Category Archives: Womens Lit

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

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

Find author on:  goodreads  |  websitefacebook  |  instagram

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

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook 

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: Little Gods by Jenny Ackland

Little Gods by Jenny Ackland

The setting is the Mallee, wide flat scrubland in north-western Victoria, country where men are bred quiet, women stoic and the gothic is never far away. Olive Lovelock has just turned twelve. She is smart, fanciful and brave and on the cusp of something darker than the small world she has known her entire life.

When she learns that she once had a baby sister who died — a child unacknowledged by her close but challenging family — Olive becomes convinced it was murder. Her obsession with the mystery and relentless quest to find out what happened have seismic repercussions for the rest of her family and their community. As everything starts to change it is Olive herself who has the most to lose as the secrets she unearths multiply and take on complicated lives of their own.

Little Gods is a novel about the mess of family, about vengeance and innocence lost. It explores resilience and girlhood and questions how families live with all of their complexities and contradictions. Resonating with echoes of Australian classics like Seven Little Australians, Cloudstreet, and Jasper Jones, Little Gods is told with similar idiosyncrasy, insight and style. Funny and heartbreaking, this is a rare and original novel about a remarkable girl who learns the hard way that the truth doesn’t always set you free.

Published March 2018 |  Publisher: Allen & Unwin  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

I struggled with this novel. According to GR, I started reading at the end of April. I think I tried for 2 days’ commuting’s worth (approx 3.5 hours) and gave up. Usually, I would’ve nearly finished a novel but I read only about 1/3 of this novel. This was months ago so all I vaguely remember is the jumbled confusion on who’s who. The novel is told from solely from Olive’s perspective and most of the time, she refers to her mother by her name (the same applies to her aunts & uncles). There were 3 sisters and 3 brothers and somehow they formed one big family. It took me absolutely forever to sort them out. Actually, I don’t think I did then…

Today, I decided that the book deserves one last chance. Unbelievably, I caught on fairly quickly and finished the novel in no time at all. I guess the story did pick up after the confusing first third of the book. All the background set up is done and we can actually progress with what’s happened next. It’s obvious from the book’s description that the mystery was a tragedy and it’s something the family does not speak about. I admired Olive’s persistence in finding out the truth and when it hurt (a lot of inferences need to be drawn by the readers as to what’s actually happened; I was rather annoyed with this), she dealt and lived.

I wanted to read this book as it supposedly echoed Seven Little Australians, Cloudstreet, & Jasper Jones. I loved these three Aussie classics but unfortunately, I can’t say the same for Little Gods. Maybe, I picked it up at the wrong time and so struggled badly with the beginning of it, who knows?! Whilst I totally agree that this novel has a very Aussie vibes, I’m left dissatisfied at the close of the book.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for copy of book in exchange of honest review


About the author

Jenny Ackland is a writer and teacher from Melbourne. She has worked in offices, sold textbooks in a university bookshop, taught English overseas and worked as a proof-reader and freelance editor. Her short fiction has been published in literary magazines and listed in prizes and awards. Her debut novel The Secret Son – a “Ned Kelly-Gallipoli mash-up” about truth and history – was published in 2015. Little Gods is her second novel.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  instagram

Review: The Three of Us by Kim Lock

The Three of Us by Kim Lock

A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.

In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.

Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…

In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.

My Blurb (5 stars)

The one sure thing I know I’ll come across in this novel is a female character giving birth. Well, okay, maybe I don’t actually know for sure but that’s 3 out of 3! It’s not the focus of this particular novel but it’s there… I remember my reading experience of Lock’s novel (Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks) and I could never forget that birthing scene and it will always forever colour my view of Kim Lock’s novels. She’s just gone from strength to strength!

The Three of Us opens with Thomas Mullet, a 70+ year old man, at his first appointment with a counselor. He’s there because he’s running out of time and needed guidance on what to do before time’s up. And within 5 pages, the first bomb was dropped. And it was a pretty big one…

There isn’t much I could say about the book without giving hints which may spoil it for you. Whatever your first expectation is… that’s not it. What I can say, however, was that it’s a love story; there is heartbreak and there is happiness. This book spans about 50 years of these characters’ lives. It began in the 60s when Thomas & Elsie just begun their lives as husband & wife. When brides are to give up their fulfilling jobs and maintain an efficient sparkling household. It ended in more recent times when wives and/or mothers are expected to work full time and maintain an efficient sparkling household. But still… in the span of half a century, society has not change all that much

‘Society is more tolerant?’

Thomas gave a wry laugh. ‘We like to think so, don’t we? But I reckon it’s just different versions of the same intolerance. There’s still criticism – horrible things still happen because of narrow minds.’

It was a very uncomfortable read for the first third of the book. Mainly because I have an aversion towards a certain trope and I was very anxious for it not to be employed here. By the end of the first third, the second bomb detonated. A little relief with the way the plot is taking but it was still a rather uncomfortable read. Uncomfortable because we do not speak of these things; we do not expect it in our mundane daily life (as an aside, I actually do know one household and… whatever works for them to be happy, you know).

This is the best of Kim Lock to date even though I still preferred her first work (being lighter in mood). However, The Three of Us is a novel we currently need in the world. The world does not change by itself. We change it. And sometimes, we need a prompt, a push, a nudge, a shove, to change it. In The Three of Us, you will find a love story like no other. I would highly recommend it for a bookclub read. I can guarantee you a very lively discussion! Some wine and chocolates are warranted to chill things a little.

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

About the author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald onlineShe lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Kim! 😀

Review: Ambulance Girls

Ambulance Girls by Deborah Burrows
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Source: Paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Ever since I fell completely in adoration of Deborrah Burrows’ last book, A Time of Secrets a couple of years ago, I’ve been waiting for another book. And while I was waiting, I kinda stalk her on Goodreads and twitter so I knew she’s been traipsing (sorry, researching) all over London when living there. I greeted the cover reveal of Ambulance Girls with a squeal of excitement and I think my heart might have stopped for mo when I received a copy in the mail.

Firstly, I do love this cover and I really like war historical fiction especially when this particular book’s main character was inspired by a real life historical Aussie woman serving in the London Auxiliary Ambulance Station during the Blitz. There were a lot of things I learnt from this novel about women during the Blitz. I guess there have been quite a number of books or even documentaries but the way it was written here made it all the more real to me. It was obvious that a lot of research was done in the writing of this novel and not just about the women or the Blitz as novel itself feels like veritable literary tour of London.

The novel opens with Lily on duty and having to face one of her fears of enclosed spaces. It was a great start to the novel and you’d easily fall in love with Lily. Her other fears though were not as easily conquered… Aside from her courage, empathy, and her wish to do well unto others, she’s also got a great sense of humour. Maybe that’s her Aussie flavoured humour that coloured her interactions with her friends and gave the book a reminiscent air. We follow Lily through her struggles with daily life during the Blitz; the grief of losing a friend and the joy of falling in love. There were some shaky moments where I thought things were just not going to be right with this book but thankfully, all was made quite well! I had to give the book a bit of a hug from relief and an affectionate pat when I finished reading for I was well & truly shaken.

There were a number of characters both likeable and despicable in this book and the variety and dynamics between these characters were really quite interesting. The book is told from Lily’s perspective only so in a way, we miss out on a lot about the other characters as only a few were well developed. However, as this is the first book of a trilogy, I do believe we will get to know some of the others quite well later on (and I look forward to this!). What you cannot mistake in this novel is the author’s views on anti-semitism (ignorant) and Hitler (evil); she’s loud and clear on that front. Hear! Hear! These things can never be stated enough and whilst Hitler is gone, there are still those like him & share his views.

If you loved the show, Call the Midwife, or the books that inspired it, you would love Ambulance Girls. Lily Brennan may not be English but she’s as brave as those midwives in facing uncertainties & adversities of the time. And I dare say that her Australian personality shone through especially against the foil of English reserved façade.

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

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Review: The Fifth Letter

the-fifth-letter
The Fifth Letter by Nicola Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: paperback copy courtesy of publisher

Do you have a group of best friends? Do they know everything about you or do you think you know all there is to know about each other? I have a group of my own best friends; four of us grew close during high school – almost like Joni, Deb, Eden, & Trina. Like them, 3 of us are married with children and one has just found The One and about to tie the knot in a few months’ time. *sniffs – am so very happy for her*

The beginning of their friendship is almost laughable. It was pointed out to them that they all have 2 things in common: surnames starting with “C” and their star signs (Scorpios). It’s not the silliest thing that have begun deep friendships, of course, but this was the basis that Joni decided that the four of them are meant to be best friends forever. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the most innocent start of the group…

scorpio

Years later, they were still good friends. They see each other regularly and even have girls weekend away sometimes. This weekend though, things rather fell apart. They decided to each write an anonymous letter of secrets to tell each other. It really wasn’t that easy to be anonymous when you know each other well and in addition to that, Joni found a fifth letter with a rather menacing tone. What is she to do with it? Is she supposed to do anything about it?

I really enjoyed the beginning of The Fifth Letter. The stage was being set with Joni finding the letter, her confessional conversation with a Catholic priest (my favourite character), then flashbacks to their teen years. I started smiling on page 3 and found at the end of my train trip, that I still had a wide smile on my face. It wasn’t just funny but the flashbacks also remind me of my own memories of my friends. I didn’t actually like any of these 4 ladies even though I can identify/empathise with all of them in one thing or another. Joni, being the main protagonist and whose perspective we read from, can be very frustrating! She is lovely really but oh, she can be so blind! In saying that, however, I also couldn’t really pick the fifth letter writer. And that precious ending, oh wow, I was literally choking with laughter!

What began as a rather humorous and reminiscing read, this novel took a turn into a dark complex of human emotions. These women each have their own issues which they feel they cannot voice yet that is the first step towards healing. The Fifth Letter engages the reader to look beyond the surface, to check our unrealistic expectations of women and see them as a person, an individual, who is not perfect (no one is perfect) and needs loving supports.

Thank you, Nicola Moriarty, for this novel and the chance to reflect of my own friendships. Like Joni, Deb, Eden, & Trina, I’m sure that we do not know everything about each other and that’s okay… I am certain, however, that none of us harbours any ill will towards anyone in the group 😀

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers Australia for providing paperback copy in exchange of honest review

View all my reviews

Review: Between The Vines

 

between the vinesBetween the Vines by Tricia Stringer

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Source: eARC courtesy of publisher

Between the Vines is a novel of beautiful and intriguing setting. Set in the famed South Australian vineyards, in Coonawarra, it lends a gorgeous & sunny air as the atmosphere of the novel. Being set within the vineyard itself with characters involved in winemaking engages my curiosity and also reminds me that I need another holiday!

The initial attraction between Taylor and Ed was thrilling. Taylor hasn’t had the best of luck in the men department so whilst she wanted to take the chance with Ed, she also needed to take it slow. As it turned out, he wasn’t what he seemed. Pete, on the other hand, is a bit like the boy next door –a lovely man whom you’d not glance twice if you walk past them on the street. Tension between these three characters were drawn taut but with a clear line of what’s really the best outcome for them all.

For some reason, I got really confused between Ed and Pete (I kept forgetting which brother is which!) in the beginning so I needed my full concentration reading that I even missed my train stop (*grump*) but I got into the swing of it pretty soon. I also seemed to have missed the humour in the F’s… I found this penchant of Taylor actually annoying and could do without it.

Overall, Between the Vines is a fine leisure read. Unfortunately, as this was a train-read for me, I could not have a glass a wine whilst reading though I really really wanted to –this would have improved my reading experience.

Thanks Harlequin Australia for eARC via NetGalley in exchange of honest review

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