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.

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Romantic Rendezvous Perth 2019 ARRA

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Today my sister and I were lucky enough to catch up with some great authors at Australian Romance Readers Association’s Romantic Rendezvous in Perth. There were 16 fabulous authors, some already known to us and some new ones, that we got to chat to about their books and we grabbed a few of their hardcopy books and downloaded a few more ebooks. Because you can never have enough books! We also picked up some cool swag.

One of the highlights was a Q&A with Keri Arthur and Celeste Bradley which was really interesting.

Laura N Andrews writes m/f and m/m romance, I’ve read both of her IMG_20190331_170633.jpgBromley Brothers books so I treated myself to her first two books from the Timeless love series.

 

 

 

Keri Arthur came from over east, I mdedidn’t realise that I had 6 of her books on my bookshelf, I’m not sure I’ve read them all though, I’ll have to do that now, she has way more books than I realised.

 

Leah Ashton was there, if you remember I did a Q&A with Leah mdethe other week and a great review of the first book in her new WASP Team series, Undaunted, well today I had preordered book 2 Defiant for pick up, I can’t wait to read it.

 

 

Claire Boston an author who I have all mdebut 2 of her books, this will be rectified at some point, but my sister bought book 2 in her Texan Quartet series, I’m sure she’ll enjoy it.

 

 

Celeste Bradley and her husband flew mdeover from the US, she’s a new author for me so I bought her latest book (which my sister says she’ll borrow). They were lovely to chat to.

 

 

Demelza Carlton, gorgeous as always with her fabulous swag and reimagined fairytales as well as her new book The Devil’s Work.

Shona Husk whose new book Severed IMG_20190331_195015I’m currently reading, and thoroughly enjoying, it’s a different genre a SFR/fantasy romance with m/m/f relationships, it has had me hooked.

 

Rachael Johns had all her wonderful books with her, and being the mug IMG_20190331_195444collector I am I couldn’t go past her new mug.

 

 

 

Lovely Jennie Jones whose new book Lone Star Protector I reviewed and loved the other week had time for a long chat.

I met the outgoing Renae Kaye for the first time, she writes fun gay romance, all set in Perth, I’ve ordered one of her books from the library and look forward to reading it.

Another of my favourite authors Juanita Kees bought her new puppy Stella along to say hi, she was so tired she could barely lift her head (the puppy not Juanita). I recently read Juanita’s Wongan Creek series and loved all three books, check out my reviews from past blog posts.

Gorgeous Lily Malone made it to the venue without getting lost (yay Lily)  she provided us with a few laughs when she signed to Claire Bear in someone else’s book 😂🤣, only Lily…

JO Mantel was the only male romance mdeauthor and delightful to chat to, I picked up one of his shorter novels, due to watching my spending and look forward to trying out this new author who popped over from Victoria for the event.

 

Susanna Rogers was another new author I met, her books sound great and I’ve downloaded Slash and Burn (a rockstar romance) on my kindle to try.

Tee Smith has a couple of great sounding series that I hope to get to soon, she was lovely to chat to also.

Sasha Wasley was once again a delight to chat with, I can’t wait for the next book in her Daughters of the Outback series, out in the wild soon.

Here’s some of the swag I picked up mde

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It was a fabulous afternoon  I do love catching up with authors I know and meeting new ones. Thanks to all the attending authors and ARRA for organising. Now I’m off to finish Severed by Shona Husk and have an early night (well earlier than last nights 2am).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Eggshell Skull: A memoir about standing up, speaking out and fighting back by Bri Lee

Eggshell Skull is a memoir by a really strong and brave young woman who didn’t realise her strength until she found herself in a situation out of her control. A situation she started the ball rolling on, without realising how long she would be made to wait for justice.

I picked up this book because Amanda from Mrs B’s Book Reviews gave it such a high recommendation. I was wary though about the subject matter of child sexual assault and abuse, adult sexual assault and rape being triggers, but I coped well, maybe like Bri herself, I’ve have gotten stronger.

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Bri starts off her story at the beginning of her law career, in her year as a judges associate. Through doing the judges circuit around Qld she hears many terrible cases of sexual abuse on children and women in particular, but also on men. As she herself is triggered by these people’s stories, we find out that she has been sexually assaulted as a child, and the long term affect this has had on her. From watching and listening to these stories and cases, Bri also gains the strength and realisation that she needs to face her abuse and her abuser in order to get on with her own life in a healthy way.

The statistics on these kinds of cases are staggering, and as Bri carries on, she finds out how many people she knows who have been victims of abuse It’s hard to acknowledge how prevalent this is in our society. We also learn how few people come forward and report the abuse, and when they do, how few of those cases actually get charged and then how few of those go through the legal system to receive any kind of justice.

She starts the legal ball rolling on a journey that will take almost 2 years to come to and end. Through that time we see her struggle, the abuse she inflicts upon herself throughout the story and the many feelings of low self worth she suffers, just like many people who have been abused. Bri is extremely lucky, she has the support of her family and her partner behind her, as well as Judge, the man she worked for on the circuit who has become a friend.

Bri falls apart often, but she picks herself up again everytime and carries on, fighting for justice against her abuser and against the legal system. I can’t say I was shocked by how badly our legal system let’s down the victims of crime, but it was extremely eye-opening and heartbreaking to read about those peoples stories as Bri travels on the circuit and as she wonders if she herself will receive justice.

I take my hat off to all the people that do take the step to bring their abuser to justice in such a terribly flawed legal system. The law has changed over the years, but we still aren’t where we need to be. Women are still too often not believed, are called liars or told they are overreacting and that it was their fault it happened. Things need to change, fast. Attitudes need to change.

A highly confronting story by a brave and strong young women, who by fighting for justice for herself and telling her story, may be a catalyst for others to tell theirs, for them also to be willing to fight and for the stigma of sexual assault to be challenged.

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I found this poem which I thought was worth a listen, and maybe a share. We need to get the message out.   She Asked For It – Mizan The Poet

 

About the book: ‘Scorching, self-scouring: a young woman finds her steel and learns to wield it’ – Helen Garner

EGGSHELL SKULL: A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must ‘take their victim as they find them’. If a single punch kills someone because of their thin skull, that victim’s weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime.

But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his ‘victim’ as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?

Bri Lee began her first day of work at the Queensland District Court as a bright-eyed judge’s associate. Two years later she was back as the complainant in her own case.

This is the story of Bri’s journey through the Australian legal system; first as the daughter of a policeman, then as a law student, and finally as a judge’s associate in both metropolitan and regional Queensland-where justice can look very different, especially for women. The injustice Bri witnessed, mourned and raged over every day finally forced her to confront her own personal history, one she’d vowed never to tell. And this is how, after years of struggle, she found herself on the other side of the courtroom, telling her story.

Bri Lee has written a fierce and eloquent memoir that addresses both her own reckoning with the past as well as with the stories around her, to speak the truth with wit, empathy and unflinching courage. Eggshell Skull is a haunting appraisal of modern Australia from a new and essential voice.

‘Brutal, brave and utterly compelling . . . I can’t remember a book I devoured with such intensity, nor one that moved me so profoundly’ Rebecca Starford, author of Bad Behaviour and co-founder of Kill Your Darlings

‘Courageous, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful’ Liam Pieper, author of The Toymaker

‘Sensitive and clear-eyed’ Jessica Friedmann, author of Things That Helped

‘A page-turner of a memoir, impossible to put down’ Krissy Kneen, author of An Uncertain Grace.

 

 

Book Review: The Second Cure by Margaret Morgan

This book was scary, not in a horror kind of scary, but in a oh my god this is so believable that it could actually happen, kind of scary. An extremely thought provoking novel. dav

What a concept, ‘Control the brain and you control the world’

A virus that has nearly wiped out the entire cat population, has also infected humans. It’s altering peoples minds in different ways and some of those not infected are using it as a way to divide the country.

Religion plays a big part in the division of the people, with a man in a position of power using it to fulfil his goals to rule over the masses and get away with whatever he wants by making laws that suit him. One of the side effects of the virus was often a loss of religious belief and this side effect was used by the religious fanatics in their goal of domination. The fanatics were terrifying and the control over the country and the people that they wielded was downright wrong. The concepts in this book are all the more worrying because you can see it playing out in the real world.

The female characters in this novel, especially Charlotte and  Brigid were very strong women. One a scientist, the other a reporter, both trying to do the right thing for the greater good, despite the fact it puts them in danger.

There is a lot of science talk in the book, but it is written in such a way that you don’t feel you’ve missed anything, even though I didn’t really understand what they are talking about all of the time (or a lot), I still managed to get the gist of it.

Things heat up in the second half of the book, which is set some 15 years on. Secrets come out and the power of the bad guys starts to be challenged as we find out just how far the corruption has evolved. As with past atrocities, there are luckily, always people working underground to try and fix things or who endeavour to keep those most at risk, safe. There are many unexpected twists that occur in the final part of the book, which really made for a great ending.

As I said, it is a thought provoking read that I hope doesn’t put ideas into crazy and power-hungry people’s heads.

4.5⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the book: Dark, thrilling and compulsively readable, The Second Cure is a provocative debut novel about control, courage and belief.

A pandemic is racing through our world, changing people subtly but irrevocably. The first sign for some is losing their faith. For others it comes as violent outpourings of creativity, reckless driving and seeing visions.

Scientist Charlotte Zinn is close to a cure when her partner becomes infected. Overnight her understanding of the disease is turned upside down. Should she change the path of evolution?

As Australia is torn apart, reporter Brigid Bayliss is determined to uncover the dark truth behind the religious response to the outbreak.

Brigid and Charlotte find themselves on the frontline of a world splintering into far left and far right, with unexpected power to change the course of history. But at what cost?

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

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?

Goodreads

Beth’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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