The Words We Lost
Bethany House Publishers
Published 11 April 2023
I absolutely adore the stories Nicole Deese crafts and The Words We Lost was no different. Poignant and strongly emotional, this is a story of loss, grief, long-held grudges and pain and the things that bring people back together.
– Denise Hunter –
Published 6 September 2022
Welcome back to Riverbend. Home of delightful romances and second chances. Harvest Moon might start with a tragedy but it is love, loyalty and commitment that brings the joy in this story. Continue reading
All That’s Left in the World
– Erik J. Brown –
Balzer + Bray
Published 8 March 2022
I’ve been meaning to write and share this review for a while now but I just haven’t been able to put into words just how incredible and amazing and jaw-dropping and additive this book is. It’s also slightly terrifying. And amazing.
Okay, here goes.
Dystopian, queer romance, illness that is wiping out the population. That completely undersells everything that this book is. It is heart and grief and fight and sacrifice. It is love and family and loss. It’s discovery and it’s a book I just loved. So much.
We Were Kings
– Court Stevens –
Published 1 February 2022
I do love a good murder mystery and We Were Kings is a jolly fantastic murder mystery. Despite the elements of modern life (masks, hand sanitiser and YouTube) it has a very classic feel. Maybe it’s just because the mystery is in the past, or maybe it’s the setting and overall feel. Classic mystery at its best.
Nyla has lived her whole life knowing her mother loves the woman sitting in jail more than she loves her. When Frankie’s death is pushed forward thanks to a new death penalty ruling, Nyla’s mother falls apart. When a journalist drops a clue that Nyla’s mother might not be who she has always said she is, Nyla decides to investigate and finds herself in the midst of a murder investigation. If she is going to save Frankie and find the real killer, she’ll need to be quick. But no one wants her poking around, especially not the real killer.
These Deadly Games
– Diana Urban –
Published 1 February 2022
I’m not entirely sure if I am super impressed with this book, super annoyed or impressed that it both intrigued me and annoyed and horrified me at the same time. Can one be so conflicted about a book? I’m going to lay out the good and the annoying.
These Deadly Games is a thriller that leads its main character Chrystal on a wild game that very quickly turns deadly. No end of twists, puzzles, dares and tasks that might seem innocent but quickly turn deadly. This mystery thriller is high stakes and there are some very serious consequences.
For Chrystal, her focus is completely set on winning a spot in her friends’ esports team. The prize money would ensure her family could stay in their home. But when she receives a text with an image of her younger sister tied up with a message – complete the dares or she dies. Chrystal must decide – her sister or her family’s future? Can she do it all and make sure her friends never learn the truth?
Only A Monster
– Vanessa Len –
Published 22 February 2022
Only A Monster is AMAZING!!! Seriously. So good. By the first quarter of the book all but two of the characters we have met have been gloriously, brutally murdered. (Not lying!). It’s dark but funny, placed so well within the world that has been created and yet we get to journey across time. It’s unique and delicious.
Here’s what I loved:
Australia author. Debut (holy wow!!). Paranormal. Monsters (not like strange creature monsters, more like scary people monsters who do bad things). Monster slayers. Time travel. Humour. Star-crossed love. History. An almost love triangle that just doesn’t go there. And did I mention monsters?
Joan spends every summer with her mother’s family in London. She knows they’re a little strange but they’re family. She also loves the time she spends volunteering at the historic Holland House. Doesn’t hurt that her co-worker Nick is gorgeous, charming and, maybe, as into her as she is him. But when she accidentally travels herself a day into the future, Joan realises that her family isn’t just a little strange, they are gifted with the ability to steal time from others and use it to time travel. And that makes them, and her, monsters. And, it turns out that Nick, a legendary monster slayer, will do everything in his power to wipe out monsters for good.
Maybe We’re Electric
– Val Emmich –
Published 21 September 2021
Secrets. The secrets we keep to protect ourselves and the secrets we keep for our family. Maybe We’re Electric is a heartbreaking and romantic novel about finding the balance between speaking out and staying silent.
Covering just one night (plus a bit at the end) Maybe We’re Electric brings Tegan and Mac together. They never would have crossed paths – thinking each other in a different world at their school. But Tegan and Mac have far more in common than they think. When a storm hits, they find themselves together in the Thomas Edison museum. Both are running from their family and themselves. Both know they need to speak up about the secrets they are keeping. Both know the fallout from doing so will have far reaching consequences. Over the course of one night they connect and share more than they expected. But can their blossoming relationship survive the night?
Tegan is a compelling – if unreliable – narrator. As she slowly opens up to Mac, we readers also slowly begin to understand the true depth of what she is running from.
– Denise Hunter –
A Riverbend Romance #1
Published 19 October 2021
I so enjoy reading Denise Hunter’s books. I know once I pick one up, I’ll just disappear into the world and characters she has crafted and I know that I will love every word. And that’s exactly what I got in Riverbend Gap. This book is the first in a new series (yay) that follows a family (yay, yay) living in a small rural town along the Appalachian Trail (more yay). Honestly, between the amazing romance, stunning scenery so beautifully described, the drama and tension and the great writing, I just loved this book.
Katelyn Loveland has a new job, new last name, new boyfriend and a new house. Moving to Riverbend Gap was her new start. But she’s also determined to get some closure from her past. The first step is scattering the ashes of her beloved younger brother. Then, she needs to find her biological mother and learn why she and her brother spent most of their lives in foster care. Not part of the plan was avoiding a deer and almost plunging to her death over the side of a mountain on the way to meet her new boyfriend’s family. When Cooper Robinson, Deputy Sheriff, comes to her rescue, she is relieved and grateful. The tense moments they share forge a deep connection. The only problem is that he is the brother of her new boyfriend. As circumstances through Cooper and Katelyn together again, it’s hard to ignore the deepening feelings between them.
The Whaler’s Daughter – Jerry Mikorenda – Fitzroy Books – Published 24 July 2021
In 1910, twelve-year-old Savannah lives with her widowed father on a whaling station in New South Wales, Australia. For generations, the Dawson family has carried on a very unusual way of life there. They use orcas to help them hunt whales. But Savannah believes the orcas hunted something else—her older brothers, who died mysteriously while fishing. Haunted by their deaths, Savannah wants to become a whaler to prove to her father that she’s good enough to carry on the family legacy and avenge her slain brothers. Meeting an aboriginal boy, Figgie, changes that. Figgie helps Savannah to hone her whaling skills and teaches her about the Law of the Bay. When she is finally able to join the crew, Savannah learns just how dangerous the whole business is. A whale destroys her boat and Savannah sinks into the shark-infested waters. That’s when the mysterious spirit orca Jungay returns to rescue her, and she vows to protect the creatures. That vow tests her mettle when the rapacious owner of a fishing fleet captures the orca pod and plans to slaughter them
The Whaler’s Daughter caught my attention, despite the dull cover, as I knew it was similar to true historical events and I wanted to see how the author would combine history with fiction.
A message of environmental protection, the author does a great job of conveying the historic events and perspectives from an approach that it is relevant for modern readers.
Few might know the story of Eden and the orca’s that worked with whalers in Australia. This story, I hope, will bring that story into the light. While much of the story in The Whaler’s Daughter differs from what is recounted of the events in Eden, there is enough to align the stories.
Along with themes of protecting the environment, caring for and working with animals, The Whaler’s Daughter also raises themes around the roles of women. Savannah is a strong and headstrong character. She knows exactly what she wants and that is to ride in the whaling boats along with her father’s crew. As she fights for her place, she has more encounters with the orcas. She initially fears and hates them, holding them accountable for the death of her family members. But as she gets to know them more, learns of the plans of the nearby towns leaders and gets her first encounter on a whaling boat, Sav must change everything she thought she knew.
When We Were Strangers – Alex Richards – Bloomsbury YA – Published 27 July 2021
Seventeen-year-old Evie Parker is devastated in the wake of her father’s sudden death. But she knows something her mother doesn’t: the day of his heart attack, her dad was planning to move out. After finding his packed bags, an impulsive Evie puts everything away, desperate to spare her mom more heartache.
To make matters worse, Evie soon learns the reason her father was going to leave: he had been dating his twenty-two-year-old receptionist, Bree, who is now six months pregnant. Desperate to distract herself, Evie signs up for a summer photography class where she meets a motley crew of students, including quirky and adorable Declan. Still, Evie can’t stop thinking about her father’s mistress. Armed with a telephoto lens, she caves to her curiosity, and what starts as a little bit of spying on Bree quickly becomes full-blown stalking. And when an emergency forces Evie to help Bree, she learns there’s more to the story than she ever knew…
I am a massive fan of Accidental, so I was eager to pick up the author’s latest novel, When We Are Strangers. Again, Alex Richards delivers a novel that is full of emotional tension.
Evie Parker is distraught to learn of her father’s death. But when she finds his bags packed, ready to leave her and her mum for his pregnant mistress, Evie decides to unpack them and hide the truth from her mother. As she carries the weight of both the secret and her grief, Evie finds herself turned towards photography and entered into a photography course by her uncle. The course and her eclectic classmates give Evie the outlet she needs, but when she happens upon her father’s mistress and begins to capture images of her, Evie learns there is so much she didn’t know and so much she has still to learn.
When We Were Strangers is both gut-wrenching but also uplifting. For all the grief and emotional baggage Evie is carrying, there are moments of light, humour and human connection. I very much enjoyed Evie’s voice. She narrates the story and her teenage-ness just shines through so authentically and uniquely. She is sad, lonely and grieving and that comes through in her words and thoughts. At times she seems whiney or sulky, but that is so perfectly real. She has the right to be snarky and she uses that to the best effect.