Book Review: Things We Set on Fire by Deborah Reed

things we set on fireBLURB: A series of tragedies brings Vivvie’s young grandchildren into her custody, and her two estranged daughters back under one roof. Jackson, Vivvie’s husband, was shot and killed thirty years ago, and the ramifications have splintered the family into their own isolated remembrances and recriminations.

Sisters Elin and Kate fought mercilessly in childhood and have avoided each other for years. Elin seems like the last person to watch her sister convalesce after an attempted suicide. But Elin has her own reasons for coming to Kate’s side and will soon discover Kate’s own staggering needs.

This deeply personal, hauntingly melancholy look at the damages families inflict on each other—and the healing that only they can provide—is filled with flinty, flawed, and complex people stumbling toward some kind of peace. Like Elizabeth Strout and Kazuo Ishiguro, Deborah Reed understands a story, and its inhabitants reveal themselves in the subtleties: the space between the thoughts, the sigh behind the smile, and the unreliable lies people tell themselves that ultimately reveal the deepest truths.

 

MY THOUGHTS: This is my first Reed read (ha!) but not likely to be my last. I’ve enjoyed the way the author can weave past & present very, very smoothly and the way that life is portrayed as a cycle.

I actually found part of that cycle woke memories that I try hard to keep buried. Being raised primarily by a (at times) mentally unstable parent is not easy. Not to put down the character of Vivvie, but I saw similarities between her and Kaye, especially when Vivvie was at the end of her coping times. I know why Vivvie took the actions she did; & I strive to be the opposite in my life. Perhaps I’m trying too hard, but that’s not an open conversation for a blog!

I guess everyone carries a burden of some kind.

 

Four stars, easy to grade, harder to read.

 

I read this book as part of my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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REVIEW: The Ludlow Ladies Society – Ann O’Loughlin

ludlow.jpgSYNOPSIS: Connie Carter has lost everybody and everything dear to her. To help nurse her grieving heart and to try and find answers, she moves from her home in America to Ludlow Hall, deep in the Irish countryside. All she knows about Ludlow is that her late husband spent all their money on the house – without ever mentioning it to her. Now Connie needs to know why.

At Ludlow Hall, Connie befriends Eve and Hetty and is introduced to the somewhat curious Ludlow Ladies’ Society. But can Connie ever reveal her hurt? And, more importantly, can she ever understand or forgive? As the Ludlow Ladies stitch patchwork memory quilts to remember those they have loved and lost, the secrets of the past finally begin to surface.

REVIEW: I found this novel both freeing and heart-breaking all at once, kind of like a modern Maeve Binchey. Not wanting to be too dramatic about it, but the first time my daughter went away on access, it felt like I had lost her. That doesn’t put me anywhere near the scope of anyone whose child has died, but it did allow me to empathise with the behaviour and mind-set that Connie portrayed. The way the author unfurls the characters is organic (I know, I’m getting all fancy up in here) and the pace suited the story and themes.

There are obvious things that happen (which I won’t go into) but even those enhance the plot and character growth. Easy five stars & one on the re-read shelf.

As per, I don’t seek to fund this site so the following link is non-affiliate. I was introduced to the title through Bookbub, but you can read a sample chapter on the publisher’s site HERE & find links to various purchasing sites. I’m definitely going back for the author’s two previous titles!

REVIEW: Just In New Zealand series – Rosalind James

JUST THIS ONCE: Escape to New Zealand #1

Everyone needs to be rescued sometimes.

Everyone but Hannah Montgomery, that is. She just needs a vacation. Three weeks in New Zealand to sort out her life, figure out what she wants, seems just right. Oh, and to relax. She should definitely put that on the agenda. She certainly isn’t looking for a fling with a professional rugby player, no matter how attractive he is. Hannah doesn’t do casual. But maybe just this once. . .

As much as he’s shared with Hannah, Drew Callahan has kept one very big secret. And learning the truth, now that she’s back home again, has made Hannah warier than ever. Drew knows that she’s right for him. But how can he convince her to let down her guard enough to explore what they could have together?

New-Zealand-Website-Slide_10_bksI’m a sucker for books about my own country/environment. Add on romance, a hot book boyfriend and I’m sold (Rock Hard, anyone? https://sewscrapmuse.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/review-rock-hard-by-nalini-singh/ The concept of the plot isn’t too far out there (find me a girl who hasn’t dreamed of a bf that’s a sports/rock/movie star, & I’ll show you a liar) and the secondary characters are funny and well crafted.

James, while a Yank, has spent enough time here to perfectly describe our environment and she does it so well. Even our unique lexicon is sweet as… J I have devoured all the books in the series multiple times & would only admit to not liking one, which is very good odds for a series as large as this one has become. Overall I’d rate the series 4 ½ stars, which is very high for me! The best thing? The titles are now available on Kindle Unlimited and James has written plenty of others too. Book One, Just This Once, is available for free on most platforms in any case. Please click on the links below & enjoy:

Review: The Mac Brothers Series (Anthology) – various authors

mac brothersBLURB: A perfect Summer beach read!
The Mac Brothers have everything. Confidence. Tattoos. Attitudes. Everything except love.
But for every bad boy, there’s a girl who ignores the rules.

From four of your favourite bestselling authors:
Aaron MacDonald – Seaside Seduction-Angela Ford
Donnan MacDonald – Seaside Playboy-Jennifer Conner
Layne MacDonald – Seaside Rendezvous-Natalie-Nicole Bates
Blake MacDonald – Seaside Passion – Tammy Tate

REVIEW: To be honest, I expected more from this book. A lot more. Most family anthologies show care and attention to an overall plot line but unfortunately this one didn’t. The over-all detail didn’t change in that from book one to four, the basics were consistent (like role, birth order, reason for leaving then returning) but it was very superficial, the characters were surface only and I found it hard to finish, and things jumped around and the books read at very different pacing. I wouldn’t be going out of my way to look for other titles by these authors. 1 star.

I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from the publisher and am voluntarily reviewing it. As per, I don’t seek to fund this blog, but the book is available NOW on Amazon & other e-book retailer sites.

Because, BEARS.

I’ll concede right now that I read a lot. And a lot of what I read isn’t worth reviewing, as I read to clear my head before sleep, or to drown out the chaos around me. This last two weeks with the cold virus has been awful and I haven’t retained a lot. Except, bears.

The latest Psy-Changeling book was released last week, and a couple of days later the e-book dropped into my Kindle. Oops. Oddly enough (given we live in a tech world and I’d also pre-ordered the audiobook for the same release date) Audible didn’t deliver that version until the evening. I will say it was harder than usual to work that day as all I wanted to do was hibernate. I should have taken a leave day and curled up – I would have had six un-interrupted hours in between the school run, so totally worth it. Next time!

BLURB: Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.
 
Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.
 
Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

I really enjoyed this book. It’s the first in the Trinity story arc and so, so different a world from the first book, Slave to Sensation (2006!) yet still the same. Seeing a glimpse of some older characters settles my need to have linking books, and I can see a few of the issues that the three cultures need to resolve showing thru to what will form at least the next few books (note Nalini, you need to give us more than just the Trinity conclusion!!) but as ever, Nalini’s characters are not entirely predictable (bears!). The only thing that I found jarring was who the culprit was, and I can’t say more than that so early on in the publication life. Perhaps after I’ve re-read (or finished listening) that will settle on me. I can inadvertently not “grab” a meaning because I am devouring the book too fast & I suspect that’s the case here.

Because I don’t seek to fund this blog & I purchased these editions, I won’t give specific links but you can read an excerpt or look for local editions on Nalini’s site : http://nalinisingh.com/books/psychangeling-trinity-series/silver-silence/ 

Lastly – I much prefer the darker UK covers. Thankfully that’s what we get down here 🙂

Back to your regularly scheduled programme…

Important bit – none of the links below are affiliate. Deerskin is actually to a review, not the purchase.

It feels so good to be back writing, and reading, and stitching, and (dare I say it) work! I spent a good portion of the last fortnight ill, five work days away from my desk, and it’s only yesterday that the sleep-deprived me felt kind-of-normal.

SO about the above..

  • I started & finished Deerskin, by Robin McKinley. I’d not read any of her novels but I got hooked in by the cover. And the price (it was free that day). Now I’m adding Sunshine to the Kindle, as @aragonsgirl72 recommended her on my IG post.
  • For those of you that liked my version of Not All Those Who Wander, Emma Congdon has now uploaded this to her etsy site.
  • I brought myself the Palace Cinema from Lego. Loving it. Construction kept my mind tired and from being overwhelmed with solo parenting & worry. I finished it and brought the Bank set. I might have started a new obsession…
  • Mase “helped” with the construction. Cars are still a little boy favourite. Look how long his fingers are now! I miss the true little boy chubbiness.
  • And last night was my first night at a stitch group in far too long. I laughed and really enjoyed myself. It was in Grey Lynn, an older established and PRETTY suburb of Auckland. Love the way the trees grew to form a canopy.

And stitch-wise, I am well into March’s Stitch MAYnia designer SAL, which was Teresa Wentzler. My goal was to back stitch and fill in a lot of the gaps in the top floral border of Tapestry Cat. I’m really happy with the progress.

And as for the other, that’s for an Instagram swap. My partner loves How to Train Your Dragon, so as one of the pieces I am making her a needlebook with the two main characters front and back. Cloudsfactory make such easy, cute designs for this sort of thing.

What have you been up to?

 

Review: Connilyn Cossette’s Counted With The Stars

out-fo-egyptSynopsis: Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation.

When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all. To save her older brother and escape the bonds of slavery, Kiya flees with the Hebrews during the Great Exodus.

She finds herself utterly dependent on a fearsome God she’s only just beginning to learn about, and in love with a man who despises her people. With everything she’s ever known swept away, will Kiya turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?

He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars–if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Genesis 15:5

I picked this one up thru Book Bub as I have liked Biblical historical fiction previously – and I was wowed. Not only was it cheap (but hurry, that offer closes shortly!!) the writing of this one is superb. There is attention to detail, a real urgency, adherence to the story of Exodus and the fleshing out of the characters is top-notch. I didn’t even stitch last night, as I wanted to keep reading – and I raved about this one to whomever would listen. God’s grace is for everyone, even a sinner like me.

I’ve already brought book two! Definitely 5 stars from me.

Complimentary bible studies for the first two books are available on the You Bible study website and app; see https://www.bible.com/search/plans?q=Connilyn%20Cossette&version_id=1209