The Rules of Conception by Angela Lawrence

Harlequin Enterprises Australia; Published May 1, 2013

Paperback 320 pages

Ebook courtesy of publisher and netgalley

4/5 stars

Rachel Richards is ready to be a mother. She’s got a great job, a good income, a beautiful inner-cityapartment, and a great group of supportive friends. All she needs is a father.
But go-getter Rachel won’t let a little thing like that get in the way of her dreams. After investigating different options to become pregnant, co-parenting, adoption and anonymous sperm donors, Rachel finally settles on a method of conception – using a known donor. Making the decision to choose the biological father for her child, Rachel picks Digby. The single, softly-spoken Canadian with a complicated family background wants to have children, but not have a child.
After a few attempts, Rachel is able to conceive and begins to dream about the kind of life she will create for her and her child. But the well-established foundation for her dream soon begins to develop cracks. Lyndall, her nightmare boss, is becoming even more obsessed with ruining Rachel’s career, a desirable, but undeniably married, colleague is beginning to show inappropriate interest and the stress of her impending new life is starting to take its toll on Rachel’s health.
Now Rachel is beginning to question if she should have followed the rules of conception after all…

Goodreads Blurb

You know how there are those books that you just get sometimes. The ones that seep into your every waking thoughts and make you question some of the things you did and didn’t know? Well, The Rules of Conception was one of those books for me. While it’s true its not exactly a ground breaking novel nor is it likely to win dozen’s of awards, it was a feel good book that I connected with from very early on in the writing. A process helped by the narratives unique feel and new approach to what is consistently a very repetitive market.

At it’s core, and hence the title, The Rules of Conception, is Rachel Richard’s story and hers alone. It’s the story of her desire for a child and the realisation that it might not happen due to reasons outside of her control. After making a deliberate and well thought out decision to have a child alone, Rachel is faced with a number of complications and further decisions. Does she go with a known or unknown donor to get pregnant? Or should she adopt? Does she wish to be a co-parent or is it something she ultimately wants to do on her own? Like all things Rachel puts her mind to, she systematically and logically works her way through these complications and further decisions that arise with a refreshing and modern outlook on what is mostly a taboo subject.

Within minutes of starting this novel, I was immediately drawn to Rachel’s character. She was strong-minded, and in a many ways a free spirit. She was good at her job, had a supportive family who lived close enough to remain in contact with comfortably but far enough away to give her space and peace of mind. Her friends were vibrant and she had a healthy social life. But like all well-rounded characters, Rachel has her flaws too. She sucks at relationships. Having gone from bad relationship to worse, she’s ready to give being single a chance and is thus giving up on waiting for ‘Mr. Right’ to waltz into her life. And yet, Rachel is lonely. She longs for a steady and successful relationship like those flaunted before her. To overcome this sense of ‘other’ Rachel throws herself into her work, but she’s being bullied by her boss and coupled with everything else that’s going on in her life, her self confidence is taking a massive hit. Don’t get me wrong; Rachel is not a whining character. She’s strong willed and she learns to take a stand. In fact one of the things that kept my head stuck so firmly in this book was the way in which Lawrence builds up her character and develops her into the mother figure at the end of the book. You can’t help but cheer her on in her quest.

What surprised me most about this narrative was the unbiased and well-rounded nature of the narrative itself. Given the focus on such a taboo topic, it would have been all too easy for Lawrence to have simply presented her take on the Motherhood/Family-Unit debate and left it at that. Thankfully that’s not the path Lawrence has taken here and the novel reads all the better because of this. Through the use of characterisation, Lawrence has presented the reader with various cross-sections of society and given them all an equal voice on the subject, thus resulting in authentic modern outlook on society and the issue as a whole. For example: Patrick (Rachel’s boss) toes the line on traditional expectations and assumptions of family, parenthood and expectations of mothers and is thus closed minded to untraditional methods; Lyndall (Rachel’s manager) is a career minded women with no children; Digby (the donor) who wants to father children but not necessarily have them; Annabell (Rachel’s collegue and close friend) represents the younger generation who are more open minded as whole to the issue of conception, but isn’t ready to have children of her own yet; and lastly there are a number of minor gay characters who express their desires to have children and are looking to share a child with someone or have a surrogate pregnancy via a third party. Rachel’s friends have children through traditional avenues (i.e. married partners falling pregnant naturally) while other friends have gone through IVF. Every avenue is explored and given a voice and I found these aspects made the narrative all that more compelling and authentic as they helped to firmly place Rachel’s story within my everyday world as I know many people with these exact traits themselves.

My biggest regret with this book is perhaps its end. While it does end on a high, and with Rachel’s baby being born (this is not a spoiler, look at the name), there is no indication of how Rachel will ultimately overcome some of her now biggest obstacles. After having been enthralled by the idea and engaged by the character I was a bit disappointed to learn we were being left out of some of these insights towards the end, especially when one considers just how intimate the book is (we are talking about all the nitty gritty, hormonal good and bad aspects of pregnancy and its many facets including the not so nice side of work and alternate positions). Personally I wanted to know how she was going to explain everything to her child later on in life. What Diby’s role in the raising the child would be since they spent a fair bit of time emphasising that while it was Rachel’s choice to how big of a part Digby would play, they were essentially going to play it by ear. What’s more, I wanted to know how she was going to embrace motherhood as a whole? Would she cope? Was she still happy with her decision six months, a year, ten years down the track? Would she have done it differently if she had another chance? While the realistic reader in me knows that the title sets up the book so that it is simply ins and outs of the so-called ‘socially acceptable’ methods of conception, and while I’m okay with that another large part of me wanted to know more. That side is secretly hoping that Lawrence decides to write a possible sequel down the track.

 Rules of Conception is a compelling narrative that is both humorous and serious at the same time for although it is a very modern look at our everyday lives and expectations, it also takes on a rather taboo and traditional mode of lifestyle and turns it on its head, opening the readers eyes and minds to a new position that is considered to be somewhat alternative and extreme. It’s this unique and modern look that really captures the essence of the novel and makes the narrative both striking and addictive, a point further enhanced by how well crafted and presented the narrative is as a whole. .

Overall this book is well written, engaging and such a compelling read that you will want to start reading it as soon as you get your hands on a copy. That said however, when you start reading make sure you leave your self a small window of time to finish the book because once it starts you won’t want to leave the somewhat unconventional ride.

This book was read as part of my Australia Women Writers Challenge 2013

Hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey

I’ve been busy attending the SYDNEY WRITERS FESTIVAl this past week and having a blast listening to all the various authors talk.  However my TBR pile hates the festival because of the fifty or so books that got added over the past two days; I better start reading quicker than hey?!

What I read last week:

Saving Wishes by G.J. Smith

Over the Edge by Suzanne Carroll

The Reluctant Wag by Mary Costello

What I Plan To Read This Week:

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

When sheltered American good girl Allyson “LuLu” Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini

After accidentally unleashing the gods from their captivity on Olympus, Helen must find a way to re-imprison them without starting a devastating war. But the gods are angry, and their thirst for blood already has a body count.

To make matters worse, the Oracle reveals that a diabolical Tyrant is lurking among them, which drives a wedge between the once-solid group of friends. As the gods use the Scions against one another, Lucas’s life hangs in the balance. Still unsure whether she loves him or Orion, Helen is forced to make a terrifying decision, for war is coming to her shores.

In Josephine Angelini’s compelling conclusion to the masterfully woven Starcrossed trilogy, a goddess must rise above it all to change a destiny that’s been written in the stars. With worlds built just as fast as they crumble, love and war collide in an all-out battle that will leave no question unanswered and no heart untouched.

Hosted by Magan & Estelle @ Rather Be Reading

With the blog having been down for the past few weeks due to server issues this edition of ‘Shelve it!’ is a lot bigger than normal! It helps too that more recently I happened to have won 12 books in one go via a fb/twitter giveaway by the authors :)

Purchased (In Print)

Goddess by Josephine Angeilini

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Purchased (Ebook)

Second Harts (The Wishes Series #2) by G.J.Walker-Smith

Woman at Willagong Creek by Jessica Hart

The Goodbye Ride by Lily Malone

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

Won from the Author

Fractured by Dawn Barker

Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot: A Novel by Annabel Smith

What is Left Over After by Natasha Lester

If I Should Lose You by Natasha Lester

Shallow Breath by Sara Foster

Come Back To Me by Sara Foster

Beneath The Shadow by Sara Foster

How To Be A Good Wife by Emma Chapman

The Sinkings by Amanda Curtin

Inherited by Amanda Curtin

Elemental by Amanda Curtin

In Print From Publisher

Good For You by Tammara Webber

Where You Are by Tammara Webber

WARP: The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer

Ebooks From Publisher (For Review)

The Ripple Effect by Elisabeth Rose

Legally Addicted by Lena Dowling

Plotting To Win by Tara Chevrestt

Firstly I want to apologise for the delays in posting lately and the lack of access to this site. I assure you I did everything in my power to try and fix it but as the problem was with the server and not me personally there was not a lot I could do.

I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with blog.com, nor if the problem is totally fixed, but I want to assure you that no matter what I am still posting, reviewing and reading like a manaic. During the forced blog down time I’ve been looking into other sites in which to run this blog on and I may have found an alternative that I may be switching to very soon. I’ll will keep you update via facebook and twitter in regards to these changes.

Once again I’m sorry for any inconvenience these issues have caused for both the two authors I was running giveaways for (Kerry Letheby and Natalie Gayle) due to the comment issues that were once again part of the sites issues, and then to more recently G.J.Walker who I was meant to run a review for as part of the SAVING WISHES blog tour last week and to more recently Suzanne Carroll whose guest post as part of her OVER THE EDGE blog tour was meant to run yesturday. To these four authors, I am terribly sorry for the hassels this site has caused. I very much enjoyed all four of your very different books and can not recommend any of them enough to friends and readers online and at work enough, and I will continue to do so for a long time yet :)

To anyone still left reading, thank you for your time and patience while I dealt with an issues I was not expecting to come upon.

Over the Edge by Suzanne Carroll

Paperback published 9th May, 2013 by The Writer’s Coffee Shop

250 pages

5/5 Stars

I received this novel from Net Galley and my thanks go to the publisher and Net galley for allowing me the chance to read it and review.

Over the Edge is a humours, laugh out loud, feel good back that leaves you feeling warm and as though you’ve just caught up with an old friend. It’s the perfect blend of light entertainment mixed with the more complex issue of what it takes to find oneself and how to remain true to who you really are in the process.

Over the Edge is a romantic tale set around the character of Zoe Harper. We are first introduced to Zoe’s character during a pre-wedding meltdown that explodes into something so much bigger. From the very beginning I was intrigued by her, and the people in her life for everyone seemed to be widely different to herself, including her at-the-time fiancée Dan Costi.

Having survived the meltdown and the resulting fall-out with Dan, Zoe sets out to find herself. With no place to stay, an office filled with garbage bags full of her worldly possessions and the mother-in-law from hell still on the scene, Zoe has not idea how she’s going to get through everything that’s just happened. Egged on by an over zealous work colleague Zoe unwillingly looks into self-help methods of ‘coping’ with a break up and ends up searching out quick fixes for all aspects of her life – housing, career, travel, physical changes including a tattoo. Throughout all of her attempts to re-invent herself, the last thing Zoe expected was to find love again, especially not so soon. Cue Angus Creed, Creed Corporations CEO, return to the Sydney offices, an outback adventure or two, dancing lessons and that’s exactly what she finds. But is Zoe ready to take the leap of faith again so soon? And can she over come her self doubts and limitations after living under Dan’s thumb for two plus years? And will her drastic measures prove successful or will they simply add more pain and drama into her already packed life?

For the most part I could not put this novel down. I read it night and day (and on two memorable occasions while brushing my teeth!); whenever I wasn’t reading, I was thinking about it.It made me smile like an idiot and laugh out loud (literally!) on the train more than once! And that’s rare in a novel these days.

From the outset of the novel’s opening I was drawn to Zoe’s character and her plight. A point made even more intriguing and addictive when Zoe started to make all this spare of the minute decisions that you knew where going to end badly. Her attempts at reinventing herself with generic methods not catered to her own personality were both amusing and frustrating at the same time so much so that for a couple of minutes I wanted to yell at Zoe to snap out of it and get her s**t together. Not so much because she annoyed me, but rather because the choices she was making were leading her down the obvious car crash route. Naturally this meant I couldn’t look away. I didn’t want too.

Angus Creed was a breath of fresh air as far as leading male characters go. He was firm in what he wanted (like you would expect for an CEO), but he had this other side, this softer side that Carroll really brought to life. One minute he’s yelling on the phone to ‘Nick’ about the death toll being too high, then next he is slow dancing in his office trying to teach himself the waltz. Throughout her dealings with Angus, it’s obvious that Carroll went to great pains to avoid obvious stereotypes and archetypes, while also staying true to the character. What’s even more refreshing about Angus as a character however is the move against the over done ‘bad’ guy act. He is simply the boss, a self made multi-millionaire who demands the respect he deserves and looks after those who look after him.

All that said, I’m in two minds about Angus’ representation in the narrative as a whole. On one hand I would have liked to have seen him make a bit more of an effort in the book, and yet on the other I love the sparse glimpses we get off him at the beginning and I understand that the focus is mainly on Zoe Harper and her experience along the way. What I did love about him, was the way in which Carroll showed his two sides so fluently and the essence she captured in both halves of him -. i.e. his very public business persona against his rather private inner self. The treatment of Angus as a character in this way helped to both develop Zoe’s interest in him, but also to round him out as a character. For Angus is neither the partying, arrogant CEO type of many romance novels who must change in some form to be with the woman of his dreams, rather he is who is, nor is he some unbelievable saint like character that can only exist in books.  A point I think that Angus highlights here, is that Neither of our characters are forced to sacrifice any piece of themselves to make their relationship work and nor do they have to undergo any drastic change, rather the story focus on the concept of letting go and allowing yourself to love again, to fall head long into that endless abyss with no idea of where you might touch down or whether you might get hurt or not.

As far as the whole romance side of the book goes, Over the Edge is a sweet contemporary romance book that takes it time to develop and nurture the characters and their relationships before rushing in to anything; so if your looking for something hot and steamy and full on, this probably isn’t the book for you. In fact for the duration of the book, I think there is only really one scene that you could really count as ‘date like’ (two if you include the end) in where the two main characters are having dinner after rescuing the dogs and a broken magazine rack. While that may not sound very romantic or conclusive to a good romance book, there’s something to be said for Carroll’s writing in the way the she slowly brings our two characters together, taking the time to nurture their feelings and growth as characters and thus creating a very realistic relationship that progresses naturally despite the humorous hiccups along the way. In fact the dinner and beach scene is an extremely powerful and pivotal scene for our characters and their story, and I can not stress how romantic and and well it all flows when pitched against a busy lifestyle and the growing tension between our characters. Not to mention how well Carroll has resisted the urge not to forsake each character’s sense of self for the sake of the plot and pacing of the book in turn.

Over the Edge is a stunning debut but an author I will be sure to keep an eye out for in the future. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for something a bit light, but entertaining. It’s the perfect feel good novel when you are looking for something to read while you snuggle up with your doona this winter, or lazing about on the beach in Summer.

This book was read as part of my Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2013 and counts as well towards my Romance Appreciation Challenge 2013

For more information of the novel or the author check out my guest post that was posted earlier today and or the authors website, GoodReads page. To purchase your own copy of this novel head on over to the Writer’s Coffee Shop to grab a copy.

Today on the blog I have a special treat for all you romance lovers! For the first time I’m hosting a guest post by the very talented Aussie Author Suzanne Carroll!

 Suzanne lives in Sydney with her husband and children.  By day she works in an office where she sneakily scribbles plot ideas on yellow sticky notes and hopes they don’t accidentally end up on the departmental monthly report.

One such sticky note has turned into her first novel, Over the Edge.

Today Suzanne is here to talk to us about the main man in her book….

It’s no secret that everyone is going to fall hard for Angus. How did you create the perfect guy, and how to the men in your life measure up?

Yeah, Angus is kind of nice. I don’t know how I came up with him – that sounds so lame, doesn’t it? – he just seemed to evolve. Although he does have a couple of traits taken from people I’ve known.I think, what I like about him, is that mix of strength and vulnerability. I find that very attractive. And that whole idea of a man (Angus) presenting one face to the world, and having another side of him that he shows only to one person. And
what sort of trust does he need to be able to show that side? There’s an intimacy in that that I think is very appealing. And there’s also the fact that Angus is so obviously protective of Zoe, but he doesn’t smother her or try to “save” her, or tell
her what to do – I like that about him too.

The men in my life? They measure up just fine :)

Over The Edge

In six weeks Zoe Harper will marry Dan Costi in an over-the-top Sydney society wedding, complete with fire-eaters and belly dancers. But when she receives an unexpected gift from her future mother-in-law, Zoe realizes she’s making a huge mistake. In a blazing sidewalk argument, she breaks up with her fiancé, and his mother—who has joined the fight via conference call.

Following the advice of friends and co-workers, along with some inspiration from late-night-television self-help guru Dr. Pam, Zoe sets out to find the life she thinks she should be living. Always a planner, she makes a list of goals: travel, career, tattoos, and no romantic entanglements. It’s all carefully laid out, until she meets Angus Creed.

Angus is supposed to lead the opening waltz at a charity ball in New York City. Only problem is the handsome billionaire construction magnate with the tabloid past can’t dance. Not one step.

Tainted by gossip and with a well-publicized failed engagement behind him, Angus has become a master at keeping an emotional distance. Until he meets Zoe.

What starts as dancing lessons, slowly becomes something more. Angus begins to let down his guard and open his heart, even when his past makes an unexpected and unwelcome return. As Zoe discovers the real man behind the headlines, she questions where her new choices are taking her. Her goals look good on paper, but are they what she really wants? And by the time she realizes where her heart lies, will it be too late?

Like the sounds of this book? Head on over to the Writer’s Coffee Shop to purchase a copy :)

For more information on Suzanne Carroll head on over to her website or on GoodReads.

If you happen to live in Sydney, Suzanne will be appearing at an author event on Thursday 6th June at 6:30pm @ Hornsby Library. The event costs $5 and bookings are essential. To book a place simply call 98476614 or email library@hornsby.nsw.au


Hosted by Sheila @ Book Journey  

 

So I’ve been a busy girl reading this past week and have had so much fun doing so. Compared to other’s the amount of books I read each week, isn’t that much, but I mostly am able (between working five days in retail, and working each afternoon teaching dancing) in between other commitments, able to read one book during the week, and one over the weekend. This week I’ve done a bit more than that, and it felt good. I wish I could read all the time and not have to worry about work or sleep!!!

What I read last week:

Dark Horse by Honey Brown

Enamoured by Shannon Curtis

 

What I’m Currently reading:

Rules of Conception by Angela Lawrence

Rachel Richards is ready to be a mother. She’s got a great job, a good income, a beautiful inner-cityapartment, and a great group of supportive friends. All she needs is a father.
But go-getter Rachel won’t let a little thing like that get in the way of her dreams. After investigating different options to become pregnant, co-parenting, adoption and anonymous sperm donors, Rachel finally settles on a method of conception – using a known donor. Making the decision to choose the biological father for her child, Rachel picks Digby. The single, softly-spoken Canadian with a complicated family background wants to have children, but not have a child.
After a few attempts, Rachel is able to conceive and begins to dream about the kind of life she will create for her and her child. But the well-established foundation for her dream soon begins to develop cracks. Lyndall, her nightmare boss, is becoming even more obsessed with ruining Rachel’s career, a desirable, but undeniably married, colleague is beginning to show inappropriate interest and the stress of her impending new life is starting to take its toll on Rachel’s health.
Now Rachel is beginning to question if she should have followed the rules of conception after all..

 

What I plan to read this week:

Steal my Sunshine by Emily Gale

During a Melbourne heatwave, Hannah’s family life begins to distort beyond her deepest fears. It’s going to take more than a cool change to fix it, but how can a girl who lives in the shadows take on the task alone? Feeling powerless and invisible, Hannah seeks refuge in the two anarchists of her life: her wild best friend, Chloe, and her eccentric grandmother, Essie, who look like they know how life really works. But Hannah’s loyalty to both is tested, first by her attraction to Chloe’s older brother, and then by Essie’s devastating secret that sheds new light on how the family has lost its way. Even if Hannah doesn’t know what to believe in, she’d better start believing in herself.

Combined with Hannah’s contemporary story, at the heart of Steal My Sunshine is the revelation of a shameful aspect of Australia’s history and how it affected thousands of girls and women – the forced adoptions that saw ‘wayward girls’ and single mothers forced to give up their babies by churches and hospitals. The practice endured for decades, and only now are the numbers and the heart-wrenching stories coming to light.

Half Moon Bay by Helene Young

Ellie Wilding has been running from her past, but when the residents of Half Moon Bay call for help she knows it’s finally time to return home. As an international photojournalist, she’s used to violence in war zones, but she’s shocked when it erupts in the sleepy hamlet on the north coast of New South Wales, threatening all she holds dear.

Battle-weary Nicholas Lawson walked away from his military career leaving unfinished business. In a coastal backwater, that decision returns to haunt him. He remembers all too vividly his last lethal assignment in Afghanistan when Ellie’s sister, Nina, was shot and killed. Ellie’s been in his dreams ever since, even if she doesn’t remember him…

As a storm rages and floodwaters rise, Ellie struggles to save her community. But who can she trust? Nick Lawson, the dangerously attractive stranger with secrets, or an old friend who’s never let her down?

Heartland by Cathryn Hein

A powerful, passionate and moving rural love story from the bestselling author of Promises and Heart of the Valley.

When Callie Reynolds arrives at Glenmore, the property she’s recently inherited, the last thing she wants is to be saddled with a warty horse, an injured neighbour and a mad goose. Haunted by her sister’s death and her fractured family, all she wants is freedom.

But Callie hasn’t counted on falling for Matt Hawkins, an ex-soldier determined to fulfil his own dream of land and family. Nor could she predict the way the land, animals and people of Glenmore will capture her heart.

Callie is faced with impossible choices. But she must find the courage to decide where her future lies, even if it costs her everything she holds dear.

 

Giveaways still open :

Due to comment issues I’m keeping the two giveaways I’m currently running open for another week longer than originally stated. The issues with the comments isn’t stemming from my end, but rather the site’s server and is sadly a problem being experienced over the entire site at the moment. I do apologise for any incovienance this may have caused if you were trying to enter a giveaway. I have notified the help desk people and asked for help to fix these issues, in the meantime if you can’t leave a comment on the blog, head on over to my facebook account where you can simply like the post about the giveaway and earn entry that way into both the Kerry Letheby Mine to Avenge giveaway and Natalie Gayle Finding Trust giveaway. Both giveaways include a signed paperback edition of the novel open to readers within Australia, and a e-copy of the novel open world wise.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to Momentum publishing I have two copies of The Steele Diaries by Wendy James and two copies of Out of the Silence by Wendy James as ebooks to giveaway.

The Steele Diaries

It’s as if I am slowly sinking in the water, just occasionally making it back to the top for a gulp of air – to a sort of memory of what life can be – what life SHOULD be – and then down down down I go again. And each time the surfacing gets harder and harder and requires a greater feat of will, kicking and turning and fighting against the undertow….’

The only child of two famous but self-absorbed artists, Zelda Steele is adopted by her parent’s patrons when she is just a baby. Great things are expected of this privileged young woman, but at twenty- seven Zelda is dead, leaving two young children and a body of work that only hints at her promise.

Years later, Zelda’s daughter Ruth returns to her childhood home to find the diaries her mother is rumoured to have kept. What they reveal will send Ruth on a journey into the past – and transform her future in ways she can’t even begin to imagine.

Weaving together the narratives of three very different women, living in vastly different times, The Steele Diaries paints a rich and evocative portrait of the Sydney art scene from the thirties to the seventies, and examines the eternal conflict between maternity and creativity, motherhood and self

 

Out of Silence by Wendy James

I call his name – only quietly, but he hears me as I knew he would, and wants me as he always does. And we come together – right there in the darkness. And even though there is no way to be certain of any other thing in the world, I am certain that I would risk anything to keep what is between the two of us. For love, I would risk anything, lose everything.

Out of the Silence is a stunning debut novel about three Australian women from very different worlds: Maggie Heffernan, a spirited working-class country girl; Elizabeth Hamilton, whose own disappointment in love has served only to strengthen her humanity; and Vida Goldstein, a charismatic suffragist from Melbourne and the first woman to stand for Parliament in Australia.

When Maggie’s life descends into darkness after a terrible betrayal, the three women’s lives collide. Around this tragedy Wendy James has constructed a masterfully drawn and gripping fiction. Based on a true story, it unfolds at the dawn of the twentieth century against the compelling backdrop of the women’s suffrage movement and a world on the brink of enormous change.

The novel powerfully evokes the plight of women in the early 1900s – not least their limited options, whatever their class and education. However, at its heart this is a story of love – of love gone wrong; of its compromises and disappointments; but ultimately of its extraordinary transformative power.

WINNER OF THE BEST FIRST AUSTRALIAN CRIME NOVEL, NED KELLY CRIME AWARDS 2006
SHORTLISTED FOR THE DOBBIE LITERARY AWARD 2006 FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL BY A FEMALE AUTHOR

 

To enter this giveaway, simply ‘like’ the Never Ending Bookshelfs facebook page. It’s that simple.

Winners will be drawn on Tuesday 30th April. Open worldwide.

 Good luck

Hosted by Magan & Estelle @ Rather Be Reading

So I haven’t done one of these for a while. A lot has happened since my last one of these posts; I’ve attended the first ever Newcastle writers festival where I was able to get an advanced copy of Cathryn Hein’s new release “Heartland” and get it signed :) I’ve also been fortunate enough to meet John Marsden, who is arguably one of the Country’s most admired and popular young adult authors. Last Monday I meet Rachael Treasure at the dymocks literary lunch where I was seated on the same table as the Harper Collins employees and were so star struck it was funny. Anyway, below is some of the books I’ve been lucky enough to acquire over the last couple of weeks.

In Print (from Publisher)

Burning Lies by Helene Young

The Farmer’s Wife by Rachael Treasure

Venom by Fiona Paul

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday

Ebooks (for review from Publisher)

The S-Word by Chelsea Pitcher

Forget Me Not by Nina Blake

Out of Silence by Wendy James

The Steele Diaries by Wendy James

Saving Wishes by GJ Walker-Smith

Dark Horse by Honey Brown

The Last Gladiatrix by Eva Scott

Ask Me To Stay by Elise K.Ackers

The Reluctant Wag by Mary Costello

Enamoured by Shannon Curtis

Purchased (ebooks)

Burnt by Karly Lane

Stand In Star by Rachel Johns

One Perfect Night by Rachael Johns

Burning Up (Smoke Jumper) Anne MArsh

Tactical Strike by Kaylea Cross

Rush Me by Allison Parr

Vipers Kiss by Shannon Curtis

Fatal Destiny: A Fatal Series Novella by Marie Force

I’m having issues linking the books to goodreads for a preview at the moment. Once the technical sitatuion is cleared up I’ll link the books up for easier use.

376 pages

Published February 27, 2013 by EBS

4/5 stars

Finding Trust – Book 1 Centre Games Series

Brayden and Rihanna

He’s hot, sexy, and leads a double life. Sometimes in the limelight, mostly in the shadows. Brayden James holds fast to a secret that’s more than his to share.

She’s a singularly focused veterinarian out for a rare night of fun with friends, at a New Year’s Eve rock concert. Going home with the lead guitarist was furthest thing from Rihanna Mason’s mind when the night began.

When Rihanna inadvertently becomes the target of a deadly terrorist plot using the Hendra virus as a biological weapon, Brayden is forced to reveal his other life. His job is to keep her safe and together they must stop the terrorists before it’s too late. But what happens when she becomes more to him than just the assignment?

Will the secret he cannot disclose ultimately prove too much for Rihanna’s fragile trust in relationships? Or will he finally break through the double brick walls around her heart, where every other man has failed?Finding Trust is a playful and entertaining read the avid romance readers are bound to love. It’s part romance, part intrigue and part suspense and a whole lot of fun. Goodreads Blurb

Finding Trust is a playful and entertaining read, one that avid romance readers are bound to love. What’s more, it is an addictive read. The narrative itself is engaging to the point you don’t want to put the book (or in my case ereader) down because you simply have to know more. More about the characters, their backgrounds, the centre itself and all of the vibrant characters lives and futures.  More often than not when reading I found myself questioning and eargly wanting to know what makes each of the characters tick? Where is the could see their future going? Their views about the Centre? What they do in their spare time and how they see the world thanks to their altered genetics.

Like all good romantic suspense novels, Finding Trust relies heavily on the use of mystery and intrigue and Natalie Gayle pulls this off effectively and in a manner that is both believable and coherent in its somewhat natural progressions. In fact the narrative is all the more intriguing and compelling at times due to the added ‘paranormal’ extras to the story.

Although a unique take, the paranormal edge really works for this story and yet at the same time I feel that it was still largely unexplored at the same time. For all Brayden’s worries, Rhinana never guessed his secret, and although it does take a bit of time for her to possible comprehend the situation, she never really questions it either. I would have liked to have seen the genetics twist played on a bit more because it brings so much potential to the story and seeks to shed the narrative in a new light, not to mention it’s also a little bit exciting because it hasn’t really been done before in this genre before.  I know that Gayle has intentions (in fact she’s currently busily finishing off book two in the series) to continue this series and I for one am excited to see where she takes it.

In fact Gayle has proven herself to be an expert when it comes to withholding information and revealing it at the precise time the reader needs it. What’s more nothing seemed forced or over the top. Her characters are what they are, and as a reader you accept that easily enough.

What really drew me to the novel however was the use of the HENDRA virus and its very real threat to society for it is fatal to both humans and horses- although Gayle has explained that a vaccine now exists. I must admit that I had never heard of this virus until reading the foreword by Gayle, and yet I immediately found myself interested. I’m not really a horse person. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful creatures, its just their power and strength frightens me at times. I was thus surprised myself so emerged in this world of horses, veterinary science and the modified gentic traits. Gayle needs to be commended here for her writing is clear and coherent, and although some of the romantic side is predictable (though I’d argue thats why we love romance novels so much, because we know what were getting and are happy to let the author take us there), her imagery and characters are so vivid and real it is really not hard to find yourself lost in the book, even with out any prior knowledge to horses, the virus or really the genre of romantic suspense.

The romance in the novel is hot, and the first half to three quarters of the novel is dedicated to setting up the setting and the relationship before the big suspense battle scenes come to play. At times this may have dragged on a bit, but I still throughly enjoyed getting to know both the characters and their relationship. Some of the scene are even more unexpected and surprising (that jet ski beach scene for one) that left my mouth open in awe that Rhinana was even capable of that – prior to this she wasn’t and yet it still didn’t seem forced. Overall I probably would have preferred the romance to have been more blurred with the action in the novel, but it still held its own ground as it was.

Natalie Gayle is a new voice in Aussie romance fiction and one that shouldn’t be missed.  You may have noticed that I didn’t talk too much about the romance side of this novel and its because Finding trust is so much more than just another romance novel, it seriously has a bit of everything for everyone – a bit of action, a bit of intrigue and mystery, bad guys and good guys, suspense, modified genetics bordering on paranormal influences – all that said however, if you don’t like romance than perhaps this isn’t the novel for you. If you do like romance, then seriously give this novel and this Aussie Author a chance. I very much look forward to seeing where Gayle takes this series and see just what she can do and does with her writing as it grows and matures over time.

For more information on Natalie be sure to check out the interview I posted earlier on today, and leave a comment on the post and you could win a copy of this brilliant read as either an ebook (Open Internationally) and a signed paperback (Aust Only).

This novel was read as part of my Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013 and read as part of my Romance Appreciation Challenge 2013.

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Jess has read 8 books toward her goal of 80 books.
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