Monthly reading challenge updates

I thought due to the amount of books I plan on reading this year, that I would write a monthly check-in on what I’ve read and how my different challenges are going.

At the beginning of the year I signed up to Australian Women Writers Challenge to read 40 books. I have so far read 16 books by Australian women, though 5 of those were novellas or shorter stories. I think I’ll need to change my target for AWWC.

january round up

Book Bingo consisting of 30 squares, for this challenge I have crossed off 4 squares so far. See my book bingo posts;

Book set in an exotic location      Novella no more than 150 Words                                   Book with a red cover & Written by an author you’ve never read

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All review books jan 2019

My Goodreads challenge is going great guns with 30/200 books read so far making me 9 books ahead of schedule  which gives me breathing room for any read downturn. If you want to check out any of the reviews of the books I have read, click on the Goodreads challenge link and then on each cover.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Aussie Author Challenge I have crossed off 3/4 books by Australian women, and 2/4 books by Australian authors I wasn’t familiar with. So 5/12 books crossed off already.

That’s it for January, on to February we go.

 

Happy reading 

Claire Louisa xx

 

 

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Prerelease review: Untamed Destinies: A Romance Anthology

I was lucky enough to be able to read an advanced copy of this romance anthology which is out just in time for Valentines day.

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About the book

Sometimes, love is inescapable

Snuggle up, relax, and prepare to fall in love as you journey through three of the most romantic tales you might ever experience!

Untamed Destinies is the brand-new romance anthology from bestselling authors, Beth Prentice, Kim Petersen and Catherine Evans.

HEAT LEVELS:

THE IVORY VEIL by BETH PRENTICE ~ Sweet
WILDFLOWER by KIM PETERSEN ~ Sexy
STORM STRUCK by CATHERINE EVANS ~ Sweet

Untamed Destinies is 3 uniquely different novellas, with differing heat levels, and different romance sub-genres, but at the core of them all is finding your soul mate.
Catherine Evans writes a gorgeous rural romance, Kim Petersen drifts into the mystical world of paranormal, and Beth Prentice pens a sweet romance with a touch of mystery. Together we’ve created a book where the reader can escape into diverse worlds with contrasting styles, and hopefully discover their next favourite author.

The Ivory Veil by Beth Prentice

Does Grandma really know best?
Gracie Saunders loves her job at The Ivory Veil Bridal Boutique. She loves matching the perfect dress to the perfect bride, and she loves how the veil can show a woman what a bride really looks like. But when the boutique is bought by the one man she hates, suddenly her life is turned upside down.

Throw in a long-standing family feud, a mysterious wedding gown, and the blurred lines between love and hate, and Gracie finds herself in the middle of a web of complications.

Can she separate her feelings long enough to see what’s real? Or will she be out of a job and single forever?

My review: I thought The Ivory veil was a delightful story. I loved Gracie and Aaron, their chemistry and budding romance was lovely. There has been a rift between their two families forever yet no one knows why and their grandparents aren’t telling. Gracie’s Gran is completely mental in her dislike of Aaron’s family and forbids Gracie to have anything to do with him, a bit hard now that he is her new boss, not to mention their mutual attraction  An unexpected find of an antique wedding dress brings about a mystery that Gracie is determined to solve and Aaron decides to use to promote the shop. This had me wondering what was going to be the outcome for everyone once the truth was uncovered and both mysteries solved. This short story had me completely hooked and totally barracking for Gracie and Aaron.

Wildflower: Kim Petersen

When it’s real, can you walk away?

Arie is happy – life is good and she wants for nothing. That is, until she flies to New York city and discovers a soul connection so deep, she can’t look away.

Charly is everything Arie never knew she wanted – he opens her mind to a beautiful soul dance that takes her so high, her world begins to unravel beneath her feet as she is faced with confronting reality.

The problem? They’re both married, but that’s not all.

Can Arie risk everything for a love deeper than anything she ever wanted, or will the dream die along with the truth?

Wildflower is a standalone paranormal romance. If you like forbidden romance, angst, and books you just can’t put down, you’ll love bestselling author Kim Petersen’s steamy paranormal romance.

My Review: This was definitely a different kind of love story and there were times I wondered about Charly and Arie’s behaviour, but I guess when the soul is involved, maybe there really is no choice in who we love and we deserve the chance to follow our heart. I enjoyed this paranormal romance, and the whole twin-soul idea was very interesting. I found myself wondering how it was all going to pan out and who would be the winners or the losers in this thing called love.

Storm Struck: Catherine Evans

You’ll fall head over heels in love after catching a storm while running.

New to town, in a stressful job, Tamara Hancock jogs daily for her sanity. When she comes across a riderless horse, memories of her childhood flood back, including her grandmother’s odd prediction.

Rob Richmond wasn’t paying attention when his horse, Storm, dumped him into the ocean. With a suspected broken collarbone and ankle, he’s not sure how he’ll get home until Storm arrives with a woman who is part guardian angel, part Amazonian warrior, and all horse whisperer.

Tamara is difficult to work out. Sometimes funny, sometimes feisty, always skittish.

Can Tamara work through the pain of her past, and find hope for a future? Is Rob the man who can earn Tamara’s trust and her love?

My Review: This was a thoroughly enjoyable short novella, that I wished could have been longer. I loved both the characters Tamara and Rob and really enjoyed their attraction to each other and the way they fought it. I loved the aspect of Tamara’s grandmother’s prediction along with a prediction that later comes out about Rob and his horse, Storm. This was a sweet romance that kept a smile on my face. 

Available 12th February

Preorder for only 99c

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Like on Goodreads

 

Book Bingo

It’s time to cross off another square this week, I’m actually going to cross off 2 squares, I was thinking of 3 but I’ll save one for next time.

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First up is A book with a red cover, I read A Christmas Gift by Beth Prentice which was fabulous as has been the whole Westport Mysteries series.

Read my review here

 

 

 

 

img_20190130_080816The next book is Written by an author I’ve never readI read a lgbt romance/crime book Valor by Karrie Roman an Australian author I wasn’t aware of before. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Read my review on Goodreads

 

 

 

So that’s now 4 squares makes off for book bingo so far. How is everyone else going.

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Until next fortnight, happy reading.

Claire Louisa x

 

Book Review New Release: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

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This book certainly had me on a roller-coaster of an emotional ride. There were times I didn’t think my heart could take much more and I had to put the book down and take a deep breath before I could go on. I said to my coworker that books based on reality aren’t always fun, but that is why they are also important for us to read. Stories like this one, allow us to walk in other people’s shoes, and allow for empathy and understanding of situations that we would otherwise have no knowledge of ourselves.

Katie McGarry has done a great job of portraying Jesse and Scarlett, two teenagers who are broken, both need to heal and they need each other to do the healing. Both come from physically and emotionally abusive homes. They both have mothers who don’t put themselves or their children first, who blame themselves or their children for the abuse the men in their lives inflict, rather than blaming the person doing the abusing.

In this day and age I believe stories like this are very important in letting teenagers who have been through or who are going through these sorts of things, know that they are not alone, that they can seek help, it’s not their fault that someone in their life is abusive. It’s important that they know they can survive, and they deserve more. They learn that its OK to tell someone about the abuse, that it’s not right and it needs to stop being a secret.

I loved Jesse and Scarlett, they were messed up and afraid, but still strong, especially for the other. This is a book about abuse, but also about love and hope and trust. I loved how their relationship grew once they reconnected, how it taught them both things about themselves as well as each other.

Glory was a favourite character, she was quirky and she was so full of love for these young adults who needed her to give them a helping hand in freeing themselves from their emotional prisons as well as their physical ones. Whether she was psychic or not, she definitely had plenty of insight into what they both needed and her interference in their lives was definitely a catalyst for change.

I thought Pastor Hughes was a great character, he had a wonderful way of dealing with these two broken teens who needed someone on their side. Marshall also turned out to be a character I admired, and he definitely showed Jesse how much he could be counted on.

I definitely recommend this novel 4.5⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan – Tor Teen for a copy of this novel.

About this book:  Bestselling author Katie McGarry’s trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given a new twist in the gritty YA contemporary novel, Only a Breath Apart. 

Jesse Lachlin is cursed.

So the town folklore says, but while Jesse’s had his fair share of tragedy, the only curse he believes is in his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year, Scarlett Copeland.

Scarlett Copeland is psychic.

Glory Gardner tells Scarlett she has hidden psychic abilities, but Scarlett thinks Glory is delusional. What is real is Scarlett’s father’s irrational fears, controlling attitude, and the dark secrets at home. Scarlett may have a way to escape, but there’s a hitch: she’ll have to rely on the one person she used to trust, the same boy who broke her heart, Jesse Lachlin.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings for each other. But as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

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: The Christmas Gift: A Mini Westport Mystery by Beth Prentice

The Christmas Gift is a novella in The Westport Mysteries series and is actually book 1.5 even though it says book 1.

img_20190124_112215This was another fun story about Lizzie and her crazy family and of course gorgeous handyman Riley who is now her boyfriend of 6 months. These two are so cute together, so much in love, and lucky them, sex is always on the menu.

This time Lizzie isn’t in danger but she does have a mystery to solve. After deciding she has to have a real tree for Christmas, Lizzie brings home a little bit extra, (what a surprise). With an element of the mystical Lizzie will make an old couple happy.

Grandma Mabel is up to her same crazy behaviour and poor Lizzie’s mum is still pulling her hair out, part of me doesn’t blame her, I probably would be too, another part of me wants to say ‘take a chill pill mum’

I can’t wait to read book 3 next month.

About the book: Lizzie’s back! It’s her first Christmas with Riley and time for a new tradition. This year it’s a real tree that Lizzie wants. So a visit to ‘Happy Christmas Trees’ is on the to do list. And with the help of Earl, the elderly gentleman with a limp, she even finds the perfect tree.

But the tree comes with a mystery gift – a beautiful etched glass bauble that sends prisms of light dancing around the room.

But why did Lizzie get the bauble? And why has no one at ‘Happy Christmas Trees’ ever heard of Earl?

These holidays Lizzie will stumble along a journey where the past merges with the present, and where she learns the true meaning of Christmas.

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS ‘It Started With A Christmas Tree’

This can be bought alone or as a box set with Books 1 & 2.

Amazon AU boxset

Amazon AU novella

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