Life According to Literature Tag

life-in-literature-logo

Seen now on Theresa Smith Writes Brona’s Books and ANZ LitLovers LitBlog, I thought I might give this meme a go. Links go to my reviews.

THE RULES: Using only books you have read during the year (2019), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. Let me know below, if you’ve joined in too.

Describe yourself:
How do you feelThe Scream Behind Her Smile
Describe where you currently liveEdge of the Blue
If you could go anywhere, where would you goArctic Wild
Your favourite form of transportationRosie’s Travelling Tea Shop
Your best friend isThe Art of Friendship
You and your friends areTrue Blue
What’s the weather likeSunshine
You fearNothing But Trouble
What is the best advice you have to giveSmall Great Things
Thought for the dayWorth the Wait
How would I like to dieUnder the Midnight Sky
My soul’s present conditionA Lifetime of Impossible Days

 

New Release Book Review: Two Hearts Healing by Renee Dahlia

Two Hearts HealingTwo Hearts Healing by Renee Dahlia is book 3 in the Merindah Park series and focuses on the third sibling Serena and her trainer boss Lee.

Serena is recovering from an accident whilst riding in a horse race, she’s dealing with the recovery of both physical injuries and traumatic brain injury. It is definitely not an easy time and Renee Dahlia does a great job of showing us some of the many impacts TBI can have on a person, while reminding us it is different for everyone and whilst someone can look physically ok, that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling with hidden issues.

Serena is stubborn, whereas before the accident she would do as she was told, she is starting to find her voice and make decisions based on what she truly wants and feels is important to her, the top two things on her list are to ride again and to kiss Lee.

Lee has been blaming himself for Serena’s accident and has cut himself off from Shannon, Serena’s brother, and his friend, as well as from Serena. When she turns up unexpectedly asking for help to get back on a horse, Lee is left feeling emotions he has no idea how to deal with. His relationship with his parents has played a major role in how Lee sees himself and how he holds himself emotionally around others, and Serena is about to test every one of those walls and boundaries he has put around himself.

I really enjoyed these two characters, and while the banter between them was fun, there were also misunderstandings, arguments, and revelations. There is plenty of growth in store for both characters as they negotiate their feelings for each other and try and figure out what they want and what it means to have those things. 

We met Serena in book two Making Her Mark as she is Rachel’s twin and they were both struggling to build a real relationship between each other as they are both quite different people. While in Making Her Mark Serena had Rachel’s back, it is nice to see their relationship has continued to grow and this time Rachel is there for Serena.

I have learnt a great deal about the horseracing industry through this series, in book one Merindah Park there is the issue of gambling, then in Making her Mark I leanrt about the extra work female jockeys have to do to get the same respect as their male counterparts, and in Two Hearts Healing I learnt about the care of horses and the issue of finding the correct homes for them when they can no longer race. It is evident that Renee Dahlia has great knowledge and love of this industry and is determined to educate us about what really goes on.

I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I really hope there is a fourth for the last brother Shannon.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

FB_IMG_1577105032228 #AWW2020 #3

Book Bingo 2020 Round 1: Themes of Crime and Justice

FB_IMG_1576969010534This is the first post for Book Bingo 2020 hosted by Theresa Smith Writes & Mrs B’s Book Reviews & The Book Muse

 

IMG_20200109_212557IMG_20200109_210413

This round I am crossing off the square Themes of Crime and Justice and I am using the book Dead Again by Sandi Wallace. 

This is a great crime novel and is book 2 in the Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey series, it can be read as a standalone, but for best enjoyment, I would read book 1 first. Read my review for Dead Again here.

 

Book Review: Dead Again by Sandi Wallace

This is my #AWW2020 book #2 and I’m also joining in the Backlist Book Challenge which Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews alerted me about,  so this is my first book in #20backlistin2020.

IMG_20200109_210413I’ve had this book, Dead Again by Sandi Wallace (Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey #2) out of my library for 6 months, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have had it sitting next to my bed. I don’t know why I finally picked it up now, but I’m very glad I did as it was so good, I had trouble putting it down to go to sleep each evening. It was a ‘one more chapter’ book, but because the chapters are nice and short, I’d think, well maybe just one more.

Considering the fires all over our country right now, it was also quite a fitting read being about the aftermath of a terrible wildfire in Victoria 2 years beforehand and the search for the truth about those fires. I didn’t know this before starting reading as I didn’t read the blurb, I had it out because I read book one in 2018 and really enjoyed it. I’m now waiting for the library to get hold of book 3 for me.

In this novel, Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey is on an assignment in the small rural town of Bullock 2 years after wildfires tragically nearly wiped out the town and killed 46 people. She is there to find a story, but she finds more than she bargained for. This novel asks the questions what are the long term after-effects of a tragedy like this on the people and the town? Should people rebuild in such an area? And why would they want to? It also asks the question if it is arson and the person is caught, what would justice look like for a crime like this?

As Georgie gets to know the people in the town and builds trust with several of the characters, she starts to uncover a mystery about a missing man, is he missing or is he dead, and if he is missing, then why? Her investigation leads her to work with police officer John Harvey from Daylesford, who we met in book 1 and who Georgie had an emotional connection with. This book takes place 8 months after book 1, and that connection is still there for both of them, but can anything come of it this time since Georgie is still in a relationship. For me, a big part of my enjoyment of this book was the connection between these two characters and the relationship and banter that builds between them. I can’t wait until book 3 now to find out where this possible relationship goes.

Franklin has his own issues in his town, with vagrants, vandalism, and break-ins to investigate as well as a love triangle that may prove dangerous to all involved.

The characters are all very real and very Aussie and I could relate to many of them and see the behaviours of others as very understandable, both the good and the bad.

I really loved meeting Georgie, Fraklin and his daughter Kat, as well as the other police officers from Daylesford. I wasn’t really a fan of Georgie’s partner AJ in books 1 and that didn’t change in book 2, I admit to having my fingers crossed the whole time that they would break up.

There was plenty of intrigue and twists and turns to keep me interested throughout this novel, and I enjoyed it even more than book 1. This can be read as a standalone, but for your enjoyment, I’d read book 1 first.

You may see this book pop up again in one or more of my challenges this year as there are a few crossovers.

Goodreads                 Author Facebook                 Website               Paperback

GR Aussie Book Bingo Challenge #1

One of my challenges for 2020 was the GR Aussie Book Bingo. Every fortnight on a wednesday I will aim to post which square I’m crossing off of the GR Aussie Book Bingo card.

There are 4 levels to the challenge:

  • Shelf: (10 books – 2 rows)
  • Bookcase (15 books – 3 rows)
  • Library (20 books – 4 rows)
  • To Infinity and Beyond ( 25 books – 5 rows)

Obviously I’m aiming towards infinity.

Screenshot_20200107_220846This week it is the square Rated 4+ by a friend

I’m going with Rania Battany’s novel Fleeting Moments which was rated 5 stars by HappyValley BooksRead as well as Helen Sibbrit and Nas Dean  as well as 4 stars by Mrs B’s Book Reviews

My review was published last week and can be read here

Until next time, happy reading.

A-Z Author Challenge – Q

 

A-Z Author Challenge post #1 is Q, so, obviously I’m not going to be going in alphabethical order like I originally had in mind.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

 

I listened to the audiobook verion of this book and it is one that worked well for me, I’ll be looking for more by this narrator.

The Alice Network had me enthralled, this dual timeline narrative is set during the first World War and two years after the end of WW2.

The two main female characters were both very strong women, who did a lot of growing during the story.

Eve was a spy during the first World War and she was assigned to the Alice Network which was a real network, the most successful of it’s time. Eve’s story was full of intrigue and heart stopping moments, corruption and fear. She grapples with many issues during this time, one being her relationship formed with a betrayer of the people whilst she is undercover. This man is a truly horrible person and we meet with him in both timelines as what he does and who he is has far reaching consequences.

Charlie is from a rich American family who is being taken to get rid of an ‘unwanted’ problem. On the spur of the moment, with not much of a plan, she absconds from her mothers clutches and goes off to search for her cousin who went missing two years before in France. Her only lead is Eve, who begrudginly agrees to help (very begrudginly). After meeting Eve and hearing her story as she searches for her cousin, Charlie learns to really understand what she wants and who she is as well as learning to heal from the loss of her brother and her cousin.

Finn, Eve’s chauffeur and all job man, was a great character, I loved how he cared for Eve, and I loved how he fought his attraction to Charlie, you could feel his shift in loyalties as he got to know Charlie.

In searching for Charlie’s cousin old wounds are opened and old enemies come to the fore. We learn Eve’s story in alternating chapters, until we reach a time where she begins to tell her story to Finn and Charlie.

There were some important characters that play a big part in Eve’s story, all based on real characters. I can’t imagine the bravery and conviction these women especially, must of had to be spies during the time of war.

Eve and Charlie are both so different, but both broken and searching for something to heal that brokenness. Their relationship grows and changes throughout the story, having big impacts on them both and leading to an ending with unexpected results.

This was my first book by Kate Quinn and I’ll be looking for me to read by her in the future.

 

Book Review: Fleeting Moments by Rania Battany

I’ve finished my first book of the year and my first book in the #AWW2020 challenge and what a fabulous book to kick off the year.

IMG_20191219_111738I actually read this at the end of November, but I was having an issue with fatigue and wasn’t up to writing a review, I also had a thought in bed after reading it about why Maya, the main character annoyed me so much, but by morning it had flittered away. I thought it only fair to reread it so I could give it a proper review, and I’m glad I did. The thought that came to me after reading it the first time was, ‘Hmm I think the reason Maya annoys me so much is that in many ways I totally relate to her and she has many of the characteristics I don’t like so much in myself’, as is so often the case with things that annoy us about others.

Reading this for the second time, I could see so much of myself and some of my relationships, in Maya, it was so clear and confronting. Rania Battany says in her author’s note at the end of the book “I wanted to create a heroine that was flawed, and Maya is seriously flawed. I often read stories with strong, independent and powerful women, and while these characters may empower others, I can never relate. I wanted to create a character who had to fight her way back after loss, not only the loss of a loved one but the loss of connection with themselves and others – the loss of self-identity and relationships. Regardless of each personal journey, the struggle of fighting through a period of darkness is a universal one, and I believe Maya’s journey is one a lot of women will be able to identify with.”

Well, Ms Battany has certainly achieved this, at least as far as I’m concerned, I identified a great deal. Her author’s note really connected with me the first time I read it too. Reading Fleeting Moments for the second time, was even more satisfying in some ways than the first time, maybe because I knew how it ended and I was able to relax a little more, maybe because this time I knew why Maya annoyed me so much and because of this I had far more empathy for her this time around, just like I realise I need to have for myself.

Maya really is a great character, she is flawed and sees herself as different from others, unable to connect properly, unable to be understood, she deals with anger and hurt by withdrawing or getting angry (I feel like I’m talking about myself).

When the book starts we meet Michael, an asshole, and her longtime partner, things hit rock bottom for Maya soon after and we ride along with her for the fallout.

Then we meet Sam, (big sigh), what a gorgeous guy, (just the kind of guy I need) and maybe the kind of guy Maya needed. Sam is positive, easy-going, generous, kind and a great friend. I loved Sam and wondered why he persevered sometimes with Maya (hmm another insight into myself). I loved the relationship that Maya and Sam started to develop, the whole getting to know someone can be fraught with many challenges, especially if you are full of self-doubt.

Another element to the story is Maya’s grief at losing her father and how this has impacted just about every aspect of her life. We all deal with grief differently, there is no right or wrong way and sometimes it can be really messy. I am lucky and haven’t experienced grief like Maya, I’m not sure how I’d cope and hopefully, I won’t have to find out for a very long time, but I imagine it would be a very messy and mixed up time. Seeing how Maya had coped with this grief was heartbreaking, losing the one person she thought truly understood her, made other relationships tumble.  Maya’s relationships with her sister and her mother are difficult and I  lived alongside Maya while she worked through the issues she had with them, wondering if they could be repaired in any way. My heart really went out to all three of them, I could completely empathise with each character.

We also meet Amanda, who Maya works with and who extends to Maya a hand in friendship. Amanda, and what she is dealing with, is a reminder that we need to connect with others, that we need to see past what is there on the surface and get to know people and find out how they really are coping with life. Connections with others are so important and we can all gain so much from taking the time to get to know people on more than a surface level.

This is a story of loss, grief, hope, love, friendship and finding oneself amidst the chaos of this thing we call life. This is a story I am sure I will revisit again one day because Rania Battany certainly achieved her goal of writing a character I was able to identify with and one that would give me hope “that healing is possible no matter how deep the pain

Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review. Thanks also to the author for giving me so much to think about and work on in my own life.

Author’s Facebook                  Website               Goodreads

Amazon AU            Amazon US              Amazon UK

FB_IMG_1577105032228   #AWW2020 1/50