Posted in Book Reviews

Christmas at Woolworths by Elaine Everest

I enjoy seasonal reads and Christmas at Woolworths was such an enjoyable and enlightening read!

This is my honest and unbiased review in return for a copy of this book from the publishers.

christmas at woolworthsI found myself fully immersed in the story all the way through the book.  The characters are well developed, authentic and endearing.  I loved that the women were depicted as strong, interesting and inspirational characters.

Right from the start, I was intrigued to find out what life was like for those amazing women living in Erith, Kent.  Freya, Ruby, Maisie, Sarah, Betty, Maureen, Vera and Pat to name but a few of the characters are all very different people drawn together during WWII.  Some of them have bonded whilst working at Woolworths, and others by living together and supporting one another in this tight-knit community.

Although I am too young to have lived during this war era, I found myself reflecting on what life must have been like for these people.  Their strength and camaraderie is inspirational and heart-warming.  Each character is highly motivated to do their part to try and end the war so life could return to normal.  They endured the constant threat of scary air raids and buildings being bombed, but all the while trying to lead as normal lives as possible.

Woolworths is the hub of the town that people relied upon to create a sense of normality and where women could prove that they are as capable of doing a magnificent job of running a business as men could.  As you are most likely aware, in those days, women were expected to stay at home and men ran the businesses.  These wonderful women fund-raised to support the war effort and also provided auxiliary support for fire services and ARP, as well as taking in refugees into their homes.

This wonderfully written, well researched book gives an amazing insight into the lives of these brave characters.  I enjoyed the interaction between the characters, which offered intimate glimpses into their budding friendships and romances.  The intrigue and mystery created by some new arrivals made me very curious indeed to keep reading!

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I was kept thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.  This book is full of exciting plots and interesting characters.  I didn’t want the story to end!

I can highly recommend this book, not only as a fantastic Christmas read, but also as a heart-warming story that will leave you filled with good cheer and a sense of positivity for the festive season!

This book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

The Summer House by Jenny Hale

I loved the The Summer House as it was filled with intrigue, romance, friendship and family secrets.

summer houseCallie Weaver and her best friend, Olivia decide it’s time for fresh start and invest in a beach house.  Their plan is to renovate and open the house as a bed & breakfast at North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Whilst out getting some lunch one day, Callie unexpectedly meets local heartthrob, Luke Sullivan.  She finds herself drawn to him, despite feeling that a relationship is the furthest thing from her mind.

During the renovation process, Callie and Olivia come across an old diary belonging to the previous owner.  The diary is full of past secrets, with the potential to affect lives in the present.  They decide to give it to the owner’s brother to see what he wants to do with it.

What a perfect summer holiday read!  I loved the way that the author handled the story.  The setting was gorgeous and easy to visualise.  The characters were well developed and likeable.  I could easily imagine the seaside village and the characters.  I enjoyed the suspense that played out alongside the sweet romance when old secrets were revealed.

I was happy to discover that Luke, although coming from a wealthy family, wasn’t a “spoilt rich boy”.  Instead, he turned out to be a caring, helpful and very likeable character.  I found myself really rooting for Luke and Callie’s happily ever after.

This was an enjoyable and entertaining read, which I would recommend to anyone looking for a “time to chill and read” experience.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This feel-good book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Ahh….who doesn’t like a feel-good story.  I loved Geekerella!

geekerellaGeekerella is a modern day Cinderella tale starring Elle Wittimer, a geeky 17 year old, who feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere.  She is orphaned when her father dies and forced into virtual slave labour by her demanding stepmother and twin stepsisters.  Elle escapes her bleak reality by losing herself in the fantasy world of Starfield, an old TV show, which she used to watch with her dad.  She even writes extensively about all things Starfield on her blog, Rebelgunner.

Elle discovers that her favourite show is being remade into a film.  She is extremely disappointed to find that Darien Freeman, a soap star, will be playing Federation Prince Carmindor.

Elle hears that the producers of Starfield are hosting a CosPlay contest, which she is desperate to win as it could be her ticket to a brighter and better future for herself.  She has been scrimping and saving behind her stepmother’s back so that she can pay for her ExcelsiCon ticket and expenses.

Elle works part-time on the Magic Pumpkin food truck with Sage, her green-haired, best friend, who helps her on her quest to go to ExcelsiCon.  Sage, together with Elle’s newfound text “friend”, embolden her to open up and take charge of her life.

Meanwhile, Darien is reluctant about having to participate in this year’s ExcelsiCon as the “true” Starfield fans have written him off as just another shallow heartthrob, totally unsuitable to play Carmindor.  What they don’t know is that Darien is a closet nerd and a Starfield super fan.  Under pressure from his father, Darien is frustrated by the constant burden of having to maintain his superstar image.  He really just wants to be himself.  He wants someone in his life, who will understand and support him without judgement.  Someone like the girl he’s been texting, by accident at first, but it feels right as he can be himself with her – except he can’t reveal his identity.

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Conclusion

This book pays homage to the fandom culture and I highly recommend it.  I was charmed by the references to Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, amongst others.  The Cinderella retelling made me feel nostalgic and happy.

This book helps us to understand that we are all unique and deserve to be loved.  We discovered how much the characters learnt about themselves and despite being scared, they were brave enough to stand up for what they believed in and what they wanted.

The advice then is:  You have a voice, so use it to stand up for yourself.  This is your life.  Take charge and unlock your potential.  Surround yourself with people who care about you and distance yourself from those who seek to trample all over you.  You also deserve a happy ending.

This feel-good book deserves

Thanks to NetGalley and Quirk Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Posted in Book Reviews

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft

I enjoyed Beneath a Burning Sky.  This intriguing historical novel takes place in two locations, one being England and the other being Egypt.

burning skyThe main character, Olivia, 22 years old, is coerced into marriage by her grandmother to a cruel and abusive man known as Alistair Sheldon.  She relocates to Egypt with him and is happily reunited with her sister, Clara.  She is treated atrociously by Alistair and inadvertently develops feelings for her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram, when he befriends her.

Amidst all the tension, Clara is kidnapped when they visit the city.  The reason behind this abduction is unclear and Olivia does her utmost to find her, despite all the obstructions put in her path.

Without spoiling it for you, I can say that this is a thrilling and deeply intriguing story with plenty of action, romance and suspense, predominantly set in Egypt during the 19th century.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.

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The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“In a world of etiquette and polite masks, no one is who they seem to be.”

The Beautiful Ones reads like a classic novel with a paranormal twist.

beautiful onesThis beautifully written story is all about Hector Auvrey and Nina Beaulieu. Hector is out to exact revenge on the woman who broke his heart. Nina is a socially awkward young girl, who unwittingly falls in love in Hector.  She later finds out that she was being deceived.

The story is told from the perspectives of three very different characters: Hector, Nina, and Valerie. Hector is a telekinetic “talent”, previously impoverished, now a wealthy well-known stage performer. He has spent a decade pining for his first love.  Valerie, the antagonist of the novel, is a bitter, jealous woman, who was guilted into marriage to a wealthy man by her family.  Valerie resents Nina, her cousin by marriage, who has the social freedom that she never had. She is naive and somewhat impulsive.  Nina, like Hector, is telekinetic, and her uncontrolled displays have rendered her a social nuisance.

I don’t want to spoil the story for you.  What I can say is that you won’t regret reading this fascinating book.  I was enchanted by this elegantly written novel filled with vibrant, captivating characters.  I found the tension between the characters gripping and authentic.  I didn’t want this story to end!

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with this ARC.

This book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe by Heather Smith

“Set in 1980s Newfoundland, The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is the story of a 14-year-old girl who runs away to the city and is taken in by a street musician who lives with an eclectic cast of characters: a pot smoking dishwasher with culinary dreams; a drag queen with a tragic past; a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost.”

agony bun

Bun is fourteen and it’s 1986.  She has lived almost her entire life in a junk filled house with her hoarder mother.  Bun is kicked out of her home with no money and nowhere to go.  She finds a place to stay with a motley group of twenty-somethings.  Now maybe she can finally learn how to find her own way in life.

The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is a well written and interesting read. Smith has a unique style and Bun is a quirky and interesting character.  All the characters are real and engaging.

The plot is fascinating. Bun deals with love, loss, numbness all while trying to find her way in life. She has some interesting coping mechanisms, which you will read about in this story.

Smith deals with difficult subjects like abuse, AIDs, and prostitution in an appropriate way. The ultimate message here is about how to deal with real family and what it means to choose your own family. This leaves you feeling a little sad, yet uplifted at the same time.

I think that this book will be enjoyed by teens and adults alike. The Agony of Bun O’Keefe is a fresh and fascinating story.  I’m sure that you will enjoy it as much as I have.

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This book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix

Thank you, Bookouture, for inviting me to read this fabulous book:  The Silk Weaver’s Wife by Debbie Rix.

silk weaver's wifeI really enjoyed this authentic portrayal of silk weaving history meeting silk weaving present.  The author does an amazing job of interweaving the stories to make this an emotional and entertaining read.

I highly recommend that you take a moment and read this wonderful book, which transported me to the past and then brought me back to the present in a thought provoking and memorable way.

The Silk Weaver’s Wife is set in two different time periods – silk weaving in 1704 and 2017.  Anastasia is the main character in 1704 and her family is headed by a very difficult father with a gambling problem. She has fallen in love with Marco but it appears that her father has different plans for her and forces her to marry someone else, who treats her very badly.  Her story is absolutely devastating but attests to her strength of character.

The author incorporated lots of fascinating historical facts relating to travel, silk weaving, and fabric design as well as art, which lends interest to the chapters relating to 1704.

The chapters of 2017 speak of Millie, who is the main character.  A journalist, who finds herself in an unsatisfactory romantic relationship with her married boss.  She is given the opportunity to write a feature in Italy, exploring the silk weaving history of a particular area.  A little romance wouldn’t go amiss either…

 

Debbie Rix is skilled at interfacing the past with the present throughout this storyline.  I really enjoyed waiting for the stories to unfold chapter by chapter.  I was sorry when the story came to an end as I was enthralled from start to finish.  This is an extremely well written, emotive, fascinating and authentic historical read.  I’m sure that you’ll enjoy as much as I did.  I LOVED this book!

I’ve definitely found a new favourite author!  Thank you, Debbie Rix and Bookouture for introducing me to this great author!

This fantastic book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

Detention Land by Susan Orion

“Detention Land” by Susan Orion can only be described as an unusual read.

detention landThe story had potential but it lacked appeal for me, sorry to say.  You may enjoy it as I think that we all like different stories for different reasons.

Roger is a 15 year old boy, who appears to be constantly in trouble, which causes him to be placed in endless detentions, where he is in dialogue with an anonymous person via an intercom system.

The story alternates between when he is in detention and him writing in his journal. The impression I received form this story was that Roger was a very troubled youth, both emotionally and psychologically.  I think that it showed that he used his imagination to cope with the reality of his troubled life.

It sounded like his parents were possibly neglectful and abusive but this was seemingly downplayed by the anonymous speaker so I was left wondering about this.  Was Roger being bullied?

I’m hoping that some of the confusion I felt in reading this book will be clarified in the next book in this series.

 

I received a copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley for free in exchange for an honest review.

Book warrants

Posted in Book Reviews

Salt Creek by Lucy Treloar

Thank you to Lucy Treloar and Emma Draude of ED PR for my copy of Salt Creek in exchange for an honest review.

salt creek

In 1855, Stanton Finch decides to leave his failed businesses behind in Adelaide and relocates his family to an isolated farm in Coorong to start over.  Stanton is sure that cattle farming is all he needs to get his finances back on track.

His family, having been used to a genteel way of life, are appalled when they arrive at the ramshackle property, built using washed up timber.  Despite this setback, they endeavour to try and get on with building a new life here.

Unfortunately, Stanton is an inexperienced, inept farmer and an even worse business man. He soon borrows beyond his means and has no idea about managing the land, which soon becomes run down. The local Aboriginals, the Ngarrindjeri, complain to him about the damage the cattle are doing to the land and particularly to the soaks they need for fresh water. Initially to help, Stanton fences off soaks for the Aboriginals use.  Then drought strikes causing him to remove the fences and he tells them to relocate elsewhere as there isn’t enough water for everyone. It is interesting to note that Stanton, a god fearing man, believes that the Aboriginals can be ‘civilised’.  He takes on the project of educating and training a young half-caste Aboriginal boy called Tully, who quickly integrates into the family and serves as an interpreter for his own people.  (You will definitely want to find out what intrigue this creates!)

Hester (Life in Salt Creek)

Salt Creek follows the family through a downward spiral in their fortunes as their existence becomes more and more difficult. Hester, the oldest daughter is the narrator, recounting the events of those years from her current home. She is lumbered with handling most of the chores and cooking as her mother battles to cope with her new life.  Hester also takes on teaching Tully and the younger children.   Despite the hardships, this family do experience some happy times as the family makes its own fun.  Hester comes to appreciate the beauty of Coorong especially after she meets Charles, a young surveyor travelling through the area with his father.  (Could there be a romance brewing?)

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Conclusion

The author doesn’t hold back and gives an authentic narration of what life was like for both the settlers and the local people.  Salt Creek is a gripping tale and you will find yourself fully immersed in the background of this story as if you were living it yourself.  You will feel a range of emotions from one extreme to the other as you read further into this book.

I really loved this book. As well as telling Hester’s journey, it documents the difficulties naive Europeans experienced with farming in Australia and their complete disregard of the knowledge of the local Aboriginals, who could have taught them much about agriculture and land conservation/preservation.

Lucy Treloar has done an excellent job of described the traditions of the Ngarrindjeri and in describing their fate as a result of the incursion of uninvited Europeans into their lands.  She has really captured the essence of historical life in the Coorong.

This is beautifully written historical fiction and I would highly recommend Salt Creek to all who enjoy this genre, especially if you have an interest in early Australian history.

This beautifully written book deserves

Posted in Book Reviews

Wishbones by Virginia MacGregor

This is one of the best YA books that I’ve read about depression and eating disorders.  It illustrates what it’s like to be a teenager in the 21st century.

WishbonesFeather Tucker loves her mum, competitive swimming, her goat Houdini and her best friend, Jake.  She is a teenager, who loves unconditionally, is non-judgemental and tries to help others selflessly.

Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mum, Jo, in a diabetic coma.  She is seriously overweight, hasn’t left the house in years and binges on junk food.

Feather is determined to get her mum healthy again and devises a plan to help her. She soon finds out that her mum isn’t interested in getting healthy.  Feather starts to suspect that there is an underlying reason for her mum’s behaviour.   She doesn’t understand why her dad keeps sabotaging her efforts.  No-one will tell her what’s going on.

Clay, a new boy, arrives in the village to stay with his grandpa, Rev. Cootes.  He used to live here when he was much younger, but something happened causing him and his mother to move to America.  There is a shared guilty secret, which is feeding Jo’s overeating and Clay’s struggle with food avoidance.

Virginia MacGregor sensitively addresses so many important issues here including depression, eating disorders, immigration, loneliness, sexuality and mental health.  The setbacks suffered by the characters are realistic. You will empathise with their struggles and applaud their bravery.

This is a touching, heart-warming tale about a tragedy, which turns out to have a happy ending.

This book earns a well-deserved 4 stars.

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