Book Haul – July 2021

Hey book nerds!

This month I’ve been going back to some of my early NetGalley approvals to try to increase my feedback ratio and finally give feedback to the publishers who gave me a chance when I was just starting out in the reviewing world. Back in the early days I was so excited about the idea of reviewing that I gave little thought to how many books I could get through in a reasonable time. It feels good to be chipping away at some books I’ve wanted to read for years.

I’m also looking forward to some future reads. In particular, I can’t wait to read my first Stephen Graham Jones book.

I’m currently keeping the people I know in Sydney in my thoughts as they face at least another four weeks in lockdown. I know some really incredible people who are all doing the right thing, like most people, but whose efforts are being undermined by the minority. My heart hurts for them.

I’d also like to personally thank our premier, Gladys, for the cancellation of my COVID vaccination appointments, which I’ve been waiting for for two months. There are plenty of angry people in regional NSW today; our vaccines are being given to Sydney Year 12 students. I could rant about how if the powers that be had acted decisively at the very beginning of this current outbreak, we would not be in this position now. But NSW doesn’t have Victoria’s premier … and that has made all the difference.

I found this YouTube video today that explains the situation here in Australia perfectly. Heads up: there’s plenty of swearing. It’s too good not to share, though.

Until next month, happy reading!

July Reads


Book Mail

A hilarious new adventure from the mega-bestselling author of Wolf Girl and Ninja Kid.

Hi there! I’m Pow Pow Pig!

Me and my friends didn’t make the A team … or the B team … or the C, D or E teams ….

We made the Z team!

How are we going to save the world when we were the last ones picked?!


Young reporter-in-training Kate and her mouse-accomplice Rupert are on board a train, to visit Kate’s mum in the Arctic.

But as soon as the train departs, mysterious things start happening.

A packet of ginger nuts goes missing…
A collection of gymnastics trophies are stolen…
And some ancient scrolls disappear…

Fellow passenger Madame Maude seems the most likely culprit, until a surprising – and delicious – twist turns the whole investigation on its head.


Come with Ollie and Bea on a HARE-raising adventure with a HOPPY ending!

Ollie is an owl who wears glasses. And Bea is a bunny with very big feet. They don’t know it yet, but they are about to be best friends. Can they help each other to find their OTTER-LY awesome inner superhero?

Join Ollie and Bea in this charming, funny, cute story about the joys of making friends and having fun. The perfect book for young readers who love to laugh. 


Q. What’s the hardest part of learning to skate?
A. THE GROUND!

Ollie is having a HOOT on his rollerskates, but Bea is full of excuses for why she can’t join in. Will she realise that sometimes it’s okay to look silly, and that real friends don’t CARROT all if you have very big feet?

Ollie and Bea continue to charm in this super-cute series about the joys of friends and fun and lots of puns. The perfect book for young readers who love to laugh.


NetGalley

How do you survive hearing your family being brutally murdered over the phone? For Father Raul Figeuroa, all faith and hope are lost. Turning away from the priesthood behind, he retreats to his aunt’s empty farmhouse in upstate New York, hoping to drink himself to oblivion. But he’s not alone in the house. Something is trying to reach out to him. Or is he losing his grip on reality? When his childhood friend Felix comes to visit, things take a darker turn. The deeper they dig into the mystery, the closer they get to hell literally breaking loose. 


They thought the island was the end. It was only the beginning…

Having survived the horrors of Savage Island, Grady is now stuck working for Gold, the psychopath who masterminded the gruesome competition. Sent on a “team-building exercise” in a remote castle, he starts to plot his escape.

Ben and Lizzie are in hiding, presumed dead after escaping the island. If they’re ever to return to their families, they need to bring Gold down. So they secretly join Grady in the castle. But as the doors slam shut and the series of deadly challenges between them and freedom are revealed, it looks like history is going to repeat itself…


A collection of new and exclusive short stories inspired by, and in tribute to, Shirley Jackson.

Shirley Jackson is a seminal writer of horror and mystery fiction, whose legacy resonates globally today. Chilling, human, poignant and strange, her stories have inspired a generation of writers and readers.

This anthology, edited by legendary horror editor Ellen Datlow, will bring together today’s leading horror writers to offer their own personal tribute to the work of Shirley Jackson.

Featuring Joyce Carol Oates, Josh Malerman, Paul Tremblay, Richard Kadrey, Stephen Graham Jones, Elizabeth Hand, Cassandra Khaw, Karen Heuler, Benjamin Percy, John Langan, Laird Barron, M. Rickert, Seanan McGuire, and Genevieve Valentine.


When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath their school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He’ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent.

Forced to work together, Tess and Eliot have to find a way to re-trap the devil before he kills everyone they know and love, including, increasingly, each other. And compared to what the devil has in store for them, school stress suddenly doesn’t seem so bad after all.


Jade is one class away from graduating high school, but that’s one class she keeps failing local history. Dragged down by her past, her father and being an outsider, she’s composing her epic essay series to save her high school diploma.

Jade’s topic? The unifying theory of slasher films. In her rapidly gentrifying rural lake town, Jade sees the pattern in recent events that only her encyclopaedic knowledge of horror cinema could have prepared her for. And with the arrival of the Final Girl, Letha Mondragon, she’s convinced an irreversible sequence of events has been set into motion.

As tourists start to go missing, and the tension grows between her community and the celebrity newcomers building their mansions the other side of the Indian Lake, Jade prepares for the killer to rise. She dives deep into the town’s history, the tragic deaths that occurred at camp years ago, the missing tourists no one is even sure exist, and the murders starting to happen, searching for the answer.

As the small and peaceful town heads towards catastrophe, it all must come to a head on 4th July, when the town all gathers on the water, where luxury yachts compete with canoes and inflatables, and the final showdown between rich and poor, past and present, townsfolk and celebrities slasher and Final Girl.


I never wanted to be a vampire queen.

But on the bright (if not sunny) side of the debacle, I’ve got a super-hot new boyfriend. And he just might be the perfect guy.

Well, if the perfect guy ghosts you for a month and then comes back to school with a new look, a pack of friends, and a secret. But we have bigger problems.

The Drainers are back. They’re singing a different song, but have they really changed?

Even worse, werewolves’ hearts are being ripped from their bodies – which is putting the people I love in danger. I need to figure out who is behind the murders before there’s an all-out vampire-werewolf war.

No one is going to mess with my friends, even the ones who like to get wild and howl at the moon.

Sometimes, all a girl can do is grab her tiara and start kicking some supernatural ass… 


Book Haul – June 2021

Hey book nerds!

Last month I was waiting for the burrowing owl chicks at San Diego Zoo to hatch. They finally did and all seven chicks survived! They’re absolutely adorable and they’ve grown so much already. I love the little guy yawning in this screenshot.

I’ve been at the beach most days watching the whales migrate north. It’s been a fantastic season; sometimes I’ve seen twenty whales in about an hour. There’s been plenty of blows (puffs of water that look like smoke), as well as tail and fin slaps. I’ve even managed to see some really impressive breaches. It’s been magical.

On my walks along the beach I’ve also spotted some dolphins. Usually I only get to walk with them for a few steps before they speed off but one time this month my mother and I got to walk with a pod of about a dozen dolphins for 2km (1.24 miles) along the beach. They were quite close to the shore and were catching waves and jumping out the water. Now I look for them every time I’m there.

This month I acquired a new obsession: panoramic photos. There have been so many gorgeous winter days, with amazing clouds, that I can’t help myself.

Bookish Highlight of the Month: I have two highlights this month. My favourite fiction read was Grady Hendrix’s The Final Girl Support Group. I’ll be telling you all about my love of this book and all things horror tomorrow. My favourite non-fiction read, which I read back in March but was released this month, was Kate Moore’s The Woman They Could Not Silence. I’m still thinking about Elizabeth Packard three months after finishing this book.

Until next month, happy reading!

June Reads


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

In the iconic film by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, teenaged Marty McFly travels back in time from the 1980s to the 1950s, changing the path of his parents’ destiny … as well as his own. Now fans of the movie can journey back even further – to the 16th century, when the Bard of Avon unveils his latest masterpiece: William Shakespeare’s Get Thee Back to the Future!

Every scene and line of dialogue from the hit movie is re-created with authentic Shakespearean rhyme, meter, and stage directions. This reimagining also includes jokes and Easter eggs for movie fans, from Huey Lewis call-outs to the inner thoughts of Einstein (the dog). By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be convinced that Shakespeare had a time-traveling DeLorean of his own, speeding to our era so he could pen this time-tossed tale.


NetGalley

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other actual final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realised – someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.


A Little Bit Different is a light and fun story depicting the journey from ignorance to acceptance and celebration.

Meet the ploofers. The ploofers have been practicing something special which they all want to do at the exact same time – but wait! What’s that? One of them does something different! When one little ploofer goes against the usual flow of things, the rest of them turn their backs on him. But all it takes is for one person to recognise the beauty in being different to spark a change in attitude of everyone.

With simple, yet striking, illustrations and a cutaway cover design that adds tactile interest, A Little Bit Different is a joyful reading experience for both you and your child, providing the opportunity to spark more meaningful discussions about people’s differences and how we accept and value them.


In this follow-up to the beloved picture book A Little Bit Different, the Ploofers are back for a heartwarming exploration of fear and finding courage.

The Ploofers have just learned a valuable lesson in celebrating differences and trying new things. They’ve been practicing something very special again and this time it requires extra teamwork… But Little One is too scared to go on this new adventure. Will some kind and encouraging words from Toasty help him find a little bit of courage?

With simple, striking illustrations and a cutaway cover design that adds tactile interest, A Little Bit of Courage picks up right where A Little Bit Different left off. With a subtle yet powerful message on overcoming anxiety and finding the courage to live life to its fullest, this book will resonate with children and adults alike.


Book Haul – May 2021

Hey book nerds!

I blew my budget (and then some) preordering two signed books so my haul is itty-bitty this month. My only other find was a freebie – gotta love freebies!

Mitch Cox from Byron Bay took the best super blood moon photo. I found it here.

I was doing really well, getting ahead on some ARC’s early in the month but then reality came calling. A bunch of paperwork needed to be done and now I’ve entered a reading slump. I’m hoping to rectify that next month.

I did manage to watch the super blood moon. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to see an entire lunar eclipse before. For some reason, it’s usually cloudy where I am whenever something like this happens so I have to watch online. Not this time! I had the perfect view over the channel. It helped that I had good company, good coffee and a yummy cinnamon scroll donut to enjoy as well.

2020 gave me one really good thing: the ability to hang out (virtually, of course) with some of the animals at San Diego Zoo via their live cams. I became slightly obsessed with watching the burrowing owls raise their babies. I’ve been checking in with the adults off and on for the past couple of months but then forgot all about them. I checked again this week on a whim and there are seven eggs in the burrow!

It’s safe to say that my obsession has been rekindled and I’m checking in all the time, hoping I’ll get to see them hatch. If you want to wait with me, here’s the link.

Bookish Highlight of the Month: The Madman’s Library. As if my TBR pile wasn’t already preparing to crush me… There are so many weird and wonderful finds in this book, from teensy tiny books to those written in blood. I definitely want to reread this one.

Until next month, happy reading!

May Reads


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The cleric Chih finds themself and their companions at the mercy of a band of fierce tigers who ache with hunger. To stay alive until the mammoths can save them, Chih must unwind the intricate, layered story of the tiger and her scholar lover – a woman of courage, intelligence, and beauty – and discover how truth can survive becoming history.

Nghi Vo returns to the empire of Ahn and The Singing Hills Cycle in this mesmerizing, lush standalone follow-up to The Empress of Salt and Fortune.


Preorders

We think we understand the laws of physics. We think reality is an immutable monolith, consistent from one end of the universe to the next. We think the square/cube law has actual relevance.

We think a lot of things. It was perhaps inevitable that some of them would turn out to be wrong. 

When the great incursion occurred, no one was prepared. How could they have been? Of all the things physicists had predicted, “the fabric of reality might rip open and giant monsters could come pouring through” had not made the list. But somehow, on a fine morning in May, that was precisely what happened.

For sisters Susan and Katharine Black, the day of the incursion was the day they lost everything. Their home, their parents, their sense of normalcy… and each other, because when the rift opened, Susan was on one side and Katharine was on the other, and each sister was stranded in a separate form of reality. For Susan, it was science and study and the struggle to solve the mystery of the altered physics inside the zones transformed by the incursion. For Katharine, it was monsters and mayhem and the fight to stay alive in a world unlike the world of her birth.

The world has changed. The laws of physics have changed. The girls have changed. And the one universal truth of all states of changed matter is that nothing can be completely restored to what it was originally, no matter how much you might wish it could be.

Nothing goes back.


‘It’s the first time I’ve done this. Other people have written about me – or for me – but this time it’s just my own life in my own words’

In his first full-length autobiography, comedy legend and national treasure Billy Connolly reveals the truth behind his windswept and interesting life.

Born in a tenement flat in Glasgow in 1942, orphaned by the age of 4, and a survivor of appalling abuse at the hands of his own family, Billy’s life is a remarkable story of success against all the odds.

Billy found his escape first as an apprentice welder in the shipyards of the River Clyde. Later he became a folk musician – a ‘rambling man’ – with a genuine talent for playing the banjo. But it was his ability to spin stories, tell jokes and hold an audience in the palm of his hand that truly set him apart. 

As a young comedian Billy broke all the rules. He was fearless and outspoken – willing to call out hypocrisy wherever he saw it. But his stand-up was full of warmth, humility and silliness too. His startling, hairy ‘glam-rock’ stage appearance – wearing leotards, scissor suits and banana boots – only added to his appeal.

It was an appearance on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in 1975 – and one outrageous story in particular – that catapulted Billy from cult hero to national star. TV shows, documentaries, international fame and award-winning Hollywood movies followed. Billy’s pitch-perfect stand-up comedy kept coming too – for over 50 years, in fact – until a double diagnosis of cancer and Parkinson’s Disease brought his remarkable live performances to an end. Since then he has continued making TV shows, creating extraordinary drawings… and writing.

Windswept and Interesting is Billy’s story in his own words. It is joyfully funny – stuffed full of hard-earned wisdom as well as countless digressions on fishing, farting and the joys of dancing naked. It is an unforgettable, life-affirming story of a true comedy legend.

‘I didn’t know I was Windswept and Interesting until somebody told me. It was a friend who was startlingly exotic himself. He’d just come back from Kashmir and was all billowy shirt and Indian beads. I had long hair and a beard and was swishing around in electric blue flairs.

He said: “Look at you – all windswept and interesting!”

I just said: “Exactly!”

After that, I simply had to maintain my reputation…’


Book Haul – April 2021

Hey book nerds!

Today is my blog-aversary! A year ago today I pressed the ‘live’ button and I can’t believe how much fun this past year has been. Reading books I love and rambling about them are what I live for. Thank you so much for spending some of your precious time with me.

Bookish Highlights of the Month: This month I have two.

What Happened to You? – Dr Perry and Oprah discuss trauma, resilience and healing. I got so much out of this book. It was one of those miraculous right book at the right time reads. What’s possibly even better than learning so much is that I’ve actually been able to apply what I’ve learned to my life.

Amari and the Night Brothers – I love Amari! This is the first book in a series and I broke my self imposed ban on buying physical books because of it. The world building, the characters and the magic are brilliant. I even have favourite elevators. I’ve recommended this one to so many people already.

Until next month, happy reading!

April Reads


Book Mail

Princess Ellie loves playing sports, but she has a little problem … nobody seems to think that her sporty interests are very princess-like!

When disaster strikes the kingdom, Princess Ellie sets out to prove that princesses definitely wear sneakers.


Quinton Peters was the golden boy of the Rosewood low-income housing projects, receiving full scholarship offers to two different Ivy League schools. When he mysteriously goes missing, his little sister, 13-year-old Amari Peters, can’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal. Why isn’t his story all over the news? And why do the police automatically assume he was into something illegal? 

Then Amari discovers a ticking briefcase in her brother’s old closet. A briefcase meant for her eyes only. There was far more to Quinton, it seems, than she ever knew. He’s left her a nomination for a summer tryout at the secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Amari is certain the answer to finding out what happened to him lies somewhere inside, if only she can get her head around the idea of mermaids, dwarves, yetis and magicians all being real things, something she has to instantly confront when she is given a weredragon as a roommate. 

Amari must compete against some of the nation’s wealthiest kids – who’ve known about the supernatural world their whole lives and are able to easily answer questions like which two Great Beasts reside in the Atlantic Ocean and how old is Merlin? Just getting around the Bureau is a lesson alone for Amari with signs like ‘Department of Hidden Places this way, or is it?’ If that all wasn’t enough, every Bureau trainee has a talent enhanced to supernatural levels to help them do their jobs – but Amari is given an illegal ability. As if she needed something else to make her stand out. 

With an evil magican threatening the whole supernatural world, and her own classmates thinking she is an enemy, Amari has never felt more alone. But if she doesn’t pass the three tryouts, she may never find out what happened to Quinton. 


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Raymie Clarke has come to realise that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie’s picture in the paper and (maybe) come home.

To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship – and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.


Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’…

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…


NetGalley

In a near future where a series of environmental disasters has left much of the country underwater, Pearl lives on a floating oyster farm with her father and younger sister, Clover. Following her mum’s death several years earlier, Pearl refuses to set foot on land, believing her illness was caused by the poisons in the ground. Meanwhile, Clover dreams of school, friends and a normal life.

Then Nat comes to spend the summer at the sea farm while his scientist mum conducts some experiments. Leaving behind the mainland, with its strict rules and regulations, he brings with him a secret. But when the sisters promise to keep his secret safe, little do they realise that they may be risking everything… 


Who said friends have to match to matter?

When the Star Boy’s space-pod crashes in the grounds of Fairfield Academy he knows he must seek shelter. Taking refuge in the school’s boiler room to await rescue he discovers that the room’s small window is the perfect place to watch humans go by.

The Star Boy knows about humans from his Earth lessons but no one from his planet has ever studied them up close. Now he has the perfect opportunity. There are two humans in particular that catch his attention – a boy called Wes and a girl named Kiki. But as his curiosity grows so does his courage and, making a momentous decision, the Star Boy follows Wes and Kiki into class … and into their lives.


Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.


Through wide-ranging, and often deeply personal conversation, Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Perry explore how what happens to us in early childhood – both good and bad – influences the people we become. They challenge us to shift from focusing on, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ or “Why are you behaving that way?,” to asking, ‘What happened to you?’ This simple change in perspective can open up a new and hopeful understanding for millions about why we do the things we do, why we are the way we are, providing a road map for repairing relationships, overcoming what seems insurmountable, and ultimately living better and more fulfilling lives.

Many of us experience adversity and trauma during childhood that has lasting impact on our physical and emotional health. And as we’re beginning to understand, we are more sensitive to developmental trauma as children than we are as adults. ‘What happened to us’ in childhood is a powerful predictor of our risk for physical and mental health problems down the road, and offers scientific insights in to the patterns of behaviours so many struggle to understand.

A survivor of multiple childhood challenges herself, Oprah Winfrey shares portions of her own harrowing experiences because she understands the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma at a young age. Throughout her career, Oprah has teamed up with Dr. Bruce Perry, one of the world’s leading experts on childhood trauma. He has treated thousands of children, youth, and adults and has been called on for decades to support individuals and communities following high-profile traumatic events. Now, Oprah joins forces with Dr. Perry to marry the power of storytelling with the science and clinical experience to better understand and overcome the effects of trauma.

In conversation throughout the book, the two focus on understanding people, behaviour, and ourselves in the context of personal experiences. They remove blame and self-shaming, and open up a space for healing and understanding. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future – opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.

Grounded in the latest brain science and brought to life through compelling narratives, this book shines a light on a much-needed path to recovery – showing us our incredible capacity to transform after adversity.


Sixteen-year-old Jackie Chavez loves her local amusement park, Kingdom Adventure, maybe more than anything else in the world. The park is all she and her friends Nikki, Daniel, and Berke – although they aren’t always the greatest friends – talk about. Kingdom Adventure is where all Jackie’s best memories are, and it’s where she feels safe and happy. This carries even more weight now that Jackie’s parents have been deported and forced to go back to Mexico, leaving Jackie in the United States with her Tía Gina, who she works with at the Valley Care Living seniors’ home. When Gina tells Jackie that they can’t afford a season pass for next summer, Jackie is crushed. But on her next trip to Kingdom Adventure, she discovers strictly protected company secret: If someone dies at the park, their family gets free lifetime passes.

Jackie and her friends hatch a plot to bring seniors from Valley Care Living to the park using a fake volunteer program, with the hopes that one of the residents will croak during their visit. The ruse quickly gets its first volunteer – a feisty resident named Phyllis.

What starts off as a macabre plan turns into a revelation for Jackie as Phyllis and the other seniors reveal their own complex histories and connections to Kingdom Adventure, as well as some tough-to-swallow truths about Jackie, her friends, and their future.

With artist Claudia Aguirre, Terry Blas has crafted a graphic novel that is dark and deeply moving. This book is Cocoon meets Heathers – a twisted satire about a magical land and the people who love it, even to the point of obsession. Jackie’s summer is about to turn into a wild ride filled with gallows humour, friendship, and fun – or is it?


A madcap adventure starring a bandit family, a LOT of sweets and a girl who is ready for anything… 

Maisie is convinced her summer holiday is going to be as boring as ever – until she’s snatched by the Robbersons, a bunch of bandits with an insatiable appetite for sweets! Soon Maisie realises that life on the open road with the Robbersons is just the adventure she has always longed for. They’ve even started to see her as one of the gang! So when she discovers that the police and her parents are hot on their trail, Maisie decides she isn’t quite ready to be rescued…


A Monster Calls meets The Shining in this haunting YA dark fantasy about a monster that breaks free from a story into the real world.

Sean hasn’t been able to speak a word since he was put into care, and is sent to live with his grandad, a retired author whom he has never met before. Suddenly living an affluent life, nothing like the world of the estate he grew up in, where gangs run the streets and violence is around every corner, Sean spends his time drawing, sculpting and reading his grandad’s stories. 

But his grandad has secrets of his own in his past. As he retreats to the shed, half-buried in his treasured garden, Sean finds one of his stories about ‘The Baku’, a creature that eats the fears of children. 

Plagued by nightmares, with darkness spreading through the house, Sean must finally face the truth if he’s to have a chance to free himself and his grandfather from the grip of the Baku.


Book Haul – March 2021

Hey book nerds!

This month I’ve read a whole bunch of children’s books. I don’t know about you but when my life gets super stressful, one of my favourite things to do is get into picture books and other children’s books that don’t have a great deal of serious content. It’s one of my main self care activities; there’s something about the innocence you find inside their pages that makes life feel much more manageable for me when things are overwhelming.

I finally binged the Friday Barnes series, something that’s been on my to do list for a number of years. Although I had a lot of fun with books whose audience is under 10, my Bookish Highlight of the Month was a YA read, The Girls I’ve Been. Millie Bobby Brown has been cast as the lead in the movie and even though I haven’t found a release date for it, I already can’t wait to see it. There’s plenty of action in the book and I loved the main character as well as her friends and sister. The backstories of everyone grabbed me and I found it a compulsive read, one that I definitely want to revisit. There are some content warnings within my review, as well as a link to the author’s site (they provide a more comprehensive list).

Happy reading!

March Reads


Book Mail

The elegant Miss Phryne Fisher returns in this scintillating collection, featuring four brand-new stories.

The Honourable Phryne Fisher – she of the Lulu bob, Cupid’s Bow lips, diamante garters and pearl-handled pistol – is the 1920s’ most elegant and irrepressible sleuth.

Miss Phryne Fisher is up to her stunning green eyes in intriguing crime in each of these entertaining, fun and compulsively readable stories. With the ever-loyal Dot, the ingenious Mr Butler and all of Phryne’s friends and household, the action is as fast as Phryne’s wit and logic.


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Imagine if Sherlock Holmes was an eleven-year-old girl! 

When girl detective Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery she uses the reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country, Highcrest Academy.

On arrival, Friday is shocked to discover the respectable school is actually a hotbed of crime. She’s soon investigating everything from disappearing homework to the Yeti running around the school swamp. That’s when she’s not dealing with her own problem – Ian Wainscott, the handsomest boy in school, who inexplicably hates Friday and loves nasty pranks.

Can Friday solve Highcrest Academy’s many strange mysteries, including the biggest mystery of all – what’s the point of high school? 


What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does. She will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honoured title: sacrifice. On the day of her foretold death, however, a powerful mage offers her a new fate.

Csorwe leaves her home, her destiny, and her god to become the wizard’s loyal sword-hand – stealing, spying, and killing to help him reclaim his seat of power in the homeland from which he was exiled.

But Csorwe and the wizard will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.


NetGalley

When your best friend is a unicorn, every day is a stroll down the red carpet. Phoebe Howell’s unicorn BFF, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, is happy to provide the celebrity treatment – teaching Phoebe fancy new spells, giving her a ride to school so she doesn’t have to ride the bus, and even negotiating with the tooth fairy on her behalf.

But when Phoebe starts noticing that unicorns have become a trendy fashion statement, she doesn’t feel quite so unique. Fortunately, she’s distracted by adventures including a visit to the unicorn community and a trip to the woods to see her friend Dakota receive an unusual honour at the goblin award ceremony. Unicorn Famous is filled with amusing examples of the extraordinary lengths friends will go to make each other feel special. 


Best-selling author Jerry Pallotta takes a peek at eyes from across the animal kingdom in this hilarious and fact-packed alphabet book.

The eyes have it! Laugh as you learn by staring right into the eyes of familiar animals (is for alligator eye) and not-so-familiar ones (is for zebu eye!). Readers of all ages will be entertained with every page turn. Language learning bonus: each page defines an idiom that includes the word “eye”!


When Batman and Mystery Inc. arrive at the same farm outside of Gotham City, they soon find themselves in for the fright of their lives! Every time an eerie fog rolls in, fearsome farm monsters come out to play. Can the Caped Crusader help Scooby and the gang crack this case of cursed cropland before the creepy creatures carry them away?


There is always hope, even when we cannot seem to seek it within ourselves.

From the best advice you’ll ever get to the joy of crisps, the 101 brilliant contributors to The Book of Hope will help you to find hope whenever you need it most. Award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, MBE, and co-editor Britt Pflüger bring together people from all walks of life – actors, musicians, athletes, psychologists and activists – to share what gives them hope.

These 101 key voices in the field of mental health, from the likes of Lemn Sissay, Dame Kelly Holmes, Frank Turner and Zoe Sugg, to Joe Tracini, Elizabeth Day, Hussain Manawer and Joe Wicks, share not only their experiences with anxiety, psychosis, panic attacks and more, but also what helps them when they are feeling low. This joyful collection is a supportive hand to anyone looking to find light on a dark day and shows that, no matter what you may be going through, you are not alone.


Green-growing secrets and powerful magic await you at Misselthwaite Manor, now reimagined in this bewitching graphic novel adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved tale. From Mariah Marsden, author of the critically acclaimed Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, comes the second installment in this series of retold children’s classics. 

Ten-year-old Mary Lennox arrives at a secluded estate on the Yorkshire moors with a scowl and a chip on her shoulder. First, there’s Martha Sowerby: the too-cheery maid with bothersome questions who seems out of place in the dreary manor. Then there’s the elusive Uncle Craven, Mary’s only remaining family – whom she’s not permitted to see. And finally, there are the mysteries that seem to haunt the run-down place: rumors of a lost garden with a tragic past, and a midnight wail that echoes across the moors at night. 

As Mary begins to explore this new world alongside her ragtag companions – a cocky robin redbreast, a sour-faced gardener, and a boy who can talk to animals – she learns that even the loneliest of hearts can grow roots in rocky soil.

Given new life as a graphic novel in illustrator Hanna Luechtefeld’s whimsical style, The Secret Garden is more enchanting and relevant than ever before. 


The circus has seen better days, but for Bastjan it’s home. He will do anything he can to save it, even if it means participating in a death-defying new act. But when that fails to draw in the crowds, the ringmaster makes a deal with a mysterious man by the name of Dr Bauer.

In exchange for his help, Bauer wants a box that belonged to Bastjan’s mother and came from her birthplace – the faraway island of Melita. Bastjan is desperate to keep his only memento of his mother out of Bauer’s hands. And as he uncovers more about the strange objects contained within, he realises it’s not only the circus that’s in terrible danger…


‘I got this whole-body feeling … it was like a message from future me to present me, telling me that in some way we weren’t just bound to happen, that we had, in some sense, already happened. It felt … inevitable.’

So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein. While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.

And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?


A poignant, funny, personal exploration of authenticity in work and life by a woman doctor.

In 2017, Dr. Suzanne Koven published an essay describing the challenges faced by women doctors, including her own personal struggle with “imposter syndrome” – a long-held, secret belief that she was not smart enough or good enough to be a “real” doctor. Accessed nearly 300,000 times by readers around the world, Koven’s “Letter to a Young Female Physician” has evolved into a work that reflects on her career in medicine, in which women still encounter sexism, pay inequity, and harassment.

Koven tells engaging stories about her pregnancy during a grueling residency in the AIDS era; the illnesses of her son and parents during which her roles as a doctor, mother, and daughter converged; and the twilight of her career during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Letter to a Young Female Physician offers an indelible eyewitness account from a doctor, mother, wife, daughter, teacher, and writer that will encourage readers to embrace their own imperfect selves.


The final book in the acclaimed Darkwood trilogy – a modern fairy tale series to bewitch grown-up fans of Terry Pratchett and younger readers alike.

The tyrannous Huntsmen have declared everyone in one village to be outlaws, since they insist on supporting the magical beings of neighbouring Darkwood. Why won’t they accept that magic is an abomination?

Far from being abominable, the residents of Darkwood are actually very nice when you get to know them, even Snow the White Knight, who can get a bit tetchy when people remind her she’s a Princess.

In order to stop the Huntsmen from wiping out all magical beings, Snow and her friends have to venture into the Badlands of Ashtrie, and seek the support of the Glass Witch – but she has plans of her own, and let’s just say they’re not good ones.


When dreams start bleeding into reality, a social worker is forced to face the mistakes of his past.

A serial killer has found a way to make his land of graveyards a sinister playground to be bent at his sadistic will.

The secrets behind August’s eyes will bring two worlds together, and end in a cataclysm of pain and ruin.


Sasha has one speed – fast. She loves to do lots of things, all at once, as fast as possible. Mr. Sloth has one speed – slow. He loves to do things one at a time, at a nice, easy pace. Can Mr. Sloth’s mindful ways teach Sasha to slow down and enjoy life?

Best-selling author Katy Hudson gently weaves a mindfulness theme into this unlikely friendship tale between an energetic girl and a sloth, encouraging children to stop, breathe, and be present in every moment. 


There is no better place in the world than a library. Especially a library that kids create! A million stories high? Sure. Bathtubs? Absolutely. A full-service sundae bar? Of course. Everything is possible in this library – just like in books! 


Halloween is time to pick pumpkins and carve them into pumpkin heads – jack-o’-lanterns of every shape and size!

Award-winning author and artist Wendell Minor uses simple language and striking autumn settings to celebrate pumpkin heads in this reissue of a Halloween classic.


Prepare for a different kind of bedtime book – a zany, imaginative adventure to send your little froggies off to dreamland. Not since David Weisner’s Tuesday have frogs had so much fun!

Why go to bed when you can play the accordion, dance underwater ballet, and hold burping contests with strange alien lifeforms? For every kid who ever came up with an outlandish excuse for why it can’t be bedtime yet, these froggies’ antics will delight and entertain. Acclaimed illustrator Adam Gustavson’s raucous authorial debut shows parents there’s more than one way to do bedtime.


Stranger Things meets The X-Files in this heart-racing conspiracy thriller as a lonely young woman teams up with a group of fellow outcasts to survive the night in a town overcome by a science experiment gone wrong.

Something sinister lurks beneath the sleepy tourist town of Turner Falls nestled in the hills of central Oregon. A growing spate of mysterious disappearances and frenzied outbursts threaten the town’s idyllic reputation until an inexplicable epidemic of violence spills out over the unsuspecting city.

When the teenage children of several executives from the local biotech firm become ill and hyper-aggressive, the strange signal they can hear starts to spread from person to person, sending anyone who hears it into a murderous rage. Lucy and her outcast friends must fight to survive the night and get the hell out of town, before the loop gets them too.


Book Haul – February 2021

Hey book nerds!

I hope you’ve had a wonderful month. There’s been a lot of rainy days in my neck of the woods so there have been plenty of excuses to stay inside and read. February gifted me three bookish highlights.

Mort the Meek and the Ravens’ Revenge, the first book in a series, will be released in March. Mort is Brutalia’s new Royal Executioner. This is a problem because Mort is a pacifist. The bigger problem is that the first person Mort is supposed to execute is his best friend.

Lonely Castle in the Mirror is the latest in a growing list of translated books that I’ve loved. A group of teenagers who no longer attend school go through their mirrors, wind up in a castle that looks like it belongs in a fairytale and meet the Wolf Queen.

The Haunting of Aveline Jones is also the first book in a series. I got all grabby when I saw its gorgeous cover at the library. There’s creepy childlike scarecrows, a secondhand bookstore and a mystery to be solved.

February Reads


Book Mail

It’s two years later …

Friday steps out of prison, a shell of her former self. She’s still wearing the same brown cardigan, but she swears she’s never solving mysteries again! Who is Friday kidding? She can’t suppress her brilliant deductive mind and is soon drawn back into the intrigues of Highcrest Academy.

Then Uncle Bernie rings, pleading with Friday to fly to Italy and help him protect the Uffizi Gallery from a team of art thieves – and she can’t say ‘no’ to family. Even if it means travelling to the city where Ian, her nemesis/ex-boyfriend is living.

Will Friday be able to protect Italy’s finest artworks? Will Melanie stay awake long enough to help her? And will Ian still be as gorgeous as a Greek god and twice as annoying? 


The king of beasts and the lord of birds, together once more,

will know a third companion, as the days grow dim. 

The Unicorn, the Minotaur and the Griffin are united at last. Surely together they will be unstoppable!

But the Collector is not going to give up without an epic fight, and not all the beasts of legend are on the side of good …

Have Kelly, Minh and Jimmy met their match? Will the prophecy fail just when it looks most like coming true?


Take a journey through the oceans of the world in this beautiful book, made entirely from hand-pressed plants.

Artist Helen Ahpornsiri transforms silky seaweeds, feathery algae and bright coastal blooms into playful penguins, scuttling crabs and schools of silvery sharks. Turn the page to explore each corner of the oceans, from hidden rock pools to the darkest depths. Marvel as plants transform into marvellous creatures, and discover the magic and beauty that lies beneath the waves..


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Some boys go too far. Some boys will break your heart. But one boy can make you whole.

When Grace meets Ian she’s afraid. Afraid he’ll reject her like the rest of the school, like her own family. After she accuses the town golden boy of rape, everyone turns against Grace. They call her a slut and a liar. But … Ian doesn’t. He’s funny and kind with secrets of his own.

But how do you trust the best friend of the boy who raped you? How do you believe in love?

A gut-wrenching, powerful love story told from alternating points of view by the acclaimed author of Send.


In 1978, Laurie Strode survived an encounter with Michael Myers, a masked figure who killed her friends and terrorised the town of Haddonfield, Illinois on Halloween night. Myers was later gunned down, apprehended and committed to Smith’s Grove State Hospital. 

For forty years, memories of that nightmarish ordeal have haunted Laurie and now Myers is back once again on Halloween, having escaped a routine transfer, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. This time, Laurie is prepared with years of survival training to protect herself, her daughter Karen and her granddaughter Allyson, a teenager separated from her family and enjoying Halloween festivities.


Some people like to shoot. Some people like to kill. 

Three victims, three bullets, three cities.

The first of these simultaneous serial killings occurs in San Francisco, Sergeant Lindsay Boxer’s jurisdiction and reporter Cindy Thomas’s beat. The shooters are precise, as is their target selection. Each one of the men and women down excels at an illegal and deadly activity that is dominating public debate. As the casualty list expands, the fear and fascination with this shooting gallery galvanises the county.

Are the shooter villains or heroes? And who will be next?


Brian Greene takes readers on a breathtaking journey from the big bang to the end of time and invites us to ponder meaning in the face of this unimaginable expanse. He shows us how, from its original orderly state the universe has been moving inexorably toward chaos, and, still, remarkable structures have continually formed: the planets, stars, and galaxies that provide islands in a sea of disorder; biochemical mechanisms, including mutation and selection, animate life; neurons, information, and thought developed into complex consciousness which in turn gave rise to cultures and their timeless myths and creativity.

And he describes, as well, how, in the deep reaches of the future, the nature of the universe will threaten the existence of matter itself. Through a series of nested stories Greene provides us with a clearer sense of how we came to be, a finer picture of where we are now, and a firmer understanding of where we are headed. Taken together, it is a completely new perspective on our place in the universe and on what it means to be human.


Every family has it secrets. Even the most ordinary tucks things away, out of sight. Things you don’t want to talk about. Sometimes dangerous things. 

Charlie is ten years old. He lives with his mum in an ordinary house, in an ordinary town. He goes to school, he does his homework and watches his mum work harder and harder to keep their little world afloat. An everyday life, outwardly no different to any other. But in every family there are secrets. 

Charlie’s dad went missing three years ago. No one knows where he has gone. The police couldn’t find him. His mum won’t talk about him. 

His dad had told him troubling things about his family’s past, stuff that did not make sense, that was incredible and frightening. 

And now there are strange things happening in the town where he lives. Children are going missing. Taken from houses and parks, from the woods and playing fields. 

Charlie knows the disappearances are linked to his dad and the stories he used to tell him. 

Charlie can see things that other people can’t. 

Strange things that come from dark places. Strange things with an insatiable hunger. 

The Nasties are coming. 

And only Charlie can stop them.


In the darkness of forever, in the cold places beyond the veil, something evil is stirring. 

Charlie Picker, last of the Watchers, is trying to find out what is happening to his friend Pete ‘Bash’ Bashir. Locked in the secure wing of a hospital, in a coma for over a year, the police are waiting for him to wake so they can charge him with the murder of the children who went missing in Therwick. 

Charlie knows what really killed those children. It wasn’t Bash. It wasn’t anything from this earth. It was the Nasties, a species older than time, born outside of our normal universe. Terrible creatures that had made their home here and grew fat on the blood of innocents. Charlie knows the Watchers are meant to kill these creatures, to protect the earth from the horrors that squirm and multiply in the gaps between the universes. 

And he knows that one day the Nasties will return for him. 

As he prepares for that fight, he makes a dangerous mistake. The veil that protects the earth is damaged. Something else finds a way through. 

Charlie finds himself in a desperate race to close the rip, caught between the Nasties and the other foul creatures that roam the darkness of the multiverse. With the help of his friends he must unite the Watchers and prevent the annihilation of the human race. 

Quite a lot to ask of a twelve year old. 


NetGalley

In this second book in the humorous, mystery-solving graphic novel series that’s perfect for fans of Bad Guys, Sherlock Bones and his ragtag team hunt down a swamp monster!

Sherlock Bones’s home, the Natural History Museum, has added an exciting new exhibit, Reef to Shore, that includes a mangrove forest and shallow coral reef habitat, with touch tanks in between. When Sherlock overhears a that a swamp monster has been sighted, he gathers his team to investigate. At first Sherlock Bones suspects Nivlac, a quirky octopus with a talent for camouflage – and tank pranks.

But then, loud bellowing leads Bones and team to the mangroves, where they find a horrifying long-haired green beast! Can they escape the creature – or is it too late for our beloved frogmouth bird skeleton and his ragtag mystery-solving team?


The first in a wickedly funny new series about an aspiring pacifist in a brutal kingdom!

On Brutalia violence is a way of life. Ravenous ravens circle overhead, monstrous grot bears cause chaos and the streets are bulging with brawls. But Mort isn’t like the other islanders – he’s determined to live peacefully. His struggle is made even tougher when the cruel queen appoints Mort as Royal Executioner. No one has challenged the royals and lived to tell the tale. Can Mort keep his head and outwit the queen? 


Book Haul – January 2021

Hey book nerds!

Welcome to It’s Not 2020 Anymore, formerly known as January. I hope you are safe and well.

I’m changing things up a bit this year. Last year I did Book Haul posts weekly but these will now be coming out at the end of each month.

I moved this month so there hasn’t been as much time for reading and moving costs have meant there hasn’t been as much money for books. Hopefully things will begin to settle down soon so I’ll be able to binge read again.

I started a Baby-Sitters Club binge last month (I’ve been planning on reading the entire series for years now) and am hoping to keep chipping away at the bazillion books in the series throughout the year.

Bookish Highlight: Theodora Hendrix and the Monstrous League of Monsters. I borrowed this from the library because I loved the cover. It was an unexpected gem. The main character is a lot of fun, there’s a haunted mansion, monsters and a mystery. And it’s the first in a series so I’ll get to hang out with my favourite characters and explore the mansion again.

End of December Reads:

January Reads


Book Mail

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines – a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem …


‘Welcome, one and all, to the Robofight Games!’

Last week Ethan was just a teenage kid, lying in hospital with a brain tumour. That was last week.

Now, Ethan has the super-human power to hack any computer system with his mind, and he and Dr Penny are on the run from a corrupt government, and on the hunt for Gemini, the android healer-turned-deadly assassin.

The Robofight Games might be the perfect cover for their mission. Or they might find themselves in even more trouble …

Robot vs robot.
Human vs human.
Country vs country.
Who will cheat, and who will WIN?


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The Women’s Murder Club returns for another thrilling crime investigation. Will their skills be enough to take down a brutal madman?

A brutal madman sprays bullets into a crowd of children leaving a San Francisco church. Miraculously – or was it intentionally? – only one person dies. Then an elderly black woman is hung. Police homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer senses a connection and together with medical examiner Claire, assistant D. A. Jill, and Chronicle reporter Cindy, finds a link that sends a chill through the entire nation. This killer’s motives are unspeakable.


In this debut issue of Weird Whispers we bring you a loose theme of origins. Paul Jessup gives us the first installment in his regular “Surveying the Weird” column, choosing to kick off with a focus on the weird side of winter in “Snow Weirds the World.”


Filled with a colourful and unforgettable cast of literary figures, The House at the End of Hope Street is a charming, whimsical novel of hope and feminine wisdom.

Distraught that her academic career has stalled, Alba is walking through her hometown of Cambridge, England, when she finds herself in front of a house she’s never seen before, 11 Hope Street. A beautiful older woman named Peggy greets her and invites her to stay, on the house’s usual conditions: she has ninety-nine nights to turn her life around. With nothing left to lose, Alba takes a chance and moves in. 

She soon discovers that this is no ordinary house. Past residents have included Virginia Woolf and Dorothy Parker, who, after receiving the assistance they needed, hung around to help newcomers – literally, in talking portraits on the wall. As she escapes into this new world, Alba begins a journey that will heal her wounds – and maybe even save her life. 


Since her parents’ mysterious deaths many years ago, scientist Cora Sparks has spent her days in the safety of her university lab or at her grandmother Etta’s dress shop. Tucked away on a winding Cambridge street, Etta’s charming tiny store appears quite ordinary to passersby, but the colorfully vibrant racks of beaded silks, delicate laces, and jewel-toned velvets hold bewitching secrets: With just a few stitches from Etta’s needle, these gorgeous gowns have the power to free a woman’s deepest desires.

Etta’s dearest wish is to work her magic on her granddaughter. Cora’s studious, unromantic eye has overlooked Walt, the shy bookseller who has been in love with her forever. Determined not to allow Cora to miss her chance at happiness, Etta sews a tiny stitch into Walt’s collar, hoping to give him the courage to confess his feelings to Cora. But magic spells – like true love – can go awry. After Walt is spurred into action, Etta realises she’s set in motion a series of astonishing events that will transform Cora’s life in extraordinary and unexpected ways.


Jude is the owner of a rather special antiques shop in Cambridge. She finds all of the joy in her life matching people with the special something that they are missing, a talisman that will help bring them just what their heart most desires. Although Jude’s life is certainly not overflowing with the love she would wish for … when she ‘inherits’ a niece that she never knew existed, doubling her meagre family overnight, life is set to get a lot less empty and a lot more interesting.

Viola is on a quest for perfection and the top job of Head Chef at one of Cambridge’s most prestigious restaurants to the exclusion of all else. When her path continues to cross that of widower and food historian Mathieu, she starts to see that there’s a lot to life beyond the kitchen that she’s been missing out on.


In a forgotten nook of Cambridge a little shop stands where thousands of sheets of beautiful paper and hundreds of exquisite pens wait for the next person who, with Clara Cohen’s help, will express the love, despair and desire they feel to correspondents alive, estranged or dead. Clara knows better than most the power a letter can have to turn a person’s life around, so when she discovers a cache of wartime love letters, she follows them on the start of on a profound journey of her own.


Amandine Bisset has always had the power to feel the emotions of those around her. It’s a secret she can share only with her friends – all professors, all witches – when they gather for meetings on the college rooftops. Although lately she senses the ties among her colleagues beginning to unravel. If only she had her student Noa’s power to hear the innermost thoughts of others, she might know how to patch things up.

Mathematics professor Kat is struggling with unrequited love, but refuses to cast spells to win anyone’s heart. Her sister, Cosima, is not above using such magic, sprinkling pastries in her bakery with equal parts sugar and enchantment. But when Cosima sets her sights on the love of Kat’s life, she sets off a chain of events that turns each of the witches’ worlds upside down …


In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate abandon the comforts of suburbia and their teaching jobs to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this charming property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago.

As Helen starts carefully sourcing decorative building materials for her home – wooden beams, mantles, historic bricks – she starts to unearth, and literally conjure, the tragic lives of Hattie’s descendants, three generations of “Breckenridge women,” each of whom died amidst suspicion, and who seem to still be seeking something precious and elusive in the present day.


Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko has given up the final piece of the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers in order to save everyone she loves from imminent death. Now she and her ragtag band of companions must journey to the wild sea cliffs of Iwagoto in a desperate last-chance effort to stop the Master of Demons from calling upon the Great Kami dragon and making the wish that will plunge the empire into destruction and darkness.

Shadow clan assassin Kage Tatsumi has regained control of his body and agreed to a true deal with the devil – the demon inside him, Hakaimono. They will share his body and work with Yumeko and their companions to stop a madman and separate Hakaimono from Tatsumi and the cursed sword that had trapped the demon for nearly a millennium.

But even with their combined skills and powers, this most unlikely team of heroes knows the forces of evil may be impossible to overcome. And there is another player in the battle for the scroll, a player who has been watching, waiting for the right moment to pull strings that no one even realised existed … until now.


Worshippers stream out of an Midwestern synagogue after sabbath services, unaware that only a hundred yards away, an expert marksman and  avowed racist, antisemite and member of the Ku Klux Klan, patiently awaits, his hunting rifle at the ready. 

 The October 8, 1977 shooting was a forerunner to the tragedies and divisiveness that plague us today. John Douglas, the FBI’s pioneering, first full-time criminal profiler, hunted the shooter – a white supremacist named Joseph Paul Franklin, whose Nazi-inspired beliefs propelled a three-year reign of terror across the United States, targeting African Americans, Jews, and interracial couples. In addition, Franklin bombed the home of Jewish leader Morris Amitay, shot and paralyzed Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, and seriously wounded civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. The fugitive supported his murderous spree robbing banks in five states, from Georgia to Ohio.

 Douglas and his writing partner Mark Olshaker return to this disturbing case that reached the highest levels of the Bureau, which was fearful Franklin would become a presidential assassin x and haunted him for years to come as the threat of copycat domestic terrorist killers increasingly became a reality. Detailing the dogged pursuit of Franklin that employed profiling, psychology and meticulous detective work, Douglas and Olshaker relate how the case was a make-or-break test for the still-experimental behavioural science unit and revealed a new type of, determined, mission-driven serial killer whose only motivation was hate.

A riveting, cautionary tale rooted in history that continues to echo today, The Killer’s Shadow is a terrifying and essential exploration of the criminal personality  in the vile grip of extremism and what happens when rage-filled speech evolves into deadly action and hatred of the “other” is allowed full reign.


This compassionate and insightful guide will demystify mental health issues and help anyone concerned about themselves or loved ones.

Leading psychiatrist Dr Mark Cross, from the acclaimed ABC TV series ‘Changing Minds’, feels strongly that everyone should have easy access to information they can trust about common mental health problems, whether for themselves or to help family or friends. The result is this empowering guide which aims to cut through the myths and taboos about mental health and offer clear, practical help. It covers a wide range of common issues, from bipolar, anxiety, personality and eating disorders, to depression, post-traumatic stress and schizophrenia, and includes how to get help, what treatments are available and how to live successfully with a mental illness. Most importantly, it shows how carers and families can help a loved one through what can be a very challenging time. Since almost half of all Australians will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime, this book is for everyone.


Leon Weissmann is an introverted loner with no control over his life. His only joy is the menagerie of insects, spiders, and scorpions he tends to in his garage.

When he acquires an illegally poached rainforest spider, he unknowingly contracts a rare strain of fungus that enables him to control people, to make them do anything he wants.

As his power grows, Leon begins to abuse it until there are bodies in his wake and a coterie of brainwashed disciples under his influence. But soon Leon suspects that the thing growing inside his head may be the one with the power … It wants to come out. To reproduce. It wants to control everyone.


A collection of three powerfully disturbing novellas by multiple award-winning author, Stephen Graham Jones. 

There are lines that probably shouldn’t be crossed, doors that should stay shut, thoughts that shouldn’t be considered. In these three novellas by Stephen Graham Jones, the dead talk, ancient evil opens its eyes, and that guy across the parking lot, he’s watching you, and has been for a while now. 

Lock the door, tell yourself it’s nothing, turn the radio up. It won’t matter. You’re already three miles past where you meant to stop. 


For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob – a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life – hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world … and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.

There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality.


Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro follows the young protagonists Hunter Glenn and Elly Ann through an adventure ripe with adversity, paranormal monsters, secret societies, and most haunting of all, a life without their parents. Both siblings suffer emotional struggle from the sudden loss of their parents, as well as their physical journey into a new and strange “home”; an ancient and creepy mansion known only as the Belmonte Estate. The children slowly unravel the secrets of their parents’ true identities, the origin of the strange mansion and their inheritance into an ancient secret society of monster hunters.


NetGalley

From the New York TimesUSA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Radium Girls comes another dark and dramatic but ultimately uplifting tale of a forgotten woman whose inspirational journey sparked lasting change for women’s rights and exposed injustices that still resonate today.

1860: As the clash between the states rolls slowly to a boil, Elizabeth Packard, housewife and mother of six, is facing her own battle. The enemy sits across the table and sleeps in the next room. Her husband of twenty-one years is plotting against her because he feels increasingly threatened – by Elizabeth’s intellect, independence, and unwillingness to stifle her own thoughts. So Theophilus makes a plan to put his wife back in her place. One summer morning, he has her committed to an insane asylum.

The horrific conditions inside the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, are overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland, a man who will prove to be even more dangerous to Elizabeth than her traitorous husband. But most disturbing is that Elizabeth is not the only sane woman confined to the institution. There are many rational women on her ward who tell the same story: they’ve been committed not because they need medical treatment, but to keep them in line – conveniently labeled “crazy” so their voices are ignored.

No one is willing to fight for their freedom and, disenfranchised both by gender and the stigma of their supposed madness, they cannot possibly fight for themselves. But Elizabeth is about to discover that the merit of losing everything is that you then have nothing to lose …

Bestselling author Kate Moore brings her sparkling narrative voice to The Woman They Could Not Silence, an unputdownable story of the forgotten woman who courageously fought for her own freedom – and in so doing freed millions more. Elizabeth’s refusal to be silenced and her ceaseless quest for justice not only challenged the medical science of the day, and led to a giant leap forward in human rights, it also showcased the most salutary lesson: sometimes, the greatest heroes we have are those inside ourselves.


Grey’s Anatomy meets One L in this psychiatrist’s charming and poignant memoir about his residency at Harvard.

Adam Stern was a student at a state medical school before being selected to train as a psychiatry resident at one of the most prestigious programs in the country. His new and initially intimidating classmates were high achievers from the Ivy League and other elite universities around the nation. Faculty raved about the group as though the residency program had won the lottery, nicknaming them “The Golden Class,” but would Stern ever prove that he belonged?

In his memoir, Stern pulls back the curtain on the intense and emotionally challenging lessons he and his fellow doctors learned while studying the human condition, and ultimately, the value of connection. The narrative focuses on these residents, their growth as doctors, and the life choices they make as they try to survive their grueling four-year residency. Rich with drama, insight, and emotion, Stern shares engrossing stories of life on the psychiatric wards, as well as the group’s experiences as they grapple with impostor syndrome and learn about love and loss. Most importantly, as they study how to help distressed patients in search of a better life, they discover the meaning of failure and the preciousness of success. Stern’s growth as a doctor, and as a man, have readers rooting for him and his patients, and ultimately find their own hearts fuller for having taken this journey with him.


Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonising days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply … impossible. But it’s the story Aidan is sticking to.

His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away.

When the kids in school hear Aidan’s story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan’s side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?


A fizzingly funny, heartfelt middle-grade novel about a resourceful girl, her impractical mother and a kidnapping mystery.

Calla’s mum has never been normal. She’s been known to go out in a lab coat and slippers and often forgets to perform basic tasks because she’s been thinking about ducks. When a job offer arrives to study her beloved birds in the Amazon rainforest, Calla knows her mum has to go. Nervously, she agrees to go to boarding school.

She quickly learns that trouble is afoot in this odd convent school. A mean new headmistress is imposing horrible rules and making everyone eat Brussels sprout cake, and the students are itching to revolt. As Calla makes new friends and gets drawn into their rebellious plot, she keeps waiting for her mum to call. She will, won’t she?

Exuberantly funny and brimming with heart, How to Be Brave is a riotous celebration of the power of resourceful girls, stories and the right biscuit at the right time.


Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city filled with magic.

Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?


Determined to be the world’s greatest detective, Zaiba is always on the lookout for a crime to solve!

When a new family moves to the village, Zaiba is intrigued to hear about the strange happenings in their home. Things go missing, objects are smashed and unfriendly messages are painted on the walls. There have always been rumours that the house is haunted, but is a ghost really causing all this trouble? Zaiba and her team are convinced that the culprit is very much alive – and won’t stop until they get what they want …

The third book in a fun, fresh and exciting new detective series, for readers not quite ready for Robin Stevens, Katherine Woodfine, High Rise Mystery and Nancy Drew.


Marjorie Glatt’s life hasn’t been the same ever since she discovered a group of ghosts hiding in her family’s laundromat. Wendell, who died young and now must wander Earth as a ghost with nothing more than a sheet for a body, soon became one of Marjorie’s only friends. But when Marjorie finally gets accepted by the popular kids at school, she begins to worry that if anyone learns about her secret ghost friends, she’ll be labeled as a freak who sees dead people. With Marjorie’s insistence on keeping Wendell’s ghost identity a secret from her new friends, Wendell begins to feel even more invisible than he already is.

Eliza Duncan feels invisible too. She’s an avid photographer, and her zealous interest in finding and photographing ghosts gets her labeled as “different” by all the other kids in school. Constantly feeling on the outside, Eliza begins to feel like a ghost herself. Marjorie must soon come to terms with the price she pays to be accepted by the popular kids. Is it worth losing her friend, Wendell? Is she partially to blame for the bullying Eliza endures?

Delicates tells a powerful story about what it means to fit in, and those left on the outside. It shows what it’s like to feel invisible, and the importance of feeling seen. Above all, it is a story of asking for help when all seems dark, and bringing help and light to those who need it most. 


Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid. 

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter. 

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must to decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay it. 

A smouldering, terrifying new spin on Cinderella – perfect for fans of Laura Purcell and Erin Morgenstern.


Book Haul – 20 to 26 December 2020

Hey book nerds! I hope you’re well.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope it was as good as it could be, despite whatever COVID restrictions you’re currently living with. If you don’t celebrate it, happy final weekend of 2020. Christmas with my family is always pretty subdued but this year it was even more low key.

I carried a double dose of cervical headache and occipital neuralgia with me from Christmas Eve, so spent much of the day laying very still in a quiet room. Someone wished me a restful Christmas when I spoke to them on Christmas Eve so I’m holding them partially responsible. 😜

I did manage a very short walk on the beach with my mother late in the afternoon, followed by a Macca’s chocolate sundae (because chocolate makes everything better), so it ended much better than it started.

I almost didn’t get to do a book haul post this week because there was no hauling. Santa didn’t bring me any books, although I did manage to find one on sale late last night. So, it’s slim book acquisition pickings this week.

We had a great light show here last night. A storm came through around dinner time but the lightning lingered in the distance for hours. I was up watching it at 3am and it was gorgeous. The clouds that preceded the storm were amazing!

Song of the Week: For some reason I haven’t been able to get MILCK’s Quiet out of my head all week.

Word of the Week: boondoggle. “An unnecessary, wasteful, or fraudulent project.” (from lexico.com)

Bookish Highlight of the Week: A Promised Land, a read outside of my comfort zone.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

The latest novel in the bestselling World’s Scariest Places series takes you to the historic Hotel Chelsea in New York City. Many people consider it a cauldron of creativity due to the numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors who have called it home over the years. But it is perhaps best known for being one of the most haunted places in in the country …

When a magazine reporter is tasked with writing a story about the Hotel Chelsea’s never-ending renovations, he befriends some of the hotel’s eccentric characters. As the days go by, and he experiences increasingly abnormal events in his life, he begins to wonder if there’s more to the Hotel Chelsea, and its residents, than meets the eye.


Book Haul – 13 to 19 December 2020

Hey book nerds!

It probably looks like I’ve barely opened a book this week, having only finished a picture book and gift book. I’ve been slowly working my way through Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and it’s a serious commitment. Between the 700+ pages and the detailed descriptions of all things political, it’s taking me a very long time to get through it. Hopefully I’ll have it finished by Christmas, all going well.

I finally managed to see Vienna Teng perform in concert this week. It was my second online concert and it was magic! I thought I’d never have the opportunity to see her play live and although I missed the atmosphere of sitting in a room with hundreds of other fans, it was so much better than I’d dared to hope it would be.

I’ve been to some concerts where it’s obvious how much finessing has been done to a singer’s voice to make it sound like it does on their CD. This wasn’t the case with Vienna: the stunning voice you hear on the CD is just as beautiful in concert.

I may be the only person in the world that does this but when I’m really looking forward to a concert a really weird thing happens. I think it’s the music touching me in a similar way watching the ocean or seeing a baby animal for the first time does, but while I feel the emotion of all of them, music alone makes me cry.

I’m barely even aware I’m doing it because it’s not an ugly, sobbing cry; it’s more a growing awareness that I have tears streaming down my face. While I’m usually all cried out by the end of the third song in most concerts, I cried for the entire first half of this one, as well as the final three or four songs. Pretty much whenever she played a song that I desperately wanted to see her play live. Yes, I’m a weirdo. I admit it.

I may have been somewhat dehydrated by the end but I had the most marvellous time. While there’s no way all of my favourite Vienna songs could have made it into the lineup (there are simply too many), almost every song she played was one of my favourites.

Meredith Peruzzi, the ASL interpreter you can see in the bottom right corner of my screenshots, did a brilliant job. She also seemed to be having a great time, looking like she was grooving along to the music.

The standout for me was Vienna’s new song. I’ve been hankering for some new Vienna music for years and it was incredible. I can’t do it justice by trying to explain it but I’ll give it a go anyway: she sang a song in two parts then layered the two into a single song. So it was like hearing three versions of the same song and the two parts being sung at once (technology helped here) shouldn’t have worked but it did. I really hope that when her next CD is released it includes all three versions of this song. It’s called We’ve Got You.

Vienna also did a cover of MILCK’s Somebody’s Beloved, which was one of the many songs I cried through.

Song of the Week: Level Up by Vienna Teng. I’d been listening to this song a lot in the week before the concert.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet – or as safe – as it seems.

Cassie McDowell’s life in 1980’s Minnesota seems perfectly wholesome. She lives on a farm, loves school, and has a crush on the nicest boy in class. Yes, there are her parents’ strange parties and their parade of deviant guests, but she’s grown accustomed to them.

All that changes when someone comes hunting in Lilydale.

One by one, local boys go missing. One by one, they return changed – violent, moody, and withdrawn. What happened to them becomes the stuff of shocking rumours. The accusations of who’s responsible grow just as wild, and dangerous town secrets start to surface. Then Cassie’s own sister undergoes the dark change. If she is to survive, Cassie must find her way in an adult world where every sin is justified, and only the truth is unforgivable.


An evil force pulses deep within Malpas Abbey, overflowing with maniacal glee …

Overlooking a dark hill, the gloomy Malpas Abbey has been avoided by locals for centuries. Its infamous history is marred with blood and terror. Only the foolish would dare enter such a place, where devilish hauntings have left a string of dead bodies in its wake.

Just as the building is about to be permanently closed, things take an unexpected turn. An American television crew shows up, hoping to investigate the source of the structure’s paranormal activity. Led by producer Matt McKay and paranormal expert Ted Gould, the hapless bunch enter the confines of the hellish residence only to discover that they are in way over their heads.

As the group tries to make sense of the strange occurrences, they soon realise that the cellar might be the key to unlocking the mystery. Inside lies a stone altar that emanates with the evil strength of the Devil himself, feeding upon the crew members’ worst nightmares. 

With the ominous cloud hanging over them, they realise that there’s much more at stake than a disruption in filming. The only hope for survival rests on Ted, Matt and his crew’s ability to find their way out of the darkness, before the house devours them, capturing all the gory details on camera …


NetGalley

A speedy squirrel and a sleepy sloth try to get the job done in this funny, heartwarming tale of two lovable, but unlikely, friends.

Though Sloth and Squirrel are good friends, they have different ways of doing things – and different speeds of doing them. So, when Squirrel gets them jobs as pickle packers to earn money for a new bike, things don’t go according to plan. It seems that the contrasting skill sets of a fast-as-lightening squirrel and a slow-as-molasses sloth can make for a mess of an outcome, and before long, the friends are shown the pickle factory’s door, along with the 677 1/2 jars of pickles they packed incorrectly! Now the pair are bicycle-less, with only pickles to show for themselves. Or so they think – until the resourceful pair come up with an ingenious plan!

This delightful story from Cathy Ballou Mealey is a celebration of friendships of all kinds and a testament to ingenuity and hard work. Packed with funny details that aren’t in the text, Kelly Collier’s engaging illustrations are full of personality and silly, emotionally expressive humour. Together they create a hilarious picture book that’s perfect for a fun and lively read-aloud. At the same time, the positive themes in the book highlight a growth mindset and character education lessons on teamwork, perseverance and initiative.

Book Haul – 6 to 12 December 2020

Hey book nerds! How was your week?

Rather than the usual book haul, this week was more ‘I bought a book’. Just the one.

I attended my first concert in 6 years this week. You definitely miss out on the atmosphere when you listen to a concert online but there are also some pluses. The people who annoy you by talking through your favourite song or blocking your view by constantly shifting in their seat or standing in front of you when everyone else is sitting? They’re annoying people in their house, not yours. Also, you’ll probably get the best concert photos you’ll ever take and you don’t even have to sneak your camera past security.

My next concert is Vienna Teng. With the time difference I’m pretty sure it starts about 6am tomorrow for me. Since that’s prime sleeping time I think I’ll have to watch the replay instead and pretend I’m watching it live.

Song of the Week: Heavenly Day by Patty Griffin

Word of the Week: decorum, “behaviour that people consider to be correct, polite, and respectable” (from Collins Dictionary).

Bookish Highlight of the Week: Kristy’s Great Idea. Kristy Thomas was the one who introduced me to this week’s word and it was one of the first words I looked up in the dictionary as I was reading, something I do all of the time now. I’ve been planning a BSC binge for years. Given how many books there actually are, it’s likely to be more of a marathon but I’ve started.

Recent Reads:


Kindle Black Hole of Good Intentions

Sinister forces gather in Duck Falls. Soon, this small American town will become a battleground for the future of humanity.

Six months after the “Ghostland Disaster,” Duck Falls has become a reluctant tourist trap, and a new home to the activist group Ghosts Are People Too. When the Return to Ghostland televised event ends in yet another tragedy, ghosts once again fall under scrutiny … along with the effectiveness of the Recurrence Field.

Away at college, survivor Lilian Roth has discovered she’s able to communicate with spirits. She and her best friend, Ben Laramie, use the skills they’ve acquired to free ghosts from their hauntings.

But Rex Garrote, the mastermind behind the Ghostland Disaster, is raising an army of ghosts to slaughter every living person on Earth. Left with no choice but to fight, Ben and Lilian must recruit their own army of freed ghosts, and prepare them for war.

Will it be enough to save the world?