July 28, 2017

Over the Teacups - Short Reviews

Short Reviews Over a Cuppa

I read a number of books I don't fully review, so I have decided to start acknowledging them here in short reviews - which lets face it - are the best!

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Why?I chose this one for the Better World Reading Challenge - category: by a person of color.
 I have been meaning to try a Beverly Jenkins book and this gave me the incentive.

Plot
It introduces Bernadine a 50 something woman who buys up a town that is in trouble and helps it out. She has quite a few millions to spare after a successful divorce!  House renovations are fun so a whole town in Texas has to better - right!

As well because Bernadine has a degree in social work she brings into the community some children to foster, and various people do. They are a very interesting bunch.

What Appealed to Me?
The variety of characters - all who add to this story and Bernadine herself who while wealthy is so down to earth and open to helping others. It's also a light book, with a funny turn of phrase every so often that had me chuckling. It has some very poignant moments too. And some serious issues that are touched with a light hand. Probably not overly realistic but I'm reading for enjoyment here.
 (4 stars)
And so... this is the first in a series set in this town. I own a copy of the paperback version of Bring on the Blessings. I've ordered the next book!

Why? Do you need to ask? It has bookshop in the title what other reason do I need! I have listened to at least one other by this author and liked it as well.

Plot.  Two summer friends end up back at the beach house they knew as children. Lainey lost her mother there when she was 13 yrs and has never got over it - lost as in went missing.  Bonnie is a doctor who had something go wrong in the emergency room and she is awaiting the outcome. And she has just left her husband. As well there is her daughter Piper who has a few issues.  Mimi runs the bookshop and she knows what her buyers need to read, not what they might want.

What Appealed to me? I loved this story of three women, lost somewhat, at turning points in their lives. It was thought provoking as well. It was about loss and love, making mistakes, finding out who you really are. I listened to the audio version of this book and the three narrators were excellent. I think this will be one of my favourite books of 2017.
5 stars.
And so... I will certainly read more  Patti Callahan Henry books at some point.


Why? I noticed on the bookshelves in the shop and as I was looking for a book set in Asia for the BetterWorld reading challenge, I decided to buy and read it.

Plot. Dragon Springs Road  is about a young Eurasian girl - Jialing. It is set in Shanghai in the first quarter of the twentieth century, when women in China of all kinds had a difficult time. However Eurasians were especially despised. Jialing is left one day by her mother and when discovered becomes a bond servant. She befriends one of the girls in the house and even receives some education through missionaries. However the family's situation changes and Jialing is on her own as a young women having to find her way. One attribute Jialing has is resilience and the help of Fox - a Chinese Spirit who watches over her.

What Appealed to Me? The setting and learning about the way of living in China at that time. The fantasy aspect of the story where Fox was involved. There were some really touching moments  in the book and I liked the bravery on Jialing's part.   Plus  things worked out and the way the book ended was very satisfactory for me. Well worth reading.
5 stars
And so... It was good for me to diversify my reading a little.

July 27, 2017

The Dress in the Window. Sofia Grant

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Published: William Morrow
Date: July 25th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Rating:
4 stars                                Add to Goodreads
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.

Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancĂ© she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town.  But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.


My thoughts banner
The Dress in the Window by Sofia Grant is the story of three women living together at the end of WW11. That time from 1945 to 1952 when America is recovering from the hardships and losses of the war.  Thelma, Peggy and Jeanne are no exception.  Both the girls who are sisters have lost men to the war as has Thelma,  her son Thomas - Peggy's husband. With the three women is also Tommie, Peggy's daughter.

They scrape the pennies to live together and make do. The story is told in turns by the three women and so the reader gains interesting insights into each of them, things that are not known often by the other two. I did not like some of the things each of them did but I felt sympathetic towards them all and could understand their longings and desires to matter and have purpose.

Let's just say secrets abound in this book and each revelation certainly changes things up. Some I just did not see coming.  Men are mostly conspicuous by their absence and when present mostly are not that well mentioned for their faithfulness. 

If you are interested in how women dressed in this era and the fabrics that were around and how fashion was changing at this time then the story will hold extra interest for you. Jeanne is a seamstress and delights in sewing up costumes, Peggy while not as clever as her sister and a bit of a rebel has artistic skills that see her developing her own path. There is much sisterly affection and some petty differences that cause problems.  Choices made are not always appreciated by the other.  Thelma on the surface is quite different to Thelma in the depths. An interesting character who makes mistakes but really is a strong woman and helps out Peggy and Joanne where it counts.

I enjoyed The Dress in the Window because it was set in the time just before I was born so I could relate to it easily. The intricate interrelationships had me reading on wondering where it would all end. I was pretty satisfied with the ending although I did wonder about the changes for Peggy, would she really have changed that much?
debut novel cover love well written historical fiction


July 25, 2017

Until You Loved Me. Brenda Novak

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Published: MIRA
Date: 25th July 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source:Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                      Add to Goodreads
After catching her fiancĂ© cheating—with another man–usually straight-laced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night-stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy’s full name, something that shouldn’t have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different—so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she’s carrying his baby, he’s stunned. And more than a little betrayed.


My thoughts banner
Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak is #3 in the Silver Springs series. However it is perfect also as a stand alone as I hadn't read the previous two, yet didn't need to, to fully get involved in this story.

And get involved I did. I read through it speedily, picking it up every spare moment as I became engrossed in the story of Ellie and Hudson King. 

Ellie is a delight, she is a very bright clever young woman, somewhat serious, involved in important work as a scientist. However she is just off the end of a broken engagement, I mean you would if you came home and found your significant other in bed with another man.  While her heart is somewhat broken, her head is in the right place and when after a one night stand she finds she is pregnant, she isn't easily pushed around.

Hudson King is a big football player, has made millions and every football fan in the country would know and recognise him.  (Not Ellie, she has no interest whatsoever in game and wouldn't know a player if she fell over him!) Oh that's right she did fall over him!

Hudson was found under a bush as a child and he has no family, even though he has some great friends and has over the last ten years or so endeared himself to a group of difficult boys whom he delights in mentoring. Hudson has huge trust issues - do people really see him or do they see big, famous and rich?  He'd like to know his parentage and has hired a PI to see what he can find. And believe me that's when the "fun" starts.  Those causing the "fun" though don't reckon on a very smart Ellie.

I enjoy this kind of romance trope and it worked beautifully in Until You Loved Me.  Loved the two main characters, the mystery and suspense and the final outcome. 

romantic page turner well written full of intrigue

July 24, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

24th July
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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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Welcome in everyone. Hope you had a good reading week and those high summer temps in the US are being managed. We had wet but not too cold winter weather here.

I got a bit of everything done this week plus out for lunch and also a 2yr old birthday party!! And I visited joiners/carpenters place to discuss building a bookcase/entertainment centre. It will be ages before its done because house building is in such a boom. But at least I have initiated, the next step is to hear back with a quote. Small progress!  
                                                         

What I read last week:

Review book, with review to be posted. 
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 Own book from recent buys - perfect book to follow Sawbones, which had more than a little violence in it. Needed respite and Bring on the Blessings fit the need.
Review book. 
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What I am reading at present:

Still listening to The Bookshop at Water's End.
Reading a review book...romantic suspense....
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Up next:

Books from my own shelf including Fatal Threat which publishes this week.
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Last Weeks Posts
Some Kind of Hero   Suzanne Brockmann
Indigo Lake   Jodi Thomas
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July 20, 2017

Some Kind of Hero. Suzanne Brockmann

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Published: Ballantine
Date: July 11th 2017
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 448
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4 stars                Add to Goodreads
Navy men don’t come tougher than Lieutenant Peter Greene. Every day he whips hotshot SEAL wannabes into elite fighters. So why can’t he handle one fifteen-year-old girl? His ex’s death left him a single dad overnight, and very unprepared. Though he can’t relate to an angsty teen, he can at least keep Maddie safe—until the day she disappears. Though Pete’s lacking in fatherly intuition, his instinct for detecting danger is razor sharp. Maddie’s in trouble. Now he needs the Troubleshooters team at his back, along with an unconventional ally.

Romance writer Shayla Whitman never expected to be drawn into a real-world thriller—or to meet a hero who makes her pulse pound. Action on the page is one thing. Actually living it is another story. Shay’s not as bold as her heroines, but she’s a mother. She sees the panic in her new neighbor’s usually fearless blue eyes—and knows there’s no greater terror for a parent than having a child at risk. It’s an ordeal Shay won’t let Pete face alone. She’s no highly trained operative, but she’s smart, resourceful, and knows what makes teenagers tick.


My thoughts banner
Some Kind of Hero is #17 in The Troubleshooter series. This is a an action/romantic suspense novel that really only loosely relates to the series. It has Izzy Zanella and Peter Green (Grunge) and a few of the others, but it just involves them a little.

This is essentially the story of Maddie, daughter of Peter, she has inadvertently got herself mixed up with, someone who leaves her holding a can of worms and a price on her head. Escaping with a rather dubious guy called Dingo she runs from the guy who is threatening her and wanting $10 000 that she doesn't have, or... her life. She has only recently come to live with her rather unknown Dad and is just fifteen. Dingo is twenty and so far hasn't really been an outstanding human being. However it could be said he is the hero when it all washes out.

In desperately trying to trace his runaway daughter, Peter makes the quick acquaintance with his next door neighbor - Shayla. There is an immediate attraction between them which gets hot and heavy as the search progresses.  Shayla is a romantic suspense writer, with a hero of her own from her books who has a disconcerting way of talking in her head, giving her advice, mostly very useful. And a device at times I found a little annoying.

It takes awhile for them to track down Maddie - well most of the book! So at times things moved a little more slowly than I am used to in a Brockmann Troubleshooter's book.  However when it did happen it was worth the wait.  I loved the surprise of one moment when the "calvary" arrived. Made me jump and chuckle.

I enjoyed the book but was looking for a little more in terms of Navy SEALS. Also it just didn't have the tightness and tension I have come to expect from Suzanne Brockmann's writing. I see it is also noted as #2 in The Reluctant Heroes series and it probably fits in there more. However no doubt most reader fans of The Troubleshooters series will, like me want to read this.


suspense icon




July 18, 2017

Indigo Lake Jodi Thomas

From the Pen of Jodi Thomas.
The two main characters in INDIGO LAKE came from two different worlds.  Blade had no family who cares about him and Dakota was sometimes smothered in her responsibilities.  Both were looking for someone, the right person, to fill the longing, but neither would admit it.

Dakota Davis had heard her grandmother's dark stories about the Hamilton house all her life.  When she turned off the county road heading toward home, she thought she was seeing a ghost standing knee-deep in Indigo Lake.

Blade Hamilton had inherited a house he cared nothing about.  After driving all day to look at it, he'd decided to sell it all, land, house and heritage.  He hadn't known about his father and he didn't need an old crippled house with wild roses growing almost to the roof.

As they get to know one another they begin to care and the love they share seems to cut their problems in half.

I love writing stories about people who become so real to me that I wake up nights worrying about them.  That's how it was with Blade and Dakota.  And Dakota's sister was too good a character to let her story end so she will be the star of her own Christmas short story in October.

Good news for Ransom Canyon fans: WINTER’S CAMP is included in the back of INDIGO LAKE!

Hope you enjoy both,

Jodi Thomas 


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Published: Harlequin
Date: 18th July 2017
Format:e-ARC
Pages: 432
Genre: Western Romance
Source: Publisher via NG
Rating:
4.5 stars            Add to Goodreads
Blade Hamilton is the last of his line. He's never even heard of Crossroads, Texas, until he inherits land there. Riding in on his vintage Harley-Davidson, Blade finds a weathered ranch house, an empty prairie and a dark river that cuts a decisive path between the Hamiltons' land and that of their estranged neighborsWhen Dakota helps a stranger on the roadside, she isn't prepared for the charisma of the man on the motorbike—or for the last name he bears: Hamilton, of her family's sworn enemies.

Lauren Brigman feels adrift. Unhappy in work and unlucky in love, she knows she ought to be striving for more, but she's never truly at peace unless she's at home in Crossroads. If the wider world can't satisfy her, is home truly where her heart is?


My thoughts banner
Indigo Lake by Jodi Thomas is #6 in the Ransom Canyon series, and what can I say but that I loved this visit to Crossroads Texas. Its another one of those places I'd love to live or ... at least visit.

We have ourselves a bit of feud between the  Hamilton and Davis family, it seems there has been some bad blood in the past and if Grandmother is to be believed its best that they don't approach each other. However Blade really likes the pint sized Dakota and if anything he is about to put that feud to bed.

We also catch up with Lauren and Lucas and Tim and that other one Ryan, all linked together by a happening when they were teens. We've watched the attraction between Lucas and Lauren wax and wane, and wondered whether they will ever find their way together. Plus Tim and Lauren are best friends and might even enjoy sleeping with each other. I ask you! Where is all this going!

Something very fishy is going on at Ryan's ranch, there a few bodies and something that just does not seem right. Dan Brigman is sheriff and he wants to find out just what it is.  So before we know it Blade is sworn in as a deputy with little pay and an eighteen hour day or more. 

This is a place where you can expect shootings and danger. We're talking a good cowboy story. Where people are locked up in the local jail for their own safety and the town looks after them. 

I loved the humor and the turn of phrase that makes this series so fun to read. All that I expected was there. I was just sorry I couldn't get to visit with all the beloved people of the town, but I hope to make the acquaintance of some of them next time. There sure needs to be a #7 and more!

And delighted to see that Jodi says she is going to have a story for Dakota's sister, who happens to be blind. Yay. Going to be an October happy read.
western romanticcrime auto read

July 17, 2017

It's Monday. What Are You Reading?

17th July
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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!
a divide

I had another great week of reading. Winter hit us in the last week, it usually does at this time, so cold and wet. Means my walks are fewer because I am not willing to get soaking wet.

While I try not to buy new books I do! Cough! However while chatting on an author's FB reading page we got to talking about books we read as children and loved. Someone mentioned the Cherry Ames books (I liked what I read of them) and that in turn reminded me of the Sue Barton books, so in a moment of weakness I purchased from Amazon a set of the seven books in the series. At a stiff cost when you take in postage to NZ etc. 

What would be one of your childhood nostalgic books or series?                                      

What I read last week:

I listened to this from the library while sewing. I gobbled it up, really loved it on audio. I won't be reviewing it but Rita's short review of The Stars are Fire at Paging Through Books was the one that fully decided me on reading it. And as I listened to the audiobook version I highly recommend the narration of Suzanne Elise Freeman.

I also listened to Until it Fades
I really enjoyed this romantic tale that had a Cinderella tinge to it. Enjoyable and entertaining and really well narrated. Sheer escapism!

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From the TBR shelf I read and liked We Never Asked for Wings. I also read a review book - Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak - review will be posted. Liked it as well.
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What I am reading at present:

Now reading a review book, the one granted to me a year after requesting! It is historical fiction and I think I will enjoy it. 30% in.
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And just starting to listen to...
The title alone would draw me in! But I've read some of your reviews too  ;)

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Up next:

One of my recently buys, most likely...
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Last Weeks Posts
The Almost Sisters   Joshilyn Jackson
Secrets of the Tulip Sisters   Susan Mallery
The Beach at Painter's Cover   Shelley Noble

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