A Place to Remember by Jenn J McLeod

Book Blurb…

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember.

Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect, until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate. The young fifth-generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents.

Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

My thoughts…

I write this review with some bias; I love this author, I’ve read every book, and her latest novel is a story to remember that will captivate your heart. A Place to Remember is a big novel – a romantic sage that spans three generations. There are some really likeable characters, and as usual, Jenn does antagonists that you want to hate but just can’t help but feel for by the end of the story. (Maybe not all of them!) Of course, her protagonists (a mother and daughter both looking for their place in the world, who find love) are resilient and determined.

You’ll fall in love with Ava and John as they fall in love (in the eighties) and Nina’s story (current day) will make you laugh and cry as she struggles to adapt to the land. Nina’s role is also to uncover an urban myth about a love struck man, a forgotten engagement ring and a dinner reservation back in the eighties.

This is a such a good story. Its almost two love stories in the one book and Jenn’s descriptions of life on the land always give me goosebumps. A Place to Remember is her best yet.

A ‘must read’ for 2018.

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

Published by Head of Zeus

 

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Posted in Australian fiction, General fiction - adult, Romance, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Best Friends by Carys Jones

Description

Four friends, a terrible secret, and one week to stay alive…

Grace doesn’t have a family. That was taken away one dreadful day when she was just six, and her twin brother Peter was killed. Instead she has her best friends and flatmates – Jasper, Franklin and Aaron – and nothing can tear them apart. 
Living in London, and trying desperately to make a living, the four friends are rapidly running out of money and hope. So, when they find a discarded suitcase in a skip, they can’t believe their eyes when its contents seem to answer all their prayers. 
But then a there is a knock on their door, and a very disgruntled thug with revenge on his mind, gives them one week to return his belongings, or they will pay with their lives. Soon the fractures in their friendships begin to show, and when one of them ends up fighting for his life, the stakes are raised even higher. 
Will any of them get to the end of the week alive, or will the best of friends become the deadliest of enemies…

My thoughts…

As this group of friends discover, life gets difficult when you face a moral dilemma and moral dilemmas make great stories.  I enjoyed this book, thought the plot interesting, but the pace was a little slow.

This review also published on Goodreads

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THE GIRLFRIEND by Michelle Frances

Book blurb…

A girl. A boy. His mother. And the lie she’ll wish she’d never told.

A chilling study in domestic noir, The Girlfriend is a taut and wickedly twisted psychological thriller by BBC Development Executive Michelle Frances. It’s a novel of subtle sabotage, retaliation, jealousy and fear, which pivots on an unforgivable lie, and examines the mother–son–daughter-in-law relationship in a chilling new light.

We all know that family relationships are never straightforward, and we can’t choose our children’s partners. We just have to hope we like them . . .

Mt thoughts…

I really enjoyed this story.  It is an example of the trouble we get into when we tell a lie and fail to set things right.

Laura is a loving mother who makes a bad decision—one that drives her son’s girlfriend, Cherry, to defend her relationship with Daniel. What follows makes this novel one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in recent times. The book will keep you reading into the early hours of the morning. The plot may keep you awake as you ponder the consequences of a selfish decision.

A great read and one for the to be read pile for 2018.

This review also published on Goodreads

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Water Under the Bridge by Lily Malone

(This review by Jenn J McLeod)

Lily Malone’s website states she is the author whose stories will make you smile. Having read several I can vouch for that.

Water Under the Bridge shows Lily is one of the best Aussie authors (I have read) when it comes to really nailing characterisation. I LOVE the sound of Chalk Hill as a community and, oh, the joy in that name Honeychurch! Inspired!

Water Under the Bridge is a contemporary story that’s been carefully plotted and populated with authentic and relatable characters (and not a cliche in sight). But what I really enjoy is the attention to detail Lily gives to each scene. You are never left wondering about what the character is doing, thinking, feeling (actions, expressions, and those character thoughts that make me giggle). Lily makes every word count (not a scrap of padding in this story) and each scene is cleverly choreographed so that as a reader I am a witness to every moment. (And there are some adorable scenes containing Lily’s deftness with dialogue and introspection.)

Aspiring writers need to read this book. It is a lesson in craft (conflict, POV, dialogue, and scene setting). And readers who enjoy small town romances will love getting to know the many Chalk Hill residents.

Water Under the Bridge is the first in a three-book series (I believe) and my prediction is Chalk Hill will see Lily Malone, author, leave others writing in her genre in her dust!

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Book blurb…

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women — the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite — they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband Howard plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar — the masterful manipulator behind it all.

My thoughts…

I really enjoyed Best Friends Forever and was so drawn by the story I didn’t realise until the end of the book that I’d neglected to do what I always do when reading this genre — I try to guess ‘who dunnit’.

Cleverly plotted and well told, this is a real page turner. I think I read it in only two sittings.

I love it when I can highly recommend a book to my best friends—who I will now be looking at with fresh eyes!!

Excellent reading.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Book blurb…

1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.

1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies,” who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.

Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth . . . no matter where it leads.

My thoughts…

My thanks to HarperCollins Australia for the chance to read The Alice Network.  (Sorry about the delay in reading.)

What a spectacular story! I will be sharing my thoughts about this one far and wide and for a very long time.

This is the kind of story that, once read, never really leaves you.

A plot steeped in truth, woven with fiction, and told with passion, the characterisations are so strong I was on the page with them. Even after reading the author’s comprehensive notes at the end I remain utterly and completely in awe of her storytelling and it made the novel even more intriguing.

This is an important story, highlighting the brave women of the Alice Network, and bringing a greater appreciation of those times of war when so many sacrifices were made.

The Alice Network should be read by every high school student.

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Never have I read a book like this before.

Review also published on Goodreads

Published by HarperCollins Australia

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The Confession by Jo Spain

Book blurb…

The breathtaking debut psychological thriller from bestselling author Jo Spain.

YOU FIND OUT WHO DID IT ON THE VERY FIRST PAGE. ON THE LAST PAGE, YOU’LL FIND OUT WHY.

Late one night a man walks into the luxurious home of disgraced banker Harry McNamara and his wife Julie. The man launches an unspeakably brutal attack on Harry as a horror-struck Julie watches, frozen by fear.

Just an hour later the attacker, JP Carney, has handed himself in to the police. He confesses to beating Harry to death, but JP claims that the assault was not premeditated and that he didn’t know the identity of his victim. With a man as notorious as Harry McNamara, the detectives cannot help wondering, was this really a random act of violence or is it linked to one of Harry’s many sins: corruption, greed, betrayal?

This gripping psychological thriller will have you questioning, who – of Harry, Julie and JP –  is really the guilty one? And is Carney’s surrender driven by a guilty conscience or is his confession a calculated move in a deadly game?

THE MOST GRIPPING PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER OF 2018: PERFECT FOR FANS OF HE SAID, SHE SAID AND THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR.

My thoughts…

I agree with the book’s blurb.  The Confession is indeed a thriller: cleverly written with the use of a Prologue and Epilogue that tells the reader in graphic detail what happens and ‘who done it’.

You might ask, “So what else is there to the story?”

And my answer would be “ A LOT!”

This book is riveting.

Told from 3 points of view (wife, murderer, police detective) I felt involved in the plot and read with haste to find out the story behind the grizzly crime. I am used to stories written using deep point of view. I find I get more invested in the characters and I enjoy feeling the impact of those emotional swings. This is not so obvious when the first person narration is telling me a story.

That said, The Confession (another domestic noir type read) remains one of the best books I’ve read.

Highly recommended reading for your thriller lovers.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book blurb…

It’s Always the Husband…unless it’s the best friend.

Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college – friends who promised they’d always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, their friendship is about to take a deadly turn.

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door, but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances, will everyone assume that it’s always the husband? Or could it be the best friend?

IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND is the gripping debut which will keep you guessing until the very last page.

My thoughts…

Intriguing!! The plot is well thought out and cleverly woven to take you down different paths before turning you around and pushing you in another direction – still guessing.

You don’t know what you’re getting with some debut novels and this one definitely does not disappoint. I was drawn into the story and felt very much a part of the landscape. I really felt for all the characters and their many challenges.

2018 is starting out with some beaut reads.

Highly recommended.

This review also published on Goodreads

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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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