Guest Review: Kick the Dust – Rhonda Forrest

Kick the Dust

Rhonda Forrest

Valeena Press

ISBN: 9780994535665

 

Description:

‘If I close my eyes, it’s easier to hold onto a memory. When I open them, I think it might really be there in front of me.’

After three tours of duty in Afghanistan, Liam Andrews is home safe in Queensland. His weekly life drawing class, full of colourful local artists, helps him manage his post-traumatic stress disorder. But he’s struggling to open up about a past that still haunts him.

Belourine ‘Billy’ is an Afghan refugee who lost everything before arriving in Australia as a child. She finds joy in her daily swims in the lake. After years of upheaval, she’s still searching for a place to call home. But her past makes it hard to trust people.

When Liam and Billy meet, they form an instant connection. But will they ever overcome the past? And will it be together?

A moving story of love, loss and resilience from the author of Two Heartbeats.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Liam Andrews had done three tours of Afghanistan and was suffering PTSD which he was trying to overcome. He was an artist, specializing in life drawing and his twice weekly classes meant he met a lot of different people. He also lived by the lake and his mornings consisted of exercise and swimming, before he started his work for the day. He was mostly content.

When the beautiful young woman turned up to model for the class one evening, she sat with her back to the group. She was filling in for another model who’d been unable to attend and was uncomfortable in front of Liam’s particular group. But he was sure he recognized her and worked out it was the other swimmer in the mornings; the one he called ‘butterfly girl’.

Billy and Liam found an affinity with one another and gradually became friends. Billy was mistrustful because of her past; a refugee from Afghanistan who’d arrived in Australia at age six, and with no family of her own, she didn’t trust easily. Billy found pleasure in working with plants and loved the outdoors. Would Liam and Billy become more than friends?

Kick the Dust by Aussie author Rhonda Forrest is an exceptional read, one which I thoroughly enjoyed. Rhonda first published as Lea Davey; this is her second under Rhonda Forrest. Kick the Dust is poignant and emotive, covering topics on refugees, boat people, the struggle of integration into the Australian way of life, and the want and need to be accepted. The main characters, Liam and Billy are written with depth and integrity, are likeable and relatable. Highly recommended. 5 stars.

With thanks to the author for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

 

Post Script: Bitter Fruits – Alice Clark-Platts

Cover - Bitter Fruits

Bitter Fruits

Alice Clark-Platts

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 978071818152

 

 

Description:

Detective Inspector Erica Martin’s first case in the university city of Durham is Emily Brabents, a first-year student, who is found dead in the river.

 

DI Martin visits Joyce College, a cradle for the country’s future elite, and finds a close-knit community full of secrets, jealousy and obsession.

 

Her search reveals a vicious online trolling culture but could Emily, from the privileged and popular crowd, have been a victim? Should the sudden confession to the murder by the student president be believed?

 

And just who is the mysterious Daniel Shepherd whose name keeps appearing in the investigation…?

 

 

My View:

A brilliant debut novel considered and intelligent this book discusses the murder of a young woman and explores the psychology of those involved and follows the trail that lead to her death. Tightly woven into the fabric of this multi faced narrative are the some very relevant contemporary social issues; identity, feminism, online bullying, abuse of trust and power and sexism.

 

This narrative steers a clear path to discovery; this is not a book that is character lead, although there are several interesting characters here and I hope to see more of DI Martin in the future; this is an expose of evilness, obsession, narcissism and control and demonstrates just how easily the inexperienced can be manipulated- in persona and online. The influence of social media on the “look at me” generation is revealing and disturbing.

 

The dual narration works particularly well and slowly you are drawn into the campus social world and the lives of the main characters. As your involvement deepens the pace picks up and a psychological war zone is entered – a battle between good and evil – between DI Martina and the villain of the peace.

 

The twist in the conclusion, when revealed, is totally unexpected and pacts an enormous punch! A great read.

Post Script: Night Owls aka The Anatomical Shape of a Heart – Jenn Bennett

Book Cover Nights Owls -Jenn Bennett

Night Owls aka The Anatomical Shape of a Heart

Jenn Bennett

Simon & Schuster UK Ltd

Feiwel and Friends

ISBN: 9781471125300

 

Description:

Since school had let out in May, gold graffiti had been popping up around San Francisco. Single words painted in enormous golden letters appeared on bridges and building fronts. Not semi-illegible, angry gang tags, but beautifully executed fonts done by someone with talent and skill…

Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco’s night bus—turns Beatrix’s world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive…and possibly one of San Francisco’s most notorious graffiti artists.

On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is. But Jack is hiding much more – and can she uncover the truth that leaves him so wounded?

A unique and profoundly moving novel. Night Owls will linger in your memory long after the final page.

 

My View:

This little book blew me away! I loved every word, every sentence and every paragraph and did not want this narrative to end. Beautifully written; engaging prose, loveable characters that speak to the principals of acceptance, diversity and individuality and a narrative that is engaging, that flows effortlessly – what more could you want in a great book?

The author comments about this book: “This is not my first published book but it might be my favourite.” I think it might be one of my favourites too! “Writing this book was like slipping into a comfortable coat. It just felt…right.” Perfectly spoken – it felt so right to me too! This is Jenn Bennett’s first YA novel but don’t let the tag “YA” put you off reading this book – there is a beautiful story here that all can enjoy and I will certainly be seeking out this authors others works .

Post Script: Season Of Shadow and Light

Season of Shadow and Light

Season of Shadow and Light

Jenn J McLeod

Simon & Schuster Aust

A CBC Company

ISBN: 9781925030280

 

 

Description:

Sometime this season…

The secret keeper must tell.

The betrayed must trust.

The hurt must heal.

 

When it seems everything Paige trusts is beginning to betray her, she leaves her husband at home and sets off on a road trip with six year old Matilda, and Nana Alice in tow.

But stranded amid rising floodwaters, on a detour to the tiny town of Coolabah Tree Gully, Paige discovers the greatest betrayal of all happened there twenty years earlier.

Someone knows that truth can wash away the darkest shadows, but…

 

My View:

A beautiful Australian narrative full of larger than life characters, wild and glorious countryside, horses, romance, secrets, love, connections , family and a fantastic message about acceptance – there is a little something in this book for all to enjoy.

 

There is a beautiful passage in this book that sums up love and acceptance remarkably well, Alice is talking to Paige about Alice’s relationship with her mother Nancy, ‘No labels Paige, remember. It was your mother who hated them. She never referred to herself as anything other than a woman who feel in love. It so happened to be with another woman. It might have easily been with a man, she told me once, insisting, “Love is about connection.” ‘

What an important understanding.

 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.