The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale

Book blurb…

Gracie Ashcroft is supposed to marry Blake Beaumont in three months’ time. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who he is…

After an accident leaves Gracie with severe amnesia, she’s forced to decide: live a life that is made up of other people’s memories of who she was, or start a new life on her own. Leaving her fiancé Blake behind, she moves to the country where she takes on the task of reviving her family’s abandoned flower farm.

While attempting to restart a business with an uncertain future, she tries to come to terms with the grief of losing a mother she can’t remember and a fiancé she so badly wants to fall in love with again. What she doesn’t count on is developing a deep connection with Flynn, a local vet. Worst of all is having to confront the fact that she might lose either chance at love.

Forced to examine the person she has become, Gracie confronts the question: if you had your time over, would you live the same life twice?

My thoughts…

This is a book I would call ‘beautiful’ – one word that can be applied to the cover, the premise, the prose… everything really.

It is a love story, but it’s cleverly told, which means The Memories That Make Us stands out from the bunch. There is some serious backstory and the flower theme that carries the story is presented seamlessly and with such passion I felt the author had a real connection with this element. (Or maybe the author is that good to make me feel that!)  #TheMemoriesThatMakeUs #NetGalley

This review is also published on Goodreads and linked to Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn

Book blurb…

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

My thoughts…

I enjoyed this novel. There’s only one thing better than a plot about scandalous behaviour and that’s a storyline that involves the pointy end of politics. Anatomy of a Scandal has both in equal measure. I love to hate a corrupt fictional character. Add a cheating character and you’ll have me turning the pages until late into the evening. However, if I had the power of the pen I might have ended the book a little differently. I can’t say how, as I will give the ending away, just that I was a little let down. But that is purely personal and does not detract from the read. This is an excellent novel, especially if you like a story (characters) that will boil your blood and want you cheering for revenge!!

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster (Australia)

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That Girl by Kate Kerrigan

Book blurb…

You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

My thoughts…

I must admit to enjoying this novel a little too much!! The era and narration is something unique (to me, at least) and the gangster mole character makes for some feisty femme fatales in this tale of three women, each with very different backgrounds but all looking for one thing — genuine and lasting love.

Kate teases us with a complex cast of characters and a story with a simmering speakeasy feel.

Then, wham! The pace and the plot-twists grab you by the throat and you discover what a woman is capable of when she’s desperate and pushed to the edge by a man.

The narration is clear and colourful and befitting the fabulous period depicted in That Girl.

I’m now slowly working my way through Kate Kerrigan’s backlist.



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The Naturalist’s Daughter by Tea Cooper

Book blurb…

1808 Agnes Banks, NSW

Rose Winton wants nothing more than to work with her father, eminent naturalist Charles Winton, on his groundbreaking study of the platypus. Not only does she love him with all her heart, but the discoveries they have made could turn the scientific world on its head. When Charles is unable to make the long sea journey to present his findings to the prestigious Royal Society in England, Rose must venture forth in his stead. What she discovers there will change the lives of future generations.

1908 Sydney, NSW

Tamsin Alleyn has been given a mission: travel to the Hunter Valley and retrieve an old sketchbook of debatable value, gifted to the Public Library by a recluse. But when she gets there, she finds there is more to the book than meets the eye, and more than one interested party. Shaw Everdene, a young antiquarian bookseller and lawyer seems to have his own agenda when it comes to the book – and Tamsin. In an attempt to discover the book’s true provenance Tamsin decides to work with him.

The deeper they delve, the more intricate the mystery becomes. As the lives of two women a century apart converge, discoveries rise up from the past and reach into the future, with irrevocable consequences…

My thoughts…

The Naturalist’s Daughter captivated me. It’s a fabulous as the cover – and the cover is divine.

After reading this beautifully told story I want to sit on a shady bank, by a river, where Platypus live and watch them while imagining earlier time in Australia when Charles Winton and his daughter, Rose, lived.

The lives of both Rose and Tamsin, although characters living 100 years apart, are so wonderfully drawn I want more! I want to keep reading and discover other family members. (There’s a whole generation that can have its own story, so come on Tea!) I’m dying to know more about Rose’s mother and Charles during their time in Agnes Bank.

If you like historical fiction and Australian authors, put this book on your TBR pile.

This review is also published on Goodreads and linked to Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Where the Murray River Runs by Darry Fraser

Book blurb…

A nineteenth-century story of greed, honour and an overwhelming love

Bendigo 1890

Ard O’Rourke is Linley Seymour’s perfect man. They’ve known each other since they were children and she has never wanted anyone else. But when she discovers Ard has fathered a child with another woman, her dreams turn to dust.

Then fate takes a hand. Linley and her Aunt Cee Cee run a women’s refuge and Linley finds herself unexpectedly and painfully the guardian of Ard’s baby: a child that needs her protection from the greed-filled schemes of a violent man.

Ard knows he has no hope with Linley and decides to follow his own path: one that brings him close to redemption. But when he learns Linley and the child are in danger, his own child at that, he cannot stop himself speeding to their aid.

Will he prevail? Can Linley find it in her heart to forgive him? Or will their love come to nothing at the hands of a violent man?

A compulsively readable historical adventure, set on the banks of the mighty Murray River.

My thoughts…

Once again with Darry Fraser, I was transported back in time and to life on the Murray River in the late 1800s.  Having recently traced The Mighty Murray River all the way from South Australia, and spent time in Echuca, I was strolling the streets and the steamer decks as the story progressed.

The author has created characters that you cannot help but love.  Ard is a great character, regardless of his indiscretion with Linley’s friend. I longed for him to win over Linley’s heart.

This book also made me think. It tackles the subject of domestic violence in the 1890’s — an issue I had only thought about as a modern-day scourge. I did find myself hoping for a particular character to get what he deserved.  Darry, your creation of this character (you know who he is) was brilliant, I could just about smell his presence when as I turned the pages.

I also fell in love with James.

What else can I say? I was actually on each page with all of these characters and I love a book that gets under my skin.  Thank you.

I am sad to leave Where the Murray River Runs.

This review is also published on Goodreads and linked to Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Deep Freeze by John Sandford

Book blurb…

Class reunions: a time for memories – good, bad, and, as Virgil Flowers is about to find out, deadly – in the thrilling new novel in the number one New York Times-bestselling series 

Virgil knows the town of Trippton, Minnesota, a little too well. A few years back, he investigated the corrupt – and as it turned out, homicidal – local school board, and now the town’s back in view with more alarming news: A woman’s been found dead, frozen in a block of ice. There’s a possibility that it might be connected to a high school class of twenty years ago that has a mid-winter reunion coming up, and so, wrapping his coat a little tighter, Virgil begins to dig into twenty years’ worth of traumas, feuds, and bad blood. In the process, one thing becomes increasingly clear to him. It’s true what they say: High school is murder.

My thoughts…

I enjoyed reading Deep Freeze. The writing transported me to the small town of Trippton, a rather ‘interesting’ town and, ah, entrepreneurial population. I must say, I enjoyed the curious plot line and found myself having a giggle every now and then. Not something you’d expect in a murder mystery So 5 stars for originality!

There is a second crime committed in this small town. Is it connected to the original murder?

While I enjoyed the story, it was a little slow. But sometimes that’s okay as well.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge by Kali Napier

Book blurb…

Every family has secrets that bind them together. A heart-rending story of a guesthouse keeper and his wife who attempt to start over, from devastatingly talented debut author Kali Napier.

1932. Ernie and Lily Hass, and their daughter, Girlie, have lost almost everything in the Depression; all they have keeping their small family together are their secrets. Abandoning their failing wheat farm and small-town gossip, they make a new start on the west coast of Australia where they begin to build a summer guesthouse. But forming new alliances with the locals isn’t easy.

Into the Hasses’ new life wanders Lily’s shell-shocked brother, Tommy, after three harrowing years on the road following his incarceration. Tommy is seeking answers that will cut to the heart of who Ernie, Lily and Girlie really are.

Inspired by the author’s own family history, The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge is a haunting, memorable and moving tale of one family’s search for belonging. Kali Napier breathes a fever-pitch intensity into the story of these emotionally fragile characters as their secrets are revealed with tragic consequences. If you loved The Light Between Oceans and The Woolgrower’s Companion you will love this story.

My Thoughts…

I have to agree with other reviewers that this debut novel will garner high praise and no doubt be a contender for a few literary awards. And well deserved, too. 

The story is a journey back in time and told with such authenticity I had to look up the author to see she wasn’t 101 years old! The attention to detail is astounding: the setting, the terminology/language, the various conflicts the Hass family comes up against. As such, it is not the sort of read you will whip through. It took me quite a bit longer to get through this one due to me wanting read every word!! You will love some characters and wonder about others. 

It is a historical novel with a simmering plot line, well foreshadowed and the big secret(s) mostly revealed in the last few (and deliberately short) chapters. 

A real beauty for lovers of historical Australian fiction. 

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

Review also linked to Australian Women Writers Challenge

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Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

Book blurb…

What happens when ambition trumps the truth?

A town reeling in the wake of tragedy…

An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside.

An aspiring journalist desperate for a story…

The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t enough to even cover rent. Rose needs a story — a big one.

A bizarre mystery…

In the weeks after the courthouse fire, porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.

Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbour turns on neighbour and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.

My thoughts…

There are a number of issues erupting in this really small town and Rose’s job is to solve them, but I was not particularly drawn to her as a character. I could not relate to her at all (she was very selfish) and the local police who spent their time at the tavern were thuggish, their morals questionable.

I might suggest this book is for a younger reader as overall I enjoyed this story. I just can’t be too passionate about the characters and Rose’s manipulation of the townsfolk to achieve her own goals did not leave me feeling good.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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White Bodies by Jane Robins

Book blurb…

Callie loves Tilda. She’s her sister, after all. And she’s beautiful and successful.

Tilda loves Felix. He’s her husband. Successful and charismatic, he is also controlling, suspicious and, possibly, dangerous. Still, Tilda loves Felix.

And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.

So she’s determined to save her. But the cost could destroy them all…

My thoughts…

The twists and turns throughout White Bodies were chilling and clever.  The author crafted a plot that was full of suspense and had me trying to guess where the story was going.  The relationship between the characters was complex, well portrayed, and totally unpredictable. A captivating story.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin Australia

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The Good Mother by Karen Osman

Book blurb…

How far would you go to protect your children?

A gripping psychological suspense, with a shocking twist that will leave you reeling…

Catherine is a good mother and a good wife. The family home is immaculate, her husband’s supper is cooked on time, but when she starts writing to Michael, a prisoner convicted of murder, she finds herself obsessing about his crime and whether he can ever truly be forgiven…   Kate has no time for herself. Caught in the maelstrom of bringing up two young children with no money, and an out-of-work husband, she longs to escape the drudgery of being a wife and a mother. And she soon starts taking dangerous risks to feel alive…   Alison has flown the nest. But university life is not what she had hoped for, and she finds herself alone and unhappy. Until the day her professor takes a sudden interest in her. Then everything changes…   Three women – all with secrets. And as the days tick down to Michael’s release, those secrets can no longer be ignored.

My thoughts…

I found the structure of The Good Mother intriguing, but I can’t tell you why because this is a story you need to read for yourself to see just how clever the author is.

Catherine, Kate and Alison are all interesting characters who find themselves entangled in their own desires and wondering if there is a way out for them.

A story well worth reading as it touches on some interesting areas of life and love.

This review is also published on Goodreads

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