Tag Archives: #australianwomenwriters

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

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

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

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook 

Catch Us The Foxes by Nicola West -a review

catch us the foxesCatch Us The Foxes by Nicola West

Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out …

Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small Australian country town

Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local newspaper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of her best friend – the town’s reigning showgirl, Lily Williams.

Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.

When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.

What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation.

Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way she could never have dreamed of.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I don’t often get NetGalley’s pre-approval emails and when I do, I don’t usually find those books that interesting and so was my first thought about this novel. I’m very much a cover girl so I have to say that cover really didn’t interest me and I can’t really remember why I decided to take up this offer anyway. In any case, good job, past me, because I would’ve really missed out! I thoroughly enjoyed Catch Us The Foxes.

The novel opens with a prologue where protagonist, Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson, is about to speak about a book she wrote. A book about what happened in the past. A book that we all gets to read because this is the main meat of Catch Us The Foxes. It is a book within a book. The Showgirl’s Secret is the title of Lo’s book where she told the story of her friend’s suspicious death and the ordeal she went through as she determinedly tried her best to discover the truth.

But what is the truth? Does she even truly know her friend? or her town? What secrets are such small sunny beach tourist town like Kiama could keep in their hearts? A town where she has lived her whole life. Lo must uncover layers of lies and decide who she can trust.

Within the first few minutes, I knew that this was a novel I would really liked. I found Lo easily likeable even if her character sounds a little unstable at times but then again, that is the way Lo portrayed herself in her book so, without too much spoiler, you do have to wonder what her character truly is like.

The setting, Kiama, being only a couple of hours’ drive away, really made me want to just nip down there for a day but… lockdown 😦 However, if you visit author’s insta, you can see some of the views there. I have been previously so it was a tad difficult to imagine such a dark foreboding secret at such a beautiful spot.

Catch Us The Foxes is a thrilling suspense where tension is taut from the very beginning right to the very last word. It was creepy. It was tense. It was one hell of a ride. I was caught by twist upon twist right up to the end of the epilogue where only the readers, us, know what is ‘true’. I’d highly recommend this to all thriller fans.

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  |  website  |  twitterinstagram

Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart -a review

digging up dirtDigging Up Dirt (Poppy McGowan #1) by Pamela Hart

Renovations are hell. And that’s before you find the body beneath the floorboards. An intriguing mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, for readers of Kerry Greenwood and Holly Throsby.

When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn’t).

Unfortunately, ‘help’ comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy’s old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she’s ever met – and also Julieanne’s boyfriend.

When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy’s house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects – and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family Party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?

Can Poppy save herself, and Tol … and finally get her house back?

Published 2 June 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I don’t read very many cozy mysteries but when I do, I enjoyed them immensely. There aren’t many set in Australia though (please do correct me if I’m wrong but I just haven’t encountered that many whilst they seem prevalent overseas) so this was, to me, such a fresh breath of air. A romp through my beloved hometown filled with its diverse residents and quirky [read: Aussie] humour.

Within a few minutes of reading, I know I’d have so much fun reading this. And I did. In fact, I read this in a single-sitting [ignoring the fact that I had to cook dinner & feed my kids]. The first moment that I loved in this book is when we met Mirha, a minor character who doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot, but author’s description of her described a friend to a tee that made me so happy lol (you know you are!! x)

As always, her hijab, loose top and trousers in various shades of turquoise…

My next encounter with a minor poc character felt a little funny to me. A description of his office noting wedding photo of mixed race parents just felt a little bit unnecessary and therefore, forced into the book. Maybe I’m being a little sensitive noting my background and the usual whitewashed cozy mysteries I’d read. After the read, however, and I’ve stepped back a little, I noticed that overall, author’s just describing the usual cast of diverse people you’d meet in Sydney but for me, this multicultural mosaic stood out a mile away. And I very much appreciated author’s inclusivity intent.

On that note, however, I found myself a little bit bashed as well with the religious & LGBTQ+ factors of the novel. While these are somewhat relevant to the plot, I do feel that the way Poppy repeated her perspective several times to be unnecessary and superfluous to the story.

As Poppy is living at home with her parents while renovating her new house, we get to see her parents quite a bit and I do love this family picture especially her mother (guilty…😅)

Mum wasn’t satisfied, but of course she would believe a total stranger before she would believe me. That’s what being a mother does to you.

Poppy McGowan is truly an easy protagonist to love and one you can easily imagine of coming across in real life. She’s a down to earth, intelligent, modern & sensible woman. I loved that she’s not trying to justify [too much] why she’s investigating looking into things and that her interaction with the real investigating detectives aren’t fraught with too much secrets. In fact, she tried her best to keep those detectives up to date with her findings without betraying too much confidences. I must say that I did guess the murderer because I think those red herrings are too much in your face so I dismissed them rather easily.

Digging Up Dirt is an absolute joy to read; a setting that says home to me (diverse residents, coffee culture, & some sceneries!) and a fast paced mystery that kept me turning the pages. I just couldn’t put it down.

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitterfacebook  |  pinterest

Secrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney -a review

secrets my father keptSecrets My Father Kept by Rachel Givney

Set in Poland on the eve of the Second World War, Secrets My Father Kept is the gripping story of a young woman determined to uncover the truth behind her mother’s disappearance and the dark secret from her father’s past.

Secrets My Father Kept is a captivating novel about love, sacrifice, secrets and resilience, as the clock inexorably ticks down to a devastating world war.

It’s February 1939. As the Führer edges towards an invasion of Poland, total war looms in Europe.

However in Krakow, seventeen-year-old Marie Karska’s primary concern is the unexplained disappearance of her mother fifteen years ago, and her father Dominik’s unbreakable silence on the matter. Even his wife’s name is a secret he guards closely.

Dominik, a well-respected and innovative doctor at the local hospital, has devoted his life to caring for his only daughter. Yet a black fear haunts him – over the questionable act he committed to keep Marie safe. And with German troops now marching to the border, he needs to find her a husband. One who will protect her when he no longer can…

But Marie has already met the man she wants to marry: her childhood friend Ben. She’s determined that his Jewish faith won’t stand in the way of their future together. And nor will her father’s refusal to explain the past stop her from unpicking his darkest secret. . .

Published 1 June 2021|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

The older I get, the more picky I find myself to be with my reads. Although the past year and a half may have something to do with my taste in reading. I just won’t put up with anything that really upsets me and lacks patience with slow paced book or ones where I’m pretty sure I know how it will end. I would usually checked the ending of the book before I DNF’d. I pretty much figured out the ‘secrets’ in Secrets My Father Kept before I’m halfway through and that’s the reason it took me so long to read it. I just didn’t have much patience for it after that. I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep reading but I did make myself and found that it was totally worth persevering for.

I enjoyed WWII novels as even as we witnessed the horrific things people can do to each other, we also witness the bravery, resilience, and greatness of heart others have. This particular novel is a pre-war setting; 1939 in Krakow. Main characters are Polish with their own set of challenges which mostly are not WWII-related but the upcoming holocaust affected them too. Both characters are intelligent, strong, and easily likeable. Their story is a wonderfully heart-warming reminder of how vast & deep a mother’s love can be.

A-mothers-love-for-her-child-is-like-nothing-else-in-the-world.-It-knows-no-law-no-pity.-It-dares-all-things-and-crushes-down-remorselessly-all-that-stands-in-its-path.-Agatha-Christie

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

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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