New Release Book Review : The Painting by Alison Booth

img_20210606_142209I couldn’t put this book down, it drew me in completely, the descriptive writing was well done, and had me able to imagine the people and places where this story took place, as well as being able to see ‘The Painting’ that Anikar loves and which causes so much drama for her and those around her. 

This novel had two aspects I enjoy, a good mystery and history written in a way I can appreciate, empathise and learn from. I love learning as I read. Set in 1989, in Sydney, Anika, who immigrated from Hungary 5 years previously, during the time of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall and all that came with it, has escaped a past she tries to forget, but which is a constant in her life, from tapped telephone calls to her family, memories of being arrested by the secret police and a constant distrust of letting people in. I admit to not knowing as much as I feel I should about this time in history and I appreciate novels that can give me insight into this time and place, I was 14 in 1989 and I new next to nothing about what was going on on the other side of the world, and what people had to endure during this time. 

When Anika left Hungary to live with her aunt Tabilla, who had escaped over the border into Austria many years before, after the death of her husband and immigrated to Australia, she brings with her a painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress, that was once her uncle’s posession. This painting is the catalyst for everything that happens; secrets, lies, theft and distrust, as Anika’s life is thrown into the centre of a mystery about where the painting came from, who owns it and who is telling the truth. Anika starts to doubt everything her parents and her grandmother have told her about the painting as questions about it’s providence arise, it is stolen, and someone discloses a secret from his past. 

I could really feel Anika’s struggle as she meets the three men that will turn her world around. Daniel, a curator from the art gallery of NSW, who offer’s to help her get the painting valued, but who also seems interested in her as a person, Jonno, who she meets at the art gallery who doesn’t seem trustworthy and turns out to be a jounalist, and Julius, a friend of her aunt’s, an art collector, who is more than a little weirded out when he sees the painting. Anika already struggles to trust people and open up to them and when the painting it stolen, she doesn’t know who to trust, each man seems to have a motive and each one is suspious in his behaviour in some way. I myself wasn’t sure who could be trusted and though I initially liked Daniel, I wasn’t completely sure about him. 

Things that come to light after the painting is stolen,  the history of the Nazi’s and the Russian’s looting and stealing art works, and her own families secretiveness around the painting, cause Anika a great deal of stress and when the Iron Curtain falls and she is able to return safely to Hungary to visit her parents, she goes determined to uncover the mystery and get some answers. 

It is during this trip that she also learns to trust and to heal and right one of the wrongs of the past. 

This paragraph from near the end of the novel really spoke to me:

“Her thoughts floated free. Free of drag, free of resistance, and she felt an expanding sense of detachment. Not only was she seeing the earth from a different vantage point but she was seeing her life in a new way too. Generations of her family had been scarred by upheavals, and their stories where multiplied millions and millions of times all over the globe. Everywhere there were people like them. Damaged people, displaced people. But there were survivors too.”

This was a fabulous read and I will be looking to catch up on this authors backlist if this book is anything to go by, I am sure I will enjoy them. 

 

New Release Book Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart

IMG_20210606_201243.jpgI thoroughly enjoyed this cosy mystery type novel, not a genre I read a lot of, I have a few favourite authors in this genre, so it was nice to add a new one to that list.

I enjoyed Poppy McGowan’s character, I liked that she didn’t have it all together and wasn’t perfect, I loved that she felt strongly about different topics and wasn’t afraid to stand up for those beliefs.

Poppy was a fun character who most people liked, but she wasn’t bothered if they didn’t, she was who she was even when being investigated for murder by the police.

There was a full cast of characters in this novel, Poppy and her crew from the ABC, her friend Annie and her ex-coworkers from the museum, including Julieanne who is found dead in her house, the members of the Australian Family Party (a party I wouldn’t vote for if you paid me, and I’m glad Poppy felt the same way), and the members of the Radiant Joy Church, (another group of people I’d have no time for), who overlap with those from the political party, (I think religion should never play a part in politics, but that will never happen).

There was plenty of humour, a dash of romance and plenty of mystery once Julieanne’s body is found in Poppy’s house. I felt for Poppy when first some old bones put her renovation of hold and then Julieanne’s death compounds that, but I liked how even though she was unhappy, she took it pretty much in her stride while doing her best to help track down the murderer and managing to get some insider scoops for the ABC on her way.

This was a fun read, which kept me completely engaged, I had my suspicions about who the murderer was, but I wasn’t 100% correct. There are a few topical issues raised along the way and I appreciated Poppy’s thought’s on these. I look forward to more Poppy McGowan mysteries in the future.

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

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

I’ve loved this series, but I think this might just be my favourite of the four Lyrebird Lake books, Montana, Misty, Mia, and now Emma.

I remember meeting Emma in book #1 Montana when she was a teenager and pregnant, and now she’s a young woman, a single mother with an 8-year-old daughter, Grace, she’s now a midwife who has avoided the complications of relationships, focused on her daughter’s future and looking after her mother who was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease in book #1.

The shadow of Huntington’s disease hanging over her has played a big part in her life and she has put off having the test to see if she is a carrier. I’m not sure what I would do in her case, but I think I’d rather know, than worry and presume I did have it.

When Gianni, a doctor, comes to town to see his friend Angus, who we met in book #3 Mia, Emma’s world is turned upside down when they have an instant connection.

I really liked these two together, I enjoyed Emma’s struggle to stay away from Gianni, while he was determined to make her see they could be something together. Meeting Gianni also brings the issue of the Huntington’s disease to the fore and Emma must decide whether she wants to know or not and what it will mean either way.

Gianni was a gorgeous guy, who had a sad past, and like Emma, he had kept others at arm’s length since his wife passed tragically. But meeting Emma changes everything for him too and it was interesting how differently they both felt about the connection between them and what it could mean for the future.

Once again Fiona McArthur has brought Lyrebird Lake to life and created two characters who deserve to find their one true love.

Whilst this can be read as a standalone, I encourage you to read from book one as they are all lovely romances and the characters reappear throughout.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: The Truth & Addy Loest by Kim Kelly

Wow!

This was a story I didn’t want to end.

As I got pulled deeper and deeper into Addy’s story, drawing several parallels to some of my own struggles, I wanted to stay there with her as she dealt with those struggles, the stories her brain told her, the encounter with the woman who owned the curiosity shop, beautiful and tender-hearted Dan, her brother Nick and her ever grieving father.

Addy is so like many broken parts of me, so many broken parts of many others, but she shines brightly even as she doesn’t see it, even as she doubts everything about herself and thinks she is dying.

As always Kim Kelly brings to the fore important issues, not just of then, but of now. The fight women have to be treated with respect and not as an object for a man to drool over or take advantage of, the fight to not be afraid. She deals with past injustices of the war, both WWI and WWII, the effects felt generations on by those who come after and carry those memories in their cells. She touches on the need to hide who we are from those we love, to protect ourselves and them. How hard it was to be gay in the 80s, not that it is easier now for many, but as a society it is much more accepted.

I loved Addy’s love of beautiful dresses and her style, I wish I could own half the dresses she had in her closet. It makes me want to go hunting for beautiful dresses to wear, dresses with stories to tell.

This story is full of emotion, of damaged people, some trying to make sense of their lives, to discover who they are and some, like Addy’s father who get on with things because they must.

When quantum physics was wound into the story it made me laugh, because my mind works a bit like the way Dan described how quantum physics works, and though this is most certainly one concept I will never understand, I understand the feeling behind the concepts and I thought the author did a wonderful job of conveying this.

I loved this novel and I will read it again and possibly again after that. The writing and language is exquisite and perfect and such a pleasure to read.

Thanks to Kim Kelly for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Add it to your Goodreads ready for February 2021

New Release Book Review: Montana – Lyrebird Lake #1 by Fiona McArthur

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The first in the Lyrebird Lake series by Fiona McArthur, we meet Montana who has recently lost her husband and is about to give birth on a mountain. A trained midwife, she takes this in her stride and when her friends brother Andy comes looking for her he is instantly charmed by her.

I liked Montana, who is still struggling with grief and coming to terms with being a single mum. When Andy offers her a chance to get away to Lyrebird Lake with the hope she will want to work at his hospital, she jumps at the chance.

I really liked Andy, he was single-minded and passionate about his hospital, and he was adorable with Dawn, Montana’s newborn baby girl. I loved how he gave Montana space to come to terms with her loss and her feelings at the same time as gently pushing her to move on and start a new life. I also loved how open he was about his feelings towards Montana, not being afraid to say what he felt even if she rejected him.

The people of Lyrebird Lake all thought a lot of Andy and were so welcoming to Montana, it would be lovely to live in such a great community.

This was a sweet, feel good romance.

I’m looking forward to book 2.

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