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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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.

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Book Bingo round 17 and New Release Book Review: Singapore Sapphire by A.M. Stuart

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This fortnight I am crossing off the square Book with a place in the title, author Alison Stuart pointed out that this would be the perfect book for that square.The choices are getting smaller. If you have any suggestions for the remaining squares, I’d love to hear them.

Early twentieth-century Singapore is a place where a person can disappear, and Harriet Gordon hopes to make a new life for herself there, leaving her tragic memories behind her–but murder gets in the way.

Singapore Sapphire (Harriet Gordon Mystery #1)Singapore Sapphire is book #1 in the Harriet Gordon Mystery series and was a great introduction to this new character and setting of 1910 Singapore. I enjoyed this novel a great deal and thought Harriet was a great character, she was a contradiction of the times and definitely not one to be kept in a box. Harriet takes things into her own hands doing some investigating of her own to try and figure out who the murderer is.

My favourite character after Harriet was Inspector Robert Curran who is in charge of the murder investigation. He was another character who was ahead of the times and didn’t always toe the line. I really enjoyed his interactions with Harriet and how he realised it would be helpful to have her on his side rather than trying to make her stand on the sidelines.

This isn’t a simple murder though and there are many twists and turns, people who aren’t who they seem to be and mysteries that arise from the past.

The imagery that Ms Stuart manages to portray through her words was wonderful and I could absolutely see Singapore as it was in 1910. The characters of the ‘good guys’ and the ‘bad guys’ were well written, I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be on the bad guys hit list.

I look forward to the next Harriet Gordon Mystery.

Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for providing me with a digital copy 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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Book Review: The Butterfly Room by Lucinda Riley

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Pan Macmillan Australia for a copy of this book to read and review.

IMG_20190706_210246Wow this was a massive book, over 600 pages! I wondered if I’d manage to get through it.

This was my first Lucinda Riley book and I’d heard so many great things about her novels and about this one, that it had a lot to live up to.

This was a great read, it did take until halfway through for me to feel I was really getting into the story, but once I got there, I didn’t want to put it down. It is another dual timeline novel, which seem to work so well these days. I found I enjoyed the now timeline more than the past timeline, I was able to really get into it and there were many many threads all weaving their way to become a whole.

To begin with I only really liked Posy, both past and present Posy, she was a great kid and a just as great older lady. But as the story moved on, most of the characters grew on me and I found myself hoping that things would work out for all of them. The only exception was Posy’s son, Sam, he was one character that I had absolutely no time for and seriously hoped he’d get what he deserved, and to a point he did, but I felt he deserved more lol.

There were plenty of secrets to uncover, a few really big ones. I have to say, I do get annoyed when characters won’t communicate with each other and Posy’s son Nick does just that with his girlfriend Tammy, so many misunderstandings could be avoided if he’d just manned up and told her what was going on, I felt he didn’t deserve the girl at one point, I thought it was ridiculous not to tell her what was going on. Authors seem to enjoy adding in this biplay between characters, I wish they didn’t though as I find it so frustrating.

Overall this was a highly enjoyable read and I’d give it 4 ⭐⭐⭐⭐.

Book Bingo Round 13 and New Release Book Review: The Postmistress by Alison Stuart

IMG_20190606_200715This week I mark off another square on my Bingo sheet. I’ve picked Historical for this fortnight’s square and chose new release novel  The Postmistress by Alison Stuart for this square.

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A historical fiction novel set in the harsh Australian outback and gold mining town in 1871.

In a small struggling mining town we meet Adelaide 10 years on from the Prologue where she is making a life for herself and her son. For me, Adelaide came across as older than she was, this would be because she’d had to eke out a living for her and her son and her friend Betty, who I loved. She portrayed herself as a widow so as to be socially acceptable for the times, a single, unwed mother would not be at all respectable.

I loved the character of Caleb, an American who comes to town to look at a mining claim. Caleb has some traumatic history he is running from and secrets, just like Adelaide.

I enjoyed the relationship between Adelaide and Caleb, and Adelaide’s son Danny. Caleb’s arrival is the catalyst for much change in the small town.

We have a completely unlikeable character enter the picture at one point and I seriously questioned Adelaide’s judgement with her decision making. But in those times, women would’ve felt they had less choices than they do now. 

The small town characters and problems were depicted so well, I could see them all clearly in my head. I really enjoy this novel, which at its heart was a love story, with hardships and suspense thrown in to the mix.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.