Thursday, 30 June 2016

My Girl - Jack Jordan

Let me first say that this psychological thriller definitely gets the heart racing, but it is rather disturbing, so if you are a bit sensitive to violence and/or disturbing content, I wouldn't recommend it for you.

The main character is Paige Dawson, a woman in her 40's, whose daughter was murdered ten years ago, and whose husband has recently committed suicide. 
Paige, when we are first introduced to her, is almost beyond help. She gets through her days by popping pills and consuming a lot of alcohol, trying to block out the reality that is her life. 
The lengths she goes to in order to drown out her grief are quite shocking. I really felt for her. 
Then Paige starts to notice things happening in her home, and she makes the effort to control the substance abuse in order to find out whether she is just imagining things, or whether something more sinister is occurring. 
We are then hit with a HUGE twist that you would never suspect. 
And I must be honest and say that I am not sure that I really liked where the book went from there. 
Don't get me wrong, it definitely kept me turning the pages, but the story takes such a dark turn that it almost made me want to stop reading. 
The book is set out in three parts; and the first was by far my favourite part, the latter parts felt somewhat rushed.
It's a shame because the story had the potential to be brilliant.
The book would've benefited from at least another 50 pages, just to develop the storyline further, as well as the characters. I needed to know more, and it all just felt as though it sped through too quickly, leaving questions unanswered.
Overall, if you're after a quick thriller, and don't mind being taken on a rather creepy, very dark trip, then this is the book for you! 
It has been given a lot of 4 and 5 star ratings/reviews on Goodreads and Amazon and I know I'm in the minority that thinks it deserves a 3 star rating... 
I'd be interested to hear from anyone who reads this book after reading my review.
I plan to read Jack Jordan's other book, Anything For Her, just to see how his writing style varies.

I was gifted a copy of My Girl through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 27 June 2016

The Story Of Our Life - Shari Low

With the end of Term 2 over, and school holidays officially kicking off today, I'm taking advantage of the opportunity to stay in bed on these cold mornings a bit longer and read! I'm also working on my first blog giveaway, so keep an eye out for that soon!

I've read a few books over the past week or so, one being The Story Of Our Life by Shari Low. 
This book made me laugh, and made me shed a tear (or two!)
The main characters, Colm and Shauna, appear to have everything going for them in life, happily married, and very in love, until one day they are faced with the biggest curveball that life could throw at them.
What makes this book a little different from your regular love story is how they opt to handle their predicament.
The book flows back and forth throughout the years, (each chapter is dated to make it easy for the reader to follow), outlining Colm and Shauna's relationship from when they met, until present day, and detailing significant events and moments throughout their relationship.
There are a few other characters in the story, including friends and family of Shauna's and Colm's, and each are relatable, though not all are likeable, particularly Shauna's father. But they could be your neighbour or work colleague or partner, because they are all so real, and add so much to the overall storyline.
The ending, although not quite what I was expecting, was written well, and had me reaching for the tissues.
I really, really enjoyed this book. It's a lovely, bitter-sweet romantic story that really tugged on my heartstrings.
I was given an ARC of this through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Friends Like Us - Sian O'Gorman

Friends Like Us is a really heart-warming book that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

The story centres around three main characters, Melissa, Steph, and Eilis.

The three ladies used to be friends throughout their teenage years, but lost contact (as often happens when school ends).
Fast-forward years later when they are reunited, and they become firm friends again.
We learn that Melissa, although she is doing well with her career, has a lot of personal issues she needs to address . 
Steph is trying to juggle her emotional, often bitter, teenage daughter, as well as her cheating husband, all whilst trying to find the person she once used to be.
And Eilis is a doctor who still grieves the loss of her mother from many years ago, as well as having relationship issues with her partner, Rob.
They each need the courage to change their circumstances. But can they do it?
You'll have to read and see!!
The women are all strong and brave, even when they doubt themselves. The book shows us that it's never too late to chase your dreams, and find peace within yourself, even if that means things in your life need to change. It's a great message. I loved this book, and thought it was really well-written, and very engaging.
I was given an ARC (advanced reading copy) through netgalley in exchange for an honest review before its release next month.

Monday, 20 June 2016

The Lake House - Kate Morton 

As we approach the cooler months, I tend to stay indoors a lot more, and as we had some miserable, grey days last week, it proved the perfect opportunity to get stuck into The Lake House by Kate Morton. 

I waited quite a long time on the local library list for this one, so I was keen to begin! 
At almost 600 pages, it needless to say, is a really long story, and I felt that it could've easily been a lot shorter if the author hadn't been so descriptive with certain parts of the story.
The story weaves back and forth through the decades - mainly 1933 to 2003.

1933 - 16 year-old Alice Edavane, daughter of Anthony and Eleanor, has two sisters and an adorable baby brother, Theo. They reside in a beautiful lakeside estate called Loeanneth, located in Cornwall. 

One night, 11-month-old Theo disappears, and it leaves the entire family distraught.
Theo's disappearance remains a mystery for many, many years. 

2003 -  Alice, now an old woman, and successful author, still struggles with the uncertainty of Theo's fate, even though she has her suspicions..

Sadie Sparrow, a private detective, is visiting her grandfather in Cornwall, and one day as she is out for a run, she comes across an old estate, which turns out to be Loeanneth. Sadie takes an interest in the property, and begins to find out all she can about it and the family who once lived there.
As she does, she uncovers certain things that bring Alice and her together.
The last part was really good, as everything just clicks into place and we discover the truth about what went on that night so many years ago, and I must say, that I would never have guessed the ending! 
It certainly made up for the bits that I found a little repetitive and/or unnecessary.
Overall, The Lake House is a lovely story, told in great detail, and I would recommend it to those who love mysteries.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Forty Acres - Dwayne Alexander Smith

After reading a review on my local library's website of Forty Acres, I thought that it sounded rather appealing, and borrowed it recently.

It isn't a new book, having been released in 2014.
It begins with African-American lawyer, Martin Grey, winning a civil rights case against defending lawyer, Damon Darrell.
Darrell befriends Grey after the case, inviting him over one evening. It is at this gathering that Grey is introduced to Darrell's friends, who are some of the most successful men in the country, and all African-American also.
They invite Grey to a weekend away, to which he agrees, after some slight initial hesitation.
It is on this trip that he realises that this secret society of men are hiding a big secret - this isn't a male bonding trip as promised, at least, not in the way Grey thinks. They arrive at a mansion, in the middle of nowhere, and they are waited on by white slaves - a role reversal of years gone by when blacks were involved in slave labour.
It is a rather shocking story, and Grey soon realises that this is definitely not the place for him, and needs to fight to his last breath if he wants to make it out of there alive. 
I did find the story a little unconvincing in parts. The fact that Grey took so little persuading to go away on this trip with a group who can only be described as acquaintances for example.
It was a little slow , but I did enjoy it as it was a different sort of thriller to what I've read, and the ending was really good. There are some flaws, but overall, as it is a debut novel, I think it is well worth a read, particularly if you like books that give you something to think about, even after the story has ended. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Life As I Know It - Michelle Payne with John Harms

I must admit that I don't know much about horse racing, but seeing Michelle Payne win the Melbourne Cup (not to mention that emotional speech she gave directly afterwards), late last year made me want to find out more about this inspirational woman.

I borrowed Life As I Know It as an ebook through my local library, and read it within a couple of days. 
It is an easy read, and is suitable for young and old of either gender.
The story begins with Michelle's early childhood years, and I got a real sense of the family's love and respect for each other. This remains throughout the whole story. The memories she shares about precious family moments like Christmas, are told with love and humour.
One of ten children, and growing up on a rural property, Michelle had dreams of riding a Melbourne Cup winner from age 5.
We learn about Michelle's passion for horses.
Many of her siblings are involved in horse racing as well. Some of them are jockeys, and her brother Stevie, who has Down Syndrome, was the strapper for Prince Of Penzance - the horse Michelle rode in the Melbourne Cup.
It was lovely to read how supportive her family are, and the close bond she shares with them all.
After reading the book, I am even more of a fan of Michelle's, because even though she has faced a lot of hard times, including gruelling diets and exercise programs to remain fit and at the weight needed for horse riding, as well as many injuries, she has handled it so well and defied all the odds. Even as I was reading the book, Michelle was currently being discharged from hospital after undergoing pancreatic surgery following yet another fall. Whether she continues to ride remains unseen, but regardless of what the future holds for her, she should be proud of her achievements, including this book. It's a really great feel-good story. 

Monday, 6 June 2016

Journey's End - Jennifer Scoullar

Thanks to netgalley and Penguin Books Australia, I had the opportunity to read and review Journey's End by Jennifer Scoullar before its release later this month.

It begins with Kim Sullivan, a mother of two children, Jake and Abbey, who is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband Connor two years ago. 
His death has also affected the children; Jake in particular finds it difficult, and lashes out on his family, friends, and school. 
Kim makes the brave decision to take the children away for a visit to Journey's End, a property her late husband inherited years prior, located on the outskirts of a town named Tingo, in country New South Wales. She wants to sell the run-down property, but hopes that the time away will benefit them all before she puts it on the market. 
She meets Ben, the real estate agent, as well as Taj, Tingo's local handyman. 
Both men sway Kim's decision to stay at Journey's End, each with different motives.
Meanwhile, the children thrive in their new surroundings, however, Kim, a botanist,  makes a few enemies when she decides to rewild the land, and introduce dingoes into the area. 
The way Jennifer describes the land and its surroundings is just beautiful. The flora and the fauna are mentioned in great detail, and it was one aspect of the book I really liked. 
For me, this book had it all. It is a story of hope and new beginnings, of love and friendships.
It touches on important issues like racism, bush regeneration, and wildlife rescue.
I really enjoyed reading Journey's End, and I would highly recommend it. 

Saturday, 4 June 2016

The Last Pearl - Leah Fleming

The Last Pearl by Leah Fleming is set in the late 1800’s, and spans for almost 20 years throughout its tale.

One of the main characters is Greta Costello, a young woman with a lot of determination and courage, who uses these qualities to help her family survive after her father’s death. We see the family struggle financially, and Greta does all she can to overcome the difficulties they face. Throughout the book, as the years pass, we see these qualities of determination and courage shine through in Greta over and over again.
We are also introduced to another main character, Jem Baillie, who helps his father fish out a very rare pearl from a river in Scotland. Without giving too much away, this pearl is to have a huge importance in this saga, right til the very end.
There are a lot of characters in the book, and the one I despised was Eben. He was pure evil!!
Greta’s mum, the old jeweller Saul Abrahams, and Greta’s sister Kitty, were some of my favourite characters. They were very supportive of Greta’s decisions, and I really admired them for that.
This book really resonated with me as it focuses a lot on the importance of family, and the loyalties that lie within each family.
I could definitely tell that Leah has researched the history of pearls very thoroughly, and I found that it was very interesting to read about. One of the joys of reading is being educated on subjects that I usually wouldn’t necessarily know much about. In this instance, it was learning about the history of pearls.
I really enjoyed this book. The ending felt a little rushed for me, but it was still a nice ending. I would gladly recommend this book.
I was given a copy of this book to review through