Thursday, 5 September 2019

Winner of a copy of The Silk Road Wars announced

A big thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of The Silk Road Wars . The giveaway closed on 3rd September and the winner was randomly selected (using Random org) from all correct entries. 

Congratulations to..


Your book will be sent directly to you by WMC Public Relations

Please see my Giveaway tab for more chances to win great books.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Book Review: Zebra and other stories (short story compilation)

and other stories
Debra Adelaide

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Imprint: Picador Australia
Publication Date: 29th January 2019
Pages: 336
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

A body buried in a suburban backyard.

A suicide pack worthy of Chekhov.

A love affair born in a bookshop.

The last days of Bennelong.

And a very strange gift for a most unusual Prime Minister...

Tantalising, poignant, wry, and just a little fantastical, this subversive collection of short fiction - and one singular novella - from bestselling author Debra Adelaide reminds us what twists of fate may be lurking just beneath the surface of the everyday.

Zebra and other stories is a compilation of thirteen short stories and a novella.

Adelaide’s writing is lyrical and perceptive, exploring human foibles in all its forms. She proves she can master any writing style; first person, second person and third person perspectives are all executed with perfection.

I’ve read a few anthologies and they have all had a linking element running through the stories. I couldn’t find that connection with Zebra. Some of the stories seemed like a chapter pulled from a bigger story.

In her short stories Adelaide explores love, loss and life. Some stories are humorous, some perceptive and others heart-breaking.

The title story, Zebra, is a novella featuring an unnamed female prime Minister. It is a fanciful tale of conflict solving and lost opportunities, with an ending that left me amused.

Zebra and other stories is an eclectic holiday read filled with beautiful writing however most of the stories left me wanting.


My rating  3/5

This review is part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge
and book #28 in the Australian Women Writers challenge

Debra Adelaide is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including the novels The Hotel Albatross, Serpent Dust, The Household Guide to Dying and The Women's Pages and the edited collections Motherlove, Cutting the Cord, Acts of Dog, A Bright and Fiery Troop and The Simple Act of Reading. She has been sold into several territories worldwide. In 2013,she published her first collection of short stories, Letter to George Clooney (longlisted for the Stella prize). Currently a associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney where she teaches creative writing. Adelaide has also held roles as a researcher, book reviewer and literary award judge and she is the founder and managing editor of the Empathy Poems, an online collection of poems of compassion for refugees and people seeking asylum around the world. 


Monday, 2 September 2019

Book Review: Tidelands by Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory


Publisher: Simon & Schuster AU 
Series: The Fairmile #1 
Publication date: 20th August 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pages: 438
Format read: Uncorrected proof Paperback
Source: courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

Midsummer’s Eve, 1648, and England is in the grip of civil war between renegade King and rebellious Parliament. The struggle reaches every corner of the kingdom, even to the remote Tidelands – the marshy landscape of the south coast.

Alinor, a descendant of wise women, crushed by poverty and superstition, waits in the graveyard under the full moon for a ghost who will declare her free from her abusive husband. Instead she meets James, a young man on the run, and shows him the secret ways across the treacherous marsh, not knowing that she is leading disaster into the heart of her life.

Suspected of possessing dark secrets in superstitious times, Alinor’s ambition and determination mark her out from her neighbours. This is the time of witch-mania, and Alinor, a woman without a husband, skilled with herbs, suddenly enriched, arouses envy in her rivals and fear among the villagers, who are ready to take lethal action into their own hands.

England 1648 is a dangerous time for a woman especially if you have intelligence, beauty and determination.

Allinor is a herbalist, a healer just like her mother before her. However her skill with herbs and her outstanding beauty cause mistrust and jealousy. She is gossiped about as being a witch. With her husband missing she is left to bring up two children alone.
Tidelands is set during the last few months of King Charles I’s reign and a time of religious upheaval. It is troubled times in England and those troubles reach as far as the remote Tidelands.

The major part of the story is about the political unrest of the time and a plot to save the King. Allinor is unwittingly pulled into the danger when she helps a handsome stranger and falls in love.

Gregory deftly portrays the poverty and remoteness of Sealsea Island and through Allinor we see the life that women had to endure. With her husband missing she was neither wife nor widow. Her working hours were long and hard.

The plot is slow but immersive with the book spanning only 9 months it is a solid basis for the continuing saga. As the rest of the series unfolds we will have no doubt of the poverty and hardship these characters came from.

Philippa Gregory is a master story-teller. Her research and knowledge of the time period shines through in how effortlessly and smoothly the story flows.
A missing husband, a handsome priest; Tidelands is an unforgettable story of love, perseverance and danger. 



My rating  4/5

Photo credit: goodreads
Philippa Gregory was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Published in 2009, the bestselling The White Queen, the story of Elizabeth Woodville, ushered in a new series involving The Cousins’ War (now known as The War of the Roses) and a new era for the acclaimed author.

Gregory lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire, where she keeps horses, hens and ducks.

Her other great interest is the charity she founded nearly twenty years ago; Gardens for The Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for 140 wells in the primary schools of the dry, poverty stricken African country. Thousands of school children have learned market gardening, and drunk the fresh water in the school gardens around the wells.

A former student of Sussex University, and a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 of Edinburgh University, her love for history and her commitment to historical accuracy are the hallmarks of her writing. She also reviews for US and UK newspapers, and is a regular broadcaster on television, radio, and webcasts from her website. 


Sunday, 1 September 2019

Storybook Corner Book Review: Arabella and the Magic Pencil (Children's Picture Book) +related craft

Arabella and the Magic Pencil
Stephanie Ward
Illustrated by Shaney Hyde

Publisher: EK Books 
Publication date: 1st September 2019
Pages: 32
RRP: $24.99 AUD
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

Arabella is a very happy only child living a perfectly pleasant life.
Until she gets a baby brother who utterly upsets everything!
So Arabella erases Avery with her magic pencil. Problem solved.
She's sure her life will go back to being perfect now....wont it?

A fun-filled look at sibling rivalry and creative problem-solving!

“There once was a girl named Arabella”

We loved how the story started like a fairytale. A simple statement that sets the scene!

Arabella was the only child of the Duke and Duchess. She was granted a royal wish every year.
Arabella’s wishes were for fanciful things, wishes a child could relate to; a pink dog (that gave Dot a giggle). Dot’s wish was a real live unicorn.

Arabella didn’t wish for a little brother but that’s what she got. She loved Avery but he made lots of noise and ruined all her games until one day Arabella got so annoyed she made him disappear.
But life was too quiet, too calm and Arabella was sad. How can she get Avery back?

Anyone who has ever been a sibling probably knows what it feels like to wish that their irritating brother or sister would just vanish for a little while.

I remember when Jay first arrived on the scene Dot was not at all impressed and even drew family pictures without him in it. Luckily our young memories are short and she doesn’t remember ever not wanting her little brother around.

Stephanie Ward has produced a story that will never age. Sibling rivalry will be with us as long as little brothers and sisters keep arriving to change the family dynamics.

Arabella and the Magic Pencil is a charming story filled with magic and wonder to enhance a child’s imagination. The story includes words to extend the child’s vocabulary and Dot was quick to ask the meaning of ‘mayhem' and ‘acoustics’.  Alliteration is used at times to give a fun rhythm to the story; Dainty dolls dined, Pretty princesses paraded.

The watercolour illustrations are a feast for the eyes. Shaney Hyde has given the story extra meaning through little touches in her illustrations. A royal bird (wearing a crown) can be found on each double spread, Arabella in her tent, headphones on, listening to music, Avery’s little blue dinosaur makes quite a few appearances, dragonflies, ladybugs, singing flowers all displayed in beautiful pastel colours until Avery disappears. The colour also disappears leaving Arabella and her surroundings in a sepia tone.

Arabella and the Magic Pencil is a wondrous picture book, not only for a young girl or boy who has had a new sibling enter their world but for any girl or boy who is enthralled by magic and imagination.

Dot had a lot of fun colouring and playing with the Arabella and Avery paper dolls.


Visit Stephanie’s website to download the paper doll activity sheet and colouring pages.

End note: Jay stomped around the room making dinosaur noises while we read the book. (little bothers 🤣🤣)

Rated by Dot 5/5
About the author:

Photo credit: Goodreads
Stephanie Ward is an award-winning children's author and reviewer who splits her time between London, Seattle and Sydney. She spent 15 years in public relations before deciding to dedicate herself to what she loves - writing stories for children. Stephanie has five award-winning picture book manuscripts.

 About the illustrator:
Photo credit: EKBooks
Shaney Hyde is an Early Childhood Teacher from Melbourne who runs art workshops for children and draws inspiration from her own playful childhood. Arabella and the Magic Pencil is the first book she has illustrated, fulfilling a long-held dream.