Post Script: Agatha and the Dark – Anna Pignataro

Agatha and the Dark

Agatha and the Dark

Anna Pignataro

The Five Mile Press

ISBN: 9781760402075

 

Description:

Agatha is scared of the dark, and George is just making things worse.

When Agatha is accidently locked in a dark room at kindergarten, her body trembles like jelly.

How will she ever sleep in her own bed tonight?

A story about learning to face your fears.

 

My View:

This is an adorable book, beautifully illustrated with a message/lesson for all written between the covers.

Fear- of the dark – seems to be a universal challenge that most young children face at some point in their lives, in this narrative Agatha learns to face her fears by turning her fearful thoughts into a positive experience – Agatha is encouraged to draw something from her imagination… (No spoilers here) J  This is a very creative and positive way to tackle young children’s fears, a great example for parents and caregivers to have in their toolbox of parenting tricks.  And the illustrations are gorgeous!

Add this book to your birthday treat buying list.

The Queen of Quirky is Back! Crimson Lake – Candice Fox

Crimson Lake

Candice Fox

Penguin Books Australia

Bantam

ISBN: 9780143781905

 

Description:

From the award-winning author of Hades and Eden comes an ingenious and edgy suspense novel that will keep you guessing to the very last page . . .

 

12.46: Thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley stands alone at a bus stop

12.47: Ted Conkaffey parks his car beside her

12.52: The girl is missing . . .

 

Six minutes – that’s all it took to ruin Detective Ted Conkaffey’s life. Accused but not convicted of Claire’s abduction, he escapes north, to the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake.

 

Amanda Pharrell knows what it’s like to be public enemy number one. Maybe it’s her murderous past that makes her so good as a private investigator, tracking lost souls in the wilderness. Her latest target, missing author Jake Scully, has a life more shrouded in secrets than her own – so she enlists help from the one person in town more hated than she is: Ted.

 

But the residents of Crimson Lake are watching the pair’s every move. And for Ted, a man already at breaking point, this town is offering no place to hide . . .

 

 

My View:

The queen of quirky is back!

Candice Fox Margaret River Event 2017

Candice Fox – Margaret River Meet the Author event 2017

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Candice Fox as part of her extended Western Australian book tour. What a great night it was – Candice was open, honest and often hilarious, talking about everything that mattered to her – her childhood, family, marriage, divorce, second marriage, her childhood ambition to become a writer, her writing inspirations, the inspiration she draws from reading true crime novels (which was very evident to me as I read Crimson Lake) and her very successful writing collaboration with James Patterson.  What a night! What a life!

 

If you ever have an opportunity to meet an author/hear them speak about their work, take advantage of the opportunity – as a reader you learn so much more about the characters and how they came to life on the page, how they formed in the mind of the author. At the time I attend this event I was about 75% into Candice’s latest book Crimson Lake, and I noticed so many references that reflected places or people Candice had known, events in her life etc. and I discovered this Crimson Lake has been optioned for Television and there will be a second book in this new series. The TV option did not really surprise me – just the speed in which it occurred (as I was reading the first thing I thought was – this would make a great movie.)

 

This would make a great movie, why? Quirky, colourful, empathetic characters to start. Small town, semi-rural Queensland locations – with small town minds, dramas and… crocodiles – always good elements to ratchet up the creepiness and fear levels.  And themes – child abuse, missing persons, and famous authors, the questionable good cop or bad cop, did he do it? Did she do it? And the big question, why? The list goes on.

 

This book has a lot to offer (though I did think the start was just a little slow for my taste) but persevere and you will find an amazing read. Read it now before you see the film.

 

 

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!

 

 

 

Guest Review: Bay Of Shadows – Samantha Wood

Brenda is very impressed with this debut novel.

the-bay-of-shadows

The Bay of Shadows

Samantha Wood

Smashwords/Amazon

ISBN: 9780995442108/ASIN: B01NCI60OZ

 

Description:

How far would you go for love?

In a rambling house in a small Australian beach town, Elena Jameson is recovering from her recent divorce. To her delight, she is given the opportunity to foster a little boy, Daniel, whose mother is dead and whose violent father is in rehab. As Elena and Daniel explore the beautiful bay and wild bushland, they form a profound bond that will change their lives forever.

Then Daniel’s father discovers his whereabouts and begins a campaign of terror – not to get his son back, but to prevent Elena giving Daniel a new life.

As the violence escalates, Elena finds that she’s willing to do whatever it takes to protect Daniel from the brutality of his past and an uncertain future. Sometimes the only way to get what you want is to pay the price in blood.

A gothic tale of love and loss, bravery and hope.

 

Brenda’s Review:

When Elena Jameson was granted the opportunity to foster six year old Tyson, she was thrilled. Her recent divorce had left her fragile – caring for this little boy would be therapy for them both. Learning that the name Tyson made the boy shudder with apprehension, Elena started calling him Daniel – his second name – which suited them both. Daniel had lost his mother to death and his father was a cruel, vindictive and abusive man, currently locked away. Elena chose not to think about the future and what would happen when he was released…

Living a quiet and secluded life in the small bay not far from Melbourne in Victoria, just Daniel, Rafi (their little dog) and Elena, she knew this was the life she wanted. Daniel was a different child, and Elena loved him in the devoted manner of any mother anywhere. Daniel was doing well at school – they explored the beautiful surrounding bush in their leisure time; and soccer brought Daniel joy. But with a terrifying suddenness, everything changed. Violence erupted around Elena and Daniel – the danger was crippling. What would Elena do? She knew she needed to do everything in her power to keep her son safe; but what…?

The Bay of Shadows is the debut novel by Aussie author Samantha Wood and in my opinion it’s exceptional! A gripping and intense plot with a fast pace and riveting emotions – The Bay of Shadows has everything I love in a psychological thriller (even a touch of the Dreamtime). I have no hesitation in recommending this novel highly, and will be eagerly watching for this author’s next book 🙂  I also love the cover! 5 stars!

 

 

Samantha Wood:

Samantha Wood is a fiction author drawn to mysteries, stories of the Dreamtime, and magic realism. Her first book, Culua: My Other Life in Mexico, was a love letter to Mexico, her mother’s country. The Bay of Shadows is her first novel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.