Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Book Review: Flying The Nest by Rachael Johns 



 
 
Back when I first started this blog, I remember that one of my first ever giveaways was a Rac
hael Johns novel. I have continued to enjoy her stories since, and her latest, Flying The Nest, is released today!


The story centres around a woman named Ashling Wood, who is married to Adrian and has two children, 15 year-old Saxon, and 10 year-old Payton. 
She has been with Adrian for years, and has experienced the highs and lows of life with him by her side.
So when he confronts Ashling one day with the shocking news that he wants to separate, Ashling is devastated.
He suggests that they try 'nest parenting' - keeping Saxon and Payton in the family home, while he and Ashling rotate living with them week on/week off. 
Ashling turns to her best friend Hayley for advice, who also happens to be Andrew's twin sister.
Hayley offers her to move in on the weeks that she isn't with the kids, and while Ashling appreciates her friend's generosity, she just wants to try and get her family back to how they used to be.
When Hayley's boyfriend Wei suggests Ashling spend some time in the seaside town of Ragged Point to renovate an old cottage that once belonged to his grandfather, she thinks that it will be the ideal distraction while Adrian comes to his senses.
She gets stuck into fixing up the place, and meets some of the lovely locals, including Jedda, who runs the cafe, and fisherman Dan Emerson.
Ashling finds that she is really starting to enjoy the peaceful surrounds of Rugged Point, and with each visit, she feels as though she is becoming more at home.
But the home-stay weeks with the kids are dysfunctional, and the hope of salvaging her marriage to Adrian is becoming even more slim.
Ashling is torn between what she wants for her future, and what she wants for her family. 
She has to figure out what is right, but will it come at a cost?

Flying The Nest is an easy and entertaining book. The story flows really well, and has a great cast of characters (including an adorable canine named Charlie!) 

Themes of parenting, divorce, addictions and grief are featured throughout the story and explored well.
As I was given the opportunity to read this before its release date, it was ideal read to enjoy while being in lock down; it allowed my mind to escape to the coast, if only for a while!

Flying The Nest is available through HQ, Harper Collins Australia from today.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Book Review: Breathless by Jennifer Niven 

 


I have read All The Bright Places by the same author a couple of years ago, and was interested to read her latest YA novel titled Breathless. I finished it recently and thought that it was a pretty decent novel, and knowing that the author based it off some of her own life experiences made it even more enjoyable.

 The story is told from the perspective of 18 year-old Claudine Henry.

She has plans to spend the summer holidays enjoying a road trip with her best friend Saz before they leave for college. Her plans also involve getting to know her crush Wyatt Jones a bit better.

But a week before graduation, her dad makes a devastating and life-changing announcement that he is leaving Claudine and her mother, and the world as she knows it will never be the same. She feels betrayed and heartbroken.

Her mother decides to spend the summer with Claudine on a remote Georgia island, and Claudine is disappointed that she won't get to go on the road trip after all.
When they arrive on the island, Claudine feels even more alone when she realises that there is no phone service, so no way to stay in touch with Saz or Wyatt.

But lucky for her, she meets Jeremiah, who is a free-spirited, charming and handsome young guy, and it isn't long before they feel a real connection. As the days go by, the two get to know each other and they start dating, even though they know that they are both leaving the island after the summer ends.

What follows is an exploration of love, sex, and discovery, as well as forgiveness and acceptance.
By the end of the novel, the reader sees a real change in Claudine as she discovers herself and as she works towards making her dreams come true.

Breathless is available now through Penguin Books Australia.

 

Monday, 5 October 2020

Book Review: Punching The Air by Ibi Zoboi & Yusef Salaam 



 
Punching The Air is a young adult novel co-written by Yusef Salaam, who at the age of 15 was tried and convicted for a crime he was innocent of, the famed 'Central Park Five' case.
This story is inspired by his experience.

Amal Shahid is just 16 years old and has a promising future ahead of him when one night a simple case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time sees him convicted of a crime.
He is alleged to have punched a young white male, leaving him in a coma.
Amal is found guilty and sent to juvenile detention. 
He is filled with anger and despair, but finds comfort in writing poetry and art.
He also has the support of his family and friends to help get him through.
Amal means 'hope' in Arabic, and he is aptly named, as he remains hopeful that even though this was not the life he had planned, he can change it. 


This is a really important story with a powerful message.
It is beautifully written.
Punching The Air explores a lot of topics including racism and the American judicial system.
The story is written in verse, interwoven with lovely illustrations, with not many words on each page, making it a quick read.
But the words that are used are compelling and packed with emotion.

I would definitely recommend this book, not only to young adults, but older readers as well. 

Punching The Air is available now through Harper Collins Australia RRP $19.99 

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Book Review: Honeybee by Craig Silvey 





When I'm fortunate enough to experience the pure magic of reading a novel like Honeybee, it's a bit of a struggle to write a review.
Not because I don't want to, but for fear of not being able to do it justice.  I mean, what can you say when days after you've finished reading a story, your mind is still within those pages, reliving the brilliance of what you've read?

This book is really something else. Exquisitely written with not a single word wasted. I devoured it and I will treasure it.

The story begins late one night when 14 year-old Sam Watson approaches an overpass. 
An old man named Vic is on the other side of the bridge, smoking a cigarette. He is there to end his life.
Unbeknownst to Vic, Sam is also contemplating the same fate.

The two spot each other, and a conversation begins.
Whether its curiosity or a cry for help that gets them talking remains to be seen.
Before long, a connection is formed, and an unlikely friendship develops. 
On that night, an unspoken commitment is made by each other to save the other.
As the story progresses, we find out what bought Sam and Vic to the bridge that evening.

These two people are so different from each other, yet their suffering and hurt is equivalent. 
This is what unites them and forms the basis of their support for one another.
I don't want to give much more away as Honeybee is one story you need to experience for yourself.

I am so grateful to Craig Silvey for writing this stunning novel. What an extraordinarily talented writer.
I know that I will revisit Honeybee many times. It is now one of my favourite novels.
I adored the characters. 
Sam, Vic, Edie, Aggie and Fella Bitzgerald/Peter. Each of them really grabbed me.
These characters are real, flawed, and empathetic. They are giving of both time and of themselves. 
In particular, Sam and Vic made their way into my heart. I adored their friendship, and I loved how each strived to give what the other was seeking. The determination to save the other was admirable.
I laughed at some parts, I cried multiple times, and I paused and shook my head with wonderment at many lines. How such a beautiful story can be created from one mind is a wonder.

Read Honeybee. If you don't like to read, listen to it or have someone read it to you. Or at least buy it and give it to someone you know who reads. This book needs to be read. 
It is a story of hope, a story of love, and a story of understanding and accepting. 
Thank you again Craig Silvey for this fabulous novel.

Honeybee is available through Allen & Unwin from 29th September, RRP $32.99
For further information on this title, head here






Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper




I've read a few of Jane's other novels and enjoyed them all, but I think that The Survivors is my new favourite of hers. I read it in less than a couple of days as I was so drawn into it.

Kieran and his girlfriend Mia, along with their baby girl Audrey, reside in Sydney, but they return to the Tasmanian town of Evelyn Bay to help Kieran's parents with an upcoming house move after his father is diagnosed with dementia. 
Both Kieran and Mia grew up in Evelyn Bay, but twelve years ago, a massive storm swept through the town, and  Kieran's brother Finn, along with his best friend Toby, both drowned.
Kieran has carried the guilt of that day with him all these years as he feels responsible that they were out on the water that day. 
Another local teenager, Gabby, who was Mia's best friend at the time, disappeared on the same day and was never seen again.  
Not long after the couple return to help with the move, a young woman named Bronte is found washed up on shore in suspicious circumstances. 
As her death is investigated, it brings back a lot of memories from the past, and some long-kept secrets finally come to light.
I thought this was an excellent book, highly addictive, and really had me turning the pages. I was suspecting most of the characters at various stages in the book, but actually turned out to be way off! 
I love the way Jane describes the coastal town, she has a way of making you feel as though you are there in the setting. 
I would've loved for the story to have an epilogue, just to tie in everything and answer those few questions I still had in my mind. 
I'd highly recommend this novel. 

The Survivors is available through PanMacmillan Australia from 22nd September.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Book Review: Stranger In The Lake by Kimberly Belle




I hadn't read any novels from Kimberly Belle before, but I liked the sound of this one and had the opportunity to read it recently.

Charlotte McCreedy Keller is 26 years-old and has always lived in the small town of Lake Crosby in North Carolina.
She had a rough childhood - often hungry, dirty, and neglected by her drug addicted mother. She had to raise her younger brother Chet pretty much on her own, and they have a close relationship as a result.

Charlotte is married to 37 year-old Paul Keller, a wealthy businessman who lost his first wife Katherine four years ago as a result of drowning.
The townspeople don't approve of their marriage, and it is evident wherever they go. They think Paul had something to do with Katherine's death, but Paul has always claimed his innocence.
Charlotte doesn't buy into the rumours, and she is happy when she finds out that she is pregnant with their first child.

But one morning when Charlotte heads out for a walk, she makes the shocking discovery of a woman's body in a lake, at the exact location where Katherine was found four years before.
When Charlotte realises that the woman was in fact someone she saw talking to Paul just the day before, she doesn't know what to think.
And when Paul lies to the police and then suddenly packs a bag and leaves, Charlotte is left with a lot of unanswered questions. 
Whilst she wants to believe that Paul had nothing to do with either of the women's deaths, she just doesn't know if she can trust him...

I thought that this book was an interesting read. It had a good story line, and some impressive characters too.
I would've enjoyed it more if it had more elements of suspense and mystery, as well as a deeper insight into some of the characters. 

It is still a book I'd recommend, and I wouldn't mind reading more books by the same author.

Stranger In The Lake is available from Harper Collins Australia, RRP $29.99 from 2nd September.


Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Book Review: Lonely In Longreach by Eva Scott 







If you've seen the movie Sleepless In Seattle and enjoyed it, then I would recommend you check out Lonely In Longreach as this book is like the modernised, rural version of that romantic comedy.

Solar farmer Sam Costello is raising his 15 year-old son Levi on his own on an outback Queensland property, after the love of his life Michelle passed away 7 years earlier. 
He hasn't had time for love, or made time for it for that matter.

Levi is best friends with Maddie, and they both have plans to move to Sydney to attend university once they finish high school. 
But Levi feels guilty about leaving his dad alone, and as Maddie has her own motive for wanting to move to the city, she comes up with a plan that will ensure her future happiness.
Knowing that Levi will only make the move with her if his dad is happy and not alone, Maddie sets up a dating profile for Sam on a rural dating website, unbeknownst to him!

Sarah Lewis is a journalist residing in Sydney, with a nice enough boyfriend named Greg, but she can't help feeling as though she is just settling for things...
So when she begins working on a feature about finding love in rural communities, she comes across the profile that Maddie has created for Sam - 'Lonely In Longreach', and something about him grabs her attention. 

When she reaches out to him, she is unaware that the replies she receives are from Maddie and Levi.
As she discovers more about the farmer, she realises that her relationship with Greg has to end, as her feelings for Sam deepen.
When an opportunity arises for Sarah to visit Longreach, she jumps at the chance.
But will Maddie and Levi's matchmaking effort be a success, or will it be an epic fail? 

Lonely In Longreach is an enjoyable story, and I like how the reader is able to get a real sense of rural life.
It goes without saying that the story features romance, but it is not in an overdone or cliched manner.
The family ties and friendships are what really made this book for me.
Whilst it was fairly easy to predict how the story would end, I was invested enough to keep me turning the pages.
Lonely In Longreach is the ideal story for fans of rural romance.

Lonely In Longreach is available now through Harper Collins Australia, RRP $29.99