Post Script: The Whispers A Hollows Short Story – Lisa Unger

The Whispers

A Hollows Short Story

Lisa Unger

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

Pocket Star

ISBN: 9781476797786

 

Description:

Eloise Montgomery discovers her amazing gift in the wake of tragedy in this first of three captivating e-novellas from award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.

 

It’s a day like any other for Eloise Montgomery—until tragedy strikes. While she is recovering from a horrible accident that takes the lives of her husband and oldest daughter, and as she works to help her younger daughter move forward, Eloise experiences her first psychic vision. Though she struggles to understand her newfound gifts, Eloise finds a way use them to save lost women and girls—for whom her help may be the only way out…

 

From an author whose “gripping narrative and evocative, muscular prose” (Associated Press) have won her critical acclaim comes The Whispers: a story that delves deep into the human psyche and the mind of one unforgettable heroine.

 

My View:

This was a great introduction to what is the first is a series of three short stories that centres on a character, Eloise, who also appears in a few of Ms Unger’s books. I like her “gift” and the mystery part of the narrative and am hoping that this narrative does evolve into a full sized book at some point as I love the premise.

Post Script: The Golden Boys – Sonya Hartnett

Evil lurks under the surface.

Golden Boys

The Golden Boys

Sonya Hartnett

Penguin Australia

Hamish Hamilton

ISBN: 9781926428611

 

 

Description:

Sonya Hartnett’s third novel for adults is perfectly formed and utterly compelling, an unflinching and disquieting work from one of Australia’s finest writers.

 

Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian live in a world of shiny, new things – skateboards, slot cars, train sets and even the latest BMX. Their affluent father, Rex, has made sure that they’ll be the envy of the new, working-class suburb they’ve moved to.

But underneath the surface of the perfect family, is there something unsettling about the Jensons? To the local kids, Rex becomes a kind of hero, but Colt senses there’s something in his father that could destroy their fragile new lives.

 

My View:

A book that slowly draws you into its grasp into a time of childhood innocence, of BMX bikes and playing in the local storm water drain, of BBQ’s with the neighbours… a time when kids could be adventurers and start to develop their own identity and work out their place in the world. However all is not quite what it seems, the story told through the eyes of the children in the two families that are spotlighted in this narrative are wise for their age but have not yet learnt how to deal with their wisdom. We watch them struggle to cope with realisations that their family is not quite like everyone else’s and that feelings of love and hate are not mutually exclusive within the family unit.

 

The story opens with a display of parental teasing and Colt clearly sees the action for what it really is – a display of power over, her reflects; “There’s always some small cruelty, an unpleasant little hoop to be crawled through before what’s good may begin; here is the gift, but first you must guess its colour.” And so even at this early point in the novel Hartnett foreshadows the power plays that will form the crux of this story, power over and manipulation form the structure this narrative is welded to.

 

This is a finely drawn picture of life in the 70’s in Australian suburbia that does not skimp on domestic detail and family dysfunction. Issues that are “family secrets” are explored and laid bare. I think one of the reasons I felt drawn to this story aside from the poignant characterisations was the ability this narrative had to take me back to my own childhood, I too was a teenager in the 70’s and found life not always that easy. I could empathise with the main characters. I could relate to these times.

 

 

This is a disquieting read. The conclusion is confronting.

Afternoon Tea Anyone?

This week my daughter has been requesting that I make some dessert or muffins, her favourite being Raspberry and White Chocolate Muffins. There are many versions of this recipe around, my version of the linked recipe replaces Macadamia oil for the butter and frozen raspberries as fresh are not readily available. I haven’t done ay real baking or cooking for months and months (due to being on holiday in the caravan and making mostly “one pot” type meals). I had forgotten how much I enjoy cooking. The house was filed with incredible aromas (and the muffins didn’t taste too bad either). What is your favourite afternoon tea sweet treat?

IMG_2473

 

Preview Chapter: The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes

I loved this book despite my tears that flowed freely. Such joy, such humour and great narrative and a great family story of impending loss and love. You have to read this – my review in full closer to publication.

Check out the introduction from the author and the preview chapter here.

The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes, Anna McPartlin

 

Post Script: The Break – Deb Fitzpatrick

The climax will haunt you whether you are a “local” or not.

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The Break

Deb Fitzpatrick

Fremantle Press

ISBN: 9781922089632

 

 

Description:

The south-west coast is the kind of place people escape to. Unless you have lived there all your life, in which case, you long to get away.

 

Rosie and Cray chuck in their city jobs for Margaret River while Liza, Ferg and Sam have been there forever, working the family farm. Under pressure from developers the families unite against change. But when a natural disaster strikes, change is inevitable.

 

My View:

I am always keen to read books written by Australian authors particular those local to the region I live in or those written about that region– and you couldn’t get any more “local” than this, a story written about the Margaret River region. Local landmarks are thinly disguised and easily recognised. A narrative based on my local region, with a synopsis that talks about sea changes (which again appealed to me because of my own relatively recent sea change) and an environmental issue, I was hooked. A barely glanced over the line “But a natural disaster…” and wasn’t prepared for the emotional ending.

 

Fitzpatrick drew me in with elements that I thought would be related to my own life; there was so many aspects of the narrative that felt I would recognise, maybe empathise with; my daughter is a journalist, I have a son in-law who is a FIFO mine worker, we made a sea change to the Margaret River region…I thought I would find elements here I could identify with. But I didn’t. The book is set in the late 1990’s but at times felt so much older, so dated … or do I have a short memory? I am seeing a stereotyped version of a hippy/surfing culture that I think existed in the 70’s? I don’t know but for me the contemporary issues felt at odds with the setting. Something didn’t quite jell.

 

The story is told through the circumstance and lives of two sets of families – Rosie and Cray – who made the deliberate decision to move to the area and the Crowe family – a family of farmers who have always lived in the area, a juxtaposition of opinions and perspectives that eventually is meant to lead to us to an intersection where both families unite (over a development issue). This did not work for me – I did not feel there was any real connection between the two units, the relationship didn’t seem to grow and just seemed cursory. I think this aspect needs more development.

 

I can empathise with the desire to escape the city life and move to a regional area where life is more relaxed but I didn’t feel a connection with the main characters experiences and I didn’t feel any sense of the community they were seeking (until the very last pages) and then I didn’t feel they were part of that community. In fact the lives they moved to seemed pretty disparate with their ideals before they left, particularly for Rosie. Life was probably looking better to Cray but he was a character I didn’t warm to; I felt he was selfish.

 

Despite some misgiving with the lack of development of the relationships in this narrative I can see a wonderful potential in the storyline regarding the history of the Crowe family. I would have liked to have known more about their lives, about their relationships, about the problems the family dealt with (and there are many) and the optimism Crowe senior had for life on the land. I would like to have known more about a family dealing with an addiction and with tragedy.

 

The tragedy – despite not living in the area at the time of this event (no spoilers here) I felt the wounds were still to raw to be presented in this forum. It is very clear what the author is referring to – there is no real effort to disguise the event. I think fiction/fact is too blurred here, “faction” is not what I wanted to read and is an entirely different narrative, one that could work so well – there is a story based on the tragedy that would really work here as a work of fiction, but not an identifiable fiction.

 

Writing that is engaging – but a narrative that is not developed enough for my liking. But mine is just a personal view, you should make up your own mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Five Minutes Alone – Paul Cleave

Five Minutes Alone

A Thriller

Paul Cleave

Atria Books

Atria Books

ISBN: 9781476779157

 

 

Description:

In the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder.

 

Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but—almost as deadly—it’s switched off his emotions.

 

When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, the bodies of two more rapists surface. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer.

 

There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected—each other.

 

My View:

This is a review that is causing me to wrestle with my response to the book – I had so many! Let me explain – I hadn’t read any others in this series but the premise of revenge drew me in. The first few chapters I found really engaging, tense, and dramatic. I empathised with the first murderer – I think anyone would. And hence starts the first of many moral dilemmas in this narrative.

 

The theme of revenge, of ‘doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing’ is a theme I have noticed weave its way into a few contemporary reads lately. The question is raised, would you do the ‘right thing’ when ‘the right thing’ isn’t necessarily the ‘legal thing’. And responds and provides scenarios that address the comment so many victims of crime or their close friends, family or partner may say after a horrific act – “Give me five minutes alone with the perpetrator.” We have all heard it before or maybe even responded the same way. What would you do with that time? Cleave provides some very interesting outcomes to stir your thoughts. (Some progressive gaols do encourage victims to meet with the perpetrator – whether that be to vent and rage or to try understand the “why” and help the victim deal with their loss of power.)

 

I really liked the characterisations in this novel – flawed but very human cops, the main protagonists’ being cops who are also victims/perpetrators of crimes themselves. This put a very interesting spin on the narrative and this is where I wish I had read the previous novels to get a better understanding of what made Theo and Carl the people we encounter in this book.

 

However the amount of bad luck that Carl Schroder experiences was a little difficult to believe; I could almost see the actions exaggerated just a little to fit the script of a very black slapstick comedy…The strength of the writing kept me reading.

 

So I am conflicted on how I feel about this book, would I recommend it to others? Maybe with the proviso you read the earlier books first and get a good understanding of the history that created Theo and Carl as depicted in this book. Was I engaged with this narrative? Yes I was, I wanted to know how Theo and Carl could possibly get themselves out of such a difficult situation and I wanted these flawed good /bad guys to win. It is too hard, I will leave this one for you to decide what you think about it.