Book Review – ‘Big Lies In A Small Town’ by Diane Chamberlain

Title: Big Lies In A Small Town
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Mystery & Thriller
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Pan Macmillan Australia on January 14th, 2020
RRP: $29.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

North Carolina, 2018: Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit, she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold—until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

North Carolina, 1940: Anna Dale, an artist from New Jersey, wins a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Edenton, North Carolina. Alone in the world and desperate for work, she accepts. But what she doesn’t expect is to find herself immersed in a town where prejudices run deep, where people are hiding secrets behind closed doors, and where the price of being different might just end in murder.

What happened to Anna Dale? Are the clues hidden in the decrepit mural? Can Morgan overcome her own demons to discover what exists beneath the layers of lies?

This book isn’t the kind that I would normally read, but it’s made me realize what amazing literary gems I’ve been missing because of my focus on YA and sci-fi/fantasy. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, dual narrators, different timelines and stories about small towns brimming with secrets, this is the book for you. And if like me, quite a few of those elements don’t normally appeal to you, DEFINITELY pick up this book because it’s highly engaging, overflowing with charm and features two female protagonists who you will root for right from the start!

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Book Review – ‘If I Never Met You’ by Mhairi McFarlane

Title: If I Never Met You
Author: Mhairi McFarlane
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Word/Page Count: 416 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on January 6th, 2020
RRP: $24.99 AUD (paperback)


Internationally bestselling author Mhairi McFarlane returns with another heartful romantic comedy perfect for fans of Josie Silver, Sophie Kinsella, or Sally Thorne.

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

It’s been ages since I’ve read a good romance and this book was absolutely delightful! I’m a sucker for the fake dating trope, and it was elevated to a whole new level here with irresistibly charming characters, wonderful friendships between both the main couple as well as the heroine and other ladies, plus a fantastic balance between heartfelt emotion and fun witty banter. I found myself close to tears at a few points and then grinning widely the next moment, the writing got me so invested in these people’s lives and loves!

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Book Review – ‘The Evolution of Claire’ by Tess Sharpe

Title: The Evolution of Claire
Author: Tess Sharpe
Genre: YA sci-fi
Word/Page Count: 400 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Scholastic Australia on May 1st, 2019
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

Discover the beginnings of one of Jurassic World ‘s most beloved characters–Claire Dearing–in this original action-packed young adult novel.

During the events of Jurassic World, Claire Dearing faced the savage fury of dinosaurs unleashed . . . but it wasn’t the first time. In this entirely new coming-of-age story, Claire lands an elite internship working for Simon Masrani and soon discovers his plans to build an all-new theme park–Jurassic World! Along the way, Claire establishes valuable relationships with both her peers and the prehistoric creatures she studies, but when the situation turns dangerous, she begins to see the dinosaurs in a different light. Fans of Jurassic World will delight in filling in the gaps of Claire’s past, all while gaining insights into the experiences that transformed her into the strong woman we know today.

This is such a brilliant movie tie-in! I’ve been a huge fan of Claire’s and loved Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance in the two Jurassic World movies, but there were some contradictory aspects of her character and inconsistencies that I couldn’t reconcile between the two movies. Being a huge action block-buster, the movies aren’t suitable for a character study, but The Evolution of Claire delves into her past and showcases the events and people who shaped her, providing the missing pieces to the puzzle.

What makes this book such a success is that if you’re already fond of Claire, it does justice to her character and will delight those who want more from her than the movies had room to provide. If you DIDN’T like Claire, there’s every chance that reading her coming-of-age story will win you over. 😉

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ARC Review – ‘One of Us Is Next’ by Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us Is Next
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: YA thriller
Word/Page Count: 308 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Penguin Australia on January 7th, 2020
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

The highly anticipated sequel to the New York Times bestselling thriller everyone is talking about, One of Us Is Lying! There’s a new mystery to solve at Bayview High, and there’s a whole new set of rules.

Come on, Bayview, you know you’ve missed this.

A ton of copycat gossip apps have popped up since Simon died, but in the year since the Bayview four were cleared of his shocking death, no one’s been able to fill the gossip void quite like he could. The problem is no one has the facts.

Until now.

This time it’s not an app, though—it’s a game.

Truth or Dare.

Phoebe’s the first target. If you choose not to play, it’s a truth. And hers is dark.

Then comes Maeve and she should know better—always choose the dare.

But by the time Knox is about to be tagged, things have gotten dangerous. The dares have become deadly, and if Maeve learned anything from Bronwyn last year, it’s that they can’t count on the police for help. Or protection.

Simon’s gone, but someone’s determined to keep his legacy at Bayview High alive. And this time, there’s a whole new set of rules.

This is the third book I’ve read by Karen M. McManus and my third 5-star rating, she can do no wrong in my eyes. ❤ All of her books have realistic characters that could practically walk off the page, the protagonists are endearing and easy to root for and she’s well-known for her killer plot twists! I didn’t expect a follow up to One of Us Is Lying as it felt like a self-contained story, but I am SO thrilled that One of Us Is Next came along because somehow, I loved this MORE than its predecessor. I didn’t think it was possible, but she outdid herself!

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ARC Review – ‘Oasis’ by Katya de Becerra

Title: Oasis
Author: Katya de Becerra
Genre: YA thriller
Word/Page Count: 320 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Pan Macmillan AU on January 7th, 2020
RRP: $26.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

The oasis saved them. But who will save them from the oasis?

Alif had exciting summer plans: working on her father’s archaeological dig site in the desert with four close friends . . . and a very cute research assistant. Then the sandstorm hit.

With their camp wiped away, Alif and the others find themselves lost on the sands, seemingly doomed . . . until they find the oasis. It has everything they need: food, water, shade—and mysterious ruins that hide a deadly secret. As reality begins to shift around them, they question what’s real and what’s a mirage.

The answers turn Alif and her friends against one another, and they begin to wonder if they’ve truly been saved. And while it was easy to walk into the oasis, it may be impossible to leave . . .

Katya de Becerra’s new supernatural thriller hides a mystery in plain sight, and will keep you guessing right up to its terrifying conclusion.

I adored Katya de Becerra’s debut What The Woods Keep so I was thrilled to hear she had a second YA novel coming out. Although this is nothing like the plot of her first novel, what I’ve come to see as her signature style is an outrageously unique and imaginative genre-bending premise featuring a smart, level-headed female protagonist who has at least one close friendship depicted as well as a minor hint of romance set against a creepy mind-blowing background.

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ARC Review – ‘A Heart So Fierce and Broken’ PLUS Interview with Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Heart So Fierce and Broken
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Genre: YA fantasy
Word/Page Count: 464 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Bloomsbury Australia on January 21st, 2020
RRP: $16.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

Find the heir, win the crown.
The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.
Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

‘A Heart So Fierce and Broken’ is the highly anticipated sequel to ‘A Curse So Dark and Lonely’, which shifts from the perspective of Harper and Rhen to fan favorite Grey and a new female protagonist, Lia Mara. This book deals with the fallout from Grey’s discovery of his status as the true heir to the throne and possessing latent magical abilities as well as Lia Mara’s efforts to broker peace between Emberfall and her kingdom of Syhl Shallow, despite her mother’s intent to dominate and conquer.

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Book Review – ‘The Story of the Comics (Marvel: Museum)’

Title: The Story of the Comics (Marvel: Museum)
Genre: Superhero, Comics
Word/Page Count: 96 pages
Publication Details: by Scholastic Australia on December 1st, 2019
RRP: $29.99 AUD (hardcover)


Welcome to the Marvel Museum. The museum is open all hours. It houses an astonishing collection of Marvel Comics artwork. Inside, you will discover extraordinary images of best loved characters from the Marvel archives, including The Avengers, Black Panther, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider Man, X Men and more!

Enter here to explore the remarkable history of the legendary Marvel Comics.

First things first, this book is MASSIVE. My picture doesn’t properly convey the size of this thing, it’s a coffee table book in the sense it could basically double as a coffee table top! So while it’s relatively slender, the length of the pages means that it’s jam-packed with noteworthy comic strips and covers  spanning the history of the Marvel universe, neatly packaged into chronological order with fascinating tidbits of trivia and insights into what went on behind the scenes.

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Book Review – ‘Strange Planet’ by Nathan W. Pyle

Title: Strange Planet
Author: Nathan W. Pyle
Genre: Graphic Novel, Comics
Word/Page Count: 144 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Hachette Australia on November 26th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (hardcover)


Blurb from Goodreads:

Straight from the mind of New York Times bestselling author Nathan W. Pyle comes an adorable and profound universe in pink, blue, green, and purple. Based on the phenomenally popular Instagram of the same name, Strange Planet covers a full life cycle of the planet’s inhabitants, including milestones such as:

The Emergence Day
Being Gains a Sibling
The Being Family Attains a Beast
The Formal Education of a Being
Celebration of Special Days
Being Begins a Vocation
The Beings at Home
Health Status of a Being
The Hobbies of a Being
The Extended Family of the Being
The Being Reflects on Life While Watching the Planet Rotate

With dozens of never-before-seen illustrations in addition to old favorites, this book offers a sweet and hilarious look at a distant world not all that unlike our own.

I adore the Strange Planet comics on Instagram so I was super excited to find out a book was being released with a collection of old favorites as well as some brand new ones!

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Book Tour – ‘The Long Distance Playlist’ by Tara Eglington

Title: The Long Distance Playlist
Author: Tara Eglington
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 432 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by Harper Collins Australia on December 16th, 2019
RRP: $19.99 AUD (paperback)


Blurb from Goodreads:

Told primarily in instant messenger conversations, Skype, emails and texts, this is Jaclyn Moriarty’s Feeling Sorry for Celia for the modern teen.

Taylor and Isolde used to be best friends – before THAT FIGHT, 18 months ago. It’s been radio silence ever since – until Taylor contacts Isolde to sympathise with her breakup: the breakup that she never saw coming; the breakup that destroyed her confidence and ended her dreams of joining the National Ballet School.

Taylor’s had his own share of challenges, including a life-altering accident that has brought his hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics to a halt.

Isolde responds to Taylor, to be polite. But what starts out as heartbreak-themed Spotify playlists and shared stories of exes quickly becomes something more.

And as Taylor and Isolde start to lean on each other, the distance between them begins to feel not so distant after all …

A boy. A girl. A one-of-a-kind friendship. Cross-country convos and middle-of-the-night playlists. With big dreams come even bigger challenges.

I decided to try something out of my comfort zone by picking this up as friends-to-lovers isn’t a trope I normally read, but I’m so glad I did because this blew me away! If you aren’t a fan of the trope, this book will make you a convert; if you already enjoy it, then prepare to swoon! The main characters are lovable and so endearing, the issues they face feel very relatable and the playlists ROCKED – so many of my fave songs were featured!

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Book Review – ‘The Man In The Water’ by David Burton

Title: The Man In The Water
Author: David Burton
Genre: YA Contemporary
Word/Page Count: 256 pages (paperback)
Publication Details: by University of Queensland Press on October 1st, 2019
RRP: $19.95 AUD (paperback)

The Man In The Water.jpg

Blurb from Goodreads:

When 16-year-old Shaun discovers a dead body in the lake of a quiet mining town in outback Queensland, he immediately reports it to the police. But when he returns to the site with the constable, the body is gone.

Now his mum and the authorities question whether he saw a body at all.

Determined to show the town the truth, Shaun and his best friend, Will, open their own investigation. But what they discover is far more sinister than a mining mishap or a murder, and reveals a darkness below the surface of their small mining town.

The Man in the Water is a coming-of-age YA thriller set in a rural mining town in Queensland and follows a teenager who launches an investigation into a mysterious dead body which promptly vanishes after he leaves to report it.

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