Friday 29 October 2021

Book Review: The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa

The Cat Who Saved Books 
Sosuke Natsukawa
translated by Louise Heal Kawai 
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Imprint: Picador 
Publication date:  14th September 2021
Genre: Fantasy / Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 224
RRP: $19.99AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
About the book
Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about ewto close the secondhand bookshop he inherited from his beloved grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger appears with an unusual request. The cat needs Rintaro’s help to save books that have been imprisoned, destroyed and unloved.

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different labyrinths to set books free. Through their travels, Tiger and Rintaro meet a man who locks up his books, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publisher who only wants to sell books like disposable products. Then, finally, there is a mission that Rintaro must complete alone . . .
My review
I really thought I would love this book about a boy and a talking cat and how together they were going to save book, however it fell flat for me.
After his grandfather's passing, introvert Rintaro skips school and hides away in his grandfather's secondhand bookstore immersing himself in his favourite books. A talking tabby cat appears and asks for his help to save all books by completing three quests.
On each quest Rintaro must stop someone from doing what is perceived as mistreating books, by debating his views. He draws on ideals taught by his grandfather to complete these quests of words and principles.
I found the quests quite boring and the problems encountered not really that monumental. Maybe I'm missing the big picture but for me it was marred by airs of superiority. If we don't read classics, over and over, we don't love books?
There were some wonderful quotes about books teaching us compassion and empathy and how through books we can learn about other people and other places.
I enjoyed Rintaro's growth, through the quests he gained confidence and started to think about his own life differently and believe in himself.
Faultlessly translated by Louise Heal Kawai the words flowed effortlessly.
I am certain this philosophical Japanese fantasy will be loved by many. Just not me!
My rating 2 / 5   ⭐⭐ 

About the author
Sosuke Natsukawa is a Japanese physician and novelist, born in Osaka Prefecture in 1978. He graduated from the Shinshu University Medical School and practices medicine at a hospital in the largely rural prefecture of Nagano. His multivolume debut novel, Kamisama no Karute, published in 2009, won several prizes and sold over three million copies in Japan. The Cat Who Saved Books is set to be translated into over twenty languages around the world. 

Monday 25 October 2021

Mailbox Monday: October 25th

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

 Happy Monday
It was so good to finally celebrate Freedom Day for New South Wales Australia.  We were allowed to have 10 visitors to our house which was just enough have our children and their partners visit to celebrate our youngest son's 30th Birthday.

 I've also been enjoying trips to the local shops and actually sitting down and having a coffee. The simple pleasures. 😀
The Prevention Australia virtual walk was held yesterday. It is a 10km walk to raise money for breast cancer trials. It has been lots of fun over the last 6 weeks training for our 10km walk.


 Jay found the perfect place to wait out the small shower of rain during our play at the park.

 I found this gorgeous Christmas decoration at Myer.
Book Fairies all over the world hid copies of Pony by R J Palacio on publication date. This is one of my books waiting to be found.


Books I've received and purchased over the last month.
Do any of the above peak your interest? What has arrived in your mailbox lately? 

Saturday 23 October 2021

Book Review: At the End of the Day by Liz Bryski

 At the End of the Day
Liz Bryski
It is never too late to make friends....
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Publication date: 28th September 2021
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Pages: 336
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Paperback 
Source: courtesy of the publisher
About the book
 When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. Mim's childhood polio is taking a toll on her life. Mathias is contemplating a cross-continent move to be nearer his daughter.

But life back in Perth is not smooth sailing, with their respective family members going through their own upheavals. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

At the end of the day, can they muster the wisdom and the courage they need to change?
My review
Miriam Squires is on her return to Perth after visiting her sister in England. She is starting to feel the effects of post polio and wonders if she will have the strength to make this trip again.
Mathias Vander is stopping over in Perth , to visit his daughter, on his return from Brussels where he was visiting his childhood friend Luc. Luc is dying and Mathias knows that was the last time he would see his old friend.
Miriam and Mathias meet while on an unplanned extended stopover and  find they have a lot in common. Their ensuing friendship enriches and changes not only their lives but also the lives of the people they hold most dear.
This was my first Liz Bryski novel and I love how her characters are real people with real flaws; they get annoyed with people, say the wrong thing at times and are often overwhelmed with life.
Miriam and Mathias had both migrated to Australia many years ago leaving behind family and friends and Liz Bryski highlights the dilemma caused by advancing age as they each find the trips back home harder and harder
As we watch Miriam and Mathias'  friendship grow the couple find they can open up about events they suffered as children and have kept locked away.
I enjoyed Liz Bryski's engaging writing style and even though many of the characters had faced adverse circumstances during their lives, which were quite emotional to read, the story on a whole was heartfelt and touching.
The book concludes on the cusp of the Covid19 pandemic. And we all know how that pans out!
Liz Bryski delivers engaging women's fiction through likeable characters and relatable life events. I am looking forward to reading some of her back list. 
my rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
Photo: Goodreads
 Liz Bryski is a novelist, non-fiction writer, former journalist and ABC broadcaster, with more than fifty years experience in the British and Australian media. She is the author of eleven bestselling novels, including Gang of Four and A Month of Sundays, as well as more than a dozen non-fiction books. She lives close to Freemantle in Western Australia, with Gazza, her three-year-old rescue dog who is in charge of exercise, household security and chasing cats. She has two sons and twin grandsons.

Challenges Entered: Australian Women Writers Challenge AWW2021

                                   Aussie Author Challenge #Aussieauthor21

Friday 22 October 2021

Book Review: The Perfect Family by Robyn Harding

 The Perfect Family
Robyn Harding 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia
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.... 
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
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 on the Beauty and lace website

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.

 Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia
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.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced here.