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

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New Release Book Review: Choosing Lillian by Rania Battany

Choosing LillianI Loved Call Me Lucy by Rania Battany and Choosing Lillian is the second in the Stolen Hearts series which follows on a little while after and this time social worker Lillian, who helped Lucy in the first novel, gets her own HEA.

For those who have read Call me Lucy, you will know that the chemistry between Lillian and the police officer Blake, was palpable, so it was no surprise that these two characters find ways to reconnect after Lucy’s case is finished.

Blake was definitely the instigator in this relationship, making excuses to catch up with her, and though shy, knew what he wanted when it came to Lillian. I really liked Blake and I was barracking for him through the whole novel, such a lovely guy, and very protective when it came to Lillian and it turns out, he has every reason to worry about her. Lillian isn’t too sure of what she wants due to the breakdown of her marriage a year before, and because of this, she sends lots of mixed signals to poor Blake, and to herself. I thought her friends and family weren’t very supportive of Lillian starting a new relationship, except of course Lucy, who was right behind her. Lillian is also still suffering the loss of a young client and still coming to terms with her inability to help when it was needed. Lillian has lots to deal with including her ex-husband who causes a few extra issues she definitely doesn’t need.

I really enjoyed the relationship that built between Lillian and Blake, I loved how the chemistry they had led to so much more, they both just had to trust and make the jump.

We meet many of the same characters in Choosing Lillian, but I changed my mind about a few of them in this story. I found Lillian’s mother to be very unsupportive of Lillian in this novel, and I didn’t like her much at all, she was constantly trying to get Lillian back with her ex, who was an asshole, and I couldn’t understand her thinking or lack of empathy. I found Gabby to be quite judgy and very naive, but I’m looking forward to reading her story and seeing where she ends up. I still am not a big fan of Leila, but she is starting to soften a bit more, I guess her relationship with Jacob from the prequel novella Letters to Leila, is softening those sharp edges of hers.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

 

FB_IMG_1577105032228#AWW2020  20/50

GR Aussie Book Bingo Challenge – Post #2

One of my challenges for 2020 was the GR Aussie Book Bingo. Every fortnight on a Wednesday I will aim to post which square I’m crossing off of the GR Aussie Book Bingo card.

There are 4 levels to the challenge:

  • Shelf: (10 books – 2 rows)
  • Bookcase (15 books – 3 rows)
  • Library (20 books – 4 rows)
  • To Infinity and Beyond ( 25 books – 5 rows)

Obviously, I’m aiming towards infinity.

I got a little behind in my posting for this one, so I’ll cross off three squares today.

Screenshot_20200217_172512

 

I’m crossing off the Non-fiction square with Bowraville by Dan Box a true crime/memoir, the 400+ pages square with The Pearl Theif by Fiona McIntosh, which has a huge 500 pages and Set in Another Country with Bound by Silence by Suzanne Cass which is set in Hawaii.

I will endeavor to post on time next time, which should be in two Wednesday’s time.

Screenshot_20200130_091042 IMG_20200206_190147Bound by Silence

New Release Book Review: The Sinful Scot by Maddison Michaels

The sinful scotFirstly HAPPY RELEASE DAY  to Maddison Michaels.

I am a big fan of Maddison Michaels’ Regency romances ever since reading her first book The Devilish Duke followed by The Elusive Earl,  so I was really looking forward to the newest book in the Saints and Scoundrels series, The Sinful Scot.

This was slightly different from the first two books in the series, dealing with a couple of serious subject matters, with domestic abuse being the main one. We meet our main character, Connie, not long after her abusive husband had beaten and threatened her just before she is due to go down to a party they are hosting. This sets the scene for what Connie has endured for the past 3 years and gives you an understanding of where she is coming from in her lack of trust in both herself and Alec, our hero.

Alec is a doctor and her childhood friend who she snubbed because he didn’t fit her mother’s idea of who she should associate with. Alec is a very lovely hero and just the kind of guy you would want to have your back when you are on the run from the law for supposedly killing your husband whilst also running for your life. As Alec and Connie attempt to uncover the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding while trying to clear her name, the chemistry between them starts to heat up. Unfortunately, they have both had their hearts broken and are both trying to be in complete denial about their feelings for each other.

As they learn more about themselves and each other, their interactions are often amusing, but just as often serious. I liked how Connie is forced to grow throughout the story, I enjoy a heroine who doesn’t need to be rescued,  and Connie, while needing help to be rescued to start, comes into her own as the story progresses and Alec recognises that they need to work together.

For me, this story started off slightly slow, but when it picked up the pace, it was nonstop action and intrigue as they both try to outrun the police, some unknown assailants, and Fergus, her husband’s brother in order to prove her innocence and save her from two possible terrible outcomes. There was a definite twist in the ending of the novel, the bad guy was definitely not anyone I could have even guessed at, always a good thing in a mystery. I do enjoy a book with a happy ending.

Another great read by Maddison Michaels, I recommend picking up the other two books in the series also.

With thanks to Maddison Michaels, Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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Book Review: Dead Again by Sandi Wallace

This is my #AWW2020 book #2 and I’m also joining in the Backlist Book Challenge which Amanda @ Mrs B’s Book Reviews alerted me about,  so this is my first book in #20backlistin2020.

IMG_20200109_210413I’ve had this book, Dead Again by Sandi Wallace (Rural Crime Files, Franklin and Harvey #2) out of my library for 6 months, which is a ridiculous amount of time to have had it sitting next to my bed. I don’t know why I finally picked it up now, but I’m very glad I did as it was so good, I had trouble putting it down to go to sleep each evening. It was a ‘one more chapter’ book, but because the chapters are nice and short, I’d think, well maybe just one more.

Considering the fires all over our country right now, it was also quite a fitting read being about the aftermath of a terrible wildfire in Victoria 2 years beforehand and the search for the truth about those fires. I didn’t know this before starting reading as I didn’t read the blurb, I had it out because I read book one in 2018 and really enjoyed it. I’m now waiting for the library to get hold of book 3 for me.

In this novel, Melbourne journalist Georgie Harvey is on an assignment in the small rural town of Bullock 2 years after wildfires tragically nearly wiped out the town and killed 46 people. She is there to find a story, but she finds more than she bargained for. This novel asks the questions what are the long term after-effects of a tragedy like this on the people and the town? Should people rebuild in such an area? And why would they want to? It also asks the question if it is arson and the person is caught, what would justice look like for a crime like this?

As Georgie gets to know the people in the town and builds trust with several of the characters, she starts to uncover a mystery about a missing man, is he missing or is he dead, and if he is missing, then why? Her investigation leads her to work with police officer John Harvey from Daylesford, who we met in book 1 and who Georgie had an emotional connection with. This book takes place 8 months after book 1, and that connection is still there for both of them, but can anything come of it this time since Georgie is still in a relationship. For me, a big part of my enjoyment of this book was the connection between these two characters and the relationship and banter that builds between them. I can’t wait until book 3 now to find out where this possible relationship goes.

Franklin has his own issues in his town, with vagrants, vandalism, and break-ins to investigate as well as a love triangle that may prove dangerous to all involved.

The characters are all very real and very Aussie and I could relate to many of them and see the behaviours of others as very understandable, both the good and the bad.

I really loved meeting Georgie, Fraklin and his daughter Kat, as well as the other police officers from Daylesford. I wasn’t really a fan of Georgie’s partner AJ in books 1 and that didn’t change in book 2, I admit to having my fingers crossed the whole time that they would break up.

There was plenty of intrigue and twists and turns to keep me interested throughout this novel, and I enjoyed it even more than book 1. This can be read as a standalone, but for your enjoyment, I’d read book 1 first.

You may see this book pop up again in one or more of my challenges this year as there are a few crossovers.

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GR Aussie Book Bingo Challenge #1

One of my challenges for 2020 was the GR Aussie Book Bingo. Every fortnight on a wednesday I will aim to post which square I’m crossing off of the GR Aussie Book Bingo card.

There are 4 levels to the challenge:

  • Shelf: (10 books – 2 rows)
  • Bookcase (15 books – 3 rows)
  • Library (20 books – 4 rows)
  • To Infinity and Beyond ( 25 books – 5 rows)

Obviously I’m aiming towards infinity.

Screenshot_20200107_220846This week it is the square Rated 4+ by a friend

I’m going with Rania Battany’s novel Fleeting Moments which was rated 5 stars by HappyValley BooksRead as well as Helen Sibbrit and Nas Dean  as well as 4 stars by Mrs B’s Book Reviews

My review was published last week and can be read here

Until next time, happy reading.

Book Review: Fleeting Moments by Rania Battany

I’ve finished my first book of the year and my first book in the #AWW2020 challenge and what a fabulous book to kick off the year.

IMG_20191219_111738I actually read this at the end of November, but I was having an issue with fatigue and wasn’t up to writing a review, I also had a thought in bed after reading it about why Maya, the main character annoyed me so much, but by morning it had flittered away. I thought it only fair to reread it so I could give it a proper review, and I’m glad I did. The thought that came to me after reading it the first time was, ‘Hmm I think the reason Maya annoys me so much is that in many ways I totally relate to her and she has many of the characteristics I don’t like so much in myself’, as is so often the case with things that annoy us about others.

Reading this for the second time, I could see so much of myself and some of my relationships, in Maya, it was so clear and confronting. Rania Battany says in her author’s note at the end of the book “I wanted to create a heroine that was flawed, and Maya is seriously flawed. I often read stories with strong, independent and powerful women, and while these characters may empower others, I can never relate. I wanted to create a character who had to fight her way back after loss, not only the loss of a loved one but the loss of connection with themselves and others – the loss of self-identity and relationships. Regardless of each personal journey, the struggle of fighting through a period of darkness is a universal one, and I believe Maya’s journey is one a lot of women will be able to identify with.”

Well, Ms Battany has certainly achieved this, at least as far as I’m concerned, I identified a great deal. Her author’s note really connected with me the first time I read it too. Reading Fleeting Moments for the second time, was even more satisfying in some ways than the first time, maybe because I knew how it ended and I was able to relax a little more, maybe because this time I knew why Maya annoyed me so much and because of this I had far more empathy for her this time around, just like I realise I need to have for myself.

Maya really is a great character, she is flawed and sees herself as different from others, unable to connect properly, unable to be understood, she deals with anger and hurt by withdrawing or getting angry (I feel like I’m talking about myself).

When the book starts we meet Michael, an asshole, and her longtime partner, things hit rock bottom for Maya soon after and we ride along with her for the fallout.

Then we meet Sam, (big sigh), what a gorgeous guy, (just the kind of guy I need) and maybe the kind of guy Maya needed. Sam is positive, easy-going, generous, kind and a great friend. I loved Sam and wondered why he persevered sometimes with Maya (hmm another insight into myself). I loved the relationship that Maya and Sam started to develop, the whole getting to know someone can be fraught with many challenges, especially if you are full of self-doubt.

Another element to the story is Maya’s grief at losing her father and how this has impacted just about every aspect of her life. We all deal with grief differently, there is no right or wrong way and sometimes it can be really messy. I am lucky and haven’t experienced grief like Maya, I’m not sure how I’d cope and hopefully, I won’t have to find out for a very long time, but I imagine it would be a very messy and mixed up time. Seeing how Maya had coped with this grief was heartbreaking, losing the one person she thought truly understood her, made other relationships tumble.  Maya’s relationships with her sister and her mother are difficult and I  lived alongside Maya while she worked through the issues she had with them, wondering if they could be repaired in any way. My heart really went out to all three of them, I could completely empathise with each character.

We also meet Amanda, who Maya works with and who extends to Maya a hand in friendship. Amanda, and what she is dealing with, is a reminder that we need to connect with others, that we need to see past what is there on the surface and get to know people and find out how they really are coping with life. Connections with others are so important and we can all gain so much from taking the time to get to know people on more than a surface level.

This is a story of loss, grief, hope, love, friendship and finding oneself amidst the chaos of this thing we call life. This is a story I am sure I will revisit again one day because Rania Battany certainly achieved her goal of writing a character I was able to identify with and one that would give me hope “that healing is possible no matter how deep the pain

Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review. Thanks also to the author for giving me so much to think about and work on in my own life.

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My top reads of 2019 plus my blog birthday giveaway

This week marks the 1st birthday of my blog and I want to say thank you to everyone who has supported and followed me throughout the last 12 months, I hope to bring you plenty more reviews next year. To say thanks I am doing a giveaway which I’ll write more about after I let you know what my top reads were for this year, It was a tough choice and I changed my mind about the books and the amount of books I was going to list quite a few times. But here are my final choices in no order whatsoever. As with my books of the decade, they had to be books that have stayed with me all year and that required no prompting for remembering.

TThe True Story of Maddie Brighthe True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl was a book that evoked many emotions at the time of reading.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190514_200721The Lost Boy by Rachael Wright was another book that packed an emotional punch.

My review

 

 

img_20190121_065430Sunshine by Kim Kelly, this is a novel I have read twice this year as well as listening to the audio book.

My Review

 

 

 

img_20190127_200000Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry was yet another emotional read (I’m beginning to sense a theme here as I start putting these onto the page)

My Review

 

 

IMG_20191024_203440Invisible Boys by Holden Sheppard was a very emotional read that everyone should read.

My Review

 

 

 

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A Lifetime of Impossible Days by Tabitha Bird is probably the most emotional book I have read this year, this one had me crying for a third of the book, but it was an incredible story.

My review

 

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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin was a book that had me looking at my dreams for my life.

My review

 

 

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Daughter of the Sky by Michelle Diener was the first book I read in 2019 and a great historical romance in an unusual setting.

My review

 

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Ridgeview Station by Michael Trant was one of a handful of books I read by male authors this year and was a fabulous read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_154143In a Great Southern Land by Mary-Anne O’Connor was another emotional read.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190508_003954Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer was a book I enjoyed so much I bought it for my mum for her birthday.

My review

 

 

 

IMG_20190309_073822The Scream Behind Her Smile by Athena Daniels was brilliant.

My review

 

 

 

 

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Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee was a confronting look at sexual assalt and our legal system.

My review

 

 

 

Lastly, I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this year due to a lot of driving and some of these have been great, some just good and some not so good. The narrator makes all the difference to how well a book comes across. I’ve listened to several novels that friends have loved, but as an audiobook, they just haven’t had that impact for me. Here are a couple that stood out for me this year, if you enjoy your audiobooks you may want to check them out.

This Red Earth by Kim Kelly – My Review

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – My review

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – My review

The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed some of these (or not) or are inspired to pick one of them up.

For my blog’s birthday I’m giving two people the opportuntiy to win a kindle copy of their choice from my top reads this year (open internationally). Or a paperback copy of Sunshine by Kim Kelly (open internationally) or a paperback copy of Ridgeview Station by Michale Trant (Australia only). To be in for a chance to win please leave a comment on this blog or my Facebook page. You need to be following my blog of to have liked my FB page to enter (or both).

Happy reading.

 

Book Review: Loving Lucas by Jayne Kingsley

loving lucasI thoroughly enjoyed this romance novel, it had a sassy leading lady, Miranda, who has been quietly in love with one of her dad’s colleagues, Lucas, for a couple of years, but she’s decided it’s time to make him notice her. I loved the way Miranda chose to go about this, especially the help her best friend gives her.

Lucas has issues and in true stubborn male fashion, he keeps all his feelings and doubts to himself, while silently beating himself up about a past he had no control over. For such a confident business guy, he was sorely lacking in self-belief when it came to what he deserved.

Homelessness is something I’m pretty passionate about, I’ve always said if I win the lotto I will find a way to build some sort of homeless shelter, and I loved that this was something Miranda was so passionate about and used her knowledge as an architect and her dad’s company to make this happen.

At times Miranda showed her naivety, but I still enjoyed the interactions between her and Lucas and was hoping that things would work out for them, when or if Lucas finally pulled his head out of his ass.

Thanks to Jayne Kingsley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Up On Horseshoe Hill by Penelope Janu

IMG_20191105_105502Oh, how I do love reading a novel by Penelope Janu, it’s always an absolute pleasure and I find them hard to put down. Up On Horseshoe Hill is no exception, I read until the early hours of the morning and picked it up again as soon as I was awake.

I fell in love with Finn our leading man straight away (I seem to fall in love with all the leading men in Penelope Janu’s novels), he was lovely.

Tasked with investigating the deaths of several horses a few years before, Finn is determined to do his job, in doing so, he brings up memories better forgotten by Jet/Jemima, as well as a few other people who would like the investigation dropped. It becomes obvious that a potential crime may have been committed and this leads to danger for Jet.

Finn and Jet had a connection straight up, but the relationship that develops took its time as Jet has to learn to trust as well as realise Finn isn’t going to let his investigation go.

I really enjoyed the aspect of Jet’s job that allowed her to take her horses for children with disabilities to ride, working with people with disabilities and also being an art therapist, I know how wonderfully beneficial these beautiful animals are to healing and confidence.

I learnt a lot about what being a farrier involves and loved the zoo aspect of this story, I never realised how much you would need to know about various animals behaviour to work in this field. I also love the fact that Penelope Janu shows that despite the fact Jet has a learning disability, she is successful in her career choice, that there are always ways to work around things that could hold us back.

There was plenty to enjoy in this novel, family relationships, or lack thereof, friendship, romance, danger and mystery, small-town community and so much more. I also liked the way Ms Janu brings a much-loved character of mine from her previous novels into this story, Nate is an absolute honey that I have been hoping will find his own love of his life, alas I’ve been informed it won’t be happening just yet, but he will make more appearances in future books.

Up On Horseshoe Hill is out on the 18th November 2019, preorder your copy now, or rush out and buy it in 4 days time, it would make a great Christmas present.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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