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, November 16, 2020

Review: When The Music Stops

When The Music Stops
Author: Joe Heap

Publisher: September 2020 by HarperCollins Australia

Pages: 360 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: contemporary

My Rating: 5 crowns


This is the story of Ella.

And Robert.

And of all the things they should have said, but never did.

Through seven key moments and seven key people their journey intertwines.

From the streets of Glasgow during WW2 to the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of London in the 60s and beyond, this is a story of love and near misses. Of those who come in to our lives and leave it too soon. And of those who stay with you forever…

My Thoughts

‘My whole life was about making some noise to fill the silence, or mask it. Music was an attractive way of doing that, but now music isn’t enough.’

Bibliophiles will understand that every so often a book comes along that is so special it forever leaves a mark on its reader. When The Music Stops is one such book. This book is unique and exquisitely captivating, as it slowly draws you in and stays with you long after the final page is turned. From its traumatic start, the story is one emotional ride - I will continue to reflect on these characters for a long time to come. 

This book takes seven key moments in Ella’s life - seven key individuals throughout her long life - all tied together with her great love of music and how it evokes the memories of those times. These are the people who either appear in more than one period or are special with a lesson for just that one moment in time. There are many highs and many devastating lows as each critical episode is retold and added to the present day drama Ella finds herself in. I simply don’t want to give too much away as it is such an engaging read. 

‘When would you go back to, if you could?’ Ella asks, in a lull ... she often poses this question to herself ... how far back would she have to go, to make things how she wants them to be?’

Starting in wartime Glasgow, through to London in the sixties, to the present day on a sailboat during a storm - these key events highlight how the course of one’s life can change in an instant. Those possible missed opportunities or fate playing an often unfair role in how one’s life can take shape. Undoubtedly something we can all relate to and only with hindsight understand the lasting ramifications. 

The author, Joe Heap, is to be commended for the heartbreaking journey he takes you on and the original way it is presented - storytelling at its finest. From the flashbacks of the past, to the hardships of Ella’s present day dementia, Joe details a sweeping story of survival in more ways than one. I thoroughly recommend this book which came as a complete surprise to me. It is for books such as this, that I read. When events touch you so deeply, when tears spontaneously spring to your eyes, when you turn the final page and your breath is simply taken away. 

‘This shouldn’t be the moment, Ella knows. This is not like the moment in the shipyard, where time waited patiently for her to change their destinies. This is just an ordinary moment. But since Sandy died, she has been too aware of these ordinary moments. She wants to make them extraordinary. She doesn’t want to waste any more time, thinking it will never run out.’

Visit Helen @ Great Reads & Tea Leaves

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Review: The Cartographer's Secret

The Cartographer's Secret
Author: Tea Cooper

Publisher: 29th October 2020 by Harlequin Australia

Pages: 384 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: women’s fiction, historical fiction

My Rating: 5 crowns


A young woman's quest to heal a family rift entangles her in one of Australia's greatest historical puzzles when an intricately illustrated map offers a clue to the fate of a long-lost girl. A mesmerising historical mystery set in the Hunter Valley from bestselling author Tea Cooper for readers of Natasha Lester and Kate Morton.

1880 The Hunter Valley

Evie Ludgrove loves to map the landscape around her home - hardly surprising since she grew up in the shadow of her father's obsession with the great Australian explorer Dr Ludwig Leichhardt. So when an advertisement appears in The Bulletin magazine offering a one thousand pound reward for proof of where Leichhardt met his fate, Evie is determined to figure it out - after all, there are clues in her father's papers and in the archives of The Royal Geographical Society. But when Evie sets out to prove her theory she vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that taints everyone's lives for 30 years.


When Letitia Rawlings arrives at the family estate in her Model T Ford, her purpose is to inform her Great Aunt Olivia of a bereavement. But Letitia is also escaping her own problems - her brother's sudden death, her mother's scheming and her own dissatisfaction with the life planned out for her. So when Letitia discovers a beautifully illustrated map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove, her curiosity is aroused and she sets out to discover the truth of Evie's disappearance.

But all is not as it seems at Yellow Rock estate and as events unfold, Letitia begins to realise that solving the mystery of her family's past could offer as much peril as redemption.

My Thoughts

A new Australian historical fiction book by Tea Cooper always gives reason to celebrate. So many of her previous works (HERE) are both engaging and masterfully crafted tales of mystery and intrigue that allow her readers to journey alongside strong heroines and enticing tales. In her latest, The Cartographer’s Secret, Tea once again provides the perfect blend of fact and fiction in this riveting historical mystery.

‘The past twelve months have taught me that we must take what we can when it is offered, 

pay no heed to convention and expectation. We must grab happiness in both hands and embrace it.’

A dual time narrative (on this occasion) not separated by that many years. This is the story of a mysterious disappearance. Filled with engaging characters who have hidden secrets, there is much heartache and tragedy. In 1880 Evie is so sweet and so very talented - I love that the publishers included her map for us to pour over. It is exquisite. In 1911 we have Letitia (Lettie) and she is such a woman of her time, driving cars and searching for her purpose. In her attempts to solve the family mystery, does she dig a little too far and cause nothing but further upset and disruption?

‘... in that moment Lettie understood, understood that both she and Olivia carried the same pain. A pain that would never go away, should never go away. Because love and loss hurt. She couldn’t give up now, she owed it to Olivia, to help her at least find closure.’

In both timelines the angst, guilt and sense of loss is palpable. Tea invites you into what, for many, is a hard existence on the land and she opens that proverbial window to life on the land at the turn of the 20th century. This brings me onto the setting - The Hunter Valley region. Stunningly portrayed. Both the detail and research provided by Tea leaps off the page - what joy to read passages with such depth of feeling about the Australian outback. From the harsh reality of fire to beautiful blazing sunsets, Tea makes you feel as if you are there. 

What an outstanding array of Aussie authors we are currently blest with! Congratulations Tea on once again proving your prose is up there with the best. From strong protagonists, to family drama and mystery, to taking in the breathtaking vistas of the bush - I can highly recommend the tale that is, The Cartographer’s Secret.

‘Evie tilted her face to the sun and threw out her arms to embrace the view that encompassed her world: from the ancient rocks beneath her bare feet to the distant horizon where the pale pink clouds marked the division between reality and mystery. All she needed and all she had ever wanted. This was her place, where she belonged.’

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