Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

 

Title: The Big Rewind

Author: Libby Cudmore

Published: William Morrow Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 02 to 03, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t resist the premise of Libby Cudmore’s debut novel, The Big Rewind. I have a cracked vinyl case full of mix tapes, including the odd one or two given to me by ex-boyfriends that I have never been able to throw away, even though I haven’t had a working cassette player in more than a dozen years.

Wannabe music journalist Jett Bennet is rocked when she discovers the bloodied body of her neighbor and friend KitKat while dropping off a mis-delivered package containing a mix tape full of songs about love and heartbreak. Despite a lack of grounds, police suspicion falls on KitKat’s missing boyfriend Bronco, but Jett, who temps as a proofreader at a private investigation firm, speculates that the mysterious compiler of the mix tape may have motive, and with the help of her best friend, Sid, hunts for the sender.

The Big Rewind is a murder mystery and a love story. As Jett searches for the person responsible for KitKat’s murder, she reminisces about her romantic past, browsing her own collection of mix tapes from former lovers. On her mind is the one that got away -Catch, even as her feelings for best friend Sid begin to change.

“There isn’t a better feeling in the world-not an orgasm, not a first kiss, not even that glorious soaring sensation you get when those first few notes of a new song pierce your chest and fill your whole body with absolute bliss-than acknowledgement that your mix tape was not only received and played but enjoyed. It’s a dance of sorts, balancing songs you think the listener will love while trying to say everything that otherwise dries up in your throat before you can get out the words.”

I liked Jett, though given she is aged only in her mid twenties or so, her sense of nostalgia is a little excessive and her fixation on her lost loves is a little unhealthy. Her motovation for solving the murder is a little flimsy but she unpicks the mystery in a way that makes sense given her lack of experience.

The Big Rewind has a turn of the century hipster vibe what with Jett’s mentions of Trader Joe’s, French Press coffee makers, kale and pot brownies, and visits to vegan bakeries, strip joints, retro vinyl record stores, and basement clubs which is a little painful, but also kinda fun.

What I probably enjoyed most was Jett’s eclectic taste in music, dozens of songs mostly from the 1980’s are referenced throughout the novel, playing to mood and emotion.

The Big Rewind is a quick and easy read, quirky and fun.

Want a playlist to listen to while you read? You might like to start with the following songs mentioned:

Keep Me in Your Heart – Warren Zevon
What You Doing in Bombay – Tenpole Tudor
Simply – Sara Hickman
Champagne – July for Kings
Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
Pure – Lightning Seeds
The Book I Read – Talking Heads
2 became 1 – Spice Girls
All for Love – Bryan Adams
She is My Sin – Nightwish
I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers
Bury My Lovely – October Projects
Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) – John Mellencamp
Sunrise – Simply Red
Waiting for the Weekend – The Vapors

Available to purchase via

HarperCollins US I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indie Bound

via Booko

Review: Confucius Jane by Katie Lynch

 

Title: Confucius Jane

Author: Katie Lynch

Published: Forge Books Jan 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 22 to 22, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Confucius Jane is an engaging contemporary romance novel from debut author Katie Lynch.

It’s from the office window of her uncle’s fortune cookie factory that aspiring poet Jane first spies the blonde haired woman who regularly lunches at the noodle shop across the street but it’s only at the repeated urging of her 11 year old cousin Minette she finally introduces herself. Sutton St James is just weeks away from finishing her medical studies and is anxious about taking the next step in her career, she doesn’t have time for a new relationship, but is disarmed by Jane’s friendly approach.

The physical attraction between the couple is strong, illustrated by several steamy intimate scenes later on. And though they have very different backgrounds and ambitions, it is obvious as they get to know one another that Jane is the ying to Sutton’s yang.

Issues common to any relationship are explored such as trust, independence and commitment, and as expected in a romance novel, Lynch puts several obstacles in the couples path, the most challenging when Sutton is faced with a devastating family crisis. Lynch also touches on some more serious issues including medical ethics, Multiple Sclerosis and media exploitation. There is also a hint of Chinese mysticism related to the fortunes Jane writes.

Set in New York’s Chinatown, Lynch’s vivid portrayal of its community, from the people to its crowded streets and stores, are charming. Foodies will enjoy the delicious descriptions of fragrant noodles and hot Chinese dumplings, and may even be tempted to try fried chicken feet.

In general the writing is of a good standard, and I enjoyed Jane and Sutton’s flirty banter, though some of the dialogue doesn’t ring quite true, veering into cliched sentimentalism on occasion. The pacing is appropriate and the story concludes with a satisfying HEA.

Confucius Jane is the first commercial romance novel I have read featuring a lesbian relationship, and I found it to be an enjoyable read.

Available via

PanMacmillan AUS I BookDepositoryAmazon US I Indiebound

Amazon AU I Amazon UK I Booko

Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

 

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Published: Sourcebooks Landmark January 2016

Read an Extract

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

My Thoughts:
The premise of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is irresistible to any book lover.

When Sara Lindqvist arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa from Sweden in response to an invitation from her elderly penpal and fellow book lover, Amy, she is upset to learn that her host has passed away. The sensible thing would be to return home, but the townspeople are determined to honour Amy’s commitment and insist that Sara remain.
Looking to repay the towns’ kindness for the remainder of her stay, Sara casts around for an opportunity, eventually settling on the idea of opening a bookstore in one of the many empty Main Street stores using Amy’s extensive personal library. Despite the general scepticism of the townspeople, who aren’t ‘readers’, the residents rally and the bookstore, and Sara, earns a place in their hearts.

Excerpts of the letters exchanged between Amy and Sara provide background information about the town and it’s people. Broken Wheel was once a thriving farming town but in recent years has fallen victim to the economic recession. It’s remaining population is a diverse and quirky group that provides color and charm.

A romance is slowly developed between Sara and a local man, a less traditional relationship also evolves between two supporting characters. A little tension surrounds Sara’s wish to stay longer and the townspeople’s efforts to circumvent her visa conditions. It’s the ‘book talk’ that will appeal to most readers however which includes discussion about titles as diverse as Bridget Jones Diary, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Jane Eyre.

I thought the translation (from the original Swedish to English) read smoothly and the pacing was good.

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a light and pleasant read with an uplifting resolution.

To win a copy of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend from Sourcebook CLICK HERE

Available via

Sourcebooks I BookDepositoryAmazon US I Indiebound

Amazon AU I Booko

***

ReadersRecommend_logo

READERS, RECOMMEND YOUR BOOKSTORE!

Independent publisher Sourcebooks announces the “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore” campaign, which will give grant money to three nominated bookstores. The “Readers, Recommend Your Bookstore Campaign” is inspired by the phenomenal support booksellers have given The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald, which was selected as the #1 Indie Next Great Read for January 2016.

Katarina Bivald’s international bestselling debut novel, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, is a charming, big-hearted story about the joy of books and the transformative power of community bookstores.

“Bookstores are the heart and soul of their community and have enormous impact on readers’ lives,” said Dominique Raccah, founder and CEO of Sourcebooks. “The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend inspired us to create a campaign that will not only give back to a few deserving bookstores, but hopefully highlight all the many wonderful bookstores that service communities across the country.”

Anyone can nominate their favorite bookstore at http://books.sourcebooks.com/readers-recommend-your-bookstore-sweepstakes/. Sourcebooks will award the winning bookstore with a $3,000 prize; two additional bookstores will each receive a $637 prize (the population of Bivald’s fictional Broken Wheel, Iowa). In addition to bookstores receiving prizes, weekly giveaways for those who nominate will be held throughout the campaign. Voting began January 4, and runs until February 19, when the winning bookstores will be announced.

****

RBW-Blog-Tour-Graphic

 

Review: That Empty Feeling by Peter Corris

 

Title: That Empty Feeling {Cliff Hardy #41}

Author: Peter Corris

Published: Allen & Unwin January 2016

Status: Read from January 07 to 08, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

An obituary in his morning newspaper has Cliff Hardy, PI, reminiscing about a decades old case that still haunts him, in Peter Corris’s, That Empty Feeling.

A long lost heir, a federal undercover cop, and an oil scam tangle to create a mystery that pits Hardy against an old enemy, a greedy wife and corporate corruption. There is betrayal, abduction, murder, and a surprising romance. Hardy gathers evidence, chases down hunches, trades information, and occasionally explodes into violence.

The spare prose and dispiriting tone reflects the noir genre. The pace is unhurried and the reading easy.

That Empty Feeling is the 41st book to feature the iconic character of Cliff Hardy, several of which I have read over the years, and which I always enjoy.

Available via

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


Review: A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

Title: A Window Opens

Author: Elisabeth Egan

Published: Simon & Schuster AU January 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 03 to 07, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan explores the myth that women can ‘have it all’.

Alice Pearse has a part time job she loves, reviewing books for a magazine, which allows her to spend plenty of time with her three children but when her husband announces he has quit his job Alice is forced to find full time work. An exciting opportunity with a start up company seems to present the ideal solution but as the demands of her new job begin to overwhelm her family life, Alice is left off-balance.

Suddenly finding herself with a lot on her plate… a mercurial boss, tension in her marriage, and her father’s harrowing ill-health, Alice struggles to cope with the stress. There were lots of things I could broadly relate to in regards to Alice’s new challenges, however it’s an upper middle class, and rather clichéd, perspective of the struggle to find a work/life balance.

The most affecting scenes in the novel involved Alice’s father decline due to a recurrence of cancer. I enjoyed Egan’s send up of ‘Scroll’, (though I have to admit I admired the original concept), I can’t abide the idea of submitting to all that corporate craziness. Book lovers will enjoy the literary references sprinkled among the pages.

A Window Opens was a quick and easy read, well written, but not one I found particularly original or memorable in terms of plot or character.

Available via

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

Amazon US I Book Depository

REview: The Near Miss by Fran Cusworth

 

Title: The Near Miss

Author: Fran Cusworth

Published: Harper Collins AU November 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from November 30 to December 02, 2015   – I own a copy

Grace, hardworking and tired, wants another baby. But she’s dealing with debt, a manic 4-year-old and a jobless husband determined to make his inventions into reality. Can they both get their way, or will competing dreams tear their marriage apart?
Eddy analyses risk for a living, but his insecurities have brought his own life to a halt. He won’t let go of the flighty, unfaithful Romy, but will he ever risk believing in himself?
Melody is trying to raise her son Skip in the city while holding true to her hippie lifestyle. But will past mistakes and judgement from other parents force her to leave her beliefs behind?
This is a story about real life aspirations, and whether you can chase your dreams at the same time as raising children and paying the bills. It’s about friendship, and how the people you meet in a moment can change your life forever.”

My Thoughts:

Review to come

Available via

Harper Collins AU I HarperCollins US

Amazon AU I Amazon US I Amazon UK

A thought about: Smoke by Catherine McKenzie

 

Title: Smoke

Author: Catherine McKenzie

Published: Lake Union Publishing October 2015

Status: Read from October 30 to 31, 2015 — I own a copy

From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.
After a decadelong career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.
For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.
As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

My Thoughts:

An engaging novel that combines domestic drama, mystery and action. The writing is solid and the setting is strong.

Available to purchase via

Amazon US I Amazon CA I Amazon UK I Amazon AU

A thought about: A Better Man by Leah McLaren

 

Title: A Better Man

Author: Leah McLaren

Published: Corvus: Allen & Unwin October 2015

Status: Read from October 06 to 08, 2015 — I own a copy

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.

My Thoughts:

McLaren offers plenty of emotional drama and touches of humour in A Better Man. She makes some astute observations about marriage and parenthood, but generally the story offers a quite cynical view of domesticity.

 

A Better Man is available via

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

Amazon US I Amazon UK I BookDepository

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: 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

aww-badge-2015

 

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,143 other followers