Category Archives: Reviews

Review: Esme’s Wish by Elizabeth Foster

Esme’s Wish (Esme Series #1) by Elizabeth Foster

This was her last chance.
Her hand twisted high in the air.

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the actions of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she?

But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know.

After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all.

My Blurb (4 stars)

I do love stories which takes us from our mundane world into another magical one. Doesn’t it just give us hope that maybe one day it’ll happen to li’l normal me? lol

Esme’s Wish is one such story. Esme herself grew up on an island where everybody knows everyone. In the opening scene, she’s attending a wedding… her father’s. Of course, she couldn’t accept this and made her objection known (wowser! It took some guts to stand up in front of everyone you know!). Unfortunately, she wasn’t taken seriously… Still, this image is totally imprinted in my mind!

Esme finally decided to take matters into her own hand and to investigate her mother’s disappearance especially after some strange things were happening to her. In following her mother’s footsteps, she suddenly found herself somewhere beyond this world. A world where magic is strong though it appears to be faltering. A world where her mother has been and disappeared into. The more she finds out about her mother, the more determined she is to find her & fix things.

I have really enjoyed the reading of Esme’s Wish. I must admit it may not be to everyone’s cup of tea as the language is quite flowery & descriptive but I did find it mesmerisingly magical. The magic system is very interesting though not quite yet fleshed out (I am looking forward to book 2!) so this book is very much a world-building one. And what a beaut! It’s just like Venice (canals etc) with hints of Greek gods and magical creatures (dragons and sirens). Yep, if you like your world to be filled with magic, I’d highly recommend Esme’s Wish.

I won this book in a giveaway via another book blog; review is my own honest thought.

About the author

Elizabeth Foster read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago, when reading to her own kids reminded her of how much she missed getting lost in other worlds. Once she started writing, she never looked back. She’s at her happiest when immersed in stories, plotting new conflicts and adventures for her characters. Elizabeth lives in Sydney, where she can be found scribbling in cafés, indulging her love of both words and coffee.

Find Elizabeth on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  | instagram  | pinterest

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Elizabeth! 😀

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Blog Tour: The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

Harper Hunter doesn’t know how it came to this.

Her tennis dreams are collapsing: her coach says she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the world of professional tennis.

Her new doubles partner is moody, mysterious and angry at the world. What is he hiding?

She is in love with Jacob, but he is her sister’s boyfriend. Or, he was. Harper could never betray Aria with Jacob … could she?

As Harper’s heart and dreams pull her in different directions, she has to figure out exactly what she wants. And just how hard she’s willing to fight to get it.

My Blurb

Strictly from the book’s description, I wouldn’t have picked up the book as I usually would avoid a love triangle involving sisters and/or best friends. However, when an invite for blog tour arrived, I couldn’t resist. I had my doubts about the book but maybe because of a lower expectation that I found myself actually enjoying the read.

In the first instance, Aria and Jacob had broken up at the beginning of the book. I’m still uncomfortable with the competing feelings however a couple of things eased my conflicted thoughts: Harper knew what’s right or wrong really but she’s struggling to do the right thing (haven’t we all been there?!) and I do not like Jacob. These helped me to settle comfortably into the story.

Despite Harper’s choices, I liked her a lot. Sure, she’s in a star-child bubble but at least she’s not a ‘tennis brat’. She worked hard for her dreams. She’s quite lucky actually with her parents and coach who will rebuke her when she’s wrong, nudge her to the right direction and love her for who she is. And Colt! Hhhmmm… what can I say? Mysterious. Hot. Broody. Talented. Even romantic. *sighs*

Even adults get confused with their feelings some times so really, Harper is allowed to be confused. Adults struggle to do the ‘right’ things too so Harper is allowed to struggle with doing the right things. Adults also make mistakes so Harper must be allowed to make her own mistakes and learn from them. I was cheering Harper from the stands.

As an adult, I’m just reminded of just how hard life is some times especially when you’re in the cusps of adulthood. I think this was a lovely novel; I have definitely enjoyed the few hours I spent reading it. I don’t follow tennis at all but it was an easy one to read, language and plot wise. It was a smooth read so don’t expect any twist. It’ll make a fine beach read or maybe um… at the tennis? lol ;p

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. I have restricted my review to the book and my personal experience in the reading of it. Whilst I have seen what’s going on social media; I have made a commitment (blog tour) to the publisher.

You can, by following this link, read an Excerpt

About the author

Taryn lives the typical writer’s life with a supportive husband, teen children, and characters from her latest book insisting they help make dinner. Taryn has been an English Literature Honours student, a media Manager and a CEO of an internet company, but she plans to write inspiring, engaging novels until the day she can no longer type. Taryn is from a family of elite athletes, musicians and academics and is fascinated by teens that surpass the norm in their field.

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

Review: The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

The Barrier by Shankari Chandran

Twenty years ago an Ebola epidemic brought the world to the edge of oblivion.

The West won the war, the East was isolated behind a wall, and a vaccine against Ebola was developed. Peace prevailed.

Now Agent Noah Williams is being sent over the barrier to investigate a rogue scientist who risks releasing another plague. But why would a once-respected academic threaten the enforced vaccination program that ensures humans are no longer an endangered species?

Hunting for answers amid shootouts, espionage and murder, Noah will have to confront a fundamental question:

In the fight for survival, can our humanity survive too?

My Blurb (3 stars)

I do so want to support all Aussie authors and I think that was primarily my reason in picking this book up. The cover is attractive enough and it’s a dystopian thriller so that was enough reasoning for me to read it. I enjoyed most of it but I just didn’t realise that there was a lot of medical / biology factor in this book that just went over my head. I could never make sense of biology at school so this stuff was really beyond me, unfortunately, and took away what could be a truly exciting book.

The prologue was exciting and horrifying all at once. It was a very promising beginning but as this is a whole new post-apocalyptic world, it slowed right down with the required world building. It’s a very scary world when the world as we know it ended due to an epidemic. Certain powers then rose and stayed in control over the whole world (albeit behind the scene) after discovering the cure.

In this new world, religion and/or faith is prohibited and was unknowingly suppressed by the world power. However, there have been some terminal illness which appears to be related to faith. Or is it?

I loved the characterisation; all the broken, flawed, and conflicted characters. I loved this post-apocalyptic world which for me as a Christian (I have faith!) is very scary. While the world is seen to be united in their secular views but there was actually a lot of conflict under the surface. Is it better to have a world without any faith?

The only disappointment I have is really my fault or rather my lack of scientific mind. I just can’t get myself around the science stuff and got really bogged down so I just skimmed quite a bit of the book and found that I probably missed quite a bit of the plot. That ending though… wow, great plot & twist!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Shankari Chandran was raised in Canberra, Australia. She spent a decade in London, working as a lawyer in the social justice field. She eventually returned home to Australia, where she now lives with her husband, four children and their cavoodle puppy.

The Barrier is her second novel. Her first novel, The Song of the Sun Godexplores the recent history of Sri Lanka. She is currently working on her third book, also set there.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  | facebook

 

Review: Haxby’s Circus

Haxby’s Circus by Katharine Susannah Prichard

Run away to the circus with this book by award-winning Australian novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard.

A world of wandering mushroom tents, spawning on bare paddocks beside some small town and then off again … places that smelt of milk and wheat, where the farmer people gave you milk and apples, or melons; you got fresh water to drink and a bath sometimes. A dirty, strenuous world. Cruel, courageous, a hard, hungry world for all the glitter and flare of its laughter; but a good world, her world.

Welcome to Haxby’s Circus – the lightest, brightest little show on earth. From Bendigo to Narrabri, travelling the long and dusty roads between harvest fields, the Haxby family and their troupe – acrobats, contortionists, wirewalkers, clowns and wild beasts – perform under the glaring lights of the big top. But away from the spotlight and superficial glamour of the circus the real, and sometimes tragic, lives of the performers are exposed: their hopes and dreams, successes and failures, the drudgery of life on the road.

Proprietor Dan Haxby lives by the maxim ‘the show must go on’, even when his daughter Gina, the bareback rider, has a dreadful accident. Gina may never ride again, but, with some advice from circus dwarf Rocca, who shows her how to transform her liability into art, she flourishes and discovers a courageous spirit within.

My Blurb (3.5 stars)

An impulse buy based on:
1. eye-catching cover: PINK!
2. I love anything CIRCUS related
3. Sale bin
4. Aussie classics

Did it live up to expectations? Yes and No… it’s a very realistic tale of circus life from the point of view of a woman. I love the glamourous face of a circus. Ever since I read Enid Blyton’s Circus series, I’ve always been enamoured (and a bit jealous) of the adventures of circus folks. This novel, however, does not spare you the drudgery and hard work of that life. And in that way, it’s a realistic story but it also made the novel hard to bear as sometimes the author would list of what needs doing etc. I found this last bit a little boring.

Gina Haxby has just bloomed into womanhood with the admiration of the crowd when she fell and broke her back. She will never again ride her beautiful horses nor perform any acrobatic feats. While her back is hunched, she’s lucky to still be alive and able to walk though it didn’t feel like that to her. She then found a reason to live; to protect her weak baby brother from her father’s expectations. Once again, tragedy struck and she decided not to stay with the circus but took her mother and new baby sister away.

She could not stay away forever, however, as fate brought them all back together. This time, however, she is a woman of strength and can stand on her own. Her little sister is also a strong character of her own and together, they will bring the circus back to its brightest.

I didn’t pay that much attention to the blurb at the back of the book before I started reading so I really was surprised when the first tragedy struck (oops!). I was really heartbroken for Gina as she’s such a lovable character but of course, steel needs tempering and that’s what’s happened. It wasn’t an easy road for Gina but she’s traversed it with help from her loved ones and flourished despite all that life dealt her.

I’ve read one other of this author’s work, Coonardo, and it was such a hard book to read (nature of topic). Haxby’s Circus was also a bit of a struggle as it was such a hard life that I barely felt the excitement of the circus. Plus the way she did lists became annoying and dreary after the first couple of times. Still, I did like the characters and the descriptions of life in Australia in those days.

About the author

Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Hodder & Stoughton All Empire Literature Prize. After her return to Australia, the romance Windlestraws and her first novel of a mining community, Black Opal were published.

Prichard moved with her husband, war hero Hugo “Jim” Throssell, VC, to Greenmount, Western Australia, in 1920 and lived at 11 Old York Road for much of the rest of her life. She wrote most of her novels and stories in a self-contained weatherboard workroom near the house. In her personal life she always referred to herself as Mrs Hugo Throssell. She had one son, Ric Throssell, later a diplomat and writer.

Review: Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Puberty Blues by Kathy Lette & Gabrielle Carey

Written twenty years ago, Puberty Blues is the bestselling account of growing up in the 1970s that took Australia by storm and spawned an eponymous cult movie. It also marked the starting point of Kathy Lette’s writing career, which sees her now as an author at the forefront of her field.

Puberty Blues is about top chicks and surfie spunks and the kids who don’t quite make the cut: it recreates with fascinating honesty a world where only the gang and the surf count. It’s a hilarious and horrifying account of the way many teenagers live and some of them die. Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey’s insightful novel is as painfully true today as it ever was.

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Ok, wow, now I get all the controversy surrounding this book! I still don’t know whether to cry or laugh…

Cry because it’s saddened me, as an older woman, to hear these young teens (starting at 13 when they still haven’t had their periods yet) giving in to sex just cuz it’s what the boys wanted. And sorry but those boys sound like such losers! Gorgeous maybe but err all the girls did was what the boys wanted to do; I wanted to scream!!

Laugh because well, weren’t we all boy crazy at that age? I didn’t get to any of the shenanigans these girls got up to but then again, my life was very sheltered and I did go to a private Catholic girls school where most girls in my class are rather intelligent so yea… but I did remember the slathering baby oil to sunbath; ah, those were the days.

This book was set in the 70s so please do take that into consideration when reading. If you are a parent, be prepared for a fully open & honest conversation with your teens. If you are a teen, please please please have a chat with a trusted adult especially with your questions.

Really, these girls were just dreaming of romance and why shouldn’t they? We dream of romance at any and every age; I still do 😉 I am, however, thoroughly GLAD (capitals required to stress my feelings) with the ending. You go, girls!

 

Review: Draekora by Lynette Noni

Draekora (The Medoran Chronicles #3) by Lynette Noni

“I swear by the stars that you and the others slain tonight will be the first of many. Of that you have my word.”

With Aven Dalmarta now hiding in the shadows of Meya, Alex is desperate to save Jordan and keep the Rebel Prince from taking more lives.

Training day and night to master the enhanced immortal blood in her veins, Alex undertakes a dangerous Meyarin warrior trial that separates her from those she loves and leaves her stranded in a place where nothing is as it should be.

As friends become enemies and enemies become friends, Alex must decide who to trust as powerful new allies—and adversaries—push her towards a future of either light… or darkness.

One way or another, the world will change…

My Blurb

The future was a terrifying thing… But she did have a choice. 

Woah, a fantastic installment of The Medoran Chronicles especially since it’s got one of my fave bits in books (possible (view spoiler) – I won’t specify though it probably won’t be hard to find, I’m sure someone will have mentioned it somewhere). I’m just going to state some points of what I love in this book:

💗 New Mayeran character (a real toughie!)
💗 Different perspectives to some familiar characters
💗 Alex consistently being funny, kind, and generous
💗 Oh, that heartache!!!
💗 A very good conclusion to that problem from book 2

I don’t want to give anything away so this is oh so very vague. Despite the missing ‘romance’, Draekora will not disappoint you because all of the above points. It has fantastic setting with some literally awesome characters (*wink wink*) and great plotting. The best book in the series yet! I cannot wait for Graevale! *Is it February yet?*

About the author

Lynette Noni grew up on a farm in outback Australia until she moved to the beautiful Sunshine Coast and swapped her mud-stained boots for sand-splashed flip-flops. She has always been an avid reader and most of her childhood was spent lost in daydreams of far-off places and magical worlds. She was devastated when her Hogwarts letter didn’t arrive, but she consoled herself by looking inside every wardrobe she could find, and she’s still determined to find her way to Narnia one day. While waiting for that to happen, she creates her own fantasy worlds and enjoys spending time with the characters she meets along the way.

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

 

Review: Godblind by Anna Stephens

Godblind (The Godblind Trilogy #1) by Anna Stephens

For fans of Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, and Mark Lawrence comes a brutal grimdark fantasy debut of dark gods and violent warriors.

The Mireces worship the bloodthirsty Red Gods. Exiled from Rilpor a thousand years ago, and left to suffer a harsh life in the cold mountains, a new Mireces king now plots an invasion of Rilpor’s thriving cities and fertile earth.

Dom Templeson is a Watcher, a civilian warrior guarding Rilpor’s border. He is also the most powerful seer in generations, plagued with visions and prophecies. His people are devoted followers of the god of light and life, but Dom harbors deep secrets, which threaten to be exposed when Rillirin, an escaped Mireces slave, stumbles broken and bleeding into his village.

Meanwhile, more and more of Rilpor’s most powerful figures are turning to the dark rituals and bloody sacrifices of the Red Gods, including the prince, who plots to wrest the throne from his dying father in the heart of the kingdom. Can Rillirin, with her inside knowledge of the Red Gods and her shocking ties to the Mireces King, help Rilpor win the coming war?

My Blurb

When I picked this book up, I thought it was a stand alone. When I got around halfway and things still did not progress to enable a satisfying ending in this book, I started to get a bit confused. It was around then that the Goodreads’ page was updated to reflect that this is the first book of a trilogy. I was rather upset…

Nevertheless, it was an interesting but very very dark book. It was also so very violent (I am thinking of one particular incident from which I literally winced & I think all males may just have run to the bathroom and vomit from imagining it only). So, yea, this author was certainly NOT shy! I haven’t read all the books in the world so I can’t say if it’s ever happened anywhere else or if any male author would have written such a scene. Can you tell that it’s totally shocked me?

The beginning was quite slow but then again there’s a new set of world being built. There were also quite a number of perspectives from a number of different locations. It wasn’t that easy to get into but a couple of the characters were easily likeable so that helps. When the battles begin, the rest of the book flew by in what felt like minutes.

If you like your fantasy dark and full of action, I’d recommend this first book of The Godblind Trilogy. It’s a brutal world filled with bloodthirsty power-grabbing villains with a vision to rule the world. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for the sequel (warning: a bit of a cliffhanger of an ending).

Thanks to HarperCollins Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Anna Stephens works in corporate communications for an international law firm by day and writes by night, normally into the small hours, much to her husband’s dismay. Anna loves all things speculative, from books to film to TV, but if you disagree keep it to yourself as she’s a second Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate.

Godblind is Anna’s first novel.

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