Saturday 31 December 2022

Book Review: Becoming Beth by Meredith Appleyard

 Becoming Beth


Meredith Appleyard

She's remembered the truth about her own life... what happens now?
Publication date: 7th September 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 418
RRP: $32.99AUD Paperback
Source: Beauty & Lace Book Club

My review of Becoming Beth

This review first appeared on the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
Becoming Beth is a story about finding yourself after major life upheavals and moving on.
Beth is in her 50's and back at her childhood home after an unexpected marriage breakdown. She has left her job and needs time to mourn not only her marriage but also decades of old hurt and the loss of her mother after a severe stroke.
I loved that Meredith has given her readers an older character having to start over in life. Beth is living with her elderly father however he is not frail and is quite able to care for himself and Meredith Appleyard touches on the stigma of mature children living at home with their parents unless they are a carer.
Becoming Beth is set during the pandemic with mentions of lockdowns, social distancing and disinfectant spray. These were all a part of our lives for so long and I liked that it was included in the novel rather than setting it during a previous year. I think I am now ready to read books with covid restrictions affecting families with parents dying, no visitors, no funeral. I couldn't have done that a year ago.

In Becoming Beth Meredith Appleyard highlights problems faced by small country towns with fundraising to maintain community halls. I loved how the townsfolk all worked together and helped each other. The whole book had a lovely community feel with people of all ages working together for the good of the community. 
Meredith Appleyard portrays the heat of an Australian summer with ease. I breezed through this book, it was such an immersive story with just the right amount of drama and a couple of mysteries running through it.
The only thing I would have liked a bit more of was the romance element.
My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
About the author
Meredith Appleyard lives in the Clare Valley wine-growing region of South Australia, two hours north of Adelaide. As a registered nurse and midwife, she has worked in a wide range of country health practice settings, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service. She has done agency nursing in London and volunteer work in Vietnam. After her first manuscript was rejected, she joined a writers' group, attended workshops and successfully completed an Advanced Diploma of Arts in Professional Writing with the Adelaide College of the Arts. And she kept working. When she isn't writing, Meredith is reading, helping organise the annual Clare Writers' Festival, or at home with her husband and her border collie, Daisy 

Friday 30 December 2022

In 2022..... My Life in Books

I love this fun book tag created by Shellyrae @ Book'd Out and you can see her post HERE
The idea is to complete each prompt with a book that you have read in 2022.

2022 was the year of: The Way it is Now

In 2022 I wanted to be: The Brightest Star

In 2022 I was: The Understudy

In 2022 I gained: A Recipe for Family

In 2022 I lost: The Postcard from Italy

In 2022 I loved: The Last Summer







In 2022 I hated: Keeping Up Appearances

In 2022 I learned: The Raven's Song

In 2022 I was surprised by: Lily Harford's Last Request

In 2022 I went to:The Wattle Seed Inn







In 2022 I missed out on: The Reunion

In 2022 my family were: A Family of Strangers

in 2023 I hope for: A Little Spark








If you think this looks like a fun tag why not check out Shellyrae's post here and join in with your own bookish answers. 

My Life in Books... 2020


Wrap-up of my 2022 Reading Challenges - Let's see how I went!

 It's that time of year when we look back over our challenge pledges and see how we went.

The first one was the Dymocks Reading Challenge

There were 20 categories plus an additional 6 extra categories.

I managed to complete 21 of the 26 prompts

You can see the full list of books HERE


Next up is the Mount TBR Reading Challenge
I chose the lowest level which was 12 books from your TBR
I managed to read 7 books that had been on my shelf prior to 2019
You can see the full list HERE
Next was KT's Book Bingo on Instagram

 This had 25 squares to complete and I managed to fill 18 of the 25

You can see the full list HERE
The last one was 22 reads for 2022
This is from The Book Stack Facebook Group
 I managed to complete 19 of the 22 prompts
You can see the full list HERE
Well that's a wrap for 2022. I didn't complete any of my attempted challenges but I had fun joining in!

Friday 23 December 2022

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from The Burgeoning Bookshelf - 2022

A big thank you to all my followers for all your support. I will be back soon with my 2022 challenge update (let's see how I went). Until then have a wonderful Christmas and I hope you find a favourite book, or two, under the Christmas tree.


Thursday 8 December 2022

Book Review: The Christmas Postcards by Karen Swan

Title: The Christmas Postcards
Author: Karen Swan
Publication date: 27th October 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Romance
Pages: 480
RRP: $34.99AUD (Paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 
My review of The Christmas Postcards
Every year I look forward to Karen Swan's Christmas story. I can always be assured of a riveting tale and a happy ending set in an exotic location with plenty of snow. 
In the weeks leading up to Christmas Natasha's  young daughter loses her treasured toy cow, Moola, accidentally leaving her behind in a B & B in Vienna. 
Duffy is staying one night in Vienna, hoping to catch up with a friend before his next flight to Nepal, when he happens across a toy cow exactly like the one his sister had. He takes this as a sign and now Moodle will be his good luck mascot as he treks the Himalayas.
A social media post to help find Moola goes viral eventually reaching Duffy although he is already too far to return the toy he promises to send photos whenever he has internet.
I loved the idea of a social media post to find Moola going viral and flying around the world. So many wonderful people wanting to help. 
There is so much to this story! It has mystery, suspense, armchair travel, edge of your seat suspense and romance all rolled into one.
Nat is very unsettled in her marriage, she has everything she could want and she can't seem to pinpoint why she is unhappy. Swan deftly depicts Nat's unsettledness without making her unlikable or appear selfish.
The two plot lines are so different in content and theme. Nat's is all about a husband who is rarely home and trying to handle a distraught toddler alone and her feelings of disconnect now she is no longer in the workforce. Duffy's story is more melancholy, showcasing the atmospheric Himalayas and the dangers faced by mountain climbers in extreme conditions. The two plots are pulled together by the emails and photos between Natasha and Duffy.
The Christmas Postcards is an immersive story about love, loss, second chances and the fate that sometimes controls our life.
My rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author
Karen Swan is the Sunday Times top three bestselling author of twenty-two books and her novels sell all over the world. She writes two books each year - one for the summer period and one for the Christmas season. Previous summer titles include The Spanish Promise, The Hidden Beach and The Secret Path and, for winter, The Christmas Secret, Together by Christmas and Midnight in the Snow. 

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Book Review: Dark Deeds Down Under - A Crime & Thriller Anthology

Title: Dark Deeds Down Under
Author: Various 
Editor: Craig Sisterson
Publication date: 1st July 2022
Genre: Crime / Anthology
Pages: 340
RRP: $11.99AU (eBook)
Format: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
My review of Dark Deeds Down Under
Dark Deeds Down Under is an anthology of fictional titles of mystery, murder and mayhem. Twenty-one short stories from some of the top names in Australian and New Zealand crime fiction.

"a stunning smorgasbord of stories, styles and settings" - Craig Sisterson editor
Many of the authors I had read before and I enjoyed their familiar writing style and the use of characters from well known series.
I love that anthologies have something for everyone and Dark Deeds Down Under is no exception, there is mystery, suspense, edge of your seat drama, humour and unexpected twists. Twenty-one short stories that can be enjoyed at your leisure - perfect holiday reading.

I was amazed how, even in these short stories, some authors managed remarkable characterisation. I had a few favourites and among them were Fiona Sussman's Hiding Something; where a grieving dad picks up a hitchhiker, a chance meeting that will change both their lives and Mr Pig by Stephen Ross; narrated by a friendless thirteen-year-old girl left with her curmudgeon father after her mother goes missing. The twists in these two stories really appealed to my sense of humour.

Dark Deeds Down Under is a superb showcase of Australian & New Zealand crime fiction with something for every taste.
My rating 4.3 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⅓ (averaged over 21 stories) 

Authors included in this anthology

Alan Carter ~ Nikki Crutchley ~ Aoife Clifford ~ Garry Disher ~ Helen Vivienne Fletcher ~ 
Lisa Fuller ~ Sulari Gentil ~ Kerry Greenwood ~ Narrelle M Harris ~ Katherine Kovacic ~ 
Shane Maloney ~ RWR McDonald ~ Dinuka McKenzie ~ Lee Murray & Dan Rabarts ~ 
Renee ~ Stephen Ross ~ Fiona Sussman ~ Vanda Symon ~ David Whish-Wilson

Monday 28 November 2022

Book Review: The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper

Title: the Butterfly Collector
Author: Tea Cooper
Publication date: 3rd November 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
RRP: $32.99AU
Format: paperback
Source: Better Reading Preview 

My review of The Butterfly Collector

1868 – Theodora is more interested in her art than finding a husband and when her three sisters go to Sydney she stays behind on the family property in Morpeth. A chance sighting of a new species of butterfly starts Theodora on a quest to find its nesting place.
1922 - Verity is from a long line of journalists and when an anonymous invitation to a socialite ball arrives she sees this as an opportunity to write an article for the local newspaper. Connections she makes at the ball lead back to her grandfather's home of Morpeth and a fifty-year-old mystery.

Tea Cooper blends fact and fiction to deliver a story that is rich in intrigue and wonderfully immersive.
The Butterfly Collector is a dual timeline Historical Fiction set in1868 Morpeth in country NSW and 1922 Sydney, NSW. I enjoyed all the mentions of Sydney landmarks that still stand to this day. As the story evolves connections are made between the characters from each timeline.
Tea keeps the pages turning with a layering of mysteries. The mysteries hold you for a few chapters then once they are revealed a new mystery is created causing a continuous aura of mystery throughout the book. There is also an underlying sense of foreboding and I always had this feeling that something terrible was going to happen.
Centred around the first sighting of the Wanderer butterfly in Australia, the newspaper industry and baby farms, Tea Cooper has seamlessly delivered a story that is diverse in its content and impossible to put down.
Tea Cooper’s trademark strong female characters take centre stage in this multi-layered tale of friendship and tenacity.
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author
Tea Cooper writes Australian contemporary and historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling.


Saturday 26 November 2022

Book Review: Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

 In a small country town, better bury your secrets deep....

Title: Keeping Up Appearances
Author: Tricia Stringer
Publication date: 5th October 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 464
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
My review of Keeping Up Appearances 
Single mother of three, Paige, is hiding from extended family and is hoping to fly under the radar in the small town of Badara.
Marion has been busy trying to build community spirit with exercise classes and a Celebrate Badara festival but the planned opening of a time capsule could destroy everything when long buried secrets work their way to the top.

Briony Hensley's grown children all have their lives together and Briony is smug with her perfect family. There would be no gossip around town about the Hensleys! Small towns do tend to gossip and for many keeping up appearances is imperative.

I do love Tricia Stringer's writing style however I felt the subject explored in Keeping Up Appearances was a little outdated. I wondered if people really do think like that in this day and age!
I loved the town of Badara, wonderfully drawn and filled with caring people who looked out for each other. The little spats between the townsfolk came across as real. There are lots of fun moments in Keeping Up Appearances such as the exercise class Marion is trying to promote, the family picnic for the sports club, the Op shop ball organised for the Celebrate Badara Festival and I can't forget the opening of the time capsule which was really quite funny but devastating for poor Marion.

Keeping Up Appearances has strong themes of kindness, forgiveness and acceptance. It is a story that will leave you contented and is garnering a multitude of five star reviews.
Even though I thought all the problems were wrapped up a bit too quickly and nicely at the end it is a feel good story and Tricia Stringer did deliver the feels.

My rating 3 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Tricia Stringer is a bestselling Australian author of contemporary fiction and rural romance.

Tricia grew up on a farm in country South Australia and has spent most of her life in rural communities, as owner of a post office and a book shop, as a teacher and librarian, and now as a full-time writer. She lives in the beautiful Copper Coast region with her husband, Daryl. From there she travels and explores Australia's diverse communities and landscapes, and shares this passion for the country and its people through stories.


Friday 25 November 2022

Winners in my latest Giveaway Announced!!

 A huge thank you to everyone who entered my latest giveaway.   The giveaway closed on the 24th November 2022 and the winners were randomly selected (using Random org) from all entries. 
 And the winners are........

 Congratulations to........ Catherine B

Congratulations to........ Richard H
Congratulations to........ Donna R
Congratulations to........ Sharah Mc
Congratulations to........ Rachael
Congratulations to........ Billyjean 
Congratulations to........ Leanne
 Congratulations to........ Warrick W
The winners have been notified and have seven days to provide a mailing address.

Please check under the Giveaway tab for more great giveaways!  



Wednesday 23 November 2022

Book Review: The Furphy Anthology 2021

 Selected Short stories from 
Title: The Furphy Anthology 2021
Author: Various
Publisher: Heads & Tales
Publication date: 1st December 2021
Genre: Various
RRP: $35.00AU
Pages: 216
Format: Hardcover
Source: Courtesy of DMCPRMedia
My review of The Furphy Anthology 2021
I loved the cover of this anthology; Sixteen jewels from the literary world.
These sixteen quintessentially Australian short stories with coastal, rural, desert and small-town settings are like a snapshot in time; leaving the before and after up to the readers imagination. 

I really enjoy anthologies and find most have a connecting theme that help the stories to  flow into each other. Although I don't think these short stories had a suggested theme they all felt connected in their Austalianness. There is something about each story that screams Australia, whether it be the seclusion of location, the atmosphere, the language, or the characters themselves, it seemed to permeate each story without being openly stated.
There are stories of young people feeling trapped, neglected children, test-tube meat, love, loss and disconnectedness. 
My favourite story was about a teenaged boy wanting to escape a small country town filled with racism, bigotry, dysfunctional families and drugs but family obligations keep holding him back.
"Everyone thinks everyone else is the problem; everyone gives their opinion; and everyone thinks someone else should fix it."
With stories from a wide variety of genres I am certain there will be something in this collection that will resonate with all readers. 
Beautifully presented in hardcover format The Furphy Anthology 2021 would make an excellent gift idea. 
My rating 4.31 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⅓ (averaged over the 16 stories)

About the Furphy Literary Award
The Award is named in honour of Australian writer Joseph Furphy, who wrote under the pen name Tom Collins and published Such is Life in 1903. Originally established in 1992, the Furphy Literary Award was relaunched as a national prize in 2020.

The Open Category is for short stories 5000 words or less with $20,000 prize money up for grabs. There are also four Junior/Youth categories, open to people from the greater Shepparton area in Victoria.

Visit their website to learn more about the awards:




Sunday 20 November 2022

Book Review: Upriver by Martin Roy HIll

Title: Upriver
Author: Martin Roy Hill
Series: Linus Schag NCIS Thriller #3
Publisher: 32-32 North
Publication date: 1st October 2022 
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 240
Format: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the author
My review of Upriver
Upriver is book 3 in the Linus Schag, NCIS thriller series.
I think Linus was a little out of his depth in Upriver. He tended to take a back seat and wasn't in charge of the situation as he usually is. In fact he left his rifle unattended on the deck, not once but twice! Scag is sent to bring in two Navy SEALs suspected of murder but when the apprehension goes wrong and the prisoners escape Schag embarks on a long and dangerous pursuit along the Tigris River and straight into ISIS territory.

Upriver is as action packed as all Martin Roy Hill's novels whilst also rich in Hill's trademark humour. Told through the dual narrative of Sikes & Rankin (the escapees) and Linus Schag's team, we get to see the action and circumstances from both perspectives.

Hill includes a brief history of the Tigris River, the pressure on defence personnel due to relentless hours worked on tours of duty, mental  breakdown and the dilemma of friendly fire.
"His anger grew from the myriad of lies and deceits he discovered this war bred. Corrupt contractors, war-weary service members, innocent victims."
The trip up the river following the escapees and surrounded by enemy fire in ISIS controlled areas was tension filled and action packed. And it wouldn't be a Schag thriller if there wasn't an explosion or two! 

Hill once again showcases his extensive knowledge with all things afloat and his detailed descriptions were informative whilst still being suitable for a layperson.

If you are after a thriller that is timely, believable and rich in action Upriver is the book for you!!
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐


About the author
Martin Roy Hill is the author of two national awarding winning series - the Linus Schag, NCIS, thrillers and the Peter Brandt mysteries, the USCG DSF-Papa sci-fi thrillers, and a collection of short stories. He is a former journalist and national award-winning investagative reporter for newspapers and magazines.
He lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, son and their three feline overlords. 




Wednesday 16 November 2022

Mega End of Year - Nine Book Giveaway

As postage prices rise it's getting harder to offer giveaways so I'm doing a massive end of year giveaway. I am hoping to source new giveaways from publishers in 2023 so I won't need to foot the postage bill.

I have some fabulous books on this list. Some are brand new and some lightly read. All would be great holiday reads.

Enter for as many books as you like... and Good Luck. 

The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

Every day without fail, Travis Devine puts on a cheap suit, grabs his faux-leather briefcase, and boards the 6:20 commuter train to Manhattan, where he works as an entry-level analyst at the city’s most prestigious investment firm. In the mornings, he gazes out the train window at the lavish homes of the uberwealthy, dreaming about joining their ranks. In the evenings, he listens to the fiscal news on his phone, already preparing for the next grueling day in the cutthroat realm of finance.

Then one morning Devine’s tedious routine is shattered by an anonymous email: She is dead.

Sara Ewes, Devine’s coworker and former girlfriend, has been found hanging in a storage room of his office building—presumably a suicide, prompting the NYPD to come calling on him. If that wasn’t enough, Devine receives another ominous visit, a confrontation that threatens to dredge up grim secrets from his past in the Army unless he participates in a clandestine investigation into his firm.

This treacherous role will take Travis from the impossibly glittering lives he once saw only through a train window, to the darkest corners of the country’s economic halls of power…where something rotten lurks. And apart from this high-stakes conspiracy, there’s a killer out there with their own agenda, and Devine is the bullseye

 Bad Habits by Sarah Evans & The Bone Ranger by Louisa Bennet (sent together)


A freezer full of body parts is the tip of the criminal iceberg for Perth cop Eve Rock.

The festive season has spawned a spate of murders, robberies and abductions, which actually reassures Eve that others' bad habits far exceed her own. It also gives her a watertight excuse to avoid hanging out with her dysfunctional family while spending time with her two gorgeous colleagues and would-be lovers, Quinn Fox and his son Adam. A win-win situation.

Butchered bodies used for questionable purposes, a murdered man in a skip, a brazen multi-million dollar haul from a high-end jewellers and posh art gallery are all in a day's work for Eve and her team.

Now usually Eve relishes getting stuck into solving crimes, but she's not so keen when she's the target and the boundaries between work and home become nastily blurred.

But who is trying to kill her this time? And why? And who are the strange people wandering around her temporary digs late at night? And why is her mum the nun acting more weird than usual?

And why is she such a pushover when it comes to the men in her life?

All will be revealed - but only if Eve can survive to work everything out.

Monty, the adorable, food-obsessed Golden Retriever will do anything for his owner, Detective Constable Rose Sidebottom.

Of course, as these things go, Monty is no ordinary dog and Rose is no ordinary hooman.

Monty's super-smart nose and network of unique informers, and Rose's uncanny ability to spot liars make them a funny and formidable team.

When Rose is on sick leave a stranger begs for their help to find a missing person. The case soon becomes a murder investigation, and Rose's boss warns her not to interfere.

But, when dogs start disappearing too, Monty and Rose have no choice but to track down the culprits by doing what they do best - together.

The Tilt by Chris Hammer (ARC)

Newly-minted homicide detective Nell Buchanan returns to her home town, annoyed at being assigned a decades-old murder - a 'file and forget'.

But this is no ordinary cold case, as the discovery of more bodies triggers a chain of escalating events in the present day. As Nell starts to join the pieces together, she begins to question how well she truly knows those closest to her. Could her own family be implicated in the crimes?

The nearer Nell comes to uncovering the secrets of the past, the more dangerous the present becomes for her, as she battles shadowy assailants and sinister forces. Can she survive this harrowing investigation and what price will she have to pay for the truth?

I have two copies of Deception Creek by Fleur McDonald to give away.

Emma Cameron, a recently divorced farmer and a local in Barker, runs Deception Creek, the farm that three generations of her family have owned before her. Every day Emma pushes herself hard on the land, hoping to make ten-year-old memories of a terrible car accident disappear. And now there are more recent nightmares of an ex-husband who refuses to understand how much the farm means to Emma.

When criminal Joel Hammond is released from jail and heads home to Barker, Detective Dave Burrows and his officer Senior Sergeant Jack Higgins are on high alert. Joel has a long and sorry history with many of the townsfolk and they are not keen to see him home to stay.

Not all of the Barker locals want to see Joel run out of town though. Some even harbour doubts about Joel's conviction. The town finds itself split down the middle, families pitted against each other with devastating outcomes

Five Bush Weddings by Clare Fletcher

As a photographer, Stevie’s been to enough bush weddings to last a lifetime. When’s it going to be all about her?

With her ex soon to be married, her mum back on the dating scene, and her best friend threatening to settle down with the Most Boring Man Alive, Stevie is feeling left behind.

To top it off, her old uni mate Johnno West, whom she hasn’t seen for years, keeps turning up as best man at Stevie’s jobs. And he is looking so good.

Perhaps their youthful pact – that if they were both still single in their early thirties they’d get together – is not so crazy after all?

Then the enigmatic Charlie Jones walks into the frame …

Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult (ARC)

Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father's beekeeping business.

Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.

And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can she trust him completely . . .

Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.

Keeping Up Appearances by Tricia Stringer

As tensions simmer in a small country town, three women are going to need more than CWA sausage rolls and can-do community spirit to put things right. From a bestselling Australian author comes a delightful novel full of practical wisdom and dry humour that examines female friendship, buried secrets and why honesty is (usually) the best policy.

Privacy is hard to maintain in Badara, the kind of small Australian country town where everyone knows everyone else's business. So discovers single mum Paige when she and her three children arrive from the city seeking refuge. Paige's only respite from child care and loneliness is the Tuesday gym club, where she had feared the judgement of the town matriarchs, but she is met only with generosity and a plethora of baked goods. Besides, both the brusque Marion and her polished sister-in-law Briony are too busy dealing with their own dramas to examine hers.

Well-to-do farmer's wife and proud mother Briony is in full denial of her family's troubles. Even with her eldest daughter's marriage in ruins and her son Blake's recent bombshell. Suddenly Briony and husband Vince have a full house again - and the piles of laundry aren't the only dirty linen that's about to be aired.

For Marion, the unearthing of a time capsule - its contents to be read at the Celebrate Badara weekend - is a disaster. She was only a teenager when she wrote down those poisonous words, but that doesn't mean she won't lose friends and family if they hear what she really thinks of them - especially as the letter reveals their darkest secrets to the world.

When the truth comes out for Badara, keeping up appearances may no longer be an option for anyone ...


This giveaway will close at 6pm on 24th November 2022 and the winners will be notified by email.