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



Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

Title: Accidents of Marriage
Author: Randy Susan Meyers
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publication Date: 2nd September 2014
Pages: 368
Book Source: Atria Books & NetGalley

Synopsis: Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy. 

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

ACCIDENTS OF MARRIAGE explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the damaging effects of a spouse’s emotional abuse.

My Thoughts:
Accidents of Marriage is tense and raw and real. It's a beautifully rendered, insightful look at a family in crisis. 

Told from the multiple perspectives of parents Maddy and Ben and the eldest of their three children, 14 year old Emma, Accidents of Marriage covers the harsh realities and ripple effect of a family living with verbal and emotional abuse. Ben's anger and volatility are scary, his temper flares unpredictably, he throws things, he rages, his family tiptoe around on eggshells. When a car accident leaves Maddy with a devastating traumatic brain injury, this family's world shatters.  

The aftermath of the accident is powerful and so real it's emotionally harrowing being in Maddy's head. 

My heart broke for Emma ... thrust into the role of caring for her younger siblings, the lack of emotional and physical support was heart wrenching. I felt like the 'adults' in the story failed her. No child should have to cope with that kind of pressure. 

Randy Susan Meyers writes with such sensitivity. My take ... clarity can come from the most unexpected sources. Love is not enough. It takes acceptance of responsibility and hard work to rebuild trust, to heal ... on both sides.  

I thought Accidents of Marriage had a very realistic and satisfying ending. 

My first Randy Susan Meyers read and I can't recommend it highly enough. Now to hunt down her other novels. 


Connect with Randy Susan Meyers


Bitter Greens



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Review: In Your Dreams by Kristan Higgins

Title: In Your Dreams
Author: Kristan Higgins
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Blue Heron #4
Publication Date: 30th September 2014
Pages: 480
Book Source: Harlequin & NetGalley

Synopsis: Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero. 

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…

Karen's Thoughts:
It's no secret that Kristan Higgins is one of my all-time favourite authors and I get really excited with each new release. I’ve been a fan for a number of years and I have always wished that Kristan would re-visit with some of my favourite characters (I am ever hopeful that she will get the urge to write a HEA for Malone’s daughter…hint hint Kristan!).

So I was nearly doing cartwheels when Kristan announced she was going to write a series.  Originally it was intended as a trilogy I believe, but maybe due to the success of the series, In Your Dreams is the fourth book in the Blue Heron series. 

We've got to know Jack quite well since the first book, The Best Man. He has a wonderful relationship with his family, particularly his sisters. The Holland siblings, Prudence, Faith, Honor and Jack may spend a lot of their time squabbling and getting in digs at each other but when it comes to the crunch, they're supportive of each other and there in times of need. Although Jack wasn't particularly appreciative of this piece of relationship advice Prudence was intent on giving him lol ….

“Keep things lively.  Enjoy all this friction when its new, children, because when you’ve been married for a quarter of a century, you start having to be a little more creative in the boudoir, if you know what I mean”.
“I don’t want to know what you mean.” Jack said.
“I’ll pay you not to tell me what you mean.”

I’ve been patiently waiting for Jack’s story since first meeting him in The Best Man and Emmaline, I thought, was just what he needed. I really hoped that Jack would give Emmaline what she needed, and vice versa, that she would be able to give Jack the support he needed. There are plenty of stumbling blocks to their HEA but you’ll enjoy the journey they take to get there.

If you are a fan of a funny and heartwarming contemporary romance then you really must give Kristan’s books a read and I think the Blue Heron series would be a good place to start.
I'm giving In Your Dreams 5 stars because it just shot its way to the top as my favourite in this particular series.

Guest review by Karen

#1 THE BEST MAN ~ 4.5 stars
#2 THE PERFECT MATCH ~ 5 stars
#3 WAITING ON YOU ~ 4.5 stars


Connect with Kristan Higgins

Monday, September 22, 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:  blessed to have lots of time with my granddaughter last week, even a sleepover ... she makes my heart happy. I'm picking up a friend in Toowoomba today, she's staying a few days and we're pretty excited about going to the Robbie Williams concert. Really not sure what I'll have time for reading or blog wise ... we'll see.





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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 :) 

A pretty good week and my legs muscles are telling me I did a little bit of work haha

Mon: 30 min walk with Bella (10,324) 
Tue: stress walking and 45 min walk with Bella (14,557)
Wed: rest (5043 steps)
Thurs: 30 min walk with Bella &  15 min exercises (8047 steps)
Fri: dancing & pacing with Mia (8072 steps) 
Sat: 1 hour walk with Bella (13,730 steps)
Sun: vigorous housework *uggh* (10,033 steps)

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Giveways: 

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










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 here






*Be quick Sherryl Caulfield also has a wonderful 3 book giveaway on her blog - enter here. 3 days left, open til 25th September.*

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Reviews & Posts: (click on title)

COME WHAT MAY by Sherryl Caulfield (The Iceberg Trilogy #2) ~ oh my heart, I loved it!

BITTER GREENS by Kate Forsyth ~ 5 stars and pure magic.  

FOREVER SHELTERED by Deanna Roy ~ (The Forever Series #3) ~ heartfelt review by Karen

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Finished last week:

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.

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This Week's Reading List:  


THE BREWER'S TALE by Karen Brooks

THE TIME OF SINGING by Elizabeth Chadwick (William Marshall #4) ~ audiobook 75% done

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

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Reviews Coming: 

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

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

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




Friday, September 19, 2014

Come What May by Sherryl Caulfield ~ Review & International Giveaway

Title: Come What May
Author: Sherryl Caulfield
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: The Iceberg Trilogy #2
Publication Date: 19th September
Pages: 468
Book Source: Author via NetGalley

Synopsis: The second instalment of The Iceberg Trilogy, Come What May, continues the story of Samuel and Rebecca Dalton through the lives of their children, most notably, their beautiful, troubled daughter, Evangeline — Gene to all who knew and loved her.

In 1951, the summer of her eighteenth year, Gene embarks on a northern odyssey with her eldest brother, Jonathan. Under the northern lights they travel as part of a medical expedition to remote Cree settlements across the grand Canadian wilderness. There, she encounters people and events that will influence her life forever, including the unflappable Sonny Marlow, a young pilot not long returned from Europe where he served as part of the Allied forces in the Berlin Airlift operation.

Drawn together by love but kept apart by her fears, theirs is a tumultuous relationship that is as unpredictable as the woman Gene becomes. From the Saskatchewan prairies to the Rocky Mountains, from James Bay to Vancouver, life and love hold many surprises and trials for Gene and Sonny. Only when Gene can walk away from the devastating shadows towards the light can she and Sonny live the life that held such promise when they were young and on the edge of love.

My Thoughts:
After falling in love with Sherryl Caulfield's exquisite writing and Seldom Come By earlier this year, I've been a wee bit excited waiting for Come What May. Beginning Come What May, my friend Karen (who guest reviews here) was angst-texting me as she read Seldom Come By ... all the emotion of that epic love story came rushing back.  

Sherryl writes from the heart, her affinity with nature and the love and care she takes with her characters is evident. Come What May is such a sensory feast, lyrical writing, whether the simplest of phrases or vividly descriptive, it played like a movie in my mind.  

I didn't have the same connection with Gene as I did with her mother Rebecca in Seldom Come By but what I loved was the emotion that Sherryl Caulfield pulled from me ... dislike, guilt, admiration, horror, sadness, so much sadness, but joy too. I love it when an author's writing encourages you to consider more and judge less, I like being encouraged to think about a person's character, their motivations. For me it means an author has done her job brilliantly, whether I ultimately like a character or not.

Having finished Come What May, I'm still torn about Gene; she's complex, there's a lot going on with her, some of it confronting, which had me constantly swinging between compassion and dislike but then there were times when the sun shone through and I saw 'her'.   

Auld Lang Syne was one of those moments  ... without fail Auld Lang Syne brings me to tears, so much emotion and so many memories in those simple words.   

I loved the scenes describing the Canadian wilderness, Cree culture, the running of the huskies, I love Gene's brothers; for their good hearts, for all they have been through. And Sonny, my hero ... I love you. 

There's so much more I want to say about Come What May, it's a difficult one to review without spoilers, so let me finish with ... I'm emotionally wrung out, but oh my heart, I loved it.  

Come Full Circle can't come soon enough ...


Connect with Sherryl Caulfield
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Come What May












INTERNATIONAL GIVEAWAY: 
To celebrate the release of COME WHAT MAY, I have a print copy of COME WHAT MAY & SELDOM COME BY up for grabs. Thanks to the delightful Sherryl Caulfield. And it's open worldwide. Aren't the covers gorgeous?

Leave a comment telling me what most appeals to you about The Iceberg Trilogy and please ensure you're easily contactable.
Like Sherryl's Facebook Author Page or follow Sherryl on Twitter 

Autographed - Australian
Not autographed - International 

Extra Entries: 
+2 tweet giveaway and leave a link
+2 comment on SELDOM COME BY and let me know

Giveaway ends 3rd October and winners will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone! 


*Don't forget Sherryl has a fantastic 3 book giveaway on her blog - enter here. Open til 25th September.*

And if you can't wait to start, grab Seldom Come By right now ... at $4.99 you are in for a treat.
@B&N




Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth ~ Review & Giveaway

Title: Bitter Greens
Author: Kate Forsyth
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy/Fairy-tale Retelling
Publication Date: 23rd September 2014 (1st published March 2012)
Pages: 496
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Synopsis: The amazing power and truth of the Rapunzel fairy tale comes alive for the first time in this breathtaking tale of desire, black magic and the redemptive power of love.

French novelist Charlotte-Rose de la Force has been banished from the court of Versailles by the Sun King, Louis XIV, after a series of scandalous love affairs. At the convent, she is comforted by an old nun, Sœur Seraphina, who tells her the tale of a young girl who, a hundred years earlier, is sold by her parents for a handful of bitter greens…

After Margherita’s father steals parsley from the walled garden of the courtesan Selena Leonelli, he is threatened with having both hands cut off, unless he and his wife relinquish their precious little girl. Selena is the famous red-haired muse of the artist Tiziano, first painted by him in 1512 and still inspiring him at the time of his death. She is at the center of Renaissance life in Venice, a world of beauty and danger, seduction and betrayal, love and superstition.

Locked away in a tower, Margherita sings in the hope that someone will hear her. One day, a young man does.

Award-winning author Kate Forsyth braids together the stories of Margherita, Selena, and Charlotte-Rose, the woman who penned Rapunzel as we now know it, to create what is a sumptuous historical novel, an enchanting fairy tale retelling, and a loving tribute to the imagination of one remarkable woman.

My Thoughts:
Absolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond. 

From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th century Court of Versailles to austere French cloisters and 16th century Renaissance Venice. I'm fascinated by this period in history, Kate's research and superb imagery give a perceptible sense of time and place and her breathtaking imagination brings the Rapunzel fairytale to life. I loved the vivid descriptions of affairs, betrayals, politics, fashion, entertainments, the horror of the plague, persecution of Heugenots, (Protestants) recantings and executions, the Affair of the Poisons where many were sentenced by the Chambre Ardente under charges of witchcraft and poisonings. I probably sound like a bit of a freak but I love it all, the history both fascinates and terrifies me. 

Bitter Greens unfolds from the perspective of three extraordinary characters; the wonderful Charlotte-Rose de La Force, confined to the Abbey of Gercy-en-Brie after displeasing the Sun King, Louis XIV, the young girl Margherita, nicknamed Persinette (little Parsley) imprisoned in a tower (her story told by nun, Soeur Seraphina on befriending Charlotte-Rose) and the beautiful courtesan Selena Leonelli, 'La Strega Bella' ... her story both heartbreaking and horrifying. 

Bitter Greens is a dark tale; love, desire, power and vengeance pulling at each other. So much sorrow, heartache and cruelty but hope and love the constants that eventually offer redemption. 

Bitter Greens holds a world you slip into effortlessly, disappearing for hours, binding you, haunting and bittersweet ... I was alternately desperate to know and longing to savour. It's a must-read. 

Kate Forsyth truly does weave magic!


Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force was a French noblewoman, novelist and poet. Her fairytale collection written during her banishment included 'Persinette' eventually renamed Rapunzel. 

I also loved Kate's The Wild Girl ... (a 5 star favourite) but oh my Bitter Greens is my favourite of favourites!  


Tour Hashtag #BitterGreensBlogTour
 

Connect with Kate Forsyth:


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Giveaway:
I'm thrilled to offer readers the chance to win a paperback copy of BITTER GREENS. Just leave a relevant comment or question along with your email address. US only sorry

Extra Entries: 
+ 2 tweet giveaway and leave a link

Giveaway ends 2nd October and winner will be announced on my blog. Good luck everyone!