Review: The Wattle Island Book Club

The Wattle Island Book Club
Sandie Docker
Penguin Random House

My View:

Outstanding!!!

Add this author to your must read list. Do it.

Written with finesse, with gentle words, with kindness, gratitude and positivity, this book brought a few tears to my eye – and that was a good thing.

From the outset I knew this was going to be a read that would take me to uncomfortable places, I was expecting some of the scenarios presented here – but not all of them. Although tinged with sadness, a bitter sweet ending, I am so pleased the author wasn’t tempted to make this a (unrealistic) happy ever after.

It was indeed sad. It was indeed thought provoking. I did shed a (few) tears. But it was a stronger read for the realistic, poignant, ending. Bravo!!

Synopsis:

Guest Review: At The End of the Day – Liz Byrski

At the End of the Day

Liz Byrski

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760987893

Pam’s View:

I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.

The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.

This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.

The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.

New Releases 15 Sept 2021

I am busily engaged in Margaret River Open Studios as some of you will be aware, the TBR continues to grow so I thought I would do a quick shout out to the new releases that are sitting on the top of my TBR. I have started the new book from Sandie Docker “The Wattle Island Book Club” (Penguin Random House)- and am loving it.

” A Journalist Infiltrate the Police: Cop” by Valentin Gendrot (Scribe) looks intriguing,

“The Banksia House Breakout” (Ventura Press) from debut author James Roxburgh sounds like a fun and enlightening.

“Brainwaves” from Ziggy Alberts (Commonfolk Publishing) – poetry and prose that you can carry in your bag or pop in your pocket and read when you have a few minutes – inspirational prose.

brainwaves
is a polite request
an invitation into
a vulnerable relationship
between the writer
and the reader
it is an ode
to word of mouth
to paper pages
to hard copies
handed to strangers
shared with lovers
kept with family
to taking chances on books
without knowing
the entirety of its contents first
to do and practice just that
of which we do so little of today
with books and relationships alike.
brainwaves
was not made for the internet
it was made for you

I hope you find something on my TBR that might interest you.

New Release: The Heron’s Cry – Ann Cleeves

The Heron’s Cry (Two Rivers #2)

Ann Cleeves

Macmillan

ISBN: 9781509889679

RRP $32.99

Description:

Ann Cleeves—New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows—returns with the extraordinary follow-up to The Long Call, in the Two Rivers series, soon to be a major TV series too.

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr. Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr. Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved, though, to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew soon finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home.

My View:

Sit back and take an armchair vacation to the seaside towns of Ann Cleeves latest book in the Two River series.  This is another solid read from the critically acclaimed Ann Cleeves and I can visualise this as a TV series – this read is made for tv (in my opinion); with characters you can almost reach out and touch, settings that will take you away from your own loungeroom on a journey to the English countryside/seaside towns that Cleeves writes so well.  If I had to sum up this book in two words I would say “Midsomer Murders”; it has characters whose journey you will be keen to follow, towns, settings you will come to know and satisfying resolutions. This is a series you will be keen to follow.

Sneak Peek – Joes Family Food – Joe Wicks

Joe’s Family Food

Joe Wicks

Pan Macmillan

Bluebird

Pre order here

Joe’s Family Food will be available at the end of the month (pre order now) I will be sharing 3 recipes:

Broccoli Carbonara

Indian Spiced Chickpea Burgers and

Chocolate, Pear and Oat Breakfast Tray

Stay Tuned!

Review: In Moonland – Miles Allinson

In Moonland

Miles Allinson

Scribe

ISBN: 9781925322927

Description:

‘A parent’s love for a child, you probably know this yourself, it’s pretty bottomless. It goes down into the guts of the world. But a child’s love for a parent is different. It goes up. It’s more ethereal. It’s not quite present on the earth.’

In present-day Melbourne, a man attempts to piece together the mystery of his father’s apparent suicide, as his young family slowly implodes. At the ashram of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, in 1976, a man searching for salvation must confront his capacity for violence and darkness. And in a not-too-distant future, a woman with a life-altering decision to make travels through a climate-ravaged landscape to visit her estranged father.

In Moonland is a portrait of three generations, each grappling with their own mortality. Spanning the wild idealism of the 70s through to the fragile hope of the future, it is a novel about the struggle for transcendence and the reverberating effects of family bonds. This long-awaited second outing from Miles Allinson, the multi-award-winning author of Fever of Animals, will affirm his reputation as one of Australia’s most interesting contemporary fiction writers, and urge us to see our own political and environmental reality in a new light.

My View:

A book that is literally in four parts.

And perhaps that makes reviewing this the hardest thing; the parts. I found the first section mildly intriguing, yes there is sadness, a mystery, a family experiencing relationship issues. I liked the writing in the first person – it felt a little like reading the protagonists diary – I enjoyed this style and the quirky characters encountered.

For me part two was the most interesting. The trip to India (fathers), the life in the cult, the “fly on the wall” experiences the author shares with you and that mystery, the shocking revelation … and others of family violence, abuse…. which leads us to part 3 – more of the discoveries of events in India told by bystanders or others involved. Memory is an interesting thing.” We’d made up our minds a long time ago, hadn’t we?  That was the agreement. You were my brother and that’s what you wanted. So I knew the script pretty well. I half believed it anyway, after all those years. I said my lines. I wasn’t bad…” p 198.

For me the first three sections were enough to convey the story, to expose some incredible secrets and to discuss generational violence, sins and secrets. The “hippy era” was very interesting. The reflections on those times illuminating. Section four didn’t really add much for me – either it could have been longer or not there at all…

All in all an interesting read with lots of surprises, a trip or two down a distant memory lane, a reflection of the 70’s  in Australia and India, a look at culture, religion, cults and families and all that dirty linen.

Guest Post by Kim Lock

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Kim’s new book The Other Side of Beautiful, it was outstanding. I am a fan of Kim’s writing and storytelling and when I finished this particular read I asked myself, and then asked Kim, how does she write each book so differently, each as standalones, each a unique story? When I read her response I had a big AHA moment. Thanks so much Kim for enlightening me.

Carol: How do you write each book so uniquely?
Kim Lock: Good question. Let me think.

When I get up in the morning, here’s what happens: I shuffle into the kitchen, squinting. I put the kettle on; I sit and drink a cup of tea and wait for my brain to catch up with the phenomenon of daylight and being vertical. Once that has happened, there’s another cup over a book, or perhaps my emails. This – the squinting, the tea, the brain catch-up – happens without fail every morning. Of an evening, there’s the couch and chips or chocolate and an hour or two of Netflix. These are the comforting rituals that bookend my day, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Between those morning and evening rituals? It varies. I’ve recently released a new novel, The Other Side of Beautiful, so lately there’s been publicity work to attend to. If I’m writing or editing, I’ll make that a priority for most of the day. Sometimes I’ll head into the garden, or drag myself to the shops for groceries or errands. Go for a run. Oh, and I have two home-educated preteens so there’s that.

This quiet unpredictability? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Although I must be clear: while I don’t love schedules, I also don’t especially enjoy dramatic surprises. Sometimes shock feels too much like fear. While I relish the ebb and flow of an unscheduled day, I also like to know, at least loosely, what to expect. (Call me contrary, but what human isn’t?)

So, I write fiction, returning again and again to the subjects I’m fascinated by, but with the steering wheel in front of me. (Or so I tell myself, until the characters have other plans.)

I’ve found my books shelved under contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, Australian fiction, historical fiction, thriller and noir, romance, humour and adventure. I’m told I write ‘genre-straddling’, ‘commercial-literary hybrid’, writing that perhaps ‘isn’t easy to categorise.’

But like most writers, I just write to try and understand the human experience. I write to try and make some sense of this nonsensical world, to explore the what-ifs that fascinate, frighten or engage me.

The funny thing is, as much as my novels are all different, I also know I am always writing about the same thing: women’s experiences of reproduction and motherhood in patriarchy. Becoming a mother upended everything I thought I knew, and became the bedrock of my feminism – and the obsessions that fuel my writing. But because I’m driven by novelty, I’ve also written about the army, adoption, psychological abuse, domestic ménage a trois, 1960s Australia, politics, mental illness and health, loneliness, happiness. I’ve written about the quiet joy to be found in solitude, in company, in the present moment. I like to include humour into my work; if it makes me laugh, it keeps me going.

What I love most especially is a new idea. I get delighted by small, bright changes. (You should see me when the bulbs in my garden sprout!) I love learning something new or having my stale old beliefs knocked about or eliminated entirely. (I admit this is sometimes challenging – hello motherhood – but it always works out to be a good thing, even if I complain about it at the time.) And I love it – love it – when people act in a surprising way, or do something out of what I had perceived to be their character.

In The Other Side of Beautiful, Mercy Blain has been stuck in her house for two years. To Mercy, newness and novelty are anathema. In order for my character to find herself – to dig into those same questions with which I as the writer am obsessed – I had to shove her out into the world. So, in the opening scene, I set her house on fire. Then I asked myself, Alrightnow what’s she gonna do?

Now what? I suspect it’s a question I’ll keep asking.

Review: The Other Side of Beautiful – Kim Lock

The Other Side of Beautiful

Kim Lock

HQ Fiction

ISBN: 9781867214915

Description:

Lost & Found meets The Rosie Project in a stunning break-out novel where a vulnerable misfit is forced to re-engage with the world, despite her best efforts.

Meet Mercy Blain, whose house has just burnt down. Unfortunately for Mercy, this goes beyond the disaster it would be for most people: she hasn’t been outside that house for two years now.

Flung out into the world she’s been studiously ignoring, Mercy goes to the only place she can. Her not-quite-ex-husband Eugene’s house. But it turns out she can’t stay there, either.

And so begins Mercy’s unwilling journey. After the chance purchase of a cult classic campervan (read tiny, old and smelly), with the company of her sausage dog, Wasabi, and a mysterious box of cremated remains, Mercy heads north from Adelaide to Darwin.

On the road, through badly timed breakdowns, gregarious troupes of grey nomads, and run-ins with a rogue adversary, Mercy’s carefully constructed walls start crumbling. But what was Mercy hiding from in her house? And why is Eugene desperate to have her back in the city? They say you can’t run forever…

Exquisite, tender and wry, this is a break-out novel about facing anxiety and embracing life from an extraordinary new talent.

My View:

This is a fabulous read- moving, engaging, authentic in setting and characters (particularly the caravanning community) and written with a vulnerability that is captivating. This book is such a delight to read.

Do you read a book and go – yes so and so will enjoy this? Or my sister-in-law/daughter /family/friend will love this? This is one such book. I loved it, and have recommended to so many. Now I am recommending it to you.

Review: Dog Rose Dirt – Jen Williams

Dog Rose Dirt

Jen Williams

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780008383800

Description:

What if your mother had been writing to a serial killer?

A convicted murderer with a story to tell

Serial killer Michael Reave – known as The Red Wolf – has been locked in Belmarsh Prison for over 20 years for the brutal and ritualistic murders of countless women.

A grieving daughter with a secret to unearth

Ex-journalist Heather Evans returns to her childhood home after her mother’s inexplicable suicide and discovers something chilling – hundreds of letters between her mother and Reave, dating back decades.

A hunt for a killer ready to strike again

When the body of a woman is found decorated with flowers, just like his victims, Reave is the only person alive who could help. After years of silence, he will speak to Heather, and only Heather.

If she wants to unearth the truth and stop further bloodshed, she’ll have to confront a monster.

My View:

Dark dark dark!

Picture this – full moon, late at night, reading, reading…. new pup needs a toilet break before we go to bed – we put on her lead and we go for a wander around the garden…it’s midnight or later… we walk around and around in the light of the moon; its forty minutes and we are still walking (these “things” needed to happen before we could go to bed). We hear noises. We keep walking- hesitantly, reluctantly (me) purposefully (me) timidly (dog). I am feeling just a bit apprehensive (thanks scary book) 😊 Eventually the dead is done and we scurry inside and go to bed.

I slip into sleep – into dreams (not good ones) and wake up shouting “NO!” and snuggle closer to the husband. I had such a bad feeling…. such unease. Thanks book. I finished reading this in the daylight.

To sum up: a dark dark read- atmospheric, compelling. Read in the daylight.

Dog Rose – a type of climbing rose