REVIEW: Just Breathe by Andrew Daddo

Published:30th July 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

Pages: 362

Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher

RRP: $17.99

4/5 Stars

Hendrix’s father has a vision – to see Hendrix run for Australia at the Olympics. His days are completely mapped out – what he eats, when he trains, when he sleeps, even the air he breathes.

There was never room in that vision for a girl, especially in the lead-up to the Nationals. Yet fate works in funny ways, and when Hendrix literally bowls Emily over on a training run, he just can’t get her out of his head. His life and priorities take a turn as he falls for her.

But Emily has a deadly secret that she’s scared to share even with Hendrix. As their bond grows and Hendrix strays further from his father’s strict regime, the tension builds to a heart-wrenching climax.

Just Breathe is a poignant coming of age story about taking every chance and opportunity that comes your way in life. For many of us, it’s a story that will feel familiar in some ways, but it doesn’t read cliché. In fact, Andrew Daddo has written an astounding beautiful narrative full of heart and soul that I dare anyone to remain unmoved by.

Hendrix and Emily are worlds apart. Every minute of Hendrix’s life is devoted to one purpose, racing smarter and faster so that he can one day achieve his dream to represent Australia in the Olympics. Emily, on the other hand, lives each day in fear of the next. She races daily from headaches and fears of the unknown, waiting for the day the other shoe drops and the world around her comes crashing down. Unlike Hendrix however, that doesn’t stop her from enjoying her teenage years though, and she lives each day as it comes, for she never knows if it may be her last.

Emily, a country girl at heart, is literally bowled over by city boy Hendrix in mishap on the streets. Pissed off and protective of her pup, Emily snaps at him, marking her memory forever in Hendrix’s mind. What follows, is an intense connection as two world’s collide, from hormonal teens, to family complications and life restrictions, these pair are now their own life raft in a world full of rough seas and its up to them to see if they can surface again.

I loved the subtle character growth both Emily and Hendrix endure within this novel. Both characters are snarky, snappy, typical teens at the beginning, and yet by midway, we can see the adults they will become. It’s kind of rare insight to witness this growth, that usual passes by unseen in real life, all of which makes this book that more incredible.

If you are looking for a big Hollywood YA Novel, Just Breathe, is not the book for you. It’s a contemporary novel about living in Melbourne and dealing with teenage, and bigger than teenage, issues of today. It’s a book with a special blend of heart and soul and authenticity, but one that is also uniquely Australian in feel, but universal in appeal.

Just Breathe is a superbly written book. Daddo’s writing is fluid and spectacular to behold. His imagery is crystal clear and his characters, their feelings and emotional journey’s are larger than life. Most importantly however, while this story of hardship and finding who out you are no matter the cost is one that has been written time and time again, Daddo has managed to write a marvellous narrative that captures the essence and heart of being young and in love, of having the entire world ahead of you and feeling caught and suffocated by it all at once. It’s a story that has a whole lot of heart, is raw in parts and is meant to keep you on you toes. It’s a story for the ages.

 

 

To learn more about Andrew Daddo, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Random House  Australia | Andrew Daddo’s website | Instagram |

 

To purchase a copy of Just Breathe, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Books Australia | Amazon AUS | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD |

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REVIEW: Go Go And The Silver Shoes by Jane Goodwin and Anna Walker

Published: 26th February 2018

Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia

Pages: 32

Format: Hardcover picture book courtesy of the publisher:

RRP: $24.99

4/5 Stars 

From the much-loved picture-book partnership comes this sparkly story of one independently minded little girl, and the unexpected, precious ways life sometimes works.

When Go Go is allowed to buy the most beautiful shoes ever, she decides she will wear them EVERYWHERE!
Even to the creek, where she and her brothers go adventuring.

But – Oh no, Go Go! – that’s when a terrible thing happens . . .

Go Go and The Silver Shoes by Jane Godwin and Anna Walker is an adorable picture book about favourite belongings, bad decisions, lost items and learning to share.

Go Go is a fiercely independent little girl who walks to the beat of her own drum. With three older brothers, and all their hand me down clothes, she has learnt to embrace her own style and second hand clothing. When given the most amazing pair of silver shoes that she has ever laid eyes on, she never wants to take them off. Even when venturing on epic adventures with her brothers and against her mother’s advice. Tragedy strikes and one of the shoes are lost, after mopping initially, Go Go sets about finding what she can do with one shoe.

What I love about this book is the strength of character and resilience Go Go display. Here is a child that is bullied at school for her unusual clothing style, and her decision to wear different (non-matching) shoes. She shows real value and stands out as a shining example of the juxtaposition between the values we place on everyday items. Most people in Go Go’s situation would have thrown the useless shoe away. Not Go Go though, her most prized possession maybe missing it’s other half but it is still deeply personal and special to her.

Because of her tenacity, resilience and strength of character, Go Go is led back to her other shoe when the new girl Ellie arrives at school and thus a unique, special and unshakeable friendship is born.

Go Go and The Silver Shoes is a rewarding and fun picture book about embracing life’s challenges, friendship and being your own person. The text and narrative is simple and easy to understand, while the illustrations are engaging, making this an ideal picture book for young children and those young at heart.

To purchase a copy of Go Go and The Silver Shoes, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Books Australia | Amazon AU | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD

To learn more about Jane Godwin, visit the following social media sites:

 

To learn more about Anna Walker, visit the following social media sites:

 

 

 

REVIEW: The Player & The Pixie (Rugby Book 2) by LH Cosway & Penny Reid

Published: 12th April 2016

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 326

Format: Audio book (purchased from Audible)

RRP: $7.99 (ebook)\ $36.20 for audible or $14.95 with subscription

4/5 Stars 

How can someone so smokin’ hot be so bad in bed? I mean, Sean Cassidy is absolute rubbish. RUBBISH. He is the epitome of walking, talking false advertising and I want a refund! Plus he’s an arsehole. So… what is wrong with me that I can’t stop thinking about him?

THE PIXIE
Lucy Fitzpatrick doesn’t like rugby.
As the little sister of Ireland’s most infamous rugby player, Lucy can’t seem to escape the championship-sized shadow cast by her big brother, or her mother’s frequent attempts to micromanage her future. Her rainbow hair is as free-spirited as her quest for inner peace, yet overbearing expectations keep bringing her down. And when she’s down, her compulsive little problem lands her in seriously big trouble.

THE PLAYER
Sean Cassidy is a cold-hearted brute… or so he’s been told. Frequently. By everyone.
His blonde locks, baby blues, and rock hard bod make ladies the world over drool with desire. As the rugby world’s second most infamous player, he should be basking in his success. But Sean has never been content settling for second place, and his frequent confrontations with Lucy’s big brother leave him cold. And when he’s cold, his compulsive little problem lands him in the lap of Lucy Fitzpatrick.

THE PLAN
Sean has a problem only Lucy can solve. Lucy has a problem only Sean can fix. The solution seems obvious: you scratch my back, and I’ll bail you out of jail. But when their business arrangement unexpectedly leaves Sean scorching hot and Lucy on the precipice of inner peace, can they convince the world—and Lucy’s big brother in particular—that this is the real deal?

Either way, both the Player and the Pixie are about to teach each other some pretty monumental lessons about family, life, but most importantly, love.

Continuing on from the success of the Hooker and the Hermit, L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid are back with the second book in the Ruby Series, The Player And the Pixie.

After devouring the first book (Hooker and the Hermit) in the Rugby series and falling head over heals for Annie and Ronan, I was a bit weary going into The Player And the Pixie.  As it turns out, I needn’t have been as Cosway and Reid have delivered another stand out sports romance with book two and cemented their place as must-buy and must-read authors for me.

Unlike Hooker and the Hermit, The Player And the Pixie is the story of Ronan’s younger sister Lucy Fitzpatrick, and his team mate Sean Cassidy. Following an usual mix of the tropes best friend’s little sister and enemies to lovers,  what ensures is an explosive read full of sizzling sexual chemistry and secrecy like no other.

It’s no secret that Sean Cassidy is jealous of Ronan Fitzpatrick’s stardom. Believing whole heartedly that Ronan is gifted everything on a silver spoon, and seeing the man rebound after the disastrous PR stunt of the year before with not only a halo, but a hot girlfriend to boot, Sean believes it’s his right to pull his honourable captain down a peg and put him back in his place… that is behind Sean Cassidy of course. With Sean’s sights set on Ronan’s younger sister as his chess piece of torture, nothing and no one will stand in his way and if he takes down two Fitzpatrick’s as he does so, then so be it.

I loved returning to the world of this brooding Irish rugby team and their fierce female companions. With cameos from Annie and Ronan and the rest of the rugby team, it kind of felt like we never left the world of book one. It was refreshing to get to know the bad-boy-of-rugby Sean Cassidy more in this instalment, as his antics and Lucy’s whole heartedly goodness  and quirky actions threatened to steal the limelight of book one.

I really enjoyed the contrast between these two very different characters. Sean with his brooding, argumentative ways, always fighting to get the last word and prove that he is the best, and Lucy with her ability to look beyond past transgressions and see the good in everyone, with her quirky smile and gently ways, they really do hail from different worlds. It was also interesting to see the transformation of the two as they played off each others vulnerabilities and strengths; Lucy allowed Sean to grow more than a mean brute and he in turn stood up for Lucy when she wouldn’t and couldn’t. Sean grounded Lucy, while Lucy set him free from his jealousy and rivalry,but not without having to withstand some major obstacles. That is to say, that both characters undergo some pretty heavy soul searching and character growth in the book.

Rest assured,The Player And the Pixie , is yet another fantastic read and a great addition to the growing Rugby Series by L. H Cosway and Penny Reid.

 

To learn more about  L. H Cosway and Penny Reid, visit the following social media sites:

L.H Cosway – Goodreads |Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |Pinterest

Penny Reid –  Goodreads | Author Website | Instagram | Twitter |  Facebook | Pinterest

To purchase a copy of The Hooker & The Hermit, visit the following online retailers:

Ebook – Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords |  ibooks | Auidble

Paperback – Book Depository | Barnes & Noble | Booktopia

REVIEW: Honest Love by Lauren K Mckellar (Twisted Hearts Duo, Book 1)

Published: 8th March 2018

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 202

Format: Paperback (purchased)

RRP: $1.27 (AU for the ebook); $15 for paperback

4/5 Stars

When you’ve got nothing left to live for you’ve got nothing left to lose.

In one tragic moment, Cameron Lewis lost everything. His fiance. His unborn child. His perfect life.

Now, he does what needs to be done in order to get by. Work hard. Play it safe. They’re his mottos, and he’s not going to break them.

Until a beautiful woman with the ocean in her eyes and freedom in her soul comes to his rescue. She’s never known the kind of tragedy he has–and that’s what makes her so damn appealing.

But can Cameron finally let go and risk that last piece of himself? Will honest love be enough?

Having read almost all of Lauren K McKellar’s books before, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into with Honest Love. I knew there would be superb writing, gut wrenching stories, characters that feel like your very own family, and a story that will haunt you long after you turn the last page… and yet I still was not ready for this book.

Honest Love is an aftermath book, and thus one of my favourite kinds of books to read, as we get to see characters reacting to events that would floor the best of us and leave us a heaping mess.

Written from the perspective of Cameron Lewis, a man struggling with his new found fatherhood and a Airbus of emotional baggage, McKellar is able to take the reader through 202 pages of emotional trauma, uplifting hope and the scandalous of revelations. As the name suggests, Honest Love is a raw and emotional read that packs a truckload of heavy punches and leaves no room for the reader to question the characters antics. It’s a narrative that is so real and honest, it could have happened to anyone of us, which makes it all that more powerful and earth shatteringly devastating. It’s a book that tore me to shreds, and offered a glimmer of hope while doing so.

I struggled to find my feet in the opening of this novel, so I implore anyone struggling with the same thing to bear with it and keep reading; it all makes sense in hindsight!

Honest Love is set in Newcastle and the Central Coast of Australia. It was both a weirdly exhilarating and bewildering experience to read a story set in amongst your own backyards. I am so used to reading American collage stories, and fantasy universes, that it both delighted me and took me by surprise. There is just something refreshing about reading books set in areas you know and love, with places you recognise not just from books and TV Shows, but from your own personal experiences and memories.

Honest Love is the first book in a duology, so make sure you have Bitter Truths on hand as soon as you finish Honest Love. Because, boy are you going to need it!

 

To learn more about Lauren K McKellar, visit the following social media pages:

Lauren’s Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |

 

To purchase a copy of Honest Love, visit the following online retailers:

Amazon AUS | AMAZON CA | Amazon uk | Amazon US |

 

REVIEW: Harley & Rose by Carmen Jenner

Published: 29th September 2016

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages:422

Format: Signed Paperback (purchased from author at FYM 2017)

RRP: $0.99 (Amazon AUS) | Paperback via Amazon $29.36

4.5/5 Stars 

Ever since she was a little girl, thirty-year-old Rose dreamed of the day Harley would carry her across the threshold on their honeymoon. So what if this isn’t her actual wedding day, and that she’s only here because Harley was left at the altar just a few hours earlier?

Trading San Francisco for paradise and swapping her bridesmaid’s bouquet for a Blue Hawaii, Rose hopes she can finally escape the friend zone.

Once upon a time they had been more than friends, but life got in the way. She’s spent every day since wishing Harley would get a clue.

She’s always been his best friend.

He’s always been hers.

She’s in love with him.

He’s… not in love with her.

He’s… marrying someone else.

He’s… hiding something.

He’s… well—it’s complicated.

This book … it’s something else, something raw and powerful and so utterly beautiful that you know it’s going to shatter your soul into a million tiny pieces, but you can never look away.

I picked up a copy of this book from Carmen Jenner at FYM (Fictionally Yours Melbourne) in 2017. At the time, the book had been out for a year already to rave reviews, and everyone was telling me I HAD to read the book. So I brought a copy. When Carmen signed my book, she told me (and inscribed it inside the book itself) that I would need tissues and vodka for when I read it. So this January, I found my supplies and dived into the book whole heatedly…. I think it’s safe to say that part of my heart still rests inside the book….

Harley & Rose is a beautiful and moving story about two best friends and how life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows all the time. It’s the flip side to a lot of romances on the market these days, where the heroine and hero meet, overcome some small (that reads massive) issues and live happily ever after. Yeah, that doesn’t  even come close to Harley & Rose. Instead we have two best friends who we are guided through life with and learn rather harshly alongside them what its really like.

Harley and Rose are next door neighbours, best friends, lovers, ex’s  and well just about everything one person could be to another. In other words they have the worlds most complicated, complex and close relationship. It suits them … until it doesn’t any more. When the cracks start to show, the relationships break down and the two are left to face what is left behind, they need to dig deep to see who they are as people on their own, before they can decide what is best for themselves and the other, before the toxicity of their failing friendship destroys everything.

What I loved most about this book was it’s heart. Carmen Jenner is no stranger to bringing the real world into the fictional dimensions of ‘happy’ and screwing with it, but she does it all with so much heart. Literally, this book is overflowing with feelings, the kind that push themselves upon a reader in all the right, and somewhat overwhelming, ways.

Were the characters themselves always likeable? No. Harley frustrated me beyond belief at times, and I was heartbroken time and time again for Rose when he dragged her around yet again.  I wanted her to stand up to him, and for him to stop hiding behind the secret he teases the reader with. I just wanted them to be happy. No … I wanted them to have the fairytale ending, because surely after all the crap the two of them put themselves through, they deserved that at least.

Harley & Rose is the kind of book that gives you whiplash from the back and forth, that brings you to incredible highs, only to leave you free falling into the black abyss below before too long. It’s the kind of book where you scream and scream at the characters to just talk to each other, to not be so pig headed, but you also reach through the pages and cuddle them close and tell them everything will be okay. It’s the type of book that will leave you bruised and battered, but ultimately better off. It’s the kind of book makes YOU feel the story, even when you want nothing but to walk away.

I can’t really say too much about the story itself without giving away like ALL of the story, but what I can tell you is that Carmen Jenner has created a beautiful and epic love story that shall stand the test of time.

 

To learn more about Carmen Jenner, visit the following social media sites:

Carmen Jenner’s Website | Facebook | Twitter |Instagram | Pinterest 

To purchase a copy of Harley & Rose, visit the following online retailers;

Ebook – Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Paperback-  Booktopia | Amazon AUS 

 

REVIEW: Girl On Wire by Lucy Estela & Elise Hurst

Published:2nd July 2018

Publisher: Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House

Pages: 32

Format: Hardback picture book (received from the publisher for review)

RRP: $24.99

4.5/5 Stars

A poignantly beautiful story from the CBCA Shortlisted author of Suri’s Wall, Lucy Estela, and Prime Minister’s Literary Award shortlisted illustrator of Adelaide’s Secret World, Elise Hurst.

Girl on Wire is a simple yet brilliantly uplifting allegory of a young girl struggling to build her self-esteem and overcome the anxiety that many children feel as they grow – she walks the tightrope, afraid she will fall, but with the support of those she loves, her toes grip the wire and she walks forward, on her own, with a new confidence.

Girl on Wire by Lucy Estela and Elise Hurst is a beauty to behold.

Girl on Wire  is the tale of a young girl as she crosses the wire – loaded with self doubt, anxiety and battling the pressure of heavy winds and dark skies, the child must learn to over come all obstacles and rise above the difficulties thrown her way.

It’s clearly evident that while Girl on Wire  is a literal representation of a girl walking across a tightrope, the mental and emotional impacts of this book are much more far reaching. The allegory depicted can be carried through to all facets and ages in life, making Estela and Hurst’s messages that much more profound.

“You are brave.

You are strong.

You can do anything.

You can be anything,

but it’s all up to you.”

The first thing I noticed of this astounding picture book was Elise Hurst’s stunning illustrations. While Lucy Estela’s text is uplifting, and all about confidence and finding your own way and voice in the shaky world we live in, it’s Hurst’s illustrations that really capture the readers attention and stay with you long after the book has been closed. Hurst’s illustrations really capture the young girls fears and terror as she is walking alone through her issues and on that tightrope -likewise it also captures the relief of success and accomplishment when she has overcome the difficult task at hand.

Furthermore the superb use of colour by Hurst heightens the emotion and really brings home how dark and deep this picture book does delve into the human psyche.  The beginning of the book is dark and claustrophobic in many ways, slowly transitioning into lighter and more airer colours as the girl regains her sense of balance, confidence and self.

All in all this is a stunning picture book for older readers. While the message may be lost on toddlers and younger children, I believe children from the age of 8/9 years and up can gain a lot from this book as they transition through some of the toughest years of their lives.

 

To purchase a copy of Girl on Wire, visit the following online retailers:

Penguin Random House | Booktopia | Amazon AUS | Dymocks |

 

To learn more about Lucy Estela, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Random House Australia | Lucy’s website

 

To learn more about Elise Hurst, visit the following social media sites:

Penguin Random House Australia Elise’s website | Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

 

REVIEW: The Hooker And The Hermit (Rugby Book 1) by L.H. Cosway and Penny Reid

Published:2nd February 2015

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages:369

Format: Audio book (purchased from Audible)

RRP: $6.99 for the ebook

5/5 Stars 

New York’s Finest
Blogging as *The Socialmedialite*
April 22
LADIES AND GENTS! I have an announcement!

You know that guy I featured on my blog a few months ago? The really, really hot Irish rugby player who plays the position of ‘hooker’ in the RLI (Rugby League International)? The one with the anger management issues, the body of a gladiator and the face of a movie star? The one with the questionable fashion choices leading me to ask whether he was the lovechild of a leprechaun and a hobbit? Ronan Fitzpatrick? Yeah, that guy.

Well, I have a confession to make…

THE HERMIT

Annie Catrel, social media expert extraordinaire at Davidson & Croft Media and clandestine celebrity blogger, can make anyone shine in the court of public opinion. She is the Socialmedialite, anonymous creator of New York’s Finest and the internet’s darling. Virtual reality is Annie’s forte, but actual reality? Not so much.

THE HOOKER

Ronan Fitzpatrick, aka the best hooker the world of rugby has seen in decades, despises the media—social or otherwise. The press has spun a web of lies depicting him as rugby’s wild and reckless bad boy. Suspended from his team, Ronan has come to Manhattan to escape the drama, lay low, fly under the radar. Only, Ronan isn’t easy to overlook, and he can’t escape the notice of the Socialmedialite…

THE PLAN

When Ronan is sent to Davidson & Croft Media to reshape his public image, he never expects to cross paths with shy but beautiful Annie, nor does he expect his fierce attraction to her. He couldn’t be happier when her boss suggests pairing them together.

What lengths will Annie take to keep her virtual identity concealed? And what happens when the hooker discovers who the hermit really is?

The Hooker and The Hermit is the first book in the Rugby Series by L.H Cosway and Penny Reid. Coincidentally, it’s also the first book I’ve read by either author, and one that has now spanned a deep love for Rugby, both authors and every book in their back list; it’s just that good!

I listened to the audio of this book in my car, and found myself wanting to extend my trips and actively wishing for traffic so that I could stay and listen to more and more of the utterly addictive, and hell of a sexy romance read that The Hooker and The Hermit is.

Annie Catrel is an introvert. She hides away from the world and human interaction at every opportunity. Which would be fine if she wasn’t living a secret double life as the life-of-the-party online socialite and celebrity blogger, a position that just put her her 9-5 job in jeopardy and put her square in the arms of one of the world’s most notorious rugby players.

Ronan Fitzpatrick is a ruggedly handsome Irish rugby player who has recently fallen from grace after an altercation with a fellow team mate. Seeking some professional PR help, he enlists Davidson & Croft media to repair his image while holidaying in America. What he didn’t expect to find was a fiery introvert with a big secret that could land him in even hotter water.

There is not much more to say except I loved Annie and Ronan. Their chemistry was off the chart and the pair clashed and drew each other together so well, that I found myself hooked on every word of the book. As an audio book, the Irish narration for Ronan had me gaga-ing … who doesn’t love an Irish accent? … It was just so good!

All in all, from the very opening chapter of the The Hooker and The Hermit, I was completely and utterly hooked by the hilarious and compelling story of Annie and Ronan. With a cute meet, dark secrets, and a lot of sexual chemistry, it’s a story that is easily absorbing and takes over everything. I found myself thinking about these characters when at work, about wondering how they would overcome their battles and obstacles and most of all wondering what they were up to next. It’s seamlessly written by two super star writers, and the writing just flows effortlessly, and more importantly authentically.

I highly recommend this one!

 

To learn more about  L. H Cosway and Penny Reid, visit the following social media sites:

L.H Cosway – Goodreads |Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram |Pinterest

Penny Reid –  Goodreads | Author Website | Instagram | Twitter |  Facebook | Pinterest

To purchase a copy of The Hooker & The Hermit, visit the following online retailers:

Ebook – Amazon AUS | Amazon US | Amazon UK | SmashwordsGoogle Play | Kobo | ibooks 

Paperback – Book Depository | Barnes & Noble |