Review: White Horses by Rachael Treasure


Title: White Horses

Author: Rachael Treasure

Published: August 17th 2019, HarperCollins Au

Status: Read August 2019 courtesy HarperCollins/Netgalley


My Thoughts:

When I started making notes to write this review of White Horses by Rachael Treasure, I was disheartened to realise that on balance, the negatives for me outweighed the positives. This has nothing to do with the quality of writing as such, and everything to do with specific elements of the story that I personally didn’t care for.

Treasure’s passion for regenerative agriculture, and ethical animal husbandry, something she herself practices on her farm in Tasmania, is admirable and is clearly communicated in White Horses. It’s evident, even to a lay person, that the agricultural industry needs to embrace more sustainable, holistic methods of farming and Treasure doesn’t hesitate to drive this point this point home at every opportunity. ‘The Planet’ does sound inspirational, but there is no denying it has a cultish vibe, especially with the talk of the ‘Waking World’ vs the ‘Sleeping World’.

I really wasn’t too keen on the spiritual overtones of the story overall. While I’m all for love and light, compassion and cooperation, I personally found the endless philosophising a bit grating, and I thought the idea of the ‘ghost girl’ was cheesy.

I liked Drift (aka Melody Wood) well enough, she is smart, capable, idealistic, and feisty but also insecure and a bit naive. Her unusual upbringing, spent droving with her father, certainly seemed to have had some benefits, especially when it came to her connection with the land and the environment, but I was a little bothered that the author seemed to consider her isolation from her peers and unfamiliarity with technology somehow laudable.

The romance between Drift and ‘the stockman’ was okay, and obviously it all turns out fine. I would have preferred we had the opportunity to ‘see’ them spend more time together, instead we really only witness them at two crisis points.

*spoiler* One point I feel compelled to make is that the likelihood of ‘the stockman’ being legally allowed to re-enter the country, which leads to the HEA, would be almost nil, and it bugged me.

My biggest issue with the book however was the lack of repercussions for the men who assaulted Drift. It appeared that in both instances there were no formal charges laid against any of the men for the attacks on her (though it was hinted that they eventually faced consequences for other crimes). Perhaps I’m mistaken in my interpretation, but it seemed to me that the author implied that Drift was too ‘spiritual’ to require that the men answer for their crimes against her, and I was uncomfortable with that idea.

White Horses has received several glowing reviews from readers who were delighted with it, unfortunately I just wasn’t one of them.

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REview: The Near Miss by Fran Cusworth


Title: The Near Miss

Author: Fran Cusworth

Published: Harper Collins AU November 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from November 30 to December 02, 2015   – I own a copy

Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she’s dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?
Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won’t let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?
Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?

My Thoughts:

On a sunny afternoon, Grace’s young daughter Lotte, darts recklessly onto a busy road. Melody, sharing an icecream with her son Skipper, reacts instinctively to save her as Eddy, heading home from work, slams on his brakes and holds his breath. It’s a near miss, and a grateful Grace invites Melody and Eddy to dinner as a gesture of thanks.

“Years later Melody would wonder what might have happened had Romy and Eddy gone tidily home to their lives. The dinner party probably would have ended with them all saying goodbye at the earliest polite point. Some lives might not have ended in the way they did. Others might not have begun at all.”

The dinner party is a bit of a disaster, given they share little in common. Grace tries too hard, Melody is bored, and Eddy is devastated when his girlfriend, Romy, leaves with Melody’s plus one, and doesn’t come back. Yet circumstance conspires to keep them within reach of each other’s orbit as time moves on.

‘It’s no one’s fault. It’s just the pick-up-sticks of the universe, falling in a certain way. Now we look at what’s there and work out how to make the best of it.’

This is a character driven novel that unfolds over the course of about a year. Grace’s marriage collapses and she struggles with her new reality as a single mum. Melody continues to rely on her mantra ‘the universe will provide’ and just when Eddy is ready to move on, Romy comes back.

At the heart of the story lies the theme of friendship, and how the ‘near miss’ serves as an unexpected catalyst which sparks the formation of a bond between three very disparate people.

Unfortunately I didn’t really connect with the characters in a way which allowed me to become invested in their unspooling lives. It seemed obvious that Grace and her husband would find their way back to each other. I thought Eddy was boring, and I cared not a whit for Romy’s fate. Melody, I felt, was more flaky and vaguely irritating, than spiritual and enigmatic.

I have enjoyed several other novels by Fran Cusworth, most particularly Sisters of Spicefield, but for me The Near Miss was unremarkable and mundane. Goodreads reviews suggest I’m in the minority though, so it seems to be a case of ‘me, not you’.

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About: Buying Thyme by TJ Hamilton


Title: Buying Thyme {Thyme Trilogy #1}

Author: TJ Hamilton

Published: Harlequin AU October 2015

Status: Read from October 27 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy

What else comes at a price?
Miranda is a high-class escort at an infamous agency in Sydney, and always in demand from their top clients. Although it’s a life she never imagined for herself, Miranda has mastered the art of seducing men and makes a good living from it.
Joe Tench, rich, powerful and alluring, owns the majority of the nightlife in Sydney and is a regular client of Miranda’s. He’s demanding, dominating and dangerous, but Miranda finds herself falling for his unexpected, yet enticing charm.
That is, until she meets the mysterious Tom Smythe, heir to a wealthy mining company, and becomes caught between her feelings for these two very different men.
But neither is what they seem, and when tragedy forces Miranda to embark on a journey of discovery she will find it difficult to escape from. What price will she pay for freedom?

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Review: All I Have in This World by Michael Parker


Title: All I Have in this World

Author: Michael Parker

Published: Algonquin Books March 2014

Status: Read from March 13 to 16, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I’m left fairly underwhelmed by this novel which takes almost half the book to get to the point where it reflects the precis provided by the blurb.

The narrative shifts between 1994 and 2004 revealing the protagonists defining life moments. For Maria this is fleeing her hometown at seventeen after an abortion and the subsequent suicide of her boyfriend. For Marcus it is the failure of his dream, forcing him into bankruptcy and robbing his sister of her rightful inheritance. They are strangers when they meet in a car yard (nearly halfway through the book) and inexplicably decide to jointly purchase a sky blue, low slung Buick Electra.

The main themes of the novel explore regret, forgiveness and redemption but I had trouble maintaining my interest in two such introspective characters. Their angst about their individual circumstances seemed repetitive at times and the streams of consciousness were tiring. One sentence ran over three pages (p220-224) and it was not the only one.

I did like the vignettes that shared the history of the car and its previous owners and I would have liked more of these to provide additional interest.

All I Have In The World is the sort of novel that will likely gain praise for its literary style and I have to admit the imagery is often wonderful but it didn’t really work for me, in retrospect I probably should have put it aside instead of pushing through.

All I Have in This World is available to purchase from

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Review: Confessions of a Wild Child by Jackie Collins

Title: Confessions of a Wild Child: Lucky-The Early Years

Author: Jackie Collins

Published: Simon & Schuster Au September 2013

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from October 12 to 14, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

It has been years since I have read anything by Jackie Collins but I have fond memories of the early books that featured Lucky Santangelo. I think I was maybe eleven when I discovered Chances and was immediately enthralled by the glitz, violence and sex, a heady combination for a young suburban girl half a world away from Las Vegas. Lucky was wild, powerful and rich and I vaguely remember thinking I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. So, when I was offered the chance to read and review Confessions of a Wild Child: Lucky-The Early Years I simply could not resist.

This book begins as Lucky, just shy of fifteen years old, is sent to an exclusive girl’s boarding school with her father, Gino, intent on making his daughter into a lady in preparation for marriage and motherhood. But boarding school gives Lucky an education neither she nor her father expected,

Confessions is written from Lucky’s first person, present tense perspective. It reads as if a teenager wrote it with simple language and breathy dramatic asides “No more little Miss Innocent.”. It didn’t really work for me, the experience is not unlike reading your own teenage diary twenty years or more after the fact, without the rosy glow of nostalgia.

If you have read Chances or Lucky there won’t be any surprises in this book, Lucky’s youthful antics have already been covered there. The plot is shallow with the focus on Lucky discovering the power she wields with her burgeoning sexuality, on her terms. There is plenty of sex, though little that is actually explicit. Lucky is all about ‘Almost’, though friends Liz and Olympia aren’t so discerning. The story ends on the eve of sixteen year old Lucky’s marriage – you’ll have to read Chances to find out what happens next.

I have no idea who the audience for this book might be, I wouldn’t hand this over to a teenager (hypocritical I know) and for fans of the Lucky series, Confessions has nothing new to offer. While it was sort of nice to be reminded of my first experience reading Jackie Collins, Confessions itself was a disappointing read.

Available to Purchase From

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Review: Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich

Title: Big Girl Panties

Author: Stephanie Evanovich

Published: William Morrow July 2013

Status: Read from July 08 to 09, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

As the niece of Janet Evanovich, I was more than willing to give debut author Stephanie Evanovich the chance to impress me. The premise of this romantic comedy, Big Girl Panties, seemed promising. I much prefer a protagonist with average attributes and I looked forward to Logan shedding his bias to recognise that beauty is more than skin deep.

Sadly, while I think the writing was fine in general, I really struggled with particular elements of the story.

Primarily I was disappointed at the negative messages inherent in the relationship between Holly and Logan. Though the author makes an attempt to frame the issue of Holly’s weight with reference to health rather than attractiveness, it is a half hearted effort. At its core, the story still relies on the stereotype of the fat (and therefore ugly), lonely, jolly girl who, only after losing weight, becomes someone worthy of sexual attention and happiness (and the hot guy).

What had me almost toss the book aside though was the scene (just after the halfway mark) where Logan, with the encouragement of Chase, decides to spank Holly for talking back to him. Spanking is supposed to be a consensual activity within the terms of a loving and trusting relationship for the purpose of sexual arousal, it is not about disciplining a woman for a perceived slight. This scene not only soured me on Logan (and Chase and Amanda’s relationship) but also Holly, as while she slapped him in outrage, minutes later she is ashamed and embarrassed because ‘Logan has done nothing but help her’ and then the scene segues into their first sexual encounter – ugh!

Despite the temptation to put the book aside I kept reading hoping that Evanovich would turn things around somehow. Unfortunately, while Logan may eventually fall in love with the curvy Holly, there is no evidence that he has changed his attitude regarding ‘fat’ and should Holly ever gain back a few pounds I’m not convinced the relationship would survive. Meanwhile, Holly ends up staking her entire happiness on Logan’s acceptance of her and that is never healthy.

While I think Stephanie Evanovich was aiming to present an entertaining romantic comedy, in the final analysis, for me, Big Girl Panties was a disappointment.

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Review: The Last Victim by Karen Robards


Title: The Last Victim

Author: Karen Robards

Published: Random House August 2012

Synopsis: Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. A sought-after expert in criminal pathology, Charlie regularly sits face-to-face with madmen. Obsessed with learning what makes human monsters commit terrible crimes, Charlie desires little else from life—no doubt because when she was sixteen, she herself survived a serial killer’s bloodbath: A man butchered the family of Charlie’s best friend, Holly, then left the girl’s body on a seaside boardwalk one week later.
Because of the information Charlie gave police, the Boardwalk Killer went underground. She kept to herself her eerie postmortem visions of Holly and her mother. And even years later, knowing her contact with ghosts might undermine her credibility as a psychological expert, Charlie tells no one about the visits she gets from the spirit world. Now all-too-handsome FBI agent Tony Bartoli is telling Charlie that a teenage girl is missing, her family slaughtered. Bartoli suspects that after fifteen years, the Boardwalk Killer—or a sick copycat with his M.O.—is back. Time is running short for an innocent, kidnapped girl, and Bartoli pleads for Charlie’s help. This is the one case Charlie shouldn’t go near. But she also knows that she may be the one person in the world who can stop this vicious killer. For Charlie—whose good looks disguise a world of hurt, vulnerability, and potent psychic gifts—a frantic hunt for a madman soon becomes a complex test of cunning, passions, and secrets. Aiding Dr. Stone on her quest to catch a madman is a ghostly presence with bad intentions: the fiery spirit of seductive bad boy Michael Garland who refuses to be ignored, though in his cat and mouse game they may both lose their hearts. Dr. Charlotte Stone sees what others do not. And she sees the Boardwalk Killer coming for her. Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on August 04, 2012 {Courtesy Random House/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

I jumped at the chance to read the first book in Karen Robard’s newest series with its intriguing premise. Dr Charlie Stone studies serial killers, the motivation her own narrow escape from the Boardwalk Killer as a teenager. It has been 15 years since that terrible night but it seems the Boardwalk Killer, or a copycat, has surfaced and the FBI need Charlie’s help if they hope to save his latest victim. Using her expertise in profiling, and her hidden ability to see the spirits of the newly dead, Charlie assists the FBI team to piece together the clues that may end up leading her right into her worst nightmare.

I have no way of justifying my assessment of this novel without possibly revealing a spoiler related to the romantic element of the story, so read on at your own risk…

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this novel but within the first few pages when Dr Charlie Stone describes a serial killer, Michael Garland, sitting across from her during a clinical assessment, as ‘hot’ I was taken aback. Despite being jarred by what seemed to me to be a totally inappropriate descriptor, I dismissed it and kept reading. A few pages later and Garland is stabbed as he returns to his cell and despite her best efforts, Charlie is unable to save him. While I admired Charlie’s determined effort to save Garland despite his obvious fatal wound, I was a bit disturbed by the depth of her pity for a man convicted of murdering seven women as she witnesses his spirit being pulled into a purple mist, but again I chose to brush it aside. Yet from there the relationship between Charlie and Garland took a path I was even less comfortable with as Garland’s spirit attaches itself to her. Between Charlie’s repeated admiration of the dead man’s physique, charm and her inexplicable sympathy for him I was incredulous, however I held on, thinking that we would discover that in fact Garland wasn’t responsible for the murders after all, he was wrongly accused or framed or something. Garland certainly denies his guilt, but the lack of ‘the light’ and the presence of the ‘screaming mist’ seems to at least confirm the man has done something unsavoury and by the end of the novel there is no evidence that Garland was anything but a serial killer, abusive childhood non withstanding.
I just couldn’t deal with this relationship, especially when it becomes sexually intimate, which I thought was wrong on so many levels. Even if the author reveals in later books of the series that Garland is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted, it will be too late for me.

It’s a shame because there were other elements of the story I enjoyed yet I can’t get past the romantic relationship and I can’t recommend The Last Victim for that very reason, though others seem happy to overlook it, given its average 4 star rating on Goodreads. It’s not for me though, you will have to make up your own mind.

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Review: The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

Title: The Cookbook Collector

Author: Allegra Goodman

Published: Atlantic Books June 2012

Synopsis: At the turn of the last century, two sisters are following very different paths. Twenty-eight-year-old Emily is a CEO of an internet start-up; twenty-three-year-old Jess is a grad student in philosophy, a vegan who rejects the rampant capitalism that surrounds her. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley while capricious Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily’s boyfriend is fantastically successful; Jess’s boyfriend is an environmental activist. But as the burst of the Dotcom bubble looms and the falling towers of the World Trade Center cast a dark shadow over America, both sisters are torn between two loves, two lives. The Cookbook Collector serves up a lively stew of characters: bold young software titans, Berkeley tree-huggers, bibliophiles and a pair of investment savvy rabbis. In an increasingly virtual world, in an era of electronic organizers and onscreen identities, Allegra Goodman reminds us that the one thing that keeps us human is love.

Status: Read on June 23, 2012 {Courtesy Allen & Unwin Australia }

My Thoughts:

Actually this won’t be much of a review because after trudging through the first half of the book I basically skimmed the last, as I found that I had lost interest somewhere along the way. This novel revolves around two sisters, dotcom executive Emily and hippie philosophy student Jess, and takes place between the autumn of 1999 and the spring of 2002, against the backdrop of the tech boom and bust and September 11, set primarily in California. The novel compares the  paths the two sisters take in their relationships and career, contrasting their differing approaches to life and its challenges.

I’m not sure exactly why I failed to connect to the sisters, I found Jess more interesting than Emily, but only marginally and primarily because of her work in a rare bookstore. The story is cluttered with minor characters who are given too much importance through in some cases only a tenuous connection to the sisters.

I felt the plot had little in the way of action or drama, circling around the imminent public offering of Emily’s company for far too long and failing to move either character forward in the first half. What I would consider the pivotal plot points (family secrets revealed, Emily’s fiance’s betrayal, the dot com collapse, 9/11) are primarily crammed into the last 100 pages or so though there are multiple threads that don’t really seems to go anywhere.  I also thought he title of this novel misleading, it had very little to do with either the characters or the plot, except in the most oblique way.

This is not a novel that worked for me, but if you are considering reading it, it does have several positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon so I encourage you to get a second opinion, and if you have one, feel free to leave the link to your review in the comments.

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Review: Demons Like It Hot by Sidney Ayers

Title: Demons Like It Hot {Demons Unleashed #2}

Author: Sidney Ayers

Published: Sourcebooks Casablanca Dec 2011

Synopsis: Serah SanGermano runs a successful catering company in a Midwestern town. After she inadvertently helped her friend unleash a legion of demons, she’s been trying to hide her own newly discovered powers. Matthias Ambrose, a mysterious demon mercenary sent to protect her, has his own secret— one that will embroil them both in the scandal from hell.

Status: Read from November 23 to 25, 2011 — I own a copy (Courtesy Sourcebook/NetGalley)

My Thoughts:

I was tempted by the premise of this paranormal romance novel, it sounded fun, the cover is great and I am happy to give a new series a try. Unfortunately within a few chapters I realised it wasn’t going to for me, even though I forced myself to finish the book, determined to give it a chance.
For my tastes there was entirely too much angsty ‘I can’t/I can; I hate/I love’ going on. The heroine was in serious denial about every. single. thing. and there was barely any room for a plot in between the wailing monologues. I also thought was a lot of repetition in both information and phrasing.
The talking cat with the incomprehensible Scottish brogue was a step too far for me. On the up side, I liked several of the minor characters like Kalli and Edie and the idea to feed the demons colloid silver was inspired.
While Demons Like It Hot didn’t work for me, if you are a fan of paranormal romance then take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Available to Purchase

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Review: The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Carrie by Lori Wilde

Title: The Christmas Cookie Chronicles : Carrie (A Twilight, Texas Story}

Author: Lori Wilde

Published: Avon Impulse Nov 2011

Synopsis: Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club! “On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.” Carrie MacGregor doesn’t believe this—not one bit. She might be a “paid up” member of the Cookie Club and the local Sweethearts Knitting Club, but she’s not about to give in to the forced ho-ho-ho of the season. And why? Mark Leland. When he left town he broke Carrie’s heart. Now, the local-guy-made good is back, hosting the reality show “Fact or Fantasy.” Fact: Mark broke her heart. Fantasy: her friends think they’ll be getting back together. But could the magic of a Twilight, Texas Christmas make Carrie’s secret dreams come true?

Status: Read on November 23, 2011 — I own a copy {Courtesy Harper Collins/NetGalley}

My Thoughts:

Since the season is nearly upon us I couldn’t resist the lure of this title when it was offered. It sounded like a sweet and easy holiday read, which it was, kind of, but in a empty calorie kind of way.
There was no mention of it being a novella in the description so this was an unexpectedly short read with not a lot of substance. There was simply no time for anything but vague characters and a bare bones plot and I repeatedly felt like I must have skipped a dozen pages here and there. I can only surmise that the actual intent of this story is to introduce the cast and setting for the actual series, a teaser if you like. I would have preferred to know that going in though because I was disappointed it wasn’t the full length novel I was expecting.
I also discovered I was very distracted by the town being named Twilight (especially having seen Breaking Dawn just a few days ago), I kept waiting for a Bella or Edward to appear, unfair perhaps but the association is unavoidable I think.
Personally I read The Christmas Cookie Chronicles: Carrie in less than a half hour so it would make for a quick lunchtime or commuter read. If you are a fan of romance then this is a way to sample Wilde’s Twilight, Texas series and get into the festive spirit as well.

This title is currently available for FREE at Click HERE to download it for your Kindle, Kindle PC or Kindle App

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