25 April 2016

Review: The Silent Twin by Caroline Mitchell

* Copy courtesy of NetGalley *

The Silent Twin is my first Caroline Mitchell novel and features one of my favourite tropes, a detective (in this case DC Knight) who uses their supernatural abilities to solve crime. Add to that the case of a missing nine year old twin and a suitably creepy cover, and I was ready to fall in love with The Silent Twin. Unfortunately this was just an okay read for me.

DC Knight's abilities weren't explained well enough for my liking, although to be fair, this is the third in the Detective Jennifer Knight series by Mitchell. It should be noted then that if character development is important to you, you'll want to start at the beginning of the series, however the novel can be read as a standalone.

Blackwater Farm was a great setting, but the 'whodunnit reveal' came from left field and to be honest I felt a little jibbed. Unless I'm the dumbest reader on NetGalley, I didn't pick the person responsible for the twin's disappearance although thankfully wasn't fooled by the red herrings thrown in. Oh well, it happens.

Overall, The Silent Twin was an okay read that had stacks of potential but fell short for me. I believe the author/publisher opted for the safe road here instead of making more of the supernatural elements and the entities at Blackwater Farm.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!

I've flagged Caroline Mitchell's Paranormal Intruder as a book I think I'll enjoy a lot more; being a personal account of paranormal activity in her home.
20 April 2016

Review: Sour Candy by Kealan Patrick Burke

Sour Candy is contemporary horror, and at only 67 pages, this novella is a quick and easy read. Don't be fooled though, author Kealan Patrick Burke manages to pack a punch from the very first page.

How's this for an opening sentence:
Four months to the day he first encountered the boy at Walmart, the last of Phil Pendleton's teeth fell out.
I was hooked from the start, and the concept is brilliant: Phil sees a strange boy in a grocery store who later turns up at his house calling him Daddy. Phil has no idea where the boy came from, but everyone around him believes Adam is his son. The other-worldly child wears odd clothes and will only eat sour candy, hence the title of the book.

If you like the feeling when the hairs on the back of your neck start marching towards the top of your skull, then Sour Candy is definitely for you. Also recommended for fans of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
16 April 2016

Winner of Choosing Xaverique by Karyn Sepulveda announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's giveaway to WIN a copy of urban fantasy novel Choosing Xaverique by Australian author Karyn Sepulveda. 

Entries closed at midnight Friday 15th April, and the lucky winner is.......


Congratulations Suzanne, you'll receive an email shortly and will have 7 days to provide me with your postal address. I'd like to thank Noble Words for the prize.

This is the last giveaway for a few weeks as I take a well-earned break on the high seas with a stack of books to read. I hope you all have something captivating to read and stay tuned for more bookish giveaways in May/June.

Carpe Librum!

15 April 2016

Review: Precious Things by Kelly Doust

* Copy courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers Australia *

Precious Things by Australian author Kelly Doust follows a handmade beaded collar through history to the present, touching on the women who owned it and wore it in the past.

Maggie is an auctioneer in London and she comes across the collar in a box of neglected lace and fabric and is immediately drawn to it. 

Interspersed between Maggie's narrative of busy family life in present day London, are individual vignettes from the previous owners of the collar, from 1890s France to the present day. Despite being written by the same author, each of the characters had their own distinct voice and setting, and as a reader I appreciated the skill required to accomplish this.

I loved the little sketches breaking up some of the content within the chapters, but I was soooo glad there was a timeline at the back, detailing the women who had owned and worn the collar/coronet so I could refer to it at the end.

When it comes to presentation, Precious Things was the most thoughtful and beautiful advanced review copy I've ever received. You can see in the photo below that it came wrapped with lace and ribbon, several postcards with quotes and a precious thing, a candle holder. Given author Kelly Doust has worked in the publishing industry herself, this should come as no surprise but it still made an impression I won't forget.

The cover design for Precious Things is wonderful, however my only gripe is that the collar on the cover doesn't match the description of the collar/coronet in the novel and I so desperately wish that it did. The collar in the novel had a recurring fleur de lis pattern, and I just don't see that in the lace collar on the cover.

If you're a fan of Kate Morton, historical fiction, vintage items and dual timelines, then Precious Things is for you.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

10 April 2016

Winner of The End Of Seeing by Australian author Christy Collins announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week's giveaway to WIN a copy of The End Of Seeing by Australian author Christy Collins. It was one of the most popular giveaways this year, so thanks to author Christy Collins for providing the copy.

Entries closed at midnight Friday 8th April, and the lucky winner is.......


Congratulations Rosalie, you'll receive an email shortly and will have 7 days to provide me with your postal address.

For those of you who missed out, feel free to check out my current giveaway. It'll be the last one for about 3 weeks though as I'm going on holidays and won't have regular access to update my site. I'll have lots of time for reading though, and can't wait.

Carpe Librum!

08 April 2016

Friday Freebie: Choosing Xaverique by Karyn Sepulveda

RRP $18.95
* Copy courtesy of Noble Words *

“I died this morning. At exactly 8.17am my heart stopped beating and I lay cold and still in the street. At 8.24am my heart resumed beating, I jumped up from the dusty pavement and ran home. Confused? Well, that makes two of us.”

Gabby Valis is just your average 15-year-old Sydneysider, with a life full of best friends, boys and school. At least, that’s what Gabby believes. But dying a horrible death – and inexplicably making a full recovery from her horrific injuries almost instantly – is bound to change a person. Gabby discovers that, like her father and grandmother, she is a Xaverique, a super-species with extraordinary powers that evolved from humans long ago. She must resolve to use these powers – and stay a Xaverique – before her 16th birthday or lose them forever.

Gabby’s love for Noah, a boy with terrible secrets, will be tested as she is drawn into battle with a great force for evil. And Noah must resolve some questions of his own: about his nature, his place in the world and where Gabby fits into his existence.

A final showdown – a war between good and evil, between family and true love – will force Gabby and Noah to choose their destinies… and live with the consequences.

This is a powerful urban fantasy with echoes of Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Meyer and Jess Shirvington, an extraordinary young adult debut and the first in a trilogy set in Australia’s iconic Sydney.

Author Bio
Karyn Sepulveda is a teacher and writer of Theatre in Education productions with a Masters in Creative Writing. She is currently writing the sequel to Choosing Xaverique, due for publication in late 2016. Karyn lives in Sydney with her partner and two young children.

For each book sold between 8-12 April, Karyn will give a copy to Father Chris O’Reilly’s Youth Off the Streets centres around Australia, and donate 20 per cent of sales taken between 13-17 April to this amazing charity.

This giveaway has now closed.
06 April 2016

New logo unveiled for Carpe Librum

Last year Carpe Librum turned 10 and as the site steadily climbs towards achieving one million hits I thought it was time for a logo.

Without further ado, I'm excited to share my new Carpe Librum logo with you below.
I love the fresh new look, and thanks to those who provided their feedback in the Crowd Design poll, your input meant a lot.

Stay tuned for a revamp of the blog design in the next few months as I update my style to fit with the new logo. Exciting times ahead and thanks for your support.

Happy Reading!
04 April 2016

Review: Maestra by L.S. Hilton

* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

Maestra by L.S. Hilton is the 'it' book at the moment - with film rights already sold - and let me tell you, it's hot!

Take a crime novel set in the art industry, spice it up 100 degrees and add a dash of the filthy rich and you have Maestra.

Judith Rashleigh is our femme fatale and is working for one of the top auction houses in London while harbouring a secret ambition to rise well above her station. She studies the rich and successful and those who know their fashion brands will enjoy her desire for beautiful things. I'm not much of a fashion aficionado, but I loved the references to paintings and artists, so there's something here for everyone.

Having said that, if you don't enjoy reading hot sex scenes, then look away now. The cover design of Maestra (showing a canvas slashed open) is intentionally provocative for good reason, there are plenty of hot sex scenes in this thriller. Judith is a confidently sexy woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to seek it out. She also uses her sexuality to further her own agenda in a serious and often risky way.

Judith has been compared by some readers to Lisbeth Salander but I can't really agree with the comparison. There are clear reasons Lisbeth does the things she does, but Judith's desire and ambition don't come with a detailed backstory; they just 'are'.

Maestra is an entertaining and sexy read, and the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars was because I wanted to know more of Judith's back story and motivations.

This book is hot hot hot! In fact, I don't think I've read a book this hot since reading Six Degrees by Honey Brown. Maestra is the first in a trilogy, so I look forward to finding out what Judith Rashleigh does next.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
01 April 2016

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of The End Of Seeing by Australian author Christy Collins

Valued at $19.95 AUD
* Copy courtesy of the author *

Determined to discover the truth about the disappearance of her partner, Nick, Ana sets out to re-trace the route he took as a photojournalist on the other side of the world - a journey that saw him presumed dead, on a ship wrecked off the coast of Italy.

But Ana doesn’t believe Nick is dead. In his photos, in the messages her memories of him seem to carry, and in her growing suspicion about his own need to disappear, she is increasingly sure he is alive somewhere.

As she tracks his journey, she begins to witness the world that Nick saw through his camera - a world in which disappearance is not unexpected.

Author Bio
Christy Collins' novella The End of Seeing was one of the winners of the Viva La Novella Prize 2015 and is published by Seizure. Her work has been shortlisted for the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Prize and long-listed for the Vogel. 

She is currently a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Tasmania. She lives in Melbourne and tutors in Australian Literature at the Australian Catholic University.

This giveaway has now closed.