New Release: How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones

The latest bookmail to arrive in my mailbox is this Young Adult beauty by Australian author Eliza Henry-Jones. I’ll be aiming to read this book in April, so keep an eye out for my review in the next few weeks. I can’t think of a better time to read Eliza Henry-Jones’s beautiful words! 

How to Grow a Family Tree by Eliza Henry-Jones

Stella may only be seventeen, but having read every self-help book she can find means she knows a thing or two about helping people. She sure wasn’t expecting to be the one in need of help, though.

Thanks to her father’s gambling addiction, Stella and her family now find themselves living at Fairyland Caravan Park. And hiding this truth from her friends is hard enough without dealing with another secret. Stella’s birth mother has sent her a letter.

As Stella deals with the chaos of her family, she must also confront the secrets and past of her ‘other’ family. But Stella is stronger than she realises.

From the author of P is for Pearl comes a heart-warming book about family, friendship and what home can mean. 

REVIEWS

How to Grow a Family Tree is a sincere and complex reminder that life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”  – BOOKS+PUBLISHING 

“This is a sensitive story about the things that break people and the strength and resources they draw upon to start over.” – READINGS

 

Details and purchase links

Goodreads

 

Book Review: The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

dvl
The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

Blurb

An enthralling story of one woman’s determined grab for freedom after WW2 from a talented new Australian voice.

‘PART CABARET, PART BURLESQUE, AND LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER SEEN BEFORE! GENTLEMEN, AND LADIES IF YOU’VE DARED TO COME, WELCOME TO …

THE VICTORY!’

1945: After the thrill and danger of volunteering in an all-female searchlight regiment protecting Londoners from German bombers overhead, Evelyn Bell is secretly dismayed to be sent back to her rigid domestic life when the war is over. But then she comes across a secret night-time show, hidden from the law on a boat in the middle of the Thames. Entranced by the risqué and lively performance, she grabs the opportunity to join the misfit crew and escape her dreary future.

At first the Victory travels from port to port to raucous applause, but as the shows get bigger and bigger, so too do the risks the performers are driven to take, as well as the growing emotional complications among the crew. Until one desperate night …

1963: Lucy, an unloved and unwanted little girl, is rescued by a mysterious stranger who says he knows her mother. On the Isle of Wight, Lucy is welcomed into an eclectic family of ex-performers. She is showered with kindness and love, but gradually it becomes clear that there are secrets they refuse to share. Who is Evelyn Bell?

PRAISE FOR KERRI TURNER

‘Beautiful, daring, deceptive and surprising.’ The Australian Women’s Weekly

‘An impressive debut … one of the strengths of the novel is the tapestry it creates of everyday life in an era of great turbulence.’ Queensland Times
 

 

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

My Review

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner is a charming historical fiction novel that travels between WW2 London and the all-female searchlight regiment, to a post-war burlesque ship on the Thames, and a young girl’s search for answers on the Isle of Wight in 1963.  

Evelyn struggles to adapt to life after the end of WW2 where she was a member of the all-female searchlight regiment which played an essential, and often very dangerous, role during the war. After the war is over she feels stifled when she has no choice but to live with her sister’s family and return to the domestic life. When a chance encounter introduces her to the wild and risqué Victory – a ship that performs a part cabaret, part burlesque, show along the Thames – she grabs the opportunity to live a more exciting life on board while putting her skills with lights to good use. 

I was fascinated by Evelyn’s all-female searchlight regiment, the horrific job of the Graves Registration Officers, and the idea of a burlesque show getting around the strict post-war restrictions, which were all inspired by true stories. Kerri Turner has crafted a nice balance between providing rich details inspired by real historical events while avoiding the dreaded information dump. 

I adored The Daughter of Victory Lights and it had given me great comfort during this difficult time. I’ve not been able to read as often or as much as I usually do, but the fact that I’ve been able to finish reading this novel is a testament to the compelling story, interesting characters, and rich historical detail. I highly recommend The Daughter of Victory Lights to anybody who enjoys historical fiction, especially those interested in this era. 

5 stars! 



wp-1585451442655.jpg
The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

Details

Author: Kerri Turner

Published: January 20th 2020 by HQ Fiction

Source: Competition by Robinsons Bookshop

Read:  Paperback, 362 pages, March 2020

Goodreads

Purchase 

Book Review: The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Translated by Philip Gabriel

tcc
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel 

Blurb

Nana, a cat, is devoted to Satoru, his owner. So when Satoru decides to go on a roadtrip one day to find him a new home, Nana is perplexed. They visit Satoru’s old friends from his school days and early youth. His friends may have untidy emotional lives but they are all animal lovers, and they also wonder why Satoru is trying to give his beloved cat away. Until the day Nana suddenly understands a long-held secret about his much-loved owner, and his heart begins to break.

Narrated in turns by Nana and by his owner, this funny, uplifting, heartrending story of a cat is nothing if not profoundly human.

My Review 

“It’s not the journey that counts, but who is by your side”

A book about love, kindness, and a man and his cat’s heartwarming journey around Japan. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel, is a beautiful Japanese translation that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. A must read for all cat lovers.

Nana is a stray cat and is very proud of his street smarts until Satoru discovers him sleeping on his silver van and and begins to feed him tasty treats. Nana soon comes to trust Satoru with his life and decides that he will stay with him, even when Satoru tells him that they must leave their home to find a new person to care for Nana.

Nana doesn’t mind travelling in the silver van, he is happy anywhere as long as he is with Satoru. He also makes sure to cause problems in each of the old school friends homes they visit so that he is able to continue his travels with Satoru.

I loved this book and I loved the idea and execution of Nana narrating parts of the story. All cat slaves will recognise Nana’s sarcastic sense of humour, his judgmental attitude, his attraction to warm objects and old cardboard boxes, and his unwavering belief that he is superior to every animal he meets, especially humans.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles does have an enormously sad ending, but it is one of those special kind of sad endings that is beautiful, heartwarming, and worth all the tears. I honestly can’t remember the last book that had me sobbing like this one did, but I would still read it again and recommend it to anybody who has loved a cat and knows that their cat/s loved them back.

5 stars!

travellingcatchronicles
The Travelling Cat Chronicles with Zeus and Ziggy 

Details 

Author: Hiro Arikawa

Translator: Philip Gabriel 

Published: Published November 2nd 2017 by Doubleday (first published November 1st 2012)

Original Title: 旅猫リポート

Source: Library

Details: Hardcover, 256 pages, read March 2020

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Review: The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

mothersGR
The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

Blurb

What if you gave birth to someone else’s child? A gripping family drama inspired by a real-life case of an IVF laboratory mix-up.

‘Engagingly and unflinchingly told, Gannon’s new novel, The Mothers, is the story of every parent’s worst nightmare. It is that novel that makes you muse on the most difficult of questions … What makes a mother? And can you ever un-become one? Like all my favourite books, The Mothers is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and it leaves you with a lot to think about after you turn the final page. I sobbed my way through this wonderful book.’ – Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Mother-in-Law

Two couples. One baby. An unimaginable choice.

Grace and Dan Arden are in their forties and have been on the IVF treadmill since the day they got married. Six attempts have yielded no results and with each failure a little piece of their hope dies.

Indian-Australian Priya Laghari and her husband Nick Archer are being treated at the same fertility clinic and while the younger couple doesn’t face the same time pressure as the Ardens, the Archers have their own problems. Priya suspects Nick is cheating and when she discovers a dating app on his phone her worst fears are confirmed.?

Priya leaves Nick and goes through an IVF cycle with donor sperm. On the day of her appointment, Grace and Dan also go in for their final, last-chance embryo transfer. Two weeks later the women both get their results: Grace is pregnant. Priya is not.?

A year later, angry and heart-broken, Priya learns her embryo was implanted in another woman’s uterus and must make a choice: live a childless life knowing her son is being raised by strangers or seek custody of a baby that has been nurtured and loved by another couple.

My Review 

“Two Couples, One Baby, An Unimaginable Choice”

The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon is a powerful family drama inspired by a real-life case where two couples are forced to battle it out in court to determine who a baby’s rightful mother is after a mix-up at a fertility clinic. Is it the woman who is genetically linked to the baby or the woman who gave birth?

The first half of the novel focuses on two couple’s IVF journeys which enables us to intimately get to know them and the difficulties they faced trying to get pregnant. Grace and Dan went through 6 stages of IVF and are in their 40s, while Nick and Priya were younger, but facing a serious relationship breakdown due to the stress caused by IVF. I thought this section was really well-done and I imagine it is an accurate portrayal of how IVF treatment must negatively affect people. By the end of this section I was fully invested in both couples having a happy ending.

The second half of the novel examines how the mix-up was discovered, the reaction of the couples and the IVF facility, and the gut-wrenching court case. I had to put this novel down for a short while after the verdict because it was so emotional. I was heartbroken for the mother who lost, although I ultimately do agree with the decision that was made.

Genevieve Gannon has outdone herself with this novel. The characters are so well developed, and their fertility battles and the court case, are described in such an empathetic way that I found myself rooting for all of them. The Mothers is an emotional read, but it does end on a positive note. I loved this book and I can’t wait to find out what is coming next from Genevieve Gannon.

Five stars!

moth
The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon

Details

Author: Genevieve Gannon

Published:  January 7th 2020 by Allen and Unwin

Source: Author

Read: Paperback, 384 pages, Feb-March 2020

Goodreads 

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Jan-Feb Reading Wrap-Up

bsh_vivi
Some of the books I reviewed in January and February 

This year got off to a slow start reading wise but I certainly made up for that in February. I managed to get myself out of a long blogging slump, catch up on most of my outstanding book reviews from last year, and I have read some fabulous books.

On a personal level, the start of this year was a little bit insane. The bush fires affected almost all of us here in Australia in some way or another, and although the worst fires have mostly  been contained now, there is a long road to recovery ahead and issues to overcome.

I have also finally knuckled down and am writing a terrible first draft of the novel that has been knocking around inside my head for a good while now. I’m off to a good start so far and have come up with a good writing routine that is working for me, so fingers crossed it turns into a final draft some day!

Books I read in January

I only managed to read one book in January, but it was a corker! Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton is already an Aussie classic, and rightfully so. It’s a bit of tricky book to classify genre-wise, but just trust me, you need to read this one!

boywp1
Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Read my review 

Books I read in February

My next review, and first February, review was Love and Other Battles by Australian romance powerhouse Tess Woods. Love and Other Battles is a multi-generational family saga that moves between the Australian suburbs, the Vietnam Wars, and the bright lights of Nashville.

battlesWP
Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

Read my review

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean is another great Aussie novel: a bit a a Gothic mystery set in the 90s.

van apfel WP
The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

Read my Review 

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe was my first non-fiction read of the year and I recommend this  book, or its children’s counterpart Dark Emu, to everyone in Australia. Dark Emu challenges the idea that Aboriginal Australians were only hunter-gatherers before colonisation and provides compelling evidence for this argument. A must read!

darkemuwp
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Read my review 

The Accusation by Wendy James is a gripping Aussie thriller that had me guessing until the very end.

the accusation
The Accusation by Wendy James

Read my review 

I ran a giveaway for the hilarious So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved hearing about everybody’s favourite love stories and hope Melanie, the randomly chosen winner, enjoys her new book!

qrf_vivi
So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

Read my review

Postscript by Cecelia Ahern is the long awaited sequel to PS I Love You. I thought it was a lovely sequel to such a well-loved book and movie, not an easy task to accomplish, but it was very well done.

postscriptWP
Postcript by Cecelia Ahern

Read my review

I loved Blackthorn by Terry Tyler. It’s set in the future a couple of generations after a virus wiped out most of the world. Blackthorn is the largest community in the UK and a charismatic young traveller brings back spirituality. This novel is part of Terry Tyler’s Project Renova universe, but it can also easily be read as a stand-alone novel.

Blackthorn-Twitter-square
Blackthorn by Terry Tyler

Read my review

My final book review for February was The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan. This is the third book of the Irish Detective Cormac Reilly series and I think it might be the best one yet. This series if perfect for you if you love character driven crime fiction and gritty Irish detectives whose accent you can hear while reading.

gtZZ
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

What’s Coming up in March?

I am planning to keep up my reading and writing routines, so look out for some fabulous new book reviews over the next month.

I don’t want to tie myself down too much, but if you take a look at the bookshelf in my main photo you might be able to spy some of the books I will be reading soon in the background.

I’m currently reading and loving The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon, so you should be seeing a review for that very soon!

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan (Cormac Reilly #3)

the good turn
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

“Sometimes to fix the law you have to break it”

Blurb

The unputdownable new novel from the bestselling author of The Ruin and The Scholar.

Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected things that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

goodturn
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

My Review

The Good Turn is the ripping third novel of the Irish Detective Cormac Rielly series by Dervla McTiernan.

My favourite  brooding Irish detective with a heart of gold, Cormac Reilly, is still facing serious issues caused by bitter office politics and corruption in the police force. While Cormac is fighting for his own job, young Garda Peter Fisher is forced to leave Galway  amid controversy and work in the sleepy town of Roundstone with his  father.

What I love about the entire Cormac Reilly series is the focus on the office politics, the relationships between the police officers, and the people they deal with. Of course they do use modern technology to help them solve crimes, but most of the focus is on the people and their interactions; most of the crimes are solved by asking the right questions and good old fashioned detective work.

Like the rest of the series, The Good Turn is a character driven novel. I found myself falling in love with the people of Roundstone and, as always, hoping that Cormac would manage to solve the crime and live to fight another day, but not being sure how he was going to pull that off this time until the very end. I also like the way that Cormac is always a major player in the novels, but he can also play a bit of background role at times, so that the reader can become immersed in the other character’s lives.

5 stars!

gtZZ
The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

 

Details

Author: Dervla McTiernan

Published: February 24th 2020 by HarperCollins – AU

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 400 pages, February 2020

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Giveaway and Review: So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

qrf_vivi
So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

COMPETITION CLOSED

Thank you to everybody who entered my Valentines Day competition to win a copy of So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved reading about everybody’s favourite love stories!

The lucky winner is Melanie Jane who entered on Facebook.

Valentines Day is almost here and I have a brand new copy of  the bold and hilarious novel “So Lucky” by Dawn O’Porter for one lucky Aussie reader, thanks to HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.

If you zoom in on the books on my bookshelf you might be able to spy some of my own favourite love stories.

My Review

Bold and hilarious contemporary women’s fiction. So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter will have you laughing out loud and help you realise that you are actually pretty lucky after all.

Three women are doing their best to project a perfect life to the outside world, but are actually feeling miserable on the inside. Beth has the perfect career, but her marriage is falling apart; Ruby has a shameful (in her eyes) secret and feels like she is failing at everything; and Lauren’s dream life is definitely not as perfect as it seems. A big event brings them all together and out comes the truth; nobody’s life is perfect, but that’s ok.

I really loved the character in this novel, and some of the more minor characters had a big impact. There were a more than a few laugh out loud moments, but I should also warn you that some a the humour is not for the faint of heart!

“So Lucky” highlights a very common struggle that most women face: the pressure to have the perfect life is enormous and impossible to ever truly achieve. We all have our struggles and it is often made easier to cope with when we share our struggles with each other.

5 stars!

Synopsis

IS ANYONE’S LIFE . . .

Beth shows that women really can have it all.
Ruby lives life by her own rules.
And then there’s Lauren, living the dream.

AS PERFECT AS IT LOOKS?

Beth hasn’t had sex in a year.
Ruby feels like she’s failing.
Lauren’s happiness is fake news.

And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…

Fearless, frank and for everyone who’s ever doubted themselves, So Lucky is the straight-talking new novel from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Actually, you’re pretty f****** lucky to be you.

‘A total joy’ Matt Haig

‘Compulsively gripping and taps into the shame and self-hatred we *all* battle with. It is also very, very funny’ Sara Pascoe

Details

Author: Dawn O’Porter

Published: October 31st 2019 by HarperCollins

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 400 pages, 2019

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon UK

Amazon US

 

Giveaway Details

Giveaway is open to residents of Australia and will posted to the confirmed address after the competition closes at 5pm AEDT Sunday February 16th 2020.

Winner must be over the age of 18 and confirm their Australian postal address via email or private message within 48 hours of the competition closing.

This giveaway is not affiliated with WordPress, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or HarperCollins Publishers Australia.

The winning entry will be chosen randomly by a computer generated program and will be notified by email or private message.

All you need to do to enter is let me know your favourite love story of all time in the comments here, on Facebook,Instagram, or Twitter. It could be a story about romantic love, or perhaps the love between friends, or maybe a story about the importance of learning to love yourself just as you are, like “So Lucky”.