October 22, 2016

The Education of Dixie Dupree. Donna Everhart

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Published: Kensington
Date: October 25th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Genre: Southern Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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In 1969, Dixie Dupree is eleven years old and already an expert liar. Sometimes the lies are for her mama, Evie’s sake—to explain away a bruise brought on by her quick-as-lightning temper. And sometimes the lies are to spite Evie, who longs to leave her unhappy marriage in Perry County, Alabama, and return to her beloved New Hampshire. But for Dixie and her brother, Alabama is home, a place of pine-scented breezes and hot, languid afternoons.

Though Dixie is learning that the family she once believed was happy has deep fractures, even her vivid imagination couldn’t concoct the events about to unfold. Dixie records everything in her diary—her parents’ fights, her father’s drinking and his unexplained departure, and the arrival of Uncle Ray. Only when Dixie desperately needs help and is met with disbelief does she realize how much damage her past lies have done. But she has courage and a spirit that may yet prevail, forcing secrets into the open and allowing her to forgive and become whole again.

                                             My thoughts banner
The voice of Dixie just grabbed me and drew me into this story. Had I known how the story was going to unfold, maybe I would never have read this book, so I am very pleased I went in cold. The Education of Dixie Dupree is the debut novel of Donna Everhart, yet it felt like to me that it was coming from a very experienced writer, it was so well written.

Dixie is an inquisitive, strong personality and I was often horrified by the relationship she had with her mother. My heart went out to Dixie as she endured the many questions she had in her mind and the love and wonderings she had about her father. Her mother is a very unhappy woman and it could be said much of what happens, happens because of this unhappiness. Her secrets though are dark and as yet have not seen enough light. When something isn't healed, then ugly things can result.

Dixie keeps a diary and in it she writes her truths. Later this diary will become very important. However what she doesn't know is her mother kept a diary like she did too, and eventually it will answer some of the questions Dixie has.

Most of the story is set in Alabama and the setting - the heat, the red dust and the love of the land comes through from Dixie. What happens to Dixie is dark and abusive. This is not an easy book to read, but Dixie's powerful voice just mesmerised me and kept me reading. And there is justice and hope and resilience. Perhaps the final revelation was a little 'too tidy', and I will be interested to see what others think about that.

debut novel heart breaking thought provoking book club perfect

October 20, 2016

Poinciana Road by Margaret Way

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Published: Zebra
Date: October 25th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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A successful child psychologist, Mallory has no wish to return to the tropical hideaway where she experienced so much pain. But her Uncle Robert is ailing and it’s only right that she be there for the man who came to her rescue when she was a lost, lonely child. At least he is not alone—his protégé, and Mallory’s rival for his affections, is also at his side. Blaine Forrester hasn’t lost his knack for getting under Mallory’s skin, taking her breath away and leaving her unsettled at the same time.

While Robert recuperates, Mallory is shocked to learn that Jason Cartwright is on the payroll of his estate—the very man whose humiliating betrayal led her to leave North Queensland on the eve of her wedding. Confronting him—along with his wife and his manipulative twin sister—is a trial, though she can’t help forming a bond with little Ivy, Jason’s sickly daughter. But as tragedy strikes Moonglade, Mallory and Blaine will discover a darkness hidden within this deceptively beautiful world and their enigmatic circle—one that will either unite them at last, or tear apart the promise of paradise…

My thoughts banner
Poinciana Road was an enjoyable read, it is set in Queensland and is full of the flora and fauna of that part of the country, which just sounds so beautiful.  Poinciana Road leads up to the property that Mallory returns to when her uncle is ill. It is lined with Poinciana trees, so not knowing what they looked like I googled them. They are a beautiful tree with red flowers, together they look like a huge umbrella on the tree. Very striking, and are found in sub tropical and tropical areas.

This was a story that was filled with a variety of characters and moved along at a good pace. I kept reading because I wanted to know what happened next. And... I wanted to peek at the back, which to me means I am hooked. So... I kept reading.

Mallory has had a difficult past and overcoming it is now helping children like she once was as a child psychologist.  However she takes an extended break from it when her loved Uncle Robert is taken ill. When she returns home she meets up with an ex fiance, his twin sister, plus the woman he married and their child, and another man she has known from childhood and felt a strong attraction for. She can also at times see auras and senses at times those who have passed.

It is quite a mix and Margaret Way helps the reader infer what is going on with the twins, who have problems big time and a dark side. Ivy, the little one belonging to Kathy and Jason the male twin,  is thin and sickly. One of the questions throughout the book is why?  

So in short - a beautiful setting, some mysterious and sometimes sinister happenings and a little romance adds up to an engaging read.
romantic page turner Australian author

October 19, 2016

The Christmas Town. Donna VanLiere

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Published: St Martin's Press
Date: 18th October 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 241
Genre: Christmas Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.

When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for.

My thoughts banner
The Christmas Town is a heartwarming Christmas story of someone - Lauren, who has really never experienced the love and warmth of family at Christmas, until one fateful year when she stumbles into a town that seems to have the spirit of Christmas wrapped about it.

The people of the town are varied and not perfect. But they are caring and thoughtful and they want to reach out to others. Especially Miriam and Gloria who when they hear of a young woman looking for a family for Christmas decide to do something about it.

The best character in the story is Ben, a young man who works packing groceries. At Christmas time he packs along with the groceries a special wish or piece of Christmas wisdom that is unique and suited to the person.

There a number of town characters, not least of all the children that Lauren comes by most days to help prepare for a Christmas sing along. 

Filled with Christmas spirit and offering hope and pointing out the best side of all things Christmas related, this was an enjoyable and quick read.

October 17, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 17th October


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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The winner from last week's draw for $12 celebrating It's Monday! link up was Bibliophile @ Reading in Reykjavik , I have emailed and just waiting for a reply.

For the final week there will be a $15 (U.S.) Amazon voucher or book to that value from the Book Depository for one person randomly chosen on the link up.

Well Spring marches on with its crazy weather. I even lit the fire one day, but we are back to higher temps again. I got some reading done, some gardening too with plenty of scratches! I went to our local annual second hand book fair that raises money for various charities. I came back with eighteen books so was picky. I haven't read most of the ones I got last year. I also went to our knitting group and finished a couple of the sheep I am knitting for the nativity set to be raffled, as I spend my time patch working, not much time for knitting!                                                         

What I read last week:

Two review books...
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And one from my recently bought shelf...

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What I am reading at present:

Miranda Hart of the British sitcom Miranda and the drama Call the Midwife. shares about life with her dog. I love her humour, and can hear her voice as I read, so no hardship there!

Also listening to Colleen Hoover's It Stops With Us on audio.

Up next:

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Posts from the last week:

The Language of Sisters    Cathy Lamb
The Life She Wants    Robyn Carr
Sold Short   Ainslie Paton
a divide

Women's Fiction Reading Challenge Completion Link Up.

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This challenge is for those who enjoy reading women's fiction.  How might you define this type of book?  I define it as any book that is mainly written and marketed for women (although that doesn't stop men reading them, they can and sometimes do),  they may contain elements of romance but the book mainly centres around the development of women or a woman throughout the book.  Women centered books, that might focus on the issues relating to women, it may be a mainstream novel, slightly less or slightly more.  This website probably best describes what I am thinking of Women Fiction Writers.  


  • Motivated 1- 5
  • Savvy     6 - 10
  • Classy    11- 20
  • Go-getter  20 -30
  • Fearless  30+

Final link up post  for those who have completed their challenge, If you listed your books as you read them on your sign up post, then you have the post all ready to link at the end of the year.  All those who complete the challenge will go into the draw for a $25 prize to be in the form of a book from the Book Depository or voucher for U.S. Amazon store.  A Gone Reading voucher is also an option.

Final draw will be on Jan 1st 2017.  Thanks for joining in. 

October 12, 2016

Blog Tour: The Life She Wants. Q&A with Robyn Carr and Review

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Published: Mira
Date: September 27th 2016
Format: e-Arc
Pages: 368
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
4.5 stars             Add to Goodreads
After the scandal of her husband's Ponzi scheme breaks, main character Emma Shay decides to return home to California to try and rebuild her life<

Shunned by everyone who knows her and with little family to speak of, her ex-best friend is the only person willing to give her a job—cleaning houses. Emma, who not long ago employed a full housekeeping staff in her Manhattan penthouse, is now doing the cleaning and trying to clean up her own messes at the same time.

As she navigates the mistakes of her past and tries to find redemption in a new relationship, Emma realizes that it's up to her to create the life she wants.

Question and Answers with Robyn Carr

Q: The book opens with Emma Shay moving back home to California from New York after her financier husband is revealed to be running a massive Ponzi scheme and commits suicide. How much was the premise of this book inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal, and what kind of research did writing this story involve?

A:  I asked myself, what would it be like to be Mrs. Madoff?  So of course I had to read about it – it turned out to be much more sordid and shameful in Bernie’s case than anything I had imagined.  I wanted to create a character who was every bit as victimized as her late husband’s clients and that character was Emma.  But the story was more about a relationship between two thirty-five year old women whose friendship fell apart when they were young.  The question is – how does Emma repair all the damage she suffered when she married a crook?

Q: On the surface, it seems like Emma Shay had the life that a lot of people would want—a rich husband, a beautiful home, expensive clothes, a full household staff. But we soon learn that her life was not the fairytale it appeared to be. What made you want to explore the darker side of that kind of monetary and material wealth, and what do you think it actually means to have a “rich life?”

A:  Money can be fun but it’s a tool, nothing more.  There are so many wise sayings that apply – “It is a wealthy man who knows he has enough.”  Or one of my favorites, “If you marry for money you’ll earn every dime.”  Why?  Because money is a convenient tool but the love of money is soulless.  When Emma is finally free of the burdens and complications of wealth, when she earns her money and simplifies her life she feels richer.

I think one has a rich life when one has people who love her, friends and hopefully family, or at least the family one collects, when one has health and a positive outlook on life.  Some of the happiest people I’ve known didn’t have much material wealth.  Real wealth comes from knowing who you can depend on, who you can trust, who will be there for you when you need someone – maybe just to talk.  

I know that billionaire romances are very popular but I’ve never been enamored of them.  I find the problems of the incredibly rich to be boring and lifeless.  There’s joy in challenge and I take pride in hard work.  In a job well done.  People are not important to me if they’ve amassed wealth – they’re valuable to me if they’ve collected wisdom.  Professor Cornel West said he didn’t necessarily admire intelligence – Hitler was brilliant after all.  He admired wisdom.  

Q: The damaged friendship between Emma and Riley is one of the central relationships in this novel. After having written so many successful romantic love stories, what was different or challenging about building your story around a fraught, deeply complicated female friendship?

A:  I’m accustomed to writing “girlfriend books” that, from the beginning, have a very strong bond between the women, that the friends get each other through the tough times.  I wanted to know how it’s different when the bond has been broken but the tough times are present.  

You’ll find out what you’re made of when you go through a relationship crisis, when you feel scared and alone.  

Q: Another interesting relationship in the book is the one between Emma and Bethany, a teenage girl who lives in one of the houses she cleans. What made you want to explore that storyline?
A:   I think that on some level the people who clean houses do more than come into our homes, they come into our lives and see much more than we realize.  They enter our private lives, our most personal space.  They see how we live and what our values are.  In the case of Bethany, she appeared to be unloved and tragic and had no support and Emma, who had looked the other way when her husband was robbing his clients blind, could not look away from Bethany.  It showed the character of both Emma and Bethany and it was a turning point in Emma’s life.  

Q: We have to ask, what’s next for you? What are you working on right now?
A:  I’m at work on the second Sullivan’s Crossing novel, no title yet.  It should be ready soon and out the beginning of April 2017.

My thoughts banner
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of Emma, money lost and having to start over, with everyone (well almost everyone) looking at her suspiciously and some hating upon her in foul ways. Her husband had unbeknown to her a ponzi scheme going and so many people lost their money.

When Emma returns home she finds it difficult to get a job because of all that has gone on. However one family and a few friends support her through the worst. So there you have it, good friendship and loving family. No wait! Its not Emma's family, they're as despicable as dirt, and her best friend and herself from way back have been in a huge "no speaking" situation for about fifteen years.

I am sure from time to time we all dream of wealth, what we'd do if we won that big lotto prize, but is wealth what makes us happy? That's the question Robyn Carr explores in this book, and the shows us what she thinks might make us happy, and I tend to agree with her.  Yikes I watched one reality "The Real Housewives of...." and was totally put off, no I don't want to live my life like that.  I want good friends, family and some challenges to keep me interested in life. 

Emma is strong, hard working and very compassionate and now in her mid thirties, is able to make decisions about what she thinks is right or wrong. Riley her estranged friend is rather similar, although she has a few hard edges to her that just need to be filed a tad, and they are. 

If you love a good second chance book with strong yet flawed characters then this just might be for you.

Favourite author Romantic Page turner Women's Fiction

The Language of Sisters. Cathy Lamb

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Published: Kensington
Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 457
Genre: Fiction
Source: Own book
5 stars        Add to Goodreads
Toni Kozlovsky can’t explain how she knows exactly what her sisters are feeling—only that the connection seems to happen out of the blue, just when they need it most. Since Toni, Valerie, and Ellie were little girls growing up in Communist Russia, their parents have insisted it’s simply further proof that the Kozlovskys are special and different.

Now a crime and justice reporter, Toni lives on a yellow tugboat on Oregon’s Willamette River. As far as her parents are concerned, the pain of their old life and their dangerous escape should remain buried in the Moscow they left behind, as should the mysterious past of their adopted brother, Dmitry. But lately, Toni’s talent for putting on a smile isn’t enough to keep memories at bay.

Valerie, a prosecuting attorney, wages constant war against the wrongs she could do nothing about as a child. Youngest sister Ellie is engaged to marry an Italian, breaking her mother’s heart in the process. Toni fears she’s about to lose her home, while the hard edged DEA agent down the dock keeps trying to break through her reserve. Meanwhile, beneath the culture clashes and endearing quirks within her huge, noisy, loving family are deeper secrets that Toni has sworn to keep—even from the one person she longs to help most.

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I really don't know where to begin talking about this book.  Cathy Lamb is an author whose work I have come to enjoy in the last couple of years - thanks to an Australian blogger at Book'd Out. Lamb's books just so satisfy my reading heart.

Toni is the narrator, one of three sisters who have a very special bond. They began their lives in Russia in the 80's where it was dangerous for them. They were under the eye of the KGB and their large extended family were quietly escaping to the USA.   While the story begins in America, every so often we go back to that time in Russia until every little horrific detail of that time is revealed. One of the mysteries that Toni holds a little part - how did their brother arrive to them one bloody night?

Toni is at a low point in her life and it takes awhile to find out all the details. She lives on a converted tugboat ( and I want one) at a dock. Surrounding her are a wonderful group of people who are a little community that really watches out for each other. Daisy - an old woman just sinking into dementia is a treat.  And of course then there is the DEA agent Nick who just adores Toni.

Valerie - Toni's sister is a prosecutor and is dealing with a particularly bad case - one that threatens her. Ellie is engaged to be married but has to keep breathing into a paper bag to deal with all the stress and differing opinions with her fiance. These girls and their brother are part of a large extended family. Their parents are such fun, despite all that they went through in Russia,  they love each other, run a very successful restaurant. Uncles, aunts, cousins abound. They are all such a hoot.

This book kept me reading, I wanted to find out all of Toni's story, I wanted to know what the secret was that they were keeping from Dmitry. I chuckled so many times. There were moments of sadness. The love in this family just won me over. Even if they were in your face nosy and interfering at times!

Romantic witty recently bought family top read 2016

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