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.

Advertisements

Post Script: Love at First Flight – Tess Woods

love-at-first-flight

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: Scared To Death – Rachel Amphlett

scared-to-death

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:

 

scared-to-death-blog-tour4-19-23-dec

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Drifter – Anthea Hodgson

the-drifter

The Drifter

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9780143797241

 

Description:

Cate Christie is a party girl, unable to commit to anything, until she is involved in a tragic accident that changes everything. To escape her guilt and her parents’ bitter disapproval, Cate leaves Perth for her Aunt Ida’s isolated farm in country Western Australia.

 

Henry is a drifter, a young swagman-like character who wanders onto the Christie family property and takes up residence in a disused shed. With secrets of his own, the last thing he wants is to get tangled up in Cate and Ida’s lives.

 

Against their own better judgement, the fates of Cate and Henry and Ida inexorably intertwine and they learn to face the realities of life, death and letting go.

 

A witty, charming and moving debut rural romance about what makes a good death and, more importantly, what makes a good life.

 

 

My View:

Debut Perth writer reflects on survivors guilt in a moving, fast paced most enjoyable coming of age read that ticks all the boxes.

 

Wonderful realistic characters

Natural and genuine dialogue

Local (Western Australian) settings – rural and city

Discusses many contemporary social issues including redemption and atonement, survivor guilt, end of life choices, the survival of small rural towns …

Has a fast paced narrative

Is mysterious and complex

Has an honest and trustworthy voice

Weaves into the narrative a few twists

And an ending that…will you will have to discover that yourself.

 

What more could you want?

Post Script: Tell The Truth Shame The Devil – Melina Marchetta

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

tell-the-truth-shame-the-devil

Tell the Truth Shame the Devil

Melina Marchetta

Viking

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780670079100

 

Description:

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

 

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

 

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.

 

 

My View:

This is one book that you can believe all the hype about it!

Deftly created empathetic characters; a strong female cast, women supporting women, family – in all shapes and sizes is a major element in this mystery. Complex – so many contemporary issues are addressed in this novel yet it is not verbose or pretentious or patronising. Heart felt scenarios – I dare you not to have a tear in your eye as you encounter the last few pages of the book – not tears of sadness but of relief, thankfulness, gratitude…tears for the potential you can visualise.

 

Don’t mistake my commendations as a sign this is a “chick lit” style book – it isn’t! This is an incredibly well written contemporary mystery/thriller with such well-developed characters you feel like you know them! Redemption, forgiveness, hope…its all here. I can’t praise this read highly enough. Add this to your book buying list now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Walking The Line – Mandy Magro – Guest Reviewer

Brenda gives this a five star review!

walking-the-line

 Walking the Line

Mandy Magro

Harlequin MIRA AU

ISBN: 9781489210609

 

Description:

For how long can secrets stay buried?

Country-loving Dallas Armstrong is a hard-as-nails bull rider, who dreams of becoming Australian champion, just like his father, Mick, was. But when he discovers a shocking secret about his father on the same day Mick dies in a car accident, Dallas’s world is turned upside down. Now it’s up to him to protect his mother from the truth, and to keep the family farm Rollingstone Ridge afloat. And he will do everything in his power to do so.

Charlize Dawson is a successful city journalist whose marriage is in tatters. Begrudgingly sent to the country to write about Dallas, she is surprised to find that he isn’t the arrogant cowboy she’d assumed he’d be. Instead she and Dallas and share an intense chemistry and deep connection that lead to a stolen kiss at the Rodeo Ball.

But when Charlize’s research for her article puts her on the path of uncovering Dallas’s secret, he demands she stop or lose him forever. Dallas or her career, which should she choose? How can she turn her back on the people who have welcomed her into their lives with open arms, all in the name of her job? Her career is all she has left, and she has worked so very hard to be where she is. But how can she reveal what she knows, if it means losing the love of her life?

 

Brenda’s View:

Journalist from a top Sydney newspaper, Charlize Dawson was going through many stages of grief after finding her beloved husband had been cheating; their marriage a sham. But then her boss who was also a good friend, decided to send Charlize to Grenfell, deep in the country near Parkes in New South Wales. His idea was for Charlize to have some time to clear her mind and think about her future, plus combine it with an assignment to interview Dallas Armstrong, champion bull rider keen to become the Australian champion. Reluctant though she was, Charlize knew the break away would help; and her career wouldn’t suffer either.

Dallas lived on Rollingstone Ridge, the family farm which had been his home from birth. His father had been killed several months before in a terrible car accident, only a matter of hours after Dallas had discovered a secret he had been hiding; his determination to protect his mother Katherine and Gramps Reg from learning the truth had him struggling with a combination of grief and guilt.

On learning of the imminent arrival of the journalist, Dallas was angry. He didn’t want this – the risk of secrets being uncovered had him concerned. But helping the family farm survive was a priority – he was sure he could handle it and send the journalist on her way. As Charlize settled quickly into country life, loving it which surprised her immensely, she found Dallas’ family friendly and welcoming. The townsfolk of Grenfell were the same – all except for one person. Who was this bitter, nasty piece of work who seemed to want to do nothing more than cause trouble? And what would Charlize do when she discovered something she really didn’t want to know?

Walking the Line is another excellent rural romantic suspense novel by Aussie author Mandy Magro. Set in the vast depths of country Australia, the descriptions of the bush and rural life, along with the struggles of the farmers are authentic. The mystery and intrigue are high; the pages, especially toward the end, just raced by while I kept reading until late to discover what had happened. This 5 star read is highly recommended.

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.

 

Post Script: The Chocolate Tin – Fiona McIntosh

Please welcome Brenda –   0ne of my new guest reviewers. 

the-chocolate-tin

 The Chocolate Tin

Fiona McIntosh

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143797067

 

Description:

The highly anticipated, sensuous new blockbuster by the beloved, bestselling author of The Perfumer’s Secret.

Alexandra Frobisher is a modern-thinking woman with hopes of a career in England’s famous chocolate-making town of York. She has received several proposals of marriage, although none of them promises that elusive extra – love.

Matthew Britten-Jones is a man of charm and strong social standing. He impresses Alex and her parents with his wit and intelligence, but would an amicable union be enough for a fulfilling life together?

At the end of the war, Captain Harry Blakeney discovers a dead soldier in a trench in France. In the man’s possession is a secret love note, tucked inside a tin of chocolate that had been sent to the soldiers as a gift from the people back home.

In pursuit of the author of this mysterious message, Harry travels to Rowntree’s chocolate factory in England’s north, where his life becomes inextricably bound with Alexandra and Matthew’s. Only together will they be able to unlock secrets of the past and offer each other the greatest gift for the future.

From the battlefields of northern France to the medieval city of York, this is a heartbreaking tale about a triangle of love in all its forms and a story about the bittersweet taste of life . . . and of chocolate.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Alexandra Frobisher was frustrated by her mother’s constant harping on her lack of a husband – with the war on there was a small respite as the three men who had been chosen as prospective husbands were at the front. But Alex knew she didn’t have long – she shuddered at the thought. Alex’s greatest wish was to work in the Rowntree chocolate factory in her home town of York; to learn the craft and make it her career. But 1915 was a time when young women of means didn’t work – marrying well and supplying grandchildren while supporting their husbands was what was expected. Alex desperately wanted more from her life.

When Matthew Britten-Jones entered her life with a proposal which would suit them both, Alex was tempted. A witty and delightful man, Matthew knew how to make Alex laugh; he had her parents eating out of his hands – but was it enough? Alex knew she didn’t love him, and he, though affectionate, didn’t love her either. But the solution would solve Alex’s dilemma; her future would be assured.

Captain Harry Blakeney returned from the war a changed man. He was determined to visit the Rowntree chocolate factory in York – his quest was to discover the identity of the author of a note of love he’d discovered while recovering bodies in France. The chocolate tin which had been sent to soldiers on the front in 1915 as a Christmas parcel had housed the note; in Harry’s search for the sweetheart of the lost soldier he met up with Alex and Matthew. But what would happen when their lives became bound in an inconceivable way and long buried secrets rose to the surface?

The Chocolate Tin by Aussie author Fiona McIntosh is an emotional and haunting narrative which had me reaching for tissues a few times. Blending mystery, intrigue and heartbreak with the historical romance of the times, the author’s ability to tell the story amid the depth of her research makes The Chocolate Tin an authentic and delightful read. A very highly recommended 5 star read from me.

With thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for this copy to read in exchange for my honest review.