Category Archives: Australian Author

Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie -a review

unforgivenUnforgiven by Sarah Barrie

Once a victim, she’s now a vigilante. An addictive and suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late …

Published 1 December 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I feel that I should have enjoyed this book a lot more than I actually did. I just feel that this past couple of months, I just wasn’t loving anything I read so it could be a mini slump or just a terrible mood. From my reading of Unforgiven, I would normally have loved it and could barely put it down but I was just reading a slow chapter by chapter. I loved this idea of 2 protagonists from what seems to be opposite sides of life yet their past connected them deeply and their lives are once more to collide. I couldn’t wait to get to that part of the story where the 2 separate threads start to cross each other.

All characters were easily likeable and I especially loved Lexi’s enterprising neighbour! I did find the crime itself a little hard to read but I appreciate the twist upon twist of who the real villain is at the end. There is one flyaway thread though so I am wondering if there’s supposed to be a sequel. I can’t handle a flyaway thread so here’s hoping for a closure!

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

About the author

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A Little Bird by Wendy James -a review

a little birdA Little Bird by Wendy James

A homecoming snares a young woman in a dangerous tangle of lies, secrets, and bad blood in this gripping novel by the bestselling author of An Accusation.

Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.

Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.

Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth.

Published 30 November 2021|  Publisher: Lake Union Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$24.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

This is the first time I have read this author even as her name sounds vaguely familiar, I just haven’t read any of her previous books. A Little Bird is a story set in a small Australian community where, on the surface, nothing terrible ever happened. Yet, as we follow our journalist protagonist, Jo Sharpe, as she returned to her hometown and searched for reasons her mother left town when she was a little girl.

I found A Little Bird to be very easy and riveting read; easily likeable protagonist, engaging mystery (with tidbits from the past too), and interesting setting. I did guess correctly the identity of the villain though I didn’t quite get the reason BUT the little twist at the end was brilliant.

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  websitefacebook

The Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh -a review

the spys wifeThe Spy’s Wife by Fiona McIntosh

The highly anticipated new historical adventure from the bestselling author of The Champagne War.

Evie, a widow and stationmaster’s daughter, can’t help but look out for the weekly visit of the handsome man she and her sister call the Southerner on their train platform in the wilds of northern England. When polite salutations shift to friendly conversations, they become captivated by each other. After so much sorrow, the childless Evie can’t believe love and the chance for her own family have come into her life again.

With rumours coming out of Germany that Hitler may be stirring up war, local English authorities have warned against spies. Even Evie becomes suspicious of her new suitor, Roger. But all is not what it seems.

When Roger is arrested, Evie comes up with an audacious plan to prove his innocence that means moving to Germany and working as a British counter-spy. Wearing the disguise of dutiful, naïve wife, Evie must charm the Nazi Party’s dangerous officials to bring home hard evidence of war mongering on the Führer’s part.

But in this game of cat and mouse, it seems everyone has an ulterior motive, and Evie finds it impossible to know who to trust. With lives on the line, ultimate sacrifices will be made as she wrestles between her patriotism and saving the man she loves.

From the windswept moors of the Yorkshire dales to the noisy beer halls of Munich and grand country estates in the picture-book Bavarian mountains, this is a lively and high-stakes thriller that will keep you second-guessing until the very end.

Published 2November 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I adore these war novels featuring strong female protagonists. And that gorgeous cover!! I have enjoyed a number of books by this author too so I wasn’t going to miss out of reading this new release. The Spy’s Wife is a love story that sweeps you off your feet and carries you through the gorgeous European backdrop with a glamorous tease of the 1930s.

Evie was an absolute joy to get to know. She was easy to like, from the very beginning, and then when she showed her claws (pretty early on), I was completely wow-ed. She’s got guts! From her generous open heart to her strength to power on despite heartbreak, she’s a heroine through and through.

While I found myself completely immersed in the story and loving it, as I stepped back I can’t help but let out a bit of a cynical laughter because this is basically a love at first sight and all the rest that happened to Evie was a little unbelievable. But then again, the atrocities committed during Holocaust were beyond believe too. So I choose to believe in a beautiful love story that was the highlight of my week.

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 Way It Is Now by Garry Disher -a review

the way it is nowThe Way It Is Now by Garry Disher

Twenty years ago Charlie Deravin’s mother went missing near the family beach shack—believed murdered; body never found. His father has lived under a cloud of suspicion ever since.

Now Charlie’s back living in the shack in Menlo Beach, on disciplinary leave from his job with the police sex-crimes unit, and permanent leave from his marriage. After two decades worrying away at the mystery of his mother’s disappearance, he’s run out of leads.

Then the skeletal remains of two people are found in the excavation of a new building site—and the past comes crashing in on Charlie.

The Way It Is Now is the enthralling new novel from Garry Disher, one of Australia’s most loved and celebrated crime writers.

Published 2 November 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

Truthfully, I’m drawing a blank. I’ve finished reading this days ago and have been scratching my head on what I really think about the novel. While I found the book to be a fairly easy read, I didn’t find this cold ‘personal’ case to be that compelling and I am kind of offended at the abrupt ending. Don’t laugh! I am absolutely stumped at where it was ended. I like my t’s crossed and my i’s dotted so this was really upsetting. So yeah, it’s personal.

I’ve read 2 other books by this author and I really only liked one of them so I guess it was 50:50 chance whether I’d like this book or not. I do truly love the Australian beach setting and I liked the main character too; he’s having issues but he’s not completely broken and in fact, he’s working to be better. However, he’s still haunted by the past and this story digs it all up for him with a definite resolution. I still want a proper ending! [sorry, I’m just going to leave it at that]

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

About the author

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The Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper -a review

the fossil hunterThe Fossil Hunter by Tea Cooper

A fossil discovered at London’s Natural History Museum leads one woman back in time to nineteenth century Australia and a world of scientific discovery and dark secrets in this compelling historical mystery.

The Hunter Valley 1847

The last thing Mellie Vale remembers before the fever takes her is running through the bush as a monster chases her – but no one believes her story. In a bid to curb Mellie’s overactive imagination, her benefactors send her to visit a family friend, Anthea Winstanley. Anthea is an amateur palaeontologist with a dream. She is convinced she will one day find proof the great sea dragons – the ichthyosaur and the plesiosaur – swam in the vast inland sea that millions of years ago covered her property at Bow Wow Gorge. Soon, Mellie shares that dream for she loves fossil hunting too…

1919
When Penelope Jane Martindale arrives home from the battlefields of World War I with the intention of making her peace with her father and commemorating the death of her two younger brothers in the trenches, her reception is not as she had hoped. Looking for distraction, she finds a connection between a fossil at London’s Natural History museum and her brothers which leads her to Bow Wow Gorge. But the gorge has a sinister reputation – 70 years ago people disappeared. So when PJ uncovers some unexpected remains, it seems as if the past is reaching into the present and she becomes determined to discover what really happened all that time ago…

Published 27 October 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

The Fossil Hunter is November’s BOTM from The Book Stack. I have been meaning to read this author’s works for some time now as I’ve really enjoyed the one short historical romance she wrote. Yet, I haven’t until now! The premise of alternate periods imbued with mystery and set in a familiar regional Australian setting were very interesting to me.

There are 2 main characters, one per time setting, and each are facing their own challenges. Yet, in the end, as past and present collided, they found in each other a kindred spirit. I have found this book to be a very easy read and definitely have enjoyed this spin of fossil hunting. However, I’m left slightly unsatisfied as I found I have questions which weren’t quite answered in the book.

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

About the author

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Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer -a review

birds of a featherBirds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer

When three women are thrown together by unusual circumstances, ruffled feelings are just the beginning. A wise, sharply observed celebration of the life-changing power of female friendships.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell – but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable – old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia’s desire for Eve’s attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives … and each other?

Published 29 September 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Birds of a Feather is October’s BOTM from The Book Stack. I’m not sure if I would have pick this one up at all if left to my own devices and as it is, I read this in beginning of November! October was one crazy month for me. While cover & description weren’t particularly intriguing to me, I do like the symmetry & colours of the cover and I have previously read a romance book by this author so I jumped in with a certain expectation. There isn’t much romance in this book but what there is, is certainly rather sweet. However, as I step back and mused on the 3 generation of women who aren’t related by blood coming together and being supportive towards each other, I just really love this idea.

Eve, the eldest of the three, is an independent woman and depending on others to help (despite having hurt herself quite badly) is not something that she can accept easily. Add to this is her nemesis who had spread a lie and turned her beloved community against her. She just feels tired. Her help comes in the form of Lucy, a nurse, mother of two, and youngest of the three women. She appears to be very good at her job in caring for Eve and yet, so uptight when it comes to her family and children. In blew, Julia, Eve’s goddaughter, who is in a rather uncertain circumstance and isn’t sure where to turn. As their lives collided, they also colluded and held each other up.

I avoid domestic thriller but I do read a lot of crime novels. This book is neither and yet, I kept expecting something truly terribly crime-y when these women opened up on secrets and hurts they’ve experienced. Even as their hurt is not on the scale of a crime novel, their pains were real and their courage and resilience admirable. Birds of a Feather is an inspiring novel of womanhood, motherhood, sisterhood, and family.

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

About the author

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Outback Secrets (Bunyip Bay #5) by Rachael Johns -a review

outback secretsOutback Secrets (Bunyip Bay #5) by Rachael Johns

Keeping secrets comes naturally to him … but will it ruin his chance at love?

Liam Castle knows the secrets of everyone in Bunyip Bay. As the owner of the pub, he’s heard it all – from marriage proposals and farming disasters to family rifts and everything in between. The locals love to confide in him, but no one knows he’s hiding a tragic past.

And he wants to keep it that way.

Agricultural pilot Henrietta Forward lives for her job, choosing work over romance. But when an incident in the air brings Henri home to Bunyip Bay earlier than planned, she finds herself questioning everything she believes about herself.

But Henri’s secret isn’t her only problem.

Her mother will stop at nothing to have her settled down back in the Bay, and while Henri had always known domesticity wasn’t the life for her, now she wonders what her future holds. So when Liam – always the first to lend a hand to those in need – agrees to play along with Henri’s scheme to ward off her mother, she has mixed feelings. What happens when a pretend romance starts to feel like the real thing?

Will Henri’s demons and Liam’s traumatic past prove too great a barrier to love?

Published 27 October 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

While I don’t read many rural romances, I do have a penchant for them. Outback Ghost (book 3 of Bunyip Bay) was my one of my first reads of this genre and I enjoyed it very much that I bought Outback Dreams (book 1). This is one of the rare times that I have read out of order but you know, I didn’t know any better back then. The only one in the series I skipped is book 4 because it’s a trope I absolutely cannot stand but I can’t help myself with this most recent instalment; I had to get back to Bunyip Bay.

Fans of the series will be familiar with Liam Castle, the enigmatic pub owner, and his story has been a long time coming! Of course, earlier on, I’d have put him with another Bunyip Bay character but it’s not to be and while I’m a little bit put out, Henrietta Forward easily becomes a new favourite character.

A lot of the times, I nit-picked certain details that aren’t quite pertinent to the story but it frustrates me a lot of the time that author mentioned it in passing but didn’t follow through. In Outback Secrets though, as soon as I thought of the question, it was resolved. My OCD-self appreciates this so very very much.

My favourite romance trope is BFF to lover but fake-dating is my second and I just love how Rachael Johns weaved that through Outback Secrets; and pssst, that’s not the only secret in town! Oh, it is also set around Christmas time so if you’re after a Christmas feel good read, pick this one!

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  websitefacebook  |  instagram  |  twitter

The One Impossible Labyrinth by Matthew Reilly -a review

the one impossible labyrinthThe One Impossible Labyrinth (Jack West Jr #7) by Matthew Reilly

THE END IS HERE

Jack West Jr has made it to the Supreme Labyrinth.

Now he faces one last race – against multiple rivals, against time, against the collapse of the universe itself – a headlong race that will end at a throne inside the fabled labyrinth.

AN IMPOSSIBLE MAZE

But the road will be hard.

For this is a maze like no other: a maze of mazes. Uncompromising and complex. Demanding and deadly.

A CATACLYSMIC CONCLUSION

It all comes down to this.

For it ends here – now – in the most lethal and dangerous place Jack has encountered in all of his many adventures. And in the face of this indescribable peril, with everything on the line, there is only one thing he can do.

Attempt the impossible.

Published 12 October 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$39.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

It’s finally here!! The finale! Jack West Jr. is finally going to tackle the final challenge and of course, be the ultimate victor in this race. No spoilers but I think we all know who’s going to win in this novel, right? The good guy! Yep, this one is completely a roller coaster feel good sort of read. And coming right at the end of Sydney lockdown, #winning !!

As followers of series would expect, this last book in the series is chock-a-block full of action. If things aren’t exploding, it’s raining bullets. If you’re not being shot at, you’re running through a maze full of life threatening traps. I seriously feel like I couldn’t read fast enough; my eyes couldn’t keep up with how fast the action is taking place in my brain. The team is split into several groups and while, Jack’s team is the primary focus, there were switches in views. I do feel like it’s an action blockbuster movie that I’m “seeing” only in my head.

While I loved following their adventures; the twists on mythologies and each book always action-packed, I also find it to be a bit predictable in one particular way. That is, never believe that someone died unless their corpses are actually presented to you on the page lol. And in this way, I didn’t waste a tear at all.

All my life I’ve watched you and wondered what it is that makes you a hero. And I figured it out: it’s trying when nobody else thinks it’s even worth trying, when the odds really are stacked against you or when your friends and family are taken away from you.

That is why fans love Jack West Jr. and always, without fail, cheer for him and his team. And in centre of things, he fought for humanity so in the end, we all win. The One Impossible Labyrinth is an unmissable finale. Read It!

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 Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans -a review

the unusual abduction of avery coniferThe Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans

Two women abduct and hide out with their four-year-old granddaughter Avery, who they suspect is being harmed. They both love Avery … shame they can’t stand each other. A wise and witty novel for readers of Sophie Green and Brooke Davis.

What would you do to protect a child?

Beth’s daughter Cleo and Shirley’s son Daniel used to be married. Now Cleo is in gaol for supposedly contravening a family violence order, and Daniel has full-time care of their four-year-old daughter, Avery.

When Shirley suspects that Daniel is harming Avery, she enlists Beth to abduct their own granddaughter, even though the two women can’t stand each other. They are joined on the run across country Victoria by Winnie, Shirley’s own 89-year-old tech-savvy mother, and Harthacnut, Beth’s miniature schnauzer.

The abduction gives rise to crises both personal and social, as Shirley’s large and interfering family – including her toxic son – struggle to come to terms with her actions, amid a whirl of police investigation and media excitement. This heartfelt, wise, witty and wholly original novel explores the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life.

Published 1 September 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

I just love this title, The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer; it’s a bit of a mouthful but it does give a little of a comic air so you would expect it to be a humourous tale. The premise itself sounds rather unusually funny and yet, there is some serious themes explored in this light-hearted-sounding novel. You just have to dig deep.

This book is told by a myriad of perspectives. The main 3 being by the 3 instigators of this kidnapping of Avery but then there were perspectives of those sitting around the outside of this centre figures. The detectives, TV presenters, and some people that just happened to somewhat touch this ‘case’ who can provide a ‘clue’ or just a perspective from a different angle. I must admit that at times this gets absolutely confusing with all the names bandied about but I do appreciate this wide overlook into the problem.

I think that there was enough family drama as I was growing up which made me reluctant reading novels involving family dramas/conflicts so this started out as a rather uncomfortable read. However, author’s handling of these characters and conflicts present such a riveting look into motherhood that I cannot stop reading. And these ladies are just such characters, I can’t help but cheer for them throughout so in the end, I rather enjoyed this read.

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  |  website  |  facebook  |  instagram  |  twitter

South of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century -a review

South of the SunSouth of the Sun: Australian Fairy Tales for the 21st Century

This is an enchanting illustrated book of fairy tales – but not the kind you read to children at bedtime.

They are strictly for the grown-ups. Often dark, the stories visit places where things don’t end happily ever after, where a single decision can haunt you forever.

But there are also tales to make you laugh out loud, stories of sweet revenge and scenes of sheer delight in the world of magic and the fey.

All the stories, lyrics and poems have something in common, a contemporary edge. Even those set in earlier times have a modern sensibility that reflects the 21st century and celebrates Australian landscapes, characters and voices.

Discover stories from emerging talent and leading award-winning Australian writers including Carmel Bird, Sophie Masson, Cate Kennedy and Eugen Bacon, along with artwork by foremost illustrators such as Lorena Carrington and Kathleen Jennings.

So if you’re ready – once upon a time …

Published April 2021|  Publisher: Australian Fairy Tale Society |  RRP: AUD$35.00

Buy it at: Serenity Press 

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

I was absolutely curious of just what “Australian Fairy Tales” could be. These would not be Dreaming Time as that is sacred to our First Nations but then what could it be?! The answer was a makeover of familiar tales; freshly dressed in Aussie fashion.

the cultural art of apparently mocking someone while still being warm and friendly. -The Lonely Mosque by Yvette Ladzinski

I loved how these tales were retold in such familiar and beloved setting with mentions of wattles, gum trees, red soil, etc and some with very exaggerated Aussie way of speaking. I especially adore the multicultural references included in these stories whether it be selkies of Irish descent or Vietnamese Pork Roll.

Some of the stories are as traditional as they get as cautionary tales. There was one story about a young girl walking on her own in a quiet ‘blackout’ zone and sending GPS (Grandmother Please Save) signal. But, there are also stories which were just flipped inside out where heroines are strong and aren’t afraid to flex their right to act and save themselves. I love these best!

Being the hero doesn’t make you brave. – The Last Bastion by Marianna Shek

There were just so many stories cleverly twisted to fit into our current world with its own social commentaries. There was a Pied Piper who was engaged to clear out certain creepy crawlies from Melbourne and my favourite of all of this whole book, Jack & the Beanstalk “because the NBN is rubbish”.

The giant didn’t stand a chance. The bureaucrats wrapped him up in red tape in no time at all. – Jack, The Beanstalk and the NBN by Lindy Mitchell-Nilsson

I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy this book so much! The beautiful setting, strong heroines, and “new” but old stories. They made me cheer for their courage, frown at how dark parts of our world is, but best of all, they made me laugh out loud for sheer cheekiness. I’d highly recommend this collection of stories to all!

My thanks to publisher for ecopy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts