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Cloggie Downunder (Australia)
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A Willing Wife (Fortune's Heirs)
A Willing Wife (Fortune's Heirs)
by Jackie Merritt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Merritt at her best., 27 April 2015
A Willing Wife, by American author, Jackie Merritt, is the fourth book in The Fortunes of Texas series. Maggie Perez is happy with her life; divorced from a husband she didn’t love but living in Phoenix with the joy of her life, her little son, Travis. Then she loses her job and has to move back to her parents’ home, on the Fortune Ranch. When widower, Dallas Fortune sees Maggie, he is immediately attracted, and makes it plain to her. But despite her attraction, and the kindness Dallas shows her son, Maggie is determined to reject all advances from this rich rancher used to getting his way: he’s way out of her league, and only after one thing, anyway. A sweet, sexy romance between two feisty characters, this book also continues with the ongoing dramas of the Fortunes: the kidnapped baby, the acrimonious divorce, the mystery baby and the impending marriage. Readers not following the series need only ignore these parts to enjoy a romance with appealing characters and some snappy dialogue. Merritt at her best. 3.5 stars


The Good Daughter
The Good Daughter
by Honey Brown
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling read, 26 April 2015
This review is from: The Good Daughter (Paperback)
The Good Daughter is the second novel by Australian author, Honey Brown and was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Barbara Jefferis Award in 2011. When Joanne Kincaid, the wife of a wealthy farmer in the outback Victorian town of Kiona disappears, the last person to see her is sixteen-year-old Rebecca Toyer, step-daughter of a long-distance truck-driver. The budding attraction between Joanne’s son, Zach, and Rebecca, is pushed aside when the disappearance slings Rebecca into the seductive orbit of Aden Claas, the local drug dealer, and his more dangerous mate, Nigel Fairbanks.

Rebecca soon finds herself barely escaping the dangerous situations into which Aden callously drops her, while Zach’s resentment sees him resorting to the use of a rifle. As the tension of the situation escalates, Rebecca is misled by lies and half-truths, and finds that her misplaced trust and naiveté threaten to ruin a reputation already teetering.

Brown gives the reader a gripping plot with plenty of twists and red herrings, and wraps it in evocative prose. As the story unfolds, the reader will suspect and discard numerous characters and possible motives for Joanne’s disappearance. Brown’s characters are believable and their dialogue, credible. The feel of the country town is skilfully conveyed, and Brown expertly builds up anxiety for her protagonist in a dangerous and unsettling scenario. A compelling read.


The Little Paris Bookshop
The Little Paris Bookshop
by Nina George
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, moving and uplifting, 23 April 2015
“To carry them within us – that is our task. We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves. Only they make us whole. If we begin to forget or cast aside those who we’ve lost, then … then we are no longer present either”

The Little Paris Bookshop is the seventh book by German journalist, teacher and author, Nina George (written under that name). Jean Perdu is fifty years old. He lives in an apartment building with an interesting (and often eccentric) collection of other tenants, a place where “The snatches of life that could be overheard in the house at number 27 Rue Montagnard were like a sea lapping the shores of Perdu’s silent isle”.

Perdu is the owner of The Literary Apothecary, a book barge on the River Seine in Paris. His customers (or perhaps they are patients) benefit from his unique skills, his extraordinary insight and intuition, in dispensing just the right literary remedy for “countless, undefined afflictions of the soul”. He advises one: “With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chère Madame”

But the arrival of a new tenant, the heart-broken Catherine, sets in motion a train of events that see Perdu opening a room in his apartment (and in his heart) that has been sealed for twenty-one years. Soon after, the contents of a hitherto unopened letter are the impetus for great changes: Perdu abruptly unmoors his barge and sets off, completely unprepared, down the Seine towards Provence, to face what he has been denying for such a long time. He is accompanied by a publicity-shy novelist, two cats (Kafka and Lindgren) and later a lovelorn Italian and an impulsive book guild chairwoman.

Perdu’s narrative is supplemented by entries in Manon’s Travel Diary and letters or cards that Jean writes to Catherine back in Paris. As the story unfolds, Perdu shares proposed entries for his “Great Encyclopedia of Small Emotions” as well as some profound observations on human nature: “The trouble is that so many people, most of them women, think they have to have a perfect body to be loved. But all it has to do is be capable of loving – and being loved”; and quite a lot of words of wisdom: “Memories are like wolves. You can’t lock them away and hope they leave you alone” being one example.

In this best-selling novel, George touches on love and heartbreak, grief and denial, and the importance of friends. She wraps her heart-warming and uplifting tale in some truly gorgeous descriptive prose: “The Milky Way was a streak of light, a vapour trail of planets overhead. The silence was almost overpowering, and the blue depths of the night sky seemed to suck them in” and “It is different every day, and the gulls screech like little kids on stormy days and like heralds of glory on sunny ones. ‘Fine! Fine! Fine! they call” and “Sometimes you’re swimming in unwept tears and you’ll go under if you store them up inside” are just a few.

Her characters are appealing, her plot takes a few twists and there are even small mysteries and tiny moments of suspense. Readers who enjoyed The Collected Works of A.J. Fikry are very likely to find this novel equally delightful. Flawlessly translated by Simon Pare, it also features a section of delicious-sounding Provencal recipes and Jean Perdu’s Emergency Literary Pharmacy, five pages that are both funny and perceptive. Funny, moving and uplifting.
With thanks to The Reading Room and Hachette for this copy to read and review.


What Daddy Doesn't Know (Mills & Boon Superromance)
What Daddy Doesn't Know (Mills & Boon Superromance)
by Tara Taylor Quinn
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £3.69

3.0 out of 5 stars could lose 100 pages and be better for it, 22 April 2015
What Daddy Doesn’t Know is the ninth book in the Shelter Valley series by Tara Taylor Quinn (although it seems to bear no relation to Shelter Valley at all…). Attorney Juliet McNeil finds herself defending property developer, Blake Ramsden on fraud charges. But Blake doesn’t know that their one-night-stand, nine years ago, produced a daughter, Mary Jane. Taylor Quinn builds her story slowly, (excruciatingly so: this novel could lose 100 pages and be better for it), and all the real action happens in the last fifty pages, with all issues suddenly neatly tied up. The characters do have some depth, although Blake seems too good to be true, and Juliet needs a good shaking at times. 3.5 stars.


Landline (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
Landline (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
by Rainbow Rowell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £21.83

4.0 out of 5 stars a real pleasure to read, 22 April 2015
Landline is the fourth novel by American author, Rainbow Rowell. L.A. TV comedy writer Georgie McCool has been married to Neal Grafton for fifteen years and has two sweet and adorable daughters, Alice and Noomi. But Georgie knows her marriage is broken. They still love each other, but Neal’s not happy, so how can she be? She’s not sure exactly when it broke, but when Neal takes Alice and Noomi home to his parents in Omaha for Christmas, while Georgie stays behind to work, she wonders if it’s the final straw. Especially when Neal doesn’t answer his cell phone.

With her writing going none too well, lonely, concerned about her marriage and with her own cell phone failing, Georgie ends up at her Mom’s place, in her old bedroom, using the big yellow rotary dial phone to ring the landline in Omaha. And then something strange happens. Something that might just give Georgie a change to fix what’s broken…..

As Georgie worries about her relationship, Rowell has her thinking back to how it all started, thus slowly revealing what was so right about Georgie and Neal, and what went wrong later. Rowell’s characters are appealing despite their flaws: the reader may want to shake a bit of sense into Georgie, but luckily she finds it on her own before it is too late. Neal sounds like a husband many women would covet, and Georgie’s family are amusingly eccentric. This novel is moving and uplifting, a real pleasure to read. 4.5 stars


By Kerry Greenwood - Unnatural Habits: A Phryne Fisher Mystery (Phryne Fisher Mysteries) (Lrg)
By Kerry Greenwood - Unnatural Habits: A Phryne Fisher Mystery (Phryne Fisher Mysteries) (Lrg)
by Kerry Greenwood
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars excellent novel,, 22 April 2015
Unnatural Habits is the nineteenth book in the popular Phryne Fisher series by Australian author, Kerry Greenwood. A chance encounter with a young female reporter for The Daily Truth in a laneway leads Phryne Fisher to investigate the disappearance of three pregnant girls and said reporter. Margaret Kettle, better known as Polly, is determined to make her name as a serious journalist and steals a colleague’s story on White Slavery. But her enquiries into the fate of three very pregnant teenagers last seen at a pious widow’s nursing home mark the last sighting of the enthusiastic if somewhat careless reporter.

Her questions in a variety of places have ruffled some feathers, but whose? Someone associated with the Convent of the Good Shepherd and their workhouse-like Magdalen Laundry business? The owners of local brothels or exclusive Gentlemen’s Clubs? Or does her disgruntled colleague have a hand in her disappearance? What does the employment agency, Jobs For All, have to do with it? And just who is going around performing involuntary vasectomies on deserving males?

In this instalment, Phryne makes full use of her daughters (on vacation from school), of Dot, of her new employee, Tink and of her taxi drivers, Bert and Cec. Her minions (as she repeatedly refers to them in this instalment) are put to work on a secret code and other researches as well as taking active parts in the interrogation of witnesses. Phryne adopts an assortment of disguises: a blonde actress, a pregnant girl and a nun, as required by the different strands of the investigation. As well as white slavery, eugenics, virginity tests, kidnapping, slave labour and a female-run fruit-growing collective all feature. With this excellent novel, Greenwood once again proves herself a mistress of historical crime fiction.


Evil in Return
Evil in Return
by Elena Forbes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.39

5.0 out of 5 stars another excellent offering from Elena Forbes, 6 April 2015
This review is from: Evil in Return (Paperback)
Evil In Return is the third book in the Mark Tartaglia series by British author, Elena Forbes. DI Mark Tartaglia and his Barnes Murder Squad investigate a body discovered in the crypt of Brampton Cemetery. The victim has been tortured, killed with a single bullet to the head, and the corpse mutilated. He is identified as Joe Logan, ex-actor, teacher and first-time author of a bestseller, publicity-shy and hiding out on a narrow boat on the Maida Canal. His laptop yields a bizarre email in Gothic script, and the team has difficulty locating one of his most recent phone contacts.

When a second corpse subjected to the same brutal treatment is discovered, the team struggle to connect the victims. Clever detective work eventually reveals other potential victims who confess the dreadful secret they have been hiding for years. But just who is targeting these men, and why? As Forbes skilfully builds her story to its exciting climax, the list of potential suspects in the reader’s mind lengthens: it seems everyone has something to hid, and no-one is telling the complete truth.

With each instalment, Forbes expands her main characters and makes them a bit more human. Both Sam Donovan and Mark Tartaglia make some unwise decisions, reminding us that the police, too, are human and prey to insecurities and failings. This instalment touches on missing persons and again involves some psychological profiling. Evil In Return is another excellent offering from Elena Forbes and readers will look forward to the fourth book in this series, The Jigsaw Man.


Goanna Island Mystery, The (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!)
Goanna Island Mystery, The (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!)
by Dale Harcombe
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Great fun!, 6 April 2015
The Goanna Island Mystery is a book by Australian author, Dale Harcombe, in the Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Read! Read! Read! series. When Mark, the bully at Leo’s new school dares him to cross the sandbar to Goanna Island, he can’t refuse, even though Mark tells him the island is haunted by the ghost of a pirate. Leo sets off to prove he’s not chicken, but is he going to regret his bravado? This mystery, perfect for 5-9 year-olds, involves a scary white face at a window, a secret room, a tunnel and a stolen Tim Tam. It stars a brave and clever boy who is depicted in delightful illustrations by Dillon Naylor. Great fun!


A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars a stunning debut: moving, uplifting and very funny, 4 April 2015
This review is from: A Man Called Ove (Hardcover)
A Man Called Ove is the first novel by Swedish blogger and columnist, Fredrik Backman. At fifty-nine, Ove has definite ideas on how things should be done, on the best car to drive (obviously a Saab), and no patience for those who cannot follow the rules. The son of a hard-working, poor but principled man, Ove, too is hard-working and sticks rigidly to his principles. But now, six months since the death of his beloved wife, Sonja, he is “not dead, but not really living”, and he is no longer hard-working: he has been retrenched. His life without any purpose whatsoever, he matter-of-factly sets out to commit suicide.

His meticulous plans are derailed, time and again: inferior-quality rope; the Cat Annoyance; the Pregnant Foreign Woman who needs a ladder, a lift, a lesson; radiators that need to be properly bled; a bicycle that needs repair; a fainting Suit needing rescue from certain death; a gay man in need of accommodation. Time and again, he finds himself at Sonja’s grave, apologising once more for failing to join her as promised.

The narrative alternates between a three-week period in the present day, and Ove’s life from the age of seven, when his mother died. With his cranky main character, Backman gives the reader social commentary with plenty of chuckles, snickers and laugh-out-loud moments: “In the parking area, Ove sees that imbecile Anders reversing his Audi out of his garage. It has those new, wave-shaped headlights, Ove notes, presumably designed so that no one at night will be able to avoid the insight that here comes a car driven by an utter s***” and “’I almost smashed into that car!’ pants Parvaneh. Ove peers over the edge of the bonnet. And then, suddenly, a sort of calm comes over his face. He turns and nods at her, very matter-of-fact. ‘Doesn’t matter. It’s a Volvo’” exemplify his opinion about non-Saab vehicles. His insults are similarly hilarious: “You shouldn’t even be allowed to rewind a cassette”, he tells The Lanky One.

But Backman gives his characters plenty of words of wisdom too: “Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say” and “We can busy ourselves with living or with dying, Ove. We have to move on” are two examples. There is much humour in this novel, some of it quite black, but there are also moments that will produce a lump in the throat and even tears. Flawlessly translated from Swedish by Henning Koch, this “requested-by-readers” novel is a stunning debut: moving, uplifting and very funny.


Our Lady of Pain
Our Lady of Pain
by Elena Forbes
Edition: Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 2 April 2015
This review is from: Our Lady of Pain (Paperback)
Our Lady of Pain is the second book in the Mark Tartaglia series by British author, Elena Forbes. When a naked body is found in the snow in Holland Park, posed in prayer, a Swinburne poem stuffed in her mouth, DI Mark Tartaglia and his Barnes Murder Squad investigate. On closer examination it transpires that the victim, an attractive, wealthy and well-liked art dealer, had secrets of which even her family and closest friends were unaware. Then a journalist claims a link to a year-old cold case, complicating the investigation even further.

In this instalment, Forbes expands on her two main characters, Tartaglia and DS Sam Donovan, both of whom are appealing, in spite of, or perhaps because of, their flaws. The story features S&M, more than one stalker, and a bit of psychological profiling. This page-turner has a clever plot with a red herring or two, a heart-stopping climax and enough twists that the author should worry about being sued for whiplash injury. A brilliant read.


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