The Postmistress by Alison Stuart

Book blurb…

A stunning historical tale of loss, desire and courage that is full of the terror and the beauty of the Australian bush, for readers of The Thorn Birds, The Naturalist’s Daughter and The Widow of Ballarat.

To forge a new life she must first deal with her past…

1871 Adelaide Greaves and her young son have found sanctuary in the Australian town of Maiden’s Creek, where she works as a postmistress. The rough Victorian goldmining settlement is a hard place for a woman – especially as the other women in town don’t know what to make of her – but through force of will and sheer necessity, Adelaide carves out a role.

But her past is coming to find her, and the embittered and scarred Confederate soldier Caleb Hunt, in town in search of gold and not without a dark past of his own, might be the only one who can help. Can Adelaide trust him? Can she trust anyone?

When death and danger threaten – some from her past, some borne of the Australian bush – she must swallow her pride and turn to Caleb to join her in the fight, a fight she is determined to win…

My thoughts…

This story certainly took me on a journey into life in an Australian gold mining town in 1871.

I enjoyed getting to know Caleb and Adelaide was a strong woman (and one who deserved everything she got in the end).

An enjoyable read from a reader new to me. I look forward to reading more from the same time period and town.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Linked to Australian Womens Writers Challenge

Published by HarperCollins Australia

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The Accusation by Wendy James

Book blurb…

Somebody is lying.  After eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, her bizarre story of kidnap and escape enthrals the nation. Who would do such a thing? And why?

Local drama teacher Suzannah Wells, once a minor celebrity, is new to town. Suddenly she’s in the spotlight again, accused of being the monster who drugged and bound a teenager in her basement. As stories about her past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt her innocence.

And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?

A powerful exploration of the fragility of trust and the loss of innocence, from the author of The Golden Child and The Mistake.

My thoughts…

Another well-crafted novel by this talented Australian author.

What I enjoy about Wendy’s novels is the way she uses social media as both subject matter and as a tool to inform the reader.

This story had me from the beginning and whilst I had my doubts about the accusation against Suzannah I was torn.

Domestic noir at its best.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Review Linked to Australian Womens Writers Challenge

Published by HarperCollins Australia

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The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa

Book blurb…

Based on the true story of the Nazi massacre of a French village in 1944, an unforgettable tale of love and redemption from the bestselling author of The German Girl.

New York City, 2015: Elise Duval, eighty years old, receives a phone call from a woman recently arrived from Cuba bearing messages from a time and country that she’s long forgotten. A French Catholic who arrived in new York after World War II, Elise and her world are forever changed when the woman arrives with letters written to Elise from her mother in German during the war, unravelling more than seven decades of secrets.

Berlin, 1939: Bookstore owner and recent widow Amanda Sternberg is fleeing Nazi Germany with her two young daughters, heading towards unoccupied France. She arrives in Haute-Vienne with only one of her girls. Their freedom is short-lived and soon they are taken to a labour camp.

My thoughts…

I am loving the war-time novel trend of late and this is why.

Inspired by one of the most shocking atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II, the 1944 massacre of all the inhabitants of the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the south of France, this novel is a beautifully crafted family saga of love, survival and hope against all odds.

Not many novels bring me to tears. Of course the subject matter is a highly emotive one but it takes a special storyteller to tell the tale of such devastation.

It seems so wrong to say I loved this book, but I did. I loved, I learned, I cried.

Thank you to the author for telling this story (and to all who lost their lives and their families for our freedom today).

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster

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The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

Book blurb…

Inspired by the incredible true story of Lee Miller, Vogue model turned one of the first female war photojournalists, the new novel by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress

Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.

France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer — and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.

Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.

My thoughts…

I devoured this story via an audio book and I absolutely loved it.

The research the author did to bring this story to life, and the way this story is fictionalised around real people and situations is truly outstanding.  I learnt so much about the events of 1942 and the way women were treated during war time when they were serving their country as War Correspondents.

I would have been satisfied with the war-time plot line alone (it was THAT interesting) but the modern-day thread did add a different dimension to the storyline.

I loved the lead characters (Jess and Dan) and as the story unfolded I cried for them and what each of them lost over the years.

I have since looked up Lee Miller and Martha Gellhorn, completely fascinated. Thank you Natasha Lester.

This story is a must read.

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

Published by Hachette

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Stone Country By Nicole Alexander

Book blurb…

From nineteenth-century Adelaide and the red dirt of mid-north South Australia, to the cattle stations and buffalo plains of the far north Ross Grant’s journey is one of desire, adventure and determination, to the heart of stone country and beyond.

South Australia, 1919. Ross Grant has always felt like the black sheep of his wealthy Scottish family. An explorer at heart, he dreams of life on Waybell, their remote cattle station in Australia’s last remaining wilderness, the Northern Territory.

Then his brother Alastair is branded a deserter after going missing during the Great War. To help restore the Grants’ damaged reputation, Ross is coerced into marrying Darcey Thomas, a woman he has never met.

Disgusted by his manipulative family, he turns his back on his unwanted wife just hours after the ceremony, and heads to Waybell with no plans to return. He carries with him the hope of carving his own empire in the far north.

But Ross has not counted on Darcey’s determination to be his wife in more than just name. Nor did he anticipate meeting Maria, a young, part-Chinese woman who will capture his heart. And he certainly wasn’t prepared for how this beautiful yet savage land will both captivate and destroy his soul . . .

From nineteenth-century Adelaide and the red dirt of mid-north South Australia, to the cattle stations and buffalo plains of the far north Ross’s journey is one of anger and desire, adventure and determination, to the heart of stone country and beyond.

My thoughts…

A master storyteller.  Her eighth book. They just keep getting better and better.

Wow! Wow! Wow! Everything from the plotting to the scene setting and the character journey.

I was right there – in the scene and the time period, walking beside Ross Grant’s horse and sitting on the veranda at Waybell in the heat and drenching rain.

How many ways can I say brilliant?

That’s not to say you will love all the characters because, to be honest, I was left wondering how I felt about some of the decisions and actions of the main character, Ross. But isn’t that a sign of a good book – when it moves you so much you keep thinking about it and discussing it with your partner? (Who you shared the audio book ‘reading’ via shared ear buds!!)

The narration is spectacular. This book should be shortlisted for an award this year.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Also published on Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Penguin

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Home Fires by Fiona Lowe

Book blurb…

When a lethal bushfire tore through Myrtle, nestled in Victoria’s breathtaking Otway Ranges, the town’s buildings – and the lives of its residents – were left as smouldering ash. For three women in particular, the fire fractured their lives and their relationships.

Eighteen months later, with the flurry of national attention long past, Myrtle stands restored, shiny and new. But is the outside polish just a veneer? Community stalwart Julie thinks tourism could bring back some financial stability to their little corner of the world and soon prods Claire, Bec and Sophie into joining her group. But the scar tissue of trauma runs deep, and as each woman exposes her secrets and faces the damage that day wrought, a shocking truth will emerge that will shake the town to its newly rebuilt foundations…

With her sharp eye for human foibles, bestselling author Fiona Lowe writes an evocative tale of everyday people fighting for themselves, their families and their town – as only this distinctively Australian storyteller can.

My thoughts…

This story speaks to the love that surrounds people in small communities when they are forced together in terrifying and distressing circumstances.

The author depicts the relationships with such authenticity, and the imagery is such, that I was there as they worked to save each other before, during and after the tragic event.

This story will most certainly pull at your heartstrings.

Well written and well plotted. A big story and highly recommended.

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

Published by HarperCollins Australia

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In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor

Book blurb…

From the soft green hills of Ireland to the wild Shipwreck Coast of southern Victoria, the rich farm lands of New South Wales to the sudden battlefields of Ballarat, this is an epic story of the cost of freedom and the value of love in a far-flung corner of the world where a nation sows its earliest seeds.

1851: After the death of her father, young Eve Richards is destitute. Her struggle to survive sees her deported in chains to the colony of New South Wales, penniless and alone. But here in this strange new world fortune smiles on the spirited, clever Eve in the shape of a respectable job offer that will lead to a quiet, secure life. Then the fiery and charismatic Irishman Kieran Clancy crosses her path…

For Kieran Clancy, the kindest man on earth, and his brother Liam, the promise of free passage and land in this brave new world is a chance to leave the grief and starvation of County Clare behind. But while Liam works to farm their land, Kieran has the fire of gold-fever upon him and is drawn to the goldfields of Ballarat. As tensions grow on the goldfields, and with the blood of an Irish rebel still beating through his heart, Kieran finds himself caught up in the cataclysmic events at the Eureka Stockade and faces the decision of a lifetime: whether or not, when it comes to love, blood will remain thicker than water…

My thoughts…

The hardships represented in this story fascinated me, leaving me grateful our modern day bares no resemblance to colonial Australia of the 1800’s.

For me, this story is about love and self belief. It’s well plotted and realistic.  My only comment is some plot elements seem too convenient. (As the title suggests, we live in a vast land and I think the ability for people to find each other—especially in the 1800’s—seemed a little contrived. But, hey! It’s fiction and the story captivated me. That’s what matters. I loved all it’s characters—flawed, or not.  In saying that, there may have been one I wanted to throttle back in Ireland. You will know who when you read the story.

Thank you for a great read and I look forward to the next story.  Australian authors, we would be lost without you!

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

Published by HarperCollins

Posted in Historical Fiction, Romance | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Family by P.R. Black

Book blurb…

The best way to catch a killer? Offer yourself as bait. 

Becky Morgan’s family were the victims of the ‘crimes of the decade’. The lone survivor of a ritualistic killing, Becky’s been forever haunted by the memories of that night.

Twenty years later, with the killer never found, Becky is ready to hunt them down and exact revenge. But the path to find the murderer is a slippery slope and she finds herself opening up some old wounds that should have been left sealed.

Will Becky avenge her family or join them? 

My thoughts…

I cannot believe I survived this book!  By far the darkest psychological thriller I have ever, ever read.

The main killer wears a mask at the beginning and I did not know who was behind it until the end.  Read this book. I guarantee you will never pick it either.

So well-crafted.  My congratulations to the author (who I suspect never sleeps).

A book for your To Be Read pile, but only if you like twisted psychological thrillers and are able to sleep with the light on.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Aria Fiction

 

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Cemetery Road by Greg Iles

Book blurb…

Successful journalist Marshall McEwan is forced to return home. His father is dying, his mother is struggling to keep the family newspaper from failing, and the town is in the midst of an economic rebirth that might be built upon crimes that reach into the state capitol – and perhaps even to Washington. More disturbing still, Marshall’s high school sweetheart, Jet, has married into the family of Max Matheson, patriarch of one of the families that rule Bienville through a shadow organization called the Bienville Poker Club.

When archeologist Buck McKibben is murdered at a construction site, Bienville is thrown into chaos. The ensuing homicide investigation is soon derailed by a second crime that rocks the community to its core. Power broker Max Matheson’s wife has been shot dead in her own bed, and the only other person in it at the time was her husband, Max. Stranger still, Max demands that his daughter-in-law, Jet, defend him in court.

Without telling a soul, Marshall joins forces with Jet and begins digging into both murders. With Jet walking the dangerous road of an inside informer, they soon uncover a web of criminal schemes that undergird the town’s recent success. But these crimes pale in comparison to the secret at the heart of the Matheson family …

My thoughts…

Wow,  I loved this gripping story. An amazing plot with a web of deceit that kept me reading non-stop.  It is so hard to know who to cheer for because it changes so often during the story.

Power and corruption are the key elements to the group of people that seem to control the town of Bienville and its people. Creating the perfect setting for characters to save not only the town but each other.

Fully absorbed to the very last page.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

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Blood River by Tony Cavanaugh

Book blurb…

Brisbane 1999. It’s hot. Stormy. Dangerous. The waters of the Brisbane River are rising. The rains won’t stop. People’s nerves are on edge. And then . . .
A body is found.
And then another.
And another.

A string of seemingly ritualised but gruesome murders. All the victims are men. Affluent. Guys with nice houses, wives and kids at private schools. All have had their throats cut. Tabloid headlines shout, THE VAMPIRE KILLER STRIKES AGAIN!

Detective Constable Lara Ocean knows the look. The ‘my-life-will-never-be-the-same-again look’. She’s seen it too many times on too many faces. Telling a wife her husband won’t be coming home. Ever again. Telling her the brutal way he was murdered. That’s a look you never get used to.

Telling a mother you need her daughter to come to the station for questioning. That’s another look she doesn’t want to see again.

And staring into the eyes of a murderer, yet doubting you’ve got it right. That’s the worst look of all – the one you see in the mirror. Get it right, you’re a hero and the city is a safer place. Get it wrong and you destroy a life. And a killer remains free. Twenty years down the track, Lara Ocean will know the truth.

My thoughts…

This story is intriguing and captivated me until the very end. I do enjoy a first-person narrative and the pace is terrific.

I liked all the characters and their complexities, and the author’s attention to detail helped me visualise them on the pages.  I did not work out the plot (which is rare for me—so very pleased about that!) and Lara’s conflict is solid and believable.

Did she put the right person behind bars?

A daunting responsibility and a great plot.

This review is also published on Goodreads 

Published by Hachette Australia

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