Review: Fool Me Once – Karly Lane

Fool Me Once

Karly Lane

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760529246

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

Karly Lane has a wonderful way of creating a sense of place – These are books I know I can fall into and be transported.’ – Noveltea Corner on Return to Stringybark Creek

 

Farmer, Georgie Henderson manages a cattle farm in the New England region of NSW, but her dream has always been to buy back her family property, Tamban. Her every waking hour for years, has revolved around planning to make this dream become a reality.

 

When an unlikely meeting with Michael Delacourt at a rowdy B&S Ball sends them on a whirlwind romance, Georgie can’t believe it’s possible for life to be this good and her dream of buying back Tamban has, for the first time, taken a backseat to happiness.

 

But her world shatters when she discovers the shocking secret Michael has been trying to keep from her.

 

Can Michael convince her they still have a future? And after having her heart so thoroughly broken, can Georgie ever trust anyone again?

 

 

My View:

If you are looking for a read that will take you away from the everyday, from the covid -19 isolation stress, then this book is for you. This is the perfect escapist read.

 

I was drawn to the small-town settings, the B & S ball (I went to something similar when I was on school holidays staying at a friends in the country), the farm stay tourist venture…it all seemed very credible to me. This is the book that will transport you to outback Australia, the dust and the cattle, the windmills and water pumps…and the dramas that beset this small-town woman.

This is a very easy read and by that, I mean you turn the pages quickly; the characters leap off the page and into your imagination, the settings are vivid, the narrative is fast moving and dramatic, the resolution satisfying. This is armchair travelling at its best.

 

 

 

 

Review: Mammoth – Chris Flynn

 

 

Mammoth

Chris Flynn

University of Queensland Press

ISBN: 9780702262746

 

Description:

Narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is the (mostly) true story of how the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy and the narrator himself came to be on sale at a 2007 natural history auction in Manhattan.

 

Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, including detours to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Mammoth illuminates a period of history when ideas about science and religion underwent significant change. By tracing how and when the fossils were unearthed, Mammoth traverses time and place to reveal humanity’s role in the inexorable destruction of the natural world.

 

My View:

This is not my usual sort of read – in fact it is probably unlike anything I have read before or will read again😊. The narrator is the voice of an extinct mammoth – one with a very droll sense of humour and a melodious story telling style. Simply put, I felt like I was a child, snuggled in a chair (or bed) being told a rambling bedtime story about the world as it was and how the hominids wreaked havoc and destruction on the environment.

 

The book is full of thought provoking and enlightening anecdotes, one that is a standout is the mammoth’s reflection on ownership. “Ownership is a strange, uniquely human notion. The bipeds are obsessed with staking their claim over places, people and things. I cannot understand it. No beast of air, land or sea ever asserted the right of possession over another creature, except to devour it. The hominids don’t even eat each other anymore.” p37.  Such a simply stated yet relevant observation, Mammoth is such a brilliant observer.

 

To complete this unusual read is a cast of curious (deceased, extinct, mummified or fossilised) creatures; the skull of a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin, the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy. I particularly liked the irreverent voice of the Tyrannosaurus bataar.

 

This unusual book is the perfect read for these unusual times

 

 

 

Review: Fauna – Donna Mazza

Fauna

Donna Mazza

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760876302

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A compelling near-future literary novel, psychological thriller and family drama

 

‘Fauna lays bare an electrifying genetically re-coded future so real, so terrifying, so close, I can feel its baby breath soft against my cheek.’ Robyn Mundy, author of Wild Light

 

‘Mazza’s novel asks hard questions, yet brims with compassion. A thrilling, unsettling read.’ Paddy O’Reilly, author of The Wonders

 

Set 17 years into a very recognisable future, Fauna is an astonishing psychological drama with an incredible twist: What if the child you are carrying is not entirely human?

 

Using DNA technology, scientists have started to reverse the extinction of creatures like the mammoth and the Tasmanian Tiger. The benefits of this radical approach could be far-reaching. But how far will they go?

 

Longing for another child, Stacey is recruited by a company who offer massive incentives for her to join an experimental programme called LifeBLOOD. As part of the agreement, she and her husband’s embryo will be blended with ‘edited cells’. Just how edited, Stacey doesn’t really know. Nor does she have any idea how much her longed-for new daughter will change her life and that of her family. Or how hard she will have to fight to protect her.

 

Fauna is a transformative, lyrical and moving novel about love and motherhood, home and family – and what it means to be human.

 

 

My View:

This is faultless writing; engaging, provocative, realistic and emotive.

 

There is little more I can add except to urge you to read this poignant “what if” narrative.

 

Review: The Gilded Cage – Camilla Läckberg

The Gilded Cage

Camilla Läckberg

Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN: 9780008283735

 

Description:

All that glitters…

 

People would kill to have Faye von Essen’s life. She lives in an ultra-swanky apartment in the most exclusive area of Stockholm, she has a gorgeous husband who gives her everything she’s ever wanted, and she has an adorable daughter who lights up her world. Faye’s life is perfect.

 

So how is it, then, that she now finds herself in a police station?

 

The truth is that Faye’s life is far from what it seems. The truth is that Faye isn’t even her real name. And now she’s been caught out. There’s no way she’s going to go down without a fight. The only question is – who will escape with their life?

 

 

My View:

I found it took me a little while to get “into” this novel. I think the translation was part of that reason – the style a little formal, a little clunky in places.

 

This is a narrative that illuminates the issues many women still face in life today – as being seen a possession, as having a “use by date”, of being “invisible” in the workplace, of not being given credit for ideas/work done. For highlighting and discussing those issues I applaud this read.

 

It is also a very cleverly constructed story of survival and revenge. At times you will find yourself silently applauding the protagonist, its that kind of read. The downfall for me however was that I generally did not like the main characters. I did not like their seeming obsessions with meaningless sex – although I thought just occurred to me – was this the authors deliberate intention – to demonstrate how a set of behaviours – sexual conquests – is mostly accepted in male characters but frowned on in women’s behaviour?  Interesting…clever.

 

An interesting read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Seven Lies – Elizabeth Kay

Seven Lies

Elizabeth Kay

Hachette Australia

Sphere

ISBN:9780751578126

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they fell in love with and married handsome young men. But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.

 

Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t told those lies – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .

 

This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth and, as she narrates their shared history and unpicks each of her seven lies, she reveals the pockets of darkness that have infiltrated their friendship and the toxic secrets still bubbling beneath. It’s a novel about obsession, grief, the dark corners of even the closest friendships and what it means to tell your version of the truth.

 

 

My View:

This is a very disconcerting yet mesmerising read.  The friendships and various relationships depicted in this narrative feel real and everyday yet the behaviour of the protagonist, who slowly morphs into the antihero, (an unusual development in itself) starts out as benign (who wouldn’t tell a little white lie to protect a friend/friendship?) and ends up scarily obsessive and destructive.   The author takes us on a strangely unique journey – from best friend to toxic friend…from the point to f view of the toxic partner.

 

This is a very engaging read and one where a simply depicted act of revenge is disconcerting and horrifying. Snap – a life is over.  This is a very unsettling read.

 

 

Review: Please See Us – Caitlin Mullen

Please See Us

Caitlin Mullen

Gallery Books

Simon and Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781982152581

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

 In this sophisticated, suspenseful debut reminiscent of Laura Lippman and Chloe Benjamin, two young women become unlikely friends during one fateful summer in Atlantic City as mysterious disappearances hit dangerously close to home.

 

Summer has come to Atlantic City but the boardwalk is empty of tourists, the casino lights have dimmed, and two Jane Does are laid out in the marshland behind the Sunset Motel, just west of town. Only one person even knows they’re there.

 

Meanwhile, Clara, a young boardwalk psychic, struggles to attract clients for the tarot readings that pay her rent. When she begins to experience very real and disturbing visions, she suspects they could be related to the recent cases of women gone missing in town. When Clara meets Lily, an ex-Soho art gallery girl who is working at a desolate casino spa and reeling from a personal tragedy, she thinks Lily may be able to help her. But Lily has her own demons to face. If they can put the pieces together in time, they may save another lost girl—so long as their efforts don’t attract perilous attention first. Can they break the ill-fated cycle, or will they join the other victims?

 

Evocative, eerie, and compelling, Please See Us is a fast-paced psychological thriller that explores the intersection of womanhood, power, and violence.

 

My View:

 “I shuffled the deck and the cards stuck together in the humidity…

 The card I drew was the Moon. The card for women. The card meant mystery, confusion, even insanity. But it could also mean knowing, intuition, or a sign that you needed to face what scared you the most…I also needed to believe that magic and meaning sometimes reached into our world. Or else there was just my life – the high school diploma I would never get, the shop, the mangy feral cats, the mother who never wrote anymore, Des coming home from a shift at the club with her pupils huge and glassy, rubbing at her nose.” (p35)

 

This is such a powerful bittersweet read that in its guise of a powerful, suspenseful, murder mystery sheds light on the insidious power of  addiction, of the role of women in society – the  judgement and expectations of “good” women and the “the other kind”,  the business of selling women’s’ bodies…using women bodies for self-gratification, a throw away commodity;

“There’s this flier someone was passing around at the club. One of the other girls gave it to me. A business opportunity.”

   “Okay…”

“Well, it’s this service, right? Where rich men are looking for to…take care of young, attractive women.”

“What do you mean, take care of?”

“Pay you to let them take them out on dates. Buy you nice things, take you out to good dinners”.

“They pay you to let them buy you stuff? Come on Des, that’s not all they’re paying for.” I had lived here my whole life; I’d seen how this kind of thing worked. Young women, in short dresses, getting into the back seats of strangers’ cars, disappearing into the night. In this town of people who wanted to win and drink and take? No way an opportunity for generosity was what they were paying for.” (p30,31)

 

This is such a powerful read and an outstanding murder/mystery.  Aside from the potent discussion about women’s role in society, the male gaze, addiction, women in poverty, mental health and post -natal depression, this is an intoxicating narrative that gives voice to the victims, to the dead. I loved how we got to know the victims before the path they trod led to their death.  The victims were seen for the potential they briefly held, for the innocents they once were, for the daughters, mothers, school kids, friends, family they had been before they became victims.

 

And this is Caitlin Mullen’s debut novel!!! What an exhilarating read. I cannot wait to read more from this author. I predict awards, lots of awards.

 

Review: A Conspiracy of Bones- Kathy Reichs

A Conspiracy of Bones

Temperance Brennan #19

Kathy Reichs

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781760853983

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with a new riveting novel featuring her vastly popular character forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who must use all her tradecraft to discover the identity of a faceless corpse, its connection to a decade-old missing child case, and why the dead man had her cell phone number.

 

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

 

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

 

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue, working mostly outside the system. That’s because Tempe’s new boss holds a fierce grudge against her and is determined to keep her out of the case. Tempe bulls forward anyway, even as she begins questioning her instincts. But the clues she discovers are disturbing and confusing. Was the faceless man a spy? A trafficker? A target for assassination by the government? And why was he carrying the name of a child missing for almost a decade?

 

With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

 

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes…

 

 

My View:

Welcome back Kathy Reichs, it has been a while since we last spoke but I do understand the reason why (and so will you after you finished reading this book). Actually, I think I enjoyed this book even more so because of “the break” between reads and because it has been a long time since I watched the Bones Tv series ( we gave away our TV a few years ago now ) and it was good to read the book and not have visions of the characters of Bones in my head.

 

This read was a little different to the previous eighteen books in this series (what an accomplishment), here Tempe is working on her own (with Skinny Sidell – whom is a valuable ally and important character in this book) after being ousted from her role as coroner.  Tenacious and a with her usual desire to give voice to the victims of murder, she sets out on her quest to discover the identity of a mystery corpse.

 

Twisty, engaging and with a surprising revelation (no spoilers here), you will enjoy this read.