A-Z Author Challenge – Q

 

A-Z Author Challenge post #1 is Q, so, obviously I’m not going to be going in alphabethical order like I originally had in mind.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

 

I listened to the audiobook verion of this book and it is one that worked well for me, I’ll be looking for more by this narrator.

The Alice Network had me enthralled, this dual timeline narrative is set during the first World War and two years after the end of WW2.

The two main female characters were both very strong women, who did a lot of growing during the story.

Eve was a spy during the first World War and she was assigned to the Alice Network which was a real network, the most successful of it’s time. Eve’s story was full of intrigue and heart stopping moments, corruption and fear. She grapples with many issues during this time, one being her relationship formed with a betrayer of the people whilst she is undercover. This man is a truly horrible person and we meet with him in both timelines as what he does and who he is has far reaching consequences.

Charlie is from a rich American family who is being taken to get rid of an ‘unwanted’ problem. On the spur of the moment, with not much of a plan, she absconds from her mothers clutches and goes off to search for her cousin who went missing two years before in France. Her only lead is Eve, who begrudginly agrees to help (very begrudginly). After meeting Eve and hearing her story as she searches for her cousin, Charlie learns to really understand what she wants and who she is as well as learning to heal from the loss of her brother and her cousin.

Finn, Eve’s chauffeur and all job man, was a great character, I loved how he cared for Eve, and I loved how he fought his attraction to Charlie, you could feel his shift in loyalties as he got to know Charlie.

In searching for Charlie’s cousin old wounds are opened and old enemies come to the fore. We learn Eve’s story in alternating chapters, until we reach a time where she begins to tell her story to Finn and Charlie.

There were some important characters that play a big part in Eve’s story, all based on real characters. I can’t imagine the bravery and conviction these women especially, must of had to be spies during the time of war.

Eve and Charlie are both so different, but both broken and searching for something to heal that brokenness. Their relationship grows and changes throughout the story, having big impacts on them both and leading to an ending with unexpected results.

This was my first book by Kate Quinn and I’ll be looking for me to read by her in the future.

 

My top reads of 2019 plus my blog birthday giveaway

This week marks the 1st birthday of my blog and I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and followed me throughout the last 12 months, I hope to bring you plenty more reviews next year. To say thanks I am doing a giveaway which I’ll write more about after I let you know what my top reads were for this year, It was a tough choice and I changed my mind about the books and the amount of books I was going to list quite a few times. But here are my final choices in no order whatsoever. As with my books of the decade, they had to be books that have stayed with me all year and that required no prompting for remembering.

TThe True Story of Maddie Brighthe True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl was a book that evoked many emotions at the time of reading.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190514_200721The Lost Boy by Rachael Wright was another book that packed an emotional punch.

My review

 

 

img_20190121_065430Sunshine by Kim Kelly, this is a novel I have read twice this year as well as listening to the audio book.

My Review

 

 

 

img_20190127_200000Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry was yet another emotional read (I’m beginning to sense a theme here as I start putting these onto the page)

My Review

 

 

IMG_20191024_203440Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard was a very emotional read that everyone should read.

My Review

 

 

 

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A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird is probably the most emotional book I have read this year, this one had me crying for a third of the book, but it was an incredible story.

My review

 

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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin was a book that had me looking at my dreams for my life.

My review

 

 

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Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener was the first book I read in 2019 and a great historical romance in an unusual setting.

My review

 

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Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant was one of a handful of books I read by male authors this year and was a fabulous read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_154143In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor was another emotional read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190508_003954Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer was a book I enjoyed so much I bought it for my mum for her birthday.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_073822The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels was brilliant.

My review

 

 

 

 

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Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee was a confronting look at sexual assalt and our legal system.

My review

 

 

 

Lastly, I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this year due to a lot of driving and some of these have been great, some just good and some not so good. The narrator makes all the difference to how well a book comes across. I’ve listened to several novels that friends have loved, but as an audiobook, they just haven’t had that impact for me. Here are a couple that stood out for me this year, if you enjoy your audiobooks you may want to check them out.

This Red Earth by Kim Kelly – My Review

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – My review

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – My review

The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these (or not) or are inspired to pick one of them up.

For my blog’s birthday I’m giving two people the opportuntiy to win a kindle copy of their choice from my top reads this year (open internationally). Or a paperback copy of Sunshine by Kim Kelly (open internationally) or a paperback copy of Ridgeview Station by Michale Trant (Australia only). To be in for a chance to win please leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page. You need to be following my blog of to have liked my FB page to enter (or both).

Happy reading.

 

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 Orange Grove by Kate Murdoch

IMG_20191031_201121This novel surprised me in how much I enjoyed it. After a slightly shakey start where I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this novel after all, I suddenly found myself drawn into the intrigue going on in the château.

I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be part of the Duc’s House of mistresses, the rivalry and underhanded nastiness that went on would of had me running for the hills.

I disliked Charlotte immensely, though part of me sympathised with her, because who would want to share their husband with numerous mistresses who lived with you and were given everything you had just about. But her behaviour and later her actions, wiped any sympathy I had. I disliked Celine also, her behaviour and her willingness to do wrong in order to Parry favour with Charlotte was upsetting.

I enjoyed Henrietta’s character and unwillingness to be someone she wasn’t despite it putting her out of favour. I loved her daughter Solange, she was such fun and had a lovely soul.

Romain was an absolute rogue, but he had many redeeming characteristics that showed themselves as the story went on.

All in all this was an enjoyable read which had me turning pages past my bedtime to see what was going to happen in this nest of intrigue. The ending was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for. Be careful what you wish for and how you treat others.

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Kate Murdoch for providing me with a copy of this book.

Goodreads

New Release: The Mistletoe Mistress by Maddison Michaels

once upon a christmas weddingMaddison Michaels has written her first novella The Mistletoe Mistress as part of a Christmas compilation Once Upon A Christmas Wedding, it is part of the Saints and Scoundrels series and occurs before book 1. I love the two novels in this series so was eager to be able to read this novella.

While I would have loved for this to be a full-length novel, Maddison has done a good job of letting us get to know the two main characters, Michael and Holly.

I always enjoy the headstrong female characters in Maddison Michaels’ stories and Holly is no exception. Holly has come up with a scheme to keep herself and her sisters safe without the help or need of a man, if society found out there would be a massive scandal.  Michael is known as a scoundrel, but underneath there is far more to him than that.

Michael and his scoundrel friends make a bet that has both Michael and Holly questioning what it is they both want and what they will do with the secrets they are both keeping. I really enjoyed the push/pull relationship that they had going, especially since they’d know each other from childhood and both had feelings that neither wanted to admit even all the way back then, this same dynamic rears its head when they meet again as adults.

A really enjoyable short historical romance read.

I’m sure that all the stories in this compilation will be just as enjoyable as this one, so grab a copy today.

Goodreads        Amazon AU        Amazon US        Amazon UK

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

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Amazon US

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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.

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