Sunday, 24 June 2018

Book Review: The Book Ninja (RomCom)

Title: The Book Ninja
Authors: Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 1st June 2018
Pages: 337
RRP: $29.99
Format Read: Paperback (uncorrected proof)
Source: publisher supplied


Sometimes love means having to broaden your literary horizons.

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.

It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment.

Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams.

Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really.

A quirky and uplifting love letter to books, friendship and soulmates.

 My thoughts

Ali and Michelle are the co-founders of the famed Books on the Rail Australia and what better way to express their love for all things books and Melbourne than to write a book.

Frankie works with best friend Cat at Little Brunswick Bookshop. She is a bit of a book snob, preferring classics to popular fiction and YA titles, she judges people by the books they buy at the shop.
Left broken hearted by Adam and not having any success with romance she decides to leave her favourite books on Melbourne trains, with a note at the end of each book to contact her for a date, believing the  best man for her would be someone who loves the same books as her.

This Rom Com is filled with hilarious situations and plenty of hijinks. Frankie and cat were a couple of crazy best friends who told each other everything, well almost everything. There are a few surprises that will be revealed.

An ex boyfriend, bad dates, a meddling mum and a crazy best friend; could anything get any more difficult? Apparently so, when Frankie becomes a recognisable face after an altercation with a beetroot latte and a pair of white pants goes viral on Instagram.

The story is told through third person narration, blog posts, texts and emails placing it solidly in the modern era.

With over 100 mentions of books throughout the story i can see The Book Ninja booklist being used for reading challenges in the foreseeable future.

I think this book would be perfect made into a movie as the humour is more of a visual humour which would suit screen adaptation. An example is with Cat and the new baby (no spoilers) but this scene would have been better as a visual, the humour was lost on the page.

Cat’s husband Claud’s character fell flat for me and I couldn’t quite get the reason for the inclusion of 17 year old Seb, a school boy who often visited the book shop.

The Book Ninja was a fun, easy read. One for the under 40’s.

In true book ninja style my copy was left on the train for the next person to enjoy.

Content: infrequent coarse language appropriate for target audience.

*I received my copy from the publisher

about the author

Ali Berg 
Co-founder & Professional Aussie Book Ninja at Books on the Rail & Co-author of The Book Ninja (Simon & Schuster): "A clever, funny and well observed story." Hitting shelves June 2018.

You can connect with the author at the following sites


This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge 
and book #16 in the Australian Women Writers 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Book Review: The Jade Lily (Popular Fiction)

Title: The Jade Lily
Author: Kirsty Manning
Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Publication Date: 1st May 2018
Pages: 437
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format Read: Paperback (uncorrected proof)
Source: Publisher  supplied


 In 2016, fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, when her grandfather is dying. With only weeks left together, her grandparents begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century.

In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the 'Paris of the East': beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy form a fierce friendship. But the deepening shadows of World War Two fall over the women as Li and Romy slip between the city's glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto. Eventually, they are forced separate ways as Romy doubts Li's loyalties.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents' past. As she peels back the layers of their hidden lives, she begins to question everything she knows about her family - and herself.

A compelling and gorgeously told tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.

My thoughts

The Jade Lily is a dual time-line narrative.

1938 Vienna, Austria – 11 year old Romy and her parents flee to Shanghai after one of her brothers is shot by German soldiers and the other is herded away with other young Jewish men. On the three month trip to Shanghai by boat, Romy meets Nina and they become firm friends. Their lives take very different paths but bonded by the unspeakable events of war they remain firm friends for life.

2016 Melbourne, Australia – 36 year old Alexandra has rushed home from England to be by her dying grandfather’s side, leaving behind a broken romance. Her Grandmother, Romy, is stoic and strong and with lifelong friend Nina by her side she goes about her business without a fuss. This stoic, strong attitude is so endearing and understandable from the women that have been through countless injustices throughout their life and have learned to keep going and do whatever you can to survive through these adversities with no complaint.

Alexandra’s parents died in a car accident when she was young and she was brought up by her grandparents. She knows that her mother Sophia was adopted by Romy and Wilhelm. There is much secrecy around Sophia’s adoption and whenever Alexandra brought it up with her grandparents she could see they were genuinely distressed, so she let the matter drop. Alexandra’s story is one of trying to find out who she is, what makes her the way she is, her ancestry. Armed with nothing but an old photo, her mother’s adoption certificate, an old diary and a jade necklace she accepts a job offer in Shanghai and starts to ask questions.
When Alexandra visited the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum and saw her great grandparents’ and grandmother’s names engraved on the wall I could almost feel the goosebumps myself. How surreal this moment must have been!

The Jade Lily is an atmospheric tale of the atrocities of war and the stoic, strong women that endured it.
Manning has written a heart-felt historical fiction detailing the hardships endured by the displaced and the unfailing spirit of these people to keep going when all seems lost.
A large focus throughout the story is the blending of cultures as refugees from different countries introduce their cultures and foods into Shanghai. Traditional Chinese medicine is also explored with the healing power and well-being benefits of different blends of herbs and acupuncture.
Shanghai was the star of this story! The people, the food, the customs, the countryside, the refugees and the architecture all feature prominently, then and now.

” this swirling metropolis where decadence and depravity skipped hand in hand and it seemed rules were meant to be broken”

The Jade Lily is an intensively researched story that conveys the shocking cruelties endured by the displaced during the war and one woman’s journey of strength and love as she comes of age during these trying times. The vivid descriptions are a sensual feast of odours, flavours, sounds and sights from the streets of Shanghai.

If you read Historical Fiction this is one book you must add to your shelf.

My rating 4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Content: the horrors of war.

*I received an uncorrected proof copy from the publisher

About the author

 Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east and west coasts of the United States and pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism and photography specialising in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers and online.
In 2005, Kirsty and her husband, with two toddlers and a baby in tow, built a house in an old chestnut grove in the Macedon Ranges. Together, they planted an orchard and veggie patch, created large herbal ‘walks’ brimming with sage and rosemary, wove borders from chestnuts branches and constructed far too many stone walls by hand.
Kirsty loves cooking with her kids and has several large heirloom copper pots that do not fit anywhere easily, but are perfect for making (and occasionally burning) jams, chutneys and soups. With husband Alex Wilcox, Kirsty is a partner in the award-winning Melbourne wine bar Bellota, and the Prince Wine Store in Sydney and Melbourne.

You can connect with the author at the following sites.

And book #15 in the Australian Women Writers challenge