…. gut wrenching twist in a Historical Fiction setting ….

1967 …. yes, we start off in the 1960s.

Summer – we start off being introduced to her first at school, at the age of 16, working in a convenient store and living with her free styled parents in a commune. As Christmas approaches, the school pupils write letters/christmas cards to the NZ Army in Vietnam, Summer sent hers that landed in the lap of Corporal Scott Taylor. We are then plunged into Summers life, learning about a new developing interest, painting with water colours, amongst other complicated life scenarios.

Scott – Oh dear, Scott, Scott, Scott …. can he catch a lucky break? We follow Scott through his army years, meet the army “mates” listen to the antics him and his mates get up to on their drunken stoopers, until it’s time to go back home to NZ, to his wife. Scott also continues this pen friendship with Summer, and we ask ourselves will they ever meet? Do we have here a start of something more than friendship? Or is this just kindness swept up in a letter?

I would like to thank Carole Brungar, for gifting me the ARC of, Loving Summer. The eBook will be available Monday 16th August, the paperback will be available in bookstores in NZ from 1st September.

This is beautifully written and I throughly enjoyed it. The authors plotting skills are tight and the characters all had different personalities, very colourful, very real and plausible, the protagonist, Summer, a strong female that was naive from the start, but with determination and with help of some very caring friends ended up to be a well rounded female, with a very strong spirit.

Some of this story took me back to my childhood days with the mention of

counting out lollies into small white bags“.
grey metal milkshake container

and was proud of the fact that our own kiwi author mentioned our own brand of ice cream, hokey pokey!! A New Zealand favourite for many ice cream enthusiasts.

Some of the plot twists were predictable for me, but the major ones definitely put a spanner in the works and twisted the story to amusing heights.

Naturally we go all around NZ … down south as far as Christchurch to way up to the top of the North Island. We don’t stay in NZ though, we are transported to Vietnam and Paris, with a vastly different atmosphere.

I was also pleasantly surprised that some of the book is set out in letter form, so we can see for ourselves what Summer and Scott were writing to each other about.

Although this is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone.

If you are looking for a gut wrenching twist in a Historical Fiction setting, look no further, this will have you crying through the pages,
definitely a 5 star rating from me and will suit anyone interested in the Veitnam War, NZ and Paris, the arts… definitely an interesting tale of love, with torment, tears and laughter.
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Loving Summer by Carole Brungar

…. the author pulls you in so quickly the writing style very memorizing ….

Anna is 30, and has just come out of prison and starting over… she has been sent to a boarding house for 6 months, Jeanette her happy go lucky social worker also helps support Anna. Anna has a job at McDonalds, and everything goes reasonably well. Just one thing Anna craves, but still feels unsure of …. belonging.

The belonging of what? maybe The Womens Circle, Anna’s choice of a therapy group who may have the answers to questions that don’t come easy to her. Anna touches the rose quartz crystal and finds herself in another time and then ….

….we are in Buckinghamshire, England, 1770, not Anna, but a different girl named Aisleen. A brutal regime torments the village and determines to keep the women apart, although Aisleen has other ideas and dangerously sets up secret weekly meetings. Aisleen is desperate to find ways to reunite with her sister and live life on her own terms, without her husband’s permission. The stakes are high and terror of punishment inescapable, but doing nothing comes at an even steeper price.
.. .. ..

I want to thank Karyn Sepulveda, the author, for gifting a beautiful rose quartz crystal to me along with the ARC of her book.
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This is an extremely interesting story, but a trigger warning has to be pinned to this review, it covers drug abuse/drug addiction. We not only get to know Anna the present, and how she adjusts to civil life, but within the story there are flashbacks of how she became a drug addict, with childhood and family history and how she got to where she is now.

A seperate story is weaved into this story as we meet Aisleen in 1770, which I found facinating and I would like to believe plausible back in that era (thinking back to Outlander). Those men, so called “Enforcers” were so ruthless and I ending up saying out loud how much I hated them like leaches, low lifes of men that you could get! Yes!! This was exciting! This is what I needed, a good talking to with a book!!

The author pulls you in so quickly the writing style very memorizing, totally hypnotic, prose that targets a very delicate issue. I highly praise this author for her delivery and approach and respect through writing such an important subject. It’s a five star review from me and comes highly recommended to anyone interested in Contemporary Fiction, Past to Present books.

The Womens Circle – Karyn Sepulveda – now published

…. She drank the words, she felt the words, she saw the words, the words came alive with each breath she breathed….

Liesel being a rather unusual girl, inquisitive about books started reading at a very early age, thanks to her Papa. She drank the words, she felt the words, she saw the words, the words came alive with each breath she breathed.

Her obsession in time grew daringly, with the knowledge and sightings of the Germans who deliberately had regular bonfires to burn books that had nothing to do with their believe system. Here we discover, listen, and learn with interest how Liesel steals without being caught, plus leading a double life with having a Jew stashed in her families basement.

I listened to this as an audiobook from BorrowBox Audio, it is set in the 1930s, Germany, and classed as YA Historical Fiction

The narrator, Dennis Olsen, was extremely creepy, hypnotic and I felt I was watching some sort of horror film. The sound effects were used every now and again that really gave off a sense of like being in a cave where it was slightly echoing, foreboding.

The blurb it tells us its narrated by “death”… but I struggled with the concept of this, to me, it was just a creepy voice telling a story.

The whole of The Book Thief has you in a trance, with every word, letter, description, there is another world we go into, this book is extremely unusual, one of a kind. Since I listened to this as an audio, the only thing I didn’t like was the accordion music that was used every now and again, I found it was too cheesy, (and I cringed everytime it was used) although I can see why it was used.

Many characters I loved too, Rudy, even though he was a defiant little so in so!! Liesels mother, although at first I thought she was cold hearted, in the end she warmed to me and I had to chuckle at her demeanor. Max! .. Max, poor Max, in that basement for so long, thin, then fell dreadfully sick, the air raids where he peeped through the black out curtains and then … goodness knows where he drifted off to. Then Liesels so called father, he was a very interesting man.

So I dug out bits that stuck with me:

Papa teaching the toddler to read (in German of course) was extremely interesting using each letter with a picture.

I loved the scene of Liesel in her school classes. The nun who chose everyone but Liesel to recite in class and then she stands up for herself, unfortunately with disastrous results. The antics that these kids get up to and the dreaded “corridor”. I didn’t like this nun at all.

There were quite a few books mentioned in this story, but the three mentioned more than once was, The Gravedigger’s Handbook, The Shoulder Shrug, and The Whistler, all of which seem to have a life of their own and leaves you so curious, that like me you will be scrambling off to Google the titles.

Making snowmen in the basement and then Max getting sick and ending in Liesels bed.

Rudy running away and coming back again with Liesel, tired and their feet sore.

The word shakers that climbed trees.

“what the hell do we do with the plate?” … after eating all the biscuits.

Giving a tremendous 5 star review on this one, and will suit anyone interested in creepy stories, historical fiction lovers, especially the YA ones. I wanted “something different” and I certainly got that!… this was a pick of my own.

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

…..Remember the TV show, Mind Your Language? ….

The authors love of music and singing naturally features in this memoir, her idol being Liszt, and was very fortunate to have a birthday surprise tour of his birth place and photos taken there. Yes, Linda had moved to Hungary, the land of her idol, pianist-composer Franz Liszt, in Budapest.

…. so let’s back track abit, on Linda’s 41st birthday she sees a psychic, who predicts that Linda will soon be leaving Hank for a romantic and classical music-filled Odyssey in Europe. There, a “Russian icon” will lead to her future husband, a “tall man with glasses.”

…. 6 months later she heads to Budpest, enrolled at an ESL teaching course for 3 months. We look onto the Danube and go over the Freedom Bridge. We also look at the type of students she has in her class. Remember the TV show, Mind Your Language? Well it was a bit like that, hugely funny and entertaining. … still the author was obsessed finding this man that’s tall with glasses. Many, many other things happen to Linda which does involve several encounters of different men and also we dont stay in Budpest either, we branch out to different other countries.

I had to keep telling myself that this is a non fiction memoir, as it reads as a Fiction book, it is light, fascinating, easy to read and at times had me in stitches of laughter. I’m giving this 5 stars, this is pure entertainment and will suit non fiction fans, plus music buffs, I’m seeking out all Historical Fiction lovers here, lots of references to buildings far and wide … and then there is a sweep of romance!! Will Linda find her one true love? Tall man with glasses?

Odyssey Of Love – Linda Jamsen

… She wanted to reflect, she wanted to turn over a new leaf, she wanted ….

Well yes, aptly named Bliss, this is just what Mia wanted. She wanted to reflect, she wanted to turn over a new leaf, she wanted to stop having these past triggered nightmares, and what better place to do this than a beach summer holiday with Hope her dog, but she wasn’t prepared to meet her dishy neighbour, Dash, who was at his Villa with his daughter Allie. Ok, so they clashed first time, but do we see a romance basking?

I absolutely adored this novella!! It had such a beachy, sunny, holiday vibe!! And the title of the book, is how I felt through quietly reading this summertime story. The author writes about a character who suffers a phobia, has anxiety and weaves her story around this issue, the twist I liked most was, that the character investigated into a particular situation, being proactive, reading more into “what had happened that night that she can’t remember” … unlocking certain revelations. I also enjoyed how Mia talked to Hope like a human being, you will know why once you’ve read this story too.

Definitely a 5 star read. A beaut novella just perfect for summer reading. The fast readers are going to breeze through this, slow readers like myself will cling onto it never wanting the sunshine to end. So there you go, for all love story readers who like a summertime romance story, with a cute dog and cute 8 year old then this is worth pursuing.

Summer In Bliss – Freda Ann

Do we get to know what the connection is between the painting and the grave?

A lonely grave far off in the outback draws concern. It’s so old no one knows who is buried there, legend has it it’s the stockmans grave, and he haunts the area.
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Cameron goes missing, and is found dead, no explanations and no logical reasons why he is in such a way off place and what he died of.
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Then there is a connection with a painting which Cameron painted of the lonely grave, but although Cameron is no longer alive no one dears to touch it, as apparently its cursed.
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Nathan, one of Cameron’s brothers seems to be more into puzzling things out than the police are. So how does he go? Do we get to know what the connection is between the painting and the grave? And how did Cameron die? And why the commings and goings on to the untitled grave? Things heat up and get stifling hot when Xander, Nathan’s son doesn’t want him living in the outback anymore. Will Nathan sell up, or stay and figure out who killed his brother.
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Amazing ride through the outback I had. This is a cosy mystery that has you gently flipping the pages to discover the unsolved unexplained death of Cameron. I couldn’t guess and it had me thinking all the way through, but it’s not all about the killings in this book a few other surprises developed on the way. Great plotting skills yet again from Jane Harper. A well earned 5 stars from me and recommend to all lovers of mysteries/unsolved crime books and readers who enjoy the warmth of the Australian outback.

The Lost Man – Jane Harper

To get the feel of how this author writes, quotes I grabbed quickly are ……

Why was Elizabeth having these strange fainting spells? and why was it set off with looking at paintings? Hints of nostalgia and melancholy looming and others are looking at sending her to an institution, so can they figure out what is happening and what the connection might be? Carefully calculated thinker Jane is determined to ask questions before Elizabeth’s memory disappears forever.
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We go to 1913 and then to ………
Listened to as an audiobook.

To get the feel of how this author writes, quotes I grabbed quickly are

“porridge – cream and a knob of butter”
I was transported back in time when as a night nurse I had to make porridge that way.

“Acumen, what is acumen”
which I still need to look up. Isn’t it funny how you find different words in a book you’ve never heard of before?

The golden mean was talked about with its numbers and sequences, because this book has alot of painting and art references. Also mentions, Chinese calligraphy, Painting of The Cuttysark. The place, Bathurst, is mentioned alot. We have Pelicans and Gum Trees, and “whirligigs”.

“pears, soap, a blue bag, half a pound of tea, a ham hock, and …..”
Was said like a rhythm

she sliced off the top off the first egg with more force then she intended and scooped the dribbling egg yolk from the side of the cup with her finger.”

“Let’s make a cuppa tea, tea fixes everything”.

“grasped like dandelions”

“Jane Austen her guilty secret, how she loved those books”

“She must see the girl gets some more note books, she goes through them like barley sugars”

“Arnotts biscuits”

A surprising ending.

Authors notes at the end is extremely interesting and tells what’s true in the book.

The author aimed to write a book that was fictional but plausible.

Rating this a whole hearty 5 stars, and will suit Historical Fiction lovers – Australia/England and anyone who is into the arts.

The Girl In The Painting – Tea Cooper

You would have seen the TV programme Doc Martin, right? because, to me ……..

Lucas who is a funny dude, a vet, wry sense of humour. Laura who finds him attractive finds him rude to the point where she admits to her friend Amy, “we tolerate each other.” but alas her emotions swings from liking to disliking that you never know what she is thinking which makes the story even more hilarious.

Amy who is trying and I mean trying to match make Lucas and Laura and we end up hearing a few gaffes from Amy. Meanwhile Amy has eyes for Mr Hotshot Lawyer, Sam (and even more gaffes there).

Then we have Bronte the dog, mischievous as he is. He pokes his nose into the story every now again and it’s always the wrong time as Lucas pulls Lauŕa up about her dog every single time.

This, and a whole lot more drama appears when Laura’s ex does the dirty on her, here she is in a new place which just happens to be near the seaside and just inherited a B&B can things get any better?

I would say that this book is what I call a LOL book, such hilarity and misfortunes. You would have seen the TV programme Doc Martin, right? because, to me it had elements of and similar to.

This is a new author to me and Louise Mercer has an easy breeze, friendly writing attitude that fits this genre perfectly. I’m definitely going to seek out more of what she has written.

Giving a whole hearty 5 star rating/recommendation/review on this one and would suit anyone into light hearted feel good humorous books, with the touch of the seaside and a lover of pets.

If Only You Knew – Louise Mercer

……. man it stunk! ……

The past – A bush walk, tents, bush fires, rustic camp outs and clues of puzzling happenings. This is what 5 women tramp their way through until 1 goes missing.
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Alice goes missing and I’m not surprised she does as she’s a nasty piece of work. Alice to me, started acting slightly off when she was caught using her cellphone, you see the rule was that everyone had to leave their cellphones behind, it didn’t work in spots that they were tramping to, but her attitude! man it stunk!
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The present – The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.
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Jane Harpers writing was very intriguing, the author feeds you little bread crumbs of info and clues throughout. To me this was definitely a page turner and I throughly enjoyed the experience of being thrown into the wilderness and the thrill and excitement that something very sinister was about to happen at some point in time.

This is a new author to me and gifted to me by Ellen Read, she knows me well as this certainly had me laid back on the couch wanting to know more, just thank goodness our weather was crappy when reading it.

This is a five star review and recommend to all who like a cosy mystery and who want to be transported to Australia.

Force Of Nature – Jane Harper

….. how, of his faith, of A church of A religion, could actually say something as is nasty as what he did? …..

Firstly I want to thank Tracy Lee Thompson for gifting me the ARC of Pick the Wildflowers, which is now published. This beautiful book deals with love, a love between not only Toby and Hildy, but also brotherly love, blood love, as I call it “love is thicker than water love”.

This is a story about Toby Mitchell, aged 94, he looks back on his life starting at the age of 17, he has a brother called Bill, who always has to have “one up on him”, and then there is Hildy.

Sensitive readers, a trigger warning for you, be careful as this book does address rape and violence.

I found all three main characters extremely interesting.

We have BIll, although mischievous, I reckon he was your typical brother, trying to “show the ropes” to Toby in the younger years on getting a girl, I don’t think he meant any harm by it, naturally he was the older brother, but his mouth got him into trouble, so much so, that a dreadful drama scene with Hildys parents, that meant to go smoothly, actually turned out a whole lot worse. It’s a shame Bill didn’t quite deal with his demons, I have a feeling drink was only part of a deep disturbing problem, however … all is not lost with something else to mirror the little boy that was.
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Toby, I really enjoyed, he had such a carefree attitude, I liked the fact that he loved dancing in the rain, never mind that there wasn’t any music, and what’s not to love about skimming stones on the water. However, I was horrified that he had to witness a terrible event that basically broke his soul, I couldn’t help but wonder whether he would go down the spiral of blaming himself for circumstances that were beyond his control.
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I decided straight away that I loved Hildy very much, totally different to other girls that were born into the society of wealth. She had a heart, not at all materialistic and what was so refreshing to see was, that she took time to get to know Toby’s mother who had dementia. Things turned upside down for her, I really can’t imagine what it must have been like to not only go through a horrendous experience, but to have parents that were money driven and didn’t in the least think or care for her safety.
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A character I didn’t like is the priest, I mean he was mean, I’m sure his attitude would not be tolerated in this day and age, how, of his faith, of A church of A religion, could actually say something as is nasty as what he did? ….. how? Oh I totally agree with Bill, a bunch of hypocrites!!!
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Rating this a well deserved 5 stars, and it comes highly recommended by me, would suit readers interested in contemporary fiction – brotherly love – love through tragic times – poor vs rich

Pick the Wildflowers – Tracy Lee Thompson

… will suit anyone interested in Contemporary Fiction – Romance …

I want to thank all the authors in this anthology for such an amazing trip to Australia, writing skills are phenomenal. A special mention to Leanne Lovegrove, who contacted me and asked me if I wanted to review the ARC. A five star review is rewarded ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and comes highly recommended by me, will suit anyone interested in Contemporary Fiction – Romance

Release Date – 1 June 2020.
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Love On The Sweeping Plains – Leanne Lovegrove
Is about Tori, who decided to come back to her own home town, however she got quite a shock when Zac, the local vet announced he was on a reality dating TV Show. There is past history with them both, so how do they handle it?

I loved Leannes writing there is a fun vibe going on here, she swept me along with chickens and bottle brushes, two guineapigs called Puddles & Rainbow, and the suspense was killing me on how Tori was going to handle meals with meat, and being the “chef”. The picnic scene I had to laugh at with Lucy’s reaction when she caught a fish.
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Love in the Ragged Mountain Ranges – Susan Mackie
This is about Nik and Lucy who was starting over. Nik had bought herself an old courthouse to renovate, however she not only does she find herself a courthouse, but two very kind men who are her neighbours, who proves to be helpful in more ways than one.

I loved Susan’s description of the courthouse, which had been turned into a family home in the early nineteen hundreds. I’m very interested in the older type houses and Susan guided me through the house. I also enjoyed the descriptive writing of the renovations of the outside, absolutely adored the dynamics between “the neighbours” the friendly banter, laughing, joking and having pizza. I admit tears rolled down my face when Scout had puppies and Minnie wasn’t going to survive. I also loved the relationship that developed between Lucy and her enthusiastic love of horses. I thought Lucy was very responsible for her 11 years, what with riding a horse on her own and baking scones! What can’t she do?
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Far Horizons Love Story – Emma Powell
This is about Molly, who has decided to head back to her birthplace in Nahill. Hahill is way in the whop whops, where they grow wheat. Yes the birthplace of where her mother grew up. The family house was still standing, but one evening while venturing into the old family house, she found something, but she fell through some rotting floorboards, luckily the local policeman was nearby, this lead to a trip to the hospital where she meets more than the obvious challenge of crutches. Does dishy, flirty local plod come to the rescue?

I loved the humorous writing of the author, two of my favourite characters were Molly, she’s one of those people that everything seems to go wrong, but let’s face it, I think it might have something to do with her attitude, I mean who climbs over a barbed wire fence in an expensive skirt and rips it? and then their was dear, dear Lachlan singing old Macdonald.
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Love by the jewel sea – Rhonda Forrest
This was about Frankie her new job finds herself travelling to Dingo Beach, however getting there was no easy task, finding herself getting lost in a field on private land and then she crashes her car, things go pear shaped from there. Poor Frankie finds it a bit tough mingling with the “locals” and we as readers can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I loved basking in the Queensland sun, smelling the cows which played a dominant role at the start of the story, and absolutely adored the sugar cane!! An appropriate time to read this story as we are encroaching winter and I had plenty of doses of hot sun. Word of warning though, perhaps better not eat lunch when approaching the boat scene.
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Core of my Heart – Louise Forster
This is about Madeline, she has recently moved to a new town and now working at a bakery, she discovers an old friend of hers, a teenage crush, is she ready for another relationship?

I loved being transported into a bakery with sweet items I’ve never heard of before, I’m not sure whether this was entirely Italian, with its sweets and pastries, but I was won over by Mongolian Sweet Dumplings and plenty more.

I wasn’t quite sure about Madeline, something wasn’t right with her at all, but as the story unravelled I told myself I should not judge, there must be something more to it and I was totally surprised there was.

I loved the ending, there is nothing like whole families getting together for a big occasion… what big occasion? Well, let’s just say this story was well worth placing at the end of the anthology, yay for a grand finale.

….not to mention the dreadful combination of top and skirt….

I was very much touched with this audiobook, firstly I would like to thank the author, Catherine A. Hamilton, for giving me a gifted copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This ARC is now published.

Readers, do you want a raw, poignant book? because this one is definitely that. Anyone read the Tatooist of Auschwitz? If you have, cut the tatooist out of the story and concentrate on the crudeness of concentration camps and you have more of an idea of just a touch of what this book is like.

Etta had it really tough, first of all she was deaf and couldn’t talk, she loved painting and creating but couldn’t show her work, she had to hide them under the floor boards in an attic.

Victoria, although the two girls were very much the protagonists in this story, I felt Victoria dominated most of it, herself assured attitude kept her alive even though her parents weren’t what you call favourable. Abused by Ettas father as well as being made to wear ill fitting shoes and basically be a slave to Etta’s parents.

There were many characters I didn’t like in this book, but two that I picked out are the most important ones that you would think would be the most caring. The two mothers, Ettas and Victoria’s, however in saying that Victoria’s mother was a kind woman. She tried desperately to protect Victoria and her sister from the Nazis, and she secretly gave food to the Jewish seamstress.

Loved when the two girls, Etta and Victoria meet in the attic.

Loved the friendship Victoria had with Mrs Kosa, the wise mature woman who was extremely daring not to mention the dreadful combination of top and skirt.

Room 324 ended up haunting me, as Etta now had to get used to living there.

The mystery for me was finding what happened exactly in the shower room, which a nurse found out through simpleton Phillip, who held the key.

Loved the part where Victoria found her friend Sylvia in a brothel, but was heartbroken that she had fallen pregnant so many times and I felt for her when she had decided to keep the baby.

This was definitely a 5 star read for me and would suit anyone interested in Historical Fiction, especially Poland and Germany, WW2. Nazi v Polish/Catholics. Years 1939 – 1941.

Victoria’s War – Catherine A Hamilton

In VICTORIA’S WAR, Hamilton gives voice to the courageous Polish Catholic women who were kidnapped into the real-life Nazi slave labor operation during WWII. Inspired by true stories, this lost chapter of history won’t soon be forgotten.
POLAND, 1939: Nineteen-year-old Victoria Darski is eager to move away to college: her bags are packed and her train ticket is in hand. But instead of boarding a train to the University of Warsaw, she finds her world turned upside down when World War II breaks out.
Victoria’s father is sent to a raging battlefront, and the Darski women face the cruelty of the invaders alone. After the unthinkable happens, Victoria is ordered to work in a Nazi sewing factory. When she decides to go to a resistance meeting with her best friend, Sylvia, they are captured by human traffickers targeting Polish teenagers. Sylvia is singled out and sent to work in the brothels, and Victoria is transported in a cattle car to Berlin, where she is auctioned off as a slave.
GERMANY, 1941: Twenty-year-old Etta Tod is at Mercy Hospital, where she’s about to undergo involuntary sterilization because of the Fuhrer’s mandate to eliminate hereditary deafness. Etta, an artist, silently critiques the propaganda poster on the waiting room wall while her mother tries to convince her she should be glad to get rid of her monthlies. Etta is the daughter of the German shopkeepers who buy Victoria at auction in Berlin.
The stories of Victoria and Etta intertwine in the bakery’s attic where Victoria is held—the same place where Etta has hidden her anti-Nazi paintings. The two women form a quick and enduring bond. But when they’re caught stealing bread from the bakery and smuggling it to a nearby work camp, everything changes.

Paperback ISBN 9781632100689 – 19.95
Published by Plain View Press
e-book ISBN:9781632100696

…… you are waiting, you are watching, your palm of your hands are getting slightly sweaty ….

Wow, what the hell did I just read? If you want a stunned ending, you’ve got it here. I promise you now that if you are about to read the last few chapters in the evening there is absolutely no way you can put this book down, forget sleep, it wont happen. Ok, backing up now, I know I’ve started backwards, but this is so worth reviewing this way.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to review the ARC.

This is about Bill, a pilot, who becomes hostage, but only he knows via communication via laptop which is linked to another hostage site which is his home and family, now if you think that’s mediocre, to spice things up Bill is told that there is someone else on board the airplane that’s a double crosser. During the story the cabin crew find out that there is one, but not who, and part of their mission is to keep everyone safe as if nothing is happening without alerting the doublecrosser BUT all is not what it seems.

Character’s I enjoyed

  • Jo, she has to be the star of the show, she kept her wits about her, in the most stressful situation with being level headed, I can’t really say more without giving away spoilers, but for those who have read it, you will know why as well. She rocks, she needs a medal.
  • Big Daddy, for his brave attitude and his hilarious style. I loved the way he persuaded Jo about something onboard that she had to realise. Good plan about the masks, yes, Big Daddy is a cool dude, well worth having on your side using his humour to break the tension.
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    The author slowly leads you from one chapter to the next, you are waiting, you are watching, your palm of your hands are getting slightly sweaty as we are fed little tit bits of the story, by far, this is the best thriller I’ve read in a while. Not surprisingly the authors knowledge on airplanes had alot to do with it being a flight attendant between 2011 to 2021, which made her story telling that more plausible.
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    PUBLISHING DATE – 2 June 2021.
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    5 star review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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    Recommended to Thriller Suspense fans.
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    Book Review – Falling – T.J. Newman

very similar to Agatha Christie/PG Wodehouse.

This whole story comes across as hugely funny, Sam, who owns the cafe is interviewed, as there was a murder in it, now Sam doesn’t speak English very well so his responses to questions were bloody hilarious 🤣. Totally reminded me of Emanuel off Faulty Towers.

Set in a cafe where coffee is served, served was an understatement, one of the characters has 4 cups of coffee and they couldn’t even touch the scone they ordered with the first cup!

The book cover I thought is very alluring, how can you not resist sitting down in those chairs a little before deciding on whether to go into this creepy cafe.

Throughout the story there is a play on words, that will have you in stitches of laughter, the writing style very much reminds me of PG Wodehouse turned detective style.

What is unique about this story is there is an alert pause from the author before reading a bit further on to see if you can guess the ending.

The length for this story was just right for me, it was a short 42 pages, but I was using this as an “inbetween” read.

This is definitely a 5 star ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ read for me.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a small pause in reading a long novel, this would take most readers an afternoon to read, I feel this belongs in the cosy mystery genre, very similar to Agatha Christie/PG Wodehouse.

Murder At The Roadside Cafe – Brian O’Hare

The food! – Why? Because Julia is a connoisseur when manifesting eatables.

Who is the sugar and who is the spice? Well I don’t know, but I do know that this book centres around a female protagonist called Susannah. She runs a little bookshop, her life quite, uneventful, until one day something happeneds which leads her to camp out at a safe house that the police provide. We are lead on a cat and mouse chase as her attacker just manages to catch up with her and then she’s off again.
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This is a twisty tunnel full of suspense that Julia Blake has written, a gripping story that will keep you up into the wee hours of the morning.
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Memorable moments and why

Asbo, the cat – Why? Because I love how Julia introduces cats in her stories, I’m a cat lover too and I’m always intrigued to see what kind of a cat she has created.

James Sullivan – Why? Because he is every woman’s type of man, he cooks! He actually cooks! there is love, oh yes there is love, we feel it when a kiss is planted on Susannahs lips. I also love this type of angle Julia took with the romance in this book, James is a heart throb, a Casanova, what more can you ask for.

The food! – Why? Because Julia is a connoisseur when manifesting eatables. I loved the mention of bacon and who cant resist a bacon sammy hmmm? and then Julia knows my soft spot, sweet treats and in her book we have a chocolate croissant and bits of flaky pastry … the ultimate sin!

The plot and delivery of – Why? Each chapter I had no idea where the protagonist was going to go next, or if at all the murderer was ever going to be caught, making it a very exciting, intriguing book and a very suprising ending.
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So this is definitely a five star recommendation ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Sugar & Spice by Julia Blake
Contemporary thriller – suspense – mystery – romance

nobody loves you, nobody cries for you and you are as lonely as the devil……

Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
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I’ve all ways had a facination with Heathcliff, I knew nothing of the story behind it, nor the Bronte Sisters, I was bought up listening to the song that Kate Bush sang – Wuthering Heights. So naturally I took to YouTube again to listen and now after reading the story, it makes perfect sense.
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Wow, this is some dramatic book, but I listened to this as an audiobook which made it far more exciting. The part I liked best was when Cathy was locked in her room, she starts having obsessional thoughts and dreams, clearly going mad with plucking feathers from a pillow, Heathcliff was the only person on her mind.

I also enjoyed the bit when Isabella, Edgar’s sister marries Heathcliff and they land back at Wuthering Heights, you could almost feel a death sentence being yelled, you instinctively knew that something dark and luring was going to linger among that place like a fog that’s chilly and depressive. I was not wrong in assuming that whatever Heathcliff wants, he gets and stops for nothing to get it.

Seems fitting to put a quote here at the very end of the book, that I really enjoyed.

Catherine says to Healthcliff
“nobody loves you, nobody cries for you and you are as lonely as the devil.”

Totally enjoyed this audiobook. I consider this must be the most entertaining classic book I’ve come across yet. How can I not give this 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 as this book certainly deserves every star, amazing writing, how the author managed to pen such a feeling of hatred we have for Heathcliff, I don’t know, but I do know it is a sign of a magnificent author.
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Recommend to anyone who likes classic books, although be careful if you are overly sensitive as this story can be deeply disturbing.

I mean who calls a sausage dog, Wasabi? …….

Oh heck this was an adventure in a half. After Mercy Blains house burns down she wonders where she is going to live next. Well you would think that this would be easy, normal infact, but nothing was normal or easy for Mercy. A chain of calamity events happens, now we must remember here, she hasn’t stepped foot outside her house for two years, yeah I know! … two years! …. so her anxiety levels was as high as a rocket. To begin with her ex husband who lived across the road offered comfort, but, well you know, that isn’t going to work out, so she finds herself a clapt out old campervan and decides to randomly drive parts of Australia, encountering an adventure within an adventure that is hilariously funny, I mean who calls a sausage dog, Wasabi? Who cuts their hair with a knife? Who drives a van with no exhaust or muffler? I’m not a mechanic, but you get my drift? anyway who drives it that way so the whole highway can hear it?
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Thankfully the book provides a map so we know where Mercy goes, because I’m lost when it comes to directions, north, south, whatever, it means nothing to me.
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Recommendation – this is a new author to me and she sure does give you a ride for your money! Very witty. Although in the genre of Womens fiction, I would put it under contemporary fiction as well. This book is about anxiety, pain and grief and how this woman deals with it.

Rating System 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5 stars
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I want to thank NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for allowing me to read the ARC which is due to be published on 7 JULY 2021.
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ISBN9781867214908 PRICE A$29.99 (AUD)

The Other Side Of Beautiful – Kim Lock

it was a good taste, the taste of lemon pepper flavoured skipjack tuna, canned….

I was hooked, like a fish lured to a fishing hook, caught, that’s what it felt like with taking a taste of the first chapter, it was a good taste, the taste of lemon pepper flavoured skipjack tuna, canned.
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This was like camping on your own with a penknife, defensive, waiting with abaiting breath of how Katniss, with her bow and arrows, was going to break her ground and win The Hunger Games. Katniss is prepped on strategies, manoeuvres, fighting procedures to out do her component. A very serious business because basically its fight to survive, purely high fantasy with tracking systems inserted in the arm, climbing up trees and strapping oneself into the sleeping bag, killer wasps, berries that kill. None of the opponents I liked, infact the worst of them all was foxface, I can see her now, the cunningness, her sneaky laughter 😖 and I’m glad how she died 😊 … a pure hatred, her character grated on my nerves.
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Three quotes I loved
“As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”
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“Oh, and I suppose the apples are the cheese” I say.
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“So now that you’ve got me, what are you going to do with me?” I turn to him. “Put you somewhere you can’t get hurt.”

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Oh wow, what an ending that was, totally unexpected and actually I don’t blame Peeta for feeling the way he did in the end, oh well I need to buy book 2 to see how it pans out.

Rating this with 5 stars – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 A highly entertaining book
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I definitely recommend this to any high fantasy lovers and especially females who are interested in reading about a strong female protagonist and of course there is a pinch of romance in this, kind of.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

What a shame we don’t have radio stations that do broadcasts of Serials anymore …..

14 April 2021 – Audiobook Review
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I was gifted the audiobook via Ellen Read and listened from Google Play, although I understand you can access it from book bub, Amazon.com and Audible, and there could be a few other places, please do a search to find what suits you best.
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Alexandra and Edith are exactly how I imagined they sounded like, giving off the flavour of Upstairs Downstairs with English accents given to the era. I’m picking that’s why Ellen Read wanted an English narrator to make this audiobook come alive. Congratulations to P J Roscoe who did just that. Edith, in her early 20’s, gives off a concerning and worrisome nature, but bounces back with her romantic and happy self. Alexandra, the main female protagonist, also in her early 20’s, gives off a very stern and authoritative manner which makes quite an interesting combination of talkative flow when you hear the both girls together, bringing the whole story to a delightful awareness that I think, is the highlight of this cosy mystery.
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What a shame we don’t have radio stations that do broadcasts of Serials anymore, as this took me back to when I used to listened to them and it certainly would make entertainment around the radio.
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Set in the 1920s , it is a historical fiction set in Australia. A light romance, and to top it off, to give an extra interest and a unique angle, cosy mystery in the shape of Agatha Christie. I highly recommend it.
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Duration Time – 11 hrs, 1 min

The Dragon Sleeps – Ellen Read

looking for followers on Twitter…….

Two people, two lives, which is false? which is reality? Alexander is caught in a life of total unhappiness within his marriage, reaches for Twitter and hits the jackpot with the gold being in the shape of Maria.
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Maria, a writer, looking for followers on Twitter, gets herself into a pickle of…. is this for real? Is this man a scammer? Well, it wouldn’t hurt would it, if I play the game a little?
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My thoughts – all through this I was thinking … this is going to end really badly. Soulla Christodoulou gives us a highly entertaining twisty tale of deceit, love, and heart break. We have not only a cheating husband Alexander to his wife Sandra, but Maria now single, has to deal with a daughter that has deep secrets. For those who are drawn to a more serious romantic side of books, this has it in some places, but it’s done in a tasteful manner.
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A very gripping book that will have you leaning over your cellphone to put it on silent.
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A well earned 5 star read – ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommended genre – Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Alexander and Maria – Soulla Christodoulou

wondering what an orange and pink bedroom would look like……

After having her house burnt down and no insurance, Freya has been invited by her niece, Billie to help out on Magnetic Island (locals call it Maggie Island). Billies Mum, Pearl (Freyas sister) who manages a restaurant in Maggie’s Island, has decided, along with her husband, to do a tour around Australia in so many days. Now let’s note here, there is a family history that has caused a rift between Pearl and Freya. We do hear in this story what it is.
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Billie, why here is a girl that her past catches up with her, she finds herself pregnant, does the revealing to Freya, but adamant not to tell her own mother. Also a detective comes to the island which means an unexpected trip to Cairns. So you see, many complicated issues Billie faces.
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It felt like I was at the beach myself with listening to The Sisters Gift. Gift is right, when I read one of Barbara Hannays books, she sends you into a heaven of imagination that you want to stay with, for the rest of your life. I listened to this via audiobook. Excellent descriptive words. I was left wondering what an orange and pink bedroom would look like. I chuckled at the word “bloody Brian” (Freyas ex) and I loved and bathed in the discription of Maggie Island. There is a surprise, but satisfactory ending. So I am happy with that.
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Kudos goes to the narrator, Sarah Kennedy. Her Australian accent, made the story so real that you felt you were in Australia. The “sound effects” for the telephone, I thought was brilliant and sounded scaringly real.
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To me this had slight hints of The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth in it, but more of a romantic, light easy feel to it.
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Listening time – 10 hours, 21 minutes.
Listening app that I listened on was Bolinda audio from my library.

Rating – 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐.
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Recommendation genre – Australian Fiction/Contemporary/Romance

The Sisters Gift – Barbara Hannay – Blurb

As a vibrant, young woman with a lifetime of possibilities ahead of her, Freya grants her sister, Pearl, the ultimate gift of motherhood. However, this comes at a hefty price – an unexpected rift in her family and the loss of the man she loves.

Decades later, Freya is divorced, childless and homeless, at rock bottom after losing everything she’s worked for. When her estranged niece, Billie, offers sanctuary, managing the family restaurant on beautiful Magnetic Island, Freya can hardly refuse.

Billie has never understood the tension between her mother and her aunt and now, with a newly broken heart, she is nursing a family secret of her own. All three women come together under the tropical Queensland skies, but can they let go of past regrets, or will old tensions tear them further apart?

caning and whipping till bones are cracking …..


The Thornton Mysteries – The Amber Trap (book 3) – Ellen Read

This time when we open The Thornton Mysteries, The Amber Trap, we are introduced to another lot of family members! More of a look into the immediate family, we get up close and personal to Joyce, (Benedict’s mother) a woman that’s as hard and cold as stainless steel, Florrie, (Joyce’s sister) who is a sandwhich short of a picnic and good old Ned (Benedict’s father). Pets, not animals are more the trend, with a couple of dogs and a dear old Clydesdale horse, all with personal characters of their own.
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Florrie, I found the most disturbing out of the whole lot, she pops right into your face and repeats things.
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Stamps, amber and entrapment, were all the talk of the town that lead to burning like a house on fire, spanner in the works, caning and whipping till bones are cracking and a loss that ends with tears, pooled together with a bittersweet ending and this is what you get when you read Ellen Read’s books, I had to rest a couple of days just to get my head around it all.
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At this stage I better say thank you to Ellen for gifting me the ARC of The Amber Trap in exchange for an honest review, the ebook is due out on the 21 March 2021. Ellen’s writing is again, phenomenal and does not wane. This is a strong and steadfast book, with an excellent ending leading into book 4. Not speechless this time, because Ellen’s writing is well worth spreading like a wild fire, only you wouldn’t want to dampen the flames. The pacing just right for this book with a very climatic ending. Congratulations Ellen, can’t wait to read book 4.
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Giving a rewarding and well earned 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommendation – Even though this is a cosy mystery murder, it comes under Historical Fiction, as Ellen has a knack of putting Historical facts into a fiction story and not making it feel like you are getting a history lesson. This also comes under Romance, due to Benedict and Alexandra being reasonably newly weds. Don’t forget, this doesn’t have to be read as a series, all of The Thornton Mysteries can be read as stand alones.

The Amber Trap – Ellen Read

THE AMBER TRAP BLURB

Murder on the High Seas. Thomas Thornton reads the newspaper article.
 
Can the murder of a young German man, fatally stabbed during a voyage out of London to Melbourne, have anything to do with the Thorntons? Alexandra’s curiosity is piqued when a Prussian Count, who travelled on the same ship, shows up at Thornton Antiques in search of a rare amber postage stamp.
 
Alexandra Thornton and Benedict Archer have been married for one year. Benedict is estranged from his family, who own a vineyard in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. Alexandra urges him to try to heal the breach. 
 
Murder. A strange count searching for a rare stamp. A missing opal. A family in turmoil. How are they all connected?

Subconscious mind meets subconscious mind in just a greeting …..

Focused, yes I was totally focused when I was listening to this audiobook.

Subconscious mind meets subconscious mind in just a greeting or in Elizabeth case with Ann Patchet “a greeting kiss”. I was so fascinated by the whole scenario over the Amazon jungle novel. It does makes sense, and I have it seen it myself, writer to writer, writer to book, reading authors books … facinating stuff.
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This is totally an inspirational book, Elizabeth Gilbert actually reads the book herself and talks about many issues dealing with not being inspired in some way, the mental road blocks creatives encounter, the dreaded worry and fear that’s a death sentence to any creative person.
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Alot of inspirational quotes sprung up, infact this is definitely a one to read if any writer is feeling a writers block comming on, this will definately unblock the system, but not only writers, but any creative person.
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Because I was listening to this, I could only catch a few and jot them down, but it will give you an idea of what you are in for.
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Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you.

A creative life is an amplified life.

My fear became boring.
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5 star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommended genre – Lifestyle/wellbeing/self- improvement

Blurb

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Wheres Wally? Wheres Waldo? I didn’t realise until I

Wheres Wally? Wheres Waldo? I didn’t realise until I listened to this audio book that Wally, Waldo had so many different names!!

Fern, and we are talking about Fern in the story, not Fern Cotton, absolutely highlighted this book for me…. all I can say is wow … wow …. and wow.

So many twists and turns in this story that I really can’t say much otherwise I’m going to give quite alot away, but this is loaded, riddled with a maze that will definately have you in a daze.
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Listened as an audiobook through Bolinda Audio. 7 hrs, 43 minutes and read by Casey Withoos. (noticeboard – Australian accent).
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A very easy 5 star rating from me ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommended genre – Mystery Thriller – Suspense
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Sally Hepworth – The Good Sister

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Notice Board – I’ve decided not to include the synopsis to this one, as I do feel it actually spoils the mystery to this book. When choosing this book I’m thankful that I didn’t either, because it made the book so much more enjoyable.

I know if my cat Chloe could read I’m sure she would enjoy this…..

Does anyone enjoy reading about cats in children’s books? I know if my cat Chloe could read I’m sure she would enjoy this. I was actually very surprised that the cat is a “he” … and liked baking and sewing! 😯🤷‍♀️ … so that was a twist in the story of gender equality right from the start. Mincemeat was another reason why I read this story in the first place, it had me curious and let’s face it, who names a pet after food. You know my love of flowers, right? …so we have Lilac Hill and Aunt Petunia. Then I noticed the station names which I truly adored, Bumblebee Bridge, Hamster Heights, Marshmallow Ridge, to name a few out of the blue. This is aimed for the 5 – 9 year olds although older readers would enjoy this too. I picked out just one excerpt and it’s obvious why I chose it.

Excerpt
“The next station was Lilac Hill. Everywhere you looked, there were hundreds and hundreds of pale violet lilacs. They were in hanging baskets along the platform, and the rooftop of the
ticket office was covered in lilacs too. The flower stall on the platform sold nothing but lilacs! Mincemeat had never seen anything like it.”

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My sincere thank you goes out to the author, Lois Davis for gifting this ebook to me in exchange for a honest review.
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I’m giving this book 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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recommended genre – childrens book

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Mincemeat and the incredible train ride – Lois Davis
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I will leave you all now with the synopsis
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Mincemeat, a kind, devoted and human-sized ginger cat, lives with rascally sidekick Great-Grandma in the village of Howdoyoudo. Mincemeat loves sewing, dancing and his motorbike. But not as much as he loves baking! Together he and Great-Grandma embark
on all kinds of crazy adventures.
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Featuring an array of eccentric characters, Lois’s humorous tales explore themes of kindness, consideration, encouragement, pride and forgiveness.

On average in America you move 11 or 12 times …

I won this audiobook as a giveaway the author provided. Unfortunately it’s taken me two years to get to this one, due to blowing off some dust bunnies in the shed and cranking up the old faithful CD machine.
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Although this is an audiobook, Ali does talk about diagrams and such like that you can physically do in the paperback version.
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On average in America you move 11 or 12 times … that’s quite a number of times. Ali suggests and gives her expertise help on something that you would think is easy, but isn’t, the CD was loaded with common sense observations that we tend to over look when buying a house.

There were 4 disks in the CD case, (with mine an additional bonus of the PDF) Ali mentions decluttering before moving, and even you aren’t moving this was so facinating to listen to and some very useful hints that I will be putting into practice. There was quite alot on pets and travel and how to plan shifting with them. How to set up rooms, once you have arrived. How to greet people in a new town and carry on with a conversation when you are making new friends. Alot of thought has been put into this CD.
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Rating The Art Of Happy Moving 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommended genre – self help – non fiction – life skills – audiobook

The Art Of Happy Moving – Ali Wenzke

think PG Wodehouse in a steampunk book with a murder

Thank you to OdysseyBooks for gifting me this book in exchange for a honest review.

This book was extremely hard to follow, there were quite a few characters and alot going on, infact trying to make sense what was what, was in itself … very trying, however I carried on regardless until the halfway point and then I gave up 🤷‍♀️ sadly, yes … but I really couldn’t make head or tail of this story. I noticed most of the chapters were quite short and I wondered whether it had to be that way, wouldn’t it have been better off combining some? Maybe it might have flowed a bit better if it had.

I thought also there was no need for the subheadings as it kind of spoiled what was coming up in the chapter, especially when the chapters were so short.
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This book was extremely witty though, think PG Wodehouse in a steampunk book with a murder and you’ve got the tone of the book.
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I did enjoy Gladys, absolutely loved her demeanour and I loved how the author wrote a drunken character into the book, the dialogue was absolutely hilarious and this character seemed to get drunk regularly…. but apart from that, I really can’t rate this book, you will just have to see for yourselves.
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Rating – DNF
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Recommended genre – steampunk – adventure.
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Leaving you all now with the synopsis….
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Hungover aristocrat Edward “Charlie” Decharles awakens in the back of a steam-cab, only to discover that the driver has been murdered. Unused to feeling responsible for anything, he feels compelled to find the killer. As he investigates, he meets “The Amazing” Gladys Dunchurch, a stage magician’s assistant whose employer has disappeared – and not in a good way. They form an alliance – Charlie will help Gladys with his considerable resources and Gladys will help Charlie with her even more considerable brains.

Soon they discover that their respective mysteries are not only connected to each other, but related to other seemingly unrelated strangeness transpiring in London – the murder of an astronomer, an attack on a patent medicine factory, a mysterious cult in an idyllic town, and reports of deadly creatures in the London sewers.

Charlie and Gladys find themselves pitted against dead-eyed assassins, murderous pirates, wingless flying machines, and perhaps even creatures from beyond this Earth. And lurking behind it all lies a sinister cabal that knows the secret origin of the steam-powered society that powers their world. Can our heroes save the day, or will the fallout from that secret destroy two worlds?

Champagne Charlie and the Amazing Gladys is a fun, witty Steampunk adventure yarn, featuring a cast of eccentric characters.

but alas, not for the faint hearted, cruelty and other issues will lead you…..


Historical Fiction, West London, 1960s. Two twins, 15 years old, and a dog … ordered by their father to spend their life in New Forest countryside, with their grumpy old grandmother after their mother ended up in an asylum…. a mystery occurs when Duncan (one of the twins) disappears without any warning. Some say it’s the “mad woman” in the woods, who shoos everyone off, scares people. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in 10 years, but not this time, can she cough up? What does she reveal? Or is there something else entirely going on?
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Lesley Pearse writes in a very easy style, simplistic. Some would find this a bit slowish to start off with, but I didn’t have an issue with it. To me this had a feeling of a cosy mystery, with alot of questioning and analysing and pursuing answers. I thoughly enjoyed this book which nearing the end was quite gripping, but alas, not for the faint hearted, cruelty and other issues will lead you leaning back to get the tissue box. Quite a thick book, I own the paperback version with 386 pages, but the good thing I found is, the print is rather large, which meant it is more of an easy and fast read.
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This was a personal pick of mine, as I am adding to my collection of Lesley Pearse books. Bought from Book Depository.
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🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5 star rating.
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Recommendation – Genre – Historical Fiction/London 1960s – Adventure – Cosy Mystery/Thiller.

The Woman In The Wood – Lesley Pearse

Pause, reflect and what did I just listen to?

Pause, reflect and what did I just listen to? Ok you would think, ah yes, another one of these inspirational books, just saying the same thing, with the same uplifting phrases, well yes, …. but wait a minute, not so fast … and that’s it … although I did do a heap of cleaning around the house with this one, I must admit, at times I sat on the green grass outside in the shade, with Chloe, the daisies and the dandelions and also making sure I wasn’t sitting among some bird poop…. and listened.
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Yes, I listened to Inspire by Ben Fogle as an audio book. A personal pick of mine.
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Ben Fogle, while in isolation and in locked down, spent his time with pen and pencil up in his childrens tree house, delivering to us an entertaining, awe inspiring view of his life.
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Very nature inspired due to Ben Fogles experience with out door adventures, TV related programmes, for example – “Castaway” when reality TV, was just that, and not scripted, we are tossed and turned into the ocean when rowing across the Atlantic. Snow bound and frost bite warnings in the South Pole. An arrange of stories from the sea, letches in jungles, why you keep your feet dry at all costs “because your feet are your wheels” . Killings of animals on “Castaway” which was totally facinating and very insightful.
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I wrote down and played back a few quotes that will appear from time to time on Facebook and Instagram.
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Not all the book is like this, but well balanced with stories full of adventure, but there were sad bits too, my eyes welled up when Ben mentioned his stillborn baby boy he and his wife had, which he held in his hands, I can’t think of anything worse with me being a Mum how that would have been like.
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If you have lost your mojo, or you just want a bit of an uplift this will do it, or like me and you just wanted to know what this man you’ve seen on TV is like … well this is your chance.
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Rating this as 5 Stars
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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Recommended Genre – NonFiction/Biography/Lifestyle/Mind, body & spirit/Recreation/Nature/Animals

7 hrs – 15 mins. Released 15 Oct 2020

What happens when you fall in love with a man that …….

What happens when you fall in love with a man that you can’t have? What happends when someone who is keeping a secret says … “If we sink, we sink together”.

I was totally invested in this audiobook. Although it is Historical Fiction, and there was a bit about the tulip trade and how valuable (in money sense) one bulb can be, it wasn’t the main centre of attraction for me. The centre of attraction were William, Maria, Cornelis,Sophia, Jan Van loos.
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Maria, a character I didn’t like because of her deception saying to Sophia “If we sink we sink together” mind you Sophia was just as bad, the two of them plotting the most evil crime.

Cornelis, a character I felt really sorry for, he hadn’t a clue what was going on.
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Jan Van loos, a character that is the lover that is like no other.
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William, a character that got swindled and then slowly disappeared, but a surprise awaits near the end.
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So as the plots reveal themselves slowly throughout the storyline you are kept in suspense as you would when you wonder whether avocados and bananas go well in a sandwhich, all you want to do really when listening to this is to paddle along the beach, headphones on, a refreshing breeze and the water refreshingly warm… waiting …. man this was some book!!!
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This audio was 7 hrs, 23 minutes. A book full of beauty, love, greed and deception. 17th Century – Amsterdam.

Rating – 5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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Recommended genre – Historical Fiction – General Fiction – Historical Romance – Romance – Sagas

had me glued to the couch, and also under the Nashi Pear tree, with a plastic faded …..

Anyone house buying? Or interested in following stories of people looking at buying houses? Purely fictional of course, but Fixtures & Fittings had me glued to the couch, and also under the Nashi Pear tree, with a plastic faded green chair, a cross wind and Chloe of course. This was no ordinary house hunting, what started with a facination with a tree house ended up being something entirely different. With all that was going on, I’m really suprised our Marcus Blackwood wasn’t quanked, he stayed cool, calm and collected and above all … polite! I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Marcus Blackwood.

Nope … no, no tittynope here with Julia Blakes descriptive writing on food… the smells, the taste, will have you frantically searching in your own fridge. But it’s not all smiles, laughter and appetising food. We are horrified of the events slowly revealed to us of what happened to Megan, so frighteningly tragic, that it has left her mute. I tell you what did steal the show is … the twins 😍 although throwing rotten tomatoes was a hilarious incident, I did sort of cringe when something happened in the car.

So let’s join Marcus Blackwood and family, Grace Lovejoy and Co and see where this leads. Can they get Megan to talk? What really happened? It will be interesting to see where the relationship goes with Marcus and Grace Lovejoy, will there be love and joy?
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Thank you Julia Blake for such an entertaining read, and to Platform House Publishing for such a delightful book cover.
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5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
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Recommended genres – Romantic Suspense/Romantic Thriller

Blurb copy and pasted from Goodreads.

Sometimes a choice must be made. What to keep and what to leave behind.

Rich, handsome, sophisticated Marcus Blackwood has it all. Then a double murder turns his perfect life upside down, leaving him sole guardian of his young niece. Traumatised into muteness, Megan needs so much more than Marcus believes he can ever give her.

Searching for their forever home, instead, Marcus finds Grace Lovejoy. An eccentric single parent, Grace and her children are being forced to sell their house. Somehow a connection is forged between Megan and the Lovejoy family, which Marcus hopes will bring his little niece back from a very dark place.

And then there’s Grace herself. The complete antithesis to everything he has ever looked for in a woman, yet still there is a bond between them that Marcus cannot explain. She is not what he wants, but is she what he needs?

And all the time, the deadly consequences of trying to break Megan’s silence creep ever closer, because there is a killer out there with unfinished business.

yes it has been re-released, but I assure you the storyline hasn’t changed.

I want to thank Ellen Read for giving me the opportunity to proofread the ARC of Love The Gift … the interior of both the ebooks and paperbacks are formatted by Platform House Publishing …. yes it has been re-released, but I assure you the storyline hasn’t changed. In addition though, is the new book cover plus the beautiful illustrations at the beginning of each chapter.
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I will leave you all now with my orginal review
Grief……. it comes to us all, at some point in time and with Mark it was no different. It was 4 years, Mark had decided to take a trip to see his best friend, Beth, a friend he has had since University days. Beth had emailed Mark inviting him to stay in the Sutton Forest. Due to the grief he was harbouring over his mother, he wasn’t sure whether to go or not, but he knew that Beth would push him to go, so go he did.
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Beth operated ‘The Magnolias’ which is built on 20 hectares, a Georgian House, that had been turned into a boutique hotel and spa. ‘The Magnolias’ was so full that Mark ended up in a woman’s bedroom, but not anyones bedroom, this was Charlotte’s room, who had died over 100 years ago, no one had slept in it since and this bedroom wasn’t open to the public. As he was settling in he noticed a painting of a lady on the wall. Beth was proud to announce that it is her great great-aunt, Charlotte. Her last days were spent in her bedroom and in a walled garden, she explained.
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What was the mystery behind the painting that was beckoning Mark? Was he seeing and feeling things that were real? or was it all a surreal dream?
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5 star review 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Recommended genres – Contemporary. Women’s fiction. Romance. Timeslip. Healing. Feel good.

Determination is the key word I thought of when listening to

What happens when you lose your memory? What happens when sometimes you don’t even remember which is your house when walking home? What happens when you can’t remember when you last ate?

At the age of 58, author Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s/dementia, she painfully describes how and walks us through the strategies she puts in place for remembering…. but not on just remembering, but strategies put in place to help her to stay independent. Determination is the key word I thought of when listening to this audio book, just share determination, that she wasn’t going to rely on her two daughters and also her end of the tunnel vision of keeping out of the nursing home …. no, she didn’t want to go there at all.

You know what is so special about Wendy Mitchell? It is that she was at a stage in her dementia where she could rationalise and recognise and problem solve bumps in the road that she could soothe out before they grew into a mountain that she couldn’t climb. Yes, sometimes she had to stop and shelter in a cave until she got her bearings again, but this is what is so remarkable about this woman, she kept on going. Staying positive, looking at life like a clean beach with no chaos, well there was chaos, her mind did flip, but she seemed to just have that knowledge to recover and calm her nerves.
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So I picked this book mainly because my Mum suffers from Alzheimer’s, too late for her I’m afraid at 94 to recalibrate, but it certainly was an insight of what she must be going through.
(I hope Alzheimer’s is not hereditary 🙄).
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Listened to as an audiobook, supporting my local library through bolinda borrow box (no charge).
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⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 star rating.
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Recommendation – Autobiography/Memoirs – Alzheimers/Dementia

Blurb
Somebody I Used To Know – Wendy Mitchell

When Wendy Mitchell was diagnosed with dementia at the age of 58, she had to say good-bye to the woman she once was. Her career in the NHS, her ability to drive, cook and run – the various shades of her independence – were suddenly gone. Yet Wendy was determined not to give in. She was, and still is, propelled by a need to live in the moment, never knowing which version of herself might surface tomorrow.

In this phenomenal memoir – the first of its kind – Wendy grapples with questions most of us have never had to consider. What do you value when loss of memory reframes what you have, how you have lived and what you stand to lose? What happens when you can no longer recognise your own daughters or even, on the foggiest of days, yourself?

Philosophical, intensely personal and ultimately hopeful, Somebody I Used to Know gets to the very heart of what it means to be human. It is both a heartrending tribute to the woman Wendy used to be and a brave affirmation of the woman dementia has seen her become.

You know how you book into a hotel and that night you ………

You know how you book into a hotel and that night you can’t sleep, because of the hum of the air conditioning, or maybe it’s the loud construction noise coming right through the window? what do you do? Change rooms? Well author, Sarah Wilson has techniques that helps us with certain anxiety, how to cope with it, how to “sit with it”…. what is anxiety? It something that drives people, that highly intelligent people suffer from, like Einstein and even there are different types of anxiety. A spiral anxiety and even anxiety that goes full blown out and beyond panic attacks and then there are the milder types with the OCD.
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I have listened to a few audio books, but none that really had grabbed my attention as much, or for as long as this one. The more I kept going deeper into this audio, the more interesting it became. This author, who “takes off her mask” is a total wreck. I questioned halfway through, how 🤷‍♀️ how did she get through all these life incidents and still remain in one piece? ….. the answer is clear, and stated above … anxious people drives themselves “get things done” “organise things”.

This was actually a highly interesting, but yet for me, a calming audiobook at a time when high stress is normally the case …. at Christmas time, when most people are running around I just sat quietly for a change, relaxed and just listened, giggling and laughing at the high wit that needs be, in a book like this. The author does touch briefly on other things, like sugar, and how this effects the body and mind, but the majority was about plain old anxiety.

I highly recommend you listen to the audiobook of this, or book for that matter, its extremely interesting, facinating, entertaining and it kept me captivated for hours. Read by the author herself. Duration time 9 hrs 7 mins.
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This was free through my library and listened by Bolinda Borrow Box, my libraries recommended listening app.
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5 star rating
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Genre – Non-fiction – Wellbeing – Self Help – Autobiography – Australian – Health

Blurb – First We Make The Beast Beautiful – Sarah Wilson

Fusing memoir with polemic, bestselling author Sarah Wilson turns her attention from sugar to anxiety, her lifetime companion, to reframe it as a positive state that we can harness to improve our lives.

Sarah Wilson – bestselling author and entrepreneur, intrepid solver of problems and investigator of how to live a better life – has helped over 650,000 people across the world to quit sugar. She has also been an anxiety sufferer her whole life.

In her new book, she directs her intense focus and fierce investigatory skills onto this lifetime companion of hers, looking at the triggers and treatments, the fashions and fads. She reads widely and interviews fellow sufferers, mental health experts, philosophers, and even the Dalai Lama, processing all she learns through the prism of her own experiences.

Sarah pulls at the thread of accepted definitions of anxiety, and unravels the notion that it is a difficult, dangerous disease that must be medicated into submission. Ultimately, she reframes anxiety as a spiritual quest rather than a burdensome affliction, a state of yearning that will lead us closer to what really matters.

Practical and poetic, wise and funny, this is a small book with a big heart. It will encourage the myriad sufferers of the world’s most common mental illness to feel not just better about their condition, but delighted by the possibilities it offers for a richer, fuller life

Cog wheels and mechanical objects, steam powered engines, thought provoking …….

Cog wheels and mechanical objects, steam powered engines, thought provoking chapters, a fast paced gripping adventure…… this is what I let myself in for, when I delved into Black Ice by Julia Blake. Hisssssss, Pop! …… Julia is extremely good at explaining how things work in her book, making you visualize the movement that turned even more real.
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I was introduced to … alot? …. no not alot, more like a crew of character’s…. so I just picked out just one that stood out to me, that won my heart. Eli – the youngster of the “seven Dwarvians” that has an uncomplicated mind of a child. Fiercely protected by his sister Kylah. He is loved and valued by the rest of the group and always included. He possess a gentle magic that summon small plants and animals to his hands, although a stutterer he comes across as an absolute sweetheart.
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What stole my heart was a quote that I thought was the creme de la creme of the book ….
“Love can cross all barriers,” her mother told her, and smiled lovingly at her husband. “It can break down preconceptions and prejudices, and shine light into even the most determined of hearts.”
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and then my heart exploded into so many pieces (in a good way, mind) of love and joy when I read the tale of …. the two brothers and the missing spade and a cake 😊😉
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5 star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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This book comes highly recommended by me – A fast paced steampunk fantasy/retelling of Snow White, for adventure lovers, fantasy lovers and fits the YA fantasy genre perfectly 👌

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My name is Pauline, I’m an ordinary housewife living in New Zealand, my hobbies are photography and books.
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leaving you all now with the blurb below.
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The path to the throne is a dangerous one

All her life, Princess Snow of House White has had to tread carefully. The powerful Contratulum plans to use her as its puppet. Her aunt wishes her dead. And as for her stepfather – well, Snow has no illusions about what he desires from her.

Escaping an assassination attempt, Snow finds sanctuary with the mysterious Ronin – the Captain of a band of outlaws living deep within the Great Forest. These seven are all that is left of the Dwarvians, a once proud and powerful people driven to the brink of extinction by the Contratulum.

When the seven Dwarvians pledge to help Snow claim her throne, the race is on to enlist allies using forbidden airship technology. But the clock is ticking …

With only two weeks to go before her coronation, and facing almost insurmountable odds, Snow and her friends must push themselves to the limits of their endurance – and beyond.

Think you know the Snow White story? Think again!

Ailey recovering from drug addiction, is written to enlighten the reader that …….

So we have here Aileen (her brother calls her Ailey) fresh out of rehab and given a second chance of life. She travels to the Isle of Skye, Scotland to rethink her life, however she got more than what she bargained for as certain parts of her life are revealed to her. Her newly acquainted brother is trying to keep her safe from what is revealed, yet Ailey is strong headed and feels she can handle all that is dealt to her. Can she do this? I read with amusement to find out how she will cope, and how it will it end.

Aileys brother is a Police Constable. He thought he knew what was best for his sister, but the more he learns, the more he learns how wrong he was. The only way he can make it up to her is give her the one thing she never had, love and protection of the family.

So what of the father, that connects these two together? How, why and where is he? This is where the mystery starts as we follow Constable Brodie MacEwan on his enquiries.

To complicate matters even more we have Alec Galbraith, he fancies Ailey, so how is this going to fit in to the scheme of things. We all love a love story and this one I can tell you is worth reading.
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Author, Wendy Hewlett has been an addiction counsellor at a private addictions treatment centre, so her knowledge on a subject that is dark is written in a very professional manner, extremely well done, executed perfectly. Her prose, style and word delivery extremely tasteful. I loved the plot of this book and a look into drug addictions and how they effected Ailey. Ailey recovering from drug addiction, is written to enlighten the reader that not all drug users are responsible for what has been done to them, which was Aileys case, this to me is a very inspiring book, very gripping, with a romantic tone and crime details that keep you interested throughout the story.
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This book comes with a warning from me, this deals with alcohol/drug/child abuse, read with caution if these are triggers for you.
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5 star rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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recommended genres – crime fiction – contemporary fiction – romantic suspense.

Blurb

Aileen MacEwan has a second chance at life.

Fresh out of rehab, she’s still learning to deal with emotions. Discovering living relatives on the Isle of Skye, Scotland comes as a shock – one that has her gripping white-knuckled to her sobriety. How does a young woman who’s never experienced love and affection acclimate to an overprotective brother, a kind and loving mother, and a tenderhearted friend who desires more than friendship?

Scottish Police Constable Brodie MacEwan thinks he knows what’s best for his sister. Until he begins unravelling her past.

How can Ailey spread her newfound wings and fly with two wicked villains hell-bent on enslaving her in servitude?

Is Ailey’s second chance all for naught? 

So I start reading in the year 1745. I know nothing …….

So I start reading in the year 1745. I know nothing of this era and I wanted to learn more about it. “This is the tale of high adventure in the turbulent days of the Jocobite Rebellion”
Actually before I go any further and forget, I won this novella as a giveaway on Facebook in July 2020.
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I was totally surprised how well I could follow the slight wording of English, it made perfect sense to me, or maybe it’s the Scottish blood in me already attuned to this era. The “aye” and other quaint words peeked my interest and I’m left wondering how come we don’t use these words? because it does make for very interesting conversation, but I guess back in those days, they would consider it …. “normal”.
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I was really fascinated about the “sword making” that the author describes and of course these are of the times where it was extremely important, as what else would they use as armoury?
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I enjoyed the authors prose and here is an example delivered to you by a quote to give you an idea.

“I can take a bar of plain iron and work it until it becomes a thing of beauty. A fine blade or, if you like something less dangerous, a paperknife, or even a watch-spring! It is the process that fascinates me, Kate.”

If you are looking for romance, there is romance, but not what you would expect, definitely a romance with a twist. The author decided to give us a very suspenseful finish with quite a lot happening nearer the end. Are you into swording fighting? because if you are, this book will serve your purposes, but they arrive a lot later on in the book, so be prepared, although well worth the wait.
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There was quite a lot of suspense three quarters of the way through right till the end, and it picks up on a pace from there on in to develop into quite an interesting ending.

I loved the sword making/fighting in this book, and if you are a fan of sword fighting this is worth picking up. This novella is a light hearted read with a suspenseful ending.
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5 star rating.
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Genre – Historical Fiction/Historical Romance
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Blurb
A tale of high adventure in the turbulent days of the Jacobite Rebellion


1745: John Steel takes a consignment of swords to Warenford Keep on the wild Northumberland coast. He suspects that the swords are destined for the rebel army of Charles Edward Stuart, but matters are complicated by his growing attraction to Katherine Ellingham, daughter of a known Jacobite and betrothed to the powerful Lord Warenford.

With Carlisle in the hands of the Jacobites, and government troops patrolling Northumberland, John makes a desperate bid to retrieve the swords from the Keep before his family is implicated in the uprising, but can he succeed, and protect Katherine and her family at the same time? 

Hands up anyone who likes chocolate. You are in for a treat …….

Hands up anyone who likes chocolate. You are in for a treat if you do, as this is the most irresistible book. We have here Alexandra, a very strong-willed female, who doesn’t want to be like the rest of the women in her era. What makes it more difficult is, she is born into a family that has lots of money, reeking of it, infact ooooozing with it. Alexandra wants to be independent and within her from a very young age, a fascination with chocolate. An opportunity occurs that’s so bizarre that sets her dreams in motion, working at the chocolate factory, but this is not the only factor here, we have Mathew who plans and plots and reveals the most bizarre marriage proposal. Will he win? Will Alexandra be successful in seeking out her independence in business in an age where its frowned upon?
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What an extraordinary person Mathew is. I loved the frank talk he has near the beginning of the book with Alexandra’s Dad, Charles and the “contender males” that are marked to marry Alexandra…. however I’m left wondering how Alexandra and Mathew are going to work this out.
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Halfway through this book and character dynamics get extremely interesting, without giving too much away another romance is blooming and things are not what they seem, by this time I was gripped and turning the pages and things started developing in a complicated way, I loved it, yet my thoughts were, that do I bare go on? It was getting too excited. All I can say is – oh what lives we weave with deception… and just leave it there for you to ponder.

This is a recommended read from Ellen Read and a gift from Ellen and I’m so glad she picked this book for me, as she certainly knows the books I would love to read. I want to congratulate the author on the extensive research that must have taken place in this most intriguing book. Historical Fiction at it’s best, I learnt alot, and I mean alot about the process of chocolate and how it actually gets to be chocolate, which starts off as a chocolate bean that looks like a coffee bean, now there’s a thought. I must mention the war, because this is a war time story, but in this story its touched very briefly on and although I have not delved into it with the character assessment here, I chose not too as it’s part of this wonderful story that is going to be unfolded when you choose to read it. Lastly the author has such a beautiful prose that it makes up for the dreadful killings in the battlefield. This is an awesome, wonderful, exciting, fantastic book wrapped up with a red bow!.
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Rating System
This is definitely a five star read from me ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommendation
Genres are Historical Fiction (France & England) – Romance – Historical Romance.
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Paperback, 412 pages
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Published October 31st 2016 by Penguin Books Australia (first published 2016)
The Chocolate Tin
ISBN 0143797069 (ISBN13: 9780143797067)
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Literary Awards
Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) Nominee for General Fiction (2017)

Blurb

Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.

Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?

At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.

In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.

From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.

….. and lastly what an ending!! It sent chills down my spine.

Who do we have here? We have Stephanie, 25, who was in an abused relationship for 12 months, she decided to set herself free from the torture and the situation, and take the car and not much else and drive far away to another place, hopefully to start another life. On her way to goodness knows where, but just far enough away to feel safe, she decided to have some refreshments from an off the beaton track tearooms, with a broken down sign. She meets the owner, a friendly lady, Lynette. Both get on like a house on fire, this all started in the small village of Maleny, Queensland, where there is mountain air, friendly people, friendly faces (well almost), apart from Andrew that is.
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Andrew has had problems of his own, so Lynette says. Small town, words whirl around. Andrew owns an antique place which is pretty handy as it sells second hand books, all of which are familiar to us readers. So this is quite interesting, why is Andrew acting in not a friendly manner? Where is all this leading to with Stephanie? Is she going to settle down in Maleny? and we are all thinking has Stepanie got rid of the abused boyfriend? A mystery is lurking with Lynette, I feel we are going to learn more about this mystery woman with the decrepit exterior tea rooms.
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Firstly I want to thank Ellen Read for gifting me the ARC of, When Jacarandas Bloom. Which is *Now Published*

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I loved Stephanie for her get up and go attitude, it takes some doing to fly caution to the wind and to just dive and drive right into another an unknown life. I noticed though she was being very cautious to who she was befriending.
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You know what? Ellen’s books and writing improve as the years go by. Ellen’s writing flows so well, that reading is not an effort at all. This time we are in the picturesque, idyllic villages of Maleny and Montville in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Ellen has taken a subject that can be taboo, physical and emotional abuse, a very hard subject to breach and has turned it into the most beautiful prose. Known for her mystery writing Ellen adds her style to this story as she feeds us a mystery surrounding Lynette. If you think Stephanie is something, wait till you read about Lynette!! Top notch job as always with Ellen’s skills here and sometimes I wonder how she is going to pull it off with the next one she will write, but she does and always delivering to us a polished full proof book with plots that are so tight you wouldn’t be able to prise them apart and we are always left guessing the outcome. This is definitely a gripping novella that will have you reading into the wee small hours of the morning. Lastly what an ending!! It sent chills down my spine.
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I congratulate Ellen on designing the book cover, which I thought striking with the white background. Kudos also goes to Platform House Publishing, (Becky Wright) for formatting the interior for both the paperback and the ebook. The Jacaranda Tree placed at each beginning of each chapter and breaks in the story gave it a feel that you were reading underneath it with the blooms a mass of purple and the purple carpet of petals beneath them.
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Five Star Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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Recommendation
The genres are – Womens Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, romance, feel-good, new beginnings. Also, this is definitely a Christmas time read.
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When Jacarandas Bloom
Ellen Read

Novella – Pages 132
ISBN13 9798696237466
Can be purchased from Amazon.com

Ellen Read’s website https://ellenread.com/ for more books written by the author

BLURB

WHEN JACARANDAS BLOOM

Set in the picturesque, idyllic villages of Maleny and Montville in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Stephanie Page has one chance to escape her abusive partner and she takes it. By the end of the day, she finds herself on the top of a mountain range. Is it far enough away? Can she be safe here?

She’s drawn to a rundown tearoom, although she’s not sure why. The owner, Lynette, is cheerful and friendly, and Stephanie finds herself calling in most days. Lynette never has any other customers, so this allows them time to chat.

Lynette encourages Stephanie to visit an antiques and craft place owned and run by Andrew, the son of a friend of Lynette’s. Stephanie calls in. The place is a treasure trove of wonderful antiques and books, but she finds Andrew to be rude and unfriendly. She tells Lynette so. Lynette urges her to go another day and make the effort to befriend him.

Stephanie has just run away from one bad relationship. She doesn’t want another, and she doesn’t want to befriend a rude man.

From what Lynette says one day over a Devonshire tea, it sounds as if she and Andrew have had a relationship. Then Lynette disappears. When Stephanie mentions this to Andrew, he orders her out of his antiques place.

Things are not what they seem.

Hurt and confused, Stephanie comes to the conclusion that she won’t find happiness here. Is it time to move on again?

A gripping, fast paced book that will have you glued to your chair, or bed, or maybe the swing.

I couldn’t put this down, I went overtime something shocking with my reading quota with Lost & Found, because it was so, so facinating and interesting. I totally enjoyed the banter, but not only the banter but the thoughts of both Luke and Ariana, both not letting on how they felt for each other in the beginning and I was totally memorized and totally invested in which I hoped was going to be the start of a memorable love affair. However I thought Isabella Santorini was a very dangerous woman and I totally agreed with Luke a woman he would avoid playing poker with . I certainly didn’t like the way Isabella was using 7 year old Lucia. I could see nearing the halfway point that this could get very messy and complicated. I read on, kind of not wanting it to end, then it did get very messy and complicated indeed. Something had happened, but I can’t tell you what it is, because that would spoil the story, all I can say is, I need soup!!
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I loved the style of chapters used in this book. Yes, each was numbered, but to give it more of a personal feel of that chapter, Julia has included a quote used within that chapter, it gave you more of a heads up of what was ahead. I was all in favour of this little teaser. Julia is an expert at weaving complicated issues, intriguing characters with all sorts of dynamics of personalities all in one story that will never leave you bored. Highly entertaining.
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Rating System
5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommendation
Genres are – Thriller – Suspense – Romance. A totally gripping fast paced action filled story which will have you glued to your sitting place (or lying if you read in bed).
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Lost & Found
Julia Blake

I bought this as an ebook off Amazon.com

Paperback, 230 pages

Published July 2020 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN 9781974628520

Blurb from Lost & Found

Sometimes, you have to lose everything
to find what’s important

Arianna Santorini has had a hard life. Abandoned by her husband and left alone to raise their child for six long years, she has learnt to make the best of things.

Then she meets Luke Blackwood and initially he seems perfect. Strong, kind, understanding and loving, he’s everything she could possibly want.

But Luke has a secret. He’s rich, very rich, and Arianna has a deep-seated prejudice against wealthy men, believing it turns them into men like her husband – manipulative, arrogant bullies. When she discovers the truth about Luke, her first response is to send him away and harden her heart to what might have been.

Then the worst thing that can happen to a parent, happens to Arianna. And the only person who can help her, is the one she’s vowed never to see again

Already I can smell our self saucing ginger pudding wafting through the air ………

Book Review

An Unexpected Christmas
J.M. Davies

Publishing date 11 October 2020

Blurb
Jenna Hartman is attending the movie premiere of her latest release when a breaking story emerges that destroys her image and threatens her career. Forced into hiding, and with Christmas looming, the only place to retreat is Seashell Cottage in Sandy Bay. But returning home is far from easy. It means fulfilling her mom’s final requests and facing the man who broke her heart.

Farmer by day and furniture maker by night, Ryan Cooper doesn’t have time for a serious relationship. As head of his family, he’s trying to keep the business afloat. But when Tinks—aka Jenna Hartman, the childhood sweetheart who slipped through his fingers—reappears, he can’t ignore the fiery sparks between them, even if he should.

Thrown together, they share an unexpected kiss, but is that all it is?

As they spend time together revisiting the past, will Jenna be able to forgive him? Will Ryan make her realize what’s missing in her glamorous life—a family and the chance of real love?
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My Thoughts
Firstly I would like to thank J.M. Davies for gifting me an ARC of, An Unexpected Christmas, in return for an honest review.

Is everyone ready for Christmas? If not, this novella will have you dashing towards the Christmas tree box. Already I can smell our self saucing ginger pudding wafting through the air, Chloe our cat happy as Larry ripping at the Christmas wrappings, chicken to be roasted, as well as pav and icecream for afters (somehow, we can squeeze it in) .. and afternoon naps, woken with the gurgle of the coffee machine and a mince pie. Ahhhh, bliss on a summers Christmas day, but wait a minute, although I’m talking about the Southern Hemisphere Christmas we now take our sledge to the Northern Hemisphere where snow, the smell of apple pie, cinnamon and pine cones. Read below what else you could give as a Christmas present to yourself, or someone else.

J.M. Davies is an Indie/Romance author. We see here J.M Davies writes in more of a gentle prose, a soft romantic touch. I like this approach very much. An Unexplained Christmas is part of a series, so no doubt the Cooper family will grow in numbers within each series. Now lets talk about Ryan for a minute, J.M Davies based the character of Ryan Cooper on a couple of well known actors, a mix of Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Goslin. An ordinary bloke, he’s the man who puts you and your needs before his own, he’s a shoulder to cry on, a great cook, plays guitar and takes care of his mum. What more do you need in a man?

This is a 5 star rating and if I could give it anymore, I would ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommendation
This is a great one if you are wanting to get in the mood for Christmas, the genres are – Contemporary Romance Fiction/Holiday Romance/Christmas reading
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Alexa, poor Alexa, not everything worked out for Alexa, a rondaveou at her parents house meant that she ……..

When Lady Jessie Hamilton returns home from serving as an ambulance driver in the Great War, she is hopeful there will be more opportunities for women like herself.
However, she soon faces backlash for refusing to conform to the traditional roles expected of her, and when her uncle Theo, a powerful politician, resumes his vendetta against Jessie, for her earlier activities as a suffragette, she knows she must take a stand. But fighting Uncle Theo and his dirty tactics could cost her everything- including the man she loves.

Meanwhile, Alexa believes that marriage to handsome Lord Stephen de Courcy, a wealthy heir, will propel her into the kind of life she’s always dreamed of- the life of high Society. Too late, she realises they have little in common, and she must choose between causing a scandal or remaining in an unfulfilling marriage.

And then there is Adeline, who is struggling to come to terms with the fact her children are growing up. For a woman who has always found meaning in being a mother, letting go is difficult. And when tragedy strikes, she realises she must find an inner strength she never knew she had, or allow herself to be forever consumed by grief.
Out of the dark days of the First World War, three women must find the courage to forge new lives for themselves, as they navigate the changing and turbulent times of the 20th Century. 

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My thoughts
Firstly I won this book as a giveaway on Instagram by @indie_women-writer on the 4 April 2020.

I just picked out two characters that seemed really interesting to me.

Lady Jessie Hamilton really did have her hands full. The hardship Jessie had at coaxing women, mainly housewives that they are actual people and not just a machine that laid tables, cooked and produced babies, to stand up for themselves and vote. Not to mention her Uncle Theo who not only didn’t agree with the idea, but seeked sabotage to try and ruin anything that Jessie had planned. This book shows at what length she had to go through to get her point across, which wasn’t an easy feat. I was extremely interested and fascinated that this was typical of what happened just after the war (WW1) but alot more was instore for Jessie that did not include politics and a very valuable lesson was learnt.

Alexa, poor Alexa, not everything worked out for Alexa, a rondaveou at her parents house meant that she had to marry Lord Stephen de Courcy. She felt there was nothing in common with her husband. I guess this was typical of alot of marriages at this time, just get on with it, happy or not, “marriage is marriage” is what Lord Stephen de Courcy said. It made me think how alot of marriages must have been in those days. Well, Alexa wasn’t going to have “one of those marriages” a flight of her own, a caterpillar that was turning into a butterfly, she found her footing and she flew. It was very courageous what she did and I admire her no end.

I congratulate the author, there must have been quite alot of research plowed into this book, a book of heart break, joy, turbulence, love, personal discoveries and knowledgeable facts.
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This is a well worth reading, which I’m giving with no hesitation 5 stars.

This will suit any Historical Fiction lovers. Any one interested interested in what happened after WW1? because this certainly shows the break through of Women Rights and Independence. Would also suit anyone interested in England, France, Rome, plus a flavour of Italian creeps into this book.
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This book reminded me of ailments of John Buchans, The Thirty-Nine Steps, with a chase-on-chase attitude.

Allison is newly seperated and living alone, she has the marital house for the time being. Felix, their son, lives with his Dad, Tony. Both parents have agreed on shared care. Allison has an obsession, she spies on her ex hubby, Tony, trying to find out who replaced her. Both Felix and Tony are keeping quiet and not saying a word. Allison befriends Luke, her mind also flip flops to Tony.
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Luke has just shifted into a new neighbourhood. Widowed with a 4 year old daughter called Gracie, who has just started chemotherapy. Allison is the teacher at the school Gracie has enrolled at. Gracie needs a new treatment which can only be offered in Chicago, America, which Luke can’t afford and a suggestion of charitable fund raising has not only Allison helping, but the whole community.
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I really enjoyed this book so much, that I read more than I normally do just to find out what was happening. So many twists and turns and turns and turns, that I felt I was lead through a rabbit hole. This book reminded me of ailments of John Buchans, The Thirty-Nine Steps, with a chase-on-chase attitude.

I was eager to know how this fund raising was going to happen, it’s alot of money to find and to what cost. Will Gracie get to Chicago? Will Luke like the idea of Allison meddling? Will Luke feel he is in debt to Allison for helping out so much? And we can’t forget Tony and his mystery woman that hasn’t got a name. Does Allison eventually find out who she is … and what happends when she does?
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Rating this ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
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Recommendation – now published
The Good Teacher by Petronella McGovern
Paperback – 422 pages – ISBN 978 1 76087 529 9
A$29.99 NZ$32.99
Genre – Fiction – Action and adventure – mystery

I want to say thank Allen & Unwin (NZ), for gifting me a copy of this book, an ARC copy, as a giveaway off Instagram.
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You know how it is when you are like 17 and you go into a club? Well …..

My Thoughts

You know how it is when you are like 17 and you go into a club? Well I don’t, I wasn’t that kind of a girl, but here I am, birthed again and following Kaylee, the first footsteps into a so called (air quotes – secret-club-of-some-kind). On entering, her eyes fall upon this dishy guy called, Vincent. Vincent according to Kaylees cousin Lily, is one of those bad boys…. but how bad? As we hit a Twlight Zone where Vincent teaches techniques to ground Kaylees energy, are we left thinking is Vincent a healer or a taker? I read on with anticipation, but not anxiety to find out. A war is about to take place, but who is it against? Kaylee, friends and relatives practise their moves with alarming effects. Who will win, who will die?
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At this point I want to thank Kirsten Temple for giving me an ARC of Paired in exchange of an honest review. The ebook is available now to read.

Excerpt I Loved
Everything on Earth is at a certain point within the cycle of life and death, starting and ending with the energy source that most call Mother Nature. For example, a seed uses Mother Nature’s energy to grow into a plant, but eventually it will die, decompose, and become nourishment for the next plant.
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Quote I Loved
You’re a positive air, and Lily is a negative fire.
You, Lily, Tyler and I make up four of the current active eight.
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Kristen, although from Australia writes this book for the American reader. This is aimed at the YAs but certainly anyone who likes other worldly stories, and battle scenes are certainly going to like this one. The battle scenes towards the end of the book were very intriguing and I had to read at a pace, to know what was going to happen and how its going to end. Just hear me out now, make sure if you are picking up this book, to allow yourself enough time to finish the last three chapters, because this is where all the action takes place.

This certainly is an extraordinary story, I’ve never read anything like it before.
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Rating System
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars

Recommendation
Paired by Kristen Temple
Ebook
Genre – YA – Fantasy – Witchy
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Book Review/Book Recommendation. Light Of Hope by C.N. Jannian

Book Review/Book Recommendation
Light Of Hope
C.N. Jannian

Genre – Fiction – YA – Healing – Life Lessons.

My thoughts
Have you ever come across a book, that sends you into a deep sense of gratitude and blissfulness? This is what Light Of Hope did for me. Now this was a personal pick of mine, it was the fact that I have followed the author on Instagram for a few months now, that made me decide to read this. Bought 15 April 2020 off Amazon.com. Ebook – Approx 115 pages.

The author, C.N. Jannian writes for the YAs, but let’s stop right there for a moment, this doesn’t necessarily mean it was pitched solely for the YAs. The author chose very carefully not to use too many descriptive and complicated words, her writing very smooth, therapeutic, hypnotic to the point where you can feel very relaxed, so on that conclusion anyone who enjoys a light easy to read book should pick this up.

I knew as soon as I read that Hope had a twin sister called Faith, that this was going to be a brilliant story. I smiled.

So, this is a story about Hope losing her way. Feeling weak, it was up to Faith, the stronger sister to watch over her. In time Hope had to go to a teacher/healer in a group setting within a nature setting, where they all lived in a community, all women, to learn about the lessons of life, to have the courage to carry through all that she learnt, so that when the time came to go back to her family, she could apply everything she had learnt. Oh yes, Hope was tested alright and it all wasn’t plain sailing on her journey back home. So did Hope end up in one piece? Did she even get home? and how on earth was she going to shine her own light in a house that is so dark?
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Excerpt I enjoyed
It was a slow process of staying in that moment and holding love for whatever kept her grounded in her light. Love seemed to be a huge piece of this process. When she went out with joy in her heart, that helped.

Quote I Enjoyed
The group came upon the babbling brook where they stopped and took a break. Everyone sat down. They had some kind of container that held a special tea and some nuts.
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Rating System ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
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Recommendation
Yes, recommended definately for the YAs, but if you are wanting a more simple, down to earth, light easy story then definately pick this one up. For people out there that like life lessons in their stories.

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Book Review/Book Recommendation Pride and Progress Rosemary Gemmell

Book Review/Book Recommendation
Pride and Progress
Rosemary Gemmell

Ebook – Novella (approx 95 pages)

Genre – Victorian Romantic

My thoughts
Pride and Progress made me feel at home with the cups of tea passed around. Hats, gloves and petticoats.
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…. so this is how it goes….. Miss Emily Morton is not a fan of trains, infact she doesn’t want them near the village to spoil the atmosphere that they already have. After strolling on a lovely Spring day, Emily stumbled on a stone and rolled down the hill. Plonked right by the shoes of Arthur Muir, resident of the station master’s cottage, the enemy with “the modern contraption” So how does this pan out? Do we see love smouldering like the coals, ready to ignite? Or is it puffed away never to be seen in the light of day.
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We then see the professional side of Miss Emily Morton, she is a teacher and we read snippets of information about how she deals with the kids in the class room. I was very amused by Sam Cartwright, who wanted to destroy the whole entire map by poking it.
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I loved the trip to the seaside, there is nothing more rewarding then finding shells on a beach, however I was most surprised that there was a mystery to be had when exiting the beach, one will have to read to find out what happends next.
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Quotes I Enjoyed
Now that spring had arrived, Emily could not wait to resume her longer walks in the countryside. It was as much for the pleasure of striding out by herself: a time of contemplation as well as exercise.
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From her own interest in flowers and knowledge of some of their meanings, she reflected that the daisy was usually a symbol of innocence and purity.
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Rating System ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 stars
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Recommendation
If you are interested in the Jane Austen era, 1870s, Victorian romance, Victorian times, beaches, trains and novellas, then this one is for you.

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Book Review/Book Recommendation Formation – Ryan Leigh Dostie

Book Review/Book Recommendation
Formation
Author – Ryan Leigh Dostie

Hardback – 358 pages
Genre – memoir

TRIGGER WARNING – Rape issues and self harm.

My thoughts
The first chapter did it for me, like Ryan Dostie, the drink that lured her to her bed, lured me into reading more… I wanted more of this. You know, as I grew to know more about “what really goes on in an army behind closed doors” that blaze feel of admiration for men in the army I have, changed. Yes, it burst my bubble, yes, it left me broken, yes it has changed me for ever, completely and utterly. Here is a woman, yes a woman …. female, who wanted to do her own thing, who gets violated and raped. It left me sad, it left me annoyed.
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Have you ever heard the words “guilty until proven innocent”? …. because for me, as the story moves towards the “interrogation” part, this is what it felt like. The army, as the author describes it, or rather the men, are female haters, probably because the author is an invasion into their society where only men dare tread, they feel threatened, so their coward way out is to taunt, tease and humiliate.

I wouldn’t say I particularly “liked” this book, as it opens a gash, a wound, the truth, of what can and has happened and probably has happened in other male dominated places with woman in it.

As I read along more, it struck me, that really the author was a total emotional wreck and really needed counselling, but due to the nature of her case, if she asked for it, I would very much doubt she would have got it.

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Quote I enjoyed
Let me explain here, I didn’t really enjoy it, but, I couldn’t believe I read it!
“Do you really want to ruin this guy’s life”

I mean, come on!! Seriously? I gaped with my mouth wide open when I read this.

….. and gruelling and grotesque in places.
“When I put my hand on his jaw, you know, to open it, it just … came off in my hand.”

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Well that was the beginning of the memoir, we readers then fall out of line and discover the first 11 years of the authors life, which includes some sort of religious cult (my eyes roll up to the celing and I groan)…. and her life leading onto how she managed to get into the army in the first place.

The author goes on to explain how she ended up in the army in the first place, what her solider mates were like and describes certain combat scenarios with us ….. I thought though that the doctor gave good advice saying not to go drinking for 9 months when she was having medical issues, but I thought it was quite silly of her not to take the advice …. it was obvious to me then, that alcohol was going to become the enemy of war.

The author puts herself on the line (no pun intended) to tell a story that is true, this book SHOULD BE used as a documentary series. No, you won’t get any hot lips Houlihan here, this ones more of a tough cookie to crack open, although during her years she lacked confidence, but I would say thats more to do with not being wise, even the author admits she was naive.

This, and many more memoirs Ive read before, have the same purpose, to reveal to anyone interested that life is not full of a bed of roses, there are thorns, but without thorns, where would we be? Thorns, although may break us, they also makes us too.

This is definitely not an airy fairy book, oh no, not a chance, not pretty, pretty, but gritty gritty, not like icecream and waves on a beach, but more like a gritty sand on a rough sea…. it may even give you sea sickness, or if that sea is icy cold, like ice cream … brain freeze 😣 .

Note To Oneself – strong, obscene language applies (R18).

This was a DNF – Stopped at Chapter – rage against the machine – p229.
Why? I know I don’t have to explain myself, but this was too much out of my comfort zone to handle, it’s an extremely powerful book, too much for me to handle.

Rating System
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5 star rating.

Recommendation
Pick this book up if you are into memoirs, especially if you are interested in the army, or used to be in the army, or even if you are writing about the army. A good one if you are wanting combat battle scenes, as you wont be disappointed, they are ugly!

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