New Release Book Review: Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

Thanks to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Hachette Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

I have a few Kelly Rimmer books residing on my shelf, waiting patiently to be read, and if it hadn’t been for Beauty and Lace, Truths I Never Told YouTruths I Never Told You may have been sitting there for just as long.

This was a very moving story about family, relationships, secrets, death, grief, but most importantly about postpartum depression and how it can affect both the sufferer and those who care for the person suffering.

Despite not having suffered postpartum depression, I very much related to both Beth and Grace’s experiences, because I have suffered from depression and they look pretty similar, minus the children. Because of this I always worried if I had children, I would not cope and could completely see where these two women, especially Grace, were coming from.

From the beginning, when I read Grace’s first letter, I knew I was in for an emotional time, and there were definitely moments that make me cry or brought tears to my eyes. All the characters, excepting Grace and Maryanne’s parents we so relatable and I enjoyed passing my time with them, even in the sad parts.

I liked the ways the stories ran in parallel, the 1996 timeline telling Beth’s story and the 1958 timeline telling Grace’s story through her letters to herself and then Maryanne’s story, all complimented each other and I enjoyed uncovering things slowly with Beth, though for much of the time we know much more than Beth and her siblings, we get to uncover the final secret at the moment Beth does.

Patrick’s illness, his heart disease, and his dementia were extremely sad, it is always a sad thing when someone ceases to be the person they were, but even sadder for Patrick as he couldn’t verbalise what he was wanting to say. This was a new type of dementia I was unaware of, where language is interpreted in painting or some other creative pursuits. I could visualise Patricks series of paintings so well in my mind, imagining what he would have painted to go with each of the letters. Art is a wonderful way to get our feelings out and at least Patrick had this outlet for his emotions.

There were other topics that were important throughout this story, especially the expectations put upon women to marry, look after the house and have children, the lack of say in what they can do with their own bodies, the lack of access to birth control and the way it was frowned upon to use it if you could access it. All of these things that we as westerners now take for granted. This is what Maryanne and her desire for change was hoping to get for women everywhere.

Beth – “It’s hard to believe how different things were for her. I mean, I’ve been sexually active for…” I pause and do the math, then grimace, “God. Over twenty years. I was on the pill for more than half of that time, until Hunter and I started trying to conceive. It was actually quite easy for me to avoid pregnancy until I was ready.”

  “Society moved on so fast. That’s what we wanted, of course,” Maryanne says and sighs as she pats my son to sleep. “But there’s a cost in rapid progress like that, because women your age don’t always understand how lucky you are. 

It’s true, we forget how lucky we are in many respects compared to only 60 or so years ago. One thing that still hasn’t changed enough though is the stigma around mental illness, yes it is more understood and less stigmatised than it was, but we still haven’t reached the point where people are comfortable asking for help and worrying about what others will think. Stories about mental illness are vitally important if we are going to change this. Beth, unlike Grace, had lots of support even when she didn’t want it, how different Grace’s life and in turn Patrick and the children’s life might have been had she had the support of her parents.

This was a very moving story with some very important themes and I was hooked from the beginning. I’ll definitely be getting the rest of Kelly Rimmer’s novels as soon as possible.

FB_IMG_1577105032228  #AWW2020 13/50

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.

 

Book Review: The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

IMG_20191103_171448I bought this book when it first came out which is over a year ago now, I got just over a quarter of the way through but was getting annoyed with one of the main characters and obviously wasn’t in the mood for being annoyed because I put it down with the intention of picking it back up down the track, but it never happened. Luckily my friend has just started a bookclub and she chose The Art of Friendship as the first book our group needed to read, which gave me the opportunity to pick it back up. I started from the beginning as it had been so long between reads. And what a great novel it was, I still didn’t like Libby, the main character who annoyed me the first go-round, but this time I was in the right headspace to be able to deal with that.

This novel really does explore the many aspects of friendship, old friendships, new friendships, long-distance friendships, colleague friendships, friendships you make because you belong to the same group or because your kids go to school together, and the way they survive or don’t survive. It really made me think about the friendships I’ve had over the years and the ones I have now, those that are just a few likes on Facebook and those that interact, those I catch up with or chat to regularly and those that I might only have contact with now and again, but I know they are there for me if I ever need them. Not many of my friendships from childhood or even highschool have survived the test of time, (not past Fb anyway), which is kind of sad in a way but also made me wonder about those past friendships and why they died.

As I said, I didn’t like Libby, one of the two main characters, I found her need to please everyone, to make people think she was something she wasn’t, (to make herself be something she wasn’t), to be very annoying, I’ve never been one to pretend or to ‘keep up with the  Jones’, so I always find people like this very false. As the story progressed and you get an idea of why she is how she is, I still didn’t take to her, but despite that, I enjoyed the novel this time around.

Kit, on the other hand I liked a lot, yes she did make some questionable decisions and they both had a hand in making their friendship one that wasn’t wholly based on truth and honesty, but she was still more real and likeable than Libby.

I liked the way Lisa Ireland drew out the secondary characters backstories and how we think we know one thing about them but it turns out to be something completely different, I especially liked that in reference to Libby’s husband.

With Libby’s son, we get to explore, bullying, mental health, and healthy parenting and some of the outcomes are unexpected. Lisa Ireland has done a great job of bringing these important aspects to life and giving you something to think about.

Spousal abuse is yet another theme that comes up in this novel, why and how people let it happen and how they are able to hide it, also, how friends and colleagues miss or justify signs that it is happening. It isn’t a straightforward topic and there isn’t always a way out or a right way of dealing with it.

Lisa explores so many themes in this novel and she does it so well. A really great story that I’m glad I finally got around to finishing.

Book Bingo Round 21: Literary

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The squares for this years book bingo have slowly been crossed off and now I’m down to the final few, a couple I know just what I’m going to read for, but there are still a few unknowns, especially Comedy, Non fiction book about an event and Themes of Justice, so if anyone has any suggestions for thiese squares, then please let me know in the comments.

Anyhow, on to this fortnights square Literary is being crossed off by Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. This square was slightly difficult as I don’t tend to read a lot of literary books. I have judged this one as literary because of the way it is written. 

My Review:

Anne Brinsden: Wearing Paper Dresses

This was a difficult read for me. I struggled with the narration style of the novel, it did nothing to draw me in and took a good 90 pages for me to get used to the style of narration and the ‘being told a story’ rather than feeling part of the story.

The prose was lyrical and at times it had some profound things to say such as “Because Marjorie saw that some people are chipped and damaged, cracked and frayed, exquisite and talented. But they care. They love whatever they can. In spite of their madness and their sadness, they still try. But some people are just mean bastards.”

But its lyrical way of being narrated didn’t work for me, I wasn’t really drawn into the story until nearly halfway and even then I wasn’t really enjoying it, just reading because I wanted to get to the end and find out what, if anything, happened. And really for a novel of nearly 400 pages, not too much did happen.

It is a story about mental illness, the struggles it can cause not just for the person suffering, but those who care for that person. Elise has a serious mental illness and this is the cause of a massive tragedy, it is also the cause of many smaller tragedies that affect her children, her husband, and her father-in-law. The people in the country weren’t particularly kind people, they were judgemental and cruel at times, and at others banded together, but often too late.

It’s definitely not a happy story and it mostly focuses on Marjorie who is at times cruel and unfeeling, but I think this can be related to the struggles of dealing with her mother.

Many people have thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Thanks extended to Beauty and Lace Book Club and Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Lost Boy by Rachael Wright

Wow, what an emotional journey I’ve just been on, especially during the second half of the novel. There were many times throughout I had tears threaten, but also moments of joy.

IMG_20190514_200721The story starts with a tragedy and a secret uncovered, both which completely throw Jack’s emotions into chaos. What a journey of growth and learning Jack and myself were taken on, from the moment Jack runs away from home.

Along Jack’s journey to find out who he is and where he fits in in his life, he meets some fabulous supporting characters. Each one has a story to tell and a part to play in helping Jack discover what he is searching for. This is a truly Australian story from the outback countryside to the straight talking characters. This story has a realness, an honesty and a harshness that match the bush, but also a beauty that is sometimes hidden.

This novel covers so many important issues, suicide, bullying, sexuality, alcohol, mental illness, responsibility and more, and to cover these in one novel and to do it so well is impressive.

I completely wasn’t expecting one of the relationships that formed between Jack and one of the characters, but wow it was beautiful in so many ways.

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This is a story that will stay with me for a long time. It is one that I think I will want to pick up and read again.

 

 

Thanks to Rachael Wright for providing me with a digital copy for me to read and review honestly.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Goodreads

Pre-release Book Review: Home at Last by Meredith Appleyard

This is my first book by Meredith Appleyard despite having one or two on my bookshelf. I was struggling to stick with a book when I picked this up, and thankfully it was a great decision because I couldn’t put it down.

IMG_20190307_141602Set in Broken Hill, an outback town I’ve only seen or heard of in books and movies, it’s nevertheless a place I can easily imagine especially after living in the WA Pilbara for a while.

Home at last is a story of new beginnings, new opportunities, new friends and relationships, about not letting the past dictate our future, taking responsibility for it but not letting it define us. It is also a story about secrets and who really benefits from keeping them.

I really enjoyed this book, Meredith did a great job of giving me a glimpse into the life of the people who work in the RFDS and the good and bad that they can experience everytime they are called out to a new patient. Anna is a pilot and her love for her new job and its challenges is clear, though it’s not always an easy job. Nick is the flight nurse, who does an incredible job and has given me a new appreciation for the job these nurses and doctors do with very little support.

I really loved Nick’s character, and I thought the way he knew what he wanted when it came to Anna and the way he wouldn’t give up was lovely. I enjoyed Anna’s character, I thought the choices she’d had to make as a single mum were hard ones, but she made them for the right reasons. I didn’t get however why she was so secretive about being a single mum, I started to get a little annoyed at her for this, especially when it came to Nick. Anna’s daughter Izzy was an interesting teenager and the relationship between them and Anna’s sister Teresa was definitely a supportive one, both were very lucky that Teresa was so willing to help with the responsibilities of caring for Izzy, something many other single mum’s wouldn’t have as part of their support system.

This story also highlighted some important matters, such as mental health, especially of those living in remote places, and the lack of close by support.

Another aspect was that of homelessness, especially in women over 50, which is becoming one of the biggest groups of people currently finding themselves homeless. Nick’s mother Marlene was quite a character and her homeless status was part of her own making and the lifestyle choices she’d made. It was interesting though to hear why she now said she chose to live in her car rather than go into a home and lose her independence. I loved how Anna formed a relationship with Marlene and the benefits each got from that relationship as the story developed.

I began to wonder as I neared the end if the story was going to have the happy ending I wanted it to have, there were so many secrets, misunderstandings and issues still to work through, part of me was afraid to keep reading, I do love a happy ending.

A really enjoyable read with some great characters, I will definitely look at getting my other Meredith Appleyard books read after enjoying this one so much.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for providing me a digital copy to review.

Available 18th March 2019

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Harlequin Australia