Review: The Dilemma – B A Paris

The Dilemma
B A Paris
HQ
ISBN: 9780008287047

Description:
It’s Livia’s fortieth birthday and tonight she’s having a party, a party she’s been planning for a long time. The only person missing will be her daughter, Marnie.

But Livia has a secret, a secret she’s been keeping from Adam, her husband, until the party is over. Because how can she tell him that although she loves Marnie, she’s glad their daughter won’t be there to celebrate with her?

Adam is determined everything will be just right for Livia and the party is going to be perfect… until he learns something that will leave him facing an unbearable decision.

My View:
I don’t know why but I was expecting this read to be edgy, perhaps more suspenseful, more of a crime fiction type read. Why? I don’t know, it certainly surprised me – in a good kind of way. What I got was a very nuanced discussion about families, relationships, what ifs and lots of moral dilemmas.

The characters are credible, relatable and interesting. The scenarios will make you think. This read is full of emotions and ultimately, is heartbreaking. I like how the author pushes on and allows the characters to work through some of the most painful experiences that any one could face.

A great read.

Guest Review: House of Wishes – Jenn J McLeod

The House of Wishes

Jenn J. McLeod

Wild Myrtle Press

ISBN: 9780648570806

 

Description:

A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons: about the choices we make, the connections that matter, the secrets we keep, and the power of wishes.

Dandelion House is ready to reveal its secrets.

Dandelion House, 1974

Two teenage girls—strangers—make a pact to never tell their secret.

Calingarry Crossing, 2014

For forty years, Beth and her mum have been everything to each other, but Beth is blind-sided when her mother dies, and her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a small-town cemetery.

On the outskirts of Calingarry Crossing, Beth comes across Dandelion House Retreat. With her stage career waning, and struggling to see a future without her mum, her marriage, and her child, Beth really hopes it’s a place where she can begin to heal.

After her fateful encounter with a local landowner, Tom, Beth is intrigued by his stories of the cursed, century-old river house that was once a swank summer residence for arty eccentrics and a maternity home for unmarried mothers. The more Beth learns about the place and the reclusive owner, Gypsy—whose mother, Maeve was a fortune-teller in a travelling carnival—the more she questions her mother’s wishes.

Tom has the answers, but will the truth help Beth?

Or should Dandelion House keep its last, long-held secret?

 

 

Brenda’s Review:

Beth had never heard of Calingarry Crossing but here she was, driving the long journey from Sydney to a tiny bush town in NSW, not far from the border of Queensland, to fulfil her beloved mother’s last wish. The spreading of her ashes in a particular section of Calingarry Crossing’s cemetery puzzled Beth, but she would do as her Mum wanted then leave once again…

After an inauspicious introduction to the town, Beth found herself in front of a sign which read Dandelion House Retreat – but it wasn’t the relaxing B&B she’d hoped for. The intriguing old place on the river would be central to Beth’s healing, although she didn’t know it yet. The meeting of a local farmer, Tom Dawson found Beth laughing more than she had in some time; but also Beth was fascinated in his stories about Dandelion House and its owner Gypsy.

Beth found herself confused; she didn’t understand her mother’s wishes – but would she find the answers she sought in this small out of the way place? There were secrets long buried; a story that began in 1974. Beth was grieving, lost and lonely – what was the truth to her past?

I thoroughly enjoyed House of Wishes by Aussie author Jenn J. McLeod with its loose links to two of her previous books, House for all Seasons and Simmering Season. Dandelion House has a life and heart of its own, and the author brings it to life as it wraps itself around those living there. Great characters fill House of Wishes; my particular favourite is Don. An emotional, heartfelt novel that kept me involved from start to finish, House of Wishes is one I highly recommend. I must mention the beautiful cover too. 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Kick the Dust – Rhonda Forrest

Kick the Dust

Rhonda Forrest

Valeena Press

ISBN: 9780994535665

 

Description:

‘If I close my eyes, it’s easier to hold onto a memory. When I open them, I think it might really be there in front of me.’

After three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Liam Andrews is home safe in Queensland. His weekly life drawing class, full of colourful local artists, helps him manage his post-traumatic stress disorder. But he’s struggling to open up about a past that still haunts him.

Belourine ‘Billy’ is an Afghan refugee who lost everything before arriving in Australia as a child. She finds joy in her daily swims in the lake. After years of upheaval, she’s still searching for a place to call home. But her past makes it hard to trust people.

When Liam and Billy meet, they form an instant connection. But will they ever overcome the past? And will it be together?

A moving story of love, loss and resilience from the author of Two Heartbeats.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Liam Andrews had done three tours of Afghanistan and was suffering PTSD which he was trying to overcome. He was an artist, specializing in life drawing and his twice weekly classes meant he met a lot of different people. He also lived by the lake and his mornings consisted of exercise and swimming, before he started his work for the day. He was mostly content.

When the beautiful young woman turned up to model for the class one evening, she sat with her back to the group. She was filling in for another model who’d been unable to attend and was uncomfortable in front of Liam’s particular group. But he was sure he recognized her and worked out it was the other swimmer in the mornings; the one he called ‘butterfly girl’.

Billy and Liam found an affinity with one another and gradually became friends. Billy was mistrustful because of her past; a refugee from Afghanistan who’d arrived in Australia at age six, and with no family of her own, she didn’t trust easily. Billy found pleasure in working with plants and loved the outdoors. Would Liam and Billy become more than friends?

Kick the Dust by Aussie author Rhonda Forrest is an exceptional read, one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Rhonda first published as Lea Davey; this is her second under Rhonda Forrest. Kick the Dust is poignant and emotive, covering topics on refugees, boat people, the struggle of integration into the Australian way of life, and the want and need to be accepted. The main characters, Liam and Billy are written with depth and integrity, are likeable and relatable. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

 

Guest Review: The Last Paradise – Di Morrissey

The Last Paradise

Di Morrissey

Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781760781729

 

Description:

In the ashes of her marriage, she finds the truth about his past and the courage to start again in . . . The Last Paradise.

Grace has the perfect life: a job she loves, a beautiful daughter and a rich, successful husband. But one night, when their world falls apart in a shocking disaster, Grace suddenly sees what she couldn’t admit – her marriage and her husband are a fraud.

With the life she knew in tatters, she takes an assignment promoting the launch of a unique luxury hotel, hidden in a stunning, untouched oasis in the heart of tourist-crazed Bali.

Here, in this last paradise, Grace gathers the strength to take charge of her world. And, inspired by a woman’s story from long ago, she discovers a path to a future she’d never dared to imagine . . .

 

Brenda’s Review:

The night her life shattered, Grace knew it was the final straw. Her marriage was over; the man she wondered if she’d ever loved was cold, cynical and cruel – but charming to everyone else. As Grace struggled to get her life back on track, she and daughter Daisy stayed with Grace’s mum, Tina. She couldn’t have asked for a better support network than Tina and Grace’s best friend Melanie. When she finally went back to work, the position she was offered was too good to refuse. It made her excited again; the assignment was right up her alley and with it being on the beautiful island of Bali, she knew she had to make it work.

Gradually it all fell into place; her visions for the new luxury hotel were accepted, the people connected were helpful, generous and enthusiastic. And as Grace learned more about K’tut Tantri, the Scottish American woman who’d adopted Bali as her own many years prior, she found a strength she hadn’t known she had. But was Lawrence going to allow this to happen? His need to see Daisy – or was it something more sinister? – hung over Grace constantly. What was his plan? He was devious, that she knew…

The Last Paradise by Aussie author Di Morrissey is an intriguing and beautifully written novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. Set in both Sydney and Bali, I found myself cheering Grace on; telling her not to trust Lawrence; wishing some not so nice things for him! Morrissey’s writing is exceptional – I felt I was right there by Grace’s side while she worked, explored the island and K’tut’s memories. Such an excellent read, and one I highly recommend. 5 stars.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Best Reads of 2019 – Romance/Life Lit/Womens Lit/Rural Fiction

In this category I prefer to read romance with a twist – a twist of social issues, a twist of crime or mystery, a twist of ….humour and fun.  Here are a couple of my favourites from 2019:

 

Love Song

Daughters of the Outback #3

Sasha Wasley

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784562

 

 

When it All Went to Custard

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins

ISBN: 9781775541417

 

 

 

 

Guest Review: Last Bridge Before Home – Lily Malone

Last Bridge Before Home

Lily Malone

Harlequin Enterprises AU

ISBN: 9781489250506

Description:

For Jaydah Tully, the country town of Chalk Hill has never felt like home. Home is a place to feel loved. Home is a place to feel safe. Jaydah’s home life is dark in ways the close-knit community could never imagine.

Jaydah knows that the man she loves has never understood her need for secrets. Brix is a Honeychurch, she’s a Tully – her family are Chalk Hill’s black sheep. It’s better for everyone if Brix stays away.

But Brix is a one-woman man, and when he returns to his home town to help his brother, the first person he sees is Jaydah. Independent. Private. Proud. When things are good between them they are really really good but all too soon they’re back in the old patterns, caught in the same argument: Her father. Her family. Her life that doesn’t include him.

Underneath her tough exterior, Jaydah is drowning. She has one chance to change everything. Is she brave enough to take the risk and let Brix in? Or will her father keep them apart forever?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Jaydah Tully had always loved Brix, just as he loved her, but she couldn’t let him in. The life she led was one no one could know about. She was twenty-seven years old and still lived at home – but she couldn’t leave without her mother and sister. So Jaydah put up with it, hoping that one day things would change.

Brix Honeychurch was home in Chalk Hill for the weekend, helping his brother Jake at the farm. His winery three hours away was his life now, but he always had a lot of time for his family. Once again Brix caught up with Jaydah; once again they had the same old argument. It was frustrating for Brix, but also for Jaydah…

Until the day Jaydah came up with a solution. Would it work? Could the plan she’d come up with save the three Tully women? And what of the man who made their lives hell?

Wow! Last Bridge Before Home is a breathtaking, heart-in-mouth read by Aussie author Lily Malone. My heart was pounding – I was so worried for Jaydah and her mum and sister. The horror of domestic violence is explored in Last Bridge Before Home; the gleeful pleasure the perpetrator takes over his victims is terrifying. The novel was captivating, delightful, funny in places – the darkness ebbed and flowed. 3rd in the Chalk Hill series, Last Bridge Before Home is one I highly recommend. 5 stars.

With thanks to HarperCollins AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: The Life She Deserves – Maggie Christensen

The Life She Deserves

Maggie Christensen

Cala Publishing

ISBN: 9780648522423

Description:

Two old friends. A new relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Growing up in the small Australian country town of Granite Springs, Jo and Col have been lifelong friends.

Following Jo’s divorce and the death of Col’s wife, the pair find comfort in their common grief. But as they tentatively explore their new relationship, they have little idea of the challenges that lie ahead.

What they haven’t bargained for is Jo’s interfering ex, along with their three children, all of whom have their own agendas.

Can Jo ride out the storm? Will she be granted the life she deserves?

 

Brenda’s Review:

When Alice died, her husband Col and best friend Jo were devastated. She had suffered a long time – she was now at peace. The three of them had been friends for a lifetime, now Col and Jo comforted each other with dinner out twice a week, always at ease in each other’s company. Gradually the respect and friendship they shared grew to more, and with it being a year since Alice had died and five years since Jo’s divorce, they were happy to explore their new relationship.

But Eve, Jo’s daughter and Danny, her son, were determined Jo should live her life the way they saw fit. It was only Rob, her youngest son, who was on Jo’s side, completely understanding her need for companionship and love. And it was Gordon, Jo’s ex, who was the biggest thorn in her side. What was she going to do? Would she go along with her children’s plans for her, letting them ride roughshod over her own needs and wants? Or would she rebel and have the life she deserved?

The Life She Deserves is the 1st in the Granite Springs series for Aussie author Maggie Christensen and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author depicts older characters extremely well and with both Jo and Col turning 60 in this story, Jo with adult children and grandchildren, the complexities of family and relationships shines through. A wonderful story, The Life She Deserves is one I highly recommend and I’m looking forward to book two already. 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.