My first time reading Fiona Palmer, surprising, since I'm actually familiar with a few of her titles. Anyway, not only was this a delightful rural romMy first time reading Fiona Palmer, surprising, since I'm actually familiar with a few of her titles. Anyway, not only was this a delightful rural romance with wonderfully endearing characters, The Saddler Boys has substance, highlighting topical issues of domestic violence, single parenting, rural school closures and small town viability.
Set in the actual town of Lake Biddy in Western Australia, 22 year old Nat leaves her family and boyfriend Greg in Perth to take up her first teacher's posting at the small country school. While unfamiliar with remote rural life, she's enthusiastic, genuine about embracing the experience and she's warmly welcomed by the locals ...
None more so than 8 year old student Billy who blossoms under Nat's instruction and compassionate nature. My heart melted at the first mention of little Billy and when we learn of his Nana's death from metastatic melanoma, I was undone. My boys had a beautiful bond with their Nana who died from Melanoma 7 years ago.
Palmer's passion for the rural landscape is vivid on the page, farming, shearing, seeding, P&C fundraisers, the genuine sense of community, neighbourly generosity and compassion. I loved that almost as much as I loved the bond developing between Nat and the Saddler boys, Billy and hardworking single dad, Drew. The Saddler boys, big and little won my heart!
Family, friendship, love and community with a thoroughly authentic Australian flavour. ...more
I jumped on the Colleen Hoover bandwagon just last year and 3 books in I'll happily say I'm a CoHo fan. November 9 has that unmistakable Colleen HooveI jumped on the Colleen Hoover bandwagon just last year and 3 books in I'll happily say I'm a CoHo fan. November 9 has that unmistakable Colleen Hoover stamp ...
Maybe Someday had music, Confess had artwork and in November 9 the point of difference is the uniqueness of the story ... Fallon and Ben meet in unusual circumstances and continue to meet up each year on the same date; with absolutely no contact outside of that date.
What a wonderful mix of sweet, angsty, funny, heart-achy messiness. And that twist; did not see that coming. I don't have a problem with tragic pasts in fiction, I'm someone whose real-life past reads like a soap opera ... so November 9 #gotmerightinthefeels
I loved the bookie references, tongue-in-cheek, clever, funny but there were still things that bothered me (that note from Ben's mother was a biggie) and a couple of throw-up-in-my-mouth lines.
"Baby," he says, his lips forming a smile. "You already made this the best sex I've had and I'm not even inside you yet."
November 9 was not issue-free (for me) and yet here I am loving on it ...
Colleen Hoover's writing is just so darn addictive!!
Not just right book, right time but the perfect feel-good read for one of those not-feeling-so-good days. Which is kind of weird b4.5 stars loved it!!
Not just right book, right time but the perfect feel-good read for one of those not-feeling-so-good days. Which is kind of weird because this isn't a fluffy romance or even just a hot romantic romp, although it is hot. This romance has issues and I love issues.
And I read it in one sitting, which if you've been reading my blog lately you'll know how not-like-me that is ... Racing the Sun kicked my snail's pace to the curb. It was heat and heart and I loved it.
I suddenly remember where I am. Sad lemon house. Capri. New job. Traumatized twins. Hot mysterious Italian boss.
Sums it up well.
The breeze wafts in from the sea and carries the scent of fresh herbs and bracing salt and lemons, the way I imagine sunshine should smell.
When July slides into August like a hot greasy egg sliding off a frying pan, Capri becomes its most unbearable.
The descriptions of the Amalfi coast, Positano, Naples, Capri and the Villa dei Limoni Tristi had me dying for my own slice of Italy ... I settled for pizza. At least it was real Italian pizza :)
I loved Amber, she's adventurous and brave and she tells it like it is.
Somehow, and I don't know how, because that banana hammock is just begging for people to stare, I manage to tear my eyes away from him just as he looks up.
I turn around, about to ask Derio and his penis whether this is the place to go in the water, but he strides to the edge of the water and does a perfect swan dive off.
HA banana hammock :) Guys in Australia mostly wear boardies. Speedos (budgie smugglers) are so not cool. Unless you're a surf life saver or Derio.
The only thing I didn't love ... Amber's disparaging comments about her body. I hang there like a fat orangatan... sheesh really? luckily when things heat up with Derio, she gets over herself quick enough.
"Did you feel anything?" "No," he murmurs. "I felt everything."
Racing the Sun will have you fang-ing for Italian food. Hey, if you're not single, putting it out there that you want your very own hot Italian guy is just not on. So. Food it is.
Ciao. My bags are packed, I'm ready for Italy.
... Ok I'm off to plan my pinterest holiday.
Alrighty ... I'm heading to the Italian restaurant at the end of our street. ...more
My friend Karen, some-time-guest-reviewer-on-the-eclectic-reader, fellow Higgins fan, instigator of my growing KH book collection, 4.5 stars loved it!
My friend Karen, some-time-guest-reviewer-on-the-eclectic-reader, fellow Higgins fan, instigator of my growing KH book collection, partner-in-stalker-ing at ARRC 2013, read If You Only Knew around the same time I did so we decided to share the Kristan Higgins love and combine our thoughts on her latest with some fangirl ramblings a semi coherent joint review.
What did you think? Karen: I loved it. I know when I open a Kristan Higgin's novel it's going to brighten my day and If You Only Knew didn't disappoint.
Me: I loved it too. If You Only Knew has major 'feels' and kudos to Kristan for transitioning deftly into the field of women's fiction.
The story? Karen: I'm trying to think of a way to describe the storyline and this conversation between Jenny and Leo on Jenny's return from the grand opening of her bridal design store, Bliss, sums it up ….
“Well, let’s see. My mom told at least nine people how wretched she’s been since my father died twenty-two years ago, my ex-husband, his beautiful wife and perfect baby showed up, and my sister’s husband confirmed that he’s having amazing sex with someone else.” “Shit. Now I wish I’d gone.” He sits down in the chair across from me. “I’m sorry about Rachel.”
I’m still trying to decide which aspect of the story I enjoyed the most.
Me: It's all about relationships. The bond between sisters Jenny and Rachel, the girls' testy relationship with their widowed mother, Jenny's oddly intimate relationship with ex-husband Owen and his new family, Rachel and Adam's marriage, Rachel supermum to adorable triplet daughters, Jenny's desire for a relationship with reclusive landlord Leo.
I loved the emotion, the laughs and tears, the snerk-funny stuff and I particularly loved that it was all so firmly centered in realness. I liked that I felt angry and frustrated with them all at different times. I wanted both Jenny and Rachel to value themselves more.
Any surprises? Karen: I think what surprised me most was the emotion I felt, reading about Rachel dealing with her husband’s infidelity. Kristen has written some very powerful paragraphs about what a real marriage might go through….not just “he cheated, it's over.” Struggling with your feelings, when you obviously still love your husband.
It’s the first time I’ve really cried in front of him since I found that horrible picture. “Oh, sweetheart,” he says, pulling me into his arms and I hate that it feels so good to be held, and I hate that we fit together so perfectly, and I love that he knows just how to rub my back and stroke my hair. I love him. I hate him. And I’m so tired of feeling both ways.
Me: not surprise, more like relief, that whilst this story is about the very real and heart-breaky experiences in life, Kristan's trademark snarky humour remains firmly entrenched.
take Rachel's conversation with old Mrs Donovon and her weeping outie-snoutie-belly-button. Only Kristan Higgins could turn a visit to the Doctor for an STD panel, courtesy of your lying, cheating husband ... into emotional hilarity.
Do you know how challenging it is to gag and laugh at the same time??
or Jenny accompanying Rachel to the plastic surgeon .... liposuction, labia plumping and tears.
"You don't need anything changed about you," I say, my voice shaking. "I know," she whispers, "I just can't ... I can't help... I hate myself for coming here, but I can't help it! Emmanuelle is so beautiful Jenny! She's so scary beautiful! She's Maleficent beautiful." ... "I bet she's not that beautiful." "She is," my sister says. "Well, she has a very ugly vagina," I say, and my sister bursts into that mixture of laughter and crying.
Final thoughts? Karen: I want more Jenny and Leo and I want to know what happens with Rachel down the track ... they need their own book.
Me: I want a night at the Tribeca Grand ...
But I also agree with Karen, I want more of it all. ...more
Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I c4.5 stars
Helene Young's novels are an addictive mix of nail-biting tension and characters to emotionally invest in. Northern Heat is no exception, I couldn't put it down, finishing in the wee hours ... the sleep deprivation was totally worth it.
Northern Heat is definitely a stand-alone novel but if you've read Safe Harbour you'll recognise Conor as the yachtsman pulled from wild seas. I didn't pick up on that from the synopsis but I was so happy to get more of Conor.
Kristy and Conor are two of my favourite characters; scarred by tragedy but strong, passionate and resilient. They're portrayed with depth and compassion and I was completely pulled in to their lives, cheering them on. Whilst the attraction between Conor and Kristy sparks immediately, I loved seeing their relationship play out naturally over time.
Helene tackles the subject of domestic violence with sensitivity, Kristy and Freya's story rang true for me and I read with my stomach churning and my heart in my mouth. The vivid descriptions of our Australian landscape show respect and appreciation of the harsh beauty and diversity, the challenges faced in remote areas, the weather extremes, from drought to devastating cyclones. Cyclone Kate bearing down on the community of Cooktown heightened an already tense plot ... talk about building to a crescendo.
It's no easy feat to advance a plot at a cracking pace without sacrificing character development and authenticity. Helene Young finds the perfect balance and makes it look effortless. A favourite read this year.
Readers were first introduced to Lauren Simpson in Jilted, not in a particularly favourable light I must say, I don't have time for spoilt bitches butReaders were first introduced to Lauren Simpson in Jilted, not in a particularly favourable light I must say, I don't have time for spoilt bitches but figured that somewhere underneath all the makeup was a decent person. She's a nurse, not that that's a given for decency but she's a deeply caring and highly skilled nurse so that's got to say something. Rachael Johns does a fabulous job of showing some of Lauren's more endearing qualities.
You probably don't have to read Jilted first but I really liked seeing the growth in Lauren's character, growth that was handled realistically, in a way that elicited empathy rather than eye-rolls ... not that I'd expect anything less from Rachael Johns. Besides I loved Jilted (Ellie and Flynn's story) so why miss out on a good thing.
The chemistry between Lauren and locum Dr Tom Lewis is evident from the start but like any new relationship they have their challenges ... emotion-charged issues and the highs and lows of living in a small community where everyone knows your business or thinks they do.
The sweetest part of this story and my favourite was Lauren and Tom's interactions with the elderly in the residential wing of the hospital ... now that was heart-melting good. And funny, Barbara and May cracked me up with their irreverent humour.
With trademark humour, passion and emotion I've come to expect from Rachael Johns, The Road to Hope is a lovely way to spend a few hours....more
We started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer finalWe started with Ry and Julia's story in Nobody But Him, followed by their best friends Lizzie and Dan in Someone Like You. In the Boys of Summer final installment we join Joe and Anna on their road to happiness. Of course there's roadblocks and wrong turns, because if there wasn't that would be kind of dull ... and Victoria Purman writes anything but dull.
Joe is Lizzie's brother and Anna, an old friend of Dan's ... they're both carrying hurt and a load of baggage but a night of alcohol-fueled-toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex slowly grows into new beginnings and more toe-curling-knock-your-socks-off-sex a second chance at love.
What I've loved about this series from the beginning is the feel of Middle Point, this fictional coastal town on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia feels real. So real you want to live there, join the community and be part of the Ry and Julia, Dan and Lizzie, Joe and Anna circle.
You really can't go wrong with this sexy, steamy, sweet, funny trilogy. I've loved spending time with these couples, getting to know them and care about them and I'm a little sad to say goodbye.
But bring on May 1st because Victoria Purman has a new novel out, Only We Know, set on the wildly beautiful Kangaroo Island. ...more
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much4.5 stars
Wow Rachael Johns saves the best 'til last, Outback Ghost is my favourite of the Bunyip Bay series. I love a good romance but there's so much more to love in Outback Ghost ... depth, layers, grief, loss, community; it's a really touching read.
I've felt for the Burton family since the disappearance of Adam Burton's young sister was first mentioned in Outback Dreams. When single mum Stella books the holiday cottage on Adam's farm to enjoy a much needed break and special time with her 7 year old daughter Heidi, the mystery slowly unravels.
Adam and Stella, *sigh* I loved their interactions, their chemistry and I really loved that there were no miscommunication issues providing conflict and drama. I loved that Adam saw Stella as a package, the way he related to Heidi was just adorable. And last but not least, I loved the joy that Heidi brought to Adam's mother's life, what a special relationship between Heidi and Esther.
'I've had sex' she told the cat proudly. 'Hot, messy, crazy, fabulous sex. With a man.' Not just any man but undoubtedly the hottest, sexiest man on the planet. Whiskers merely looked up and then turned her head and walked off in disgust. 'Might not be such a big thing for you,' Stella called out as the cat wandered back into the hallway, 'but this is monumental for me.'
The community really came together with love, support and acceptance in this final installment, a healing time ... and not just for the Burton family.
Outback Ghost will have you teary, sighing and smiling ... I loved it and I'm sad to say goodbye to Bunyip Bay.
Thanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up myThanks to my friend Karen (who guest reviews on my blog, The Eclectic Reader) for raving about Maybe Someday and cheering when I finally picked up my first Colleen Hoover novel. I'm so happy I did. Colleen Hoover's writing is smart and funny and sweet and refreshing and she's big on music.
I have a thing for stories with music.
Music has always played an important part in my life, it's my warm place and safe harbour, it connects people, it comforts, inspires and uplifts. Music plays an integral part in Maybe Someday, it's a character in itself and I LOVE that in a book. The unique thing about the music in Maybe Someday is, Sydney and Ridge write the lyrics, they connect through music, it's their way of communicating, expressing themselves, the music moves the story forward.
I loved what was happening between Sydney and Ridge, their dynamic, the humour, awkwardness, the sweet heart-skippy feeling it gave me. BUT it didn't sit well that Ridge was emotionally cheating on his girlfriend and I didn't buy into his bullshit justifications. It felt real, I might not have liked it (that's just me) but Colleen Hoover kept it real.
Maybe Someday is sensitive, emotional and surprisingly refreshing. I wish I could tell you why it is so refreshing but that would spoil things so just trust me and read it :)...more
Fun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogFun, fun, fun ... Risky Business is a winning combination of sizzle, sex and hilarity and Amy Andrews totally rocks the natural, laugh-out-loud dialogue.
I loved the contemporary setting, Brisbane (where I live) and even more perfect ... a book store, Birdie's secondhand romance bookstore *sighworthy* - the almost tangible smell of aged ink on weathered paper. And pepermint. Two aromas synonymous with the shop.
Sensible, career focused, romance reading Samantha, of the body image issues and talking, tap dancing eggs HA. And then there's sexy, risk-taking Nick. After Nick's grandmother Birdie passes away he swaps his extreme sports career for running the bookstore while he recuperates from injury.
Despite Nick and Samantha's instant attraction I loved how naturally things progressed between them. Samantha's many blind date dramas cracked me up, not to mention the whole vibrator, vodka, Tim Tam scene. As much as I cringed over her self-deprecating comments, I adored Nick for building her up.
Have to say I was deliriously happy for Samantha (and myself) when her eggs finally shut the hell up with their cheeping ;) ...more
Nora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration iNora Roberts' The Witness (2012) was a 5 star listen for me this year so I just had to have The Collector on audio. I loved Julia Whelan's narration in The Witness so ... can't really go wrong ... right?
I'm pretty good at suspending belief, this is after all fiction, but I did find the whole professional housesitter/writer (Lila) and artist (Ash) chasing down a contract killer, implausible and just a bit ridiculous. Baddie killing off the hero and heroine for their sheer stupidity would have been more realistic ... oops did I say that out loud.
That aside, I quite liked people-watching Lila and teapot poodle Earl Grey earns this one extra cuteness points. And for a lengthy book it doesn't drag at all ... good job on the narration Jennifer Whalen.
Despite some eye-rolling this was actually an enjoyable, easy listen, I didn't dislike the story but I didn't bother catching up on the few missed minutes ... grr annoying telemarketer.
Recommend: hmm ... for me it didn't come close to The Witness ...more
Evening Stars was a nice read but I wanted to love it. Huh, what am I saying ... I expected to love it. I fell in love with Blackberry Island3.5 stars
Evening Stars was a nice read but I wanted to love it. Huh, what am I saying ... I expected to love it. I fell in love with Blackberry Island while reading Barefoot Season and Three Sisters ... well I just fell in love.
I feel a bit mean, I liked Evening Stars but Three Sisters made me laugh and cry and sigh, I wanted to live next door, I wanted to be friends with Andi, Boston and Deanna. Held up against that, Evening Stars felt just a little lackluster.
Nina works as a nurse for Pediatrician Andi from Three Sisters. Nina has spent much of her life being the responsible one; from the age of nine, taking care of the house, younger sister Averil and her immature, irresponsible mother, Bonnie. She's spent so long putting others first, her sense of self has disappeared in obligation, lost dreams and resentment and she struggles with relinquishing control.
Character growth is at the centre of Evening Stars and that's something I love to see but sadly I didn't have an emotional connection with any of the characters. I liked them, except for Bonnie, Bonnie I wanted to slap. Bonnie needed her Peter Pan complex smacked right out of her!
I nearly forgot, there are guys ... Dylan and Kyle, they're instrumental to Nina's growth but the romance is almost secondary.
I liked it, I liked how things worked out and you should read it because you can't not read the final Blackberry Island book. And maybe you'll love it? Let me know ...
Looking forward to the Mischief Bay series....more
I fell in love with Helene Young's writing with Half Moon Bay so I was excited to get my hands on Safe Harbour ... yowsers, what an unputdow4.5 stars
I fell in love with Helene Young's writing with Half Moon Bay so I was excited to get my hands on Safe Harbour ... yowsers, what an unputdownable stay-up-all-night-nail-biter.
Safe Harbour is set in Banksia Cove, a small town on the Queensland coast not far from Bundaberg. I've spent some time in the Bundaberg/Bargara area and Helene pens not only the setting, but the characters, convincingly.
It's a story of long-held secrets and dark pasts, drugs in sports, marine rescue, cover-ups and corruption. When Darcy Fletcher and Noah Moreton rescue a yachtsman in wild seas they're completely unaware of a far more dangerous storm about to be unleashed.
There's a whole lot going on in Safe Harbour, it's a complex, multifaceted plot but character development isn't sacrificed for plot advancement. So, not only do you really get to know the main characters and care about what happens to them, you do it with your heart in your mouth.
I warmed to Darcy immediately and I might have crushed a bit on local police officer Noah ... the chemistry between Noah and Darcy is undeniable, I swear if they hadn't got it together I would have slapped some sense into them. I loved Rosie, the aboriginal woman who was practically a second mother to Darcy. Rosie's connection to the land, her family and the whales was truly special and beautifully written.
Recommend: In a heartbeat. Suspense keeps the pages turning but it's the relationships you remember. ...more