Thursday 31 August 2023

Book Review: The Summer Place by Janette Paul

 The Summer Place


Janette Paul

Three women, lives adrift, and a life-changing beach

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 26th April 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 384
RRP: $34.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Summer Place

The Summer Place is a thoroughly enjoyable, heartwarming story about love, healing and friendship.
Told through the perspective of three women, each broken in different ways. I like that Janette Paul portrayed each woman's obstacle with equal importance because for each of them their hurt was equally debilitating.
Erin is recovering from a near-fatal accident, holding tight to all her grief and anger. She is constrained by her PTSD and the scars that riddle her body.
Cassie, recently widowed, cannot seem to move on from her grief and regrets. 
Jenna has been secretly in love with Blake for years, and now she has been invited to his wedding.
All three women have been invited to a wedding at Hope Head, a place that holds memories, in much happier times, for each of them.
I loved every character in this uplifting story. The three main characters' problems all came across as real and the supporting characters were just that; supportive and honest, edging Erin, Jenna and Cassie to make decisions towards happiness and healing. 
The fictitious Australian town of Hope Head on the mid north coast of New South Wales was beautifully described and a fitting location to have an epiphany on life and moving forward.
The Summer Place is sentimental and sweet, with HEAs all round, it filled my heart with joy.
The Summer Place is the perfect beach read.
My rating 5 happy stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
About the author
Janette Paul is an internationally published author of contemporary women's fiction and romantic comedy, and is the alter ego of award-winning suspense author Jaye Ford. Her first novel won two Davitt Awards for Australian women crime writers and her books have been translated into nine languages. She is a former news and sports journalist, and ran her own public relations consultancy before turning to fiction. She now writes from her home in Newcastle, New South Wales.

Book Review: Mole Creek by James Dunbar

Mole Creek 


James Dunbar

A hellish war. A deadly secret. 
Fifty years on, in a small Tasmanian town, 
the truth unfolds and the killing begins again....

Publisher: Echo Publishing
Publication date: 1st August 2023
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 352
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Review: Mole Creek

Mole Creek is an edgy murder mystery. The story alternates between present day Tasmania and Vietnam 50 years ago, during the Vietnam war.
Journalist and crime writer Xander McAuslan hears that his grandfather, a retired cop and Vietnam Veteran, has taken his own life in the small town of Mole Creek in Tasmania. A place he and his grandfather had spent many holidays together.
Feeling as though he failed his grandfather, Xander travels to Tasmania to ease his own mind and to find out what happened.
Mole Creek is a fast paced read. Xander has a few enemies of his own and they seem to have followed him across the Strait. It's only his cunning and skill that get him out of a few deadly situations and his dry humour and wisecracks that get him into those situations.
I couldn't connect with the scenes in Vietnam, feeling they were unnecessarily taking me away from the present-day action.
Mole Creek is a complex mystery with a few red herrings thrown in. I was shocked at the unexpected ending and I certainly didn't see it coming. 
The richly described Tasmanian landscape is a treat within itself; evocative, dangerous and remote.

James Dunbar has written a compelling crime novel with Mole Creek, which has me looking forward to his next offering.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

James Dunbar is a journalist, television scriptwriter, travel writer, university lecturer and website editor. Mole Creek is his first venture into the serious crime thriller and espionage genre.

Sunday 27 August 2023

Book Review: The Murders at Fleat House by Lucinda Riley

 The Murders at Fleat House


Lucinda Riley

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 31st may 2022
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 576
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Murders at Fleat House

The Murders at Fleat House is one of three books Riley originally wrote in 2006 and she never had the opportunity for extensive rewrites. Her son, Harry Whittaker, decided to publish the book with only the bare minimum of edits to preserve Lucinda's voice.
I did notice The Murders at Fleat House wasn't as polished as previous Lucinda Riley books I have read. That aside, it was still a compelling mystery read with many of the characters hiding secrets.
DI Jazmine Hunter moves to Norfolk leaving her career at the police force behind after a devastating marriage breakup. Encouraged by her superior to take on more case before she resigns, Jazz is sent to investigate the suicide of Charlie Cavendish, a student at Fleat House.
As Jazz tries to unravel the night of Charlie's death, more and more mysteries emerge. The chapters ending on little cliff hangers had me eager to read on.
There are quite a few characters in this story and plenty had a reason to dislike Charlie. They all have some mystery or secret surrounding them which had me jumping from one suspect to another. Secrets run deep in the closed community of Fleat House boarding school and DI Jazz Hunter must dig deeper to uncover them. I was totally hooked!
The Murders at Fleat House is a compelling murder mystery and a wonderful addition to Lucinda Riley's works.
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
 Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and, after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and sold thirty million copies worldwide. Lucinda's The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is inspired by the mythology of the famous star cluster, has become a global phenomenon. The series is a number one bestseller across the world and is currently in development with a major TV production company.  Lucinda was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and died in June 2021.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Book Review: Unsolved Australia - Lost Boys, Gone Girls by Justine Ford

Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls


Justine Ford

Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 25th June 2019
Genre: Non Fiction
Pages: 283
RRP: $32.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls. 

I don't read a lot of non-fiction however I find reading about true crime can be quite intriguing and Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls is filled with intrigue and mystery.

Lost Boys, Gone Girls is written by journalist and true crime writer Justine Ford.
Ford has picked thirteen cold cases where people have gone missing or found murdered and the cases are still unsolved, many from decades ago. She explains how cases are never closed, however they are reviewed over time with fresh eyes and using the latest technology hoping to find that extra clue that solves the case.

There are not only facts on the investigations into the disappearances and murders but also interviews with the people involved in trying to solve these cases; detectives, investigative journalists, private investigators, criminologists and a criminal psychologist.

Lost Boys, Gone Girls is written with compassion and understanding for the victims and their families.
To make the stories more entertaining we are not purely given known facts but the author has also added some assumptions and speculation on people's thoughts.

Justine Ford hopes that getting all the available information out to the public will spark a memory in someone's mind that may ultimately lead to solving a case.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Justine Ford is a true crime author, TV producer and journalist. Her first forays into crime were as a reporter on the top-rated Australia's most wanted.
In her long-spanning career, Justine has covered scores of chilling homicides and missing persons cases, winning the trust of families who are victims of crime and developing deep access to police all over Australia.

Challenges: Non-Fiction challenge & Mount TBR challenge

Friday 25 August 2023

Book Review: Time After Time by Karly Lane

 Time After Time


Karly Lane

Two dreams. One impossible choice.
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 2nd May 2023
Genre: Rural Romance
Pages: 408
RRP: $29.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Time After Time

It's always such a pleasure to sit down with the latest book from a well loved author and Karly Lane didn't disappoint with Time After Time.
Alice Croydon has a knack for fashion design, but to follow this dream she must give up her dream of becoming Finn's wife. Finn doesn't believe there is any chance in a long distance romance. 
Alice has the heartbreaking decision of following her dreams or her heart.

I loved Alice's large, noisy family. Her four siblings, parents and grandparents are all full of love and advice. However I didn't manage to get a solid connection with Alice and would have liked more detail and emotion.
The story jumps over a vast amount of time where there are a few major events in her life however we get no details, only passing mentions.

Even though part of the book is set in the London fashion industry, Karly still manages to impart her passion for the land and the struggles of farmers and small communities. It is this passion that has endeared many readers to her books.

Time After Time moves from a small country town in Australia to the red carpet of London and Karly Lane has woven a story of dreams, fashion, fame and second chances.

Rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Karly Lane lives on the beautiful mid-North Coast of New South Wales, and she is the proud mum of four children and an assortment of four-legged animals.
Before becoming an author, Karly worked as a pathology collector. Now, after surviving three teenage children and with one more to go, she's confident she can add referee, hostage negotiator, law enforcer, peacekeeper, ruiner-of-social-lives, driving instructor and expert-at-silently-counting-to-ten to her resume.
She has published over twenty books with Allen & Unwin.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Book Review: One Good Thing by Alexandra Potter

One Good Thing


Alexandra Potter

Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 28th April 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 464
Source: Own copy

Review: One Good Thing

After finding out her husband of ten years was having an affair Olivia runs away to the quiet country town of her childhood to start afresh. 

One Good Thing is a highly engaging and heartwarming story of starting over, finding that 'one good thing' in your life that keeps you going everyday. That reason to get out of bed and face each new day.

Told through numerous points of view there is bound to be a character everyone will find relatable. I was eager to see how each of the characters would connect with the main character Olivia.
 Olivia's world changes when she adopts an old abandoned dog and through him she connects with other people in the community and learns, through Harry, to leave the hurt of the past behind and live for the moment.

Alexandra Potter is a new author to me and after reading One Good Thing I am eager to explore her backlist.

One Good Thing is a story of grief, moving on, getting out of your comfort zone,navigating different relationships, family dynamics and accepting help from others.
I loved the small community of Nettlewick in the Yorkshire Dales and how everyone came together when needed.
Potter effortlessly adds diversity through her characters without any of it coming across as contrived.

Rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Alexandra Potter is the bestselling author of numerous romantic comedy fiction novels in the UK. Her books have sold in twenty-two territories and achieved worldwide sales of more than one million copies.
Yorkshire born and raised, Alexandra lived for several years in LA before settling in London with her Californian husband and their Bosnian rescue dog.


Wednesday 16 August 2023

Book Review: Drowning by T. J. Newman



T. J. Newman


Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 30th may 2023
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 320
RRP: $32.99AU (Paperback)
Source: Own copy

Review: Drowning

With the release of Drowning T. J. Newman plants herself firmly on the thriller shelf, proving Falling wasn't just a one off.

Drowning is rich in adrenaline pumping action and frantic scenes that had me holding my breath as I turned the pages.

In true Newman form the reader is thrust straight into the action when minutes after take-off the plane has engine trouble and free falls into the ocean. What ensues is a story of the human will to survive, a dangerous rescue operation and trusting your life in someone else's hands.

I enjoyed (which doesn't seem to be the right word) the thoughts of the passengers as they looked back over their life; their regrets and happy times and how a near death experience can make you see everything in a clearer light.

I can already see this on the big screen. It has all the drama, emotion and an ending that is big screen worthy.

I'm eagerly looking forward to TJ's next book.

Rating 5/ 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

T.J. Newman is a former bookseller and flight attendant whose first novel, Falling, became a publishing sensation and debuted at number two on the New York Times bestseller list. The book was named a best book of the year by USA Today, Esquire and Amazon. Falling will soon be a major motion picture from Universal Pictures. T.J. lives in Pheonix, Arizona.

My review of Falling:

Monday 7 August 2023

Book Review: The Connection Game by S. S. Turner

 The Connection Game


S. S. Turner

Publisher: The Story Plant
Publication date: 21st March 2023
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 336
Source: Courtesy of the author

Review: The Connection Game

I'm not sure what to say about this book. It was one crazy ride and most of it went way over my head.
Benny Basilworth was a genius, a trivia whiz and could easily pick connections between random items. He uses this gift to win a large amount of money on a quiz show and then loses it all through online theft (you will have to suspend your disbelief here a little. The guy was a computer genius!)
He and his family move to a basement flat and he spirals into depression, watching the feet of passersby.  
This is where the story got weird for me. For months Benny watches shoes passing by his window and names people by the shoes they wear. He starts to concoct a conspiracy theory involving these people. I was completely baffled but I pushed on. It isn't until the end of the story that the reader is told what the whole thing is about. Then, it all made sense.
If you love conspiracy theories and madcap characters The Connection Game is the perfect read. I'm afraid it was a little too offbeat for me. 

3 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐

About the author

SS Turner is the author of Secrets of a River Swimmer, an inspirational and humorous novel about finding the right pathway forward amidst the challenges of modern life. The novel was inspired by his experiences of swimming in the River Tweed when he lived in Scotland.
SS Turner worked in the global fund management sector for many years. But it wasn't for him. In recent years he's been focused on inspiring positive change through his writing. He now lives in Australia with his wife, daughter, son, one playful dog, two bossy cats, and ten fluffy chickens.

Sunday 6 August 2023

Book Review: Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

 Black Ice


Becca Fitzpatrick

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 7th October 2014
Genre: Young Adult / Thriller 
Pages: 392
Source: Own 

Review: Black Ice

Black Ice has been sitting on my bookshelf since January 2015 and I was so pleased that a prompt from the  Dymocks Reading Challenge had me pulling it from the shelf.
Black Ice is a genre mash-up of young adult, suspense and romance. Heavy on the suspense and light on the romance but it's definitely a huge part of the plot with the romance simmering under the surface.
I was pulled straight into the story with a gripping prologue. The story then jumps forward one year with teenage friends Britt and Korbie heading to a cabin in Grand Teton National Park for their school break when they encounter a severe snow storm and have to abandon their car. Making their way to a secluded cabin inhabited by two men. The girls think they are finally safe but soon find out the men are on the run from the law.
This is an edge-of-your-seat thriller filled with heart-pumping suspense. I found myself picking the book up every spare moment I had. I did guess the twists early in the book however that didn't spoil my pleasure because I was holding my breath waiting for the characters to find out what I had already suspected.

It comes with a little bit of teenage angst, but not overdone. Black Ice is a gripping, survival in the snowy wilderness, story that will have you eagerly turning the pages.

5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author (from Goodreads)

Becca Fitzpatrick grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden with a flashlight under the covers. She graduated college with a degree in health, which she promptly abandoned for storytelling. When not writing, she's most likely prowling sale racks for reject shoes, running, or watching crime dramas on TV. She is the author of the bestselling HUSH, HUSH Saga.

Thursday 3 August 2023

Book Review: Reaching Through Time by Shauna Bostock

 Reaching Through Time


Shauna Bostock

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 4th July 2023
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 352
RRP: $34.99AU (paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Reaching Through Time

With Reaching Through Time Shauna Bostock has delivered an extensively researched family history going back generations, with interesting facts on Indigenous and Australian history included.

I love family research and genealogy and it doesn't just have to be my own. I can pore over anyone's family tree for hours. Births, deaths, marriages and connections between families fascinates me.

Shauna includes a family tree at the front of the book and I kept turning back to it to see where each relative came in.
You never know what you will find when you start researching your ancestry and Shauna did discover that one ancestor was a slave trader in England. I liked that this book was an honest account of her ancestry and the bad wasn't covered up or omitted.

I enjoyed every aspect of Shauna's book. Her writing is very personable and open. I was astounded by how much research, travel and time went into uncovering all the details and there are pages and pages of sources listed in the back which is a testament to this fact.

Pages of photo inserts are included which give an added connection whilst reading. Thank you Shauna for sharing your precious family photos. They are a beautiful addition to the book.

Reaching Through Time is perfect for readers who enjoy Aboriginal history, Australian history and exploring the past.

4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

A formaer primary school teacher, Shauna Bostock's curiosity about her ancestors took her all the way to a PhD in Aboriginal history.