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Clade by James Bradly

Title: Clade

Author: James Bradly

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian

Opens: As Adam steps outside the cold strikes him like a physical thing, the shock still startling after all these weeks

My Thoughts: I have to confess I had never heard of the book CLADE or its author James Bradly until it was discussed on the Sunday Book club on ABC recently. CLADE is an unusual book in that it looks the scenario of the possible effects of climate change and how it impacts on the world through the eyes of three generations of one family, the Leith family, and some characters who come into contact with them. Bradley’s scenario is frightingly plausible.

Starting around 2016 the story moves through in a series of 10 narratives (or chapters) that are not linked in any real way except that a member of the family appears in it. There can be years between chapters before Bradley decides to pop back into the story and give the reader a snapshot of where the family, and the world, is at now.

CLADE opens with Dr Adam Leith and his artist wife Ellie trying to conceive a child – he is a scientist and is down in the Antarctica and she is in Sydney waiting to hear if this time the IVF process has been successful. He hears the ice beneath him creaking and groaning and understands this is the ice loosening up as the earth warms up. He worries about whether they should bring a child into the world. And the book continues each chapter jumping through history and gives a snapshot of what the family is doing against the background of a rapidly escalating global meltdown. The Earth is dying. Changing weather patterns result in hurricanes hitting Europe and Monsoons failing. Fish and birds start dying, massive floods kill thousands and a flu like virus kills millions. The temperatures steadily rise, civil unrest increases and world economies fall. Yet the day to day activity of the characters remain the same, they just get on with living as the earth throws yet another challenge at them. The reader gets to see snapshots of events through Adam and Ellie, their daughter, their grandson, a Chinese teenager Adam sort of adopts and a refugee from Bangladesh that Ellie connects with. This makes the story very personal, as the reader experiences the events as they affect the characters making it all very, very believable.

On the whole I liked the way the story progressed as a series of snapshots as the world deteriorated. I have to confess that sometimes it took me a while to get the connection to the family and it left me slightly adrift until I did, but as soon as I clicked I was off again. Was left a bit bewildered over the ‘Sim’ section and still not sure I have fully got that part. Overall though despite the steady decline in the conditions of the earth there is hope at the end of CLADE – it’s a bit out there – but why not, nothing else was working to stop the planet’s deterioration. In the end CLADE is not all doom and gloom – although there is a lot of it, it is more a story about how the human race is determined to look for solutions, adapt and fight to live – it is life but not as we know it.

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.

Burnt by Karly Lane

Title: Burnt

Author: Karly Lane

Genre: Romantic suspense

Opens: Screams, lights, blood and the smell of the entire world burning were the last things Seb Taylor remembered as darkness swam before his eyes and he fell into an endless pit of despair

Blurb: Seb Taylor and Rebecca Whiteman were high school sweethearts dreaming of a future together, when one terrible event shattered their lives. Eighteen years after the tragedy Rebecca, now a single newly divorced mum, has brought her children back to the town she left behind. Seb, now an elite SAS soldier in the Australian Army, has also returned home after being badly injured in the Afghanistan, he has never forgotten that night, or his sweetheart.

My Thoughts: BURNT is the first Karly Lane book I have read – and I am so glad there are more to read because I loved this one! It has been eighteen years since the events in the prologue shattered the lives of many families in this small country town in NSW, and although we aren’t initially told what has happened we certainly know it has made a big impact on both Rebecca and Seb.

Rebecca is a nurse at the local hospital and has moved back to be near her parents so that she has someone to care for her girls while she is on night shifts. She also volunteers at ta a nearby women’s shelter – patching up battered women who are trying to start a new life. While her ex-husband didn’t physically abuse her she was mentally abused – so can relate to her patients. Having a little knowledge in this area – the scenes in the shelter were very realistic. She bumps into Seb when he comes into the hospital to have his dressings changed and the two realise that their feelings haven’t gone away.

What follows is a lovely story of two lovers reuniting and deciding if they have a future. But with Rebecca getting heavy breathing calls, a slashed tent when they go camping and a stranger talking to her children from a car – Seb realises Rebecca is in trouble – even though Rebecca doesn’t take it seriously. But who is stalking her and why? Seb want’s to help – but he is too emotionally scarred to take a chance on love. He can face a battlefield of enemy – but one tiny lady scares him silly.

BURNT has it all – drama, romance and humour. With lots of twists and turns, some great support characters and back stories, and a climax that will have you on the edge of your seat,

I heartily recommend this book. And will certainly be looking up her previous ones.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Harlequin MIRA Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

Title: The Chocolate Promise

Author: Josephine Moon

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Opens: It was Thursday, Holy Thursday to be exact – the day before the four-day Easter weekend, which also included the Evendale garden expo on Saturday – and the Chocolate Apothecary was a bubbling pot of activity…

Blurb: Christmas Livingstone has made up 10 rules for happiness including items such as nurturing her senses every day, doing what she loves, and sharing joy with others. However as the book opens we learn her most important rule for happiness is her number 10 rule – ‘Absolutely no romantic relationships’.

My Thoughts: Last year I read Josephine Moon’s debut novel The Tea Chest and I really, really enjoyed it – THE CHOCOLATE PROMISE is even better – I loved it

Christmas left the hectic life of a PR in Sydney and a broken heart and has moved to Tasmania. What prompted this move is not revealed at the start of the story but the past has been locked away where it can’t hurt anymore and now she has a new life making beautiful gourmet chocolate treats in her old-fashioned shop ‘The Chocolate Apothecary’. In her spare time she acts as a fairy godmother by trying to help people who need it, such as a new washing machine for a stay at home mum with little money – and assist a gentleman to propose to the one he loves.

Life is good for Christmas then a few events shatter her carefully created equilibrium. Firstly her best friend enters her into a competition to win a week-long scholarship course with a world-renowned French chocolatier IN FRANCE!! And she discovers she has won it. Almost the very same day a good-looking botanist, Lincoln, turns up in her shop to buy chocolates for his grandmother and sets Christmas’s heart pounding – as well as his. Turns out he home between jobs and is writing a book on cacao trees. His publisher thinks it may possibly be a bit dry in tone aka boring, and advises him to find a co-writer whose passion is chocolate. Well it just has to be Christmas – her passion for chocolate is extreme – her knowledge of processes not botanical surpasses just peeling off the paper and biting in. Christmas is certain there is healing property in chocolate – especially if it’s mixed with essential oils and herbs. Both Lincoln and Christmas have hurt in their past – neither is looking for a relationship – but the power of chocolate works in mysterious ways and it takes a trip half way around the world before the two realise what’s right in front of them.

I spent the Easter break reading this and munching dark chocolate Easter eggs and a glass, or two, of sweet fortified Tokay. Well written, well researched and with believable characters – although some were certainly oddballs. THE CHOCOLATE PROMISE has humour, sadness, love and misunderstandings. Then there are well-meaning friends and family determined to help the relationship along, there is also an abandoned mutt with an important part to play. I immersed myself in THE CHOCOLATE PROMISE and can’t wait for her next one.

In a recent blog post author Josephine Moon described her books like this:

“…I like to think of my books as being like a good chocolate brownie–rich, comforting, uplifting, but with a few chunky nuts to chew on…”

And that simple statement fits both of her books perfectly.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99.

Title: Not Quite Nice

Author: Celia Imrie

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Opens: The small town of Bellevue-Sur-Mer sparkled like a diamond on the French Mediterranean Coast…

Blurb: Theresa is desperate for a change. Forced into early retirement, fed up with babysitting her bossy daughter’s obnoxious children, she sells her Highgate house and moves to the picture-perfect town of Bellevue-sur-Mer, just outside Nice. With its beautiful villas, its bustling cafes and shimmering sea, the village sparkles like a diamond on the French Mediterranean coast. Theresa soon discovers a close-knit set of expats and settles to the gentle rhythm of seaside life as she embraces her new-found friendships and freedom. However, life is never quite as simple as it seems and as skeletons start to fall out of several closets, Theresa begins to wonder if life on the French Riviera is not quite as nice as it first appeared.

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this light fluffy read – and can relate to feeling used and abused by a demanding selfish grown-up child who thinks that everything hubby and I worked hard for has to be handed to her on a platter. Sixty-year-old Theresa has one such child and when she is laid off from her job the thought of being an unpaid navvy for her daughter for her remaining years fills her with horror. So on impulse she buys a small house in the fictional town of Bellevue-sur-Mer just outside Nice in the south of France. So Theresa now lives not quite in the city of Nice and events that occur are not quite nice either – so I really appreciated the very clever title punning on the two meanings of ‘nice’..

Of course life is not all roses in her new home – starting with a naked man jumping out of a hotel window into her back yard and his insanely jealous, mega rich, wife calling her whore in a strident voice the next day. But she soon makes friends with the local ex-pats. For a small community of friends there are a lot of secrets and then when you add to the mix theft, kidnapping and assault and you have a very exciting read. Despite her naked introduction to her new circle of friends, Therese starts to make a life – she starts to learn French, sets up a cooking school to earn a bit of money and even finds herself attracted to a very nice man.

This is Celia Imrie’s first fictional book – and she has done very well by allowing humour to take over the story at times without it descending into silliness. The lightness balances nicely with the more drama ridden topics of infidelity, sex-changes, homosexuality, drug use and criminal activity. I was often laughing out loud at some of the events – gasping at some more meatier ones and then getting angry at the behaviour of a plethora of offspring that come to get what they can out of their various parents – or think they have the right to be rude to a parent who stands firm against them. The overall message is – it is your life, your needs and your choice. Do not let your children emotionally bully you. Learn to say no when it doesn’t suit you to do what they want.

Beautifully descriptive writing the small Mediterranean town came alive for me on the pages – old buildings, narrow streets steep steps, brightly coloured flowers everywhere and lovely cafes to enjoy the sparkling sea from. I was hooked from page one and certainly hope this will not be her last book.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99.

Title: The Last Place

Author: Michael Adams

Genre: YA Dystopian Thriller

Opens: That’s me sprawled dead in the street, beneath the brown sky, amid dry bodies and dusty cars…

Blurb: Danby is desperately fighting to save the last of humanity but with Jack’s sinister influence more powerful than ever, Danby’s one hope for freeing his minions – and her little brother – is unlikely to happen. The only option now for the few survivors not under Jack’s control is to escape. But to do this Danby has to confront a danger much closer to home as she finds that she may have risked her own sanity in her ferocious battle to live. Embracing a brutal warrior code might save Danby’s life, but the price is high. Danby must save who she can, but before there is any chance for safety there are soldiers, marauders and toxic bushfires all closing in, is there any hope at all?

My Thoughts: THE LAST PLACE is the final book in the edge of your seat series set after the end of the world as we know it. The main character, Danby, has finally turned feral – kill or be killed is how she is living – and there is a lot of killing. There is absolutely no hope – the cavalry is not going to arrive

“…I thought about all the people who’d had to do this through history. The millions taking flight from disasters, fleeing tyrannical despots, making exodus from pogroms, escaping warring soldiers and pouring out of bombed cities. What had kept them going was the promise of safe haven, whether in some sprawling refugee camp or under the protection of a friendly army. We didn’t have that…”

Set in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and further north in Central Coast Danby now lives in a world gone mad – on Christmas day ‘The Snap’ happened. What is the snap I hear you ask? Well, in the first book The Last Girl it is explained in detail but in summary in a split second all humans become part of a massed mind meld. Instantly each person could hear what everyone else was thinking, thousands of thoughts invaded each mind at the same time and couldn’t be stopped. Eventually everyone’s mind just snaps in reaction to the information overload and they become catatonic, they go into shut down mode. Well not quite everyone there are a few who are unaffected and these were ‘the specials’ and they are wide awake and moving around. Danby is caring for her autistic brother, Evan, and meets up with Nathan and they start trying to save the unconscious – is quite a simple procedure involving an injection. Then there’s Jack – enter stage left the evil villain! Jack raises the unconscious by melding his mind with them, he brings around Evan. But there is a catch, everyone who Jack brings around IS Jack it is like he is adding his mind into one multi-faceted entity. He can learn through them and he can hear and see through them and they have no idea they are not themselves. This is all expanded on in the second book The Last Shot. This is where it becomes not just survival to live in a world that has died – it is survival against the living. Danby has to make a choice as to who she is going to survive with – well she knows, but how to escape his clutches and save those under his influence is the problem. Three weeks after the world shuts down – there is a final confrontation between Jack and Danby and a trigger is pulled.

THE LAST PLACE starts 3 months after the events in The Last Shot – and Danby has certainly used those months to grow in character. She is now a kick ass military expert using hunting techniques and computer technology (who needs the Internet) to survive. But she is not perfect, in fact for most of THE LAST PLACE the reader is left wondering if Danby is just a little insane, after what she goes through you would not blame her. In order to survive, protect and maybe rescue those she loves she has to become as ruthless as those who are trying to destroy them. The story is told as a series of flashbacks over the last 3 months that bring them up to the ‘present’ and what increasingly builds up to be the final confrontation. And what a great finale it is – I can see it on the big screen now.

Be warned in this series there are a lot of deaths – nice people die – I shed more than one tear I can assure you. All Danby wants to do is escape ‘Jack’ and rescue her brother Evan.

I found that author, Michael Adams, portrayal of life after the snap to be very realistic. Not everyone could be brought around so there are millions of decaying dead bodies everywhere. The domestic animals are turning ferrel, those that haven’t died as they are trapped when their human carers die. And nature is starting to make a comeback. Urban centres are both a source of food and medicine, and a place of death and disease. They are also great for sieges and battles. The wilderness is good to hide in and plot and plan. The story switches between the urban and country locations – with the last stand taking place in a seaside town on the Central Coast just north of Sydney. There is not a lot I can say about the final book as to do so would be a real spoiler. What I can say is that it is edge of the seat stuff, and the ending will astound you, and while part of it is foreshadowed in a scene earlier in THE LAST PLACE it was a real surprise and yet made so much sense when you are reading a book where the mind is almost a central character.

I am sorry the journey has come to an end. I invested a lot of reading time into the trilogy and was not disappointed for one second – ok maybe just for one as I realised what was happening in the final show down, but when I thought about it, then it all made sense. If you like apocalyptic thrillers and haven’t started the trilogy then I suggest you do so now – you will not be disappointed.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $19.99.

Title: Road to Hope

Author: Rachael Johns

Genre: Romance

Opens: Sitting on a painfully hard church pew witnessing the man you’ve always loved declare his undying love and affection to someone else is a special kind of torture…

Blurb: Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town. Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren meet the attraction is instant, but for Lauren Tom threatens to be just another fling and Tom has his own reasons for hesitating. Everyone else – their friends and patients – can see how perfect they are together, but just what will it take for them to admit this to themselves?

My Thoughts: I was first introduced to Lauren in Jilted – and felt sorry for her, as she had a reputation of being a ‘good time had by all’ girl who was trying to stop Flynn and Ellie from getting together – but she is misunderstood. Come on now, let’s get real – she always loved Flynn and when she had a chance to get him when his heart was broken she took it – who wouldn’t. But the truth of the matter is if anything she was the victim as Flynn was using HER rather than the other way. So ROAD TO HOPE opens with Lauren at Flynn’s wedding and naturally she is very upset as she can’t turn her heart off, and it hurts to see the man she still loves, despite of everything, marrying someone else.

Somehow she has a reputation of being man hungry and running after any available man! She is single – why is this bad? As Hope was a small town I’m not sure if there would have been a lot to run after! OK she might hop into bed with them fairly early on in the relationship, but that seems to be the norm nowadays so it doesn’t make her a tart. And once the relationships ends, as relationships do, and the ex’s go on and marry someone else, well that isn’t her fault either! Lauren realises that to leave this unfair reputation behind – she is going to have to go as the town is not going to change. This is one disadvantage of being in a small town – yes there is mateship and support – there is also nasty gossip and rumour mongering.

So the very day she decides to leave town and start a new life, and decides she is not going to sleep with the wrong sort of men again – locum Tom arrives. What’s more he’s a friend of Lauren’s brother and is staying at the family home. The attraction between the two is immediate – it’s just the wrong time. He is not looking for commitment or love, but she is, and this time she wants her own happy ever after. So what follows is a fun story of two people tiptoeing around each other as they share a house and try so hard not to fall in love with each other. But by doing this they end up talking to each other, doing things together, getting to know each other – no strings attached. This slow approach to the growing romance, against undeniable simmering lust, is lovely.

Lauren’s character demonstrates what a loving and caring person she is, and devoted to her job of nursing. In the opening scenes despite her issues with the family of a patient (Flynn’s grandmother) she focusses utterly on her patient and her well-being with all personal feelings put aside. And as I commented on at one point if I ever have to be hospitalised in the old folks section then I SO want Lauren and Tom to be my carers. As for Tom – I loved him too. He is a very good doctor and practices wholesome medicine – that is not just giving medicine but trying to help the mind and spirit as well. And did I mention he is hot? And has most of the female population drooling after him – and me? Tom hit the road as a locum to see Australia and get away from a family tragedy in Adelaide. While he helps his patients in Hope, he comes to realise the importance of family and that he shouldn’t assume that everyone will react to the secret he is hiding the same way.

Once again Rachel Johns has demonstrated why she is a much in demand writer – her writing is flawless and the stories have humour, drama, passion and a feeling that you have joined your mates at the local pub for a catch up session. The reader is included and not an onlooker. Looking forwards to whatever she is going to come up with next.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Harlequin MIRA Australia and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

March Reading Wrap Up

March Reading Wrap Up

Welcome to my March reading wrap-up:

The total of books I read in March was: 11

Of these: 4 were Library Books, 4 were E-books and 3 were from my physical TBR pile

Then: Out of the books I read I discovered 5 ‘new for me’ authors (i.e. the first time I have read their work).

And: 8 of the books read were written by Australian authors.

Best Book of the month: March was a good reading month for me – not so much in quantity but certainly in quality. I actually had four ‘A’ reads – I give ‘A’s (or 5 stars) to books that regardless of genre are complete page turners for me, that have me reading late into the night, suck me straight into the story and leaves me wanting more at the end; and I utterly recommend it. If I give a high score to a book it means it is a top example of whatever genre it belongs to. The genres that made it into my top 4 were quite mixed and ranged from two edge of your seat Mystery/Thriller and YA Dystopian books contrasted nicely with two settle in with a glass of wine for a fun read Romance and Hens Lit. The books were Tell the Truth by Katherine Howell, The Last Place by Michael Adams, Road to Hope by Rachael Johns and last but by no means least Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie. All four are top of their respective genre and are all highly recommended as such – but overall my book of the month was THE LAST PLACE by Michael Adams because I expected so much from it being the final book in a YA Dystopian Trilogy and the author did not let me down.

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 only struggled with a couple of books this month and my least favourite was Lost and Found by Brooke Davis

Having said this, both of the books have received glowing reviews elsewhere, they just weren’t for me at this point of time – and this is just my personal opinion and you may find that they may very well be right for you.

General Summary:

Because I am an eclectic reader I read many different genres, sometimes at the same time! This month the different genres covered were Young Adult, Romance, Hens Lit (chick lit but with older more mature women playing the starring roles), Mystery, Dystopian, Historical (set over 50 years ago), Contemporary Fiction (set in the last 50 years) and non-fiction. Some of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

The 8 Australian authors for March were 4 of the new-for-me authors Brooke Davis, Meredith Appleyard, Suzanna Clarke and Tammy Calder; along with Rachael Johns, Michael Hill, Katherine Howell and Colleen McCullough. 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 have been born elsewhere.

Finally, the 5 ‘new-for-me’ authors this month were my Aussie authors Brooke Davis, Meredith Appleyard, Suzanna Clarke and Tammy Calder; along with Celia Imrie and I would happily read all of these new authors again.

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

A question I frequently get asked is ‘Why do you like reading so much?’ And it is actually a hard question to answer because I don’t know – I just do. I can no more not read than I am not able to choose not to breathe. If push comes to shove I would possible admit that it is a form of escapism – relaxing, not work, diverting and distracts me from the sometimes awful reality of event around the planet I have no choice but to live on. I found a few web sites that focus on this subject:

Come on now, what more reasons do you need to pick that book up right now!

The List

So let’s get onto what this post is about – what did I read during March? Here is the list of books that I read during the last month (each group is in the order I read them):

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

Tell the Truth by Katherine Howell – Mystery

The Last Place by Michael Adams – YA Dystopian

Road to Hope by Rachael Johns – Rural Romance

Not Quite Nice by Celia Imrie – Hens Lit

B = Really Good Read

The Country Practice by Meredith Appleyard – Romance

The Ladies of Missalonghi by Colleen McCullough – Historical

Possessed: His Ghostly Game by Tammy Calder – Romance

C = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable

Paint by Jennifer Dance – Historical

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler – Contemporary

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

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis – Contemporary Fiction

A House in Fez by Suzanna Clarke – Non-Fiction

So onward to April –Woo Hoo! I wonder what book goodies I will discover this month?

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