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Here is my weekly roundup of the books I’ve read, the books I’m reading, Internet places I’ve visited and quotes that have taken my eye.

Actually – this is my reading month so far – as is the first ‘weekly’ post I have done this year

This week month so far I have finished:

Book: Sanctuary by Judy Nunn (Australian Author)

Genre: Contemporary Australian Fiction

Thoughts: Absolutely fabulous book. Set in Western Australia the story looks at the very topical subject of illegal refugees (boat people as they are called in Australia). I was very worried how the author was going to finish the story – but she did a stellar job. Thoroughly recommend this book.

Book: His to Protect by Elena Aitken

Genre: Paranormal romance

Thoughts: I am into bear shape-changers right now. This is a good romance story – with a bit of drama on the side. Is the first in the series, so will follow up with the others.

Book: Bear’s Mail Order Bride by Candace Ayers

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Thoughts: Yes, I like paranormal romances – and currently going through bear shape-changer ones – but there is a limit to what I will stoop to – and this one reached it. Will not be continuing with the series.

Book: Skyfire by Michael Adams (Australian Author)

Genre: Y/A Science Fiction

Thoughts: Aimed at the younger end of the teen market; this is a fast-paced adventure story. The first of seven books, with seven protagonists from each of the seven continents, seven disasters and seven days to solve the clues and save the world.

Book: Fairway to Heaven by Lily Malone (Australian Author)

Genre: Romance

Thoughts: Nice story set in Western Australia and covers single motherhood, infidelity and friendship. As you can guess from the title, golf is involved – but is not the main focus.

Book: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

Genre: YA Fantasy

Thoughts: Separate review here

My Current reads:

Books I am currently reading, and really enjoying, are:

The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell – Really loving this memoir of Helen Russell’s first year in Denmark. Her husband accepts a job with Lego and as she works from home as a freelance journalist. Moving from London to a small town in Jutland in the middle of winter is quite a culture shock – but the Danes have a secret weapon – Hygge.

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen – Paranormal YA, Teen Cynthia has to save her friends from the new librarian who is young, super cute but also a demon who seems hell bent on sucking the life force out of the entire student body – the book is described as horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor – so far it is fitting the description perfectly.

Merry & Bright: A Christmas Anthology by Fiona Roarke et al – Been plodding through this since Christmas – is an anthology of 9 Christmas themed paranormal romance stories all set in the fictional town of Nocturne Falls. It is my bedside read which is why it’s taking me a while to read. Like all anthologies some short stories are really good – others leave you scratching your head.

Quote/s and links for the week

Links:

These fake book subtitles are hilarious!

http://didyouknowfacts.com/dude-instagram-adding-fake-subtitles-library-books-results-hilarious/?utm_source=HOT-FB-Page&utm_medium=HOT-FB-Page&utm_campaign=HOT-FB-Page

And the shortlist for the “Bad Sex Scene” award for 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/nov/23/bad-sex-award-2017-shortlist-the-contenders-in-quotes

Looking for some good Australian and New Zealand romances? Here’s a list:

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/72020.Romance_in_Australia_New_Zealand_and_or_Australian_New_Zealander_Heroes_and_Heroines#25159746

Quotes:

Only one this week – as it is a long one. Oh OK – it’s an excerpt – but is a good indicator of my current read:

…It all started simply enough. After a few days off work my husband and I were suffering from post-holiday blues and struggling to get back into the swing of things. A grey drizzle had descended on London and the city looked grubby and felt somehow worn out – as did I. ‘There has to be more to life than this…’ was the taunt that ran through my head as I took the tube to the office every day, then navigated my way home through chicken bone-strewn streets twelve hours later, before putting in a couple of hours of extra work or going to events for my job. As a journalist on a glossy magazine, I felt like a fraud. I spent my days writing about how readers could ‘have it all’: a healthy work-life balance, success, sanity, sobriety – all while sporting the latest styles and a radiant glow. In reality, I was still paying off student loans, relying on industrial quantities of caffeine to get through the day and self-medicating with Sauvignon Blanc to get myself to sleep

From The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

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Title: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Author: Cynthia Hand

Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal/Fantasy

Opens: The first thing you should probably know is That Yvonne Worthington Chase is dead

Blurb: Holly Chase has the job of saving souls, but it is her own that she realizes needs examining. On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t. And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company, Project Scrooge, as their latest Ghost of Christmas Past. Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable. But this year, everything is about to change.

My Thoughts: I was asked by the publisher if I would like to read THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE just before Christmas. Looked at the blurb and I immediately thought Christmas Carol spin off, which is a good thing. To cap it off when I received the email I was watching a Muppet Christmas Carol on the TV (as you do) so it seemed like I was meant to read it. And I am so glad I have. Because it is so much more than three ghost visiting a mean old scrooge and then that scrooge turning his/her life around with everything coming up roses. No – Holly ignores the warning and dies. Bummer!

Of course, she doesn’t go to heaven – well she is a bad girl after all – but she doesn’t go to hell either, instead she finds that she is in some sort of half-way house where she is hired as The Ghost of Christmas Past for a company that runs “Project Scrooge.” A new “Scrooge” is found every year and then the team swings into action to encourage the chosen scrooge to change their ways and not die. Lots of research goes on before the big event which takes place each Christmas Eve. As the Ghost of Christmas Past, Holly gets to mind meld with the scrooge to find out what made them like they are.

Holly, our failed scrooge, is a truly unlikable person with no redeeming qualities and totally unrepentant even in death. After five years Holly is still with ‘Project Scrooge’ with no attitude change, she just does her job and feels unjustly treated, and just a little bit lonely. Then Scrooge number 173 is picked – and he is a good looking guy who, once she starts delving into his mind, Holly discovers she has a lot in common with. And after finding that commonality she finally starts to recognise that by saving him she has to admit she might not be a very nice person after all. Can she actually start to hope that she may be able to move on to a better place? Will she find the courage to break all the rules to get there? The author portrays Holly’s growth as a character so well. The Holly on the first page is a whole different person just before THE END.

While Holly is the star of the story – and front and centre all the time. The supporting cast is very good as well and carry her story very ably. There has to be a boss, and of course if there is a ghost of Christmas past there needs to be two more for present and future. As well as the ghosts, there are the tech people and a sweet little work experience PA who is assigned to Holly just as Scrooge 173 is selected.

So that was good, now the grumble. I have to confess it got a bit bogged down for me in the middle – so no I wasn’t glued to every page from beginning to end. There was also a little bit of information dumping – where the characters in the book explained who they were talking about, and what the role was in the story. I understand this would be for those readers who hadn’t read A Christmas Carol so they could follow the action, but I found it a tad annoying. Having said that, they were tiny niggles and THE AFTERLIFE OF HOLLY CHASE is still an above average read and I recommend it to anyone who loves wisecracking YA paranormal and Christmas. I loved the ending – take nothing for granted.

For more about the author – Click Here

C – Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Final Book Stats for 2017

Final Book Stats for 2017

I took a break from my blog and reviewing for most of 2017. However, I was still reading up a storm!!! I am dipping my toe into getting back into reviewing for publishers again – but keeping it to a minimum. I will then do a review if something WOW comes along – and will continue to do my weekly summary posts when I can.

Anyhow, in 2017 I managed to read a colossal total of 198 books.

My top 10 books of the year:

I find this task to be very hard as all my books scream “pick me, pick me!” Then when I make my choice there is ALWAYS a group of sad little books that didn’t make it on the list – lower lips wobbling, tears in their little book eyes, and turning their backs to me! To help alleviate massed misery on my book shelf I have divided my top 10 into two – top 10 books by Australian authors – and top 10 books from the rest of the world.

Top books by International Authors:

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Love, Lies and Linguine by Hilary Spiers

The secrets of midwives by Sally Hepworth

Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil

Year One by Nora Roberts

Top books by Australian Authors:

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss

Three Hours Late by Nicole Trope

The Secrets She keeps by Michael Robotham

The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman

Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns

The Golden Child by Wendy James

A Time to Run by J.M. Peace

Memories of May by Juliet Madison

Secrets between Friends by Fiona Palmer

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns

My top books of the year: (it’s like picking a favourite child)

Australian: The Golden Child by Wendy James

International: The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Statistical Bits and Pieces:

Average number of books per month: 17

April was the highest number of books read (23) and I’m not absolutely sure why as other than a 4 day break for Easter I was very busy. The lowest month for reading books was July (12), this was because I did read a lot of large (over 500 page) books which slowed me up.

Number of ‘new for me’ Authors: 121

This means that 61 % of the books I read during 2017 were by authors I have never read before. Of these, a small handful (4%) will never darken my bookshelf again.

Number of Australian Authors: 54

Roughly 27% of the books I read were by Australian Authors. This is more than last year – I put this down to being a part of an Australian reading group on Goodreads (Aussie Readers) so lots of tips of new for me Aussie authors as we chat.

Author Gender:

Male Authors: 14

Female Authors: 186

For the observant the totals of my Male and Females add up to 2 more than my total number of books – this is because 2 of my male authors co-wrote books with their wives – so each get a mention. I don’t deliberately set out to not read books by male authors – that’s just the way it turned out. – If it’s any consolation gentlemen, male authors take up 10% of my top 10 books.

Genre Break-up

Many of the books I read fall into a couple of genres – so I have only divided them into the main category they come under – so if it is a romance between a Witch and Vampire – it is a paranormal romance – paranormal would be the main genre. My favourite genres are Romance, Mystery (mostly cosy mysteries) and paranormal – of course as with most of my reading this is light and fluffy involving cute werewolves and other shape-changers, sexy vampires, funny witches and the occasional wisecracking ghost.

I’m going to overhaul my genre assigning this year – so this will change.

Historical 18 (The setting is over 50 years previous to current date)

Paranormal 36

Mystery 39

Romance 50

Women’s Fiction 24 (yes, I use this term – I like it, helps me place certain books I love, deal with it)

Science Fiction 2

Fantasy 12

Contemporary 8 (Often means I’m not sure where to place it)

Non-Fiction 2

Horror 1

Adventure 4

Dystopian 2

Out of these 12 main genre:

22 were Young Adult – YA (over 12 years) books, and

2 were classified as Children’s (under 12 years)

My Scoring System:

A – Excellent Stuff – this was a real page-turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author gives me their shopping list, I will certainly read it.

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

C – Above average – it was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

D – Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish whatever redeemable aspects there were to this book, but they were not fleshed out enough for me to truly enjoy it.

E – Let’s not go there – suffice to say it was only finished because I needed it for a book challenge

My complete list of books read during 2017:

A – 48 books

Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss – Historical

Three Hours Late by Nicole Trope – Women’s Fiction

The Secrets She keeps by Michael Robotham – Mystery

The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman – Women’s Fiction

Talk of the Town by Rachael Johns – Romance

The Golden Child by Wendy James – Women’s Fiction

The Twisted Knot by J.M. Peace – Mystery

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon – Fantasy

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – Mystery

The Breakdown by B.A. Paris – Mystery

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – Mystery

Beartown by Fredrik Backman – Contemporary

Apprentice in Death by J.D. Robb – Mystery

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan – Women’s Fiction

Love, Lies and Linguine by Hilary Spiers – Women’s Fiction

Second Form at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton – YA Adventure

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn – Historical Romance

A Highlander’s Obsession by Vonnie Davis – Paranormal Romance

The secrets of midwives by Sally Hepworth – Women’s Fiction

A Time to Run by J.M. Peace – Mystery

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs – Paranormal Mystery

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – YA Fantasy

Her Vigilant SEAL by Caitlyn O’Leary – Romance

Lost Library by Kate Baray – Paranormal Romance

Sunshine Hunter by Maddie Cochere – Cosy Mystery

Water Song: A Retelling of The Frog Prince by Suzanne Weyn – Historical

Ready to Were by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Mystery

Some Were In Time by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Mystery

No Were to Run by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Mystery

Sleepyhead by Mark Billingham – Mystery

The Vampire’s Accidental Wife by Kristen Painter – Paranormal Romance

Scaredy Cat by Mark Billingham – Mystery

Family Secrets by Liz Byrski – Women’s Fiction

Silent Child by Sarah A. Denzil – Mystery

Memories of May by Juliet Madison – Romance

The Shape of Us of Lisa Ireland – Women’s Fiction

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – Historical

Risky Business by Amy Andrews – Romance

Changes by Judith Arnold – Romance

A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt – Romance

The Twins at St Clare’s by Enid Blyton – YA Adventure

Lost and Found Sisters by Jill Shalvis – Women’s Fiction

Secrets Between Friends by Fiona Palmer -Women’s Fiction

Dead Man Talking by Jana Deleon – Paranormal Romance

Miss Frost Cracks a Caper by Kristen Painter – Paranormal Mystery

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns – Women’s Fiction

Year One by Nora Roberts – Fantasy Apocalyptic

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor – Historical

B – 62 books

Kakadu Sunset by Annie Seaton – Mystery Romance

Choral Society by Prue Leith – Women’s Fiction

Looking for Mr. Good Witch by Joyce & Jim Lavene – Paranormal Mystery

A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn – Historical Mystery

The Cauldron’s Gift by Marina Finlayson – Fantasy

Daintree by Annie Seaton – Mystery Romance

Miss Frost Saves the Sandman by Kristen Painter – Paranormal Mystery

Different This Time by Tess McCallum – Romance

Alien Warrior by Sadie Carter – Romance

Autumn’s Dance by Sarah Gai – Romance

Saving Mars by Cidney Swanson – YA Science Fiction

Runaways, Vol. 1: Pride and Joy by Brian K. Vaughan – YA Fantasy

Hex on the beach by Gina LaManna – Paranormal Mystery

Who killed the Bride? By Lily Malone – Romance

In the Shadow of Satellites by Amanda Dick – Romance

Single Dad, Outback Wife by Amy Andrews – Romance

Grimsdon by Deborah Abela – YA Dystopian

Mine till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas – Historical Romance

Footprints in the Frosting by Laura Pauling – Cosy Mystery

No Ifs, Ands, or Bears About It by Celia Kyle – Paranormal Romance

Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie – Cosy Mystery

A Spell of Trouble by Leighann Dobbs – Paranormal Mystery

The Saxon Bride by Ashley York – Historical Romance

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner – Historical Children’s

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – Women’s Fiction

Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham – Romance

Any Witch Way you can by Amanda M Lee – Paranormal Mystery

Little House on the Pararie by Laura Ingalls Wilder – Historical

The House on the Beach by Linda Barrett – Romance

Long and Short Australian Stories by Margaret Lynette Sharp – Romance

For the Love of a God by Rosanna Leo – Paranormal Romance

Murder in Murdoo by Brigid George – Cosy Mystery

Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovitch – Mystery

Sorcery by Terry Prachett – Fantasy

The Dragon finds Forever by Kristen Painter – Paranormal Romance

The Littlest Cowboy by Maggie Shayne – Romance

The Truth about Cats and Wolves by Alethea Kontis – Paranormal Romance Switching Hour by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Mystery

Top-Notch Surgeon, Pregnant Nurse by Amy Andrews – Romance

Dragons of Wendal by Maria E. Schneider – YA Fantasy

Heaven in His Arms by Lisa Ann Verge – Historical Romance

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick – Contemporary

Death by Didgeridoo by Barbara Venkataraman – Cosy Mystery

Just Good Friends by Rosalind James – Romance

Mary’s Christmas Goodbye by Linda Byler – Romance

Dark, Witch & Creamy by H.Y. Hanna – Cosy Mystery

Death at the Café by Alison Golden – Cosy Mystery

Christmas Light by Jolyse Barnett – Romance

A Baby for the Alien Prince by Miranda Martin – Science Fiction Romance

Shield Maiden by Richard Denning – YA Fantasy

Bound for Eden by Tess LeSue – Romance

Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie – YA Fantasy

Upper Fourth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton – YA Adventure

Sweet Dreams Baby by C.J. Carmichael – Romance

Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies – Contemporary

Steam and Sensibility by Kirsten Weiss – YA Historical

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Romance

Sleighed by Harmony Raines – Paranormal Romance

A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham – Women’s Fiction

A Very Country Christmas by Various – Romance

The North Wind by Bronwyn Parry – Romantic suspense

When Birdie Babysat Spider by Kristen Painter – Paranormal romance

C – 47 books

A Zoo in My Luggage by Gerald Durrell – Non-Fiction

Amber by Elizabeth Rose – Historical Romance

The Grass is Greener by Loretta Hill – Women’s Fiction

In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park – Non-Fiction

I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk – Women’s Fiction

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens – YA Mystery

A Monsterous Place by Matthew Stott – YA Horror

Alice-Miranda in Japan by Jacqueline Harvey – Children’s Mystery

Blueburied Muffins by Lyndsey Cole – Cosy Mystery

Intensive Care by Nicki Edwards – Romance

Isla’s Oath by Cassandra Page – YA Fantasy

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown – Women’s Fiction

Chickens, Mules and Two Old Fools by Victoria Twead – Non-Fiction

Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed by Anna Campbell – Historical Romance

Her Accidental Husband by Ashlee Mallory – Romance

Changeling by Philippa Gregory – Paranormal Historical

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer – Non-Fiction

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny – Mystery

Girl with Flying Weapons by Aya Ling – YA Historical

A Woman Transported by Sharon Robards – Historical

Murder Goes to Church by C.D. Jarmola – Mystery

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam – Contemporary YAt

The Unbroken Line of the Moon by Johanne Hildebrandt – Historical

A New York Christmas by Anne Perry – Historical Mystery

Bound To Die by Mak K Han – Mystery

The Outback Doctor’s Surprise Bride by Amy Andrews – Romance

Were me out by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Mystery

Found by Brenda L. Harper – YA Dystopian

Christmas Spirit by Morgana Best – Paranormal Mystery

A sudden Crush by Camilla Isley – Romance

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton – Paranormal Mystery

Tiger Men by Judy Nunn – Historical

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – Women’s Fiction

How to find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry – Women’s Fiction

Captured by the Alien Savage by Marina Maddix – Romance

Haley’s Hangdog Holiday by Tamie Dearen – Romance

Summer Term at St Clare’s by Enid Blyton – YA Adventure

A Knight to Remember by Cynthia Luhrs – Historical Romance

The Turnaround Treasure Shop by Jennie Jones – Romance

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory – Historical

Jogging is bad for Your Health by Cynthia Hickey – Cosy Mystery

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman – Paranormal

Holding by Graham Norton – Mystery

Two steps forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist – Contemporary

A Demon and His Witch by Eve Langlais – Paranormal Romance

All Roar and No Bite by Celia Kyle – Paranormal Romance

Ain’t He Precious? by Juliette Poe – Romance

D – 18 books

Accidental Leigh by Melanie James – Paranormal Mystery

25 Stories of Life and Love in Australia by Margaret L Sharp – Romance

Tell a Thousand Lies by Rasana Atreya – Women’s Fiction

Force of Temptation by Suzanne Wright – Paranormal Romance

Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes – Women’s Fiction

Captive Bride by Johanna Lyndsey – Historical Romance

The Cat who went bump in the night by Angela Pepper – Horror

Wilderness Trail of Love by Dorothy Wiley – Historical Romance

The Blogger and the Hunk by Jane Matisse – Romance

Friends, Family & Other Strangers from Downunder by Liza Perrat – Contemporary

The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnicliffe – Women’s Fiction

To Catch a Bad Guy by Marie Astor – Mystery

Wimmera by Mark Brandi – Mystery

Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith – Romance

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead by Christiana Miller – Paranormal Mystery

Scotland by Starlight by Nancy Volker – Romance

Death of a ghost by M.C. Beaton – Cosy Mystery

Jake & The Gingerbread Wars by E.G. Foley – Children’s Fantasy

E – 23 books

The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury – Non-Fiction

Booty Camp Dating Service by Debra Anastasia – Contemporary

The Corpse with the Silver Tongue by Cathy Ace – Cosy Mystery

Desperate Housedogs by Sparkle Abbey – Cosy Mystery

Naughty Boss by Whitney G. – Romance

Jasmine moon murder by Laura Childs – Cosy Mystery

The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley – Historical

Mother of All by Heather Marie Adkins – Paranormal Mystery

The Onesies: Fall by Janet Brown – Women’s Fiction

Getting Old Is Murder by Rita Lakin – Cosy Mystery

Siren Call by Kimberly Llewellyn – Paranormal Mystery

Australia Day by Melanie Cheng – Contemporary

Queen of America by T.J. Slee – Historical

Still Life with Murder by P.B. Ryan – Historical Mystery

Blessed are the cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch – Romance

Destination Dachshund by Lisa Fleetwood – Non-Fiction

Joy Cometh with the mourning by Dave Freer – Cosy Mystery

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka – Mystery

Other People’s Baggage by Lynn Kendel et al – Cosy Mystery

Frey by Melissa Wright – YA Fantasy

Dance of the Winnebagos by Ann Charles – Cosy Mystery

Witch Glitch by Robyn Peterman – Paranormal Romance

The North Pole Challenge by Kevin George – YA Fantasy

Title: The Runaway Children

Author: Sandy Taylor

Genre: Historical

Opens: Although it was spring, it was freezing cold sitting on the stone steps leading up to our flat.

Blurb: London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead? As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

My Thoughts: THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN is narrated by Nell and although she is 13 at the start the story spans 4 years and both she, and her sister have to do a lot of growing up fast. Being the eldest child Nell has a huge amount of responsibility taking care of her younger brother and sister. However, when a new baby arrives Nell realises that worrying about four children is detrimental to her mum’s health so agrees to be evacuated to the country. Her brother refuses to go and runs off just as the train is leaving so it is just Nell and her 5-year-old sister Olive who head for the country. I loved Olive – she was a plucky little girl who swore like a trooper and had a mouth that just ran away with her – she made me really laugh out loud at times.

The girls are sent to Wales and settle very happily with a minister and his wife. But fate gets in the way and the girls have to go to another placement and this one is terrible. It is from this place that the girls flee and decide to head back to London.

It is very obvious that Sandy Taylor has done a study of the plight of the evacuees and she shows the mixed fortunes of the refugee children and how some were lucky with who they moved in with, and others were not so lucky and placed into situations where they were abused. The organisers who placed the children into care were so overwhelmed by the numbers of children they had to place that they did little more than drop them off at the front door and often not follow up on how the children were going.

This was a really, good story and no matter how bad things got the majority of humans pulled together and helped each other out. The closeness of the girl’s London neighbours was a prime example – when the bombs started dropping you all got each into the shelter and then kept each other’s spirits up. In fact wherever the girls went – in that time of war – people pulled together , with a few exceptions. THE RUNAWAY CHILDREN was my first Sandy Taylor book and she has been contracted to write more books for Bookouture Publishing – so while I wait for those I have the Brighton Girls trilogy to catch up on.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night.

With thanks to Bookouture and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Here is my weekly roundup of the books I’ve read, the books I’m reading, Internet places I’ve visited and quotes that have taken my eye.

 

This week I have finished:

Book: Sleighed by Harmony Raines

Genre: Christmas Paranormal Romance

Thoughts: A fun little fluffy paranormal romance with a Christmas theme. A werebear meets his mate – a Christmas elf – when she literally falls out of the sky. This is the first in the ‘Christmas Bear’ series and I am glad I liked it because I have them all!!!

Book: A Demon and His Witch by Eve Langlais

Genre: Paranormal Romantic suspense

Thoughts: Another light and fluffy paranormal romance – but missed the mark for me – there are more in the series but I don’t think at this stage I will be reading any more

Book: Year One by Nora Roberts

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fantasy

Thoughts: Separate review here

 

My Current reads:

Books I am currently reading, and really enjoying, are:

A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham – a feel good Christmas book, Ivy and Stuart have moved to the Cornish coast. After many miscarriages Ivy is finally pregnant and they are daring to hope this time all will be well.

The Runaway Children by Sandy Taylor – Set in WWII England two young sisters are sent into the British country to escape the Blitz. Things don’t go well and now the two girls are trying to get home.

A Very Country Christmas by Various – Australian authors Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman have each written a short story set at Christmas – a peek into how Aussies bring tinsel to the outback, the coast and the city.

 

Quote/s and links for the week

Links:

Sixty-two of the most beautiful libraries in the world:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/51788/62-worlds-most-beautiful-libraries

I had the good fortune to visit the library at Melk Abbey last year – the oldest book on display is dated from 988:

http://www.stiftmelk.at/englisch/Pages_melk/library.html

Quotes:

So, despite the indignity, as Pepper gathered up the reins, and called out ‘On Dasher, on Barnabas’, he rose to the challenge and become the first bear to pull Santa’s sleigh. Not quite what he’d spent all his professional life wanting to be recognized for. But with magic dust on his skin, his blood thrummed in his veins in a primal beat, and he opened his mouth and roared to the sky.

From Sleighed by Harmony Raines

…“I know it’s not the right thing to say to a lady, miss, but you are sweating like a pig!”

“My mother always said that horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies merely glow…”

“Is that so? Well, miss, you are glowing like a pig!” …

From I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

Welcome to Hell, where the living conditions went beyond crowded, the job sucked, and the pay sucked even worse. It was like living in, well, Hell

From: A Demon and His Witch by Eve Langlais

Year One by Nora Roberts

Title: Year One

Author: Nora Roberts

Genre: Post-apocalyptic Fantasy

Opens: When Ross MacLeod pulled the trigger and brought down the pheasant, he had no way of knowing he had killed himself. And billions of others.

Blurb: The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed—and more than half of the world’s population was decimated. Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magic rose up in its place. Some of it is good, some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river—or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travellers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three new born infants in their care alive. In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a saviour, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

My Thoughts: Anyone who picks this up expecting one of Nora Roberts usual paranormal romances is going to be very surprised, maybe disappointed. I am reading reviews where people are saying it is a bad book because they feel cheated – come on poor excuse for a bad review – there is enough evidence around, even interviews given by the author, to give you a hint that this is totally different. YEAR ONE is dark, very dark – and good people die – but the story kept me glued to the pages for the most part. The parts I didn’t stay glued? When the icky bits happened. Icky bits? Come on – it’s the end of the world – organised law keeping has gone – it’s every man, woman and child for themselves. When Ross MacLeod killed the pheasant it landed on sacred ground – not sacred nice, but sacred evil and this action is the signal for the dark forces to escape and start to make the world theirs. How quickly ‘The Doom,’ as it becomes known, spreads is very, very feasible. A sick man and his sick wife spread the infection to other people as they travel from London to New York – very quickly millions of people get infected as each of the new victims carry their germs around the world as they fly hither and thither.

Jonah the paramedic, Arlys the reporter, Lana the chef and Max the novelist are the main characters in this first book, each of them immune, not all of them with powers. They gradually form up with other people as they all decide to get out of New York until, inevitably, they all join together just a bit past halfway through. I’m not sure why I said inevitably, because nothing is a certainty and there are a few twists and turns until the reader is brought to the end of book one. An ending which leaves the reader knowing that although things look for good now – it is going to get a whole lot worse – and the characters know it.

YEAR ONE is the scene setter, the world is falling apart and the characters are trying to work out their place in this new world. And the descriptions of the world’s descent into chaos is amazing, and those who live violently quickly come out into the open with no fear of repercussions, and fall under the influence of the dark without even being aware. So many horrible things happen, actions done by people are horrific –without even the dark magic influencing them – they are just psychopaths. There is a strong thread of magic, but it is part of the story stopping just short of enough to call it a fantasy. The magical elements are a result of the fall as people who had no idea they had this element now have it. The characters discuss among themselves how, and why, it is happening. But like the reader they have no answers – it just is.

There are still unanswered questions at the end of the book, but seeing as it is the first in a trilogy this did not come as a surprise. There is no cliff-hanger at the end, which I liked, but the world is splitting into good and evil – which I think would happen despite a magical element – and it is obvious that strong good magic is going to be needed to defeat the bad.

Whatever path Ms Roberts is going to take us down with this story in the next two books I feel that readers should be complacent – I for one am really looking forwards to travelling them with her.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night.

With thanks to Hachette Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Here is my weekly roundup (well fortnightly in this instance) of books I’ve read, books I’m reading, Internet places I’ve been and quotes I liked. And as it is also the end of the month – I have listed all the books that I have read during November at the end.

This week I have finished:

Book: The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns

Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction

Thoughts: This is one of my top reads this year – Rachael Johns is an Australia author who writes 5-star romances as well more meaty Contemporary Fiction – this is meaty, very meaty – it is to do with infertility and egg donation and the story plunged me to the depths of despair forcing me to reach for tissues and put it down and take a break to calm down. After despair, though, comes hope. And gradually the reader is brought back to normal emotions again – and, like the characters, learn to laugh again. Very well researched, the depth of ‘realness’ of the characters is outstanding, as was my involvement in the story – I was totally absorbed. Rachael also managed to avoid a clichéd resolution and came up with an innovative way to close the story. Every time I read one of her books I think this is the best ever she can’t top this – and then she does!!!

Book: Steam and Sensibility by Kirsten Weiss

Genre: YA Historical Steampunk

Thoughts: I had a reading challenge task that asked me to read a book with the word sensibility in it. None of the 400 odd books on my physical and electronic TBR piles fitted the instruction so I googled the word Sensibility in the Goodreads search engine and came up with this title. So off to Amazon I went and soon had it downloaded. I loved it – a really good story and Sensibility had a lot of growing up to do.

Book: Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Contemporary Christmas Romance

Thoughts: I read Macomber’s Christmas release every year – I know what to expect and I am NEVER disappointed. The two Main Characters are Merry and Bright she is Merry and he is Mr. Bright. As usual there are reasons the two dislike each other – but gradually they realise they actually do like each other and they have to figure out how to overcome the circumstances to reach their happy ever after. Aaaaahhh!

My Current reads:

Books I am currently reading, and really enjoying, are:

Year One by Nora Roberts – 1st in a new trilogy – a breakaway from her usual work – this is not a romance, and is not a mystery, instead it is a post-apocalyptic novel with strong fantasy coming in once the world as we know it has ended.

A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham – Set in Cornwall in the UK at Christmas, all very good reasons why I am reading it. It is also a really good story!!

A Very Country Christmas by Various – Australian authors Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman have each written a short story set at Christmas – a peak into how Aussies bring tinsel to the outback, the coast and the city.

Quote/s and links for the week

Links:

This week I am sharing some new blogs that I found and am now following

Map your Mystery – Where in the world does your crime take place? Christine takes her followers mainly around the United States, but other parts of the world occasionally with the settings in the cozy mysteries she reads:

http://mapyourmystery.com/

Christmas is coming – so time to get your seasonal reads in order! Here are some suggestions for you:

https://helenafairfax.com/2017/11/18/ten-classic-christmas-books-for-readers-of-all-ages/

Quotes:

"…Books are like comfort food without the calories…"

From Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

“…You know if it’d been three wise women searching for the newborn babe, they would have asked for directions much sooner, found the stable, swept it out, and had a meal waiting by the time Mary and Joseph arrived….”

From Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber,

November Summary

All the books I read in November, in the order I read them:

Upper Fourth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton – Young Adult (YA) Adventure

Oracles of Delphi Keep by Victoria Laurie – YA Historical Fantasy Adventure

Miss Frost Cracks a Caper by Kristen Painter – Mystery Paranormal

Two steps forward by Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist – Contemporary

Sweet Dreams Baby by C.J. Carmichael – Romance

The North Pole Challenge by Kevin George – YA Fantasy

Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies – Women’s Fiction Contemporary

The Greatest Gift by Rachael Johns – Women’s Fiction

Steam and Sensibility by Kirsten Weiss – YA Steampunk Historical Paranormal

Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber – Romance

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Book Reviews Focusing on Audiobooks

Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

Supporting and promoting books by Australian women

Australian Rural Romance

Contemporary & Historical Rural Fiction

Cleopatra Loves Books

One reader's view

Rachael Johns

romance fiction - red dust to big smoke

Devoted Eclectic

...reading, writing and reflecting

Lauren Keegan Writer

Writer. Reader. Psychologist.

All The Books I Can Read

1 girl....2 many books!

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