Guest Review – A Month of Sundays – Liz Byrski

A Month of Sundays Liz Byrski cover art

 

A Month of Sundays

Liz Byrski

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781743534946

Description:

For over ten years, Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone have been in an online book club, but they have never met face to face. Until now…

Determined to enjoy her imminent retirement, Adele invites her fellow bibliophiles to help her house-sit in the Blue Mountains. It’s a tantalising opportunity to spend a month walking in the fresh air, napping by the fire and, of course, reading and talking about books.

But these aren’t just any books: each member has been asked to choose a book which will teach the others more about her. And with each woman facing a crossroads in her life, it turns out there’s a lot for them to learn, not just about their fellow book-clubbers, but also about themselves.

Liz Byrski has written a beautiful novel about the joy and comfort reading a good book can bring to us all.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The four women; Ros from Sydney, Adele from Adelaide, Judy from Mandurah near Perth, and Simone from Tasmania have had their weekly book club meetings via Skype, always online, never having met one another. The group had been larger but had dwindled over the years; the four were friends but in saying that, hardly knew one another. When a friend of Adele’s asked her to house-sit in the Blue Mountains – take some friends if she wanted – Adele immediately thought of the book club ladies. Her trepidation at sending the email to them all was unwarranted, as all three gave a resoundingly positive yes!

Each member was to choose a book that had meaning to them; to bring four copies and when it was that person’s turn, hand out the copy leaving a week to read it. Then come Sunday, it was discussion time. As the days moved forward, in among the brisk walks in the sunshine; the sharing of the beauty of the area; and of course, the joy of having Ros’ dog Clooney to fuss over – everyone realized that these women in their sixties and seventies, had a past which had affected their current lives, and themselves. They were at the stage of needing to learn why they were as they were, and whether it was possible to let the past remain in the past – to make peace with it.

Would those very special books, chosen with love by the four book club women, help in defining them? And would four women, previously unknown to each other, other than an online presence, manage to get on for four weeks in the same house?

A Month of Sundays by Aussie author Liz Byrski is an exceptional, emotional and brilliant read! I can’t fault the writing, the story, the fabulous women – and of course being about books, I’m going to look up each and every book they read for their book club get together each Sunday (and I won’t say what they are here as it’ll spoil the element of surprise for a new reader). I want to be taught yoga by Simone – I identified so much with Adele – I felt a deep empathy for Ros; and loved Clooney – and wanted to give Judy a big hug. Such an excellent read – Ms Byrski doesn’t disappoint. Highly recommended – 5 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan AU for my uncorrected proof ARC to read and review.

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Guest Review: Fool’s Gold – Fleur McDonald

Fools Gold

Fool’s Gold

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760293963

Description:

‘To Dave, the posting to Barrabine was exactly what he’d wanted – it was a town on the edge, the wild west. There would be excitement, mystery and intrigue here. Everything a detective looked for.’

Detective Dave Burrows’ first posting to the far West goldfields town of Barrabine holds everything he’s looking for but Melinda, his wife of two weeks, is devastated at leaving behind her family, friends and career. More comfortable in heels than RM Williams, Melinda walked away from her much-loved job in the city as a paediatric nurse to follow Dave into the bush.

Dave settles in easily to the plain-speaking toughness of his new town, determined to do well, knowing that Barrabine could be his stepping stone into the elite Stock Squad. But will his marriage last the distance?

As Dave investigates reports of mysterious late-night trespassing, a missing person, and guns being drawn on strangers, a local prospector phones in with horrific news that could hold the key to everything…

Fleur McDonald’s bestselling rural storytelling makes Fool’s Gold, the first book in the Detective Dave Burrows series, a compelling and exciting beginning.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Only two weeks since their wedding and Detective Dave Burrows arrived with his wife Melinda in the small outback goldfields town of Barrabine in Western Australia. The dust and sparse landscape looked inviting to him, but Melinda was a city girl. She’d resigned her position as a paediatric nurse at a Perth hospital and Dave hoped she could get another at the local hospital. He hoped she would settle in and make friends before too long.

Dave enjoyed the camaraderie with his partner, Spencer and the other members of the force at the small station – he was to find the friendliness of the locals was normal; apart from those who wanted to avoid the cops. But the local prospectors were a crusty lot, and gradually Dave met them all. It was the day one of those miners called the station to report something suspicious that found Dave investigating a far more sinister occurrence than the normal small crimes of Barrabine.

Would Dave discover the answers to the strange events happening in the area? There were secrets, he knew that, but uncovering them might be more difficult than he realised.

Fool’s Gold by Aussie author Fleur McDonald is another excellent romantic suspense novel which I loved. And with this being the 1st in the Detective Dave Burrows series, it is set in 1997 as it tells his story, taking the popular detective back to his beginnings. I first met him in Sapphire Falls and then again in Suddenly One Summer. I’m loving going back to when he started in the force as he gets involved in the intense and gritty crimes of a small community, and very much looking forward to the second in the series. Highly recommended.

A 5 star recommendation.

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

My Best Crime/Thriller/Mystery Reads of 2017

This is always such a difficult decision to make but the best thing to do is just start, start listing… here goes; in no particular order my best Crime Fiction/Thriller/Mystery reads of 2017 are:

Flight Path – Ian Andrew

The Burden of Lies – Richard Beasley

Wimmera – Mark Brandi

The Child Finder –  Renee Denfield

Her – Garry Disher

The Girls in Kellers Way – Megan Goldin

Too Easy – J M Green

The Golden Child – Wendy James

Broken Bones – Angela Marsons

I See You – Clare Macintosh

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman (aka Everything You Want Me to Be) – Mindy Mejia

The Right Side – Spencer Quinn

Two Nights – Kathy Reichs

The Bird Watcher – William Shaw

The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

Fatal Crossing (Nora Sand #1) – Lone Theils

And the Fire Came Down – Emma Viskic

 

Did any of these make it on to your reading shelves last year? There were so many great reads last year the list could have gone on an on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In The Mail 22nd December 2017

A busy book receiving week. I have already had a sneak peek at a couple of the titles here; Anatomy Of A Scandal captures the epitome of Entitlement, Maggie’s Recipes For Life is a new favourite,    Salt Fat Acid Heat – is a book that will be on my best of list for 2017, The Tattooist of Auschwitz is one I am really looking forward to reading, The Wanted –   Robert Crais has been on my want to read list forever, really looking forward to this one.  Fallow looks intriguing, I Love You In Five Languages is delightful,  The Hangman appeals, The Collector  – psychological thrillers are my favourite type of read,  The Secret Vineyard – set in  our very own Margaret River,  The Book of Summer – a dual timeline read. Where to begin? Any of your favourites here?

 

books 22 Dec 2017

 

In The Mail This Week 17 June 2016

In the mail this week I received some fantastic reads – a few by authors I have rad before, a few that are new to me. In this stack are a few works of crime fiction; some Australian crime fiction, a couple of true crime, some international crime writers, crime with a paranormal twist, crime written by local author (Ian Andrew)  and…some contemporary reads.   I have started reading “When the Music Is Over” by Peter Robinson – my first DCI Banks read and I am looking forward to reading the new offering from Australian author Fleur Ferris “Black”- I loved her first book “Risk“. So many great reads ahead of me.

 

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Any favourites?

In the mail 17 June 2016

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Olga Lorenzo

The Light on the Water

The Light On The Water

Olag Lorenzo

Allen & Unwin

RRP A$29.99

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olga Lorenzo is the author of The Rooms in My Mother’s House, which was published in 1996 and shortlisted for various literary awards, including the IMPAC Prize. Olga has won the Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne for her writing, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship. She has taught writing for 17 years at RMIT University and various other tertiary institutions, and has a Masters and a PhD in creative writing from the University of Melbourne. She previously worked as a journalist and sub-editor for the Melbourne Age.

 

Welcome to my blog Olga. I very much enjoyed your latest release, it is so evocative at times I had difficulty reading.It certainly made me think.

Olga Lorenzo photo(c) Tania Jovanovic

Olga Lorenzo photo (c) Tania Jovanovic

10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Olga Lorenzo

Let’s talk early careers; teaching, journalism and other paths to the road of writer. How did you early careers influence your approach to writing?
I’ve found journalism and novel writing quite different; one is almost like filling out a form to me, in the sense that there is a known and recognizable structure, especially in the inverted pyramid that is a news story. Writing a novel sometimes feels like trying to find a path through seawater. There are very few markers.

 

Let’s talk writing. I know in 1996 you published the novel The Rooms in My Mother’s House, did you write other pieces before this or plunge straight into writing a full length novel?
I plunged into the novel; I had always wanted to write a novel.

 

 

I see that you have won the prestigious Felix Meyer Scholarship and the Percival Serle Bequest at the University of Melbourne, as well as grants from Arts Victoria and the Australia Council, and a Varuna Fellowship – scholarships and grants provide the author with other resources and assistance other than just (useful)$$$ – how did winning these award/grants assist you in your path to publishing?
I was extremely fortunate that when I applied for the Arts Council grant, I had to ask for a letter of support. I approached Hilary McPhee, whose son I had once babysat. Hilary was then head of Pan Macmillan, and she looked at my excerpt and offered to publish the novel when I finished it. I had only just started and that was very exciting and sustained me as I was writing.

 

 

What do you love about writing?
I don’t know that I love writing. I love having written. But Toni Morrison once said that the great thing about writing is that you can use all of your earned wisdom, everything you have learned about people and life, all your pain and all your joy can go into it. I do love that about the work I get to do. Only art allows for anything like that.

 

 

Let’s talk books and influences. Who is your favourite author?
That is so hard to say. I go through phases and of course I read as much as I can. As a child and young adult I read voraciously. I loved Hermann Hesse and John Steinbeck. More recently I have loved Elizabeth Strout. And Marilyn Robinson’s Housekeeping is a gorgeous book.

 

Do you have a favourite book?
No, but I think that Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, while flawed, has moments of absolute brilliance. I love strong characters.

 

 

Let’s talk about the characters in your books – your novels are character driven narratives – how do you construct a character? Full formed before you begin writing? Influenced by people you know?
They are always fictional but yes, they are influenced by what I have experienced in life. I tell my students to write from life in the sense of using their own learned wisdom, as Toni Morrison says. And then fictionalising for all your worth.

 

 

Let’s talk about themes in your work. The social construct of family seems to feature heavily in your work. What other issues do you want your readers to consider in The Light on The Water?
Ideas about social inclusion and exclusion are huge to me, and I DO think it starts with family. Sometimes we are outsiders even in our own families, for instance, when we are not fully accepted by in-laws or step-children. Sometimes a parent doesn’t accept their child’s sexual orientation. All forms of being unaccepted and excluded are very painful, as we are social animals and don’t do well on our own. We need our clan, our herd. I was writing about this in The Light on the Water, and am returning to it in my next novel.

 

Who do you see as your prime audience?
I want as many people to read my books as possible. I aspire for them to be thoughtful and intelligent and well-written, but also accessible to a wide audience. I sometimes think of something like The Simpsons cartoons, which I think a wide variety of people respond to at different levels of meaning, depending on their ability to understand satire.

 

 

Lets’ talk next book? Are you currently writing a new novel? Where will it be set?
It is set in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs and also inner city Melbourne, and is about a single mother who brings home the wrong baby from the hospital. When she finds her true daughter, she begins a relationship with that child’s father, who is also single. But the daughter she didn’t take home from hospital has grown into a cold and haughty young woman, partly because she has been over-indulged by her father. As a result, she is unable to love or feel empathy and doesn’t accept my protagonist’s attempts to love her.

Keep in touch with Olga here:

F/b Olga Lorenzo – Author
Twitter Olga Lorenzo @olgalorenzo3