Monday 10 February 2020

Mailbox Monday - February 10th

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog. Head over and check out other books received during the last week. 

Happy Monday!

We finally got that rain we have all been praying for. And has it rained! We have had torrential rain for about a week now so we have gone from drought conditions to floods. My husband has taken water off the pool three times today as it has threatened to overflow (it was only a week ago that we were having to top it up). He will need to take more off before we go to bed to ensure it doesn't overflow during the night.

As we are now in February the days have started to fall back into their usual routine as the year's activities restart.
Yoga started again for the year and I am grateful to be able to sleep well at night without being in pain.
To finish off the holidays we have been doing lots of craft activities and made cupcakes and Dot gave me some beautiful flowers and chocolates.
Dot started school for the first time. It was a big day and she had a great time, made some new friends on her first day and got an award for not talking in class (talking is her favourite thing).
Ditto also started preschool two days a week. He is a very outgoing boy so he loves to be around all the other kids and enjoys going.


Books received over the last two weeks:

From the publisher:

The Cobra Queen by Tara Moss

In the months since Pandora English left the small town of Gretchenville to live with her mysterious great aunt in a supernatural Manhattan suburb, her whole world has been turned upside down.

Pandora has discovered she is the chosen one, the Seventh Daughter of a Seventh Daughter, and during the impending Revolution of the Dead, she alone will have the power to save all life as we know it. The Agitation is unfolding, building towards the Revolution, and Pandora can no longer deny the truth in these incredible prophecies. But what will she do when the moment comes? How can she stand against the army of the dead?

Pandora’s relationship to her spirit guide, Lieutenant Luke, is intensifying. She’s had to grapple with ghosts, vampires and necromancers. Now, with the Blue Moon approaching and a new exhibition opening at The Met, which celebrates an ancient female pharaoh done wrong in antiquity, powerful forces threaten to upend the balance of life and death. Pandora is given the chance to find out what happened to her parents all those years ago, but first she must put her own supernatural gifts to the test.

 The Gilded Cage by Camilla Lackberg

All that glitters…

People would kill to have Faye Adelheim's life. She lives in an ultra-swanky apartment in the most exclusive area of Stockholm, she has a gorgeous husband who gives her everything she's ever wanted, and she has an adorable daughter who lights up her world. Faye's life is perfect.

So how is it, then, that she now finds herself in a police station?

The truth is that Faye's life is far from what it seems. The truth is that Faye isn't even her real name. And now she's been caught out. There's no way she's going to go down without a fight. The only question is – who will escape with their life? 

Books I have won:

From the Ashes by Rowena Holloway
 Journalist Charlotte Ashe has sacrificed her credibility, her friendships and her career. With no job and no prospects and a soon-to-be invalid working visa, she needs a big story. Fast. Her single lead is Blaxon Hall, a private brain injury clinic owned by Tyrone Garner.

And Tyrone Garner has become an obsession…

When Charlotte uncovers mystery surrounding the recent deaths of residents at the Hall, she knows she’s found her story. Are the deaths natural or murder? Does a killer lurk at the Hall? And why is Garner determined to keep his past, and his visits to the Hall, a secret?

But the closer she gets to the truth the real question becomes whether she can trust what she sees. Is she exposing the truth or is it all a figment of her overwrought imagination?

Then Blaxon Hall is consumed by fire. And one of the missing is Charlotte Ashe.

The Lost Summers of Driftwood by Vanessa McCausland
Phoebe's life has fallen apart and there's only one place left to go. Alone and adrift after a failed marriage proposal, she flees Sydney to her family's abandoned holiday cottage.

On the slow-moving river Phoebe is confronted with the legacy of her older sister's suicide, a year before. Why did Karin leave a note written in flowers and walk into the water?

Phoebe's childhood love, Jez, has moved back to the beautiful old house, Driftwood, one jetty down. He's married now and the home has become a refuge for an unlikely little community.

As the river begins to give up its secrets, Phoebe finds herself caught up in old feelings and new mysteries.

Books I have purchased:

Ebook purchase:
February or Forever by Juliet Madison

Yoga teacher and single mother, Chrissie Burns has a plan: move into the rundown beach house left to her by her deceased aunt, renovate it, sell it, and move on. The scene of a terrible accident years ago, the house needs to get out of Chrissie's hands as soon as possible.

But Tarrin's Bay, where the house stands, has more to offer than bad memories. The town is lovely, the people friendly, and even Chrissie's young son finds friends and begins coming out of his shell. Employed at Serendipity Retreat as a yoga instructor, Chrissie is shocked to be given the role of private teacher to Drew Williams, Australia’s top singer/songwriter for the month.

Relationships between instructors and clients are strictly forbidden, but Drew draws happiness out of Chrissie with his down-to-earth nature and sense of humour. Days of stretching and bending may bring Chrissie unexpected peace and strength, but she knows that this interlude must end, and there's no pose or position to aid her when Drew walks away and leaves her broken-hearted.

 I was extremely fortunate to receive a bundle of last year's ARC books from my local bookstore. I felt like I had won the lottery! I won't list them all but here is a photo.


Saturday 8 February 2020

Book Bingo - Round 2: Set in a place you dream of visiting #BookBingo2020

The Paris Model by Alexandra Joel

This week I have chosen the category 'Set in a place you dream of visiting'.

The book I have chosen for this category is 'The Paris Model'.
Who wouldn't dream of visiting Paris! Grace's life takes a dramatic turn when she moves from a small country Australian town to the catwalks of Paris working as a Christian Dior model. Her old life still haunts her as she tries to find out who she truly is. She is plunged into a world of danger that sees her life threatened.

You can read my full review here 
Book Bingo is a reading challenge hosted by Theresa Smith Writes , Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse. The second Saturday of each month book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read and what book they chose.   


Thursday 6 February 2020

Storybook Corner Book Review: The Truth Pixie Goes to School by Matt Haig

The Truth Pixie Goes to School
Matt Haig
Illustrated by Chris Mould

Publisher: Canongate Books
Publication date: 1st August 2019
Genre: Children's
Pages: 122
Format read: Hardcover
Source: Won in a giveaway

New school. New friends. Same old pixie.

'Aada started her new school,
And the pixie came too.
But this school was a place
Where it was hard to be true . . .'

An uplifting story that will delight younger readers and help them to be themselves in their school uniform. With words by the bestselling mastermind Matt Haig and pictures by the inky genius Chris Mould.

With Dot starting school this week I thought The Truth Pixie Goes to School an apt read.

There once was a girl
Who lived far away
And tried to be kind
Whatever the day.

Aada lived with her dad. She was sad because she was moving towns and had to start a new school. This is sad at the best of times but poor Aada’s Gran had died and her father had lost his job. But Aada had her best friend, the Truth Pixie, who went with her everywhere and when times were tough and Aada was sad the Pixie was always there to cheer her up.
When they started school the Pixie was outspoken and everyone laughed at her for being different. Aada was embarrassed and wanted to fit in with the other kids so she turns her back on the Pixie. The Pixie, rejected, leaves and goes home. Aada soon misses her quirky best friend but has she lost her forever?

The Truth Pixie Goes to School is a fun, enjoyable story told in rhyming verse. The quirky illustrations by award winning illustrator Chris Mould are as much a part of the story as the verse that accompanies them.

A poignant tale with themes of bullying, hurting a friend’s feelings, being true to yourself, saying sorry and not changing to fit in with the crowd.

Don’t try to be something
You really are not.
Your one true self
Is the best thing you’ve got.


Dot's rating  5/5

About the author:

Photo credit: Goodreads
As well as being a number one bestselling writer for adults Matt haig has won the Blue Peter Book Award, the Smarties Book Prize and been nominated three times for the Carnegie Medal for his stories for children and young adults.
In 2018, The Truth Pixie was a Sunday Times children's bestseller.


About the illustrator:

Photo credit: Goodreads
Chris Mould went to art school at the age of sixteen. he has won the Nottingham Children's Book Award and been commended by the Sheffield Children's Book Award. he likes to write and draw the kind of books he would have liked to have had on his shelf as a boy.


Wednesday 5 February 2020

Book Review: รŠtre: Girls, Who Do You Want to Be? by Illana Raia

รŠtre: Girls, Who Do You Want to Be?
Illana Raia

Wise Words for World-Changing Girls

Publisher: รŠtre Press 
Publication date: 11th October 2019
Genre: Middle Grade / Young Adult Non Fiction
Pages: 204
RRP: $22.95USD (approx $34AUD)
Format: large format paperback
Source: Courtesy of Smith Publicity

รŠtre means "to be." And girls, middle school is not too young to ask yourself this all-important question: Who do YOU want to be? Think of this book as a smart big sister in your backpack, encouraging you to stick with what you love and helping you springboard your authentic interests into more.
SO . . . WHAT IS รŠTRE? A bold, full color magazine-style collection of articles breaking down big ideas like financial confidence, mentorship, philanthropy, and entrepreneurship for today’s motivated girls. Organized by topic (#BeSmart, #BeWi$e, #BeInnovative), and featuring Insta-inspired graphics, รŠtre offers wise words to world-changing girls . . . at exactly the right time.
WHO’S IN IT? Get ready for empowering quotes and interviews from luminary women alongside input from inspiring girls across the country.
WHO’S IT FOR? Middle and high school girls everywhere . . . and the moms, big sisters, and cool aunts reading over their shoulders.

It all starts with the Middle Grade girl aged 8 – 12. These girls are smart thinkers they want to know what’s happening beyond the latest Tiktok and Instagram sensation.
These girls won’t be following the latest trends they will be making them.

This book is for you!
Set out in ten different chapters, each with it’s own motivational hashtag. #BeSmart #BeInnovative #BeWi$e #BeConnected #BeStrong #BeInformed #BeCharitable #BeBrave #BeHappy #BeWellRead.

Etre is a resource and mentorship platform for girls which first started as an online resource and Illana Raia has now put all these ideas into a book that can be referred to time and time again as girls come across different challenges or feel that need for motivation in different areas during their growing years.

This book not only teaches girls to be smart outspoken and well informed but to also offer to help others by being a mentor. Be a role model to younger girls.

Filled with motivational quotes, questions and answers from women who have made a difference and interviews with girls just like the targeted reader. The รŠtre board is made up of young women, teens and pre-teens (aged 10 – 18) who know how the pre-teen mind works.

It teaches girls not to be all out competitive but form a group, work together, study together, help each other out.

Build each other up, instead of tearing each other down’

This is an inspiring book for girls wondering if they are too young to make a difference.

I’m not generally into motivational books but this book has changed my opinion and I would recommend this for all girls aged 8 – 18. This is not a book to be read in one sitting but opened at the appropriate chapter for the time. An election coming up or major news event; read #BeInformed. It’s the start of the sports season; read #BeStrong.

The book concludes with a list of instagramers you really should be following, appropriate E-resources and a list of websites to dig deeper into each chapter.

I was blown away by this book. Highly recommended!

 My rating  5/5

Illana is a former Skadden, Arps lawyer, an occasional guest lecturer at Columbia University, and the founder of รŠtre - a mentorship platform for motivated girls.

Illana has contributed to the Huffington Post, Medium, Ellevate and Thrive Global since รŠtre's launch in 2016, breaking down timely topics for the younger set, and was named a Mogul Influencer in 2017. She was featured in The Balance Project Interviews in 2018 and the #WomenWhoRock photo campaign in 2019 and has been a recent guest on podcasts and radio; Illana's journey from attorney to founder was also profiled in Forbes.

Illana graduated with honors from Smith College and received her JD from the University of Chicago, where she was managing editor of the Legal Forum. She lives happily in NYC and at the Jersey Shore with her husband and two children, and is unapologetically nerdy.

This review is part of the Non Fiction Reader Challenge #2020ReadNonFic


Books and Bites Bingo - Category 3 #BooksandBitesBingo2020

This bingo challenge is with Facebook group Books and Bites with Monique Mulligan

This week I will be completing the 'That book you keep putting off' category.

That book you keep putting off

For this category I have chosen 'Cassandra's Secret'   

I haven't technically been putting off reading this book. It was more I'd forgotten to read it as the book was on my Kindle and they seem to hide there.

Cassandra's Secret is the story of Cassandra and how an incident in her teens set her up for a life of mistrust. The story explains how this mistrust ruled her life.

You can read my full review here



Tuesday 4 February 2020

Book Review: Grown Ups by Marian Keyes #BRPreview

Grown Ups
Marian Keyes

Publisher: Penguin Books Aus
Imprint: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 4th February 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 656
RRP: $32.99AUD
Format read: Uncorrected paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

They're a glamorous family, the Caseys.
Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together - birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they're a happy family. Johnny's wife, Jessie - who has the most money - insists on it.
Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .
Everything stays under control until Ed's wife Cara, gets concussion and can't keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.
In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it's time - finally - to grow up?

I just love family dramas but big books scare me and weighing in at 656 pages Grown Ups is a big book. I’m happy to say though that I flew through this book. It was endlessly entertaining and no time did it become bogged down.

The Casey clan deliver an endless amount of drama and quite a few laughs. Johnny Casey is married to Jessie and they have five children. Saorise and Ferdia are from Jessie’s first marriage. Ferdia tall, dark and handsome despises his step-father and makes sure everyone knows it. Their other three children and outspoken and precocious, in a cute charming way.
Ed Casey is married to Cara who has body image issues and a serious chocolate craving.
Liam Casey is newly wed to his second wife Nel, a young and vibrant humanitarian, 11 years his junior.

Told in multiple points of view Keyes knows how to bring out her characters flaws and insecurities, laying them bare but in turn making then more likeable and relatable.

Jessie wants them to be one big happy family and goes to great lengths and expense to arrange family holidays which cause all their insecurities to blow out of proportion.

Keyes explores the different types of connections adults have with their parents, the idea that marriage has to be worked at with open communication. The introduction of Syrian refugee, Perla, to the family gives an opening to explore the rights of refugees and their struggle to start a new life.

Everyone appears to have a secret and in the prologue there is a hint of the secrets that Carla reveals at a family dinner. This certainly hooked me in! The story then goes back six months and builds month by month to the big moment when everyone’s secrets are revealed and the entire family implodes.

This book is witty and humorous whilst at the same time has some powerful themes on the dynamics of family, marriage and body image.

Tragicomedy at its heartbreaking and witty best!


My rating   4/5

Photo credit: Penguin Books

Marian Keyes was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin. She studied law and accountancy before turning to writing. Her first novel Watermelon was published in Ireland in 1995, where it was an immediate, runaway success. Marian Keyes is now one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time and is published in thirty nine different languages. She lives in Dรบn Laoghaire with her husband Tony.


Monday 3 February 2020

Author Interview & Giveaway: Jenn J McLeod

Today I would like to welcome author Jenn J McLeod to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

So let's get started and find out a little more about Jenn and her writing. 
Hello Jenn, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you have had published?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog again.

I’m five-times published with Simon & Schuster in Oz and the UK’s Head of Zeus. My first book, House for all Seasons, was the #5 best-selling debut fiction novel in 2013. I have since  downsized my life into a purple and white caravan called Myrtle the Turtle and, as Australia’s nomadic novelist, I am not only ticking things off my bucket list while finding inspiration for more contemporary stories with a backdrop of country life, I am also Wild Myrtle Press – publisher of my 6th novel—House of Wishes.

What inspires you to write?

My need to tell stories keeps me writing but my readers keep me inspired to keep publishing them.

For several reasons, I came close to not publishing book #6 last year. I’d been finding the whole business of being writer, promoter, marketing expert, businessperson and general dogsbody sucking the joy from the storytelling side. Of course, then I had to go add publisher to my crazy list of job titles!!

But it was the achievement of publishing House of Wishes (now available worldwide in all formats, including audio) that has reinvigorated me. I entered self-publishing all gang-ho and confident, but then I started to wonder . . . Am I only as good as a ‘real’ publisher made me? As a result, I panicked and almost pulled the pin.

But, wow! What a reception House of Wishes had had – from the stunning cover by Bookcoverology (who didn’t mind a fusspot Jenn getting involved) to the words inside.

What is a typical writing day for you?

There is nothing typical about me at all! You’ve known me long enough to know that!!!!

Where is your favourite place to write?

Being fulltime nomad, I can’t get too attached to any one place—geographically speaking.
But when I do get to sit, I try to work outside with Mother Nature to inspire my scenes and settings.

Do you have any writing rituals or good luck charms?

Oooh! No! “Do many authors?” (she asks, quickly skimming previous blog posts to check if she’s with ‘the norm’!)

Is that where I’ve been going wrong? I’m joking, but I am a tad superstitious when it comes to mirrors, ladders, and joins in the footpath. (The latter is why I love country life. There are a lot less footpaths and cracks to avoid stepping on.)

What are you currently reading?

The third Chalk Hill novel – Last Bridge Before Home. I love, love, love a Lily Malone book. But I’m also fast becoming a fan of audio books because I can read while walking.

(Small and not too subtle segue into BIG announcement: House of Wishes is now available in audio: ask your library to add it to their catalogue or listen via Audible. Disclaimer, I did not produce my own audio book. The lovely folk at Unverscroft/Aurora Imprint bought the rights for that.

I have heard you were working on a picture book series for children, can you tell us a little more about this venture?

Oooh, you have been listening! That’s good to know. Yes, and I’ve already had fabulous feedback from several six-year-olds!! But I have a lot to learn and it seems everyone with a high profile is writing picture books. Perhaps the difference is, I did actually pen this one myself. That said, if there is anyone famous reading this—someone who will sell a few million copies just by putting their name on the cover—I’m your gal (ghost writer).

Your latest book House of Wishes was released on 19th November, how did you come up with the idea for House of Wishes?

My readers have been asking for a story that covers the early years at Dandelion House, in Calingarry Crossing. In that way, House of Wishes is a kind of return to my debut – House for all Seasons (as well as the second Calingarry Crossing novel – Simmering Season.)

All three are all standalone reads, with the Calingarry Crossing setting in common. The reason for the return is to give voice to some secondary characters from House for all Seasons. Readers (and I) got attached to a couple of characters so explored their stories and before I knew it . . .

I have to say, House of Wishes is probably the work I am most proud of for several reasons (and Goodreads has also let me know). Although my first novel will always be special, I’ve learned I am capable of spinning a good yarn and bringing my characters (and the book) to life. Phew!

What would you like readers to get out of House of Wishes?

Thank you for this question . . . Due to the number of family and social issues I cover in this novel, I could go on ad nauseum. Instead, here’s me being brief:
  1. How far we’ve come as a country in terms of women’s right to choose, but how easily the work done by generations of women in the past can slip away if we don’t keep speaking up about a woman’s right to choose.
  2. Strength from the realisation that life can throw us curve balls, but to keep believing in the power of wishes.
  3. An understanding that family is about connection rather than blood.

What's next for Jenn J McLeod? Do you have a new WIP?

I hope the next bit of news is about Jenn J. McLeod - picture book author. Until then, I’ll carry on with my 7th signature small-town story. A father-daughter themed plot about (you guessed it) secrets, but with a bit of mystery thrown in, and set in a beachside caravan park. The structure is my favourite dual timeline and moves between 2015 and 1981. (Ahh, the memories!)

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

And I’d like to thank you for supporting authors, especially Australian authors and offer one of your readers a Kindle version of House of Wishes (in return for sharing this post—or at least telling their Mum or sister or best friend!

Thank you Jenn for your generous offer. To win a Kindle copy of House of Wishes please enter via the Giveaway form below (open internationally).

House of Wishes:
A story for mothers, daughters, fathers and sons:
about the choices we make, the connections that matter,
the secrets we keep, and the power of a wish.
(available in print, ebook and in audio)

Dandelion House, 1974
Two teenage girls—strangers—make a pact to keep a secret.
Calingarry Crossing, 2014
For forty years, Beth and her mum have been everything to each other, but Beth is blind-sided when her mother dies, and her last wish is to have her ashes spread in a small-town cemetery.

On the outskirts of Calingarry Crossing, when Beth comes across a place called Dandelion House Retreat, her first thought is how appealing the name sounds. With her stage career waning, and struggling to see a future without her mum, her marriage, and her child, she hopes it’s a place where she can begin to heal.

After meeting Tom, a local cattleman, Beth is intrigued by his stories of the cursed, century-old river house and its reclusive owner, Gypsy. The more Beth learns, however, the more she questions her mother’s wishes.

When meeting Beth leads Tom to uncover a disturbing connection to the old house, he must decide if the truth will help a grieving daughter or hurt her more.

Should Dandelion House keep its last, long-held secret?

From the author of HOUSE FOR ALL SEASONS . . . 
"A painful exploration of estrangement, loss, truth, redemption and the power of wishes." The West Australian
This giveaway is now closed and the winner was ....  Michelle