Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Book Review: The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane

 The Sun Walks Down


Fiona McFarlane

Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication date: 5th October 2022
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Pages: 416 (Paperback)
RRP: $32.99AU
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of The Sun Walks Down

The Sun Walks Down is an evocative story of unsettledness, dispossession and survival in a harsh, arid land, all centred around the search for a six-year-old boy lost in the desert.
McFarlane is a skilled writer who has penned a powerful period story set over one week during September 1883. The author keenly depicts the impact the ruthlessness the desert region of Australia has on individuals and families. 

A wide and varying cast of nuanced characters are introduced in this predominantly character driven novel. The reader is given a thorough insight into their feelings for the land and each other. I found it hard to develop a connection to any of the characters, even the lost boy, as the story flits back and forth with no real focus on any one family or character. I did however feel a connection to the land through McFarlane's descriptions of the remoteness and bleakness of the setting. I liked the inclusion of the strange blood red sunsets and how the characters frequently mentioned its ominous feel which is such a comparison to today where catastrophic events of nature are immediately communicated around the world through electronic means. We no longer have that awe or confusion over unusual solar activity.

The story was a touch slow for me but if you are a lover of beautiful writing and literary fiction I am sure The Sun Walks Down will be a book you will enjoy.

My rating 3 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Fiona McFarlane is the author of the novel The Night Guest, which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and a collection of short stories, The High Places, which won the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Her short fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Best Australian Stories and Zoetrope: All-Story. Born in Sydney, Fiona teaches creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley.

Book Review: Second Fleet Baby by Nadia Rhook

 Second Fleet Baby


Nadia Rhook

Publisher: Fremantle Press
Publication date: 2nd August 2022
Genre: Poetry 
Pages: 104 (Paperback)
RRP: $29.99AU
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Second Fleet Baby

Second Fleet Baby is a collection of poems that examine birth and motherhood spanning the centuries from 18th Century convict women to women of today,  conceiving and giving birth during a pandemic.
These poems are of a literary nature and I found them hard to understand. It was helpful that some came with a footnote explanation. I feel the poems are something to be read in a group setting, leaving an avenue for discussion which would bring greater understanding.

I am going to just leave it here with the back cover blurb which describes the book much better than I can.

Drawing on the energies of 18th century English convict women, including Rhook's own ancestors, Second Fleet Baby opens raw questions on belonging. In this collection, 'mother' is narrated as a long process of becoming. Through stories of childhood, fertility, and of nurturing new life during a pandemic, Rhook casts off the patriarchal weight of history, pulling origins 'from the seabed to the surface'.

Praise for the book

Extraordinary craftswomanship, tender yet piercing stories of nation-building and child bearing, intricately woven together by hand of an astute and fearless poet. - Elfie Shiosaki

In these wide-ranging, self-questioning, imaginative poems, Rhook tracks how colonisation works against and through the bodies of women. The poems are shaped by a rare combination of judgement and compassion - Lisa Gorton

Friday, 17 March 2023

Book Review: Becoming Mrs Mulberry by Jackie French

 Becoming Mrs Mulberry


Jackie French

Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 8th March 2023
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 512
RRP: $32.99AU (Paperback)
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Becoming Mrs Mulberry

Becoming Mrs Mulberry, set in the picturesque Blue Mountains region of NSW post WWI, is a story of compassion and the healing power of nature.

Jackie French, through Agnes, highlights the fight women endured to become doctors. Agnes had to study and qualify in Edinburgh before she could return to Australia and join her father in general practice.

At the plea of her best friend Hortense (Puddin' to her friends), Agnes forgoes her career and marries Puddin's shell shocked brother to save the family fortune from their greedy uncle. Douglas was to be declared insane and committed to an asylum.

Agnes and Douglas move to his property in the secluded Blue Mountains region of Australia. The quiet surroundings and the natural environment, along with Agnes' care, see Douglas slowly heal. Agnes uses her new found wealth to supply a calm and accepting escape for the men and women disfigured by war.

I was totally shocked by the way returned soldiers, greatly disfigured while fighting for their country, were locked away and treated badly, called freaks and misfits, completely disregarding their physical and mental suffering.

Becoming Mrs Mulberry is both heart-wrenching and up-lifting. Agnes' humility and compassion brought tears to my eyes, more than once.
Agnes was taught to look for people who were suffering and try to help them. Money brings power - it's how you use that power that counts.

It's not all heart-wrenching scenes; there are plenty of humorous moments with characters like Private Private, the naturist who discarded society and his clothes, also the appearance of a wombat who has a knicker fetish.

Becoming Mrs Mulberry also has an interweaving story about a young child who Agnes saves from a circus freak exhibition. The child is grossly deformed however Agnes feels she can cure her. The circus owners call the child Dingo, saying she was brought up by dingoes.
If you have ever attended a talk by Jackie French you will know she is a passionate person and that passion shines through in her writing.  
I truly think Becoming Mrs Mulberry will be one of my top reads for the year. If you only read one book this year - make it this one!

My rating 5 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Jackie French AM is an award-winning author, historian and ecologist. She was the 2014-2015 Australian Children's Laureate and the 2015 Senior Australian of the year. In 2016 Jackie became a Member of the Order of Australia for her significant contribution to literature and youth literacy. She is regarded as one of Australia's most popular authors with her vast body of work crossing from fiction, non-fiction, picture books, ecology, fantasy and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction.

Thursday, 16 March 2023

Book Review: Royals by Tegan Bennett Daylight



Tegan Bennett Daylight

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 3rd May 2023
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 280
RRP: $19.99AU (Paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley

My review of Royals

Royals by Tegan Bennett Daylight is probably not a book I would normally pick up, however I was sent a request from the publisher and it sounded a little quirky, and I enjoy books that are a bit different.
A group of teenagers find themselves locked in a shopping centre, all technology frozen. I loved the concept of this story! The teenagers don't know each other and there are no phones, which means no texting, no Snapchat, no Instagram. They are going to have to talk to each other, face to face!! 🀯
Tegan Bennett Daylight has used a group of Western Sydney teenagers as her protagonists. I think the author is showing a side to these teens we don't often hear. They are responsible and basically kindhearted. A  group of kids who wouldn't normally hang-out together were forced to rely on each other. 

The story bogged down a little in the middle and it was a little contrived with its range of diversity but I was happy to let that all slip by because I loved the magical realism element and how the teens opened up to each other and that the whole story was so quirky and we weren't given any reason for the whole thing. The book finishes and the reader is still left with a why. When I finished reading I was like "what just happened"!! 
My rating 4 / 5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended age: 12+
Allusion to sex
Underage drinking

About the author

Photograph © Tegan Bennett Daylight
Tegan Bennett Daylight is a writer, teacher and critic. Her books include the Stella Award shortlisted Six Bedrooms and the novels Safety and Bombora.  She lives in the Blue Mountains with her husband and two children.


Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Book Review: The Tower by Carol Lefevre

 The Tower


Carol Lefevre

Publisher: Spinifex Press

Publication date: 4th October 2022

Genre: Women's Fiction

Pages: 256 (Paperback)

RRP: $32.95AU

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via RM Marketing 

My review of The Tower

I had previously enjoyed Carol Lefevre's novella Murmurations so was looking forward to reading her latest offering.
The Tower is an eclectic collection of short stories that are connected and bound together by themes of grief, betrayal, ageing and a need to belong. Carol Lefevre writes heartfelt stories about strong women who battle through adversity.
Widowed after a long marriage, Dorelia sells the family home and buys a house with a tower; a place to unwind, find peace and rewrite the stories of older women treated poorly by literature. Her three grown children, although busy with their own lives, feel the need to advise Dorelia on how to live her life.
This collection has stories of love, loss and the highs and lows of motherhood, all wrapped around themes of ageing and finding inner peace.
Every alternate story features Dorelia, her move to the tower, her battles with her well-meaning daughters and reminiscences of her younger years.
When I first started the book I didn't feel the connection between the stories, other than the theme of motherhood and loss, but as I read on and names from one story appeared in another the connections between the characters became clearer and the stories became more cohesive.
The Tower, although a collection of short stories, reads a lot like a novel and even has a few twisty surprises throughout.
Deeply imagined and vividly portrayed The Tower is a book that will speak to your heart.
My rating 4 / 5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐  
About the author
Carol Lefevre holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide, where she is a Visiting Research Fellow. Her novel Nights in the Asylum, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, won the Nita B. Kibble Award for Women Writers, and the People’s Choice Award. If You Were Mine (2008) was published by Vintage. She has published short fiction, essays, and journalism, and a non-fiction book, Quiet City: walking in West Terrace Cemetery (Wakefield Press, 2016). She has written two books with Spinifex Press - The Happiness Glass and Murmurations.

Winner of a copy of The Manuscript announced!!


A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a paperback copy of The Manuscript by Lucy Bloom.   The giveaway closed on the 15th March 2023 and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........  Caroline
The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.
Thank you to Flamingo Publishing and DMCPRMedia for sponsoring this giveaway. 
Please check under the Giveaway tab for more great giveaways!  

Tuesday, 14 March 2023

Book Review: The House of Now and Then by Jo Dixon

 The House of Now and Then


Jo Dixon

A lonely house. A missing boy. A long-held secret.
Publisher: Harlequin Australia

Publication date: 4th January 2023
Genre: Crime / Mystery
Pages: 432
RRP: $29.99AU (Paperback) 
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of The House of Now and Then

The House of Now and Then is a compelling mystery read, with plot twists that had me reeling.
Narrated in dual time-lines; the now being 2017 with Olivia living in Eloise's secluded house in the Tasmanian bush; then, is 30 years earlier in 1985 with friends Jeremy, Pippa and Rebecca house-sitting for Eloise in the same house.

Eloise's architecturally designed house is a central part of the story. For Olivia it is a secluded place to hide from a scandal that has destroyed her life. The three young friends are there to enjoy time together before Jeremy moves to England.

Jo Dixon builds empathy in her readers before disclosing Olivia's scandalous past so you can't help but be on her side. Jeremy, Pippa and Rebecca are fun loving and easy to like but tensions start to build between the three as the story progresses and Pippa meets Leo and brings him into the group.
The two plot-lines play out separately and I was intrigued as to how they would connect.
As Olivia is pulled into the mystery of Leo's disappearance she starts to open up to the people of the small rural town finding friendship and acceptance.

I love it when you open a book that is impossible to put down! The House of Now and Then has a mystery that is so thick there isn't a hint of what's going on. I felt a real compulsion to get to the end and find out the truth behind the disappearance and if Olivia could move on from her past mistakes and reclaim her life.

The House of Now and Then is an intriguing read with decades old secrets, compelling twists and a host of flawed, but real, characters.
This is a powerful debut by Jo Dixon and I'm looking forward to seeing what she delivers next!

My rating 5/5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Over ten years ago, Jo moved from suburban Brisbane to rural Tasmania. Since then, she's been wrangling an ever-growing collection of animals, bringing up two sons, and attempting to transform blackberry-infested paddocks into beautiful gardens. Now, she also writes full-time, creating twisty, suspenseful stories. The House of Now and Then is her debut novel. She is now working on her second book.

Wednesday, 8 March 2023

Book Review & Giveaway: The Manuscript by Lucy Bloom

 The Manuscript


Lucy Bloom

A story of revenge

Publisher: Flamingo Publishing

Publication date: 1st March 2023

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Pages: 368 Paperback

RRP: $32.99AU

Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPR Media

My review of The Manuscript

The Manuscript wasn't at all what I expected, although it was still an entertaining read.

Accomplished author Edith Scott, recently divorced, wishes to shake-up her life. She starts meeting men through dating apps and also decides to switch her writing genre from historical drama to thriller.

She goes on many dates, falling for some and simply befriending others. When some of the men in her life treat her badly she decides to kill them off through her characters, obtaining a literary revenge. Little does she know that karma is dealing with them in real life.

Bloom is an advocate for women and there is quite a feminist lean to the story but not all Edith's male interests are cads. There are those that simply make wrong decisions and one that is totally chivalrous.

Cleverly plotted with interweaving loops and connections that will leave you speechless. No character is safe from Bloom's authorial sword.

The Manuscript is candid, raw and intriguing; filled with laugh-out-loud moments it also has depth, with a lot of fact mixed in with the fiction.
I did however find it hard to connect with Edith, she came across as self-centred. Edith's best friend Rachel was a fabulous supporting character; married with children she lived vicariously through Edith's adventures.

There are some profanities but they are not gratuitous.

My rating 3/5    ⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Lucy Bloom was born in Africa. She is an international keynote speaker and consulting CEO with a background in advertising and international aid. She has three teenage children and is the author of two other books: a childbirth guide for men and her memoir, Get the Girls Out. The Manuscript is her debut novel. 


Thanks to The Publisher and DMCPR Media I have one paperback copy of The Manuscript to give away. Entry is via the form below. Entries closed at 6pm AEDT on 15th March 2023.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced here:  https://theburgeoningbookshelf.blogspot.com/2023/03/winner-of-copy-of-manuscript-announced.html

Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Book Review: Snowy Mountains Promise by Alissa Callen

 Snowy Mountains Promise


Alissa Callen

A town scandal. A kelpie chaperone. A winter ball.
The bush telegraph has never had so much to talk about.....
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 1st February 2023
Series: Bundilla #3
Genre: Rural Romance
Pages: 370
RRP: $29.99AU Paperback
Source: Uncorrected proof courtesy of the publisher

My review of Snowy Mountains Promise

I know when I pick up a book by Alissa Callen I am in for a treat and Snowy Mountains Promise was no exception.
I loved being back in the town of Bundilla! Bundy the dog has been shadowing Taite lately and everyone in town knows when Bundy is around change is in the air, and it just so happens Brenna's friend Hettie is also in town. ( For those that haven't read Alissa's books, Bundy is the town's dog he belongs to nobody and everybody. He knows exactly who needs him and is known to do a bit of matchmaking himself).
Taite and Hettie are both introverts and whilst Taite is holding on to deep hurt over his father's death, Hettie is not going to push herself on Taite when he is, obviously, not interested. This makes for a very angsty romance, which isn't usually my thing, but Callen makes it more compelling by adding a crime mystery element and a long held secret that Hettie is determined to uncover.
The books can be read alone but you will get such a thrill when you read them in publication order and characters you've grown to love pop up in subsequent books.
Both the rural setting and characters of Snowy Mountains Promise are delightfully portrayed with everyday snippets of farming and social life along with the matchmaking attempts of the women's quilting club and the humour of the men ribbing each other over this fact. 
In Snowy Mountains Promise Alissa Callen picks you up and places you right in the centre of this small-town community enveloping you in the warmth and welcome of her characters. 
My rating 5/5    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author
When USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen isn't writing, she plays traffic controller to four children, three dogs, two horses and one renegade cow who believes the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. After a childhood spent chasing sheep on the family farm, Alissa has always been drawn to remote areas and small towns, even when residing overseas. She is partial to autumn colours, snowy peaks and historic homesteads and will drive hours to see an open garden. Once a teacher and a counsellor, she remains interested in the life journeys that people take. She draws inspiration from the countryside around her, whether it be the brown snake at her back door or the resilience of bush communities in times of drought or flood. Her books are characteristically heartwarming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW.
Other books I've read by Alissa Callen

Book Review: I Belong to No One by Gwen Wilson

 I Belong to No One


Gwen Wilson

Publisher: Hachette Australia
Publication day: 1st January 2015
Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir
Pages: 314
Source: Own purchase

My review of I Belong to No One

I found Gwen Wilson's memoir riveting. The writing flowed well making it an easy read. However, I didn't think the life she portrays in the book was that harrowing, or much different to any low socioeconomic families of that era.

Brought up by a single mother with mental health problems Gwen explains how neighbours and family often took her in. She was an intelligent and fiery young girl who wasn't afraid of hard work.
I few bad decisions and a stubborn personality sees Gwen hit rock bottom; pregnant and unemployed.

I Belong to No One is heart-wrenching in its reading. Although the author has spared her readers the graphic details of abuse she still manages to clearly portray the injustices and inequality suffered by women in the 70's.
Wilson is an inspiration to all in the way she turned her life around, offered forgiveness and moved forward.

My rating 3/5         ⭐⭐⭐

About the author (from the front of the book)

Gwen Wilson started writing her memoir in her fifties. Essentially self-educated, Gwen worked as a motel receptionist, dental nurse and switchboard operator until at nineteen, in the exciting days of the pre-container era, a chance opportunity saw her land a role in customs clearance on the male-dominated Port Adelaide waterfront. A stable marriage and a successful career in shipping and logistics followed until she retired, after which Gwen entered university for the first time and now holds a Master's degree in Electronic Commerce. Gwen and husband Bill live in Wollongong, New South Wales.

Challenges: Mount TBR challenge (on my shelf since October 2015)
                    Non Fiction readers challenge (memoir)

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Book Review: Taken by Dinuka McKenzie



Dinuka McKenzie

Detective Kate Miles #2

Publisher: Harper Collins Aus
Publication date: 1st February 2023
Series: Det. Kate Miles #2 

Genre: Crime / Mystery

Pages: 327

Source: Netgalley

My review of Taken

Just what I needed, I finished it in two days! Taken is a fabulous read that kept me glued to the pages. 

A young baby goes missing a Det Kate Miles leads the case. This is the second book in the series but I didn't feel like I had missed out on anything.

Kate has a lot going on in her life and she seems to be struggling but she always finds time to help others, often to the detriment of her own family time.

Kate brushes of racist remarks and battles misogynists while her personal life is threatening to derail her career as she worries that her father may be implicated in a corruption scandal.
Through Kate, Dinuka McKenzie highlights the struggle for all mothers returning to the paid workforce and the guilt this entails as they juggle being a wife, mother, daughter and employee.

Detective Kate Miles is a skillfully developed character; she makes bad decisions, thinks with her heart and struggles with the challenges life throws at her.
Taken is a well-rounded crime, mystery with themes of domestic abuse and the overwhelming expectations of motherhood.
Taken, book two in the Kate Miles series, is a fast paced and deftly plotted police procedural that reads well as a stand-alone.

I am pleased to have found a new series to follow with a relatable protagonist at its heart.

My rating 4/5       ⭐⭐⭐⭐

About the author

Dinuka McKenzie is an Australian writer. Her debut crime novel, The Torrent, won the HarperCollins Australia 2020 Banjo Prize. Her then-unpublished manuscript Taken was longlisted for the 2020 Richell Prize. When not writing, Dinuka works in the environmental sector and volunteers as part of the team behind the Writers Unleashed Festival. She lives in southern Sydney with her husband, two kids and their pet chicken.


Sunday, 19 February 2023

Book Review: Retribution by Sarah Barrie



Sarah Barrie

Once a vigilante, she's now a cop....who doesn't play by the rules
Publisher: Harlequin Australia
Publication date: 30th November 2022
Series: Lexie Winter #2
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 347
RRP: $32.99 Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

My review of Retribution

Retribution is book two in the Lexi Winter series and opens with Lexi newly graduated from the Police Academy. Even though Retribution can be read as a stand-alone I would recommend reading Unforgiven as it will give you a good grasp of who Lexi is and where she has come from.
Currently assigned to Wyong Police Station, Lexi is hell bent on bringing down a notorious drug family, single-handedly if need be.
Retribution isn't quite as disturbing and hard-hitting as Unforgiven and starts off as a bit of a slow burn. I was wondering if it was going to match up to Unforgiven. I needn't have worried. As the story progresses the pace quickens and the tension rises, along with the body count.
Lexi plays by her own rules and everyone else has to fall in line. She gets results!
I really enjoyed the setting of Wyong, Woy Woy and Wondabyne, on the New South Wales central coast, as I know these areas and could picture them.
There are two cases under investigation; one is the murder of a building company owner and the other is bringing down the drug empire.
I thought it would be hard for Barrie to follow with another crime thriller that's as gritty and suspenseful as Unforgiven but when the tension in Retribution hits out of nowhere and the twists start coming all I could think was, Sarah Barrie has done it again!  
My rating 4.5/5       ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
About the author
Photo credit:Goodreads
Sarah Barrie is the author of nine novels, including her bestselling print debut Secrets of Whitewater Creek, the Hunters Ridge and Calico Mountain trilogies, and a new crime series starring Constable Lexi Winter. In a past life, while gaining degrees in arts, science and education, Sarah worked as a teacher, a vet nurse, a horse trainer and a magazine editor, before deciding she wanted to write novels. About the only thing that has remained constant is her love of all things crime.
Her favourite place in the world is the family property, where she writes her stories overlooking mountains crisscrossed with farmland, bordered by the beauty of the Australian bush, and where, at the end of the day, she can spend time with family, friends, a good Irish whiskey and a copy of her next favourite book. 

Winner of a copy of Crows Nest announced!!


A huge thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a paperback copy of Crows Nest by Nikki Mottram.   The giveaway closed on the 18th February 2023 and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to........  Madison Cutler
The winner has been notified and has seven days to provide a mailing address.
Thank you to University of Queensland Press and DMCPRMedia for sponsoring this giveaway. 
Please check under the Giveaway tab for more great giveaways! 

Monday, 13 February 2023

Book Review: Twenty-Six Letters by Charlotte Nash

Twenty-Six Letters


Charlotte Nash

A bundle of secrets.
A mother she never knew.
A future she never dreamed. 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Publication date: 2nd August 2022
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 424
RRP: $32.99AU Paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher 

My review of Twenty-Six Letters

Twenty-Six Letters is a heartfelt mother/daughter relationship that plays out posthumously as Wilhelmina (Wil) gets to know her mother through letters she wrote before she died.

The story opens with a 30 year old Wil. She is a bit of a mess, partying too hard and unreliable. She always  seems to be in some sort of trouble and her father has had enough. He threatens to kick her out if she messes up one more time. Well you can guess what happens here.

I felt sorry for Will who had lost her mother at a young age and she felt that she didn't fit in with her family. But I could also understand her father's frustration.

When Wil comes into possession of the letters, which were supposed to be given to her one a year but somehow got misplaced, the story moves to her mother and her life growing up. 

I didn't really connect with the letters and how each year the mother presumed she would know how Wil felt and what she was going through. I really didn't like how the mother kept putting down Wil's father in the letters. This was the man that had brought her up since she was five and patiently put up with all her nonsense. It made me quite angry.

Wil follows her mother's letters back to a gorgeous little country town in England where her mother grew up. I loved this part of the story with the Lord of the area and all the country folk knowing exactly who was coming and going and what was happening. The ending was predictable, but I do love a happy ending!
my rating 3.5/5   ⭐⭐⭐½
About the author
Credit: Goodreads
 Charlotte Nash is the internationally published author of seven contemporary novels, most recently Saving You and On a Starlight Ocean. She has degrees in engineering and medicine and a PhD in creative writing, which used the neuroscience of reading to understand how cleverly-crafted technical fiction appeals to our narrative brains. As a firm believer in unlikely pairings, she is an engineer by day and writes smart, unusual love stories by night. She has taught writing through The University of Queensland, QUT, Queensland Writers Centre and the University of Technology Sydney.


Saturday, 11 February 2023

Book Review & Giveaway: Crows Nest by Nikki Mottram

Crows Nest


Nikki Mottram

A Dana Gibson Mystery 
Publisher: University of Queensland Press

Publication date: 31st January 2023
Genre: Crime / Rural
Pages: 320
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via DMCPR 

My review of Crows Nest

Crows Nest is a compelling rural crime debut from Nikki Mottram placing her firmly on the list of notable Australian crime writers.
I was pulled into the story right from the start. Dana Gibson is a relatable, flawed character. She has had a few life altering dramas and instead of facing her demons she decides to flee from Sydney to Toowoomba. 
Dana is a community services worker, well respected in Sydney, but she has to prove herself before she is trusted in this small country town.
I really connected with Dana. She acts on impulse, often regretting her actions later. She is quick to snap and slow to open-up which makes people wary of her.
Crows Nest is a police procedural with a different twist. Not happy with the way the police are handling the murder investigation Dana starts her own investigation, evidence board and all. I loved Dana’s little side-kick and mini sleuth Angus, her 11 year-old neighbour. He was a clever little thing and had a sad story of his own.

Crows Nest has themes of dysfunctional families, small town secrets and lack of resources for community workers

Nikki Mottram has written a clever mystery deeply rooted in its small town setting.
I am looking forward to the second book, Killarney.
My rating  5/5   ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
About the author 

Nikki Mottram writes crime fiction and has a background in child protection. She has a psychology degree from University of Queensland and has worked in London and Australia in positions protecting and promoting the welfare of children at risk of harm. She has been published in the Boroondara Literary Awards anthology and shortlisted for the Fish Short Story Prize and the Hal Porter Short Story Competition. In 2018, she was the recipient of a Katharine Susannah Pritchard Writers' Centre Fellowship. She grew up and resides in Toowoomba, and brings to her work an understanding of rural communities.


Thanks to DMCPR and University of Queensland Press I have one paperback copy to give away. Entry is via the form below. Entries close at 6pm AEDT on 18th February 2023.
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was announced HERE

Friday, 10 February 2023

Book Review: The Journey by James Norbury

The Journey


James Norbury

Big Panda and Tiny Dragon 
Publisher: Penguin Australia

Imprint: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 18th October 2022 
Pages: 160
RRP: $35.00AU Hardcover
Source: Beauty & Lace Book Club
The following review appeared first on Beauty & Lace Book Club 

My review of The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon

This is the perfect book if you are having a bit of self doubt or wondering where you are heading in life. James Norbury has used Buddhist philosophies as Big Panda guides Tiny Dragon through some of life's trying moments. Having a friend by your side makes change just that little bit easier.

My granddaughter grabbed this book and read it as soon as it arrived. She loved the enchanting story about Panda and his best friend Dragon.

The Journey is not aimed at one particular age group, its appeal is all-inclusive.

For children it's an exciting adventure story. For adults it is a story of friendship, overcoming adversity, being in the moment, acceptance, gratitude and weathering life's storms.

The Journey is a beautiful book that would make a precious gift for both child and adult. Charmingly presented in hardcover with gold foil features and a ribbon bookmark. The illustrations move from black and white sketches to colour water washes to tie in with the mood of the story.

This is the second book in the Big Panda and Tiny Dragon series and I'm eager to get the first.

My rating 5/5  πŸΌπŸ‰πŸΌπŸ‰πŸΌ