Book Review: Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany

Call me LucyI really loved this novel, an Enemies to Lovers romance set around a cast of characters who are part of a linked series Stolen Hearts, with the next book Choosing Lillian coming out early March.

This novel, as the title suggests is about Lucy who has been in an accident and suffered some traumatic brain injury and has no idea who she is or where she comes from, but the saddest part is that no one has come forward to say she is theirs.

Lucy is lucky in one respect, she is assigned Lillian as her social worker and Lillian is completely about protecting Lucy after she herself has suffered a loss that we slowly uncover details about. Lillian sets Lucy up at her flat where her brother Billy is living and Billy is given the job as unwilling ‘babysitter’.

This was a really moving story, Lucy’s struggle to remember her identity, while at the same time being terrified of learning who she really is, was one that pulled at my heartstrings many times throughout the novel. The fact no one has come forward for her makes her feel that she must have no worth to anyone. Billy’s behaviour towards her when she first comes to stay reiterates this feeling of having no self-worth.

I actually really liked Billy despite his behaviour to begin with, you could see he was struggling with his own demons and that deep down he cared a lot. He especially cared about his sister Lillian and I really enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship.

Lucy meets a very unlikeable character in Tyler when she is revisiting the scene of her accident. From the get-go, I knew there was something off about Tyler and as the story progresses I could see why I disliked him. Tyler is all about emotional and psychological abuse. He plays Lucy from the start and whenever these two characters met, I got a horrible sense of foreboding. Rania Battany has done a great job of portraying both the mindset of the abuser and the effects this can have on the person being abused.

Lillian is working with a police officer Blake, the chemistry between these two is palpable and there is hope something might be stirring ready for the next book in the series.

There are a few other characters we meet who will be part of the series, Lillian and Billy’s mum Helen who comes across as a loving mother, loud and sure that food is the answer to any problem, characteristics that are often part of a Lebanese family. We also meet Gabby, their cousin who also is loud, outgoing and thinks food, especially pastries can cure anything. And we briefly catch up with Leila and Jacob who have their own novella Letters to Leila, which is set slightly before Call Me Lucy. I didn’t like Leila in the novella and her brief catch up in this novel didn’t change my mind about her, though I am glad Leila and Jacob are still together.

I really enjoyed Lucy and Billy’s growing friendship and relationship. I loved the way they both took tiny steps towards trusting each other, sometimes leading to more steps backward, but ultimately leading towards something real and strong that is worth pursuing. Billy really was just what Lucy needed in order to heal from her past and from her accident. Lucy is a tough person, at the same time as being completely vulnerable and I really loved her character.

This was a great read full of emotions and the mystery of finding out who Lucy really was.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Connect with the author:    Website      Facebook

Buy links:             Amazon AU                 Amazon US               Amazon UK

FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   12/50

Book Review: The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

IMG_20191103_171448I bought this book when it first came out which is over a year ago now, I got just over a quarter of the way through but was getting annoyed with one of the main characters and obviously wasn’t in the mood for being annoyed because I put it down with the intention of picking it back up down the track, but it never happened. Luckily my friend has just started a bookclub and she chose The Art of Friendship as the first book our group needed to read, which gave me the opportunity to pick it back up. I started from the beginning as it had been so long between reads. And what a great novel it was, I still didn’t like Libby, the main character who annoyed me the first go-round, but this time I was in the right headspace to be able to deal with that.

This novel really does explore the many aspects of friendship, old friendships, new friendships, long-distance friendships, colleague friendships, friendships you make because you belong to the same group or because your kids go to school together, and the way they survive or don’t survive. It really made me think about the friendships I’ve had over the years and the ones I have now, those that are just a few likes on Facebook and those that interact, those I catch up with or chat to regularly and those that I might only have contact with now and again, but I know they are there for me if I ever need them. Not many of my friendships from childhood or even highschool have survived the test of time, (not past Fb anyway), which is kind of sad in a way but also made me wonder about those past friendships and why they died.

As I said, I didn’t like Libby, one of the two main characters, I found her need to please everyone, to make people think she was something she wasn’t, (to make herself be something she wasn’t), to be very annoying, I’ve never been one to pretend or to ‘keep up with the  Jones’, so I always find people like this very false. As the story progressed and you get an idea of why she is how she is, I still didn’t take to her, but despite that, I enjoyed the novel this time around.

Kit, on the other hand I liked a lot, yes she did make some questionable decisions and they both had a hand in making their friendship one that wasn’t wholly based on truth and honesty, but she was still more real and likeable than Libby.

I liked the way Lisa Ireland drew out the secondary characters backstories and how we think we know one thing about them but it turns out to be something completely different, I especially liked that in reference to Libby’s husband.

With Libby’s son, we get to explore, bullying, mental health, and healthy parenting and some of the outcomes are unexpected. Lisa Ireland has done a great job of bringing these important aspects to life and giving you something to think about.

Spousal abuse is yet another theme that comes up in this novel, why and how people let it happen and how they are able to hide it, also, how friends and colleagues miss or justify signs that it is happening. It isn’t a straightforward topic and there isn’t always a way out or a right way of dealing with it.

Lisa explores so many themes in this novel and she does it so well. A really great story that I’m glad I finally got around to finishing.

New Release Book Review: Autumn at Blaxland Falls by Eliza Bennetts

Screenshot_20190904_212659After reading Summer at Urchin’s Bluff and absolutely loving it, I jumped at the chance to read Autumn at Blaxland Falls. And how glad I am that I did, it was another wonderful read. Eliza Bennetts focuses on slightly older characters, women and men in their 40’s, single mums who are making a life for themselves and their child, who are learning who they are, what they want and how strong they can be when they need to be.

I loved meeting Jo and her daughter Sasha who have travelled from Urchin’s Bluff to Jo’s home town Blaxland Falls, a town she never wanted to return to, because of a job offer too good to pass up. Jo is a strong character, she’s completely relatable in that she’s strong because she’s had to be, she’s struggling with some huge traumatic secrets that have driven her for the last 16 years.

We meet Christian, who I initially couldn’t take to, a millionaire property tycoon who owns the lodge Jo is working at. But it wasn’t long before I could see he was just a man struggling with his own issues and dramas and I fell for him as hard as Jo.

Sasha was a great kid, well-grounded with all the normal teenage issues that go with moving to a new place and she is also going to have a lot to deal with throughout this story.

Jo’s mum is quite a character and not at all likeable to me to start with, but she was a character that grew on me and by the end, I thought she was great.

I loved Jo’s best friend Dee who helped Jo get the job and has been Jo’s rock throughout the years. I really related to Dee, 40 and single, with no kids, her job is her big focus, maybe not because she chose it to be that way, but because that’s the way the dice rolled.

Now we have Blake, a highly unlikeable character, Jo’s ex and the reason she left Blaxland Falls years before. Man, this guy should have been thrown off the falls. You can only hope as you read that he gets what he deserves.

This was a great read, I didn’t want to put it down because I became so caught up in the lives of these characters. A story of family, friendship, love and being true to yourself. The next book will be Dee’s story, and I can’t wait.

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

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

 

 

Book Bingo Round 14 and New Release Book Review: Climbing Fear by Leisl Leighton

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So, another fortnight down and I finally get to post my review of this highly enjoyable book by Leisl Leighton that I’m using to mark off the square Book set in the Australian mountains. This novel is set at the southern end of the Victorian Alpine region, and sounds beautiful.

Screenshot_20190702_171110The setting of the area and the property CoalCliff Stud were very much part of the story. The atmospheric cover itself told me straight away I was in for a book with plenty of suspense.

There were two storylines that met at CoalCliff Stud, one was our main man Reid’s story and the other our main female character Nat’s story. Both are running from things that have happened to them and CoalCliff Stud is the place from their childhood where they both feel safe to do their healing.

I loved Nat’s daughter Tilly, who is trying hard to be brave for her mum. And I loved interfering Barb, who has drawn Nat back to CoalCliff Stud. Barb is a great secondary character and I really enjoyed the role she had to play in pushing Nat and Reid to face some truths of the past and the present. She was also such a warm character, just the person you would want to help you through tough times.

The layers of suspense throughout the novel were just right and kept me guessing till the end to see what would happen and who was responsible. There was one character I definitely had some suspicions about right from when he enters the scene but had no idea why he would be doing what I thought he was doing.

I really enjoyed the growing relationship between Reid and Nat and the way they helped each other heal, despite misunderstandings, and how they had to face their own truths along the way. I hope, seeing as this is the first in a new series, that we get to see how they are doing down the track in the next books.

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

Amazon US

Amazon AU

Escape Publishing

 

 

Book Review: A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird

I have just finished a story that has touched my heart and soul so deeply. I cried bucket loads for nearly half the book, and I can’t stop crying. It’s not all sad crying, there’s healing in these tears, healing, happiness and hope. I moved from one emotion to the next, on to the next, and found I couldn’t and didn’t want to put the book down.

“Grammy doesn’t wipe my face, but she moves her chair closer. She says you shouldn’t wipe people’s tears away because they have the right to cry them. Instead you should sit beside them so they don’t have to cry alone.” 

davI’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that touched me so much, and that’s saying something because I’ve read a lot of books. This was an incredibly powerful story, incredibly written and inspired and brave. This book has some amazing lines and words to live by. Grammy and Silver Willa have some of the best things to pass on to us.

“Believing impossible stuff is the start of how we make it possible.”

Three Willa’s, aged 8, 33 & 93. Three Willa’s who have lived through trauma, and are all still dealing with that trauma at different stages of their lives. It’s a story of magic, magic from a jar with an ocean inside and magic from within, magic we aren’t always aware we have inside us.

I fell in love with 93-year-old Silver Willa from the first page, with her fabulous gumboots and her fading memories. She’s such a character and has some wonderful lines, all the while trying to remember some very important things that she writes in her notebook. Willa is on a mission, when she can remember that is.

Ninety-three is the kind of age that has infinite potential to shock and annoy people. I’m fabulously old enough to wear red with purple, spots with stripes. To say whatever flitters into my head and pretend I haven’t the faintest clue why people are huffing and puffing. To need sensible shoes and then turn around and buy yellow gumboots.”

Middle Willa was the hardest character for me to like to begin with, but she definitely left her mark on my heart by the end of it. Middle Willa is still trying to deal with her childhood trauma and it is a struggle to do this. Middle Willa’s two children are great, especially Eli who can see the magic that happens with the house and the ocean in the garden that comes from a jar.

8-year-old Super Gumboots Willa is a child full of potential and imagination, who uses her stories to survive those things that are too hard to remember. This small girl has a huge heart and is so full of a mix of emotions.

We travel through this story, uncovering the past and the present from the three Willa’s viewpoints. At times heartbreaking and at others life-affirming, the journey is one that will stay with me.

“I’m going to tell you something. It took me too long to deal with the hurt my father caused me. Your mother was grown and married to your father before I could see how little I knew about letting Shane go and loving myself. Instead, I gave all these wounded lessons to your mother as a child and she in turn gave them to you. Oh, what a marvellous job we all do of passing brokenness down through the generations. Maybe you don’t want to keep that particular tradition? “

I do want to say there are some definite triggers in this novel, so just be aware when you are picking it up.

A wonderfully brave and powerful story that I can’t recommend enough. Thank you to Tabitha Bird and Penguin Books Australia for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

 

Book Review: The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Allen & Unwin for a copy in return for an honest review.

IMG_20190509_012335Whilst I really enjoyed this story, it wasn’t what I was expecting, I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but it wasn’t the story I got.

This was a story about belonging and finding out where you fit in the world, it was a story about bullying, childhood bullying and adult bullying including physical and mental abuse from family. It was a story about our fragile and beautiful environment, flora and fauna.

It was a powerful story, Karen Viggers shows her love for the environment throughout, making us aware of the many impacts we are having upon this fragile ecosystem.

Through Miki’s love of the Tasmanian Devil, she has befriended at the tip and through Leon and scientist Dale we learn about the tumours that are wiping out the devil population and what scientists are trying to do to combat this disease.

Logging, especially of old-growth forests has always been something that has baffled me and this is another subject tackled in this novel. Our governments have much to answer for in the destruction of our forests, forests we can never replace. The Wedge-tailed Eagle is another being that is impacted by the destruction of the forests. It isn’t just one species of anything that is impacted, everything is connected and everything is impacted when we destroy any part of the environment.

The three main characters in this novel are all struggling to find their place. Miki has been isolated all her life, first by her parents and then by her brother Kurt. This aspect of the story really affected me for some reason. I found it hard to understand how her family could do this to her and how Miki, up until now, had gone along with the limits placed upon her, it made me angry and uncomfortable. What Kurt did was nothing short of abuse and abuse in any form should not be tolerated, the people in the town, by ignoring what was going on, were essentially condoning this behaviour. This wasn’t the only behaviour and abuse the town continually ignored, condoning domestic abuse and bullying at every turn.  We need to start speaking up for those who can’t.

Newcomer Leon’s presence in the town is the catalyst for many changes, including people opening their eyes to their behaviour. Leon was a lovely and genuine character who I was rooting for throughout. His neighbour, a young boy called Max is struggling with a dysfunctional family, an abusive father, and a school bully, Leon becomes his saviour, someone he can count on and trust.

As these three people impact each other and start to learn about who they are, what they want out of life and what they deserve, changes are on the way and secrets will be uncovered.I think for me, I would have liked a bit more of an emotional connection between the characters, I felt that though they were connected on some level, the lack of emotional connection didn’t draw me into the story as I would have liked.

A well written story, that explores important issues.

Cocktails with Claire: Q&A with Athena Daniels & Giveaway

The scream behind cover

Hi Athena thank you for joining us today to celebrate the release of your fabulous new novel.

Hi Claire Louisa! Thanks so much for the invitation. I am so excited to be here with you all.

Most importantly, what cocktail would you like to drink first up to celebrate your new novel?

FB_IMG_1554993245334Cocktails? What a great idea! Hmmm… How about a CONSENSUAL SEX ON THE BEACH – (Because Claire and Zach’s first sizzling sex scene was at the beach!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 40ml Tito’s Vodka
    15ml Peach Schnapps
    50ml Cranberry Juice
    50ml Orange Juice
  • Directions: Combine cold juice with Vodka and Schnapps, stir and enjoy. Little umbrella optional.

*Not my recipe*

I’ve ordered drinks for everyone! Enjoy 🙂

Can you tell us a bit about your new book The Scream Behind Her Smile?

Thank you for asking, I’d love to. The Scream Behind Her Smile is my sixth published full-length novel. It’s a 95K standalone, contemporary, romantic psychological thriller set in Perth, Western Australia.

Tagline: “A thrilling and emotionally gripping story of love, marriage, deception and… murder.” 

This is quite different from your Beyond the Grave series, where did the idea for this story come from? And how long did it take you to write it?

The Scream Behind Her Smile is a very different style of writing and genre from my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. The idea for the story was inspired by a series of actual events and the story grew into what it is today. I wrote part one of the book a couple of years ago but set it aside to finish and release book 4 in the Beyond the Grave series, When Darkness Follows.  

The antagonist, Derek, is an absolutely horrible person (in my opinion and in my words ‘he’s f**king nuts’), how did you go about writing his character and getting into his mindset and did you find it hard to do?

Lol! I agree. Derek is definitely not recommended husband material! I actually didn’t find it as hard writing Derek’s character as you might think because I enjoy writing villains and anti-hero’s in general. Not quite sure what that says about me!

I’ve encountered my fair share of chauvinistic behaviour throughout my life, so I tapped into the hurt, anger and frustration that arose from those experiences. I then added in a healthy dose of creative licence to make Derek’s true colours, when revealed, really ‘shine’! 🙂

Claire is a strong character dealing with a huge amount of grief, where did the inspiration or idea for her character come from?

Thank you. I loved writing Claire! Pieces of Claire’s story were also inspired from real events. In Australia, the largest growing demographic of homelessness are women over 50, a disturbing fact that breaks my heart. Although Derek’s character may be viewed as extreme, sadly it is not uncommon for women to find themselves in a similar situation to Claire after a marriage or relationship breakdown. Domestic violence is another issue close to my heart. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. It’s only natural to see the themes and causes I’m passionate about come through in my writing. I hope my stories are thought provoking but also inspiring.

I love the fact it’s set in Perth, this is the second book this year set in the suburbs I know, what made you decide to set it here?

I love Perth! I get so many comments and emails from my overseas readers saying how much they learn about Australia through my books and that it makes them want to visit. I hope my passion for our beautiful country shows clearly through my words.

Do you think we’ll be seeing Claire and Zach again? And maybe Kira (my favourite secondary character)?

Yes! I have plans for Kira to have her own book. I love her too and can’t wait for her to take centre stage. I’ll make a start on her story towards the end of this year after I’ve released book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series. I’ll also give everyone an update on Claire and Zach!

You have two really nasty (in my opinion) and crazy (also in my opinion) characters in your story Derek and Jasmine, do you dislike either of them? and which one do you dislike the most? (I can’t decide which I dislike the most)

Jasmine! For me it was definitely Jasmine…

Have you always wanted to write? If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I was never encouraged to consider writing (or any creative pursuit) as a career option when I was growing up. I have always been a very passionate reader, so when I finally wrote my first book later in life, everything ‘clicked’. If I could tell my younger self anything, I would need a much longer list, lol. Although I am happy with what I have achieved in a relatively short time, I would have loved to have started writing a few years earlier.

With your books you self publish, can you tell us how that works and why you choose to go this way?

My first novel, Desperate, was traditionally published, but I chose to self-publish my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. I love the creative freedom that comes through the process of self-publishing. I like to have total control over my projects so I guess you can say it suits my personality. But it’s certainly not a set and forget strategy. I’m constantly monitoring and learning the industry, honing and polishing my skillset as a writer/author entrepreneur. The business side is as important to learn and master as the writing side. Self-Publishing gives me the freedom to try new things without having to consult anyone. Any mistakes are my own, and something I turn into beneficial learning tools.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every single review! Reviews can be extremely valuable if they are constructive, both the negative and positive ones. Of course, the negative reviews hurt, but if there is anything to be gained from them, I try to keep an open mind.

Do you have a line or scene from The Scream Behind Her Smile you’d like to share with readers to give them a taste?

Because it’s a psychological thriller, it is hard to find a scene that doesn’t contain spoilers, so I chose this from the prologue:

As I lie here in my front hallway, in the place where it all began, I wonder what would have happened if I’d never opened the door that afternoon?

Would she have gone somewhere else? Would she have swept off in another direction, an alternative reality where our lives would never have crossed paths?

And now I’m lying here, blood pooling beneath my body, deep crimson smears on cold white tiles, remembering every sordid moment in vivid detail.

There’s a shadow standing over me.

“I want you to die here, slowly and alone.” Her voice is cold, emotionless. “And I want you to use the time to think about what you did. And when you take your last breath, I want you to realize it’s all your fault. All of it!”

I drift in and out of consciousness and wonder if I had my chance to do it over again, if I had the choice, would I choose not to open the door that day?

Even after everything, I know that I would.

I’d go through it all again, and then some, if it meant the chance to be with Zach just one more time…

 A thrilling and emotionally gripping novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

 What is next on the agenda for your writing?

I am currently working on Book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series, Sam and Tara’s story. Then towards the end of the year, I’ll be working on my next standalone psychological thriller.

Thanks for chatting Athena, I think another cocktail is in order

Thanks so much for having me!

* Ordering another round of cocktails for everyone! *

 

The scream behind promoAthena has very kindly given you all the opportunity to win a copy of her book! I have a paperback (Australian address only) and two ebook copies (international and Australia) up for grabs (please indicate if you are an international reader). To be in the running  please leave a comment on this post for Athena and it would be great if you could show her some love by liking her facebook page or adding The Scream Behind Her Smile to your goodreads Want to Read pile.

For another chance to win have a read of my review and leave a comment there also as I am giving away another copy.