book reviews December 2023

Book Reviews December 2023

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Hello Everybody,

I’m bringing my Book Reviews December 2023 post to you with Christmas screaming at me down the corridor of next week, but I’m still pretending to be deaf to it’s shouts.  I’m really not organised and have mild waves of panic but they are still not strong enough to push me into frantic preparations.  I’m convincing myself that it will all work out ok and as long as there is food of some sort on the table, everyone will be happy.  

Maybe I have become a little delusional due to the extreme heatwave we are currently experiencing in Australia at the moment!

Are you feeling prepared for Christmas?

I have baked my Christmas cake and will get the kids to decorate it on Christmas Eve-eve.  If you still haven’t got yours organised you can check out my recipe here – it’s still not too late to whip this cake up to bring some festive snacking to your coffee breaks.

So, without further ado, here are my meagre couple of books to share with you.  Let me know in the comments what you have been reading.   

I have lots of books on my ‘present wish list’, so fingers crossed the family deliver on Christmas Day.  I have however got Kate Morton’s new book Homecoming which I have been saving for a quiet moment over Christmas.  

The Seven – Chris Hammer (fiction)


I’ve heard Chris speaking on several podcasts, plus I was lucky enough to see him in person at a local library author talk.  I wrote about the talk in my last book review here.

Chris is a highly acclaimed author so I was really looking forward to reading one of his books.

Chris’ writing is beautiful and eloquent without being too literary and difficult to read.  He describes the Australian landscapes in detail and made me feel like I was immersed in the local town on which the book revolves.

Sadly, though I did find this book a bit of a slow burn which didn’t really ramp up pace until the half way mark.  I also found trying to keep track of a minimum of seven families plus other characters quite intense.

I have to confess I found myself dipping into other books whilst still reading this one, which isn’t usual for me.

Overall, it was a exceptionally well written book and had a well executed conclusion to the crime/mystery at the end, but it just lacked pace and the ‘thriller’ element for me.

At the same time I also watched Scrublands, Chris’ debut book that has been televised into a four part series.  Again the landscapes and culture of small town Australia was very strong in the storyline but I felt a little disappointed when I got to the final episode.  I kept checking to see if any more episodes had been released in case there was more to wrap up the story at the end.

So, overall I would definitely read more of his books but read them with a slower reading mindset and just revel in the writing and landscapes.

Terms of Inheritance – Michelle Upton (fiction)


I found out about this book at another local author talk.   Michelle is from the UK but now resides in Brisbane, Australia.   She is an excellant speaker, full of enthusiasm, sharing the behind the scenes in her writing process as well as where her ideas come from – usually when she is out running.

The blurb: Multi millionaire Jacki Turner decides to set her four daughters a challenge that they must complete within a year,  to ensure they will inherit her vast fortune.

Rose, an exhausted mother of three must write and publish a book.   Exercise-hater Mel must complete a marathon, Isla must figure out who she is beyond her successful career and Jess must stay in a relationship for longer than three months.

This book didn’t turn out quite as I had imagined.  I thought it was going to be more of a funny ‘rom com’ type of book.  It is however an acute observation on how families interact, how money can change relationships and how we all tell ourselves different stories about shared experiences.

I also loved that the setting for the book was in my home town of the Gold Coast, and also included Brisbane, Cleveland and the Sunshine Coast.  Whilst I love reading about new places/settings, there is something quite warming about reading about a setting you know well.

If you read it, tell me what you think of Jacki Turner.  For me she was an incredibly interesting and confronting character.

This was a great read and I shall be looking out for Michelle’s next book which I think is just about to be released. 

The first half of the book did include the festive season so makes a good Christmas read. 

Christmas at Mannus Ridge – Joanne Tracey (fiction)


The author of this book is one of the fellow bloggers in the What’s on your bookshelf link party.  I purchased my copy from Amazon Kindle. 

This book is actually the final part of a series, but I haven’t read the others.  It does however still work as a stand alone read. 

Set in a small town in rural Australia, the story follows Ainsley St James.  She had left the town years ago in a cloud of rumours and disapproval from the other townsfolk, to head off to university and to make a career in the city.  After fifteen years away, Ainsley hits rock bottom and is forced to return to her family.  Obviously, they welcome her home with open arms, but her jilted fiance, Angus and best friend (amongst others) are not so pleased to see her. 

As Ainsley settles into rural life again, she discovers that her parents pub is in trouble.  Can she help them to turn their business around and will the townsfolk and more importantly Angus ever forgive her for leaving? 

I really enjoyed this story which I guess would be categorised as a rural romance. 

Even though it is set in Australia, it reminded me of the small towns and villages in the UK and how everyone knows everyone elses’ business and has an opinion on it!  

A great read and it has some Christmas festive fun included! 

Well, that’s it for this month.  Drop me a comment below, and do let me know what you’ve been reading this month. I love hearing about good books!

If you missed my last book review you can catch up here

book reviews december 2023

6 thoughts on “Book Reviews December 2023”

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  3. Hi, Janine – Thank you for sharing these book reviews with us. I read and loved ‘Christmas at Mannus Ridge.’ I’ve also read ‘The Homecoming’ — it is a real page turner!
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and a fantastic year ahead!

  4. Hi, Janine – Thank you for sharing these book reviews with us. I read and loved ‘Christmas at Mannus Ridge.’ I’ve also read ‘The Homecoming’ — it is a real page turner!
    Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday and a fantastic year ahead!

    1. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas to you and all your family Donna. I’ve just received the most wonderful early Christmas present – my son has surprised me by arriving from the Uk when I didn’t think he was coming!!! I know you will relate to this.

  5. Sue from Women Living Well After 50

    Hi Janine thanks for the Book Reviews. I loved Jo’s Christmas at Manus Ridge and was lucky enough to have an Advanced Reader Copy last year. Terms of Inheritance sounds like something that would appeal to me. Will add it to my 2024 reading list. Merry Christmas to you and your family and I’m hoping to get to some author talks in Brisbane in 2024. x

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