Monday 31 July 2023

Book Review: Look Both Ways by Linwood Barclay

 Look Both Ways


Linwood Barclay

They think as one. They act as one. They kill as one.
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 3 August 2022
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 448
RRP: $32.99AU  (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Look Both Ways 

I am a big fan of Linwood Barclay's novels and I love how he develops his truly evil characters with no morals. So, I was a bit sceptical about a story involving self-drive cars. I mean, how evil can a car be? Very evil apparently!

Barclay has picked the perfect setting; an island where accessibility is limited.
Everyone on Garrett Island has been given battery powered self-drive cars. For one month these voice activated cars will do all the driving. For one month there will be no road deaths and no accidents as the cars communicate and monitor everything around them. Sounds like heaven, what could possibly  go wrong?

Look Both Ways was one wild ride and I was on the edge of my seat as the AI in the cars started working together and turn against their owners.
The cliff-hanger chapter endings had me compelled to keep the pages turning. The dark humour interspersed throughout the story kept me amused and as it moved along the pace picked up and the book becomes very hard to put down.

I didn't think this was going to be in the usual Barclay style however he did come through with the murder, mayhem and jaw-dropping twists I have come to expect.

Look Both Ways will have you looking at self-drive cars in a whole new light.
5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Linwood has sold more then 7 million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he has lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children.

Friday 28 July 2023

Book Review: Don't Make a Fuss: It's only the Claremont serial killer by Wendy Davis

 Don't Make a Fuss

It's only the Claremont serial Killer


Wendy Davis

Publisher: Fremantle Press
Publication date: 1st June 2022
Genre: Non-Fiction (memoir)
Pages: 216
Source: own copy

Review: Don't Make a Fuss: It's only the Claremont Serial Killer

Don't Make a Fuss is a brave and courageous memoir highlighting the ongoing culture of women's unimportance and  suppression.
Wendy was attacked at her workplace by Bradley Edwards. Wendy's attack was minimised and her account ignored by both police and authorities. Edwards went on to murder two, possibly three, women in the Claremont area which sparked a police investigation spanning decades.

Wendy Davis tells her story in this important novel broken up between present-day and the current investigation, and at the time of the attack 30 years ago and how it affected her.

I was appalled how the initial attack on Wendy had little consequence for the perpetrator, brushed under the carpet. However, it affected Wendy's life for years to come.
The story made me angry how crimes against women are being downplayed and because Wendy had a strong personality her trauma was devalued. She was expected to just get on with it.
I can't even fathom the monumental stress she has had to live with during the dragged out court case with years passing from arrest to sentence of this evil man.

I do hope that writing this book has been cathartic for Wendy. However, I am sure that the events of 1990 will be with her forever.

Thank you Wendy for this insightful memoir. We need to make a fuss and not only be heard but also actioned upon appropriately 

4 /5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday 26 July 2023

Book Review: Four Dogs Missing by Rhys Gard

 Four Dogs Missing


Rhys Gard

Publisher: Echo Publishing
Publication date: 4th July 2023
Genre: Crime
Pages: 324
RRP: $32.99 (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Four Dogs Missing

Four Dogs Missing is the riveting debut crime novel by Rhys Gard.
Oliver is a recluse living in the small rural town of Mudgee, where everyone wants to know your business, he is viewed as unfriendly and standoffish however no-one can deny that he makes award winning wines. Oliver has a family history that he would prefer no-one knew about.

I was immediately pulled into the mystery as Theo, Oliver's identical twin brother, arrives at the vineyard after 15 years of no contact.

There are multiple mysteries running through the storyline and as the body count starts to mount with no clear motive for the murders,all clues point to Oliver.

Four Dogs Missing has an intricate and twisty plot. I was bouncing back and forward as to who I thought the murderer was.
Rhys's characters are complex and we are given a huge insight into their individual thoughts and personalities. This gave me an added connection to the characters which in turn had me eager for another book involving the same characters. Let's just say I'm not ready to let them go just yet.

Rhys Gard portrays an astute sense of the remoteness and solitude the area evokes which adds to the overall atmosphere of the story.
Four Dogs Missing is not your typical police procedural crime novel as Oliver, the winemaker, does all the detective work himself, leaving the police mostly in the dark.

If you like your crime with a splash of good wine, this is the book for you!

5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Rhys Gard is a writer and a chef. Between careers, he studies English and Film at the University of New South Wales. He has worked as a journalist, marketer, wine writer and restaurateur. He lives in Mudgee. Four Dogs Missing is his first novel.

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Book Review: The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street by Marlish Glorie

 The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street


Marlish Glorie

Publisher: Fremantle Press
Publication date: 2nd May 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 304
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty and Lace Book Club

My review of The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street

The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street was originally published in 2009 and has been re-released by Fremantle Press with a new, modern updated cover.

The book opens on quite a dramatic scene as Helen has  had enough of her husband's hoarding and living with dead people's belongings, she drags her bed outside and attacks it with an axe.

Helen, hoping to start a new life, eventually leaves her husband and with the help of her long-time neighbour, Astrid, she buys an old rundown bookshop. 

I quite enjoyed this quirky and poignant story about the messiness that is family. Glorie shows how serious hoarding can destroy relationships. Helen and Arnold's two sons had left home to get away from the mess and they very rarely saw them but when they heard their mother had actually left their father, both boys found their way home.

Marlish Glorie's writing is witty and candid. I felt this story was a bit of a tragi-comedy. It's a story of love, loss and grief, of second chances and doing the best you can. I loved the finely nuanced characters, all inexplicably tied to each other. The story is funny at times and at other times quite profound.

I'm a bit of a hoarder myself, not to the extent that Arnold hoards, but I love teacups and teapots. And of course books!

This quote in the book had me in stitches, because this is exactly what I tell my children. đŸ€ŁđŸ€Ł

"One day, all this will be yours. And Vivian's. It's your inheritance. I've been thinking about your future."

 The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street may not be to everyone's liking, but I loved it!

5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Marlish Glorie is a novelist, short story writer, mentor and teacher of creative writing. Her short stories have been published in national anthologies. Marlish lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband. She is currently working on another novel, and also volunteers at Trillion Trees.

Friday 21 July 2023

Book Review: The Willow Tree Wharf by LĂ©onie Kelsall

 The Willow Tree Wharf


LĂ©onie Kelsall

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 4th July 2023
Genre: Rural Romance
Pages: 420
RRP: $29.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Willow Tree Wharf

With The Willow Tree Wharf LĂ©onie Kelsall has written a slow-burn romance with depth and compassion. 
All LĂ©onie's books read well on their own however if you read them in order you get that extra level of character connection.

I absolutely loved being back in Settlers Bridge with old friends from LĂ©onie's previous books; Roni, Jack, Lucie, Gabrielle, Tracey and Christine. This is one fabulous community and I love feeling a part of it whilst I read.

Samantha is in an abusive relationship and her husband has gaslighted her so much she is afraid to open her mouth. She had no self worth and was very insecure.
"After so many years she should have known better than to provoke him."
These are the thoughts of someone who has been spoken down to all their married life. 
Kelsall brings the whole community together as they close ranks around Samantha. Small towns are known for their gossipers but they also know how to protect their own. 
Pierce is a city boy, he has spent his life appeasing his parents and working in their restaurant with their rules. He would love to branch out and live his own dream but feels trapped by obligation.
I enjoyed the parallels between Sam's and Pierce's lives. Even though their circumstances were poles apart they were both forfeiting their dreams and happiness for someone else.
Lots of road bumps and misunderstandings made for an immersive read that had me eagerly reading knowing that all will come good in the end. That's what I love about romance!
LĂ©onie's novels are extra special because they have layers of depth as well as the happy endings I expect.
 5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Raised initially in a tiny, no-horse town on South Australia's Fleurieu coast, then in the slightly more populated wheat and sheep farming land at Pallamana, LĂ©onie Kelsall is a country girl through and through. Growing up without a television, she developed a love of reading before she reached primary school, swiftly followed by a desire to write.
LĂ©onie entertained a brief fantasy of moving to the big city (well, Adelaide), but within months the lure of the open spaces and big sky country summoned her home. Now she splits her time between the stark, arid beauty of the family farm at Pallamana and her home and counselling practice in the lush Adelaide Hills.  
Reviews of LĂ©onie's other books:

Thursday 20 July 2023

Book Review: The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

The Unbreakables


Lisa Barr

When your life falls apart.......  create a new one 
Publisher: Welbeck Publishing Group
Publication date: 2nd May 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 352
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Unbreakables 

Who could ever forget the big Ashley Madison blow-up! Author Lisa Barr has used this as the inspiration behind her latest novel, The Unbreakables.
Three couples, best friends, all happily married until one couple finds the husband's infidelity splashed  all over the internet.
Sophie is shattered, her perfect life and perfect friendships all collapse in one devastating night. Sophie flees to Paris to be with her teenage daughter and to ponder what she really wants from life.

The Unbreakables is a wonderful story about finding yourself and rebuilding your life. Sophie had spent the last twenty years looking after her husband and daughter, neglecting herself and her own needs. She thought she was happy but when it all fell apart she could see that they were willing to take all of her and give nothing in return.

I loved the backdrop of Paris! If you are going to nurse a broken heart, Paris is the place to do it.
The "finding yourself threesome" may be a bit cliched but there are lots of gems of wisdom dispensed throughout the novel.

Barr highlights how easy it is for women to get lost in wifedom and motherhood, leaving their career, and often their true self is squashed, hidden under their duty to others.

The Unbreakables has all the ingredients of an on screen drama; conflict, setting, pace, drama, gas-lighting and eclectic characters.
I liked that the book was set in parts and each part focused on a portion of Sophie's journey from the betrayal, running away, the release, the awakening to acceptance and closure. 

4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Lisa Barr is the New York Times bestselling author of Woman on Fire, The Unbreakables and the award-winning historical thriller Fugitive Colours, which won the IPPY gold medal for Best Literary Fiction 2014 and first prize at The Hollywood Film Festival (Opus Magnum Discovery Award).
Lisa served as an editor for The Jerusalem Post, managing editor of Today's Chicago Woman, managing editor of Moment magazine, and as an editor/reporter for Chicago Sun-Times.
In breaking book news: Actress Sharon Stone is set to produce and star in the film adaptation of Woman on Fire.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Winners of my July 2023 Giveaway announced!

A huge thank you to everyone who entered my latest giveaway.  The giveaway closed on the 14th July 2023 and all names were entered into a randomized generator using Random org and the first five names won books of their choice.
Congratulations to   
Janet R 
who won copies of Undara & Exiles
 Pam S 
who won copies of The Ghost of Gracie Flynn & After the Smoke Clears
 Penny W 
who won copies of A Man of Honour and Headcase
 Richard H 
who won Into the Night & Shelter from the Storm
Warrick W 
who won copies of Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls & Inkflower
The winners have been notified and have seven days to provide a mailing address. I hope you enjoy your books.
Please check under the Giveaway tab for more great giveaways!   

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

 The Dry


Jane Harper

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 31st May 2016
Series: Aaron Falk #1
Genre: Crime
Pages: 339
Source: Own book

Review: the Dry

My enjoyment of this book was probably ruined by seeing the movie before reading the book. And with almost 222,000 rating on Goodreads I think I may be the only person, in Australia, who hasn't read the book.

Aaron Falk arrives back in his hometown of Kiewarra to attend the funeral of his friend Luke, Luke's wife and son. It has been deemed by all as a murder-suicide. It's been hard times for farmers and many have reached breaking point.

The Dry is set during a lengthy drought and Harper never lets her readers forget how stifling hot it is and how dangerously dry the land is.
As Falk spends more time in his hometown and delves further into Luke's life he is also forced to confront his past and the reason he left town 20 years ago.

Harper shows us the darker side of a close-knit community, with lies and secrets being held for decades, victimisation and bullying by police.
With flashbacks in italics the story moves smoothly between now and then.

I would have liked there to be more people to suspect as I couldn't see anyone had a motive to murder the family. Some strategically placed red herrings would have made the story more immersive.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Jane Harper is the internationally bestselling author of the The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors. Her books are published in forty territories worldwide, and The Dry has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Eric Bana. Jane has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne with her husband and two children.

Thursday 6 July 2023

Giveaway: July 2023 Winter Book Giveaway

 I've been promising to post a giveaway for some time now and as Australia Post are increasing their postage prices yet again I'm doing a quick giveaway before prices go up.

I've gone through all my shelves and I had quite a few doubles where the publisher had sent me two books and also a couple of books that I have purchased twice in error.
Below is a wonderful selection from some of our fabulous Aussie authors.

I will be picking 5 winners who will each receive two books from their list. Please check the books on the list you are interested in winning and list in order of preference. First winner will receive their first preferences and so on.

Good luck everyone!!
Within the treacherous caves of Undara, a betrayal will test the bonds of friendship and family. A page-turning new eco-adventure for readers who love Di Morrissey.
When entomologist Emlyn Rees arrives at Hidden Valley she wants nothing more than to escape her marriage breakdown by burying herself in the research team's hunt for new species of insects in the depths of the dramatic Undara lava tubes. However, little does she suspect she will be the key to solving a mystery that's more than one hundred years old. Travis Carlyle is initially resistant to letting some city folks tramp over his cattle station, but soon the researchers' findings and a growing friendship with Emlyn bring opportunities to turn around his struggling farm. With a broken marriage behind him and children to care for, Travis needs to plan for the future and this could be his family's best chance. But when things start going wrong for the farm and around the dig site, Emlyn and Travis are at a loss to understand why. Are they cursed with bad luck, or is there a more sinister force at play? Are the tall tales of enigmatic stockman Bluey turning true? As the unseen saboteur grows bolder, Emlyn and Travis are caught in a race against time to save the station ... and their lives.
Her family offered her a neat life of privilege and power, until Lotti turned away from her father’s plans – and toward what she really wanted. Now happy as a primary school teacher, Lotti may even have found the right man, a single dad, not the kind of guy who will fit in with her family, but who nonetheless feels like home.

But Lotti isn’t the only one running from her past. August’s strong silent demeanour may be part of his attraction, but as they get closer, his inability to talk about his past begins to interfere with their future.

When August receives a cryptic text message that prompts an immediate departure, Lotti and Augie’s six-year-old son Otto follow him to his small hometown where decades of lies begin to unravel. When details of a shocking crime emerge, Lotti will have to decide if she trusts the man August has become more than she fears the man he once was.
Excitable girls rush out to meet life; what could go wrong? A masterful debut about the terrifying thrills of innocence from a voice of experience.

Teenagers sneak out to the creek for a wild New Year's Eve party. A sleep-deprived woman who imagines she is pregnant to a Viking faces her scathing sixteen-year-old self. A woman in love wakes up in a van Gogh painting.

These gem-like stories are about the desire to rush out and meet life; about getting in over your head; about danger, and damage, and what it means to survive – and not always survive – the risk of being young. They chart the borderlands between girls and women, daughters and mothers, freedom and fear.

Emerging fully-formed and singing songs of both innocence and experience, Anne Casey-Hardy is the rarest of new voices: at the same time reckless and entirely in control; funny and frightening; wise and full-blooded.
A Chinese astronaut is found dead in a NASA training environment in Houston, Texas. No one can explain how he got there. Amid fears of a diplomatic catastrophe, the CIA dispatches Timothy 'Hangman' Blake to investigate, because a convicted kidnapper works in the facility - someone Blake put away a long time ago.

Blake is deeply insane, afflicted by terrible urges he can barely control - but he's also brilliant. Zara, his beautiful and deadly CIA handler, suspects a secret Chinese spacecraft is surveilling the United States, but Blake can see something much more sinister is going on. Something connected to the kidnapping seven years ago, to the technologies being developed at NASA, and to the serial killer known as the Texas Reaper.

Will Blake survive long enough to uncover the truth? And if he does, will anyone even believe him?
Troubled and brilliant, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock finds herself lost and alone after a recent move to Melbourne, brokenhearted by the decisions she's had to make. Her new workplace is a minefield and Detective Sergeant Nick Fleet, the partner she has been assigned, is uncommunicative and often hostile. When a homeless man is murdered and Gemma is put on the case, she can't help feeling a connection with the victim and his lonely, isolated existence.

Then Sterling Wade, an up-and-coming actor filming his breakout performance in a closed-off city street, is murdered in the middle of an action-packed shot, and Gemma and Nick have to put aside their differences to unravel the mysteries surrounding the actor's life and death. Who could commit such a brazen crime? Who stands to profit from it? Far too many people, and none of them can be trusted. Gemma can't imagine a pair of victims with less in common--and yet as Gemma and Fleet soon learn, both men were keeping secrets that may have led to their deaths. 
A gritty YA novel about family secrets, hope and healing. Based on a true story.

Lisa’s father has six months to live. And a story to tell about a boy sent to Auschwitz. A boy who lost everything and started again. A story he has kept hidden – until now.

But Lisa doesn’t want to hear it, because she has secrets too. No one at school knows she is Jewish or that her dad is sick. Not even her boyfriend.

But that’s all about to change. And so is she.
Two deaths, eighteen years apart. A tension-filled mystery by debut author Joanna Morrison.

Gracie Flynn may be dead, but she's not gone. Three university friends are divided by a tragic death. Eighteen years later, chance reunites them. Robyn is still haunted by memories of her best friend Gracie, and Cohen's heart has never healed. Only Sam seems to have moved on and found success and happiness. But death rocks their lives again when Sam's body is found in mysterious circumstances. And the ghost of Gracie Flynn has a story to tell about the night that changed their lives forever.
One fine March day in 1868, gunshots rang out at a society charity event in Sydney's harbourside suburb of Clontarf. In the aftermath, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh - son of Queen Victoria - lay close to death, while the assembled crowd seized and beat his attacker, Irish-born Henry James O'Farrell. Who was this character who began the day a complete unknown and ended it as the young colony's most hated man?
A Man of Honour is a richly textured, lyrical reimagining of O'Farrell's life, before and after the would-be assassination. Simon Smith paints a portrait of a very modern anti-hero: a man whose love for his family, his God, his birth country and his Fenian brotherhood is strong, but whose life is ultimately skewed by illness and by the cruelty of some of those closest to him. Drawing on contemporary newspaper accounts and on O'Farrell's actual words as revealed in gaol-cell interviews, court transcripts and his own writings, Smith asks: What makes a charming, sensitive and erudite man want to arm himself and shoot the son of the world's most powerful ruler? Is he a terrorist, a patriot, a hero?
At a busy festival site on a warm spring night, a baby lies alone in her pram, her mother vanishing into the crowds.

A year on, Kim Gillespie’s absence casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather deep in the heart of South Australian wine country to welcome a new addition to the family.

Joining the celebrations is federal investigator Aaron Falk. But as he soaks up life in the lush valley, he begins to suspect this tight-knit group may be more fractured than it seems.

Between Falk’s closest friend, a missing mother, and a woman he’s drawn to, dark questions linger as long-ago truths begin to emerge.

An outstanding novel, a brilliant mystery and a heart-pounding read from the author of The Dry, Force of Nature, The Lost Man and The Survivors.
Fiercely independent naval officer, Patience Cartwright has never had a place to call home, but she knows where she doesn't belong. After an unhappy childhood and a badly broken heart, she'll never return to the country.

But to save her career, Patience is forced to accept a secondment - to an environmental team working near the town where she grew up. There she encounters once more the infuriatingly attractive biologist Hugo Halstead - the very man she's sworn never to forgive.

Given their history, Hugo, as self-assured and honest as Patience is secretive and self-contained, has vowed never to trust her again, but that doesn't stop him feeling just as helplessly drawn to her complicated mix of courage and fragility as he ever was.

As Patience recuperates from a life-threatening illness in the small country town of Horseshoe Hill, she realises the beauty of the landscape and close-knit community promise something very different to the future she's mapped out.

But could the secrets she keeps and the shadows of her past, send her adrift all over again?
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced here:

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Book Review: One More Time by Mandy Magro

One More Time


Mandy Magro

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 7th June 2023
Genre: Romance
Pages: 352
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Review: One More Time

Mandy Magro has written a heart-wrenching and meaningful story about life, love and second chances.

Charlie Wilson is attending his ex-wife's 70th birthday party. His life has not been easy, he has many regrets and the 'what ifs' play heavily on his mind. fate steps in and magically gives Charlie a second chance at life.

One More Time is not your normal love story. There are lots of I love yous and sweet endearments however Mandy Magro has thrown everything at her characters to test the bounds of their love and sometimes they break.
I love that one of the main characters is a Vietnam veteran, there aren't enough stories about these brave and underrated soldiers.
With themes of PTSD, survivors guilt and alcoholism and the effect this has on relationships. PTSD and survivors guilt not only destroys the sufferer's life but also the lives of those who love them and Magro shows this with candour and compassion. There are also strong themes of love, forgiveness and not giving up on each other.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Mandy Magro lives in Cairns, Far North Queensland, with her fiance, Des, their daughter, Chloe Rose, and their two adorable pooches, Sophie and Sherlock. With pristine aqua-blue coastline in one direction and sweeping rural landscapes in the other, she describes her home as heaven on earth. A passionate woman and a romantic at heart, Mandy loves writing about soul-deep love, the Australian way of life, and the wonderful characters who call the country home.

Sunday 2 July 2023

Book Review: The Stolen Hours by Karen Swan

 The Stolen Hours


Karen Swan

A reluctant bride. A forbidden romance.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 26th April 2023
Series: The Wild Isle #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 415
RRP: $34.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Stolen Hours

The Stolen Hours is the second book in The Wild Isle series and is just as fabulously intriguing as the first. I love that Karen Swan has added a note to the reader in the front of the book giving a quick recap of the first book, The Last Summer.

I thought I had it all worked out at the end of the first book however this startling new story, set over the same time period, only from a different character's POV, left me with more questions and serious doubt as to my previous thoughts.

The Stolen Hours is from Effie's good friend Mhairi's point of view. Mhairi takes a trip to the island of Harris to meet a farmer in need of a wife. Whilst away from her family Mhairi falls in love; but not with the man she is now obligated to marry. Christianity and God's wrath weigh in heavily in this novel and Mhairi's concerns for her virtue are real. She feels like a fallen woman, through no fault of her own, and these feelings go on to manufacture the course of her last few months on St Kilda.

I loved seeing Effie from a different point of view and since this book's focus is on Mhairi I was feeling a compulsion to reread The Last Summer to see what hints I had missed about Mhairi's life.

Even though this book is set over the same time period with the same characters it is a whole separate story. So don't think this will be a rehash of a plot you have read before.
A bitter winter in a harsh unforgiving land and a village that works as one; betrothals, secrets, death, superstitions, loyalty and friendships, The Stolen Hours is a must read.

I finished this book eager for more!

My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Karen Swan is the Sunday Times top three bestselling author of twenty-four books and her novels sell all over the world. She writes two books each year - one for the summer period and one for the Christmas season. 
Previously a fashion editor, she lives in Sussex with her husband, three children and two dogs.
The Stolen Hours is the second of a five-book historical series called The Wild Isle, based on the dramatic evacuation of Scottish island St Kilda in the summer of 1930.

Saturday 1 July 2023

Book Review: After the Smoke Clears by Kylie Kaden

 After the Smoke Clears


Kylie Kaden

A family. A small town. A lifetime of secrets.
Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication date: 2nd May 2023
Genre: Crime / Rural
Pages: 320
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: courtesy of Beauty & Lace Book Club

This review first appeared on Beauty and Lace Book Club

Review: After the Smoke Clears

School teacher Lotti finds herself falling for August Nash and his 6 year old son Otto. Auggie has a bad boy outer shell but a mushy and gentle heart although he refuses to open up about his past. When August heads back to his hometown after receiving an urgent call for help from a friend, Lotti along with Otto decides to follow him.

As she asks around in Auggie’s hometown she starts to wonder if she really knows the man at all. What dark secrets is he hiding?

After the Smoke Clears, narrated by both Auggie and Lotti in present day 2009 and also by Auggie in 1989, is a compelling mystery read that slowly unfolds over both timelines.

Kylie Kaden has written a small country town mystery with themes of institutionalised abuse, mental illness, feeling of shame and victimisation.

I loved all the 80’s nostalgia throughout the story and Kaden’s depiction of small town policing and bullying were well portrayed. I did however find the story a bit too angst ridden for my liking and I felt the plot kept running round in circles and not moving forward fast enough for me. Still, a compelling read.

My rating 3.5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐½ 

About the author

Kylie Kaden has an honours degree in psychology, was a columnist at My Child Magazine, and now works in the disability sector.
She knew writing was in her blood from a young age when she snuck onto her brother's Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Raised in Queensland, she spent holidays camping with her family on the Sunshine Coast.
With a surfer-lawyer for a husband and three spirited sons, Kylie can typically be found venting the day's thoughts on her laptop, sometimes in the laundry so she can't be found.
After the Smoke Clears is her fifth novel.

You can read my review of One of Us by Kylie Kaden at this link: