Don’t Drink the Pink – B.C.R Fegan

Synopsis

Follow the special relationship between Madeline and her Grandfather as they both grow and share in the most magical birthday experiences. Filled with secrets to uncover and brimming with imagination, Don’t Drink the Pink explores a number of basic concepts including colors, numbers and the reality of growing older.

My review

Don’t Drink the Pink, B.C.R Fegan is a heartfelt story, which takes the reader on a magical and wonderous adventure.

Madeline is always made to feel special on her birthday and she is excited each year. Her Grandfather arrives, spending time with her and brings magical potions with him. Each year, Madeline chooses a different coloured potion that takes her on a new birthday adventure. The question is on the readers’ lips from the beginning ‘Why can’t Madeline drink the pink’? Keep reading! The pink potion is symbolic of the strong connection with our loved ones.

Madeline and her Grandfather have a beautiful bond that will transcend time and old age. This story truly spoke to me. I originally read it with my son, who has just turned two. He loves the story; for it’s repetition, magic and gorgeous illustrations. He requests the story by title and loves repeating the narrative, saying the colours as we read. This book will no doubt teach him colours and number sequencing. The bright colours are intriguing and the illustrations are enchanting.

Much more significantly, this book has touched ours hearts due to a personal loss in our family. I was particularly moved by the topics of loss, connection with grandparents, old age, love of family and those moments in life to be treasured. These universal issues are the reason I would recommend this story to everyone. It is not simply a children’s book. It is a book that will pull at the heartstrings, prompt further discussions surrounding the cyclical nature of life and give hope for those who have lost a loved one.

This story is one that I will treasure for a long time and one which will help us whilst raising our son who has lost someone very close to him at such an early age. Thank you to Tale Blade Press for sending me a copy of Don’t Drink the Pink in exchange for my honest review.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#book-review #book-reviewer

My mum

I am writing this blog post two weeks and two days after losing my mum, Denise. A week ago today I sat down to write about my mum so that I could share some of my mum’s life with family and friends in attendance at her service. Today I am writing to share a small part of how much my mum has inspired me in my life, how much I love her and from this you will soon realise how much I miss her.

My mum was a beautiful soul who should not have been taken from her family so young. She deserved to watch her grandson grow up, deserved to live a long life with many more memories. As I feel the grief, sadness, loss and pain of losing my mum, I also feel the beautiful connection and love we share. My mum was a kind, caring, thoughtful and loving mum. Her love for her family was everything and could be seen in her smile when she was surrounded by love. My mum taught me many things, but the most important lesson she taught me was that of true love. She taught me how beautiful the bond is between mother and child. There wasn’t a day that went by without her love. She is a mum and nanna that any daughter or grandson would dream of. I am so glad that Avery was able to enjoy almost two years of his life with his nanna. She had such an impact on him.

Looking back on my childhood, I wouldn’t change a thing. My mum chose to be a stay at home mum and enjoyed being a home maker, whilst being there for me. She would take time out to read with me, play with me and teach me all I needed to know. Mum shared her creativity with me. My mum created a dolls house with me from cardboard and contact, beautiful birthday cakes, long stitch needlework, paintings and crochet. Her love of crochet could be seen in her stunning works of art, including blankets and items around the home. The items that were also made with love are the crochet toys made for my son and other children who she loved. They are gorgeous. I will treasure all of the items my mum made forever.

My mum always loved reading and she encouraged me to write. Mum would sit with her Kindle or a book on her egg chair outside and enjoy the sunshine or sit inside surrounded by her creativity as she enjoyed reading someone else’s work of art. My mum loved romance and crime fiction most. I also love romance novels. I would like to give my mum’s favourite authors of crime fiction a chance. I look forward to sharing with you what she was reading on her kindle and her favourite authors in future posts.

As I sit and reflect on how fortunate I am to have such beautiful memories from childhood into adulthood, my heart is breaking to hear her voice once more, have a hug and tell her I love her. I also have another voice inside me telling me that I need to write, reflect and remember the wonderful times we shared and the love that will last a lifetime. This is the only way that I will be able to move forward. I promise to continue to live my life with purpose, to live a life of love for those around me and treasure moments with loved ones. Mum, thank you for being the best mum I could ever have. I love you and always will. I hope you are watching over us and know that we love you always and forever. In my heart always. ❤️❤️

#book-blogger #book-lover #mumsarethebest #lovemymum #foreverinmyheart

The Model Wife – Tricia Stringer

#book-review #book-reviewer

Synopsis

Even a good woman can be pushed too far…From bestselling author Tricia Stringer, this beautifully realised multi-generational family story looks at what happens when real-life betrayals and struggling relationships clash with outdated ideas of what a woman should be.Natalie King’s life is full. Some might say too full. With her teaching job, a farm to run, three grown daughters who have not quite got a handle on things, a reserved husband and a demanding mother-in-law, most days she is too busy to think about whether she is happy. But her life has meaning, doesn’t it? After all, she is the one person everyone depends upon.But when an odd gift from her mother-in-law – an old book in the form of stern and outdated advice for young wives – surfaces again, it brings with it memories she thought she had buried deep. Has this insidious little book exerted some kind of hold over her? Could it be that in her attempts to be a loving wife and mother, she no longer knows who she is?On a day when it seems everyone is taking her for granted, and as the ghost of a past betrayal rises, it becomes clear that even this good mother and model wife can be pushed too far …

My review

‘Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself.’

This quote is my favourite from The Model Wife and sums up the entire premise of the novel quite beautifully.

The Model Wife is the story of Natalie; a wife, teacher, mother and woman who always places her family first. Her health scare causes her to examine her life and explore what is truly important. Natalie is a character to love for her honesty, loyalty and integrity.

Throughout the novel I came to love this family and how true to life the events and characters could be. This is not a fairytale family. It is a loving family who stand by one another as they experience life together and apart. The novel explores a time when all three daughters return to the family home. The scenes at home remind me of the drama TV shows ‘Brothers and sisters’ and ‘Heartland’ in which families prioritise family life. I loved these shows for that reason, which is why I particularly enjoyed this novel.

The Model Wife explores family dynamics and I enjoyed reading about the relationship the sisters have. As an only child growing up, I particularly enjoyed reading of their bond and relationships with one another.

When Natalie finds an old book entitled ‘The Model Wife,’ given to her by her mother-in- law, she reads the arcaic ideas of who a woman should be. She starts to realise that she has been attempting to fill a traditional and expected role. The novel touches on feminism and the feelings of ‘mum guilt’. As a mum I often feel guilty for not being able to be in two places at once and am continually finding a balance that works for me and my family. I hope that anyone reading this will also realise that we may all have moments in which we lose ourselves and that each learning curve is one step closer to finding our true selves.

I would highly recommend this novel and hope that readers will gain what I have from it. The Model Wife is a beautiful story with familiar challenges and a strength of a family who are connected via their life experiences together.

Thank you @harlequinaus and Harper Collins Publishers for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

The Witches of Eastwick – John Updike

Synopsis

Toward the end of the Vietnam era, in a snug little Rhode Island seacoast town, wonderful powers have descended upon Alexandra, Jane, and Sukie, bewitching divorcées with sudden access to all that is female, fecund, and mysterious. Alexandra, a sculptor, summons thunderstorms; Jane, a cellist, floats on the air; and Sukie, the local gossip columnist, turns milk into cream. Their happy little coven takes on new, malignant life when a dark and moneyed stranger, Darryl Van Horne, refurbishes the long-derelict Lenox mansion and invites them in to play. Thenceforth scandal flits through the darkening, crooked streets of Eastwick and through the even darker fantasies of the town’s collective psyche.

My Review

Have you ever enjoyed the movie more than the book? I usually prefer the book… In this case, I preferred the movie.

John Updike can write. There is no denying it. I actually enjoyed the way he writes. I appreciate Updike’s style of writing, his eloquence with his words, his characterisation and his statements made. He uses a range of literary techniques throughout that create a sense of a very thoughtful and knowledgable author. He develops his characters well, especially the three witches. In contrast, there were parts of the novel that did not hold this same exceptional skill, including his vulgar comments used and mysoginistic statements. I was quite shocked by what I was reading at times.

There are themes in the novel I enjoyed, including the focus on relationships being less structured and what each person wants. As a heterosexual woman with a husband and child I have not had to face discrimination due to my sexuality. This book challenges the idea of society’s expectations of being either heterosexual or homosexual. The characters enjoy experimentation. Personally, I believe that love is love and if an individual falls in love they should feel comfortable in thier relationship in society with complete acceptance and non judgment. This is where I am torn with the book. Updike’s messages behind his words are very clever. He gives the three witches power to stand on their own and in this respect is the opposite of chauvanistic. He does show a blatant disregard for motherhood and maternal instinct of every female character with children, which made me feel a huge disconnect with the characters.

This novel does not have as much magic as I expected and hoped for. It is not a light, fun read… I found the plot to be slow paced and did not enjoy reading the novel by the end.

In summary, Updike is a capable author who I respect for his writing ability, along with the important issues raised, yet I was disappointed and did not enjoy reading this novel. For me to have enjoyed this reading experience, it needed more magic, a better storyline, a faster paced plot, less vulgar comments and a better ending.

⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

All You Can Ever Know – Nicole Chung

#book-review #book-blogger

Synopsis

What does it mean to lose your roots—within your culture, within your family—and what happens when you find them?

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From early childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hopes of giving her a better life; that forever feeling slightly out of place was simply her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as she grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see, finding her identity as an Asian American and a writer, becoming ever more curious about where she came from—she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth.

With warmth, candor, and startling insight, Chung tells of her search for the people who gave her up, which coincided with the birth of her own child. All You Can Ever Know is a profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets—vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.

My review

Nicole Chung’s memoir is open, honest and moving. I am in awe of the courage taken to share her personal story.

This is a story of one adoptee whose story is alike in ways, yet completely different to other adoptees worldwide, as it is one person’s personal story. Nicole discusses her feelings of loss, separation, abandonment, cultural displacement and love within her family. Everyone who has been adopted has their own story and this is Nicole’s honest reflection. The way she opens up to the reader is beautiful, especially her use of rhetorical questions. These questions she asks herself are significant to understand how she is feeling and how she reaches certain mindsets, making certain decisions throughout her life.

I decided that reading Nicole Chung’s story was a must. After attending an adoption seminar for prospective adoptive parents, I felt a range of emotions and had the realisation that no matter how difficult times will be, my belief is that every child deserves a loving family. My family and I wholeheartedly appreciate Nicole’s statement on adoption ‘I urge people to go into it with their eyes open, recognising how complex it truly is; I encourage adopted people to tell stories, our stories, and let no one else define these experiences for us.’ If one makes a decision to grow their family via adoption, the hope is that they do so with open hearts, minds and an understanding of the need for open adoption in this day and age. As a hopeful future adoptive eomma, I will be eternally grateful for the courage of the birth mother to do what she felt was in the best interest of her child, with more courage than I could ever imagine.

Nicole’s memoir made my heart ache as I read of her feelings of racial discrimination and cultural displacement. This can happen anywhere in the world and my hope is that this is happening less and less as people are further connected with other cultures around the world. In Australia, although we are a multicultural society, especially in my home town and even more so in large cities, my hope is that someday soon racial discrimination will not occur in schools at all. As a society, we need to teach our children to show love towards one another without exception. Nicole’s experiences at school with other children left me feeling shocked at the hurtful nature of the comments made.

As a mother, I was moved by Nicole’s experiences and views on motherhood. I also believe that appreciating all of the little moments and realising how lucky us mums who have birthed our own children are, to be able to witness each milestone. Being a mum is who I am first and foremost, so it is lovely to read of a mum who also considers motherhood in this way. Every decision Nicole made to connect with her birth family was taken with consideration for her own child. From her story, I can see that Nicole is a beautiful mum.

Thank you Nicole Chung for your honesty, sincerity and for opening my eyes further. You have given me the hard truths and further confirmation of what is truly important to an adopted child. This memoir is a must read.

Pachinko – Min Lin Lee

#book-review #book-reviewer #bookish

Synopsis

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

My review

From start to finish, I was captivated by the author’s sense of place. Min Jin Lee took me to a Japan that I have never considered. As a 16 year old High School exchange student living in Tokyo, I expected to fill out paperwork, however, was surprised when I had to fill out forms in which I was referred to as an Alien, upon my arrival. I considered it humorous and enjoyed my year as the foreign commodity in a Japanese High School. I loved everything about my life in Japan; friends, school and the language.

Pachinko, however, shares the horrific history of Koreans living in Japan. For people of racial difference who have lived in Japan their entire lives there is difficulty in becoming a Japanese citizen and people are still treated differently in this respect.

The Japanese people have managed to maintain their culture and traditions like no other I have experienced. This is why I love Japan so very much. The Japanese people have a beautiful and rich culture that I enjoy learning about and experiencing. In some respects, this comes at a cost, as we read in the novel.

I particularly enjoyed reading about this family through the generations. A young girl from Korea moves to Osaka, Japan with her newlywed. They soon realise the living conditions and treatment of Korean people is almost inhumane. The discrimination and further interracial issues raised made me feel very emotional and saddened for Koreans living in Japan at this time.

This multi generational novel explores Korean and Japanese culture, whilst detailing events and issues of historical significance. The numerous issues touched upon include societal views on unwed pregnant women, immigration, racial discrimination, homosexuality, abortion, adoption, parental expectations, impact of the atomic bomb, separation of a nation, mental health, cultural and family bonds. This is a family who places their love for their children first.

I also enjoyed learning more about certain aspects of Korean culture, in particular, the cooking and cultural ideas. I would highly recommend this novel for anyone interested in Japanese or Korean culture.

I was amazed by this author’s ability to write a novel that is a tapestry of a family in which historical issues are beautifully woven throughout their lives.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Cinema at Starlight Creek – Alli Sinclair

Synopsis

A heart-stirring novel of loss, love and new hope set against the glamorous backdrop of 1950s Hollywood and a small Australian country town. How far would you go to follow your dream?

Queensland, 1994 When location manager Claire Montgomery arrives in rural Queensland to work on a TV mini-series, she’s captivated by the beauty of Starlight Creek and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging, but Claire has never let that stop her pursuing her dreams-until now. She must gain permission to film at Australia’s most historically significant art deco cinema, located at Starlight Creek. But there is trouble ahead. The community is fractured and the cinema’s reclusive owner, Hattie Fitzpatrick, and her enigmatic great nephew, Luke Jackson, stand in her way, putting Claire’s career-launching project-and her heart-at risk.

Hollywood, 1950 Lena Lee has struggled to find the break that will catapult her into a star with influence. She longs for roles about strong, independent women but with Hollywood engulfed in politics and a censorship battle, Lena’s timing is wrong. Forced to keep her love affair with actor Reeves Garrity a secret, Lena puts her career on the line to fight for equality for women in an industry ruled by men. Her generous and caring nature steers her onto a treacherous path, leaving Lena questioning what she is willing to endure to get what she desires.

Can two women-decades apart-uncover lies and secrets to live the life they’ve dared to dream?

My review

Chapter by chapter, this novel drew me in further and further. The dual timeline structure was a harmonious blend of characters and settings.

I was immediately drawn into Lena’s world, an actress struggling to make it big in Hollywood in the 1950s. Her big heart, empathy and down to earth manner sets her apart from the actresses who will sell their soul for their careers. Aren’t these the characteristics we hope actresses and actors have?! As role models for the teenagers of today in many respects, it was wonderful to read about a compassionate and kind actress hoping to make a difference. I also love reading about this era, as I love the fashion and a variety of other aspects of the time period.

The parallel setting is a small, layered, mysterious and intriguing town. Starlight Creek is referred to as ‘two parralel worlds.’ This concept is dealt with as the reader begins to understand the town and the characters who live in the town. It is 1994 and Claire Montgomery arrives in Starlight Creek with the career changing idea to shoot a documentary in the run down old cinema. Its beauty and stories felt within the structure appeal to Claire immediately. Although, she runs into many obstacles, the main being the owner, Hattie and her handsome nephew, Luke.

I fell in love with the main characters and their budding romances. Lena and Claire both struggle to balance their careers and relationships. This juggling act between following one’s dream, falling in love and having it all is a constant balancing act, especially for women as their roles change, including motherhood. This is something I find to be a struggle. Although the time periods are vastly different, these concerns remain. The focus on women’s rights and lack of equality in 1950s was well researched, along with the expectations of women in the film industry. I also did not realise the extent of the restrictions caused by the Motion Picture Production Code, known as the Hays Act.

The novel is beautifully written and was Lena’s ‘story to write, no one else’s…’ On a cold winter’s night, I enjoyed snuggling up under a blanket whilst reading a historical romance novel that had me from start to finish. I read of love, following one’s heart, dreams and realising the importance of professing our love. We shouldn’t hesitate when it comes to true love. I am grateful to have read such a novel that allows the reader to be reminded of this and I would therefore, highly recommend The Cinema at Starlight Creek.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐