Sidetracked…

In the mail this week I received a copy of  The Girl Who Takes and Eye For an Eye – David Lagercrantz (continuing the Steig Larsson triology). All good except I then realised  that this is book 5 and I hadn’t read book  4.  A bit of googling and I came across a copy in the local area – quick into the car and was immediately sidetracked by a pop up cellar door – open today only.  We had to stop.  What delightful wines.

 

Pop up cellar door and books

 

 

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Post Script – The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter

Karin Slaughter

HarperCollins UK, HarperFiction

HarperCollins

ISBN: 9780008150785

 

Description:

The stunning new standalone, with a chilling edge of psychological suspense, from the No. 1 bestelling author of the Will Trent and Grant County series.

 

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

 

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever …

 

 

My View:

Karin Slaughter – you are such an incredibly talented writer and story teller. Each standalone novel you write surprises me with its excellence – all have been compulsive reading. Each time I read your latest release I think I have read your BEST work and then another book is published and surpasses all my expectations.  How do you do it?  Actually I don’t care how – just don’t stop!

 

 

 

 

Guest Review – The Choke – Sofie Laguna

The Choke

The Choke

Sofie Laguna

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760297244

 

Description:

A mesmerising, harrowing and ultimately uplifting novel from the 2015 Miles Franklin winner.

Abandoned by her mother as a toddler and only occasionally visited by her volatile father who keeps dangerous secrets, Justine is raised solely by her Pop, an old man tormented by visions of the Burma Railway. Justine finds sanctuary in Pop’s chooks and The Choke, where the banks of the Murray River are so narrow they can almost touch—a place of staggering natural beauty that is both a source of peace and danger. Although Justine doesn’t know it, her father is a menacing criminal and the world she is exposed to is one of great peril to her. She has to make sense of it on her own—and when she eventually does, she knows what she has to do.

A brilliant, haunting novel about a child navigating an often dark and uncaring world of male power, guns and violence, in which grown-ups can’t be trusted and comfort can only be found in nature, The Choke is a compassionate and claustrophobic vision of a child in danger and a society in deep trouble. It once again showcases the Miles Franklin Award-winning author as a writer of rare empathy, originality and blazing talent.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Justine lived with her Pop as her father, Ray, was rarely around. Her mother had left when she was three years old having never recovered, both physically and mentally, from Justine’s birth. Pop’s shack near the banks of the Murray River where he and Justine spent their days was barely liveable – Pop had survived the war, but his memories of the Burma Railway and his part in the building of it, were forever in his mind.

Justine had two half-brothers – Steve and Kirk – and while they were young, they spent their days together, doing what kids all over did. The Choke where the Murray’s banks were closest was a site of great entertainment; Pop’s girls, the chooks, took Justine’s attention as she collected the eggs. But as she grew up, things changed. And at thirteen, Justine’s gentle, quiet and unassuming life would change forever…

The Choke by Aussie author Sofie Laguna is an emotional, dark and unsettling novel which will break your heart and give you hope all at the same time. Justine is a naïve young girl, with no-one around her but men, both old and young – no-one to explain about life to her. She can’t verbalise the questions; therefore, she doesn’t have the answers. “I never had words to ask anybody the questions, so I never had the answers.” P233.

I’m finding it difficult to review The Choke as I feel I’m unable to do the author justice. Her writing is unique; her descriptions, both of the area Justine lives, and Justine’s life and her internal traumas is outstanding. I could see the danger coming for Justine, but it was like watching a train wreck and not being able to do anything about it.

I loved The Eye of the Sheep and Sofie Laguna has another 5 star winner with The Choke in my opinion. Very highly recommended.

 

Post Script: Too Easy – J.M.Green

#TooEasy

Too Easy

J M Green

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925322026

 

Description:

Wisecracking social worker Stella Hardy returns, and this time she’s battling outlaw bikie gangs, corrupt cops, and a powerful hunger for pani puri.

 

On a stormy Halloween night, Stella gets a call from her best friend, Detective Phuong Nguyen. Phuong has a problem. Or rather her lover, Bruce Copeland, does.

 

Copeland has been implicated in a police-corruption scandal, and the only person who can help prove his innocence has disappeared. The missing man is Isaac Mortimer, a drug dealer associated with the notorious motorcycle gang The Corpse Flowers. Reluctantly, Stella offers to help track him down — and it isn’t long before she is way in over her head: evading bikies, drinking tea with drug dealers, and, worst of all, hanging out in the Macca’s carpark with a bunch of smart-alec teenagers.

 

Then, when Stella discovers that local street kids are being groomed for some sinister purpose — and that a psychopath with bust face tattooed across his knuckles is pursuing her — she realises she has her work cut out for her.

 

Sounds easy? Too easy.

 

 

My View:

What an outstanding read! This is my favourite Australian work of crime fiction this year – the dark humour, the flawed, complex, relatable characters are a joy to read, the Australian landscapes – political, physical and social are so relevant and the narrative is compulsive reading – EXCELLENT!!!

 

Stella is the social conscience of contemporary Australians. This is astute and wickedly funny writing, deliciously enthralling. Five stars does not do this book justice!

 

 

 “I pulled over to use the GPS on my phone trying to figure out where I’d gone wrong. If only I could do the same with my life.”

 

Darkness and I split the bills, had a roster for the dishes. It seemed to work. I didn’t pretend to be a good person.”

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: And Fire Came Down – Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down

And Fire Came Down

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

Bonnier

ISBN: 9781760402945

 

Description:

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic is used to meeting life head-on. Now, he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.

 

But when a young woman is killed, after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. The trail leads Caleb back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert, and simmering with racial tensions. As Caleb delves deeper, he uncovers secrets that could ruin any chance of reuniting with Kat, and even threaten his life. Driven by his own demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

 

‘I love the world that Emma Viskic has created, in all its complexity and in all its truth’ – Christos Tsiolkas

 

‘Emma Viskic is a terrific, gutsy writer with great insight into the murkiness of both criminal and heroic motivations’ – Emily Maguire

 

The second Caleb Zelic thriller from the author of Resurrection Bay – Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and Davitt Awards for Best Novel, Best Debut and Reader’s Choice.

 

 

My View:

The continuing narrative of the chaotic life of Caleb Zelic, private investigator, is filled with suspense, mystery, anger, social commentary wit, humour and many exquisite moments. This is a portrait of a fractured love, a fractured life with many references to Picasso’s Guernica; violence, chaos, war, flames…the suffering of innocents.

 

The writing is evocative and fast paced. Themes of family, drug reliance, race and identity intersect and explode in small town contemporary Australia. This narrative is fraught with regrets and what ifs, there are many stories left unfinished, many moments of heartache and pain yet there is a glimpse of potential, of a brighter future, of redemption (for some)…book three will be amazing!

 

“Not together, not apart, still caught between breaths.” P.151 Exquisite and powerful writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Review: The Way Back – Kylie Ladd

 

The Way Back

The Way Back

Kylie Ladd

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760297138

 

 

Description:

All she wanted was to escape. But why does she still feel trapped. A gripping psychological drama by the author of Mothers and Daughters and Into My Arms.

Charlie Johnson is 13 and in her first year of high school. She loves her family, netball and Liam, the cute guy who sits next to her in Science – but most of all she loves horses and horse-riding. Charlie’s parents have leased her a horse, Tic Tac, from the local pony club, but one day they go out for a ride in the national park and only Tic Tac returns…

Four months later, long after the police and the SES have called off the search, Charlie is found wandering injured and filthy, miles from where she was last seen. Her family rejoice in her return, but can anyone truly recover from what Charlie’s been through? When a life has been shattered, how do you put the pieces back together?

 

 

Brenda’s Review:

Thirteen year old Charlie Johnson had a happy and contented life – her mum Rachael worked full-time in a job she loved; dad Matt was a fireman and her older brother Dan was in high school and loved music. Charlie loved her horse Tic Tac – though technically he wasn’t her horse, having been leased from the pony club where Charlie spent a lot of her time, but Ticcy was hers. The Saturday that Charlie and her friend Ivy went for their usual ride through the National Park after pony club was the day everything changed.

When Ivy returned to say Tic Tac was lame and Charlie was walking him back, Hannah immediately mounted her horse and set out to meet Charlie. But neither of them could be found – and when Tic Tac returned days later, limping and dishevelled but without Charlie, they knew something was dreadfully wrong.

Matt and Dan searched with the SES and police for days and weeks on end – everything that could be done was done. But it was like Charlie had vanished off the face of the earth. The National Park near Melbourne was dense and vast – the search covered a huge area, but Charlie had disappeared. Rachael was beside herself, imagining the worst…

The day Charlie staggered from the bush, filthy, injured and incoherent, everyone was ecstatic – her family was over the moon, the police thrilled with the outcome. But could Charlie be the same girl she was four months prior? Would anything ever be the same again? And what had happened to Charlie in the time she was missing?

What a brilliant, breathtaking psychological thriller Aussie author Kylie Ladd has produced with her latest, The Way Back! Emotional, heartbreaking, tear-jerking and above all, outstanding, this novel ticks all the boxes. I have no hesitation in recommending The Way Back extremely highly! 5 stars!

With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my ARC to read and review.

Post Script: The Lone Child – Anna George

The Lone Child

 

The Lone Child

Anna George

Penguin Australia

Viking

ISBN: 9780670077748

 

Description:

‘Midway through the call, she could hear her baby crying. She swore. It was 8.30. But the operator’s banal questions kept coming, undercutting the situation’s urgency. All Neve wanted to say was: Help! That woman was erratic and enraged, with children in her car.’

 

Emotionally compelling and poignant, The Lone Child is a haunting follow-up novel from Anna George, author of the critically acclaimed debut What Came Before.

 

Over the space of one Easter weekend on the idyllic Mornington Peninsula, a moral dilemma forces a well-to-do new mum to confront her preconceived ideas of how the other half lives and experiences motherhood.

 

Abandoned by her partner while she was eight months pregnant, Neve Ayres has sought refuge with her newborn baby in her clifftop home in scenic Flinders. Already struggling to cope with the sleepless haze of motherhood, Neve finds her world turned upside yet again when an unwelcome visitor appears in the night, leaving much more than just a hole in her beautifully crafted stone wall.

Sal Marioni is struggling to cope with the recent death of his mother when he receives the unexpected and urgent phone call. A woman from his past – the enigmatic Neve Ayres – needs his help. Intrigued despite himself, Sal soon finds himself swept up in the mystery surrounding the lonely and exhausted new mother.

 

Leah Chalmers is another struggling single mother. With two young children, no money and nowhere to go, she is desperate to pull together the threads of her life so that her family can be safe and sheltered over the Easter long weekend. However when disaster strikes, who can she turn to? A mixture of shame and fear grips her as she battles to seek help for her young family.

 

Just as What Came Before compassionately explored issues of domestic violence and abuse, The Lone Child similarly hits a collective nerve with a probing examination of child welfare and motherhood, with all their moral and ethical ambiguities. Exploring pain, judgement, love and loss, The Lone Child is a chillingly honest depiction of the bewildering and often isolating exhaustion of motherhood, and the fraught bonds between mother and child.

 

‘Some things, she’d realised, couldn’t be fully understood until lived. Like falling in love, and orgasm. Childbirth and motherhood.’

 

My View:

WOW!!! Such exquisite writing packed with feelings.

 

Motherhood – what a complicated, exhausting, rewarding, frustrating, emotional roller-coaster of a journey it is and Anna George captures the nuances of this very individual yet collective experience so well.

 

The narrative takes place in an isolated wintry landscape – a holiday maker’s idyll in the summer, almost a different territory in the wet and sombre wintry days – weather to match the bleak mood of the protagonist – Neve Ayres – so bleak the narrative has a somewhat gothic feel.  The landscape plays such an important role in this narrative – defining mood, creating atmosphere and drama, all captivatingly written.

 

Motherhood is depicted in an honest, brave and scarily accurate manner, it seems George has managed to pick your mind and reveal a mother’s inner most fears and muddle of feelings.  These are explored in dual settings – motherhood is explored where material wealth is no barrier to a potential favourable lifestyle juxtaposed against the experience of motherhood lived in poverty and homelessness– such different lives but the underlying emotions and connection between mother and child, bridge the social gap.  Isolation doesn’t care about social position.

 

Add to this rich blanket of emotions the spectre of death and a discussion surrounding mourning and a spooky undercurrent haunts the pages and culminates in an ending that is surreal and powerful. So many emotions on these pages, such an incredible read!

 

I have one question – what next can we expect from the writer Anna George? Two wonderful thought provoking books covering such different themes…what next?