July 28, 2015

My Very Best Friend Cathy Lamb

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My Very Best Friend
Cathy Lamb
Published: Kensington
Date: July 28th 2015
Format:e-ARC
Pages: 480
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Charlotte Mackintosh is an internationally known bestselling romance writer who has no romance, and remains a mystery to her fans. In fact, she has little in her life besides her work, her pampered cats, and her secluded home off the coast of Washington. And then there is her very best friend, Bridget, who lives in Scotland, where Charlotte lived until she was fifteen. Bridget, whom Charlotte hasn’t seen in twenty years, but continues to write to—though the replies have stopped. Hurt by the silence, an opportunity arises to find answers—and maybe much more.

Charlotte must finally return to Scotland to sell her late father’s cottage. It was his tragic death when Charlotte was fifteen that began her growing isolation, and the task is fraught with memories. But her plans are slowed when she’s confronted with the beautiful but neglected house, the irresistible garden—and Toran, Bridget’s brother. Capable and kind, Toran has the answers Charlotte seeks. And as she is drawn deeper into the community she thought she’d left behind, Charlotte learns not only more about her dear friend, but about herself—and discovers a new and unexpected path.

My thoughts banner
Set in Scotland My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb has all the trade marks of a wonderful Lamb novel.  It has at its heart people, the very best and... the very worst.  It has great friendships from childhood to adulthood, it is full of outrageous humour, fun and wit. Yet there is  also deep sadness. It examines relevant issues and how people deal with them... or not.

Charlotte is a scientist and biologist and romance writer of time travel living of cost of Washington, but returns to her home Scotland to sell the family home and find out what has happened to her friend Bridget who is missing. When her father died at the age of fifteen years, Charlotte and her mother left the village of St Ambrose and this is Charlotte's first time back. Charlotte is a recluse, wears frumpy, comfortable clothing. Nobody knows she is the author of a series about a warrior woman who is very sexy and adventure seeking.  However now Charlotte has writer's block. Also her best friend is missing and she Charlotte wonders where she is.

Toran is Bridget's brother, farmer and long time best friend of Charlotte too.  He knows a little more about Bridget and her story but not where she is now.  As Charlotte and Toran work together to restore the sorry mess that is Charlotte's family home, the love they have for each other comes creeping back. It doesn't hurt that Toran is one sexy hunk of a Scotsman, who is compassionate and loving.

Led by Olive there is a group of women who are a garden club of sorts and a women's support group for each other. Their antics are hilarious and as the story develops these women even more. Some of them are a little odd, but most of them have their heart in the right place.  There is a strong feminist theme right throughout the book- feminism at its very best. Some of them though have 'issues' that are unpalatable.  

Bonds of friendship, truth and lies, love and forgiveness, shocking happenings, cover ups, injustice  and justice meted out, all combine to give a reader a heart warming and heartbreaking read.  Mystery and surprises combine. Do I think Charlotte and Bridget were the best of friends - yes.  I recommend you read this book and check that out for yourself. Maybe you will agree maybe you won't. 

4.5 stars

July 26, 2015

Sunday Post. #Fitreaders

 badge for Sunday PostIt's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sheila at Book Journey runs It's Monday! What Are You Reading? While this  meme is not fully active at present I will be linking up as well to the Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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Squeaked in and achieved my 48 300 steps for the week. On the whole the weather was good and pleasant to be out in.

Well my gran niece turned up this week, just when they weren't expecting it.  A quick birth just reaching the hospital in time.  Older brother, all of 19mths took a look at her and said, "Oh No!" Mind you that was at 4am in the morning!

Last week I read Elizabeth's post over at Thoughts From an Evil Overlord on Bookish Decor.  That set me off spending a few hours chasing down bookish things to drool over.  I see Fine Arts America now does throw pillowsduvet covers  and tote bags from some of its art. Hmm, I have a few of their bookish prints on my wall, but now I am thinking of something more. You see how easily I am led!

This Sunday afternoon I just spent awhile listening in to the live RWA 2015 award ceremony on Saturday evening in New York.  Fun to watch and see and listen in to a few known authors to me, and a lot not!  Nice to see J. D. Robb  win the Romantic Suspense. Woo hoo for Jill Shalvis One in a Million (still need to read it!)  And then.... the live feed died! And relived a little way along. My word Lisa Kleypas is a great hostess.

What I read last week:

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The Liar - audiobook. Enjoyable as Nora Roberts is always.
The Bourbon Kings - Juicy soap drama and I'm in waiting for the next one!
Three Weeks With Lady X - great historical romance, well plotted and great characters.
Heavenly Hirani's School of Laughing Yoga - I know a mouthful! Enjoyable and quirky.

What I am reading at present:

Listening to:  
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Reading:
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Up next:

I think it will be The Spring Bride by Anne Gracie, really enjoy her fun historical romance series. So will help me to read out July. Seems to have been a week of romance reading. And then it will be August!

Posts from the last week:


July 24, 2015

The Color of Light. Emilie Richards

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The Color of Light
Emilie Richards
Published: Mira
Date: July 28th 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 496
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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For more than a decade minister Analiese Wagner has felt privileged to lead her parishioners along a well-lit path. Her commitment has never been seriously tested until the frigid night she encounters a homeless family huddling in the churchyard. Offering them shelter in a vacant parish house apartment and taking teenage Shiloh Fowler—a girl desperate to rescue her parents—under her wing, she tests the loyalty and faith of her congregation.

Isaiah Colburn, the Catholic priest who was her first mentor and the man she secretly longed for, understands her struggles only too well. At a crossroads, he's suddenly reappeared in her life, torn between his priesthood and his growing desire for a future with Analiese.

Divided between love and vows they've taken, both must face the possibilities of living very different lives or continuing to serve their communities. With a defeated family's trust and her own happiness on the line, Analiese must define for herself where darkness ends and light begins.
 


My thoughts banner
The Color of Light is #4 in the Goddesses Anonymous series by Emilie Richards.  It is one of my top favourite series and the The Color of Light just added to the allure.

When Emilie Richards writes of church she has a ring of authority and compassion.  A vision that is inspiring. And so we have in this novel the story of Analiese the pastor of the local church. Annaliese is the kind of pastor I'd want for any and every church.  She is strong, caring and compassionate.  She is not about institution, she is about people.  However the life of a pastor is not an easy one.  If you belong to or have belonged to a parish of any kind, I am sure you are aware of the variety of people and their politics. That must be very taxing as a minister tries to follow their calling and deal with all the other minutiae that goes along with the role.  Annaliese has a lot to contend with, often no time to eat or call her own.  But she has a calling to ministry and it goes deeply into her being.

Annaliese welcomes a homeless family into a small apartment that is attached to the church when she finds them preparing to camp out in the cold.  The Fowler family play a big part in this story and through it a church is offered the chance to explore what church is really about.  This family has many problems and at the beginning it is Shiloh a fourteen year old that holds them together.  How best to help them? There are a variety of ways, but which way is going to lead to self respect, dignity and eventually the chance to be independent and whole again as people and as a family?

Isaiah is a Roman Catholic priest and Jesuit, arrives in the area, taking time out to explore his calling. Analiese and he have known each other many years ago, when he helped her discover her calling to ministry.  However they have not been in contact for many years until now.  I thought Emilie Richards explored his path and journey very well.  I was very satisfied finally with the way he made his choices in line with his calling.

Of course we meet other characters from previous books and see their lives continuing to take shape. We see the struggles of the homeless, we see a very topical issue facing the church and Annaliese - one that Annaliese handles extremely well. While it is foreshadowed before it happens I don't want to discuss it so as not to give away the plot.  

This book oozes warmth and humanity at its best and occasionally at its weakest.  My heart was deeply touched by an "I love you" and the response to it.  And no, it wasn't between Annaliese and Isaiah!

Story telling with sensitivity and at its finest.

5 stars




July 23, 2015

Winner of The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White.


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Congratulations to Shelby N from Indiana USA who won the copy of The Perfect Son.

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This giveaway was sponsored by myself because I loved the book!
It was drawn by Random.org.
Shelby was the second name chosen, after waiting 48 hours and then extending it by days due to Summer holidays (my terms and conditions) - but after a second email to the first chosen and one week later with no response - a new winner was chosen. 

July 21, 2015

Summer Secrets. Jane Green

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Summer Secrets
Jane Green
Published: Macmillan
Date: July 1st. 2015
Format: Paperback
Pages: 376
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Own book
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My thoughts banner
Summer Secrets by Jane Green is my first ever read by Jane Green.  Surprising but true. However now I am won over and will be catching up over time on her backlist. I went out and bought this after reading a number of reviews, and just headed it on up to the top of my reading pile on a whim.

Set mostly in London, England with some of the time in Nantucket USA, this is the story of Cat and her addiction to alcohol.  Cat has grown up with a father who is distant and controlling, and a mother who often takes to her bed with depression.  She grows up lonely and always feeling she is not quite enough.  While a competent journalist, she often drinks herself into oblivion, so avoiding her pain and feelings of loneliness and insecurity.  

And so we follow the path that Cat takes, the father she always thought as her father dies, and then she learns new information about her father that takes her on a trip to meet another family in Nantucket.  Looking in on them she thinks it must be perfect and makes that mistake we often think that other people have the perfect life.  However after an initial "well met" she does something that sends her back to London.

Cat makes attempts to gain sobriety but always to please someone else. Can she ever do it to please herself?  It is a long hard road for Cat, she hurts others along the way and is in turn hurt too.  Jane Green gives us an insightful look into the life of an alcoholic. I found myself caught up in the story and read through it every moment I could. I have never been an alcoholic or lived with one, so it was an exploration of the illness of alcoholism that gave me an appreciation of its difficulties, heartbreaks and challenges. I appreciate the fact that while Cat chose to numb herself through drink there are many ways we can numb ourselves to pain in our lives. Facing it, accepting it and not turning from it is so important. Does Cat do that? Can she do it? It's tough!

I am not mentioning other characters so that if you haven't read the book you are introduced to them as they enter the story.  Some are wonderful, some do just the right thing at the right time and some don't. There are unexpected turns at times and this too added to the emotion and tension in the story.

Loved it! Life, love, hell, hope, forgiveness - this book has it all.

4.5 stars

July 19, 2015

Sunday Post. #Fitreaders.

badge for Sunday PostIt's Monday! What Are You Reading?
Sheila at Book Journey runs It's Monday! What Are You Reading? While this  meme is not fully active at present I will be linking up as well to the Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

It's been a mixed week for reading but getting through some listening while driving down to visit my sister who is in hospital and hasn't recovered as quickly as she hoped.  No sign of my niece's baby as yet. Did I say she is a girl! I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

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I am happy to say I made my goal for this week and went slightly over.  I thought I was going to be below but the bad weather kept away on the last day of the week and hey presto it was a big tick week!

What I read last week:

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Was a great week reading Women's Fiction - all very good reads.

What I am reading at present:


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And still listening to The Liar by Nora Roberts.
Also listening to A Love to Call Her Own by Marilyn Pappano 

Up next:

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Posts from the last week:


July 17, 2015

The Summer Wind. Mary Alice Monroe

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The Summer Wind
Mary Alice Monroe
Published: Blackstone Audio
Date: 2014
Format: Audiobook
Length: 11hrs 44min
Narrator: Mary Alice Monroe
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Own book
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My thoughts banner
The Summer Wind is #2 in the Lowcountry Summer trilogy written and narrated by Mary Alice Monroe.  This book takes up the story of the three half sisters, Dora, Carson and Harper.  Not to forget Nate, Dora's son.  Of course Mamaw and Lucille are very much part of their lives again too. They are all still at Sea Breeze on Sullivan's Island for the last summer before the house must be sold.

This book focuses on Dora, her marriage seems to be over and it is time for her to pick up her life and maybe let the reins go too a little where Nate is concerned. Mamaw, Carson and Harper all take it in turn to help and support Dora in the process of healing.  It doesn't hurt either that she meets an old friend who seems exactly right for her.

We also are updated on Delphine's progress, the dolphin that was badly injured in Book one.  There is also a delightful scene with turtles.

The winds of change are moving through the house for Mamaw, Lucille and the girls.  Carson is thrown a curve ball that leaves her all at sea, what she will decide remains to be seen.  Dora is realising it is time for her to be independent and make choices that will take her into the second half of life a happy person.  Harper too is beginning to think through her future. And someone says a last goodbye.

This trilogy is definitely one where to pick up just one would be dissatisfying.  It is one story told in three parts. I look forward to the last one to pick up the lives of these mostly southern women.

Again the book is narrated by the author, she has a feel for the story and I enjoyed listening to her tell it.

4.5 stars
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