Wednesday 10 July 2024

Book Review: Outrider by Mark Wales



Mark Wales

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 25th June 2024
Genre: Thriller / Military / Dystopian
Pages: 368
RRP: $34.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Outrider

Australia has a new hero! Jack Dunne - Soldier, Father, Survivor.
I will start this review with a little insight into the author, Mark Wales. Mark is a former troop commander with the SAS and 2 x survivor contestant and 1 x winner of Survivor Australia. Great credentials to be writing a book that entails warfare and the fight to survive.

Outrider is a highly imaginative and gripping story featuring a dystopian Australia. It's 2034, Victoria and parts of SA, NT & WA have been invaded by the Chinese Communist Party. Jack Dunne is an Outrider, one of three highly trained operatives, and the Resistance's only hope of curtailing the Chinese invasion of the Hill. The Hill is an outposting in Victoria with Resistance fighters warding off the CCP's further invasion into Australia.

I found Outrider to be a powerful and haunting tale of a future Australia where a civil war has broken out between the resistance and those supporting the CCP.

The fighting scenes are quite graphic, so not for the squeamish. Wales' writing is very technical,  he knows his weapons, and there are lots of initials, acronyms and armory details which may be a bit confusing if you haven't read military thrillers before.

Wales pulls on his experience as a former troop commander with the SAS to deliver a tense and atmospheric thriller rich in strategic military scenarios and weapons beyond my comprehension.

I raced through the last third of the book - that's what I want - fast paced and tense - edge of your seat stuff.
I would have liked more on what the Chinese were doing in Australia and how they breached our defenses.

An underlying theme of a loving father / son relationship was a nice sideline to the blood and gore.
After reading Mark's fictional debut 'Outrider' I am keen to read his memoir 'Survivor: life in the SAS published in 2021.

Recommended for readers of Tom Clancy.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday 9 July 2024

Book Review: A Love Letter to Paris by Rebecca Raisin

A Love Letter to Paris


Rebecca Raisin

Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication date: 8th July 2024
Genre: Romance / RomCom
Pages: 266
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Rachel's Random Resources.

Review: A Love Letter to Paris

Lilou Babineaux is a lover of letters and the written word. She collects old love letters and diaries that are unearthed in estate sales and sells them at her market stall.
Worried that the art of hand written letters of love are becoming obsolete now that we use email Lilou starts a dating site, Paris Cupid, that states that the matched couples must first get to know each other by exchanging letters.
A Love Letter to Paris is such a fun read. I'm new to Rebecca Raisin's writing and after just one book she is firmly on my must read list.
I loved this light, funny and sweet slow burn romance. A sweet female lead who has had a few bad dating experiences and a moody male lead. A Love Letter to Paris has grumpy meets sunshine vibes. A couple of other love interests are thrown into the mix which makes for some fun exchanges.
Lilou's friend Genevieve stole the show. How can you not love an older female character who is sexy, fun and confident in her own skin.

A Love Letter to Paris is perfect if you are after something light, fun and positive. It's a real feel-good read. The perfect armchair travel story. I loved travelling around Paris with Lilou.
I enjoyed the the inclusion of excerpts from old letters and diaries.  

My rating 5/ 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday 7 July 2024

Book Review: Spring Clean for the Peach Queen by Sasha Wasley

 Spring Clean for the Peach Queen


Sasha Wasley

Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication date: 30th March 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction 
Pages: 471
Source: Own purchase

Review: Spring Clean for the Peach Queen

I read this as part of the Dymocks Reading Challenge 2024 and I'm so pleased the challenge made me pick this book up and read it.
It's been twelve years since Lottie Bentz, the last reigning Peach Queen, has been to her home town of Bonnievale. Bonnievale is known for its wonderful peach orchards.
After a major scandal, a tanked career and a dead boyfriend, Lottie returns home. She is ready to give it all away; the thousands of followers, the acting dream, the make-up and the lies. She is spring cleaning her life, Marie Kondo style.
I loved this moving story! Lottie is easy to like as we never see the old selfish, superficial Charlize (Lottie's professional name). She is trying her best to turn over a new leaf.
It's very surprising to see who in the town supports her, happy to leave her past in the past, and those who don't.
Love interest Angus is gruff and distant. He had been through some hard times of his own and was currently working the orchard and caring for his mum who was slipping into dementia.
It was fun watching the bright and sunny Lottie get under his skin.
If you like heartfelt contemporary fiction about love, redemption and community with a sweet touch of romance Spring Clean for the Peach Queen will not disappoint. 
Spring Clean for the Peach Queen is a story about community, country towns, working together and finding your true self. A wonderful read filled with heart and humour.
My rating 4.5 / 5 🍑🍑🍑🍑½ 


Friday 5 July 2024

Book Review: Wallaby Lane by Maya Linnell

 Wallaby Lane


Maya Linnell

Publisher: Allen & Unwin Australia
Publication date: 4th June 2024
Genre: Rural Romance
Pages: 400
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Wallaby Lane

Wallaby Lane is Maya Linnell's sixth novel, however it is the first one I have read. And yes, the others are all sitting on my shelf waiting to be read.
Lauren Bickford is working at the local radio station, bullied at work and belittled by her mother, she is losing confidence in the work she loves.
Jack Crossley has returned to Penwarra to keep an eye on his sister and niece. He has taken a post at the local police station.
Maya Linnell calls on her knowledge and experience of local country communities and the spirit that keeps these communities alive to pen a story that is wholesome, heartwarming and engaging.
In Wallaby Lane, Maya includes her love of animals and the humour they can invoke with Gary the Galah and the local goats. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the animal rescue centre and the important work they do caring for and rehoming injured animals. Maya also includes many areas centric to small communities, such as bored youths acting up and the damage caused by local gossip. 
The fledgling romance between Jack and Lauren is wonderfully balanced with lots of baking, a community cookbook and the Penwarra 100th anniversary show.
Just one tiny complaint, for me, there were probably too many roadblocks to Lauren and Jack's relationship. They both had old demons to come to terms with and at times instead of supporting each other they opened a wider rift. I loved that I still got the HEA and the warm fuzzies that romance reads deliver.
My rating 4 / 5 🩷🩷🩷🩷

Friday 28 June 2024

Book Review: The Surprise Party by Julia Crouch

 The Surprise Party


Julia Crouch

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date: 28th June 2024
Genre: Psychological thriller
Pages: 343
Source: eCopy courtesy of the publisher 

Review: The Surprise Party

Eve and her husband Will are returning to the place they spent their honeymoon 29 years ago. A holiday in a secluded fishing village on the Crete coast is just what Eve hopes will rekindle their marriage. But first she has a confession to make! A long held secret she needs to divulge.
Poppy is also holidaying in the village. She is angry over her mother's lies and has recently broken up with her cheating boyfriend. Poppy is on a mission and she has it all planned. 
Eve's whole family arrives the next day for a surprise party for Eve's 50th birthday. Both Eve and Poppy now need to reassess their plans. When the morning after Eve's surprise party dawns, one guest will be dead.

This book had me hooked right from the gripping prologue where someone is in a life or death situation. This was such a great teaser because I then had to race through the book to see who it was and also how it ended.
A lot of the characters were messed up and honestly I thought the murderer could have been any one of them.

Lots of suspects, accusations, outbursts, unlikeable characters and great twists made The Surprise Party hard to put down. This is a read-in-one-sitting book!

I finished The Surprise Party eager for a follow up book.

My rating 4 / 5 🍷🍷🍷🍷


Wednesday 26 June 2024

Book Review: All the Colours of the Dark by Chris Whitaker

 All the Colours of the Dark


Chris Whitaker

Publisher: Hachette Australia
Imprint: Orion
Publication date: 25th June 2024
Genre: Crime/ Mystery/ Thriller
Pages: 580
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Good Reading

Review: All the Colours of the Dark

When Teenager Joseph 'Patch' Macauley is kidnapped his best friend Saint Brown makes it her mission to find him. Long after the authorities have given up Saint relentlessly looks for clues.
All the Colours of the Dark is a compelling crime read. I loved the short chapters that kept the story moving along at a fast pace and the 500+ pages flew by in no time.
The story starts with the abduction of a young teen and soon turns into a fast-paced mystery thriller that had me totally captivated.
A small town setting, flawed nuanced characters, lyrical prose and perfect imagery make All the Colours of the Dark an immersive and emotional read that spans almost three decades.
All the Colours of the Dark is an epic love story that will change the lives of two people forever, steering them towards an unknown destiny filled with heartache and despair. 
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sunday 23 June 2024

Book Review: Among the Grey Gums by Paula J. Beavan

 Among the Grey Gums


Paula J. Beavan

Secrets, corruption and bushrangers.
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 5th June 2024
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Among the Grey Gums

Among the Grey Gums is my first read by Paula J. Beavan and I absolutely loved it! I do have Paula's debut novel on my shelf and I can't wait to read it.
I loved Lucy's character! She was forthright, courageous and strong.
1842 Hunter Valley, Lucy is a woman in a man's world, fighting to survive and make a living in a harsh environment. Everyone that knew her respected her but it was still a dangerous place for a woman, she had to not only be tough but smart too.
Constable Samuel Donovan was the perfect hero, respectful and compassionate. He had been sent to the Hunter Valley to investigate the local magistrate and why there had been no progress on capturing a gang of bushrangers. The Constable ends up helping Lucy try to clear her brother-in-law's name when he is accused of murder.

Among the Grey Gums is a riveting historical fiction. I love that Paula J. Beavan writes strong, feisty female characters. Lucy is doing what is considered to be a man's job, and doing it well. I liked the descriptions of the bullock teams, how they all had names and the whole process of yoking the team up, travelling through the harsh countryside and sleeping under the stars.

There is a perfect division of good and bad characters which balanced the story out nicely.
A very subtle romance thread added a heartwarming touch to this story of murder, corruption and manipulation.

I'm excited to read Daughter of the Hunter Valley, where we are introduced to another strong and resilient female character.

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐