Month

August 2015

Tropical Lies – David Myles Robinson

Tropical Lies

4 Stars (4 / 5)

This was the very first book I requested from NetGalley. I wasn’t sure if i was going to get accepted for any books because my blog was only tiny and I had absolutely no experience. However I think I got every book that I requested! So this book sat there on my shelf for a few months while I read more popular authors, bigger books. I often looked at it there and regretted requesting it. Knowing that I would have to read it to keep my percentage up. So the time finally came when I didn’t have any pressing book review deadlines and I thought I had better check out this totally unknown book with a cartoon cover that had a grand total of ONE review on goodreads…

Well… What an awesome surprise! I could barely put this book down – I thought it was fantastic!

Imagine, in beautiful Hawaii, a man is found dead, shot, decapitated and hacked apart at his house. Turns out he was an investment counselor who was doing some very shady deals, losing a lot of people a lot of money. So one of his clients gets arrested for the murder… Cue Pancho McMartin –  A successful criminal defense attorney, to take on his case. Little does he know the can of worms he would open up by defending this man, the government conspiracies, and did his client actually do it or not!??

Now this is not an edge of your seat thriller type of novel like I was half expecting. Its power is in the courtroom. The trial scenes are fantastic! The author is a retired lawyer according to his goodreads page, and knows his stuff! The research was meticulous and I absolutely loved the courtroom dialogue and thought it was absolutely fantastic!

Pancho!!! What a wonderful character! So well written, I absolutely fell in love with him! Love how he is an extremely moral man in a typically amoral business! His best friend and PI Drew was fantastic! All the other characters were wonderful too.

I’ve never been to Hawaii, but the atmosphere Robinson creates in this book in fantastic! I almost felt like I was there looking at the beautiful beaches! Absolutely on my bucket list!

Tropical Lies was EXTREMELY well written! And easy to read. The courtroom scenes were written so that any legal novice (me) could understand everything that was happening. It did have periods where it moved a little slowly, but then it sped straight back up again!

And then to my absolute delight I saw that this is the first in a series with Pancho!! First thing I’m doing after publishing this review is requesting the second book! I cant wait to read about Pancho and the other characters again!

The only thing I really didn’t like about it was the cover. I believe its SO important to have a good cover, that represents the type of book it is. I didn’t feel this cover did the book justice. The cover, after all, is what people first see. It is more often than not, the deciding factor of whether people will read it or not.

Would I recommend it?

Yes! Its not a particularly edge-of-your-seat exciting book, but it’s a cleverly written courtroom crime drama with an extremely likable main character. Well done Mr Robinson, cracking read! My apologies for not getting to it sooner!

Thanks to the author via Netgalley for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The Comfort of Black – Carter Wilson

The Comfort of Black - Carter Wilson

4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, there have been some AWESOME thrillers released lately! Absolutely fantastic! And this one is no exception, in fact is better than most.

Hannah comes from a troubled past, and now has everything. She has a fabulous life, lots of money, and a wonderful husband. So when she hears her husband say something shocking in his sleep, she is concerned. Next thing you know her perfect world comes crashing apart when her husband tries to kidnap her. Soon she is on the run with a man named Black. A man with an equally shady past. They find themselves having to fight to survive, and discover the truth.

Really loved the premise of this book! I love how Hannah’s perfect life was a farce! How could she be with someone for so long and not know him at all! And the twists and turns were fantastic! Really enjoyed the ride. I joked with my husband that I will be watching him in his sleep!

The book was extremely well written. Totally gripping! I found it difficult to put down. I loved the action scenes! I enjoyed the violence, it was graphic, but not too much so. I enjoy a bit of blood and guts in my thrillers anyway!

I loved the characters. I enjoyed how Hannah’s character developed. I didn’t like her at all at first, but she soon grew on me. And Black, LOVED him! Loved his back story, and I really enjoyed the relationship between him and Hannah. I thought all the other characters were written fantastically. Dallin especially. His character really transformed throughout the book, and not for the better!

Extra points in my books for a bit of sex and romance. Loved the sexiness between Hannah and Black, although I feel after it was explored initially, it kinda just died away. I would have liked to see more tension, maybe have it dragged along a bit longer. However it couldn’t have really been dragged along too much due to what happens!

The story overall was predictable at times, however there were still more than a few massive surprises in there!

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely! The Comfort of Black was a fantastic read! Finished it very quickly, hardly putting it down! Great book!

Thanks to Oceanview publishing via NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review

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What Lies Within – James Morris

image

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Here I go again, another Young Adult book. I don’t know exactly why they appeal to me so much. Perhaps because I want to stay young at heart!

Shelley Marano is your typical 17 year old high school student. The most important decision she is facing in life is where to go to college and how to tell her father that she doesn’t want to work in his auto shop for the rest of her life. However when Shelley suddenly gets a text message warning her that she is in danger, her life unexpectedly gets totally turned upside down. Suddenly she doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and has to fight to stay alive!

I think the thing that appeals to me about YA books is the prospect for huge, life changing character development. I enjoy watching the young naïve characters grow. Shelley made some absolutely stupid decisions towards the beginning of the novel that made me cringe, but I soon began to like her and I became invested in finding out what happened to her. I liked her best friend Winston. I enjoyed their relationship and the interactions between them. I also liked the secondary characters and felt they all enhanced the story. Her father was a pivotal character even though he only appeared a few times. Remy was important in his own way, as were Michael and the scary man on the motorbike.

Like the majority of Young Adult novels, it has a love triangle… My ultimate pet hate… But this one isn’t too annoying, especially when one of them is far from worthy. Typically Young Adult, it had a lot of teenage angst. But all the characters were portrayed well. Often in young adult books I struggle to empathise with the young female character for some reason. I thought I might have this problem at the start, but things quickly turned around and I enjoyed Shelley’s adventure.

The nurse in me found a few small medical inaccuracies, but they were only minor and didn’t impact my enjoyment of the story.

It was an extremely quick read. The second half of the novel moved so quickly I finished it in one sitting. The first half was only slightly slower. Overall it kept me turning the pages! The ending was exciting. It left quite a few questions, however certainly paved the way for another one.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, I really enjoyed it! What Lies Within is a fast read, full of action, suspense and mystery, I won’t hesitate to read the next one!

With thanks to the author for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Lethal In Love 2 – Michelle Somers

Lethal in love 2

2.75 Stars (2.75 / 5)

I read the first installment of Lethal in Love a couple of months ago and gave it an average rating. I was so hoping the second installment would be an improvement, but unfortunately it didn’t blow me away either.

Jayda and Seth are working together now, trying to put pieces of the puzzle together so that they can work out who the killer is. That’s if they can manage to keep their pants on around each other that is. Jayda and Seth realise that the killer might know Jayda and that they are all in danger. Cue suspenseful scenes, end on climax for number 3…

Ok the biggest problem I have with this installment is the total unbelievably of one aspect of their predicament… HER SISTER WAS JUST MURDERED!!! Now I don’t have a sister, but I imagine that if I did, and they were murdered, the absolute last thing I would be thinking about the next morning is how unbelievably hot the guy in my kitchen making me bacon and eggs looks in his shirt with the top buttons undone… It just didn’t capture her grief at all, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I was rolling my eyes and I didn’t know if I could go on…

However, if I ignored this extremely bothersome detail, I began to enjoy the story. The characters pasts were delved into more, Seth’s relationship with his parents, Jayda’s relationship with her father and her father’s past in the previous investigation. And it definitely left you wondering who the killer was, could it be someone in Jayda’s life already? Her next door neighbour? Something to do with her father or her birth parents?

This attraction between the characters is still not particularly believable. Their silly conversations and supposedly sexy remarks towards each other that leaves them hot around the collar made me extremely cold. I just don’t believe the chemistry.

Thankfully it was slightly more suspenseful than the first. Slightly…

Again, I’m not sold on this installment thing. I think I would have probably read the whole thing if it was in a novel, now I’m not sure if I am interested enough to go for the third, even though I am now curious to see who the killer is… I think I will hang my hat here.

Would I recommend it?

Probably not.

Thanks to Random House via Netgalley for a copy of this installment in exchange for an honest review.

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Deadly Messengers – Susan May

Deadly Messengers - Susan May

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Ive been having such good luck with thrillers lately! Deadly Messengers is another great one to add to the shelf!

Kendell Jennings is a freelance writer, mostly for magazines doing fluff pieces so she can pay her rent! When she takes a job interviewing a survivor of a mass murder, she thinks its just going to be a quick, easy buck. Two more mass murders occur and Kendell suspects they may be connected. Fate intervenes to put her right in the middle of the investigation, and into the path of the serial killer.

I really enjoyed this book. It pretty much had everything I enjoy in a novel, action, blood and gore, a little splash of romantic tension and some awesome likable characters with an intense crazy bad guy!

I found the premise extremely original and refreshing. Without giving anything away, the story is not all it seems, and there are some awesome twists and turns throughout. The ending was slightly predictable, however there was still enough action and twists to keep me hooked right to the very end. I barely put this book down, even to sleep!

The characters were great! Kendell had a very troubled past and I enjoyed how she had conflicted feelings about the story she was writing and her own experiences. I loved investigators O’Grady and Trip and their partnership. And I loved that they both had a thing for Kendell even though O’Grady wouldn’t recognise it. I only wish that O’Grady and Kendells relationship had a bit more “oomph”. I felt that more could have been done with their feelings towards each other earlier in the book. But that’s just the romantic in me!

The murder scenes were exceptionally detailed, perhaps more so than your average thriller. Lots of details about the death, blood and gore. I don’t mind blood and gore. However I understand that not everyone does. I personally thought the detail worked really well and added an extra intensity to the story. I really enjoyed that aspect.

This was a lot more than a simple “who done it” thriller. It delved a lot into trauma and mental health, and had some extremely interesting pharmacology aspects. Do certain drugs make you more susceptible to kill? Or is it the mental illness itself? Are there drugs that can make you a puppet? Fascinating stuff!

Overall, thoroughly enjoyed it!

Would I recommend it?

Yes, absolutely! A great thriller from a very talented AUSSIE author 🙂 I am looking forward to reading and reviewing her other work!

Many thanks to author Susan May for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Night Tremors – Matt Coyle

Night Tremors - Matt Coyle4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

 Night Tremors!! What a roller-coaster! Fantastic book!!

You could say that Rick Cahill has had it tough. Eight years ago he was accused of murdering his beloved wife. Just two years ago he found trouble again and was forced to kill. So now he stays out of the way – making a quiet living working as a PI, taking photographs of cheating exes. Happy that the job pays the bills – yet yearning for something more, he grabs an opportunity offered to him by an old rival to join him in freeing an innocent man from life in prison. Little did he know the can of worms he would open by taking the case. As it jeopardises not only his job and security, but his life.

I’m just going to start off by admitting that this is the second book in a series, and I didn’t realise it! Bad Mel not doing her research!! However I still managed to navigate the story and the characters perfectly well, as the author is an extremely talented storyteller. But I probably would have liked to read the first one before this, if only to know Rick a little better, and know the events that happened two years prior, as it doesn’t really delve into it too much. But you don’t need to have read it. If I can pick it up, anyone can!

Rick Cahill is an AWESOME character. Totally flawed and damaged, yet so lovely and so darn likeable! I was rooting for him the whole time! I thought he was just fantastic! I loved how his head worked, and how he managed to get himself in and out of difficult situations!

All of the secondary characters were awesome! I don’t have a bad thing to say about any of the characters, male or female, they were all written so cleverly. I absolutely adored every character! I loved the torturous romantically tense relationship between him and his ex Kim.

The ride that Coyle takes you on is SO MUCH FUN!! I don’t know anything about La Jolla or San Diego, but I was taken into a wonderfully atmospheric city which I loved. It was FULL of action!! Not just beat-em-up action, but clever action that helped the story come together all the way to its dramatic conclusion.

So you must be reading this and wondering why I am raving about this book so much but only gave it 4.5 stars instead of 5!!? I shall explain… Two reasons.

  1. The title. Night Tremors?? Makes it sound like some creepy scary horror story. I felt the title really didn’t have too much to do with the story. I don’t think many people who haven’t read the blurb or know the author would think that this is a crime action novel. Perhaps aliens or ghosts?? 🙂

2. The twist at the end was massive… MASSIVE!!! And I can understand why I have read other reviews of this book saying how awesome the ending was. It was a monster of a twist!!!  And it was SO CLEVER!! But for me personally I didn’t like it. I cant go into it without spoiling anything, but I just found it such a downer! However that’s just me, and everyone else seems to have loved it! I think I had just developed too much of a liking for all the characters involved and then the ending just hit me. Ok no more! Don’t want to spoil it!

So much thanks to Oceanview Publishing via Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Black-Eyed Susans – Julia Heaberlin

black eyed susans

5 Stars (5 / 5)

I love a good thriller and was so excited to get an advanced copy of Black-Eyed Susans as I have heard wonderful things about this upcoming book!

Thankfully I was not at all disappointed!

Tessa is only 16 when she is left for dead, the only survivor of a serial killer. The victims are known as “Black-Eyed Susans” – as their bodies were found in a field of Black-Eyed Susan flowers. The story is predominantly told from two perspectives. Tessa at 16 years of age (Tessie), having just survived the terrible ordeal, and also strong, resilient present day Tessa. Tessa in the present day is helping a team of investigators who suspect the man convicted of murdering the Black-Eyed Susans to be innocent. As the countdown to his execution looms closer and closer, Tessa is also fearful they convicted the wrong man, as she has no memory of the incident, but feels he was sent to jail because of her testimony as a teenager. The book flips back and forth in time as details are gradually revealed that lead to the truth.

The characters were great! Young Tessie was so damaged and raw. Having been through such a terrible ordeal, Heaberlin succeeds in making her tortured, believable and likeable. Older Tessa is the star character in the novel for me. I loved how she held herself and how she morphed from the scared teenager into a powerful, strong woman and mother. Her relationship with her daughter Charlie was fascinating and entertaining. They knew each other so well, even though Tessa had not really relayed the details of her past to her daughter in detail.

Bill and Jo were a great team. Bill on his altruistic crusade to free innocent people from death row, and Jo with her incredible knowledge of DNA. I learned quite a few things about forensics while reading this book! Heaberlin certainly put in a lot of research putting it all together.

The characters from young Tessie’s life were just as pivotal. Her best friend Lydia, almost as damaged as Tessie, is extremely influential in her life, as is the psychiatrist whom she spends the majority of the younger scenes divulging bit by bit of information to. The trial transcripts were another one of the highlights for me, reading about her experience and to see how a seemingly innocent man was sent to death row.

Although present day Tessa was the strongest character, my favourite character was senile old Effie from next door! She made me laugh in every appearance.

I love my thrillers with a dash of romance and loved the relationship between Tessa and Bill in this book. A lot of romantic tension mixed with a hefty dose of sexy was just what the doctor ordered! It worked really well – I loved them!

I really enjoyed the writers style in this book. Admittedly it took me a little while to get used to the intricate detail, however it soon began to easily flow and completely enriched the story. A lot of the time in novels I get a bit annoyed when it jumps back and forth in time – But not in this book. The perspective and time change with each chapter really worked and made it easily readable – kept me hooked till 4 in the morning!!!

The twist in this novel was slightly predictable, however did not deter from the gripping conclusion. I will absolutely be checking out Heaberlin’s other novels, hopefully they are as riveting as this one!

Thoroughly enjoyed it! You will too if you enjoy a good thriller!  5 Stars!

Thanks to Penguin via NetGalley for the advanced copy for my honest review.

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Pros and Cons of Having a Late Walker

My son is a late walker. At 20 months of age he is still yet to master crawling or standing up on his own, let alone walking or running around. There is nothing physically wrong with him apart from being “Hypermobile” – Or extra flexible. He is just a late walker. This has its good side, but most definitely has a bad side…

Lets take a closer look at the pros and cons of having a late walker…

PROS:

I don’t have to chase after him!

IMG_0933This is probably the number 1 positive thing about having a late walker. HE CAN’T RUN AWAY FROM ME!!!!!

In fact, I am lucky enough to have one of these children that I can put down in one spot, duck to the loo and be fairly confident he will still be in that same spot or in the general vicinity when I return. I know many parents who would kill for that!

Plus, its a lot safer having him not running away. Kids can be fast little critters, and I have watched many a mother have to sprint to chase their child to prevent them from getting into some sort of trouble. My child’s version of running away is bum shuffling at an extremely slow speed to get where he wants to go. I don’t even have to rush to catch him! I can finish my cuppa!

 

The Guns

Yes, my arm muscles are looking pretty damn awesome! Having to constantly lift a 13kg sack of potatoes has its advantages I guess..

 

Childproofing Can Wait a While

Yeah, my son couldn’t even get himself to the cupboard easily, let alone get into it or on top of it… While other mothers were frantically childproofing everything in sight, I got to do it later. And steal the best child-proofing ideas.

 

Saving Money

Do you know how much a pair of decent toddler’s shoes cost nowadays??!!! I can probably put him through university with the money I’m saving on shoes!

 

 The Cat is SafeIMG_0936

My son loves our cat… Loves to pull her ears, grab her tail, chew on her face… Thankfully the slow bum shuffling allows her plenty of time to escape when he sets his sights on her… Although she is getting old and doesn’t move fast – so she is in for a rude shock when he finally does start to chase her on his feet!

 

Patience

Patience is a virtue apparently… And I’m getting REALLY good at it…

 

CONS:

The Embarrassment of Bum Shuffling

Yes, having a bum shuffler is EMBARRASSING!!! Not because they are slow to walk, but because when they shuffle across the floor they look like a dog that’s wiping its bum on the ground.

 

Other Mothers

Yes, fellow bum shuffling mothers can most probably relate to the annoying and sometimes downright rude comments of other mothers. Much of the time they don’t mean any harm, but you still want to wring their necks!

Here are a few examples I have encountered:

  • “Oh look at him shuffling around there. He moves well doesn’t he? For his age?”

“He’s 19 months….”

“OH……….”

  • “My sisters friends cousins sisters friend had a child who butt shuffled. He was autistic. You better get him checked.”
  • “Oh just put him on the floor love, he will figure it out.”
  • “You mother him too much. Stop picking him up.”
  • “Well your obviously THAT kind of mother…”  WTF!??

And my personal favourite:

  • “He will get there in his own time…” Yes, but what about in the meantime!!???

 

Constipation

With his limited movement and hypermobility comes constipation… I don’t think I really need to say more. It sucks!

 

Frustration

You can probably guess. He sees all the other children (many who are younger than him) running around, climbing play equipment, sitting in chairs, etc etc. He DESPERATELY wants to be part of it. He doesn’t understand why he can’t. He isn’t able to comprehend that he will get there eventually, he just knows he is not there now. Its HEARTBREAKING!

FrustratedIt is also incredibly frustrating for me watching him not being able to do things the other kids do. We have some friends who had their child a year after mine. A WHOLE YEAR! And already they are starting to pull themselves up on furniture and will no doubt be walking soon. It feels like my son is over a year behind all the others. It makes me think, have I done something wrong as a parent? Do I not push him enough? (mind you we are currently doing 2 hours a week of intense physical therapy so I highly doubt my motivation is an issue). WHAT HAVE I DONE WRONG?

Absolutely nothing! I just have a child who doesn’t know how to walk, he hasn’t figured it out yet. Hopefully he will soon.

Mel xx

 

Do you have a bum shuffler??

A child with hypermobility or  is ultra flexible??

Anything you can add to my list??

Feel free to make a comment 🙂

 

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Piece by Piece – Cathie Whitmore

piece by piece - Cathie Whitmore

4 Stars (4 / 5)

I really enjoyed this book. It was a refreshing change from the usual doom and gloom books I have been reading lately!

The story follows an affluent family in Sydney – predominantly mother and daughter and their escapades, beginning from the late 1960s to the present. It spans 3 generations of drama and intrigue and mainly focuses on the relationship between mothers and their daughters.

I was pretty much hooked on the book and finished the first half in one sitting, then it slowed down a little bit and picked back up again towards the end.

The novel is set out quite differently. It is told from multiple perspectives. Each chapter reads like a diary entry. At times I felt that the different perspectives were still written quite similarly and if I came in mid-chapter it took me a minute to remember who I was reading about. It wasn’t hard to get mother and daughter mixed up as they were purposefully so similar, however at times even the friends perspectives sounded like they were the same person with the same way of thinking. And I felt that perhaps there were too many perspectives to read about.

However, it was well written overall. I enjoyed the diary-like style, and I LOVED the relationships and conversations between the characters! I also enjoyed the glimpse of Australia in the 1960’s. I don’t read novels set in Australia usually and I don’t read many Australian authors.This blog and GoodReads has certainly allowed me to be exposed to some wonderful Australian talent and for that I am truly thankful.

The novel did jump ahead in time a lot. One minute it was the 60’s, and the next minute the 80’s and 2000’s. Although the change was abrupt it was easily forgotten as you quickly became immersed in the new aspect of the story.

I enjoyed the romantic relationships with all the women and their partners in the book. A few scandals and other events kept it interesting and made for a very easy read.

Eleanor and Celeste! What can I say? I have never encountered such egotistical self-centred manipulative women in a book before. Not two of them at once anyway! They were extremely enjoyable to read, especially the horrible things that they would do to each other. I loved to dislike them both, yet like them both at the same time!

This book did make me think and reflect on my own relationships, especially with my mother. I know that although I don’t exactly see it or admit it easily, I realise that I am very similar to my mother in many ways –  we not only look similar, but we have very similar attributes. It was such a shame that Celeste did not realise and reflect on the similarities and make amends with her mother until later on in life. So much wasted time. It made me appreciate that my mother and I have a good relationship, I don’t mind at all that we are similar. She is a wonderful woman.

As our parents get older we realise that life doesn’t last forever. Soon we are mere memories of a future generation. Its our job as mothers to do our part and try to shape that generation, while embracing the similarities of the old one. It is good to have a reminder of that in this book.

Would I recommend Piece by Piece?

Yes, absolutely recommend it for fans of womens fiction and family saga’s. It was a lovely entertaining book and I am thankful for the opportunity to read it.

Many thanks to the author Cathie Whitmore for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Practice Makes Perfect – Julie James

Practice makes Perfect - Julie James

5 Stars (5 / 5)

Julie James is one of my favourite romance authors. She manages to create really wonderful characters and incredible romantic tension in all of her books. And Practice Makes Perfect is MY FAVOURITE ROMANCE BOOK EVER! And one of my all time favourite books.. Yes.. OF ALL TIME!! I have read this book so many times I have lost count!

The story line is simple, but it doesn’t need to be complex. It’s all about the tension… Payton and JD work at the same law firm… Tension… They hate each other… Tension… They realise they might not actually hate each other after all… Tension… Loads of funny and heart warming stuff happens, the end.

I know I know, it’s a pile of romantic fluff… But don’t let the seemingly simple story line put you off. The characters are so well written and the tension is SO GOOD that you wont care that there is no murder, mystery or major life shattering dramas. This is a good old fashioned, well written, AWESOME romance book!

Yes the characters are typically good looking, intelligent and talented.. Yes its corny, but I promise you that you will enjoy it anyway.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was that it was too short! It could have gone on and on and on for another 500 pages and I would have been happy!

Would I recommend it?

YES YES YES YES YES

If you are in the mood for some romance without the tragedy, lots of laughs and a feel good ending, this is the book for you! It is my number one cheer me up book – which I know will put me in a good mood every time I read it! In fact just writing about it makes me want to read it again!