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.


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?


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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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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