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Inver's Reading List 2013

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'Home Front' by Kristin Hannah

 

This author was recommended by Hayley/chaliepud, a fellow member of Book Club Forum and sent to me. I'm so glad she gave me the opportunity to read it. I knew from the first couple of chapters I was going to like it and did.

The perfect couple who have it all, a good marriage two children and their careers. Michael the successful lawyer and Jolene the well organised mum and a job in National Guard. But their marriage is drifting apart and could be heading to divorce. When the news of a deployment is sent this will test them all. She is sent to Iraq and with it comes danger. Michael has to adjust to home life with the girls and work commitments. Trying times for everyone. He regrets saying the words to Jolene before she left that he doesn't love her anymore, but it was too late to take them back. The worst news possible comes when they are told of her injuries when her helicopter is shot down.

This book tugged at the hearstrings on several occasions, the second half especially, going between Michael and Jolene's point of view and their daily lives, until they are reunited in very harrowing circumstances and how they have to accept that family life will have to change for them all. It certainly gave me an insight into how so many families have had to deal with similar circumstances. A book that deals with, war, love, loss, grief, relationships and forgiveness and Kristin Hannah wrote about it with sensitivity and obviously well researched for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder etc. Well worth a read.

 

Oh and I did shed a tear on more than one occasion.

 

4/5

Edited by Inver

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This sounds great! Good thing I purchased it last week(when I saw it cheaply somewhere), I look forward to read it!

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I do hope you enjoy it Athena....you may need a tissue or two though.

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'My Dear, I wanted to tell you' by Louisa Young

 

'The lives of two very different couples are irrevocably intertwined and forever changed in this stunning World War I epic of love and war. August 1917, a letter, two lovers, a terrible lie. In war truth is only the first casualty......'

 

Well for my first full read of the year it was a good one. Riley and Nadine are brought together at an early age, and he then signs up for war....will she see him again. The promise each other they will, but he is wounded, badly but word gets back to her he isn't. Their lives are intertwined with another family through Riley and his CO Major Locke, his wife and cousin and the hospital when he is sent back to England. It goes between Ypres, Paris and London, but can love hold them together.

 

Well....what can I say. After a slow start with this book and getting used to the way it was written, I loved it. It took a wee while to get to know all the characters, but then it took off, once the scene was set. First World War is always a difficult subject to write about without it being a bit gruesome given the subject matter, but all the characters have their own tale to tell and how they deal with the harshness and heartbreaks of it all. Riley being promoted and not knowing why, I had to feel for him stuck in the middle of good and bad.

 

I thought this book had been well researched and can imagine it being a bit overwhelming at times for the author while going through hospital procedures etc during WW1 era. but it was dealt with in a very detailed and sensitive manner, as it had to be within those chapters. Some descriptions were gruesome, but war and its wounded were.

 

I have to say Chapter 25 was the most touching for me, but I won't say to much why, you will maybe understand when you have read it. Let's just say Riley has to come to some sort of acceptance of his wounds and this is done through the eyes of a child, and yes I did shed a tear.

 

 

4/5

 

 

'The Midwife's Confession' by Diane Chamberlain

 

Dear Anna, What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry..."

 

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle--her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family--described a woman who "embraced" life.

 

Yet there was so much they "didn't" know.

 

*************************************

Well I can honestly say this is definitely a new author to add to my list and I thank Ceri(welshy)for being kind enough to send me her copy. All the recommendations I have had for this read came into their own. I already have a bookie friend who noticed I was reading it wanting to read it.

 

What a brilliant read. Thoroughly drawn in from the first chapter. Lots of characters and it took me a wee while to remember who was who and their relationship and getting used to each chapter being written by one character.

 

Who would have thought that one letter could lead to so much intrigue and twists and turns. It was a page turner. I loved how the main character was telling her story through the past and her friends had to come to terms with and solve the mystery of what had made her do what she did. A story of close friendships, mothers, daughters, secrets, lies and a great storyline.....just my kind of read.

 

 

4/5

Great reviews Inver, both sound interesting!  I've gotten more and more into WW1 stories.  I'm going to look them up on Amazon. :)

 

Have you read Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy?  Good stuff there.

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'Mockingjay' by Suzanne Collins

 

The third in the trilogy and I have to say I'm glad I am finished with this one. After quite enjoying the first two and wanting to find out the conclusion, I have to say I found this one a bit of a drag. It was possibly because I had left so long between reading the previous one. I couldn't really get to grips with what was going on and honestly hadn't a clue what it was all about until about 3/4's way through it, when things started to pick up/happen. Maybe I just missed a lot by wanting to finish the trilogy and tick it of my list.

 

Like others I think I was slightly disappointed by the ending...

although not who Kitness ended up with), but it had reminicences of the ending of Harry Potter!!

 

3/5

Edited by Inver

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Out of the trilogy Mockingjay was definitely my least favourite as well, i think by the last book i'd lost sympathy with Catniss & she started to get on my nerves. My daughter loved the first two but gave up on the third as she lost interest in the story. 

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I agree with you both. The series started brilliantly, the second was ok, but the third one was a real struggle to get through. I didn't mind the ending itself, but the story just seemed to drag.

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I liked the third one the least as well, though I still rated it 5 stars. The story is very different from 1 & 2, it's more vague if you ask me. I did like it, and I was eager to see what happened (though I don't like certain parts of the ending), but it just didn't seem as nice as the other two.

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I think part of the problem with me reading these kind of books is that it is totally outwith my usual genre. I felt I was just reading words with the last one and not taking anything in. In fact if you asked me what happened I probably couldn't tell you very much about it at all !

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'The Story of Us' by Marcia Preston

 

I read 'The Butterfly House' by Marcia Preston and loved it. What would you do if your only son was involved in a fatal accident and his heart gives life to another. Grieving is taking its toll and she knows she needs to move on.

 

This is the story of Claire who finds a letter she put aside after her son was killed. It was from the wife of the man who received her son's heart. She decides to follow this up and goes out of her way to see if she can find out more about him without him knowing.  This takes her on a journey she isn't sure of how she will react if she does find him. Should she meet with him and tell him that he has something that means so much to her.

 

Mason McKinnon is a musician and she tracks him down, but his life has changed and she doesn't like the way he is living his life and not looking after her son's heart.  The tale continues and she eventually takes on the challenge of making him see sense and improving his health, stop smoking etc. which she can't understand why he should do this having been given an second chance with a new heart. Their relationship is a rocky one but slowly Mason comes round to her way of thinking and eventually he begins to see sense.

 

There are other characters too, Hob, the man responsible for the fatal accident, and the guilt he has carried around. Win, Claire's ex husband. Her friends back home who worry about her and what she is attempting to find out. I found this a touching read of love, loss, grieving and having to let go and moving on with life, but also finding love again through time. It made me wonder how on earth one would cope if this were to happen to a beloved child of your own.

 

4/5

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The Hunger Games.

 

I didn't feel that Katniss would end up in that situation.

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I've wishlisted The Story of Us by Marcia Preston, it sounds interesting :).

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'The Memory Stones' by Kate O'Riordan

 

Not quite sure why I didn't give up on this one as it wasn't rivetting reading I have to say. However it was well written.

 

Nell left rural Ireland at 16 to have a baby. She never returned until 30yrs later, from her life in Paris after a phone call from concerned neighbours to say they were worried about goings on at her daughters home. She decides to return, but what kept her away for so long? On return she she finds her daughter and family living in a mess of a house, with her partner Nick, laid up in bed with supposed ME. Her grandaughter wasting away and very thin and taking care of hoards of cats. They run a pub, which is the only thing that is kept in reasonable shape, helped out by a stranger Adam who lives in a caravan on their land. Nell has her suspicions about him and the truth unravels. Nell has to work to mend the relationship with her daughter Ali and explain the history of her departure and reconsiliation is achieved.

 

3/5

Edited by Inver

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The Story Of Us and Me Before You  both look interesting Diane  but definitely off my usual track. I will add them to my wishlist before I forget.

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'The Postmistress' by Sarah Blake

 

Another book that had been sitting unread on my shelf, picked and put down again. Eventually decided to read it.

 

I wasn't sure what I expected from this book, but as the title suggested  you thought it would be about 'The Postmistress' but it is more than that as she is only one of the characters. It is set in 1940 and based in Cape Cod where Iris James is postmistress and Emma Fitch, the local doctor's wife. They both listen to American radio reporter, Frankie Bard, who transmits her radio coverage of bomb shattered London. She sees and hears things she feels those back home need to know about in the safety of their war free environment. She travels into Europe and records everyday ways of life from those fleeing from war.  Emma's doctor husband goes to work in London, as he feels he would be of more use there after a traumatic incident happens in his capacity as a doctor at home....she awaits patiently for his return. However after one night in London these three women will be linked by twists of fate and a letter that Frankie is determined to deliver to its address in Cape Cod.

 

I can't go in to too much detail as this would divulge the outcome but this book was well written and it was good to hear of war time experiences from a womans point of view. It was well researched too and the characters believable.

 

3.5/5

Edited by Inver

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Glad to hear you enjoyed The Postmistress, Diane.  :)  It looks like we both felt the same about it, and I agree with exactly what you've said!  I liked the fact it was set in the US too, as most of the war books I read tend to be either set in the UK or Europe, so it was interesting to get that different setting too.

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'The Abortionist's Daughter' by Elizabeth Hyde

 

Megan gets a phone call to say her mother is dead having been found face done in their swimming pool. Diana was Director of the Center for Reproductive Choice, who had made many enemies given her title and where she worked. Detective Huck Berlin investigates and it becomes clear he has a murder on his hands. The day in question reveals that there were several people who had quarrelled with Diana. There are a few twists along with relationships exposed that weren't/aren't what they would appear.

 

I can't be overly enthusiastic about the book, it wasn't badly written, and the title would appear controvertial and it was a bit graphic at times. The characters were ordinary and I did find the whole book a bit dull and boring.  I did guess right as to 'who did it', although it could have been others. I couldn't make up my mind if that was a good thing or not though.

 

2/5

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I think I read this one a few years back, Diane - wasn't it a Richard and Judy book one year?  I know I read it, but other than the storyline itself, I can't remember that much about it. :dunno:

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'The Glass Guardian' by Linda Gillard

 

You are always guaranteed and good read when Linda writes and this one didn't disappoint. I wasn't sure about a 'paranormal romance' and how it could possibly work but it did although some of the detail had me thinking it a bit strange, then I remembered it was only fiction!

 

As always there is a mixture of characters, non of them perfect and all have their history. Ruth with her recent grief to contend with and finding herself the owner of her Aunt Janet's huge old house on Skye (I would love to visit it). Although on her own she senses another presence in the house. Ruth develops a relationship with 'Heckie' and finds out their connection through the 'glass'. Tom an old friend from her past, it would appear wants more than just to be her friend (he annoyed me a little, not sure why), but has his own demons from the past to deal with. Stan, the Canadian who wants to pursue the music of her Aunt Janet and write a book. Can she be bothered with trying to help with this, when she is so taken with 'Heckie' and wants the house and him all to herself? But it is 'Heckie' who she becomes obsessed with. How can she fall in love with a ghost from 100 years ago?

 

I liked all the themes of love, grief, friendships and a touch of music and family history. The whole story is brought tidily to a conclusion (with a wee bit of a twist)and I wasn't disappointed with it. My favourite character was undoubtedly the handsome 'Heckie'. I always like how the heroine in Linda's writing is a little bit older! Also that each of her books are different and if  you haven't ready any of them urge you to go find another one to read. (I think my favourite is still Emotional Geology.) Although I have to say there always seems to be snow and sometimes Christmas mentioned.

 

As with Linda's other books you are swept away with the surroundings described in such detail you wish you were there. I always love the Scottishness about them (and makes me proud to be Scottish). I am always left wanting to find and visit where I have just read about. I really do/should visit Skye.

 

5/5

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'The Lollipop Shoes' by Joanne Harris

 

Having read 'Chocolat' twice and loved it I was hoping this would have the same appeal. I wasn't disappointed I loved it too. It was nice to meet up again with familiar characters from Chocolat and some new ones and a different setting. I found it a bit difficult to settle to it being set in modern times with references to mobile phones. I never actually imagine it in the present day for some reason.

It's sense of magic, mystery and the totally mouthwatering references to chocolate of all descriptions made it a delight. Anouk and Vianne with little Rosette (who is her father!), and the devilish Zozie and her cast of characters from the past. You can't help like her to start with and how she helps with the chocolaterie and brightens up the shop and entices customers in, but you then find out she has her motifs and it is a must read to find out the conclusion. Vianne eventually reaslises things are not as they seem and is forced to make choices for the better.

If you enjoyed '
Chocolat' I am sure you will like this one too. It is well written and am sorry there will be no more chocolate writing.

 

5/5

Edited by Inver

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Oops...of course there is, forgot about that Claire, it is actually on my wishlist. Think I will be asking for this one for bdy. My boys always need ideas and I think it is out in paperback now :D 

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'The Postmistress' by Sarah Blake

 

Another book that had been sitting unread on my shelf, picked and put down again. Eventually decided to read it.

 

I wasn't sure what I expected from this book, but as the title suggested  you thought it would be about 'The Postmistress' but it is more than that as she is only one of the characters. It is set in 1940 and based in Cape Cod where Iris James is postmistress and Emma Fitch, the local doctor's wife. They both listen to American radio reporter, Frankie Bard, who transmits her radio coverage of bomb shattered London. She sees and hears things she feels those back home need to know about in the safety of their war free environment. She travels into Europe and records everyday ways of life from those fleeing from war.  Emma's doctor husband goes to work in London, as he feels he would be of more use there after a traumatic incident happens in his capacity as a doctor at home....she awaits patiently for his return. However after one night in London these three women will be linked by twists of fate and a letter that Frankie is determined to deliver to its address in Cape Cod.

 

I can't go in to too much detail as this would divulge the outcome but this book was well written and it was good to hear of war time experiences from a womans point of view. It was well researched too and the characters believable.

 

3.5/5

 

I came across this book just a while ago and searched for a thread on the book on here.... chaliepud was kind enough to point me in your direction :D I'm happy to hear you enjoyed the book, it's now on my wishlist :)

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'Body Surfing' by Anita Shreve

 

This was an easy, straightforward read and lots of good characters, some annoying. Anita Shreve writes a good story. This one had been on my shelf for quite a while and needed something short. I finished this one on holiday.

 

The main character Sydney has already been been married twice, divorced once then widowed. She isn't looking for love and answers an advert to tutor a teenage girl of a well off family throughtout the summer months at their beach home in New Hampshire. While there, the Edwards' two grown sons come visit, one almost engaged to Victoria. There are tensions between family members  but she trys to keep adrift of these and not become involved, but the brothers vie for her affections and she becomes involved with one and is the cause of a breakup. Tensions then become fraught between the brothers. Julie the daughter, proves difficult at times, but slowly Sydney begins to understand her ways. Julie goes missing and she manages to find her and deal with the situation. For some reason Mrs Edwards takes a dislike to Sydney and we never really get to understand why, which was a bit disappointing.

 

Mr Edwards (my favourite character I think) and Sydney have a good relationship and I almost think she thinks of him as another father figure. He tells her about the history of the house and gives her past papers detailing who has owned the property, which she finds really interesting. Will she be part of it all some day? It did come with a little twist I wasn't expecting.

 

This story takes place over 2002, 2003 and 2005 with all the events linked by Sydney and her relationship with the family.

 

I was a bit disappointed with the read in parts as I didn't feel it was going anywhere, but Anita Shreve writes well and this kept me reading.

 

3/5

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