Review: Mixed Blessings by Danielle Steele #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

Diana Goode and Andrew Douglas are a California couple who seem to have it all, and after their wedding, Diana teases that she will make a baby on their honeymoon. But long afterwards, she is still not pregnant. As they wait out each month with anticipation, only to be disappointed, they are forced to question just how much they are willing to go through to have a baby, and at what cost to their marriage. Charlie Winwood, having grown up as an orphan, dreams of a house filled with children, but his bride — fun seeking actress Barbie Mason — has other ideas. Their marriage is strained, but Charlie is convinced a baby will solve it all. Pilar Graham, a prominent attorney in her early forties, astonishes her friends by marrying Judge Brad Coleman, a man in his sixties and the father of two grown children. Pilar begins to wonder if some day she will regret not having a baby with Brad, but it will not be easy for them as they encounter the world of high-tech medicine and the bittersweet rewards it brings.

My Thoughts

I have been a fan of the movie for years and years. I love all the Danielle Steel movies to be honest which makes is so strange that I haven’t read the books! Now after reading the book, I can say that I loved both versions. Of course, the movie has a time limit so I can always understand why books a something different to the book. But I loved the movie that much already, that when I read the book and loved the whole story even more because there were bits in there that didn’t happen in the movie. What a treat!

Now I haven’t actually read a Danielle Steel book before. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to read. The writing was smooth, the pace right, and the characters developed nicely. If I had to choose my favourite couple story, it would be hard. I enjoyed them all to be honest. But it I HAD to choose, then I would probably choose… Pilar and Brad’s.

If you’ve seen the movie, I recommend reading the book now!

I rated Mixed Blessings: 5/5 stars 🌟

Happy Reading

Nat

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Review: Little Mercies by Heather Gudenkauf #bookreview #bookblog #littlemercies

Blurb

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity; the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children’s advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends’ couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen’s and Jenny’s lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

A powerful and emotionally charged tale about motherhood and justice, Little Mercies is a searing portrait of the tenuous grasp we have on the things we love the most, and of the ties that unexpectedly bring us together.

My Thoughts

This was my first story from this author and I really enjoyed it. The pace was fantastic and the characters were pretty 3D.  The story idea was excellent. For some reason I’m enjoying reading about the hot car death type story lines, as awful as they are.  The reason for that being, that they really can happen so innocently.  We’re only human and sometimes we do take on too much, or do have too much going on, and Ellen is shown to us as flawed as we all are.

Meanwhile, poor little Jenny. Despite her not being in the worst situation, it’s still a situation that can and does cause a child varying degrees of trauma, being with her dad that is.  My heart broke for her, just wanting a life that’s ‘normal’. I loved Ellen’s mom, and your heart just broke into pieces again when Jenny would say things like “I’m not going to steal it.” Poor little mite.

I do have a complaint about Ellen, however.  Near the end, she makes a comment about Jenny’s mother being stupid because she didn’t leave the boyfriend or husband (can’t remember which it was now) which I thought, for a social worker, was incredibly poor judgement and of poor taste. It was clear that Jenny’s mother was in a domestically violent relationship and scared to death of him.   I know that we all want Jenny to be safe, but that’s not to say that compassion and empathy couldn’t have be shown to her mother. We know that it’s not as simple as just leaving when it comes to domestic violence, so referring to the mother as stupid, was disappointing and uncalled for.  That would have been a lovely spot for a little education on the psychological trauma a domestically violent relationship can have on a person.  That’s not to say that Jenny’s mother made for choices, she most definitely did. But it wasn’t a black and white scenario, that’s for sure.

I think a book that makes you think like that, is a book that you can say passed the test! Throughly enjoyed that read, and do look forward to reading more from this author.

I rated Little Mercies: 4/5 Stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Messy, Wonderful Us by Catherine Isaac @CatherineIsaac #bookreview #bookblog @SimonSchusterAU

Blurb

You never know what life will throw at you. 
You just need to know who to turn to for help.

One morning in early summer, a man and woman wait to board a flight to Italy. 

Allie has lived a careful, focused existence. But now she has unexpectedly taken leave from her job as an academic research scientist to fly to a place she only recently heard about in a letter. Her father, Joe, doesn’t know the reason for her trip, and Allie can’t bring herself to tell him that she’s flying to Italy to unpick the truth about what her mother did all those years ago.

Beside her is her best friend since schooldays, Ed. He has just shocked everyone with a sudden separation from his wife, Julia. Allie hopes that a break will help him open up.

But the secrets that emerge as the sun beats down on Lake Garda and Liguria don’t merely concern her family’s tangled past. And the two friends are forced to confront questions about their own life-long relationship that are impossible to resolve.

My Thoughts

This was a lovely book to get to after reading a couple of thrillers in a row! And you know what, It wasn’t until the last three chapters that I decided to give it 5 stars because if you can make cry at least three times, then I think you deserve it.  I loved the journey that Allie took, I loved her as a person. She was not only intelligent, caring, and honest, but also so authentic.  She was likeable from the very first page, and I continued to love being her, taking the plunge and traveling across the continent in search of answers. Ed… You know I think he’s the first guy that I’ve liked since maybe 6 or 7 books ago.  We didn’t know too much about him in the first quarter of the book, but I loved learning about he and his wife and their folding marriage.  You never hope that a marriage ends, but it was certainly an emotional ride for me (anyway maybe not you), that by the end of the book, and the last page in particular, I was wistful crying. It was a story that took me on a worldly ride, both descriptively and emotionally.  You can’t ask for a better story than one that leaves you wanting more when you finally close the pages.

Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy and for introducing me to this fantastic author who I look forward to reading again very soon.

I rate Messy, Wonderful Us: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer #bookblog #bookreview @HachetteAUS @KelRimmerWrites

Blurb

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

My Thoughts

My book of the year. Really, saying that alone, and the fact that we’ve still got six months of the year left still and I’ve already named my book of the year, tells you just how much I loved this story. I absolutely loved it.

Addiction is such a hideous disease.  It affects the user, and everyone else around them. Very much like the ripple effect. This story was the most accurate portrayal of addiction that I’ve read yet. My eyes welled so many times reading this. The emotion, anguish, betrayal, confusion, guilt, worry, disappointment, longing, and love was just overwhelming at times. I felt so much for all the characters in this story that I just didn’t want to stop reading. I was furious at Robert and that part of the storyline, and I absolutely loved the relationship between Annie and her sister as they were growing up.  I think it was the diary entry in CH 18 (going from memory which I have to admit it pretty sketchy LOL) which documented Lexie leaving the ‘Cult’ and leaving poor 12 yr old Annie, that had me ugly crying.  And I do mean UGLY cry.  The trauma that that poor girl endured, and to have the only person that she could trust and knew that loved her disappear with out her (Lexie leaving), was the pivitol moment in her downward fall.  My heart truly ached for Annie.  And I appreciated the thought and effort the author made in conveying her emotional turmoil and struggle.

I also applaud how Lexie’s own struggle was written.  It is tremendously hard watching someone’s life downward spiral with addiction.  Essentially, you’re powerless to do anything because the only person that can help themselves, is the addict. That’s extremely hard to do when a person is dealing with multiple trauma’s, because more often than not, the reason that they’ve turned to the drugs is to self-medicate when experiencing depression, PTSD, trying to forget things etc. So an addict can relapse many many many many times.  They may never get clean.  I loved that the author explored this with Lexi. Shared her frustration, and even anger, with Annie an all the times she’d tried to help her. For Lexi being confused because even though she’s a doctor and KNOWS about addiction, it can be a very different experience to live through it personally.  Lexi was very human.  There was a time or two when I gasped because of something she said to Annie. One of those being when Annie was naming the baby and Lexi didn’t agree with it, they way she talked and what she said to Annie, was awful. I immediately felt for Annie, and thought “wow, that was below the belt Lexi”. But you know what, that was real.  No one’s perfect. We all have our moments, and I think it was just a representation of how addiction effects relationships.

And the poor little baby?  I’m so glad that she survived, although her withdrawal  scenes were vivid and written so well. I had some tears through that as well. And they ending… UGLY CRY. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was hoping for a different out come for sure.  I pictured it happening as though it was on one of my favourite tv show dramas. In slow motion, with some backing music. Not fair.

So as you can see, I LOVED this. It pulled me in from the very beginning and had me finishing it within the day. I just couldn’t put it down because I didn’t want to leave Lexie of Annie’s side. I needed to see where their journey was going, stuff any study or house-work that had to be done!

I rated Before I Let You Go: 5/5 stars and my 2019 Drama Book of the Year

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Best of my Love by Susan Mallery #bookblog @SusanMallery #bookreview

Blurb

To overcome her painful past, baker Shelby Gilmore goes on the hunt for a friend—a male friend—to convince her stubborn psyche that men can be trusted. But where in a town as small as Fool’s Gold will the petite blonde find a guy willing to not date her?

Dark, charming Aidan Mitchell puts the “adventure” in Mitchell Adventure Tours…and into the beds of his many willing female tourists. Until he realizes he’s inadvertently become that guy—the one-night Casanova—and worse, everyone in town knows it. Maybe Shelby’s boy/girl experiment will help him see women as more than just conquests so he can change his ways and win back his self-respect.

As Aidan and Shelby explore the secret lives of men and women, the heat between them fires up the Fool’s Gold rumor mill. If no one will believe they’re just friends, maybe they should give the gossips something to really talk about!

My Thoughts

*sigh* I realised it’s been a while since I’ve read a sweet romance like this, and boy have I missed them! Could I predict where this story line was going? Yes. Did I care? No. And you know why? Because I loved sharing the journey they took to get there.  I really enjoyed Shelby’s troubled past, it was very authentic because domestic abuse is high. There would be many readers who’d experienced it themselves, or know someone who has gone through it, and can therefore identify. And for a reader, being able to do that brings the story to life.

I found both Shelby and Aiden very likeable characters. There were scenes where I was laughing out aloud.  I loved when Aiden went dog shopping, and when he took Charlie shopping. I loved the newspaper ad idea. I didn’t like the way Shelby carried on about Aiden’s not having sex during their 6 month friendship, I felt like that was unrealistic, therefore it took me out of the story. But putting that aside, overall, I adored this book. Admittedly, it was my first read in the Fool’s Gold Series, so I’ll have to go back and read them all. But I look forward to that!

I rated Best of my Love: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

My Thoughts

Okay. First things first, the books topic is highly controversial.  You may find that reading this is going to stir up a multitude of feelings. Especially when you come across the first sexual scene with Wavy 13 years, and Kellen 26ish years… It doesn’t matter what way you put it, a sexual/romantic relationship between a child and adult is wrong. Especially a child that has experienced the amount of trauma that Wavy has in this story. And that can most certainly make reviewing this story difficult for some. For me, this is something I deal with through work, study, and research.  I read this story and saw two very broken people who need a lot of therapy.

Now that that’s out of the way, the creation and execution of this story was brilliant.  There was a very authentic feel about the characters.  It did pull you in, it did make you feel, and it certainly made you think about it for days afterwards.  That’s the mark of an excellent story. I always enjoy when chapters are given solely to a character, it enables you to connect on a more personal level with the character. Get to know them, get inside them, get closer to them. For me, that’s why I read: I like to get lost in a book and in the characters world.

So a word or warning, this story is extremely controversial. But it’s also wonderfully crafted, so if you can get past the topic, and appreciate how it’s put together, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Have you already read it? What did you think? Let me know.

I rated All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: 5/5 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: The Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain #bookblog #bookreview @DianeChamberlain

Blurb

Eight-year-old Sophie Donohue just wanted to be like every other little girl. Which is why her mother, Janine, reluctantly agreed to let her go on the weekend camping trip with her Brownie troop. But when Janine arrives to pick up Sophie after the trip, her daughter is not with the others. Somehow, along the forested route from West Virginia, Sophie has disappeared.

But Sophie is no ordinary eight-year-old. She suffers from a rare disease, and Janine has recently enrolled her in an experimental treatment as a last effort to save her life—despite the vehement objections of her ex-husband, Joe. Without her medication, Sophie cannot survive long. All her mother’s instincts tell Janine that Sophie is alive, but time is running out.

Deep in the Virginia forest, another drama unfolds. Sophie finds refuge in a remote cabin inhabited by Zoe, a woman who wants nothing to do with the child. Zoe is struggling to save her own daughter from the law, and Sophie’s presence jeopardizes any chance of that happening. She is as determined to save her daughter as Janine is to save Sophie…and only one of them can succeed.

My Thoughts

I’ve yet to be disappointed by this author. I think her stories are just wonderful. Always so much emotion and fantastic character development.  I felt like this one is a little unique with its story line as well. I also enjoyed the Zoe story line.  I did initially wonder “what the…” with the prologue and then the first few chapters, however once I understood how it was tied in, it ended up being one of my favourite parts.

I didn’t guess “The Tree House Man” story line, which I thought was great.  I loved how we got to see Joe’s character mature.

Have you read this one?

I rated The Courage Tree: 4/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

 

review: The Book of Dreams by Nina George @SimonSchusterAU #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.
 
After the accident, Sam—a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction—waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight—for hope, for patience, for life—they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.
 
A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

My Thoughts

What a lovely story, thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for my copy. It’s one of those truly awful accidents and you can’t help but feel emotionally invested in Henri’s story from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing his coma (yeah that sounds a little weird to say) and it gave me a new appreciation for those who have been in a similar situation.

I loved all the characters. They all brought a unique and special voice to the story, especially henri’s son. The underlying telling of mortality and love was powerful, and stays with you long after you finish this story. I definitively recommend you try this one.

I rated The Book of Dreams: 4/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review:Look Again by Lisa Scottoline #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops―the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life―and that of the son she loves.

My Thoughts

Unfortunately this one just didn’t grab my attention.  I found it quite difficult to get through until after halfway.  It felt like it dragged a lot, too much background noise.  I couldn’t get close to Ellen, because she annoyed me if I’m honest.  I didn’t come across any twists, anything surprising, I didn’t feel any overwhelming emotions reading it.

Now this isn’t to say the writing wasn’t excellent, because it was.  I just didn’t jel with this one, but you might. Definitely give it a go.

I rated Look Again: 3/4 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester #bookreview #bookblog @Natasha_Lester @HachetteAUS

Blurb

Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.

France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer — and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.

Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.

My Thoughts

A book that it so far from my usual reads that I almost didn’t read it. But boy, am I so glad I did. I laughed, cried, ugly cried, and was angered; essentially I did a full circle of emotions because the content called for it.  A story about women’s rights and their experience during WWII which was a time that really focused on the masculinity of men going off to war and woman staying home and tending to the house and children.

Jess’s character was admirable. She was strong, and identifiable.  I loved the vulnerability of Josh and D’Arcy, the walls that were broken given their struggles and the journey of discovery and intimacy that we, the readers, were taken on.  The ability to transport the reader to a different time and place is really an art, not everyone can do it, but Natasha use of description, both emotional and situational, was splendid.  That was the reason I cried. The reason why I felt so enthralled in every characters journey.

It was a story of dedication, passion, strength, and overcoming obstacles to find personal peace. It was inspirational. And it’s disappointing that woman have to fight so hard to be considered equals.

That ending though!

Thank you so much to Hachette AUS for my copy of The French Photographer, I really appreciate it.

I rated The French Photographer: 5/5 Stars

Happy reading,

Nat