January 18, 2017

Pretty Little World Elizabeth LeBan and Melissa DePino

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Published:Lake Union
Date: 17th January 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: General Fiction
Source: Little Bird Publicity via NetGalley
3.5 stars                Add to Goodreads
On a cozy street in Philadelphia, three neighboring families have become the best of friends. They can’t imagine life without one another—until one family outgrows their tiny row house. In a bid to stay together, a crazy idea is born: What if they tear down the walls between their homes and live together under one roof? And so an experiment begins.

Celia and Mark now have the space they need. But is this really what Celia’s increasingly distant husband wants? Stephanie embraces the idea of one big, happy family, but has she considered how it may exacerbate the stark differences between her and her husband, Chris? While Hope always wanted a larger family with Leo, will caring for all the children really satisfy that need?

My thoughts banner
Pretty Little World by Elizabeth LeBan and Melissa DePino is about three families who live side by side in narrow houses with a basement and a few stories to them. It all begins when a burst water pipe causes a crisis and a gap between two of the houses, and the plan is born. Knock down the walls of the main street floor and turn it into communal living, with each family having their own floors above separate. And quickly and with no hiccups it is done.

The couples were interesting, although I have to say I had to have written in front of me who was married to whom and.... ah who had their eye on whom! Celia and Mark have three children and just so need to sell up and move to a bigger house. As well as the burst water pipe this is the catalyst for the idea to remove the walls. They are also not really getting along swimmingly with each other.

Leo and Hope are another couple. Leo loves to cook, Hope wants another child but isn't having any success. They also don't seem to be all of what a happy couple is about. Stephanie and Chris make up the third couple. Stephanie is an organizer, she has her own business for that. Chris is not that happy in his job and is wanting change.

So how does this commune like living go? Well suffice it to say it has its advantages and disadvantages. There is a sense of community among them, but little cracks keep appearing.  Some crises bring them together and some send them apart.

All of them seem to be in mid life crisis, none of them struck me as happy or fulfilled. I couldn't see any satisfaction in life or their partners. They didn't communicate well with the right people and I often wondered how they had all ended up like this. 

The ending was interesting but not particularly satisfying for this reader. I just felt no real growth or progress  had been made by any of the characters and I couldn't see how life was going to improve for them in the future. 

A well written book that did make me think and would make a great book club book.  I am sure it would engender much discussion.

Elizabeth LeBan
Elizabeth Leban is the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, The Grandparents Handbook and The Restaurant Critic's Wife. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.

Melissa DelPino
Melissa DePino lives in Philadelphia and is a founding partner and principal of LeapFrog group, a marketing communications firm specialising in non-profits.  In her spare time, she reads voraciously, writes fiction, practices yoga, and enjoys live music.

January 17, 2017

Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay. Jill Mansell

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Published: Hachette NZ
Date: 10th January  2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 405
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Hachette NZ
4 stars                      Add to Goodreads
The man Clemency loves belongs to someone else. She has to hide her true feelings - but when she ropes in an unsuspecting friend to help, wires start to get crossed.

For the first time in Ronan's life his charm has failed him in winning over the woman he wants. Loving her from afar appears to be his only option.

Belle seems to have the perfect boyfriend, but something isn't quite right. And now a long-buried secret is slowly rising to the surface.

My thoughts banner
Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay - what an entertaining, laugh out loud read. I enjoyed every minute of it. It's light, yet it could be your neighbours next door, facing issues such as the ones the characters in Jill Mansell's latest book have to work through.

I fell in love with the characters, all over again with the lovely Cornwall setting at St Carys. It has a small town story feel to it, but with Jill Mansell's very own voice and way of presenting to readers a story they will enjoy.

There are a variety of characters. Firstly two sisters or rather step-sisters, Clemency and Annabelle. They have had their ups and downs since their parents married when they were teenagers, and they are still sorting out how they see each other. 

Ronan works with Clem, they are amazing friends and co-workers. And when Clem requests Ronan to pretend to be her boyfriend to help her out, he does, leading to all kinds of mix ups. Kate the post office worker who might have an attraction and something more for Ronan has to take a back seat. 

Sam a guy that Annabelle is with, also has links to Clem unknown to Annabelle. They once met on a plane. In fact that scene opens the book, it was a great hook in, and by the time that chapter finished I was in.

In fact there is a host of charming characters and lets just say after some misunderstandings, heart to heart talks and sorting out things all end very satisfactorily. It would make a very relaxing and heartwarming beach or holiday read. A little intrigue, some secrets eventually revealed and long lost relationships restored.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.
well written icon British author page turner icon Beach read

January 16, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join them!
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Well and another week flies by. I am a bit obsessive - I have been quilting every minute I get, then some reading and er... very little housework. Don't visit! I did manage to walk most days and tinker in the garden... a little.  That was my week and it flew by. I have made myself a list for today of things I really need to do and stop avoiding these simple little tasks!                                   

What I read last week:

Two review books read.  Jodi Thomas outdid herself on Wild Horse Springs. Loved it.
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Finished this audiobook which was time travel historical romance and was a good listen with a fun story so will most likely listen to the series as time goes by.
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What I am reading at present:

From the TBR shelf. I know many of you raved about his one when it was published, like a dutiful reader I bought it and there it sat.... until now. Already hooked into it.
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Listening to...
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Up next:

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Posts from last week:
Sweet Southern Hearts     Susan Schild
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves    Kristina McMorris

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January 15, 2017

Winners from 2016 Challenges hosted at the Book Date

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Full House Reading Challenge 2016

October to December link up of reviews: Darlene from  Darlene's Book Nook  Book from the Book Depository.  The Breakdown  B. A. Paris

Final completed house link up:  Jamie G. from Whatever You Think Of. $30 Amazon Voucher

Women's Fiction 2016 Reading Challenge

July - December link ups of reviews: Sherrie  P.  $10 Amazon voucher

Final link up for completion of challenge:  Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews $25 Amazon voucher.

Read the Books You Buy Reading Challenge 2016
Final Link Up:  Susan from Avid Series Reader  $25 Amazon Voucher

Congratulations to all the winners. 

January 13, 2017

Sweet Southern Hearts. Susan Schild

Sweet Southern Hearts Virtual book tour banner

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Published:  Kensington: Lyrical Press
Date: January 10th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 214
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
4 stars                      Add to Goodreads
Susan Schild welcomes you back to the offbeat Southern town of Willow Hill, North Carolina, for a humorous, heartwarming story of new beginnings, do-overs, and self discovery...
When it comes to marriage, third times the charm for Linny Taylor. She's thrilled to be on her honeymoon with Jack Avery, Willow Hill's handsome veterinarian.

Jack’s twelve-year- old son is resisting all Linny’s efforts to be the perfect stepmother, while her own mother, Dottie, begs her to tag along on the first week of a free-wheeling RV adventure.Who knew women “of a certain age” could drum up so much trouble? No sooner is Linny sighing with relief at being back home than she’s helping her frazzled sister with a new baby…and dealing with an unexpected legacy from her late ex. Life is fuller—and richer—than she ever imagined, but if there’s one thing Linny’s learned by now, it’s that there’s always room for another sweet surprise…
Sweet Southern Hearts is #3 in the Willow Hill series by Susan Schild.  Linny and Jack have tied the knot and the great adventure of marriage beckons. Linny has had two previous husbands, (both now deceased) and this one hopefully is going to be third time lucky.

The book opens with the two on their honeymoon, engaged in a wild water rafting trip, - Jack's choice! Linny just hangs on, but it is kind of exhilarating for her too. It turns out this is a kind of a metaphor for that first year of marriage as while there are some quiet patches in it, they sure hit a lot of rapids as well.

Linny is a bit of a people pleaser, dutiful and responsible. It's not long before things begin to mount up for her. Her business needs her attention, her mother is throwing a hissy fit over a trip she had previously wanted to go on and now has cold feet. Her stepson Neal is a two-timer, sometimes adorable and sometimes the 'kid from hell'. Jack isn't dealing that well with his ex - who has marriage problems. His boundaries are rather weak. Onto that load a crisis for sister Kate and an unexpected arrival on the doorstep. Quite a lot to deal with. Plus - its that first year of marriage.

Jack loves Linny but... at times he annoyed me with his inability to speak up to his ex and his son where he needed to. I wanted to eye him and tell him to man up. He has a treasure - take care of it. 

As well there is three fun old women - Linny's mother one of them who set out on an RV trip and have a little fun and romance along the way. Life is full of second chances when you go looking.

So there needs to be compromise, past life complications have to be dealt with and worked through, resentment might just be beginning to rear its ugly head.  As Mary Catherine ( Linny's good friend) says to Linny she needs to "toughen up". Well a white water ride might just do that and I sure was relieved when that ride was completed and there were some very happy and proud 'rafters'.

While this is part of a trilogy, this book could easily be read alone. The author deftly catches us up on the previous happenings.
Buy Links:
Amazon     Google  Itunes  Kobo

Author Info:

Susan Schild
Susan Schild writes wholesome and sunny Southern fiction. She likes stories about charming men, missing money, adventuresome women, sweet dogs, and happily ever afters at any age. Susan is a wife and a stepmother. She enjoys rummaging through thrift store for treasures like four dollar cashmere sweaters and amateur watercolor paintings. Susan has used her professional background as a psychotherapist and a management consultant to add authenticity to her characters.

SWEET SOUTHERN HEARTS, the final book in the Willow Hill series, will be released in January of 2017. Readers can look forward to more adventures, new beaus, sinister ministers, lovebirds over fifty, a road trip for Mama and her pals, and maybe even an “I Do”...or two. You can follow Susan on Facebook, Twitter and on her website or subscribe to her quarterly newsletter for inside scoop, sneak peeks and giveaways.
Susan is giving away a $25 Amazon card to celebrate the publishing of Sweet Southern Hearts.

Enter Giveaway via Rafflecopter.

January 11, 2017

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves. Kristina McMorris

Published:Kensington Books
Date: 2012
Format: Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
5 stars          Add to Goodreads
Los Angeles, 1941. Violinist Maddie Kern's life seemed destined to unfold with the predictable elegance of a Bach concerto. Then she fell in love with Lane Moritomo. Her brother's best friend, Lane is the handsome, ambitious son of Japanese immigrants. Maddie was prepared for disapproval from their families, but when Pearl Harbor is bombed the day after she and Lane elope, the full force of their decision becomes apparent. In the eyes of a fearful nation, Lane is no longer just an outsider, but an enemy.

When her husband is interned at a war relocation camp, Maddie follows, sacrificing her Juilliard ambitions. Behind barbed wire, tension simmers and the line between patriot and traitor blurs. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything to prove his allegiance to America, at tremendous cost.

My thoughts banner
Bridge of Scarlet Leaves - my first book of the year - what a powerful read.  I had read a picture book a number of years ago that told the story of how the Japanese immigrants - many of them citizens of America, were herded into camps in the U.S.A once the war broke out. So I was prepared but... Kristina McMorris' thoroughly researched, extremely well written novel opened my eyes to this time in history.  I know we are meant to learn from history and not repeat its mistakes. However  I suspect those who need to, don't read these kind of books. For I know the kind of indiscriminate decisions made then could be repeated now, in most or all countries of the world. However let us read and have our hearts and minds opened.

I loved the story of Maddie - in love with Lane a son of a Japanese immigrant and a U.S. citizen. They kept their love hidden for quite awhile because of the opposition they knew they would meet. Lane was also the best friend of T.J. Maddie's brother. T.J. took it on himself to be responsible for Maddie after their mother died and their father sunk into deep depression. T.J. would not look kindly on any relationship between Maddie and Lane.

When the war against Japan starts all their lives are changed forever. Lane's family are sent away, T.J joins up and Maddie is determined not to be separated from Lane and sets out to find him and be with him. I really don't want to give any more away, only to say it is a deeply emotional and at times very hard story to read. War atrocities and the camp at Manzanar (where Lane's family ended upt) were terrible. 

Yet there is powerful hope and a sense of the importance of life and living.   I loved the exploration of the Japanese culture and the emphasis on how important it is to reach out to each other in forgiveness, peace and hope. I loved the way Maddie integrated with Lane's family and the blossoming of Lane's mother and their ultimate decisions. I also loved how the latest addition to the family reaches out and awakens someone who has long been sunken in grief. 

I highly recommend this book to everyone.  You can also read a  review and interview with Kristina McMorris over at The Reading Frenzy if you would like to know more.

heartfelt keeper shelf thought provoking page turner

January 9, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?


It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It's a great post to organise yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children’s literature – picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit – join them!
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I hope you all had a great start to the year. It's been a quiet week for me, trying to get back into the habit of a walk most days, but weather puts me off a bit. It is meant to be summer here but so far not delivering. Although I hate really hot weather so not complaining too much. The garden has started delivering beans, potatoes, carrots, beetroot, parsnips so that part is good.

What I read last week:

Perfect book to start 2017. Excellent. Review to follow.

Great listen. Loved the reread after decades from reading it last.

Review book which was a delightful read.

What I am reading at present:

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Listening to...
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Up next:

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Posts from last week.
Mulberry Moon Catherine Anderson
Breath of Fire    Amanda Bouchet

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