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Going on Holidays

Hubby and I are off to New Zealand for July and I have given myself permission to not blog any reviews for the entire time. I will post a list of my reading activities at the end of July and resume blogging again in August.

See you when we get back!

June Reading Wrap Up

June Reading Wrap Up

Welcome to my June reading wrap-up:

Total of Books Read in June was: 14

Of these: 2 were a Library Books, 7 were E-books and 5 were from my physical TBR pile

Then: I discovered 6 ‘new for me’ authors (i.e. the first time I have read their work).

And: 6 of the books read were written by Australian authors.

Best Book of the month:

Sadly this month I had no ‘A’ reads –but had lots of really good reads! I had so many that it is hard to pin down just one, so I am not going to have a book of the month – any one of my ‘B’ reads are worthy of being read and are highly recommended.

Least Favourite Book(s):

I say ‘least favourite’ because my lowest ‘score’ still means it is very readable, but for one reason or another I found it a bit of struggle to stay focused and finish. I don’t have one of these every month – but this month I really struggled with THE WORD GHOST by Christine Paice.

General Summary:

Being an eclectic reader I read many different genres. This month the genre covered were Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance, paranormal, Contemporary Fiction, Historical and a Family Saga. Some of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

My Australian authors for June were 4 of the new-for-me authors Christine Paice, Téa Cooper, Kristina Olsson and J.H. Fletcher, as well as Kate Forsyth and Felicity Pulman. Just to clarify an Australian author is defined by me as either an Australian born author no matter where they live and write in the world now, or an author who currently lives and writes in Australia even though they June have been born elsewhere.

Finally, the 6 ‘new-for-me’ authors this month were my Aussie authors Christine Paice, Téa Cooper, Kristina Olsson and J.H. Fletcher, along with H.L. Stephens, Gillian Murray Kendall and Pia Padukone. I would happily read all of these authors again.

Interesting book related links that I’ve come across this month:

Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner talks about the pressure of borrowing (and lending) books:

http://www.perpetualpageturner.com/2014/05/oh-the-pressure.html

For those of you who are in the northern hemisphere and looking for beach reads – this is what you would have been recommended to read in 1914. Those of us in the southern hemisphere who are shivering through winter – maybe make a note for when summer arrives:

http://mentalfloss.com/article/57385/6-beach-reads-100-years-ago

The List

So let’s get onto what this post is about – here is the list of books that I read during June:

A = Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down

None this month

B = Really Good Read

The Case of Jack the Nipper by H.L. Stephens – Mystery

Heartless by Gail Carriger – Paranormal

Dancing on knives by Kate Forsyth – Mystery

Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson – Non-Fiction

The Garden of Darkness by Gillian Murray Kendall – YA Dystopian

A Ring through Time by Felicity Pulman – YA Historical

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger – YA Mystery

The Ghoul Next door by Victoria Laurie – Paranormal Mystery

The Hero by Robyn Carr – Romance

C = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable

An Unlikely Witch by Debora Geary – Paranormal

Dust of the Land by J.H. Fletcher – Family Saga

Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone – Contemporary

Lily’s Leap by Téa Cooper – Historical Romance

D = Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish

The Word Ghost by Christine Paice – YA Paranormal

So onward to July – A month of travelling the South Island of New Zealand – think red wine, open fires and lots of reading. Woo Hoo! I wonder what book goodies I will discover this in July?

Title: Lily’s Leap

Author: Téa Cooper

Genre: Historical Romance

Opening line: ‘…Lilibeth Dungarven’s cry of pure pleasure soared skywards as the massive black stallion rose to clear the fallen tree, sending the horrors of the last four years scuttling into the dirt of the ancient land…’

Blurb: – Born into the rough, but privileged society of the Australian colonial landowners, Lilibeth Dungarven finds herself married, widowed, and, much to her distress, back under her father’s thumb, all before her twenty-first birthday. Determined not to forgo her dream of breeding the perfect racehorse, Lilibeth ignores propriety and sets out to restore the family’s flagging fortunes. When Captain Tom and his mismatched band of bushrangers stumble across a mob of the best horses they’ve ever seen, and the daughter of the famed Dungarven horse stud, they know their fortunes have changed. Their catch is worth a king’s ransom. All they have to do is hold her for seven days. How hard can it be to control the pampered daughter of a colonial upstart?

My thoughts: LILY’S LEAP is a novelette of about 95 pages and I picked it for two reasons; firstly, my granddaughter’s name is Lily, and secondly, it is set in my old stomping ground of Hunter Valley. Author Téa Cooper didn’t let me down, her vivid descriptions bringing the Wollombi region and down the old road to Sydney alive. I have 4 wheel driven down part of the old road and I could just close my eyes and imagine them all galloping down it. The bulk of the action part of story spans around a couple of days, the falling in love and sorting out Lily’s life – then there is a wee while of a wait to see the outcome of Tom, which was realistic because if things had happened instantly with Tom I would have been disappointed. There is quite a bit of horse action, and the romance is sweet with a realistic amount of romantic tension without the in your face description. Then there are the horses – a lot of riding and horse racing stuff. Not being a horsey person I was a bit worried that I would be bored, but no there were, again, beautifully described horse action without boring me to tears with little details that I didn’t need to know – very well balanced. And did Lily leap? Too right she did – and it was a magnificent scene!! This was my first Téa Cooper story, and I will be reading more.

For more about the author – Click Here

C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Escape Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Title: The Hero

Author: Robyn Carr

Genre: Romance

Opening line: ‘…Devon McAllister walked down a tree-lined road, not really sure where she was but certain that she was far away from the family compound…’

Blurb: – In a moment of desperation, Devon McAllister takes her daughter and flees a place where they should have been safe and secure. She has no idea what is around the next bend, but she is pretty certain it can’t be worse than what they’ve left behind. Her plan is to escape to somewhere she can be invisible. Instead, an unexpected offer of assistance leads her to Thunder Point, a tiny Oregon town with a willingness to help someone in need. As the widowed father of a vulnerable young boy, Spencer Lawson knows something about needing friendship. But he’s not looking for anything else. Instead, he’s thrown his energy into his new role as Thunder Point’s high school football coach. Tough and demanding to his team, off the field he’s gentle and kind…just the kind of man who could heal Devon’s wounded heart. Devon thought she wanted to hide from the world. But in Thunder Point, you find bravery where you least expect it…and sometimes, you find a hero

My thoughts: THE HERO is the third book in the ‘Thunder Point’ series and once again I was swept into the community. The people who live at Thunder Point are just ordinary everyday people with problems just like you and me. They all smile and say g’day, and they all know each other’s business, but when there’s trouble they all roll up their sleeves and join in to help. Spencer has just moved her after the death of his wife from cancer; he is the new football coach. He and his son are looking for a fresh start after all the trauma of the past few years. Devon and her young daughter have fled from a commune called ‘The Fellowship’ run by the increasingly obsessive and manipulative Jacob who has bedded all the women and is the father to all of the children and is on the run from the government. She is essentially a ‘sister-wife’ complete with one long braid and dowdy clothing. Devon escapes with the assistance of one of the other women. With the help of the gruff and silent Rawley, an old Vietnam veteran, she finds a new home, a new job and a fresh start; she also meets Spencer. Trouble is the fellowship is not done with her and when lives are on the line a Hero steps forward to help – well a few of them really but the one she loves is the least likely hero. I loved how during the story Devon grew as a character from a woman who jumps at shadows and is scared of being found, to a confident kick-arse amazon who fights alongside the men at the showdown. The support acts are good to – some of the characters that we have met in the previous books are back and we can see what they are up to but thankfully THE HERO is about just one set of love struck people.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Harlequin (Australia) and the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: The Ghoul Next Door

Author: Victoria Laurie

Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Opening line: ‘…Being a psychic medium definitely has its downers…’

Blurb: – On a well-deserved hiatus from the ghoulish grind of their TV show, Ghoul Getters, psychic medium M. J. Holliday, her boyfriend, Heath, and her best friend, Gilley, are back home in Boston. But there’s no rest for the weary ghost busters. M. J.’s ex comes to her for help—his fiancée’s brother Luke seems haunted by a sinister spirit. The crew sets up surveillance cameras to watch for the possessive poltergeist while Luke is sleeping. But when he goes outside in the middle of the night and returns hours later covered in blood, they are all very concerned—especially when the news reports the murder of a young woman in the neighbourhood. Now M. J., Heath, and Gilley must remain self-possessed as they try to stop a wicked ghost whose behaviour is anything but neighbourly

My thoughts: I really love this series – it is great for people who want a little terror in their lives without drowning in too much horror. So summed up, its scary with laughs. MJ and Heath have returned home for a rest when her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée ask for help with a possessed relative, Luke. The first shock is that her ex had a fiancée; the second shock is that it appears that Luke slaughters a woman while they are watching on the surveillance cameras. They see Luke leave but can’t get there quick enough to stop him from heading out into the night. This ghost is really, really creepy – he just popped in and took possession in a split second, very disconcerting if you are the possessee and you regain control of your body to find you’re charged with murder. Investigation by MJ, Heath and Gilley reveal that there is a connection to the apartment that Luke rents and the murders of a few girls of the past 25 to 30 years. The link has to be discovered and the conduit for the spook closed down before any more deaths occur.

THE GHOUL NEXT DOOR is a rollicking adventure with mystery, ghosts, romance and humour all blended together with a cast of well-loved realistic characters, some lovely evil characters (and not talking the ghost here) and lots of twists and turns to the plot. I can’t wait for the next one.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

Title: Where Earth Meets Water

Author: Pia Padukone

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Opening line: ‘…From the first morning that Karom awakens in Gita’s grandmother’s house, he can tell that their time in Delhi is going to be different from the rest of their trip…’

Blurb: – Karom Seth should have been in the Twin Towers on the morning of 9/11, and on the Indian shores in 2004, when the tsunami swept his entire family into the ocean. Whether it’s a curse or a blessing, Karom can’t be sure, but his absence from these disasters has left him with crushing guilt—and a belief that fate has singled him out for invincibility. Karom’s affliction consumes everyone around him, from his best friend, Lloyd, to his girlfriend, Gita, who hopes that a trip to India will help him find peace. It is in Delhi that he meets Gita’s grandmother, Kamini—a quirky but wise woman with secrets of her own. At first Karom dismisses Kamini, but little does he realize that she will ultimately lead him to the clarity he’s been looking for.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the concept of WHERE EARTH MEETS WATER, Karom has avoided death three times in his life, as a child in the Bhopal Gas disaster in India in 1984, the Twin Towers on 9/11 in the USA and the South East Asian tsunami of 2004. He thinks he is invincible and constantly pushes the safety boundaries to test fate, like stepping out in the traffic to catch a taxi or standing on the very edge of the station platform as the train comes in, and it drives his girlfriend and best mate mad. It’s all very well them telling Karom to move on, he just doesn’t know if he’s got a future, so just stagnates in his work and life. The plot of WHERE EARTH MEETS WATER leads up to the trigger that turns Karom around. Set in both India and the USA, narrated by 4 different characters and in multiple time frames the story bounces around in time, place and narrator until often you lose track and have to flick back to see if you’ve missed something. It just wasn’t organised that well which is a real pity because this could have been a real gem of a story. I loved the mix of cultures, I adored Kamini and also Gita once her turn came. In fact the two women were wonderfully strong characters and took over the story. I loved their roles more so than Lloyd’s, I really wasn’t sure of his fit and really didn’t get the whole camping trip and hallucinations bit. Ultimately the way the story was told, spoiled the whole experience for me which is a shame as it could have been excellent. As it was WHERE EARTH MEETS WATER was very thought provoking because life is a coincidence and sometimes if we stand in a different spot – or drive down a slightly different road than usual life can change for the better, or the worse.

For more about the author – Click Here

C – Above average. Was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

With thanks to Harlequin (Australia) and the author for my copy to read and review

Title: Etiquette and Espionage

Author: Gail Carriger

Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery

Opening lines: ‘…Sophronia intended to pull the dumbwaiter up from the kitchen to outside the front parlour on the ground floor, where Mrs Barnaclegoose was taking tea …’

Blurb: – It’s one thing to learn to curtsy properly. It’s quite another to learn to curtsy and throw a knife at the same time. Welcome to Finishing School. Fourteen-year-old Sophronia is a great trial to her poor mother as she is more interested in dismantling clocks and climbing trees than proper manners. Mrs Temminnick is desperate for her daughter to become a proper lady. So she enrols Sophronia in Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality. It doesn’t take Sophronia very long to realise that the school is not quite what her mother thought. At Mademoiselle Geraldine’s, young ladies learn the fine arts of dance, dress, and etiquette, but they also learn to carry out assassins, diversions, and other espionage tricks – in the most ladylike ways, of course. Sophronia and her new friends are in for a rousing first year’s education.

My thoughts: ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE is the first book of the ‘finishing school’ series. Aimed at a YA audience it is set prior to the ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series in Victorian times; paranormal steampunk Victorian that is, complete with robot servants, mechanical devices, dirigibles, vampires and werewolves. Sophronia doesn’t have a problem with the espionage training, it is the ladylike attributes she has problems with and unfortunately she has to well in both to pass.

‘…”But I have advanced eyelash fluttering to practice, and a mathematics problem concerning how to order strychnine and a lamb dinner on a limited budget, and three chapters on court etiquette to read, and my handkerchief to starch, and the quadrille to memorize!”

“No one said learning etiquette and espionage would be easy, my dear.”…’

Not one to stand on ceremony Sophronia soon has friend from all echelons of society – from the sooties in the engine room of the school to a real life Lady – who has werewolf problems back home in Scotland. She also makes an enemy, one who has a secret to hide and Sophronia means to find it. The intrigue starts on the way to the school, as the woman who recruited her turns out to be a student (the previously mentioned enemy with a secret) and they are attacked by Skywaymen in dirigibles. After a brief battle they make it safely to the school which turns out to be not a building but a huge dirigible floating above fog-enshrouded moors with vampires and werewolves both on staff. Right now the school is under constant threat from the marauding Skywaymen who are looking for a stolen prototype of communication device, which our enemy student knows all about but refuses to reveal its location. Sophronia manages to be always in the right place at the right time and picks up all sorts of leads to the prototype’s whereabouts, soon she and her roommate Dimity, with lots of help from all sorts of characters, are on their way to grab it before it falls into the wrong hands. I really enjoyed this rollicking adventure, the great characters and of course Bumbersnoot – because everyone needs a Bumbersnoot in their life (to know what he is – you’ll have to read the book). ETIQUETTE AND ESPIONAGE is aimed at a younger audience than ‘Parasol Protectorate’ and is a light and easy read with lots of adventure and laughs. Gail Carriger is a very imaginative writer and the joy of that is that I still have a few of her books to catch up on – and a whole new series starting later this year.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

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