Guest Review: The House of Second Chances – Esther Campion

The House of Second Chances

Esther Campion

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733636172

 

Description:

Can a house heal heartache? From coastal Australia to the rugged beauty of Ireland, an enchanting novel of starting over, in the tradition of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney.

Their grandmother’s stone cottage was always a welcome retreat in the childhood summers of Ellen and Aidan O’Shea. After a trip home from Australia, Ellen is keen to bring the neglected home back to its former glory and enlists the help of her dear friend and one of Ireland’s top interior designers, Colette Barry.

Aidan is already begrudging the work on the house he has avoided for nearly twenty years. The last thing the builder needs is an interior designer who seems to do nothing but complicate his life. With their own personal heartaches to overcome, will Aidan and Colette find the courage to give the house and themselves a second chance?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Even though Ellen O’Shea had returned to South Australia after her visit to her home in Ireland, she knew her brother Aidan who was a builder, would continue the renovation of their grandmother’s stone cottage in West Cork. Ellen had taken her good friend, interior designer Colette Barry on board, and knew she would do an excellent job with the cottage. But Aidan didn’t want the added cost that came with Colette’s grandiose ideas.

While good friend Gerry Clancy was trying to obtain the visa he needed to join Ellen in Australia, Colette was busy at her interior designer company, Fabulous Four Walls, along with good friend and partner John. When Colette and Gerry joined Aidan at the West Cork cottage, she could see the potential and knew the house would have a second chance with all they could do. But she also wondered how she could work with the perpetually grumpy owner of the cottage. How could he be the brother of her best friend?

With troubled pasts and dark secrets, plus events with family and friends of an upsetting nature, was there a possibility of second chances and starting over? Would Aidan find happiness? Would Colette?

The House of Second Chances by Aussie author Esther Campion is the sequel to Leaving Ocean Road, and it was wonderful to catch up with Ellen, Aidan and Gerry once again. The story continues on from the ending of Leaving Ocean Road and was exceptionally well done, with the blending of known characters with new ones. The parts of Australia in the novel – Port Lincoln, Millicent, Mount Gambier, the Coorong – are places I know (I lived in Mount Gambier as a child); while Ireland is a place I haven’t been, but the descriptions of the countryside were delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and whipped through it in a matter of hours (who needs sleep?!) Highly recommended. 5 stars!

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

Review: The House of Second Chances – Esther Campion

The House of Second Chances (1)

The House of Second Chances

Esther Campion

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733636172

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

Can a house heal heartache? From coastal Australia to the rugged beauty of Ireland, an enchanting novel of starting over, in the tradition of Maeve Binchy and Monica McInerney.

 

Their grandmother’s stone cottage was always a welcome retreat in the childhood summers of Ellen and Aidan O’Shea. After a trip home from Australia, Ellen is keen to bring the neglected home back to its former glory and enlists the help of her dear friend and one of Ireland’s top interior designers, Colette Barry.

 

Aidan is already begrudging the work on the house he has avoided for nearly twenty years. The last thing the builder needs is an interior designer who seems to do nothing but complicate his life. With their own personal heartaches to overcome, will Aidan and Colette find the courage to give the house and themselves a second chance?

 

 

My View:

This was the perfect Valentine’s Day read – and if you haven’t had an opportunity to read it yet, sit yourself down in a comfy chair, cup of tea (or glass of wine) in hand and take some time to be in the moment, to be in Ireland, to be in the countryside – wild, romantic and picturesque. Imagine yourself with you sketch pad or easel capturing the vista, relaxed.

 

Armchair travelling at its best.

 

Everyone deserves a second chance.

 

 

For those who haven’t read the Leaving Ocean Road – the book that introduces to the main characters and background stories, check out Brenda’s review here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2274627293

 

 

PS Love the cover art.

 

Review: The Psychology of Time Travel – Kate Mascarenhas

The Psychology of Time Travel

The Psychology of Time Travel

Kate Mascarenhas

Harper Collins

Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781788540117

 

Description:

1967: Four female scientists invent a time-travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril.

 

2017: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future–a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady.

 

2018: When Odette discovered the body, she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, flesh. But when the inquest fails to answer any of her questions, Odette is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

 

 

My View:

This is a really difficult book to review because it is unique; the cover might look soft and fuzzy but the content is complex, at times brutal and always interesting. It is a mash up of genres- time travel, romance and a family orientated, murder mystery with a serious feminist bent that uses the framework of time travel to reflect on issues relating to power, control, bullying, hazing, racism, workplace harassment, mental health, the justice system and sexual equality (my list is not exhaustive).

 

The characters are all very strong, intelligent, talented, resourceful women. It is so unusual to find a narrative where intelligent women in control of their own futures, shape and dictate the narrative; this is feminism that doesn’t preach its message, it doesn’t “tell” just “shows” without anger or recriminations; it just “is”. And in doing so, is such a refreshing read. Bravo!

 

 

 

Review – Providence – Caroline Kepnes

Providence - Caroline Kepnes

Providence

Caroline Kepnes

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471162862

 

Description:

A propulsive new thriller about the obsessive nature of love when an intensifying relationship between best friends is disrupted by a kidnapping.

Growing up as best friends in small-town New Hampshire, Jon and Chloe are the only ones who truly understand each other, though they can never find the words to tell one another the depth of their feelings. When Jon is finally ready to confess his feelings, he’s suddenly kidnapped by his substitute teacher who is obsessed with H.P. Lovecraft and has a plot to save humanity.

Mourning the disappearance of Jon and facing the reality he may never return, Chloe tries to navigate the rites of entering young adulthood and “fit in” with the popular crowd, but thoughts of Jon are never far away.

When Jon finally escapes, he discovers he now has an uncontrollable power that endangers anyone he has intense feelings for. He runs away to protect Chloe and find the answers to his new identity–but he’s soon being tracked by a detective who is fascinated by a series of vigilante killings that appear connected.

Whisking us on a journey through New England and crashing these characters’ lives together in the most unexpected ways, Kepnes explores the complex relationship between love and identity, unrequited passion and obsession, self-preservation and self-destruction, and how the lines are often blurred between the two.

 

My View:

This was an interesting read. It was not the book I thought I was going to read. (And I wasn’t expecting another You but was expecting something more dynamic and engaging).   The beginning was brilliant – it had the feel of an early, creepy, Stephen King horror/sci fi but then decided it couldn’t make up its mind what story it wanted to tell – horror, mystery, crime, love story – in the end I decided enduring love was the theme at the heart of this read.

I found the characters aside from the protagonist Jon, to be unlikeable.  I found the frequent references to an existing horror story had no meaning for me – and I think this is the biggest downfall of the read – I think it doesn’t translate to a wider audience that is not familiar with this author/existing narrative, consequently I wasn’t really engaged in the read and the characters plight and I found the chapters about Jon as an avenging angel pathway predictable.

On the positive side – I did think about the resolution long after I put the book back on my shelf.

 

 

 

Guest Review: True Blue – Sasha Wasley

When this wonderful Australian author (from Perth Western Australia) called in for a cuppa the other day – we talked books, art and family.  (More on that later today – watch out for my next post.)

Sasha Wasley’s trilogy is based on the lives of three sisters (book 3 to be published in the near future), this series has garnered many great reviews and

I thought I would share another with you – thanks for the contribution Brenda.


True Blue

Brenda’s Review:
When Freya (Free) Paterson was stopped on the way to the hen’s night by the local police, she wasn’t sure what she’d done wrong – as it turned out, it was nothing; but she met Constable Finn Kelly for the first time and she liked what she saw.
Free was an artist and landing a job at the local high school in Mount Clair teaching the year eleven students art was a dream come true. The only unwelcome intrusion at her new workplace was a colleague who gave Free the creeps. Ignoring him was easy. Her students were a wonderful group of dedicated, upcoming artists.
Free and her family had lived on the Paterson property for decades – farming was in her blood. Her two sisters, Beth and Willow, along with her father loved the land and the Herne River which bordered their property. The recent decision to dam the river was something no one wanted – it would cause heartache and havoc for the farms along the river’s edge.

Meanwhile Free couldn’t get the new constable out of her mind. Finn was a kind and gentle Irishman, but the negative vibes he sent toward Free were confusing. Why did he only want to be friends?

Second in the Paterson Sisters trilogy, True Blue by Aussie author Sasha Wasley tells the second sister’s story. The first in the trilogy, Dear Banjo, featured Willow, and the third (when published) will feature Beth. Set in the beautiful Kimberley region of Western Australia, the vast and rugged landscape comes to life under Wasley’s pen. Towards the end of the novel there was a section which made me laugh; made me cry and felt wonderful! I’m not a romance/romance reader – I like some suspense and intrigue mixed in, and True Blue fits the bill, while being an excellent novel; I’m very much looking forward to Beth’s story. Highly recommended – 5 stars.

With thanks to Penguin Random House for my ARC to read and review.

Post Script: Ghosted – Rosie Walsh

Ghosted

Ghosted aka The Man Who Didn’t Call

Rosie Walsh

Pan Macmillan Australia

Mantle

ISBN:  9781509886432

 

Description:

It was the perfect love story… until he disappeared.

Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything in your life. So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.

But he doesn’t call. And he doesn’t call. And he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong – something must have happened – there’s got to be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other? The truth.

If you’ve ever found yourself waiting for a call that didn’t come, Ghosted by Rosie Walsh is the book for you.

 

My View:

What a fantastic read! This narrative confused me a little (in a good way) from the glorious cover art to the back page synopsis I thought I was getting a run of the mill romance; something light, something that doesn’t require too much concentration or attention, something…middle of the road.  How wrong was I?

 

A mash up of mystery, life lit and a coming of age story, this book has it all. Beautifully written, engaging…and the twists…this one belongs on   my favourite reads of 2018 list.

 

PS This would make a fab film!