Friday, 22 October 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

 The Perfect Family
Robin Harding 
Publication date: 28th July 2021
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Pages: 336
RRP: $32.99AUD Paperback 
          $12.99AUD eBook
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley
About the book
Thomas and Viv Adler are the envy of their neighbors: attractive, successful, with well-mannered children and a beautifully restored home.

Until one morning, when they wake up to find their porch has been pelted with eggs. It’s a prank, Thomas insists; the work of a few out-of-control kids. But when a smoke bomb is tossed on their front lawn, and their car’s tires are punctured, the family begins to worry. Surveillance cameras show nothing but grainy images of shadowy figures in hoodies. And the police dismiss the attacks, insisting they’re just the work of bored teenagers. Unable to identify the perpetrators, the Adlers are helpless as the assaults escalate into violence, and worse. And each new violation brings with it a growing fear. Because everyone in the Adler family is keeping a secret—not just from the outside world, but from each other. And secrets can be very dangerous….
My review
The Perfect Family is a twisty tale of secrets, lies and family breakdown. Narrated in the first person by each member of the Adler family. Thomas is a real estate agent, Vivian an interior decorator, Eli a college football star, Tarryn a moody teenager.
We learn early in the book that each character has their secrets that are tearing at them and making their actions hurtful to others. 
The family home is targeted with what seems like random acts of vandalism but each family member thinks these attacks are brought on by something they did. As each person agonizes over their secrets and the problems they may be causing the family unit is further broken down.
Everyone in this book made me angry. Thomas was an idiot, Eli a coward and Tarryn a hypocrite. I didn't mind Vivian, her secret was a bit humorous and, although she wasn't doing a real good job of it, she was trying to hold her family together.
I think if the attacks on the family had have come first in the book, before I knew all their flaws, I may have felt more empathy as the attacks were quite terrifying. Although I didn't connect with the characters and found it mostly unbelievable the story did actually hold my interest and I was eager to get to the final conclusion.
No spoilers here, but that ending was just wrong!
The Perfect Family is a compelling family drama centred on peer pressure and standing up for yourself and what is right. 
My rating 3 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit Goodreads

Robyn Harding is the author of several books and has written and executive produced an independent film. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her husband and two children.


Book Review: Déjà Vu by Bobby Twidale

 Déjà Vu 
Bobby Twidale

Publisher: Cherry Publishing
Publication date: 30th April 2021
Genre: Romance
Pages: 253
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Connie Bentley is not your average Newly Qualified Teacher. Moving back to live with her parents while working at St George's Independent Day School for boys is not how she imagined her life would be at thirty-two.

Art teacher Matt Turner is not average in any way. A relationship with a colleague eight years ago didn't lead to the happy outcome he'd expected — he’s now older, wiser, and warier.

When Connie and Matt meet, the spark of attraction is immediate and mutual. Although neither is going to admit to that because the more they learn about each other, the more they're both getting an uncomfortable feeling of déjà vu.

Will past hurt, raw wounds, and unexpected twists stand between them, or will they both get a second chance at love?
My review
Connie is back in her childhood home and on the bottom rung of a teaching career after a long term relationship ended badly.
I found the first half of this story really slow as it went through Connie's day to day life and her classes at the school. I did enjoy the slow burn romance with Matt, the sports teacher at the school. Matt was so sweet. He had been burnt before and was hesitant to open his heart.
I didn't warm to Connie at all and felt she was self-centred. Every decision she made was with herself in mind and she had done something previously that I just couldn't come to terms with.
With plenty of hurdles for the couple to negotiate there is also a big metoo moment in the story and I applaud Connie's courageousness where reporting this and following through was concerned.
Deja Vu is a slow burn romance story about starting afresh, making new friends and moving on with your life.
My rating 3 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Winner of a copy of Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer announced!!



Once again I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Birds of a Feather.  The giveaway closed on the 18th October and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Betsy


 The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.

 Please look under the giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

I have more giveaways coming, I just need to find the time to write up the posts 😀

and in November 2021

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Blog Tour Book Review: Twelve Days to Save Christmas by Elizabeth Neep

Twelve Days to Save Christmas
Elizabeth Neep
On the first day of Christmas, my true love… dumped me.
Publisher: Bookouture

Publication date: 19th October 2021
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Chick Lit
Pages: 297
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

About the book

Poppy loves Christmas and always goes all out to make this magical time of the year extra special for her boyfriend George. But George is strangely not in the spirit this year. As Poppy wrestles him into her Christmas jumper built for two for a holiday snapshot, she finds out why.

He’s leaving her. And she only has twelve more days until he moves out.

Poppy is heartbroken. But she’s not going to give up on their five-year relationship without a fight. George is the love of her life, and his warm and stable family are worlds away from her own chaotic upbringing. And she is sure he still loves her too – she just needs to remind him of all the reasons why. Twelve days: twelve chances to get her man back and save Christmas.


My review
Twelve days to Save Christmas is a fun, upbeat romance read. 

Poppy is a girl in love, totally devoted to her long term boyfriend George who is part of an up and coming boy band. I immediately warmed to Poppy she exudes fun and happiness and is fully supportive of George, buying him coffees, meeting him for lunch and attending all his gigs. When George breaks up with her saying she is too needy, Poppy sees this as a challenge; she has twelve days to make George remember just how much he loves her.

As Poppy distances herself from George to prove to him she is not needy she starts to make new friends and try new ventures like volunteering at a church based community centre and joining a choir. 

Poppy feels that her whole life is George. All her friends were his friends, his family is her only family. She is nobody without George.
"I don't know who I am without him." - Poppy (Twelve Days to Save Christmas)
 Anyone who has been dumped by the love of their life will certainly relate to Poppy and be cheering her on as she starts to discover and accept who she really is. The split with George forcing her to confront her past and start to make decisions and do things to please herself.

I enjoyed the way Elizabeth Neep included a nod to the Twelve Days of Christmas song throughout the story; in the song sung by the choir, in the chapter headings and in all the cute things Poppy did for George.

Twelve Days to Save Christmas is a heart-warming tale of finding your true self, finding friends in the most unlikeliest places and the real meaning of family.

This story screams big screen! It was very visual and I could see it all being played out as I read. If you love feel good stories that make you smile you will love Twelve Days to Save Christmas. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.
My rating 5 / 5  🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄


About the author
Photo credit: Juliet Trickey
Elizabeth Neep was born in 1990 in Derbyshire and now lives in London Bridge. After studying Law at the University of Nottingham and the University of New South Wales, she worked in magazine journalism, most noticeably writing for dazed and Confused and PETRle. Elizabeth now works as a non-fiction Senior Commissioning Editor and writes and paints in her spare time.


Monday, 18 October 2021

Book Review: Summer of Serenity by Nicola Marsh

 Summer of Serenity
Nicola Marsh
A slick city principal. 
A country teacher with a cause. 
Fireworks are guaranteed.... 
Imprint: Mira AU
Publication date: 29th September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Rural Romance
Pages:  384

RRP: $29.99AUD

Format read: paperback

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace Book Club

About the book

A slick city boy with a mission. A free-spirited country girl with a cause. Fireworks are guaranteed...

Upstanding principal Jay Atherton dreads the next four weeks. As punishment for crossing his bosses, he's been lumped with the inglorious task of assessing Acacia Haven's tiny school with its, dare he say, 'hippie' curriculum. With the lowest test scores in the state, it's no wonder shutting it down is practically a forgone conclusion. But then he crosses paths with a spitfire who knocks him for six - pity he's already public enemy number one...

Teacher Summer O'Reilly loves her small town nestled along the beautiful coast. Returning was the best decision she ever made. The intentional living community of Serenity is thriving, and the children are its future. No way will she allow a jumped-up suit - no matter how good-looking - to close the school her precious students need.

For Rayne O'Reilly, Acacia Haven has always been serene on the surface, but there's a dark secret she's kept from everyone for decades, including her daughter, Summer. But after reviving old friendships and reconnecting with the past, will she finally have the courage to tear down the walls that have kept her trapped?

My review

In Summer of Serenity Nicola Marsh has written a heartfelt and meaningful story about releasing your past demons and moving on to a better life.

As punishment for his outspoken views on Education Jy is sent to the seaside town of Acacia Haven to assess whether the small school should remain open.

After her initial apprehension Summer, a teacher at the school, finds Jy easy-going and very good looking. What harm could a fling do, he is only in Acacia Haven for four weeks?

Rayne’s life has been filled with llies and secrets and fifteen years after her husband walked out on her and Summer she can’t stop the lies because that would mean facing her past.

Summer of Serenity is a story about small-town closeness and the lack of resources for these communities. Just outside Acacia Haven is the small community of Serenity, not a hippy commune but an intentional community of like minded people that believe in sustainability. Through the teenagers of the local school we see how this community believes in work ethics and learning through helping out around the community rather than attaining a University admission ranking. A work and life balance is fostered in the children of the community and they can still grow up to lead a fulfilling and purposeful life.

Small towns are often portrayed as everyone knowing everyone else’s business and Acacia haven was no different. However, Nicola Marsh shows us that even in the closest of communities there are still secrets behind closed doors.

I enjoyed the different generational romances, how the different age groups handled situations differently and the reasons behind why the characters were closed off to love but all culminated in each of them bottling up their emotions, stopping them from moving forward with their lives.

Nicola Marsh was able to portray the lingering effects of domestic abuse without an abundance of graphic detail.

Summer of Serenity is a heart-warming story with plenty of ups and downs for the characters to negotiate but still leaving the reader guaranteed a happy ending.

This review was first published at Beauty & Lace and you can read it HERE along with other member's reviews.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 About the author

USA Today bestselling and multi-award winning author Nicola Marsh writes page-turning fiction to keep you up all night.

She has published seventy-seven books and sold over eight million copies worldwide. She currently writes rural romance for Harper Collins Australia's Mira imprint, emotional domestic suspense for Hachette UK's Bookouture and contemporary romance for Penguin Random House USA's Berkley imprint.

She's a Romantic Book of the Year and National Readers' Choice Award Winner.

A Physiotherapist for thirteen years, she now adores writing full time, raising her two dashing young heroes, sharing fine food with family and friends, barracking loudly for her beloved North Melbourne Kangaroos footy team, and curling up with a good book! 

Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021

                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21
Fantastic news! I hear there is a sequel coming titled Spring of Serendipity.  



Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Book Review: Pony by R. J. Palacio

R. J. Palacio 
The highly anticipated, unforgettable new story from the internationally bestselling, multi-award-winning author of WONDER.
Imprint: Puffin
Publication date: 28th September 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Historical Fiction 
Pages: 304
RRP: $26.99AUD
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Own copy
About the book
When Silas Bird wakes in the dead of night, he watches powerlessly as three strangers take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool . . . who happens to be a ghost. But then a mysterious pony shows up at his door, and Silas knows what he has to do. So begins a perilous journey to find his father - a journey that will connect him with his past, his future, and the unknowable world around him.
My review
When you pick up a book written  by the author of Wonder, you know you are going to be in for a great read.
R. J. Palacio has delivered in this wonderful historical fiction written for the middle grade reader but I'm sure will be loved by young and old alike.
Set in 1860 Ohio and narrated by 12 year old Silas. Silas was home schooled by his father where he lived with no constraints, free to be himself. We follow Silas as he ventures out to find his father after he was taken away by three armed men. Silas' companions are a stray horse, Pony, who appears to connect with Silas and urge him forward on this journey, and a ghost, Mittenwool, who is Silas' only friend.
Pony is rich in adventure, danger and suspense as Silas encounters life-altering moments and a battle for survival in the wilds of Ohio.
Silas' father is a boot maker and he also invented daguerreotypes, which is the concept of transferring images onto paper. Palacio has used real daguerreotypes and ambrotypes in the chapter openers with some characters physical attributes inspired by the photos, which gave an added visual element to the characters.
I can see Pony becoming a future classic. I could read it over and over!
Middle Graders will read Pony as a great adventure story as Silas must push himself past all his fears and confront difficult decisions. Through it all he is urged on by the love he has for his father. The older reader will see the heartbreak and love, that Silas has been brought up with, shine throughout the novel. Tissues will be required!
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit: Goodreads

R.J. Palacio lives in NYC with her husband, two sons, and two dogs. For more than twenty years, she was an art director and graphic designer, designing book jackets for other people while waiting for the perfect time in her life to start writing her own novel. But one day several years ago, a chance encounter with an extraordinary child in front of an ice cream store made R. J. realize that the perfect time to write that novel had finally come. Wonder is her first novel. She did not design the cover, but she sure does love it.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Giveaway: Win a paperback copy of Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer

Thanks to Harlequin Australia I have a paperback copy of Birds of a Feather to give away to one lucky reader.
Birds of a Feather is The Book Stack Facebook Group book of the month for October.

This giveaway is for subscribers only and will not be promoted elsewhere.

 Who will find you when you lose your place in the world?

Full of practical wisdom, this heart-warming novel from a bestselling author celebrates finding help where you least expect it as well as the ties between women that can change - and save - lives.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell - but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable - old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia's desire for Eve's attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives ... and each other?
Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at midnight on 18th October 2021.
If form isn't showing click HERE 

Friday, 8 October 2021

Book Review: The Rhythm of the Beach by Russell Irving

 The Rhythm of the Beach
Russell Irving
Publisher: Russell Irving

Publication date: 2nd August 2021
Genre: Children's
Pages: 22
RRP: $14.99AUD (Paperback - author website)
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the author
About the book
A joyful, poetic exploration of the changing seasons, moods and natural wonders to be discovered at the beach. A celebration of the serenity found when we connect with ourselves through nature.
My review
The Rhythm of the Beach is a contemplative and beautiful picture book that focuses on the changing seasons around an Australian beach.
It is spring and plovers lay their eggs. Summer sees plovers hatching dolphins swimming and children splashing. Autumn the crowds are gone, a man walks his dog and surfers ride the waves. Winter the beach is quiet, the occasional visitor rugged up against the cold comes to build sandcastles.
Through Japanese zen inspired water colour washes and simple verse Russell Irving builds a connection with nature and the cycle of the seasons in a simple to understand format that will be appreciated by children and adults alike.
I found this calming, serene  poem a good way to introduce poetry to children and remind ourselves to slow down, look around and enjoy nature.
The book concludes with a couple of poems inviting the reader to connect with nature as a way to learn about and connect with themselves.
Recommended age: 7 - 12 years
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Russell Irving has worked for many years as an environmental educator and manager, including with Indigenous ranger groups at the Kimberley and Northern Land Councils in Broome and Darwin respectively. He currently works with the Bandjalang Rangers on the North Coast of New South Wales, one of the most biodiverse regions of Australia.
This experience has reinforced his passion for educating people, and children in particular, about the many benefits of building meaningful connections with nature. This is a core theme of his writing and drives his continued production of high-quality, educational children's books. 
Visit the author's website where you can purchase the book and download nature themed activities.
Challenges entered: Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Book Review: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns

 How to Mend a Broken Heart
Rachael Johns

There are a million ways to break a heart.....
but is there only one way to mend it?
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 5th May 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 448
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Felicity Bell has struggled to move on after her marriage broke down. Her ex has found love again, her children have their own lives, and it’s beginning to feel like her only comfort comes from her dog and her job as a taxidermist. So when Flick gets an offer to work in New Orleans for a few months, she’s drawn to the chance to make a fresh start.

Zoe is ready to start a family with her husband, but when he betrays her, she’s left shattered and desperate for a change of scenery. Joining her mother on the other side of the world to drown her sorrows seems the perfect solution.

Although both mother and daughter are wary of risking their hearts to love again, Theo, a jazz bar owner, and Jack, a local ghost hunter, offer fun, friendship and distraction. But all is not as it seems in New Orleans…

A chance meeting with Aurelia, a reclusive artist who surprises them with lessons from her life, prompts Flick and Zoe to reassess what they want too. Can all three women learn from the past in order to embrace their future?
My review
I'm so glad I read The Art of Keeping Secrets first. I now have a real feel for Felicity and her reason for fleeing to New Orleans grabbing at a chance to move away from the trauma of her marriage breakdown.
You know when you finish a book and you want more....well this is the more!
Whereas the first book The Art of Keeping Secrets is all about the three friends Felicity, Emma and Neve, this book is Felicity and her daughter Zoe's story.
How to Mend a Broken Heart is, as the title suggests, about healing, moving on and opening up to new relationships.
As much as I loved Flick and Zoe's stories and growth the real hero of this book is New Orleans. I absolutely loved all the descriptions of the buildings, the music, the people and the food that makes New Orleans so fabulous and unique. Rachael Johns brought it all to life on the page. Now overseas travel has been closed for what feels like forever this is the perfect novel to armchair travel across the ocean and experience the delights of New Orleans.
The sights are introduced through bar owner Theo, who also adds a little romance to the story, and ghost hunter/tour guide Jack. I particularly liked Jack's morals and good humour. Zoe was a broken woman when he met her and he didn't take advantage of that. An element of mystery was added by the elderly and eccentric Miss H who befriends Zoe and I enjoyed their cross-generational friendship.
With How to Mend a Broken Heart Rachael Johns takes her readers on a heartwarming story from Australia to the streets of New Orleans with its jazz bars, street parades and ghostly happenings. It's a story of letting go of the past and embracing new beginnings.
My rating  4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo credit: Goodreads
  Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a diet Coke addict, a cat lover and chronic arachnophobe. She is also the bestselling, ABIA-winning author of The Patterson Girls and a number of other romance and women's fiction books including The Art of Keeping Secrets.
Rachael rarely sleeps, never irons and loves nothing more than sitting in bed with her laptop and imagining her own stories. She is currently Australia's leading writer of contemporary relationship stories around women's issues, a genre she has coined 'life-lit'.
Rachael lives in the Swan Valley with her hyperactive husband, three mostly gorgeous heroes-in-training, two ravenous cats, a cantankerous bird and a badly behaved dog.
Rachael loves to hear from her readers.
Author website  ||  Facebook   || Instagram 

 Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021
                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21

Book Review: The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

 The Art of Keeping Secrets
Rachael Johns
Little secrets grow up to be big lies…

Imprint: Mira
Publication date: 19th September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 464
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Own purchase
About the book
They’ve been best friends since their sons started high school together, and Felicity, Emma and Neve share everything … or so they thought.

But Flick’s seemingly perfect marriage hides a shocking secret which, with one word, threatens to destroy her and her family’s happiness. Emma is in denial about a potential custody battle, her financial constraints, the exhaustion she can’t seem to shake off and the inappropriate feelings she has for her boss. And single mum Neve is harbouring a secret of her own; a secret that might forever damage her close-knit relationship with her son.

When the tight hold they have each kept on their secrets for years begins to slip, they must face the truth. Even if that truth has the power to hurt the ones they love, and each other.

Perhaps some secrets weren’t made to be kept.
My review
I was sent How to Mend a Broken Heart for review and heard it is a sequel to The Art of Keeping Secrets and was pleased to find that I had this on my shelf waiting to be read. 
Rachael states that How to Mend a Broken Heart can be read as a standalone and I agree but I am so glad I read The Art of Keeping Secrets first as I got to know Felicity (Flick) and feel the relationship she had with her best friends Genevieve (Neve) and Emma.
So onto my review....
Rachael Johns has written a compelling story of friendship, heartache, courage and motherhood.
Three friends, Flick, Neve and Emma are always there for each other but simmering secrets and lies may tear that friendship apart. Through these three women we negotiate marriage breakup, the problems of single parenthood, a mother's penchant for putting their own health second and how we keep secrets to protect those we love.
Through all the trauma and heartache there is a fabulous trip to New York where the three women find that friendship is give and take and everything isn't always as it seems on the surface. 
The Art of Keeping Secrets is a fabulous story about the strength of female friendships as all three women deal with situations that will alter their lives forever. Told through the perspective of each of the women, it's about having the courage to be yourself and how one person's actions has the potential to hurt others.  It is a story of endings and new beginnings but ultimately it's a story about the power and support that females offer each other in the form of unconditional friendship.
My rating  5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021
                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21