20Backlistin2020 book review: Out of Luck by Kendall Talbot

Out of LuckOh my god, this book has sat on my digital shelf for 11 months, I am so glad I finally got to it because it was an action-packed read that kept me guessing until the end.

When Charlene’s father is murdered in front of her it is the catalyst that sets of a series of events that after a while she has no control over, as secrets and lies begin to come unravelled, Charlene throws herself into the path of danger.

While I couldn’t even begin to imagine running off to Cuba to hunt down my past, that is exactly what Charlene does. Her only saving grace is that she is lucky enough to have landed sexy ex-naval officer Marshall as her skipper to get her across from the US to Cuba, an illegal and potentially dangerous journey in itself.

These two have an instant connection, but both fight it as they have their own agendas and their own personal issues to deal with.

Charlene was one tough young woman, her father had given her lots of training over the years, and this is the only thing that kept her alive. While I thought some (most) of her decisions were really not the best idea, she was running completely on her emotions and to her, they seemed to be the only decisions to make.

While Marshall is determined not to care about Charlene, when she doesn’t make the rendezvous, he is, of course, determined to try and save her.

There is plenty of action, suspense, and chemistry in this fast-paced romantic suspense novel and I am going to try and hunt down the first book in the Maximum Exposure series. I remember reading and enjoying book 2 Out of Mind but it looks like these are being rereleased, so I might have to wait to read book 1 Out of Reach.

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

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  25/50

 

Book Review Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Saving MissyI read this as a group read-along, it had been sitting on my kindle for a while, but this was the kick I needed to pick it up. We read it in 4 parts over 2 weeks, which is a lot slower than I would normally take to read a book, but stopping after each part for a group discussion about the novel was actually a really interesting way of reading and opened up some very interesting discussion, as well as some conspiracy theories.

Saving Missy was an enjoyable read, though it took me until part 2 to really get into the book, up until then, I really wasn’t a big fan of Missy, so if you feel the same way, I advise you to persevere.

Missy has had a life that wasn’t what I would call a great one, she married ‘the love of her life’, but I really didn’t like her husband at all, he seemed to me, from what Missy tells us, to be a pretty self-centred man. She has two adult children, one whom she doesn’t have the best relationship with, and we explore this as the story progresses, and the other lives on the other side of the world, but it is him she dotes on.

Missy isn’t a very likable character when we first meet her, but I did feel very sorry for her, she was a lonely soul, who thought nobody would be interested in truly being her friend.

One day while on a walk in the park, she meets Angela and her son Otis, this is a catalyst for all that is about to happen in Missy’s life. She also meets Sylvie, who is a force to be reckoned with. Between the two of them, and Otis, along with a dog called Bobby, Missy learns all about what true friendship is and these friendships change MIssy in ways she never expected at her age.

There were a couple of mysteries of sorts, which meant I had to keep reading to find out what was what, and there was an unexpected reveal near the end of the novel which I wasn’t expecting.

This was an easy read and an interesting exploration of expectations, life choices, and friendships, as well as motherhood.

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

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I recently read this as a buddy read with Theresa Smith Writes over at Page by Page Book Club. This has been on my radar for ages, but a couple of weeks ago I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 deals at Dymocks. It seems like it was meant to be as a week or so later this was one of the options put forward for the buddy read.

The Night CircusI loved this book, the plan was to read it over a two week period. I started reading and at first thought, yes, this is a little different, but it wasn’t long before I was captured by this story and didn’t want to stop reading, by the end I didn’t want to leave this magical world behind. It was as the cover says ‘Breathtaking’, ‘Dazzling’, and ‘Enchanting’.

This book relies on you allowing your imagination to stretch to new heights, to truly immerse yourself in the world of The Night Circus. The imagery that Erin Morgenstern manages to convey is amazing, I can’t think of another book offhand that captures the imagination so completely.

The characters, the circus, and the concept were original and delightful. The blurb on the cover gives nothing much away, but ultimately it starts as a wager between two men of magical learning who use a young girl, Celia, and a young boy, Marco, to play out the competition with no idea what the rules or the ultimate goal is.

I can’t wait to read her new book The Starless Sea, which will be the next buddy read on the 16th of May.

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: 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: Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Aria's Travelling Book ShopOh, I simply loved this book, last year Rebecca Raisin released Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop which I absolutely loved too and it made me want to up and travel in my own van. In Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop we met Aria who became Rosie’s best friend and who has a travelling book shop called the Little Bookshop of Happy Ever After, which I absolutely love, isn’t that a fabulous name! Aria’s bookshop van is one of my dreams. We also met Max who has a green food van and is in love with Rosie (the feeling is quite mutual).

This time Aria, Rosie and Max are off to France to travel to the many different fairs and events. I absolutely adored my time travelling with these three and even though I haven’t been to the places they visit, Rebecca Raisin does such a good job of describing them, I could see myself there.

Aria is a widow and has sworn off love, she promised her husband TJ that she would never fall in love again. Aria has a connection with a man she met briefly the summer before, Jonathan, who pops back into her life just as she is leaving the UK. This sets Aria off on an emotional journey of discovering what it is she wants and needs in her life and is a promise she made to her dying husband one she should keep or does she need to move on to be happy. I could really feel how torn Aria was about her feelings towards TJ and towards Jonathan, add to that unresolved issues with her mother-in-law and Aria’s confusion is palpable.

I loved the character of Jonathan who keeps popping up in Aria’s life on her travels through France and I was so hoping Aria could come to terms with her situation and allow herself to fall in love again. There are several scenes between Jonathan and Aria that provided me with a good giggle, Aria’s character can be hilarious at times.

I kept saying I was going to put this book down as the clock ticked closer to 11pm, but in the end, I had to keep reading and discover how it all turned out.

There was of course, the unlikeable character, Tori, who I don’t remember from the first book, but I’m pretty sure if I did I would have disliked her just as much as I did in this book. She’s one of those people out to cause trouble for anyone who might have something she doesn’t.  

It was wonderful to reconnect with Rosie and Max again, I simply love their characters and I love the friendship they both have with Aria, they are each other’s family as well as best friends. The support they give each other throughout the story is completely real and their friendship provided me with lots of laughs, they are all such different kinds of characters but they work so well together. 

I absolutely invite you to take a journey with Aria and her friends and I really hope there is more to come from this group of van-lifers.

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

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FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020   24/50

 

 

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.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  21/50