Books

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – Sophie Green

In this book I was transported to Australia, to the Northern Territory, to the end of the Seventies and the early Eighties where I got to meet a group of women who knew little of each other initially but grew from a small book club to a community to a close-knit family.

Sybil lives out on Fairvale Station, she moved their from Sydney to be with her husband and subsequently has two sons Lachlan who has chosen a very different path in life and Ben who finds Fairvale the place he wants to be.

Kate is Ben’s wife and thousands of miles away from her home in London. She is struggling to deal with defining moments of the wet and dry season.

Della is also thousands of miles away from her Texan home but the station and the land whilst similar to that of her ranch at home gives her more opportunities. She meets Stan and she thinks she may have found what she has been running away from.

Sallyanne is struggling, three children, a drunken husband and isolation from everything all she has is her dreams and they are slowly being turned into nightmares.

Rita is Sybil’s oldest friend and is a nurse in the Flying Doctors service and lives the furthest from her friend.

These women are brought together by the book club that was started by Sybil for Kate to meet some other people. It was clear that this book was more about their lives and their friendships then it was about the books. Although of course the books they choose to read are important and can give you a further reading list if you needed one. The books gave them a chance to escape their world as any book can do.

All of these women were faced with differing problems and the book dealt with, death, life, abuse, racism, sexism, depression and loneliness without actually having to wave a big flag saying this is what we are dealing with. These are the best books, the ones that deal with issues which are still so relevant today, even though the books setting is around forty years previously. Aimed at women readers there is something within these pages that most women will relate to. And if you perhaps don’t then put yourself in their shoes, int heir lives and think about how you would deal with the events as they play out in the book.

This is a thoughtfully written book, which whilst dealing with emotive subjects does a wonderful job is showing what life is like on a cattle station in Australia, when it takes days to cross the land and muster the cattle, where you can’t pop to the shops when you run out of milk without taking a two-hour drive and when it rains you are trapped with only radio as your means of communication with the outside world. For me fascinating stuff.

I enjoyed this book and would recommend it for anyone wanting a change from perhaps the normal run of the mill commercial women’s fiction – this book has a story to tell in itself.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club is out on the 1 March. 

 

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Books

Coming Soon…….

….. to the blog you are currently reading.

Two books which I have really enjoyed so far this year.

Come back on the 25th February to see the spotlight and then the review of the book.

Then in March we have what some people have been hoping and dreaming about for a while

What have you got coming soon to your blog?

 

Books

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Stuart Turton

How do you stop a murder that’s already happened?

At a gala party thrown by her parents, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed–again. She’s been murdered hundreds of times, and each day, Aiden Bishop is too late to save her. Doomed to repeat the same day over and over, Aiden’s only escape is to solve Evelyn Hardcastle’s murder and conquer the shadows of an enemy he struggles to even comprehend–but nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

This book intrigued me – which is why I chose it. As I started on the adventure I was immediately reminded of the film Groundhog Day where the same day is relived, in the case of Aiden Bishop he is reliving the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle every day but in a different person’s body.

So far so good.

Then I ran into trouble. I was getting confused with who was who, and whilst I have no aversion of reading on my kindle this was one of those times when I wish I had a ‘real’ copy so I flick back to the beginning and get a sense of who these people were.

I persevered because the book is clever, the concept of seeing something happen again and again but in the guise of someone else is intriguing. The twist of being able to stop it to save yourself gives it another added layer.

But I wonder whether this book was simply too clever for me? I think it might have been. It had all the right elements I like in novels, a cast of characters both masters and servants, a big house, set in the past, a mystery, a twist but it whilst it held my attention enough to keep me reading I was left feeling rather flat at the end.

For me this book didn’t work. If you choose it, it might work for you.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is out on the 8 Feb. 

Books · Jottings

January Roundup

Been a funny month, been reading but not had the inclination to blog, then not had the time because I have been knitting and then not had time to knit because I have been working or away. February is more of the same and I cannot wait!

It has been a slow start to the year, especially when I had a week at the beginning to get stuck into some books. But finishing my challenge of 100 in a year seems a long way off at the moment.

Got really into sagas this month and was surprised with Jennifer Wells – The Murderess which had more than the average saga.

I was swept up with Elaine Everest – The Woolworths Girls a book I bought myself last year and wanting to make a dent in actual books thought I would read. Which then led me to read Elaine Everest – Carols at Woolworths so I could continue the tale. The next book is a Christmas one and although I would not normally read such themed books in February it looks like I might have to so I can keep up with all the characters that I have grown to love.

I fell for the latest serialised Holly Hepburn by accident but have read book two now Holly Hepburn – Frosty Mornings at Castle Court now I have started I am going to have to finish!

A book that I wish I had not started and should have not finished was Stuart Turton – The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle the idea of the book sounded great, the delivery of it was clever but it just did nothing for me. I was disappointed with it and with myself for perhaps wasting time on pursuing it to the end.

Sophie Green – The Inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club – this was an interesting book which took me all the way to the outback, to a cattle station, to Australia. It was a strong female character led novel and it had me intrigued about the isolation. It reminded me of another book I have read by Monica McInerney which then reminded me I have one of hers waiting to be read…….

But in the meantime I picked up another saga to read for a blog tour, a new author to me with a cracking good story to tell.

How was your first month of 2018 reading wise?

 

Crafts · Knitting

Knitting Unicorns

There is rather a niche market at the moment for anything to do with Unicorns – the list of unicorn related items to purchase is probably endless. I fell into this trap when I spotted a pattern for said knitted unicorn whilst I was at the Knitting and Stitching show back in October. I think I loved the colours and the wool more than the unicorn.

It was a really quick knit and took shape well and whilst the pattern actually has a tail, I did not include it as it just didn’t look right compared to the rest of it.

Then I foolishly thought I would make another two for Christmas presents, roughly four weeks before the big day! I got the two recipients to choose the colours they wanted – although they had no idea what they were choosing the colours for and off I knitted.

I must have been mad, the four weeks up to Christmas is one of the busiest times at work and adding that sort of pressure onto myself despite the fact that they knit up quickly was perhaps a tad risky. However the last one was knitted, stuffed and stitched together on the 23rd December and they then went on their way to await their new owners. A close friend’s daughter and daughter in law, both unicorn mad.

Luckily they remembered the colours they chose and the unicorns are now being well looked and well-loved. It does bring me such joy that something so simple as a knitted gift can mean more than a flashy one.

And whilst I am still finding bits of fluff off the wool, I have gone and done it to myself again – to knit some socks before the 15th February – luckily I have given myself about six weeks for this as the socks have a pattern and I have never knitted patterned socks before – I am onto sock two – more about that in another post.

For those that are interested in the pattern and wool it was Sirdar Touch Wool and everything about it can be found here.

Books

A Good Heart is Hard to Find – Trisha Ashley

This is one of Trisha Ashley’s earlier novels previously published as Singled Out but given a bit of a brush up and a lovely cover and re-released and it is also one of her books that I have yet to read. (I don’t think there are many left now, apart from the ones that she hasn’t written yet!)

Cass is a horror writer and quite a successful one at that. To keep the money coming in she occasionally dresses up as a vampire to take part in surprising people in a ‘singing telegram’ type of way and spends a lot of time at night in the local graveyard finding her ‘muse’.

It seems that Cass perhaps has it all, apart from one thing – a good heart to love her. She has Max but Max belongs to someone else and is perhaps not all that he seems. Her friend Jason seems to have taken a shine to her, but that might be something to do with her vampire outfit and her parents have disowned her because she as the only dark haired and dark eyed child out of six she clearly must be a throwback to a more evil time.

But whilst taking part in a bit of ghost hunting in an alleged haunted house, Cass falls in a number of ways into Dante’s arms. Trouble is she is not quite sure what happened that night, it is all a bit of a blurr and the only noise she can hear at the moment is that of her ovaries knocking!

Along the way there are plenty of complications, comic situations, jealous wives, bizarrely behaved siblings and a rather dubious diet.

This is a fun escapist read from this author, the horror stuff weaved through, is really bad but it a wonderfully good way and I think perhaps it maybe a reminder that there is so much literature out there is something for everyone whatever your taste.

I don’t think this a true reflection of the work that Trisha Ashley can produce, her later novels are much stronger in plot, setting and characters but if you are looking for some reading which is escapist good fun then this is the book for you.

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

A Good Heart is Hard to Find is published on 25 Jan 2018 in paperback. 

Remember this was previously published as Singled Out

By my reckoning I only have two of her novels previously published that I have not read – Happy Endings and Lord Rayven’s Revenge both also feature authors as their main characters – I can see a themer!

Of course I have yet to get my hands on the new release in March of this year – The House of Hopes and Dreams. 

 

Books

Million Love Songs – Carole Matthews

Whilst I have many of this author’s back catalogue to catch up on, I am always delighted to be able to read her latest novel.

And if you have just broken into a bit of Take That when you read the title, then trust me the book is for you! But even if you are ambivalent over Gary Barlow, et al this is still a wonderful story which tugs at the heart-strings and in fact made me cry!

Ruby is single again, divorced, new job, new place to live and she wants to embrace everything, she does not want to get involved with anyone and certainly not seriously.

Mason Soames is the boss where Ruby works and has a nickname worthy of any lothario. Ruby has been warned but there is something about him, which excites Ruby, which means she throws all caution and reason to the wind. Trouble is he seems to be missing something

Joe Edwards, is Ruby’s initial scuba diving instructor (you have to read the book to see how she manages to get into that situation!) and he is everything that Mason is not, especially as he comes with two teenage children and an ex-wife.

Charlie is Ruby’s friend and she is determined to make sure that Ruby makes the right choices for her future and that if all else fails there is always Gary Barlow to fall back on. The dream is always best, the reality no doubt would be disappointing.

Looking back now I have finished the book, a lot is packed into Ruby’s life in these pages. She is trying to make her way as a new woman and she tries many things. Some not necessarily are her thing, but she embraces most of them with enthusiasm even if they are not to be repeated. Through all her ups and downs she relies on Charlie as her friend and Carole Matthews has a way of showing wonderfully strong female friendships within her novels.

Of course there is plenty of romance thrown in along with the laughs but as I approached the end of the book which I did not want to end, I was worried about Ruby and the choice she was going to make. I had a little cry at the one she did make, but I am not telling you if that was tears of joy or sorrow, you will have to read the book yourself to see. Whether she made the right one, no one knows as the characters can only live on in our imaginations unless the author decides to pick them up again.

A great book, which might have overdone the Take That/Gary Barlow obsession a bit too far for my liking, but was probably well researched and there is no doubt many fans out there who experience what Carole Matthews was showing us. Carole has an ability to tap into the moment, the time, the world which we see around us and present it in a such a lovely way, you can forget all the bad things out there as you lose yourself in this book.

I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Million Love Songs is out now in Hardback/Kindle and in paperback in March.