New Release Book Review: Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard

IMG_20191024_203440I’m feeling extremely emotional as I’m writing this review, I’ve just finished Invisible Boys and what an incredible novel it was. From the beginning Charlie, Zeke and Hammer grabbed hold of my heart and wouldn’t let go. I read 70% of this novel in one sitting; I was up until 1.30am and the only reason I put it down was because I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I picked it straight up again 5 hours later and was mightily upset that I had to go to work without finishing it. It stayed in my mind all day, I couldn’t wait to get home to finish the journey these 3 guys had taken me on.

I think this is an important novel that everyone should read, gay or straight, old or young. I’m glad Holden Sheppard survived his journey to write this novel, I hope it helps give a voice to those who feel like they don’t have one – the Invisible ones.

This is a coming of age story, a coming-out story, a story of discovering who you are, or at least the start of discovering who you are.

It brings with it so many emotions, good and bad. It made me angry and disappointed at the adults who should have known better, especially the parents who should have supported their children regardless of their sexuality. It made me mad at the kids who were so cruel to Charlie, especially his so-called two best friends and bandmates. It made me hopeful when some of the kids stood up for and by Charlie. It made me sad that one or more of the characters couldn’t accept who he was. But it ended with hope.

I really felt for Charlie who is ‘outed’ by an unhappy and vicious woman, but his outing is the catalyst for everything that happens to Zeke and Hammer and Matt. Whilst Charlie, Zeke, and Hammer held me hostage to their story, it was Matt, in the end, that made me cry.

The parents, school staff and the people in this small town didn’t deserve these young men. They were small-minded, ignorant and bigoted, not all, but most and I will never understand this mentality. I consider myself lucky in that when I was growing up, being gay was never an issue. I don’t remember hearing any derogatory remarks about homosexuality and in this way, I formed no biases in my thinking. I’ve never thought that there was anything wrong or strange in any way about people who are gay and for this I’m thankful as I have some wonderful friends who I may have missed out on and my life would be lacking because of it.

I’ve gone off tangent slightly, but this novel really brings it home how awful and ignorant people can be and how we really need to be open to accepting people for who they are. We also need to  educate those who are in need of educating.

A wonderful novel that I recommend to everyone, I can see why this won the Hungerford Award.

 

Amazon AU        Amazon US       Amazon UK        Fremantle Press        Facebook

New Release Book Review: Christmas With The Firefighter by Clare Connelly

Christmas with the firefighterThis is my latest read of Clare Connelly’s and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A sweet romance set in a small town. I really liked the main characters; Ally (Amy) who is searching for her long lost dad, Luke our firefighter who is also the town handyman and single dad to Stella who is just delightful.

Ally has trust issues, which is understandable due to her dad leaving when she was a kid, but her trust issues cause problems with Luke when he discovers she’s been keeping things from him. She changes her name whilst in town looking for her dad and I didn’t really understand why as no one there would have known who she was. But people do crazy things when they are acting emotionally.

I thought Luke was a great dad, and I liked the way he was willing to take a chance on Ally despite knowing it probably wasn’t a good idea. Luke’s brother-in-law wasn’t a favourite character, I kind of understood where he was coming from in his initial dislike of Ally, but I’d have thought being Luke’s best friend as well he’d have wanted his mate to be happy after being along for 6 years.

I thought Clare handled the meeting between Clare and her dad well and really got how a person would feel after being deserted by someone she loved so much when she was young; I know these feelings certainly resonated with my own.

I really enjoyed the dynamics between Ally and Luke and the way the relationship developed despite both of them having issues and doubts.

A lovely romance read

Goodreads         Amazon AU          Amazon US         Amazon UK         Facebook

Book Review: This Red Earth by Kim Kelly

I first read This Red Earth back in 2017 and it was a definite 5-star read. I always like to have an audiobook going in the car, so when I saw Kim Kelly’s books were available on my library app, I thought it was time to revisit her stories. I’m very fussy about my narrators, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this in the past, but the two narrators for This Red Earth did an absolutely fabulous job of capturing the characters of Gordon (Gordie) and Bernadette (Bernie).

 

This Red Earth is a fabulous story full of love, drama, intrigue, and the beautiful and hard land that is Australia. I fell in love with the characters in this story the first time I read it, and I fell in love with them again whilst listening to it this go-round. I lived through the good, the bad and the terrible times with them as if I were there. Once again Kim Kelly draws us in and lets us live the history of this land and its people.

We travel through the outback of NSW to sheep stations where we meet some wonderful characters and learn how important community and the CWA were in those times. We travel to New Guinea with Gordie who goes there to do a job drilling for petroleum and gets caught up in the Japanese invasion during the Second World War. I know very little about this time, but Kim Kelly picked me up and plonked me on this island in the middle of chaos, it was a terrible time, the whole World War two and all wars before and after were terrible and it’s a sad thing that nothing has ever really been learnt from it when it comes to the people in power.

Another aspect of Australian history I know little about is the incarceration of immigrants during the war. I am astonished, (well actually, I’m not, because the same thing happens today on a much larger and more terrible scale with asylum seekers and the Australian government), at the way people who had been living a peaceful life, who had come to Australia to start a new life, often because of persecution in their own country, were thrown in concentration prisons as enemies of the country.

Bernie and Gordie were strong characters who fought for the rights of others and for themselves. Their relationship was one that endured so many bumps (often mountains, not bumps), and I was fearful at times that one or the other of them might not make it through.

This is an emotional read, but an inspiring read of courage and hope and perseverance.

I highly recommend this novel and can’t wait to read or listen another Kim Kelly story.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Facebook

Goodreads

Book Review: Heart of the Cross by Emily Madden

This was such an enjoyable novel. Set through the years from the 1950s where we meet Rosie, then in 1984 when we meet Rosie again along with her daughter Maggie, then to Brie’s journey in 2017. We slowly uncover the life of Rosie, who immigrated from Ireland hoping for a good life with her husband, and who ends up in King’s Cross with a small child and a man she no longer recognises.

Heart of the CrossThe three timelines were all very different, and I loved the way Emily Madden was able to weave them all together to create a story full of emotion and intrigue, right up to the very last page.

I think Rosie’s life in the 1950s was my favourite, living the trials that Rosie faced in a new country where nothing turned out the way she expected, was at times heartbreaking and hard to read, but there was a strength in Rosie that was awoken due to her circumstances and showed just what the human spirit is capable of. The friendships Rosie cultivated in Kings Cross were ones that had an impact on the rest of her life, as she had impacted those in return.

Brie’s life as a photographer, travelling the globe chasing disasters was very different from Rosie’s life, where Rosie drew people to her, Brie pushed people away, never wanting to get close. When Rosie passes and Brie returns to Australia there are many surprises in store for her as she uncovers some incredible secrets that Rosie has kept from her her whole life, including that of her mother, Maggie, and her unknown father. I thought the way Brie changed after coming home, how she made new friendships and reignited old ones was affirming in that we are never too old or too set in our ways to not be able to make connections.

As the secrets were uncovered, and the book neared the end, I began to wonder how on earth it was all going to end, there were a fair few times I had to put the book down and take some breaths (I drove my mother insane with my comments of “oh my god” every 5 minutes, as she was reading this at the same time and didn’t appreciate my dramatics, making her wonder what on earth was happening, lol). I was kept guessing right to the end just how it was all going to come together and how it was all going to turn out, I do admit to wanting just a fraction more at the end, I really wanted to know what happened next, and sat there in stunned silence when the story ended.

A fabulous read that I highly recommend.

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

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

HarperCollins Australia

 

Book Review: Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley

I absolutely loved this novel, this was my second time reading it and it was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it just over 2 years ago. The first in the Daughters of the Outback series, this is a fabulous introduction to the Paterson family, Willow, Free, and Beth, along with their dad Barry. We are also introduced to Tom Forrest and his family along with the farming properties they live for in the heart of the Kimberley.

IMG_20191004_191752My second read of this novel was fraught with stress. You’d think the fact I’ve already read it and know how it all ends, that it would have been an easy read. But no! Because I knew how absolutely awful one character was, it caused me no end of anxiety. I wanted to yell at Banjo (Willow) and say ‘beware, don’t trust him one little teeny tiny bit!’ Alas, she just wouldn’t listen and I just had to keep reading.

Dear Banjo is so much more than a romance, it explores many aspects of friendship and family, grief and how it impacts those affected for way longer than we’d imagine.

It explores many aspects of farming, especially ethical and sustainable farming, delving into the changes needed to take a farm to organic certification and ways to help protect the environment. I found these things most interesting.

I loved the dynamics between all the characters; I loved all of the characters except for Hegney the assistant manager who had no likeable qualities whatsoever after his initial introduction. Hegney is the epitome of all that needs to change in men’s attitudes especially towards women and those they deem less than them. Working on the mines for 13 years I came across many men like Hegney, but luckily there are many more men who aren’t like him.

I really loved how Willow grew throughout the story, both as the boss at Paterson Downs and in her relationships with her family, friends and of course with Tom. I appreciated the intrigue that ran through the story and the many dynamics of relationships throughout the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Willow and Tom and though I knew the ending from the first read, I had completely forgotten the details of how they got there, and it was definitely a journey for them both.

I highly recommend this great book and now I’m about to start book 2 True Blue which is Willow’s sister Free’s story.

Goodreads

Amazon AU

 

Book Bingo Round 20

I’m a bit late with my book Bingo post this fortnight as I was away down at Margaret River from last Wednesday at a creativity retreat and was sick for nearly a week before that so I wasn’t able to plan ahead. Slack I know, but these things happen.

So this fortnight I chose the square Themes of Culture. And I picked the book The Kabul Peace House by Mark Isaacs. This is a story of hope and resilience in Afghanistan, a country constantly under siege from within and without.

This was an eye opening read which caused many emotions from sadness, anger, joy, hope, disbelief and much more. One man trying to make a difference, to bring about peace through drawing together young people from the different Afghan ethnic groups and having them work and live together, to recognise their sameness rather than their differences. It is written wih a mix of observations, dialogues with many of the young people and Insaan, the man making this possible, along with facts and figures that really make you wonder what our world is coming to.

Until next fortnight (I will be on time next time) happy reading.

New Release Book Review: Autumn at Blaxland Falls by Eliza Bennetts

Screenshot_20190904_212659After reading Summer at Urchin’s Bluff and absolutely loving it, I jumped at the chance to read Autumn at Blaxland Falls. And how glad I am that I did, it was another wonderful read. Eliza Bennetts focuses on slightly older characters, women and men in their 40’s, single mums who are making a life for themselves and their child, who are learning who they are, what they want and how strong they can be when they need to be.

I loved meeting Jo and her daughter Sasha who have travelled from Urchin’s Bluff to Jo’s home town Blaxland Falls, a town she never wanted to return to, because of a job offer too good to pass up. Jo is a strong character, she’s completely relatable in that she’s strong because she’s had to be, she’s struggling with some huge traumatic secrets that have driven her for the last 16 years.

We meet Christian, who I initially couldn’t take to, a millionaire property tycoon who owns the lodge Jo is working at. But it wasn’t long before I could see he was just a man struggling with his own issues and dramas and I fell for him as hard as Jo.

Sasha was a great kid, well-grounded with all the normal teenage issues that go with moving to a new place and she is also going to have a lot to deal with throughout this story.

Jo’s mum is quite a character and not at all likeable to me to start with, but she was a character that grew on me and by the end, I thought she was great.

I loved Jo’s best friend Dee who helped Jo get the job and has been Jo’s rock throughout the years. I really related to Dee, 40 and single, with no kids, her job is her big focus, maybe not because she chose it to be that way, but because that’s the way the dice rolled.

Now we have Blake, a highly unlikeable character, Jo’s ex and the reason she left Blaxland Falls years before. Man, this guy should have been thrown off the falls. You can only hope as you read that he gets what he deserves.

This was a great read, I didn’t want to put it down because I became so caught up in the lives of these characters. A story of family, friendship, love and being true to yourself. The next book will be Dee’s story, and I can’t wait.

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

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

 

 

New Release Book Review: Matters of the Heart by Fiona Palmer

IMG_20190824_150130A true Aussie rural retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I have to admit to having never read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I vaguely recall watching an adaptation years ago, but can’t honestly recall the story, though I have a vague gist of how it goes, along with the many Mr Darcy memes that are floating around.

I absolutely loved this novel, it was witty and fun, full of family and friendship and rural life. It’s been a long while since I picked up a book in the afternoon and refused to do anything other than read until I finished it, this book broke that drought.

The majority of characters in this book were so likeable and easy to relate to, it felt like I’d known them all for ages. I loved the Bennett family, especially Lizzie, our main character. She was headstrong and determined, she loved her family and her family farm and didn’t like being underestimated. Lizzie’s dad John was another favourite from the Bennett family, a wonderfully supportive dad, who had total faith in Lizzie and her ability as a farmer. I enjoyed the way he was portrayed and his reactions to his often overbearing wife brought a smile to my face.

Lizzie’s sisters and her friend Lottie were great support characters, especially Jane whose relationship with Charlie brings Will Darcy into Lizzie’s radar. These two clash completely, but maybe if they both keep an open mind, they might not have to be enemies. I really liked Will, a lot, I could just tell that underneath his snobbish exterior, there had to be more than met the eye.

There are of course the unlikeable characters, there were two of these, one very nasty female who thought she was all that when she really wasn’t and one slimy cowboy, who thought the same about himself. These two characters separately cause plenty of anxiety and issues between our characters.

This was a really heartwarming tale about being true to who you are and taking a risk on love.

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

Released 27/8/19

Buy Links

Hachette Australia

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

Release Day Book Review: Lone Star Defender by Jennie Jones

The last book in the Calamity Valley series sees the third sister Pepper have her chance at finding Mr Right and breaking the family curse for good. Except Pepper isn’t interested in finding Mr Right. Along with Mr Right and breaking a curse, Pepper has to save her town from completely dying out.

Screenshot_20190729_163343I enjoyed this final book in the trilogy, it can be read alone, I’ve only read books two and three, book one is still waiting quietly in the Kindle vault and I was able to grasp what was going on, I think it would flow better if you did read the series as it is written though and it’s such an enjoyable series, romance with a touch of Paranormal, that why wouldn’t you want to read them all.

Pepper is a headstrong character who doesn’t always think before she speaks, with so many things placed on her shoulders, she seems to do it a lot, getting herself into strife more than once.

Her old friend Jack, and the person who has been tasked with keeping her safe, is a lovely guy, who has mixed emotions about Pepper.

Both are in denial of the things they really want, there’s some unspoken secrets and conversations from the past that should have been worked out years ago, but are now continuing to cause issues for Pepper, Jack and some family members.

Once again the bad developer guys are back and causing plenty of trouble for Pepper and the townsfolk.

There was plenty of humour in this novel and I enjoyed once again the paranormal tilt to the story.

It seems a shame to say goodbye to Calamity Valley, but at least all three towns are in good hands.

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

Purchase:

Tule Publishing

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Kobo

Apple ibooks

Contact Jennie Jones to order a paperback copy on Facebook

 

 

 

 

New Release Book Review: Home For June by Juliet Madison

I absolutely loved this lovely second chance romance. I have all of Juliet’s books and I’ve loved every one that I’ve read. I have all the Tarrin’s Bay books, but for some reason I haven’t gotten round to reading any before now. Home For June was absolutely enjoyable, so I’m going to have to go back to The January Wish and start from the beginning of the series. They are definitely able to be read as standalone novels though.

Screenshot_20190709_115504I’ m glad I have finally gotten to experience Tarrin’s Bay, I think I’d like to move there in fact.

In Home For June we meet Hannah who is making moves to leave Tarrin’s Bay to live in Sydney (big mistake, I hate cities). We also meet Luca who is returning to Tarrin’s Bay after leaving 20 years beforehand. These two were friends in high-school and had a connection but nothing ever happened. Is it too late now or can they find out where that connection might lead.

I loved these two characters, Hannah and her plans, her need to have everything laid out exactly as it’s going to play out. I enjoyed the times she let go and was spontaneous. But afterwards it was straight back to following the plan.

FB_IMG_1561986491192

This is my favourite line and I’m lucky Juliet made a meme just for me to use (lol). Hannah was so stubborn about veering off the plan, I so hoped she could see what might be had by doing just that.

Luca was a beautiful guy, having lost his mum just recently and having made the decision to start a new and set down roots in Tarrin’s Bay, I loved the way he threw some disorder into Hannah’s carefully laid out plans.

I really enjoyed the interactions between these two characters, I liked how the relationship grew and changed and made them both take stock. Working together to create Luca’s dream restaurant pushed them together and allowed for these changes.

I enjoyed the secondary characters, Hannah’s parents especially, they were great people and cause for some added humour. Luca’s brother Stefan had a great relationship with Luca, if only all siblings could have such a great relationship.

Juliet Madison always manages to infuse her novels with humour and this one is no exception. Her characters are relatable, as are their problems and circumstances. A lovely feelgood romance.

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

Amazon AU

Amazon US

HarperCollins