Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Book Review: Bad Habits by Sarah Evans

 Bad Habits
by
Sarah Evans
 
 
Publication date: 1st September 2021
 
Genre: Crime / Humour
 
Series: D.I. Eve Rock #2
 
Pages: 264
 
RRP: $29.95AUD
 
Format read: paperback
 
Source: courtesy of the publisher
 
My review of Bad Habits
 
Grisly crime, romance and comedy all in one. And it works!
 
With D.I. Eve Rock Sarah Evans has created a likeable and complex character. She is sassy and full of spirit, very feminine but also likes the occasional cigar with her glass of wine.

Eve is currently on leave recovering from injuries sustained when her house and car were blown up and with no place to stay she is lodging at her mother Sister Immaculata's boarding school.
Eve can't stay away from the office for long, it's a good excuse to avoid Christmas lunch with her dysfunctional family, and she is soon back into the thick of it. New cases are mounting up; body parts found in a freezer, a major jewellery heist and an upmarket art gallery theft.
As the team start investigating the body count mounts and her mother, an ex sex-worker turned nun, has been acting very strangely. 
 
Bad Habits is a story rich in humour. Sarah Evans' writing is witty and entertaining. There is a lot going on and Eve is always in the midst of it. Eve Rock attracts trouble, it follows her around. This is the cause of lots of friendly ribbing between workmates, mostly at Eve's expense and she takes it all in her stride.
It's not all laughs, Bad Habits is a grisly tale of murder and butchery however the constant humour lightens an otherwise gruesome tale.
 
The multiple mysteries kept me turning the pages and the sweet romance between Eve and workmate D.I. Quinn Fox had me eager to see where it would go. Quinn is another likeable character, he seemed resigned to Eve's flightiness.
 
Bad Habits is the second book featuring D.I. Eve Rock and there is some backstory included making it read well as a standalone. It did leave me keen to read book 1, Operation Paradise.
 
A gruesomely good story for those that need lots of action in their books!
 
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

 
 
 
About the author
 
Sarah Evans, an English ex-pat journalist and former home-schooling mum, is the author of a lifestyle / recipe book Seasons and Seasonings in a Teapot, romance and crime novels, novellas, short stories and poetry.
She gives author talks and teaches memoir, creative writing, poetry and song-writing. She lives on a 20-acre hobby farm in rural Western Australia with her family and a menagerie of fur and feather and has added granny duties to her repertoire.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Book Review: The Bellbird River Country Choir by Sophie Green

 The Bellbird River Country Choir
by
Sophie Green
 
 
Publication date: 27th July 2022 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 432
 
RRP: $32.99AUD
 
Format read: Uncorrected Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading Preview
 
 
My review of The Bellbird River Country Choir
 

Set over the twelve months of 1998 Sophie Green’s latest novel, The Bellbird River Country Choir is a totally immersive read about the importance of female friendships.
 

Five women from different backgrounds and age groups become unlikely friends when each of them, for different reasons, join the local country choir.
 
At first the women are quiet and even a little judgy however they soon start supporting each other to face their challenges allowing them to grow in self-confidence. 
 
Single mother Alex, who has moved to the country from the bustle of the city to spend more time with her young daughter, joins the choir to make friends.
Janene has lived in the town all her life. She works in her parents bakery and the choir is her social outlet.
Debbie, who is a house-keeper and nanny on a local farm, is encouraged to join the choir to foster some self-confidence.
Famous opera singer Gabrielle is back in Bellbird River staying at cousin Victoria’s family home. She needs to rebuild her confidence after surgery affected her singing voice.
Victoria, a stalwart in the local community, joins the choir, not due to loneliness since her husband left her but to support her cousin Gabrielle.

Each of the women are at a cross-roads in their life and find that confiding and trusting in one another gives them the confidence to move forward.

Sophie Green includes themes of single parenthood, life after prison, mental illness, bullying, gaslighting and regaining self-confidence. These themes flow around a centric topic of love; for children, in marriage, forbidden love, self love, love for family and friends.
 
The Bellbird River Country Choir is an easy read with likeable characters with relatable problems and realistic solutions. Well worth a read!
 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Credit: Goodreads
Sophie Green is an author and publisher who lives in Sydney. She has written several fiction and non-fiction books, some under other names. In her spare time she writes about country music on her website, Sunburnt Country Music. She has been practising yoga since 1993 and teaching since 2002. Sophie's debut novel, THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE FAIRVALE LADIES BOOK CLUB, was a Top Ten bestseller and was shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards for General Fiction Book of the Year 2018, and longlisted for both the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year 2018 and the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018.


 
 
 

Monday, 25 July 2022

Mailbox Monday - July 25th

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week (or month). I post my new books on the last Monday of the month. Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday Blog
 

 
  Happy Monday!
 
Another busy month for me with looking after the grandchildren during two weeks school holidays,two birthdays in the family and a book fairy drop for a children's book Loki, a Bad God's Guide to Being Good. I hope those who found the books enjoyed them.
 
My husband's radiation therapy has finished and he is managing the after effects of fluid retention, burnt and cracked skin and a sore jaw well enough. The hospital will continue to monitor his recovery.

 
During the school break we visited lots of parks, when it wasn't raining, and the days we were stuck indoors we played games and did lots of craft. 
 
 








We celebrated Jay's 6th birthday and my eldest son's 37th birthday


 
 
My latest knitting project - Minecraft fans will recognise this.


Books I received for review, won and purchased over the last month
 
Books for review
 

 Books I've won in giveaways


Children's books



 You can read my children's book reviews at Little Squirrel's Bookshelf
 
 

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Winner of a copy of The Brightest Star announced!!

 

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


Congratulations to........   Cheryl M 

 

 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, 20 July 2022

Book Review: Love Never Chose Me by Rosanna M.I.

 Love Never Chose Me
by
Rosanna M. I. 
 
Publisher: Cherry Publishing 
 
Publication date: 16th December 2021
 
Genre: Romance / New Adult
 
Pages: 246
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My review of Love Never Chose Me
 
Love Never Chose Me is an easy light read. Emily at  twenty-three is already an accomplished thriller writer however her agent tells her she must write a romance (okay, we need to suspend our disbelief a little with that.)
 
Emily hates romance! She has sworn off love since her heart was broken three times. She has been single now for 4 years.
 
The story follows Emily as the three boys (now men) who broke her heart come back into her life. Emily must work through the pain and rejection before she can fall in love again.
 
Emily comes across as a bit of a drama queen with lots of meltdowns and tantrums. I felt bad for her love interest, Andrew, who never gave up even though she treated him badly.
 
I found Love Never Chose Me to be a fun read and I chuckled over how disillusioned and cynical Emily was at such a young age. as with any romance read it ends nicely, after much drama, with a HEA.
A story to be enjoyed by upper teen readers 15 - 19 years.
 
My rating 3 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Rosanna M.I. is a Japanese-Brazilian author who loves New Adult and Young Adult Romance novels.
As an avid reader from an early age, she found herself writing poems and stories as a hobby, not imagining that creating fiction would become her biggest dream and main goal later in life.
Most of her works are full of emotional roller coasters, drama, not-perfect characters, second chances and changes, as she would like to read them.
When Rosanna M.I. is not going crazy with her books, she is spending time with her three cats, listening to music and taking care of her mental health.
 
 
 

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Book Review: Double Negative by Susan Marshall

 Double Negative
by
Susan Marshall
 
Publisher: Evernight Teen

Publication date: 12th November 2021
 
Genre: Young Adult
 
Pages: 306
 
RRP:  $6.70AUD (Amazon Kindle)
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the author via Netgalley 
 
My review of Double Negative
 
Double Negative is a story many teenagers will relate to. Narrated by 17 year old Reece who is an elite swimming star attending the Elite Sports school. However after a shoulder injury she is transferred to the local high school, that her brother attends, until she recovers.
 
Reece's brother Jamie is in grade 12 and is running for school President and asks Reece to support him as Vice President
 
Not being American I don't really understand the US school system. High schools in Australia do not have Presidents. However I do understand campaigning and elections and Susan Marshall clearly explained the system, including campaign promises, obligations, constitutions, guidelines and rules, in a way that would appeal to a teenage audience.
 
There is lots of angst and drama throughout the novel as Reece loses her place in the elite training squad, loses her boyfriend, crushes on her brother's nemesis and needs to adjust to a new school.
Another strong theme is the pressure of elite sport and the mental health of athletes. The addition of an amputee basketball player brings in the extra theme of how athletes cope with and work through a permanent disability.
 
Double Negative has an interesting plot and realistic characters. There was a little too much angst and too many meltdowns for me. I had the patience of an adult whilst reading. 
Teens will love it and relate wholeheartedly!
 
Recommended: 16+
My rating 3 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐



About the author

Photo: Goodreads
A lover of libraries, Susan obtained a Master’s Degree in Library Science but found that she was too disorganized for the profession. Instead, Susan worked at The Globe and Mail newspaper and then Seneca College. Four kids later, she decided to stay-at-home, spending her quiet moments indulging her love of writing.

The old adage is to "write what you know," and in Double Negative, Susan channels her experience as a parent of a teen amputee and her misguided belief that she was once an athlete.

NemeSIS was inspired by the complicated sister dynamic in Susan's estrogen fuelled household growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.

Susan lives in Toronto with her husband, three sons, a daughter, rescue dog Bean and Indy the cat.
 
 
Click cover to read review

 

Friday, 15 July 2022

Book Giveaway - Friday Freebie: The Brightest Star by Emma Harcourt

 I received an extra paperback copy of The Brightest Star by Emma Harcourt from Harlequin Australia so I am giving it away to one lucky reader.

The Brightest Star
by
Emma Harcourt


About the book
 
1496 It is the height of the Renaissance and its flowering of intellectual and artistic endeavour, but the city state of Florence is in the grip of fundamentalist preacher Friar Girolamo Savonarola. Its good people believe the Lord speaks through him, just as certainly as the Sun circles the Earth.

For Leonarda Lunetta, eldest daughter of the learned Signore Vincenzo Fusili, religion is not as interesting as the books she shares with her beloved father. Reading is an escape from the ridicule flung her way, for Luna is not like other girls. She was born with a misshapen leg and that, and her passion for intellectual pursuits - particularly astronomy - alters how society sees her and how she sees the world.

Luna wants to know, to learn, to become an astronomer who charts the nights sky - certainly not the dutiful, marriageable daughter all of Florence society insists upon. So when Luna meets astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, she is not surprised that his heretical beliefs confirm her view that world is not as it is presented - or how it could be. These dangerous ideas bring her into conflict with the preacher Savonarola, and her future is changed irrevocably as politics, extremism and belief systems ignite in a dangerous conflagration.

Luna is a woman born out of time, the brightest star of her generation, but can she reconcile the girl of her father's making with this new version of herself? And if she does, will Renaissance Italy prove too perilous and dark a place for a free-thinking woman?
 
I haven't read the book yet but it is getting some fabulous reviews on Goodreads!
 

 Giveaway
 

I have one paperback copy of The Brightest Star to give away.

 Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at 6pm (AEST) on Thursday 21st July 2022.
 
 This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Book Review: The Bone Ranger by Louisa Bennett

The Bone Ranger
by
Louisa Bennett
 

Publication date: 18th November 2021
 
Series: Monty Dog Detective #2
 
Genre: Crime / Mystery
 
Pages: 314
 
RRP: $32.95AUD
 
Format read: Paperback 
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 
 
My review of The Bone Ranger
 
The Bone Ranger is such a fun read; amusing, enjoyable and a little bit quirky.
 
Detective Rose Sidebottom is suffering from PTSD after a near death experience and is on sick leave. When a woman begs Rose to find her missing friend. Then when a girl is found murdered, Rose can't help but become involved even though her boss has warned her off the case.
 
Rose has a strong connection with her dog Monty, a golden retriever, who even seems to understand her when she talks to him. I loved the connection between Monty and Rose and how Monty could understand Rose and he found unique ways of trying to get her to understand him, even though she didn't get it some of the time.
 
The story is a dual narrative with Monty in 1st person which I found appropriate and Rose in 3rd person. I felt the change between perspectives flowed smoothly. I loved how Louisa Bennett got right into the mind and thoughts of a dog which were quite often amusing and gave me a few chuckles.
As Rose and Monty endeavour to uncover the identity of the murdered girl they come across a mysterious case of missing dogs. This detective duo are joined by a rat named Betty, Dante the magpie and a hyperactive squirrel. The animal community band together to help solve the mystery.
 
Even though the story is light and fun it is still a compelling crime read with captivating mysteries, tension, danger and suspense thrown in to give a read that is engrossing.
 
The Bone Ranger is the second book in the Monty Dog Detective series however reads well as a stand alone. 
 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Photo credit Goodreads
Louisa studied Literature at the University of London and went on to learn Canine Linguistics from her Golden Retriever, Pickles, which is how she discovered what dogs really get up to when we're not around.
Truth be told, Pickles came up with the story for the Monty Dog Detective Mysteries, and Louisa just transcribed it. She's faster on the keyboard and less easily distracted by food and passing squirrels.
Louisa worked in magazine publishing before her eyes were opened to the world of woofers. She divides her time between London and Sydney, Australia, and runs courses on crime fiction and creative writing
To find out more about Monty the sniffer super-sleuth, please go to https://lalarkin.com/
 
Louisa Bennett also writes thrillers a L.A. Larkin 
 
Devour

 * I am saddened to add that Louisa's beloved dog Pickles passed away last week aged 12 years - RIP Pickles 💗

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Book Review: Someone Else's Child by Kylie Orr

 Someone Else's Child
by
Kylie Orr

If she were my child, 
I'd do anything to save her

Publisher: Harlequin Australia

Publication date: 1st June 2022
 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 352
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My review of Someone Else's Child
 
Kylie Orr has created a complex and charismatic character in Anna in this impressive debut novel.
Anna is the woman that everyone instantly loves and everyone wants to be friends with. She is gorgeous, sunny and outgoing. When she picks Ren, a community service worker, to be her best friend Ren feels forever grateful. She was never one of the popular girls.
Anna is raising money to take her young daughter overseas for cancer treatment and Ren throws herself into the fundraising.
 
Anna is a classic manipulator and Kylie Orr highlights this in Anna and Ren's one-sided relationship. It was hard to read at times how badly Anna treated Ren through a toxic friendship that Ren was blinded to. 
 
I have read a book with a slightly similar plot so I twigged to the outcome quite early however this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book as I was eager to see how the friendship would fair and when the tide would turn. What ensued was a gripping read filled with emotion, turmoil and shocking reveals.
A small side story of Courtney, a young single mother with a disabled child, highlights the need for respite care and how hard it is for carers to get some respite. The difference between young, shy Courtney begging for help and the bright, charismatic Anna getting attention from many sources tells us a lot about human nature.
 
The ending to this story is fast, furious and unexpected. Someone Else's Child is an intriguing tale about trust, friendship, manipulation, mental illness and the generosity of community. 
 
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Kylie Orr is a Melbourne-based writer who once kicked a winning goal in a charity football match and has never let her family hear the end of it. Over the past fifteen years, her feature articles have been published in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Life and across News Ltd. Kylie's novels explore the darker side of humanity and question what we understand about ourselves. Her debut novel Someone Else's Child was longlisted in the Richell Prize, the MsLexia International Novel Competition and awarded the Dymocks & Fiona McIntosh Commercial Fiction Masterclass scholarship. She has four children, just the one husband and a cat called Alfie who has surprised everyone by taking up space in her camera roll and on her reading chair.
 
 
Instagram: @kylieorr_writer
 
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Click cover to read review

Sunday, 3 July 2022

Book Review: Summer at Kangaroo Ridge by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge 
by
Nicole Hurley-Moore
 
Hiding secrets will always take its toll
 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
 
Publication date: 1st March 2022
 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Rural Romance
 
Pages: 272
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

My review of Summer at Kangaroo Ridge
 
It's been a long time since I've read a Nicole Hurley-Moore novel and reading Summer at Kangaroo Ridge brought back all the reasons I love her stories.
 
For the last eight years, since the tragic death of their parents, Tamara, her twin Sebastian and their aunt Maddie have been working to save the family farm, keep the family together and looking after their three younger siblings.
 
Right from the opening chapter I was immediately intrigued, Tam was in a secret relationship that she was sure Seb wouldn't approve of and although the two were twins a past trauma was causing unresolved conflict between them.  
 
Summer at Kangaroo Ridge has all the country feels; beautiful descriptive scenery, a small town location where people look after each other, a close knit family at the core of the story and a sweet romance.
 
Told through a dual timeline it was compelling reading and I enjoyed following the story as Tam and Seb, with the help of family and friends, tried to come to terms with their feelings of guilt.
 
I loved all the wedding preparation and decorating as Tam and Maddie converted the farm to a wedding reception venue.
Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is filled with charming, likeable characters. I enjoyed the relationship between Tam and younger brother Lix, he was her confidant and wise beyond his years. Tam's rocky romance had me eager to keep reading, following her highs and lows. 
 
Summer at Kangaroo Ridge is a heartwarming story brimming with country charm and a dash of mystery and drama.
Nicole Hurley-Moore doesn't disappoint with her latest novel about family, country life and forgiveness.

My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


 
 
About the author
 
Nicole Hurley-Moore grew up in Melbourne and has travelled extensively, whilst living her life through the romance of books. Nicole is a full-time writer who lives in the Central Highlands of Victoria with her family, where they live in the peaceful surrounds of a semi-rural town. She is the author of the immensely popular novels McKellan's Run, Hartley's Grange, Country Roads, White Gum Creek, Lawson's Bend, The McCalister Legacy and Summer at Kangaroo Ridge.  




 

Friday, 1 July 2022

Spotlight on other books I've read this month - June

 
Title: Helpless
Author: Marianne Marsh & Toni Maguire 
Genre: Non Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pub Date: 5th March 2009
Pages: 297
Source: Own purchase 
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
My review of Helpless

Absolutely heartbreaking!
I read this book in a day. Tony Maguire writes Marianne's story with candour.
A young, lonely little girl manipulated and abused by a trusted neighbour. It's impossible to imagine that nobody stopped him, nobody cared for this child.

Narrated in two time-lines; Marianne as a young child and then in middle-age, married with her own grown children.
One thing I noticed in this book is Marianne doesn't delve on her mental state, which I would presume was bad, just a few mentions of self harm. This story is not about garnering sympathy, it's a cleansing, a coming to terms with her past.

My deepest regret is the perpetrator doesn't appear to have been punished. It's hard not to wonder if other victims followed.
A highly recommended read.
 
Title: The Secret World of Connie Starr
Author: Robbi Neal
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin - HQ
Pub date: 1st June 2022
Pages: 436
Source: Better Reading Preview
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
 
My review of The Secret World of Connie Starr
  
The Secret World of Connie Starr is a powerful story set in the country town of Ballarat during and after WWII.
Through the Starr and Mabbett families Robbi Neal explores social and family issues relevant to the time period; the bonds of friendship, how the war affected all families, polio, air raid shelters, rationing and the importance of the church.

The story isn't so much about Connie but her whole family. Her father is the local pastor, a sensitive man who has bouts of depression due to feelings of failure. It is Connie's mother, Flora, who runs the household and supports the town folk in their time of need.
Robbi includes issues of underage sign-ups, teenage pregnancy and the loss of a child.
World events during the time period are seamlessly included throughout the narration.

A brilliantly observed story of people and their foibles, regrets, loves and disappointments.
 
Title: One of Us
Author: Kylie Kaden
Genre: Domestic Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Pantera Press
Pub date: 3rd May 2022 
Pages: 364
Source: Beauty & Lace Book Club
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My review of One of Us
 

In One of Us we get to climb security fences and peek through the hedges at the residents of an exclusive gated community.
The story follows the lives of two families on the Apple Tree Creek estate. Gertie and Ed have three children and have lived on the estate for five years when he tells her he needs a break and is moving out. Rachael new to the estate, pregnant with her third child, finds her sports star husband has cheated on her again. These two very different women soon become firm friends supporting each other.

One of Us is a gripping domestic noir filled with simmering secrets. I was intrigued with this story right from the prologue; a husband attacked and a wife in tears. The question of who was attacked is in the back of your mind as you read. Then there is the mystery of the attacker with many of the characters having a motive. 
 
Around these mysteries Kaden has written a story about marriage and motherhood, what goes on behind closed doors and women trying to do their best whilst fighting their own feelings of failure and struggling under the burden. There are multiple themes throughout the novel that I am sure will resonate with readers. 

This review is part of the Beauty & Lace Book Club
See the original review HERE