Thursday, 2 September 2021

 Book Review: The Housemate by Sarah Bailey


It's been  a while since I've read a thriller even though it is one of my favouite genres to read, so I was keen when I was given the opportunity to read Sarah Bailey's latest thriller novel The Housemate, which was released this week. 


The story is mainly set in 2015 but it reverts back in time to 2005 when the Housemate Homicide took place. Back then, Melbournian-based Olive (Oli) Groves was a junior reporter and became fascinated with the case in which a young woman, Evelyn Stanley, was murdered. One of Evelyn's housemates, Alexandra Riboni, was charged with Evelyn's murder, and her other housemate, Nicole Horrowitz went missing.

Now, ten years later, Nicole has been found dead on a remote property, and Oli is assigned to the case yet again. As she digs into the case, she uncovers a lot of secrets and questions that need answering.

Oli is a great protagonist; she's capable, determined, and passionate - all great qualities to possess. The story unravels at a decent pace, with a lot of mystery interspersed throughout. There are a lot of characters in the story and it took a while for me to get my head around them all. My favourite by far was Cooper Ng, who is partnered up with Oli to help crack the case. He's fun, inquisitive, and adorably annoying. As I don't want to spoil the story for others, I will only say that I really disliked the road Cooper went down. You'll need to read it to find out! 

I thought that this was a well-written whodunnit, and I found that I connected with the setting of the story, being based in Melbourne.  

I would recommend The Housemate for fans of crime/thriller novels.

* Worth mentioning, there are some heavy themes in The Housemate, including child abuse, which may be triggering for some readers.

The Housemate is available through Allen & Unwin RRP $32.99


Wednesday, 1 September 2021

 Book Review: The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang



This is Helen Hoang's third novel. Her first, The Kiss Quotient, is a New York Times bestseller, and her second, The Bride Test, was released in 2019.

I have read both of her other books, so I was happy to be offered the opportunity to receive a copy of The Heart Principle, which is due for release through Allen & Unwin Australia.

This was so much more than just a romantic novel. I read this book within a couple of days and really enjoyed it. I would say it is my favourite of the three.

Violinist Anna Sun is in a long-term relationship with Julian, and she is always putting other people's feelings before her own. She finds it difficult to say no, and to listen to her inner voice. After achieving success with a YouTube video that went viral, Anna struggles to replicate the same standard of violin playing and gets burned out.

When Julian suggests that they switch to an open relationship before deciding if he wants to make a final commitment, Anna is angry and hurt, but again finds it difficult to say no, so she agrees.

She sets up a dating app and vows to embark on a string of one-night stands.

Enter Quan Diep - covered in tattoos and a motorcycle rider, not to mention, deliciously handsome! Their first try at a one-night stand turns into a failure, but they see each other again (and again!). They start to date and Anna finds that she can be more of herself around Quan, something she has always struggled to do. 

But when tragedy strikes Anna's family, she is thrust into a role that she isn't suited for, and which threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan want to be together, but they need to find themselves first. 

I don't want to add too much more so as not to spoil this book for others, but I recommend this book highly.

The story is told in alternating chapters, which I like as it offers an insight into both Anna and Quan's personal lives. For those who have read The Kiss Quotient, you may recognise Quan as he is the cousin of Michael, one of the leading characters in that book. There are some similarities in all of Helen's three books in that they all have a leading character with autism, and issues with love, but for the most part, each story is told well.

 This story touches on a lot of sensitive topics - illness, autism, burnout, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, hospice care, death and more. Knowing that  Helen has described this to be 'half memoir' makes me even more fond of the story.

The Heart Principle is available now through Allen & Unwin Australia, $29.99

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

 Book Review: 138 Dates by Rebekah Campbell 



I was recently given the opportunity to receive a copy of the newly released book 138 Dates by Rebekah Campbell, and although it isn't a genre that I usually go for, I agreed as it sounded interesting. I'm glad I did, as it's a pretty good read.

The book is a true story about businesswoman and entrepreneur Rebekah Campbell, and her journey to find love. 

The story is set in 2012, when Rebekah is aged 35. Outwardly, it appears that Rebekah has it all, including a successful company called, and a popular blog. However, the truth is that she is very lonely. She hasn't been on a date in ten years, and she feels as though it is time to put herself out there in the hopes of fulfilling her dream of finding love and starting a family.

Using her business experience and knowledge, she applies these tactics to help find a man. What follows is a wild roller-coaster of the dating world! 138 dates with different men from Sydney, San Fransisco and New York, all whilst trying to launch a company!

Rebekah doesn't shy away from telling her story, and really keeps it real in the retelling of her experience. I am sure that there are many out there who can relate to the effort and pressure of dating.
I really enjoyed her honesty in sharing her dating experiences,  and her vulnerability was endearing.

I also liked finding out about her family (her mum certainly is a character!), and about her earlier years and first experience with love, which set the benchmark for her relationships. 

 138 Dates is well worth a read, and is available now through Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99

Friday, 2 July 2021

Book Review: The Wattle Seed Inn by Leonie Kelsall


This is the first novel of Leonie's that I have read, and even before I'd finished it, I had placed a reservation from my local library for her first novel, award winning The Farm At Peppertree Crossing. I really enjoyed The Wattle Seed Inn and knew that I wanted to read more of the Australian writer's work. 

From the opening pages of The Wattle Seed Inn, the reader is transported to the beautiful rural town of Settlers Bridge, where PR executive Gabrielle Moreau takes sole ownership of the dilapidated Wurruldi Hotel and its surrounding properties after her relationship with her business partner and now ex-fiance Brendan, turns sour. 

Gabrielle plans on renovating the hotel, and even though money is no issue for her, she wants to prove that she is capable and successful without having to fall back on her privilege. When she heads to the local pub on her first night in town, she is befriended by the lovely red-headed dairy worker, Sharna, who introduces her to a few of the locals, including Hayden Paech, or Weaty as he's better known.

Their meeting is rather odd and uncomfortable as Gabrielle is a little overwhelmed by the reserved nature of Hayden, and she can't help but wonder what he is hiding. But when Sharna finds out that Gabrielle plans on renovating the ramshackle hotel, she knows that Hayden, being a stonemason, should be able to lend a hand.

However, Hayden has his reasons for holding back. Up until eighteen months ago, he was happily enjoying life surrounded by great mates and a loving family. But one tragic experience changed his life forever, and the struggles continue to plague him. 

When he spends some more time with Gabrielle, he knows that he wants to assist her with the renovations, but will be able to open up and allow himself to care for her, or will his past continue to drag him down?

This was a highly enjoyable and entertaining story with a rich sense of community and a great cast of characters. The meticulous descriptions of the stunning rural landscapes provided the perfect cherry on the top! 

The Wattle Seed Inn is available now through Allen & Unwin.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Book Review: Nancy Business by R.W.R. McDonald



 I finally got round to reading The Nancys about a month ago after hearing lots of good things about it. I thought that it was such a witty and funny novel with a cast of unique characters, and was really glad when I found out that they would be back for more in the sequel titled Nancy Business. 

I had the opportunity to read Nancy Business, which is released this week, and loved it just as much.

The protagonist is 12 year-old Tippy Chan. Tippy is an adorable character with a great attitude to life, and is also really brave. 

 Tippy has had to deal with a lot in her short life, including the death of her father. She loves Nancy Drew novels (especially the hand-me-down copies that her Uncle Pike gave her), and she loves solving mysteries. Along with her Uncle Pike and his partner Devon, they form 'The Nancys', a secret amateur detective club.

In Nancy Business, Pike and Devon revisit Tippy and her mum to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Tippy's father's death. 

When an early morning explosion rocks the small town where Tilly lives, three people are killed and the town hall is destroyed.

The Nancys decide to go against the advice of the local police and work together to find out who detonated the bomb, and try to work out whether the town is still under threat. Only this time around, Pike and Devon can't see eye to eye, and Tippy finds out some truths that she would have rather not known. Can they solve the mystery before it's too late? You'll have to read it to find out!

Nancy Business is highly entertaining and just a really fun read. Whilst there are some heavier topics like death and grief, they are written in a gentle, sensitive manner.

Uncle Pike and his partner Devon are hilarious and I love them both! Their unwavering love for Tilly is clearly evident, and they do their best to support both Tilly and her mum. They have great personalities and bring a lot to the series. Add in Tilly with her can-do look on life and it's the perfect trio.

I'd highly recommend both of R.W.R McDonald's novels if you're after light-hearted, fun and fabulous stories. 

Nancy Business is available now through Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99


Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Book Review: Magpie's Bend by Maya Linnell



I have read both of Maya's other novels and she has come to be one of my most enjoyable rural fiction novelists, so I was happy to be given the opportunity to read her third novel, Magpie's Bend.

For those that may not be aware, Maya's previous two novels feature the McIntyre family; a family of four sisters, Angie, Penny, Diana and Lara, and their father Angus. Whilst the books don't need to be read in any particular order as they make great stand-alone novels, I would recommend reading Maya's other two novels if you can find the time as they are well worth a read, particularly if you enjoy stories with a lovely sense of community, belonging, family and a little love thrown in!

In Magpie's Bend, the reader is back in Bridgefield, a small rural town, and this time Lara is the family member that the story centres around.

Lara is a bush nurse and single mother to her teenage daughter Evie. She was once married to a man named Sam but it ended in disaster, and she has been wary of wearing her heart on her sleeve ever since. 

Toby Paxton is a new resident to the town; he is a journalist that has been sent to Bridgefield to run  the local newspaper. He's also divorced and a father to a teenage daughter named Holly.

When an accident occurs at Bridgefield's general store, Toby is introduced into Lara's life as she uses her nursing training to provide first aid to the store owner, Mrs Beggs. 

When the town comes to realise that the store may have to be sold, Lara makes it her mission to save the shop from being sold to out-of-towners who want to revamp it. But she soon realises that she won't be able to win the fight on her own.

The community rallies around whilst Lara, along with the McIntyre family and Toby, come up with fundraising ideas to save the store. As she spends more time with Toby developing ideas, she soon realises that her feelings for him are growing. But will she be able to trust a man again? And will they be able to save the store?

The cast of characters in Magpie's Bend make the story what it is. Their can-do attitudes and resilience shine through. There is a real sense of community and support for each other.

Add in the beautiful descriptions of the rural landscape, plus mouth-watering desserts interspersed throughout the story and you can see why this is a book that will certainly entertain. I look forward to reading more novels from Maya.

Magpie's Bend is released today through Allen & Unwin. 


Thursday, 13 May 2021

Book Review:  How To Mend A Broken Heart by Rachael Johns



 I have read quite a few of Rachael's novels, and must say that this one is my new favourite of hers!
Having read The Art Of Keeping Secrets a while back , I was already familiar with the main character Felicity and her friends and family. I really enjoyed how the reader gets to experience more of Felicity in this book. Whilst How To Mend A Broken Heart is not a sequel, the two books are linked, and I liked having that familiarity and the back story, so I do recommend reading The Art Of Keeping Secrets to gain further insight into Felicity's life and enjoy more of her, even though this makes for a perfectly entertaining stand-alone novel.
As mentioned, Felicity is the main character, and she has been separated from her husband for 4 years. She has two adult children, and enjoys a career as a taxidermist.
When she discovers that her ex has a new partner, Felicity feels as though she needs a change in her life, so when the opportunity arises for her to travel to New Orleans to work in a taxidermy store, she seizes it. Felicity isn't used to being so spontaneous, but realises that this change to her daily routine is just what she needs. It isn't long before she falls in love with the New Orleans way of living.

Meanwhile, Felicity's daughter, Zoe is happily married and hoping to start a family, but her world is shattered when she finds out that her husband is cheating on her. On a whim, she quits her job and follows her mother to New Orleans, unbeknownst to Felicity.
What follows is a journey of self-discovery for the two women. They make some great relationships, and experience some fantastic opportunities in New Orleans.
I love how Rachael really bought the surroundings of New Orleans to life. I feel as though I know so much more about the culture, cuisine, jazz music, nightlife and traditions of this city.   
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and am giving my followers the opportunity to win a copy of it, along with another great book. Head to my Instagram or Facebook post for further info.