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This is my occasional roundup of books I have read, books I’m currently reading, one or two Internet places I’ve visited and quotes that have taken my eye.

Attention: I am on holidays for the next month or so – there will be no more posts until my return in September

 

BOOKS I HAVE RECENTLY FINISHED:

Book: Borrowed Dreams by Debbie Macomber

Genre: Romance

Thoughts: One of her older romances writing in the 1980s – not one of her best, but still a good way to while away a couple of hours.

Book: Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this Cosy mystery – and loved the cats who played an important part. The Main Character is a librarian so that added to the enjoyment.

Book: In the Fifth at Malory Towers by Enid Blyton

Genre: YA Adventure

Thoughts: I devoured these boarding school books in my Tweens, as I was in a boarding school in England for a couple of years. Have reread this series quite a few times over the years.

Book: The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

Thoughts: This story, which starred the Grimm sisters, slightly missed the mark for me – but the premise was good. The ancestors the Grimm brothers weren’t writing fairy stories – they published their diaries of actual events. All the creatures are now secretly living in one town just outside New York City and there has been a murder.

Book: The Brakys’ Lair by Alexandra Moody

Genre: Science Fiction

Thoughts:

Book: Once Hunted, Twice Shy by Mandy M. Roth

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Thoughts: This is the second book in a series that I am loving – set in the imaginary seaside town of Everlasting in the USA where paranormal critters can live in peace – each book is written by a different author and reads as a standalone – but are all connected by the location.

Book: Beneath the Mother Tree by D.M. Cameron

Genre: Mystery with a touch of Fantasy

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: Nathan Fox: Seas of Blood by L. Brittney

Genre: Historical

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: The secret life of Sarah Meads by VK Tritschler

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: After the Lights go Out by Lili Wilkinson

Genre: Science Fiction

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: The Island by M.A. Bennett

Genre: Contemporary YA

Thoughts: Separate review here

 

WHAT I AM CURRENTLY READING:

Westward Winds by Linda Bridey – Historical Romance

The Secret Vineyard by Loretta Hill – Romance

Bookshop Girl by Chloe Coles – YA

 

INTERESTING QUOTES AND LINKS:

Links: Here are a couple of online articles I found recently – the theme is writing:

Tips on how to execute the perfect murder scene in your writing – http://www.signature-reads.com/2018/07/crime-writers-guide-writing-death-murder/

Where do authors get their ideas from?
https://www.writingforward.com/creative-writing/where-do-successful-authors-get-their-most-brilliant-writing-ideas

Here is a link to 100 Interesting author facts – I love the fact that Agatha Christie disliked her creation Hercule Poirot, calling him ‘a detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep’. I can’t stand him either!!!

https://interestingliterature.com/2015/09/17/100-interesting-facts-about-famous-authors/

Quotes: That haverecently caught my eye

This time both of my quotes come from books I have recently read – and both are by Australian authors.

There are four things I need you to always remember alright?”

“Sure,” she said.

“One, always breathe,” he said “It sounds simple but breathing is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. If you’re ever struggling, stop, and take a couple of deep, slow breaths. Count them out loud if you need to. Two, always have dreams and ideals and never let anyone tell you it’s impossible. Something impossible is only something possible that hasn’t yet been done. Three, get out of bed every single day. Especially if you don’t want to. Because yes, even without you the world keeps turning, it’s simply a little more interesting with you in it. Four, never give up. That means on life and yourself.

From The Secret Life of Sarah Meads by V.K. Tritschler

‘You’ve been hoarding resources,’ he says. ‘What makes you think they are not going to do the same? You think they’re going to let us queue up with everyone else to receive rations? The way I see it, there are two scenarios here. One – we are turned out into the wilderness to fend for ourselves, or two – we get executed.

From After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

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Title: The Island

Author: M.A. Bennett

Genre: Young Adult

Opens:

The first thing I remember about the island is opening my eyes and seeing nothing but sand, up really close like it was under a microscope.

Blurb:

Link is a fish out of water. Newly arrived in the UK from America, he is finding it hard to settle into the venerable and prestigious Osney School. Who knew there could be so many strange traditions to understand? And what kind of school ranks its students by how fast they can run round the school quad – however ancient that quad may be? When Link runs the slowest time in years, he immediately becomes the butt of every school joke. And some students are determined to make his life more miserable than others. When a school summer trip is offered, Link can think of nothing worse than spending voluntary time with his worst tormentors. But when his parents say he can only leave Osney School if he goes on the trip, Link decides to endure it to get out of the school. As the seven students fly to their destination something goes wrong with the plane and they find themselves alone on a deserted island.

My thoughts:

When I briefly lived in England – Desert Island Discs was must do listening at my grandparent’s house. We loved to hear what type of music various celebrities would like to listen to. Sometimes the music choices were nothing like we would expect. The theme of Desert Island discs runs through THE ISLAND as Link and his parents are fans – and Link guesses what the choices might be for the others. He states what they might be at the start and as the story unfolds we find out what they actually would have chosen.

Link is an American. His parents are scientists who move from the USA to the UK for work. Link has been home-schooled up until now, but now is enrolled at a prestige school. Link is very smart, however at Osney School the focus is not in the academic talents of the students – but how athletic they are. His very first day, his very first hour, Link is told to run around the quadrangle. The time he takes will dictate his order in the school. The top kid is a one and the lowest is an eleven. Home-schooled, nerdy Link comes in as a 12. For the next few years Link is at the bottom of the school food chain. Everyone picks on him at worse, ignores him at best. He might be the smartest boy in school – but he cannot get himself out of this situation and school is a daily torment for him. Then comes the plane crash.

The island changes the group dynamics. The bullies have no survival skills at all – Link is book smart and is able to provide fire, food and shelter. Slowly the victim becomes leader and with leadership comes power. Power can be abused – is it time for Link to get revenge for years of abuse? He makes choices that are quite horrible, he is everything you think of when it comes to a creepy person. To be fair he is copying his literary character, and TV show idols – he even names his coconut after a famous volleyball – and eventually Links true character comes to the fore. Out of this time on the island comes hope – a chance for the teens to change their lives around should they chose to.

For most of the book Link is a very unlikable person – at the start when he was the victim he had my sympathy – however, as the leader he changes and becomes – well – not nice. But his character development is terrific, and the epilogue brings out a twist which I personally think is perfect!!! I enjoyed M.A. Bennett’s writing style – was easy to read and evoked the nastiness of bullying going on without delving into it too much – something happens – move on. She has written another book – however this is the first one of hers I have read. I will certainly read more of her work.

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

Want to know more about author M.A. Bennett? Click Here

With thanks to Allen and Unwin and the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: After the lights go out

Author: Lili Wilkinson

Genre: Apocalyptic

Opens:

‘They’re here’

I look up from my book. My limbs go heavy and my heart sinks. The twins freeze in the middle of their card game.

Blurb:

Pru Palmer’s father is a doomsday prepper. He dragged Pru and her twin sisters to the outskirts of a remote Kimberley mining town, trained them in survival skills and built a secret bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. Pru finds it all pointless and boring, until one day while their father is working at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmers’ house, and in the town. No one knows why. All communication is cut. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters obey their father utterly and tell no one about their bunker. Their father has drilled into them since birth that survival is everything, and family comes first.

What happened when the lights went off after what might truly be an end-of-the-world event? How do the girls stay alive? Who can they trust? How much do they have to sacrifice?

My thoughts: AFTER THE LIGHTS GO OUT is a brilliant coming of age disaster survival story. It started to pop up on my radar as many blogger were starting to include it in their ‘Most anticipated releases for the second half of 2018’ lists. So when I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy I was overjoyed.

Pru Palmer is the main character and her father is a hard-core survivalist and conspiracy theorist. He is also a tad insane. Actually he has completely lost the plot but Prue and her sister’s trust their dad as he keeps them isolated and the little contact they do have with the local community he drums into them to not trust anyone; family comes first. One could even say that to a certain extent they are brainwashed, or too scared to go against their father’s demands.

He keeps the girl’s on their toes by running practice emergency situations – training them to get to the bunker from the house without being seen and as quickly as possible. Each girl has a ‘bug out’ bag – a bug out bag (or B.O.B) is a grab and go bag for a wide variety of emergencies and survival situations. It contains a week’s rations, water purification tablets and the like. The three girls can hunt for food, light a fire without matches and make water out of nothing more easily that put their make-up on. In other words they are prepared for anything. Except when the power goes out and their father is away at work hundreds of kilometres away.

The general consensus of opinion is that a massive solar storm has fried all the electrics – cars won’t go, communication is out – the world comes to a halt. The girls know that family comes first, to look out for themselves and not help anyone else. They have the bunker and they can live for a couple of years BUT reality sets in when they see the suffering of the rest of the community and they have the agony of being torn between obeying their father or following their hearts to help others survive.

Human nature being what it is, one person is let in on the secret and then the rest of the community eventually learn what the girls have:

‘You’ve been hoarding resources,’ he says. ‘What makes you think they are not going to do the same? You think they’re going to let us queue up with everyone else to receive rations? The way I see it, there are two scenarios here. One – we are turned out into the wilderness to fend for ourselves, or two – we get executed.

Author, Lili Wilkinson, has captured the situation perfectly. There are deaths – can’t have a disaster without death – but two in particular come as a shock – well for me anyway. But there is a pulling together to survive attitude. Good people, bad people and a complete nutter all come alive on the pages. Pru is an exceptional character and there is a definite personal growth in her by the end of the book. The end of the book is massively suspenseful and had me almost shouting out loud for a good outcome.

AFTER THE LIGHTS GO OUT is due for release in August 2018 – and if coming of age apocalyptic books are your thing then run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookshop and grab yourself a copy. I utterly recommend it – was a 5 star read!!

Rating: Excellent Stuffa 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.

Want to know more about author Lili Wilkinson? Click Here

With thanks to Allen and Unwin and the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: The Secret life of Sarah Meads

Author: V.K. Tritschler

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Opens:

Sarah had managed to survive two whole weeks of hectic working motherhood. Not one sickness, injury or serious incident that entire time. It had to be a record.

Blurb:

What do you get when you mix a frustrated working mother, an absentee husband, a handsome stranger and a psychotic work colleague? Sarah Meads was about to find out. The hardest part was going to be keeping it quiet. Well that…and keeping her sanity.

My thoughts:

Sarah Meads is a working mum with three children and a husband, Richard. Richard does nothing around the house to help and is working late at night and weekends, he treats Sarah nicely enough, just expects her to wait on him, pick up after him, and provide her body when he needs it, life is good for him – not stressed at all. At the opposite end of the emotional scale is Sarah, she is stressed beyond measure trying to juggle all the normal day to day activities and life is not much better at work. She enjoys her work, but one of her co-workers, Lynley, is a bully, and makes Sarah’s work life hell. There is a scene that involves the radio that made me want to ring up the office of Anti-Discrimination and report a bully!!!

THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH MEADS opens at the school fete, Richard has had a prior appointment so Sarah has taken her sister Jazz along to help her with the three kids. Her sister talks her into going into a Gypsy tent to have her future read. Instead of the gypsy she meets her grandson Antonio who reads her palm in his grandmother’s absence. Sarah is stunned at how her body reacts to Antonio – and he seems equally smitten. Flustered she leaves the tent and goes back to her life. However some of the things Antonio said stuck with her and in an effort to get out of the stressed rut she is living in Sarah decides to learn how to be a witch. With only google to guide her along this path her exploration leads to some really funny scenes which include the arrival of a mangy cat, and the police. However life cannot continue like this for Sarah and things escalate until finally a revelation causes her world to turn upside down and she has to learn how to get her life back on track.

I really, really enjoyed THE SECRET LIFE OF SARAH MEADS. It is a debut novel for V.K. Tritschler and I can’t wait until she writes another one – well she has – it is being edited now. I related, to a certain extent, with Sarah. Her mother and father is my mother and father to a T. Sadly my father is no longer with us – but mum? Yep just like Sarah’s. Balancing work and motherhood – also struck a chord. Luckily my children are now all grown up with children of their own – but gee it was hard for a while. AND, unlike Sarah my hubby played a huge part with the parenting roles. So didn’t relate to a Richard character in my life – although my sister certainly could with her husband!!! I love it when I connect with the characters in a book. The storyline covers some pretty heavy stuff; bullying, mental health, family relationships to name but a few. But the way it is written allows you to understand what is happening without descending into the pits of despair. I was particularly taken by the following quote:

There are four things I need you to always remember alright?"

"Sure," she said.

"One, always breathe," he said "It sounds simple but breathing is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. If you’re ever struggling, stop, and take a couple of deep, slow breaths. Count them out loud if you need to. Two, always have dreams and ideals and never let anyone tell you it’s impossible. Something impossible is only something possible that hasn’t yet been done. Three, get out of bed every single day. Especially if you don’t want to. Because yes, even without you the world keeps turning, it’s simply a little more interesting with you in it. Four, never give up. That means on life and yourself.

I think we can all take this advice on board. There is a happy ending – but it is more the start of the road to a happy ending rather than the actual happy ending. And I liked that. The ending was perfect for the story.

Rating: Excellent Stuffa 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.

Want to know more about author V.K. Tritschler? Click Here

With thanks the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: Seas of Blood

Author: L. Brittney

Genre: Historical

Opens:

The omens were not good. Astrologers all over Europe stated that 1588 would be a terrible year. There were many eclipses of both the sun and the moon forecast and there were already rumours circulating about supernatural events – deformed children in France; bloody rain falling from the sky in Sweden; black magic in Germany causing torrential floods

Blurb:

In this third book in the Nathan Fox series, England is facing the might of the Spanish Armada, which is gathering in Portugal, ready to invade. But first, Nathan, his sister Marie, and John Pearce, must go to Ireland on a secret mission which involves pirates, sorcery and decoding a list of Spanish spies. Then they must join Sir Francis Drake to do battle against the feared Armada.

My thoughts:

Woo! Hoo! It has been a few years, but finally, another Nathan Fox book has been released.Book three,SEAS OF BLOOD, is perfectly summed up by the main character, Nathan Fox, himself: “A mad magician; a secret code book; Ireland and pirates – who could want for more?” who indeed? Certainly not me!!! The previous books in the series were Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times and Nathan Fox: Traitors Gold both of which I read and loved. In fact the first book was shortlisted for several UK publishing awards, including the Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize and the Brandford Boase Award which is presented each year to an outstanding children’s or young-adult novel by a first-time writer. SEAS OF BLOOD is just as good.

Set in Elizabethan days, fifteen-year-old actor, Nathan Fox, was working with no less that William Shakespeare himself, when he was recruited by Her Majesty’s Spymaster General, Sir Francis Walsingham. Along with his sister, Marie, Nathan is training to be a spy and being mentored by John Pearce. The whole of England is on edge and preparing for the imminent invasion of the Spanish king – who has a few reasons for wanting to take control. Queen Elizabeth is determined to thwart him in any way she can.

There is a code which will reveal all the Spanish agents that have infiltrated the English Court, however there is a snag to accessing the code. The man who devised the code has lost his mind after becoming too deeply involved in alchemy and sorcery. He has been rescued and brought back to England where they hope he can be brought to his senses and the coded contents of his book revealed. In order to keep the enemy from finding him John, Nathan and Marie take him by boat to a remote part of Ireland where the pirate O’Malley will hopefully agree protect him in exchange for a royal pardon. To Nathan’s surprise Pirate O’Malley is a woman. Author Lynne Brittney has an absolute talent for blending real historical figures with her fictional characters in her books. In SEAS OF BLOOD the characters of Sir Francis Drake, Francis Walsingham, and Grace O’Malley are all real people. Grace O’Malley was one of Irelands most famous legends she was known as the Queen of the pirates and her people lived well under her rule, she was ruthless but fair. England did not treat her as fairly, she escaped them twice before they had a chance to put her to death.

Life in Tudor England is explained vividly, and the scenes come alive on the pages. The absolutely deplorable conditions the English sailors had to fight in aboard their ships is horrendous. But compared to those of the Spanish sailors they were much better off. Sir Francis Drake was a bit of a bad boy – I found that I didn’t admire him quite as much as my school day History lessons would had led me to believe. The outcome of the Armada is a well-known fact, so what makes SEAS OF BLOOD so good is the meticulous research that Lynne Brittney has done to recreate a glimpse of the world it was set in. I was surprised by how few sailors could swim, but a lot of them were pressed into service, so the ability to swim is not one that a street urchin would have come with.

While Nathan is a teen and the book is marketed at the YA market – it is certainly suited for people of all ages – and not just boys! Fast-paced action, heart in mouth moments along with some lighter moments – such as when Nathan learns to swim, and when he is befriended by one of Grace’s Irish Wolfhounds.

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

Want to know more about author Lynne Brittney? Click Here

With thanks the author for my copy to read and review.

Title: Beneath the Mother Tree

Author: D.M. Cameron

Genre: Mystery – with a touch of Fantasy

Opens: On the wind, Ayala heard a tune so sweetly mournful it made her toes curl in the sand.

Blurb:

On a small island, something sinister is at play. Resident alcoholic Grappa believes it’s the Far Dorocha, dark servant of the Faery queen, whose seductive music lures you into their abyss. His granddaughter Ayla has other ideas, especially once she meets the mysterious flute player she heard on the beach. Riley and his mother have moved to the island to escape their grief. But when the tight-knit community is beset by a series of strange deaths, the enigmatic newcomers quickly garner the ire of the locals. Can Ayla uncover the mystery at the heart of the island’s darkness before it is too late?

My thoughts: BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE started very slowly; nothing really happens straight away and yet from the very first page there’s a hint of something not quite right. This sense of wrongness increased as the story progressed until it got to the stage where you know darn well bad things are happening – but you can’t explain what they are.

Ayla has lived on an island off the coast of Queensland for her whole life, she has grown up with her grandfather’s tales of Irish myths and also the history of both white settlement and, through her friend Mandy and her relatives, Indigenous traditions and stories. This blend of myth and fact has formed her outlook at life.

The story opens with Ayla alone on the beach when she hears a flute playing – it plays so beautifully that it lures her to come closer. She remembers a conversation with her grandfather, an alcoholic, where he told her that recent imagined omens were saying that something bad is coming. She also remembered his story of how her grandmother was seduced by a flute playing fairy. Whilst she dismisses her grandfather’s warnings because they live in Australia not Ireland – there are no little people – good or evil here. Ayla still goes and hides in the large tree that is called the mother tree until she no longer hears the flute.

The flute player is not an Irish fairy – he is Riley. Riley has just moved to the island with his mother Marlise after the death of his stepfather. Marlise is a world expert on mosquitos and the islanders want to rid the swamp of mosquitoes as their presence is stopping the tourists from coming over to the island.

Then the deaths start – animal and human. Deaths in the past and deaths in the present have to be solved to prevent deaths in the future.

The story is told from mostly the viewpoints of Ayla and Riley; and every so often from the view point of Marlise. Now there is mind you don’t want to spend much time in!! Gradually Ayla and Riley work out the mysterious goings on, and Irish mythology, Aboriginal traditions and history blend to protect the island from its doom in an edge of the seat climax.

I loved Ayla and Riley they were so focused and protective of each other. Ayla’s Aboriginal friend Mandy was lovely too. And Marlise? Let’s just say she came alive on the pages and her madness, or was it her sanity? Was amazing to behold.

BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE was a fabulous debut novel. The author D.M. Cameron lived in SE Queensland and based her island on islands in Moreton Bay and coastal land between the Brisbane and Logan Rivers. She grew up with people of the Quandamooka Nation and used their traditions and beliefs in her story. BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE is her love story to these people, her friends.

BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE takes you on a journey from normal day to day living to oh my goodness this can’t be happening very slowly, adding to the tension word by word, page by page until you at a climax where people are fighting for their very lives. Amazing. I would certainly read any more books written by her, and hope this is the first of many.

Rating: 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.

Want to know more about author D.M. Cameron? Click Here

With thanks to MidnightSun Publishing and the author for my copy to read and review.

This is my occasional roundup of books I have read, books I’m currently reading, one or two Internet places I’ve visited and quotes that have taken my eye.

Books I have recently finished:

Book: Her Loyal SEAL by Caitlyn O’Leary

Genre: Romantic suspense

Thoughts: The SEAL team go into the jungles of Brazil to rescue a family from a ruthless drug cartel. They then had to be kept safe until a court appearance brought the cartel down. One SEAL and one daughter fall in love against this edge of the seat story.

Book: The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Thoughts: I really, really recommend this 5 star read. Looks at friendship and in particular to friends who first met as pre-teens but are now all grown up and living adult lives in separate cities. Then one of them moves back – can they still be friends now they are grown-ups?

Book: Bunny and the Bear (Furry United Coalition #1) by Eve Langlais

Genre: Romance

Thoughts: Just don’t read it – really – do yourself a favour!

Book: Pregnant By Mr. Wrong by Rachael Johns

Genre: Romance

Thoughts: THIS is how romance should be done – certainly soothed my soul after the previously mentioned bunny episode. Man meets woman, well they have actually known each other from childhood, Man and Woman get together for one wonderful night – and there are consequences. As the title alludes, baby makes 3.

Book: Anzac Biscuits by Allison Reynolds

Genre: Non-Fiction

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Genre: YA Romance

Thoughts: Separate review here

Book: Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittney

Genre: Historical Mystery

Thoughts: Separate review here

What I am currently reading:

Nathan Fox: Seas of Blood by L Brittney – Swashbuckling Historical YA Adventure

Borrowed Dreams by Debbie Macomber – Romance

Curiosity Thrilled the Cat by Sofie Kelly – Cosy Mystery

Quote/s and links for the week

Links: Here are a couple of online articles I found recently:

Reading Challenge tips:

https://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/1294-hot-reading-challenge-tips-from-pros-who-read-more-than-100-books-a-year

There are two delightful bookshops called ‘Hard to Find’ that are located in Dunedin and Auckland in New Zealand. Whenever I am in Dunedin I always drop in, and now I have discovered that they have an online presence as well: https://www.hardtofind.co.nz/

Free eBooks – Don’t we all like freebies? I am pretty much able to find them for my kindle app – but kobo is a little bit trickier. This link will help you overcome this problem by directing you to a few sources – and these sources work for kindle too: https://ebookfriendly.com/sources-of-free-kobo-books/

Quotes: That haverecently caught my eye

He was a quiet boy but had no trouble forming friendships. He’d never given them a moment’s worry. Until now. Libby’s stomach churned. What if she was wrong about her darling boy? What if she didn’t really know him at all? What if, despite following all the rules, she hadn’t raised the perfect child after all?

From The Art of Friendship by Lisa Ireland

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