Book Review: ‘The Whispering’ by Veronica Lando

Imagine a rainforest that overshadows your local town. The sounds of the leaves rustling, the swoosh of the trees moving and the crackle of branches being trodden on the damp and mossy floor which create a sort of compelling whispering.

A whispering that many young people have heard before.

A whispering that is believed to take people away, into the rainforest and never come out again.

‘The Whispering’ by Veronica Lando had an eerie, compelling and unique spin on crime fiction. I have only read one other novel similar in this spiritual/naturalist/mystical sub genre of crime fiction, and that book was ‘The Bluffs’ by Kyle Perry. It was one of my favourite books of 2021. It was a given as soon as I read the blurb of this novel, I was hooked. ‘The Whispering’ was also the winner of the Banjo Prize for Fiction in 2020, therefore I was also more inclined to start reading. This prize is awarded by Harper Collins Australia to an unpublished Australian manuscript and author with the hope of launching their writing career.

Now about the book … Callum Haffenden never believed he would return to Granite Creek. It’s a place of heartbreak, sickening memories and feelings of physical and emotional loss. In the past and as a teenager, Callum was involved in an accident that caused the loss of his leg from the kneecap down. At the same time, he also lost the girl who was his first love and she lost her elder sister. The tragic series of accidents have always been swirled with mystery and secrets. But a feeling, or a whispering of events unresolved, are calling him back now.

In the present, a local, well-known and well-loved community man has gone missing in the rainforest, around the same dangerous boulders of Callum’s accident. When his body is soon discovered, Callum’s previous journalism traits jump to action. In search of answers, Callum’s past and present collide. This isn’t the only secret that Callum begins to uncover the more questions he asks around town. You quickly discover as the reader that nobody is trustworthy and everybody has a motive to be part of this towns historical eeriness.

This was a quick but slow read. Quick because the storyline mostly flowed and the amount of dialogue included helped to move things along well. Slow because, I personally felt some aspects were disjointed. One moment I was in one place and then the next the story had moved on without a clear explanation or connection. HOWEVER, I will hand on heart admit I read a lot of this novel before bed and mostly falling asleep. This is also one the first crime book I’ve read in a while (like, 6 months a while), so my judgement could be swayed. Overall an enjoyable read for a debut fiction ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5/5 stars)

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words 📚 It is a book tag to broaden the reading community and help connect avid readers!

All you have to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

CR: ‘Words in Deep Blue’ by Cath Crowley is my current read. I’ve picked this book up as inspiration and current writing research. This dual perspective follows two teens on the brink of just finishing high school and the lead up to where their decisions will take them. Swirl in some romance, a setting in a secondhand bookstore, plus some beautifully raw writing, and you have the masterpiece that is this Aussie YA novel.

RF: I recently finished ‘Heartstrong’ by Ellidy Pullin. Read my full review here 💫

RN: ‘Verity’ by Colleen Hoover is my first ColHo novel and I think it may be the only one suited to me … I’m yet to decide as I’ve only started the first few chapters. This psychological and disturbingly twisted thriller is said to keep you on the edge of your seat and gaping until the final chapter. This year I’m searching for fast paced and intriguing – I think I’ll get those things from this novel. Have you read this? Comment below and tell me your star ratings ⭐️👀

Book Review: ‘Heartstrong: Chumpy, Minnie & Me’ by Ellidy Pullin w/ Alley Pascoe

Chumpy, Ellidy and Minnie’s story is one for the ages. Their perspective on love, life and strength is unbelievable. In particular I strongly admire Ellidy’s ability to keep living through her grief and bring Minnie into a world swirled by strong belief that she is loved, she is a miracle creation and first and foremost, that she is the daughter of Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin.

Let’s start by chatting about the big and colourful being that was Chumpy.

Alex ‘Chumpy’ Pullin was an Australian snowboarder who competed at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Winter Olympics. He held the honour of carrying the Australian Flag in the opening of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. He won the snowboard cross World Championship – twice. He was an athlete. He was the musical creator and singer behind Chumpy and the Sunsetaroonies. He was a bright soul and he was Ellidy’s person for this wonderful thing called life.

On the 8th of July 2020, the life that Ellidy knew took a devastating turn. Chumpy tragically passed away in a shallow water diving blackout at the age of 33. This unfathomable accident shook those who knew Chumpy personally, had followed his athletic life and achievements, those who competed with him, those in his home town, celebrities across the globe and just ordinary people like myself who heard this on the news one morning. A fit, healthy and active man who was incredibly experienced in the water, passing away. Surely this doesn’t happen right?

A little about Ellidy – she and Chumpy met at the age of 21 and fell immediately in love. She had studied nursing, commerce and worked in a variety of jobs. Chumpy used to describe her as someone who was ‘always happy’ and ‘woke up happy’. For Ellidy to still find that light within herself and for Minnie, even now after the tragedy she’s experience, I’m just in awe and admiration. A really large part of what Ellidy’s purpose, advocacy and awareness is around shallow water diving blackouts. She also aims to shine a light on post mortem sperm retrieval, as this is how little Minnie was created.

Ellidy and Chumpy always knew they’d start a family and they’d been trying for the past 12 months before Chumpy’s accident. Luck was never on their side. They felt as if they came close a few times, but sadly never fell pregnant. IVF appointments were discussed, plans were made and then suddenly, Chumpy wasn’t there. In the hours after Chumpy’s passing, a close friend that actually brought Ellidy and Chumpy together in the first place, relayed to Ellidy’s brother this amazing procedure called post mortem sperm retrieval. Ellidy only had to hear the words, “There is still a chance you and Chumpy can have a baby” and that was enough for her to say “Yes, go, do what you need to do”, for close friends and family to jump to action. There are a number of loop holes in making a procedure like this happen, including time sensitivity after a persons passing, legal requirements and state legislations. The stars aligned and Ellidy likes to believe that Chumpy was along the journey pushing for those green lights from above.

Even through her grief, Ellidy knew that having Chumpy’s baby was something she had to do. She had her parent’s support, her brother, Chumpy’s parents and sister, as well as her multitude of close friends encouraging her to make this happen when she was ready. 15 months after Chumpy’s passing, que the creation of Minnie Alex Pullin. And let me tell you folks, she’s bloody gorgeous!

I’m so glad this heartbreakingly beautiful story was one of my first reads this year. I love watching my daily Instagram stories of Minnie, as found on Ellidy’s profile, and watching her grow surrounded by love. I encourage you to read this book, educate yourself on the power of true love and absorb the wonderful miracles that are created through modern medicine. Below, you’ll find one of the most heartwarming videos of Minnie and her dad 💫💖

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words 📚 It is a book tag to broaden the reading community and help connect avid readers!

All you have to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

CR: ‘Arthur and Teddy are Coming Out’ by Ryan Love is such a touching read. I am really only just at the beginning of this story where Arthur is preparing a dinner with his children to explain his sexuality. He and his wife have just celebrated a significant milestone in their marriage and she is supporting him with this decision to openly be himself now. Arthur’s grandson, Teddy, is about to come into the picture and I gather the idea that he is struggling with career decisions and also accepting himself. I look forward to seeing where this lightly written and fun story goes. Released in March 2023. (I am also semi reading this as research for my own writing as I feel the writing style is quite similar to my own)

RF: ‘The Whispering’ by Veronica Lando was the perfect mixture of ‘The Bluffs’ by Kyle Perry & ‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper – of which I absolutely loved each for their rollercoaster rhythm, past and present perspectives and whimsical/cultural/mysterious nature calling elements. This story follows a recent accident in the local rainforest where a fit, healthy and well-liked community man was found dead in mysterious circumstances. Callum Haffenden, a journalist and previous local, returns to town as his connections lure him back. This is a place that caused him pain, heartbreak and the loss of his leg. Accidents from past and present collide for a very interesting Aussie crime fiction novel. Full review coming soon!

RN: ‘Heartstrong’ by Ellidy Pullin has been on my radar since its release. This woman’s story is empowering, heart-tearing and unlike anybody’s I’ve heard before, which makes it all the more entrancing. Ellidy lost her significant partner in a tragic accident, his name was Alex “Chumpy” Pullin. He was an Olympic Snowboard Cross Medalist, a singer, a father to their dog Rummy and Ellidy’s person. Then one day he didn’t come home and their plans of starting a family and a life together seemed to stop in its tracks. Until Ellidy’s quick thinking family stepped in hours after Chumpy’s passing with a method of allowing Ellidy and Chumpy to still have a baby. I’ve leave you hooked with this as I really believe you should pick up this Aussie biography to learn more about Ellidy, Minnie & Chumpy too. For more of a snippet, check out Ellidy’s instagram, I love Minnie updates on the regular!

💫 Mini Review 💫

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney was a quick, captivating and unexpected spooky crime read! I absolutely adored it 👻

Listening in on audio made this book a whole lot quicker for me to consume. With a cast of characters and repetitive events to help you recap and continue on through the story seamlessly, I was in a tight grip of waiting for events to unfold.

Who was killing everyone? How is the family riddle changing as family members die? Will Daisy Darker survive the night?

Daisy Darker is a novel about well, Daisy Darker. Daisy was born with a heart defect and due to this, her health had always been a battle as a child. With lots of scares and ongoing hospital admissions, Daisy’s bond with her reliable grandmother grew immensely. Daisy’s grandmother even went as fair as to write an award winning, and quite profitable, children’s book with a little girl called Daisy as the main character. Daisy siblings resented her immensely for this and for being grandma’s favourite.

In the present, Daisy’s grandmother is bringing all the family back together on her quirky, isolated island estate because she’d been told by a psychic many years ago that she would die at 80. Tomorrow happens to be her 80th birthday and she’d like to spend her last waking hours with her dear family … which also happens to be on Halloween.

Each family member has complex and strained relationships with one another. Daisy’s mother and father are divorced. Daisy never fit in with her two older sisters. Throw a boy in the mix, a niece and a secret accident that happened years ago and we have a recipe for messy murders.

I enjoyed going into this novel not knowing much about it and I would encourage you to do the same. I’ve tried not to give too much away in this mini review! Happy *late* Halloween reading 👻

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words 📚 It is a book tag to broaden the reading community and help connect avid readers!

All you have to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

CR: ‘The Shearer’s Wife’ by Fleur McDonald jumped to the beginning of my reading pile because I had the pleasure of actually MEETING Fleur this past weekend at my local library. To say Fleur is one of the most down to earth, humble and kind authors is an understatement. I’m looking forward to finishing this book tonight.

RF: ‘Daisy Darker’ by Alice Feeney was the perfect spooky Halloween crime fiction read. I actually listened to this book on audio, making it all the more erry and addictive. Review coming this week 🎙👀👻

RN: ‘Tilt’ by Chris Hammer is next on the list … still. He’s getting closer to being read … I swear 🤣

What’s everyone reading at the moment? Are you enjoying it? Comment below 🎙

Book Review: ‘Marriage For One’ by Ella Maise

Do you want romantic angst? ✅

Do you want a NYC cafe setting? ✅

Do you love reading about broody incessant fictional males that are hard core romantics and not at all like real men ✅ (we can always hope)

Marriage For One by Ella Maise was recently picked up and her four romance novels recovered by Pip Watkins and Simon & Schuster UK. And man, have they found a whip smart novelist!

A fellow book store regular recommended this to me on Wednesday and from the get go, I was hooked. She said she instantly fell in love with Jack and Rose’s story. Also mentioning that this was her favourite Ella Maise book she’s read thus far. Tick, tick, tick from me.

Rose and Jack are complete strangers, or so Rose thinks. She’s currently going through hell trying to navigate her Uncle’s Estate and Will, in which Rose’s is surprised to find a hidden clause. Her Uncle states that her husband will inherit a very profitable but empty building that she had all intentions of renovating into a cafe. However, the husband label hasn’t gone quite to plan in Rose’s life. Her ex-fiance dumped her over text (very sus, more on that when you read the book), her money hungry cousins are out to get any inheritance Rose is left with and squash her cafe dreams, and NOW, she has some grumpy, non-smiling lawyer guy proposing to her?!

Jack Hawthorne was not about to sit aside and let Rose lose everything she’d dreamed of, or be taken advantage of. Meeting Rose a year before, Jack had admired her from afar. Jack is one of the lawyers that closely worked with Rose’s Uncle, therefore he was aware of the current complications with the Will. Jack founded a secret and permanent idea. He would marry Rose out of convenience. He would be her husband. He would then inherit the empty building. Rose could open her dream store. No complications – a simple marriage for one. All Jack asks in return is for her to attend dinners, charity events and closing deals as his wife, giving the image of a ‘family man’ lawyer. He insisted this was good for his branding but there may or may not have been some secrets swirling around …

Shocked by the proposal and in disbelief, Rose finds her life changing immediately. Next thing we know, Jack and Rose are moving to together as a ‘married couple’ to his apartment. Rose is working day and night to finish painting, planning and baking for the cafe … with Jack’s surprisingly quiet and brooding help. They’re going to business dinners where Jack is unexpectedly quite good at laying on the PDA and passing them as a very happy newlywed couple. In private however, Rose is struggling to have any kind of get-to-know-you conversations with Jack as he resists her closeness. I liked hearing from his perspective every so often because it allowed us as the reader to see that he was trying his best to give her space and grow to like him on her own terms. Rose was slowly getting used to his frowning, gruff non verbal responses and blunt stares when her health takes a turn.

You won’t find any spoilers here book friends BUT I will say, Jack came through with the goods as a fake husband and a real one 😉 I really liked the growth of their relationship and their humour. I liked the ever present romantic tension and do-they-don’t-they feelings. I didn’t feel like Jack was written as a coercive male figure in the relationship which was a real possibility due to the circumstances of the plot, however Ella Maise pulled it off. Some readers may disagree with me on this but hey, this is romantic fiction. We know what we’re going here to read.

Finishing this book in 48 hours, on little sleep and feelings of happiness about finding a book to devour – I gave Marriage For One ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 4.5 stars!

Books I attempted to finish in October …

Look … I know book friends, here we are again … We’re at the strung together list of Mel’s books she has yet again, not finished this month BUT hey, glass half full – am I right?

See previous update for reference.

At the beginning of October, I was still feeling the non-fiction vibes. To be honest, I’m even still feeling them now and I think after investing 😉 some personal time in an educational session on finances last night … I may pick up a money and investing book quite soon! I know – who am I?! Somebody get this reader back in line!

I digress, I did try a fantasy novels in October and it just wasn’t to my tasting at the moment. Rivers of London wasn’t bad or poorly written (in fact it was quite entertaining and humorous), just my mood reading again flicking on and off light a dance floor strobe light.

A literary fiction is in there to smooth out the palate and I’m needing to have a bit more of this done by next week when I meet the author in store, EKK! Her Death Was Also Water is great though, so I’m excited.

One Aussie YA in the mix as well, and this, I will definitely be going back to as it’s been on my radar for months. We were privileged enough to have the publishers generously send us a finalised copy for pure bookseller enjoyment. Thanks Text Publishing – you’re the bomb.com!

Let’s see what you’ve got November!

Book Review: ‘The Space Between’ by Michelle Andrews & Zara McDonald

Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing at this point in your life is right? Here’s an example;

You’re in your twenties and society tells you that this is the time to be SLIVVVING! You should be out every weekend, but still have the money to keep up with the latest trends. You should be loving the idea and options of going on different dates with different people, but so many others around your age are married with kids. You should be travelling overseas, but hold down a successful career at the same time.

There are so many implied expectations of your 20’s about who you are, what you want and what you have so far in life. But the reality is, NOBODY knows what the heck they’re doing. Hell, our brains only fully develop and construct into what health expects call ‘adults’ at 25. So that space between, yeah that, what are we supposed to do with that time.

Creators of the super successful Aussie podcast Shameless, Michelle & Zara, share their honest thoughts, opinions and experiences in this book. I finished this book in a matter of a week because right now, it resonates with me strongly, and I have a good feeling it will/does with a lot of people after that scary pandemic thing, unemployment and finance rates rising … gahh adulthood. How is a young person supposed to flash their newest pair of exercise leggings and not have to have eaten tinned tuna for a week these days?!

Admittedly, I have not listened to a lot of the Shameless pod. I was introduced to them not that long ago by one of my besties and have found myself hooked ever since. I try to listen to one of their episodes every week and I encourage you to do the same. Sometimes they talk gossip, sometimes they talk relationships, sometimes they talk health and then once a month, they do book club! It’s great. So onto the book Mel, tell us about it. Okay, so it is split into 4 parts; Love; Ambition; Mind and Body; & Voice. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite because all of them used both Zara and Michelle’s personal experiences to bring home an idea. And I must say, near all of their experiences are relatable.

Love covers the fantastic aspects of being single, like; going on however many dates you please; a night out is always full of exciting opportunities to meet someone new; watching a whole tv series to yourself and not feeling guilty having to wait for someone else before hitting resume; and not having to share your precious bed, chocolate stash, dinner meal or time, with someone else. It also covers being the breaker of hearts and the receiver of broken hearts, in both romantic and friend relationships. The benefits and bamboozling implications of situation-ships. The space between family and their beliefs.

Ambition covers finishing uni and how terrifying going out into the big wide world is. It covers the space between our expectations of a career and what our life after having a 4,5,6,7 year uni degree in our back pocket actually means to our quality of life and happiness. In the ambition section, Mich and Zara cover their huge pivot of working for one of Australia’s top female lead media and journalism companies, to risking it all to start their own podcast. For them, if you read this book and find out, it was a matter of mental survival, professional growth and a touch of ‘What the heck are we thinking, are we crazy, will this even work?!’. The answer is yes, and they’re still taking the podcasting world by storm to this day. They encourage you to trust your gut, work hard for the times when you have that sparking feeling of hey, this could actually be something truely magical. They talk success and sacrifice. They talk unequal pay gaps and appropriate workplace treatment. They talk openly about mental health, anxiety and work-life balance. It’s relatable, raw and fantastic. (… okay maybe this was my favourite section …)

Mind & Body covers, you guessed it, all things mind and body. A checklist is included to help you differentiate if you have in-fact matured beyond the point of pasta for dinner every night ‘semi-adult’ or full blown, I have a grocery list and do not wander outside of its bounds ‘adulthood’. Mich and Zara talk about sex and the uncomfortableness that can be female pleasure. They talk anxiety and what that looks like for some people who lead a day-to-day, busy and bustling life but still cope in the face of adversity and crippling mental illness. They talk fertility, endometriosis and personal experiences with family planning. One of my favourite parts of this section was their discussion on influence – it literally made me jump on my instagram and unfollow any, and all of the female and male ‘influencers’ that felt, to me, that they were not teaching me anything. They were not bringing anything new and positive into my brain. That’s not to say I went and followed all of these inspo quote type of pages – no. I followed people like Julia Gillard and Malala Yousafzai, AND Michelle Andrews and Zara McDonald.

Voice covers the big things that we believe can’t be coffee table discussions or casual chats over a glass of wine (but in actual fact is totally acceptable) – and that is empowerment. Empowerment to tell a bloke when he’s taken a joke too far. Empowerment to disagree with someone even when you know they will challenge you and believe you wrong. Empowerment to say “No thanks” to another vodka soda when you know you’d rather spend your Sunday going for a walk, cleaning your house, Facetiming a friend, working on your side hustle or grabbing a coffee – instead of lying in bed all day hungover. Empowerment to stand up for your workplace rights. Empowerment on YOUR autonomy and allowing you to lead your own life. You’re a strong woman, you can make the right choices for you.

If you’ve read this book review to the end, I hope you can feel through my words just how passionate this book made me feel. It helped me and if you pick it up because you’re feeling a little lost and hopeless – don’t worry, it’s got you xx

‘The Space Between’ by Michelle Andrews & Zara McDonald

“Who has time amidst all this CHAOS?”

Moria Rose from Schitt’s Creek has been my vibe for the past month!

I have been MIA on the blog as my personal life, job and health have all been quite demanding and well … chaotic. There is no other way to describe the tasks, events and feelings of the past month that was September.

Within the bookstore we have seen a number of fantastic authors walk through our doors (and many more to come), we’ve seen unexpected pivots and I, personally, have been growing my managerial skills in leaps and bounds due to unexpected circumstances. This is positive growth for me but it does not come without exhaustion and in turn, rest.

However, we’re on the rise book friends and the future is looking bright! I am officially rostering in some reading, reviewing, friends, family and wholesome time. I’m scheduled to leave the chaos behind for a little while and just find the things I love most again.

I’ve attempted to read a number of books this month but I’ve shuffled of the bandwagon and leapt into 10 hour sleeps instead #whoops. Here’s the half September wrap:

📖 The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

📖 The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas

📖 Electric and Mad and Brace by Tom Pitts

📖 The Opal Miner’s Daughter by Fiona McArthur

📖 The Vet from Snowy River by Stella Quinn

📖 Her Death Was Also Water by Allen C. Jones

I need to preface that NONE of these book are BAD! As you can see this month I’ve bounced around from historical fiction, to romance, to literature, to rural romance and back to literature again. My brain had no idea what it wanted to read, and you know what, that’s okay! Because now I have 5 fantastic books that are a quarter of the way read that I can just pick up and keep going at any time – glass half full right? 🤣

Happy weekend to you all and I hope you take the time, as I am, to leave the chaos behind … even just for 24 hours. Mel xx