This was my first Barbara Hannay read. What rock have I been living under?? ... I have no idea why Hannay hasn't come to my attention before 4.5 stars
This was my first Barbara Hannay read. What rock have I been living under?? ... I have no idea why Hannay hasn't come to my attention before now but I've been missing out.
The Secret Years is a multi-generational story blending contemporary and historical narratives into an utterly captivating read.
It's a story where the past bleeds into the present, the effect of long held secrets rippling through generations.
Lucy returns home to Australia from a 6 month deployment in Afghanistan. Her mother and beloved grandfather Harry's reticence in talking about the past, then her discovery of a tin of her grandfather's wartime memorabilia, impetus for heading to Cornwall, England to unravel the secrets of her family's history.
Harry and George's (Georgina) story (the historical narrative) was my favourite, it's tender and brave and the war added tension and urgency to their romance. But, I was surprised to enjoy Lucy and 'cousin' Nick's story almost as much. Lucy's search for answers is integral in pulling all the pieces of the story together.
The Secret Years has a wonderful sense of place, whether it was the harsh beauty and isolation of the Australian bush, London during the Blitz, the dramatic beauty of the Cornish coastline or the lush beauty, humidity and danger of Rabaul, New Guinea during the Japanese invasion, I was transported effortlessly and completely immersed.
The Secret Years is an evocative story of great love, loss and secrets. Family history gives us a strong sense of identity so the story is also a journey of self discovery. Hannay breathes life and love into the pages.
One of the benefits of discovering an author late is an extensive backlist to devour :)...more
Ooh I loved this ... falling in love with a cover paid off this time.
Why I loved it? ... just because. Does that cut it? It's a story that spoke to meOoh I loved this ... falling in love with a cover paid off this time.
Why I loved it? ... just because. Does that cut it? It's a story that spoke to me for no one reason I can put my finger on ... it just did.
... "there is something delightful about helping a key find its way back to a lock, so it can do the work it was meant for. "
"Are you going to let yourself be defeated by a little lock? Remember Genevieve: Love laughs at locksmiths! Trust your old uncle."
The story moves seamlessly from Genevieve in the present day to her time in Paris as a teenager staying with uncle Dave and tante Pasquale, to her mother Angela's bittersweet time in Paris. I was captivated by it all.
I loved the symbolism ... secrets, locks ... opening your heart to new experiences, life and love.
All the talk about boulangerie's, baguette's, pain au chocolat had me longing once more for Paris.
The story felt like Paris ... that beguiling mix of old fashioned values and sophistication, lingering over conversations, good food and wine, enjoying simple pleasures.
Walking in Paris with Genevieve felt intimate, discovering along with her, places I've visited and some I'm adding to the bucket list ... Village Saint-Paul, Montparnasse cemetry, Le Pont Traversé (the old butcher's bookshop.) I loved her interactions in Paris, her struggles with French bureaucracy and efforts to learn the language.
I adored Genevieve's Parisian friend Sylviane. I could read a book about her ... how 'bout it Juliet?
The Paris Key is a story about secrets, family, friends and discovering one's true self ... in Paris.
It must be a daunting task to follow on from the success of a first novel like The Language of Flowers (which I adored beyond words.) Blood,4.5 stars
It must be a daunting task to follow on from the success of a first novel like The Language of Flowers (which I adored beyond words.) Blood, sweat and tears were obviously poured into this story, you can feel it. Wings may not have quite the same charm as flowers but it's quirky with Diffenbaugh's trademark beautiful prose and take, on timely social issues. I couldn't put it down.
When Letty's undocumented parents abruptly return to Mexico, 33 year old Letty Espinosa finally steps up to 'mother' her 15 year old son Alex, and 6 year old Luna, a precocious child who would have even the Mother-Theresa-of-mothers, tearing her hair out.
The story alternates between Letty's perspective and Alex's. I cared about all the characters. The burden of responsibility on Alex's young shoulders made my heart ache. Letty isn't an easy character to like, she's hardened with a long history of poor choices and when those poor choices involved her children, I really didn't think I'd connect with her. But Diffenbaugh writes flawed characters with truth and compassion ... I was drawn in, I began to understand and empathise rather than judge. And then I cheered as she chose a new path and made changes.
"Migrating birds reorient themselves at sunset. The exact reason is unknown, but at twilight, just when the sun drops beyond the horizon line, birds flying in the wrong direction correct their paths all at once."
I liked the parallel between migrating birds and people correcting mistakes and their paths. And I loved the science and memory in feathers (who'd have thought) ... being a little cryptic here as you just have to read this yourself.
We Never Asked For Wings highlights not only the struggles for undocumented immigrants but the differences between the haves and the have-nots, poverty, education and housing opportunities, bullying. But, it also illustrates the innate goodness of people, the kind of goodness that restores your faith and ignites that little spark of hope.
It's a story about family and choices and finding your true place. Mistakes don't have to define you. Choosing a new path takes courage but brings hope for a different future.
“'I love it,' Letty said, kissing Luna's cherry lips and wondering how a half-eaten lollipop could somehow taste like a reason to stay.”
I think the ending would have benefited from a few more pages but I'm seriously crushing on Vanessa Diffenbaugh's writing. ...more
HOLY guacamole this was BRILLIANT, a 2015 favourite read. It's intelligent, edgy and tight ... the very best kind of psychological thriller. Even theHOLY guacamole this was BRILLIANT, a 2015 favourite read. It's intelligent, edgy and tight ... the very best kind of psychological thriller. Even the title and cover art is creepy good.
Tessa is the only surviving victim of the Black-Eyed Susans serial killer. The story moves seamlessly between past and present, teenage Tessie and adult Tessa almost 2 decades on, with a teenage daughter of her own.
Tessa's fragmented memories and growing desperation added wings to my own anxiety and as the murderer's execution loomed the sense of urgency grew. Was he wrongfully convicted?
Black-Eyed Susans had my skin crawling with dread, there's no graphic violence but the suspense almost killed me. My thoughts were jumping as erratically as my heart. So true about the sense of smell and memories. Such visceral reactions to Heaberlin's writing ... LOVE that.
I had my suspicions and I was correct (to a point) but the author's skill with misdirection. Wow, talk about amping the suspense. I was all over the place.
What more could you ask for? ... superb characterisation, gorgeous writing, the forensic science/DNA, psychological and legal aspect all fascinating, obviously well researched and executed brilliantly.
I'd laughed, something close to the way I used to, and imagined it drifting out under the bedroom door, smoothing out a tight wrinkle in my father's face.
Not just right book, right time but the perfect feel-good read for one of those not-feeling-so-good days. Which is kind of weird b4.5 stars loved it!!
Not just right book, right time but the perfect feel-good read for one of those not-feeling-so-good days. Which is kind of weird because this isn't a fluffy romance or even just a hot romantic romp, although it is hot. This romance has issues and I love issues.
And I read it in one sitting, which if you've been reading my blog lately you'll know how not-like-me that is ... Racing the Sun kicked my snail's pace to the curb. It was heat and heart and I loved it.
I suddenly remember where I am. Sad lemon house. Capri. New job. Traumatized twins. Hot mysterious Italian boss.
Sums it up well.
The breeze wafts in from the sea and carries the scent of fresh herbs and bracing salt and lemons, the way I imagine sunshine should smell.
When July slides into August like a hot greasy egg sliding off a frying pan, Capri becomes its most unbearable.
The descriptions of the Amalfi coast, Positano, Naples, Capri and the Villa dei Limoni Tristi had me dying for my own slice of Italy ... I settled for pizza. At least it was real Italian pizza :)
I loved Amber, she's adventurous and brave and she tells it like it is.
Somehow, and I don't know how, because that banana hammock is just begging for people to stare, I manage to tear my eyes away from him just as he looks up.
I turn around, about to ask Derio and his penis whether this is the place to go in the water, but he strides to the edge of the water and does a perfect swan dive off.
HA banana hammock :) Guys in Australia mostly wear boardies. Speedos (budgie smugglers) are so not cool. Unless you're a surf life saver or Derio.
The only thing I didn't love ... Amber's disparaging comments about her body. I hang there like a fat orangatan... sheesh really? luckily when things heat up with Derio, she gets over herself quick enough.
"Did you feel anything?" "No," he murmurs. "I felt everything."
Racing the Sun will have you fang-ing for Italian food. Hey, if you're not single, putting it out there that you want your very own hot Italian guy is just not on. So. Food it is.
Ciao. My bags are packed, I'm ready for Italy.
... Ok I'm off to plan my pinterest holiday.
Alrighty ... I'm heading to the Italian restaurant at the end of our street. ...more
After the wonder of A Man Called Ove I jumped at the chance to read Fredrik Backman's latest.
And just like A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked MeAfter the wonder of A Man Called Ove I jumped at the chance to read Fredrik Backman's latest.
And just like A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry was a whole lot of feeling; one minute laughing out loud, the next minute tears flowing.
I fell in love with wonderful, crazy Granny and precocious 7 year old Elsa, having a granddaughter of my own I felt their special bond.
"Life-saving and driving people nuts are Granny's superpowers. Which perhaps makes her a bit of a dysfunctional superhero."
"Which is one of Elsa's favourite things about her Granny." Up there with throwing turds at the police?? lol ... "It's a little complicated."
"Because all seven-year-olds deserve superheroes."
I love fairytales, I loved that the roots of Granny's fairytales were planted in reality. And I loved Elsa's mission "to deliver every single one of Granny's sorries." But I'm guessing I'll be in the minority when I say wading through the 5 kingdoms in the Land-of-Almost-Awake was too long-winded for me and stopped this being a favourite read.
But what I loved ... I really loved.
I loved the honesty, the naivety and complexity, the craziness, absurdity and childish wonder of it all.
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry is a treasure chest of life lessons wrapped up in imagination, warmth and humour.
"Granny then said the real trick of life was that almost no one is entirely a shit and almost no one is entirely not a shit. The hard part of life is keeping as much on the not-a-shit side as one can." ...more
My friend Karen, some-time-guest-reviewer-on-the-eclectic-reader, fellow Higgins fan, instigator of my growing KH book collection, 4.5 stars loved it!
My friend Karen, some-time-guest-reviewer-on-the-eclectic-reader, fellow Higgins fan, instigator of my growing KH book collection, partner-in-stalker-ing at ARRC 2013, read If You Only Knew around the same time I did so we decided to share the Kristan Higgins love and combine our thoughts on her latest with some fangirl ramblings a semi coherent joint review.
What did you think? Karen: I loved it. I know when I open a Kristan Higgin's novel it's going to brighten my day and If You Only Knew didn't disappoint.
Me: I loved it too. If You Only Knew has major 'feels' and kudos to Kristan for transitioning deftly into the field of women's fiction.
The story? Karen: I'm trying to think of a way to describe the storyline and this conversation between Jenny and Leo on Jenny's return from the grand opening of her bridal design store, Bliss, sums it up ….
“Well, let’s see. My mom told at least nine people how wretched she’s been since my father died twenty-two years ago, my ex-husband, his beautiful wife and perfect baby showed up, and my sister’s husband confirmed that he’s having amazing sex with someone else.” “Shit. Now I wish I’d gone.” He sits down in the chair across from me. “I’m sorry about Rachel.”
I’m still trying to decide which aspect of the story I enjoyed the most.
Me: It's all about relationships. The bond between sisters Jenny and Rachel, the girls' testy relationship with their widowed mother, Jenny's oddly intimate relationship with ex-husband Owen and his new family, Rachel and Adam's marriage, Rachel supermum to adorable triplet daughters, Jenny's desire for a relationship with reclusive landlord Leo.
I loved the emotion, the laughs and tears, the snerk-funny stuff and I particularly loved that it was all so firmly centered in realness. I liked that I felt angry and frustrated with them all at different times. I wanted both Jenny and Rachel to value themselves more.
Any surprises? Karen: I think what surprised me most was the emotion I felt, reading about Rachel dealing with her husband’s infidelity. Kristen has written some very powerful paragraphs about what a real marriage might go through….not just “he cheated, it's over.” Struggling with your feelings, when you obviously still love your husband.
It’s the first time I’ve really cried in front of him since I found that horrible picture. “Oh, sweetheart,” he says, pulling me into his arms and I hate that it feels so good to be held, and I hate that we fit together so perfectly, and I love that he knows just how to rub my back and stroke my hair. I love him. I hate him. And I’m so tired of feeling both ways.
Me: not surprise, more like relief, that whilst this story is about the very real and heart-breaky experiences in life, Kristan's trademark snarky humour remains firmly entrenched.
take Rachel's conversation with old Mrs Donovon and her weeping outie-snoutie-belly-button. Only Kristan Higgins could turn a visit to the Doctor for an STD panel, courtesy of your lying, cheating husband ... into emotional hilarity.
Do you know how challenging it is to gag and laugh at the same time??
or Jenny accompanying Rachel to the plastic surgeon .... liposuction, labia plumping and tears.
"You don't need anything changed about you," I say, my voice shaking. "I know," she whispers, "I just can't ... I can't help... I hate myself for coming here, but I can't help it! Emmanuelle is so beautiful Jenny! She's so scary beautiful! She's Maleficent beautiful." ... "I bet she's not that beautiful." "She is," my sister says. "Well, she has a very ugly vagina," I say, and my sister bursts into that mixture of laughter and crying.
Final thoughts? Karen: I want more Jenny and Leo and I want to know what happens with Rachel down the track ... they need their own book.
Me: I want a night at the Tribeca Grand ...
But I also agree with Karen, I want more of it all. ...more
My first time reading Australian author Tricia Stringer and Heart of the Country appears to be her first foray into adult historical fiction.4.5 stars
My first time reading Australian author Tricia Stringer and Heart of the Country appears to be her first foray into adult historical fiction. Historical fiction being one of my favourite genres to read and me being a self-confessed-fussy-cow I gotta say, Tricia Stringer nails it!
Heart of the Country is set in the mid 1800's during pastoral settlement of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia. We follow young Thomas Baker as he strikes out for 'Penakie' and a new life.
There's a wide cast of characters to love and loathe but I particularly adored Thomas and Lizzie, Gulda and Daisy and Lizzie's brothers Zac and Jacob. I laughed and cried along with them as life and the land dished out joys and hardships. I giggled at Thomas's embarrassment getting a boil lanced on his backside, sighed at the sheer vastness and beauty of our country and wished a 'bad' end on a few vile characters HA.
Stringer captures the wild beauty and ruggedness of our country, the harsh conditions and isolation, the scorching heat, drought that brings the country to its knees, the loss of livestock, the very human toll but also the camaraderie between (most) properties despite the distance. I loved the respect shown to the culture of original land owners but I also appreciated that Stringer didn't gloss over the often negative and shameful encounters between white settlers and indigenous Australians.
Heart of the Country is authentic, vibrant and colourful, full of tension, and tender moments. 500 pages flew by. No hardship reading this one ... I loved it!
I loved that Heart of the Country had a satisfying ending, no cliffhanger to torture me for a year and I can't wait to see what awaits the next generation.
Maybe a little Tricia Stringer rural romance while I wait for the 2nd installment? ...more
It's no secret I'm a Diane Chamberlain fan. I've read eight or nine books now and enjoyed them all. I haven't loved them all b 4.5 stars review up soon
It's no secret I'm a Diane Chamberlain fan. I've read eight or nine books now and enjoyed them all. I haven't loved them all but Pretending to Dance is right up there with another favourite ... The Midwife's Confession. Chamberlain's writing is smart and poignant and topical and I found Pretending to Dance particularly relevant.
Molly has kept her past a secret from her husband Aidan, a past that has laid the ground work for Molly's fears and anxieties as the couple begin the process of adopting a baby.
Chamberlain deftly peels back the layers as the story flashes back and forth from adult Molly to 14 year old Molly. I figured out the 'family meetings' early on but far from lessening my enjoyment, I actually had trouble putting this one down.
Molly had such a heart-melting bond with her therapist father. I adored their interactions, the music shared (nostalgia +) and their closeness. But with Molly being so responsible at 14, I was a bit disappointed her parents weren't a little more open, it didn't quite fit. But, that would have completely changed the dynamics of the story. Anyway, enough with the cryptic ... just read it, I'd love to know what you think!
Diane Chamberlain's insight as a former social worker and psychotherapist is evident in her writing, adding emotion and depth to complex family dynamics. I love that. You may need tissues.
And heads up ... the prequel The Dance Begins gives a little background and packs an emotional punch for a short story. Well worth the read, I loved it. ...more
I love dysfunctional family stories, I'm drawn to all the psychological fall-out and I get thoroughly caught up in the emotion.
35 year old T 4.5 stars
I love dysfunctional family stories, I'm drawn to all the psychological fall-out and I get thoroughly caught up in the emotion.
35 year old Taisy and twin brother Marcus have been estranged from their father for almost 17 years. When Wilson Cleary commands invites Taisy to stay, does it signal reconciliation? You'll have to read it and see :)
I really enjoyed Taisy and Willow's alternating perspective. Taisy's narration was my favourite, I loved her dry sense of humour, strength, independence and loyalty to her brother. Marcus is irreverent and hilarious. 16 year old Willow is a frustrating mix of naivety, intelligence, superiority and childishness ... a product of the loathesome Wilson??
Ahh Wilson ... what an unlikable character; cold, critical, arrogant, self-centered ass ... and my opinion didn't change as the story evolved but he's the fundamental reason for the dysfunction in this family, so thanks at least for that Wilson Cleary.
Abby Craden and Arielle DeLisle nailed the narration. I think listening to the audio rather than reading the book brought that something extra to the story and really enhanced the experience for me.
There were a few plot holes and I would have liked to have had more time with Taisy and old flame Ben but all in all my first Marisa de los Santos read was wonderful. I love her almost whimsical writing, the family dynamics are complex and insightful and the characters, with one exception, endearing. ...more
I'm drawn to stories about family dynamics and secrets and wine and Brandie's glowing review had me pushing this to the top of my reading list. ThanksI'm drawn to stories about family dynamics and secrets and wine and Brandie's glowing review had me pushing this to the top of my reading list. Thanks for giving me a new author to stalk Brandie ;)
A week before her wedding Georgia discovers her fiance Ben has been keeping secrets. She hightails it back to the family vineyard and finds her family unraveling with secrets of their own.
Set on a Sonoma vineyard, Eight Hundred Grapes has a wonderful sense of place. I loved the details on the wine varieties and the winemaking process especially since Georgia's father is a biodynamic winemaker.
I liked Georgia but she also frustrated me, her on-again-off-again indecision drove me a little nuts but I guess she just had to get there in her own time. Ben ... hmm I actually thought he was a bit of a dick. It didn't really lessen my enjoyment of the story, probably because there was so much to love.
Eight Hundred Grapes is about about family, love, forgiveness and finding your place and it left me smiling.
A gorgeous summery read to enjoy while guzzling savouring a glass of wine.
"You have to grow about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn't an argument to finish the bottle, I don't know what is." - Anonymous
I'm linking up to weekend cooking because wine totally counts as a food group ... right?
Fox 2000 has optioned the movie rights, this will be wonderful on the big screen....more
I'm having trouble putting my very mixed feelings about The Color of our Sky into words so this may not be the most coherent of reviews. OverwhelmingI'm having trouble putting my very mixed feelings about The Color of our Sky into words so this may not be the most coherent of reviews. Overwhelming sadness, rage, hopelessness.
We are dropped straight into the caste system of India and introduced to Mukta, born lower caste, the daughter of a temple prostitute and destined to the same fate, sold at the tender age of ten. *truth* I wanted to hurt the grandmother that sold her.
Whilst the Devadasi tradition was deemed illegal in 1988, it's still practiced in parts today. It's almost impossible to comprehend a tradition such as this, a society that allows it, and it was really difficult to read.
The story is told in alternating chapters from Mukta and Tara. Mukta's broke my heart.
I didn't really care for Tara. I found her disingenuous and undeserving of Mukta's loyalty but I'm probably in the minority on that count. I also had trouble coming to grips with Tara's father ... as kindly and 'progressive' as he was, as much as he helped, he still couldn't see Mukta treated equally. One of Tara's musings about America stayed with me.
What I always found strange was the affection people placed in pets. It was more than we ever placed in Mukta.
Just when you feel it's a losing battle against apathy and corruption, there are glimmers of light with the agency and rescue centers' work. I hope this is a light that exists for the real Mukta's in captivity.
In the author's notes Amita Trasi states that although the village of Ganipur is fictional, "there are similar villages in the area that practice the Devdasi traditions and force young girls into the prostitution trade. The tradition of temple prostitution is especially prevalent in the poorer sections of society."
The Color of our Sky is both heart-achingly beautiful and excruciatingly painful and whilst there's hope I wouldn't call the book hopeful, more a tribute to resilience.
Food, Love and Paris ... sold! Ok I confess, I wanted this one for the cover.
In 1909 Guillaume (Gui) Du Frere, leaves Bordeaux for Paris and3.5 stars
Food, Love and Paris ... sold! Ok I confess, I wanted this one for the cover.
In 1909 Guillaume (Gui) Du Frere, leaves Bordeaux for Paris and a job as a railway labourer. He finds so much more than he ever imagined when a chance encounter with Jeanne Clermont, daughter of a famous Parisian confectioner opens the door on the Patisserie Clermont and forbidden love. In 1988 Petra Stevenson is determined to uncover a family secret involving her late grandfather.
I loved the historical narrative and Gui and Jeanne and I begrudged leaving 1909. Actually the swings from present day to the historical timeline were so fast I found it quite unsettling, just as I was immersed, I was yanked out ... torture, I kid you not. That's my only reason for not rating this higher as Madeleine's writing is beautiful and her descriptions of Paris and the Clermont Patisserie, rich and evocative.
The workings of the patisserie kitchen, the sweet smell of sugar and chocolate, cream and warm caramel, the delicate pastries ... my mouth was watering.
There were whole, plump roses steeping in honey; purple-stained sugar, thick with lavender, tiny jars of crimson threads, cherries and peaches suspended in syrup as if they had fallen there from the trees. The luxurious scents wrapped around him. Butter, his nose relayed, cream, nuts, brandy, chocolate ...
The Confectioner's Tale had me pining for Paris. Macarons or chocolate éclairs are mandatory with this read :)
Paris and bookshop in the same title ... who could resist? I picked this one up on audio and enjoyed both the quirky nature of the story and characterParis and bookshop in the same title ... who could resist? I picked this one up on audio and enjoyed both the quirky nature of the story and characters.
I love the philosophy of the healing power of books, so the idea of a literary apothecary is simply magical.
" … A book is both medic and medicine at once. It makes a diagnosis as well as offering therapy. Putting the right novels to the appropriate ailments: that’s how I sell books.”
"I wanted to treat feelings that are not recognized as afflictions and are never diagnosed by doctors. All those little feelings and emotions no therapist is interested in, because they are apparently too minor and intangible. The feeling that washes over you when another summer nears its end. Or when you recognize that you haven't got your whole life left to find out where you belong. Or the slight sense of grief when a friendship doesn't develop as you thought, and you have to continue your search for a lifelong companion. Or those birthday morning blues. Nostalgia for the air of your childhood. Things like that."
Perdu is such an interesting character; insightful and outspoken with others and yet surprisingly stupid blinkered with his own emotional well being.
I fell in love with George's prose ... Perdu's journey from Paris to Provence along the waterways, dispensing wisdom and collecting travelling companions, the beautiful descriptions of French food and wine, the blooms and herbs, the countryside, the tango scene. I felt transported and immersed in the colour and fragrance of the region.
I imagine, like Perdu's feelings regarding books “There are books that are suitable for a million people, others for only a hundred. There are even remedies—I mean books—that were written for one person only." this won't be a book for everyone, if you're after a succinct, fast paced read this may not be for you. It wanders off on tangents but for me the meandering, contemplative style was half the charm ... to be tasted, savoured and mulled over.
At the end of the story there's descriptions of Provencal cuisine, produce specific to the region and a number of delicious Provencal recipes that had my mouth watering. And then there is "Jean Perdu's Emergency Literary Pharmacy" ... amusing and perceptive book recommendations to suit any number of ailments.
Fast-acting medicines for minds and hearts affected by minor or moderate emotional turmoil.
To be taken in easily digestible doses (between five and fifty pages) unless otherwise indicated and if possible, with warm feet and/or with a cat on your lap.
Suggestions such as:
Adams, Douglas.The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Five Parts Effective in large doses for treating pathological optimism or a sense of humor failure. Ideal for sauna goers with exhibitionist tendencies. Side effects: An aversion to owning things, and a potentially chronic tendency to wear a dressing gown all day.
Martin, George R.R.A Game of Thrones Helps one to kick a TV habit and to cope with love sickness, the hassles of daily life and tedious dreams. Side effects: insomnia, unsettling dreams.
Verdict: The Little Paris Bookshop is a charming look at life and death and everything in between. It's a "love letter to books" and a journey of self discovery in the autumn of one's life.
PS. I thought Ray Sawyer did a great job with narration and I'd be happy to listen to him again. ...more
Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I c4.5 stars
Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I couldn't put it down, finishing in the wee hours ... the sleep deprivation was totally worth it.
Northern Heat is definitely a stand-alone novel but if you've read Safe Harbour you'll recognise Conor as the yachtsman pulled from wild seas. I didn't pick up on that from the synopsis but I was so happy to get more of Conor.
Kristy and Conor are two of my favourite characters; scarred by tragedy but strong, passionate and resilient. They're portrayed with depth and compassion and I was completely pulled in to their lives, cheering them on. Whilst the attraction between Conor and Kristy sparks immediately, I loved seeing their relationship play out naturally over time.
Helene tackles the subject of domestic violence with sensitivity, Kristy and Freya's story rang true for me and I read with my stomach churning and my heart in my mouth. The vivid descriptions of our Australian landscape show respect and appreciation of the harsh beauty and diversity, the challenges faced in remote areas, the weather extremes, from drought to devastating cyclones. Cyclone Kate bearing down on the community of Cooktown heightened an already tense plot ... talk about building to a crescendo.
It's no easy feat to advance a plot at a cracking pace without sacrificing character development and authenticity. Helene Young finds the perfect balance and makes it look effortless. A favourite read this year.
A delight to read, Wally will capture the hearts of children and adults alike. He's an adventurous young penguin who longs to be warm and sets off froA delight to read, Wally will capture the hearts of children and adults alike. He's an adventurous young penguin who longs to be warm and sets off from Antarctica to the Galapagos Islands.
Beautifully written, with a fun, catchy rhyme and the illustrations are gorgeous; colourful and eye-catching. Wally's sense of fun and adventure will appeal to children and the child in us 'big people.'
As Wally explores the Galapagos Islands, readers are introduced to some of the unusual creatures that make their home there. At the end of the story is a Fascinating Facts section about the animals which older children and adults reading to children will also appreciate.
I adored Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin, this was a fun book to read aloud and my granddaughter loved the bright colours. I'd love to join Wally for more adventures ... somewhere else warm of course....more
My first Sarah Alderson but it won't be my last. Heart-racing pace without sacrificing character or plot development ... what a wicked ride.4.5 stars
My first Sarah Alderson but it won't be my last. Heart-racing pace without sacrificing character or plot development ... what a wicked ride.
Nic Preston lands on Finn Carter's doorstep after her apartment's security system is breached and her home broken into. Are the killers who brutally murdered her mother and stepsister 2 years ago back to finish the job? Hacker extraordinaire Finn may be her only chance of survival.
I loved the dual narrative from Nic and Finn. Nic's opinion of Finn changes from understandable dislike and mistrust to something more as the storyline progresses and I really bought how their relationship developed. I adored Finn from the get-go, he's smart and hot and even with his questionable deals and decisions, you just know he's a good guy. I always fall for the dog in a book and Nic's French Mastiff bulldog Goz was no exception ... aww my hero.
I've read true stories stranger than Conspiracy Girl so I didn't find it in the least bit far fetched, the conspiracy almost did my head in, the bad guys were relentless, I had the 'twist' figured out well before the end but far from lessening my enjoyment, it kept me flipping the pages to see if I was right.
Not often I enjoy a YA suspense/thriller to this extent ... Conspiracy Girl is the complete package. ...more
The story opens as England declares itself at war with Germany. The WWII setting is what initially appealed to me, England, France, Poland but Scent oThe story opens as England declares itself at war with Germany. The WWII setting is what initially appealed to me, England, France, Poland but Scent of Triumph is actually more sweeping family drama and one woman's determination to provide and care for her remaining family after facing great tragedy.
Danielle is a fiercely determined, clever, hard-working, resilient woman and I admired that about her but I didn't always feel an emotional connection with her. I'm not sure how to explain it, it might be that I wasn't quite so enamored once Danielle was living in Los Angeles. Despite tragic losses she seemed so cool and removed and focused, I actually felt the distance but when Danielle was immersed in creating a perfume she came alive to me.
I thought parts of the story were a little predictable and I'll also be honest and say I found the ending disingenuous. Despite these points there was much to love.
I loved Danielle's mother-in-law Sophia and her small but significant, and lasting part, her courage really touched me. I liked Jon, and Jon and Danielle together, it was so frustratingly obvious they were meant for each other and I wanted to shake both of them for the misunderstandings.
I loved the artistry, history and tradition of perfumery, I felt Danielle's love for the creative process, the trial and error composition and design of a new perfume. I loved Moran's descriptions of the Bretancourt family perfumery gardens in Grasse, so beautiful I want to visit. I loved how Moran's writing appealed to my senses, I could smell what she was describing, my mouth actually watered at the "sweet, buttery scent of the boulangerie in Grasse where they bought croissants ..." and the perfume aspect gave the book a very sensual feel.
"She waved blotter strips of paper under her nose, then made notes in her journal. Too much bergamot in this one, too tart; no depth in this one; bring forward the orange blossom in another."
"She inhaled again, going farther, detecting the bouquet of jasmine and rose, rich and silky, entwined with a spicy note of carnation, adding verve and vitality, robust brilliance. It needs a splash of complexity here, a sprig of basil there, an accent of clove."
Overall, Scent of Triumph was a little different from what I was expecting but a lovely, entertaining read.
Cover: cover fairy worked on this one ... it's beautiful! ...more