Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I recently read this as a buddy read with Theresa Smith Writes over at Page by Page Book Club. This has been on my radar for ages, but a couple of weeks ago I bought it as part of a 3 for 2 deals at Dymocks. It seems like it was meant to be as a week or so later this was one of the options put forward for the buddy read.

The Night CircusI loved this book, the plan was to read it over a two week period. I started reading and at first thought, yes, this is a little different, but it wasn’t long before I was captured by this story and didn’t want to stop reading, by the end I didn’t want to leave this magical world behind. It was as the cover says ‘Breathtaking’, ‘Dazzling’, and ‘Enchanting’.

This book relies on you allowing your imagination to stretch to new heights, to truly immerse yourself in the world of The Night Circus. The imagery that Erin Morgenstern manages to convey is amazing, I can’t think of another book offhand that captures the imagination so completely.

The characters, the circus, and the concept were original and delightful. The blurb on the cover gives nothing much away, but ultimately it starts as a wager between two men of magical learning who use a young girl, Celia, and a young boy, Marco, to play out the competition with no idea what the rules or the ultimate goal is.

I can’t wait to read her new book The Starless Sea, which will be the next buddy read on the 16th of May.

New Release Book Review: Racetrack Royalty by Renee Dahlia

Racetrack RoyaltyI have really enjoyed this series, Racetrack Royalty is book #4 in the Merindah Park series, Merindah Park (#1)Making Her Mark (#2), and Two Hearts Healing (#3) are all worth taking the time to read.

In Racetrack Royalty, the family has flown to the UK for the Royal Ascot races due to their horse Biographical being in two of the races and Shannon, our leading man has been asked to stay on board as his trainer. Shannon has always been a bit different from his siblings and the way he interacts with people is a little different too. His family has always said ‘he likes horses better than people’. It isn’t until he meets Ananya on the train to the racecourse one morning, that he starts to look at this quirk of his in a different way. Ananya has an uncanny ability to really ‘get’ him, something no one else has ever done, and Shannon and his family want her to stay around.

Shannon and Ananya’s ‘relationship’ begins very suddenly when they start chatting on the train and it goes full speed ahead after he asks her to stay around in the members’ area with him and his family. While the relationship did move super fast, and Ananya made decisions that were completely out of character for her, I really enjoyed the way these two interacted and I loved that Shannon had finally found someone he felt comfortable with and who understood him. Shannon has always been there for his siblings so it was extra nice to see him find some happiness.

Ananya has a young nephew on the autism spectrum and she tentatively broaches this with Shannon. His reaction is exactly what you would expect at first, but after he starts doing some research, he starts to feel like maybe he isn’t that strange after all. This is one of the benefits of having a label for a disability or a behaviour quirk. I know when I was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, it made me feel like I wasn’t stupid or lazy after all and I really wished it had been picked up as I was going through school. While I don’t let it define me, it was great to have an understanding of the way I was. Shannon is the same, this knowledge doesn’t define him, but it does give him some peace and understanding and will hopefully allow his family to better understand him too.

Ananya and Shannon have to overcome many challenges if they want this fledgling relationship to go somewhere. Ananya is from a very different background, both financially and culturally, with her family coming from Bangledesh, on top of that, they both live in different countries and have different things that make them happy. There was a lot going on here and there were plenty of things to deal with and misunderstandings to get through, but I enjoyed every bit of it leading up to Shannon getting his happy ever after.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

#AWW2020   33/50

 

New Release Book Review: Asking For Trouble by Amy Andrews

Nothing but troubleThis is the third book in the Credence, Colorado series, I read Nothing But Trouble (#1) this time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it came as no surprise that this was just as enjoyable.

Asking For Trouble deals with the repercussions of domestic abuse, by a parent and by a husband.

Della has lived in Credence for the past 3 years, ever since her brother Wade, the local cop rescued her. She’s spent her time getting her life together and sitting at Tucker’s bar learning to feel safe and learning about friends.

Tucker is Wade’s best mate and as such feels obligated to protect Della and help her in any way he can. Being her wingman as she learns to date probably wasn’t what he had in mind.

I really loved these two, their friendship which starts with Tucker giving Della and then getting roped into being her wingman as she goes on Tinder dates, slowly grows into something more.

Della tasks Tucker with teaching her about her sexuality, and she couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. Tucker is the kind of guy every girl dreams of. He’s gorgeous, attentive, and protective, but he has hangups about how he feels about Della, his age, his friendship with her brother and her past. Watching these two explore each other and their feelings was all kinds of fun. And hoping they can both get their acts together and decide how they truly feel about each other was fun too.

Della certainly comes into her own as the story progresses and that’s no small thanks to Tucker. But also to her friends and Rosemary, one of the residents the old people’s home she works at. Rosemary is just an absolute hoot and she certainly teaches Della a thing or two, probably more than Della wished to know.

A great read with a happy ending.

Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

#AWW2020    30/50

 

 

New Release Book Review: Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert

Burn ZoneI’m a big fan of Annabeth Albert’s MM romance novels and was excited to see she had a new series coming out. Burn Zone is book #1 in the Hot Shots series and we are introduced to a team of smoke jumpers, a highly dangerous job that can save many lives, but also take lives too.

After his older brother dies, Jacob joins the smoke jumpers squad. His brothers best mate, Lincoln, also a smoke jumper, is not happy to see him there. But it’s not just the danger that makes him upset about Jacob being on his crew.

These two have a complicated history of attraction between them and Jacob is out to make it even more complicated. I really did enjoy the friendship that developed between Jacob and Lincoln and I liked how it turned into much more despite the reservations that Lincoln had.

I wasn’t a big fan of Jacob’s family, I have never understood the way people can treat others just because of their sexuality, and I certainly don’t understand how family or friends can behave in such an unsupportive manner. Learning how Jacob’s brother treated Lincoln who was supposed to be his best friend, really made me question whether you’d really want a friend like that.

I look forward to the next book in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley and Carina Press for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: Paw Prints of Love: An Anthology

Paw Prints of LoveI’m not a big reader of anthologies, but I’d been hearing about Paw Prints of Love wen it was still accepting contributions so I was excited to be able to get an early copy, I’m also a big dog lover and all of these stories revolve around dogs and the dog beauty parlour The Funny Bone in one way or another and are set in the south coast of Western Australia in the town of Stonecrest Bay.

The first story was All the Good Stuff by Lisa Knight and was a perfect introduction to the town of Stonecrest Bay. I thoroughly enjoyed this short story, from the opening lines where Emma is letting loose a flour bomb, I just knew I was going to love the humour Lisa Knight has imbued into this story. I’m already in love with the small town of Stonecrest Bay. This was a really fun, feelgood romance, and in such a short story, (30 minutes reading time), so much happened. I loved Chipper the dog who pulled it all together. I’ll be looking out for more writing by Lisa Knight.

Rescued Hearts by Fiona Greene I really enjoyed this one, this was definitely one of those ‘meant to be’ encounters between two lost souls.

A Barking Chaperone by Helen Walton A was short and sweet, love at first sight all down to a beagle determined to find trouble at every turn.

A Toast to Paddy by Teena Raffa An unlikely romance between two older people, I didn’t like either of the characters to start with, but as they warmed towards each other, and to Paddy, they warmed for me too.

Homecoming by Leah Kinninmont A friends to lovers story about two long time friends who finally get their acts together and see what is in front of them. I really enjoyed this one, especially seeing Harley, an employee at The Funny Bone, get the love he is looking for.

Jakes Dilemma by Susan Dunn This was another enjoyable story. I wasn’t sure where this one was going or how it was going to end up, but I was pleasantly surprised with the outcome and could easily see another story to follow on from this one.

Catching Curls by Jenny Lynch This is Abbey’s story, she works at The Funny Bone and volunteers for the weekend at a CanTeen surfing camp for teens. She meets pro surfer Travis Scott who is volunteering his time in between competitions. It’s love or lust at first sight for these two in this short and sweet romance.

For the Love of Dogs by Lisa Wolstenholme don’t judge a dog by its behaviour, at least when it’s a puppy or is a newcomer to the home. Sarah broke up her relationship months before because her boyfriend, Rick chose his dog Tobey over her, or so it seemed, now she hates dogs, but after being put in charge of her mum’s dog Daisy for a couple of weeks and running into Rick and Tobey, things are about to change.

Puddles Valentine by Carolyn Wren super short, but super sweet.

Chasing Love by P.L Harris The last story in the anthology and where the owner of The Funny Bone, Dee Chambers gets her chance at finding love. When Travis’s cousin Luke comes to town to catch up with his cousin, the last thing he expects is to meet Dee who immediately catches his interest and him hers. He’s supposed to be passing through, but maybe he should think about staying around. This was a great story to end our visit to Stonecrest Bay with, a story full of a potential future of true love.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable anthology that allowed me to dip in and out of Stonecrest Bay at leisure, I only wish I could move there myself and find my true love.

Thanks to Gumnut Press for a digital copy of this anthology in return for an honest review.

Releases 29th April 2020     Join the release party on Facebook  

Buy Links:         Gumnut Press            Amazon AU ebook            Amazon AU paperback

  Amazon US ebook    Amazon UK ebook

 

#AWW2020   29/50

Audiobook Review: Black Diamonds by Kim Kelly

IMG_20200402_183440Nearly 3 years ago I read Kim Kelly’s Black Diamonds, an historical fiction novel that is in my top reads of all times. When I heard it was coming out as an audiobook, I was excited, having listened to The Red Earth and The Blue MIle already, I was keen to spend my drive to work and back listening to one of my favourite stories. It certainly didn’t disappoint. At first, I wasn’t sure about the voice actor who played Daniel, he started off reading a bit slowly for me, but he seemed to find his pace better quite quickly and then I was hooked. Both voice actors for Danial and Francine do a fabulous job. This is one thing I really enjoy about Kim Kelly’s audiobooks, that both the main characters get their own voice, this is I guess because the chapters alternate from one character to the other.

This was my original review.

This story was incredible, once I got used to the slightly old fashioned way of the characters speaking I was completely engaged and invested in their journey. From love, joy, heartache, terror and more, I was with them every step of the way. The history and the detail that Kim Kelly weaves into this fabulous story is incredible. I have learned so much and experienced the events in this story as if I was there. The events in Europe during the war were difficult to experience and I can’t even begin to or want to imagine what it was truly like for the millions who died in that war. A remarkable story I highly recommend.

Set in Lithgow a coal mining town just before the start of WWI, there were many hardships that the people had to endure, an unsafe work environment being one of them. Francine is one of the owner’s daughters and starts off thinking she is quite above the coal miners and the people in town. This all changes when Daniel is injured and her father steps in to help Daniel and his family. From here we are swept into a love story that defies the odds and a war that threatens to take everything these two have worked for.

I really did learn so much history from this novel, as I do from every novel Kim Kelly writes. The anti-German feel, the factions who were for and against the war and subscription, the government policies at the time, the union’s input on coal mining particularly, the lack of facilities and the lack of financial support measures in place for miners and their families. These are all issues that are dealt with and ones that both Francine and Daniel feel passionate about.

I absolutely love this novel and will read and listen to it many more times.

Author Facebook          Website        Goodreads

Amazon AU              Amazon US           Amazon UK

#AWW2020   28/50

New Release Book Review: Something to Talk About by Rachael Johns

Screenshot_20200413_194740It’s been a while since I read a Rachael Johns rural romance novel, so I was excited to hear she had a new one coming out. This is a sequel to Talk of the Town, a book I’ve had on my kindle for a while, when I looked it up I’ve actually had it waiting since July 2017 which is just ridiculous and after reading Something to Talk About, I plan on rectifying that ASAP.

While Something to Talk About is a sequel, it can easily be read as a standalone as enough background into the characters and the town was given for me to feel completely comfortable with the people and the setting. 

It took me a couple of chapters to make a proper connection with the characters, but after that, I didn’t want to put this novel down.

I really loved the two main characters, Tabitha and Fergus, they felt very real, like people I could meet myself at any point.

At first, Fergus is out of his comfort zone in the small town, he’s certainly not used to single women wanting to throw themselves at him or everyone knowing everything that is happening, but he is fabulous with the kids he is there to teach.

Tabitha is a great character, she’s a strong woman but has a vulnerable heart. She has been through a lot of loss in her life and has had a lot to contend with personally.

I really enjoyed the banter between these two, especially as they fought the chemistry between them. I loved it when they dived in, neither realising what they were getting themselves into. There was of course, the usual miscommunication and misreading of situations, but it was all very realistic, we human beings do like jumping to conclusions before we have all the facts.

The secondary townspeople characters were all enjoyable, excepting of course Adeline, the town b***h, a very unlikeable character. I loved the knitting circle where it is as much about gossip as it is about knitting.

There were some serious issues raised, breast cancer being an important one and how important family is through the good and the bad. The relationship between Fergus and his sister played an important role in the story as Fergus struggles with the loss of trust in that relationship and the need to forgive.

I learned a bit about dairy farming and how hard the work is day in, day out, morning and night. Tabitha’s brother, Lawson and her sister-in-law, Meg along with their son Ned were great characters to meet and I am really looking forward to reading their story in Talk of the Town.

If you enjoy a rural romance with all the feels, then this is the book for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Connect with Rachael:     Facebook           Website       Goodreads

The book:   Goodreads            Amazon AU        Amazon US        HarperCollins Australia

FB_IMG_1577105032228     #AWW2020    26/50

New Release Book Review: The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

I signed up a couple of years ago to The Pigeonhole, it is an online book club where you get to read a book with others one stave at a time. A book is broken down into parts or staves and each day a new stave is released for you to read. It really makes you think about the book you are reading, but when the book is great it can be frustrating waiting for the next stave to be released. The first book I read with The Pigeonhole was Australian author Kim Kelly’s The Blue Mile, she is now one of my favourite authors.

The Dictionary of Lost WordsA few weeks ago I got an email saying they were showcasing The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams, I had seen this novel on Instagram through Affirm Press‘s posts and this book really appealed to me, so I signed up. 10 days ago the first stave was available and I was hooked, I couldn’t wait to get the email each day to read the next part.

This book is now firmly on my list of top 10 books for 2020, it was an interesting, emotional and powerful novel, covering so many subjects. It is a beautiful and engaging book and I had no idea where the story was going to lead me, right through to the end, Pip Williams never failed to surprise me. There were parts where I was silently begging her not to take me where I thought we might be going, and from the other readers’ comments, as we read, I wasn’t alone in this. There were also parts that caused me anger, grief, happiness, and so many other emotions, but I have to admit that the final stave had me in tears more than once.

Pip Williams has a way with words, her ability to convey what people are thinking or feeling, to describe a situation or the environment, to put words themselves into context was remarkable and beautiful. There were so many lines I’d have loved to have pulled out and shared.

The book begins in 1886 and carries us through to the epilogue in 1989, though the majority of the story is between 1886 and 1915. There is just so much in this novel I can’t begin to unpack it and I will be buying myself a copy so I can reread it. Esme is a child hiding under the table in the Scriptorium, the place, a garden shed in fact, where the majority of the Oxford English Dictionary was pieced together over several decades, one letter and one word at a time. It is the place Esme learns about words and their meanings and about the importance of words to different people.

Some words are more important than others – I learned this, growing up in the Scriptorium. But it took me a long time to understand why.”

Esme collects a fallen word, Bondmaid, and hides it in a trunk, this is the start of her Dictionary of Lost Words, it is also the start of a journey to discover more words, words that are missing from the dictionary, words that ordinary people, especially women, use every day, but which are not given the importance that other words are given.

As Esme grows older she discovers the Suffragist movement and the Suffragettes, she discovers the women who work in the markets, the downtrodden and forgotten, the servants, the workers, other women who a person of Esme’s standing shouldn’t be mixing with, and she discovers Words. These are words she has never heard, words that have been left out of the dictionary, or whose meaning has been left out because it didn’t come from a scholarly source. I found this fascinating and reading the author’s notes about how the book came to be and the research she did was just as interesting.

        “I know some quite bad words. I collect them from an old woman at the market in Oxford.”

       “Well, it’s one thing to hear them in the market and quite another to have them roll around inside your mouth.” She took my dressing gown from the back of the door and helped me into it. “Some words are more than letters on a page, don’t you think?” she said, tying the sash around my belly as best she could. “They have shape and tecxure. They are like bullets, full of energy, and when you give one breath you can feel its sharp edge against your lip. It can be quite cathartic in the right context.”

Esme’s life revolves around the Scriptorium, but through words and her experiences, she leads an interesting life. The cast of characters that share Esme’s life are varied, from the scholars in the Scriptorium, Lizzie, a maid in the big house, who becomes so much more, her Aunt Ditte who is a mentor, a teacher and more, Gareth who works in the print shop, and most importantly, her father, who if it wasn’t for the way he brought up his daughter as a single parent, none of what Esme achieved would have happened; all these people and more have a huge part to play in how Esme conducts her life.

Pip Williams shows us the inequality between men and women, not just in societal expectations, but in lack of opportunity for academic achievement, the fact women’s voices aren’t heard or respected, that they can do a degree, but can’t graduate. This is made very clear in how words are chosen for the dictionary that they are building. So many things we now take for granted, but at the same time we still have that inequality.

I highly recommend this novel, I’ve been struggling to stay on track with my reading this past month as I’ve said in previous posts and as I’ve read from many other readers, but this book had me wanting to read, needing to know what was going to happen next.

Thank you to The Pigeonhole, Pip Williams and Affirm Press for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel.

For those interested, there is a great video you can watch on Facebook through Dymocks Books, click here for the link.

Buy Links

Affirm Press         Amazon AU        Amazon US             Bookdepository          Booktopia

FB_IMG_1577105032228       #AWW2020   25/50

 

 

 

Book Bingo Round 4: Coming of Age

I’m a bit late posting this as it was due yesterday, but better late than never. This is round 4 in #BookBingo2020 hosted by Theresa Smith Writes & Mrs B’s Book Reviews & The Book Muse

IMG_20200412_165558

This month I’m using the book Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry to cross off the square Coming of Age. This novel is about two teenagers from different social groups whose surprise friendship through a school project makes them reassess their lives and their beliefs. I reviewed this back in February, but if you’d like to have a read of my thoughts you can do so here.

I admit to finding #BookBingo2020 much hard than last year despite only having to read one book a month, I think this is because unless I plan well what I’m reading, I am stuck for choice in which square I can find a book for. I’ll try and plan better for May.

Happy Reading.

Something Creative: #ShelfPoetry and Other Creative Pursuits

How are you all? I’m ok, slightly stressed as are a lot of us, I’m struggling with some of my books I want to be reading, but I’m just finding others to read while my brain settles down. I’m also trying to do some creative things, being an Art Therapist I have a lot of things on hand to utilise and try out, I just find I don’t find the time for it, or more to the point I don’t MAKE time for it.

My friend and artist Cindy from Soul Art posted this fun exercise this morning that I thought was perfect for all us book lovers out there, especially when some of you might have time on your hands.

The challenge was to write a poem or short story using the titles of the books on your shelf.

Mine ended up being quite introspective, I’ll try for a fun one later as I really enjoyed the process. I’d love you to share yours if you want to play along.

I sometimes feel I’m one of THE LOST ONES
I look at the girl in the mirror and I see THE SCREAM BEHIND HER SMILE
Despite ALL THAT IMPOSSIBLE SPACE around me,
THE GIFT OF LIFE I’ve been given,
A LIFETIME OF IMPOSSIBLE DAYS I have lived
I wish I could sit under THE CEDAR TREE and contemplate the BEAUTY of the TRUE BLUE land around me. I think of THE MEMORIES THAT MAKE US and how hard THE ART OF FRIENDSHIP can be.
I remember life is full of LOVE AND OTHER BATTLES
That there are FLEETING MOMENTS we should hold onto.
I look out at the JEWEL SEA and bask in the SUNSHINE
And decide to be DEFIANT and remain UNDAUNTED about THE THINGS WE CANNOT SAY
Maybe I’ll jump IN AT THE DEEP END, stroll ALONG COUNTY ROADS and find THE ROAD TO HOPE and I’ll embrace ALL THAT IMPOSSIBLE SPACE and people will say you’re YOUR OWN KIND OF GIRL and I’ll build a CASTLE OF DREAMS and make sure my SPIRIT DANCES.

Book Poem 1

I used quite a few books for my poem, but it could be as short or as long as you like.

 

I’m also taking lots of photos of nature when I can get out into it.

IMG_20200407_153614 img_20200323_182720505664801272485803.jpgIMG_20200407_155933

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also been playing with my watercolour inks, these are great for the events we are going through because you can only control them to a certain extent, the rest is up to chance.

IMG_20200402_093104mde

 

I hope you share some of you #ShelfPoetry with me, I’d love to see what you come up with, at the same time it’ll give me an insight to what you have on your shelf.