October 21, 2014

The Silent Sister. Diane Chamberlain

Book cover
The Silent Sister
Diane Chamberlain
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Date: 7th October 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager.  Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary.  Lisa is alive.  Alive and living under a new identity.  But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?  As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family.  Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality.
My thoughts banner

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain was a compulsive, stay glued to the book read.  Small clues were drip fed through to the reader and to Riley as she started to glean that her family were not quite as they appeared to be.  What secret would be uncovered next?

Riley is the youngest in her family, with about 15 years between herself and her older sister Lisa, who was thought to have committed suicide when Riley was only 2 years old.  She has no real memory of her.  Riley begins to put her father's estate in order after his death, and then one discovery after the other happens.  The old couple in the RV park - why was her father paying Tom Kyle $500 a month?   Tom's wife Verniece tells Riley something she just can't believe.  Real estate agent Jeannie Lyons, turns out to be a lot more than just the real estate person helping her deal with winding up the estate.

Riley is close to Danny her brother, older by about 5 years than her.  He lives in an old trailer in the RV park.  He is a war veteran and is grouchy to say the very least.  He can't cope with helping Riley to close the estate.  After his sister went missing he grew up in a home that held tension and he is angry with his father.  However he has a soft, tender spot for Riley - this is the relationship I liked most in the book.  He helps her out at crucial times, and while he is a lose cannon in many ways, my heart ached for him.

The book alternates between Riley and her sister Lisa, and if you've read the summary, her suicide was faked.  But who was involved? Who knew what?  How did Lisa fare after this?  Gradually we are let in on her story and we are drip fed clues that are significant.  Her story is every bit as compelling as Riley's one. 

Lies, secrets, murder, abuse have taken a toll on every member of this family.  Riley is desperate to find family, she feels so alone, Lisa's heart aches for different reasons.  Others are slammed by the shock of revealed secrets they knew nothing about. 

The Silent Sister was a well crafted story, clues revealed slowly, viewpoints had to be weighed up - who was telling the truth?  The book was very well paced and written in a way that meant I couldn't leave it down for long.  
4 stars

October 20, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sheila at Book Journey runs It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Saturday was one of my favourite days of the year - our local book fair, when the local Lions group fund raise for various charities.  I am afraid I went and bought about as much as I donated in books for it, so I am now bulging on my TBR shelf.

Books by past favourite authors

Books chosen because I have been introduced to authors by bloggers.

New authors to me, ones I don't really know about.
I picked up the Diane Setterfield one thinking it was 
a Diane Chamberlain.  Before I noticed a woman
said to me "We read that one in our book club 
it was very good".  So I kept it for a read.

That's just some of them.  I snagged 8 J. D. Robb books, left my list at home, so was very relieved when I arrived home and found I had no double ups.  I spent just over $100, more than I intended, but its for a good cause.  Books in New Zealand are way more expensive than in the USA for example. I'd pay anything from $20 to $35 for each of these books in the shop for paperback.  I bought over 40 books for the $117. 

This week I read:  
Crime - non fiction
Excellent read.
A New Zealand crime - murder of a young girl
by her ex boyfriend.

Utterly fantastic.

At present I am reading:

Feels Like Family by Sherryl Woods   (part of her Magnolia series)

Still listening to Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

Reading also a non fiction travel book - for The Eclectic Reading Challenge.

Storybook Travels: From Eloise's New York to Harry Potter's London, Visits to 30 of the Best Loved Landmarks in Children's Literature.

Up next:
I think it will be Unsuitable by Ainslie Paton.  She is self publishing this particular book, but as I really like her writing, I am quite happy to read this.  She is another awesome Australian author.

Anyone would think I am Australian at the rate I am reading Australian authors this year, but I am not!  

October 19, 2014

Far From Perfect. Barbara Longley

Far From Perfect
Barbara Longley
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Date: 2012
Format: Kindle
Pages: 348
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Own book
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Noah Langford narrowly survived the roadside bombing in Iraq that cost him his leg and forever his peace of mind. When his stepbrother Matt dies in a car accident, the loss feels like the final blow to Noah’s shattered soul. But then he learns about the girlfriend and baby living in Perfect, Indiana who Matt had never mentioned, and suddenly Noah has a new mission…

Ceejay Lovejoy was nineteen and pregnant when her boyfriend walked out. Since that day, Ceejay has devoted herself to giving her daughter a better life, avoiding any man who could threaten that security—until the day Noah Langford shows up on her doorstep in Perfect. His gentle spirit has an unexpected effect on Ceejay’s guarded heart, tempting her to take one last chance on love. But when a painful secret comes to light, it threatens to break the fragile bond growing between them…and to destroy a love powerful enough to heal them both.
My thoughts banner
Far From Perfect by Barbara Longley was an enjoyable read.  It is the first one in her Perfect, Indiana series.  I started with #3 when I read that one from NetGalley.  I liked that one sufficiently to go back and read the first two.

Noah is a returned soldier, wounded both in body, mind and soul.  He does not want to return to his father's major plumbing business.  Instead he elects to set out on a journey to find Ceejay and the baby his stepbrother fathered.  He finds Perfect a quiet wonderful place for healing and dealing for the PTSD he suffers from.  He soon falls in love with his little niece and she thinks he is rather special too.  They spend time together, and you just know Noah would make a great father.  He strikes up a friendship with Ceejay's cousin, Ted and as the story progresses they form an alliance that is going to take them into a new future. 

Ceejay has struggled pretty much all her life, but she is tough and she has reached important goals.  She has been brought up by her Aunt Jenny after her mother just dropped her there, then Matt her boyfriend on learning she was pregnant walked out.  With the help of her Aunt she has made a life for herself but she is not quite ready to accept on trust anyone, let alone Noah and later his family when they arrive.

I enjoyed the developing relationship between Ceejay and Noah, other family relationships and the way there were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me engaged.  The values of family, love, trust and satisfying work shone through.  A very pleasant read.
4 stars
Perfect, Indiana
Far From Perfect
The Difference a Day Makes

October 17, 2014

What a Lady Needs For Christmas. Grace Burrowes

Book Cover
What a Lady Needs For Christmas
Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date: 7th October 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 416
Genre: Historical romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley

To escape a scandal, Lady Joan Flynn flees her family's estate in the Scottish Highlands. She needs a husband by Christmas, or the holidays will ring in nothing but ruin.

Practical, ambitious mill owner Dante Hartwell offers to marry Joan, because a wellborn wife is his best chance of gaining access to aristocratic investors.

As Christmas—and trouble—draw nearer, Dante and Joan's marriage of convenience blossoms into unexpected intimacy, for true love often hides beneath the most unassuming holiday wrapping...
My thoughts banner
What a Lady Needs for Christmas by Grace Burrowes is #4 in her MacGregors series.  However it can be easily read as a stand alone - although it may be a little difficult to get your mind around the minor characters.  The focus of this book is Lady Joan, a member of the aristocracy, and Dante Hartwell, more of the working classes.  

Lady Joan and Dante meet on a train and find eventually that they are meeting at the same place - Balfour.  Dante has two children, Charlie and Phillip and his sister Margaret.  As the Christmas season celebrations are prepared for, Dante and Joan have the opportunity to become more acquainted with each other and soon know many details about each other.  Joan has a love of drawing and designing women's clothes and it is this that has run her into a scandal that she is fleeing from.  Edward has managed to rob her of her designs while plying her with drinking and leaving her thinking that he has robbed her of her virginity as well.

Dante and Joan decide on marriage as the way to protect her from the scandal and plans are made for a quick marriage.  Then comes a twist when Edward turns nasty and begins to blackmail Joan.

There a number of twists and turns in the plot which made for engaging reading, there was humour as Joan's family gave Dante a grilling, and then there were rabbits that made for some lightheartedness. There is also a sub plot involving Hector and Margaret - Hector being Dante's chief assistant.

This was a pleasant early Christmas story, it is a Victorian historical romance, so the changes of that time are appearing in the classes.  The last part of the book was about family, and working together and being triumphant.  

BookBlogWalkers 17th October.

This challenge is organised by Felicia over at the Geeky Blogger's Book Blog.

Well my worst week of the year!  Only 3 days of walking, although I did get up to 4000 - 5000 steps walking around school.  The school term just got of to a busy and somewhat energy draining start and I decided to cut back hopefully just for this week!

Saturday: 40 min walk
Sunday: 40 min  walk
Monday: Nada
Tuesday: Zilch
Wednesday: 30 min walk
Thursday: Zero
Friday: Nadir

Okay so back on the horse tomorrow!

October 15, 2014

Kingston's Project. Carrie Beckort

Kingston's Project
Carrie Beckort
Publisher: Carrie Beckort
Date: February 2014
Format: e-Book
Pages: 376
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: From the author

How do you find the strength to embrace a future that’s different than the one you planned?

For Sarah Mitchell, the answer is simple—you don’t. For two years, Sarah has shut herself off from most of the world around her. She needs to move on, but doesn’t know how to begin.

Unexpectedly, Sarah is presented with an opportunity that could change everything. Elijah Kingston, her firm’s largest client, wants her to lead a highly confidential assignment. When Sarah learns the shocking nature of Kingston’s project, she is torn between Elijah’s promise of healing and her fear of falling deeper into despair.

Kingston’s Project is a poignant story about the effects of grief and the loss of hope. Can Sarah find happiness again, or is the hold from her fear and guilt too strong to break free?
My thoughts banner
Kingston's Project is a first book by new author Carrie Beckort.  I agreed to read the book, breaking my own rule of generally not reading self published books. However one or two in the year doesn't hurt me.  I enjoyed the story and while I found it a little long in places - it was worth the read.

Sarah, the main character, is still dealing with the grief of losing her husband and young son in an accident, it has rocked her world and she has never really climbed out of the deep black hole that she is in.  Her health is suffering - physically and emotionally.  She can't deal with young children and hasn't seen her brother's children in two years.  She is given an opportunity for a fresh start with a new project that she has been specially picked out for.

Elijah Kingston, a business mogul, has requested her help with a special project.  He has seen her before and she has reminded him of his wife Lena who has died a long time ago.  Sarah must sign a clause that prevents her from sharing what the special project is.  Involved in the project is Elijah's lawyer Miles and his wife Tina.  Sarah agrees to the project and so begins a journey for her and Elijah.  Elijah has two children, Leanne and Marcus.  As the project develops it becomes increasingly difficult to withhold the information that Sarah holds, but that they do not have.

I think my favourite scene would be at the dinner table held in honour of Lena.  There is tension as people  make judgements, and draw their own conclusions. Not much of it is in Sarah's favour.  They think she has designs on Elijah.  Also it is the night that Sarah meets Marcus and finds out that she experiences a reluctant attraction to him.  Eventually Sarah speaks up for herself and calls them out for their snide remarks.  The relationship between Sarah and Marcus develops through the book, we are not left with any definite outcome, I believe that is probably played out in the follow up book Kingston's Promise.

The book itself deals with a number of issues - grief and loss first of all.  Everyone responds differently to it, and in this book a number of the characters are brought face to face with it.  What about your own imminent death?  How would you plan for it and what would you do?  How about if there was a family gene that does not skip generations and you could have it?  Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease - CJD is the disease explored in this book - its not one anyone would want.  This book highlights the grief that such a disease brings to a family.  It also asks us to consider how we live this life we have - what can we do to make a difference? 
3.5 stars

October 13, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sheila at Book Journey runs It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Well I have had another wonderful week away from work, but now this week I am back to work for the last term haul.  Less reading, less blogging and more of report writing coming up!

In the last week I read:
Book cover
An oldie from Robyn Carr
Enjoyed it.

Very good and my first of her
more recent books.

Book Cover
2nd in series.  Getting ready to read the third.
I won't be reviewing this one, but did enjoy it. 
Especially being reminded of the joy of bodyboarding in the surf.
4 stars.

New author publishing on 28th October.
Really enjoyed this delightful romance.
Snagged from NetGalley.

Finished listening to
Audio version.
Won't be reviewing either but pleasant listening.
I like Rosalyn Landor narrating these regency romances.

What I am reading this week:
I am listening to Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson.

I am reading Sophie's Legacy by her mother Lesley Elliot.  This is a crime non-fiction book for The Eclectic Reader challenge organised by Shellyrae over at  Book'd Out.  I stood long at the library in the crime non fiction part, trying to pick out a book and came across this one. (Not my usual reading fare!)  In 2008 a young woman was horribly murdered in New Zealand by a monster of a man.  The trial played out on our TV news night after night.  He repulsed me.  Her mother writes of that day ( she was in the house) and the trial and the time afterwards. I am only a little way in, but already it has touched me. The murder was even more brutal than I want to know.

I am also about to start Seldom Come By, by Sherryl Caulfield.  I was enticed into this trilogy by Sheree over at The Eclectic Reader and was fortunate to win the follow up to this one Come What May, on Sheree's blog.  That book has already arrived - sent by the author, and it turns out she began writing the book I am just starting when she was living in the Marlborough Sounds in NZ.  An idyllic place let me tell you.  Sherryl Caulfield is Australian and now lives in Brisbane.  You can read Sheree's review of Seldom Come By over on Goodreads.

Up next:
Nothing!  I think I may still be reading the above books next week, as I turn my eyes back to school. Whatever I do read I think it will be something very light as Sophie's Legacy and Seldom Come By may just require me to do that!

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