Sunday, 21 January 2018

The Blue Mile by Kim Kelly



Precis

The week before Christmas, 1929, Eoghan O'Keenan loses his factory job, and has to flee the slums of Chippendale with his seven-year-old sister Agnes. On the north side of Sydney at Lavender Bay, Olivia Greene is working on her latest millinery creations and dreaming of becoming the next Coco Chanel.

A job on the Harbour Bridge for Eoghan, designing couture for the Governor's wife for Olivia, and a chance meeting in the Botanic Gardens sees the beginning of an unconventional romance. From vastly different backgrounds, with absolutely nothing in common - from faith to wealth and class - it seems that the blue mile of harbour between Olivia and Eoghan will be the least of the obstacles ahead.
By mid-1932, as the construction of the Bridge is completed, the city is in chaos as the Great Depression begins to bite hard and the unemployed edge ever closer to a violent revolt. And then Eoghan disappears.

Set against the spectacular backdrop of Sydney Harbour, The Blue Mile is a tale of the both wild and calculated risks a city took to build a wonder of the world, and of those taken by ordinary people to save a great love, against all of the odds.

My review

I borrowed the audio book of The Blue Mile from my local library. I was looking for material to give me a ‘feel’ for Sydney during the Great Depression as research for my current book. Although it is a fictional story line the backdrop of hardship, politics of the day and the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge are based on facts.

The reason I chose the audio book was to make use of my time driving to and from work – trying to cram in as much research as possible.

I was already fairly familiar with the history of the time but still learnt a great deal.  As insight into the era and the building of a major landmark it is accurate and absorbing. The Sydney Harbour is itself a link between the two characters. It provides work for Eoghan when finding a job was difficult and inspiration for Olivia’s fashion designs.

The blue mile refers to the stretch of water in Sydney Harbour between the suburbs where the two characters, Eoghan O Keenan and Olivia Greene, live. A world apart in relation to background, financial security and class.

As a love story, it is enchanting. The characters are believable and, although they come from different class backgrounds, are well matched. Little Agnes is a delightful child who has a very grown up attitude to life.

The audio book is narrated by Zoe Ellerton-Ashley and James Harvy. Both of these Australian actors brought their characters to life as well as that of Agnes. James’ Irish accent was delightful to listen to.

I loved the story and its audio presentation and often wished my trip to work was longer so I could keep listening.

I am not a reader of love stories but Miss Kelly has delivered a well-researched historical fiction/love story with characters I enjoyed immensely. It had me totally engrossed. I intend to follow up with reading more of her books.

My rating 5*

This review is also available via my website www.pam.id.au

Sunday, 14 January 2018

The Extraction by Steven F. Freeman



I am using the author’s own precis. It is not only a good summary of the story line, it is also a good indication of the suspense the reader can expect and how well Freeman writes in this style.

An anonymous note launches ex-FBI criminal profiler Decimus Farr into a nightmare. His fiancée has been kidnapped, and Farr is given only twenty-four hours to follow and solve a trail of ten hidden clues, or she dies.

Identifying the abductor could provide Farr with a vital shortcut for locating his fiancée. But with each new clue connected to a different criminal from his past cases, which offender should he pursue?

With the window closing fast, Farr must race the clock to rescue his love…or be consumed by the madness and violence he had thought left behind.


If you enjoy shows about criminal profilers like Criminal Minds then you are sure to enjoy The Extraction.

The author doesn’t dawdle getting into the story with the opening line: Your fiancé dies in twenty-four hours reads the note.”  

Farr hasn’t used his profiling skills for three years but his former FBI profiling partner helps him solve the riddles.
Nothing is left for the reader to imagine. The scenery, actions and emotions are highly descriptive and have the reader spellbound.

The characters are well developed and likeable (well the goodies are).

The Extraction is an enthralling mystery thriller, full of suspense that has you guessing a new outcome with every chapter, but you will never guess the ending.

I have read several books by Steven F Freeman, all good but this is one of his best to date.

A very definite 5* rating from me

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Hannah's Moon (American Journey #5) by John A. Heldt



Wow! This is John A. Heldt at his best. (There are still two of his 11 books from other series I am yet to read so it may be nudged from its number 1 rating).

The story begins with heartbreak when, following a miscarriage and years of trying to conceive, Claire Rasmussen and her husband, Ron, enquire about adoption. 

After learning the waiting time is six years, and extremely expensive, it seems like their longing to become parents may remain a dream. That is, until Claire’s uncle, Professor Bell, provides a solution.

Having experienced this trauma myself, I can honestly say the author has an outstanding understanding of what couples go through in this situation. He describes their heartbreak and yearning accurately with emotion and sensitivity.  


Along with Claire’s brother, David, they travel back to 1945 when adoption was faster and more simplified. Their experiences during this time, the final months of world War II, prove to be not so easy. Their lives become a whirlwind of romance, danger, suspense and uncertainty. 

Yes, it is a time travel story but rather than being science fiction it is drama, emotions, danger, history and suspense. In other words, it is a darn good read.

Regular readers of my blog (www.pam.id.au) and reviews will know I am a staunch John A Heldt fan. Hannah’s Moon is the fifth, final and best of his American Journey series. This is a very special story that is a must read.

Heldt is an amazing story teller. His skills have produced an engaging story that flows consistently with likeable characters and reality; one that will have the reader misty eyed, laughing and biting their nails. 

The characters are well developed and believable. As it is told through the perspective of each of them, I felt I was living their experiences alongside them. One little touch I loved was when even the brilliant Professor and his wife had some difficulties with time travel.

Hannah’s Moon is a wonderful conclusion to the series – or is it? At the end of the story the characters from the other books are brought together and, if you have read these, it tells how his previous adventurers have fared. If you haven’t there is enough explanation not to feel you have missed something and, I believe, enough to have you going back to read them. The final part concerning the Professor and his family also opens the door for yet more of this amazing man.

As always, my only complaint about all of John A Heldt’s books are that they are not in print – I would love to have them all on my bookshelf.

If, or should I say, when, you read Hannah’s Moon be sure to include the acknowledgements. They show the author’s commitment to accuracy of his time periods and history through research and consultation.

I received a copy of Hannah’s Moon from the author with a personal option on reviewing the book.

My rating? To date, I have rated all of Mr Heldt’s books 4 or 5 stars and this is definitely a 5*. I just wish I could give it more.