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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Book Bingo Round 20

I’m a bit late with my book Bingo post this fortnight as I was away down at Margaret River from last Wednesday at a creativity retreat and was sick for nearly a week before that so I wasn’t able to plan ahead. Slack I know, but these things happen.

So this fortnight I chose the square Themes of Culture. And I picked the book The Kabul Peace House by Mark Isaacs. This is a story of hope and resilience in Afghanistan, a country constantly under siege from within and without.

This was an eye opening read which caused many emotions from sadness, anger, joy, hope, disbelief and much more. One man trying to make a difference, to bring about peace through drawing together young people from the different Afghan ethnic groups and having them work and live together, to recognise their sameness rather than their differences. It is written wih a mix of observations, dialogues with many of the young people and Insaan, the man making this possible, along with facts and figures that really make you wonder what our world is coming to.

Until next fortnight (I will be on time next time) happy reading.

New Release Book Review: Autumn at Blaxland Falls by Eliza Bennetts

Screenshot_20190904_212659After reading Summer at Urchin’s Bluff and absolutely loving it, I jumped at the chance to read Autumn at Blaxland Falls. And how glad I am that I did, it was another wonderful read. Eliza Bennetts focuses on slightly older characters, women and men in their 40’s, single mums who are making a life for themselves and their child, who are learning who they are, what they want and how strong they can be when they need to be.

I loved meeting Jo and her daughter Sasha who have travelled from Urchin’s Bluff to Jo’s home town Blaxland Falls, a town she never wanted to return to, because of a job offer too good to pass up. Jo is a strong character, she’s completely relatable in that she’s strong because she’s had to be, she’s struggling with some huge traumatic secrets that have driven her for the last 16 years.

We meet Christian, who I initially couldn’t take to, a millionaire property tycoon who owns the lodge Jo is working at. But it wasn’t long before I could see he was just a man struggling with his own issues and dramas and I fell for him as hard as Jo.

Sasha was a great kid, well-grounded with all the normal teenage issues that go with moving to a new place and she is also going to have a lot to deal with throughout this story.

Jo’s mum is quite a character and not at all likeable to me to start with, but she was a character that grew on me and by the end, I thought she was great.

I loved Jo’s best friend Dee who helped Jo get the job and has been Jo’s rock throughout the years. I really related to Dee, 40 and single, with no kids, her job is her big focus, maybe not because she chose it to be that way, but because that’s the way the dice rolled.

Now we have Blake, a highly unlikeable character, Jo’s ex and the reason she left Blaxland Falls years before. Man, this guy should have been thrown off the falls. You can only hope as you read that he gets what he deserves.

This was a great read, I didn’t want to put it down because I became so caught up in the lives of these characters. A story of family, friendship, love and being true to yourself. The next book will be Dee’s story, and I can’t wait.

Thanks to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

Tess Woods is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. Her last book tackled refugees and how they often struggle to fit into our society and how we as a society treat them. This time she tackles several important topics, but I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll try to be vague.

davThere are three time lines threaded through this novel and three generations, all connected in the present 2017 timeline.

CJ, a Seventeen year old high-school student is dealing with and going through so many things, my heart was in my throat for the first half of this novel whenever I came to her chapters. This novel took me a lot longer to read than it normally would, not because it wasn’t good, it was fabulous, but because CJ’s plight triggered my anxiety and I had to put the book down everytime I read her part of the story. This says much about Tess’s ability to write characters that are completely relatable. The fact I could put myself in CJ’s story so completely despite having passed that point over 20 years ago is impressive. I was also able to completely relate to CJ’s mum Jamie and her struggle despite not having children of my own and Jamie’s mum, Jess’s dilemmas also, despite never having had a love like hers or never having had to deal with the turmoil and decisions she is being forced to deal with. Three generations and I could put myself in each of their shoes.

Today’s youth have an even tougher time than when I went through school. I dealt with much of what CJ deals with, but at least I didn’t have to deal with the added threat and fallout of social media and smart phones. They may have their benefits, but they most certainly have their downfalls, and the issues our children deal with need to be bought into the forefront of society’s minds and youth of both sexes need to be educated in how to behave, how to treat people and how to deal with these issues when they do arise.

Jess’s timeline starts in the time of the Vietnam War, I’ve recently read a couple of novels set during this time, which I think added an extra layer to this timeline for me. Reading about Jess and Frank and their dreams, beliefs and differences and the reality of the Vietnam war, was one of my favourite dynamics in this novel.

Jamie’s story, starting in 2000 wasn’t as involved as the other two time lines, but had a huge bearing on CJ’s story and on who Jamie is in 2017.

I loved this novel, once I passed the worst of what CJ was going through, I couldn’t put the book down until I’d finished. I thoroughly enjoyed all three timeline stories and loved the way they entwined together to form the bigger picture. This is a heartwarming and thought-provoking novel, that will take you on a journey of emotions, it’s a story of love, family, secrets and so much more, dealing with many issues that need to have people thinking and talking.

 

Book Review: Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer

Wow what a fabulous read, for some reason I’ve been putting off reading this book despite loving Anna Romer’s other books. I’m so glad I finally managed to read it. With its mysterious and darkly atmospheric cover, it completely sets the scene for the secrets that are going to be uncovered. This is a mystery, a thriller, a love story, a story about family, forgiveness, trauma and letting the past go and getting on with life.

IMG_20190508_003954Talk about twists and turns. I did have my suspicions about one of the mysteries, but some of the events leading up to the reveals were unexpected. The characters were well written and relatable, thankfully, despite not having been through the traumatic experiences that Abby and Lilly had been through I was still able to put myself in their shoes, not that I’d want to.

Abby has been through a traumatic experience as a child which has continued to haunt her and has laid the foundations for how she lives her life, never trusting people, unable to forgive herself for anything or believe others will truly love her.

I loved Tom, the surly hermit-like author who Abby goes to interview and ends up with far more than she ever expected. Meeting Tom was the catalyst for all the changes and truths that come about during the course of the story.

A mystery that is uncovered in Tom’s house and possible links to the past lead Abby to meet Lilly and Joe and learn a lot about secrets and the tricks the mind can play.

Through diary entries we slowly glean information about the events that Lilly survived, and the things that happened in the past. But you’ll have to wait until the end to uncover everything.

I completely disliked Abby’s editor Kendra and her thoughts on who and what kind of people deserve our attention, compassion and help made my blood boil. It is the marginalised people who most need these things from us.

This was a 5⭐ read and one I have no trouble recommending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

Book Bingo Round 8 & Book Review: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

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Welcome to another round of book Bingo, it’s already getting tougher each week to chose a square and a book to match, I think I’m going to need to pick a square and find a book that fits each fortnight from now on. This round I’ve chosen Themes of Inequality and used the novel Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult.

IMG_20190413_082750I listened to this in my car and was horror struck at times by the racism portrayed, shaking my head in disbelief at the way people think and behave; despite knowing that this is an actual truth unfortunately in our society. I still find it hard to get my head around, the hatred and behaviour of people towards another because of the colour of their skin.

This is the story of a black nurse, a white supremacist and a white public defender. It was a story that had me on edge the whole way through, telling a tale and giving voice to a subject that too often is ignored and not spoken about: the Inequality that exists around people of colour or race. This is set in America, but here in Australia, the Inequality between white Australians and the Aboriginal people, especially when it comes to being charged with crime, is as big a problem here as it is there.

Ruth Jefferson, a black Labour and delivery nurse (the only black nurse in the hospital) is trying to do her job when a new father demands she is stopped from touching his baby because of the fact she is African American. The fact that her supervisor goes along with this had me feeling incredulous. The parents are white supremacists who completely believe that the colour of your skin determines who is superior and that people of colour are not people.

Their baby dies and Ruth is thrown under a bus by her hospital and then by the family who have her charged with murder. Her court lawyer is a white woman Kennedy McQuarrie, who takes Ruth’s case to heart because of something Ruth says and fights to stay on her case.

This is a learning curve for Ruth and Kennedy, race is NOT spoken about in a court of law, EVER.  The trial is mind-blowing as is the case itself. It is mentioned more than once “if this was a white nurse, we wouldn’t even be here”.

There is lots of learning and educating throughout this emotional story of a fight for justice in a case that is primarily about race. This is based on a true story, luckily one that never made it to court, instead the hospital was sued for discrimination.

There is a scene where Kennedy is talking to her mother about racism and how it feels like they haven’t come anywhere in all these years of fighting for equality, her mother responds by saying from where she sits she’s amazed how far they’ve come. It may be changed from what it was 50 years ago, but it’s not enough. We all need to help end inequality due to race by being people who don’t allow others to spout racist jokes or slurs, by standing up and saying this isn’t the right way to talk or behave. By not being complicit in racism by standing by and watching it happen.

Ruth has had to endure so much inequality throughout her life, which as a white person I can’t imagine. She teaches Kennedy some huge lessons about inequality and racism as this story unfolds. And of course us as readers or listeners.

This is an important story and once again author Jodi Picoult is not afraid to tackle the difficult issues, the ones people want to ignore and forget about, unless they are the ones facing them.