If Kisses Cured Cancer by T.S. Hawken

Title: If Kisses Cured Cancer

Author: T.S. Hawken

Genre: Literary Fiction, Fictionif kisses cured cancer.jpg

Publisher: Seahawk Press

Published: 1st May 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 466

Price: $30

Synopsis:If Kisses Cured Cancer is a story about life in a growing coastal town, falling in love and stealing shopping trolleys.

Matt Pearce is depressed, working an uninspiring job and lacking any prospect of dragging his life out of mediocrity. That is until he meets Joy: a cancer survivor who lives beyond the rules of normal people.

As the pair go on a series of unusual dates – from hijacking fish n chip orders, to ‘extreme people watching’ at the airport – their love for each other grows. But Joy’s past is about to catch up with her, and a hidden secret could tear the two apart forever.

If Kisses Cured Cancer is a quirky look at finding love in unlikely places. It is about the importance of connecting with those around you, enjoying every moment and not being afraid to go skinny dipping in the forest.

It will have you in tears of joy, tears of sorrow and tears of laughter.

~*~

When we meet Matt Pearce, he is working in a job he hates, with no real idea of where he wants to be in life – he feels he’s forever going to be stuck in the monotony of customer service and scripts he must adhere to without ever being able to actually help people. Until he sees a young woman hijack a trolley at the supermarket and take groceries that aren’t her own and buy them for herself. Intrigued, Matt follows her – the trolley thief – and a relationship starts to form, based on stealing trolleys, hijacking fish and chips orders, and extreme people watching at the airport. This woman is Joy, a cancer survivor who lives each day as it comes, determined to get the most out of life before her past catches up with her – and forces her to keep a secret from Matt that he never saw coming.

When Matt finds out what is happening to Joy, he tries to put his plans for university on hold to try and help her, to get her through this rough patch of her life. But her determination to go out on her own terms and without holding him, and her friends back, is the defining characteristic of Joy as she tries to face what is to come without fear, and without worry for herself, but concern for those she is leaving behind.

This was a bittersweet story – sad, but at the same time, happy and realistic. It didn’t shy away from the hardships and flaws of the characters, and it allowed Matt, Z, Joy and Gerard to be themselves, to discover what they want their lives to be, from jobs to study to simply living for each day as it comes. It is about love, friendship, life, and death. About taking chances and new leaps towards the future that you had not ever thought was possible.

What I liked about this novel was that despite it’s title, it didn’t dwell overly on Joy’s cancer, which only showed up and overshadowed her in about the last third of the book. Instead, it combines a character who feels at a loss in his life, with one who has such zest for life, it is infectious to Matt and his friends who rally around him when he decides to go to university, and branch out into a new venture, and see him through caring for Joy towards the end, and creates a feeling of family, who are willing to help each other. Brought together by a desire to help people and do what makes them happy, Matt, Joy, Z – a former work colleague of Matt’s, and Centrelink call centre employee – Gareth – show that the unexpected changes and ups and downs in life can push us into decisions and pathways we never thought possible.

I was contacted by the author to review this book and decided to give it a go – at first, unsure of what I would encounter, but in the end, I did enjoy it. The fact that it had several strands and elements given equal attention, without a primary focus on one over the other ensured that there is something in there for all readers of this book. It is emotional, but all good books tug at the heartstrings, make you laugh and make you angry at some things – they move you, which is exactly what this one does. A well written book.

Booktopia

Booktopia

Country Roads by Nicole Hurley-Moore

 

country roads.jpg

 

Title: Country Roads
Author: Nicole Hurley-Moore
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Published: 25th January 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 303
Price: $29.99
Synopsis: Rebecca Duprey is working day and night to keep the family sheep station, Bluestone Ridge, afloat. But Bec’s father, who’s been in a wheelchair since a farming mishap, keeps second-guessing her decisions. Now, to add Bec’s woes, her unfaithful ex-boyfriend has started lurking around, and the adjoining farm she’d hoped to buy has been snapped up by a guy from the city called Matt Harvey.

After leaving his job in advertising, Matt became a bestselling novelist. But since the death of his fiancee in a car accident, he’s had severe writer’s block and is desperately hoping his move to the country will help him deal with his grief and allow him to focus on completing his next book. Problem is, he seems to have started off on the wrong foot with his new neighbour, Bec Duprey.

Bec isn’t quite sure when she started feeling attracted to Matt, but she’s determined not to succumb to his charms. And Matt isn’t sure when his feelings changed about Bec; all he knows is he can’t get her out of his mind. Can Bec and Matt overcome their fear of loss to find love and happiness with each other…?

~*~

Rural romances like Country Roads aren’t really novels that I enjoy. In Country Roads, we meet Matt Harvey, an author nursing physical and emotional injuries from a car accident, and Rebecca Duprey, his neighbour. Not surprisingly, they get off to a rocky start, and this is the initial spark that has the book playing ping-pong between the characters and the drive towards their relationship. To make things more complicated, perhaps not surprising for a romance, is the dogged determination of Rebecca’s ex, Zane from the neighbouring farm, and the conflict between their fathers, and what Zane’s father, and the larger community, once expected of Rebecca and Zane. There are conflicts but the stubbornness of each character, and the same arguments rehashed a few times because some people didn’t want to relinquish control, accept no for an answer, or believe their own bull-headed thoughts over the truth worked for a while. Conflict between characters is always good, but I felt that a little variation on how these conflicts played out and what drove them could have made the story more interesting.

The one character, Nathan Langtree was sort of just there – perhaps to help Matt, or for Matt to identify with, but a few mentions and appearances had me forget who he was until he next appeared. His history and character being given more page time could also have made things more interesting. The interactions between Rebecca and Matt were written well, though, but like any characters in books, did and said things that made were frustrating – yet they fit the scene and character for the most part.

One thing I didn’t really like was how obvious I felt the author made it as to who to like and who not to like. Indeed, in some books, it can be quite clear who is good, bad and in-between – however, in this case, I felt like I was being guided into having to like certain characters – and these characters felt a little too perfect at times. I would have liked to see other sides to these characters, to give a little depth to them – depth that comes out in their backgrounds and in the few instances this is discussed, yet a little more might have changed the dynamics a little, and given the promising plot a little more oomph.

The interesting scenes for character development, like farming, writing, hanging out at the pub or the movies – were a little too much tell. It was these scenes that could have really moved the story and characters, but felt a little rushed, as though they weren’t really important.

At the base though, there was an interesting story and the characters did eventually open up and talk, and provide a little character development that gave them deeper needs and desires behind the facade of the girl next door and the mysterious, wounded out of town guy, mixed in with the various gossiping characters. Even though this wasn’t a book I enjoyed or would read again, it is a good book for a lazy beach day, or for readers who enjoy romance and stories like this.