Heart Like Mine

Thank goodness for the TBYL Reviewers – without them, I’d never be able to tell you about so many amazing books! I’m so lucky to have some wonderful people reading and reviewing for us, and today’s review is from the wonderful Carolyn Jones. Read on to find out more about Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany (Allen and Unwin) and about how you can enter to win a copy of your own…

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Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany (Allen and Unwin) shares the story of three woman, all very different from each other but connected nonetheless. There is Grace, 36 years old, a successful CEO and a woman comfortable in her decision to never have children of her own. Then there’s Kelli, a young single mother of two and the ex-wife of Grace’s fiancé. Finally, there is Kelli’s beloved daughter, Ava. Thirteen years old and completely devoted to her mother, Ava is desperate not to form a relationship with her father’s new partner. Very early in the story Kelli sadly and unexpectedly dies, meaning that Ava and her younger brother must live with their father and in turn, Grace. As you might expect, this sudden upheaval complicates the already strained relationship between Ava and her step-mother Grace.

Heart Like Mine alternates between narrating around the relationships shared by the three women and their overlapping stories, giving the reader a chance to see all sides of the difficult situation.

heart like mineI loved this book. I found it very easy to read but more importantly, I did not want to put it down. Amy Hatvany distinguishes the different narrators very clearly, with chapter headings and distinctive tones, whilst ensuring that the story flowed smoothly and never confusing the reader as to whose turn it was to tell their story. I don’t want to give too much away about what happens in the book as I enjoyed not knowing which way the story was going to take me. However, this is a book review, so I do need to provide something more to entice you to read this book…

There are some strong themes throughout the novel about womanhood, love and family. The age of thirteen is when a child becomes an adolescent and should be a time for greater independence, boyfriends and girlfriends, and discovering oneself. However, the three leading ladies in Heart Like Mine all encounter a life-changing event when they are thirteen. These individual events force these girls from early adolescence into adulthood much too young.

The main theme that Amy Hatvany explores is that of motherhood, from all perspectives; choosing to become a mother or having it thrust upon you unexpectedly…

She paused and gave me a dreamy smile. “But you really don’t know what love is until you’re a mother. You can’t understand it until you’ve had a baby yourself, but it’s the most intense feeling in the world.

I winced a little when she said this, as though she meant that a heart like mine was somehow defective because I hadn’t had children. I didn’t think of myself as less able to feel love. But her comments made me question myself and wonder if by missing out on motherhood, I was missing out on something that would make me a better person.

Grace, Kelli and Ava are incredibly strong women in their own right and through their narration we, the readers, feel their insecurities and share in their personal struggles to keep going through very tough times. I loved how Amy Hatvany developed these characters and didn’t dwell too much on clichés about stepmothers and daughters. I really believed their story. I highly recommend Heart Like Mine, whether you can identify with elements of it or reflect on your own growing up this book will stay with you for days. It’s a wonderful story, a drama of the challenges that comes with losing something too soon. If you take pleasure in a meaningful tale, or like me, love to weep in a book then I think you will enjoy Heart Like Mine.

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This month, a lucky reader will win a copy of Heart Like Mine courtesy of Allen & Unwin Books.

To enter, email info@thatbookyoulike.com.au, subject line ‘HEART’ and include your name and postal details. A winner will be chosen at random on 30.06.13 and notified by email.

If you’d like to purchase a copy of Heart Like Mine by Amy Hatvany shop now at the TBYL Store…

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Good company: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

As I said last week, because Tam is such an avid scrapbooker, I thought it only sensible to have her review The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee (Allen and Unwin) I figured she’d understand the language, the comradery of this book and of course, she did. By all accounts, Tam really enjoyed this novel and interestingly, it sounds like scrapbooking was simply the catalyst for gathering. It was the woman, and their strengths and struggles that keep bringing them back into each others company.

Here’s what Tam thought of this novel…

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The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee is an extremely busy book, with loads of characters introduced all at once, all of whom are living their separate lives with their separate dramas and troubles. It’s this large cast of characters that makes this such a clever book, in how it brings all these individuals together, to get to know each other in the small town of Avalon.

the avalon ladies scrapbooking societyAt Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, six women find their memories are shaping their future.

Young Connie Colls, fiercly independant and full of promise longs for a past she never had. Isabel Kidd is anxious to move forward but is still paralysed by the consequences of her late husband’s love affair. After spending many years living a life on her own terms, Yvonne Tate finds that she can’t outwit her past. For Ava Catalina, reaching out to hold on to precious memories means rekindling old hurts while Frances Latham sees her dreams for a daughter dashed when tragedy strikes. And then there’s irascible Bettie Shelton, founder and president of the Avalon Scrapbooking Society, who helps others create lasting memories of their past but finds the paes of her own albums empty.

As the women gather to scrapbook the details of their lives, they discover that things are not always as they seem.

This story centres around Bettie, Isabel, Frances, Yvonne, Ava, Connie and Madeline – all very different people who would have little reason to get along in any other context, but come together to scrapbook.  In fact as this novel begins many of the women don’t actually like each other very much. As this story develops we are introduced to their private and mostly complicated histories and women begin to find strength within each other and form beautiful friendships.

Throughout the novel, Bettie Shelton is the one constant. She is the founder and President of the scrapbooking society and it comes to light that she is also enduring her own private tragedy. Bettie loses all her scrapbooks and it is through this sad event that it comes to light just how integral a part of the community Bettie has become, as they rally together to rebuild her memories.

As an avid scrapbooker myself I found comfort and inspiration in this story. Much of the message behind this story is about embracing your past, treasuring your memories and recording these memories in a way for your loved ones to be able to hold on to for many years to come. They may even be able to learn more about your past and indeed their own past than they would have otherwise. I have always found scrapbooking therapeutic, and there is a great emphasis on this in the book. The craft is a great way to reflect, to realise the positives, heal the negatives and to cope through the hard times. It’s not just about photos (as so often thought) but also about documentation, a collection of brochures, menus, journaling, pictures painted with words. Such a beautiful legacy to leave for your family. This theme of legacy runs throughout  The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society sharing with us a story of trouble, healing and friendship.

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Thanks to Allen and Unwin, I’ve had three copies of The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society to give away! Entries closed yesterday at midnight and the three winners (chosen at random) are S. Odongo, A. Lee and F. Garrivan.  Congratulations, and keep an eye on your emails for message from me this evening.

To find out more about Darien Gee’s novel, you can do so here…

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Get Scrapping: Enter to Win

I have two scrapbook-crazy ladies in my life, my Mum and my sister – they love it! The photos, the embellishments, the buttons and twine. The other day when I was on a shopping trip with them, they started chatting away about ‘gesso’ and ‘mod podge’ and I was lost. I had to ask them exactly what language they were speaking. Their answer? Scrap, of course.

the avalon ladies scrapbooking societyBecause Tam is such an avid scrapbooker, I thought it only sensible to have her review the book I’ve just received from Allen and Unwin, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society by Darien Gee.

At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, six women find their memories are shaping their future.

Young Connie Colls, fiercely independent and full of promise longs for a past she never had. Isabel Kidd is anxious to move forward but is still paralysed by the consequences of her late husband’s love affair. After spending many years living a life on her own terms, Yvonne Tate finds that she can’t outwit her past. For Ava Catalina, reaching out to hold on to precious memories means rekindling old hurts while Frances Latham sees her dream for a daughter dashed when tragedy strikes. And then there’s irascible Bettie Shelton, founder and president of the Avalon Scrapbooking Society, who helps others create lasting memories of their past but finds the pages of her own albums empty. As the women gather to scrapbook the details of their lives, they discover that things are not always as they seem.

By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.

She’s reading it as we speak, but guess what else?! I’ve got three copies of the book to give-away!

To enter… all you need to do is to email info@thatbookyoulike.com.au with the subject line SCRAPBOOK and tell us why you’d like to win a copy of Darien’s book. Don’t forget to include your name and postal address in your email and let me know if you’d mind me sharing your response on Facebook.

Competition will close midnight Tuesday, 4 June 2013

I’ll draw three winners at random and announce them when I post Tam’s review on Wednesday, 5 June 2013.

If you’d like to find out more about The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society you can visit here…

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Give-away: Send us a Christmas Card!

I love Christmas cards! It’s one of my favourite things about Christmas, and I try as to get my cards out each year, even if I have to do it a little last minute (like this year, phew!)

My obsession is with sending cards, but I also get a little thrill when I receive one in return. And so, I thought I’d do a little something different for this give-away…

I’m asking you to send That Book You Like a Christmas card!!

Black Frame 3

 

If you do, you’ll go into the running to win one of the gorgeous hand-made book covers now in store at the TBYL Store. They’re exclusive to our store, made with love and make beautiful gifts for bookish friends and family.

 

All you have to do to go into the running is to send TBYL a Christmas card, to P.O. Box 2074, Hampton East, Vic, 3188. Make sure you include your name, email and postal address in the card.

I’ll draw one winner at random on Thursday 27 December 2012, after 5pm. I’ll announce a winner on the blog and email the winner as well. The winner will be able to choose from the range of book cover designs in store at the time of the winner being drawn.

I hope you’ll join the fun! It’d be great to hear from you!

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Celebrating 1000+

I spend a lot of time chattering on Facebook, and I’ve had the most amazing time watching our bookish community grow, slowly but steadily over the last year. The page is a great way to connect with people day-to-day, and to make sure that you guys know about all the fun things going on at TBYL; in The Store, at the TBYL Book Club and of course, on The Blog.

Now, after a bit of a membership drive, it’s time to celebrate! We’ve hit 1000+ bookish Likers and as promised, I’ve got a super give-away for you…

One lucky person will win a gift voucher for $50 off their next purchase from the TBYL Store, plus the gorgeous Alavu necklace (RRP $72, available from The Store) pictured here.

All you need to do is send an email to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au; subject line “1000”; and include your name in the body of the email as well as a note about how you found out about TBYL.

A winner will be drawn at random, 8pm Wednesday 22 August 2012 and notified by email.

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Winners warmly announced

I’m pleased to announce the two winners of our Harlequin Books give-away! Anniepinkshoes and Carmel Corry have each won a copy of their choice of the books Fiona McCallum’s Wattle CreekBoomerang Bride by Fiona Lowe or Temptation, by Karen Ann Hopkins.

Thanks everyone for entering, and rest assured there will be a couple of more chances to win over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned! Plus July’s TBYL News: All Things Books... is out on Monday, and there will be a chance to win a great book from Picador. Subscribe here…

Annie and Carmel, just email me your details (postal address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Wednesday, 4.07.12 and I’ll make arrangements for a copy to be sent to you! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 5.07.12

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A vampire for all ages: The Immortal Rules

I love the fact that there seems to be a vampire story for all age groups.

As I write this, my four-year old is watching a bizarre little show called Mona the Vampire on the ABC, yesterday I ogled over that (decidedly adult) True Blood magazine cover, and today I finished a fantastic young adult novel, an enticing, blood-sucking adventure The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa (Harlequin Teen).

Aimed squarely at plucky teenage girls, Julie’s novel is a wonderfully entertaining tale of vampires, rabids, ferals and ‘bloodbags’ all battling darkly, hopelessly against extinction, striving towards an increasingly unlikely survival.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked – and given the ultimate choice. Die… or become one of the monsters.

It’s been said before, but there is undoubtedly a lack of strong female protagonists in literature, but Julie has kindly helped to redress the balance. Allie is tough and resourceful. Both before and after her turning, she shows true grit and determination, and the delightful ability to skilfully wield a katana. She paints herself as detached, but through her relationships with Stick, Zeke and even Kanin, she shows herself to be ultimately caring and subtly gallant.

There’s plenty of action, blood and gore:

“Something hit me from behind, hard, and warmth spread over my neck and back, though there was no pain. The blow knocked me forward, and I stumbled, falling to my knees. A weight landed on me, screeching, tearing at me, and bright strips of fire began to spread across my shoulders. I screamed and flipped over, using my legs to shove it away, but another pale creature filled my vision, and all I could see was its face and teeth and blank, dead eyes, lunging forward .”

And plenty of the usual vampire mythology, imagery and romance:

“I lunged, sinking my fangs into his neck, driving them deep. Stifling a cry, Zeke stiffened and gripped my arms, arching his back. His blood coursed hot and sweet into my mouth, spreading through me, a slow-moving fire. It tasted of earth and smoke, of heat and passion and strength, of all things Zeke. He breathed my name, a sigh of benediction and longing, and I couldn’t get close enough, never close enough.”

It’s little wonder really that the vampiric tale is so often revisited…

The novel itself brought to mind many favourites; True Blood, Underworld, even I am Legend, but the author’s creation of darkly decrepit vampire cities, vampiric hierachy and the threat of ‘rabids’ on the doorstep has kept her novel fresh and original. The search for Eden, and for an illusive, perhaps impossible cure drives the story ever forward.

I’m no YA expert but I’d say that if you liked Hunger Games and Twilight you’ll no doubt enjoy The Immortal Rules equally. This is the first in a promised triology ‘Blood of Eden’ and I for one am already looking forward to the next installment.

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I’m pleased to be able to offer one reader a copy of Julie’s The Immortal Rules this month.

All you need to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment,

…and tell us where about your favourite vampire tale.

I’ll draw one winner at random on Monday 28 May 2012. As usual, you’ll have 4 days to claim your prize or I’ll redraw.

If you’d like to find out more about Julie’s book, you should visit her website.

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Sign up for TBYL Book Club here…

Subscribe to TBYL News: All Things Bookish… out monthly!

Winner, Alice coming your way

I’m pleased to announce, that  Anne-marie Baggstrom  is the winner of That Book You Like’s Putting Alice Back Together give-away. Thanks for your entry Anne-marie!


Anne-marie, I’m sure you’ll find this novel very entertaining, and quite moving as well.

Just email me your details (postal address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Sunday, 15.04.12 and I’ll make arrangements for a copy to be sent to you! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 16.04.12

Thanks to everyone for entering.

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A royal gift…

I’m pleased to announce, that  Grace is the winner of That Book You Like’s Makeda give-away. Thanks for your entry Grace!

Grace, I’m sure you’ll enjoy reading this fantastic novel.

Just email me your details (postal address) to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au by end Wednesday, 11.04.12 and arrangements will be made! If the prize isn’t claimed, I will redraw on 12.04.12

Thanks to everyone for entering. Remember, if you’d like to buy a copy of Prue Sober’s Makeda, it’s on the TBYL Bookshelfyou’ll find it in store here.

While I’m here, don’t forget we’ve another great give-away running at the moment as well…we’re giving a copy of Putting Alice Back Together, by Carol Marinelli to one lucky reader. Full details on how to enter are here.

Finally, stay tuned tomorrow for my review of The Forgotten Land by Keith Mcardle, my thoughts on this wild time-travelly ride.

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Give-away: Putting Alice Back Together

Last week I reviewed the very interesting, surprisingly gritty Putting Alice Back Together, and was lucky to be able to quiz the author Carol Marinelli. You’ll find my review here…

In addition, I’m really pleased to be able to offer one lucky reader a copy of this entertaining novel.

To go into the running to win a copy of Putting Alice Back Together, all you need to do is:

1. Leave a comment on this post, or

2. Visit our Facebook page and leave a comment,

…and tell us what you do to make a crappy day brighter.

I’ll draw one winner at random on Wednesday 11 April 2012. As usual, you’ll have 4 days to claim your prize or I’ll redraw.

You can find out more about the book, the author, and about how to get hold of a copy here…

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