My #review of the spellbinding thriller “THE NEW GIRL” by debut author Ingrid Alexandra @IngridWrites

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THE NEW GIRL by Ingrid Alexandra

Goodreads Description

You’ve only just met.
But she already knows you so well.
When Rachel moves into the spare room in Mary’s flat, everyone is quick to jump to the conclusion that there’s something strange about her. Everyone apart from Mary.

And when Rachel starts sleepwalking, everyone’s fears grow. But there’s something about the new girl that Mary can’t help but trust, and having recently escaped a toxic relationship, she needs the support.

Rachel becomes a friend and an ally, and Mary soon discovers that they have more in common than she ever could have imagined.

In fact, Rachel seems to know more about Mary than she knows about herself…

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My Review 

Mary shares a flat with her long time best friend, Cat, and likable school teacher, Ben in a Sydney flat right by the beach. The room mates decide to bring in a new girl, Rachael, to help with the rent, but Mary is the only one out of the group who doesn’t think the new girl is a weirdo. As Mary gets to know Rachael she discovers that they have more in common than she first thought. They both have a troubled background full of secrets and betrayals, and Mary begins to grow closer to Rachael than she is with her best friend, Cat.

I don’t want to say any more about the plot of THE NEW GIRL in case I give away any of the crazy plot twists! I read this novel very quickly because I was constantly on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what was really going on. I never would have guessed the ending of this novel in a million years and the final reveal was so well done. 4 stars!

About the Author 

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Ingrid Alexandra, author of THE NEW GIRL 

Ingrid Alexandra was born and raised in Sydney and now lives on the New South Wales central coast.

Her work has previously been long-listed for The Ampersand Prize and while living in London, Ingrid had the privilege of being mentored by the Guardian First Novel Award shortlisted and Nestle Prize winning author Daren King.

THE NEW GIRL is her first psychological thriller novel. She is currently working on her second.

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RESTITUTION by Rose Edmunds #BookReview

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Restitution by Rose Edmunds 

 

Goodreads

Reeling from a catalogue of disasters, flaky sleuth Amy travels to Prague to help an old man recover a Picasso painting last seen in 1939. It seems like a mundane assignment, but the stakes are far higher than Amy imagines. Competing forces have vested interests, and are prepared to kill to meet their goals. Caught amid a tangle of lies, with her credibility in question and her life on the line, could Amy’s craziness be her salvation…?

My Review 

The third book of the Crazy Amy series takes us on a wild and crazy trip to Prague. Amy pairs up with an unlikely companion, George Smithies father of her former arch-nemesis Ed, to help him find a Picasso painting lost by his family in World War II. Of course, things are never as straight forward as they first appear for socially clueless Amy, and she gets caught up in far more than she bargained for in her search for the painting.

I loved Restitution just as much as Concealment and Exposure and I really do have a soft spot for Amy despite her crazy ways. I think she is slowly starting to become a little bit more self-aware than in the first two novels. Although, even when she does try to plan ahead and make adjustments for her terrible lack of judgement things still do tend to backfire on her spectacularly.

Restitution was another brilliantly twisty and turner thriller from Rose Edmunds and I loved the background of beautiful Prague this time. I’m looking forward to the next installment!

About the Author

 

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Rose Edmunds

 

After a successful career advising entrepreneurial businesses, Rose jumped off the corporate hamster wheel and began writing thrillers inspired by her experiences. Her books have a strong ethical theme, and shine a light on the moral challenges presented by capitalism. Typically her protagonists are just as flawed as the villains, if not more so…

Rose’s debut thriller, Never Say Sorry, was about a Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure. Since then, she has been working on the Crazy Amy thriller series—an ambitious project which will follow Amy Robinson on her journey from senior finance executive to who knows where…

The first trilogy is now available on Amazon, with further books planned for 2019 and beyond.

To find out more about Crazy Amy, click here

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July Wrap-Up

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All the books I read in July

 

Wow! July was an amazing reading month for me. I read a grand total of seven books. I managed to have such an epic reading month by making one small change in my evening routine. We’ve been turning the television off at least one episode earlier than we normally do and using that time to either get ready for the next day or read. As you can see, it really has made a huge a difference in how quickly I can get through my never ending TBR pile! I still have days where I will read non-stop like I always have, but having that regular reading time set aside has really ramped up my book turnaround.

My competition asking for your favorite reading indulgence for the chance to win a copy of When Life Gives you Lululemonswas the highlight of July for me. I loved connecting with so many new and old readers and hearing all the ways you like to indulge while reading.

Books I Read in July

Three books were written by new and new to me amazing Australian female writers: A Place to Remember, Those Other Women, and The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. UK2 is written by one of my favorite self-published authors in the world, Terry Tyler. The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder is a thriller with a very interesting premise, When Life Gives you Lululemons is a humorous best-seller, and On the Road is an old favourite and also part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks.

A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. Mcleod

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A PLACE TO REMEMBER by Jenn J. Mcleod

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

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WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LULULEMONS by Lauren Weisberger

THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty

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THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty

UK2 by Terry Tyler

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UK2 by Terry Tyler

THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland

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THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland

THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER by Sarah J. Harris 

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THE COLOUR OF BEE LARKHAM’S MURDER by Sarah J. Harris

ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

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ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac

 

 

#BookReview THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland @hollyringland @HarperCollinsAU

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THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART by Holly Ringland

Goodreads Blurb

The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace, until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story about stories: those we inherit, those we select to define us, and those we decide to hide. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and how they haunt us, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Spanning twenty years, set between the lush sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, Alice must go on a journey to discover that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

My Review 

THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a haunting tale of family secrets, betrayal, and how the stories of the past impact the future.

Alice Hart grows up with an abusive father and downtrodden mother who still does her best to protect her daughter and teach her the language of native Australian flowers that she had learned from her mother in law. When tragedy strikes Alice is taken in by her grandmother, June. June is a flower farmer who takes in women doing it tough and caretaker of the language of flowers created by her ancestors and their family history. When Alice takes of to the Australian desert where she discovers that she is doomed to repeat the tragic history of her past unless she is able to come to terms with her own story.

I loved the language of Australian native flowers that Ringland created to tell this story. Each chapter begins with a description of a different native flower and what it means in the language created by Alice’s family. THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a brilliantly crafted debut novel that will definitely appeal to a wide audience.

*Thank you HarperCollins Publishers for sending me a copy to review.

About the Author

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Holly Ringland

HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother’s tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.

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#BookReview THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty @NikkiM3

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THOSE OTHER WOMEN by Nicola Moriarty featuring Zeus and Ziggy

Goodreads

From the author of The Fifth Letter comes a controversial and darkly comic story about the frustrations of being a childless woman in the modern baby-obsessed world… .

Poppy’s world has been tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend.

At least Annalise is on her side. Her new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids, so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent just an little about smug mummies’ privileges at work.

Meanwhile, their colleague Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings – she’s not had one this decade and she’s heartily sick of being judged by women at the office as well as stay-at-home mums.

Then Poppy and Annalise’s group takes on a life of its own and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafés become battlegrounds, playgrounds become war zones and offices have never been so divided.

A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiraling out of control.

Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own . . .

My Review 

THOSE OTHER WOMEN is a funny read that explores the complexities of female friendships and rivalries.

I think any woman will find themselves nodding along to this novel at some points, but I hope they will also gain a clearer understanding of the other side.

Poppy’s husband has left her for her best friend. To add insult to injury they are having a baby together when Poppy had thought they were both happy to remain childless. She teams up with her single and child-free work friend, Annalise, to complain about how easy they think it is for mums. Their colleague, Frankie, always seems to be able to get out of work whenever she likes and there is even a local mums group on Facebook that won’t  let single women join. Poppy and Annalise start their own Facebook group for local single women, but things quickly move from companionship and the occasional vent to real-life confrontations and it becomes obvious that somebody in Poppy and Annalise’s group isn’t who she says she is.

THOSE OTHER WOMEN explores the the ways that women can so often be so harsh and judgmental towards themselves, and each other, and the ways that social media can often make these situations so much worse than they need to be.

As a childless woman in my 30s I have definitely felt very uncomfortable about that and been excluded by some women, and I would say I’ve probably unintentionally done the same to some women with kids myself. Like Moriarty demonstrates by the end of the novel, both groups have their own challenges and some bits about our lives that are also pretty fantastic. We really should be more open minded about other people’s life choices and talk to each other in person, rather than letting things fester and get blown out of proportion on social media.

I really love the research by danah boyd who explores how young people use social media for anybody who is interested in doing further reading about the methods and psychology of bullying via social media. It can often be far more insidious and hurtful than real-life bullying and danah’s research would be incredibly insightful for parents of teenagers so they can have a clearer understanding of some of the warning signs to look out for.

About the Author

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Nicola Moriarty

Nicola lives in Sydney’s north west with her husband and two small (but remarkably strong willed) daughters. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.

Her writing was once referred to as ‘inept’ by The Melbourne Age. Luckily on that same day the Brisbane Courier Mail called her work ‘accomplished, edgy and real.’ So she stopped crying into her Weetbix, picked up a pen and continued to write. She has been fueled by a desire to prove The Age wrong ever since.

These days, she writes everything from novels to football stadium announcements to VW radio ad scripts and Home Loan EDMs to the occasional Mamamia article and the odd Real Estate advert.

Her first two novels, Free-Falling and Paper Chains were published by Random House Australia in 2012 and 2013. Free-Falling was translated into Dutch and German and was awarded the title of ‘Best Australian Debut’ from Chicklit Club. Paper Chains was later picked up for publishing in the U.S. by HarperCollins and will be released there in 2019.

Her romance novella Captivation was released both as an e-book and in print as part of a collection of romance stories titled, All My Love. She has since concluded that romance writing is not her thing. She also wrote two travel themed short stories for the U.K. Sunlounger anthologies, which were Amazon bestsellers.

While completing a BA with a major in writing at Macquarie University, she was awarded the Fred Rush Convocation prize for creative writing / literary criticism in Australian literature. This achievement made her glow with pride and happily took some of the sting out of The Age’s aforementioned criticism.

In 2017, Nicola released her third novel, The Fifth Letter. Published by HarperCollins in both Australia and the U.S. and by Penguin in the U.K, it was a top ten best seller in Australia and just snuck onto the USA Today Best seller list! It was translated into German, Dutch and Hungarian. In exciting news, film rights for The Fifth Letter were also optioned by Universal Cable Productions.

Nicola’s latest novel, Those Other Women was released in Australia, the US and the UK in 2018 and was an Amazon best seller. Marian Keyes had this to say about Those Other Women, ‘I devoured it, loved it and totally escaped into it … Fun and topical.’

She has four older sisters and one older brother and she lives in constant fear of being directly compared to her two wildly successful and extraordinarily talented author sisters, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. Unless of course, the comparison is something kind, perhaps along the lines of, “Liane, Jaci and Nicola are all wonderful writers. I love all of their books equally.”

Other things of note are Nicola’s lack of fine motor skills, demonstrated by her inability to thread keys onto key-rings, tie balloons, braid hair and apply eyeliner. If you have taken the time to read this far, she would very much like to send you a Freddo Frog to show her appreciation. But she probably won’t follow through, because she’ll most likely eat all the Freddo Frogs before she gets the chance to post them. Sorry, she does mean well.

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June Wrap-Up

June has been a bit of a study in contrasts. I’ve had periods where I’ve had a lot of work to do and a couple of weeks where I could have won a gold medal in the couch potato Olympics. I think it balanced out to be successful month overall, although I would have liked to have been able to read more books.

I wrote an article for HelloCare Carepage that describes my experiences of the Australian aged care sector with my Pop who suffers from dementia, calling for mandated staff ratios to be introduced. It’s a sad, but increasingly common, story and I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I have received for this article, particularly by aged care staff across the country. I’m so relieved that my respect and support for aged care professionals came through loud and clear. I’m in the process of working on some more articles for HelloCare Carepage, including dementia communication tips and strategies I have learned over the last few years. I feels like an enormous weight has been lifted off my shoulders to be able to make something positive out of such a crappy situation.

The other sort of non-bookish activity that has taken up a good chunk of my time has been watching the Outlander television series. I usually prefer to read the books before I watch the film/series, but I knew I would never find time to read the entire series in a hurry. I’ve just began the third season and I’m hooked and desperate to visit Scotland after seeing so much of the breath-taking scenery of Scotland.  I really admire the fighting spirit of the Scottish who fought the British Empire at its peak for so many years and hope a dash of that courage was passed down to me by my Scottish ancestors!

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Books I read in June

I only read three books in June, but I enjoyed them all in different ways. Hopefully the worst of the chilly Melbourne winter nights are behind us so I can find more energy for reading and blogging! I’m the kind of person who would totally sleep through winter if I could get away with it.

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P IS FOR PEARL by Eliza Henry-Jones

Goodreads 

From the talented author of the celebrated novels In the Quiet and Ache comes a poignant and moving book that explores the stories we tell ourselves about our families, and what it means to belong.

Seventeen-year-old Gwendolyn P. Pearson has become very good at not thinking about the awful things that have happened to her family. She has also become used to people talking about her dead mum. Or not talking about her and just looking at Gwen sympathetically. And it’s easy not to think about awful things when there are wild beaches to run along, best friends Loretta and Gordon to hang out with – and a stepbrother to take revenge on.

But following a strange disturbance at the cafe where she works, Gwen is forced to confront what happened to her family all those years ago. And she slowly comes to realise that people aren’t as they first appear and that like her, everyone has a story to tell.

‘P is for Pearl is a complex, authentic exploration of grief, friendship, mental illness, family and love, sensitively written by a writer whose voice will resonate with teen readers.’

My Review 

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THE RULES OF BACKYARD CROQUET BY Sunni Overend

Goodreads

Disgraced fashion prodigy Apple March has gone into hiding, concealing herself within the cashmere and silk folds of a formerly grand fashion boutique – the hanging of blouses and handling of difficult patrons now her only concern. But when her sister Poppy needs a wedding dress, old passions are reignited … along with threats from her past.

As Apple finds herself falling for someone she shouldn’t, her quest to re-emerge becomes entangled in a time she wants forgotten, and life unravels as quickly as it began to mend.

From the cool heart of Melbourne to Paris and New York, in an effervescent world of croquet, Campari and cocoon coats, can Apple prevail over demons past to become the woman she was born to be?

My Review 

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THE STORY OF OUR LIFE by Shari Low

Goodreads

Unwind, laugh, cry … but feel uplifted with this bittersweet love story. Perfect for the fans of Jo-Jo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

So what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was stolen from you?

Colm strolled into my life fifteen years ago. If there’s ever such a thing as love at first sight, that was it for us both. A few weeks later we married, celebrating with those who cared, ignoring the raised eyebrows of the cynics.

We knew better. This was going to be forever. The dream come true. The perfect ending. Until it wasn’t.

Because a couple of months ago everything changed. We discovered a devastating truth, one that blew away our future and forced us to revisit our past, to test the bonds that were perhaps more fragile than they seemed.

So now I ask you again, what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was taken from you?

Because this is what I did.

I’m Shauna.

And this is the Story of Our Life…

My Review 

 

#BookReview THE STORY OF OUR LIFE by Shari Low @sharilow

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THE STORY OF OUR LIFE by Shari Low

Goodreads Blurb

Unwind, laugh, cry … but feel uplifted with this bittersweet love story. Perfect for the fans of Jo-Jo Moyes and Marian Keyes.

So what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was stolen from you?

Colm strolled into my life fifteen years ago. If there’s ever such a thing as love at first sight, that was it for us both. A few weeks later we married, celebrating with those who cared, ignoring the raised eyebrows of the cynics.

We knew better. This was going to be forever. The dream come true. The perfect ending. Until it wasn’t.

Because a couple of months ago everything changed. We discovered a devastating truth, one that blew away our future and forced us to revisit our past, to test the bonds that were perhaps more fragile than they seemed.

So now I ask you again, what would you do if your ‘happy ever after’ was taken from you?

Because this is what I did.

I’m Shauna.

And this is the Story of Our Life…

My Review

Colm and Shauna have been married for 15 years. Despite plenty of ups and downs they were planning on spending the rest of their lives together until tragedy turns their worlds upside.

After reading the description of this novel I wasn’t quite expecting just how  gut wrenching this novel actually was. I had to put this novel aside for a while once I discovered how sad it actually was compared to what I was expecting from the blurb. I often enjoy sad stories but I do like to be prepared for it from the get go.

I’m glad I was able to pick it up again, though, because it really is a beautifully written story. The characters are well developed and sometimes did things I disagreed with, but I could also understand why they behave they way they did. I think almost everybody deals with tragedy in ways that don’t make any sense at the time.

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Shari Low

Shari Low has published eighteen books under her own name and pseudonyms Millie Conway and Ronni Cooper. She is also one half of the writing duo, Shari King, with old friend and TV presenter, Ross King.
Back in the nineties, after living abroad for many years, Shari returned to Scotland, met a guy, got engaged after a week, and twenty-something years later she lives near Glasgow with her husband, two teenagers and a labradoodle.
Shari also writes an opinion column and a literary page for a newspaper and is working on the TV adaptation of one of her books.
For all the latest news, visit her on Facebook, twitter, or at www.sharilow.com

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