Category: Adult

Life, Amongst Other Things: Girl in Between by Anna Daniels

Posted May 13, 2017 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 2 Comments

Life, Amongst Other Things: Girl in Between by Anna DanielsGirl in Between by Anna Daniels
Published by Allen & Unwin on 1st May 2017
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Finished Review Copy
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Lucy Crighton has just moved in with some gregarious housemates called Brian and Denise . . . who are her parents. She's also the proud mother of Glenda, her beloved 10-year-old . . . kelpie. And she has absolutely no interest in the dashing son of her parents' new next-door neighbour . . . well, maybe just a little.

When you're the girl in between relationships, careers and cities, you sometimes have to face some uncomfortable truths . . . like your Mum's obsession with Cher, your father's unsolicited advice, and the fact there's probably more cash on the floor of your parents' car than in your own bank account.

Thank goodness Lucy's crazy but wonderful best friend, Rosie, is around to cushion reality, with wild nights at the local Whipcrack hotel, escapades in Japanese mud baths, and double dating under the Christmas lights in London.

But will Lucy work out what she really wants to do in life and who she wants to share it with?

Girl in Between is a warm, upbeat and often hilarious story about life at the crossroads. Featuring an endearing and irrepressible cast of characters, it will have you chuckling from start to finish.

There’s something wonderful about connecting with a character and her story, and for me, that’s what Girl in Between was –  a novel of my own heart.

Lucy has just moved back home to her parent’s house in Rockhampton, one failed relationship and a career in journalism behind her. She’s at a crossroads in her life, and figuring out the next step is proving a lot harder than it looks. Throw in romance, friendships and family, Lucy is caught, almost quite literally, as new chapters of her life begin and end – she is the ‘girl in between.’

The Girl in Between was filled with great Aussie humour and witty charm. Lucy’s a country girl at heart, though having spent years in the big city developing her career in TV journalism. A failed attempted at following her ex boyfriend back to Queensland lands her at home with her Mum & Dad, two hilarious characters in their own right. Lucy’s unsure about her next move, or where her path is leading – something that resonates with any twenty or thirty something yet to find their place in the world. With that uncertainty brings a lot of different choices and highlight’s Lucy’s indecisive nature, as well as that worry about whether or not she’s choosing the right path. connected really well with Lucy; she’s the type of person I’d be friends with in real life. We also share the same fears and worries and a lot of her story resonated with me on a personal level.

The supporting cast as well are fantastic – as mentioned, Lucy’s parents are a barrel of laughs as they navigate retirement. I love how supportive of Lucy they are as well, but still encouraging her to find her feet. Lucy’s best friend, Rosie, was a character and bounded off Lucy beautifully. Then there’s the romance – it wasn’t over done, but rather subtle, and I loved that it didn’t eclipse Lucy’s self discovery. Oscar of course, was a dish, and I also enjoyed that the romance wasn’t straight forward, but they were still able to find their way back to each other.

From country Queensland to the bustle of London, Girl in Between was a charmingly funny novel about finding your place in the world – no matter how long it takes you to get there.

Girl in Between is published by Allen & Unwin and is now available from all good bookstores (support your local!) for RRP$29.99

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Full of Hidden Potential – But Not Quite: The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

Posted April 2, 2017 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

Full of Hidden Potential – But Not Quite: The Hidden Hours by Sara FosterThe Hidden Hours by Sara Foster
Published by Simon & Schuster Australia on 1st April 2017
Format: E-ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Keeping her secret may save her family.

But telling it may save her life.

Arabella Lane, senior executive at a children’s publisher, is found dead in the Thames on a frosty winter’s morning after the office Christmas party. No one is sure whether she jumped or was pushed. The one person who may know the truth is the newest employee at Parker & Lane – the office temp, Eleanor.

Eleanor has travelled to London to escape the repercussions of her traumatic childhood in outback Australia, but now tragedy seems to follow her wherever she goes. To her horror, she has no memory of the crucial hours leading up to Arabella’s death – memory that will either incriminate or absolve her.

As Eleanor desperately tries to remember her missing hours and uncover the events of that fateful night, her own extended family is dragged further into the dark, terrifying terrain of blame, suspicion and guilt.

Caught in a crossfire of accusations, Eleanor fears she can’t even trust herself, let alone the people around her. And soon, she’ll find herself in a race against time to find out just what happened that night – and discover just how deadly some secrets can be.

When I first saw the blurb for The Hidden Hours, I was extremely intrigued. Murder in a publishing house? I didn’t know I needed that! However instead of a thrilling cutthroat read that would put me off wanting to enter the industry, what I got instead was a bland, frustrating story that left me feeling unfulfilled.

In theory, The Hidden Hours was a great novel – however its execution was the biggest let down. The story follows Eleanor, who has moved to London to escape her traumatic childhood. There, she lives with her freelance architect uncle and his publishing industry bigwig wife, who is able to get Eleanor a PA position to one of the directors. Only a couple of weeks after Eleanor starts at Park & Lane, the marketing director, Arabella, is found dead in the Thames. And with the night of Arabella’s death a blank in Eleanor’s mind, it puts her directly in the crossfire as the mystery unravels, and accusations fly.

It’s hard to enjoy a book with a narrator like Eleanor. From the beginning, she’s a character that doesn’t do an awful lot but mope and whine. Which became old, fast. With this big chunk of her memory missing, rather than buckle up and take an active stance in trying to figure out her movements, she essentially just sat on her bum and complained about it. She blindly follows other peoples questions and manipulations. Basically, she doesn’t think for herself and that was what got me. The rest of the character set were about as uninteresting as each other. I never felt connected to any of them, and in the end I couldn’t really care who had done the crime. Even the little splash of romance felt mundane.

The Hidden Hours is essentially two stories. There’s what’s happening in the present, with Arabella’s death, and the past, which explains the traumatic childhood that has Eleanor fleeing Australia for the comforts of a new city. This seems to be a trend, I’ve noticed, in psychological thrillers. Dual narratives, one of which gives an insight into the main character’s past – and sadly, this doesn’t work for me. The chapters of Eleanor’s childhood were long and drawn out, too much information overload that was unnecessary at times, where you’re just screaming to yourself, Get to the point already! It made me less sympathetic by the end as well.

One thing I did love, however, was at the start of each chapter, you got to read a a snippet of all the different people connected to Arabella’s death – from hotel receptionists, strangers on a bridge, the police…it provided a unique insight into just how many different people were somehow a part of Arabella’s death.

Sadly though, I don’t think I’d be back for more. I’m craving edge of your seat, don’t trust anything, don’t read in the middle of the night psychological thrillers and this one missed the mark more than once.

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Sufficiently Twisty, But Not Much Oomph: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Posted February 8, 2017 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 1 Comment

Sufficiently Twisty, But Not Much Oomph: The Girl Before by JP DelaneyThe Girl Before by JP Delaney
Published by Quercus, Hachette Australia on 31st January 2017
Pages: 361
Format: E-ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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A psychological thriller that spins one woman’s seemingly good fortune, and another woman’s mysterious fate, through a kaleidoscope of duplicity, death, and deception—and the hottest title at the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair.

A damaged young woman gets the unique opportunity to rent a one-of-a-kind house. When she falls in love with the sexy, enigmatic architect who designed it, she has no idea she is following in the footsteps of the girl who came before: the house’s former tenant.

The eerie parallels in the two girls’ lives lay bare an enthralling story…and make this novel the must-read thriller of the season.

Imagine the perfect house. One that can be tuned to your every want and need. How do you like your showers? Housekeeper will find out for you so you never have to deal with the dreaded hot-cold-hot problem again.  Sleek, minimalistic, a house that encourages better habits, and in turn, makes you a better person. Kitted out with the full mod cons, all at the press of an app.

Sounds like a dream, right?

That’s 1 Folgate Street for you. But living at 1 Folgate Street isn’t like living in a normal rental. There are rules. No pets. No kids. No clutter. Housekeeper records all your data – your every move.

Cue our story. The Girl Before was an interesting read, although it did lack that heart thumping vibe you get from the cover and the blurb. Told from two perspectives, Jane – the Now, and Emma, the Then – there were many twists and turns that kept you wanting to read more, but ultimately, it was a story that failed to grip the reader.

What I did love about The Girl Before was the way the dual narration played out. It was easy to get complacent, as a lot of the narration falls into the same pattern as both girls explore their relationship with the house, and in turn the controlling, enigmatic owner and architect Edward Monkford. The exact precision of events was creepy enough in itself, but then at a certain point was flipped, and all of a sudden you find yourself not knowing who or what to believe. It was at that point that I decided to keep reading – a good chunk of the story at first is quite repetitive, which may not be for some, but I promise it’s worth sticking around just to figure out what the heck is going on.

I did like how a lot of the novel was centred around mental illness. Edward’s grief for his loss turned into obsession with meticulous detail and perfectionism, Emma’s paranoia (and subsequently a lot of other issues I can’t mention without spoiling!) and Jane’s depression were something I keenly felt throughout the novel. I felt however that a lot of the time the story was too fast paced, too quick. There wasn’t nearly enough time to really get to understand the characters on a personal level. There was also too much of a fascination and concentration around Edward, the architect of the house himself, which meant that the ending fell a little flat and unexplored, the ending losing a lot of its momentum.

What could have been a deliciously creepy novel about obsession and technology taking over our lives sadly was not all that it could have been, but nevertheless, The Girl Before was still an enjoyable read. And would I live in 1 Folgate Street? Absolutely not. There were no bookshelves!

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Three Reasons You Need to Read As We Know It by Carrie Butler

Posted December 28, 2016 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 3 Comments

Three Reasons You Need to Read As We Know It by Carrie ButlerAs We Know It by Carrie Butler
Published by Indie on 12th December 2016
Format: E-ARC
Source: Author
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Deep beneath the ocean, stretching hundreds of miles alongside the Pacific Northwest coastline, lies the Cascadia subduction zone—a fault on the verge of unleashing a catastrophic earthquake, thirty times more powerful than the San Andreas. Unfortunately, like most tourists, Elena Cordova is oblivious.

She’s got her own pent-up stress to deal with, a humiliating breakup that’s driven her to end her tenure as a human doormat once and for all. So, when a pickpocket makes off with the last remnant of her relationship, she takes action—only to get trapped with him when disaster strikes.

Now, if either one hopes to survive, they’ll have to get past their initial impressions and work together . . . because in fifteen minutes, half the town will be underwater.

Let me just put it out there – I love disaster films. Which is probably already weird, but when you add in the fact that earthquakes are one of the only things that strike fear into my heart, you might be wondering, “Huh? I don’t think that’s healthy?” To be honest, I think it’s a kind of coping mechanism, because the scary thing about pretty much every natural disaster film out there is that there’s a harsh reality behind it.

So naturally when one of my favourite New Adult authors offered up her new novel for review and I found out it was a romance survival story, I jumped at the chance to read it. “But why should I read As We Know It?” I hear you asking, wondering where I’m going with this whole conversation about earthquakes and romance. Well, I have three very good reasons for you, and if you’re looking to branch out into adult fiction in 2017 (or even the end of 2016!), then I highly suggest you add As We Know It to your TBR!

A Well Rounded Host of Diverse Characters. I haven’t come across much diversity in adult contemporary romance, if I’m honest you with you. And I hadn’t really expected it in As We Know It, so it was completely refreshing to read about people from all walks of life who are brought together because of one situation. Our MC, Elena, is a feisty Hispanic that really shines as a woman who can stand on her own two feet and has a sassy sense of humour I absolutely loved. Vincent, the romantic interest, is a war veteran suffering from PSTD. There’s great diversity between all the supporting characters as well, which just hones in the point that in a crisis, there’s more people of colour in the world than just Dwayne Johnson and his all white family from San Andreas.

Insta-Love That Actually Works (What?!). I know. If you’re like me, insta-love has always been a big no no, but after reading As We Know It, it’s really made me assess that word, and what it means when applied to different situations that we face. Granted, I don’t think you can fall in love at first sight (fall in attraction, yes), but life is full of little meet cutes, romantic or not. And natural disasters are no different, I guess? Two people relying on each other for survival and comfort are bound to bond in some way or another, and I love the way Carrie explored this in such a natural way.

Real, Nitty, Gritty Fiction That’s Not Marred by the Hollywood Complex. It’s so easy for these types of stories, in whatever format they appear, to become unrealistic, but Carrie keeps her plot firmly grounded in reality with every situation one that you can put yourselves in. Which makes the determination of the characters to survive this ordeal so much more personal. In other words, Carrie knows how to take the ordinary and put them into the extraordinary, all the while maintaining a level of humanity. There’s no sugarcoating either; there’s a darker side to humanity that is shown in As We Know It, but at the same time, Carrie instills a level of hope and determination that I hope I can carry on if I were ever in a natural disaster (and please, let’s hope not).

All in all, a heart pounding mixture of grim reality coupled with sweet romance makes As We Know It a thrilling read, and one I’d highly recommend. 

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Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Sophia Henry

Posted December 19, 2016 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Sophia HenryUnsportsmanlike Conduct Series: Pilots Hockey #4
by Sophia Henry
Published by Random House Flirt on 18th October 2016
Pages: 266
Format: E-Book, E-ARC
Source: Publisher, Netgalley
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The author of Delayed Penalty returns with the story of a free spirit who believes she’s found forever with a playboy on a singles cruise. Discover why Kelly Jamieson calls the Pilots Hockey series “fun and flirty, warm and sweet.”

Kristen Katsaros wants a life full of adventure and laughter. After a difficult childhood, her motto is to live each day like it’s her last—because it just might be. So when Kristen’s parents send her on a post-grad singles cruise in the Caribbean to meet a Greek husband, she promptly hooks up with the hottest guy she’s ever met. Pasha’s decidedly not Greek, but Kristen gives him a pass because he’s got fun written all over his rock-hard abs.

Pavel Gribov, the cocky playboy of the Detroit Pilots hockey team, can score any girl he wants. But when a teammate drags him on a singles cruise, he can’t resist the chance to help out a drop-dead gorgeous damsel in distress by pretending to be her boyfriend. Before long, the fake fling turns intimate, fueled by something much deeper than lust.

Kristen and Pasha both agree to walk away once the cruise is over, but reality hits like a slap shot when Kristen finds out Pasha lied about everything. Just when she’s ready to start living again, the two stubborn survivors must decide if they can bear to lose the best thing that ever happened to either of them.

You guys, I think I’ve found my new favourite trope.

Hockey players. Swoon.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct is the story of Kristen, a post grad Greek on a cruise (around the Caribbean) of a lifetime…but it has a catch. It’s a Singles cruise her parents have booked her on to find a Greek husband. And when the world is your oyster, a husband definitely isn’t in your plans – especially for Kristen, whose battle with Cystic Fibrosis has her living each day like it’s her last. Until she meets Pasha – not Greek, and not the kind of guy you bring home to your parents.

What was essentially a quick, lazy day read turned into something that was a little bit more – a story about living life and breaking down barriers placed upon you by society. The relationship between Pasha and Kristen was really intense, something I’m not quite used to be a slow burn type of girl, but at the same time it’s good to see people who fall madly in love in such a short time frame (it is, after all, how my parents met!).

Having not read any of the other Pilot novels in the series meant that I didn’t really get Pasha’s “bad boy” image as much, so he just came across as brooding most of the time. But he was a good match for Kristen, who at times was a little too nice and naive…but they were like two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

And most importantly – the way Henry wrote about a disability I thought was very well done. You don’t see a lot of novels depicting people with Cystic Fibrosis, and I thought Henry really outshone here. There was nothing degrading or…what’s that word? Condescending about the way she wrote about Kristen’s condition, but instead gave us an insight into what it is like to live every day with a condition that gets little attention. Which should be the norm in fiction (so that’s five stars in itself)!

So if you enjoy your couples falling head first in love, you’ll definitely enjoy Unsportsmanlike Conduct. Just remember to bring a fan, because it packs some serious heat, and I’m not talking about the Caribbean sunshine (I mean abs. Pasha’s abs.)

For more information about Cystic Fibrosis in America, visit here. For Australia, visit here. For the U.K., visit here

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Evan and Darcy by Melanie Coles

Posted October 2, 2016 by Hannah in Adult, Reviews / 0 Comments

Evan and Darcy by Melanie ColesEvan and Darcy by Melanie Coles
Published by Escape Publishing on 15th July 2016
Pages: 350
Format: E-ARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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Jane Austen gets a little dusty in this outback retelling of a beloved story about a man who learns that first impressions can be wrong when you’re looking for Ms Right.

Wheat farmer Evan Bennet is happy being single until his brother falls for the new girl in town, wealthy hotel owner Claire Bingley. Suddenly finding a girl seems more appealing…unless you’re talking about Claire’s best friend, pretentious lawyer Darcy Fitzwilliam. Her cold manners have Evan seeing red, and when a cute girl with links to Darcy’s past catches his eye, he’s even more determined to dislike her.

When a startling revelation turns Evan’s world upside down and he unexpectedly crosses Darcy’s path again, he’s forced to reassess his opinion of her. But just as he starts to open his heart, a crisis engulfs his family, threatening to destroy any hope of a future with Darcy.

With a cloud hanging over his family, Evan knows his chance of winning Darcy’s heart is gone… until some surprising news and a generous gift leave him wondering if her heart might be his after all.

Let’s just face the facts: I’m total trash for when it comes to a Jane Austen retelling, and Evan and Darcy is something I’ve been needing for a long time and never realised it. One thing I’ve learnt about my reading habits this year is that I’m a total sucker for rural romance, making Evan and Darcy my total kryptonite.

Evan and Darcy is a sublime retelling of a personal favourite classic, with an Australian twist that will make it a favourite. Evan is our Elizabeth, the second of five sons, and at a curveball in his life, torn between staying and helping on the family farm, or following his dream of becoming a vintner.   When he meets Darcy, a hotshot lawyer from Melbourne, the two instantly butt heads, and from there on the age old story of Pride & Prejudice plays out.

The best part of the story is the”gender bent” twist – I’ve never actually read a retelling before where the roles are reversed, and it was completely refreshing. I would have loved to have seen more interaction between Evan and Darcy (Darcy especially; I felt like we really didn’t get to see a lot of her character growth in comparison to Evan) – most of their conversations felt rushed and lacking, and one of the things I love about the original is those interactions. 

If it’s a sweet, fun romance you’re after, then definitely give this a one a go – a perfect beach read for those sunny days coming up!

 

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