Theme Reveal – #atozchallenge

April A-Z Challenge

One of the highlights in the blogging year for me, is the April A-Z Challenge. I have participated every year since 2015 on each of my three blogs. One year, I even took the challenge full on and participated on two blogs. This was a huge committment and I really didn’t enjoy it that year, as I was constantly under pressure, for the entire month. But every other year, I have loved this challenge and found so many positives in being involved.

The 2020 April A-Z Challenge is now almost here. Starting on April 1, the challenge is to publish a post every day in April, except for Sundays. That makes 26 day, so one day for each letter of the alphabet. April 1 is A, and so on through the month to Z.

Using this premise, you would start beginning April 1, with a topic on something with the letter A, then on April 2, another topic with the letter B, and so on until you finish on April 30, with a topic based on letter Z. The theme for each day is the scheduled letter for the day.

This challenge started in 2010, when it was first presented to bloggers, who didn’t hesitate to get on board. The number of bloggers participating every year has grown and is now huge. Also huge, are the variety of blogs and blog topics.

Theme Reveal 2020

Most bloggers choose a theme for the A-Z Challenge, but it’s not necessary. Today, there is much excitement amongst the participating bloggers, as today is ‘Theme Reveal Day.’

My theme is Book Reviews. Each day in April, I will post a new book review from A-Z. Books reviewed will be all genres. My only stipulation is that they are books that I have read. My policy is that I don’t review books that I have not read.

I am very much looking  forward to reading about the themes that have been chosen by other bloggers. This is part of the fun of the A-Z Challenge.

I would love you to join me. To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge:

You can find my other blogs here: Next Phase In Fitness & Life and Tracking Down The Family

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WWW Wednesday

I came across WWW Wednesdays through a book bloggers link up, and was immediately interested in the premise. The blog was Taking on a World of Words .

The idea of WWW Wednesday is to publish a post answering three questions. Those questions are:

  •  What are you currently reading?
  •   What did you recently finish reading?
  •   What do you think you will read next?

It isn’t my intention for WWW Wednesdays to be a review post but just a short post about what I’m reading and what might be in my tbr pile. I’m also going to include audio books listened to, so there may be two books mentioned in the answer to each question.

Currently reading

The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science

The Cloud Leopard's Daughter (The Smuggler's Wife #4)

The Cloud Leopard’s Daughter by Deborah Challinor Book #4 in the Smugglers Wife series.  Audiobook

Recently finished reading

Band of Gold (The Smuggler's Wife #3)

Band of Gold by Deborah Challinor:  Book #3 in the Smuggler’s Wife series. #audiobook

Reading next

The Pilgrimage : A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom - Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho An account of the author’s pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, across Spain

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

Linked to WWW Wednesday

Images: Goodreads and Booktopia

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WWW Wednesday

n.

I came across WWW Wednesdays through a book bloggers link up, and was immediately interested in the premise. The blog was Taking on a World of Words .

The idea of WWW Wednesday is to publish a post answering three questions. Those questions are:

  •  What are you currently reading?
  •   What did you recently finish reading?
  •   What do you think you will read next?

It isn’t my intention for WWW Wednesdays to be a review post but just a short post about what I’m reading and what might be in my tbr pile. I’m also going to include audio books listened to, so there may be two books mentioned in the answer to each question.

Currently Reading

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time: by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The inspiring account of one man’s campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia.

Band of Gold (The Smuggler's Wife #3)

Band of Gold by Deborah Challinor:  Book #3 in the Smuggler’s Wife series

Recently Finished Reading

Charlotte Pass

Charlotte Pass by Lee Chrtistine: A shocking discovery deep in the Snowy Mountains. A killer who will do anything to keep secrets buried

Reading Next

The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. Stories of personal triuh from the frontiers of Brain Science.

 Linked to WWW Wednesday

Images: Goodreads

© 2020 Copyright. All rights reserved: bestbookishblog.com

 

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 

The Shadow of the Wind – The Cemetary of Forgotten Books #1

The Shadow of the Wind : Shadow of the Wind Series - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Summary

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love
Blurb

My Thoughts

This book had me hooked from the start. I loved the story of the young boy who was taken to the cemetery of forgotten books and told to choose a book. As the book progressed and the child became older, his life almost mirrored the life of the book he had chosen.There were many parallels between the life of the child and the author.  l found the story riveting and couldn’t leave it alone.

There is a theme of death throughout this novel, from start to finish, which raises its head in many different forms. The writing is beautiful. There were many passages, that, though romantic, had me laughing out loud.

There were a few things about the narrative, however, that grated a little. At times, there were aspects to the story and sequence of events that didn’t seem to me to be believable. Also, the conversations at times seemed a little stilted, but that could be because this book was translated from Spanish to English.

The things that annoyed me were few and far between, and I was able to put them to the side, so they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the story.

In the edition that I read there were bonuses at the end – an interview with the author, discussion notes and an illustrated Shadow of the Wind walk through the streets of Barcelona. I especially enjoyed the illustrated walk. It was the icing on the cake of this novel for me. 

Recommendation

“If you thought the true gothic novel died with the 19th century, this will change your mind. Shadow is the real deal. Be warned, you have to be a romantic at heart to appreciate this stuff, but if you are this is one gorgeous read” – Stephen King

“Zaffron’s tightly plotted thriller, is sharp, sexy, gothic (perhaps even a little goulish), powerfully atmospheric, often funny and utterly unputdownable – Australian

Quotes

Few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart.

Death was like a nameless and incomprehensible hand…like a hellish lottery ticket. But I couldn’t absorb the idea that death could actually walk by my side, with a human face and a heart that was poisoned with hatred.

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

About the author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he has lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and works as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

This edition was published by Text Publishing, Melbourne in 2001.
Paperback, 536 pages

Thanks to my friend Kerryn for recommending this book

WWW Wednesdays

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I came across WWW Wednesdays through a book bloggers link up, and was immediately interested in the premise. The blog was Taking on a World of Words .

The idea of WWW Wednesday is to publish a post answering three questions. Those questions are:

  •  What are you currently reading?
  •   What did you recently finish reading?
  •   What do you think you will read next?

It isn’t my intention for WWW Wednesdays to be a review post but just a short post about what I’m reading and what might be in my tbr pile. I’m also going to include audio books listened to, so there may be two books mentioned in the answer to each question.

Currently Reading

Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole

Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold: This story is told through the eyes of a dog as it makes it’s way through life, experiencing all the ups and downs, such as ageing, death, separation, friendship and much more. The author was born in Norway and this book has been translated into English.

Unsolved (Invisible, #2)

Unsolved by James Patterson & David Ellis – Audio book: The second book in the Invisible series featuring FBI agent Emma Dockery.

Recently Finished Reading

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George: A lovely story for booklovers about a bookshop on a restored bargeon the Seine. The bookshop owner calls himself a ‘literary apothecary’. He has a sense of which book is the right book for each of his customers.

The Memory

The Memory – audiobook. A psychological thriller about families and the secrets they keep from each other.

Reading Next

Charlotte Pass

Charlotte Pass by Lee Christine: I know very little about this book, as usually, I like to start reading a book without knowing what to expect. I do know that the story is a crime, set in the Snowy Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.

Making Peace

Making Peace by Fiona McCallum – audiobook: Does one single act of kindness have the power to turn someone’s life around. This sounds interesting.

Link to WWW Wednesday

Images: Goodreads

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Book Review: The Good Cop by Justine Ford #aussieauthor20

Summary

In an incredible twenty-five year career as a homicide detective, Ron Iddles’ conviction rate was 99%. Yet that only partly explains why Iddles is known to cops and crims alike as ‘The Great Man’.

Tough, inventive and incorruptible, stoic in the face of senseless horror yet unafraid to shed tears for a victim, Ron has applied his country cunning and city savvy to over 320 homicide cases – some of them the most infamous, compelling and controversial crimes in the nation’s history. To the victims of crime, Ron is both a shoulder to cry on and an avenging angel.

Ron Iddles never gave up on a ‘lost’ cause. He became a regular on the nightly news – the dogged face of Australian justice. Working long hours, dodging bullets, chasing leads and outwitting killers, Ron would tell his teams: ‘The answer is just one call away’. And in 2015, that belief saw him crack Victoria’s oldest unsolved homicide, yet another remarkable feat in a life devoted to keeping the public safe.

This is the extraordinary inside story of a real crime crusader. Ron Iddles. The Good Cop.

My Thoughts

I had been looking forward to reading this book since I heard about it’s publication. After watching Ron Iddles on TV, for many years and recently listening to him on various podcasts, I felt as though I knew him. On reading this book, I found that there was so much more to him than I had seen from snippets on the TV news. Ron Iddles is much more than the top Homicide cop we know him as.

From the very first page this book had me hooked. The first crime discussed was a case that I was very familiar with. The second case involved people that I knew. And on it went. Exposing behind the scenes information and what it took for Ron Iddles to solve the many homicides that occured  in Victoria.

I have always been interested in true crime and have watched the progress of local cases in the press. I loved the back story to these cases that is presented in this book.

As well as Ron Iddles, Victoria’s top cop, we also get to meet Ron Iddles, the person. I would Recommend this book to anyone interested in true crime and how these crimes are solved. I would describe The Good Cop as part biography and part true crime.
– Goodreads

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the author: Justine Ford is a TV producer and journalist with a background in news and current affairs. She was a presenter on the top rating crime series, Australia’s Most Wanted. Her producing credits include the hot shows Missing Persons Unit, Border Security, RPA and Random Acts of Kindness. Justine has also worked as a radio producer/presenter and as a magazine features writer.

Published on 26 July 2016, by McMillan Australia. Paperback 368 pages

The tribute below to Ron Iddles was recently painted on the wall of a lane way in his home town, Rochester – artist, Tim Bowtell, Samaria, Victoria.

This review is linked to lovelyaudiobooks

#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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Book Review: The White Earth by Andrew McGahan

Summary

After his father’s death, young William is cast upon the charity of an unknown great-uncle, John McIvor. The old man was brought up, expecting to marry the heiress to Kuran Station—a grand estate in the Australian Outback—only to be disappointed by his rejection and the selling off of the land. He has devoted his life to putting the estate back together, and has moved into the once-elegant mansion.

McIvor tries to imbue William with his obsession, but his hold on the land is threatened by laws entitling the Aborigines to reclaim sacred sites. William’s mother desperately wants her son to become John McIvor’s heir, but no one realizes that William is ill and his condition is worsening.

Issues covered are Native Title legislation, the Mabo decison and Australian politics.

My Thoughts

When I first began to read this book, I had no idea what it was about. I wasn’t far into it when I realised this was the perfect book for me to read, in the week of Australia Day.

The setting is the Darling Downs in Queensland, spanning a time frame of 150 years. I really enjoyed the sense of place and landscape that this novel evoked. I loved it’s Australian-ness.

The publicity material describes this book as ‘part family saga, part history and part gothic thriller’. I agree with that completely. I do love a family saga and a historical novel, but the mention of gothic really had me intrigued. I’m not really interested in gothic or ghost stories, but I found the story to be entirely believable.

There is so much to this novel, including multiple themes but I would prefer to say less rather than more for fear of spoiling the reading experience for someone who picks up this book.

William was a lovely, beautiful, innocent young boy, but he was surrounded by very unattractive and flawed characters. This gave a dark and sinister feeling to the story. The characterisations by the author, I felt were brilliant.

I listened to this as an audio book. It didn’t lose any of the tension of gothicness in that form at all. The narrator, Edwin Hodgeman, an actor of many decades, was able to portray the darkness of certain characters and events in the story.

Recommendations

Winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 2005.
Winner of The Age Book of the Year Award in 2004

“…..The White Earth has all the trappings of a classic supernatural tale, and McGahan seamlessly blends the factual elements with the preernatural dimensions – the ghosts of black and white that haunt the landscape”  – The Age

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Andrew McGahan, was an Australian novelist, born 1966, in Queensland, Australia. He passed away in 2019 at age 52. He is  best known for his first novel Praise, and for his Miles Franklin Award-winning novel The White Earth. His novel Praise is considered to be part of the Australian literary genre of grunge lit.

This review is linked to lovelyaudiobooks.info
#2020 AussieAuthorChallenge

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Books read in January

Goodreads tells me that I’ve read 9 books in January. To many, that probably doesn’t sound like many books read in a whole month. but it’s about average for me. Working, writing reviews, blogging on three blogs, along with everything else in my life doesn’t leave a huge amount of time for reading. I dream of the time in the future, when I’m retired, and have more time to devote to reading.

Audio Books

Four books on the January list are audio books. It’s my opinion that it’s appropriate to include audio books as ‘books read’.

  • The White Earth by Andrew McGahan
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh
  • Talking To My Country by Stan Grant

I would very much prefer to read a paper book over listening to an audio book. However, audio books are what save me from boredom on my long drive to work and home. My drive to work is 45 minutes both ways, so that gives me 90 joyful minutes of audio books listening every day.

2020 Aussie Author Challenge

I am participating in the #2020aussieauthor challenge and have committed to reading 12 Books written by Aussie authors in 2020. Four of those authors are to be female.

Of the books listed by Goodreads that I’ve read in January, five were written by Aussie authors.

  • The White Earth by Andrew McGahan
  • MacQuarie by Grantlee Kieza
  • The Good Cop by Justine Ford
  • Forgotten by Nicole Trope
  •  Tapestry by Fiona McIntosh

The number of books written by Australian authors that I’ve read in January, has me thinking that perhaps I should have aimed for a higher number. May have to rethink that.

How many books did you read in January? Have you read any of the books in my list? I love it when we have a conversation and promise to reply to all comments left.

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Bake Australia Great: Classic Australia Made Edible By One Kool Kat – Katherine Sabbath #aussieauthor20

I started to salivate immediately, on opening this beautifully presented book, which is packed with recipes for the most delectable sweets imaginable. The author has taken classic Australian icons such as the Pavlova and given them a modern and humorous twist, making them even more drool inducing. There are also international recipes featured, that have become much loved favourites in Australia.

There are recipes for:

  • Sydney Opera House Pavlova
  • Flamin’ Galah Cupcakes
  • Koala Cake
  • Milo Mud Cake
  • Great Barrier Reef Cake

and many more.

The recipes are easy to follow, with very clear and simple instructions. There are varying levels of dfficulty, ensuring this book is suitable for the beginner cook, along with  the more advanced or expert baker.

Some may be concerned about the calories of some of the foods featured. I agree they are calorie dense, but they are definitely special occasion foods. Surely it’s ok sometimes to allow special occasion foods into a diet plan.

I cannot wait to get into the kitchen and whip up some of these recipes. I would dream of having the time to start with the first recipe, and work my way through the book. But I could also spend hours just looking at this book. The photography is exceptional.

Australia is enjoying Australia Day celebrations right now so I feel that sharing this book of baking Australiana  on a book blog is the perfect Australia Day post. Kitchens all over the country this weekend, will be turning out amazing traditional Pavlovas.  Next year in Australia Day, I plan to give my pavlova a modern twist,  using the recipe for Sydney Opera House pavlova, included in this book.

Star Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Photo: katharinesabbath.com

Sydney cake queen, Katherine Sabbath, is one of the coolest creatives around, loved equally for her cutting edge cake designs and quirky personal style. Kat is a high school teacher turned cake creative, whose unique designs have featured in print internationally, online, as well as on TV. She shares it all with her half a million instagram followers, who hang on every sprinkle – katherinesabbath.com

Watch Katherine making her mouth watering Milo Fudge Cake below.

https://youtu.be/0Ms5NMfhXkQ

 

Published on 05 November 2019 by Murdoch Books.
Hardcover 256 pages

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Images and author information: Goodreads

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Book Review: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah #audiobook

 

The Great Alone

Summary

This story about a family in crisis, is set in Alaska in 1974. A former Vietnam veteran and POW comes home from the war very damaged by his experiences. He is now very volatile, with a bad temper and a very short fuse. He makes a surprise announcement that with no preparation or planning at all, he is taking his family to live in the wilds of Alaska. They will live an off the grid lifestyle in America’s last untamed frontier.

Ern Allbright and his wife, Cora, have a thirteen year old daughter, Leni, who becames caught between her parents and their very stormy and very passionate relationship. When they first arrive in Alaska, there is hope that this is the change that the family and Ern need. This part of Alaska might be tough, rough and wild, but there is a strong community very eager to help these novices set up, and live an off the grid lifestyle without all the mod cons and modern facilities that they have previously taken for granted.

But it doesn’t take Cora and Leni long to realise that as much as they have come to love their new home and lifestyle, they really are on their own. They have nobody to turn to, and if they are to be saved, they will have to save themselves.

My Thoughts

The above summary is very brief. There is much more to this action packed story than I want to write in a summary. I’m very aware that too much information will spoil the readers experience of this wonderful novel.

Kristin Hannah has written 20 novels, but The Great Alone is the first that I have read. It definitely won’t be my last. She is a beautiful writer, and at times her words brought me to tears. The Great Alone has a huge heart, and succeeds in the reader having a sense of the love, joy, kindness and sadness between the family members, and also with the community. I found the tragedy of this story to be overwhelmingly sad. At the same time the happiness and love brought a great joy to my heart.

I cried real tears at times, during the sad moments, and also the happy moments. When the main characters felt fear, it was so well described, that I felt the fear also. I also felt their happiness. This book is a rare read for me in that it made feel extremely happy and also very very sad.

The author has invoked a wonderful sense of place in this novel. I live off the grid also, so understand all the pros and cons that come with it. But you throw the wilds of Alaska into the mix and it’s a different proposition altogether. I found myself wanting to pack my bags and head off to the homesteading lifestyle in Alaska.

It’s now a few days since I finished The Great Alone, and I cannot get it out of my mind. Could it be that just 18 days into the new year, I have just read my best book of 2020?

Recommendations

“A girl was like a kite; without her mother’s strong, steady hold on the string, she might just float away, be lost somewhere among the clouds.”
“Love and fear. The most destructive forces on earth. Fear had turned her inside out, love had made her stupid.”
“All this time, Dad had taught Leni how dangerous the outside world was. The truth was that the biggest danger of all was in her own home.”
I listened to the audio book of The Great Alone, but I loved it so much I will also be reading the paper book. Audio books are great,  but of course any reader would prefer to actually read a book. I love listening to audio books on my long drives to work. They make the drive bearable. There were many times that I had to stop the car to write down a quote. There were so many beautiful words in this book.
This book went very quickly to number one one the New York Times best seller list in print, ebook and audiobook.

Recommendations

“Reliably alluring…The Great Alone is packed with rapturous descriptions of Alaskan scenery… Hannah remembers and summons an undeveloped wilderness, describing a gloriously pristine region in the days before cruise ships discovered it.”
–The New York Times

“Set in the early 70s, this coming of age story has parallels in the current day and becomes a cautionary tale for our times.”
–The Toronto Star

“In this latest from Hannah, the landscape is hard and bleak but our young heroine learns to accept it and discover her true self…fans will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child.”
– Library Journal

“Featuring a rich cast of characters and elevated by the riveting portrayal of homesteading in Alaska in the 1970s, this is a compassionate story of a family.”
– People, “Book of the Week’

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

About The Author

Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week – Goodreads.com

 

 

Audiobook published by MacMillan Digital Audio,
15 hours 2 minutes, unabridged English and read by Julia Whelan.
Released 8 Feb 2018, MP3 (411MB)

Book published February 6th 2018 by St. Martin’s Press.

Have you read The Great Alone. If so, I’d love to hear if you enjoyed it as much as I did. I love it when we have a conversation and promise to reply to all comments.

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

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Images and author information: Goodreads

 

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