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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 Bakery at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke

June 30, 2018

This heart warming story tells the tale of bride-to-be Meg Larson who is starting to have doubts about her upcoming marriage to Sam, who seems more interested in cycling and one of the women on his tour than Meg herself. Add to that, a less than welcoming group of potential in-laws and it is not surprising that Meg is starting to get cold feet.

But things are starting to turn around for her: a potential buyer has come forward for the Bakery she wishes to run, and her dream job is now fully in her sights, along with Nathan, her estate agent, who she just can’t stop thinking about.

When I picked up this book, I had no idea it was the second in a series, but to be honest, it did not matter, and worked well as a standalone. The story had me giggling right from the first page, and pulled me in with it’s relatable characters that left me craving cake and other baked goods the whole way through! It was a light and easy read, with a romance that left me rooting for both Meg and Nathan right to the last page.

4 out of 5 stars.

* This eBook ARC was provided by Bookouture 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.


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.


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.


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.



I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman

March 6, 2018

I Have Lost My Way follows the lives of three individuals as they collide into each other in a very literal way when Freya falls from a bridge, only to land on Nathaniel, with Harun there to witness. Freya is an up and coming singer, who has lost her voice. Nathaniel is a small town boy who has just arrived in New York with little to his name, and Harun is a homosexual Muslim son, destined to leave home and find a wife and recently lost the love of his life, James.

The story follows their lives over the next twenty four hours as they find themselves connected in more ways than they imagine, each dealing with loss, and grief and struggling to cope. These three beautifully written and diverse characters band together, working to help each other overcome their obstacles and in doing so, realizing that they are no longer alone.

I have not read anything by Gayle Forman before, so I wasn’t at all sure what to expect in I Have Lost My Way, and was more than pleasantly surprised to find myself immediately hooked from the first few pages. It was a light and easy read, and it wasn’t long before I felt invested in the characters, eager to see how things turn out. It was an emotional read and I loved the themes of empathy and loss, and seeing how important sometimes even the little things can be to someone.

* This ebook ARC was provided by Simon & Schuster through NetGallery for an honest review.


Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

February 16, 2018

In the third and (probably?) final installment in the life and loves of Lara Jean, she’s in her senior year, and all excited and ready to head off to college with Peter. She’s also planning (or rather taking over) her father’s wedding to Ms Rothchild, and on a quest to bake the perfect cookie!

But things don’t go according to plan, and Lara Jean is left scrambling as she tries to cope and make some difficult decisions.

I found the pace a little slower than the previous two books, and things didn’t really liven up till just past the half way point in the book. Lara Jean was less likable, and especially in the first half of the book, sometimes felt like reaching through the book and throttling her.

But like with the previous books, Lara Jean has some growing to do as a person, and it was great to see how the character developed throughout the course of the book.

What I loved:- Food, and cookies, and Korean face masks. A light, and cozy read, perfect for my Valentines read.

What I didn’t love:- Little in the way of antics in the retirement village.

I enjoyed all three books in the series for what they are, a light and easy read, that was the perfect break from some of the heavier, and more emotionally twisted novels. But I’m happy now to put them aside, and get into something else.


P.S. I Still Like You by Jenny Han

February 11, 2018

Well, that didn’t last long did it? I somehow devoured the second installment in the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before even quicker than the first one, finishing it up just before my clock hit 2am and I was in dire need of some sleep.

So, it’s not surprising that I found P.S. I Still Love You as light and easy to read as the first. It was heart warming, it was warm and fuzzy, and it was completely adorable and utterly cute.

All the foodie goodness that I loved in the first book was just as sweet in this one, with the added touch of the Stormy antics, and all the goings on in the retirement village where Lara Jean is now working. I enjoyed the insight that Stormy gave to Lara Jean’s problems with the video, and the ongoing and perhaps unwanted advise into her love life, including a completely awkward and very relevant chat on safe sex.

I did think the story was a little bit slower paced than the first one, with most of the storyline seeming to unfold in the second half of the book, but the adorable supporting characters, especially Kitty and Stormy, really seem to carry it all the same.


To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

February 9, 2018

This was a surprisingly enjoyable read, easy, relatable and likable characters and a story that warmed my heart. I needed a light and fun read, and this filled that need perfectly. I found myself drawn in to Lara Jeans world and her predicament right from page one and unable to put the book down, read it in about a day, which would be the fastest read I’ve done for quite a while!

I loved that Lara Jean is half-Korean, and those little details about her father trying his hardest to cook Korean food, and other aspects of their culture just really added to the story. I also enjoyed that the story revolved around the three sisters, and how they cope with their mother’s death, and then the Margot’s departure off to school. It made me more than a little wistful for a sister or two of my own.

The progression of developing feelings towards the male characters in the story was right on point, and had me experiencing all the feels right up to the last page. I was going to read something else next, but find that I have no choice but to read the next in the series. And probably the next after that!