Book Review: Shadows of Red Earth by Suzanne Cass

This was my first read by Suzanne Cass and I look forward to reading more of her books. This is book 3 in the Colours of the Earth series and though I haven’t read the first two books (something I plan on changing soon), this worked perfectly well as a standalone.

WShadows of Red Earth (Colours of the Earth Series Book 3)e meet Koen and Rose in the middle of nowhere, both on the run from their lives for completely different reasons. They are both really likeable and relatable characters, who in meeting each other change the course of each others lives.

Koen is from Balgo, an aboriginal community in the north of WA that I have heard a little about, Suzanne touches on some integral issues that affect the people living in these communities, youth suicide being a big one.

Rose is running away from a home that has started to feel like a prison due to some serious events that happened to her family in the past, a past that is going to once again impact of Rose and her family.

The path that their adventure takes them on once they decide to travel together is one fraught with danger and plenty of trouble. I really enjoyed the way these two interacted and the way their relationship blossomed as they ran from danger. I loved Roen’s character especially and was hoping he would come to realise how special a person he was. With plenty of suspense and a budding romance, this was a really enjoyable read.

 

 

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Book Review: The Land Girls by Victoria Purman

Every time Victoria Purman releases a new novel, I know I’m going to find great characters; with her historical novels, I know I’m going to learn about a part of Australian history that I had very little knowledge of before picking up her book. In The Land Girls, she draws on the experiences of women from The Women’s Land Army as well as those left behind to do the jobs the men have left when they joined the armed forces during WWII, to weave an emotional tale of love, loss and courage.

The Land GirlsI thoroughly enjoyed this novel and learning about this important part of our history. There are three main female characters whose lives we follow, Flora, Lily and Betty, I loved each one of them, working with them on the farms, sharing their losses and heartbreak all the while discovering so much about themselves.

My favourite of these characters though was Flora. I really engaged with her, whether it was because she was older and still searching for her place, her loyalty to her family and those she called friends, or just her wonderful character, I loved the journey that the Land Army took her on. Flora meets Charles during her first posting as a Land Girl and I loved watching the relationship between the two of them grow and change them. I held so much hope for the two of them and the future.

There were many emotional moments throughout this story, as I’m sure you can imagine, happy as well as sad ones. And it has a wonderful ending 💕.

The work these women did during the war was inspiring and shows just what people can achieve. Without these women filling the places of men, most farms and factories would have gone out of business. I definitely recommend this wonderful novel.

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

RELEASE DAY Book Review & Giveaway : The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels

What can I possibly say about this book to convey how much I loved it. I was lucky enough to read the first two drafts of this novel and they both blew me away, but this final copy, wow, Athena has written a psychological thriller that had my heart in my throat from the opening scene. At times the intensity was such that I had to put the book down and take a deep breath. At others I wanted to reach in and slap Derek, her husband so badly I was clenching my jaw and gasping in disbelief.

IMG_20190309_073822I became completely involved in the main character, Claire’s life from the get-go. Claire is a great character, well written and relatable, she starts off lost and unsure of herself and her life after suffering the loss of her child. As the story progresses and secrets are uncovered, Claire’s strength emerges as she fights to gain an understanding of what her husband has been hiding and develop her newfound confidence. Her life begins to unravel at the same time she wakes up from the half-life she has been living, but instead of collapsing, she uses her circumstances to grow, I was backing her completely, cheering her on every time she confronted her husband and hoping she would survive the fallout.

Claire’s husband Derek is unlikable from the first chapters and just becomes more despicable as the story unfolds. From beginning to end he unveils himself as a detestable character who I continued to hope would get exactly what he deserved. I remember messaging Athena and saying “Her husband is f**king nuts!” He wasn’t the only character who I felt this way about, the ‘she’ in the opening scene is as, if not more unlikable than Derek.

Zach is another great character, with many layers and a few surprising secrets. I loved the relationship that grew between Claire and Zach, I think I fell in love with him myself. One of my favourite secondary characters was Claire’s assistant Kira, I loved her loyalty and her no bullshit approach, what a great friend Claire had in her.

This novel kept me hooked from start to finish with heart-stopping moments, a few laugh-out-loud moments, plenty of twists and turns, betrayal and murder, in a romantic psychological thriller that will definitely be in my top 10 reads of the year. I didn’t see half of what happened coming and was still shaking my head in disbelief at the end.

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The scream behind promoI have one paperback copy (Australia only due to postage) and two ebook copies (Australia & International) to giveaway to readers of my blog. Leave a comment and show Athena some love by adding her book on goodreads or liking her Facebook page and you’ll be in the draw for a copy of this fabulous book. Please indicate if you are a international reader.

For another chance to win read my Q&A with Athena and leave a comment on that post as there’s a copy to win there also.

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Amazon UK

About the book: An emotionally gripping romantic thriller, this is a novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

It’s one thing to discover the man you married is not who you think he is. It’s another thing entirely to prove it. After all, who is going to take the word of an unstable woman who’s never fully recovered from the heartbreak of losing her child?

The only question now, is how far he will go to protect his secrets.

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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…

Book Review: Heart of the Grass Tree by Molly Murn

I bought this book, firstly because of the gorgeous cover and then because I loved the sound of the story. After I bought it a friend gave it a bad review and I so hoped that we just had a differing of opinions on this book. I’m happy to say we did!

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This is a beautifully written book, the writing is almost poetic and I found myself reading slower than normal to absorb it. It took a while to get used to the writing and the way the author has decided to forgo using speech marks around the dialogue. By the end of the book though, I barely noticed.

This story consists of three timelines, three very different times, all connected through generations. I knew nothing of Kangaroo Island before reading this book, and certainly nothing of the sealers and the way they stole aboriginal women from their families. Interestingly one of the next books to read on my pile is also about the sealers.

It’s not a book in which a great deal of action happens, but a book about feeling, belonging and emotions, about loss and life and death, about family. Its a beautiful but sad story, leaving us with hope and greater understanding at the end.

I had so much empathy for Nell, my heart broke as I read her story, the secrets she’s held close all her life, finally being freed through her writing. Through Nell we learn of the people generations before who have formed the foundation of the island and are part of the land and Nell’s past. Decisions made outside of Nell’s control many years before have had a waterfall effect on her daughter and her granddaughters.

Pearl, one of her granddaughters, I also felt a connection to, she was the closest person to to Nell and when we meet her she is struggling to deal with Nell’s passing as well as inner struggles of her own. So much inner turmoil is conveyed I could physically feel her heart breaking.

Such descriptive language is used throughout this story, that I could see myself there on Kangaroo Island through the ages, I could smell the air and feel the wind and see the plants. I was the women, all the women of the different times.

I am glad I took a chance on this unknown book and debut author and will be looking for Molly Murn’s next book.

About the book: Pearl remembers Nell’s feet stretched towards the campfires on the beach, her fourth toe curled in and nestled against the middle toe like a small prawn. They all have a curled fourth toe – Diana, Lucy, Pearl.

When Pearl’s grandmother Nell dies unexpectedly, Pearl and her family – mother Diana, sister Lucy – return to Kangaroo Island to mourn and farewell her. Each of them knew Nell intimately but differently, and each woman must reckon with Nell’s passing in her own way. But Nell had secrets, too, and as Pearl, Diana and Lucy interrogate their feelings about the island, Pearl starts to pull together the scraps Nell left behind – her stories, poems, paintings – and unearths a connection to the island’s early history, of the early European sealers and their first contact with the Ngarrindjeri people.
As the three women are in grief pulled apart from each other, Pearl’s deepening connection to their history, the island’s history, grounds her, and will ultimately bring the women back to each other.
Heart of the Grass Tree is an exquisite, searing and hope-filled debut about mothers and daughters and family stories, about country and its living history.

 

 

New Release book review: The Round Yard by Alissa Callen

The Round Yard by Alissa Callen was a totally enjoyable  rural romance read set once again in the town of Woodlea. This is the 4th book in this series and though they can be read as standalone I highly recommend reading them in order as many of the characters from previous books are part of the series.

img_20190124_152444In The Round Yard we meet newcomer Neve, who with her quiet and gentle way starts a reaction in loner Tanner that challenges everything he thought he wanted or needed. Tanner is gorgeous but broken and Alissa has you wishing desperately for him to allow Neve to help him heal. Neve is also in a bad space due to losses of her family she has suffered and you just know that Tanner would be perfect to help her overcome her issues too.

I loved the characters of Bassie and Dell, Neve’s rescued donkey and pony, they caused me to laugh several times with their antics and Bassie especially had such attitude.

I also loved revisiting the characters from book 1 & 2 and seeing what they were doing and how their relationships were going. I really appreciated the mystery that causes Tanner and Neve to work together, being a big fan of historical fiction, this small element of the story was one I found really interesting. A great read and I hope there is more to come in this series.

About the book:  A heartfelt story about finding where you belong. A new Woodlea rural romance by bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.

For only child Neve Fitzpatrick, family is everything. When she loses her mother, she heads to the bush to rent a farmhouse near her grandmother’s family home. To keep herself busy and her grief at bay, she offers to look after two little redheaded cowgirls and adopts a sassy pony and sweet donkey in need of a refuge.

Drover and horse trainer Tanner Callahan may have just found his mother, but he’s resolved never to let anyone too close. Abandonment has cursed him all his life, and he won’t let it happen again. Only two things unnerve him: children and small-town matchmaking. Then he meets occupational therapist Neve. Warm-hearted and unforgettable, she represents all that Tanner feels will forever remain out of reach.

But when an old iron key unlocks family secrets from the Second World War, Neve needs help only Tanner can give. As the threads of the past unravel, and locusts threaten to suffocate the land, Neve and Tanner must make a choice. Will fear keep them running or is the home each yearns for already within grasp?

Woodlea Small Town Series

Book 1: The Long Paddock

Book 2: The Red Dirt Road

Book 3: The Purple Hills

Book 4: The Round Yard

Buying links

HarperCollins

Amazon AU

About the author; Alissa Callen is a former teacher and counsellor. She was raised on a farm and still favors remote areas, small towns, historic homesteads, and country gardens. She is inspired by the countryside, and people’s life journeys. She is the author of Town of Windmills series, Wildflower Ranch series, and Outback Dust series. She won the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Awards, for Strongest heroine with her book, The Long Paddock (Town of Windmills series).

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