Monday, 24 July 2017

Book Review: Fortune's Son

Fortune's SonFortune's Son by Jennifer Scoullar
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publication Date: 29th May 2017
Pages: 432
Source: own copy

Blurb:

 An Australian historical saga that will appeal to readers of Bryce Courtenay and Judy Nunn

Can one man’s revenge become his redemption?

Young Luke Tyler has everything going for him: brains, looks and a larrikin charm that turns heads. The future appears bright, until he defends his sister from the powerful Sir Henry Abbot. His reward is fifteen years hard labour on a prison farm in Tasmania’s remote highlands.

Luke escapes, finding sanctuary with a local philanthropist, Daniel Campbell, and starts a forbidden relationship with Daniel's daughter, Belle. But when Luke is betrayed, he must flee or be hanged.

With all seeming lost, Luke sails to South Africa to start afresh. Yet he remains haunted by the past, and by Belle, the woman he can’t forget. When he returns to seek revenge and reclaim his life, his actions will have shattering consequences – for the innocent as well as the guilty.

Set against a backdrop of wild Tasmania, Australian gold and African diamonds, Fortune’s Son is an epic story of betrayal, love and one man’s struggle to triumph over adversity and find his way home.


My Thoughts:
 
Set in Tasmania in the late 1800’s the first chapter throws the reader straight into the inequality and injustices of class during that time.

The story follows Luke Tyler from the age of 14 when he is thrown in prison after defending his sister’s honour, then his subsequent escape and, for a time, living off the land until he is taken in by his former teacher, Daniel Campbell.

This story held me captivated as it delivers everything the blurb promises, From the beautiful descriptions of the untamed Tasmanian countryside to the inclusion of the now extinct Thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger).

Told in multiple POV’s the reader is given an overall feel for each character in this emotionally charged saga which will take you from the remoteness of Tasmania to the diamond mines of South Africa, highlighting the fact that the fight for conservation of both the land and animals is the same in any country.

A powerful story of prejudice, ambition, duty and undying love.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

About the Author: (courtesy of Goodreads)

Jennifer has always harboured a deep appreciation and respect for the natural world. Her house is on a hill-top, overlooking valleys of messmate and mountain ash. A pair of old eagles live there too. Black-shouldered wallabies graze by the creek. Eastern Spinebills hover among the callistemon. Jennifer lives with her family on a beautiful property in the mountains, that was left to her by her father. Horses have always been her passion. She grew up on the books of Elyne Mitchell, and all her life she’s ridden and bred horses, in particular Australian Stock Horses. She has five published novels. Wasp Season (Sid Harta 2008) Brumby’s Run (Penguin 2012)Currawong Creek (Penguin 2013) Billabong Bend (Penguin 2014)Turtle Reef (Penguin 2015) and Journey's End (Penguin 2016)

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Jorie and the Gold key

Jorie and the Gold KeyJorie and the Gold Key by A.H. Richardson
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: November 2015
Pages: 254
Source: received from author

Blurb:
 When Jorie and Rufus planned another summer of adventuring, they didn’t plan on sharing it with a snooty, stuck-up, bossy 10-year-old Nigel. When the Wizard Grootmonya calls on Jorie to remedy another disaster in Cabrynthius — the theft of the Magic Stones, Jorie grabs the Gold Key and the three children descend to the enchanted land beneath the Tarn. There they find more extraordinary adventures that bring them face to face again with the wicked Lord Fodomalk and his evil butterfly. Their troubles grow as the fiendish dragon not only snatches Nigel, but confines him to a cold dank cell with the illusive Professor Schrinch (yes, he’s still alive and as sneaky as ever). Jorie and Rufus — and the persnickety Nigel — are joined by all their old friends in this rollicking tale of magic, strange impersonations, and hair-raising exploits. They help Master Nigel with his confusion of the world beneath the Tarn and discover strengths in their new friend that even he didn’t know he had. Aside from spurts of jealousy from Rufus and impatience from Jorie, Nigel learns about bravery and friendship as he struggles with belief and enchantment. Follow this feisty threesome back to the evil, dark world of Shyloxia and the beautiful, bright world of Cabrynthius, where live all manner of creatures, naughty and nice. Do they recover the Magic Stones? What does that Gold Key open for them? Do they survive the shadowy world of nasty characters? Do Jorie and Rufus accept Nigel into their world? And what about Chook — that beloved baby dragon? And if you want to know how Jorie and Rufus survived their first summer adventures, pick up your copy of Jorie and the Magic Stones.

My thoughts: 
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jorie and the Gold Key is another enchanting tale in the Jorie series by A H Richardson.

The stones have been stolen from Grootmanya, the great wizard, and are now in the hands of the evil Lord Fodomalk who plans to destroy the wizard and take over Cabrynthius. Jorie must now return to Cabrynthius and thwart Fodomalk’s attempt to take over the land.

In this second book Jorie is back with Rufus out smarting and out playing the evil Lord Fodomalk. They are accompanied by Nigel who has come to stay with Rufus for the holidays. Nigel is uppity and condescending but the pair take him along anyway. He soon learns of a whole new world with Beowigs, Arbotigs, Dragons and immense danger at every turn.

The three children show great bravery in the face of danger. They feel fear but push it aside and draw on their remarkable courage and intelligence to out play their enemy. There is problem solving, decision making, danger and suspense a plenty.

The bond of friendship between the children runs through the story and the theme of remorse and forgiveness is strong with the wrong doers.

Written for children aged 6 – 12 years but will have wide appeal to both children and adults alike.

There is a small hint at the end that suggests Jorie and friends may yet again be returning to Cabrynthius, which has me eagerly waiting on book 3.

My review of the first book Jorie and the Magic Stones can be found here

About the author: (courtesy of goodreads)
A. H. Richardson was born in London England and is the daughter of famous pianist and composer Clive Richardson. She studied drama and acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She was an actress, a musician, a painter and sculptor, and now an Author.

She published her debut novel Jorie and the Magic Stones in December 2014. At the request of those who loved the first ‘Jorie’ story, Richardson has written a sequel titled Jorie and the Gold Key, and she is currently working on the third book in the series.

In addition to children’s books, she also enjoys writing murder mysteries. She is the author of Murder in Little Shendon, a thriller murder mystery which takes place in a quaint little village in England after World War Two, and introduces two sleuths, Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick,  Beresford Brandon, a noted Shakespearian actor. And she has more ‘who-dun-its’ with this clever and interesting duo… Act One, Scene One – Murder and Murder at Serenity Farm.

A. H. Richardson lives happily in East Tennessee, her adopted state, and has three sons, three grandchildren, and two pugs. She speaks four languages and loves to do voiceovers. She plans on writing many more books and hopes to delight her readers further with her British twist, which all her books have.



View all my reviews

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Julie Goodwin's Essential Cookbook

Julie Goodwin's Essential CookbookJulie Goodwin's Essential Cookbook by Julie Goodwin
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication Date: April 2017
Pages: 310

Blurb:
 Australia's best-loved home cook and original MASTERCHEF, Julie Goodwin is back with the accessible and practical cookbook every family needs.
Looking for the perfect meal for your family?
All you need to make delicious food to feed your hungry loved ones is contained here in one place. Collected here for the first time you can find Julie's essential go-to recipes: from making a great omelette, to roasting the perfect chicken, preparing simple and satisfying soups and salads and baking classic cakes, muffins and desserts that will become family favourites. Whatever ingredients you have in the house, no matter the season or occasion, you can put together a tasty feast that will please everyone, every time.


My Thoughts:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Julie Goodwin first came to the attention of the Australian public as the winner of MasterChef Australia in 2009. I have followed Julie’s career ever since and confess to owning every one of her cookbooks.
I love the covers of Julie's books. The matt finish is easy to wipe clean and the pastel coloured spine looks great on my bookshelf. I like that this new edition matches in perfectly with Julie's previous books.

Dedicated to her sons, Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook is all about cooking with love, from the heart and cooking with fresh ingredients, in season and locally sourced.

The book is filled with easy to cook recipes that don’t have an extensive list of ingredients that you’ll never use again. I just hate when I buy a gorgeous cookbook only to find each recipe has about 20 ingredients and I feel so overwhelmed with the array of herbs and spices that I don't bother with the book again. You wont find this problem in Julie's book.
The recipes are simple, tasty and nutritious. Julie’s rissoles have already become a firm family favourite.

Over 300 recipes, many with a photo of the finished dish, are divided into eight sections for easy reference.

Julie Goodwin’s Essential Cookbook is a beautifully presented book well worthy of gift giving.

310 pages of wholesome family goodness!




View all my reviews

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Review: Memories of May

Memories of MayMemories of May by Juliet Madison
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Publication Date: May 5th 2017

Blurb: 
They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time...

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction.


My thoughts:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Memories of May is book 5 in Juliet Madison’s Tarrin’s Bay series.

Olivia Chevalier is a single mother to 9 year old Mia. She owns the local bookshop and is pretty happy with her simple, some may say boring, life. That is until adventurer and author Joel Foster comes into town to teach a writing course and turns Olivia’s life upside down.
Olivia decides to attend Joel’s writing course and write her Grandmother’s life story.

I loved the blending of story’s; Olivia’s story, Joel’s story and Olivia’s Grandmother May’s story. They all held my interest and were relevant to the theme of the overall story.

”Life is merely a collection of moments, of memories. Every life matters. It is up to you to take risks, live your life fully, and follow your heart. Don’t settle for a life half lived. Make amazing memories. Make memories matter.”

Memories of May is a heart-warming story of new beginnings and the urging to create your own life, not just the one that is expected of you.


Nine year old Mia was a lovely addition to the story. She was fun and outspoken but not too precocious. It was a good way of introducing a child’s view of aging and death.

Even though this is part of a series each book can be read on it’s own but it’s always nice when familiar characters, from previous books, make an appearance through the story.

I finished this book with that warm feeling that life and love really are good.

Looking forward to the next book in the series.

I received an ERC from the publisher via Netgalley.

About the Author: (courtesy of Goodreads)

 Juliet Madison is a naturopath-turned-author with a background in dance, art, internet marketing, and perfume sales (yes, she was one of those annoying people in department stores who spray you with perfume). Nowadays she prefers to indulge her propensity for multiple careers by living vicariously through her characters. She likes to put those characters into extraordinary situations and take them on a challenging journey to discover their true passion and inner strength, weaving in some laughs, tears, romance, and sometimes a touch of magic along the way.
Living near the beach on the beautiful south coast of New South Wales, Australia, Juliet spends as much time as possible writing and coming up with new ideas, while doing her best to avoid housework.
Juliet is a proud member and volunteer with The Romance Writers of Australia and she loves to interact online with readers and writers via twitter (@Juliet_Madison), and facebook (www.facebook.com/JulietMadisonAuthor). She can be contacted through her website at www.julietmadison.com where readers can also download some free short stories.




View all my reviews

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Saigon Dark by Elka Ray

Saigon DarkSaigon Dark by Elka Ray
Publisher: Crime Wave Press

Blurb: 
 Good and bad. Life and death. Some choices aren't black and white

A grief-stricken young mother switches her dead baby for an abused child, then spends the next decade living a lie. She remarries and starts to feel safe when she gets a note: 'I know what you did'. Can she save her family from her dark secret?


My Thoughts:
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On the same night her young daughter dies Lily finds a beaten neglected child, around the same age as her daughter, on her doorstep. Citing ‘fate’ as her motivation she decides to keep the child.
The story follows Lily’s life over the next 11 years as she walks a fine line between right and wrong, good and bad. She is always trying to justify her actions while hiding a terrible secret that leaves a heavy burden on her life.

The story is full of raw emotion and tension. Lily runs from her old life and starts over where no-one knows her but there is always that foreboding feeling that her past will one day catch up with her.

The narration is mainly in short, sharp sentences which perfectly portrays the way Lily’s mind is thinking; fast, sharp and erratic. She is always despairing about life and thinking worse case scenarios.

When the note appears that someone knows what she did there are already a few likely suspects that kept me guessing and changing my mind constantly. I never did actually guess right!

I couldn’t read this book fast enough. I was anxious to see what Lily would do next and if she would ever get out of her dilemma.

A tension filled story of lies, betrayal and blackmail. A real sense of foreboding is felt throughout.
Highly recommended!

I received an ERC from the publisher.

About the Author; (courtesy of Goodreads)

 Born in the UK and raised in Canada and Africa, Elka writes for children and adults. Elka divides her time between Central Vietnam and Canada's Vancouver Island - with both regions featured in her fiction.

When she's not writing, drawing, traveling or reading Elka is in - or near - the ocean.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Review:Weave a Murderous Web - A Jane Larson Mystery

Weave a Murderous WebWeave a Murderous Web by Anne Rothman-Hicks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jane Larson, an up and coming Lawyer, takes on a domestic, unpaid child support, case on the request of a friend. As she looks further into the finances of the defendant she finds there is more to him than meets the eye. And it’s not all legal! Jane soon finds herself embroiled in a web of drugs, lies and murder.

It does take a few chapters for the writing to settle but from then on the story is absorbing with plenty of twists, turns and witty dialogue.

Jane is a great protagonist, sharp-witted, sarcastic and cynical. She doesn’t take crap from anyone. She zeroes in on the problem at hand and nothing will get in her way until she has answers.

There are plenty of characters introduced and they each have their own distinct personalities. There is lots of suspicious activity, where everyone seems to have something to hide. Add to this a few red herrings and it will keep you guessing until the action packed finale.

The epilogue ties the story up nicely.

I received on ERC to read and review.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Review: The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name

The Little Girl Who Lost Her NameThe Little Girl Who Lost Her Name by David Cadji-Newby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

First I would have to say I was very impressed with the quality of the book. Printed on high quality thick carded paper these books will take years of page turning by hands both small and large.

My granddaughter received two of these personalised books for her second birthday. I think this was the result of a wide and highly successful marketing campaign as other guests (at her birthday celebration) also remarked that they had looked at buying this particular book.

Both books were exactly the same unfortunately. However, I have noticed on the website that there are options, although very limited, to change some of the characters. Although in this case the buyer would have to pre-empt that the recipient may already have a copy. There are also options for the child’s hair and skin colour.

The story is about a little girl who goes on an adventure to find her lost name. As she meets different characters along the way they each give her the first letter of their name.

I loved that there were some unusual characters, such as a Narwhal, Aardvark and Nabarlek, rather than the typical farm and zoo animals. Each animal tells a little about themselves eg: Aardvark eats ants; Narwhal is called the sea unicorn.

My Granddaughters name has 7 letters and the book had 36 pages which I feel is great value for money. But what if your name is Zoe or Sam? They’ve thought of that too and added in 4 extra pages of story for short names.

Most importantly my Granddaughter absolutely loves this book!

And of course there is also “The Little Boy Who Lost His Name


View all my reviews