BOOK REVIEW: PAMELA HART – A LETTER FROM ITALY

 

A Letter from Italy is a romantic story that isn’t just ruled by its heart. It’s a novel inspired by Louise Mack, the first female war correspondent who worked during the First World War. It’s a book that shows how a determined and strong journalist negotiates the trials and tribulations of being a woman in a male-dominated industry and also through a time of tumultuous change.

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201703/226447

Visit 100% Rock’s homepage at: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/

BOOK REVIEW: AMANDA WEBSTER- A TEAR IN THE SOUL

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For years Amanda Webster had an idealistic view of the past. The smart, sixth-Generation Australian, who has published books about autism and whose father and grandfather were respected doctors, had assumed that everyone – including her Indigenous school friends – had enjoyed a comfortable upbringing that was similar to the her own.

To read the rest of this review please visit the following website: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/reviews/book-reviews/201612/209506

Visit 100% Rock’s homepage at: http://magazine.100percentrock.com/

BOOK REVIEW: TRICIA STRINGER – A CHANCE OF STORMY WEATHER

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A Chance of Stormy Weather was originally self-published in 2004 by Australian, rural romance writer, Tricia Stringer. It was also one of her most requested books, as some readers thought it was good at distilling what life in the country is really about. This fictional story is not Stringer’s best work but it is still a well-written and pleasant-enough novel.

This book is about the marriage between a Sydney girl named Paula and a farmer from South Australia named Dan. The two had a whirlwind romance and got married not long after they initially met (and why this was the case is not properly explored.) This then sets things up for a fish-out-of-water tale as the book takes in the events that surround their first few months of marriage.

Paula is a naïve city girl when it comes to her new life. She doesn’t know much about the country (even basics like what kind of meat mutton is allude her) and she’s not used to driving along dirt roads. Paula is sometimes a difficult character to warm to. She is pretty idle when she initially arrives at her new home (granted some of this could be chalked up to the culture shock that she experiences) and she is sometimes quite silly (it’s hard to believe that she was burned in a previous relationship only to rush into the arms of another man.)

Dan on the other hand is an easier person to like. He’s a hard-working guy who’s trying to forge out a living and be self-reliant. But he is also hiding some secrets from the past, most importantly the present status/nature of his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Katherine. There is also Dan’s meddlesome aunt, Rowena who is always on hand to offer her two cents worth and Paula’s parents are occasionally present to interfere with their daughter’s relationship under the guise of “meaning well.”

A Chance of Stormy Weather glosses over some important elements in the main characters’ romance (as well as their lives before they met one other) and it is ultimately a rather predictable story of a fish out of water. It’s also a book where the characters are not the most endearing or easy to warm to. Stringer has a fine reputation for telling engaging stories about the lives of individuals living in rural Australia and while this book seems to tick some boxes well, there was also room in this vast country expanse for some additional improvements.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-a-chance-of-stormy-weather

BOOK REVIEW: GARY KEMBLE – BAD BLOOD

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Bad Blood is a dark and tense novel by Australia author, Gary Kemble. This super-charged thriller is the second to star investigative journalist, Harry Hendrick (who many readers would have been introduced to in Kemble’s debut novel, Skin Deep.) Bad Blood is ultimately a disturbing and challenging mix of crime and speculative fiction.

Harry Hendrick is a self-destructive character who is sniffing out his next big story. He begins probing an alleged paedophile ring and he looks into the affairs of a union official to uncover any signs of corruption. Kemble is also asked to investigate a number of bizarre suicides by the police. They are considered strange because the bodies all have identical scars and there are also similar suicide notes at the death scenes that feature some rather strange symbols.

The investigation leads Hendrick to a professional dominatrix by the name of Mistress Hel. But is there more to this seductress than meets the eye? What transpires is a graphic and intense story that has as many layers as an onion. Bad Blood will keep you guessing until the end. Ultimately this is one gothic thriller with some disturbing elements and some scenes that will chill you to the bone.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was won by the writer through a The Reading Room giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.thereadingroom.com/book/bad-blood/10056171/

BOOK REVIEW: JENN J MCLEOD – THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SEASON

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The Other Side of the Season is a mysterious, Australian novel set near Byron Bay. It’s the fourth book by Australian author, Jenn J McLeod and it’s basically like an onion. As you read the prose it’s like another layer is slowly stripped away to reveal something more and slightly different. The Other Side of the Season is a heart-warming tale that proves that there are often multiple sides to a story and that each perspective is often as valid and as important as the other.

The book begins in the present day with a strong woman named Sidney who is looking to escape her mother’s house in the Blue Mountains. Sidney found herself returning home to live with her Mum after a long-term relationship break-up. This character is named after the artist, Sidney Nolan and she is looking at discovering some information about the past. Sidney is a relatable and rich character who has never been told much about her extended family so she decides to go on a journey with her younger rapscallion brother to get some answers.

The second major thread in this novel has the reader immersed in a quaint town called Dingy Bay in Northern NSW in the late seventies. The main characters in this story are two young brothers, a 17 year old aspiring artist named David and his elder brother Matthew. The pair work on the family’s banana plantation. David is in love with the girl next door and Matthew looks poised to run the family business but one day a tragedy strikes and the decisions the characters make will have long-standing ramifications that shake their simple, rural lives.

McLeod has done a fantastic job of creating very real and interesting characters and revealing many facets of their lives so we know exactly what makes them tick. She also expertly weaves together two very different stories set in opposing periods in time. In the end the reader is offered a very vibrant, detailed and lush tapestry of life, love, family and friendship and a story that is told with a nostalgic view of the past and present. This novel is one that will tug at your heartstrings as it is so emotional. It will also make people stop and cherish life and realise that the choices we make are often more complicated than they initially seem and that you really shouldn’t live your life filled with regrets.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-the-other-side-of-the-season

BOOK REVIEW: JOSEPHINE MOON – THE BEEKEEPER’S SECRET

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The Beekeeper’s Secret marks a slight departure in style for Australian author, Josephine Moon. In her third novel the writer has once again put together a vibrant and easy-to-read story about love, loss, family and friendship but this time around also manages to thread in some extra twists of suspense and mystery to the tale, as well tackling some dark and topical subject matter.  This was ultimately an enjoyable book boasting some well-realised characters and hopefully this is not the last that readers will hear from this diverse and intriguing lot.

The story stars a kind-hearted and well-meaning former nun named Maria Lindsey. The latter likes nothing more than her solitary life tending to her honeybees and making honey-based products that she can sell at the local markets in order to raise funds for an orphanage in Cambodia. Maria is a likeable character who is also harbouring a number of terrible secrets. She is plagued by a sense of guilt and feels like she needs to continue in her quest for atonement.

Tansy Butterfield is a successful 30-year-old interior decorator and the estranged niece of Lindsey. She is suffering a mid-life crisis because she must reconsider her feelings and make some big decisions with respect to child-rearing and following her husband overseas. At the same time she also wants to establish a relationship with an aunt she’s never met and knows nothing about. If that’s not enough, Butterfield also has a tight-knit immediate family and they are battling a number of their own issues like loss of faith, infidelity, sick children and regrets about the past.

Moon’s story was a little slow to begin with but it really hit its stride in the middle and towards the end. The characters are rich and realistic ones like those found in Marian Keyes’s novels and the story is an interesting and relevant dramedy that contains added messages, meaning and metaphors thanks to the vivid descriptions of honeybees. In all, this book shows a dysfunctional family negotiating their way through rights, wrongs, cover-ups, lies and betrayals in a story that is like a pot of amber gold and a rather sweet family tale.

 

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Goodreads giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28509498-the-beekeeper-s-secret

BOOK REVIEW: NATASHA LESTER – A KISS FROM MR. FITZGERALD

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“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”. Jane Austen summed things up well for the menfolk but the question remains, “What is to become of a single, middle class woman living in New York in the roaring twenties?” The answer to that can be found in the third novel by Australian author, Natasha Lester where she writes about a strong and inspiring heroine who took the road less travelled.

Evie Lockhart is the star of A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald, a historic romance novel set in the same era as The Great Gatsby. It’s a fictional drama that feels honest and authentic thanks to a series of complex and well-sketched out characters (and in some respects, Lockhart reminds me of Elizabeth Bennet). Evie is a lady who is determined to break down a few social barriers and prejudices so she can realise her dream of becoming New York’s first female obstetrician. The fact that she also supports herself by dancing as part of the Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway is remarkable.

The story is one you can easily imagine as a film. The writing is evocative and draws together a heady mix of speakeasy bars, gin and jazz. The costumes also sound beautiful and in one case even include a gorgeous little Chanel number. But A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald is more than just a pretty face, it also manages to have both style and substance.

There are a number of interesting threads to this story. At the outset it seems that the conservative Lockhart will be forced into a life of tea, sewing and looking after her wealthy husband. But the fact she eschews this cosy life of luxury for some hard toil in order to fulfil her own aspirations is just fabulous. The twists and turns in the plot also keep things exciting and you will be rooting for Lockhart every step of the way. She is an amazing heroine who was well ahead of her time.

A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald is a well-researched and exquisitely-written piece of historic fiction. The story is an inspiring and relatable one that will make you stop and appreciate that you’re living in the 21st century. In all, this is an intelligent and sensitive tale that is strong enough in depth, character and feeling to be considered a classic love story.

***Please note: a free copy of this book was given to the writer through a Beauty & Lace giveaway. To read the original review on that website please visit: http://bookgirl.beautyandlace.net/book-club-a-kiss-from-mr-fitzgerald