Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Book Review: Something Like This by Karly Lane 



Tilly Hollis resides in the township of Ben Tirran, which is nestled in the New England mountains in New South Wales. She works hard in order to fulfill her dream career - opening an equine therapy program. Her husband David shared her dream but sadly he passed away a few years earlier, leaving Tilly to make a crack at it on her own.

Jason Weaver was in the army in the Middle East, but after an explosion that left him with the loss of part of his leg, he makes the choice to head to Ben Tirran as a builder in an attempt to adjust back to the civilian world.

One day Jason enters the cafe where Tilly works, and the two feel an instant connection. And when they discover that they are neighbours, it brings them even closer. Jason offers to help set up the area for the Guy Fawkes brumbies, the horses that Tilly is using in the therapy program.

As their relationship progresses, they both address certain issues that they are faced with, and try to accept that the past cannot be changed. Topics of grief and loneliness are touched upon in a sensitive way in this rural romance novel, and the characters show strength, courage and endurance. 

It was interesting to read about the Guy Fawkes brumbies; this breed of wild horse are descendants of the horses used in World War One, and have a very interesting history. Karly's passion for these beautiful animals is clearly evident in Something Like This.

Available now through Allen & Unwin Australia, RRP $29.99 

Thursday, 5 November 2020

 Book Review: I Follow You by Peter James

Bestselling author Peter James is known for his crime and thriller books, which are one of my favourite genres, so I was looking forward to reading his latest novel, I Follow You, which was released back in September.

I finally got around to reading it this week, and I thought that this was a great thriller. 

Marcus Valentine is in his mid-forties, married, and the father of three children. He is one of the most respected and trusted gynae-oncologists at the General Hospital in Jersey. 

On his way to work one morning, Marcus has a lapse of concentration which results in him almost running down a female jogger at a pedestrian crossing. As the startled jogger brushes herself  off and continues on her way, Marcus is transfixed by her.

The jogger bears an uncanny resemblance to a girl named Lynette that Marcus was infatuated with in his teens. His first unrequited love, and someone he has never been able to forget. He becomes obsessed with following the jogger her and tracking her down.

Georgie is a personal trainer and is enjoying life with her fiance, with lots of exciting opportunities going on. Thanks to a running app that allows followers to track running times and locations, Marcus tracks Georgie down and it isn't long before things spiral out of control! He becomes obsessed with her and his obsession threatens to destroy both of their worlds.

I would definitely recommend I Follow You if you are a fan of thrillers. It is available through Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $32.99

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 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Book Review: Ruby Tuesday by Hayley Lawrence

I recently received a copy of YA novel Ruby Tuesday and I was happy for the change in genre, as I hadn't read a young adult novel in a while.

The story centres around 17 year-old Ruby Tuesday; a girl whose hopes and dreams have been put on hold since her mother had an accident that left her in a wheelchair.
Ruby is an only child and has never known her father, so her relationship with her mother is very close.
With her dear grandmother recently passing, and falling out with her former best friend Alex, Ruby is having a difficult time.

She finds peace and healing in her music - song writing and singing. 
Her mother was a famous pianist before her accident, so music is in Ruby's blood, and it allows her to be creative.
It also offers a form of escapism from the trying times she is going through.

One night, Ruby attends a party hosted by one of her school mates, and it is there that she sees her crush, Joey Milano.
But the night does not go as planned, and Ruby is left traumatised by the events that take place, feeling as though she can't trust anybody again.

Thankfully, Alex reaches out and provides the support, care, and love that Ruby needs to get through it.
Ruby is reintroduced to Alex's cousin Erik, who has been living abroad since their younger years when they would all hang out together, and is now back.
But Ruby struggles to trust again, and when she is faced with an opportunity of a lifetime, she feels as though she won't be able to accept it as some things can never be put back together once broken...or can they?

Ruby Tuesday is a novel that explores a range of themes including music, friendships and relationships, grief, sexual consent, and healing.
Many of these experiences that Ruby goes through would be relatable to many teenage girls.
I enjoyed this novel, and even though I am not the targeted audience for it, I was still drawn to it.

I thought that the author's note at the end added a lovely touch. It was lovely to read about what inspired Hayley Lawrence to write Ruby Tuesday. 

The book is available from today through Penguin Random House Australia, RRP $19.99

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Book Review: Olive by Emma Gannon

I hope you are doing well in your part of the world.
Currently, we are in stage 4 of lock down here in Melbourne due to COVID-19, and it is a trying time for many.
My reading style has certainly changed this year - many books that I would usually go for don't seem right at the moment, and I am tending to read stories that don't require too much of me other than to just enjoy. I'm pleased to say that Olive fit the bill. 

This debut novel is told from the perspective of Olive Stone, a woman in her 30's with a great writing job for a feminist-focused magazine.
She has a long-term boyfriend named Jacob, and a close group of friends she's known for years - Bea, Cecily, and Isla.

Olive is an independent woman who lives alone, and she knows what she wants, but that's not to say that life is easy for her. 
Olive doesn't want to have children of her own, and this leads to her break up with Jacob, as he wants to have a family.
Although she has always had a really tight bond with her friends, Olive  is reluctant to tell them about her split from Jacob, as the women all have issues in their personal lives, including problems relating to marriage and motherhood.

The story goes back and forth in time from the present day to Olive's younger years in college, and as it unfolds, we gain a deeper sense of who each of the four women are and what each woman wants in life. 

I really liked Olive's character, and although there were some aspects of her personality that seemed to not quite match her childless by choice decision, she is a real and believable character.
I also adored her elderly neighbour Dorothy, and her quirky work colleague Colin. 

It was interesting to read about a woman like Olive who has to deal with the pressures and questions often faced in society regarding women who choose to be child free. 
As a mother, it made me gain a deeper understanding, and Emma Gannon has done a great job of exploring the complexities surrounding both motherhood and choosing not to have children.
She also captures the heart and soul of female friendships, with all of the ups and downs analysed in depth.

I would definitely recommend Olive. 
It is available now through Harper Collins Australia, RRP $29.99. 
For further information on this title head here 

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Book Review: We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker 

I have been making my way through my TBR pile this month, and when We Begin At The End got to the top, I didn't know just quite what I was in store for. I had read a brief description of what it was about, and it seemed pretty interesting, so I was excited to get reading.
Well! This book blew me away. It's so different from anything I have ever read. I fell right into the story and didn't want to leave.
I've struggled with putting a review up for this book as I'm not sure if I'll do it justice. 
To me, it felt like it was more than just reading a story. It was a moving experience, and a real joy to read such brilliant story-telling.

I could go on about how much I enjoyed it but for now, onto the review.

The story begins with a man named Vincent King. 
Vincent has been locked up in prison for the past 30 years for the killing of 7 year-old Sissy Radley, who was the younger sister of his girlfriend at the time, Star. 
Vincent was just 15 years old when he committed the crime.
Now, he has been released from prison and heading back to live in the small town of Cape Haven in California where he was born and raised. 
His best friend is police chief 'Walk' Walker, who has always supported Vincent. 

The townsfolk haven't forgotten Vincent or the case, including Star, who is now a single mum to 13 year-old Duchess and 6 year-old Robin.
Star struggles to be a good parent (or any sort of parent really) to her children as she is consumed by the demons of her past and spends her days drinking away the pain.
As a result, Duchess takes on the role of carer to both Star and also to her younger brother. She has had to grow up way before her time and her lack of regular childhood has hardened her.
She uses her ferocity as a protective mechanism, adapting the title of 'outlaw' to her persona. 

When Duchess tries to protect her mother from property developer Dickie Darke, she unknowingly sets of a chain of events that result in tragic circumstances and see her and Robin being sent to live with their estranged grandfather in Montana.

There is so much more to this story but I'm not going to detail what else happens as I don't want to spoil the experience for others. 
Quite simply, Chris Whitaker has written an exquisite novel. The characters have immense depth which allows the reader to become very attached emotionally (and I was so attached!) 
Duchess Day Radley is brilliant and she was my favourite character, but Walk also stole my heart.
 I read We Begin At The End  in a few of days, and it only took me that long as I was torn between wanting to know where the story would go and not wanting the story to end.
When I did finish it, I was so taken by it that I couldn't even pick up another novel. 
I then re-read it, and was glad that I did as I loved it even more the second time round!
I am looking forward to reading Chris's other novels as he has well and truly won me over with this one.

We Begin At The End is available through Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99 

Friday, 22 May 2020

Book Review: Sheer Water by Leah Swann

I've seen this book popping up all across social media with high praise, and was fortunate to read it recently.
I didn't know what the story was about, but those that had read it were using words like "tragic" and "heart-breaking" to describe it.
After finishing it within a couple of days, it is evident why those descriptions were used.
This was a very emotional, tender and devastating novel, written beautifully.

The story begins with a woman named Ava and her two sons, 9 year-old Max, and 4 year-old Teddy, driving to a new residence in the fictional coastal town of Sheerwater.
Ava is hoping to put the past behind her, which includes her abusive husband Lawrence, but she is nervous that she hasn't made the correct choice.
Nevertheless, she is determined to make a fresh start for herself and the boys.
About half an hour away from their destination, they witness a tragic accident involving a light plane crashing into  vacant grassland near the side of the road.
Ava makes the snap decision to get out of the car and assist, leaving her sons in the car.
Once paramedics and other passersby arrive to the scene, Ava heads back to the vehicle but makes the shocking discovery that her boys have gone missing and nowhere to be seen.
Who has taken the boys? Or did they wonder off on their own?

The story unfolds over three days and I felt that the beginning and ending were the best parts, although having said that, I would've liked to have an ending with more closure. An epilogue would've been helpful to provide that resolution. 
Sheer Water is told in alternating chapters from Ava's, Lawrence's, and Max's perspectives, and I thoroughly enjoyed the narrative of Max.
In fact, if the entire book was from his perspective, I would've given this 5 stars.

As mentioned, this is a highly emotional novel with an element of mystery, and one that will leave you thinking even after you have finished reading it. 

Sheer Water is available now through Harper Collins Australia, RRP $32.99 

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Book Review: Fool Me Once by Karly Lane

I don't mind reading the occasional rural romance, particularly with the vast range of talented female Australian authors available, including Karly Lane.
Her latest novel, Fool Me Once, is her fifteenth book, and I had the opportunity to read it recently.

Georgie Henderson is a cattle manager on a farm called Stoney Creek in the New England region of New South Wales. 
Farming has always been in her blood, with her family once owning a property named Tamban.
Sadly, Tamban was sold off to a large corporation after her father turned alcoholic following the death of Georgie's beloved mum years ago.
She's been managing Stoney Creek since the elderly owner Harry had a stroke and had to move closer to his family in Melbourne.
It is a job that  she loves, and although it can be difficult, she feels at home on the farm, and dreams of one day saving enough money to buy back Tamban.
Shannon is Georgie's outgoing life-long best friend and it is her idea for the two to attend a B& S Ball. 
Georgie decides to go along reluctantly, and it is there that she meets handsome businessman Michael Delacourt.
The two have an instant connection and end up doing something that neither of them would usually would do - spending the night together.
The following morning after making a hasty exit, Georgie thinks that they will never see each other again, but Michael has other plans and it isn't long before he tracks her down and the two fall head over heels.
A whirlwind trip to Hawaii where they decide to get secretly married follows, but sadly, the honeymoon period quickly vanishes when Georgie uncovers a terrible secret that Michael has been keeping. 
She feels as though she can never trust him again, but he wants to try and work things out.

This was an enjoyable read for me, I like how the story highlights the importance of women in farming.
Georgie is a strong, determined and passionate character, and those qualities shine through during the story.

Fool Me Once is available now through Allen & Unwin Australia, RRP $29.99

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Book Review: Who We Were by B.M Carroll

I have just finished reading Who We Were by B.M Carroll and thought it was excellent!
It really had me turning the pages and I read it in a couple of days as I simply had to know how it was going to end. It's a great book, I highly recommend!

The story centers around a group of men and women in their late 30's who all attended the same secondary school.
Katy, who used to be the shy and kind type, is organising a twenty-year school reunion for the past students, and the group of friends (and enemies) are planning on getting together at a venue in Sydney. 
For Katy, it is an opportunity to show the others that she is now a confident and capable woman.
As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the group chapter by chapter, and gain an in-depth understanding of who they are now, and as the book title suggests, who they were back then in their teenage years.
Annabel was once the most popular girl in school but found that changed after a fall from grace; she is now mother to three children and married to her high school sweetheart, Jarrod.
Grace is mother of four young children and has remained friends with Annabel after all this time.
Zach was once Mr Popular and known to make fun of others, but now claims to be a changed man with a family of his own, and helps others for a living.
Melissa has always been the high achiever, and her determination has made her a success, but her love life isn't all it appears to be.
And Robbie, who was always the victim of classroom jeers.

As the reunion date nears, Katy puts together an updated version of the high school year book, showing off their current-day lives as a bit of fun before they all get together.

But they begin to receive anonymous threats bearing some of their deepest and darkest secrets, and nobody knows who or where the threats are coming from. 
It is difficult to say more without spoiling it for others, but I really enjoyed this fast-paced, thrilling and mysterious novel.
I did find the ending was a little underwhelming but still very entertaining.
I think the author has done an amazing job telling the story from 7 different character's perspectives. 

Who We Were is available from 28th April 2020 through Viper Books, and has an RRP of $29.99

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Book Review: The Viennese Girl by Jenny Lecoat

Firstly, I hope that you are all doing well in these uncertain and challenging times.
It hasn't been easy but I am hoping that it won't be too long before things return to the way they once were. I have been busy helping my three daughters with their distance education, but I have tried to make sure that I make a little bit of time for myself each day to read, even if it is just a few pages here and there.

I have just finished reading The Viennese Girl by Jenny Lecoat, which is released today through Allen & Unwin.
It is based on the true story of a woman named Hedy Bercu.
The story begins with Hedy, who is of Jewish background and originally from Vienna, fleeing to what she believes to be the safety and isolation of Jersey in order to escape the Nazis in 1940.
She only has one friend in Jersey, a young man named Anton.
All of Hedy's family were left behind and she is unsure if they escaped or are still alive.
As the story progresses in time, Anton begins dating a young woman named Dorothea. Anton and Dorothea quickly fall in love and marry, however, Anton is forced to join the army and leave a heartbroken Dorothea behind.
Although Hedy has initial reservations about Dorothea, it isn't long before the two become firm friends.

Meanwhile, as desperate times call for desperate measures, Hedy hides her racial status and takes a job that is run by German authorities. It is there that she meets German lieutenant Kurt Neumann and the two soon fall for each other. But they both know that their relationship is a dangerous one, and the consequences of being caught together are a matter of life and death.
It is a risk that they are both prepared to take, but at what cost?

This was a quick and easy read, with a beautiful message of hope and love intertwined. Both Hedy and Dorothea were admirable, strong, brave and determined female characters, and this was captured beautifully by author Jenny Lecoat, who was born in Jersey herself.

The Viennese Girl is available through Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99. 

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Cook Book Review: Now For Something Sweet - Monday Morning Cooking Club

In 2006, a group of four women got together to form the Monday Morning Cooking Club to collect recipes and stories from some of Sydney's best Jewish cooks. 
Since then, the women have culminated three cook books, and Now For Something Sweet is the fourth that the group has put together.

This book features a number of cakes, biscuits, bars, tarts, and some savoury recipes also.
The recipes all have a little story about their origin, which I adored reading about, and the recipes themselves are delicious and simple to follow.
I absolutely love the photos in this cook book; they are so appealing and totally drool worthy!!

Interspersed throughout the book are special step by step instructions on how to perfect certain things such as making custard and chiffons, how to dissolve sugar, and how to work with yeast. 

I have been poring over this book for the past couple of weeks, reading the women's stories and admiring the recipes.
It is a beautiful book that celebrates family, food and friendships.
I have already made one recipe from this cookbook (Salty Sticks), and look forward to making many more, including the Romany Creams pictured below (with complete recipe).

Romany Creams

3 teaspoons unsweetened Dutch
cocoa powder
60 ml (¼ cup/2 fl oz) boiling water
250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter, at room
temperature, chopped
230 g (1 cup/8 oz) caster
(superfine) sugar
185 g (2¼ cups/6½ oz) desiccated
300 g (2 cups/10½ oz) plain
(all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 g (5⅓ oz) milk chocolate,
roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Line 2 large baking trays.
Combine the cocoa powder and boiling water and set aside. Beat the
butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the cocoa mixture and beat
to combine. Fold in the coconut, then sift together the flour and baking
powder, and fold into the mixture until well combined.
Roll large teaspoonfuls of the mixture into balls and arrange on the prepared
trays. You should end up with around 60 biscuits. Lightly press the tines
of a fork on to the top of each ball. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden, then
allow to cool.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a double boiler until just melted
and still thick. Use the melted chocolate to sandwich the flat sides of the
cookies together.
Makes 30

Recipes extracted from Now For Something Sweet by Monday Morning Cooking Club (Harper Collins Australia) RRP $49.99, out now.

Monday, 2 March 2020

Book Review: You Are No Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

This is the third novel that Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen have written together. I have read their other two novels, The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl, and thoroughly enjoyed both.
After reading You Are Not Alone, it is safe to say that this is another winner in my opinion.

The main character is Shay Miller, a 31 year-old woman with few friends, no job, and no significant other.
One Sunday morning as she is waiting at the subway, she sees a woman of similar age and appearance waiting on the platform.
In a matter of seconds, the woman leaps to her death in front of an oncoming train. Shay is left shocked and traumatised by the woman's death and tries to uncover more about the mystery woman.
She finds out that the woman's name was Amanda, and then goes on to attend her memorial service.
It is there that she meets a group of women who seem to have their act together, including sisters Jane and Cassandra Moore.
Shay is drawn to these women, in particular the two sisters.
When Cassandra and Jane start to take her under their wing and offer to help her out, Shay is thrilled.
But it isn't long before she realises that getting the life she wants comes at a price. 
What do the sisters really want from her? And just how well did they know Amanda? What secrets are they keeping?

This book had so many twists that kept me guessing until the end!
The story is told in alternating chapters, and as there are quite a few characters, it can be a teeny bit confusing to get your head around them all and the roles they play, so it's a book you need to give your full attention.
It is very well written, and the characters are described in a lot of detail, which I liked.

It wasn't at all predictable. It is a great thriller that will have you turning the pages!

Available now through Pan Macmillan Australia, RRP $29.99

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Book Review: Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain 

Morgan Christopher is twenty-two years old and in jail for a crime that she is not guilty of. 
She had dreams to escape the confines of her alcoholic parents home and persue a career in art, but that was put on hold on one tragic night when her life would change forever.
Serving a year into her sentence, she one day gets a visitor; a woman by the name  of Lisa Williams, whose father was artist Jesse Jameson, who passed away recently.
Lisa tells Morgan that her father's will specified that Morgan would be able to be released from jail early on the proviso that she restores an old post office mural in the small Southern town of Edenton. 
Morgan is hesitant initially, but it isn't long before she agrees, as Jesse was one of her favourite artists, and she is soon released from jail.
But the job she must complete is difficult, given the mural's age and condition, not to mention the deadline as it must be ready before the opening of an art gallery.
When Morgan begins cleaning off the layers of grime, she soon discovers that the painting has a story of its own - one of madness, violence and secrets...

Anna Dale is a young artist, originally from New Jersey, who moves to Edenton when she wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton.
Her mother has just recently passed away, and she is desperate for work, so accepts the position.
However, it isn't long before she finds out that the residents of Edenton have a lot of secrets to hide, and not everyone is happy about having Anna in their town, particularly the males.
Prejudice and accusations soon appear in Anna's world, and one day both she and the mural disappear...

So what ever happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues to her fate trapped in the layers of the mural? You will need to read the book to find out!

The story is told in alternating chapters, and flows beautifully between the two timelines.
I loved how it unraveled slowly to build up the characters development, and Diane does a great job of handling the heavy issues in the story in a gentle and sensitive manner.
I would definitely recommend this as I enjoyed the elements of mystery and both of the two main female characters. 

Big Lies In A Small Town has an RRP of $29.99 and is available through PanMacmillan Australia.
Thanks to PanMacmillan for an ARC.