Category Archives: Australian Author

The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock -a review

the other side of beautifulThe Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Lost & Found meets The Rosie Project in a stunning break-out novel where a vulnerable misfit is forced to re-engage with the world, despite her best efforts.

Meet Mercy Blain, whose house has just burnt down. Unfortunately for Mercy, this goes bey ond the disaster it would be for most people: she hasn’t been outside that house for two years now.

Flung out into the world she’s been studiously ignoring, Mercy goes to the only place she can. Her not-quite-ex-husband Eugene’s house. But it turns out she can’t stay there, either.

And so begins Mercy’s unwilling journey. After the chance purchase of a cult classic campervan (read tiny, old and smelly), with the company of her sausage dog, Wasabi, and a mysterious box of cremated remains, Mercy heads north from Adelaide to Darwin.

On the road, through badly timed breakdowns, gregarious troupes of grey nomads, and run-ins with a rogue adversary, Mercy’s carefully constructed walls start crumbling. But what was Mercy hiding from in her house? And why is Eugene desperate to have her back in the city? They say you can’t run forever…

Exquisite, tender and wry, this is a break-out novel about facing anxiety and embracing life from an extraordinary new talent.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

An adorably beautiful cover for an adorably beautiful novel. I always look forward to each new novel by Kim Lock because I know that I would love it. I always find myself smiling unconsciously when reading her books; I don’t know how she does it. That is not to say that her novels are happy or funny but that there are happy & funny moment in amongst the detritus that is life. Trust Kim to always get into the heart of things.

The novel opens as Mercy’s house is on fire and we meet Mercy as she stood in the middle of the street in her jammies. She was understandably confused and trying very hard to hang on to the last shred of her sanity. Her house, the only place she felt safe in, is burning down and she is forced to take her first step onto the street after 2 years of hiding. Then the only person she could turn to is her not-quite-ex-husband, Eugene, but he couldn’t shield her either. If she can’t hide, maybe she can run… and as fate has it, her mode of transport is right outside.

Bending over, she howled into her hands. She couldn’t take this anymore. She couldn’t take the feeling of her body in a constant state of anxiety, everything tensed like a rabbit awaiting a fox. Unrelenting guilt ate at her, acid sloshing her insides. The waiting, the endless waiting. For what?

I have no idea what panic attacks are like. I just know that they are supposed to be absolutely terrifyingly bad. From reading this novel, it does feel that author has done her work in research but this is a novel and should be read as such. Mercy’s journey as she faced down her troubles is heartachingly beautiful but again it is fiction and should not be used as basis of advice.

The world wasn’t safe. Nothing was safe; nowhere was safe. I couldn’t even human.

Mercy may have begun her journey with only the van and her faithful dachshund, Wasabi, but there was a community of travellers out there. I loved this community and especially Andy, being the one she opened up to & tell-all person. Their acceptance, non-judgemental, and generous attitude towards others and life is delightful; something for us all to emulate.

Be here now, and know that whatever now is, is transient.

I may have started reading The Other Side of Beautiful with a tiny bit of trepidation because her last novel, The Three of Us, was rather hard-hitting (I rated that one 5-stars too) and I’m really not in the mood for that sort of read. However, The Other Side of Beautiful proves to be such a balm in the midst of a lockdown. Being in Mercy’s shoes while she traversed the great Australian landscape, it was truly an escape that I vicariously loved.

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

About the author

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Catch Us The Foxes by Nicola West -a review

catch us the foxesCatch Us The Foxes by Nicola West

Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out …

Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small Australian country town

Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local newspaper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of her best friend – the town’s reigning showgirl, Lily Williams.

Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.

When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.

What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation.

Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way she could never have dreamed of.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I don’t often get NetGalley’s pre-approval emails and when I do, I don’t usually find those books that interesting and so was my first thought about this novel. I’m very much a cover girl so I have to say that cover really didn’t interest me and I can’t really remember why I decided to take up this offer anyway. In any case, good job, past me, because I would’ve really missed out! I thoroughly enjoyed Catch Us The Foxes.

The novel opens with a prologue where protagonist, Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson, is about to speak about a book she wrote. A book about what happened in the past. A book that we all gets to read because this is the main meat of Catch Us The Foxes. It is a book within a book. The Showgirl’s Secret is the title of Lo’s book where she told the story of her friend’s suspicious death and the ordeal she went through as she determinedly tried her best to discover the truth.

But what is the truth? Does she even truly know her friend? or her town? What secrets are such small sunny beach tourist town like Kiama could keep in their hearts? A town where she has lived her whole life. Lo must uncover layers of lies and decide who she can trust.

Within the first few minutes, I knew that this was a novel I would really liked. I found Lo easily likeable even if her character sounds a little unstable at times but then again, that is the way Lo portrayed herself in her book so, without too much spoiler, you do have to wonder what her character truly is like.

The setting, Kiama, being only a couple of hours’ drive away, really made me want to just nip down there for a day but… lockdown 😦 However, if you visit author’s insta, you can see some of the views there. I have been previously so it was a tad difficult to imagine such a dark foreboding secret at such a beautiful spot.

Catch Us The Foxes is a thrilling suspense where tension is taut from the very beginning right to the very last word. It was creepy. It was tense. It was one hell of a ride. I was caught by twist upon twist right up to the end of the epilogue where only the readers, us, know what is ‘true’. I’d highly recommend this to all thriller fans.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart -a review

digging up dirtDigging Up Dirt (Poppy McGowan #1) by Pamela Hart

Renovations are hell. And that’s before you find the body beneath the floorboards. An intriguing mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, for readers of Kerry Greenwood and Holly Throsby.

When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn’t).

Unfortunately, ‘help’ comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy’s old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she’s ever met – and also Julieanne’s boyfriend.

When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy’s house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects – and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family Party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?

Can Poppy save herself, and Tol … and finally get her house back?

Published 2 June 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I don’t read very many cozy mysteries but when I do, I enjoyed them immensely. There aren’t many set in Australia though (please do correct me if I’m wrong but I just haven’t encountered that many whilst they seem prevalent overseas) so this was, to me, such a fresh breath of air. A romp through my beloved hometown filled with its diverse residents and quirky [read: Aussie] humour.

Within a few minutes of reading, I know I’d have so much fun reading this. And I did. In fact, I read this in a single-sitting [ignoring the fact that I had to cook dinner & feed my kids]. The first moment that I loved in this book is when we met Mirha, a minor character who doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot, but author’s description of her described a friend to a tee that made me so happy lol (you know you are!! x)

As always, her hijab, loose top and trousers in various shades of turquoise…

My next encounter with a minor poc character felt a little funny to me. A description of his office noting wedding photo of mixed race parents just felt a little bit unnecessary and therefore, forced into the book. Maybe I’m being a little sensitive noting my background and the usual whitewashed cozy mysteries I’d read. After the read, however, and I’ve stepped back a little, I noticed that overall, author’s just describing the usual cast of diverse people you’d meet in Sydney but for me, this multicultural mosaic stood out a mile away. And I very much appreciated author’s inclusivity intent.

On that note, however, I found myself a little bit bashed as well with the religious & LGBTQ+ factors of the novel. While these are somewhat relevant to the plot, I do feel that the way Poppy repeated her perspective several times to be unnecessary and superfluous to the story.

As Poppy is living at home with her parents while renovating her new house, we get to see her parents quite a bit and I do love this family picture especially her mother (guilty…😅)

Mum wasn’t satisfied, but of course she would believe a total stranger before she would believe me. That’s what being a mother does to you.

Poppy McGowan is truly an easy protagonist to love and one you can easily imagine of coming across in real life. She’s a down to earth, intelligent, modern & sensible woman. I loved that she’s not trying to justify [too much] why she’s investigating looking into things and that her interaction with the real investigating detectives aren’t fraught with too much secrets. In fact, she tried her best to keep those detectives up to date with her findings without betraying too much confidences. I must say that I did guess the murderer because I think those red herrings are too much in your face so I dismissed them rather easily.

Digging Up Dirt is an absolute joy to read; a setting that says home to me (diverse residents, coffee culture, & some sceneries!) and a fast paced mystery that kept me turning the pages. I just couldn’t put it down.

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

About the author

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Secrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney -a review

secrets my father keptSecrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney

Set in Poland on the eve of the Second World War, Secrets My Father Kept is the gripping story of a young woman determined to uncover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance and the dark secret from her father’s past.

Secrets My Father Kept is a captivating novel about love, sacrifice, secrets and resilience, as the clock inexorably ticks down to a devastating world war.

It’s February 1939. As the Führer edges towards an invasion of Poland, total war looms in Europe.

However in Krakow, seventeen-year-old Marie Karska’s primary concern is the unexplained disappearance of her mother fifteen years ago, and her father Dominik’s unbreakable silence on the matter. Even his wife’s name is a secret he guards closely.

Dominik, a well-respected and innovative doctor at the local hospital, has devoted his life to caring for his only daughter. Yet a black fear haunts him – over the questionable act he committed to keep Marie safe. And with German troops now marching to the border, he needs to find her a husband. One who will protect her when he no longer can…

But Marie has already met the man she wants to marry: her childhood friend Ben. She’s determined that his Jewish faith won’t stand in the way of their future together. And nor will her father’s refusal to explain the past stop her from unpicking his darkest secret. . .

Published 1 June 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

The older I get, the more picky I find myself to be with my reads. Although the past year and a half may have something to do with my taste in reading. I just won’t put up with anything that really upsets me and lacks patience with slow paced book or ones where I’m pretty sure I know how it will end. I would usually checked the ending of the book before I DNF’d. I pretty much figured out the ‘secrets’ in Secrets My Father Kept before I’m halfway through and that’s the reason it took me so long to read it. I just didn’t have much patience for it after that. I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep reading but I did make myself and found that it was totally worth persevering for.

I enjoyed WWII novels as even as we witnessed the horrific things people can do to each other, we also witness the bravery, resilience, and greatness of heart others have. This particular novel is a pre-war setting; 1939 in Krakow. Main characters are Polish with their own set of challenges which mostly are not WWII-related but the upcoming holocaust affected them too. Both characters are intelligent, strong, and easily likeable. Their story is a wonderfully heart-warming reminder of how vast & deep a mother’s love can be.

A-mothers-love-for-her-child-is-like-nothing-else-in-the-world.-It-knows-no-law-no-pity.-It-dares-all-things-and-crushes-down-remorselessly-all-that-stands-in-its-path.-Agatha-Christie

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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Love, In Theory by Elodie Cheesman -a review

love in theoryLove, In Theory by Elodie Cheesman

Elodie Cheesman’s joyous debut is a modern take on the age-old decision between following your head or your heart in the search for love.

There’s an algorithm for everything else, so why not love?

When 24-year-old lawyer Romy learns that she is at her ‘optimal stopping point’ (the mathematically designated point at which one should select the next ‘best person’ who comes along in order to have the best chance at happily ever after), she knows it’s time to get serious about her love life.

Ruthlessly rational, with a belief in data over destiny, Romy knows that reliability and consistency are dependable options, while passion and lust are transitory and only bring pain and disillusionment.

That’s why sensible Hans the engineer is the right choice, as opposed to graphic designer James who exhibits the kind of behaviour that has got her into trouble before. Isn’t he?

Published 25 May 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

This book is an unsolicited review copy and honestly, it isn’t a book that I’d pick up on my own steam. The cover is pretty cute but not particularly eye-grabbing so I reckon I’d walk by without noticing much. However, the premise of an algorithm for finding love rather tickled. It’s not particularly unique as I’m sure I’ve seen other books with similar premise but I was happy enough to give this book a chance.

It seems to me that pretending to be the person everyone wants you to be is easier than grappling with the messiness underneath.

Romy is an easy protagonist to sympathise with… She’s young, single but a tad lonely, has pretty good friends and loving parents. She seems like she’s pretty much got it all but when you dig deeper, she’s got issues as we all do. Her workplace (despite the prestige etc) isn’t all it claims to be. Her love life is practically non-existent and with 2 awful relationships behind her, she’s very unsure on how to find Mr Right. And she especially is very unsure on how to find whether Mr Right is right inside as well as outside.

“…,there’s a big gap between our private thoughts and intentions and public words and actions. I think that’s what intimacy is — learning the landscape of that divide. It’s not insuperable, and sometimes it’s worth putting in the effort to understand another person.”

As Romy looks to her friends and family for advices, she had to make her own decision on what exactly is the right thing for her. And as she stumbles through a relationship, a break-up, work conflicts, she continues to have blinders on when readers are shouting from the very first chapter who Mr Right is. It was really quite a frustrating read but…

“…As we get older and have more experiences, we learn which label to use for which experience, even though the physical response is the same. But humans aren’t always great at distinguishing between feelings.”

I can totally relate to this last bit. Romy was slow but she got there, ladies & gentlemen. Overall, Love, In Theory was a very relaxing read even if it nearly crossed the line of my pet peeve (love triangle). Luckily, it didn’t quite get there so I managed to finish without too much angst. The algorithm theory went way over my head but that doesn’t really worry me because you & I know, love doesn’t work that way anyway ;p

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

The Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin -a review

the girl remainsThe Girl Remains by Katherine Firkin

A chilling police thriller set in a small coastal town on the Mornington Peninsula, where the discovery of human bones on an isolated beach has reawakened a twenty-year-old cold case…

‘Australian crime fiction has just found an exciting new voice.’ Marie Claire

On the evening of September 22, 1998, three teenage girls venture out for a night of mischief in the coastal town of Blairgowrie. But only two return . . .

For over twenty years the disappearance of fifteen-year-old Cecilia May remains a baffling cold case – until human bones are discovered on an isolated beach.

Now it’s up to Detective Emmett Corban and his team to dig up decades of trauma, and find the missing piece of an investigation that’s as complex as it is tragic.

Does the answer lie with the only suspect, a registered sex offender who confessed, then immediately provided a rock-solid alibi? Or with the two teen survivors – neither of whom can keep their story straight?

But the police aren’t the only ones hunting for the truth: someone else has arrived in the seaside town. And she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to find her own version of justice…

Published 4 May 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I wrote in my review of author’s first book, Sticks and Stones, that I hoped it was to be a first book in the series as I was keen to follow up on Detective Emmett Corban’s career so I was very excited to hear about this sequel. Unfortunately, just as I started to read, I hit a massive reading slump and had to set aside the book about 1/3 of the way through. I picked it back up after a few weeks and finished reading it fairly quickly but the damage was already done.

As I said I actually read this quite quickly despite the reading slump in between reading so the story is actually rather gripping and is a page turner. Told from multiple perspectives, Emmett, his wife, his new partner, and a few other persons-of-interest, there was no end to my speculation of what this mystery is. The ending was quite mind boggling and is rather dark, somewhat gothic really; something I didn’t expect.

I enjoyed Emmett’s camaraderie with one of the detectives though I truly wonder at his objections to his new partner. Granted that his new partner is unlike everyone else but that is exactly why I really like this new character and I hope we’ll see a lot more of him (hopefully, there’ll be a third book).

Overall, a very enjoyable thrilling read which I would have loved if I read at better time/mood.

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  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

Review: A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

A Glasshouse of Stars by Shirley Marr

An exquisite, heartbreakingly beautiful gem of a novel for anyone who loved Wonder, Lenny’s Book of EverythingA Monster Calls or When You Reach Me.

‘Heart-twisting and hopeful, bursting with big feelings and gentle magic. This is a special book from a powerful, compassionate new voice in children’s literature, destined to be read and loved for generations and held close in many hearts (including mine).’ – Jessica Townsend, New York Times bestselling author of the Nevermoor series

Meixing Lim and her family have arrived at the New House in the New Land, inherited from First Uncle who died tragically and unexpectedly while picking oranges in the backyard. Everything is vast and unknown to Meixing and not in a good way, including the house she has dubbed Big Scary. She is embarrassed by the second-hand shoes given to her by the kind neighbours, has trouble understanding the language at school, and with fitting in and making new friends. Her solace is a glasshouse in the garden that inexplicably holds the sun and the moon and all the secrets of her memory and imagination.

Her fragile universe is rocked when tragedy strikes and Ma Ma refuses to face the world outside. Meixing finds herself trapped within the shrinking walls of Big Scary. Her parents said this would be a better life for them all, but it feels like the worst and most heart-breaking experience of Meixing’s entire existence. Surviving will take all the resilience and inner belief of this brave girl to turn their world around.

Published 4 May 2021 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I can’t stop staring at that gorgeous cover! Combined with a magical title and a protagonist with a familiar name (a personal reference which I’ll leave just as vague) who had to face a new strange place, I couldn’t wait to dive in.

As an immigrant myself, I sort of knew what the protagonist was feeling as she first arrived in the New Land and yet, there are enough differences in our experiences that my heart broke for this brave girl. I did think that the author was a bit mean when a particular tragedy strike but life happens and despite my tears, I was glad that the tragedy did bring something good too. I loved Meixing and her friends as they each found their way to rise above their own problems.

To start with, it took a while to adjust my headspace to reading this book. Mostly due to the second person POV but also how places are just so very non-specific/neutral (eg. ‘New House’, ‘New Land’, etc). It is just different than the norm, I think, that I really needed to think differently. Other than that, it was done very well and I do feel very much like I’m stepping in Meixing’s shoes.

My boys and I adored Little Jiang which I read aloud as their bed time read and it was just such a fun read! Unfortunately, I was unable to read this aloud to my boys. I tried for a few nights but my youngest has this aversion against the second person POV. He is only 6 years old and this may have been the first time he came across a second person POV as this isn’t one you’d come across that often in books. He just didn’t feel that it’s right and he got so upset, I had to stop and finished reading on my own. I’ll make a note to try this on him again in a few years’ time!

Magic appears to be an indication of feels in this novel. Mostly it is of hope but at times, it also reflects despair. I do love magic in my books but I am sometimes stumped by magical realism which I feel is where this book leans towards. I’m happy to take the magic as is even as I feel that there is something else going on there.

A Glasshouse of Stars is a powerfully moving novel as readers are, perforce, within protagonist’s headspace and looking out through her eyes so we are privileged in knowing all her thoughts and feelings. Readers can expect to feel the wonder of the New House & Glasshouse, the fear of the unknown, the hope for the future, oh there were just so much! Do read this with your children and persist through the difference in narrative because it’s such a wonderful novel.

My thanks to Shirley Marr for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Shirley Marr is a first-generation Chinese-Australian living in Perth and an author of young adult and children’s fiction, including YA novels Fury and Preloved, and children’s novels Little Jiang and A Glasshouse of Stars. She describes herself as having a Western mind and an Eastern heart. She likes to write in the space in the middle where they both collide, basing her stories on her own personal experiences of migration and growing up in Australia, along with the folk and fairy tales from her mother. Arriving in mainland Australia from Christmas Island as a seven-year-old in the 1980s and experiencing the good, the bad and the wonder that comes with culture shock, Shirley has been in love with reading and writing from that early age. Shirley is a universe full of stars and stories and hopes to share the many other novels that she has inside her.

Find Shirley on:  

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Review: The Chase by Candice Fox

The Chase by Candice Fox

The new novel by New York Times #1 bestselling author Candice Fox is an electrifying cat-and-mouse thriller set in the Nevada desert.

Candice Fox has been described by the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘one of Australia’s finest new gen crime writers’ and her latest novel is another thrilling ride, as a mass prison breakout lets loose 650 of the country’s most dangerous prisoners.

‘Are you listening, Warden?’

‘What do you want?’

‘I want you to let them out.’

‘Which inmates are we talking about?’

‘All of them.

When more than 600 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins.

But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, five years after the murder of his wife and child.

He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing down the escapees.

Death row supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading . . .

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I’m going to be upfront and state that this is so totally going to be a very bias review. I have read all of Candice Fox’s books and loved every one of them. I especially love the quirky Aussie flavour her books are steeped in. And yet, even as this one is far away from our shore (Nevada desert) and did not include any Aussie characters ):): it did not detract from my enjoyment of this novel. 

The book description described of a prison break (not one, not two, but ALL of the inmates) and the subsequent hunts to put them all where they belong. It is such intriguing & thrilling concept (even if a little bit outlandish) and the story did not disappoint. The Chase was a compelling read with a well-sustained suspense to pull the reader to continue reading right through to the end.

There is a large number of casts in this novel and while at first I struggled with the names and remembering who they are, a couple of the characters are very memorable and after a few chapters, I found that the flow of switches between characters to be quite smooth and easily followed. Add to this, there were twists and turns peppered throughout each chapter that keep readers flipping pages.

I do believe that Fox specialised in crushed down but loveable and strong female characters but in this particular novel I also feel that she’s got the creepy psycho vibes down pat. It’s hair raising stuff! I guess visiting serial killer on death row paid out! I was amazed by how many baddies in this story and each with his own brand of monstrosity; they are all so brilliantly crafted. 

The Chase is a fast-paced, high-octane thriller that you can’t help but want for more. I’d highly recommend that you have set aside hours to read this because it’s not one you’d want to stop even for a minute.

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

About the author

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. Her subsequent novels – FallCrimson LakeRedemption Point and Gone by Midnight – were all shortlisted for the Ned Kelly Award.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number one on the New York Times bestseller list in the US, and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Their later novels – Fifty FiftyLiar LiarHush Hush and The Inn – have all been massive bestsellers across the world.

Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

Find Candice on:  

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Review: You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

YA author Jenna Guillaume is back with a fun and modern feminist twist on the 1985 pop cult film Weird Science.

Sixteen-year-old Katie Camilleri can’t believe she’s accidentally created a teenage boy. A boy six-feet tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day. A boy whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime. A boy completely devoted to Katie. But silly musings and kitchen antics with her best friend, Libby, have definitely taken a whimsical twist into something bigger than Katie could have ever daydreamed. Turns out the consequences of fumbling a human being into existence are rather complicated. More importantly, does Guy, the golden Adonis Katie’s created, like her because he wants to, or because he has to? And will he be Katie’s very first kiss?

From the author of What I Like About Me comes a hilarious feminist twist on a classic narrative, loaded with laughs, mishaps, and plenty of 80s and 90s pop-culture callbacks. Jenna Guillaume’s entertaining romantic comedy novel features a humorous and relatable voice and will appeal to fans of Jenny Han.

Published (ed) 1 April 2021|  Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

Being Australian, I have been aware of this author for a few years and of this book, sometime in 2020 (noting Australian publishing date was August 2020). For some reason, however, I never thought to add this to my TBR as it just didn’t seem to be my kind of read. I do love this cover though and as it popped up as a ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley, I just had to click that button, don’t I…

I have to admit that I jumped into the novel not knowing exactly what I’m in for. At the start, this novel was quite fascinating where two teenage girls ‘made’ a perfect boy out of clay to meet the dreams of the main protagonist. The story is easy to read and I do love the growth of characters but the structure of the telling bothered me so I didn’t particularly enjoy the read.

We have Katie Camilleri, the protagonist, who is writing this story down while her best friend, Libby, is standing over her shoulder, reading & interrupting with certain inputs of when to fast forward the story and what’s to include in the story. At first, I really liked Libby’s comments (snarkiness between BFFs are to be appreciated) but about halfway, I just found it disruptive and annoying. So, I guess, this structure didn’t quite work for me.

Thank you Peachtree Publishing Company via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.

Lori Smyth-Owen isn’t your average teenager – as you’d expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother’s food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$14.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Joy Dettman is a well-known Aussie author but I’ve yet to read any of her books until this one. A few are on my TBR but I guess they’re not my particular comfort reads so they keep getting pushed back. As this was a review copy courtesy of the publisher, I pushed myself a little to reading this. I must admit that I wasn’t particularly keen on cover nor description but once I started, it was pretty easy to keep going. Noting my reading mood this year, the fact I managed to finish the book speaks well of its readability.

The Hope Flower is told from the perspective of a 15 year old girl, Lori Smyth-Owen. The only girl of 12 children and currently, she rules the roost. The house is a busy one (even as their mother does nothing all day) but routine is well regimented and chores shared all around. This time, Eddy came up with another scheme to get their mother to shape up. When she did shape up, however, the only to benefit was herself but she did go out in style.

While the story is actually quite sad and heartbreaking (how can your heart not hurt for these neglected children?!), I didn’t find the read depressing. Lori is one feisty character; full of gumption and yet, beneath all that hard rock is a soft spot where seedling of hope is still being kept alive. All these children are such amazing characters; resilient and resourceful! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any adult characters here.

I just found that The Hope Flower is not the first book by this author to feature Lori but I don’t think I can go back to read the other one, Henry’s Daughter. I can’t tell you if you’d miss anything if you read this without reading the earlier one because this truly reads like a stand-alone for me. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed reading The Hope Flower as it has definitely exceeded any expectations I had for it.

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

About the author

Joy Dettman sees herself as a wife, mother and grandmother, who steals time from her family to satisfy her obsessive need to write.

Joy was not always a wife, mother and grandmother. She can recall her early obsession with newspaper cartoons. They were her picture books. A newspaper shoutline allowed her to break the code of reading prior to entering a school room, thus addicting her for life to the printed word.

Joy’s early draft of Woody Creek, single spaced, margin to margin, messy, was typed on the family room table, where in 1986-7, she wrote Mallawindy. Her number one fan, her little sister, read it, and for the next ten years, publication became their joint obsession.

In 1997, she received a phone call from Pan Macmillan. Mallawindy was accepted for publication and by ’98 Joy and her number one fan held that book in their hands.