Thursday, 24 November 2016

Beauty & Lace Book Review - 
Worth Fighting For by Mary-Anne O'Connor

The week is flying by for me! Does anyone else feel totally unprepared for Christmas, or is it just me?
Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? 
If you haven't, and know of someone who likes to read about historical wartime/romance, then Worth Fighting For by Mary-Anne O'Connor might be one to consider buying for them.

Worth Fighting For is set during World War Two. 
The main character is 18-year-old Junie Wallace, who finds herself in the unfortunate position of having to marry a man that she doesn't love or care for, Ernest Farthington.
With two of her brothers away fighting in the war, and her third brother recently killed in action, her parents have fallen on hard times.
They are indebted to Ernest, so it is up to Junie to help save her family's farm. 
Sadly, the only way she can do that is by becoming Mrs Farthington. Ernest is a man who is selfish, egotistical, and inconsiderate of Junie's feelings, so it is only natural that Junie doesn't want to be with him.
What makes this marriage proposal even more upsetting for Junie is that she is in love with a drover by the name of Michael Riley. 
Michael is a real gentleman, and I liked his character very much. 
When Michael makes the decision to enlist, Junie has one last opportunity to spend time with him, and what plays out will change both of their lives forever..

The beginning of the book is set in Junie's hometown of Braidwood in New South Wales, but as the story progresses, we get to visit Darwin, Hawaii, Port Moresby, and Papua New Guinea. 
The story spans from 1941 - 1949, and it is quite a saga, at over 400 pages. 
I don't usually read this genre of fiction, but I did like the way Mary-Anne O'Connor describes the settings and surroundings throughout the story.
Additional things I like are the captivating front cover, the strong focus on mateship and hope, and the author's acknowledgments, as we discover Mary-Anne's own family wartime experience. She even named characters in the book after her family members, which I thought was a very sweet sentiment.
I would've enjoyed the story more if there was a greater focus on the romance element, as opposed to the main attention being on war, but that is just my personal taste.
Overall, I would recommend this book, particularly if you like historical/romance war novels.

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of Worth Fighting For with thanks to Harlequin Books and Beauty & Lace. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website, head here
I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own, and not influenced in any way.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Book Review: I See You by Claire Mackintosh

I had seen a couple of positive reviews on my social media for I See You by Claire Mackintosh so I borrowed it from my local library, and here's what I though of it..

Zoe Walker is a 40-year-old woman who travels on the London Underground on a regular basis for her commute to and from work. 
One day, she comes across an advertisement in the classifieds section of a newspaper, which shows a photo of a woman who looks eerily similar to Zoe. 
When she shows the advertisement to her family (partner Simon, and grown children, Justin and Katie), they try to reassure her that the lady in the photo is not Zoe, but in fact just someone who has a strong resemblance to her. 
Even her neighbour and long-time friend, Melissa, thinks she is overreacting.  
But the following day, she notices another advertisement, this time with another woman's image. The ads feature nothing else except for a website address and a phone number.
More of these bizarre advertisements follow, until Zoe realises that there is a pattern forming, and decides to try and uncover the truth as to why this is happening. 
She contacts the police, but she isn't taken seriously at first. 
It isn't until the women in the advertisements become victims in a spate of crimes that the Murder Investigation Team realise they need to take action before something sinister happens to Zoe...
PC Kelly Swift assists with the investigation, and I enjoyed her character.  I found that she added an extra dimension to the story, and I liked reading about Swift's background as it was uncovered. 

There are a few moments of excitement throughout this psychological thriller, but nowhere near as much as I was hoping for.
The ending was quite good, and somewhat alarming, but I couldn't help but feeling that I wanted more from this book. It was a little predictable and far-fetched for me to fully appreciate it. 
It's a shame that it didn't quite deliver for me, but I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've read it, or plan to, as it has been getting some rave reviews. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Book Review: Two By Two - Nicholas Sparks 

It's been a while since I've read a book by Nicholas Sparks.
I really enjoyed The Notebook (both the book and movie), and have read a couple of his other novels, so when I had the opportunity to read his latest, Two By Two, which was released last month, I was happy to get onboard.

Two By Two centres around 32-year-old Russell Green. He and his wife Vivian reside in North Carolina with their daughter London.
Russ has a career in advertising, but when London gets to kindergarten age, he decides to branch out on his own as he no longer feels satisfied in his job.
Vivian, in the meantime decides to get back into the workforce, securing a job in PR, which becomes increasingly demanding. It puts a strain on their relationship, and creates a shift in roles.
Russ become London's primary caregiver, whilst juggling housework, errands, and trying to land clients for his newly-established  firm.
I must say that there were times during this part of the book that I was thinking that Russ needed to toughen up, or even just demand the respect he was entitled to. He didn't stand up for himself, and it made me disappointed, as he was doing the best given the circumstances. I didn't like that he so easily gave in to many of Vivian's demands, but thankfully, by the end of the novel, Russ becomes a little less of a push-over.

At the beginning of each chapter, we are taken back into Russ's past, learning more about his family, and his relationships before Vivian. We learn about his older sister Marge, who is an accountant, and has a long-term partner named Liz. She has a very strong bond with Russ; they have been there for each other countless times over the years, through many ups and downs. 
I simply adored Marge's character. Her wit, her straight-forward nature, and her love for Russ made her one of my favourite characters in the story.
We also find out about Russ's first love, a woman named Emily.  
It all ties in when Emily is bought back into the picture in the present day, when  London befriends a young boy named Bodhi, who turns out to be Emily's son.
Emily is now divorced and getting used to life as a single parent.
Russ becomes friends with Emily again, and she becomes a great support to Russ when life throws him some major hurdles..

I don't want to elaborate further as  I prefer to keep my reviews spoiler-free.
I really enjoyed this book, but I felt it could've done with about 50-or-so pages less, as some parts of the book felt unnecessary and there were many conversations that could've been edited out as they didn't add much to the story line. 
But I liked reading about Russ's journey with his daughter. It is a beautiful, sweet relationship. 
And I did shed a tear or two towards the end!
Nicholas Sparks writes with a lot of heart, and you know that when you read one of his books, that you are going to experience an emotional roller-coaster.

Have you read any books by Nicholas Sparks? Do you have a favourite?

And don't forget there's still time to enter my lovely children's Christmas book giveaway here 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Mandy Foot Children's Book Reviews & A Giveaway!!

Mandy Foot is a South Australian illustrator, whose works include The Wheels On The Bus, Shut The Duck Up, and a range of books featuring Captain Kangaroo (we have a couple of these ones and my daughters love them!!)

I was delighted to recently receive two of Mandy's books to review.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star is written by Jane Taylor, and illustrated by Mandy. It was released earlier this year.
The story features an adorable baby pygmy possum travelling through the night in the Australian outback.

The illustrations are wonderful; featured animals include an echidna, wombat, and a dingo. Each character is brought to life on every page. 

Told in rhyming verse, this  would make for an enchanting bedtime story to read with your little one. 

The Bush Santa is Mandy's latest release, and it centres around a very sweet koala Santa making trips all around Australia to deliver gifts in time for Christmas.

I love that this story teaches children about Australian animals and places whilst engaging them in a story of Christmas festivities. Some of the places that the koala Santa visits include Tasmania, Cairns, and Byron Bay. 

I spent time explaining to my youngest daughter where these places are located in Australia, as she had only heard of some of the places. It was a great opportunity to discuss this with her whilst I had her attention.
Once again, the illustrations captivate an audience of both young and old, with their bright hues and impressive attention to detail. 
This book would be perfect as a stocking-stuffer this Christmas!
And the best part of all is that you can win your very own hardback copy of The Bush Santa!!

To enter: 

You MUST be a follower of my blog (either by liking my Facebook page/twitter/Instagram, or following via email or bloglovin' - I don't mind which one you opt for but you must do at least one please), and

Answer in the comments section below:

What is your favourite Australian animal, and why?

**Get creative, and please include your email with your answer so I can contact you if you're the lucky winner!**

Terms & Conditions:
1. This giveaway is open to residents of Australia only.
2. Giveaway closes on 17th November, 6 pm; winner/s will be contacted via email within 48 hours. Failure to receive a response from the winner/s will mean the prize is forfeited and a new winner/s  will be chosen.
3. Winner will be selected on a basis of skill, not chance - the most creative and/or interesting answer deemed by the judge/s wins
4. The prize is not redeemable for cash.
5. In  The Good Books blog will not be responsible for items that go missing through Australia Post postal services.
6. This promotion is not associated or endorsed by Facebook.
7. Those who 'unlike' or 'unfollow' after the giveaway ends will be disqualified from entering future giveaways.

Disclosure: I was given 2 books from Mandy Foot's range to review, with an extra copy offered as a giveaway. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Book Review: 
The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood

Even though I have a huge amount of books on my TBR (to-be-read) list, I often check out my local library's website for book recommendations from other library members.
The One-In-A-Million Boy by Monica Wood was one of the books featured on the website, so I picked it up as I liked what had been said about it.

I'd like to thank that library member for sharing their recommendation, because this book is one I enjoyed very much; it is such a sweet tale, and left me thinking about the characters long after I had finished reading it.

It centres around Miss Ona Vitkus, a 104 year-old woman, who immigrated from Lithuania to America many, many years ago, and an 11-year-old boy, (known throughout the entire book as 'the boy') who is sent on an assignment from his Scouts group to help Ona for a period of time with household chores, in order to receive his merit badge.
Ona is used to being alone. She is fiercely independent and enjoys her own company, but she forms a special bond with the boy.
He chooses to interview her for a school project, and they each learn a great deal about one another.
The boy is passionate about the records in The Guiness Book Of Records books, he enjoys counting and grouping, and not unlike Ona, he is somewhat of a loner.
Ona looks forward to the boy's visits every week, she shows him tricks and gives him cookies as they chat.
However, one week he doesn't show up, and his father visits Ona in the boy's place...

And now it gets a little tricky for me, because I am going to choose to stop there and not reveal anything further.
I'd love to blurt out what unfolds, but this is a book that you should experience for yourself, without any spoilers.
It is lovely and it is emotional, and it has one of the best endings that I've read in a while.
Buy it, or at the very least borrow it, as I am almost certain that you won't be disappointed.