Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Book Review: Before I Let You Go (Contemporary Fiction)







Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication date: 27th February 2018
Pages: 352
Format read: Paperback
Source: Own


Blurb

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.


My thoughts 

Two sisters, two very different life outcomes. Lexie is a doctor engaged to Sam who is also a doctor. Annie is a drug addict. Lexie is not surprised when she gets a call for help, from Annie, in the middle of the night. It’s not the first time it has happened. But now Annie is pregnant and that changes everything.
”There is no off switch to the love between sisters” - Lexie Vidler

Who isn’t intrigued by dysfunctional family stories! I could clearly see from the Facebook discussion for this book that so many readers could relate to the sisters on different levels – unparented children (when the parent is not mentally present), drug abuse, sibling connections.

The story is set in Alabama where there are strict laws on drug use in pregnancy and any woman who is reported with drugs in their system whilst pregnant faces criminal charges for child endangerment with a penalty of a jail term. This causes a moral dilemma for Lexie. Should she protect her sister from authorities or protect the unborn child.

”What Annie is facing is a nightmare – but she is my sister. I’d never want her to face this alone.” - Lexie Vidler

Lexie has brought Annie up since the sudden death of their father when their mother became mentally detached from the world. Lexie saw every one of Annie’s problems as a failure and she needed to fix it. Lexie was not used to accepting help and kept shutting Sam out however Sam was sensitive and supportive, never judgemental, he knew how to rein Lexie in when she was going too far. I was so glad that Rimmer didn’t disappoint me and Sam stayed a constant until the end. *sigh*

Lexie and Annie’s story is intense and relatable, it will make you angry and break your heart; it opens up a lot of moral issues for discussion.
The dual narration, present day told by Lexie and the past through Annie’s journal entries, had this reader switching allegiances as the full story was revealed.

I will finish with this quote from Annie. It just killed me.
” How many thousands of dollars do you sink into a person before it stops being selfless and starts being ridiculous? How many times do you bother to revive someone who is nothing but a drain on you and society?” – Annie Vidler.

What if this was your sister or brother, your own child? Would you ever stop helping someone you love?

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Content: frequent coarse language, drug use, sexual assault.

About the author

Kelly Rimmer Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women’s fiction author of five novels, including Me Without You and The Secret Daughter. Her most recent release is Before I Let You Go. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, 2 children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than 20 languages. 

You can connect with the author at the following sites:

Website               Twitter            Facebook
 
This book is part of the Booklover Book Reviews Aussie author challenge
and book #9 in the Australian Women Writers challenge

Monday, 9 April 2018

Book Review: Esme's Wish (Middle Grade - Young Adult)

Esme's Wish (Esme Series #1)Esme's Wish by Elizabeth Foster

Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publication date: 30th October 2017
Pages: 252
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Gift from author



                                                       Blurb

           “A fresh new fantasy of an enchanting world.” - Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island and Dragonfly Song.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about her mother, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

This fresh, inventive tale is an ideal read for younger teens.



                                              My thoughts                                    


Esme’s Wish is the debut novel and first in a series by Australian author Elizabeth Foster.

Esme’s mother had disappeared seven years ago, thought to have been lost at sea. Her father is now remarrying but Esme doesn’t believe the ‘lost at sea’ claim and while her father is away on his honeymoon she plans to do some investigating of her own.
While searching for clues about her mother’s disappearance Esme finds a doctor’s note about her mother’s headaches, delusions and talk of other worlds. Was her mother ill and nobody told her?

After following an eagle down to the beach Esme notices a lustrous shell in a rock pool but as she reaches for the shell she is pulled into the pool and plummeted down into its depths. When she surfaces she is in another world. She is befriended by Daniel and this is where Esme’s real journey begins.
As Esme tries to uncover what happened to her mother more mysteries are revealed that will have a lasting effect on Esperance and its people.

Foster’s writing is beautifully descriptive and flows effortlessly. Esme has a strong personality thriving in seclusion after being shunned by most of the town folk. She soon becomes firm friends with Daniel and Lillian and learns to trust and rely on others. I liked that the three teens could be friends without a love triangle in sight.

I loved the town of Esperance with its watery canals, gondolas and bridges which reminded me of Venice.
The world of Aeolia is tied to the Gods and frequent mentions of Greek Gods through statues and paintings gives scope for additional research.

The magical element was enchanting; my favourite being Akitsu’s shop with its enchanted paper fish, birds, beetles and butterflies all so delightfully imagined and brought to life on paper.

The story wraps up well, however also leaves on opening for the sequel Esme’s Gift.

Recommended for readers 10+ years
Content: battle with a spectre

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



                                                   About the author


 Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

You can connect with the author at the following sites

Website                 Twitter   

this review is part of the Boolover Book Reviews Aussie author challenge 
and Book #7 in the Australian Women Writers Challenge  

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Book Review: You Wish (Contemporary Fiction)

You WishYou Wish by Lia Weston


Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 27th March 2018
Pages: 320
Format read: paperback
Source: publisher


                                                           Blurb

 Sometimes imagination is not enough.

Thomas Lash grants secret wishes . . . on-screen, that is.

White wedding gone horribly wrong and need to swap the groom? Never went to university but must have a graduation photo? Need to create a fake family for that job interview? Problem solved with expert Photoshopping and Tom's peculiar ability to know exactly what you desire. Tom never says no, even when giving grieving parents the chance to see what the lives of their lost children may have looked like.

But where do you draw the line . . . and what happens when the fantasy Tom sees on-screen starts to bleed into his real life?

                                                         My thoughts 


This book is seriously funny, thought provoking and did I say seriously funny.
I’m a bit crushed that now I’m finished I have to leave Tom behind.

Ignis Fatuus – A deceptive hope, an illusion that misleads. IF is born.

Tom, co founder of IF, makes personal photo albums for clients projecting their dreams and wishes through airbrushing and photo-shopping. Tom with his knack of reading people can produce exactly what they wished for. No request is too extreme and although Tom does find the idea morally challenging his clients leave with photos of the life they dreamed of, not what reality gave them.
But what happens when Tom’s work life bleeds into his home life and he is no longer sure what is real and what is fake.

The author uses narrative intrusion to draw the reader in and feel a connection with Tom. His friends think he is a bit strange, afraid of commitment and reluctant to grow up. The reader sees a different Tom. He is sensitive, an introvert. He burdens himself with everyone’s problems. Tom feels he is not accepted by others. He is an observer and this quality has enabled him to read people effectively which also sets him apart from others.
”That thing you do. Do that thing. It’s that weird gift you have.”
People are always asking him to read a room and it invariably gets him into trouble.

The story is multi-layered with many small plots weaving throughout with themes of family, friendship and morality.
Tom’s mother, Amanda Lash, best-selling author, inspirational figure and YouTube celebrity is swamped by fans wherever she goes. His father is reticent and withdrawn which is cause for much speculation. His teenage sister, Genevieve, is having trouble with her own feelings and reaches out to Tom. Their relationship and closeness is touching to read.

Weston’s writing is taut, fast and satirical. The characters are well developed and believably flawed. The concept of the story is thought provoking and challenging. Innocent on the surface but how far do you go and what are the consequences. There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments as Weston finds humour in the everyday.
Highly recommended! Readers are in for a roller coaster ride as Tom battles his parents, his girlfriend, his sister, his colleagues, his best-friend but mostly his morals.

With my thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for my copy to read and review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

                                                   About the author



Lia Weston is a fiction writer. Her debut novel, THE FORTUNES OF RUBY WHITE, was published by Simon & Schuster Australia in 2010. Her second novel, THOSE PLEASANT GIRLS, was published with Pan Macmillan in May 2017. YOU WISH, Lia's third novel, is out in April 2018. In between wrestling with plot points and procrastinating instead of writing her synopsis, Lia runs a bicycle shop with her husband Pete and works as a freelance copy-editor. 

You  can connect with the author at the following sites.

Website                Twitter              Instagram              Facebook  

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge   


Thursday, 22 March 2018

Book Review: The Country Girl (Rural Romance)

The Country GirlThe Country Girl by Cathryn Hein
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Aust
Publication Date: 18th December 2017
Pages: 352
Format read: eBook
Source: Publisher via Netgalley


                                                     
                                    
                                                        Blurb:

 Bestselling Australian author Cathryn Hein returns with a moving and uplifting rural romance about facing hard truths and moving on in pursuit of life.

After landing a major cookbook deal, star food blogger Tash Ranger swaps city life for the family farm. But Tash's homecoming is bittersweet, for now she can no longer avoid seeing her best friend Maddy, who was severely injured in a riding accident and unable to communicate. No one knows that Maddy and Tash had a deep falling out and with every visit Tash must pretend to be the friend everyone believes her to be.

Patrick Lawson, Maddy's fiancé, battles despair and hope daily as Maddy lies imprisoned in her body, gradually losing his faith in her recovery. When Tash returns to Castlereagh Road with her joy and boundless appetite for life, he realises finally what his loved ones have been trying to tell him for months – that Maddy wouldn't want him to throw his life away. It's time to move on. But letting go is no easy feat, especially if moving on means Tash. He's a country boy and she is a star on the rise with ambitions that could propel her out of reach.

Can these two friends step out of the shadow of Maddy's tragic life and accept love, or is the past forever destined to dictate their future?



                                                        My thoughts: 



As soon as I started reading The Country Girl my heart was breaking for Patrick and Maddy. Patrick and Maddy were engaged when Maddy suffers a tragic accident and is left unable to communicate.

Tash, a highly successful food blogger with a cookbook deal in the works, decides to return home to Castlereagh, her parent’s farm near Emu Springs, where she will film new episodes for her blog, Urban Ranger. The addition of a gardening spot by her cheeky Grandfather has her subscriber numbers skyrocketing. However this is only a temporary stop for Tash. She has big ideas for Urban Ranger and they don’t include staying at Castlereagh.

Old jealousies and tiffs threaten to arise when Tash returns home. However hard it may be Patrick needs to leave the past behind and move on with his life but a promise was made and Patrick is an honourable man.

Hein has created real characters with Maddy and Patrick. Maddy is strong and has a real sense of self, outgoing and fun she is a perfect balance for Patrick who is full of sorrow and grief, stuck in a time lock with no real future in sight. The road is never smooth with plenty of road bumps and misunderstandings which are cause for some very scary moments. Hein’s descriptions of the countryside and the supporting characters give a perfect sense of place and add to the ambience of the story.

The story is fun and the romance is a slow burn. Food and cooking feature prominently in this rural romance and the descriptions of Tash’s delicacies will have you wishing there really was a cookbook in the works.

Cathryn Hein combines her love of romance and her love of cooking to give her readers yet another unmissable rural romance story.

 My rating: 5 of 5 stars


                                                  About the author:


A South Australian country girl by birth, Cathryn loves nothing more than a rugged rural hero who's as good with his heart as he is with his hands, which is probably why she writes them! Her romances are warm and emotional, and feature themes that don't flinch from the tougher side of life but are often happily tempered by the antics of naughty animals. Her aim is to make you smile, sigh, and perhaps sniffle a little, but most of all feel wonderful.
From debut release Cathryn has been a multiple finalist in the Australian Romance Readers Awards and the 2014 awards also saw her in contention for Favourite Australian Romance Author.
Cathryn currently lives in New South Wales with her partner of many years, Jim. When she's not writing, she plays golf (ineptly), cooks (well), and in football season barracks (rowdily) for her beloved Sydney Swans AFL team.
Visit http://www.cathrynhein.com/ and sign up to her newsletter for a free short story, plus all the news on upcoming book releases, exclusive content, giveaways and more.




You can connect with the author at the following sites.


Website             Twitter             Facebook            Instagram        Goodreads


This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Book Review: Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 (Children's Picture Book)

Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32Don't Ever Look Behind Door 32 by B.C.R. Fegan


Publisher: TaleBlade
Published: 14th March 2018
Pages: 32
Format Read: eBook
                              Source: Author via Book Publicity Services



                                                     Blurb:

 The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

This imaginative picture book aims to take children beyond the first ten cardinal numbers, and introduces them to the patterns of counting in a fun and accessible way. With rooms to explore and unique objects to count, children will enjoy lingering on each page as they make their way closer to the forbidden door.



                                                    My thoughts:




A counting book with a difference, Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 extends the counting experience beyond 20 to 32. The illustrations are delightful and a little bit spooky as a young boy and his little sister arrive to stay at the Magical Hotel of Hoo, a sprawling old castle dimly lit by moonlight.
Nicholas Noo the amiable hotelier shows them around each room. Being the first guests at the hotel their room will be room1 and the reader learns that most of the other rooms are permanently occupied by an ever increasing number of ghouls and creatures. Dragons, elves, monsters, ghosts, goblins and giants all have a room and a purpose.
The cadence is spot on with this rhyming story which makes for an easy read as the words flow effortlessly. The suspense builds as the pages turn and the children are reminded throughout, never to look behind door 32.

My almost 4 Granddaughter loves everything spooky and even after reading the book over and over she still became excited as the tension mounts to that last door. She charmingly calls it the Transylvanian door story. She’s not quite up to counting to 32 which gives the advantage of extending the book as the child grows.

Not all items to count are in as plain sight as say the 3 Knights, behind door 3, or the 5 dancing zombies, behind door 5. I was eager to have the book to myself to peruse each page and find the items that matched the corresponding door number.

Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 is not only a delightful rhyming story but also a counting book that stretches the child’s ability whilst stimulating their imagination.

The illustrations by the talented Lenny Wen are colourful and descriptive, filled with mischief and magic, they hold stories of their own.
I’ve added mine and my Granddaughter’s favourites below.



My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book to read and review through  Book Publicity Services

                                                    About the author:

B.C.R. Fegan 

 
BCR Fegan is an award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of natures ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms, to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books.

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerised by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced. Through the efforts of TaleBlade Press, these works are now being published with that same careful dedication

  
you can connect with the author at the following sites

Website        Twitter                               


This review is part of the Book Lover Book review Aussie author challenge










Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Book Review: Diamond Rings are Deadly Things (Cozy Crime/Mystery)

Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things (Wedding Planner Mysteries Book 1)Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things by Rachelle J. Christensen


Publisher: Peachwood Press
Publication Date: July 2015
Pages: 341
Format read: eBook
Source: Sweet Spot Read & Review Club (facebook group)




                                                      Blurb:

 Adrielle Pyper knows how to plan a wedding, and she's especially good at pleasing bridezillas. But when her biggest client and best friend is murdered just three days before the wedding, Adri's world falls apart. She moves to the resort town of Sun Valley, Idaho, and starts from scratch. Thanks to Adri's impeccable taste and unique style, she lands two celebrity clients, and her business seems headed for success—until someone vandalizes the specialty wedding dresses she imported from overseas. Adri must race to uncover the secret hidden within the yards of satin and lace before she becomes the next victim.
With a delightful blend of mystery, toe-curling kisses, humor, and spine-tingling thrills, Diamond Rings are Deadly Things will keep you turning pages long into the night.

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is the first in the Wedding Planner Mysteries series by Rachelle J Christensen.

                                              My thoughts:

Adrielle Pyper has moved to Sun Valley Idaho to pursue her lifelong dream of running her own business as a wedding planner. She had worked for a large and successful wedding planning company in San Francisco but after a life-altering incident she decides to start afresh closer to home.

The story is narrated by Adrielle and we get a close up look at her thoughts and life. Adrielle is feisty and self confident and doesn’t mind saying exactly what she thinks. She is a perfectionist and puts her heart and soul into the weddings she plans; there is no time for boyfriends or romance. Her business partner, Lorea, is a dressmaker. She sells the wedding dresses whilst Adrielle plans the weddings. Lorea is fun, chirpy and a romantic at heart. She is always trying to get Adrielle to loosen up, have some fun and maybe give love a chance.

Between planning the weddings of soap star Sylvia and Lorea’s good friend Natalie who is marrying the rich and famous Brock Grafton, who just so happens to be Sylvia’s ex, Arielle also gets herself mixed up in a diamond smuggling operation.
Everyone is a suspect, from the old, friendly jeweller Walter Mayfield to Colton, the delivery guy, and the hot new lawyer in town, Luke.

As we follow Adrielle on her hectic wedding planning schedule, trying to squeeze a few dates in with Dallas, the local real estate agent, and solve a stalker problem. The story makes for quite a few laughs, a little bit of romance and edge of your seat suspense. I loved the insight into just how much work a wedding planner does.

I absolutely loved the craft and wedding decoration descriptions at the start of each chapter. Adrielle and her Mum have their own crafty blog which features in the story and which I’m happy to say is a real blog (Yes, I googled it!). www.mashedpotatoesandcrafts.com

Diamond Rings are Deadly Things is a real page turner, a clean cozy crime/ mystery. Adrielle is a fun protagonist and the ending will have you holding your breath!!!
The perfect start to a new ‘must read’ series for me.

Content: no coarse language, no sex, minimal violence, a clean read.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

                                                     
                                              About the author:





 Rachelle J. Christensen is a mother of five who writes mystery/suspense and solves the mystery of the missing shoe on a daily basis. She graduated cum laude from Utah State University with a degree in psychology and a music minor. She enjoys singing and songwriting, playing the piano, running, motivational speaking, and of course reading.

Rachelle is the award-winning author of twenty books, including The Soldier’s Bride (a Kindle Scout Selection & Whitney Award Finalist), Diamond Rings Are Deadly Things, Veils and Vengeance, Proposals and Poison, Hawaiian Masquerade, and Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology. Her novella, “Silver Cascade Secrets,” was included in the Rone Award–winning Timeless Romance Anthology, Fall Collection.
Join Rachelle’s VIP mailing list to learn more about upcoming books & get your free book at www.rachellechristensen.com 



Connect with Rachelle at the following sites:
Website           Twitter              Facebook