Wednesday 28 July 2021

Book Review: Big Book of Baby Knits by Marie Claire Editions

 Big Book of Baby Knits
Marie Claire Editions
80+ Garment & Accessory Patterns

Publisher: Fox Chapel Publishing

Publication date: 24th August 2021-US

                      4th November 2021-AUS

Genre: Non Fiction / Craft

RRP: $22.99US

Preorder on AmazonAU: $26.19AUD

Pages: 192

Format read: eBook

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley


My review
I can't go past a knitting book and The Big Book of Baby Knits has a gorgeous cover which would immediately entice me to pick it up and have a browse.
In the front of the book is a section on getting started with basic stitch terms and abbreviations.
Each finished item is beautifully photographed. 
The book includes a vast array of baby items including: 
Hooded jackets
sleeping bags
Patterns have instruction for age ranges: newborn to 6months or 3months to 12 months.
There are only two patterns that go beyond the 12 month age. 
The majority of patterns are simple stocking stitch pattern with a couple of cable stitch patterns and one Intarsia pattern. 
I loved that this book features a modern take on classic baby knitting patterns with the colours of grey and navy used. I also liked the hoodie patterns and the long knitted baby pants. I would probably buy this book just for these patterns.
There are 7 patterns for toys that each match one of the clothing patterns. They are a cute addition although I don't have any interest in knitting toys. 
As babies have moved from booties and bonnets to shoes and beanies The Big Book of Baby Knits features lots of up to the minute patterns for the modern baby.
As I looked through the patterns for something to knit I found that the instructions are not fully explained leaving a lot up to the assumption that the knitter knows what to do.
I'm a lazy knitter and I just want to follow a pattern stitch for stitch and not have to work out each step.
The stitch pattern is definitely for beginners but you may want to have an experienced knitter on hand to go through some of the instructions. One pattern I simply gave up on because I had no idea what the instructions meant.

 The jacket I knitted
3 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐

Monday 26 July 2021

Winners of a copy of Mirror Man by Fiona McIntosh announced!!


Once again I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Mirror Man. The giveaway closed on the 25th July and the two winners were randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Liz Dorrington & Sharon Hill

 The winners have been notified and have seven days to provide a mailing address.

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

 I would like to thank The Reading Nook for sponsoring this giveaway. The Reading Nook is an independent Australian online bookstore.

Stay tuned as I have a giveaway coming soon for copies of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Mailbox Monday - July 26th

 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 still in lock down in NSW, Australia. I think it's been five weeks (I've lost track of all time). We are allowed to walk for exercise within 5 km of our home so the two book fairy drops that had been schedule in July still took place, leaving books around the parks and walking tracks. However the August drop has been postponed.
I haven't been doing a lot of reading but have resumed my knitting. I am making an afghan throw for Jay with 24 squares completed and 11 to go. Each square has a picture knitted into it.

 I also finished a little baby jacket that I was knitting from a review knitting book due to be released in August.

Books I've received and purchased over the last two weeks.

Christians by Greg Sheridan
The Eighth Wonder by Tania Farrelly 
Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer (release date 29 Sept) 
The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans (release date 1 Sept) 
The Riviera House by Natasha Lester (release date 1 Sept) 
Do any of the above peak your interest? What have you received in your mail box recently?

Saturday 24 July 2021

Book Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

 The Hope Flower
Joy Dettman
From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.


Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Publication date: 30th March 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 432

RRP: $32.99AUD

Format read: Paperback

Source: Courtesy of the publisher



 About the book

Lori Smyth-Owen isn't your average teenager - as you'd expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother's food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?
My review
The Hope Flower is a heart-wrenching story with a dysfunctional family at its centre.  Told from the perspective of fifteen year old Lori who is the glue that holds the family together. The only girl in the 12 siblings she is mature beyond her years and organises the family timetable and finances. The older boys protect their sister whilst the younger boys look to her as a mother figure. Their mentally unstable mother is the only thing that keeps them from being taken by the authorities.
The story is poignant and unsettling however there are moments of humour, all be it a bit dark they still  gave me a laugh.
Unlike Bridge of Clay, a story of five male siblings left to raise themselves, the Smyth-Owen siblings rarely fought and I think only once did a disagreement turn to fisticuffs. I found this a bit unrealistic.
Mavis Smyth-Owen is well portrayed as the slovenly, mentally unstable adult who throws violent temper tantrums if she doesn't get her own way.
The citizens of the small town of Willama band together in an inconspicuous way by doing small acts of kindness; giving the older boys jobs and providing a safe house for the younger boys when needed. They are there but not interfering. 
Through a couple of chapters from Mavis' viewpoint the reader learns that the dysfunctionality goes beyond this family to Mavis' own upbringing and brings a new perspective on why she is the way she is. 
There is an underlying theme of hope. A wavering hope that their situation will change and their mother will return to the person only the older children can remember.
The Hope Flower is a difficult read although the power of courage and the driving force of hope that emanated from the pages had me completely engrossed. 
5 / 5   🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
About the author
Joy Dettman was born in Echuca, Victoria. She spent her early years in small towns on either side of the Murray River. In the late sixties, she and her husband moved to the outer suburbs of Melbourne, where they have chosen to remain. Joy is an award-winning writer of short stories set in country Australia, which were published in Australia and New Zealand between 1993 and 1997. The complete collection Diamond in the Mud, was published in 2007. Joy went on to write the highly acclaimed novels Mallawindy, Jacarranda Blue, Goose Girl, Yesterday's Dust, The Seventh Day, Henry's Daughter, One Sunday, The Silent Inheritance and the Woody Creek novels. 
Challenges entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge
                                 Aussie Author Challenge 

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?

Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at midnight on 25th July 2021.
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced HERE

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


Dinosaur Roar by Peter Curtis

Dinosaur Munch by Peter Curtis


Dream Horse by Janet Vokes

For review

What Would LaVonda Robinette Do? by Kirsten Maron

The Last of the Apple Blossom by Mary-Lou Stephens

Loving Lizzie March by Susannah Hardy

The Wattle Seed Inn by Leonie Kelsall

The Curlew's Eye by Karen Manton

The Little French Bridal Shop by Jennifer Dupee

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:
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