Book’d Out celebrates 4 years!

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Today marks four years since I launched Book’d Out.

In that time I have:

* Published a total of 1, 680 posts

* Of which 1, 254 are book reviews

* Had 324,645 visitors

* From whom I have received 14, 915 comments

* And gained  3, 653 awesome followers

Thank you!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate each and every person who stops by, reads a post, leaves a comment or decides to subscribe to my blog.

Your support has been integral to my daily happiness.

I wish I could reward each and every one of you, alas I can only offer you the chance to win one of four prizes.

The first lucky winner drawn will win

A $25US gift voucher from Gone Reading *

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Gone Reading offers a unique collection of merchandise and gifts for readers, pledging 100% of after-tax profits to reading-related charities. They ship to a number of international destinations and you can choose from a range of delightful products like these:

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Three more lucky winners can each choose either

A gift voucher to the value of $10 from Amazon (US or AU) *

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or

A book to the value of $10AUD from BookDepository.com*

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*where shipping/delivery is available

***

To Enter

Please leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE

Entries close September 7th, 2014

Winners will be randomly selected via random.org

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Review: Moonlight Plains by Barbara Hannay

 

Title: Moonlight Plains

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 24 to 25, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Continuing her loosely linked series featuring the Fairburn family, Barbara Hannay presents Moonlight Plains, an engaging romance which blends a contemporary and historical narrative.

In 1942, as the Japanese threaten the coast of North Queensland, nineteen year old Kitty Martin is sent to Moonlight Plains, the home of her widowed great uncle, far west of Townsville. Kitty, frustrated to be thwarted in her desire to assist in the war effort, is only in residence for a few weeks when two US airmen, blown off course, are forced to ditch their planes at the isolated property, and she finds herself facing tragedy… and heartbreak.
Nearly seventy years later, Kitty is glad her grandson is restoring the faded grandeur of the homestead at Moonlight Plains and quietly pleased that her young friend Sally Piper, a journalist, has taken an interest both in the project, and Luke Fairburn. Kitty only hopes that with the restoration of the past, she can keep hidden her own long held secret that could ruin everything.

Kitty’s wartime narrative reveals a bittersweet love story, of risks taken and hearts broken. Kitty’s 70 year old secret is easily guessed but I really liked her storyline which is sweet and poignant and I felt for Kitty confronted with a difficult choice in a difficult time.

The development of Sally and Luke’s contemporary relationship follows a familiar path, their physical attraction eventually leads to deeper feelings though neither are willing to admit it. I could understand Sally’s hesitance, though I thought the specific reason for her feelings of guilt was an odd aside.

I didn’t think Luke’s reaction to his grandmother’s secret was entirely in keeping with his character. A moment of pique I could understand but his hurt feelings, even in light of his relationship with Sally, seemed excessive. Laura’s reaction to the cache of secret letters written by her father to Kitty was more believable given she lacked the context of the relationship and was still grieving both her father’s passing and bitter over her recent marital breakdown.

I often forget that WW2 was also fought on our shores (I’ve complained before about the failure of the Australian curriculum to focus on the conflicts that occurred on our own soil when I was at school) and so I appreciated the brief glimpse from Hannay of its effects on Townsville and its residents. I also found it easy to visualise the restored grandeur of the old Queenslander at Moonlight Plains, nestled within its bush setting.

A winsome novel, Moonlight Plains seamlessly weaves together a lovely story of love lost and gained. This is another delightful rural romance from Barbara Hannay, following on from Zoe’s Muster and Home Before Sundown.

Moonlight Plains is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Click on the covers to read my reviews of


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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The Its Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.

Life…

The routine of my week doesn’t vary much, though now I have resumed coaching basketball in advance of the season kicking off in a few weeks, making Monday and Thursday evenings particularly chaotic with multiple after school activities to juggle. I need to get a bit more organised, and stop binging on Netflix!

Oh! And I would like to invite you all to drop by Book’d Out on Wednesday, August 27th, to celebrate my 4th blogiversary with a great giveaway!

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What I Read Last Week

 

Hindsight by Melanie Casey

The Catch by Taylor Stevens

 Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

Quick by Steve Worland

The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Norland

 

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan ★★★

Review: Heartbreak Hotel by Debbie Moggach ★★

Review: The Catch by Taylor Stevens ★★★1/2

Review: Hindsight by Melanie Casey ★★★★

Review & Giveaway: Quick by Steve Worland ★★★★

Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami  ★★★

Stuff On Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

What I Am Reading Today

In 1942, as the Japanese sweep towards northern Australia and allied troops swarm into Townsville, Kitty Martin is sent inland to the safety of Moonlight Plains. But when two American airmen crash on the isolated property, she is forced to grow up fast, coming face to face with tragedy, with love . . . and with heartbreak. Years on, and Sally Piper, a young journalist, is sent to Moonlight Plains to cover the story of a cattleman turned builder who is restoring his grandmother’s forgotten homestead. Sparks fly between them, but Sally is struggling to let go of the past, and Luke has his eyes fixed firmly on the future. What they uncover together is a shocking secret that has been kept safe for more than seventy years. Now the entire family’s happiness is at stake – or does the truth about the past hold a valuable lesson for the future?

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Running away from the mainland was supposed to make their lives better. But, for Isla and her brother, their mother’s sadness and the cold, damp greyness of Hobart’s stone streets seeps into everything. Then, one morning, Isla sees a red ship. That colour lights her day. And when a sailor from the ship befriends her mother, he shares his stories with them all – of Antarctica, his home in Denmark and life onboard. Like the snow white petrels that survive in the harshest coldest place, this lonely girl at the bottom of the world will learn that it is possible to go anywhere, be anything. But she will also find out that it is just as easy to lose it all. For Isla, those two long summers will change everything. Favel Parrett delivers an evocative and gently told story about the power fear and kindness have to change lives.

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to.  But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

As a detective lieutenant with the LAPD, Peter Decker witnessed enough ugliness and chaos for a lifetime. Now, he and his devoted wife Rena Lazarus are ready to enjoy the quiet beauty of upstate New York, where they can be closer to their four adult children and their foster son. But working for the Greenbury Police department isn’t as fulfilling as Decker hoped.  While Rina has adapted beautifully to their new surroundings, Decker is underwhelmed and frustrated by his new partner, Tyler McAdams, a former Harvard student and young buck with a bad ‘tude. Just when he thinks he’s made a mistake, Decker is called to his first real crime here—a possible break-in at the local cemetery. At first, it seems like a false alarm until it’s discovered that a mausoleum’s stunning Tiffany panels have been replaced by forgeries. Then, a coed at one of the exclusive local colleges is brutally murdered. Poking into the hallowed halls of academia to find a killer, Decker and McAdams are drawn deep into a web of dark secrets, cold case crimes, international intrigue, and ruthless people who kill for sport. Suddenly, the job is anything but boring. This case just might be too much to handle and Decker will have to draw on every ounce of experience that he has garnered in the past thirty years as a Homicide cop. And then again, even that might not be enough!

Cass thought she had experienced every kind of death… Moving to the city, Cass Lehman hoped to leave her recent notoriety behind her. Her ability to experience the final moments of a violent death helped the local police capture a serial killer, but also meant she was almost his final victim… With a place of her own and a new job, things are looking up for Cass. But just as she starts to feel settled, Cass is targeted by a deranged stalker. Are the personal attacks linked to a string of unsettling deaths that have left the police stumped? Her ‘gift’ is called on yet again by the one man she vowed she would never contact. Cass and Detective Ed Dyson are thrown back into each other’s lives but can they overcome their feelings to put an end to the terror? Will her experiences of death reveal the mind of the killer… or is there no such thing as a happy ending? A reluctant psychic, a troubled detective… and a deeply twisted serial killer.

The old world is buried. A new one has been forged atop the shifting dunes. Here in this land of howling wind and infernal sand, four siblings find themselves scattered and lost. Their father was a sand diver, one of the elite few who could travel deep beneath the desert floor and bring up the relics and scraps that keep their people alive. But their father is gone. And the world he left behind might be next.  Welcome to the world of Sand, the first new novel from New York Times bestselling author Hugh Howey since his publication of the Silo Saga. Unrelated to those works, which looked at a dystopian world under totalitarian rule, Sand is an exploration of lawlessness. Here is a land ignored. Here is a people left to fend for themselves. Adjust your ker and take a last, deep breath before you enter.

A collection of recipes for fun, accessible taqueria fare–including colorful salsas, tasty snacks, irresistible cocktails, and of course tacos galore–from the wildly popular San Francisco restaurants and acclaimed Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market food stand, Tacolicious. Tacos may be the most universally loved, happy-making food on earth. After all, who can say no to a juicy, spicy Chile verde taco; a decadently deep-fried Baja-style fish taco; or a gloriously porky Carnitas taco? At Tacolicious, the San Francisco Bay Area’s most popular Mexican restaurant, tacos are a way of life. And now, in this hotly anticipated cookbook, co-owner Sara Deseran shares all of the restaurant’s tortilla-wrapped secrets. Whether you’re seeking quick and easy weeknight meals or inspiration for a fabulous fiesta, Tacolicious has you covered. With recipes for showstopping salsas, crave-worthy snacks, cocktails and mocktails, and, of course, tacos galore, this festive collection is chock-full of real Mexican flavor—with a delicious California twist.

 

 While you are here…

Enter to WIN Quick by Steve Worland. Open worldwide.

Don’t forget to stop by on August 27th!

Thanks for stopping by!

Stuff on Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

 

 

For Review (ebook)

 

 

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

 

Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

 

Title:  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Author: Haruki Murakami

Published: Harvill Secker: Random House August 2014

Status: Read from August 21 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Haruki Murakami in a Japanese author best known in western culture for the 2011 success of his epic dystopian novel,1Q84. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is his highly anticipated newest title.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage is the story of a man who has never really recovered from being inexplicably exiled by a group of close friends he met in high school. Drifting through his life, engineer Tsukuru is now in his mid thirties, single and largely friendless, until he meets a woman who encourages him to confront his painful past.

Throughout Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Murukami explores the themes of identity, friendship, alienation and mental health. Tsukuru views himself as having; “…no personality, no defined color. [With] nothing to offer to others…like an empty vessel”, and as such feels disconnected from other people and destined to be alone. This feeling can be traced back to the brutal abandonment of his friends and to redefine himself Tsukuru must resolve the lingering hurts and resentments.

I thought the symbolism in the novel was fairly heavy handed and the dream slips didn’t always make sense to me. I didn’t find the writing particularly special though I found it more accessible and grounded than I was expecting.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, not having read Murakami previously though I have read plenty of opinions about several of his earlier works, but I’m pretty sure this wasn’t quite it. Essentially this seems to me to be lad lit (think Nick Hornby), perhaps given gravitas primarily because the protagonist, and the author, is Japanese. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the story of Tsukuru’s journey to make peace with his past and redefine his sense of self, but I was largely underwhelmed by the whole thing.

 

Available to purchase from

Random House Au Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

 

 

Review & Giveaway: Quick by Steve Worland

 

Title: Quick

Author: Steve Worland

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin August 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 21 to 22, 2014 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Steve Worland’s newest novel, Quick, is a fast paced, octane fueled thrill ride set in the exciting world of international motor sport.

After a spectacular career ending crash, former V8 Supercar driver Billy Hotchkiss joined the police force hoping for opportunities to sate his craving for the adrenalin rush racing once gave him and when he stumbles across a diamond heist in action, he doesn’t hesitate to jump into the fray. Billy’s heroics captures the attention of Interpol who think he is the ideal candidate to track down the diamond thieves, convinced the Melbourne heist is connected to a series of diamond thefts by a crew associated with the Formula 1 World Championship. Billy, along with his reluctant partner, Claude, is sent in undercover, joining the ‘Iron Rhino’ racing team, and they begin closing in on the criminals, only to uncover an explosive secret. Suddenly, Billy and Claude find themselves racing along the streets of Monte Carlo to save thousands of spectators before everything crashes and burns.

Though I am not generally a fan of motor sport, I was caught up in the fast paced excitement from the opening pages of Quick. From Billy’s spectacular crash on Mount Panorama to his surfing an armoured truck being dragged down Melbourne’s busy streets and later sliding down the roof of the Mall of Emirates while being chased by a Uzi wielding diamond thief, the action is non stop both on and off the track. There are explosions, gunfights, car chases and car races, plus a black panther and a damsel in distress.

Worland’s fearless hero, Billy, is a likeable protagonist, forthright with a dry Aussie sense of humour. He misses the adrenaline rush of racing and, having survived a near fatal accident, isn’t afraid to take risks as he tries to stop ‘The Three Champions’ in their tracks. Billy is teamed with veteran Interpol agent Claude, a dour Frenchman who is initially unhappy with the assignment and his reckless new partner, but eventually see’s things Billy’s way.

I compared Worland’s Velocity to Con Air and Combustion to Die Hard 4, Quick could perhaps be described as a cross between The Fast and the Furious and Speed Racer, but there really isn’t anything quite like this on the big screen and there probably should be.

Quick is the perfect Father’s Day gift for race fans or anyone who appreciates a rip-roaring and racy adventure thriller. Take Quick for a spin, and enjoy!

 

Quick is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

***

GIVEAWAY

Courtesy of Steve Worland

I have 1 print edition of

Quick

to giveaway

Open worldwide

To Enter:

Please leave a comment on this post and then

CLICK HERE

Entries close August 31st 2014

Drawn via random.org

***

Also by Steve Worland

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Review: Hindsight by Melanie Casey

 

Title: Hindsight {Cass Lehman and Detective Ed Dyson #1}

Author: Melanie Casey

Published: Pantera Press May 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 17 to 18, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Melanie Casey’s debut novel, Hindsight, has been on my wishlist since its release. It is the first book in a series to feature Cass Lehman, a woman with the psychic gift of retrocognition, and South Australian police detective, Ed Dyson.

For almost a decade, Cass Lehman has lived more or less like a recluse in the home she shares with her mother and grandmother. Travel is difficult when her gift of retrocognition means that when she passes over a place where someone has died in a violent or traumatic manner, Cass experiences their final horrifying moments. Now twenty eight and tired of her self imposed exile, Cass decides it is time to confront her demons and takes a huge risk by offering her services to the local police department after a woman is found murdered in an alleyway. The lead detective on the case, Ed Dyson, is scornful until Cass makes the connection between a handful of missing person cases and murders that has eluded Dyson for years, and the pair find themselves on the trail of a serial killer.

Cass’s ability is intriguing, and can be viewed as both a gift and a curse. She pays a high price for her ‘gift’, since she not only sees and hears what the victims experienced but also feels the physical pain and emotional trauma they suffered. I really like that Cass’s talent isn’t always useful, since Cass can only see what the victim saw in their last moments when the killer strikes from behind, for example, she isn’t able to offer much to a investigation.

The initial partnership between Cass and Ed is not an easy one. Ed is still struggling with the unsolved disappearance of his pregnant wife two years previously and doesn’t have the patience to humour Cass given his skepticism. Cass resents Ed’s easy dismissal of her, both because she believes she can help and because she is attracted to the detective.

Casey alternates between the first person perspective of Cass and third person perspectives from Ed, and the killer the pair are hunting. It’s an unusual narrative split but works well and I barely noticed the transitions. The plot is well crafted, and crucially Casey doesn’t allow the paranormal element to overwhelm the structure of a good crime novel. The pacing of the story is good with a tense, and somewhat gruesome, climatic ending that threatens the lives of both the protagonists.

Combining crime fiction with an interesting paranormal element and a touch of romance, I really enjoyed reading Hindsight. I’d particularly recommend it those who find the genre mix appealing and who might have liked Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connelly series. I’m looking forward to following Hindsight up with Casey’s second book, Craven.

 

Hindsight is available to purchase from

Pantera Press Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Bookworld I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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Review: The Catch by Taylor Stevens

 

Title: The Catch { Vanessa Michael Munroe #4}

Author: Taylor Stevens

Published: Crown Publishing: Random House July 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 18 to 19, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Catch by Taylor Stevens is the fourth book to feature the unusual character of Vanessa Michael Munroe.

Regrouping after the events of The Doll, Munroe has been biding her time in Djibouti, Africa, working as an interpreter for a small private security company as ‘Michael’. When Munroe’s boss accepts a job on a freighter bound for Kenya, Leo, jealous of Michael’s closeness with his wife Amber and oblivious to Michael’s real gender and talents, insists she accompanies the team. Part way through the voyage, the ship is attacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia but Munroe escapes with the injured freighter captain in tow. It quickly becomes obvious that the pirate’s target was not the cargo, which included a secret cache of weapons, but the captain, and to save the crew Munroe must negotiate the shadowy world of piracy, Hawala and corruption.

Munroe is such an intriguing character, a borderline sociopath capable of lethal violence with finely honed instincts, she is also highly intelligent, resourceful and has a prodigious talent for languages, skills which she makes good use of in The Catch.

The story of The Catch is perhaps more cerebral than in previous installments. Gathering information and planning strategy is more important than Munroe’s physical prowess as she scrambles to understand the motives of the pirates while nursing debilitating injuries inflicted by a vicious group of hired thugs.

The weakness for me in this story is in the motive Taylor ascribes to Munroe for saving the ship and its crew. I just wasn’t convinced Munroe’s attachment to Amber was strong enough to risk so much for her, even given Munroe’s unique sense of justice and loyalty.

Though The Catch could be read as a standalone, familiarity with the unique character of Munroe lends a richness that enhances the story. As someone familiar with the series I was satisfied with this installment and I am eager to discover what Munroe’s next move will be.

The Catch  is available to purchase from

Random House US I AmazonUS I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko

Also reviewed on Book’d Out


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Review: Heartbreak Hotel by Debbie Moggach

 

Title: Heartbreak Hotel

Author: Debbie Moggach

Published: Vintage Digital: Random House UK August 2014

Status: Read from August 13 to 17, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

When aging actor Russell ‘Buffy’ Buffery inherits a B&B in rural Wales he stuns his family and friends by abandoning London to run it. Buffy finds he enjoys his role as host, but the crumbling manor is in desperate need of maintenance, and a steady occupancy rate, and he needs to find a way to fix it before it all falls down around him.

The premise of Heartbreak Hotel, and the reputation of author Debbie Moggach, is what drew me to select this novel for review, unfortunately I was disappointed by the novel’s structure. The drawn out stories of some of the individuals who eventually wind up at Heartbreak Hotel seemed disconnected to the narrative and the idea of the ‘Courses for Divorces’ was terrific but never fully exploited. The last half of the book, when the characters are brought together, is much stronger than the first.

I did like the Moggach’s characters, most of them find themselves at the B&B after a disappointment of some sort or another. Buffy is an interesting man, he had a successful career as an actor but now aged 70 he is reinventing himself as well as grappling with the missteps he made as a husband and father. For many the guests of Myrtle House their stay at the B&B has surprising consequences including new love and the kindling of new dreams.

Heartbreak Hotel is often amusing and has some charm, but ultimately it was just an OK read for me.

 

Heartbreak Hotel  is available to purchase from

Random House UK I AmazonUK I AmazonUS BookDepository

via Booko

Review: I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

 

Title: I Work at a Public Library: a collection of crazy stories from the stacks

Author: Gina Sheridan

Published: Adams Media July 2014

Status: Read on August 17, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

I Work at a Public Library is, as subtitled, a collection of crazy stories from the stacks, written and curated by librarian Gina Sheridan, based on her blog http://iworkatapubliclibrary.com/.

With chapters organised using the Dewey Decimal system, Gina Sheridan shares the amusing, touching and just plain weird experiences she, and others, have encountered in their work as a librarian.

The anecdotes are gleaned from overheard conversations, patron questions, observations and encounters with the people of all ages who visit the library for all sorts of reasons, sometimes not meaning to be there at all.

This short book is sure to raise a smile and a little consternation, from any one who has spent anytime in a library.

“Adult patron to librarian: “I was told to read three books. I think one is small and blue. Can you tell me which ones they are?”

I Work at a Public Library is available to purchase from

Adams Media I AmazonUS I BookDepository I IndieBound

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