Darlene Foster's Blog

Books I Read This Summer

Posted on: September 16, 2018

I read some amazing books this summer and I thought I should share some of them with you, along with my reviews. It’s always great to get ideas for new books to read, even if you have a huge TBR list like me. Here are three I just loved.

The Artisan Heart

by Dean Mayes  Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette. When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind. A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own. As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future. My review I am already a fan of Dean Mayes and am impressed with his ability to write in diverse genres while at the same time maintaining consistent quality. This book is a wonderful read, filled with incredible characters that jump off the page. I love how the characters play off each other so well. My favourite being Genevieve, a seven-year-old deaf child with spunk. I just wanted to hug her so many times. And then there is the wonderful setting of Walhalla, a cozy Australian mountain village, which is actually the main character for me. While reading this book, I felt myself walking the streets, smelling the freshly baked bread, smiling at the residents, listening to the birds and admiring the gardens. This is a place people come to get away from it all and discover who they are meant to be. A feel-good book with some tense moments, full of emotion and real people. I highly recommend this book. One I would read again.

A Place Called Winter

by Patrick Gale In the golden 1900s, Harry Cane, a shy, eligible gentleman of leisure is drawn from a life of quiet routine into courting and marrying Winnie, eldest daughter of the fatherless Wells clan, who are not quite as respectable as they would appear. They settle by the sea and have a daughter and conventional marriage does not seem such a tumultuous change after all. When a chance encounter awakens scandalous desires never acknowledged until now, however, Harry is forced to forsake the land and people he loves for a harsh new life as a homesteader on the newly colonized Canadian prairies. There, in a place called Winter, he will come to find a deep love within an alternative family, a love imperiled by war, madness and an evil man of undeniable magnetism.

My review

I purchased this book after hearing the author speak at the Winchester Writer’s Festival. His books all sounded interesting but I was drawn to this one as it takes place in the early 20th century in the Canadian prairies. This is where I’m from and my great-grandparents were among the many immigrants who settled this part of Canada. I was not disappointed. The land, the people and the impossibly tough life were described so well, I felt like I was back there working alongside these individuals. It was all there, the unforgiving terrain, the threshing crews, chokecherries, bachelors’ balls, country churches and dashed hopes. The story centres around Harry Cane, a British gentleman who had never worked a day in his life. After being disgraced, he leaves England to stake out a homestead in Winter, Saskatchewan. Little does he know what awaits him. The story is so well written, you can feel the isolation and the cold. “As for the cold, he had never experienced anything like it, a dry, iron clamp upon the land, like death itself, full of unexpected beauty, like the hard crystals that formed on the inside of the windows. The cold did something to the quality of sounds around the farm, deadening all background noise so that the smallest scratching or whisper was emphasised.” Harry’s story is filled with incredible characters, pain and heartbreak. But it is also filled with love. A beautifully written book, well worth a read.

Apprenticed To My Mother: A Memoir Of Barbara Le Pard 2005 to 2010

When my father died in 2005, I assumed my mother would need more support and someone to help with decisions she previously shared with her husband. What I didn’t realise was the role she had in mind for me: a sort of Desmond 2.0. Over the five years until her death, I played the role of apprentice, learning more about her and her relationship with my father than I had gleaned in my previous 50 years. We laughed, we cried and, occasionally we disagreed, and throughout she manipulated me as, I learnt, she had my father. Neither of us minded much; we were both her so willing fools, for she was an extraordinary woman and we both knew we were in the presence of someone very special.

My review

A wonderful heartwarming book that will leave you laughing and crying, sometimes on the same page. Mr. Le Pard has a great way with words and gives us a delightful glimpse into the lives of his parents. Sprinkled in between amusing episodes of his life as the youngest of two sons, are poems brilliantly composed by his father, most written for his wife, the love of his life. The stories paint a picture of past times in a lovely part of England, where issues are resolved with a cup of tea and a piece of homemade cake. Barbara Le Pard is a delightful character, strong-willed, tough and with a huge heart. This book is well written, entertaining and most important, it is written with love. All of these books are available on Amazon, Kobo or through any good bookstore.  I will tell you about a few more in another post. If you have read a great book or two lately, please share in the comments.

66 Responses to "Books I Read This Summer"

I have been looking for a new book to read. I appreciate the reviews! I like the sound of the Artisan Heart. I think I’ll put it on my list. Thank you!

You won´t be disappointed. Thanks for the visit!

Darlene, thank you for your recommendations and reviews. I will look forward to reading these books.

I really enjoyed them. I hope you do too.

They all sound really good, Darlene. Geoff’s is already on my kindle and being saved for my holiday at the end of this month. I might add the others.
I’m reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, a historical novel. When Cora’s husband dies she moves tot he countryside where she hears rumours of the ‘Essex Serpent’ a creature of folklore said to have returned to roam the marshes. I’m really enjoying it.

Thanks for the suggestion. You will enjoy Geoff’s book.

I always have so many books on my reading pile, so I am loathe to add more. However, the last one looks appealing, Apprenticed to my Mother because I like Geoff’s writing style.

It’s a good idea to make a blog post of your summer reading, Darlene. Books I read and review are posted on Amazon, Goodreads, and Rifflebooks. I doubt many people read my reviews. I don’t mind actually because I intend them to be my archive of books read. As you know, reading feeds our writing habits. Yes?

You would enjoy Geoff’s book as it is a wonderful memoir. I so appreciate it when someone writes a review of one of my books so if I really enjoy a book, I usually write a brief review and post it n the various sites. Reading certainly does inspire us to write!

I read so much but never think of writing reviews, I’m never sure if people read them, especially as my reading tastes are probably very weird to others!

I read reviews and I know many folks do. Thank heaven for weird reading tastes! Otherwise many books would never be read.

wow, thank you Darlene. Most touched by this

My pleasure, Geoff. Happy to spread the word about your wonderful book.

This sounds like a great collection. I love those titles–“Apprenticed to my Mother” and “A Place Called Winter”. Definitely catch my attention.

My reading time is limited so when I read a good book, I am happy to let the world know. They are great titles, aren’t they?

The second two are already on my want to read list and so is the first now!

Thanks Darlene! Great to have reviews from someone such as yourself; author, travel writer, adventurer!

Thanks, Irene. When I read books I enjoy, I like to let the world know.

Thanks for the recommendations Darlene. Artisan Heart and A Place Called Winter have been added to the list this summer.

Great. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Darlene. They sound like great reads and your reviews are very thorough and helpful. I will look out for them.

This summer, I really enjoyed Close to Home by Cara Hunter , The Widow’s Watcher by Elizabeth Maxwell and The Heart of the Garden by Victoria Connelly, this last one in particular I think you would really enjoy too.
By the way, I went to Waterstones in Chichester earlier this week with the intention of buying Amanda in New Mexico, but was disappointed to find they didn’t stock any of the books in the series. I asked at the counter and she said she could order it for me, but it’s not the same. I wanted to take a photo of your books on the shelf and share it with you, but it wasn’t to be. Sorry. 😣

Thanks for the suggestions. I will look them up. Yes, I know they don’t have my books on the shelves but they are in their catalogue and they can order them. For a writer like me, that is still huge. It is so hard to get into the big chains and even being in the catalogue is a coup. But, the more people ask for the books and order them, the better the chance of eventually getting them on the shelf. It is a brutal business. If you do order it, you can still put it on a shelf and take a picture!! It’s been done before. Also, I can mail you a signed by me bookplate so you can have a signed book. xo

Apprenticed to my Mother, I am putting it on my list to read. My favorite book this summer was People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Forty Summers by Nina Willner

You will enjoy Apprenticed to My Mother. Thanks for the book suggestions.

Love the reviews and have these on my list of books to read. Thank you so much for a nice post.

Glad you enjoyed the post and that I gave you some new ideas for good books to read. Great to have you visit my blog.

The bucket list continues. Have a book-filled week ahead.

Sorry, Darlene. I didn’t think of that at the time. I thought if I was going to order it, I could do it myself and have it delivered directly to our contact address and save a trip to Chichester, but if it helps you, next time I am in town, I could pop in Waterstones again.

Whatever works for you. Amazon sales are important too.

I like the sound of The Artisan Heart, Darlene and I did enjoy reading about your summer readers.

It’s such a feel-good book and I just loved the setting as well. Glad you enjoyed the post, Anne.

These books all sound wonderful, Darlene. Great reading experiences.

These all sound great reads Darlene. I have read two of Geoff’s books but I shall need to add Apprenticed to my Mother. 🌼

You will just love the book and his mother. Geoff has a great way with words.

Dang…I was just at the library with no clue of what to pick!! I wish I had read this yesterday!!

These look like fantastic books, Darlene!
I love how Geoff mentions how wonderful and manipulative his mother was. I’ll have to read it!
Thanks for the blog love today!

Thanks for visiting my blog. You will love Geoff’s book! Great to be connected!! xo

I am always looking for a book to read, thanks for sharing your suggestions!

You are welcome. I always like to share when I read a good book!

I recommend Kate Morton’s books. I am hooked on her stories at the moment and just love them.

Did she write The Forgotten Garden? That was an amazing book.

Yes, she did! She has a few others that are just as great!

Thank you, Darlene, for the great review. Geoff’s Apprenticed to My Mother sounds interesting. It will be a good addition for me.

Thanks, Miriam. It is well worth a read.

Love your list of reads and recommends Darlene. I have a few of Geoff’s books, including this one on my Kindle. Looking forward to reading it. 🙂 x

Thanks so much! I know you will enjoy Geoff’s book and want to visit the New Forest area after reading it!! It is a delight.

Looking forward! 🙂

I also read and enjoyed Geoff Le Pard’s book. Thanks for sharing your reviews, Darlene.

You are so welcome. Geoff’s book was such a delightful read. You would enjoy the other two as well.

These sound like wonderful reads, Darlene. I’ll check them out and thanks for sharing. Please continue sharing more great reads!

There are more to come. Watch this spot!

Thank you for those recommendations, I’ll look out for all of these.

You are welcome. Love to share some good reads.

So many good books, so little time. Thanks for suggesting these books that are ‘off the main track’ for me and sound interesting and delightful.

I know. I think I have an apron with that very saying on it! Always good to spread the word of lesser known books that I have enjoyed.

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Those all sound like excellent books! I especially liked the last one! xo

Some great reads! Thanks for stopping in. xo

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