Snow Angel by Kate Angell

Overview

Title: Snow Angel
Author: Kate Angell
In: Unwrapped (Erin McCarthy, Donna Kauffman & Kate Angell)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novella
Year: 2011

Thoughts

Considering this novella started with a “three years ago” prologue, I knew this was going to be a reunion story of some kind. And I knew that it was going to be incredibly cute and adorable. Because these stories always are. And it was in a collection with two other completely adorable Christmas romance novellas. But I was kind of surprised by just how cute this story was.

I’m not sure why, but there is something that is just ridiculously cute about snow. And Christmas. And snow when you’re inside by the fire and candlelight… having such a gorgeous backdrop to this novella heightened the romance of the moment. And, it rounded out the Unwrapped collection beautifully. Snow Angel was a very sweet and classically romantic story that left me smiling and feeling all warm and gooey inside.

Allied and Aiden are a fantastic couple. They’re both so damn sweet and accepting of each other. And I like that there is a bit of build up to getting to know one another. The instant attraction is there, but it’s the more they get to know each other, the more they fall for each other.

<- Santa in a KiltUnwrapped ->

Image source: Amazon

Shirley From a Small Place by Alexia Arthurs

Overview
How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Title: Shirley from a Small Place
Author: Alexia Arthurs
In: How to Love a Jamaican (Alexia Arthurs)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2018

Thoughts

Stories featuring fame and the famous seem to  e finding themselves ra on my shelves quite a bit at the moment. I’m not sure if I’m just noticing it, or they are genuinely more common in my selections right now, but it’s definitely interesting. Which brings me to this review. For all of the fame featured tales, this is the only one that deals with immigrants and fame, the ways that the disjunct between a home country is so vast and sometimes difficult to connect.

Shirley’s tale is kind of sad, and very intense. There’s a whole facet of aspects to her life that make you sad. But then there’s a slew of moments that you feel she has bought upon herself. It’s kind of tragic and definitely hurt my heart a little bit.

Ultimately though, this story is about the decision to be happy. Which, realistically, is a decision. You can’t control what life throws your way. But you can control how you view it and how you decide to feel about things.

<- We Eat Our DaughtersHow to Love a Jamaican ->

Image source: Goodreads

Serenity by Brad Parks

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Serenity
Author: Brad Parks
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I enjoyed the way in which the wisdom prayer was used to create the name of this short story. It’s definitely Italy a prayer that has come up a few times in my life over the years. I know in this context, it’s used in relation to AA. But still, it was a nice little moment.

This story is kind of horrible in places. Which is unsurprising because it features a murder. But I was weirdly happy about the fact that the lead in this story didn’t have a drink. So re,  he murdered someone and is about to dispose of the body and (theoretically) get away with murder. But he didn’t give up on his AA and have a drink.

You kind of gues from the beginning that Billy is dead. Yet, it isn’t till the end that you get that confirmation. And I kind of needed that. Mostly to make sure I wasn’t insane in my understandings. Also, there’s a great, somewhat graphic description of just how the man is killed.

<- The Great PlainsChatter ->

Image source: Amazon

Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman

Overview

Title: Survival Lessons
Author: Alice Hoffman
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Memoirs, Self help
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2013

Thoughts

This wasn’t quite the style and set up that I was expecting. I think I was expecting a much more prose style novel. Instead, this read a little like a collection of advice doled out. There isn’t really a flow of narrative and not much in the actual experience of the author. Rather, it was what she wishes people had said to her.

I would have enjoyed a little bit more biography and context to Hoffman’s experiences surviving breastfeeding cancer. I loved the “lessons” that she imparted. They were wise and honest, but also heartfelt with complete focus on happiness, love and living. I just wanted to know more about how she arrived at these realisations, those epiphany moments that filled her life.

All in all, this was a very inspiring book. It was a reminder that life is short and that you need to figure out what it is that makes you happy. It’s obvious that Hoffman has a focus on family and friends, which I share, so I found her advice sage and wise. Maybe nothing revolutionary and new, but a good reminder to stop and take stock of your life and priorities once in a while.

This is definitely worth a read. And will be a great reminder to live life to the fullest. I know that’s what I was reminded of when reading this, and my takeaway message.

<- The Story SistersThe Third Angel ->

Image source: Goodreads

Radio Okapi Kindu by Jennifer Bakody

Overview

Title: Radio Okapi Kindu
Author: Jennifer Bakody
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Africa, Memoirs, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

I wanted to love this story a whole lot more than I did. I mean, I am completely in love with Africa and fascinated by the politics. I have been since long before I actually got to travel to that amazing continent. Thus, the idea of a memoir that recounts working for the UN in the Congo sounded amazing. And it was GOOD. But not amazing.

I think one of the aspects of this story that was so difficult was the idea that this radio station was helpful to so many, many, many people. But after reading this, I honestly have no idea HOW. A lot of the information that might exist helped to understand just how a radio station was helpful was assumed knowledge. I might love Africa, but I know very little about the politics as a whole, let alone the specifics of the Congo.

I did enjoy the background on each of Bakody’s team and the tale of their journey to Radio Okapi Kindu. Again, it was hard to gain context because there was no timeline, and I would’ve liked to slot their experiences with the others in a bit more order. But this may just be how my brain processes information and memoirs.

All in all, I did enjoy reading this, I just didn’t love it. It’s not a tale I’m going to overstate and breathlessly recite to my friends. But it’s also not one that I will suggest they NOT read. Mostly for me, this was pretty ambivalent writing.

<- Confessions of a School NurseWorking Class Boy ->

Image source: Goodreads

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

Overview

Title: Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship by Robert Kurson
Author: Robert Kurson
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: History, Memoirs, Pirates
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2015

Thoughts

I’ve had a bit of a thing about pirates since I saw Pirates of the Caribbean. I mean, who wouldn’t after Captain Jack Sparrow? There’s also something incredibly fun about the idea of the Caribbean (definitely on my bucket list to visit). Thus, reading a real life tale of pirates and the modern day race to find them? Yeah, I was pretty much sold on this from the beginning. And, luckily for me, Kurson is able to write about this in such a fantastic way that I honestly couldn’t put this book down.

Kurson is able to tell a number of stories throughout this memoir. Firstly, there’s the tale of John Bannister, the pirate who took on the Royal Navy and won. He’s the pirate that the John’s of the future are searching for (there’s a few John’s in this story). Kurson manages to tell his story and make you want to find his ship, the Golden Fleece, just as much as everyone else in this tale.

Then there’s the modern John’s. Both men are pioneers in the diving and salvage business. Their stories alone would make a good read I must admit. Both men went through som incredible experiences and have the stubbornness to pursue the holy grail of ocean treasure hunters. They’re definitely fairly stubborn and a lot admirable. Another set of stories of men who are determined and desire their freedom (which is ultimately what Bannister was hunting for).

Alongside these many stories of incredible men, there’s the journey to try and find (and identify) a pirate ship. I knew next to nothing about real life pirates before reading this novel. And now, I feel sk damn educated. Everything I saw a family member throughout reading this, I word vomited all over them, I was just so keen to share everything that I learnt while reading this. Definitely one I am keeping on my shelves.

<- Twas the Nightshift Before ChristmasSmoky the Brave ->

Image source: Wikipedia

On Shelf by Alexia Arthurs

Overview
How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Title: On Shelf
Author: Alexia Arthurs
In: How to Love a Jamaican (Alexia Arthurs)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Picador
Year: 2018

Thoughts

This Alexia Arthurs short story focuses on a marriage of convenience. And not the cute ones that result in finding happily ever after. Rather, it’s what I’m sure is far more common, and marriage that is about companionship and convenience. Not one that is about passion.

I like that although this is a marriage of comfort, it’s ultimately about the children. The narrator’s voice is focused on that beautiful positive and outcome. It makes sense and left me with a bit of a smile on my face at the end of the day.

I enjoyed this different perspective into marriage. It’s not one I often come across in my reading. It also fascinates me the idea of what is it that makes someone settle for less than their ideal.

<- How to Love a JamaicanWe Eat Our Daughters ->

Image source: Goodreads

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Overview

Title: Jane Eyre
Author: Charlotte Bronte
Series: Word Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Classics
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 1847

Thoughts

I really, really wanted to like this. I mean, I know that it’s one of those classics that a lot of people love. But, alas, it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe there is something about little bit too dark about the Bronte sisters for me… I’m not sure. Maybe because I keep hearing that their work is a romance. And, honestly, it’s early not.

I think one of the things that put me on the back foot was the total acceptance of the abuse that the lead character was experiencing from the very get go. I understand that that’s totally normal for the time, but it doesn’t mean that I was comfortable reading about it. And, honestly, I had to just skim through this after that became so damn obvious. There’s enough darkness in the world, I don’t want to read about it too much.

My overall conclusion after reading this is that I probably need to just stop trying with the Bronte sisters. I think Jane eyre is supposed to be the gentlest of them, and I still couldn’t stomach it…

<- The Romantic PoetsWuthering Heights ->

Image source: Abebooks

Island of the Lost by Joan Druett

Overview

Title: Island of the Lost
Author: Joan Druett
Rating Out of 5: 2 (Managed to read it… just)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, History, Oceans
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2007

Thoughts

This was an incredibly well researched book. It was even well written, a little dry, but not overbearingly so. It stated the facts and gave you a bit of a personality insight into each of the key players without taking too many liberties.

This book really wasn’t my thing. Partly because although it was great that it didn’t take liberties, I actually wanted a little more drama to the story. There was nothing to inspire me to keep reading.

And then there’s the fact that I actually have zero interest in maritime history. So, maybe not the best book for me to try and read in hindsight, but still 1uite interesting.

<- The Happiest RefugeeZlata’s Diary ->

Image source: Booktopia

Chemotherapy by Kat Richardson

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Chemotherapy
Author: Kat Richardson
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012

Thoughts

This short story had a completely unexpected turn. It was quite dark and filled with death and crime (expected), but with a much, much, much darker ending than I expected. Like, actually kind of horrifying. Although that could just be because it hit some of my sensitive points.

The little girl in this is just so damn adorable. But honestly, all I could think about when I finished this was how scared the child is going to be. It was totally heartbreaking. There was so much emotional connection in this story, and it was very difficult to not feel kind of sad at her story.

I honestly thought that this story was about a murder and would be a bit if a whodunit. But, as mentioned earlier, it was filled with unexpected twists and turns. So, ultimately it was about something entirely different. And I just loved that fact…

<- ChatterThe End is Never Pretty ->

Image source: Amazon