New Release Book Review: The Polly Principle by Davina Stone

The Polly PrincipleIn the second book in this series by Davina Stone, we get to meet Polly properly and learn all her quirks and hangups about life and love. Love it seems is only for other people, not for her, definitely not for her, of this, she makes it abundantly clear.

When Polly meets Solo at a wedding, a quick one night is all she is wanting, but things don’t go to plan and Polly’s world begins to be turned upside down, forcing her to feel things she doesn’t want to feel, and Polly is awfully good at denial.

I really liked Solo, and I actually felt very sorry for him when it came to his relationship, or lack thereof with Polly, due to her hangups about love, she really treats him quite badly and I don’t know that I’d have stuck around the way he did if someone blew that hot and cold with me. Obviously, he saw deep inside just what Polly was trying to hide and his feelings towards her were very strong.

Solo comes with his own issues and a past that he too needs to deal with, oh this story is a complicated web of feelings for our main characters.

Polly’s family, especially her father, plays a big part in what has shaped Polly into being who she is and how she is and with her dad’s 70th birthday coming up, we get to find out more about her past.

Polly also has a complicated relationship with her body, and on this, I can completely empathise with her. Polly has beautiful curves, but she doesn’t see them, and constantly wants to change how she looks, while self-sabotaging that at the same time. Oh, Polly, my heart was with you on this one.

This was a novel of self-discovery, for both Polly and Solo, a story of healing for them also, and for Polly’s dad Ted. A really enjoyable novel, I’m looking forward to book 3 where we get to see if Carts, Polly’s friend and Solo’s housemate finds true love.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: The Jam Queen’s by Josephine Moon

The jam queensI thoroughly enjoyed Josephine Moon’s previous novel The Cake Maker’s Wish, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new novel The Jam Queen’s and this novel did not disappoint. At nearly 400 pages, I read it well into the night two nights running because I just had to know how this group of five women (Dolce being an honourary family member), faired from their trip away together.

With secrets galore, clashing and challenging personalities, traumas, romance and more this made for a fabulous read. Josephine manages to cover several topical issues, IVF, grief, transgender issues, still-birth, US shootings and a few others, but they all fill this story in a very organic way.

The personalities of Great Aunt Myrtle, Valeria, Holly, Dolce and Aggie were all so different, some more likeable than others, and they all had lessons to learn and demons to slay if they wanted to move on with their lives.

I really liked Harry, the younger man who is also taking a trip on the Ghan at the same time as Aggies and her family, there was something about him that drew me to him, I can understand the pull Aggie felt towards him when she first saw him and then actually met him. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two and held onto hope all the way to the end that things would work between them and it wouldn’t just be a fleeting romance. There was so much going on in Aggie’s life though, that I couldn’t be sure that my hopes would be met.

I wasn’t a fan of Valeria, Aggie’s mother, though I did feel sorry for her at times, to be that judgemental towards people would take a great deal of effort I imagine. Great Aunt Myrtle was a great character and I enjoyed her interactions with everyone.

Jam making was an interesting topic to learn about and I loved how much love they poured into the making of it. I was surprised at the passion and competitiveness between the family members, especially Valeria.

I absolutely enjoyed this novel and the Ghan trip through the outback definitely put itself firmly onto my bucket list.

Thanks to Better Reading Previews for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald

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The start of this novel packs a punch, the description of the wall of fire bearing down on Fran as she runs to find her daughter is so visual I was there with Fran, running from this insane firey inferno.

This was a very emotional read, at the beginning, I found the first chapters a little hard to follow, but soon I was absorbed completely in the story. It jumps back and forth between the past starting 30 years before, and present, back to when Fran was a teenager and her experiences that played a major role in her future. This small town has a dark underbelly, which we get a real feel for as the story unrolls. The back story slowly works its way toward the present day and to where the story begins.

Fran and her family could be any one of us, getting by, dealing with what life throws at us the best we can. The family relationships were complicated and Fran’s return to Ash Mountain dregs up many feelings.

There were several scenes in the story, ones that involved the boarders from the catholic boys’ school, that had me shaking with fury, and with what has been going on in our media lately, it makes me wonder if some boy’s and men’s attitudes will ever change.

The devastating impact of fire is well known in Australia and Helen’s depiction of the fire itself and the devastation is extremely real. Both for the environment itself and for the people.

I posted after finishing this novel that this book was unputdownable and it certainly was, the ending, well, I won’t spoil it, but you are in for one hell of a ride.

Thanks to Better Reading Preview for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Ulara by Leesa Bow

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This was a really good read, with a very novel storyline. A story of travel, of soulmates, forbidden love, forbidden journey’s, secrets and ultimately finding out who you are and what you want from life; a journey of self-discovery.

I loved the way Eden and her friends went off travelling, each wanting different experiences from the trip and each having a go at what the other wanted to experience regardless of whether they thought they would enjoy it or not. It makes me want to do a lot more travelling, to go out of my comfort zone and find out what is underneath.

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One of the taglines states Even if it meant doing the one thing my father warned me not to do—enter the jungle. I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me.
And I won’t come out the same.” And that is certainly true for the journey that Eden finds herself on after meeting Samuel and deciding to hunt him down because her connection to him is that strong. While at first, I felt Eden made many mistakes after arriving in the jungle, especially when not listening to Samuel and taking what he said seriously, I felt that Eden’s growth really happened after Samuel left her there alone while he went on his own journey. But Eden isn’t the only one changed by her meeting with Samuel, Samuel is also changed and they both end up questioning where their paths are heading and if what they thought they wanted still holds true.

Samuel and Eden’s connection was on a soul level, but they both had issues they struggled with when it came to forming a relationship. I enjoyed seeing the relationship develop and morph into something deep.

I really enjoyed the portrayal of life for the Ularan tribes people, I found it fascinating and an interesting way of life. I can see why they would want to stay hidden and continue their ways. It’s a shame that the environment in which they live and survive is being decimated by the greed of humanity.

Eden’s family had some interesting dynamics, some that shift as the story progresses and some that you get more enlightenment about once Eden returns from her trip. There were some secrets uncovered which may have unknown outcomes down the track for everyone.

I can’t wait for book #2 Wild at Heart due to be released in August.

To read an excerpt click here

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AUTHOR BIO

Leesa Bow is a romance author who began her writing journey years ago when her daughter fell ill. After writing for therapy Leesa now can’t imagine doing anything else. Thankful to be following her passion for romance, she is living out her own happy ever after with her husband in Brisbane, Australia.

In her spare time Leesa enjoys watching sport, having beach days with the family, catching up for coffee with girlfriends, and taking long walks. Most importantly the cinema dates with her husband to watch all the Marvel movies.

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New Release Book Review: The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

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I finished this book just before midnight, I couldn’t make myself put it down, to be continued another day just wasn’t going to happen, this book just had to be finished. It was brilliant, it left me with tears in my eyes, both happy tears and sad tears. What a remarkable story Alli Sinclair has weaved together in The Codebreakers. The amount of research that has gone into this novel is monumental and as with another wonderful Australian historical fiction novel, The Land Girls by Victoria Purman, this is a story about women and their courage and adaptability during the most trying times. A story that needed to be told, of secrets that have been kept for far too many years. Of the women who helped win the war and save countless lives.

The characters in this novel were so fully realised that it was easy to believe they were real people, to forget that it was fiction, that the author was telling the real story of these men and women is easy to believe.

Ellie, already working for the war effort as an engineer at Qantas, is recruited by Central Bureau to help crack codes, this is a highly secret division, especially for the women who work there and I could feel the internal war that Ellie waged trying to keep her job from her friends and family, it is not a situation I ever hope to find myself in.

I loved the friendships and relationships that Ellie developed, I especially loved her childhood friend Louis, what a fabulous friend to have. I loved her landlady Mrs Handley, if there was ever a mother substitute, she is the person you would want, and her friend Florry. The friendships she made with the girls in the Central Bureau were strong ones, that were sadly severed after the war. That would have been hard, losing the only people who knew what you’d been through.

So many people lost friends, lovers, husbands, sons during this time, that the urge to collapse in dispair must’ve been strong, yet everyone soldiered on, doing what had to be done and getting by the best they could.

There is a scene maybe two thirds of the way in where I had to stop and listen to one of my favourite songs.

It fit so perfectly with the story.

This was a fantastic read, which I highly recommend, full of many emotions and uncovering a long hidden history of the women who helped in the war.

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

#21booksin2021 #2021ReadNonfic Book Review: Father of the Lost Boys by Yuot A. Alaak

I was first told about this book when chatting to a couple at Holden Sheppard’s talk at Koorliny Art Centre. It sounded like a book I needed to read. Learning that Yout A. Alaak was part of our Perth community made me even more interested in reading it. When I saw he was speaking at my local library as part of the Perth Literature Festival, I immediately booked in and borrowed the book from the library.

Yuot A Alaak.jpgAs part of the Perth Literature Festival, I was just lucky enough to go and listen to Yuot A. Alaak the author of the memoir Father of the Lost Boys. Even luckier, his father, Mecak Ajang Alaak, the man the book is about, and his mother were there too. This is one book that should be read widely, one that can open up people’s minds and understandings about the trials refugees face.

Yuot’s father led 20,000 lost boys between the ages of 8-12 1000’s of km through the most dangerous of places to safety and stopped them also becoming child soldiers. More than 20 years on and unfortunately the refugee camp on the border of South Sudan and Kenya is the largest in the world with 180,000 refugees living there because it is still unsafe for them to return home.

His father was asked how he managed to logistically move that many boys. He made it sound so simple, but given the circumstances, it would have been anything but.

Review

As I sit with my feelings about the journey I have just taken, with all that Yout and his family and the 20,000 Lost Boys and thousands more refugees and South Sudanese people went through and continue to go through, I find it so hard to comprehend. To have survived what they survived is remarkable, to keep fighting (not with weapons) for the people of their country is a powerful insight into the strength and courage of these people.

Yout’s father, Mecak Ajang Alaak is an amazing role model, not just for the South Sudanese, but for everyone. The love he has for his fellow countryman regardless of which tribe or area they come from is wonderful. How he kept things together and organised keeping 20,000 boys safe on their perilous journey from one refugee camp to the next is incredible.

I feel honoured to have read Yout and his father’s story, and that of the thousands of people who shared that journey.

The brief history notes at the end of the book were an eye-opener. I truly had no idea of the way the British and the Arabs played their political games with the lives of these people. I had no idea how long they had been fighting to be independent. Another war wages now, it is hard to imagine there will ever be a time of peace, but I truly hope for the people of South Sudan, that they do get there.

 

This is part of the #2021ReadNonfic hosted by Book’d Out to encourage people to read more nonfiction.

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New Release Book Review: A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

A Week to RememberThis is the third book I have read by Esther Campion, Leaving Ocean Road and House of Second Chances were both very enjoyable reads. This one loosely connects the characters we meet in those two books but is otherwise a complete standalone.

I enjoyed returning to the small Irish town in West Cork where Ellen and Gerry have finally opened their holiday farmhouse to visitors. It is at this farmhouse where the story takes place. 7 very different characters decide to holiday at the farmhouse in that first week. A couple whose marriage is going through something, a middle-aged dentist who has lost the joy in life, a young woman who is trying to determine what she wants from life, and a long lost resident of the town who has spent half her life running from her past.

As I got to know each of the characters and uncover their backstories and see where they were at, I got very involved in hoping that things would work out the best way for each of them. Each one in their own way is trying to determine where their lives and relationships are heading and where they went wrong along the way. It was a joy to travel with these people and see where the stay in this beautiful rugged place led them in their journeys.

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

AWW 2021

 

New Release Book Review: Feral Fate by Kendall Talbot

Feral FateThis was such a great follow up to First Fate.

After the epic disasters of First Fate, the survivors of the cruise ship were hoping for rescue when they sighted land, alas, that is definitely not what they found when they landed on the tiny island in the middle of nowhere.

It is a fight for survival, and a fight to find out what each individual can endure and who can step up and lead when it is needed. With less than 100 people having survived from the original 1100, the terror and trials they’ve all been through are far from over and not all those who made it will survive.

The dynamics of this group become even more interesting and it was also interesting to see who stepped up and who fell apart. I’m pretty positive after reading this that I am definitely not cut out to be stranded on an island with little chance of survival. Shelter, food, and hope are all things that are desperately needed for these survivors.

Just as the first book ended on a cliffhanger, so does Feral Fate, I can’t wait to see what happens in the final instalment, Final Fate out in March.

AWW 2021

 

New Release Book Review:Cloudburst by Suzanne Cass


I really enjoyed this 4th book in the Stargazer Ranch series.

Penny’s story was a tough one, stalked by an abusive ex-husband, or near enough, what an unbalanced man he was. We meet Clayton again who was in previous books in this series, accused of arson, then charged with attempted kidnapping. He’s back in town, disliked and untrusted, but he’s the one to save Penny, and despite his own issues, he takes on the role of protector. I liked both these characters, their need to realise their own worth and get past their pasts.
I liked that we got to attend Cat and Levin’s wedding, after all they went through in book #1 it was nice to see them still together.

I hope somewhere down the track there’s more drama and romance to be had on Stargazer Ranch.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: The Sheikh’s Marriage Proclamation by Annie West

The sheikh's marriage proclamationI don’t read many Harlequin romances, but I can’t go past an Annie West tale.

This was an entertaining read which kept me up past my bedtime as I wanted to know how the drama all played out.

Tara our heroine is feisty and stubborn but caring and innocent. Raif our hero is charismatic, arrogant but also caring and compassionate.

I loved these two together both clearly out of their comfort zones, both with different ideas of what the future holds.

When Raif agrees to keep Tara safe from her cousin, you know where it’s going to lead, but the journey was entertaining and romantic.

Thanks to Annie West for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021