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.

Preorder now Booktopia AU   Bookdepository    Amazon AU    Amazon US    Amazon UK

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.

New Release Book Review: Wherever You Go by Monique Mulligan

This was a wonderful story by West Australian author Monique Mulligan, set in the fictional town of Blackwood, which is based on a real town in the southwest, she has done a great job of depicting the setting and made me want to take a visit down there soon.

This is a story of tragedy, grief, friendship, love and hope. It is a story about life and how it can be a struggle to go on after a loss and the toll such a loss can take on a marriage.

The characters in Wherever You Go are very real and flawed people who have both good and bad points, just like us. Amy and Matt decide to move to Blackwood after having tried to move on with life for the past three years, they hope the move will give them a fresh start and a chance to work on their marriage. I connected more with Matt throughout the story, I really felt his struggle and my heart cried for him and the strength he had in trying to keep Amy together while not being able to grieve or fall apart himself.

The friendships they make in their new town become very important, filling spaces they weren’t even aware were empty. I really liked the majority of the supporting characters, Bonnie, Irene and young Ashlee, as well as Frank, June and Nick and Devi. I can’t say I took to Sharon or Una at all, but to behave the way they did made me think they must be very unhappy with their own lives.

I loved the idea of the Around the World Supper Club and would love to join one myself, though I definitely wouldn’t be the one cooking. Food is a very important part of the story, it is the way Amy shows the people around her she cares, and the only way she knows to bring people together. I’d visit her Cafe for sure if it actually existed, her food sounded divine and that’s from a non-foodie.

I was fully invested in seeing how the relationship between Matt and Amy played out, and there were a few emotional moments while I was reading.

I look forward to hearing more about these characters in the next Around the World Supper Club novel.

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

New Release Book Review: A Letter for Rosie by Kelly Cameron

A Letter for RosieThis three-generational tale crossing three timelines and coming together beautifully is a story of family and survival on the land.

Starting in 1902 and ending in 2016, we meet Edward & Irene, Nancy & Frank, Samuel & Laine, and finally Chad & Rose. Four couples and three generations working hard to make a living on Buttai, the family farm.

I have to say I found it a little confusing to start with, keeping all the characters and the years clear in my head, but as I kept reading, I needed to flick back less and less to remember where everyone fit in.

There are a few tragedies a relative you’d rather forget, the struggles of motherhood, the struggle to make ends meet, and the joys of family. I really loved Edward as the spirit only a few could see.  

Kelly Cameron does a good job of weaving together the different threads of this story, she brings in the need for family and community and the necessity of the rural firefighters in this often harsh country of ours. The characters were relatable, though I got a bit annoyed with Rose and her decision to keep the financial struggles to herself and not share the burden with Chad. And then when a threat is made, she keeps that to herself too, I wanted to shake her.

Being able to keep a farm going that has been in the family for generations like Buttai, would be a wonderful thing as well as a burden I imagine, especially in the present day. I take my hat off to all the farmers out there doing it tough for the love of the land.

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

 

 

New Release Book Review: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

mdeThis was a beautifully written and powerfully emotive novel for me. This was another of the rare type of book which really makes me slow down and absorb every word of. This gave me the same kind of feeling as recently read The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle. There is something in the way these stories are written that draws me in and speaks to a deep part of me.

There were some really beautiful passages that spoke of the plight of our environment and the part we as humans have played in its destruction.

I asked Niall once what he thought happened to us after we die, and he said nothing, only decomposition, only evaporation. I asked him what he thought it meant for our lives, for how we spend them, for what they mean. He said our lives mean nothing except of the cycle of regeneration, that we are incomprehensibly brief sparks, just as the animals are, that we are no more important than they are, no more worthy of life than any living creature. That in our self-importance, in our search for meaning, we have forgotten how to share the planet that gave us life.

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We are a plague on the world, my husband often says.                                                                            Today there is a huge landmass to our left, and it surprises me because there is no land on the chart I’ve been studying. As we draw close enough to see, I realise that it’s an enormous island of plastic, and there are fish and seabirds and seals dead upon its shore.

It is set in a time that might not be far off if the world continues the way it has.

It is a story of deep love, hope, grief, despair, of unspeakable loss, and of searching for that elusive thing. The story is about Franny Stone, she is lost and broken and separated from the love of her life Niall. She is on a mission, to follow the last of the Arctic Terns on what may be their last migration. The birds are just incredible in the journey they make from one end of the earth to the other, an innate knowing that they follow to get there.

The story jumps from the here and now to moments in the past, 12 years ago, 4 years ago, and a few other important snippets in between. We uncover the love story between Niall and Franny, a deep, deep love, but one with flaws and heartbreak, we uncover the story of Franny’s past and we learn of the extinction of just about every animal, bird and fish species on the planet.

There is an event that happened 4 years before, an event that was devastating in some way and ended in tragedy and jail time for Franny, this is slowly uncovered as we read, but it is not until the final chapter that the complete story is finally revealed and we truly find out exactly what happened, it was not something I had been able to guess at the whole way through. To say the ending threw me into all kinds of emotions is an understatement.

Franny manages to get a ride on one of the last fishing vessels operating in the world. The crew are an interesting bunch of people, all have chosen that life for different reasons, all are afraid of what is going to happen now that there are literally no (very few) fish left in our oceans. Denial though is still a part of these people’s lives, just like the many people in denial about climate change and the loss of our environment and animals.

I loved this novel, and it touched me deeply and had some important messages contained within.

Thanks to Better Reading Previews for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Her Last Words by Kim Kelly.

her last wordsI have sat with this review for a week because I just didn’t know what to write about this wonderful new novel by Kim Kelly. Every novel she writes is so distinct from the previous ones, it is always a delight to open up her book and see the words she has written transform into something wonderful. Once again this novel is entirely different, both in the way the story is told and the story itself. It is many things, a crime novel, a love story, an insight into the publishing world, a search for redemption, a story of grief.

The inspiration for this novel came from a very sad and personal experience of the authors. Also, knowing some of the author’s background as a writer and book editor working in the publishing industry for over 20 years, Penny’s journey as a commissioning editor deciding if she wants to remain in an industry, such as the big publishing world has become, has a definite personal feel to it.

Throughout the story, there are many serendipitous moments that are seemingly unconnected to each other but show the ‘small world effect’ where things are interconnected in ways we may never fully be aware of. Though some of these moments seem most unlikely or too serendipitous, I loved them all the more for this reason and I loved how they were woven into the story.

There are 6 main characters in this novel, though one, Thisbe, who is murdered at the start of the novel, is the catalyst for the things that transpire for the other characters. I loved all the characters, except Jane, I hoped with everything I had that she would get what she deserved by the end of the story. I was easily able to understand or empathise with the rest of the characters and loved being part of their journey, I wanted to be there for them for the ups and the downs, the triumphs and the defeats.

There were many moments in this story that spoke to me and many lines I highlighted to read again.

He’d always thought the idea of sticks and stones breaking bones but names never hurting was stupid, especially after he’d banjaxed his ankle at eighteen playing football, and three months later his very first girlfriend was telling him,‘ I do like you, but I don’t want to go out with you anymore. You’re too weird.’ He could say then, definitively, that words hurt worse. Bones heal, don’t they, and a bit of physical incapacitation is always a good excuse for more reading; good for reassessing that career as a world-famous midfielder you were never going to have, too. But words hang in the air forever; they write themselves onto your soul so that when you least expect it, they return, their power undiminished.

I could empathise completely with John’s struggle with depression and the description the author uses to describe depression was so apt for me personally.

Depression is an eel that slips between the ribs unnoticed until it’s feeding on your heart. It darts between circumstantial sense – the relationship between bad things happening and bad feelings had – and the shark shadows of every nightmarish dream, every unnameable, aching need.

And lastly, Penny and I are on the same wavelength with this quote.

‘If I’ve enjoyed a book, the last thing I want to do is see the movie. Breach of copyright on the one I’ve already made on my own – always a poor ripoff.’

This was a wonderful novel that brought out many emotions and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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