Book Review: Give Murder a Hand by Beth Prentice

OK so it happened again, not quite as late this time, but still well past a reasonable bedtime on a work night. I’m going to blame it all on Beth Prentice though. If she hadn’t written such a great book, I’d have been able to put it down unfinished and go to sleep. I did actually put it down after finishing chapter 15, I turned off the light and everything, turned over, closed my eyes and then… I thought, oh Claire there’s only 5 chapters left, you may as well finish it so you know how it all turns out.

img_20190124_055144Give Murder a Hand is book 2 in The Westport Mysteries and once again Lizzie manages to attract crazy into her life. She’s still with gorgeous handyman Riley, though I became less of a fan of his as the book went on, he did however manage to redeem himself in my eyes and all was forgiven. She now has the attention of the gorgeous police officer, hmm I wonder how that’s going to go down.

I have to say, I have a bad habit of clenching my jaw when I’m stressed and I was doing just that for quite a chunk of this book. There is a character called Allison, she’s a psychiatrist that Lizzie goes to see, suffice to say that I hated her, I actually got on goodreads at one point to vent my dislike of her, I think I wrote something like “I hate Allison from the very depths of my soul”. That didn’t change! I felt like throwing the book across the room and had to put my kindle down (it’s not quite the same as being able to slam the book closed) several times so as I could take some deep breaths and continue.

Lizzie’s siblings are such fabulous characters, I love the time Lizzie spends with them, they are dramatic and supportive, just as you’d wish your own to be in real life (OK maybe not as much drama). Grandma Mabel is still as outrageous as ever and manages to get herself into some major trouble this time, her predilection for chasing men at her age frustrates Lizzie’s mum to no end and could be her downfall.

The mystery surrounding Lizzie’s house this time involves an old skeleton in the garden, yes Lizzie’s house is full of lovely surprises. I figured out who the bad guy was early on, and was screaming (in my head, as I was in public) at them all, why couldn’t they figure it out!

If you remember at the beginning of the year I put myself on a book buying ban, the original thought was 6 months, which I immediately changed to 3, well I’ve since relaxed it to 1 month, bad news is I can’t buy books for another week! But the good news is, I should get through the rest of the swing without needing to stay up all night reading, maybe not, the other good news is that once the month is over I can buy book 3 Deathly Desire, and see what happens next in Lizzie’s crazy life, I can’t wait. In the meantime I have two Westport novellas to read, one being Lizzie’s first Christmas with Riley, that should be fun lol and the other about a new character, Tilly.

About the book:                                   How many secrets can one house hide?

Just when Lizzie thought the only problems she had in life were her crazy family and far too many nightmares, the house reveals yet another secret. This time it’s a skeleton in the back yard. But the unusual thing about this skeleton is that it has an extra hand. Why? Well that’s what Lizzie wants to find out. But nothing is that easy is it?

Plus her drop dead gorgeous boyfriend Riley’s had enough of her nightmares and wants her to get professional help. Only when that professional help comes in the form of a long legged blonde who just happens to be Riley’s ex-girlfriend, Lizzie feels reluctant to reveal her deepest, darkest fears. Especially when her deepest, darkest fear is losing Riley to a long legged blonde ex-girlfriend. But this blonde seems to have a particular interest in Lizzie’s life. Is it just Riley she’s after? Or is there another reason she always seems to be around whenever Lizzie’s life is in danger?

Near misses with death, a super hot policeman with a crush, Grandma’s new boyfriend, a garden full of senior citizens, and Bradley the owner of Westport Tours, all make Lizzie’s life interesting to say the least.

But can she find the truth before the For Sale sign gets hammered into the ground? Or will Lizzie take the secrets to an early grave?

Amazon AU

Goodreads

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Book review: Dangerous Deeds by Beth Prentice

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m currently working as a crane operator on mine maintenance shut downs up in the Pilbara. It’s pretty random work, but when I get it I’m usually lucky enough to do more reading than actual work. Yesterday I was slogging away at a new release book that I wasn’t really getting into and after another slow 10% I decided today was not the day that this book was going to be read.

Instead I decided I was going to pick a book I knew I’d enjoy. One of my reading goals this year is to read some of the many books I already own on my bookshelves and my kindle. I’d read a few chapters of this book last year and really enjoyed them, but got called away to read a review book. So yesterday was the opportune time to pick it up again. Bad idea! After not wanting to put it down to do my work yesterday, I also didn’t want to put it down to go to sleep and so I played the one more chapter game. I’m sure many of you know this game, and also know it’s never just one more chapter. So the one more chapter game kept being played until low and behold, there was only 4 chapters left, so I may as well finish the book. Yawn, oh dear, now there’s just over 5 hours until I have to get up for work. But was it worth it? Most definitely!

img_20190124_152042Dangerous Deeds is the first book in The Westport Mysteries and was a fabulously crazy read full of mystery, stalkers, a seriously hot handyman, a crazy grandma and well a crazy family really.

I enjoyed this book so much, there was a smile on my face through much of it, as Riley says it’s never dull when Lizzie and her family are around.

Lizzie is a fabulous character, she’s completely real, has issues like the rest of us and isn’t on the small side as she points out several times. When Lizzie buys an old house to renovate it brings with it unexpected problems and a mystery of a hidden ring and letters, but it also brings Riley the seriously hot handyman. Riley is gorgeous from the beginning and not just in looks. Diving right into the mystery with Lizzie so begins a hilarious but scary at times adventure to find the owner of the ring.

Grandma Mabel is just fabulous  I’m not sure how I’d go if she were my grandma, but I wish I thought I’d be as outrageous as she is when I’m older (maybe something to aim for).

Today I’m going to start book two: Give Muder a Hand and hope I finish it well before bed time.

About the book:

If only she knew buying a house could be so dangerous…

Meet Lizzie. She’s 31 and having a premature mid-life crisis. So, she bought a lonely, run down old house that pulled on her heartstrings.

But with the purchase Lizzie gets more than she bargained for. She didn’t expect the engagement ring and letters of forbidden love hidden under the attic floorboards. She didn’t expect the lazy cat, or the drop dead gorgeous handyman. And she definitely didn’t expect the stalker.

As the renovation begins and the house starts to slowly return to its former glory, the letters dog her dreams. Why was the writer forced to turn away from his love? Why was their love forbidden? And why was this all hidden under the floorboards?

Filled with a drive to reunite the ring with its rightful owner, Lizzie engages the help of her new handyman, her crazy family and her sex crazed Grandma, and sets on a journey of lost love, heartache, and public damnation.

But can Lizzie restore the house to its former glory, and find who it all once belonged to before her stalker catches up with her? Or will she lose everything…including her life?

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Beth’s website

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Cover Reveal: The Cinema at Starlight Creek by Alli Sinclair

Today I’m extremely excited to be sharing with you the cover of this fabulous upcoming novel, isn’t it just Divine. I remember Alli describing her vision for this cover at the WCFF in November and this well and truly meets that vision. I can’t wait to read this book.

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A heart-stirring novel of loss, love and new hope set against the glamorous backdrop of 1950s Hollywood and a small Australian country town.
How far would you go to follow your dream?

Queensland, 1994: When location manager Claire Montgomery arrives in rural Queensland to work on a TV mini-series, she’s captivated by the beauty of Starlight Creek and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging, but Claire has never let that stop her pursuing her dreams-until now. She must gain permission to film at Australia’s most historically significant art deco cinema, located at Starlight Creek. But there is trouble ahead. The community is fractured and the cinema’s reclusive owner, Hattie Fitzpatrick, and her enigmatic great nephew, Luke Jackson, stand in her way, putting Claire’s career-launching project-and her heart-at risk.
Hollywood, 1950: Lena Lee has struggled to find the break that will catapult her into a star with influence. She longs for roles about strong, independent women but with Hollywood engulfed in politics and a censorship battle, Lena’s timing is wrong. Forced to keep her love affair with actor Reeves Garrity a secret, Lena puts her career on the line to fight for equality for women in an industry ruled by men. Her generous and caring nature steers her onto a treacherous path, leaving Lena questioning what she is willing to endure to get what she desires.

Can two women-decades apart-uncover lies and secrets to live the life they’ve dared to dream?

Available 20 May 2019

Pre-order available:

Harper Collins
Amazon
Apple Books
Booktopia
Kobo
Google Play

Alli’s Bio:
Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart.

Alli hosts retreats for Writers at Sea and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working on international film projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

Alli’s website
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New Release book review: The Round Yard by Alissa Callen

The Round Yard by Alissa Callen was a totally enjoyable  rural romance read set once again in the town of Woodlea. This is the 4th book in this series and though they can be read as standalone I highly recommend reading them in order as many of the characters from previous books are part of the series.

img_20190124_152444In The Round Yard we meet newcomer Neve, who with her quiet and gentle way starts a reaction in loner Tanner that challenges everything he thought he wanted or needed. Tanner is gorgeous but broken and Alissa has you wishing desperately for him to allow Neve to help him heal. Neve is also in a bad space due to losses of her family she has suffered and you just know that Tanner would be perfect to help her overcome her issues too.

I loved the characters of Bassie and Dell, Neve’s rescued donkey and pony, they caused me to laugh several times with their antics and Bassie especially had such attitude.

I also loved revisiting the characters from book 1 & 2 and seeing what they were doing and how their relationships were going. I really appreciated the mystery that causes Tanner and Neve to work together, being a big fan of historical fiction, this small element of the story was one I found really interesting. A great read and I hope there is more to come in this series.

About the book:                                         A heartfelt story about finding where you belong. A new Woodlea rural romance by bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.

For only child Neve Fitzpatrick, family is everything. When she loses her mother, she heads to the bush to rent a farmhouse near her grandmother’s family home. To keep herself busy and her grief at bay, she offers to look after two little redheaded cowgirls and adopts a sassy pony and sweet donkey in need of a refuge.

Drover and horse trainer Tanner Callahan may have just found his mother, but he’s resolved never to let anyone too close. Abandonment has cursed him all his life, and he won’t let it happen again. Only two things unnerve him: children and small-town matchmaking. Then he meets occupational therapist Neve. Warm-hearted and unforgettable, she represents all that Tanner feels will forever remain out of reach.

But when an old iron key unlocks family secrets from the Second World War, Neve needs help only Tanner can give. As the threads of the past unravel, and locusts threaten to suffocate the land, Neve and Tanner must make a choice. Will fear keep them running or is the home each yearns for already within grasp?

Woodlea Small Town Series

Book 1: The Long Paddock

Book 2: The Red Dirt Road

Book 3: The Purple Hills

Book 4: The Round Yard

Buying links

HarperCollins

Amazon AU

About the author; Alissa Callen is a former teacher and counsellor. She was raised on a farm and still favors remote areas, small towns, historic homesteads, and country gardens. She is inspired by the countryside, and people’s life journeys. She is the author of Town of Windmills series, Wildflower Ranch series, and Outback Dust series. She won the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Awards, for Strongest heroine with her book, The Long Paddock (Town of Windmills series).

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Book Bingo: Novella less than 150 pages.

Hello everyone, we are over halfway through January already and it’s time for my second post for book Bingo. I read several books I could have marked off a square with this week, but I chose The Purple Hills by Alissa Callen as my novella less than 150 pages.

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This is technically book 3 in the Woodlea series and was a highly enjoyable read.

I loved meeting Sibilla and Hugh and little Riley. I enjoyed seeing the attraction between the two become too strong for either of them to ignore despite their initial qualms in giving in to their feelings. I have to say I disliked Sibylla’s stepmother despite her reasons for her behaviour towards Sibylla. Riley’s love of astronomy and its aid in opening communication between Sibylla and her father was also a nice touch. Both Sibylla and Hugh were characters that made you hope for a HEA. For a short story it packed in a fair bit.

This is a free novella if you want to get a taste of this great series.

Amazon AU

HarperCollins

Book review: The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper

I read this as part of the Beauty and Lace Book Club.

A dual timeline novel set in NSW during 1853 and 1919, Tea Cooper has managed once again to write a tale that draws you in and takes you back to a different time in Australia.

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The detail in her writing had me walking the streets of Sydney with Della, Stefan and Fleur and living out in Mogo Creek in the beautiful Hawkesbury District communicating with the native people and animals. I hope I get the opportunity to visit the Hawkesbury District one day as it does sound like a lovely place, though I’m sure much has changed since those days.

I did find the book started a bit slower than I expected, but then I reached a point where I was hooked and couldn’t wait to see where this dual timeline took us and how the two timelines joined together. Fleur took quite a long while to grow on me and I much preferred Della from the 1853 timeline as a main heroine. She was a strong woman just as you would have to have been in those days. I thoroughly enjoyed unravelling the mystery that Della and then Hugh left behind for Fleur to uncover, and then see what Fleur did with those discoveries.

One of my favourite characters was young Bert, who was a street urchin with more smarts than many educated people. He bought a lot of humour to the story during his adventures with Stefan and Della.

Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Australia  for providing me a copy of this book.

About the author

Tea Cooper writes Australian contemporary and historical fiction. She is a former teacher, a journalist and a farmer. In August 2011 Tea joined Romance Writers of Australia and her debut novel Tree Change was published in 2012. In 2015 her book The Horse Thief won the Australian Romance Readers Award for Favourite Cover.

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Book review: The Au Pair by Emma Rous

A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.

I picked up The Au Pair because it came highly recommended and it was definitely worth those davrecommendations. This is a story full of twists and turns and it’s not until the end that the whole mystery is revealed.

It’s a tale of a house and fairytales and of family secrets. Told from two points of view, separated over 20 years, Laura simultaneously tells her story of when she was a nanny at Summerbourne, while Seraphine searches for the truth about who she is based on the finding of a family photo showing only one baby. Who is missing from the photo, her or her twin Danny and why? What dark secrets does Summerbourne hold and what is Seraphine’s grandmother hiding? So many secrets to uncover and when eventually the truth is uncovered, will Seraphine want to know?

I found this novel hard to put down as I for one definitely wanted to know the truth about what happened at Summerbourne.