30 October 2015

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of Here We Lie by Sophie McKenzie

RRP $29.99
Published in September 2015
* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *


On holiday with family and her adoring fiancĂ©, Jed, Emily couldn't be happier. But overnight, the idyllic trip turns into a waking nightmare when one of the group is found dead in what appears to be a terrible accident. 

The devastated party returns to London to cope with their loss while trying to resume their normal lives. But new revelations shed a shocking light on the holiday tragedy and set Emily on a perilous journey to discover the truth about what happened. 

Soon a terrifying series of threats and lies bring her face to face with the dark truths at the heart of her family - and into life-threatening danger... 

About the author

Sophie is the award-winning author of a range of teen thrillers, including the Missing series (Girl, Missing, Sister, Missing and Missing Me), Blood Ties and Blood Ransom and the Medusa Project series. Split Second is her first teen stand-alone novel in seven years and her first novel for adults was the psychological thriller Close My Eyes.

This giveaway has now closed.
29 October 2015

Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin and The Reading Room *

Kate Morton is one of my favourite Australian authors, and has sold more than 10 million copies of her books, quite an accomplishment. I've enjoyed all of them and The Lake House is her latest standalone historical fiction novel.

In the 1930s, Alice's younger brother Theo disappears during a Midsummer's Eve party at their estate, and is never seen again. The family leave Loeanneth (the lake house of the title) and never return. Alice grows up to become a crime writer, and seventy years later, Detective Sadie Sparrow stumbles across the cold case.

The story unfolds from multiple points of view, as we hear from Sadie, Alice and Alice's mother Eleanor. The result is a rich tapestry of family, regret, guilt, love, grief and the weaving together of secrets to form an intriguing mystery.

The Edevane family house Loeanneth is a character in of itself, magical and bustling with life, and then atmospheric, overgrown and abandoned after the tragic disappearance of little Theo. Morton's description of the house shut up and sealed for decades reminded me of the Paris apartment that lay untouched for 70 years

Morton has clearly had some fun in selecting the character names for The Lake House, Alice from Alice in Wonderland and Peter (Alice's assistant) from Peter Pan are both stories about lost children, and therefore fitting character names for this mystery about a missing child.

Alice was my favourite character by far though, an elderly writer, reclusive, aloof and set in her ways, she was an absolute joy to read.

Living in Australia, the tale of the missing boy is close to my heart, with the unsolved disappearance of William Tyrrell in the news every day and the case of Daniel Morcombe still fresh in my mind. I'll never understand how a person can just 'steal' someone from their lives and loved ones and claim them as their own. In a recent interview, Kate Morton said the disappearance of the Beaumont children had in part inspired her to write a mystery about a missing child.

The past and the present come together beautifully in The Lake House, and my only niggle was that the story was tied up way too neatly at the end in a coincidence that was a little too convenient for this reader to swallow. Some readers will love the reveal, but loyal fans who've read all of Morton's books will recognise that the magic that made me gasp in The Forgotten Garden and The Shifting Fog is absent at the end of The Lake House.

Still highly recommended and I can't wait to read whatever she writes next.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

Watch an interview here with Kate Morton filmed in Cornwall.
23 October 2015

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

* Copy courtesy of JAM PR * 

A modern-day Gatsby tale of forbidden love, family secrets and the true price of wealth. The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is filled with mystery, intrigue and a touch of glamour making it the perfect summer read.

The story begins with a dinner party invitation.
When young journalist Thomas Cleary is sent to dig up quotes for the obituary of a legendary film producer, the man's eccentric daughter offers him entrée into the exclusive upper echelons of Hollywood society. A small-town boy with working-class roots, Thomas is a stranger in this opulent world of private jets and sprawling mansions. Then he meets Matilda Duplaine.

Matilda is a beautiful and mysterious young woman who has never left the lush Bel-Air estate where she was raised. Thomas is immediately entranced by the enigmatic girl and the two begin a secret love affair. But what starts as an enchanted romance soon unravels a web of secrets and lies that could destroy their lives - and the lives of everyone around them - forever.

Filled with unforgettable characters and charm, The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine is a sparkling love letter to Los Angeles and a captivating journey beyond the golden gates of its most glamorous estates. Timeless, romantic and utterly absorbing, it is a mesmerising and poignant exploration of privilege, identify and the difficult choices we make in the pursuit of power.

Author Bio
Alex Brunkhorst is a novelist and a real estate agent specialising in multi-million dollar estates for wealthiest professionals in Los Angeles. She is also the founder of the popular luxury lifestyle site Bungalux.com. Alex is a graduate of Georgetown University and lives in Los Angeles.

This giveaway has now closed.
21 October 2015

Review: Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff

FBI Special Agent Roarke finds himself tracking a female serial killer in Huntress Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff.

Roarke is a great character who did time in the FBI Behavioural Analysis Unit (Criminal Minds anyone? Yes please!) but it's his prey who really steals the show.

The villainous female character is the star of the book, and it's her behaviour and first person narrative that really drive the reader.

The entire time I wanted to know what she was doing, why she was doing it and what she was going to do next. And boy, can she kick some ass!

The writing creates suspense and tension and Huntress Moon is a great crime-thriller. It's the first in the Huntress series, with Blood Moon next, followed by Cold Moon.

I've also heard on the grapevine that this series might be coming to TV in the US, so I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for that.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

Thanks to Carol at Reading, Writing and Riesling for the recommendation, she gave it 10 stars so how could I resist?
17 October 2015

Winner of illustrated children's picture book Wow! The Wonders of Our World announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's Friday Freebie to win a copy of illustrated children's book WOW! The Wonders of Our World by Joy Noble and Lucy Buxton thanks to Quikmark Media.

The giveaway closed at midnight last night, and the winner was drawn today, and:
the winner is Alisha Tostevin!

Congratulations Alisha, you'll receive an email shortly letting you know about your win, and as soon as you've provided your postal details, your prize valued at $19.95 will be sent to you directly from the publicist.

I'd like to thank Scott from Quikmark Media for providing an advanced copy of WOW! ahead of its November release for this giveaway. If you want to be a winner, I'm giving away a book a week for the next three weeks, so please enter and good luck!
16 October 2015

Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

I know Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a classic, but sadly I just didn't enjoy it, in fact, I considered calling this review: Fahrenheit 45none. 

I really wanted to fall in love with it, besides, it's set in a world where books are forbidden and firemen burn houses down instead of saving them.

Written in the 1950s but set in the future, I just found the world-setting too abstract. It's a warning to readers about the dangers of censorship and frightens us with an alternative world where people are obsessed with their TV walls and distracted by listening to the radio with their ear pieces.

Bradbury wasn't too far off the mark. You just have to sit on public transport for 5 minutes to see that everyone is 'jacked in' either wearing earphones, or staring into the screens of their smart phone or tablet. They seem completely disengaged with the world outside or even the people next to them.

Even though I didn't enjoy it, I'm glad I've read Fahrenheit 451 now, and at least can offer an opinion. The strongest opinion I have is that I don't think it should be a part of a high school syllabus. I just think that it's too abstract and removed for the youth of today. 

Do you disagree? Do you think I missed something? Let me know in the comments below.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
14 October 2015

Review: Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle

Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle is a collection that includes personal and private letters from some great names in history and literature, including: 

- King Henry VIII (writing to Anne Boleyn)
- Mozart (writing to his wife)
- Napoleon writing to his wife Josephine
- Beethoven (writing to his Immortal Beloved)
- Mark Twain (writing to Olivia Langdon)
- Oscar Wilde (writing to Lord Alfred Douglas)
and more!

A short introduction is given to each letter which was concise and welcome background setting the scene.

Some of the letters were beautifully written, some poorly written (but all reproduced in type font, so don't worry, you don't have to read their handwriting) and some just down right possessive. I'm talking about you Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Page 37):
But I should not like you to take long walks without me. I entreat you to follow my advice exactly, for it comes from my heart.

So, it turns out Mozart was possessive, jealous and just a tad bossy. Who knew?

For more insights into the love lives of 41 men from history, check out Love Letters of Great Men by Ursula Doyle.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
13 October 2015

Review & Blog Tour for The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

* Copy courtesy of JAM PR *

Popular Australian author Rachael Johns is best known for her rural romance and farm-lit novels, however The Patterson Girls is her first foray into a genre she herself calls 'contemporary life lit'.

Basically it's a story about four sisters, who grew up in a motel run by the family in a small town 3.5 hours from Adelaide, near Port Augusta.

Grieving the loss of their mother six months earlier, each sister has their own unique personality, one living in London, one in USA, one in Melbourne and the other in Perth. 

I think my favourite part of The Patterson Girls was the fact they all grew up in a motel. I grew up in a small town general store and could definitely relate to their upbringing. The motel in the novel has seen better times, and I was really hoping for a 'makeover.' This is one of my favourite sub-plots in a book, where a run down building is cleaned up and renovated. I won't spoil the story, but my needs were satisfied here as well.

The sisters aren't a cohesive and trusting unit in the beginning and their dynamics and personal troubles were interesting to discover. In fact, I found myself enjoying The Patterson Girls much more than I'd expected, having been initially concerned there might be too much romance. The ending was also satisfying and who doesn't love a family secret or a family curse?

My only reservations were that the sisters drank too much wine (oh well, no harm there right?) and I think the title should have been Patterson's Curse instead of The Patterson Girls.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

Feel free to visit Rachael’s website.
11 October 2015

Review: Frankenstein - Prodigal Son by Dean Koontz

If you've been following my reviews here for a while, you'll know I'm a big fan of Dean Koontz. I've read 27 books by Koontz, reviewed 18 of them and Frankenstein - Prodigal Son is the 28th.

The first in a series, Frankenstein is a mash-up of genres, including crime, science fiction and supernatural elements and while the character of Deucalion intrigued me, the story fell kind of flat.

Having said that, here's a great quote from page 41:
"Anger, like a long-repressed hunger, rose in Deucalion. Once anger had been his meat, and feasting on it, he had starved."
Prodigal Son is the first in the Frankenstein series, which contained five books at last count, but unfortunately I don't think I'll be reading any further.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
09 October 2015

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of illustrated children's picture book Wow! The Wonders of Our World

*Copy courtesy of Quikmark Media * 

You asked for it, and so I bring you a children's book giveaway. Enter below to get your hands on a copy of Wow! The Wonders of Our World (valued at $19.95) before it's published.

Blurb for Wow! The Wonders of Our World
In an era with rapidly changing technology, it’s important to remind children of just how far we have come. To develop a thirst for knowledge. To learn more about our planet and the amazing things it offers, and never take it for granted.

In the upcoming illustrated children’s picture book, Wow! The Wonders of Our World, authors Joy Noble and Fiona Johnston have written an engaging book that aims to help children discover more about the world around them, and develop a sense of curiosity.
Published 15 November 2015
RRP $19.95

Through the pages younger readers will learn about things such as:
  • How technology has changed the world (& how it was before)
  • How our awesome bodies work
  • The world of sport and why we need it
  • The power of music and its impact on the world
  • Different animals and their roles
  • An introduction into Multiculturalism
Educational and fun with lots of great illustrations, Wow! The Wonders of Our World is an engaging read for parents and caregivers looking to show kids just how amazing the world really is.

About the Authors
After working as a social worker and administrator in South Australia and New Guinea, Joy Noble has had many books published. She was awarded an AM for the development of the principles and practice of volunteering. Until her recent retirement Fiona Johnston was a freelance editor and writer.

Lucy Buxton is a children's book illustrator based in Melbourne. She has studied Visual Arts, where she majored in Printmaking, and post graduate studies in Arts and Community Engagement. Wow! The Wonders of our World is her first book.

This giveaway has now closed.
08 October 2015

Review: Swimming To The Moon by Robert Drewe

Swimming to the Moon by Robert Drewe is a collection of articles published in his column in a WA newspaper. They contain observations on life in WA and Australia and what it's like to grow up on the coast.

Most of the pieces (all of which can be read as a stand-alone or in any order) have a sense of nostalgia about them, however reading the columns back to back, I was aware of a little repetition that original readers may not have noticed.

Drewe's writing is biographical and sentimental with a touch of humour; but certainly not the 'hilarious snapshots' that were promised in the blurb.

All in all, I'd probably have enjoyed his newspaper column at the time of publication, however reading them back to back in this collection just didn't do that much for me.

In fact, the best part about reading Swimming to the Moon was that it qualified in two reading challenges: the Aussie Author Challenge 2015 and the 2015 Nonfiction Reading Challenge.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!
06 October 2015

HFVBT Spotlight of Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge

Published by Penmore Press,May 2015
In this spotlight, brought to you by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (HFVBT), we take a look at a historical novel based on a true story: Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge.

Blurb for Steering to Freedom by Patrick Gabridge

A troubled country, a courageous heart, and the struggle for freedom. In May 1862, Robert Smalls, a slave and ship's pilot in Charleston, South Carolina, crafts a daring plan to steal the steamship Planter and deliver it, along with, the crew and their families to the Union blockade. After risking his life to escape slavery, Robert faces an even more difficult challenge: convincing Abraham Lincoln to enlist black troops. 

Based on a true story,
Steering to Freedom tells the powerful and inspirational story of a young man who becomes the first black captain of a US military ship, while struggling to navigate a path to freedom for himself, his family, and his people.

Author Patrick Gabridge

About the Author

Patrick Gabridge is an award-winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. His passion for history extends to the stage, and his historical plays include work about the creation of the English Bible (Fire on Earth), the astronomers Kepler and Tycho (Reading the Mind of God), a volcanic eruption on Martinique (The Prisoner of St. Pierre), 19th century Boston publisher Daniel Sharp Ford (None But the Best), and the 1770 Boston Massacre (Blood on the Snow).

Patrick has a habit of starting things and has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Commission. 

His other novels include Tornado Siren and Moving [a life in boxes]. For more information visit Patrick Gabridge's website or his blog The Writing Life x3

04_Steering to Freedom_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL
05 October 2015

Winner of the Good Money giveaway announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's Friday Freebie to win a copy of Good Money by J.M. Green thanks to Scribe Publications.

This Australian crime fiction giveaway was popular with a total of 53 entries. The giveaway closed at midnight on Friday 2nd October, and the winner was drawn today:

Congratulations Joe S.!!

Congratulations Joe, please email me with your postal address, and your book will be sent to you directly from the publisher. (Please note you have 5 days to provide a valid postal address before your prize is forfeited).

I'd like to thank Scribe Publications for providing the giveaway, and all of you who entered, shared and tweeted. If you missed out, I'll be giving away a children's book this Friday, so feel free to enter and good luck!
01 October 2015

Review: You Are Dying, and Your World Is a Lie by Johnny B Truant

You Are Dying, and Your World Is a Lie by Johnny B Truant cover
You Are Dying, and Your World Is a Lie is the follow-up to The Universe Doesn't Give a Flying Fuck About You by Johnny B Truant.

Truant has a slap-in-the-face style of writing that is aimed at shocking and motivating his readers, and if you haven't come across this kind of style before, it could give you the kick in the pants you need.

This short e-book is FREE on Amazon Kindle, which is great! But if I'm honest, it doesn't have that much to add from the first book.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!