My Most Anticipated Read of 2023 has Arrived

On the Savage Side

Tiffany McDaniel

W & N

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781399606080

RRP $32.99

Publishing 14th February 2023

Description:

Six women – mothers, daughters, sisters – gone missing. When the first is found floating dead in the river, it reveals the disturbing truth of a small Ohio town. Inspired by the unsolved murders of the Chillicothe Six, this harrowing and haunting novel tells the story of two sisters, both of whom could be the next victims. From the internationally-bestselling author of Betty.

Arcade and Daffodil are twin sisters born one minute apart. With their fiery red hair and thirst for an escape, they forge an unbreakable bond nurtured by both their grandmother’s stories and their imaginations. Together, they create a world where a patch of grass reveals an archaeologist’s dig, the smoke emerging from the local paper mill becomes the dust rising from wild horses galloping in the ground, and an abandoned 1950s convertible transforms into a time machine that can take them anywhere.

But the two sisters can’t escape the generational chaos that grips their family. Growing up in the shadow of the town, the sisters cling tight to one another. As an adult, Arcade wrestles with these memories of her life, just as a local woman is discovered drowned in the river. Soon, more bodies are found. While her friends disappear around her, Arcade is forced to reckon with the past while the killer circles ever closer. Arcade’s promise to keep herself and her sister safe becomes increasingly desperate while the powerful riptide of the savage side becomes more difficult to resist.

Drawing from the true story of women killed in her native Ohio, acclaimed novelist and poet Tiffany McDaniel has written a powerful literary testament and fearless elegy for missing women everywhere.

I cannot wait to start this! Tiffany McDaniel has written some amazing books; Betty, and The Summer that Melted Everything are my all time favourites. I cannot wait to read this new one.

Review: The Next Girl – Pip Drysdale

The Next Girl

Pip Drysdale

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781761106644

Description;

Promising Young Woman meets High Fidelity in the dark and twisty new thriller from the bestselling author of The Sunday Girl, The Strangers We Know and The Paris Affair.

A bad day at work. A drunken night. A rogue Instagram follow. That’s all it takes to ruin a life …

The question is, whose life will be ruined? When Billie wakes up in a strange guy’s bed, her first thought is: what happened last night? She can’t even remember meeting him. And how the hell did she get to Coney Island?

Then reality bites and the memories flood in – the reason she was in that bar, drinking to start with: today she’s going to get fired. Because yesterday her law firm lost a big case: Samuel Grange v Jane Delaney. And it looked like it was her fault.

It wasn’t. Yet now Samuel Grange is free to drive off into the sunset in his stupid Porsche and do it all again to another woman. And all Billie can think is: What about the next girl? And the one after that? But there is nothing she can do to stop him.

Unless … She could expose the truth about him on her own. Then everyone would see what he was really like. And he wouldn’t be able to do it again.

The problem is, the only way to protect the next girl is to become the next girl. And, well, that could be a little risky … even deadly.

Praise for The Next Girl

‘Original. Breathtaking. Dangerous. The Next Girl is compulsory reading from an author at the top of her game.’ Loraine Peck, author of The Second Son

‘It hooked me in and left me breathless. Set aside your weekend because you won’t be able to put it down.’ Petronella McGovern, author of The Liars

‘Fierce, smart and packed with tension, The Next Girl grabbed me from the first page.’ Ashley Kalagian Blunt, author of Dark Mode

‘Pip Drysdale is one of the brightest new stars in the realm of first-person psychological suspense … Romantic suspense for the Netflix generation.’ Canberra Times

‘A twisty, suspenseful thriller with a heroine who makes doing bad things seem right.’ Tim Ayliffe, author of The Enemy Within

368 pages, Paperback

Published November 30, 2022

Dear Pip

Yesterday I had a massage – I had kinks and knots and aches and pains. The remedial massage was an hour of bliss (mostly ) Last night I continued to read your book, The Next Girl. I was reading curled up on the lounge, I could feel the tension in my neck budling…being “posture aware” I moved my reading to the kitchen table, I sat straight for all of 2 minutes and then the tension, almost like panic, fear, anticipation…came back. I was “in that room” with your protagonist. I tore through the final chapters, finished the book and exhaled. My muscles relaxed.

You owe me, one remedial massage 🙂

Review: A Brief Affair – Alex Miller

A Brief Affair

Alex Miller

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781761066573

Description:

A moving novel about storytelling, about truths, and love, from twice Miles Franklin Award winner Alex Miller.

From the bustling streets of China, to the ominous Cell 16 in an old asylum building, to the familiar sounds and sight of galahs flying over a Victorian farm, A Brief Affair is a tender love story.

On the face of it, Dr Frances Egan is a woman who has it all – a loving family and a fine career – until a brief, perfect affair reveals to her an imaginative dimension to her life that is wholly her own.

Fran finds the courage and the inspiration to risk everything and change her direction at the age of forty-two. This newfound understanding of herself is fortified by the discovery of a long-forgotten diary from the asylum and the story it reveals.

Written with humour, sensitivity and the wisdom for which Miller’s work is famous, this exquisitely compassionate novel explores the interior life and the dangerous navigation of love in all its forms.

My View:

This author has such a powerful yet subtle touch – his words to be savoured, his books to be treasured.

5 Stars *****

Review: Copywrong to Copywriter – Tait Ischia

Copy Wrong to Copywriter -a practical guide to copywriting for small businesses, small organisations, sole traders, and lone rangers

Tait Ischia

illus. Jacob Zinman-Jeanes

Scribe

ISBN:9781922585844

RRP $25

Description:

A fantastic way to up your copywriting game and grow more confident in your ability to use the right words.’

MICHAEL BASCETTA, SMALL BUSINESS OWNER AT WORKSMITH

If you feel like you’ve got the wrong tone of voice, don’t understand the ins-and-outs of grammar, or just don’t feel confident writing about yourself without sounding like an idiot, read this book.

Copywriter Tait Ischia is brief and to the point in an interesting and engaging way. Which is exactly what you want the words on your website/marketing stuff/professional bio to be too, right? Feel confident in what you say and how you say it when you put fingers to the keyboard. Waffling on should really be reserved for weekend breakfast.

My View:

No waffling here:) This is an engaging introduction to the world of social media content creating and copyrighting. I liked the illustrations.

Best Reads of 2022

We all need a little miracle now and then. Tiny Uncertain Miracles

I still shake my head in disbelief that this actually happened. The Widow of Walcha

I shake my head…society has let down so many people. I Am A Killer What Makes A Murderer

Those who have discovered or have yet to discover their passion will love this. This is Not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch

And one for the adults and the children to share. What to Say

Happy New Year

Happy New year, I apologise that this post is a little late, it has been such a busy time in our house. First was the delivery and installation of over 50 art works ( of varying sizes) to the Demark (WA) Visitors Centre for an exhibition I called ” Wide Open Roads” – abstract Australian landscapes.

Then came Christmas with family visiting.

Then I was pleasantly surprised to be offered a display space at Peacetree Wines cellar door in my home town. “Bloom” was installed.

I am a little tired and have not had much time for reading lately but will get back to posting again soon.

Happy New Year.

Review: What To Say When You Dont Know What To Say – Davina Bell & Hilary Jean Tapper

What to Say When You Don’t Know What To Say

Davina Bell and Hilary Jean Tapper

Lothian Children’s Books

Hachette Australian

ISBN: 9780734421142

RRP $24.99

Description:

From the award-winning author of All the Ways to Be Smart, comes a warm and whimsical guide to negotiating new experiences and big emotions with empathy, kindness and words from the heart.

I’m not brave enough today. Maybe next time.
You’re hurting my feelings right now.
Want to join in?

A warm and whimsical guide to negotiating life’s little moments and big emotions with empathy, kindness and words from the heart.

From award-winning and much-loved author Davina Bell and exciting new illustrator, Hilary Jean Tapper.

My View:

Contemporary children’s books are delightful, whimsical and in this so helpful too. I don’t think this is a book for children. This is a book for adults and children. This is a book of prompts for when you are lost for words, when you have big feelings…when you aren’t feeling brave, or you are feeling sorry…happens to adults too…and sometimes just saying or hearing these words will help us out the next time we are in a situation when words escape us, when we don’t have previous experience to call upon.

A beautiful book. Put this one on your Christmas or any other occasion list. Actually, don’t wait for an “occasion” – gift this to yourself now. Or to your children’s classroom or library.

Review: Off to the Market – Alice Oehr

Off to the Market

Alice Oehr

Scribble Kids Books

ISBN:9781925849790

Description:

Sunday is market day. We are looking for pumpkin, apples, eggs, and bread. What else will we find? Where did it come from? And what will we make with it?

Learn all about produce in this delightful child’s tour of a food market, full of fun facts, delicious new discoveries, and charming characters.

A loving ode to the people who bring food to our table and connection to our community, from acclaimed artist Alice Oehr.

My View:

A prefect first reader! This book of bold bright colours with eye catching stylised images is the prefect book for your first readers
(or bubs who sit on your laps as you read and point out) and talk about the markets, fruits and vegetables, shopping. Great for discussions about colours, shapes, counting, and general language development.

I do love the colour pop and the stylised images! Your little one will love it too.

Review: Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller – Christine Courtenay

Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller

Christine Courtenay

Penguin

Viking

ISBN: 9780143778851

Description:
Bryce Courtenay was a born storyteller. The success of his extraordinary debut The Power of One made publishing history, and in the years that followed Bryce continued to entertain and inspire thousands of devoted readers around the world with his sweeping epics and larger-than-life characters who embody the strength and triumph of the human condition.
What kind of man did it take to conjure these tales? What kind of life?


When Christine Courtenay began penning her own memoir during lockdown, she found herself increasingly drawn to the remarkable story of her late husband’s life and reflecting upon his astonishing literary legacy. From his humble beginnings in Africa to his dazzling success in advertising and as a bestselling author, Bryce’s extraordinary, rags-to-riches life story reads like one of his epic novels. It was a life marked by all the big themes – overcoming adversity, love, loss, hard-won success, fame and fortune, and holding tight to a dream.


In this telling Christine uncovers the events that shaped the man behind the stories – a man complex, driven and unfailingly positive, who never lost sight of his childhood dream to be a writer. Candid, intimate and insightful, Bryce Courtenay: Storyteller is a fascinating, loving tribute to the life and work of Australia’s most beloved and enigmatic writer. 

My View:

Bryce Courtenay was an extraordinary story teller, both in his writing and in his “in person ” interviews. I, like many, read and were moved by The Power of One. Over the years I have read many of Courtenay’s books, perhaps my verry favourite being Silvery Moon – inspiring, uplifting and personal. I could feel the charisma of Bryce Courtenay when reading Silvery Moon.

Reading “Storyteller” I was both filled with sadness and with optimism. Bryce Courtenay had the most horrendous start to life, echoes of his early years ripple through his books, look closely, listen. In the words of Bryce Courtenay “…you must understand, I don’t wany you or anyone to feel sorry for me. Sure my childhood was tough, but it made me the person I am. If my early life had been easy, I am certain I would not have set the bar for my self so high” p47 ( in conversation with Christine) Such wonderful messages of hope are contained in this book.

Bryce Courtenay was a writer, a storyteller. I salute you.

Review: Tiny Uncertain Miracles – Michelle Johnston

Tiny Uncertain Miracles: the most uplifting gift of a novel you’ll read this Christmas 2022

Michelle Johnston

4th Estate AU

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460762714

RRP $32.99

Description:

Miracles are notoriously unreliable. But sometimes, just when they’re needed, they turn up – although not always in the form that we expect…

‘A novel luminous with love and hope that will change the way you see the world.’ Kathryn Heyman

Awkward, hapless Marick is still struggling with the loss of his wife, his child and his faith when he is reluctantly thrust into the position of chaplain at a large public hospital. Shortly after arriving, he meets Hugo, a hospital scientist and a man almost as lost as Marick himself, who is working in a forgotten lab, deep in the subterranean realms of the hospital. Hugo is convinced that the bacteria he uses for protein production have – unbelievably – begun to produce gold. Is it alchemy, evolution, a hoax or even … possibly … a miracle?

In the meantime, Christmas is approaching, the number of homeless outside the hospital is increasing, the Director of Operational Services is pressing Marick about his weekly KPIs, you can’t buy chocolate in the hospital shop anymore, and Marick keeps waking with nightmares at 4 am every night. If ever a miracle was needed, it’s now.

A tender, sweet, sad, gritty, slyly funny and unexpectedly uplifting novel about family, friendship, faith, love – and alchemy – Tiny Uncertain Miracles is a hopeful and luminous gift to all readers.

PRAISE FOR TINY UNCERTAIN MIRACLES

‘Johnston captures the brutal reality of life with a lyricism and gentleness that will touch many. Readers of Elizabeth Strout, Mitch Albom and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine will find similarities and enjoyment in Tiny Uncertain Miracles.’ Books+Publishing

‘Johnston articulates the biggest questions and the smallest human moments with rare beauty and precision. A stunning act of imagination and storytelling’ – Robert Lukins, Loveland

‘Emotionally rich, profoundly absorbing and entrancingly unique, this is a book you won’t be able to put down. Johnston’s sentences dance, her wit sparkles and her power arises from her authority and audacity. Intellectually rigorous and achingly poignant; Tiny Uncertain Miracles is a virtuoso performance by a writer at the height of her powers. I have not read anything as satisfying and stimulating for a very long time.’ Alice Nelson, The Children’s House

Tiny Uncertain Miracles is witty, profound and a joy to read. Johnston posits that believing in something is better than nothing, and that redemption can come from the least likely places. Invisible gods, alchemy, medical science – all have their place but none tops the marvel of people, in their own weird ways and often despite themselves, being pretty bloody marvellous’ – Paul Dalgarno, A Country of Eternal Light

‘Original, enchanting and ultimately hopeful – Tiny Uncertain Miracles is a dazzling tale that will get under your skin and into your heart, in the best way possible’ – Ewa Ramsey, The Morbid

My View:

Let me start with the cover – I love this cover, the tiny gold dots, it is perfect for this read, perfect.

This is a tender, sublime, character driven story, ultimately of hope. Until I read this I have never really considered what the “first responders”, our ambulance officers, fireman. women, priests, chaplains, emergency room doctors and nurses “do” with all the pain, grief and despair that encounter on a day to day basis. It must be heavy, it must be hard. Thank you all for what you selflessly do for humanity.

The narrative – is a slow and deliberate expose of the lives of a few who inhabit the space of the hospital – whether they be the cleaner, the volunteers in the kiosk, the food attendants, the chaplain, the homeless who seek shelter in the hospital grounds, the medical and allied staff and last but not least, the patients and their families. Johnston gently, subtly reveals their inner thinking’s, their personalities, their aspirations and sometimes their failures. The characters are all very credible.

The ending is one of hope and cant we all use a little of that these days?

Read, enjoy, reflect.

PS Did the author make a cameo appearance in this read? If you have read this book let me know if you considered that possibility?