Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Audiobook Reviews: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein & The Collector by Nora Roberts

Title: Code Name Verity
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: 6th June 2012 (1st published 6th Feb 2012)
Time: 10hrs 7mins
Narrator: Morven Christie, Lucy Gaskell
Book Source: Own audio

Synopsis: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it's barely begun.

When "Verity" is arrested by the Gestapo, she's sure she doesn't stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she's living a spy's worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy? 

My Thoughts: 
I'm late to Code Name Verity. Even though I bought the book a year or so ago, for some reason I never got around to it. Then someone recommended it on audio and that was all the incentive I needed. 

Code Name Verity is a complex, emotional tale. Don't be lulled into inattention or distraction by the slow-ish, almost baffling start, (is it less so, in print?) it requires careful listening to pick up the truths. Pay attention and you'll be richly rewarded.  

The bond between 'Verity' and Maddie is something special, it resonated, had me in tears, made me laugh and ugly cry ... sometimes at the same time ... not pretty. Verity is arrested and interrogated, with two weeks to write her confession ... she tells their story. The constant wondering about Verity's reliability as a narrator (after all, she's being tortured) kept me off balance, it's heartbreaking and surprisingly funny and yes a little weird to find myself sniggering and laughing but oh I loved her sense of humour.  

Narrators Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell bring 'Verity' and Maddie to life, it's a story that never feels like it's being 'read.' Morven Christie in particular is superb, her accents, inflections and emotions are spot on. 

Code Name Verity is one I'll read again, as much for all that complexity wrapped in deceit, misdirection, secrecy ... argh wish I could think of the right word ... as for the beautiful story of friendship, loyalty and courage. 

Next up, with box of tissues in hand, Rose Under Fire, the companion novel to Code Name Verity. It shares some of the same characters and takes place shortly after Code Name Verity finishes. 

Connect with Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1)

Title: The Collector
Author: Nora Roberts
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publication Date: 15th April 2014
Time: 15hrs 44mins
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Book Source: Own audio

Synopsis: As a professional house-sitter and freelance writer, nothing ties Lila Emerson down - not her work, not a home, and definitely not a relationship. She spends her life moving from one job to the next, sometimes crashing at a friend 's Manhattan apartment. And though she can appreciate her clients ' extraordinary homes, their expensive collections, and their adorable pets, Lila has never longed for possessions of her own. Everything she has, including her heart, is portable. 

But when she witnesses a possible murder-suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as Lila knows it takes a dramatic turn. 

Artist Ashton Archer knows his charming, clever, and impulsive brother couldn't have killed his girlfriend - or taken his own life. His hope of unraveling what happened lies with Lila, the only eyewitness. And even buried in grief, Ash longs to paint the woman whose deep, dark eyes seem to hold endless reserves of strength and a fiery passion. 

Chalking up their intense attraction to the heat of the moment, Lila agrees to help Ash in trying to find out who murdered his brother and why. From the penthouses of Manhattan to grand Italian villas, their investigation draws them into a rarefied circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession…

My Thoughts: 
Nora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration in The Witness so ... can't really go wrong ... right? 

I'm pretty good at suspending belief, this is after all fiction, but I did find the whole professional housesitter/writer (Lila) and artist (Ash) chasing down a contract killer, implausible and just a bit ridiculous. Baddie killing off the hero and heroine for their sheer stupidity would have been more realistic ... oops did I say that out loud. 

That aside, I quite liked people-watching Lila and teapot poodle Earl Grey earns this one extra cuteness points. And for a lengthy book it doesn't drag at all ... good job on the narration Jennifer Whalen.

Despite some eye-rolling this was actually an enjoyable, easy listen, I didn't dislike the story but I didn't bother catching up on the few missed minutes  ... grr annoying telemarketer. 

Recommend: hmm ... doesn't come close to The Witness 

Monday, July 28, 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! 

Another busy week ... appointments, granddaughter time, (she's a month old today) I'm loving seeing my eldest son and daughter-in-law regularly, my youngest son and his girlfriend moved into a unit with a friend. Change is always a little daunting but I'm loving every minute of this new phase in my life. 

#bookblogwalkers update #28: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: this week I did way better! Hard getting motivated when you've been slacking off. Yay for the fitbit, I had 2 days of 12,000 steps, 2 days reaching my target of 8000 steps and 3 days under.  

Mon: 30 min walk with Bella
Tue: no walk
Wed: 1 hour walk ... a little weary by the end of the day 
Thurs: no walk
Fri: 30 min walk with Bella
Sat: 15 min brisk walk
Sun: 30 min walk with granddaughter and Bella



THE GOLDEN WIDOWS by Isolde Martyn ~ 1 print copy. Ends 3rd August. AUST/NZ only. Enter here.


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THE GOLDEN WIDOWS by Isolde Martyn ~ really enjoyed this historical! See giveaway.

CORDUROY LOST AND FOUND by B.G. Hennessy ~ my boys loved Corduroy when they were little and I still love this intrepid little bear.  And my 'Ted' gets a mention.


Finished last week:

THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT by Wendy Wax (Beach Road #3) ~ 4.5 stars 


This Week's Reading List: 

DETAINED by Ainslie Paton ~ OMG not what I expected but I'm loving it, so glad I read Kathryn's review and finally picked this one up.

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook) ~ chapter 15

A MAN CALLED OVE by Fredrik Backman ~ blaming this one on Shelleyrae @Book'd Out

THE GLASS KITCHEN  by Linda Francis Lee 


Reviews Coming: 

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein (audiobook) ~ heartachey good

DANCING ON KNIVES by Kate Forsyth ~ review Saturday

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover ~ loved it!!

THE COLLECTOR by Nora Roberts (audiobook) ~ not up there with The Witness. A bit predictable and implausible but still enjoyable, good narration by Jenna Whalen. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Golden Widows by Isolde Martyn ~ Review & Giveaway

Title: The Golden Widows
Author: Isolde Martyn
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: 1st August 2014
Pages: 285
Book Source: Harlequin Mira Australia & NetGalley

Synopsis: Two young women on opposing sides find their lives wrecked by battle...can they be restored by love?

As sister to Warwick the Kingmaker and cousin to the new young King Edward IV, Kate Neville finds herself on the winning side of the latest bloody battle of the War of the Roses — and under pressure to marry again. Kate’s family want to ensure her new husband will be someone they control, such as the king’s handsome chamberlain, Lord William Hastings, but Kate is refusing. Hastings has a reputation as a womaniser and she wants a man who won’t betray her like her first husband did. But the debonair Hastings is determined to win her heart. Can she thwart her brother’s plans for her?

Elysabeth Woodville is a beautiful young woman, much adored by her husband, Sir John Grey. But when he is killed in battle on the losing side and named as a traitor, his estate is seized by the Yorkists and Elysabeth finds herself penniless and friendless. In her desperate struggle to restore her sons’ inheritance, she finds herself not only kneeling before her enemy but winning his heart. Is she is too proud to become his mistress? Or does the King of England love her enough to ignore his friends’ advice and make her his queen?

In the precarious peace of a bloody civil war, can love heal wounds and reunite families?

My Thoughts:
I was introduced to Isolde Martyn with Mistress to the Crown, which I enjoyed and her latest novel The Golden Widows, even more so. I seriously can't get enough of the historical players in the War of the Roses, whilst I'm well-read on the history, Isolde Martyn's uniquely fascinating perspective made for a refreshing read.  

The story sashays back and forth between Yorkist widow Kate Neville (cousin to King Edward IV and sister to the influential Richard Neville, known in history as Warwick the Kingmaker) and Lancastrian widow Elysabeth Woodville. Isolde Martyn's attention to detail ensures both women are entirely accessible and equally captivating.  

Elysabeth and Kate are strong, intelligent, passionate women, protective of their children. The Golden Widows explores their struggles, tears and triumphs, the fight to claim a widow's dower, reverse attainders, regain a child's inheritance and pursue happiness.  

I just love Elysabeth Woodville's story, yup I'm totally a White Queen fan and I also really enjoyed seeing the relationship blossom between Kate Neville and William Hastings, the King's chamberlain. 

An interesting aside, it took me a little while to work out where Katherine Neville, Duchess of Norfolk sat in the scheme of things ... Aunt to Katherine (Kate) Neville, Baroness Hastings (just in case you're the slightest bit interested lol.) The Duchess of Norfolk's fourth and last marriage was to John Woodville, brother of Elizabeth Woodville ... their marriage earned the nickname the "diabolical marriage" - HA wonder if that had anything to do with the 'scandalous' age difference - John at 19 and Katherine 65.  

The Golden Widows is a believable blending of historical fact and embellishment, a good fix for War of the Roses insatiables and historical fiction fans. My only complaint, I didn't want it to end.

Connect with Isolde Martyn

The Golden Widows

Thanks to the lovely folk at Harlequin Aust I have a paperback copy up for grabs. Just leave a comment with an email address if you're entering. Aust/NZ Only 

Extra Entries: 
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 3rd August and winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Review: Corduroy Lost and Found by B.G. Hennessy

Title: Corduroy Lost and Found
Author: B.G. Hennessy
Illustrator: Jody Wheeler
Genre: Children's fiction
Publication Date: 14th September 2006
Pages: 32
Book Source: We Give Books

Synopsis: A classic character in children's literature for nearly forty years is back for a brand-new adventure! Corduroy the beloved bear slips out very early one morning to get a birthday present for Lisa. He spies what he thinks is a yellow balloon up in the sky, thinking that would be perfect for her. But when the sun rises, the balloon (really the full moon) disappears. And now Corduroy is lost. Lisa finds him, but not before Corduroy succeeds in getting just the right gift—, a lollipop as yellow and round as the moon. This brand-new Corduroy picture book is written in the whimsical style of Don Freeman and illustrated in the exact scratchboard technique he used to create Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy. 

My Thoughts: 
Am I too old to say I love Corduroy. He's the most caring, sweet little bear ... Corduroy and A Pocket for Corduroy were two of my boys' favourites when they were little. Corduroy Lost and Found is another delightful story about this intrepid little bear.

Corduroy loves his best friend Lisa and Lisa loves Corduroy. I adore Corduroy's innocence and sense of wonder and my boys always delighted in Corduroy's misadventuresmishaps, adventures. It's a sweet story about friendship, with much the same charm as the original books by Don Freeman and the whimsical illustrations will enchant both children and adults. 

I had a bear best friend as a child, the teddy that I've had since I was born and boy has that bear had some adventures (much like Corduroy.) We lived in Papua New Guinea for a few years when I was little and Ted dropped from my stroller, was picked up by a dog and a month or two later was found in a fence. 46 years on, my Ted is still with me, a little moth-eaten and worse for wear but still much loved ... so Corduroy Lost and Found really resonated with me.

 my well-loved Ted and my eldest son's - A Pocket for Corduroy
I can't wait to read these to my granddaughter

I read Corduroy Lost and Found at WE GIVE BOOKS, a digital initiative created by the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation, supporting literacy awareness worldwide.

The more you read, the more they give - for each free book you read online We Give Books donates real books to charities working in communities around the world ... awesome initiative!! 

Corduroy Lost and Found is no longer available on We Give Books but check out the site, there are so many other cute books to choose from for ages 0-10 years ... like Spot Loves His Daddy (another of my boys' favourites) and the Llama Llama books. 

Connect with B.G. Hennessy

Monday, July 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! 

Lovely visits with my darling granddaughter, she's 3 weeks old now. Thought you might like to see another photo haha ... like you get a choice ;) 

1st selfie with nonna

My oven died (only a few days without baking and I missed it like crazy) but lucky we have an electrician in the family, my son installed a new Bosch oven ... hope it's a good choice. I'm getting behind on reviews again, so wish me luck playing catch up this week. 

My thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

#bookblogwalkers update #27: Felicia's Book Blog Walkers: pretty poor effort last week, only walked 2 days ... must do better!! HA


Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

THORNWOOD HOUSE by Anna Romer (audiobook) ~ atmospheric 4.5 stars

TRAPPED AT THE ALTAR by Jane Feather ~ guest review by Karen


Finished last week:

THE GOLDEN WIDOWS by Isolde Martyn ~ really enjoyed this one!

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein (audiobook) ~ heartachey good


This Week's Reading List: 

THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT by Wendy Wax (Beach Road #3)

DETAINED by Ainslie Paton 

THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Diane Chamberlain (audiobook) 


Reviews Coming: 

DANCING ON KNIVES by Kate Forsyth ~ review Saturday

MAYBE SOMEDAY by Colleen Hoover ~ loved it!!

THE COLLECTOR by Nora Roberts (audiobook) ~ not up there with The Witness. A bit predictable and implausible but still enjoyable, good narration by Jenna Whalen. 

CORDUROY LOST AND FOUND by B.G. Hennessy ~ my boys loved Corduroy when they were little and I still love this intrepid little bear. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Audiobook Review: Thornwood House by Anna Romer

Title: Thornwood House
Author: Anna Romer
Genre: Gothic Mystery/Romance
Publication Date: 1st March 2014 (1st published 1st Sept 2013)
Time: 16hrs 25mins
Narrator: Eloise Oxer
Book Source: own audio

Synopsis: When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland, she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start. In a dusty back room of the old house, she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War Two medic - Samuel Riordan, the homestead's former occupant - and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him. But as Audrey digs deeper into Samuel's story, she discovers he was accused of bashing to death a young woman on his return from the war in 1946. When she learns about other unexplained deaths in recent years - one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the first victim - she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive. And now Audrey, thanks to her need to uncover the past, has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.

My Thoughts: 
That ethereal cover caught my eye, (reminiscent of Picnic at Hanging Rock) the synopsis appealed and when I discovered Thornwood House was the work of Australian author Anna Romer, I had to have it. Thornwood House is a beautiful atmospheric read, where the past and present collide in dark secrets and obsession.   

Audrey Kepler welcomes the chance for a fresh start with her daughter Bronwyn when she inherits an old homestead in the small town of Magpie Creek in South East Queensland. Thornwood House was the childhood home of Bronwyn's father, Tony. 

Thornwood House holds tragic history - an old photo, letters and a diary open the door on a haunting love story and murder and mystery spanning four generations.  

Reading Anna Romer's website; Magpie Creek is based on the actual town of Boonah ... I spent quite a bit of time in the area growing up and Anna captures the essence of rural Queensland, the beauty and harshness of the Australian landscape ... her writing is a sensory treat. 

Eerie, haunting ...  Eloise Oxer's narration adds that extra special something to the story. 

Anna Romer is a fresh new voice in Australian fiction; with her debut novel she's earned herself a fan. I'll definitely be picking up her next book. 

Connect with Anna Romer

Thornwood House

Monday, July 14, 2014

Review: Trapped At The Altar by Jane Feather

18144170Title: Trapped At The Altar
Author: Jane Feather
Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: 22nd July 2014
Pages: 400
Book Source: Pocket Books & NetGalley 

Synopsis: Jane Feather introduces a sizzling new series that moves from the remote wilds of southwest England to the turbulent royal court, when a lovely young woman is forced into marriage in order to unite two families—and discovers a most unexpected passion. . .

Ariadne Carfax has vowed to be with the man she loves, Gabriel Fawcett. There’s just one obstacle. On his deathbed, Ari’s grandfather decrees that she marry her childhood friend Ivor Chalfont, thus forging a powerful alliance between the two warring families. Giving Ari no time to protest, the elders plan her wedding the next day, forcing her to follow through on the nuptials. Though she is fond of Ivor, Ari has no intention of consummating their marriage—until he kindles an intoxicating desire that she can’t ignore. Ivor has loved Ari for years, but he doesn’t want an unwilling wife. He wants Ari to ache with the same irresistible longing he feels. And if that’s the way to woo her into his bed and into their new life, he won’t rest until his new bride surrenders to true love.

Karen's Thoughts:
It seems the majority of my reading these days is contemporary romance or the YA/NA genres but historical romance is still my first love and I’m always on the lookout for new historical romance releases.

I’ve previously read only one novel by this author, but Jane Feather has been an author on my wish-list for a while now. When the opportunity came up to review this one for The Eclectic Reader I jumped at the chance.

I admit to a feeling of uncertainty when I read the synopsis, I’m not a fan of love triangles and I was concerned that Ari would spend her marriage pining for another. Without giving away spoilers I was pleased with the way the plot developed.

I found myself engrossed in the story and really enjoying the characters and the pace. I wouldn't say I'm well versed in terms or dialogue for a particular time period but I have a general idea. The characters and the setting had an authentic feel ... however the heroine did use the term ‘pregnant’ during the course of the novel and I wouldn't have thought this was a term used in 17th century England.

I was happily enjoying the setting, the characters and their story only to be surprised when the book came to an abrupt ending. I felt like I was left hanging. It was almost like the author realized she had reached her word count and had to type ‘the end’. I was craving at least an Epilogue.  Thankfully this book is being promoted as the start of a new series, so I hope that Ivor and Ari’s story will continue?

Jane Feather is certainly an author I will keep on my ‘to-read’ pile.

Guest review by Karen