New Release Book Review: Up On Horseshoe Hill by Penelope Janu

IMG_20191105_105502Oh, how I do love reading a novel by Penelope Janu, it’s always an absolute pleasure and I find them hard to put down. Up On Horseshoe Hill is no exception, I read until the early hours of the morning and picked it up again as soon as I was awake.

I fell in love with Finn our leading man straight away (I seem to fall in love with all the leading men in Penelope Janu’s novels), he was lovely.

Tasked with investigating the deaths of several horses a few years before, Finn is determined to do his job, in doing so, he brings up memories better forgotten by Jet/Jemima, as well as a few other people who would like the investigation dropped. It becomes obvious that a potential crime may have been committed and this leads to danger for Jet.

Finn and Jet had a connection straight up, but the relationship that develops took its time as Jet has to learn to trust as well as realise Finn isn’t going to let his investigation go.

I really enjoyed the aspect of Jet’s job that allowed her to take her horses for children with disabilities to ride, working with people with disabilities and also being an art therapist, I know how wonderfully beneficial these beautiful animals are to healing and confidence.

I learnt a lot about what being a farrier involves and loved the zoo aspect of this story, I never realised how much you would need to know about various animals behaviour to work in this field. I also love the fact that Penelope Janu shows that despite the fact Jet has a learning disability, she is successful in her career choice, that there are always ways to work around things that could hold us back.

There was plenty to enjoy in this novel, family relationships, or lack thereof, friendship, romance, danger and mystery, small-town community and so much more. I also liked the way Ms Janu brings a much-loved character of mine from her previous novels into this story, Nate is an absolute honey that I have been hoping will find his own love of his life, alas I’ve been informed it won’t be happening just yet, but he will make more appearances in future books.

Up On Horseshoe Hill is out on the 18th November 2019, preorder your copy now, or rush out and buy it in 4 days time, it would make a great Christmas present.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.


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New Release Book Review: Undara by Annie Seaton

Screenshot_20190815_194529Undara by Annie Seaton was something different from this author and a really great read. A dual timeline read based around a phenomenon called the Undara Lava Tubes which are in Queensland and which I had never heard of before this novel. They are fascinating and I have added these to my list of places I want to see.

This novel is full of mystery, friendship, grief, healing, misunderstandings, crime, family drama and the land. The tubes are as much a character as the people. One of the main mysteries which will be solved dates back 100 years and involves the disappearance of 2 children. This is a rather heartbreaking mystery.

Emlyn arrives at Hidden Valley to set up for her team to research and explore the Undara Lava Tubes, she is struggling with grief and guilt and the breakdown of her marriage. Travis who owns the land, is a struggling farmer with family dramas of his own and has only allowed the research team on his land because of the money they are willing to pay, he is not happy about them being there.

These two characters go through a lot of emotional changes through working with each other, they form a friendship that will help them both to heal. They will also set in motion events that are totally unexpected and that will lead to danger for Emlyn and big repercussions for everyone.

The exploration of the lava tubes in search of insect life was fascinating, Annie Seaton has done some incredible research into this phenomenon and it shows in the details that she includes in the story.

The land of Hidden Valley is in itself a character, the descriptions of this often barren landscape due to lack of rain were so well written, I could easily see the place as if I were there. Annie delves into the struggles farmers are facing in these uncertain times as well as the greed of mining companies just out to make a dollar.

There is a lot going on in this novel and it all ties together extremely well, leading to a book that was hard to put down.

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

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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop Blog Tour

RosiesTravellingTeaShop_BLOG_TOURToday I’m excited and happy to share with you an exert of Rebecca Raisin’s new novel Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop. If you read my pre-release book review a couple of weeks ago, you’ll know how much I enjoyed this novel. Check out my review here




Chapter OneIMG_20190221_212054

       ‘You’re just not spontaneous enough, Rosie…’

       I’ve misheard, surely. Fatigue sends my brain to mush at the best of times but after twenty hours on my feet, words sound fuzzy, and I struggle to untangle what he’s getting at.

       It’s just gone 2 a.m. on Saturday 2nd February and that means I’m officially 32 years old. By my schedule I should be in the land of nod, but I’d stayed late at work to spontaneously bake a salted caramel tart to share with Callum, hoping he’d actually remember my birthday this year.

       He’s never been a details man – we’re opposites in that respect – so I try not to take it to heart, but part of me hopes this is all a prelude to a fabulous birthday surprise and not the brewing of a row.

       ‘Sorry, Callum, what did you say?’ I try to keep my voice light and swig a little too heartily on the cheap red wine I found in the back of the cupboard after Callum told me we needed to have a chat. Surreptitiously, I glance to the table beside me hoping to see a prettily wrapped box but find it bare, bar a stack of cookbooks. Really, I don’t need gifts, do I? Love can be shown in other ways, perhaps he’ll make me a delicious breakfast when we wake up…

       My eyes slip closed. With midnight long gone, my feet ache, and I’m weary right down to my bones. Bed is calling to me in the most seductive way; come hither and sleep, Rosie, it says. Even the thought of a slice of luscious ooey-gooey birthday tart can’t keep me awake and compos mentis. But I know I must focus, he’s trying to tell me something…

        ‘Are you asleep?’ The whine in his voice startles me awake. ‘Rosie, please, don’t make this any harder than it has to be,’ he says, as if I’m being deliberately obtuse.

       Make what harder – what have I missed? I shake my head, hoping the fog will clear. ‘How am I not spontaneous? What do you even mean by that?’ Perhaps he’s nervous because he’s about to brandish two airline tickets to the Bahamas. Happy Birthday, Rosie, time to pack your bags!

       He lets out a long, weary sigh like I’m dense and it strikes me as strange that he’s speaking in riddles at this time of the morning when I have to be at the fishmonger in precisely five hours.

       ‘Look…’ He runs a hand through his thinning red hair. ‘I think we both know it’s over, don’t we?’

       ‘Over?’ My mouth falls open. Just exactly how long did my power nap last for? ‘What… us?’ My incredulity thickens the air. This does not sound anything like a birthday celebration, not even close.

       ‘Yes, us,’ he confirms, averting his eyes.

       ‘Over because I’m not—’, I make air quotes with my fingers, ‘—spontaneous enough?’ Has he polished off the cooking sherry?

       My husband still won’t look at me.

       ‘You’re too staid. You plan your days with military precision from when you wake to when you sleep, and everything in between has a time limit attached to it. There’s no room for fun or frivolity, or god forbid having sex on a day you haven’t scheduled it.’

       So I’m a planner? It’s essential in my line of work as a sous-chef in esteemed Michelin-starred London restaurant Époque, and he should know that, having the exact same position in another restaurant (one with no Michelin stars, sadly). If I didn’t schedule our time together we’d never see each other! And I wouldn’t get the multitude of things done that need doing every single hour of every day. High pressure is an understatement.

       ‘I… I…’ I don’t know how to respond.

       ‘See?’ He stares me down as if I’m a recalcitrant child. ‘You don’t even care! I’d get more affection from a pot plant! You can be a bit of a cold fish, Rosie.’

       His accusation makes me reel, as if I’ve been slapped. ‘That’s harsh, Callum, honestly, what a thing to say!’ Truth be told I’m not one for big shows of affection. If you want my love, you’ll get it when I serve you a plate of something I’ve laboured over. That’s how I express myself, when I cook.

       It dawns on me, thick and fast. ‘There’s someone else.’

       He has the grace to blush.

       A feeling of utter despair descends while my stomach churns. How could he?

       ‘Well?’ I urge him again. Since he’s dropping truth bombs left, right and centre, he can at least admit his part in this… this break-up. Hurt crushes my heart. I hope I’m asleep and having a nightmare.

       ‘Well, yes, there is, but it’s not exactly a surprise, surely? We’re like ships that pass in the night. If only you were more—’

       ‘Don’t you dare say spontaneous.’

       ‘—if only you were less staid.’ He manages a grin. A grin. Do I even know this man who thinks stomping over my heart is perfectly acceptable?

       He continues reluctantly, his face reddening as if he’s embarrassed. ‘It’s just… you’re so predictable, Rosie. I can see into your future, our future because it’s planned to the last microsecond! You’ll always be a sous-chef, and you’ll always schedule your days from sun up to sun down. You’ll keep everyone at arm’s length. Even when I leave, you’ll continue on the exact same trajectory.’ He shakes his head as though he’s disappointed in me but his voice softens. ‘I’m sorry, Rosie, I really am, but I can see it playing out – you’ll stay resolutely single and grow the most cost-effective herb garden this side of the Thames. I hope you don’t, though. I truly hope you find someone who sets your world on fire. But it’s not me, Rosie.’

       What in the world? Not only is he dumping me, he’s planning my spinsterhood too? Jinxing me to a lonely life where my only companion is my tarragon plant? Well, not on my watch! I might be sleep-deprived but I’m nobody’s fool. The love I have for him pulses, but I remember the other woman and it firms my resolve.

       He sighs and gives me a pitying smile. ‘I hate to say it, Rosie. But you’re turning into your dad. Not wanting to leave the…’

       ‘Get out,’ I say. He is a monster.


       Cold fish, eh? ‘OUT!’ I muster the loudest voice I can.

       ‘But I thought we’d sort who gets what first?’

       ‘Out and I mean it, Callum.’ I will not give him the satisfaction of walking all over me just because he thinks he can.

       ‘Fine, but I’m keeping this apartment. You can—’

       ‘NOW!’ The roar startles even me. You want to see me warm up? ‘LEAVE!’

       He jumps from the couch and dashes to the hallway, where I see a small bag he’s left in readiness, knowing the outcome of our ‘quick chat’ long before I did. With one last guilty look over his shoulder, he leaves with a bang of the door. He’s gone just like that.

       As though I’m someone so easy to walk away from.

       Laying down on the sofa, I clutch a cushion to my chest and wait for the pain to subside. How has it all gone so wrong? There’s someone else in his life? When did he find time to romance anyone?

       Sure, I don’t go out much, other than for work purposes, but that’s because there’s no bloody time to go out! I’m not like my dad, am I? No, Callum is using that as ammunition, knowing how sensitive I am to such a comparison.

       The sting of his words burns and doubt creeps in. Am I not spontaneous enough? Am I far too predictable?

       Admittedly I’d been feeling hemmed in, ennui creeping into everything, even my menu. Each day bleeding into the next with no discernible change except the plat de jour. Sure, my professional life is on track but lately even my enthusiasm for that has waned. I’ve had enough of tweezing micro herbs to last a lifetime. Of plating minuscule food at macro prices. Of the constant bickering in the kitchen. The noise, the bluster, the backstabbing. Of never seeing blue skies or the sun setting. Of not being able to sit beside my husband on the couch at a reasonable hour and keep my eyes open at the same time.

       Is this my fault? Am I a cold fish? I like routine and order so I know where I fit in the world. Everything is controlled and organised. There’s no clutter, mess, or fuss, or any chance I’ll lose control of any facet of my life. That need to keep life contained is a relic of my childhood. Is my marriage now a casualty of that?

       But he’d promised he’d love me for better or worse.

       Am I supposed to hope he comes to his senses or to beg him to come back?

       Sighing, I place a hand on my heart, trying to ease the ache. I could never trust him again. I’m a stickler for rules, always have been, and cheating, well… I can’t forgive that.

       But bloody hell, our lives had been all mapped out. Our first child was scheduled for conception in 2021. The second in 2023. And he’s just blithely walking away from his children like that! Didn’t he understand I would have given up my career for our future family? The career I’d worked so hard for! And I would have done it gladly, too.

       Now this?

       The gossip will spread like wildfire around the foodie world. My name embroiled in a scandal not of my choosing. It’s taken me fifteen years to get to where I am in my career, and that’s meant sacrificing a few things along the way, like a social life, and free time, real friendships. But that was all part of the bigger picture, the tapestry of our lives.

       It hurts behind my eyes just thinking about it all.

       And I mean to cry and wail and torment myself about the ‘other woman’, or force myself up off the couch and throw my lovingly baked birthday tart at the wall, or eat it all in one go as tears stream down my face – something dramatic and movie-esque – but I don’t. Instead, I fall into a deep sleep, only waking when my alarm shrills at stupid o’clock the next day, and with it comes the overwhelming knowledge that I must leave London. At 32, this could be my rebirth, couldn’t it?

       Not spontaneous enough? Cold fish? Spinster? Like my dad?

       I’ll show you.


Now I advise you to all jump straight online and order Rebecca’s book and join Rosie on her adventure.

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin is published by HQ Digital in eBook on 3rd March 2019.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships, and most importantly, believe in true, once in a lifetime love.

Book Blurb:

Rosie Lewis has her life together.

A swanky job as a Michelin-Starred Sous Chef, a loving husband and future children scheduled for exactly January 2021.

That’s until she comes home one day to find her husband’s pre-packed bag and a confession that he’s had an affair.

Heartbroken and devastated, Rosie drowns her sorrows in a glass (or three) of wine, only to discover the following morning that she has spontaneously invested in a bright pink campervan to facilitate her grand plans to travel the country.

Now, Rosie is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime, and the chance to change her life! With Poppy, her new-found travelling tea shop in tow, nothing could go wrong, could it…?

A laugh-out-loud novel of love, friendship and adventure! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Holly Martin.

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New Release book review: The Round Yard by Alissa Callen

The Round Yard by Alissa Callen was a totally enjoyable  rural romance read set once again in the town of Woodlea. This is the 4th book in this series and though they can be read as standalone I highly recommend reading them in order as many of the characters from previous books are part of the series.

img_20190124_152444In The Round Yard we meet newcomer Neve, who with her quiet and gentle way starts a reaction in loner Tanner that challenges everything he thought he wanted or needed. Tanner is gorgeous but broken and Alissa has you wishing desperately for him to allow Neve to help him heal. Neve is also in a bad space due to losses of her family she has suffered and you just know that Tanner would be perfect to help her overcome her issues too.

I loved the characters of Bassie and Dell, Neve’s rescued donkey and pony, they caused me to laugh several times with their antics and Bassie especially had such attitude.

I also loved revisiting the characters from book 1 & 2 and seeing what they were doing and how their relationships were going. I really appreciated the mystery that causes Tanner and Neve to work together, being a big fan of historical fiction, this small element of the story was one I found really interesting. A great read and I hope there is more to come in this series.

About the book:  A heartfelt story about finding where you belong. A new Woodlea rural romance by bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.

For only child Neve Fitzpatrick, family is everything. When she loses her mother, she heads to the bush to rent a farmhouse near her grandmother’s family home. To keep herself busy and her grief at bay, she offers to look after two little redheaded cowgirls and adopts a sassy pony and sweet donkey in need of a refuge.

Drover and horse trainer Tanner Callahan may have just found his mother, but he’s resolved never to let anyone too close. Abandonment has cursed him all his life, and he won’t let it happen again. Only two things unnerve him: children and small-town matchmaking. Then he meets occupational therapist Neve. Warm-hearted and unforgettable, she represents all that Tanner feels will forever remain out of reach.

But when an old iron key unlocks family secrets from the Second World War, Neve needs help only Tanner can give. As the threads of the past unravel, and locusts threaten to suffocate the land, Neve and Tanner must make a choice. Will fear keep them running or is the home each yearns for already within grasp?

Woodlea Small Town Series

Book 1: The Long Paddock

Book 2: The Red Dirt Road

Book 3: The Purple Hills

Book 4: The Round Yard

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About the author; Alissa Callen is a former teacher and counsellor. She was raised on a farm and still favors remote areas, small towns, historic homesteads, and country gardens. She is inspired by the countryside, and people’s life journeys. She is the author of Town of Windmills series, Wildflower Ranch series, and Outback Dust series. She won the 2017 Australian Romance Readers Awards, for Strongest heroine with her book, The Long Paddock (Town of Windmills series).