Saturday, 28 December 2019

Book Review - Her Mothers Secret - Natasha Lester



Book Review by Pauline Reid 🔥 Her Mothers Secret by Natasha Lester
.

What This Book Is About
Setting - Sutton Verny, England, November 1918.
.
We jump into the first chapter with Leonora and Joan, conversing about how to make mascara, back then soap flakes and vaseline made it too gooey.  Now these two were friends, Joan, a nurse, Australian, Leonora (Leo for short) works with her Dad who is the pharmacist.
.
So introducing .... Harold East, Leo's Dad.  Both Harold and Leo live on the premises.  You see, grief had struck Harold when his wife died giving birth ... his appetite, floundered, the war had made it differcult with rationing.
.
The war was near ending but the Spanish flu was also on the arise.
.
Bells rang and rang and people came out laughing that the war was over,  things were left that day, cows were not milked, breakfasts uneaten.
.
The next day there was a knock at the door of the East residents.  Leo opened the door to find not one, but many facing her.  The Spanish flu had spread. Time, there was no time as Leo's father also developed the dreaded lurgy, like a fever running a race it won in the end.  The father, dead, living was just a faint memory.  Leo's father left a small fortune so Leo decided to go to New York to find herself.
.
Before she even got to New York, infact even before she left the country an incident occurred which resulted in Leo meeting Everett ... and this was the start of a passion, a love like no other, a smouldering between two that was going to make wildfires and fires of destruction,  however, now on a ship, there was a wildfire brewing, in the shape of Mattie, she was sharp, she burned and if you looked and crossed her you would crumble into ashes and smoulder.... Mattie had family flames and together ... well, you can imagine the uncontrollable flames and flesh burning .... and we haven't even got to New York yet.  So how are things going to work out? .... is leadership sorely needed by Everett that much?   Is the family of flames going to erupt into a fire frenzy .... with the fire brigade trying to douse it down?   It will be interesting to see just how things pan out.
.
Then there is the cosmetic side, the business side of Leo, with her knowledge of a few ingredients she used to meddle with at her fathers chemist, could she apply these and more in a place like New York?
.
talking about cosmetics 
Quote
"Because if I want it and you want it and other women want it, then why can't we find it anywhere?"
.
My Thoughts On This Book
Firstly I want to say a very belated thank you for Hachettenz for giving me the ARC of Her Mothers Secret in exchange for an honest review .....This is my first introduction to Natasha Lester's writing and I'm very impressed.  I really got into the cosmetic side of it and was quite intrigued by the science behind it all and I had no idea how lipstick was made and I could quite understand how this could become an issue of a new introduction of new material back in those days... after the war when products were scarce.
.
Natasha explained this very well, and I understood quite plainly.  Gosh, I learnt alot about lipstick.  "Using carnauba wax, one of the hardest setting waxes, but also has softening properties and doesnt cause rashes".
.
Interesting to see how this era copes with "pregnant woman" ... that need to be shut away for no one to see for months on end... it was a bit of an eye opener.  Boy, it made me realise how the times have changed for the better, thank goodness.
.
I learnt alot from this book, for example ... the classes of distinction between, the high society high rich party goers that are never to be seen wearing the same dress twice and drinking only champagne.
.
I was totally fascinated by a drink that Everett seemed to have, curiosity got the better of me and I had to Google, Old Fashioned .... this is what it said ....- The Old Fashioned is one of the most venerable of cocktails, predating not only the motorcar but the presidency of Abe Lincoln. All it takes is serving whiskey, sugar, bitters and, if you like, a cherry or orange garnish on the rocks.
.
This book is so full of plot twists, love, historical facts, bitter sweet moments, sadness ... never guessing what was comming next.  

Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
.
Recommendation
Comming very highly recommended by me, it held my interest over the busy Christmas which I was not distracted once over.  Please try this book if you are interested in Historical Fiction, America, Fashion in the 1920s, Cosmetics, but more lipsticks, bonus read if you like red lipstick, if you are interested in the high Society roaring 20s era, if you like Ballet, and if you like tormented souls and a main character that keeps on getting punched below the belt, blow after blow, yet getting up every single time just in the name of love.

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Currently Reading - Her Mothers Secret - Natasha Lester




Currently Reading - Her Mothers Secret - Natasha Lester
.
Blurb copy and pasted via Goodreads 
.

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.
 


.
📋  NB from Pauline - I was given an ARC from HachetteNZ way back in 28 March 2017.
I was disappointed at the time that I couldn't display the "full cover" .... however better late than never, right? 

Friday, 20 December 2019

Book Review - The Consequence of Stars - A Memoir of Home - David W. Berner.



Book Review by Pauline Reid

THE CONSEQUENCE OF STARS 
A Memoir of Home By David W. Berner
.
What This Book Is About.
This is a memoir, but set out more of a story telling book.  We get to hear about the authors Mum and Dad and how his parents were bought up ... ..  the second chapter, The Runaway ... when the author himself at the age of 7, decided to leave home, leaving a trial of devastation and sadness but actually causing the opposite effect to his Mum... and then going back because he remembered he needed a bit of money.... there is a bit more chit chat goes on and then the author delves into (dont know how old, but by this time he has had kids of his own,  been divorced and a new woman on the scene) going back to see the house he had grown up in... the author talks his way through his life with many adventures... he travels to Paris...Notre Dame ....and talks briefly of the experiences there...oh, and speaking of places, we also discover the author once was a landlord and tells us, not so much the tenants he meets, but stuff that would go wrong .... silverfish being the last incident that drove him ... not blindly like Lasik Surgery.... but to a sudden holt.
.

My Thoughts On This Book.
Thank you to the Author for a free copy given go me via Twitter, in exchange for an honest review.  Yes, alot goes on in this book and written in a style that's more of story telling, instead of dates, facts and figures.  The story telling was quite entertaining , but it jumped around a bit ....  although I have read the odd memoir or 3 ...I  do prefer the more traditional memoir style..... however in saying that, this book was still a facinating read .
.
There are definitely life lessons ....  but as we know, only you know what they mean, everyones been through something different.   One little story I have to tell that plays homage in the life lesson department   ... and one very risky one that had my alarm bells ringing ...was, when the author had Lasik Surgery and decided to drive home, unaided  ... which I thought was the most stupidist and idiotic thing to do .. you will have to read for yourself how the author got out of that one.
.
Although a male author wrote this book, it wasn't too much of a "blokey-bloke" book.
.
The ending was just perfect and it rounded up the story in such good taste.
.
Rating System
⭐⭐⭐⭐  4 Stars.
.
Recommendation 
I would recommend this book, to anyone who isn't worried about a traditional styled memoir, who doesn't mind a bit of swearing in their books......   trigger warning  ❌, who doesn't mind the mention of drugs and alcohol in their books... although mentioned, not too deeply written....  and anyone who wants a light, easy, entertaining read.

Monday, 16 December 2019

Quote - The Treasure - Ellen Read


Quote - The Treasure - Ellen Read

Matilda threw some grain onto the ground for the chickens. A smile flitted across her lips at the thought that she’d saved these last six chickens from the oaf’s mad obsession with collecting feathers.
.
📸 taken  at Taitua Arboretum, sort of in Hamilton, where there are free range hens every where, it's very eerie there because all you can hear, are the roosters saying ... cockle doodle doo .. to each other, one replying, one answering.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Book Review - The Treasure - Ellen Read






Book Review by Pauline Reid 🔥 The Treasure by Ellen Read
.
Genre - Novelette/YA/NA Fantasy 
Set in .... Medieval Times ... A castle, and secret garden and treasure to be found... two villages fight, but come together.
.
What This Book Is About ....
We meet Matilda, she hasn't had the best of life.... we meet her at the beginning of the story with a wicked Step-Father, called Oaf.  Oaf is the domineering kind, that doesn't know how to be kind.  
.
The story picks up when Matilda is 17 ... and we hear how Matilda acquired a bad leg, how her real father died, and what happened to her mother..... to top it all off, Oaf has an18 year old son, who Matilda secretly nick named  ... Peacock.  
.
Peacock was as useless as Oaf and both, Oaf and Peacock left Ethel the cook to play Mum to Matilda.
.
Oaf and Peacock spent much time in the dungeon, the rest of the staff were treated like slaves, beatings and cruelty to anyone who didn't tow the line.... even Matilda didn't come unscathed during the years.
.
Feathers and Wax were the obsession in the dungeon, as Peacock wanted to fly, but to fly where to?  And how was he going to make such a contraption?
.
Matilda, had a little escaping place, that the Oaf and the Peacock knew nothing about, but not only that, she fell upon some treasure... the path leading to where?   Left? Right?  or off the curb with a thud? 
.
.
My Thoughts On This Book
I am Ellen Reads ARC reader/reviewer/supporter  .....  and ... just let's say ....well, Ellen Read has done it again.... to top it all off and rounding up 2019 ... we have .... The Treasure.  Ellen Read is a genius in her own right.... we have a bit of a surprise as we open the book......   a lovely illustration that sits beautifully with book.
.
A bit of a plot twist, Ellen's wittiness and her ability to have the knack to show what, greed and cruelty  is, yet ending with love, peace and hope.  Just the right balance.... it also has a very favourable end.
.
I can't tell you what my favourite part of the story was, due to giving too much of the book away.
.
Ellen Read explains before the story begins what inspired her to write this. Her general interest in Greek Mythology played a major role and a poem she had written.... merging them both together.
.
I found a new word -  Celandine - a common plant of the buttercup family which produces yellow flowers in the early spring (Google)
.
 So just to recap briefly, the main character, Matilda, has gone through terrible hardship, badly treated by her step-father, a physical ailment that has made her walking tricky  .... but with most  characters like this, they fall upon a golden treasure trove... bringing  love, peace and joy.
.
Rating System
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars
.
Recommendation 
This comes highly recommended by me and would suit, anyone interested in Young Adult or New Adult fantasy fiction, anyone who is into Greek Mythology, anyone who likes novelettes (longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella) anyone who likes strong characters, particularly females, anyone who likes Medieval times, anyone who likes secret gardens.... and anyone who wants a positive message in their story.....  this is a free novelette than can be downloaded from Ellen Reads website......
  https://ellenread.com/           ..... under free short story.

Friday, 13 December 2019

Book Review - Love The Gift - Ellen Read


Book Review by Pauline Reid 🔥 Love The Gift by Ellen Read
.
Grief....... it comes to us all, at some point in time and with Mark it was no different.    It was 4 years, Mark had decided to take a trip to see his best friend, Beth, a friend he has had since University days.  Beth had emailed Mark inviting him to stay in the Sutton Forest.  Due to the grief he was harbouring over his mother, he wasn't sure whether to go or not, but he knew that Beth would push him to go, so go he did.
.
Beth operated 'The Magnolias' which is built on 20 hectares, a Georgian House, that had been turned into a boutique hotel and spa.  'The Magnolias' was so full that Mark ended up in a woman's bedroom, but not anyones bedroom, this was Charlotte's room, who had died over 100 years ago, no one had slept in it since and this bedroom wasn't open to the public.  As he was settling in he noticed a painting of a lady on the wall.  Beth was proud to announce  that it is her great great-aunt, Charlotte. Her last days were spent in her bedroom  and in a walled garden, she explained.
.
What was the mystery behind the painting that was beckoning Mark?  Was he seeing and feeling things that were real?  or was it all a surreal dream?
.
I don't know how many times I have re-read Love The Gift, and everytime it springs up surprises that burst into glorious revelations.  Ellen Read, to me, is the only author that has a knack of weaving a story into a whole different dimension, you feel transported to the place Ellen wants you in and places you in a comfortable array of showered goodness, words gently fall down into your soul and you feel quite at peace.  This wont be the last time I read this, and I hope the flow of writing from Ellen will continue like a babbling brook wanting to be seen.
.
 I do highly recommend this novella.  There is an important life lesson revealed nearer the end of the novella.  Ellen has used the characters well to reveal what grief is, and how to deal with it.  I loved Ellens approach to it  and how she addresses it ........so if you like novellas, Australian history and Australian places in your books, a look at grief and how people react towards it, life lessons, time slip stories and  romance then,  this ones for you.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Quote - Love The Gift





Quote
Love The Gift
Ellen Read

The stone wall was at her back, a door in the wall on her left and bluebells grew on either side of the seat.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Currently Reading - Love The Gift - Ellen Read




Love The Gift
Ellen Read
.
Novella  
Ebook only
.
Can a woman who has been dead for over one hundred years help Mark come to terms with the grief he feels over his mother’s death and find the woman he’s always loved?

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Book Review - The Boy In The Burgundy Hood by Steve Griffin



Book Review by Pauline Reid  🔥   The Boy In The Burgundy Hood by Steve Griffin.
.
What This Book Is About
Alice Deaton had a new job, in a medieval manor house, 700 years old,  owned by the Trust of England ... she was now ...boss.... the property manager.... this is ... Bramley. The owners (or-kind-of-not-really-owners).. the S-J's who are in their 60s, they didn't have the funds or energy to keep Bramley clean or tidy....  so 
.
Alice went through the house, stopping and admiring certain aspects of the interior with great detail, until .... welll she thinks she saw a glimpse of a boy, a boy with the burgundy hood ... no, she was certain she did.... however she kept going, scanning the different sites of the oldie worldly house, getting aquinted to old pieces of furniture and paintings that reminded her of her mother, until she ended up outside to meet the gardener, George, who has special needs, so Alice had to guess what he was saying ... you know how you do? The game..... charades?  This all proved too much for Alice ... ‘Yes, we’ll get a pen and paper next time,’ she said.
.
On we go to finding alot of treasures at Bramley, until she finds the painting ... a painting of a woman and a cow..... and then strange things happen with the phone, and then another phone, but this was different, but I'm not going to explain here .... because Steve Grffin, the author, goes into quite a conversational piece, about ... this phone-to-be-precise-bloody-cell-phone..... and certain weird scratches on the fireplace.
.
We do actually get to meet the S-J's .... a very odd couple, try hards, and expressions to match, for example, and giving a quote here .... "His eyebrows did that funny thing she’d noticed at the interview, lifting and dropping from left to right like a caterpillar."  ........   ok, did anyone try that, like I did? 😊   .....  and then there was the amusement over THE tapestry, what was it .... ahhhhhh, I can't tell you that, Steve Griffin, the Author,  will though.
.
We then read about Alice sleeping in her room and there is someone in the room, now this so called girl wasn't the type of stranger you would want to meet in the dark..... but .... Ghostbusters ❌ .... who are you gonna call?
..... So how does Alice handle the ghost ❌  .... does she don her proton pack?   And wave her Neutrona Wand?
.
.... well that's all a teaser and there is plenty more comming up, when I write this I'm only a quarter way through, so if you want to see where this is leading... I don't know myself, so I had better get on with it and see whether Alice the ghost buster turns into, Alice in Wonderland.
.
.

What I Thought About This Book
This is not only a ghost story, but a mystery of something hidden that Alice finds herself delving into that involved a secret door, plus alot of art-gallery-paintings ... one in particular which I wont mention as I don't want to spoil the surprise, plus learning how to clean tapestry (which I knew nothing about, which was very facinating) and because of my love of vintage furniture, there is plenty to satisfy my taste and to top it off a holiday in the Lake District 😍  and even Roman mythology..... however, in saying all this, THIS-IS-A-DARK-BOOK  and nearer the end I had to skip a couple of pages, I've learnt in books to bypass things that physically do me harm .....  so-NOT-for-the-faint-hearted ... 
.
Firstly I want to put down here familiar words that take me back to my days when I lived in England.
💥 nosy old parkers
💥pumps
💥 trainers
💥 a few hundred quid
.
New Word Learnt
Stumpery - a garden feature similar to a rockery but made from parts of dead trees (Wikipedia)
Tauroctony. (Wikipedia)
.
There were LOL moments in this book, and I absolutely loved Steve's humour when I spotted  this quote ......  "Whilst they were still working on the business plan back at headquarters, Fran had made her own list of urgent, very urgent and absolutely-bloody-urgent-so-do-it-now tasks."  ..... another one was ...
.
"any of the paintings in the dimmest rooms had suffered buckling and draws; quite a few frames had also been ravaged by woodworm (she imagined Bramley as a party house for the little critters – come on over, guys, this is the place to be!)".
.
I felt at the beginning of the book when Steve had us as visitors to this old manor that if I was left alone, I surely would have got lost by now, but Steve is such a good host and narrator, that he introduces us to every aspect of the building that you feel you know the map of the building in your head. 
.
I loved the breaks in this book, numbered, which I have never seen before, but it gave some sort of order which I enjoyed.
.
Star Rating
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars 
.
Recommendation 
This book comes highly recommended by me and would suit anyone who is into Ghost Stories, anyone who likes Roman mythology, anyone who likes mysteries, anyone who likes the older style mansions and what's in them, anyone who likes vintage furniture, anyone who likes art related articles on paintings and tapestries and anyone who likes humour in their books.  Basically this is an all round book that the majority of genres fall into, so would suit a wide range of readers.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Book Review - Unlocked - Soulla Christodoulou





Book Review by Pauline Reid  💖  Unlocked by Soulla Christodoulou
.
Genre - Short Story
.
What This Book Is About
This is about an English lady called, Helen, who meets a man called, Anil who shows her around India, a love story as sweet as butter chicken and as mouth watering as a chapati (although Soulla writes about Naans).
.
Helen discovered her husband had been unfaithful after being married 23 years.  Helen plunged into the world of depression, ignoring help, ignoring phone calls, ignoring home made food that was delivered.  Her alone time bought her a soothing routine of sorts. 
.
Helen had a craving for chocolate so one day in November she decided go out, it was after purchasing the chocolate that she had a sign that would turn her life around.  This created an excitement a glowing within, to the point where she decided to book a one way flight to India, 2 weeks after Christmas.
.
Two months have past, then relaxing in a luxurious resort, she meets, Anil, who invites her to his cousins wedding.   We follow Helen and Anil on the road of discovery, although Anil had invited Helen to the wedding there were plenty of others things he wanted to show her.  We, the readers are rewarded with so many sightseeing objects, cows, people of India, market stalls and the sellers that are driven to thrust things right under your nose.  Rickshaws.  Snatches of conversation that Helen and Anil have ... or at least Anil has with Helen, are very enlightening.....  Helen being measured up for a Sari brings many different aspects of the Indian culture she hasn't seen before ....  and then there is the simmering love between Helen and Anil  that we witness.... waterfalls  and something of a key that will unlock the unhappiness within.
.
.
My Thoughts On This Book
I was given the ARC of Unlocked for an exchange of an honest review.
I was extremely curious with reading the first paragraph of what this book was about.    It kept me wanting more as I inched myself closer and closer to the action. 
.
Quote
"As she stood under the spray, the hot water almost scalding her skin, she imagined herself being reborn".  😍
.
Quote
"She screamed, releasing all the pent-up sadness, humiliation and unworthiness that had been painstakingly eating away at her like moths on clothes." 😍
.
I am in love with Soulla descriptive writing and I picked a couple of quotes as examples.  It was very hard to choose, because all the book can be made out of quotable quotes.   See above for quotes.
.
I loved Soullas style, it was soft, it has quality, it has a ...  did you hurt your knee?  I will put a band aid on it.  Its caring, yet there is a quality of truth that's not hard to read.  I also picked up on Soulla fun, sunny vibe of laughter, which has sneaked into this book and I loved it, the "funny scenes" made the short story light and easy to read.  I loved the way Soulla uses food in her writing, and it feels so real that you have a tendency just to almost see the mentioned food materialise through the pages.  I must admit, even I had to buy a can of butter chicken soup to get the taste of India.
.
Star Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 Stars
.
Recommendation
This book comes highly recommended by me and would suit anyone interested in India culture and India, anyone interested in Indian food, anyone interested in love stories, anyone interested in short stories and anyone interested in spiritual awareness.
.
Notice Board 📋
Available on the 3 December 2019, or you can pre order (auto buy) now

Currently Reading - Breathing For Confidence - Angelina Kalahari

 "Beat Connection" Sculpture Claudelands Events Centre Hamilton New Zealand Currently Reading  Brea...