Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Tuesday Reviews Day - Books & a quick update

Not long after my last post — yep, almost a month ago — I came down with a terrible chest infection followed straight after with the flu. I was bed-ridden and in a lot of chest and back pain from all the deep coughing which totally exhausted me.  About all I could manage during my sickness was to read my Kindle and watch Netflix. Anything else was too draining. It took three doctor's visits and 2 courses of different antibiotics to get on top of the cough. I'm still recovering but, on a positive note, yesterday was the first day I've felt half-human again despite still coughing, blowing my nose constantly, and some lingering muscle pain. I hadn't been sick like that in quite a few years.

On with the reviews —

First up is Down Under by Bill Bryson
This book is titled - In a Sunburned Country - in the USA

Bill Bryson is a travel writer and this book caught my attention because he was writing about his travels in Australia. Bryson first visited Australia in 1992 and, from what information I can find, this book was first published in 2000. Naturally, a lot has changed in Australia in almost two decades but, for the most part, it was at a time I remember and can identify with. I liked how he portrayed the Aussie sense of humour and how laid back we can be, especially when it comes to all the dangerous creatures we share this country with. He also expresses clearly how vast Australia actually is and how much of it is uninhabitable.

I thought this book would mostly focus on his personal experiences and travels in this country which it did, however, Mr Bryson also goes into A LOT of Australia's history even pre-Captain Cook times. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the history lessons too — I loved history at school — but the history aspect could get a tad boring at times. Of course, bear in mind, I was quite sick when I read it so may not have always been in the mood for some history lessons. Taking all that into account, I gave it a 5 star rating.

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Next up - The Thing About Clare by Imogen Clark

This book spans back and forth over 4/5 decades and focuses around the lives of Dorothy Bliss and their four children - Miriam, Clare, Anna, and Sebastian.  Dorothy's husband, Frank, is on the scene but not a focal point in the book. In her later years, Dorothy dies, supposedly without a will. However, not long before she passes, Dorothy entrusts Anna to find her Will, plus a letter to Clare, with instructions to burn them both. Why? Does Anna follow her mother's instructions? What is it about Clare?

I loved Dorothy's Irish way of speaking in the book. I enjoyed the book but not really sure the story-line was very effective overall. It hints early on in the book that Clare's parentage may be in question and the possible reason she was always different to her siblings — the tear-away of the family and very rebellious. Each sibling wrestled with their own issues at different stages of their lives so I'm not sure Clare really had a valid excuse for her behaviour. Guess you'd have to read it to understand what I mean.  I was tossing between 3 and 4 stars and the 3 stars won out.

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Lastly, my Amazon First Reads choice for August - The Secrets of Lost Stones by Melissa Payne

Jess, a grieving mother, finds herself in Pine Lake after her car runs out of fuel, among other issues. As luck would have it, she lands a job as a caregiver to elderly Lucy who is rumoured to be the witch of the mountain town. Lucy seems eccentric, has a keen interest in crossword puzzles, and seems to know things before they happen. Star, a teenage runaway, is invited to Lucy's home. Like Jess, Star suffered a tragedy, and unbeknown to them, their paths have crossed for a reason. Jess lost her 8 year old son while Star watched her best friend die. Lucy seems to be guiding them in a certain direction. Has a call from beyond the grave brought them together?

I read this book, on and off, over a period of 36 hours. I found it so hard to put down. LOVED it!  There are mysterious happenings afoot right from the start and it keeps you wanting to turn the pages to seek answers. It does not disappoint while it builds to a climatic ending. I gave it 5 stars!

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And that wraps up the reviews for this week. 

17 comments:

  1. So sorry to hear about your nasty illness Serena - those weeks of pain and meds. must have been really miserable for you. Anyway dear, glad to know you are almost better and hopefully will get rid of the coughing which is so debilitating.
    Thanks for the book reviews. I've read several of Bill Bryson's travel tomes over the years - he's a prolific writer, quite detailed and enjoyable. I think Notes From a Small Island was my favorite - not surprising as I'm from there!

    Be well - be happy.
    Hugs, Mary

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    1. Thanks, Mary. It sure has been a rough start to the year with losing my fur-kid, surgeries, and now getting over a horrible sickness. Very debilitating indeed.

      I must add Notes from a Small Island to my list being that it's part of my heritage. :)

      Hugs,
      Serena xo

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  2. Sorry to hear you were so sick. I certainly hope you have managed to completely recover. Incessant coughing is no fun at all.

    All the books I've read lately have been about nature and have all been so interesting. Not sure I can even get myself to read any other type of book at this point, but I have a ton that I need to get through.

    Take care!

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    1. Thanks, Tammy.

      Nature books are great! I'm trying to expand on my reading genre. I love books in general and the Kindle makes it so much easier and cheaper.

      Have a lovely week! :)

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  3. I like Bryson's older stuff but his new stuff comes off more like I want to complain about everything :/

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    1. This is the first book I've read by Bryson but I'm going to add 'Notes from a Small Island' to my list. It seems that people either like him or they don't. Some critics say he's not a real travel writer because he refers to so much historical facts to fill up his books, rather than really share his personal experiences. I did enjoy his book though, even the history stuff. :)

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    2. I wouldn't enjoy a book if he was complaining everything either.

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    3. notes from a Small Island is one his betters books :) I like when people throw in a big of history for a place, I like knowing what went on there

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    4. Oh good, I'll look forward to reading it. I agree, I like knowing a bit of the history behind a place too. I actually learned a lot more about Australian history from the book I finished and I was happy about that.

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  4. I'm glad you're finally feeling better with the antibiotics. What a month!
    That last book sounds the best of the three. I love it when you can't put a book down. ;)

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    1. It's been a crazy few months with still recovering from surgery on top of it all. You know how it goes though with your own recent experiences. Crazy! xo

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  5. I'm sorry you've been so sick, and glad you're starting to improve. Hope you're back to whatever passes for normal for you soon. At least you got plenty of reading time in the meantime...

    By the way, I don't know if you saw with being so sick, but I recently switched from being vegetarian to being fully vegan. I did tag you on the post on Twitter, but I don't remember you commenting, so I'm thinking you missed it while so sick. No big deal if you did. Anyway, any tips and recipes would be gratefully received.

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    1. Thanks, Tori!

      Thanks also for the heads up on your Twitter post. I don't have Twitter notifications turned on so, unless I go there to check myself, I don't see stuff. It's not something I use much of at all BUT I'm so happy to hear you are now vegan! Well done to YOU! I went and commented on your Twitter post. I will send you a list of some of my favourite vegan cooking sites....when I'm feeling more focused and over this dreaded flu.

      Have a great week! x

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    2. That will be great... Thanks! :) I don't have them turned on either. I just check when I have a few moments to do so.

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  6. Good that you are feeling better. That last book sounds really good. I have a Bill Bryson book but haven't read it yet and i can't remember the title. My brother in law use to love to read his books so he gave me one.

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