Thursday, 26 January 2017

Some of my Favourite Books by Aussie Authors, and a Giveaway!

Happy Australia Day to you all! 
I hope that you all have a wonderful day celebrating our beautiful nation!

I have compiled a list of some books by Autralian authors that I have really enjoyed in the past. 
I'll also be giving away a copy of The Landing by Australian author & journalist Susan Johnson, so read on to see how you can win!!

Some of my favourites (in no particular order) are:

The Family Frying Pan by Bryce Courtenay. 

This is such a beautiful story. I believe that it is one of Bryce's lesser-known novels, but certainly one of his best.I have two different copies of this book; one has recipes and pictures included, whilst the other edition doesn't. 
The story tells of Mrs Moses, the only survivor left from her village, who manages to stay alive using her family frying pan as a weapon of sorts. She joins other Jewish refugees to flee Russia and make their way into America. The book is a series of short stories in which each refugee shares a tale. It is a delightful read!

Lost & Found by Brook Davis 

Although it has been a while since I last read Lost & Found, it is a book that I still hold dear.
The characters are quirky, and the story is very sweet (and sad).
 It deals with grief, feeling lost, and finding out what life is all about.

Goodwood by Holly Throsby 

One of the most enjoyable reads for me last year. You can read my full review of it here 

Promising Azra by Helen Thurloe

Azra is a 16-yr-old girl who wants to study science at university after she completes secondary school, but her parents are busy making arrangements for Azra to marry an older cousin that she has never met. 
This story will make you think and make you feel. It's targeted as a Young Adult novel, but older readers will enjoy it too. 

A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester

This book took my breath away!
It is set in the 1920's era, in New York, and the main character is a young woman named Evelyn ‘Evie’ Lockhart.
Evie's family expect her to marry young and have children, but she has other ideas. 
She wants to study to become one of the first female doctors, and be able to deliver babies.

After facing much difficulty, Evie is finally accepted into medical school, and she pays her way by getting a job on Broadway as a Ziegfield Follies girl in the evenings. 
You can read my full review here

The Art Of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

I'm a big fan of Rachael's novels, and this one was no exception. 
Released last year, this is a fantastic story about friendships and secrets, and it is told with a lot of heart. 

The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas 

This is such a powerful story, it is not difficult to see why it has been awarded the 2009 ABIA Book Of The Year Winner, and shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award.
It was also made into a tv series, which featured a cast of great Australian actors.

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion 

This book made me laugh out loud in many parts as I read about the adventures of Don Tillman aiming to find the perfect woman to marry. 
Don is such a great character, and I thought that the follow-up, The Rosie Effect, was equally as good. 

So, there's a few of my favourite Aussie books/authors.

And now, for the giveaway!

In order for you to win a copy of The Landing by Susan Johnson:

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:

Which is your favourite Australian book and why? Or, who is your favourite Australian author 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 2nd February, 10 pm; winner will be contacted via email within 48 hours. Failure to receive a response from the winner will mean the prize is forfeited and a new winner  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 any prize that goes missing through Australia Post.
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: The Landing by Susan Johnson is my own personal unread copy that I have offered for a giveaway. I have not been paid for this review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Beauty & Lace Book Review: The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa 

The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa is a historical fiction novel that spans generations throughout the tale.
We are introduced to Hannah Rosenthal, a German Jewish girl, aged almost 12, who hails from a fairly wealthy background, living in Berlin.
Her best friend is a boy named Leo Martin, who I found to be a delightful character that bought some brightness to this rather confronting story. 
It is 1939, just before the war, and the town where Hannah resides is changing, and not for the better.
Friends no longer want to communicate with each other, and the neighbourhood feels unsafe. 
Hannah and her parents become 3 of some 900 passengers to board the SS St Louis, a luxurious transatlantic liner that will take them safely to Havana, where they will then be put on a waiting list to gain entry in the United States of America.
But it is not all smooth sailing once they are onboard. 

We also meet Anna Rosen, who resides in New York, the year is 2014, and Anna has lost her father to the Twin Tower bombings. 
She receives a package from Hannah, who is in fact her long-lost Great Aunt.
Anna travels with her grieving mother to meet Hannah, who still resides in Havana after all this time.

This story has a lot of information to process, but it has been researched very, very well, and that really comes across as you read.
I felt at times that there was a little bit too much going on at once, which made it a little complicated, and it did take me quite a bit of time to get really attached to it, but the story is highly emotional, and focuses on persecution, and finding salvation and hope in the direst of circumstances. 
It is not difficult to see why it is getting many great reviews. 
If you are a fan of historical fiction, then this book should be the next one you read. 
Personally, I enjoyed it, even though it was quite sad and not the genre of book that I would usually choose to read. 
I particularly liked the Author's Note and the photos that are included at the back of the novel exhibiting the real passengers that boarded the SS St Louis.

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of The German Girl thanks to Beauty & Lace and Simon & Schuster. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website, head here
All opinions are my own, and not influenced in any way. I was not paid for this review. 

Monday, 16 January 2017

Book Review: How Not To Fall In Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto 

I've had some fairly busy days during the school holidays, but I always love to unwind with some reading when I can, and the latest book I've read is How Not To Fall In Love, Actually by Catherine Bennetto.
I really enjoyed this book; it was light-hearted, highly humorous, and definitely worth a read!

The main character in this novel is a woman named Emma, who works in television, but it is proving that it is not as glamorous as it is cracked up to be. 
She is in a relationship with Ned, who, although a very decent sort of gent, doesn't contribute anything financially to their relationship as he is always trying to come up with new ideas that will hopefully make him a fortune. Sadly, up until this point, his ventures have proven fruitless. 
When Emma discovers that she is pregnant, she goes into panic mode.
She decides that she is better off just being friends with Ned, quits her job, (blame the pregnancy hormones!), and realises that she doesn't have all that much time to create an environment that is stable for not only herself, but for when her little bundle of joy arrives. 
After her grandmother passes away, Emma is left a share of her home. (Her sister Alex is the other beneficiary but is busy travelling the world helping out those less fortunate in third world countries.) 
Emma moves into the home, and is introduced to her adorable, quirky octogenarian neighbour, Harriet, who, along with her Doberman Brutus, sees it her duty to protect the neighbourhood from criminals and any unusual behaviour in the area.
She is just one of the many characters that I adored. 
The way that Catherine describes each character gives them real personality; I could picture every single character in my mind.
There's Alex, Emma's sister, as I have mentioned. She is Emma's best friend and a great support for her sister.Their bond reminded me of the relationship I have with my sisters. That unconditional, non-judgemental, but tell-you-how-it-is relationship.
There's Emma's mum, Diana, who wears designer brands, and never has a hair out of place. But behind it all, she has Emma's best interests at heart, and I adored her. Plus, her efforts to maintain her youthfulness really had me laughing out loud. (Colonic irrigation anyone?!)
We also meet Joe, who shows up drunk on Emma's doorstep one night, and who ends up becoming her accidental tenant. Joe added a lot of heart to the story, and whilst I was wary of him at the start, we soon discover that he is a real gentleman. 
There are many more great characters in this story, which left a lasting impression after I had finished the book. 
I felt that Emma's journey through her pregnancy was paced well, and accurate. I particularly enjoyed the labour scene. It's well worth the wait!!

This is a really heart-warming and delightful story that I'm sure many of you will enjoy.
It is due for release very soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for it!

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. I have not been paid for this review. 

Monday, 9 January 2017

Book Review: The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman 

This book has been on my list of books to read for quite a while, so last week I finally picked it up from my local library and finished it within a few days. 
I read the large print version, which was over 550 pages.
I'm sure that there are many of you who have already read this, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on it if you have (for those of you who have commented on my Facebook post, thank you so much; I really appreciate and enjoy communicating with you all!) 
For those that haven't read it yet, I'd sum it up as an easy read that will tug on your heartstrings!

Tom Sherbourne returns home after a four year stint on the Western Front, and he gets a job as a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock.
Before he leaves, he meets a young woman by the name of Isabel Graysmark, and they start a relationship. 
Over time, Isabel and Tom marry, and live together on Janus Rock. 
Their attempts to start a family fail when Isabel has two miscarriages and a stillbirth. 
Both Tom and Isabel are devastated; Isabel is almost consumed by grief.
One day, they discover a boat that has washed up close by - the passengers are a dead man, and a beautiful newborn baby girl.
Isabel persuades Tom to keep the baby, even though he is hesitant to do so.
She feels that this baby was sent to her to help her overcome her heartache at the losses she has experienced.
But we soon find out that Isobel's decision comes with a lot of complications once the true identity of the baby is discovered. 

This story drew me in, but I felt that there was something missing. I'm not entirely sure what, but after hearing so many positive things about it, I had pretty high expectations, and it didn't quite live up to that for me. 
There were positives though.
For example, I enjoyed reading about the detailed descriptions of the lighthouse, and the isolation that lighthouse keepers face. It was something that I hadn't really ever considered, and it made me more aware of how the lighthouse keepers must have felt, and how they etched out a living.
I think the author captured the emotions of Isabel perfectly. As a mother myself, I could understand the decisions she made.
I also enjoyed the ending. It didn't make me cry, but I felt it was a fair and sweet conclusion.
I felt sorry for Isabel, but I was most sympathetic towards Tom. He was such a decent person who was willing to go above and beyond his commitments as a husband.
Overall, I'm glad I made the time to read this book, but sadly, I can't say that it is one of my firm favourites.
If you've read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Book Review: A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald

Firstly, I'd like to wish you all a very Happy New Year! 
I hope that you all had an enjoyable festive season, and I'd love to hear if you received any books for Christmas.
I'm sure that A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald would've been wrapped up and put under quite a few Christmas trees this year!
A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester is one of those stories that you wish could go on just that little bit longer, it is that good!
It is set in the 1920's era, in New York, and the main character is a young woman named Evelyn ‘Evie’ Lockhart.
Evie's family expect her to marry young and have children, but she has other ideas. 
She wants to study to become one of the first female doctors, and be able to deliver babies.
After facing much difficulty, Evie is finally accepted into medical school, and she pays her way by getting a job on Broadway as a Ziegfield Follies girl in the evenings. 
There is nothing that will prevent Evie from fulfilling her dreams, and that is what I most enjoyed about her.

Evie is everything I admire in a female character – she is strong, inspirational, determined, and always willing to push herself that little bit further to get where she wants to go in life, regardless of the hurdles.
Natasha's descriptions of everything from the fashions of the bygone era, to New York’s landscape, to obstetrics, are highly detailed, and you can tell that she has researched these topics extensively. I loved Natasha's writing style in this novel.

I really felt for Evie, she certainly did it tough, having to fight her way to be treated equally. 
I haven’t read a book of this genre in a while, and I must say that this one was told so well; I relished being taken back to the ’20’s and reading about the struggles women faced based on their gender. And can we just take a moment to admire the book cover - talk about stunning!!

I would love to see this book adapted to television or film.
I look forward to reading more from Natasha Lester. 
Her new novel, 'Her Mother's Secret' is set to be released in March 2017, and I look forward to getting my hands on a copy!

Disclaimer: I was given a proof copy through Beauty & Lace. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. I have not been paid for this review.