Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Botanist's Daughter by Kayte Nunn

Title:  The Botanist’s Daughter
Author: Kayte Nunn
Publisher: 31st July 2018 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 400 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction
My Rating: 5 crowns

In Victorian England, headstrong adventuress Elizabeth takes up her late father's quest for a rare, miraculous plant. She faces a perilous sea voyage, unforeseen dangers and treachery that threatens her entire family.
In present-day Australia, Anna finds a mysterious metal box containing a sketchbook of dazzling watercolours, a photograph inscribed 'Spring 1886' and a small bag of seeds. It sets her on a path far from her safe, carefully ordered life, and on a journey that will force her to face her own demons.
In this spellbinding botanical odyssey of discovery, desire and deception, Kayte Nunn has so exquisitely researched nineteenth-century Cornwall and Chile you can almost smell the fragrance of the flowers, the touch of the flora on your fingertips . . .
My Thoughts

The Botanist’s Daughter is a remarkable read that I thoroughly enjoyed. From beginning to end I was enthralled as this book ticked all the boxes in what I look for in a good, well rounded story. A well documented dual narrative (always tricky to pull off) that was so well executed with past and present stories sublimely linked, you will fall under its spell from the moment the box of treasures is discovered in the opening pages.

“... as Anna looked at it she had a sudden premonition, a feeling of apprehension. Exactly what had she discovered? What changes would this bring to her carefully ordered life?”

Chapters are presented from the alternating POV of our two female leads - two journeys, separated by time but bound together through adventuring into the unknown. They may have been different women from different centuries but both were most certainly on a journey of discovery. Elizabeth would travel from Cornwall, England to Valparaiso, Chile in an attempt to honour her father’s dying wish. Anna would travel from Sydney to Cornwall to find answers to her box of discoveries. Both women and their stories will engage you in their determination to overcome obstacles. The characters and indeed both tales, truly complement each other to provide a captivating tale (or two!) I humorously appreciated the ‘Australianisms’, they brought a smile to my face! With references from the ‘old dunny’ (toilet) to ....

“...skipping ahead of them over the cracks in the pavement, eager for the Redskins and Violet Crumbles that were stacked on the shop’s narrow shelves.”

For Kayte’s Nunn’s first attempt at historical fiction, she has done an amazing job. The secondary characters have depth, the plot never drags, the scenic descriptions - particularly of Chile - are vivid and the way all the puzzle pieces are finally brought together in the end is most satisfying. There is some romance in both timelines, but I appreciate how the author stayed true to the heart of the novel, that being, one of a family mystery.

I have no hesitation in highly recommending The Botanist’s Daughter to lovers of historical fiction, dual narratives and an enticing mystery (this has a real Kate Morton flavour). One would be hard pressed not to pick up this stunning book with a cover which in itself is so very inviting. From the locked box containing a diary detailing a long ago journey, to two strong and compelling females imbued with curiosity and courage to set out on journeys of discovery across the globe must surely intrigue the best of us.

“She was, of course, there to fulfil the promise she had made him, the promise that had kept her from collapsing with uncontrollable grief when he died, and had sustained her throughout the long and terrible voyage.”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Friday, August 10, 2018

Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Bellewether
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Publisher: 7 August 2018 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Pages: 448 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance
My Rating: 4 crowns

"The house, when I first saw it, seemed intent on guarding what it knew; but we all learned, by the end of it, that secrets aren't such easy things to keep."
It's late summer, war is raging, and families are torn apart by divided loyalties and deadly secrets. In this complex and dangerous time, a young French Canadian lieutenant is captured and billeted with a Long Island family, an unwilling and unwelcome guest. As he begins to pitch in with the never-ending household tasks and farm chores, Jean-Philippe de Sabran finds himself drawn to the daughter of the house. Slowly, Lydia Wilde comes to lean on Jean-Philippe, true soldier and gentleman, until their lives become inextricably intertwined. Legend has it that the forbidden love between Jean-Philippe and Lydia ended tragically, but centuries later, the clues they left behind slowly unveil the true story.
Part history, part romance, and all kinds of magic, Susanna Kearsley's latest masterpiece will draw you in and never let you go, even long after you've closed the last page.
My Thoughts

What is there not to love about a new Susanna Kearsley book! Her stories are always fabulously written, well researched and completely captivating. To my mind she is the Queen of dual time storylines. When you open the pages of one of Susanna’s books, you enter into a new world, one that guarantees rich historical drama combined with present day ties.

‘I was motivated even more right now by seeing those two simple, soulless dates bookending what had been the life of a young woman; and by knowing that, through research, I could fill the space between those dates with something that approached that woman’s shape.’

So living up to the precedents set, Bellwether will present two women from two different times, yet seemingly tied together in some way. There will be plenty of historical detail, I knew so very little about the Seven Years War and there is much to learn about the British, French and slavery. There are many interesting characters here, from both timelines, but you are sure to develop a fondness for the Wilde family. In fact Susanna’s explanation at the end of the book will shed some interesting light on what inspired her, characters both real and in some cases based closely on prevalent figures of the day.  They were interesting and easy to connect with. I enjoyed the multiple perspectives and how Susanna cleverly mirrored past with present - particularly how she linked the end and beginning of many chapters even though the dates differed.

Now whilst I enjoyed the book, I will have to confess that I was somewhat disappointed. Her writing finesse is indisputable, however, it was just so slow, really in need of more drama and action scattered throughout. There were, at times, endless descriptions of banal things. Even the ending proved a little too neat and tidy for some characters,  yet others were left with unresolved issues. I’m still even a little confused over the significance of the title of the book.

So whilst I enjoyed the book, I did not love the book - rich in historical fiction and detail but just a little too slow in parts for me.

‘He was looking for the wound. He wouldn’t find one.  All her true wounds were so deep within her nobody would ever see them’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.