Monday 22 May 2023

Book Review: The Signatory by Stuart Black

 The Signatory


Stuart Black

Loyalty can be a deadly virtue
Publisher: Glass House Books
Publication date: 20th April 2023
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 230
RRP: $33.00AU (Paperback)
Source: Courtesy of DMCPRMedia

My review of The Signatory

The Signatory is a gripping crime novel centred around, what you would think to be, the very safe world of marketing. 

Successful start-up company The Bold Agency has been bought out by the large global company, YRG. The takeover is going well and owner Sam Pride is enjoying the money. When his chief finance officer, Chaz Bailey, starts digging around into some of YRG's dealings and questions arise about the takeover, Chaz is kidnapped and his life is threatened unless an incriminating document is handed over.
Sam now finds himself in a fight for survival whilst he tries to uncover the person behind the fraud and also save his friend.

The Signatory is a great story set around the corporate world of advertising. It's very clear that Stuart Black knows his subject.

The only downside for me was the constant changing point of view which hindered the flow of the story. It felt like it was jumping all over the place.

The Signatory is a compelling story with corporate crime, greed and murder taking centre stage. A story filled with twists and turns until the final chapter.

My rating 3.5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐½

About the author

Stuart Black worked for Saatchi & Saatchi in Sydney and London, before becoming the founding partner and CEO of South-East Asia's leading healthcare communications group, Ward6.
Alongside his career in advertising, Stuart is the author of two novels. In 2003, he had a manuscript shortlisted for the NSW Writers' Centre Popular Fiction Competition and in 2009, published the psychological thriller Shallow Water.
Stuart's second novel, The Signatory, is based on his intimate knowledge of the international corporate world. Stuart is married and has two children.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Book Review: In a New York Minute by Kate Spencer

 In a New York Minute


Kate Spencer

Their love story has gone viral. But it hasn't even begun.... 
Publisher: Macmillan Australia

Publication date: 29th March 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance / RomCom
Pages: 309
RRP: $26.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of In a New York Minute

I really enjoyed this lighthearted romcom. A meet-cute with a backdrop of New York City.

Just when she thinks she is on the way up and due for a promotion Franny is put off her job. Her life goes from bad to worse when her dress is caught in the subway door and tears wide open. Hayes is on the same train and seeing Franny is now a blubbering mess gives her his jacket to cover up. Franny is mortified when she finds out their encounter was videoed and is now trending on Instagram as #subwayQTs.
"The world's worst meet-cute had been turned into an adorable romantic comedy that everyone was talking about'
Franny hopes to never see the Hot Suit guy again but the universe has a different idea when they keep bumping into each other.
In a New York Minute was such a fun read. A slow burn romance with just the right amount of angst. 
Franny is vivacious and outgoing although she harbours insecurity and self-doubt . Hayes is awkward, methodical and a workaholic. This was a perfect opposites attract story!
I loved Franny's friends and it's so nice to read about females supporting each other and genuinely happy about each other's successes. Everyone needs friends like Cleo and Lola.
New York shines bright in this novel and Kate Spencer's love for the city radiates throughout the book. 
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Kate Spencer is the co-host of the award-winning podcast Forever35 and author of the memoir The Dead Mom's Club. In a New York Minute is her first novel. She writes a bi-monthly column for In Style, and her written work has been published by the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, and numerous other places. Previously she worked as a senior editor and producer at VH1.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters.



Tuesday 16 May 2023

Book Review: Into the Night by Fleur McDonald

 Into the Night


Fleur McDonald

Arson, suicide or worse? Detective Dave Burrows investigates his most mystifying case.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Publication date: 4th April 2023 
Genre: Crime / Rural
Pages:  352
RRP: $29.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Into the Night

Fleur McDonald has delivered another compelling crime novel with Into the Night.
Det. Dave Burrows is called in to assist with investigations into the disappearance of a farmer after his farm goes up in flames.
I'm always excited when I hear another Dave Burrows novel is coming out. It's not by chance that Dave is loved by readers all over Australia. Fleur McDonald writes authentic characters with relatable problems and Dave may be tough but he wears his heart on his sleeve.
I was quickly pulled into the mystery of Leo's disappearance and with chapters ending on little cliffhangers I was urged to read that 'one more chapter', as the mystery deepens and the story becomes all the more engrossing.
Running through the police investigation Fleur includes many themes relating to farming and small rural communities. Such as; small towns dying off when there is no work, the risk of fires, marriage problems due to the relentless work hours of farmers, sibling rivalry and cash flow problems.
I loved the way Dave and his mentor, Bob Holden, bounce off each other and the clear affection that they have for each other.
Dave Burrows is the quintessential Aussie hero. Into the Night is a must read for rural crime fans!
My rating 5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Fleur McDonald has lived and worked on farms for much of her life. After growing up in the  small town of Orroroo in South Australia, she went jillarooing, eventually co-owning an 8000-acre property in regional Western Australia.
Fleur likes to write about strong women over-coming adversity, drawing on inspiration from her own experiences in rural Australia. She has two children and an energetic kelpie. 

Saturday 13 May 2023

Book Review: A Woman's Work by Victoria Purman

 A Woman's Work


Victoria Purman

Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 5th April 2023
Genre: Women's Fiction / Historical
Pages:  358 
RRP: $32.99AU (Paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of A Woman's Work

A Woman's Work is a poignant look at the expected role of married women post WWII Australia.
Set in 1950's Australia when the chance of winning a cash prize in a cooking competition could open up a wealth of opportunity.
Told through the dual narrative of two Australian mothers; Ivy Quinn, war widow and single mum to 12yo Raymond, and wife and mother of five, Kathleen O'Grady.

Victoria Purman knows how to immerse her readers into the lives of others. We get a very personal view of both Ivy and Kathleen's lives; their dreams, internal conflicts and despair.

Ivy is a single working mum, she constantly worries if she is doing enough for Raymond, he has no father figure and she is concerned this may have a negative effect on him.
Kathleen, a SAHM of five, finds her days overwhelmed with washing, cleaning and cooking. Her and her husband have grown apart and she feels lost.
Both women find a new purpose and confidence when they decide to enter the Australian Women's Weekly recipe competition with a  cash prize of £600.

I immediately connected with Ivy and her son Raymond. Kathleen took me longer to work out. I didn't like her at all until the penny dropped and I realised she had severe depression (sometimes I need these things spelled out to me).

I loved all the cooking and recipes and whilst reading I had so many things I would have liked to ask my grandmother about. I also enjoyed all the nostalgia Purman invokes with the inclusion of rationing, movies of the time, fantales, the Melbourne Olympics and Bex powders.

A Woman's Work is a truly engaging read, and even though set in the past is perfect for contemporary fiction readers.

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 Nurses' War, 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 and the 2022 ASA/HQ Commercial Fiction Prize for an unpublished manuscript.

I'm off to make some cheese and gherkin scones! 😀

Monday 8 May 2023

Book Review: Falling by T. J. Newman



T. J. Newman

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 2nd June 2021
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
Pages: 304
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback) 
Source: Own copy

My review of Falling

Come aboard and buckle up for the ride of your life!
Falling is fast-paced and adrenaline fuelled. I was hooked from the very first page.
T. J. Newman has presented her main character, Capt. Bill Hoffman, with a moral dilemma; he is told to crash the plane he is piloting or his family will be murdered. While Bill grapples with trying to keep the plane safely in the air his cabin crew work to keep the passengers alive long enough to land.

Falling was a fast read for me, a taut breathtaking thriller and literally unputdownable. Newman ends each chapter on a tiny cliff-hanger that urged me to keep reading. The tension was palpable and the action never stops. I actually found myself holding my breath at times.

Great characters, from the pilot and cabin crew to Bill's calm and feisty wife and FBI agent Theo Baldwin, come together to make Falling a wonderfully engaging read.

I loved that the cabin crew, pilot and ground staff were so professional and rather than instill a fear of flying the story makes you feel like, if something does go terribly wrong, you are in safe hands.

T. J. Newman uses her experience as a flight attendant to deliver scenarios that are believable, if not a little stretched, and characters that are real.

I am more than a little excited to get my hands on Drowning which will be released on 1st June 2023.
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

T. J. Newman, a former bookseller turned flight attendant, worked for Virgin America and Alaska Airlines from 2011 to 2021. She wrote much of Falling on  cross-country red-eye flights while her passengers were asleep. she lives in Phoenix, Arizona. This is her first novel.


Friday 5 May 2023

Book Review: New Beginnings in the Little Irish Village by Michelle Vernal

 New Beginnings in the Little Irish Village


Michelle Vernal

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date: 4th may 2023
Genre: Romance (RomCom)
Pages: 305
RRP: $4.99AU (Kindle)
Source: eBook courtesy of the publisher

My review of New Beginnings in the Little Irish Village

New Beginnings in the Little Irish Village is such a fun story! I loved it from start to finish! It is a warmhearted romcom set in the small village of Emerald Bay where everyone knows your business and nobody seems to mind that it's that way.

Michelle Vernal has delivered a whole town of quirky and lovable characters. The story is just as much about the whole town as it is about the main character, Imogen Kelly, one of the five Kelly sisters.

Imogen, a highly successful Dublin interior designer, has returned home to Emerald Bay to complete an interior design project at Benmore House, the home of her first love Lachlan Leslie. A high school romance she still hasn't found closure with. Whilst at home surrounded by her family Imogen reflects on her own lifestyle choices and her current romance with a man 27years her senior.
New Beginnings in the Little Irish Village is a light read, a feel good story with plenty of humour at Imogen's expense. Imogen takes all the mishaps with good grace and is even able to have a laugh at herself, making her a very endearing character.

I really enjoyed this story about families, celebrations, reconnecting with your true self and new beginnings. I loved getting to know all the townsfolk of Emerald Bay and Imogen's large and loving family. I am looking forward to reading Christmas in the Little Irish Village and being back with them all again.

My rating 5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Michelle Vernal is a New Zealand author who writes stories that will take you onto the page with her characters and make you feel part of their lives. She writes with humour and warmth, and her readers describe her books as unputdownable, feel good and funny. Her writing has been likened to Maeve Binchy but with a modern-day vernacular. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Love Stories Award. In 2020 she won the Reader's Favorite Gold Medal Award for Chick lit, and in 2021 was shortlisted for the Page Turner Book Awards.
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Monday 1 May 2023

Book Review: Picture You Dead by Peter James

 Picture You Dead


Peter James

The ultimate find.  The ultimate price.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Publication date: 26th July 2022
Series: Roy Grace #18 
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 448
RRP: $34.99AU Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Picture You Dead 

Peter James' eighteenth Roy Grace novel brings his readers right into the high stakes world of antique art.

Roy Grace and his team are working on the four year old cold case murder of an art dealer.

Harry Kipling and his wife uncover what may be a long lost Fragonard painting after picking it up from a car boot sale. If it is genuine it could be worth millions!
Roy Grace and his team soon find themselves plunged into the deadly world of fine art and the Kipling's world will be changed forever but it may not be the dream they envisioned.

Peter James has excelled in his research for this book. I was totally drawn into the world of fine art and art forgery and found myself googling the masterpieces and famous forgers.
Drawing inspiration from a real life art forger James has delivered a story that is as fascinating as it is engrossing. The deadly world of fine art involves underhanded dealings, forgery, theft, double crossing and even murder. Some collectors will stop at nothing to get the piece they want!

Whilst Picture You Dead is a compelling police procedural, James also builds on the development of his main group of characters and the reader attains a peek into their personal lives and their ups and downs.

A few things I loved about this book were; the short paragraphs, the inclusion of advances in forensics and DNA identification, the use of technology from onboard car computers, the backstory came in short bursts, the scene at Antiques Roadshow (I love that show), the inclusion of a character with type 1 diabetes, the criminals are purely evil.
I have no qualms about recommending this series to all crime readers. 
All Peter James' Roy Grace novels read well as standalone.

My rating 5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his Detective Superintendent Roy Grace series, now a hit ITV drama starring John Simm as the troubled Brighton copper. Peter has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award and the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger.
To date, Peter has written an impressive total of nineteen Sunday Times number ones, and his books have sold over 21 million copies worldwide and been translated into thirty-eight languages. 

Other books by Peter James I have reviewed