Best Crime Fiction Reads of 2020

2020 was a year of unprecedented events and changes. For me I became more involved in my art than in reading but still read around eighty books. There were some stand outs which I will share with you over the next few days.

In no particular order – all great reads.

 

Please See Us: Caitlin Mullen

 

 

Long Bright River: Liz Moore 

 

 

The Janes: Louisa Luna

 

The Silent Wife – Karin Slaughter 

Summerwater: Sarah Moss 

The Good Turn  – Dervla McTiernan 

The Familiar Dark  – Amy Engel 

Red Dirt Country – Fleur McDonald

Trust – Chris Hammer 

House of Correction – Nicci French   

 

 

Review: Dog – Shaun Tan

Dog

Shaun Tan

Allen & Unwin

ISBN:981760526139

RRP $19.99

 

Description:

A beautifully poignant gift book exploring the relationship between man and man’s best friend, from the masterful Shaun Tan.

One day I threw my stick at you.

You brought it back.

Then we were walking side by side

as if it had always been this way.

World-renowned artist and storyteller Shaun Tan reflects on the nature of humans and animals in this exquisitely illustrated fable about owner and Dog. A perfect little gift book from an extraordinary talent.

 

My View:

This book clearly illustrates the power of pictures and words – this is such a simply presented yet powerfully poignant read – all dog lovers will be able to relate to this and those who have lost dogs will smile that bittersweet smile, you know the one, the one that says “yes, I get it. I understand. I miss you.” (And perhaps they will shed a silent tear in memory of their best friend, as I did).

A beautiful read.

 

Review: In the Bush Book and Jigsaw Puzzle – Roland Harvey

In the Bush Book and Jigsaw Puzzle

Roland Harvey

Allen & Unwin

                ISBN: 9781760878429

RRP $19.99

Ages 5-10

 

Description:

A fabulously entertaining book and jigsaw gift set from one of Australia’s favourite illustrators.

 

Wombat Flat’s the best!

We camped out near the Cascades, stayed up all night to see the sunrise, nearly got snowed in at Mt Misery … and rode across the Razorback.

And a squillion other things that you’ll find out when you come with us to Wombat Flat.

 

A delightful book and puzzle gift set of an Australian classic for the whole family to enjoy. The 400mm x 490mm jigsaw comprises 150 pieces.

 

https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/childrens/In-the-Bush-Book-and-Jigsaw-Puzzle-Roland-Harvey-9781760878429

 

 

My View:

This book and puzzle combination were something I was very excited to receive; previous to this I have only discovered one other similar combination, this is such a rare and wonderful find. Puzzles for this age group (150 pieces) are rare, it seems there are plenty of toddler age-appropriate puzzles everywhere you look; floor puzzles, wooden peg puzzles, children’s’ tv character related puzzles, puzzles of a maximum of about 20 pieces but puzzles that are suitable for the next age group – pre-schoolers are a hidden gem and I am glad I have discovered one more to add to the collection.

 

The puzzle component of this combination gift pack (excellent for Christmas – you still have time to order) has 150 pieces – perfect for those inquisitive minds; perhaps read the hilariously funny hardback book first then work on the puzzle together, discussing sections as you complete. This is a great resource – such a fun way to develop those comprehension, language and fine motor skills.

 

Review: Pea + Nut Go For Gold – Matt Stanton

Pea + Nut Go For Gold

Matt Stanton

ABC Books

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780733340680

RRP $17.99

 

Description:

Meet Pea and Nut: best friends and also … best rivals!

 

When a chilled-out panda and a hyperactive flamingo go head to head, there can be only one winner.

 

Pea the panda relaxes by the pool. Nut the flamingo doesn’t do relaxing. It’s time for a race, and this time Nut is going for gold!

 

The second book in the hilarious bestselling series featuring two adorable oddballs by bestselling author Matt Stanton.

 

 

PRAISE FOR MATT STANTON’S BOOKS

 

‘humour is injected into every page’ – Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Reading Time

 

‘Witty, silly, and interactive … A rollicking read for children and adults alike’ – Kirkus Reviews

 

 

My View:

What more can I add than this book made my 4 year old grandson laugh out loud and that is a sound I never grow tired of hearing.

With bright colourful images and humour on every page plenty of material here to enjoy or to start conversations.

 

Fun, colurful and delightful.

 

 

Review: Christmas Tales – Willaim McInnes

William McInnes

Christmas Tales

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644733

RRP $32.99

Description:

‘Tis the season to be jolly! One of Australia’s favourite storytellers is back with a collection of stories about everyone’s favourite family holiday.

 

I can’t help it if I’m a boring conservative dag, but I love Christmas, always have and hopefully always will. Whatever brand of faith you fly under, even if you proclaim you don’t have one, Christmas is a time of generosity, good citizenship and decency.

It’s the holiday where shopping centres become a sea of dazed shoppers bearing checklists as long as your arm, lunch is a never-ending buffet of prawns and ham and your electricity bill is doubly struck by having to run the fan all day and keep those decorative lights blinking through the night.

William McInnes, bestselling author of FATHERHOOD, WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA, and A MAN’S GOT TO HAVE A HOBBY tackles the silly season in a way only he can – telling stories brimming with good humour and nostalgia, to remind us what Christmas is all about: family.

 

My View:

One-part cheekiness, one-part fun and one-part memoir, this read is entertaining, hilarious, poignant at times and so relatable.

I really enjoy William McInnes writing style; a mix of witty storytelling (I do wish I could be one of your dinner guests one day, it would be so fun to hear you reminisce), stream of consciousness insights into the life, escapades and thoughts of this popular Australian actor and writer as he recounts Christmas past.

 

There is wonderful recounting of childhood innocence as Christmas is explored; the gift giving, the myths of Santa (in his many guises), family fun and rituals and then we are privileged to hear more anecdotes, more memories, sweet and bitter sweet.

 

William McInnes is a natural writer and I enjoy his “tell all” style and humour.

Review: The Unwilling Twin – Freya Blackwood

The Unwilling Twin

Freya Blackwood

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460757536

RRP $24.99

 

Description:

THE NEW PICTURE BOOK FROM SEVEN-TIME CBCA BOOK OF THE YEAR WINNER FREYA BLACKWOOD

Jules and George are the same in every way.

 

It is quite impossible to tell them apart.

 

Like all twins, Jules and George do everything together. But after a long, hot day at the beach, even twins sometimes disagree …

 

From multi-award-winning picture book creator Freya Blackwood comes a cheeky and charming story about the ups and downs of sibling love.

 

 

My View:

This is a fun, silly and entertaining read that all pre -schoolers are bound to love. I like the sense of humour here, the simple yet elegant illustrations that capture the emotions and the day; the feel of the breeze on the twins faces, the chaos of the beach…simple yet very effective verbal and visual storytelling, this is a great read. There is plenty of good material here for “re telling” (one of the early stages of learning to read is where you first read the book to the child then the child looks for visual clues, uses memory, comprehension skills and their imagination, when they “re tell” the story back to you). This is a great read that has many opportunities for your pre  -schooler develop their language and comprehension skills when they talk to you about the story.

 

A fun and educational read.

Review: Something Like This – Karly Lane

Something Like This

Karly Lane

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760529253

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

A spellbinding new rural romance from the bestselling author of the Callahans of Stringybark Creek trilogy and Fool Me Once.

 

 

Jason Weaver just wants to be left alone. It was a tough transition from his army days to civilian life, and he’s looking forward to settling into a solitary life.

 

Tilly Hollis is working two jobs to save for her dream career: running an equine therapy program. Tilly loves her horses more than anything, and after losing her husband and business partner just a few years earlier, she’s determined to make it work on her own.

 

When Jason walks into the cafe where Tilly works, they’re immediately drawn to one another. But can they overcome their pasts to find a future together?

 

 

My View:

I have had a few very restless/sleepless nights recently and so the last time I found myself still awake past midnight a pick up my copy of Something Like This and settled in to read for an hour or so before I went back to bed and sleep, I hoped. This was a major mistake. 173 pages later I did not want to put this book down!  I looked at the clock – gone 3 (well to be honest – it was a bit later than that but I am not admitting to that) 😊  I sighed and decided I really had to try and get some sleep, so reluctantly I left the book on the table and went back to bed, yes I did get a few hours sleep.

 

I loved this read!  The main characters were so engaging, their back stories poignant and heartbreaking yet not melodramatic, their everyday life relatable with an appeal that connects to the reader – this is a fabulous character driven narrative. There is more to this narrative than rural romance; this is a multi-faceted exploration of loss, grief, families, second chances and courage, the everyday courage of getting up and facing each new day when you least feel like it. It’s about cancer, about the aftermath of war, about hope, faith and building trust…and therapy horses, set in the back drop of small rural town life.

 

 

PS – I am even quoted on the back of this book 🙂

 

Review: You Will Rise – Sjana Elise Earp

You Will Rise

Sjana Elise Earp

Ebury Illustrated

Penguin Teen

ISBN: 9781760897864

RRP$32.99

 

Description:

The debut collection from nature-loving yogi and Instagram phenomenon Sjana Elise Earp, featuring 150 of her uplifting poems.

 

For the light seekers and the love givers. This one is for you.

 

For anyone who has ever loved and lost. This one is for you.

 

For the sensitive souls, the magic makers, the time takers. This one is for you.

 

May this book brighten your shadows, illuminate your path and walk you home to yourself.

 

Sjana Elise Earp inspires thousands of people around the world with her infectiously joyful approach to life. But happiness hasn’t always come easily. During her recovery from her experiences of anxiety and depression, writing has been Sjana’s tool to reflect, find gratitude and grow through her emotions. Now, she’s ready to share her vulnerability in her first published collection of poems and photography, and help lift up her sisters too.

 

Dip in during moments when inspiration or comfort is needed, or take a cover-to-cover journey through Sjana’s tender words and beautiful images of nature’s wonders. Either way, you’ll feel grounded, calmer and more connected to the unique power within you. And you, too, will rise.

 

 

My View:

This is a beautifully produced, photographed and moving read. Inspirational, meditative and calming…I am sure there is something here for most people.

 

This is my favourite quote from the book:

 

“Whatever you do, do it with your whole heart. Do it with your

whole soul. Do it with meaning. Do it with intention. Do it

with grace. Do it with lightness and do it with love. Do it with

thought. Do it with compassion and do it with kindness.” P 47

 

This will make a fabulous Christmas gift for someone you love.

 

 

 

 

 

##Friday Freebie: The Shearer’s Wife – Fleur McDonald

 

Thanks to the fabulous people at Allen & Unwin I have 2 copies of this excellent book to give away.  I f you have never read a Fleur McDonald book here is your opportunity to win a copy and see for yourself why I love this series so much.

In the comments simply tell me the name of the protagonist in this series. **This giveaway is open to Australian residents only. 2 randomly selected winners will be drawn on  3/12/020**

Review: Fortune and Glory – Janet Evanovich

 

Fortune and Glory

Stephanie Plum #27

Janet Evanovich

ISBN: 9781472246196

Headline Review

Hachette Australia

 

Description:

The twenty-seventh entry in the #1 New York Times bestselling series isn’t just the biggest case of Stephanie Plum’s career. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.

 

When Stephanie’s beloved Grandma Mazur’s new husband died on their wedding night, the only thing he left her was a beat-up old easy chair…and the keys to a life-changing fortune.

 

But as Stephanie and Grandma Mazur search for Jimmy Rosolli’s treasure, they discover that they’re not the only ones on the hunt. Two dangerous enemies from the past stand in their way—along with a new adversary who’s even more formidable: Gabriela Rose, a dark-eyed beauty from Little Havana with a taste for designer clothes. She’s also a soldier of fortune, a gourmet cook, an expert in firearms and mixed martial arts—and someone who’s about to give Stephanie a real run for her money.

 

Stephanie may be in over her head, but she’s got two things that Gabriela doesn’t: an unbreakable bond with her family and a stubborn streak that will never let her quit.

 

She’ll need both to survive because this search for “fortune and glory” will turn into a desperate race against time with more on the line than ever before. Because even as she searches for the treasure and fights to protect her Grandma Mazur, her own deepest feelings will be tested—as Stephanie could finally be forced to choose between Joe Morelli and Ranger.

 

My View:

Another entertaining, fun and at times, salacious read. Stephanie Plum falls, drops out of windows, headbutts the bad guy, runs through rat infested tunnels and generally attracts chaos and mayhem where ever she goes.  This is a fun light read that is guaranteed to make you smile and think about Ranger (or Morelli  or both) 😊