#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 11/04/020   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 mist 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**

#FridayFreebie – Wasp Season – Jennifer Scoullar

Wasp Season

Jennifer Scoullar

Pilyara Press

ISBN: 9780648308942

 

Description:

You’ll never see a wasp in the same way again …

When Beth’s marriage ends, she’s determined to build a new life in the country for herself and her children. A quiet life lived closer to nature. She thinks she’s achieved the impossible – a civilised separation, a happy home and a cordial relationship with her estranged husband, Mark. There’s even the promise of new love on the horizon. But when Mark tries to change the rules, Beth’s peaceful world is turned upside down.

Disturbingly, she also discovers that European wasps have invaded her garden. Beth’s obsession with them and their queen holds up a distorted mirror to the human drama. As the chaos in Beth’s life gathers momentum, connections between the two worlds come sharply into focus. The lives of Beth and the others are neither separate to, nor safe from, the natural world.

AUTHOR’S NOTE
In this series of Wild Australia Stories I tell tales of the people, wildlife and land that I love. But there is more to wild Australia than brumbies, dingoes, dolphins and the magnificent outback.

As a passionate conservationist and amateur naturalist, I’m interested in all aspects of nature. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not always about the big things. Little creatures have a surprising impact on our lives. If you’re squeamish about insects, look away now. If you’re fascinated by the Australian bush and the way all creatures great and small are connected, then Beth’s story is for you.

– Praise for Wasp Season –

-There is an ironic twist to this tale, a violent and sudden twist that will leave the reader gasping. Wasp Season is a fascinating study of nature and humans.– Wendy O’Hanlon, Acres Australia

– ‘A thrilling story that describes both human and insect life in detail as they become intertwined … an unforgettable, unputdownable trip into a garden that, on the surface, seems like a quiet refuge.’ – John Morrow, World of Books and Music

– ‘Scoullar, it turns out, is a writer of documentary calibre.’ Australian Literary Review

 

** I have one copy of Wasp Season, courtesy of the author,  available to an Australian resident to win – it’s simple – in the comments name one other book Jennifer has written.  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4428836.Jennifer_Scoullar
Competition closes  8th August 2020. Good luck **

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: 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.

 

 

 

Review: The Mummy Animal Book – Jennifer Cossins

The Mummy Animal Book

Jennifer Cossins

Hachette Australia

ISBN:  9780734419897

RRP $9.99

 

Description:

An adorable and informative picture book about mummy animals and their babies from the author of THE BABY ANIMAL BOOK and 101 COLLECTIVE NOUNS.

 

Did you know that a mother peacock is called a peahen and a baby peacock is called a peachick?

 

THE MUMMY ANIMAL BOOK is an adorable and informative picture book about mummy animals and their babies that is perfect for Mother’s Day, from the author of the CBCA Notable THE BABY ANIMAL BOOK.

 

 

My View:

This is another delightful book from one of my favourite children’s authors and illustrators.  Jennifer Cossins once again delivers a children book that is engaging, beautifully illustrated and educational. You are sure to enjoy the time you sit with your pre schooler sharing this beautiful book.

PS Anyone looking for a gift for the many kindy parties your child will be attending, this book is perfect. Be assured that you will be giving a gift of learning and joy; encouraging reading is such valuable habit to inspire and it is a bargain too.

 

 

 

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Guest Review: Colombiano – Rusty Young

Colombiano

Rusty Young

Havelock & Baker Publishing

ISBN: 9780143781530

 

Description:

In Colombia you have to pick a side. Or one will be picked for you . . .

All Pedro Gutiérrez cares about is fishing, playing pool and his girlfriend Camila’s promise to sleep with him on his sixteenth birthday. But his life is ripped apart when Guerrilla soldiers callously execute his father in front of him, and he and his mother are banished from their farm.

Swearing vengeance against the five men responsible, Pedro, with his best friend Palillo, joins an illegal Paramilitary group, where he is trained to fight, kill and crush any sign of weakness.

But as he descends into a world of unspeakable violence, Pedro must decide how far he is willing to go. Can he stop himself before he becomes just as ruthless as those he is hunting? Or will his dark obsession cost him all he loves?

Colombiano is an epic tale of rural villages held to ransom, of jungle drug labs, cocaine supermarkets, witch doctors and buried millions, of innocent teenage love, barbaric torture and meticulously planned revenge.

Superbly told and by turns gripping, poignant and darkly comic, Colombiano is the remarkable story of a boy whose moral descent becomes a metaphor for the corruption of an entire nation. Both blockbuster thriller and electrifying coming-of-age story, Rusty Young’s powerful novel is also a meditation on the redeeming power of love.

Brenda’s Review:

As fifteen-year-old Pedro Gutierrez was forced to watch his father being murdered, he vowed he would do everything in his power to get vengeance against the men responsible. Grieving, angry and determined, Pedro and his best friend Palillo joined the Autodefensas – opposition to the powerful and brutal Guerrilla, the group that the men he would kill belonged to. Pedro had been a naïve teenager whose love for his girlfriend Camila, his mother and father, as well as fishing with his Papa had kept him innocent. His life would change dramatically in the two and a half years he was with the Autodefensas.

Pedro’s obsession with finding his father’s killers overrode any common sense he might have and Palillo did all he could to keep Pedro from doing crazy things. But would the world of violence he had descended into turn him into a killer as well? Would he turn into one of the monsters he was pursuing?

What an incredible tale, told by Aussie author Rusty Young after his seven years in Colombia where he interviewed special forces soldiers, snipers, undercover intelligence agents and members of the brutal gangs which were at war in the country. The child soldiers were the ones who tore his heart apart, and so, in telling their story, Colombiano was born. Blending fact with fiction, this story – at 820 pages – is a long one, but one well worth reading. Pedro was an excellent character as was Palillo and I was captivated by the story; by the heartache and poignancy which saw a coming of age story along with a thriller like none I’ve ever read before. A superbly told story, Colombiano is one I highly recommend. 5 stars

With thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.