Thursday 30 September 2021

Spotlight: The Order of Time by Scott Southall


To celebrate his Readers Favorite Gold Medal win in the Children's Mythology/ Fairy Tale category Scott Southall has The Order of Time discounted on Amazon Kindle until October 3rd 2021.

 About the book
Anastasia and Edward Upton are eleven years old twins who are different in almost every way. Despite this they are inseparable and the best of friends. They tackle the highs and lows of sixth grade together whether they are fending off bullies at the elite Blake Academy or examining rare antiquities as the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Then: life gets complicated.

They discover that their friend and mentor, Dr. Gregorian, is part of a secret society called the Order of Time. It turns out that time is not fixed, it's a fluid continuum where changes to the past can create ripples all the way through to the present. It unwittingly falls to the twins to travel back through time to ancient Egypt where they must overcome deadly assassins, evil high priests and vengeful gods in order to prevent disaster. Together Anastasia and Edward must navigate all obstacles to preserve the past and find their way back home.
Publisher's age recommendation - 8 - 12 years
You can read my 5 ⭐ review HERE 

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Winners in my latest book giveaways announced!

Afloat in Venice

I would like to thank everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Afloat in Venice. The giveaway closed on the 25th September and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Janet R

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

I would like to thank the author for providing me with a giveaway copy.

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer

Once again thank you everyone who entered my giveaway for copies of The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer. The giveaway closed on the 27th September and the winners were randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Theresa Canu & Marggymc

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

I would like to thank The Reading Nook for sponsoring these giveaways.

The Reading Nook is an Australian independent online bookstore


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


I will be announcing the winner of a signed copy of The Banksia House Breakout soon. 

Monday 27 September 2021

Monday Mailbox: September 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.

Happy Monday!
Last month when I posted a Mailbox Monday we were looking forward to New South Wales lockdown ending at the end of September but it's now been extended to end of October. We are "allowed" to walk and go on picnics of 5 vaccinated people. Below are some happy snaps of my daily walks and a small picnic for my daughter's birthday.

People are leaving painted rocks around for the children to find on their walks. I took a photo of this one and left it for someone else to find.

Spoonville is another cute initiative for the children. Dress up a wooden spoon and leave it in this little spoon village.

I have joined the Prevention Australia walk for cancer trials. It is a 10km walk on the 24th October. Walking is all we can do so It's not too hard to get to 10km at the moment.

Books I've received and purchased over the last month.



You can read my review HERE
You can read my review HERE
eBooks I've received:  


Do any of the above peak your interest? What have you received in your mail box recently? 


Monday 20 September 2021

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Sound of Violet by Allen Wolf

 The Sound of Violet
Allen Wolf
Now a major motion picture
Publisher: Morning Star Publishing

Publication date: 21st September 2021
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Pages: 226
RRP: $10.80AU (Kindle edition)
          $ 7.96US (Kindle edition)
format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
 Desperate to find his soulmate, Shawn goes on one awkward date after another until he encounters the alluring Violet. He starts dating her, but his autism keeps him from realizing that she’s actually a prostitute.

Shawn thinks he’s found a possible wife while Violet thinks she’s discovered her ticket to a brand new life. This hilarious and dramatic award-winning story takes all kinds of twists and turns and has been adapted into a major motion picture.
My review
The Sound of Violet reminded me a lot of Muriel's Wedding, an Australian movie about a girl obsessed with the idea of getting married.
Shawn has wedding photos in his room, on his phone and around his desk at work. He is desperate to find 'the one'. His openness and lack of tact due to his neurodiversity   has all his dates running for the hils after an hour. Until he meets Violet, a sex worker. She knows Shawn doesn't understand what she does for a living but she is drawn to him as he is the only person who has ever been kind to her.

The Sound of Violet is a heart-breaking story of family breakdown but at the same time it also highlights the love of family through Shawn's garndmaother who would do anything to protect him and his brother Colin who teaches Shawn how to act in front of people.
When Shawn was around people he had to continually think about his words and his mannerisms. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for him in social situations.

Both Shawn and Violet had the common connection of people judging them before they got to know them.
Wolf highlights the real problem of human trafficking and how young girls are trpped into the sex-trade with no means of escape.

The writing is simplistic and the authors history with sceenplays is evident as the scenes and actions are highly visual. I could picture this on the screen as I was reading. It had a cinematic feel to it.

I was expecting The Sound of Violet to be a story about an autistic man looking for love but it was much more than that. It was a story about kindness, acceptance and healing. I can't wait to see it on the screen!

My rating  3.5 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐½

About the author

llen Wolf is an award-winning novelist, filmmaker, and game creator. He is also the host of the popular Navigating Hollywood podcast.

His debut novel “The Sound of Violet” has won multiple accolades and is described as “Entertaining, well-paced, and highly visual” by Kirkus Reviews. It is now a major motion picture. (

He has won 39 awards for his games that are available as books, including You’re Pulling My Leg! and You’re Pulling My Leg! Junior. They’ve brought smiles to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

As a filmmaker, Allen wrote, directed, and produced “In My Sleep,” which was released worldwide, won multiple film festivals, and is available on iTunes and Amazon Prime. Hollywood Reporter raved, “In My Sleep never rests, a credit to the tight, psychologically astute pacing of filmmaker Wolf.”

Allen graduated from New York University’s film school. He married his Persian princess, and they are raising two kids together. He enjoys traveling around the world and hearing other people’s life stories. Allen also cherishes spending time with his family, eating chocolate, and visiting Disneyland.


Friday 17 September 2021

Book Review & Giveaway: The Banksia House Breakout by James Roxburgh

The Banksia House Breakout
James Roxburgh
Some adventures are worth waiting for
Publisher: Ventura Press
Publication date: 15th September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 315
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPRMedia
About the book
When Ruth Morris is moved into Banksia House by her workaholic son Michael, she is eighty-one years young, mourning her loss of independence, and missing her best friend Gladys terribly.

So when she learns Gladys is dying a state over in Brisbane, Ruth is determined to say goodbye. Enlisting the help of her fellow residents, Ruth makes a daring departure from Banksia House alongside renowned escape-artist Keith, and her formidable new friend Beryl.

The journey from Sydney is far from straightforward, featuring grimy hotels, hitchhiking, and a mild case of grand theft. This unlikely trio finds themselves on the trip of a lifetime, where new connections blossom amidst the chaos. But the clock is ticking and Gladys awaits – will they make it across the border in time?
My review
The Banksia House Breakout is a refreshing debut about ageing, friendship and independence.  
Ruth's son Michael has taken over her life assuming she is unable to care for herself after a fall. He sells the family home and drops Ruth at Banksia House, the nursing home he has chosen for her. Michael is much too busy to be worrying about his mother and at 81 she couldn't possibly be lucid enough to care for herself.
The story starts out quite ominous with Ruth's ill treatment by her son and a villainous careworker who makes life miserable for all the residents However once we get to meet some of the other residents, escape artist Keith and tech savvy Joan, the feeling of the story lightens.
Ruth is rather timid and she lets her son dominate her but she is making new friends in Banksia House and these  women may be elderly but they haven't lost their sense of adventure.
When Michael tells Ruth he is much too busy to take her to Brisbane to visit her dying firend Gladys the women hatch a plan to steal a car and get Ruth there to see Gladys one last time. They would only be gone a few days, no one would notice.
So begins an hilarious road trip which involves plenty of hiccups and detours, an encounter with a bikie gang, backpackers, working odd jobs at a hostel and managing to evade police at the last minute.
James Roxburgh smashes stereotypes in this debut novel as Ruth, Beryl and Keith prove during their trip that they are anything but senile. They manage to work their way through many sticky situations whilst also handing out sage advise learnt through years of experience. 
I loved the mentions of all the stops along the coast on the way from Sydney to Brisbane. Many of the places they visited brought back memories of family holidays.
I also enjoyed Ruth's transformation. The more she did the more confident she became in her own abilities. 
The Banksia House Breakout is a fun, heart-warming read. I found myself cheering for Ruth along the way and I couldn't read fast enough to find out if Ruth would make it to see Gladys on time.
If you enjoyed Joanna Nell's Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village you will love The Banksia House Breakout!
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

About the author
James Roxburgh is an audiologist who specialises in the care of the elderly with hearing loss. He combines his passion for writing and the experiences he has shared with his patients to create heart-warming and captivating characters who defy the norms of ageing. James has worked as a ski instructor, owned a number of small businesses and lives in Sydney with his wife and two daughters. The Banksia House Breakout is his first novel.
James has kindly offered a giveaway of one signed paperback copy of The Banksia House Breakout.
Enter via the form below. Entries close at midnight on  28th September 2021.  
This giveaway has now closed and the winner was announced here. 

Thursday 16 September 2021

Book Review & Giveaway: The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Ilsa Evans

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer 
Ilsa Evans
Two grandmothers. They both love Avery. Shame they can't stand each other.
Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises Australia

Imprint: HQ Fiction AU
Publication date: 1st September 2021
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 480
RRP: $ 29.99AUD
Format read: Paperback (Uncorrected proof)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Beth's daughter Cleo and Shirley's son Daniel used to be married. Now Cleo is in gaol for supposedly contravening a family violence order, and Daniel has full-time care of their four-year-old daughter, Avery.

When Shirley suspects that Daniel is harming Avery, she enlists Beth to abduct their own granddaughter, even though the two women can't stand each other. They are joined on the run across country Victoria by Winnie, Shirley's own 89-year-old tech-savvy mother, and Harthacnut, Beth's miniature schnauzer.

The abduction gives rise to crises both personal and social, as Shirley's large and interfering family - including her toxic son - struggle to come to terms with her actions, amid a whirl of police investigation and media excitement. This heartfelt, wise, witty and wholly original novel explores of the lengths we may go to for those we love, and the unintended damage folded into daily life.
My review
In The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer Ilsa Evans explores the conundrum faced by grandparents to intervene or not when they fear their grandchild may be being neglected or abused.
Shirley Conifer has been noticing bruises on four year old Avery. She confronts her son, Daniel, and he retaliates by not allowing her to see Avery. When the next time Avery is dropped off she sees more bruising she can't not interfere, deciding she must hide Avery until she can talk Daniel into getting help. With her eighty-nine year old mother and four year old Avery she goes to see Beth, Avery's other grandmother, and they hatch a plan to keep Avery safe.
Child abuse is a difficult subject however it is handled sensitively and offset with humour as the two grandmother and great-grandmother try to get along for Avery's sake.

This is a story about family; mother's and their children. Daniel is a narcissist, charismatic and a good manipulator and the idea of nature or nurture is explored as Shirley feels all the guilt over his behaviour. Beth's daughter Cleo is serving a four month prison term for breaching an IVO,  Beth wonders where she went wrong.
As the women hide out they slowly start to understand each other. Beth is self-righteous and hilariously judgemental whilst Shirley is meek, always apologising. I felt 89 year old Winnie was the star of the story. Sharp as a tack and totally tech savvy. Winnie was happy to be ignored. She could do all sorts of things, being ignored was her super power. Winnie's antics had me laughing again and again. Whereas this feeling of invisibility was upsetting to Shirley.
"In some ways it was to her benefit if people underestimated her. Or even thought that she was senile" - Winnie

Ilsa Evans smashes the ageist stereotypes in this book.

Told from multiple points of view, thirteen in all. However each character is gradually introduced so it doesn't overwhelm. I did notice though that they were all women. The males in the book were generally backseat observers.

I really enjoyed this family drama filled with laugh out loud moments and characters I could truly connect with. Ilsa draws on her experiences on the board of a women and children's refuge to create real characters in compelling situations.

I also enjoyed the exploration of the relationship between the two grandmothers and the different mother / daughter relationships taking place throughout the novel. Even the subtle look at DS Elsa Kaltenbrunner's relationship with her mother.

My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Photo:Studio3 Photography

Ilsa Evans has published fourteen books across a range of genres, from light fiction and short stories to memoir, murder mystery and YA fantasy. Two of her books have been shortlisted for the prestigious Davitt (Sisters in Crime) Awards, while her novel about domestic violence, Broken, was an Australian best-seller and selected as Women's Weekly Book of the Month. Ilsa also teaches creative writing students, writes social commentary, and has been published in several newspapers and online journals. In 2011, she received the Eliminating Violence Against Women (EVA) Award for online journalism. 
 Thanks to The Reading Nook online bookstore you can win 1 of 2 paperback copies of The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer 

Enter via the form below (open to Australian addresses only) Entries close at midnight on  27th September 2021.
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced here.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Storybook Corner Book Review & Giveaway: Afloat in Venice by Tina Wilson

Afloat in Venice
Monkey's Great Adventures
by Tina Wilson
Music by Matt Ottley Knitting by Joan Wilson
Publisher: One Tentacle Publishing
Publication date: 1st September 2021
Series: Monkey's Great Adventures #1
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Pages: 40
RRP: $27.95AUD
Format read: Hardcover + CD
Source: Courtesy of the author
About the book
In Monkey’s first adventure, Afloat in Venice, Monkey wakes to find he has been given a brand new camera. He can’t wait to use it during his holiday in Venice ... but after he is separated from his camera and he becomes lost, he discovers something more precious than sightseeing. This book includes original music composed by the highly acclaimed, Matt Ottley and an additional version specifically narrated for the visually impaired.
About the series

Imaginative, nostalgic and quirky, the Monkey’s Great Adventures series, with bespoke hand-knitted toys, is beautifully photographed in locations around the world and captures the innocence of childhood. Monkey, an endearing soft toy, finds himself in all sorts of scrapes where he learns about himself and the world around him. In this first book, Afloat in Venice, Monkey is entranced by a “magical floating city that seems to grow straight out of the sea.” The book includes original music composed by highly acclaimed artist, Matt Ottley, with text narrated by the author. There is an additional version of the music specifically narrated for the visually impaired.
My review
Monkey is off on a holiday and he is given a camera as a special gift. There are relatable photos of monkey  packing and the items you would take on a trip which opens discussion on holidays and travel. Wilson includes humorous shots that will appeal to children with monkey sitting in a drawer. A photo of monkey with his shorts on his head elicited a few laughs.
He goes on a long plane ride and meets a cat named Clarabella who offers to show him around. A very adventurous day ensues with lots of sightseeing, climbing and a trip on a gondola. Monkey loses his camera and then can't find Clarabella. He wanders around asking all the animals if they have seen her. Sad and lonely he starts to cry. Then Clarabella turns up; She had found his camera. Monkey was so happy to have found a new friend.
 Afloat in Venice is a picture book illustrated with photos which gives children the opportunity to perceive a story through realistic images. Tina Wilson uses clever staging and beautiful photography in this sweet story teaching children about the world around them, travel and friendship. The photographs and simple text show the excitement and adventure of travel abroad.
The pictures have a certain charm about them with the warmth of hand-knitted toys and props showing everyday items that children will relate to.
The photographs of the Venice scenery are stunning and make a good talking point for older children about the different way people live and travel around the world.

The accompanying CD has a narration of the story with narrative music which enhances the story telling with changes in tempo and pitch. I really enjoyed this added element to the book.
We are looking forward to more of Monkey's adventures.
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
Dot's Review
I liked that it was knitted characters and you could spot Monkey's friends in the background. I want to learn how to knit the patterns in the back of the book.
I thought it was fun, cool and cute.
Dot's rating


About the author

Tina Wilson is a freelance artist moving between painting, drawing, curating, writing and illustrating books. Tina founded the Lester Prize (prev. Black Swan Prize for Portraiture) and
was its executive director for ten years.

About the composer

Matt Ottley is an internationally acclaimed award winning author, illustrator and composer. He is an Endorsed Yamaha Musician, plays flamenco guitar and piano and composes music for picture books.

Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021
                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21 
The author has kindly sent me an extra copy of the book to Giveaway.
Giveaway closes at Midnight on 25th September 2021 (Australia only)
This giveaway has now closed and the winner was announced here.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Book Review: Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

 Apples Never Fall
Liane Moriarty

The no. 1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies & Nine Perfect Strangers

Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Publication date: 14th September 2021 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 496
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now they've sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to 'relax'. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.

But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents' marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?
My review
After I thought Nine Perfect Strangers was a tad over-dramatic and unbelievable I was interested to see what road Moriarty would take next. I'm happy to say Apples Never Fall is fabulous! A superbly written family drama that has all the elements of a true page turner. 
The prologue pulls the reader straight into a mystery.
The story is told in present day where Joy Delaney is missing and then back over the previous five months that led up to Joy's disappearance.
In the present day: the four grown Delaney children are trying to sort out their own feelings and the rising fear that maybe their father has harmed their mother. As police interview each family member it's  clear everyone is holding something back and the circumstantial evidence against their father builds.
Previously: recently retired Joy and Stan Delaney find that time on their hands leads to resentments, unspoken grievances and regrets.
When a young woman arrives on their doorstep clearly distressed Joy invites her to stay. Suddenly Joy has meaning to life as she cares for Savannah.
Savannah also gives Joy the attention that has been lacking from her children. But cracks start to form and everyone starts to wonder what Savannah's true agenda is. 
Moriarty engineers a complex breaking down of each characters thoughts and dreams and we see everyone is holding something back. The mysteries are layered and compelling.
Apples Never Fall is a keenly observed family drama with finely nuanced characters. Underlying themes of domestic violence, anger and child abuse give a chilling look at parents in competitive sports.  
In Apples Never Fall Moriarty depicts marriage and family in all its love, rage, passion, grievances, regrets, dreams, resentments and splendid dysfunctionality.  Above all this is a story of the complexity of family and all things that are left unsaid.
My rating 5 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

 About the author

Photo credit: Goodreads

Liane Moriarty is the Australian author of eight internationally bestselling novels, Three Wishes, The Last Anniversary, What Alice Forgot, The Hypnotist's Love Story and the number one New York Times bestsellers The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies and Truly Madly Guilty and most recently Nine Perfect Strangers. Her books have sold over twenty million copies worldwide, including three million in Australia and New Zealand.

Liane lives in Sydney with her husband, son and daughter.

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

Monday 13 September 2021

Book Review: The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

 The Bone Code
Kathy Reichs
A Temperance Brennan Novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
Publication date: 21st April 2021
Series: Temperance Brennan #20
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 368
RRP: $ 32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

 At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.
With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases - and how both the nurders and the disease outbreak have a common cause.
My review
The Bone Code is book #20 in Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan series. Even though the book follows one case that Tempe is working on, and the book in theory works as a stand alone, I still felt like I was late to the party. Not knowing any of Temperance's backstory made it hard to connect with her as a person.
Temperance is called to do a forensic analysis of bones of two people found washed ashore in a hazardous waste container. The more she worked on the bones the more a similar case fifteen years ago came to mind. Tempe is convinced they are linked and what ensues is a details and lengthy investigation.
I liked Tempe's empathy for the victims, this was more than just a job to her. The story is set post Covid and people are in a panic over a new disease that is coming from family pets.
Reichs gives her readers a complex plot with detailed forensics and a large cast of characters. Small pieces of information are pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle to finally reveal the bigger picture.
Advances in DNA collection, forensics and pathology are shown between the present case the the cold case of fifteen years prior. Societies penchant for having their DNA anylised and stored is also a major factor in this mystery.
The Bone Code is narrated in a relaxed style and is well paced with each chapter ended on a little cliff hanger. Reichs delivers a very compelling mystery that builds as the story progresses.
I found the technical explanations of forensics and genetics and the constant use of initialism and acronyms quite confusing and caused me to lose focus.
The Bone Code would be a great read for those interested in forensics and science and followers of the TV series, Bones.
My rating 3 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐
 About the author 
Photo credit: Goodreads
Kathy Reichs is a forensic anthropologist for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, State of North Carolina, and for the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Quebec. She is one of only fifty forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology and is on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. A professor of anthropology at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte and Montreal and is a frequent expert witness in criminal trials.

Challenges entered: Cloak and Dagger Challenge