💫 Mini Review 💫

‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Looking for a feel good read? ✅

Looking for an enemies to lovers plot? ✅

Looking for a romance that moves from high school into new young adulthood? ✅

This young adult fiction encompasses all of the good suff, making it light, romantic and a quick read. Rowan Roth is a determined young woman and hard working right up to the very end of high school but her witty drive is pushed along by the likes of Neil McNair. The two have been in hefty competition with each other since the time they met. Their schooling has been a constant battle of who will be in first place and who will come in second. Rowan is set on not placing second best in their last bid for victory … winning valedictorian.

Yet as graduation looms and their end of Senior Year celebrations of a Seattle scavenger hunt kicks off, Rowan and Neil begin to realise that rather than opposing each other, they are smarter, swifter and more aligned working together than they ever realised. Slowly, they learn about one another’s lives outside of the small portion of school they experience with one another. Outside hobbies, passions and home lives come into play, furthering even more of their connection.

I read this over a weeks holiday and it was the perfect accompaniment for a light and happy time. I needed a story to get me out of a book slump as I’d just come off the back of reading my second favourite literary novel of 2022 (review coming soon 🤗) – so I needed something a little lighter. The lovely Josh from @joshhortinela recommended this strongly and I was convinced to pick it up!

Which Australian bookstores did I visit recently?

Name: Dymocks Melbourne

Location: Lower Ground Floor, 234 Collins St, Melbourne VIC

Size: BIG but not huge (would have loved to explore another level … but maybe there was and I didn’t notice – Melbourne locals please let me know in the comments)

Thoughts: This bookshops fiction section filled my soul 💖 There was such a variety to pick from and I loved the eclectic variety they stocked. I found their crime fiction section exuberant and fantastic! They had all Agatha Christies, all Lee Child, all Michael Robotham, all of my lovely friend Sulari Gentill in stock. There was no designated Literary section which I always gravitate to in a bookstore, however it was pretty clearly all was mixed in fiction and easy enough to find. The cooking section was extensive and gave me a few ideas for my own local. Their non-fiction section was also full and fresh. I found it helpful and effective just seeing a ‘service/enquiries’ desk. The practicality of that service was great in a space of such size. The one section I felt lacked was their Young Adult, there was almost only half a bays worth of books. YA is such a huge market in our bookstore, therefore I was stunned to see its smallness in a nationals capital. All in all, worth the trip! I came out with four books which you will see in my July Wrap Up very soon.

Happy 💖: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4/5)


Name: Harry Hartog Bookseller

Location: Shop 111/112 South Point Shopping Centre, Anketell St & Reed St N., Greenway, ACT 

Size: Average, nice and open

Thoughts: The feeling in a Harry Hartog is moody, mysterious and comforting. I can easily say this chain is kicking goals with its interior design, decor and ascetic. Book wise, I didn’t find much out of the ordinary that our local store doesn’t have. I mostly enjoyed perusing the giftware and book associated items that wrap up and encourage a more calm, enjoyable and relaxed reading experience. For example, there were candles, heat packs, journals and different types of tea which were all available for purchase. I really liked this element of coming away from a bookstore kitted out for your next R&R session. One book was purchased in this visit to Harry Hartog and a lovely print that has made itself onto a wall in my home!

Happy 💖: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3/5)

(Note: This picture is not my own)


Name: Robinsons Bookshop

Location: Canberra Centre, Shop DF24, 148 Bunda St, Canberra ACT 

Size: Small in size, big in feeling

Thoughts: My heart felt immediately happy in this Robinsons Bookshop! I was greeted by the most lovely bookseller, her and I connecting over the usual bookseller things; books (obviously 🤣), unboxing books, enquiries, ordering books, etc. I also learnt that this Canberra Robinsons Bookshop is the only one outside of Victoria, where their brand and first stores originated. The experience was warm and homey. I proceeded to browse the bookstore’s fiction section, classics and cooking. I found a lot of cook books that have inspired a restock in my own local. The dark timber shelves create a moody space yet the store is lit with the most gorgeous periodic light fixtures. For me, it felt like stepping into another time that was generous and captivating. It proved to me even more that the size of a bookstore does not determine the quality of books, service and feeling – as a booksellers, bookstores are what you make them. I left with one new cookbook in hand!

Happy 💖: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5/5)

(Note: This picture is of a Melbourne Robinson Bookshop, so imagine Canberra on a smaller scale. This picture is not my own)

Did you enjoy this travelling bookstore blog post? Describe your favourite bookshop to me in the comments 💬🎙

Book Review: ‘Paperbark Hill’ by Maya Linnell

If you’re looking to fall in love with a new country romance writer, Maya Linnell is your gal! She just gets it – the challenges of falling in love in rural areas, small town community feelings of support and shared business, opinions and expectations. She also holds a firm grip of what the dynamics of inside a family look like. Her writing makes you feel as if you’re sitting around a dining room table, in a country home, having realistic conversations about farming, family and children.

Paperbark Hill is the conclusion to Maya’s four book series following the McIntyre sisters. All books can be read individually but have overlapping characters, environmental settings and storylines. Believe me when I say, Paperbark Hill has set me up well for devouring the rest of Maya’s books!

Paperbark Hill follows Diana McIntyre and her 4 boys as they learn to navigate and continue on their lives after the death of their stronghold, their husband and father. Diana is surrounded by her loving sisters and father, who encourage her dreams of cut flower farming, selling locally and creating a name for herself in the industry. Flower farming and raising her 4 boys is the highest priority. This remains so throughout the novel. Her thoughts and feelings do however increase when Ned Gardiner, an ex-local comes back to town after the unexpected loss of his father.

Ned is a locaum pharmacist and a bit of a gypsy. His flexible job allows him and his two beautiful, sweet and worldly children to move around. This is bit of a relief for Ned after his wife and mother to his two children, just up and left. Ned’s routines and travelling is thrown out the window when the loss of his father brings him back to his home town. His father was a keen chicken egg farmer and flower gardener. It also turns out, his father was Diana’s sidekick in maintaining and starting her flower farming. Both Diana and Ned are feeling the heavy loss of Ned’s father, which ultimately brings them together.

The warm buzz between Ned and Diana grows. Their time spent together in the flower fields, bringing their children together for play dates, stopping for afternoon tea together and chatting over salty scones, are just some of my favourite subtle ways of their relationship growing. I really could appreciate that their relationship was about stability, trust and respect. They’ve both been hurt in the past, they both have children who are the centre of their world, and they are both trying to navigate new found love at 40+. It’s slow, romantic and the development of love grows through gesture.

I think Maya was clever to include some challenges to new found love at 40. She wove the protests of children surrounding new parental relationships and the questions they ask. Diana’s teenage boy found the adjusts hard and was defiant in letting a new person into Diana’s life. He felt as if Diana would forget about his father and not acknowledge significant past birthdays or anniversaries. However, he grows to realise that it is about a balance of blending the two together and recognising that Ned is never going to stop Diana from loving, thinking of, or celebrating her late husband. Ultimately Ned and Diana show harmony within their two families individually, therefore when they bring the two together, it is just a big group of love and happiness!

Reading Diana and Ned’s story had me swept away in a matter of 48 hours – I couldn’t step away from their story for too long!! I am incredibly grateful and humbled to have received this copy of Paperbark Hill from Allen & Unwin and Maya Linnell to personally read and review 💖 This copy of Maya’s book has already been loaned a friend to read and also love 💫

Book Review: ‘A Place Near Eden’ by Nell Pierce

Wow. Wow. Wow. Nell Pierce coming through with the award winning literary fiction. Nell is the prestigious winner of the 2022 Australian/ Vogel’s Literary Award. Okay cool Mel, but what does this actually mean? My fellow reading friends, it means that Nell had worked dang hard on her book like all authors, was selected out of a HUGE bunch of unpublished manuscripts, fit the bill of being under the age of 35 AND has now had this manuscript published, promoted and sold with Allen & Unwin. So let me tell you, this book is a no brainer for you to pick up in 2022.

A Place Near Eden follows three main characters; Tilly (Matilda); Sem; and Celeste. Their intricate, manipulative and submissive relationships with one another creates the whirlwind of events and downward spirals in this novel. The overall theme that has really kept me thinking and pondering long after I finished, is manipulation. A Place Near Eden shows the different types of manipulation a person can face in real life. This novel shows strong instances of verbal manipulation, tv and film consumption that had been manipulated to make you believe a persons’ innocence, and manipulation through the streams of social media. There has been a tragic ‘accident’ near Eden and we begin to slowing unfold who was involved by back tracking Tilly’s story, but is Tilly’s story real and honest? Or has it been created through the manipulation and impression of those around her, who are aiming to save themselves by throwing Tilly in the firing line.

At the beginning it is brought to the reader’s attention that teenage Tilly is facing a change in home environment. Her new foster brother Sem, has moved in and her parents are at odds over Sem’s behaviour and his influence on her. Tilly idolises Sem and begins to develop romantic feelings towards him. Now bring Celeste into the mix – she is Sem’s ‘girlfriend’ and next door neighbour. Celeste is older than Tilly and has a teenage strength about her. She wears her midriff tops without the worry of wandering eyes, lies and boasts about going all the way with Sem. Celeste creates arguments with her Mum and Sem for no good reason other then wanting to have a fight, she talks Tilly into drinking a lot, she criticises and makes fun of Tilly for getting a job and then goes and gets one herself, she also convinces Tilly to not keep any other friends. Celeste is clever, manipulative and calculating. She can also strongly influence and convince Tilly’s change in mindset, mood and memory.

For me, quite early in, Tilly reads as an unreliable narrator and this kept me flipping the pages. Tilly talks in the past of her coming and going relationships with Sem and Celeste, moving out with Celeste, drinking a lot, counselling sessions arranged by her Dad to draw out information on Sem, her unusual relationship with her near absent mother, and the place of spiritual awakening that Sem and her mother would visit way out bush. Tilly is talking to someone in the present, someone who will be learning about Tilly, Sem and Celeste’s story through a documentary. This documentary has been created, aired and viewed to expose the possible scenarios leading up to the accident near Eden and who is responsible. Due to Tilly being an unreliable narrator, for a long time she is convincing you, as the reader, that she is responsible. She is telling you she has destroyed someone’s life and should be punished – yet as Celeste and Tilly’s relationship begins to unravel, we can’t be so sure as to who’s the guilty one.

This novel is challenging for me to write about without giving too much away. I really enjoyed the not knowingness of jumping in with just the blurb for reference. I want you to experience that unknown feeling too! Therefore, I will finish this review with one of my favourite lines in the book. This stood out to me the moment I read it, as I felt it can sum up Celeste’s mind games, Tilly’s influenced inability to make choices and Sem’s unreliable nature. It can also sum up young adulthood, pivots in life paths and personal growth;

“Don’t look at me like I’m crazy,” Sem said. “It’s okay if you don’t see things the way I do. It’s just important to me that I make my own choices, that’s all.”

One big cheer and shout out to Allen & Unwin, as well as Nell Pierce for generously sending me this (now well read, tagged and already passed around) copy of ‘A Place Near Eden’. I am so SO very grateful for the experience 💖

💫 Mini Series Review 💫

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

The first volume of Heartstopper grabs you with two gentle hands and gives you a warm hug! Charlie is a quiet and introverted, openly gay teenager at an all boys high school. He knows who he is and his friends and family are true and supportive. He sees the best in people and trusts them to be as kind as himself, however his current ‘boyfriend’ Ben, is not that. Ben chooses to sneak around with Charlie and manipulate Charlie into not speaking openly about their relationship. This is because Ben isn’t ready to explore his sexuality openly. Charlie is struggling with the back and forward of Ben’s feelings and desires – when he meets Nick Nelson.

Nick is the high school rugby lad who is loved by everyone and is 100% straight … until he gets to know Charlie. The strong feelings of friendship grow into more than ‘just best friend’ level, and seemingly overtake Nick’s thoughts. Nick has never questioned his sexuality before, therefore this first book really has a focus on Nick exploring what romantically liking Charlie could be like in his world.

Volume 1 is introductory to Nick and Charlie, their friend groups, their schooling environments and the blooming first love. 💫 Butterfly feelings 💫 Exploration of self 💫 First kiss moment

Volume 2 explores the newness of Nick and Charlies feelings and relationship. 💫 Joining new friendship groups 💫 Bullying 💫 More butterfly feelings 💫 Cute cinema scene 💫 “Boyfriends” 💫 Coming out

Volume 3 looks at Nick and Charlie opening their relationship into the school environment and on their school excursion to Paris. 💫 Nick telling his extended family about Charlie 💫 Mental health and anorexia 💫 Second base romance 💫 More, more butterfly feelings 💫 Coming out to school friends 💫 Nick can speak fluent French?! (I’m excited to see this on the Netflix series) 💫 Tao and Elle accept their feelings for one another

Volume 4 gets deep people! So trigger warning for the content surrounding self-harm, mental health and anorexia. I really think Alice has brought light to these subjects to show the boys maturing and how their emotional intelligence grows as they move into a different stage of their life. Honestly, I didn’t see the series moving this way so I’m interested to see where she takes it in Volume 5. 💫 “I love you” 💫 Mental health unit admission 💫 Nick’s challenging relationship with his older brother comes to breaking point 💫 PDA at school 💫 More, More & more butterfly feelings 💫 Nick and Charlie’s first party attending as a couple 💫 Awkward family dinner 💫 A New Year’s kiss

Have you read the graphic novels of Heartstopper yet? Or tried the Netflix series? Let’s chat in the comments 💬

Book Review: ‘Sunbathing’ by Isobel Beech

I sit here, writing this review with a cup of Italian coffee and biscuit in tow. I do not think I could have a set up any more fitting. Isobel Beech has created a novel that draws you in from the very beginning. ‘Sunbathing’ by Isobel Beech, takes place mostly in Abruzzo, Italy. The setting is described in such an emotionally and physically connecting way that you feel the Italian breeze, smell the freshly cut tomato salad with basil and olive oil, hear the gurgling of fresh coffee on the stove in the morning, and can imagine the footfalls and efforts of love in the vegetable garden below your window.

I need to preface that this novel does surround the topic of suicide, therefore please read this review with caution and/or pop back onto the blog for another book review soon xx

“… ‘Sunbathing’ explores the workings of the self in the wake of devastation and deep regret, and reveals the infinite ways that the everyday offers solace and hope.”. Transcribed from the back cover of ‘Sunbathing’. In summary, this quote covers the essence of this novel completely.

After suffering the great loss of someone close, an Australian woman books a plane ticket to Italy. She is travelling to stay with her best friend, Giulia, and her fiancé Fab, in their old stone village home. Isobel lets your mind wander as to the setting of this home, and I say home because this is the instant feeling the Beech portrays. It is a place of comfort, warmth, support and hope. We know there is a vegetable garden that Giulia tends to and waters from the buckets of water both the women go walking for every few days. We know that Fab is a writer and pops up to say “Ciao” whenever he hears his name being discussed, either inside or outside the home. We know Giulia and our female main character sit and talk over homemade meals deep into the evening, under the big shady tree in the back yard. We know our main character feels responsible for the loss of a significant figure in her life to suicide. We know that this feeling is one that plagues her mentally and emotionally. Her grief is incongruent to the way she believes is ‘expected’ of her – her grief does not follow a pattern.

It is incredibly unique how connected a reader can feel to the main character through the workings of their inner most thoughts and internal dialogue. The main character utilises online platforms to try and refresh her mind, yet only finds herself feeling more self-destructive after seeking it out. The online and in person conversations about suicide and taking ones life, she finds quite flippant. There is a sense of nobody knowing what she is going through, therefore nobody can help fix her and the significant shift to her life. However, the slow pace of life with Giulia and Fab in Abruzzo, learning to understand the language, making friends with a stray cat called Bric and taking care in planting, tending and caring for, then harvesting their own food and appreciating all it does for the human body, becomes her salvation. Day by day, the sun would rise, the coffee would boil and the routines would begin to heal her.

One of my favourite parts of this novel was seeing how the main characters perspective about Bric, the stray cat, changed over time. To begin with, Bric would only visit Giulia and Fab’s home every so often for food. He was more of a neighbourhood cat but this worried our main character. She was terrified that he wouldn’t return, he would become lost and starve. This became comparative to the loss of the significant person in her life. She felt that if she looked for Bric, fed him and cared for him, he would stay with her. Sadly, no matter how much nurturance and love she expressed to Bric, she couldn’t make him stay. Towards the end of the novel, our main character comes to accept Bric’s coming and going, taking the pressure off herself and understanding that Bric can only extend a portion of himself to her. Nor is he something she, and only she, can feel responsible for on her own.

I also really enjoyed the overarching concept of the old birthing room, turned guest bedroom, that our main character resides in while staying at Giulia and Fab’s home. Throughout the novel, our main character is rebirthing herself into a new person that lives with the loss and grief experienced in her life. It does not leave her completely, it just becomes a manageable part of the new person she’s growing into.

This is one of the most touching books I’ve read this year and I can see myself re-reading it in the future. It is surely one I will be recommending to my local literary book clubs. It is a novel to read with openness and care. I believe it is greatly worth it.

Book Review: ‘The Girls of Lake Evelyn’ by Averil Kenny

Before I jump into this book review, I would love to give one big hug and cheer out to Allen & Unwin, Echo Publishing and Averil Kenny for sending me this beautiful copy of ‘The Girls of Lake Evelyn’.

‘The Girls of Lake Evelyn’ is a story about a curse, a playwright and a runaway bride. It is a story that wraps you in hopes and dreams, and allows you as the reader to escape into a world where the essence of small community care, love and support trumps all adversity and challenge.

💬 Let’s talk main characters:

Vivienne Brinsley is a high society young women living in Sydney at the beginning of the novel. It is the night before her wedding to Sydney’s biggest catch and high market man – yet she’s torn with feelings of dread and despair at signing up to a life she doesn’t truely want. Her mother cannot stand to listen to her discontent, so Vivienne turns to her Uncle Felix. Uncle Felix helps Viv escape her loveless relationship and expected life. He sets her travelling on a path to a small town in tropical North Queensland. Here Viv will find her confidence again, explore new friendships and possibly even fall in love with a rugged, handsome and hilarious dairy farmer, Owen.

Josie Monash is a small town gem! Even as a young woman, she has grown up to be a pivotal part of her community. Side stepping her dreams of city starlight and broadway, Josie has remained on her family dairy farm to take care of her Father and two brothers after her mother passed away. Josies’ Grandmother plays a big role in guiding her life choices and has always been a headstrong woman (maybe this is where Josie gets it from). Her Grandmother is determined to see Josie’s theatre directing skills have hit reviews in Sydney’s biggest newspaper. Her Grandmother can see such potential and how tirelessly she works to help others – now it’s Josie’s turn to bloom. So when Vivienne arrives to town and starts swimming in the cursed Lake Evelyn, Josie’s hit play seemingly comes to life.

✏️ Let’s talk plot:

Not so many years ago, a beautiful movie actress, Celeste Starr, tragically died in the lake and it spawned a curse that has plagued the town ever since. Josie’s play is set to uncover the true story behind the life of Celeste, yet it will not come without some adversity and unsettlement from community members. Lake Evelyn has been barricaded off for years now because of community fear. Josie is up against a number of people who do not trust Lake Evelyn and its ghosts.

As Josie persists with the play, people will begin to show their true colours. A number of characters are not who they seem and their small, unsettling parts in the novel, eventually surface what true motives lie beneath. Long kept secrets slowly reveal themselves in the most well paced and slow burning way!

⭐️ Final thoughts:

I loved that this novel, much like Those Hamilton Sisters by Averil Kenny (click on the title to read my Author Talks with Averil). ‘The Girls of Lake Evelyn’ has all the good things you’re looking for in a time period novel. Drama ✅ Mystery ✅ Romance ✅ Perfectly paced reveals ✅ Escapism ✅

I’m not lying to you when I say we have had to restock this novel in the book shop over 5 times now! Averil is a hit!! Her writing is DEvine and captures the reader with such lyricism that it becomes hard to put her novels down. I am so incredibly grateful to see, hold and enjoy another novel from her and can only predict that Averil is set to continue creating beautiful stories in the future. She is an instant purchase for me and I will be recommending her until the cows come home (🐮 I hope this was an Owen approved pun!).

💫 Mini Review 💫

‘Insomnia’ by Sarah Pinborough

I finished this novel in a matter of 3 days. If you liked Sarah’s most well known novel and now tv show ‘Behind Her Eyes’, you’ll love the twists and turns that ‘Insomnia’ presents.

Emma can’t sleep. She is plagued by paranoia and the feeling of dread associated with her 40th birthday. Her mother went mad at 40 and now Emma cannot let go of the fact that her inability to sleep has her mind and body travelling down the same path.
Her traumatic childhood meant the separation of Emma and her sister Phoebe, from their mothers care. In adult life, Emma seems the be the one who came out on top and overcame the challenges and impacts of her mothers madness … until now.
Her son is terrified of her. Her husband doesn’t trust her. Her mother has been murdered in her psychotic unit and Emma was the last to see her. Her sister may be having an affair with her husband. Her teenage daughter is rebelling. She’s unable to concentrate at work. She’s going mad or is she?

‘The Paper Palace’ by Miranda Cowley-Heller

How do I tell you generous reader, how much I’ve loved a book without telling you EVERYTHING about this book and giving away spoilers … keep reading to find out I suppose 🤣

Favourite passage: Pg. 6 “… While the doctor is inside me, he cuts off an ovary, careless, rushing to carve the death out of life. this, too, I will not learn for many years. When I do, my mother cries for me for the second time. “I’m so sorry,” she says. “I should have made him be more careful …” – as if she’d had the power to change my fate, but chosen not to use it.

Later I lie in a hospital cot, arms tied down at my sides. I scream, cry, alive, livid with rage at this injustice. They will not let my mother feed me. Her milk dries up. Almost a week passes before they free my hands from their shackles. “You were always such a happy baby”, my father says. “Afterward,” my mother says, “you never stopped screaming.”

Favourite character: Wallace, Elle’s Mother

I devoured ‘The Paper Palace’ by Miranda Cowley-Heller in less than 24 hours! I am not joking when I say the pacing of this book being on point, the character development and historical exposure was just right and the story had me captivated from chapter one. Our opening scene is Elle, our main character, waking up at the paper palace – her maternal families beach side cabins in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The setting throughout this novel is very ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ by Delia Owens. If you liked Crawdads, think of this books as an instant buy – you will enjoy it just as much. Here is me giving you approval to go and buy ‘The Paper Palace’ right now!!

These beach side cabins have great significance to Elle, as it is the place she first experienced love and love lost, a horrific sexual assault and predatory behaviour from a family member, family breakdowns, isolation and death. All of these experiences we dissect as the story unfolds, and it is told through the structure of flashbacks – moving from past to present.

At some points of the book, we go right back and learn about Elle’s family on a generational scale. This gives us positionally and understanding for how Elle loves, her thought process’ and behaviours – most significantly within her marriage to Peter and decisions about Jonas. We learn about her grandmother’s marital and family home decisions, and how this has affected her mother’s childhood and behaviours. We then move onto her mother’s story and learn how sexual relationships, experiences and assault have impacted her relationships, marriages, mothering abilities and connection to her daughters. This brings Elle into the picture. When we move in the present, we are learning about Elle’s marriage to Peter and her lost love (or resurrected love) with Jonas. The flashbacks with Jonas were some of my favourites and seeing the two characters grow together was very captivating. We delve in bits and pieces into Elle’s father and his marital decisions – the divorce with Elle’s mother, his remarriage and what Elle’s relationship is like with him now. All of these peoples’ stories are giving meaning and understanding of why Elle is facing her uncertainties of love and marriage in the present.

If you look into this novel deep enough, it really is focusing on the impacts of generational trauma. That being; physical and sexual assault, marital breakdowns and the impact on children, emotional attachment as a child, blended families, secrets and their longterm impacts, as well as neglect. Maybe it is the Social Work part of my brain that appreciated the rawness of the writing and grit behind Elle’s mother, in particular her self-centred behaviour. I could see why Elle and her mother’s actions were justified.

Nevertheless, Elle’s marriage with Peter is challenging and beautiful, like most. But her love for Jonas is stemmed from first love, passion and longing. Even the ending leaves you uncertain of who she chose. This was my Literature Lovers book club pick for March and we had a wonderful meeting discussing every members thoughts, feelings and final conclusions on ‘The Paper Palace’. Overall, this book was a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) for me. I could not put it down, nor would I stop raving about it to one of my lovely colleagues who gifted me the copy. She knew how much I’d love it and for that, I am very grateful xx

The Monthly Wrap: January

Welcome to my monthly wrap series, where I will be posting all the books I have completed, attempted and considered for the month. 

For the month of January, I can easily acknowledge that I was in the midst of a book slump. Hannah Kent’s Devotion truely set the bar high for my 2022 reading and if I’m being completely honest, I am still yet to find anything to top it. That novel is unbelievable to say the very least 🤯 (Click on the title name to read my full review)

After I finished ‘Devotion’, I attempted to start Hannah’s only other novel I hadn’t read, that being ‘The Good People’. I really enjoyed continuing the feeling of immersion and escapism that her writing provides me, however the bookish slump was creeping in and taking hold! I felt connected to the characters and the storyline but I just think after the heaviness of ‘Devotion’, I really wasn’t ready to deep dive into another emotional, literary and historical fiction. I put ‘The Good People’ down after 100 pages and moved onto ‘The Housemate’ by Sarah Bailey. 

At this point, I really do need to preface that regular reading Mel probably would have loved all these books I’ll be mentioning a lot more if she weren’t in a book slump! 

Oh how I desperately wanted to be addicted to ‘The Housemate’! I wanted to be scared, feel gripped and left gasping at the unknowns and who-done-it’s, but sadly it didn’t get there for me. I was craving something fast paced, twisted and an addictive plot with easy to read dialogue. From what I did read, there had been one housemate of three, murdered under suspicious circumstances. The main perspective is told from a journalist who has re-opened the case. This journalist is finding leads and setting up interviews when another of the housemates is found dead after she has presumably been missing for years. I’ve been told by a customer recently that this book is a great read and the ending does capture your attention. It just wasn’t for me this month. Maybe I’ll try again later in the year. From here, I moved onto Sofie Laguna’s, ‘Infinite Splendours’.

Here’s me, trying to pick up another literary fiction when it isn’t what my brain wanted – silly silly Mel 🤦🏽‍♀️ Therefore, here I am again, telling you that I got 100 pages into ‘Infinite Splendours’ and put this book down. The premise of this book captures me, as it surrounds the troubling relationship between a young boy and his uncle. Their connection to art brings then together and the young boys mother is unbeknown to the damaging actions the uncle takes with the boy. It follows the effects of sexual abuse and its impact on child development. I do believe I will finish this book one day. Sofie Laguna was recently mentioned on the ABC television program, Books that Made Us. Her book, ‘The Choke’ was mainly highlighted in this program for its raw and uncomfortable feelings it provokes in the reader. I thought by attempting her latest novel, I may feel some of that and I really did. Yet, book slumpy Mel wasn’t in the mood for beautiful and careful writing, or historical settings. No, no, no – she wanted smut! I placed ‘Infinite Splendours’ back in the TBR pile and grabbed ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ by Elena Armas.

My goodness! If you’ve read my book review for ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ (click the book title for link) you will know how much I ADORED this book! It was cute, it was sweet, it was steamy and it was exactly what I’d been looking for in a novel *que Mel’s reinvigorated love for romance novels* I finished ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ in under 24 hours – yes, that’s right. I sat down in the afternoon and just couldn’t stop! I was up until midnight unable to put this book down! Our main character Lina is single and so embarrassed to be turning up to her sisters Spanish wedding alone. Her co-worker Aaron, whom she despises (for all the obvious reasons in these types of books), offers himself to be her date. What a whirl of events from there! They travel to Spain, they pretend to be a full-fledged couple, they dance, they share a bed 😉 and they discover their feelings may not be completely made up. Of course because it was so fabulous, I then picked up another romance called, ‘The Love Hypothesis’ by Ali Hazelwood.

Ahhhh, the lovers to haters tropes really get me! I didn’t adore ‘The Love Hypothesis’ as much as ‘The Spanish Love Deception’ (which I have noted as my next “get out of a book slump re-read book”) BUT, I did find it entertaining as it filled the romance void for another week. ‘The Love Hypothesis’ is about Olive, a PhD student who wants to prove to her best friend that she is lapping up the dating scene and taking it in her stride. Although, in an attempt to actively prove this in front of her friend, she kisses a stranger in her science lab. This stranger ends up being the most disliked Professor at her University. Now that I write this, I can acknowledge it’s total smut – I know! But it was a great read to escape and it was perfect for my brain this month 🧠

To round out my strange reading month that was January, I picked up Charlotte Wood’s, ‘The Natural Way of Things’. Now, again let me preface again that I was not in my typical reading mood, therefore, I feel as if my ability to take in prose, metaphor and literary significance was lacking. Sadly, this book rated quite low for me. I wasn’t feeling like I had the capacity to see where the story was leading and felt a little confused at times. I usually like eclectic, misleading and confusing aspects in a book to some extent. I like to wait as the reader, to be lead toward the “uh-huh” moment – but I didn’t feel that with this novel. It is beautifully written, I can admire that. Charlotte Wood has strongly conveyed the message of feminist action against control and oppression in government areas, in imprisonment and sexual coercion for power. I personally just found this book was not to my reading tastes this month, however I am still glad I gave it a go!

At present, I am dancing into the beginning of February 💃🏻 I am reading a fantastic new novel released in March called, ‘Impossible’ by Sarah Lotz. This is her first contemporary romance and I’m so here for it. The book starts with a very aggressive email being send to the wrong address. Luckily, it turns out the person on the other end is really funny, totally single and happy to explore the connection that they’ve just stirred up online. Half of the book is email thread and the other is told from the dual perspectives of Nick and Bee. I am loving this book so far and I notice that before it has even been released, it’s already ranking near 5/5 stars on GoodReads! I’m excited to give you guys a review of this one soon ⭐️🎙

What does your monthly wrap look like? I would love to know – tell me in the comments 💬💬