All the Good Parts

All the Good PartsAll the Good Parts by Loretta Nyhan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leona is 39, a nursing student close to gaining her degree and living in the basement of her sister Carly’s house whilst helping her bring up her four children. In her opinion, and that of everyone around her, her life is drifting by and she doesn’t have much to show for it. Then her gynaecologist asks a question that sets her world spinning – does she want to have a baby or not because time is running out.
Carly and her husband Donal have four children and a problem with the Immigration Department. Leona’s home-health care clients have their own issues that she tries to help them with varying degrees of success, and the friend Leona makes via her online course doesn’t seem quite so straight forward.
This book doesn’t rely on trite answers and its not all wrapped up neatly with a bow on top. What I loved about this book is that it wasn’t an instalove romance. Instead it is a story of a woman being challenged by those around her as to her motivation for wanting a baby (the old justification question) and the fact she has no boyfriend, in fact almost no men in her life to speak of, to ask if they would donate to the cause.
This book tells a great story of a woman really searching for meaning in her life, finding her place in the world. The side characters are real and strongly drawn, the situation relatable and the ending is unexpected but left open enough to write a follow up novel.
This is a highly satisfying read.

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The Pen and the Brush: How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French NovelsThe Pen and the Brush: How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels by Anka Muhlstein
translated by Adriana Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book looks at the relationship between 19th and 20th century French writers and artists, looking closely at their relationship to each other as individuals and how writers used the painters creations in their own works of art.
To read this book successfully one really needs a working familiarity of French literature and art of the time period explored. It is taken as a given that the reader has such a knowledge base, and without which, the reading can be difficult and confusing. The first three chapters were lost on this particular reader, not having the knowledge of Belzac to make sense of the findings. The book came into its own from the forth chapter and beyond as my knowledge base of the art came into focus. It is also from the forth chapter that occasional examples of said artwork is given in a pictorial manner, which was really helpful.
It is a mere slip of a book at around 200 pages, meaning there is little in the way of superfluous waffle. The book highlighted the extent of connection between French writers and artists, and how they provided one another with inspiration. It is an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about the period for both literature and art.

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Custom Baked Murder

Custom Baked Murder (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery #5)Custom Baked Murder by Liz Mugavero

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kristan (Stan) Connor lives in a Little Town USA and is getting ready to open her first store, selling organic treats for dogs and cats. She has a fabulous boyfriend who owns the towns popular pub (Jake) and they have just moved in together, sharing four dogs and two cats between them. Blissful life right? Except where Stan is concerned, dead bodies keep turning up.
This time its at her mothers engagement party. Lots of suspects are scattered throughout the book, as well as family drama to keep the overall story arc moving. Of course, you never suspect who the real killer is or their motivation for the crime.
There are many hints to previous books and activities but it never impedes on your ability to read this book as a stand alone piece. It was fun; a happy to fill in a cold winters night read. I appreciate that Liz Mugavero named some real animal shelters that do great work saving animals lives a shout out and that she gave a few great animal treat biscuit recipes at the end of the novel.
Sounds like a good series.

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Cancer: A Journey’s End

Cancer: A Journey's EndCancer: A Journey’s End by Prashant Naik

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The overwhelming feeling that this book leaves behind is that it not a book that has been finely honed until it became a literary masterpiece, but rather this is one bloke telling us his story. In fact, at times it reads like someone recorded a public speaking engagement and had transcribe the speech to become the piece.
Prashant Naik tells the story of how his wife Tanvi was diagnosed with breast cancer and the journey they took as a couple trying to find a cure for her. It starts by giving a brief background as to how they met, their marriage and how the next fourteen years sailed by meeting all the expected outcomes. Then the story proper begins, from the first signs of concern to the diagnosis and the medical treatment that Tanvi would undergo. He writes about tough situations such as Tanvi coping with the loss of her hair (a difficult situation for many women,) the constant fatigue and just how painful radiation treatment can be. He never white washes his wife’s journey, sharing openly the emotional outbursts, the desperation and the struggles she went through as the cancer progressed and her life became more and more out of control.
Central to this book and journey was Prashant and Tanvi’s religious faith., Often the book will speak of their beliefs and their complete reliance on God. Although never quoting Scripture directly, there is no doubt as to their Christian faith. This could be right up your alley or it could be a huge deterrent, depending upon your own personal beliefs or views.
This reads like a self published book. It lacks the finesse of a piece of work that has been edited until it is without mistake. It is a simple book giving one couples journey through a terrible ordeal to other people. But underneath this story is the unwavering and certainty of faith. This reads like a testimony rather than a biography.
This book will appeal to Christian audiences primarily.

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Me Before You

Me Before You (Me Before You, #1)Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Well it finally came that it was my turn to read this book from the library, but I’m guessing that I was crying for a very different reason to most.
Louisa Clark has done pretty much nothing with her life. Never having left home, same job and boyfriend for years and nothing towards bettering herself in the meantime. She unexpectedly becomes unemployed and after a few non-starters she is given a six month contract to be a companion to Will Trainor, who after leading a very active and successful life now finds himself a quadriplegic after a road accident. From the get-go it appears that he hates her and she isn’t really sure of what she is doing. But gradually the snarking stops and a grudging respect and then friendship begins. But then Louisa overhears a private conversation and her view of the future is altered irrevocably. She has four months to changes Will’s mind on his plan for the future, which entails him not having a future at all. Long story short, Lousia fails and Will goes ahead with his plan for assisted suicide. Its at this point that I’m sure buckets of tears have been shed I am sure.
But here’s the issue I have with this book. I get that the book is Pro Choice, but I found Will to be a selfish individual who, for want of a better description, was having a hissy fit over the cards life had dealt him and he refused to learn to live life another way from the one he thought he was entitled to. He was aware that his family didn’t support his decision and yet he went through with it anyway. I found the whole storyline of Will thinking he couldn’t live like this (disabled) distasteful. It smacks of saying that a disabled life isn’t a life worth living. Will had a privileged life and was frustrated that his life was no longer what he expected. I get that the level of frustration at how altered his life was was a bitter pill to swallow, but it seemed as if he had made his choice to die in the middle of a very black depression. And I hope that he wouldn’t actually be accepted as a candidate for assisted suicide because of the depression he was in when he went through the selection process.
This book is well written, with enough emotional swings to keep you on your toes, but in the end, I just didn’t like the message that it was selling. Life, in all its forms and variances should be cherished, because life truly is a miracle.

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Spring Fever

Spring Fever (Tales From Appleyard Book 2)Spring Fever by Emma Davies

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Normally my heart sinks when I see that I’ve picked a title in a series and its not the first one. It can be very hit or miss in regards to how enjoyable a book is if it relies too much on prior knowledge. Thankfully this book, whilst indeed being the second book in the series, gives enough hints to what happened in the first book to understand most of the references given in the second book.
Merry and Tom are the perfect example of a couple with ambition. Not content with having a newborn daughter, they’ve bought a house with a shop front that needs renovating and creating from the ground up. Their friends Freya and Sam are newly engaged and are working in their apple orchard. This book focuses on these two couples with a couple of minor characters thrown in. Also at one point the whole village to which they live in is a central plot line of the book.
The climax of the book is a little confusing in its execution but on the whole a nicely paced story with enough ups and downs to ensure that you want to continue with the Appleyard series. This is, quite simply, a cosy read to enjoy in a day. Its not going to change the world or how you view it, but it is going to offer you great entertainment, and sometimes that’s all you want.

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Up the Seine Without a Paddle

Up the Seine Without a Paddle (The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw Book 2)Up the Seine Without a Paddle by Eliza Watson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had really high hopes for this book; romance story I the City of Light? I’m an easy mark. Unfortunately this book just didn’t quite hit its target in me. The so-called romance fluttered between off and on and there was too much knowledge needed from the previous book in the series to make the second book something that could stand alone.
Caity Shaw apparently has a job that she is underqualified for as an Event Planner – how she got this job is explained in the first book, and she has a love hate relationship with her co-worker Declan who is apparently ‘hot’ and in between her job as the stand in nanny rather than event planning for her uber rich client she is researching something of her grandmothers past that threatens to tear Caity’s family apart.
Something that I did appreciate in this book was that it looked at the topic of domestic violence and the long term affects it has on a survivor. This was handled really well, as Caity’s moods and reactions swinging like a pendulum was very true to life.
This book has a lot of potential but doesn’t make the grade as a stand alone. I’m fairly certain that if I read the first book I would have a much more positive experience with this novel. Its quite easy to see this as an ongoing series that must be read in order to fully appreciate the storyline. Watson writes in an engaging manner and at times pulled off some good comedy with the main character. A great second book to read after the first, “Flying by the Seat of My Knickers.”

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