Welcome Jennifer Spence

Today I welcome Jennifer Spence to my blog. Jennifer shares with us a brief history of her writing life; I love her  attitude – trying out different genres, listening to her heart!

I am currently reading Jennifer’s new release – The Lost Girls published by Simon & Schuster Australia. It is an absorbing read, within paragraphs you are catapulted into the middle of the action, the mysteries and  the many dilemmas. This is a unique read that discusses memory, family, aging, fate, love and time travel with an interesting overarching mystery that unifies the narrative.

the lost girls

Welcome Jennifer, I am very pleased to make your acquaintance and I look forward to reading your thriller too, one day.

 

Jennifer Spence:

I decided at the age of seven that I was going to be a writer. I could never get my hands on enough books to satisfy my craving to read, so I reasoned that I would need to make my own. Whenever I got hold of an empty exercise book I’d start a new novel: nearly always the story of a misfit girl who is sent to a boarding school, where she is bullied at first but proves herself in some spectacular way. Who knew that many years later J.K. Rowling would prove that this idea indeed had legs!

As I grew up I retained this wish to write, but the truth is that in my youth I didn’t have a lot to say. Without consciously planning it, I gave myself an extremely long apprenticeship. I studied English and Philosophy at university, became an English teacher for a while, worked in the theatre and wrote a few performance pieces, talked my way into writing television scripts for a year, and eventually wrote my first children’s book just to see if I could. Writing a whole book and getting to the end looked like such an arduous task, as indeed it is. I’ll never forget the euphoria of pulling off this modest little achievement.

After that I stumbled into a well-paid profession as a technical writer, which was also a valuable part of my training. Technical writing has to be sharp and to-the-point. Whatever you’re describing, you have to nail it. You can’t obfuscate, and this aligns with the kind of writing I respect and the principles I adhere to.

Finally, a few years ago, the stars were kind and I was able to take some time off work to write some more. I started with a second children’s book which I had already composed in my head – though it came out rather differently on paper – then a thriller that I had also thought a lot about. I was quite surprised when the publishers told me I was supposed to choose one genre and stick to it! But I did want to eventually write straight fiction, and I had several ideas queued up in my brain. I wrote sequels for the children’s book and the thriller, because the publishers asked for them, all the time trying to polish my writing style, and I confess I was about to move on to a dystopian novel.

But then ‘The Lost Girls’ pushed its way into the queue. Once the idea for this book popped into my head I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I had to drop everything and write it, and I found in the process that it was a good place for a lot of the ideas I had been wanting to express.

I’m now working on another piece of straight-ish fiction. It’s an idea that I first had in my twenties, not knowing where it was going to lead. Now I do know, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the writing of it.

 

jennifer spencePhoto courtesy of Jacalin King

 

Guest Review – Saving You – Charlotte Nash

saving you

Saving You

Charlotte Nash

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733636479

 

Description:

One single mother. Three escaped pensioners. A road trip across the United States.

The new emotionally compelling page-turner by Australia’s Charlotte Nash.

In their tiny pale green cottage under the trees, Mallory Cook and her five-year-old son, Harry, are a little family unit who weather the storms of life together. Money is tight after Harry’s father, Duncan, abandoned them to expand his business in New York. So when Duncan fails to return Harry after a visit, Mallory boards a plane to bring her son home any way she can.

During the journey, a chance encounter with three retirees on the run from their care home leads Mallory on an unlikely group road trip across the United States. Zadie, Ernie, and Jock each have their own reasons for making the journey and along the way the four of them will learn the lengths they will travel to save each other – and themselves.

Saving You is the beautiful, emotionally compelling page-turner by Charlotte Nash, bestselling Australian author of The Horseman and The Paris Wedding.

Brenda’s Review:

Absolutely brilliant! This will be one of my top reads for 2019!

Mallory Cook’s work at Silky Oaks with the elderly residents was rewarding, and she loved her job. Her greatest achievement though was her five-year-old son Harry. She was excited for his return from New York where he’d been for two weeks with his father for the Easter break. But the non-appearance of both Duncan, Mallory’s husband, and Harry at the Brisbane Airport was the beginning of a journey that would test everything Mallory had ever known about herself.

Mallory’s arrival at the Los Angeles airport was joined by a nearby volcano pouring its ash over the airways. Flights were cancelled, hire cars were fully booked, trains were booked out – Mallory was stranded with little money. But her meeting with three elderly people, Ernie, Zadie and Jock seemed like the answer to her prayers. They needed to get to Nashville and had a hire car, their driver had vanished, and Mallory needed to get to New York. As long as she could drive them, all would be fine.

The trip across the country was fraught with problems – but the determination of all four was that they would do what they set out to do. Mallory ached to see Harry – what would be the outcome of this seemingly crazy dash from Australia to the US?

Saving You by Aussie author Charlotte Nash is an emotional, heart warming and heart breaking novel which I absolutely loved. I devoured it, laughing out loud in places, needing the tissues in others. A wonderful novel that I have no hesitation in recommending highly – in my opinion this is the author’s best yet! A credit to you Ms Nash! 5 stars!

With thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Book Bingo -Book 1 – Dark Sacred Place – Michael Connelly

Book Bingo is a reading challenge run in collaboration with Mrs B’s Book Reviewsand The Book Muse   and Theresa Smith Writes Every second Saturday, book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read to and what book they chose. You can join in by heading over to the book club where members are regularly posting their books and thoughts for discussion.

I am a little behind in my reviewing- and so will be trying to catch up in the next week or so. I have read the books I just need to find time to write and post the reviews.

 

My first square – CRIME – my favorite genre.

 

dark sacred night

Dark Sacred Night

A Ballard and Bosch Thriller

Michael Connelly

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760528553

 

Description:

At the end of a long, dark night detectives Renee Ballard and Harry Bosch cross paths for the first time.

 

Detective Renee Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.

 

The intruder is none other than retired legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.

 

Ballard escorts him out but — curious to know what he was searching for — soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?

 

For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.

 

But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…

 

 

My View:

I am a big fan of Michael Connelly and this new book did not disappoint. The combination of characters – Bosch from the original series   teed up with new character, Renee Ballard, brings perspectives new and old, insight and experience, risk taking and daring in an exciting, dramatic dark narrative.

 

I am really looking forward to the next time these two characters work a case together.

 

 

 

Review: At The Wolf’s Table – Rosella Postorino

at the wolf's table

At The Wolf’s Table

Rosellas Postorino

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925791969

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

The internationally bestselling novel based on the untold true story of the women conscripted to be Hitler’s food tasters.

 

“They called it the Wolfsschanze, the Wolf’s Lair. ‘Wolf’ was his nickname. As hapless as Little Red Riding Hood, I had ended up in his belly. A legion of hunters was out looking for him, and to get him in their grips they would gladly slay me as well.”

 

Germany, 1943: Twenty-six-year-old Rosa Sauer’s parents are gone, and her husband Gregor is far away, fighting on the front lines of WWII. Impoverished and alone, she makes the fateful decision to leave war-torn Berlin to live with her in-laws in the countryside, thinking she’ll find refuge there. But one morning, the SS come to tell her she has been conscripted to be one of Hitler’s tasters: three times a day, she and nine other women go to his secret headquarters, the Wolf’s Lair, to eat his meals before he does. Forced to eat what might kill them, the tasters begin to divide into The Fanatics, those loyal to Hitler, and the women like Rosa who insist they aren’t Nazis, even as they risk their lives every day for Hitler’s.

 

As secrets and resentments grow, this unlikely sisterhood reaches its own dramatic climax. What’s more, one of Rosa’s SS guards has become dangerously familiar, and the war is worsening outside. As the months pass, it becomes increasingly clear that Rosa and everyone she knows are on the wrong side of history.

 

 

My View:

Brilliant!

A narrative that authentically involves you in the war time Germany where the impossible to accept, the dangerous, the unthinkable… is normalised. This is a study of group behaviour; of how social isolation, separation from family support, societal and military control, of how war affects those actively involved in the warfare and those who remain at home. It is also a story of love – in many forms, of violence, of living in perpetual/potential danger and a story of survival.

 

This is, at times, an intense and emotional read.  I was disappointed when I read the last page – I was hungry for more.

 

Brilliantly written, sensitively translated, this is a great read.

 

Best Contemporary/Literary Reads of 2018

This is another category that has many contenders. There were so many fabulous reads that have made me think, feel, inspired me to paint and at some that have brought a tear to my eye. If you have an opportunity to pick up any of these books I think you will be very impressed.

 

In no particular order:

Lenny’s Book of Everything – Karen Foxlee

Lenny's Book of Everything

The Children’s House – Alice Nelson

The Children's House

Bridge of Clay – Markus Zusak

Bridge of Clay

Beneath the Mother Tree – D M Cameron

Beneath The Mother Tree by D M Cameron

Return to Roseglen – Helene Young

Return to Roseglen by Helen Young cover art

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Foreman 

I Have Lost My Way

Ghosted – Rosie Walsh

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart – Holly Ringland

If Kisses Cured Cancer – T S Hawken

If Kisses Cured Cancer

Book of Colours – Robyn Cadwallader

The Book of Colours

 

Best Mystery or Thriller of 2018

This is another category that has so many worthy contenders, if your book did not make it on this list it is because I had to draw the line somewhere or perhaps you featured on another of my lists- sometimes categories overlap.

In no particular order:

Kingdom of the Blind – Louise Penny

Kingdom of the Blind

Liar’s Candle – August Thomas


Liar's Candle by August Thomas cover art

Let Me Lie – Clare Mackintosh

Let me Lie

The Portrait of Molly Dean – Katherine Kovacic

The Portrait of Molly Dea

Take Me In  – Sabine Durrant

Take Me In

Anatomy of a Scandal – Sarah Vaughan

Anatomy of a Scandal

All In – Lily Gardner

All In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opps…I Missed Posting This One

How did I forget to post this review? My apologies Clare; Clare Macintosh is another author that I take every opportunity to read, her writing is engaging, the plots twisty and unexpected. “Let me Lie” is my latest read.

If you haven’t read any of Clare’s books before I highly recommend them all.

Let me Lie

I Let You Go

i-see-you