Review: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone – Felicity McLean

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone

Felicity McLean

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Fourth Estate

ISBN: 9781460755068

 

Description:

We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

 

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

 

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

 

Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

 

 

My View:

Outstanding!

 

If evocative, tension packed mysteries are your thing than don’t miss reading this book.

 

Felicity McLean captures the age of the characters, the idiom and the culture of the 90’s effortlessly – or makes it seem effortlessly.

I was glued to the pages, holding my breath, hoping for a positive outcome. There is so much tension packed into every observation, every comment, and every moment.

 

This is compelling, haunting and thought provoking. I loved every minute of this read.  Is this the best read of the year? I think so. It is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

 

Review: Good Girl, Bad Girl – Michael Robotham

Good Girl, Bad Girl

Michael Robotham

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733638053

RRP$32.99

 

Description:

From the bestselling author of The Secrets She Keeps, the writer Stephen King calls “an absolute master…with heart and soul,” a fiendishly clever suspense novel about a dangerous young woman with a special ability to know when someone is lying—and the criminal psychologist who must outwit her to survive.

 

A girl is found hiding in a secret room in a house being renovated after a terrible crime. For weeks she has survived by sneaking out at night, stealing food for herself and two dogs that are kept in the garden. The nurses at the hospital where she is taken call her “Angel Face” because she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen, or somewhere in between. She doesn’t appear on any missing person’s file, or match the DNA of any murder victim.

 

Six years later, still unidentified, the same girl is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac, when she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult. Psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie and decide if she’s ready to go free, but Evie Cormac is unlike he’s anyone he’s ever met. She’s damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with—the ability to tell when someone is lying. Soon he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.

 

Cleverly constructed, swiftly paced, and emotionally explosive, Good Girl, Bad Girl is the perfect thrilling summer read from the internationally bestselling author David Baldacci called “the real deal.”

 

 

My View:

This is very much a character based narrative and Michael Robotham has provided us with two more wonderful protagonists to follow, Cyrus Haven and Evie.

 

Steadily paced with interesting back stories (and more to be revealed) about both leads this is a book that will leave you wanting more. More back stories, more about the mystery, more about the relationships, more about Cyrus and Evie’s future…just more please 🙂

 

 

 

 

Review: The Day The Lies Began – Kylie Kaden

The Day the Lies Began

Kylie Kaden

Pantera Press

ISBN: 9781925700381

 

Description:

‘Big Little Lies’ meets ‘The Party’

 

“It seemed simple at first – folding one lie over the next. She had become expert at feathering over the cracks to ensure her life appeared the same. But inside, it didn’t feel fixed.”

 

It happened the day of the Moon Festival. It could have been left behind, they all could have moved on with their lives. But secrets have a habit of rising to the surface, especially in small towns.

 

Two couples, four ironclad friendships, the perfect coastal holiday town. With salt-stung houses perched like lifeguards overlooking the shore, Lago Point is the scene of postcards, not crime scenes. Wife and mother Abbi, town cop Blake, schoolteacher Hannah and local doctor Will are caught in their own tangled webs of deceit.

 

When the truth washes in to their beachside community, so do the judgements: victim, or vigilante, who will forgive, who will betray? Not all relationships survive. Nor do all residents.

 

Sometimes, doing wrong can feel completely right…

 

 

My View:

A great exploration of relationships and the truths and half-truths we tell ourselves/our partners when faced with tough decisions, thankfully most of us will never need to discuss the type of incidents that these conversations revolve around.

 

Twisty and complex, this is a slow burning type read where you really get to understand the main characters. I really loved the growth of the relationship between the angst filled teen and the older woman and the big reveals, most I had not guessed.

 

This is a read that asks the big questions, ‘how well do you know your partner?’ and “how well do you know yourself?’ Isn’t it interesting how people’s reactions/personality changes when they are in very difficult, emotional situations?

I think this would make great tv.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Asylum – Jack Adams

Asylum

Delaney & Murphy #1

Jack Adams

Atlas Productions

ISBN: 9780994182203

 

Description:

Something happened here. Behind these walls, in these rooms, on the grounds, at the river. The inmate sketched it all – fine lines. See there, in the negative space, the truth in the pencil strokes. Then he was gone.

Joe was their friend; the man they spoke to through the wire fence of the Lunatic Asylum, and 10-year-old best friends, Nathan Walker and Adam Murphy, knew he wasn’t insane. Then, one day, Joe was gone. Now hitting their thirties—jobs and divorces in their wake—ex-cop, current P.I. Nate and psychiatrist Adam decide to share office space and a receptionist. That’s when the letter arrives advising them that they have received ‘Expectations’. A quaint, old-fashioned bequest delivered by a solicitor which amounts to an inheritance for two boys – left by Joseph O’Connell, a missing-believed-deceased former patient at the River Park Lunatic Asylum.

 

My View:

This is a fantastic debut by Australian author Jack Adams, characters are well developed and empathetic, issued are presented in shades of grey, the locations are rich in detail and very visual. I particularly like how this narrative gives voice to the experience of the disenfranchised, those with illness/mental illness in the community and highlights the huge impact that non-judgemental friendship can have on an individual.  And then there is the mystery.

 

A mystery recounted by reflections of two time periods, the not so long ago past and the current times, this is an enlightening read.

 

I cannot wait to see what Jack Adams writes next – it’s hard to believe this book is his debut, it is written with such skill.

 

 

Review: Love Song – Sasha Wasley

Love Song

Daughters of the Outback #3

Sasha Wasley

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143784562

 

Description:

There was something about Charlie. Something about the way he questioned and teased her, brought her outside of herself … the way he’d made her crash headlong into love just by singing to her.

 

At age seventeen, Beth Paterson was determined to study medicine at university, despite the heartache of losing her mother. Tutoring Charlie Campbell worked well with her plan – but falling in love with him sure didn’t, and neither did getting her heart broken when he abruptly left town.

 

Now Charlie is a big star on the alternative rock scene, while Beth is a respected doctor in her hometown. When Charlie comes back to fight for the tiny community where he was raised, neither one of them can ignore the resurgence of wild attraction they once shared.

 

Beth swore no man would ever hurt her again – least of all this man. But some love songs can never be forgotten, especially when they were written for you …

 

From the author of Dear Banjo comes a book to make your heart sing and your spirits soar.

 

 

My View:

A poignant work of rural fiction, I can feel the author’s passion for her craft, her characters and this series on the pages as I read.

 

This is a fast paced read with complex social issues, engaging characters, passion, romance and optimism.

 

It was fitting that I read this on the remote, dusty land of Hutt River Province, Western Australia, (we are on holidays).

 

A great read that nicely connects the other books and characters of the series and ends with an abundance of optimism and good will.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Rough Diamond (Erica Jewell #1) – Kathryn Ledson

Rough Diamond

Erica Jewell #1

Kathryn Ledson

Pilyara Press

ASIN: B07L3Y6XHV

 

Description:

Funny, romantic and action-packed, Rough Diamond introduces Australia’s unforgettable Erica Jewell.

 

The shock ending to Erica Jewell’s marriage has left a huge hole in her bank balance and a bigger one in her heart. So now this office worker’s goals make a very short list: no surprises, no debt and, definitely, no men. That is, until she finds one bleeding to death in her Melbourne garden one stormy night.

Jack Jones is a man whose emotional wounds are more life-threatening than the bullet in his shoulder. When he recruits Erica to his secret team of vigilantes, Erica suspects her safe, predictable world is about to be inverted.

And she’s absolutely right.

 

My View:

Fun, exciting, mysterious and oh so Australian – I love this read!

Kathryn Ledson has created a wonderful female protagonist, Erica Jewell and in this, the first book in the series, we are introduced to a set of main characters that face adversity head on. This is a thrilling, fast paced mystery that is tempered with humour and a hint of romance.

This series would make fantastic TV! The world is ready to meet Erica Jewell.