From our reviewers: General fiction
The Winter Sea
By Di Morrissey (Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $35)
Reviewed by Natasha Holland
I wouldn't say Di Morrissey is a lazy author but The Winter Sea has a real paint-by-numbers feel to it.
An everlasting love, a new love and a family secret roll around together in this plot as the lead character Cassie Holloway, fresh from a divorce, heads to Whitby Point in New South Wales.
A lost dog leads her to her new love, a vet called Michael.
He also happens to be the great- grandson of Giuseppe d'Aquino - one of the main stories in the book as we hear how he left Aeolian Islands off the coast of Italy to make a new life in Australia.
His story is critical to developing the back story and explores his life as a new immigrant in Australia and how he founded a fishing dynasty.
Overall, all of the characters have their part to play but they all tend to be a bit beige. There are no real twists and turns that leave you eager to keep turning the pages.
The Winter Sea is a nice distraction, but Di Morrissey, you are capable of better.
Report card? Needs more work, better try harder next time.
Chocolate Cake For Breakfast
Danielle Hawkins (Allen & Unwin)
Reviewed by Suzanne Hotton
Set in rural New Zealand, Chocolate Cake For Breakfast is an easy read that has a Bridget Jones feel about it.
It's about Helen McNeil, a vet from small-town New Zealand who has a love of cows. While escaping from a dull girl at a party who she did not want to talk to, she meets Mark Tipene, a handsome rugby star.
When he asks her on a date, she has no idea that he is a high- profile rugby player with a fan website full of comments from adoring women.
Quickly researching Mark she learns the career highlights of this good-looking and ever so nice sportsman.
An entertaining on-again, off- again romance follows which sees Mark birthing cows and Helen trying to overcome jealousy and fear of being upgraded at any point.
Adding to the story also is an entertaining friendship with her cousin Sam, her young, well- meaning but over-enthusiastic and outspoken stepmother Em, and the happy but sometimes snarky banter with her vet colleagues.
The pace of this book is good and it is a great read if you want to escape for a few hours without having to use too much brainpower. I'd happily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good romantic comedy.
As enjoyable as chocolate cake for breakfast.
The Tea Chest
By Josephine Moon (Allen & Unwin, RRP $37)
Reviewed by Maree Field
Kate Fullerton is the co-owner of The Tea Chest in Brisbane - a boutique tea store that focuses on creating perfect blends.
When an opportunity comes up for Kate to open in London, she wavers before taking it on. She's leaving behind her husband and children to take a gamble.
Leila and Elizabeth are also at a crossroads, and Kate and The Tea Chest give them a chance to start over.
The Tea Chest is a cosy novel, steeped in the world of boutique teas and the lives of the three women that the store is set to change forever. All three are likable and relatable, and the story is engaging.
Best read on a comfy couch on a rainy day with your favourite cup of tea at your side.
War Clouds Gather
By Peter Watt (Macmillan, RRP $38)
Reviewed by F Mulligan
War Clouds Gather is the latest instalment in Peter Watt's broad-reaching family saga that spans the world but has its heart firmly placed in Australia.
The story takes up in the late 1930s.
The Depression years are drawing to an end, fascism and communism are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of Europe and the democratic countries are either in isolation or attempting appeasement with those countries that seem bent on rocking the diplomatic boat.
The story follows three main strands. The first concerns black-hearted Sir George Macintosh, who is still wielding immense familial and financial power through his business empire.
His hopes to bend his son to his own image are as strong as his intent to keep his nephew from the Macintosh firm.
The second strand follows the adventures of said nephew, David, and the third deals with one of the Duffys, Captain Matthew Duffy, who, while struggling to keep his Iraq-based airline aloft, becomes involved in counter-espionage in British- controlled Iraq.
It is an easy book to get into and not having read of the series any previously was no hindrance.
It's a simple and enjoyable period drama, an Australian Wilbur Smith if you will.