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

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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

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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

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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



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.


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* Also published  as The Anatomical Shape of the Heart

Click HERE for  FREE exclusive content

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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.


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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

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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

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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

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Also by Fiona McIntosh



Review: The Saddler Boys by Fiona Palmer


Title: The Saddler Boys

Author: Fiona Palmer

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin Au September 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from September 22 to 24, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Saddler Boys is another delightfully engaging rural romance from Australian author Fiona Palmer.

Natalie Wright is excited about taking up her first teaching position in the remote farming community of Lake Biddy, and is determined to make the most of a years freedom from her parent’s expectations. Welcomed by the locals despite her city ways Nat quickly falls in love with Lake Biddy and her adorable young charges, particularly shy and sweet Billy Saddler.

The development of the relationship between Natalie and single dad Drew Saddler is charming. It begins as a friendship sparked by Billy’s admiration for Nat, and her interest in understanding what farming entails but the attraction between the two is quickly evident, even as they both try to deny it. The relationship is of course complicated by Natalie’s engagement to Gary, whose character contrasts sharply with Drew’s.

Additional drama develops as the government announces its intention to shut down Lake Biddy primary school, Billy’s mother, who abandoned him as a newborn reappears demanding contact with her son, and Gary grows increasingly impatient with Natalie’s desire for independence. These subplots all add a frisson of tension to the story, and depth by touching on topical issues such as regional school closures, drug abuse, and domestic violence.

While I really liked the wonderful characterisations of Natalie, Drew and Billy, I also loved the authentic feeling of community Palmer evokes in The Saddler Boys as the residents rally against the school closure and attend the raucous P&C fundraisers. She captures the generosity of country neighbours as Doris drops off Tupperware containers full of food, and friends trade babysitting duties during harvest and seeding.

Written with warmth, humour and spirit, The Saddler Boys is an lovely read about belonging, family, and love.

Available to purchase from

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Also by Fiona Palmer at Book’d Out


Review: Menagerie by Rachel Vincent


Title: Menagerie { Menagerie #1}

Author: Rachel Vincent

Published: Harlequin MIRA September 2015

Status: Read from September 21 to 22, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A darkly imaginative and captivating tale, Menagerie introduces a new fantasy series from Rachel Vincent for an adult audience.

On her twenty fifth birthday, Delilah Marlow’s boyfriend presents her with tickets to Metzger’s Menagerie, a travelling carnival, whose attractions include cryptids, creatures of legend and myth kept captive since the horror of The Reaping. Delilah has never been comfortable with society’s treatment of cryptids, and she is horrified when she witnesses a keeper abuse a young female werewolf, but she is as stunned as everyone around her when her fury manifests physically.

“But if monsters could look like humans, and humans could look like monsters, how could anyone ever really be sure that the right people stood on the outside of all those cages?”

Vincent presents a stunning alternate reality in Menagerie where supernatural creatures are caged, enslaved and exploited by humans. Afforded no rights cryptids are feared and hated, blamed wholesale for an event known as The Reaping which killed hundreds of thousands of children decades earlier.

Delilah is utterly unaware she is anything but human until the night she plunges black talons into the skull of the abusive keeper, and is utterly terrified when she is arrested and then denied any recourse when the Sheriff sells her to Metzger’s Menagerie. Vincent creates a powerful and disturbing portrait of Delilah’s disenfranchisement as she is chained and caged, placed at the mercy of sadistic keepers who force her to become a sideshow attraction despite being unable to identify her ‘type’, alongside the circus’s collection of trolls, ogres, mermaids, djinn, were creatures, and a rare minotaur.

Vincent spares little as she describes the conditions under which the cryptids live in Metzger’s Menagerie. Abused, tortured, starved and drugged, their experiences are harrowing and for Delilah the dislocation is extreme. As she tries to hold onto her dignity, she displays courage, resilience and determination. Only one keeper shows her any kindness, Gallagher, who comes to believe that Delilah is the rarest of cryptid’s, and the only one who can save them all.

Menagerie though is much more than just a thrilling tale of fantasy, it is a story that explores the concepts of humanity, and its capacity for savagery when threatened or fearful, injustice and vengeance. It reflects some of society’s worst impulses such as the internment camps, acts of genocide, human trafficking and forcible slavery. This provocative edge to the story may be overlooked by some, but the parallels were clear to me.

With literally extraordinary characters, dazzling world building and a captivating plot, Menagerie is a sensational read. I can’t wait for the story to continue.

Available to Purchase via

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Also by Rachel Vincent at Book’d Out

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