Monday 28 February 2022

Mailbox Monday - February 28th

 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!

The heat of last month has been replaced by rain, rain and more rain. One advantage is that the lawn is looking lush and green.

Below are some photos of what I've been up to over the last month.

The local shopping centre had a dragon dance exhibition. I have an irrational fear of people dressed up in costumes so this photo was taken far away from the actual dancers.

The lovely thing about rain is the rainbows after.

 Jay started school this year and has taken it all in his stride.

My son got married last weekend. Top photo: My son and his new wife. Bottom photo: My husband and I. I'm happy to take a break from weddings for a while now. 😀


 Books I purchased and received for review during February 
Review books

Summer at Kangaroo Ridge by Nicole Hurley-Moore

Lily Harford's Last Request - Joanna Buckley

Brunswick Street Blues - Sally Bothroyd

Snowy Mountains Cattleman - Alissa Callen

Mothers and Daughters - Erica James

With This Kiss - Carrie Hope Fletcher

So Many Beats of the Heart - Carrie Cox

My purchases

Again Rachel - Marian Keyes

Letters From the Past - Erica James
 Children's books for review

 Trains, Trains, Trains! - Donna David

The Magical Girls Guide to Life - Jacque Aye

Dinosaur Squeak! - Peter Curtis

Dinosaur Honk! - Peter Curtis
The Lolly Shop #2 (Dex the Bilby) - L,B & E Hackney 

What has arrived in your mailbox lately?



Saturday 26 February 2022

Spotlight: The Kindness of Birds by Merlinda Bobis

The Kindness of Birds
Merlinda Bobis
Publisher: Spinifex Press
Publication date: 4th May 2021
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 256
Format: Paperback
RRP: AU $26.95 / NZ $33.95 / US $24.95
About the book
An oriole sings to a dying father. A bleeding-heart dove saves the day. A crow wakes a woman’s resolve. Owls help a boy endure isolation. Cockatoos attend the laying of the dead. Always there are birds in these linked stories that pay homage to kindness and the kinship among women and the planet. From Australia to the Philippines, across cultures and species, kindness inspires resilience amidst loss and grief. Being together ignites resistance against violence. We pull through in the company of others.
An anthology of 14 linked short stories that readers will find deeply moving and heartfelt.
Merlinda Bobis is an utterly distinctive voice in Australian letters. In our ironic and cynical times, here are stories of heartfelt feeling - fulsome, tender and unabashed - in which grief and hope are equally things with feathers - Gail Jones, award-winning novelist. 
About the author
Award-winning writer Merlinda Bobis has had four novels, six poetry books, and a collection of short stories published, and ten dramatic works performed. Her novel Locust Girl, A Lovesong received the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction in the NSW Premier's Literary Awards and the Philippine National Book Award. Her poetry collection Accidents of Composition was Highly Commended for the ACT Book of the Year Award. For her, writing is homecoming: a return to roots, a retrieval through memory, and a reckoning with loss hopefully with care and grace. 


Wednesday 23 February 2022

Book Review: Midnight in the Snow by Karen Swan

 Midnight in the Snow
Karen Swan
An unstoppable connection. A secret that will change everything.
Publication date: 14th October 2021

Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 480
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
My review
Every year I eagerly await Karen Swan's Christmas release. Whilst Australia is sweltering through summer heat I can escape to somewhere cold and, most often, snowy.
Midnight in the Snow is set in the Austrian Alps in the lead up to Christmas Day. Journalist Clover Phillips is riding high on the success of her documentary on ex-surfing great, Cory Albright - Cory had suffered a near drowning and subsequent brain injury, whilst competing. 
Karen Swan highlights how close a journalist gets with the family they are working with as Clover spent many months living with Cory, his wife and their three sons.
Wanting to follow with an equally explosive documentary Clover decides to go after Kit Foley, Cory's nemesis and the cause of his accident. Foley has left the surfing world and is now focused on snowboarding, where he is making his name known.
Our two main characters, Clover and Kit, had a real hate for each other and I love a good enemies to lovers trope. However I would have liked a lot more emotion and sexual friction between them. It was there, but it was very sparse.
I loved the portrayal of the two main characters; Clover was determined and relentless, she wanted her story, and Kit the po-surfer turned snowboarder was hostile, insular and aloof.
It's not until you dig deep that you get the real story and Clover is prepared to dig, but what she finds even shocks her.
The setting imagery was, as always, amazing and I enjoyed the little peek into the professional sports world. Some of the twists I'd guessed early on but there were also some that took me by surprise. 
And then there are  those little snatches of poetic prose that make Swan's writing so evocative.
my rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 About the author
Karen Swan is the Sunday Times top three bestselling author of twenty-one 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 winter titles include Christmas at Tiffany's , The Christmas Party and Together by Christmas, and for summer, The Spanish Promise, The Hidden Beach and The Secret Path.
Previously a fashion editor, she lives in Sussex with her husband, three children and two dogs.

Click on the covers to read my review


Monday 21 February 2022

Book giveaway: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

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Thanks to the generosity of The Reading Nook online bookstore I have a great #giveaway today for 1 of 2 paperback copies of:
The Midnight Library
Matt Haig


'Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?'

A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig's enchanting novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Thanks to The Reading Nook I have two copies of The Midnight Library to giveaway.

Enter via the form below. (Open to Australian addresses only). Entries close at midnight on 28th February 2022. 
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced HERE

Winners of a copy of Murder Most Fancy by Kellie McCourt announced!!


A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for 1 of 2 copies of Murder Most Fancy.  I had a massive 329 entries and I am trying to source more giveaways for my subscribers. The giveaway closed on the 19th February and the winners were randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........   Anita & Jo Burke


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

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

I have another giveaway running now for

Thursday 17 February 2022

Book Review: Who Sleuthed It? Edited by Lindy Cameron

 Who Sleuthed It?
edited by Lindy Cameron
Fingers and feelers and paws and wings,

Solving thrillers and chillers and secretive things!
Publication date: 1st September 2021 

Genre: Crime Anthology
Pages: 340
RRP: $29.95 AUD
Format read: Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 
My review
I do enjoy anthologies! I like that I can read a short story here and there and it's instant gratification.
Who Sleuthed It? is a collection of stories connected by the theme of animal sleuths. 
It did include a wide range of sub-genres within the crime genre and I am not a fan of paranormal however there were 19 stories in all so don't be put off by the fact some may be a genre you don't read. A short story may also be a good way to give something different a try.
All stories had a mystery at their core. I enjoyed more the stories where the animals retained their animal mannerisms, but could communicate with each other, over the stories where the animal characters took on human mannerisms.
Many of the stories included an element of humour which always appeals to me. Because the stories are so short it is quick to move on to the next one if one doesn't appeal.
Overall my rating averaged out to 4 stars over the 19 stories and there were plenty of 5 star reads in there.
Who Sleuthed It? is a fun collection of stories that will appeal to animal lovers and crime readers alike. I also discovered a few new authors that I am now keen to seek out their full length novels. 
My rating 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the authors
List of contributing authors. There may be a few names here you already know.
Louisa Bennet - Australian
Lindy Cameron - Australian
Kat Clay - Australian
Livia Day - Australian
Jack Fennell - Irish
David Greagg - Australian
Kerry Greenwood - Australian
Narrelle M. Harris - Australian
Craig Hilton - Australian
Meg Keneally - Australian
C.J. McGumbleberry - American
Chuck McKenzie - Australian
Atlin Merrick - American
Dr. L.J.M. Owen - Australian
GV Pearce - British
Vikki Petraitis - Australian
Fin J Ross - Australian
Tor Roxburgh - Australian
Elizabeth Ann Scarborough - American 

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Book Review: Butterflies In Me by Denisha Seals

Butterflies in Me
Denisha Seals
Illustrated by Gabhor Utomo

An anthology bringing awareness to mental health 
Publisher: Boys Town Press

Publication date: 14th May 2018 - rereleased 2022
Genre: Children's / Middle Grade 

Pages: 92

Format read: eBook

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Smith Publicity

My review
Butterflies in Me is a collection of short stories that focus on some common, yet challenging, mental health conditions in children.
The book covers an array of circumstances children may find themselves in; such as domestic abuse, PTSD, bullying, anxiety, ADHD and depression. Seals uses simple language and short stories making them child friendly.
Denisha Seals includes coping skills in her stories and avenues children can go through if they need help.
I liked that the happy endings came eventually but not immediately, as mental health issues take time to work through.
Each story is written in 1st person, narrated by the children, which gives a stronger connection to the child, making it more relatable to children reading the book.
Javier and his mother are abused by his stepfather. he is offered help from a trusted source (in this case a teacher) and he and his mother are directed to people trained to help in these situations.
Kenya is disfigured and bullied. Her anxiety becomes all consuming. When she opens up to her father he takes her to see a doctor who helps her.
Abbas has ADHD. He can't concentrate at school and his self worth is destroyed. He is helped with a simple explanation of his condition and tactics to employ to help him stay focused.
Lulu falls into a deep depression after her beloved grandmother dies. When she see a therapist she is given coping strategies to see her through this time of grief.
Each story ends with the catchphrase "I am special, strong, and I did nothing wrong." 
The stories are enhanced by Gabhor Utomo's vivid watercolour illustrations from each child's life and images from their imagination.
Butterflies in Me would be an ideal book to be used in schools and for child therapists. 
My rating 5 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

DENISHA SEALS is an artist, filmmaker and author who uses the power of her pen to lift the voices of the marginalized and victimized. A survivor of childhood sexual abuse and trauma, she advocates for more awareness and understanding of the emotional toll abuse victims experience, particularly children of color. Her uplifting stories inspire readers to be strong, fearless and full of hope.

About the illustrator
GABHOR UTOMO was born in Indonesia. He moved to California in 1997 to become an artist. He received his degree from Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and now works as a freelance artist. Gabhor, his wife, Dina, and his twin daughters live in Portland, Oregon.


Saturday 12 February 2022

Book Review & Giveaway: Murder Most Fancy by Kellie McCourt

Murder Most Fancy
Kellie McCourt 
She really didn't mean to become a detective....
Imprint: HQ Fiction
Publication date: 5th January 2022 

Series: Indigo #2
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 464
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: Uncorrected Advanced Copy
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
My review
Socialite turned unwilling sleuth Indigo-Daisy-Violet-Amber Hasluck-Royce-Jones-Bomberg is back again in this madcap murder mystery.
In Murder Most Fancy Indigo literally falls over a body in her grandmother's garden. The man by all appearances looks to be homeless and Grandmother's neighbour, Dame Elizabeth Holly, asks Indigo and her personal assistant Esmerelda to unearth the man's identity so she can give him a decent burial. As the pair use their unconventional means of investigation the mystery thickens, and could someone be trying to kill them?
I haven't read the first book in this series, Heiress on Fire and I didn't feel like I had missed anything, so I would say this reads well as a standalone.
Murder Most Fancy is a fun read filled with humour and wry wit. A diverse cast of characters combine to deliver a story that's not all about high society and name dropping. Indigo is well portrayed as the overindulgent rich girl. However, she is perfectly offset with her sidekick Esmerelda, who is laid-back and unassuming. 
I found it hard to get a hold on Esmerelda's character. She was a whole bunch of contradictions. She quite often had no idea what was going on around her but she was street wise, tech savvy and intelligent. I think Kellie McCourt has done a wonderful job of writing such a complex character and I am sure she will be the favourite of many readers.
I loved the way each character had a partnering character with an opposite personality; Indigo and Esmerelda, also the two grandmothers, with Indigo's grandmother firm and no nonsense whilst Dame Elizabeth was softer and manipulated with kindness, showing opposites can get along and make lasting friendships.

At times I found the story was a bit too wordy however this could be easily overlooked when the wordiness was so funny.
Murder Most Fancy is an addictive murder mystery filled with a diverse cast of likeable characters and shenanigans that will have you laughing out loud.

My rating 4 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Credit: Harper Collins
 Kellie McCourt has worked as a national and international television anchor, scriptwriter, producer and reporter. Kellie is also an experienced print journalist and magazine editor.

She has a double BA in Journalism and Creative Writing from Curtin University, studied journalism in SE Asia and completed a postgrad scholarship program at UNSW. Alas, her mother is still waiting for her to 'get a real job', like a lawyer. Or an accountant.

Kellie had a misspent youth as a wayward socialite, and loves shoes, friends, reading, shoes and baked goods.

Kellie is passionate about creating entertaining, gender empowering stories. She lives in Sydney with her two amazing young daughters, and two poodles. 
I have two copies of Murder Most Fancy to give away to two lucky readers.
Entry is open to Australian addresses only and close at midnight on 19th February 2022.
Entry via the form below. 
This giveaway is now closed and the winners were announced HERE

Monday 7 February 2022

Book Review: I Hate Nothing About You by Ella Sparkle

I Hate Nothing About You
Ella Sparkle 
Publisher: Cherry Publishing
Publication date: 29th July 2021
Series: Stormy Love 2
Genre: New Adult Romance 

Pages: 242
RRP: $6.75AUD (Kindle)
Format read: eBook
Source: Courtesy of the publisher
My review
I Hate Nothing About You is book two in the Stormy Love series. Book one Saying Yes was Jenna and Nick's story and Cassie is Jenna's best friend.
I loved Cassie, she was outspoken, zany and fun with a fondness for profanity. Her support of Jenna in book one endeared me to her. I knew life hadn't always been easy for her and was eager to read her story.
We know from book one that Cassie meets Mike at the pizza shop where Jenna is working, but we only get scant facts from Cassie talking to Jenna. Book two is from Cassie and Mike's alternating point of view.
 Cassie finds it hard to love someone because during her life love always ended in hurt. These feelings are portrayed through her talks with her therapist and she has a lot of trauma to work through.
Mike is a wonderful love interest, a nice guy and very respectful, although he lacked communication skills which caused some upsets. 

I Hate Nothing About You has everything I love in a romance; a bit of angst, the inevitable road hump, lack of communication and then finally the HEA.

Ella's writing is engaging and I Hate Nothing About You is a heart-warming story that tells us communication is essential to every relationship and there are always two sides to every story.

my rating 5 / 5  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author
A life-long love of reading coupled with pandemic lockdown is what initially prompted Ella to finally take all the stories floating around in her head and put them together on paper.

Ella writes the kinds of romance stories she likes to read with sexy, funny, nice guys and strong, smart, sassy women... tossing in a healthy dose of awkwardness, a whole lot of drama, a sprinkle of comedy, a ride on the emotional roller coaster and a little bit of sparkle for everyone.
As a firm believer in true love, Ella's romance stories always result in a "happily ever after".... it's just an adventure getting there.
Ella is living out her own happily ever after with her Prince Charming. After seventeen years together he still gives her butterflies and makes her heart race. They live together with their children, small dogs, and a big black cat who has deemed herself queen of the castle.

Tuesday 1 February 2022

Mailbox Monday - January 31st

 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. I'm late again with this post. It has been way too hot to sit at a computer.
Mailbox Monday now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday Blog

Happy Monday Tuesday!
It has been so hot and humid in Sydney this month I haven't spent much time at the computer and I haven't done much reading either. My thoughts are with my readers in eastern North America who have suffered devastating snow storms. Whether it be by heat, fires, storms or snow the weather can be unpredictable and destructive.
January is school holidays in Australia and below are a few pics of what we have been up to.

 Books I received during January for review

I couldn't resist buying these books simply for their vivid sprayed edges.

Do you ever buy books just for the cover or other exclusive features?