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Blog Tours book reviews Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – April 2020

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I can’t believe we’re a third of the way through the year already. April has been a strange month for the world with us being in lockdown. For me, that’s meant mostly getting used to not having a quiet house during the day Monday to Friday, which is when I do a lot of my reading and blogging. I’ve also had to hand over my laptop to our eldest as his is broken so I’m restricted in my times I can write.

In terms of reading, April has been another strong month for me. I’ve read thirteen books, taken part in fifteen blog tours, two cover reveals, one readalong and one buddy read. So here is what I’ve read this month:

  1. Mine by Clare Empson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Strangers by C.L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton ⭐⭐⭐.5
  7. The Switch by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. I Am Dust by Louise Beech ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  11. The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The House Guest by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. So Many Lies by Paul J. Teague ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can read the synopsis and reviews for what I’ve read this month by clicking on the links above except for The House Guest, which will be reviewed next month.

So many great books means it’s hard to choose a favourite. And this month it was almost impossible. I loved Hamnet and was sure nothing would top that; until I read the breathtaking debut novel, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours. I still think about that book many times each day and am constantly recommending everyone read it. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy you can use the links in my review to do it now! Other books I feel deserve a shout out are the fantastic thrillers Strangers and All In Her Head, the heartwarming and uplifting The Switch, and the brilliantly sinister I Am Dust. Each of these were also contenders for my book of the month.

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books and the blog tour organisers for all their hard work.

What have you read this month and what was your favourite? Comment below.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Red Door Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Red Door Press for my gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

A tale of two very different sisters whose 1890s voyage from London into remote outback Australia becomes a journey of self-discovery, set against a landscape of wild beauty and savage dispossession. London in 1891: Harriet Cameron is a talented young artist whose mother died when she was barely five. She and her beloved sister Sarah were brought up by their father, radical thinker James Cameron. After adventurer Henry Vincent arrives on the scene, the sisters’ lives are changed forever. Sarah, the beauty of the family, marries Henry and embarks on a voyage to Australia. Harriet, intensely missing Sarah, must decide whether to help her father with his life’s work or to devote herself to painting. When James Cameron dies unexpectedly, Harriet is overwhelmed by grief. Seeking distraction, she follows Sarah to Australia, and afterwards into the outback, where she is alienated by the casual violence and great injustices of outback life. Her rejuvenation begins with her friendship with an Aboriginal stockman and her growing love for the landscape. But this fragile happiness is soon threatened by murders at a nearby cattle station and by a menacing station hand who is seeking revenge.

MY REVIEW:

Thought-provoking, compelling, tender and evocative, this delightful novel explores issues such as equal rights for women and all races in nineteenth century London and Australia. 

Sisters Sarah and Harriet Cameron were raised in London by their progressive, philosopher father. After his death, Harriet travels to Australia to join Sarah, who is there on an extended honeymoon with her husband Henry. Living in Dimbulah Darwin, deep in the Australian outback, the sisters must adjust to a harsher, more dangerous existence, but soon find joy and friendship in their new home. But as racial tensions rise, they must find a way to protect not only themselves, but those they’ve come to care about.

I love historical fiction because of the opportunity to immerse myself in another place and time, and the chance to learn more about those periods. This novel captures a moment in history I knew little about, which is part of the reason I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour. Themes of injustice run through the novel and are explored through topics such as women’s and equal rights, appropriation, and racism. It was jarring to read the stark reality of the Aborigines lack of rights and the fear in which they were forced to live in a land that was taken from them. Harriet’s battle for independence and autonomy was a reminder of those who fought for equal rights and to be thankful for the rights women enjoy living where and when we do today.

The characters are compelling, flawed and real. Harriet and Sarah are very different people but are both complex women with a heart of gold and great strength. We watch them wrestle with themselves as they embark on a journey of self-discovery, going through great changes in the seven years over which the story is told. Harriet in particular suffers an identity crisis and does a lot of soul searching during her time in the outback, embracing the teachings of the Aboriginals. I loved this inclusion of so many Aboriginal characters and the inclusion of them as memorable characters in their own right rather than simply being nameless background workers. 

Told in short, tightly crafted chapters, this is a subtle and steadily paced novel. But as the threat towards those at Dimbulah Darwin escalated, the tension radiated from the page and my heart raced in anticipation. The author’s prose is lyrical and bursting with rich imagery that made me feel like I could actually see the bright colours of the Australian Outback. 

I highly recommend this uplifting, powerful and endearing story. 

ALISON BOOTH AUTHOR PIC 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alison Booth was born in Melbourne and grew up in Sydney. She is a professor at the Australian National University and the author of three novels: Stillwater CreekThe Indigo Sky and A Distant Land, all set in the fictional town of Jingera. She lives with her husband in Canberra’s inner north, and has spent two decades living and working in the UK.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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