New Release Book Review: Starting From Scratch by Penelope Janu

My first review for the year and I thought I’d kick it off with one of my most anticipated reads for the beginning of 2021, I always know I’m in for a great read when I pick up a Penelope Janu novel and meet her characters.

In her latest novel, Sapphie has so many imperfections, she is a great character, perfectly imperfect as her grandmother would have said.

I loved Matts too, he was solid and true to Sapphie.

I really enjoyed learning about water systems, wetlands, rivers, swamps, oh, and frogs. Penelope Janu has done a wonderful job of managing to educate us as we read without it becoming too formal.

There were so many secrets and misunderstandings, some really big secrets, that I wondered how they’d dig through them all, especially seeing how stubborn Sapphie could be. Their shared past is a complicated one and they’ve both been through a lot and both been hurt by things that happened. A lot of work had to go into renewing the relationship between Sapphie and Matts, it’s a good job Matts was determined to reconnect, because Sapphie was determined to keep him away.

Sapphie’s dad was a piece of work, and I was hoping he’d get his comeuppance for past and present behaviours.

Sapphie’s friend Hugh was lovely, I’d have liked to get to know him better, maybe he’ll get his own book, but I’m still waiting for my favourite male, Nate, from previous novels to get his happy ever after, so I’m hoping that happens first.

Another great read, one to start the new year with.

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

Pre-Release Book Review: The Alice Equation by Davina Stone

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This was such a fun, sexy read, Alice and Aaron were really enjoyable characters to get to know. Both very different in many ways, they have been best friends for years, unfortunately, Alice has been in love with Aaron for years, but he has never even thought to look at her in that way, he’s always taken it for granted that Alice, his safe, reliable friend will always be there bailing him out of whatever situation he finds himself in.

This is a friends to lovers, fake girlfriend romance, with plenty of humour. When Aaron first asked Alice to be his fake girlfriend, I really felt for her and the dilemma she found herself in. Egged on by her friend Polly who gives her some pretty good tips on how to make Aaron see her as more than just a friend, she decides to help him out, whilst hoping that just maybe, he might actually decide he wants her as his girlfriend.  

Both characters do a lot of learning about themselves as the fake relationship becomes something more and they both start to question their choices in life and take a look at themselves. Aaron has to confront some painful past and present family issues, while Alice is dropped a bombshell by her mother, another person who has taken her for granted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sexy, fun romance set in my hometown of Perth and look forward to more by Davina Stone.

Publish date Jan 8th 2021 Preorder Amazon AU

New Release Book Review: Wood For the Trees by Ian Belshaw

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I don’t know quite what to say about this novel. If I hadn’t been reading it as a review book for Beauty and Lace Bookclub, I would have put it down several times over and not picked it back up. I enjoy poetic, descriptive writing, but this novel was saturated with it to the point I skimmed where I could, but it was hard as in a paragraph of description there might be one sentence that was important to read.

The story of a man aiming to be a modern-day bushranger and the police officer that pursued him sounded like a great premise for a story, and it was, but I think this would have faired far better as a short story, without the extraordinarily poetic prose, that at times made me wonder if I even understood what the author was trying to convey. He did do a great job of describing the landscape however and I could clearly see the vast Australian plains and the rough Australian bush.

I had a hard time really connecting to the characters, I felt a lot of the time that I was just being told a story, rather than experiencing the story, then there would be times where I was engaged with the characters only to lose the flow as the writing changed and I was thrown back out again.

I got to the end of the novel and was upset by the ending, that I’d made my way through this plethora of words and it ended the way it did, I guess it was a good ending, but for me a disturbing one, that didn’t leave me feeling any hope or joy whatsoever.

I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will thoroughly enjoy this tale of caution.

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Bookclub and Shawline Publishing Group for providing me a copy in return for an honest review.

Pre-Release Book Review: Right Moves by A. M Arthur

Right Move is book #6 in the Clean Slate Ranch series of which I’ve enjoyed them all. This one brings together two of the minor characters that were in the previous books as well as letting us see how all the other couples on Clean Slate are going.

I really liked George who suffers from serious social anxiety issues, having a bit of a struggle with this myself, I could fully appreciate how hard it was for him to take each step out of his comfort zone. As we uncover George’s reasons behind his anxiety, it’s a really traumatic experience for him. I also really liked Levi, who hasn’t quite found his place yet and is still searching. When these two meet, sparks are there, and both men are surprised at the choices they make regarding forming some sort of relationship with the other. I loved how supportive and patient Levi was with George, how he let him move forward at his own pace while at the same time offering him safe reasons to do just that.

George’s brother annoyed me a bit with his overprotectiveness, at times he seemed quite aggressive about keeping George away from any possible chance of being hurt. I got that he had been protecting George because of things that had happened in his past, but I wanted to tell him to back off and let his brother start to live again. Communication would have helped between these two, and when they finally did communicate and when George was brave enough to stand up for what he’d realised he wanted, things were much smoother between them all.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and sweet romance between two men who deserve to find the one. It’s always enjoyable to return to Clean Slate Ranch.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Two Year Blog Anniversary Giveaway Part 2

Because it’s Christmas, I thought I’d do a part two to my blog-iversary and do an international giveaway of a kindle copy of your choice, (so long as the book is available in your country) of one of my favourite reads for 2020.

So, the choices are:

 

Check out the original Favourites post for links to my reviews. To be in the draw follow my blog,  and like my page on Facebook or follow me on Instagram and leave a comment on one of the platforms. A share will get you an extra entry. Winner will be drawn New Years Eve.

New Release Book Review: The Last Truehart by Darry Fraser

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I always enjoy being transported to the past by Darry Fraser, I know I’ve said it before but she has a way of writing that makes you feel like you are there with the characters in that period.

For me, this felt more romantic than her previous novel, which I really enjoyed as I seem to be in the mood for a lot of romance at the moment. I could feel the connection between Stella Truehart and private detective Bendigo Barrett from the moment they meet.

This time we are taken to Geelong in 1898, where Stella is now alone after losing her beloved grandmother. Her abusive husband is dead or is he, someone is stalking her, and then Bendigo Barrett turns up saying he has information from a mystery woman about her father who she has never met and knows nothing about. Life is becoming a bit too interesting for Stella, and dangerous. Luckily Stella has some wonderful friends and now she has Bendigo to help look out for her and help her discover the truth about her father.

I really loved diving into this novel, the mystery and the history of the time were very interesting, I always learn a great deal about Australian history in these novels. I knew nothing of the confederate ships, or the constitution, so I found this very interesting.  

Women were still fighting for equal rights with men, and fighting to get the vote in their state. What women had to endure in terms of little rights back then makes me very glad to be where we are today, even if we do still have a way to go, especially in terms of spousal abuse, at least these days it is not acceptable, even if it does happen far far too often, this is something that needs to change big time.

Stella’s friends Faith and Joy were great characters and provided plenty of humour even when frightening things were happening, Stella couldn’t have asked for better friends in the girls and their parents. I loved Bendigo, he had a great heart and a great moral compass, he was wonderful to his sister’s and despite having had a bad experience and an ex-wife, he wasn’t afraid to give his heart to Stella. Stella was a tough woman, having survived a great deal and being drawn into a dangerous mystery, she deals with her trauma in the only way she knows, not wanting to rely on anyone, but ultimately learning having others to lean on can make you stronger.

This was a great read and I can’t wait to see where and when Darry Fraser takes me next.

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

 

New Release Book Review: Billings Better Bookshop and Brasserie by Fin J Ross

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This was a delightfully quirky, feel-good novel, about a young girl who is amazing in every way, and brings joy and good fortune to those around her.

It did take me a few chapters to get into this story, there were many words at the beginning I didn’t know, (something the author doesn’t apologise for, saying we should all take the opportunity to learn new words) and I found it a little hard to get a rhythm going. But once the foundations of the story were set, I got swept up in the amazingness of Fidelia Knight, a child prodigy and an orphan who already knows far more than many adults, but who is living on the streets, fending for herself.

This was such a different kind of novel and so wonderfully uplifting and serendipitous, with the message we can all achieve great things and if we have the chance we should make sure we support others on their journey.

All of the main characters were just wonderful. Meeting and helping Jasper, the manager of Billings Better Bookstore was the catalyst for everything wonderful that happened throughout the novel. Mr Billings is the financier of everything that happens throughout, giving opportunities to Fidelia, Jasper and his wife, and two orphan boys who all become family to each other. The boys are wonderful companions and I enjoyed watching them grow and achieve.

What starts off as an opportunity to help Jasper make Billings Better Bookstore greater than Coles Book Arcade, becomes something so much bigger. Fidelia changes the lives of those around her with her imagination and her love of words as well as her positive outlook on life. I really enjoyed this novel.

Thanks to Clan Destine Press for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

#20backlistin2020 The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester

I’ve had this to read since March, but that’s around the time everything was going haywire in the world and my life and I didn’t get the chance to read it. Natasha Lester’s novels are always brilliant, so I knew I’d have to read it at some point. I decided the only way it was going to get read this year is if I borrowed the audiobook from the library. I’m so glad that I finally made time to get to The Paris Secret.

This was another fabulous story, following two timelines, we follow Skye, Liberty, and Nicholas during childhood, then skipping to WWII where Skye is fighting for the right as a woman to fly planes and has a chance reincounter with Nicholas who she’d lost contact with for years, breaking her heart. I really enjoyed this storyline, what the women were subjected to in flying for the Air Transport Auxilary was just incredible, that they managed to do their job despite the extreme conditions they flew in, is beyond imagining.

I really loved Nicholas and Skye’s reunion and the deep connection they had between them even though there were barriers to them being together. Secrets abound due to wartime events and all the characters will face unbelievable odds to survive, many won’t, and many of the things these brave men and women did for the cause have been forgotten or ignored, especially the women’s role in the war.

In the present timeline, we meet Kat, a fashion conservator who discovers her grandmother not only owns a house in Cornwall but that it’s wardrobes are full of priceless Dior gowns. This is the start of uncovering big secrets that have been kept hidden for 50+ years. When she is contacted by Elliot, a historical biographer, the mystery deepens and the past will be exposed.

As the story unfolded and Skye’s story is told and Kat and Elliot uncover the past, I was kept guessing who had survived the war and who Kat’s grandmother actually was. A wonderful novel, that kept me listening and reading until the end.

#20backlistin2020

 

New Release Book Review: The Lost Letters of Playfair Street by Michelle Montebello

What a great read this was, I have several of Michelle Montebello’s novels on my shelf and after reading her newest release, I really need to read them sooner rather than later.

While I was really enjoy this novel, it was the second half of the book that completely drew me in and had me reading until 1 am to finish it after telling myself at 11pm that I would only read one more chapter.

I do love a good mystery, especially one with lots of twists and turns and this novel definitely had them. It also had plenty of romance, both in the present day timeline and in the historical timeline.

I liked all four of the main characters, Paige and Ryan in the present day and Alex and Charlotte in 1929. I enjoyed exploring Sydney, especially The Rocks area and while I have been there a couple of times myself, I have never been to many of the places the characters get to visit.

In 1929, Charlotte and Alex’s clandestine romance seems doomed to fail, with a father who wants to save his business, who has practically ‘sold’ his daughter to Floyd, the banker in charge of his loans, there seems to be no way out of this highly unpleasant arrangement. Floyd was a very unlikeable character, he had no redeeming features at all, and while I started out liking Charlotte’s father Walter, his behaviour certainly had me despising him as time went on, he did however redeem himself near the end, but it was touch and go. Charlotte’s friend Estelle, hmmm now she was a character I just was not sure about and she turned out to be one of the many twists that happened in this story.

Present day Paige and Ryan’s romance could also be doomed seeing as they live on different sides of the world, but while they are trying to uncover the mystery of Charlotte and are working together, I really enjoyed their relationship and hoped it could lead to something more.

With todays technology, Paige and Ryan were able to discover a lot of information in regards to the matters surrounding the mystery, along with of course ‘The Lost Letter’s’ and other finds that came to life in the house on Playfair Street.

A thoroughly enjoyable and engaging read.

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Michelle Montebello for a digital copy of this novel.

New Release Book Review: Misty – Lyrebird Lake by Fiona McArthur

MistyBook #2 in the new Lyrebird Lake series, focuses on Misty, a midwife who has the ability to ‘see things’, this is ultimately what brings her into contact with Ben, a single dad who nearly loses his life to an accident, and in which Misty is able to save him.

The connection between these two was instant and something more than just chemistry, the kind of connection you definitely don’t find every day, and one which has a touch of magic about it.

If you read book one, Montana you’ll be familiar with the women’s centred care birth centre that Misty’s brother Andy and Montana set up. It is this centre that draws Misty to move to Lyrebird Lake, it is also this centre, and Misty that draws Ben to also relocate to Lyrebird Lake.  I really enjoyed learning more about midwifery and women’s centred birth, and I loved the birthing scenes that put Ben completely out of his comfort zone.

While Ben has his daughter, Tammy and her situation to deal with, he is struggling with his relationship with her and the introduction of Misty into their lives causes a few issues. Ben is slightly clueless at times, but he’s been through a lot and has a good heart and I liked him a lot. Misty was very closed off, past relationships having made her build a wall around her, but she is a great character. There are a few misunderstandings, and some teenage drama but I was certainly hopeful that both Misty and Ben and Ben and Tammy, could work everything out and get their happy ever after.

A really enjoyable read and I look forward to returning to Lyrebird Lake soon.

Thanks to Fiona McArthur for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.