Review: Small Mercies – Richard Anderson

Small Mercies
Richard Anderson
Scribe
ISBN: 9781925849707

Description:
A husband and wife living on a severely drought-afflicted property take a brief break, only to find that their relationship is parched, too.

After enduring months of extreme drought on their modest freehold, farming couple Dimple and Ruthie face uncertain times on more than one front. Ruthie receives the news every woman dreads. Meanwhile, a wealthy landowner, Wally Oliver, appears on the local radio station, warning small farmers like Dimple and Ruthie that they are doomed, that the sooner they leave the land to large operators like him, the better. Bracing for a fight on all fronts, the couple decide to take a road trip to confront Oliver. Along the way, not only is their resolve tested, but their relationship as well.

Desperate not to dwell on the past but to face up to the future, Dimple and Ruthie make a crucial decision they soon regret. And when the storm clouds finally roll in across the land they love, there’s more than the rain to contend with.

Told with enormous heart, Small Mercies is a tender love story. It is a story of a couple who feel they must change to endure, and of the land that is as important as their presence on it.

My View:
Richard Anderson does not disappoint! What a versatile writer able to easily cross the divide of mystery /suspense (Retribution, Boxed) to evocative small-town drama set in realistic physical, economical, moral and political landscapes. This was an engaging and thought provoking read, storytelling at its best, nuanced and credible.

Anderson writes Australian outback with a clarity that comes from personal experience. “Richard Anderson is a second-generation farmer from northern New South Wales. He has been running a beef-cattle farm for twenty-five years, but has also worked as a miner and had a stint on the local council.” (GoodReads author page). The narrative feels biographical, I am sure there are elements of Richard’s own experience of life events, big and small, of farming and local politics that inform his writing. It is in the subtleties of these details of everyday life that Anderson’s writing soars. You can easily place yourself in the setting, in the emotions, in the relationships.

Against this backdrop of hardship and drought a finely drawn story of enduing love is exposed. We are privy to the self-talk and the situations, good and difficult, that all relationships face in varying degrees and we hang in there with them as they struggle to move forward in very difficult circumstances. I really like that this narrative is about mature age, long term married, likable characters, complete with wrinkles and a good dose of humanness. Anderson has taken such care in his portrayal of this couple that we feel privileged to know them and want them to thrive.

This is a timely written narrative with many contemporary social, economic, and personal issues that could be playing out live in a country or regional town near you. This is great reading. I loved it.

Some Very Personal Insights – Fleur McDonald

Recently I read the new release from author Fleur McDonald – Red Dirt Country (review to follow soon) – if you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this author before you are in for a real treat. This series is The Voice in Australian Outback Crime Fiction; wonderful characters, settings to transport you to “other” worlds, crimes to be solved, all peppered with a subtle insights of the society her characters live in.

 

Fleur writes with authenticity. After reading this, her third book in the Detective Dave Burrows series I was motivated to look up Fleur’s website https://www.fleurmcdonald.com/  to learn a little more about her motivation for her writing. Her bio states: “Fleur McDonald has lived and worked on farms for much of her life. After growing up in the small town of Orroroo in South Australia, she became a jillaroo before spending twenty years farming 8000 acres, east of Esperance, WA. Fleur likes to write about strong women overcoming adversity, drawing inspiration from her own experiences in rural Australia… Fleur McDonald is a highly sought after guest speaker. Fleur not only is available to present on the topic of writing, but also across areas she is most passionate about. This includes country life, autism, domestic violence and her non for profit organisation “Breaking the Silence” which tailors Domestic Violence services across Australia.”

I reached out to Fleur and asked her about her interest in Domestic Violence ( a theme that recurs in her novels – sometimes subtly, sometimes loudly).

I was surprised by the honesty of Fleur’s response. Speaking up, speaking out is, in my opinion, essential to breaking the silence of Domestic Violence.  Please listen to Fleur’s response and check out her website.

https://www.fleurmcdonald.com/tag/domestic-violence/

Fleur’s Response:

My involvement in domestic violence came from having lived experience. I understand the fear, shame and self-hatred that comes from living in a house where this occurs. As I understand what it does to the children who are under the same roof.

Domestic and Family violence is very different in country areas, which is something I wanted to highlight, along with the fact that all DFV isn’t physical. There are many parts (emotional, financial, mental and so on) which leave bruises on your soul, rather than your body. That’s where Breaking the Silence got its name.

Breaking the Silence is a not for Profit organisation and website which acts as a directory of all DFV services involved in your town. At the moment, we are only in Esperance and Albany, but by June 2020 we will have another eight towns in Western Australia. By October 2020, we will be offering counselling services either online or by phone.

I started this organisation with my own money and later, as I wanted to expand into other towns, lobbied the federal Government for funding. Minister Hunt saw the benefit in Breaking the Silence and gave an grant which will enable us to get all of Western Australia online and start the counselling services. We intend to branch out into other states in during this time.

The current COVIS-19 crisis will see a rise in DFV rates, there can be no doubt. I wish we were further down the track with the counselling services, than we are, but we are working as quickly as we can to get these services up and running.

 

Thank you Fleur. 

 

Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline – Western Australia
The Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline is a state wide 24 hour service. This service provides support and counselling for women experiencing family and domestic violence. This includes phone counselling, information and advice, referral to local advocacy and support services, liaison with police if necessary and support in escaping situations of family and domestic violence. The service can refer women to safe accommodation if required. A telephone based interpreting service is available if required.
Telephone (08) 9223 1188   Free call 1800 007 339
In an emergency – if someone is in immediate danger – call the police on 000 now.

Review: Fifty Fifty – Steve Cavanagh

Fifty Fifty
Steve Cavanagh
Orion Books
Hachette Australia
ISBN: 9781409185857
RRP $32.99

 

Description:
Two sisters on trial for murder. Both accuse each other.

Who do YOU believe?

Alexandra Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body, and needs the police right away. She believes her sister killed him, and that she is still in the house with a knife.

Sofia Avellino has just found her father’s mutilated body and needs the police right away. She believes her sister, Alexandra did it, and that she is still in the house, locked in the bathroom.

Both women are to go on trial at the same time. A joint trial in front of one jury.

But one of these women is lying. One of them is a murderer. Sitting in a jail cell, about to go on trial with her sister for murder, you might think that this is the last place she expected to be.

You’d be wrong.

My View:
This read left me gobsmacked! What a perfect read.

This is Steve Cavanagh at his very best – and his best is GREAT! This was an unbelievably good read: it will astound you, confuse you and mesmerise you. This read will have you on the edge of your chair, holding your breath, jaws locked as you try and decipher the dual stories of pain and tragedy that end in revenge and bloodshed- so much blood.

Sharp, clever and tension packed. This really was a thrilling read. And no, I didn’t guess/work out who the killer was. I doubt you will either.

Review: None the Wiser- Rachel Amphlett

None the Wiser
Detective Mark Turpin #1
Rachel Amphlett
Saxon Publishing
ISBN: 9781913498191

Description:
What if some secrets were never meant to stay buried?

When a parish priest is brutally murdered in cold blood, a rural community is left in shock – and fear.

New to the Vale of the White Horse, Detective Sergeant Mark Turpin discovers the murder bears the hallmark of a vicious killer who shows no remorse for his victim, and leaves no trace behind.

After a second priest is killed, his broken body bearing similar ritualistic abuse, the police are confronted by a horrifying truth – there is a serial killer at large with a disturbing vendetta.

As fear grips the once tranquil countryside, Mark and his team race to uncover a tangle of dark secrets and lies before the killer strikes again.

In doing so, Mark finds out that the truth is more twisted than he could ever have imagined…

None the Wiser is the first book in a new murder mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett.

‘Fast paced with vivid characterisation and clever twists – this is another winner’
– Adrian McKinty, The Chain

‘A terrific start to a new series’
– Jo Spain, With Our Blessing and The Confession

My View:
I have read a few of Rachel’s previous books – all have been outstanding and this introduction to her new series does not disappoint!

Fast paced with a gruesome and complexing murder, this read will have you considering, pondering and debating the who and why of what at first seems a senseless murder. The “why” really is the key to unravelling this read but if you are anything like me, you will not be able to join the dots; red herrings, twists and more deaths, the plotting is exquisite!

Adding to the engaging and complexing narrative is a cast of very personable protagonists – Rachel Amphlett has succeeded in creating another very “followable” lead investigator in Detective Sergeant Mark Turpin, who is supported by a great cast, including Detective Jan West – together this couple make for great reading and I look forward to reading the next in this series.

Rachel Amphlett never disappoints!

Review: The M Word – Dr Ginni Mansberg

The M Word
How to Thrive in Menopause
Dr Ginni Mansberg
Murdoch Books
ISBN: 9781760524876
RRP $32.99

Description:
A handbook for understanding, embracing and (even) enjoying the rite of passage that is peri-menopause and menopause; outlines the experience, the medical science, treatment options and home remedies; written by a practicing GP and media doctor who has just turned 50 herself.
Night sweats, hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, itchy skin, low libido, painful sex … Ninety per cent of women experience these symptoms some time between the ages of 40 and 60.
Menopause and perimenopause (the hormonal rollercoaster years leading up to a woman’s last period) are among our last taboo subjects. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) – once widely prescribed as the magical secret of youth – has been shunned by women and their doctors for two decades. Dr Ginni Mansberg, one of Australia’s most trusted health and wellbeing experts, is here to work through the evidence and bust the taboos out of the water. The M Word is all about you and your choices. Are you being offered the best solutions for your menopause issues? Because there are great solutions to help you thrive in this new stage of life.

Author bio:
Dr Ginni Mansberg has been a GP for nearly 30 years, specialising in women’s and children’s health. She is a sought-after speaker and an authority on everything from sleep to wellness, life balance to beating stress. Dr Ginni is host of SBS’s eight-part show Medicine or Myth? and Foxtel’s Embarrassing Bodies Down Under, as well as the resident GP on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. She is mother to a blended family of six children and lives and works in Sydney. drginni.com.au (https://www.murdochbooks.com.au/browse/books/health-fitness/health-fitness-1/The-M-Word-Dr-Ginni-Mansberg-9781760524876)

 

My View:
“Menopause is a first world problem” said one female GP that I will l never go back to again. I was at my local doctors’ surgery for something inconsequential and unmemorable…maybe a check-up…and I asked my GP “what can I expect from menopause? How will it affect me? How will I know I am in menopause (silly me – I now realise that this question is obsolete – you WILL know) 😊

I cannot understand this reaction.

Menopause is not often spoken about, why? Surely information/knowledge is power? Dr Ginni Mansberg in her book The M Word – How to Thrive in Menopause – has undone all the harm my ex GP exacted. This book is full of really helpful information in a language that is to digest, that empowers you to take control of your own health and I highly recommend it.

Dr Mansberg: “This is a book that is all about you and your choices.
I have written a book to give you access to the best information we have available today; to answer as many questions as possible, to give you agency over your menopause journey, including the options of HRT. I am not saying you have to take it: I have covered the lifestyle, mind-based, complementary and home remedies out there and a whole lot else, too. Many of these have terrific evidence, and others have a good amount of anecdotal evidence. Some are shockers.” (p.5)

A book for all adults to read.

Read, absorb, take agency of your own health.

 

Review: The Janes – Louisa Luna

The Janes
An Alice Vega Novel
Text Publishing
ISBN:
9781922268495
RRP $29.99

Description:
The electric follow-up to Louisa Luna’s acclaimed thriller Two Girls Down, featuring private investigators Alice Vega and Max Caplan.

On the outskirts of San Diego, the bodies of two young women are discovered. They have no names, no IDs, and no family looking for them. Fearing the possibility of a human trafficking ring, the police and FBI reach out to Alice Vega, a private investigator known for finding the missing, for help in finding out who the Janes were–and finding the others who are missing.
Alice Vega is a powerful woman whose determination is matched only by her intellect, and, along with her partner Cap, she will stop at nothing to find the Janes before it is too late.
Louisa Luna is writing new classics of crime fiction, and her partnership of Vega and Cap is rightfully joining the pantheon of the most memorable in crime fiction.

My View:
I absolutely loved Two Girls Down, the first booking the Alice Vega series and then I read The Janes! What a fabulous sequel, another to add to my “Best of 2020 Crime Fiction Reads” list. Suspend your disbelief before you board this bone rattling, earth shaking, mind blowing, action packed read, destination, SATISFACTION GUARANTEED.

In the Alice Vega titles, Louisa Luna has created a memorable, heroic, female protagonist, Alice Vega – Vega is everything (and more) than the average, male, crime fiction good guy. I love this element of Luna’s work – her hero plays by the same rules as her villains – she is tough, smart, assertive with an aggressive bent. She is not held back by the rules that apply to law enforcement officers, she does as she needs to get results. Fast thinking and fast acting, she is compelled to help those who need her the most and she is not averse to breaking an arm, leg, nose or any other body part to achieve her end result.

Her counterpart is the likable and knowledgeable ex detective Max Caplan aka Cap. He is older, thoughtful, calm, and determined. Vega and Caplan are the perfect team – both compassionate and resolute in their endeavours to solve the most heinous crimes.

Luna has crafted a well written crime fiction narrative to subtly discuss contemporary social and political issues; human trafficking, forced prostitution, drug trafficking and the detention of “illegal immigrants”, corruption…to name a few. Luna tackles all the hard issues, deftly weaving them into this action-packed mystery.

If you are looking for your next exciting, page turning, stay up all night, read, look no further than this thrilling new series, the duo of Vega and Cap will keep you entertained until the very last word.

Review: Two Girls Down – Louisa Luna

Two Girls Down
Alice Vega #1
Louisa Luna
Text Publishing
ISBN: 9781925773644

Description:
Jamie Brandt was not a bad mother. Later she would tell that to anyone who would listen: police, reporters, lawyers, her parents, her boyfriend, her dealer, the new bartender with the knuckle tattoos at Schultz’s, the investigator from California and her partner, and her own reflection in the bathroom mirror, right before cracking her forehead on the sink’s edge and passing out from the cocktail of pain, grief, and fear.

When two sisters disappear from a parking lot while their mother is in Kmart, the devastated family hires bounty hunter Alice Vega to help find the girls. Immediately shut out by a local police department already stretched too thin by budget cuts and the growing meth epidemic, Vega enlists the help of a disgraced former cop, Max Caplan. Cap is a man trying to put the scandal of his past behind him and move on, but Vega needs his help, and she will not be denied.

With little to go on, Vega and Cap will go to extraordinary lengths to untangle a dangerous web of lies, false leads, and complex relationships to find the girls before time runs out, and they are gone forever.

 

My View:
What an explosive, mind blowing read! I loved every minute of this read, the first few pages introduced us to characters that have become my new favourite protagonists. Within the first paragraphs the author captured so many emotions; fear, dread, anticipation and… hope, I could not put the book down.

Louisa Luna is a new to me author – I am so glad I discovered her and this series. This is a book that captured my attention, had me cheering the protagonists on whilst simultaneously dreading the turn of the page and discovering the next complex, difficult and dangerous scenario, had me holding my breath as Alice charged head on into the conflict desperate in her attempt to save the innocent victims …what a read!

This book is easily a contender for my best crime fiction read of 2020 and I cannot wait for The Janes (Alice Vega #2) to be released.