Time Will Tell – Rhonda Forrest

Synopsis

Time Will Tell – The eagerly awaited sequel to Two Heartbeats.

When Jess discovered love with Daniel in the tiny outback town of Gowrie, her previous troubled life was cast aside. However, differences in their backgrounds, her doubts about real love and the urge to return and support her twin brother Johnno, forced her to make a decision to leave.

A new home in the small community of Tamborine Mountain provides an opportunity to contemplate how she really feels and what is important. Johnno lives nearby and new friends and a romantic encounter give her a fresh start — but is this what she really wants? And if it isn’t, will Daniel welcome her back with open arms?

The tranquil setting of Tamborine Mountain joins forces with the outback of Queensland to continue the story of Two Heartbeats. Will the decision be taken out of Jess’s hands, pushing her further away, or will her heart lead her to where she will find true happiness?

Time Will Tell – a rural love story, where friendship, romance and hearts entwine.

My review

And just like that… I was swept away. Sitting down and opening the first page of each of Rhonda’s novels is a treat for the mind and soul. I am always drawn in immediately and don’t want to put the books down.

I loved Two Heartbeats and was very excited to read the sequel ‘Time will Tell’. At the end of Two Heartbeats Jess had left Daniel to spend time with her twin brother, Johnno and attempts to find herself. ‘Time Will Tell’ follows the story of Jess as she moves to Tamborine Mountain. For years Jess has been looking after Johnno and getting him out of trouble. She finds it hard to let go of this role she has placed herself in over the years. Jess moves to the mountain and in no time considers whether or not she has left her heart back in Gowrie. She tries to settle into life on the mountain… although is faced with some challenges with her new friend, Antonio and her biological father who comes back into her life. Jess makes friends with Jade and soon encourages her to make the best decision of her life.

Have you ever been left wondering, at the end of a novel, where the characters ended up and almost created your own story for them in your mind? Thanks to ‘Time Will Tell’, the reader’s questions are answered.  Jess is a beautiful character whose past has made her the strong and courageous woman she is. I fell in love all over again with the characters of Gowrie. From dependable and romantic Daniel and kind and thoughtful Hoppy. Rhonda  pieces together the lives of Jess’ family and friends.

Rhonda’s writing provides a sense of peace to the reader. I always feel a sense of calm when reading a Rhonda Forrest novel and Time Will Tell is no exception. Time Will Tell is a feel good story of romance, love, family and what it means to belong.

Second Chance Lane – Nicola Marsh

Synopsis

When the past crashes into the future, there’s more than hearts on the line.

Natasha Trigg leads a simple life in small-town Brockenridge. She works at the roadhouse, has good friends, and at the centre of her world is her daughter, Isla. She knows dumping musician Kody Lansdowne thirteen years ago by misleading him about her pregnancy was best in the long run. She drove him away so he could achieve his dreams but has always felt guilty. When a matchmaking Isla invites a surprise new neighbour to dinner, Tash and Kody come face to face once again…

Now a bona fide rockstar, Kody’s in hiding to sort through the mess his life has become after a concert resulted in devastation. The last thing he needs is discovering he has a child. Especially as it means the one woman he’s never been able to forget is now permanently part of his life. Pity he’s so furious with her…

For Jane Jefferson, who has deliberately fooled townsfolk into believing her reputation is worse than it is for years, a second chance is something she thought she’d never get. Reconnecting with friendships she thought lost forces her to face the question: do past mistakes define you forever?

While navigating the troubled waters of forgiveness, friendship and love, will these three Brockenridge residents discover everyone deserves a second chance?

My review

Second Chance Lane – Nicola Marsh

I am in awe! Nicola Marsh has a way of drawing me in straight away. I did not want to put this one down from the very beginning. From the first page, I was hooked.

The story follows Tash and Jane, alternating between their lives. Tash is a kind-hearted single mum who deceived Kody, her boyfriend 13 years ago about her pregnancy. As a result, Kody followed his dreams and became the rock star he hoped to be. When he arrives in Tash’s town of Brokenridge, Tash realises she must tell him about his daughter, Isla. The mother-daughter dynamic changes and the father-daughter relationship develops beautifully. Kody and Tash’s relationship has challenges that they must face to move forward. I loved reading about them and their connection. They banter and have fun amongst dealing with the biggest changes of their lives.

Jane’s story is a heartfelt one. She has struggled due to her upbringing and the loss of her father. Her relationship with her mother is distant and she is lonely. When Mason enters her life again she makes some personal discoveries and learns to be the best person she can be.

I love the characters of Brokenridge. Their town is closeknit and I loved reading about the characters who I had been introduced to in Long Way Home.

Nicola’s style is fun, humorous, heartfelt and leaves the reader wanting more! I can’t wait for her next book. This is a 5 star read for me and I highly recommend Second Chance Lane.

Thank you @harlequinaus
For sending me a copy of Second Chance Lane.

Close to Home – Janet Gover

Synopsis


Two households, both alike in dignity…

Aunt Alice Dwyer loves her small Australian town. She’s rarely left its comforting embrace. She knows everyone in it; in fact, she’s related to most of them. All she wants is to keep her family safe and the town running exactly the way it always has. Her way. But when an exotic French artist comes to town, her hold begins to weaken…

Lucienne Chevalier, once the toast of Europe, has come to Nyringa after a tragic loss to hang up her sequins and create a place for her circus family to rest between tours. With her is Simon, her grandson, recovering from an injury so damaging he can no longer perform. Lucienne fears he’ll never embrace a new future. That is, until she notices the chemistry between him and the new schoolteacher… All they need is a push.

Both grande dames think they know what’s best, but with equal amounts of stubbornness on both sides, peace looks unlikely. Then a relationship between Alice’s rebellious great-niece and a teenage acrobat sets the two communities on a collision course. But when the bakery starts making patisseries over lamingtons, the battle lines are truly drawn…

My review

Close to Home, by Janet Gover, is set in a small Australian town with a close-knit community. When Lucienne and her grandson Simon arrive the people are excited, apart from Aunt Alice who is not enthusiastic about ‘carnies’ moving in. Lucienne wants to have a property in which her circus family can enjoy in the times when they are not away performing. Aunt Alice is concerned for her family and does not trust the circus performers.

Along with Lucienne and her family, Meg, the new school teacher arrives. Meg has been through a horrific incident in her life, as has Simon and in time they get to know each other. The two romances in the novel kept me on the edge of my seat. The young love between Jenny and Finn is also very sweet. I fell in love with many of the characters in this novel.

The circus comes alive on the pages. I could visualise the characters’ daring acts. Gover returns to the past incident which has torn Lucienne and Simon’s world apart. These moments are terrifying, emotional and heartfelt.

I also loved the carousel that Simon works on. I wanted to ride on it myself. Sometimes there is something in a novel that binds characters together along with the reader. This was it for me. As Simon and Meg work on the carousel they begin to understand each other. Carousels rotate on a centre pole. The carousel soon becomes a symbol of the town. Although the characters are spinning in their own worlds they are connected by the love of the town. When needed the townspeople are there for one another.
Lucienne brings a lot more than French pastries to this town. Her presence challenges and changes this small town community in ways they had never imagined. I love Lucienne – her elegance and big heart.

This is a story about relationships and the tender care we must give one another and ourselves when we grieve and are suffering. Janet Gover is an author who brings the reader close to her characters. What a beautiful story and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

Thank you @harlequinaus for sending me a copy of Close to Home ♥

#janetgover #closetohome #bookreview #bookrecommendations #bookreviewer #bookblogger #chapterichi #bookstagrammers #australia

Snowy Mountains Daughter – Alissa Callen

Synopsis

Welcome to Bundilla. A new close-knit community where romance can blossom. A compelling story of homecoming and family secrets from bestselling Australian author Alissa Callen.

The road home isn’t for the faint-hearted…

Peony flower farmer Clancy Parker was born and bred in the Australian high country. Small-town Bundilla is the only place she will ever truly belong, even if staying means remaining alone. The man she’d loved is long gone and single men are as rare as a summer snowfall.

As soon as he could, street artist Heath MacBride escaped his complicated family and traded mountain peaks for city concrete. Now a commission to paint a mural on Bundilla’s water tower brings him home. It doesn’t matter how long he’s been away, the animosity of his cattleman father hasn’t waned. As soon as the water tower is painted, he will be gone.

But between steadfast Clancy, who’d once been his muse, a free-spirited kelpie who becomes his shadow and a corrosive family secret, his best laid plans disintegrate. When life again backs him into a corner, will he have no choice but to leave or will he and Clancy have the second chance they’d each thought would forever remain out of reach?

My review

Are you looking for a romance novel you can snuggle up with and read?

Snowy Mountains Daughter is the first in the series set in the small town of Bundilla. The story follows Clancy, peony flower farmer and the man she has always loved, Heath MacBride. Clancy is mourning the loss of her parents and living in a supportive small town. Bundilla is where she belongs. I fell in love with the town. I could picture the beauty of the countryside and wide open spaces. In her acknowledgments Alissa Cullen comments that she hopes that readers will ‘smell the mountain wildflowers and hear the thunder of brumby hooves.’ I certainly did. Flowers have so much meaning. The fragrance of the peonies stuck with me throughout the story. I had these fluffy, beautiful flowers in my own wedding posy, so this added to the romance of it all. Flowers, art, romance and a small town. It all worked together to create a novel that I enjoyed with some tea whilst sitting in my comfiest chair.

The romance that started to blossom between Clancy and Heath years ago was never explored. When Heath comes home to Bundilla to paint a mural in the town’s water tower he reconnects with his family and his friendship with Clancy. The story explores the struggles between family members, the importance of loving oneanother and identity within the family. Clancy and Heath are both easy chatacters to love and loved by the townsfolk.

A small town romance with interesting characters. I would recommend Snowy Mountains Daughter and am looking forward to reading more in the series. Alissa Callen’s writing is atmospheric and touching.

From Far and Wide – Telma Rocha

Synopsis

Five missed calls from her ex-husband the day after he picked up their daughter. Clairah is desperate to get to Manitoulin Island, but the next ferry doesn’t leave for hours. She’s stranded on the mainland with the clothes on her back and no charger. Her ears ringing from the call with John’s new girlfriend. Clairah’s mind turns as it often does to Adam, who should be eleven years old, but isn’t.

Adam spends his afterlife doing everything he can to nudge his splintered family together. Not an easy feat when his parents and big sister can’t see or hear him. When they hurt the most, Clairah, John and Ameleiah can feel Adam’s presence, but in order to heal they have to find a way to listen to him: to the cries of their broken hearts that beat in place of his.

My review

From Far and Wide is a compelling story of loss, pain, grief, relationships and the love of a family. Telma Rocha’s novel allows the reader to feel what this family has felt; the continuous heartwrenching pain of losing a son, the guilt, blame and brokenness this family feels. Loss feels unbearable. Rocha takes us on an emotional journey of the heart.

Clairah lives with her daughter, Ameliah. Ameliah spends the school holidays with her father, John. At the beginning of the school holidays Ameliah is in an accident and Clairah must face her ex husband. As Clairah attempts to catch the next ferry to Manitoulin island she is scared and alone, thinking of her son, Adam who passed away and worrying for her daughter’s situation in hospital. Adam is not far from his family. When one loses a loved one, depending on our beliefs, we may wonder whether they are near us still and a part of us. This novel has multiple narrators, who tell the story beautifully from different perspectives. One of those narrators is Adam. Adam attempts to help his family to mend their broken hearts as he stands beside them in the afterlife.

From Far and Wide pulled at my heartstrings. As a parent, my children mean the world to me. Reading this story of a family who lost their child had me in tears. Rocha’s novel made me laugh, cry and love the characters. Clairah is a loving mum whose heart is broken. Rocha writes with care and sensitivity. As someone who feels the heartbreak of loss and grief, this book is a beautiful reminder of the hope and faith I hold on to. Hope and Faith that our loved ones who have passed are here with us when we need them most and hope that God will embrace our loved ones in Heaven. That presence felt in this book is real. I have felt that presence personally and felt dreams so real I know that I have had a visit from Heaven.

Thank you Telma Rocha for writing a novel that will hold a special place in my heart. I would highly recommend this novel. It is a book that I did not want to put down. Family is everything. From Far and Wide takes us on a twisting path towards the importance of family with all of the roadblocks that are placed in their way. What a beautiful family, what a beautiful story.

Thank you Telma for sending me a copy of your beautiful novel in exchange for my honest review

Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens

Have you read a book that completely lived up to its hype?

Thank you so much to Shelley, a beautiful friend who I met in Korea for gifting me this book. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens was the best fiction novel I could have read to start 2021. The writing is poetic and I was drawn in by her style instantly. The poetry throughout added to the vivid descriptions of the marshlands.

Kya, a young girl living in the marshlands of the North Carolina Coast, for a time lives with her siblings, mum and dad. The story follows Kya’s life as she deals with loss after loss, loneliness and isolation, all whilst trying to survive as a child on her own. The place in which Kya lives has a whole community whose prejudice stops them from loving their neighbours… Kya is teased for living in the marshlands and soon becomes ‘The Marsh Girl’. Others her age do not accept her for who she is.

Kya is intelligent and determined. She learns to read and write from Tate, a young boy who is about to go to college. Her love for the land around her is inspirational and her ability to live the best life she can considering the violence she has experienced in the past.

Kya’s story is emotional in every way. As a reader, my hope for her happiness and peace within herself continued throughout the entire novel. This is one to read! If you haven’t yet, I would highly recommend that you do.

#wherethecrawdadssing #deliaowens #newyorktimesbestseller #bookstagram #aussiebookstagrammer #bookrecommendations #bookblogger #bookreviewer #bookreview #chapterichi

A Grief Observed – C S Lewis

Synopsis

Written with love, humility, and faith, this brief but poignant volume was first published in 1961 and concerns the death of C. S. Lewis’s wife, the American-born poet Joy Davidman. In her introduction to this new edition, Madeleine L’Engle writes: “I am grateful to Lewis for having the courage to yell, to doubt, to kick at God in angry violence. This is a part of a healthy grief which is not often encouraged. It is helpful indeed that C. S. Lewis, who has been such a successful apologist for Christianity, should have the courage to admit doubt about what he has so superbly proclaimed. It gives us permission to admit our own doubts, our own angers and anguishes, and to know that they are part of the soul’s growth.”

Written in longhand in notebooks that Lewis found in his home, A Grief Observed probes the “mad midnight moments” of Lewis’s mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God. Indecision and self-pity assailed Lewis. “We are under the harrow and can’t escape,” he writes. “I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace.” Writing A Grief Observed as “a defense against total collapse, a safety valve,” he came to recognize that “bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.”

Lewis writes his statement of faith with precision, humor, and grace. Yet neither is Lewis reluctant to confess his continuing doubts and his awareness of his own human frailty. This is precisely the quality which suggests that A Grief Observed may become “among the great devotional books of our age.” 

My Review

This is not a book I would have picked up prior to losing my mum and father-in-law over a year ago. I have read C.S Lewis’ Narnia series, however, would not have expected to read this one. ‘A Grief Observed’ follows C.S. Lewis’ heartbreak and the process of grief. It is intelligently written and the way in which he words his experiences felt like a blanket; a blanket that I could snuggle up under and feel comfort in knowing I am not alone. His experiences of grief and questions are what I have asked. He is a man of faith and although he asks questions as to why, he does not question God’s presence.

In my grief, I found God…. or God helped me to find him! My heartbreak and sorrow, along with my family and friends’ heartbreak and sorrow was overwhelming and suffocating. The feelings that C.S Lewis journals about are real and I can unfortunately relate to them. C.S Lewis states that grief ‘feels like fear’. He comments that grief ‘feels like an invisible blanket, between the world and me.’ This small book is a powerful read that is not what I expected. It is honest and is a journal of his feelings at the loss of his wife. An intelligent and spiritual man who is dealing with loss and although we expect death, we are never prepared for it to enter our world in such a way when we lose someone close to us.

C.S. Lewis’ journal travels through his thought process and feelings, questioning God, others and life itself. He comes to a realisation, that he ‘can’t see anything properly while your eyes are blurred with tears.’ He confirms the need to feel what we feel and to express it. His comment on what we miss if we grieve day and night. He discovered that ‘passionate grief does not link us with the dead, but cuts us off from them.’ He refers to the time when he has felt her presence in his happiness. ‘Tje less I mourn her the nearer I seem to her.’ I have experienced this. The times when my heart aches so much for my mum that I feel it so strongly and I have to remind myself to breathe, I don’t have those moments that make me realise my mum is closer than I realise… I have had moments that are unexplained. I have smelt her perfume at home when I was going about my day. I smelt it again when I was in church listening to a sermon that touched my heart. I have had a dream that felt so real, that I felt I was touching my mum’s hand. There are more of these moments I have not shared here…In my heart I feel that my mum is visiting from Heaven.

C.S. Lewis describes sorrow as a process. ‘It needs not a map but a history…’ ‘Grief is a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I’ve already noted, not every bend does… ‘

This book is one which when I read it, I highlighted what spoke to me. My hope when I picked up this book was that it would give me a quick fix to my pain. It didn’t. Instead it has given me comfort, hope and a confirmation of what I had already known. As I re-read parts of it, I realise the power of this book. It is a poetic, tragic, emotional and hopeful journey into C.S. Lewis’ heart. Faith is his answer.

My beautiful mum

The Cartographer’s Secret – Tea Cooper

Synopsis

1880 The Hunter Valley

Evie Ludgrove loves to map the landscape around her home – hardly surprising since she grew up in the shadow of her father’s obsession with the great Australian explorer Dr Ludwig Leichhardt. So when an advertisement appears in The Bulletin magazine offering a one thousand pound reward for proof of where Leichhardt met his fate, Evie is determined to figure it out – after all, there are clues in her father’s papers and in the archives of The Royal Geographical Society. But when Evie sets out to prove her theory she vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that taints everyone’s lives for 30 years.

1911

When Letitia Rawlings arrives at the family estate in her Model T Ford, her purpose is to inform her Great Aunt Olivia of a bereavement. But Letitia is also escaping her own problems – her brother’s sudden death, her mother’s scheming and her own dissatisfaction with the life planned out for her. So when Letitia discovers a beautifully illustrated map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove, her curiosity is aroused and she sets out to discover the truth of Evie’s disappearance.

But all is not as it seems at Yellow Rock estate and as events unfold, Letitia begins to realise that solving the mystery of her family’s past could offer as much peril as redemption. 

My review

The Cartographer’s Secret is a beautiful balance between historical fact and fiction. Tea Cooper is a mastermind of Australian historical fiction.

This dual timeline novel follows the story of the Ludgrove and Maynard families. Evie Ludgrove is inspired by her father to solve the mystery of Dr Ludwig Leichhardt, the great Australian explorer. As she grows up, Evie’s father tells her past stories of his own adventures and that of Dr Leichhardt. He also encourages her to create maps reflecting Dr Leichhardt’s adventures. Evie and her father are close and share this common interest. Evie soon realises that the family is in financial difficulty and as such heads out to solve the mystery of Dr Leichhardt in order to claim the reward being offered. Evie vanishes and the family have no idea of her whereabouts…

In 1911 Letitia Rawlings sets out to meet her Great Aunt Olivia, who was looking after Evie at the time she disappeared. Letitia uncovers her Aunt Evie’s detailed maps and sets out to find out how Evie vanished. The family have experienced loss, love, heartache and tragedy. In finding out the mystery of Evie, Letitia uncovers the reasons for disconnection between her family members, in particular her mother and Aunt Olivia. From the outset of the novel, I connected with the characters. Letita is an interesting protagonist and her thoughts and feelings are shared with the reader in such a way that we can feel her pain, heartache and grief upon losing her brother.

The Hunter Valley setting is perfect. Tea Cooper’s research and knowledge of the area is translated through the pages. As a local, myself, I learnt significant historical facts and enjoyed the descriptions of the land. The atmosphere of the Australian bushland and nature described is magical. I felt like I was back home in an instant. I could feel the ‘warm sunshine’ on my back, see the ‘wildflowers’ and ‘butterflies’ and smell the fresh Australian air.

The Cartographer’s Secret was an enjoyable and intriguing read and I would highly recommend this novel. Tea Cooper had me on the edge of my seat trying to solve her mystery. If you love Australian historical fiction, Tea Cooper’s novels are a must!

Thank you Harlequin Australia for sending me a copy of The Cartographer’s Secret in exchange for my honest review.

The Family Inheritance – Tricia Stringer

Synopsis
A toxic will plays havoc in the lives of three generations of women when they discover they have been living a lie. A keenly observed story of the danger of secrets, the legacy of betrayal and the power of family from a bestselling Australian author.

Sometimes an ending is really a beginning …

Felicity Lewis’s fiftieth birthday party in her newly renovated home, loving husband and daughter Greta by her side, is going off with a bang when disaster strikes. Her father, Franklyn, with his usual impeccable timing, has keeled over and died.

For some members of the family, his wife Hazel for example, Franklyn’s death is not the great loss it first appears to be. But when his toxic and inexplicable will is read out, it becomes clear that long-buried secrets are about to surface, starting with the astonishing reappearance of Hazel’s long-lost sister.

Indeed, Franklyn’s death sets in motion a chain of events that will cause three generations of Gifford family women to question everything they hold dear – their relationships, their loyalties, even their identities. Until, that is, they choose to fight back against their dark inheritance …

A clever, sympathetic and thought-provoking look at how a legacy of lies can seep through the generations and poison all it touches, and how the truth can set you free.

My Review

Tricia Stringer is a master of family drama. The Family Inheritance follows the story of Felicity, her daughter, Greta and mum, Hazel. Felicity’s world is turned upside down in an instant. It begins with her father, Franklyn, passing away on her fiftieth birthday celebration. Upon his passing and when the will is read the family are left with a number of questions about their lives. They question who they are and the bonds of their family life.

Tricia Stringer’s characters are well developed and I enjoyed getting to know them. I wanted to continue reading about the lives of this family long after finishing the story. I took my time to read this beautifully crafted novel and thoroughly enjoyed every moment.

The story brings important issues to the surface that this family must examine. Here is a family who learn a about the secrets kept throughout the three generations. These secrets to uncover in turn teach each character about themselves, how to love and how to trust.

If you enjoyed the TV show Brothers and Sisters, you will love Tricia Stringer’s The Family Inheritance and The Model Wife too. Tricia Stringer expertly explores family values, dynamics and the meaning of love. This is a thought provoking and heart wrenching story. I highly recommend this novel. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Thank you @harlequinaus
for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

The Book of Hidden Wonders – Polly Crosby

Synopsis
Romilly Kemp and her eccentric father have happy but sheltered lives in a ramshackle mansion in the English countryside. To help make ends meet, he creates an illustrated book with Romilly—striking girl with red hair and a mole on her cheek—as the heroine with her cat, Monty. The book becomes an instant success and their estate is overrun with tourists and adventure seekers after rumors spread that hidden within its pages is an elaborate treasure hunt.

As Romilly gets older and her father writes more books, he starts disappearing within himself. She returns to his illustrations, looking for a way to connect with her ailing father, and finds a series of clues he’s left just for her. But this treasure hunt doesn’t lead her to gold or precious stones, but something worth far more—a shocking secret that is crucial to understanding her family.

My review

The story is of Romilly Kemp, who lives with her father in a mansion in England. Polly Crosby’s writing style is interesting and although appears to follow Romilly’s life, the feeling of the narrative as a whole becomes clear as we learn more about Romilly’s father and what he is experiencing. The story is symbolic of his mind. I felt an overwhelming sadness and frustration as to the characters and their lives.

Romilly becomes the protagonist in her father’s book and it becomes a hit. Readers are convinced there are answers to buried treasure within the pages. As a result of fans of the book visiting their house, Romilly doesn’t leave the house often. Her life is simple and becomes more complex as time goes on.

The secrets hidden in the story kept me reading until the end. Although, I found it a challenging read due to the lack of events within and the overall melancholy mood of the entire novel. I appreciated the storyline, the emotional impact and how her father’s condition was portrayed.

⭐⭐⭐.5