September 28, 2016

The Promise Kitchen. Peggy Lampman

Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: August 16th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 380
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Publisher/Author  via NetGalley
Rating:
3.5 stars          Add to Goodreads
Shelby Preston, a young single mother, is at a crossroads. She feels suffocated by her hardscrabble life in rural Georgia and dreams of becoming a professional chef. Lord knows her family could use a pot of something good.

In Atlanta, Mallory Lakes is reeling from a bad breakup. The newspaper food columnist is also bracing for major changes at work that could put her job at risk. Determined to find the perfect recipe for how to reinvent herself, she gets involved in the growing farm-to-table movement. But an emotional setback threatens to derail everything she’s worked for.

Shelby and Mallory couldn’t be more different. But through their shared passion for food, they form an unlikely friendship—a bond that just might be their salvation. This heartwarming and lyrical tale reminds us that family isn’t necessarily whom you’re related to—it’s whom you invite to your table.

My thoughts banner
The Promise Kitchen was first published under the title Simmer and Smoke in 2015. That cover of that edition is far more suitable to this present cover. This cover implies frivolous and sweetness and light, and that just doesn't match the gutsy women and the southern life and their cooking.

This is the story of Shelby - wanting to be a chef par excellence, yet ground down in a small backwater place where dreams are hard to realise. She has a daughter (Ann, and my favorite character) about eight years old. They live with Shelby's mother and partner Lester. Shelby's mother has dreams too, she wants to restart up the hair dressing business she loved once. When Shelby gets a chance to develop her skills in Atlanta - her mother cares for her daughter while she is away.

Mallory is a food blogger, far wealthier than Shelby, but not  happy really, she hasn't found that place within her, where she knows she is home.  Shelby looks up to Mallory and follows her recipes and thinks it is amazing to actually meet her.  When an accident occurs it turns Mallory's life upside down, she experiences guilt and the need to make reparation. Eventually the lives of Shelby and Mallory intertwine and together they move forward.

This is a story of family, friendship and going after your dreams. It is about second chances and over coming weakness that has crept in. While I wasn't drawn to the southern food, the characters snuck up on me and I grew to care about them and cheer them on. 

Foodlovers Bon Apetit


September 26, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 26th September

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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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Oh my September is disappearing. Where do these weeks go?  

I had a varied week.  We have extended family around at the moment as my niece is over from Australia with her little 9 month old. His first visit to our isles. So my sister had an afternoon for all the nieces and their little ones. Not everyone could be there but many were.
Family group of nieces and children

I finished the quilt I was making for my sister, I only make small lap sized ones, and her one was big blocks as well to help things along. 
small lap quilt


Under my needle at present is a quilt for Miss Audrey in the black skirt above. I have been working on this for awhile and was nervous about quilting it, because I didn't want to muck it up. I have a little but all a learning experience.

                                                         

What I read last week:

Reviews will be posted for all three at some point.

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Finished listening to Delusion in Death. Always so good on audio.


What I am reading at present:

Generally I am not a Nicholas Sparks reader but thought I'd give this review one a whirl. 
I am listening to:
First time trying this author. I like the female narrator but not so much the male narrator.  A little insipid.
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Up next:

For review and no I don't like the cover, but I know what's inside is likely to be very good!
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From the recently bought shelf.

Nalini Singh recommended this one - fantasy and I like that genre from time to time and looking on Goodreads I see people I follow giving 4 or 5 stars so looking forward to it. Already have the 2nd in the series too from NetGalley which comes out in January. So need to read this one first.
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Posts from the last week:

Echoes of Family   Barbara Claypole White
The Art of Keeping Secrets   Rachael Johns


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September 23, 2016

Echoes of Family. Barbara Claypole White

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Published: Lake Union Publishing
Date: 27th September 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages:397
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 stars         Add to Goodreads
Marianne Stokes fled England at seventeen, spiraling into the manic depression that would become her shadow. She left behind secrets, memories, and tragedy: one teen dead, and her first love, Gabriel, badly injured. Three decades later she’s finally found peace in the North Carolina recording studio she runs with her husband, Darius, and her almost-daughter, Jade…until another fatality propels her back across the ocean to confront the long-buried past.

In her picturesque childhood village, the first person she meets is the last person she wants to see again: Gabriel. Now the village vicar, he takes her in without question, and ripples of 'what if' reverberate through both their hearts. As Marianne’s mind unravels, Jade and Darius track her down. Tempers clash when everyone tries to help, but only by finding the courage to face her illness can Marianne heal herself and her offbeat family.
My thoughts banner
I looked forward to reading this book because I have loved the previous books I have read by Barbara Claypole White. And it did not disappoint! At first I was a little disoriented as I started to read. We meet Marianne - a woman who has to cope with a manic depressive illness. At the beginning of the story she is about to go into a full blown episode of mania. 

Marianne is a successful woman and a courageous one. Yet she has carried along with her a past that haunts her, and now is the time for her to confront it. She seems larger than life, very emotional - a little crazy! But she owns it. 

Darius her husband loves and supports Marianne, he is a passionate lover, a jealous one. And one who intends to not repeat any past mistakes - to be the kind of person Marianne needs. He is a little larger than life too.

Jade is the young woman Marianne 'adopted' when Jade was fifteen and has supported and loved ever since as her daughter. Jade too has her past, she is tough, hard working and totally delightful.

Gabriel is the vicar in a local parish in England. He and Marianne have a shared past and were friends for years. His careful life is totally disrupted when Marianne, Darius and Jade burst upon his quiet rectory life. On the surface Gabriel is controlled, the perfect vicar. But underneath there is turmoil. 

The story is told from the point of view of these main characters and I loved it all. I never disliked going from one to the other. It was perfect. All the characters are imperfect and I loved being with them as they journeyed, and I very reluctantly left them when they parted ways with me.

This is a story of family, of the burdens some carry from their past, of living with a mental illness. And that from the point of view of the person with the mental illness and those who love and support them and angst for them. It gave me insight and enabled me understand and open my heart to those who have the burden of such illness.
   keeper shelf< page turner well written book club worthy



September 21, 2016

The Art of Keeping Secrets. Rachael Johns

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Published: HQN Mira.
Date: 19th September
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 464
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Rating:
4.5 Stars

Add to Goodreads
They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.


My thoughts banner
Racheal Johns has written an engaging and thought provoking book about three friends and the secrets they have unshared. They are really very involved in each others lives, yet they don't know everything that is going  on for each of them - yet. 

Three women - Felicity married to Seb, with two children, Zoe about to be married and  a seventeen year old son.  Seb is a loving attentive husband, the other two women Emma and Neve somewhat envy the happy married life. But what they don't know is that something is going down to change the relationship Felicity and Seb have. In spite of the love between them, it may not be enough.

Emma is a divorced women coping with three teenage children and an ex husband and his young wife that has replaced her. Max gives the children everything, and Emma struggles to work and pay the way of herself and the children with little support from the ex. And what is worse the stress is getting to her and headaches are plaguing every step she takes. 

Neve, has one son - Will. She has brought Will up alone, and now he wants to know who is father is. The trouble is she has told Will his father did not want him, however now she is faced with having to face up to the man she has never told that he has a son. She is at risk of losing her son when he discovers the truth.

In turn the story focuses on each woman and the struggles she faces. However they are all very much there for each other, in spite of some differences of opinions.  And eventually secrets will out.  And when it is tough going they are there for each other. The theme of friendship is strong. 

Each woman must find her way forward for her, while friends are there for you, in the end each must take those brave steps on their own. While I don't want to give the plot away, other than to say its very on point, I'll just say that I was so delighted to see Felicity finally take the heartbreaking step that would ensure she stay true to herself.

Kudos to Rachael Johns for this book, exploring a topic that has only recently come to the fore a lot more.  Not telling what though, that would be to spoil the finding out.


September 19, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 19th September

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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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Well another week of reading and my last week was a good one and I am anticipating another one! I have been busy sewing too, I decided about a week ago to make a quilt for one of my sisters who is having a birthday next Monday, so scrambling a bit to get it done, even though it is only a small lap quilt. I had a knitting night out with friends as well, we are knitting another nativity set to raffle at a fund raising event at the school we used to teach at. I only opted to knit the sheep though this time!

I can hardly believe it but we go into daylight saving next weekend here in NZ. So lighter evenings coming up as Spring gets underway. We've had heaps of rain so in a way I guess that's good!  Made me lazy though about getting out for walks.

As I made room in my reading schedule this week for a book I'd bought recently I was enlightened by an author I like to follow ( Barbara Claypole White) on Facebook. She commented that she was delighted to be able to pick up a book of her own choice as she was all up to date with reading books that she was reading to write and author recommendation for. In my innocence I never thought of authors being tied by review books as we book bloggers often find ourselves.                     

What I read last week:

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What I am reading at present:

From my recently bought list I have managed to fit in Susan Elizabeth Phillips latest. Always an auto buy for me.
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And still listening to Delusions in Death by J. D. Robb

Up next:

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Posts from the last week:

Finding Libble   Deanna Lynn Sletten
Apprentice in Death   J. D. Robb
Always a Cowboy   Linda Lael Miller

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September 18, 2016

Finding Libbie. Deanna Lynn Sletten

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Published: Lake Union
Date: September 6th 2016
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 331
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Publisher/Author via NetGalley
Rating:
3.5 stars          Add to Goodreads
Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.

In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.

Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?

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While Finding Libbie starts in the present day, it soon moves make to the 1960's, to that time of the Vietnam war, when women mostly still stayed at home and didn't go to work. When some were bored and fell prey to drugs and alcohol. 

Libbie comes from one of the most wealthy families in the town. Her family or at least her mother places her value on wealth to measure worth. Her sister was someone I really disliked, she was a real stirrer of the pot. Libbie's dad was good, if somewhat indulgent and with the penchant to look for a life of turning a blind eye to what was going on in his home.

Jack was a hard working young man, in love with Libbie but as their life progressed he could see all was not right with Libbie. (They married so young - as  many did in those days.) So when Jack's daughter discovers that he was married before the marriage to her own mother she is very curious as to what happened to Libbie. As the reader I was too, what did she do in the intervening years? How did this fragile, anxious but sweet young woman fare?

It is Emily - Jack's daughter who when she learns of Libbie in her father's life spends time searching for her.  It is a time for her too to re-evaluate how her own life is panning out and whether  the man she is with, is right for her.

The story comes eventually to a heartwarming and moving conclusion. I was amused at how well all the threads of the story were detailed out in the epilogue. It is rare that that happens!

The story examines mental illness and the lack of understanding in the past that led to much suffering. It is a story of second chances and growing into a place of contentment and self fulfilment.

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