New Release Book Review: Christmas With The Firefighter by Clare Connelly

Christmas with the firefighterThis is my latest read of Clare Connelly’s and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A sweet romance set in a small town. I really liked the main characters; Ally (Amy) who is searching for her long lost dad, Luke our firefighter who is also the town handyman and single dad to Stella who is just delightful.

Ally has trust issues, which is understandable due to her dad leaving when she was a kid, but her trust issues cause problems with Luke when he discovers she’s been keeping things from him. She changes her name whilst in town looking for her dad and I didn’t really understand why as no one there would have known who she was. But people do crazy things when they are acting emotionally.

I thought Luke was a great dad, and I liked the way he was willing to take a chance on Ally despite knowing it probably wasn’t a good idea. Luke’s brother-in-law wasn’t a favourite character, I kind of understood where he was coming from in his initial dislike of Ally, but I’d have thought being Luke’s best friend as well he’d have wanted his mate to be happy after being along for 6 years.

I thought Clare handled the meeting between Clare and her dad well and really got how a person would feel after being deserted by someone she loved so much when she was young; I know these feelings certainly resonated with my own.

I really enjoyed the dynamics between Ally and Luke and the way the relationship developed despite both of them having issues and doubts.

A lovely romance read

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Book Bingo Round 21: Literary

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The squares for this years book bingo have slowly been crossed off and now I’m down to the final few, a couple I know just what I’m going to read for, but there are still a few unknowns, especially Comedy, Non fiction book about an event and Themes of Justice, so if anyone has any suggestions for thiese squares, then please let me know in the comments.

Anyhow, on to this fortnights square Literary is being crossed off by Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. This square was slightly difficult as I don’t tend to read a lot of literary books. I have judged this one as literary because of the way it is written. 

My Review:

Anne Brinsden: Wearing Paper Dresses

This was a difficult read for me. I struggled with the narration style of the novel, it did nothing to draw me in and took a good 90 pages for me to get used to the style of narration and the ‘being told a story’ rather than feeling part of the story.

The prose was lyrical and at times it had some profound things to say such as “Because Marjorie saw that some people are chipped and damaged, cracked and frayed, exquisite and talented. But they care. They love whatever they can. In spite of their madness and their sadness, they still try. But some people are just mean bastards.”

But its lyrical way of being narrated didn’t work for me, I wasn’t really drawn into the story until nearly halfway and even then I wasn’t really enjoying it, just reading because I wanted to get to the end and find out what, if anything, happened. And really for a novel of nearly 400 pages, not too much did happen.

It is a story about mental illness, the struggles it can cause not just for the person suffering, but those who care for that person. Elise has a serious mental illness and this is the cause of a massive tragedy, it is also the cause of many smaller tragedies that affect her children, her husband, and her father-in-law. The people in the country weren’t particularly kind people, they were judgemental and cruel at times, and at others banded together, but often too late.

It’s definitely not a happy story and it mostly focuses on Marjorie who is at times cruel and unfeeling, but I think this can be related to the struggles of dealing with her mother.

Many people have thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Thanks extended to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Pre-Release Book Review: Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L King

Claire MaloneClaire Malone Changes the World is a really wonderful picture book for young children about one little girl who takes it upon herself to try and right the wrongs of the world. This is a heavy burden for one little girl to carry and she learns by the end of the story to focus on issues closer to home rather than worrying about all the issues of the world, she even learns to have fun.

I read this book myself and then with my 5-year-old nephew. He loved the illustrations which help to tell this story just perfectly. We had a discussion about the issues Claire Malone faced with constantly worrying about everything she read on the internet and on the news. He thought Claire learning to have fun and work on changing local things was a good plan, one that we decided would work better than worrying about the whole world.

While it is important children have an understanding of greater issues affecting this messed up world of ours, it’s also decidedly important that we don’t let our children become consumed with worrying about things at the risk of missing out on being children. I thought that way Nadia L King dealt with this was done really well.

I definitely hope that Claire Malone keeps her desire to change the world as she grows and when she’s older that she can make bigger differences. This is a great lesson to teach our kids. I know my nephew and I will revisit this book as he gets older and we will continue to have some interesting conversations around it. I think slightly older children will get more out of this book than my 5-year-old nephew, but I think it’s great to start these conversations while they are young.

This ties in extremely well with 16-year-old Greta Thunberg who has been doing her own thing to change the world recently.

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

Publish date 28th November 2019

Preorder links and teacher notes

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Book Review: Making Her Mark by Renee Dahlia

making her markI read Merindah Park (Book 1 Merindah Park) back in April and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to revisit the Bassett family and the world of horseracing. Book 2 Making Her Mark is Rachel’s story, Rachel is a female jockey who has to fight for every ride due to ongoing sexism within the racing industry. This is an industry where things are improving and as Renee explains, one of the few where male and female riders are considered equal on the field, just not always with owners and trainers.

Rachel has many emotional issues to deal with throughout this novel, some present issues and some from when she was 16 back in her hometown that she’s never really dealt with, but to move forward, she will have to do just that. Rachel’s sexuality is part of the issue she has never dealt with, and while she completely accepts who she is now, there’s part of her that can’t get over the way she was treated as a teenager by small-town minds.

Rachel reconnects with an old school friend Allira and her brother Jacob, and the sparks fly between Rachel and Jacob immediately. Jacob is an AFL player who is hot, strong and stubborn. Both fight the connection they feel towards each other until they can’t fight it anymore. It is definitely not a smooth journey to happiness for these two and there are plenty of ups, downs, misunderstandings, and changing of minds (especially on Rachel’s part). The journey may not be smooth, but it is most definitely hot and steamy.

There is an element of intrigue in this storyline with a potential punting scheme that Jacob asks Rachel to look into on behalf of his teammates. Once again Renee Dahlia does a great job of educating me about the ins and outs of the horse racing industry and I have great respect for the work that jockey’s put into their career.

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

Escape Publishing

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Book Review: The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly

When I first read this novel two years ago, it was not my normal choice of reading, but after reading Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly and loving it, I just had to read another Kim Kelly book. This had me up until 2 am 3 nights in a row, just one more chapter and 4 hours later with the words blurring I was reluctantly putting it down.

The Blue MileAs part of my driving ritual, I decided to try the audio version of The Blue Mile after enjoying the audio version of This Red Earth, I was keen to hear this story. The narrators were good, Eoghan’s narrator was perfect, while Olivia’s not so perfect, for me anyway, because having already read it, I had a certain voice for her in my head; I grew used to the narrator though and enjoyed the reading of this novel.

Olivia, Eoghan (Yo), and Agnes were such wonderful characters. I loved little Agnes’ ability to see magic all around her. I love the descriptive way that Kim uses to describe the people and the places in her novels. The use of clothing and clothing design was a new take on things for me and I really enjoyed it, they were like a character all by themselves. The secondary characters were also wonderfully portrayed, some were wonderful people, some not so wonderful, all necessary to the telling of this tale. 

Set in 1929 in Sydney during the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Great Depression. I learnt much about the history of the building of The Sydney Harbour Bridge (I’m glad I didn’t have to work up there, I’d have been terrified, mind you Eoghan wasn’t exactly thrilled either) and the politics at that time were also very interesting, I learnt a lot about the labour laws of the time. I love learning about the history of our country and getting an insight into how people got by. The unemployment situation then was just terrible and the violence that occurred would have been extremely terrifying to have been witness to. 

This second ‘reading’ of The Blue Mile was just as enjoyable as the first and I loved meeting these characters for a second time.

A fabulous story I can’t wait to read or listen to another Kim Kelly novel

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Book Review: This Red Earth by Kim Kelly

I first read This Red Earth back in 2017 and it was a definite 5-star read. I always like to have an audiobook going in the car, so when I saw Kim Kelly’s books were available on my library app, I thought it was time to revisit her stories. I’m very fussy about my narrators, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but the two narrators for This Red Earth did an absolutely fabulous job of capturing the characters of Gordon (Gordie) and Bernadette (Bernie).

 

This Red Earth is a fabulous story full of love, drama, intrigue, and the beautiful and hard land that is Australia. I fell in love with the characters in this story the first time I read it, and I fell in love with them again whilst listening to it this go-round. I lived through the good, the bad and the terrible times with them as if I were there. Once again Kim Kelly draws us in and lets us live the history of this land and its people.

We travel through the outback of NSW to sheep stations where we meet some wonderful characters and learn how important community and the CWA were in those times. We travel to New Guinea with Gordie who goes there to do a job drilling for petroleum and gets caught up in the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. I know very little about this time, but Kim Kelly picked me up and plonked me on this island in the middle of chaos, it was a terrible time, the whole World War two and all wars before and after were terrible and it’s a sad thing that nothing has ever really been learnt from it when it comes to the people in power.

Another aspect of Australian history I know little about is the incarceration of immigrants during the war. I am astonished, (well actually, I’m not, because the same thing happens today on a much larger and more terrible scale with asylum seekers and the Australian government), at the way people who had been living a peaceful life, who had come to Australia to start a new life, often because of persecution in their own country, were thrown in concentration prisons as enemies of the country.

Bernie and Gordie were strong characters who fought for the rights of others and for themselves. Their relationship was one that endured so many bumps (often mountains, not bumps), and I was fearful at times that one or the other of them might not make it through.

This is an emotional read, but an inspiring read of courage and hope and perseverance.

I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to read or listen another Kim Kelly story.

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Book Review: Heart of the Cross by Emily Madden

This was such an enjoyable novel. Set through the years from the 1950s where we meet Rosie, then in 1984 when we meet Rosie again along with her daughter Maggie, then to Brie’s journey in 2017. We slowly uncover the life of Rosie, who immigrated from Ireland hoping for a good life with her husband, and who ends up in King’s Cross with a small child and a man she no longer recognises.

Heart of the CrossThe three timelines were all very different, and I loved the way Emily Madden was able to weave them all together to create a story full of emotion and intrigue, right up to the very last page.

I think Rosie’s life in the 1950s was my favourite, living the trials that Rosie faced in a new country where nothing turned out the way she expected, was at times heartbreaking and hard to read, but there was a strength in Rosie that was awoken due to her circumstances and showed just what the human spirit is capable of. The friendships Rosie cultivated in Kings Cross were ones that had an impact on the rest of her life, as she had impacted those in return.

Brie’s life as a photographer, travelling the globe chasing disasters was very different from Rosie’s life, where Rosie drew people to her, Brie pushed people away, never wanting to get close. When Rosie passes and Brie returns to Australia there are many surprises in store for her as she uncovers some incredible secrets that Rosie has kept from her her whole life, including that of her mother, Maggie, and her unknown father. I thought the way Brie changed after coming home, how she made new friendships and reignited old ones was affirming in that we are never too old or too set in our ways to not be able to make connections.

As the secrets were uncovered, and the book neared the end, I began to wonder how on earth it was all going to end, there were a fair few times I had to put the book down and take some breaths (I drove my mother insane with my comments of “oh my god” every 5 minutes, as she was reading this at the same time and didn’t appreciate my dramatics, making her wonder what on earth was happening, lol). I was kept guessing right to the end just how it was all going to come together and how it was all going to turn out, I do admit to wanting just a fraction more at the end, I really wanted to know what happened next, and sat there in stunned silence when the story ended.

A fabulous read that I highly recommend.

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

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