Blood in the dust by Bill Swiggs

Cynthia Blood in the DustThis book would best be described as an Australian western adventure. Set during the goldrush we meet brothers Toby and Patrick (Paddy) who have just lost their parents at the hands of a bushranger. What follows is their tale of survival as they attempt to regain thier family farm. The Australian landscape is harsh and so are many of the people who live in it, and for a few a happy ending.

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Dead man switch by Tara Moss

Cynthia Dead Man SwitchThere is a lot to like about this story set in Australia after World War II. Billie is a private investigator with a whole lot of spunk, trying to make it in a male dominated world. Many underlying issues are explored in the story, such as women in work and society, returning soldiers, the wealthy divide, and policing. This is the first book in the series and was a great start – reminds me a bit of the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton which I enjoyed. Can’t wait to see what case Billie will dive into next.

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The secret life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Cynthia Secret life of Violet GrantHistorical fiction set in the duel timelines of 1914 and 1964. Socialite Vivian receives a battered suitcase which she discovers belonged to her aunt Violet. As Vivian sets out to discover Violets story we are taken back to find out what happened to Violet. There is romance, sass, spies, sex and betrayal Most of the story was interesting, but I found some of the interactions between the characters a bit unbelievable.

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Blackberry & wild rose by Sonia Velton

Cynthia Blackberry and Wild RoseI have mixed feelings with this historical read. The story grabbed me from the beginning, I then went to disliking Esther and her actions, to then be riveted by the trial and then not like the ending. I enjoyed the setting and the descriptions of the silk industry. Esther did not know much of the world outside of her home, but that all changes when she brings Sara home from a brothel. The story is told alternatively by these two women. There are secrets, betrayal, uneasy relationships and the lowly position women held in a male dominated industry and society.

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The canary keeper by Clare Carson

Cynthia The Canary KeeperA great historical mystery read set in London and Orkney in the 1850s. Birdie unwittingly becomes a suspect in a murder and to clear her name she travels to Orkney to investigate. Clare brings to life the locations beautifully, both in the descriptions of the locations and society. How is the dead man connected to Birdie? Is any of her family involved? Atmospheric with lots of history, mystery, and a touch of magic and romance – once involved with the story I just had to keep reading to discover the ending.

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Opal dragonfly by Julian Leatherdale

Cynthia Opal DragonflyThis was a well researched and detailed story of 1850s Sydney. It was interesting to read the sources for this story at the end of the book. For me some of the detailed paragraphs disrupted the flow of the story, but it was an interesting tale of a family and society. Society was regimented and the list of events that could disgrace a family and be shunned were numerous – and so it was for the Macleod family and for Isobel in particular. Isobel grew up in a mansion on the foreshore of Sydney Harbour and we are witnesses to what happens as her family falls apart.

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Ghosts of the past by Tony Park

Amy Ghosts of the PastAnother great African/Australian adventure from Tony Park, this time with an historical element. An Australian man is approached by a South African journalist about one of his ancestor’s time in South Africa, and German South West Africa, now Namibia, around the time of the Anglo-Boer War. He becomes involved in a dangerous mystery, and both the modern and historical storylines are full of action, intrigue, historical detail, and romance. Fast paced, with twists and turns, and a lot of fun.

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A place called Winter by Patrick Gale

Cynthia A Place Called WinterThe story begins with Harry in a santitorium and we are then taken on a journey of his life and how he ended up there. And what a journey it is for Harry – from being a person of privilege in Edwardian London to emigrating to Canada to farm in the wilderness. Harry is a gentle person with great inner strength. Meeting Troels Munck, both attractive and repulsive, on the journey over to Canda has deep ramifications for Harry. I enjoyed this story of love and hardship, of Harry trying to make his mark on the world – it was both horrifying and hopeful.

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