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.

Author’s Facebook                  Website               Goodreads

Amazon AU            Amazon US              Amazon UK

FB_IMG_1577105032228   #AWW2020 1/50

 

Cocktails with Claire: Q&A with Athena Daniels & Giveaway

The scream behind cover

Hi Athena thank you for joining us today to celebrate the release of your fabulous new novel.

Hi Claire Louisa! Thanks so much for the invitation. I am so excited to be here with you all.

Most importantly, what cocktail would you like to drink first up to celebrate your new novel?

FB_IMG_1554993245334Cocktails? What a great idea! Hmmm… How about a CONSENSUAL SEX ON THE BEACH – (Because Claire and Zach’s first sizzling sex scene was at the beach!)

INGREDIENTS

  • 40ml Tito’s Vodka
    15ml Peach Schnapps
    50ml Cranberry Juice
    50ml Orange Juice
  • Directions: Combine cold juice with Vodka and Schnapps, stir and enjoy. Little umbrella optional.

*Not my recipe*

I’ve ordered drinks for everyone! Enjoy 🙂

Can you tell us a bit about your new book The Scream Behind Her Smile?

Thank you for asking, I’d love to. The Scream Behind Her Smile is my sixth published full-length novel. It’s a 95K standalone, contemporary, romantic psychological thriller set in Perth, Western Australia.

Tagline: “A thrilling and emotionally gripping story of love, marriage, deception and… murder.” 

This is quite different from your Beyond the Grave series, where did the idea for this story come from? And how long did it take you to write it?

The Scream Behind Her Smile is a very different style of writing and genre from my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. The idea for the story was inspired by a series of actual events and the story grew into what it is today. I wrote part one of the book a couple of years ago but set it aside to finish and release book 4 in the Beyond the Grave series, When Darkness Follows.  

The antagonist, Derek, is an absolutely horrible person (in my opinion and in my words ‘he’s f**king nuts’), how did you go about writing his character and getting into his mindset and did you find it hard to do?

Lol! I agree. Derek is definitely not recommended husband material! I actually didn’t find it as hard writing Derek’s character as you might think because I enjoy writing villains and anti-hero’s in general. Not quite sure what that says about me!

I’ve encountered my fair share of chauvinistic behaviour throughout my life, so I tapped into the hurt, anger and frustration that arose from those experiences. I then added in a healthy dose of creative licence to make Derek’s true colours, when revealed, really ‘shine’! 🙂

Claire is a strong character dealing with a huge amount of grief, where did the inspiration or idea for her character come from?

Thank you. I loved writing Claire! Pieces of Claire’s story were also inspired from real events. In Australia, the largest growing demographic of homelessness are women over 50, a disturbing fact that breaks my heart. Although Derek’s character may be viewed as extreme, sadly it is not uncommon for women to find themselves in a similar situation to Claire after a marriage or relationship breakdown. Domestic violence is another issue close to my heart. On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. It’s only natural to see the themes and causes I’m passionate about come through in my writing. I hope my stories are thought provoking but also inspiring.

I love the fact it’s set in Perth, this is the second book this year set in the suburbs I know, what made you decide to set it here?

I love Perth! I get so many comments and emails from my overseas readers saying how much they learn about Australia through my books and that it makes them want to visit. I hope my passion for our beautiful country shows clearly through my words.

Do you think we’ll be seeing Claire and Zach again? And maybe Kira (my favourite secondary character)?

Yes! I have plans for Kira to have her own book. I love her too and can’t wait for her to take centre stage. I’ll make a start on her story towards the end of this year after I’ve released book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series. I’ll also give everyone an update on Claire and Zach!

You have two really nasty (in my opinion) and crazy (also in my opinion) characters in your story Derek and Jasmine, do you dislike either of them? and which one do you dislike the most? (I can’t decide which I dislike the most)

Jasmine! For me it was definitely Jasmine…

Have you always wanted to write? If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I was never encouraged to consider writing (or any creative pursuit) as a career option when I was growing up. I have always been a very passionate reader, so when I finally wrote my first book later in life, everything ‘clicked’. If I could tell my younger self anything, I would need a much longer list, lol. Although I am happy with what I have achieved in a relatively short time, I would have loved to have started writing a few years earlier.

With your books you self publish, can you tell us how that works and why you choose to go this way?

My first novel, Desperate, was traditionally published, but I chose to self-publish my Beyond the Grave paranormal romance series. I love the creative freedom that comes through the process of self-publishing. I like to have total control over my projects so I guess you can say it suits my personality. But it’s certainly not a set and forget strategy. I’m constantly monitoring and learning the industry, honing and polishing my skillset as a writer/author entrepreneur. The business side is as important to learn and master as the writing side. Self-Publishing gives me the freedom to try new things without having to consult anyone. Any mistakes are my own, and something I turn into beneficial learning tools.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I read every single review! Reviews can be extremely valuable if they are constructive, both the negative and positive ones. Of course, the negative reviews hurt, but if there is anything to be gained from them, I try to keep an open mind.

Do you have a line or scene from The Scream Behind Her Smile you’d like to share with readers to give them a taste?

Because it’s a psychological thriller, it is hard to find a scene that doesn’t contain spoilers, so I chose this from the prologue:

As I lie here in my front hallway, in the place where it all began, I wonder what would have happened if I’d never opened the door that afternoon?

Would she have gone somewhere else? Would she have swept off in another direction, an alternative reality where our lives would never have crossed paths?

And now I’m lying here, blood pooling beneath my body, deep crimson smears on cold white tiles, remembering every sordid moment in vivid detail.

There’s a shadow standing over me.

“I want you to die here, slowly and alone.” Her voice is cold, emotionless. “And I want you to use the time to think about what you did. And when you take your last breath, I want you to realize it’s all your fault. All of it!”

I drift in and out of consciousness and wonder if I had my chance to do it over again, if I had the choice, would I choose not to open the door that day?

Even after everything, I know that I would.

I’d go through it all again, and then some, if it meant the chance to be with Zach just one more time…

 A thrilling and emotionally gripping novel of love, marriage, deception and murder.

 What is next on the agenda for your writing?

I am currently working on Book 5 in the Beyond the Grave series, Sam and Tara’s story. Then towards the end of the year, I’ll be working on my next standalone psychological thriller.

Thanks for chatting Athena, I think another cocktail is in order

Thanks so much for having me!

* Ordering another round of cocktails for everyone! *

 

The scream behind promoAthena has very kindly given you all the opportunity to win a copy of her book! I have a paperback (Australian address only) and two ebook copies (international and Australia) up for grabs (please indicate if you are an international reader). To be in the running  please leave a comment on this post for Athena and it would be great if you could show her some love by liking her facebook page or adding The Scream Behind Her Smile to your goodreads Want to Read pile.

For another chance to win have a read of my review and leave a comment there also as I am giving away another copy.

Book Review: Arctic Sun by Annabeth Albert

I always enjoy Annabeth Albert’s books and her new book Arctic Sun is no exception, the first in the Frozen Hearts series, this was a journey of discovery for our two main characters.

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Griffen, a pilot in his family business, has been dealing with grief and is a recovering alcoholic who struggles to be around people and has the belief that he doesn’t deserve to be happy and isn’t worthy of being loved. River is an ex-supermodel, who has dealt with an eating disorder for most of his life, leading to hospitalisation. He has used travel as a way to heal, and also a way to run away from anything real. When these two damaged men are thrown together on a photography trip in Alaska, sparks will fly.

The descriptions of Alaska on this trip alone made me want to save up and go there ASAP, also, if there are more mountain men like Griffen, I’d be there even quicker. I loved the journey these two had to traverse, both the physical and the emotional journey. Though it was the emotional journey which took its toll on these two guys who are both dealing with so many issues. I was invested in their romance from the start and as I got to know the characters and what they had been through, and what they were dealing with still, my heart ached with hope that they would make the journey and end up together.

This story explored the physical and emotional relationship between the guys and it was a really great exploration. There was humour in their initial hookups and I loved the way River was able to make Griffen lower his walls and have a bit of fun, River was certainly not willing to give up on this happening while they were on the trip. The sexual tension was hard to ignore for both parties.

Hearing River’s story about his eating disorder was sad, I have a friend with an eating disorder and know how badly it can affect someone. Watching him struggle through each day, worried about what he was eating, feeling sick at the thought of eating, was really sad, hearing him explain to Griffen how he couldn’t see himself the ways others, especially Griffen saw him was also really sad. This is such a sad disease that definitely needs more attention, as does the way the fashion industry and magazines etc, portray the idea of perfection. It’s also great to have a male portrayed with this issue, as it is mainly women we think about when we hear ‘eating disorder’.

Griffen’s issues were subtler but no less damaging to his life and his future. Dealing with his avoidance of group situations, especially ones where people may be drinking was hard for him to navigate. As was his belief he wasn’t worthy of good things happening to him. In this River and Griffen had so much in common and were able to connect through this.

A great read, with two guys who deserved more than they had and needed each other to open up and start healing.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Book Bingo Round 7 & Book Review: Wayward Heart by Cathryn Hein

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This fortnight I chose to pick the square first and then find a book that matched. I chose the square Book by an Author with the same initials as yours. Which lead me to pick up Cathryn Hein’s Wayward Heart.

davI’ve had this on my shelf for ages and at only 40 or so pages in, I knew I was going to love it. This is definitely my favourite Cathryn Hein novel to date. The subject matter combined with the writing just had something extra that drew me deeply into the story straight away.

There are many reasons we connect to certain stories. I connected with our female lead Jasmine straight away, she was real and flawed, having been involved with the wrong man, she was now trying to get over the relationship. I connected with Digby too, the hurt he felt, so deep inside for the loss of his fiance was heartbreaking.

This story had so many dynamics for me and took my heart for a ride throughout. Cathryn Hein has done a wonderful job making her characters and their circumstances complete. The guilt and blame the characters carried or lay at anothers feet, the healing that needed to be done in order to move on, the jealousy you can feel seeing a loved one succeed in something you feel should have been yours and the loss of direction in life, these are some of the concepts that spoke to me through this story.

This was an absolutely enjoyable story and I’m glad thanks to book Bingo, I got to it sooner rather than later.