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Title: Kakadu Sunset

Author: Annie Seaton

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens:

The three over-sized trucks in front of Ellie Porter’s small red sedan were loaded with pipes and earthmoving equipment, and they’d slowed her trip home along the Arnhem Highway from Darwin Airport.

Blurb:

Helicopter pilot Ellie Porter loves her job. Soaring above the glorious Kakadu National Park, she feels free from all her family problems. But when returning from a search-and-rescue mission she spots some unusual excavation works hidden at the back of her old family property. She is immediately very concerned because Kakadu being a National Park mining is not allowed. She decides to ask a few questions about the earthworks which immediately bring her into the radar of people who will stop at nothing to get their own way.

My Thoughts: Being a Darwin girl of some 40 years – and knowing the Kakadu Park area very well, I have to say I approached the setting very critically. I need not have worried – Aussie author Annie Seaton nailed it!!! Other than one little quibble about the location of her MacDonald’s in Darwin City and Darwin’s Mitchell Street being called Mitchell Avenue everything else accurate – as is the magnificent scenery and the ever present danger of Crocodiles – don’t go swimming in the rivers here!!! But every beauty spot has its snake; and KAKADU SUNSET’s snake is human with ruthless henchmen, political corruption and the very topical subject of mining and fracking. Love, bribery, kidnapping, physical maiming and murder are all set in the background of this beautiful wilderness. But it is not all doom and gloom because enter stage left our handsome hero – Kane, former military helicopter pilot suffering PTSD. He’s drop dead gorgeous but suffers from vivid flashbacks and a deep fear of flying.

The pace moves quickly with the tension steadily building as the reader gets to know what’s going on and where the danger is coming from before Ellie and Kane. That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t a few twists and turns just to prove that maybe you didn’t know it all. Each of the characters are realistic – including the support cast – you can feel the worry, the fear, the sickness and the anger. The building up of the romance between Kane and Ellie is not the main focus, it is part and parcel with the suspense – one doesn’t overpower the other. Another of the layers to the story is the fact that Annie feels passionate about conservation and the environment. It comes through the story strongly – but she doesn’t pick you up and shake you about it. Indigenous land rights also add to the tapestry of the story.

KAKADU SUNSET is the first in a trilogy based on the three Porter sisters – and I have the next one – DAINTREE – in my hot little hand. In all honesty, if you like romantic suspense that grips you and won’t let you go, then do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of this book.

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.

 

I have also posted this review over on Book Charmers

Title: Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms

Author: Anita Heiss

Genre: Historical

Opens: Hiroshi is wide awake and waiting as the bugle sounds across the camp at 2 am.

Blurb: On the 5 AUGUST, 1944 over 1000 Japanese soldiers broke out of the No.12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra and escaped into the surrounding countryside. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured, and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat. But one soldier, Hiroshi, a gentle university student serving his country, manages to escape.

At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, Banjo Williams, father of five and proud Elder of his community, discovers Hiroshi, distraught and on the run. Unlike most of the townsfolk who dislike and distrust the Japanese, the people of Erambie choose compassion and offer Hiroshi refuge. For the community, life at Erambie is one of restriction and exclusion – living under Acts of Protection and Assimilation, and always under the ruthless eye of the mission Manager. On top of wartime hardships, families live without basic rights.

My Thoughts: The period that BARBED WIRE AND CHERRY BLOSSOMS covers is the year between the Cowra breakout in 1944 and the end of WWII in 1945. I am surprised how few Australians have even heard of the breakout, our family visited the Japanese Gardens on the site a few years ago and it is so peaceful and beautiful that it is hard to imagine the events in this book taking place. But they did. During the story author Anita Heiss highlights the attitude of the Australian Government and, sadly, many Australian citizens, towards the Aboriginal people; along with the conditions they lived under. When Banjo finds the escaped Japanese prisoner, Hiroshi, cowering on the mission he argues with the other Elders that the community should hide the man as they have something in common; Aboriginals are fighting the Australian Government and so are the Japanese. So that makes them allies rather than enemies. I loved this reasoning and can really understand where Banjo is coming from. Aware that not all of the community would agree, the Elders decide that only a few will be in on the secret and they will hide him in the Mission air raid shelter as it never gets used. Banjo’s oldest daughter Mary is chosen to take food to Hiroshi each day as she is well loved and no one would suspect her of harbouring an escapee. The unfolding story is riveting.

Banjo’s family and fellow community members do not live a life of freedom – they are bound by law to live on the Mission. The Mission Manager, called King Billy by the community Elders, is a white man assigned by the Government, to dole out food and water rations, and give permission for travel and for marriages. It is just dreadful that this happened –the Aboriginals lived under the ever present fear that rations and permissions could be severely curtailed as punishment or to ensure good behaviour. Permission was needed to travel outside the mission to access work, shops, medical facilities and even the local cinema – with many places having separate sections for the Aboriginals so they didn’t mix with other Australians. In fact at one stage it the Mission community realise that the POWs at the local Cowra POW camp had better conditions than the mission. Horrible! Yet for all of that, the people of Erambie Station are resilient, upbeat and protective of their own. And young Mary is very protected by her family; except when she goes into the shelter to take what little food they can spare to Hiroshi. Here she is away from watchful eyes and is free to talk to him and they share with each other all manner of things from their separate cultures – and a love of literature and poetry. Gradually this talk develops into friendship and then into a love that must be kept as hidden as the main in the shelter.

BARBED WIRE AND CHERRY BLOSSOMS looks at the appalling lack human rights and also explores two different cultures and how the government policies of the time affected them both in different ways – the story also demonstrates how a community of people showed more compassion than their own government showed to them.

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.

 

This review has also been posted at Book Charmers

Final Book Stats for 2016

Even though my postings have been spasmodic to non-existent during 2016, much the same as 2015 really – I was doing a lot of reading!

And I managed to outdo myself by reading a massive total of 205 books.

My top 10 books of the year:

Frontier Defiant by Leonie Rogers – YA Science Fiction

An Ordinary Epidemic by Amanda Hickie – Science Fiction

Once by Morris Gleitzman – Historical Children’s

Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry – Thriller

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover – Contemporary Fiction

Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski – Non-Fiction

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – Contemporary Fiction

Sleight Malice by Vicki Tyley- Mystery

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns – Romance

Hold on to me by Victoria Purman – Romance

My top book of the year:

Australian: Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski

International: It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Statistical Bits and Pieces:

Average number of books per month: 17

April was the highest number of books read (27) but I did travel over to Europe and back in that time – so there was over 30 hours of plane travel and stopovers – some of the 27 were read at the end of March so couldn’t record them until my return. The lowest month was March (13) but as I explained some of the books read in the last two days of March when I was travelling made it into the April total.

Number of ‘new for me’ Authors: 113

This means over 55 % of the books I read during 2016 where by authors I have never read before. Mind you, of these, a small handful (18%) will never darken my door again.

Number of Australian Authors: 41

Roughly 20% of the books I read were by Australian Authors. This is down a little bit from last year – so will try and up the ante this year.

Author Gender:

Male Authors: 20

Female Authors: 185

I didn’t set out to read mostly female authors, that is to say I don’t intentionally exclude male authors – it is just how it turns out. Mind you 2 male authors made it into my top 10 reads for the year.

Book sources:

eBooks: 136

Physical Books: 69 (25 came from the library)

A few years ago there would have been no eBooks at all – now they consist of nearly all my reading. I still love physical books – they certainly have their place in my life – but eBooks are very useful. Like when I went on holidays I didn’t have to worry about weight restrictions on the plane – I had over 400 books in my handbag!!!

Genre Break-up

Many of the books I read fall into a couple of genres – so I have only divided them into the main category they come under – so if it is a romance between a Witch and Vampire – it is a paranormal romance – paranormal would be the main genre. I have updated my spreadsheet to be more specific next year.

Historical 30 (The setting is over 50 years previous to current date)

Paranormal 16

Mystery 53

Romance 39

Women’s Fiction 17

Science Fiction 12

Fantasy 12

General Fiction 19 (Often means I’m not sure where to place it)

Non-Fiction 6

Horror 1

Out of these 10 main genre:

29 were Young Adult (over 12 years) books, and

5 were classified as Children’s (under 12 years)

My Scoring System:

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.

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

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.

D – Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish whatever redeemable aspects there were to this book, they were not fleshed out enough for me to truly enjoy it.

My complete list of books read during 2016:

A – 46 books

1. Spirits of the Ghan by Judy Nunn

2. Skin by Ilka Tampke

3. Darkening Skies by Bronwyn Parry

4. Once by Morris Gleitzman

5. Then by Morris Gleitzman

6. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

7. The Gargoyle gets his girl by Kristen Painter

8. Hold on to me by Victoria Purman

9. A Ghouls guide to love & murder by Victoria Laurie

10. Dastardly Deeds by Ilsa Evans

11. Invaded by Melissa Landers

12. Outback Sisters by Rachael Johns

13. Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs

14. April’s Glow by Juliet Madison

15. Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase

16. Sleight Malice by Vicki Tyley

17. The Professor Woos the Witch by Kristen Painter

18. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

19. Loki’s Daughters by Delle Jacobs

20. The Shifter Romances the Writer by Kristen Painter

21. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

22. The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon

23. Wedding Bell Blues by Ellie Ferguson

24. Miss Frost Solves a Cold Case by Kristen Painter

25. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick

26. An Ordinary Epidemic by Amanda Hickie

27. Firefly Hollow by T.L. Haddix

28. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

29. Marrying Winterbourne by Lisa Kleypas

30. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

31. Ghost Wife by Michelle Dicinoski

32. A Million Suns by Beth Revis

33. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

34. Frontier Defiant by Leonie Rogers

35. The Liar by Nora Roberts

36. The Young Country Doctor: Bilbury Chronicles by Vernon Coleman

37. Imprudence by Gail Carriger

38. The Fairytale Curse by Marina Finlayson

39. The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

40. Spell Booked by Joyce & Jim Lavene

41. Heirs and Graces by Rhys Bowen

42. The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard

43. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

44. Twelve days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

45. Woof at the Door by Laura Morrigan

46. Eat Prey Love by Kerrelyn Sparks

B – 84 books

1. The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch Perkins

2. Karma’s a Killer by Tracy Weber

3. The Chardonnay Charade by Ellen Crosby

4. At Seventeen by Gerri Hill

5. Maple Mayhem by Jessie Crockett

6. Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs

7. Unconditional by Cherie M. Hudson

8. Hide in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

9. The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

10. A Beautiful Lie by Diane Chamberlain

11. Southern Spirits by Angie Fox

12. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

13. The Copper Gauntlet by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

14. Sweet Inspiration by Penny Watson

15. Wreath of Deception by Mary Ellen Hughes

16. Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

17. Mort by Terry Prachett

18. Wine & Roses by Susan R. Hughes

19. The Secret Formula by Clare Havens

20. Sweet Magik by Penny Watson

21. Miracle in March by Juliet Madison

22. A Truth for a Truth by Emilie Richards

23. The Vampire’s fake fiancé by Kristen Painter

24. Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich

25. Manners & Mutiny by Gail Carriger

26. Faith by Lori Copeland

27. My Mother’s Secret by Sheila O’Flanagan

28. The Bucket List to mend a broken heart by Anna Bell

29. Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison

30. Secrets in Time by Alison Stuart

31. To Love a Sunburnt Country by Jackie French

32. Crowning the Slug Queen by L.M. Fortin

33. Alice-Miranda at School by Jacqueline Harvey

34. A Time to Love by Barbara Cameron

35. Katy’s New World by Kim Vogel Sawyer

36. The Crown by Kiera Cass

37. Summer on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber

38. No Quest for the Wicked by Shanna Swendson

39. The Tinder Box by Minnette Walters

40. Running Barefoot by Amy Harmon

41. Just this once by Rosalind James

42. Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnès Martin-Lugand

43. Fire touched by Patricia Briggs

44. The Enchanted Island by Ellie O’Neill

45. Ghostly Paws by Leighann Dobbs

46. Life Support by Niki Edwards

47. Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates

48. A Scone To Die For by H.Y. Hanna

49. The Covenant by Beverly Lewis

50. Katherine of Aragon, the True Queen by Alison Weir

51. Hunted by Ellie Ferguson

52. Who gets Fluffy? by Judith Summers

53. Clean sweep by Ilona Andrews

54. Band of Gold by Maggie Christensen

55. Isla’s Inheritance by Cassandra Page

56. First term at Mallory Towers by Endid Blyton

57. A Vintage Murder by Michele Scott

58. Revenge Best Served Hot by Jackie Braun

59. An Unexpected Widow by Carre White

60. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

61. Death wore brown shorts by Audrey Claire

62. The Scottish Ferry Tale by Nancy Volkers

63. Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer

64. Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

65. Each Way Bet by Ilsa Evans

66. Persephone the Phony by Joan Holub

67. How (Not) to Kiss a Toad by Elizabeth A. Reeves

68. Magic by Danielle Steel

69. Bound by Vanda Symon

70. Miss Frost Ices The Imp by Kristen Painter

71. The Titan’s Curse by Rick Riordan

72. Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

73. Five Go Parenting (Enid Blyton for Grown Ups) by Bruno Vincent

74. I’m Dreaming of an Undead Christmas by Molly Harper

75. Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

76. Christmas at Copper Mountain by Jane Porter

77. Aunt Dimity’s Death by Nancy Atherton

78. The Next Season by Rachael Johns

79. Llama for Lunch by Lydia Laube

80. Call of the Dragon by Elianne Adams

81. Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

82. Summer Beach Vets: playing Santa by H.Y Hanna

83. Spiral of Need by Suzanne Wright

84. Stranded: A Winter Romance Duet by Samantha Chase

C – 43 books

1. Cooking With Hot Flashes by Martha Bolton

2. The Truth About Peacock Blue by Rosanne Hawke

3. Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

4. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

5. Motive for Murder by Morgana Best

6. The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

7. The Beast’s Garden by Kate Forsyth

8. Space Hostages by Sophia McDougall

9. The Not So Secret Emails Of Coco Pinchard by Robert Bryndza

10. Wicked Charms by Janet Evanovich

11. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

12. Nanberry: Black Brother White by Jackie French

13. Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina

14. Love Me by Bella Andre

15. In too Deep by Tracey Alvarez

16. The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka

17. The Marked Ones by S.K. Munt

18. Satin Ice by Iris Johansen

19. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

20. Black Cat Crossing by Kay Finch

21. Haunted Spouse by Heather MacAllister

22. India Black by Carol K. Carr

23. War of the Roses: Stormbird by Conn Iggulden

24. The Reluctant Detective by Martha Ockley

25. An American Werewolf in Hoboken by Dakota Cassidy

26. Juggle the Dice by Ifeoma Ndiolo

27. Meows, Magic and Murder by Madison Johns

28. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

29. Cat Flaps and Mouse Traps by Harry Oliver

30. The House Between Tides by Sarah Maine

31. The Skeleton in the Closet by M.C. Beaton

32. Orange is the new black by Piper Kerman

33. Secret Agent Mummy: The Cleopatra Case by Steve Cole

34. Maid for Love by Marie Force

35. Landline by Rainbow Rowell

36. The Rouseabout by Racheal Treasure

37. September by Rosamunde Pilcher

38. Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance by MC Beaton

39. Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames

40. Playing with Fire by Sharon Robards

41. Raindrops on Roses by Millenia Black

42. Beauty and the Beast by K.M. Shea

43. Wicked Autumn by G.M. Malliet

D – 32 books

1. A Song for Issy Bradley by Carys Bray

2. Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

3. Sandals in the Snow by Rose Ihedigbo Ceid Ceis

4. Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

5. Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.C. Benison

6. Naughty Neigbour by Janet Evanovich

7. House of Seven Days by Juniper Ellis

8. Rival’s in the City by YS Lee

9. The Hive by Gill Hornby

10. The Girl who circumnavigated fairyland in a ship of her own making by Catherynne M Valente

11. Tumbler by Brand Gamblin

12. The Sun Trail by Erin Hunter

13. Territory by Judy Nunn

14. Learning to Feel by N.R. Walker

15. A Hiss-tory of Magic by Harper Lin

16. A Dreadful Daughter’s Spells by Molly Billygoat

17. Armed and outrageous by Madison Johns

18. City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

19. Marry Me by Jo Goodman

20. What We Find by Robyn Carr

21. Central Park Rendezvous by Ronie Kendig et al

22. Magic for marigold by by L.M. Montgomery

23. Body Wave by RV Doon

24. Longbourn by Jo Baker

25. The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes

26. Gertie’s Paranormal Plantation by Melanie James

27. Choosing One Moment: A Time Travel Mystery by Marja McGraw

28. An Antarctic Mystery by Jules Verne

29. Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar by Carol Heilman

30. Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

31. Apocalypse: Underwater City by Chrissy Peebles

32. North Pole High: A rebel without a clause by Candace Jane Kringle

Title: How (Not) to Kiss a Toad

Author: Elizabeth A. Reeves

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Opens: Closing the door of the house behind me, I tossed my purse on the couch and threw myself after it.

Blurb: Life isn’t always sweet for magical baker, Cindy Eller. All her life she’s been cursed – every man she’s ever kissed has turned into a toad. Love isn’t likely to come her way. If that weren’t a big enough problem, her ‘curse’ has come to the attention of the Council of Magic and she may never be able to use her powers. Enter the perfect man – handsome, sweet, and loves food just as much as Cindy does. It would seem to be a match made in Heaven, or is it? Cindy isn’t the only one keeping secrets. With toads, cupcakes, romance, magic and ice cream, life never has time to get dull!

My Thoughts: HOW (NOT) TO KISS A TOAD is a wonderful example of a fluffy paranormal romance, and was just what I was looking for. Cindy is a witch, although her mother prefers the term Magical Being. While her sisters all did well with their magical studies, Cindy flunked out big time – and the only magic she’s aware of is when she kisses a man he turns into a toad – and the uglier his inner personality the uglier the toad. She firmly believes when Mr Right comes along he won’t turn, but so far she has been out of luck. The book opens with her bringing home a particularly repulsive toad called Nathan, but unlike the other toads before him he doesn’t revert back to human a short time later – he just sits around and annoys her with his toad slime.

What Cindy does do right though is bake – it almost seems as though her latent magic is pouring itself into her cakes and the bakery she works at reaps the rewards of her beautiful creations. Enter one drop-dead gorgeous guy – Timothy – the sort of male who makes your ovaries sit up and sing! He even loves toads!!! He has no idea she is magical – which is just as well because the Witches Council are not happy with Cindy’s ability to turn her boyfriends into toads so are going to remove her powers. Her latest step-father thinks he can help Cindy and agrees to train her. Which could be a good thing; because she’s losing her job, trying to hide the repulsive toad from his girlfriend (looks like he deserved to be a toad for being a two-timing creep) and trying not to kiss the hubba bubba Timothy. To help Cindy not lose her magic, her mother, sister and step-father all try to weld their magic to change Nathan back but he is a particularly stubborn toad!

Cindy is a very likeable character and I loved her two roommates – the three women are a great support team for each other – true friendship!! I was sucked in from the very first page and spent a wonderful Sunday afternoon reading it with a glass of wine in hand.

It was a fun read that had me laughing out loud on quite a few occasions and the second in the series safely downloaded as soon as I had finished.

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.

October Reading Wrap Up

October Reading Wrap Up

Haven’t done one of these for ages – so, without further ado, welcome to my October 2016 reading wrap-up

Total Books Read: 15

Physical books: 5

E-books: 10

New for me Authors: 7

Australian Authors: 5

Best Book of the month:

I read three ‘A’ books this month. I give ‘A’s 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 of course, it should go without saying that I utterly recommend that you read it. If I give a high score to a book it means that it is a top example of whatever genre it belongs to. Someone else may turn their nose up at giving an ‘A’ to a light and fluffy romance, but if it is the best example of a light and fluffy romance then it is just as worthy of an ‘A’ than a dreary angst ridden book that wins some great literary award. If I give a high score to a book it means it is a top example of whatever genre it belongs to. So this month I had 3 top reads. These were – The Fairytale Curse by Marina Finlayson (YA Fantasy), The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns (Women’s Fiction) and Spell Booked by Joyce & Jim Lavene (Cosy Mystery). However, I can only have one ‘Best’ book and this month it goes to THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS by Rachael Johns – see review here.

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. This month, there were two that fitted this description, so Longbourn by Jo Baker and The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes are going to share the dubious honour of being my least favourite books this month. Please remember that this is just my personal opinion and you may find that they may very well be perfect 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, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Historical (set over 50 years ago), Science Fiction, Dystopian, and General Fiction (not sure where to put it). Many of the books were a blend of two or more genre.

The majority of authors read were female – however three males do feature and they are Ashley Capes, Scott Cramer and Jim Lavene. I don’t deliberately set out to not read male authors – in fact male authors are in my top 10 of the year reading list every year.

The Australian authors I read this month were Marina Finlayson, Ashley Capes and Racheal Treasure (they are all new authors for me as well) along with Rachael Johns, Ilsa Evans and Sharon Robards. 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 12 ‘new-for-me’ authors this month were three of my Australians Marina Finlayson, Ashley Capes and Racheal Treasure, along with husband and wife team Joyce & Jim Lavene, Nancy Volkers, Scott Cramer, Jill Thames and Jo Baker. I would happily read most of these new authors again – not sure about Ashley Capes and Jo Baker – but never say never.

The Reading List:

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

A (5 stars) = Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down

The Fairytale Curse by Marina Finlayson – YA Fantasy

The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns – Women’s Fiction

Spell Booked by Joyce & Jim Lavene – Cosy Paranormal Mystery

B (4 stars) = Really Good Read

The Scottish Ferry Tale by Nancy Volkers – Romance

Night of the Purple Moon by Scott Cramer – YA Dystopian Science Fiction

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – Women’s Fiction

C (3 stars) = Above Average – very readable and enjoyable

The Rouseabout by Racheal Treasure – Romance

September by Rosamunde Pilcher – General Fiction

Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance by MC Beaton – Cosy Mystery

Each Way Bet by Ilsa Evans – Women’s Fiction

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames – Cosy Mystery

Playing with Fire by Sharon Robards – Historical

Raindrops on Roses by Millenia Black – Romance

D (2 stars) = Average – it was OK, a bit of a struggle to finish

Longbourn by Jo Baker – Historical

The Fairy Wren by Ashley Capes – General Fiction

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

Title: The Art of Keeping Secrets

Author: Rachael Johns

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Opens: Felicity Bell could think of a number of places she’d rather be on a Friday night than in the pretentiously decorated living room of a house owned by her friend’s no-good ex-husband.

Blurb: They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together and Felicity, Emma and Neve have shared everything … or so they each thought. But they all have a secret they’ve been keeping – Flick’s has to do with her perfect marriage, while divorcee Emma’s is denial about why she is always tired, finally single mum Neve has kept her secret so tight that even her son doesn’t know. One by one the secrets come out into the open and the women have to publically face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.

My Thoughts: I have to say that I have never, ever, read a bad Rachael Johns book. Each time I finish reading one I think wow she can’t get any better – but then I pick up the next one – and she does. THE ART OF KEEPING SECRETS is so fabulous that I read until the wee small hours to finish it, and my husband had to heat us up leftovers for dinner for two nights as I wanted to read rather than cook!!!

I loved learning the secrets of the three women and then following them as they faced the consequences of the secrets being revealed – first alone, then among themselves and then family and friends as the revelations widened. Neve’s revelation comes first when her 17-year-old son says he wants to find his father. Her revelation results in her going to New York, but as the story twists and turns it ends up with all three women heading for the Big Apple for various reasons. While in New York Emma’s secret explodes into being, and Flick finally share’s her earth shattering secret with her friends. Not content with dealing with these events – Johns decides to throw yet another twist out for the reader after the women return to Australia.

It was amazing the way the storylines went, twisting and turning and leaving me breathless one minute, crying the next and then laughing my head off. Johns does not spare her main characters (or her readers) and they are pushed to their very limits of emotions. Each of the women have to make huge decisions, battle temptations, break down and cry then sometimes hurt people they love. Flick, Neve and Emma each take turn to tell their story – moving the overall plot ever forward. Often I was privy to their thoughts before their friends were which drew me deeper into the story. Together the three friends fight each other, say mean things, drink too much, support each other, cry together and have fun together. The three secrets are very realistic and all the characters are very multi-layered and, dare I say, real. Even Emma’s sleazy and horrible ex-husband shows surprising support when he learns what is happening, this act made me look at him quite differently.

If I had one complaint then it was that Flick’s secret was still only partially revealed and the journey was still ahead of her – she had made a decision as to how she was going to handle things, but how that decision was going to pan out was unknown.

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.

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It is October; so that means that in some parts of the world it is autumn, full of red leaves and orange pumpkins. It also means that All Hollow’s Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is fast approaching. And you know what that means? Ghosts, skeletons, witches, zombies and other assorted monsters will start to roam the streets, and houses, of the world. It’s time to scare yourself silly – join in the monster fun, or at the very least curl up with a book guaranteed to give you the heebie-jeebies. A book that forces you to check the outside doors and windows are all securely locked. Then close all the internal doors, turn on your bedside lamp and cover yourself in blankets.

Because everyone knows that a blanket is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – won’t it?

 

I fully believe that horror books are worse than horror movies! Why? Because you can walk out of a movie theatre, or turn the TV off – but even when you close a horror book it sits there on the shelf shifting, creaking while it growls threateningly at you. It watches you. It sneers at your fear.

A well written horror story starts off by curdling the contents of your stomach, then you break out in a fearful cold sweat and your limbs to start trembling; as the fear builds up – because you just won’t stop turning those pages – you start to cry, funny little gaspy noises and then in sheer desperation and armed with the book you walk through the house turning on every light you can find.

Because everyone knows a fully lit up house is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – doesn’t it.

 

Why is reading horror so popular? Why do people get a pleasurable thrill out of reading it? Well there has been research – yes all those taxpayers dollars at work! Apparently thrill can produce dopamine and dopamine is a chemical that is released when we anticipate rewards. Dopamine is also released during sex and other pleasurable activities – personally sex is way more appealing than being scared to death – but that’s story!!! So people read scary books for the thrill – the adrenaline rush – for the dopamine to kick in! Just as an aside dopamine deficiency results in Parkinson’s disease, and people with low dopamine activity may be more prone to addiction. Maybe the drug rehabilitation centres should stock their libraries with horror stories!!!

Because everyone knows that getting a thrill from a scary book is going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – unless it’s his book and you haven’t asked permission to read it!

Of course fans of the Horror genre will scoff and tell you that scary books can’t hurt you because you are not in them, you are nothing other than a passive onlooker to horrifying events. It is not you waking up to see a shadowy figure with a machete raised above her head standing beside your bed, it’s just a make believe character. The mass murders, vampires, zombies, demons, and other horrifying characters are not real. The screaming women being dragged off down a dark hallway, the child being sucked into a TV and the teens in the forest in the middle of the night being dismembered one by one – none of it real.

Because everyone knows that just knowing he’s not real isn’t going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you.

Horror stories have been around for thousands of years, fear is one of our primal emotions it is inbuilt from prehistoric times to keep humans alive; fear of what the outcome could be keeps us away from animals with sharp teeth and dangerous places. Around the campfire the stone age elders would tell stories to the little ones to keep them scared witless and safe. Word of mouth progressed to written stories and now there are many books designed to scare us silly. Horror stories reflect their time in history. Prehistoric man, without the scientific knowledge we have today, would have made up stories to explain what they couldn’t understand would invent monsters in the woods and caves that explained disappearing tribe members or unexplained deaths. The middle ages brought out ghosts and vampires, while modern times lean towards technology with scenarios such as alien invasions, zombie plagues, dystopia and psychological terrors such as chain saw massacres. Then there was revenge – killed people coming back as monsters to wipe out all those involved in their death.

Because everyone knows being dead is not going to stop Freddie Kruger from slaughtering you – again.

SO, if you insist on scaring yourselves to death this Halloween, or indeed any time, here are some links to some ‘horror-able’ book suggestions

· The 50 Scariest Books of all time

· Best Classic Horror Books

· A website devoted to horror fiction

And if you’re not contented in scaring yourself silly – why don’t we let our children horror – here is a link to an article, and book suggestions, telling you why children should read horror.

You can also find this post over on Book Charmers

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Rachael Johns

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