Review: Clean – Juno Dawson

Clean by Juno Dawson cover art

Clean

Juno Dawson

Hachette Children’s Books

Quercus

ISBN: 9781786540362

 

Description:

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter … it’s liquid gold.

 

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she’s hit rock bottom.

 

She’s wrong. Rock bottom is when she’s forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

 

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

 

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all…

 

It’s a dirty business getting clean…

 

 

My View:

The perfect read for YA and adult readers; issues that connect and resonate, flawed characters with redeeming features, a narrative that illuminates many contemporary social and mental health issues that you do not need to live a life of excess to appreciate.

 

And I should add – THE BEST cover art this year! I love the rose gold shimmer…the hypodermic needle punctuating the cover, leaving a drop of red blood. Such a great image. And a wonderful tactile experience holding this glossy, liquid gold book in your hand.

 

This is engaging reading taking you on a journey I hope you never need to experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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Post Script: And Fire Came Down – Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down

And Fire Came Down

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

Bonnier

ISBN: 9781760402945

 

Description:

Deaf since early childhood, Caleb Zelic is used to meeting life head-on. Now, he’s struggling just to get through the day. His best mate is dead, his ex-wife, Kat, is avoiding him, and nightmares haunt his waking hours.

 

But when a young woman is killed, after pleading for his help in sign language, Caleb is determined to find out who she was. The trail leads Caleb back to his hometown, Resurrection Bay. The town is on bushfire alert, and simmering with racial tensions. As Caleb delves deeper, he uncovers secrets that could ruin any chance of reuniting with Kat, and even threaten his life. Driven by his own demons, he pushes on. But who is he willing to sacrifice along the way?

 

‘I love the world that Emma Viskic has created, in all its complexity and in all its truth’ – Christos Tsiolkas

 

‘Emma Viskic is a terrific, gutsy writer with great insight into the murkiness of both criminal and heroic motivations’ – Emily Maguire

 

The second Caleb Zelic thriller from the author of Resurrection Bay – Winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, and Davitt Awards for Best Novel, Best Debut and Reader’s Choice.

 

 

My View:

The continuing narrative of the chaotic life of Caleb Zelic, private investigator, is filled with suspense, mystery, anger, social commentary wit, humour and many exquisite moments. This is a portrait of a fractured love, a fractured life with many references to Picasso’s Guernica; violence, chaos, war, flames…the suffering of innocents.

 

The writing is evocative and fast paced. Themes of family, drug reliance, race and identity intersect and explode in small town contemporary Australia. This narrative is fraught with regrets and what ifs, there are many stories left unfinished, many moments of heartache and pain yet there is a glimpse of potential, of a brighter future, of redemption (for some)…book three will be amazing!

 

“Not together, not apart, still caught between breaths.” P.151 Exquisite and powerful writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Student – Iain Ryan

It must be the great writing!  

The Student

The Student

Iain Ryan

Bonnier Publishing Australia

Echo

ISBN: 9781760406370

 

Description:

Do bad people look like good people, like friends and brothers and boyfriends and students, until they have their hands around your throat?

 

Gatton, Queensland. 1994. Nate is a student, dealing weed on the side. A girl called Maya Kibby is dead. No one knows who killed her. Nate needs to refresh his supply, but Jesse, his friend and dealer, is missing. Nate is high. He is alone. Being hunted for the suitcase he’s found and haunted by its contents. And as things turn from bad to worse, Nate uncovers far more than he bargained for.

 

The Student is high-paced, hardboiled regional noir: fresh, gritty, unnerving, with a stark and lonely beauty.

 

‘A terrific neo-noir from an exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction’ – Adrian McKinty

 

‘The Student takes the campus novel and mines within it a dark seam of violence, deception and suspense in prose that burns with a fierce propulsion’ – David Whish-Wilson

 

 

Description:

It must be the great writing!  

 

My expectations of this book were not met. I did not like any of the characters – not one. I did not like the settings or the behaviours;   so much impulsive, self-gratifying, drug fuelled behaviour – and when I say drug fuelled, read that as over the top liberal drug use (and I do hope this is not a realistic portraying of University life in the 1990’s) and did I say drug use and then there was the sex scenes and the violence – sometimes simultaneously … this is a very dark, gritty narrative and not for me, and I usually love dark and gritty. Yet contrarily there was something about this writing that kept me turning pages!

 

Am I in the wrong demographic for reading this – maybe, probably? Yet I still turned the pages – it was a compulsive and compelling read. Hats off to the author for such engaging writing. This is irresistible dark prose.

 

 

 

The Student

Post Script: Fatal Mistake – Karen M Davis

Fatal Mistake

Fatal Mistake

Lexie Rogers #3

Karen M. Davis

Simon& Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925368321

 

Description:

Detective Lexie Rogers is tough, smart and at the top of her game. She’s seen it all, from bikies, blood and betrayal to drugs, deviants and deception … and the violent knife attack that almost killed her as a young cop on the beat.

 

Lexie’s sent on the job of a lifetime — to go deep undercover, as beautiful Lara Wild, a drug distributor, to expose a huge dealing ring among Sydney’s most treacherous criminals. What she discovers is that being undercover is the safest place to be, especially when you’re a cop with target on your head, but one false move means she’ll die. And creeping from the shadows is the darkness of her past, something she can never outrun.

 

Lexie knows she can’t trust anyone — but the trouble is, she’s not even sure if she can trust herself.

 

 

My View:

Karen M Davis writes with authenticity that only an ex police officer and undercover agent could! “Karen Davis was a New South Wales police officer for twenty years. Starting her career on the streets of Newtown, she then moved on to work as a detective and undercover operative in a variety of sections, all of which specialised in the investigation of organised crime.” https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082717.Karen_M_Davis

 

Instalment three in the Lexie Rogers series is exciting, fast paced and so so readable! The settings are vivid – I can picture the nightclubs, the bouncers, the crooks and Lexie and her dyed hair and coloured contacts. The main characters are familiar and feel like old friends and I enjoyed the thread that wove police corruption into the mix – and what a mix – there is so much happening in the novel.

 

This is a read in one sitting kind of book. Book out your diary and sit back and enjoy – there are some lovely plot resolutions in this instalment. I wonder what’s next for Lexie?

 

 

Post Script: Face Value – A Wright & Tran Novel – Ian Andrew

face-valueFace Value

A Wright & Tran Novel

Ian Andrew

ISBN: 9780992464127

 

Description:

Kara Wright and Tien Tran, former members of an elite intelligence gathering team active in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places still classified, now make their living through Wright & Tran, a PI service that tracks errant spouses, identifies dishonest employees and, just occasionally, takes on more significant cases that allow them to use all their skills.

 

When siblings Zoe and Michael Sterling insist that their middle-aged parents have gone missing, Kara and Tien are at first sceptical and then quickly intrigued; the father, ex-intelligence analyst Chris Sterling, appears to be involved with an enigmatic Russian thug.

 

Using less than orthodox methods and the services of ex-colleagues with highly specialised talents, Wright & Tran take on the case. But the truth they uncover is far from simple and will shake Zoe and Michael as much as it will challenge Tien and anger Kara – anger she can ill afford for she is being hunted by others for the killing of a street predator who chose the wrong prey.

 

The only constant in this darkening world is that nothing and no one can be taken at face value.

 

My View:

Australian authors are awesome!

 

What a fantastic discovery!  This book easily scores a place in my “Top Reads of 2016”! Fast paced, action packed, explosive, compulsive writing and with not one but two particularly interesting and empathetic female protagonists!

 

The introduction provides a very tasty and appetising bait – you won’t feel that hook until it is too late and it is after midnight and you are reading “just one more page”… until you have finished! You can catch up on sleep another night.

 

It wasn’t the prettiest place to die. But then again, where is? She was taking a short cut through unfamiliar territory. He was running an illegal errand on ground he called his own. Neither would have wanted the street with its vandalised lights and graffiti-covered hoardings, to be their final view of life. But we don’t often get what we want.”   (p.1)

 

Bad things are going to happen, you can feel it, sense it, taste it. But you might just get a surprise or two here. And then there is the rest of the narrative! I was thoroughly hooked, engaged, enthralled.

 

I cannot wait to read the second in this series “Flight Path.” Thanks Ian Andrew for a consuming read!

 

 

Post Script: The Windy Season – Sam Carmody

“There are things out there worse than sharks.”

the-windy-season

The Windy Season

 Sam Carmody

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760111564

 

Description:

A young fisherman is missing from the crayfish boats in the harsh West Australian coastal town of Stark. There’s no trace at all of Elliot, there hasn’t been for some weeks and Paul, his younger brother, is the only one who seems to be active in the search. Taking Elliot’s place on their antagonistic cousin’s boat, Paul soon learns how many opportunities there are to get lost in those many thousands of kilometres of lonely coastline.

 

Fierce, evocative and memorable, this is an Australian story set within an often wild and unforgiving sea, where mysterious influences are brought to bear on the inhospitable town and its residents.

 

 

My View:

“There are things out there worse than sharks.”

 

This book had a charm and appeal that slowly slowly makes a space for itself in your head and your heart.  Is it the familiar countryside, the mystery, the characterisations, the seductive narrative that weaves subtle tentacles around you insisting you read more and more?

I think it is combination of all the above plus a level of honesty and transparency of writing that has an appeal all of its own.

 

Mystery and coming of age narrative, a great combination; I celebrated the point where Paul realised his parents were people too – that they had personalities, flaws, emotions, lives… responsibilities…not just to their children.

 

A great debut, I only had one niggling problem – and that was about how the dialogue was presented on the page – the lack of speech/quotation marks to identify a conversation often had me re reading paragraphs to make sense of things. Speech was identified by the use of “said”; Jules said, Michael said, Paul said… too many “saids” for me. Maybe I am old fashioned, used to a certain style of grammar- this method I found distracting.

 

PS I liked that how this book shone a spotlight on the current social/health issue – ice/meth drug use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Peppercorn Project – Nicki Edwards

The Peppercorn Project

The Peppercorn Project

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan Australia

Momentum

ISBN: 9781760302306

 

 

Description:

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

 

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family’s best chance at a fresh start.

 

 

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he’s found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

 

 

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won’t rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

 

 

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

 

 

A gorgeous rural romance for fans of Fiona McArthur, Rachael Johns and Fiona McCallum.

 

 

My View:

Sited in a rural Australian town, I loved the attitude of “paying it forward” with an opportunity for four families to get a second chance to improve their current lifestyle and circumstances and at the same time instil some lifesaving “new blood” into a rural community, there is plenty of scope for action and personal drama here. This the perfect “pick me up” read; when you need something optimistic, positive, charming and with an obligatory happy ending (and one of the most delicious male love interests around), you will not be disappointed in this read.

 

Take note- this is not a book of purely froth and bubble. Nicki Edwards tackles many contemporary social issues within these pages: diminishing populations of small towns and the repercussions for the community – in particular the depletion of services, the process of grief and healing, drug dealing (and in particular the infiltration of “Ice” into communities big and small)…and the importance of “second chances.”

 

An enjoyable contemporary Australian rural read!