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)

Stuff On Sunday: Six Degrees of Separation

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Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman were inspired to create this meme by a short story titled ‘Chains’ in which Hungarian writer and poet Frigyes Karinthy first coined the phrase ‘six degrees of separation’. Based on the idea in Karinthy’s story, Emma and Annabel will choose a book each month, and link it to five other books in a chain, inviting their readers and other bloggers to join them by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal or esoteric ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge.

The great thing about this meme is that each participant can make their own rules. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.

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The first book chosen by Annabel and Emma is Hannah Kent’s, Burial Rites.

Burial Rites is a fictionalised account of the last female prisoner executed in Iceland in the late nineteenth century.

Like Burial Rites, Kate Forsyth’s historical novel, Bitter Greens, is inspired by a real figure, Charlotte-Rose de la Force.

Bitter Greens is set in the late 1500′s to 1600′s, and its is that time period that forges a link between it and Kirsty Eagar’s Saltwater Vampires.  Saltwater Vampires twists the famed mutiny and massacre that occurred after the shipwreck of the Batavia off the West Australian coast in 1629 into a vampiric legend that centuries later endangers a group of teenagers during the summer holidays, and the residents of  the coastal town they live in.

From Saltwater Vampires  you can make the leap to Snake Bite by Christie Thompson which features another group of teens during summer vacation, though Jez and her mates are stuck in urban Canberra. A coming of age story set in the suburbs of Australia’s capital during the 1990′s, Snake Bite is a story of adolescent rebellion and discovery.

In Snake Bite the mother of the main protagonist, Jez, is an alcoholic, as is Sarah’s in Nelika McDonald’s The Vale GirlIn this novel, fifteen year old Sarah Vale goes missing, yet few, including her mother, seem to care.

In contrast, Dee is devastated when her teenage daughter goes missing while holidaying in Argentina in Traces of Absence by Susan Holoubek. She makes annual pilgrimages to South America to search for Corrie hoping to discover the girl’s fate.

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So that’s it, six books linked by six degrees of separation, though the more observant of you might notice the entire chain is also connected, as each book is by an Australian author.

Please note that clicking on the title links will also take you to my review for each book.

Visit Emma‘s or Annabel’s blogs if you would like to join in with this meme or to browse the intriguing connections from bloggers who are participating.

 

Weekend Cooking: The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull

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I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.

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The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook  is much more than just a compilation of prize winning recipes and cooking tips, it is also a wonderful collection of heart-warming personal stories laced with Australian agricultural show nostalgia.

Agricultural shows have been a staple of Australian society for 200 years and around 580 are held across the country each year in cities, regional towns and small rural communities. While the noisy battle for first place in events like sheep shearing and wood chopping draws the crowds to the main show ring, an equally fierce but quieter competition is being fought in the grounds pavilions where cakes, biscuits, slices, pastries, jams and relishes are laid out on trestle tables being judged on strict criteria in relation to appearance, consistency in shape, size and colour, taste and smell.

Within the pages of The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook you can find award winning recipes for entries such as Eileen’s Apple Jelly, Charlie’s Rosella Cake and Rod’s Bloody Hot Tomato Sauce as well as classics like scones, pikelets and sausage rolls, teamed with the personal stories of their maker and the histories of the shows they compete in.

This recipe book is as much a pleasure to read as to cook from. The only disappointing element is the lack of photographs showing the winning recipes, though the pages are illustrated with reproductions of show ephemera, winners portraits and scenes from past and present shows.

I’m too slapdash a cook to ever enter in a show competition where the standards are close to perfection but I’m looking forward to trying several of the recipes in The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.

One of the categories in show competition is ‘Slices’ so I thought I would share my favourite recipe.

 

Vanilla Slice

Photo Credit http://beatricechristiana.wordpress.com/2011/05/01/vanilla-slice-or-an-easy-type-of-millefeuille/

Ingredients:

  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 300ml milk
  • 600ml thickened cream
  • 2 packets vanilla instant pudding
  • 1/4 cup pure icing sugar, to sift over the pastry

Method:

Preheat oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Bake pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and just golden. When you remove them from the oven, place a tray on top of the sheets to make them flat and leave to cool.

Line a slice tin with baking paper and set aside.

In a bowl, using a mixer, add the milk, cream and pudding mix together and combine until thick.

Cut one pastry sheet to fit the base of the slice tin and place in the tin.

Pour the custard mixture into the slice tin and smooth out evenly.

Cut the second sheet of pastry and place on top.

Refrigerate until chilled through (about 3 hours) and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar before serving. Remove from tin and slice into squares or rectangles using a serated knife.

 

The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull is available to purchase from:

 

 

Allen & Unwinboomerang-books_long I Booktopia Amazon AU I Amazon US

  via Booko

 

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Aussie-Author-Challenge-2014-final-badge

 

 

 

Stuff On Sundays: Snugg-le up!

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Last year thesnugg.com contacted me to ask if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products and I chose the Snugg iPad 4 Case Cover and Flip Stand in Baby Blue Leather to trial. At the time my iPad was much coveted by my family and the case had to withstand daily use by a dozen pairs of hands. I’m pleased to report that nearly a year later the case is still protecting my iPad from sticky fingers and rough handling . The exterior has been kept clean with a few swipes of a moist disinfectant wipe, the stitching hasn’t frayed (something an earlier case I owned did within a couple of months) and the neither the elasticised handstrap nor the velcro or magnetic closures have weakened at all.  Though with a lifetime guarantee on the product, I wouldn’t have expected any less.

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Just a few weeks ago thesnugg.com contacted me again to ask if I would be interested in reviewing another one of their products,  their timing was impeccable given we were just about to gift our daughter with her own iPad and I was on the verge of placing an order with thesnugg.com/au for a case, having already been assured with their quality. This time I was sent the Snugg iPad 4 Executive Case Cover and Stand in Orange Leather,  which I immediately appropriated for my own, passing the blue case on to my daughter.

There are few differences between the standard and Executive case covers. Both are made of robust PU leather  and soft nubuck interiors to protect the surface of the iPad from scratches. The iPad slips into the case easily and is held securely in its place with an inner velcro tag and a magnetic closure that works with the iPad’s sleep/wake function. The design of the case ensures all of the iPad features such as volume control buttons and ports are easy accessible.  The cover folds to create a stand that ensures the iPad can be stood in an  upright or horizontal position on any flat surface and there is a comfortable interior hand strap for life on the go, as well as convenient stylus/pen loop.

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However the The Snugg iPad 4 Executive Case Cover and Stand also offers three card pockets in which you can slip business cards, notes or even cash, and a narrow document holder (about 1ocm wide and 25cm high) in which you can tuck paperwork . These features are very useful when out and about, I take my iPad with me everywhere and it is convenient to be able to carry some Book’d Out bookmarks with me in the pocket as well as other bits and pieces.

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TheSnugg.com offers an extensive range of cases for your digital devices – from Apple products, to Galaxy phones and tablets, as well as Kindles, Nooks and the Microsoft Surface and much more. There is even a personalisation option, so you can have your name or Logo on your cover and a wide range of colours to choose from.

If you are looking for a quality case for your iPad, or any other device, I am happy to recommend thesnugg.com. They ship to  several countries as well as offering dedicated online storefronts for half a dozen countries including the UK and Australia. For the full range of products available at the thesnugg.com, visit their website and browse their quality products for what is on offer at great prices.

*I was provided with a case free of charge for review purposes, however all opinions expressed are my own*

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)

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.

Oh dear it seems I got carried away this month – 60 books – it is an illness!

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

For Review (ebook)

Bought or otherwise acquired (giveaways, gifts etc)

Stuff On Sundays: Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

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I am thrilled that over 70 readers have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  Sign ups are open until December 1st 2014. The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. Award Winning
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Alternate History Fiction
  5. Graphic Novel
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
  7. Gothic Fiction
  8. War/Military Fiction
  9. Anthology
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)
  12. Published in 2014

One of the things I have noticed in several sign up posts  is a request for reading suggestions. I encourage participants to look for recommendations from other bloggers who they read and follow or browse Goodreads Listopia  but I thought I might offer a few of my own gleaned from my own browsing.

I’ve covered the first six categories last month which you can view HERE, and here are some ideas for making your choices for the last six.

Gothic Fiction

A gothic novel is most commonly defined by a combination of elements including a closed, eerie setting, such as a crumbling castle, mansion or institution; a mystery complicated by series of inexplicable, perhaps supernatural, events; psychological, and sometimes physical, terror; and a doomed romance, or close relationship. Well known classics of the genre  include Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte,  Woman in White by Wilkie Collins and my favourite, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield is a popular modern gothic title, as is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.  The Flowers in the Attic series by Virgina (V.C) Andrews are currently receiving renewed attention after a recent television adaption and really any of her works would be suitable for this category.  I have previously read and reviewed a handful of contemporary gothic novels including Amanda Stevens Graveyard Queen series, The Fairwick Chronicles by Juliet Dark and most recently Thornwood House by Anna Romer, but its not a genre I read a lot in so I’m still looking for something to suit.

War/Military Fiction

I’m widening the rather narrow definition of this genre to include any novel where a war or ‘armed conflict’ has a significant impact on the story and its characters.  This means you can read novels set on the battlefields such as the historical World War classics,  All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway or the wonderful  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak or The Boy in The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, though neither include combat.  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, set during the Vietnam War, comes highly recommended by my father though he prefers military thrillers such as those by Tom Clancy, Fredrick Forsyth and W.E.B Griffin. Fiction regarding the current conflict in the Middle East is sparse, but titles that are set in the midst of the action such as The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and Fobbit by David Abrams are popular, and there are several which focus on the returned soldiers such as Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk by Ben Fountain and Eleven Days by Lea Carpenter. I could only find reference to a single title written by an Iraqi with regards to the war, a short story collection called The Madman of Freedom Square by Hassan Blasim.   On my review pile I currently have The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan which is a story of a POW on the Thai-Burma railway, Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman about a returned female soldier struggling with PTSD and The Wives of Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit- Alamos being the birthplace of the atomic bomb.

Anthology

An anthology is a  collection of selected writings by various authors , usually in the same literary form, of the same period, or on the same subject.  I’ve highlighted the key word in the definition because often short story collections by a single author are erroneously referred to as an anthology. This is a category that gives you scope to read within a familiar, well loved genre or you can challenge yourself to try something new. Almost every genre is represented in anthologies from science fiction to mystery to romance and even poetry.  I’m determined to read The Urban Fantasy Anthology edited by Peter S Beagle and Joe R Landsdale because it has been sitting on my shelf for more than two years. A search on Goodreads or Google for ‘mammoth book of’ will give you some options across genres like The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction or The Mammoth Book of Futuristic Romance edited by Trisha Tulep. Horror, erotica, historical whodunnits – there is something for everyone!

Medical Thriller

I find medical thrillers so disturbing because you are so vulnerable while in hospital, hostage to the whims of doctors and nurses who know far too many ways to kill you.  I read Robin Cook’s Coma the day before I was scheduled for surgery when I was 14 – a bad, bad idea, and though I eventually went on to read much of his backlist, I haven’t read anything of his for a while.  I know Tess Gerritsen is a popular author in this genre, Harvest is the first of her Medical Thriller series, as is Patricia Cornwell for her Kay Scarpetta series, beginning with Post-Mortem and Jefferson Bass for his Body Farm series focusing on forensic medicine. Ken McClure writes a series featuring an ex-Special Forces medic Dr Steven Dunbar which has piqued my interest but if you are looking for a stand-alone, Harlan Coben wrote Miracle Cure early in his career , or try  Critical Judgement by Michael Palmer, Blood Lies by Daniel Kalla or the Andromeda Strain by Michael Chricton.

Travel

Unlike most people, I’ve never been that interested in traveling but I do enjoy travel memoirs. Bill Bryson is probably the most well known author in the genre, who has chronicled his travels with laugh out loud humour and a keen eye for absurd details, if you are curious about my life in Australia, try his In A Sunburned Country. Personally I couldn’t stand Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love but it has certainly attracted a lot of attention and would be an appropriate choice for the category as would Wild by Cheryl Strayed or 360 Degrees Longitude by John Highham. The Best American Travel Writing  series has been published annually since 2000 or you might prefer a travel guide like National Geographic’s Journeys of a Lifetime or Lonely Planet’s The Travel Book. The only stipulation for this category is that the book you choose should be non fiction.

Published in 2014

The choice here is yours, you can read any genre you like, as long as the book is published between Jan 1st 2014 and December 31st 2014. Maybe your favourite author has a new book coming out this year – the challenge gives you a great excuse to make sure it gets read. Stephen King has announced the publication of Revival in November, JK Rowling’s first prequel to the Harry Potter series may also be available later this year.  Type ‘most anticipated books 2014′ into any search engine and plenty of recommendations are available, the website The Millions also has a long list of previews for the first half of 2014 releases  and Publishers Weekly a list for Spring debuts.

Don’t forget to check out what other’s are reading on the challenge review link page

Which is your favourite book in any of the categories above, what  would you recommend?

War/military fiction is a subset of historical fiction focused on fictionalized narratives of military and war history, and almost exclusively targeting a male audience – See more at: http://www.bookcountry.com/ReadAndReview/Books/GenreMap/FictionOther/WarMilitaryFiction.aspx#sthash.HklpMcDc.dpuf
War/military fiction is a subset of historical fiction focused on fictionalized narratives of military and war history, and almost exclusively targeting a male audience – See more at: http://www.bookcountry.com/ReadAndReview/Books/GenreMap/FictionOther/WarMilitaryFiction.aspx#sthash.HklpMcDc.dpuf

Weekend Cooking: I’d Eat That by Callum Hann

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads  a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.

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Callum Hann is another product of the MasterChef phenomenon, he was just 19 when he placed as the  runner up in the 2010 Australian television series. Since then he has spent his time working and learning in some of Australia’s best kitchens, including The Press Club, Maha, Hellenic Republic, and PM24, toured Australian universities teaching students how to cook and eat well, and recently launched his own cooking school in Adelaide, Sprout Cooking. His first recipe book was entitled The Starter Kitchen: Learn how to love to cook, and following on from this theme is his newest cookbook, I’d Eat That! Simple ways to be a better cook.

I was attracted to this cookbook by it’s tag line, I am all for simple! Presented in hardcover with a convenient elasticised bookmark, in addition to over 90 recipes there is  information on cooking fundamentals, a guide to flavour combinations and seasonal produce, tips for entertaining at home and more. I particularly liked the useful ideas about developing and writing your own recipes – a bonus for foodie bloggers.

Recipes are sorted under headings like Morning Glory, Weeknight Dinners, Things you can Eat with your Hands and Anti-garden Salads. The recipes are influenced by a mix of cultures with a focus on fresh, simple and quick. Examples include Zucchini and Prawn Quesadillas, Braised Chicken and Green Mango Salad, Chimichurri Steak Sandwich and Smoked Salmon, Asparagus and Ricotta Frittatas. There are several options for vegetarians including deserts like the 5-Minute Mango and Coconut Icecream and Instant Rasberry and Cranberry Sorbet.

I have to take a salad to a BBQ tomorrow and I’ve decided to try Hann’s Sweetcorn, Red Onion and Smoked Almond Salad. It seems simple but delicious. Meanwhile my oldest daughter is desperate to try the Microwaved Chocolate and Peanut Butter Mug Pudding for one.

Here is a peek at one of the recipes in I’d Eat That.

haloumi

WIN – The ultimate foodie crash course with Callum Hann!
Murdoch Books Australia and Callum Hann are giving one lucky recipe-book-buyer the chance to be guided around Adelaide Markets to learn what he buys, when and why. We’ll fly you and a friend from your nearest capital city and put you both up in Adelaide for two nights! All you need to do is purchase a copy of I’d Eat That (it’s in stores today!) and retain your receipt as POP. Then answer our competition question, cross fingers and wait for the fantastic news! ENTER HERE: http://a.pgtb.me/JKz7tD Full competition terms and conditions are listed on the competition page.

Available to Purchase From

Allen & Unwin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko I AmazonUS

Stuff on Sundays: Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

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I am thrilled that over 70 readers have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  Sign ups are open until December 1st 2014. The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. Award Winning
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Alternate History Fiction
  5. Graphic Novel
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
  7. Gothic Fiction
  8. War/Military Fiction
  9. Anthology
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)
  12. Published in 2014

One of the things I have noticed in several sign up posts  is a request for reading suggestions. I encourage participants to look for recommendations from other bloggers who they read and follow or browse Goodreads Listopia , I thought I might offer a few of my own gleaned from my own browsing. I’m going to cover the first six today, and the next six early next month.

Award Winning

You don’t have to read a Pulitzer Prize or Man Booker winner for this category, you could read a book that was awarded a Hugo or a Ned Kelly or a Newberry. For this category I am considering Burial Rites by Hannah Kent which won the Writing Australia Unpublished Manuscript Award,  Neil Gamain’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, which won amongst other awards the Specsavers Book of the Year or Past the Shallows by Favel Parret, a winner of the ABIA award.

True Crime

I’ve already met this requirement, reading The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber though I had planned to read Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink or perhaps Orange is The New Black by Piper Kerman .  I used to read a lot of True Crime when I was younger but have read very little for a long while. In True Blood by Truman Capote is a classic example of this genre as is Helter Skelter  by Vincent Bugliosi and Curt Gentry and Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets by David Simon, but if you prefer something lighter then The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales might work for you. Popular true crime authors include Ann Rule, Joseph Wambaugh and John E Douglas and it is worth browsing their work.

Romantic Comedy

I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending The Rosie Project by Graeme Stinston or any of the three Bridget Jones books by Helen Fielding for this category which I have read, but there is plenty of choice available. Contempory romance authors like Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Kristan Higgins are popular.  If you prefer YA try Meg Cabot or Louise Rennison or if you like a a paranormal twist try Molly Harper or MaryJanice Davidson. There are few men who write romantic comedies but you could try Nick HornbyTony Parsons, or Mike Gayle.

Alternate History Fiction

This category is a challenge for me so I have been browsing extensively. The most recommended seem to be  1984 by George Orwell, Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and The Stand or 11/22/63 by Stephen King all of which I have read. The Fatherland by Robert Harris is also popular but it doesn’t interest me but I am curious about Jonathon Strange and & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke and World War Z is an option (I haven’t seen the movie yet). I did stumble on a website devoted to Alternate History fiction and if you still aren’t sure what you want to read then Uchronia is worth browsing.

Graphic Novel

I read my very first Graphic novel for this challenge – Cemetery Girl by Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden and was pleasantly surprised by it. I know very little about the genre though I have learnt you can even get non fiction graphic novels like the true crime story about the Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen and Jonathon Case. Watchmen by Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and Len Wein seems to be popular, as do The Walking Dead volumes by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore. V for Vendetta by  Alan Moore by David Lloyd is a stand alone and several of Neil Gamain’s books have been turned into graphic novels. I also discovered that my favourite TV series of all time - Buffy The Vampire Slayer has been continued in graphic novel form – I so want that!

Cosy Mystery Fiction

One of my favourite comfort genres I nevertheless rarely get a chance to read any. The genre just isn’t published here in Australia at all but it is huge in the US and UK. The thing I love about cosy’s is there practically something for everyone – if you love pets then try Rita Mae Browns Mrs Murphy series , if you are a foodie then try Diane Mott Davidson’s Culinary Mystery Series or the Hannah Swenson Series. If you like scrapbooking then Laura Child’s series might be for you or if you hunt for antiques on the weekend try the Trash and Treasure series by Max Allan Collins under the alias Barbara Allan. There are also cosy’s that take place in almost every time period , and amateur sleuths who hold all manner of occupations. Lets not forget the classics either which include Agatha Christie’s volumes. I suggest you browse Cosy-Mystery Unlimited for a comprehensive representation of the genre.

Don’t forget to check out what other’s are reading on the challenge review link page

What is your favourite book in any of the categories above, what  would you recommend?

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)

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