Friday 31 July 2020

The Winner of a copy of The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart announced

Once again I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart . The giveaway closed on the 29th July and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Jacky B

Please see my Giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

Monday 27 July 2020

Book Review: Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope

Mum & Dad
Joanna Trollope

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 31st march 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 336
RRP: $ 32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

About the book

It’s been 25 years since Gus and Monica left England to start a new life in Spain, building a vineyard and wine business from the ground up. However, when Gus suffers a stroke and their idyllic Mediterranean life is thrown into upheaval, it’s left to their three grown-up children in London to step in . . . Sebastian is busy running his company with his wife, Anna, who’s never quite seen eye-to-eye with her mother-in-law. Katie, a successful solicitor in the City, is distracted by the problems with her long-term partner, Nic, and the secretive lives of their three daughters. And Jake, ever the easy-going optimist, is determined to convince his new wife, Bella, that moving to Spain with their 18-month-old would be a good idea. As the children descend on the vineyard, it becomes clear that each has their own idea of how best to handle their mum and dad, as well as the family business. But as long-simmering resentments rise to the surface and tensions reach breaking point, can the family ties prove strong enough to keep them together?

My review

Joanna Trollope has written an inter-generational family drama that is steeped in regrets, resentment, sibling rivalry and petty jealousies.

At the heart of the story are ageing parents Monica and Gus who 25 years earlier had left England for Spain, where they have created a successful wine business. Over the years Gus has become a grumpy old man, his wines are his life, and he pretty much leaves Monica to do her own thing. She loves Spain but has regrets about leaving her children, in boarding school, all those years ago.

When Gus suffers a debilitating stroke and the family is called in to help out it has them all re-evaluating their relationship with each other.

This dilemma with their parents comes at a time when each of the children have busy jobs and are trying to deal with problems with their own children, their marriages and life in general. The three siblings are not close but the common problem prompts them to come together and be open with each other.

The setting of Spain is beautifully described and I loved how the Spanish people, who worked for Monica and Gus, were so loving and accommodating. More like family than their own children.

Mum & Dad is filled with relatable family dramas and about a topic that is relevant to many families today. Joanna Trollope has once again given her readers an engrossing story with an eye for family dynamics and absorbing character studies.

My rating 4/5             ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo credit Goodreads
Joanna Trollope is the author of many highly acclaimed and bestselling novels, including The Rector's Wife, Marrying the Mistress and Daughters in Law. She was appointed OBE in 1996, a trustee of the National Literacy Trust in 2012, and a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund in 2016. She has chaired the Whitbread and Orange Awards, as well as being a judge of many other literature prizes including chairing the BBC National Short Story Awards for 2017. Mum and Dad is her twenty-second novel. 

Mailbox Monday & Life This Week - July 27th

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Life This Week is a meme created by Denyse Whelan Blogs where bloggers share snaps of what is currently happening in their lives.

Happy Monday!

What has been happening over the last two weeks!

We have been staying home and staying safe this week. So not much happening but it gives us time to slow down and recoup.
I've used the 'stay at home' time to catch up on same knitting projects.

I made this hoodie jacket for my grandson. I bought the wool when we were all in lockdown and most wool stockists were stripped of wool so I didn't have a great choice with texture or colour of wool. I'm yet to buy buttons to finish it off.

This is my first attempt at a topsy-turvy doll. I hope it looks more like a doll and less like a turtle when I add the dress and face. 😀

I have been knitting squares for charity in South Africa. I make them from left over balls of wool and also any odd balls I can pick up at op shops. They are easy to make and I can knit them while watching TV.  It takes 35 squares to make a blanket. I've knitted 16 so far but you don't have to send enough for a full blanket they are happy to accept any amount of squares. Once they receive the squares they are made into blankets by volunteers. You can learn more about this on the website.

Books received over the last two weeks:

From the publisher:

Bluebird by Malcolm Knox
A house perched impossibly on a cliff overlooking the stunning, iconic Bluebird Beach. Prime real estate, yet somehow not real estate at all, The Lodge is, like those who live in it, falling apart.

Gordon Grimes has become the accidental keeper of this last relic of an endangered world. He lives in The Lodge with his wife Kelly who is trying to leave him, their son Ben who will do anything to save him, his goddaughter Lou who is hiding from her own troubles, and Leonie, the family matriarch who has trapped them here for their own good.

But Gordon has no money and is running out of time to conserve his homeland. His love for this way of life will drive him, and everyone around him, to increasingly desperate risks. In the end, what will it cost them to hang onto their past?

eBook giveaways from the author:

Wasp Season by Jennifer Scoullar
When Beth’s marriage ends, she’s determined to build a new life in the country for herself and her children. A quiet life lived closer to nature. She thinks she’s achieved the impossible – a civilised separation, a happy home and a cordial relationship with her estranged husband, Mark. There's even the promise of new love on the horizon. But when Mark tries to change the rules, Beth’s peaceful world is turned upside down.

Disturbingly, she also discovers that European wasps have invaded her garden. Beth’s obsession with them and their queen holds up a distorted mirror to the human drama. As the chaos in Beth’s life gathers momentum, connections between the two worlds come sharply into focus. The lives of Beth and the others are neither separate to, nor safe from, the natural world.

Tempt Me by Kally Ash
After returning home from work one night to find his wife gone, Max Parker is left to raise his infant daughter alone. So when a work opportunity arises that sends him across the country, he jumps at the chance of getting a fresh start and a break from all the drama.

Gianna Borello is a model student. Living in New York, she thrives on her academic studies, making her blind to almost everything and everyone else. But an opportunity to get an internship at her dream job is almost derailed when she agrees to meet her roommate's new boss who promises her a short-term nanny position.

Temptation comes in many forms.

I would love to hear what books you received in the mail lately! 

Friday 24 July 2020

Friday Freebie Book Giveaway: The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart

As a thank you to my subscribers I have a subscriber only giveaway.

The Rearranged life of Oona Lockhart
Margarita Montimore

I have one paperback copy of The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart to give away to one lucky subscriber.
This giveaway is for subscribers only and will not be advertised elsewhere.
The paperback copy will be posted to Australian addresses only. If an international subscriber wins a $15 Amazon card will be substituted.

Enter via the form below.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was ...... Jacky B

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Book Review: The Girl in the Mirror by Rose Carlyle

The Girl in the Mirror
Rose Carlyle

Identical twins only look the same …

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 4th August 2020
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 368
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Uncorrected ARC paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

About the book
Beautiful twin sisters Iris and Summer are startlingly alike, but beyond what the eye can see lies a darkness that sets them apart. Cynical and insecure, Iris has long been envious of open-hearted Summer's seemingly never-ending good fortune, including her perfect husband, Adam.

Called to Thailand to help sail the family yacht to the Seychelles, Iris nurtures her own secret hopes for what might happen on the journey. But when she unexpectedly finds herself alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, everything changes.

Now is her chance to take what she's always wanted - the idyllic life she's always coveted. But just how far will she go to get the life she's dreamed about? And how will she make sure no one discovers the truth?

My review

I loved this tale of deception and greed. Iris has always felt as if she can never be as beautiful or as kind as her twin, Summer. Everyone loved Summer and she had everything Iris didn’t. Summer had the perfect life Iris always dreamed of. A chance comes where Iris can make Summer’s life her own. Will she take it?

“Summer is an it girl, a blonde bombshell. And I am her mirror.”

The story is told in the first person by Iris and the first part of her narration does elicit sympathy but when her chance comes to take Summer’s life a different Iris emerges, callous and calculating, and I started to wonder which was the true Iris.

I loved this gripping tale of identical twins. I like to try and guess what the outcome will be but this story had me fooled. It was full of twists I didn’t see coming. The ending killed me and I’m still pondering it days later.

I read this in two days. Fast-paced, atmospheric and haunting The Girl in the Mirror is totally addictive! I’m looking forward to more from Rose Carlyle.

My rating 5/5          ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Rose Carlyle is a lawyer and keen adventurer. She has crewed on scientific yachting expeditions to subantarctic islands and lived aboard her own yacht in the Indian Ocean for a year, sailing it from Thailand to South Africa via the Seychelles. Rose was a Michael King Writer in Residence in 2020. She lives in Auckland with her three children. The Girl in the Mirror is her first novel.

Friday 17 July 2020

Book Review: My Life For Yours by Vanessa Carnevale

My Life For Yours
Vanessa Carnevale

Publisher: Bookouture
Publication date: 7th August 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 349
RRP: Currently on pre-order at Amazon for $1.99AUD
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Paige and Nick are happy. They have a beautiful home, a loving family and, most importantly, they would do anything for each other. Now, they are having a baby and it feels like all their dreams are coming true.

But joy turns to despair when they discover that Paige has a rare, life-threatening heart condition and they lose their longed-for child. Heartbroken, the couple must accept the reality that they may not become parents after all.

Just as they begin to come to terms with their loss, Paige unexpectedly falls pregnant again. Paige’s heart is still weak, and to carry the baby to term puts them both at risk. The couple now face an impossible decision: Paige’s life or the life of their unborn child?

If Paige keeps the baby, she could lose her life and destroy the man she loves. If Nick tries to stop her, he may lose them both forever. It’s the most important decision they have ever had to make – and time is running out.

Vanessa Carnevale has written an emotionally charged story that will have readers asking themselves what they would do in this life altering situation.

Paige has been advised not to fall pregnant until her health improves but when she accidentally falls pregnant it causes major family upheaval and a conflict that may cost her her marriage.

Told in the alternating points of view of both Paige and her husband Nick, we get a rounded view of the emotional upheaval the pregnancy has caused for both of them.

I don’t want to give too much away with the plot but the story is strongly focused on a mother’s love and how far you will go for your child.

Vanessa Carnevale made it very easy to put myself not only in Paige and Nick’s shoes but also Paige’s mother Evelyn’s. Each character had their differing ideas on what Paige should and shouldn’t do and I felt for each of them.

My Life For Yours is a compelling and heart-wrenching read. A story of lost dreams and hopes. Of a love that defies all reasoning. I had no clue as to how this story was going to pan out. And I loved that! It kept me eagerly reading.

My Life For Yours is a heartrending story told with compassion and candour. It had me reaching for the tissues a few times whilst reading.

 My rating 5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Photo credit Goodreads
Vanessa Carnevale is an Australian author of women's fiction. She is also the host of Your Beautiful Writing Life retreats held in Tuscany and Australia.

Vanessa loves to travel, and spent several years living in Florence, Italy, a place she considers her second home. She lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

Her previous novels, THE MEMORIES OF US and THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE are published by HarperCollins and have been translated into German and Slovenian. Vanessa's third novel, MY LIFE FOR YOURS will be published by Bookouture in August 2020.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

  and the Australian Women Writers challenge

Thursday 16 July 2020

Book Review: Dead Lions by Mick Herron

Dead Lions
Mick Herron

Publisher: John Murray
Publication date: 8th October 2015
Series: Slough House #2
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 336
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

London's Slough House is where washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what's left of their failed careers. But now the 'slow horses' have a chance at redemption.

An old Cold War-era spy is found dead on a bus outside Oxford, far from his usual haunts. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade's circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient secrets that seems to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, and a decades-old conspiracy with a brand-new target: London's newest, tallest skyscraper . . .

Dead Lions is the second book in the Slough House series. Slough (pronounced slow) House is the MI5 dumping ground for screw-ups. Jackson lamb and his band of misfits are joined by two new members to the team.

The teams main job is to complete paper work and endless amounts of data entry but they live in hope of one day returning to head office.

Mick Herron gives the reader a look at some of the characters personal lives and it seems their work misfortune flows over to their everyday life. They all really do come across as a bunch of losers but you can’t help but have some affection for them.

When Min and Louisa are seconded to H.O. to babysit a Russian security team they think this may be their big break.

A long dead myth emerges once again after many years and an old street hand is found dead. Lamb believing he could have been murdered starts an investigation of his own.

The story is told in dual plot lines that cleverly connect for an adrenaline filled, explosive ending.

Herron includes his own brand of humour with sarcasm, hypotheticals and a wry wit that had me laughing out loud throughout the story. The atmosphere is perfectly set for a spy novel on the dimly lit, fog filled streets of London.

Lamb is rude and abrupt to his fellow workers but when it comes to the crunch he is on their side. He is arrogant and oafish but he has an inexplicable appeal.

Herron doesn’t baulk at killing off his characters – Slough House is staffed by crew-ups and there is no shortage of replacements.

This is a must read series! Slough House has been made into a TV series, titled Slow Horses after the first book, on Apple TV starring Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb.

My rating 5/5        ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award
A BBC Front Row best crime novel of the year
A Times crime and thriller book of the year

Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of six books in the Slough House series as well as a mystery series set in Oxford featuring Sarah Tucker and/or P.I. Zoë Boehm. He now lives in Oxford and works in London.

Click on the cover to read my review

Slow Horses (Slough House, #1)

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Book Review: Crack Up by Jules Faber

Crack Up
Jules Faber

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Pan
Publication date: 31st March 2020
Series: Book #2
Genre: Middle Grade / Teen
Pages: 232
RRP: $12.99 AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: courtesy of the publisher

Max Crack and his best friend Frankie are back with even more quest-ordinary adventures!

Armed with a shiny new quest list, they are on a mission to find a meteorite, make a movie, solve a sisterly feud, eat truckloads of chocolate, set a World Record ...

Funny fonts, gross stuff, embarrassing moments, speech bubbles and strange creatures.
Read all about it!

Max Crack and best friend Frankie Doink are back again with more quests, bigger and better than before.

Max starts a new journal/diary which runs from November to end of February. A four month period that includes the end of year school holidays which gives the boys plenty of time to complete new quests.

After seeing a shooting star and feeling a shudder like an earthquake the boys think it could have been a meteorite. Their first quest: find a meteorite.

At school their class will be involved in trying to break a world record. They will also be having a movie making competition.

I loved that the stories weren’t all about winning but working together and having fun.

The boys are eager to attend their first pop concert and find work mowing lawns for an elderly local resident who tells them of her falling out with her sister. Thus prompting their next quest: to reunite the sisters.

The boys take the ups and downs of life in their stride. Max eager for his own smart phone is happy to take his father’s hand-me-down and the rules that go with owning a phone.

We see the comparison of Frankie’s large rambunctious family to Max’s only child family. Both families are caring and interested in the boys activities.

As an adult I am keen for young children to read books with good role models and I think Max and Frankie have achieved this status. They have fun, are a little dorky, are respectful, don’t expect to be given the world, argue and make up, give everything their best effort and never complain.

I loved the second book in this series even more than the first.

There are blank pages at the end to write your own quest list, favourite movies, world records you want to set, places you wish to explore and also a few pages to try your own sketches.

My rating 5/5         ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jules Faber is a cartoonist and illustrator, most well-known for illustrating the 'WeirDo' series by comedian Anh Do, for which they've won multiple awards, including Book of the Year for Older Children at the Australian Book Industry Awards

He's also illustrated David Warner's 'Kaboom Kid' series Michael Pryor's 'Leo Da Vinci' series, Alex Ratt's 'Stinky Street Stories' and some of Dr Karl Kruszelnicki's science books.

When he's not illustrating books, Jules loves reading books and graphic novels, and collecting comics. he has served four, two-year terms as the president of the Australian cartoonists Association and is a member of the CBCA NSW Committee.

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge

Click the cover to read my review.