Category Archives: Australian Author

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

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

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

Echoes of War by Tania Blanchard -a review

echoes of warEchoes of War by Tania Blanchard

Set in Mussolini’s Italy amid great upheaval, this is the story of one woman’s determination to find her place in a world that men are threatening to tear apart. Another heart-rending novel inspired by a true story from Australia’s bestselling author of The Girl from Munich.

Calabria, Italy, 1936

In a remote farming village nestled in the mountains that descend into the sparkling Ionian Sea, young and spirited Giulia Tallariti longs for something more. While she loves her home and her lively family, she would much rather follow in her nonna’s footsteps and pursue her dream of becoming a healer.

But as Mussolini’s focus shifts to the war in Europe, civil unrest looms. Whispers of war are at every corner and her beloved village, once safe from the fascist agenda of the North, is now in very real danger.

Caught between her desire to forge her own path and her duty to her family, Giulia must draw on the passion in her heart and the strength of her conviction.

Can she find a way to fulfill her dreams or will the echoes of war drown out her voice?

Published 29 September 2021|  Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I am partial to war stories but this novel, Echoes of War, isn’t really a war story but a story of womanhood but set within a time of war. This is not to say that the protagonist wasn’t affected by war but just that she was not directly involved in it. All in all, it did not detract from the story of passion, resilience, and strength of this girl’s journey into womanhood.

Giulia Tallariti, our protagonist, is a passionate young woman who has a very clear vision of her future. A vision which was not shared by her father who has his own preconception and therefore resulted in a number of clashes between daughter and father. While fighting for her future, the country itself is turmoil. From wars, natural disasters, and poverty, Giulia and her family stuck together through thick & thin as she sought and found her place in her family & society.

I’m not afraid to confess that I cried a number of times; as you’d expect from such stories. Echoes of War is a novel full of anxiety, heartbreaks, family, sisterhood, and love. What fascinated me most was author’s notes as she described her own family history and how it influenced her writing especially with some of her own family stories woven into this telling; utterly captivating.

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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The Wattle Island Book Club by Sandie Docker -a review

the wattle island book clubThe Wattle Island Book Club by Sandie Docker

Is it ever too late to rewrite your own story?

COURAGE

In 1950, teenager Anne flees Wattle Island for the big city, where she learns that establishing the life she’s always dreamed of isn’t as easy as she thought. When a secret she’s been keeping is discovered, she has no choice but to retreat home and live a quiet life. But when tragedy strikes, establishing the Wattle Island book club is the only thing that offers her solace.

PASSION

In 2018, spirited librarian Grace has been writing bucket lists since she was a child, and is ticking off as many challenges as she can now that life has handed her a hefty dose of perspective. Heading to Wattle Island on one of her adventures, she is determined to uncover a long-held mystery surrounding the town’s historic book club, unlocking a buried truth that has been trapped between the dusty pages of secrecy for years.

HOPE

All too aware of how fragile life is, Anne and Grace must come together to help the residents of Wattle Island find the bravery to move beyond the trauma that tore the book club apart. Budding relationships offer new hope, along with a library project for the town’s future – but it will take more than a few lively literary debates to break the silence and heal the past.

Welcome to the Wattle Island Book Club, where some chapters may end, but others are just beginning…

Published 31 August 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

Within the first few chapters, I had to message my friends to tell them that there were mentions of Anne Shirley and Bridget Jones in this book which surely made this a winner. My friends and I loved these 2 characters deeply and have had themed events based on them. Hence I found myself immediately liking our protagonists.

that was the magic of books. They turned strangers into friends and when that happened, there was no limit to the possibilities.

There are 2 perspectives in this novel, Anne & Grace, who began by being in their own separate spheres but soon enough, Grace was drawn into Anne’s and found herself to be Anne’s hope to bring light and hope to her currently cloudy island existence. With Anne’s perspective and memories, we became witness of a section of life in Australia post WWII and it was not a pretty one. Her memories make up her character and provide a background to her current situation and predicament.

Grace, on the other hand, is young and knows life to be utterly precious. She has been making bucket lists since she was a child and revising and ticking them off as she goes. Some of them are your usual ones like bungee jumping or learning another language  but some of them are really cute ones like having tried 100 flavours of ice cream!! I can so totally get on board with this item. One of her items was to investigate a mystery like Nancy Drew and that was one of the reason she was drawn to Wattle Island. I must say that despite loving mysteries, I found this particular trait of her to discover this secret of Wattle Island annoying. A little bit hypocritical of me but she made up later on when she saw just how much pain she was bringing up with her ‘snooping’. And finally, her own secret must also be exposed to the light.

‘Take happiness when and where and how it comes.’

‘But what if it comes with pain?’

‘It always does.’ Linh never sugar-coated things. ‘But that’s why you have to embrace it tightly, unapologetically, when you can.’

I didn’t really want to read the last few chapters because I was really enjoying this heartwarming novel and I knew that the ending was going to hurt. In a good way. Last night, I thought that I could probably draw a comparison of this novel to K-drama. And yes, that did mean that I sobbed my heart out and that is also one of the reasons that I loved this novel. The Wattle Island Book Club is a beautifully uplifting life-giving story of love in the face of tragedy and the magical powers of books.

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  |  facebook  |  instagram

Cutters End by Margaret Hickey -a review

cutters endCutters End by Margaret Hickey

A scintillating crime thriller, set in the South Australian outback town of Cutters End. A mysterious death on New Year’s Eve 1989 leads to a shocking murder investigation 32 years later…

A desert highway. A remote town. A murder that won’t stay hidden.

New Year’s Eve, 1989. Eighteen-year-old Ingrid Mathers is hitchhiking her way to Alice Springs. Bored, hungover and separated from her friend Joanne, she accepts a lift to the remote town of Cutters End.

July 2021. Detective Sergeant Mark Ariti is seconded to a recently reopened case, one in which he has a personal connection. Three decades ago, a burnt and broken body was discovered in scrub off the Stuart Highway, 300km south of Cutters End. Though ultimately ruled an accidental death, many people – including a high-profile celebrity – are convinced it was murder.

When Mark’s interviews with the witnesses in the old case files go nowhere, he has no choice but to make the long journey up the highway to Cutters End.

And with the help of local Senior Constable Jagdeep Kaur, he soon learns that this death isn’t the only unsolved case that hangs over the town…

Published 17 August 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Two nights ago, while I (in Sydney) was reading this book, I felt like some orange juice. So, I got myself a glass of orange juice with some ice. Just as finished my glass, the line I read was a thought by a South Australian protagonist;

Orange juice clinking with ice! he thought. Is it a Sydney thing?

A bit of a funny coincidence but one I can’t really answer that question because to me, it was a habit I picked up from hubby as he has ice with whatever drink he’s having. But I just made it seems like the answer is yes though, didn’t I?! Do you have ice with your orange juice? Are you a Sydneysider?

As I drafted this review, I noticed that the description (which I copied from publisher’s website) read, July 2021, but in the book (chapter 2), it is actually October 2021. There was a reference in the book about it being post-covid where our protagonist can travel freely. And here I am, mid August 2021, in 8th week of Sydney’s lockdown and cannot foresee being able to travel anywhere by October either. Such a difficult period in writing & publishing, surely, when you can’t really pretend covid didn’t happen and yet, when do you set the period of your story?! Reckon they should have just set in October 2019 before the world went completely mad.

Our protagonist, Mark Ariti, is a detective with the South Australian police but he is in the middle of his long service leave when he was requested to take on a secondment due to a connection he had with a witness. This assignment took him on a lonely trip along Sturt Highway to interview witnesses and review old case files. Even as he slowly discovered the truth of this mysterious death, the question is what is justice?

While I appreciate Mark as a character as he contemplates aging, purpose in work, and just general philosophising of human nature as he investigates, I find that I’m rather sick of detective protagonists with marriage problems. The author did highlight this issue in the police force so while this is realism, I’m just over it.

Cutters End is a striking outback noir debut as it explores human nature; of secrecy, violence, and justice. It is easily a page turner even as I thought I knew the bad guy, I was completely off-based! So there is that twist on twist to look forward to. And to end with, a question you’d perpetually be asking yourself… what is justice? what would you do in his or her shoes?

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

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan -a review

she who became the sunShe Who Became the Sun (The Radiant Emperor #1) by Shelley Parker-Chan

She Who Became the Sun reimagines the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor.

In a famine-stricken village on a dusty plain, a seer shows two children their fates. For a family’s eighth-born son, there’s greatness. For the second daughter, nothing.

In 1345, China lies restless under harsh Mongol rule. And when a bandit raid wipes out their home, the two children must somehow survive. Zhu Chongba despairs and gives in. But the girl resolves to overcome her destiny. So she takes her dead brother’s identity and begins her journey. Can Zhu escape what’s written in the stars, as rebellion sweeps the land? Or can she claim her brother’s greatness – and rise as high as she can dream?

This is a glorious tale of love, loss, betrayal and triumph by a powerful new voice.

Published 27 July 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

The first time I heard of it was through a recommendation by Aussie author, Sam Hawke, but truthfully, the only reason I was really interested in this book is the girl-as-boy trope because it’s my absolute favourite. Set in China and somewhat structured to author’s love of East Asian historical dramas were added bonus because well, I had my own addiction of those dramas way back when. So I had an absolute blast imagining this book in my mind as if they are on screen; I hope that one day it will be adapted to screen!

…most strong-willed people never understand that will alone isn’t enough to guarantee their survival. They don’t realise that even more so than will, survival depends upon an understanding of people and power.

The novel opens with a young peasant girl who despite famine, poverty, and her parents’ expectation, was still living and surviving. She might be desperately hungry but so were everyone in the village. And then, one day, she was left on her own. She had no future to look forward to but she had a very strong desire to live and so, she assumed her brother’s identity, Zhu Chong Ba. In doing so, she believed she also subsumed his destiny, greatness. While those around her sees only what they want to see, is Heaven also fooled? To what extent would she go to to achieve this greatness?

What someone is means nothing about what kind of person they are. Truth is in actions.

There is a second perspective in this epic novel which is told from the opposite camp, the Yuans (Mongols). He was not a Mongol. He had no family left. He had been mutilated so that even as he held the highest & most trusted position in his warlord’s army, he was looked at as an aberration. He lived for one purpose only; his duty. But to what end?

Learn to want something for yourself. Not what someone says you should want. Not what you think you should want. Don’t go through life thinking only of duty. When all we have are these brief spans between our nonexistences, why not make the most of the life you’re living now? The price is worth it.

As these two characters pulled towards each other and pushed towards their own destinies, I was amazed at the parallels and contrast these two very different yet very alike characters. The author cleverly wove their stories seamlessly and with this second perspective, added extra dimensions to the story we otherwise would not have. It is also very savvy of the author to take on a reimagining of a founder of the Ming dynasty where the overall (major) arc is as per history but being able to twist it with a potentially true gender bender. I won’t say much more but just read it then do some research 😉

She Who Became the Sun is an epic historical fantasy reminiscent of East Asian historical TV dramas; just as author’s vision. The setting and sense of place feel authentic with ancestor worship and Heaven’s Mandate having critical places in these characters’ lives, the suffering of common people, the stress placed on duties and loyalties. Yet, it is a novel based on vengeance with twists of betrayals and sacrifices abound throughout the telling. It is also a novel of brotherhood and love. It is a complex novel that pulls readers in all directions as tensions, both on and off battlefields, wax and wane, we are irrevocably drawn to these characters to see them reach their destinies. 

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

The Long Game by Simon Rowell -a review

the long gameThe Long Game by Simon Rowell

A summer of relentless heat. A local surfer named Ray Carlson is found dead in a house not far from Portsea back beach. There’s a kitchen knife deep in his chest, and blood everywhere.

Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer is scarcely back from extended leave, and still wrestling with her demons, but she is assigned the case—alongside her new service dog, Harry, whose instincts help her in unexpected ways.

There’s an obvious suspect for the murder, and Zoe makes an arrest. But it’s all too neat, and none of Zoe’s colleagues believes her theory that the whole thing is a stitch-up.

Except now someone is trying to hunt Zoe down.

Superbly plotted, and vividly set in the beachside suburbs and hilly retreats around Melbourne, The Long Game is a mystery about a tough and clever investigator who won’t give up.

Published 3 August 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

The Long Game is a solid police procedural featuring a much likeable detective protagonist and her clever service dog, Harry. On Detective Zoe Mayer’s first day back to work, she caught a homicide case which appear to be an open and shut case but a tip and her instinct led her to believe that there is much more to this case than what’s obvious. This, in turn, made her unpopular with her colleagues and a target.

Many crime novels these days feature protagonists who are broken and most have either broken or in fracturing domestic situations. While Zoe has her own issues to work through, I liked that her own personal life isn’t. It isn’t perfect but then no one’s is. She’s got Harry to assist her in her daily struggles but she appears to be doing all the right things and is recovering well. She’s a terrifically strong character, intelligent and determined, and confident. And lovable Harry – everyone loves him and being a dog lover myself, I loved having him actively participate in this novel.

The mystery behind Zoe’s PTSD was just as intriguing as the murder mystery she was investigating. As Zoe goes investigating the murder, readers also get glimpses of the incident that led to her PTSD. I must say that twists & conclusions to both mysteries are very satisfying.

I am not at all sure whether this is meant to be a stand alone or a series. At the end of the book, I did think this feels like a first book in a series but yet, it’s possible that it’s a stand alone but with author/publisher leaving enough of a vague notion for a possibility for a series, if sales are good. I do hope that there will be more books as I have really enjoyed this time spent in company with Zoe & Harry.

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  twitterfacebook

A Song of Flight by Juliet Marillier -a review

a song of flightA Song of Flight (Warrior Bards #3) by Juliet Marillier

Two warriors. One wields the power of music, one the strength of her sword. Both face a grave threat in this enthralling historical fantasy.

After a violent encounter with masked men and the sinister Crow Folk, Prince Aolu of Dalriada disappears without a trace, and his companion Galen is seriously injured.

Liobhan and the Swan Island warriors seek answers to the prince’s abduction. For Liobhan this mission is personal, as Galen is her beloved brother.

While she and her team investigate, Liobhan’s younger brother Brocc is in serious trouble. Brocc’s secret attempt to communicate with the Crow Folk triggers a shocking incident, and sends him on a path which endangers the one he loves above all else.

What brought the Crow Folk to Erin? And who plots to use them in an unscrupulous bid for power? As Liobhan and Brocc seek the truth, it becomes clear the two missions are connected – and an extraordinary mystery unfolds.

Published 27 July 2021|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I read it too fast that I’m totally having a mind blank trying to write this review. Truly, I could NOT put the book down until I finished and err… it wasn’t 11pm as I felt it should’ve been but 1 AM 😲 I guess this most of all would tell just just how good, how immersive, and just how brilliant A Song of Flight is.

One thing I really loved about this instalment in the series is that all of the family was here. Granted the main protagonists remain Liobhan, Dau, & Brocc with a few secondary POVs but we get to see a little of  Blackthorn & Grim too and I guess if you’re just as in love with this universe, you’d swoon just as I have done. There was also something about Brocc this time around. I never felt drawn to him previously but he’s really shown himself in this book that I think he even outshone Liobhan and that’s not an easy thing to do.

There was still a mystery to be solved by Liobhan and her Swan Island warrior counterparts but finally, the overriding mystery of the Crow Folk (and therefore, Brocc’s story) has reached the pinnacle and it’s make or break time. And at the end, there were no strands left hanging with all questions and futures more or less tidied up. I hope that this is not a goodbye to this universe, though, and that we’ll see a bit more of this family in the future.

I don’t re-read many books even as I pick up a sequel, I don’t usually re-read the previous book but for this trilogy I did. Not because I felt that I have but because I really wanted to dive into this world again and again. And even now as I just finished A Song of Flight mere hours ago, I feel the need to either reread this book again or maybe go right back to the beginning with Dreamer’s Pool. If you haven’t read Marillier before, I strongly recommend you begin immediately!

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

About the author

Juliet is the author of twenty-one historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet’s novels and short stories have won many awards.

Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she tends to her small pack of rescue dogs. She also has four adult children and eight grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook

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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