Book Bingo Round 19

It’s book bingo time again and this week I chose the square Book written by an Australian woman IMG_20190914_101547more than 10 years ago, the book I chose was one I found on my bookshelf when I was tidying up and has huge sentimental value. Inside it is written To my mum from Claire in 1984, it was Master of Ransome by Lucy Walker and was written well and truly over 10 years ago in 1968 with my copy being published in 1983.

I vaguely remember my mum reading Lucy Walker, but I had no idea she was Australian and from Kalgoorlie of all places.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a romance novel written so long ago. But I really enjoyed it. It is the original rural romance and I was surprised to find that in 50 years, not much has changed in the genre, it also had a storyline that was completely familiar.

I’m so glad I found this book and chose to read it. I loved the characters and the dynamics between everyone, it was so familiar that I slipped into the story easily. I think this story has definitely stood the test of time.

Until next fortnight, happy reading

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New Release Book Review: Autumn at Blaxland Falls by Eliza Bennetts

Screenshot_20190904_212659After reading Summer at Urchin’s Bluff and absolutely loving it, I jumped at the chance to read Autumn at Blaxland Falls. And how glad I am that I did, it was another wonderful read. Eliza Bennetts focuses on slightly older characters, women and men in their 40’s, single mums who are making a life for themselves and their child, who are learning who they are, what they want and how strong they can be when they need to be.

I loved meeting Jo and her daughter Sasha who have travelled from Urchin’s Bluff to Jo’s home town Blaxland Falls, a town she never wanted to return to, because of a job offer too good to pass up. Jo is a strong character, she’s completely relatable in that she’s strong because she’s had to be, she’s struggling with some huge traumatic secrets that have driven her for the last 16 years.

We meet Christian, who I initially couldn’t take to, a millionaire property tycoon who owns the lodge Jo is working at. But it wasn’t long before I could see he was just a man struggling with his own issues and dramas and I fell for him as hard as Jo.

Sasha was a great kid, well-grounded with all the normal teenage issues that go with moving to a new place and she is also going to have a lot to deal with throughout this story.

Jo’s mum is quite a character and not at all likeable to me to start with, but she was a character that grew on me and by the end, I thought she was great.

I loved Jo’s best friend Dee who helped Jo get the job and has been Jo’s rock throughout the years. I really related to Dee, 40 and single, with no kids, her job is her big focus, maybe not because she chose it to be that way, but because that’s the way the dice rolled.

Now we have Blake, a highly unlikeable character, Jo’s ex and the reason she left Blaxland Falls years before. Man, this guy should have been thrown off the falls. You can only hope as you read that he gets what he deserves.

This was a great read, I didn’t want to put it down because I became so caught up in the lives of these characters. A story of family, friendship, love and being true to yourself. The next book will be Dee’s story, and I can’t wait.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

 

 

Book Bingo Round 18 & Book Review – Spoilt For Love by Monique Mulligan

 

Book Bingo time came round too fast for me this fortnight, I’m halfway through a nonfiction book I was reading for the Themes of culture square, but I’ve managed to find one for a different square on short notice. Last night I read a novelette by Australian author Monique Mulligan called Spoilt For Love. So I’m using this to mark off a really easy square, since the majority of my reading is indeed Written by an Australian Woman, this square has been waiting for me to use as my wildcard. 

This was a very short and sweet read, with characters I really enjoyed meeting. In the town of Heart Springs, Maggie, the owner of a travel agency, sees a guy she missed her chance with 6 years previously in Glasgow, everywhere she turns, until one day she turns around and there he really is. Rafe was a delightful leading man and I was rooting for him and Maggie from the sidelines during this short read. It only took about 45 minutes to read, so it’s bite-sized, but Monique Mulligan has still managed to pack in plenty to make this an enjoyable love story. For those who don’t believe in destiny, this story shows perhaps it really is a thing.

 

New Release Book Review: Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer

IMG_20190824_150130A true Aussie rural retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I have to admit to having never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I vaguely recall watching an adaptation years ago, but can’t honestly recall the story, though I have a vague gist of how it goes, along with the many Mr Darcy memes that are floating around.

I absolutely loved this novel, it was witty and fun, full of family and friendship and rural life. It’s been a long while since I picked up a book in the afternoon and refused to do anything other than read until I finished it, this book broke that drought.

The majority of characters in this book were so likeable and easy to relate to, it felt like I’d known them all for ages. I loved the Bennett family, especially Lizzie, our main character. She was headstrong and determined, she loved her family and her family farm and didn’t like being underestimated. Lizzie’s dad John was another favourite from the Bennett family, a wonderfully supportive dad, who had total faith in Lizzie and her ability as a farmer. I enjoyed the way he was portrayed and his reactions to his often overbearing wife brought a smile to my face.

Lizzie’s sisters and her friend Lottie were great support characters, especially Jane whose relationship with Charlie brings Will Darcy into Lizzie’s radar. These two clash completely, but maybe if they both keep an open mind, they might not have to be enemies. I really liked Will, a lot, I could just tell that underneath his snobbish exterior, there had to be more than met the eye.

There are of course the unlikeable characters, there were two of these, one very nasty female who thought she was all that when she really wasn’t and one slimy cowboy, who thought the same about himself. These two characters separately cause plenty of anxiety and issues between our characters.

This was a really heartwarming tale about being true to who you are and taking a risk on love.

Thanks to Hachette Australia and the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Released 27/8/19

Buy Links

Hachette Australia

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

Release Day Book Review: Fatal Break by Beth Prentice

Screenshot_20190820_002850I absolutely loved this third murder mystery adventure featuring Samantha Reynolds in Beth Prentice’s new book in the Aloha Lagoon series. #3 in the Samantha Reynolds Mysteries and book #15 in the Aloha Lagoon series, Fatal Break is my favourite read so far. Samantha does a wonderful job of playing at amateur detective and getting herself into all sorts of trouble, this time she’s out to clear her BFF who has been accused of murdering her ex-boyfriend and she is very determined.

Samantha and Casey’s relationship has grown even stronger after the events that occurred in Lethal Tide and it was so lovely to experience this couple all loved up.

Once again poor Detective Ray has to deal with Samantha and her friends as they go about trying to clear Alani’s name. These are some of my giggle moments.

There are some seriously funny moments throughout this novel and I got a great giggle from Samantha’s exploits as well as her internal dialogue. She’s great fun.

There’s plenty of conclusion jumping and her usual ability to make 2+2=7, there are some red herrings and shifty behaviour (thankfully not Casey this time), but ultimately Samantha does a great job of being a magnet for trouble.

If you want a fun read, I recommend you pick up the Samantha Reynolds Mysteries, you’ll want to read them in order to get the whole feel for Samantha and her friends and family. As well as to enjoy life at Aloha Lagoon 😊. I’d still like to visit one day, despite the seemingly high murder rate.

Thanks to Beth Prentice for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

My reviews for

#1 (#3) Deadly Wipeout

#2 (#10) Lethal Tide

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

Beth’s Website

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Vietnam Veteran’s Day

Today is the 54th Anniversy of Vietnam Veteran’s Day.

As a teenager I remember watching Tour of Duty on TV, but it wasn’t until recently that I really gained an understanding of what the show was actually about. As a teenager we weren’t taught anything about the Vietnam War which seems incredible considering the long term repercussions for the soldiers who fought in it. I still feel ignorant about this time in history, but thanks to some great novels now being written about it I am beginning to gain some understanding and knowledge.

The song ‘I was only 19’ by Redgum, was always an emotional song, but through my reading over the past 12 months, it has gained new meaning.

Now I feel I understand it so much more.

I’d like to share a couple of the novels that have made an impact on me and given me a small education about this terrible war.

First up is New Zealand author Carole Brungar, she has written 2 incredible novels around the Vietnam War and the young men and women who served their country. Carole says “I set out with the aim to make readers stop and think about what our veterans experienced and in many cases still are experiencing.” These two novels certainly do that and I highly recommend them both.

Screenshot_20190817_231641The Nam Legacy: The Nam Legacy is an epic love story set during the 60’s and 70’s. When the Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane drove parents crazy, teenagers found sexual freedom and peace slogans covered placards. When the Vietnam War abducted the nation’s young men and sent them to fight in New Zealand’s most controversial campaign.

After eighteen months in Vietnam, New Zealand soldier Jack Coles thought killing others to stay alive would be the hardest thing he would ever have to live with. He was wrong. Although the nightmare of what he saw and did haunt him constantly, what tortures him the most, is what he has left behind.

Not everyone who lost his life in Vietnam died there, not everyone who came home from Vietnam ever left there.

The Nam Legacy is Jack’s story

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

New Zealand author Carole Brungar has written a powerful story, starting just before the Vietnam war and continuing through the war; we see the impact the war has on everyday people and their loved ones. The people in this story had hopes and dreams, some they were able to follow and some got derailed. Evie and Jack were a great couple and Terry was the sort of friend anyone could ask for. The scenes in Vietnam were incredibly realistic and I could see myself there in the midst of things with Jack and Terry. The trials these characters went through, the growth and change, made for an emotional story which at time required tissues. It looks at PTSD which nothing was really known about back then, certainly not how to deal with it and help people. I look forward to Carole’s next book.

Screenshot_20190817_231621The Nam Shadow: From the author of the bestselling novel The Nam Legacy comes The Nam Shadow.

To carefree, naive, young soldier Terry Edwards, life’s an adventure. But how easy is it to cope with the extreme fear and intense emotions that come with the war in Vietnam, when you know life balances on the accuracy of a bullet in meeting its target? Sometimes, taking chances is the only way to stay alive.

For combat photographer Frankie Proctor, every young soldier in Vietnam has a story to tell. The problem is, can she tell it before the war claims them? Or her? Her days are filled with bloodshed and death. Sometimes, the only way to cope is to grab any opportunity you can to celebrate that you’re still alive.

Destined to belong to a brotherhood of men who live in the shadow of Nam, Terry finds himself fighting a war he never saw coming. As Vietnam eats away at him from the inside, can he outrun the shadow? Can Frankie?

“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins

The Nam Shadow is Terry’s story.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

I have just finished The Nam Shadow and I have to say I was have blown away. I loved The Nam Legacy, but this was just wow, what an amazing story. I absolutely loved reading Terry’s story, I thought he was the best friend a person could have in the first book, but he was so much more. And Frankie, she was awesome, what a character. The relationship between Terry and Frankie was so powerful and important, especially during those times in Vietnam and I was kept hoping until the end that they would both get a happy ending. Carole Brungar took me back into that war zone, back into everything those boys and Frankie went through and ripped my heart out several times.
This story covers some important issues such as PTSD and the medical issues that the majority of Vietnam Vets and their children have suffered from due to Agent Orange issues that were denied for many years.
An incredible and moving story that I highly recommend.

Screenshot_20190817_232914In The Valley of Blue Gums by J.H. Fletcher: Journalist Thea Anderson’s adventurous life has been one of endless danger. Even her childhood, where she and her mother were forced to flee Malaya in the fish–stinking hold of a junk in the dying days of colonialism, was fraught with peril.

For a time it seemed she would find safe harbour in Tasmania in the arms of winemaker Peter Torrance, but her restless spirit cannot be contained. Thea’s ambition is to travel the world as a foreign correspondent but Peter is dedicated to his family vineyard in a blue gum valley: it seems their love must fail.

Thea makes her name internationally with her coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy then the escalating war in Vietnam, one of the only women in the field. Her job leads her further into peril and death stalks her all the way, until a return to Tasmania opens the door to a new and exciting career.

Will this opportunity allow her to become reunited with the man she used to love? Or has that dream vanished, like mist in the valley of blue gums?

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

This book was so good, I loved the dual timelines, I probably enjoyed the Vietnam storyline the best, but it was all great. This is the first book by J.H Fletcher I’ve read and I must remedy that, I really enjoyed the writing and the way he is able to describe things and make me feel like I am completely there and experiencing life along with the characters. It also shows that the media and the way it continually distorts the truth is not a new thing, the way Thea’s company tries to manipulate the story she wants to tell about Vietnam to suit the story the government wants told is so spot on for the way things are today also. I enjoyed all the relationships throughout the story, and the way love can be with different people. Though I haven’t been to Tasmania, after reading this I kind of feel I’ve been there, and I would definitely like to visit. I recommend this for lovers of historical fiction. 

And lastly, but definitely not least is

davLove and Other Battles by Tess Woods:

Free-spirited hippie Jess James has no intention of falling for a soldier … but perhaps some things are not in our power to stop.

1989: Jess’s daughter, Jamie, dreams of a simple life – marriage, children, stability – then she meets a struggling musician and suddenly the future becomes wilder and complex.

2017: When Jamie’s daughter, CJ, brings home trouble in the form of the coolest boy at school, the worlds of these three women turn upside down … and the past returns to haunt them.

Spanning the trauma of the Vietnam War to the bright lights of Nashville, the epidemic of teenage self-harm to the tragedy of incurable illness, Love and Other Battles is the heart-wrenching story of three generations of Australian women, who learn that true love is not always where you seek it.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

There are three time lines threaded through this novel and three generations, all connected in the present 2017 timeline.

CJ, a Seventeen year old high-school student is dealing with and going through so many things, my heart was in my throat for the first half of this novel whenever I came to her chapters. This novel took me a lot longer to read than it normally would, not because it wasn’t good, it was fabulous, but because CJ’s plight triggered my anxiety and I had to put the book down everytime I read her part of the story. This says much about Tess’s ability to write characters that are completely relatable. The fact I could put myself in CJ’s story so completely despite having passed that point over 20 years ago is impressive. I was also able to completely relate to CJ’s mum Jamie and her struggle despite not having children of my own and Jamie’s mum, Jess’s dilemmas also, despite never having had a love like hers or never having had to deal with the turmoil and decisions she is being forced to deal with. Three generations and I could put myself in each of their shoes.

Today’s youth have an even tougher time than when I went through school. I dealt with much of what CJ deals with, but at least I didn’t have to deal with the added threat and fallout of social media and smart phones. They may have their benefits, but they most certainly have their downfalls, and the issues our children deal with need to be bought into the forefront of society’s minds and youth of both sexes need to be educated in how to behave, how to treat people and how to deal with these issues when they do arise.

Jess’s timeline starts in the time of the Vietnam War, I’ve recently read a couple of novels set during this time, which I think added an extra layer to this timeline for me. Reading about Jess and Frank and their dreams, beliefs and differences and the reality of the Vietnam war, was one of my favourite dynamics in this novel.

Jamie’s story, starting in 2000 wasn’t as involved as the other two time lines, but had a huge bearing on CJ’s story and on who Jamie is in 2017.

I loved this novel, once I passed the worst of what CJ was going through, I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished. I thoroughly enjoyed all three timeline stories and loved the way they entwined together to form the bigger picture. This is a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel, that will take you on a journey of emotions, it’s a story of love, family, secrets and so much more, dealing with many issues that need to have people thinking and talking.

 

 

Out this month is the movie Danger Close – The Battle of Long Tan which I think is going to be a hard movie to watch, but one with a story that needs to be told.

 

I pay my respects to those who fought in this war, those who lost their lives and those who live with the devastating fallout of this war.

Book Review: Lethal Tide by Beth Prentice

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I’ve just finished book #2 in the Samantha Reynolds Mysteries which is book #10 in the Aloha Lagoon series. Samantha decides once again to do some amateur sleuthing to clear her boyfriend’s name this time and ends up putting herself and her friends in danger.

I was determined to read this before book #3 (#15) comes out on the 20/8/19.

Samantha is good fun, she has a tendency to jump to conclusions and 2+2 often equals 7, but her heart is definitely in the right place and she’s extremely passionate. In this case though, I thought some of Samantha’s conclusions were fair enough and I was right there with her jumping to conclusions of my own.

So, after reading Deadly Wipeout, I thought Samantha’s boyfriend Casey was pretty wonderful. I started to have my doubts during this latest adventure; I thought maybe I’d been mistaken. He did some pretty questionable things, and his behaviour with the Lori was disheartening, I felt he should have put her in her place straight away, even though I knew nothing was happening. I have to say, I completely detested Lori from the start and that only got more intense as the story progressed. I have issues with women who make moves on another person’s partner.

This cosy murder mystery sees one of Casey friends from the past turn up at Aloha Lagoon and then subsequently is found murdered by Samantha, her brother Luke and BFF Alani. Soon after, a couple of Casey’s other past friends show up at Aloha Lagoon, this is when the questionable behaviour, secrets and conclusions (2+2=7) start to happen.

This was a great read though and a mystery that had some red herrings. I’ve often wondered if I’d chose to play amateur detective if the opportunity arose, but I think, probably not. I love how Samantha doesn’t have much of a filter and I like how she describes the people she sees; I feel for poor Detective Ray when he is questioning Samantha in his investigations.

I do worry about the number of murders that seem to happen in this small place. I’m not sure I’d want to holiday or live there after all.

Another fun read, I’m looking forward to picking up Beth’s new book Fatal Break tomorrow night since I’m lucky enough to have gotten my hands on an early copy.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Aloha Lagoon Boxset #6-10

Beth Prentice Website