The Unexpected Inlander – Kellyn Thompson

Welcome back everyone, at a time when we have a global pandemic, why not read a book about how the world come back to order after a worldwide war?

That’s pretty much what this is. It’s a book set about 40-50 years after a global world has ripped through the world destroying a lot of it and leaving an organised society that lives in sectors. Sounds a bit like Hunger Games right?

Well it’s not like Hunger Games! At least I didn’t think it felt like that.

We spend the whole time in the old US (the Western Sector) and follow two characters. Chris is the main character, however Jenna plays a large role in the book and is fairly pivotal to Chris, his personal development and even his professional development.

Given Chris’s job working for the government as an assassin you’d assume he’d be pretty sold on his government and whole heartedly agreed with everything they stand for. Pretty early on you get a sense that he believes in the government but is also open to hearing other views and at times disagreeing with how things currently work.

Jenna on the other hand grew up being told the government is authoritative, controlling and should be overthrown. Not exactly a recipe for a great relationship right?

Funnily enough, together they’re able to learn and develop and in a way the changes Chris is offered towards the end of the book are a perfect fit for him. I think for anyone who didn’t start with his mindset, let alone go through the learning he did, they would have struggled in that situation. Chris? I can picture him totally succeeding and being amazing at it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Four Letter Feelings by Lasairiona McMaster. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Kellyn Thompson is the author of the Unexpected Inlander series. In addition to thinking about how technology can influence society and writing fiction about it, she enjoys psychology, reading, going on walks, and cuddling with cats and dogs. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

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In Five Years – Rebecca Serle

Welcome back everyone, I think I’m finally up to date with reading the books I requested on NetGalley back in January. Now that we’re in August… Talk about taking 6 months!

I left this one to last since Rebecca isn’t an Aussie and I wanted to make sure I made progress on my Aussie Reading Challenges. But I also really liked the sound of this one. It sounds like a romance so it’s right up my alley.

But is it?

Well I don’t think so. I classify this one as Women’s Lit or Chick lit. There’s an element of romance throughout the book. And it’s the driving force for everything that happens. But that’s not what the story is about.

What I found as I got further and further into this book took me right into the feels and I couldn’t help but cry. The pain and suffering Dannie has to experience in her life is horrific. I honestly couldn’t imagine going through that myself.

A few times I had to put the book down because it was just getting so emotionally heavy I needed a break. This is by no means a “light read”.

It’s a powerful story, and one I think needed to be told. But it’s not something you should read if you need a break from reality.

This is one to read when you have the time and mental capacity to read and process everything you’re reading. For some people they may even want to avoid this book, if cancer or young death are something you want to avoid, don’t read this book.

In a way I’m glad I read this in my first week of round 2 of COVID lockdown because it reminded me that there are worse things happening to people than having to stay home. It reminded to enjoy having my boyfriend, my dog and my family around to be able to see and talk to. Even if it is only via phone.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; next week I will be reviewing Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow.

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The Daughter of Victory Lights – Kerri Turner

Welcome back everyone, this review is a week behind schedule since I never go around to writing this review let alone scheduling it last week!

I was a little confused initially trying to remember what period I was reading at the time. I mean, you started in the 50s, went back to the 40s, then jumped around a little (always moving forwards in time) before making a massive jump to the 60s in Part 2.

This jumping around didn’t make sense to me until well into Part 2, roughly 3/4 of the way through the book. The first part of the book follows Evenlyn Bell, while the second part followed her daughter. Which explains where there was such a jump in time from the end of Part 1 and the start of Part 2.

Although I found that Part 2 was very anti-climatic and let the book down compared to Part 1. You must wait until the end of the book to find out why her daughter was raised away from her. What happened and why her father is so odd. None of it made sense and I almost lost interest in the book because of it.

I did push through. And I kind of wish I hadn’t. Although the writing and the story were good the ending just sucked. It could have been so much better but it just…ended! Nothing to it! Just blah.

I still rated it 4 starts because the writing was well done, and the overall story was good. I just didn’t enjoy some of the execution. It wasn’t to my tastes but I can see how some would enjoy it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Melting Stones by Tamora Pierce.

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The Lawson Sisters – Janet Gover

Welcome back everyone, I’m finally getting onto some Aussie author’s and I’ve been lucky enough to start it with a good one! YAY!

To give you an idea on why I was surprised in the location for this book, I’ve only ever known the Hunter Valley to be a place for wineries and breweries. Having it as the prime location for a horse breeding set story was a bit of a shock for me.

Although I know some of the locations by name, and I’ve visited some, I’m not familiar enough with the region to know how accurate the descriptions were. Since the author spent time in the region while writing it, I’d assume they are on point.

Some people have marked this story as a romance, yet I feel it fits under women’s fiction a bit better. Purely because it felt like the majority of the story focussed on the sister’s relationship, their grief and their family stud farm.

The focus on the emotional growth and development of all the characters (Liz, Kayla and Mitch) is amazing. By having little snippets of the past shown it allowed me to add a little bit of knowledge and context to how the characters are feeling today as I went. They were also timed perfectly and only showed the tiny bit that would add value.

My only problem was figuring out who’s point of view, and when, I was reading at any given point in time. It only took me a page or so to figure it out, but it still tripped me up and took me longer, and more brain power, than I would’ve liked.

If it had character names and say a year at the start of each chapter, I think that would’ve really helped keep me fully involved in the story rather than trying to figure out who, and when, I was following. This would’ve been especially important the first time since I wasn’t expecting to be thrown into the past, so it took me a few pages to figure out I was reading about the past, not a dream or something.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce.

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The Cake Fairies – Isabella May

Welcome back everyone, you’re in for a wild ride of Rach Random Resource tours over the next couple of months! Think 13 reviews over 2 months! How crazy am I?

I start off this crazy two months with a story about love, second chances, family and screen addictions. Together this sounded like it was going to be a great story with lots of positive messages and a chance for me to reflect.

Instead, I found the first half of the book to be very slow paced with every conversation and thought fully played out. While the second half you were lucky to get half the conversation explained let alone all the thoughts. I think if there had have been a happy pacing medium found throughout it would have felt more engaging.

With the slow pace that suddenly turned to a fast pace it felt like either the Isabella didn’t want to cut anything out, but also didn’t want to give us a mammoth sized book. Or, she was reminded to hurry up, or maybe she got bored writing so in depth. I mean, I can’t imagine how much time and effort that would have taken so I totally get it if she got bored or tired with writing in such detail!

Yet I think the main reason I found myself in a bit of a slump with this book is because the characters core personalities seemed to change at the drop of a hat. I get that under pressure and unknown circumstances people can react weirdly. But that’s usually out of fear or panic. Although these feelings were there when you read Polly and Annabelle’s thoughts, there seemed to be a larger shift that felt weird, unnatural and inconsistent.

Although I didn’t find the writing style suited me, I loved the messages Isabella spoke about throughout the book. Using cake to get people to connect, explore their emotions, realise their screen addictions and generally make changes for the better is genius. I don’t believe the effects would be so apparent with all the gluten free, dairy free, nut free, vegan friendly etc etc etc requirements in todays day and age. I mean, they didn’t even leave a little card out with the cakes letting people know what they contained.

But one can wish the effects would’ve been as popular as they were in the book!

I’m not one to comment on this normally, but I feel like a little LGBTQ+ (I honestly don’t know how many letters and in what order they are meant to go so I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten anything) rep would have worked in this story. Annabelle or Ivy were prime candidates for this rep to be woven in in a way that added value to the story, so I really wish that had have been explored. It would’ve made total sense and I kept expecting it.

Overall, the messages and story were great. It was just those little inconsistencies that I struggled to connect with. I’m the type of reader who really needs consistency, so I do struggle when it’s missing.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Perfect Match by Zoe May. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, churros, ice cream and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s rules.

The Cake Fairies is her fifth novel.

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Death Takes a Holiday at Pemberley – Kelly Miller

Welcome back everyone, I’m continuing this week with another regency novel. This one is less of a romance than the Miss Amelia’s Mistletoe Marquis and more of a reflection on what’s important in life.

At the beginning of the book Kelly gives a brief introduction to the language she’s chosen to use for the book, great idea! By setting me up with the expectation that the language is going to be different to what I’m used to hearing every day I wasn’t shocked and the transition to comfortably reading it wasn’t too long.

Based on my limited knowledge of the original Pride and Prejudice, which this is meant to be a continuation of, I’m assuming the choice of language was deliberate to ensure it remained as true to the original story as possible.

Given the blurb I was expecting Darcy to have a kind of three ghosts of Christmas experience. Yet Kelly surprised me by having the angel of death be surprisingly human and compassionate. By bringing more characters than just Darcy and Elizabeth into the fold Kelly was able to weave a story that reminded me of so many life lessons. The type that most people can only learn through experience.

By incorporating a raft of characters into this story Kelly was able to include more life lessons and considerations than would’ve been possible with just Darcy and Elizabeth. It felt so well done without being over the top that it really worked.

The key themes I felt expressed throughout were those of love, acceptance, forgiveness, thinking before acting and their impacts on others when either displayed, or not displayed. The little twist at the end was such a sweet touch that left me feeling really happy with how everything was left.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Cake Fairies by Isabella May. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Historical fiction author Kelly Miller discovered writing late in life, but it has quickly become a favorite pastime. When not pondering a plot point or a turn of phrase, she may be found playing the piano, singing, reading, or walking. Kelly Miller resides in Silicon Valley with her husband, daughter, and their many pets.

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Single All the Way – Elaine Spires

Welcome back everyone, after a busier November than I’d anticipated I’m kicking off the Christmas month with a book set over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This one ended up being a bit of a disappointment to me. I went into it expecting a romantic comedy and was left quite underwhelmed. The story itself was mostly fine. It was the delivery that didn’t quite do it for me. However, as an inspiring, life lesson kind of read this is amazing.

The first thing I need to say about this book was that its chapters were “days”, meaning some chapters took me an hour or so to read. I think this could have been done better if the days were “parts” to the book, and the character’s points of view were the chapters.

I think this would give the reader a cleaner point where they could stop reading rather than hoping they remember what was said when they put it down halfway through a conversation because you don’t know when the next natural break is.

The next point I was to talk about is the amount of characters used. Usually, the books I read follow one or two characters and might alternate their points of view between those two characters. Or, you might have a few other characters thrown in, but the point of view sticks to the main two characters.

In this book I couldn’t figure out who the story was meant to be about and (if I can remember correctly) the point of view alternated between 10+ characters. The only other book I’ve come across that uses to many characters is Game of Thrones, and George R.R. Martin has a chapter to each character, titled as the character’s name, making it easier to follow. In this case the character changes happened at mini breaks in the chapters and because of the amount of characters used, I often struggled to figure out who I was reading about.

The final thing I want to mention is the feel of the book. When I finished this book, I left it feeling like “romantic comedy” is the wrong way to market it. Instead, I think it should be marketed as a story that shows the trials and tribulations people face in their everyday life. The key messages I felt resonating with me were that of acceptance and love for all — including yourself, forgiveness, honesty and communication.

Even though it wasn’t quite the fun read I thought it would be, I finished it with more of a life lesson, key take away kind of feel. If you want to read about how different people face a range of issues (sexuality, grief, guilt, family secrets, being single later in life etc) then this is an inspiring read I urge you to read.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Lasairiona E. McMaster’s The Good in Goodbye, the sequel to Intimate Strangers. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine’s keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.

Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series – Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.

Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019! 

Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

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A Forgiven Friend – Sue Featherstone

Welcome back everyone, we’ve got the final review for October with a Rach Random Resources tour.

First off, I want to note that this book is written by two authors which might explain one of my problems with the book. Before I go into the negatives though I want to talk about the positive points!

Rather than being a romance (like so many of my other books) it’s a straight up story about the friendship between two women. There aren’t too many books that explore this dynamic, so it was interesting to read this, especially since both points of view are written.

Unfortunately, other than the writing being well written there’s not much else I can say that’s good about it.

I wasn’t drawn into the story, although I think this has more to do with this being the 3rd book and there was no set up or recap at the start to tell me who’s who. It felt like each other had chosen a character each and written their side of the story without checking that they were writing the same thing when they wrote about the same interaction from both sides. There were at least 2 instances where this happened and the phrases they said differed, and even their reactions and movements were different for each character.

I also found Teri hard to relate to given she was so self-obsessed. But then again, I guess that lack of self esteem and her personality as a result was one of the things the authors wanted to explore. Instead I constantly found myself wishing I could bitch-slap her and yell at her to calm the F down and let other people get on with their lives without her needing to be the constant centre of attention.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I’ll be reviewing #Jerk by Kat T. Masen. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.

The first novel in their Friends series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, published on November 19.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

Check out their blog Book Lovers Book List

Sue’s Twitter

Susan’s Twitter

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You, Me, and the Movies – Fiona Collins

Welcome back everyone, although this isn’t a Christmas story like last week’s review. It’s begins around Christmas. I’m calling it that it’s still in the spirit of this season!

I’m just gonna put it out there. This book is classified as a romance, but it felt more like a self discovery story to me. Yes, this centred around a romance. But I honestly felt like I was reading Arden’s story of growth, pain, change and her friendships.

Arden had her ups and downs, just like anyone does. Her life took unexpected turns that didn’t give her the big amazing life Mac imagined she’d have. But she kept going. She lived for her son. She had the courage to change in the face of adversity, for her son. She found the courage to renew friendships she thought she’d lost and didn’t deserve.

Those actions speak so much louder to me than the romantic connection and memories from her time with Mac. With each chapter swapping between the past and the present, you get a sense of who Arden was, while experiencing who she is now.

I may have imagined it, but it felt like the chapters written about the past were written in a reflective style. Whereas the ones set now felt like there were written in the moment. If I did imagine it then I’m sorry! But I did feel like there was a difference in the writing style which helped to grow and develop the story.

The main thing I loved about this story was the deep meaning and value of friendships that’s displayed throughout the book. The messages coming through during these times were so intense that it caused me to reflect on my own friendships, past and present, to see how I could be a better friend to others.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I go back to a typical Christmas book with Lucy Coleman’s Magic Under the Mistletoe.

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