Archive for the ‘AWW2013’ Category

Title: The Kissing Season

Author: Rachael Johns

Genre: Christmas Romance

Opening lines: ‘…Two seconds after Hannah Elliot’s boss – who just happened to be her older brother- left Elliot’s Emporium to meet his fiancée, Nikki, for Christmas shopping, she let out a ‘whoop’ of joy…’

THE KISSING SEASON is a Christmas novella and a wonderful, but quick, romance. The two leads are Hannah and Matteo (Matt). Hannah is a nice girl who makes rash decisions and has not been lucky with her choice of men. Her last mistake was an impetuous decision to be married in Las Vegas and ending up pregnant and divorced. She has returned home to Australia but has not plucked up enough courage to disappoint her mum and dad once again by telling them she is pregnant. She has finally turned a corner and vowed to ignore men, be a ‘grown-up’ now and be the best mother ever. Then, just before Christmas, Matt walks into the family shop and he is a drop dead gorgeous, rich, kind and the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. Hannah finds her resolve to ignore men slipping – and Matt suddenly finds an urge to settle down.

Being a novella the romance has to move along very quickly from the first meeting until the happy ever after. I did feel a bit uncomfortable with their first ‘connection’ in the shop when Matt comes in to buy a bed, it was a little bit too much too soon for me at that point, I guess in hindsight that their reactions to each other fitted with their characters at that point – impetuous and live for the moment. Once this scene was out of the way then growth and respect for each other followed as they made a mental connection and the rest of the story was a lovely romance with the occasional (and much more suitable) spicy scene. While it is a quick and enjoyable read, there is no time for sub plots, other than the pregnancy secret, just purely the romance between Matt and Hannah. You don’t get a chance to really connect with the characters as you do in novels, but Hannah and Matt seemed like nice people that you could have a cup of coffee with. I did like how, despite the shortness of the story, author Rachael Johns managed to evoke a hot Aussie Christmas in a small community; Christmas movie nights, Christmas markets, Christmas trees and the drama filled Christmas day lunch. I love books and stories with Christmas themes so THE KISSING SEASON was a great kick-off to my December Christmas reading blitz. I really recommend the story for all you light Christmas romance lovers, well any light romance lover really! I read it in one sitting with a glass of wine at hand and my Christmas tree twinkling beside me.

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

For more about the author – Click Here

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Title: Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Author: Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Genre: Historical Mystery

Opening lines:It was a quiet St. Kilda morning in the summer of 1929

Blurb: An orchestral conductor has been found dead and Detective Inspector Jack Robinson needs the delightfully incisive and sophisticated Miss Fisher’s assistance to enter a world in which he is at sea. Hugh Tregennis, not much liked by anyone, has been murdered in a most flamboyant mode by a killer, or killers, with a point to prove. At the same time, the dark curls, disdainful air and the lavender eyes of mathematician and code-breaker Rupert Sheffield are taking Melbourne by storm. They’ve certainly taken the heart of Phryne’s old friend from the trenches of WW1, John Wilson. Phryne recognises Sheffield as a man who attracts danger and is determined to protect John from harm. Even with the faithful Dot, Mr and Mrs Butler, and all in her household ready to pull their weight, Phryne’s task is complex. While Mendelssohn’s Elijah, memories of the Great War, and the science of deduction ring in her head, Phryne’s past must also play its part as MI6 become involved in the tangled web of murders.

My Thoughts: The Phryne Fisher mystery series is top of my ‘must buy immediately’ book list, and I know I am always going to enjoy her fun investigations Phryne is a beautiful, intelligent, wealthy and independent thoroughly modern Miss. She smokes, drinks, has casual sex and drives her cars fast – however she is very kind-hearted and always on the side of the underdog. Phryne has a knack for solving mysteries, using her resources and the talents of her extended household, family and friends. MURDER AND MENDELSSOHN is a fast paced, humourous story with settings that change from rich and glamorous to utterly poverty stricken. No matter what the setting is Phryne fits in as she goes about her sleuthing. This time she has a series of murders to solve, sing in a choir and help an old friend find true love.

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

For more about the author – Click Here

Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood is book # 38 for AWW2013

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review.  Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $22.99

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Title: Nobody but Him

Author: Victoria Purman

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Opening lines: “…’Excuse me waitress!’…”

Blurb: At eighteen, Julia Jones left for the city with a head full of grand plans for an exciting life that certainly didn’t include her home town of Middle Point – a main street with a pub – or Ryan Blackburn. Now fifteen years later she has come home to finalise her mother’s estate and she runs smack bang into the town’s new champion who is the same Ryan Blackburn. The sensible thing to do is to stay away from him and head back to Melbourne as fast as her stilettos can carry her. But Julia finds his offer of a helping hand and a hot body too delicious to refuse and dives into a reckless, one-time fling. What she doesn’t realise is that tomorrow has a way of sneaking up, and that saying goodbye to her home town – and to Ryan – is much harder the second time around.

My Thoughts: NOBODY BUT HIM is a debut novel and the first of the ‘Boys of Summer’ trilogy; it is quite a feather in a debut authors cap to be signed up for 3 books before the first one even hits the shelves! It took me a chapter or two to settle into the story – but when I did I loved it. Set in a fictional town on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsular in South Australia I am familiar with area having holidayed there myself, although I was there for the wine rather than the surf!

In winter the small coastal towns are left to their own devices and the local businesses struggle to make ends meet until the summer comes around and there is an invasion of city dwellers getting away from it all. NOBODY BUT HIM brings to life this almost symbiotic relationship between the long term residents and the city folk. On the one hand the residents resent the influx of tourists, who take over the town for a few months each summer and then leave as suddenly as they arrive; on the other hand they need the money to survive. Julia left town because she felt that the summer visitors were looking down on her and the other permanent residents making her feel less than important, Julia wanted to be important too so left to go to university in Melbourne where she made a very good life for herself. Back in her home town she has every intention of just packing up and leaving forever, however she gradually comes to face the fact that she has turned into the very type of person she always despised, and that maybe not all the summer visitors are bad, and that maybe there can me a melding of the two factions. Maybe, just maybe she has been wrong about everything – including Ryan. Maybe now is the time to think seriously about what she really wants out of life.

I loved how Julia grew as a character, how she was willing to compromise and see another point of view. The same with Ryan, the story of how he went from being a summer surfie boy to a well-respected business man make interesting reading. When it came to each other though, both Julia and Ryan were stubborn and willing to believe the worst about each other. Gradually as the story unfolds along with some heart in mouth moments the two gradually realise that they are meant for each other. It took some doing but they were surrounded by some very good friends such as Dan and Lizzie – who I am hoping are going to appear in one of the next two book which I will be keeping an eye out for.

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

For more about the author – Click Here

Nobody but Him by Victoria Purman is book # 37 for AWW2013

With thanks to Harlequin Mira and the author for my copy to read and review

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Title: Outback Dreams

Author: Rachael Johns

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Opening lines: “…I hate you both and I’m not coming …”

Blurb: Faith Forrester is at a crossroads. Single, thirty and living on a farm in a small Western Australian town, she’s sick of being treated like a kitchen slave by her brother and father. Ten years ago, her mother died of breast cancer, and Faith has been treading water ever since. She wants to get her hands dirty on the family farm. She wants to prove to herself that she’s done something worthwhile with her life. For as long as he can remember, Daniel ‘Monty’ Montgomery has been Faith’s best friend. When he was ten, his parents sold the family property and moved to Perth, and ever since, Monty’s dreamed of having his own farm. So for the last ten years, he’s been back on the land, working odd jobs and saving every dollar to put toward his dream. Now he finally has the deposit. Now Faith has embarked on a mission to raise money for a charity close to her heart, and Monty’s dream property comes on the market, things seem like they are falling into place for them both.

My Thoughts: OUTBACK DREAMS was one of my top reads for September, I found myself dragged into the world of Faith and Monty from page one and not allowed to leave until the very final page. Part of the myriad of reasons I loved this book was because I related to some of the backstories in the book resulting in it becoming very personal for me. The first back story was the one about the old girls network at the private girls’ boarding school that Faith attended. Like her I attended one and related to sometimes feeling like a duck out of water with the other girls who were rich and either titled or the offspring of famous people. I have never put myself in a position to compete in the old girls functions – but could totally relate how Faith needed to do it. The other back story that I really related to the most was that of the charity that Faith decided to raise funds for – Dogs for Autism – and the linking story of Monty’s brother Will. Whilst the Dogs for Autism charity is fictional there really are organisations that train companion dogs for the disabled in Australia. Faith picked this charity because Monty’s little brother Will had high-functioning Autism; this struck a chord because our oldest grandson is also a high-functioning autistic. The Autism Spectrum covers a wide range of behavioural issues and affects thousands in Australia and around the world. I have learnt so much since our grandson was diagnosed; he is lucky in that he has been diagnosed early and will be able to live a normal life. Some children are not diagnosed and can often end up being the victims of bullying; even those who are diagnosed can end up being bullied. OUTBACK DREAMS gently highlights the issue of having a family member with Autism and how it can affect the whole family. It also was able to convey through Will that with the right intervention high-functioning autistic people can lead normal lives. OUTBACK DREAMS was a great read, a perfect blend of romance, believable conflict, perfect miscommunication and a happy ever after which will melt the most romance reading resistant heart. Rachel Johns brings the outback community alive and makes excellent use of humour to break up potentially traumatic scenes

“…Daisy looked up and Faith swore she actually smiled. Damn traitorous cow. She was such a hussy…”

More importantly there is genuine growth in each of the main characters, both Monty and Faith have to realise that what is missing from their lives is each other. And even once they have realised this then there is another hurdle to overcome.

There were a couple of the supporting characters who obviously need to find their own perfect match – Adam and Ruby. Which is a bit of a lead in because OUTBACK DREAMS is actually the start of a three book series all set in the small Western Australian fictional farming town of Bunyip Bay. Each can be read as a standalone even though the connections to the other books will be there. First Ruby and then Adam will reappear in these next books. I am SO keeping an eagle eye out for the upcoming releases of Outback Blaze (due in January 2014) and Outback Ghost (June 2014).

Rating: 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.

For more about the author – Click Here

NB: Assistant Dogs: My husband and I have been supporting Assistance Dogs Australia http://www.assistancedogs.org.au for years, and know that it costs them $27,000 to train just one dog; they cover all disabilities however Smart Pups http://www.smartpups.org.au/autism-assist-dogs concentrate on autistic children and those that suffer from seizures and they need a similar amount per dog to bring up to the standard needed to assist the child they are assigned too. Both organisations would welcome any donations with open arms.

Outback Dreams by Rachael Johns is book # 36 for AWW2013

With thanks to Harlequin Mira and the author for my copy to read and review

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Title: The Perfect Wife

Author: Katherine Scholes

Genre: Historical

Opening lines: “…Kitty shifted impatiently in her seat. The journey seemed to have dragged on forever but now the end was near. Soon she would be reunited with her husband and they would start their marriage over …”

Blurb: Kitty Hamilton arrives in Tanganyika with high hopes for her new life. An exciting adventure halfway across the world could be just what she and Theo need to recover from the scandal that almost tore them apart. She is determined to play the role of the perfect wife, but her dreams soon begin to unravel. Theo is distracted with his important British government post, and while Kitty had imagined doing valuable work of her own, she finds that choosing the right frock to wear to the club is the biggest challenge of her day. In this wild and foreign land, where very different powers prevail, the head can’t always rule the heart. As old wounds resurface and new passions ignite, Kitty and Theo confront emotions that push them beyond the boundaries of all that they know and believe in.

My Thoughts: The idea for THE PERFECT WIFE started with a conversation author Katherine Scholes had with her father. He had lived in Tanzania in east Africa for 30 years and mentioned in passing the ill-fated Tanganyika Groundnut Scheme and how in the late 50’s he had been to the town nicknamed ‘Londoni’ where the British staff lived. From this conversation the book has now come into being. I loved peeking into life as a British Colonial in 1940s Tanzania (not so different to life in Nigeria over on the west coast of Africa in the late 1950s where I was brought up). Kitty found out that houses were provided by the British Government, the grandeur of them depended on your position with the company, the men went out to work while the women socialised. The white community had African servants, nannies for the children and of course the club which was central to all social activity. There was a strict pecking order as well, the higher up in the service a woman’s husband was, then the higher was her social position in the pack of wives. Kitty was a country girl from the Australian bush who had travelled to England to train as an artist before WWII and ended up married to the son of the local Lord of the Manor. She was like a fish out of water as she tried so hard to be the perfect wife without actually understanding the rules. Unlike the other women, Kitty had attempted to prepare herself for life in Africa by learning Swahili and basic bush first aid. She decides to help out at the local missionary – doling out food and rudimentary medical care to the local African prisoners. The story progresses by seeing Kitty’s character grow through her interactions between the other wives, the missionaries and local villagers. It also shows her relationship with her husband deteriorating as he starts to drink heavily and comes up with some hare-brained ideas. That Theo is suffering from ‘shell shock’ after seeing action in WWII is only part of his problem, dealing with scandal the caused them to be living in Africa is another part, but a final part has to deal with the fact that as the cosseted son of landed gentry he is not used to having his motives questioned. Gradually in the background the story builds up to its shocking conclusion. I really liked Kitty as a character, while not liking Theo at all. I think that without the scandal the marriage would not have lasted. As for the scandal it is not something that would really raise an eyebrow nowadays, but at that time and considering the position of Theo’s family I could see that it would be front page news, but not enough to really need Theo and Kitty to leave the country. The scandal would only have lasted until a new one hit the front page. Theo’s demands that she cut her hair, give up being an artist and move to a new country where no-one would know her were impractical and cruel. It took Kitty a long time to realise that she needed to be true to herself and not try and be something she shouldn’t.

THE PERFECT WIFE was an easy and enjoyable read and sucked me into a world that I half remembered from my childhood and glad that I came to Australia away from it all because I really think I would have been a Kitty. Katherine Scholes has written a few books before this and I am certainly going to hunt them out.

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

For more about the author – Click Here

The Perfect Wife by Katherine Scholes is book # 35 for AWW2013

With thanks to Penguin Books Australia and the author via Netgalley.

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Title: Curse of the Scarab (Big Honey Dog Mysteries #1)

Author: H.Y. Hanna

Genre: Young Adult/Mystery

Blurb: Honey the Great Dane enjoys a pretty peaceful life: walking her human, checking Peemail at the park until the arrival of a puppy named Bean turns her life upside down. But when Bean goes missing – together with other neighbourhood pups – Honey sets out on a dangerous quest to find them. Joined by her canine friends, Honey tackles mysterious paw prints and sinister hieroglyphics as clues lead them to a deserted cemetery. But an ancient Egyptian curse has awakened and time is running out … Can Honey solve a cryptic riddle in time to save the puppies? And should she trust Max, a Pit Bull with a murky past, who is hiding secrets of his own?

My Thoughts: CURSE OF THE SCARAB has it all, a rollicking adventure with friendship, danger, laughter, bravery and dog treats. The story is told from the point of view of the dogs in the story – with a few other assorted beasties helping along the way. It is a very good mystery quest but does have some quite scary bits towards the end so definitely for the older reader. Honey is wonderful, a friend of mine use to show and breed Great Danes so I know author H.Y. Hanna has got the quirks of the breed down to a tee, and she must have come across the odd Beagle as well because I am sure she based Biscuit on my food driven Beagle!!! Honourable mentions have to go to Suka, Tyson and the battered old warhorse Max. Their foe is sssssssuitably insane – a delicious baddie who would raise the hackles of any dog hero or heroine. There were lots of lovely touches, I particularly liked the use of the word ‘peemail’ to describe when dogs do their thing as they pass bushes, trees and interesting clumps of grass. CURSE OF THE SCARAB is the first of a proposed series and I would have no hesitation in reading any further adventures that Honey and her friends are drawn into.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.

For more about the author – Click Here

With thanks to the author via Netgalley

Curse of the Scarab by H.Y. Hanna is book # 34 for AWW2013

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Title: Ill-Gotten Gains

Author: Ilsa Evans

Genre: Mystery

Blurb: The country town of Majic is about to celebrate a milestone. It’s been 150 years since the founding father, Petar Majic, rode into the bush after a liquid lunch, vowing to build a house at whatever spot he reached by sunset. However, what happened next isn’t quite what town legend would have you believe. A murder-suicide leads to the unveiling of a century-old scandal and a trail left by a trio of long-dead women. Nell’s investigations are hampered both by the arrival of the handsome district detective and by her family whose dramas almost eclipse that of the town itself. Nell will need her wits about her as the mystery of Majic begins casting its shadow into the present day, putting Nell and her family in grave danger. In the end, Nell must decide whether it is a tale of epic fortitude, or treachery and ill-gotten gains, before the past catches up with her.

My Thoughts: ILL-GOTTEN GAINS is the sequel to Nefarious Doings that I read, and loved, last month. I love Nell, I can so relate to her on many, many levels. For me, she is a character that is so believable that I felt I could knock on the door and have a cuppa and gossip with no problems. Various aspects of Nell’s daughters are each based on one of my daughters I am sure. Or are all teens like this? Maybe a bit of both! When Nell and her daughter make an important discovery about the town’s founding father she tells the head of the historical society, that night he rings her in a state of excitement wanting to see Nell in person to tell her his great discovery. The next morning Nell finds him dead in his office – with the door locked from the inside. Shortly after there is an attempt on Nell’s life so things become serious for her. Trouble is her life is a bit complicated right now, daughters doing their own thing; various surprise pregnancies; an ex who is insisting she sells the family home and then the gorgeous Detective Sergeant Ashley Armistead turns up to investigate the murder, Nell is not sure what to tackle first.

ILL-GOTTEN GAINS is very well written with a good mystery that has you suspecting everyone at one stage or another. The book is full of believable but quirky characters complete with a ‘normal’ family that the story is built around. As with the first book, each chapter starts with a funny response to one of Nell’s column articles which adds to the overall humour of the book. Readers will laugh as they get drawn into the tale as they try alongside Nell to discover just who the murderer is. All is revealed in a heart stopping finale when Majic’s 150th birthday celebrations swing into action and the town is choc a bloc with people. I do hope there is book three not too far away as I would love to spend more time in Majic.

Rating: B – Great. I really enjoyed reading it.

For more about the author – Click Here

Ill-Gotten Gains by Ilsa Evans is book # 33 for AWW2013

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