20backlistin2020 Book Review: The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

Not too much of a backlist novel, but still one I’m glad to finally have read.

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What a great crime read this novel was, and surprisingly not set in Tasmania. Instead, this is set in the New England region of NSW in 1966. The cover alone has plenty of sinister feels about it and the author does a great job of depicting the setting.

There was plenty of suspense throughout, as demoted former detective Mick Goodenough (pronounced Goodno) tries to uncover who might be making threatening phone calls to the Humphries’ residence along with trying to figure out who is killing pets and if it’s more sinister than just animals.

Mick is thwarted at every turn by corrupt, incompetent, and lazy colleagues and he really struggled to make headway in the cases.

The star of the story though is young Hal Humphries who finds the body of the dog that’s been killed and who is determined to play Sherlock and figure out who is calling his house, a person they’ve named The Whistler.

There’s plenty of people doing the wrong things in this small town, where racism is rife. I changed my mind several times about who had done which crimes, and it’s near the end where the perpetrator is pushed too far that things become clear.

If this is Greg Woodland’s debut novel, I’ll definitely be looking out for his next one.

Thanks to Netgalley and Text Publishing Company for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

An unusual boy

I went into this novel not knowing much about it and found that it was a fabulous read, I do like it when you stumble upon a great and original read. It was a novel full of heart, of differences, of family and friends, a story with a warning about online gaming and lack of supervision of our children.

This is a novel about an atypical ‘neurodiverse’ 11-year old boy, Jackson, and his atypical family and an incident that turns their lives upside down. I found it hard to put this down. My heart was in my throat several times throughout when the incidents with his ‘friend’ Digby occurred and when he has to deal with the policewoman. Fiona has done a wonderful job of portraying these characters, especially Jackson, who I fell in love with from the start. What a wonderful young boy, but I could see and understand the toll it took on his parents at times, trying to understand his differences. I loved learning about the way Jackson’s mind worked and how this leads to some of the traumatic things that happened to him in this novel. I work with people with special needs and it is always good to get an insight into some of the issues they may have.

Jackson’s sisters, Milla and Ruby, were both amazing the way they were with him and I loved his younger sister who came out with some great comments. His dad Andy, didn’t know how to deal with him, which I found sad, but understandable, while his mum Julia, did everything she could to try and understand and work with his behaviours. I thought the way the relationship with Nana Pam changed between herself and Julia was really lovely and just shows you that when your chips are down, it can often be the people you least expect who have your back. There are a couple of secondary characters who were a wonderful support to Jackson and his family, but there were also characters in the background who because of Jackson’s differences, jumped to conclusions and made things worse for them.

This was an emotional read and a powerful one. I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a heartwarming read dealing with some important issues.

Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

The BluffsI’m not sure how I felt about this novel. I wanted to love it, I’d read so many great reviews, and while it had me turning pages and reading too late into the night, there were things that just didn’t work for me.

in another novel set in Tasmania, with the disappearance of four girls on a school camping trip, the hunt is on to find them. There was a crime years previously involving the disappearance of four girls then too. A legend call The Hungry Man is tied into the disappearances.

Told from three different characters perspectives, the lead cop Con, a drug dealer, Murphy whose daughter is one of the missing girls, and a teacher Eliza Ellis.

This was a small town with some serious problems, police corruption, bullying, drugs, sexual abuse of minors to name a few.

Kyle Perry does a great job with the setting, though all these crime novels are definitely making me reconsider visiting Tassie. The characters too are well written. The issue I had was that there were so many twists and it started to feel completely unbelievable. I knew one of the characters was involved for quite a while, little things that just didn’t feel right. But it really got to a point where I started thinking, seriously? Is this where it’s going now.

The story was well told, but there was just too much going on with too many characters, too many backstories, and too many things I found unrealistic.

Overall I enjoyed it, just not as much as I’d been hoping for.

New Release Book Review: Wildfire by Suzanne Cass

WildfireThis was an enjoyable beginning to a new romantic suspense series, Stargazer Ranch Mystery, set in Montana, which sounds like a beautiful place. It’s worth reading the prequel Combustion before reading Wildfire as it sets up the background for the relationship between Cat and Levi.

Tough motorcycle riding nomad Cat is determined not to let anyone into her heart. Levi, the new ranger makes this a very difficult task, however.

I really liked both these characters, Levi was definitely a honey. I enjoyed the relationship between these two very different characters, opposites can definitely attract, especially when one can see inside the other.

There’s an arsonist on the loose and when Cat returns, so does the arsonist. This is a fast-paced read, things get pretty hairy for Cat and Levi and there are a few people looking good as the culprit. Don’t expect to find out who it is by the end of this first book, there’s more of this mystery to come in the next book.

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

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New Release Book Review: Beneath the Fear by Leah Ashton

Beneath the FearThis is book 4 in the Elite SWAT series set in WA and should definitely be read as part of the series for maximum enjoyment.

I enjoyed this newest book in the Elite SWAT series, each one has been a great read, but this one is grittier and sexier than the others.

This one centres around the Notechi motorcycle club who hasbeen causing some issues around town. Claudia is the main character who is unfortunately involved in the club and desperately needs to get out after the guy she was with is now dead.

Noah is undercover at the club as Jed, a fighter who needs to prove that he belongs.

The chemistry between these two was immediate, and so was the trouble that that chemistry caused. Despite it not being the smartest thing, the chemistry between these two is too much for either of them to not take some big risks.

This was once again a fast-paced read that kept me turning pages to see if they’d both escape the club, at the same time as hoping they’d be able to bring it down.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

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

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Book Review: Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

Jane in LoveI absolutely adored this novel, I listened to the audiobook on the way to and from work and I didn’t want my journey to end. I actually drove past my freeway exit one morning because I was so engrossed in the story, and the next day had me sobbing so hard I could barely see where I was going.

I haven’t actually read a Jane Austen novel, I have seen adaptations of one or two of her novels, but other than that I know very little about her. This certainly didn’t affect my enjoyment of this novel, and I might actually be inspired to try one of her novels after listening to this one.

I do enjoy a good time travel novel and this one was just wonderful, such a different take on Jane Austen and her life whilst filled with what-might-have-been.

When Jane pops into the 21st century she is met by Sophia, a nearly has-been actress who ends up helping Jane, even though she would much rather be rid of this slightly crazy-seeming woman who says she is from the 1800s and is in this time a famous author and favourite of Sophia’s. While Sophia promises to help Jane get back to her own time, she is warned not to discover anything about this time, for fear it will alter history. This unsurprisingly doesn’t go as planned. I enjoyed the romance that blossomed between Jane and Fred, Sophia’s brother, it was sweet and as I listened, I wondered if it could possibly work out, I so wanted it to for both of their sakes.

Ulimately, I highly recommend this novel which was full of heart and humour.

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New Release Book Review: Keeper of the Light by Leanne Lovegrove

Isn’t it funny, that even when you know a novel is going to have a happy ending, you can get to parts in the story that make you scared to read any further in case something bad happens and things don’t work out.

There were several moments during this novel where I held my breath and didn’t want to read any further, there was even one part where I had to skip ahead to make sure things would be OK, something I very very rarely do. But Leanne Lovegrove certainly had me on edge for quite a bit of this story.

I just loved Luca, the young Italian man who gets washed up on Bruny Island and awakens young and naive Esther to what love is. From the moment they meet, their lives are bound forever, but oh my God, what a journey they had, Esther especially, making it to forever.

I detested Esther’s mother and my feelings for her sister Margaret were nearly as strong. Both were horrible characters who had no redeeming features at all and I was disappointed that they didn’t get what they deserved. They disappointed Esther as well, but she was better off with them out of her life.

There were some great supporting cast members in this novel, especially the friends that Luca made in Hobart. There were also some not so likeable supporting cast members and I just can’t fathom how people can become as nasty as they do.

Racism is one theme that runs through this novel, from the outright blatant kind to the more subtle but just as insidious kind. In this case, it was racism against the Italian people who came over to forge a new life for themselves. It seems like racism is one thing that will never die, it will just shift from race to religion to anything else that makes people uncomfortable, some people will always find reasons to hate people who are different to them.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, despite the fact I couldn’t relax for half the novel because I was so worried Luca and Esther wouldn’t get their happy ever after.

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

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New Release Book Review: Transit of Angels by Desney King

IMG_20201004_174817.jpgThis novel was exquisite in every way, the language and imagery drew me in and led me along on a beautiful journey, where the landscape and settings were as clear as if I were there myself. Desney King’s writing is like poetry and conveys so much depth.

This is far more than just a story of grief, I went into this novel knowing very little about it and I had no idea the journey I was about to be taken on or how deep this novel would prove to be.  

My journey with Angel was a powerfully moving one, I didn’t want to break the connection, even wandering along the beach at a determinedly slow pace so that I could continue to read as I walked.

From the very start, this novel had me in tears and by the end, I’d been through every emotion I can think of. The tears came on and off completely unexpectedly at times and near the end, I felt I was about to have my heart ripped out again.

I loved Angel, as she dealt with her grief, and as she explored what happens to us after death, as she looked for signs and asked is there still a connection to our loved ones? I loved how she used art to help her heal, being an Art Therapist I know how powerful a tool this can be. And how she allowed the quaint mudbrick cottage on the river to help heal her. 

So much of the spiritual nature of this novel spoke to me, many of the ideas that Angel learns about are the very things I’ve been searching for and dabbling in for nearly 20 years. Maybe this book is a message for me to take up the search again.

The cast of characters that help Angel through her loss were wonderful, all with their own painful pasts and secrets, all who have learnt or are still learning to move on with life. I especially loved Clyde, an older gentleman who becomes a friend and a great source for Angel to learn about the spiritual realm. There were also characters who weren’t so nice, who were judgemental and unsupportive, but even these people have lessons for Angel to learn.

This is a novel that will stay with me, and one that I will revisit again in the not distant future.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Release date for this novel is 19th October 2020.

Preorder now Booktopia AU   Bookdepository    Amazon AU    Amazon US    Amazon UK

Book Review:The Great Divide by L.J.M Owen

IMG_20201002_003203.jpgThis novel should come with a warning ‘don’t pick up to read a couple of chapters before bed’ 189 pages later and at 12.30am I had to force myself to put it down

***note, I ended up finishing this at 2am because I stupidly thought I could read just one more chapter 🤣🤣🤣🤣

As you can guess, I thought this was a brilliant read. The writing and characters drew me in and kept me reading, determined to find out who was behind the crime and the mysteries and why.

I really liked Detective Jake Hunter who has transferred to Tasmania from the mainland because of some personal issue that he is running from which we slowly uncover as the story progresses. He was a smart guy and liked to do things by the book at the same time as trying to fit in with his new colleagues and the new community.

The original crime, the murder of an old lady, Ava O’Brien who ran a home for orphan girls or ‘the bad girls home’ as it is widly known in the community, is by far the least of the crimes that have been committed. As Jake starts to delve into the background of Ava O’Brien he begins to uncover some seriously disturbing finds to do with the home and the young girls who lived there.

A couple of the girls from the home still live in the village, one suffering from mental health issues. as their stories are uncovered and truths are brought out into the open during Jake’s hunt for the murderer, I found it hard to understand how people could do the things they did to these girls.

Jake has to deal with a pretty incompetent Constable Murphy and a Sergeant who doesn’t play completely by the rules and seems to undermine his investigation whenever he can. Jake doesn’t give up though and I really enjoyed the way he followed each lead whereever it went, determined to uncover the truth. I liked Dr Meena Gill who was extremely switched on and worked well with Jake.

This was a great murder mystery novel and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, well, I hope there is to be a next book, the epilogue certainly left it open for one.

Another novel set in Tasmania that I’ve read this year, I must get there one day, mind you with the amount of crime that seems to happen there, I’m not sure if it’s safe to do so.

Book Review: The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott

The Rain HeronThis novel was something different, full of magical realism set in a time that isn’t too far off for us climate-wise, this was an original read full of descriptive and emotive language.

I enjoyed this novel, but I wanted to enjoy it more than I did given the reviews I’d read before picking it up. Whether it was just my mood when I read it I don’t know, but it took me quite a long time to make my way through this novel.

With a mythological slant, we meet several characters whose lives intersect, mistakes are made and important lessons are learned. Initially, we meet the Rain Heron, a beautiful and magical bird I could see clearly in my mind. We meet soldiers in the jungle, hunting for the Rain Heron, determined to get it no matter what, despite not knowing why their superiors want it; blind obedience. We then go to a coastal village where magical ink is harvested from giant squid by a select few using a method held secret by those who give their life to this job, where an encounter with a man from the north has drastic consequences. Back to the soldiers and the Rain Heron, and the outcome of the hunt and capture of this magical creature. There are plenty of lessons hidden within this story.

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