New Release Book Review : The Painting by Alison Booth

img_20210606_142209I couldn’t put this book down, it drew me in completely, the descriptive writing was well done, and had me able to imagine the people and places where this story took place, as well as being able to see ‘The Painting’ that Anikar loves and which causes so much drama for her and those around her. 

This novel had two aspects I enjoy, a good mystery and history written in a way I can appreciate, empathise and learn from. I love learning as I read. Set in 1989, in Sydney, Anika, who immigrated from Hungary 5 years previously, during the time of the Soviet Union, the Berlin Wall and all that came with it, has escaped a past she tries to forget, but which is a constant in her life, from tapped telephone calls to her family, memories of being arrested by the secret police and a constant distrust of letting people in. I admit to not knowing as much as I feel I should about this time in history and I appreciate novels that can give me insight into this time and place, I was 14 in 1989 and I new next to nothing about what was going on on the other side of the world, and what people had to endure during this time. 

When Anika left Hungary to live with her aunt Tabilla, who had escaped over the border into Austria many years before, after the death of her husband and immigrated to Australia, she brings with her a painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress, that was once her uncle’s posession. This painting is the catalyst for everything that happens; secrets, lies, theft and distrust, as Anika’s life is thrown into the centre of a mystery about where the painting came from, who owns it and who is telling the truth. Anika starts to doubt everything her parents and her grandmother have told her about the painting as questions about it’s providence arise, it is stolen, and someone discloses a secret from his past. 

I could really feel Anika’s struggle as she meets the three men that will turn her world around. Daniel, a curator from the art gallery of NSW, who offer’s to help her get the painting valued, but who also seems interested in her as a person, Jonno, who she meets at the art gallery who doesn’t seem trustworthy and turns out to be a jounalist, and Julius, a friend of her aunt’s, an art collector, who is more than a little weirded out when he sees the painting. Anika already struggles to trust people and open up to them and when the painting it stolen, she doesn’t know who to trust, each man seems to have a motive and each one is suspious in his behaviour in some way. I myself wasn’t sure who could be trusted and though I initially liked Daniel, I wasn’t completely sure about him. 

Things that come to light after the painting is stolen,  the history of the Nazi’s and the Russian’s looting and stealing art works, and her own families secretiveness around the painting, cause Anika a great deal of stress and when the Iron Curtain falls and she is able to return safely to Hungary to visit her parents, she goes determined to uncover the mystery and get some answers. 

It is during this trip that she also learns to trust and to heal and right one of the wrongs of the past. 

This paragraph from near the end of the novel really spoke to me:

“Her thoughts floated free. Free of drag, free of resistance, and she felt an expanding sense of detachment. Not only was she seeing the earth from a different vantage point but she was seeing her life in a new way too. Generations of her family had been scarred by upheavals, and their stories where multiplied millions and millions of times all over the globe. Everywhere there were people like them. Damaged people, displaced people. But there were survivors too.”

This was a fabulous read and I will be looking to catch up on this authors backlist if this book is anything to go by, I am sure I will enjoy them. 

 

New Release Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

The last book of Jane Harper’s, The Lost Man was a 5⭐ read for me, as was her first book The Dry, I haven’t read Force of Nature, but I’m going to guess it’ll be up there in the ratings. Her newest novel certainly didn’t disappoint, in fact, I think this is my favourite yet. If I didn’t get so tired in the evening and work didn’t get in the way, I think I’d have ploughed through this novel in one sitting.

I don’t read a lot of the mystery/crime/thriller genre, but this is one author whose books will be on my go-to list.

Set in Tasmania, as so many books have been this year, the setting is a small town on the coast, this was a departure from the stark, dry outback.

This novel had me guessing until nearly the very end who had done it and why, and I didn’t guess either right. Jane Harper is very good at delivering red-herrings, with twists and turns coming at you from every angle.

It starts with a crime the night we meet our characters, but it weaves in an accident and an unsolved crime from 12 years before. There are plenty of guilty seeming characters, though a motive is never really established, you still believe they could possibly be guilty.

As with all small towns, there’s plenty of gossip and secrets that come out of the woodwork when something terrible happens and fingers are pointed in every direction, which says small towns haven’t always got each other’s backs.

This was a great read with an ending I wasn’t expecting.

Thanks to NetGalley and PanMacMillan for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

Book Bingo 2020 Round 1: Themes of Crime and Justice

FB_IMG_1576969010534This is the first post for Book Bingo 2020 hosted by Theresa Smith Writes & Mrs B’s Book Reviews & The Book Muse

 

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This round I am crossing off the square Themes of Crime and Justice and I am using the book Dead Again by Sandi Wallace. 

This is a great crime novel and is book 2 in the Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey series, it can be read as a standalone, but for best enjoyment, I would read book 1 first. Read my review for Dead Again here.

#BookBingo2020

 

Book Review: Dead Again by Sandi Wallace

This is my #AWW2020 book #2 and I’m also joining in the Backlist Book Challenge which Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews alerted me about,  so this is my first book in #20backlistin2020.

IMG_20200109_210413I’ve had this book, Dead Again by Sandi Wallace (Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey #2) out of my library for 6 months, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have had it sitting next to my bed. I don’t know why I finally picked it up now, but I’m very glad I did as it was so good, I had trouble putting it down to go to sleep each evening. It was a ‘one more chapter’ book, but because the chapters are nice and short, I’d think, well maybe just one more.

Considering the fires all over our country right now, it was also quite a fitting read being about the aftermath of a terrible wildfire in Victoria 2 years beforehand and the search for the truth about those fires. I didn’t know this before starting reading as I didn’t read the blurb, I had it out because I read book one in 2018 and really enjoyed it. I’m now waiting for the library to get hold of book 3 for me.

In this novel, Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey is on an assignment in the small rural town of Bullock 2 years after wildfires tragically nearly wiped out the town and killed 46 people. She is there to find a story, but she finds more than she bargained for. This novel asks the questions what are the long term after-effects of a tragedy like this on the people and the town? Should people rebuild in such an area? And why would they want to? It also asks the question if it is arson and the person is caught, what would justice look like for a crime like this?

As Georgie gets to know the people in the town and builds trust with several of the characters, she starts to uncover a mystery about a missing man, is he missing or is he dead, and if he is missing, then why? Her investigation leads her to work with police officer John Harvey from Daylesford, who we met in book 1 and who Georgie had an emotional connection with. This book takes place 8 months after book 1, and that connection is still there for both of them, but can anything come of it this time since Georgie is still in a relationship. For me, a big part of my enjoyment of this book was the connection between these two characters and the relationship and banter that builds between them. I can’t wait until book 3 now to find out where this possible relationship goes.

Franklin has his own issues in his town, with vagrants, vandalism, and break-ins to investigate as well as a love triangle that may prove dangerous to all involved.

The characters are all very real and very Aussie and I could relate to many of them and see the behaviours of others as very understandable, both the good and the bad.

I really loved meeting Georgie, Fraklin and his daughter Kat, as well as the other police officers from Daylesford. I wasn’t really a fan of Georgie’s partner AJ in books 1 and that didn’t change in book 2, I admit to having my fingers crossed the whole time that they would break up.

There was plenty of intrigue and twists and turns to keep me interested throughout this novel, and I enjoyed it even more than book 1. This can be read as a standalone, but for your enjoyment, I’d read book 1 first.

You may see this book pop up again in one or more of my challenges this year as there are a few crossovers.

Goodreads                 Author Facebook                 Website               Paperback

FB_IMG_1577105032228  #AWW2020 2/50

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.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

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Book Review: Deadly Wipeout by Beth Prentice

Screenshot_20190815_194425Deadly wipeout is part of the Aloha Lagoon series, a series of books written by different authors but set on the same island. Beth currently has two books in this series, book 3 Deadly Wipeout and book 10 Lethal Tide and book 15 Fatal Break, which will be out next week.

Beth’s Aloha Lagoon stories are focused around the quirky character of Samantha Reynolds who has a tendency for getting herself into trouble. This was a fun read, with some good laughs and a dose of intrigue.

I had to laugh straight up when Samantha goes to a job interview as a surf instructor and has absolutely no idea what she is doing, lol, it’s something like I might do myself, in at the deep end and all that jazz.

On Samantha’s first day, a body washes up in the surf and she is drawn into a murder mystery that sees her putting herself in danger while uncovering secrets and trying to clear the names of those closest to her.

I loved the cast of characters who are part of Aloha Lagoon and who welcome Samantha to the island. There’s hunky British bartender Casey, who I’m totally in love with, what a hunny he is. Then there’s fabulous new best friend Alani who owns the surf shop. Samantha’s brother Luke is a great brother even if he can be moody at times. Alani’s grandmother is good fun and I enjoy the scenes she is in while the girls are gathering information (or is that gossip).

The bad guys are not very nice at all, and really, they aren’t overly smart either. But they can be dangerous. There is plenty of intrigue as the murder is uncovered.

I really enjoyed my first visit to Aloha Lagoon Resort and am going back to visit Samantha and co tonight with Lethal Tide. If I could I’d consider moving there for the perfect weather alone. I am concerned about the murder rate however.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Aloha Lagoon Boxset books 1-5 Amazon AU

Aloha Lagoon Boxset books 1-3 Amazon US

Beth Prentice Website

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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.

Amazon AU

Amazon US

HarperCollins

Author Website