Third Offence by Helen McKenna

third offence



Story Outline:

To Jack Nolan, young Danny is like a son. Despite Danny’s rough start in life, Jack saw potential in the boy that few others did and encouraged Danny to pursue dreams he never imagined he could achieve.

But an anonymous letter about his long absent father makes Danny question everything. Can he really rise about his background or is his future set in stone?

Jack is a lawyer at the top of his game and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for Danny, who helped him many years ago, as a mere child. But the more Jack uncovers, the more he sees his chances of winning his first criminal case slipping through his fingers.

With time and mounting evidence stacked against them, Jack and Danny negotiate a web of lies and deception, Danny’s dread that history will repeat itself and Jack’s fear that he is in way over his head. Can they actually uncover the truth and, more importantly, will their friendship survive the ordeal?


My Review:

Book gifted by author in return for honest review

Third Offence is a novel based on characters from Helen McKeenas highly popular novel “The Beach House” (Published in 2011 by Joshua Books). It was wonderful to revisit characters from a book that I have read and absolutely loved. I had no idea the author was working on this and was even more surprised and delighted when asked to read it. Jack is a favourite of mine in The Beach House so it’s lovely to catch up with what has been going on in his life since.

The thing that worries me as a reader is when an author decides to write more books from a much-loved story. I wonder will they do them justice or whether they should have been left as they were. I am pleased to say that this book like all the other books I have read by this author did not disappoint. In fact, I think it has made me like the character of Jack even more.

A brilliant and creative story that is full of intrigue, secrets, and half-truths. The author writes in such a way that you have to engage with the characters and the story that is going on before you. You have no choice but to be pulled into what is going on. There are a lot of different things happening at once with this tale. Jack is a lawyer who volunteers to help out the father of his friend Daniel, a boy he has been a benefactor too. Daniels father is less than cooperative with the case. So, it is up to Jack and Danny to figure out why he was framed for a crime he swears he did not commit. Being a fan of mystery it was great to try to work out who had framed Daniels father and why. Yet again I was getting lost in my suspicions and did not even get close to who it was before it was revealed.

There are many different themes explored by the author. Not judging someone because of life circumstances, seeing things from a different perspective. Never losing faith in what you believe in and for me, the biggest messages was that family is important. No matter what people are going through, when all is said and done your family whether they are related by blood or not, are important.

A heartwarming tale that will make you laugh, cry, and use your powers of deduction. It can be read as a stand-alone story but I would recommend reading The Beach House first.

Highly recommend

About Me

I have been reviewing books since 2012. I got into reviewing out of pure frustration at a number of people that were posting reviews that were either having a go at the author or rubbishing books.

I have great respect for authors and what it takes to write a book and share it with the world. So you will find my reviews are always constructively written.

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Happy Eva After by Chris Harrison

Happy Eva After

 Story Outline:

As a teacher at the Fawlty Towers of London language colleges, Sebastian Pink is accustomed to confusion caused by the complexities of the English language.

Married to Sarah, a career woman who has long been a total workaholic but is now desperate for a baby, Sebastian feels ambivalent about becoming a parent. Sarah has effectively been absent from his life for so long that they’ve grown apart and these days his social life has come to revolve around his work; walking his dog, Claude; and his obsessive daily completion of the cryptic crossword.

When an alluring Czech student called Eva becomes one of Sebastian’s students – and inadvertently provides him with the last solution in his morning crossword – he finds himself drawn into a sordid suburban tangle based mainly on his own misinterpretations and feverish imagination.

Happy Eva After is a seriously funny comedy about a bloke, his wife, his dog, an alluring young woman with a mysterious past, and the nuances of the English language.

My Review:
Book Reviewed for Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room (Bookstr)
Being a fan of everything to do with words, their meanings, usage and the such this book instantly appealed to me. I looked forward to reading a book about a language teacher who works in a school that is the equivalent of Fawlty Towers. The book sold itself as a comedy of sorts. What I discovered is not just a story about a man whose life revolves around the English language. I found a funny and heart-warming, sometimes cringe-worthy story of a man who is looking for something. I am not even really sure that he knows he is looking for something or indeed if he realises his life is void of something until Eva enters the school. She is shy and hides behind oversized clothes so try to be invisible. That only makes her even more visible to Sebastian.
From the very beginning, I liked Sebastian; he is totally relatable and likable. His take on the world and the people around him. Even though he is a bit misguided where Eva was concerned, it appears that the language teacher needed to learn a thing or two. It shows the reader that even though he tries to convince himself that he is not important; he cares deeply about those around him.
His wife Sarah, on the other hand, I disliked instantly. Even though she is married to Sebastian, I got the feeling that she was married to her job. No matter how she acted throughout the story I did not believe her to be a sincere character. The author has done a great job creating her character. If I dislike a character it means to me personally that the writer has done their job. To like a character is easy, to dislike one is a lot more difficult. She is all about job success and how the world views her financial status rather than what people think of her as a person. She has Sebastian wrapped around her little finger and it seems that no matter what she wants she ends up getting it.
There are many laugh out loud moments throughout.  When you look into the heart of the story though. the message the author has provided for us is one that is as old as time itself, we want to be needed and loved. We need to know we have a place in the world and that people value us for who we are. It is great to see a character like Sebastian who just wants the simple things in life. That and the last clue on the crossword.
You will laugh, you will cringe and most definitely shed a tear or two. A joy to read.
Highly recommended.

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

the visitors

Story Outline:

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.

My Review:

Book reviewed for Netgalley and Hachette Australia

As a reader, I love stories that other people tend to steer away from, with subject matters that they are uncomfortable with. When I read the description of The Visitors, something told me that this would be one of those books and I was correct. The subject matter will not be to everyone’s liking but those that do read this gem of a book will find them fascinated by John and Marion’s lives.

Whilst I did not connect with any of the characters on a personal level as I find myself doing when I read books I did feel some compassion towards Marion. A woman who as a child had nothing, no love from her family, no friends at school and a brother who was both abusive and controlling. The way she was treated as a child shaped her into an adult that knew little of the world and therefore she let others do things for her. John controlled her as a child.  Now he also controlled her as an adult making her believe that she was incapable of doing more than cooking his meals and looking after him. But a fateful accident makes her realise that she is not as useless or stupid as everyone in her life had led her to believe she was. But she is damaged goods no matter what angle I look at her from. My heart had sympathy for her but my head had none. She was largely an innocent party to all that was going on around her but she was also guilty. Guilty for turning a blind eye to her brother, guilty from inaction. This is one thing the author has captured clearly and presented so cleverly. A character you want to feel something compassion for even though they are not worthy of compassion when all is said and done.

A beautifully written story that flows well.  Keeping the reader engrossed in this dark, gritty and inviting tale that explores the darker side of human nature, then look no further than this debut novel from Catherine Burns


The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

queen of wishful thinking

Story Outline:

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?


My Review:

Book reviewed for Netgalley and Simon & Schuster (Australia)

I have heard a lot of great things about Milly Johnson books. When I saw this title was available through NetGalley, I thought why not see what everyone is talking about? I found to my surprise that people had not been exaggerating.

The Queen of Wishful Thinking is a book that I could happily read many times, in fact, it is a book that I could happily jump into and stay there. The characters are so alive that they become real as you immerse yourself into the story and into their lives. I found myself not wanting to put the book down; it is such a heartwarming element to it that you just want to sit down and read it. The author has a magical ability to make you become instant friends and enemies with her characters. Some will warm your heart and others will leave wanting to strangle them. One such character is Bonnie’s husband Stephen. He is the type of character that you despise with all your soul. He actually put me in mind of the character of Shaun Walsh from Circle of Friends. He has the same kind of vindictive controlling nature that makes your skin crawl. Whilst Lewis Harley was the complete opposite with his caring nature and gentlemanly manners. He stayed the gentleman all the way through the disastrous situation that he found himself in. I think will find him with many a female fan who reads this book. The antique dealers that sold their wares in Lewis shop were a motley crew of all personalities. When reading about them you could tell the author had been around people such as this. They were as true to life as if they were standing in the room with you. This story will make you laugh, make you cry. Most importantly it will give the reader insight into what real friendship and camaraderie are all about. When the world slips out from under Bonnies feet, it was wonderful to see people come to her defense.

Milly’s fans will no doubt love this new book with its array of colourful lovable characters. I am definitely going to be reading more books from this author in the future.

Warning: Strong language