborn turned stupid and I really wanted to slap her. I love that she spends every cent rescuing Search and Rescue dogs and placing them as a carer dogs. 

4. AJ is awesome, he's sweet, patient and caring but tough too. I loved the snarky banter between Darcy and AJ but neither of them actually 'communicate' well with words and sometimes the push and pull got a bit angsty. But hey that can be true in real life so I forgave Shalvis. Besides AJ is hot and there's lots of "wild monkey sex." 

5. It's formulaic, somewhat clich├ęd (some are painful) but it still works! (would I lie to you?)

Connect with Jill Shalvis