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.

Author’s Facebook                  Website               Goodreads

Amazon AU            Amazon US              Amazon UK

FB_IMG_1577105032228   #AWW2020 1/50

 

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.

Goodreads

Author Facebook

Author Website

HarperCollins AUS

Booktopia

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

 

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.

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Author website

Facebook

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

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Facebook

Book Review: Dear Banjo by Sasha Wasley

I absolutely loved this novel, this was my second time reading it and it was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it just over 2 years ago. The first in the Daughters of the Outback series, this is a fabulous introduction to the Paterson family, Willow, Free, and Beth, along with their dad Barry. We are also introduced to Tom Forrest and his family along with the farming properties they live for in the heart of the Kimberley.

IMG_20191004_191752My second read of this novel was fraught with stress. You’d think the fact I’ve already read it and know how it all ends, that it would have been an easy read. But no! Because I knew how absolutely awful one character was, it caused me no end of anxiety. I wanted to yell at Banjo (Willow) and say ‘beware, don’t trust him one little teeny tiny bit!’ Alas, she just wouldn’t listen and I just had to keep reading.

Dear Banjo is so much more than a romance, it explores many aspects of friendship and family, grief and how it impacts those affected for way longer than we’d imagine.

It explores many aspects of farming, especially ethical and sustainable farming, delving into the changes needed to take a farm to organic certification and ways to help protect the environment. I found these things most interesting.

I loved the dynamics between all the characters; I loved all of the characters except for Hegney the assistant manager who had no likeable qualities whatsoever after his initial introduction. Hegney is the epitome of all that needs to change in men’s attitudes especially towards women and those they deem less than them. Working on the mines for 13 years I came across many men like Hegney, but luckily there are many more men who aren’t like him.

I really loved how Willow grew throughout the story, both as the boss at Paterson Downs and in her relationships with her family, friends and of course with Tom. I appreciated the intrigue that ran through the story and the many dynamics of relationships throughout the story. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Willow and Tom and though I knew the ending from the first read, I had completely forgotten the details of how they got there, and it was definitely a journey for them both.

I highly recommend this great book and now I’m about to start book 2 True Blue which is Willow’s sister Free’s story.

Goodreads

Amazon AU

 

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.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Goodreads