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 🎙

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

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? 

💫 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!

Book Addict on tour

Happy FriYAY book lovers! I’m taking a trip and that means more time explore bookstores!

Sometimes my friends and family get a giggle out of how much time I love spending in bookstores – especially when I manage one full time. My answer is always the same, “They’re all so different!”. And it’s true! Every single bookstore has a different feel, they hold different stock and have staff with different book knowledge and opinions. That is something I just love exploring. There is also the fact that bookstores make me feel safe, comfortable and that I belong. Their familiarity is homey to me.

My shelves are overflowing, as I confessed to you all in my ‘That growing TBR pile … ‘ post, however there is no time like the present to find new books I didn’t know existed, get newly inspired by different environments and cultures, as well as just enjoying some time in a new place! All in all, every bookstore visit brings me back to my local feeling inspired and motivated 🤩

That growing TBR pile …

I am guilty of taking books home from work because they sound FANtastic! They sound up my ally. They sound like the kind of books I will (one day) read. And I’m sure I will one day read them …

I type these words as I glance over to my overflowing bookshelf and the pile sitting next to the bookshelf. And the two piles of books sitting next to my tv. And the pile of books in my tv shelf. And if I move my head to the side a touch, I can see the growing pile of books on my bedside … AHHHH

Okay okay, so my immediate TBR right now consists of:

Kinda wanna read a fantasy tho .. aye aye aye – the struggle 🤣 What does your TBR pile look like right now?

📸 @shamelesspod

My Giant TBR …

Rachel from FRIENDS is a total VIBE! She is honestly a replica of me everyday at work – struggling to stop the growth of my TBR (to be read) pile.

Cute new releases that I must purchase and read:

🍸 ‘The Good Girl Complex’ by Elle Kennedy

🍸 ‘The Winter Dress’ by Lauren Chater

🍸 ‘The Lincoln Highway’ by Amor Towles

🍸 ‘Careering’ by Daisy Buchanan

🍸 ‘The Girls of Lake Evelyn’ by Averil Kenny *WOO so excited for Averil – check out our interview here (Click me)

What new books are you excited for?

November New Releases

At the beginning of each month, the temptation strikes and I begin to see my Instagram flooding with new release titles! It’s so hard to draw your eyes away from new books (I say this while squinting at my bedside book stack … If I squint it becomes smaller right 😉). Here are 5 November releases to look forward too 📚

How We Love by Clementine Ford

There is love in this place, just like there is love everywhere we care to look for it. There is beauty and there is hope and there is a boy and there is a mother and there is the past and there is the future but most importantly there is the now, and everything that exists between them that has got them from one moment to the next. The now is where we find the golden glow where, for the briefest of moments, the sky rips open and we see what it is we are made of.
Tell me a story, he asked me.
And so I began.

Clementine Ford is a person who has loved deeply, strangely and with curiosity. She is fascinated by love and how it makes its home in our hearts and believes that the way we continue to surrender ourselves to love is an act of great faith and bravery.

This tender and lyrical memoir explores love in its many forms, through Clementine’s own experiences. With clear eyes and an open heart, she writes about losing her adored mother far too young, about the pain and confusion of first love – both platonic and romantic – and the joy and heartache of adult love. She writes movingly about the transcendent and transformative journey to motherhood and the similarly monumental path to self-love. ‘We love as children, as friends, as parents and, yes, sometimes as sexual beings, and none of it is more important than the other because all of it shows us who we are.’

Extract from Allen & Unwin

Devotion by Hannah Kent

Prussia, 1836: Hanne Nussbaum is a child of nature – she would rather run wild in the forest than conform to the limitations of womanhood. In her village of Kay, Hanne is friendless and considered an oddity . . . until she meets Thea.

Ocean, 1838: The Nussbaums are Old Lutherans, bound by God’s law and at odds with their King’s order for reform. Forced to flee religious persecution the families of Kay board a crowded, disease-riddled ship bound for the new colony of South Australia. In the face of brutal hardship, the beauty of whale song enters Hanne’s heart, along with the miracle of her love for Thea. Theirs is a bond that nothing can break.

The whale passed. The music faded.

South Australia, 1838: A new start in an old land. God, society and nature itself decree Hanne and Thea cannot be together. But within the impossible . . . is devotion.

Extract from Pan Macmillan AU

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact that Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is in a care facility with end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over, while carrying the burden of the secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, they are all hiding something.

The announcement of Stephen and Heather’s engagement threatens to set off a family implosion, with old wounds and dark secrets finally being forced to the surface.

A garage full of stolen goods. An old hot-water bottle, stuffed with cash. A blood-soaked wedding. And that’s only the beginning …

Extract from Pan Macmillan AU

The Last Woman in the World by Inga Simpson

It’s night, and the walls of Rachel’s home creak as they settle into the cover of darkness. Fear has led her to a reclusive life on the land, her only occasional contact with her sister.

A hammering on the door. There stands a mother, Hannah, with a sick baby. They are running for their lives from a mysterious death sweeping the Australian countryside.

Now Rachel must face her worst fears: should she take up the fight to help these strangers survive in a society she has rejected for so long?

From the critically acclaimed author of Mr Wigg and NestThe Last Woman in the World looks at how we treat our world and each other – and what it is that might ultimately redeem us.

Extract from Hachette AU

Wiradjuri Country by Larry Brandy

The Wiradjuri are the people of the three bila (rivers) and their nguram-bang (Country) is the second largest in Australia.

Come with Uncle Larry Brandy on an enlightening journey through his Country’s rivers, woodlands, grasslands and rocky outcrops, as well as the murri-yang (sky world). Along the way, young readers will encounter animals such as bila-durang (platypus), and maliyan (wedge-tailed eagle), plants like the maybal (grass tree) and yirany (yam daisy), and discover stories like that of Tiddalik the giant frog. They will learn how Wiradjuri people lived on their Country, using the flower spikes of the grass tree as spears, soaking its flowers in water to make a sweet drink and weaving its leaves into baskets.

This is a unique book combining language, culture, Indigenous history and storytelling, written by a Wiradjuri author. It features colour photographs of animals, plants and habitats, as well as illustrations by Indigenous artists Kristie Peters and Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney.

Extract from Collins Booksellers Wagga Wagga

There you have it book lovers! I hope you all have a fabulous week and enjoy browsing your local bookshops in person, online or via socials 📚