New Release Book Review: The Forever Place by Michelle Montebello

The Forever PlaceThis was a really great read, a compassionate look at a woman struggling with alcohol addiction and the havoc it plays with her life and those around her.

I was completely engaged in this story from start to finish, I felt so much compassion for Marley and her struggle with alcohol addiction and the choices she makes and the impact this has on her relationships and her professional life.

Sometimes it really does take hitting rock bottom to make you take a look at what is going on, and for Marley it took hitting rock bottom and an ultimatum from her sister before she is willing (albeit under duress), to make a change.

Marley is a criminal defence attorney whose life was badly affected by the repercussions of a case she worked on a couple of years before. Without being aware of it, alcohol has become more than just a fun time. I could relate to this myself and really felt for her when she became aware just how much she was relying on alcohol to function and also how much certain relationships relied on that alcohol consumption.

Michelle Montebello introduces us to ‘Blue Zones’ which are some of the healthiest places on earth to live, (there is a link in the back of the book if you want to know more), White Cedar Island is off the coast of Nova Scotia (this is actually a made-up blue zone based on the real blue zones, which is a shame because I could have lived there myself for half a year (the summer half) if it had been real). Cedar Island is a small community with healthy eating, mostly a vegan diet, self-sustainable for the most part and very little alcohol available.

Marley originally goes there for two weeks to dry out after her sister’s ultimatum, this is extended when she makes friends with her landlady Noelle, who plays a big part in Marley’s recovery, and with Lachlan, a lovely guy who befriends her, along with his gorgeous dog, and realises if she returns to her life at this point she will go back to drinking and nothing will change. I admired Marley’s determination, once she admitted she had a problem, to make changes in her life.

She has some hard decisions to make during her time on the island and she also makes some bad decisions too, I wanted to pull her aside and say nooo don’t do it, but she had to make her own mistakes in order to learn and move forward.

I think that Marley and Lachlan both had very real flaws, ones that made them both easy to relate to. There were a couple of not so nice characters who played quite important roles in Marley’s life and the outcomes that occurred, both on the island and back in Australia.

This really was a wonderful read, an emotional one, highlighting the very real struggle of addiction that so many people deal with every day.

Thank you to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Michelle Montebello for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Rewind by Tania Joyce

rewindRewind is book #5 in the Everhide Rockstar Romance series and follows the couple we met in Ruined #2, Kara and Hunter which I thoroughly enjoyed.

This was another emotional read, (you may need tissues), Kara and Hunter have now been together for a year and things are going well until Kara decides she wants to try for a baby using a surrogate. Kara and Hunter’s journey to becoming parents and at the same time following their dreams is full of ups and downs and plenty of struggles and drama.

I have to say, I found Kara slightly selfish and single-minded in Ruined, but she takes it up another level in Rewind and I found it hard to deal with. Yes, she wants a baby desperately, but she didn’t take Hunter’s thoughts or career into account at all instead she just didn’t let up at him until he changed his mind and went the way she wanted to. Saying that I still very much enjoyed Rewind, and about halfway through Kara becomes a nicer person to deal with. 

Hunter and his friends from Everhide are reaching new heights and they have the next two years of their career planned out, a new album and touring. I found Gemma seemed to flip-flop in her feelings about Hunter and the baby issue and seeing as Kara was one of her best friends I found her slightly lacking in support. Kyle, I loved, he was a good friend and supportive all the way through. 

Hunter doesn’t only have to deal with Kara wanting a baby, but also with having problems with his voice, something no lead singer would find easy to deal with. I really felt for him in this, though I did think he should have listened to the experts to start with, everyone has to make their own choices and mistakes and there were possible negative side effects with surgery so I could see where he was coming from.

I really enjoyed getting to know Kara’s sister better and I thought the gift she gave to Kara and Hunter was something very special, and her husband for supporting that choice. Kara’s parents are as toxic as they were previously and I didn’t like them at all and I would have preferred a different ending when it came to their relationship with Kara, but maybe I’m just cynical.

Despite my issues with some of the characters’ behaviours and choices, I really enjoyed reuniting with the Everhide family and enjoyed taking the emotional journey with Hunter and Kara especially after the struggles they had been through and overcome in the past. Theirs is a love that burned strong despite all their differences and they both needed to see what was important if they wanted to be together.

Thank you to Tania Joyce for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Pause by Kylie Scott

Pause is the second book in the Larsen Bros series, the first being Repeat which I haven’t managed to read yet, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of this short novel at all though.

We meet Anna and Leif, both of who have been affected by an accident that put Anna in a coma for 7 months and damaged Leif’s shoulder. Anna awakes to find she’s been betrayed by her husband and best friend, two very unlikeable characters. She meets up with Leif and they hit it off straight away.

I really enjoyed this friends to lovers story of two unlikely people who just seem to fit with each other. I loved Leif, he was a sweet guy despite struggling with his demons. Anna was trying to find her feet after her world fell apart while she was asleep.

Leif’s brother Ed and his wife Clem make great supporting characters whose story I will definitely go and read asap (it’s been on my kindle for 12 months).

This was a low angst, slow burn read which I really enjoyed.

Thanks to Social Butterfly PR for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: Chasing Fate by Mia Monroe

Chasing Fate (Friendship and Desire #2)Another sweet MM read by Mia Monroe, I loved Diego and Sydney, best friends reconnecting after years apart. There were a few angsty thoughts for these two, both afraid to want something they thought the other didn’t want, especially Sydney who had underlying fears he wasn’t admitting to. I really liked that they were able to fall back into their old friendship so easily, there are few friendships in life that can be picked up so easily and it’s always a great thing when it happens.

The friends with benefits who fall for each other is a well-known trope, especially under the guise of helping the other explore their sexuality, but I still enjoyed the journey it took these two to get to their eventual happy ever after. I appreciated that these guys were in their 30s and making major changes in their personal and professional lives, it is always a scary thing to make changes and take new paths and I was glad Sydney had the full support of Diego behind him, he never would have gotten out of his rut if it wasn’t for him reigniting his passions., we all need someone to remind us of our passions.

I loved seeing how Dom and Zach were going from Dirty Forty and catching up with the other support cast. I’m glad to see Hayden gets a book next, I love his flamboyant character.

Thanks to the author for providing me with an ARC in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review : The Painting by Alison Booth

img_20210606_142209I couldn’t put this book down, it drew me in completely, the descriptive writing was well done, and had me able to imagine the people and places where this story took place, as well as being able to see ‘The Painting’ that Anikar loves and which causes so much drama for her and those around her. 

This novel had two aspects I enjoy, a good mystery and history written in a way I can appreciate, empathise and learn from. I love learning as I read. Set in 1989, in Sydney, Anika, who immigrated from Hungary 5 years previously, during the time of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall and all that came with it, has escaped a past she tries to forget, but which is a constant in her life, from tapped telephone calls to her family, memories of being arrested by the secret police and a constant distrust of letting people in. I admit to not knowing as much as I feel I should about this time in history and I appreciate novels that can give me insight into this time and place, I was 14 in 1989 and I new next to nothing about what was going on on the other side of the world, and what people had to endure during this time. 

When Anika left Hungary to live with her aunt Tabilla, who had escaped over the border into Austria many years before, after the death of her husband and immigrated to Australia, she brings with her a painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress, that was once her uncle’s posession. This painting is the catalyst for everything that happens; secrets, lies, theft and distrust, as Anika’s life is thrown into the centre of a mystery about where the painting came from, who owns it and who is telling the truth. Anika starts to doubt everything her parents and her grandmother have told her about the painting as questions about it’s providence arise, it is stolen, and someone discloses a secret from his past. 

I could really feel Anika’s struggle as she meets the three men that will turn her world around. Daniel, a curator from the art gallery of NSW, who offer’s to help her get the painting valued, but who also seems interested in her as a person, Jonno, who she meets at the art gallery who doesn’t seem trustworthy and turns out to be a jounalist, and Julius, a friend of her aunt’s, an art collector, who is more than a little weirded out when he sees the painting. Anika already struggles to trust people and open up to them and when the painting it stolen, she doesn’t know who to trust, each man seems to have a motive and each one is suspious in his behaviour in some way. I myself wasn’t sure who could be trusted and though I initially liked Daniel, I wasn’t completely sure about him. 

Things that come to light after the painting is stolen,  the history of the Nazi’s and the Russian’s looting and stealing art works, and her own families secretiveness around the painting, cause Anika a great deal of stress and when the Iron Curtain falls and she is able to return safely to Hungary to visit her parents, she goes determined to uncover the mystery and get some answers. 

It is during this trip that she also learns to trust and to heal and right one of the wrongs of the past. 

This paragraph from near the end of the novel really spoke to me:

“Her thoughts floated free. Free of drag, free of resistance, and she felt an expanding sense of detachment. Not only was she seeing the earth from a different vantage point but she was seeing her life in a new way too. Generations of her family had been scarred by upheavals, and their stories where multiplied millions and millions of times all over the globe. Everywhere there were people like them. Damaged people, displaced people. But there were survivors too.”

This was a fabulous read and I will be looking to catch up on this authors backlist if this book is anything to go by, I am sure I will enjoy them. 

 

Release Blitz: Pause by Kylie Scott

Image preview

Pause, an all new emotional friends-to-lovers standalone romance from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott is available now!

An unpauseable new romance from New York Times bestselling, Audie Award winning author Kylie Scott!

When Anna wakes up from a coma after a car crash, she discovers life has gone on without her. Her husband has been unfaithful—with her best friend—and she’s been long since replaced at work. While her old life is a distant memory, her new life feels like an empty shell. Then she meets the stranger who saved her life during the crash, and he changes everything.

Leif Larsen—tattooist, joker, and player—has his own scars thanks to the crash that put Anna in a coma. Helping her move on from her failed marriage, and create a new life, sounds like a perfect distraction. So when he needs a new roommate, he invites Anna to begin her new life with him.

Although their lives may have been put on pause, together they just might find a way to heal.

Grab yours today!   Amazon       Amazon Worldwide       Apple Books      Nook       Kobo  Amazon Paperback

Add Pause to Goodreads

About Kylie Scott

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

Connect with Kylie   Amazon     Bookbub     Facebook    Twitter     Instagram    Goodreads  Pinterest     Book+Main Bites

Stay up to date with Kylie by joining her mailing list     Website 

Book Review: Red Dirt Heart series by N.R. Walker

Red dirt heart seriesThis was a wonderful series, I flew through all 4 books one after the other, I  adored Travis and Charlie, such different people who fit together just right.

I felt for Charlie, growing up ashamed of being gay, a father who made him feel less than and unloved, struggling to make his dead father proud while hiding who he is from the community and deciding he doesn’t deserve to find that special someone. Then along comes Travis, a Texan who believes he was meant to come to Sutton Station, meant to meet Charlie and that they were meant to be together if only he can convince Charlie of this.

I loved reading about station life, I can’t even imagine how hard farming is out there in the Territory, but I do know how amazing those open plains were when I drove through 10 years ago. Charlie comes a long way in the Red Dirt Heart series,  he has a lot of healing to do and a long way to go to completely believing in himself as more than just a farmer.

The supporting cast, the other farm workers, who have become his family, a family that grows over the course of the series, and Ma and George who were his true parents in every way were all wonderful characters to get to know.

There were plenty of emotional times throughtout this series as Charlie heals and grows, Ma gets sick, Travis may have to leave the country for good, Charlies mother returns out of the blue, bring secrets long buried with her and Travis and Charlie go through their ups and downs. But there were plenty of laughs along the way as the Sutton Station crew live their lives in a harsh environment that is full of love.

I highly recommend this series.

AWW 2021

Book Review: Treasured Secrets by Kendall Talbot

Treasured Secrets: 1I bought this book back in 2015 and it has been sitting there waiting for me to read it ever since, when hearing book 4 was being released shortly I thought I should do something about reading it (I also have book 2 waiting which I bought in 2016, that’s up next).

This was an action-packed read with danger in unexpected places and secrets which have been buried for 100’s of years.

Archer and Rosalina’s relationship ends because he won’t open up and tell her his own secrets, when she comes across something in a church in Italy that is reminiscent of a pendant Archer wears, she contacts him demanding he tells her where he got it. And so begins the start of a treasure hunt.

Archer and Rosalina are still very much in love, but Rosa has tried to move on and Archer hasn’t been able to open up and tell her his heartbreaking secrets. Now it is time for them to reassess and hope that they both get a chance for a second chance at love as well as staying alive long enough to make that happen.

The bad guy is a crazy priest, who had me scared because of just how crazy he was, determined to find the treasure himself, he’ll go to any lengths to make it happen.

The supporting characters were fun to get to know too and I hope we see more of them in the next book.

This was an enjoyable read and I  can’t wait to see where this treasure leads them next in Treasured Lies.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

IMG_20210630_183741.jpgI knew from the first couple of chapters that I was going to thoroughly enjoy this novel.

Mercy was a character I felt a connection with immediately, I think reading books that deal with issues such as grief, anxiety and other mental health issues are important because we can realise we are not the only ones struggling with these issues. Mercy hasn’t left her house for nearly two years due to her anxiety taking over her life. We don’t know what happened to start with that led to anxiety disorder taking over her life, but as we travel along with Mercy in her little old van with her little Dachshund Wasabi, she slowly lets herself think about what transpired, how it has affected her life, and slowly allows herself to open up to the people she meets along the way.

Having made my own unplanned road trip from Queensland and down the centre of Australia then across to Perth, I loved travelling with Mercy on her trip in the opposite direction up the Stuart Highway. I also remember stopping at various shops along the way picking up things I had forgotten or didn’t think I’d need, along with having no esky let alone a fridge, and a camp stove and one saucepan, I definitely understood her challenges. Travelling alone and trying NOT to worry about where to camp each night and was it safe, I’m lucky I didn’t have the level of anxiety that Mercy did.

This was a story of awakening, of learning who she was and what she was capable of but most important, it was a journey of healing. I felt a great deal of compassion for Mercy, both because of her debilitating anxiety and because of what she had gone through. I really appreciated her journey, though completely spontaneous, unthought out and due to another trauma, the burning down of her house, the only safe place she’s had for two years, this journey, to The Other Side, was exactly what she needed.

I loved the characters she met along the way, the Grey Nomads travelling in their caravans and various 4WD’s, travelling for all sorts of reasons, many to feel they are still alive. I liked Scottish Andy who was running away in his own way from his ex-wife’s new marriage. The connection he had with Mercy made a big impact on her over the week of bumping into him along the way and I think this helped them both in being able to look towards the future.

Kim Lock has done a great job of portraying Mercy and her anxiety and the traumas that have lead to her removal of herself from everything in her life. This was a novel I didn’t want to put down until the very end, and even then I hoped there was more.

Thank you to #TheBookStack and Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

Half year round up

Wow, 6 months has gone by in a bit of a flash, I’ve fallen down a bit in my reviewing, but I’m hoping I can get back on track from now on. I have read some great books this year so far and thought I’d share 6 of my favourite, one for each month, a hard thing to do.

I’ve read 147 books out of 150 for my Goodreads challenge, these consist of physical books, ebooks and audiobooks, I think I’ll make it don’t you.

And according to my kindle I have read far more than that in ebooks alone. I’ve also read for 153 weeks in a row and 297 days in a row, so that’s pretty cool.

Future Girl

So my first book I’m picking is Future Girl by Asphyxia I didn’t get around to writing my thoughts on this yet, but it was a great #ownvoices YA read by an Australian author who is deaf. Her character is deaf and I learnt a lot about the deaf community and Auslan. She also is a big advocate of being self sufficient and the book is full of ideas on growing your own veggies and composting etc. Set in the near future in Australia, it seems very real possible furture in some ways. I read this back in January, so the fact it has stayed with me all that time says a lot. I actually got the library to buy this in for me, it is written in the form of an art journal and I felt a physical copy was necessary to get the full experience.

The Boy from the Mish

Next is another I haven’t written my thoughts on, another library book, aren’t librarys wonderful, was The Boy From the Mish by Garry Lonesborough another #ownvoices YA novel, a coming of age book about an indigenous boy struggling with his sexuality in an outback community. A powerful read full of emotions.

Raft of Stars

Next is Raft of Stars by Andrew J. Graff I did actually write a small review for this one: What an emotional story on so many levels. I was taken for a ride right along with these boys who are running from their actions and the adults who are running to save them. The descriptive writing was wonderful and I was completely swept up in this story, swept along that river with its many faces, not quite sure until right at the end what the outcome was going to be. A story of friendship, consequences, actions, and reactions, love and grief; the outcome of the boys’ actions will have consequences for everyone involved.

A Home Like Ours

A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe was a fabulous read, see my review here. A novel which covers a lot of important topics such as racism, homelessness, refugees, single mothers and domestic abuse.

The Things We See in the Light

Next is The Things We See in the Light by Amal Awad an #ownvoices novel that had me gripped from the start. This novel grabbed hold of me, pulled me in and refused to let me go until I’d finished. I was immediately drawn to Sahar and the story of her past journey in Jordan, married to a man she barely knew, as it is slowly revealed to us, as well as her present journey discovering who she is now she has taken control of her life.

I loved that Sahar was in her 40s and still discovering who she was, there’s hope for me still.

The cast of characters surrounding Sahar were so wonderfully varied, all with quirks and their own issues. My favourite was Luke, I enjoyed watching him open up and in turn cause Sahar to open up to new possibilities also.

I loved this story, it spoke to me in many ways, a story of friendship, love, of journeys with plenty of lessons to learn along the way, I enjoyed every minute of it.

Father of the Lost Boys

And lastly, ahhh this was hard to pick one last book, but I’ve gone with a non-fiction read, a memoir by a South Sudanese man who now calls Perth his home. Father of the Lost Boys by Yuot Alaak this was a powerful read and showed just what people are capable of, both the good and the bad. See my review here.

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I’m currently reading The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock, I’m nearly half way through and I think this will be going on one of my top reads for 2021.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the 147 books I’ve read so far, the link to my reader challenge is here.

I’d love to know your thoughts on any of these books if you’ve read them or are wanting to read them. And I’d love to know what your favourite books of 2021 are so far.