To the Fair Land – Lucienne Boyce

This book contains:

  • attempted rape
  • incest
  • sexism appropriate for the age it’s set in.

This book is a bit of a mixture of following Ben Dearlove, and Sarah Edgecombe. I’m not sure if it’s because I had an advanced copy and so the formatting tends to be minimal, but I did struggle at times to identify when we were following Ben or Sarah.

Ben is the son of an apothecary but aspiring to be an author in London. Meanwhile, Sarah is the daughter of a merchant trying to live her best life in a world that isn’t kind to women.

While Ben is working on his first novel in London, a new novel is published and garners instant success. In an effort to earn money for himself so he can stay in London, Ben goes on a mission to find the author so that they can be offered a deal for a second book and he can collect a finder’s fee.

While on his mission to find the author, he’s faced with many challenges. Even when he finds the author, learns the truth and we fast forward a (few?) years, he’s still left with questions that never quite get satisfactorily answered.

My only problems with this book was that it felt a little slow paced (not at ALL helped by my supreme lack of reading time) and because of the formatting (already mentioned that this may have been an issue because I had an Advanced Reading Copy) I struggled to follow what was happening at times. I think the most obvious points where the formatting lacked was when we changed who we were following and when it was.

As a book that I could pick up for 5-10 minutes and then put down for sometimes days at a time (damn work hit me hard!) it was great. The pacing wasn’t so fast, complex or detailed that those gaps and small reading times made it difficult. It was probably one of the better books for me to read during this time because I’m not sure I could’ve enjoyed any other book when it took me that long to read it.

At the same time, I don’t think it’d be any less enjoyable reading it at a faster pace. It’s one of those stories that’s so well written that no matter how much, or little, time you have to read each week, you can enjoy the story for what it is. It’s an intriguing story that feels part fantasy, part history and part inspiration that is just so enjoyable and relaxing. Yes, even in a time of rampant death, it was relaxing!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land (SilverWood Books, 2012, reissued 2021), an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (SilverWood Books, 2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016, and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019 and is also an IndieBrag Medallion honoree, recipient of Chill With a Books Premium Readers’ Award, and a joint Discovering Diamonds Book of the Month. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.

In 2013, Lucienne published The Bristol Suffragettes (SilverWood Books), a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

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Stay Mad, Sweetheart – Heleen Kist

This book contains:

  • suicide
  • bullying and harassment (both online and in real life),
  • revenge.

Throughout the book we follow Laura, Suki and Claire as they deal with the aftermath of Emily’s suicide. Emily is Laura’s best friend and she worked with Claire. Her suicide affected each of them deeply and we see that play out in their actions throughout the book.

Laura is a socially awkward computer programmer. She’s already managing Emily’s social media use to make sure her mental health stays as strong as possible when the story begins. Since before the book begins, her male business partner has been managing the sale of their business so she can focus on the code and out of the politics of selling a business.

Claire is given Emily’s event planning portfolio after her suicide, and now has to work with Laura who she briefly spoke to just before Emily’s body was discovered. It’s a portfolio she doesn’t want, while her boss has given the one she wanted to a male colleague with less experience, and one he knew she wanted.

Suki isn’t introduced to us until after Emily’s death, yet she’s also been impacted by a male-controlled field. Her job is to understand Laura’s work to ensure the value is appropriately evaluated for the sale of the business.

All three women are impacted by Emily’s suicide in different ways. Laura is emotionally distraught; Emily is overworked and underappreciated while Suki is left trying to get Laura to focus. During this process they realise they have a common ground of wanting justice for wrongs that men have enforced on them.

Over the course of the book, they work together to process their grief and move forwards professionally, regardless of what barriers the men in their industries have put in their way. The challenges they go through to achieve this is something they do together, as a new friendship group bonded out of their shared experiences.

Overall, I didn’t like this book. The writing was great. The engagement was great. It was captivating. All the key areas you score a book in, it did really well.

It was those intangible things like the message it sends that really got to me. It sent the message that just because men have rigged the workplace system so much, it’s ok for women to commit crimes and ruin their lives to get ahead.

Up until the revenge plan was hatched, I was loving the book AND its message. Once that plan was hatched?

I literally only finished it because it was a BBNYA book, not because I was enjoying where it was going.

As a woman who looks younger than her years, is more mature than my years and is often in a position where I’m telling men twice my age how things should be done. I understand where they’re coming from. And I don’t agree with their decisions. I don’t believe that’s the best way to handle those issues and I wish Heleen had taken a better route than this.

Revenge really wasn’t necessary.

+2

The Modified Blueprint – Kellyn Thompson

This book contains:

  • Prisoner of war type treatment of one group of people
  • Attempted murder

Chris and Cameron are back, this time as a team.

Cameron is in on the job. This time as the key asset. She’s forced with facing the reality of where she would have been as a Purebred if her family wasn’t rich. Not only that, but she’s forced to face her remaining family and what the loss of them means to her. The emotional turmoil challenges her in ways she hasn’t been challenged before.

Right in time to set her up for her next challenge in what sounds like a third book coming! Chris is back in the field to support Cameron as she enters a Purebred Community, and as she confronts her family, what they’ve done in the past and what their legacy is continuing to do. Unlike in The Unexpected Inlander, Chris is the secondary character with Cameron taking centre stage. Although his character does give us some insight into how the government of the Sectors operates and gives us clues of some potential issues before facing a crisis of his own identity.

Chris and his team discover a new item for sale that worries them. To help them find out what it is, Cameron is enlisted. She’s sent into a Purebred Community where she’s able to help them find the information they need to chase down and recover the Cipher.

Through two states they chase down and negotiate for the cryptic Cipher. They have no idea what it is, all they know is that they must get it for the safety of the Sectors. In doing so they learn some unfortunate truths about their families and themselves. These truths are so dramatic but come so late they feel like they’re setting up for a third book rather than really impacting the storyline of this one.

I really enjoyed myself reading this one. I thought The Unexpected Inlander was a stand-alone book, so this sequel came as a bit of a surprise for me. Who knew so much drama and intrigue could happen in one family? Especially when almost all of them are already dead?!

Unlike the first book, as we get towards the end of this one it starts setting up some things that I’m assuming will come to light in a third book. When those hints follow up so much drama, emotional turmoil and intrigue, what will we be in for in the next book?

I’m really looking forward to the next one to see what will happen next for these two!

+1

A Remedy in Time – Jennifer Macaire

This book contains:

  • attempted murder
  • memories of murder
  • references to psychiatric facilities and various treatments

Robin is one of the most interesting main character’s I’ve read about. With her history of mental treatments, her delicate relationship with her boss’s son, uncanny ability to survive against the odds and ability to make friends with unlikely allies, she really is one of a kind.

Jake, the son of her boss is briefly introduced at the start of the story, then not heard from again until much later. His role in the story feels more like that of a motivator and inspiration.

Yah, the caveman she comes across just won’t leave her alone and keeps popping up at just the right moment to help her survive. It feels at times like he’s a love interest, but the story moves much too quickly with too much drama for anything more than a couple of hints to show themselves.

Robin is chosen to be sent back to the last Ice Age to find traces of Typhus-77 which is currently running rampant on Earth. When she arrives, everything changes and she’s left alone, needing to survive the extremely dangerous time with no help.

Before help can get to her, she runs into Yah. With his help she recovers and is ready to be saved by the rescue team that arrives shortly after. Only problem is, they aren’t there to rescue her.

For almost the whole book we follow Robin surviving against the odds, in an attempt to bring back the cure Earth desperately needs.

I feel like Jennifer started this one off very differently to her other books. There was a lot more time spent setting up Robin’s background and the background of what was happening compared to previous books. As we got into the book, that makes more sense since she isn’t trying to impact the past to ensure the future, she’s trying to save the future with the help of the past.

As I got absorbed into the story, I found myself forgetting that there’s usually a romantic element and just enjoyed the drama and excitement for what it was. Its own adventure and amazing story!

With every hurdle, every obstacle, every little piece of information we learn, the story felt more and more complex. I did guess what had happened before Robin figured it out, but that didn’t help me when the rescue team arrived when I had to start all over again.

The whole time I was on the edge of my seat needing to know what was going to happen, how would they save the world and what would happen to Yah?

Of course, I was left hanging right up until the very end! And it was brilliant! I loved it!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves chocolate, biking, & reading. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modeled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

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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.

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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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