21 March 2019

Bumper Birthday Stack Giveaway 2019

Carpe Librum 2019 Bumper Birthday Stack Giveaway
It’s my birthday in March and other than deciding I’m going to start reading Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor, I’m also excited to bring you another bumper birthday stack giveaway. Hip hip hooray!! Historically this has been my most popular giveaway in any given year so let's do it again.

You might be wondering where the books in this 'fat stack' come from. I'm fortunate enough to receive a number of unsolicited books from publishers each month and there's just no way I can get to them all. In some cases, they're also not for me. So to celebrate my birthday I'm sharing this curated stack of books with you.

To win the book of your choice from the pile, just select your favourite using the embedded form below or click here to go straight to the form. Simple as that! 

Depending on the number of entries, I may decide to choose a second winner. (Let's face it, I probably will).

Entries close midnight AEST Sunday 31 March 2019 so good luck and I hope you'll help me spread the birthday bookish cheer 😊

19 March 2019

Apple Island Wife winner announced

Thanks to those who entered last week’s giveaway to win a copy of travel memoir Apple Island Wife - Slow Living in Tasmania by Fiona Stocker. During the giveaway the book hit #1 in Travel books Australia and the giveaway was included in Ganeing Ground Tasmania Daily News which was exciting.

The winner was drawn today and congratulations go to:

This is the ninth giveaway May has entered so I was pleased when her name finally came up. Congratulations May! I’ll be sending you an email shortly with the details.

Stay tuned for more chances to win with my bumper birthday stack giveaway coming in March and a children's picture book giveaway coming soon! Hopefully there'll be something for everyone. If you want to see giveaway dates as soon as they're locked in, you can check my Giveaways page.

Apple Island Wife by Fiona Stocker book cover

18 March 2019

Review: The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens

The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens book cover
* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster *

I'm embarrassed to say I received this book for review back in 2015 and it's languished on my unsolicited TBR pile since then. In an effort to get through some of the backlog, I picked up The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens this month with the intention of reading just 10 pages before deciding if it was for me or not. I certainly wasn't expecting to be hooked by page 2, that's for sure!

Wolf is an experienced hiker and heads to the mountain overlooking Palm Springs to take his own life. However after a series of random events, he finds himself lost with three women on the mountain. Forced to survive gruelling conditions, Wolf is finally coming clean years later about what really happened during their five days on the mountain.

This was a gripping survival story and we know from the blurb that only three of the four hikers will survive. The tension comes from not knowing which of the hikers will succumb to the bitter conditions in the isolated wilderness.

I enjoyed the interactions between the characters and of course learning Wolf's backstory. The ending was unexpected, yet strangely satisfying too.

My only regret is not getting to this sooner.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

13 March 2019

Review: The Binding by Bridget Collins

The Binding by Bridget Collins cover
The Binding by Bridget Collins is one of my most anticipated reads for 2019 and it didn't disappoint. Collins has created a world where books are forbidden and the profession of bookbinder is akin to that of a witch. A binder has the power to take a traumatic memory - or series of memories - and erase it from your mind by binding it into a book. Many people suffering grief and trauma seek their services, despite being shrouded in superstition and plagued by prejudice.

Emmett comes from a farming family and he’s bedridden with a mysterious illness when a letter arrives summoning him to become apprentice to a bookbinder. His parents mysteriously say they have no choice, and Emmett swiftly finds himself plucked from his life into an unknown and uncertain future.

Emmett's master is Seredith, an old woman living alone on the marshes. Slowly but surely Seredith teaches Emmett the tradesman skills required to bind books. Working with vellum, paper, leather scraps, gold foiling, glue and more, this was by far my favourite part of the story. I was pleasantly surprised to learn Collins is an amateur bookbinder herself and her experience clearly shines through. As Emmett learned these same skills, I yearned - along with him - to discover more about the process of binding a person's memories.

I was happy for the entire book to be about Emmett, his apprenticeship and relationship with Seredith however we were soon jerked out of that story and thrust in a new direction. Ahhhh! In fact, I'm still mourning the early trajectory of the novel, and can only hope Collins pens another novel in this world, and completes the reader's desire to know absolutely everything about the bookbinding process.

The Binding is a combination of fantasy and historical fiction or historical fiction meets urban fantasy. It doesn't clearly straddle either genre and I loved that it contained hints of folklore and myth whilst remaining rooted in reality.

And that cover, wow! I have to comment on the overall presentation, because it's an absolute masterpiece. The Binding is a stunning book to hold in your hands. Deckled edged pages are bound in a glorious spine with gold foiling designed to look like an embossed leather tome. The cover design is 
deliciously intricate and the French flap adds even further to the appeal. It's sublime and to truly enjoy reading The Binding, you simply must read a physical copy.

I loved The Binding - in spite of the altered direction - and can't wait to see what Bridget Collins writes next.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

08 March 2019

Friday Freebie: WIN a copy of Apple Island Wife – Slow Living in Tasmania by Fiona Stocker

Today's Friday Freebie is travel memoir Apple Island Wife - Slow Living in Tasmania by Fiona Stocker. Please enter below for your chance to win. Open internationally and entries close Sunday 17 March. Good luck!

What happens when you leave city life and move to five acres on a hunch, with a husband who’s an aspiring alpaca-whisperer, and a feral cockerel for company? Can you eat the cockerel for dinner? Or has it got rigor mortis?

In search of a good life and a slower pace, Fiona Stocker upped-sticks and moved to Tasmania, a land of promise, wilderness, and family homes of uncertain build quality. It was the lifestyle change that many dream of and most are too sensible to attempt.

Wife, mother and now reluctant alpaca owner, Fiona jumped in at the deep end. Gradually Tasmania got under her skin as she learned to stack wood, round up the kids with a retired lady sheepdog, and stand on a scorpion without getting stung.

This charming tale captures the tussles and euphoria of living on the land in a place of untrammelled beauty, raising your family where you want to and seeing your husband in a whole new light. Not just a memoir but an everywoman’s story, and a paean to a new, slower age.

Author bio
Fiona Stocker was born in Australia and raised in the north-west of England. After graduating in the arts, she worked in London and Brisbane in the fields of theatre, advertising, education and recruitment. A circuitous route and a sense of adventure took her to Tasmania in 2006, where she and her husband established Langdale Farm, a tiny free range pig farm with accommodation. Who knew? Fiona writes freelance and edits other people’s books. Apple Island Wife is her first travel memoir. She lives in the Tamar Valley of northern Tasmania with her husband, two children, a retired sheepdog and around forty-five pigs. Read more at www.fionastocker.com


06 March 2019

Winner of the writing gloves from Literary Book Gifts announced

Thanks to everyone who entered last week’s 'handy' giveaway to win a pair of cashmere writing gloves from Literary Book Gifts valued at $52USD. This was a popular giveaway and the top colour choices were: electric blue, wine red, black and heather navy blue.

The winner was drawn today and congratulations go to:
Congratulations Krystal! You chose dark green as your preferred colour and will receive an email shortly with the details. Thanks to Literary Book Gifts for the prize.

For those who didn't win, I'm running another giveaway on Friday so please stay tuned for more chances to win with Carpe Librum! Check out my giveaways page for a sneak peek.

Literary Book Gifts writing gloves
Literary Book Gifts
Cashmere writing gloves

04 March 2019

Review and personal mention in Hunter by Jack Heath

Hunter by Jack Heath cover
RRP $29.99AUD
Published 4 March 2019
Allen & Unwin
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

I have exciting news to share, I've been mentioned in the praise section of Hunter by Jack Heath, published by Allen & Unwin and available in bookstores today! But let me back up a minute.

Hunter is the second in the series to feature Timothy Blake and which began with Hangman. I was a huge fan of Hangman and some of you might remember I published a recipe style review last year which Allen & Unwin really enjoyed. 

Since then, I've been eagerly awaiting the next novel in the series but had no idea an excerpt of my Hangman review was going to be published in the praise section at the beginning of Hunter. I was stoked to receive an advance copy and when I saw Carpe Librum mentioned, my reaction was immediate and visceral. Wooohoooo!!! It's been a dream come true and I'm elated that I can now share it with you.

Naturally I've been on cloud nine since then, however I was also understandably nervous that Hunter would live up to expectations. I'm relieved to say it did!

The riddles at the beginning of each chapter are back and continued to do my head in, although I think I had a better solve rate this time. Blake is officially no longer a consultant for the FBI and when Hunter opens, we find him involved in body disposal for a local crime lord. He still sees FBI agent Reese Thistle, but when he stumbles across a body that has nothing to do with his new 'role' he finds himself in quite the predicament.

Quote from Carpe Librum blog
Praise section of Hunter by Jack Heath
Note the quote from Carpe Librum blog

I enjoyed Blake's character development in Hunter. He continues to develop feelings for Thistle and vows to be a better man so that she never has to discover his dark secret.

Blake remains the likeable bad guy protagonist, and Aussie author Jack Heath does an astonishing job of continuing to make the reader root for the cannibal detective. Hunter is a solid follow up to the first in the series, with no perceivable drop off in writing, tension, action or body count.

Highly recommended!

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

P.S. Read a FREE sample of Hunter and see the Carpe Librum mention on page 4.

01 March 2019

Review: Claude & Camille - A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

Claude & Camille - A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell book cover
After reading Claude & Camille - A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell, I've decided Monet was a detestable fellow and a sponge on all who knew him. There, I've said it!

Reading a fictionalised account of the life of a favourite artist is a risk and unfortunately it didn't pay off for me this time. I will continue to admire Monet's artwork but this insight into the man revealed an unlikeable artist who repeatedly made decisions that infuriated me.

Of course I knew he and his first wife Camille lived in poverty, but I didn't realise how proud he was, how he was constantly in denial about his mounting debts and often ran away to escape them. During periods of greatest financial need, he was often too upset or worried to paint; his only source of income.

The frequent mention of impressionist artists was to be expected and Renoir, Bazille, Sisley, Degas, Cezanne and Pissarro all feature in Monet's life.

While I didn't like Claude Monet and therefore wasn't terribly interested in his life, this is not a reflection of the author's writing. Stephanie Cowell has done a great job bringing Monet's story to life and her detailed research shines through.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!