Review: Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer #bookblog #bookreview @HachetteAUS @KelRimmerWrites

Blurb

The 2:00 a.m. call is the first time Lexie Vidler has heard her sister’s voice in years. Annie is a drug addict, a thief, a liar—and in trouble, again. Lexie has always bailed Annie out, given her money, a place to sleep, sent her to every kind of rehab. But this time, she’s not just strung out—she’s pregnant and in premature labor. If she goes to the hospital, she’ll lose custody of her baby—maybe even go to prison. But the alternative is unthinkable.

As weeks unfold, Lexie finds herself caring for her fragile newborn niece while her carefully ordered life is collapsing around her. She’s in danger of losing her job, and her fiancé only has so much patience for Annie’s drama. In court-ordered rehab, Annie attempts to halt her downward spiral by confronting long-buried secrets from the sisters’ childhood, ghosts that Lexie doesn’t want to face. But will the journey heal Annie, or lead her down a darker path?

Both candid and compassionate, Before I Let You Go explores a hotly divisive topic and asks how far the ties of family love can be stretched before they finally break.

My Thoughts

My book of the year. Really, saying that alone, and the fact that we’ve still got six months of the year left still and I’ve already named my book of the year, tells you just how much I loved this story. I absolutely loved it.

Addiction is such a hideous disease.  It affects the user, and everyone else around them. Very much like the ripple effect. This story was the most accurate portrayal of addiction that I’ve read yet. My eyes welled so many times reading this. The emotion, anguish, betrayal, confusion, guilt, worry, disappointment, longing, and love was just overwhelming at times. I felt so much for all the characters in this story that I just didn’t want to stop reading. I was furious at Robert and that part of the storyline, and I absolutely loved the relationship between Annie and her sister as they were growing up.  I think it was the diary entry in CH 18 (going from memory which I have to admit it pretty sketchy LOL) which documented Lexie leaving the ‘Cult’ and leaving poor 12 yr old Annie, that had me ugly crying.  And I do mean UGLY cry.  The trauma that that poor girl endured, and to have the only person that she could trust and knew that loved her disappear with out her (Lexie leaving), was the pivitol moment in her downward fall.  My heart truly ached for Annie.  And I appreciated the thought and effort the author made in conveying her emotional turmoil and struggle.

I also applaud how Lexie’s own struggle was written.  It is tremendously hard watching someone’s life downward spiral with addiction.  Essentially, you’re powerless to do anything because the only person that can help themselves, is the addict. That’s extremely hard to do when a person is dealing with multiple trauma’s, because more often than not, the reason that they’ve turned to the drugs is to self-medicate when experiencing depression, PTSD, trying to forget things etc. So an addict can relapse many many many many times.  They may never get clean.  I loved that the author explored this with Lexi. Shared her frustration, and even anger, with Annie an all the times she’d tried to help her. For Lexi being confused because even though she’s a doctor and KNOWS about addiction, it can be a very different experience to live through it personally.  Lexi was very human.  There was a time or two when I gasped because of something she said to Annie. One of those being when Annie was naming the baby and Lexi didn’t agree with it, they way she talked and what she said to Annie, was awful. I immediately felt for Annie, and thought “wow, that was below the belt Lexi”. But you know what, that was real.  No one’s perfect. We all have our moments, and I think it was just a representation of how addiction effects relationships.

And the poor little baby?  I’m so glad that she survived, although her withdrawal  scenes were vivid and written so well. I had some tears through that as well. And they ending… UGLY CRY. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was hoping for a different out come for sure.  I pictured it happening as though it was on one of my favourite tv show dramas. In slow motion, with some backing music. Not fair.

So as you can see, I LOVED this. It pulled me in from the very beginning and had me finishing it within the day. I just couldn’t put it down because I didn’t want to leave Lexie of Annie’s side. I needed to see where their journey was going, stuff any study or house-work that had to be done!

I rated Before I Let You Go: 5/5 stars and my 2019 Drama Book of the Year

Happy Reading

Nat

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Review: Best of my Love by Susan Mallery #bookblog @SusanMallery #bookreview

Blurb

To overcome her painful past, baker Shelby Gilmore goes on the hunt for a friend—a male friend—to convince her stubborn psyche that men can be trusted. But where in a town as small as Fool’s Gold will the petite blonde find a guy willing to not date her?

Dark, charming Aidan Mitchell puts the “adventure” in Mitchell Adventure Tours…and into the beds of his many willing female tourists. Until he realizes he’s inadvertently become that guy—the one-night Casanova—and worse, everyone in town knows it. Maybe Shelby’s boy/girl experiment will help him see women as more than just conquests so he can change his ways and win back his self-respect.

As Aidan and Shelby explore the secret lives of men and women, the heat between them fires up the Fool’s Gold rumor mill. If no one will believe they’re just friends, maybe they should give the gossips something to really talk about!

My Thoughts

*sigh* I realised it’s been a while since I’ve read a sweet romance like this, and boy have I missed them! Could I predict where this story line was going? Yes. Did I care? No. And you know why? Because I loved sharing the journey they took to get there.  I really enjoyed Shelby’s troubled past, it was very authentic because domestic abuse is high. There would be many readers who’d experienced it themselves, or know someone who has gone through it, and can therefore identify. And for a reader, being able to do that brings the story to life.

I found both Shelby and Aiden very likeable characters. There were scenes where I was laughing out aloud.  I loved when Aiden went dog shopping, and when he took Charlie shopping. I loved the newspaper ad idea. I didn’t like the way Shelby carried on about Aiden’s not having sex during their 6 month friendship, I felt like that was unrealistic, therefore it took me out of the story. But putting that aside, overall, I adored this book. Admittedly, it was my first read in the Fool’s Gold Series, so I’ll have to go back and read them all. But I look forward to that!

I rated Best of my Love: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

As the daughter of a meth dealer, Wavy knows not to trust people, not even her own parents. Struggling to raise her little brother, eight-year-old Wavy is the only responsible “adult” around. She finds peace in the starry Midwestern night sky above the fields behind her house. One night everything changes when she witnesses one of her father’s thugs, Kellen, a tattooed ex-con with a heart of gold, wreck his motorcycle. What follows is a powerful and shocking love story between two unlikely people that asks tough questions, reminding us of all the ugly and wonderful things that life has to offer.

My Thoughts

Okay. First things first, the books topic is highly controversial.  You may find that reading this is going to stir up a multitude of feelings. Especially when you come across the first sexual scene with Wavy 13 years, and Kellen 26ish years… It doesn’t matter what way you put it, a sexual/romantic relationship between a child and adult is wrong. Especially a child that has experienced the amount of trauma that Wavy has in this story. And that can most certainly make reviewing this story difficult for some. For me, this is something I deal with through work, study, and research.  I read this story and saw two very broken people who need a lot of therapy.

Now that that’s out of the way, the creation and execution of this story was brilliant.  There was a very authentic feel about the characters.  It did pull you in, it did make you feel, and it certainly made you think about it for days afterwards.  That’s the mark of an excellent story. I always enjoy when chapters are given solely to a character, it enables you to connect on a more personal level with the character. Get to know them, get inside them, get closer to them. For me, that’s why I read: I like to get lost in a book and in the characters world.

So a word or warning, this story is extremely controversial. But it’s also wonderfully crafted, so if you can get past the topic, and appreciate how it’s put together, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Have you already read it? What did you think? Let me know.

I rated All the Ugly and Wonderful Things: 5/5 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: The Courage Tree by Diane Chamberlain #bookblog #bookreview @DianeChamberlain

Blurb

Eight-year-old Sophie Donohue just wanted to be like every other little girl. Which is why her mother, Janine, reluctantly agreed to let her go on the weekend camping trip with her Brownie troop. But when Janine arrives to pick up Sophie after the trip, her daughter is not with the others. Somehow, along the forested route from West Virginia, Sophie has disappeared.

But Sophie is no ordinary eight-year-old. She suffers from a rare disease, and Janine has recently enrolled her in an experimental treatment as a last effort to save her life—despite the vehement objections of her ex-husband, Joe. Without her medication, Sophie cannot survive long. All her mother’s instincts tell Janine that Sophie is alive, but time is running out.

Deep in the Virginia forest, another drama unfolds. Sophie finds refuge in a remote cabin inhabited by Zoe, a woman who wants nothing to do with the child. Zoe is struggling to save her own daughter from the law, and Sophie’s presence jeopardizes any chance of that happening. She is as determined to save her daughter as Janine is to save Sophie…and only one of them can succeed.

My Thoughts

I’ve yet to be disappointed by this author. I think her stories are just wonderful. Always so much emotion and fantastic character development.  I felt like this one is a little unique with its story line as well. I also enjoyed the Zoe story line.  I did initially wonder “what the…” with the prologue and then the first few chapters, however once I understood how it was tied in, it ended up being one of my favourite parts.

I didn’t guess “The Tree House Man” story line, which I thought was great.  I loved how we got to see Joe’s character mature.

Have you read this one?

I rated The Courage Tree: 4/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

 

review: The Book of Dreams by Nina George @SimonSchusterAU #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

Henri Skinner is a hardened ex-war reporter on the run from his past. On his way to see his son, Sam, for the first time in years, Henri steps into the road without looking and collides with oncoming traffic. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where he floats, comatose, between dreams, reliving the fairytales of his childhood and the secrets that made him run away in the first place.
 
After the accident, Sam—a thirteen-year old synesthete with an IQ of 144 and an appetite for science fiction—waits by his father’s bedside every day. There he meets Eddie Tomlin, a woman forced to confront her love for Henri after all these years, and twelve-year old Madelyn Zeidler, a coma patient like Henri and the sole survivor of a traffic accident that killed her family. As these four very different individuals fight—for hope, for patience, for life—they are bound together inextricably, facing the ravages of loss and first love side by side.
 
A revelatory, urgently human story that examines what we consider serious and painful alongside light and whimsy, THE BOOK OF DREAMS is a tender meditation on memory, liminality, and empathy, asking with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives once we are gone.

My Thoughts

What a lovely story, thank you so much to Simon and Schuster for my copy. It’s one of those truly awful accidents and you can’t help but feel emotionally invested in Henri’s story from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed experiencing his coma (yeah that sounds a little weird to say) and it gave me a new appreciation for those who have been in a similar situation.

I loved all the characters. They all brought a unique and special voice to the story, especially henri’s son. The underlying telling of mortality and love was powerful, and stays with you long after you finish this story. I definitively recommend you try this one.

I rated The Book of Dreams: 4/5 stars

Happy Reading

Nat

Review:Look Again by Lisa Scottoline #bookreview #bookblog

Blurb

When reporter Ellen Gleeson gets a “Have You Seen This Child?” flyer in the mail, she almost throws it away. But something about it makes her look again, and her heart stops―the child in the photo is identical to her adopted son, Will. Her every instinct tells her to deny the similarity between the boys, because she knows her adoption was lawful. But she’s a journalist and won’t be able to stop thinking about the photo until she figures out the truth. And she can’t shake the question: if Will rightfully belongs to someone else, should she keep him or give him up? She investigates, uncovering clues no one was meant to discover, and when she digs too deep, she risks losing her own life―and that of the son she loves.

My Thoughts

Unfortunately this one just didn’t grab my attention.  I found it quite difficult to get through until after halfway.  It felt like it dragged a lot, too much background noise.  I couldn’t get close to Ellen, because she annoyed me if I’m honest.  I didn’t come across any twists, anything surprising, I didn’t feel any overwhelming emotions reading it.

Now this isn’t to say the writing wasn’t excellent, because it was.  I just didn’t jel with this one, but you might. Definitely give it a go.

I rated Look Again: 3/4 stars

Happy reading

Nat

Review: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester #bookreview #bookblog @Natasha_Lester @HachetteAUS

Blurb

Manhattan, Paris, 1942: When Jessica May’s successful modelling career is abruptly cut short, she is assigned to the war in Europe as a photojournalist for Vogue. But when she arrives the army men make her life as difficult as possible. Three friendships change that: journalist Martha Gellhorn encourages Jess to bend the rules, paratrooper Dan Hallworth takes her to places to shoot pictures and write stories that matter, and a little girl, Victorine, who has grown up in a field hospital, shows her love. But success comes at a price.

France, 2005: Australian curator D’Arcy Hallworth arrives at a beautiful chateau to manage a famous collection of photographs. What begins as just another job becomes far more disquieting as D’Arcy uncovers the true identity of the mysterious photographer — and realises that she is connected to D’Arcy’s own mother, Victorine.

Crossing a war-torn Europe from Italy to France, The French Photographer is a story of courage, family and forgiveness, by the bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald.

My Thoughts

A book that it so far from my usual reads that I almost didn’t read it. But boy, am I so glad I did. I laughed, cried, ugly cried, and was angered; essentially I did a full circle of emotions because the content called for it.  A story about women’s rights and their experience during WWII which was a time that really focused on the masculinity of men going off to war and woman staying home and tending to the house and children.

Jess’s character was admirable. She was strong, and identifiable.  I loved the vulnerability of Josh and D’Arcy, the walls that were broken given their struggles and the journey of discovery and intimacy that we, the readers, were taken on.  The ability to transport the reader to a different time and place is really an art, not everyone can do it, but Natasha use of description, both emotional and situational, was splendid.  That was the reason I cried. The reason why I felt so enthralled in every characters journey.

It was a story of dedication, passion, strength, and overcoming obstacles to find personal peace. It was inspirational. And it’s disappointing that woman have to fight so hard to be considered equals.

That ending though!

Thank you so much to Hachette AUS for my copy of The French Photographer, I really appreciate it.

I rated The French Photographer: 5/5 Stars

Happy reading,

Nat

Review: Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain #bookreview #bookblog @DianeChamberlain

Blurb

Dr. Olivia Simon is on duty in the emergency room of North Carolina’s Outer Banks Hospital when a gunshot victim is brought in. Midway through the desperate effort to save the young woman’s life, Olivia realizes who she is—Annie O’Neill. The woman Olivia’s husband, Paul, is in love with. 

When Annie dies on the operating table, she leaves behind three other victims. Alec O’Neill, who thought he had the perfect marriage. Paul, whose fixation on Annie is unshakable. And Olivia, who is desperate to understand the woman who destroyed her marriage. 

Now they are left with unanswered questions about who Annie really was. And about the secrets she kept hidden so well.

My Thoughts

Could I love this authors books anymore? Phenomenal story. What I loved about it was that it’s a personally touchy topic for me. I have a pretty strong stance on infidelity and usually that skews my opinion on the story. However, I was so enthralled in the drama and lives, it just meshed with everything.

After the first chapter, you could see that the author was setting the affair scenario up. I was wondering how it was going to get any better. But boy were there some good twists. Wasn’t Paul a complete douche bag. I felt no sympathy or compassion for him at all. A complete snake really. Annie’s character was interesting in that we didn’t even get to actually meet her, but we learned that she’s got a lot more going on than people realise. Alec’s Daughter I had a soft spot on, and I liked how she developed. And old Mary? Well, I was a bit shocked by what she did for Annie.

It was an excellent read, I enjoyed the ease of flow, development and backstories we were given, and the ending wrapped it up nicely.

I rate Keeper of the Light: 5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth #bookreview #bookblog @SallyHepworth

Amazon Blurb

Anna Forster is only thirty-eight years old, but her mind is slowly slipping away from her. Armed only with her keen wit and sharp-eyed determination, she knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. But Anna has a secret: she does not plan on staying. She also knows there’s just one another resident who is her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

Eve Bennett, suddenly thrust into the role of single mother to her bright and vivacious seven-year-old daugher, finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke, she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna’s and Luke’s families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them. Eve has her own secrets, and her own desperate circumstances that raise the stakes even higher.

My Thoughts

A heartbreaking story. It’s a hideous disease Alzheimer’s, let alone getting it as young as Luke and Anna have in this story. I felt like it might have been an authentic storytelling, I teared up a number of times. I just loved the other characters in the care home, and I loved that Eve took her little girl there 🧡

The overall feel of the book was more-ish. I would have loved to have had the time to finish it in one sitting. I feel that story’s like this, pull you in because of their realism. It could happen to any of us, or has happened to any of us. I think that, is always a draw card.

I rated The Things We Keep: 4/5 🌟 🌟🌟🌟

Happy Reading

Nat

Review: Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain #bookreview #bookblog @D_Chamberlain

Blurb

What if you did something so devastating, you regretted it for the rest of your life? Nineteen-year-old Maggie Lockwood spent a year in prison for her part in a fire that cost three lives. The scars carried by the surviving victims – inside and out – are still raw and Maggie’s release from jail does nothing to free her from the guilt. Returning home, Maggie hides herself away, too afraid to see Keith, the boy she grew up with, played with as a child – and recently learnt is her half-brother. Keith nearly lost his life in the fire and the emotional and physical wounds he carries have changed him forever. .With childhood innocence gone, Maggie and Keith must learn to come to terms with their new lives, but trying to move forward will have deadly consequences …

My Thoughts

Well… I LOVED THIS! I didn’t think it was possible to love a story as much I loved this one yet here I am tearing up about it when I finished it, like, four days ago. Oh look, I’ve got goosebumps! LOL. What a wonderful story, the pace and characters so beautifully crafted that I just read and read and never wanted it to stop.  It was quite an interesting scenario, with Maggie going to prison and being released after a year, and Keith being her brother but also a victim from the fire.  One thing that resonated with me was everyone’s emotions. They were so raw and real, so much so that I found myself tearing up, or talking out aloud, or cursing at or with them. It was that easy to lose yourself among the characters. I didn’t care for Sara at all I’m afraid. It goes without saying that Jamie was a twat, not matter how hard he tried to justify himself, but I didn’t care for Sara’s constant manipulation of the situation. She knowingly entered that afraid knowing that he was married, that’s wrong. Period. It added to the story though, and let’s be honest that’s how things happen in real life anyway, so I’m glad it was in there but I do have very strong opinions on that topic.

Jen was a very interesting character in this story.  I knew something was up with here but I couldn’t put my finger on it and I didn’t see the twist coming! I think twists are always expected in thriller/suspense type novels, so much so, that when you read something like this you don’t necessarily expect them. So when you get one, I think it’s the sign of a pretty spectacular, beautifully written, all consuming work of art. I couldn’t recommend this story more.

I rated Secrets She Left Behind: 5/5 stars

Happy Reading!

Nat