January 26, 2015

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?

Our dry hot summer continues, my lawn is just a dusty brown patch, I am just watering a few vegetables and that is it, as we now pay for our water.

This past week I caught up with season five of Downton Abbey and so this week I am ready for the Christmas extras which screen here this week.

Best wishes to my Australian neighbours who  are celebrating their Australia Day  and have a long weekend to help those celebrations. I enjoyed hopping around the blog hop organised by Shellyrae over at Book'd Out  There are so many amazing Australian authors.  

What I finished reading this week:


For review in the coming week
with a giveaway.

Finished this audiobook

1st in a trilogy.
Good read.

What I am reading at present:
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
Listening to:
Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker

What is in the plan for my next reads:
Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth

While you are here please thing about checking out the Audiobook Blog Hop - best of 2014. I have a giveaway as well as that there are three credits up for the possibility of winning from Audible.

January 25, 2015

Best Audiobooks of 2014 Blog Hop

Best of Audiobooks 2014 banner
This blog hop is hosted by Hot Listens, The Book Nympho, and The Geeky Blogger's Book Blog This is happening January 25th to February 1st.

My Five Best Audiobooks of 2014:

The Rosie Project 
Graeme Simsion
Narrated by Dan O'Grady
Length: 7 hrs 30 min.
Genre: Romantic comedy

Dan O"Grady  narrated The Rosie Project really well.  He spoke as I would imagine Don would speak.  It was so believable it was as if Don was speaking.  At first I was a little annoyed at his speaking of the women parts, a slight variation and that was all.  However after awhile I  settled down.  The fact that it was in the 1st person and Don was telling the story sort of suited the narration.  I don't often listen to men narrating because of the way they narrate women's voices.  I have to say it was okay in this book.  If you haven't read this book I highly recommend you listen to the audio version.

The Husband's Secret      
Liane Moriarty
Narrator: Caroline Lee
Length:  13 hours 48 min
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

My goodness, this book was every bit as good as many of the reviewers in the blogoverse have said. I listened to the audio version and really enjoyed it.  Caroline Lee did a marvellous narration, her voices worked well, and it added to the pleasure of a good book

More Than a Mistress
Mary Balogh
Length: 11hours 46 minutes
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Genre: Historical romance

More Than a Mistress was first published in 2000 and Brilliance Audio published it in 2011.  This book has sat for many, many, months - like 24 months in my audio library.  It was one of those books I bought with a free $10 bonus when you buy 4 in a month at Audible.  What a pity that I left it so long.  It turned out to be a very enjoyable listen.  Rosalyn Landor does an excellent job of narrating the book - I am sure that is why I found it so pleasurable.  Her voices for the various characters are excellent.

River Road
Jayne Ann Krentz
Length: 9hrs 53 min
Narrator: Amanda Lee Cobb
Genre: Romantic Suspense

I have had River Road sitting on my iPod for awhile now, I was put off by a few reviews on Audible about the narrator.  Eventually I decided to listen to it .... and was pleasantly surprised.  The narrator was not awful and I enjoyed her reading of River Road.  Amanda Lee Cob was good and although her voice variation of characters was not great, everything else satisfied me. I like romantic suspense written by this author - Falling Awake I think is my favourite.

Breathing Room  
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Length: 10 hrs 39 min
Narrated by Kate Fleming
Genre: Romance

Kate Fleming (Anna Fields) was again wonderful in this narration. So sad to know she will never narrate another again.  I really enjoy Susan Elizabeth Phillips' writing.  This was a reread and I chose to read it this time by audio.      

Enter the Blog Hop Giveaway. As well below is my own personal giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Book Date is giving away:

The winner may choose either a book of their choice from Audible* ( I only have access to books that have world rights, so I may not be able to access the particular one you want, but we can negotiate I am sure) or a gift voucher to Amazon for $15, or a book from Book Depository to that amount also could work.
* To be eligible for the Audible book you need to be a member or  to redeem the book you need to sign up when you redeem.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

January 24, 2015

Beach Girls Luanne Rice

Beach Girls book cover
Beach Girls
Luanne Rice
Published: Bantam Dell
Date: 2004
Format: Paperback
Pages: 428
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Own book
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Twenty-five years ago three friends grew from girls to women on the sandy shores of Hubbard's Point, Connecticut, forging a bond they swore would last forever.  Then time and distance drew them apart - and one was lost forever.  Now her nine year old daughter has returned to the Point with her widowed father, longing to find the "beach girls" of her mother's stories.

My thoughts banner
I've had this book so long on my TBR shelf I no longer remember where I picked it up.  On looking through the reviews over on Book Journey I came across Sheila's review of Beach Girls by Luanne Rice. and immediately I could tell I would like it and decided to read it this year.  It was even better than I thought it would be and it is definitely relocating now to my Keeper shelf, once I have shared it with one of my sisters.  I lend her any book I've loved and think she will too.

Nell is the nine year old who has lost her mother and is yearning somehow to reach out and 'touch' her through her friends of long ago.  She is all of nine going on twenty.  I thought maybe she spoke and acted a little older than a nine year old, but then I thought of the wisdom I have come across from young people and decided to go with the flow.  She seeks out Stevie Moore a recluse, who paints and writes story books for children, always sharing the darker side of nature as well as the positive. While there is a notice up outside Stevie's house that says Go Away, Nell is determined to visit and so she does.  

Stevie is a complicated woman, at a young age she experienced the loss of her mother, so has an immediate 'feel' for Nell.  She has had a few unsuccessful marriages and now just lives by herself with her cat Tilly.  However she does have an aunt and cousin with whom she is close.  She longs for connection but is now careful with her heart.

Maddie Kilvert is one of the other women who was part of the 'beach girls', growing up she was secure in the knowledge of the love of her parents and older brother Jack, four years older than her. She always expected the best out of life.  Emma is the third 'beach girl' she's an extrovert, welcomes change and excitement and I sensed a little envious of Stevie.

Now so many years later life has very much changed for them.  One is dead, one does not know and the other is lost in grief, guilt and loss.  Can people recover from loss and go on to lead fulfilling lives? It's not easy and all the denial and avoidance will not help in the long run.  Is there hope?  The story Luanne Rice weaves says a resounding yes.

This book sucked me in, I loved the writing and the details of the coastline and the coastal habitat for all kinds of birds and other creatures, that was so well integrated into the story.  The theme of family and friendship was strong, as was the redeeming nature of love and faith and overcoming obstacles. One of those books I didn't want to end.
5 stars

#Fitreaders' Check In 24th January 2015

#FitReaders is hosted by The Geeky Blogger and That's What I'm Talking About. 

I am happy with my week past.  
On Monday I took a rest day as I was feeling tired, and I think I will aim to take one rest day a week.
Every other day I walked 40 - 45 minutes.

I have gone just a little over my goal of 52 500 steps for a week - so on target!  Just been to buy some more tank tops, warm walking!!

Today I finished listening to Dark Witch by Nora Roberts and my next listen is going to be Ten Tiny Breaths by K. A. Tucker.  Heard so much about this book and the narration has been given the thumbs up so I am looking forward to it.

January 22, 2015

Teardrop Lane. Emily March

Teardrop Lane
Emily March
Published: Ballantine Books
Date: 27th January 2015
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary romance
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Town physician Rose Anderson hides a well of sadness behind her cheerful and capable professionalism. Heartbreak has only reinforced her belief that marriage and children aren’t in her future. Yet she’s a woman with a pulse—and when sexy, brooding artist Hunt Cicero shows up at her office with his young nephew, the sheer physical attraction he ignites in her is both exciting and unsettling.

Hunt has an artist’s passionate temperament and a bachelor’s lifestyle. So when he becomes guardian to his sister’s children, he’s riddled with conflict—and in way over his head. Without Rose and her warm maternal instincts, he’d be lost. Still, she’s a woman who guards her own heart, and he’s a novice when it comes to commitment. Can the healing magic of Eternity Springs shine on this patchwork family and allow Hunt and Rose to trust that love is the fabric holding them together?
My thoughts banner
Teardrop Lane by Emily March is #9 in her Eternity Springs series.  I have followed this series with eager anticipation as each book has been published. Books that explore the story of healing and love for the two main characters.

Rose and Cicero had already been introduced in previous books so it was easy to pick up with their lives and those of their friends and relations.  Both of them have stories from their childhood and early adult years that had wounded them. Yet they have grown into gifted, creative adults.  Rose is a caring and competent physician, Cicero a gifted, passionate artist crafting exquisite works of art  with glass blowing.  He learns that Gabi Romano, his apprentice, has entered his work in a competition, that could see him winning a prestigious award, it he can come up with a piece of art that embodies a stanza of poetry form the poet Emily Dickinson about hope.  This turns out to be  a significant part of the story, providing many a crisis and numerous points of growth for Cicero.

The first half of the book moved slowly as the relationship between Rose and Cicero developed.  I thought it was okay but I was a little disappointed - I was wanting a little more 'explosion'.  Then at about half way through - wham, things picked up and I was fully hooked.  There are challenges that confront both Cicero and Rose, things happen and their worst fears and anxieties are aroused.  While there was fear and tension present, I loved how they managed to work their way through with challenging conversations that established trust and hope.

I loved the four children who come to stay with Cicero, those of his sister who died from cancer.  She had left the custody to her dead husband's sister and husband.  They had decided to put them in foster care because they were expecting their own first child and it was all too much.  It might have been all to much for Cicero too, but he loved those children and all of Eternity Springs came out to support him as they do.  Celeste had again her own little delightful input, and I had almost forgotten her usual last little act until it happened too for Rose and Cicero.  So deserved.  

When I had reached 99% of the story I guessed I was coming to that dreaded end.  And it wasn't quite turning out as I had hoped.  It was good - but not perfect for the characters and what my heart hoped for.  However there were still surprises to be had in the 1%! 

Another excellent, rewarding story about the characters of Eternity Springs.  
4.5 stars

January 21, 2015

To Challenge or not to Challenge - that is the Question!

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This year I have signed up for about 22 reading related challenges all told.  ( A couple only run for a few months). As well signing up for 22, two of those I am hosting.

Some of us appear to be quite the challenge addict - and yes there is a challenge to cover that too! This year I've stepped a little outside the box and my comfort zone and even signed  in for a Discussion Challenge (reading related).

I enjoy a reading challenge for a number of reasons:

  • fun and simple pleasure
  • the satisfaction of ticking a book off the list
  • helps me step outside the boundaries of my normal reading
  • it extends my knowledge of books and blogs as I read others' reviews
  • the satisfaction of completing the reading challenge by the end of the allotted time
  • this year I am enjoying seeing how many challenges I can hit with one book!
  • I quite enjoy entering a giveaway related to the challenge 

Why do you sign up (or not sign up) to reading challenges?

Reading challenges aren't for everybody and that's okay.  Why wouldn't you be involved?

  • it feels like a pressure
  • too difficult to track and some reading challenges call for reviews
  • just not interested
Last year I found one blog had completely been deleted when I went to link at the end.  Never mind I had completed the challenge.
One reading challenge host blogger got completely taken over by life and never updated links etc. She had a huge number of people who had signed up, and very few of the promises were carried out. I completed the challenge, but found other challenges to do in that area for this year. 

Organisation and Tracking challenges

Every challenge has variations about linking/not linking.  Some link at the end of the month, some never link, some link at the very end.... and so on.  When you are doing a number of challenges it can be quite difficult to remember what about which!

This year, along with my sidebars that help me visually track, I have linked all my challenges on one page so that I can quickly find them and I have written a note to myself in places about each challenge, although I am still a little muddled!!

What works for you organisation wise?

Hosting a Challenge

Last year I hosted a reading challenge and I learned one or two things.  I had link ups every month, but didn't leave the link posts where participants could easily find them, so that they could check if they had linked up a book or not.  I will remedy that this year.

With the final link up I closed it off at the end of December, but I see many challenges leave that open until mid January or so.  I am not sure about that, as I have forgotten all about last years' challenges, now I am thinking about this years.   
How long should the final link up be for?  End of December or Mid January? Or?

What are your thoughts on reading challenges?

January 20, 2015

Purity in Death. J. D. Robb

Purity in Death
J. D. Robb
Published: Piatkus
Date: 2012 1st published 2002
Format:  Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Romantic suspense
Source: Local library
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New York, the summer of 2059, and the unbearable heat drives everyone to the very edge of madness. So when homicide lieutenant Eve Dallas is called to a violent attack by a deranged man, she thinks she's in control. She couldn't be more wrong. Someone is managing to spread insanity like a virus.
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There is no doubt in my mind that J. D. Robb writes great suspense.  As well as that she writes about characters I like and care about, and she often gets me with an element of surprise, just when I think I have 'solved' this one.  I was up there this time but was totally surprised/delighted to discover the way she brought the criminal down.

In this book people are dying in a spectacular way, when their brain explodes.  An email is sent by computer that invades their brain and after awhile they get raging headaches and go 'mad', sometimes they kill others as well as themselves.  Who is behind this, that is the question and why.  The why is soon very obvious but the who takes much longer.

Because Eve is not very tech minded she needs Roarke and her tech team of Feeney and McNabb and young Jamie.  Jamie we met in a previous book, his desire is to become a policeman like his murdered Grandad when he is old enough.  He likes nothing better to trash talk with the tech guys, and he is a bit of a whizz kid when it comes to all things tech.  I look forward to meeting him in later books.  Troy Trueheart, a young policeman we met too earlier on has a small cameo role, and Eve finds it difficult to step back when he runs into trouble.  She wants to 'mother' him.

McNabb and Peabody have small but important parts in this story and I think their romance is certainly developing along the 'love' path.  As usual the repartee between Eve and Peabody is great and now moving to a more 'equal' footing.  

Eve and Roarke clash a little over law and what is right, Eve thinks Roarke is on the opposite side of the fence to her but he just has a broader outlook and he helps her to see it.

#15 in the series - Purity in Death was another excellent addition to the series.  
4.5 stars

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