All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

September Reading Wrap Up

Total Books Read: 17
Fiction: 15
Non-Fiction: 2
Library Books: 10
Books On My TBR List: 3
Books in a Series: 8
Authors I’d Never Read Before: 12
Male/Female Authors: 
4/13
Kindle Books: 17
Books I Owned or Bought: 4
Favourite Book(s): The highest I rated a book this month was 4 stars – those books were A Doctor In Africa by Dr Andrew Browning, Against A Wall by Cate C. Wells, The Torrent by Dinuka McKenzie, Strange Love by Ann Aguirre, The Couple At No. 9 by Claire Douglas & The Librarian Spy by Madeline Martin.
Least Favourite Books: Priest by Sierra Simone, which was a DNF, Moon Blooded Breeding Clinic by C.M. Nascosta and Poly by Paul Dalgarno. All of those got 1-star.
Books That Qualify For Challenges: 2.

I actually read way more books in September than I thought I would, considering most of the 17 I did read were read whilst I was on holiday. I’ve only finished three (and had one DNF) in the 2 weeks I’ve been back and most of that is because I got so behind with uni classes and assignments whilst away that I’ve been spending all my spare time catching up on those and also because my parents arrived not even two days after we got back from holiday and stayed for a week for my youngest’s birthday and so I didn’t get any reading done while they were here.

I did a lot of other things in September other than reading – the holiday was great, we stayed in a really lovely place with a wonderful view, which I’ll pop in here during one of the (many) sunrises I saw because it gets light much earlier up there:

We went to three theme parks: Sea World (great, really liked it), Movie World (awful, wouldn’t go there with someone else’s money) and Wet N Wild (fabulous, best of the three especially for the kids). Movie World was a waste of time, by the time we got there we attended one show (which was great) but then when we went to go check out rides, the queues were already as much as 110 minutes and 222 minutes! Half the rides were closed, there was no way I was spending close to 4hrs in a damn queue for one ride. When we went to Wet N Wild, it was a Saturday, it was 25*C (about 80*F) and the most the kids had to wait for a ride was about 20 minutes. By about 3:30-4pm it had started to thin out and the kids were just getting off a ride and going straight back down it again, there were no lines. We stayed until they kicked everyone out at 5 and I think the kids would’ve stayed there twice as long! If (when) we go again, we’ll just go to Wet N Wild more than once and skip Movie World all together. Reading the comments on the MW Facebook page, it seems our experience is the norm, not the exception which is disappointing.

My youngest and I also got tickets to the AFL Grand Final at the MCG in Melbourne (for the Americans, it’s this sport’s equivalent of the Super Bowl). The less said about the actual result the better, because our team got slaughtered but we still actually had a huge amount of fun despite that. It was great to experience a Grand Final in person – it’s notoriously hard to get tickets, only about 35,000 of the 100,000 seats are allocated to the paid members of the two competing teams and those two teams have a combined membership base of about 127,000. We were category 2 so not guaranteed of getting a seat – we went into a ballot and I think it was random after the guaranteed member seats were allocated. I never thought I’d get the opportunity to see one live – so that’s ticked off the bucket list, even if my team didn’t actually put in much of a performance during the game, unfortunately. The pre-match entertainment, which was Robbie Williams, was excellent and I’m actually not a huge Robbie Williams fan. I love Let Me Entertain You, which he opened with but he was just great all round. Everyone always talks about how good he is live in concert and I see it for sure.

Challenge check in!

Read Non Fiction Challenge: 6/6 

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: 38/15

Aussie Author Challenge: 6/12

My 22 in 2022: 8/22

I only read three books that count towards my challenges in September – one for my Historical Fiction Challenge, which I have really exceeded my expectations on and also one for the Read Non Fiction Challenge, which completes the commitment I chose. I also counted one towards the Aussie Author Challenge (but I only remembered to do that now, to be honest I’ve probably completed this 2-3x over, I just keep forgetting to allocate books read to it).

Now for the October TBR pile – if some of it looks a little familiar, it’s basically because half of it is my September TBR pile that I didn’t get to! So hoping to knock them over this month – this week is half semester break from university so I am aiming to spend it reading! I do have one essay that I have to submit today and then…reading, for the rest of the week!

I hope you all had a great month of reading in September! Let me know if you’ve read anything from my pile here.

Leave a comment »

What I Read On My Holiday, Part 3

Husband Material
Alexis Hall
Sourcebooks Casablanca
2022, 432p
Read via my local library/Libby

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Wanted: 
One (very real) husband
Nowhere near perfect but desperately trying his best

In BOYFRIEND MATERIAL, Luc and Oliver met, pretended to fall in love, fell in love for real, dealt with heartbreak and disappointment and family and friends…and somehow figured out a way to make it work. Now it seems like everyone around them is getting married, and Luc’s feeling the social pressure to propose. But it’ll take more than four weddings, a funeral, and a bowl full of special curry to get these two from I don’t know what I’m doing to I do.

Good thing Oliver is such perfect HUSBAND MATERIAL.

This Summer 2022, you’re invited to the event(s) of the season.

I really enjoyed Boyfriend Material. It’s actually been by far my most favourite of Alexis Hall’s novels. I love opposites attract and Luc’s general brand of chaotic shitshow and Oliver’s kind of uptight manner are like my kryptonite. I was looking forward to more from them.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this. It was funny, with all the things that made me laugh from the first book and the added sweetness of Luc and Oliver being in a proper relationship which is going well. Then they get engaged and everything kind of….goes downhill there as the stress of the wedding and what it means begins to take its toll.

For me, the late conflict was poor – in its introduction, its timing and its resolution. It almost made me feel like reading the book was kind of a waste of time, it undid almost everything and look they were probably better off for it in the end I guess, as they didn’t need the development. But…it seemed like a long, arduous and ultimately pointless way to get there.

6/10

Book #159 of 2022

The Couple At No. 9
Claire Douglas
Penguin
2021, 400p
Purchased personal copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: It was the house of their dreams. Until the bodies were found . . . 

BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body – two bodies, in fact.

POLICE INVESTIGATE

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years. Nothing Saffy need worry herself over. Until the police launch a murder investigation and ask to speak to the cottage’s former owner – her grandmother, Rose.

OWNER QUESTIONED

Rose is in a care home and Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police but it is clear she remembers something.

A KILLER AT LARGE?

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched.

What happened thirty years ago?

Why did no one miss the victims?

What part did her grandmother play?

And is Saffy now in danger?

I think I heard about this as a sponsor piece in a bookish podcast I was listening to and it sounded really interesting and when I looked it up on Amazon, the kindle version was only $3.99. So it was one of the few books I read whilst away that I’d bought, rather than borrowed from the library or from Kindle Unlimited.

I started this on the plane but only read about 25% of it because I had only gotten 2 hours sleep the night before and was so tired. I didn’t end up picking it back up until almost a week later, on the beach and it took no time to sink right back into the story. Saffy and Tom are a young couple, who have escaped the prices of London to a cottage given to them by Saffy’s mother that belonged to her mother, Saffy’s grandmother. Living abroad means Saffy’s mother has no use for it and she’s happy to help them out. The they commence reservations to add an extension, the skeletons of 2 people are found in the backyard beneath a concrete slab.

There are quite a few narrators: Saffy, her mother Laura and Rose, the owner of the property who lived in it with her young daughter during the timeframe that fits when the bodies would’ve been buried on the property are the more main narrators and then we also have Theo, a chef who finds his father’s interest in the discovered bodies very curious. Saffy is obviously incredibly distressed when the bodies are found, especially when she realises that the timeframe could put one of the people she loves the most firmly in the frame. She and Tom really just want a peaceful life but it’s turned upside down with journalists trying to get a comment, as well as neighbours upset at the intrusion into their own lives as well. Saffy wants to know what happened though – who the bodies are and more importantly, who put them there and why. And hopefully those answers will exonerate her beloved gran, who she cannot see as a person who would ever have done such a thing.

I really liked the way the relationships between the women were explored – Saffy often feels quite distanced from her mother and she was definitely a lot closer it seems, to her gran growing up. She is struggling with her grandmother’s illness and I think sometimes resentful her mother doesn’t seem to care as much as she does.

There were some great twists and turns in this, it definitely kept me engaged and there were things I did not predict! One thing in particular, took me a bit to wrap my head around, but I think everything worked really well and it was a fun suspense novel perfect for a morning at the beach!

8/10

Book #160 of 2022

Leave a comment »

What I Read On Holiday, Part 2

The Librarian Spy
Madeline Martin
Harlequin AUS
2022, 402p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Ava thought her job as a librarian at the Library of Congress would mean a quiet, routine existence. But an unexpected offer from the US military has brought her to Lisbon with a new mission: posing as a librarian while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence.

Meanwhile, in occupied France, Elaine has begun an apprenticeship at a printing press run by members of the Resistance. It’s a job usually reserved for men, but in the war, those rules have been forgotten. Yet she knows that the Nazis are searching for the press and its printer in order to silence them.

As the battle in Europe rages, Ava and Elaine find themselves connecting through coded messages and discovering hope in the face of war. 

Madeline Martin’s previous book, The Last Bookshop In London was an unexpected favourite for me last year so I was super excited to read this and I think that it pretty much lived up to my expectations. It’s also set in wartime, with an American character Ava who is transplanted to Portugal, working undercover and using her linguistic skills to gather evidence. At the same time there’s Elaine in France, who is working for the resistance after the disappearance of her husband. She begins working at a printing press, making and distributing fliers that are also ways of communicating secret messages and danger lurks around every corner as the Nazis are desperate to stamp out resistance activity and suppress the locals even further. The threat of being rounded up and tortured or shipped off to one of the camps is an everyday thing.

This was a gripping read, the sort of book that didn’t feel like the 400p it was and I very much enjoyed both parts of the story – Ava in Lison and Elaine undertaking her new identity working for the resistance and trying to do as much as she could to undermine the Germans after they took her husband. There’s a lot of examples of what happens to people who get caught and Elaine has several near misses. The tension and suspense was built really nicely in that part of the novel and Ava’s part wasn’t without its tension either. There’s a little romance as well and just a well rounded picture of snapshots of both living in and around the war (France) and in a more neutral area, trying to help the hoards of people that need to escape (in Portugal).

Really found this to be a wonderfully entertaining read and I’ll be on the lookout for Madeline Martin’s next book.

8/10

Book #155 of 2022

This is book #38 of my 2022 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, hosted by Marg @ The Intrepid Reader

The River Gum Cottage
Léonie Kelsall
Allen & Unwin
2022, 448p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Sometimes, home isn’t a place: it’s a feeling.

Lucie Tamberlani had it all: a business manager with a passion for naturopathy, she was set to take over the bookwork at the family strawberry farm in South Australia. But the unexpected fallout from a relationship sees her flee to Melbourne, raising her daughter alone. Summoned back to the farm after her father’s death, Lucie must find a way to deal with not only grief, guilt, and the betrayal that forced her away – but the fear of losing her daughter.

Jack Schenscher is doing it tough: caring for his aged grandparents and managing their wheat farm while simultaneously pursuing his passion of sustainable eco-farming on his own acreage leaves him with little time and even less money. With the death of his business partner, he could lose all he has worked toward. Yet when he meets Lucie, can he set aside one passion for another?

Both Lucie and Jack must discover that home is wherever the heart is.

This is the third book by Léonie Kelsall I have read – they are all loosely linked, focused around the same rural community and the characters cross over into different books. I enjoyed the previous two enormously (the first I read is my absolute fave) but I have to admit, this one didn’t quite do it for me to the level of the previous two. It felt pretty long – took me 3 days to read it and I was doing other things but it definitely felt like at times, it was lagging, pacing wise in the middle.

I did really like the romance – I enjoyed Lucie and Jack together, I liked what Jack was doing on his farm and I thought that Lucie’s daughter was mostly a pretty well portrayed child character. It can be hard to get kids right in books, they can have a tendency to be inserted so much into the narrative that they take it over. The death of Lucie’s father brings her from Melbourne, where she has been living, back to her rural hometown and the disapproving gaze of her mother, who made it very clear that Lucie had been nothing but a disappointment to her beloved father ever since getting pregnant with her daughter.

It took me a while to realise that Lucie was like, 29 or something. She was in her mid-20s when she got pregnant. The level of guilt and disappointment that she’s made to feel she is felt really weird to me, like I could understand (maybe?) such a level of that behaviour if she’d been very young, in high school or something, with a whole future ahead of her but even then, to make someone feel like that over something like a child, just felt very pointless to me. Lucie was heartbroken about not seeing her father again before he died, being made felt like she had devastated him and look, when the reasoning for why her mother is so upset comes out, it felt….. not enough. She was punishing the wrong person and had been for a long time. When everyone kept telling Lucie to give her mother the benefit of the doubt, it ended up becoming quite infuriating to read.

This was okay but not my favourite.

6/10

Book #158 of 2022

2 Comments »

What I Read On My Holiday, Part 1

I spent the first two weeks of September on a family holiday in Queensland, which was really nice. I didn’t take any physical books, just relied on my kindle stash as well as borrowing electronically from my local library via the apps they use. This meant that to be honest, reading was a bit of a mixed bag. I didn’t take my laptop so I didn’t write any reviews while I was away so these brief recaps I’m going to do over multiple posts here are written with the acknowledgement that I read these between 2 & almost 4 weeks ago so there are honestly going to be things I don’t remember.

Jesustown
Paul Daley
Allen & Unwin
2022, 376p
Read via my local library/Libby app

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: From award-winning journalist Paul Daley comes a gripping multi-generational saga about Australian frontier violence and cultural theft, and the myths that stand between us and history’s unpalatable truths.

Morally bereft popular historian Patrick Renmark flees London in disgrace after the accidental death of his infant son. With one card left to play, he reluctantly takes a commission to write the biography of his legendary pioneering adventurer-anthropologist grandfather.

With no enthusiasm and even less integrity, Patrick travels to Jesustown, the former mission town in remote Australia where his grandfather infamously brokered ‘peace’ between the Indigenous custodians of the area and the white constabulary. He hasn’t been back there since he was a teenager when a terrible confrontation with his grandfather made him vow never to return.

Of course nothing is as it seems or as Patrick wants it to be. Unable to lay his own son to rest, Patrick must re-examine the legacy of his renowned grandfather and face the repercussions of his actions on subsequent generations. Will what he finds bring him redemption or add to the vault of family secrets and terrible guilt he keeps uncovering?

This was a rough start. Some of that was probably my misconception about this book when I borrowed it – I thought it was going to be about a cult actually, based on the title but it isn’t. It’s about Patrick, a man who writes history books that revel in and glorify whitewashing basically. He describes himself as a “story-ist” and has been incredibly successful and popular, the book of choice for people to give their father’s and husbands on Father’s Day or at Christmas. It all comes crashing down in the worst of ways though when Patrick’s selfish behaviour sets in motion a series of events that end in the loss of life of his infant son. With his reputation in tatters, the only option left to him is to finally accept the offer to write the story of his own grandfather, an anthropologist and adventurer who spent a large amount of time living with a local Indigenous population in remote Australia. All of his grandfather’s possessions including notes, letters, artefacts etc are in that place and Patrick must travel there to use them to write the story.

Oh God. Patrick is horrible. He has zero redeeming features for me I’m afraid and being in his head reading this…..yikes. It was tedious. The way in which he embodies every middle aged academic cliche, his lack of consideration and appreciation for his wife to the blunt acknowledgement of his manipulative story writing and how he enjoyed his previous success as some sort of deserving glory and accolades and now drowns out his disgrace in alcohol. He is quite frankly, pathetic.

This might’ve gone better for me had he actually had any growth as a character whatsoever but it never felt like he actually learned anything. The time in Jesustown is incredibly repetitive, with Patrick drinking heavily (he has a permit to drink in the community, if anyone shouldn’t have been granted one it’s Patrick), being condescending to most of the locals and listening to tapes his grandfather made before he died which shed light on his youth and his relationship with his son and Patrick’s father Luke. There’s also an admitting of the times when Patrick’s grandfather did the Indigenous community he was supposed to be championing quite wrong, be it inadvertently or deliberately.

All in all, this just wasn’t the book for me. I wanted so much more from the story, from Patrick as a character and from the situation that he was in, and how he had gotten there. But it didn’t deliver unfortunately.

3/10

Book #154 of 2022

Leave a comment »

Top 10 Tuesday 20th September

Hello and welcome to another instalment of Top 10 Tuesday! It’s been a while – I just got back from 2 weeks holiday up north which was fun but it’s back to reality now. The season is changing and for us, I’m happy that it’s going to be getting warmer.

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl and features a different bookish related theme each week. This week we are talking:

Top 10 Books On My Fall Spring Reading List

The Winners by Fredrik Backman

So excited for this. Beartown and Us Against You are two of my absolute favourite books. I love ice hockey as well and it’s good to see it represented in such a way, written by someone who actually clearly understands the game. The cast of characters in these books are just so wonderful and the stories always wrench my heart out of my chest.

Babel by R.F. Kuang

I’m curious about this. I still haven’t read The Poppy War although I do own it. I’ve been seeing this around a lot on YouTube and instagram and stuff and it seems to be pretty well received so far. It sounds interesting, so it’s definitely something I’m keen to read.

The Stardust Thief by Chelsea Abdullah

I like a good series and this seems interesting so I want to start it. It sounds so interesting – a djinn, selling of illegal magic, a “cowardly prince”! Bring it on please.

The Ballad Of Never After by Stephanie Garber

To be honest, I am not dying to read this book. The first one was just okay for me and I absolutely loathe the character of Jacks, or whatever he’s called. I would actually really like it if he got yeeted into the sun and the main character went with someone else in the end.

Kingdom Of The Feared by Kerri Maniscalco

I actually really quite enjoy this series and am looking forward to where it goes next! I’ll be waiting until my library gets it in though as I read both the others from there and don’t own any of them. I do think all the covers would look amazing together on a shelf though!

Heart Of The Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

I enjoyed the first in this series – although I hated the way the love triangle went. I’m kinda hoping for this book to go in a different direction? Redeem a character? Something! I love this cover, I think it’s wonderful.

Ithaca by Claire North

Give me all the Greek mythology retellings!

With Love From Wish & Co by Minnie Darke

I loved The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke so much so this is definitely one of my most anticipated reads for spring!

Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng

Feels like such a long time since I’ve read a Celeste Ng book so I’m really looking forward to this.

Readme.txt by Chelsea Manning

I just stumbled across this and it is definitely something that I am going to be anticipating. It sounds like it’s going to be super interesting – the author released classified documents after working in Iraq as an intelligence analyst. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison and came out as a transgender woman whilst incarcerated.

These are just 10 of the books that are high on my priority list for this next season – although I do have a terrible record actually reading the books that I place on these seasonal TBR’s! I think for winter, the season we are just transitioning out of, I read 4/10.

How do you go with your seasonal TBRs? Anything on mine that you also want to read? Let me know!

22 Comments »

Review: Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Project Hail Mary
Andy Weir
Del Rey
2021, 492p
Read via my local library

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: A lone astronaut must save the earth from disaster in this incredible new science-based thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Martian.

A lone astronaut.
An impossible mission.
An ally he never imagined.

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

I loved this so much.

I really enjoyed The Martian, both the book and the movie they made of it. I haven’t read Andy Weir’s second novel but mostly what I heard…wasn’t good. I still might go back and read it but this one seemed much more positively received and I heard someone mention it recently on a podcast so I requested it from my library – it was also the free Audible book for a month as well, so I also have this to listen to which I think might be awesome.

The book begins with the main character waking up on a bed, connected to a bunch of tubes. There’s a computer voice that speaks to him and although he knows certain things, he doesn’t know where he is or what he’s doing or….after he’s asked, what his own name even is. Eventually he figures out he’s not on Earth – he’s on a spaceship and that he was once a crew of 3, put into a coma for a mission. His 2 compatriots did not survive the trip and now he’s alone and must complete the crucial mission on his own. The thing is, he needs to remember it first – and how to accomplish it.

I was really enjoying this, I started reading it on a day when we had family coming for lunch and I did not want to put it down. But the book really steps up a gear when Ryland (after finally remembering his own name and the mission he’s been signed up for) realises that, terrifyingly, he might not be as alone as he thinks, out here in deep space. The next day I picked it back up as soon as I could and finished the rest of it (the last 350p) all in one sitting.

I don’t have a science brain so a lot of the mathematics and deep science of this stuff completely passed me by but….it doesn’t matter. The story is just so good that I honestly didn’t need to understand the intricacies of the science behind the mission and how they are attempting to accomplish it. I didn’t need to understand what atoms do, or whatever. I don’t really care what atoms do. What I cared about was Ryland and how he, as a high school science teacher, ended up on this spaceship as one of only 3 people. Surely there’d be people more qualified? Well, yes and no. The answers are both infuriating and terrifying and I liked Ryland all the more for melting down and losing his shit about it.

But where this book shines is the connection and friendship it cultivates. It’s absolutely bloody wonderful and I loved every single second of it. It’s clever and endearing at the same time and look, did I expect to be so invested, no. But was I? Yes. I hope they make a movie out of this because I think done right, it could be absolutely brilliant. (Apparently it’s already in adaptation, so that’s exciting. I hope the movie is able to capture the warmth and humour of the book, especially the interactions between Ryland and “Rocky”. If you know, you know).

Really loved this.

9/10

Book #152 of 2022

Leave a comment »

Review: Love On The Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Love On The Brain
Ali Hazelwood
Sphere
2022, 352p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

This has all my favourite things and some things I didn’t even know were my favourite things.

I really loved The Love Hypothesis, although it was a bit of a polarising book. It was originally fan fiction and I think some of the stuff that got changed for its traditional publishing meant that it wasn’t a perfectly written story. I loved the vibes though and so this became one of my most anticipated releases for 2022, along with the new Emily Henry. And like that book, I’m happy that this one lived up to my expectations.

Dr Bee Königswasser and Levi Ward have worked together before and Bee became hyper aware that Levi had a lot of difficulty being in the same room as her, talking to her etc. He just generally gave off an air of loathing her and when she’s asked to co-lead on an engineering project, she realises that Levi is the other lead. How is that going to work, when he cannot stand her? When she arrives to take up her part of the project, at first it doesn’t seem as though much as changed. In fact in some ways, things might almost be worse. Why is her equipment not here? What’s going on with the emails? Is there some sort of sabotage, to get Bee to leave the project? The only thing to do? Confront Levi and address all the issues. Head on.

I thought this was cute as heck and perfect for what I have been looking for. I know a few people say that every book of Ali Hazelwood’s is kind of the same but look, I don’t hate that? Not everyone needs to reinvent the wheel every time and sometimes there’s a perfect comfort in picking something up and knowing exactly what you’re going to get – in fact, picking up that book for that precise reason. I didn’t really find Bee all that similar to Olive, as others have, other than they are both females in STEM whose parents have died. But Bee felt much different personality wise to me and I really enjoyed her strong connection with her twin sister and how both of them had reacted to their tumultuous childhood in opposite ways. I enjoyed the setting, even though I’m an absolute science dunce and understand nothing of what they’re doing here, or why. I read 2 books in a row that revolved around science, understood basically nothing of the ins and outs of the scientific stuff and yet, rated both books incredibly highly and loved them both, for different reasons. The story transcended the science both times for me, the characters and the interactions.

If you like a male that’s pining, then this one is 100% for you. It’s my jam, it gives me all the feels and this book absolutely nailed that. The best thing is that Bee is so freaking oblivious and keeps circling everything back to her belief about him not liking her. If I had to pick up a weakness, I don’t think the book’s ending is it’s strength (things escalated quickly is an understatement for what occurs there) but sometimes I read a book for the vibes and for the romance. When I want the vibes, this is the sort of book I want. And I’ll keep reading them so long as Ali Hazelwood keeps writing them. I only wish there were a few more around because I tend to want the vibes more often then I have a book to fulfil those wishes.

This book picks up an extra half star for referencing my favourite album OF ALL TIME, Mer de Noms by A Perfect Circle, which I have never seen referenced in a book before and also for chucking in ‘Judith’ as well. The fact that Levi owns this one levels him up.

9/10

Book #151 of 2022

Leave a comment »

Review: Bet On It by Jodie Slaughter

Bet On It
Jodie Slaughter
St Martin’s
2022, 320p
Read via my local library/Libby

Blurb {the publisher/Goodreads.com}: The first time Aja Owens encounters the man of her dreams, she’s having a panic attack in the frozen foods section of the Piggly Wiggly. The second time, he’s being introduced to her as her favorite bingo buddy’s semi-estranged grandson. From there, all it takes is one game for her to realize that he’s definitely going to be a problem. And if there’s anything she already has a surplus of, it’s problems.

In Walker Abbott’s mind, there are only two worthwhile things in Greenbelt, South Carolina. The peach cobbler at his old favorite diner and his ailing grandmother. Dragging himself back after more than a decade away, he’s counting down the days until Gram heals and he can get back to his real life. Far away from the trauma inside of those city limits. Just when he thinks his plan is solid, enter Aja to shake everything up.

A hastily made bingo-based sex pact is supposed to keep this…thing between them from getting out of hand. Especially when submitting to their feelings means disrupting their carefully balanced lives. But emotions are just like bingo callers—they refuse to be ignored.

Jodie Slaughter’s Bet on It is a heart-stoppingly fun, emotional romance that will have readers falling in love until long after the last page is turned.

I was quite excited about this, it was one of the titles I included in my most anticipated for first half of the year but honestly? It was just okay for me.

There were things about it I truly liked. The representation is excellent -Aja is a fat, Black woman with diagnosed anxiety disorder and Walker, the male character also has anxiety and PTSD. When they meet whilst Aja is having a panic attack in the local small supermarket, Walker understands exactly what is happening and stays/talks to her gently until she has recovered enough to leave. Although embarrassed, Aja doesn’t expect to see him again – until Walker turns up at bingo and is the beloved grandson of one of the ladies Aja has befriended. He’s going to be there every week whilst he helps his grandmother recover from a fall where she broke both her arms.

The attraction is pretty much immediate but Walker grew up in this small town and hates it. Due to the actions of his parents, particularly his father, he was often the topic of local gossip and unkind remarks and he left as soon as he could and hasn’t returned. And if wasn’t for his grandmother injuring herself, he never would. He won’t be back here permanently and he doesn’t do long distance. Aja can’t live in a city due to her mental health, she needs somewhere quiet and sparsely populated. She works from home and picked this place precisely for its rural features. Nothing can come of this so it’s best not to get involved….except the feelings won’t go away so they make a bingo-based sex pact.

I thought that sounded fun and honestly, I thought they might play bingo/attempt to get bingo by doing different (sex) things but the reality isn’t as interesting. They just agree to have sex if either of them win bingo. I don’t think Aja has won bingo in all the time she’s been going to it soooo……the odds aren’t great. It doesn’t matter though because they sort of just end up doing what they want anyway.

My two big ‘not for me’ things with this book were: (1) the spicy scenes. Normally I’m a big fan of the spicy scenes but honestly it turns out I’m less of a fan if they take place somewhere like a carpark where half the town’s elderly population are twenty feet away playing bingo and could wander by or somewhere neither of the characters have any business being and technically, it’s someone else’s house. Gross. Whilst the writing was good for the scenes, I just hated where they took place and I feel like potentially involving others in your private activities isn’t it. Like no one interrupts them but the second place in particular, literally the whole town including all the children, are just outside at the annual fair thing. Not really sexy.

(2) Also the way Walker was pressured about his father. His father was an addict who ended up leaving Walker with his grandmother after he was arrested and he spent time in jail, etc. I felt like there was a huge amount of pressure on Walker to see him and hear him out, despite him being pretty much the reason Walker has PTSD. He basically has a panic attack at the mere thought of it and his grandmother gave his father Walker’s number without telling him, which meant his father called him unannounced. Look, I get that forgiveness is great but in this instance, I honestly feel like Walker was the one who was wronged in so many ways and it should’ve been only on his terms. No one else’s. If he wanted to hear his father’s apologies and explanations now that he had been clean for however long, it should’ve been his choice to reach out. Not to have it sprung on him and it honestly felt to me, like it was forced upon him and it made me incredibly uncomfortable reading that portion of it. It all ended up sunshine and rainbows but for me, that was such a weird choice.

Some good and some elements that I feel were just things that I didn’t gel with in the story.

5/10

Book #150 of 2022

Leave a comment »

August Reading Wrap Up

Total Books Read: 21
Fiction: 18
Non-Fiction: 3
Library Books: 8
Books On My TBR List: 7
Books in a Series: 4
Authors I’d Never Read Before: 11
Male/Female Authors: 
2/19
Kindle Books: 6
Books I Owned or Bought: 5
Favourite Book(s): The Happiest Little Town by Barbara Hannay, The Keepers Of The Lighthouse by Kaye Debbie, Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson, Love On The Brain by Ali Hazelwood and Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
Least Favourite Books: The Life Changing Magic of A Little Bit Of Mess by Kerri Sackville
Books That Qualify For Challenges: 4

Another month over! 2022 is disappearing so fast, it honestly won’t be long until I’m writing up my wrap up for the entire year. August was another decent reading month, both in terms of quantity and quality. I think the cold, miserable and wet winter has definitely kept my reading numbers high. It’s raining as I write this and although my kids have a day off school today, there’s nothing we can do except stay inside, keep warm and read. On the positive though, two days until our holiday!

Read Non Fiction Challenge: 5/6 

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: 37/15

Aussie Author Challenge: 5/12

My 22 in 2022: 8/22

Almost zero progress made in challenges this month. I’m probably going to have to go back and retrospectively add some authors to my Aussie Author challenge because I keep forgetting to do that. I could probably have added 2-3 this month (ok let’s go do that).

Read Non Fiction Challenge: 5/6 

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge: 37/15

Aussie Author Challenge: 8/12

My 22 in 2022: 8/22

Excellent. That looks better. Although how alarming is my 22 in 2022 Challenge looking?! Whoops. I was looking at what I have left to read on that the other day and they’re all monsters of over 500p which honestly, wasn’t clever of me. I’ll be happy to hit halfway on that now – probably some of those will make it into my 23 in 2023 Challenge but I’m definitely going to have to remember not to make them all so huge.

My September TBR review titles. Kept it small this month as I’ll be away for the first 2 weeks (I’ll be reading but I’m not taking any physical books with me, so I won’t get to these until I return). I’ve accumulated a nice little haul via my online library borrowing apps to pick from whilst I’m on holiday and I do hope to post a few reviews.

I hope you all had a great reading month for August and have some titles you are looking forward to for September.

Leave a comment »

Review: Sixty-Seven Days by Yvonne Weldon

Sixty-Seven Days
Yvonne Weldon
Penguin Books AUS
2022, 352p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}: ‘We don’t say any words – everything has been said through two sets of eyes, two entangled souls and endless kissing.’

Evie has been raised in the heart of Aboriginal Redfern, by a proud trailblazing Wiradjuri family. She remembers so much about the previous world – the Dreamtime, the ancestors, and the knowing – but she also harbours a dark pain that is becoming almost too much to bear.

And then Evie meets James, a young man radiating pure love who fills her life with light. On the cusp of adulthood, with their whole lives ahead of them, they travel to Evie’s beloved country, the central west of New South Wales and the Riverina regions. Swimming in the waters of the Kalare, as known by the Wiradjuri, and in the Murrumbidgee, singing with her ancestors, listening to the spirits.

The new world created between Evie and James is one they did not know they were missing. Now they can’t leave it alone. They are no longer separate – they are one, they are whole together – until a sudden event leaves them seeking answers to one of life’s most eternal questions: is love strong enough to withstand anything?

An intense and mesmerising story of first love and longing, suffused with Wiradjuri Dreaming, family and culture, about a future dreamt and a future taken, by an important new voice in Australian fiction.

This is a book which celebrates and highlights Aboriginal culture in so many ways. Our main character Evie is 19, at university in Sydney studying Arts but toying with the idea of switching to psychology and so she’s taking some summer classes to see if she enjoys it. She’s part of a very close knit family that doesn’t just encompass her mother, father and two younger sisters but also all of her aunts, uncles and cousins which in her culture, are as important to her as parents and siblings. Her cousins are as close to her as her own siblings and she is as beholden to her aunts and uncles as she is to her parents. She also reveres her grandparents, great-grandparents and other Elders and the respect and love she has for them and their traditions are paramount in all of her interactions.

By chance, Evie bumps into James, a young Aboriginal man and they are immediately drawn to each other, it’s butterflies and immediate love for both of them. Despite their youth and it not being what either were looking for, Evie and James know that they want to be together forever even though they are concerned what their parents and other relatives will think about their young age and the fact that they have not known each other very long. They are both determined though and make their plans, getting everything all worked out before they decide to tell their families, making sure that they have all the answers to the questions that will no doubt be asked. Evie wants to finish her degree and James supports her in this and he’s almost finished his electrician apprenticeship. The young couple will be able to live independently but the blessing and love of their families is incredibly important to them and a part of this book is a tour they take of Evie’s country in rural NSW so that she can visit and introduce James to all the important people in her life who do not live in Sydney and make sure that James receives their blessing. You can tell how important this is to Evie, that James observe and respect her family’s customs and present himself to all those that matter to her so that they may know him and see him as Evie’s chosen partner.

Blended into this tale of exciting new love is a more serious topic that has plagued Evie for years, someone in her community who isn’t respectful and who Evie must not only avoid for her own safety and mental wellbeing but also she sees it as her role to protect others from going through what she did. This was handled incredibly well – Evie’s compartmentalising of this person, not even naming him in her mind, felt so genuine and real to me, her fear and horror came through so strongly. I felt like I could understand her choices and why she made them and how she also felt incredibly protective and determined to keep others safe. There is just more than one tale of tragedy woven into the story and it showcases Evie’s strength but also her right to grieve and how she will learn and grow in many ways.

To be one hundred per cent honest, the romance didn’t do a whole lot for me in the story – it was very instantaneous and I kept trying to remind myself that they were teens and this was probably how my first boyfriend and I spoke to each other (I’m old and jaded how haha) but where the story did really do well for me was the depiction of all of Evie’s extended family, the respect they had for their traditions and culture and the details of the Dreamtime. I honestly haven’t read a book that included this so much I don’t think and I really appreciated being able to see this in terms of a more modern setting, how people incorporate and respect and live those traditions that are tens of thousands of years old. I loved meeting all of Evie’s family members and experiencing her relationships with them as well and how important they were all to her. I would definitely read another story by Yvonne Weldon.

7/10

Book #147 of 2022

*This review was written on the unceded lands of the Bunurong/Boonwurrung and Wadawarrung/Wathaurong people*

Leave a comment »