Author: Wattle

Sunday Post #8

Posted 19th November 2017 by Wattle in Blog Hops & Memes / 13 Comments

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

I didn’t do one of these last week, but I’m back this week…with an awful lot of books added to my shelves, oops! Though in my defence, it took 6 weeks for half of them to arrive, and then they all came at once 😆

And I finally got back to roller derby this week, I hadn’t been for a while due to some health issues; so it was fun to start all over again. I can slow down now (still can’t stop haha) 😀

CURRENTLY READING
(All book covers in this post will take you to their respective Goodreads pages).

Yep. Still listening to the audio! I really do need to come up with a better way to listen to my books that isn’t at work, when I’m not focused on something 🙁 I’m not reading anything else at the moment, I just finished a book and haven’t decided what to pick up next.

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Well…the last two weeks:

Sunday Post #7
2017 HoHoHo Readathon
Book Review: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes
Letting The Fangirl Out #1
2017 HoHoHo Readathon Round-Up

NEXT WEEK ON THE BLOG

Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok
Book Review: By The Currawong’s Call by Welton B. Marsland

There may be a second book review, but I haven’t quite decided yet (I really should do posts in advance!)

NEW ON MY SHELVES

Bought:

E-books (Southern Spirits and Rescued were freebies):

Paperbacks (the last three are non-fiction). All the cozy mysteries! I’ve discovered a lot of the ones I want to read aren’t available on kindle (and if they are, I’m geoblocked 🙁 ) so physical books it is!

For Review:

None!

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2017 HoHoHo Readathon Round-Up

Posted 16th November 2017 by Wattle in Challenges / 4 Comments

It’s that time of year when the holiday and winter-themed books hit the bookshelves. It’s also time to sign up for the Fifth Annual HoHoHo Holiday/Winter Readathon! hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer. Gather up your favorite cocoa, comfort foods, holiday music and books and join in the fun!

This years event will run from Wednesday, November 8th through Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 pm.

I thought I’d post a quick round-up of the books I read during HoHoHoRAT this year! I managed 5 of the 6 novellas I had lined up to read. Unfortunately I had less time than I thought I would, so was pretty pleased with that effort. I’ll review three of them properly, so let’s start with the two that I won’t:

The Christmas Gift was actually two short stories that totalled about 15 pages, not 34. The rest was just synopsis of other Monica McInerney novels. I was a bit disappointed. The first story was great, it really packed an emotional punch for something so short. The second one was just a few paragraphs and…eh *shrugs* it was okay. I’ll probably read more by her though.

A Prairie Dog’s Love Song was really sweet, I love Eli Easton’s other Christmas novellas and this one was great too. I really hate reading accents though, so I don’t think I’ll be reading her other cowboy stuff 🙁 it was only 70-odd pages long and I would have loved if it were longer.

Now for the three I plan to review:

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt made me roll my eyes, but it also made me cry. Heh. It was cute. Holiday Outing and Sweet and Sour were both by Astrid Amara, I preferred the latter out of the two, it just flowed better. Both would have benefited from being longer. It was really neat to read about Hanukkah celebrations, that’s a first for me 🙂

As for my other goals, I did take part in two challenges. But failed at keeping up on Twitter 🙁 there’s always next year though!

I’ll be back to my regular posts next week, this past couple of weeks has been crazy, so I’m looking forward to catching up!

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Letting The Fangirl Out #1

Posted 12th November 2017 by Wattle in Letting The Fangirl Out / 14 Comments

I wasn’t actually sure what to call this post, so…there. I have a couple more gigs coming up over the next 6 months that aren’t my usual heavy metal in a nightclub sort…and last night was about as far away from metal as I can get.

Dad and I went to see Take That. People’s reactions to this have generally been, ‘are you fucking serious?’ because they don’t know me very well 😆

And if you don’t know who Take That are, think English boyband from the 90s. And then watch this:

They actually played that last night, boyband dancing and all. And the only thing that was in my head was that video ^ and I laughed the entire way through it hahaha

There’s only 3 of them these days (they started with 5, then were 4, then broke up, and on it goes).

Apparently they were out here 22 years ago, but I was in Papua New Guinea then. I grew up on the musical diet that MTV Asia served (UK top 40, J-Pop and K-Pop), when we returned to Australia everyone was into the Backstreet Boys and I was all about Boyzone, 911, Take That, Caught in the Act, the list goes on and on (and on lol)

Don’t get me wrong, I like BSB well enough, but I think all those UK groups far outstripped them in talent and terrible music videos 😛

Take That weren’t my favourites (though they gave me Robbie Williams ♥ ) but they were up there.

And they were pretty damn amazing last night. It didn’t seem like anything was missing. Their band was excellent, they were excellent. Their dancing was hilarious (and I’m pretty sure they just do it to certain songs to take the piss – also they obviously have perfect knee joints to be bouncing around like that 😆 )

The crowd was mainly my age and older, lots of reluctant husbands in tow (and I mainly heard English accents all night, so I guess the expats were out in force!) some had brought their kids who all had their grumpy faces on by the end of the night lol

It was good fun, I’m glad I went. But I do wish they wouldn’t let people bring alcohol into venues like that, particularly if it’s an all ages event. Let them drink outside, but not during. We had an incident where a lady went a bit crazy when Dad accidentally knocked over a glass of wine she had left in the middle of the row, where people walk to get past. She had already had a few and her husband spent 15 minutes talking her down. It was an accident but having her spit ‘what’s he done to rectify it?!’ and hissing and swearing at her husband about wine possibly being all over his expensive shoes took the shine off the night.

It’s the second large concert I’ve been to in a row where drunk people have ruined the experience. The last one was Adele, where a guy who was off his face got really angry at a security guard for blocking his view, and then got all sappy and apologetic later on. I spent half the time expecting him to punch someone and get thrown out.

And the funny thing? I’ve never had an experience like that at rock or metal gigs, which are usually in bars or nightclubs! I did have beer spilled all over me once, but that’s what you expect in a mosh pit (if you can move).

I’m not entirely sure what the point of this post was. But it was pretty cool to see a boyband from my tween days now I’m in my 30s, I think they’d put most current acts to shame.

I just found this gem on YouTube, I am so amused. And I’m waffling, so I’m going to end here.

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Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes

Posted 8th November 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 18 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #15: A Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen HughesA Fatal Collection by Mary Ellen Hughes
Series: Keepsake Cove Mystery #1
Published by Midnight Ink on November 8th 2017
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 264
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Callie Reed makes a long overdue visit to her aunt Melodie, who lives in a fairy-tale cottage in quaint Keepsake Cove, home to a bevy of souvenir and collectible shops on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Just as they’re beginning to reconnect, Callie discovers her aunt’s body on the floor of her music box shop. Grief-stricken, Callie finds she can’t accept Melodie’s death being called accidental. How could her strong and healthy aunt take such a fatal fall? And why was she there in the middle of the night?

As Callie searches for the truth, signs seem to come from her late aunt through a favorite music box, urging Callie on. Or are they warnings? If Callie isn’t careful, she could meet a similar deadly fate amid Melodie’s collection.

A Fatal Collection is my first experience of Mary Ellen Hughes and it certainly won’t be my last! I was a bit worried because this started at breakneck speed, and I thought it would continue that way and be a nightmare pacing wise; but it was really enjoyable.

The mystery starts almost straight away. Callie is visiting her Aunt Melodie for the first time in years, they spend an evening catching up; but the next morning Callie awakes to find her Aunt dead in her own store. Her death is quickly ruled an accident, and as Callie is preparing to return home she’s told that she has inherited everything.

She sees this as an opportunity for a fresh start and to leave her deadbeat boyfriend (I’m so glad he only featured in phone calls!) But she’s unsettled by how quickly everything was resolved, and wonders if there’s more to her Aunt’s death.

Keepsake Cove is a community of people with stores that sell collectibles (I found that a bit ridiculous, but I guess perhaps somewhere it could be a thing). Melodie’s store sells music boxes, and Callie takes her time to learn all the stock in the shop and goes on a mission to meet the other shop owners in the area.

There’s some interesting small community dynamics going on here, with some bickering between parties and some suspicious folk around. I enjoyed the secondary characters and I hope we see more of them in the future. There’s also a slight hint at a potential romance that was pretty cute, but in no way impacted on the main plot.

I liked that Callie wasn’t chummy with the police, and indeed, they barely featured at all. I did peg the murderer soon after meeting them, they just didn’t seem right to me. And I do enjoy being right haha

After the initial ‘whoa this is happening really quickly!’ moment at the start, the pacing turned out to be great. It flowed at a steady pace and the writing certainly kept me engaged.

This was a really enjoyable cozy mystery, though a bit predictable. I’m definitely looking forward to continuing the series!

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-stars
Pacing
three-half-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 3.9

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2017 HoHoHo Readathon

Posted 7th November 2017 by Wattle in Challenges / 18 Comments

It’s that time of year when the holiday and winter-themed books hit the bookshelves. It’s also time to sign up for the Fifth Annual HoHoHo Holiday/Winter Readathon! hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer. Gather up your favorite cocoa, comfort foods, holiday music and books and join in the fun!

This years event will run from Wednesday, November 8th through Wednesday, November 15th at 11:59 pm.

This year I have chosen some fun, short Christmas and holiday reads. I’m aiming for 6 over the week (but will be happy to make 5!) Book covers will take you to their respective Goodreads pages 🙂

Sweet & Sour and Holiday Outing by Astrid Amara are both m/m Hanukkah novellas, and I’m really looking forward to reading them. The others should be good fun too!

Oops I forgot, I also intend to take part in at least two challenges! And use the #hohohorat tag on Twitter to share my progress (and stalk everyone else’s!)

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Sunday Post #7

Posted 5th November 2017 by Wattle in Blog Hops & Memes / 32 Comments

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

This week has been…something. Work was completely insane as it was month end, and I was all on my own. The trouble with having deadlines like this is that one week is super stressy while the rest of the month is pretty cruisy.

I decided to change my degree at uni in the midst of all this. I’ve been thinking about it since I dropped the current semester. Environmental Science and Marine Science just hasn’t turned out to be what I was expecting. So I’ve requested a change to Genetics & Molecular Biology with Biological Sciences as a secondary major (yes, I can still make it about plants and the environment!) I won’t find out if it’s approved or not until mid-December, but as it’s not a restricted course it should be fine 🙂

It’s been quite warm this weekend, so I went clothes shopping yesterday 😮 I bought shorts! I usually spend summer wearing skirts; but my preference is for trousers/jeans/not skirts. I’ve hated shorts forever but I now own 4 pairs. Madness!

CURRENTLY READING
(All book covers in this post will take you to their respective Goodreads pages).

Still listening to Case Histories (I’m very slow with audio, since I tend to listen to them at work), and I started The Cosy Christmas Chocolate Shop yesterday. I was pretty peeved with it at 12% but it’s got a bit better (not very Christmassy at all though, I’m disappointed!)

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Sunday Post #6
Book Review: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna
Book Review: The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morrey

NEXT WEEK ON THE BLOG

2017 HoHoHo Readathon goal post

And I’m not sure what else yet, it shall be a surprise for everyone!

NEW ON MY SHELVES

Bought:

I don’t buy box sets like this often, but I just couldn’t resist. It’ll give me an opportunity to try some new to me authors 🙂 I also pre-ordered a couple of other box sets, but they totally don’t count this week!

For Review:

None!

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Book Review #14: The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morrey

Posted 1st November 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 14 Comments

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review #14: The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine MorreyThe Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morrey
Published by HQ Digital on November 3rd 2017
Genres: Chick Lit, Christmas, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: E-Book
Source: NetGalley
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: two-stars

Come home for Christmas to the Best Little Christmas Shop – the snowiest, cosiest place you can be!

Home for the holidays…

Icing gingerbread men, arranging handmade toys and making up countless Christmas wreaths in her family’s cosy little Christmas shop isn’t usually globe-trotter Lexi’s idea of fun. But it’s all that’s keeping her mind off romance. And, with a broken engagement under her belt, she’s planning to stay well clear of that for the foreseeable future…until gorgeous single dad Cal Martin walks through the door!

Christmas takes on a whole new meaning as Lexi begins to see it through Cal’s adorable five-year-old son’s eyes. But, finding herself getting dangerously close to the mistletoe with Cal, Lexi knows she needs to back off. She’s sworn off love, and little George needs a stability she can’t provide. One day she’ll decide whether to settle down again – just not yet.

But the best little Christmas shop in this sleepy, snow-covered village has another surprise in store…

DNF at 42%

*sigh* I don’t normally review books I don’t finish, however I’m making an exception. I’ve found that I like reading other’s reviews of DNF reads (particularly of books I like!) because it’s neat to get a different perspective.

I was drawn to this novel because of the cover – look at it, it’s so cute! And the synopsis sounded promising. I tried really hard to finish The Best Little Christmas Shop, as I didn’t want to give up on it. But I just couldn’t do it.

It started out so well. Lexi had returned home after a period away and some drama in her work and personal life. Her family runs a store that changes with the season, and in the lead up to Christmas there’s some serious wreath making and decorating going on.

I liked Lexi’s family, well, mainly one of her brothers. Their relationship seemed sweet and I was hoping that feel would continue throughout. But then we met the love interest, Cal, and it all fell apart.

Unfortunately there was no chemistry between Cal and Lexi at all. She seemed to misunderstand most of what he said, only for him to have to reassure her that he didn’t mean it like that.

Another thing that annoyed me was her constant comparisons of herself and other women (eg: her best friend), how she’s not feminine and delicate, what does anyone see in her. Gosh. And there was a passing thought of another lady not having pure intentions when it came to interacting with Cal (heaven forbid he possibly has female friends that aren’t her friends too).

The stereotypes of women really grated on my nerves, I can’t stand it when women put themselves, or others, down because they don’t meet the supposed expectations of society and what it is to be female. I just couldn’t enjoy this story at all; though George, Cal’s young son, was adorable.

I did read the end to make sure I didn’t want to continue to see how that played out, and all it did was make me roll my eyes so…nope.

I’m sure plenty out there will enjoy this book as a bit of fun, Christmassy, escapism. But it just wasn’t for me.

Rating Report
Plot
one-star
Characters
one-star
Writing
two-half-stars
Pacing
two-stars
Cover
four-stars
Overall: 2.1

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Book Review #13: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna

Posted 30th October 2017 by Wattle in Books, Reviews / 12 Comments

Book Review #13: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. HannaA Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna
Series: Oxford Tearoom Mysteries #1
Published by Wisheart Press on January 17th 2016
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 335
Format: E-Book
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When an American tourist is murdered with a scone in Gemma Rose’s quaint Oxfordshire tearoom, she suddenly finds herself apron-deep in a mystery involving long-buried secrets from Oxford’s past.

Armed with her insider knowledge of the University and with the help of four nosy old ladies from the village (not to mention a cheeky little tabby cat named Muesli), Gemma sets out to solve the mystery—all while dealing with her matchmaking mother and the return of her old college love, Devlin O’Connor, now a dashing CID detective.

But with the body count rising and her business going bust, can Gemma find the killer before things turn to custard?

A Scone to Die For is the first book in a cozy mystery series – Oxford Tearoom Mysteries. I was drawn to it because Lola reviewed it on her blog, and the cover is so cute! I’m a sucker for a cutesy cozy cover.

Cozy mystery staples: Cats? Check. Baking? Check. For some reason the main character finds herself investigating a murder despite police involvement? Check.

This little novel was very easy to read and went along at a good pace, but some things I found weird/annoying. For example:

  • Cassie’s exasperation at Gemma’s simple curiosity about a piece of paper she saw felt too strong and really odd.
  • Gemma missed Jaffa Cakes while in Sydney. If I can go to a supermarket in Perth (and before that, an independent grocery or British food shop) and find them in every international section, I’m SURE you can get them in Sydney! I love Jaffa Cakes, and have been getting them here for 20 years.
  • Am I nitpicking? I feel like I’m nitpicking.
  • Devlin’s need to over-explain things felt like he thought Gemma was stupid, which in turn made me dislike him a bit. And why would he even discuss a case with her in such detail? They’ve not seen each other for 8 years!

On the plus side, I liked much of it:

  • The old ladies were a delight; sticking their noses in and doing a bit of sleuthing.
  • I twigged who the killer was right before Gemma did, talk about stressful! This one had a pretty good mystery, and it kept me guessing. I had conversations with myself that went: “No…wait…could it be? Too obvious. Or is it? Maybe the author is trying to psych me out…” and so on.
  • Gemma herself is a good main character, she’s believable and likeable; even if she does make some questionable decisions.
  • Cats! Recipes! Is it a true cozy without at least one of these things? Bonus points for both haha. I love that Muesli is based on the author’s cat (who is adorable) look at that face!

Overall this was a good cozy mystery, but had a few flaws with characterisation in my opinion; not everyone seemed natural. But I’m sure as the series goes on and I get to know everyone better, it will all gel together (having now read a few of these books, I am correct. This seems to be the case with a lot of cozy series!)

It did make me realise that I prefer my cozies set in the UK. I’m not entirely sure why, it’s probably all the BBC tv shows I watch starring amateur detectives (or maybe it’s just Midsomer Murders, which seems to always be on, and I always watch it!) I’ve read a number of American ones, but quaint and English is definitely my preferred setting.

If you like cozy mysteries (and sweet foods) I would definitely recommend this for a lazy day of reading! It’s a good start to a series that just gets better as it goes along.

Also, the first book is currently free on Amazon (kindle) 🙂

Rating Report
Plot
four-stars
Characters
four-stars
Writing
four-half-stars
Pacing
four-stars
Overall: 4.1

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Sunday Post #6

Posted 29th October 2017 by Wattle in Blog Hops & Memes / 34 Comments

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.

What did I do last week? *ponders* I saw Thor: Ragnarok, and it was super duper fun and great and I really liked it, but I didn’t love it. There’s a couple of things that unsettled me…I need to see it again to make sure (oh no, how awful for me) and then I think I’ll review it.

CURRENTLY READING
(All book covers in this post will take you to their respective Goodreads pages).

I’m still reading The Best Little Christmas Shop 🙁 it’s taking me forever. Case Histories is an abridged version, which I would usually avoid; but it’s narrated by Jason Isaacs soooo…I made an exception haha

LAST WEEK ON THE BLOG

Sunday Post #5
Book Review: Taken by Jennifer Dawson
A Trip Down Memory Lane: Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry

NEXT WEEK ON THE BLOG

Book Review: A Scone to Die For by H.Y. Hanna
Book Review: The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morrey*

*If I finish it by release date, yikes!

NEW ON MY SHELVES

Bought:

For Review:

And that’s it this week. I hope you’re all having a great weekend!

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A Trip Down Memory Lane #1: Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry

Posted 27th October 2017 by Wattle in A Trip Down Memory Lane / 14 Comments

I finally decided to start this feature I’ve had simmering (and on my features page) for the past year or so. And I’m opening it up with a very special book.

A Trip Down Memory Lane #1: Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite HenryBrighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Published by Rand McNally on September 15th 1978 (first published January 1st 1953)
Genres: Childrens
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: five-stars

Long ago, a lone little burro roamed the high cliffs of the Grand Canyon and touched the hearts of all who knew him: a grizzled old miner, a big-game hunter, even President Teddy Roosevelt. Named Brighty by the prospector who befriended him, he remained a free spirit at heart. But when a ruthless claim-jumper murdered the prospector, loyal Brighty risked everything to bring the killer to justice.

Brighty's adventures have delighted generations of readers, and he has become the symbol of a joyous way of life. Some people say that you can even see his spirit roving the canyon on moonlit nights-forever wild, forever free.

When I was a kid, I pretty much lived on a diet of Enid Blyton books and fairy tales. We’d visit the library often and I’m pretty sure I read my way through the entire children’s section; good times.

In 1995, when I was 11, my folks took me on a trip to the USA. We flew with Ansett Australia (they don’t exist anymore!), I got a horrific ear infection when we had a short layover in Cairns (we had to fly from Papua New Guinea back down to Australia to go overseas) that turned into a week because I wasn’t allowed to fly. I’ve suffered from ear infections my entire life and that one still has me cringing!

There’s a few things I remember from that trip.
1) I loved my walkman and every time we were in the car I’d be listening to it (much to my parents disgust), my jam at the time was the Broadway Grease soundtrack and various boybands haha
2) The Trees of Mystery in California are amazing
3) Alcatraz Island was the best part of the trip (probably because the self guided tours involved bright yellow walkmans)
4) The Grand Canyon and ALL THE SQUIRRELS (this is where my love of squirrels started and has never ceased, I will ALWAYS take a photo of a squirrel over everything else).

And this book.

We flew to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas (I think…) in a small plane, the trip there was fine; but on the way back we were going down the runway and the pilot pulled the plane up short, said it wasn’t right, and then we were there for 4 hours. There was nothing to do at that time of day, so we spent an awful lot of time in the gift shop, and my parents bought me Brighty of the Grand Canyon to stop me complaining about being bored.

I must have read that book at least three times while we were travelling. And then a few more times when we got home again. Dad was all ‘why do you keep reading this book?’ and then read it too (and bent the cover, THE HORROR).

It’s been many years since I last read it. I’m almost too scared to at this point, what if it doesn’t live up to my memories? What if it does? Will it still make me cry?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to re-read it, but it will always bring back fond memories. This was the first book I truly loved.

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