Saturday 29 May 2021

Book Review: Trick of the Light by Fiona McCallum

 Trick of the Light
Fiona McCallum 
When your world goes dark, where do you find hope? 

Publisher: Harlequin Australia 
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 1st April 2021 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 354
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPRMedia
About the book
Erica, newly widowed, is devastated to discover her venture capitalist husband left their finances in ruins. Determined to save her home while protecting her teenage daughters, she vows to get back on her feet without letting them, or anyone else, know the truth.

When her girls head off on a long-planned overseas adventure, Erica focuses on her much-loved job behind a makeup counter to keep her emotionally and financially afloat - although she is troubled by a peculiar encounter at work.

Then she loses her job, the darkness beckons and Erica's life spirals downwards, further disturbed by strange occurrences in her house. Missing objects. Stopped clocks. Noises in the night. Should she doubt her very sanity? Can she swallow her pride and make herself reach out to her friends in time? Does she have a choice?
My review
I think Trick of the Light is my favourite Fiona McCallum book to date!
The main character, Erica, was easy to connect with. She had lost her husband and although she was devastated she still insisted her daughters take the extended overseas holiday they had planned. I could understand Erica's push for the girls not to forsake their holiday assuring them that she would be fine. This is a natural parent response protecting your children even though they were adults. Once Erica is alone she soon spirals into a state of severe anxiety.
The story was quite sombre as we follow Erica as tragedy after tragedy befalls her.  I found the story line realistic and could appreciate how this series of events could possibly happen to a middle aged woman whose life was previously settled and happy, thus plunging her into a state of despair. I liked that the events were well portrayed in the time-line but were not overly dramatised.
Fiona McCallum includes themes of family and friendship and shows how we don't always include people closest to us in times of need but they are always there to help if given the chance.
I loved the added element of mystery and how the mystery and suspense slowly built adding a compelling element to the story.
Erica's decline is heartbreaking however their is an element of hope as Erica starts to rebuild her life and accepts that she must move on to a new phase in her life.
Fiona McCallum's characters are real life, relatable and strong women that have come through the hard knocks of life and moved forward with a new resilience.
Trick of the Light is a relatable story of growth, changing life plans and moving on in new directions.
4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit Goodreads

Fiona McCallum spent her childhood years on the family cereal and wool farm outside the small town of Cleve on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

Fiona now lives in Adelaide and works full-time as a novelist. She writes "heart-warming journey of self-discovery stories" - often with a rural setting, sometimes with a romantic thread and sometimes without. Her tales tie together her love of animals and fascination with the journey people go on to find what really makes their heart sing and then follow their true passions to find happiness, even if it means taking risks and facing seemingly impossible obstacles.


Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21

Tuesday 25 May 2021

Book Review: Mia by Fiona McArthur

Fiona McArthur
Publisher: Self Published
Publication date: 30th December 2020
Series: Lyrebird Lake #3 
Genre: Romance
Pages: 213
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the author

About the book

Angus Campbell is used to dealing with emergency situations. He’s a rescue medic. But his newly discovered son will require more than his professional training. Perhaps Angus's childhood home, Lyrebird Lake, is the best place to find rapport for both of them.

Mia is expecting a new arrival – but she wasn’t expecting Angus. Six feet of sexy he-man is way out of her comfort zone. She will not get involved. But the man needs help.
Her baby could have the perfect family...but would they have love?

And then there’s the magical myth of the Lyrebirds…
My review
Mia is the third book in Fiona McArthur's Lyrebird Lake series.
In this story we follow Mia as she moves to Lyrebird Lake after a break-up with her fiance. Mia is to start the new supported home birth service attached to the hospital.
We get to revisit some much loved characters  from the previous books and Ned's long lost son returns which gives a love interest for Mia.

I love Fiona McArthur's female characters, they are feisty, strong women with minds of their own. They have a passion for their work and they want to instill that passion in everyone.
Fiona includes the danger of disused mine shafts that are dotted around the countryside and the suspense of a rescue mission had me holding my breath.
As with each of the books in this series Fiona has included a calm, serene and safe birth scene. there is also lots of community spirit with the small town celebrating and supporting each other.

I really enjoy these romance reads and it's always a joy to read a book that you are assured to finish with a smile on your face.

4 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

photo: Goodreads
Fiona McArthur has worked as a midwife for thirty years. She is the clinical midwifery educator inner rural maternity unit and teaches emergency obstetric strategies while working with midwives and doctors from remote and isolated areas.

Fiona has written more than thirty romances, which have sold over two million copies in twelve languages. She has been a midwifery expert for Mother and Baby magazine and is the author of Aussie Midwives. She has also written the novels Red Sand Sunrise, The Homestead Girls and Heart of the Sky. She lives on a farm in northern New South Wales.


Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Storybook Corner Book Review: Rosie Leads the Way by Renee Irving Lee

Rosie Leads the Way
Renee Irving Lee 
Illustrated by Lisa Coutts

Publisher: Empowering Resources 
Publication date: 24th February 2020
Pages: 38
RRP: $17.00AUD
Format read: Softcover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
 After talking with her Mum, Rosie believed she was the most beautiful girl in the whole entire world - but the day she met Penelope Pennington she wasn't so sure. Penelope Pennington had the perfect hair, perfect clothes, the perfect shoes and even the perfect cat! So, when Rosie and Penelope unexpectedly walk home together, they both make some meaningful 
discoveries along the way.
My review
Rosie's mum tells her she is smart, strong and has a beautiful heart. I love the concept of building self esteem without concentrating on outward beauty and skin deep perfection.
Penelope is the perfect princess and she won't let Rosie play because she doesn't look like a princess. Rosie turns away and starts to walk home but then Penelope needs Rosie as she doesn't want to walk home alone. The road is blocked but Rosie knows another way home. Penelope acknowledges that Rosie is smart. They encounter a few more misadventures on the way home and Penelope always falls apart. Rosie is calm and finds a solution to each problem. Penelope acknowledges with each problem that Rosie is smart, strong and kind.
Rosie tells Penelope she can be smart, strong and kind if she just tries.
We can see that Penelope isn't all that bad because she does acknowledge that Rosie helps her and is willing to try and be better.
The story teaches children to be kind and helpful to someone even if they are mean to you and that true beauty is on the inside in the way you act.

I think the ending was a bit abrupt. Penelope offers to teach Rosie to be a princess in return for her help. Rosie rejects this offer saying she is off to make mud-pies in the sandpit. I think they could have incorporated the two games by playing princess and serving royal mud pies or something that wasn't quite as dismissive. 

4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Renee is passionate about writing children’s books that promote life-long learning, social inclusion and improve self-esteem.   She has always loved working with children, so writing for children has been a natural progression from her work as a teacher and educational freelance writer.

 Her diverse background in education extends to teaching primary school aged children, young adults, and children with special needs.   Renee was awarded the Young Achiever of the Year Award by TAFE Queensland for her work as a dynamic, student focused teacher who is highly respected for her skills, intellect and dedication.  Renee was also inducted into the International Golden Key Honour Society while studying for her Bachelor of Education (Special Education) where she graduated with a Distinction. 

Renee lives on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland with her husband and three children.   When she is not writing, you can find Renee spending time with her family, running around on the Oztag field, climbing Emu Mountain, swimming, or sipping on a green tea!

Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21



Monday 17 May 2021

Mailbox Monday - May 17th

 Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

 Happy Monday!

It's been a rocky couple of weeks. My husband had an accident on his bicycle and spent a 5 days in hospital. He is very fortunate that he never goes out without a helmet but he still managed to get quite battered, six fractured ribs and muscle damage to his leg. I've been playing nurse all week as he can't walk more than a few steps. So there's been no reading for the last two weeks. However, new books arriving in the mailbox have kept me smiling.

A few pics from what I was up to before the accident.

Startled a possum on my walk one night

Loved playing book fairy leaving books at parks and shops
Books I've received and purchased over the last three weeks.  

Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of  Shadows
Falling by T J Newman 
Goal by Lydia Williams
The Kindness of Birds by Merlinda Bobis  
Magpie's Bend by Maya Linnell 
The School by Brendan James Murray 
Love in Theory by Elodie Cheesman 
Catch Us the Foxes by Nicola West 
 I would love to hear what books you've received in the mail recently! 

Friday 14 May 2021

Blog tour Book Review: The Inn at Tansy Falls by Cate Woods

The Inn at Tansy Falls
Cate Woods
If you love feel-good love stories by ReaAnne Thayne, Debbie Macomber and Robyn Carr, you’ll adore this gorgeous, heart-warming novel about starting over.


Publisher: Bookouture  
Publication date: 12th May 2021
Genre: Romance
Pages: 268
Format read: eBook
Source: Netgalley
About the book
 Dearest Nell, if you’re reading this letter, I’m already gone…

You’re my best friend in the world, and as my last request I’m asking you to lay me to rest hundreds of miles away, in my crazy gorgeous, totally one-of-a-kind hometown of Tansy Falls. I know you’re a born-and-bred city girl, but hear me out. After first losing Adrian, and then me… I know your heart is hurting, Nell. I think you’ll find that you need Tansy Falls as much as I do.

So, I’ve got it all planned out. For two weeks, you’ll be staying at the sweet, local inn and every day you’ll be trying something new. And if you follow my instructions to the letter, you may discover there’s more to my story than you think. A surprise something… or someone at the end of it? Only you can find out!

Some last advice before you set off, Nell. Don’t forget your sturdy boots and make sure to give Boomer, the inn’s resident dog, a belly rub from me. Stay well away from former quarterback Brody Knott (boy, do I have some stories about him!). And finally, let the future bring what it brings. While Tansy Falls may look small, I know better than anyone that new beginnings can be found in all kinds of places. That little Vermont town you’d never heard of? Well, it might suddenly begin to feel just like coming home…
My review
The Inn at Tansy Falls is the type of story I turn to when life becomes overwhelming. A feel good romance, and an easy read is, at times, just what I need to escape the everyday.
Nell's dear friend Megan had recently died and Nell was on a mission to scatter her ashes in Megan's beloved town of Tansy Falls. Megan had devised a quest for Nell something to get her friend out of her comfort zone and hopefully enjoying life again. Only first Nell had to fly from England to Vermont, USA to fulfill Megan's two week holiday quest. To nervous Nell that was a quest on its own!
Cate Woods has based this story on a best friend's dying wishes. With so many people touched by cancer be it a friend, sibling or parent, many will relate to Nell's feelings and loss.
Each mission for Nell is stated through a letter written by Megan before she died. Megan hoopes through this lovely little town, where she spent much of her childhood and teenage years, Nell will come to find peace and courage. Nell was always the quiet, cautious one whilst Megan was the livewire.
I loved following the mission with Nell as she came out of her shell and got to know some of the people of Tansy Falls. People who had known and loved Megan. The story is filled with vivid descriptions of the area, small town gossip, long held feuds and two very handsome men. While at times Nell is insecure and unsure of herself I enjoyed her character growth. It was slow to evolve which made it all the more believable. 
Cate Woods highlights how small tourist towns are being taken over by large conglomerate hotels.
Each mission Nell embarks on took the reader on another beautifully described adventure into this winter wonderland.
The Inn at Tansy Falls is a feel good, clean romance with a host of truly likeable characters.
A story of new beginnings, taking chances and finding courage. 
4.5 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
About the author
Cate Woods made the most of her degree in Anglo-Saxon Literature by embarking on a career making tea on programmes including The Big Breakfast, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and French & Saunders. After narrowly missing out on the chance to become a Channel 5 weather girl she moved into the world of magazine journalism then ghostwriting and now writes novels under her own name. She has written two best selling romantic comedies - Just Haven't Met You Yet and More Than a Feeling - and a festive novel The Christmas Guest under the name of Daisy Bell. Cate lives in London with her husband and two children.



Thursday 13 May 2021

Book Review: Rattlesnake Road by Amanda McKinney

 Rattlesnake Road
Amanda McKinney
A Small Town Mystery Romance
Everyone hits rock bottom, only the brave escape.
Publisher:  HH Tisevich
Publication date: 4th May 2021
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 419
Kindle price : $7.69AUD 
Format read: eBook
Source: Netgalley
About the book
Welcome to 1314 Rattlesnake Road.

A quaint two-bedroom log cabin nestled deep in the woods of the small, southern town of Berry Springs—the perfect hideaway to escape your past.

Tucked inside thick, mahogany walls lay mysterious letters, forgotten and untouched for decades. Floor-to-ceiling windows frame breathtaking views of jagged cliffs, deep valleys, and endless lies. Mature oak trees, tall enough to touch the clouds, carry the whispers of the haunted, of stories untold

Inside sits Grey Dalton, emotionally battered and bruised, her only wish to pick up the broken pieces of her life. But outside, await two men, one a tattooed cowboy, the other a dashing businessman.

One will steal her heart, the other, her soul.  
My review
A story of having to hit rock bottom before you can climb your way back.
Grey's life has spiraled out of control. After suffering a miscarriage and getting fired after a drunken outburst at work Grey starts to re-evaluate her life and her first step is to leave her cheating husband and her luxury life behind. She buys a rundown log cabin nestled deep in the woods in the small southern town of Berry Springs.
Rattlesnake Road is my first read by Amanda McKinney and I love her biting prose. Grey Dalton's character is fantastic; sarcastic and funny, I was drawn into her life and wanted her to succeed, anxious over her set backs
With two love interests introduced, one promising her the life she had left behind but the one she was used to and attracted to whilst the other offered her a new beginning where she would have to come to terms with her inner turmoil.  
Amanda McKinney has not only written a great angsty romance the story is filled with topical issues such as; domestic abuse, self harm, alcoholism and mental illness. It did at times become quite dark and disturbing.
Through a ghost with unfinished business Grey becomes inadvertently involved in a 30 year old murder mystery.
Rattlesnake Road had me glued to the pages, there was plenty of fun banter between the characters, a bit of harmless snark that kept me laughing, a great twist that had my heart racing and one swoon worthy male that melted my heart.
If you love new beginnings Rattlesnake Road is worth a read. 
4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit Goodreads
Amanda McKinney is the #1 bestselling and multi-award-winning author of more than fifteen small-town romantic suspense and mystery novels. She wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY in 2017, after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Her books include the bestselling series, STEELE SHADOWS SECURITY, the multi-award-winning BERRY SPRINGS series, BLACK ROSE MYSTERIES, and many more to come.

Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda’s books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance. She lives in Arkansas with her handsome husband, two beautiful boys, and three obnoxious dogs.