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The Paris Affair by Pip Drysdale

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After enjoying Pip Drysdale's twisty novel The Next Girl how could I resist picking up another of her novels, especially when The Paris Affair is set in the art world? Born in London, Harper Brown has moved to Paris to take up a job as an arts writer for a popular online journal and dreams of becoming an investigative reporter. After being used and cruelly dumped by an ex who is now an international rock star, Harper has sworn off love and romance and has employed a number of tactics that will keep her safe. From now on her primary focus will be her career and the chance to investigate the possibility that a serial killer is on the loose. But that becomes incredibly complicated when Harper meets artist Noah X, particularly when Sabrine, his wannabe girlfriend and an aspiring artist, winds up dead, the latest victim of the serial killer. Noah and his former wife each have their reasons for wanting Sabrine gone. But are they capable of murder? What happens when Harper starts taking

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Review: I Am Enough by Sheridan Stewart

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I Am Enough is the story of writer, speaker and broadcaster Sheridan Stewart's personal ninety day challenge to slow down and focus on self care. Constantly busy, the author found that she had little time to focus on the things that would help her to be content. Consequently, she came up with a personal what it means to have enough--by spending less, eating less and to stop overworking. The challenge became so life affirming that she decided to write it down to encourage others to undertake their own personal challenge. I picked this one up at my local Big W after what had been a challenging few months for me personally. Initially I was hesitant. After everything I'd been through did I really need to be considering a title like this one? Was it something I could blog about or would it become too personal. And what if this was really just a tell--all biography about the author's time in broadcasting, disguised as a self help book? (Spoiler, it truly isn't.) Anyway, I de

Review: Hang the Moon by Alexandria Bellefleur

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Written in the Stars was such a hit that Alexandria Bellefleur just had to write a sequel. This one focuses on Brendon, the younger brother of Darcy. Brendon is also an entrepreneur ... and a hopeless romantic who has secretly been crushing on his sister's best friend for years. When Annie makes a surprise visit to Seattle and discovers that Darcy is away, Brendon offers to show her around the city ... and Annie soon finds herself falling for Brendon. But that might be a little inconvenient, considering that she has just taken up an offer of a new job in London. Can Brendon convince Annie to stay? Or will she follow her head and not her heart? This was an entertaining read. Although it isn't quite as comical as Written in the Stars there are some amusing moments, particularly when it seems every time that Brendon and Annie go somewhere things go terribly wrong. (Including a somewhat awkward adventure on a Ferris wheel.) The writing is fluffy and fun, with a couple of steamy sc

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Review: Fed to Red Birds by Rijn Collins

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Magical, beautifully told and a little dark Fed to Red Birds is a story of acceptance and belonging. Elva is an Australian girl living in Iceland, the country where her mother was born and where her grandfather is the author of an extremely famous novel. When Elva's grandfather has a stroke, she is forced to confront the brutal realities of her childhood, ones that have cast a deep shadow over her present ... When this one arrived in my letterbox, beautifully wrapped and at Christmastime in Australia (and Jolabokflod in Iceland,) I was instantly intrigued. For those of us who have grown up in Australia there is often a sense of romanticism about Iceland, a place that seems so distant both geographically and in terms of climate and landscape. And this, it turns out is one of the central themes of the novel. Elva is struggling to come to terms with her new home--the customs, the language, the people--and the deep shadow that has been cast by her mother and by her grandfather's b

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Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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The Buendia family are a doomed lot, all of their grand plans always seem to come to nothing or, more often than not, end badly. Filled with magical realism, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of generations of the family and the time they spend in a small settlement with limited contact with the outside world.  I purchased a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude because it was one of those books. You know the kind. It constantly appears on lists with titles like Books You must Read Before You Die and is one that many authors and avid readers seem to mention in interviews. Apart from that, I knew little of the story. Consequently, the first quarter dragged quite a bit. Initially I made the false assumption that the actions of the Buendia family was a metaphor for human nature, but some of the themes started to feel a bit too oddly specific and I finally caught on that the author was, in fact, discussing Columbian history. After that, it felt more like the kind of book that

Review: The Favour by Nicci French

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Writing duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French are back with a chilling story of a good deed turned back. Everything in Jude's life is falling into place. She has a good job as a doctor--the career she always wanted--and she is about to marry the man she loves. Then Liam, the bad boy she briefly dated the summer before she started university, and who was driving the car in a terrible crash that Jude survived, appears and asks her for a favour. When Jude completes the favour--keeping it secret from her fiancé--she suddenly finds her life thrown into turmoil. Liam is dead, people are pointing the finger at her and who was her ex, really. Unable to let go of recent events, Jude finds herself in increasingly dangerous circumstances, while she discovers what she really meant to Liam ... The Favour certainly was a twisty novel. However the storytelling is let down a little by the slightly unbelievable premise, coupled with the protagonist's misplaced sense of guilt. It becomes increasing

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Review: Idol, Burning by Rin Usami, translated by Asa Yoneda

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A story of fandoms and what it means when your idol is everything  Idol, Burning is an interesting glimpse at fan culture and mental illness. Akari is not neurotypical but she has found enormous freedom in fan culture through her love of Masaki Ueno, who is part of a boy band. Barely able to concentrate at school and often bound by all kinds of anxieties, Akari is able to live freely online, keeping blogs and social media about her idol, or oshi. This becomes such an important part of her life that she is barely able to live without him. If anything, she is living for him, with much of her time and money devoted to the fandom and the privileges that come with being one of the biggest fans. But when Masaki is accused of assaulting a female fan, he slowly begins to fall from grace. And whether Akari likes it or not, she is going to have to find a way to live without him. This was an interesting glimpse into Japanese fan culture. I thought I knew fan culture and I thought I had seen obse

Review: Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

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What fun Written in the Stars, a novel about a fake relationship between a pair of complete opposites turned out to be. Elle Jones is outgoing, very interested in horoscopes and looking for her perfect match. When her friend and business partner of sorts Branden sets her up on a date with his sister, Darcy, the last thing Elle expects is that to find herself on a date with a woman who is gorgeous, but uptight and extremely rude--almost to the point of cruelty. But the biggest surprise is yet to come a few days later when Elle learns through Branden that Darcy has been raving about her--and her date--ever since. Keen to confront rude and horrible Darcy, Elle instead finds herself agreeing to a fake relationship, for reasons that will soon be obvious to the reader. But what happens when both of them start to catch ... feelings? This was a fun read, full of interesting characters and some truly heartwarming moments. Elle and Darcy are opposites in nearly every way, but each also seems to

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Review: Karen's Birthday by Ann M Martin & Katy Farina

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The latest Baby-Sitter's Little Sister graphic novel is an adaption of Karen's Birthday, the seventh novel in the original series, and the sixth in the graphic novel series. (It appears the series is skipping Karen's Little Sister, though the major plot points are touched upon briefly.) Once again, Karen's struggles of living between two separate and very different families is touched upon. Karen is about to turn seven and each of her families, the little house family and the big house family, are planning two very special events. The only trouble is, Karen doesn't want that. She wants to celebrate her birthday with both of her families. Will her birthday wish come true? Beautifully illustrated, the novel shows the six, almost seven, year old protagonist dealing with some big issues. On the surface, it seems that Karen is very lucky. Her parent's divorce was amicable, she gets along well with her new stepparents and step siblings and even though one of her hom

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Review: Well, That Was Unexpected by Jesse Q Sutano

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It is not very often that I have the opportunity to read a novel, let alone a YA novel, set in Indonesia, so when I saw a copy of Well, That Was Unexpected on the shelves at a local bookshop, I just had to snap it up. LA born Sharlot is on holiday to Indonesia with her mother, meeting her family for the first time. Meanwhile, George is from a wealthy family. With each of their families creating a convoluted scheme to match the pair, the last thing Sharlot and George expect is to fall for each other. While I loved the premise of this one, I found the storytelling a bit lacking. In many ways, it comes across as a teenage version of Crazy Rich Asians , but set in Indonesia and with a few more interfering relatives, particularly aunties. I also became more and more frustrated by the longer it took both Sharlot and George to realise that the online persona of the other was fake. There are a few fun moments though, and the backstory of Sharlot's mother certainly creates some thought-pro

Review: Saha by Cho Nam-Joo, Translated by Jamie Chang

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Saha offers a chilling glimpse at the perils of privatisation and corruption and ends with a far darker and haunting twist than I ever thought possible. Saha is set a privatised country known as Town. Town is controlled by a mysterious, unseen government body known as the Seven Premiers. The society within Town has been divided into two, the haves and the have-nots. (Does this sound familiar? It should.) The people who have the least of all live on the Saha Estate, a dilapidated housing estate. When one of the residents is accused of murder, his sister tries to get to the bottom of things. But what she uncovers about Town is the darkest and most shocking thing of all... This was a slow burn. The novel dragged for me a little, though the story was most definitely redeemed by its ending, one that had me pausing and thinking about it for days afterward. How did I not see--and become so shocked--by what should have been so obvious from the beginning? Just as Cho Nam-Joo's previous no

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Review: Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales

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Perfect on Paper was so brilliant that Sophie Gonzales just had to follow it up with another hit. Never Ever Getting Back Together is the story of Maya who is determined to get her sweet revenge on her cheating ex--on live television. Two years have passed since Maya's boyfriend, the cool and charismatic Jordy, moved to Canada and started cheating on her with Skye. Maya has done her best to put Jordy and the incident out of her mind, which isn't exactly easy, seeing as Jordy's older sister has married at European Prince and her whole family is now in a very public spotlight ... as are all of Jordy's past relationships. Jordy's solution? Star on a reality television program where he dates all six of his ex girlfriends and then pick the winner. It is just lucky that Maya can see the show--and Jordy--for what it is. And she is going to expose him. There is just one small problem. Once she starts working on the show, Maya finds herself falling in love ... with Skye. Th

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Review: Chippy Chasers: Chippy Jackpot by Sam Cotton

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Sam Cotton's debut graphic novel featuring a group of savvy seagulls is sure to delight readers of all ages. If there is one thing seagulls love, it is chips. It is just a pity that Stanley, Stacey and Steve-O have been deprived of their favourite food, thanks to the driver of a chip van who--while he makes delicious chips--also happens to be a cold hearted seagull swatter, which led to a tragic incident. Can the trio, and their friend worm, defeat Brock and get their share of chips? It is going to take friendship and a lot of innovation to make it work. This was a fun read from start to finish. I had a good giggle at some of the scenes and illustrations, many of which felt very relatable. (I grew up not so far from the ocean. These days it isn't a trip to Port Noarlunga, Christies Beach, Brighton or Glenelg if I'm not surrounded by seagulls on the hunt for chips. Of course, I know that they shouldn't be eating them, but ...) Anyway, this one is pure fun from beginning

Review: Can You Forgive Her by Anthony Trollope

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The first novel in Sir Anthony Trollope's beloved Palliser series is commentary on Victorian society and the lives of the women in it. The main plot tells the story of Alice Vavasor, the young lady the reader is asked to forgive. Previously engaged to her roguish cousin George, Alice has recently made what seems to be a much better match in John Grey, a gentleman in every sense of the word. It is a shame then that John Grey isn't terrible exciting, that George's sister Kate is prone to meddling and that now he is a little older George has lofty political aspirations that Alice approves of. All of which leads Alice to break things off with John and rekindle her engagement to George much to the disgust of all of her relatives except for Kate. From there, things go from bad to worse as George's true colours become increasingly obvious. Running parallel to this story is that of Alice's friend Lady Glencora who has to choose between a penniless rogue and an aspiring poli