New Release Book Review: Our Own Private Fig Tree by Rania Battany

IMG_20210930_173447After reading Rania Battany’s Fleeting Moments two years ago, and her subsequent novels, I knew this book would pull at the heartstrings. As well, it encouraged me to look both inside and outside of myself and think about the different cultures and rules we live by in our society.

This was a brilliantly written novel that explored the importance of culture, and the expectations that families can put on their children to conform to that culture, even if they now live in a different country.

It also celebrated differences in culture. The music, the food, the big family celebrations, the support from large families when tragedy happens, and the way it can give us our identity.

It is a story of two teenagers, Caleb, ‘white boy’, an Australian and Samira, a Lebanese girl, who live across the road from each other, fall in love and have to hide this from everyone because it wouldn’t be acceptable, especially from Samira’s families perspective.

But it is more than a story of forbidden love, it’s a story of true love and how to be true to that love if society’s rules and cultural rules say it’s wrong.

There is a tragedy that nearly destroys a family and separates these two for nearly a decade. When they meet again, nothing has changed, both between them and with Samira’s family expectations. There are secrets that have been kept for decades that come out that cause Caleb to take a look at who he is and his identity, it also helps him see that if he wants a life with Samira, he must fight to gain acceptance in her world, and convince her he is worth the risk. History could be repeated or they could forge a new path, one that combines their cultures and their families.

I really did love this novel, it had everything in it I needed to make it a wonderful read. I loved all of the characters and their differences, I especially loved Jim who was such a special person in the lives of so many and in the choices he made for love.

I went to school with a fair few Greeks, Italians, Malays and various other cultures, but I never really thought about how different their home lives, or their parents’ backgrounds might be. I wonder now, did they feel some of the same expectations on them that Samira did in this novel. Were there expectations that they would choose a partner from the same cultural background, work in a certain job, marry and have children? Did they fight against those cultural expectations or roll with them so as not to upset their families? So many things to consider that I wasn’t even aware of 20+ years ago.

This is a story full of warmth, heartache, acceptance and love. It is about learning about our identities, respecting our cultures, but learning to combine those cultures to take what works from each one and make it something even better.

In this multicultural world, we live in, this is important because there are many more cultures sharing this land we call home, cultures will become blended, but we still need to be able to hold on to the heart of that culture while finding the path that works towards a future for all.

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

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New Release Book Review: The Bachelor Bargain by Maddison Michaels

The Bachelor Bargain (Secrets, Scandals, and Spies, #1)I’m not a big historical romance reader, but I love Maddison Michaels novels and was excited to get a copy of her new novel Bachelor Bargain to read.

Bachelor Bargain didn’t disappoint, it was a great read with two main characters I really enjoyed getting to know. Lady Olivia Haliford (Livie) is a smart, determined and tough young lady who wants justice for her friend’s demise and will go to whatever lengths necessary to get them.

Sebastian Colver, The Bastard of Baker Street is a feared individual and for good reason. He is also a good man, one who cares greatly about others, though he has trust issues even with those in his inner circle, and hides behind his reputation.

Olivia decides it is his help she needs to finance her paper which will call out no good bachelors and enable her to find the man responsible for her friend’s death.

I loved the interaction between these two, both from totally different backgrounds, neither of them were prepared for the other in more ways than one. Sebastian certainly didn’t expect to catch feelings for this beautiful, strong young woman who put herself in danger in her pursuit of justice far too many times for his liking. Olivia is also not happy about her attraction to Sebastian, but no matter what happens, these two can’t fight the chemistry that is between them.

There was plenty of wheeling and dealing, twists galore, humour and of course romance and this novel kept me reading well past my bedtime.

Thank you to Entangled: Amara Publishing and NetGalley for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

AWW 2021

 

New Release Book Review: The Jam Queen’s by Josephine Moon

The jam queensI thoroughly enjoyed Josephine Moon’s previous novel The Cake Maker’s Wish, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new novel The Jam Queen’s and this novel did not disappoint. At nearly 400 pages, I read it well into the night two nights running because I just had to know how this group of five women (Dolce being an honourary family member), faired from their trip away together.

With secrets galore, clashing and challenging personalities, traumas, romance and more this made for a fabulous read. Josephine manages to cover several topical issues, IVF, grief, transgender issues, still-birth, US shootings and a few others, but they all fill this story in a very organic way.

The personalities of Great Aunt Myrtle, Valeria, Holly, Dolce and Aggie were all so different, some more likeable than others, and they all had lessons to learn and demons to slay if they wanted to move on with their lives.

I really liked Harry, the younger man who is also taking a trip on the Ghan at the same time as Aggies and her family, there was something about him that drew me to him, I can understand the pull Aggie felt towards him when she first saw him and then actually met him. I really enjoyed the relationship between the two and held onto hope all the way to the end that things would work between them and it wouldn’t just be a fleeting romance. There was so much going on in Aggie’s life though, that I couldn’t be sure that my hopes would be met.

I wasn’t a fan of Valeria, Aggie’s mother, though I did feel sorry for her at times, to be that judgemental towards people would take a great deal of effort I imagine. Great Aunt Myrtle was a great character and I enjoyed her interactions with everyone.

Jam making was an interesting topic to learn about and I loved how much love they poured into the making of it. I was surprised at the passion and competitiveness between the family members, especially Valeria.

I absolutely enjoyed this novel and the Ghan trip through the outback definitely put itself firmly onto my bucket list.

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

AWW 2021

New Release Book Review: Unseen by Cassie Laelyn

This was book 3 in the Fallen Guardians series and while it was clear that I was missing out on a lot of background information during the first chapter, I was easily able to catch up with the story after that initial chapter and now I can’t wait for the next book to be released.

I loved tortured EJ, the guardian who gets visions of events he can’t change, things that torture him because of this. When he starts getting visions of Hailee, he’s in complete denial for a time about what it could mean.

Hailee was a good character, I thought she took everything in her stride, way better than I’d have taken things if I’d found out I was immortal and someone was trying to kill me.

The relationship between Hailee and EJ was sweet and sexy and I enjoyed getting to know them.

Good verse evil is a major theme in this story, as well as trust, in self and others.

I can’t wait to see how the war between the Fallen and the guardians plays out, and what Fate has in store for everyone.

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

New Release Book Review: Beneath the Fear by Leah Ashton

Beneath the FearThis is book 4 in the Elite SWAT series set in WA and should definitely be read as part of the series for maximum enjoyment.

I enjoyed this newest book in the Elite SWAT series, each one has been a great read, but this one is grittier and sexier than the others.

This one centres around the Notechi motorcycle club who hasbeen causing some issues around town. Claudia is the main character who is unfortunately involved in the club and desperately needs to get out after the guy she was with is now dead.

Noah is undercover at the club as Jed, a fighter who needs to prove that he belongs.

The chemistry between these two was immediate, and so was the trouble that that chemistry caused. Despite it not being the smartest thing, the chemistry between these two is too much for either of them to not take some big risks.

This was once again a fast-paced read that kept me turning pages to see if they’d both escape the club, at the same time as hoping they’d be able to bring it down.

I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series.

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

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Book Review: The Game of Love by Libby M Iriks

the game of loveThis was a really lovely second-chance romance novella by local West Australian author Libby M Iriks. Set in Rockingham a coastal suburb just south of Perth, Libby uses the local activities and environment to help her characters come together.

Alyssa has put her career on hold and returned home from living over East for the past 10 years. She is struggling with a not so hopeful medical issue that is going to require treatment and has returned so her family can support her. The very last thing she is thinking of is romance, especially with an old friend from her teenage years.

Dean is a happy-go-lucky guy who plays the field and has absolutely no intention of finding ‘the one’ of falling in love and settling down. When he literally bumps into Alyssa both of these characters will have their plans for the future knocked on their heads.

I loved these two characters and really enjoyed the friendship that formed between them, I loved all the experiences they did together, especially the skydiving, which is one of my favourite experiences ever, though I did mine in Jurien Bay, not Rockingham, I can still picture what it was like to be free-falling over the ocean like they did.

Both of these characters second-guess themselves and what they are doing more than once, and both need to learn to open up and talk to each other and share what they are thinking and feeling and what they have been through if they are ever to make a go of having a future together.

An enjoyable read for a lazy afternoon. You can get your copy for free by subscribing to Libby M Iriks newsletter here.

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New Release Book Review: Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews

Nothing but troubleThis is the third book in the Credence, Colorado series, I read Nothing But Trouble (#1) this time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it came as no surprise that this was just as enjoyable.

Asking For Trouble deals with the repercussions of domestic abuse, by a parent and by a husband.

Della has lived in Credence for the past 3 years, ever since her brother Wade, the local cop rescued her. She’s spent her time getting her life together and sitting at Tucker’s bar learning to feel safe and learning about friends.

Tucker is Wade’s best mate and as such feels obligated to protect Della and help her in any way he can. Being her wingman as she learns to date probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

I really loved these two, their friendship which starts with Tucker giving Della and then getting roped into being her wingman as she goes on Tinder dates, slowly grows into something more.

Della tasks Tucker with teaching her about her sexuality, and she couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Tucker is the kind of guy every girl dreams of. He’s gorgeous, attentive, and protective, but he has hangups about how he feels about Della, his age, his friendship with her brother and her past. Watching these two explore each other and their feelings was all kinds of fun. And hoping they can both get their acts together and decide how they truly feel about each other was fun too.

Della certainly comes into her own as the story progresses and that’s no small thanks to Tucker. But also to her friends and Rosemary, one of the residents the old people’s home she works at. Rosemary is just an absolute hoot and she certainly teaches Della a thing or two, probably more than Della wished to know.

A great read with a happy ending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

#AWW2020    30/50

 

 

New Release Book Review: Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Aria's Travelling Book ShopOh, I simply loved this book, last year Rebecca Raisin released Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop which I absolutely loved too and it made me want to up and travel in my own van. In Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop we met Aria who became Rosie’s best friend and who has a travelling book shop called the Little Bookshop of Happy Ever After, which I absolutely love, isn’t that a fabulous name! Aria’s bookshop van is one of my dreams. We also met Max who has a green food van and is in love with Rosie (the feeling is quite mutual).

This time Aria, Rosie and Max are off to France to travel to the many different fairs and events. I absolutely adored my time travelling with these three and even though I haven’t been to the places they visit, Rebecca Raisin does such a good job of describing them, I could see myself there.

Aria is a widow and has sworn off love, she promised her husband TJ that she would never fall in love again. Aria has a connection with a man she met briefly the summer before, Jonathan, who pops back into her life just as she is leaving the UK. This sets Aria off on an emotional journey of discovering what it is she wants and needs in her life and is a promise she made to her dying husband one she should keep or does she need to move on to be happy. I could really feel how torn Aria was about her feelings towards TJ and towards Jonathan, add to that unresolved issues with her mother-in-law and Aria’s confusion is palpable.

I loved the character of Jonathan who keeps popping up in Aria’s life on her travels through France and I was so hoping Aria could come to terms with her situation and allow herself to fall in love again. There are several scenes between Jonathan and Aria that provided me with a good giggle, Aria’s character can be hilarious at times.

I kept saying I was going to put this book down as the clock ticked closer to 11pm, but in the end, I had to keep reading and discover how it all turned out.

There was of course, the unlikeable character, Tori, who I don’t remember from the first book, but I’m pretty sure if I did I would have disliked her just as much as I did in this book. She’s one of those people out to cause trouble for anyone who might have something she doesn’t.  

It was wonderful to reconnect with Rosie and Max again, I simply love their characters and I love the friendship they both have with Aria, they are each other’s family as well as best friends. The support they give each other throughout the story is completely real and their friendship provided me with lots of laughs, they are all such different kinds of characters but they work so well together. 

I absolutely invite you to take a journey with Aria and her friends and I really hope there is more to come from this group of van-lifers.

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

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New Release Book Review: Midwife in the Jungle by Fiona McArthur

Midwife in the JungleHappy release day to Fiona McArthur. I really enjoyed this romance novella, at just under 200 pages, it was the perfect escapist read I needed with all the things that are going on at the moment. For a shortish read, Fiona McArthur has managed to fit a lot into her newest story.

Our leading man is a sexy young doctor, Jonah, who works in Papua New Guinea for Missions Pacific, not an easy job or a very safe one. He’s lost family to this dangerous place but feels he is needed there, it has also made him decide never to love someone because it is no place for a family.

Our leading lady, Jacinta, is an overachieving doctor as Director of Emergency in a busy hospital in Sydney who has no time for anything other than work and volunteering at a teenage refuge.

When Jonah is brought into Jacinta’s emergency ward with malaria, sparks fly between the two of them, they alternate between annoyance and sexual chemistry and neither one is too impressed. There’s something about Jonah and his job that calls to Jacinta and she decides to follow this unexpected man and the call for adventure and heads to PNG to volunteer.

Both of these characters have troubled pasts, and they play a big part in who they are and the decisions they make. There is plenty of action, danger, intrigue, romance and chemistry that keeps this story moving along at a fast pace. I’m not sure that the jungles of PNG would be the kind of place I would choose to go, but with the differences they can make to these people’s lives I can certainly see what would lead these characters there.

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

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#AWW2020  22/50

New Release Book Review: Spring at Lake Grange by Eliza Bennetts

Spring at Lake Grange

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, I love the fact that the women are over 40, are strong women and are still able to find their happily ever after.

This one especially ticked all my boxes due to its abundance of inclusion from so many aspects of our society.

I really loved our main female character Maria, we were introduced to her in book 3, Winter in Mason Valley and it was lovely to see her get her own story. She’s such a positive, sassy, sexy lady and I loved that she really seemed to know who she was.

Ethan was a different kind of character altogether, described as socially inept and he certainly was that, part of it came from his upbringing, and lack of positive role models and lack of relationships formed when he was young, but part of me continued to feel that he seemed to be on the autism spectrum, whether this is because I work in this industry or not, I don’t know, but I liked that this man, who had so many social issues, was still able to find ‘the one’ and form a meaningful relationship. I did find myself rolling my eyes many many times at Ethan’s complete inability to understand feelings and felt sad that he thought feelings were to be avoided at all costs.

I liked Maria’s whole family, her brothers were both good characters and I especially loved her brother Steven and I thought it was very brave and right of him to decide it was time for him to be happy and to be truthful to his family no matter the fallout, in order to be true to himself. I loved how wonderful Maria’s relationship was with Steven and how she had his back completely.

There was so much to like about this novel, it was a story of family, of inclusiveness, of figuring out who you really were and what you really wanted, a story of coming to terms with what life has dealt you and loving those around you for who they are no matter what. I definitely ended this novel feeling good for all the characters involved and knowing that they would all be travelling happily ever after.

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#AWW2020 19/50