Blog Tour Review: The Enchanted Island by Ellie O’Neill


Title: The Enchanted Island

Author: Ellie O’Neill

Published: Simon & Schuster November

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

My Thoughts:

The Enchanted Island is Ellie O’Neill’s captivating second novel about self discovery, modern day malaise, and magic.

When apprentice solictor Maeve O’Brien is sent to Hy Brasil, a tiny island off the coast of Ireland, to finalise a deal for a client, she’s determined to prove herself. Sure, she has made some mistakes, betraying her best friend and burying herself in debt among them, but she’s confident that this assignment will help her turn things around. All Maeve needs is a signature from Sean Fitzpatrick, so that the client’s plans to build a bridge between the mainland and the island can go ahead, but the landowner proves to be elusive, and most of the locals uniformly unhelpful.

Stuck on Hy Brasil, determined to complete her mission, Maeve is initially panicked at the thought of being on her own, but without the distractions of retail therapy and her busy city social life, she begins to reevaluate what she is looking for in life. O’Brien pokes fun at our modern day obsession with packaged beauty, social media and consumerism. I really liked the way in which Maeve changes through the novel, letting go of her shallow obsessions, and becoming a more confident, authentic person.

And while many of the locals, especially the elderly are distinctly unfriendly, Maeve makes some new friends including two stoner app developers, a charming gay couple and the handsome local schoolteacher, Killian. It’s not until she finally corners Sean Fitzpatrick though that she learns the secrets of Hy Brasil.

reluctantlycharmedAs in Reluctantly Charmed, O’Neill draws on the folklore of Ireland to add a touch of mysticism to this contemporary novel. Hy Brasil is an island of great, almost unspoiled, beauty, rumoured to offer you your heart’s desire, but there is an underlying atmosphere of menace that makes Maeve uneasy. The locals are secretive, bone chilling cries rent the night air, and a dark sort of energy seems to lurk unseen.

With an appealing mix of humour, intrigue and romance, this is an entertaining read. Well written, The Enchanted Island is an enchanting novel.

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A thought about: The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong


Title: The Masked Truth

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Published: Hachette Au October 2015

Status: Read from October 26 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for.
Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.
The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.
The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.
Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.

My Thoughts:

A surprising, fast paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns. This is a very different but interesting offering from an author best known for her urban fantasy titles.


The Masked Truth is available via

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A thought about: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell


Title: Carry On

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: Pan Macmillan October 2015

Status: Read from October 08 to 10, 2015 — I own a copy

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

My Thoughts:

In Rainbow Rowell’s novel Fangirl, the central protagonist, Cath, wrote fan fiction about a fictional novel with strong similarities to JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series . I have to admit I wasn’t really keen on the excerpts in the novel, but I was curious to see how Rowell turned the story into a novel. Carry On turned out to be a lot of fun, I enjoyed the characters and their adventures, and Rowell’s own twists to a very familiar story.


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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: 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

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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 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: The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns


Title: The Patterson Girls

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: Harlequin MIRA September 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from September 16 to 17, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The Patterson Girls is Rachael Johns first foray into general contemporary fiction, though she doesn’t stray far from her literary roots in rural romance.

The titular Patterson girls, obstetrician Madeleine, wife and teacher Lucy, professional violinist Abigail, and Charlotte, the self described under achiever, have come home to spend Christmas with their recently widowed father. Keenly feeling their mothers absence, none of them are surprised when he announces his plan to sell the family motel and willingly agree to help clear out their mothers things. As the sisters rummage through their mother’s keepsakes, reminiscing over old photos, fashion and jewelry, their curiosity is piqued when they discover a reference to a Patterson curse. Wheedling the details from the reluctant Aunt Mags, the particulars of the curse stuns all four sisters, and becomes a catalyst that turns the Patterson’s sisters lives upside down.

Told from the shifting third person perspectives of Madeleine, Lucy, Abigail and Charlotte, The Patterson Girls is a story of sisters, secrets, loss and love.

Vivid characterisation brings the personalities of the sisters to life. Each has distinct strengths and flaws, and are beset by their own personal challenges, from unrequited love to infertility. While I identified most closely with Charlotte, I also found Madeleine, Lucy and Abigail to be interesting and well rounded characters and I really enjoyed Johns skillful portrayal of their sisterly dynamic.

The plot blends domestic drama, romance and a hint of mystery. While it’s clear from the outset that all of the sisters are struggling in one way or another, the revelation about the Patterson curse piles on the pressure, and provokes much of the drama that follows, particularly for Madeleine, Lucy and Abigail. Charlie is finally finding her feet when a twist in the tale threatens to shatter the happiness she has forged for herself. Meanwhile, romance proves to be troublesome for all of them. While Charlie’s feelings grow for an old friend and Abigail meets the man of her dreams, Lucy’s marriage is floundering, and Madeleine’s love life grows increasingly complicated.

A well crafted, entertaining, contemporary novel with strong characters and an engaging story, The Patterson Girls should appeal to fans of Monica McIerney and Marian Keys.

Available to purchase from

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Review: The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young


Title: The Insanity of Murder { Dr Dody McCleland #4}

Author: Felicity Young

Published: HarperCollins August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 06 to 09, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I look forward to each new installment of Felicity Young’s historical mystery series featuring Dr Dody McCleland, autopsy surgeon. The Insanity of Murder is the fourth book in the series which continues to impress me with its rich period detail, strong characterisation and interesting plots.

The Insanity of Murder begins with an explosion set by the suffragette’s at London’s ‘Necropolis Railway’. With a watchman badly injured, Dody is horrified when Florence is arrested for the crime, afraid that a regime of force feeding in prison will destroy her sister. While Dodie and Pike do their best to protect Florence from the worst consequences of her behaviour, it’s the witness to the bombing that captures their attention. Initially mistaken for a vagrant, they discover the elderly woman is Lady Mary Heathridge, who has escaped from the ladies ‘rest’ home where she is confined, in search of a missing friend.

The main plot then involves Dody and Pike’s ensuing discrete investigation into The Elysium Rest Home for Gentlewomen where they suspect the attending doctor is performing illegal and possibly experimental treatments on the women entrusted to their care. Florence, benefiting from new laws regarding the incarceration of suffragettes, decides to help by getting herself sent to the home, but instead finds herself in grave danger. The plight of these women, several of whom have simply been discarded by husbands and families, is chilling, treated in horrific ways for their ‘hysterical’ behaviour.

I did feel the story was a little diluted however. Pike is distracted by his daughter, Violet, who is trying to convince her father to let her study nursing, his secret involvement in shaping a new law, and politics at play in Scotland Yard. Naturally Dodie’s main worry is for her sister, concerned by the suffragette movements increasingly violent and dangerous protests, but her relationship with Pike is also on her mind.

Still, the writing is of its usual high standard, and the pace is good. The historical detail is fascinating, of note here is the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby.

As with the previous books in the series, The Insanity of Murder is an interesting and engaging read. And I will be looking forward to the next.

Available to purchase from

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Review: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs by Matthew Dicks


Title: The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs

Author: Matthew Dicks

Published: St Martins Press September 2015

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from September 06 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy   {courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“It was that moment, that very instant, that Caroline’s idea was born. The boldest, craziest idea of her life. It wasn’t a fully formulated plan. It wasn’t even a fully formulated idea. But it was the beginning of an idea. The spark….Caroline Jacobs knew that if she didn’t act now, she never would.”

Matthew Dick’s novel, The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs, is a charming, thoughtful and funny story about a journey of self discovery as a woman confronts the demons of her past.

“Passive was the word that described Caroline best. It was almost her way of life. Avoid conflict at all costs. Be aggressively agreeable whenever possible. Fly under the radar. Don’t stir the pot. Acquiesce and move on from difficult situations as quickly as possible, preferably with a smile.”

Caroline Jacobs surprises herself, and a crowd of PTA mothers, when she reacts to a hapless mother being bullied by an overbearing PTA mom with an explosive expletive, but it sparks a fire in the usually submissive Caroline that leads her to the doorstep of her former childhood best friend turned high school tormentor. With her recalcitrant teenage daughter in tow, Caroline heads to her hometown, determined to confront Emily Kaplan and say the things she should have said in the moment that changed everything, twenty five years earlier.

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs offers an appealing mix of humour and emotional drama, exploring the themes of self discovery, friendship, bullying and fate.

“All I know is that I’m the same person I was in high school. I know a little more and I’ve done a little more, but I’m essentially the same person. I didn’t suddenly become something different when I became an adult. And part of me is the result of what happened in the cafeteria that day and all those days after. A big part.”

Like Caroline I avoid conflict whenever possible, and similarly I was betrayed by a friend in high school. Nearly thirty years later the memory still stings a little, and while I would never dream of confronting her, I admired and even understood Caroline’s decision to do so. I think the author is right in suggesting that this type of incident can have a lasting effect, and this is especially true for Caroline since the incident is linked to the tragic death of her sister.

“Mom, she was the definition of a bully. Exclusion. Isolation. Behind-the-back bullshit. I should know. My generation is the expert on bullying. It’s all we ever hear about.”

Caroline’s teenage daughter Polly is a wonderful foil to her meek mother. Though I’d personally be appalled if my daughter spoke to me in the same manner, she is wise beyond her years, and her blunt and outspoken nature is something to admire. I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between mother and daughter over the course of the novel.

Throw in a small cast of quirky supporting characters including Caroline’s mother, her blind boyfriend, Spartacus, and a man mourning his pet parrot, a road trip, a runaway and a repentant bully, and The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is a hugely enjoyable read.

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