Nonfiction Readers Challenge: Bowraville by Dan Box

Nonfictionchallenge2020

Screenshot_20200130_091042Since signing up to the Nonfiction Readers Challenge I’m inspired to read a few more nonfiction books this year. I chose to do the Nonfiction Nipper, which was to read 3 books from any category. I’ve got quite a few nonfiction books lined up to read this year, so I’m positive I’ll be able to move up to the next level.

My first book is something very different for me. Bowraville by Dan Box is a true crime novel, that is also, in my opinion part memoir.

I listened to the audiobook of this which is read by Dan Box, something I prefer when listening to a memoir as I think they can really get across the emotions and messages they are trying to convey.

This is just one terrible story of injustice that has happened in Australia and to the Aboriginal people. Three children murdered in a space of 5 months and now 29 years later their families have never had justice.

We hear about the officers who were first approached when each child went missing and how the families were told, “They’ve probably gone walkabout”. One of these children was 4 years old! I was disgusted by the behaviour of the police at the beginning of these events and then completely disbelieving of the way the cases were handled once they were deemed something more sinister. The local police, who were in no way up to handling a missing person case let alone a murder case, or serial murders, were given very little help from the authorities in the city.

Dan tells an interesting story that made me angry at the way aboriginal people were and are treated in the event of a crime. The racism in the town was just as disappointing and I’m baffled how people think the way they do.

Sometimes the story felt a bit repetitive, but I think that was Dan Box’s way of reiterating the injustice of these cases and the injustices of the law.

A worthwhile read if you are interested in true crime and the way the law doesn’t always work.

Book Review: Dead Again by Sandi Wallace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Review: Winter in Mason Valley by Eliza Bennetts

Winter in Mason ValleyThis is my final review for 2019 and what a great book to end a fabulous year of reading on.

I loved the first two books in this series and I really enjoyed catching up with Dee again after she left Urchin’s Bluff for a new job position to further her career.

I have to say it makes a nice change to be reading about women my own age making big decisions in their lives, whether it is a career, relocation or love or all three. It’s also nice to think that I’m not alone in still searching for the right job and the right man and also that not all women have to have had children to be content, though in this case, Dee gets a child as part of the package, maybe that’ll happen for me too, you just never know.

Starting her new job at the paper factory in Mason Valley Dee seems extremely off-kilter in her behaviour and it didn’t entirely endear her to me, though on further reflection, I’ve started jobs where the need to impress or make a stand straight away has made me behave slightly different to the way I normally would, though unfortunately never because the men I’m working with have blown my socks off, lucky Dee.

I wasn’t overly taken with Travis in the beginning either, his behaviour towards Dee to start with was annoying. The way he was with his mother and his daughter however, showed what a caring person he could be.

Both Dee and Travis’s characters grew on me as the story progressed and I was definitely hoping they could sort things out by the end.

I didn’t like creepy, smarmy Vince, the money man, who Dee has to work with and I seriously couldn’t understand how she didn’t pick up on his dodginess (is that a word) from the get-go, instead making excuses for his behaviour (I shudder when I think of him).

I enjoyed Dee and Travis’s undercover sting, I’ve always liked a Nancy Drew operation. What they uncover made me wonder how much of this sort of thing goes on every day and how often people get away with it or for how long. I can’t imagine ever being that dishonest or needing money that badly, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who fit one or the other of the criteria.

My favourite character was Annie, followed closely by Travis’s mum. Annie was an absolute delight and always brought a smile to my face.

A really enjoyable read, I look forward to Eliza Bennetts’ next book in the seasons series which is Spring at Lake Grange.

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

New Release Book Review – Last Bridge Before Home by Lily Malone

Last BridgeI loved the first two books in the Chalk Hill series, Water Under the Bridge and The Cafe by the Bridge and have been looking forward to Last Bridge Before Home. It certainly didn’t disappoint. Where The Cafe by the Bridge highlighted male depression and the need to ask for help, Last Bridge Before Home deals with another topical issue, domestic abuse.

Jaydah for all she comes across as a strong young woman is also an insecure young woman who has been physically and mentally abused for most of her life by her father who is an absolute bastard. It’s not just Jaydah who has been a victim to this vile excuse of a man, but also her mother and her sister Jasmine. Much of Jaydah’s life has been spent protecting them from her father and taking on responsibility for keeping them all safe. I can’t imagine living like Jaydah, being so afraid to tell anyone what is going on, keeping so many secrets all to herself, huge secrets that no one in the town of Chalk Hill has any idea about.

But is that really true? Well, one secret yes, but most people in Chalk Hill had an inkling that things weren’t exactly right with Jaydah’s father, but no one wanted to step up and ask questions, then afterwards they say ‘why didn’t you say something, why didn’t you tell us?’ way to pass the blame to the victim. This happens in real life all too often, no one wants to take responsibility for what might be going on behind closed doors, maybe we should start looking out for each other and asking the hard questions ‘Do you need help? Can I do anything? Is everything all right?’. Be there and let the people/person in question know that when they are ready, you are there, no judgement, just support.

Brix, what a lovely, loyal guy he was, and no pun intended, but what a ‘brick’ of a character he was. Jaydah has always been the love of his life and he has never given up hope that one day she will be his. Jaydah has kept her secrets even from Brix who thought he knew everything about her. I’m not sure how I would have coped if I found out all of my partners secrets and had to deal with all the issues that Brix does, but the way he took it all in his stride despite his worries about how he would deal with everything was fabulous and truly showed his love for Jaydah.

Another issue that Lily Malone deals with in this novel is the aspect of caring for someone with an intellectual disability and all it entails. She also delves into the dreams of people with a disability and what they can realistically expect when it comes to freedom of choice and their future. This is a hard topic as anyone who cares for or works with a person with disabilities can attest to. I work with people with disabilities and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have the responsibility for a person day in, day out, to make the hard choices, to explain why they can’t have everything they see others around them having. Dealing with the behaviours of people with intellectual disabilities is challenging and Lily Malone has done a great job with both her character portrayal and showing the good and the bad of living with such a challenge.

There were many tense moments in this novel, there were heartbreaking moments, moments of joy, moments I wanted to take one of Jaydah’s kali sticks and whack her father across the head for her, there were ups and downs and many wonderful moments threaded through this novel making it an absolute joy to read despite its darkness.

I hope we get to visit Chalk Hill again and see how the three brothers and their partners are going, along with their extended families.

Thanks to Harlequin Mira Australia and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: True Blue by Sasha Wasley

IMG_20191219_111731I absolutely loved this novel and I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf unread for so long. After reading Dear Banjo for the second time the other month, I knew I had to get to books 2 & 3 ASAP. True Blue was another fabulous story in the Daughter’s of the Outback series and this time we get to know Free (Freya), the more flighty of the sisters, except she’s not as flighty as her sisters have her believing.

I really loved getting to know Free, she’s an artist and I love the way she looks at life, always trying to see the best in people and experiences. I loved how she gets totally absorbed in her art; I am the same way, (maybe we are kindred spirits). There was a lot of humour in this story, and a lot of heart.

Free takes up an artists residency teaching position at the local high school and as nervous as she is, I loved the way she taught, maybe if I’d had a teacher like her I’d have pursued art earlier in life. She makes enemies early on, without meaning to, with a truly unlikeable character who is a  colleague at the school. What a nasty piece of work he turned out to be, even worse than my first impressions.

We also have the romance (of course), and what a lovely man Constable Finn Kelly is. It is a bit of a bumpy journey for these two to get together, plenty of misunderstandings and worrying about the future. I really enjoyed the chemistry and the interactions between Free and Finn, (I wish I could meet him myself, too bad he’s a fictional character).

We get to catch up with Banjo and Tom and see how they are going, we also get to know Beth a little more as it’s Beth who Free turns to a lot when she needs someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Beth could be pretty hard and pessimistic towards Free, but I think this stems from her own issues, (which I’m pretty sure we’ll find out more about in the next book Love Song, which is Beth’s story), but she’s still a supportive and protective big sister.

Running through the story is the issue of mining and the environment and the importance of fighting for our environments protection.

I think Free did a lot of growing in this story and came out much stronger and had way more belief in herself by the end of the story.

I highly recommend this novel and this series.

Book Review: In the Heat of the Night by Susanne Bellamy

In the heat of the nightThis is the second book I’ve read in the new Bindarra Creek series, I’ve read them out of order and though they do work well as standalones, I would recommend you read them in order. In the Heat of the Night is book #2 in the Bindarra Creek Reborn series and I loved it. Fire wasn’t the only thing burning in this novel, there were plenty of sparks between our two main characters Kel and Thalia.

I loved the strength and determination that Thalia had, she was also stubborn, caring and loved her family to bits. Kel is known as the town’s ladies man, a love them and leave them kind of guy, but Thalia may be about to change all that, completely blindsighting Kel. underneath Kel is much more than a ladies man, he’s captain of the fire station and a loving son to dad Keegan, who is going through some bad times.

Mixed in with this budding relationship are fires, a potential arsonist, an accident, grief, and food.

Food plays a big role in bringing these two together and helping to start the healing for Kel’s dad Keegan. I want to go out and try some Greek food myself after reading this, and I am by no means a foodie. Thalia’s Greek parents add an extra layer to this story with some added humour, especially her dad.

An important issue Susanne Bellamy brings up in this novel is one of thinking about our older generation of people and what happens to them when they reach retirement age, especially in the rural communities, what is there for these people (who have given so much) to do so that they continue to feel useful and have interests to make them want to keep going, especially for those who retirement isn’t an option they have chosen themselves.

I really liked how this relationship grew changing both characters as they learnt more about themselves and each other. A highly enjoyable read.

Thanks to the author and Booksprout for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Diamond in the Dust by Mel A Rowe

Diamond in the dustDiamond in the Dust is book 2 in the Elsie Creek series set in outback NT and was a highly enjoyable romance about two unlikely people. Mel A Rowe does a good job of describing the remote outback and its eclectic cast of characters.

I enjoyed meeting Verily, a world champion softballer, who has never before had to decide where her future is heading and what she wants, until an accident changes all that and takes away all she knew and all she lived for. I’ve changed my direction in life several times (maybe more), but mostly those redirections have been my choices, I can’t imagine having those choices taken from me, leaving me floundering to figure out where I was heading to now.

Verily has come to Elsie Creek to stay with her Aunt on her farm and is very lost, she a bit aloof and standoffish at first, especially when it comes to local boy Alex who is also living and working on her Aunt’s property, (their initial meeting doesn’t help matters).

Alex is a really great guy and is doing his best to start following his dreams, compared to Verily, he knows exactly what he wants, but his relationship with his dad is holding him back from going completely forward. 

I loved the friendship that slowly developed between Verily and Alex, slowly they pushed each other out of their comfort zone and helped each other figure out where they were heading. They both required a fair bit of pushing, especially Verily when it came to helping out the local softball team (there may have been some slightly underhanded dealings going on with getting her to face this issue).

Once again we are introduced to some interesting characters that make up the local softball team, some more likeable than others (ie. the coach, not really likeable). There’s a very unlikeable female character who plays slightly dirty in an attempt to get her way. Cecil the water buffalo is still roaming the streets of Elsie Creek, brightening everyone’s day just a little and causing trouble a little too.

I was definitely barracking for Verily and Alex to get their acts together and figure out their futures.

Thanks to Mel A Rowe for providing me with a copy of this novel.

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