Category Archives: Contemporary

How to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan -a review

how to love your neighborHow to Love Your Neighbor by Sophie Sullivan

Interior Design School? Check. Cute house to fix up? Check.

Sexy, grumpy neighbor who is going to get in the way of your plans? Check. Unfortunately.

Grace Travis has it all figured out. In between finishing school and working a million odd jobs, she’ll get her degree and her dream job. Most importantly, she’ll have a place to belong, something her harsh mother could never make. When an opportunity to fix up—and live in—a little house on the beach comes along, Grace is all in. Until her biggest roadblock moves in next door.

Noah Jansen knows how to make a deal. As a real estate developer, he knows when he’s found something special. Something he could even call home. Provided he can expand by taking over the house next door–the house with the combative and beautiful woman living in it.

With the rules for being neighborly going out the window, Grace and Noah are in an all-out feud. But sometimes, your nemesis can show you that home is always where the heart is.

Published 18 January 2022|  Publisher: St Martin’s Press  |  RRP: AUD$33.95

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I don’t read straight out romance novels that often and I’m not particularly keen on the enemy-to-lover sort of trope as this one appears to be. However, that cover was just brilliant that I really couldn’t resist. Yes, it’s a case of read it for its cover and it’s not a bad decision at all. I actually quite enjoyed it once I got into it.

Both protagonists have plans for their future and are driven to succeed. However, the one they didn’t anticipate was each other and how they’d affect each other’s plans. While this story began with a bit of head-butting between the two, they weren’t quite enemies. They were just sort of in the way of the other’s future’s plans. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, they also couldn’t deny the attraction they felt for each other and as they got to know each other better, they found there could be more than just the physical chemistry between them.

How to love Your Neighbor is a very light & cute read if you’re after something that doesn’t require much brain power. Some of the romantic gestures received some terrific eyerolls from me but it’s a sweet dreamy tale in a non-COVID world (yeah!).

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

About the author

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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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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

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The Raffles Affair by Vicki Virtue -a review

the raffles affairThe Raffles Affair by Vicki Virtue

A fun, modern twist on the classic whodunnit, set in the glamorous surrounds of Raffles Hotel.

The Raffles Affair is a light-hearted murder mystery featuring the elegant former MI6 agent Victoria West. A retro, tongue-in-cheek homage to the Golden Age mystery novel epitomised by Agatha Christie.

Beautiful former MI6 agent, Victoria West, arrives at Raffles Hotel in Singapore for the wedding of her good friend, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peyton Latchmore. Fresh from a gruelling three-month assignment in East Africa, Victoria’s plans for a relaxing break come to an abrupt end with the kidnapping of Peyton’s fiancé, the charmingly handsome English financier, James Winstanley.

Warned not to contact the police, Peyton begs Victoria to help. Reluctantly, Victoria agrees. Immediately it is clear the kidnapper knows too much to be a stranger, and Victoria suspects one of the wedding guests is involved. Tensions simmer, as one by one their motives are revealed.

With only 24 hours to make the ransom payment, Victoria must act quickly.

Published 14 September 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I’m always up for a good whodunnit mystery and being set in The Raffles (Singapore) seems like an absolutely divinely glamourous way to travel from my comfy sofa. Even if I’m not a fan of humidity, it did not disappoint with all the gorgeous description of the décor and the delicious food spread. With an easily likeable protagonist and an engaging mystery, my evening flew by without me noticing the time.

To begin with, however, I struggled mightily with the number of characters. Trying to remember who’s who and how they are connected to the bride/bridgeroom to be was a nightmare. Even at the end, at the unveiling of the villain, I still had to stop for a few seconds to recall how this person fits in this set of characters. At this stage (third month of lockdown), I really don’t know whether it’s just too many characters or it’s my mindset / lack of focus these past few weeks.

About a third of the way, as I sort of got the hang of who’s who and as they mystery begins to develop, I was really drawn into trying to puzzle it out. I failed; soooo did not pick that character at all. Our protagonist, Victoria West, is in every essence a modern intelligent woman who can take care of herself. She also likes to dress well and in all this, she reminds me very much of Miss Phryne Fisher. Unlike Miss Fisher, however, Miss West did not have any kind of dalliance in this novel.

There was one thing that I had a good laugh at is how she ate rambutan by using a sharp knife to cut through the skin. This Asian gal would just use her nail and pierce that thick skin to get to the juicy bit. Granted, it’s a lot messier but that is the delight of rambutan.

The Raffles Affair definitely has all the markings of a golden age whodunnit reminiscent of those of Agatha Christie’s with moneyed cast of characters, a focus on human nature and their unending greed, a Poirot-esque denouement and ending with an air of tragic triumph.

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 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

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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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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

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.

Review: Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

I stumbled towards the Meat House, my body shaking with the violence that raged within me, as the realisation of the mistake I had made in coming here rose to the surface of my mind. This was the last place I should be. That thought was crossed by another, even more terrifying.

This is exactly where I belong.

Asa’s running from a troubled past. To a remote outback town, a disappointing father and a fresh start that’s already souring.

But then the notorious Dirt Circus League arrives. A troupe of outcast teens performing spectacular fight sequences and challenging any who dares to take part.

They’re ruthless. Menacing. Thrilling. And led by the magnetic Quarter. He’s dark, powerful and intensely attractive—and he faces a threat only Asa can see.

Will Asa be drawn into the league’s mysterious community?

And, as she discovers the violent secrets at its heart, will she delve into her own untapped abilities to save herself—and heal those caught in its evil web?

Dirt Circus League is a compelling and fast-paced novel about the powerful allure of danger and the battles we face with our demons in a world beyond our control.

Published 30 March 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

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

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

Such an eye-catching cover! That bright pink on background of pure black with title in eye-popping neon yellow; overall, one of the best covers I’ve ever seen. And when you add the word ‘circus’ to the title, I’m a goner. I have to read this book!

Going by the book description, this book could be contemporary or it could be fantasy. Truthfully, I’m finding it hard to place this book in a certain category but I think I’d actually place it as magical realism which is a bit hit and miss for me so unfortunately, this book was closer to a miss.

The setting is a fictional outback town of Australia (possibly in QLD) and it is set in the present time. Asa, the protagonist, is running away from a mother who does not care for her but also of her grief and anger at losing her grandmother who loved her. She came across the Dirt Circus League, became fascinated by the violence, and decided that it may be a good space for her and her anger. What she found at their headquarters, however, was beyond even her imagining and Asa had to decide whether to give in to her anger or accept herself and become better.

As you’d know, magical realism is usually full of strange and at times, wonderful things. In this novel, though, it mostly strange, violent, and more violence. Language wise, I found the novel easy to read and Asa is a pretty easy protag to like despite her anger issues but yet, that’s understandable and she came out strong in the end. I just couldn’t appreciate all the imagery so this is all on me.

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

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