Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much4.5 stars
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much more to love in Outback Ghost ... depth, layers, grief, loss, community; it's a really touching read.
I've felt for the Burton family since the disappearance of Adam Burton's young sister was first mentioned in Outback Dreams. When single mum Stella books the holiday cottage on Adam's farm to enjoy a much needed break and special time with her 7 year old daughter Heidi, the mystery slowly unravels.
Adam and Stella, *sigh* I loved their interactions, their chemistry and I really loved that there were no miscommunication issues providing conflict and drama. I loved that Adam saw Stella as a package, the way he related to Heidi was just adorable. And last but not least, I loved the joy that Heidi brought to Adam's mother's life, what a special relationship between Heidi and Esther.
'I've had sex' she told the cat proudly. 'Hot, messy, crazy, fabulous sex. With a man.' Not just any man but undoubtedly the hottest, sexiest man on the planet. Whiskers merely looked up and then turned her head and walked off in disgust. 'Might not be such a big thing for you,' Stella called out as the cat wandered back into the hallway, 'but this is monumental for me.'
The community really came together with love, support and acceptance in this final installment, a healing time ... and not just for the Burton family.
Outback Ghost will have you teary, sighing and smiling ... I loved it and I'm sad to say goodbye to Bunyip Bay.
Absolutely mesmerising, Kate Forsyth takes the magic of storytelling to a realm above and beyond.
From the frivolity and excesses of the 17th centuryAbsolutely 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!
I also loved Kate's The Wild Girl ... (a 5 star favourite) but oh my, Bitter Greens is my favourite of favourites!
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.
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 f4.5 stars
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 on The Eclectic Reader) 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 ......more
Fascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictFascinating, horrifying, evocative; Karen Brooks' meticulous research and eloquent writing took me to medieval England in the 1400's ... from the fictional town of Elmham Lenn to Southwark, London and Gloucester and the world of ale-making.
Anneke Sheldrake is such an interesting character, what she endures while establishing herself as a brewster, plagued by prejudice, sabotage and tragedy made for harrowing reading. I found the entire brewing process surprisingly fascinating ... ale, hops, beer, the ale crones, ale-conners, taxes, laws, fines, bizarre punishments and corruption.
And what a wonderful cast of characters ... Betje, Adam, Captain Stoyan, Leander, Alyson; their fierce loyalty and unwavering friendship providing a beautiful sense of family and a lightness to balance out this story. I fell in love with them, especially Alyson, the feisty owner of the Swanne bathhouse, that woman had a heart of gold.
To keep it spoiler free I won't mention the antagonist by name, I'll just say it's been a while since I've hated a character with such passion. ...would the evil bastard ever die?? Maybe it was simply a case of 50 pages too many ...
The author's historical notes were a great bonus, I didn't pick up that Alyson was Geoffrey Chaucer's Wife of Bath and this is Karen Brooks' take on her life beyond The Canterbury Tales.
All up The Brewer's Tale was a page turner, rich with historical detail and characters to love and hate. ...more
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 p4.5 stars
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. ...more
I'm seriously loving on this one!! It's one of those beautiful feel-good reads, right story, right time ... you know the one, warms your heart, leavinI'm seriously loving on this one!! It's one of those beautiful feel-good reads, right story, right time ... you know the one, warms your heart, leaving you feeling like you've been wrapped in a rainbow.
Portia has a gift, a knowing connected with food, it's a beautiful, magical, healing thing when she allows it to come.
I loved Portia from the start, I love how the story unfolded ... turmoil, chemistry, hurts, love and laughs. I wanted Gabriel and Portia to be together, neither were perfect but they seemed perfect for each other and I was torn between reading fast enough to see if my HEA wish was granted and savouring every delicious morsel.
"I am going to prove to you that I listen. I am going to prove that I love you in that madly, deeply, let-you-eat-crackers-in-my-bed, shouting-Stella-from-the-courtyard sort of way."
Linda Francis Lee does justice to a full cast of characters. It's not all sunshine and roses, there are some unlikable characters in the mix but for the most part I adored them - Portia's sisters, quirky neighbours Stanley and Marcus, Gabriel's daughters ... I liked Miranda with all her teenage angst but I have a soft spot reserved for Gabriel's youngest daughter Ariel, she's pivotal in the story with her insight and sass.
I can't recommend this one highly enough, if you love emotional reads with a touch of whimsy and magic, if you believe in the healing power of food and following your heart, you'll adore The Glass Kitchen. It really is love on a plate! ...more
The Escape Artist is an entertaining story, relatable if a little dated but that's to be expected considering it was first published in 1997.3.5 stars
The Escape Artist is an entertaining story, relatable if a little dated but that's to be expected considering it was first published in 1997. Coleen Marlo is a narrator I haven't tried before; smooth voice, an easy listen, a narrator I'd be happy to listen to again.
The Escape Artist held my interest and pulled at my heart strings, I was rooting for Susanna from the get go, understanding the lengths she went to to keep her son. Well paced, the plot is a little transparent, somewhat predictable and one of the sub plots a bit left field but overall it's an enjoyable, worthwhile listen.
I'm a fan of Diane Chamberlain's work ... I've read 5 or 6 and have been slowly working my way through her backlist. My favourite is still The Midwife's Confession but I have her new book, The Silent Sister coming up soon. ...more
I enjoyed The Darkest Hour but it's far from my favourite Barbara Erskine. It's my first time listening to Sandra Duncan, she did a wonderful3.5 stars
I enjoyed The Darkest Hour but it's far from my favourite Barbara Erskine. It's my first time listening to Sandra Duncan, she did a wonderful job with narration and I'd certainly pick up something narrated by her again. I didn't give the 20+ hours a thought when I bought The Darkest Hour, I was only interested in getting into the latest from one of my favourite authors but if I'm being honest, this one dragged at times.
The plot moves effortlessly and distinctly between WWII the Battle of Britain and the present day as art historian Lucy Standish delves into war artist Evie Lucas's mysterious past and gathers research for her biography.
The time-slip tale is something Barbara Erskine does exceptionally well and I was interested in both Evie and Lucy's story. The descriptions of airfields, raids, the pilots and their planes were well researched and evocative so I really enjoyed those scenes.
However, I much prefer Barbara Erskine's ancient history 'hauntings' to the ghostly premise in The Darkest Hour ... this one just didn't have the same tragic or sinister pull.
Recommend: enjoyable but too easily put down....more
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'tI 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. ...more
Fun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogFun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogue.
I loved the contemporary setting, Brisbane (where I live) and even more perfect ... a book store, Birdie's secondhand romance bookstore *sighworthy* - the almost tangible smell of aged ink on weathered paper. And pepermint. Two aromas synonymous with the shop.
Sensible, career focused, romance reading Samantha, of the body image issues and talking, tap dancing eggs HA. And then there's sexy, risk-taking Nick. After Nick's grandmother Birdie passes away he swaps his extreme sports career for running the bookstore while he recuperates from injury.
Despite Nick and Samantha's instant attraction I loved how naturally things progressed between them. Samantha's many blind date dramas cracked me up, not to mention the whole vibrator, vodka, Tim Tam scene. As much as I cringed over her self-deprecating comments, I adored Nick for building her up.
Have to say I was deliriously happy for Samantha (and myself) when her eggs finally shut the hell up with their cheeping ;) ...more
Back in my happy place with Do Over crew Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre ... I keep saying these women could renovate a garbage can and4.5 stars
Back in my happy place with Do Over crew Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre ... I keep saying these women could renovate a garbage can and I'd be along for the ride.
I love the reno/rehabbing details, the beautifully described surrounds, sunrises and sunsets. Most of all I love the womens' personal do-overs, their growth individually and in their relationships. Read the books in order and you see that progression, feel their frustration, laugh and cry with them, cheer them on.
Their latest assignment in Florida Keys is the run down estate of former rocker, William Hightower aka William the Wild. I honestly didn't think the whole aging rock star - ego -rehab - recovering alcoholic 'thing' would do it for me but I'm happy to admit I was sooo wrong, and I loved that the spotlight was on Maddie in this installment.
This series is all about transformations ... The House on Mermaid Point takes an unexpected sad turn, an emotionally real one but through laughs and tears, I'm hooked. I love these women and I love their connection ... can't wait to see what they're up to next.
PS Booyah! for the *up yours* to bitch production head Lisa Hogan :) ...more
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 iNora 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 ... for me it didn't come close to The Witness ...more
Following on from Ten Beach Road we join Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre as they breathe life back into The Millicent, a run down art deco mansiFollowing on from Ten Beach Road we join Maddie, Avery, Nikki, Kyra and Deidre as they breathe life back into The Millicent, a run down art deco mansion in South Beach. I've fallen in love with this eclectic bunch of women ... they could renovate a garbage can and I'd read.
Of course that might have just a little to do with the author so stay with me for a little Wendy Wax fangirl-ing ...
* love her style * strong female characters * insightful family & friendship dynamics * dry sense of humour * 90 year old Max owner of The Millicent is an absolute darling * beach setting *sigh* ... sun, sand, sea and cocktails; coming into winter in Australia it goes a long way to feeding the fantasy, even with the humidity, hard work and sweat storyline
Rebuilding The Millicent, their relationships and battered finances in the harsh camera spotlight (yep more reality show than remodeling. much to their horror) was once again pure entertainment and escapism for me and I can't wait for the next chapter in their lives.
After recently listening to the audiobook of While We Were Watching Downton Abbey (and loving it) I joined the Wendy Wax fan club and dived straight into her Ten Beach Road series.
The synopsis gives you the gist of things but what I love most about Wendy Wax is she totally gets her characters, female friendships, family dynamics, those mother-daughter relationships that make you feel like you need therapy ... do you know what I mean? She writes in such an intimate way they feel real to you, not just characters in a book.
Even having little in common with Avery, Nikki and Madeline's former lifestyle (I identified with Maddie as an empty-nester) I really could see myself joining them for strawberry daiquiris and cheez doodles (I figure they're a bit like our Aussie cheezels) at sunset. From mutual adversity to unlikely friendship, I liked the bond they shared, their humour and sarcasm, I am woman hear me roar strength, vulnerability, temper, quirks ... I loved it all.
The renovation of Bella Flora was a reno on steroids ... I loved the attention to detail, the blood, sweat and tears, the nitty gritty may not be everyone's cup of tea but it really appealed to me.
I'm following straight on with Ocean Beach (any excuse for another daiquiri) in anticipation of the July 1st release of book 3, The House On Mermaid Point. ...more
More than just a quirky title, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a unique tale that held my attention from start to finish. 15 yearMore than just a quirky title, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is a unique tale that held my attention from start to finish. 15 year old Christopher Boone narrates his own story.
He's a maths genius, doesn't like to be touched, struggles with emotional cues and connections, he's unintentionally funny, dislikes corn haha, hates the colours yellow and brown, he finds order soothing and his condition makes him very literal.
Early in the story Christopher investigates the killing of his neighbour's dog Wellington, unearthing something that turns the structure and order of his life upside down, pushing him far outside his comfort zone.
Mark Haddon captures Christopher's 'voice' insightfully, his unique perception of the world, how he thinks and feels and how his autism affects those around him ... you can't help but be pulled in. The prime-number chapters, narrative style and other quirks all add to the story.
Excellent narration by Jeff Woodman, worth the read. ...more
Tanya Saad's memoir is compelling, articulate, informative and moving. With the hereditary BRCA1 gene mutation and Tanya's family history it wasn't aTanya Saad's memoir is compelling, articulate, informative and moving. With the hereditary BRCA1 gene mutation and Tanya's family history it wasn't a case of if she got ovarian and/or breast cancer but when. Preventative treatment choices are confronting and life changing on both a physical and emotional level ... bilateral mastectomy, removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries but in terms of risk management, they're also life-affirming.
Tanya's childhood and family recollections are woven through the adult narrative; growing up in the small, country town of Taree, her Lebanese heritage, bullied in school, work in the family shoe store, the bond between herself and sisters, Paula and Vivian, their 3 month holiday to Lebanon in 1990 just months after the end of the civil war, her beautiful relationship with grandmother Teta.
As an adult Tanya moves on from Taree, to Canberra and a successful career and competitive sporting life. Following confirmation that Tanya, along with her sister Paula, had the BRCA1 gene fault, Tanya frankly shares the emotions, statistics, screenings, surgical choices, skin/nipple sparing/reconstruction options, and her ultimate decisions.
I love Paula and Tanya's 'mantra' adapted from the movie Cool Runnings ..
I have pride, I have power. I'm a badass mother that don't take no crap from nobody.
A read rich in culture and courage, a tribute to the ordinary - extraordinary women (and to a lesser extent men) faced with harmful BRCA gene mutations.
I am in awe ... seriously, how does Emilie Richards do it? This is the 3rd installment in the Goddesses Anonymous series and it's another win4.5 stars
I am in awe ... seriously, how does Emilie Richards do it? This is the 3rd installment in the Goddesses Anonymous series and it's another winner. Winner ... an unusual choice of words for the heartbreaking issue of domestic violence but at the heart of No River Too Wide is strength, hope, courage and triumph.
Emilie Richards writes with truth, I know this ... for 10 years I lived an abusive marriage. (thank God not Janine's) In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago, in others, I'm a work in progress. (To Move Forward, To Begin Healing 2010) I'm not looking back ... breaking the silence goes some small way to breaking the power and hold of abusers.
... as does having a support network. It takes courage to reach out and accept what's offered and it was heartwarming watching Janine's interactions with her support network. Reuniting with her daughter Harmony and meeting grandaughter Lottie for the first time, another step in the healing process. I cheered each and every one of Janine's steps to reclaiming her self.
I loved catching up with the characters from One Mountain Away; they're the trustees of the mountain cabin called The Goddess House, a safe haven for women needing a fresh start or second chance. Emilie Richards keeps it very real when we see how Harmony and Taylor are fairing, their emotions and reactions resonated with me. It's the women that hold my attention, rather than the mystery but I must admit I enjoyed the challenges Adam Pryor brought to the mix.
I want so much to convey my love for the gorgeous, lyrical quality, the raw honesty of Emilie Richards' writing but relating so personally has made this a difficult review to write ... my brain is cramping. I can't rave enough about the series and I really love the titles, they represent the themes of each book so beautifully.
"Abandon perfection. Welcome reflection. Nuture connection." Taylor paused. "And to that I think we need to add 'offer protection.'" ...more