Guest Blog Post: Jenn J McLeod + Giveaway

Today I have a Short and Sweet blog post from the fabulous Jenn J McLeod, who shares with us IMG_20200202_132219some interesting bits about herself. She’s also offering one of my lovely followers the chance to win a Kindle copy of her newest book House of Wishes, which is sitting on my shelf glaring at me as I write this. All you need to to win this wonderful novel is share this post and leave a comment below and/or on my FB page for Jenn.

I’m trying something new so please after reading Jenn’s interesting bits, scroll down to fill in the form to enter to win.

Guilty pleasure?

Corona with lime and date scones (only not at the same time).

Pet peeve?

Piracy sites that present so legitimate that readers unknowingly hand over their details (details often then sold to marketing companies) or people inadvertently allow these sites access to their computers when they download that ‘so-called’ free book. The only good FREE book—that rewards and recognises the author’s effort—is the one borrowed from a library.

If you could pack two non-essential items for a deserted tropical island, what would they be?

An endless supply of Corona and self-slicing lime, and a magic e-Reader that never runs out of power or books.

Worst thing about being a writer?

Never believing you or your work is good enough—even after six books. (That may be a Virgo thing!)

Favourite perfume/cologne:

My go-to is always Channel No. 5, but not even that can mask the dust, dirt and sunbaked cow dung smells of the bush.

The best non-writing related prize I won was (meat raffle/free holiday/bingo game)…

I never win anything.

What theme do you hope shines through in your latest novel – House of Wishes?

Thank you for this question . . . Due to the number of family and social issues I cover in this novel, I could go on ad nauseum. Instead, here’s me being brief:

  1. How far we’ve come as a country in terms of women’s right to choose, but how easily the work done by generations of women in the past can slip away if we don’t keep speaking up about a woman’s right to choose.
  2. Strength from the realisation that life can throw us curve balls, but to keep believing in the power of wishes.
  3. An understanding that family is about connection rather than blood.

How do you respond if someone smirks and gives you flack for writing ‘that sort of fiction’?

I say: “I’m so lucky! I love writing popular women’s fiction over any other genre because it’s, err, popular!! And popular means more readers and more money in the bank for doing something I enjoy doing.”

They say (smirk waning): “You actually make money from writing those sort of novels?”

Me: “Boom, drop the mic!” *winks* *grins* *walks away*

My favourite thing about women’s fiction is…

The winking, grinning and walking away bit!

Thank you so much for hosting me. I’d love to offer one of your readers a Kindle version of House of Wishes in return for sharing this post (or at least telling their Mum or sister or best friend!)

 

IMG_20200202_133610House of Wishes:

A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons:

about the choices we make, the connections that matter,

the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.

(available in print, ebook and in audio)

 

About Jenn J. McLeod:

Five-times published with Simon & Schuster and the UK’s Head of Zeus, Jenn’s first book, House for all Seasons, was the #5 best-selling debut fiction novel in 2013. Two years later she downsized her life (packing everything she owned into a purple and white caravan she calls Myrtle the Turtle) and is now Australia’s nomadic novelist. She says she’s planning to do “several big laps of Oz very slowly”, ticking things off her bucket list along the way, and finding inspiration for more heart-warming tales of friendship and family—contemporary stories with a backdrop of country life.

Her 6th novel—House of Wishes—is now available: www.jennjmcleod.com

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New Release Book Review: Two Hearts Healing by Renee Dahlia

Two Hearts HealingTwo Hearts Healing by Renee Dahlia is book 3 in the Merindah Park series and focuses on the third sibling Serena and her trainer boss Lee.

Serena is recovering from an accident whilst riding in a horse race, she’s dealing with the recovery of both physical injuries and traumatic brain injury. It is definitely not an easy time and Renee Dahlia does a great job of showing us some of the many impacts TBI can have on a person, while reminding us it is different for everyone and whilst someone can look physically ok, that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling with hidden issues.

Serena is stubborn, whereas before the accident she would do as she was told, she is starting to find her voice and make decisions based on what she truly wants and feels is important to her, the top two things on her list are to ride again and to kiss Lee.

Lee has been blaming himself for Serena’s accident and has cut himself off from Shannon, Serena’s brother, and his friend, as well as from Serena. When she turns up unexpectedly asking for help to get back on a horse, Lee is left feeling emotions he has no idea how to deal with. His relationship with his parents has played a major role in how Lee sees himself and how he holds himself emotionally around others, and Serena is about to test every one of those walls and boundaries he has put around himself.

I really enjoyed these two characters, and while the banter between them was fun, there were also misunderstandings, arguments, and revelations. There is plenty of growth in store for both characters as they negotiate their feelings for each other and try and figure out what they want and what it means to have those things. 

We met Serena in book two Making Her Mark as she is Rachel’s twin and they were both struggling to build a real relationship between each other as they are both quite different people. While in Making Her Mark Serena had Rachel’s back, it is nice to see their relationship has continued to grow and this time Rachel is there for Serena.

I have learnt a great deal about the horseracing industry through this series, in book one Merindah Park there is the issue of gambling, then in Making her Mark I leanrt about the extra work female jockeys have to do to get the same respect as their male counterparts, and in Two Hearts Healing I learnt about the care of horses and the issue of finding the correct homes for them when they can no longer race. It is evident that Renee Dahlia has great knowledge and love of this industry and is determined to educate us about what really goes on.

I’ve really enjoyed this series so far and I really hope there is a fourth for the last brother Shannon.

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

FB_IMG_1577105032228 #AWW2020 3/50

Book Review: Dead Again by Sandi Wallace

This is my #AWW2020 book #2 and I’m also joining in the Backlist Book Challenge which Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews alerted me about,  so this is my first book in #20backlistin2020.

IMG_20200109_210413I’ve had this book, Dead Again by Sandi Wallace (Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey #2) out of my library for 6 months, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have had it sitting next to my bed. I don’t know why I finally picked it up now, but I’m very glad I did as it was so good, I had trouble putting it down to go to sleep each evening. It was a ‘one more chapter’ book, but because the chapters are nice and short, I’d think, well maybe just one more.

Considering the fires all over our country right now, it was also quite a fitting read being about the aftermath of a terrible wildfire in Victoria 2 years beforehand and the search for the truth about those fires. I didn’t know this before starting reading as I didn’t read the blurb, I had it out because I read book one in 2018 and really enjoyed it. I’m now waiting for the library to get hold of book 3 for me.

In this novel, Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey is on an assignment in the small rural town of Bullock 2 years after wildfires tragically nearly wiped out the town and killed 46 people. She is there to find a story, but she finds more than she bargained for. This novel asks the questions what are the long term after-effects of a tragedy like this on the people and the town? Should people rebuild in such an area? And why would they want to? It also asks the question if it is arson and the person is caught, what would justice look like for a crime like this?

As Georgie gets to know the people in the town and builds trust with several of the characters, she starts to uncover a mystery about a missing man, is he missing or is he dead, and if he is missing, then why? Her investigation leads her to work with police officer John Harvey from Daylesford, who we met in book 1 and who Georgie had an emotional connection with. This book takes place 8 months after book 1, and that connection is still there for both of them, but can anything come of it this time since Georgie is still in a relationship. For me, a big part of my enjoyment of this book was the connection between these two characters and the relationship and banter that builds between them. I can’t wait until book 3 now to find out where this possible relationship goes.

Franklin has his own issues in his town, with vagrants, vandalism, and break-ins to investigate as well as a love triangle that may prove dangerous to all involved.

The characters are all very real and very Aussie and I could relate to many of them and see the behaviours of others as very understandable, both the good and the bad.

I really loved meeting Georgie, Fraklin and his daughter Kat, as well as the other police officers from Daylesford. I wasn’t really a fan of Georgie’s partner AJ in books 1 and that didn’t change in book 2, I admit to having my fingers crossed the whole time that they would break up.

There was plenty of intrigue and twists and turns to keep me interested throughout this novel, and I enjoyed it even more than book 1. This can be read as a standalone, but for your enjoyment, I’d read book 1 first.

You may see this book pop up again in one or more of my challenges this year as there are a few crossovers.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228  #AWW2020 2/50

New Release Book Review: Up On Horseshoe Hill by Penelope Janu

IMG_20191105_105502Oh, how I do love reading a novel by Penelope Janu, it’s always an absolute pleasure and I find them hard to put down. Up On Horseshoe Hill is no exception, I read until the early hours of the morning and picked it up again as soon as I was awake.

I fell in love with Finn our leading man straight away (I seem to fall in love with all the leading men in Penelope Janu’s novels), he was lovely.

Tasked with investigating the deaths of several horses a few years before, Finn is determined to do his job, in doing so, he brings up memories better forgotten by Jet/Jemima, as well as a few other people who would like the investigation dropped. It becomes obvious that a potential crime may have been committed and this leads to danger for Jet.

Finn and Jet had a connection straight up, but the relationship that develops took its time as Jet has to learn to trust as well as realise Finn isn’t going to let his investigation go.

I really enjoyed the aspect of Jet’s job that allowed her to take her horses for children with disabilities to ride, working with people with disabilities and also being an art therapist, I know how wonderfully beneficial these beautiful animals are to healing and confidence.

I learnt a lot about what being a farrier involves and loved the zoo aspect of this story, I never realised how much you would need to know about various animals behaviour to work in this field. I also love the fact that Penelope Janu shows that despite the fact Jet has a learning disability, she is successful in her career choice, that there are always ways to work around things that could hold us back.

There was plenty to enjoy in this novel, family relationships, or lack thereof, friendship, romance, danger and mystery, small-town community and so much more. I also liked the way Ms Janu brings a much-loved character of mine from her previous novels into this story, Nate is an absolute honey that I have been hoping will find his own love of his life, alas I’ve been informed it won’t be happening just yet, but he will make more appearances in future books.

Up On Horseshoe Hill is out on the 18th November 2019, preorder your copy now, or rush out and buy it in 4 days time, it would make a great Christmas present.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Worth The Wait by Annie Seaton

Screenshot_20191027_234714Worth the wait by Annie Seaton is book 4 in the Bindarra Creek A Town Reborn series and my first foray into Bindarra Creek despite having several of the series waiting to be read, each book is written by a different Australian author. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the locals of Bindarra Creek and plan on reading all the books that comprise the two series plus a anthology.

Worth The Wait starts with Jaclyn turning up in Bindarra Creek as the new school principal, she’s arrived there under a cloud. As we slowly uncover what happened in the city we find plenty of corruption and suspense to be had throughout the story.

Jaclyn’s romantic leading man Ryan is just lovely, and I enjoyed the interaction between the two from the frosty reception to start with to the reigniting of their romance.

I enjoyed seeing Jaclyn loosen up as she started to get to know the town. It would be a big shock to the system to move from the city to the country, especially when it isn’t entirely your own choice. I did wonder if she’d cope at the beginning.

There were serious moments and amusing moments and plenty of enjoyment during this story. I look forward to returning to Bindarra Creek very soon as I have book 5 to read next. As well as starting from the beginning as soon as time allows.

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New Release Book Review: Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

IMG_20191024_203440I’m feeling extremely emotional as I’m writing this review, I’ve just finished Invisible Boys and what an incredible novel it was. From the beginning Charlie, Zeke and Hammer grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. I read 70% of this novel in one sitting; I was up until 1.30am and the only reason I put it down was because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I picked it straight up again 5 hours later and was mightily upset that I had to go to work without finishing it. It stayed in my mind all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to finish the journey these 3 guys had taken me on.

I think this is an important novel that everyone should read, gay or straight, old or young. I’m glad Holden Sheppard survived his journey to write this novel, I hope it helps give a voice to those who feel like they don’t have one – the Invisible ones.

This is a coming of age story, a coming-out story, a story of discovering who you are, or at least the start of discovering who you are.

It brings with it so many emotions, good and bad. It made me angry and disappointed at the adults who should have known better, especially the parents who should have supported their children regardless of their sexuality. It made me mad at the kids who were so cruel to Charlie, especially his so-called two best friends and bandmates. It made me hopeful when some of the kids stood up for and by Charlie. It made me sad that one or more of the characters couldn’t accept who he was. But it ended with hope.

I really felt for Charlie who is ‘outed’ by an unhappy and vicious woman, but his outing is the catalyst for everything that happens to Zeke and Hammer and Matt. Whilst Charlie, Zeke, and Hammer held me hostage to their story, it was Matt, in the end, that made me cry.

The parents, school staff and the people in this small town didn’t deserve these young men. They were small-minded, ignorant and bigoted, not all, but most and I will never understand this mentality. I consider myself lucky in that when I was growing up, being gay was never an issue. I don’t remember hearing any derogatory remarks about homosexuality and in this way, I formed no biases in my thinking. I’ve never thought that there was anything wrong or strange in any way about people who are gay and for this I’m thankful as I have some wonderful friends who I may have missed out on and my life would be lacking because of it.

I’ve gone off tangent slightly, but this novel really brings it home how awful and ignorant people can be and how we really need to be open to accepting people for who they are. We also need to  educate those who are in need of educating.

A wonderful novel that I recommend to everyone, I can see why this won the Hungerford Award.

 

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Book Review: Making Her Mark by Renee Dahlia

making her markI read Merindah Park (Book 1 Merindah Park) back in April and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to revisit the Bassett family and the world of horseracing. Book 2 Making Her Mark is Rachel’s story, Rachel is a female jockey who has to fight for every ride due to ongoing sexism within the racing industry. This is an industry where things are improving and as Renee explains, one of the few where male and female riders are considered equal on the field, just not always with owners and trainers.

Rachel has many emotional issues to deal with throughout this novel, some present issues and some from when she was 16 back in her hometown that she’s never really dealt with, but to move forward, she will have to do just that. Rachel’s sexuality is part of the issue she has never dealt with, and while she completely accepts who she is now, there’s part of her that can’t get over the way she was treated as a teenager by small-town minds.

Rachel reconnects with an old school friend Allira and her brother Jacob, and the sparks fly between Rachel and Jacob immediately. Jacob is an AFL player who is hot, strong and stubborn. Both fight the connection they feel towards each other until they can’t fight it anymore. It is definitely not a smooth journey to happiness for these two and there are plenty of ups, downs, misunderstandings, and changing of minds (especially on Rachel’s part). The journey may not be smooth, but it is most definitely hot and steamy.

There is an element of intrigue in this storyline with a potential punting scheme that Jacob asks Rachel to look into on behalf of his teammates. Once again Renee Dahlia does a great job of educating me about the ins and outs of the horse racing industry and I have great respect for the work that jockey’s put into their career.

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

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