Review: Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

 

Title: Darkest Place

Author: Jaye Ford

Published: Random House Feb 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read on February 08, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford’s previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn’t put it down til I finished the last page, just minutes before my husband’s alarm woke him for work at 5am.

After enduring years of guilt, heartbreak, and regret, Charlotte Townsend has finally found the strength to leave her past behind. In a new town, with a new apartment, and a new name, Carly has enrolled in college and is looking towards her future, but three days into her new life she wakes to find a stranger in her bedroom. When the police answer Carly’s call for help, they find no sign of the man and assure her it was likely a crime of opportunity. Though shaken by the intrusion Carly refuses to let the incident destroy her fledgling confidence…until then it happens again, and then again.

Darkest Place is an absorbing tale of psychological suspense. The tension builds slowly, gathering momentum until you realise you are holding your breath in anxious anticipation.

“She wants to scream. It’s building in her chest. Trapped there, scratching at her lungs as though her ribs are the bars holding it back. She hears breathing. Not her own. Deep and unhurried. It whispers across her face like a warm cloth. It turns her skin to ice. She lashes out. Hits, twists, kicks. She sees it in her mind, feels it in her muscles. But it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t move. Neither does he. She sees him now. A shape in the darkness. Above her, black and motionless. He is watching. She watches back. Fear roaring through her bones, pulse thumping in her ears. Her voice is wedged in her throat now and choking her. No. Something else is squeezing, pushing down, making blood pound in her face. Warm hand, hard fingers. She doesn’t want to see. Doesn’t want to feel. She shuts her eyes. Waits. “

Carly is a complex character, and given her emotionally fragility, I was never quite sure if I could trust her perception of events as the story progressed. The police certainly have their doubts about the reliability of her reports, and Carly’s psychiatrist offers a rational opinion that could explain her experiences, but I was sympathetic to her distress.

“She caught sight of herself in the mirror. Hair a mess, face tear-stained. Dark-ringed, pale, wild-eyed. And she spun away, the image burned onto her retinas. Distraught, panicked, confused. She looked like Charlotte. No, worse than that. She looked crazy.”

I have to admit I was ambivalent about the ending, though it works within the context of character and story, I didn’t find it wholly satisfying, though I can’t really reveal why I feel that way without the risk of spoilers. Nevertheless, there is closure and a sense of triumph and hope.

Darkest Place is Ford’s fifth novel and I would say her best to date. Clever, thrilling and gripping.

Available to purchase from

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Also by Jaye Ford reviewed at Book’d Out


Blog Tour Review: All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

 

Title: All That is Lost Between Us

Author: Sara Foster

Published: Simon & Schuster AU Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 03 to 04, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

All That is Lost Between Us is a compelling modern domestic thriller from Sara Foster.

Unfolding from the perspectives of the four members of the Turner family, it is a story about guilt, secrets, betrayal and loyalty.

Seventeen year old Georgia Turner, high school student and champion Fells runner, is preoccupied by a secret she can’t share, not even with her best friend and cousin, Sophia.
Anya is frustrated by her inability to connect with her increasingly withdrawn daughter who spurns both her concern and affection, as does her husband, Callum.
Callum, mired in unspoken resentments, has thrown himself into his voluntary work with the local Fells rescue team, and taken solace in the attentions of a younger colleague.
When Zac accidentally discovers a shocking photo hidden in his sister’s bedroom, he is at a loss as how to best deal with his discovery.

A hit and run incident involving Georgia and Sophia is the catalyst that drives the members of the Turner family to the brink of crisis. As suspicion grows that the actions of the unidentified driver was deliberate, Foster builds the tension as secrets begin to collide.

One of the main themes Foster’s story thoughtfully explores is the vulnerabilities of family. Emotional distance has frayed the bonds between husband and wife, parent and child, in All That is Lost Between Us. The strained relationships are sensitively and realistically portrayed, disconnected, they are each vulnerable in the crisis and struggle to bridge the gap to offer each other the support they need.

Georgia’s angst is well drawn, her increasingly fraught emotional state is believable as she obsesses over her secret with the self absorption of youth.
I empathised strongly with Anya, it is difficult to let your children pull away from you, to find the balance between encouraging them to make their own choices, and protect them from their inevitable mistakes. My oldest daughter is 19 and I too feel as if she is “breaking off a piece of my heart and taking it with her.” as she forges her own life.

Set in England’s Lake District, Foster’s descriptions of the landscape are vivid and evocative. The rugged beauty of the Fells, its craggy peaks and forested valleys and sheer cliffs, also reflects the changeable emotional states of the characters.

All That is Lost Between Us is a captivating read I’d recommend to both an adult and mature young adult audience.

Available to purchase from

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Visit the other blogs participating in the tour

#AllThatisLostBetweenUs

All-that-is-lost-Blog-Tour-800x600-v3

Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

 

Title: Summer Skin

Author: Kirsty Eagar

Published: Allen & Unwin Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 01 to 02, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Summer Skin offers a ‘girl meets boy’ story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the construct to present a love story that honest, unique and relevant.

I found Jess to be a particular refreshing character for the YA/NA genre, though a mess of contradictions, she reflects a realistic young woman still figuring out that life and its challenges are rarely black and white.

Mitch challenges Jess in interesting ways, at first glance he is everything Jess despises – an arrogant rugby playing sexist pig, and she holds tightly to that initial assessment, which she often uses as an excuse and justification throughout their relationship for her own behaviour, even as she learns that Mitch is a much more than that. They both struggle to define their relationship in terms of both their own identities, and each other.

There is real depth to this novel beneath the humor, mischief, drunken revelry, dress up balls, and instagram poses that exemplifies campus life. The author explores modern day feminism and how its meaning varies between individuals, illustrated by the differing attitudes and opinions of Jess and each of her close friends, Farren, Leanne and Allie. She captures the conflict many young women face when negotiating issues of lust, sex and intimacy in the age of the hook-up culture. Eagar also touches on several relevant issues affecting today’s young adults including the use, and abuse of social media, the way in which porn distorts attitudes to sex, the risks of speeding and drink driving, but she never preaches.

Aimed squarely at a mature young adult/new adult audience, Summer Skin is smart, funny, sexy and thought-provoking. There is nothing typical about it.

Available to purchase from

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Amazon US I Book Depository

and all good bookstores.

Also by Kirsty Eagar

@ Goodreads

Review: Numbered by Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

 

Title: Numbered

Author: Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

Published: Harlequin MIRA AU Jan 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read from January 26 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

‘Where are the damn tissues?’ is what I wrote when I finished Numbered by authors Ros Baxter and Amy Andrews.

When twenty nine year old Poppy Devine finds a lump in her breast she decides to get a jump on her bucket list, and surprises herself by crossing off three items in one day – Number one: Jump out of a plane, Number ten: Have sex with a stranger, Number twelve: Eat a Mexican meal.

Numbered is an emotive story, the tragedy of Poppy’s terminal diagnosis can’t fail to tug at the heart strings, but it is ultimately a celebration of life as Poppy with the support of her best friend Julia and no-longer-a-stranger ‘Ten’ (aka Quentin Carmody) endeavour to fulfil her bucket list before her time runs out.

Most of the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Julia and Quentin. Julia is both furious and devastated when her best friend is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and is determined that Poppy will beat it. In the meantime she will do everything she can to ensure Poppy has whatever she wants, she just doesn’t think that Poppy is making a wise choice in keeping Mr-Rock-God-Surfer-Boy-Football-Legend around. Twenty two year old musician/short order cook Quentin Carmody has never had a relationship that has lasted longer than a few weeks but he’s found something special with Poppy, both in and out of bed, and he’s determined not to let her go.

Numbered is as much a story about they way in which Julia and Quentin cope with Poppy’s inevitable death, more perhaps, than it is about Poppy’s courageous last days. I loved Julia’s feisty spirit and take no prisoners attitude, and the way in which Quentin sees past Poppy’s illness. Both strong personalities, Julia and Quentin want what is best for Poppy but they don’t always agree on what that is or how to make it happen. The bickering between them is often hilarious, providing much needed light relief, but is clearly edged with the pain and grief they feel.

Beautifully written with heart and humour, Numbered is a poignant yet life affirming novel about friendship, love, hope, grief and redemption, a wonderful read that will likely leave you smiling through your tears.

Available to purchase from

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Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

Review: Summer Harvest by Georgina Penney

 

Title: Summer Harvest

Author: Georgina Penney

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Jan 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read from January 24 to 25, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“‘A ticket to Australia,’ she said faintly.’Wonderful Gran, Louis, thank you so much.’ She forced her mouth to curve upwards into something resembling a smile.’This is great. Just great.'”

When Beth Poole’s grandmother gifts her an airline ticket from Yorkshire to Western Australia for her birthday she’s reluctant to vacation in a country in which every living thing seems to be lethal. Nevertheless, Beth books a months stay in a holiday cottage in George Creek looking forward to a few weeks of peace and quiet.

Loosely linked to Georgina Penney’s previous novels, Irrepressible You and Fly In Fly Out, Summer Harvest is a lovely contemporary romance novel set in the the south west winery region of Australia.

The focus of the story is on the relationship that develops between Beth and Clayton Hardy, whose family owns the winery next door to where Beth is staying. They enjoy an intimate holiday fling which becomes complicated when Beth reveals a secret she has been keeping. An additional subplot involves a fractious relationship between Clayton’s father, Rob Hardy and new winery hire, Gwen Stone, who have a history neither are willing to disclose. Both plotlines also explore the themes of loss, grief and moving on.

The characters are well drawn. Beth is a strong character, having survived the loss of her family and the desertion of her husband, as well as breast cancer, and Clayton is an appealing lead. I enjoyed the supporting characters including Beth’s outspoken grandmother Violet and Angie, the matriarch of the Evangaline Rest Winery, chatty Laura and her cheeky brother Jeff. Fred, the perpetually stoned farm hand, is good for a laugh too.

Penney’s writing style is warm, I enjoyed the very Aussie humour and the witty dialogue. The emotions are believable, the intimate scenes between Beth and Clay are well written and the story is well paced.

Summer Harvest is an engaging read and the ending satisfied the romantic in me.

Available to purchase from

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Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

It’s the 2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

2016AustraliaDay-bloghop

Welcome to the  Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop!

To celebrate Australia Day on the 26th January and the accompanying long weekend I am giving you the chance to win a book by an Australian author!

After you have entered my giveaway, make sure you follow the linky at the bottom of this post for more chances to win from over 30 hosts!

I will be drawing TWO winners via Random.org

One winner will be drawn from those who indicate they live in Australia and one winner will be drawn from those who indicate they live outside of Australia

Entries close at midnight on Wednesday 27th 2016. The winners will be announced (and contacted via email) the following week

You can choose a print book from **BookDepository.com to the value of $15AUD (You MUST qualify for the BookDepository free shipping)

or an ebook from Amazon.com to the value of $10 US

or an ebook from Amazon.au to the value of $10 AUD

Your chosen title must be written by an Australian author

Here are some suggested titles to browse

{click the cover image for more details from Goodreads}

 

and there are plenty more! Feel free to browse my Australian Reading page

Congratulations Hannah D (Aus) and Penny T (Int)

Then hop around the blogs of the other Australian’s celebrating with me!

*AUS = only Australian resident may enter; INT = accepts entries from outside of Australia*

 

1. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out (INT) 2. NicoleFlockton.com (INT)
3.Helene Young – Love in the heart of danger. (AUS) 4. The Bookshelf Gargoyle (INT)
5.Kim Kelly – Australian Author (INT) 6. readingwritingandriesling (INT)
7. Booklover Book Reviews (INT) 8. The Never Ending Bookshelf (INT)
9. Rachael Johns News (AUS) 10. Christy Collins (AUS)
11. Kylie Kaden (AUS) 12. Kirsty Eagar – Summer Skin (AUS)
13. Bedazzled by Books (INT) 14. Duffy the Writer (AUS)
15. Kathryn’s Inbox (INT) 16. Sara Foster (AUS)
17. A&U: Things Made From Letters (AUS) 18. CathrynHein.com (AUS)
19.  Lily Malone (INT) 20. Amanda Ortlepp (AUS)
21. Lisa Walker (AUS) 22. Carpe Librum (AUS)
23. Orange Pekoe Reviews (INT) 24. Writer with Wanderlust (AUS)
25. Books by Greg Barron (INT) 26. CarolynsWriting (AUS)
27. Elisabeth Storrs’ Triclinium (INT) 28. D.B. Tait (INT)
29. The Callahan Split (AUS) 30. Lost in a Good Book (AUS)
31. Jennifer Collin – Australian author (AUS) 32. Lizzy Chandler (INT)
33. Australian Women Writers Challenge (INT) 34. Wendy J Dunn (INT)
35. Jenn J McLeod (AUS) 36. Jennifer Scoullar (AUS)

Review: Rain Dogs by Adrian McKinty

 

Title: Rain Dogs {Sean Duffy #5}

Author: Adrian McKinty

Published: Allen & Unwin Jan 2016

Status: Read from January 14 to 17, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Adrian McKinty gives DI Sean Duffy another ‘locked room’ mystery to solve in his fifth Irish police procedural novel, Rain Dogs.

“No note, a missing notebook, a shoe on the wrong foot.”

When the shattered body of an English journalist is found in the locked grounds of Carrickfergus Castle, it is assumed the young woman committed suicide but something is not quite right and Duffy can’t leave it alone.

With the patient assistance of Lawson and McCrabban the Irish detective unravels a shocking conspiracy with roots in the highest echelons of power spanning three countries. It’s an interesting puzzle solved by Duffy’s intuition, dogged investigative skills, and disregard for authority, which I enjoyed trying to figure out. Lily Bigelowe’s death also pits Duffy against an old friend leading to a life and death confrontation.

Set against the Belfast’s “Troubles’ and referencing real events, this story, as are McKinty’s others, is well grounded in time and place. Riot police are a necessity at every public event and as a matter of course Duffy checks under his car every day for a bomb. The wintry weather underscores the bleak social and political atmosphere, and Duffy’s dismal personal life.

Madness, rain, Ireland, it all fits.”

I’m enjoying this gritty series, entertained by Duffy’s dark wit and the strong, interesting plots. I’m looking forward to the next.

 

Available to purchase from

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Book Depository I Amazon US I Amazon UK

and all good bookstores.

Review: Hold On To Me by Victoria Purman

 

Title: Hold On to Me {Boys of Summer #4}

Author: Victoria Purman

Published: Harlequin MIRA Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 20 to 22, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Hold On To Me is another sweet and sexy contemporary romance in Victoria Purman’s ‘Boys of Summer’ series.

Set on the Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, this novel features Luca Morelli, the younger brother of Anna from Our Kind of Love, and local boutique owner Stella Ryan. The pair meet when ‘Style by Stella’ is destroyed by fire and Anna insists her brother, a contractor, helps her rebuild.

The chemistry between the characters is obvious from their first meeting, despite the age difference (Luca is 6 years younger than her). At 29 and still establishing his new business, Luca hasn’t given much thought to settling down but he is intrigued by the feisty, if prickly, Stella. While he is one of the least complicated heroes of this series, Stella is perhaps the most complex heroine. Fiercely independent, a tumultuous childhood and a devastating betrayal has ensured she trusts no one. She is certain she isn’t interested in any type of relationship, but Luca slowly wears down her defenses, and Stella is eventually forced to confront her demons.

I love that Julia and Ry (Nobody But Him), Lizzie and Dan (Someone Like You) and Anna and Joe (Our Kind of Love) play a part in this story and I was glad for the opportunity to revisit the beautiful coast of Adelaide.

I enjoyed losing myself in the romance, drama, humor and heat of Hold On To Me and am happy to recommend it.

Hold On To Me is available to purchase from

Harlequin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

Also by Victoria Purman on Book’d Out

 

 

Review: Desert Flame by Janine Grey

 

Title: Desert Flame

Author: Janine Grey

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on January 19, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Desert Flame is a contemporary novel of romantic suspense set in rural Australia from author Janine Grey.

Eliza Mayberry is stunned when she learns her late father’s company is near bankrupt. With little left of her former life of privilege except the company name, ‘KinSearchers’ Eliza agrees to assist the firms single remaining client who wants Eliza to meet his long lost great nephew. Eliza’s search leads her to an opal claim near Lightning Ridge in outback New South Wales where she meets the disturbingly attractive Fingal McLeod, who couldn’t be less interested in reuniting with the family who abandoned he and his mother.

Fin’s focus is on his search for the rare Dark Flame opal to provide security for his ailing mother but Eliza proves to be a distraction he can’t ignore. The relationship between Eliza and Fin is initially based on mutual attraction and lust, which soon develops into admiration and respect as they get to know one another. The development is perhaps a little rushed but I did enjoy the romance. There are several intimate encounters in the novel and I thought they were well written, offering something more interesting (especially that outdoor shower spectacle) than the standard soft focus bedroom scenes.

Several threads of mild suspense run through Desert Flame. The first involves the suspicious behaviour of Fin’s mother’s long term companion, the second a series of mishaps at the mine, and the third involves the fate of Logan McLeod, Fin’s deadbeat dad. Grey balances the multiple story arcs well with the burgeoning relationship, creating a novel with an engaging mix of drama, tension and romance.

Humour springs from the quirky townspeople of Helton, such as cheeky Mick and the brassy barmaid. I thought Grey’s vivid descriptions of the mine and its surrounds evoked the heat, dust and isolation of the region. The only real flaw perhaps was the pacing which I felt was a little slow at times.

A quick and pleasant read, I enjoyed Desert Flame and I’d recommend it to fans of the genre.

Available via

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Amazon US

Review: The Grass is Greener by Loretta Hill

 

Title: The Grass is Greener

Author: Loretta Hill

Published: Bantam Australia January 2016

Status: Read from January 11 to 12, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Grass is Greener is Loretta Hill’s fifth contemporary novel and like the last, The Maxwell Sisters, this novel is also set largely among the vineyards in the fertile southern region of Western Australia.

“The long and short of it is….Bronwyn needed a sabbatical from the law, so she left town to work on my family’s vineyard. I wanted to get back into law so I marched in and took her job….It was a great plan from both of our perspectives and it would have been perfect-…”

Succumbing to family obligation has left best friends, Bronwyn Eddings and Claudia Franklin, miserable. Despite her pedigree, Bronwyn detests practicing law in Perth and dreams of another life, while Claudia resents having been compelled to abandon her own fledgling law career to work at her family’s failing winery. The solution seems simple, they’ll swap places and both get exactly what they want.

Of course it’s not nearly that easy and Hill introduces plenty of conflict for both of her protagonists to work through, developing circumstances that engender mild tension and drama.
Bronwyn’s high profile mother is furious when her daughter abandons her career without a backward glance and is insistent that Bronwyn return to the fold. The Franklin family, still struggling with the aftermath of family tragedy, are hurt by Claudia’s leaving and resistant to the idea of Bronwyn taking her place.
Additionally Claudia and Bronwyn both find themselves caught up in a strange situation involving a pregnant Mastiff, a possible dog fighting ring and a local crime heavyweight.
Romance also features heavily in The Grass is Greener. The return of Jack Franklin, Claudia’s eldest brother, to the vineyard after a five year absence reignites Bronwyn’s long held desire for him.
Meanwhile Claudia finds the dark good looks and intelligence of her immediate boss, Sebastian Rowlands irresistible, despite his breathtaking arrogance.

“The truth is. it was never about swapping our lives exactly. It was always about making the most of our own….

So…what you’re really saying is, the grass is greener on the other side, but only if you water it.”

The Grass Is Greener is a warm and engaging story about friendship, autonomy, family and love from Loretta Hill. Enjoy it on a summer’s afternoon with a glass of Western Australian wine.

Available via

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Amazon US

Also by Loretta Hill

@ Goodreads

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