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Cover image of A stranger in the houseA stranger in the house
By Shari Lapena
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Rating: ★   ★   ★   ★ - 4 Stars
Genre: Thriller
A lovely leisurely Saturday afternoon, sitting in the cool breeze sharing the twists and turns of this page turner of a story. Big print! Added Bonus!! Would recommend this book to a friend.

Cover image of Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers
By Liane Moriarty
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Rating: ★   ★   ★   ★ - 4 Stars
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Australian Fiction
Really enjoyed the twists and turns and surprises in this novel! Would recommend this book to a friend.

Cover image of Dead to me by Lesley PearceDead to me
By Lesley Pearce
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Rating: ★   ★   ★   ★ - 4 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction

Told a great story of friendship hardship and love.

Would recommend this book to a friend.

The Pursuit / Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

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Genre: Detective/Thriller

This is the new Fox & O’Hare mystery, the fifth book in this co-authored series about suave con-man Nick Fox and straight-laced FBI agent Kate O’Hare working together to take down some of the world’s worst criminals. To the outside world Fox is a mastermind thief and most-wanted fugitive, whom Agent O’Hare is obsessed with tracking down. But covertly, the FBI task Fox and O’Hare to stop renowned diamond thief and psychopath, Dragan Kovic, from pulling off a crime that will kill thousands of people and devastate global financial markets. This novel is set in the sewers of the city of love, Paris, and the two crime fighters’ relationship is finally heating up!

If you are familiar with Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum novels you know her writing is sassy, funny and fast-paced with a decent mystery plot to keep you entertained. If you want a light mystery that will make you laugh, but won’t make you too squeamish, this is the book for you.

Turbo twenty-three
By Janet Evanovich
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Series: Stephanie Plum
Genre: Detective Fiction

In this next installment of the adventurous life of bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, Plum is chasing a crook who has skipped bail. With a trail of clues leading to a body topped in ice cream toppings, Plum decides to go undercover in the local ice cream factory to catch the killer and solve the mystery.   

This book also has a a touch of romantic intrigue with our heroine being tempted by a 'hot' mystery man even though she is sort of engaged to being engaged to Joe Morelli her Trenton cop who she has a special relationship with.

I really enjoyed this book as I have the rest of the series. The best part is that this book is great as a stand alone novel if you haven't read any of the other Stephanie Plum books - although you might find yourself hooked like me once you've had your first taste.

The Beast's GardenThe Beast's Garden / Kate Forsyth

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Rating: ★   ★   ★  ★   ★ - 5 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fairytale retelling

The Grimm Brothers published a beautiful version of the Beauty & the Beast tale called ‘The Singing, Springing Lark’ in 1819. It combines the well-known story of a daughter who marries a beast in order to save her father with another key fairy tale motif, the search for the lost bridegroom. In ‘The Singing, Springing Lark,’ the daughter grows to love her beast but unwittingly betrays him and he is turned into a dove. She follows the trail of blood and white feathers he leaves behind him for seven years, and, when she loses the trail, seeks help from the sun, the moon, and the four winds. Eventually she battles an evil enchantress and saves her husband, breaking the enchantment and turning him back into a man.

The Beast’s Garden is the kind of story that appears to be a simple fairy tale retelling, a classic tale woven through history; but in actual fact it is a powerful and important story, filled with bold thoughts and acts of defiance, bringing history to life under the guise of a mere fairy tale. It is brutal and honest, yet told so wonderfully that amongst the horror of war and the raw subject, you are captivated and amazed at what happens, real or otherwise.

From the first pages Forsyth holds nothing back, showing off the beauty and danger early on, something that remains until the very last page. The combination and close proximity beauty and danger has in this novel is wonderful, the way Forsyth shows how both existed side by side for so long also adds a lot of meaning. The fact day to day life coexisted with such horror, especially in the early years, is incredible to discover, even more so in novel form.

This is a story that is riddled with real faces and real events, connected and combined with characters that are filled with bravery, bold opinions, and incredible strengths. It is a novel told against the backdrop not only of history but of a fairytale, and one that demonstrates the power Germany had shown the world, but it also shows the power hidden within Germany itself. A spectacular story.

Queen of Spies: Daphne Park, Britain's Cold War Spy Master
By Paddy Hayes
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Rating: ★   ★   ★    - 3 Stars
Genre: Biography

Biography charting  the life of Daphne Park. Raised during her younger years in Africa, Daphne moved to London when she was 11 years old.

This biography, although slightly disjointed in writing style, captured my interest as I journeyed through the Cold War seeing events through the experience of a gutsy woman who became one of the highest ranking Females of the British Secret Service (SIS).

Recommend this book for those interested in biographies, intelligence and women's history.

RiskRisk / Fleur Ferris

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Rating: ★   ★   ★  ★   ★ - 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult

Taylor and Sierra have been best friends for their whole lives. But Taylor’s fed up. Why does Sierra always get what – and who – she wants? From kissing Taylor’s crush to stealing the guy they both met online for herself, Sierra doesn’t seem to notice when she hurts her friends.
So when Sierra says Jacob Jones is the one and asks her friends to cover for her while she goes to meet him for the first time, Taylor rolls her eyes.
But Sierra doesn’t come back when she said she would.
One day. Two days. Three . . .
What if Taylor’s worrying for nothing? What if Sierra’s just being Sierra, forgetting about everyone else to spend time with her new guy?
When Taylor finally tells Sierra’s mum that her daughter is missing, Taylor and her friends are thrown into a dark world they never even knew existed.
Can Taylor find Sierra’s abductor in time? Or should she be looking for a killer?

What Ferris has done is told a gripping story that is real and could easily be a report on the news. This is an incredible message about the people on the internet and the possible dangers they pose. It’s about mistakes, friendships, evil, and the modern world. The parallels with reality are evident and there is a strong message woven through it, but it isn’t overbearing. What makes this not a report on the news is that Ferris includes all the elements to make this story feel real and truthful, but at the same time she also makes it a compelling novel, with all the great novel components. It is a beautiful story that is told with such heart.

I implore everyone to read this book, it is not just a gripping and suspense filled story, but it acts as an educator for teens and parents alike. Ferris has used her skills and her background to create a captivating and truly beautiful story that also offers guidance and explores some very real consequences of the online world.

The Honeyfield Bequest / Anna Jacobs
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Rating: ★   ★   ★  ★   - 4 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction

1901, Wiltshire. Young Kathleen Keller is being forced into marriage with a man she despises by her cruel father. In an act of desperation, she runs away in a bid for a safer life, although one she might not have otherwise have chosen. But when tragedy strikes, Kathleen is left vulnerable and one man threatens the fragile peace she has made for herself.

Meanwhile, Nathan Perry works for his father's accountancy firm but yearns for something more satisfying. He is brought in to help with the purchase of Honeyfield House, intended as a safe house for women in trouble by a charitable benefactor, and there encounters Kathleen. Their lives are set to intertwine and neither will be the same again.

I loved this novel. Anna Jacobs has once again combined a story rich in historical detail with a gripping edge of your seat saga. This is the first novel in a series. Kathleen's story is not unlike the story of many women during this time period making it even more heart wrenching as you follow her journey.

An Echo in the BoneAn Echo in the Bone (Outlander #7) / Diana Gabaldon

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Rating: ★   ★   ★  ★ - 4 Stars
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fantasy

Jamie and Claire Fraser are back again in this seventh novel in the Outlander series which follows the story of Jacobite highlander Jamie Fraser and his time travelling wife Claire Fraser as they navigate through the Scottish uprising and American Revolution.

Jamie and Claire have had to flee from North Carolina with the American Revolution at its peak and personal danger becoming too great. Meanwhile, their daughter Brianna and her husband Roger have fled to the present day 20th century and are looking for clues as to the fate of their family they left behind.  

Once again Gabaldon has given us a novel rich in historical detail and a story dripping in personal intrigue. Admittedly I am a huge outlander fan and have thoroughly enjoyed journey through the past and back again with Jamie and Claire. However I found myself a little disappointed with the execution of the multilayered storyline. Unlike the previous books in the series which followed Jamie and Claire’s storyline, this novel attempts to share this spotlight with the stories of Brianna & Roger, Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray and Jamie’s illegitimate son William – a technique which, for me, diluted major plot points leaving me wishing for a little more.

BUT all is forgiven for me due to the dedication to historical detail and the cliff hanger ending which will definitely see me reaching for the next novel in the series.

Book of the Year
Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)
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Christina Stead Prize for Fiction
Locust Girl. A Lovesong, Merlinda Bobis (Spinifex Press)

UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing
An Astronaut’s Life, Sonja Dechian (Text Publishing)

Douglas Stewart Prize for Non‐fiction
Reckoning: A Memoir, Magda Szubanski (Text Publishing)
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Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry
brush, Joanne Burns (Giramondo)

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature
Teacup, Rebecca Young & Matt Ottley (Scholastic Australia)
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Ethel Turner Prize for Young People’s Literature
Laurinda, Alice Pung (Black Inc.)

Nick Enright Prize for Playwriting
The Bleeding Tree, Angus Cerini (Currency Press in association with Griffin Theatre Company)

Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting
Deadline Gallipoli, Episode 4: “The Letter”, Cate Shortland (Matchbox Pictures)

Multicultural NSW Award
Good Muslim Boy, Osamah Sami (Hardie Grant Books)
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Indigenous Writers Prize
Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Magabala Books)
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Heat and Light, Ellen van Neerven (University of Queensland Press)
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People’s Choice Award
The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton (Giramondo)

The Reluctant JillarooThe Reluctant Jillaroo / Kaz Delaney

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Rating: ★   ★   ★  ★   ★ - 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult/ Romance/ Mystery

Harper Gage has won the opportunity of a lifetime – ten days at Winmaroo Jillaroo and Jackaroo school. The camp could give her the recommendation she needs to go to the exclusive Agricoll for years 11 and 12. But when an accident leaves Harper hospitalised, her twin sister, Heidi, goes in her place. The only problem is that Heidi is not much of a country girl – not like her sister. And to make life even more complicated, her sister’s biggest rival Trent is going to be there. Will she be able to fool him?

And then the reality of the school hits Heidi hard. It’s all dust, snakes and heat – a million miles away from the surf she loves. When she meets the fun and handsome Chaz, life at the school suddenly doesn’t seem so bad, although with Trent acting up and trouble brewing with the other students, Heidi’s not sure how long she can keep her identity secret. And if her secret is revealed, will Chaz ever be able to trust her again?

Once again Kaz Delaney had me awake until 3am finishing one of her books. Read, finished, and loved the same day I got it and it was wonderful from start to finish! Heidi is a great and admirable character. She’s a Batman lover (a great start), but she is also friendly and welcoming, even when she is out of her depth, and her loyalty and determination outweigh her fears and trepidations. She’s uncertain in her surroundings but she is strong and determined, not willing to let her sister down. There really is so much to love about this story, it’s fun, suspenseful, and filled with mystery and madness that keeps you hooked from the start, not to mention an ending that will amaze!