Friday, 18 August 2017

Sally Rippin Presents Super Moopers by Fiona Harris and Scott Edgar.


Moopertown is  a new children's series set to entertain young readers.
The first four books that are released in the series are:
Musical Markus, Nervous Nellie, Dramatic Dom, and Giggling Gertie. 
I was sent the first two titles mentioned above, and after reading them, I think that these are great books for readers aged 5-8 years old.
In each book, we are introduced to one resident of Moopertown. 
The characters are all special in their own way, and each one has a trait that is perceived to be a hindrance, but by the end of the story, the trait is what makes them stand out from the others and transforms them to Super Mooper status. 
In the case of Musical Markus, he loves to sing, any time, any place. But his singing isn't popular with everyone in Moopertown, until one day when a baby is comforted by his voice...

The stories send children the important message that we are all different and that we are able to really shine when we believe in ourselves. 

The story line is easy to follow, and the language is suitable for young readers to comprehend. 

The books are released this August through Five Mile, and have an RRP of $12.99 each. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Children's Book Review:  Disney Elena Of Avalor - The Essential Guide

Elena of Avalor is a 16-year-old Crown Princess of the beautiful Kingdom of Avalor. When she turns 20, she will become the Queen. 
But she still has a way to go if she wants to successfully face the magical journey that is ahead!
In this Essential Guide, you will be introduced to all of Elena's friends, and learn about the magical creatures and legends that exist within Avalor.
There are fun facts, true or false questions, and quizzes included too. 
Elena is the first Latina Disney princess, and unlike some of the other Disney princesses, she does not have a love interest. She is focused on becoming Queen and ruling Avalor.
Any Elena of Avalor fan will be delighted to discover the magical world that Elena resides in!
This beautiful hard-covered book was released in early July through DK Australia, and retails for $16.99
For further information on this title, head here

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Beauty & Lace Book Review: The Good Teacher by R.M. Anderson

The Good Teacher is set in the very small farming town of Stony Creek, and whilst there's only thirty or so homes in the town, the characters that reside within them certainly have a lot drama going on!
It all begins when newly-appointed principal of the one primary school, Brock Kelly, arrives and meets Jennifer Booth.
Jennifer is president of the P&C (even though her only child, Madison has long since left the school), and is married to a man named Andy. 
One day, just before a P& C meeting takes place, Jennifer and Brock have unexpected, steamy sex in Brock's office. 
When committee member, Sarah Howard, uncovers what has taken place, the scandal spirals out of control, and there is a lot to lose for all parties involved.

Told through many alternating perspectives, including Brock's, Jennifer's, Madison's and Mack's (Madison's grandfather, a delightful character that was one of my favourites) we gain a real insight into the ramifications of the affair, and the secrets that others within the community have. 

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed The Good Teacher. The first half of the book I could not put down. I was drawn into the story and wanted to know how it would all pan out.
The second half felt a little too dramatic and whilst I couldn't predict how the story would end, it did lose a bit of the spark but was still rather riveting. 

Discalimer: I was sent a copy of The Good Teacher thanks to Beauty & Lace and Harlequin. To see the original review on the Beauty & Lace website, head here

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Book Review: Super Con-Nerd by Oliver Phommavanh (For Young Readers)

Super Con-Nerd is the follow-up story to Con-Nerd, which was released back in 2011, and the main character is Connor, a young boy who thinks he knows all there is to know about being a nerd.
Connor has just started secondary school at Kentsworth High School, which is a selective school for bright students.
Whilst Connor is grateful for the opportunity he has been given, he struggles to adjust to the transition from primary to secondary school.
It doesn't help that his old school friends are coping fine, making new friends and moving on.
Connor loves to draw comic books, but the excessive amount of homework he gets doesn't allow much time for anything fun anymore. 
Everything seems so different this year, leaving Connor to feel like a little fish in a very big pond.
He wants to make his mum proud as he knows she has sacrificed a lot to get him into the school, but will he be able to when he is put up against the super hyper nerds from Kentsworth? 

This book is highly entertaining, and offers a great insight into what it may feel like for children who are in their first year of secondary school and attempting to adjust to the many challenges they are often faced with. 
My 10 year-old daughter really enjoyed this book, saying that it is one of the best books she has ever read!

It was released earlier this year through Penguin Random House Australia. For further info, including where to buy, head here

Monday, 31 July 2017

Book Review (YA novel) - The Impossible Story Of Olive In Love by Tonya Alexandra

I opted to read and review this book as I really liked the sound of it when I read the blurb, even though it isn't a genre that I would usually read.
The main character is 17-year-old Olive, who is burdened with an Irish gypsy curse that makes her invisible to everyone except her one true love. 
Her mother is dead, her father lives in another country. 
She has one sister, Rose, whom she lives with. 
Rose has never seen Olive, but she is a great support, and has sacrificed a lot to make Olive's life as happy as can be.
Olive has a best friend named Felix, who is blind, and she is grateful for his companionship.
But one day she meets Tom, and he sees her for the person she is. 
Can Olive make this relationship with Tom work, or will Olive always feel invisible, even when she can be seen?

I really liked the premise of this story; I was intrigued as I had never read any book that has an invisible character in it, so it was certainly different!
But unfortunately, I wasn't as convinced by it as I wanted to be.
I just couldn't get into Olive's character, and the relationship with Tom felt very rushed and rather fake at times too.
Olive is demanding and quite the drama queen, which I didn't like, though I could see why her personality would be that way, given she can't be seen by anyone and would seek attention in other ways.
I think that the author did a great job of portraying the struggles that an invisible person would face - being isolated a lot, not being able to drive or catch a taxi, or have a normal job. 
The story gelled enough for me to want to keep reading, but I can't say that it was one that will stay with me for long.
Having said that, it is clever and creative, and I think that it would appeal to young/teen readers. 

Friday, 28 July 2017

Books For Pre-Schoolers

Silly Lily And The First Day Of Kindergarten by Jedda Robaard 

Silly Lily is a new book series targeted at pre-schoolers as they experience life's 'first' moments. 

In Silly Lily And The First Day Of Kindergarten, Lily is nervous to begin her first day at kindergarten, but she soon plunges herself into all that the day has to offer, including petting the class pet, drawing, and eating all of her snacks. But when she realises that her first day experiences aren't turning out the way she had hoped, Lily sets about putting things right so that her first day of kindergarten can really be a success!

Silly Lily aims to teach young children about what they should expect in certain situations that they are faced with for the first time. It also leads the young reader to recognise what behaviours are acceptable when they are in these circumstances. 

I adore the illustrations in Silly Lily; they are soft watercolour style images depicting Lily and other recurring characters. The thicker pages in this board book make it ideal for younger readers to handle. 

Silly Lily And The First Day Of Kindergarten is released this month through Five Mile Press, with an RRP of $16.99
For further information, head here

Monday, 24 July 2017

Book Review: The Fence by Meredith Jaffe 

Gwen Hill resides with her husband Eric in an idyllic suburban neighbourhood in Rosedale. They were the first home owners in the area, some 54 years ago.
Gwen is a passionate gardener, and has been writing a gardening column for 40 years. 
Her best friend, next-door neighbour Babs Mody, recently passed away from stomach cancer, and when Babs' son Michael announces that he plans to sell the house, Gwen is interested to see who the new residents next door to her on Green Valley Avenue will be.
It isn't long before married couple Francesca 'Frankie' Desmarchelliers and Brandon Boyd shift in, with 4 young children and 2 dogs in tow.
Frankie works full-time whilst Brandon is the house husband. 
They moved to the area to start afresh after problems in their marriage, in the hope that a change of scenery may be beneficial for their relationship.
When they want to erect a fence between their property and next door, they are met with refusal from their neighbours.
Gwen's reasoning behind it is that she has a row of trees that she claims serve as an informal division of the properties that have been there for years, which she has taken excellent care of.
Unable to work out an agreement, the matter is then taken to court on two separate occasions, and the outcome isn't all that satisfying for either party.
As Gwen faces challenges with Eric's health, and Frankie finds herself stressed out trying to juggle her job, the kids, and Brandon, their priorities shift, but the conflict between them continues..
Will they ever be able to see eye-to-eye, or is a neighbourhood war imminent?

I was so enraptured with this book that I finished it within a couple of days. The author has done a remarkable job with this novel. We hear about these sorts of things on the news occasionally, and this is a fantastic portrayal of that neighbourhood drama. 
I was able to feel empathetic towards both of the main female characters, and although I did side more with Gwen, I just couldn't dislike Frankie. 
Even when I didn't agree with her and found her to be quite stubborn and a person who jumped the gun in many situations, I still felt empathy, which I wasn't expecting. Author Meredith Jaffe makes the reader feel like they know so much about each and every character, including the children. They all added a different perspective which I adored.
I give this book top marks as there isn't anything I could fault. Even the cover is gorgeous.
If you haven't read The Fence, then put it on your list pronto!

Friday, 21 July 2017

Beauty & Lace Book Review:  Not A Sound by Heather Gudenkauf 

Not A Sound is a fantastic thriller that I finished over a couple of days.
The story is told from the point of view of Amelia Winn, a former nurse at Queen Of Peace Hospital.
A couple of years prior, Amelia and one of her patients were involved in a hit and run. The patient died, and Amelia was deafened as a result of the collision. The driver of the car was never found.
The incident wreaked havoc not only her personal but her professional life.
Now, two years on, Amelia is a recovering alcoholic, estranged from her husband David and step-daughter Nora, and is looking to regain control of her life and return to the workforce.
On the day of a job interview that she has with Dr Joseph Huntley, the director of a cancer centre, she is out for a paddle with her dog Stitch when she discovers a body floating along the river.
She is shocked when she realises that the victim is known to her - Gwen Locke used to work with Amelia and was once considered a good friend of hers until Amelia shut out everyone out after the accident she was involved in.
When Amelia realises that Gwen had tried to contact her only months before, Amelia feels that she owes it to her friend to try and piece together the circumstances that led her to her tragic death. 
With the help of her brother's best friend, detective Jake Schroeder, Amelia puts herself in danger on more than one occasion to uncover the truth.

The story moved along at a good pace, and I was left guessing who the culprit was until the revelation, despite there being several suspects. 
I thought that Amelia was a great character. I admired her determination to regain the trust and respect from her ex-husband. I also felt for her because of the struggles she faced by being hearing impaired. She had worked for 15 years as a nurse, and a further 3 years as a sexual assault nurse examiner, and was clearly quite passionate about her job. Her willingness to return to the workforce after what she had faced was really impressive.  
I adored her dog Stitch, he was such a loyal companion and made sure that Amelia was alert and aware of her surroundings, even when she couldn't hear what was going on. 
This book had all of the things I look for in a good read; a great cast of characters, and a well-written story line. I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a suspenseful page-turner!

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Not A Sound with thanks to Harlequin Books Australia and Beauty & Lace. To see the original review, head to the Beauty & Lace post here 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Book Review: The Spectacular Spencer Gray by Deb Fitzpatrick (For Middle Readers)

Spencer Gray is back in this highly-anticipated second book in the series - the first, The Amazing Spencer Gray, was released in 2013. 
Spencer is just an ordinary young boy who happens to find himself in some rather extraordinary situations. 
This time round, he is at primary school enjoying a game of soccer with his friends when he notices some suspicious activity at the BBO - bush behind the oval.
Spencer discovers that there is an operation to smuggle one of Australia's most endangered mammals out of the country, but he decides not to alert his parents.
Instead, he confides in his friends, Charlie and Leon, who offer to help Spencer.
But will Spencer be able to pull off something spectacular in order to save the very rare Gilbert's Potoroo? Be prepared to be taken on a wild adventure as Spencer attempts to save the day!

This book is suitable for readers aged 8-12 years old, and I like how Deb has chosen an endangered animal that many would not have heard of (myself included). It is a great way to bring awareness to young children about our beautiful Australian wildlife, and the ways we can protect these creatures. 
Spencer's bravery and determination are highly admirable qualities, making him a great role model. 
The Spectacular Spencer Gray is released this July through Fremantle Press, and has an RRP of $14.99
For further information head here 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Children's Book Review: One Thousand Trees by Kyle Hughes-Odgers

(Ideal for ages 2 - 8 years)

In this delightful hard covered book, the expressive and detailed illustrations tell the main story about Frankie, who is deep in the heart of the city, and dreams about a thousand trees.
With only a few words interspersed throughout the pages, this picture book really showcases the talents of author, Australian artist Kyle Hughes-Odgers, who has been involved in large-scale art projects both in Australia and worldwide.

'Wordless' books such as this one really allow your child's imagination to expand, and allow you to have some really interesting discussions about what they think is happening in the story.
They also allow your child to be creative with their interpretation of the story - what one child may think is happening in the story could be totally different to what another child believes is happening. 
They're also a great way to develop your child's storytelling skills.
If you're after a book that will engage your young reader and help them practice their comprehension skills, then I highly suggest that you check out One Thousand Trees. 
It is published by Fremantle Press, with an RRP $24.99. More info can be found here

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Book Review: The Party by Robyn Harding 

Hannah Sanders is turning sweet 16, and is celebrating her milestone with a party with a few girlfriends in the basement of her family home.
Her parents, Kim and Jeff, know that their daughter is a good kid who is doing well at school, and see no harm in having four of Hannah's friends over for a slumber party.
The guests include Ronni Monroe, who was once Hannah's best friend when they were younger; Lauren Ross, the popular, mean girl; and two of Hannah's oldest friends, Marta and Caitlin.
Hannah wants to impress her friends, particularly Lauren, as she desperately wants to fit in with the popular kids just like Lauren does.
So when the girls decide to break Kim's rules of no drinks, no drugs, and no boys, things turn disastrous.
Ronni is left seriously injured and disfigured when a horrible accident takes place. 
When Ronni's mum Lisa finds out, she is understandably distraught. But her pain quickly leads to anger, and she decides to sue Hannah's parents for negligence for the sum of $3,000,000.
The law suit brings out the worst in everyone. 
Those who were friends now become enemies, and as the families continue to battle it out, many secrets and lies are exposed.
Meanwhile, Ronni struggles to cope with the bullying taunts she is faced with upon her return to school. 
Kim and Jeff have their own personal battles to face, and it is quite clear that the repercussions of the incident will change all of their lives forever.

Many of the characters have secrets and are untruthful, at times not only to others, but to themselves.
It was interesting to see how the effects of the lawsuit took its toll on the characters.
The book is told from several points of view, so the reader gains a good understanding of how each of the characters deal with the situation that unfolded on the night of the party. 
I think that Hannah and Ronni were definitely the more mature characters, even more so than the adults at times. 
The outcome of the story seemed fairly realistic, and overall, I thought that The Party was a compelling book which highlighted the damaging effects that peer pressure, drugs, and drinking can cause, particularly when they are combined together.

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of The Party thanks to Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

New Release Lift-The-Flap Books: 

Find Spot At The Museum by Eric Hill

Did you know that the very first Spot book, Where's Spot, was published way back in 1980?! 
All these years later, and this adorable canine character is still very much adored!
The latest book due for release is the first in a new flip-the-flap series. It is titled Find Spot At The Museum, and features Spot visiting the museum with his mum Sally and friend Tom.
But as he is exploring the exhibitions, he manages to get himself lost. Tom and Sally search all over the museum before finding him at long last. 
This board book has thick pages, making it ideal for smaller hands to turn them. The lift-the-flaps are sure to delight younger readers as they open them up to reveal hidden surprises. 
Available from 3rd July through Penguin Random House Australia.

My First Mr.Men Lift-The-Flap by Roger Hargreaves

When I was a young girl, I had a collection of Mr. Men books that I enjoyed reading over and over. I still have my collection, and whilst some are looking a little worse for wear, my children have now claimed them as their own, and read them as I once did.
This month, My First Mr. Men Lift-The-Flap will be released. It is the first in a range of books aimed at younger fans of this delightful series.
Your child can be just like Mr. Nosey and open up the flaps to discover what's hiding behind the doors, what is on television, and much more!
The board book has an RRP of $14.99,  and is available through Penguin Random House Australia

Friday, 7 July 2017

Children's Book Review: 
The Chalk Rainbow by Deborah Kelly and Gwynneth Jones

The Chalk Rainbow is a delightful children's picture book that explores one family's experience of living with a son and brother who has ASD (Austism Spectrum Disorder)...

Zane is a young boy who is different to many other children. He has certain rituals that he carries out, and he also doesn't like the colour black. In fact, he refuses to eat, touch or wear anything that is black.
His father gets angry, and his mother also struggles to explain things to him. 
Zane doesn't handle their reactions well, and so he huddles into a ball and screams at the top of his lungs.
Luckily, Zane has a big sister that wants to help him, so she draws a chalk rainbow for Zane on the front steps of their home. 
Zane's sister is the narrator, and through her voice, we come to understand that her love for her younger brother is pure and absolute, and that his happiness means a lot to her. 
Zane appreciates when his sister patiently shows him that there are ways to look at things differently, and to find a way to explore life together.
The Chalk Rainbow is a story about trusting others and experiencing unconditional love. 
The illustrations in this book are beautiful and bright, with many pages highlighted with colourful rainbows. 

The Chalk Rainbow is ideal for young readers aged 4-8 years, and is available now through EK Books, with an RRP of $24.99
For further information, head here

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Blog Tour Book Review: Diamond Sky by Annie Seaton 

I was recently given the opportunity to read and review Diamond Sky as part of a blog tour through Pan Macmillan Australia to coincide with the book release on the 27th June. 
Rural fiction is a genre that I really enjoy, so I was happy to be involved.
Although this is the third book in the 'Porter Sister' series, it can be read as a stand-alone book, as I read it, though after reading Diamond Sky, I am eager to check out the other two books in the series as I thoroughly enjoyed this outback mystery!

The majority of the book is set in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia at the Matsu diamond mine.
The CEO of Matsu, John Robinson, hires a security specialist named Connor Kirk to investigate a diamond theft that has occured at the mine.
He believes that the suspect could be an employee, despite the rigid security measures that are in place, and so Connor goes undercover as a workplace safety officer to see if he can discover what happened to the missing gems.
Connor is a former member of the federal police, but circumstances that don't come to light until later on in the story have led Connor to change his career to his current position.

Drusilla Porter is an environmental engineer at Matsu, and she is the most likely suspect out of three employees.
Known by her co-workers as "the ice queen", she is an independent, capable woman who prefers to keep to herself where possible.
An event from her past involving a mysterious man in Dubai still continues to haunt her, although we don't discover much about him apart from his name - Zayad Al Tayer.
Could he be connected to the thefts, and what is Dru's connection to him?
It's up to Connor to find out, but it won't be easy. 
As Connor looks into Drusilla's past, he knows that she is hiding something and with the help of his former police partner, Greg, they  delve further until they are almost certain that she is the culprit. All they need is the evidence.
But Connor and Dru's instant dislike for each other threatens to overshadow the real danger that is lurking in the diamond mine...

The story that unfolds is compelling, and the author's descriptions of the rural landscape compliment the story beautifully. 
Diamond mining was a topic that I knew little about prior to reading Diamond Sky, and Annie's descriptions of what is involved is expressed in great detail. I found it to be very informative and I gained a better understanding of the processes involved, including the high security rules and regulations.
The cast of characters are diverse, and I thought Dru was a really determined, strong woman, particularly when put under pressure.
The elements of mystery and romance appealed greatly to me. And how breath-taking is the book cover?! 
If you enjoy rural fiction packed with secrets and thrills, then I urge you to read Diamond Sky.

Diamond Sky is out now through Pan Macmillan Australia. It has an RRP of $29.99.
For further information, head here 

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Beauty & Lace Book Review: 
Ache - Eliza Henry-Jones

I have seen this book across my social media on many occasions and was glad to be given the opportunity to read a copy of it recently.
The story centres around Annie, who is married to Tom, and has a six-year-old daughter named Pip.
A year ago, a bushfire ripped through the mountains where Annie grew up.
Her mother's home was partially destroyed, and her beloved grandmother Gladys was killed when a tree toppled over, pinning her underneath. The entire close-knit community was affected.

Annie and Pip were there when the tragic events of that day panned out, but they managed to escape unscathed. However, a year on, and they are still both traumatised by the things they witnessed on that fateful day.
When Annie receives a call from her Uncle Len letting her know that her mother isn't coping well, Annie makes the decision to return back to the mountains, quitting her job at a vet clinic in the city, and taking Pip with her. She is hoping that the move back to the mountains will allow them both to begin to heal.
As the story continues, we are given a real insight into what the community experienced on the day of the bushfire; the lives, the homes, and the animals that were lost. 
The effects the bushfire has had on all of the residents and wildlife in the area is described exceptionally well. 
The trauma of the bushfire presents itself in many forms. In Annie's case, she experiences flashbacks, sleepwalking and nightmares. 
Young Pip regresses and insists on being called "Phillip". She wets the bed and lashes out at those trying to help her. And Annie's artist mother, Susan, isn't able to paint anymore, and instead spends her days baking dozens upon dozens of cupcakes. It is as though the bushfire has robbed these individuals of a piece of themselves in their hearts, their minds, and their being.
Eliza has done a remarkable job of portraying grief in many different forms. It is clearly evident that she has a background in grief and trauma counselling. She captures the way that it can become all-consuming and affect the way that we treat others and ourselves.
But this is also a book about having the courage to face the things that we don't think are possible.
If you are after a happy story, then this isn't it, although there are some funny parts woven in. 
But please don't let that deter you, as Ache is a riveting story of hope, and of learning to pick up the pieces again, and it definitely deserves all of the praise that it has been getting. 

Have you read Ache? If so, I'd love to hear what you thought of it. 

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of Ache through Beauty And Lace in exchange for an honest review. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website, you can head here
All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. I was not paid for this review. 

Friday, 30 June 2017

Children's Book Review - Ollie's Treasure by Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan 

When Ollie is given a letter containing a map for a treasure hunt from his beloved grandmother, he is glad to read that the treasure will be something that will 'make him happy always'. 
Initially, Ollie thinks that the treasure will be something fun like a game or toy that he has been hoping for, so he sets off on his quest with excitement.
The clues take him on a journey of his senses - he is told to look at the sky, smell flowers, feel the grass under his feet, and more.
Once he has completed the clues, he is quite astounded to discover that the treasure is not a toy or game, but is his very own self!
Through noticing all of the little things in his every day life, Ollie is able to realise that happiness comes not only from materialistic objects, but from deep within. 

This picture book sends a very important message to children in an uncomplicated way about encouraging mindfulness and living 'in the now.'
It is a lovely story that I am sure young readers would enjoy!
It is available through EK Books, and has a retail price of $24.99.
For further information on this title, head here 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Children's Book Review: Wild Animals Of The South by Dieter Braun 

Dieter Braun hails from Hamburg, Germany and is a freelance illustrator and children's book author. His previous works include Wild Animals Of The North.

In his latest work, Wild Animals Of The South, he depicts a range of beautiful animals that are from the southern hemisphere.
Divided into five regions, (Africa, South America, Asia, Australia, and Antarctica), the reader is taken on an exquisite visual journey with Dieter's stunning illustrations of animals such as the hummingbird, frilled-neck lizard, saltwater crocodile, hippopotamus, and spotted hyena. 
My two younger daughters adore this book, and have spent  a good deal of their time reading the descriptions of the various animals, and admiring the pictures.
The book is hard-covered, and features over 130 pages of illustrations and information that will enthrall both children and adults alike.

Wild Animals Of The South is available now through Walker Books, RRP $39.99

Monday, 26 June 2017

Book Review: The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster

It's the last week of Term 2 here, and I'm looking forward to the school holidays, especially as the weather is getting much colder now!
I've been busy reading some great books, including The Hidden Hours by Sara Foster. 
Have you heard of it, and/or read it yet? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. For those who haven't, you can read my review below to see if it's a book that you think that you'd enjoy..

Eleanor Brennan is 21 years-old, and living in London with her uncle and aunt after wanting a new start from her haunting childhood in outback Australia.
She lands a job at a children's publishing company, Parker & Lane, where her aunt is the CEO.
She has only been there for 3 weeks when she finds out that the director of the company, Arabella Lane, has been found dead in the Thames river, just hours after the company's annual Christmas party.
It isn't known whether Arabella jumped, or if she was pushed.
Eleanor remembers chatting with Arabella at the party, but after having her drink spiked, she can't recall much else. She begins to panic as she knows that she was one of the last people to see Arabella alive. She doesn't know whether she had anything to do with Arabella's death, and she struggles to convince herself of her innocence. It doesn't help when the Art Director, Will Clayton, claims that he saw the two women together at the party, or when Arabella's ring is found in Eleanor's handbag. She is unsure how it got there.. did she put it there herself, or has she been set up?
Eleanor is questioned as a witness but she finds it difficult to fill in the missing hours of that night.
Throughout the story, the pieces of the puzzle are slowly put together. There are many suspects, many secrets, and a lot of mystery involved which kept me highly intrigued.
The other storyline that runs throughout the book is the journey of Eleanor's childhood, and the reason why she wanted to make the change to a new country. I really enjoyed this element of the story, perhaps even more so than the mystery surrounding Arabella's death.
I must say that the ending fell a little flat for me. I was hoping for a bit more but it just felt a little bit disjointed. 
But don't be put off - if you are after a good mystery, then The Hidden Hours certainly fits the bill!

Disclosure: I was given an ARC of The Hidden Hours through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way. I was not paid for this review.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Book Review: Horace Winter Says Goodbye by Conor Bowman 

Horace Winter has been working in the same bank branch for 48 years.
Never married, with no children, he lived with his mother up until her death three years ago, and now continues to reside alone in the same home. 
His life has been rather unexceptional. 
He doesn't have any friends, but his passion is lepidopterology - the study of butterflies and moths. 

But just before his forced retirement from the bank, he is diagnosed with a very serious medical condition that makes him question the life that he has led (or rather, hasn't), up until that point. 
One day he discovers a letter that his father had written many years earlier to an ex-Corporal named Migsie Spring, and makes it his mission to get the letter to him come what may.
Even with his health rapidly deteriorating, he is given a new lease of life when he makes a friend from his neighbourhood, Amanda. He also befriends a young boy named Max.
His life suddenly becomes much more adventurous than it has ever been!
His determination also allows for Horace to finally gain some happiness and his change in attitude means he can forgive himself for his past.

Horace is a character I warmed to instantly. He did remind me of Ove (from the book A Man Called Ove), but I actually found him to be more endearing.
When we discover towards the end of the story that Horace was faced with a terrible tragedy that he suppressed for all these years, I felt sad for him, and it made me gain a better understanding of why he had lived the way that he had up until the point of his diagnosis.
I also enjoyed the way that Horace categorises humans as being either a butterfly or moth, according to their personality traits. It's quirky and clever.
This was an easy read, and highly enjoyable. 

Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of Horace Winter Says Goodbye through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not paid for this review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Book Review: Where's Wally? The Totally Essential Travel Collection by Martin Handford

Can you believe that it has been 30 years since Where's Wally? was first released? 
And to coincide with this great milestone, the Where's Wally? The Totally Essential Travel Collection is being released this June.

It features all seven of the classic Where's Wally? books in a handy travel-sized version, plus 6 postcards that you can colour in!
I have enjoyed the Where's Wally? series since my childhood, and now my children enjoy them too. 
It is fantastic to have something that we are all entertained by and can enjoy together.
I like that this book is a decent size, considering that it is a travel sized book. The illustrations aren't too small (but the items you need to look for do get trickier to spot as the book progresses). It also features fold-out checklists after each of the adventures. 
This will certainly keep you busy for hours on end! 
Released through Walker Books Australia, with an RRP of $19.99, it is available where all good books are sold. 

Do you enjoy Where's Wally? Which book from the series is your favourite? 

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

New Children's Book Releases from EK Books

A Kiwi Year by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

Mason, Charlotte (Charlie), Oliver, Ruby and Kaia are five Kiwi children ranging in age from 6-10 years old, and in A Kiwi Year, they take us on a journey through the 12 months of the year, exploring what life is like as a child in New Zealand.
The book covers celebrations, holidays, landmarks, and even native trees and animals too.
There is also information regarding New Zealand's regions in both the North and South Islands, as well as a detailed map.
The illustrations show all five children participating in various activities at school (including excursions), home, and out and about through cities and towns of New Zealand.
Due for release this month, with an RRP of $19.99
For further info, head here

A Canadian Year by Tania McCartney and Tina Snerling

In a similar fashion to A Kiwi Year, A Canadian Year features five young children who reside in Canada, and who take us on a journey through a year of life as a Canadian child.
Cloe, Oki, Ava, Liam, and Noah share with us their Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas celebrations, and visit places including the Toronto Zoo, Montreal Insectarium, and Vancouver Aquarium. 
What I really like about this hard-covered book, (as well as A Kiwi Year), is the layout.
The sentences are short, yet informative, making it ideal for even children of young age to understand. 
The illustrations are bright, and give readers a fantastic glimpse into all of the wonderful things there are to do and celebrate in Canada.
A Canadian Year is also due for release in June and has an RRP of $19.99 
For further info, head here

Ollie's Treasure by Lynn Jenkins & Kirrili Lonergan 

When Ollie is given a letter containing a map for a treasure hunt from his beloved grandmother, he is glad to read that the treasure will be something that will 'make him happy always'. 
Initially, Ollie thinks that the treasure will be something fun like a game or toy that he has been hoping for, so he sets off on his quest with excitement.
The clues take him on a journey of his senses - he is told to look at the sky, smell flowers, feel the grass under his feet, and more.
Once he has completed the clues, he is quite astounded to discover that the treasure is not a toy or game, but is his very own self!
Through noticing all of the little things in his every day life, Ollie is able to realise that happiness comes not only from materialistic objects, but from deep within. 

This picture book sends a very important message to children in an uncomplicated way about encouraging mindfulness and living 'in the now.'
It is a lovely story that I am sure young readers would enjoy!
It is available through EK Books, and has a retail price of $24.99.
For further information on this title, head here