Guest Review – Her Mother’s Secret – Natasha Lester

Her Mother’s Secret

Natasha Lester

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733634659

 

Description:

1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora’s life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father’s chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father’s life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she’s a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous.

1939, New York City. Everett’s daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalized like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it?

HER MOTHER’S SECRET is the story of a brave young woman chasing a dream in the face of society’s disapproval.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The elation of everyone around in Leonora East’s small village of Sutton Veny was high – the war was over; it was Armistice Day 1918 in England and the celebrations continued long into the afternoon. But joy soon turned to despair as Spanish Flu struck viciously – Leo spent her time dispensing medicine from her father’s chemist shop, praying that it would help. Late in the night, as she wearily entered the home where her father was waiting, she was devastated to find him struggling to breathe.

After his death, a grieving Leo decided she could no longer remain in the country. Her desire to create cosmetics that women the world over would want to wear had her sailing to New York City with her best friend Joan. Leo had made herself a deep rich red lipstick in her father’s chemist shop – but the shock from the self-righteous at the scandal she was causing by wearing it only caused Leo’s determination to strengthen. Meeting up with Everett Forsyth on the journey was fortuitous; he was one of the department store Forsyths from London and he was going to build another in Manhattan. His interest in Leo’s cosmetics gave her some confidence…

1939, twenty years later, Leo had been through much – a widow and continuing to work hard, she always looked to the future. Meantime, Everett’s nineteen year old daughter Alice was a devoted and extremely promising ballerina. But the letter Alice received one day at the dance studio was to change her life in a most unexpected way. Why though were her parents so angry? Confusion filled her mind – what could she do?

Her Mother’s Secret by Aussie author Natasha Lester is brilliant! The strength of character of Leo is phenomenal – the way women were treated in the early part of the century; the heartache and loneliness as she was ostracised by the elite of society – and she still held her head high! The author has historical fiction down to a fine art; her meticulous research is obvious. I thoroughly enjoyed Her Mother’s Secret, reading it in a matter of hours. A highly recommended 5 star read.

 

Post Script: Close Enough to Touch – Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch

Close Enough to Touch

Colleen Oakley

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760294007

Description:

From the author of Before I Go comes an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

 

Love has no boundaries…

 

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

 

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

 

My View:

What a reading week I have had!  A week full of un- putdown able reads, of 5 star after 5 star narratives that will stay with me for a long time and this book belongs on that list of outstanding writing that forms the “Best of 2017” list in my reading diary. This one really surprised me – it was not what I was expecting!

 

What can I say to convince you to pick up this book because I know that if you start reading it by the end of the first few pages you will be hooked?  This is a unique coming of age narrative, (yes I think it can be classified thus), a very unique journey where the flawed, complex, engaging and heart-warming protagonists share their growth and humanness in a sometimes humourous, often poignant and evocative way that will have you cheering for team Eric and Jubilee.

 

My only complaint…the book wasn’t long enough.  I wanted to know more, what had been happening in their lives (no spoilers – this will make sense when you read the book), why did it take so long? What happens next?  I predict this to be another book to film in the near future.

 

Post Script: The Pretty Delicious Cafe – Danielle Hawkins

the-pretty-delicious-cafe

The Pretty Delicious Café

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752586

 

Description:

Food, family and fresh beginnings. For fans of 800 Words, Offspring, Josephine Moon and Monica McInerney.

 

On the outskirts of a small New Zealand seaside town, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored cafe. The busy season is just around the corner, and there are other things to occupy them. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother, and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over.

When a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, she feels it’s a promising sign. But the past won’t let them be, and Lia must decide whether events rule her life or she does.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe will remind you of those special, good things we love about living. And the food is great.

A warm, witty novel, brimming with the trademark romance, friendship and eccentricity that Danielle Hawkins’s fans adore.

 

 

My View:

What’s not to like about a Danielle Hawkins book? If you don’t like witty, touching , contemporary writing with a few zany characters, relatable relationships and their trials and tribulations, good food, a wedding or two and a happy ending then don’t pick up this book.

This is life lit at its best! It is so refreshing to read a novel where life is accurately reflected. Life is not always black and white, people’s personal lives can be complicated, and friends do argue or have misunderstandings, marriages do breakup, mental health is a whole of community issue…and families…well they are the most complicated relationship of all.

 

Danielle Hawkins provides the reader with a glimpse of the microcosm of a small town that reflects situations and emotions that resonate with so many of us, there is realism on these pages. A very satisfying read.

 

PS – And a bonus – there are even recipes for some of the dishes served at The Pretty Delicious Café at the back of the book.

Friendship…How Well Do You Really Know Someone?

Female friendships  – start a trend and celebrate them on Valentines Day #BFF

To win a copy of this intriguing book – in the comments tell me which WA author praises this read. (Hint – see here) 

the-fifth-letter

The Fifth Letter

Nicola Moriarty

HarperCollins Australia

ISBN: 9781460751312

Description:

How well do you really know your friends?

Joni, Deb, Eden and Trina try to catch up once a year to reconnect and take a break from the demands of their everyday lives. Now in their thirties, commitments have pulled them in different directions and the closeness they once enjoyed growing up seems increasingly elusive.
This year, determined to revive their intimacy, the four friends each share a secret in an anonymous letter to be read out during the holiday. But instead of bringing them closer, the revelations seem to drive them apart.
Then a fifth letter is discovered, and it becomes clear that one of the friends is hiding something sinister. Suddenly it seems that one of the women is in serious danger. But who was the author? And which of them should be worried?
The Fifth Letter examines the often complex nature of women’s friendships, the loyalty and honesty that they demand, and the battle to hold onto relationships that once seemed essential but are now outgrown.

****This giveaway is open to Australian resident only. Many thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia  for generously supporting this giveaway. Entries close midnight 13th February 2017.

 

 

Last But Not Least – A Fantastic Four Book Give Away

I think you will agree that I have had some very special giveaways listed on my blog today, but they represent just a small sample of the talent that is Australian writers!  Next time you are selecting a book to read – at a bookshop, library,  airport news agency, online or in person, as a gift or for yourself consider Aussie authors – there is so much choice, so much talent in this country.

And speaking of talent, if you are not lucky enough to win this awesome book pack generously provided by Echo Publishing, you owe it to your self to seek out a copy of these contemporary eclectic reads.  And by the way – what do you think to these covers?  Magnificent aren’t they ? For your chance to win this 4 pack book treat, it is so simple, in the comments tell which cover art displayed here, speaks to you.

****Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Giveaway ends midnight 28 January 2017.

le-chateau

Le Chateau

Description:

When Charlotte regains consciousness after an accident, she finds herself living a stranger’s life. The previous five years are a blank, and her husband, Henri, and daughter, Ada, are strangers. Arriving at their family chateau in southern France, she hopes to regain her memories. Instead, she feels isolated and unsettled. Strange events hint at underlying darkness and menace. Charlotte doesn’t know who to trust.

Did she really have an affair with their charming Irish neighbour, as her enigmatic mother-in-law suggests? And what of Henri? He seems loving and kind, a good parent, but Charlotte is wary. Then there is Ada, a little girl who just wants her mother back.

With the help of her friend and fellow Australian Susannah, Charlotte starts to piece together events, but her newfound confidence is shaken with news that puts a deadline on her quest…

 

resurrection-bayResurrection Bay 

Description:

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead. As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.

 

 

skin-deep

Skin Deep

Description:

When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

There’s a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal. Harry knows there’s a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal’s shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

 

ida

Ida

Description:

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

Ida is an intelligent, diverse and entertaining novel that explores love, loss and longing, and speaks to the condition of an array of overwhelming, and often illusory, choices.

 

 

 

 

Australian Romance Writers Are World Class

Australia has world class romance writers: rural romance writers/contemporary romance writers/cosy romance writers/cozy crime fiction writers/romantic suspense writers,romantic comedy writers, historical romance writers…writers of women’s fiction and life lit, have I missed any one out? If romance is your go to read then enter to win a copy of best selling author Belinda Alexandra’s Southern Ruby.   In the comments section of this post tell me what Belinda is referring to when she asks “…is this naughty or nice?”  Thanks once again to HarperCollins Publishers Australia for providing this generous giveaway.

 

****Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Giveaway ends midnight 28 January 2017.

Southern Ruby cover imageDescription:

Forbidden love. Family secrets. A twist of fate. The stunning new generational saga from Belinda Alexandra, bestselling author of TUSCAN ROSE.

In New Orleans – the city of genteel old houses and ancient oak trees covered in Spanish moss, of seductive night life, of Creole culture, voodoo and jazz – two women separated by time and tragedy will find each other at last.
Amanda, orphaned as a child and suffering the loss of her beloved grandmother, has left Sydney in search of a family she never knew.
Ruby, constrained by the expectations of society and class, is carrying a lifetime of secrets. Amanda’s arrival sparks revelations long buried: a double life, a forbidden love, and a loss that cannot be forgotten.
Southern Ruby is a sweeping story of love, passion, family and honour. Alternating in time between the 1950s and the eve of Hurricane Katrina, it is also a tribute to a city heady with mystery, music, and superstition, which has borne the tumults of race and class and the fury of nature, but has never given up hope.

 

EDIT** News just in Belinda Alexandra has been voted #50 in Booktopia’s Australia’s favourite author of 2017  http://www.booktopia.com.au/australia-s-favourite-author/promo1140.html

 

The books I read in 2016

The books I read in 2016

Rachel at The Perth Project Shares the Books She Read in 2016

The Perth Project

In case you didn’t know, I am a certified #booknerd. I love to read and have for as long as I can remember; my bookshelves are overflowing, there are piles of books all around my house, I can find a quote from a favourite book for any occasion, and I just can’t stop buying books despite already having  SO MANY that need to be read.

In 2015 I set myself a challenge of reading a certain number of books and failed miserably. In 2016 I set myself a much more realistic goal of reading 25 books, and I’m happy to say I smashed that goal, finishing my 35th book just before New Year’s Eve.

And because I am always curious about what other people are reading, here are the books I read in 2016:

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