Sunday, 29 May 2022

Book Review & Giveaway: Esther's Children by Caroline Beecham

Esther's Children
by
Caroline Beecham
 
An audacious story of love, bravery and self-sacrifice in World War Two
 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
 
Publication date: 3rd May 2022
 
Genre: Historical Fiction 

Pages: 376
 
RRP: $32.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
 Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
Blurb
 
Austria, 1936: Esther 'Tess' Simpson works for a British organisation that rescues academics from the cruel Fascist and anti-Semitic regimes taking hold in Europe. On a dangerous trip to Vienna to help bring aid to Europe's threatened Jewish scholars, Esther meets Harry Singer, a young Jewish academic and musician - and they fall in love.
 
My review
 
Caroline Beecham has delivered another honourable novel with Esther's Children; a work of fiction inspired by the life of Esther Simpson (1903 - 1996).
 
I loved that this story was based on the life of a real person, Esther Simpson, who through her tireless work saved the lives of many German Jews in her work for The Society for the Protection of Science and Learning. The society endeavoured to secure grants and work, in Britain, for academic refugees.
"On our shoulders rests the future of many of Europe's finest minds...."

Caroline Beecham's writing is exquisite and I found it easy to picture Esther and her colleagues. However, I didn't quite connect with the story the way I did with her previous novels. I found myself wanting more of Harry's story, Esther's love interest and a refugee himself. I was interested in his life in Vienna, the changing face of the city, then in the internment camp where aliens who were classed as a risk to British security were held.

Esther Simpson was an amazing woman, risking her own life and foregoing a family of her own to help many men and women who went on to achieve greatness in their field and I feel Caroline Beecham has done her story proud in Esther's Children.

 My rating 3.5 stars  ⭐⭐⭐½


 

 

About the author

Caroline is a novelist, writer and producer. She is the author of four books: the bestselling novel, Maggie's Kitchen, Eleanor's Secret, Finding Eadie and Esther's Children, and has been published in the UK and the US. Her debut novel, Maggie's Kitchen, was shortlisted for Booktopia's Best Historical Fiction in 2016 and nominated as book of the year and Caroline as Best New Author by AusRom Today. She has worked in documentary, film and drama, and discovered that she loves to write fiction and to share lesser-known histories; particularly those of pioneering women whose lives speak to us now. Caroline studied the craft of novel writing at the Faber Academy in Sydney, with Curtis Brown Creative in London, and has a MA in Film & Television and a MA in Creative Writing. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and two teenage sons.
 
 
 

GIVEAWAY:

Thanks to the generosity of Allen & Unwin I have one paperback copy of Esther's Children to give away. (Australian postal addresses only). Entry is via the form below. Giveaway closes at midnight on 5th June 2022.

This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Winner of a copy of A Stone's Throw Away announced!!

 

A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a paperback copy of A Stone's Throw Away.   The giveaway closed on the 21st May and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 


Congratulations to........   Kerissa R
 

 The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.

 Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sponsoring this giveaway. 

Please look under the giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

Giveaways coming soon.....


 

 

Monday, 23 May 2022

Book Review: The Nurses' War by Victoria Purman

 The Nurses' War
by
Victoria Purman
 
Winning the battle will take more than guns...

Publisher: Harlequin Australia

Imprint: HQ Fiction
 
Publication date: 30th March 2022
 
Genre: Historical Fiction
 
Pages: 608
 
RRP: $32.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 
 
My review
 
I love reading stories about both WWI & WWII. Stories set during the battles from a soldier's point of view, those from a civilian's point of view and also those from front line workers, the doctors and nurses.
As the title depicts The Nurses' War is about Australian nurses who enlisted during WWI and travelled to England to treat and care for the Australian soldiers in a makeshift Australian hospital.
 
The Nurses' War is based on the true stories of real life experiences of the Australian women who served at Harefield Hospital in Middlesex, England. 
 
Purman writes of the anticipation and camaraderie of the nurses as the hospital prepares for its first patients and the anguish and fatigue as the wounded and maimed ariive day after day for years.
 
The Nurses' War is a story of women breaking the mold for their time and choosing career over marriage.
Told in the dual narrative of Cora, an Australian nurse who leaves her family to work in England, and Jessie, a young local girl living in the small country village of Harefield. Through Jessie we learn how everyday citizens were affected by the war and the changing face of society in work and fashion.
 
Purman writes about how the men coped with their injuries and the lose of their mates. The Nurses' War is a story filled with emotion, pride and a touch of Aussie larrickinism.  For me however the book was about 150 pages too long. I am not a lover of big books!
 
The added romance interests for the two protagonists added a heart-warming element to the story.
 
The Nurses' War is a story of love, grief and the sacrifices everyone made during the war.
 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
About the author
 
Victoria Purman is an Australian top ten and USA Today bestselling fiction author. Her most recent book, The Women's Pages, was an Australian bestseller, as were her novels The Land Girls and The Last of the Bonegilla Girls. Her earlier novel The Three Miss Allens was a USA Today bestseller. She is a regular guest at writers festivals, a mentor and workshop presenter and was a judge in the fiction category for the 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Book Review: Dead Horse Gap by Lee Christine

 Dead Horse Gap
by
Lee Christine
 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
 
Publication date: 1st February 2022 
 
Series: Alpine #3

Genre: Crime / Mystery
 
Pages: 279
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My review
 
There wasn't as much tension in this book as the previous two novels, Charlotte Pass and Crackenback.
However the story still held my attention as it had a compelling mystery at its centre.
 
I enjoyed following along with the police investigation as it changes from undercover drug surveillance to murder investigation. The mystery was well played out and I had no idea how it would eventually pan out.
 
The Snowy Mountains in New South Wales is an amazing setting; cold, secluded and a bit eerie. Lee Christine transports her readers into the snow, sleet and below zero temperatures. You may want to read this book snuggled up with a heater nearby.
 
Mitch Flowers is given the lead in this case, as Ryder prepares for his move to uniform country cop. Flowers takes over with confidence but he has a little secret of his own going on after dark. Nerida Sterling, another up-and-coming young detective, has an undercover role sniffing out some information on a suspected drug ring in the area. Lee Christine highlights the danger of undercover work and the pressure it places on a persons well-being.  
 
The addition of a long held feud between two families makes for another interesting plot line.
 
Dead Horse Gap was an easy read and highly entertaining. A compelling addition to the series. 
 
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
About the author
 
Photo: Goodreads
  In 2009, former corporate trainer Lee Christine decided to turn her writing hobby into a serious job.
 
Lee is the author of six romantic suspense novels. her first crime novel, Charlotte Pass, was published in 2020 and won the award for Favourite Romantic Suspense Novel in the 2020 Australian Romance Readers Awards. Her second crime novel, Crackenback, was published in2021 and Dead Horse Gap in 2022.

 
 
 
    

 

Friday, 20 May 2022

Winner of a copy of The Poinciana Tree announced!

 

A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a paperback copy of The Poinciana Tree.   The giveaway closed on the 17th May and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 


Congratulations to........   Leanne 
 

 The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.

 Please look under the giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

 

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Book Review: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

The Gosling Girl
by
Jacqueline Roy
 
Murderer? Monster? Child? Victim? 
 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
 
Publication date: 2nd February 2022
 
Genre: Crime
 
Pages: 400
 
RRP: $32.99AUD
 
Format read: paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My review
 
The Gosling Girl is disturbing, distressing, addictive......I read it in a day!
 
Michelle Cameron has spent the last 14 years in institutions after being convicted of murder at the age of ten.
 
Roy leaves the reader questioning Michelle's guilt or innocence and she is not quite sure herself what she has done wrong.
By not mentioning Michelle by name until well into the book we get an insight into what it is like to have your identity stripped from you.
The difficulties faced after being released and trying to live in a society you have never been part of are well conveyed.
 
It took me a little while to get into the story but once I did the pages flew and I couldn't put it down. Filled with flawed characters that are on the whole unlikable, however very real in their thoughts and actions. 

Throughout the book I found myself warming to Michelle as I followed her small triumphs and devastating losses. Each time she picked herself up and started again I wished for her to have the happy ending she dreamed of.
 
With themes of embedded racism, child abuse, police inadequacy and lynch mobs, this book will have you infuriated with the system.
 
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
 
 
 

Monday, 16 May 2022

Spotlight on books I've read over the last few months

 I've become so far behind in my reviews that I'm going to do a quick post with some short reviews of books I have recently read. I hope you find something here that takes your fancy.
 
Doom Creek (Nick Chester #2)
by Alan Carter

Published by Fremantle Press 
 
My review
 
I have previously enjoyed Alan Carter’s writing in his Cato Kwong series and Doom Creek, the second book in the Nick Chester series, didn’t let me down.

I was pulled into the story from the first few pages. The action never stops in this gritty crime novel and just when you think Carter has thrown everything at his main character he throws in another murder and a couple of personal tragedies for Nick to cope with.

Doom Creek is a must read for crime fans. Real characters, dark humour and the beautiful scenery of Havelock in the Marlborough district of New Zealand make this an entertaining read. 
 
With thanks to Beauty & Lace and the publisher for my copy to read.
This review first appeared on Beauty & lace website HERE 
 
The Weekend
by Charlotte Wood
 
Published by Allen & Unwin
 
My review
 
The Weekend has been sitting on my shelf for a long time. I don’t know why it seemed to get pushed to the bottom of the pile, it is an extraordinary read.
 
Four older women with a lifelong friendship. Each of them very different from each other but something drew them together all those years ago. But when one of the group dies the remaining three are left to face their failing bodies and their own mortality. Sylvie was the one to hold the group together. Can they survive without her?
 
The Weekend is a sharply observed look at friendship and ageing. Charlotte Wood’s nuanced characters and lyrical prose combine to deliver a heart-felt story that explores the changing dynamics of a decades long friendship group when one of the group passes away.
 
As the story develops the women’s thoughts were mainly on each other, their likes and dislikes but it soon changes to musings on their own lives, lost opportunities, lost loves and regrets.
 
The Weekend is a thought provoking read, confronting and clever, primarily highlighting the bond of friendship.  
 
Thank you to the publisher for my copy to read

Till Daph Do Us Part (Daphne Jones Mysteries #1)
By Phillipa Nefri Clark

Published by Self Published  

My review

Till Daph Do Us Part is the first book in a series starring Daphne Jones, a travelling celebrant who likes to do a bit of sleuthing on the side.

When someone is found dead at a wedding Daphne is officiating at she can't help but become involved in the investigation.

Daphne reminded me of Miss Marple, she has an eye for things out of place and people tend to open up to her.

This was a fun cosy mystery and I enjoyed Daphne's investigative process. The story had a couple of good twists that I didn't see coming.

If you enjoy light, fun, Miss Marple type reads, Till Daph Do Us Part will appeal.

 
With thanks to the author for my copy to read.
 

The Understudy
by Julie Bennett
 

Published by Simon & Schuster
 

My review

I found I was drawn into this story right from the beginning. Two opera singers; one at the top of her game the other, young and ambitious.

It’s 1973 and Margaret is the lead in Madama Butterfly to open at the newly built Sydney Opera House. Sophie is her understudy. She has her eye on the top and she has a plan and is prepared to do anything to succeed!
 
Told in a dual narrative by Margaret and Sophie, with both women having an air of mystery about them.
 
Living in Sydney myself I enjoyed all the mentions of the city landmarks and the headlines of the time. I can vividly remember the opening of the Opera House, the controversy over the design and going to see a performance with my school.
 
Julie Bennett has brought 1970’s Sydney to life through her meticulous attention to detail. 
The story travels back to 1953 and Margaret’s early years in a bohemian Wooloomooloo which was both poignant and fascinating.
 
There is an intriguing mystery at the centre of the story and it’s final reveal took me completely by surprise.
 
Lies, deception, jealousy and vengeance….. The Understudy is an intriguing read!
 
 
With thanks to Beauty & Lace and the publisher for my copy to read.
This review first appeared on Beauty & Lace website HERE
 

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Book Review & Giveaway: A Stone's Throw Away by Karly Lane

 A Stone's Throw Away
by
Karly Lane


Poignant, heart-warming and suspenseful....

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Publication date: 3rd May 2022
 
Genre: Rural Crime 
 
Pages: 368
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My review
 
Investigative Journalist Pip Davenport moves to her uncle's quiet, country property to overcome a case of writers block. She is writing a book on her last assignment which ended in a prominent politician going to prison.
 
When a cold-case in the area is reopened Pip can't help but be pulled into the mystery. The town is tight-lipped and Pip feels there is more to this case than first appears.
 
The introduction of two potential love interests for Pip adds a touch of romance to this tension filled crime novel. I must admit to having a sneaky look forward to see who Pip would connect with. 
Pip is a strong, determined character. She is suffering a severe case of PTSD but when her journalistic instincts kick in she is fearless and doesn't balk at ruffling a few feathers.
 
Karly Lane has delivered a wonderfully immersive novel with visually pleasing descriptions, a highly engaging plot, gripping suspense and compelling twists.
 
A Stone's Throw Away is a story of courage, resilience and a passion for the truth. 
 
My rating  5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
Click the cover image to read my reviews of Karly's book. 

   
GIVEAWAY:
 

Thanks to the generosity of Allen & Unwin I have one paperback copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. (Australian addresses only)
Entry is via the form below. Entries close at Midnight on Friday 21st may 2022.
 
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Tuesday, 10 May 2022

Flash Book Giveaway: The Poinciana Tree by Antony Jeffrey

 Thanks to the generosity of Connor Court Publishing I have one paperback copy of The Poinciana Tree to giveaway.

The Poinciana Tree 
by
Antony Jeffrey 
 
 
About the book
 
The Poinciana Tree follows the life of a brave and sensitive woman who never stopped caring for the people she loved. Aimée’s life stretched far and wide across Australia, though rarely to places of her choice. Wherever she went she found people to love, and delight amongst heartache.

The Poinciana Tree is told in two parts, first through the lens of Antony’s mother Aimée, portraying the sadness and loneliness of a young mother’s life in the vastness of Australia during and after the war. As Aimée’s life spans across Melbourne and Brisbane so does the author’s telling of her history, taking us through her idyllic marriage before the war and back to her lonely and at times isolated childhood in the West Australian Goldfields.
 
Following the tragedy of World War II, the second part of the novel takes us to post-war Brisbane as Aimée, now a penniless widow, brings up her two young sons.

 Giveaway:

I have one paperback copy of The Poinciana Tree to give away.

 Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at Midnight on 17th May 2022.
 
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE