Post Script: The Cowgirl – Anthea Hodgson

The Cowgirl

The Cowgirl

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Random House

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143797265

 

Description:

Teddy Broderick has lived on her farm almost all her life, committed to the rhythms of the country – seeding, harvest, shearing and the twice daily milking of the cow her grandmother has looked after for years, but she dreams of another life, in the wide world away from the confines of her property.

 

She thinks she knows her home and its community inside out, until her grandmother Deirdre announces there is a house buried on the property, and Will Hastings, an archaeologist, is coming to dig it up again.

 

As they work together to expose Deirdre’s past to the light, the stories they tell bring them together and pull Teddy further away from her home.

 

But what is hidden in Deirdre’s childhood house that she needs to see again before she dies – and why? What is it that stops Teddy from living the life she truly wants? And will she ever find her freedom?

 

 

My View:

A uniquely rural Australian coming of age story that tips it hat at the #MeToo movement.

 

Anthea Hodgson writes empathetic characters that challenge societal pressures to confirm and be controlled. Sometimes there are small victories, though the scars form the many skirmishes take a long time to heal.  Ultimately this is an uplifting book that will bring a tear, all be it a happy tear, to your eye.

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Post Script: Path to the Night Sea – Alicia Gilmore

Path to the Sea

Path to the Night Sea

Alicia Gilmore

Regal House Publishing LLC

ISBN: 9780998839844

 

Description:

What happens while we choose not to see? When we ignore the paper on the windows, the absence of a child, the menace of a neighbour? What happens behind the locked doors, in the overgrown yard, during the passing of the years? What happens in the silence, in the seclusion, in the darkness and the night? What happened to Ellie?

 

 

My View:

What a read! Alicia Gilmore is a writer to watch out for, I cannot wait to see what inspires her next novel.

 

This book has:

√  Drama and is a dark, brooding and poignant narrative.

√ Perfect pacing, you will devour this in one sitting.

√ The dialogue is authentic and chilling. The voices/the characters pitch perfect.

√ The locations leap off the page.

√ The protagonist’ situation will break your heart, yet there is no melodrama here. This work of fiction screams to me – this could happen, this has happened and recent new feeds sadly support my theory.

√ The writing is extraordinarily good – and this is a debut novel? WOW!

√ An element of optimism; tragic yet the light shines in.

 

Alicia Gilmore I congratulate you! And look forward to your next book.

 

Happy book publishing day.

Guest Review – Wolfsangel – Liza Perrat

 

Wolfsangel

Wolfsangel

Liza Perrat

Perrat Publishing

ISBN: 9782954168128

Description:

Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.

  1. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.

When her loved ones are deported to concentration camps, Céleste is drawn into the vortex of this monumental conflict, and the adventure and danger of French Resistance collaboration.

As she confronts the harrowing truths of the Second World War’s darkest years, Céleste is forced to choose: pursue her love for the German officer, or answer General de Gaulle’s call to fight for France.

Her fate suspended on the fraying thread of her will, Celeste gains strength from the angel talisman bequeathed to her through her lineage of healer kinswomen. But the decision she makes will shadow the remainder of her days.

A woman’s unforgettable journey to help liberate Occupied France, Wolfsangel is a stirring portrayal of the courage and resilience of the human mind, body and spirit.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The happiness that Céleste Roussel had taken for granted with her family on their farm had disappeared with the occupation of their small village of Lucie-sur-Vionne by German soldiers. Her father had been taken to a labour camp early in the occupation, so running the farm was left to Céleste, her mother and brother Patrick. He and his best friend Olivier quickly became part of the French Resistance, doing all they could to drive the Boche from their lives.

Céleste soon took the eye of a certain German officer, and found her feelings reciprocated. She knew it was wrong – the hatred felt toward the Boche was in them all. Her determination to assist the Resistance saw her embark on dangerous missions; all the while keeping her secret life hidden from all but a few. But the arrest and deportation of family members was the beginning of the end. Would the angel talisman which had been with generations of her family’s women, and now belonged to Céleste keep her safe? Would she ever see her family again?

Wolfsangel by Aussie author Liza Perrat is absolutely outstanding! The second in the Bone Angel series, nevertheless it can be read as a standalone. The Author’s Note at the end of the book was extremely interesting and shows, though it is complete fiction, Wolfsangel is based on a factual event which occurred on 10th June 1944. I didn’t think I could hear of more shocking atrocities committed by the Germans in WWII, but it seems I now have! Brilliantly written, and highly recommended. A 5 star read which will be in my top reads for 2018.

Guest Review: Forgotten – Nicole Trope

Forgotten

Forgotten

Nicole Trope

Allen & Unwin AU

ISBN: 9781760296773

 

Description:

A gripping domestic noir thriller from the author of Blame

In a single day, a simple mistake will have life-altering consequences for everyone involved.

A moment of distraction, an unlocked car and a missing baby. How on earth could this happen?

All Malia needed was a single litre of milk and now she’s surrounded by police and Zach has disappeared.

Detective Ali Greenberg knows that this is not the best case for her, not with her history – but she of all people knows what Malia is going through and what is at stake.

Edna is worried about the new residents at the boarding house. She knows Mary would turn in her grave if she knew the kinds of people her son was letting in.

And then there is someone else. Someone whose heart is broken. Someone who feels she has been unfairly punished for her mistakes. Someone who wants what she can’t have.

What follows is a heart-stopping game of cat-and-mouse and a race against the clock. As the hours pass and the day heats up, all hope begins to fade.

A gripping, haunting family drama shot through with emotion and suspense.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Malia was completely stressed but trying not to show it – Aaron, her five year old son was demanding milk with his cereal, but they didn’t have any. Her three year old daughter, Rhiannon was echoing her brother. Finally in despair she bundled the children – five month old Zach still sleeping –into her car for the quick trip to the service station for the litre of milk. She was going to be late to work, the kids to childcare and school – but what could she do? And when she arrived, Zach was still sleeping; she knew she’d be quick – that decision was to change everything…

Detective Ali Greenberg had only been back at work a month, but she wanted this case. She and her partner Mike were at the service station, along with what seemed like every police team in Sydney. A missing child, especially a baby, tugged on the heartstrings of everyone and brought the police out in full force every time. Ali and Mike needed to move the investigation forward quickly – the weather was scorching; Zach had to be found soon.

With Malia’s parents rushing from Melbourne to be by her side, and everyone trying to help find Zach, Malia wondered if she’d ever feel “normal” again. She was desperately missing her little boy – he was overdue for a feed; was he hungry and thirsty? Was he crying for her? Would someone please just FIND HIM!

Forgotten by Aussie author Nicole Trope is an explosive, fast-paced and emotional race against time. The suspense is breathtaking, the narration is extremely well done – I needed to race through the pages to find out what happened. The author has written another dramatic psychological thriller which shows how one small mistake can have devastating consequences. I loved Hush, Little Bird and Forgotten is up there with it. Another 5 star read which I highly recommend.

 

 

Post Script – Thornwood House – Anna Romer

Mystery, ghosts, sins of the past…this book has it all.

Thornwood House, Anna Romer

Thornwood House

Anna Romer

Simon & Schuster (Australia) Pty Ltd

A CBS Company

ISBN: 9781922052384

 

Description:

When Audrey Kepler inherits an abandoned homestead in rural Queensland she jumps at the chance to escape her loveless existence in the city and make a fresh start.

In a dim back room of the old house she discovers the crumbling photo of a handsome World War II soldier – Samuel Riordan, the homestead’s former occupant – and soon finds herself becoming obsessed with him.

But as Samuel’s story unravels, Audrey discovers that he was accused of bashing to death a young Aboriginal woman upon his return from war in 1944. When she learns that other unexplained deaths have occurred in recent years – one of them a young woman with injuries echoing those of the 1944 victim – she begins to suspect that the killer is still very much alive.

And now Audrey – thanks to her obsessive need to uncover the past – has provided him with good reason to want to kill again.

My View:

What a fantastic debut novel – this is a great hybrid narrative – a little Gothic, a little Australiana, a little Picnic at Hanging Rock, a little mystery, murder and a little bit of history and then a slice of romance on the side. I loved the story; I loved the use of letters, diaries and old newspaper stories to help tell events of the past.

The writing is superb, there are descriptions in the novel that made my senses come alive; the description of Danny’s handmade chocolates (p 174) “…  I had only meant to pop it in, chew it and quickly swallow, just to be polite. Bu the moment the chocolate touched my tongue I felt my spine unravel, and if my mouth hadn’t been full I’d have uttered a sigh of sheer joy. The chocolate was fine and creamy, vaguely bitter, smooth and as yielding as honey. Then I bit down… it was the singular, most bracing pleasure I’d had in…”  I want to try those chocolates! I craved chocolate liqueurs whilst reading this passage.

Then there was the description of Danny ‘writing’ on Audrey’s hand by the rose arbour- sensual and wicked and delightful.

The sensual elements in this writing are subdued and elegantly written; the mystical occasional wafting of old roses where there should be none is effective in conjuring up the past, the descriptions of the Australian bush captures its uniqueness. The ghostly apparitions are real and scary; the violence of the past imbues the present.  The house holds many secrets and slowly as they are unlocked, the danger increases.

This is a great read. The beautiful language and descriptions will hold you spellbound. The mystery will enthral you and the romance will inspire. The violence and past atrocities will make you cringe in fear for those in the present. This is an impressive novel.

Post Script: Cold Grave – Kathryn Fox

Cold Grave by Kathryn Fox

Kathryn Fox

Cold Grave

Macmillan

Pan Macmillian Aust Pty Ltd

ISBN: 9781742610344

 

Description:

It feels like the safest place on earth. A family-friendly, floating palace. But, as Anya Crichton soon discovers, cruise ships aren’t all that they seem…Statistics tell us that a woman is twice as likely to be sexually assaulted on a cruise ship than on dry land. Customers aren’t screened, so the ships are a haven for sex offenders and paedophiles. With no policing, and floating in international waters, sexual assaults and passengers ‘disappearing’ are uncommonly frequent…So when a teenage girl is discovered, dead on the deck of the ship that she is holidaying on, Anya feels compelled to get involved. There’s no apparent cause of death, but Anya’s forensics expertise uncovers more than the ship’s doctors can…or want to. With the killer still on board, and subsequently a crew-member found shot, it becomes clear that the safe haven of the cruise-ship is actually anything but. And, as Anya comes under increasing pressure to abandon her investigations, will she continue? Or do whatever it takes to keep her own family safe?

  

My View:

I have read the entire Dr Anya Crichton series and feel that this is perhaps the weakest. Whilst the main characters are likable and a known entity that I feel comfortable with, the narrative for me felt a little preachy – and I think this spoilt rather than enhanced the story. I felt we were lectured on a range of issues including but not limited to exploitation of labourers from third world countries, cruise ship ecological damage/pollution, excesses of wealth – in the form of over indulgence in food, alcohol, use of drugs, gambling, and overt the top discretionary spending. Then we explore the issue of recreational drug use, and date rape.   I think the lectures were a little heavy handed; the messages could have been delivered in a more subtle manner that did not detract from the narrative. There was little tension in the narrative, maybe because of the emphasis on “lessons”. All in all an average read, suitable for a light holiday indulgence for the fans of this author. I wish I could have liked this more.

Blog Tour: Poisoned Waters – Ermisenda Alvarez

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About Ermisenda Alvarez:

Along with numerous solo works, Ermisenda began writing on role play sites at fourteen and completed her first crime novel at fifteen. Driven by the desire to evoke the kaleidoscope of emotions her favorite authors are able to, she kept writing. Growing up bilingual amongst her Spanish family in Australia, she found a love and deep appreciation for language and the power it wielded.

Now she’s working on a joint project with coauthor Eliabeth Hawthorne. Ermisenda has written Leocardo’s perspective of Blind Sight #1, the first book in an urban fantasy series that changes depending on whose perspective you’re reading. So the question is, “whose eyes will you read through?”

Description:

Bloody mistakes, ugly scars, and beautiful lies. A tale of corruption.

Helen Gardener is murdered on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The Diamond Royale sails from Southampton to New York with her murderer aboard. Set in the 1950s, Poisoned Waters follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by her death. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.

Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer?

My View:
It is not doubt that Ermisenda Alvarez is a passionate writer – the lush descriptions in her work Poisoned Waters  attest to this fact. The premise of a murder on board a cruise ship, locked down, isolated…the killer among them, provides a great story line however I did not feel that the required level of  tension was achieved to fully realise the potential of this narrative.  I think this novel admirably reflects the attitudes towards women at the time –  women as possessions,  as adornments,  with no rights, the receivers of silent, unnoticed domestic abuse… totally dependent on men to meet their needs.

I think that Ms Alvarez shows her potential as an upcoming writer in this book,  however this book was a little too busy and the characters hostile and unpleasant for my liking and thus I did not really connect with or care for any of the characters.  Some beautifully written passages, elements of visual excellence and a plot that has  all the elements for a great mystery. This is a writer who will blossom with expert guidance.