Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson


Title: Furiously Happy

Author: Jenny Lawson

Published: Picador: Pan Macmillan Australia October 2015

Status: Read from October 03 to 04, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

In case you are unaware, Jenny Lawson is a blogger whose brutally candid and often profane posts as The Bloggess, about living with depression, anxiety and a variety of other psychiatric disorders are wildly popular.
Laugh out loud funny, poignant and a little crazy, read this and make yourself #FuriouslyHappy

I generally choose not to rate memoirs for several reasons (but if I did, I’d give this 5 stars).


Available to purchase from

Pan Macmillan Au Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US I Amazon UK I BookDepository

and all good bookstores.

Review: Preschooled by Anna Lefler


Title: Preschooled

Author: Anna Lefler

Published: Full Fathom Five October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from October 01 to 02, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Preschooled is a funny, light and sardonic debut novel from Anna Lefler.

Thrilled when her daughter gains a place at the exclusive Garden of Happiness preschool in Santa Monica, Justine is eager to impress the center’s demanding owner, Margaret, but is thrown when she runs into the man who once shattered her heart.

Margaret expects nothing less than slavish obedience from the parents who pay handsomely for privilege of a preschool education at The Garden of Happiness. Margaret is always in control, but when her soon-to-be-ex-husband betrays her by threatening to take away everything she has built, her tantrum will rival any recalcitrant toddler’s.

Ruben’s wife has gone back to work so he can work on developing a television script while looking after their twins, but he’s struggling until he finds inspiration among the committee mothers of the Garden of Happiness.

As the narrative alternates between Lefler’s three main protagonists it gently mocks the absurdities of preschool admission competition and privileged pretension, while also lightheartedly addressing more universal issues such as parenting, marriage strife and work/life balance.

Preschooled is a quick and entertaining read that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and won’t expect you to either.

Available to purchase from

Full Fathom Five I Amazon US I iBooks I Kobo I Nook

Review & Giveaway: Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.


Title: Sweet Wattle Creek

Author: Kaye Dobbie

Published: Harlequin AU October 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 30 to October 01, 2015   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

With a narrative alternating between the past and the present, Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, tells the story of Belle Bartholomew and Sophie Matheson, two women haunted by the secrets of their pasts.

When her father commits suicide after losing his wealth during the post war depression, Belle Bartholomew is stunned to learn of the secrets he had been keeping. Eager to know more, she travels to Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance, a rundown hotel bequeathed to her by Martha Ambrose, and though Belle’s questions put the locals offside, she is determined to solve the mystery of her birth.

Nearly sixty years later, reporter Sophie Matheson is enchanted by a vintage wedding dress donated to the Sweet Wattle Creek centenary celebrations. Intrigued by its mysterious provenance, Sophie begins to piece together the story of Belle and Charlie, and their connection to the old burnt out hotel on the town’s fringe, unaware that her own past is catching up to her.

Both Belle and Sophie are appealing and sympathetic characters. Though their situations are very different they share a similar spirit, facing adversity with courage and determination.

Dobbie’s portrayal of small town Australia during the 1930’s is very well done. The community of Sweet Wattle Creek is still struggling with grief for their loved ones lost and injured in the Great War, and are worried about the impact of the post war depression, particularly as ‘travellers’ pass through their town. Dobbie skilfully communicates this tense atmosphere, and Belle’s status as an outsider.

The mid 1980’s is a fairly bland era by comparison but Dobbie is careful to ensure the period is reflected in the storyline. The local paper where Sophie works still uses a mechanical press to publish, archives are stored in the basement, and the single computer that saves data to floppy discs is still a novelty.

Most importantly, I thought the story was very well structured, both the historical and contemporary timelines complement each other well, and advance the plot as a whole. The pacing is good and the suspense builds nicely. There are some neat turns to the plot and I thought the conclusion was satisfying.

Sweet Wattle Creek is a well crafted and engaging tale combining mystery, drama and romance, and I’m happy to recommend it.

To learn more , CLICK HERE for a guest post from the author published earlier today

Sweet Wattle Creek is available to purchase via

Harlequin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.


Courtesy of Kaye Dobbie I have

1 Kindle edition of

Sweet Wattle Creek

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

to giveaway to one lucky Australian resident.

Leave a comment on this post and then


*Sorry, entry is for Australian residents only, and must have a valid account*

Entries close October 11th, 2015

#SweetWattleCreek #KayeDobbie @HarlequinAUS #JAMPR



Blog Tour: Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie


I’m delighted to welcome Kaye Dobbie to Book’d Out today, celebrating the release of Sweet Wattle Creek. Kaye Dobbie is an Australian author living on the central Victorian goldfields. She has been writing professionally ever since she won the Grafton Big River short story contest at the age of 18. Her career has undergone many changes, including writing Australian historical fiction under the name Lilly Sommers and penning romance novels as Sara Bennett. Kaye has written about, and been published in, many countries, but her passion for Australia shows in her current Harlequin Mira novels.

In Sweet Wattle Creek, the chance discovery of an antique wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure.

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

It’s 1931 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe.

Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?”


To read my review of Sweet Wattle Creek and for a chance to win a copy, please CLICK HERE.  But first, please read on to learn more about the novel…

Animal Characters in Sweet Wattle Creek

by Kaye Dobbie

I happen to be an animal lover. Over the years I’ve had more pets than I can remember. Well, that’s not true, because I can remember them, they all hold a special place in my heart, every one of them. So it makes sense that I have animals in my books. Usually the animal plays some role, it isn’t just there to up the word count. And sometimes I like to write about a pet I have loved and lost.

In Sweet Wattle Creek I have three main Creature Characters.

cockatoo-583921_640In 1904 Martha and her daughter Belle are waiting on the platform at Spencer Street Station, Melbourne, for Martha’s brother Rory. Four year old Belle sees a pigeon that reminds her of Nellie, her pet sulphur crested cockatoo, and the bird is introduced to readers. Later on, in 1931, Belle returns to claim her inheritance in Sweet Wattle Creek, and this time we meet the real Nellie. She becomes part of the story, sitting on Belle’s shoulder, even participating in one of the crucial scenes in the book. And near the end, if you read very carefully, she’s there, a part of Belle’s family.

In 1986 Sophie Matheson comes to Sweet Wattle Creek to hide from a frightening past. Her son Dillon has always wanted a dog but their circumstances meant it was impossible. Now they are settled in the small country town, and suddenly fate throws Smithy in their path and into their home.

Smithy is a black and white border collie, and he belongs to an elderly woman who has had a fall and been taken to hospital. Dillon and Smithy immediately bond, and his arrival gives the reader an insight into the sort of boy Dillon is and how his life has been affected by the trauma of his, and Sophie’s, past. Smithy also gives a bit of comic relief from what is a serious subject.

border collieThe third Creature Character in Sweet Wattle Creek is BC, which stands for Black Cat. BC arrived on the doorstep of Sophie’s work place, the Sweet Wattle Creek Herald, with a litter of kittens. Sophie managed to find adoptees for the others, but BC was left and now he is her cat. BC is the boss of the house, very used to getting his own way, until Smithy the border collie arrives. Suddenly BC undergoes a character change, shedding his aloofness for the sake of more pats.

BC is a pseudonym for a real cat called Aussie, who later on became Old Black Cat. She arrived one Christmas, dumped in our street, and found her way to our house. She was my cat for twenty-two years, and for the last part of her life kept me company in my study while I wrote. I got so used to seeing her on the chair behind me, or stretched out in front of the heater under the desk, that when she grew so ill we had to let her go, I felt as if my writing partner had died. At times, during those last weeks, I was worried she wouldn’t make it to the end of the book, so afterwards my sadness was tinged with gratitude that she did.

I believe animals are important in real life, so why not in fictional life too? Are you an animal lover? Do you have a special Creature Character in your life?

Sweet Wattle Creek high res.

Sweet Wattle Creek is available to purchase via

Harlequin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.

#SweetWattleCreek #KayeDobbie @HarlequinAUS #JAMPR


Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett


Title: Night Owls

Author: Jenn Bennett

Published: Simon & Schuster September 2015

Status: Read on October 01, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Night Owls is a charming contemporary young adult novel from Jenn Bennet.

When aspiring medical illustrator Beatrix Adams meets a handsome teenage boy while waiting for San Francisco’s owl bus, she’s surprised to learn he is responsible for the stunning word graffiti that has the city in an uproar. Busy putting together an entry for an art contest, and her summer job, Bex doesn’t expect to see him again, but after Jack makes a grand gesture on her birthday, everything changes.

The romance between Jack and Beatrix is sweet and gentle. I liked the way Bennett developed their relationship, and even though the time-frame was fairly short, I believed in their progression. I enjoyed their banter during their first meetings and later, the support they offered each other. I was a little surprised by the sexual intimacy, but I think it was beautifully written.

The connection Bex and Jack make through their art is an important part of Night Owls. I love that Bex is an aspiring medical illustrator, it’s such a unique choice and I really like the way Bennett worked the idea throughout the novel. Jack’s graffiti art is intensely personal, and his motive very touching.

Though the romance between Bex and Jack is a major element of the story, Bennett also explores several important themes including divorce and mental illness. Bex and Jack’s family’s are very much a part of the story. Bex is close to her older brother Heath and her single mother but she is estranged from her father who left the family after an affair and is unsure when he reaches out to her. Jack’s family situation is also complicated though in an entirely different, and heartbreaking way.

A witty, stirring, and poignant story about love, family, art and heart, Night Owls is beautifully written.


Night Owls is available via

Simon & Schuster Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

I Amazon UK I Book Depository Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

* Also published  as The Anatomical Shape of the Heart

Click HERE for  FREE exclusive content

bloom-night-owlet-1-9781471145209_hr celebrate-night-owlet-2-9781471145216rise-night-owlet-3-9781471145223


Review: Swimming Home by Mary-Rose MacColl


Title: Swimming Home

Author: Mary-Rose MacColl

Published: Allen & Unwin September 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 27 to 30, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Swimming Home is the sixth novel by Mary-Rose MacColl, her previous book In Falling Snow was a favourite read of mine in 2012.

Exploring the themes of family, belonging, regret, and redemption, Swimming Home is a gracious and engaging novel.

When fifteen year old Catherine is orphaned, her aunt, Dr Louisa Quick, insists she abandons her idyllic island home in the Torres Strait and move with her to London. An independent and busy surgeon, Louisa is determined to provide her niece with the opportunity to become a well educated and successful young lady, but Catherine is miserable in her exclusive day school, missing the warmth of her Islander family, and the ocean. It’s not until Catherine swims the width of the Thames on a dare and Louisa is approached by the enigmatic banker Manfred Lear Black, that she reconsiders her plans for her niece.

As a doctor, Louisa is intelligent and confident, but she struggles to relate to her niece and, uncomfortable with emotion, she makes some poor decisions when it comes to seeing to Catherine’s well being. Though there is no malice intended, Louisa’s actions have far reaching consequences and she suffers a crisis of conscience as the novel progresses. Louisa is not a particularly likeable character at times but I think MacColl portrays her well, and I was sympathetic to her flaws.

Catherine is resigned to her new life in London and wants to please her aunt, but she is lonely and homesick. Having spent almost everyday of her life swimming in the ocean, she jumps at the chance to swim to under Manfred Lear Black’s patronage in New York. I felt for Catherine, whose loving and idyllic childhood came to such an abrupt end. She is remarkably stoic, but her longing is palpable and she obviously feels out of place, London contrasts sharply with her island home, as does the New York ‘tanks’ to her beloved ocean.

There are two subtle threads of mystery that run through the story, and a few surprises in the plot though Swimming Home progresses at a measured pace. What action there is stems largely from the Black’s determination that Catherine will be the first woman to swim the breadth of the English Channel. MacColl weaves fiction with fact as she writes of Catherine’s competitors, including Gertrude Ederle who was the first woman to swim the channel in 1926 and I enjoyed learning something about the birth of competitive swimming for women.

Set in an interesting period, with complex characters and a thoughtful story, Swimming Home is a finely written, poignant and pensive, but ultimately uplifting novel.


Swimming Home is available to purchase via

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey.


kids took my mind

Did I mention it’s school holidays?

What I Read Last Week

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Menagerie by Rachel Vincent

The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer

The Perfumer’s Secret by Fiona McIntosh

Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library by Wayne A. Weigand

Prick with a Fork by Larissa Dubecki

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review & Giveaway: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood ★★★★1/2

Review: Menagerie by Rachael Vincent ★★★★1/2

Review: The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer ★★★1/2

Review: The Perfumer’s Secret by  Fiona McIntosh ★★★1/2

Review: Part of Our Lives by Wayne A Weigand ★★★1/2

Weekend Cooking: Prick with a Fork by Larissa Dubecki ★★★1/2

What I Am Reading Today

The lone swimmer, turning over now to switch to a perfectly executed back crawl, wasn’t Oxford or Cambridge, wasn’t a man. It was a woman, a girl. It was Catherine. Of course it was Catherine. It’s 1925 and fifteen-year-old Catherine Quick longs to feel once more the warm waters of her home, to strike out into the ocean off the Torres Strait Islands and swim, as she’s done since she was a tiny child. But with her recent move to London where she lives with her aunt Louisa, Catherine feels that everything she values has been stripped away. Louisa, a busy, confident London surgeon who fought boldly for equality for women, holds definite views on the behaviour of her young niece. She wants Catherine to pursue an education, just as she did, to ensure her future freedom. Since Catherine arrived, however, Louisa’s every step seems to be wrong and she is finding it harder and harder to block painful memories from her past. It takes the influence of enigmatic American banker Manfred Lear Black to convince Louisa to come to New York where Catherine can test her mettle against the first women in the world to swim the English Channel. And where, unexpectedly, Louisa can finally listen to what her own heart tells her. Like Mary-Rose MacColl’s bestselling novel, In Falling Snow, Swimming Home tells a story of ordinary women who became extraordinary.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

A vintage wedding dress reveals family secrets she never knew… The chance discovery of a vintage wedding dress weaves together the fascinating stories of three women from different eras: Sophie, in hiding from a troubled past; Belle, who must lose everything to learn what really matters; and Martha, forced to give up those she loves in order to avoid exposure. It’s 1930 and Belle Bartholomew has arrived in rural Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance – a run-down grand hotel formerly owned by Martha Ambrose. Determined to solve the mystery of her birth and the reason why she was bequeathed the hotel Belle runs into difficulties with the townsfolk and their desire to keep their secrets safe. Sixty years later Sophie Matheson is on a quest to find Belle and her family after discovering the wedding dress. The Sweet Wattle Creek Centenary brings more challenges when her past catches up and she must fight for all that matters to her. Who were Belle and Martha and what links their lives together?

Feeling alive is always worth the risk. Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco’s night bus—turns Beatrix’s world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive…and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists. But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.

Behind the toddler-proof gate of Santa Monica’s exclusive Garden of Happiness, it’s the grown-ups who are getting schooled. When new preschool parent Justine discovers that the man who broke her heart back in grad school is a dad in her daughter’s class, she tells herself she’s immune to the superficial charms of the ex she calls “the crapwizard.” But when his presence opens a time tunnel of potent memories from her life before motherhood, she must find a way to defuse her old attraction to him before it undermines her marriage. Then there’s Ruben, rookie stay-at-home dad and standup comic who quits his day job to pursue his TV-writing dream on his wife’s condition that he take her place among the “power mommies” on the school committees. And ruling the sand box with an iron fist is Margaret, whose ongoing divorce from her dentist-turned-New Age-surfer husband forces her to rely on her dubious people skills in order to keep the school that has become the cornerstone of her identity. When the new school year kicks off with a flight-risk rabbit named Ozone, a school secretary in desperate need of a social filter, and some double-barreled committee recruiting tactics, it’s not all juice and cookies for Justine, Ruben, and Margaret as they struggle to play nice.

What if the only way to end your marriage was to be the perfect husband? Maya wants Nick to be less of a workaholic, to come home earlier, to spend some time with his children. Nick wants a divorce. With his mind made up, Nick is determined to leave quickly and with dignity, but it comes as an unpleasant shock to realise how much it will cost him to walk away. As a stay-at- home mum, Maya is entitled to everything. Nick is resolute, so when an unlikely solution presents itself he gives it everything he’s got. If Nick becomes a better husband and father, if he encourages his wife to rediscover herself, the more self-sufficient Maya will become: and the cheaper Nick’s pay-out. But as Nick pretends to be a better man he becomes one. He remembers his connection with Maya, their ability to be a couple and not just parents who share a house. Everything seems to be back on track. Until Maya finds out exactly what Nick has been planning.

“It’s the difference between surviving life and living life. It’s the difference between taking a shower and teaching your monkey butler how to shampoo your hair.”  Jenny Lawson – aka The Bloggess – returns with the follow-up to her bestselling memoir Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, recounting stories from everyday family life in her inimitably frank, hilarious, bizarre and endearing way. She describes her battles with depression and anxiety and her quest to overcome them by saying yes to even the absurdist opportunities and making the good times gloriously good. For as Jenny says: ‘You can’t experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy…’ It’s a philosophy that has – quite literally – saved her life.



Thanks for stopping by!

Weekend Cooking: Prick With a Fork by Larissa Dubecki


Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads is a semi-regular post at Book’d Out.



Title: Prick with a Fork

Author: Larissa Dubecki

Published: Allen & Unwin September 2015

Status: Read from September 25 to 26, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Prick With a Fork is a funny, lighthearted expose of the food industry from the point of view of a disenchanted waitress turned restaurant critic.

From almost killing a stripper with a wayward steak knife to staging go slow’s to frustrate obnoxious customers, Larissa Dubecki claims she was the world’s worst waitress, unashamedly sullen, insolent, disinterested, and often hungover, yet she spent over a decade waitering in everything from cyber cafe’s to gastro pubs throughout Melbourne.

In Prick with a Fork, Dubecki details working with psychopathic chefs, hostile customers, drug addled colleagues and bartenders on the take and reveals insider secrets about illicit trysts in coolrooms, cash hidden under registers, and unpleasant uses for carrots. Her anecdotes are hilarious, though often slightly nauseating, you may never be able look your waiter in the eye again.

Salted with confessions and peppered with pathos, Prick with a Fork is a light and entertaining read.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.


Review: Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library by Wayne A. Wiegand


Title: Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library

Author: Wayne A. Wiegand

Published: Oxford University Press September 2015

Status: Read on September 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Part of Our Lives is a fascinating and passionate treatise on the history, culture and contribution of American public libraries by Wayne A. Wiegand.

With a focus on the perspective of ‘library in the life of a user’ Wiegand explores the important role libraries play in the life of individuals: as distributors of information and education, as a source of fiction that entertains and enlightens, and as social community spaces, debunking the notion that libraries are, or have ever been, simply ‘warehouses for books’.

Tracing the evolution of public library services, from Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia established in 1732, through to the 17,219 modern public library systems more than 93 million Americans utilised in 2012, Wiegand draws on official and anecdotal sources to illustrate the value of libraries that statistics don’t always reflect.

In addition Wiegand examines issues such as access, censorship, and technology and the sway of factors such as gender, race, class, politics, and religion, that have have shaped, and continue to affect modern library services.

Though primarily a professional text, Part of Our Lives is an accessible read, I’d recommend it to bibliophiles, social historians and anyone who treasures their library card.

Available to Purchase via

Oxford University Press I Amazon US I BookDepository

IndieBound I Booko



Review: The Perfumer’s Secret by Fiona McIntosh


Title: The Perfumer’s Secret

Author: Fiona McIntosh

Published: Penguin Australia September 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from September 24 to 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Perfumer’s Secret is Fiona McIntosh’s seventh historical tale of romance. Set in the Provence region of France during World War 1, it’s a story of duty, secrets, love, family and perfume.

Dramatic and romantic, the plot of The Perfumer’s Secret centers around Fleurette Delacroix. To secure the futures of Grasse’s eminent perfumery dynasties, Fleurette is forced to wed Aimery De Lasset by her eldest brother, Henri. Though resigned to her fate, it’s a relief when war is declared before the marriage is consummated and De Lasset rides off to join the French troops marching against the invasion of Germany. With the men, including Fleurette’s brother away at war, it is left to her to ensure that both family business continue to flourish, a challenge she is more than capable of, for Fleurette has ‘the nose’, a rare ability to distinguish over 3000 scents. But when Fleurette’s husband’s estranged brother, Sebastien De Lasset, appears in Grasse, he carries a secret that could destroy everything both families have built, and break Fleurette’s heart.

Fleurette is a lovely character, from the first pages she demonstrates spirit, courage and patience, and continues to mature over the course of the novel. Given the era she has few options when Henri insists she marries Aimery, but she doesn’t let it dampen her hopes that she will find a place in the family business, and she copes admirably with the scandal and tragedy that befalls her. Aimery is an uncomplicated villain, arrogant, boorish and misogynistic, while Sebastien is a traditional heroic character. The romance that develops between Fleurette and Sebastien is easy to root for.

McIntosh’s deftly weaves historical fact into her fiction. The story is meticulously researched, in terms of location, period and the specifics of the perfumery industry. McIntosh describes the study she undertook in the back of the book, spending time in Grasse, interviewing perfumers, visiting museums, and creating a signature scent. I don’t wear perfume (my husband is allergic) but I still found learning about its production and scents interesting.

An easy, engaging and pleasant read, The Perfumer’s Secret is a grand historical love story ideal for francophiles and romantics.

Available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

and all good bookstores.

Also by Fiona McIntosh



Previous Older Entries


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,039 other followers