Sunday, January 27, 2019

Review: A Greater World

Title: A Greater World
Author: Clare Flynn
Publisher: 10th January 2019 by Canelo
Pages: 543 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, womens fiction
My Rating: 4 cups


A wrenching saga of the voyage that changed their lives.

Elizabeth Morton, born into a prosperous family, and Michael Winterbourne, a miner, come from different worlds but when they each suffer unspeakable and life-changing tragedy they’re set on a path that intertwines on the deck of the SS Historic, bound for Sydney.
Falling in love should have been the end to all their troubles. But fate and the mysterious Jack Kidd make sure it's only the beginning.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading the story of  Elizabeth and Michael - two people from very different social rankings, who were forced to leave their homes in England to start anew in Australia during the 1920s. They met on the boat journey to Australia and the story follows how things unfolded for each of them in the this new ‘greater’ world.

It makes for a good historical romance with lots of occurrences over a number of years. You will certainly feel for both Elizabeth and Michael with what fate (or the actions of others) had in store for them. It is quite epic with a lot happening entailing life and death, city and country existence, family and friends, love and ruin just to name a few. The hardships they endure is cruel at times, however, nothing was to be easy in starting over with nothing.

The true vision of this story I believe,  is about enduring and overcoming circumstances to build resilience and inner strength to do what is right and just with the cards life has dealt you. Both the main and secondary characters were well executed, my only concern is that there were a few too many convenient encounters throughout the story that you have to simply let go of and just ride with them on the journey of unfolding events. However, I read to escape, not to question, therefore it’s a good experience if a little contrived.

An easy and enjoyable read that I believe fairly accurately captures life back then, the hardships for women and the strength and fortitude to overcome them in the long run.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Review: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton

Title: The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton
Author: Anstey Harris
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Australia), Jan 1st 2019
Pages: 368 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
My Rating: 3.5 cups


Jojo Moyes meets Eleanor Oliphant in The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, an utterly charming novel that proves that sometimes you have to break your heart to make it whole.

Grace once had the beginnings of a promising musical career, but she hasn't been able to play her cello publicly since a traumatic event at music college years ago. Since then, she's built a quiet life for herself in her small English village, repairing instruments and nurturing her long- distance affair with David, the man who has helped her rebuild her life even as she puts her dreams of a family on hold until his children are old enough for him to leave his loveless marriage.

But when David saves the life of a woman in the Paris Metro, his resulting fame shines a light onto the real state of the relationship(s) in his life. Shattered, Grace hits rock bottom and abandons everything that has been important to her, including her dream of entering and winning the world's most important violin-making competition. Her closest friends--a charming elderly violinist with a secret love affair of his own, and her store clerk, a gifted but angst-ridden teenage girl--step in to help, but will their friendship be enough to help her pick up the pieces?

Filled with lovable, quirky characters, this poignant novel explores the realities of relationships and heartbreak and shows that when it comes to love, there's more than one way to find happiness.

My Thoughts

The aspect I enjoyed most about The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton was the interesting characters and Grace’s relationship with them.
The story starts with Grace, the protagonist, spending time with her married boyfriend. I didn’t like the fact she was committing infidelity, I thought that bit could have been  changed to just a long distance relationship, but the way the story progressed with them hiding their relationship, I guess it was needed.

“Anyone could tell we are a couple. Even his wife. Even his children.”

Grace stays with David in Paris, as often as he can get away from his family. He tells her, he is in a loveless marriage and she believes him.

“Although they live in the same house, David and his wife rarely talk nowadays...I have learnt over the years, to avoid thinking about David’s home life. To imagine that he and his wife share a bedroom, that they used to talk in the dark like we do, would twist a cruel knife deep into an already livid injury.”

The rest of the time, Grace runs a shop repairing and restoring musical instruments. It’s a quiet, uneventful life, but Grace enjoys it. She would be a famous musician if a tragic event in her past hadn’t happened. Due to the event, she is unable to publically play her cello, she can only play freely when no one is listening.
Grace has an unusual friendship with an elderly man, who is one of her customers.

“I have arranged to see Mr Wlliams today - he is one of my favourite customers, Nadia’s too. He isn’t a great player, although he’s a good one, but he’s erudite and interesting and there’s something delightfully anachronistic about his perfect suits and silk cravats. The other thing that draws me to Mr Wiliams is that I know loneliness when I see it.”

I really enjoyed reading about the way these two unusual friends relate to each other. Grace also has a friendship with a 17 year old girl who works for her, Nadia. She is a moody teenager with problems of her own, but she is an amazing violinist who offers to help Grace overcome her fear of performing in public.

“...‘I’m going to coach you,’ she says. With other people, there might be gentle warm-up to this. It might be a question rather than a statement, or an offer couched and hidden in less controversial things.”

Grace becomes a mentor for Nadia, more like a substitute mum because Nadia’s family don’t understand her. I enjoyed reading how their relationship developed and how they helped each other.

When an event occurs and David’s family find out about the affair, Grace has a mental breakdown and does something she will always regret. These two people, Mr Williams and Nadia, help her and bring her back from the brink of despair.

This book has a lot of underlying issues and was an enjoyable and easy read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Review: The Diary

Title: The Diary
Author: Vikki Patis
Publisher: Bookouture, 26 November 2018
Pages: 294 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
My Rating: 4 cups


‘I know all your secrets, Lauren.’

Lauren has spent years running away from her home town, her childhood and the memories of her best friend, Hannah.

Until the tenth anniversary of Hannah’s death forces her to return home and to the group of friends she abandoned there. It should be a quick visit, just so Lauren can pay her respects.

At home, Lauren finds Hannah’s old diary. A diary full of secrets. The terrible things Lauren did, the lies she’s told, the reason she ran away. And she receives a message:

‘I don’t know why you’re back, but I know why you left.’

But no-one else has seen the diary, and Hannah’s dead, isn’t she?

A suspenseful psychological thriller full of twists and turns – you won’t be able to stop turning the pages of The Diary. Perfect for fans of The Sister, The Girl on the Train and We Were Liars.

My Thoughts
I really love getting my teeth into a good psychological thriller and The Diary didn’t disappoint me. The story begins with Lauren, the protagonist going back to her hometown for the 10th anniversary of her sister, Hannah’s death. She is reluctant to return due to events in her past, but she does so, for her father.

‘Nothing could make me go back. I read the text from my dad’s next week. You should come, Lauren. For me.’

When she returns to Hitchin, she reconnects with friends from her past. They had previously let her down which caused her to flee her hometown and start a new life in Cornwall, where she meets Kate, a police officer and begins a relationship with her.

‘Kate doesn’t know everything about my past. She knows about Hannah, and how she died. She knows I was bullied, but not all of it, not how bad it got. She doesn’t know about Seth.’

The book is written in two time periods, then and now. The then parts outline the events of the past and explain why Lauren is so reluctant to return to Hitchin. The now parts describe how she feels and reacts to the people who she meets after so long. It’s a clever way of writing and keeps the book interesting and the pages turning.

When they were children, Lauren and Hannah had a very close relationship because their mothers were very good friends and after Hannah started living with them, she became Lauren’s sister,  even though they were not blood related. She was a very strong influence on Lauren and Lauren relied heavily on her for everything.

‘She wasn’t technically my sister - we had different parents, different upbringings. When Hannah was sixteen, her mum left her dad and moved in with my dad, who had remained single since my mum died.’

While she is in Hitchin, Lauren starts receiving chilling text messages from unknown numbers:

‘I don’t know why you’re back, but I know why you left.’

She starts to investigate who could be sending these messages and why. She finds a diary written by Hannah and it begins to answer some of the questions she has about the past.

I really enjoyed the way this story progressed and the relationships developed along the way. It kept me guessing all the way through with the twists and turns. Vikki is a very clever storyteller and the twist at the end was certainly unexpected! All the unanswered questions were answered and the story had a neat ending. I recommend this book for fellow lovers of psychological thrillers.

‘I allow myself to imagine the future. I turn my gaze forwards instead of backwards. This year, we’ll create new experiences and new memories. This year, we’ll move on.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Review: The Sisters

Title: The Sisters
Author: Kate Forster
Publisher: Head of Zeus, Aria, 20 November 2018
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: General Fiction (women’s), Romance
My Rating: 4.5 cups


Wealth and privilege can't buy you love... or keep your secrets safe.

The de Santoval sisters are heiresses to a glamorous fashion house, and the darlings of LA society.

Violetta is the hottest reality TV star of the moment, with a fierce press interest to rival Hollywood's A-list.

Carlotta is an exclusive horse trainer, as wild as the stallions she breaks in.

Fine-arts consultant Grace is hiding a dark secret she must keep hidden at all costs.

Their mother, wealthy fashion maven Birdie De Santoval, lies unconscious following a mysterious accident. Blame soon falls on their powerful but ruthless tycoon father, the missing Leon De Santoval.

Beneath the ritzy façade of the de Santoval family lies a web of deceit and betrayal that hides a secret that threatens to destroy them all...

My Thoughts

It took me a while to get into The Sisters, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down. It started off slow and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, but I loved it! In every chapter, each character’s story was described in detail and some chapters began in a different time period. This could have become quite confusing, but the way Kate wrote it, it wasn’t confusing at all because she used links to all the characters.  I didn’t like Leon, but he was integral to the whole story and he got his ‘come uppance’ in the end!

'Money and size were Leon’s benchmarks when it came to art and life. More stores, bigger houses, bigger cars and even the triplets were a pride of his. Although his
daughters were disappointing, the mere fact that he had fathered triplets was enough for him to boast about.'

The sisters were triplets and all lived their own separate lives and rarely saw each other or their mother, Birdie. When Birdie was hurt tragically  which resulted in her being in a coma, the three sisters all gave up their lives to save the family business, Pajaro. Pajaro was a once successful clothing company, their father had run into the ground and stolen money from to run away with his lover.

‘...“we have reports he has left with a woman, a Melanie Sanger...can you tell me anything about her...Melanie is Leon’s long-term mistress. Been together for about 12 years, as far as I know”...’

Even though this is a common story, tragic event causes family members to come back together, it wasn’t a predictable story and it certainly didn’t have a predictable ending! I really enjoyed how the sisters re-evaluated their lives and came together to support their mother and the family business.

'Violetta was filled with a desire like she had never felt before-she knew she wanted to take this on, not for Leon but for Birdie. There was no way her father was going to have the satisfaction of watching Pajaro disappear into financial oblivion from wherever he and his trashy mistress were now, living off the money he had stolen from the company.'

Their relationships with each other strengthened and they all grew to rely on and support each other as they had when they were children.

‘...“Trinity,” they all said together, an old superstition from childhood coming back to them. Trinity was what Birdie had called them when they were small...they became so used to the term, they used it whenever they decided that they were all in on something. It had been a long time since they had said it but each one of them felt good saying it after all these years. The Trinity was back.’

Towards the end of the book, there was a twist that I didn’t see coming. This was a very enjoyable read which I highly recommend. It was an easy read, but had enough substance in it to keep the pages turning!

‘Birdie looked at them and the tears fell freely. “I haven’t lost anything,” she said indignantly. “It’s quite the opposite. I have found everything and I don’t want to miss a moment.” The sisters looked at each other and smiled. Birdie was right.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Review: Saving You

Title:  Saving You
Author: Charlotte Nash
Publisher: 29th January 2019 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: contemporary fiction
My Rating: 5 cups

One single mother. Three escaped pensioners. A road trip across the United States.
The new emotionally compelling page-turner by Australia's Charlotte Nash.
In their tiny pale green cottage under the trees, Mallory Cook and her five-year-old son, Harry, are a little family unit who weather the storms of life together. Money is tight after Harry's father, Duncan, abandoned them to expand his business in New York. So when Duncan fails to return Harry after a visit, Mallory boards a plane to bring her son home any way she can.
During the journey, a chance encounter with three retirees on the run from their care home leads Mallory on an unlikely group road trip across the United States. Zadie, Ernie, and Jock each have their own reasons for making the journey and along the way the four of them will learn the lengths they will travel to save each other - and themselves.
Saving You is the beautiful, emotionally compelling page-turner by Charlotte Nash, best selling Australian author of The Horseman and The Paris Wedding. If you love the stories of Jojo Moyes and Fiona McCallum you will devour this book.

My Thoughts

‘Saving You’ by Aussie author Charlotte Nash initially had me perplexed - this looked to be a real departure from her usual storytelling. Having read and loved her, ‘The Paris Wedding’ (HERE) what would my thoughts be on this new style? Well, I am happy to report I loved it. Charlotte takes the reader on such a heartwarming venture that will take you from the crest of laughter to the trough of despair. What a rollercoaster!

There is just so much to love about this book - the main character, Mallory, goes on an amazing literal and figurative life changing journey. The three retirees (on the run from their aged care facility) Zadie, Ernie, and Jock, whilst an unlikely combination are fabulous within their own right. Then there is AJ, the rugged love interest. These five key characters, each with their own hurts and wishes, bring together a range of issues that Charlotte tackles seamlessly and works together wonderfully well for the reader. Each may be facing their own demons, but it is in working together that they will hopefully be able to move forward.

The road trip across America is a great escapade in its own right, but the journey itself brings with it as much tears and heartache as it does joy. Each will be challenged and there are some definite surprises along the way, one that had me audibly gasping in shock. All up, I highly recommend that you go and grab/order a copy of Charlotte’s latest book for a tale that is infused with much laughter, many tears and a hope for reconciliation for the future.

“ was addictive in its promise of goodness and wonder, in its hope that even in the dark cracks of sorrow, something better could come again.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Friday, January 18, 2019

Review: The Spite Game

Title: The Spite Game
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Publisher: HQ, 29th October 2018
Pages: 320 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers
My Rating: 4.5 cups

Everyone does bad things when no one is watching

Mercilessly bullied in high school, Ava knows she needs to put the past behind her and move on, but she can’t—not until she’s exacted precise, catastrophic revenge on the people who hurt her the most.

First, she watches Saanvi. Flawlessly chic and working hard at a top architectural firm, Saanvi has it all together on the surface. But everyone does bad things when they think no one is watching and Ava only wants what’s fair—to destroy Saanvi’s life the way her own was destroyed.

Next, she watches Cass. She’s there as Cass tries on wedding dresses, she’s there when Cass picks out a cake, she’s there when Cass betrays her fiancé. She’s the reason Cass’s entire future comes crashing down.

Finally, Ava watches Mel. Mel was always the ringleader and if anyone has to pay, it’s her. But one tiny slipup and Ava realizes the truth: Mel knows she’s being watched, and she’s ready to play Ava’s games to the bitter end.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy reading psychological thrillers and this was no exception, it kept me gripped right till the end. It begins with the protagonist, Ava, sitting in a police station after supposedly committing a crime.

“I know what you’ll want. My confession. Plain and simple, just the facts. That isn’t how this is going to work. If you want me to confess, then you’ll have to listen to the whole thing. My story.”

The next part begins 10 years earlier when Ava is still at high school and she befriends three girls who are the ‘cool girls’. Without spoiling the story, the girls do some horrible, unforgivable things to Ava. The whole rest of her life is influenced by these events at high school.

The story kept changing which time frame it was in, one minute it was 2018 and Ava was at the police station, the next it was 2008 and she was moving house and still in high school or it was 2011 and she was planning and implementing her revenge. I enjoyed this aspect of storytelling, it kept it very interesting all the way through the book.

One of the other characters, Beatrice, suffers from an illness which is minimally mentioned throughout the book, but somehow endears you to her.

“After a few seconds, she started to cry. ‘I hate this,’ she whispered into my ear.”

There is a very clever twist right at the end which I did not see coming, so it was a very good ending. I highly recommend this book to any lovers of psychological thrillers, it kept me interested and wanting to turn pages right to the very end.

“Finally, I see you. Your face is unknown to me, the short haircut, the lines on the forehead. But your eyes, I know your eyes. They are exactly as they were.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.