Post Script: What She Never Told Me – Kate McQuaile

What My Mother Never Told Me

What She Never Told Me

Kate McQuaile

Hachette Australia

Quercus

ISBN: 9781784296711

 

Description:

What do you do when you find out that your whole life could be a lie?

 

‘I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green post box and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that small hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?’

 

Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise’s last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.

 

Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the pieces of her daughter’s fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she’s been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.

 

 

My View:

This was a very intense mystery that speaks to the themes of motherhood, family, memory, loss and grief.

So many secrets and lies… so much sadness. The author slowly reveals clues or bits of information or red herrings that have you plotting and planning and trying to solve the mystery, I doubt that you will or at least not till the very end.

 

The author has excelled in drawing the reader into the world of her characters. The opening pages are full of mystery and the images in these pages repeat themselves throughout the novel building the anticipation and expectation of a resolution of the mystery.

 

As you read you will find yourself sighing with sadness at the many disappointments, revelations and lies that fill these lives and pages. Life has thrown many challenges in the path of the main characters, good choices have not always been made, and lives can be changed in an instant.

 

 

You are transported back into the time and places (Ireland 1960’s) when religion and fear dictated women’s choices regarding their sexuality and fertility. The settings, the social structure of society are clear and visual, the characters and their relationships are realistic but always there is a hint of the unreliable narrator that throws questions and misdirection’s in your path.

 

A heartbreaking but enjoyable family drama and mystery. A great debut novel.

 

Post Script- The Darkest Secret – Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret

The Darkest Secret

Alex Marwood

Hachette Australia

Sphere

Little Brown Book Group

ISBN: 9780751550702

 

Description:

Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable ‘ripped from headlines’ read from Alex Marwood, author of the huge word-of-mouth bestseller, The Wicked Girls.

 

When three-year-old identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

 

But what really happened to Coco during her father’s 50th birthday weekend?

 

Set across two weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second, at the funeral of Coco’s father, where at last, the darkest of secrets will be revealed…

 

 

My View:

For me the scene setting and character development took just a little too long. However it did set the scene extraordinarily well – a life of pretentious self-absorption, a “look at me” “look at me” generation (and I am not talking gen Y!) full of unlikeable characters and over the top behaviours. There was not a lot to like here and a lot to loathe.

 

Suddenly all that changed! I was engrossed in the narrative – the cold and calculating behaviours, the self-absorption, the lies and the turmoil, the obvious effect that this self-indulgent lifestyle had on the younger members of this cast and the shocking tug at your heart strings disappearance of a child.

Later Camila/Mila, with the maturity/responsibilities that a death of a parent forces upon her somehow morphs into a somewhat more likeable character, Ruby her half-sister is unblemished by her birth rites, other than that the vast cast of characters are totally unlikable and unfortunately somewhat realistic. Somehow you find yourself absorbed in this read about ugly people with very ugly behaviours and the mystery regarding the disappearance of baby Coco.

 

The author leaves subtle clues (or maybe my intuition is just spot on) but I guessed the demise of baby Coco and the orchestrator and the reasoning behind the act and where we could find Coco. (No spoilers here). But the final chapter left me gutted! We are not given a neat and tidy happy ending or cause for too much optimism – and in the final chapter we are dumbstruck by yet another lie that leaves the reader gasping!

 

Powerful, dark yet utterly compelling.

 

 

 

**Robert Gott – you will find Charlie Clutterbuck an interesting character J

Post Script: Slade House – David Mitchell

Cover Slade House

Slade House

David Mitchell

Hachette Australia

Sceptre

ISBN: 9781473616684

 

Description:

Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

 

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late…

 

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barrelling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story—as only David Mitchell could imagine it.

 

My View:

First my dilemma – how to classify this intriguing little book? Horror is maybe too strong a word for this – or maybe I am just desensitised to the horror here by my other readings, paranormal – yes an element of ghostly other world here definitely, science fiction – a little maybe – there is the extra “dimension” in the narrative but not set in the future, fantasy – again a little of this here too….perhaps speculative fiction is the best fit? I like this definition by http://www.greententacles.com/articles/5/26/ :“Speculative fiction is a term, attributed to Robert Heinlein in 1941, that has come to be used to collectively describe works in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror…Speculative fiction is also more than the collective title for works of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. The term also embraces works that don’t fit neatly into the separate genres. Tarzan. Television’s Early Edition. Stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Tales that span the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. Stranger in a Strange Land. The Twilight Zone. Stories by Edgar Allen Poe. Tales that have been labelled simply as ‘weird’ or ‘adventure’ or ‘amazing’ because there was no proper place to put them. Stories on the fringe.

 

When you’ve come across a story or movie or game that both is and isn’t science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror, then you’ve discovered speculative fiction.” [Emphasis added by author – me 🙂 )

 

Slade House is a work of intriguing speculative fiction – a narrative that evokes fear, tribulation and concern. As you read you just know something is not right, that the main characters should not enter that building, should leave quickly, and shouldn’t be so trusting… that something bad is going to happen… and of course it does! David Mitchell manipulates his characters beautifully, exposes their weaknesses and egos and hopes and then… tramples on them. Intriguing and enjoyable reading with a couple of delicious twists but for me the ending was just not powerful enough, did not make me gasp or fret or deliver the punch I was expecting. Yet still enjoyable – a book I will recommend and has made me add David Mitchell’s previous book The Bone Clocks to my wish list.

 

 

 

Post Script: Please Don’t Leave Me Here – Tania Chandler

Please Dont Leave Me Here Tania Chandler Cover

Please Don’t Leave Me Here

Tania Chandler

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925106770

 

Description:

A riveting psychological thriller.

 

Kurt Cobain stands at the top of the stairs, wearing the brown sweater. ‘Please don’t leave me,’ she yells up at him. But it’s too late; he’s turning away as the tram slows for the stop out on the street.

 

Then she’s lying on the road. Car tyres are going past, slowly. Somebody is screaming. A siren howls.

 

Sweet voices of little children are singing ‘Morningtown Ride’.

 

Is Brigitte a loving wife and mother, or a cold-blooded killer?

 

Nobody knows why she was in the east of the city so early on the morning she was left for dead by a hit-and-run driver. It was the Friday before Christmas 1994 — the same day police discovered the body of a man beaten to death in her apartment.

 

Fourteen years later, Brigitte is married to the detective who investigated the murder, which she claims to have lost her memory of in the car accident. They have young twins, and seem to be a happy family. Until the reopening of the cold case.

 

Please Don’t Leave Me Here is about loss, love and lies. It is about pain, fear, and memory. And, above all, it is about letting go.

 

 

My View:

This has to be the scariest book cover I have come across in quite some time…that smoke blurred image that distorts the facial features of this photo, for some reason I find this very spooky- thankfully the book is not scary , it is …intriguing and very sad.

 

This is a narrative of many mysteries, survival, and memory and how low self-esteem can really shape a person’s life choices and boy has Brigitte mad some very poor choices… as we reach the conclusion of this book we catch a glimmer of hope that Brigitte is perhaps about to make a good decision – the past being acknowledged as the past and maybe accepting/owning her own feelings and a truth revealed.

 

Tania Chandler takes an addictive personality, low self-esteem, poor parenting and loss of memory and creates a very credible personality that is Brigitte. At each turn of the page you can understand why poor decision are made and empathise with the protagonist who is exploited and manipulated by even those who care for her. This is a grim, realistic story that ends with just a trace of optimism – or is that me looking for a positive outcome? Who knows…?

 

Tania Chandler has mastered the art of writing the unreliable narrator in this book.

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Risk – Fleur Ferris

Sensational! This is a book that all families should share with their teenage children.

Cover - Risk

Risk

Fleur Ferris

Narrated By – Marny Kennedy

Duration – 6hrs 42 mins

Unabridged Audio Book

Audible Australia (available here)

 

Description:

Best friends Taylor and Sierra meet a hot guy in a chat room online. Both fall for Jacob’s charms, but as usual, the more outgoing and vivacious Sierra overshadows Taylor and wins his attention.

Taylor’s devastated – Sierra already kissed Callum, Taylor’s secret crush, over the summer holidays. Life’s not fair, especially when Sierra’s around.

Moving quickly, Sierra sets up a date with Jacob on Friday after school. She asks Taylor and their friends to cover for her. Even though she’s upset, Taylor is still Sierra’s best friend and agrees to help.

But Sierra abuses the favour and calls to say she’s going to spend the night with her date. She doesn’t come home all weekend, doesn’t answer her phone and nobody’s heard from her. Taylor is torn. She doesn’t want to betray Sierra by telling her parents but at the same time she’s concerned for her welfare.

Finally, Callum convinces her to tell. The police are called and their worst fears are confirmed when Sierra’s body is found miles from Melbourne a week later. Devastated, Taylor becomes obsessed with finding Sierra’s killer. As clues emerge, Taylor races against time to try to save the predator’s next victim.

 

My View:

Sensational! This is a book that all families should share with their teenage children.

 

This book is so good if…if I had the money I would buy the films right to this book and make a feature film! Listening to this book I had a film playing on the big screen in my head. J

The settings – wonderfully urban Australian (but this book translates so well to any city or town) , the accents, the dialogue – perfect, accessible and real. The characterisations – so credible you would think the author is writing about her own experience or that of her own family. The narrative – tense and adrenaline raising.

I honestly believe this book has the potential to positively influence the decisions young people may make whilst simultaneously educating the adults around them. Cyber predators are a real threat – listen closely to this story, the message is clear without being condescending. The narrative is powerful, the moral dilemmas are real and contemporary, and the complicated dynamics of relationships are exposed. A great read!

Post Script: Time Of Death – Mark Billingham

She’s not Poppy anymore…now she’s somebody else.”

Cover Time of  Death  Mark Billingham

Time of Death

A Tom Thorne Novel

Mark Billingham

Hachette Australia

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408704820

 

Description:

 

The Missing

Two schoolgirls are abducted in the small, dying Warwickshire town of Polesford, driving a knife into the heart of the community where police officer Helen Weeks grew up and from which she long ago escaped. But this is a place full of secrets, where dangerous truths lie buried.

The Accused

When it’s splashed all over the press that family man Stephen Bates has been arrested, Helen and her partner Tom Thorne head to the flooded town to support Bates’ wife – an old school friend of Helen’s – who is living under siege with two teenage children and convinced of her husband’s innocence.

 

The Dead

As residents and media bay for Bates’ blood, a decomposing body is found. The police believe they have their murderer in custody, but one man believes otherwise. With a girl still missing, Thorne sets himself on a collision course with local police, townsfolk – and a merciless killer.

Tom Thorne returns in a chilling mystery that will keep readers guessing until the final page. Time of Death is Mark Billingham’s most timely, atmospheric thriller to date.

My View:

Billingham goes to great lengths to immerse the reader in this novel – the settings are so vivid you can imagine yourself walking down the main street of the small town of Polesford. You can sit yourself at the café or pub and look at the menu, order your pint/coffee, nod your head in a silent hello to the locals. You are sitting at the next table to Hendricks and Thorne overhearing them discuss bugs and death and missing girls. Cleverly you have become a bit player on this large stage and therefore have a vested interest in discovering the truth. Well done Mark Billingham.

I love the characters of Helen, Thorne and Hendricks and have become very comfortable with these characters, their banter, their humour, sarcasm and intelligence…the dialogue is exceptionally natural and believable and the characters develop and grow with each new novel.

The plot is complex and there are a few red herrings to keep you on your toes. There are a couple of story arcs and I particularly liked where Helen is heading (no spoilers here), the issues she brining to our attention are contemporary, dark and unfortunately prevalent in our modern society and I am pleased she has found the strength to deal with this issue. Her story may embolden others. Billingham has told us enough but not all of the details of this thread and leaves the reader wanting to know more. The issue is handled sensitively without sensationalism.

In Time of Death Mark Billingham has provided the reader with another well written, complex narrative that speaks to issues that we can all empathise with. The plot is tense, the scenarios realistic, the political environment of the workplace is familiar, the characters are finely drawn and three dimensional and feel like people you know. The ending….is almost satisfying, the original case of the missing girls is cleared up but there is more happening that reaches beyond the last page of this novel; I was disappointed when it came to the end, I wanted more!

 

Post Script: The Mountain Story – Lori Lansens

Haunting

Book cover The Mountain Story - Lori Lansens - Simon & Schuster

The Mountain Story

Lori Lansens

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781471138003

 

Description:

From New York Times bestselling author Lori Lansens comes a harrowing survival story about four strangers who spend five days lost in the mountain wilderness above Palm Springs.

 

Four go up the mountain, but only three will come down;

On the morning of Wolf Truly’s eighteenth birthday, he boards the first cable car to head up the mountains just a few miles from his sun-bleached trailer home in the desert community outside of Palm Springs. Armed with nothing but the clothes on his back, Wolf’s intention that morning was to give up on life; specifically at the mountain site of his best friend’s tragic accident one year ago. But on that shaky ride up the mountain, fate intervenes and Wolf meets three women that will leave an indelible imprint on the rest of his life. Through a series of missteps, the four wind up lost and stranded among the forested cliffs; in sight of the desert city below, but unable to find a way down.

As the days pass without rescue, we come to learn how each of them came to be on the mountain that morning. And as their situation shifts from misadventure to nightmare, the lost hikers forge an inextricable bond, pushing themselves, and each other, beyond their limits.

Reminiscent of John Krakauer’s modern classic Into the Wild and Cheryl Strayed’s bestselling Oprah-endorsed Wild, Lori Lansen’s The Mountain Story is a deeply affecting novel that pays homage to the rugged beauty and utterly unforgiving nature of the wilderness, and considers the question: What price are you willing to pay not only for the ones you love, but for a complete stranger?

My View:

I first became acquainted with this novel when I discovered a book trailer on the web – I was intrigued by the story and by the voice of the narrator. Several more “teasers” were released – I loved listening to these, the setting are so realistic, the narrators voice stayed with me as I read the book, the hand held video camera style of shooting are perfect in instilling a sense of mystery and isolation. The final sound – a lonesome bird call – is eerie. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYt10aAE0-W24LiSYLqF8rTixae_rnvqC

The book was a must to read.

And I was not disappointed! I loved the writing style – effectively a father is writing a letter to his son sharing a story so emotional he cannot voice the words out loud; poignant, effective and times heart breaking such is the back story of Wolf’s upbringing that you cannot help but be affected by this drama. The author jumps between past and present – telling us Wolf’s family history and how he ended up on the mountain blending in scenes from what is happening on the mountain to the stranded hikers. It is an awesome, exciting tale – the Mountain another character cast in this drama. Mystery, fear, sadness, heroism and redemption of sorts…a great mystery set in an awe inspiring location. Listen and you can hear the crows,  look up and you can see the carrion birds flying up above you.

 

 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.