*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com James Patterson, the world’s bestselling thriller writer, and my favourite Australian crime writer, Candice Fox,*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com James Patterson, the world’s bestselling thriller writer, and my favourite Australian crime writer, Candice Fox, have teamed up again for a new stand-alone novel. The Inn is this writing duo’s latest team composition. The Inn sees a band of misfits battling a drug lord, which is all set in the sleepy town of Gloucester, nestled against the New England region shoreline. The Inn instantly grabbed my attention and it refused to let go until the last word.
The action of the latest stand-alone thriller from James Patterson, with his partner Candice Fox, is set in Gloucester, in the vicinity of New England. Bill Robinson, a former detective from Boston, is the caretaker of an inn, which is a role he took on following the demise of his career. A new set of problems comes Bill’s way, when a crime spree takes place on his doorstep. In an attempt to overthrow the threats, violence, drugs dealing and criminal activity that is taking place in his territory, Bill knows what he has to do. With the help of the fellow residents of Bill’s inn, this troupe battles it out in an attempt to smoke out the trouble that has come knocking for the Gloucester community. The Inn is a story of life, death, choices, loyalties, grit and preservation.
The Inn immediately identifies who the good and bad guys and I liked this move by the authors, it was a little different. The good guys are Bill Robinson, the lead of this story, and his team of offbeat crusaders, who are the residents of Bill’s inn. I really loved this army, they were well rendered, flawed and very interesting to get to know. Fox and Patterson devote plenty of shared air time to this ensemble, so the audience feels a genuine connection to this likeable group. Within the group, Fox and Patterson have provided a good cross section of community members, each with their own set of problems. The cast really makes The Inn a highly readable book. Fox and Paterson have also opened up an opportunity for extension of this novel into a possible series in the future, through their approach to this stand-alone.
Anyhow, moving on, the distinct Pattersoneque style of short and succinct chapters, pretty much guarantees that the reader will race though this book at breakneck speed to reach the conclusion. Along the way, expect a small amount of predictability, along with some surprises, twists, turns and heavy losses character wise. This was a little hard for me to take, as I seemed to develop a sense of loyalty for this cast, but The Inn is a compulsive thriller and a death needed to occur for this story to progress. If you are a fan of undercover style police work, I feel The Inn will really draw appeal. With a set of protagonists leading the charge, comprising of an ex FBI agent, a former detective and returned solider, the narrative is certainly enhanced.
Many elements of The Inn compliment one another, so that this story really becomes a compelling thriller, combined with a brothers in arms style story. For me, the setting really enhanced the events of the novel. I loved the locale base of the inn, which is situated on a picturesque stretch of coastline in a small town, I found it be both inviting and intriguing. The cover really does the story justice and it certainly seduced me into selecting this book to read from my never ending review pile!
The Inn is a strong and fast paced story of good versus evil, loyalty, protection, justice, community spirit, revenge and valour. I can recommend The Inn to readers who have previously turned to the solo writing of either James Patterson or Candice Fox, or their successful collaborative efforts. This one won’t let you down!
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
The Inn is book #118 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com I am more than a little late to the party on this one, almost two years in fact! Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrig*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com I am more than a little late to the party on this one, almost two years in fact! Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is the debut novel by Jessica Townsend that created a storm in the publishing world when it initially released. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years, earning plenty of awards, accolades, praise and to the seal the deal, movie rights have been obtained. As this is a fantasy based children’s book, with comparisons made to Harry Potter (I hang my head in shame to say I am not fan) I have not indulged in this book until now. The need to find a book penned by an author under 35 for book bingo 2019 sent me in the direction of this novel. A quick search of the author indicated that Jessica Townsend is 34 years old, so she just scraped in for me! Although I could see just how much this book has to offer middle grade readers (aged 8-12) and even the young adult audience, I struggled to enjoy it. This could be down to my age, or my aversion to the fantasy/magical realism genre.
Still, there are plenty of positives that I feel fans of this genre and junior fiction readers will lap up. Morrigan is a great role model for younger children, she is bold, daring, adventurous and inquisitive. There are moments where Morrigan displays her humorous side to the audience, which made her endearing. It was also easy to develop a sense of sympathy towards Morrigan. She has been forever seen as a cursed child, blamed for everything that goes wrong and her family can’t wait to see her perish on her eleventh birthday – what a pitiful life! Thankfully, things look up for Morrigan when she is taken under the wing of an amazing character named Jupiter North. Things begin to spiral out of control for Morrigan, but her fate is sealed by the existence of Jupiter and the world of Nevermoor. This secret city is well rendered by Townsend, there is no doubt about it. In a true test of good versus evil and the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity, Morrigan faces up to her reality with some interesting results. I won’t say much more, but this is a story defined by plenty of swirl, twists, turns, dangerous stunts and a colourful cast. I did like the magical coloured umbrellas and the stars on the cover too, it was a nice touch.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is a magical journey full of whimsy, fun, exploration and self-acceptance. This book marks the start of an innovative series for young readers, with the third edition to be welcomed in the new year.
Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow is book #117 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘You were always unique, Abbie. Irreplaceable. A perfect wife. A perfect mother. The love of my life. Everyone s*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘You were always unique, Abbie. Irreplaceable. A perfect wife. A perfect mother. The love of my life. Everyone says that, don’t they? But I really meant it. After I lost you, plenty of people told me I should move on, find someone else to spend my life with. But I knew that was never going to happen. So I did this instead. Was I right to? I don’t know. But I had to try.’
Described as the “hottest new name in psychological fiction” JP Delaney returns with, The Perfect Wife. This riveting and thought provoking suspense filled thriller has a modern technological twist. The Perfect Wife is a ground breaking psychological tale that examines memory, obsession, relationships and trust. This one will draw you in from the start and continue to play with your mind until the final page.
The Perfect Wife is Abbie’s story. When the book opens Abbie finds herself in hospital, with her husband by her beside, but she doesn’t know who he is. Nor does Abbie have any memories of how she got to the hospital and why. She learns that her husband is a tech mogul. All this has a strong bearing on the woman Abbie has become. Little by little, Abbie learns more about her life. Abbie discovers that she is a gifted artist, a devoted mother and a loving wife. However, there is a twist to this tale, linked to a terrible accident five years earlier, and it strikes at the very heart of Abbie’s confusion about her current state of mind. Gradually, fragments of memories come to life for Abbie, presenting problems in her marriage. Abbie must consider if her husband is telling her the complete truth, and whether or not he can be trusted.
Wow, what an ethical minefield this book presented! The Perfect Wife is a progressive book of sorts, and although it has been marketed as a psychological thriller, in the same vein as the previous two books penned by the author, I would say The Perfect Wife is a breakthrough novel. It really situates itself in the here and now of our technology focussed world. We are continually finding ways to incorporate technology in our daily lives and The Perfect Wife is perhaps a forewarning of what it is come if we strive to advance technology in our current existence. It is a confronting and scary reality that really did send a shiver down my spine!
The structure of The Perfect Wife works to heighten the mood and events of the story. Told in part from the lead’s point of view, along with another protagonist, we get a well rounded view of the ins and outs of the narrative. There were a number of unexpected twists and a few ‘ah-hah’ moments that occurred while I read The Perfect Wife. Trust played a big factor in my approach this book, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of the lead male character, Abbie’s husband Tim. Despite my suspicions, I did find that The Perfect Wife was very readable, thanks to the smooth pacing and the line of suspense carefully drawn by the author.
The Perfect Wife is one of those books that you will want to talk about, mull over and even introduce to other like minded book friends, there are some really interesting concepts raised in this book. I am a fan of the Netflix series Black Mirror and The Perfect Wife immediately made me cast my mind back to an episode featuring Artificial Intelligence. In this particular episode, a woman who just couldn’t let of her dead husband purchased an AI version of her beloved. I won’t say any more for the spoiler factor issue, but this is really fascinating territory, which will blow your mind and it links directly to the ideas presented in The Perfect Wife! It is great to see an author think outside the box and present readers with a different style of novel in the psychological thriller category, a genre that I feel is very full at the moment. Readers will appreciate the theories presented in The Perfect Wife, and I guarantee this one will have you thinking hard until the bitter end.
Turn to The Perfect Wife, the third offering from popular thriller author JP Delaney, if you are after a novel with a twist. This is one is directly in touch with our tech savvy world, making it an up-to-the-minute read.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars It was a genuine pleasure to be acquainted with young Claire Malone, the lead protagonist of Nadia L. K*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars It was a genuine pleasure to be acquainted with young Claire Malone, the lead protagonist of Nadia L. King’s first foray in the picture book field with, Claire Malone Changes the World. A forward thinking, inspiring and essential picture book for young children, Claire Malone Changes the World would be an asset to any home or classroom library.
There is no denying that our current generation are big change makers, they are not afraid of questioning the status quo and they will go out of their way to implement new strategies to tackle everyday problems. In Claire Malone Changes the World, we have Claire, a young girl who aspires to great things. Claire is plagued by issues in her everyday world that require urgent action, attention and change. However, Claire’s efforts have seen her neglect other areas in her personal life, which is carefully touched on in this progressive children’s picture book.
Young adult fiction novelist Nadia L. King has turned her hand to children’s picture books and it is a joy to see this talented writer branch out into this category. In Claire Malone Changes the World, the reader will find a character that they can both connect with and look up to. King has also crafted her lead in such a way that we see the flaws and difficulties this young girl experiences. It allows Claire to be a seen in a sympathetic and likeable light. I loved the addition of Claire’s sidekick, her cat Marmalade, who came to life thanks to the bubbly illustration work of Alisa Knatko.
Nadia L. King and illustrator Alisa Knatko have clearly cultivated their partnership, in this book we see the best of their worlds married together in picture book harmony. King’s measured and carefully selected prose is matched to Knatko’s vibrant pencil work drawings. Each turn of the page was a visual spectacular and I have one page I utterly fell in love with. I would love this particular page blown up to poster size to adorn my classroom walls, it is such an aspiring image!
I put my teaching hat on while I read Claire Malone Changes the World and I was able to see just how adaptive this book would be to a number of teaching areas and subjects. In fact, there are a set of accompanying teaching notes now available to readers. From health, humanities and social sciences, civics, citizenship, values and even writing, this book compounds plenty of teachable moments within the one engaging text. The focus on the influence of technology on the lives of our young people is also explored, along with the need to return to a play based environment. I loved these very subtle messages, which adds so much to this strong children’s text.
Despite that fact that I am an adult reader, I felt empowered by Claire Malone Changes the World, a children’s book that really packs a punch. I look forward to celebrating the themes and achievements of Claire Malone, both in my school setting and with my own children. We definitely need more texts of this calibre and subject matter out there in the children’s picture book sphere, well done Nadia L. King!
Claire Malone Changes the World by Nadia L. King will be published in November 2019 by Dixi Books.
I wish to thank the author, Nadia L. King, for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Claire Malone Changes the World is book #116 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge ...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘As World War II loomed, Hitler authorised the implantation of Aktion T-4, a eugenics program designed to rid Ge*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com ‘As World War II loomed, Hitler authorised the implantation of Aktion T-4, a eugenics program designed to rid Germany of unwanted or undesirable citizens. The program’s headquarters were in Berlin, at number 4 Tiergartenstrasse, but its day-to-day operations took place in various institutions around the country, including the southern town of Hadamar.’
Hadamar: The House of Shudders, written by Jason K. Foster, author, poet, journalist and history teacher, is the author’s first foray into historical fiction for a young adult audience. It is a powerful, shocking and incredibly moving account, using the narration of a young girl of mixed descent, who finds herself in the centre of one of Nazi Germany’s most horrific policies, the cruel institutionalisation of the disabled. Hadamar: The House of Shudders reminds us of the strength of the human spirit to survive in the face of incredible adversity.
Hadamar: The House of Shudders introduces chief narrator Ingrid Marchand, a young girl living in Germany during the rise of Nazism. Ingrid is of mixed racial descent and it is her African appearance that enables her to become a target of one of Germany’s most cruel policies during the war. A product of racial prejudice, Ingrid becomes a target for both public scorn and persecution. Eventually, Ingrid is rounded up and taken to a facility, where she is forcibly sterilised. Soon after, Ingrid is locked up from society and her family in Hadamar, a specialised facility for the mentally ill and physically disabled. Hadamar is a place of true nightmares; patients are subjected to cruel medical procedures, starved and gassed. Ingrid is lucky to fall on the protection of a Doctor during her time in Hadamar. However, Ingrid’s time at Hadamar is precarious, and in order to guarantee her survival, she must summon all the strength she can to live. When Ingrid crosses paths with a German soldier convalescing in Hadamar, love sparks in this hostile environment. But Ingrid and her fellow inmates continue to face further hardship, as starvation and illness takes hold. Eventually, when the Americans liberate Hadamar, Ingrid is called upon as a witness to ensure that justice is achieved for all those who passed through the doors of Hadamar.
Hadamar: The House of Shudders is a 2019 Big Sky Publishing young adult novel, released by author Jason K. Foster, who has previously published books in the crime and history genres. Although intended for a young adult audience, I viewed Hadamar: The House of Shudders as an adult reader and I feel I got a lot of value from this book. I do need to issue a trigger warning for Hadamar: The House of Shudders, there are a number of graphic images and detailed passages that outline the cruel torture of the many victims of Hadamar. There were moments where I had to stop, rest, take a breath and return to this book when I was ready. It brought on many feelings including anger, dismay, regret, sickness and sadness. I have hope that this book will go the distance and work as a symbol of understanding, so that an event of this magnitude will never happen again in our existence.
Hadamar: The House of Shudders is divided into sixteen chapters, with an opening prologue and an epilogue. To help my basic high school level German language understanding only, a translation of many key phrases that appear at various points in the novel is included at the end. I did find Hadamar itself completely fascinating and it had me trawling through on an internet search while I was reading this novel. I was definitely hungry for more facts about this institution, as I had zero knowledge about this facility prior to reading Jason K. Foster’s novel. The book is told in a first person style narration, crossed with memoir format. Hadamar: The House of Shudders came across as extremely truthful, but also personalised, so we see the very human side to this horrific chapter in human history. It disappoints me yet again that I had no awareness of this institution and its practices. This book comes as a stark warning that we should never forget the atrocities of war, so that it may never be repeated again.
Hadamar: The House of Shudders is an essential textbook history in the guise of a young adult novel. The graphic content at times will hard to read, but there is no need to hide from history, this happened, we must knowledge it, share it and help to inform future generations of this dark chapter in our history books.
* I wish to thank Big Sky Publishing and Books On Tour for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Lucy Treloar, the award winning author of Salt Creek, returns to the literary scene with her second impressionis*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Lucy Treloar, the award winning author of Salt Creek, returns to the literary scene with her second impressionistic novel titled Wolfe Island. Set away from Australia on the fictional surrounds of the US marshlands of Chesapeake Bay, Wolfe Island is a dramatic, atmospheric and observant study of humanity in the face of climate disaster. Wolfe Island will haul you in from chapter one, until the endnote.
Kitty Hawke is the central and lone protagonist in Lucy Treloar’s second novel. Kitty is the last inhabitant on an island located in the Chesapeake Bay region in the United States. Kitty knows that one day, due to the rising seas, her island retreat will be swallowed by the ocean. One day Kitty’s secluded existence changes when a family member arrives on the shores of her island, requesting safety. While Kitty struggles to accept that her solo existence may have come to an end, she cannot turn her own granddaughter away in her time of need. When a dangerous threat comes to attack Kitty’s granddaughter, Kitty must make the ultimate sacrifice. What follows is a perilous journey as Kitty and her offspring must find safety
Wolfe Island is quite the departure from Salt Creek, the first novel penned by Lucy Treloar, which I read back in 2017. Where Salt Creek was set on our shores and in the past, Wolfe Island is set in the near future and in the US. However, these two books have the ocean in common, which is a themed carried over from one book to the other.
Revisiting the writing of Lucy Treloar reminded of what a command of prose she possesses. Treloar’s words are lyrical, drifting and incredibly vivid. The imagery is dense and Treloar manages the squeeze in as much detail as she can about the surrounding environment, nature, flora and fauna within the observant pages of this novel. It really is a gift for the literary minded reader.
The sense of place, ultimate destruction, doom and foreboding that is expressed within the pages of Wolfe Island is ever strong. Treloar is a delicate storyteller, weaving an intricate story, complete with unexpected deviations, turns, moments of revelation and suspense. The structure taken by Lucy Treloar to Wolfe Island increases the engagement of the reader in this novel. The book is divided into three set parts and there are time shifts, which are often marked by seasonal changes. Accompanying the main narrative crux are observations made by Kitty, lists of visitors to the island, inventories of trash items collected on the island, lists of dragonflies, emergency survival pack items, wish-lists and show pieces. These additional aspects all culminate to provide another layer to this complex story. There were times where I had to really concentrate to situate myself in the locale and happenings in Wolfe Island, but once I settled into the flow of this novel I did enjoy it.
There are a range implicit themes that Lucy Treloar draws our attention to in her second novel. These include, human bonds, family ties, love, relationships, obligations, protection, trust, isolation, survival, dislocation, sanctuary and inequality. The broader concept of climate change, stemming from the changing nature of the ocean, serves as a forewarning of what is to come if we continue to abuse, rather than respect our environment. With the aid of a strong and mature female protagonist, with her loyal canine companion, Wolfe Island is an unusual and compelling cautionary tale from Lucy Treloar.
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Wolfe Island is book #113 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Rogue: The Vault Book 2, is a 2019 Pan Macmillan publication, written by Perth based author A.J. Betts. Rogue is*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Rogue: The Vault Book 2, is a 2019 Pan Macmillan publication, written by Perth based author A.J. Betts. Rogue is the sequel to Hive, which was released last year. A thrilling, creative and imaginative young adult novel, Rogue completely immerses the reader in a brave new world. Rogue is an essential read for those who have previously enjoyed Hive, as it offers a propulsive conclusion to the Vault series.
Rogue follows the intriguing story of Hayley, who is free from her previous sheltered life and is now ‘rogue’. Leaving behind the only life she known, Hayley struggles to come to terms with her new existence. This new world Hayley inhabits is free from her comforts, but it may offer her a sense of place and belonging. The second and final novel in this dystopian series comes to a heart pounding conclusion, as the lead of the story weighs up her options in this potentially hostile new world.
A.J. Betts has collected plenty of praise and accolades since her groundbreaking novel, Hive, which was released last year. Betts has an impressive list of awards to her name. I was pleased to see that A.J. Betts was shortlisted for a number of awards last year for Hive. Those who were able to indulge in the experience of reading Hive last year will really welcome Rogue, the two cannot be separated in my opinion. I know there are many out there that wanted some more answers and closure following the ending of Hive, which has made room for Rogue.
Yet again, I found myself taken aback by the world Betts is able to present to her audience. I am a little jealous of the wild imagination and ability Betts has to transfer this dimension from her mind to the page, in such a vivid framework. It takes great skill as a writer to transport the reader from the comfort of their home, to such a strange and eerie future. Betts has the skills and determination to make this work. I welcomed the water experiences in Rogue very much, and I am sure the striking setting will sit well with a wide audience base.
I am familiar with the lead of this novel, thanks to my experience with Hive. In Hayley, Betts has released a character with many connective and positive traits, but there were times where I felt my age and distance as adult reader of a young adult focussed novel. I did observe that Hayley appeared to be a real hero and the reader will want to cheer her on, every step of the way. Surrounding Hayley is the community in which she inhibits, which is expressed well on the pages of Rogue.
There are plenty of taking points in this Rogue, the concepts range from the treatment of refugees, displacement, belonging, acceptance, hope, friendship, the environment and evolution. For a young adult novel, Rogue has covered new ground. I’m keen to see what A.J. Betts conjures up next, I’m sure it will be inventive!
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and Pan Macmillan. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here.
Rogue is book #111 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Following the publication of The Greater Good in 2018, author Tim Ayliffe has released his second novel*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Following the publication of The Greater Good in 2018, author Tim Ayliffe has released his second novel, State of Fear. A white knuckle political thriller, State of Fear again features John Bailey, a complex but intriguing lead, who displays a sense of dogged determination in his quest to seek retribution for a terrorist attack.
State of Fear follows The Greater Good, which was released last year to great success. Penned by an author who knows the ins and outs of world news, currents events and international relations, thanks to his work as a decorated journalist, State of Fear is a book that hits the ground running. It begins with a deadly but defining terrorist attack, which directly impacts the lead protagonist of Tim Ayliffe’s novel, John Bailey. This former war correspondent witnesses a horrific act of terrorism in London. He soon learns that the individual responsible for the attack is a man known to him, he is the very same man who tormented Bailey a decade ago in Iraq. As John Bailey grapples with the knowledge of this terrorist’s vendetta, the attacks continue and they hit much closer to home. With the help of a number of key allies, John Bailey must defeat this terrorist mastermind before it is too late.
With a front cover endorsement from an author I respect very much, Sara Foster, stating Tim Ayliffe’s work is ‘sharp, incisive and scarily prescient’, I was soon intrigued in this title. Although I haven’t read the first book by Tim Ayliffe, I didn’t feel I had missed anything. State of Fear could easily be read as a standalone title. I tend not to gravitate towards political thrillers, but as this one was set on home soil for a significant portion of the novel, so I definitely felt a connection to this piece.
Working as the current Managing Editor of television and video for ABC, as well as his many years as a journalist, has provided Tim Ayliffe with a wealth of experience to draw on in composing his novels. Ayliffe is aware of the world climate, current news trends, acts of terrorism, political relations and international issues. His second novel is very here and now, as well as up to the minute, capturing the very essence of the global atmosphere.
John Bailey, the central protagonist of State of Fear, is a returning character, as he featured in The Greater Good, the previous novel penned by Tim Ayliffe. The character development of John Bailey is this book’s strong point. I got a very good feel for this character’s good points and bad points. I also enjoyed his interactions with the key figures in his personal and professional life. The secondary character set are also well rounded. The dialogue is fast and flowing, with an authentic edge. I was struck at many times by the visual quality of this book, it was almost like a television script playing out in front of my eyes. I’m sure this is a sign that this series is destined for the big screen!
There are many themes to draw from in Tim Ayliffe’s second novel, from journalism and reporting, to the war, PTSD, relationships, terrorism, political and international relations. State of Fear is in a constant state of movement from the moment the first page has been turned. This novel pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go until the final parting chapter. I would recommend State of Fear to readers of action packed thrillers, who appreciate a political edge to their storylines.
State of Fear by Tim Ayliffe was published on 1st August 2019 by Simon & Schuster Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
*I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*Book #8 of the 2019 Aussie male author challenge....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com If you are panicking that Father’s Day is fast approaching and you have no idea what to give the special dad in*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com If you are panicking that Father’s Day is fast approaching and you have no idea what to give the special dad in your life, the man that has everything, here is the perfect gift idea! I Love My Dad Because is the follow on from the Mother’s Day edition of I Love My Mum Because by Petra James and Alissa Dinallo. It is yet another fantastic picture book that has a creative and innovative edge, allowing your child or children to personalise this book for the Dad figure in their life.
A special book to be passed on from a child to a loving parent, I Love My Dad Because is the latest collaborative effort from the very talented partnership of accomplished author Petra James and Alissa Dinallo, a fabulous book designer. Together, this duo have crafted an innovative picture book that can be adapted to the individual child and parent the book is intended for. A base template containing 32 pages bursting with colour, fun and busy bee activity, I Love My Dad Because is jam packed with memorable pages to fill in. From drawing simple pictures of Dad, and making handprints that last a lifetime, this book provides many opportunities for a child to go that extra mile in making their Father’s Day, birthday or Christmas present for Dad a special one indeed.
As a mother of two young children myself, I always find it impossible to come up with new and original ideas gift wise for Father’s Day and birthdays too. I Love My Dad Because is an excellent present to pass on to the men in our lives from their children. Personally, I loved the growth chart double spread, where the child is able to record their height changes on a tree outline. I also connected with the brightly decorated fireworks page, which asks the child to count the number of fireworks in the sky. The spot the bed bugs page gave me a chuckle. The page that asked for a set of ‘why’ questions for the child to ask their Dad was such a great idea. I liked how this particular activity was designed to encourage a child’s natural curiosity about the world around them, nurturing a sense of inquiry. There are many opportunities to engage in activities that promote alphabet knowledge, counting, fine motor skills through maze work, colour awareness and creating story narratives. It is a book that could be embraced by children from 3 to seven years, but it could easily be extended to children slightly younger, or older – beyond these age brackets.
I Love My Dad Because is a book to be shared, enjoyed, personalised and celebrated. If you haven’t found a gift yet for Father’s Day, add this one to your shopping basket.
I wish to thank Pan Macmillan for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
I Love My Dad Because is book #107 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com/ USA Today bestselling author Beth Prentice has penned the 15th book in the Aloha Mysteries series. Fatal Break*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com/ USA Today bestselling author Beth Prentice has penned the 15th book in the Aloha Mysteries series. Fatal Break is the latest title in this cosy mystery collection. Featuring an appealing lead, and an intriguing mystery for the reader to solve, Fatal Break represents another entertaining adventure in this colourful series.
At the opening of this novel it seems like life is beach for Samantha Reynolds, the lead character of Fatal Break. With her love life, professional life and friendships all thriving, things couldn’t be better! But all this changes when a dead body is discovered and the chief suspect is Sam’s best friend. Sam must do all she can to prove her friend’s innocence. It is a race against time to clear Sam’s friend, Alani’s name. At the same time, Sam must keep her head above water, as this case proves to be both tricky and dangerous.
Fatal Break is the 15th instalment in the Aloha Lagoon Mysteries series and it represents the first book I have read in this set. It is always a little daunting going into a new series, especially as this is such a long running collection. However, my impression from reading Fatal Break with absolutely no prior experience of the other books in this series, is that this novel can be read as a standalone. I do wish that I had more time in my reading schedule to catch up on the previous books in this collection, but I did enjoy this issue.
Hawaii has long been on my travel bucket list and I know that I will be unable to get to this slice of paradise any time soon. In the meantime, I was happy to jump on board and immerse myself in a few hours of tropical themed entertainment, complete with a cracking mystery to solve.
Beth Prentice has provided the reader with a clear picture of her lead Samantha (Sam) Reynolds. Sam is likeable and genuine. She is also determined and full of ingenuity. Sam is not afraid to stand up for who, and what she believes in, which I respected very much. Running alongside Sam’s character are a firm set of secondary characters that embellish the unfolding narrative.
In terms of the mystery side of the narrative, this was well executed on behalf of the author. I enjoyed being toyed with – there were plenty of twists, turns, diversions, misunderstandings and suspects. I wasn’t able to guess the final turn of events, which pleased and surprised me.
The Aloha Lagoon, a seemingly perfect idyll, with a penchant for dead bodies and mysteries to solve, is at the heart of Fatal Break. This new volume in the series is not to be missed if you enjoyed the previous issues in the series, or you are simply searching for a new cosy mystery novel to devour.
*I wish to thank the author, Beth Prentice, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Fatal Break is book #108 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Debut author Allison Dickson of The Other Mrs Miller was led on a path of writing dark thriller and suspense nov*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Debut author Allison Dickson of The Other Mrs Miller was led on a path of writing dark thriller and suspense novels after experiencing success with her 2013 Indie horror title, Strings. This July her first novel dropped in the hands of readers and she certainly delivers a story full of unexpected twists.
The Other Mrs Miller begins with Phoebe, a socialite of sorts, who fills her days with very little. All this is about to change when a mysterious car begins to make its presence known. Phoebe believes that this car may connected to her father, who recently passed away – shrouded in scandal. Then the reader meets an observer, a figure who is waiting to pounce at just the right moment. What is this person’s connection to a bored housewife? Adding to the swirling suspension are a new set of neighbours for Phoebe to contend with. It provides Phoebe with an opportunity to focus her attention away from the strange car and the feeling that she is being constantly watched. However, Phoebe is letting her guard down, providing the perfect grounds for someone to create chaos in her life.
A book filled with delicious secrets, polarising plot twists and shady characters defines The Other Mrs Miller from debut novelist Allison Dickson. Breaking out in the domestic suspense field with this standout novel, Allison Dickson ensures that her audience is putty in her hands as she delivers plenty of startling moments in The Other Mrs Miller.
As soon as I met Phoebe, the bored housewife of Allison Dickson’s new novel, I wasn’t quite sure we to make of her. I didn’t know if I liked Phoebe, or if I could trust her. Phoebe is just one of many characters in this novel that are impossible to pin down. I think this is deliberate ploy on behalf of the author to play a number of mind tricks with the reader. In fact, The Other Mrs Miller is filled with suspect characters, dead ends, wrong turns and shocking twists. The use of a number of perspectives to unfurl this compelling story adds another bewildering layer to this clever thriller. For a first time novelist, I feel that Dickson’s style is confident and very readable, hooking the reader in from the opening, to the very close of the novel.
I would have loved to have read The Other Mrs Miller in one sitting, but unfortunately I had to stretch this one over the working week. The style of writing, the complex characters and the story at hand, begs this one to be read over a short period of time. The Other Mrs Miller is a great domestic noir addition to the shelves of thriller and suspense fans.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Gideon Haigh, a well respected journalist and prolific non fiction author chronicles the life and death of Molli*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Gideon Haigh, a well respected journalist and prolific non fiction author chronicles the life and death of Mollie Dean, a woman viciously attacked at the age of just twenty five years old in a laneway in Melbourne. Not only is A Scandal in Bohemia a thorough true crime investigation, it is also a biography and a rich glimpse into Melbourne’s art world in the 1930s. Factual, informative and meticulously researched, Haigh places a fresh set of eyes on a notorious cold case from Australia’s past.
After reading The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Koviac, I found I really enjoyed the fictionalised account of Molly Dean’s life and her murder. I was eager to find out more about this fascinating historical case and I was lucky to be able to turn to my copy of A Scandal in Bohemia by Gideon Haigh. Published in 2018, the same year as The Portrait of Molly Dean, this non fiction book aims to give an account of the life and times of Mollie Dean.
When I first opened A Scandal in Bohemia I was immediately struck by just how many books Gideon Haigh has to his name. These non fiction titles range from historical true crime, to sports and political stories. Haigh’s range is incredible to say the least, and I feel a little guilty in not coming across his work before. After reading The Portrait of Molly Dean I was hungry for more information on this famous case and tragic figure. This book delivered, but as the focus was on facts and an overview of sources, there were times where it was quite dry.
Where Haigh really finds his groove in A Scandal in Bohemia is the through examination into 1930s Melbourne. Haigh opens our eyes to the Bohemian circle, and name drops plenty of well known figures. It can be a little hard to keep on top of all these notable figures! I did feel like I got to know the world in which Mollie Dean drifted in and out of, as well as the people she interacted with. It also gave me a good picture of Mollie as the aspiring writer she longed to be.
There is plenty of speculation about this case, which Haigh depicts well in A Scandal in Bohemia. Haigh has trawled through so many different records and sources in an attempt to give the reader a solid overview of the case. What amazed me the most but also disappointed me was Mrs Dean, Mollie’s mother, who clearly was guilty about something!
Another area that I found illuminating was Mollie’s legacy in the world of literature. Mollie’s case is loosely depicted in the book and screen version of My Brother Jack. Haigh also directs our interest to other books that focus on the Bohemian art set in Melbourne, who were closely linked to Mollie.
Haigh’s approach to this book is very methodical. A Scandal in Bohemia is structured clearly with seventeen separate chapters, along with an introduction, epilogue, acknowledgements, bibliography and image montage, at the half way point of the book. Haigh devotes the first half of the book to setting the scene for the tragedy that is to occur. He outlines Mollie’s background, family history and life leading up to her murder. Once the murder is discussed at the half way point in the book, plenty of information is hurled at the reader to decipher, in terms of suspects and what actually happened that fateful night. What surprised me the most about Haigh’s investigation into Mollie’s murder was the horrific details of the attack and how Mollie was not killed by her attacker, but left for dead, before she later passed away once authorities arrived on the scene. It is a sad and sorry state of affairs. It also is a complete waste of a life for a young woman who represented aspiration, intelligence and fearlessness.
A tribute to a woman who was in her prime when her life was tragically cut short, A Scandal in Bohemia offers a direct insight into the art world in Melbourne, the key figures that influenced this creative set, and their impact on Mollie Dean. Haigh’s approach to this complex but fascinating historical true crime case is sufficient enough to draw in the watchful eyes of Australian history buffs, art connoisseurs and crime enthusiasts. I’m still perplexed by the case of Mollie Dean…
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars If you place your trust in the master of suspense, Megan Miranda, you will be issued with a riveting an*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars If you place your trust in the master of suspense, Megan Miranda, you will be issued with a riveting and lightning-fast mystery, according to bestselling author Mary Kubica. The Last House Guest is a tale of wealth, class distinctions, friendship, murder and menace. The hooking premise will reel you in from the start, as you negotiate a series of clever twists and turns.
Based in the small coastal town of Littleport, Maine, The Last House Guest highlights a town divided. A popular spot for affluent holidaymakers, the Littleport local community struggles to make an alliance with these vacationers. Two women have defied these odds when they forge a friendship that surpasses the holidaymaker and local resident divide. Year after year, the friendship between Avery and Sadie is strengthened. But things come to a head when Sadie is found dead. While the authorities rule Sadie’s death as suicide, others believe Sadie’s death is definitely suspicious. The blame is shifted to Avery, who must do everything she can to ensure her reputation is not blemished and at the same time, find out what really happened to Sadie.
Megan Miranda won me over when she released All the Missing Girls, a book I recommend highly to thriller and mystery fans. The Last House Guest got off to a very promising start. The opening piece titled ‘The Plus-One Party’ really set the mood for the unfolding story. I was definitely intrigued and I liked the use of the split timeline style of narrative. The Last House Guest moves between the summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018 respectively, to slowly unfurl this puzzling narrative.
The Last House Guest situates itself very well in the central locale, a sleepy coastal town based in Maine. I have never had the pleasure of visiting this part of the world, but Megan Miranda takes care of things in this department. As a result, I developed a strong visual feel for the town of Littleport, its little quirks and the townsfolk that populate this locale. The setting is one of the highlights of this novel, helping to extend on the rocky atmosphere that pervades the bulk of The Last House Guest.
Megan Miranda is adept in the characterisation department. Miranda draws a clear caricature of her lead, Avery, and the victim of the story, Sadie. She also extends this heavy grip on her characters to the support cast. Due to the nature of the characters and the story, it was hard to develop a liking to these protagonists and I did feel like many were just too entitled for me to care about their preoccupations!
In terms of the central mystery around Sadie’s death, in typical Megan Miranda style I was never quite sure where I stood in the department and what to expect. There were a handful of twists, turns, deflections and moments where I was bamboozled. I wasn’t able to guess the final outcome, which I welcomed. I will say that after reading All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda, The Last House Guest didn’t have quite the same pull as its predecessor, but it still provided an evening of entertainment for this reader.
The Last House Guest is an enticing mystery novel that puts the spotlight on class differences, long standing friendships, innuendo, secrets and conflicts. The Last House Guest is one that will keep thriller and suspense fans content.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Australian author Barbara Toner is back, with the follow on to last year’s hit novel, Four Respectable Ladies Se*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Australian author Barbara Toner is back, with the follow on to last year’s hit novel, Four Respectable Ladies Seek Part-Time Husband. The new title and sequel is, Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife. This is a really interesting question – and the unfolding story explores marriage, spousal expectations, love, life and the confines of the Great Depression era, from a rural Australian perspective. Fans of the previous book, as well as the writer Rosalie Ham, will appreciate all this novel has to offer.
We all know marriage isn’t easy, it is hard work to cultivate. For the four respectable ladies of Prospect, a tiny rural setting in New South Wales, every day brings a new challenge in the marriage department. These are hard times, for the country and the world at large, dealing with the grips of the Depression. To be a spouse, both a wife and husband, is tough. The women of Prospect know how hard it can be. While one of the foursome returns home after fleeing to the city in disgrace, she now has her sights set on a much revered man of the town. Meanwhile, another finds herself coping with being a new widow. One has big aspirations – she hopes to build something exciting on the business front, but her plans seem to be hampered by her husband. The last of the foursome is harbouring a huge secret from her own spouse. As each of these women in turn deal with their individual set of problems in the love, life and marriage department, another vexing problem arrives, testing each to their limits.
It was a nice feeling, a little like reunion with family members when I opened up Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife to begin my reading journey. Again, I was struck by the fabulous and very catchy title Barbara Toner has applied to the sequel to her 2018 release. It was great to reconnect with many of the characters from the first novel, to see how they had progressed or regressed, and meet some new faces. There are plenty of fresh townsfolk for the reader to meet as they work their way through the pages of this novel.
For me, the best feature of Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife is the fabulous and very well drawn Australian rural setting. I loved Toner’s recreation of Prospect, a tiny rural township located in New South Wales. I felt like a member of this town from the moment in stepped into this novel and it was a nice feeling. Toner also produces some excellent world building, highlighting the issues at stake from a remote setting dealing with the impact of the great depression. It certainly opened up my eyes to the devastation experienced by the Australian rural community at this time. Not only were financial issues at stake, but many were faced with extra pressures on their families, marriage, business connections, livelihoods, friendships and community relations. It was such a hard point in time, but I am glad Toner was able to vividly recreate this period for readers such as myself, to develop a greater understanding of what our previous generations endured.
Although there are some serious aspects to Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife, there is a wonderfully dark satirical tone, with some gentle undercurrents of humour to keep the reader in check. I think this is a great balance and Toner appears to have further refined this style of writing in her latest novel. There were times where I had a little chuckle at the events and the behaviours of the Prospect community. I particularly enjoyed the dressmaking sequences. There was a definite sense of jest and invention that accompanies many of the sequences in this novel, which works to offset the hard times experienced by the women and their community.
If you are after a great sketch of Australia in times past, Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife is a fabulous place to explore early twentieth century Australia. Toner’s use of a split style of narration of four very different women undergoing shared experiences, makes for a compelling read. While this novel was wrapped up nicely, I would be interested to see where Barbara Toner travels next.
*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Four Respectable Ladies Seek the Meaning of Wife is book #105 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com What Happens Now? is the latest hilarious rom com from British author Sophia Money-Coutts. A book that delves in*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com What Happens Now? is the latest hilarious rom com from British author Sophia Money-Coutts. A book that delves into the modern dating world, first date mistakes, life changing circumstances, friendships and family, the second novel from Sophia Money-Coutts is a bubbly romp from start to finish.
Nursing a broken heart after the demise of an eight year relationship, Lil Bailey delves into the online dating world in attempt to get over her ex. She lines up a date with rich, handsome and adventurous Max. The date goes surprisingly well on all fronts, but then Max disappears from Lil’s life. The situation is compounded when Lil realises she is pregnant with Max’s child. Still very single and hardly equipped to deal with parenthood, Lil struggles to accept her impending future as a mother. Lil knows she must try and track Max down, even though he has been ignoring her. When Lil eventually hunts Max down, she is confronted with a harsh reality. They come from completely different worlds, and will one of Britain’s most eligible bachelors accept his new role as a parent?
With the back of What Happens Now? covered in praise, beginning with worldwide bestselling author Jilly Cooper, and concluding with established British newspaper the Evening Standard, my initial interest in Sophia Money-Coutts’ second novel was definitely high. Sophia Money-Coutts is a new author to me and I always appreciate exploring the work of unknown authors. I had some opening expectations with the novel. I guessed it would be a funny and light romantic comedy. I was correct in these assumptions, but there was definitely a slightly serious tone to the issues covered in What Happens Now?.
I enjoyed the glimpse this novel offered in terms of the current day dating climate. It was sad to see Lil go through the upset of the demise of her long term relationship. On the other hand, I admired Lil for getting out there and tackling the online dating world – I know I certainly wouldn’t! Lil was pretty lucky to encounter Max on her first date swipe! However, I did question Max’s intentions and his character when he failed to contact Lil after their date, effectively ‘ghosting’ her. My heart went out the Lil during these sequences in the book.
What Happens Now? changes tact when Lil makes the shock discovery that she is pregnant with Max’s child, following their date. It is easy to sympathise with Lil, thanks to the way in which Sophia Money-Coutts has crafted her lead. Drawing the support cast in closely to these aspects of the book was definitely entertaining, as well as heart-warming. The secondary cast are varied and interesting, adding something extra to this fairly standard ‘girl meet boy and finds herself pregnant’ scenario. At times I often got the feeling that this novel would transfer well onto the screen as a classic British rom com.
What I liked about Lil was her willingness to accept motherhood without any doubts, despite the fact that she was definitely faced with the prospect of doing it all alone, thanks to the illusive Max. Sophia Money-Coutts take a strong stance in these sequences and the accounts of impending motherhood, as well as pregnancy, was surprisingly frank for a rom com title.
Another aspect I appreciated about What Happens Now? was Lil’s profession. Working as a teacher of five year olds in an exclusive all boys school, was a really interesting career angle. It was a nice contrast to Max’s own profession as a mountaineer. As a teacher myself, I really enjoyed these areas of the book as they came across as truthful, funny and entertaining.
The love aspect of the book is what drives this novel, along with the pregnancy, and the high emotions of the situation that Lil is confronted with. The romance is a sweet one, with a few hot and heavy moments, which I am sure chick lit fans will lap up. For me, the raw honesty and often crass explanations of some areas of the book didn’t quite suit my tastes, but others may appreciate these areas of the book. The ending came fairly fast and it did make we wonder if a sequel is in the works. I am sure time will tell in this department.
A book that conveys the world of modern dating, mistakes, choices and facing up to your future encircles What Happens Now?. Relatable, honest and utterly outrageous, this novel should tick all the boxes for chick lit fans.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert returns with a blockbuster historical fiction ta*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars #1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert returns with a blockbuster historical fiction tale titled, City of Girls. Full of glitz, glamour, femininity, friendship, war and life lessons, City of Girls will enthrall, from the very first page – until the final word.
Behind the feathery shroud that adorns the front cover of City of Girls, is the breathtaking story of Vivian Morris. We first meet Vivian in the summer of 1940, as a nineteen year old girl. Vivian has been sent to live in New York with her formidable Aunt Peg, by her disappointed parents. Vivian takes her loyal sewing machine with her, and it isn’t long before she puts her skills to good use in the bright lights of New York City. Vivian gains employment with her Aunt Peg at the Lily Playhouse, as their resident seamstress. This run down theatre complex is the home to a famous troupe of showgirls, who tread the boards every night, charming audiences with their risqué routines. Vivian is soon initiated in the wild and reckless lifestyle inhabited by the showgirls at the Lily Playhouse. Immersed in a daily world that swirls with endless drinks and sexual interludes, Vivian learns a life changing lesson when she makes a serious error of judgement. This altercation has a long lasting impact on the life Vivian chooses to lead from that moment on.
City of Girls is the highly anticipated new novel from worldwide bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat Pray Love fame. I will admit upfront that I almost gave up on this book in the early stages. The sexual experiences that the lead Vivian and her company undertake in the first half of the book didn’t appeal to me at all. However, I persisted and put my faith in Elizabeth Gilbert. City of Girls morphed into quite the dazzling read in the end!
City of Girls is a stunning period piece, it lives and breathes New York City in the 1940s. Gilbert has meticulously researched her time period and it clearly shows through all elements of this magnificent narrative. I often felt intoxicated by the sights, sounds, smells, feels and general morale depicted by the author in this novel. It was rich, delectable and I couldn’t get enough. Gilbert’s treatment of the theatre revue scene is just as good. I was entranced by this world, which although was so far away, seemed so close I could touch it while reading Gilbert’s lyrical and detailed passages.
Vivian is a charismatic lead and I really enjoyed the style of narration employed by Gilbert. A nostalgic glance of a life well lived is utilised by the author to retell Vivian’s compelling story, as she traces back to her tumultuous youth. I liked the use of the letter style mode of storytelling as Vivian recounts her life experiences to Angela, a recipient we learn she has a connection to in the later stages of the novel. I appreciated this subtle sense of mystery.
I actually chose City of Girls as our monthly book club pick and I am so pleased I did, despite some initial reservations. The second half of this novel is where I really fell in love with this book. Gilbert magically weaves a story that depicts a strong atmosphere of war, against a study of femininity, a coming of age piece and a careful consideration of the impact of guilt. Vivian’s story is a heady and colourful one, filled with many interesting characters, as well as full experiences, that will remain with you once the final sentence has been read.
Take a chance on Elizabeth Gilbert’s new release, City of Girls. It may not entice you to begin with and you may encounter initial teething problems, but investment in this historical fiction showpiece will reap you plenty of reading rewards....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Author Rania Battany poses some thought provoking questions in her novel, Fleeting Moments. An emotional story t*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Author Rania Battany poses some thought provoking questions in her novel, Fleeting Moments. An emotional story that packs a punch, Fleeting Moments considers the impact of loss, heartbreak, family estrangement, loneliness, career crisis and uncertainty.
Imagine if your life was at its lowest point and all you have to keep going are the ‘fleeting moments’. These glimpses of hope and happiness are what drives Maya, the central character in Rania Battany’s latest novel. While Maya struggles to stay motivated in her job, which seems to be going nowhere, she is also dealing with loneliness. With next to no friends or family to lean on, Maya’s life’s hits rock bottom when her relationship breaks down due to infidelity. It sends Maya, who is already is a dark place, spiralling into an abyss of unhappiness. But there is light at the end of this tunnel, when a man appears in Maya’s life, at just the right time. This man, Sam, is exactly what Maya needs, but she is the only one who refuses to see it. Will this gentle soul help Maya overcome her insecurities and past grievances?
Life lit is one of my favourite sub genres and it is really getting a fabulous boost thanks to the many talented Australian contemporary fiction novelists that grace our publishing sector. Rania Battany is a new face to me, but she has written two full length novels, with another romantic drama on its way. What struck me most about Fleeting Moments was Battany’s intention for this novel. Battany states:
“With Fleeting Moments, I wanted to create a heroine that was flawed, and Maya is seriously flawed. I often read stories with strong, independent and powerful woman, and while these characters empower others, I can never relate. I wanted to create a character who had to fight her way to happiness after loss, not only of a loved one but the loss of connection with themselves and others – the loss of self identity and relationships.”
Battany has certainly captured these feelings and more in her novel. Fleeting Moments is a sensitive tale, full of life’s bruises and knocks. It is presented in an emotional, but very real format, so the reader is able to relate at many points. This is the key to a successful life lit novel in my eyes and Battany has nailed it.
What was interesting about Maya, the central character in Fleeting Moments, is that the author has intentionally decided to present her lead in a less favourable light. Maya will get under your skin, she will test you, make you laugh, cry and ball your fists together in anger. However, what she experiences is the harsh reality of life in our contemporary world. We will all unfortunately experience loss, heartbreak, relationship tensions and for many, life can be a lonely one in our tech savy world. We can doubt ourselves, make ill choices and refuse to accept happiness when it comes our way. This is just a glimpse of what to expect when selecting Fleeting Moments to read.
It may sound like Fleeting Moments is a bleak occasion, but be rest assured, there is plenty of light, which comes from the Sam, a ray of sunshine and Maya’s love interest. There are other glimpses throughout the novel that Maya’s life is about to improve, but she needs to accept it – which is half the battle!
Fleeting Moments will rattle you to your emotional core, it will twist you every which way, but it is a subtle reminder – in the guise of an engaging life lit style narrative, that life isn’t always hearts and roses. Life is tough, but we can make the most of things to achieve a happier existence – if we let others in and broaden our horizons. I recommend Fleeting Moments to fans of contemporary fiction.
* Thanks extended to the author for a copy of this book for review purposes.
Fleeting Moments is book #103 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars Rhys Bowen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, who has published a range of award win*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 4.5 stars Rhys Bowen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, who has published a range of award winning historical fiction novels. The Victory Garden, published in 2019, is her latest a standalone historical fiction title. Set in the last year of World War I, it is the story of a young woman who experiences love, loss, duty, commitment and independence, during a time of great uncertainty. It is a compelling period piece that demanded my undivided attention from the opening page, to the final word.
The Victory Garden is a stunning portrait of the final stages of the Great War, that places an emphasis on relations on the home front. It tells the story of a determined young woman, Emily Bryce, who wants to break free from the stiff clutches of her sheltered home and contribute to the war effort. When Emily encounters a charismatic Australian pilot, her life is turned upside down. She embraces her new independence and she falls desperately in love with the dashing Australian. Much to ire of her parents, who would rather Emily settle for a man close to home, Emily falls into the arms of her brave pilot. Emily accepts his proposal, just as he is shipped off for another death defying mission in the air. To keep her mind off the danger faced by her beloved, Emily throws all her energy into her work as a land girl. Emily’s role as a fully fledged land girl sees her posted to the stately home of Lady Charlton on a substantial estate. In the run down cottage on the estate grounds that Emily calls home, she makes a startling discovery. A legacy left by those who once resided in the cottage lives on. Emily is inspired to carry on their work, as a herbalist. It is a welcome distraction for Emily, especially when she discovers some shocking news about her Australian airman. Nursing a broken heart, Emily must pick up the pieces of her broken life, as she is about to face the biggest battle she has even known – alone.
The Victory Garden proved to be a truly delightful piece of historical fiction. I do love stories about the Great War, and Bowen’s book was a slight departure from the usual books I have read set in this time period. Bowen has based The Victory Garden in the latter stages of the war, a different move that I appreciated very much. It provided an alternative bird’s eye view of the war, with much emphasis placed on the impact of the Great War on the home front. Bowen focuses much of her book on the impact of the loss of loved ones had on those left behind. The devastating emotions experienced by mothers, fathers, grandmothers, siblings, loved ones and friends. Everyone was stretched to their emotional limit and Bowen does an excellent job of depicting the very heart of the feelings expressed by those left behind.
As this is a home front based novel, there is a strong emphasis on the work of the hardworking division known as the ‘Land Army’. These were able bodied women from all walks of life, across Britain, who bravely volunteered to do their bit for their country. Bowen outlines the huge dent left by the men who went away to fight in the war. The author also looks at the high death rate. As a result, a large gap was felt in the farming and agricultural areas of work. Emily, the lead, answers to this call, boldly defying her family who would rather she not work at all following the loss of their only son. This area of the book highlights the class differences and expectations that were prevalent at this time. Emily’s parents are absolutely horrified, rather than proud of their daughter’s work for the war.
Emily is an appealing lead who goes through quite a transformation as the book progresses. I saw The Victory Garden as an enlightening coming of age experience. Emily is naive and sheltered to begin with, but she grows in independence as the story unfolds. I enjoyed the romance and addition of the cheeky Australian airman, Robbie. This was a genuine and sweet romance.
The relationships between Emily and her many of the subsidiary characters form a significant portion of the narrative. We witness a strong bond, told mostly through letters, between Emily and her best friend Clarissa. There is also a focus on the often restrictive relations between Emily and her parents. Then there are the strong bonds formed between Emily and her fellow land army workmates. Finally, there is a lovely friendship forged between Emily and the aged Lady Charlton, the owner of the Devonshire based estate.
A side thread involving the work of a herbalist and taming a once lost herb garden, thanks to a journal unearthed by Emily, provides a nice offset to the war experiences. Emily really comes into her own through this experience and I appreciated following her journey. Along the way I learnt about the medicinal properties and the power herbs have to save lives. Bowen also outlines the pitfalls of this alternative form of medicine, through the persecution and lack of understanding of a female herbalist.
I really enjoyed my first experience of the work Rhys Bowen, who is a world renowned author. I am very tempted to select more of Bowen’s work in the future, based on my full appreciation of The Victory Garden....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Girl in the Rearview Mirror is the exhilarating debut novel from Kelsey Rae Dimberg. A book about explosive secr*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Girl in the Rearview Mirror is the exhilarating debut novel from Kelsey Rae Dimberg. A book about explosive secrets, a hidden past, extortion and scandal, this is an intense novel that proved to be a perplexing read.
Girl in the Rearview Mirror is a story of family secrets, individual lies and a dogged determination to reveal the truth. A novel that firmly sits in the thriller genre, this debut from Kelsey Rae Dimberg unveils the story of Finn Hunt. Finn is a young woman who is determined to put her past behind her as she takes up a position working for a US Senator. Employed as Senator Philip Martin’s nanny to her four year old daughter, Finn soon learns that the cushy position she thinks she has landed may not be as easy as she first thought. While Finn is tormented by her own past demons, she becomes embroiled in a scandal that lies at the very heart of her employer’s family – just in time for his re-election. As Finn works hard to protect her employer and her own past from being exposed on the public floor, this young woman must work hard to protect her life from falling apart.
The opening pages of Girl in the Rearview Mirror work to hook the reader right in to this unfolding tale. A sense of paranoia and raw unease is established early on in the piece. I was intrigued enough to continue to leaf page after page of this novel. The pace is timely, and the atmosphere taut. Revolving the book around a prominent Senator and the political environment gearing up to an election was also a good choice of background.
Kesley Rae Dimberg has created a solid and contrasted cast of characters in her first novel. Finn was a perfectly likeable lead, but I did feel like she seemed on the dubious side. I don’t think I could trust her in real life. The same goes for many of the side characters that fill the pages of Girl in the Rearview Mirror. There is strong level of mistrust that circulates around them, making it hard to connect and care about their predicament. Some of the choices Finn and the supporting cast make are suspect, but this all adds to the unreliability of this narrative. Dimberg wants to test the reader at many points in this novel.
Everything culminates in a shocking and twisty conclusion that Dimberg works hard at building up, but for me I think it fell a little short. Anyhow, I am sure many fans of the thriller genre may have a more positive response to this novel.
Girl in the Rearview Mirror raises many questions about the past, secrets, power and status. It looks at the dichotomy of personal and professional lives, in the context of a high pressured political environment. A slow burn style thriller with a strong slant towards the psychological, add this one to your list if you like to devour mystery novels, with an unreliable narrator leading proceedings.
*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Clare Mackintosh is the author of three previous psychological suspense style novels. The success of th*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Clare Mackintosh is the author of three previous psychological suspense style novels. The success of these novels has allowed Mackintosh to win awards, top the Sunday Times bestseller chart, and publish her books worldwide. Despite her winning success formula, Clare Mackintosh has decided to branch into something quite different genre wise for her fourth novel. After the End is a heartbreaking, insightful and issue based story. The novel covers life, relationships and choices. It is book that ultimately perplexed me.
For Max and Pip, the couple that narrate After the End by Claire Mackintosh, their marriage is placed under immense strain, following the diagnosis of their toddler aged son’s terminal illness. This once tight knit couple are divided, the distance between them exacerbated by their mixed feelings over whether their son should continue his treatment. With the input of doctors, the hospital treating their son, and the legal team behind this heart wrenching decision, what happens next is incredibly hard. It will test their heart, soul, relationship, marriage and own self perception. But life is about choices and chances. It is hard to predict the end.
Once you read the Author’s Note contained at the close of the book, you will have an appreciation for Clare Mackintosh’s intent with After the End. This very personal note also helped me to understand why Mackintosh has moved away from her popular thriller based novels to this issues based novel.
‘This has been an incredibly difficult book to write, but one that has also brought me great joy. I know that for many people it will have been a difficult book to read, and I will understand if you have put it down before reaching this page. This is a story not about loss, but about hope. Hope for the future, for a life beyond unavoidable tragedy.’
Preceding this heartfelt personal quote from the author, is a little on the background and inspiration of this book. Mackintosh penned After the End in response to the very hard decision the author and her husband faced, to keep their critically ill son alive, or to let him pass away. As a parent of two young children myself, I cannot fathom being placed in this predicament. There are so many moral, social and medical issues that concern the right to live and die. Mackintosh does a very good job of capturing the emotions of this situation and the stark reality of such a scenario. It is the best aspect of the novel.
I appreciated the narration that was split between the two parents of this tale, Max and Pip, who have very different ideas about the right to live. Within the narrative are the perspectives of the medical team, in particular a doctor assigned to the case. We also get a good feel for the legal side, thanks to the judicial court room sequences. It isn’t light or easy going reading, but it is insightful, offering the audience plenty to contemplate and perhaps discuss further with others.
After the End takes a diversion format wise, after the first half of the story has been told. A decision is made regarding Dylan’s life, which takes two routes. Mackintosh explores both decision outcomes. This is where I found my grip slipping with this novel. The timelines shift, the events swap and as result, I was a little bamboozled to be perfectly honest. This sliding doors aspect didn’t quite hit the spot for me personally. However, I did appreciate the glimpse into life ‘after’ such a momentous event, it was examined in appropriate detail.
Clare Mackintosh has definitely tackled a contentious area in our current world, the right to live or die, with a creative mode of storytelling. Compelling characters back up this story and the genuine connection the author has to the issues at stake in After the End, made this book a moving read.
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Other Half of Augusta Hope is about feeling lost, finding hope, developing connections and accepting your id*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Other Half of Augusta Hope is about feeling lost, finding hope, developing connections and accepting your identity. This debut novel by Joanna Glen is defined by exquisite prose, well defined characters and a parallel style narrative that will warm your heart.
Meet Augusta Hope, a woman who has never felt like she fits in. Augusta has a penchant for the written word and her favourite past time is to memorise the dictionary. From a tender age, Augusta understands the world from a very different set of eyes to everyone else. When she becomes an adult, Augusta has dreams of a life afar from her home town. But her love for her twin sister Julia and her parents keeps her rooted. When a terrible event occurs, it shakes Augusta to her very core. She is suddenly thrust into an uncomfortable realm of existence. Augusta must also work out what her true heart desires.
A book with a cover adorned with a cluster of gold embossed dragonflies, I surmised that this was going to be a light touch novel, perhaps with elements of humour and some life affirming situations. However, nestled beneath the pages of the debut novel by Joanna Glen is a strong story, matched with full bodied characters and heavy themes. If this sounds a little too rich for your tastes, The Other Half of Augusta Hope does contain some uplifting and hopeful moments to take away.
Running alongside the life story of Augusta Hope, an underdog character with some clear eccentricities, is the story of Parfait. It is unclear at first what the connection between these two characters will be, the reader is left in suspense almost, but it is worth the wait to see this thread flourish. I enjoyed the structure of the novel, as it ducks in and out of the lives of these two contrasted characters. Glen works hard to build our understanding of both these protagonists and their contrasted universes. I liked how one offset the other. I developed a soft spot for Augusta, she was likeable, but also incredibly unique. Her love for the written word is infectious, providing plenty of room for Glen to indulge in a language rich narrative whenever Augusta appears on the page.
I began with the assumption that The Other Half of Augusta Hope was going to be an easy going style read. I was definitely wrong in this judgement. Instead, I was taken on a meaningful journey, filled with snapshots of grief, loss, crimes against humanity, depression, suicide, heartache, regret and belonging. The wounds of these swirling themes can overwhelm you, but the gentle moments of clarity and joy definitely outweigh the hard times.
Turn to The Other Half of Augusta Hope if you appreciate life affirming tales, with all the feels.
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Quarantine Station, by Australian author Michelle Montebello, is an exquisitely told dual timeline narrative*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The Quarantine Station, by Australian author Michelle Montebello, is an exquisitely told dual timeline narrative, traversing 2018 with the past, in 1918. It is a novel that knocked me for six, it left me breathless, heartbroken and filled with sorrow, but it also made me hopeful. A novel that continued to surprise with each page I turned, The Quarantine Station is a beautifully realised historical fiction and romance tale, complete with a strong contemporary narrative to carry it along. I loved it to bits!
What is the price to pay for indulging in forbidden love affair? This is the powerful question that encircles the latest novel from Australian author Michelle Montebello and the author’s first turn in the field of historical fiction. A book that cleverly intertwines the monarchy, with the pertinent history of Sydney’s famous Quarantine Station, a devastating secret holds the key to a family mystery. It can all be traced back to 1918, where a young woman, who originally hails from London, sets foot on Australia’s shores in desperate need of a job. The search for a place of employment leads Rose Porter to the North Head Quarantine Station, an isolated compound, where no one wants to work. When Rose takes up her new position as a parlourmaid, her eyes are opened to a new world of rules, regulations, protocol, separation and dismay. However, Rose soon connects with the only carpenter on the facility and their relationship blossoms, despite the restrictions stipulated by the station. Decades later, in the present day, Emma Wilcott tenderly watches over her one hundred year old grandmother Gwendoline. In recent times, Gwendoline has escaped her aged care facility and has been found some distance away, seeking something she has lost. As the night time excursions increase, Emma knows it is her priority to find out what her grandmother is continually looking for. To offer a sense of closure and understanding to her confused grandmother, Emma is led on a pathway to the Quarantine Station, a place her grandmother once lived. With the help of Matt, a present day employee of the station,the two work tirelessly to unlock a long held secret that may help Gwendoline lay her ghosts of the past to rest.
Opening a new book by a new author is a little like pot luck. You don’t know what to expect, or what your response will be to the story. The Quarantine Station by Michelle Montebello is my first experience of this author’s work. I did choose to read this non review book thanks to a number of recommendations from other seasoned readers like myself, through my role as a romance editor on The Australian Women Writers Challenge. I am glad I paid attention to these endorsements, as each and every one was correct in their estimations. The Quarantine Station is an outstanding read from start to finish, and I’m already marking it down as one of my top reads of the year.
It is no secret at all that I adore dual timeline narratives, but they have to be composed right in my eyes to succeed as a whole. The interchanges from the past to present have to be seamless. The past must also have a strong bearing on the present, and vice versa. I encountered no issues in this department with Michelle Montebello’s novel. I know Michelle is a seasoned romance writer, with three novels already released in this genre. But I do feel that she is well matched to historical fiction and dual timeline narratives, it was like she was born to write for this genre! I found a strong connection to the present day narrative, having a grandparent who recently passed away, who was very much like Gwendoline. I could easily connect with the ageing, memory loss and dementia themes prevalent in this novel. I also felt that Montebello tackled this narrative thread with the dignity and insight into caring with someone with these medical issues it deserved. It came across as both compelling and introspective.
The 1918 past timeline aspect of the novel absolutely blew me away. The minute I was introduced to Rose Porter, I felt like I was her loyal companion. I felt every emotion, experience, situation and feeling Rose encountered. I believe this is down to Montebello’s strong characterisation and her ability to ease the reader into the very soul of her characters. This high level of character understanding applies not only to Rose, but it extends to many of the past cast, from lovers, staff and friends, through to the present day figures. Each is brushed with such authenticity that it was impossible not to get caught up in lives of these characters.
The historical setting did absolute wonders for me personally. I have a special interest in the Great War years and it was a special treat to be able to read a novel that looks at the Australian experience of this time. Before this novel, I had no previous knowledge of the Quarantine Station in Sydney, but it sent me off on a little research trip, which I lapped up! It also had me thinking a little off on my own tangent about the West Australian quarantine issues during this time and I know when I have more time on my hands, I’ll definitely be investigating this area further. The Quarantine Station sequences are incredibly vivid and provide the reader with an accurate, as well as a detailed picture of life in this fixture during the historical period. I took in all this storyline had to offer, from the influx of the Spanish Flu, to the racial and class segregation issues and the strict rules imposed on the staff working tirelessly on the station. It was an eye opening, as well as an unforgettable read.
For those who appreciate an authentic and all encompassing romance, The Quarantine Station has it all. Love comes calling for both the present and past figures. Montebello shows a strong level of comfort in these scenes and it helped me to fully appreciate all these storylines have to offer. However, I do feel as though the mystery aspect of the novel is what took this book to great heights. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get swept up in the suspense, secrets, family links and the life altering choices that were made in times past. All these swirling issues clearly had a great bearing on the future.
It is with no doubt or hesitation that I highly recommend The Quarantine Station to readers of any inclination. Take a chance on this novel, it will surprise and perhaps even dazzle you, as it did for me!
The Quarantine Station is book #102 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
A book to make you stand up and listen, The Whisper Network is the first contemporary adult fiction piece from former ghostwriter and young adult fiction novelist Chandler Baker. A book about ambition, desire and unfair work relations, The Whisper Network tackles the corporate world from four sets of female eyes. Already chosen for Reece Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Book Club, The Whisper Network is a book that is gaining momentum worldwide.
The Whisper Network delves into the complicated lives of four women, Ardie, Grace, Rosalita and Sloane, who all work for the big name company, Truviv. Things come to a head for this foursome when the CEO of their company dies suddenly. It seems highly probable that the male boss of the company, Ames, will be the next successor to rule Truviv. However, Ames is a man who is plagued by rumour and suspicion. His dubious past has caught the attention of many, including the four women. Unable to stand back and let Ames take all the glory of this lucrative position, they take a stand. Chinese whispers begin, and gradually these morph into something much more. A movement occurs that has far retching implications for Ames, and all those who work within the confines of Truviv.
With the rise of the #metoo movement, The Whisper Network is just the start of a plethora of books to come that will tackle this subject matter. I am sure many have been waiting for a book like The Whisper Network to be published. I felt like this novel is the first of its kind, a trailblazer, that will pave the way for more books to come of this very timely and relevant theme. Chandler Baker comes from a solid background in young adult fiction and she also penned a million dollar selling book series. Baker was inspired to pick up the pen and write about her own whisper network experiences, which she highlights in her very interesting Author’s Note. I do encourage all readers of The Whisper Network to take the time to read this section of the book, it definitely gives the novel some extra grounding and a sense of what Chandler Baker is hoping to achieve with her novel.
Baker spends a significant proportion of the book, almost half I found, to foreshadowing her characters. As a result, I got to know the ins and outs of the lives of the four key female characters that drive the The Whisper Network. The characterisation is the The Whisper Network’s strength, but I did feel like it got off to a slow start. Interspersed between the main narrative are interviews, transcripts of depositions and messages. This adds an extra mode of storytelling and insight into the characters. I observed that the novel really picks up from around the half way mark when the main event which has been referred to in very loose terms occurs. The Whisper Network then switches gear. It races to a hurtling conclusion, which is full of mystery, intrigue and suspense. I liked this aspect of the novel very much. I was keen to see how it would all play out for the characters.
The Whisper Network did come across as a strong issue based novel. Chandler Baker has a message to convey, and this is very clear throughout the novel. The book did make me sit up and think critically about a number of workplace and gender issues. I could sympathise with the motherhood versus career dilemma , which was presented well in the novel. I could also appreciate how these women took a stand against the constant cycle of oppression and missed opportunities. The Whisper Network may be used as a platform for other women, in the corporate world, and the wider employment world, to reach out, speak out, or take a stand. There is definitely an empowering ‘we are all in this together’ sisterhood feel to this book, that I am sure will ignite plenty of warranted attention.
All in all, I appreciated the intent of The Whisper Network. I feel this is a novel that really needed to be put out there in the literary world right now.
‘As we grew tired of whispering because what were we hiding, after all? We had stories, all of us. Would speaking up cost us? Maybe. But maybe it would cost them, too.’
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Bibliophiles unite, the team behind the Books on the Rail movement and the co-author’s of The Book Ninj*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars Bibliophiles unite, the team behind the Books on the Rail movement and the co-author’s of The Book Ninja, which was released to great success last year, are back. While You Were Reading is a fresh, very contemporary, fun and sweet romance, complete with moments of mystery. This is a delightful novel that will thoroughly engage all booklovers. Just don’t let the book list at the end pass you by!
While You Were Reading makes the claim that ‘words are messy. Love is messier’. I would like to agree and I enjoyed this love story very much. While You Were Reading is a double celebration – of the power of romance and the written word. It follows the complicated life of Bea, who commits the ultimate faux pas, accidentally ruining her best friend’s marriage, which was only hours old. Escaping from Perth to Melbourne, in search of a new life, Bea finds life over east a whole new ball game. She meets some new faces and frequents some very different places, from hip bars, coffee houses and plenty of bookshops. Despite the wealth of contrasted experiences from laid back Perth, Bea is lonely. A rare bookstore find, with an intriguing set of personal annotations, helps Bea to overcome her loneliness and at the same time, unravel the mystery identity of the author of the rare book’s inscriptions. Love also enters Bea’s life in a way she did not expect, gently reminding her of the importance of friendship above all else.
I follow the writing duo of While You Were Reading and The Book Ninja rather religiously on social media. I am in awe of their Books on the Rail Project, it does such a great things for readers and authors alike. It is fabulous to see this writing team power on with their second release. While You Were Reading is snappy, poignant and romantic. It is set to a very modern backdrop, complete with plenty of side additions to the main narrative. Expect alternative routes to this story, which compliments the overall narrative. These include plenty of Instagram posts, emails, letters, messages and texts. All these work together to give this novel a very here and now, present time feel.
I felt really, really sorry for Bea, the main character in While You Were Reading. The opening scene is like a social horror movie! Bea ultimately wrecks her best friend’s wedding, through just a simple slip of the tongue. We can all do this, we are capable! Berg and Kalus show us that Bea is simply human at the end of the day, but this terrible act has long standing consequences. Bea is very hard on herself, her confidence takes a big knock and it takes her a long time to recover. She decides to pack her bags and start afresh on the other side of country, away from laid back Perth, to chic Melbourne. I loved the Melbourne sequences. I recently made my first trip to Melbourne from Perth, much like Bea, late last year. I was seduced by Melbourne’s cafes, bars, shops, culture and of course the bookshops! These aspects are portrayed very well by the authors of While You Were Reading.
The mystery of While You Were Reading is tied up nicely to the book side of things and the romance in this story, which I liked very much. I loved the emphasis on the book, Meeting Oliver Bennett (I admit I looked it up in the hope that I could get my hands on it). I also appreciated the bridge that was ultimately crossed between friendship and romance, with a few dips in between. These experiences contribute to Bea’s character growth, which I did enjoy observing. There are some influential characters linked to the mystery, romance and friendship side of things in While You Were Reading. I am sure many readers will find these protagonists completely agreeable. From Bea’s friend Dino, Zach, Martha and even Bea’s social influencer sister, it was a fun cast to play around with. I did feel like I was a little too old for this crowd at times, but I am sure the fun story and agreeable characters will appeal to a large audience type, especially given the popularity of these authors.
Ultimately, While You Were Reading is a strong contemporary love story, very much situated in the present, which pays a great tribute to the book world. It is a predictable comfort read, that will definitely hit the warm and fuzzy spot for booklovers.
*I wish to thank Simon & Schuster Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
While You Were Reading is book #100 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Memories have the power to shape our lives, our sense of self, and the regrets we may hold. This is at the centr*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com Memories have the power to shape our lives, our sense of self, and the regrets we may hold. This is at the centre of the debut novel by Jodi Gibson. The Memories We Hide is a contemporary women’s fiction title, that covers the themes of friendship, the past and long held secrets. It is also a story about self acceptance and finding a way to accept the past, in order to find peace in the future. The Memories We Hide is a book that I was able consume in two close sittings and there was much to applaud in Jodi Gibson’s first release.
A book about trust and delving into the memories of a tragic event of the past is at the core of The Memories We Hide. Chief protagonist Laura Murphy has recently returned home, after a decade away. This homecoming has serious implications for Laura, a woman tormented by the loss of her childhood sweetheart ten years earlier, in tragic circumstances. As Laura grapples with the memories that have come flooding in since her homecoming, she must try and classify which of these memories is the truth. Laura decides to reconnect with an old friend from ten years ago, Tom, in an effort to put her issues from the past to rest. However, Tom is battling with his own demons and this will ultimately impact Laura. The Memories We Hide is about the inherent need to reconcile the past with the present, in order to achieve a stable future.
Memory has been a popular subject matter of late in contemporary fiction titles. The Memories We Hide is a book that stands out from the crowd. Rather than focus on memory loss or amnesia, which I have noticed has been a feature of many recent releases, Jodi Gibson’s debut looks at the memories of a tragic event in the past. I really did appreciate this very different focus on memory, and the questions this theme churned up. This focal area allowed the author to delve into the psychology and mechanics of the mind. Gibson was also able to pull apart the impact of how the same pinnacle event can be viewed very differently from alternative viewpoints, and how the perception of a traumatic event can change over time. Jodi Gibson provides the reader with plenty of food for thought.
I know that Jodi Gibson currently lives and grew up in a small town environment. She definitely has her finger on the pulse when it comes to the development of small town settings. In The Memories We Hide, Gibson looks at a small community rocked by the tragic loss of a young man in his prime. Alongside this tragic event, Gibson sensitively provides the audience with a sense of understanding about the pressures on young people suffering from depression and mental health issues in rural areas. It is a sad state of affairs, but unfortunately this is a very real issue that we as the general public should be aware of. Books such The Memories We Hide go a long way in highlighting this issue.
The Memories We Hide is strong on the character front. Laura, Gibson’s lead, is well developed and I genuinely cared about her welfare. Supporting Laura are a number of key side characters, from Tom, to Rachel and Ryan in the past, plus family members, as well as the local community. By the close of this novel I felt like I had bonded with this cast. Gibson’s approach to the interactions that occur between her protagonist set was engaging and engrossing. She has a natural flair for dialogue, which I appreciated very much.
I really enjoyed the mystery slant to this novel, which was increased tension wise with the style of narration, which shifted from the past to the present. I was fully engaged in The Memories We Hide, as I just had to know exactly what happened to Ryan and how this played out for each of the key characters of the novel. The final revelation really hit me, I didn’t see it coming, which was a great parting surprise for this reader.
The Memories We Hide offers an excellent insight to the complexities of relationships, the intricacy of memory and our natural instinct to protect ourselves from emotional pain. With a parting message of hope in the face of tragedy and despair, this is a compelling novel from debut novelist Jodi Gibson.
*I wish to thank the author, Jodi Gibson, for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
The Memories We Hide is book #109 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com First published over 90 years ago, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne has endured over decades, filling so many house*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com First published over 90 years ago, Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne has endured over decades, filling so many households around the world with wonderment. When I cast my mind back to my childhood reading years, I cannot recall having read Winnie-the-Pooh. I am deeply familiar with Pooh and his friends, which is in thanks to the screen adaptations of this childhood classic, along with the saturation of the popular toy animals of this tale in the merchandise world. However, if you are familiar with A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, there is no denying the longevity of this beloved classic.
Winnie-the-Pooh, first published in the year 1926, is a collection of ten different story chapters involving the formidable Winnie the Pooh and his friends. These friends appear in and out of the ten stories, along with a young boy named Christopher Robin, Eeyore the Donkey, Piglet, Rabbit, Roo and Owl. There are references to a Wozzle and Heffalump creature, but the attention is always carried back to dear Pooh. Settling into the pages of this childhood classic will take the reader far and wide. With plenty of adventure and lessons in friendship, a pot of honey is a much needed staple accompaniment to reading this treasured tale. Running alongside A.A. Milne’s prose are the “decorations” as stated on the front cover of my copy of this edition by E.H. Sheppard. The illustrations add another dimension to this truly delightful story. I also welcomed the inclusion of a number of sweet song verses voiced by Pooh and his friends, that helped to express many parts of the unfolding ten tales.
As an adult reader going into reading a childhood classic, a whole different world appears. There are some subtle messages included in this book that I am sure I would not have picked up as a young reader. At the same time, there is plenty of innocence, naivety and simple joy present in Winnie-the-Pooh. I enjoyed the connections between the animals and human boy in this book. The adventures they all take are straightforward, safe and entertaining. Milne dusts the story off with plenty of light hearted humour, which mostly comes at the expense of the animals and their actions.
To say these characters are inspired by the toys of the author’s child is astounding. The way Milne has injected life and assigned unique personalities to each toy animal is impressive. Each figure in Winnie-the-Pooh, starting with Pooh himself, are carefully laid out on the page. I came to see each animal’s idiosyncrasies. I particularly developed a soft spot for Eeyore, who seemed more downcast and vulnerable than I recall. I loved that the setting seemed very familiar to me. Winnie-the-Pooh is set in East Sussex, an area I resided in for many years as a young girl. I loved how this area transformed in front of my eyes. I came to see the hundred acre woods with a sense of curiosity and magic, which was a really nice feeling. I would have loved to come across a giant tree in our local woods – complete with a magical door!
Winnie-the-Pooh truly is a literary gift. It has demonstrated its full worth over many years, enthralling both adults and children alike for almost a century. I loved the magic and friendship that seemed to go hand in hand in this book. For this reason, I would recommend Winnie-the-Pooh as a family book, to be appreciated equally by grown-ups and children.
*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The pure reality of the situation presented in Six Minutes, the debut novel by Petronella McGovern, is enough to*https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com The pure reality of the situation presented in Six Minutes, the debut novel by Petronella McGovern, is enough to churn the stomach of any reader. Four playground mums have been asked to care for their friend and fellow playgroup member’s child. In the short space of just six minutes, the child disappears. With a round of possible suspects, including the parents, Six Minutes is a heart pounding race against time to get to the truth of the disappearance of an innocent child.
With four mums charged with the care of a young girl, who literally disappears before their eyes, this is a gut wrenching scenario, presented by first time novelist Petronella McGovern. Six Minutes looks at the horrifying situation of a child who literally vanishes without a trace, from a seemingly safe suburban playgroup. The police are immediately called in and the local community rallies together in their desperate search to find little Bella. As the search rolls on, it appears that this is much more than a simple case of a missing child. There are secrets, dubious characters, unanswered questions, relationship strains, the pressure of the media and the online community looking on. Bella’s parents come under intense scrutiny, and their past comes into play as Bella’s disappearance takes centre stage. It becomes a race against the clock to ensure that Bella is recovered and returned to her parents.
A book endorsed by Liane Moriarty and compared to The Cry, a fabulous Australian suburban thriller in my eyes, Six Minutes had plenty going its way – before I started my journey with this book. This debut novel cleverly and often scarily at times taps into a parent’s worst nightmare, dealing with a missing child. The situation presented in the book seemed incredibly real and very possible to me. My children are now in full time schooling, but I did actively take part in a weekly playgroup for a good part of their early childhood years. These mums became more than friends, they were my close confidants and I could rely on them. Much like Lexie, the missing child’s mother in this book, I would have felt comfortable with leaving my child in their care to duck off for a short time. The harsh reality of this situation really pulls at your emotional heartstrings, whether you are a parent or not.
McGovern takes a deft hand with her characterisation. From the main players, Bella and her parents, to the playgroup mums, the main detective and other pertinent local residents, each is outlined clearly by McGovern. There was an element of mystery that carefully underpins a good handful of the characters. Suspicion is passed over the parents, as well as the playgroup mums and a local teacher. McGovern slowly draws this aspect out, so the reader is constantly questioning the motives and actions of these characters. Although the disappearance takes centre stage, there is a side emphasis on the secrets, past history and suspect behaviours of many of the protagonists in this novel. This works effectively to highlight the tension, as well as the complex nature of this missing child case.
There is a potent small town suburban atmosphere that swirls around Six Minutes, which I appreciated very much. McGovern works hard to construct her setting. I am not familiar with Canberra and the small town suburbs in this area of Australia, but the way in which the locale of this novel is presented, it felt just like my own town in suburban Western Australia. The banding of the local community in the time of a crisis came across clearly on the pages of this novel. What I also liked was the fact that there was much more to these residents once you peeled back their layers. There were clearly a variety of other issues coming into play that impacted the development and solution of this case.
As with many recent contemporary fiction books I have read recently, I have observed a trend towards employing more than just one format to convey a story. Alongside the main narrative piece are a number of online social media posts and blog posts in Six Minutes. These embellishments work to heighten the mood of the story and allow the reader to see the unfolding case from a different lens. For me, it added to an extra level of puzzlement of this case!
Six Minutes is a gripping, emotional and pulse pounding novel. As a parent and a former playgroup mum, this story really presented as a very real nightmare scenario that I could easily see playing out. McGovern has hit the the ground running with her first novel. Six Minutes is a compelling suburban Australian thriller that secures Petronella McGovern’s spot as a great new author to watch!
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
Six Minutes is book #99 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more
Andy had been right. Khai’s heart really was made of metaphorical stone.’
The Bride Test is a modern day fairytale, crossed with an original romantic comedy, from second time novelist Helen Hoang. It is the story of a man who thinks he has no feelings, or ability to love, but when the right woman steps into his life, he changes. Fresh, snappy, humorous and filled with plenty of feeling, The Bride Test is a book romance fans do not want to miss!
Beginning with the lead Khai Diep, Helen Hoang uses her main protagonist to examine what life would be like for someone who has an inability to experience feelings and emotions. For Khai, life is constant struggle, the people around him fail to understand that he is unable to process, or express emotions. It is hard to constantly grapple with being the outsider. Khai’s family love him, and would like nothing more than to see Khai settle down in a relationship. This seems impossible until Khai’s mother weaves a little fairy godmother magic and she brings Esme, a woman from Vietnam, to be Khai’s trial bride for the summer. For Esme, the journey to the United States is a big culture shock. Esme has grand plans to win Khai over, but things do not go smoothly. The more Esme gets to know Khai and his idiosyncrasies, she starts to fall for him, but Khai proves tough to win over. Is the plan fruitless? Will Khai be destined to be alone forever?
I was initially lured into this book by the almost unreal concept of a mother shipping in a bride from overseas to help her son find love. It is an odd way to spark the start of a relationship and a possible marriage, but I am sure it is not unheard of. Khai, the young man in this novel, suffers from a social and emotional disorder that prevents him from forming relationships, as well as expressing appropriate emotions. Therefore, his mother steps in to overcome these shortcomings in a bid to see her son find love and happiness. For some, this may be a slightly uneasy and unorthodox method of finding a soul mate. However, the way this scenario is handled in the context of Khai and his difficulties makes this novel quite endearing.
Khai is an interesting lead, and the style narration employed by the author allows the reader to easily step into the shoes of this young man’s life. From the opening scene, we get a good feel for Khai and his battle with the world. Helen Hoang manages to convey Khai’s innermost thoughts to the audience in a way that makes us more understanding of what others like Khai are continually bombarded with. Hoang presents Khai’s character with authenticity, sympathy and insight. Personally, I enjoyed following the life of a male lead who was a deviation from society’s norms. I truly did want Khai to find the ability to love someone, not necessarily Esme.
In Esme, I felt like Hoang was following a modern day Cinderella style formula with her journey. Esme comes from a disadvantaged background. We know she has a daughter, she is a single mother and her family are struggling. The opportunity to improve her life circumstances and find love in a foreign country was a bold move. I’m not sure I could leave my own daughter behind if I was Esme, but we understand the desperation of her situation. Esme experiences a big wake up call and immense character journey during her time in the US. Esme uses her time in the US wisely and she eventually connects with her family roots. Esme also develops her language skills and education while living with Khai. I did enjoy this aspect of The Bride Test.
The Bride Test is a chick lit style romance, with comedic elements. The humour was well timed and I appreciated it. There are some touching moments in this book that will definitely strike a chord with romantics. For those who like some steam, there were quite a few sexy moments in this novel. These elements didn’t really work for me and I did feel uncomfortable reading these scenes. This may be due to the fact that I am definitely a hearts and roses kind of girl – I prefer sweet romance. However, this is an unconventional love story, with a twist. I am sure readers will embrace The Bride Test, much like Hoang’s very popular first novel.
I noted an interesting structural format employed by Helen Hoang to her novel. A two page Acknowledgements section was located at the very start of the book, before the Prologue. I found this to be a different structure, but it did give me a good feel for the intentions of the book, prior to delving in. An Author’s Note closes off The Bride Test, providing the reader with an extra insight into the creation of this novel. Helen Hoang’s personal stamp and passion for the subject line of her novel is ever clear through these additional touches.
It seems like this is the time for unconventional protagonists to make their mark on the literary world. In Khai Diep, Helen Hoang opens her readers hearts and minds to a very different lead, a man on the fringes of society, who takes a long journey to find out what it means to love. The Bride Test is recommended to lovers of romantic fiction, this love story is a great deviation from the norm.
*Thanks extended to Allen & Unwin for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
https://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars From the prize winning author of over nineteen novels, which have been published both in Australia and ahttps://mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com 3.5 stars From the prize winning author of over nineteen novels, which have been published both in Australia and aboard, comes J.H. Fletcher’s White Sands of Summer. A spectacular saga, set across of time period of over forty years, this brand new novel from J.H. Fletcher is a tale of family bonds, aspiration, determination, ambition, wealth and love. White Sands of Summer represents yet another enjoyable read from this author.
Shannon Harcourt is J.H. Fletcher’s leading protagonist. Shannon comes from humble beginnings, but when she meets Hal Maitland, a man from a class above her, she falls in love. Although Shannon and Hal come from vastly different backgrounds, they cannot deny their love for one another. However, when the war reaches Australia’s shores, they must do all they can to both protect the country they love and each other. Decades on, Shannon has reached incredible heights. She is a successful businesswoman, who has her sights set on acquiring her very own island, a place that holds treasured memories for this entrepreneur. With her sister Jess backing her plans to purchase the island, it seems like a done deal. However, the threat of a businessman with suspect motives puts Shannon’s grand plan to the ultimate test. White Sands of Summer is about never giving up on your wildest dreams, in the face of defeat.
White Sands of Summer has such an inviting summer feel cover, which was just perfect for our current dreary winter conditions! I wanted to delve right into the pages of this escapist style read. The stunning coastal backdrop featured on the front cover of White Sands of Summer is a strong symbol of the events in the novel. The lead of this new tale from J.H. Fletcher wishes to purchase her very own island, for valid reasons. It is the stuff dreams are made out of, to be in a position to obtain your own idyllic island! I was definitely intrigued by the start of J.H. Fletcher’s new novel.
I have enjoyed many novels from J.H. Fletcher, since I was first introduced to his work via his book Dust of the Land. I still have many more books in his backlist to explore, so it was a pleasure to be afforded with an opportunity to read Fletcher’s brand new release. I do have a weakness for rich Australian sagas, and there is no question that White Sands of Summer is a strong presentation of a grand Australian saga. This novel spans a distance of over forty years. It covers everything from childhood, sisterhood, first careers, the impact of war, love, relationships, betrayal, big business, international transactions and construction. In reeling off all these themes, it becomes clear that this is a full and involving novel. The wealth of experience and the breadth of affairs the characters in this novel encounter are interesting to follow.
J.H. Fletcher devotes plenty of time in the early stages of his novel to setting the scene. I was able to grasp the character of Shannon, as well as her sister Jess very well, which is thanks to Fletcher’s writing. There are a good handful of side characters that come into the fold as the story progresses, from family members, offspring, business acquaintances, friends and foes. A few of these side characters were a little hard to develop a firm hand on at times, but I still managed to enjoy the story. I especially appreciated the well drawn sequences that outlined Shannon’s involvement in the war, along with Jess’s culinary adventures. My eyes were also opened to the world of business, acquisition, property development, construction practices and international business connection – all from the perspective of a few decades ago. It amazed me how much Shannon managed to achieve as a woman at this time in the business world.
All in all, White Sands of Summer proved to be an engaging read. I’m a fan of J.H Fletcher’s work, and although it isn’t my favourite novel from his long list of novels, it still provided me with a full day of reading entertainment. Turn to this one if you appreciate sprawling Australian family based sagas.
*I wish to thank Mira – AU for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes....more
Mary-Anne O’Connor, the author of In a Great Southern Land, believes she is a lucky writer. O’Connor has a bevy of colourful yarns at her disposal, thanks to her family, who have issued her with a round of rich anecdotes from their past. Many of these stories have spurned the creation of the four novels Mary-Anne O’Connor has produced, to date. I am excited about the prospect of more of these stories coming to life in the near future. In a Great Southern Land is a wide-ranging Australian saga, and a strong testimony to colonial times, where freedom was almost impossible to attain.
Mary-Anne O’Connor is a gifted Australian storyteller, who has flair from bringing to life events of the past, within an all encompassing narrative. I have enjoyed each and every book I have read by Mary-Anne O’Connor. In a Great Southern Land sees O’Connor delve deep into the Australian history books, as she looks at one of the most significant moments in our early settlement years. In a Great Southern Land covers the events of the fateful Eureka Stockade. O’Connor also intertwines the life and times of a family that hails from Ireland, seeking a better life in the land of new opportunity. This compelling family story is told alongside the life of a young woman who wants to make a fresh start in Australia, after a terrible act of desperation. In a Great Southern Land is an absorbing tale, that really is a special treat for historical fiction fans.
Brotherhood and familial relationships form strong arc in this novel, sculpting the events of the book from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Clancy boys, from their humble beginnings and fight for freedom in Ireland, through to their new life in Australia. These two young men are engaging protagonists, with full and involving lives. I genuinely appreciated the chance to be acquainted with the Clancy brothers. Kieran’s life in particular was an eventful one, that often had me on the edge of my seat. There is denying the willpower and determination of these two brothers. Their bond, as well as their desire to seek opportunities anew, is reflected at many key moments of In a Great Southern Land. The enormity of the decision to embark on a new life in an almost alien territory hits the reader hard, and is depicted well by O’Connor.
‘Kieran stood and stared out at the harbour, observing the ships that has sailed from all corners to rest here, beneath the new set of stars. To bring people who needed to start again. People like himself.’
The other main player in this strong historical drama is Eve Richards. It was a true pleasure to follow Eve’s tale. Eve’s story is just one of many early settlement tales. Many women, just like Eve, made the best of what they were given, despite landing on the ends of the earth. For me, Eve’s story really magnified the height of the struggles faced by women in particular in this era. O’Connor draws our attention to their daily fight to overcome the sheer isolation, harshness and hardships prevalent during this time. Eve’s story also allows for a touch of historical romance to fly around this engaging tale.
The Eureka Stockade overshadows the events in this novel. There is a sense of impending doom that overhangs In a Great Southern Land, as the history books tell us that this was event that passed with a great deal of heartbreak, loss and bloodshed. Mary-Anne O’Connor’s presentation of this event is vivid, authentic and historically well informed. Although I am somewhat familiar with this regrettable, but revolutionary chapter in our history books, I was impressed by O’Connor’s depiction of the events. Most of all, I was surprised by the rich examination into the aftermath of the Eureka Stockade. O’Connor devotes a significant amount of time in her book to examining the long lasting impact of the Eureka Stockade, with a particular focus on the court proceedings. This opened my eyes to Australia as a new frontier in times past, clearly this was a time where freedom and rights was of the utmost importance. It made me grateful for our current climate and for the tough times our ancestors went through to secure our independence.
Mary-Anne O’Connor is clearly dedicated to bringing a strong sense of place to the pages of her latest novel. O’Connor manages to traverse the beauty of Ireland, with the barren lands of Australia, to the tough conditions of the goldfields and more. Each locale is painted with precision and authenticity, so the reader feels like that are standing with the characters, taking in all the setting has to offer.
Before I draw this review to a conclusion, I do need to urge any potential reader of In a Great Southern Land to take the time to visit the ‘Acknowledgements’ section of the book. Located at the close of the story, it offers an educative and enlightening insight into the process the author undertook to complete this epic novel. The most touching part of the Acknowledgements section was the author’s personal family connection to this story and I strongly feel that it provided further weight to this already amazing tale!
In a Great Southern Land is a book that undoubtedly leaves a strong imprint on your mind. As an Australian, it served as a reminder of the sacrifices, the blood, sweat, tears, love and devotion that was put into making a go of it in the new lucky country by our colonial era ancestors. In a Great Southern Land is another highly regarded novel from Mary-Anne O’Connor, a superior voice in Australian historical fiction.
‘This great southern land was wild and unpredictable, sometimes savage, sometimes beautiful, but like anywhere there was opportunity, if you sought to find it.’
*I wish to thank Harper Collins Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.
In a Great Southern Land is book #98 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge...more