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

Book Review: Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany

Call me LucyI really loved this novel, an Enemies to Lovers romance set around a cast of characters who are part of a linked series Stolen Hearts, with the next book Choosing Lillian coming out early March.

This novel, as the title suggests is about Lucy who has been in an accident and suffered some traumatic brain injury and has no idea who she is or where she comes from, but the saddest part is that no one has come forward to say she is theirs.

Lucy is lucky in one respect, she is assigned Lillian as her social worker and Lillian is completely about protecting Lucy after she herself has suffered a loss that we slowly uncover details about. Lillian sets Lucy up at her flat where her brother Billy is living and Billy is given the job as unwilling ‘babysitter’.

This was a really moving story, Lucy’s struggle to remember her identity, while at the same time being terrified of learning who she really is, was one that pulled at my heartstrings many times throughout the novel. The fact no one has come forward for her makes her feel that she must have no worth to anyone. Billy’s behaviour towards her when she first comes to stay reiterates this feeling of having no self-worth.

I actually really liked Billy despite his behaviour to begin with, you could see he was struggling with his own demons and that deep down he cared a lot. He especially cared about his sister Lillian and I really enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship.

Lucy meets a very unlikeable character in Tyler when she is revisiting the scene of her accident. From the get-go, I knew there was something off about Tyler and as the story progresses I could see why I disliked him. Tyler is all about emotional and psychological abuse. He plays Lucy from the start and whenever these two characters met, I got a horrible sense of foreboding. Rania Battany has done a great job of portraying both the mindset of the abuser and the effects this can have on the person being abused.

Lillian is working with a police officer Blake, the chemistry between these two is palpable and there is hope something might be stirring ready for the next book in the series.

There are a few other characters we meet who will be part of the series, Lillian and Billy’s mum Helen who comes across as a loving mother, loud and sure that food is the answer to any problem, characteristics that are often part of a Lebanese family. We also meet Gabby, their cousin who also is loud, outgoing and thinks food, especially pastries can cure anything. And we briefly catch up with Leila and Jacob who have their own novella Letters to Leila, which is set slightly before Call Me Lucy. I didn’t like Leila in the novella and her brief catch up in this novel didn’t change my mind about her, though I am glad Leila and Jacob are still together.

I really enjoyed Lucy and Billy’s growing friendship and relationship. I loved the way they both took tiny steps towards trusting each other, sometimes leading to more steps backward, but ultimately leading towards something real and strong that is worth pursuing. Billy really was just what Lucy needed in order to heal from her past and from her accident. Lucy is a tough person, at the same time as being completely vulnerable and I really loved her character.

This was a great read full of emotions and the mystery of finding out who Lucy really was.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   12/50

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

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.

New Release Book Review: The Sinful Scot by Maddison Michaels

The sinful scotFirstly HAPPY RELEASE DAY  to Maddison Michaels.

I am a big fan of Maddison Michaels’ Regency romances ever since reading her first book The Devilish Duke followed by The Elusive Earl,  so I was really looking forward to the newest book in the Saints and Scoundrels series, The Sinful Scot.

This was slightly different from the first two books in the series, dealing with a couple of serious subject matters, with domestic abuse being the main one. We meet our main character, Connie, not long after her abusive husband had beaten and threatened her just before she is due to go down to a party they are hosting. This sets the scene for what Connie has endured for the past 3 years and gives you an understanding of where she is coming from in her lack of trust in both herself and Alec, our hero.

Alec is a doctor and her childhood friend who she snubbed because he didn’t fit her mother’s idea of who she should associate with. Alec is a very lovely hero and just the kind of guy you would want to have your back when you are on the run from the law for supposedly killing your husband whilst also running for your life. As Alec and Connie attempt to uncover the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding while trying to clear her name, the chemistry between them starts to heat up. Unfortunately, they have both had their hearts broken and are both trying to be in complete denial about their feelings for each other.

As they learn more about themselves and each other, their interactions are often amusing, but just as often serious. I liked how Connie is forced to grow throughout the story, I enjoy a heroine who doesn’t need to be rescued,  and Connie, while needing help to be rescued to start, comes into her own as the story progresses and Alec recognises that they need to work together.

For me, this story started off slightly slow, but when it picked up the pace, it was nonstop action and intrigue as they both try to outrun the police, some unknown assailants, and Fergus, her husband’s brother in order to prove her innocence and save her from two possible terrible outcomes. There was a definite twist in the ending of the novel, the bad guy was definitely not anyone I could have even guessed at, always a good thing in a mystery. I do enjoy a book with a happy ending.

Another great read by Maddison Michaels, I recommend picking up the other two books in the series also.

With thanks to Maddison Michaels, Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228 #AWW2020 4/50

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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FB_IMG_1577105032228  #AWW2020 2/50

Book Review: Fleeting Moments by Rania Battany

I’ve finished my first book of the year and my first book in the #AWW2020 challenge and what a fabulous book to kick off the year.

IMG_20191219_111738I actually read this at the end of November, but I was having an issue with fatigue and wasn’t up to writing a review, I also had a thought in bed after reading it about why Maya, the main character annoyed me so much, but by morning it had flittered away. I thought it only fair to reread it so I could give it a proper review, and I’m glad I did. The thought that came to me after reading it the first time was, ‘Hmm I think the reason Maya annoys me so much is that in many ways I totally relate to her and she has many of the characteristics I don’t like so much in myself’, as is so often the case with things that annoy us about others.

Reading this for the second time, I could see so much of myself and some of my relationships, in Maya, it was so clear and confronting. Rania Battany says in her author’s note at the end of the book “I wanted to create a heroine that was flawed, and Maya is seriously flawed. I often read stories with strong, independent and powerful women, and while these characters may empower others, I can never relate. I wanted to create a character who had to fight her way back after loss, not only the loss of a loved one but the loss of connection with themselves and others – the loss of self-identity and relationships. Regardless of each personal journey, the struggle of fighting through a period of darkness is a universal one, and I believe Maya’s journey is one a lot of women will be able to identify with.”

Well, Ms Battany has certainly achieved this, at least as far as I’m concerned, I identified a great deal. Her author’s note really connected with me the first time I read it too. Reading Fleeting Moments for the second time, was even more satisfying in some ways than the first time, maybe because I knew how it ended and I was able to relax a little more, maybe because this time I knew why Maya annoyed me so much and because of this I had far more empathy for her this time around, just like I realise I need to have for myself.

Maya really is a great character, she is flawed and sees herself as different from others, unable to connect properly, unable to be understood, she deals with anger and hurt by withdrawing or getting angry (I feel like I’m talking about myself).

When the book starts we meet Michael, an asshole, and her longtime partner, things hit rock bottom for Maya soon after and we ride along with her for the fallout.

Then we meet Sam, (big sigh), what a gorgeous guy, (just the kind of guy I need) and maybe the kind of guy Maya needed. Sam is positive, easy-going, generous, kind and a great friend. I loved Sam and wondered why he persevered sometimes with Maya (hmm another insight into myself). I loved the relationship that Maya and Sam started to develop, the whole getting to know someone can be fraught with many challenges, especially if you are full of self-doubt.

Another element to the story is Maya’s grief at losing her father and how this has impacted just about every aspect of her life. We all deal with grief differently, there is no right or wrong way and sometimes it can be really messy. I am lucky and haven’t experienced grief like Maya, I’m not sure how I’d cope and hopefully, I won’t have to find out for a very long time, but I imagine it would be a very messy and mixed up time. Seeing how Maya had coped with this grief was heartbreaking, losing the one person she thought truly understood her, made other relationships tumble.  Maya’s relationships with her sister and her mother are difficult and I  lived alongside Maya while she worked through the issues she had with them, wondering if they could be repaired in any way. My heart really went out to all three of them, I could completely empathise with each character.

We also meet Amanda, who Maya works with and who extends to Maya a hand in friendship. Amanda, and what she is dealing with, is a reminder that we need to connect with others, that we need to see past what is there on the surface and get to know people and find out how they really are coping with life. Connections with others are so important and we can all gain so much from taking the time to get to know people on more than a surface level.

This is a story of loss, grief, hope, love, friendship and finding oneself amidst the chaos of this thing we call life. This is a story I am sure I will revisit again one day because Rania Battany certainly achieved her goal of writing a character I was able to identify with and one that would give me hope “that healing is possible no matter how deep the pain

Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review. Thanks also to the author for giving me so much to think about and work on in my own life.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228   #AWW2020 1/50