New Release Book Review: Merindah Park by Renee Dahlia

The first book in a new series, Merindah Park was an enjoyable romance and a great introduction to the siblings who will feature in the next books.

IMG_20190420_131450This story focuses on John and Toshiko and is set in Japan, where they meet while John is buying a horse from her brother, and in Australia on John’s horse property Merindah Park, where Toshiko, a vet, travels with John and the horses. I enjoyed the chemistry between the two characters, which was evident from the start of the novel. The cultural differences between the two and how they had to deal with them to move forward in a relationship at times made things between them difficult. It was especially difficult for Toshiko as she had been born into a culture where women defer to the men, especially the father in their wishes, family is more important than the individuals desires. Toshiko is running from a family expectation and the chemistry between John and Toshiko makes the dilemma she is running from clearer and more complicated. Will secrets stop and expectations stop these two being together?

The horseracing industry isn’t one I know too much about, or horses in general for that matter. Renee Dahlia’s love of horses and knowledge of the industry certainly comes through in this story.

Johns siblings were great characters and I enjoyed the rapport that they all had between each other as a family. I look forward to reading their stories.

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Book Review: Shadows of Red Earth by Suzanne Cass

This was my first read by Suzanne Cass and I look forward to reading more of her books. This is book 3 in the Colours of the Earth series and though I haven’t read the first two books (something I plan on changing soon), this worked perfectly well as a standalone.

WShadows of Red Earth (Colours of the Earth Series Book 3)e meet Koen and Rose in the middle of nowhere, both on the run from their lives for completely different reasons. They are both really likeable and relatable characters, who in meeting each other change the course of each others lives.

Koen is from Balgo, an aboriginal community in the north of WA that I have heard a little about, Suzanne touches on some integral issues that affect the people living in these communities, youth suicide being a big one.

Rose is running away from a home that has started to feel like a prison due to some serious events that happened to her family in the past, a past that is going to once again impact of Rose and her family.

The path that their adventure takes them on once they decide to travel together is one fraught with danger and plenty of trouble. I really enjoyed the way these two interacted and the way their relationship blossomed as they ran from danger. I loved Roen’s character especially and was hoping he would come to realise how special a person he was. With plenty of suspense and a budding romance, this was a really enjoyable read.

 

 

Book Review: The Land Girls by Victoria Purman

Every time Victoria Purman releases a new novel, I know I’m going to find great characters; with her historical novels, I know I’m going to learn about a part of Australian history that I had very little knowledge of before picking up her book. In The Land Girls, she draws on the experiences of women from The Women’s Land Army as well as those left behind to do the jobs the men have left when they joined the armed forces during WWII, to weave an emotional tale of love, loss and courage.

The Land GirlsI thoroughly enjoyed this novel and learning about this important part of our history. There are three main female characters whose lives we follow, Flora, Lily and Betty, I loved each one of them, working with them on the farms, sharing their losses and heartbreak all the while discovering so much about themselves.

My favourite of these characters though was Flora. I really engaged with her, whether it was because she was older and still searching for her place, her loyalty to her family and those she called friends, or just her wonderful character, I loved the journey that the Land Army took her on. Flora meets Charles during her first posting as a Land Girl and I loved watching the relationship between the two of them grow and change them. I held so much hope for the two of them and the future.

There were many emotional moments throughout this story, as I’m sure you can imagine, happy as well as sad ones. And it has a wonderful ending 💕.

The work these women did during the war was inspiring and shows just what people can achieve. Without these women filling the places of men, most farms and factories would have gone out of business. I definitely recommend this wonderful novel.

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

Book Bingo Round 8 & Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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Welcome to another round of book Bingo, it’s already getting tougher each week to chose a square and a book to match, I think I’m going to need to pick a square and find a book that fits each fortnight from now on. This round I’ve chosen Themes of Inequality and used the novel Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

IMG_20190413_082750I listened to this in my car and was horror struck at times by the racism portrayed, shaking my head in disbelief at the way people think and behave; despite knowing that this is an actual truth unfortunately in our society. I still find it hard to get my head around, the hatred and behaviour of people towards another because of the colour of their skin.

This is the story of a black nurse, a white supremacist and a white public defender. It was a story that had me on edge the whole way through, telling a tale and giving voice to a subject that too often is ignored and not spoken about: the Inequality that exists around people of colour or race. This is set in America, but here in Australia, the Inequality between white Australians and the Aboriginal people, especially when it comes to being charged with crime, is as big a problem here as it is there.

Ruth Jefferson, a black Labour and delivery nurse (the only black nurse in the hospital) is trying to do her job when a new father demands she is stopped from touching his baby because of the fact she is African American. The fact that her supervisor goes along with this had me feeling incredulous. The parents are white supremacists who completely believe that the colour of your skin determines who is superior and that people of colour are not people.

Their baby dies and Ruth is thrown under a bus by her hospital and then by the family who have her charged with murder. Her court lawyer is a white woman Kennedy McQuarrie, who takes Ruth’s case to heart because of something Ruth says and fights to stay on her case.

This is a learning curve for Ruth and Kennedy, race is NOT spoken about in a court of law, EVER.  The trial is mind-blowing as is the case itself. It is mentioned more than once “if this was a white nurse, we wouldn’t even be here”.

There is lots of learning and educating throughout this emotional story of a fight for justice in a case that is primarily about race. This is based on a true story, luckily one that never made it to court, instead the hospital was sued for discrimination.

There is a scene where Kennedy is talking to her mother about racism and how it feels like they haven’t come anywhere in all these years of fighting for equality, her mother responds by saying from where she sits she’s amazed how far they’ve come. It may be changed from what it was 50 years ago, but it’s not enough. We all need to help end inequality due to race by being people who don’t allow others to spout racist jokes or slurs, by standing up and saying this isn’t the right way to talk or behave. By not being complicit in racism by standing by and watching it happen.

Ruth has had to endure so much inequality throughout her life, which as a white person I can’t imagine. She teaches Kennedy some huge lessons about inequality and racism as this story unfolds. And of course us as readers or listeners.

This is an important story and once again author Jodi Picoult is not afraid to tackle the difficult issues, the ones people want to ignore and forget about, unless they are the ones facing them.

RELEASE DAY Book Review & Giveaway : The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels

What can I possibly say about this book to convey how much I loved it. I was lucky enough to read the first two drafts of this novel and they both blew me away, but this final copy, wow, Athena has written a psychological thriller that had my heart in my throat from the opening scene. At times the intensity was such that I had to put the book down and take a deep breath. At others I wanted to reach in and slap Derek, her husband so badly I was clenching my jaw and gasping in disbelief.

IMG_20190309_073822I became completely involved in the main character, Claire’s life from the get-go. Claire is a great character, well written and relatable, she starts off lost and unsure of herself and her life after suffering the loss of her child. As the story progresses and secrets are uncovered, Claire’s strength emerges as she fights to gain an understanding of what her husband has been hiding and develop her newfound confidence. Her life begins to unravel at the same time she wakes up from the half-life she has been living, but instead of collapsing, she uses her circumstances to grow, I was backing her completely, cheering her on every time she confronted her husband and hoping she would survive the fallout.

Claire’s husband Derek is unlikable from the first chapters and just becomes more despicable as the story unfolds. From beginning to end he unveils himself as a detestable character who I continued to hope would get exactly what he deserved. I remember messaging Athena and saying “Her husband is f**king nuts!” He wasn’t the only character who I felt this way about, the ‘she’ in the opening scene is as, if not more unlikable than Derek.

Zach is another great character, with many layers and a few surprising secrets. I loved the relationship that grew between Claire and Zach, I think I fell in love with him myself. One of my favourite secondary characters was Claire’s assistant Kira, I loved her loyalty and her no bullshit approach, what a great friend Claire had in her.

This novel kept me hooked from start to finish with heart-stopping moments, a few laugh-out-loud moments, plenty of twists and turns, betrayal and murder, in a romantic psychological thriller that will definitely be in my top 10 reads of the year. I didn’t see half of what happened coming and was still shaking my head in disbelief at the end.

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The scream behind promoI have one paperback copy (Australia only due to postage) and two ebook copies (Australia & International) to giveaway to readers of my blog. Leave a comment and show Athena some love by adding her book on goodreads or liking her Facebook page and you’ll be in the draw for a copy of this fabulous book. Please indicate if you are a international reader.

For another chance to win read my Q&A with Athena and leave a comment on that post as there’s a copy to win there also.

Website

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

About the book: An emotionally gripping romantic thriller, this is a novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

It’s one thing to discover the man you married is not who you think he is. It’s another thing entirely to prove it. After all, who is going to take the word of an unstable woman who’s never fully recovered from the heartbreak of losing her child?

The only question now, is how far he will go to protect his secrets.

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As I lie here in my front hallway, in the place where it all began, I wonder what would have happened if I’d never opened the door that afternoon?

Would she have gone somewhere else? Would she have swept off in another direction, an alternative reality where our lives would never have crossed paths?
And now I’m lying here, blood pooling beneath my body, deep crimson smears on cold white tiles, remembering every sordid moment in vivid detail.

There’s a shadow standing over me.

“I want you to die here, slowly and alone.” Her voice is cold, emotionless. “And I want you to use the time to think about what you did. And when you take your last breath, I want you to realize it’s all your fault. All of it!”

I drift in and out of consciousness and wonder if I had my chance to do it over again, if I had the choice, would I choose not to open the door that day?

Even after everything, I know that I would.

I’d go through it all again, and then some, if it meant the chance to be with Zach just one more time…

Book Review: Arctic Sun by Annabeth Albert

I always enjoy Annabeth Albert’s books and her new book Arctic Sun is no exception, the first in the Frozen Hearts series, this was a journey of discovery for our two main characters.

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Griffen, a pilot in his family business, has been dealing with grief and is a recovering alcoholic who struggles to be around people and has the belief that he doesn’t deserve to be happy and isn’t worthy of being loved. River is an ex-supermodel, who has dealt with an eating disorder for most of his life, leading to hospitalisation. He has used travel as a way to heal, and also a way to run away from anything real. When these two damaged men are thrown together on a photography trip in Alaska, sparks will fly.

The descriptions of Alaska on this trip alone made me want to save up and go there ASAP, also, if there are more mountain men like Griffen, I’d be there even quicker. I loved the journey these two had to traverse, both the physical and the emotional journey. Though it was the emotional journey which took its toll on these two guys who are both dealing with so many issues. I was invested in their romance from the start and as I got to know the characters and what they had been through, and what they were dealing with still, my heart ached with hope that they would make the journey and end up together.

This story explored the physical and emotional relationship between the guys and it was a really great exploration. There was humour in their initial hookups and I loved the way River was able to make Griffen lower his walls and have a bit of fun, River was certainly not willing to give up on this happening while they were on the trip. The sexual tension was hard to ignore for both parties.

Hearing River’s story about his eating disorder was sad, I have a friend with an eating disorder and know how badly it can affect someone. Watching him struggle through each day, worried about what he was eating, feeling sick at the thought of eating, was really sad, hearing him explain to Griffen how he couldn’t see himself the ways others, especially Griffen saw him was also really sad. This is such a sad disease that definitely needs more attention, as does the way the fashion industry and magazines etc, portray the idea of perfection. It’s also great to have a male portrayed with this issue, as it is mainly women we think about when we hear ‘eating disorder’.

Griffen’s issues were subtler but no less damaging to his life and his future. Dealing with his avoidance of group situations, especially ones where people may be drinking was hard for him to navigate. As was his belief he wasn’t worthy of good things happening to him. In this River and Griffen had so much in common and were able to connect through this.

A great read, with two guys who deserved more than they had and needed each other to open up and start healing.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

This was a really interesting story, one of my favourite movies is Charlotte Grey and this novel is all about the women who went undercover with the Special Operations Executive in London to aid the French resistance, just as Charlotte Grey did. It was an offshoot of the male division and they weren’t expected to succeed. I thought the women who agreed to do the training and risk their lives to be incredibly brave and they possessed something I doubt I’d ever have had.

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It contains a mystery as well, starting when Grace finds some photos of 12 women in an abandoned suitcase and goes in search of answers. We slowly uncover answers to throughout the story. The answer had me taking a deep breath and wondering about the trust we put in people who are in positions of authority. I liked how dogged Grace was in wanting to uncover the mystery of the photos she found in the suitcase, she just wouldn’t give up. She felt these women deserved someone to find the answers for them.
I thought the touch of romance in the story was a nice addition, in both timelines, it showed that love can occur at the most unexpected times, but it wasn’t the main part of the story at all.

An important part of history that we don’t tend to read about too often.