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: 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 *****

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

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: Japan- Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh

Japan: A curated guide to the best sights, food, culture & art

Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh

Pan Macmillan Australia

Plum

ISBN:9781760787646

RRP $44.99

Description;

There is something about Japan that works its way into every fibre of your being. No matter how many times you visit, you’ll always uncover new experiences and life-altering adventures.

Pack your bags and travel with us to a country rich in cultural history and full of fascinating contrasts, from the frantic pace of Tokyo and Osaka, to the wintry soul of Hokkaido in the north and the natural wonders of Kyushu in the south. Navigate the dynamic cities, walk the roads of old Japan in Kyoto, Nara, Kanazawa and Nikko, or go off-grid to smaller, far-flung towns, each with their own unique traditions, crafts, sights, food and art.

Packed with cultural insights and stunning photography, this experiential and eclectic guide takes you on a deeper journey into Japan. Read up on history and local knowledge before you go, learn how to navigate the Shinkansen (bullet train), contemplate modern art and architecture, lose yourself in gardens, shrines and temples, and indulge in the best food tourism of your life. This tightly curated list of must-see places and experiences is for people who want to get an up close and personal look at the real Japan.

My View:

When I opened this book and started to examine some of the wonderful images ( presented more like a coffee travel book than a travel book) I felt an immediate urge to travel – something I have not felt at all during these years of COVID 19 uncertainty and restrictions.

This book has it all; glorious scenery, arts, history, food, beer, culture….I want to visit Japan 🙂

Guest Review: A Royal Visit To Victory Street – Pam Howes

A Royal Visit to Victory Street

(The Bryant Sisters #5)

Pam Howes

 Bookouture

ISBN:9781800197930

Description;

From Amazon charts bestseller Pam Howes comes an emotional and uplifting saga about the power of family and a community trying to rebuild their lives after the terrible war that nearly destroyed everything…

1956, Liverpool. With the shadow of the war looming over them and bomb craters littering the surrounding streets, hope feels far away for the residents of Victory Street. When they learn that the Queen has chosen to visit them on a tour of Liverpool, the delighted neighbours bring back the wartime spirit. Can they possibly get the street ready in time?

Even a royal visit cannot take away Bella Harrison’s worries. Her son, fourteen-year-old Levi, has just told her he wants to move to America to join the rest of his father’s family. The news has so shocked Bella that she’s not sure she’ll be able to sing for the Queen, jeopardising all their plans for the big day.

Life has been hard for Levi, growing up as a mixed-race boy in Liverpool, but he’s the light of Bella’s life. The thought of losing him brings back the terrible memories of losing her father and sister during the war. If everyone pulls together make the Queen’s visit an unforgettable celebration, perhaps she can persuade Levi that Victory Street is where he belongs.

But when Levi receives heartbreaking news from America and his move becomes uncertain, Bella starts to wonder if all her efforts to keep him in Liverpool have been for the right reasons. Can Bella find it in herself to sing for the big celebration, and make the right choice for her beloved son?

A totally unputdownable, heart-wrenching historical novel, packed with family secrets, perfect for fans of Dilly Court, Diney Costeloe and Nancy Revell.

Brenda’s View:
It was 1956 in Liverpool when Mary learned the plans of Queen Elizabeth II, and her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, when they were going to visit Victory Street, during their tour of Liverpool. Mary took charge of the organisation to have Victory Street tidied up, making it fit for the royal visit. Lizzie, Mary’s small granddaughter, was going to present a bouquet of flowers to the Queen, and rehearsal for her was going well. Lizzie was deaf but she and all those around her knew signing, so she communicated well.

Bella and the other two Bryant Sisters would perform, as they had during the war, as well as her eldest son, Levi, and his two friends. Levi was keen to become a singer and his small band was having success with the concerts they joined in. The admiration Levi held for the new bands from the US as well as locally, with John Lennon doing well saw him anxious not to go on with schooling. He wanted to work to earn money and make his dreams come true. Would they manage to get Victory Street ready in the short time they had? Would their plans be successful?

A Royal Visit to Victory Street is the 5th in The Bryant Sisters series by Pam Howes (and perfect timing after current events) and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was wonderful to catch up with Bella and the girls, learn more about Levi, Earl, Bobby and their integrated family, as well as the strong, determined and stalwart Mary, matriarch of the family. I love this author’s work and I have no hesitation in highly recommending A Royal Visit to Victory Street (along with the series).

Note: The blurb is misleading, as from the second paragraph down, it’s pretty much all wrong.

With thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

A 5 star read!

Review: Wake – Shelley Burr

Wake

Shelley Burr

Hachette Australia

ISBN:9780733647826

Description:

EVERYBODY THINKS THEY KNOW MINA McCREERY.
EVERYONE HAS A THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED TO HER SISTER.
NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH…

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

Superbly written, taut and compassionate, Wake looks at what can happen when people’s private tragedies become public property, and the ripples of trauma that follow violent crimes. Wake won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019

My View:

Without doubt THE BEST crime fiction read of the year, in fact I could say the best I’ve read in may years!!! I don’t think I need to say anymore, do your self a favour, reignite your thirst for books, read this.

5 STARS *****

Review: The Journey: A Big Panda and Tiny Dragon Adventure – James Norbury

The Journey: Big Panda Tiny Dragon Adventure

James Norbury

Michael Joseph

Penguin Random House

ISBN:9780241585382

RRP $35.00

Description:

The beautifully illustrated new adventure from cherished friends and Sunday Times bestsellers BIG PANDA AND TINY DRAGON

‘James has a way to speak to your soul. This book is nothing short of comforting and heartwarming’ VEX KING
‘While the drawings have the charm of Winnie-the-Pooh, the captions have the depth of ancient proverbs’ GUARDIAN
‘A beautifully illustrated book which draws on tender moments. Exquisite’ DR RANGAN CHATTERJEE
__________

‘We shall go on a journey, across the river . . .’

Join Big Panda and Tiny Dragon as they set off on an extraordinary adventure in this companion to the global bestselling phenomenon Big Panda and Tiny Dragon.

Although content in their temple high up in the mountains, Tiny Dragon realises that something feels incomplete. So it is that they decide to make a journey together, to new and distant lands.

As they encounter dangers and challenges, they learn that everything they need is already inside them and that change, though sometimes scary, is possible and, with patience, can lead to better things.

Inspired by Buddhist philosophy and spirituality, the story of these whimsical characters makes the perfect gift for anyone looking for a little hope and comfort.
__________

‘If we have to be lost,’ said Big Panda, ‘I am glad it is with you . . .’ 

My View:

Absolutely beautiful- in every way! The narrative so calm and honest and true, the illustrations – divine.

Buy this for yourself – you will so enjoy! Buy as a gift for anyone needing a bit of a boost, buy for you creative friends – they will love the art within these pages.

5 stars

Review: The Girl in the Green Dress -Dr Jeni Haynes and Dr George Blair – West

The Girl in the Green Dress

Dr Jeni Haynes & Dr George Blair-West

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644856

RRP $32.99

Description:

An unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live shows how MPD or DID saved her life. It is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to have one personality. I didn’t realise that having lots of voices in your head was abnormal. But you are protecting yourself. You are protecting your soul, and that’s what I did.’

An intelligent, poised woman, Jeni Haynes sat in court and listened as the man who had abused her from birth, a man who should have been her protector, a man who tortured and terrified her, was jailed for a non-parole period of 33 years. The man was her father.

The abuse that began when Jeni was only a baby is unimaginable to most. It was physically, psychologically and emotionally sadistic and never-ending. The fact she survived may be called a miracle by some – but the reality is, it is testament to the extraordinary strength of Jeni’s mind.

What saved her was the process of dissociation – Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) – a defence mechanism that saw Jeni create over 2500 separate personalities, or alters, who protected her as best they could from the trauma. This army of alters included four-year-old Symphony, teenage motorcycle-loving Muscles, elegant Linda, forthright Judas and eight-year-old Ricky.

With her army, the support of her psychiatrist Dr George Blair-West, and a police officer’s belief in her, Jeni fought to create a life for herself and bring her father to justice. In a history-making ruling, Jeni’s alters were empowered to give evidence in court. In speaking out, Jeni’s courage would see many understand MPD for the first time.

THE GIRL IN THE GREEN DRESS is an unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. This is a unique and profoundly important book as it is not only a story of survival, it also includes incredible insight from Dr George Blair-West, Jeni’s psychiatrist and an expert in DID.

My View:
What an incredible read! Reading with one hand over your eyes…blocking out the horrific parts (dont worry you are given written notice of “triggers ahead”), this book is … amazing! The strength, the resilience, the power that Jeni now has in her life is such a contrast to that she had as a child.

I am calling this the best read of the year; powerful, evocative, sensitively written… a book that sheds the light on Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder – the coping mechanism Jeni employed to protect herself from the atrocities she faced. If you get the opportunity watch this video. Hear Jeni and some of her “alters” speaks. So glad you made it through Jeni.

Review: So You Want to Live Younger Longer? – Dr Norman Swan

So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Dr Norman Swan

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733648342

RRP $34.99

Description:

The ultimate guide on what you can do at any age to stay young and healthy longer, from Australia’s trusted, straight-talking doctor and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, bestselling author of So You Think You Know What’s Good for You?

Many of us dream of staying as young as possible as long as possible whether we’re in our 30s, 40s, 70s or even 80s, and there’s a growing Conga line of products and people offering you just that dream. The dilemma is, which of the pills, mental and physical exercise programs, diets and superfoods actually work? Some of them do help to keep us young, healthy and living longer, others may work when the researchers get the potions right and some are a downright waste of money. So how do you know what and who to trust? That’s the journey that Dr Norman Swan is going to take you on in So You Want to Live Younger Longer?

Deeply researched and written with his trademark wit, common sense and accessibility, Norman brings together what’s known, not known, hopeful but not harmful and harmful and not hopeful, summarised with quick takeaway messages backed up by the science and evidence. No matter what your age, So You Want to Live Younger Longer? gives you the information you need to make your own choices without wasting your time and money or even missing a nice dinner because you might be on a diet that is getting you nowhere.

Norman disentangles our ‘Book of Life’ – the genes we’re born with and what we subject them to later on – and shows that in the search for youth, genes matter much less than you’d think for most of us. In other words, we can overwrite our personal Book of Life and Norman’s book will help you do it.

We can live younger, longer – at any age – we’ve just got to know what to do.

My View:

An excellent, informative, well written, engaging read. So much science based, researched information presented with wit and humour. This is an author I would love to hear speak in person…his ability to connect with the reader/the room is amazing.

A great read.