20Backlistin2020 book review: Out of Luck by Kendall Talbot

Out of LuckOh my god, this book has sat on my digital shelf for 11 months, I am so glad I finally got to it because it was an action-packed read that kept me guessing until the end.

When Charlene’s father is murdered in front of her it is the catalyst that sets of a series of events that after a while she has no control over, as secrets and lies begin to come unravelled, Charlene throws herself into the path of danger.

While I couldn’t even begin to imagine running off to Cuba to hunt down my past, that is exactly what Charlene does. Her only saving grace is that she is lucky enough to have landed sexy ex-naval officer Marshall as her skipper to get her across from the US to Cuba, an illegal and potentially dangerous journey in itself.

These two have an instant connection, but both fight it as they have their own agendas and their own personal issues to deal with.

Charlene was one tough young woman, her father had given her lots of training over the years, and this is the only thing that kept her alive. While I thought some (most) of her decisions were really not the best idea, she was running completely on her emotions and to her, they seemed to be the only decisions to make.

While Marshall is determined not to care about Charlene, when she doesn’t make the rendezvous, he is, of course, determined to try and save her.

There is plenty of action, suspense, and chemistry in this fast-paced romantic suspense novel and I am going to try and hunt down the first book in the Maximum Exposure series. I remember reading and enjoying book 2 Out of Mind but it looks like these are being rereleased, so I might have to wait to read book 1 Out of Reach.

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

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  25/50

 

New Release Book Review: The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

IMG_20200531_120111I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, flitting from one book to another without really being pulled into any of them. The Cake Maker’s Wish however ended that slump, hopefully for good. I had two extremely late nights reading this novel, I did not want to put it down, but sleep was calling at 2am.

Though I have a few Josephine Moon books on my bookshelves, I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet, but after this one, I’ll be making time to catch up on them.

I was pulled into Olivia and her son Darcy’s life as they arrive in the small village of Stoneden in the Cotswolds after leaving Tasmania for a new start as part of a Renaissance Project to bring life back to the dying village. What a massive step for her to have taken, to move to the other side of the world with her young son, knowing no one and not knowing if the project will work out, I thought Olivia was very brave to do this. But after her grandmother’s death, she needs a fresh start and an extra incentive is her son’s father, who lives in Norway. These two have never met and their whole relationship is based around skype videos, this is the chance for them to hopefully forge some kind of real relationship.

There are quite a few wonderful characters who have also moved to Stoneden for this project, all for different reasons and most having a past link to the village. For Olivia it is her grandmother who grew up there and then moved to Australia. Olivia would love to find out more about her life, but there are plenty of secrets in Stoneden and they won’t be shared easily.

Not everyone is happy about the newcomers to the village, for various reasons, and some make this felt more than others. There are some very underhanded events that occur to the newcomers’ businesses, making them feel unwelcome and even scared. I really felt for these people who are only trying to make a new start and help the village become alive again.

Olivia and Darcy make some wonderful friends, as well as there being a potential love interest in a dairy farmer. There’s also complications that arise with Darcy’s dad.

There’s so much to love about this novel, from misunderstandings about cake ownership, to stolen apples, friendship and secrets, hope for the future, and holding on to the past, this novel has it all.

Thanks to Better Reading Preview and Penguin Michael Joseph for my cpy of this book in return for an honest review.

#AWW2020

 

 

New Release Book Review: Bound by the Stars by Suzanne Cass

Bound by starsThis is the third book in the Island Bound series, and we finally get to meet Logan who has been off the grid for a couple of years, his sisters and their partners make it their mission to go and find him, and find him they do, and he’s in a whole world of trouble.

Logan is hiding from some pretty bad guys, he’s been flying under the radar for a while, he’s currently living on his boat in the Caribbean and working with a turtle rescue group. But his peaceful life has just gotten complicated.

Mia is a dancer and is paying off a debt to a particularly nasty businessman.

The chemistry between these two is immediate, but both are hiding so much and trouble has found them in a big way. This novel is action-packed from the start and as Logan and Mia try to find a way to escape the people who are after them, the hits just keep coming and they find themselves getting pulled deeper and deeper into trouble.

It’s a good thing Logan’s sisters and their partners turn up because after what they have been through themselves, they definitely aren’t going to let their brother fight this fight on his own.

I thoroughly enjoyed the third book in this series, this family sure does seem to be a magnet for trouble, but by the end, they are all closer than ever and there’s happy ever afters for them all.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020   35/50

New Release Book Review: Montana Son by Juanita Kees

Montana SonMontana Son is book #3 in the Calhouns of Montana series, #1 Montana Baby (Overdrive), and #2 Montana Daughter (Fast Lane) were really great reads about the first two of four siblings. In book #3 we get Mason’s story and his chance for redemption.

Mason has always been the bad boy who has struggled with his part in the death of his brother. He has never been able to forgive himself and his girlfriend, Paige, for the accident which took his life.

Paige left their hometown of Bigfork after the accident, running away, unable to cope with the guilt. Now she is back and Mason and Paige must work through their respective guilt and forgive themselves and each other in order to move on.

Paige has to deal with more than just Mason though, her mother and father are more than a little unsupportive and essentially have disowned her for her part in the accident as well as for her relationship with Mason. The Calhoun’s have always had problems with Paige’s dad, the Sheriff of Bigfork, and he continues to make their lives difficult.

Paige and Mason have great chemistry between them, even after their time apart and the guilt they both feel, and I enjoyed the struggle they both undertook to move on. I also enjoyed the way they stuck together to uncover what was going on with the sheriff’s grudge against the Calhoun’s and his determination to close the drag strip they had opened in the previous book.

In Montana Daughter we met 9-year-old Tyler who through a tragic car accident had lost his legs, we catch up with him again as Mason struggles to build a relationship with him due to his feelings about the accident he was involved in. It was wonderful to see Tyler begin to recover from his accident and the changes he and Mason work upon each other.

I read just yesterday that we might get the 4th sibling Grace’s story sometime in the near future, as well as Carter’s story. I could definitely read more about the Calhoun’s of Montana.

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

Published 2/6/2020

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020    34/50

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: 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