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, June 4, 2024

Review: The Hudson Collection

Title: The Hudson Collection

Author: Jocelyn Green

Publisher: 4th June 2024 by Bethany House Publishers

Pages: 368 pages

Genre: Christian | Historical Fiction | Romance

My Rating: 4 crowns 


Elsa Reisner's lifelong dream of working as an ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History is fading as the job begins to drain her passion. But fate takes an unexpected turn when she is assigned to catalog the bequest of a recently deceased patron whose Gothic country mansion holds secrets and treasures waiting to be discovered.

As Elsa delves into her task, she forms an unlikely bond with the estate's delightful gardener and her daughter, as well as an architectural salvage dealer who still bears scars from the Great War. Together, they embark on a thrilling treasure hunt for a missing relic intended to safeguard the servants' futures before the estate is sold. At the same time, Elsa's body seems to betray her with new symptoms from a childhood disease that isn't through with her yet.

With the brooding veteran and her handsome colleague joining the search, Elsa must navigate the tangled web of secrets and hidden motives along with the changing state of her health. As her deadline looms ever closer, will she be able to secure a new life for her friends before the estate slips from their grasp?

My Thoughts

Jocelyn Green’s ‘The Hudson Collection’ provides a perfect balance between history, mystery and romance. Taking place in New York City after the Great War, readers follow Elsa who is a young ornithology researcher. She attends a country mansion just outside NY on the Hudson River, to catalogue a bird collection of the deceased residents estate.

‘I need someone to go examine the Hudson Collection - named for the river which flows next to the estate - to see what condition the birds are in.’

This is a multifaceted gem of a novel covering a whole range of engaging topics. Firstly there is obviously much about orthology which was interesting. The story also has a strong focus on Elsa who is a polio survivor and struggles both physically and socially. Then there is a range of other themes such as eugenics, autism, PTSD and discrimination for those with disabilities. 

“Father’s view has always been that the weaklings should be allowed to die. Natural selection and all that. He says that even if they did grow up, they would only reproduce more weaklings and lower the quality of the gene pool.”

Set in 1920s New York there are visits to places such as Coney Island and Central Park - much bird watching to undertake there. There is a mystery surrounding the search for a  valuable manuscript from the Middle Ages which makes for a climactic ending. ‘The Hudson Collection’ is a story with a great mystery, friendship to romance and an overarching theme of having faith by being loving and accepting of yourself. 

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Review: The Radio Hour

Title: The Radio Hour

Author: Victoria Purman

Publisher: 1st May 2023 by Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA

Pages: 320 pages

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) | Historical Fiction | Women's Fiction

Rating: 5 crowns


From the bestselling author of The Nurses' War comes this charming, funny, pointed look at the golden years of radio broadcasting in post-war Australia, celebrating the extraordinary unseen women who wrote the radio plays that held a nation captive. For readers of Lessons in Chemistry.

Martha Berry is fifty years old, a spinster, and one of an army of polite and invisible women in 1956 Sydney who go to work each day and get things done without fuss, fanfare or reward.

Working at the country's national broadcaster, she's seen highly praised talent come and go over the years but when she is sent to work as a secretary on a brand-new radio serial, created to follow in the footsteps of Australia's longest running show, Blue Hills, she finds herself at the mercy of an egotistical and erratic young producer without a clue, a conservative broadcaster frightened by the word 'pregnant' and a motley cast of actors with ideas of their own about their roles in the show.

When Martha is forced to step in to rescue the serial from impending cancellation, she ends up secretly ghost-writing scripts for As The Sun Sets, creating mayhem with management, and coming up with storylines that resonate with the serial's growing and loyal audience of women listeners.

But she can't keep her secret forever and when she's threatened with exposure, Martha has to decide if she wants to remain in the shadows, or to finally step into the spotlight.

My Thoughts

Following on from her last novel A Woman’s Work, Victoria continues with her theme of women from Australia of the 1950s and I am 100% here for it! Love! Love! Love! This is most definitely Australia’s Lesson in Chemistry moment as it highlights so much of what women achieved through challenging opposition.  

This period of time was not that long ago and Victoria does an incredible job of highlighting the struggles women experienced through laws, societal expectations and personal preferences. It is not only a journey of how far we have come (and still need to go) but also how together, women are stronger. It is such a fabulous read - a book about women, for women and what they have contended with (and sadly may continue to do so) in the workforce. 

I adore the structure of the book with each chapter providing a ‘set the scene’ as happened in radio serials of the day. Once more readers are immersed in not only the plight of Martha (a 50 year old spinster and all the stereotypical baggage that comes attached to that) but the making and production of a radio serial from go to whoa which is both enlightening and entertaining in and of itself. With so much to choose from in today’s world of entertainment, it is pure pleasure to slip back to a time when the whole nation embraced the medium of radio and the stories it provided.

‘If politeness had held her back for her first fifty years, the truth was going to win out from now on. Too many women kept too many secrets. For too long, women had buried their ambitions and their intelligence, succumbed to the law of the land made by men, and put up with behaviour and situations no man had a right to impose on them.’

Our lead Martha is wonderful - everyone needs a Martha in their workplace for sure. She is a brilliant protagonist in being both relatable and likeable for a woman of her era. The cheers are loud when she finally tells people they can make their own cup of tea! The themes that Victoria places throughout bring such a richness to an already vibrant and worthy tale. Sexism in the workplace, gender inequality, aging, female health issues, immigration - are just some of the themes addressed in this engaging read. 

I love learning about and from history, and once more Victoria has taken her readers on an incredible journey. I don’t think I fully appreciated the impact of the era of radio before the introduction of television on a nation. Woven into that is an incredible tale that is right in line with Victoria’s last few novels of the role of women at a time of change and, indeed, changes that still need to be faced and tackled in some ways. An engaging, emotive, enjoyable read that I highly recommend. 

‘That was what Martha could pass on to the next generation: the hope of something more.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.