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

 

 

 

 

Review: Hunter – Timothy Blake #2 – Jack Heath

Hunter

Hunter

Timothy Blake #2

Jack Heath

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760527082

 

Description:

Timothy Blake, ex-consultant for the FBI, now works in body-disposal for a local crime lord. One night he stumbles across a body he wasn’t supposed to find and is forced to hide it. When the FBI calls Blake in to investigate a missing university professor, Blake recognises him as the dead man in his freezer.

 

Then another man goes missing. And another.

 

There’s a serial killer in Houston, Texas, and Blake is running out of time to solve the case. His investigation takes him to a sex doll factory, a sprawling landfill in Louisiana and a secret cabin in the woods.

 

As they hunt the killer together, FBI agent Reese Thistle starts to warm to Blake – but she also gets closer and closer to discovering his terrible secret.

 

Can Blake uncover the killer, without being exposed himself?

 

A confounding, intriguing and wildly suspenseful thriller from the bestselling and acclaimed author of Hangman.

 

 

My View:

Book 2 in the Timothy Blake series is much more palatable J 

 

This narrative showcases the author’s ability to engage and entertain with witty dark humour, mysteries that intrigue, with the anti hero  now showing signs of empathy and thoughtfulness…and love… with occasional break outs of gruesome gore.

 

I like how Jack Heath has turned the whole woman rescued by prince charming thing on its head.  Reese Thistle is the emotional rescuer here.  Reese Thistle is the smart, proactive, impulsive and fast acting hero in this piece.

 

I think Heath’s feminist side is exposed in this episode and I like it. Gangsters can be women, women can be cruel, capable of abhorrent dead’s but also ultimately, resourceful, determining their own destiny (no matter how warped that may or may not be eg Hope, Sindy).  There was only disappointment for me in this aspect of the narrative (no spoilers) was a character who is the victim of abuse who conspiratorially defends the abuser, this, however, is not so much a fault of the writer it is more a reflection of a behaviour often encountered in this type of abusive situation.

 

Looking forward to book 3 in the series.

 

 

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!