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While You Were Reading by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

July 1, 2019

While You Were Reading is a quirky, lighthearted novel just perfect for a weekend read. A delightful contemporary romance about finding your true self, and real friends that warmed my heart, and had me staying up late till the last page.

Full of bookish references, and plenty of Melbourne haunts, there’s lots to love including very relatable bookworm Bea, who is trying to rebuild her life after moving to Melbourne for a fresh start. Picking up a second hand book at a local bookstore, she falls in love with the handwritten annotations in the margins, and begins a quest to hunt down the author. Finding herself in a job she hates, lacking in friends, she turns to the local Barista Dino for motivation and moral support, who supplies her apt handwritten bookish quotes on her daily coffee cups.

I absolutely enjoyed The Book Ninja, and I wasn’t sure that While You Were Reading would be able to live up to the first book by Ali Berg and Michelle Baus, but I’m very pleased to be wrong. I’ve added them both to my must-read author list, and will be keeping a keen eye out for their next novel.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.


The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

June 14, 2019

The Other Half of Augusta Hope is written about two twins, Julia and Augusta, who couldn’t be any more different. While Julia is pretty, calm and happy with her life, while Augusta is strange, inquisitive and eager to escape their world. Augusta feels at odds with her family, and struggles with acceptance, all the while forming a close bond with Burundi. Despite their differences, the bond forged between them is strong, they do everything together and share everything. That is, until a family holiday in Spain, where a mysterious event sees Julia becoming withdrawn, and leaving Augusta guessing about what unfolded that day on the beach.

The story is told from two narratives, Augusta, and Parfait who is trying to escape the violence and blood shed in Burundi with his family, each chapter bringing the pair closer together, till their paths cross. Briefly at first, but when they do finally collide, and Augusta finally learns the consequences of that fated day in Spain.

I really enjoyed The Other Half of Augusta Hope, it had me in tears, and took me on an emotional roller coaster that I was all too happy to go on. I found myself relating all too well with Augusta and her nomadic quirks, and the story wrapped up beautifully in the end.

* This eBook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

May 6, 2018

Estranged best friends, Zorie and Lennon, fell out a year ago after she was stood up by him at the homecoming dance and Zorie’s father is only too happy that the pair are now best enemies instead. Struggling socially, reluctant Zorie (who had a perfect plan for summer) is given a bit of a nudge by her step mother to step outside of her comfort zone and attend a glamping trip away with the popular kids. Little does Zorie know, but Lennon too will be there. And after said kids desert them in the middle of the national park, leaving her alone with Lennon, she finally learns the truth about why Lennon stood her up all those months ago and they both starts to gradually heal old wounds.

I picked up Starry Eyes because I desperately needed a light and fun read, and a break from the heavier books I have been reading lately, and it delivered this in spades. A few pages in, and I was delighted to read, “Astronomy is my holy grail. Stars, planets, moons, and all things space. Future NASA astrophysicist, right here.” I’m something of a science geek myself, and loved to not only feel a kindred kind of connection with Zorie, but just simply seeing the field represented in print meant everything.

So many science fields are male dominated and it’s so important that movies, novels, comics, media, represents and reflects girls in these roles, so that we get more young women dreaming and believing that they too can build a career in science.

But even once we step past my initial appreciation of Zorie’s astrophysics interests, I found the story a delightful and heart warming read. I found myself easily connecting with her, and having spent a few weeks out camping myself, enjoyed that aspect of the novel too. The growing reconciliation between Zorie and Lennon was sweet, and had me hooked and I appreciated the nod to safe sex practices tucked in there too.

And if that wasn’t enough, we also had the loving relationship between Zorie and her step-mom showing that love extends far beyond genes and biological ties. And throughout it all, Zorie learns some important lessons about how planning can’t save you from everything. That change is inevitable and uncertainty is a given.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.


The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

May 4, 2018

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a delightful tale that follows the aftermath of the tragic deaths of Alice’s parents in a horrifying fire that consumed their seaside home. Alice is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, and it is under her care, and the care of the other Flowers that work for her that Alice gradually starts to find her voice and slowly starts on the path to heal. All the while learning about her family heritage and the language of flowers. The journey takes a sharp turn, however, when Alice comes face to face with a betrayal that leaves her reeling, and fleeing for the desert.

A beautiful and heart wrenching debut from Holly Ringland, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart had me hooked from the attention grabbing first line: “In the weatherboard house at the end of the lane, nine-year-old Alice Hart sat at her desk by the window and dreamed of ways to set her father on fire.” Captivating and enchanting, this is a tale of redemption, healing, and unraveling the stories of the past, while carving out a future for yourself.

The story told predominantly in Alice’s voice, starting as her nine year old self, and following her as she grows up into a young woman in her late twenties. Other minor characters also occasionally lend their thoughts too, but it is usually brief and it is never long before we’re once more in Alice’s shoes. And although I often find multiple points of view jarring, Holly Ringland skillfully weaved them together, and I appreciated the insights the eclectic mix of minor characters throughout offered.

I found the novel so well written, that it is difficult to believe that this is Ringland’s debut, and I can’t wait to read more of her works.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Three Gold Coins by Josephine Moon

April 4, 2018

This is the second book of Josephine that I have read, and I adored it even more than The Beekeeper’s Secret. It was a touching tale following Lara, an Australian girl, who has escaped to Rome, eager to distance herself from her past. In Rome, she soon finds Samuel, an elderly and somewhat cranky man in distress and she’s just what he needs, even if he doesn’t yet realise it. It is not long before she unravels Samuel’s own tragedy, and they both work towards overcoming and healing.

There is heartache, and romance, and plenty of foodie goodness. It was hard not to salivate on reading all the delicious Italian food that Lara was preparing and eating. The only thing that would make this book better, would be the inclusion of a few of the recipes in the back so we can try them out.

The Three Gold Coins touches on heavier topics too, among them domestic violence, stalking, and suicide, and handles them delicately and with respect. Yet, Josephine Moon still doesn’t gloss over the sometimes harsh consequences of our failed systems, and that’s reflected with how the story unfolds. Having had my own personal experience with a ‘Dave’, it was somewhat cathartic read that had me shedding a few tears towards the last couple of chapters.

Thank you Allen and Unwin for giving me the opportunity to read Three Gold Coins, it was a perfect read that I devoured in just a couple of days.

*Three Gold Coins was won in a give-away ran by Allen and Unwin.


Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence by Michael Marshall Smith

April 1, 2018

Inspired by Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence, here are my selection of the stories I’ve starred in my younger years: The Tale of a Ten-Year-Old Witch, The Story of Having Untameable,  Frizzy White Hair, The Weirdo Chronicles of an Avid Reader, and The Saga of Eleven Schools in Thirteen Years.


This coming of age story stars an eleven year old girl, Hannah Green, and begins just as her family is starting to fall apart. With her mother having run away to London, and her father left struggling to cope, Hannah is sent off to live with her grandfather. And there, she meets her father’s employer, the Devil himself, and suddenly her mundane and routine existence starts to change, and she’s taken on a journey with them to attempt to fix the machine her Grandfather, the Engineer, built some several centuries earlier.

I am not entirely sure what I was expecting with Hannah Green and Her Unfeasibly Mundane Existence; the blurb about it on Goodreads was brief. But sometimes, the best sort of books start out that way, with no idea as to the direction the story will take, and this was very much the case with this story. I found it to be incredibly well written, and I particularly enjoyed the Devil’s dialogue. The plot was relatively fast paced for most of the story, though I did find it slowed down towards the final quarter of the book. It was often amusing, and dabbled in themes of good and evil, balance, family, morality, and fate.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperVoyager through Edelweiss+ for an honest review.


The Book Ninja by Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

March 29, 2018

Melbourne living Frankie Rose was in a bit of a rut, both in love, and in writing after both a failed relationship and the release of a book to particularly poor reviews. But she has a plan, and with her helpful and sometimes sabotaging best friend, Cat, she’s determined to find just the right kind of man; the sort that is as well-read as she is.

And how is she going to achieve this? By leaving her favourite books out on train lines with a date offer for any who picked up and read through to the end. What could possibly go wrong?

The Book Ninja was an absolutely delightful read, full of quirky bookish themes, sweet and yet flawed characters and, of course, liberal dose of humor that left me giggling throughout. This book warmed my heart, and left me feeling all kinds of warm and fuzzies after I finished it.

I particularly loved all the bookish quotes scattered throughout the novel, everything from A.A Milne, to Christopher Paolini, John Green and, of course, Jane Austin. There was plenty of book culture, family drama, friend dynamics, hilarious mistakes, romance, and reminder about courage, and finding yourself. The fact that it was set in Australia, and featured plenty of public transport (which I am an avid user of myself), just was the icing on this bookish cake.

I loved it, better than pizza and I look forward to seeing what Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus come up with next.

5 out of 5 Stars.

Release date: 1st of June, 2018

* This ebook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster (Australia) through NetGalley for an honest review.


The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

March 26, 2018

Born illegitimately, with an unknown father, and her mother dead, Brienna is raised by her grandfather until she turns 10, when she is handed over to Magnalia House to be educated in one of the five passions. And she tries them all, before finally settling on Knowledge. Her indecision costs her though, and she has considerably less time to prepare for Solstice, and things do not go according to plan. Left without a patron, Brienne unexpectedly finds herself in the middle of a dangerous plot to overthrow the King of Maevana.

That I found myself awake till two in the morning, unable to put the book down, and needing to finish the last couple of chapters, is likely indication enough that The Queen’s Rising for me was a five star read. It was incredibly well written, and it was easy to imagine all the little details of the characters and the world as the story is told.

I loved that Brienna is far from perfect, her failures surprised me, and it made her all the more relatable and believable. I adored her friendships with the other girls at Magnalia House, particularly with her room mate. And of course, her Master, Cartier. While the romance side of things, definitely did have a bit of a slow burn, it did feel like a bit like she fell in love with him near instantly at the start of the story. But that doesn’t really take into account the 7 or so years she spent with him being taught ‘off-screen’.

For me there was plenty of action going on to keep me reading, and struggling to put this book down every night, but towards the end, things seemed to wrap up just a little too perfectly, which doesn’t leave much room for a sequel, given the book is the first in a trilogy. I would loved to have seen a few more unexpected twists and perhaps just a couple more things going wrong at the end.

5 out of 5 Stars.

* This ebook ARC was provided by HarperCollins Publishers Australia through NetGalley for an honest review.


Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

March 19, 2018

Starfish tells a story about a young half Japanese woman Kiko, and her emotional journey of self discovery and strength as she struggles to cope with being rejected from her dream art school, Prism. With her best friend, Emery, leaving town, Kiko loses her crutch and starts to make the first steps into the world on her own, and her less than understanding, and self absorbed mother doesn’t make it any easier for her. Gradually as the story is told, Kiko learns about the true meaning of beauty, friendship, and family and finds a strength in her she didn’t realise she had, but was there all along.

“I feel weird just standing there listening. Do other people do that? Move from circle to circle, socialising with everyone like they all know each other? It seems invasive. I don’t know the rules.”

This novel is told from Kiko’s point of view, which I absolutely loved. So much of what she said resonated so strongly with me, particularly when she describes and draws about her experience with social anxiety. The anxiety was represented beautifully, and there were so many points in the book where I felt it was echoing exactly the sorts of things I’ve felt. In my head, I was mentally saying. “This is me. This is me. I’ve been there,” so many times, which made the whole story all the more poignant and personal.

I love the little descriptions of her sketches at the ends of the chapters an seeing how they evolved as Kiko grows as a person and learns about how to be strong and deal with her hideous mother which has had such a strangling and suffocating effect on her, and her siblings.

I adored that as the story progressed, she was self aware enough to realise that she needed to do a bit of healing, on her own. That Jamie can’t ‘save’ her, and before she can let people into her life, and love them, she needs to learn to accept and love herself,

This book is just beautiful and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Black & White Publishing through NetGalley for an honest review.


5 / 5 stars



Akemi Dawn Bowman is the author of Starfish (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster) and Summer Bird Blue (Fall 2018). She’s a proud Ravenclaw and Star Wars enthusiast, who served in the US Navy for five years and has a BA in social sciences from UNLV. Originally from Las Vegas, she currently lives in England with her husband, two children, and their Pekingese mix.

She is represented by Penny Moore of Empire Literary.



Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1) by Amanda Foody

February 22, 2018

Ace of Shades is a dark fantasy novel set in the deviant and twisted City of Sin where casinos, magic, crime and gangs are rife. Enne, more used to being a proper lady, is more than a little out of her depth. Finishing school did not prepare her for this! Still she is determined to find her missing mother and unravel the secrets of her past.

The story begins with Enne’s arrival in the port of the City of Sin, after having spent a couple of weeks at sea. At first, she has only her tourist’s guidebook, ‘The City of Sin, a Guidebook: Where To Go and Where Not To,’ to aid her, but it isn’t long till she enlists the help of bad boy Crime Lord, Levi and his people.

And right from the first chapter, you’re dropped into the thick of the action that rarely seems to let up in the 400 or so pages that the story unfolds in.

Enne starts off as a somewhat whiny proper young lady, that struggles with the onslaught of everything that is this City, but over the course of the book we get to see her harden up, and really develop and grow as a character, becoming more bold, sassy with a bit of bad-ass, which I absolutely loved.

Levi is not your typical bad-boy. He is bisexual, has emotional depth, friendships, his own goals and desires. He’s not quite as hard or as seasoned as some of the other Crimelords in the story, and has a strong relationship and bond with his mate Jac, a fellow Iron, which was great to see play out. I loved his aura-reading ability and I very eagerly imagined all the bookish candles that could be created to reflect the scenes and colours that he sees with everyone he’s close enough to depict an aura of.

The world building was phenomenal, with an amazing amount of detail that was just very casually distributed throughout the story, from the drinks, to the food, the streets, and the buildings, you could tell the story was very much a labor of love for Amanda Foody.

There’s a bit of a hint of romance, but it wasn’t the main focus of the story. Certainly there was no insta-love, but rather, the sparks are flying and it is a slow burn, developing slowly as the story progresses, and I can’t wait to see where things end up in the sequel between them.

All-in-all, I absolutely loved this book, enough that I’m going to be going out to get a hard-cover copy as soon as it hits the shelves and will be eagerly waiting the sequel.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Harlequin Teen through Edelweiss+ for an honest review.