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 🙂

 

##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: The Shearer’s Wife – Fleur McDonald

The Shearer’s Wife

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760876814

RRP$29.99

 

Description:

2020: When the Australian Federal Police swoop unheralded into Barker and make a shocking arrest for possession of narcotics, Detective Dave Burrows is certain there is more to the story than meets the eye. But the Feds insist that Dave is too invested in the town and its people to see the truth of what is happening there.

 

1980: Rose and Ian Kelly arrive in Barker for supplies before they begin shearing at Jacksonville Station, a couple of hundred kilometres out of town. Rose, heavily pregnant with their first babies, worries that despite Ian’s impending fatherhood he remains a drifter who dreams of the open road.

 

The twins arrive early and while Rose recuperates in town after a complicated birth, Ian stays at the Station to finish the shearing. When Ian turns up at job’s end ready to collect them all and move on, Rose is adamant that she and the twins need the support of the community in Barker. Impatiently, Ian sets off alone, leaving Rose and the children behind.

 

2020: After many months of grief over her brother’s illness and death, journalist Zara Ellison is finally ready to begin a new chapter of her life and make a commitment to her boyfriend, Senior Constable Jack Higgins. But when she’s assigned to investigating the Barker arrest, Jack begins to believe that Zara is working against him.

 

It takes a series of unconnected incidents in Zara’s digging to reveal an almost forgotten thread of mystery as to how these two events, forty years apart, could be connected.

 

 

My View:

I wish I had “discovered” Fleur McDonald’s Detective Dave Burrows series a long time ago -unfortunately I judged the books by its cover and hastily disregarded these as “romance”. How wrong was I? Fleur McDonald writes rural crime fiction with a sensitivity and knowledge that makes her narratives believable and her characters empathetic and credible. Fleur McDonald knows small Australian towns.

 

I particular enjoy reading about her protagonist Detective Dave Burrows. Burrows is a knowledgeable cop who has good instincts about people and their intentions, is community minded and liked by most; I’d like to see him come to life on the small screen – I think he would have a big fan following.

 

The Shearer’s Wife is a poignant read. With a dual story time line and a mystery or two, there are so many moments that will cause you to reflect on how difficult life was/is for women in remote locations, whether they be small towns, farms or businesses. This is another intelligent, poignant, engaging mystery from this great writer of small town Australian mysteries. Detective Dave Burrows is my hero 😊

 

Review: Trust – Chris Hammer

Chris Hammer

Trust

Allen and Unwin

ISBN: 9781760877415

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

He violated her past and haunts her present.

Now he’s threatening their future.

She breathes deeply, trying to quell the rising sense of panic. A detective came to her home, drugged her and kidnapped her. She tries to make sense of it, to imagine alternatives, but only one conclusion is possible: it’s her past come to claim her.

Martin Scarsden’s new life seems perfect, right up until the moment it’s shattered by a voicemail: a single scream, abruptly cut off, from his partner Mandaly Blonde.

Racing home, he finds an unconscious man sprawled on the floor and Mandy gone. Someone has abducted her. But who, and why?

So starts a twisting tale of intrigue and danger, as Martin probes the past of the woman he loves, a woman who has buried her former life so deep she has never mentioned it.

And for the first time, Mandy finds denial impossible, now the body of a mystery man has been discovered, a man whose name she doesn’t know, a man she was engaged to marry when he died. It’s time to face her demons once and for all; it’s time she learned how to trust.

Set in a Sydney riven with corruption and nepotism, privilege and power, Trust is the third riveting novel from award-winning and internationally acclaimed writer Chris Hammer.

 

My View:

 This is an exceptional read from Chris Hammer – in fact I think it is the best in the series. The words that springs to mind is “smooth, like a fine whiskey” does that sound corny? It’s what popped into my head after I finished reading this one – how this writer’s style has really grown, matured, developed, progressed…it has a complexity that engages and carries the read along for this exciting ride. The writing appears effortless, smooth, intense.

 

This is a fantastic end (?) to the original premise – we now have fully developed back stories and characters, mysteries, suspense, some sadness and a very satisfying resolution. What more could you want except another drop? Hope there is another in the pipe line Chris Hammer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Either Side of Midnight – Benjamin Stevenson

 either-side-of-midnight


Either Side of Midnight

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Random House

ISBN: 9780143795643

RRP$32.99

 

Description:

An electrifying thriller with a mind-bending premise: One million viewers witness a popular TV presenter commit suicide live on air – yet his twin brother is convinced it was murder.

 

How can it be murder when the victim pulled the trigger?

 

At 9.01 pm, TV presenter Sam Midford delivers the monologue for his popular current affairs show Mr Midnight. He seems nervous and the crew are convinced he’s about to propose to his girlfriend live on air.

 

Instead, he pulls out a gun and shoots himself in the head.

 

Sam’s grief-stricken brother Harry is convinced his brother was murdered. But how can that be, when one million viewers witnessed Sam pull the trigger?

 

Only Jack Quick, a disgraced television producer in the last days of a prison sentence, is desperate enough to take Harry’s money to investigate.

 

But as Jack starts digging, he finds a mystery more complex than he first assumed. And if he’s not careful, he’ll find out first-hand that there’s more than one way to kill someone . . .

 

My View:

Brilliant!

 

Once more I am delighted by the back story – of the film making/tv making process – its so accurate 😊 But there is more to this read that the matter of how tv shows are made; there is a lot of depth to this narrative and the characters and surprising reveals that you will not so coming.

 

Bulimia takes a leading role in this edition; it was discussed in Greenlight but did not have a starring role as it does here. We really feel the daily struggles, the effect on daily life and on those around the afflicted. Its very eye opening.

 

This was a fast paced, compelling read.  The characters, good and bad are really fleshed out – I particularly liked how all had some redeeming feature, something that showed their humanity, no black and whites here, lots of shades of grey, just like life.  One paragraph really stood out for me, it is where a character gives some advice to Jack about dealing with loss, with grief and making peace …it really spoke to me.  (no spoilers here).

 

There is a shout out to social media responsibility/laws etc that flows like a current underneath the main storyline.  This too I thought was very enlightening and sad; how easily lives can be influenced and destroyed.

 

The overall message that I took from this – you don’t always know what is happening with someone from the surface, from the “face” they show to the world.  Ask that question – “Are you Ok?”

 

This is a great crime fiction read, it has so much depth. I look forward to the next book by this author.

 

#FridayFreebie – Bluebird – Malcolm Knox

Bluebird

Malcolm Knox

Allen & Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760877422

RRP $32.99

 

 

Description:

‘If Winton is an aria, Knox is early Rolling Stones.’ The Guardian

A stunning new novel about longing, regret, redemption and the terrible legacy of decades of secrets buried in an Australian beachside suburb.

A house perched impossibly on a cliff overlooking the stunning, iconic Bluebird Beach. Prime real estate, yet somehow not real estate at all, The Lodge is, like those who live in it, falling apart.

Gordon Grimes has become the accidental keeper of this last relic of an endangered world. He lives in The Lodge with his wife Kelly who is trying to leave him, their son Ben who will do anything to save him, his goddaughter Lou who is hiding from her own troubles, and Leonie, the family matriarch who has trapped them here for their own good.

But Gordon has no money and is running out of time to conserve his homeland. His love for this way of life will drive him, and everyone around him, to increasingly desperate risks. In the end, what will it cost them to hang onto their past?

Acclaimed writer Malcolm Knox has written a classic Australian novel about the myths that come to define families and communities, and the lies that uphold them. It’s about a certain kind of Australia that we all recognise, and a certain kind of Australian whose currency is running out. Change is coming to Bluebird, whether they like it or not. And the secrets they’ve been keeping and the lies they’ve been telling can’t save them now.

Savage, funny, revelatory and brilliant, Bluebird exposes the hollowness of the stories told to glorify a dying culture and shows how those who seek to preserve these myths end up being crushed by them.

 

**If you would like to win a copy of Bluebird  by Malcolm Knox, in the comments tell me the title of any other book Knox has written https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/Bluebird-Malcolm-Knox-9781760877422   
entries open to Australian residents , I will conduct a random draw to select 3 winners on 11/9/020   thank you Allen & Unwin**

Review: Torched -Kimberley Starr

Torched

Kimberley Starr

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648571537

 

Description:

An explosive, haunting and utterly compelling crime novel about mothers and sons and the ties that bind them.

 

A small Yarra Valley town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School Principal Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of Caleb who is accused of starting the fire – on purpose. Twelve people are dead, students from her school among them; only a monster would cause such carnage. But where was her son that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.

 

Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?

 

Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save the son she loves.

 

 

My View:

The publishing date for this read was changed a few times due to COVID- 19 issues of restrictions and the coincidental major bush fires in Australia- how difficult it must have been to be planning to release a book whose central character is a fatal bush fires and then an actual fire ravishes huge parts of Eastern Australia, devastating for the author and for the areas affected by the fires.

 

And so, I read this book, was fascinated, loved the tension packed pages, loved the family story and if you have ever wondered how it felt to actually be in the midst of a bush fires – well this read is so believable, so visual…I was “there”, smelling the fire, heat burning my nostrils… And then everything halted. The release was postponed and the book languished on my desk, pretty soon covered in various notes, other books to review…

 

This book is fabulous! It is on my list of “best reads of 2020” and I hope it will soon be on yours.

 

Review: The Long Shadow – Anne Buist

The Long Shadow

Anne Buist

Text Publishing

ISBN: 9781922268709

 

Description:

Write down something about yourself, as a mother, that worries you.

 

Psychologist Isabel Harris has come to the outback town of Riley because her husband Dean is assessing the hospital—the hub of the community—with a view to closing it down. Isabel, mostly occupied with her toddler, will run a mother–baby therapy group. But on the first day she gets an anonymous note from one of the mothers:

 

The baby killer is going to strike again. Soon.

 

Then a series of small harassments begins.

 

Is it an attempt to warn Dean off? Or could the threat be serious? A child was murdered in Riley once before.

 

As Isabel discovers more about the mothers in her group, she begins to believe the twenty-five-year-old mystery of a baby’s death may be the key to preventing another tragedy.

 

My View:

What did I love about this read? So much to enjoy if you stop and take the time to absorb the many themes presented in this read; motherhood, what is home, domestic violence, family violence, racism, small town attitudes, family dramas, sins of the past…for me this was a slow burn with so many fascinating aspects. I particularly liked hearing the voice of the protagonist – her many views on life in the town – as a psychologist  dealing with her clients, her insights into their issues are fascinating, as  an individual suffering her own stresses – again interesting, as a “new comer” to town she has a unique perspective.

 

Now I’ve sampled the thoughtful writing in this standalone I am very keen to read the Natalie King series of thrillers that Anne Buist is well known for.

 

 

Review: The Question of Love – Hugh Mackay

The Question of Love

Hugh Mackay

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760787752

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

What really goes on in a marriage?

 

Richard and Freya are, on the surface, a perfect couple. He has a thriving architectural practice; she plays the violin like an angel. They live in a beautiful home. They seem respectful and caring of one another.

 

They should be happier than they are.

 

In The Question of Love, Hugh Mackay has constructed a novel of stunning originality – both a sympathetic examination of a marriage and a nuanced exposition of the complexities and contradictions of human love.

 

Starkly observed, beautifully written and intricately plotted, The Question of Love explores the myriad ways we resist the terrible beauty of true intimacy.

 

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and bestselling author of 21 books, including What Makes Us Tick, The Good Life and Australia Reimagined. His latest non-fiction book is The Inner Self, published in May 2020 concurrently with his eighth novel, The Question of Love.

 

He has had a 60-year career in social research, and was a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years. Among many honorary appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, chairman of trustees of Sydney Grammar School, the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board and an honorary professor at Macquarie, Wollongong and Charles Sturt universities. He is currently a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Hugh is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and the Royal Society of NSW. In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, he has been awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.

 

My View:

A quirky narrative that looks at the minutiae of relationships.

 

This was an interesting “study” in how we tell the truth, how we tell ourselves a version of the truth, how we manage relationships and the “small things” that can make or break a relationship

 

Mackay employs a “ground hog day” type scenario where we explore the same situation with many what ifs and perspectives. By the time you have completed this read you will be demanding the characters sit down together and air their small grievances, air their truths and really listen to one another. Or is it too late? The characters chose to keep silent for many years, is it now to late to undo the damage the silence created?  Read and decide for yourself.

 

 

 

#FridayFreebie The Last Lighthouse Keeper – John Cook, Jon Bauer

The Last Lighthouse Keeper

John Cook with Jon Bauer

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760875381

Description:

A beautiful memoir from John Cook, one of Tasmania’s last kerosene lighthouse keepers. A story about madness and wilderness, shining a light onto the vicissitudes of love and nature.

‘John Cook’s ripping life story exposes Tasmania’s old kero-fuelled lighthouses: relentless physically and emotionally demanding labour, done under the often cruel vagaries of nature. Noble work that can ultimately redeem a lost soul. Or break them.’ – Matthew Evans

I loved the life of the island, because I knew my body was more alive than it was on the mainland. People asked how we stood the isolation and boredom, but in some ways, it was more stimulating to have your senses turned up.

In Tasmania, John Cook is known as ‘The Keeper of the Flame’. As one of Australia’s longest-serving lighthouse keepers, John spent 26 years tending Tasmania’s well-known kerosene ‘lights’ at Tasman Island, Maatsuyker Island and Bruny Island.

From sleepless nights keeping the lights alive, battling the wind and sea as they ripped at gutters and flooded stores, raising a joey, tending sheep and keeping ducks and chickens, the life of a keeper was one of unexpected joy and heartbreak. But for John, nothing was more heartbreaking than the introduction of electric lights, and the lighthouses that were left empty forever.

Evocatively told, The Last Lighthouse Keeper is a love story between a man and a dying way of life, as well as a celebration of wilderness and solitude.

 

**What an incredible life story unfolds in these pages! Today, thanks to the generous people at Allen & Unwin I have 3 copies of The Last Lighthouse Keeper to giveaway ( toAustralian residents only)  in the comments answer me this: where did the Keeper of the Flame work? Entries close 15th September 2020**