Book’d Out is 5!

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Today I’m celebrating! Five years ago I published my first post here at Book’d Out.

In that time I have:

* Published a total of 2,059  posts

* Of which 1, 523 are book reviews

* Had 403,639 visitors

* From whom I have received 17,178 comments

* And gained  4,015 awesome subscribers

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 a ‘like’, 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 a token prize of appreciation.

*****

One lucky reader will win

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

amazon

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 6th, 2015

Winners will be randomly selected via random.org

Review: Woman of the Dead by Bernard Aichner

 

Title: Woman of The Dead {Blum #1}

Author: Bernard Aichner (translated by Anthea Bell)

Published: Scribner August 2015

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

My Thoughts:

A dark and disturbing tale of vengeance and violence, Woman of the Dead is the first novel by Bernhard Aichner to feature Blum, mother, mortician and murderer.

When Blum’s beloved husband is killed in a hit and run she is nearly destroyed until she learns that he was deliberately targeted. The photographer, the cook, the priest, the huntsman, and the clown – these are the men responsible, and Blum is going to make them pay.

Woman Of the Dead has one of the most memorable character introductions I’ve ever read. The story opens with a during a defining moment in Blum’s life before leaping forward eight years to place us in the present. Blum is the devoted wife of Mark, a police detective, the doting mother of their two young daughters, and the owner of a successful funeral business. She is both hero and anti-hero in this story, grieving widow and ruthless killer.

There is raw and visceral emotion in The Woman of the Dead. The pain and numbness of Blum’s grief and the horror of the abuse Danya experienced at the hands of the mysterious cabal. There is also grisly and often explicit violence, this isn’t a story for the squeamish.

The plot is quite straight forward, perhaps stretched a little thin at times. It’s a fast paced story that builds suspense, though astute readers shouldn’t have any problems guessing the identity of the last man standing.

Woman of the Dead is an unusual story, with a rather extraordinary protagonist. I’m curious to see how the series develops.

Available to Purchase via

Simon & Schuster I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indiebound

via Booko

Review: The Secret Years by Barbara Hannay

 

Title: The Secret Years

Author: Barbara Hannay

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin  August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 23 to 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Secret Years is Barbara Hannay’s 49th book, in which she blends a contemporary and historical narrative to present an engaging novel about family, heroism, heartbreak and love.

Army logistics officer Lucy Hunter is relieved to be home in Townsville after her six month deployment in Afghanistan but she isn’t prepared for the changes in store for her. Her mother has exchanged her childhood home for a sterile condo apartment she is sharing with a new man, her grandfather’s health is failing, and her fiance, Sam, has cold feet. With several weeks of leave ahead of her, Lucy is at a loose end until she discovers a box of wartime memorabilia that contains clues to her family’s history that neither her mother or grandfather are willing to talk about. Hoping to understand the secrets of the past, Lucy travels to Cornwall, a place where she just might find her future.

Moving between the past and present, the narrative shifts between Lucy’s journey to unravel her family’s secrets, and the story of the relationship between Lucy’s cattleman grandfather, Harry, and his aristocratic bride, Georgina. Emotions run high in both timelines through scenes of wartime drama, desperate passion and captivating romance.

I liked Lucy and I sympathised with her desire to understand the past. The mystery stems from the discord between Lucy’s mother, Ro and Lucy’s grandfather, Harry, which Lucy learns is related to her mother’s brief time in England. I also enjoyed Lucy’s romance with the dashing Nick.

But it was the story of Harry and George’s courtship and marriage that I found particularly entrancing. Their love is touching, and their wartime experiences are exciting, if also sobering.

The story takes us from Australia’s coastline and outback, to London during the Blitz, from the wild bluffs of Cornwall to the jungles of Papua New Guinea as the Japanese invade. Both the contemporary and wartime settings are vividly described, as are the characters experiences of them.

The Secret Years is well written with appealing characters and a moving story. Another winning romance.

Available to purchase from

Penguin Books Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Barbara Hannay

 


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Review: We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

 

Title: We Never Asked for Wings

Author: Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Published: Ballantine Books August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 21 to 22, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s debut novel, The Language of Flowers, was an impressive debut that captured my heart. We Never Asked For Wings is a similarly poignant and touching story.

We Never Asked for Wings is a story of redemption as Letty Epinosa picks up the mantle of motherhood when her parents decide to move back to Mexico. After years of benign neglect, she has to learn what it means to be a parent who is emotionally present in her children’s lives while providing for them as best she can. Letty makes a lot of mistakes as she negotiates her new responsibilities but slowly she begins to find her feet, wanting the best life that she can possibly provide for her fifteen year old son, Alex, and her six year old daughter, Luna.

Meanwhile Alex is falling in love for the first time and Letty is terrified he will repeat her mistakes, sabotaging his dreams with a teenage pregnancy. Alex however is far more responsible than his mother gives him credit for, but in trying to help Ysenia, an undocumented immigrant, escape the bullying she experiences at school, he unwittingly puts both their futures in jeopardy.

We Never Asked For Wings explores social issues including single parenthood, educational inequality, poverty and immigration, and themes such as family, love, regrets and redemption. Birds and feathers are symbols of migration, patterns, hopes and dreams.

Sensitively and beautifully written, Diffenbaugh paints a vivid picture of a family struggling to overcome adversity and forge a stronger, united future in We Never Asked For Wings. This is a wonderfully engaging and affecting novel that tugs at the heartstrings.

 

Available to Purchase via

PenguinRandom House I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indiebound

via Booko

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is hosted at Book Journey. In Sheila’s absence I’m linking this post via Twitter at #IMWAYR

Life…

Another rather ordinary week has passed me by, though it has had its moments. I enjoyed a brief visit from friends I rarely see in person as they were heading home from a motorcycle tour of Queensland, and won an awesome prize from Dymocks Books via their facebook page (below).

dymocks

This week I’ll be celebrating Book’d Out’s 5th blogoversary on Thursday. It will be a low key affair due to my non existent budget, but I hope you’ll stop by.

What I Read Last Week

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathon Kellerman

Private Sydney by James Patterson & Kathryn Fox

The Crushing Season by Peta Jo

Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer

No House to Call My Home by Ryan Berg

We Never Asked For Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

New Posts

(click the titles to read my reviews)

Review: The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathon Kellerman  ★★★★

Review: Private Sydney by James Patterson & Kathryn Fox ★★★

AWW Feature: Peta Jo and The Crushing Season

Review: The Crushing Season by Peta Jo ★★★★

Review: Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer ★★★

Where the Magic Happens

Review: No House to Call My Home by Ryan Berg ★★★

Stuff On Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

What I Am Reading Today

When Lucy Hunter stumbles upon her grandfather Harry’s World War II memorabilia, she finds a faded photograph of a stunning young woman known simply as ‘George’ and a series of heartfelt letters. They are clues about the secret years, a period of Lucy’s family history that has been kept a mystery . . . until now.
How did a cattleman from north Queensland find forbidden love with the Honourable Georgina Lenton of London and persuade her to move to his isolated outback property? And why are the effects of this encounter still reverberating in the lives of Lucy and her mother, Rose, now?
As the passions of the past trickle down the years, three generations of one family pull together. Each must learn in their own way how true love can conquer the greatest challenges of all.

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Blum is a mortician; an outspoken woman in a male dominated profession. She is also the loving mother of two young children, adored by those around her for her kind heart, her strength, and her sharp wit. Blum rides a motorcycle, and likes to spend time with friends and her husband, Mark, a policeman. She has been happily married to Mark for eight years, a perfect union. Blum has a good life, a life that masks the terrible secrets of her childhood. Then, in one devastating moment, Mark is killed before Blum’s eyes. A hit-and-run. The most important thing in her life, her support and happiness, is taken from her. Blum grieves, but she refuses to accept her fate. She soon discovers that there is more to Mark’s death than meets the eye. This was no accident. A shadowy group of people wanted Mark dead. But why?
Blum is determined to find out… and to have her revenge.

As a prolonged drought takes its toll on their lives, Bec and her husband must battle the bank’s attempts to foreclose on their beloved Coolibah Creek in a suspenseful and action-packed new novel from a fresh and authentic voice in rural romance. Bec Roberts and her husband Andy adore each other. They’re also passionate about their beloved station, Coolibah Creek, but are despairing as a relentless drought ravages their property. Bec is worried, too, about her best friend and neighbour, Maggie O’Donnell. Married to a difficult, hard-drinking man who’s away for long periods, Maggie finds herself increasingly drawn to a stockman who works for the family. When tragedy strikes, Bec is pushed to the very limits of her endurance. How will her family and Coolibah endure the challenges they’re facing? Suspenseful and action-packed, Coolibah Creek is about a woman who has to muster all the strength and determination she has in the face of adversity. It is also about the power of love.

With a missing girl in the news, Claire Scott can’t help but be reminded of her sister, who disappeared twenty years ago in a mystery that was never solved. But when Claire begins to learn the truth about her sister, nothing will ever be the same.

This collection of essays and memoir pieces explores the topic of reading, in particular what it means for writers to be readers and how that has shaped their life. Contributors include Debra Adelaide, Joan London, Delia Falconer, Sunil Badami, Gabrielle Carey, Luke Davies, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Kate Forsyth, Giulia Giuffre, Andy Griffiths, Anita Heiss, Gail Jones, Jill Jones, Catherine Keenan, Malcolm Knox, Wayne Macauley, Fiona McFarlane, David Malouf, Rosie Scott, Carrie Tiffany and Geordie Williamson.

A revelatory account of poverty in America so deep that we, as a country, don’t think it exists Jessica Compton’s family of four would have no cash income unless she donated plasma twice a week at her local donation center in Tennessee. Modonna Harris and her teenage daughter Brianna in Chicago often have no food but spoiled milk on weekends.   After two decades of brilliant research on American poverty, Kathryn Edin noticed something she hadn’t seen since the mid-1990s — households surviving on virtually no income. Edin teamed with Luke Shaefer, an expert on calculating incomes of the poor, to discover that the number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about 3 million children.   Where do these families live? How did they get so desperately poor? Edin has “turned sociology upside down” (Mother Jones) with her procurement of rich — and truthful — interviews. Through the book’s many compelling profiles, moving and startling answers emerge.   The authors illuminate a troubling trend: a low-wage labor market that increasingly fails to deliver a living wage, and a growing but hidden landscape of survival strategies among America’s extreme poor. More than a powerful exposé, $2.00 a Day delivers new evidence and new ideas to our national debate on income inequality.

 

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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 (electronic)

Review: No House to Call My Home by Ryan Berg

 

Title: No House to Call My Home: Love, Family, and Other Transgressions

Author: Ryan Berg

Published: Nation Books August 2015

Status: Read on August 20, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I recently binge watched America’s ABC Family series The Fosters, a one-hour drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological teenaged kids being raised by two moms. In one of the later seasons, a main character is remanded to a residential foster home and one of the teenage residents in the home is transgender. Though his story is told quite broadly over one or two episodes, it stuck with me, and so my interest was piqued when No House to Call My Home by Ryan Berg came up for review.

No House to Call My Home is a book that illustrates the struggles of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth of colour in America’s foster system. While the challenges for youth in foster care are numerous, the problems LGBTQ youth face are often compounded by their struggle with gender, sexual, racial and cultural identity. Berg states that 70% of LGBTQ youth in group homes reported experiencing violence based on their LGBTQ status, 100% reported verbal harassment, and 78% of youth were removed or ran away from placement because of hostility towards their LGBTQ status.

The stories in this book offer readers a glimpse into the lives of the LGBTQ youth of colour Berg worked with in two residential units serving the LGBTQ foster youth in New York City. Focusing on a handful of characters, Berg shares their uniformly harrowing stories, often involving histories of childhood physical and sexual abuse, neglect, poverty and victimisation. Now aged between 14 and 21 (21 being the age at which foster children are released from the system) Berg and his colleagues battle to help these youths manage a myriad of issues, including addictions to drugs and high risk behaviours, to improve their chances at living healthy and fulfilling lives.

The stories are affecting, the children’s mixture of bravado, naivete, hurt and hope are difficult to read, but I think as a result I am better informed and more understanding of their circumstances. Sadly, most of the young people that we are introduced to in No House To Call Home will age out without the means, skills or opportunity to find stable housing or get a job with a livable wage.

No House to Call My Home is an accessible read for an audience curious about the issue of LGBTQ youth in foster care. I imagine it also would have value for social workers, school counselors, foster carers and LGBTQ youth advocates.

 

Available to purchase from

PublicAffairsBooks I Amazon US I BookDepository I Indiebound

via Booko

Where the Magic Happens…

I was delighted to be invited to participate in  author Kirsty Eagar‘s monthly  ‘Where the Magic Happens’ feature!

If you are curious to learn more, please go visit and say hi!

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Kirsty Eager is the author of 3 wonderful books: Raw Blue, Saltwater Vampires and Night Beach

@ Goodreads

 

Review: Good Mourning by Elizabeth Meyer & Caitlin Moscatello

 

Title: Good Mourning

Author: Elizabeth Meyer and Caitlin Moscatello

Published: Gallery Books August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 19 to 20, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“When I was twenty-one and most of my friends were Daddy-do-you-know-someone?-ing their way into fancy banks and PR firms, I was grieving the loss of my father, who had just died of cancer. That’s how I found myself in the lobby of Crawford Funeral Home, one of several premier funeral homes in Manhattan, begging for a job one day.”

After finding satisfaction in taking charge of her beloved father’s funeral arrangements, young New York socialite Elizabeth Meyer joins the staff at Crawford Funeral Home despite the objections of family and friends. Though hired as a receptionist, Elizabeth’s curiosity about all aspects of the business, including the mortuary room, and her ability to relate to Crawford’s upscale clientele, soon sees her appointed as the Family Services Coordinator.

Unlike Caitlin Doughty’s memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, published earlier this year, Meyer’s memoir has no real agenda, though she is sincere in her belief that mourners should have the opportunity to create a meaningful funeral experience that honours their loved one.

Good Mourning has a largely lighthearted tone as Meyer shares her experiences at Crawford. From body fluids leaking all over her Gucci shoes, to missing brains, to making arrangements for dozens of Lamborghini’s to line Madison Avenue. She is discrete as she describes the excesses of unnamed celebrity and society funerals, respectful as she tells of families grief, and is matter of fact about the more confronting aspects of the funeral industry.

Eventually tiring of the infighting and corporate ethos plaguing Crawford, Meyer left after a few years, and after further study started her own private consulting firm, helping people to navigate the funeral industry.

Authored with the assistance of freelance writer Caitlin Moscatello, Good Mourning is written in a conversational style. Elizabeth comes across charmingly enthusiastic, and genuinely passionate about her chosen career. Meyer’s instinct for dealing with grieving families is remarkably mature, but her youth is apparent in what she shares of personal life. She has a difficult relationship with her mother, doesn’t understand the hostility directed at her by her colleagues, and takes her wealth and privilege for granted.

Good Mourning is a quick, interesting and entertaining read, and Elizabeth Meyer shares her story with honesty, humour, and compassion.

Available to purchase via

Simon & Schuster US I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indie Bound

via Booko

 

Review: The Crushing Season by Peta Jo

 

 

Title: The Crushing Season

Author: Peta Jo

Published: August 2015

Status: Read from August 18 to 19, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Peta Jo’s second novel, The Crushing Season, is an engaging story about friendship, family, love and loss.

Leah, May, Tate, Alex and Benny are the best of friends. They met in high school and more than fifteen years later, despite the separation wrought by their busy lives, remain close. When May is hit by a double crisis, her friends rally to support her, but none of them realise how badly she has been affected, until she does the unthinkable.

I became quite attached to all of the Crushing Season’s protagonists, who are wonderfully developed characters. Tate is a feisty news editor, struggling to balance her commitment to her work and new motherhood. Leah runs her own successful restaurant, but is plagued with a history of bad relationships. Benny is a frustrated writer on the verge of giving up on his dreams. Laid back Alex is suddenly anxious about his future. May is the linchpin of the group, whose gentle and caring nature never hints at the dark secrets she holds close.

The dynamic between the friends is skilfully rendered. I enjoyed their rowdy reunion, their affectionate ribbing and bickering, and of course the way they supported each other in times of crisis. Even when their bond is complicated and strained, the connection is clear. In many ways, they remind me of my own close circle of friends whom I don’t see as often as I would like.

Peta Jo’s exploration of the books somber issues such as abuse, depression, suicide and guilt, are thoughtful and compassionate. Most importantly, the characters emotions are sincere, and their behaviour genuine. Though there is real sadness in The Crushing Season, there is also plenty of heart and humour, which often made me smile.

Well paced, with excellent characterisation and a strong plot, The Crushing Season is an affecting tale, both achingly poignant and truly heartwarming.

Please CLICK HERE to learn more about Peta Jo and The Crushing Season

The Crushing Season is available to purchase via

Booktopia I Book Depository I Bookworld I   via Booko

Amazon US I Amazon UK

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