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

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.

 

Books

The Murderess – Jennifer Wells

1931 – Kate witnesses her mother, Millicent push a woman in front of a train. Kate is fifteen. She doesn’t know who the woman was or why her mother did it.

1940 – Kate’s mother will possibly be out on parole within a year. She was spared her life despite taking another’s.

Kate has to face up to what her mother has done.

On the ninth anniversary of the tragic events, Kate sees a man on the station holding flowers, her memory is jogged and she is determined to find out the truth behind the event which has shaped her life, that of her father and family ever since.

The book is told from the point of view of both mother and daughter. Kate’s tale is told during the 1940 and Millicent’s in 1915 and up to the conclusion of events on that tragic day in 1931. Two women who are caught in world wars with very different experiences and lives but bound by the fact that they are mother and daughter.

It took awhile for me to get into the two ‘voices’ of the story initially but once I had found them, I let myself be swept along by the story. As I read there is one more story to tell that of the woman who was sadly pushed in front of the train. What part did she play and was I going to get her side of the story.

I was not expecting what I got from this book. Initially I thought it was going to be of the wartime saga variety which I love to read but this was much richer and deeper and had more realism. Starting the book with someone being pushed in front of a train is certainly going to get your attention.

As I read the pieces all started to come together, but whilst some may say it was obvious what was going to happen, I let it all unfold as I read and took each twist as it came and when I reached the end of the book – I was shocked. Inevitable perhaps but my experience of historical sagas has never been like this book – and I am hooked.

I am going to go and read this authors first novel, she clearly has the storytelling gene and it encompasses history within a saga setting and a bit of crime – a perfect combination for me.

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

The Murderess is out now. 

 

 

 

Books

December Roundup

There we go then – December done and dusted with (well depending on when you are reading this of course).

It is time to reflect back on Decembers reading and see where it took me – into Christmas quite obviously!

I finished the lovely Canal Boat story I started earlier in the year with Cressida McLaughlin – The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas: Starboard Home. 

I also caught up on another author I read this year with her Christmas story Karen Clarke – The Beachside Christmas which was the best out of the trilogy she has written.

My favourite Christmas book was Heidi Swain – Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair I have loved all the books that I have read so far from this author and delight in the fact that I have two more to catch up on into the new year. This really is a Christmas feel good novel to lose yourself in completely. I so wanted to be apart of it.

I fell into the trap again of picking up what I thought was a short story only to find it was part one of four books. Grrr! Trouble is I fell for the cover of Holly Hepburn – Snowy Nights at Castle Court and didn’t pay much attention to anything else. Never mind, I have preordered the next three and only have myself to blame. Although I did resist another part one on netgalley. Serves me right for being smug about it!

I came across Samantha Silva – Mr Dickens and his Carol on The Book Trail blog and it sounded an interesting read – a bargain on Amazon for 99p (still is as of this post) and if you are a fan of Dickens this makes for an interesting concept about how the story of A Christmas Carol came to be. I wish I had discovered it earlier in the month as I would have gone ahead and reread the said book. It always seems strange reading it at any other time of the year!

With all this ‘nice’ christmas feeling books – i needed something to counteract it all and so I had been lent Paula Hawkins – Into the Water. Her second novel after the momentous Girl on a Train and for me the book was a bit of a let down, second books can either be amazing or just meh. For me it was the latter option, still good but not quite so gripping.

Back to some saga, to some well trodden path and who better to fill that spot than Rosie Goodwin – The Maid’s Courage. I thoroughly enjoyed it, some say it follows the same old formula but hey if it works why try and change it when it means you can escape real life for a few hundred pages.

And so to the books of 2018 – I have had a little head start by reading Trisha Ashley – A Good Heart is Hard to Find, one of her earlier works which has been tweaked and renamed. More about that in 2018.

I end the year (and slightly cheating because I am not sure if I will actually finish it before 23:59) reading Carole Matthews  – A Million Love Songs. A discover only in the last couple of years and whilst I should go back and read some of her earlier work I am too busy reading her recent stuff – another one to look out for in 2018.

Where will next years reading take me? Where will it take you?

 

 

Books

The Beachside Christmas – Karen Clarke

This is the final part of the Beachside Trilogy and it started with a sweet ship went over to a flower stall and now we are in the middle of Christmas and the debate rages about who has the best Christmas lights and who should turn them on in the town of Shipley.

Enter Lily Ambrose, who buys a house in Shipley because she remembers the lovely summer holidays she had there when she was a child. Buying it and moving in winter in the run up to Christmas might not be the best of moves, but Lily is leaving everything behind.

When she arrives she is thrown into the Christmas lights display and rashly makes a promise that she can get a celebrity to turn on the lights, thanks to her contacts from her past.

Trouble is the celebrity is not who or what everyone is expecting. Ollie is a failed reality TV star with a chip on both shoulders and a man not afraid to hurt anyone when it comes to giving an opinion.

He needs to reinvent himself after some rather untimely PR disasters and so he agrees to turn on the lights, but he has other ideas at the same time.

Bringing Craig his long time friend and a cameraman with him to boot, it looks like the Shipley residents and the turning on of the lights is going to be the next reality show and it seems that Lily will be at the centre of it all.

Trouble is the residents have other ideas and Lily simply wants to fit in and write her novel.

This is a really lovely read and I have to confess for me the best of the three novels in this trilogy. You do not have to have read the previous two, they all work as standalone but of course some characters crossover, not so much that you cannot enjoy each book individually.

The friendships are all portrayed as genuine, the characters believable even if their actions might be unbelievably crass, you felt you part of the story. Of course there is romance, but what will become of Lily and the choices she makes? Well you will have to read the book to find out!

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

The Beachside Christmas is out now.