Title: Nothing Will Hurt You Author: David Morrell In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow) Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Family, Horror Dates read: 30th June 2021 Pace: Slow, Medium, Fast Format: Short story Publisher: Tachyon Year: 2013 5th sentence, 74th page: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
Parents are supposed to be able to protect their children. But what happens when they fail?
To start with I had some pretty amazing Edward Scissorhand vibes. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe there’s a reference I picked up subconsciously from my long ago watching of the movie. And honestly, I thought that reference was dark enough…
It got darker. It got more disturbing and I felt quite uncomfortable by the time I’d finished this short story. Which, I suppose makes sense for the fact that it’s in the Hauntings collection. It also left you with a but of a “haunting” feeling when you turned that final page…
I love the idea that a father will do anything to protect his daughter. I also loved how this story took that protective instinct WAY too far. Combined with the haunting by the daughter, a quest for revenge and just the general creepiness of this story… well, I’m still tingling.
Cameron Quinn is coming home to say good-bye to the only father he ever loved. And he’ll have to put his fast-paced life on hold to care for the last boy Ray Quinn hoped to save…
I absolutely adored this story. It was one of those gorgeous, heart felt tales that made you just… smile. And I also love that although the couple gets together at the end… there is still that feeling of unfinished business that promises a next, wonderful novel in the series. It provides a great common thread beyond brotherhood and makes me itch to go out and buy the next book.
The fact that this story starts with a death and some tragedy is pretty harsh. But, it works beautifully as a story starter. Plus, how else do you get four brothers back together to start a series? The fact that one of these brothers is new to the clan… Well, it didn’t make me want to get to know Seth any less. He’s just as adorable and wonderful as Cam, Philip and Ethan.
I love that Anna is a social worker. It’s a role kind of similar to my own, with even more heartbreaking scenarios. And, honestly, it’s something I could see myself moving into I the future. The fact that Roberts doesn’t make it into a dreamy and hopeful job all the time. But is honest about the realities of that kind of work? It made Anna a far more appealing character and my first foray into the writing of Nora Roberts seriously enjoyable.
This might be a contemporary romance, but I loved the family aspect to the whole story. It reminds you that family can be who you choose, and who stands by you. And, honestly, I found the story of the four brothers to be an even bigger love story than that of Cam and Anna.
Title: The Switch Author: Beth O’Leary Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Contemporary, Contemporary romance, Family Dates read: 14th – 25th April 2021 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Quercus Year: 2020 5th sentence, 74th page: Had she given up?
LEENA IS TOO YOUNG TO FEEL STUCK EILEEN IS TOO OLD TO START OVER IT’S TIME FOR THE SWITCH…
After blowing a big presentation at work, Leena takes a two-month sabbatical and escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… A life swap seems the perfect solution.
But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the distractingly handsome local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. In London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?
There are just so many dang levels of adorable throughout this book. It is incredibly sweet and fun. Very, very cute and such a delight to read. It was the perfect book to read while I was taking a bit of a weekend break from reality. Something about this granddaughter-daughter duo, the sleepy little English village and the feeling of love in the air made me seriously happy and content. It was most definitely an amazing book, and I’m glad that it was suggested for the Reading Women Challenge.
This novel might be a romance, but it is also a great story about strong women and family. The three generations in this family are tied together, even when they feel like they’re falling apart. It creates a wonderful atmosphere and story. One that made me want to ring up my own mother and just give her a verbal hug through the phone. It’s a fantastic story which reminds you that even in the darkest moments, good family (whether it’s the one you are born into or choose) are there for you.
I found that for me, the focus of the story was on the two Eileens. In particular, their journey to figure out who they are in their altered realities. It’s such a beautifully powerful journey. One that reminded me (again, at a good point), that sometimes the path we think we should be on isn’t necessarily the right one. And that it’s okay to take a major detour and find a new destination. All (hopefully) with the support of a kick ass grandmother…
Hank is such a great character… I’m a sucker for any story which features a dog, so a rambunctious and excitable Lab… that’s going to be my happy place. The fact that his owner is by all accounts dreamy and hard to forget… yum…
Then there is Eileen and Anthony. I love their arguments and the ways that they constantly rib one another. Again, it is just an adorable and fun relationship to top off all of the other adorable and fun relationships in this novel… unforgettable and wonderful.
Title: The French Gift Author: Kirsty Manning Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Family, Historical fiction, Strong women Dates read: 23rd – 30th March 2021 Pace: Medium Format: ARC, Novel Publisher: Allen & Unwin Year: 2021 5th sentence, 74th page: Line your stomach before you meet those two!
A forgotten manuscript that threatens to unravel the past…
Fresnes Prison, 1940: Former maid at a luxury villa on the Riviera, Margot Bisset, finds herself in a prison cell with writer and French Resistance fighter, Josephine Murant. Together, they are trasnferred to a work camp in Germany for four years, where the secrets they share will bind them for generations to come.
Contemporary Paris: Evie Black lives in paris with her teenage son Hugo above her botanical bookshop, La Maison Rustique. Life would be so sweet if only Evie were not mourning the great love of her life.
When a letter arrives regarding the legacy of her husband’s great-aunt, Josephine Murant, Evie clutches at an opportunity to spend one last magical summer with her son. They travel together to Josephine’s house, now theirs, on the Cote d’Azur. Here, Evie unravels the official story of this famous novelist, and the truth of a murder a lifetime ago.
The redemptive beauty of nature and the promise of new love offer light at the end of the tunnel in this stirring novel delving into Europe’s past.
I received this ARC from Allen & Unwin in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Normally I struggle a little bit to get through any historical fiction books. I have plenty and till enjoy them all… but I do tend to find that they are a little bit more difficult to get through for me than some of the other genres that fill my shelves. Maybe because I’m constantly questioning what’s fact and what’s fiction. And then getting distracted by the idea of doing more research…
Again, I loved the flickering between timelines and points of view normally tend to confuse and overwhelm me. But it wasn’t the case in this story. I loved flickering between Josephine Murant and Evie. Their lives running in a parallel line with completely different battles being fought. You actually discover Josephine’s history as Evie does, which further draws you into the amazing storyline. The fact that it’s a story with two strong women as the leads… that just makes it all that much better!
I really and seriously did not see the twist at the end of this story – it was completely unexpected and seriously intense. I love when a twist comes out of nowhere and just completely smacks into you. It’s what makes me want to read another book by the same author. It is just so difficult to find surprising twists and turns!
This story is overall a tale of strong women, hope and survival. It is about finding one’s own strength, but still leaning on those you love and who love you. Whether it is a best friend, a potential new love or the child you feel pulling away from you… each and every relationship in this story is powerful. And underneath it all, there is just that amazing sense of hope that you can’t help but grin about.
I will most certainly be reading this ARC again. And again. And probably again. Not only was it an amazing journey, but I loved the strength of the women and the journey that Manningmanages to take you on. Most certainly a book that will sit proudly upon my shelves.
Title: Otherhood Author: William Sutcliffe Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!) My Bookshelves:Book to Film, Contemporary, Family Dates read: 5th – 22nd January 2021 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Bloomsbury Year: 2008 5th sentence, 74th page: He didn’t like the way she’d been able to say these things without allowing him any response.
First published as Whatever Makes You Happy, the hilarious and touching novel about mothers and their adult sons that’s now a Netflix original movie starring Felicity Huffman, Angela Bassett and Patricia Arquette.
Three sons. Three mums. One week.
Matt, Daniel and Paul were childhood friends. Now in their thirties, they’ve lost touch and have only one thing in common: their mothers. Little do they know that, having spent a cardless Mother’s Day discussing how their emotionally dysfunctional offspring should be settling down, Carol, Gillian and Helen have decided to pay their wayward sons a visit. On the same day, they turn up on their sons’ doorsteps, uninvited and unannounced. Their plan is to re-establish the mother-son bond by moving in for one week. Just a week. Surely that’s not a lot to ask…
I love the movie on Netflix that is based on this book. It’s a great look at women’s relationships, motherhood and the relationships that you grow up with. I still enjoyed this book. But it wasn’t quite as wonderfully thought out and created as the movie. I just felt like Sutcliffe tried really hard to write wonderful mother characters, but mostly it came off as someone who doesn’t necessarily want his mother around either.
Overall, I did enjoy this story. But, honestly, I think that the movie is what helped bump up my star rating for this. Although I thought this novel was about the experiences of motherhood (or otherhood as it gets known), it felt more like grown men not loving the interactions and nagging of their mothers. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes find my own mother a chore (who doesn’t), but I also examine why and don’t think that it’s a huge imposition to have her around. This whole novel kind of read as though that’s what mothers are when you are older – a bit of a pain and a bit of an imposition.
This was a fun novel. But I really don’t know what to write about it. I think that the point of view of the mother would have been better written by someone who has experienced motherhood. I found it kind of hard to connect with the sons because of their extreme dismissiveness and the callous way in which they seemed to treat their mothers. Whilst I enjoyed the storylines while reading the tale, I found it incredibly difficult to feel that connection that I was expecting. Particularly when I loved the movie so much…
Title: The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl: Adventures in Life and Love in the Heart of Dixie Author: Jaime Primak Sullivan Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Family, Humour, Memoirs Dates read: 19th – 20th December 2020 Pace: Slow Format: Novel Publisher: Touchstone Year: 2016 5th sentence, 74th page: I didn’t have the life energy to waste on games.
Jersey-bred, tough-as-nails Hollywood publicist Jaime Primak Sullivan has been crossing the line all her life. She isn’t afraid to say what everyone is thinking when it comes to love, sex, friendship, and many other topics that are all too often sugarcoated in well-mannered company. But when a meet-cute scene right out of a Nora Ephron movie upends her life, Jaime soon finds herself an unlikely transplant in an upscale suburb of Birmingham, Alabama – a reluctant “knish out of water” smack-dab in the Deep South, starting a life with her new husband, the perfect southern gentleman.
Jaime enters the heart of Dixie with her fists up, but eventually learns she must let her guard down. As she struggles to adapt to her new world, she befriends a group of southern belles, and the very women she thought her Jersey personality was most likely to shock and repel become her most surprising allies. Jaime soon discovers that while southern belles may have a secret code of behaviour northern girls don’t always understand, when it comes down to helping a fellow woman, no one is more thoughtful, more generous, and kinder than a belle.
In The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl, Jaime shares her hard-won lessons on southern etiquette, deep-fried foods, college football, the peculiar methods of southern dating – and all the unexpected homework a girl receives when she crosses the line… and decides to stay.
This was one of those memoirs that is completely, totally and utterly considered to be “laugh out loud”. I giggled and chortled my way through this book in total and utter joy. This is one of those stories that I will pick up again and again. There is something light and joyous about the whole storyline that really got to me and made me imagine every single moment Sullivandescribes with perfect vividity.
The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl is a fairly typical fish-out-of-water story. The fact that it’s all true just makes it all that much more intriguing. I mean, many fish-out-of-water stories are based in fact, but this story has that extra ring of truth to it. Plus, you can just picture this big-haired, lough-mouthed jersey girl just blundering her way through the south. There is just a great sense of reality to this story.
I felt like this story was really written in two parts. And was pretty much two love stories. The first was Sullivan’s love story to her husband. I found the story of his courting and their relationship to be fascinating. I loved the slow-going, beautiful relationship that they shared. And the way that they are both able to negotiate their past hurts to finally come up with a new reality that leaves them both happy and feeling… well, complete, to as much of a degree as that ever happens.
The second love story though, is my favourite. It is about Sullivan’s belles. Her gorgeous girlfriends who have helped her negotiate the morals, intricacies and social norms of the belles. Although Michael was a great story, I loved the girlfriends even more. It’s an acknowledgement of the power of women and the ways in which we need them in our lives. It’s a bit of a love ballad to the south as well, but mostly it’s to the importance and power of having good women on your side.
Title: The Bad Mothers’ Book Club Author: Keris Stainton Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect) My Bookshelves:Chic lit, Contemporary, Family, Humour Dates read: 15th – 16th December 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Novel Publisher: Trapeze Year: 2019 5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Good job I had my head torch.’
Since moving to the seaside after her husband’s career change, Emma Chance’s life consists of the following: long walks on the beach (with the dog), early nights (with the kids) and Netflix (no chill).
Bored and lonely, when Emma is cordially invited to the exclusive school-mums’ book club, hosted by Head of PTA and footballer’s wife, Jools Jackson, she thinks her luck may finally be about to change. She soon realises she may have made a grave mistake when she realises it’s all about books, and less about wine and gossip – but it’s always better to stick things out, isn’t it?
After a few months and a few awkward moments involving a red wine on white carpet accident and a swear-word incident involving Jools’s daughter, Emma is ungraciously kicked out of the book club. Exhausted, she decides it’s about time she fights back against the shame and humiliation. Enlisting the help of some similar-thinking mums, Emma sets up her own book club – no cleaners, polite conversation or reading required: this is the Bad Mothers’ Book Club.
A frank, irreverent and laugh-out-loud read for grown-ups.
I absolutely adored this novel. Far more than I had anticipated to be honest. After all, I thought it was just an average chic lit novel. Instead, it was incredibly hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable. And, as someone who has a few friends with babies on the way… I can imagine this form of motherhood all too well.
I love that this novel deals with motherhood in a very humorous and light manner. It didn’t try and pass motherhood off as something that suddenly turns people into saints. In fact, most of the anecdotes featured women who were in way over their heads and just trying to make sure the kid survives. I can guarantee that if I ever become a mother… this is what I’m going to be like. No angelic, in control adventures for me.
Emma is exactly the kind of heroine that I needed. I was in a bit of a reading slump when I picked up The Bad Mothers’ Book Club and really just needed something that was cheerful and a little chaotic. Which is exactly what Emma is. She’s constantly positive and completely chaotic throughout this entire story. I love how she seems to bumble from one social faux pas to another. Completely derailing herself along the way.
This is a great story about family and motherhood. About being a fish out of water and finding a place to belong. It’s humorous and light, with enough sass throughout to keep me grinning like an idiot. I will definitely be adding some more Stainton books to my wish list after this seriously enjoyable read…
Patrick has always dreamed about he home land. And been incredibly self-conscious about his height. Now he finally gets to go “home”. What he finds is nothing like what he expected.
I have always wanted to find out more about my ancestors. But I can’t say that I’ve ever had wonderful, powerful imaginations about them. After all, I’m probably from farm folk or some such. Even though I would love to go and see England and Scotland, I don’t think it would be like coming home. Which made it interesting to read a short story that featured a young man who was so desperate to live in and move to a country that he had never laid eyes on because he thought he was from hero stock.
Pride is never really a good thing. If we’re being honest here. And Patricks’ pride in this short story leaves his vacation at a pretty grisly ending. He is too proud to love his family for who they are. And he is certainly too proud to stay and listen and learn. Rather, he wants to be a hero and from more “impressive” ancestors. I really don’t understand that, and I’m kind of glad that he got his comeuppance. He was a bit of a weeny in this tale.
I love that this story dealt with family and pride. Leprechauns and the Luck of the Irish. The whole story was fun and had me smiling as I turned the pages. It wasn’t quite what I expected from the title. But it was most definitely a tale that I thoroughly enjoyed.
When you die, who will pick up your collect call? This short story is a great reminder to be kind and remember those that you love.
I actually seriously enjoyed this ghost story. And I loved the premise that it created for the afterlife. It’s such a great feeling – that those who are loved and cherished in life will have someone “pick up”. But if you’ve kinda been an arse… well, good luck!
Not only was this a great reminder of loving and karma, but it was also a cute story that was all about being reunited with family. We’ve all said goodbye to loved ones. So it was really nice to have a story that kind of focused on the fact that we’ll eventually see each other again. Whether it’s your father, your wife, your sister… whoever… they’ll pick up and be there when that final curtain call occurs.
Most ghost stories tend to leave you with goose bumps (which, I feel, is kind of the point). But this one didn’t. It left me feeling comfortable, safe and not scared of the future. That lasted all of about thirty seconds before reality crashed back in. But it was a nice feeling all the same.
Title: Laura Nyro at the Wedding Author: Christos Tsiolkas In: Kindred (Michael Earp) Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again) My Bookshelves:Contemporary, Contemporary romance, Family, LGBTQI Dates read: 3rd June 2020 Pace: Medium Format: Short story Publisher: Walker Books Year: 2019 5th sentence, 74th page: We’re thinking somehwere in Mordialloc, maybe summer so we can get married on the beach.
Pat and Jack want to get married. But it’s brining up all sorts of history for Jack… history concerning his Dad and the horrible things he did…
I found this short story really sweet. It starts with two men. Happy, in love and comfortable in each other’s presence. And then it begins to make you think. Think about things such as “what constitutes a marriage?” “what shows true love?” “when is forgiveness necessary, or even okay?”. All questions that I frequently ask myself, and were very well answered in this small literary journey.
Although this is a nice little romance, it is also very much about family and forgiveness. The horrors of the past can linger in our present, and this story focuses on the ways in which you can move on from that. The ways in which you can find a way to forgive the past, and move on towards a better future.
The ending really wasn’t what I expected. It was one in which the outcome was not anticipated, but definitely very much appreciated. I actually really enjoyed the way in which this ended – it was unexpected, but somehow made much more sense than the ending I was expecting.