Monday, 18 March 2019

Book Review: THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN by Katherine Kovacic




Katherine Kovacic

An unsolved murder comes to light after almost seventy years...

In 1999, art dealer Alex Clayton stumbles across a lost portrait of Molly Dean, an artist's muse brutally slain in Melbourne in 1930. Alex buys the painting and sets out to uncover more details, but finds there are strange inconsistencies: Molly's mother seemed unconcerned by her daughter's violent death, the main suspect was never brought to trial despite compelling evidence, and vital records are missing. Alex enlists the help of her close friend, art conservator John Porter, and together they sift through the clues and deceptions that swirl around the last days of Molly Dean.

*** **** ***


Books like THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN ticks many of the things I love to read in fiction. There’s a mystery to solve, it takes place in the art world, it’s based on a true story - a crime that remains unsolved - and there’s a sympathetic protagonist.

What I love about books like this is our lead character, Alex Clayton, is passionate about her subject and takes the effort to research and dig deeper into a story that many others in her field would have ignored.

As an art dealer, we get to see Alex juggling her professional and ethical responsibilities; from buying and selling artworks (be it a gallery or  a back alley) to researching using all manner of sources and playing mind games with other dealers in the hopes of getting her hands on artworks before other dealers and at a reasonable price. A girl’s got to make a living, you know!

The book moves between 1999 when Alex is investigating Molly’s murder and 1930 when we get to see life through Molly Dean’s eyes. I enjoyed taking the trip back in time, and being familiar with Melbourne, I felt I was on this journey with both Alex and Molly.

Overall a highly enjoyable featuring a great central character (Alex) along with her wonderful companion, Hogarth, a Great Dane dog and her art restorer friend, John.

As I write this, book two in Alex Clayton Art Mystery series has been released and I am on my library’s waiting list to pick it up. 

*** **** ***


Katherine Kovacic was a veterinarian but preferred training and having fun with dogs to taking their temperatures. She seized the chance to return to study and earned an MA, followed by a PhD in Art History. Katherine spends her spare time writing, dancing and teaching other people’s dogs to ride skateboards.

A research geek, Katherine is currently fired up by the history of human relationships with animals, particularly as they appear in art. In 2012 she was long-listed for the Voiceless Writing Prize and she continues to contribute to academic publications.

Katherine lives in suburban Melbourne with Leonardo the Borzoi, Oberon the Scottish Deerhound and a legion of dog-fur dust bunnies.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Book Review: SPACE by Penny Reid


SPACE, the second book in the all-new Laws of Physics Trilogy from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!


One week.
Private cabin.
Famous physicist.
Still an unrepentant slacker.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Mona’s meticulously planned allotment of relaxation is thrown into chaos by the unscheduled appearance of her older brother’s band of friends, including the one person she'd hoped to never face again. Abram still makes her feel entirely too much, which is one of the reasons she disappeared after their one week together. But now, trapped on a mountain of snow and things unspoken, Mona will have to find a way to coexist with Abram, chaos and all.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliffhanger.


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***   ***


SPACE is book two in Penny Reid’s Law of Physics trilogy.

Sadly, I struggled to connect with this instalment for three core, interconnected reasons.

This book begins within the same timeframe of MOTION (book one) before quickly jumping two and a half years into the future. Mona, and in particular Abram go through some significant life events. The jump in time means we get told plenty but experience little. Yes, the ol’ telling instead of showing chestnut. It left me feeling removed from the characters and their story.

Next, I still don’t feel like I know either of the main characters very well. The huge time jump does not help. I was hoping we would get to know Abram a lot more in this book and we did to some extent, but it’s still very much Mona and her point of view that’s front and centre; the same as it was in MOTION. Further, changes to their character at times left me feeling these were not the same people we met in MOTION.

Thirdly, in my review of MOTION I said I felt the relationship was in its infancy. To read that Mona and Abram fell in love with each other in that book just doesn’t ring true to me. Yes, there was chemistry and attraction and a desire to learn more about one another. But love? Eh. I’m not convinced.

It wasn't all doom and gloom for me. There were several enlightening conversations between Abram and Mona that were fantastic but they were few and far between.

It was great to see Kaitlyn and Martin from the Elements of Chemistry series make an appearance; I loved catching up with them. Mona’s best friend Allyn is a hoot, and she provided some much needed humour throughout the book.

All the physics references once again went over my head but I did learn about snoga pants. Who knew such a thing existed? I want a pair even though I have no need for them. 

***   ***

Start the series today!
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Pre-order the highly anticipated conclusion today!
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Meet Penny Reid:

Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. 

She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


Connect with Penny:
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Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Book Review: THE WORK WIFE by C.J. Martín




C.J. Martín

We’ve all been there before: wanting something—or someone—we can’t have. Whether it’s a decadent slice of chocolate cake that will blow a diet, the too expensive yet oh-so-cute shoes that cost more than an entire paycheck, or the drool-worthy barista who whips up this morning’s macchiato…the point is, we can relate.

Meet Charli. A slightly awkward, forever single twenty-eight-year-old woman who definitely wants what she can’t have.
Enter Oliver. A thirty-eight-year-old executive chef who can’t stop thinking about his quirky co-worker, even though he’s engaged. Life is about choices, and saying “yes” to one person means saying “no” to another. But what if Charli and Oliver have been saying yes to the wrong people?

The timing isn’t right. The place isn’t right. But is it ever?

They say if you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen. Charli and Oliver just may set the kitchen on fire.

The Work Wife is a standalone romantic comedy. Equal parts cocky and self-assured, a pinch of awkward sprinkled with a dash of sass, topped with a whole lot of sizzlin’ heat, you'll love this laugh-out-loud romance by best-selling author CJ Martín.


I thoroughly enjoyed THE WORK WIFE by C.J. Martín. The story was highly engaging and I finished it in one sitting.

Charli and Oliver are a fabulous couple. It’s been a long time since I’ve read about a couple whose attraction is this intense, this devoted and this loving: they truly are a perfect match.  The magnetism between them is incredible; they are sizzling hot when they come together. Among all this they are so down to earth; Charli and Oliver are relatable, sincere and genuine.

Let’s not forget that Oliver is engaged, people! I know this might be a turn off for readers but I didn’t find it so at all. I think the author did a first-rate job in showing the turmoil of two people who are struggling to fight the attraction between them. They are imperfect as any person is yet Oliver and Charli had definite ideas of where the line never to be crossed was and when they found themselves wavering, they were adult in their response.

The writing flowed effortlessly for the most part but there were several times I was jolted out of the story due to errors. The book needs another round of proofreading.

This was the first C.J. Martín I’ve read and I’ll definitely be looking out for other works by the author.

Purchase Links


CJ Martín spends the majority of her days daydreaming, procrastinating, and longing for the day when she can quit her day job and write full time.

She loves all things romance and is a sucker for a happily-ever-after. She also loves traveling, yoga, avocados, and music. She has about a million and one playlists on Spotify that are as random as her personality.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her sweet husband (Literally! He owns an ice cream shoppe!) and twelve year-old Jug dog, Albert, who is more spoiled than most humans.

One day she will move to Paris and eat all of the wine and cheese, but until then...she dreams. 

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Book Review: TOMBOY by Avery Flynn

Tomboy - BT banner.jpg

How exactly has one good deed landed me in the penalty box?

TOMBOY, an all-new, sexy romantic comedy from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn, is available now!


Ice Knights defenseman Zach Blackburn has come down with the flu, and my BFF—his PR manager—begs me to put my nursing degree to use and get him back to health. Of course she would call in a favor for the most hated man in Harbor City.

But when he’s finally on the mend and I’m sneaking out of his place, everything goes sideways. Paparazzi spot me and pictures, plus accusations that I slept with him, fly faster than a hockey puck.
At first, all of Harbor City wants my blood—or to give me a girlie-girl makeover. But then…the team finally wins a game. And now this fickle town wants me with the big jerk twenty-four seven.

Argh. I never slept with him the first time! But no one will listen. Then the grumpy bastard goes and promises to break his no-fan-appearances rule to help raise money for a free health clinic—but only if I’m rink-side at every game. That’s not a deal I can turn down.

But when the team keeps winning, and I realize there’s more to him than his bad reputation, suddenly remembering to keep my real hands off my fake date gets harder and harder to do.

Tomboy AN.jpg

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Tomboy - Teaser 4 AN.jpg


Avery Flynn, if you ever decide to change the cover of TOMBOY I will be extremely disappointed. I love the model on a skateboard and even more, I love that Fallon Hartigan does actually ride a skateboard in the book!

The Hartigan’s are back, and this time it’s no-nonsense Fallon’s turn to find love. Her just-get-the-job-done mantra and take-no-prisoners attitude is intimidating to many. She’s pragmatic and uncomplicated in many a thing, that it takes someone with a keen eye to see the treasure that is the Fallon underneath the shell.

And who would have thought it, but the man that makes the grade is none other than surly, grouchy and unfriendly Zach Blackburn. I loved Zach, and he is going on my list of boyfriends. He is suffering. He is suffering from the flu when he and Fallon meet, but he is suffering from a life of disappointment, betrayal and deceit courtesy of his parents. Is it any wonder he is not inclined to get close to people?

I loved Zach and Fallon. These kids are crazy for each other. Their conversations and banter make for an entertaining read. I enjoyed that they actually listened to what the other has to say, and when their walls begin to drop, I love that they showed each other in word and deed how they felt.

In TOMBOY, Flynn focuses on the perils of social media and the result of the lynch mob mentality of these keyboard crusaders. It’s uncomfortable reading at times and this is a good thing. It’s good for people to be reminded that on the other side there is a human being with feelings.

Even though Flynn tackles some heavy subjects in this series, her writing style adds a light touch. These books are not an angst fest; they are positive, optimistic and highly entertaining. 


USA Today bestselling romance author Avery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She fell in love with romance while reading Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory books. It wasn’t long before Avery had read through all the romance offerings at her local library. Needing a romance fix, she turned to Harlequin’s four books a month home delivery service to ease the withdrawal symptoms. That worked for a short time, but it wasn’t long before the local book stores’ staffs knew her by name.

Avery was a reader before she was a writer and hopes to always be both. She loves to write about smartass alpha heroes who are as good with a quip as they are with their *ahem* other God-given talents. Her heroines are feisty, fierce and fantastic. Brainy and brave, these ladies know how to stand on their own two feet and knock the bad guys off theirs.


Connect with Avery
Instagram: @AveryFlynn

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Book Review: THE RISK by Elle Kennedy



(Briar U, Book 2)
Elle Kennedy

Everyone says I’m a bad girl. They’re only partly right—I don’t let fear rule me, and I certainly don’t care what people think. But I draw the line at sleeping with the enemy. As the daughter of Briar’s head hockey coach, I’d be vilified if I hooked up with a player from a rival team.

And that’s who Jake Connelly is. Harvard’s star forward is arrogant, annoying, and too attractive for his own good. But fate is cruel—I require his help to secure a much-coveted internship, and the sexy jerk isn’t making it easy for me.

I need Connelly to be my fake boyfriend.

For every fake date…he wants a real one.

Which means this bad girl is in big trouble. Nothing good can come from sneaking around with Jake Connelly. My father would kill me, my friends will revolt, and my post-college career is on the line. But while it’s getting harder and harder to resist Jake’s oozing sex appeal and cocky grin, I refuse to fall for him.

That’s the one risk I’m not willing to take.


I am more than old enough to be a parent to these characters but it says something positive that Elle Kennedy is able to write a book that I still find relatable, even though my own early adult years are but a distant memory.

In THE RISK we meet Brenna Jensen and Jake Connelly. I liked them both. They are both strong, they have clear goals and do not play the foolish games that often arise when romantic emotions enter the equation. I thoroughly enjoyed their conversations and banter and their attraction to one another was making the pages steam up nicely. Both Brenna and Jake exude a confidence that only the young seem to be able to do, but there are chinks in the armour that we get to explore as the book proceeds; little by little, we learn more about them and get to understand what in their lives has shaped them.

A shout-out to Brooks Weston (Jake’s roommate) and his bubble butt for providing some laugh-out-loud moments, but even with this, I did feel there was a lack camaraderie with secondary characters in comparison to other books set at Briar University.

I was also a tad frustrated that the final hurdle for our couple was resolved in such a speedy manner. It didn’t seem to match the pace of the first 80%-ish of the book and I finished thinking ‘Is that all we get?’

THE RISK is a solid addition to the Briar U series, and I can’t wait to see which couple we get to meet next.


A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Monday, 18 February 2019

Book Review (& Author Giveaway): MOTION by Penny Reid


MOTION, the first in the all-new Laws of Physics Trilogy from Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling author Penny Reid, is available now!


About The Book

One week.
Home alone.
Girl genius.
Unrepentant slacker.
What’s the worst that could happen?
Mona is a smart girl and had everything figured out a long time ago. She had to. She didn’t have a choice. When your parents are uber-celebrities and you graduate from high school at thirteen, finish college at seventeen, and start your PhD program at eighteen, you don’t have time for distractions outside of your foci. Even fun is scheduled.
Which is why Abram, her brother’s best friend, is such an irritant.
Abram is a talented guy, a supremely gifted musician, and has absolutely nothing figured out, nor does he seem to care. He does what he feels, when he feels, and—in Mona’s opinion—he makes her feel entirely too much.

Laws of Physics is the second trilogy in the Hypothesis series; Laws of Physics parts 1 (MOTION) & 2 (SPACE) end with a cliffhanger.


Download your copy today!
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It’s not a surprise that MOTION ends on a cliffhanger; we’ve known from the start this is a story told in three parts, and I find the author manages to pinpoint exactly the right time to pause the story and leave us wanting more, so curse you for that, Penny Reid!

MOTION is very much Mona’s book. She is an exceedingly introspective character, so we spend plenty of time in her head learning about her past, her present and her attitudes. There is still plenty to learn about her, and I hope we do in the latter books.

Abram played more of a supporting role this time around. I enjoyed the snippets of him we got but so far, he is very different from the Abram we first met in Reid’s Chemistry series.

There are funny lines and witticisms peppered throughout the book but the attraction between Mona an Abram really is in its infancy and quite benign. Mona’s crush on Abram’s sister Marie – a woman she has yet to meet but desperately wants to be friends with – has her showing more excitement than she did for Abram.

I do wish the physics talk was dialled down. I have no idea and very little interest in the subject. If the references and chapter headings are meant to mean anything in the context of the story, they have gone over my head.

2018 seemed to be the year of the duet for many romance authors and frankly, I was over it by the time December rolled around. I still have a lingering amount of exasperation with stories dragged out across several books, and that includes Motion. So yes, while I did enjoy it, I would recommend readers wait for the entire three books to be published before diving into Abram and Mona’s story.

And now it’s a wait for book number two. I am hoping for more Abram, more DaVinci family dynamics and a lot more romance. 

Motion, book one of the Laws of Physics trilogy is available now.
Space, book two of the Laws of Physics trilogy is scheduled for release on March 11, 2019.
Time, book three of the Laws of Physics trilogy is scheduled for release on April 15, 2019.


Enter the Giveaway:


Pre-order the rest of the series today!

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Amazon Worldwide:
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Amazon Paperback:

Meet Penny Reid
Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.


Connect with Penny:
Stay up to day with Penny by joining her mailing list:

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Book Review (+ author giveaway): MAID IN ENGLAND by Brenda St John Brown

Title: Maid in England
Series: The I Do Crew #1
Author: Brenda St John Brown
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 5, 2019


TO: The guy who dumped me because of my career
FROM: The woman hired to save yours
RE: I am 150,000% over you. 


I’m on the 11:14 train out of London, so I’ll be there by 3:00. To make this as painless as possible, I thought it would help to establish key ground rules:

 1. No rehashing our past relationship. Yes, we were engaged, but it’s been twelve years and I’m over you.
  2. I’m very good at my job and that job is to help you shed the “reclusive” part of the whole “reclusive rock star” vibe you’ve got going on. Brace yourself.
  3. My plan is to have this wrapped up by Friday, so save your smoldering looks until I’m gone, please. (I assume you still smolder?) I’m immune now. See item #1.
 4. My cousin is getting married and guess who's a bridesmaid? Funny, huh? Almost as funny as the fiancée you dumped because you thought she was married to her job now saving yours.

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Except almost. That one time.

P.S. Have I mentioned I’m totally, completely 150,000% over you? 

My Thoughts

MAID IN ENGLAND is the first Brenda St John Brown book I have read, and I enjoyed her writing. The writing flows easily and I felt the pacing was consistent. Admittedly I was somewhat confused by the title and book blurb; I don’t think they accurately reflect the story told, but don't let that put you off. The book is more serious that I expected but it was a pleasant read.

I enjoyed Remi’s story and thought her character development was realistic throughout. I particularly liked that the author had Remi “save” herself when she was experiencing her work/life crisis.  

I enjoyed Remi and Alastair’s relationship but I wanted more of it. It felt like we got the bare bones. As a result, it was hard to feel fully invested in their relationship.

One of the sweetest relationships in the book was between Remi and Ziggy, the dog. Their “conversations” were fun to read.

MAID IN ENGLAND is an entertaining, undemanding read that’s just the thing when you want to escape into a book for a few hours.

Purchase Links

$2.99 for a limited time!


Free in Kindle Unlimited

Author Bio

Brenda is a displaced New Yorker living in the English countryside. She’s lived in the UK long enough to gain dual citizenship, but still doesn’t understand Celsius. However, she has learned the appropriate use of the word “pants”. And how to order a proper bacon bap/barm/buttie. Because, well, bacon.

Brenda writes contemporary romance to make you giggle and swoon. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking, running and reading. In theory, she also enjoys cooking, but it’s more that she enjoys eating and, try as she might, she can’t live on Doritos alone.

For more information or to connect with Brenda visit

Author Links

Book Review: THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN by Katherine Kovacic

ABOUT THE BOOK THE PORTRAIT OF MOLLY DEAN by Katherine Kovacic An unsolved murder comes to light after almos...