New Release Book Review: The Polly Principle by Davina Stone

The Polly PrincipleIn the second book in this series by Davina Stone, we get to meet Polly properly and learn all her quirks and hangups about life and love. Love it seems is only for other people, not for her, definitely not for her, of this, she makes it abundantly clear.

When Polly meets Solo at a wedding, a quick one night is all she is wanting, but things don’t go to plan and Polly’s world begins to be turned upside down, forcing her to feel things she doesn’t want to feel, and Polly is awfully good at denial.

I really liked Solo, and I actually felt very sorry for him when it came to his relationship, or lack thereof with Polly, due to her hangups about love, she really treats him quite badly and I don’t know that I’d have stuck around the way he did if someone blew that hot and cold with me. Obviously, he saw deep inside just what Polly was trying to hide and his feelings towards her were very strong.

Solo comes with his own issues and a past that he too needs to deal with, oh this story is a complicated web of feelings for our main characters.

Polly’s family, especially her father, plays a big part in what has shaped Polly into being who she is and how she is and with her dad’s 70th birthday coming up, we get to find out more about her past.

Polly also has a complicated relationship with her body, and on this, I can completely empathise with her. Polly has beautiful curves, but she doesn’t see them, and constantly wants to change how she looks, while self-sabotaging that at the same time. Oh, Polly, my heart was with you on this one.

This was a novel of self-discovery, for both Polly and Solo, a story of healing for them also, and for Polly’s dad Ted. A really enjoyable novel, I’m looking forward to book 3 where we get to see if Carts, Polly’s friend and Solo’s housemate finds true love.

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Ulara by Leesa Bow

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This was a really good read, with a very novel storyline. A story of travel, of soulmates, forbidden love, forbidden journey’s, secrets and ultimately finding out who you are and what you want from life; a journey of self-discovery.

I loved the way Eden and her friends went off travelling, each wanting different experiences from the trip and each having a go at what the other wanted to experience regardless of whether they thought they would enjoy it or not. It makes me want to do a lot more travelling, to go out of my comfort zone and find out what is underneath.

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One of the taglines states Even if it meant doing the one thing my father warned me not to do—enter the jungle. I wasn’t prepared for what awaited me.
And I won’t come out the same.” And that is certainly true for the journey that Eden finds herself on after meeting Samuel and deciding to hunt him down because her connection to him is that strong. While at first, I felt Eden made many mistakes after arriving in the jungle, especially when not listening to Samuel and taking what he said seriously, I felt that Eden’s growth really happened after Samuel left her there alone while he went on his own journey. But Eden isn’t the only one changed by her meeting with Samuel, Samuel is also changed and they both end up questioning where their paths are heading and if what they thought they wanted still holds true.

Samuel and Eden’s connection was on a soul level, but they both had issues they struggled with when it came to forming a relationship. I enjoyed seeing the relationship develop and morph into something deep.

I really enjoyed the portrayal of life for the Ularan tribes people, I found it fascinating and an interesting way of life. I can see why they would want to stay hidden and continue their ways. It’s a shame that the environment in which they live and survive is being decimated by the greed of humanity.

Eden’s family had some interesting dynamics, some that shift as the story progresses and some that you get more enlightenment about once Eden returns from her trip. There were some secrets uncovered which may have unknown outcomes down the track for everyone.

I can’t wait for book #2 Wild at Heart due to be released in August.

To read an excerpt click here

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AUTHOR BIO

Leesa Bow is a romance author who began her writing journey years ago when her daughter fell ill. After writing for therapy Leesa now can’t imagine doing anything else. Thankful to be following her passion for romance, she is living out her own happy ever after with her husband in Brisbane, Australia.

In her spare time Leesa enjoys watching sport, having beach days with the family, catching up for coffee with girlfriends, and taking long walks. Most importantly the cinema dates with her husband to watch all the Marvel movies.

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New Release Book Review: Forrest’s #Win by Jennifer Cody

Forrest's #WinThis was an emotional read, dealing with two friends, Forrest and Blake, who have to learn to heal after Forrest is raped and Blake feels responsible for it happening.

These guys were gorgeous, Forrest lives his life by an extremely strict schedule and Blake is paid to help him manage everything. The friendship and understanding between these two were really lovely and it made it seem very organic to move from friendship to more when down the track they are forced to look at how they interact and how they really feel about the other.

When Blake sets Forrest up with a hookup, on his request, things go very wrong, and while the scene was graphic, it was short and I think the author did a good job of conveying the terror involved whilst still being sensitive to readers (please be aware this may be a trigger). Forrest doesn’t deal with this well, as you would expect, and neither does Blake, who blames himself. Thereafter follows a long journey of counselling for both of them, I really appreciate how well Jennifer Cody navigated the whole structure of this and how they moved forward, but not always in a straight line and not always without a few backwards steps; to portray anything else would be unrealistic.

Forrest’s way of talking and behaving was what I am guessing would be on the spectrum, as such it didn’t always flow smoothly, but that is how it is meant to be, the author did a good job, I think, of depicting his quirks and different ways of thinking and behaving.

Once again, this is another novel that shows us that sexuality is on a massive spectrum and things can change and emerge over time. When the novel starts, Blake is definitely into women, while Forrest is exploring his sexuality. Blake’s one night with a girl from Forrest’s D&D game has far-reaching consequences down the track and I wasn’t completely sure about this direction of the storyline, but still found it an enjoyable part of the read.

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

New Release Book Review: A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

A Week to RememberThis is the third book I have read by Esther Campion, Leaving Ocean Road and House of Second Chances were both very enjoyable reads. This one loosely connects the characters we meet in those two books but is otherwise a complete standalone.

I enjoyed returning to the small Irish town in West Cork where Ellen and Gerry have finally opened their holiday farmhouse to visitors. It is at this farmhouse where the story takes place. 7 very different characters decide to holiday at the farmhouse in that first week. A couple whose marriage is going through something, a middle-aged dentist who has lost the joy in life, a young woman who is trying to determine what she wants from life, and a long lost resident of the town who has spent half her life running from her past.

As I got to know each of the characters and uncover their backstories and see where they were at, I got very involved in hoping that things would work out the best way for each of them. Each one in their own way is trying to determine where their lives and relationships are heading and where they went wrong along the way. It was a joy to travel with these people and see where the stay in this beautiful rugged place led them in their journeys.

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

AWW 2021

 

Pre-Release Book Review: The Alice Equation by Davina Stone

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This was such a fun, sexy read, Alice and Aaron were really enjoyable characters to get to know. Both very different in many ways, they have been best friends for years, unfortunately, Alice has been in love with Aaron for years, but he has never even thought to look at her in that way, he’s always taken it for granted that Alice, his safe, reliable friend will always be there bailing him out of whatever situation he finds himself in.

This is a friends to lovers, fake girlfriend romance, with plenty of humour. When Aaron first asked Alice to be his fake girlfriend, I really felt for her and the dilemma she found herself in. Egged on by her friend Polly who gives her some pretty good tips on how to make Aaron see her as more than just a friend, she decides to help him out, whilst hoping that just maybe, he might actually decide he wants her as his girlfriend.  

Both characters do a lot of learning about themselves as the fake relationship becomes something more and they both start to question their choices in life and take a look at themselves. Aaron has to confront some painful past and present family issues, while Alice is dropped a bombshell by her mother, another person who has taken her for granted.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sexy, fun romance set in my hometown of Perth and look forward to more by Davina Stone.

Publish date Jan 8th 2021 Preorder Amazon AU

New Release Book Review: Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh

Second Chance LaneA story of mistakes, secrets and second chances in a small town.

When is it right to make a life-changing decision for another person? This is the situation that Tash finds herself in when she discovers herself pregnant by her up-and-coming successful musician boyfriend Kody. It is a decision that has consequences years down the track not only for herself but her daughter Isla and her ex Kody when their lives are thrown back together 13 years later.

Secrets and lies, once unearthed can cause a myriad of pain and problems. I felt that Isla handled the whole finding out who her dad was remarkably well, I certainly don’t think many 13 year-olds would take it in their stride as she did. Kody on the other hand, whilst thrilled at finding out he has a daughter is furious at not knowing and missing out on 13 years of his daughter’s life but also wracked with guilt about the fact he may well never have had his career if he had known.

Kody has come to town to hide and is dealing with his own trauma before this secret is thrown on him. This was a story of healing, of coming to terms with unexpected situations and of forgiveness, for self and for others.

I thought this was an enjoyable rural romance and I loved the characters in this novel, I must go back and read book one Long Way Home so as I can read Ruby and Connor’s story. The supporting cast were really great friends to Tash and she was lucky to have had their support for the past 13 years.

It is not only Tash, Kody and Isla’s story though, it is also Jane’s story and hers is a sadder story. One of the popular girls in high school, she made a name for herself as selfish and nasty in many people’s eyes, she has a truly horrible mother, who even after finding out why she was as she was, didn’t make me like her anymore. Jane is realising that the life she has led since high school is not one conducive to happiness and she decides it’s time to make some changes. At the same time, she bumps into a guy she was at odds with back in high school and they now need to work together and navigate a potential attraction. I grew to like Jane more as the story progressed as she tried to make up for the things she had done in the past.

I liked both of the story arcs in this novel they are tackle everyday issues and realities that many face and I enjoyed seeing them all grow and change and learn from past mistakes.

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

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New Release Book Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

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I went into this novel not knowing much about it and found that it was a fabulous read, I do like it when you stumble upon a great and original read. It was a novel full of heart, of differences, of family and friends, a story with a warning about online gaming and lack of supervision of our children.

This is a novel about an atypical ‘neurodiverse’ 11-year old boy, Jackson, and his atypical family and an incident that turns their lives upside down. I found it hard to put this down. My heart was in my throat several times throughout when the incidents with his ‘friend’ Digby occurred and when he has to deal with the policewoman. Fiona has done a wonderful job of portraying these characters, especially Jackson, who I fell in love with from the start. What a wonderful young boy, but I could see and understand the toll it took on his parents at times, trying to understand his differences. I loved learning about the way Jackson’s mind worked and how this leads to some of the traumatic things that happened to him in this novel. I work with people with special needs and it is always good to get an insight into some of the issues they may have.

Jackson’s sisters, Milla and Ruby, were both amazing the way they were with him and I loved his younger sister who came out with some great comments. His dad Andy, didn’t know how to deal with him, which I found sad, but understandable, while his mum Julia, did everything she could to try and understand and work with his behaviours. I thought the way the relationship with Nana Pam changed between herself and Julia was really lovely and just shows you that when your chips are down, it can often be the people you least expect who have your back. There are a couple of secondary characters who were a wonderful support to Jackson and his family, but there were also characters in the background who because of Jackson’s differences, jumped to conclusions and made things worse for them.

This was an emotional read and a powerful one. I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a heartwarming read dealing with some important issues.

Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for providing me with a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Keeper of the Light by Leanne Lovegrove

Isn’t it funny, that even when you know a novel is going to have a happy ending, you can get to parts in the story that make you scared to read any further in case something bad happens and things don’t work out.

There were several moments during this novel where I held my breath and didn’t want to read any further, there was even one part where I had to skip ahead to make sure things would be OK, something I very very rarely do. But Leanne Lovegrove certainly had me on edge for quite a bit of this story.

I just loved Luca, the young Italian man who gets washed up on Bruny Island and awakens young and naive Esther to what love is. From the moment they meet, their lives are bound forever, but oh my God, what a journey they had, Esther especially, making it to forever.

I detested Esther’s mother and my feelings for her sister Margaret were nearly as strong. Both were horrible characters who had no redeeming features at all and I was disappointed that they didn’t get what they deserved. They disappointed Esther as well, but she was better off with them out of her life.

There were some great supporting cast members in this novel, especially the friends that Luca made in Hobart. There were also some not so likeable supporting cast members and I just can’t fathom how people can become as nasty as they do.

Racism is one theme that runs through this novel, from the outright blatant kind to the more subtle but just as insidious kind. In this case, it was racism against the Italian people who came over to forge a new life for themselves. It seems like racism is one thing that will never die, it will just shift from race to religion to anything else that makes people uncomfortable, some people will always find reasons to hate people who are different to them.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, despite the fact I couldn’t relax for half the novel because I was so worried Luca and Esther wouldn’t get their happy ever after.

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

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New Release Book Review: Transit of Angels by Desney King

IMG_20201004_174817.jpgThis novel was exquisite in every way, the language and imagery drew me in and led me along on a beautiful journey, where the landscape and settings were as clear as if I were there myself. Desney King’s writing is like poetry and conveys so much depth.

This is far more than just a story of grief, I went into this novel knowing very little about it and I had no idea the journey I was about to be taken on or how deep this novel would prove to be.  

My journey with Angel was a powerfully moving one, I didn’t want to break the connection, even wandering along the beach at a determinedly slow pace so that I could continue to read as I walked.

From the very start, this novel had me in tears and by the end, I’d been through every emotion I can think of. The tears came on and off completely unexpectedly at times and near the end, I felt I was about to have my heart ripped out again.

I loved Angel, as she dealt with her grief, and as she explored what happens to us after death, as she looked for signs and asked is there still a connection to our loved ones? I loved how she used art to help her heal, being an Art Therapist I know how powerful a tool this can be. And how she allowed the quaint mudbrick cottage on the river to help heal her. 

So much of the spiritual nature of this novel spoke to me, many of the ideas that Angel learns about are the very things I’ve been searching for and dabbling in for nearly 20 years. Maybe this book is a message for me to take up the search again.

The cast of characters that help Angel through her loss were wonderful, all with their own painful pasts and secrets, all who have learnt or are still learning to move on with life. I especially loved Clyde, an older gentleman who becomes a friend and a great source for Angel to learn about the spiritual realm. There were also characters who weren’t so nice, who were judgemental and unsupportive, but even these people have lessons for Angel to learn.

This is a novel that will stay with me, and one that I will revisit again in the not distant future.

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

Release date for this novel is 19th October 2020.

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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.