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

 

New Release Book Review: Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews

Nothing but troubleThis is the third book in the Credence, Colorado series, I read Nothing But Trouble (#1) this time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it came as no surprise that this was just as enjoyable.

Asking For Trouble deals with the repercussions of domestic abuse, by a parent and by a husband.

Della has lived in Credence for the past 3 years, ever since her brother Wade, the local cop rescued her. She’s spent her time getting her life together and sitting at Tucker’s bar learning to feel safe and learning about friends.

Tucker is Wade’s best mate and as such feels obligated to protect Della and help her in any way he can. Being her wingman as she learns to date probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

I really loved these two, their friendship which starts with Tucker giving Della and then getting roped into being her wingman as she goes on Tinder dates, slowly grows into something more.

Della tasks Tucker with teaching her about her sexuality, and she couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Tucker is the kind of guy every girl dreams of. He’s gorgeous, attentive, and protective, but he has hangups about how he feels about Della, his age, his friendship with her brother and her past. Watching these two explore each other and their feelings was all kinds of fun. And hoping they can both get their acts together and decide how they truly feel about each other was fun too.

Della certainly comes into her own as the story progresses and that’s no small thanks to Tucker. But also to her friends and Rosemary, one of the residents the old people’s home she works at. Rosemary is just an absolute hoot and she certainly teaches Della a thing or two, probably more than Della wished to know.

A great read with a happy ending.

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

 

#AWW2020    30/50

 

 

New Release Book Review: Paw Prints of Love: An Anthology

Paw Prints of LoveI’m not a big reader of anthologies, but I’d been hearing about Paw Prints of Love wen it was still accepting contributions so I was excited to be able to get an early copy, I’m also a big dog lover and all of these stories revolve around dogs and the dog beauty parlour The Funny Bone in one way or another and are set in the south coast of Western Australia in the town of Stonecrest Bay.

The first story was All the Good Stuff by Lisa Knight and was a perfect introduction to the town of Stonecrest Bay. I thoroughly enjoyed this short story, from the opening lines where Emma is letting loose a flour bomb, I just knew I was going to love the humour Lisa Knight has imbued into this story. I’m already in love with the small town of Stonecrest Bay. This was a really fun, feelgood romance, and in such a short story, (30 minutes reading time), so much happened. I loved Chipper the dog who pulled it all together. I’ll be looking out for more writing by Lisa Knight.

Rescued Hearts by Fiona Greene I really enjoyed this one, this was definitely one of those ‘meant to be’ encounters between two lost souls.

A Barking Chaperone by Helen Walton A was short and sweet, love at first sight all down to a beagle determined to find trouble at every turn.

A Toast to Paddy by Teena Raffa An unlikely romance between two older people, I didn’t like either of the characters to start with, but as they warmed towards each other, and to Paddy, they warmed for me too.

Homecoming by Leah Kinninmont A friends to lovers story about two long time friends who finally get their acts together and see what is in front of them. I really enjoyed this one, especially seeing Harley, an employee at The Funny Bone, get the love he is looking for.

Jakes Dilemma by Susan Dunn This was another enjoyable story. I wasn’t sure where this one was going or how it was going to end up, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and could easily see another story to follow on from this one.

Catching Curls by Jenny Lynch This is Abbey’s story, she works at The Funny Bone and volunteers for the weekend at a CanTeen surfing camp for teens. She meets pro surfer Travis Scott who is volunteering his time in between competitions. It’s love or lust at first sight for these two in this short and sweet romance.

For the Love of Dogs by Lisa Wolstenholme don’t judge a dog by its behaviour, at least when it’s a puppy or is a newcomer to the home. Sarah broke up her relationship months before because her boyfriend, Rick chose his dog Tobey over her, or so it seemed, now she hates dogs, but after being put in charge of her mum’s dog Daisy for a couple of weeks and running into Rick and Tobey, things are about to change.

Puddles Valentine by Carolyn Wren super short, but super sweet.

Chasing Love by P.L Harris The last story in the anthology and where the owner of The Funny Bone, Dee Chambers gets her chance at finding love. When Travis’s cousin Luke comes to town to catch up with his cousin, the last thing he expects is to meet Dee who immediately catches his interest and him hers. He’s supposed to be passing through, but maybe he should think about staying around. This was a great story to end our visit to Stonecrest Bay with, a story full of a potential future of true love.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that allowed me to dip in and out of Stonecrest Bay at leisure, I only wish I could move there myself and find my true love.

Thanks to Gumnut Press for a digital copy of this anthology in return for an honest review.

Releases 29th April 2020     Join the release party on Facebook  

Buy Links:         Gumnut Press            Amazon AU ebook            Amazon AU paperback

  Amazon US ebook    Amazon UK ebook

 

#AWW2020   29/50

Audiobook Review: Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly

IMG_20200402_183440Nearly 3 years ago I read Kim Kelly’s Black Diamonds, an historical fiction novel that is in my top reads of all times. When I heard it was coming out as an audiobook, I was excited, having listened to The Red Earth and The Blue MIle already, I was keen to spend my drive to work and back listening to one of my favourite stories. It certainly didn’t disappoint. At first, I wasn’t sure about the voice actor who played Daniel, he started off reading a bit slowly for me, but he seemed to find his pace better quite quickly and then I was hooked. Both voice actors for Danial and Francine do a fabulous job. This is one thing I really enjoy about Kim Kelly’s audiobooks, that both the main characters get their own voice, this is I guess because the chapters alternate from one character to the other.

This was my original review.

This story was incredible, once I got used to the slightly old fashioned way of the characters speaking I was completely engaged and invested in their journey. From love, joy, heartache, terror and more, I was with them every step of the way. The history and the detail that Kim Kelly weaves into this fabulous story is incredible. I have learned so much and experienced the events in this story as if I was there. The events in Europe during the war were difficult to experience and I can’t even begin to or want to imagine what it was truly like for the millions who died in that war. A remarkable story highly recommend.

Set in Lithgow a coal mining town just before the start of WWI, there were many hardships that the people had to endure, an unsafe work environment being one of them. Francine is one of the owner’s daughters and starts off thinking she is quite above the coal miners and the people in town. This all changes when Daniel is injured and her father steps in to help Daniel and his family. From here we are swept into a love story that defies the odds and a war that threatens to take everything these two have worked for.

I really did learn so much history from this novel, as I do from every novel Kim Kelly writes. The anti-German feel, the factions who were for and against the war and subscription, the government policies at the time, the union’s input on coal mining particularly, the lack of facilities and the lack of financial support measures in place for miners and their families. These are all issues that are dealt with and ones that both Francine and Daniel feel passionate about.

I absolutely love this novel and will read and listen to it many more times.

Author Facebook          Website        Goodreads

Amazon AU              Amazon US           Amazon UK

#AWW2020   28/50

New Release Book Review: Something to Talk About by Rachael Johns

Screenshot_20200413_194740It’s been a while since I read a Rachael Johns rural romance novel, so I was excited to hear she had a new one coming out. This is a sequel to Talk of the Town, a book I’ve had on my kindle for a while, when I looked it up I’ve actually had it waiting since July 2017 which is just ridiculous and after reading Something to Talk About, I plan on rectifying that ASAP.

While Something to Talk About is a sequel, it can easily be read as a standalone as enough background into the characters and the town was given for me to feel completely comfortable with the people and the setting. 

It took me a couple of chapters to make a proper connection with the characters, but after that, I didn’t want to put this novel down.

I really loved the two main characters, Tabitha and Fergus, they felt very real, like people I could meet myself at any point.

At first, Fergus is out of his comfort zone in the small town, he’s certainly not used to single women wanting to throw themselves at him or everyone knowing everything that is happening, but he is fabulous with the kids he is there to teach.

Tabitha is a great character, she’s a strong woman but has a vulnerable heart. She has been through a lot of loss in her life and has had a lot to contend with personally.

I really enjoyed the banter between these two, especially as they fought the chemistry between them. I loved it when they dived in, neither realising what they were getting themselves into. There was of course, the usual miscommunication and misreading of situations, but it was all very realistic, we human beings do like jumping to conclusions before we have all the facts.

The secondary townspeople characters were all enjoyable, excepting of course Adeline, the town b***h, a very unlikeable character. I loved the knitting circle where it is as much about gossip as it is about knitting.

There were some serious issues raised, breast cancer being an important one and how important family is through the good and the bad. The relationship between Fergus and his sister played an important role in the story as Fergus struggles with the loss of trust in that relationship and the need to forgive.

I learned a bit about dairy farming and how hard the work is day in, day out, morning and night. Tabitha’s brother, Lawson and her sister-in-law, Meg along with their son Ned were great characters to meet and I am really looking forward to reading their story in Talk of the Town.

If you enjoy a rural romance with all the feels, then this is the book for you.

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

Connect with Rachael:     Facebook           Website       Goodreads

The book:   Goodreads            Amazon AU        Amazon US        HarperCollins Australia

FB_IMG_1577105032228     #AWW2020    26/50

New Release Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

I signed up a couple of years ago to The Pigeonhole, it is an online book club where you get to read a book with others one stave at a time. A book is broken down into parts or staves and each day a new stave is released for you to read. It really makes you think about the book you are reading, but when the book is great it can be frustrating waiting for the next stave to be released. The first book I read with The Pigeonhole was Australian author Kim Kelly’s The Blue Mile, she is now one of my favourite authors.

The Dictionary of Lost WordsA few weeks ago I got an email saying they were showcasing The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, I had seen this novel on Instagram through Affirm Press‘s posts and this book really appealed to me, so I signed up. 10 days ago the first stave was available and I was hooked, I couldn’t wait to get the email each day to read the next part.

This book is now firmly on my list of top 10 books for 2020, it was an interesting, emotional and powerful novel, covering so many subjects. It is a beautiful and engaging book and I had no idea where the story was going to lead me, right through to the end, Pip Williams never failed to surprise me. There were parts where I was silently begging her not to take me where I thought we might be going, and from the other readers’ comments, as we read, I wasn’t alone in this. There were also parts that caused me anger, grief, happiness, and so many other emotions, but I have to admit that the final stave had me in tears more than once.

Pip Williams has a way with words, her ability to convey what people are thinking or feeling, to describe a situation or the environment, to put words themselves into context was remarkable and beautiful. There were so many lines I’d have loved to have pulled out and shared.

The book begins in 1886 and carries us through to the epilogue in 1989, though the majority of the story is between 1886 and 1915. There is just so much in this novel I can’t begin to unpack it and I will be buying myself a copy so I can reread it. Esme is a child hiding under the table in the Scriptorium, the place, a garden shed in fact, where the majority of the Oxford English Dictionary was pieced together over several decades, one letter and one word at a time. It is the place Esme learns about words and their meanings and about the importance of words to different people.

Some words are more important than others – I learned this, growing up in the Scriptorium. But it took me a long time to understand why.”

Esme collects a fallen word, Bondmaid, and hides it in a trunk, this is the start of her Dictionary of Lost Words, it is also the start of a journey to discover more words, words that are missing from the dictionary, words that ordinary people, especially women, use every day, but which are not given the importance that other words are given.

As Esme grows older she discovers the Suffragist movement and the Suffragettes, she discovers the women who work in the markets, the downtrodden and forgotten, the servants, the workers, other women who a person of Esme’s standing shouldn’t be mixing with, and she discovers Words. These are words she has never heard, words that have been left out of the dictionary, or whose meaning has been left out because it didn’t come from a scholarly source. I found this fascinating and reading the author’s notes about how the book came to be and the research she did was just as interesting.

        “I know some quite bad words. I collect them from an old woman at the market in Oxford.”

       “Well, it’s one thing to hear them in the market and quite another to have them roll around inside your mouth.” She took my dressing gown from the back of the door and helped me into it. “Some words are more than letters on a page, don’t you think?” she said, tying the sash around my belly as best she could. “They have shape and tecxure. They are like bullets, full of energy, and when you give one breath you can feel its sharp edge against your lip. It can be quite cathartic in the right context.”

Esme’s life revolves around the Scriptorium, but through words and her experiences, she leads an interesting life. The cast of characters that share Esme’s life are varied, from the scholars in the Scriptorium, Lizzie, a maid in the big house, who becomes so much more, her Aunt Ditte who is a mentor, a teacher and more, Gareth who works in the print shop, and most importantly, her father, who if it wasn’t for the way he brought up his daughter as a single parent, none of what Esme achieved would have happened; all these people and more have a huge part to play in how Esme conducts her life.

Pip Williams shows us the inequality between men and women, not just in societal expectations, but in lack of opportunity for academic achievement, the fact women’s voices aren’t heard or respected, that they can do a degree, but can’t graduate. This is made very clear in how words are chosen for the dictionary that they are building. So many things we now take for granted, but at the same time we still have that inequality.

I highly recommend this novel, I’ve been struggling to stay on track with my reading this past month as I’ve said in previous posts and as I’ve read from many other readers, but this book had me wanting to read, needing to know what was going to happen next.

Thank you to The Pigeonhole, Pip Williams and Affirm Press for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.

For those interested, there is a great video you can watch on Facebook through Dymocks Books, click here for the link.

Buy Links

Affirm Press         Amazon AU        Amazon US             Bookdepository          Booktopia

FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   25/50

 

 

 

New Release Book Review: You, Me, Us by Eliza Bennetts

You, Me , UsYou, Me, Us by Eliza Bennetts is the first book in a new series The Empty Nesters about a group of five 40 something friends, who get together to help each other through the good and the bad events of each others lives. They are each others support network and their first point of call when they need to reach out.

Book one focuses on Penelope who is 47 and a hard-working professional woman. Penelope has seemingly gotten her life together after separating from her husband 4 years beforehand. She’s now with a young man who’s 25 years old and she is loving having a toyboy, especially in the bedroom.

Penelope is forced into taking a good look at her relationships and what she wants after her husband Michael is forced into homelessness, mainly due to his own inability to take responsibility for his life and go out and earn money.

I actually liked Michael, he has always relied on Penelope throughout their marriage and Penelope let him, until one day she didn’t. I thought he was lost, he thought Penelope and his kids wanted someone who was successful and therefore was completely focused on being a successful writer to the detriment of everything else. His circumstances are now making him reevaluate everything he previously thought and everything he took for granted and I really liked how he rose to the challenge.

I thought Eliza Bennetts did a good job of showing us how easily someone can end up homeless and how it then becomes a vicious cycle, how do you get a job when you don’t have an address, when you can’t keep clean, when you have to sleep in your car, where do you eat, how do you get support?

My opinion of Penelope was constantly changing, at times I found her lack of compassion towards Michael justified and at others I thought she was being selfish. She didn’t really know what she was doing and why and her friends were her fallback when she needed to look at what was going on in her well-ordered life, which was now suddenly in chaos.

Her group of friends, 4 other women, who were very different from each other but they’ve all travelled a long way together and seemingly have a handle on each other, except, I didn’t feel they always did. They are all hiding things from each other, something I’m sure will be uncovered as the series progresses. At times I thought they gave Penelope good advice and at others I found some of them to be quite judgemental, about Penelope and about Michael. I haven’t really warmed to Penelope’s friends yet, I liked bits and pieces about them, but I am looking forward to uncovering who they are in future books.

I really enjoyed this book, I think it was a good starting point to introduce this group of women who are all obviously going through very different things. There were some serious issues, mixed with plenty of humour (a lot of this was from Michael), as well as sex and chemistry and many different relationships to explore. I look forward to the next book in The Empty Nesters series.

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020   23/50

New Release Book Review: Midwife in the Jungle by Fiona McArthur

Midwife in the JungleHappy release day to Fiona McArthur. I really enjoyed this romance novella, at just under 200 pages, it was the perfect escapist read I needed with all the things that are going on at the moment. For a shortish read, Fiona McArthur has managed to fit a lot into her newest story.

Our leading man is a sexy young doctor, Jonah, who works in Papua New Guinea for Missions Pacific, not an easy job or a very safe one. He’s lost family to this dangerous place but feels he is needed there, it has also made him decide never to love someone because it is no place for a family.

Our leading lady, Jacinta, is an overachieving doctor as Director of Emergency in a busy hospital in Sydney who has no time for anything other than work and volunteering at a teenage refuge.

When Jonah is brought into Jacinta’s emergency ward with malaria, sparks fly between the two of them, they alternate between annoyance and sexual chemistry and neither one is too impressed. There’s something about Jonah and his job that calls to Jacinta and she decides to follow this unexpected man and the call for adventure and heads to PNG to volunteer.

Both of these characters have troubled pasts, and they play a big part in who they are and the decisions they make. There is plenty of action, danger, intrigue, romance and chemistry that keeps this story moving along at a fast pace. I’m not sure that the jungles of PNG would be the kind of place I would choose to go, but with the differences they can make to these people’s lives I can certainly see what would lead these characters there.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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#AWW2020  22/50

New Release Book Review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

The Good TurnThis is the third crime novel in the Cormac Reilly series, I thoroughly enjoyed the first two novels The Ruin and The Scholar, but with book #3 The Good Turn, Dervla McTiernan has claimed a spot as one of my favourite crime writers. The Good Turn was a great read, I was hooked from the start. I think knowing Cormac and his coworkers’ backstory really helped make a difference in how much I enjoyed this book. I really do recommend you read them in order because the characters’ personal lives play a big part in this book.

When a call comes in about a child abduction, everything that could go wrong for Cormac and his team does go wrong. Cormac ends up suspended, something his boss has been angling for since day one. Garda Peter Fisher is sent to a small town and placed under his overbearing police officer father’s jurisdiction as well as having the threat of prosecution hanging over his head.

From the start of the series, Cormac was not a welcome member of the Galway station and he hasn’t won over too many people since he’s been there. He is also damn sure there is some major corruption within the system and with his suspension, he not only sets out to save Peter from the threat of prosecution but is determined this time to uncover the people behind the corruption. What he uncovers goes way deeper than he could have imagined and leaves him with very few people to trust.

We meet Anna and her daughter Tilly who are staying with Peter’s grandmother and who seem to be hiding from something. Peter starts to wonder whether his father is on the up and up and after several incidents, he sets out to find out exactly what is going on. This leads to more trouble for Peter, but he’s been taught by Cormac and is unwilling to let things be despite any trouble he may be facing.

As Cormac and Peter try and uncover secrets and save themselves from unemployment, they find out way more than they bargained for. There were so many twists in this novel and even when some of my guesses were right, there were plenty of things that I got wrong.

I highly recommend The Good Turn for lovers of crime fiction and thank NetGalley and HarperCollins AU for my digital copy in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU              Amazon US               HarperCollins AU

Goodreads                Facebook             Author Website

 

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  21/50

 

 

 

#20Backlistin2020: Book Review: Beyond Identity by Karrie Roman

Beyond IdentityI read a previous novel by Karrie Roman and thought it was a fabulous read, so I was keen to read Beyond Identity, but for some reason it has been on my shelf since the end of August, I’m not sure what was happening around that time but I seem to have a fair few backlist books from this period. This is my fourth #20Backlistin2020 review and it does feel so good to be getting some of these great books read.

This was one book I was loath to put down in order to go to work, I was hooked from the beginning and despite some of it feeling a little bit hard to believe, I really enjoyed it.

I really liked both of the main characters, Noah, who is currently homeless, is bashed on the streets one night ending up in hospital. Harry is a financial reporter trying to become an investigative journalist, he is doing a story on the homeless community and when he hears of the assault on Noah, he turns up at the hospital to see if he can interview him.

Noah was a great character, at first unwilling to ask for help, but slowly letting his guard down as his relationship with Harry progressed. As I found out about Noah’s situation, it seemed it was another all too familiar case of a child getting lost in the system, just like real life. I really liked Noah and I liked seeing how he was tough but vulnerable.

I liked Harry, I liked how his compassion and empathy wouldn’t allow him to turn away from Noah, a complete stranger when he was in need of someone to help him, and that he was willing to follow Noah and help him to uncover the truth about his past.

There was plenty of chemistry between Noah and Harry, as well as genuine affection, and I loved how this relationship bloomed.

The truth about Noah’s past and his parents went in several directions I wasn’t expecting and one I was. It will never cease to amaze me the lengths some people will go to to be top dog. There were a few moments when I didn’t know if all was going to end well or not and I had to keep reading despite the need to sleep.

I look forward to reading more books by this author.

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

Amazon AU                     Amazon US                   Amazon UK

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