book review

Ghosts Of The Past | Tony Park

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Ghosts of the past | Tony Park

 Africa, 1906: A young Australian adventurer is condemned to death.

Sydney, the present: journalist Nick Eatwell has just lost his job, but his day is brightened when a fellow reporter, South African Susan Vidler, comes into his life looking for help with a story.

Susan is chasing information about Nick’s great-great uncle, Cyril Blake, who fought in the Anglo-Boer War and later joined the struggle for independence across the border in the German colony of South West Africa, now Namibia.

A long-lost manuscript proves Nick’s forebear was a somewhat reluctant hero. Soldier, deserter, cattle rustler and freedom fighter, Blake was helping the lost cause before the Kaiser’s forces ordered his assassination.

In Germany, historian Anja Berghoff is researching the origins of the famed desert horses of Namibia. She’s also interested in Blake and an Irish-German firebrand and spy, Claire Martin, with whom Cyril had an affair.

Nick and Anja head to Africa on the trail of a legend, but someone else is delving into the past, looking for clues to the secret location of a missing horde of gold that’s worth killing for.

Spanning two centuries, Ghosts of the Past is based on a true story

 Review:

Ghosts of the past is based on a true story of a 24 year old Australian who fought in the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, and during the Herero and Nama wars in German South West Africa.

While Ghosts of the past is based on a true story, and has some fictiicious points through out, overall it was a interesting and insightful read into a war that, to be honest, I never knew had ever happened nor existed.

Ghosts of the pasts goes through such in depth detail of the war, soldiers, what I believe is one of the first of many concentration camps and I think a main focal point of the story, the desert horses of Namibia.

We see how gold and greed can change anybody, and that people show strength and resilliance in the most heroic and heartfelt ways.

In between the throwback chapters of the war, we also have current time chapters where a decendant of the main character in this story, Cyril Blake, has become interested in chasing up his own family history after being contacted by a journalist who is wanting to write a story.

As you go back and forth between the past and present, you learn about these men and women from the past, and how they fought and tried to survive during the war, and how and old wives tale so to speak (lost treasure anyone?) and peoples greed can lead to unimaginable things

 Tony’s descriptive writing style and slow burning action paced storyline keeps you turning the pages wanting more, and thinking about it once its done, leave me completely enthralled from start to finish.

 A huge thank you as always to the team at Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy!

Book details

Publication 23/07/19

Imprint: Macmillan Australia

RRP: $32.99 AUD

Format: Trade Paperback

ISBN: 978-1-76078-211-5

book review

The Astrid Notes | Taryn Bashford

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Synopsis:

Astrid Bell 
Dutiful daughter. Classical singer. Secret pop songwriter. And suffering from stage fright.

Jacob Skalicky. 
Trust-fund kid. Indie singer. Immensely gifted performer. And refusing to sing again.

Are they polar opposites? In his grief and fury at the world, Jacob certainly thinks so.

But when Jacob loses everything and Astrid uncovers a shocking family secret, they may need each other to make sense of their lives.

Review:

I’ve been lucky enough to read some great books so far this year, ones that make you feel so many emotions all at once, and The Astrid Notes was one of those.

We follow the story of Jacob, a lead singer in a band, who loses everything. He stops doing everything that he loves, and just completely loses himself in his grief, completely shutting himself off to anyone and everyone, and in a while just sliding through life at that moment, and not really living it fully.

One the other side is Astrid, an opera singer, managed by her dad, not really living the normal teenage lifestyle so to speak, not going out, having fun or discovering herself. After losing people she has loved, she doesn’t want to disappoint her dad or those who have left her behind. Astrid also struggles with wanting to keep her dad happy, all the while stopping herself from being who she really wants to be and doing what she really wants to do and loves.

With Astrid and Jacob being brought together, they bring out the best in each other, and push each other to be who they really want to be.

I loved everything about this. How both Astrid and Jacob are so similar in ways, but yet so different. The exploration of grief, and how each individual handles it differently, and how two completely different people can come together and heal each other.

The Astrid Notes was beautifully written, heartfelt, sad and beautiful all at the same time, and I will be definitely picking up Taryn’s other book, The Harper Effect.

 

* Thank you to the amazing team at Macmillan Aus for sending me a copy of this book to read and review.

 

Book details:

Publication: 23/07/19

Imprint: Pan Australia

Format: B-Format Paperback

RRP: $16.99 AUD

ISBN: 9781760556440

 

book review

The Bride Test | Helen Hoang

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Hello bookfam!!

As soon as a finished The Kiss Quotient I had to go and see what other books Helen Hoang had published. I was so excited to see she had come out with The Bride Test, this time following the story of Khai, who we all met in The Kiss Quotient (well, those of us who have read it anyway).

After I received the book, I thought, am I going to absolutely inhale this the same way I inhaled TKQ? Is it going to live up to the hype and expectations of TKQ? Am I going to be totally engrossed in the story and laughing at the funny/cute moments and giggling at all the sexy ones? The answer to all of those is YES YES YES YES AND YES!!

I absolutely adores The Bride Test, just as much as TKQ, if not more. And since i read it in one sitting that’s saying something. I love how while we have a crossover of the characters from TKQ into The Bride Test, the book could completely stand on it’s own.

I adore Khai! He makes my heart happy. He’s sweet, kind and a little lost sometimes (aren’t we all) but I think that’s what makes him such a great characters, he does things his own way. I loved when Esme offered to cut his hair, and he told her he was autistic (again, same as TKQ, i was so into everything else I sometimes forgot for a little while that that was the case) and the way he preferred to be touched, and why. And Esme just kind of looked at him, having no idea what autistic meant, and was like…okay!!

Now. Esme. Absolutely love her! She’s just wholesome, a little flirty and how she wants to do the best thing for her family, especially her daughter, even if that means flying to another country to marry a man she’s never met. I also loved that when Khai couldn’t tell her he loved her, she decided that she would find a way to support her family and bring them to America on her own. YAASS GIRL!!.

Esme and Khai are completely different, and yet while he was against all of it at first, and she was trying her hardest, they switched around and she decided to do it all on her own, and he finally realised he couldn’t be without her. *cries*

I just can’t get enough of Helen Hoang’s writing and I just want to read her books over and over again.

Helen is definitely one of my favourite new found authors this year and I’m so excited to read her new book she’s working on about Quan!! I can’t wait to see his story and have all of her much loved characters back in between pages.

5 stars!

  • A huge thank you to the team at Allen And Unwin for sending me a copy of The Bride Test in exchange for an honest review.

The Bride Test is out now!!

 

Until next time!

 

Lizz x

 

About the book:

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

book review

A Nearly Normal Family | M.T. Edvardsson

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Synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old Stella stands accused of the brutal murder of a man almost fifteen years her senior. She is an ordinary teenager from an upstanding local family. What reason could she have to know a shady businessman, let alone to kill him?

Stella’s father, a pastor, and mother, a criminal defence attorney, find their moral compasses tested as they defend their daughter, while struggling to understand why she is a suspect. Told in an unusual three-part structure, A Nearly Normal Familyasks the questions: How well do you know your own children? How far would you go to protect them?

Review:

Well hello there, slow burning murder mystery thriller!

One thing I love the most about any thriller really, is the suspense and slow burning story building. A nearly normal family didn’t disappoint in that aspect.

From the synopsis we see that nineteen-year-old Stella has been accused of murdering a wealthy older man. But why?

A nearly normal family goes through three points of views, first from her father Adam, then Stella herself and finally her mother Ulrika.

We see how Stella’s parents portray her as an out of control teenager, which I feel most parents say about their own children at one point in time.

Stella portrays her parents, more so her father Adam as over protective and not allowing her to do her own thing and live her own life. Sound familiar a little? It’s all the love hate relationship I think most of us have had with our parents one time or another.

And while Ulrika’s part of the story is mostly based around Stella’s trial, we go back and forth from the present to the past, to see how Ulrika had her own problems and issues, like her marriage and motherhood, and feeling a little left out and unloved compared to a strongly built relationship that was made between Adam and Stella.

As usual I don’t want to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to read it yet, because we all know how much that sucks.

There are so many twists and turns and I couldn’t even figure out who done it, or why until the end when everything was finally out in the open. And the secrets! Oh so many!! But as always, there is always more than one side to every story and secrets always have a way of coming out.

If I had one negative about this, it would be that I felt that Adam’s part was just a little too long and I felt like I didn’t get enough but I got to much at the same time and at times it felt a little dragged out.

You will continue to question what is happening and be kept waiting until the end. An on the edge of your seat murder mystery thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed and am glad to have been able to spend time reading.

A huge thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a finished copy of A Nearly Normal Family in exchange for an honest review.

OUT NOW!

Until next time, happy reading!!

Lizz x

book review

Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls | Justine Ford.

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Synopsis:

Can you catch a killer or find a missing person?

Australia is ‘the lucky country’. But not for everyone. Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girlstells thirteen stories of people whose luck ran out in the most mysterious of circumstances.

It’s a journalistic deep-dive into Australia’s dark heart by one of Australia’s premier true crime writers, Justine Ford, the acclaimed bestselling author of Unsolved Australia and The Good Cop.

Why are four people missing from a Western Australian doomsday cult? Who abducted and murdered beauty queen Bronwynne Richardson on pageant night? And why is a cooked chook important evidence in the outback disappearance of Paddy Moriarty?

Key players are interviewed, evidence laid out and suspects assessed. Never-before-published information is revealed. Can you help crack the case and solve these mysteries?

Hold tight as Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys, Gone Girls takes you on a chilling yet inspiring true crime rollercoaster ride where the final destination is hope.

Review:

One of my favourite things to do besides reading all kinds of books and bookstagramming about them is being an armchair detective (Justine called her readers armchair detectives in the opening of her book and I was like YES so I’m using it, thanks Justine!)

Anyway, I love being an armchair detective, and watching true crime series, documentaries etc etc, and while 100% of the time it is so heartbreaking and sad for the people involved and their families, I just find the “after” of it so interesting. By that, I mean the detective working going into finding out who is responsible and all of the what, when, how and most importantly, why?

Unsolved Australia: Lost Boys and Gone Girls goes through the horrific and sad stories of 13 unsolved missing person cases. And let me tell you, there’s probably thousands more that remain unsolved right now.

You’ve probably heard of some of the more well known missing person/murder cases, but to be honest, I’ve never heard of these 13 before I started reading about them, and that’s just saddening to me.

These happened years ago, some before I was even a speck on Earth, and remain unsolved. I couldn’t put this down honestly. I was so drawn into the who, what, when and why of it all and the fact that even after years of extensive investigations, there’s nothing.

Unsolved Australia was a chilling, in-depth and truthful read, and I only hope that one day, not only the missing girls/boys/men/women in this book, but all of the others can find their way home, somehow.

 

*Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

book review

The Kiss Quotient | Helen Hoang

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Synopsis:

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic.

 

Review:

Let’s just say that TKQ was the book I never knew I needed until I had it in my hands. I just couldn’t put it down! Unfortunately I had to so I could actually try and get some sleep but as soon as I had some free time I picked it back up again the next day and finished it.

And you guys…WHAT.A.BOOK! I felt like I was in a reading slump for a good two weeks and this just pulled me right back out.

I love Stella. She was everything and made this book. I honestly forgot through most of the book that she had Asperger’s. I found her quirky, smart, and absolutely hilarious. And while some parts of Stella make you remember about her Asperger’s, such as her strict routine and kind of OCD attention to detail, the rest of who she is outweighs all of that and I was cheering her on so much through out the book.

And let’s talk about Michael for a second because HELLO! You could see the kind of man he was. Confident, sexy, a little bit of a bad boy but was soft on the inside, if anyone knows where I can get one of those please let me know!

I don’t want to gush too much as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it but since I’ve seen it almost everywhere on bookstagram I’m assuming most of you reading this have read it.

TKQ is funny, witty, saucy and sexy, I spent much of my time reading it smiling, laughing and giggling for obvious reasons.

Helen Hoang is a QUEEN! She knows how to write a book, she gave me everything I never knew I needed and is probably now one of my favourite and auto buy authors. I’m so excited to pick up the next book The Bride Test.

But really, if you haven’t read this, you need to! If you want a fun, sexy read, read it. If you feel like you are in a slump and don’t know what to read, read this. I’m kicking myself that it took me so long to read it. But honestly, I can’t wait to read it again!

And a huge thank you to the amazing team at Allen and Unwin for sending me TKQ for an honest review!

 

book review

Allegra In Three Parts |Suzanne Daniel

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Goodreads synopsis:

Eleven-year-old Allegra shuttles between her grandmothers who live next door to one another but couldn’t be more different. Matilde works all hours and instils discipline, duty and restraint. She insists that Allegra focus on her studies to become a doctor. Meanwhile free-spirited Joy is full of colour, possibility and emotion, storing all her tears in little glass bottles. She is riding the second wave of the women’s movement in the company of her penny tortoise, Simone de Beauvoir, encouraging Ally to explore broad horizons and live her ‘true essence’. Rick lives in a flat out the back and finds distraction in gambling and solace in surfing. He’s trying to be a good parent to Al Pal, while grieving the woman linking them all but whose absence tears them apart.

Allegra is left to orbit these three adult worlds wishing they loved her a little less and liked each other a lot more. Until one day the unspoken tragedy that’s created this division explodes within the person they all cherish most

Review:

Allegra in Three Parts is based around Allegra, who is an 11, and then 12 year old. We see how Allegra tries to keep her family together, when all they want to do is do anything but, all except love her fiercely.

Allegra is smart, most of that I believe coming from her grandmother Matilde, who is all about Allegra’s studies, and instilling discipline to ensure Allegra one day becomes a doctor.

On the other hand, her other grandmother Joy, is more of a free spirit, encouraging Allegra to think and feel for herself, while showing her and somewhat teaching her about equal rights, womens empowerment and movement.

We also meet her there but not there Dad Rick, who lives in a flat above the shed at Matilde’s place.

You can see the fractures in Allegra’s family through out the book, the not speaking to each other, and the secrets that they all keep, in some ways sheltering Allegra from the truth about her mother, but wanting her to not worry.

From Allegra’s POV we see her observations about her life, everything in it and surrounding it. It gives you a sense of how a child would think and feel, through these experiences, and questioning everything as a child often does.

I will mention that this book does contain certain areas of domestic violence, bullying, teen pregnancy and abortion.

Overall I genuinely enjoyed Allegra in Three Parts, the writing style was amazing, the story itself beautiful. For a debut novel, Suzanna Daniel has definitely knocked it out of the park and I’m excited for more wonderfully written stories.

 

BOOK INFORMATION

  • ISBN: 9781760781712
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pub Date: 28/05/2019
  • Imprint: Macmillan Australia
  • Price: $29.99

A huge thank you to the team at Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

book review

We Hunt The Flame | Hafsah Faizal – a book review

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Goodreads synopsis:

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

 

Review:

When I read the blurb for this book I was so excited, and when the ARC showed up on my doorstep I couldn’t wait to get started reading.

I didn’t hate it  but I was a little disappointed. The start was slow, and by slow I mean that I felt like I wasn’t connected to the stories or the characters until around page 170.

Even then, I felt like there was a lot missing from Zafira and Nasir’s back stories, and that we only really had a glimpse into who they really are in snippits through out the story, and I wish there was more.

I felt like I could of skipped over a few chapters and I wouldn’t of missed anything important.

It felt like I was reading a book I’ve read so many times before, and I wanted so bad to love it and rave about it but I need to stay true to my honest blogging and reviewing so I just can’t.

I really enjoyed the banter of the characters together closer to the end of the book and with that being said, the last 150-200 pages had me hooked, and it was probably my favourite part of the book.

And from the ending I’m assuming there is going to be a sequel, and I will most likely pick it up and give it if a read if that does happen.

For a debut novel I feel that it was a good start, the writing was descriptive in most parts, which I love in a book and I genuinely do think that a lot of people will love it, especially if they love slow burning stories.

I’ve given We Hunt The Flame 3/5 stars.

Until next time, happy reading!

Lizz xx

A huge thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me an advanced copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review.

 

book review

How It Feels To Float | Helena Fox – A book review

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Goodreads synopsis:

Biz knows how to float. She has her posse, her mum and the twins. She has Grace. And she has her dad, who tells her about the little kid she was, and who shouldn’t be here – because he died when she was seven – but is. So she doesn’t tell anyone her dark thoughts. She knows how to float, right there on the surface – normal okay regular fine.

But when the tethers that hold Biz steady come undone – when her dad disappears along with all comfort – might it be easier, better, sweeter to float away?

Review:

Life is terrible and beautiful, isn’t it? It’s the best/worst at the exact same time, all possibilities at once.

Let me start of by saying I inhaled this book. If I didn’t have to put it down to adult and go to work I would have read in all in one sitting, with that being said I did finish this in about a day.

And wow, what a book. What a story. What a debut novel by Australian author Helena fox.

Through Biz’s first person perspective, we get to see her struggles and the thoughts she has while trying to deal with the loss of her dad, and trying to figure out herself in regards to her sexuality.

While Biz’s story briefly touches on her sexuality and kissing her best friend Grace, it doesn’t consume the whole story, and instead we focus on Biz’s struggle with mental health.

Helena has used her own experiences of mental illness to create Biz’s story, and, if like me, you have also gone through the grief of losing someone, or struggled to find who you are, this book will resonate with you.

Beautiful and raw debut, that shows cases grief and the hardships of mental health, but to remember to find and surround yourself with those who bring back the light after you have spent so long in the dark.

A huge thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me an early copy for review!

Book info:

Release date: 23 April 2019 (AUS)

Hardback Edition (USA) : 7th May 2019

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia

Edition: Paperback

Price: A$17.99 RRP

ISBN: 9781760783303

Additional:

If you or anyone you know needs help, please reach out to someone you love and trust or a health professional. You can also find help at the listed organisations below:

Lifeline: 131114

Blackdog Institute: www.blackdog.org.au

Beyond Blue: www.beyondblue.org.au

book review

The Librarian Of Auschwitz | Antonio Iturbe – A book review

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Synopsis:

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.


Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

Review:

 I should mention that while The Librarian of Auschwitz is based on the true story of Auschwitz prisoner and Holocaust survivor Dita Kraus, it has been published as fiction.

Dita, who is 14 years old, is offered the “job” as the librarian of block 31. It was her job as the librarian of Auschwitz to monitor and hide the 8 contraband books in the camp. If Dita were caught with these books, she would die because of it.  It was a risk that Dita would take. 

“It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books, and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns”

We also learn about other characters in this book, sharing their own stories and thoughts, and most of them intertwine with Dita somehow.

After I finished this books I went online and I googled Dita, I just had to know more about her, and I was watching documentaries on Auschwitz for hours.

The Librarian of Auschwitz details the horrors of the concentration camps and the inhumanity of genocide. It details so much of what none of us should ever forget, and all of the innocent lives lost, and even those who survived.

Dita Kraus (pictured below)

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