💫 Mini Review 💫

The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams is your new smutty book on the block ✅

I can promise that in 48 hours, you will snavel this novel up and will be continuing on your book buying binge for ALL other Sarah Adams books. (click me and you can see them 😉)

Bree and Nathan have been best friends since high school. Nathan dreamt of becoming an NFL superstar and Bree dreamt of becoming a professional ballet dancer. Sadly, only one of their dreams came true. After having a few years apart in collage, Nathan and Bree have reconnected and their friendship is stronger than ever. It is also particularly threatening to any of the women Nathan’s chooses to dates, mainly as all of these woman can see the unrequited love between the two of them that neither care to admit.

This friends to lovers trope takes a great turn when Nathan’s celebrity stardom approves of Bree as a potential cutesy girlfriend after yet another breakup goes wrong. Que, the two of them in a fake relationship and oh how this is entertaining to read!

Okay positives and contrary aspects:

+ve’s:

  • Written as if the author is talking to you in conversation which makes the novel extremely easy to read
  • Friends to lovers trope
  • Characters are really warm and loveable
  • Dual perspective
  • Bree is so quirky and cute that she is what every girls dreams the main character is in these smutty novels (… or maybe that’s just what I enjoy reading!)
  • The whole premise of this book happens over quite a short period of time

Contrary:

  • Not a lot of depth to the environment or back story of each character. I wanted a little more historical detail surrounding Bree and Nathan’s teenage years and friendship bond back then
  • Wasn’t long enough … I was invested 🤗
  • There wasn’t a big dramatic peak as there usually is in 80% of novels in this genre. I was kind of waiting for a big secret to be exposed or a disagreement to happen over something minuscule and then have the main characters make up … but it didn’t really happen. In a way this was kind of a positive as the character’s didn’t resent, argue or disagree with one another. The novel just ended in a peachy kind way which was warm and fuzzy.

All in all, this smutty read is perfect for a rainy day, with a nice hot cup of tea!

Purchase or download your copy via this link: The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

A Bookseller’s Journal: Blog #1

Here is something new and shiny for all you book lovers to read. I wanted to sporadically (and make it ongoing) share a little bit about my experiences of working in a bookstore and what it’s like to be behind the scenes of the bookselling trade.

There is so much to know about bookselling, the profession and as a career. I hope that by sharing a little about my world in the book industry, it may fulfil some part of you (as an avid book lover) and make you love bookstores just a little more deeply! A lot of work goes into bookselling and if you’re anything like me, a lot of thinking time about books, book ideas and business outside of work hours, because the love and care for bookselling runs deep.

So – let me bring you up to speed on one of my most recent book industry experiences.

Last week, I travelled to Canberra with my boss/mentor/book industry encourager. We had been invited to Affirm Press’ Roadshow, in which they wanted to share some of their exciting upcoming titles, authors and explain their recent expansions.

To put it in straightforward terms, in Australia there are probably about 5 big guys (Publishing Houses). I would *personally* view those guys as (in no particular order):

  • Penguin Randomhouse Australia
  • Allen & Unwin Australia
  • Hachette Australia
  • Scholastic Australia
  • Pan Macmillan Australia

Now, these big guys publish hundreds of titles a year from a variety of different genres. Affirm Press is one that continues to make slow and steady process to move their way up the chain. They have gone from publishing around 9 titles a handful of years ago, to now publishing 99. Their books are quality and they have one extremely successful author under their belt – that being Pip Williams.

Pip is the author of ‘The Dictionary of Lost Words’, which won the Australian Book Industry Award in the category of General Fiction Prize in 2021. This is one of the best and most reputable prizes for a novel to win in Australia – especially during the pandemic!!

At the Roadshow, Affirm Press essentially shared their plans for 2023, their staffing team for our region of Australia and also some shiny new prerelease titles with us. It was also a great opportunity to meet other booksellers, some bookstore owners and event planners from the area. Oh and not to mention, Pip Williams was actually PRESENT at the event. It was wonderful to meet her and her professionalism + book expertise is divine. We were also introduced to Pip’s second novel, published in March this year, “The Bookbinder of Jericho”. Luckily, we each received an uncorrected proof copy of this new novel, as well as had it signed by Pip. This was a special moment for us and Pip as it was her first time signing ANY of the Bookbinder … it was a moment to remember.

I left the event and overnight stay feeling more connected to the book industry and fresh with creative ideas for the future of our local bookstore/author events.

We also took the opportunity in Canberra to visit 3 bookstores. I regularly love to do this (much to my families teasing, they say “You work in one! Why do you need to see more?!”) because every bookstore is SO unique. From the furnishings, the books, giftware and bookmarks stocked, to the staff and the recommendations. I always come back home with new ideas and inspiration. We visited BookFace in Gungahlin, Paperchain in Manuka & Dymocks in Belconnen.

So book lovers, what do you think? Do you like this little update on the life of a bookseller? Comment below if you’d like to see more blog posts here 🎤📚🎙

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)

💫 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: – Still Life by Sarah Winman — This is our Literary Lovers book club pick for November and I’m really excited to be deep diving into Florence, Italy and at the time of the WWI. I love historical fiction but haven’t picked one up in a while. All that mood reading has not had me reaching for one, however Still Life is calling to me. Keep you posted.

RF: Marriage for One by Ella Maise *full review here* — Just YES! Read this romance book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (4.5/5)

RN: The Tilt by Chris Hammer — An Australia crime fiction that has been one of our top sellers in the bookstore this month. I really enjoyed Scrublands by Hammer so look forward to giving this one a go. I know it is set around the Murray River area and is a generational mystery.

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

Author Talks with Meg Gatland-Veness

Meg Gatland-Veness 📸 by Dane Howell via Pantera Press

Meg Gatland-Veness is a powerhouse of a modern woman. She not only inspires and teaches children in her day to day life, but she also produces works of fiction, targeted to youth and inquisitive adults, that have such feeling, motivation and passion. Meg is the author of two published novels, ‘I Had Such Friends’ & ‘When Only One’.

Welcome Meg, to Mel Reviews Her Books 🌸🎙

Meg, I’ve found the experience of reading your novel extremely compelling, funny and moving. At what point did you decide to write such a prevalent, timely and frightening topic in an Australian setting? 

When I teach creative writing to my students I give them two pieces of advice. One, write what you know and two, write about the things that make you mad. And When Only One is a combination of these two things for me. My novels are all set in an Australian context because it is where I live and where I grew up and I think we need more fiction, especially YA fiction, set in Australia, especially regional and rural Australia. And secondly, it makes me so mad that in places like America, someone can buy a gun, take it into a school and shoot a bunch of children. And maybe that sort of thing doesn’t happen in Australia, but violence still does, every single day. Women are killed by their husbands, children are abused by the people who are supposed to protect them and teenagers are still taking their own lives. So, I’m not under the misconception that this novel will end violence, but if even one person who picks up this book thinks twice before enacting violence on another human being, then it will have been worth it.

How did you take care of yourself while writing on such a topic?

I actually wrote this book during lockdown, which I know was a tough time for a lot of people, but I actually really enjoyed it! I went for walks or kayaks everyday, I spent a lot of time with my partner and my three cats, I read lots of books, I got really into gardening. So, I was in a really good place mentally while I was writing the novel which helped a lot, I was able to do some writing in the morning and then spend the afternoon in the garden or out on the water.

Seeing Australian teenage life through Samson’s eyes was a perfect, well-rounded perspective. What was it about Samson that made him stand out as your main voice and lens? When did he come to you?

My first draft pages of the book were actually from the point of view of a third person omniscient narrator, but it wasn’t personal enough and it was too removed from the tragedy, so I rewrote from Sam’s perspective. I think one of the nice things about Sam as a narrator is that he is such an optimist and even though a lot of terrible things happen during the novel, his positive outlook on life helps to make the future not seem so bleak. I also wanted to buck that typical Aussie, surfer stereotype by making him quite sensitive and empathetic. Sam is a very loving person, he really cares deeply about his family and friends which I think is also something that is important to show some of our male readers that it’s okay to show affection.

Samson’s relationship with Emily is brotherly, deeply emotional, loving and romantic in ways. Did you always plan and foresee the events that would happen in Emily’s life, or did they unfold as your writing progressed? 

The first idea I had for this story was the relationship between Sam and Emily, before there was ever a school shooting or anything else. The very first scene I wrote was Emily and Sam at the front door handing over the shoe to Emily’s mother and the idea of them making paper boats to send down the gutters was another initial idea I had. Emily was always going to come from a family that was struggling to keep things together and Sam was always going to be the opposite, having a classic loving family, loads of brothers running around, a mother who cooks all his meals and washes his clothes and a father who works hard to pay the bills. Their relationship is really at the heart of this novel and everything else that happens is grounded by them.

What’s next on your agenda Meg? You’re an accomplished writer, dedicated high school drama teacher, and a woman who holds a large passion for advocating and creating topical conversations about the adversities faced by young Australians. Where can you see this all leading you?

Well, When Only One and I Had Such Friends are actually just two books in a set of ten that I plan to write in the same universe which span from about 1965 to 2018. I am currently working on another novel set in between the first two, but there are lots more that I have planned out as well. I also want to learn to sail!

Thank you Meg for your time, thoughts and responses on the blog! I look forward to seeing the next novel 😊💫🌸

Book Review: ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell

My, oh my, oh my! Now you all know how much I ADORED and have RAVED about ‘Devotion’ by Hannah Kent (CLICK HERE to read my review). If you have met me in the bookstore, I can guarantee I have put any and all of Hannah Kent’s books in your hands. For me to say that THIS BOOK – ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell, comes in as a close contender as one of my favourite books of 2022 is big. It’s BIG people!

‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell is well paced novel curated to intrigue and explore the devastatingly controlled life of Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara. By the age of 15 she was married to a Duke for the purposes of political and land gain. By 16 she was dead.

Set in the mid 1500’s, our opening scene introduces us to Lucrezia and her husband Alfonzo, as they dine for the very last time together before he supposedly, *as history believes* poisons her. This scene is chilling as we’re in the mind of a 16 year old girl who is contemplating what her life has come to and what to expect will come next. We then flash back in time to Lucrezia’s birth and the disconnected relationship she has growing up within her Medici family.

Lucrezia is the somewhat middle child Cosimo I de’ Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Eleanor of Toledo. If you know your Italian history, you’d know that the Medici lineage is one of the most infamous and long ruling families/Italian royalty. The marriage of Cosimo and Eleanor was a loving one, yet Eleanor’s expression of love towards Lucrezia was never the same compared to her other children.

Lucrezia had a milk mother (or wet nurse as the role is more commonly known), of whom was lower class. Lucrezia’s early life was spent in the cook room, playing with her milk mother’s daughter and not learning the skills of her royal family. This resulted in her being somewhat of an outcast with her siblings and also when it came to linear education. Her art was how she expressed herself from a very young age and it followed throughout her short life. She also has an unusually calm connection to animals.

Lucé’s connection to animals comes to the forefront of the novel when there is a piercing scene with herself, her siblings and her father, Cosimo. It was hard to remove this picture from my mind throughout the rest of the story. Maggie O’Farrell brings so much truth to Lucé’s story and it was actually rumoured that in real life, Cosmio held a collection of exotic animals in the basement of the Palazzo Vecchio. The fictional scene follows Lucrezia as she witnesses the arrival of a new animal, a tiger. She is possessed by its beauty, power and its inability to fit in with the other animals. She feel connection and comfort with this animal. They speak the same emotional and mental language. As she falls behind the group, she reached her hand in the tiger’s cage and awaits its presence. Slowly, the animal comes to her and connecting with her hand is the animals fur. It sees Lucé, it feels her, it knows her. They are two creatures but their feelings are that of one. Her Father, terrified to turn and see this animal near his daughter, seeks to destroy the animal immediately. This is ultimately a turning point in the novel.

I believe this pivotal scene mimics Lucé’s future courtship and marriage with Alfonso. He sees her as beautiful, powerful and caged. He takes advantage of this young, innocent and disconnected creature. His pure use for her is to produce heirs, yet down the line we learn that this is something that does not come easily for him.

I was seized by this story immediately and I believe you will be too. I wanted to learn about how this young girl had experienced a life completely out of her control. The 1500’s time period is one I have not explored a great deal before and Italian history is always something I will jump to read considering my own heritage. I am now adding all of Maggie O’Farrell’s books to my TBR because her writing was just spectacular. I don’t think any other author I’ve read before has made me feel the way she has. Perhaps Hannah Kent would truly be the closest. The ending of this novel was also the perfect way to close the fictional story of the beautiful Lucrezia, Duchess of Ferrara. I am still thinking of this novel months after reading a prerelease copy – I am glad to finally place it in book lovers hands this September.

Lucé’s love for art is her saviour at different times throughout the novel. Yet, when it comes to her famous marriage portrait arranged by Alfonso, she is taken with how the different forms of art can depict a scene or moment of a person. Her own portrait is created by a collection of specialsed artists, one of whom is selective mute – or so we think. His name is Jacopo. Jacopo will go on to play an important role in Lucé life, whether that be fictional or true – I do not know.

💫 Mini Review 💫

‘The It Girl’ by Ruth Ware

This was a quick read, with cliff hangers at the end of every chapter. The chapters themselves were also short and immersive which I really enjoyed. I would highly recommend for those who have enjoyed ‘Behind Her Eyes’ and ‘Pieces of Her’ on Netflix 📺💥🌪

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah met at Oxford. She was decked out in her luxury branded clothing, exclusive haircut and performative posture. She had a particular air about her, as some may say. April is clearly the kind of girl that makes herself known. She’s the ‘it girl’.

Hannah and April are in shared uni accommodation, therefore they begin to learn the ins and outs of each other’s life. Their friendship is magnetic, twisted and dangerous. April is a dominant personality, not only within their immediate friendship, but also within their outer circle of friends, with lecturers and classmates. This power allows her to manipulate those around her for the benefit of her own desires. April likes to plays pranks on her friends to induce the feeling of confusion and control. Her pranks initially start as a way of getting back at someone for not complimenting her – but her tactics, twists and stories start becoming expert level. They’re cruel and calculated, almost like she’s a whole other person.

Then it all goes wrong. 

On the closing night of April’s theatre performance on Oxford campus, she is all glamour and shine. Until Hannah discovers April’s body in her room later on that night. April is dead … or so Hannah thinks. April has been murdered … or so Hannah thinks. 

Fast forward to the present and we have Hannah happily married to April’s then boyfriend, Will. They are expecting their first child. Hannah and Will escaped to Scotland to free themselves of the ongoing press, court case and mystery motive surrounding April’s death. The trauma causes Hannah a lot of grief, especially with her being one of the focal witnesses in the ‘so-called’ attack.

We see Hannah start to retrace her memory on the lead up, and on the night of April’s death due to the ‘convicted’ murderer presently dying in prison. Hannah starts to remember and piece together the how’s, when’s and why’s of her friendship with April. She also begins to dig deeper into her repressed memories, which then leads to the questioning of her closest and most trustworthy friends at the time of their living at Oxford. Was someone close to Hannah more involved with April than she ever knew? Was someone out to get April? Who is in danger? Is April alive? 

Book Review: ‘ When Only One’ by Meg Gatland-Veness

How do you help someone who doesn’t want to be helped?

I need to be explicitly upfront about this novel and its raw topics before I feel dive into this review. This book surrounds the tragic event of a fictional high school shooting in Australia. It provided insight into grief and loss, poverty, domestic abuse, neglect and suicide. These are heavy topics but if you are up to it, do not let that deter you. ‘When Only One’ is one of THE BEST books I’ve read this year and I have absolutely no doubt, in all fibres of my body, that this book will be winning awards in the Australian contemporary young adult category.

Let’s jump into talking about this special novel shall we?

Samson is a teenager, the eldest of five boys and belongs to an average income earning household. His father works a desk job while his mother is unfaltering in her Catholic faith, stability and routine at home with five boys. Sam’s home structure is just that – stable. However his reemerged best friend, Emily, comes from a household that is anything but stable. Her father works when he wants too, drinks too much and is abusive toward her mother. Cynthia, Emily’s mum, suffers from mental illness which becomes quite evident early on in the book. Her mother collects shoes and requires a ‘shoe-toll’ before Emily or Sam can enter the house. She hoards these shoes and gathers them around her for a sense of comfort. The shoe collecting is quite humorous at times with Emily and Sam searching all over town for shoes, to Emily missing her shoes within the floor to ceiling shoe garage, to Sam giving up his good runners for a desperate chance to speak with Emily. Until one afternoon when Emily’s dad snaps – the humour is gone.

Emily’s household is violent, neglectful and poverty-stricken. The local town, school and teenagers know this but nobody believes they can or should do anything to help, as they themselves would rather turn a blind eye and continue on with their safe and comfortable lives. Emily finds her solace and safety in sneaking through Sam’s bedroom window and sleeping on top of his clean bed. Sam lets her, while he takes the bean bag. Emily sometimes stays for meals, plays with Sam’s brothers and gets driven around by Sam’s mum if they both need to go somewhere. However, there is always this divide and ‘frowned-upon’ nature that Sam’s mother holds towards Emily. She will never quite let her be a part of their family, even though it is clearly obvious that she needs help. Emily is also adamant on refusing help, claiming she can handle the cards life has dealt her, but she’s only a teenager. She shouldn’t have to handle these challenges on her own, let alone suffer the consequences of them.

Sam and his close group of guy friends are all training for the Ironman Championship and sporting scholarship. They all want to be fit, athletic and well trained sportsmen, like on the Nutri-grain cereal box. His closest friends consist of; Daniel – a flirtatious Italian; Jeff – quiet and hardworking; Patrick – from a well off family but doesn’t like to admit it; and Milo – who grew up on a dairy farm, his mother committed suicide from postnatal depression, leaving Milo, his under 1 year old sister and their father falling apart. There is a piercing passage on pg. 218 that throws the social divisions of Australian high school and small town communities in your face. It reads;

“At our school, there are three main factions. First, there’s the rich kids from town. They mostly have two working parents and a swimming pool. Then there’s us, mid-grounders. We live in town but the wrong side of the main road. We mostly have stay-at-home mums or single parents. We have clean clothes and brushed hair, but our uniforms are clearly from the faded second-hand box and not shiny and bright from the uniform shop. Jeff, Daniel and I fall into that category. Patrick likes to pretend he does, but he’s secretly a rich kid. Then there’s the third faction: the farm kids and derros who live on the outskirts. The Emilys and Milos of the school. The ones with foetal alcohol syndrome, or mums with no teeth, or brothers in jail, or dads with restraining orders against them. They are the ones who hardly ever last to the end of Year 10.”

Meg’s ability to put social hierarchy in such plain words created real feeling for me. I believe it rang true in its bluntness and clear vision through the teenage eyes of Sam, who is discovering the awareness of adversity and privilege all around him. From this, Sam is learning the unwavering power and influence that adversity and privilege have over a persons life. One teenager in this story who was aware of their privilege was Rei. Rei has recently moved to Sam’s school and it was love at first sight for him. Her Asian background and unidentified faith plagued Sam’s mother at times, but he does truly love Rei. Rei advocates for social justice, wins schooling debates and cries over inequalities. Meg does a great job of still painting Rei as a young teenager, with emotion led decision making, self-confidence issues and the feelings of grief and loss surrounding migrating to a new country.

Ultimately, the adversities, disadvantages and addictions faced by the characters in this story, create the demise for severe loss of mental control and physical actions. The escalation is chilling, sickening and unexplainable, but arguably explainable from the perspective of the one character committing the action. I have to say that the novel does not keep you in this heaviness. It gives the reader a clear feeling of immediate grief and how that looks in the realistic lives of teenagers, yet we also see and feel the ongoing cycle of grief. We learn its moving sensation and how it becomes a part of who you are, then you keep growing, then growing, then growing. To say this novel touched me is an understatement. Even now writing this review, I am flipping open pages and thinking gosh I want to write about this, and this, but I can only give you so much book lovers. I need to leave the rest up to you 💖

The Monthly Wrap: July

Well, well, well – that’s a stack and a half of books! I had a bit of a slumpy July to begin with and have now rediscovered my reading pace in the last week … so let’s get straight into it shall we 🤣📚

After finishing ‘The Marriage Portrait’ by Maggie O’Farrell, released in August and my second favourite literary novel of 2022 – closely tailing ‘Devotion’ by Hannah Kent (click here for review), I needed something to get me out of a gnarly book slump! I will be posting a book review of ‘The Marriage Portrait’ on its release day, that being the 30th of August. Yes, yes, I’m making you wait – but it’s for good reason 😍

I picked up ‘Salt and Skin’ by Eliza Henry-Jones thinking I will counteract my literary book slump with another EPIC literary fiction. Sadly, this did not go as planned. Salt and Skin covers heavy topics of grief, denial and continental travel. At this point in time, these were not topics I felt in the mood for reading (and as we know, I’m very much a mood reader). The bones of this book are fantastic and I have been pining for a pre-release copy of this to land in my hands for months now, therefore I will not give up! I am determined to read this in August and without fail, I will provide you with a review.

Mixing up my genres, I decided to dip my toes into a Fantasy – I thought this may help. Our Other Worlds Book Club had recently read and throughly enjoyed ‘Atlas Six’ by Olivie Blake and I had multiple members encourage me to pick it up. I found it available at my local library and decided now was the time. I really like the witchiness, the changing perspectives and learning each characters’ powers. The mystery behind their training and schooling is really interesting to follow and kept me gripped. However, a quarter of the way through this book, I went on holidays and it just wasn’t fitting the bill for a light, funny, holiday read – you know? Enter, ‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon.

Extract from 💫 Mini Review 💫:

“Ahh, this was just cute. It was cute and feel good and made me smile and made me laugh. It had all the feels and was the perfect enemies to lovers plot. 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 actually picked up my copy of ‘Today Tonight Tomorrow’ by Rachel Lynn Solomon while on holiday in Melbourne. I purchased it at Dymocks Melbourne, located on Collins Street. At the time, I also purchased ‘The Mars Room’ by Rachel Kushner (a literary fiction listed for the Booker Prize in 2018), ‘Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe’ by Toshikazu Kawaguchi (of which I read the first book last year and adored its Japanese morals, whimsical thinking and translation) & ‘The Soulmate Equation’ by Christina Lauren (recommended by an avid reader friend who also loved ‘The Unhoneymooners’ by Christina Lauren, as much as I did).

I then visited Canberra, in which I tracked down a Harry Hartog Bookseller. I purchased my copy of ‘Last Time We Met’ by Emily Houghton (contemporary romance) on that adventure! As you can tell from this stack of 5 book purchases, I was feeling the “easy reading’ vibes, with only one literary fiction thrown in there for good measure.

Back to what I actually read! Gosh Mel, way to get side tracked with book buying 😉 Presently, at home with Covid, I have had the time to finish a crime fiction novel, ‘The It Girl’ by Ruth Ware. This was suspenseful, twisty and great at developing characters into the kind of people you suspect and cannot stop following their motives. April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Decked out in her luxury branded clothing, exclusive haircut and performative posture, April is clearly the kind of girl that makes herself known. She’s the ‘it girl’. April is clever, manipulative and powerful, until she ends up murdered on the closing night of her theatre performance … and Hannah is the one to find her. Moving back and forth, past to present, we now learn that Hannah is married and expecting her first child to April’s then boyfriend. Suspicious – yes ✅. Hannah also totally isolated herself from a number of their friends at the time after the murder. Suspicious – yes ✅. Hannah also gave evidence against a security footman in court to convict him of April’s murder, yet he has always plead innocent. Suspicious – yes ✅. Lot’s of things don’t add up and it made for a very interesting story. Full review coming soon 👀

Last but not least, I am currently reading and endeavour to have finished in a few days (iso and all), ‘When Only One’ by Meg Gatland-Veness. This young adult fiction opens on a school shooting in an Australian high school. The book is giving feelings of being set around the 70’s or 80’s time era with reference to things such as old Nintendos and Catholic ideologies. The heaviness and seriousness of this novel hits you immediately and I felt gripped straight away. Meg then takes us back in time through the lens of a teenage boy and his life a year prior to the tragic event. We learn of him, his life goals, his friends and who is struggling within the community – letting the reader peel back slow layers of who may have committed this horrific crime. The writing style is perfect, captivating and feeling.

So that folks, is the STACK! What have you book lovers been reading for the month of July? Have you been book buying? Share below 💬🎙