Synopsis:

Somewhere between a car accident and a divorce, Annie Applegate stopped believing in happy endings.

Now, she just wants to disappear. And the tiny town of Promise fits the bill. With its winding streets and melting-pot of residents, it’s the perfect place for Annie to hide away and open the bookshop she always dreamed of owning.

Until her new-found peace and quiet is disturbed by Lucas, a widower who rivals Annie as the most cynical person in town.

With his troubled past and precocious children, Lucas is the last person she should be getting involved with. But when he asks for her help, Annie comes to realise that, maybe, going it alone isn’t the solution after all…

Previously published as Promise, Texas

I haven’t read a Debbie Macomber book in a while, and to be honest this was not one of my favourites. I was intrigued by the book, and wanted to know the outcome of the various storylines – which led me to finish the book, but this wasn’t a great read.

I was looking for a quick and easy read having just finished Citadel by Kate Mosse, and this book ticked that box. This is a fast read, easy text and not a challenging read.

I thought there were too many characters and too many storylines. No character was explored in depth, and occasionally I forgot who was who!

Most of the individual stories were not believable, and all wrapped up conveniently. I think I have read so many chick lit books, and several books by Macomber that I found this one very predictable.

All of the above said; I did finish this book. It ticked the box for easy read, and it did keep me entertained. If you like a chick lit novel, a nice and light read, then this is for you!

I am rating it 3 out of 5

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Addition: Audiobook
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Why would a woman marry a serial killer?

Because she cannot refuse…

Kateryn Parr, a thirty-year-old widow in a secret affair with a new lover, has no choice when a man old enough to be her father who has buried four wives – King Henry VIII – commands her to marry him.

Kateryn has no doubt about the danger she faces: the previous queen lasted sixteen months, the one before barely half a year. But Henry adores his new bride and Kateryn’s trust in him grows as she unites the royal family, creates a radical study circle at the heart of the court, and rules the kingdom as regent.

But is this enough to keep her safe? A leader of religious reform and a published author, Kateryn stands out as an independent woman with a mind of her own. But she cannot save the Protestants, under threat for their faith, and Henry’s dangerous gaze turns on her.The traditional churchmen and rivals for power accuse her of heresy – the punishment is death by fire and the king’s name is on the warrant…

From an author who has described all of Henry’s queens comes a deeply intimate portrayal of the last: a woman who longed for passion, power and education at the court of a medieval killer.

This is number 4 in the Tudor Court series by Philippa Gregory, and the star of this novel is Kateryn Parr – Henry VIII’s six and final wife. Shortly after her second husband dies, she is summoned to court to marry the King. The problem is, he is a very dangerous man. He has killed two wives, watched one die in child birth and divorced two others. If he gets bored of you, he can get rid of you, no questions asked. Kateryn has to be very careful in all she does. However, she is ambitious. She wants to see reform to the church, she wants to study and she wants to write. Plus, she is in love with another man; but if this knowledge gets out she could die.

I think I have enjoyed all the novels by Philippa Gregory that I have read, and this one is no exception. It wasn’t my favourite though. There were times when I felt the storyline was a bit slow and I found myself losing a bit of interest. However, the ending made up for it. It was dramatic and tense. It is common knowledge that Parr survives the King, but I found myself desperate to know she does it, as he is not happy with her all the time. The drama and suspense was really good. There were elements of this story I didn’t like though. I didn’t find the sex scenes added anything to the story. They were a bit too descriptive for my liking, and too frequent.

As a Christian, I did find the church debate throughout the book really interesting. Henry VIII made the Church of England, and placed himself at the head of it, when he wanted to divorce Catherine of Aragon. As an old man though, he was still thinking of the changes he could make the church – does he make the country Catholic again, or does he go down the Lutheran way of thinking? Kateryn was a reformer, but not all of Henry’s advisors were, and she found herself walking a difficult and potentially dangerous path.

I wasn’t a massive fan of Kateryn. She was quite arrogant and proud. However, she was the only queen to unite the Tudor children, so she should be commended for that. I really didn’t like Henry. He was a mean, vindictive and untrusting man, who would kill you without any thought. Goodness, you wouldn’t want to be in Parr’s position – having to marry him because he is King, then spending all her time trying to stay alive. There were scenes in the book I didn’t like much either – particularly how Henry punished Kateryn.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5. As I have said, there were times in this book I lost interest, but overall, this was a good read. I didn’t know much about Parr, so it was an education for me. I also found the theology debates really interesting. The outcome of this book was obviously not a surprise, but it was a good read nevertheless; and I will be looking to read the other books in the Tudor Court series.

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Books 21-25 in 2015 are:

21.
Erica James – The Dandelion Years
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is one of my favourite types of books, by one of my favourite authors. I really enjoy Erica James novels, and this one was set in both the present day and during WW2. I love books with a dual timeline! This story was interesting, gripping and touching – plus it was set in Bletchley Park, which I found really exciting. My review is HERE.

 

22.
Amanda Hocking – Wake
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. I really enjoyed her Trylle series, so had high hopes for this new book. This is young adult, fantasy literature, which I almost always enjoy. This book is darker than Hocking’s Trylle series, and I didn’t enjoy it as much. That said, it wasn’t a boring or bad read – I read this book in two sittings! My review is HERE.

 

23.
Marina Fiorato – The Glassblower of Murano
Rating: 3 out of 5

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books which has been sitting on my bookcase for a few years, so I added it to my Goodreads Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to report that I have now read it! This is another book which has a dual timeline; present day and the 1600s. I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I thought I might. I didn’t find the storyline terribly exciting and I wasn’t overly keen on any of the characters. My review is HERE.

24.
Amanda Hocking – Lullaby
Rating – 3 out of 5

This is the second novel in the Watering series by Amanda Hocking. It continues the story of Gemma, and her entanglement with the sirens. Again, this instalment is darker than the first, but as this is a young adult book it doesn’t get too bad! I am enjoying this series. The storyline is gripping, I like the characters and the books are exciting. I have the last two novels to read, and I am looking forward to them.

 

25.
Beth Redman – God Knows My Name
Rating: 5 out of 5

This is the second time I have read this book, and I have loved it each time. Beth Redman looks at our identity in God. She talks about how God knows us, made us, and how we don’t have to feel shame or regret in His presence. This is a great read, full of truth and encouragement about who we are in God, and who God is to us. This is a must-read in my opinion.

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As I am behind in posting updates about the books I have read (see previous post!) I have decided to attempt to do block updates to catch up.

Books 16-20 in 2015 were:

16.
Harriet Evans – A Place For Us
Rating: 3 out of 5

I hadn’t read a Harriet Evans novel in a long time, although I have several lined up. I saw that this one was available at the library so I snatched it up. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I found it quite long, and sad. The book looks at family, mental illness, secrets and affairs. It wasn’t a particularly easy read and one that I came away from feeling a bit down. I will read more by Evans, but this one isn’t one I would highly recommend.

17.

John Green – Paper Towns
Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second John Green novel I have read. I loved The Fault in Our Stars so had high hopes for this novel. I found it a bit of a let down – well, I found the ending a let down. This is a story of friendship. A girl goes missing, and a group of friends – led by her neighbour – seek to find her. I liked the tension, I liked reading about the friendship group, but ultimately I didn’t really like the girl they were looking for and I didn’t like the outcome. I finished the book feeling a bit deflated. I will probably watch the film when it comes out though!

18.

M. C. Beaton – Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet
Rating: 4 out of 5

This is also the second M C Beaton novel I have read. I am thoroughly enjoying the Agatha Raisin series. I find them entertaining, gripping and easy reads. The crimes are never too gruesome, and there is something about Agatha that amuses me. This novel didn’t let me down. In this instalment, she investigates the murder of the vet that no one liked. It was a fun read. If you like light-hearted crime novels, this is for you!

19.

Rowan Coleman – The Memory Book
Rating: 4 out of 5

Man, this was a sad book. This was recommended to me by a friend (a fellow book lover), and I did really enjoy it. But goodness me was it a sad read. This novel looks at dementia, but in early age, and the effect it has on the family. It was a hard read, a bit of a tear-jerker, but one that I enjoyed. There was also a little twist, which I hadn’t seen coming, but was a bit heart-warming. This is a novel I would recommend.

20.

Debbie Macomber – 1022 Evergreen Place
Rating: 3 out of 5

As you know, I like a Debbie Macomber novels. They are quick, easy reads – definite Chick-Lit. This, of course, fit that bill perfectly. This is the 10th Cedar Cove instalment. As I am reaching the end of this series of books, I am finding them to be a bit same-y. That said, I liked the storyline about the WW2 letters, that brought a new element to these stories. If quick, girly reads are your thing, you will like this series books – but don’t read them all in one go!

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Addition: Hardback
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch–“Scout”–returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past–a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience.

This is the much anticipated sequel by Harper Lee, to my favourite book: To Kill A Mockingbird. What a book to follow – a classic, a much loved book, a book studied in schools and so on…so does Go Set A Watchman match up?

This novel follows Jean Louise – Scout – who returns home for a short visit from New York. The North is very different to the South – and attitudes of the South, even those of her family, come as a big shock to Jean Louise. This book explores racial tension, the North/South divide and family relationships.

I hate to type this, but…I didn’t enjoy this book nearly as much as I hoped I would. For me, this novel does not match up to To Kill A Mockingbird. I found it really lacked a story, plus key characters. There was no Boo Radley – he wasn’t even mentioned. Jem has died, so only appears in Jean Louise’s memories and Calpurnia is also just a memory. I found it hard to adjust to Scout being Jean Louise, a woman not the tom boy we all loved. I found her Aunt really irritating too! Atticus doesn’t actually feature much in this story – although a lot of Jean Louise’s self-discovery revolves around him, he is fairly absent in the story. I was surprised that the wisdom Jean Louise eventually sought was from her Uncle Jack, not Atticus.

As for the story, or lack of, I found this read more like an essay in racial tensions than a story. The book was wordy and I found a lot of it just wasn’t interesting. I also didn’t follow all of what Lee was saying. As I reflect on this novel, I find myself wondering what the point of the book was. Nothing was really concluded in the end. I found the trips down memeory lane enjoyable, but quite random and they didn’t add much to storyline.

I am rating this book 3 out of 5, firstly because I did finish this book. Secondly, there were parts of it I enjoyed. As I have said, I liked the memories, which meant Jem could re-enter the story. I also like the banter between Jean Louise and Hank. But it wasn’t an easy read, and some of it was really dull. This book isn’t as good as To Kill A Mockingbird, which is a novel I just love. I have come away from this book disappointed.

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Addition: Hardback
Genre: Young adult
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Still haunted by nightmares of her mother’s death, fifteen-year-old Sienna Jones reluctantly travels to Indonesia with her father’s relief team to help tsunami orphans with their post traumatic stress disorder-something Sienna knows a lot about. Since her mother’s plane went missing over the Indian Ocean three years before, Sienna doesn’t do anything if it involves the ocean or planes, so this trip is a big step forward.
But the last thing she expects is to fall for Deni, a brooding Indonesian boy who lives at the orphanage, and just so happens to be HOT. When Deni hears a rumor that his father may be alive, Sienna doesn’t think twice about running away with him to the epicenter of the disaster. Unfortunately, what they find there could break both their hearts.

This novel has been sitting on my shelf for an age, so I decided to add it to my 2015 Mount TBR Challenge, so I am pleased to tick it off my list!

In this book we follow Sienna, a fifteen year old girl whose life dramatically changed when he mother was killed in a plane crash. No longer fearsome, she is not happy when her Dad asks her to go on a mission trip to Indonesia, to help at an orphanage for children who suffered in the tsunami. While there, she meets a boy called Deni, and surprises everyone when she falls for him. He shows her another side of Indonesia, and when there is a chance to find his father, they run away together. But the ending isn’t quite as Sienna hoped or imagined.

I remember being desperate to read this novel when it was released, so I’m not sure why I waited so long to read it. In fact, I left it so long that I had forgotten what the story was about, so I was fairly surprised when I read the synopsis – this book just wasn’t what I had thought it would be. I’m also sad to say, it didn’t live up to high expectations I had placed on it. Maybe the lesson here is don’t leave a book so long to read!

So how come it didn’t live up to expectations? I think the main issue I had with the novel was I couldn’t relate to Sienna. Now I have never faced anything as awful as losing a parent or been a victim of something as horrendous as a tsunami, but I struggled to empathise with Sienna or Deni for that matter. Perhaps unfairly, I just found them to be moody teenagers – children who thought they knew best. There were some things they did which I also found very unrealistic – like running away together. They disappeared off more than once and weren’t caught. I find it hard to believe that a father takes his vulnerable fifteen year old daughter to the other side of the world, and then doesn’t know where she is.

All that aside, the storyline was fascinating. Taking a close up look at the tsunami and the impact that had on the children was heartbreaking. I don’t know how realistic the orphanage was, but those children I could feel empathy for. They were lost and scared. The thunder storms brought back horrible memories and their living conditions were so poor. I guess this book was eye-opening into a culture I have never experienced, and it wasn’t easy to read about their new lives. It also wasn’t easy to read when Sienna and Deni return to his home and see the loss and devastation there. To be honest, it was hard to comprehend the pain.

This was an interesting read – such pain mixed in with a teenage love story. For me, I didn’t need the love story. Sienna going to Indonesia would have been enough. Others will disagree with me and will have connected with her in a way I didn’t. I am rating this book 3 out of 5 because if you put the love story aside, I did enjoy this story. It was sad, yet eye opening, and heartbreaking. What I am left with is a sense of deep sadness for those children.

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2015 Reading Book 15 – 92 Pacific Boulevard by Debbie Macomber

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I’m not much of a letter writer. As the sheriff here, I’m used to writing incident reports, not chatty letters. But my daughter, Megan–who’ll be making me a grandfather soon–told me I had to do this. So here goes.

I’ll tell you straight out that I’d hoped to marry Faith Beckwith (my onetime high school girlfriend) but she ended the relationship last month, even though we’re both widowed and available. There were a few misunderstandings between us, some of them inadvertently caused by Megan.

However, I’ve got plenty to keep me occupied, like the unidentified remains found in a cave outside town. And the fact that my friend Judge Olivia Griffin is fighting cancer. And the break-ins at 204 Rosewood Lane–the house Faith happens to be renting from Grace Harding…

If you want to hear more, come on over to my place or to the sheriff’s office–if you can stand the stale coffee!

“Troy Davis”

Quick Thoughts:
As ever, I enjoyed this Macomber novel. It is number 9 in the Cedar Cove series, and this time follows the story of the local sheriff, Troy Davis. I like how each novel has a different character as a focus, it gives us a chance to get to know them more. The storyline didn’t surprise me much – sometimes these novels are a bit predictable and unrealistic, but I never fail to enjoy them. This book is the same. It is easy to read, easy to enjoy, chick-lit.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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2015 Reading Book 14 – 8 Sandpiper Way by Debbie Macomber

Synopsis:

Dear Reader,

I have something to confide in you. I think my husband, Dave, might be having an affair. I found an earring in his pocket, and it’s not mine. I’m also worried because some jewelry was recently stolen from an old woman—and Dave used to visit her a lot.

You see, he’s a pastor. And a good man. I can’t believe he’s guilty of anything, but why won’t he tell me where he’s been when he comes home so late?

Reader, I’d love to hear what you think. I also want to tell you what’s going on with your other friends in Cedar Cove.

Like Sheriff Troy Davis, to mention one. His long-ago love, Faith Beckwith, just moved here!

So come on in and join me for a cup of tea.

Emily Flemming

Quick Thoughts
If you have been around this blog long, you will know I really enjoy Debbie Macomber novels. I had been focussing on reading her new series, Rose Harbour, when I realised I hadn’t finished Cedar Cove. I’m really fortunate that my local library now has an e-book service, and the Cedar Cove series is part of it, so I have been using that to read this series.

As ever, I enjoyed this novel. Each story focuses on a different member of the community, with some stories crossing over to the next novel. This time, we followed the story of Pastor Flemming – a man keeping a shameful secret; plus there is a mystery to solve – who stole the jewellery? This book didn’t take me long to read. I am always drawn into the novels and can read them for hours at a time. This for me is easy reading; guilt-free chick lit!

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Chick-lit
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Venice, 1681. Glassblowing is the lifeblood of the Republic, and Venetian mirrors are more precious than gold. Jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten, the glassblowers of Murano are virtually imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. But the greatest of the artists, Corradino Manin, sells his methods and his soul to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, to protect his secret daughter. In the present day his descendant, Leonora Manin, leaves an unhappy life in London to begin a new one as a glassblower in Venice. As she finds new life and love in her adoptive city, her fate becomes inextricably linked with that of her ancestor and the treacherous secrets of his life begin to come to light.

This is book number four off my Mount TBR List. This book has been sitting on my shelf for ages, and when I discovered by husband’s Nan used to be a glassblower, I was even more eager to read it. However, this book wasn’t really what I expected.

The story is set in both the 1600s and the present day. Normally, I like novels which jump between time periods – novels written by the likes of Rachel Hore or Kate Morton. Yet, this story just didn’t grip me like the stories from those two authors do.

The story follows the Manin family – Leonora in the present day and Corradino in the 1600s. Both are glassblowers, and both are very talented. Yet Corradino sells his secrets to France to save his daughter, and Leonora, running away from a disappointing life in London, seeks to find out about her family history and to clear Corradino’s name.

As I write this, I find myself wondering what exactly about the book I didn’t really enjoy, and I’m not sure. I didn’t really like any of the characters, which isn’t always a problem for me if I find the story enjoyable. Yet I found the storyline a bit boring. There could have been more of a sense of danger in Corradino’s time, but there wasn’t. I knew The Ten were a force to not be messed with, but I didn’t feel fearful of them. As for Leonora, I found her a bit annoying. She seemed to be seeking validation – from her work, from her possible boyfriend and from her family legacy. I guess I didn’t really warm to her so her neediness annoyed me instead of making me root for her.

I’m rating this book 3 out of 5, which is a sign I didn’t hate it! I have been fairly negative about this novel so far, but I read it to the end and I did want to know what happened to Corradino. This novel is essentially a love story, which a historical mystery woven into it. This isn’t the worst book I have read this year. It didn’t take long to read, and I whatever I thought about the writing or the characters, I did want to know what was going to happen. This wasn’t what I expected, and it wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be; however, it was an alright read.

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Addition: Paperback
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis:

Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They’re the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone’s attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

This is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. A few years ago I read Hocking’s Trylle series and really enjoyed it, so I had quite high expectations for this book. I was also nervous, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy this book, which would have been sad as I liked the Trylle series so much.

This book follows Gemma, a sixteen year old girl who loves swimming. Her beauty and natural ability in the water attract the attention of three girls – Penn, Thea and Lexi. These girls are newcomers to the town, and their stunning beauty is making the town nervous. Gemma is cautious of them, but during a late night swim she is convinced to join them in the cove. She wakes the next morning having no memory of the night before, but knows something has changed – she has changed. What does this mean for her and her future?

I am pleased to write that I enjoyed this book. Maybe not as much as the Trylle series, but enough to read it in two sittings! This book is gripping, and pulled me in straight away. It is an easy read, but enjoyable. I liked the characters and I liked the story. This is a young adult novel, but as an adult I enjoyed it.

I liked Gemma and her sister Harper. I felt for Harper, she just wanted to protect Gemma. I found the storyline with their Mother a bit odd, and I’m not sure it added much to the book. Their Father seemed to be a sweetheart. Hard-working and trying hard to look after his girls. I think I forgot that Gemma is on sixteen, she seemed more mature than that. I liked the boys written into the story as well. Daniel made me chuckle as he humoured Harper, and Alex just seemed very sweet.

The storyline was good. This is the first in a four book series, so it took a little longer to get going than usual but I didn’t mind the scene-setting. I quickly worked out what fantasy characters the three girls are, but I enjoyed watching the story unfold. There were bits that were a little bit more gory than I expected, but that didn’t bother me much. The story is gripping, there are a couple of mysteries throughout the story, and of course there are a couple of romances too.

I don’t have anything bad to say about this book, except that it isn’t the best book I have ever read. I may have rated this book higher if this was the first Hocking book I had read, however this was a good read. Like I have said, I read it very quickly and I did enjoy it.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the Trylle series, however I liked it enough to buy the second book in the series. I am rating this book 3 out of 5.

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