November 23, 2014

COYER Challenge Winter 2014-2015 E-book Challenge

I've decided to join up with hosted by Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun and Michelle @ Because Reading.  It's all about clearing out your e-reader.  Do I need some incentive to do that - you bet! Blushing at the amount I have found unread! And I didn't go back beyond 2013!

The interesting aspect of this challenge is that the books have to be free or almost.  See the challenge post for what you can consider almost free.  So I have some NetGalley books that I can include and many others just gathered up on my Kindle.  


  • Read and review 15 books - more if I can.
  • Visit and comment on 5 reviews on the linky a week.
  • Participate in one read-a-thon at least, maybe two because they sound great.
  • Check out the mini challenges
Oh yes! I know its a winter challenge - and it's summer down under where I live - but .... so what!

Storybook Travels. Colleen Dunn Bates & Susan Latempa

Book Cover
Storybook Travels: From Eloise's New York to Harry Potter's London, Visits to 30 of the Best-Loved Landmarks in Children's Literature.
Colleen Dunn Bates & Susan Latempa
Published: Three Rivers Press
Date: 2002
Format: Paperback
Pages: 266
Genre: Non-Fiction Travel
Source: Local Library

With itineraries for more than thirty locales in North America and Europe, Storybook Travels explores destinations near and far, rural and urban. Whether you want to plan a trip that will mean as much to you as it will to your children (or grandchildren), are looking for ways to enrich already-planned trips, or want to bring to life the fondly remembered books of your own childhood, Storybook Travels is your guide to one enchanting journey after another.
My thoughts banner
I read Storybook Travels as my non-fiction travel book for The Eclectic Reader challenge.  Like the crime book I stood for a long time in front of the travel section at the local library.  Finally this book caught my eye and I knew it was the one.  Not so much because I was going to follow this itinerary, but because as I read books I think - I would love to visit this setting.  As a child when I read books, I spent a long time visualising places and wanting to go to these exotic places.  In actual fact I am not much of a traveller, I don't want to go and stand in ancient ruins etc, but storybook places - now that would hook me.

This book is written for adults who might take their children to various places, yet I found it just interesting.  I have seen a few criticisms on Goodreads from readers saying they could write as much themselves.  All I can say is well why don't they or why didn't they do it!  These authors have travelled with their children to Europe, Britain and around America and share what they saw and how it related to the books which inspired the trip.

The places mentioned that I would love to visit are:
  1. Tuscany - Italy as this is the place where the creator of Pinocchio lived. Would be a great area to visit, but going to the town and visiting Parco de Pinocchio I would enjoy too.
  2. Prince Edward Island, Canada with of course the Anne of Green Gables book in mind.
  3. Graubunden, Switzerland with Heidi giving the impetus to go there.  I adored Heidi when I was growing up, my top favourite story and I would love to visit and walk the trails.
  4. Concord, Massachusetts would take me to where Little Women was written.  Loved that book too.  
  5. Lake District, England to the place where Beatrix Potter wrote and illustrated.  Again a picturesque place and I loved some of those books.  I also really enjoyed the movie about Beatrix Potter.
Thirty places are discussed, what is there, what you can do and so on, where to contact for more information.  I would happily go to the five places above and visit with child's eyes as well as my own adult eyes.  Books would make me want to travel where nothing much else would.  Even as I read today I think hmm would love to visit this place.

Have you visited places because of books?  Or if you had the choice to visit one place what would it be?

4 stars
Travel - Non Fiction

Full House Completed 2014 Link Up

Full House Reading Challenge 2014 graphic

It is time to link up a Full House post if you have achieved that.  The link will close at the end of 31st of December and the winner of the $50 USA Amazon gift voucher or Book Depository spend to $50 will be notified early January 2015.

Choose whatever image you like in the link up, you may like to use your blog button is one suggestion.

Thank you to all who participated in the challenge this year.

November 20, 2014

Henry's Sisters Cathy Lamb

Book Cover
Henry's Sisters
Cathy Lamb
Publisher: Kensington
Date: 2009
Format: Paperback
Pages: 434
Genre: Fiction
Source: Own book
Add to Goodreads
Ever since the Bommarito sisters were little girls, their mother, River, has written them a letter on pink paper when she has something especially important to impart. And this time, the message is urgent and impossible to ignore River requires open-heart surgery, and Isabelle and her sisters are needed at home to run the family bakery and take care of their brother and ailing grandmother.

Isabelle has worked hard to leave Trillium River, Oregon, behind as she travels the globe taking award-winning photographs. It's not that Isabelle hates her family. On the contrary, she and her sisters Cecilia, an outspoken kindergarten teacher, and Janie, a bestselling author, share a deep, loving bond. And all of them adore their brother, Henry, whose disabilities haven't stopped him from helping out at the bakery and bringing good cheer to everyone in town.

But going home again has a way of forcing open the secrets and hurts that the Bommaritos would rather keep tightly closed Isabelle's fleeting and too-frequent relationships, Janie's obsessive compulsive disorder, and Cecilia's self-destructive streak and grief. Working together to look after Henry and save their flagging bakery, Isabelle and her sisters begin to find answers to questions they never knew existed, unexpected ways to salve the wounds of their childhoods, and the courage to grasp surprising new chances at happiness.
My thoughts
I have four Cathy Lamb novels sitting on my bookshelf since last year, when I read If You Could See What I See, my first book by her.  I decided it was time to read another one and chose Henry's Sisters off the shelf. I noted the high rating by readers that I respect and then looked at some of the low ratings and worried a little! However as I began the novel and moved along in it, I could see that this book would be off putting for some and could see why they didn't stay with it.  I have to admit reading in a little ways I was tempted to rest it awhile, but persevered and was very pleased that I did.

The story is told from Isabelle's point of view - first person is not my favourite, but after awhile it didn't really matter.  The story was both heart breaking and heart warming.  It is one of those books you read and as you sit with it at the end you know you have seen the world through different viewpoints and if you open your heart in compassion it is going to guide you into living life more fully.

Isabelle and Cecilia are twins - they often feel what is happening to the other. Their sister Janie is about a year younger.  Henry is there brother and he has a mental disability, but his heart and capacity to love far outweighs that.  For a good while through the novel I did not like River so much, but as more information was given, the heart of a mother was revealed in its capacity to put her children first and her capacity to make mistakes as well. I could not but help but feel compassion for her. Added to the family is River's mother who now has alzheimers and believes she is Amelia Earhart. Her antics often brought comic relief to the book.

As the girls meet back home to take care of their mother as she undergoes an operation, their relationship to her, each other and to Henry are revealed.  The reader also gradually learns of the many terrible events that took place in their childhood, which explains the psychological and emotional challenges of these women.  However what stands out is their love for each other and Henry and Grandma.  There would be few families too that would have be as straight talking as they are. When they are confronted with a crises that brings them all to their knees it is either going to split them apart or they are going to learn that they are more than they thought.

This is a story about mothers and daughters, forgiveness, childhood horrors and above all else love.  It wasn't easy reading but a very worthwhile read.  It would make an excellent book club book, and their are discussion questions at the end of the book. (Don't read them until the end.  I made the mistake of reading them first and came across a major event that of course I then knew as I started the book.  However as it turned out it didn't matter too much).
5 stars

November 18, 2014

Our Kind of Love. Victoria Purman

Book Cover
Our Kind of Love
Victoria Purman
Published: Harlequin MIRA
Date: 1st November 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Publisher via NetGAlley
Add to Goodreads
Anna is… unexpected… unbelievable… unstoppable.

And unavailable.

Will what happened in Middle Point stay there?

Dr Anna Morelli rarely makes mistakes. But this one is big, bordering on huge. Somewhere between sunset and sunrise at the simple beachside wedding of two old friends, she’s cried in the ladies bathroom, danced to too many ABBA songs and survived the best, knock-your-socks-off one night stand in recorded history. Has she gone crazy? She’s supposed to be running from the disasters in her life, not creating more.

Award-winning journalist Joe Blake is back in Middle Point to lick his wounds after being dumped by his wife and sacked from his Sydney job on the same day. But after one incredible night with Anna, he finds he’ll need all his investigative skills to figure out why she won’t give in to their sizzling chemistry….
My thoughts banner
Our Kind of Love is the third in the Boys of Summer trilogy by Victoria Purman.  It was a wonderful and very fitting end to the stories of three couples who find each other with the help of scenic Middle Point, South Australia and the match making ploys of certain women among them.

First we met Ry and Julia, then Dan and Lizzie. Now it is Joe's turn, he is the newspaperman and brother of Lizzie.  He has returned to Middle Point after being made redundant and his marriage also breaking up.  He is drifting and hopefully in the process of re finding himself.  While doing that he meets Anna at Ry and Julia's wedding and they share a very passionate one night stand.  Fast forward a few months and Joe and Anna meet up again and the sexual tension is still sizzling between them.

Anna too is just coming from the experience of a marriage break-up and a husband who has cheated on her.  She has suffered a number of miscarriages and would really love to have a child.  Her large Catholic Italian family feature large in her life - she has always been the 'good girl'. Now there is a challenge for her, can she break that mould a little and become who she really is at heart.  I loved her big Italian family and the place family played in their lives.  It's the exact opposite to what Joe has known, with only his sister Lizzie to count as family.  His father walked out on their little family when Joe was only three, it has had a far reaching effect on him.

Our Kind of Love is the story of how Joe and Anna grow as people and how they slowly find their way into a relationship that just may last with each other.  We also catch up with the other two couples and I loved how well integrated this was into the book.  At times we were given short points of view from them and of course the update on their lives was just .... perfect.

A beautiful setting, well written, characters I loved and cared about - and what I like always in a romance - that little epilogue that made my heart sing as I finished the book.  Delightful.  I really look forward to finding out what Victoria Purman is writing next.  
4 stars

November 17, 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?

Yesterday I went to visit my niece Sonia's art exhibition in our local Art's Trail.  I love her art and love her delightful just turned one year old son even more.
Kapiti Art's Trail - Sonia Savage

Earlier in the week I was delighted to receive an email from Bobbi Dumas over at Read a Romance Month who informed me I had won an international giveaway for a  trilogy by Molly O'Keefe. I haven't read this author, but have her on my hit list, so of course was delighted, and I look forward to their arrival.  I thank both Bobbi and Molly.  

I would also like to point you towards Sherryl Caulfield's giveaway of Come What May.  She is another one of those amazing Australian authors I have discovered this year. She is giving away some copies of her book and it is open internationally.  I highly recommend her book and her earlier book, Seldom Come By that I have just reviewed this last week.

What I read in the last week:
Enjoyed this one and want to get on with reading this series.

Sweet Romance.  O'Neill brothers.

At Present I am reading:
I abandoned an anthology I started to read,  found the first story 'boring' to say the least. So I discontinued and moved onto  The Good Wife by Jane Porter.  Book 3 in the Brennan sisters series. Loving it!  It picked up right after the end of the second book - so one happy reader.

Up next:
I think it might be The Proposal by Mary Balogh.

November 11, 2014

Seldom Come By. Sherryl Caulfield

Book Cover Seldom Come By
Seldom Come By
Sherryl Caulfield
Publisher: Cedar Pocket Publishing
Date: December 2013
Format: Kindle ebook
Pages: 511
Genre: Historical fiction
Source: Own ebook.

Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, Rebecca Crowe’s fascination with icebergs leads her to save a shipwrecked survivor, Samuel Dalton. Love sparks in the crystal cave of an iceberg but is thwarted by an unreasonable father and the Great War that drags Samuel and his brother, Matthew, to the Western Front as medical officers.

Knowing Rebecca is home safe in Newfoundland brings Samuel great comfort. But as the war moves towards its final harrowing days they both discover that tragedy and terror can strike anywhere. Only when Samuel and Rebecca can fully come to terms with such devastating loss and their impossible choices can their love soar.
My thoughts banner
Seldom Come By is written by Sherryl Caulfield, an Australian author.  It is the first book in her Iceberg trilogy.  I first heard of this book when I was reading a post by The Electic Reader reviewing the second one in the trilogy, Come What May.  Sheree was very convincing and I was hooked!

Seldom Come by was on special over at Amazon and I went straight across and bought it.  I was even more blessed when I won a copy for the second one - Come What May at The Eclectic Reader blog.  So of course with that excitement I needed to set myself down to read the first.  All I can say is - oh wow! Fabulous read. Loved it.

This book as it begins is set in Newfoundland, on an island where at times icebergs pass by.  It is a bleak place but fishermen eek out a living there.  Later on the book is set in Toronto and in Europe during the war of 1914 - 1918.  Living on Second Chance Island is Rebecca - the heroine of this story, and her sister Rachel and her parents Silas and Esther.  Rebecca is a strong young woman, she is like the son her parents never had.  One day Samuel - the hero arrives at the island.  At the time Rebecca is just about to be 15 years and Sam is about 19.

The characters are very real, I was hooked into their lives and all of them mattered to me.  Silas  was the one I found it hard to find compassion for - he is quite superstitious and uses religion and scripture in a way I am sure it was never intended.   The settings are very real, obviously Sherryl Caulfield has done her research and every part of the book was evocative of that time and place.  If I didn't ever want to go to Newfoundland before, I do now.

When I had finished this book I felt emotionally wrung out.  There are highs and lows that just demand of the reader that you experience some of what the characters are living through.  At times it was hard to read, at times I wondered whether characters would reach some kind of closure with integrity.  

I am not mentioning any details about the plot, it is best that you read it with no spoilers.  Just be prepared for an epic journey within and outside the characters' lives. 

Well written, beautiful, haunting.  I need just awhile to let this book settle before I reach for the next, Come What May, but I do know I am in for another treat.

If there is one book to take a risk on this year - make it this one.  I did, and I have been richly rewarded.

5 stars

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