The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield is an engaging story of regrets and redemption set in small-town America.
After almost a decade's absence, Rachel Fl The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield is an engaging story of regrets and redemption set in small-town America.
After almost a decade's absence, Rachel Flood is back in Quinn, Montana (Population:956) to make amends for the devastation she wrought as a wild teen to an openly hostile collection of family, (ex) friends and enemies. After a week of scathing silence, pointed glares and outright threats, Rachel is on the verge of admitting defeat when her mother, Laverna Flood, the proprietor of one of Quinn's two taverns 'The Dirty Shame', is targeted in a robbery and her injuries require Rachel to take her mother's place behind the bar, and on the local women's softball team.
This is a story full of family dysfunction, addiction, friendship, failure and forgiveness. Rachel's search for redemption is complicated, and no-one is inclined to make it easy on her, least of all her self.
Fifield has created an eccentric and often outlandish cast, including the uncompromising Laverna, the frightening Red and Black Mabel's (distinguished by a rotten smile), Rachel's no nonsense sponsor, Athena, and the members of the softball team. The town's three rookie firefighter volunteers are all named Jim, the Police Chief runs the local AA meetings, and Reverend Foote is determined to convert the town's sinners.
Of all the characters however is Rachel's neighbour, twelve year old Jake, who is the most endearing. A devotee of Madonna and Jackie Collins, with an individual sense of style and fashion, he is mature beyond his years, but his effeminate manner infuriates his brutal stepfather. Jake is one of the few residents of Quinn willing to give Rachel a chance, and a delightful bond develops between them.
Though the humour is a little uneven and the plot not particularly original, The Flood Girls is written with heart and a genuine feel for small town life. A strong debut....more
I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford's previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn' I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford's previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn't put it down til I finished the last page, just minutes before my husband's alarm woke him for work at 5am.
After enduring years of guilt, heartbreak, and regret, Charlotte Townsend has finally found the strength to leave her past behind. In a new town, with a new apartment, and a new name, Carly has enrolled in college and is looking towards her future, but three days into her new life she wakes to find a stranger in her bedroom. When the police answer Carly's call for help, they find no sign of the man and assure her it was likely a crime of opportunity. Though shaken by the intrusion Carly refuses to let the incident destroy her fledgling confidence...until then it happens again, and then again.
Darkest Place is an absorbing tale of psychological suspense. The tension builds slowly, gathering momentum until you realise you are holding your breath in anxious anticipation.
"She wants to scream. It’s building in her chest. Trapped there, scratching at her lungs as though her ribs are the bars holding it back. She hears breathing. Not her own. Deep and unhurried. It whispers across her face like a warm cloth. It turns her skin to ice. She lashes out. Hits, twists, kicks. She sees it in her mind, feels it in her muscles. But it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t move. Neither does he. She sees him now. A shape in the darkness. Above her, black and motionless. He is watching. She watches back. Fear roaring through her bones, pulse thumping in her ears. Her voice is wedged in her throat now and choking her. No. Something else is squeezing, pushing down, making blood pound in her face. Warm hand, hard fingers. She doesn’t want to see. Doesn’t want to feel. She shuts her eyes. Waits. "
Carly is a complex character, and given her emotionally fragility, I was never quite sure if I could trust her perception of events as the story progressed. The police certainly have their doubts about the reliability of her reports, and Carly's psychiatrist offers a rational opinion that could explain her experiences, but I was sympathetic to her distress.
"She caught sight of herself in the mirror. Hair a mess, face tear-stained. Dark-ringed, pale, wild-eyed. And she spun away, the image burned onto her retinas. Distraught, panicked, confused. She looked like Charlotte. No, worse than that. She looked crazy."
I have to admit I was ambivalent about the ending, though it works within the context of character and story, I didn't find it wholly satisfying, though I can't really reveal why I feel that way without the risk of spoilers. Nevertheless, there is closure and a sense of triumph and hope.
Darkest Place is Ford's fifth novel and I would say her best to date. Clever, thrilling and gripping. ...more
A fast paced, action packed dystopian romance, Mercury Striking is the first in a series from Rebecca Zanetti.
After the world is devastated by a mutat A fast paced, action packed dystopian romance, Mercury Striking is the first in a series from Rebecca Zanetti.
After the world is devastated by a mutated alien virus that usually either kills it's victims or turns them into psychotic killers, Lynn Harmony, a former director at the CDC, is probably the only person left alive who can find a cure. She desperately needs information from a lab in Los Angeles but to get there she has to safely traverse the dangers of the lawless country while eluding the President's men and then beg favour from Jax Mercury - nicknamed the King of L.A.
Zanetti has created a rich and intriguing world, the population of America all but decimated by the Scorpius Syndrome. Of the few that survive the virus most become 'Rippers', uncontrollable serial killers, but a handful recover most of whom develop varying degrees of sociopathic behaviour.
Small enclaves of survivors fight to endure the destruction of society and its infrastructure across the US including the stronghold 'Vanguard' in L.A. led by ex special ops soldier and former gang member, Jax Mercury who protects a group of around 500 men, women and children.
Jax is the only one placed to help Lynn find 'Myriad' and complete an important task but with the stain of her glowing blue heart and a presidential bounty on her head she is taking a huge risk when she seeks his help. Jax grants her request for asylum under strict conditions as eager as she to find a cure, but neither is prepared for the relationship that develops between them or the consequences of their relationship.
This is story with plenty of grit, involving plenty of action including deadly firefights and chases, and with some brutal scenes of violence and death, but at its heart Mercury Striking is a romance. . It's all very 'alpha male' meets 'feisty damsel in distress' but I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the physical intimacy between Lynn and Jax sizzles (though I really could have done without the spanking scene).
The secondary characters, both allies and enemies, add interest and breadth to the story. I'm guessing that Raze and Vivienne will be the couple to feature in the next book to continue the series.
A quick, exciting, escapist read with an interesting premise and appealing characters, I enjoyed Mercury Striking and I'll be looking for the next in The Scorpius Syndrome series.
Hold On To Me is another sweet and sexy contemporary romance in Victoria Purman's 'Boys of Summer' series.
Set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Austr Hold On To Me is another sweet and sexy contemporary romance in Victoria Purman's 'Boys of Summer' series.
Set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, this novel features Luca Morelli, the younger brother of Anna from Our Kind of Love, and local boutique owner Stella Ryan. The pair meet when 'Style by Stella' is destroyed by fire and Anna insists her brother, a contractor, helps her rebuild.
The chemistry between the characters is obvious from their first meeting, despite the age difference (Luca is 6 years younger than her). At 29 and still establishing his new business, Luca hasn't given much thought to settling down but he is intrigued by the feisty, if prickly, Stella. While he is one of the least complicated heroes of this series, Stella is perhaps the most complex heroine. Fiercely independent, a tumultuous childhood and a devastating betrayal has ensured she trusts no one. She is certain she isn't interested in any type of relationship, but Luca slowly wears down her defenses, and Stella is eventually forced to confront her demons.
The Grass is Greener is Loretta Hill's fifth contemporary novel and like the last, The Maxwell Sisters, this novel is also set largely among the viney The Grass is Greener is Loretta Hill's fifth contemporary novel and like the last, The Maxwell Sisters, this novel is also set largely among the vineyards in the fertile southern region of Western Australia.
"The long and short of it is....Bronwyn needed a sabbatical from the law, so she left town to work on my family's vineyard. I wanted to get back into law so I marched in and took her job....It was a great plan from both of our perspectives and it would have been perfect-..."
Succumbing to family obligation has left best friends, Bronwyn Eddings and Claudia Franklin, miserable. Despite her pedigree, Bronwyn detests practicing law in Perth and dreams of another life, while Claudia resents having been compelled to abandon her own fledgling law career to work at her family's failing winery. The solution seems simple, they'll swap places and both get exactly what they want.
Of course it's not nearly that easy and Hill introduces plenty of conflict for both of her protagonists to work through, developing circumstances that engender mild tension and drama. Bronwyn's high profile mother is furious when her daughter abandons her career without a backward glance and is insistent that Bronwyn return to the fold. The Franklin family, still struggling with the aftermath of family tragedy, are hurt by Claudia's leaving and resistant to the idea of Bronwyn taking her place. Additionally Claudia and Bronwyn both find themselves caught up in a strange situation involving a pregnant Mastiff, a possible dog fighting ring and a local crime heavyweight. Romance also features heavily in The Grass is Greener. The return of Jack Franklin, Claudia's eldest brother, to the vineyard after a five year absence reignites Bronwyn's long held desire for him. Meanwhile Claudia finds the dark good looks and intelligence of her immediate boss, Sebastian Rowlands irresistible, despite his breathtaking arrogance.
"The truth is. it was never about swapping our lives exactly. It was always about making the most of our own.... So...what you’re really saying is, the grass is greener on the other side, but only if you water it."
The Grass Is Greener is a warm and engaging story about friendship, autonomy, family and love from Loretta Hill. Enjoy it on a summer's afternoon with a glass of Western Australian wine....more
Honky Tonk Samurai is the 11th book by Joe R Lansdale to feature the entertaining adventures of best friends Hap 'a former 60s activist and self-procl Honky Tonk Samurai is the 11th book by Joe R Lansdale to feature the entertaining adventures of best friends Hap 'a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel' and Leonard 'a black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper and vanilla cookies'.
Their language may be crude, their banter often tasteless but it's impossible not be charmed by these redneck tough guys whose hearts are usually in the right place. Hap and Leonard may have casual regard for the law, but they share a strong sense of justice, they fiercely defend each other, those they love, and those who need their help.
"I don’t think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, and then something comes loose and starts to rattle, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh. I’m starting this at the point in the carnival ride when the bolt has started to come loose."
In Honky Tonk Samurai, Brett, Hap's live in lady, purchases Marvin Hanson's private detective agency now that he has been rehired as police chief. The new agency's first client is an elderly woman who blackmails Hap and Leonard into searching for her granddaughter, who has been missing for five years. Their investigation leads them to an upscale dealership selling much more than just cars, and puts a target on their back.
The plot is fairly simple and a bit of a stretch, but its all in good fun. There is plenty of action and violence on offer as Hap and Leonard, with a little help, take on a biker gang, the Dixie Mafia and a psychotic brotherhood of assassins. The humour is cheeky, often coarse, but the rapid fire banter is laugh out loud funny.
Readers familiar with the series will welcome appearances from characters such as Vanilla Ice, Cason and Jim Bob Luke. Lansdale's descriptions of the characters that populate his novel are as colourful and vivid as ever.
"That’s when the door opened and a lady came in who was older than dirt but cleaner. She had a cane, which explained the cricket, but the elephant walk was a little more confusing, as she wasn’t much bigger than a minute. She had more dyed red hair than she had the head for. That hair seemed to be an entity unto itself, mounded and teased and red as blood. You could have shaved her like a sheep and knitted a sweater with all that hair, maybe have enough left over for at least one sock or, if not that, a change purse. Her face was dry-looking. She had a lot of makeup on it, as if she were trying to fill a ditch, or several. Her clothes were a little too young for her age, which was somewhere near to that of a mastodon that had survived major climate change but was wounded by it. She had on bright red tight jeans and a sleeveless blue shirt that showed hanging flesh like water wings under her arms. Her breasts were too big, or maybe they were too exposed; the tops of them stuck out of her push-up bra. They looked like aging melons with rot spots, which I supposed were moles or early cancer. "
The last few pages came as a shock but I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that another Hap and Leonard book (Rusty Puppy) is on its way, and I'm looking forward to the premiere of Hap and Leonard on Sundance TV in March 2016 ...more
Confucius Jane is an engaging contemporary romance novel from debut author Katie Lynch.
It's from the office window of her uncle's fortune cookie fact Confucius Jane is an engaging contemporary romance novel from debut author Katie Lynch.
It's from the office window of her uncle's fortune cookie factory that aspiring poet Jane first spies the blonde haired woman who regularly lunches at the noodle shop across the street but it's only at the repeated urging of her 11 year old cousin Minette she finally introduces herself. Sutton St James is just weeks away from finishing her medical studies and is anxious about taking the next step in her career, she doesn't have time for a new relationship, but is disarmed by Jane's friendly approach.
The physical attraction between the couple is strong, illustrated by several steamy intimate scenes later on. And though they have very different backgrounds and ambitions, it is obvious as they get to know one another that Jane is the ying to Sutton's yang.
Issues common to any relationship are explored such as trust, independence and commitment, and as expected in a romance novel, Lynch puts several obstacles in the couples path, the most challenging when Sutton is faced with a devastating family crisis. Lynch also touches on some more serious issues including medical ethics, Multiple Sclerosis and media exploitation. There is also a hint of Chinese mysticism related to the fortunes Jane writes.
Set in New York's Chinatown, Lynch's vivid portrayal of its community, from the people to its crowded streets and stores, are charming. Foodies will enjoy the delicious descriptions of fragrant noodles and hot Chinese dumplings, and may even be tempted to try fried chicken feet.
In general the writing is of a good standard, and I enjoyed Jane and Sutton's flirty banter, though some of the dialogue doesn't ring quite true, veering into cliched sentimentalism on occasion. The pacing is appropriate and the story concludes with a satisfying HEA.
Confucius Jane is the first romance novel I have read featuring a lesbian relationship, and I found it to be an enjoyable read....more
Slim Pickins' in Fat Chance, Texas is the sequel to Celia Bonaduce's Welcome To Fat Chance, Texas which saw a disparate group of people each forced to Slim Pickins' in Fat Chance, Texas is the sequel to Celia Bonaduce's Welcome To Fat Chance, Texas which saw a disparate group of people each forced to make something of a sun-blasted ghost town in the Texas hill country within six months to earn a cash bequest.
By the time pastry chef Fernando Cruz arrives a year later looking for a new challenge, only a handful of the group, those with no where else to go, remain in the broken down town. Despite the improbability of success, Fernando decides to open a BBQ restaurant to cater for nearby ranchers and the residents hope it will mean a second chance for their town.
Romance, drama and a touch of suspense combine to create an enjoyable novel.
Fat Chance is full of quirky characters including the grizzled Pappy, carpenter Powderkeg and farmer Dymphna as well as a menagerie of animals, including a bloodhound named Thud, a mule called Elvis and a buzzard named Fancy.
Each resident contributes to the town and the mission to revive it in unique ways, occasionally sidetracked by their own romantic mini dramas, disasters and a wayward prize longhorn named Rocket.
Slim Pickins' in Fat Chance offers southern charm and an eccentric Texan flavour. A quick, fun read.
"'A ticket to Australia,' she said faintly.'Wonderful Gran, Louis, thank you so much.' She forced her mouth to curve upwards into something resembling "'A ticket to Australia,' she said faintly.'Wonderful Gran, Louis, thank you so much.' She forced her mouth to curve upwards into something resembling a smile.'This is great. Just great.'"
When Beth Poole's grandmother gifts her an airline ticket from Yorkshire to Western Australia for her birthday she's reluctant to vacation in a country in which every living thing seems to be lethal. Nevertheless, Beth books a months stay in a holiday cottage in George Creek looking forward to a few weeks of peace and quiet.
Loosely linked to Georgina Penney's previous novels, Irrepressible You and Fly In Fly Out, Summer Harvest is a lovely contemporary romance novel set in the the south west winery region of Australia.
The focus of the story is on the relationship that develops between Beth and Clayton Hardy, whose family owns the winery next door to where Beth is staying. They enjoy an intimate holiday fling which becomes complicated when Beth reveals a secret she has been keeping. An additional subplot involves a fractious relationship between Clayton's father, Rob Hardy and new winery hire, Gwen Stone, who have a history neither are willing to disclose. Both plotlines also explore the themes of loss, grief and moving on.
The characters are well drawn. Beth is a strong character, having survived the loss of her family and the desertion of her husband, as well as breast cancer, and Clayton is an appealing lead. I enjoyed the supporting characters including Beth's outspoken grandmother Violet and Angie, the matriarch of the Evangaline Rest Winery, chatty Laura and her cheeky brother Jeff. Fred, the perpetually stoned farm hand, is good for a laugh too.
Penney's writing style is warm, I enjoyed the very Aussie humour and the witty dialogue. The emotions are believable, the intimate scenes between Beth and Clay are well written and the story is well paced.
Summer Harvest is an engaging read and the ending satisfied the romantic in me.
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan explores the myth that women can 'have it all'.
Alice Pearse has a part time job she loves, reviewing books for a maga A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan explores the myth that women can 'have it all'.
Alice Pearse has a part time job she loves, reviewing books for a magazine, which allows her to spend plenty of time with her three children but when her husband announces he has quit his job Alice is forced to find full time work. An exciting opportunity with a start up company seems to present the ideal solution but as the demands of her new job begin to overwhelm her family life, Alice is left off-balance.
Suddenly finding herself with a lot on her plate... a mercurial boss, tension in her marriage, and her father's harrowing ill-health, Alice struggles to cope with the stress. There were lots of things I could broadly relate to in regards to Alice's new challenges, however it's an upper middle class, and rather clichéd, perspective of the struggle to find a work/life balance.
The most affecting scenes in the novel involved Alice's father decline due to a recurrence of cancer. I enjoyed Egan's send up of 'Scroll', (though I have to admit I admired the original concept), I can't abide the idea of submitting to all that corporate craziness. Book lovers will enjoy the literary references sprinkled among the pages.
A Window Opens was a quick and easy read, well written, but not one I found particularly original or memorable in terms of plot or character. ...more
Perhaps if I had read The Golem of Hollywood I would have found The Golem of Paris a more interesting read. As it happened I found it difficult to con Perhaps if I had read The Golem of Hollywood I would have found The Golem of Paris a more interesting read. As it happened I found it difficult to connect with the characters and a little lost at times when it came to the story.
The Kellerman's (father and son) combine mystery and Jewish mysticism in this novel that sees LAPD detective Jacob Levy intrigued by a cold case double murder of a young mother and her son. And when Jacob's catatonic mother reacts violently to a glimpse of his case file, he is determined to investigate further, leading him to Paris, where his present and past collide.
Dark and twisty, The Golem of Paris is a complex read, and at over 500 pages I found it a little long but there were times when I was caught up in the mystery. ...more