Monday, 19 July 2021

Book Review: Darkness & Grace by Kathryn Schleich

Darkness & Grace
Kathryn Schleich 
A domestic thriller inspired by real events


Publisher: Chris Olsen Communications
Publication date: 12th March 2021
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 231
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of Book Publicity Services 
About the book
Even the strongest of families aren’t immune to malice, betrayal, and deceit. Supportive, loving, and affluent, the Pierson family is delighted to celebrate the marriage of sensitive middle son Paul Pierson and his wife, Pamela. Everyone rejoices that Paul has finally recovered from the tragic loss of his beloved first wife and looks forward to Paul and Pamela’s new life together. But just as family members are celebrating his happiness, they start noticing that his beautiful bride may not be what she seems.

As the strain between siblings and spouses worsens, the Piersons discover that neither their money nor their considerable influence can keep the family safe from one woman’s malicious intent. When the true nature of this family member is revealed, each of the Piersons is confronted with the quandary of human conduct and moral responsibility.
My review
Darkness & Grace is a domestic thriller inspired by real events.
Paul has been suffering immensely since his wife's death and when he starts dating Pamela his family were overjoyed to accept her into their fold. However once they were married things started going down hill.
The story follows Pamela's malicious actions and Paul's family's attempts to shelter Paul and the couple's baby daughter.
Paul's sister Kate narrates this tale of deception and as much as I think family should stick together and help each other out I found Paul's whole family were so annoying and way too involved. That aside, I found Kathryn Schleich's writing engaging and the story held my attention and the ending was totally unexpected.

A good story recommended for readers who like a bit of family drama. 

3.5 / 5     ⭐⭐⭐½

About the author

Kathryn Schleich has been a writer for thirty years. Her crime novel, Salvation Station, was published through She Write Press in 2020. Schleich has also published the short story “Reckless Acts,” featured in After Effects: A Zimbell House Anthology, and “Grand Slam,” published in The Acentos Review in May 2017. She is also the author of the academic book Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers, and Other Images, which evolved from her master’s thesis. Her guest posts have been featured on the Women On Writing blog, The Muffin, and she writes for the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation’s volunteer newsletter. When she’s not writing, Schleich is likely volunteering in the education and arts communities in the Twin Cities, where she lives. Friends, family, good food, wine, and traveling are important aspects of her life. 
Challenges entered: Cloak and Dagger Challenge  

Friday, 16 July 2021

Book Review: The Paris Collaborator by A. W. Hammond

The Paris Collaborator
A. W. Hammond

He’ll do anything to save her … even work for the enemy.

Publisher: Echo Publishing
Publication date: 4th May 2021
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 309
Format read: Uncorrected proof copy
Source: courtesy of the publisher

About the book

August, 1944. In German-occupied Paris, former schoolteacher Auguste Duchene has stumbled upon an unusual way to survive: he finds missing people. When he’s approached by the French Resistance to locate a missing priest – and a cache of stolen weapons – Duchene initially refuses. But the Resistance offer him no choice. Within hours, he’s also blackmailed by a powerful Nazi into searching for a German soldier who’s suspected of deserting.

To fail at either task will have deadly consequences for Duchene – and for his daughter Marienne.

So begins a frantic race against time. As forces close in on Paris, Duchene has only 48 hours to locate the missing priest and soldier, or lose the only person he loves…

My review

A war torn Paris during the German occupation was deftly portrayed as Hammond includes the devastation of the area and also the divide the occupation caused between the Parisians themselves. Where every move was watched by all and you had to be careful not to be seen as a resistant or a sympathiser with accusations of collaboration being a precursor to ostracization.

Duchene was a finder of people. He was mainly called upon by parents who had lost a child. His special skill is brought to the attention of the Resistance and the Germans. Both parties give him a deadline to find their person of interest and a deadly price to pay if he doesn't succeed.

What I liked was that Duchene was an ordinary citizen caught up in the war. He wasn't particularly brave, he was ageing and tired, but he was smart. It was fear that motivated him.
Throughout the story we meet a few other citizens of Paris who are doing what they need to do to get by. Hammond explores the grey area of morals during wartime as Duchene and other  French citizens find themselves working with or for the Germans simply to survive. He also includes, through the character of Lucien, an opportunist who sees the war and people's suffering as a way to make money.

There are a couple of mysteries being played out throughout the story which made for some clever plotting and lots of action. I never knew what would happen next and I was eager to see how events would pan out.

The Paris Collaborator is a tension filled story that had me hooked from start to finish.

4 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

A.W. Hammond was born in South Africa and emigrated to Australia as a child. He currently works at RMIT University and lives in Melbourne with his wife and daughters.

Challenges entered: Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Historical Fiction Challenge #HisFicReadingChallenge

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Book Giveaway: Mirror Man by Fiona McIntosh

Thanks to the generosity of The Reading Nook online bookstore I have a great #giveaway today for 1 of 2 paperback copies of:

  Mirror Man 
Fiona McIntosh.


On the streets of England, a hunter is on the loose.

The highly anticipated new crime thriller in the DCI Jack Hawksworth series.

‘There is a connection, Jack. Find it, or you’ll never find him.’Police are baffled by several deaths, each unique and bizarre in their own way – and shockingly brutal. Scotland Yard sends in its crack DCI, the enigmatic Jack Hawksworth, who wastes no time in setting up Operation Mirror. His chief wants him to dismiss any plausibility of a serial killer before the media gets on the trail.

With his best investigative team around him, Jack resorts to some unconventional methods to disprove or find a link to the gruesome deaths. One involves a notorious serial killer from his past, and the other, a smart and seductive young journalist who’ll do anything to catch her big break.

Discovering he’s following the footsteps of a vigilante and in a race against time, Jack will do everything it takes to stop another killing – but at what personal cost for those he holds nearest and dearest?

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Monday, 12 July 2021

Mailbox Monday - 12th July 2021

 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.

Happy Monday!

We are in lockdown here in Sydney, Australia which makes me realise how lucky we have been here in Australia with the whole Covid-19 pandemic. This is only the second hard lockdown we have had in Sydney over the last eighteen months.

I had my grandchildren over the school holidays and even though it is winter in Australia the days have been sunny and I discovered we have lots of fun parks in the local area. With a new one opening just a few minutes walk from my house. And even though we didn't get to go shopping or go to Vinnies (a charity shop), two of Dot's favourite things, we had lots of fun crafting and baking. They have now been packed off home to be homeschooled by their parents.

Feeding the ducks and one swan at the lake

I have a terrible  fear of heights which Jay apparently didn't inherit as he is standing at the top of this structure with me underneath, with hands sweating, calling for him to please sit down 

Books I've received and purchased over the last month



For review

I have new exciting giveaways coming soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Spotlight: Red Earth Diaries by Jason Rebello

Red Earth Diaries: A Migrant Couple's Backpacking Adventure in Australia
Jason Rebello
A one-way ticket to Australia...two months of travel...and a shoestring budget.


Publisher: Evolving Wordsmith
Publication date: 8th July 2021
Genre: Non Fiction / Travel
Pages: 214
Format available: paperback and eBook
Price: $24.19, $5.99AUD
About the book
In Red Earth Diaries we meet Jason and Ambika, a newlywed couple who migrated to Australia with the hope of a fresh start. However, unlike most migrants, they made a bold decision to postpone their settlement plans, throw caution to the wind and backpack in Australia on a shoestring budget.

Their intention was to learn about the country and its people first-hand ... a land they would someday call home.

Swimming with sharks, cuddling cute koalas, chartering private helicopters, venturing deep into ancient rainforests, and getting to know plenty of locals – the couple had incredible experiences in this stunning country.

Their travel story is interwoven with snippets of history and provides the reader with a glimpse of Australia as viewed through the eyes of newly arrived migrants.

Join Jason and Ambika on their spectacular journey of discovery.

'Red Earth Diaries' is founded on four primary pillars: a migrant’s journal, a travelogue, a glimpse into Australian history, and an inspirational tale. The central message of the book is for everyone to chase their dreams - however distant and impossible they may seem.
About the author
Jason Rebello was born in Mumbai, India, and went to sea at the early age of seventeen. He spent many years sailing across the world on modern ocean liners, eventually rising to the rank of a ship’s Captain. His sea career was interspaced with a healthy dose of backpacking and intrepid travels and as a result, he was firmly hooked on a life of adventure and uncommon living. His travel blog was born out of his passion for travel. He has also written several self-help books in the ‘Migrant Ninja’ series.

Jason, with his wife and two children, is now settled in Australia.
Author socials:
Purchase link:


Monday, 28 June 2021

Book Review: Good Indian Daughter by Ruhi Lee

Good Indian Daughter
Ruhi Lee 
How I found freedom in being a disappointment

Publisher: Affirm Press
Publication date: 25th May 2021
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 336
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Better Reading Preview
About the book
Long before Ruhi fell pregnant, she knew she was never going to be the ‘good Indian daughter’ her parents demanded. But when the discovery that she is having a girl sends her into a slump of disappointment, it becomes clear she’s getting weighed down by emotional baggage that needs to be unpacked, quickly.

So Ruhi sets herself a mission to deal with the potholes in her past before her baby is born. Delving into her youth in suburban Melbourne, she draws a heartrending yet often hilarious picture of a family in crisis, struggling to connect across generational, cultural and personal divides.

Sifting through her own shattered self-esteem, Ruhi confronts the abuse threaded through her childhood. How can she hold on to the family and culture she has known and loved her whole life, when they are the reason for her scars?
My review

Ruhi Lee writes with candour and humour. Her memoir, written as she awaits the birth of her first child, is a journey into a life lived with an underlying guilt for not being the daughter her parents had envisaged.

Good Indian Daughter is an engaging read. with Ruhi Lee’s relaxed style of writing I found myself fully immersed in her story. Many areas of Ruhi’s story will resonate with readers, even those not of Indian descent.

Ruhi Lee is a strong voice for girls and women everywhere who are being subjugated and unheard. She speaks openly on bullying, body image problems, religion, misguided advice, depression, anxiety, racism and abuse.

Reading Ruhi’s story made me sad, angry and overwhelmed but Ruhi’s humour throughout also gave me a few laughs which lightened, although didn’t lessen, the overall feel of the book.

Good Indian Daughter is a brave and open story of shedding the guilt and living your own life. 

 4 / 5 stars    ⭐⭐⭐⭐


About the author 
Ruhi Lee's articles, poetry and book reviews have been featured in The Guardian, ABC Life, SBS Voices, South Asian Today and The Big Issue among other publications. In 2019, she was a recipient of the Neilma Sidney Literary Travel Fund and her manuscript was shortlisted for the Penguin Random House Write It Fellowship. In 2020, she was one of the commissioned writers for the Multicultural Arts Victoria's Shelter program. Good Indian Daughter is her first memoir. She lives in Victoria. 

Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21
                                 Non Fiction Challenge #2021ReadNonFic 



Friday, 25 June 2021

Book Review: Take Me Home by Karly Lane

Take Me Home
Karly Lane
Sometimes you need to get a little lost to find your way home.

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 4th May 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 344
RRP: $29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace Book Club
About the book
In the space of a few days, Elle loses her job and her home and faces moving back in with her parents-where she knows she'll hear a lot about how she is wasting her life, unlike her three siblings . . .

Then Gran's will is read and everything changes.

It seems simple: a road trip across Scotland, a country Gran loved, to locate the family castle; meet some long lost cousins; oh, and work out what she wants to do with the rest of her life before returning home. Not a problem.

That is unless the family castle is a ruin that has pretty much been lost in time; the family Elle has never met seem to be hiding a mysterious secret; her over-achieving parents are breathing down her neck, and she's running out of time to make a decision about her future.

Take Me Home is a glorious lesson in life, love and finding your true destiny.
My review

Karly Lane has long been one of my favourite authors with her romance novels set in rural Australia.

With Take Me Home, inspired by her own ancestry, Karly Lane has written her first contemporary novel which moves from Australia to the Scottish Highlands.

Elle’s much loved grandmother dies with the bucket-list they had compiled together, unfulfilled. Homebody Elle was comfortable in the small rural town she had grown up in and her job in the local supermarket, even if her lack of ambition was a bone of contention with her mother. However after the reading of her grandmother’s will that requests Elle take the trip to Scotland and visit the castle that Iona had loved as a child and scatter her ashes there Elle gets to live the dream her and her gran had never quite got around to doing.

Take Me Home was such a fun read. Elle was very easy to connect with and I adored Elle and her gran’s relationship. Even though we read about it after Iona’s death we can clearly see how close they were. I just loved Iona’s determination and spark, she had a great sense of humour.

I enjoyed the armchair travel through Scotland to all the tourist spot and the little snippets of history about the places. I also loved the Outlander tie in.

Karly Lane has added a cheeky paranormal element in the story and a tiny touch of magical realism or maybe that was just Elle’s imagination. You decide.

Take Me Home is a story of self discovery as Elle meets her Scottish family, including her arty cousin, she feels right at home. She can now see where not only her looks come from but also her artistic talent.

A Scottish castle, a legend, a prophecy, family secrets and a fledgling romance made Take Me Home a story I did not want to end.

Karly Lane has proven herself time and time again in the rural romance genre and now she has smashed the contemporary fiction genre with Take Me Home.  

5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Karly Lane lives on the mid north coast of New South Wales. Proud mum to four children and wife of one very patient mechanic, she is lucky enough to spend her day doing the two things she loves most - being a mum and writing stories set in beautiful rural Australia. Take Me Home is her first book set beyond the rural Australian landscape.

This review first appeared on Beauty & Lace HERE

Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21


Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Book Review: Dinosaur Snap and Dinosaur Flap by Jeanne Willis & Peter Curtis

 Dinosaur Snap!
The Spinosaurus
Jeanne Willis & Peter Curtis

Dinosaur Flap
The Oviraptor
by Jeanne Willis & Peter Curtis


Imprint: Macmillan Children's Books 
Series: The World of Dinosaur Roar
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Publications date: 11th May 2021
Pages: 24
RRP: $14.99AUD
Format read: Board Book
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the books
Meet Dinosaur Snap, a mean Spinosaurus, and Dinosaur Snap, a nervous Oviraptor, in these brilliant rhyming stories, part of the collectable The World of Dinosaur Roar! series, in association with the Natural History Museum.

My review

Dinosaur Flap and Dinosaur Snap are part of a collection of board books inspired by the classic picture book, Dinosaur Roar.

Each book features one dinosaur highlighting their unique features and personality.

Dinosaur Flap is in a flap. She can’t relax, worried about her eggs being trampled. She scares away Stomp and Bash when they venture near but Honk with her loud honking would make a good guard so Flap asked her to stay and sound an alarm when someone comes near. Now Flap can get some much needed sleep.

Dinosaur Snap is fierce with a big snapping jaw. Whack has his spiky tail to protect him and Whizz is so fast Snap can’t catch him. Snap thinks little Squeak would make a tasty treat but Roar is always there to protect his little friend.

Other dinosaurs in the series pop in and out of each story, sometimes helping and sometimes causing havoc.

Jay loves these books and we have read them over and over. When the next two in the series arrived he let out a squeal of delight. We have since purchased a couple more in the series and have our eye on the next ones we want to buy. Yes, WE! I enjoy these stories too. So much fun!

I like how each dinosaur has a name that relates to their personality. They are like a little community. Jay can name them all and points them out as they appear in each other’s books.

We have always been big fans of Dinosaur Roar and Ten Terrible Dinosaurs and this new collection adds to the delight by naming the dinosaurs and giving them personalities.

The front of each book has the correct pronunciation of the dinosaurs scientific name. Which is very helpful as some are quite a mouthful. The rear of the book points out specific features of that dinosaur.

With bright illustrations and rhyming text these board books are sure to appeal to little dinosaur enthusiasts and their parents.


5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the authors
Peter Curtis is a welsh-born author, creator and producer of children's characters, books and television series, with over twenty five years experience in children's media.
Jeanne Willis is an internationally renowned, full time writer and has published over a hundred books - ranging from picture books including The Bog Baby and Who's in the Loo?, to YA, poetry and fiction. 

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Book Review: Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart

Digging Up Dirt
Pamela Heart
Renovations are hell. And that's before you find the body beneath the floorboards.
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 2nd June 2021
Series: Poppy McGowan Mysteries #1
Genre: Cozy Crime
Pages: 352
Format read: Uncorrected Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn't).

Unfortunately, 'help' comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy's old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she's ever met - and also Julieanne's boyfriend.

When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy's house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects - and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?

Can Poppy save herself, and Tol ... and finally get her house back?
My review
I have come to know Pamela Hart through reading her Historical Fiction novels. However, she also writes Fantasy and children's novels under the name Pamela Freeman. Digging Up Dirt is her first foray into the cozy mystery genre.
Poppy McGowan works for the ABC children's network. She is currently renovating an old inner city house and when bones are found under her floorboards she sees it as a good opportunity to call in a couple of archeologists she knows and film the dig for a children's documentary. All is going well until one morning a body is found in the house and suddenly she is the number one suspect.
This story was such a lot of fun. Poppy is a character I easily warmed to. She was fun, upbeat and didn't take herself too seriously. The addition of nemesis Julieanne leant for some dark comedy. She was one determined, ambitious woman!
Not at all happy about being a suspect Poppy decides to do some digging of her own.
Digging Up Dirt is a story that has many twists and turns and my thoughts on who the murderer was kept changing as i read on.
With the involvement of an evangelistic church , politicians, the local council, heritage orders, archaeologists and news reporters after an exclusive, it all makes for an interesting and fast paced read.
Pamela Hart has proven herself to be a writer of remarkable versatility. I am eagerly looking forward to the next Poppy McGowan mystery now that she has proven to be an amazing investigative reporter.
4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Pamela Hart is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty-five books. She writes the Poppy McGowan mystery series and also historical novels, The Charleston Scandal is her most recent historical story, set in 1920's London.
As Pamela Freeman she is well-known as beloved children's author and fantasy writer. Her most recent children's book is a non-fiction picture book. Dry to Dry: The Seasons of Kakadu. Her adult fantasy series, The Castings Trilogy, ended with the award-winning Ember and Ash.
To be kept up to date about the next Poppy McGowan story, you can subscribe to her newsletter at . You even get a free story!


Challenges entered:  Australian Women Writers Challenge #AWW2021

                                 Aussie Author Challenge #AussieAuthor21

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Book Review: Saying Yes by Ella Sparkle

 Saying Yes
Ella Sparkle

Publication date: 6th May 2021
Series: Stormy Love #1
Genre: Young Adult / Romance
Pages: 321
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Jenna had her life planned out.

She was going to get married to her college boyfriend, land a job at a prestigious law firm and, after attending law school, would work her way up to partner. She’d have it all; the man, the job, the white picket fence.

After things just not working out as planned, Jenna must say goodbye to her old plans and her dreams of a picture perfect future with that guy and that job, living that life.

Instead, she decides to rethink her strategy, instead of planning everything to perfection, Jenna takes a risk and starts ‘Saying Yes’ to new opportunities.

Saying Yes to a new job.

Saying Yes to flirting with the hunky Nick.

Saying Yes to a summer fling before starting law school.

Jenna and Nick might just have something magical, they’re crazy about each other from the moment they meet - are they crazy enough to make it work?

My review

Saying Yes is a sweet Young Adult romance read. If you are after hot and raunchy this is not the book for you.
Jenna is suffering the effects of being dumped by her previous boyfriend when she is fired from her job. Feeling totally down she calls on best friend Cassie to cheer her up. Cassie hatches a plan that Jenna must say Yes to every new opportunity that comes her way.

Jenna was easy to warm to and I loved her zany friend Cassie. Cassie said what she thought in an honest forthright way. Her character brought a real vibrancy to the story.

Nick is dedicated to his company. He lives and breaths work with no time for a relationship. Nick also has an outgoing, outspoken friend in Baxter. I enjoyed Nick and Baxter's banter and their friendly ribbing. It came across as realistic and natural.

This was a fun read with introvert Jenna having to say yes to lots of things that were outside her comfort zone, like a job as a pizza delivery girl and a ride on a motorbike. Nick and Jenna's relationship is fraught with problems which had me eager to see how they would work it all out.

Saying Yes is a heartwarming, fun and sweet romance story with themes of communication, opening up, being yourself and finding the one.

4.5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

About the author

A life-long love of reading coupled with pandemic lockdown is what initially prompted Ella to finally take all the stories floating around in her head and put them together on paper.

Ella writes the kinds of romance stories she likes to read with sexy, funny, nice guys and strong, smart, sassy women... tossing in a healthy dose of awkwardness, a whole lot of drama, a sprinkle of comedy, a ride on the emotional roller coaster and a little bit of sparkle for everyone.

Ella is living out her own happily ever after with her Prince Charming. After seventeen years together he still gives her butterflies and makes her heart race. They live together with their children, small dogs, and a big black cat who has deemed herself queen of the castle.


Monday, 14 June 2021

Mailbox Monday - June 14th

 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.

Happy Monday!
It's the Queen's Birthday long weekend here in New South Wales and we have been experiencing some beautiful weather; chilly in the morning but lovely sunny days.
The Book Fairies have been celebrating Pride month by leaving selected book around the world for people to find and read. In Australia thanks to Allen & Unwin we have been leaving copies of Out! How to be your authentic self by Miles McKenna and Leave Me Alone: A Memoir of me, myself and Trish by Christian Hull. If you check out The Book Fairies on Instagram they have lots of photos posted. Below are photos of where I left the books.

During the last month my youngest child had her Uni graduation ceremony and although she has been teaching all year it was nice to have the ceremony and the acknowledgement of all their hard work.

My older daughter is getting married at the end of the year so we have been busy attending wedding expos and wedding dress shops. 

Feedburner ( the system that delivers my updates by email) is closing in July so it was necessary to change to another system which I have completed last week.
As expected I have lost a lot of subscribers in the changeover so if you are reading this post and it didn't come through your email I would love you to subscribe through the form at the top right of my web page.

Book I've received and purchased over the last month

Received from Claire at Claire's Reads and Reviews. Check out her blog HERE
Picked up from the Op shop:
Sent by publishers for review:
I would love to hear what books you've received in the mail recently!