New Release Book Review: When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard

IMG_20200420_125856When Grace Went Away by Meredith Appleyard is the second novel I have read by this author, I do have a few more of her novels waiting on my shelf and I do aim to get to those as soon as is possible. This was a very enjoyable read, there was so much in it to explore and uncover. A dysfunctional family and grief being two important themes running through the story. There is also romance and forgiveness, relationships, friendship, and discovering who one truly is and what they want out of life regardless of age.

I found this a hard book to put down and even took it to work with me just in case I got the opportunity to read some, which amazingly I did.

The family members in this novel are all so different and so complicated. Grace, the eldest of the four siblings was sent away to boarding school at a young age and she’s never fit into the family in quite the way she wished because of this. She has a high power job with a financial institution and is off to London to start a new position. This is the catalyst to a load of changes that are about to happen to the Fairley family members.

Grace goes to London, following a dream she thought she wanted, before she left, she met Aaron while she was back in Miners Ridge saying a last goodbye to her family, and Aaron causes her to question some of the things she believed she wanted and didn’t want out of life. I could really feel the struggles that Grace was going through, things she’d always controlled changed once she left Australia, her family seemed to be changing and making decisions without her and she meanwhile was feeling very much out of control and conflicted in the choices she’d made.

Grace’s mother, Sarah, was a complex character, she’d left her husband and children a few years after the death of her youngest son and this caused a lot of strain and severing of ties with her children and the town she had lived in for over 30 years. She has struggled to come to terms with what she has been through and when Grace leaves and her elderly mother passes away, she has to take a look at her life and at nearly 70 years of age, she is determined to make some changes. I really loved the journey that Sarah went through, the growth she found, and the relationships she formed, through taking a chance on changing her circumstances.

Sarah’s decisions also cause a domino of changes to her other two children and her ex-husband who live back in Miners Ridge, the town she left 8 years before. There is plenty of emotion, recriminations, and learning that happens for all the family members who all have some pretty big issues of their own to deal with.

There are so many dynamics in this novel and I was completely absorbed in the lives of this family. I loved all the characters, though the jury is out on Grace’s father Doug.

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

Publication date 18/5/2020

Buy from HarperCollins Australia

#AWW2020    27/50

New Release Book Review: Home From the Hill by Susanne Bellamy

Screenshot_20200513_213801Home From the Hill is book 4 I the Home to Lark Creek series. This was however, my first visit to Lark Creek, but I’ll be going back and revisiting with the first three books.

I liked this romantic suspense novel, about an older couple who have plenty of baggage behind them, but who are now tentatively taking steps to start again.

I thought Susanne Bellamy did a good job of portraying the PTSD and the claustrophobia that Graham was suffering. I felt quite sad that he’d spent so much of his life alone on the hill. Janice was a good character, and I enjoyed how she found her backbone against her ex-husband as the story progressed, though I wish she’d found it a bit earlier.

I enjoyed Jack, the lawyer, Rick, and the other secondary characters that played important roles in this story. There was plenty of tension created surrounding Janice’s ex and also the markers on the hill and I wondered how it was all going to come together. A really enjoyable read.

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020   33/50

New Release Book Review: The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen

The Boundary FenceI always like returning to the town of Woodlea and in The Boundary Fence, book #7 in the series, it was wonderful to reconnect with the characters from the previous books as well as experience a new couple falling in love.

I loved meeting Ella again and learning more about her and what she had been through to cause her to swear off relationships. The same goes for Saul, a newcomer who has bought the property next to Ella’s. Both have some serious issues with relationships, but the chemistry between them means that they are both struggling to keep the boundaries they’ve spent so long building, standing.

As well as the relationship between Saul and Ella, there is a mystery involving Violet who used to own Ella’s house. Her daughter went missing many years ago and Violet has always wondered what happened to make her disappear and what happened to keep her from coming back. Violet has always left the porch light on for her daughter in the hopes that one day she will return. Ella and Saul get drawn into helping Violet try and uncover what really happened all those years ago, working together on this doesn’t help the growing attraction each of them feels.

I really enjoyed this story, and I hope to return to Woodlea again and catch up with the characters, old and new.

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

#AWW2020   32/50

 

Book Review Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Saving MissyI read this as a group read-along, it had been sitting on my kindle for a while, but this was the kick I needed to pick it up. We read it in 4 parts over 2 weeks, which is a lot slower than I would normally take to read a book, but stopping after each part for a group discussion about the novel was actually a really interesting way of reading and opened up some very interesting discussion, as well as some conspiracy theories.

Saving Missy was an enjoyable read, though it took me until part 2 to really get into the book, up until then, I really wasn’t a big fan of Missy, so if you feel the same way, I advise you to persevere.

Missy has had a life that wasn’t what I would call a great one, she married ‘the love of her life’, but I really didn’t like her husband at all, he seemed to me, from what Missy tells us, to be a pretty self-centred man. She has two adult children, one whom she doesn’t have the best relationship with, and we explore this as the story progresses, and the other lives on the other side of the world, but it is him she dotes on.

Missy isn’t a very likable character when we first meet her, but I did feel very sorry for her, she was a lonely soul, who thought nobody would be interested in truly being her friend.

One day while on a walk in the park, she meets Angela and her son Otis, this is a catalyst for all that is about to happen in Missy’s life. She also meets Sylvie, who is a force to be reckoned with. Between the two of them, and Otis, along with a dog called Bobby, Missy learns all about what true friendship is and these friendships change MIssy in ways she never expected at her age.

There were a couple of mysteries of sorts, which meant I had to keep reading to find out what was what, and there was an unexpected reveal near the end of the novel which I wasn’t expecting.

This was an easy read and an interesting exploration of expectations, life choices, and friendships, as well as motherhood.

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

Book Review: One Summer Between Friends by Trish Morey

A Summer Between FriendsI wasn’t quite sure if I was going to enjoy this book when I picked it up, but I’m really glad I did because it was a really good read.

The story revolves around three friends, though it predominantly revolves around Sarah’s story, her friends’ Floss and Jules, play important roles in the past events and how the future will play out for all three of them.

Sarah’s marriage has failed and she was betrayed by her friends, now her world seems to be closing in on the past when she is needed to return to Lord Howe Island after her mother has a fall. Sarah’s mother, Dot, now there is a character I detested from the get-go. She was a nasty person indeed and how Sarah managed to grow up with a mother who continually put her down and said nasty things is beyond me, I continually hoped Sarah would stand up to her and tell her to “shut up!” I know if I had a mother like that, nothing would have dragged me back to help out, especially when it meant running into old friends who I’d been avoiding for several years. Sarah’s father, Sam, was a nice man, but I couldn’t understand why he never really stood up for her against her mother, the comment ‘you know how she is’ got old quickly.

Floss, married with five children, is struggling through her own issues with her husband Andy, and I felt for Floss in this struggle and the belief that perhaps her marriage was on the rocks.

Jules betrayed Sarah and for most of the novel, I was on Sarah’s side of this, but as the story went on and small things and secrets came out, I felt that though there had been betrayal, Richard was the one I disliked the most. Jules has an adorable daughter, Della who was an important part of this story.

There are many themes covered in this story, but one of the important ones is Jules’ diagnosis of breast cancer. The struggles of the treatment and the issue of being away from home due to where she lived, are ones women face every day, and I thought this was all handled very well.

There is a nice slice of romance in the novel, Noah, a locum police officer on the island, was just lovely and I enjoyed the relationship that formed between Noah and Sarah and was hoping there would be some way they could make things work seeing as they both came from different states and were only on the island for a short time period.

This was a really enjoyable read, culminating in a satisfying ending.

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

 

#AWW2020   31/50

 

 

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I recently read this as a buddy read with Theresa Smith Writes over at Page by Page Book Club. This has been on my radar for ages, but a couple of weeks ago I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 deals at Dymocks. It seems like it was meant to be as a week or so later this was one of the options put forward for the buddy read.

The Night CircusI loved this book, the plan was to read it over a two week period. I started reading and at first thought, yes, this is a little different, but it wasn’t long before I was captured by this story and didn’t want to stop reading, by the end I didn’t want to leave this magical world behind. It was as the cover says ‘Breathtaking’, ‘Dazzling’, and ‘Enchanting’.

This book relies on you allowing your imagination to stretch to new heights, to truly immerse yourself in the world of The Night Circus. The imagery that Erin Morgenstern manages to convey is amazing, I can’t think of another book offhand that captures the imagination so completely.

The characters, the circus, and the concept were original and delightful. The blurb on the cover gives nothing much away, but ultimately it starts as a wager between two men of magical learning who use a young girl, Celia, and a young boy, Marco, to play out the competition with no idea what the rules or the ultimate goal is.

I can’t wait to read her new book The Starless Sea, which will be the next buddy read on the 16th of May.

New Release Book Review: Racetrack Royalty by Renee Dahlia

Racetrack RoyaltyI have really enjoyed this series, Racetrack Royalty is book #4 in the Merindah Park series, Merindah Park (#1)Making Her Mark (#2), and Two Hearts Healing (#3) are all worth taking the time to read.

In Racetrack Royalty, the family has flown to the UK for the Royal Ascot races due to their horse Biographical being in two of the races and Shannon, our leading man has been asked to stay on board as his trainer. Shannon has always been a bit different from his siblings and the way he interacts with people is a little different too. His family has always said ‘he likes horses better than people’. It isn’t until he meets Ananya on the train to the racecourse one morning, that he starts to look at this quirk of his in a different way. Ananya has an uncanny ability to really ‘get’ him, something no one else has ever done, and Shannon and his family want her to stay around.

Shannon and Ananya’s ‘relationship’ begins very suddenly when they start chatting on the train and it goes full speed ahead after he asks her to stay around in the members’ area with him and his family. While the relationship did move super fast, and Ananya made decisions that were completely out of character for her, I really enjoyed the way these two interacted and I loved that Shannon had finally found someone he felt comfortable with and who understood him. Shannon has always been there for his siblings so it was extra nice to see him find some happiness.

Ananya has a young nephew on the autism spectrum and she tentatively broaches this with Shannon. His reaction is exactly what you would expect at first, but after he starts doing some research, he starts to feel like maybe he isn’t that strange after all. This is one of the benefits of having a label for a disability or a behaviour quirk. I know when I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, it made me feel like I wasn’t stupid or lazy after all and I really wished it had been picked up as I was going through school. While I don’t let it define me, it was great to have an understanding of the way I was. Shannon is the same, this knowledge doesn’t define him, but it does give him some peace and understanding and will hopefully allow his family to better understand him too.

Ananya and Shannon have to overcome many challenges if they want this fledgling relationship to go somewhere. Ananya is from a very different background, both financially and culturally, with her family coming from Bangledesh, on top of that, they both live in different countries and have different things that make them happy. There was a lot going on here and there were plenty of things to deal with and misunderstandings to get through, but I enjoyed every bit of it leading up to Shannon getting his happy ever after.

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

 

#AWW2020   33/50

 

New Release Book Review: Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews

Nothing but troubleThis is the third book in the Credence, Colorado series, I read Nothing But Trouble (#1) this time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it came as no surprise that this was just as enjoyable.

Asking For Trouble deals with the repercussions of domestic abuse, by a parent and by a husband.

Della has lived in Credence for the past 3 years, ever since her brother Wade, the local cop rescued her. She’s spent her time getting her life together and sitting at Tucker’s bar learning to feel safe and learning about friends.

Tucker is Wade’s best mate and as such feels obligated to protect Della and help her in any way he can. Being her wingman as she learns to date probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

I really loved these two, their friendship which starts with Tucker giving Della and then getting roped into being her wingman as she goes on Tinder dates, slowly grows into something more.

Della tasks Tucker with teaching her about her sexuality, and she couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Tucker is the kind of guy every girl dreams of. He’s gorgeous, attentive, and protective, but he has hangups about how he feels about Della, his age, his friendship with her brother and her past. Watching these two explore each other and their feelings was all kinds of fun. And hoping they can both get their acts together and decide how they truly feel about each other was fun too.

Della certainly comes into her own as the story progresses and that’s no small thanks to Tucker. But also to her friends and Rosemary, one of the residents the old people’s home she works at. Rosemary is just an absolute hoot and she certainly teaches Della a thing or two, probably more than Della wished to know.

A great read with a happy ending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

#AWW2020    30/50

 

 

New Release Book Review: Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert

Burn ZoneI’m a big fan of Annabeth Albert’s MM romance novels and was excited to see she had a new series coming out. Burn Zone is book #1 in the Hot Shots series and we are introduced to a team of smoke jumpers, a highly dangerous job that can save many lives, but also take lives too.

After his older brother dies, Jacob joins the smoke jumpers squad. His brothers best mate, Lincoln, also a smoke jumper, is not happy to see him there. But it’s not just the danger that makes him upset about Jacob being on his crew.

These two have a complicated history of attraction between them and Jacob is out to make it even more complicated. I really did enjoy the friendship that developed between Jacob and Lincoln and I liked how it turned into much more despite the reservations that Lincoln had.

I wasn’t a big fan of Jacob’s family, I have never understood the way people can treat others just because of their sexuality, and I certainly don’t understand how family or friends can behave in such an unsupportive manner. Learning how Jacob’s brother treated Lincoln who was supposed to be his best friend, really made me question whether you’d really want a friend like that.

I look forward to the next book in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: Paw Prints of Love: An Anthology

Paw Prints of LoveI’m not a big reader of anthologies, but I’d been hearing about Paw Prints of Love wen it was still accepting contributions so I was excited to be able to get an early copy, I’m also a big dog lover and all of these stories revolve around dogs and the dog beauty parlour The Funny Bone in one way or another and are set in the south coast of Western Australia in the town of Stonecrest Bay.

The first story was All the Good Stuff by Lisa Knight and was a perfect introduction to the town of Stonecrest Bay. I thoroughly enjoyed this short story, from the opening lines where Emma is letting loose a flour bomb, I just knew I was going to love the humour Lisa Knight has imbued into this story. I’m already in love with the small town of Stonecrest Bay. This was a really fun, feelgood romance, and in such a short story, (30 minutes reading time), so much happened. I loved Chipper the dog who pulled it all together. I’ll be looking out for more writing by Lisa Knight.

Rescued Hearts by Fiona Greene I really enjoyed this one, this was definitely one of those ‘meant to be’ encounters between two lost souls.

A Barking Chaperone by Helen Walton A was short and sweet, love at first sight all down to a beagle determined to find trouble at every turn.

A Toast to Paddy by Teena Raffa An unlikely romance between two older people, I didn’t like either of the characters to start with, but as they warmed towards each other, and to Paddy, they warmed for me too.

Homecoming by Leah Kinninmont A friends to lovers story about two long time friends who finally get their acts together and see what is in front of them. I really enjoyed this one, especially seeing Harley, an employee at The Funny Bone, get the love he is looking for.

Jakes Dilemma by Susan Dunn This was another enjoyable story. I wasn’t sure where this one was going or how it was going to end up, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and could easily see another story to follow on from this one.

Catching Curls by Jenny Lynch This is Abbey’s story, she works at The Funny Bone and volunteers for the weekend at a CanTeen surfing camp for teens. She meets pro surfer Travis Scott who is volunteering his time in between competitions. It’s love or lust at first sight for these two in this short and sweet romance.

For the Love of Dogs by Lisa Wolstenholme don’t judge a dog by its behaviour, at least when it’s a puppy or is a newcomer to the home. Sarah broke up her relationship months before because her boyfriend, Rick chose his dog Tobey over her, or so it seemed, now she hates dogs, but after being put in charge of her mum’s dog Daisy for a couple of weeks and running into Rick and Tobey, things are about to change.

Puddles Valentine by Carolyn Wren super short, but super sweet.

Chasing Love by P.L Harris The last story in the anthology and where the owner of The Funny Bone, Dee Chambers gets her chance at finding love. When Travis’s cousin Luke comes to town to catch up with his cousin, the last thing he expects is to meet Dee who immediately catches his interest and him hers. He’s supposed to be passing through, but maybe he should think about staying around. This was a great story to end our visit to Stonecrest Bay with, a story full of a potential future of true love.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that allowed me to dip in and out of Stonecrest Bay at leisure, I only wish I could move there myself and find my true love.

Thanks to Gumnut Press for a digital copy of this anthology in return for an honest review.

Releases 29th April 2020     Join the release party on Facebook  

Buy Links:         Gumnut Press            Amazon AU ebook            Amazon AU paperback

  Amazon US ebook    Amazon UK ebook

 

#AWW2020   29/50