#FridayFreebie ; The Lost Summers of Driftwood – Vanessa McCausland

 

The Lost Summers of Driftwood

Vanessa McCausland

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460757680

 

This is such a gently written yet revealing read – for your chance to win a copy of this thought provoking read, answer this question – how did Karin write a note to her family? ** Giveaway for Australian residents only and kindly supplied by Harper Collins Publishers Australia.  **

 

Winner randomly selected on 17th January 2020

Guest Review: The Lost Ones – Anita Frank

The Lost Ones

Anita Frank

HQ

ISBN: 9780008341213

Description:

Some houses are never at peace.

England, 1917

Reeling from the death of her fiancé, Stella Marcham welcomes the opportunity to stay with her pregnant sister, Madeleine, at her imposing country mansion, Greyswick – but she arrives to discover a house of unease and her sister gripped by fear and suspicion.

Before long, strange incidents begin to trouble Stella – sobbing in the night, little footsteps on the stairs – and as events escalate, she finds herself drawn to the tragic history of the house.

Aided by a wounded war veteran, Stella sets about uncovering Greyswick’s dark and terrible secrets – secrets the dead whisper from the other side…

 

Brenda’s Review:

I have just turned the last page of The Lost Ones and it’s up there with my top reads for 2019! Anita Frank has written an amazing story which kept me enthralled from the very first page.

It was 1917 and England was reeling from the impact of the war; Stella Marcham had returned home from her nursing position at the front after losing her fiancé and her grief was all encompassing. The fact that the family doctor wanted to commit Stella to an institution was partly what convinced her to join her sister Madeleine at the home of her husband, Hector’s family, Greyswick. Madeleine was pregnant; her mother-in-law was an imposing woman, and Madeleine would welcome her sister’s company.

The elderly Lady Brightwell and her companion, Miss Scott, along with the housekeeper, Mrs Henge, Cook and Maisie were the only permanent occupants of the old home. When Stella and her maid Annie arrived to join Madeleine, they immediately sensed the unrest and tremor of dark secrets in the walls, and it wasn’t long before the fear Madeleine felt rubbed off on Stella. But when strange, inexplicable incidents began to occur, Stella knew she had to find answers before her sister was harmed. What were the secrets that the house held – secrets that had been buried for the past thirty years?

The Lost Ones is a blend of genres – historical fiction with a mix of supernatural – and it worked extremely well. Anita Frank is a new author to me, and I’ll be looking at more of her work. Intriguing, breathtaking, heartbreaking, stunning – Some houses are never at peace Highly recommended. 5 stars.

With thanks to Harlequin Fiction AU for my uncorrected proof copy which I won.

 

 

Guest Review: Damascus – Chris Tsiolkas

Damascus

Chris Tsiolkas

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760875091

 

Josh’s View: 

I don’t read to escape. I read to learn. To come to a new understanding or insight. I want to be a better person because of what I read.

That’s why, when I heard Christos Tsiolkas being interviewed on the ABC about his new novel Damascus, I knew I had to read it.

In the interview Tsiolkas talked about grappling with his sexuality in his early teens, and how St. Paul’s first letter to Corinthians regarding condemning homosexuality was the catalyst for him moving away from Christianity. But in his late 20s a personal crisis saw him in a church where he discovered St. Paul’s writing once again, but in a different light, a more compassionate one. That was the early spark that lead him to write Damascus.

Being gay myself, I have an aversion to most organised religions, so wanted to know what happened to Tsiolkas and how could he reconcile those letters to the Corinthians? Would reading Damascus give me the same inner conversion that Tsiolkas had reading St. Paul? Could I learn to accept people who didn’t accept me? Could I be a better person after reading it?

Firstly, Damascus is not for the weak of stomach. I have a high tolerance for most things, but even I had to turn away at times. This is what I loved about the book. Tsiolkas doesn’t give you today’s highly polished sanitised version of Christianity, he strips you bare, and leads you deep into the filth, muck, shit, piss and blood that lined the streets of Jerusalem and the Middle East almost 2000 years ago. And he doesn’t let up. His extensive research about what life and conditions were really like, only sharpens the contrast of today’s idea of the Christianity.

Thankfully, Damascus has given me a much deeper understanding of how radical Jesus’ message was back then. In a time of entrenched class systems, where you couldn’t move left, right up or down, where if you were born a slave you were always a slave – to say something like, ‘everyone is equal in the eyes of God’, was punishable by death. To have a group of people opening their doors, feeding and caring for you, and saying that you are loved regardless of who you are, was a radical act.

And that’s what the early followers of Yeshua (Jesus) did.

Familiar phrases that have become religious wallpaper today, like, ‘Turn the other cheek’, are given real context. Characters in Damascus breathe life into them, and show what they really mean, even if they struggle to do so themselves.

Tsiolkas gives the early Christian message critically important social and historical context and shows how real people dared to live it, all whilst grappling with their human frailties and ingrained cultural prejudices and biases.

I couldn’t help compare today’s evangelical Hillsong Church, and it’s million dollar stadium churches, with the people of 2000 years ago. The people who risked death to live the teachings of a man who said to give away everything, love your neighbour and that God loves everyone, no matter who they are.

For me, it felt like Tsiolkas was trying to strip away all the religiosity, and two millennia of multiple interpretations of Christ’s message, to find what was at the heart of it, especially what St. Paul was really trying to say.

Damascus is a big book, a brave book and it’s hard reading. I had to put it down often and will myself to get back into the headspace to keep going. But I’m glad I did.

When I write my kids books, I want children to be changed by what they read, and I know Christos Tsiolkas wanted me to be changed by what he wrote. And he has done just that.

Am I a better person for reading Damascus? I really think so.

 

Josh Langley

Award winning author, illustrator and daydreamer

 

Review: The Lost Summers of Driftwood – Vanessa McCausland

The Lost Summers of Driftwood

Vanessa McCausland

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460757680

 

 

Description:

Is it more dangerous to forget … or to remember? A compelling drama about broken dreams, first love and the mystery of a lost sister, for all fans of Hannah Richell and Kate Morton. She remembered this part of the trip during the day time. Her sisters on either side in the back. The sunlight flickering through branches was like looking through a kaleidoscope. How could that be so long ago? How could so much have gone wrong?

 

Phoebe’s life has fallen apart and there’s only one place left to go. Alone and adrift after a failed marriage proposal, she flees Sydney to her family’s abandoned holiday cottage.

 

On the slow-moving river Phoebe is confronted with the legacy of her older sister’s suicide, a year before. Why did Karin leave a note written in flowers and walk into the water?

 

Phoebe’s childhood love, Jez, has moved back to the beautiful old house, Driftwood, one jetty down. He’s married now and the home has become a refuge for an unlikely little community.

 

As the river begins to give up its secrets, Phoebe finds herself caught up in old feelings and new mysteries.

 

The Lost Summers of Driftwood is a story of lost loves, rekindled passions, tragedy and betrayal set against the backdrop of an idyllic south coast town.

 

 

My View:

Vanessa McCausland has used this book as a vehicle to examine so many feelings and issues and she has done this with a feather light touch that draws attention to the world we live in today – a world of Instagram moments, a world of pressure to be perfect; to have the perfect life, to conform to the demands of social medias constant thirst for your energy.

 

But there is more to this narrative than a discussion about social media and the perfect IG snap shot. Friendships, grief, fertility issues, life in a country town, memories, fire and mystery. This mesmerising book packs a big punch and I highly recommend this read.

 

 

Stay tuned for another #FridayFreebie with an opportunity to win a copy of this moving, atmospheric read.

 

Review: The Stranger Inside – Lisa Unger

The Stranger Inside

Lisa Unger

HQ

ISBN: 9781848457072

 

Description
Even good people are drawn to do evil things … Twelve-year-old Rain Winter narrowly escaped an abduction while walking to a friend’s house. Her two best friends, Tess and Hank, were not as lucky. Tess never came home, and Hank was held in captivity before managing to escape. Their abductor was sent to prison but years later was released. Then someone delivered real justice—and killed him in cold blood.

 

Now Rain is living the perfect suburban life, her dark childhood buried deep. She spends her days as a stay-at-home mom, having put aside her career as a hard-hitting journalist to care for her infant daughter. But when another brutal murderer who escaped justice is found dead, Rain is unexpectedly drawn into the case. Eerie similarities to the murder of her friends’ abductor force Rain to revisit memories she’s worked hard to leave behind. Is there a vigilante at work? Who is the next target? Why can’t Rain just let it go?

 

Introducing one of the most compelling and original killers in crime fiction today, Lisa Unger takes readers deep inside the minds of both perpetrator and victim, blurring the lines between right and wrong, crime and justice, and showing that sometimes people deserve what comes to them.

 

 

My View:

This book was thrilling!

 I really love have Lisa Unger has thrown so many “what if’s” “what would you have done” into this mix of suspense and mystery. Lisa demonstrates that there are shades of grey in every decision or situation, no choice we make is simple or clean cut, and I love this shout out to the complexities of life.

 

And there are a few twists in this one you will never see coming! A fantastic read by an author I admire. Lisa Unger never disappoints.

 

**WARNING do not start reading just before you go to bed…you could find yourself having a very late night if you do.

 

Review: The Ocean At The End of The Lane – Neil Gaiman

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Elise Hurst

Headline

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781472260239

RRP $45.00

 

Description:

From New York Times bestselling writer Neil Gaiman, comes a novel of memory, magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us.

A special Christmas edition of the bestseller.

WINNER OF THE SPECSAVERS NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS 2013 BOOK OF THE YEAR

It began for our narrator forty years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive. There is primal horror here, and menace unleashed – within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

His only defense is three women, on a farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duck pond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE is a fable that reshapes modern fantasy: moving, terrifying and elegiac – as pure as a dream, as delicate as a butterfly’s wing, as dangerous as a knife in the dark.

 

 My View:

Such effortless, amazing storytelling!

 

I was delighted with every aspect of this book, from the exquisite effortless crafting of this perfect narrative to the wonderful production qualities; the hardback covers, the thick deluxe paper, to the slightly eerie, gothic like evocative drawings…this book has it all.  This is magical realism at is finest.

 

This is the perfect gift for the book lover/book collector in your life (or… yourself) J

Guest Review: The War of Art – Steven Pressfield

 

The War of Art:

Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Steven Pressfield

Robert McKee (Foreword)

ISBN: 9780446691437

Description:
Internationally bestselling author of Last of the Amazons, Gates of Fire, and Tides of War, Steven Pressfield delivers a guide to inspire and support those who struggle to express their creativity. Pressfield believes that “resistance” is the greatest enemy, and he offers many unique and helpful ways to overcome it.

 

 

The War of Art – A review by Andy Macleod

I’m not only a reader, I’m a writer. I’m an advertising copywriter and that’s how I make my living.

But I’m also a creative writer, and that’s where I get stuck. As a copywriter I write radio commercials, brochures and web page content. These are usually short, bite sized pieces, easily digested. Novels are not, and I have about 5 unfinished, well, barely started ones to prove it.

That’s where The War of Art (2002), by Steven Pressfield comes in.

I read a lot of books about writing, it’s how I procrastinate, and, frustratingly, how I stop myself from writing. Yes, I read books designed to overcome procrastination as a devious way to procrastinate. But not anymore, because Mr Pressman has just given me a huge kick up the bottom.

The War of Art is broken into 3 parts, Resistance, Combating Resistance and Beyond Resistance, and Pressfield pulls no punches, and he punches hard.

As a pragmatist, this is just what I needed. I recognised myself in almost every point he made. His withering description of me hurt to my very core. But he was right. There’s an old saying, ‘If you can’t piss, get off the pot’, and that’s exactly what he’s saying.

If you’re having trouble writing you have two options, stop, or get professional about it, but whatever you do, don’t be an amateur.

The book is easy to read, speaks to rather than down to its readers, and has lots of real-life examples, some of which are outdated, like a reference to Lance Armstrong before his drug taking revelations.

If you’re a writer like me, and have tried everything to get your writing moving, The War of Art might be right up your alley. Its words might be a bitter pill to take, but sometimes that’s exactly what we need.