Saturday, 21 July 2018

Book Review: Hive (Young Adult)

Title: Hive
Author: A.J.Betts
Series: Book #1
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 26th June 2018
RRP: $16.99
Format read: Paperback
Source: Publisher

All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.
Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

A drip? It doesn't make sense.

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.
Curiosity is a hook.

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

Hive is the first in a gripping two-book series by award-winning and international bestselling author A. J. Betts.

I’ve read quite a few reviews and heard a lot about A.J. Betts novel Zack & Mia so I was delighted to have the opportunity to read and review Betts’ latest novel Hive.

Hayley’s world consisted of 6 hexagonal houses each connected to a common room by corridors. Above these was a nursery and above that the Upper house for The Council. The Council was the ruling group which was headed by the Judge, a role that was inherited.
Much like a bee hive everyone has their designated role. There were those that nurture and teach, those that prepare meals, those that tend the gardens and those that work in the machine rooms with everyone working together for a common good.

Hayley is a gardener, she tends the hives, her voice is young and naive which is appropriate for someone brought up in a cult-like world where every part of your life is set out and controlled from birth to death. Chimes sound and are adhered to. They signal work times, meal times and sleep time where the people are locked in dorms. Made me think it was very similar to a prison.

No one questions their world, that is just the way it is, God’s way. If anyone questions why something happens the elders simply answer “God works in mysterious ways.”

Hayley is inquisitive and she can’t help breaking rules and asking questions and not accepting vague answers. But they have ways of dealing with people who ask too many questions.

Hayley was instantly likeable, so young and naive. She was inquisitive and strong. She quite often spoke her mind with dire consequences.
The story was like nothing I’ve read before. Note quite cult, not quite dystopian and not quite science fiction, but a mixture of the three.
 I had a lot of questions reeling around in my head while I was reading the story. Some were answered, others weren’t. But I must say I was totally sucked into the story shocked at how the community lived and accepted this way of living; but then I suppose they knew no better.

The ending left me holding my breath and eagerly awaiting the next book, Rogue, due to be released in 2019. Just to whet your appetite there is a one page teaser for the next book at the end of Hive.

An exquisite tale of a girl who asked too much.

Content: one graphic scene where a dead body is dismembered
Recommended 15+

4/5 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟

This review is part of the Beauty & Lace book club
To see the original review visit Beauty & Lace here
This is book #18 in the Australian Women Writers challenge
And part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

A. J. Betts is an Australian author, speaker, teacher and cyclist and has a PhD on the topic of wonder, in life and in reading.
She has written three novels for young adults. Her third novel, Zac & Mia, won the 2012 Text Prize, the 2014 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, and the 2014 Ethel Turner prize for young adults at the New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards and was shortlisted for the 2014 Queensland Literary Award. Inspired by her work in a children's hospital, Zac & Mia is available in 14 countries.
A. J. is originally from Queensland but has lived in Perth since 2004.

Connect with the author at the following sites.
GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook 

Friday, 13 July 2018

Book Review: The Everlasting Sunday (Literary Fiction)

Title: The Everlasting Sunday
Author: Robert Lukins
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication date: 26th February 2018
Pages: 224
Format Read: Paperback
Source: Own copy

During the freezing English winter of 1962, seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor, a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’. Drawn immediately to the charismatic West, Radford soon discovers that each one of them has something to hide.

Life at the Manor offers only a volatile refuge, and unexpected arrivals threaten the world the boys have built. Will their friendship be enough when trouble finds them again?

At once both beautiful and brutal, The Everlasting Sunday is a haunting debut novel about growing up, growing wild and what it takes to survive.

 Goodwin Manor is a place of last resorts, a place for the outcasts of society, young males that have erred that once too many. Situated far from anything, the boys are mostly left to their own devices. Tutors come and go. Edward Wilson (Teddy to the boys) is the overseer; he is tired and withdrawn most of the time only intervening when the situation gets out of hand. Teddy has underlying problems of his own. Lilly, the cook, is a motherly figure demanding respect but also full of kindness.

The story is set in the winter of 1962. England’s bleakest winter for 82 years.

Radford arrives unceremoniously dropped off by his uncle and is quickly taken under the wing of the charismatic West. There is much introspection and confidences shared between the two in their late-night smoking sessions. All the characters seem to be at a place in time they would rather not be.
Much like a boarding school the boys sneak out at night to smoke and drink alcohol. There were no rules and the boys had their own methods of punishment when warranted and found things to keep them occupied. Radford at first tries to make sense of the hierarchy and happenings in the Manor.
”Each day had brought not a sense of understanding but an understanding not to search for sense.”

Winter has its own role in this novel, becoming a character as it watches and waits placing scorn on humans trying to live in its mightiest moments.
”These boys imagining themselves conquering miles, they pushed only deeper into the trap. Winter wondered who would miss them.......Yes, it could bury them now........ Winter would watch on for now. There was no risk of missing its chance, for Winter always returned.”

Lukin’s prose are lyrical and haunting with an underlying empathy, they give a mystical quality to the story.

Occasionally you come across a book that your words cannot describe the way it is written and how it makes you feel. The Everlasting Sunday is such a book.

The Everlasting Sunday is an atmospheric tale of rejection, friendship, bonding and survival. 

 Content: some  violence, non graphic homosexual sex scene.
4.5/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟✩ 

Robert Lukins lives in Melbourne and has worked as an art researcher and journalist.

His writing has been published widely, including in The Big Issue, Rolling Stone, Crikey, Broadsheet and Overland.

The Everlasting Sunday is his first novel.

Connect with the author at the following sites

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Book Review: 365 Days of Happiness (Self Help)

Title: 365 Days of Happiness
Author: Jacqueline Pirtle
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 28th February 2018
Pages: 385
Format Read: eBook
Source: Copy courtesy of Book Publicity Services


Do you have fun with your own life?

How often do you really pay attention and choose things to improve your day?

In 365 Days of Happiness, author, energy healer, and mindfulness teacher Jacqueline Pirtle has created daily inspirations that help you mindfully work towards living a more vivid experience of daily happiness. Showing that you can put in work to change your life while having fun, the practices are full of whimsy and delight.

Jacqueline decided to spend every day of 2017 devoted to her own happiness. She wrote every single day about the things she does to honor her joy, and used these writings to create this 365 day step-by-step guide, so she could teach you how to shift to BE and live in a “high for life” frequency of happiness too—no matter where you are at in your life right now. She started writing these for herself, but has a little sneaky intent to touch your heart every day and initiate new learning, understanding, knowledge, and wisdom for you to get closer to your true, authentic happy self.

Through light, bubbly, cheerful passages, each day teaches you to find happiness, use those sour lemons, and shift yourself into a “high for life” frequency where you can reach happiness anywhere at any time.

          My thoughts

We find throughout our life there are times when we are always putting others’ happiness before our own. Tired, stressed and overworked? Happiness can be yours 365 days a year with this step by step guide to being truly happy. Every day!

Jacqueline Pirtle spent every day of 2017 devoted to her own happiness, writing down every single day things that honoured her joy.

365 Days of happiness is not a book to be read in one sitting (although I did just that so I could write my review) but to be used each and every day just like your morning coffee to get you going and perk you up to start each day on a positive note.

I’m such a cynic when it comes to self help books but hey, who doesn’t want to be happy each and every day. I actually really enjoyed this book and I hardly even did an eye roll. It espouses things we take for granted. Yes, I love my friends and family but expand that to love the food you eat, the sounds you hear and the ground under your feet.

The author uses the power of imagination to get her message across, each day imagining some wondrous new thing.
Each page is short, only about 2 minutes to read, an every day reminder about being happy, a new exercise and affirmation.

Can I never be angry again? You ask. Pirtle tells us to feel our anger, it is ok. Then let it go. Never stay long on a negative feeling.

I read this book a few weeks ago but it stuck in my mind. Situations arose that were difficult, disappointing and I immediately thought back to the book. How can I change my present state of mind and be happy? Having your mind set to being happy also has a roll-on effect to those around you.

365 Days of Happiness is a perfect bedside companion. Why not make this year your year of happiness.

*I received a review copy through Book Publicity Services

4/5 🌟🌟🌟🌟

       About the author

Jacqueline Pirtle is an energy healer, mindfulness teacher, and author of ‘365 Days of Happiness: Because happiness is a piece of cake!’

Connect with the author at the following sites 

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Book Review: Lonely Girl (Crime/Mystery)

Title: Lonely Girl
Author: Lynne Vincent McCarthy
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date: 26th June 2018
Pages: 336
Format read: Paperback
Source: copy courtesy of publisher


He knows he's innocent. She knows he's a killer. Who do you believe?

In the shadow of a mountain in small-town Tasmania, a woman named Ana is watching the clock, marking the days until she ends her life.

The strange, reclusive daughter of the local pariah, that's how people will remember her, when they remember her at all. No one will mourn her, she reasons, not really. Not even her faithful dog River. The only thing she's waiting for is the opportunity.

But then, on the very day she planned to end it all, the police find the body of local woman Rebecca Marsden. And for Ana, that changes everything. Because Ana was the last person to see Rebecca alive. Because Ana thinks she knows who killed her. And because Ana has decided to keep him for herself...

                      My thoughts

A haunting debut for fans of Patricia Highsmith, Paula Hawkins and A.J. Finn.

Ana lives alone in a secluded forested area in small-town Tasmania. Her only companion her beloved and ageing dog, River.

Right from the start we see that Ana is a little unhinged, a recluse, preferring to observe people rather than interact. After a life of mental abuse and neglect from her mother and grandmother she has learnt to be invisible, to be unremarkable and unnoticed. But she notices others.

The story starts with Ana’s all consuming thoughts for River. He is unwell and doesn’t have long to live and she cannot bear to think of a life without him so she plans for her last days with him.  
The focus of the story suddenly changes to captor and captive. I don’t want to give too much away but Ana now has captive the man she believes murdered a woman the night before. She starts digging around asking questions about the murder victim and visiting the bar she was last seen in. The more she talks to the captive man she starts to question what she has done. Is he really guilty? What is real and what is imagined?

This is an eerie tale with ghosts of the past in Ana’s head as she flits from caring nurturer to sexually charged predator. She is in way over her head and can’t see a way out but the yearning is stronger than the fear.

Most of the characters are unlikeable except of course River, the dog, he is in constant pain but is forever faithful and protective of Ana. Also Lenny, Ana’s employer, who was much like River faithful and protective wherever Ana was concerned.

I’m going to end with an old clichΓ© here as this did keep me up late, late into the night because I had no idea how this was going to end.

McCarthy has earned her spot as an immensely talented crime/mystery writer with this chilling debut filled with tension and drama that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last page.

I will be eagerly looking out for McCarthy’s next novel.

*I received a copy from the publisher

Content: minimal coarse language, one implied sex scene.

                                 About the author

LYNNE VINCENT MCCARTHY is a script advisor and screenwriter and has worked as a Development Executive at both Screen Australia and Screen NSW. Lonely Girl is her first novel. It has also been developed for film. She lives in Sydney.

Connect with the author at the following sites.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Reviews Aussie author challenge
and book #17 in the Australian Women Writers challenge