Category Archives: Australia

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill -a review

the woman in the libraryThe Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquillity is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who’d happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Published 7 June 2022|  Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Woah, I thought I was ready for whatever Sulari Gentill can throw at me after that mind-bending twists of Crossing the Lines but she’s got a mean throwing arm! The Woman in the Library is a clever, imaginative thriller and so much fun to read.

The structure of the book is that of a letter from “Leo” and a chapter of story (which is found above in book description). At first, I did wonder which is “real” and which is fictional [remember, Crossing the Lines?!]. However, the author has something quite different in mind in this novel so it wasn’t quite that long before all is revealed and pretty soon, instead of one mystery, we have 2… Bonus!

As much as I enjoyed reading about the four strangers drawn together as friends, I was also very much drawn to the other mystery for which we pretty much only get Leo’s letters to read by. And yet, because of that limited scope, it’s that much more creepy and therefore, thrilling.

Another brilliant offering by a much loved author, Sulari Gentill, and one I’d highly recommend as it was very much an irresistible page-turner.

My thanks to Poisoned Pen Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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An A-List for Death – Pamela Hart -a review

An A-List for DeathAn A-List for Death (Poppy McGowan Mysteries #2) by Pamela Hart

TV researcher Poppy McGowan has never sought the spotlight and is none too happy to be photographed with rock god Nathan Castle. When the photo pops up on celebrity gossip sites, it sparks a media feeding frenzy, forcing Poppy to go to ground, don a wig, and pull some nifty moves to escape a tailing car. On top of that, she cops abuse from Nathan’s outraged fans.

None of this would have happened if Poppy hadn’t found Nathan’s mother Daisy, one-time glamour girl and elderly best friend of her Aunty Mary, bleeding and unconscious in her bathroom. The police dismiss the case as an accident, but Poppy is sure there are questions to be answered. Who attacked Daisy, and why? Will she come out of her coma? What secrets are her gathering family hiding? What happens to Daisy’s money if she dies?

When a murder occurs outside Daisy’s flat, the police step in at last. Unfortunately, they finger Poppy’s boyfriend, Tol, for the crime – after all, he had bad blood with the victim. As Daisy’s money-hungry family circle amid hints of poisoning, bribery and blackmail, Poppy must find a way to clear Tol’s name and ensure Daisy’s safety.

Published 1 June 2022|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

A terribly fun read! I enjoyed this second instalment better than the first book. It was easy and light to read with just enough hints on the mystery to keep you going all the way to the end. Of course, the romantic tingles between Poppy & Tol, and their solid trust in each other, kept me fully warm and happy.

The only problem I had was keeping up with the numerous characters. Even as the story is told purely from Poppy’s perspective, there were moments where I had to stop and try to think who this particular character is again in relation to Poppy & others in the book.

I love that it’s set in today’s Sydney and enjoyed zipping about with Poppy whose innate goodness touched all those around her. I truly appreciate the safe-ness and yet, still exciting, relationship between Poppy & Tol (so many books on brokenness that this was so comforting). Overall, An A-List for Death was a very relaxing and very entertaining read.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor -a review

dirt townDirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

My best friend wore her name, Esther, like a queen wearing her crown at a jaunty angle. We were twelve years old when she went missing.

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it. She has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.

What do we owe the girl who isn’t there?

Character-rich and propulsive, with a breathtakingly original use of voice and revolving points of view, Dirt Town delves under the surface, where no one can hide. With emotional depth and sensitivity, this stunning debut shows us how much each person matters in a community that is at once falling apart and coming together.

Esther will always be a Dirt Town child, as we are its children, still.

Published 31 May 2022|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s 

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

What a STUNNING debut! Undoubtedly one of my best reads of 2022 and I’m going to start this review, right off the bat, by Highly Recommending this book. You’ll not regret it. Actually, you will regret it if you don’t.

I thought Dirt Town was a novel I was going to enjoy as I do enjoy my crime reads. However, after a few pages, I knew I was not just going to enjoy this read. This read was more. I still can’t quite point the finger at exactly what it is but it was just such a rich read; compelling prose, concrete characters, engaging mystery and I am just in awe.

The description notes ‘revolving points of view’ and this phrase both interests me and made me a bit anxious but for once, I don’t have any complaint on the multiple perspectives. Each one was clear and definite, each voice unique. Sometimes, I found it a bit strange as moving on to another perspective, we are going over the same time period or scene as the previous chapter/perspective BUT it’s not actually going over old grounds as it were but different perspectives, in this novel, truly gave another viewpoint, another dimension to a certain scene. It really flesh out the whole story and made it ever more solid.

I could literally feel the snowball effect as I read; it started off slow but sure and after halfway, I could feel it gaining speed and the end was heartbreaking. The ending wasn’t as dark as some other crime/rural noir novels and in that way, I appreciated it a whole lot more. An immensely satisfying read, do yourself a favour and read this book. Then do me a favour by letting me know your thoughts x

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Signal Line by Brendan Colley -a review

The-Signal-Line-cover-for-publicity-600x913The Signal Line by Brendan Colley

Brothers Geo and Wes are testing their relationship now that their parents have passed away. Geo and Wes rarely agree on anything, especially not the sale of the Hobart family home. Geo needs the money to finance his musical career in Italy.  For Wes the house represents the memory of their father, and what it means to live an honest, working life.

But then a ghost train appears in Hobart, often on the tram tracks that once existed, along with the Swedish man who has been pursuing it for 40 years.

Everyone it seems is chasing their dreams.  Or are they running from the truth?

The Signal Line is a warm-hearted, unforgettable novel about what we are all searching for, even when our personal dreams and aspirations have collapsed: love and acceptance.

Published 1 May 2022|  Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

The idea of a ghost train and a ghost-train-hunter is really what tickled my curiosity but this novel is a lot more than that. It’s about dreams and chasing that dream but it’s also about living. I have to admit that I just didn’t quite get the theory / philosophy presented in this novel so I just kept on reading to get to the end.

That is probably the one of the reason that I didn’t quite love it but also because it introduced a lot of angst especially in the conflict between these two brothers. Unfortunately, I also didn’t like these two as characters… even at the end. I did however appreciate the little twist about the ghost-train-hunter.

Overall, I am sad to note that this isn’t quite the novel for me even as I can see the appeal for some other readers.  Please check out other reviews as I see I’m in the minority here.

My thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Good Captain by Sean Rabin -a review

the good captainThe Good Captain by Sean Rabin

Set in the near future – during a time of plummeting fish stocks, toxic algae blooms and jellyfish swarms – The Good Captain follows a group of radical environmentalists committed to a mission of extreme civil disobedience against the powers threatening to destroy the last of the world’s marine life.

Led by the wild Rena – born and raised by the ocean – the characterful crew engages in a high seas drama that contains all the thrill of a cat-and-mouse seafaring classic, while at the same time offering a timely warning for the political classes that their negligence will not go unpunished.

Evoking a disturbing vision of what the world might soon become – random, dangerous, surprising and sometimes even miraculous – The Good Captain is a gripping, confronting and truly unique novel.

Published 1 April 2022|  Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

The world presented in The Good Captain is such a miserable one. While most scenes are in open seas, it is implied that the rest of the world isn’t in such a good condition either and yet, still… there aren’t enough people caring for the world.

The novel opens with a secret mission on land gone wrong; a lot of blood, a fast getaway, and a mysterious cargo. Then we meet all the crew of the ship. Each with their own love for the ocean and willingness to sacrifice all to protect her. There were natural threats and some of human variety but this crew’s belief in their purpose helped them overcome all obstacles. The mysterious cargo was an interesting one though I had my doubts as to the purpose it was revealed for still the twist at the end was a bit of a eye-roll for me; there just didn’t seem to be much of a muchness.

While I can appreciate the importance of the book’s message, I didn’t particularly love it. With so many characters and unknown factors, I just found it a little bit of a mess. I didn’t find it too hard to follow except for a certain character but I found the story didn’t quite flow as smooth as I’d like. Well, maybe it’s a reflective of the ocean they are travelling on? There are others who truly enjoyed this read and while it’s not quite for me, you might enjoy it more than I did.

My thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads

The Mallee Girl by Jennifer Scoullar -a review

the mallee girlThe Mallee Girl by Jennifer Scoullar

A heart-warming new rural romance set in the Victorian High Country by the bestselling author of Brumby’s Run.

Armed with nothing but some loose change and her beloved dog Duke, Mallee girl Pippa Black has finally found the courage she needs to escape a dangerous relationship. Two cryptic words written on a paper napkin send her in search of the one person who might help her – a long-lost brother she has always dreamed of finding.

Pippa’s quest leads her to the remote town of Currajong, high in the beautiful Victorian alps. As a runaway seeking refuge among strangers, Pippa learns that she’s been mistakenly implicated in a shocking crime. She finds her way to Brumby’s Run, a wild-horse sanctuary, where she begins work assisting the enigmatic farm manager Levi, and becomes entranced by Thowra, a magnificent golden stallion who leads a herd of brumbies in the region. Both man and horse will teach Pippa more about herself than she ever thought possible – including when to run, when to hide, and when to stand up and fight.

Set among the majesty of the High Country snowgums, The Mallee Girl is a moving and heartfelt story about the power of love and the land to heal old wounds, and the freedom that comes in confronting your greatest fears.

Published 12 April 2022|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I enjoyed Jennifer Scoullar’s novels as each one has some Australian environmental aspect which I can appreciate anew. This time, we are immersed in the world of wild horses. Not just any wild horses though, there were many references which reminded me of Elyne Mitchell’s Brumby series which I guess is the point as author is also a big fan. I wouldn’t call myself a horse person but the reverent and beautiful description of these horses make me feel that I could be.

The protagonist, Pippa Black, is easily likeable especially as she grew in leaps and bounds throughout the novel. Her romantic interest, Levi Goldstein, though is totally a keeper! While I found parts of the plot a little hard to believe and/or rather convenient for the overall plot, I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Such a feel good read that I’d highly recommend as we hide under our blankets these rainy days!

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson -a review

everyone in my family has killed someoneEveryone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle meet Knives Out and The Thursday Murder Club in this fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.

I was dreading the Cunningham family reunion even before the first murder.

Before the storm stranded us at the mountain resort, snow and bodies piling up.

The thing is, us Cunninghams don’t really get along. We’ve only got one thing in common: we’ve all killed someone.

My brother
My step-sister
My wife
My father
My mother

My sister-in-law
My uncle
My stepfather

My aunt
Me

Published 29 March 2022|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Honestly, I didn’t expect to adore this book so much! It sounded somewhat interesting even if I thought description was a bit sparse in details but now that I’ve read it, you really don’t need to know much more. We’re told the type of book it is, who’s perspective it’s told from, the isolated setting, and a cast of characters.

The novel is told solely from the perspective of Ernest and in stream-of-consciousness style even as he’s telling his version of events as it transpired and his thoughts then with some references to what’s coming. It is acknowledged throughout that this is a book he is writing with references to his editor and his narration being ‘chatter’. I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of stream-of-consciousness as I usually find them hard to follow but Ernest’s chatter is highly entertaining. None quite full-blown Laugh-Out-Loud but truly amusing. Chapter 9 is still my favourite! Oh, and that reference to Jane Eyre … he’s got me! Total undying adoration 🤣

The unveiling at the end, of course, was so many lightbulb moments and after all he’s been through & the soul searching he’s done, I am very glad that Ernest found what he’s looking for. This novel is more than just a whodunit or a funny modern retake of it; at its centre is, of course, family. Do you know your family and what would you do to keep them?

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is a brilliant spoof of Golden Age whodunit mystery in the present day. If I can show you a list of tick boxes without spoiling it for you, I would have. As it is you just have to take me at my word. I feel, however, that I must reread from the beginning just to pick up all the clues I’ve missed in my first read. Maybe even grab a piece of paper and a pen to make notes… because, seriously, all Ernest’s entertaining chatter was an excellent sleight of hand. Bravo!

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  | facebook  |  instagram

Orphan Rock by Dominique Wilson -a review

Orphan-Rock_cover-600x913Orphan Rock by Dominique Wilson

Orphan Rock is a complex and richly detailed story of secrets and heartbreak that will take you from the back streets of Sydney’s slums to the wide avenues of the City of Lights.

The late 1800s was a time when women were meant to know their place. But when Bessie starts to work for Louisa Lawson at The Dawn, she comes to realise there’s more to a woman’s place than servitude to a husband.

Years later her daughter Kathleen flees to Paris to escape a secret she cannot accept. But World War One intervenes, exposing her to both the best and the worst of humanity.

Masterful and epic, this book is both a splendid evocation of early Sydney, and a truly powerful story about how women and minorities fought against being silenced.

‘Her writing is finely crafted, her prose poetic and subtle, and a joy to read.’ Monique Mulligan, author of Wildflower and Wherever You Go

‘Dominique Wilson is a wonderful storyteller. The research is impeccable, the realism unforgiving.’ Brian Castro, author of Blindness and Rage and Shanghai Dancing.

Published 1 March 2022|  Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Orphan Rock is an epic story of women over 2 generations. While readers follow their journeys through life, we also follow on a tumultuous time of history (of Australia & the world). These women lived through women suffrage, wars, the Great Depression,  influenza pandemic (this sort of hit rather close to home!), the Razor gang and many other significant historical events. They are ordinary women from the outlook and yet, at the end, you will see that even so, they are extraordinary for they came out the other end of sufferings, stronger and brighter.

I really wasn’t expecting the book to be quite so big (almost 500 pages) and it took me quite a long time to read because I can only read a little bit of suffering at time before I need something lighter to lift my mood. I totally agree with Brian Castro (see his blurb in above book description) especially in the phrase, ‘the realism unforgiving’. Gosh, yes, things just kept happening to these women and felt like they almost never caught a break! I think they did have a break but those chapters in their lives just didn’t make it into this book because it’ll be somewhat boring reading someone else cruising through life.

I’d recommend this book if you enjoy your Australian history; being immersed in last century’s Sydney and it really felt like a historical tour via the eyes of ordinary people who lived it then.

My thanks to Transit Lounge Publishing for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Wild Dogs by Michael Trant -a review

wild dogsWild Dogs by Michael Trant

Wild Dogs is a page-turning action thriller set in the WA outback, introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher.

In the drought-ridden rangelands of Western Australia, Gabe Ahern makes his living trapping wild dogs for local station owners.

Still coming to terms with his wife’s death – and the part he played in it – the old bushman leads a solitary life. Until one morning, when he rescues a young Afghan man, Amin, from certain execution.

Now, with a gang of people smugglers on his tail and the lives of Amin’s family on the line, Gabe is drawn into a ruthless game of cat and mouse. His main opponent is Chase Fowler, a kangaroo hunter with bush skills as wily and sharp as his own.

As the old dogger and roo-shooter go head to head, Gabe will need all his cunning to come out of this alive…

Published 1 February 2022|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I finished reading this over the weekend and began watching Reacher on Prime with hubby. And you know what… I’d love to see this one adapted to screen; it would be so amazing!! I can just imagine the vast dry outback scenes contrasting with all the greens and wildlife ones. I can totally see too that Jack Reacher and Gabe Ahern will see eye to eye in how they approach this problem Gabe had to face.

As the main protagonist, Gabe Ahern, isn’t the sort of character you’d see as a hero but he knows what’s right and that’s what he’d do. Mostly. When it matters. When he instinctively rescued an Afghan man, Amin, he did not expect to be drawn into a trouble deeper than his whiskey bottle. But he stepped right up and got done what needed to be done.

As this novel involves Afghan ethnicity and people smuggling, I found that author has handled this in a very respectful way. Even as others formed / spoken certain stereotypical opnions to Amin, they were rebuked and they accepted with grace. Characters opined on people smuggling and expressed (& provided for readers) thoughts when fully confronted (face to face) with the problems. It seems a distance away but it is not… I have enjoyed this part of the novel very much.

I have to admit at having rolled my eyes as the “Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher” bit on the book description but it really ramped up my expectation of this book. I won’t tell you exactly what I thought after I read it because it’s mostly spoilerish but be assured that Wild Dogs was a definitely a high-charged thrilling read.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Murder Most Fancy by Kellie McCourt -a review

murder most fancy

Murder Most Fancy (Indigo #2) by Kellie McCourt

She’s not responsible for the corpse this time. Okay, maybe just a little bit. Our favourite socialite and felon are back in a madcap new sleuthing adventure … for readers of Janet Evanovich and Kerry Greenwood.

She really didn’t mean to become a detective …

Home for just 48 hours, billion-heiress Indigo-Daisy-Violet-Amber Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bombberg has already committed two (completely understandable) felonies, reignited a childhood feud, been (possibly) humiliated (again) by her first love, and fallen over a nameless homeless dead man. All while strolling in her grandmother’s garden …

Grandmother’s kindly neighbour, Dame Elizabeth Holly, wants to spring the anonymous corpse from the coroner’s freezer. She’s convinced Indigo and her parolee personal assistant Esmerelda can unearth the man’s identity, thus allowing his burial. Meanwhile Grandmother wants the unlikely duo to locate Dame Holly’s possibly missing gentleman friend. Dame Holly’s miserly granddaughter and not-so-bright son don’t want her involved with any man – dead or alive.

Are the cases related? Why are they receiving clues from an unknown helper? Should they cooperate with Detectives Searing and Burns, who tried to arrest Indigo for blowing up her plastic surgeon husband last summer? What is Esmerelda’s secret? It’s not so bad to undress a detective. Twice. Is it? How illegal can it be, really, to break into a top-secret government facility?

They’re not annoying a ruthless organised criminal on purpose, they’re just trying to help …

Published 5 January 2022|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

This book isn’t one I’d have picked up on my own initiative and I had my doubts when it arrives at my doorstep. Of course, being a tad OCD with reading book series, I had to start with book 1, Heiress on Fire, and found that I enjoyed it immensely. I do highly recommend that you start reading this series with book 1, Heiress on Fire, because there are just so much you’d miss out on if you didn’t and there’s a flyaway line of mystery from book 1 in book 2.

There were a couple of things that I’d normally avoided in my reads especially the way the mystery ended (eurgh!) but it was done rather quickly so I didn’t mind it so much plus I totally DIDN’T pick it. I love all the characters in this book; they were all so unique and added to the book’s overall humorous air. The main protagonist, Indigo-Daisy-Violet-Amber Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bombberg (I had to copy+paste that because I just cannot remember!), can be both easily likeable and annoying. Annoyingly endearing! She really grows on one. Along with her sidekick, Esmerelda, who is absolutely delightful on her own right, they prove to be an unbeatable team.

Murder Most Fancy is a lough-out-loud rollicking read. If you need something to switch off with, I’d highly recommend this series. I can’t recommend any higher than by telling you that I’m already considering of re-reading them again because they were so amusing and we all need a bit of that these day.

My thanks to The Book Stack for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  | facebook  | instagram  | twitter