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: 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.

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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

#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.

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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

New Release Book Review & Release Blitz: The Rich Boy by Kylie Scott

TheRichBoy EBOOK (1)I’m a fan of Kylie Scott’s romance novels, they are all very different and you never know what you are going to get with each new book. This time she gives us a leading man, Beck who is a very likable busboy when we meet him, only he isn’t quite who he is pretending to be. He expresses an interest in Alice, a waitress at the bar where he is working. She’s a very down to earth girl who is exactly who she seems to be, and I think that is a big part of Beck’s attraction to her.

I’m not a big fan of the billionaire trope, but this is different from some of the other books I’ve read.

Alice, after going against her initial doubt about trusting Beck, falls hard and is drawn into the world he has been running from, knowing nothing about what she is about to encounter. It turns out Beck is rich, very rich, and now Alice is under the microscope of Beck’s family members.

I thought that Alice, despite initially thinking she wasn’t the right kind of girl for Beck, shows how strong she really is and how she believes in who she is and is unwilling to change too much because of this rich family’s expectations. I really liked the way she stood up to Beck when different things came to light throughout the story, I liked that she stood her ground and made him reassess what it was he wanted and who he wanted to be.

Beck was lovely, but growing up in his messed up family has left him emotionally stunted and he has no real idea what will make someone like Alice happy. If you’ve always seen money as a way of buying the people around you, you would find it hard to understand what drives a normal everyday person.

I enjoyed watching all the family relationships change, mainly due to Alice’s influence on those around her. I especially liked how she got the better of Beck’s evil old grandmother. While Alice and Beck’s relationship wasn’t an easy ride, it was an enjoyable one, there were moments I thought, she should let him loose, but was glad that she didn’t in the end.

Thanks to Social Butterfly Pr for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

About the book:

“Rich Boy takes you on a literal ride! Funny. Angsty. It’s a definite recommendation from me!  –   Tijan, New York Times bestselling author

The Rich Boy, an all-new slow-burn standalone with white-hot chemistry and witty banter from New York Times bestselling author Kylie Scott, is out now!

I’m the type of girl who’s given up on fairy tales. So when Beck – the hot new busboy at work – starts flirting with me, I know better than to get my hopes up. Happily ever afters aren’t for the average. I learned that the hard way.

But how can I be expected to resist a man who can quote Austen, loves making me laugh, and seems to be everything hot and good in this world?

Only there’s so much more to him than that.

Billionaire playboy? Check.

Troubled soul? Check.

The owner of my heart, the man I’ve moved halfway across the country to be with, who’s laying the world at my feet in order to convince me to never leave? Check. Check. Check.

But nobody does complicated like the one percent.

This is not your everyday rags-to-riches, knight-in-shining armor whisking the poor girl off her feet kind of story. No, this is much messier.

Download your copy today!

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Kylie Scott author picAbout Kylie

Kylie is a New York Times and USA Today best-selling author. She was voted Australian Romance Writer of the year, 2013, 2014 & 2018, by the Australian Romance Writer’s Association and her books have been translated into eleven different languages. She is a long time fan of romance, rock music, and B-grade horror films. Based in Queensland, Australia with her two children and husband, she reads, writes and never dithers around on the internet.

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#AWW2020   14/50

New Release Book Review: Going Home by Carole Brungar

New Zealand author Carole Brungar is able to write of an incredibly terrible time, the Vietnam War, in a very emotive and realistic way. I can always see myself there during those terrible times, whether in the jungle with the soldiers, in the helicopter flying into dangerous situations or at the hospital tending the children with horrific injuries. I can smell the smell and hear the sounds of everything that is going on during these chaotic and dangerous times.

Screenshot_20200305_102306This book, the third in the Return to Nam series, stories about the Vietnam War and the NZ soldiers, nurses, photographers and entertainers, who went there without knowing what the were flying into, takes us out of the jungle and into the town, where Ronnie has signed up to do a stint (12 months) as a nurse.

When New Zealander Ronnie arrives she has a naivety about her, but she is a strong and determined young woman, whose strength and determination get her through everything that happens during her time there. She works tirelessly for these children and instigates many changes to the ward to help with the healing of these children who have been caught up in the middle of this war.

Ronnie meets American pilot Joseph who is on his second tour of duty, they hit it off straight away despite Ronnie believing that nothing can come from having a relationship during a war. Joseph is a strong and happy character who lives for the thrill of going into dangerous situations.

I really enjoyed the relationship these two built between them and I loved Joe’s perseverance when chasing Ronnie and trying to get her to want more.  I could see things from both characters POV, it isn’t really a great time or place to fall in love, but at the same time, what if this is their only time and place in which it can happen, the future certainly was not guaranteed for anyone.

There were several very tense times throughout this novel when danger showed it’s head and not always from where you were expecting it. There were a few tears and some moments of joy and many many times where I thought, there is no way I would have survived what these guys have been through.

The cast of supporting characters was great to meet and I really enjoyed the small appearances from characters from the previous two novels The Nam Legacy and The Nam Shadow. I really look forward to whatever Carole Brungar brings us next. If you are interested in a novel about relationships and the Vietnam War, then I highly recommend this novel and the previous two novels in the series.

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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: 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