Thursday 22 March 2018

Book Review: The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein

The Country Girl 

 The Country Girl by Cathryn Hein

Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Aust
Publication Date: 18th December 2017
Pages: 352
Format read: eBook
Source: Publisher via Netgalley


 Bestselling Australian author Cathryn Hein returns with a moving and uplifting rural romance about facing hard truths and moving on in pursuit of life.

After landing a major cookbook deal, star food blogger Tash Ranger swaps city life for the family farm. But Tash's homecoming is bittersweet, for now she can no longer avoid seeing her best friend Maddy, who was severely injured in a riding accident and unable to communicate. No one knows that Maddy and Tash had a deep falling out and with every visit Tash must pretend to be the friend everyone believes her to be.

Patrick Lawson, Maddy's fiancé, battles despair and hope daily as Maddy lies imprisoned in her body, gradually losing his faith in her recovery. When Tash returns to Castlereagh Road with her joy and boundless appetite for life, he realises finally what his loved ones have been trying to tell him for months – that Maddy wouldn't want him to throw his life away. It's time to move on. But letting go is no easy feat, especially if moving on means Tash. He's a country boy and she is a star on the rise with ambitions that could propel her out of reach.

Can these two friends step out of the shadow of Maddy's tragic life and accept love, or is the past forever destined to dictate their future?

                                                        My thoughts: 

As soon as I started reading The Country Girl my heart was breaking for Patrick and Maddy. Patrick and Maddy were engaged when Maddy suffers a tragic accident and is left unable to communicate.

Tash, a highly successful food blogger with a cookbook deal in the works, decides to return home to Castlereagh, her parent’s farm near Emu Springs, where she will film new episodes for her blog, Urban Ranger. The addition of a gardening spot by her cheeky Grandfather has her subscriber numbers skyrocketing. However this is only a temporary stop for Tash. She has big ideas for Urban Ranger and they don’t include staying at Castlereagh.

Old jealousies and tiffs threaten to arise when Tash returns home. However hard it may be Patrick needs to leave the past behind and move on with his life but a promise was made and Patrick is an honourable man.

Hein has created real characters with Maddy and Patrick. Maddy is strong and has a real sense of self, outgoing and fun she is a perfect balance for Patrick who is full of sorrow and grief, stuck in a time lock with no real future in sight. The road is never smooth with plenty of road bumps and misunderstandings which are cause for some very scary moments. Hein’s descriptions of the countryside and the supporting characters give a perfect sense of place and add to the ambience of the story.

The story is fun and the romance is a slow burn. Food and cooking feature prominently in this rural romance and the descriptions of Tash’s delicacies will have you wishing there really was a cookbook in the works.

Cathryn Hein combines her love of romance and her love of cooking to give her readers yet another unmissable rural romance story.

 My rating: 5 of 5 stars

                                                  About the author:

A South Australian country girl by birth, Cathryn loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who's as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don't flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful.
From debut release Cathryn has been a multiple finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and the 2014 awards also saw her in contention for Favourite Australian Romance Author.
Cathryn currently lives in New South Wales with her partner of many years, Jim. When she's not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge


Friday 16 March 2018

Book Review: Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan

Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 
B.C.R Fegan


Publisher: TaleBlade
Publication date: 14th March 2018
Pages: 32
Format Read: eBook
Source: Author via Book Publicity Services


The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.

My thoughts:

A counting book with a difference, Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 extends the counting experience beyond 20 to 32. The illustrations are delightful and a little bit spooky as a young boy and his little sister arrive to stay at the Magical Hotel of Hoo, a sprawling old castle dimly lit by moonlight.
Nicholas Noo the amiable hotelier shows them around each room. Being the first guests at the hotel their room will be room1 and the reader learns that most of the other rooms are permanently occupied by an ever increasing number of ghouls and creatures. Dragons, elves, monsters, ghosts, goblins and giants all have a room and a purpose.
The cadence is spot on with this rhyming story which makes for an easy read as the words flow effortlessly. The suspense builds as the pages turn and the children are reminded throughout, never to look behind door 32.

My almost 4 Granddaughter loves everything spooky and even after reading the book over and over she still became excited as the tension mounts to that last door. She charmingly calls it the Transylvanian door story. She’s not quite up to counting to 32 which gives the advantage of extending the book as the child grows.

Not all items to count are in as plain sight as say the 3 Knights, behind door 3, or the 5 dancing zombies, behind door 5. I was eager to have the book to myself to peruse each page and find the items that matched the corresponding door number.

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is not only a delightful rhyming story but also a counting book that stretches the child’s ability whilst stimulating their imagination.

The illustrations by the talented Lenny Wen are colourful and descriptive, filled with mischief and magic, they hold stories of their own.
I’ve added mine and my Granddaughter’s favourites below.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book to read and review through  Book Publicity Services

 About the author:

  BCR Fegan is an award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of natures ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms, to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books.

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerised by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced. Through the efforts of TaleBlade Press, these works are now being published with that same careful dedication

This review is part of the Book Lover Book review Aussie author challenge

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Book Review: Diamond Rings are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things (Wedding Planner Mysteries Book 1) 

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen

Publisher: Peachwood Press

Publication Date: July 2015
Pages: 341
Format read: eBook
Source: Sweet Spot Read & Review Club (facebook group)


 Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she's especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri's world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri's impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success—until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. Adri must race to uncover the secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before she becomes the next victim.
With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things will keep you turning pages long into the night.

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is the first in the Wedding Planner Mysteries series by Rachelle J Christensen.

                                              My thoughts:

Adrielle Pyper has moved to Sun Valley Idaho to pursue her lifelong dream of running her own business as a wedding planner. She had worked for a large and successful wedding planning company in San Francisco but after a life-altering incident she decides to start afresh closer to home.

The story is narrated by Adrielle and we get a close up look at her thoughts and life. Adrielle is feisty and self confident and doesn’t mind saying exactly what she thinks. She is a perfectionist and puts her heart and soul into the weddings she plans; there is no time for boyfriends or romance. Her business partner, Lorea, is a dressmaker. She sells the wedding dresses whilst Adrielle plans the weddings. Lorea is fun, chirpy and a romantic at heart. She is always trying to get Adrielle to loosen up, have some fun and maybe give love a chance.

Between planning the weddings of soap star Sylvia and Lorea’s good friend Natalie who is marrying the rich and famous Brock Grafton, who just so happens to be Sylvia’s ex, Arielle also gets herself mixed up in a diamond smuggling operation.
Everyone is a suspect, from the old, friendly jeweller Walter Mayfield to Colton, the delivery guy, and the hot new lawyer in town, Luke.

As we follow Adrielle on her hectic wedding planning schedule, trying to squeeze a few dates in with Dallas, the local real estate agent, and solve a stalker problem. The story makes for quite a few laughs, a little bit of romance and edge of your seat suspense. I loved the insight into just how much work a wedding planner does.

I absolutely loved the craft and wedding decoration descriptions at the start of each chapter. Adrielle and her Mum have their own crafty blog which features in the story and which I’m happy to say is a real blog (Yes, I googled it!).

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a real page turner, a clean cozy crime/ mystery. Adrielle is a fun protagonist and the ending will have you holding your breath!!!
The perfect start to a new ‘must read’ series for me.

Content: no coarse language, no sex, minimal violence, a clean read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

                                              About the author:

Rachelle J. Christensen is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense and solves the mystery of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a music minor. She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading.

Rachelle is the award-winning author of twenty books, including The Soldier’s Bride (a Kindle Scout Selection & Whitney Award Finalist), Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, Veils and Vengeance, Proposals and Poison, Hawaiian Masquerade, and Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology. Her novella, “Silver Cascade Secrets,” was included in the Rone Award–winning Timeless Romance Anthology, Fall Collection.
Join Rachelle’s VIP mailing list to learn more about upcoming books & get your free book at 

Saturday 10 March 2018

Book Review: Assassins Hunted by Rachel Amphlett

Assassins Hunted (The English Spy Mysteries #1) 

Assassins Hunted by Rachel Amphlett
Series: Book 1

Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Publication Date: 8th January 2018
Pages:  186
Format Read: eBook
Source: Author

Mother. Widow. Spy.

Eva Delacourt has been in hiding for three years after her fiancée was assassinated in cold blood outside the British embassy in Prague.

She thought she was safe.

But someone in the mysterious Section has betrayed her, and now she’s on the run for her life, sworn to protect the six-year-old boy she adores.

Her enemies are closing in, and the odds are not in Eva’s favour. For Eva, the nightmare is just beginning…

Assassins Hunted is the first part in an ongoing story involving Eva Delacourt. The story will be continued in book 2 of the English Spy Mysteries, Assassins Vengeance.

The English Spy Mysteries is a new concept by acclaimed crime fiction author, Rachel Amphlett. Combining fast-paced thrilling reads with episodic delivery in the vein of TV shows 24, Alias, and Spooks, series one is a must-read for fans of Robert Ludlum, Vince Flynn, and James Patterson.

                                                         My thoughts:

Assassins Hunted is the first in a new series by Australian Crime writer Rachel Amphlett.

Eva Delacourt has been in hiding since her fiancé was killed three years ago. However someone has found out where she is and they want her dead. Thinking the leak may be from the inside and not knowing who she can trust she turns to new CIA operative Nathan Crowe to help her escape.

All Amphlett’s books are a must read for me. I know straight away they will be enjoyable, suspenseful and well written. Amphlett has the reader on the edge of their seat never quite knowing what will happen next. The story has plenty of action and some great twists.

The first instalment in the English Spy Mysteries Series doesn’t disappoint. Told in an episodic style and ending on a cliff hanger it will have readers eager for book 2, Assassins Vengeance.

Content: no coarse language , no sex, low level violence

 My rating: 4 of 5 stars

                                                     About the author:


I write crime fiction and spy novels, most notably the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series, as well as a number of standalone crime thrillers.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, my writing influences include Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. I'm also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Angela Marsons, Robert Bryndza, Ken Follett, and Stuart MacBride.

I'm a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for my debut novel, White Gold, being sold to Fanucci Editore's TIMECrime imprint in 2014, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag in 2017.

This review is part of the Booklover Book Review Aussie author challenge 2018

Thursday 1 March 2018

Book Review: Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood

Dead Ernest 

Dead Ernest by Frances Garrood

Series: no
Publisher: Sapere Books
Publication date: 1st March 2018
Pages: 292
Format read: ARC eBook
Source: publisher


 No one had expected Ernest to die, least of all Ernest…

Ernest Bentley was a pillar of the community. But when he suddenly dies of a heart attack his wife Annie refuses to have the words ‘beloved husband’ added to his gravestone. Their son, Billy, is exasperated with his mother and worries about how she will cope on her own. Unwilling to take time out of his own busy schedule to take care of her, he enlists the services of the local vicar, Andrew, to keep an eye on her.

Before she knows what is happening, Annie finds herself telling the vicar things she has kept hidden for years. Dark secrets that had plagued her sixty-year marriage to Ernest.

When Annie’s estranged granddaughter, Ophelia, turns up for a visit, the two bond over their mutual contempt for Billy and his controlling behaviour. But when Ophelia meets Andrew, the unhappily married vicar, things start to get very complicated…

What is the truth about Ernest? Why is Annie behaving so strangely now that he is dead? And how can Andrew reconcile his growing feelings for Ophelia with his respect for his marriage and his religion?

Spanning from the Second World War to the present day, Dead Ernest is a poignant, moving and, at times, very funny look at what really goes on behind closed doors in the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

                                                   My thoughts

Ernest has died, suddenly and unexpected. However, Annie isn’t exactly stricken with grief. She knows how a recently widowed woman should act so she goes through the motions for her son. Sometimes she forgets Ernest is dead. They had been married for sixty years so it would be only natural to occasionally wonder why he is late for dinner.

Annie’s son, Billy, asks the local vicar to drop in and see how Annie is fairing. Annie doesn’t really want him there and Andrew, the vicar, doesn’t particularly want to babysit the old woman but an unlikely friendship occurs and both start to look forward to the ensuing visits. Annie begins to confide in the vicar telling him secrets she has kept hidden; some for as long as sixty years.

Annie’s story moves back and forward between present day and her earlier life in the 1940’s as a young wife and mother. A story about what goes on behind closed doors told in a sensitive way and is not too graphic.
Ophelia, Annie’s granddaughter has a small side story of her own which was quite touching even if I couldn’t see the reason for its inclusion.

In telling Andrew her deepest kept secrets Annie has been able to free herself to live her own life.
Annie’s escapades with Ernest’s ashes give for some quite humorous moments in an otherwise solemn story.
Some input from the committees that Ernest was involved with, such as people saying how wonderful, helpful and friendly he was, would have given the reader a better comparison of his two facades.

The writing is straightforward and uncomplicated. I would have liked more emotion portrayed in the story. To grab readers the story needs to be emotionally charged, heartbreaking or heartwarming. We need to hate characters, love characters, desperately needing to know what they will do next.

Garrood has written an empathetic, honest and candid story of life spent in a stringently controlled environment ruled by fear.

Dead Ernest is a moving look at marriage and family life as it was for some in the 1940’s and 1950’s and how it compares to today’s society.

                                               About the author

 I first started writing as a child; mainly poetry, but there was one horrific novel (mercifully, never finished) in which a woman gives birth to a hideously deformed child in a thunderstorm. While I was bringing up my four children, I began writing and selling short stories to magazines before the enforced immobility following a fractured spine gave me the time to tackle my first novel, Dead Ernest
My main career was in nursing, but I also trained and worked for many years as a relationship counselor with Relate. Widowed in 1992, I re-married and now live with my husband in Wiltshire, where I enjoy riding my horse in the beautiful Pewsey Vale, reading, writing, singing in our large church choir and keeping up with my grandchildren. I also write regularly to a prisoner on Texas Death Row and do local voluntary work with homeless and vulnerable adults.
All my books are very strongly relationship-based. My writing has also been affected by my widowhood and my experiences with my Relate clients, and my books sometimes include issues of death and bereavement. Strangely (and not by design) they all seem to include pet animal funerals (not a subject which normally occupies my mind!).

To read more reviews of Dead Ernest please check out the other blogs on the blog tour.