New Release Book Review: Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert

Burn ZoneI’m a big fan of Annabeth Albert’s MM romance novels and was excited to see she had a new series coming out. Burn Zone is book #1 in the Hot Shots series and we are introduced to a team of smoke jumpers, a highly dangerous job that can save many lives, but also take lives too.

After his older brother dies, Jacob joins the smoke jumpers squad. His brothers best mate, Lincoln, also a smoke jumper, is not happy to see him there. But it’s not just the danger that makes him upset about Jacob being on his crew.

These two have a complicated history of attraction between them and Jacob is out to make it even more complicated. I really did enjoy the friendship that developed between Jacob and Lincoln and I liked how it turned into much more despite the reservations that Lincoln had.

I wasn’t a big fan of Jacob’s family, I have never understood the way people can treat others just because of their sexuality, and I certainly don’t understand how family or friends can behave in such an unsupportive manner. Learning how Jacob’s brother treated Lincoln who was supposed to be his best friend, really made me question whether you’d really want a friend like that.

I look forward to the next book in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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 I 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.

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#AWW2020   28/50

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 Realease Book Review: The Secrets of Strangers by Charity Norman

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Wow, this book was not what I was expecting, but it was a really great read, one that had me hooked from the start to the finish.

The Premise, 5 strangers trapped in a cafe with a crazy gunman, this sounded a lot like a real-life siege in Sydney a few years ago.

These strangers have nothing apparent in common, but as we slowly get to meet each of the hostages, as well as the gunman, we learn their stories and they learn about each other. They all have secrets and demons that are uncovered as the story and the siege progresses and they will all make decisions that may change their lives. I was completely invested in the lives of all the characters and their plight to get out of a desperate situation with their lives. This was an emotional read for me and the situation changed from minute to minute.

I really don’t want to give anything away about this book other than to say it was a fabulous read and I highly recommend it. As other reviewers have said, to say too much would be giving things away and would spoil it for you all.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Spring at Lake Grange by Eliza Bennetts

Spring at Lake Grange

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, I love the fact that the women are over 40, are strong women and are still able to find their happily ever after.

This one especially ticked all my boxes due to its abundance of inclusion from so many aspects of our society.

I really loved our main female character Maria, we were introduced to her in book 3, Winter in Mason Valley and it was lovely to see her get her own story. She’s such a positive, sassy, sexy lady and I loved that she really seemed to know who she was.

Ethan was a different kind of character altogether, described as socially inept and he certainly was that, part of it came from his upbringing, and lack of positive role models and lack of relationships formed when he was young, but part of me continued to feel that he seemed to be on the autism spectrum, whether this is because I work in this industry or not, I don’t know, but I liked that this man, who had so many social issues, was still able to find ‘the one’ and form a meaningful relationship. I did find myself rolling my eyes many many times at Ethan’s complete inability to understand feelings and felt sad that he thought feelings were to be avoided at all costs.

I liked Maria’s whole family, her brothers were both good characters and I especially loved her brother Steven and I thought it was very brave and right of him to decide it was time for him to be happy and to be truthful to his family no matter the fallout, in order to be true to himself. I loved how wonderful Maria’s relationship was with Steven and how she had his back completely.

There was so much to like about this novel, it was a story of family, of inclusiveness, of figuring out who you really were and what you really wanted, a story of coming to terms with what life has dealt you and loving those around you for who they are no matter what. I definitely ended this novel feeling good for all the characters involved and knowing that they would all be travelling happily ever after.

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#AWW2020 19/50

Catch up post

I’ve been a bit quiet this last week or so, I’ve been doing lots of reading, but working too late to be writing my reviews so I’ll be doing lots of catch up reviewing this weekend. I thought until then i”d let you know what I’ve been reading, listening to and currently reading.

I’ve finished listening to

Away with the Fairies (Phryne Fisher, #…The Huntress

I’m currently listening to

The Castlemaine Murders (Phryne Fisher, #13)

I’ve finished reading

A Torn Paige (Hidden Kingdom Trilogy #1)A Torn Paige (Hidden Kingdom Trilogy #1)A Final Paige (Hidden Kingdom Trilogy #3)

Desire LinesThe Good Turn (Cormac Reilly, #3)Call me LucyGoing Home  (Return to Nam Book 3)

I’m currently reading

Choosing LillianTruths I Never Told YouTruganini

 

Keep a look out for my reviews this week. I’ll also do an update on my GR Aussie Book Bingo card.

New Release Book Review: Walking by Kim Kelly

WalkingAnyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of Kim Kelly’s writing, I would read just about anything she wrote. She has an amazing gift for drawing me completely into her stories , the places and the times, and I live through everything the characters do. All of her novels are written so differently, from the tone to the point of view, they are all completely individual.

Her newest offering Walking is written in two completely different perspectives. Firstly we have Lucy Brynne who tells us the story from her point of view, later in the story we also have Jim telling the story from his point of view, I really loved these chapters from the get go. The other chapters, Hugo Winter and the god-awful Eliot Slade are told from the point of view of a narator telling us their part of the story. I admit to taking a bit longer to get into this style of writing, but once I got used to it I was hooked.

I have to say, not much housework got done the weekend I read Walking thanks to Lucy, Jim, and Hugo (and the god awful Slade). I couldn’t put Walking down. What fabulous tale Kim Kelly has told.

How angry Eliot Slade and the rest of the medical institution made me whilst reading this novel. How absolutely upset and angry I get when I read about the prejudices of people because of race or religion, especially when I hear about it happening in Australia. Things are obviously better now than they were in Lucy and Hugo’s time, but there’s still so much of it that goes on. I thank her for bringing these things to the forefront of people’s minds, maybe it will make them look at how they behave now and how they allow this behaviour to continue to happen. Hmm slightly off track there, but that’s what happens when I get onto a topic I’m passionate about.

Doctor Hugo Winter is a German sugeon who has immigrated to Australia after falling in love. He is a renowned and respected orthapedic surgeon in Germany and has an abrupt manner when dealing with those he finds stupid, I really enjoyed his quirky character which had so much passion and compassion underneath his abrupt and sometimes oblivious manner. Hugo Winter’s character is fictional, but is based on the real life German-Australian surgeon Max Herz. To read more about Kim Kelly’s inspiration behind Hugo click here.  I really liked Hugo, and once I got used to the style his part of the story was written, I embraced him wholeheartedly. The way Hugo was treated during the war, the way most German-Australian’s were treated, was just awful, as I mentioned above, and I can’t for the life of me understand what makes people so prejudiced against those of a different race, especially those they have lived and worked beside for years.

I loved Lucy so much, I’ve been through the sexism she went through most of my working life, but like her I just kept my head down and kept on, for the most part. Lucy is a physiotheraspist, unusual for the 1940s, and she is not given the respect she deserves from the rest of the medical staff, and especially from the nursing staff. Lucy’s journey from her disadvantaged childhood, her accident that required treatment from Doctor Hugo Winter, something that completely changed both of their lives, through to her life now as a physio, was a story I was completely invested in. Lucy spends a lot of time thinking and telling herself off in her head, and I could so relate to this, and where in some characters it can be annoying, I found this suited Lucy’s character so well.

Jim was a great character too, I loved how Lucy and Jim complimented each other so well. From their first meeting in the hospital bed as Lucy’s patient, you just know the relationship is going to become something more. Jim’s accident turns out to be a blessing for many reasons and not just because of the love story between him and Lucy.

There were a couple of other characters worth mentioning, Anton, a friend and colleague of Hugo’s was a wonderful character, I loved his quirks and his drive as much as I did Hugo’s. Then we have our antagonist, the god-awful Eliot Slade, who had no redeeming features at all. He was a horrible, jealous individual, only out for himself, even his patients didn’t matter, and what he puts Hugo through for decades is more than I would have been able to stand.

This is a story about grief, hope, dreams, love, prejudice, racism, sexism and more and I highly recommend it.

Music plays a part throughout the story and in Kim Kelly’s blog post about Walking (that I have linked above), she lists some of the songs, so I have made a playlist on YouTube for anyone interested.

 

I thank Kim Kelly for providing me a digital copy of Walking in return for an honest review.

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#AWW2020 11/50FB_IMG_1577105032228

Book Review : The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh

IMG_20200206_190147The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh was an absolutely brilliant read!

It was my turn to pick the book for my face-to-face book club this month and this was my pick. I received this for Christmas 2018 and thought it was well past time that I read it, it also marks off another #20backlistin2020 books, that’s 2 down 18 to go. This is also my 10th book in the AWW2020 reading challenge.

This could have been just another holocaust novel, but it was very different from any others I’ve read.

We meet Severine/Katerina when she is in London working on secondment at a museum in 1963 and is asked to identify some pearls, this is the start of her journey into remembering the past and seeking revenge and peace in the now. 

There are several stories/timelines happening throughout this novel, we have the 1939-1941 timeline, the beginning of the end for Katerina and her family, the start of the war and the murder of thousands of Jewish people. I had never heard of the kindertransport, trains that were to take Jewish children and babies from Germany and the greater Europe to the safety of Britain, being put up in homes until their parents could once again be reunited with them. For the majority, they never saw their families again. How brave and terrified must those families and children have been, saying goodbye to loved ones, knowing it was unlikely they’d never see them again.

At times I found some of the story very hard to read, especially when Severine/Katerina is telling Daniel about what happened to her and her family due to Ruda Mayek, a man she has spent 20 years trying to forget. Ruda Mayek is an evil man, there were so many of them during the war, I guess, there still are, but it seems like Hitler brought out the very worst in people, especially those who weren’t nice to begin with. As Katerina tells Daniel her story, I was transported to the places she remembers, perhaps too clearly at times due to Fiona McIntosh’s ability to describe things in such detail.

The lawyer, Edward Summerbee, who is in charge of the pearls becomes an important character in the novel and whilst not being willing to break his oath to keep his client’s identity a secret, he is able to help Katerina in other ways. I really liked Edward and his determination to keep to his morals as a lawyer, but his determination to also help where he could, even if he took some persuading.

There was plenty of suspense in the hunt for Ruda Mayek and plenty of secrets to uncover throughout the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and must get onto this last year’s Christmas present by the same author, The Diamond Hunter.

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#AWW2020  10/50

New Release Book Review: Hard Ride by A.M. Arthur

Hard RideHard Ride: A Gay Cowboy Romance (Book 5 Clean Slate Ranch series) by A.M. Arthur had me up all night reading to see if our two main characters, Slate and Derrick could go from fake boyfriends to something real. I have enjoyed this whole series so far and this newest book was no exception.

This one takes us away from Clean Slate Ranch, though all the previous characters I’ve come to know and love, regularly make appearances. After Slate has an accident he makes a deal with Derrick, they will be fake boyfriends for the summer, so Derrick has a date for 5 family weddings he has to attend, and in return Slate can recuperate at his place in the city where he has access to medical facilities.

The fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope is not a new one, but I personally haven’t read many of them, and I really enjoyed this one, watching them fall for each other, they already knew they had the chemistry, but watching that chemistry turn to something more was really enjoyable even if they were both too stubborn to say anything to each other. Cue best friends who can help out.

I loved the new cast of supporting characters who live in Derrick’s house and who Slate also becomes good friends with. I especially liked Dez who’s sweet, quirky and an individual and made Slate’s time recovering more enjoyable and set him on a new and completely different path from his former interests.

Slate has kept a secret from everyone, a teenage daughter who he is desperate to form a proper relationship with. I liked the way this played out and I liked how open she was to Slate and Derrick’s relationship and how that made her look at her dad in a new and better way.

A really enjoyable romance and I’ll be cheering this couple on, as I have for all the couples so far. I hope there is another book in this series to look forward to.

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

 

New Release Book Review: Bound by Silence by Suzanne Cass

Bound by SilenceBound by Silence by Suzanne Cass is book #2 in the Island Bound series and while it can be read as a standalone, the two main characters, Sierra and Reed, from book #1 Bound by Truth, play a pretty big role in this novel and they will continue into the next, so I’d advise you to read book #1 first, saying that, you won’t be lost if you don’t but the first book was really good and lays some of the backgrounds for our characters.

In Bound by Silence, we meet Keira, who is living in Hawaii and who witnesses a crime, watches her house be consumed by lava and is now on the run from some seriously bad guys. I kept changing my opinion of Keira, I liked her, then I thought she was a spoiled brat, followed by feeling terribly sorry for what she’d been through with her husband and being able to understand where some of her behaviours and thoughts come from, then liking her again. I wanted her to show some of the mettle she’d shown at the beginning of the story when she starts out on the run, but now and again she slipped into complete victim mode, which annoyed me. But at the same time, she’d lived through a lot and now her life was in danger, she was allowed to act like a victim for a while.

The things that Keira went through with her husband were quite hard to read about, she suffered terrible emotional abuse at his and others’ hands and that made her trust no one, while at the same time feeling that she was worth nothing. It is hard to fathom how people can blame themselves so completely for the way other people treat them when it is those people who are to blame.

I really liked Dalton, a bounty hunter, who inadvertently ends up rescuing Keira and becomes a target for the bad guys too. He struggled with what was right, morally and by the law, but chose to believe Keira and keep her safe while finding a way to prove she is innocent of a crime she’s been set up for in order to flush her out.

Keira’s sister Sierra and her now fiance Reed turn up in Hawaii as all this is going down, and using their skills as journalist and police officer, they go about tracking down evidence to help clear Keira’s name and prove who the bad guys really are.

There are some pretty hairy moments throughout this novel, where things could go either way for all four of our good guys, and there is a surprising twist, proving you don’t always know the people you think you do.

I did enjoy the chemistry between Dalton and Keira and I liked how much restraint and respect Dalton showed towards Keira. Some of the banter was fun too.

An enjoyable sequel in this series, I look forward to book three when Keira and Sierra go looking for their brother who seems to have disappeared.

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

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#AWW2020 9/50