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.

Guest Review: There Was Still Love – Favel Parrett

 

There Was Still Love

Favel Parrett

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733630682

Description:

The profoundly moving new novel from the critically acclaimed and Miles Franklin shortlisted author of PAST THE SHALLOWS and WHEN THE NIGHT COMES. A tender and masterfully told story of memory, family and love.

Prague, 1938: Eva flies down the street from her sister. Suddenly a man steps out, a man wearing a hat. Eva runs into him, hits the pavement hard. His hat is in the gutter. His anger slaps Eva, but his hate will change everything, as war forces so many lives into small, brown suitcases.

Prague, 1980: No one sees Ludek. A young boy can slip right under the heavy blanket that covers this city – the fear cannot touch him. Ludek is free. And he sees everything. The world can do what it likes. The world can go to hell for all he cares because Babi is waiting for him in the warm flat. His whole world.

Melbourne, 1980: Mala Li ka’s grandma holds her hand as they climb the stairs to their third floor flat. Inside, the smell of warm pipe tobacco and homemade cakes. Here, Mana and Bill have made a life for themselves and their granddaughter. A life imbued with the spirit of Prague and the loved ones left behind.

Favel Parrett’s deep emotional insight and stellar literary talent shine through in this love letter to the strong women who bind families together, despite dislocation and distance. It is a tender and beautifully told story of memory, family and love. Because there is still love. No matter what.

Brenda’s Review:

What an utterly divine, beautifully written novel There Was Still Love is by Aussie author Favel Parrett. Moving, profound, I’m blown away by this book. I loved the author’s previous novels, and this one is exceptional.

Set in Prague in 1938 and 1980, and Melbourne in 1980, it tells Eva and Mana’s stories and that of their grandchildren. Ludek lives in Prague with his Babi while his mother is a long way away working, and Mala Li ka lives in the tiny Melbourne flat with her grandma and grandpa. Love; the past; the present – all link together as there was still love; always.

Although There Was Still Love is a work of fiction, the author has drawn from the lives of her grandparents, showing the kindness and love which was always present. A very memorable book which is told mostly in the voices of the two children, and which I have no hesitation in recommending highly. The cover is beautiful, with the fox having special meaning. 5 stars

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

 

Guest Review: Trouble on Teral (The Portal Adventures #1) – Andrew J. Harvey

Trouble on Teral

Andrew J. Harvey

Peasantry Press

ISBN: 9781988276328

 

Description:

Perhaps running away from home had not been one of Mark’s brightest ideas. But after his mom canceled his visit to her archaeological dig on Teral Four, he felt he had no choice. Now he wasn’t so sure – when his dad, a Colonel in the UN Peacekeepers, found out he was going to go ballistic. If he could just speak to his mom perhaps he could still smooth things over. Unfortunately for Mark, the Llarst, violent aliens who have already fought one war with Earth, have taken his mom and the other archaeologists hostage. And if the Llarst find what they’re looking for, all of Earth will be in danger. Now, with just the assistance of Windracer, a young saurian on her first vision quest, and her elephant- sized groundhog, he must rescue his mother and her friends, stop the Llarst, and face his dad. Piece of cake …

Brenda’s Review:

Mark’s rebellion kicked in when the anticipation of his visit to Teral Four where his mum was working on the archeology dig was dashed. He immediately decided to go anyway and surprise his mum. But as usual, he hadn’t thought things through – namely what his dad would do when he found out.

His arrival was fraught with trouble – the Llarst, who were terrifying aliens, had invaded and kidnapped Mark’s mother and the rest of the archaeologist team, locking them up a long way underground. Mark met up with a young saurian, Windracer and her gigantic groundhog, Matak, and they decided to attempt a rescue of Mark’s mum and everyone else. But as Mark was about to find out, there was a lot more involved; and a lot of danger as well. Could they do it? What would happen if the Llarst did what they threatened?

Trouble on Teral is the 1st in The Portal Adventures series by Aussie author Andrew Harvey and it was an exciting, adventure filled race against time for the two unlikely friends. I loved Windracer’s character, and Mark was a typical youngster, not thinking before acting. I’m really looking forward to the second in the series – “Crisis at Calista Station” – and recommend Trouble on Teral for young and old alike 😊 5 stars

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

Guest Review: Khaki Town – Judy Nunn

Khaki Town
Judy Nunn
Penguin Random House AU
ISBN: 9780143795179

Description:
Khaki Town, Judy Nunn’s stunning new novel, is inspired by a wartime true story which the Government kept secret for over seventy years.

‘It seems to have happened overnight,’ Val thought as she pulled the beers. ‘We’ve become a khaki town.’

It’s March 1942. Singapore has fallen. Darwin has been bombed. Australia is on the brink of being invaded by the Imperial Japanese Forces. And Val Callahan, publican of The Brown’s Hotel in Townsville, could not be happier as she contemplates the fortune she’s making from lonely, thirsty soldiers.

Overnight the small Queensland city is transformed into the transport hub for 70,000 American and Australian soldiers destined for combat in the South Pacific. Barbed wire and gun emplacements cover the beaches. Historic buildings have been commandeered. And the dance halls are in full swing with jitterbug and jive.

The Australian troops, short on rations and equipment, begrudge the confident, well-fed ‘Yanks’ who have taken over their town (and women). And there’s growing conflict, too, within the American ranks. Because black GIs are enjoying the absence of segregation and the white GIs do not like it.

Then one night a massive street fight leaves a black soldier lying dead in the street, and the situation explodes into violent confrontation.

Brenda’s Review:
March 1942 in Townsville, North Queensland, and it was about to become inundated by US soldiers. Val Callahan owned The Brown’s Hotel where the soldiers and locals congregated for a drink and some company. The Australian soldiers were jealous of their American counterparts as they had more money and benefits than them; the local girls were more than happy to have the attention of the Yanks and the chocolates, nylons and all that came with it.

Val had no hesitation in allowing black and white soldiers to drink at her bar – men were men after all, no matter the colour of their skin. But the white US soldiers were used to subservience from the blacks and the anger was slowly rising. The black soldiers’ camp was out of town – Kelso – and after a series of fights in town, they were banned from leaving their camp; banned from going into town and having the entertainment and refreshments the men needed after a hard days’ work.

The riot was brutal, violent and deadly – the reason for the riot was a complex one based purely on racism, hatred and anger. But as the story evolved it was obvious to some that it would all be covered up. Would the truth ever be told?

Khaki Town by Aussie author Judy Nunn is another brilliant historical novel which in this case is based on factual events. The author mentions Khaki Town is about racism and she purposely hasn’t softened the talk. The language is true to the times which is needed for authenticity. All characters are fictional, except for the four American historical figures; some of the events mentioned did happen. I was totally engrossed in this novel, both fascinated and repelled at what was happening. The kindness, caring, love and beautiful music was one side of the coin, while the bullying, the brutality, the cruel taunting – the other. Khaki Town is extremely well-written by an author who has obviously done her research. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

With thanks to Penguin Random House AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Cradle to Grave – Rachel Amphlett

Cradle to Grave

Detective Kay Hunter #8

Rachel Amphlett

Saxon Publishing

ISBN: 9781916098817

 

Description:

When a faceless body is found floating in the river on a summer’s morning, Detective Kay Hunter and her team are tasked with finding out the man’s identity – and where he came from.

The investigation takes a sinister turn when an abandoned boat is found, covered in blood stains and containing a child’s belongings.

Under mounting pressure from a distraught family and an unforgiving media, the police are in a race against time – but they have no leads, and no motive for the events that have taken place.

Will Kay be able to find a ruthless killer and a missing child before it’s too late?

Brenda’s Review:

The discovery of a body floating in the river was only the beginning of the case. When the team located an abandoned, blood stained boat which had children’s toys in the cabin, the immediate concern that a child had been kidnapped was foremost in the minds of the investigators. Detective Kay Hunter along with her senior officer, Detective Ian Barnes kept the team moving with their different tasks, but their frustration was mounting. Working around the clock, Kay wondered if they would get a break in the case soon; and whether Alice was still alive…

Cradle to Grave is the 8th in the Kay Hunter series by Aussie author Rachel Amphlett and it was brilliant once again! This series is going from strength to strength, and it’s always great to catch up with Kay and her team. The author makes me feel fully involved in the story; the different emotions come across well and the descriptions are such that I can visualize it all. Cradle to Grave is one I highly recommend, but I strongly suggest reading the series from the beginning. 5 stars.

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

Guest Review: The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle – Sophie Green

The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle

Sophie Green

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733641169

 

Description:

It’s the summer of 1982. The Man from Snowy River is a box office hit and Paul Hogan is on the TV.

In a seaside suburb of NSW, housewife Theresa Howard takes up swimming. She wants to get fit; she also wants a few precious minutes to herself. So at sunrise each day she strikes out past the waves.

From the same beach, the widowed Marie swims. With her husband gone, bathing is the one constant in her new life.

After finding herself in a desperate situation, 26-year-old Leanne only has herself to rely on. She became a nurse to help others, even as she resists help herself.

Elaine has recently moved from England. Far from home without her adult sons, her closest friend is a gin bottle.

In the waters of Shelly Bay, these four women find each other. They will survive shark sightings, bluebottle stings and heartbreak; they will laugh so hard they swallow water, and they will plunge their tears into the ocean’s salt. They will find solace and companionship in their friendship circle, and learn that love takes many forms.

 

Brenda’s Review:

By the ocean in the suburb of Shelly Bay in NSW, four women lived their lives. They didn’t know one another, but soon they would. Theresa, mother of two young children, a husband who never helped around the house and her Nonna all lived in one house; Elaine, originally from England where her two adult sons still resided moved to Shelly Bay with her Australian surgeon husband, James. Marie, widowed for the past five years had a quiet, lonely existence while Leanne kept her past locked away, working as a nurse in the local hospital.

Marie swam every day, whatever the season and when Theresa started her early morning swimming – to have some time for herself – she and Marie soon swam together. Elaine was the third to venture to the ocean and when Leanne, having recently learned to swim in the local pool, braved the water the group became four. Gradually the four different women became friends, shared secrets and heartache, were there for one another. Their friendship was the one constant in their lives; the ocean their solace.

After loving Aussie author Sophie Green’s The Inaugural Meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club, I was really looking forward to The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle and it didn’t disappoint. A wonderful, heartfelt, feel-good, wrap-you-in-a-hug story, there is sadness, loss, happiness, love – but most of all friendship. Set in Australia, it begins in the summer of 1982, giving us the insights into four people’s lives over a period of two years. An absolute delight, The Shelly Bay Ladies Swimming Circle is one I highly recommend and I’m looking forward to seeing what Ms Green comes up with next. 5 stars.

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

Guest Review: A Single Woman – Maggie Christensen

A Single Woman

Maggie Christensen

Cala Publishing

ASIN: B07PMV51JF

Description:

Isla Cameron. headmistress at an elite girl’s school in Glasgow, is determinedly single, adroitly avoiding all attempts at matchmaking by a close friend.

Widower Alasdair MacLeod is grieving for the wife he lost two years earlier, struggling as the single father of two teenagers, and frustrated by the well-meaning interference of his in-laws.

When a proposed school trip to France brings Isla and Alasdair together, they find a connection in the discovery that each is suffering the loss of a loved one, but neither is interested in forming a relationship,

As their friendship grows, Alasdair struggles with his increasing attraction to the elegant schoolmistress, while Isla harbours concerns about the complications a relationship with him would bring.

Can Alasdair overcome his natural reserve, and can Isla open her heart to love again?

Readers of Christensen’s earlier books, The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, will love reconnecting with Bel and Matt while enjoying Isla Cameron’s unique story.

Brenda’s Review:

Alasdair MacLeod’s grief over the death of his wife two years earlier felt all encompassing. His two teenage children, Fiona and Robbie coped with the loss of their mother in their own way, while Alasdair’s father-in-law Matt and his wife Bel helped the best they could. Fi belonged to an all girl’s school in Glasgow and idolized the headmistress, Isla Cameron who’d been in that position for the past ten years. Isla was happily single, living in a small flat with her cat Sooty, catching up with her best friend Shona now and then.

With a school trip to France on the agenda for a select few pupils, Fi was desperate to go along. Alasdair met with Isla to discuss the logistics – Fi was wheelchair bound, but if the French au pair accompanied them, Fi could join the trip. As Isla and Alasdair got to know one another, they both realized they had much in common. They both wanted companionship and friendship – but was Alasdair ready for a relationship? And did Isla want to give up her hard-won independence?

A Single Woman by Aussie author Maggie Christensen is loosely linked to The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, and it was wonderful to catch up with Bel and Matt, Alasdair’s children’s grandparents, again. This author’s characters are always so real; people who live next door; people we know and love. I thoroughly enjoyed A Single Woman and love the way Maggie writes about the older generation, with ease and aplomb. I’m already looking forward to this author’s next. Highly recommended. 5 stars

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