Guest Review: The Heartwood Hotel – Kerry McGinniss

The Heartwood Hotel

The Heartwood Hotel

Kerry McGinnis

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143789048


‘The Heartwood is the core of this district. It always has been so, but it’s still just a building. It’s your family – you and Adam and old Tiger – who animate it, keep the heart beating, so to speak.’

In the abandoned railhead town of Tewinga, now almost a ghost town, Lyn and Adam Portman struggle to keep the Heartwood Hotel afloat. Lyn loves her husband and longs to be a mother. But she’s kept busy caring for her elderly father, her community, and Max, the young worker who reminds her of the brother she’s lost and dearly misses.

When he fails to return from a day trip, Lyn’s concern deepens as the length of his absence grows, the more so with rumours of criminal activity at a nearby station. Meanwhile, a chance meeting uncovers a family bombshell that leaves Lyn reeling. The community must pull together as never before, proving that sometimes the smallest towns have the biggest hearts – and hide the darkest secrets.

From the bestselling author of Secrets of the Springs, this is the new outback mystery from Australia’s authentic rural writer and beloved voice of the bush.


Brenda’s Review:

Lyn Portman and her husband Adam had returned to the small Queensland outback town of Tewinga, where Heartwood Hotel reigned supreme over the area, and where Lyn’s dad, Tiger was still living. He needed care though after his beloved wife, and Lyn’s mother had passed away. Lyn knew she and Adam were needed in the district. The arrival of Max, a backpacker from Adelaide on his gap year before starting uni and his serious law degree was a boon for them, as he was a hard worker and friendly – they would be sorry when he moved on.

The day after the rodeo, Max headed off on his bike for a little R & R – he told Lyn and Tiger he would be back the next day. But Max didn’t return. Lyn’s mild concerns became serious worry although the police weren’t taking her seriously. But with the rumour of drugs and criminals in the area, Lyn called Max’s parents – but would it be too late? Max was nowhere to be found and with the days that had passed, the chance of finding him alive became more remote.

What would happen to Lyn and Adam – to old Tiger, and to Max? And when Lyn discovered something set in her family’s past that could change the future, she was astounded at the family secrets she’d known nothing about…

The Heartwood Hotel is another exceptional contemporary, outback rural mystery novel by Aussie author Kerry McGinnis which I devoured. A mix of intrigue, secrets, heartache, hope and family sweep through the Australian outback country, with the bulldust and flies, the changing seasons and the heart of the community – always there for the neighbours. A fabulous novel, The Heartwood Hotel is one I highly recommend. 5 stars

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

Post Script: A Time To Run: J M Peace

This is the perfect Australian (based in Qld) authentic voiced, police procedural.

Book Cover: A Time To Run - J M Peace: Pan Macmillan

Time To Run

J M Peace

Pan Macmillan

ISBN: 9781743537862


A Time to Run is a tense crime thriller set in the Queensland bush featuring a cop-turned-victim and a Wolf Creek-style killer.

J.M. Peace is a serving police officer on the Sunshine Coast and over the past 15 years she has worked throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities.

J.M. writes with chilling authenticity and a strong Australian voice.


The hunt is on


A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.


Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent die on her watch.


The killer’s newest prey isn’t like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.



My View:

I loved this read – with its authentic police voice, its gripping narrative, its wonderful strong female protagonists and its Queensland setting.


The details of policing/investigating that the author shares with the reader are intriguing and realistic. Too often crime fiction novels or movies/TV series based on crime fiction skip a lot of these type of details, giving their protagonists the power to do as they please, how they please. This narrative reveals the reality of the work, chapters alternate between settings in the police station where we see the hard work being played out and the legal requirements being adhered to juxtaposed against scenes of Sammi in the forest, scenes of the practical against the tense, emotional and terrifying.

Jay Peace subtly weaves important lessons into this narrative when she chooses a cop as the victim of this crime; consciously or unconsciously her voice is saying “this could happen to you, if it can happen to a cop it can happen to anyone.” She is saying don’t blame the victim, it is not her fault she was targeted, blame the perpetrator.


The pace is fast, the tension grows as we race to find Sammi. The reader often finds themselves asking “what they would do if in this situation.” Sammi is practical, focussed and realistic, the hint of paranormal/Angels adds an extra dimension to her character and to the read. Is she hallucinating? Is she dreaming? I loved this element of the story – just a wisp of “other worldly” adding interest and asking questions that the author lets you answer.


A great debut novel that only leaves one question unanswered, when is the next book in this series ready for release?



During the week I will share a Q & A with the author and host a giveaway of the book on my Friday Freebies 🙂

To see what other book bloggers thing about this novel – check out the other participants on this blog tour here.


Post Script: Nest – Inga Simpson

Life affirming, restful and restorative.


Inga Simpson

Hachette Australia

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632341



Once an artist and teacher, Jen now spends her time watching the birds around her house and tending her lush sub-tropical garden near the small town where she grew up. The only person she sees regularly is Henry, who comes after school for drawing lessons.


When a girl in Henry’s class goes missing, Jen is pulled back into the depths of her own past. When she was Henry’s age she lost her father and her best friend Michael – both within a week. The whole town talked about it then, and now, nearly forty years later, they’re talking about it again.


Everyone is waiting – for the girl to be found and the summer rain to arrive. At last, when the answers do come, like the wet, it is in a drenching, revitalising downpour.



My View:

This is a beautifully painted picture of rich colours, ruffled feathers, about creating a space, a nest; to lie in, to return to, to heal and nurture oneself in or is this more about the empty nest? This is a complicated narrative beautifully told.


It was by coincidence I picked up this book just as we were travelling around south east Queensland, here, now, the land is dry and waiting for the rains as is the area and town this book is set in. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the landscape, the flora and the fauna and the deep connection the protagonist has with the land and the rhythms of the seasons.  It is a very relaxing almost meditative style of storytelling that quietly involves the reader in Jen’s the day to day life. There is something pleasing about her ritual baking, her weeding, planting and creation of art, her observation of nature. Jen appears to be leaving in the moment, but realistically she is stuck in the past; in past relationships, in lost lives and absent parents.


Slowly we witness Jen’s metamorphosis into a more whole and emotionally healthy individual as the mysteries surrounding her are revealed and she reconnects with the present and the community. We are given hints that she may have let go of last relationship as she scatters mementos to the wind and reconnects with old school friends and rediscovers a friend who may be moving back to the area who shares her interest in birds. She reconnects to her community through her art and her passion for rehabilitating the bush. Nature is a wonderfully healer.


Nest and all the permutations of its meaning are discussed and revealed for the reader to reflect upon in this narrative. Cherish the writing in this book, reflect on the peaceful setting and appreciate the healing hands of Mother Nature.