My Reading Challenges for 2016

2016 has been a fantastic year for reading – for discovering new authors and  for making some great reading and writing friends.  I have achieved a few of my reading goals: The Aussie Author Challenge,  Goodreads Challenge   – so far ( and there is 24 hours left to add in another book, maybe) I have read 178 books – 28 more than my original expectation. My goal for the Australian Women Writers Challenge  was 50 and I manged to read and review 47 book – almost but not quite there- maybe next year?

 

good-reads 2016

 

All going to plan – I  hope to publish at least one of my Best of 2016 reads lists soon. Stay tuned.

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Post Script: Love at First Flight – Tess Woods

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Love at First Flight

Tess Woods

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752647

 

Description:

What if the love of your life is not your husband? A compelling novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

 

‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.’

 

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

 

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of avoiding. As the repercussions hit friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

 

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

 

PRAISE FOR LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT:

 

‘Love at First Flight is no light romp in the hay. It’s a mature, finely drawn effort that examines the emotions and motives behind an affair – and, ultimately, its ramifications. I dare you to resist’ – Jennifer Ammoscato, author of Dear Internet: It’s Me Avery

 

 

My View:

More than chick lit – perhaps this fits best in the new sub-genre “life lit”?

 

A very impressive debut that will connect on so many levels – this is life – real, honest, ugly at times. Steamy, personal, HONEST. (Tess Woods where did you get you get the idea for this one?)  I don’t think I have read anything that tackles a woman’s personal life crisis/ her emotional dilemmas quite like this.

 

The dual perspectives – Mel’s and Matt’s provide great insight. The characters are credible if not a bit uncomfortable to read at times.

 

Despite this definitely not being a genre I usually favour – this had me staying up late to finish – read in one sitting.

 

“The verb love is what counts, not the feeling of love. When you feel love, it’s selfish, it’s just for you and it affects nobody but you. But when you act love, you committing the act of loving somebody. Do you understand the concept?” p 290.

 

Do you?

 

Read the book and discover the depth of real meaning, real feeling and real life… in these words.

Post Script: Ink and Bone – Lisa Unger

ink-and-bone

Ink and Bone

Lisa Unger

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471150487

 

Description:

The explosive new thriller by the New York Times bestseller, Lisa Unger.

 

Twenty-year-old Finley Montgomery has always been different. She’s never been able to control the things that happen to her – not even the pain of a new tattoo or the roar of her motorcycle can drown out the chaos. When she moves to her grandmother’s house in the small town of The Hollows in upstate New York, Finley is hoping to a fresh start.

 

Then a detective shows up. He knows about Finley’s unusual gifts and he wants her help. There’s a little girl missing and the police investigation has gone cold. Now, time is running out. Only Finley can uncover the truth – but can she find the answers before it’s too late?

 

 

My View:

I am a big fan of Lisa Unger, I love how she weaves the paranormal into the everyday, ordinary lives we live, the narratives do not seem incredible, they read as possible, and I am open to the suggestion of the type of paranormal experiences she reflects in her writing. Indeed as life imitates fiction and vice versa I have recently made acquaintance with someone who has explored “the afterlife”, hauntings etc and “virtually “ met up with an old school friend who “sees/feels/experiences “  violent deaths that occurred as she passes by old crime scenes. (Eerily this sounds very much like the protagonist in Australian author Melanie Casey’s Cass Lehman and Detective Ed Dyson series) but I digress.

 

Ink and Bone is a very satisfying though dark read, missing children are themes that are emotionally charged and grim, happy endings are not generally the outcome.   This narrative is no different – grim, dark, powerful and emotional yet it is the characters – their strengths and attitudes that lighten this read.

 

If you have read the three novellas that Lisa Unger “The Whispers” series you will have made acquaintance with some of the characters and locations in this novel. And this is where the element of reader satisfaction is called into play – the relationships developed here are gems! Finley reads as any young person trying to establish her own way in life; almost independent, trying news ways, making mistakes… Her grandmother is a delightful character too   – supportive, intuitive and with special “talents” that are a family trait.

 

All in all in all an immensely satisfying read – wonderful three dimensional characters and an intense, suspenseful read. Add an unreliable narrator who provides such a wonderfully wicked bittersweet twist to this ending…you gotta love this author and this book.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Scared To Death – Rachel Amphlett

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Scared to Death

Detective Kay Hunter #1

Rachel Amphlett

Saxon Publishing

ISBN: 9780994433756

 

Description:

A serial killer murdering for kicks.

A detective seeking revenge.

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

Scared to Death is a gripping fast paced crime thriller from author Rachel Amphlett, in a new series introducing Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…

 

My View:

Once you have been introduced to Detective Kay Hunter you will be firm friends. She is conscientious, driven, intelligent and hardworking and the author has generously provided a home life and a relationship that is strong and credible. Kay Hunter may have some personal and work issues that she is dealing with but these add to her credibility and make her a very well developed and realistic character. There is none of the desolate, drug addled or alcoholic traits that are so prevalent in the protagonists of so many contemporary crime fiction reads –   this three dimensional female protagonist is such a pleasant change to read.

 

And the realism doesn’t end there! Whilst not writing sensationalist, violent prose, the action and the crimes portrayed here is realistic, disturbing and very imaginable (emphasis on the imaginable). The behaviours and personality types of the victims – also very credible.

 

The strength of this novel is in Rachel Amphlett’s ability to succinctly create empathetic realistic characters and situations which allow readers to fully engage with many of the situations/issues presented here. Who hasn’t had some experience of bullying – in the workplace, in the home, at school, of being the target or the bully…of harassment, prejudice, discrimination? Parents will be able to identify with the fears and terrors the missing girls’ families feel.  And the young girls? You will recognise teenagers who fit this bill too.  And on a personal level – Kay’s “secret” is one that will resonate with many.  Dysfunctional families, family violence, divorce, co-parenting…work pressures, the pressures of the everyday…all is covered here and in doing so the author has very subtly and successfully  bonded you to the characters and the situations in this book. You will want to follow Kay Hunter on her journey to discover the truth.

 

Well done Rachel Amphlett.

 

More praise for Rachel Amphlett here:

 

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Post Script: Face Value – A Wright & Tran Novel – Ian Andrew

face-valueFace Value

A Wright & Tran Novel

Ian Andrew

ISBN: 9780992464127

 

Description:

Kara Wright and Tien Tran, former members of an elite intelligence gathering team active in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places still classified, now make their living through Wright & Tran, a PI service that tracks errant spouses, identifies dishonest employees and, just occasionally, takes on more significant cases that allow them to use all their skills.

 

When siblings Zoe and Michael Sterling insist that their middle-aged parents have gone missing, Kara and Tien are at first sceptical and then quickly intrigued; the father, ex-intelligence analyst Chris Sterling, appears to be involved with an enigmatic Russian thug.

 

Using less than orthodox methods and the services of ex-colleagues with highly specialised talents, Wright & Tran take on the case. But the truth they uncover is far from simple and will shake Zoe and Michael as much as it will challenge Tien and anger Kara – anger she can ill afford for she is being hunted by others for the killing of a street predator who chose the wrong prey.

 

The only constant in this darkening world is that nothing and no one can be taken at face value.

 

My View:

Australian authors are awesome!

 

What a fantastic discovery!  This book easily scores a place in my “Top Reads of 2016”! Fast paced, action packed, explosive, compulsive writing and with not one but two particularly interesting and empathetic female protagonists!

 

The introduction provides a very tasty and appetising bait – you won’t feel that hook until it is too late and it is after midnight and you are reading “just one more page”… until you have finished! You can catch up on sleep another night.

 

It wasn’t the prettiest place to die. But then again, where is? She was taking a short cut through unfamiliar territory. He was running an illegal errand on ground he called his own. Neither would have wanted the street with its vandalised lights and graffiti-covered hoardings, to be their final view of life. But we don’t often get what we want.”   (p.1)

 

Bad things are going to happen, you can feel it, sense it, taste it. But you might just get a surprise or two here. And then there is the rest of the narrative! I was thoroughly hooked, engaged, enthralled.

 

I cannot wait to read the second in this series “Flight Path.” Thanks Ian Andrew for a consuming read!

 

 

Post Script: Writing The Dream – A Serenity Press Anthology

writing-the-dream

Writing the Dream

24 Authors One Dream 24 Inspiring Stories

A Serenity Press Anthology

Serenity Press

ISBN: 9780994633736

 

Description:

A collection of 25 stories written by talented authors. No two writers are the same, but they have one thing in common: they are storytellers at heart and their deepest desire is to be heard. Writing the Dream shares the stories of twenty-five Australian writers, from emerging to established authors. Some are traditionally published, while others have taken the self-publishing route. Some have faced rejection after rejection, while others have had a dream path.

 

But, while their writing journeys are different, all of them strive to create, entertain, inspire and inform. And all of them have unique and creative voices that deserve to be heard.

 

With contributors including Anna Jacobs, Juliet Marillier, Natasha Lester, Jenn J McLeod, and a host of other talented writers, the stories in Writing the Dream are set to strike an inspirational chord in every hopeful writer’s heart.

 

 

My View:

Australian authors share their personal stories of process, inspiration, writing experiences and publishing in a very personal and honest collection of short stories. So many of the names here are familiar to me; some are authors I have already had the pleasure of reading their work, or I may have seen them talk at a festival or “know” via social media, regardless of how I have “met” this diverse group of writers, it felt like these authors were reaching out and speaking directly to me – such an intimate and inspirational approach; I highly value the advice given so generously here.

 

If you aspire to write, or dabble, or dream or perhaps know someone who does then this little book will brighten their day and get the words flowing on the pages.

 

As a bonus you get an extra chapter free, twenty five individual stories and each author provides a set of tips at the end of their chapter. One of the best hints/tips I think is from Melinda Tognini:

“Just start.” (p.233, emphasis added)