New Release book Review: The Good Woman of Renmark by Darry Fraser

IMG_20191113_183424Within the first couple of pages, Darry Fraser managed to transport me, once again, to another time and place, and there I stayed for the whole novel. It is 1895 in Renmark, South Australia, and a tough young woman has just defended herself and her friend from a rapist. Fearing repercussion she is now on the run for her life and her freedom.

What a time to live in, where women have a lot fewer rights than men and a man’s word will always mean more than that of a woman’s. Maggie doesn’t think this is fair at all and refuses to live her life being a slave to a man and popping out babies (I so agree with her!).

I really liked Maggie, she was stubborn, tough, opinionated and determined, all things women in that time, and this need to get by (though at times she was too stubborn). I loved Sam, talk about loyal, what a fabulous friend to have in times like this. Sam was so in love with Maggie, throughout I just kept hoping Maggie would see that Sam wasn’t the kind of guy to make her give up her independence and give in to her feelings for him.

This was a great journey down the Murray River, seeing how others in that time lived and struggled to make ends meet. The horrible characters from Renmark, it turns out there is one more than we originally think, are not nice people at all, not in behaviour or morally and there were moments I wished that Maggie had truly finished the job she started when she defended herself and her friend.

This was another great read by Darry Fraser and I truly love being transported to the late 1800s in her writing, I also am truly glad I don’t live in those times.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for a copy in return for an honest review.

Goodreads            HarperCollins Australia              Amazon AU         Amazon US

  Amazon UK               Author Website          Facebook

Book Review: The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

IMG_20191103_171448I bought this book when it first came out which is over a year ago now, I got just over a quarter of the way through but was getting annoyed with one of the main characters and obviously wasn’t in the mood for being annoyed because I put it down with the intention of picking it back up down the track, but it never happened. Luckily my friend has just started a bookclub and she chose The Art of Friendship as the first book our group needed to read, which gave me the opportunity to pick it back up. I started from the beginning as it had been so long between reads. And what a great novel it was, I still didn’t like Libby, the main character who annoyed me the first go-round, but this time I was in the right headspace to be able to deal with that.

This novel really does explore the many aspects of friendship, old friendships, new friendships, long-distance friendships, colleague friendships, friendships you make because you belong to the same group or because your kids go to school together, and the way they survive or don’t survive. It really made me think about the friendships I’ve had over the years and the ones I have now, those that are just a few likes on Facebook and those that interact, those I catch up with or chat to regularly and those that I might only have contact with now and again, but I know they are there for me if I ever need them. Not many of my friendships from childhood or even highschool have survived the test of time, (not past Fb anyway), which is kind of sad in a way but also made me wonder about those past friendships and why they died.

As I said, I didn’t like Libby, one of the two main characters, I found her need to please everyone, to make people think she was something she wasn’t, (to make herself be something she wasn’t), to be very annoying, I’ve never been one to pretend or to ‘keep up with the  Jones’, so I always find people like this very false. As the story progressed and you get an idea of why she is how she is, I still didn’t take to her, but despite that, I enjoyed the novel this time around.

Kit, on the other hand I liked a lot, yes she did make some questionable decisions and they both had a hand in making their friendship one that wasn’t wholly based on truth and honesty, but she was still more real and likeable than Libby.

I liked the way Lisa Ireland drew out the secondary characters backstories and how we think we know one thing about them but it turns out to be something completely different, I especially liked that in reference to Libby’s husband.

With Libby’s son, we get to explore, bullying, mental health, and healthy parenting and some of the outcomes are unexpected. Lisa Ireland has done a great job of bringing these important aspects to life and giving you something to think about.

Spousal abuse is yet another theme that comes up in this novel, why and how people let it happen and how they are able to hide it, also, how friends and colleagues miss or justify signs that it is happening. It isn’t a straightforward topic and there isn’t always a way out or a right way of dealing with it.

Lisa explores so many themes in this novel and she does it so well. A really great story that I’m glad I finally got around to finishing.

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.

Author Facebook         Website

Amazon AU            Amazon US            Amazon Uk

 

Book Review: Making Her Mark by Renee Dahlia

making her markI read Merindah Park (Book 1 Merindah Park) back in April and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to revisit the Bassett family and the world of horseracing. Book 2 Making Her Mark is Rachel’s story, Rachel is a female jockey who has to fight for every ride due to ongoing sexism within the racing industry. This is an industry where things are improving and as Renee explains, one of the few where male and female riders are considered equal on the field, just not always with owners and trainers.

Rachel has many emotional issues to deal with throughout this novel, some present issues and some from when she was 16 back in her hometown that she’s never really dealt with, but to move forward, she will have to do just that. Rachel’s sexuality is part of the issue she has never dealt with, and while she completely accepts who she is now, there’s part of her that can’t get over the way she was treated as a teenager by small-town minds.

Rachel reconnects with an old school friend Allira and her brother Jacob, and the sparks fly between Rachel and Jacob immediately. Jacob is an AFL player who is hot, strong and stubborn. Both fight the connection they feel towards each other until they can’t fight it anymore. It is definitely not a smooth journey to happiness for these two and there are plenty of ups, downs, misunderstandings, and changing of minds (especially on Rachel’s part). The journey may not be smooth, but it is most definitely hot and steamy.

There is an element of intrigue in this storyline with a potential punting scheme that Jacob asks Rachel to look into on behalf of his teammates. Once again Renee Dahlia does a great job of educating me about the ins and outs of the horse racing industry and I have great respect for the work that jockey’s put into their career.

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

Escape Publishing

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads

Facebook

 

 

Book Review: The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly

When I first read this novel two years ago, it was not my normal choice of reading, but after reading Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly and loving it, I just had to read another Kim Kelly book. This had me up until 2 am 3 nights in a row, just one more chapter and 4 hours later with the words blurring I was reluctantly putting it down.

The Blue MileAs part of my driving ritual, I decided to try the audio version of The Blue Mile after enjoying the audio version of This Red Earth, I was keen to hear this story. The narrators were good, Eoghan’s narrator was perfect, while Olivia’s not so perfect, for me anyway, because having already read it, I had a certain voice for her in my head; I grew used to the narrator though and enjoyed the reading of this novel.

Olivia, Eoghan (Yo), and Agnes were such wonderful characters. I loved little Agnes’ ability to see magic all around her. I love the descriptive way that Kim uses to describe the people and the places in her novels. The use of clothing and clothing design was a new take on things for me and I really enjoyed it, they were like a character all by themselves. The secondary characters were also wonderfully portrayed, some were wonderful people, some not so wonderful, all necessary to the telling of this tale. 

Set in 1929 in Sydney during the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Great Depression. I learnt much about the history of the building of The Sydney Harbour Bridge (I’m glad I didn’t have to work up there, I’d have been terrified, mind you Eoghan wasn’t exactly thrilled either) and the politics at that time were also very interesting, I learnt a lot about the labour laws of the time. I love learning about the history of our country and getting an insight into how people got by. The unemployment situation then was just terrible and the violence that occurred would have been extremely terrifying to have been witness to. 

This second ‘reading’ of The Blue Mile was just as enjoyable as the first and I loved meeting these characters for a second time.

A fabulous story I can’t wait to read or listen to another Kim Kelly novel

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Facebook

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