New Release Book Review: Choosing Lillian by Rania Battany

Choosing LillianI Loved Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany and Choosing Lillian is the second in the Stolen Hearts series which follows on a little while after and this time social worker Lillian, who helped Lucy in the first novel, gets her own HEA.

For those who have read Call me Lucy, you will know that the chemistry between Lillian and the police officer Blake, was palpable, so it was no surprise that these two characters find ways to reconnect after Lucy’s case is finished.

Blake was definitely the instigator in this relationship, making excuses to catch up with her, and though shy, knew what he wanted when it came to Lillian. I really liked Blake and I was barracking for him through the whole novel, such a lovely guy, and very protective when it came to Lillian and it turns out, he has every reason to worry about her. Lillian isn’t too sure of what she wants due to the breakdown of her marriage a year before, and because of this, she sends lots of mixed signals to poor Blake, and to herself. I thought her friends and family weren’t very supportive of Lillian starting a new relationship, except of course Lucy, who was right behind her. Lillian is also still suffering the loss of a young client and still coming to terms with her inability to help when it was needed. Lillian has lots to deal with including her ex-husband who causes a few extra issues she definitely doesn’t need.

I really enjoyed the relationship that built between Lillian and Blake, I loved how the chemistry they had led to so much more, they both just had to trust and make the jump.

We meet many of the same characters in Choosing Lillian, but I changed my mind about a few of them in this story. I found Lillian’s mother to be very unsupportive of Lillian in this novel, and I didn’t like her much at all, she was constantly trying to get Lillian back with her ex, who was an asshole, and I couldn’t understand her thinking or lack of empathy. I found Gabby to be quite judgy and very naive, but I’m looking forward to reading her story and seeing where she ends up. I still am not a big fan of Leila, but she is starting to soften a bit more, I guess her relationship with Jacob from the prequel novella Letters to Leila, is softening those sharp edges of hers.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

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Book Review: Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany

Call me LucyI really loved this novel, an Enemies to Lovers romance set around a cast of characters who are part of a linked series Stolen Hearts, with the next book Choosing Lillian coming out early March.

This novel, as the title suggests is about Lucy who has been in an accident and suffered some traumatic brain injury and has no idea who she is or where she comes from, but the saddest part is that no one has come forward to say she is theirs.

Lucy is lucky in one respect, she is assigned Lillian as her social worker and Lillian is completely about protecting Lucy after she herself has suffered a loss that we slowly uncover details about. Lillian sets Lucy up at her flat where her brother Billy is living and Billy is given the job as unwilling ‘babysitter’.

This was a really moving story, Lucy’s struggle to remember her identity, while at the same time being terrified of learning who she really is, was one that pulled at my heartstrings many times throughout the novel. The fact no one has come forward for her makes her feel that she must have no worth to anyone. Billy’s behaviour towards her when she first comes to stay reiterates this feeling of having no self-worth.

I actually really liked Billy despite his behaviour to begin with, you could see he was struggling with his own demons and that deep down he cared a lot. He especially cared about his sister Lillian and I really enjoyed the dynamics of their relationship.

Lucy meets a very unlikeable character in Tyler when she is revisiting the scene of her accident. From the get-go, I knew there was something off about Tyler and as the story progresses I could see why I disliked him. Tyler is all about emotional and psychological abuse. He plays Lucy from the start and whenever these two characters met, I got a horrible sense of foreboding. Rania Battany has done a great job of portraying both the mindset of the abuser and the effects this can have on the person being abused.

Lillian is working with a police officer Blake, the chemistry between these two is palpable and there is hope something might be stirring ready for the next book in the series.

There are a few other characters we meet who will be part of the series, Lillian and Billy’s mum Helen who comes across as a loving mother, loud and sure that food is the answer to any problem, characteristics that are often part of a Lebanese family. We also meet Gabby, their cousin who also is loud, outgoing and thinks food, especially pastries can cure anything. And we briefly catch up with Leila and Jacob who have their own novella Letters to Leila, which is set slightly before Call Me Lucy. I didn’t like Leila in the novella and her brief catch up in this novel didn’t change my mind about her, though I am glad Leila and Jacob are still together.

I really enjoyed Lucy and Billy’s growing friendship and relationship. I loved the way they both took tiny steps towards trusting each other, sometimes leading to more steps backward, but ultimately leading towards something real and strong that is worth pursuing. Billy really was just what Lucy needed in order to heal from her past and from her accident. Lucy is a tough person, at the same time as being completely vulnerable and I really loved her character.

This was a great read full of emotions and the mystery of finding out who Lucy really was.

Thank you to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   12/50

Book Bingo 2020 – Round 2: Friendship, Family, Love – Gang of Four by Liz Byrski

This is the second post for #BookBingo2020 hosted by Theresa Smith Writes & Mrs B’s Book Reviews & The Book Muse

IMG_20200208_101625Gang of Four

Gang of Four by Liz Byrski was chosen as our bookclub read at my face to face bookclub, I’ve read other books by Liz Byrski in the past and thoroughly enjoyed them, and this one was just as good as I remember them being. This fit perfectly into the Friendship, Family, Love square as this book had all three in huge amounts.

The four women in this novel are all dealing with different things, but it takes Isabel making the decision to take a year for herself away from her husband and grown-up children, to make the other three women take a good look at their own lives and decide to make changes too.

These three women, Isabel, Grace, Sally and Robin are all so different, and my feelings towards each of them went through many changes through the course of the novel as I got to know them, their backgrounds and their dreams. They all changed a lot during the year they took to find themselves and discover what they needed to to live life more fully.

There was trauma, the loss of a child, the loss of self, family expectations, affairs, secrets,  growth, death, illness and love in its many shades. It was a really enjoyable tale that made me look at some of the things in my life and wonder.

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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.

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Book Review: True Blue by Sasha Wasley

IMG_20191219_111731I absolutely loved this novel and I can’t believe I let it sit on my shelf unread for so long. After reading Dear Banjo for the second time the other month, I knew I had to get to books 2 & 3 ASAP. True Blue was another fabulous story in the Daughter’s of the Outback series and this time we get to know Free (Freya), the more flighty of the sisters, except she’s not as flighty as her sisters have her believing.

I really loved getting to know Free, she’s an artist and I love the way she looks at life, always trying to see the best in people and experiences. I loved how she gets totally absorbed in her art; I am the same way, (maybe we are kindred spirits). There was a lot of humour in this story, and a lot of heart.

Free takes up an artists residency teaching position at the local high school and as nervous as she is, I loved the way she taught, maybe if I’d had a teacher like her I’d have pursued art earlier in life. She makes enemies early on, without meaning to, with a truly unlikeable character who is a  colleague at the school. What a nasty piece of work he turned out to be, even worse than my first impressions.

We also have the romance (of course), and what a lovely man Constable Finn Kelly is. It is a bit of a bumpy journey for these two to get together, plenty of misunderstandings and worrying about the future. I really enjoyed the chemistry and the interactions between Free and Finn, (I wish I could meet him myself, too bad he’s a fictional character).

We get to catch up with Banjo and Tom and see how they are going, we also get to know Beth a little more as it’s Beth who Free turns to a lot when she needs someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on. Beth could be pretty hard and pessimistic towards Free, but I think this stems from her own issues, (which I’m pretty sure we’ll find out more about in the next book Love Song, which is Beth’s story), but she’s still a supportive and protective big sister.

Running through the story is the issue of mining and the environment and the importance of fighting for our environments protection.

I think Free did a lot of growing in this story and came out much stronger and had way more belief in herself by the end of the story.

I highly recommend this novel and this series.

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: Worth The Wait by Annie Seaton

Screenshot_20191027_234714Worth the wait by Annie Seaton is book 4 in the Bindarra Creek A Town Reborn series and my first foray into Bindarra Creek despite having several of the series waiting to be read, each book is written by a different Australian author. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the locals of Bindarra Creek and plan on reading all the books that comprise the two series plus a anthology.

Worth The Wait starts with Jaclyn turning up in Bindarra Creek as the new school principal, she’s arrived there under a cloud. As we slowly uncover what happened in the city we find plenty of corruption and suspense to be had throughout the story.

Jaclyn’s romantic leading man Ryan is just lovely, and I enjoyed the interaction between the two from the frosty reception to start with to the reigniting of their romance.

I enjoyed seeing Jaclyn loosen up as she started to get to know the town. It would be a big shock to the system to move from the city to the country, especially when it isn’t entirely your own choice. I did wonder if she’d cope at the beginning.

There were serious moments and amusing moments and plenty of enjoyment during this story. I look forward to returning to Bindarra Creek very soon as I have book 5 to read next. As well as starting from the beginning as soon as time allows.

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