Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

Title: The Hidden Hours
Author: Sara Foster
Publisher: 1 April 2017 by Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: mystery, thriller
My Rating: 4 crowns

Synopsis:

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.

My Thoughts

This is not generally a genre I delve into often, however, given how much I enjoyed, ‘All That is Lost Between Us’, I was ready to give it a go. This latest instalment, ‘The Hidden Hours’ , is another great thriller by Aussie author Sara Foster, filled with tragedy, trauma, loads of emotional intensity and great sadness. It’s a classic "who done it", that will keep you reading to the very end, as gradually the layers are pulled apart and the full story revealed.

‘Her world is beginning to unravel, pulling at the threads that bind the husk of her nine-year-old self, exposing the cruel edges of all that the years have failed to smother.’

Eleanor has suffered some tragic event that you are never really sure about (until the end). However the chapters alternate with present and past, and gradually reveal the trauma that she carries with her into adulthood. She is deeply troubled and, at times, it became a little repetitive and mopey  - I wanted things to move a little faster. You understand how she has trouble trusting but she is very indecisive and so easily manipulated at times. All part of her character trait, I understand, but just a little slow at times as the author tries to demonstrate such loneliness and utter despair.

‘Yet it has reminded her of how multi-faceted people are –constantly choosing which of their many sides to turn to the light. Perhaps it’s not something to be so wary of; perhaps it’s just a way of getting through life. Is self-protection really such a bad thing?’

The tale certainly gains momentum the further into it you get, with the mystery of Eleanor’s past and her current predicament, full of enough intrigue to keep you guessing. The little touches I really appreciated was Sara’s inclusion of small snippets from a variety of viewpoints at the beginning of each chapter - that was well done. So whilst I loved Sara’s previous book, this one was good but not quite up to the same standard. Still I am interested to see with what she comes up with next and will take the plunge into this genre most certainly one more time - a testament to good writing and story making.

‘She daren’t look around in case she catches someone’s eye, because in that moment of connection, when their eyes lock, it is as though she cannot shutter the window to her soul, and they might peer in and see everything she most wants to hide.’



This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Monday, April 17, 2017

Her Mother's Secret by Natasha Lester

Title: Her Mother’s Secret
Author: Natasha Lester
Publisher: 28 March 2017 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 368 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, romance, historical fiction
My Rating: 5 crowns

Synopsis:

A sweeping story of love and ambition from England to the Manhattan of the 1920s and 1940s by the author of A KISS FROM MR FITZGERALD

1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora's life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father's chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father's life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she's a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous.

1939, New York City. Everett's daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalized like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it?


My Thoughts

Last year I read ‘A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald’ by Natasha and just loved it. Therefore I had been greatly anticipating the release of ‘Her Mother’s Secret’ for many months - could it possibly live up to the same standards? Well, I am here to tell you that indeed it does! Natasha’s novel, without doubt, firmly places her at the forefront of Australian historical literature. I adored this book, whipping through it in record time.

Right from the beginning this tale will capture you, placing you under a spell until completion. It’s difficult to review as you simply don’t want to give anything away. Yet truly this tale has a little something for everyone: a sweeping saga from post World War I to World War II, where you will find friendship, love, intrigue, mystery and plenty of drama.

‘Denial was the only option. Because to move past denial meant asking a question that was at once so irresistible and so catastrophic that Leo couldn’t begin to contemplate it.’

What becomes apparent right from the outset is the depth of research undertaken by Natasha, especially concerning the cosmetics industry. Also included is the specified gender roles of the time, the impact of war on industry, glorious fashion and most importantly, the role of women in this new world order - strong, ambitious and determined women trying to make a place for themselves outside of the traditional home.

‘To battle the barbarism of dancing, flirting and lipstick. I see men hit their wives or their children almost every day down by the tenements and nobody blinks an eye. But a woman dares to rouge her cheeks and they cry out for guns to defeat her.’

Just as in ‘A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald’, Natasha demonstrates a real talent in presenting characters that you feel you know. You become a part of the story and take each step along their journey. There will be ones you admire like Leo and ones you love to hate like Faye. Character development is so rich, that the array of supporting characters, (crucial to the development of this story) like Ben and Faye, will develop to the point where you will come to not only understand, but accept and in the end, sympathise with.

I believe this book cements Natasha at the forefront of historical fiction with meticulous research, endearing characters involved in a mystery set against the backdrop of between world wars. I cannot recommend it highly enough and can’t wait to see what Natasha comes up with next.

‘...unable to stop the tears from falling, feeling at last defended, like a single musical note that had finally found the symphony to which it belonged.’




This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release