Review: Sweet Wattle Creek

sweet wattle creekSweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher via NetGalley

The image of discovering an old couture wedding dress really appeals to me. There’s an air of something very romantic –not only of the fact that it’s a wedding dress but of the possibilities of its story or rather the original owner’s story. As a reader, I think, you’d be able to relate in the similarities of finding an old book –the potential of what it has seen since it’s been printed. The smell of its history is practically irresistible.

Sweet Wattle Creek is the story of two women across time, connected by the tenuous thread of a wedding gown, in rediscovering oneself. Both Sophie (current) and Belle (past) have experienced grief / trauma that practically incapacitated them but something has happened in each their lives that reminded them what living is all about. Whilst Sophie is running from her dangerous past, Belle insisted on knowing her mysterious past despite the threats she’s felt against her identity of self. They must both decide whether happiness is worth fighting for or not.

Throughout the tale, there is a slight sinister air about the past of both women. Whilst one secret was no surprise, the mystery of other was well concealed until near the very end. It was not as sinister as it could’ve been and in a way, it was a relief! It was, however, a fairly good mystery that kept me guessing. Overall, Sweet Wattle Creek is a lovely story that kept me reading as I cheer these women on.

Thanks Harlequin (Australia) MIRA for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Killing Lessons

the killing lessonsThe Killing Lessons by Saul Black
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Uncorrected Proof courtesy of publisher

There seems to be a flood of psychological thrillers these days since Gone Girl. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of that book and so, I feel a little ambivalent towards this genre. In saying that, it still hasn’t stop me reading one or two and I thought this was one. Fortunately, it’s not! And fortunately, I have absolutely enjoyed this reading this book –even if my heart was permanently in my mouth from start to end.

The book began with a chilling scene. It’s a scene which grabbed my attention straight away from the contrast of a nice safe homey feeling (with smells of baking!) to the intrusion of sinister strangers. This is all in one (1) sentence. Yes, the very first sentence! My heart began to race and did not stop until right the very end. The tension of the chase and the pace of the tale was maintained exquisitely throughout the telling.

The Killing Lessons was so much more than the book blurb. It wasn’t just about the little girl who survived nor the detective on the trail of these murderers. There were a number of other perspectives which took a little time to get used to but which I fully appreciated later on. It’s almost like hearing a story from everybody’s points of view so you’d get the full picture of what’s happening.

I could not put this book down. It was an electrifying ride reading from the points of view of victims, murderers, and detectives. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to all thriller lovers and I’ve fallen in love with this author too! I think I might even try his fantasy works 

Thanks to Hachette Australia via The Reading Room for Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review

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Blog Tour: The Earl’s New Bride ~a review



Title: The Earl’s New Bride
Author: Frances Fowlkes
Publisher: Entangled Scandalous
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Kindle

England, 1819

The Earl of Amhurst has returned to his estate in search of a wife and, more importantly, an heir. Simon Devere isn’t interested in some comely, simpering creature. A beautiful woman only brings heartbreak and ruin, and Simon’s disfigured visage is proof enough of that. No, he wants a wife who is unattractive and undesirable—and the homelier, the better.

But nothing about Lady Henrietta Beauchamp is homely. She is lovely and sweet…and struggles to mix with polite society when she would so much rather have plants for company. And yet Simon is her only hope for keeping Plumburn Castle in her family’s possession. Even if it means marrying a man she doesn’t love.

It’s an impossible and unlikely match…unless this awkward beauty can bring hope back into a solitary beast’s life.

My Blurb (3 stars)

The Earl’s New Bride is a light-hearted romantic fluff.  The novel opens with Lady Henrietta Beauchamp nervously getting ready to meet the new Earl, the heir to her father’s entailed estate.  The purpose of the gathering, however, wasn’t quite as innocent as it was well-known that the Earl is looking for a wife.  What Henrietta really wants though is the chance to live in her father’s former estate where her memories of him are strongest but the Earl is proofing to be more than she ever expected.

Henrietta was an easily likeable heroine; a beautiful caring person who is also intelligent and gifted.  She has an impediment which the reader can recognise straightaway though this does not detract her beauty and intelligence, it does lower her self-confidence.  The Earl has his own demons to deal with –not only his reputation is society but also internally.  His heart has been betrayed and broken too many times and he’s determined not to let anyone in.

This was a very quick & easy read that you could finish within a couple of hours.  It was entertaining enough; a sweet romance, a light mystery, and an HEA.

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After viewing her all-time favorite love story, “Anne of Green Gables”, at the impressionable age of ten, Frances Fowlkes has been obsessed with affable boy-next door heroes, red-heads, and romance stories with lots of “highfaluting mumbo jumbo” written within their pages. It only seems natural then that she married the boy who used to pull on her curls in her high school English class, had not one, but THREE red-headed boys, and penned multiple love stories with bits of flowery prose.When not writing, Frances loves spending time with her family, fangirling, and planning her next vacation.Frances Fowlkes, originally a northern mid-westerner, now lives in the southeast with her ardent hero of a husband, three playful and rambunctious boys, and one spoiled standard poodle.A self-professed Anglophile and summa cum laude graduate of LeTourneau University, Frances Fowlkes combines her passion for happily-ever-afters with her interests in both American and English histories.

For More Information

Visit Frances’ website.

 September 7
Book featured at 3 Partners in Shopping
Book reviewed at What is That Book About
September 8
Book reviewed at Griperang’s Bookmark
September 9
Book reviewed at Books and Warpaint
September 10
Interviewed at Review From Here
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Book review and Interviewed at Bambi Unbridled
September 15
Guest blogging at Lisa Loves Books
September 16
Book reviewed at Archaeolibrarian
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Interviewed at I’m Shelf-ish
September 18
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Book reviewed at Book Nerd
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September 24
Guest blogging at Around the World in Books
September 25
Book featured at Chosen By You Book Club
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Book reviewed at Addicted to Romance
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October 2
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Review: Tower of Thorns

tower of thornsTower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Please note this is a review of Book 2 in Blackthorn & Grim series.  You may wish to read review for Book 1 instead, Dreamer’s Pool.

Aaah… I can’t believe that it’s here and that I’ve finished reading it. One of my most anticipated release this year and I don’t particularly want to move on just yet. It has been a wonderful immersion into a fantastical world full of magic, mystery, and of course, true love. Why would you not want to read it??

Blackthorn and Grim weren’t like the usual pairings. They were bound by a deep understanding that could only be reached when you have suffered terribly together; a need to cling together in order to survive each day, weathering the storms of bad memories. Blackthorn is prickly as her name and Grim, despite his visage, is a very patient one. As such, they complement each other and their interactions entertain me so much. They feel so real that I have all my heart invested in these two. If you’ve read Dreamer’s Pool then you’d read that what their relationship is platonic and whilst I did hope for some romance, I was fairly content with status quo as this relationship was just so unique. In Tower of Thorns, we get to see this relationship deepened as their bond was tested by the past coming to the present.

The fairy tale spin of this instalment was both beautiful and horrific. The novel begins with Geiléis setting the scene of the curse and her preparation to break it. Immediately, I was filled with a delicious tension which was maintained right to the very end. The sad tale of the curse was told a little bit at a time in an enigmatic way to make you wonder how exactly this will turn out.

’Can true love triumph over the odds? The only answer I have for that is sometimes yes and sometimes no.’

Let me just say that I was surprised at the ending –it was a heart-pounding climax both lovely and sad. Juliet Marillier is a very talented writer in interweaving historical fiction/fantasy/fairy tale -so meticulous in details and terrific characterisation. This fairy tale is not Disneyfied; in fact, it is rather Brothers-Grimm-like though with that additional dimension / perspective.

I must say, Blackthorn [Marillier] summarised it well herself, at the end of the book:

What happened felt too big to take in. It was a tale of cowardice and courage, intrigue and simple goodness, choices that were complicated mixtures of right and wrong.

Thanks Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of Uncorrected Proof in exchange of honest review

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Review: Man Tiger: A Novel

man tigerMan Tiger: A Novel by Eka Kurniawan
translated by Labodalih Sembiring
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

I can no longer say that I speak Bahasa Indonesia fluently. I have an Aussie accent now though really, my Indonesian isn’t that bad! In any case, there are always certain things which do not ever translate well and it’s to my advantage that I can mix the two languages. I have, however, a keen interest in translated works especially from Bahasa Indonesia. This was the only basis I had as interest in Man Tiger and boy, I was blown away.

Man Tiger drew me in right from the very beginning and kept me in its grip all the way to the end. The mystery isn’t a whodunit but rather ‘whydunit’. I thought this was a rather a fresh proposal but since I already know who, it might rather be difficult to keep me interested but I was kept spellbound through to the end of the book. The story of the town and of Margio and his family fascinated me with their brokenness, their zest for life, and most of all, their passions.

There were a few things, translation-wise, which threw me off. I think sometimes, you just cannot translate certain things especially when it is a native food with no western world equivalent. It just didn’t sound right. I was also surprised at the sexual content and thought that I probably would not like it if I was reading the book in its original language. For some reason, sexual scenes just sound rather vulgar in Indonesian. A week later, I read an interview of the author, Eka Kurniawan, who stated this exact same thought! Nevertheless, I’m looking to source this when I go overseas next month.

Overall, I found the novel to be reminiscent of Haruki Murakami‘s. The magical realism aspect of the novel was slightly similar to Murakami’s works though the strange factor is not quite at the same level. The ending, I feel, could be Murakami too… It was so abrupt though I really could not imagine what else there is to be so really it was abrupt but perfect.

Man Tiger is a very passionate tale –Passion which drives us to live, to feel, to need, and even drive us crazy. I’m a huge fan of Murakami and I believe, Eka Kurniawan belongs on the same spot in my heart. If you’re a fan of Murakami, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with Man Tiger.

Thanks Verso Books (US) via NetGalley for eARC in exchange of honest review

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Review: I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes

pancakesI Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Source: purchased own paperback copy

This was another cover crush for me… I just couldn’t resist hot air balloon on cover, for some reason, and since I loved Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Colours of Madelaine series, I had certain expectations of this book.

As always, there are good reviews and bad though they all agreed that the writing is quirky. The Colours of Madelaine books were quirky and I loved it though I found it hard to sell to my book-club mates (most of them think she tried too hard) so I don’t have an issue with quirkiness. I was really looking forward to this, actually, and as I began reading, really enjoyed it… I even nearly snort-laughed which was a pretty good effort.

I think if you’re not an Aussie and specifically, Sydney-sider, you’d miss the references to ‘Banana Bar’, frozen chocolate coated banana, ‘Pie in the Sky’, etc. But as I happened to be one, I can understand her wistfulness in each of these things and wishing for them too! Time for a family road trip, methinks.

Halfway through the book, however, I started to be disillusioned with the book. Yes, it was fun but oh, there was too many secrets and betrayals that the whole story felt fractured. There is “the secret” which was supposed to be the twist but I didn’t even enjoy it… Did not like “the secret” and it didn’t catch me by surprise either.

On the book cover, this is marketed as “a fairytale for grown-up”. I’m sorry, this isn’t much of a ‘fairytale’… I could not pin point true-love and what was the moral of the story again? Hhhmmm, I’m just not convinced. In summary, as my 1 year old would say, ‘Beh!’

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Review: The Automobile Club of Egypt

automobile clubThe Automobile Club of Egypt by Alaa Al Aswany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

I must begin by acknowledging, once again, my penchant for Egypt. I’m interested in all things Egypt and am just fascinated by the people & culture. The Automobile Club of Egypt began with a very curious event followed by a really engaging middle and a non-ending.

Before chapter one began, the readers become witnesses to fictional characters coming to life. From chapter one onwards, we traced the origin of ‘automobile’, the Automobile Club in Egypt, and started following the lives of the Gaafar family.

The first few chapters were interspersed with passages on the invention of automobile by Karl Benz. I found these to be quite charming and was disappointed that there wasn’t more. I wonder at how accurate they are historically but Bertha & Karl Benz were very interesting that I’m going to be looking up his biography.

There are many perspectives in this novel –mostly of the Gaafar children especially Kamel and Saleha. From these two, we see the struggle of Egyptians in a world determined to keep them as they were (servants ever after, never master). However, as intelligent beings coming to understand their own worth, each sought for their own place in the world but not as prescribed to them.

I am finding it hard to describe exactly what it is that drew me to the Gaafar family, each of the four children are so different in intellect and temperament that each perspective was unique. I can’t help but to sniff and roll my eyes at the eldest, Said, for all his posturing. And Mahmud’s perspectives amusing, despite all his shortcomings.

The book didn’t feel like it ended for me… It felt like there should be more… There wasn’t a feeling of completion like the circle is still left open. I don’t know if it’s mean to be a series of some sort though there hasn’t been any mention of it online. I just feel that I need that extra chapter to relate to the very beginning of the novel for that all-rounded kind of feeling.

The Automobile Club of Egypt is a fascinating tale with brilliant characters and excellent plot. It is a novel that captivates the reader despite only reading on the daily lives of Egyptians. It’s a fairly sizeable book but I didn’t have one jot of wandering mind as I was fully immersed in the story and very involved (vicariously) in these characters’ lives.

Thanks to Penguin Australia for paperback copy in exchange of honest review

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