Review: Death In Her Hands – Ottessa Moshfegh

Death In Her Hands

Ottessa Moshfegh

Jonathan Cape:

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9781787332201

 

Description:

From author of Eileen and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a novel of haunting metaphysical suspense.

 

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note,

handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever

know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her

long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the

note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda

was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of

mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But is there either a more innocent

explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home?

In this triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, we must decide whether the

stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.

 

Praise for Ottessa Moshfegh:

‘Her stories are depraved, profound, and bleakly, wickedly funny. To read her is to be unsettled.’

Daily Telegraph

‘Viciously funny… Moshfegh’s writing is as lethally efficient as a flick-knife.’

The Times

‘A writer of rare talent and assurance.’

Financial Times

‘Super abundantly talented…Moshfegh’s sentences are piercing and vixenish …

she is always a deep pleasure to read.’

New York Times

Ottessa Moshfegh is the author of McGlue (2014); Eileen, which was awarded the 2016

PEN/Hemingway Award and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Homesick for Another World (2017);

and My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018), which was shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

 

 

My View:

Curious, disturbing and uncomfortable. Perhaps all I can do is share my feelings about this book rather than try to give any sort of cohesive review – as I found this book…strange.

 

To begin, I really enjoyed the first part of the book – I enjoyed meeting the protagonist Hesta, hearing Hesta’s perspective of her life and what is happening around her in a stream of consciousness style of ramblings. But after while I felt like I could skip whole pages and not miss anything… it is a short read, I did continue on, waiting for the “gothic” tones or comedy to make themselves known. If they were there, I missed them (maybe in those pages I skipped) 😊

 

I read on, the drama and the tension build as Vesta spiralled between revealing moments of clarity as she reflected on her marriage and life, to ever increasing moments of paranoia. I finished the book.

 

The ending was unsettling ( no spoilers here) but a strange thing occurred to me as I sat an contemplated what this book meant and how I would attempt to review it (badly), this really was a pretty powerful reflection of life; on expectations of living a good life and what compromises that means, on sanity/insanity,  on aging and loneliness, regrets, anger and of the slow decent into paranoia and or dementia.

 

So… it was powerful, made me feel uncomfortable and did make me think. Did I enjoy reading this? First instinct is to answer no, but upon deeper reflection, perhaps I enjoyed a little of it, its is obvious this author can write well but it did lose my attention part way through; I rarely flick through or by pass entire pages… but in this novel I did. Would I recommend this read…probably not in these times of pandemic where something lighter is more palatable. But if you are looking for a challenge, for depth, for deep, meaningful conversations with the author, perhaps you could give this book a try.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Fair Warning – Michael Connelly

Fair Warning

Michael Connelly

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760877989

 

Description:

The hero of The Poet and The Scarecrow is back in the new thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly. Jack McEvoy, the journalist who never backs down, tracks a serial killer who has been operating completely under the radar–until now.

 

Veteran reporter Jack McEvoy has taken down killers before, but when a woman he had a one-night stand with is murdered in a particularly brutal way, McEvoy realizes he might be facing a criminal mind unlike any he’s ever encountered.

 

McEvoy investigates—against the warnings of the police and his own editor—and makes a shocking discovery that connects the crime to other mysterious deaths across the country. But his inquiry hits a snag when he himself becomes a suspect.

 

As he races to clear his name, McEvoy’s findings point to a serial killer working under the radar of law enforcement for years, and using personal data shared by the victims themselves to select and hunt his targets.

 

Called “the Raymond Chandler of this generation” (Associated Press), Michael Connelly once again delivers an unputdownable thriller that reveals a predator operating from the darkest corners of human nature—and one man courageous and determined enough to stand in his way.

 

 

My View:

Michael Connelly remains my all-time favourite male crime fiction writer! I don’t know how he does it, the writing is always fresh and intelligent, the themes, contemporary and plausible and so addictive.

 

The introduction is dramatic and gripping, the characters then propel the story forward. Some contemporary science and policing methods are brought into the discussion and for about 5 minutes I was convinced I knew where this story was heading and who was the culprit. I was wrong, so wrong!

 

Engaging, relevant, dynamic, character lead, crime fiction – Michael Connelly has this genre sewn up.

 

 

 

Review: The Swap – Robyn Harding

The Swap

Robyn Harding

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781760854232

 

Description:

Low Morrison is not your average teen. You could blame her hippie parents or her dreary, isolated island hometown. Whatever the reason, Low just doesn’t fit in – and neither does newcomer Freya, an ethereal beauty and once-famous social media influencer.

 

After signing up for Freya’s pottery class, Low quickly falls under her spell. Buoyed by Low’s adoration, Freya is compelled to share her darkest secrets and deepest desires. Finally, Low feels a sense of belonging … until Jamie walks through the studio door. Freya, Jamie and their husbands become fast friends, leaving Low alone once again.

 

Then one night, after a boozy dinner party, Freya suggests swapping partners. It should have been a harmless fling between consenting adults, but instead, it upends their lives.

 

And provides Low with the perfect opportunity to unleash her growing resentment.

 

My View:

Where to start? This is a read that is nuanced with so many interesting moral dilemmas, current issues (the impact of fertility/low fertility will break your heart and the big one; bullying, domestic abuse that is surprising yet somehow not…fits this character perfectly) and a cold-blooded murder that is chilling in its ease of enactment.

I guarantee this book will intrigue and give you many thoughts to consider.

 

 

 

#FridayFreebie : Better Luck Next Time – Kate Hilton

Better Luck Next Time

Kate Hilton

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760878085

RRP $29.99

Description:

A generational family comedy for fans of EligibleThis Is Where I Leave YouHeartburn and television’s This Is Us

It isn’t easy being related to a feminist icon, especially when she’s celebrating the greatest moment of her storied career.

Just ask the daughters of Lydia Hennessey, who could have it all if only they’d stop self-destructing. Mariana, the eldest, is on the verge of throwing away a distinguished reputation in journalism, along with her marriage. Nina, the middle daughter, has returned from a medical mission overseas as a changed woman but won’t discuss it with anyone. And Beata, the youngest, has a hostile teenaged son who just discovered the existence of a father who didn’t know about him either. Meanwhile, their cousin Zoe is making divorce look like a death match, while her brother, Zack, is grappling with the fallout from his popular television dramedy, which is based far too closely on Lydia herself.

It might be easier to find their paths if they could step out of Lydia’s shadow—but the biggest women’s march in history is underway, and Lydia and her family are at the centre of it.

Over the course of an eventful year, the Hennessey children contend with the big struggles of midlife: aging parents, raging teens, crumbling marriages and bodies, new loves and the choice between playing it safe or taking life-altering risks. And as they inch toward a new definition of happiness, they might even persuade their parents—and themselves—that they’re all grown up.

 

**Giveaway ** I have 2 copies of this engaging, sometimes hilarious, honest and entertaining read to give away.  Its easy – in the comments tell me the name of the eldest daughter. I will randomly select and then email 2 winners – entries close 26th June 2020   **This giveaway is for Australian residents only**

 

 

**Winners have been notified and copies of the book posted out by publisher.**

 

 

 

Review: Little Disasters – Sarah Vaughan

Little Disasters

Sarah Vaughan

Simon & Schuster Australia

RRP $29.99

ISBN: 9781471194900

 

Description:

A new thought-provoking novel exploring the complexity of motherhood and all that connects and disconnects us.

 

You think you know her…but look a little closer.

 

She is a stay-at-home mother-of-three with boundless reserves of patience, energy, and love. After being friends for a decade, this is how Liz sees Jess.

 

Then one moment changes everything.

 

Dark thoughts and carefully guarded secrets surface—and Liz is left questioning everything she thought she knew about her friend, and about herself. The truth can’t come soon enough.

 

 

My View:

This is a very a very relatable read – it will make your skin prickle with recognition; uncomfortable, yes – maybe you have been (in various degrees) on one or the other “side” of the issues raised in this provocative read.  There is something here for all to think about, take away and learn from.

 

This is a great read; complex, engaging and thought provoking, intelligent.

 

My New Favourite Slice

Yesterday I made my version of The Global Vegan’s Peanut Butter Crackle Slice ( I have an allergy to peanuts so used almond butter/paste). This is my new go to, must have dessert/snack/slice.  Sweet but with only a 5 dates for sweetness, a little salt to balance, cranberries and coconut for contrast in texture and a little more sweetness,  crunch – the puffed rice and the coconut oil or cocoa butter to hold all together and I used 70% cacao dark chocolate to melt and put on top. This is a raw slice so aside from the melting of chocolate and oils no cooking required – just pop in the freezer for an hour or two.  This is divine! Dairy free, gluten free, processed sugar free, it has a good wack of protein and good oils.  Perfect!

#MeatfreeMonday Baked Mac No Cheese: The Global Vegan – Ellie Bullen

The Global Vegan by Ellie Bullen,

Published by Plum

RRP $34.99

Photography by Ellie Bullen

 

 

p150  Mains

“The mac-no-cheese recipe in my first cookbook turned out to be the most popular dish. It was
amazing to hear from so many people who cooked and loved the recipe, whether they made it for
their family, friends or just themselves. It’s a truly delicious meal, so I wanted to share a fun, new
version in this book, inspired by my travels in the United States where mac ‘n’ cheese is on menus
everywhere. I noticed that bacon was often added to the dish, so I’ve added coconut bacon to this
recipe to give it a special twist.” p150

 

Serves 4
250 g macaroni
350 g peeled and deseeded pumpkin, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
3 tablespoons soy or almond milk
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cashews
100 g cauliflower florets
100 g broccoli florets
2 tablespoons Coconut Bakon (see page 289)
2 tablespoons Parmesan Crumble (see page 265)

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan-forced.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another saucepan of water to the boil, add the pumpkin and cook for 8–10 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer the pumpkin to a blender, along with the nutritional yeast flakes, soy or almond milk,
pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oil and cashews. Blend on high until smooth.

Refill the saucepan with water and bring to the boil again. Add the cauliflower and cook for
3 minutes, then add the broccoli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Drain and place in a baking dish.
Add the pasta to the baking dish and pour over the pumpkin sauce. Mix well so that the pasta is fully coated.

Sprinkle over the coconut bakon and parmesan crumble and bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 

**PARMESAN CRUMBLE**

This simple savoury crumble is wonderful sprinkled over pasta dishes and bakes.

Makes about 1 cup

50 g (1/3 cup) cashews

1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1 tablespoon hemp seeds

1/2 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Place the ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse 4–5 times or until the cashews have broken down to a rough crumble. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

 

 

 

Review: The Cake Maker’s Wish – Josephine Moon

The Cake Maker’s Wish

Josephine Moon

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN:  9780143792017

 

Description:

Life in the village isn’t always sweet and simple . . .

 

When single mum Olivia uproots her young son Darcy from their life in Tasmania for a new start in the English Cotswolds, she isn’t exactly expecting a bed of roses – but nor is she prepared for the challenges that life in the picturesque village throws her way.

 

The Renaissance Project hopes to bring the dwindling community back to life – to welcome migrants from around the world and to boost the failing economy – but not everyone is so pleased about the initiative.

 

For cake maker Olivia, it’s a chance for Darcy to finally meet his Norwegian father, and for her to trace the last blurry lines on what remains of her family tree. It’s also an opportunity to move on from the traumatic event that tore her loved ones apart.

 

After seven years on her own, she has all but given up on romance, until life dishes up some delicious new options, she didn’t even know she was craving.

 

An uplifting and heart-warming story about the moments that change your life forever, human kindness and being true to yourself.

 

 

My View:

If you are anything like me at the moment you appreciate a piece of heart-warming escapism in your reading choice and this book based on cake making is the perfect, temporary antidote to the ills of the time.

 

I love the ideas of the “Renaissance Project”  and the narrative successfully transports us to modern day English village lifestyle and times, the trials and tribulations of being an “outsider” and demonstrates how to mend bridges by simply showing an interest and caring about those around us.

 

This book is packed with “themes” for you to unlock and consider, and a love story or two and a bit of history/mystery for you to ponder.

 

 

 

 

Review: Parlour Games for Modern Families – Myfanwy Jones and Spiri Tsintziras

Parlour Games for Modern Families

Myfanwy Jones & Spiri Tsintziras

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781921844416

RRP$ 24.99

 

Description:

Reviving the tradition of indoor family games, this guide invites mental stimulation, silliness, and laughter back into the household. From games of logic, memory, and wordplay to rough-and-tumble activities and even simple recipes, this collection takes the environment into consideration, only requiring items easily found around the home, such as a deck of cards, a dictionary, an hour glass, dice, or paper and pen. The featured games are organized thematically and cross-referenced for age-appropriateness. Concise rules and instructions are included, outlining games that will challenge and stimulate, last all night, or fill the empty half-hour before dinner. Ideal for a wide age range, this guide brings back long-forgotten pastimes, guaranteeing entertainment for all.

 

My View:

What a lovely trip down memory lane revisiting so may childhood games. In particular I liked the section on card games – it has been so long since I have played cards that I am a bit fuzzy on the rules and it is so helpful to have something “concrete” in front of you when playing. Now if this had only included a “How to Play Mah-jong” it would be perfect! 😊

 

Review: No Never! : Libby Hathorn & Lisa Hathorn-Jarman Illustrated by Mel Pearce

No Never! A Cautionary Tale

Libby Hathorn & Lisa Hathorn- Jarman

Illustrated by Mel Pearce

Hachette Australia

Lothian Children’s Books

ISBN: 9780734418906

 

Description:

A cautionary tale about a little girl who drives her parents up the wall when she starts answering ‘No! Never!’ to all their requests – and what happens when the tables are turned on her.

 

There was a child,

The sweetest ever,

Until she learned these words:

‘NO! NEVER!’

 

Georgie is a sweet little girl who always makes her parents happy… until she discovers one powerful phrase: No! Never!

 

It suddenly becomes her answer to every request, from tidying up her toys to going to bed. Her parents are at their wits end, but what happens when they decide to try saying No! Never! themselves?

 

A lovely, lively look at the Terrible Twos (or Threes, or Fours, or Fives…) from mother-daughter team Libby Hathorn and Lisa Hathorn-Jarman, with debut illustrator Mel Pearce. Perfect for any parent dealing with tantrums, defiant behaviour or communication issues.

 

 

My View:

This is a delightful tale with a wonderful moral/lesson in the story that all carers, parents and young children can appreciate. With simple almost gleeful imagery and wonderful rhyming prose, this book is sure to be a hit.

 

Highly recommend for pre-schoolers, pre-school libraries and all who play with, care for and help little minds grow.