Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Night Diver by Elizabeth Lowell

Title: Night Diver
Publisher: Wm Morrow
ISBN-13: 978-0062132826
Pub Date: April 2014
Format I read: Hardcover $26.99
How I Read It: Purchased
Rating: 4.5 Crowns
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Lowell plunges into the adventurous and deadly world of underwater treasure hunters in a heart-stopping tale that superbly combines atmosphere, action, romance, and suspense.
After a family tragedy, Kate Donnelly left the Caribbean behind forever. But a series of bad management decisions has left her family’s diving and marine recovery business drowning in red ink. Now her brother pleads with her to come back to the island nation of St Vincent. Without Kate’s financial expertise, the iconic treasure-hunting enterprise started by her grandfather will go under. Unable to say no to the little family she has left, Kate heads back to the beautiful and terrifying ocean that still haunts her nightmares.
Holden Cameron was addicted to the adrenaline rush of active duty—including narrowly surviving an underwater explosives accident. The last thing the former British military diver wants is to babysit a family of thieves on a tropical island—even if they are the world-famous Diving Donnellys. But in his new civilian job, Holden must investigate the suspicious activity surrounding a Donnelly dive to recover treasure from the ancient wreck of a pirate ship.
When equipment, treasure, and even divers begin to disappear, Kate and Holden form an uneasy alliance to uncover the truth. But the deeper they plummet into the mystery, the closer they come to each other. Soon they are sharing their deepest fears and darkest secrets—and a combustible chemistry too hot to ignore.
Read an Excerpt
“Let the lover be disgraceful, crazy, absentminded. Someone sober will worry about things going badly. Let the lover be. ” -Rumi
Kate is trying to save her family’s maritime salvage company while coping with the fact she witnessed mother being lost at sea and her father dying at her feet. The author conveyed Kate’s struggle brilliantly. I could feel her trepidation at having to return to her grandfather’s dive ship, yet her character wasn’t a simpering woman and I liked that.
Holden was sent there with two purposes: Catch the thief and shut down the dive. He was suspicious of everyone, Kate included, which was interesting considering he was attracted to Kate from the start. Although Holden was a very insightful, almost philosophical, character I didn’t feel as though I got to know him as well as I did Kate.
While the sexual chemistry practically exploded from the pages since the first meeting of Holden and Kate, they didn’t automatically jump into bed with each other, which I liked. Seeing as they didn’t trust each other at the beginning of the novel, their relationship built up as they gained each other’s trust.
The mystery aspect of the novel was there fairly early on. It was obvious that Holden was there with the purpose of seeking out the person who was nicking artifacts from the dive and even though the mystery kept my attention, the actual suspense part of the novel only came in during the last 50 or so pages.
I enjoyed how well researched the author was when it came to the actual process of the dive and recovery process. Having seen this process before, I paid close attention to the way the author handled it and it was one of the things that drew me in even more.
Although I was over the moon and was up until the wee hours of morning reading the novel, there were still a few things that I wasn’t so thrilled about. While the fact this novel relied only on the POV’s of Holden and Kate worked wonders with the romance aspect, it was a little lacking when it came to the suspense/mystery parts. I would have liked to have seen things from the full range of characters POV’s but the novel still worked as it was, it just came off more of a full on romance rather than a suspense/mystery.
Holden’s character could have been fleshed-out a little more. I felt as though I only received a sampling of who he was. There could have been more suspense mixed through the plot. I would have also liked to have seen some sort of conflict between Kate and Holden. While I enjoyed the HEA, it almost felt too perfect.
Overall, I enjoyed this novel. Sunken treasure, romance, murder, and mystery what’s not to love? I am very pleased that I purchased this book. I cannot wait to read more from this author.
Why did I purchase this book? The title, Night Diver, called me over, the blurb made me buy it.
What movie would I compare this book to?  Fool’s Gold
What I drank while reading Night Diver? Jamaican Rum tea


Monday, September 1, 2014

Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer

Title:  Lyrebird Hill

Author: Anna Romer
Publisher:  September 1st 2014 by Simon & Schuster AU
ISBN: 9781922052421
Pages:  416 pages
How I Read It: ARC ebook
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, contemporary
My Rating: 4 1/2 crowns


From the bestselling author of Thornwood House

When all that you know comes crashing down, do you run? Or face the truth?

Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life – a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career – but in one terrible moment, her life unravels. The discovery that the death of her sister, Jamie, was not an accident makes her question all she’s known about herself and her past.

Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been forever blocked in her memory . . . Snatches of her childhood with beautiful Jamie, and Ruby’s only friendship with the boy from the next property, a troubled foster kid.

Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol where she is imprisoned for murder. As she reads, Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence.

Slowly, the gaps in Ruby’s memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core – about what happened to Jamie that fateful day, and how she died.

A thrilling tale about family secrets and trusting yourself.

This novel was such a treat! After reading and being engrossed in Anna Romer’s first book, ‘Thornwood House’, I was eager to see what this second tale would bring. I was not disappointed! I can clearly state that any time in the future I would not hesitate to buy anything this author produces. ‘Lyrebird Hill’ follows on from Anna Romer's successful debut novel and without doubt, it keeps you on the edge of your seat page after page. It is so very engaging yet, as the end draws near, you become hesitant to finish it, finding it difficult to extract yourself from the mystique Romer has wrapped around your literary soul. For you see this is a tale full of wonderful surprises, unexpected twists and turns that kept me thinking about events that transpired long after the chapter had closed.

“Features began to emerge on the paper, the charcoal lines almost too faint to see at first, like marks made by the random fluttering of dusty moth wings".

Lyrebird Hill is a compelling story, evocative of the rural Australian landscape; it’s easy to hear the song of the now departed lyrebirds, smell the eucalypt trees in the morning dew or hear the gurgle of the water down a rocky crevice. All your literary senses will be engaged with this rich and sumptuous prose:

“It was a lyrical painting, magical - a summer song rendered in pigment and light".

A stunningly beautiful tale with tragic secrets – past and present - Aussie author Anna Romer paints the Australia bush in such vivid imagery that it forces you to pause and ponder. The blending of the two stories, related by Brenna in 1898 and Ruby in 2013, was done seamlessly. I found myself madly flipping pages as the mystery and intrigue is so very gripping and intense, yet conversely, events transpired that were sad and at times sorrowful:

“The fabric of my life began to fray, develop holes. Through those holes I caught glimpses of a past I had not, until now, considered”.

The concept of secrecy is not confined simply to the occurrences within the story, as the author insightfully explores the way in which we all, to some extent or another, and for reasons ranging from sympathetic to nefarious, hide our true selves from the world at large.  Romer brilliantly uses the notion of masks, both literal and figurative, to illustrate that not all are as they seem, and a pleasant fa├žade can hide a distasteful interior and vice versa.

The mask you wear might be grotesque, or quirky, or plain; or it might be one of extraordinary beauty – but it’s still only a mask. If you peel it away and look in the mirror, who do you see gazing back.”

Romer slowly lays out all the puzzle pieces and begins to assemble them, piece by piece, with the final placement ever so magical. A story steeped in sensational revelations, I waited with bated breath for the concluding downpour of truth:

“In its place, was a faint feeling of completeness, as if a tiny, overlooked puzzle piece had slotted perfectly into the larger picture of who I really was.”

The slight tarnish of a half star removal is because I felt there were characters that may have possible links, events that needed fuller disclosure, connections that were not complete in my own mind – but maybe, that was what the author intended after all – a story to keep you thinking long after the final page is turned:

“A jumble of disjointed events, a jigsaw puzzle with most of the its pieces still rattling around in the box…I had hoped to find answers here at Lyrebird Hill, and I had – but they still weren’t slotting as neatly into place as I had hoped”.

What Romer produces here is inspiring and the supplemental material provided by her at the end of the book sheds great light on the process she goes through in bringing these tales to life.  Australia should be excited! Lyrebird Hill cements Romer’s reputation at the forefront of Australian fiction. Here is hoping those scrapbooks of stories untold get dusted off by this exceptionally talented writer. I loved this book and highly recommend it to all who love a well-told and cleverly crafted mystery.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster, and NetGalley for the advanced copy to review.

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