Thursday 30 November 2023

Book Review: Deep in the Forest by Erina Reddan

Deep in the Forest


Erina Reddan

What lies behind the walls of the Sanctuary? 
Publisher: Pantera Press
Publication date: 28th November 2023
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery/Thriller
Pages: 296
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPRMedia

Review: Deep in the Forest

Deep in the Forest by Erina Reddan is a fascinating story rich in secrets, lies and betrayal. Filled  with simmering menace it has me hooked from start to finish.

Town pariah Charli Trethan is fed up with being blamed for a crime she didn't commit and plans to leave Stone Lake for a new life overseas.
A gruesome discovery just a few weeks before she is due to leave sees her under police scrutiny again. Then Charli finds a hidden message, a cry for help, from someone within the nearby closed community called The Sanctuary. 

Narrated in first person by Charli who has bouts of depression, I found myself questioning her actions and reasoning. Erina Reddan had me reeling back and forward with who could be trusted and what the truth was.

Reddan digs deep into communal living and exactly how voluntary joining a cult is when they prey on the vulnerable.

Deep in the Forest starts out at a slow pace as the scene is set but as the story twists and turns and the suspense ramps up it had me questioning what I thought was true right up to the adrenaline fuelled ending.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you are on Instagram you can follow along on the blog tour below:


Wednesday 29 November 2023

Book Review: The Goldminer's Sister by Alison Stuart

The Goldminer's Sister


Alison Stuart

Gold is a fever. Will it lead her to love ..... or death? 
Publication date: 8th July 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 381
RRP: $29.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

Review: The Goldminer's Sister

In The Goldminer's Sister, Alison Stuart deftly evokes the attitudes and nuances of 1800's Australia.
Set in the goldfields of country Victoria, Stuart depicts the small towns of the late 1800's with startling clarity.
Eliza sails from the UK to Australia, after her mother's death, to be with her brother, Will. It isn't until she arrives in Maiden's Creek that she learns of her brother's accidental death and her Uncle offers her lodgings.

Eliza's curiosity over her brother's death starts to mount as she gets to know more people in the town and she begins to wonder why her uncle is so keen to be rid of her.
Mysteries start to appear right from the start of the book and as the story progresses the mysteries deepen and an element of suspense is added. The Goldmines are a dangerous place for women however Eliza will not back down, she is outspoken and feisty. Stuart's characterisation is perfect, Eliza is well formed and believable.
The introduction of Alec, a man of honour, Will's friend and mine manager, gives a good balance to the other lecherous men and introduces an element of romance.
The Goldminer's Sister is a fabulous read, rich in mystery and danger, theft and deception, showing how profit quite often came before people's lives.
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Challenges: Mount TBR challenge


Saturday 25 November 2023

Book Review: The Girls by Chloe Higgins

 The Girls


Chloe Higgins

A memoir of family, grief and sexuality

Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 27th August 2019
Genre: Non fiction / Memoir
Pages: 320
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Girls

When Chloe was seventeen she and her mother stayed home, so she could study for HSC exams, whilst her father took her two younger sisters on a ski trip. On the way back from the trip the car was involved in an accident and burst into flames. Both the sisters were killed.
The Girls is what followed, for Chloe, after that fatal day.
I find it very hard to review memoirs, especially those that involve grief and mental illness as I've never had this extreme level of grief.  
I appreciated that Chloe was candid in her writing. It is no use writing a memoir if you are only going to write the good stuff and gloss over the bad. It's all included; the drugs, the sex and the bouts of depression.
The words flow and her writing is easy to read even though the content is tough.
The story jumps around a lot in time and sometimes I found the time stamp hard to figure out.

I am glad writing this book has helped Chloe work through her own grief and by the end of the book I was pleased she was starting to heal.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Challenges: TBR challenge
                    Non-fiction challenge

Book Review: Vendetta by Sarah Barrie



Sarah Barrie

Publication date: 15th November 2023
Series: Lexi Winter #3
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 400
RRP: $32.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: Vendetta

The much anticipated Lexi Winter #3 is here! 

In Vendetta by Sarah Barrie Lexi finds herself with no one to turn to for help, once again relying on her hacking skills to keep herself alive. It is not only Lexi's life that is at stake.

Dawny is back in book 3 and she is in fine form. Her quick wit and sarcasm cracks me up.

Lexi is still not sure if the police force is the right job for her when people from her past pop up again in her life.
Lexi didn't disappoint! She was tough and wanted it all her way, she doesn't concede to anyone, police or criminal.
The suspense ramps up as the pages turn and I was worried this could be the case that destroys Lexi.

The book ends on a teaser which makes me feel that the next book is  going to be even more heart-stopping - if that's possible!!

Vendetta is fast-paced and suspenseful, readers following the Lexi Winter series will not be disappointed.

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other books in the series:

Saturday 18 November 2023

Book Review: The Land Beyond the Sea by Sharon Penman

 The Land Beyond the Sea


Sharon Penman

Publication date: 28th January 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 672
RRP: $32.99 (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Land Beyond the Sea

I do love historical fiction however I tend more towards books set in the 1900's to 1950's. The Land Beyond the Sea is set in the 12th Century, not my usual read but I loved the whole saga, the politics, betrayals, murder, wars, raids, arranged marriages and allegiances. It's all there!
The social standing and hierarchy of the time is well portrayed.

At 672 pages The Land Beyond the Sea is a big book however there is always something new happening, which kept me invested in the lives of the characters.

"Sharon Penman's The Land Beyond the Sea tells the epic tale of a clash of cultures that will resonate with readers today."
There is also a handy list of characters in the front of the book and at the back is an afterword, author's note, acknowledgments and sources of research.
my rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Author Interview: Fleur McDonald


Today I would like to welcome author Fleur McDonald to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

Hello Fleur, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

 Hi, I’m Fleur and I live on the south coast of WA in a beautiful little coastal town called Esperance. I’m a farmer and a writer, with a couple of adult kids and a Kelpie as sidekicks.


What does your typical day look like?

 I’m an early riser and like getting up between 4 and 4:30am. I have a coffee on the back verandah and then go on a five to seven kilometre walk. What happens after that depends on where I am in the writing cycle. I can sit at the computer for the whole day, or I can spend a couple of hours there. Social media takes up a fair bit of time and I’m the secretary/event coordinator for our two day agricultural show. The show takes up half a day every week from February to November.

If I’m on a deadline, that’s when I’ll spend the whole day at the computer.

Being an earlier riser, I head to bed early too. 8pm is a late night for me.


Your books are primarily about farming, women in farming, small communities and the challenges they face - what inspired you to write about these topics?

 I’ve been working in the agricultural industry since I left school which was 32 years ago! I grew up in a small country town and I have a really good working knowledge of these towns, farming and women in agriculture. It’s really important to me that what I write about is authentic and these are topics I can write about with a deep knowledge which I hope keeps people turning the pages.


Your latest book Voices in the Dark was released on 31st October - how did you come up with themes explored in Voices in the Dark?

 Hmm, interesting question, because I’m not really sure. I guess some of my friends and I are at the time of our lives when our parents are getting older and we want them cared for safely. Rural areas miss out on lots of services that the city people have and we are severely lacking in services for the elderly who need care.

Small towns simply don’t have services that are able to care for people in their homes and if the town does have a nursing home, it might only cater to the fit and healthy, not people who have got extra medical problems, like dementia or needing special equipment to help move them around.

I also volunteer delivering meals-on-wheels and I see the extremes that families go to, to keep their loved ones in their own homes. 


What would you like your readers to get out of Voices in the Dark?

 A lot of entertainment and escapism. The world is so full of horrible actions at the moment and I’d love to be able to help someone have a nice few hours


What were the key challenges you faced when writing Voices in the Dark?

 I don’t think there were any.


I can’t let a chance go by without asking a question about everyone’s hero, Dave Burrows.

Young Dave Burrows is a tough, relentless, undercover detective, all about the job however the older Dave Burrows has mellowed, he’s a lot more forgiving and shows a lot more emotion. Was this a conscious change or simply an organic evolution?

 I think people change and grow as they get more life experience under their belt. What could have been black and white when people were younger, isn’t always as you get older and can see lots of different points of view. Dave has had many life experiences which help with that, but also his wife, Kim has had a large impact on Dave. Kim always finds the good in people and life and she’s slowly educated Dave to that way of thinking too.

Mentoring younger police officers has had an impact as well. Dave has realised he has to watch his own behaviour in order to be a good role model.


Just for fun…..either or?

Tea or Coffee: Coffee

Summer or Winter: Winter 

Dog or Cat: Dog

City or Country: Country 

Morning person or Night owl: Morning person

Paperback or eBook: Paperback

Ninjas or Pirates: pirates!

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.


  Voices in the Dark is out now and should be in bookstores all over the country. 

About the book:

Sassi Stapleton is called home after news her grandmother is unwell. Less than an hour away from her hometown, Barker, she swerves to miss a roo and her car rolls down an embankment and she's left hanging. By the time she is found, her grandmother has already passed away.

Sassi's mother, Amber, returns from South Africa, and as soon as she arrives family tensions between her and her brother, Abe, are back in the forefront of everyone's minds.

When it quickly becomes clear that Sassi's grandfather Mr Stapleton is unable to live alone, the hunt is on to find a carer. Rasha enters the family home, firmly entrenching herself as someone they can't do without, and before long Mr Stapleton is happier than he has been in years.

Then bruises start appearing on Mr Stapleton and he becomes withdrawn, refusing to talk even to Sassi.

None of the family are convinced that Rasha could hurt anyone. Amber is his daughter; Sassi, his granddaughter. None of these three could hurt Mr Stapleton.

My review:


Saturday 11 November 2023

Book Review: The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

 The Age of Light


Whitney Scharer

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 12th February 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 375
RRP: 29.99AU (trade paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Review: The Age of Light

The Age of Light is a fictional rendition of the life of artist Lee Miller, concentrating on the years she spent with Ray Man. After extensive research and finding little is taught about Lee Miller in art history courses Whitney Scharer has written a darkly intoxicating story about the woman behind the man.

The main timeline of the book is the late 1920's and set in a bohemian Paris. Lee has left New York and modelling behind and wants to pursue a career in photography. When Lee meets Man ray they embark upon a passionate affair. Man Keeps Lee close but she doesn't mind as they are working together and experimenting with photographic techniques. As Lee builds her own confidence in her work, Man's jealousy and real personality show.

Lee and Man's affair is totally consuming but it is this affair that suddenly makes Lee realise that it's not her controlling men with her beauty, The men in her life have always controlled her.

There are chapters on Lee's life as a journalist during the war. However these are very short and only give flashing scenes of the horrors that damaged her and caused her withdrawal from society. There are also flashbacks to Lee's childhood showing the trauma that shaped her personality.

I liked Lee and could understand it was her upbringing that made her so aloof. Scharer doesn't play on the bouts of depression that obviously plagued Lee's life instead giving her readers a story of growth and survival in a male dominated world.

The Age of Light was an engrossing read. I read it in a day! It would not only appeal to readers interested in the Arts but anyone who enjoys a good story of betrayal.

My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐