New Release Book Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart

IMG_20210606_201243.jpgI thoroughly enjoyed this cosy mystery type novel, not a genre I read a lot of, I have a few favourite authors in this genre, so it was nice to add a new one to that list.

I enjoyed Poppy McGowan’s character, I liked that she didn’t have it all together and wasn’t perfect, I loved that she felt strongly about different topics and wasn’t afraid to stand up for those beliefs.

Poppy was a fun character who most people liked, but she wasn’t bothered if they didn’t, she was who she was even when being investigated for murder by the police.

There was a full cast of characters in this novel, Poppy and her crew from the ABC, her friend Annie and her ex-coworkers from the museum, including Julieanne who is found dead in her house, the members of the Australian Family Party (a party I wouldn’t vote for if you paid me, and I’m glad Poppy felt the same way), and the members of the Radiant Joy Church, (another group of people I’d have no time for), who overlap with those from the political party, (I think religion should never play a part in politics, but that will never happen).

There was plenty of humour, a dash of romance and plenty of mystery once Julieanne’s body is found in Poppy’s house. I felt for Poppy when first some old bones put her renovation of hold and then Julieanne’s death compounds that, but I liked how even though she was unhappy, she took it pretty much in her stride while doing her best to help track down the murderer and managing to get some insider scoops for the ABC on her way.

This was a fun read, which kept me completely engaged, I had my suspicions about who the murderer was, but I wasn’t 100% correct. There are a few topical issues raised along the way and I appreciated Poppy’s thought’s on these. I look forward to more Poppy McGowan mysteries in the future.

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

Book Review: Stealing Time by Rebecca Bowyer

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This is the first novel I have read by Rebecca Bowyer, though I have her first novel Maternal Instinct sitting on my kindle and I will have to get to it soon.

Stealing time is a dystopian science fiction novel set in a future that doesn’t seem like it could be too far away, which is a pretty scary concept. In a time where the planet’s resources are dwindling, people’s lifespans have been set, using an implanted chip which they receive at birth, to only allow them to live until they are 65. To even get to live to 65, they have to work a certain amount of hours and be productive to society.

Someone has found a way of ‘stealing time’ from these chips and giving it to another person, and children are the best resource to steal this from as they have the most amount of life to steal. This first happened 10 years before, but the people were caught and the technology was supposedly destroyed.

One of the main characters, Dr Varya Galanos who invented the chip, carries this as a burden, along with a secret she has been hiding from all but a few people. Her son who should have died of cancer is being kept alive in a time chamber of sorts. I can’t begin to imagine what this would be like for the child who lives each day at the same age in the same place while his mother is supposed to be researching to find a cure for the rare cancer that is trying to kill him. Her mother, her friend Zoe and her friend/employee Marisa are the only ones who know.

When Zoe’s child is stolen and returned near death by the time stealers, Varya has to help her friend save her child. Secrets start to unravel and Varya becomes even more secretive and desperate than previously as everything, including the time for her son, starts to come to a head.

This was an interesting novel, and as I said, disturbing in a way that I could see something like this coming about, hopefully not in my lifetime, but not too far off. Already, the elderly aren’t often held in high regard, we are overpopulated in many areas and resources are running out or being destroyed by greed and governments and corporations. It doesn’t seem too far fetched that time chips and rations on things we take for granted could become a real thing.

It is also the exploration of just how far a mother would go to save her child, and this alone is quite scary, a bit like another novel I read recently, once again set in an Australia not too far away where a mother is pushed to her limits to save her children. It would seem, parents, but mothers especially, have no limits when it comes to saving their children.

Thank you to Rebecca Bowyer for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: A Doctor’s Gift by Fiona McArthur

The Doctor's GiftThis was a really enjoyable medical romance, I very much appreciated learning more about donor transplants, and I could understand the hesitancy of Ailee in not wanting to start a relationship until she had been through the process of donating to save her brother’s life. I also liked the fact we got the recipients struggles that they went through when receiving a donor organ, I’d never given a thought to the fact they might be anything other than thrilled to receive a possibly life-saving organ, but there is so much more to consider.

Fergus was lovely and I loved that he put his heart on the line when pursuing Ailee. His daughter was delightful too and added an extra dynamic to the relationship. I kept hoping Ailee would tell Fergus what was going on, but things kept getting in the way, sometimes I felt Ailee waited for obstacle so she wouldn’t have to tell him. Poor Fergus, he couldn’t understand where she was coming from.

In Australia at least when it comes to organ donation, I think it is wrong that if you have marked that you are a donor, that your family can override that wish. I myself am a registered organ donor and I have told my family this, but they could still stop that from happening. Seeing Ailee discussing it with the parents of a patient who has passed and only having a limited time to get them to consent made me really appreciate how hard it is for doctors and nurses who know how much these gifts could make a difference to so many people’s lives.

I really enjoyed this read and was hoping Fergus could convince Ailee they could make a go of things.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker

I saw this cover (fabulous) and read a review on this novel a while ago and I was intrigued enough to want to read it and I’m so glad I did. This was a fabulous read, something so different to anything else I’ve read, time-travel, dystopian fiction, romance, built on a classic novel, so many different aspects that made up this unique novel. The world has essentially ended, humans have destroyed the earth and resources are limited, but with the invention of pods, people can travel forwards only, into the future, hopeful of a better life.

When the book starts it is 2083 and Juliet (Jules) is not in a good place, the love of her life, Romeo is in a coma after a tragic accident 2 years beforehand that left Jules with a dead arm and feeling even more on the outer than she did before. The actual events of that night and those leading up to them are uncovered slowly as the story progresses, but all is not as it would appear and Jules will face a lot of truths, ones she has deluded herself into believing, ones she has written into a story The Love Story of Juliet and Romeo, written in the style of Shakespeare, and ones that she has been told are the truth but aren’t.

Ellis, a deadender, a traveller from the future, but also from the past, is charged with the mission to wake Romeo and is transported back to 2083 where he encounters Jules and together they work to do just that. Jules was under the impression you could only travel forwards in time and needed a pod to do so, but Ellis throws this and many other of her beliefs into disarray.

There is a lot to get your head around in this novel, especially the jumping back and forwards in time, the different timelines and how they play out, the memories and Jules’ story, but if you go in with an open mind then you’ll be in for one hell of a ride. This would have been a five star read if it hadn’t been for the final couple of chapters where for the first time I did struggle to get my head around the time travel/ consequences aspect, but I will get this out of the library again and reread those chapters, and hopefully, it will all become clear.

I loved the way the author has played with Shakespears story, but not only Shakespear but another classic author, Emily Bronte for who Ellis was the inspiration of her classic story.

An ingenious novel.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: The Bachelor Bargain by Maddison Michaels

The Bachelor Bargain (Secrets, Scandals, and Spies, #1)I’m not a big historical romance reader, but I love Maddison Michaels novels and was excited to get a copy of her new novel Bachelor Bargain to read.

Bachelor Bargain didn’t disappoint, it was a great read with two main characters I really enjoyed getting to know. Lady Olivia Haliford (Livie) is a smart, determined and tough young lady who wants justice for her friend’s demise and will go to whatever lengths necessary to get them.

Sebastian Colver, The Bastard of Baker Street is a feared individual and for good reason. He is also a good man, one who cares greatly about others, though he has trust issues even with those in his inner circle, and hides behind his reputation.

Olivia decides it is his help she needs to finance her paper which will call out no good bachelors and enable her to find the man responsible for her friend’s death.

I loved the interaction between these two, both from totally different backgrounds, neither of them were prepared for the other in more ways than one. Sebastian certainly didn’t expect to catch feelings for this beautiful, strong young woman who put herself in danger in her pursuit of justice far too many times for his liking. Olivia is also not happy about her attraction to Sebastian, but no matter what happens, these two can’t fight the chemistry that is between them.

There was plenty of wheeling and dealing, twists galore, humour and of course romance and this novel kept me reading well past my bedtime.

Thank you to Entangled: Amara Publishing and NetGalley for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

 

New Release Book Review: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns

How to Mend a Broken HeartI loved this novel, I was a little bit wary about whether I would feel I’d missed anything by not having read The Art of Keeping Secrets, but Rachael put enough information into the story that I didn’t feel I was missing anything, I would like to read it at some point though, it’s been on my shelf since it was published back in 2016.

New Orleans is one of the few places in America that I am interested in visiting and it was great to be able to experience it with Flick and Zoe. I wish someone would offer me the opportunity to work someplace wonderful for a few months like Flick is able to do. I found learning a bit about taxidermy quite interesting, I have a friend who practices the art of taxidermy, and while it’s definitely not my thing, it is very interesting.

I completely understood Flick’s need to take off from her life, while everyone around her was moving on, even her ex-husband, she felt stuck and lost. Flick’s ex-husband, now a transgender female, Sofia, would have been a hard person to continue being close with after all they had been through, but I could see how hard it was for Flick to admit that even to herself.

I really enjoyed seeing Flick come alive again and find herself. It certainly helped that she met Theo, the owner of the jazz bar next door. As well as helping her to learn to have fun, their blossoming relationship also forced her to really take stock of her feelings and her hangups and determine what was important in her life. Theo was gorgeous (I want to meet my own Theo), he had a secret that caused a big issue, I got a bit nervous at one stage that things weren’t going to work out the way I wanted them to (I nearly scrolled to the end to make sure lol).

Zoe suffers heartbreak from her ass***e husband and follows her mother to New Orleans. I have to admit to not liking Zoe much to start with, I completely understood her heartbreak and the grief she was going through, but she treated Flick awfully in the first week of being there, I thought her spoiled and self-indulgent. She did grow on me though, especially after she met Mrs Harranibar(Miss H). After literally knocking her over.

Miss H’s story is a sad one and in the end, being knocked down by Zoe changes her life completely.

I really liked ghost hunter Jack who bumps into Zoe when she first arrives in New Orleans. He was a lovely warm character and I liked how much of a gentleman he was. I hoped Zoe would wake up to herself, and though her marriage had just ended, who is to say when is too soon to meet another person.

New Orleans itself is a big character in this novel and it is definitely high on my travel list when we are able to travel freely and safely again, in the meantime, I’ll continue to travel vicariously through the wonderful characters in novels.

A wonderful heart filled read.

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

AWW 2021

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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