Caravaning Company

Travel = husband, dog, 5th wheeler caravan, beautiful scenery,  wild dolphins and books:)

Augusta-2017 Garry & Bob

Bob the Dog enjoying the sites and smells of holidays.

Dolphins

Dolphins playing in the river – you had to be there to appreciate it 🙂

The Animators

The Animators – Five star reading

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – a fabulous read.

The Unfortunate Victim

The Unfortunate Victim – a great Australian historical crime fiction read.

What more could you want?

 

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!

 

 

Best Romance/Life Lit/Womens Lit/Rural Fiction of 2016

This is genre that I don’t not read a huge amount of – as readers of my blog my have gathered I am not fond of the bodice ripper style of romance – where the  passive woman must be rescued by arrogant rich and possessive “lord” or the like.  I prefer my romance to be more realistic, to have some social commentary, to have strong women and certainly not gratuitous sex scenes.

 

So it may surprise you ( it did me) that I am one of the top four reviewers of romance in the Australian Women Writers Challenge (Brenda is by far the biggest reviewer). Here are my top six romance/life lit/rural romance/women’s literature reads of 2016. All  are so different in style and narrative, all are equally as good to read and will resonate with many women’s life experiences.

 

Journey's End

Journey’s End

Jennifer Scoullar

I adore Jennifer Scoullar’s writing – she expertly  weaves contemporary issues into her narratives-  the natural environment, conservation and re -wilding among her themes ( and a little romance).

 

Other Side of the SeasonThe Other Side of the Season

Jenn J McLeod

Jenn J McLeod weaves wonderful tales that are set in regional Australia. Jenn’s latest book is complex with sensitively written contemporary issues regarding identity, family, truth and abuse of children in care, gently woven into the multi layered narrative. Jenn’s gentle approach lets readers enjoy the narrative and mysteries absorbing the issues without schoolmarmish lessons being given.

 

the-drifter

The Drifter

Anthea Hodgson

Anthea Hodgson struck gold with her first release: The Drifter.  Anthea reflects on survivors guilt in a moving, fast paced most enjoyable coming of age read that ticks all the boxes. The big questions are asked here – what makes a good life, a good death?

 

love-at-first-flight

Love at First Flight

Tess Woods

Tess Woods has written an evocative narrative that will resonate with many  –   a story of spousal love, family, wistfulness, lust, consequences and redemption.   A very contemporary story full of realistic characters and hard decisions.

Precious Things

Precious Things

Kelly Doust

Intelligent, engaging, and brilliantly observational of women’s lives and rights at various points in history; all individual stories connected by their relationship to one piece of extraordinary cloth – very well plotted and visually stunning, intelligently written – excellent. Not the light fluffy read I thought I was getting 🙂

the-rarest-thing

The Rarest Thing

Deborah O’Brien

And last but by no means least – For me the overarching theme in this narrative is one of the feminists’ struggle for equal opportunities in education, the workplace and …life and relationships in 1960’s and beyond. O’Brien exposes some heartbreaking criminal behaviour in this novel (no spoilers here)…sadly behaviours like this have not been eliminated in our so called enlightened age. A multilayered drama – with romance.

*Reflecting on my romance reads of 2016 – I surprised myself by just how many I had indeed read! Not one of the above is stylistically or thematically similar – what a great collection!

 

 

Post Script: Our Chemical Hearts – Krystal Sutherland

Today we have guest reviewer Rachel sharing her thoughts on:

our-chemical-hearts

Our Chemical Hearts

Krystal Sutherland

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

ISBN: 9780399546563

 

 

Description:

John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

 

Rachel’s View:

Our Chemical Hearts is a beautifully written, character-driven YA novel about first love and it’s heartbreaking inevitability.

26-yeard old Australian Krystal Sutherland’s debut is utterly heartbreaking yet at times incredibly uplifting. Filled with humour and pop-culture references, it’s the kind of book you stay up all night to read.

Henry Page – self-aware 17 year old, budding author and film buff, has never been in love. But that all changes when Grace Town walks into his life. But don’t for one minute think this is a story about love at first sight, or even a typical boy-meets-girl story. Grace dresses in oversized men’s clothing, looks vaguely unclean and utterly unhappy, walks with a cane and seems pretty disinterested in life, making her as far from a typical love interest as you can get. But on top of all that she is enigmatic, smart, witty, and her way with words soon has Henry hooked. Sure enough he falls in love, but through the soaring highs and deepest lows, Grace has to ask if he really is in love with her – or just the idea of her.

And this is where things become really real. Because love is complicated, life is not straight-forward, and sometimes as much as we want things to work out, they just don’t. As Henry finds out more about Grace’s past, he becomes more determined to love her, purposely ignoring the warning signs and massive ups-and-downs of the relationship because of the way it has changed his world. It’s no doubt they’re both going to be transformed by this ride and it’s inevitable, far from happily-ever-after ending.

But it’s that moment when Henry finally realises how little he actually knows about Grace – this girl he supposedly loves with every fibre of his being – that there will be many a reader shouting ‘preach’, because damn this book is relatable!

One of the things I loved most about this book were the pop-culture references – while many new authors try to avoid mentioning specific technologies, celebrities or other aspects of today’s digitally-driven world in an attempt to be ‘timeless’,  Krystal Sutherland has cemented this novel firmly in the world of today. The snippets of poetry (“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul”), movie quotes, celebrity name drops and dozens of other offhand pop cultural references pepper this book giving it a relatable, realistic edge that a lot of first novels lack.

My love for this story withstanding, it does struggle in some areas – I hated how Grace was constantly referred to as ‘broken’ because of her mental and physical illnesses and think the book would have gained a lot by sharing some of her perspective so that her history and struggles could have been more than just a plot device.

All in all, Our Chemical Hearts is fast-paced, quick-witted bittersweet story about love, loss, and how these things shape our lives. It is a darkly beautiful, honest love story that you’ll want to come back to again and again.

“Love doesn’t need to last a lifetime for it to be real. You can’t judge the quality of a love by the length of time it lasts. Everything dies, love included. Sometimes it dies with a person, sometimes it dies on its own. The greatest love story ever told doesn’t have to be about two people who spent their whole lives together. It might be about a love that lasted two weeks or two months or two years, but burned brighter and hotter and more brilliantly than any other love before or after. Don’t mourn a failed love; there is no such thing. All love is equal in the brain.”

 

Thanks Rachel

 

Post Script: I Love You, Good Night – Jon Buller, Susan Schade

i-love-you-good-night

I Love You, Good Night

Jon Buller & Susan Schade

Illustrated by Bernadette Pons

Simon and Schuster

Little Simon

ISBN: 9781442485396

 

Description:

There are so many ways to say I love you—discover them all in this oversize edition of a bedtime favourite.

 

I love you like I love blueberry pancakes!

I love you like I love strawberry milk shakes!

I love you like frogs love flies!

I love you like pigs love pies!

 

In this sweet and simple board book, a mother mouse tells her wee one just how much she loves her…in twelve different ways! Some ways are silly, some are heartfelt, but all of them evoke unconditional affection. This oversize edition of a classic story is ideal for bedtime or naptime.

 

My View:

Gorgeous! Perfect for this grandmama to read to her grandson!

I just love everything about this book – the images are simple, cute and colourful, the sentiment is divine and it is cardboard book – our favourite type of book.  I love reading this to my grandson – sometimes silly, always fun, happy rhyming prose – great aid for language development and a wonderful way to tell your child you love them each day (probably more like several times a day – this book is sure to become a favourite) . Parent, grandparent, aunty or the like…this book is for you.

 

Post Script: A Beautiful Young Wife – Tommy Wieringa

A Beautiful Young Wife

A Beautiful Young Wife

Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321180

 

 

Description:

‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’

 

Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.

 

After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.

 

 

My View:

This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….

 

On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.

 

The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.

 

Post Script: The Beauty Of The End – Debbie Howells

The Beauty of the End

The Beauty of the End

Debbie Howells

Kensington Press

ISBN: 9781496705983

 

Description:

From the acclaimed author of The Bones of You comes a haunting and heartbreaking new psychological thriller about a man thrust into the middle of a murder investigation, forced to confront the secrets of his ex-lover’s past.

 

“I was fourteen when I fell in love with a goddess. . .”

 

So begins the testimony of Noah Calaway, an ex-lawyer with a sideline in armchair criminal psychology. Now living an aimless life in an inherited cottage in the English countryside, Noah is haunted by the memory of the beguiling young woman who left him at the altar sixteen years earlier. Then one day he receives a troubling phone call. April, the woman he once loved, lies in a coma, the victim of an apparent overdose–and the lead suspect in a brutal murder. Deep in his bones, Noah believes that April is innocent. Then again, he also believed they would spend the rest of their lives together.

 

While Noah searches for evidence that will clear April’s name, a teenager named Ella begins to sift through the secrets of her own painful family history. The same age as April was when Noah first met her, Ella harbors a revelation that could be the key to solving the murder. As the two stories converge, there are shocking consequences when at last, the truth emerges.

 

Or so everyone believes. . .

 

Set in a borderland where the past casts its shadow on the present, with a time-shifting narrative that will mesmerize and surprise, The Beauty of the End is both a masterpiece of suspense and a powerful rumination on lost love.

 

 

My View:

This is a book that successfully merges many genres- romance, contemporary fiction, crime fiction and thriller.

 

The early chapters succinctly capture the dizziness, the neediness, the all-consuming power of adolescent first love; and beautifully captured it is. The emotions and the passion, the hopefulness, the desire for that love to be recognised, to be loved back with equal passion… this author has successfully taken me back to being a teenager, such profound prose, emotions exposed.

 

This narrative is complex, it is more than a love story, though that element has as much presence as the characters themselves, love is influential and ambitious, making its power felt as the story develops. Complex, twisted and surprising…a story of abuse, hope, manipulation and more love…and abuse of power and position.

 

Willingly we follow the crumbs that lead us deeper into the woods – the path back muddy and confusing. The unreliable narrator serves his purpose well – only the last pages will reveal the truth and provide justice.

 

A great read.