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.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Review: The Goldminer’s Sister

Title: The Goldminer’s Sister
Author: Alison Stuart
Publisher: 8th July 2020 by HarperCollins (Australia)
Pages: 378 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, suspense
My Rating: 5 crowns

Gold is a fever. Will it lead her to love ... or death? A suspenseful romance set on the turbulent goldfields of 1870s Australia, for readers of The Postmistress and The Woman in the Green Dress.
'There are people in this town with the gleam of gold in their eyes and cold steel in their hearts.'
1873. Eliza Penrose arrives in the gold mining town of Maiden's Creek in search of her brother, planning to make a new life for herself. Instead she finds a tragic mystery - and hints of betrayals by those closest to her.
Mining engineer Alec McLeod left Scotland to escape the memory of his dead wife and child. Despite the best efforts of the eligible ladies of Maiden's Creek, Alec is determined never to give his heart again.
As lies and deceit threaten Eliza's life, Alec steps in - although he has problems of his own, as he risks his livelihood and those he holds dear to oppose the dangerous work practices at the Maiden's Creek Mine.
When disaster draws the pieces of the puzzle together, Eliza and Alec must save each other - but is it too late?
My Thoughts

‘One thing I’ve learned after my years out here is that gold is a fever, just like they say. It can change a man.’ 

The Goldminer’s Sister is a rich historical drama from 1873 set in a fictional gold mining town in the state of Victoria, Australia. The lead character of Eliza Penrose is a fabulously strong and determined woman for her time who pushes on, despite of and against the odds surrounding agitation from the local community and other surprising sources. 

This story is engaging on so many levels as both people and location jump off the page and all you want to do is read to the very end. Eliza is a fabulous leading lady for this tale, strong and courageous despite the tragedies that have befallen her. Her determination to pursue the truth is what endears her to the reader and you want her to not only survive but also succeed. The male lead of Alec elicits similar feelings of strength and survival and with a range of secondary characters, likewise realistically portrayed from rich and poor to villain and hero. It makes for riveting reading.  

Much research was done with regards to the harsh realities of the time in terms of living conditions, class and gender. The fictional town of Maiden’s Creek is based on a small town in the south east of my state Victoria, Walhalla, and the mining operations that took place there last century. Both the living and working conditions in these mining towns would have been extremely tough and add into the mix dangerous characters and scenarios and it makes for quality reading. This, of course, comes from Alison’s quality writing not only in plot and the rich descriptions of location, but also her factual knowledge with regards to the logistics of mining for that time. However,  this is a multidimensional tale and with strong themes of women's rights, working rights, educational rights... even childbirth drama - there is much to appreciate throughout this book. 

I was totally engaged and loved reading The Goldminer’s Sister for all of the reasons discussed. With strong themes of love and loss, greed and kindness, mystery and suspense, I am so happy to have discovered Alison’s writing and can’t wait to see what historical adventures she will take her readers on next. 

‘You’re an idealist, Eliza,’ Cowper said. ‘You can't save every underprivileged child in the world.’ ‘But she has so much potential,’ Eliza said.

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.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Review: The Details

Title: The Details on Love, Death and Reading
Author: Tegan Bennett Daylight
Publisher: 8th July 2020 by Simon & Schuster (Australia)
Pages: 200 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: non fiction, biography and memoir
My Rating: 2.5 crowns

A book about the connections we form with literature and each other
Tegan Bennett Daylight has led a life in books - as a writer, a teacher and a critic, but first and foremost as a reader. In this deeply insightful and intimate work, Daylight describes how her reading has nourished her life, and how life has informed her reading. In both, she shows us that it's the small points of connection - the details - that really matter: what we notice when someone close to us dies, when we give birth, when we make friends. In life's disasters and delights, the details are what we can share and compare and carry with us.
Daylight writes with invigorating candour and compassion about her mother's last days; her own experiences of childbearing and its aftermath (in her celebrated essay ‘Vagina'); her long admiration of Helen Garner and George Saunders; and her great loves and friendships. Each chapter is a revelation, and a celebration of how books offer not an escape from ‘real life' but a richer engagement with the business of living.
The result is a work that will truly deepen your relationship with books, and with other readers. The delight is in the details.
My Thoughts

‘A great book changes with you.’

I am so undecided on this book. Initially I was attracted by two things. Firstly the cover: that seemingly 1970s style vibe from the subject herself (could easily have been me) to the sepia tinge common of that era. Secondly, the synopsis speaks to all bibliophiles. Yet by the conclusion I was just not sold on it in many ways. Don’t get me wrong, Tegan has many worthwhile offerings here for contemplation but I found there was no flow to the book and I was not onboard with all she had to say. Yet, that can be a good thing right ... to push your boundaries?  Thus my overall indecision on the complexity that is this book. 

‘Literature isn’t, for me, a classroom, it is right at the centre of my life. I don’t ‘learn’ from it. It isn’t ‘good for me’. It isn’t work or study or a hobby. It is me. I think in lines from books I’ve read. It’s alive in me all the time, I’m helpless, it runs through me like a torrent.’

Tegan is a wonderful writer. Her prose is eloquent yet rugged with her insights into reading and writing evident for all. From her own life and career, to her reflections on other authors, she offers clear and insightful ideas. She expresses her great loves and great concerns when it comes to reading and writing. With a great variance in chapter topics there is something for everyone from family to famous authors. Her understanding on the technique of writing and her advice to her tertiary students demonstrates her great love of literature. She delves into great depth on particular authors  such as Saunders. 

‘If you are a reader like I am you will have become closely acquainted with more than one body of work. There’s something particular in the reading of one author’s entire oeuvre. Easy with Austen; less so with Dickens. I have read every book written by Jane Austen, Tim Winton, Helen Garner, David Malouf, Charlotte Wood, Jonathan Franzen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Alice Munro, James Wood, Alan Hollinghurst and George Saunders. In this way you enter into a lifelong conversation with the author. You watch their material change, their attitudes to it shifting. You learn how to read them.’

What I struggled with was the seemingly random selection of chapters and topics. It’s not that I expected a sequential tale but I found it to be disjointed overall in its approach. The common theme of reading was not strong enough to gel it all together in my opinion. Also being a teacher myself, I could relate to some of the aspects Tegan shone a light. However, I disagreed with other things, for example, her summation of young adult literature.

‘When I stood in front of a class I felt an excited kinship, and a sense of my enormous luck–to be there, right now, amongst young people, as their reading and writing took shape. I still feel lucky, because it’s a privilege to be next to young people at any stage of their lives. But sometimes, when I read their writing, I want to set up a howl of desolation. Their flimsy words scud across an empty landscape, a landscape unpopulated by all the books that came before. There’s no weight, there’s no texture, there’s no echo, there’s no depth.’

All up this is an interesting read for lovers of literature. Here you will find one reader/writer’s thoughts on the impact of a life of reading and how it holds your hand as you journey through life together.  

‘I want them to notice what a powerful tool literature is, to understand that it helps us to know ourselves and the society we live in. I want them to discover that if they learn to handle language they might not feel as though they’re worth nothing, have nothing to say.’

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.