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

Harlequin  Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

Review: Night Study by Maria V Snyder

 

Title: Night Study {Soulfinders #2; Study#5; The Chronicles of Ixia #9}

Author: Maria V Snyder

Published: Harlequin MIRA Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 25 to 26, 2016 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Shadow Study ended on a cliffhanger so I’ve been looking forward to Night Study, the second installment in the Soulfinders trilogy, the fifth book in the ‘Study’ series, and the eighth installment in ‘The Chronicles of Ixia’ series.

I don’t want to spoil the many surprises Night Study has in store for fans with a lot of personal upheaval for Yelena and Valek against the background of escalating tension between Sitia and Ixia.

Perhaps it’s enough to say there is plenty of excitement and action – a terrible conspiracy is discovered, and there are some game changing moments for several of the characters. I raced through the book caught up in the adventure and mystery, entertained by the humour and made breathless by the emotion.

A great read for fans like myself, I’m looking forward to (and slightly dreading) the epic conclusion in Dawn Study.

Available via

Harlequin US I Amazon US I BookDepository I Indie Bound

Booko

also reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Poison Study Magic Study Fire Study

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

Penguin  Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

bookdateimwayr

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is now hosted at Book Date

Life…

It’s time to celebrate! Be in it to win it!

2016AustraliaDay-bloghop

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted

Desert Flame by Janine Grey

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon

Hold On To Me by Victoria Purman

Confucius Jane by Katie Lynch

Strictly Between Us by Jane Fallon

 

New Posts

Review: Desert Flame by Janine Grey

Review: Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddpn

Review: Hold On To Me by Victoria Purman

Review: Confucius Jane by Katie Lynch

It’s the 2016 Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop

2016AustraliaDay-bloghop

ENTER NOW

 

What I Am Reading Today

English dog trainer Beth Poole is having trouble getting her life back together after beating a life-threatening illness and divorcing her husband. When her Aussie-soap-obsessed grandma sends her to Australia to recover, it seems a great opportunity for some rest and relaxation while she figures out what’s next. But when Beth arrives in Australia things get off to a rocky start. To begin with, she’s on the wrong coast and there are deadly creatures everywhere. And if that weren’t enough, her neighbours are driving her crazy. She’s staying in the beautiful Margaret River wine region, right next door to a family-owned vineyard. It should be perfect, but the boisterous Hardy clan just don’t seem able to leave her alone. The usually reserved Beth is soon reluctantly embroiled in their family disputes and romantic entanglements. And eldest son Clayton Hardy is proving surprisingly persistent. The more Beth gets to know Clayton and the Hardys, the more she sees what she wants for her future. But as the end of summer approaches, her past comes back to haunt her and will test her newfound relationships to the limit.

 

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Ever since being kidnapped from the Illiais Jungle as a child, Yelena Zaltana’s life has been fraught with peril. But the recent loss of her Soulfinding abilities has endangered her more than ever before. As she desperately searches for a way to reclaim her magic, her enemies are closing in, and neither Ixia nor Sitia is safe for her anymore. Especially since the growing discord between the two countries and the possibility of a war threatens everything Yelena holds dear.   Valek is determined to protect Yelena, but he’s quickly running out of options. The Commander suspects that his loyalties are divided, and he’s been keeping secrets from Valek…secrets that put him, Yelena and all their friends in terrible danger. As they uncover the various layers of the Commander’s mysterious plans, they realize it’s far more sinister than they could have ever imagined.

Live every day like it was your last. Mathematician and many-time Loser in Love Poppy Devine believes in being prepared. So when she discovers she has breast cancer, all she has to do is dust off the carefully numbered bucket list she prepared years before with her best friend Julia. There are only two problems: Quentin, a gorgeous younger man with rock-star ambitions, wasn’t on her list. And take-a-risk Julia, has suddenly come over all disapproving. Together with Poppy’s hippy mother Scarlet, the three form an unlikely alliance to help Poppy realise her goals. Sky diving, swimming with sharks, cooking classes in Tuscany, visiting an orphanage in India are all part of the journey. Along the way, Poppy is forced to confront her best friend’s grief, her fraught relationship with her mother, and the fact that she really might be using her last available time on earth to make the most imperfect match of her life. But Poppy comes to learn that when your days are numbered there’s no such thing as perfect and love really is all you need.

With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynn Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynn is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury… Danger has never looked quite so delicious…

She knows how the bodies are buried. How can a young woman crawl out of a grave that she’s been buried in for two years, but only have died within hours? How can a World War Two plane that’s been missing for decades suddenly reappear on the beach where it was last seen – with the pilot’s body in the cockpit? How can a girl disappear from the Empire State Building only to reappear almost instantly in Times Square looking like an angel fallen to earth? This is the work of the ‘Warlock’ – a case which has the FBI clueless and facing the rising hysteria of believers who see ‘Warlock’ as a miracle worker. Enter Jessica Blackwood, FBI Agent and ex-illusionist. Only she has the knowledge and the skills necessary to see beyond the illusions. Only she can stop the ‘Warlock’

***********

Sign Up for the 2016 Eclectic Reader Challenge

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

Thanks for stopping by!

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

Allen and Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU  I via Booko

Book Depository I Amazon US I Amazon UK

and all good bookstores.

Review: Confucius Jane by Katie Lynch

 

Title: Confucius Jane

Author: Katie Lynch

Published: Forge Books Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

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

My Thoughts:

Confucius Jane is an engaging contemporary romance novel from debut author Katie Lynch.

It’s from the office window of her uncle’s fortune cookie factory that aspiring poet Jane first spies the blonde haired woman who regularly lunches at the noodle shop across the street but it’s only at the repeated urging of her 11 year old cousin Minette she finally introduces herself. Sutton St James is just weeks away from finishing her medical studies and is anxious about taking the next step in her career, she doesn’t have time for a new relationship, but is disarmed by Jane’s friendly approach.

The physical attraction between the couple is strong, illustrated by several steamy intimate scenes later on. And though they have very different backgrounds and ambitions, it is obvious as they get to know one another that Jane is the ying to Sutton’s yang.

Issues common to any relationship are explored such as trust, independence and commitment, and as expected in a romance novel, Lynch puts several obstacles in the couples path, the most challenging when Sutton is faced with a devastating family crisis. Lynch also touches on some more serious issues including medical ethics, Multiple Sclerosis and media exploitation. There is also a hint of Chinese mysticism related to the fortunes Jane writes.

Set in New York’s Chinatown, Lynch’s vivid portrayal of its community, from the people to its crowded streets and stores, are charming. Foodies will enjoy the delicious descriptions of fragrant noodles and hot Chinese dumplings, and may even be tempted to try fried chicken feet.

In general the writing is of a good standard, and I enjoyed Jane and Sutton’s flirty banter, though some of the dialogue doesn’t ring quite true, veering into cliched sentimentalism on occasion. The pacing is appropriate and the story concludes with a satisfying HEA.

Confucius Jane is the first commercial romance novel I have read featuring a lesbian relationship, and I found it to be an enjoyable read.

Available via

PanMacmillan AUS I BookDepositoryAmazon US I Indiebound

Amazon AU I Amazon UK I Booko

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: Try Not To Breathe by Holly Seddon

 

Title: Try Not To Breathe

Author: Holly Seddon

Published: Corvus Jan 2016

Status:  Read from January 19 to 20, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Try Not to Breathe is Holly Seddon’s debut novel, an interesting story of psychological suspense which has been picked up by publishers worldwide.

The story unfolds through the perspectives of three main characters; Alex Dale -a barely functioning alcoholic working as a freelance journalist, Amy -who has lain comatose for fifteen years after a brutal attack by an unidentified assailant, and Jacob -Amy’s teenage sweetheart who has never quite been able to let her go. Their lives become entwined when Alex, writing a story about a medical breakthrough in communicating with patients in a persistent vegetative state, recognises Amy from the reports of the crime at the time, and becomes obsessed with her story.

Slowly Seddon allows Alex to unravel the mystery by digging through media and crime reports and speaking with Amy’s family and friends. Despite his misgivings, Jacob, Amy’s boyfriend at the time of the attack, agrees to cooperate with Alex. He has secretly been visiting Amy regularly for the last decade and now with his wife about to give birth to their first child is desperate for closure.

There are a number of red herrings in the plot though honestly it’s not difficult to guess the identity of Amy’s attacker fairly early on. Still the author maintains the general tension well as Alex pieces the circumstances together.

Seddon’s characterisation of Alex is the star of this novel. Deeply flawed, Alex is an alcoholic whose drinking has destroyed her marriage, career and friendships. She devotes a few hours every morning to her freelance work and then begins drinking at noon til she passes out, waking up with soiled sheets and little memory of her nights, to repeat the cycle again. As Alex delves into Amy’s life she is forced to exert more control over her drinking if she has any hope of seeing justice done.

Amy’s dreamy, confused narrative meanwhile lends a real sense of poignancy to the story and ensures the reader doesn’t forget the reality of the tragedy. And though Amy’s possible level of awareness is in reality unknowable, her plight is heart wrenching.

Try Not to Breathe (though I’m at loss to explain the relevance of the title) is an impressive debut novel with an intriguing premise and well drawn characters. I’m looking forward to seeing how this author develops.

Available via

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US I Amazon UK I Book Depository

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

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

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