Post Script: In Two Minds – Gordon Parker

In Two Minds

In Two Minds

A Novel

Professor Gordon Parker

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781925384192

 

Description:

I can more or less guarantee that you know someone for whom this book will be important and inspiring. There’s a very strong chance that person will be you.Stephen Fry

 

Dr Martin Homer is a GP with a naturally sunny disposition. Honourable, attentive and trusted by all of his patients, Martin has only ever loved one woman – his wife, Sarah.

 

When his mother dies suddenly, Martin’s comfortable life is thrown into complete disarray. After sinking into the black dog of grief and depression, he ascends to new heights in a frenzied, manic high. Now, he’s never felt better!

 

In between riding his new skateboard around the streets at night and self-medicating from his stash at work, the artificially elated and self-entitled Martin crosses paths with Bella, a beautiful and sexual young woman profoundly damaged by trauma of her own.

 

In Two Minds takes you on a quirky, rollicking journey that unveils the complexities of mental illness with wit and warmth. Gordon Parker’s impressive career in psychiatry reveals itself through extremely rich descriptions of depression, bipolar and borderline personality characteristics.

 

My View:

 

This is an excellent portrait of mental illness wrapped in a personal narrative that is highly relatable and so engaging you will not be able to put this book down!

 

Martin’s Early Story (yes that is the chapter heading) was so sad – a child who tries to please everyone, a peacekeeper, a child carrying a burden of guilt…most who read this introduction to Martin’s life will feel compassion, sadness and perhaps a little anger directed at the adults in his life. Some will anticipate that the roads Martin will travel in the future will be potholed with mental health issues, and they will be right.

 

 

Bella’s introduction – such a revelation – her personality is uncanny in its familiarity, I recognise the “Bella” in so many women I have worked with/for – such damaged souls are everywhere! The author does not provide the same amount of personal history and  information about Bella or her early life or the events that shaped her thought processes, we don’t hear Bella’s story or her voice, so much as see her reactions to the world around her and the damage she inflicts on herself and to those close by.  We see Bella via her actions, her behaviours, her reactions, her manipulations… the author has created an excellent device to show how mental illness, (including depression) can affect individuals in different ways.

 

The two protagonists however are equal in the amount of pain they feel.

 

What happens when these two damaged individuals meet is devastating, yet like the drivers on a road compelled to watch the scene of an accident, we are compelled to read on, to watch this crash as it happens; brutal, destructive and bloody.

 

This is an excellent, thought provoking read! The author has created a captivating narrative written with a touch of dark humour and wit that will influence the way you perceive/judge the people around you. Gordon Parker has taken a socially taboo illness, shone a light on it, personalised it and thereby provided opportunities for further discussion.   Well done Gordon Parker.

 

 

PS

 

A question for the author – did you deliberately create one empathetic protagonist (Martin) and one not so for a reason? Perhaps to highlight the many faces of depression/mental illness and the way society responds?

 

Post Script: Combatting Fear – Sandy Vaile

combatting fear cover

Combatting Fear

Sandy Vaile

Crimson Romance

ISBN: 9781507203453

 

Description:

How far would you go to save a child that wasn’t yours?

 

Mild-mannered kindergarten teacher Neve Botticelli leads a double life. Thanks to a childhood tragedy and her paranoid father, she’s a trained warrior with extreme survival skills who lives off the grid.

 

When self-made billionaire Micah Kincaid storms into town in search of his son, Rowan, he’s pushy, entitled, and stands for everything she despises. Micah can’t believe a kindergarten teacher is barring the way to him getting crucial information or even just a glimpse of the boy his cheating ex kidnapped. They share only one thing in common: either will do anything to protect the four-year-old, who they soon discover is being held for ransom by an outlaw motorcycle gang.

 

But as they work together to get Rowan back, they start to see beyond each other’s masks. Could falling in love be even more dangerous than hunting down deadly criminals?
My View:

An action packed read – experience the rush!

 

Author Sandy Vaile has created a pulse raising, action packed romantic suspense narrative that surprised me with its intensity, mystery and physical action, this was not what I was expecting from this genre.

 

Bold and fearless main characters that are larger than life, filled to the brim with qualities that we all admire; compassion, integrity, selflessness, courage, bravery, determination, reliability and confidence with a side serve of eccentricity and vulnerability that are endearing and engaging and you have the recipe for successfully creating characters the reader cares about.  And care we do!  As the action ricochets off the pages we are consumed by worry and fear.

 

Outlaw motorcycle gangs make the perfect antiheroes – there is so much material to work with here, to install fear into the bravest heart and Sandy Vaile incorporates our worst fears into this read with authority and emotional impact.

 

The authors love for speed, thrills and adventure is obvious in this narrative as is her passion for South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, with its scenic vineyards, rolling hills and rugged bush terrain all showcased at its alluring best.

 

What’s not to love about this read?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Golden Child – Wendy James

Amazing!!!

golden-child

The Golden Child

Wendy James

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752371

 

Description:

Can bad children happen to good mothers? A totally absorbing novel, for readers of Liane Moriarty, Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas.

 

Blogger Lizzy’s life is buzzing, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions are simmering with her husband, mother-in-law and even her own mother. Her teenage daughters, once the objects of her existence, have moved beyond her grasp and one of them has shown signs of, well, thoughtlessness…

Then a classmate of one daughter is callously bullied and the finger of blame is pointed at Beth’s clever, beautiful child. Shattered, shamed and frightened, two families must negotiate worlds of cruelty they are totally ill-equipped for.

This is a novel that grapples with modern-day spectres of selfies, selfishness and cyberbullying. It plays with our fears of parenting, social media and Queen Bees, and it asks the question: just how well do you know your child?

 

 

My View:

I had great difficulty reading this book. Let me explain; I love the cover, I love this author’s work, and liked the synopsis, I wanted to read this book.  I started reading, I put the book down. I felt so much apprehension, so much dread, so evocative is the writing I could not go on – it was the fear of what I knew was coming – something really, really bad.   I picked up the book again. I could not stop!

 

This book has probably the lowest level of violence in all the books I have read since I began reviewing, yet is it so powerful, the truth so malignant, so uncomfortable and confronting it will have you wondering if those are angina pains you are feeling, you are holding yourself so tense your muscles ache.

 

This narrative drives a nail into our psyche and scapes the scabs off all those hidden sores; the self-doubts about your parenting skills, guilt regarding paid work V being stay home mums, relationship guilt, do you love enough/do enough/could you try harder/do better/ be a better wife/mother and independent woman? Do you give enough attention to husband/child/ your other children? Do you play favourites?  Do you know your own children? How could I not know?  Is this my fault? It is my fault.

 

What a wonderful, confronting, pulse raising read!

 

 

 

Post Script – The Scandalous Life of Sacha Torte – Lesley Truffle

the-scandalous-life-of-sasha-torte

The Scandalous Life of Sasha Torte

Lesley Truffle

HarperCollins Publishing Australia

ISBN: 9781460751442

 

Description:

Revenge, redemption … and pastry. The witty new novel from the author of Hotel du Barry, for fans of Jonas Jonasson.

 

In the winter of 1912 on the wild West Coast of Tasmania, Wolfftown’s most notorious heiress and murderess, Sasha Torte, tells the tale of her own spectacular downfall.

 

Forsaken by her parents and raised by criminals and reprobates, Sasha becomes a world-famous pastry chef at the tender age of seventeen. Entanglement with the disreputable Dasher brothers leads to love, but also to a dangerous addiction.

 

Behind bars in Wolfftown’s gaol, Sasha sips premium champagne as she recalls a life of seduction, betrayal, ghosts, opium and an indiscreet quantity of confectionary – and plots her escape.

 

The Scandalous Life of Sasha Torte: revenge, redemption and pastry, is a novel of dastardly deeds, intrepid protagonists, dark villains, wild gangs, luxurious hotels … and murder.

 

My View:

A captivating/fun/ribald/honest read…and educational 🙂

 

Open the pages and catch a glimpse of colonial Australia, in particular the Wild West coast of Tasmania to a narrative set in the fictional township of Wolfftown.  The reader is privy to the extreme vagaries of the rich and the devastatingly poor – the contrast is extreme.  Those familiar with the history of the Australian penal settlements and mores of the time will be aware of the huge role alcohol played in society – indeed it was even deemed currency – actual as payment for labour and social currency – snobbery and elitism abounded.

 

Thus we have the perfect introduction to a new (to me) description that appeared in this witty narrative – crapulous! What a fantastic word! Now at this point I must admit to you that I read along thinking…hmm…a little of the authors own colloquialism here…however at some stage in my reading of this novel I decided to see if such a word did exist – and to my surprise it does! Crapulous – what a fabulous word!

Word Origin and History for crapulous

adj.

 

1530s, “sick from too much drinking,” from Latin crapula, from Greek kraipale “hangover, drunken headache, nausea from debauching.” The Romans used it for drunkenness itself. English has used it in both senses. Related: Crapulously; crapulousness.” Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

 

What a perfect description – concisely and succinctly describes some of the themes covered in this novel – drunkenness, debauchery but …alcohol and addictive behaviours provide both the backdrop and the impetus for so much that happens in this novel – destructive behaviour that time has not changed. Truffle touches on issues of mental health, family violence and all manner of social issues directly related to crapulous and addictive behaviours.

Yet this is not a depressing book – written with wit and humour and with an outlandish cast of fops and conceited, talented and not so talented, corrupt and powerful individuals juxtaposed against a cast of world weary chancers and survivors… and a wonderful wonderful gutsy determined (in everything) talented, liberal, liberated and resourceful female protagonist – this is a riotous read.

 

At is core it is a mystery – the narrative introduces Sasha – who has been convicted of murder and who fears – like so many do – that she is turning into her mother (p. 11). The hook gleams – we want to know the what, why and how she is guilty of murder…and so the intriguing and entertaining story begins.  Sasha is incarcerated and we hear (via the memoir she is writing ) her history, a great device for allowing the reader to travel back in time to the beginning of her story and the prefect way to understand Sasha’s spectacular rise and fall and rise again…  but no spoilers here – you must read this yourself.

 

A little history, a little romance, a lot of crapulous behaviour, sex, alcohol, drugs, murder, cakes, baking and sugar syrup! A delightful read.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Frame – AK Alliss

Amor Vincit Omnia!

frame

 

Frame

AK Alliss

Atlas Productions Pty Ltd

ISBN: 9780995377615

 

Description:

How far would you go to save someone who was already dead?

 

Hidden in the frame of a single photo, a content producer for social media sensation, Mathew Albrecht, discovers his possible ties to a global terrorist organisation. Could her client’s involvement also be linked to the death of her husband years earlier or is it something entirely more sinister in nature?

 

What is revealed may eclipse everything that she thought she knew, forcing her to confront the ghosts of her past in her pursuit of the truth.

 

Frame is a genre-bending thriller, set in a world poised on the brink of insanity.

 

 

My View:

I first read this remarkable narrative as a manuscript – I knew nothing of the author, or his style of writing or his track record but I was hooked from the moment I read these couple of sentences in synopsis; “Hidden in the frame of a single photo, a content producer for social media sensation, Mathew Albrecht, discovers his possible ties to a global terrorist organisation. Could her client’s involvement also be linked to the death of her husband years earlier or is it something entirely more sinister in nature?

 

Synchronicity was at work! In a previous life (as most of you will already know) I worked in the film and television industry, looking at images frame by frame…content producing… these terms/actions immediately connected and intrigued me. I had to read this and find out more.

 

And am I glad I took this opportunity? YES! This is an amazing read.  A thriller that is set in the future – but not too far in the future, in the foreseeable future – I can “see” the landscapes, the settings and the technology.

 

And technology is power – holders of this power can influence, control; domestically the power of social media dictates trends, projects individuals to celebrity status and a culture of hero worship by keyboard is encouraged. Politically, wars are won or lost based on control of information and technical fighting power. The landscapes created here are so real they make you feel uncomfortable.

 

The characters are vivid and realistic – I feel for the protagonist, Hannah – melancholy, trapped by a web of grief wound so tight she can hardly breathe…yet strong and resourceful and smart – a great female protagonist.

 

Love, grief, the importance of family, of emotional connections, ties that bind, are themes that are explored in depth in the novel. The words  love and family usually connatates positive emotions and responses but loss of love or the void death creates can also restrict, hold our emotional health to ransom and have the potential to destroy. Hope can empower and create change.  Ultimately  (no spoilers here) the lesson here is: Love Conquers All.

 

A meaningful and captivating read!