Over the holiday season, I set myself a task to get the revision of Wherever You Go finished. I cleared space for myself by taking a break from freelance work and not committing to reviewing many books. Instead, I read mostly for pleasure. And I read all sorts of books: short story collections, thrillers, general fiction … anything that didn’t overly distract me from my target.

I didn’t even write an end-of-year top reads blog post because every scrap of writing time was dedicated to my revision.

And I met my target, in case you were wondering … but that’s another blog post.

Here are some short and sweet reviews of a few books I’ve read over the past six or so weeks.

The Lost Summers of Driftwood | Vanessa McCausland | HarperCollins | RRP $29.99

I read this while holidaying in a log cabin in the bush, deep in Western Australia’s Southern Forests region. At one point, the characters prepare to defend their homes from approaching bushfire – as I read these chapters, the south coast of NSW (the setting of this book) was engulfed in flames. I have to say, the real-life setting and events made this reading experience all the more enriching. Like reading in surround sound!

The Lost Summers of Driftwood was all I want in a good read. Secrets, lost loves, rekindled passions, and betrayal all brought together to create a truly satisfying read. It’s evocative, it’s heartfelt, it’s tender at times. It’s exactly what a good read, for me, is made of.


The Inheritance of Secrets | Sonya Bates | HarperCollins | Copy via Netgalley | RRP $32.99

As the daughter of German immigrants, The Inheritance of Secrets appealed to me in many ways. My grandparents on both sides rarely talked about the war, and while the book raised many questions I would dearly have loved to ask them, it also gave me answers. I was fascinated by the insights into post-war Australia and the way past events affect future generations.

With The Inheritance of Secrets, you get a dash of murder, mystery and suspense, as well as a dual timeline novel, all of which adds up to a compelling read. Great writing, great characterisation and setting, insightful and compassionate exploration of conflict … utterly compelling.


The Best Kind of Beautiful | Frances Whiting | Pan Macmillan | Copy via Netgalley | RRP $32.99

A delightfully engaging read about two people seemingly at cross purposes … who together might just be the best kind of beautiful. If they can get their acts together, that is.

Themes of music, grief, relationships, gardens, love, laughter and family resonate through Frances Whiting’s latest novel. She has a quiet and warm writing style that I really like, and that fits this story perfectly.

For me, Walking on Trampolines was a stand-out, but The Best Kind of Beautiful made me smile in the best bookish kind of way.


The Girl in the Painting | Tea Cooper | HarperCollins | Copy via Netgalley | RRP $32.99

Tea Cooper weaves an intricate and intriguing tale with The Girl in the Painting. Strong, memorable characters, terrific scene-setting, and clever writing bring this historical fiction to life – with some of my favourite scenes those set in the gold mining town of Hill End. I really enjoyed the way characters were reunited with secrets from their past, sweeping me along for the satisfying ride.

This is the first book I’ve read by Tea Cooper and it won’t be the last.


The Girl Who Reads on the Metro | Christine Féret-Fleury | Pan Macmillan | Copy via Netgalley | RRP $24.99

One for lovers of a more literary style, The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is a quiet and subtle read about a young woman whose life changes when she stumbles across a bookshop and its owner, Soliman. There’s nothing dramatic, no grand passion or OTT gestures, and no Wow! moments – instead, it’s a reflection on how life can change slowly and subtly over time, sometimes without even knowing it’s happening. Juliette comes to a gradual realisation that there is more to her life than what she’s accepted, and then … off she goes. That’s life for many of us – we don’t all have the big movie moments.

I liked it but it wasn’t memorable – and given the setting and the books and Paris, I so much wanted it to be more.


And here’s a bonus – Her Secret Past | Kerry Watts | Bookouture | Copy via Netgalley

A solid and well-crafted read filled with clever hooks and plenty of red herrings – just the way I like it. From the disturbing but compelling start, all through, I was hooked, wanting to know all the way one big thing … whodunnit? The characterisation was especially clever – so many flawed characters, it could have been anyone behind the crime.

What have you been reading?



Picture of Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

2 Responses

  1. There’s a couple on your list I want to read, a few I hadn’t heard of which is great. I’m glad you got lots of reading in over the holidays.

  2. Do you ever just want to read “just because”, Claire? When I was reviewing regularly, I would get overwhelmed and have to take a break sometimes.

    Which ones on my list stand out for you?

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