Category Archives: Books

The Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker -a review

the empress of timeThe Empress of Time by Kylie Lee Baker

They had come here expecting to find a runaway orphan, but I would show them a goddess.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami Ren Scarborough is no longer the girl who was chased out of England – she is the Goddess of Death ruling Japan’s underworld. But her problems have never been greater. Her Shinigami see her as a foreigner on the throne. Her brother, Neven, is gone, lost in the deep darkness. And her fiancé, Hiro, has been killed by her own hand.

Then Ren receives the most troubling news yet – Reapers have been spotted in Japan, and it’s only a matter of time before Ivy, now Britain’s Death Goddess, comes to claim her revenge.

Ren’s last hope is to appeal to the god of storms and seas, who can turn the tides to send Ivy’s ship away from Japan’s shores. But he’ll help Ren only if she finds a sword lost thousands of years ago – an impossible demand.

Together with the moon god Tsukuyomi, who shares an uncanny resemblance to his brother Hiro, Ren ventures across the country in a race against time. As her journey thrusts her into the middle of scheming gods and dangerous Yokai demons, Ren will have to learn who she can truly trust – and the fate of Japan hangs in the balance.

Published 19 October 2022|  Publisher: Harlequin AU  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

The ending of The Keeper of Night practically killed me so I needed a good & proper closure. I was terribly upset and needless to say, so was Ren. Well, Ren was absolutely LIVID. She would do anything… ANYTHING to get her beloved brother back and that’s what she’s trying to do in this sequel to The Keeper of Night. On top of that, she’s had to put up with insubordination of her underlings AND the British Reapers coming for revenge against her.

There was a lot going on in this book. I must admit that my memory of The Keeper of Night was kind of sketchy but it didn’t really matter in the end. The Empress of Time is another tale of quest and adventure involving Japanese mythology (gods & creatures) wherein Ren finally truly found herself and home. A truly satisfying but grueling ending for our self-made goddess of death.

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

About the author

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Built to Last by Erin Hahn -a review

built to lastBuilt to Last by Erin Hahn

Erin Hahn’s Built to Last is a sparkling second chance romance about owning what you’re worth and fighting for the one who got away.

Shelby Springfield has spent the last ten years trying to overcome her past, sanding it away like the rough spots on the vintage furniture she makes over. But as a former child star, it’s hard to forget a widely documented meltdown and huge public break up with her former co-star Lyle Jessup. It’s also hard to forget her other co-star and childhood sweetheart, Cameron Riggs—the one who got away.

Anytime Shelby has called, Cameron has come running… And then he runs right off again to chase stories around the world by making documentaries, too scared to admit what he really wants. But when Lyle stirs the pot, getting the two back in the spotlight with a home renovation show, Cameron can’t help but get on board.

There’s something in it for everyone—almost. Cameron wants to set down some roots. Shelby wants to prove she’s not the messy party girl anymore. And a jealous Lyle can’t help but try to get in the way. But for his two childhood friends who had more chemistry than he could ever dream of, nothing is getting in the way of their second chance at love.

Published 18 October 2022|  Publisher: St Martin’s Press  |  RRP: AUD$22.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

A beautiful mature second chance romance; it was such comfortable read that leaves you with a warm cuddly feeling and absolutely content sigh.

Shelby Springfield was a mess. But no longer! Her life is in set order and she know what she wants. Or rather Who she wants. Cameron Riggs had been running for some time and he’s getting a bit tired of it. Maybe it’s time to make things right… with everyone.

It was so easy to fall in love with both characters. Despite some misunderstandings, they are both quite mature to be able to turn around and set things straight (most times anyways) so I was very happy with this. They were both quite gaga over each other and with the addition of some hot sauce plus a HEA, this novel truly has the hallmarks of a charming romance novels.

My thanks to St Martin’s Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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A Restless Truth by Freya Marske -a review

a restless truthA Restless Truth (The Last Binding #2) by Freya Marske

Knives Out meets The Binding in this historical romp full of magic, romance and adventure.

Maud Blyth has always longed for adventure. She’d hoped for plenty of it when she agreed to help her beloved older brother unravel a magical conspiracy. She even volunteered to serve as an old lady’s companion on an ocean liner. But Maud didn’t expect the old lady to turn up dead on the very first day of the voyage.

Now she has to deal with a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and the lovely, dangerously outrageous Violet Debenham. Violet is everything Maud has been trained to distrust, yet can’t help but desire: a magician, an actress and a magnet for scandal.

Surrounded by open sea and a ship full of suspects, Maud and Violet must learn to drop the masks they’ve learned to wear. Only then might they work together to locate a magical object worth killing for – and unmask a murderer. All without becoming dead in the water themselves.

Published 10 November 2022 |  Publisher: Pan Macmillan  |  RRP: AUD$34.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I just adored A Marvellous Light so I was excited to continue the series even if I’m not quite keen on series where each instalment has different protagonist. I wanted to see the overarching mystery through. Plus, I really do like the magical system which in this book  was even more developed.

This novel opens as Maud is returning to England from America; undercover as a companion to an elderly lady. Immediately we are confronted with murder and Maud’s insistence on solving this mystery. Of course, she has help from expected corners (thanks to certain visions) and more, she encounters her first romantic experience.

A Restless Truth makes a rather enjoyable and light read but unfortunately, it lacks certain sparks that makes A Marvellous Light absolutely adorable. The complex layering mystery was intriguing but I just couldn’t get into this pairing. Yes, there were a number of spicy scenes along with romantic ones but strangely, I was more touched by the ending with Maud’s homecoming scene. I think this is probably me… I get too attached to the original protagonist from the first book that it’s really hard for me to like anyone else! Although, I am hoping the third book will be a certain bad boy lord! I can totally get into that one. His appearance in this novel has intrigued me. I’d like to know his past.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Carnival is Over by Greg Woodland -a review

The Carnival is OverThe Carnival is Over (Mick Goodenough #2) by Greg Woodland

1971—Hal is seventeen, with dreams of escaping from Moorabool to a life in the city. But right now he’s on a good behaviour bond and stuck in a job he hates, paying off the car he ‘borrowed’ and crashed. Hal’s packing-room job makes him a target for workplace bullies and the friendship of the older, more worldly Christine is all that makes each day bearable. So when she doesn’t turn up for work, he’s on the alert.

So is Sergeant Mick Goodenough. But he already knows what’s happened to Christine: the same thing that happened to the newly elected deputy mayor. When another gruesome ‘accident’ occurs in Moorabool, Goodenough suspects there’s something sinister going on behind the scenes at the abattoir.

Mick and Hal are both determined to dig up the truth. Before long each of them is going to find himself in mortal danger and running for his life.

Greg Woodland, author of the acclaimed The Night Whistler, returns with another nailbiting rural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Published 2 August 2022 |  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

A follow up on The Night Whistler, The Carnival is Over is set approximately 5 years after the events in The Night Whistler. Hal and Allie are on the verge of adulthood and Mick Goodenough promoted to Sergeant and quite settled in Moorabool. And yet, he still likes to rock the boat especially when he’s got his teeth into a puzzling mystery.

The Carnival is Over is a thoroughly enjoyable complex mystery that kept you guessing all the time with just enough suspense to get your heart racing. The switch of views from character to character were done smoothly and flawlessly that I had no problem following. If you like The Night Whistler, then you’d love The Carnival is Over.

My thanks to Text Publishing for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien -a review

All Thats Left UnsaidAll That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

There were a dozen witnesses to Denny Tran’s brutal murder in a busy Sydney restaurant. So how come no one saw anything?

‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny,exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam,and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.

Tracey Lien’s extraordinary debut pulls apart the intricate bonds of friendship, family, culture and community that produced a devastating crime. All That’s Left Unsaid is both a study of the effects of inherited trauma and social discrimination, and a compulsively readable literary thriller that expertly holds the reader in its grip until the final page.

Published 30 August 2022  |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Ky didn’t allow her mother to have feelings, because to grant her these would mean acknowledging that she was a person who had desires and dreams beyond what Ky saw. It was easier to imagine her as a caricature, as an immigrant Cabramatta parent, whose only desire was for her children to become doctors and lawyers (or ideally both), whose only means of expressing love to them was through cooking their meals, washing their clothes, and criticizing them into being better people.

My background isn’t Vietnamese nor refugee however I’m married into one and hence, this book piqued my interest. In the 90s, I was in my teens and we didn’t live anywhere near Cabramatta though we heard stories, of course. Despite Cabramatta not being my own stomping ground and my childhood, as sheltered as it was, there were many moments in the book that were just so identifiable in many different ways.

Ky is the main protagonist whom readers follow as she tried to find out how and why her brother was murdered. However, at least half of the novel is told from and of other people involved in this mystery. So much so that, near the end of the book, I feel that the structure of this novel is like a jigsaw puzzle where each piece reflects a different facet of this community and together, they form a full picture, albeit with cracks.

All That’s Left Unsaid is a novel of loss, of grief, of burdens we were given and picked up throughout our lives. Author’s prose is concise and phrases are polished to a shine; it is sharp as papercut. Please do yourself a kindness and read this book.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Opal Miner’s Daughter by Fiona McArthur -a review

the opal miners daughterThe Opal Miner’s Daughter by Fiona McArthur

Obstetrician Riley Brand leaves the city behind to go in search of her mother, who’s taken leave from her marriage to pursue a passion for opal mining in the dry backblocks of an old mining town. Accepting a short-term posting as a fertility expert in Lightning Ridge, Riley plans to assist women pursue their baby dreams in remote and regional areas, while at the same time helping to rekindle her parents’ love for each other.

The small dusty community is a far cry from her polite medical practice on the North Shore of Sydney, but the down-to-earth locals soon welcome her into the fold with their Friday night social gatherings. But no one is more welcoming than enigmatic doctor Konrad Grey, the GP who’s working alongside her.

When an employee of their medical practice confesses she’s hiding an unexpected pregnancy, Konrad and Riley are thrown together in challenging and wonderful ways.

A moving and heartwarming story about new life and new loves, about the treasures to be found above and beneath the surface of a small country town, and about the important choices women must make in life.

Published 30 August 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 really do enjoy rural romance but yet I don’t read that many and this is one of my reading goals this year, to read some more! The Opal Miner’s Daughter is definitely an excellent rural romance read and I’m thrilled to have been sent one for review. I must say that the title somehow led me to have had a different expectation. It just sounds more like one of those historical fiction with family tragedy etc etc but it is very much NOT. Also, I know 2 boys named Riley and having a female protagonist named Riley kind of messed with my head a bit; I kept having to check myself.

Dr Riley Brand is an intelligent and independent woman. She is a strong sensible character and I just love this to bits! She was fun, sensitive, and easy going except when it comes to a certain gorgeous doctor in town. And even then, she was open to learn. All the other women in this novel were just as amazing and the men were funny but overall this small community in Lightning Ridge was wonderfully tight-knitted.

The Opal Miner’s Daughter is a light-hearted romantic read; one that ended with my sigh of contentment. However, it also tackled tough issues such as stigma of illness, infertility, depression, and a few other things, and done in such beautifully sensitive way that didn’t make the reader sad but hopeful. An utterly delightful and pleasing 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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The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings -a review

The Women Could FlyThe Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings

Josephine Thomas has heard every conceivable theory about her mother’s disappearance. That she was kidnapped. Murdered. That she took on a new identity to start a new family. That she was a witch. This is the most worrying charge, because in a world where witches are real, peculiar behaviour raises suspicions and a woman – especially a Black woman – can find herself on trial for witchcraft.

But fourteen years have passed since her mother’s disappearance, and now Jo is finally ready to let go of the past. Yet her future is in doubt. The State mandates that all women marry by the age of thirty – or enrol in a registry that allows them to be monitored, effectively forfeiting their autonomy. At twenty-eight, Jo is ambivalent about marriage. With her ability to control her life on the line, she feels as if she has her never understood her mother more. When she’s offered the opportunity to honour one last request from her mother’s will, Jo leaves her regular life to feel connected to her one last time.

Published 9 August 2022  |  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$34.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I deserve to be angry about these things. There is nothing wrong with knowing you’ve been treated poorly for no good reason and wanting to be treated better.

I cracked open this book in the middle of reading When Women Were Dragons and immediately, I was hit with the similar vibe between the two. Granted, one is about dragons and the other, witches, but oh, the anger, the sadness, and over everything else, the tiredness was palpable and off the page.

The protagonist, Jo Thomas, is a woman and therefore, she could be a witch. She is also the child of a Black mother so that double or triple the chance that she could be a witch. And then, her mother disappeared when she was a child; with the suspicion that she was a witch, the chances that Jo is a witch skyrocketed and everything she does comes under scrutiny. Then she disappeared and reappeared… she MUST be a witch. Jo, understandably, is one very confused, lost, angry, and exhausted woman. One who has had to defend her position in society at every second and even to supress her uniqueness in order to fit and under the radar. 

The Women Could Fly is a story of self discovery of what could be if only we could be and how magical that could be. It is Jo’s story. It is her mother’s story. It is her grandmother’s story. It is her BFF’s story. It is a story of all the women. It is a powerful note on our society and those oppressed; a dark tale with a glint of hope.

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 Happiest Little Town by Barbara Hannay -a review

The Happiest Little TownThe Happiest Little Town by Barbara Hannay

Happiness has a way of catching up with you, even when you’ve given up trying to find it.

Tilly doesn’t believe she can ever be happy again

Fourteen-year-old Tilly’s world is torn apart when her single mother dies suddenly and she is sent a million miles from everything she has ever known to a small country town and a guardian who’s a total stranger.

Kate is sure she will be happy just as soon as she achieves her dream

In the picturesque mountains of Far North Queensland, Kate is trying to move on from a failed marriage by renovating a van and making plans for an exciting travel escape. The fresh start she so desperately craves is within reach when an unexpected responsibility lands on her doorstep.

Olivia thinks she’s found ‘happy enough’ until an accident changes everything

Ageing former celebrity actress Olivia is used to winning all the best roles in her local theatre group, but when she’s injured while making a grand stage exit, she is relegated to the wings. Now she’s determined that she won’t bow out quietly and be left alone with the demons of her past.

When these lost souls come together under the roof of the Burralea Amateur Theatre group, the countdown to opening night has already begun. Engaging with a diverse cast of colourful characters, the three generations of women find unlikely friendship – and more than one welcome surprise.

From the bestselling author of The Garden of Hopes and Dreams comes a heartwarming and uplifting story about the joys of new beginnings.

Published 2 August 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Isn’t it just the cutest book cover!? And that title, I feel that I’m guaranteed an easy, light-hearted, and uplifting read which my mood tells me I need these days. It did not disappoint; The Happiest Little Town certainly made me happy.

I find it always touching when 3 generations of women are brought together. I love to see the effect they have on each other. In this novel, the mix of Olivia’s wisdom, Kate’s generosity, and Tilly’s grief made a lovely cocktail of lasting friendship. I am in Kate’s age group so while I was rather frustrated with some of Tilly’s decisions and actions, they are rather understandable considering her loss. I am in awe of Kate’s heart and her generosity… it’s not Tilly’s fault that she is who she is but golly, Kate was just so very kind.

While the story revolves our 3 main protagonists above. There were bits and pieces about other residents of this town that made it The Happiest Little Town. They may not be that relevant to the plot as such but they do make the town more 3-dimensional. And what’s a town without its people?

The Happiest Little Town‘s residents may not be happy aaallll the time as each of them have either had difficult pasts or are still struggling to come to terms with those pasts. However, they do know to pick themselves back up and let’s just say it’s a happy ending all around. Such a comfort read and truly, I just want to give this book a cuddle – that’s how much I enjoyed it.

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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Booked on a Feeling by Jayci Lee -a review

booked on a feelingBooked on a Feeling (A Sweet Mess #3) by Jayci Lee

Jayci Lee’s romcom Booked on a Feeling features an overachieving lawyer. A failing bookstore. A childhood friend. And the chance of a lifetime…

Lizzy “Overachiever” Chung, Esq. has her life mapped out neatly:
* Become a lawyer. Check.
* Join a prestigious law firm. Check.
* Make partner. In progress.

If all goes to plan, she will check off that last box in a couple years, make her parents proud, and live a successful, fulfilled life in L.A. What was not in her plans was passing out from a panic attack during a pivotal moment in her career. A few deep breaths and a four hour drive later, Lizzy is in Weldon for three weeks to shed the burnout and figure out what went wrong. And what better place to recharge than the small California town where she spent her childhood summers with her best friend, Jack Park.

Jack Park didn’t expect to see Lizzy back in Weldon, but now he’s got three weeks to spend with the girl of his dreams. Except she doesn’t know of his decades-long crush on her–and he intends to keep it that way. She’s a high-powered attorney who lives in L.A. and he’s a bookkeeper at his family’s brewery who never left his hometown. He can’t risk their friendship on a long shot. Can he? When Lizzy decides that the local bookstore needs a little revamp, of course, Jack is going to help her bring it back to life. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes to ignore there might be more than just friendship among the dusty shelves and books…

Sometimes the path to the rest of your life has been in front of you all along.

Published 26 July 2022|  Publisher: St Martin’s Press  |  RRP: AUD$22.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Absolutely Adorable!

I was hesitant jumping into a third book in a series without having read earlier books however… the past few years have really made me see that life’s short so I’ve been DNF-ing books I’m not enjoying AND jumping in mid series (although of course, I still try to make sure that they’re ones that can stand alone like this one). This particular book in the series appeal to me because it’s one of my favourite tropes AND set in around books!! You guessed it, I read it in a single sitting.

The shaky beginning was followed by so much sweet cuteness and sparks overload reaching to a crisis that ended so very precious, I really felt like I was so warmly hugged by this whole book. To have characters who actually talked to each other! Ohmygosh, they communicate (!!) mostly and even if they were still hiding or uncertain of some things which I found a tiny bit frustrating at times but overall, I found these two to be quite mature and refreshingly somewhat functional adults. Now, I’ve really gotta dive into author’s backlists!

My thanks to St Martin’s Press for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Those Who Perish by Emma Viskic -a review

those who perishThose Who Perish (Caleb Zelic #4) by Emma Viskic

A MYSTERIOUS MESSAGE
Deaf PI Caleb Zelic has always been an outsider, estranged from family and friends. But when he receives a text that his brother, Anton, is in danger, Caleb sees it as a chance at redemption.

A REMOTE ISLAND
He tracks Anton down to an isolated, wind-punished island, where secrets run deep and resentments deeper.

A KILLER IN THE SHADOWS
When a killer starts terrorising the isolated community, the brothers must rely on each other like never before. But trust comes at a deadly price…

Published 28 April 2022|  Publisher: Pushkin Press |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  BooktopiaAbbey’sA&RQBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I have a love-hate relationship with this series. I love the setting, the prose, and the characters. I absolutely abhor the angst Caleb have about Kat and Ant. Especially Kat and the on-off vibe of their relationship. I guess this is an inherent part of Caleb’s personality that has been mentioned in the book and therefore, it’s like watching a car crash where you know it’s going to be bad and you don’t really want to see it but you can’t turn your head away. That’s exactly how I feel about this whole series.

As always, Caleb stepped into a mystery bigger and ever more dangerous but this time, as he’s about to become a father, he really needed to question his involvement. And yet, things got out of hand very quickly with his life and those he loves in danger. Of course, the ending is never what I thought it’d be with all the miscommunications and misunderstandings adding to the complexity of the twists and turns that ends with a big splash.

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

About the author

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