Book Feature: The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Note: I am featuring some of the review books I’ve had for a while, but run out of time to review. That’s not to say I’m not going to read them; it’s just that I’ve fallen behind, and think the authors deserve an appearance here!

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

The Summer That Made Us by Robyn Carr

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins–they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then… For the Hempsteads, two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, summers were idyllic. The women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now… After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best to hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.


Romance Novels Celebrate Women

Romance Books Category Romance

Great article over at The Messenger, a newspaper from Kentucky, USA:

Romance Novels Celebrate Women

Yes, it’s ridiculous that these pieces need to keep being written, but I can’t see the need for them going away any time soon!

Here are some excerpts:

‘I volunteered to sort, label, and shelve our library’s collection in order to create a browsable romance aisle. Why? Because romance novels are one of the few, if not the only, form of media which enthusiastically celebrates women. No other entertainment industry places as high a value on female agency, empowerment, happiness, and personal fulfillment like romance publishing.

There can be no doubt, the romance publishing industry is a juggernaut of commercial and financial success. However, the stigma surrounding these books has only exploded over the years. We are laughed at for reading “formulaic” stories, despite the fact that every book follows a formula; without formula the concept of genre ceases to exist. Likewise, Happy Ending stories are dismissed for being “predictable,” despite the fact that every action story concludes with the good guy winning, and mystery novels never end unsolved.

Sometimes our stories are set in a futuristic dystopia, sometimes they’re on an 1800s frontier, or on a planet far far away, or in a Regency London ballroom, or in China during the Tang Dynasty, or on a 17th century pirate ship, or among a coven of demons. No other genre can boast of such vast variety.

So There. 🙂 🙂

Want to Read: The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman

This one is on my to-read list:

A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties. Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?

1954: When sixteen–year–old Hungarian Elizabeta arrives in Australia with her family, she is hoping to escape the hopelessness of life as a refugee in post–war Germany. Her first stop is the Bonegilla Migrant Camp on the banks of the Murray in rural Victoria, a temporary home for thousands of new arrivals, all looking for work and a better life. There, Elizabeta becomes firm friends with the feisty Greek Vasiliki; quiet Italian Iliana; and the adventurous Frances, the daughter of the camp’s director.

In this vibrant and growing country, the Bonegilla girls rush together towards a life that seems full of promise, even as they cope with the legacy of war, the oppressive nature of family tradition and ever–present sorrow. So when a ghost from the past reaches out for Elizabeta and threatens to pull her back into the shadows, there is nothing that her friends wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

But secrets have a way of making themselves known and lies have a way of changing everything they touch…


The Last Of The Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman


Bonegilla was Australia’s most famous camp for refugees and migrants in the aftermath of the Second World War. My family – refugees from the Soviet Union after years of forced labour in Germany (followed by four years in displacement camps while Stalin was busy having all ethnic Ukrainians in their region executed or sent to Siberia) – passed through the camp.

I am hoping – but not expecting – that the book will mention the decades of xenophobia and outright racism southern and eastern European arrivals faced at the hands of Anglo-Australians.

We need more books like this one, and *I* need to read more books like this one. Pretty much my whole reading experience is framed by the American publishing industry these days, and US authors (other than in the Regency romance subgenre) tend to ignore the rest of the world when dealing with the past.

It’s Christmastime Again…?

The Christmas review books are here!

The other day I was startled to see Boston Ballet advertising tickets for its Christmas season of The Nutcracker, and now – as of yesterday – I’ve started seeing Christmas books being promoted.

I don’t think I need to point out it’s only April. Are you as freaked out by this as I am?

Anyway, if you’re interested, the first one I saw – The Christmas Sisters – looks so nice:

The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan

From award-winning USA TODAY bestselling author Sarah Morgan comes this heartwarming, emotionally rich new novel, brimming with her trademark Christmas sparkle!

The McBride sisters all have different reasons for finding the holiday season challenging, but their adoptive mother is determined this year will be different. As the countdown to Christmas Day begins, arguments, connections and secrets start bubbling. The McBride family was made, not born—but will they be able to make this the magical family Christmas their mother has always dreamed of?

‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

Women's_March_on_Washington_(32593123745) 21 January 2017 Trump Feminism


‘Women are having different fantasies’: romantic fiction in the age of Trump

This article was published in The Guardian on International Women’s Day last week, and even though it rehashed some things from recent articles (1 2) on the quickly evolving romance genre, it is definitely worth a read.

I like this part:

Rich heroes are big: a quick google throws up all sorts of novels about Greek tycoons and Italian billionaires. “It’s the fantasy that you’ll walk into a room and some guy will literally treat you like a princess … It was a clear trope – and then we elected a maybe-billionaire to president. And the way he treats women made that trope suddenly incredibly problematic.”

However, this part…?? The bolded bit is ridiculous; we’ve ALWAYS known it was a problematic series. (But: bonkbuster!)

EL James’s hugely successful bonkbuster Fifty Shades of Grey came out only six years ago, but its questionable gender politics have begun to niggle at some; the recent film adaptation of the third book, Fifty Shades Freed, was criticised for being out of step with current sentiment.