Review: Barrenjoey Road – Neil Mercer& Ruby Jones

Barrenjoey Road

Neil Mercer & Ruby Jones

ABC Books

ISBN: 9780733340468

 

Description:

A gripping expose of a notorious cold case 1978. An idyllic beachside community. A series of abductions and rapes. So what happened to Trudie Adams?

 

The disappearance of 18-year-old Trudie Adams while hitchhiking home on Sydney’s northern beaches in 1978 left her family and community devastated. When police began to investigate, the dark underbelly of the so-called ‘insular peninsula’ was exposed, where surfers ran drugs home from Bali, teenagers hitchhiked everywhere due to the lack of public transport, gangs of men prowled the beaches and the roads, and predators abducted and raped countless young women, crimes rarely reported or investigated.

 

Inspired by the award-winning #1 podcast and ABC TV series and containing new revelations never previously revealed, Barrenjoey Road is the gripping expose of why the case was never solved. It takes us all the way to the top, from a criminal perpetrator with a lifelong record and links to organised crime who was never formally accused, to police corruption at the highest level.

 

 

My View:

Poignant and equally baffling, this is a true crime narrative that is once again too close to home for comfort. You cannot ignore the depiction of innocence tainted with the intrusion of men’s unwanted desires/impulses on the lives of so many young women. And in this read it is not just the perpetrators who are misogynistic and vile, many of the public officers are the same. I do hope life has changed, that standards have been raised, that women’s’ concerns are now listened to and treated with respect. I am hoping for too much? I still hope. I do feel angry.

 

A powerful read made even more so with the inclusion of the carefree photos of the main focus of this story – Trudie Adams. Moving and sad. I wish there were answers. Hopefully the podcast, TV series and the publication of this book will tempt someone to come forward, will niggle at someone’s almost forgotten memories. Rest in peace Trudie.

#metoo

 

 

 

 

Introducing: As Swallow’s Fly- L P McMahon

As Swallows Fly

L P McMahon

Ventura Press

ISBN: 9781920727574

 

Description:

When Malika, a young orphan in rural Pakistan, is savagely attacked, her face is left disfigured and her self-esteem destroyed. Haunted by the assault, she hides from the world, finding solace in her mathematical theories. A few years later, her intellectual brilliance is discovered and she leaves conflict-stricken Pakistan for a better education in Melbourne, where she finds herself placed with Kate—a successful plastic surgeon facing emotional insecurities of her own.

Malika and Kate’s lives slowly intertwine as they find within each other what each has lacked alone. At first, Kate’s skills appear to offer a simple solution to Malika’s anguish, but when tragedy strikes, the price of beauty is found to be much higher than either of them could have known.

As Swallows Fly is a poignant portrayal of survival, identity and empowerment in a culture dominated by the pursuit of perfection. In a captivating and unforgettable debut, McMahon asks what might be possible if we have the courage to be flawed.

 

My View:

This is an amazing 5 star read! This character driven narrative will win your heart and have you staying up way too late to discover how the protagonists, Kate and Malika, resolve their dilemmas and continue their respective lives.

This is a spellbinding read.  Captivating and compelling; the story arcs deftly woven together taking the reader to unfamiliar places and at times harrowing events.  I found it unusual and refreshing that a work of contemporary fiction could be so compelling.

I highly recommend this read.

*****

Let me introduce you to Lawrie McMahon as he discusses A Doctor and writer, a disfigured girl from Pakistan. What’s the story?

My work in Pakistan was in a voluntary capacity, helping out in a small mission hospital in a small town north of Lahore (Gujrat). People of all faiths were always welcome and it was chastening to see the way the villagers lived, what mattered to them, how they dealt with loss (often of their children), and the strictness of the culture. I saw their lives devastated by loss but, in a way beyond my capacity, they were able to continue and even rebuild.  These experiences were all key aspects influencing Malika’s character development. I realise now how the experience and memories have influenced my life too. The memories of that time remain crystal clear. I still find myself wondering what happened to the people I met there – young and old – and how life has changed for them. It remains an ambition to return.”

 

The progression from short stories to this debut….

The difference between short story writing and writing the novel could not have been more different.  I expect it to be the same for most writers. Complexity in both characters and plot were the main practical differences. My short stories focus on defined situations and experiences—the character is etched clearly and quickly, and the narrative progresses in its limited arc to the finish. It must be contained. The novel depends on the characters changing as the novel progresses. We see a much richer version of the humanity and flaws within the person. As a writer, I hope the difference is clear. In addition, the novel raised a whole series of challenges: subplots, subtleties of character and motive as they developed and were given their due. It remains a continued learning experience. A journey, as they say.

 

Thanks so much to Dr Lawrie McMahon and Ventura Press for these insights.

 

#FridayFreebie: Other Peoples Houses – Kelli Hawkins

Other People’s Houses

Kelli Hawkins

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460759226

 

Description:

A stunningly tense, page-turning debut for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

 

Kate Webb still grieves for her young son, ten years after his loss. She spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney’s wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

 

Then Kate visits the Harding house – the perfect house with, it seems, the perfect family. A photograph captures a kind-looking man, a beautiful woman she once knew from university days, and a boy – a boy that for one heartbreaking moment she believes is her own son.

 

When her curiosity turns to obsession, she uncovers the cracks that lie beneath a glossy facade of perfection, sordid truths she could never have imagined.

 

** Thanks to the wonderful people at Harper Collins Australia, I have one copy of this stunning debut to offer you as a giveaway. Simply state the city this book is set in, in the comments. Open to Australian residents only. Winner randomly selected on 19th March 2021.**

 

 

Four-Ingredient Toppings for Baked Salmon -The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers

This is a fantastic book! It has many helpful suggestions including ways to make the IF lifestyle suit your lifestyle ( there is  even an IF guide for the retired couple), some great quick no fuss recipes and a yummy chocolate bark recipe which I will  share with you later.

 


The 16:8 Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle Plan by Jamie Rose Chambers,

Published by Macmillan Australia, RRP $34.99,

Photography by Rob Palmer

 

Four-ingredient toppings for baked salmon

“One of my favourite quick meals for our family when I’m in a bit of a rush and have defrosted or (am lucky to have) some fresh salmon fillets is one of my go-to four-ingredient salmon toppings. It takes less than a couple of minutes to throw the ingredients into a small bowl, drizzle over the top of the salmon fillets and on they go into a hot oven until golden. p. 136”

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with
baking paper and arrange the salmon fillets on the
tray, leaving space between them.

2. Choose a flavour topping and mix all of the
ingredients in a small bowl.

3. Drizzle or spoon the flavour topping evenly on top of
each salmon fillet. Some toppings will be thick and
sit on top of the salmon, others will be runny and
will pool around the base of the salmon fillet. Both
types will be delicious.

4. Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes for medium,
or longer if you like your salmon well done.

 

1.Yoghurt and herbs:
150 g Greek-style yoghurt (no-fat, low-fat or full-fat yoghurt will all work here)
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill fronds
juice of ½ small lemon
sea salt

2. Coconut korma:
150 g coconut yoghurt
2 tablespoons korma paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon desiccated coconut

 

3.Garlic, mustard and lemon
1 tablespoon minced garlic
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons dijon mustard

4.Soy and sesame:
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

 

 

 

Review: Other Peoples Houses – Kelli Hawkins

Other People’s Houses

Kelli Hawkins

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9781460759226

 

Description:

A stunningly tense, page-turning debut for all fans of The Woman in the Window and The Girl on the Train The perfect house. The perfect family. Too good to be true.

 

Kate Webb still grieves for her young son, ten years after his loss. She spends her weekends hungover, attending open houses on Sydney’s wealthy north shore and imagining the lives of the people who live there.

 

Then Kate visits the Harding house – the perfect house with, it seems, the perfect family. A photograph captures a kind-looking man, a beautiful woman she once knew from university days, and a boy – a boy that for one heartbreaking moment she believes is her own son.

 

When her curiosity turns to obsession, she uncovers the cracks that lie beneath a glossy facade of perfection, sordid truths she could never have imagined.

 

 

My View:

I don’t think I have come across such a unique narrator and unique plot; a mostly functioning alcoholic whose life is coloured with the raw grief of loss. Kate Webb is the most unreliable narrator I have come across yet her world is credible, the self-destructive behaviours understandable as her grief transcends her weak desire to function and exist in the world.

 

But this is not just a book about alcoholism and grief. Without giving away too much, this is a book about domestic violence in its worse form, its is about murders and psychopaths, about control, about relationships, about the glimmer of hope that just might sustain; it is a read where the nothing is as it seems.

 

And it is a read that will keep you up all night until you have discovered the truths. This is a compelling read and I will admit to shedding a silent tear as I finished this.

 

 

Review: Change Your Thinking to Change Your Life – Kate James

Change Your Thinking to Change Your Life

Kate James

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760787738

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

Many of us experience feelings of being stuck in the wrong life and disconnected from our true selves.

Australian mindfulness expert and bestselling author Kate James has coached thousands of clients in similar situations.

Now, Kate introduces us to a range of techniques, based on her knowledge of mindfulness, positive psychology, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), creativity and neuropsychology, that will help us clarify our goals, realise our purpose and connect more fully with the wonder of life.

Change Your Thinking to Change Your Life will help you to:

– get to know yourself well

– overcome the thoughts and beliefs that inhibit inner peace and limit you in your life choices

– find your way to your version of a fulfilling life.

This is the perfect companion for negotiating transformation in an unsettled age.

Praise for Change Your Thinking to Change Your Life

‘Kate James is such an honest, warm and generous teacher. Read this book and you’ll be learning from one of the very best.’ Clare Bowditch

‘Kate’s writing is immensely practical. Rich with compassion and insight from her many years as a therapist, her books always offer life-enhancing tools that may be applied right away. Transformational wisdom at its best!’ David Michie, author of Hurry Up and Meditate.

 

My View:

This is a book that you will read piece by piece, or all the way through or just some of it depending on your individual life journey and how well you know yourself already.  And you will read it again and then read it some more.

 

A highlight for me – Chapter Eighteen – Boost Your optimism – is one we can all easily follow.  The exercises (which actually just read as common sense), give everyday easy to actualise, guidance on practicing gratitude to balance the negative bias of the brain. “The remedy is not to supress negative experiences; when they happen, they happen.  Rather, it is to foster positive experiences – and in particular, to take them in so they became a permanent part of you.” (p166 Buddhas’ Brain, Rick Hanson). Well said. Practice makes change.

 

This guide – and yes, it is a guide – is full of helpful exercises, written in accessible, positive language. This is a book that I will keep by my bed and pick up and read, often, over and over. I have highlighted so many paragraphs in this book that I want to return to later.

 

PS I love the cover art.

 

Review: Crackenback – Lee Christine

Crackenback

Lee Christine

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760878900

RRP $ 29.99

 

Description:

A thrilling tale of snow-bound crime and suspense, from the bestselling author of Charlotte Pass.

Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is on the hunt for notorious fugitive Gavin Hutton.

After months of dead-ends, the breakthrough Ryder has been hoping for leads him back to the New South Wales Snowy Mountains on the trail of the suspected killer.

Meanwhile, when an injured man bursts into the remote Thredbo lodge managed by Eva Bell, her first instinct is to protect her daughter, Poppy. The terrifying arrival of Jack Walker turns Eva’s world upside down as the consequences of Jack’s presence become clear.

With a killer on the loose, Jack Walker and Ryder are tangled in the same treacherous web – spun across the perilously beautiful Crackenback Range.

 

My View:

Superb reading!

I feel like my reading year has really started well, this is another 5-star read and a book I will be recommending to all my crime fiction reading friends. How did I miss book one, “Charlotte Pass”? Luckily it is not essential to have read book one before you read book 2, the author does a great job of recounting many salient points so that you will not be lost.  I will definitely keep a look out for book 3 and put this author on my “Must Read” list.

 

I did enjoy this one; empathetic characters, wonderful settings (I will visit the areas mentioned in the book – one day), and a gripping narrative that had me staying up way past a reasonable bed time just so I could finish this…such a great read this was.

 

I highly recommend this read to all lovers of great, character based, crime fiction. Lee Christine, I look forward to book 3.

#FridayFreebie: The Paris Affair – Pip Drysdale

The Paris Affair

Pip Drysdale 

Simon & Schuster

 

https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/The-Paris-Affair/Pip-Drysdale/9781760854324 

She thinks love can kill you. It turns out she might be right. The dark and sexy new thriller from the bestselling author of The Sunday Girl and The Strangers We Know.

Harper Brown is an expert at picking locks, breaking her way out of car boots, talking her way out of trouble and she could run a masterclass on escaping relationships – her record for losing a guy is three minutes flat. She’s addicted to true crime podcasts and is the genius behind a micro-column called ‘How to not get murdered’.

After having her heart broken helping her ex follow his dreams, Harper has moved to Paris to fulfill hers. She’s talked her way into a job as an arts journalist, a stepping stone to her dream role as an investigative journalist. All she has to do is whatever it takes to get there. But then one night she meets the artist Noah X, and everything she thinks she knows is turned upside down.

Soon Harper finds herself entangled in a web of lies, hot on the trail of a murderer and the scoop of a lifetime. This is the story that could make her career – if the killer doesn’t catch her first.

*** I have one copy of the fabulous The Paris Affair  to give away – for your chance to win simply  leave a comment on this post with the title of another book written by Pip Drysdale. How easy is that? Entries open to Australian residents only, entries close  28th February 2021.  Thanks to the lovely people at Simon & Schuster and to the author for providing  this giveaway. ***