Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: The Road to Hope by Rachael Johns

Title: The Road to Hope
Author: Rachael Johns
Genre: Contemporary Rural Romance
Publication Date: 1st March 2015
Pages: 352
Book Source: Harlequin Mira AU & NetGalley

Synopsis: Rachael Johns takes you back to Hope Junction and the characters from Jilted.

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment.

When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

A brand new Hope Junction story of fresh starts and second chances.

My Thoughts:
Readers were first introduced to Lauren Simpson in Jilted, not in a particularly favourable light I must say, I don't have time for spoilt bitches but figured that somewhere underneath all the makeup was a decent person. She's a nurse, not that that's a given for decency but she's a deeply caring and highly skilled nurse so that's got to say something. Rachael Johns does a fabulous job of showing some of Lauren's more endearing qualities. 

You probably don't have to read Jilted first but I really liked seeing the growth in Lauren's character, growth that was handled realistically, in a way that elicited empathy rather than eye-rolls ... not that I'd expect anything less from Rachael Johns. Besides I loved Jilted (Ellie and Flynn's story) so why miss out on a good thing. 

The chemistry between Lauren and locum Dr Tom Lewis is evident from the start but like any new relationship they have their challenges ... emotion-charged issues and the highs and lows of living in a small community where everyone knows your business or thinks they do. 

The sweetest part of this story and my favourite was Lauren and Tom's interactions with the elderly in the residential wing of the hospital ... now that was heart-melting good. And funny, Barbara and May cracked me up with their irreverent humour.   

With trademark humour, passion and emotion I've come to expect from Rachael Johns, The Road to Hope is a lovely way to spend a few hours.

Connect with Rachael Johns
The Road to Hope












Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Title: The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Publication Date: 15th January 2015
Time: 10hrs 57mins
Book Source: own audio
Narrators: Clare Corbett, India Fisher, Louise Brealey

Synopsis: Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train...

My Thoughts:
The Girl on the Train has garnered a lot of attention, opinions are divided but go into this one with as little foreshadowing as possible and just let the disturbing twisty-ness suck you in ... you'll appreciate the normality of your own life. 

These characters are messed up, all of them, seriously messed up. It's an interesting character study that had me impressed with the authors skill, it's not an easy feat to keep a reader reading with a cast of unlikable characters. That said, as the story progressed I felt a begrudging sympathy for one of the most manipulated characters.  

The writing is strong and the narrators are great, they add that bit extra to the reading experience, I'm glad I picked this one up on audio. And the ending ... I actually laughed, not sure that was the desired effect. HA. What can I say ... I like to see someone get their 'just desserts' :)




Connect with Paula Hawkins



Monday, February 23, 2015

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: 
A huge week, I helped the youngest and his girlfriend with leaving the nest again. Mike had another weekend in the field as flights were cancelled due to impending cyclone Marcia. 

Fortunately my eldest son was here to check the roof, clean gutters etc in preparation for the deluge of expected rain. We got approx 250ml over 48hrs but some areas copped in excess of 500ml (that's like 20" of rain) and flash flooding. Category 5 cyclone Marcia did quite a bit of damage on the central coast of QLD but thankfully there was no loss of life. And bonus we didn't lose power (our area of Brisbane is notorious for it) and our sad, old roof didn't spring any new leaks ... just the usual ones lol 

Highlight of the week was the latest episode of Scandal and then Mia stayed for a sleepover.   

Mia loves standing on my bed, she can open the shutters and watch the birds




#FitReaders co-hosted by Felicia @ Geeky Bloggers Book Blog and Jen @ That’s What I’m Talking About.  

FitReaders 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 :) 

I had a couple of big days with helping son move out, 2 short walks with Bella and I got some steps up chasing Mia as she speed-crawls and walks around the furniture. Hoping to get some good news on test results with a specialist appointment this week.  

Fitbit Steps: 
Mon: 14,938 steps
Tue:  6020 steps
Wed: 11,193 steps 
Thurs: 11,429 steps
Fri: 6039 steps
Sat: 8058 steps
Sun: 5071 steps

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE SEAFRONT TEA ROOMS by Vanessa Greene ~ perfect escapism complete with tea and comfort food. Weekend cooking post with English Scones recipe

THE MIME ORDER by Samantha Shannon (Bone Season #2) ~ slow start and then addictive! 

I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman ~ important issue but me who cries at a Kleenex ad did not squeeze out a tear. 

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Finished last week:

JILTED by Rachael Johns

THE ROAD TO HOPE by Rachael Johns 

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This Week's Reading List: 


THE GIRLS OF MISCHIEF BAY by Susan Mallery ~ enjoying this one a whole lot!

THE TAPESTRY by Nancy Bilyeau (Joanna Stafford #3)

THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF by Norman Doidge (audiobook) ~ 20% done. Saw this on Brona's blog and couldn't resist ... really fascinating! 

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Reviews Coming:

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins (audiobook) ~ these characters were messed up (and that's putting it politely)

THE VIOLETS OF MARCH by Sarah Jio ~ this one was a win from Stacy @Stacy's Books quite a few years ago. Love Sarah Jio's writing and enjoyed this little treasure. 

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner (The Spymaster Chronicles #3) ~ enjoyed it and surreal to be visiting Westminster, walking London and Southwalk while reading this one. 




Sunday, February 22, 2015

Review: The Seafront Tea Rooms by Vanessa Greene

Title: The Seafront Tea Rooms
Author: Vanessa Greene
Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Publication Date: 8th September 2014
Pages: 416
Book Source: Own purchase

Synopsis: The Seafront Tea Rooms is a peaceful hideaway, away from the bustle of the seaside, and in this quiet place a group of women find exactly what they've been searching for.

Charismatic journalist Charlotte is on a mission to scope out Britain's best tea rooms. She knows she's found something special in the Seafront Tea Rooms but is it a secret she should share? Kathryn, a single mother whose only sanctuary is the 'Seafront', convinces Charlie to keep the place out of her article by agreeing to join her on her search. Together with another regular, Seraphine, a culture-shocked French au pair with a passion for pastry-making, they travel around the country discovering quaint hideaways and hidden gems. But what none of them expect is for their journey to surprise them with discoveries of a different kind . . . 

My Thoughts:
This was just what I needed, perfect escapism complete with tea and comfort food. A light, easy feel-good read, and completely satisfying. 

After a chance meeting in Letty's Seafront Tea Rooms, a special haven in Scarborough, Charlie, Kat and Seraphine become firm friends, sharing tea room research, baking, family crises, relationship dramas and work challenges ... all the normal, every-day nuances of friendship. I'd love to be friends with these women. I also have serious job-envy, well just for this tea room assignment of Charlie's :)

Whilst set in Scarborough, the friends also travel to York, London and a couple of other places I visited on my holiday last year making this extra special, bringing back memories of tea and  treats on my travels. Already being a scones, jam and cream girl, England turned me into a monster. I fell in lust with cream teas ... scones with jam and lashings of clotted cream and the tea of your choice ... English Breakfast of course. The Somerset Cream Tea from the Abbey Tea Rooms in Glastonbury was one of the best I had in England :)




I love tea rooms, there's just something so comforting about them, they bring people together, you leave your troubles at the door, they're the perfect place to escape for a few indulgent hours. 

What could be more perfect ... tea, cake, friendship and just a little romance. I'm looking forward to checking out more of Vanessa Greene's titles.

Cover: gorgeous



Letty's Classic English Scones

(makes 12 scones)

2.5ml/1/2 tsp salt
40-50g /1 1/2-2oz butter
150ml/1/4 pint milk
225g/80z SR flour plus extra for dusting
5ml/1tsp cream of tartar
 2.5ml/1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

Lightly butter a baking sheet. 

Sift the flour, cream of tartar, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl together. Rub or cut in butter, rubbing the mixture until it forms large crumbs with a flaky texture. 

Mix in the milk and stir to form a soft dough.

Roll out to a thickness of around 1cm and using a 5cm diameter pastry/scone cutter, cut into rounds

Arrange the scones on the baking sheet fairly close together and dust with flour. 

Bake in oven 425 °F/220°C for 12-15 mins until they rise and turn golden.

Serve warm with jam and clotted cream. 




Connect with Vanessa Greene






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.




Friday, February 20, 2015

Review: The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Title: The Mime Order
Author: Samantha Shannon
Genre: Dystopia/Fantasy
Series: The Bone Season #2
Publication Date: 27th January 2015
Pages: 528
Book Source: Bloomsbury Publishing & NetGalley

Synopsis: Paige Mahoney has escaped the brutal prison camp of Sheol I, but her problems have only just begun: many of the survivors are missing and she is the most wanted person in London...

As Scion turns its all-seeing eye on the dreamwalker, the mime-lords and mime-queens of the city's gangs are invited to a rare meeting of the Unnatural Assembly. Jaxon Hall and his Seven Seals prepare to take centre stage, but there are bitter fault lines running through the clairvoyant community and dark secrets around every corner. Then the Rephaim begin crawling out from the shadows. But where is Warden? Paige must keep moving, from Seven Dials to Grub Street to the secret catacombs of Camden, until the fate of the underworld can be decided.

My Thoughts:
I loved the complexity of the world in The Bone Season and was very excited to get my hands on The Mime Order, the 2nd installment in the seven book series set in a corrupt Scion controlled London. 

I have to confess I struggled at first, this book is a brick at 500+ pages. I'm not sure whether it was the re-acclimatising myself with the world or maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind but initially it was hard work. Then 150 pages in .... bam, addicted!!

In The Mime Order the focus turns to London and the syndicated underworld. After her escape from Sheol I, dreamwalker Paige Mahoney returns to mime-lord Jaxon Hall and the Seven Seals but her attention is concentrated on revealing the truth of the Rephaim race to the voyant community. Jaxon is that love-to-hate character. He's cruel, manipulative and fascinating in a creepy smiling-assassin kind of way, and the cat-and-mouse exchanges between Jaxon and Paige had my heart in my mouth.  

Paige is all you could want in a kick-ass heroine, she really comes into her own in this installment, tough physically and mentally and her voyant skills are freakin' awesome. And Warden, he's such a intriguing, enigmatic character, I missed him not being around for practically the first half of the book but I love Paige and Warden 'together' .... gotta love a slow burn.  

It's dark, intense and thoroughly immersive and builds to a shit-hot end.  


Connect with Samantha Shannon




Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Review: I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Title: I Was Here
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: 29th January 2015
Pages: 280
Book Source: Simon & Schuster Aus

Synopsis: This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

My Thoughts:
I loved Gayle Forman's If I Stay, the emotion of it completely overwhelmed me. I Was Here was a good read, an important one but I found the emotional connection lacking. Depression and suicide is sensitive subject matter, whilst we are making headway, depression is still very much a misunderstood illness, the stigma is still there, so anything that brings the subject out of that taboo-no-go-zone should be appreciated. 

I Was Here follows Cody as she tries to come to terms with her best friend's suicide. It tells the effect of Meg's death on those close to her .... the guilt, anger and disbelief felt real. And that's about as far as the 'feel' went. 

Cody's sarcasm and abrasiveness didn't bother me, I understood the loss of trust in what she thought she knew of her friend and their friendship, I got why she was so desperate for answers. I didn't mind Ben as a character but I felt next to nothing about Cody and Ben's 'romance'.

I understand that everyone does grief differently and the last thing a grieving person needs is judgement but I thought Meg's parents' behaviour was odd, they didn't come across as genuine, quite frankly, I didn't feel much for them at all. 

It was nauseating to read of suicide 'support' groups, not support groups for the those left behind or those suffering from depression but for those considering suicide ... encouragement, applause, choices, suggestions; people preying on those most vulnerable, it makes me sick that groups like this exist.  A bit like the dreadful pro-mia and pro-ana online support groups for bulimia and anorexia. 

Don't let me put you off, this was a worthwhile read but it confounded me to feel so little ... me who cries at a Kleenex ad. I'm keen to hear what others thought. 

Gayle Forman's author notes and support links were a very worthwhile inclusion. 

Connect with Gayle Forman 



Monday, February 16, 2015

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: 
A busy weekend, youngest son and girlfriend in the process of moving out after a couple of months back home. We had Mia for a sleepover which was lovely, as always, and we watched The Hundred-Foot Journey and really enjoyed it, Mike stayed awake so it must have been good lol.




I did say I'd share a few more photos from Lady Elliot Island, thanks Greg @ Book Haven for the reminder lol. My favourite part will always be snorkelling & playing with the turtles and even more special, seeing turtle hatchlings (you can see the photos here) but the bird life on the island was pretty cool too. 


Black (white-capped) Noddy

this little guy was hilarious, he looks like a cartoon character

Capricorn Silvereye

Eastern Reef Egret

the crazy-haired dude is a Crested Tern



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Giveaway:

Winner of REBEL QUEEN by Michelle Moran. Congrats:  Belle Wong

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)



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Finished last week:

I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman ~ review Tue

THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins (audiobook) ~ these characters were messed up (and that's putting it politely) ... a uniquely compelling read. 

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This Week's Reading List: 



JILTED by Rachael Johns ~ 50% done

THE ROAD TO HOPE by Rachael Johns 

THE GIRLS OF MISCHIEF BAY by Susan Mallery

THE BRAIN THAT CHANGES ITSELF by Norman Doidge (audiobook) ~ 10% done. Saw this on Brona's blog and couldn't resist ... really fascinating! 

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Reviews Coming:

THE MIME ORDER by Samantha Shannon (Bone Season #2) ~ slow start and then addictive. Review Thurs

THE SEAFRONT TEA ROOMS by Vanessa Greene ~ lovely easy read full of comfort food, just what I needed.

THE VIOLETS OF MARCH by Sarah Jio ~ this one was a win from Stacy @Stacy's Books quite a few years ago. Love Sarah Jio's writing and enjoyed this little treasure. 

THE TUDOR VENDETTA by C.W. Gortner (The Spymaster Chronicles #3) ~ enjoyed it and surreal to be visiting Westminster, walking London and Southwalk while reading this one. 



Sunday, February 15, 2015

#FitReaders Weekly Check-In: 6/52


 
#FitReaders co-hosted by Felicia @ Geeky Bloggers Book Blog and Jen @ That’s What I’m Talking About.

FitReaders 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 :) 

Much the same as last week, a couple of short walks with Bella, a little gardening and a walk with my granddaughter. I finished my audiobook this week, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. And I'm Craving Cherry Ripe chocolate bars so I'm using that as motivation for moving when pain gets me down ... not the healthiest but I'm running with it lol

Did you get your move on this week? 

Fitbit Steps: 
Mon: 5863 steps
Tue:  10,109 steps
Wed: 9129 steps 
Thurs: 11,767 steps
Fri: 7120 steps
Sat: 7098 steps
Sun: 8500 steps