Friday, 5 August 2022

Book Review & Giveaway: A Recipe for Family by Tori Haschka

 A Recipe for Family
by
Tori Haschka
 
Things are about to get messy..... 
 
 
Publication date:  3rd August 2022

 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 400
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Uncorrected paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of DMCPRMedia
 
My thoughts
 
Tori Haschka asks, in A Recipe for Family, what makes a family? Can you bring in a total stranger and make them a family member? 

This is a story about working mother's and the pressure of working two jobs, that of mother and employee, and trying to do it all under the burden of guilt and judgement.

Tori Haschka includes situations and circumstances we may have found ourselves in at times and gives them a humorous twist.
Life is messy and brimming with disasters and Stella and her friends are full of advice for each other. Everyone keeps telling Stella an au pair will solve all her problems. 
A Recipe for Family is a modern story, for our time, where both parents need to work to survive financially. The story follows a group of mums living on Sydney's Northern Beaches but I think mothers everywhere will relate to the theme, and the characters, in some way or another.

I liked the addition of the social media posts in a local Facebook group asking for advice under an anonymous guise, although others new exactly who the posters were. This was funny in its truth. 
I loved all the mentions of food as it brought people together and was used to remember a loved one. I was delightfully surprised, after reading about all those wonderful dishes, that the recipes are all there in the back of the book.

I enjoyed Stella's final reflection that she needed to open up more and I felt her and her peers finally became friends rather than competitors by the end of the novel.

The story is told through the eyes of Stella, Elise, her mother-in-law and Ava, The 18yo au pair. I feel each of these characters will be viewed differently depending on the readers age and circumstances.

A Recipe for Family is an observant novel. A satirical look at family and mothering.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐



 
Your favourite bookstore link can be found on the publishers website https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/A-Recipe-for-Family/Tori-Haschka/9781760857349
 
About the author

(c) Snippets Photography
Tori Haschka is a Sydney based author, food writer and mum of two. Her articles have featured in Grazia, The Times, the Guardian, Mammamia and the Sydney Morning Herald and her blog eatori.com was ranked by Saveur as one of the five best food and travel blogs in the world. Grace Under Pressure is her first novel.

 
 
  
 
 
 

 Giveaway

With thanks to Simon & Schuster and DMCPRMedia I have one paperback copy of A Recipe for Family to give away.

 Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at 6pm (AEST) on Friday 12th August 2022.
 
If form not showing click HERE 
 

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Book Review: Lily Harford's Last Request by Joanna Buckley

Lily Harford's Last Request
by
Joanna Buckley 
 
She's always made her own decisions.... why stop now? 
 

Imprint: HQ Fiction 
 
Publication date: 2nd February 2022
 
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 352
 
RRP: $29.99AUD
 
Format read: Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My thoughts
 
Lily Harford's Last Request is a poignant story on ageing, dementia and euthanasia.

Told through the eyes of Lily, in her mid 80's, Pauline, her daughter, and Donna, an aged care worker, the reader receives a well rounded view of how ageing affects all concerned with the person's care.

Joanna Buckley raises the dilemma of an ageing parent and explores this through Lily's slow fall into dementia. Lily is at a stage where she knows her memory is failing and she is terrified of the inevitable outcome. She would rather be dead!
Pauline is trying to help her mother, keep up with her job and see her grandchildren. Multi-tasking as daughter/wife/mother/grandmother. Something has to give!
Donna an aged care worker has a troubled past. She loves her job however is belittled by family members who think her work is demeaning.

Lily Harford's Last Request is an emotional read. The highly emotive topic of euthanasia will open up some heated discussions.

I feel Joanna Buckley approached the subject in a sensitive way although I think some situations may have been over dramatised. 
The flashbacks on Lily's life gave the reader a perfect insight into the woman that she was. It was hard to think that this frail old lady was once strong, determined, capable and confident.

A few wonderful and unexpected twists made this exceptional debut a story to remember.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐




About the author

Joanna Buckley is an author based in Melbourne. She has a background in creating short stories, poetry, social media content and educational materials, she has also worked as a copywriter and editor. Joanna is a mother of three and part-time careers counsellor, and Lily Harford's Last Request is her first novel.

 
 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Book Review: The Way it is Now by Garry Disher

 The Way it is Now
by
Garry Disher
 
Publisher: Text Publishing
 
Publication date: 2nd November 2021
 
Genre: Crime Fiction
 
Pages: 384
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley
 
My thoughts
 
The Way it is Now is a stand alone mystery / thriller. The story opens in January 2000 with Charlie Deravin and 20 other probationary officers looking for a young boy who has gone missing from his school camp. Charlie's mother also mysteriously goes missing the same day. Neither is found and no-one is charged.
 
Twenty years later and on the cusp of the covid pandemic Charlie is back in his childhood home on the Victorian Mornington Peninsula. He has been suspended after attacking his superior officer. Now with his marriage in tatters and time on his hands Charlie becomes obsessed with  finding out what happened to his mother and spends his time interviewing people who lived in the area at the time.

Garry Disher effortlessly evokes the feel of a small town community where everyone knows each other and old secrets are buried deep. The timeline of the pre-covid pandemic is well portrayed when we were all so naive and it was just something happening somewhere else.
 
The mystery was well played out with plenty of twists. I had no clue as to what had happened to the victims.
Disher includes themes of jury tampering and victim blaming around a sex crime case.
 
Overall I enjoyed The Way it is Now although the ending wrapped up abruptly and I had the feeling it needed a few more pages. 
 
About the author
 
Photo: Goodreads

Garry Disher
was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents' farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988. He has written more than 40 titles, including general and crime fiction, children's books, textbooks, and books about the craft of writing.
 
 
 

Monday, 1 August 2022

Book Review: Super Easy Knittting for Beginners by Carri Hammett

 Super Easy Knitting for Beginners
by
Carri Hammett
 
 
Imprint: New Shoe Press

Publication date: 2nd August 2022
 
Genre: Craft / Hobbies
 
Pages: 144
 
RRP: $14.99USD (paperback)
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley
 
My thoughts
 
I have been knitting for a few decades now but I approached this book as if I was a complete beginner.


The book takes you from simple basic stitches to more advances techniques. It starts with the basics of knitting with crystal clear step by step instructions and lots of tips and helpful photos. It includes everything you need to know before you start including yarns, tolls and handy extras. There is so much in this book that I would have loved to know when I started knitting! 
All projects state what you will learn and what you will need at the start of each pattern.
 
Each new chapter builds on previous skills learned and adds additional skills so you are advancing your knitting prowess. There are chapters on stripes, colour blending, stranded knitting and adding beads. You won’t just be knitting scarves and beanies.
 
Hand knitting is making a comeback with online groups to give a helping hand, charity groups and face to face groups popping up everywhere.
 
I liked that needle size is given in US sizing and mm, as sizing is different in Australia. Google did come in handy with some of the wool weights.
 
Super Easy Knitting for Beginners is a comprehensive and well explained guide to knitting that I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn the craft.  

My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐



 
I am knitting this gorgeous little baby blanket from a pattern in the book. Perfect for beginners with a simple knit and purl stitch. The wonderful thing about a blanket is you don't have to worry about size, just match your needles to the wool you are using and knit away. I used an 8ply pure cotton.




About the author

Carri Hammett is the original owner of Coldwater Collaborative, a gem of a yarn shop in Excelsior, Minnesota. Carri loves to collaborate with both her customers and her readers as together they express their love of knitting and expand their knitting knowledge and skill. She is the author of Mittens and Hats for Yarn Lovers; Scarves and Shawls for Yarn Lovers; Ready, Set, Knit Cables; and Knitting 101.
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

Book Review: Bad Habits by Sarah Evans

 Bad Habits
by
Sarah Evans
 
 
Publication date: 1st September 2021
 
Genre: Crime / Humour
 
Series: D.I. Eve Rock #2
 
Pages: 264
 
RRP: $29.95AUD
 
Format read: paperback
 
Source: courtesy of the publisher
 
My thoughts
 
Grisly crime, romance and comedy all in one. And it works!
 
With D.I. Eve Rock Sarah Evans has created a likeable and complex character. She is sassy and full of spirit, very feminine but also likes the occasional cigar with her glass of wine.

Eve is currently on leave recovering from injuries sustained when her house and car were blown up and with no place to stay she is lodging at her mother Sister Immaculata's boarding school.
Eve can't stay away from the office for long, it's a good excuse to avoid Christmas lunch with her dysfunctional family, and she is soon back into the thick of it. New cases are mounting up; body parts found in a freezer, a major jewellery heist and an upmarket art gallery theft.
As the team start investigating the body count mounts and her mother, an ex sex-worker turned nun, has been acting very strangely. 
 
Bad Habits is a story rich in humour. Sarah Evans' writing is witty and entertaining. There is a lot going on and Eve is always in the midst of it. Eve Rock attracts trouble, it follows her around. This is the cause of lots of friendly ribbing between workmates, mostly at Eve's expense and she takes it all in her stride.
It's not all laughs, Bad Habits is a grisly tale of murder and butchery however the constant humour lightens an otherwise gruesome tale.
 
The multiple mysteries kept me turning the pages and the sweet romance between Eve and workmate D.I. Quinn Fox had me eager to see where it would go. Quinn is another likeable character, he seemed resigned to Eve's flightiness.
 
Bad Habits is the second book featuring D.I. Eve Rock and there is some backstory included making it read well as a standalone. It did leave me keen to read book 1, Operation Paradise.
 
A gruesomely good story for those that need lots of action in their books!
 
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

 
 
 
About the author
 
Sarah Evans, an English ex-pat journalist and former home-schooling mum, is the author of a lifestyle / recipe book Seasons and Seasonings in a Teapot, romance and crime novels, novellas, short stories and poetry.
She gives author talks and teaches memoir, creative writing, poetry and song-writing. She lives on a 20-acre hobby farm in rural Western Australia with her family and a menagerie of fur and feather and has added granny duties to her repertoire.
 
 
 

Tuesday, 26 July 2022

Book Review: The Bellbird River Country Choir by Sophie Green

 The Bellbird River Country Choir
by
Sophie Green
 
 
Publication date: 27th July 2022 

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
 
Pages: 432
 
RRP: $32.99AUD
 
Format read: Uncorrected Paperback
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading Preview
 
 
My thoughts
 

Set over the twelve months of 1998 Sophie Green’s latest novel, The Bellbird River Country Choir is a totally immersive read about the importance of female friendships.
 

Five women from different backgrounds and age groups become unlikely friends when each of them, for different reasons, join the local country choir.
 
At first the women are quiet and even a little judgy however they soon start supporting each other to face their challenges allowing them to grow in self-confidence. 
 
Single mother Alex, who has moved to the country from the bustle of the city to spend more time with her young daughter, joins the choir to make friends.
Janene has lived in the town all her life. She works in her parents bakery and the choir is her social outlet.
Debbie, who is a house-keeper and nanny on a local farm, is encouraged to join the choir to foster some self-confidence.
Famous opera singer Gabrielle is back in Bellbird River staying at cousin Victoria’s family home. She needs to rebuild her confidence after surgery affected her singing voice.
Victoria, a stalwart in the local community, joins the choir, not due to loneliness since her husband left her but to support her cousin Gabrielle.

Each of the women are at a cross-roads in their life and find that confiding and trusting in one another gives them the confidence to move forward.

Sophie Green includes themes of single parenthood, life after prison, mental illness, bullying, gaslighting and regaining self-confidence. These themes flow around a centric topic of love; for children, in marriage, forbidden love, self love, love for family and friends.
 
The Bellbird River Country Choir is an easy read with likeable characters with relatable problems and realistic solutions. Well worth a read!
 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Credit: Goodreads
Sophie Green is an author and publisher who lives in Sydney. She has written several fiction and non-fiction books, some under other names. In her spare time she writes about country music on her website, Sunburnt Country Music. She has been practising yoga since 1993 and teaching since 2002. Sophie's debut novel, THE INAUGURAL MEETING OF THE FAIRVALE LADIES BOOK CLUB, was a Top Ten bestseller and was shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards for General Fiction Book of the Year 2018, and longlisted for both the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year 2018 and the Indie Book Award for Debut Fiction 2018.


 
 
 

Monday, 25 July 2022

Mailbox Monday - July 25th

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

 
  Happy Monday!
 
Another busy month for me with looking after the grandchildren during two weeks school holidays,two birthdays in the family and a book fairy drop for a children's book Loki, a Bad God's Guide to Being Good. I hope those who found the books enjoyed them.
 
My husband's radiation therapy has finished and he is managing the after effects of fluid retention, burnt and cracked skin and a sore jaw well enough. The hospital will continue to monitor his recovery.

 
During the school break we visited lots of parks, when it wasn't raining, and the days we were stuck indoors we played games and did lots of craft. 
 
 








We celebrated Jay's 6th birthday and my eldest son's 37th birthday


 
 
My latest knitting project - Minecraft fans will recognise this.


Books I received for review, won and purchased over the last month
 
Books for review
 

 Books I've won in giveaways


Children's books



 You can read my children's book reviews at Little Squirrel's Bookshelf
 
 

Thursday, 21 July 2022

Winner of a copy of The Brightest Star announced!!

 

A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a paperback copy of The Brightest Star.   The giveaway closed on the 21st July and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 


Congratulations to........   Cheryl M 

 

 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.

 

 

Wednesday, 20 July 2022

Book Review: Love Never Chose Me by Rosanna M.I.

 Love Never Chose Me
by
Rosanna M. I. 
 
Publisher: Cherry Publishing 
 
Publication date: 16th December 2021
 
Genre: Romance / New Adult
 
Pages: 246
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
 
My thoughts
 
Love Never Chose Me is an easy light read. Emily at  twenty-three is already an accomplished thriller writer however her agent tells her she must write a romance (okay, we need to suspend our disbelief a little with that.)
 
Emily hates romance! She has sworn off love since her heart was broken three times. She has been single now for 4 years.
 
The story follows Emily as the three boys (now men) who broke her heart come back into her life. Emily must work through the pain and rejection before she can fall in love again.
 
Emily comes across as a bit of a drama queen with lots of meltdowns and tantrums. I felt bad for her love interest, Andrew, who never gave up even though she treated him badly.
 
I found Love Never Chose Me to be a fun read and I chuckled over how disillusioned and cynical Emily was at such a young age. as with any romance read it ends nicely, after much drama, with a HEA.
A story to be enjoyed by upper teen readers 15 - 19 years.
 
My rating 3 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Rosanna M.I. is a Japanese-Brazilian author who loves New Adult and Young Adult Romance novels.
As an avid reader from an early age, she found herself writing poems and stories as a hobby, not imagining that creating fiction would become her biggest dream and main goal later in life.
Most of her works are full of emotional roller coasters, drama, not-perfect characters, second chances and changes, as she would like to read them.
When Rosanna M.I. is not going crazy with her books, she is spending time with her three cats, listening to music and taking care of her mental health.
 
 
 

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Book Review: Double Negative by Susan Marshall

 Double Negative
by
Susan Marshall
 
Publisher: Evernight Teen

Publication date: 12th November 2021
 
Genre: Young Adult
 
Pages: 306
 
RRP:  $6.70AUD (Amazon Kindle)
 
Format read: eBook
 
Source: Courtesy of the author via Netgalley 
 
My thoughts
 
Double Negative is a story many teenagers will relate to. Narrated by 17 year old Reece who is an elite swimming star attending the Elite Sports school. However after a shoulder injury she is transferred to the local high school, that her brother attends, until she recovers.
 
Reece's brother Jamie is in grade 12 and is running for school President and asks Reece to support him as Vice President
 
Not being American I don't really understand the US school system. High schools in Australia do not have Presidents. However I do understand campaigning and elections and Susan Marshall clearly explained the system, including campaign promises, obligations, constitutions, guidelines and rules, in a way that would appeal to a teenage audience.
 
There is lots of angst and drama throughout the novel as Reece loses her place in the elite training squad, loses her boyfriend, crushes on her brother's nemesis and needs to adjust to a new school.
Another strong theme is the pressure of elite sport and the mental health of athletes. The addition of an amputee basketball player brings in the extra theme of how athletes cope with and work through a permanent disability.
 
Double Negative has an interesting plot and realistic characters. There was a little too much angst and too many meltdowns for me. I had the patience of an adult whilst reading. 
Teens will love it and relate wholeheartedly!
 
Recommended: 16+
My rating 3 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐



About the author

Photo: Goodreads
A lover of libraries, Susan obtained a Master’s Degree in Library Science but found that she was too disorganized for the profession. Instead, Susan worked at The Globe and Mail newspaper and then Seneca College. Four kids later, she decided to stay-at-home, spending her quiet moments indulging her love of writing.

The old adage is to "write what you know," and in Double Negative, Susan channels her experience as a parent of a teen amputee and her misguided belief that she was once an athlete.

NemeSIS was inspired by the complicated sister dynamic in Susan's estrogen fuelled household growing up in Hamilton, Ontario.

Susan lives in Toronto with her husband, three sons, a daughter, rescue dog Bean and Indy the cat.
 
 
Click cover to read review

 

Friday, 15 July 2022

Book Giveaway - Friday Freebie: The Brightest Star by Emma Harcourt

 I received an extra paperback copy of The Brightest Star by Emma Harcourt from Harlequin Australia so I am giving it away to one lucky reader.

The Brightest Star
by
Emma Harcourt


About the book
 
1496 It is the height of the Renaissance and its flowering of intellectual and artistic endeavour, but the city state of Florence is in the grip of fundamentalist preacher Friar Girolamo Savonarola. Its good people believe the Lord speaks through him, just as certainly as the Sun circles the Earth.

For Leonarda Lunetta, eldest daughter of the learned Signore Vincenzo Fusili, religion is not as interesting as the books she shares with her beloved father. Reading is an escape from the ridicule flung her way, for Luna is not like other girls. She was born with a misshapen leg and that, and her passion for intellectual pursuits - particularly astronomy - alters how society sees her and how she sees the world.

Luna wants to know, to learn, to become an astronomer who charts the nights sky - certainly not the dutiful, marriageable daughter all of Florence society insists upon. So when Luna meets astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, she is not surprised that his heretical beliefs confirm her view that world is not as it is presented - or how it could be. These dangerous ideas bring her into conflict with the preacher Savonarola, and her future is changed irrevocably as politics, extremism and belief systems ignite in a dangerous conflagration.

Luna is a woman born out of time, the brightest star of her generation, but can she reconcile the girl of her father's making with this new version of herself? And if she does, will Renaissance Italy prove too perilous and dark a place for a free-thinking woman?
 
I haven't read the book yet but it is getting some fabulous reviews on Goodreads!
 

 Giveaway
 

I have one paperback copy of The Brightest Star to give away.

 Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at 6pm (AEST) on Thursday 21st July 2022.
 
 This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Book Review: The Bone Ranger by Louisa Bennett

The Bone Ranger
by
Louisa Bennett
 

Publication date: 18th November 2021
 
Series: Monty Dog Detective #2
 
Genre: Crime / Mystery
 
Pages: 314
 
RRP: $32.95AUD
 
Format read: Paperback 
 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 
 
My thoughts
 
The Bone Ranger is such a fun read; amusing, enjoyable and a little bit quirky.
 
Detective Rose Sidebottom is suffering from PTSD after a near death experience and is on sick leave. When a woman begs Rose to find her missing friend. Then when a girl is found murdered, Rose can't help but become involved even though her boss has warned her off the case.
 
Rose has a strong connection with her dog Monty, a golden retriever, who even seems to understand her when she talks to him. I loved the connection between Monty and Rose and how Monty could understand Rose and he found unique ways of trying to get her to understand him, even though she didn't get it some of the time.
 
The story is a dual narrative with Monty in 1st person which I found appropriate and Rose in 3rd person. I felt the change between perspectives flowed smoothly. I loved how Louisa Bennett got right into the mind and thoughts of a dog which were quite often amusing and gave me a few chuckles.
As Rose and Monty endeavour to uncover the identity of the murdered girl they come across a mysterious case of missing dogs. This detective duo are joined by a rat named Betty, Dante the magpie and a hyperactive squirrel. The animal community band together to help solve the mystery.
 
Even though the story is light and fun it is still a compelling crime read with captivating mysteries, tension, danger and suspense thrown in to give a read that is engrossing.
 
The Bone Ranger is the second book in the Monty Dog Detective series however reads well as a stand alone. 
 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 
 
 
About the author
 
Photo credit Goodreads
Louisa studied Literature at the University of London and went on to learn Canine Linguistics from her Golden Retriever, Pickles, which is how she discovered what dogs really get up to when we're not around.
Truth be told, Pickles came up with the story for the Monty Dog Detective Mysteries, and Louisa just transcribed it. She's faster on the keyboard and less easily distracted by food and passing squirrels.
Louisa worked in magazine publishing before her eyes were opened to the world of woofers. She divides her time between London and Sydney, Australia, and runs courses on crime fiction and creative writing
To find out more about Monty the sniffer super-sleuth, please go to https://lalarkin.com/
 
Louisa Bennett also writes thrillers a L.A. Larkin 
 
Devour

 * I am saddened to add that Louisa's beloved dog Pickles passed away last week aged 12 years - RIP Pickles 💗