Review: Sisters and Brothers – Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer is published by Hachette Australia. $29.99. Out now.

 

Description:

A poignant novel of heartbreak, adoption and a father’s love by beloved bestselling Australian author, Fiona Palmer.

 

Bill, 72, feels left behind after the death of his adored wife. He relies heavily on his only daughter, Sarah.

 

Sarah, career woman and perfectionist homemaker, struggles to keep up with the Joneses. As her husband grows distant, she has no support network.

 

Emma, a down-to-earth nurse and busy mother of three, always dreamed of having a sister . . . But nothing prepares her for the shock results of a routine blood test.

 

Adam, a successful florist, was raised by his mother. As his dreams start to fall into place, he can’t stop thinking about the father he never had.

 

Finally, Michelle is trying to build cake-making into a career. But at 46, has she left her run too late to fall in love, have children and find her birth parents?

 

These five very different people – all connected but separated by secrets from the past – could be facing their futures together. After all, friends will come and go but sisters and brothers are forever . . . The new novel of heartbreak, adoption, family and a father’s love by the Top Ten bestselling author of Secrets Between Friends, Fiona Palmer

 

 

My View:

For me this was a very nostalgic readI loved reading about this era (70’s- 80’s), clichéd as it may be – life was so different then and Fiona Palmer captures the innocence of youth (distilled into the character of the protagonist, Bill) juxtaposed against rapid changes in communications, music, health care, technology, the developing women’s’ rights movement…this is a sociology lesson without the homework 🙂

 

This is a narrative that is built on a foundation of secrets. It is poignant, reflective and ultimately healing. This is a most enjoyable read but don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two as you join Bill on his life’s journey.  Heart-warming, nostalgic, romantic, love affirming…this book has it all.

PS whilst reading this I was inspired to paint this – don’t you think it shouts 70’s to you?

 

carol's art

 

 

Guest Review: The Artisan Heart – Dean Mayes

The Artisan Heart

 

The Artisan Heart

Dean Mayes

Central Avenue Publishing

ISBN: 9781771681421

Description:

Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

A chance encounter with a precocious and deaf young girl introduces Hayden to Isabelle Sampi, a struggling artisan baker. While single-handedly raising her daughter, and trying to resurrect a bakery, Isabelle has no time for matters of the heart. Yet the presence of the handsome doctor challenges her resolve. Likewise, Hayden, protective of his own fractured heart, finds something in Isabelle that awakens dormant feelings of his own.

As their attraction grows, and the past threatens their chance at happiness, both Hayden and Isabelle will have to confront long-buried truths if they are ever to embrace a future.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Another soul-destroying event beckoned – paediatrician Hayden Luschcombe was exhausted from his relentless shift but knew his wife would expect him to be there on time. Well, THAT wasn’t going to happen. The look on Bernadette’s face when he finally arrived was not a surprise to Hayden – rather it was the norm. But it was the shocking discovery after another shattering day that spurred Hayden into action. His life wasn’t his own anymore; there was nothing in Adelaide to keep him there and the home he’d known all his life in the little Victorian town of Walhalla felt like a sanctuary.

The little cottage had collected dust and started to fall apart in the three years since his father had passed, but Hayden decided to fix the house that he remembered fondly from his childhood. His mother would be sad to see the state of her beloved garden – Hayden had nothing else to do, and the work would keep his mind away from the past…

A little girl began hanging around Hayden’s cottage – it turned out that she was deaf and the daughter of Isabelle Sampi, another memory from Hayden’s past. But Genevieve was a clever, gifted child and adorable as well – Hayden became friendly with both Genevieve and her mother, who was starting up her own bakery. Her bread and other treats were divine; she was popular with the townsfolk.

But there was danger looming. What would be the outcome for the town; for both Isabelle and Hayden who both had secrets in their pasts?

The Artisan Heart by Aussie author Dean Mayes is a gentle and tenuous romance, threaded with suspense, tension and a tumultuous past. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and loved the character of Genevieve; her stubborn and determined interactions by signing with those around her and her devotion and love of her mother. Romantic suspense at its best! A highly recommended 5 star read.

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

Review: Greenlight- Benjamin Stevenson

Greenlight

Greenlight

Benjamin Stevenson

Penguin Books Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143789871

 

Description:

Four years ago Eliza Dacey was brutally murdered.

Within hours, her killer was caught.

Wasn’t he?

 

So reads the opening titles of Jack Quick’s new true-crime documentary.

 

A skilled producer, Jack knows that the bigger the conspiracy, the higher the ratings. Curtis Wade, convicted of Eliza’s murder on circumstantial evidence and victim of a biased police force, is the perfect subject. Millions of viewers agree.

 

Just before the finale, Jack uncovers a minor detail that may prove Curtis guilty after all. Convinced it will ruin his show, Jack disposes of the evidence and delivers the finale unedited: proposing that Curtis is innocent.

 

But when Curtis is released, and a new victim is found bearing horrifying similarities to the original murder, Jack realises that he may have helped a guilty man out of jail. And, as the only one who knows the real evidence of the case, he is the only one who can send him back …

 

 

My View:

About Benjamin Stevenson (https://www.penguin.com.au/authors/benjamin-stevenson):

 

Benjamin Stevenson is an award-winning stand-up comedian and author. He has sold out shows from the Melbourne International Comedy Festival all the way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and has appeared on ABCTV, Channel 10, and The Comedy Channel. Off-stage, Benjamin has worked for publishing houses and literary agencies in Australia and the USA. He currently works with some of Australia’s best-loved authors at Curtis Brown Australia. Greenlight is his first novel.

 

I have just finished reading Greenlight and wanted to know a little bit about the author as I was very impressed with this debut.  What a surprise – a comedian? There is no comedy in Greenlight.  Works in the publishing industry, I was sure I was going to find but didn’t – works in the film industry, specifically on documentaries, his protagonist Jack has an authentic documentary maker voice.  I loved this aspect of the book.

 

Back to the book – this is a brutal, dark and intriguing crime fiction narrative.

 

I like how Stevenson has turned the stereotype regarding eating disorders on its head; a sad yet refreshing and honest approach here.

 

Consequences, guilt, redemption and acceptance are themes that are sited in small town prejudices. Tension, tension, tension. And the ending – no spoilers here. Think you have it worked out? Think again.

 

A great read.

 

Review: Second Sight – Aoife Clifford

Second Site Aoife Clifford

Second Sight

Aoife Clifford

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925596892

 

Description:

A fugitive in the present. A runaway in the past.

 

Eliza Carmody returns home to the country to work on the biggest law case of her career. The only problem is this time she’s on the ‘wrong side’ – defending a large corporation against a bushfire class action by her hometown of Kinsale.

 

On her first day back Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate that crime and hunt for Luke they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district. Eliza is convinced that they belong to someone from her past.

 

As Eliza becomes more and more entangled in the investigation, she is pulled back into her memories of youthful friendships and begins to question everyone she knows … and everything she once thought was true.

 

My View:

The book is an outstanding read! It goes straight onto my Best of 2018 reads list and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes great crime fiction/mystery.

I predict awards for this book in the near future and I can visualise this novel as a base for a script for a movie. The characters, the tension and the setting as so evocative the words leap off the page and onto that screen.  A fabulous read, if you haven’t already read this then you are really missing out.

 

Review: Retribution – Richard Anderson

Retribution

Richard Anderson

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925713404

 

Description:

A rural-crime novel about finding out how to survive and surviving what you find.

 

In a small country town, an act of revenge causes five lives to collide. Early one Christmas morning, Graeme Sweetapple, a man down on his luck, is heading home with a truck full of stolen steers when he comes across an upended ute that has hit a tree. He is about to get involved with Luke, an environmental protestor who isn’t what he seems; a washed-up local politician, Caroline Statham, who is searching for a sense of purpose, but whose businessman husband seems to be sliding into corruption; and Carson, who is wild, bound to no one, and determined to escape her circumstances.

 

Into their midst comes Retribution, a legendary horse worth a fortune. Her disappearance triggers a cycle of violence and retaliation that threatens the whole community. As tensions build, they must answer one question: is true retribution ever possible — or even desirable?

 

 

My View:

A gripping page turner that will make you gasp at the injustice (there are a few but one really, really nasty and evil one that will have you groaning in despair, no spoilers here) and then there is triumph!  You will cheer on the protagonists and celebrate their victories when “something worthwhile and more than an act of simple vengeance” p.311 leaves a smile on your face as you pump your fist in the air. YES!!!!

 

I did enjoy this read!

 

Another author to add to your must read list.

 

 

Guest Review: The Desert Nurse – Pamela Hart

The Desert Nurse

The Desert Nurse

Pamela Hart

Hachette AU

ISBN: 9780733637568

 

Description:

Amid the Australian Army hospitals of World War I Egypt, two deeply determined individuals find the resilience of their love tested to its limits

It’s 1911, and 21-year-old Evelyn Northey desperately wants to become a doctor. Her father forbids it, withholding the inheritance that would allow her to attend university. At the outbreak of World War I, Evelyn disobeys her father, enlisting as an army nurse bound for Egypt and the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Under the blazing desert sun, Evelyn develops feelings for polio survivor Dr William Brent, who believes his disability makes him unfit to marry. For Evelyn, still pursuing her goal of studying medicine, a man has no place in her future. For two such self-reliant people, relying on someone else for happiness may be the hardest challenge of all.

From the casualty tents, the fever wards and the operating theatres of the palace; through the streets of Cairo during Ramadan, to the parched desert and the grim realities of war, Pamela Hart, beloved bestselling Australian author of THE WAR BRIDE, tells the heart-wrenching story of four years that changed the world forever.

Brenda’s Review:

Sublime, captivating, heartbreaking, brilliant! These words and more describe Aussie author Pamela Hart’s latest novel. The Desert Nurse is set in the early 1900s when a young Evelyn Northey had just turned twenty-one and expected to receive her mother’s inheritance so that she could study in Sydney to become a doctor – a dream she’d held since she was thirteen years of age. But her father was a staid, old fashioned man, and although a doctor himself, refused to allow his daughter the same privilege. He would hold her money until she turned thirty, or until she married, in which case the money would become her husband’s…

Training with a friend of her father’s in the Taree Manning Base Hospital as a nurse was the best Evelyn could do. She was grateful beyond words for his help – and when she presented the certificate to her father and he ripped it up, she informed him she had another; she was also heading to Cairo as a nurse and there was nothing he could do to stop her. World War I had begun – doctors and nurses would be needed, and Evelyn was determined to do her bit.

As the Heliopolis Palace was turned into the 1st Australian General Hospital, patients began arriving from the disastrous Dardanelles campaign; some were walking wounded, others had shocking injuries. But Dr William Brent, although struggling with a weak leg from polio as a child, was a hard-working, doggedly determined and compassionate doctor, and with Sister Northey by his side, they often worked twenty hours straight in theatre, with barely a break.

Four years of blood, sweat and tears – of heartache and loss; of hope and fear. And feelings that grew, whether they wanted them to or not. What would be the outcome for Evelyn and William – for the many others affected by a horrific and unnecessary war?

Pamela Hart writes historical fiction with seeming ease. The words flow; the research is obvious; the pages turn themselves. I’ve loved her previous historical fiction novels, and this one didn’t disappoint. The cover is perfect for the story; the red-haired beauty is Evelyn to a tee – the background picture of the hospital tents on the front line as I imagined. I can’t recommend The Desert Nurse highly enough – 5 stars.

With thanks to Hachette AU for my ARC to read and review.

Post Script: The Escape Room – Megan Goldin

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin cover art

The Escape Room

Megan Goldin

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143785477

 

Description:

‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’

 

In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.

 

When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.

 

Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

 

‘Fantastic – one of my favorite books of the year.’ Lee Child

 

 

My View:

With a terrific opening hook – the prologue reveals gun shots and a river of blood as the elevator opens its doors – now to find out how/who did it and why because this is a book where the why is so very important and the who will surprise you.

 

Megan Goldin excels once again with her second novel, The Escape Room, a psychological mystery told in alternating chapters; the elevator with the unravelling psyches of those who are trapped, and the protagonist, Sara Hall’s story. An engaging and disturbing read.

 

**And look what popped up in my news feed today in https://www.perthnow.com.au 

The best tricks for surviving in a falling elevator:

 

CUSHION THE IMPACT

If you’re travelling with luggage (or anything big and bulky) the best thing to do is lay or stand on top of it.

Whether it’s a suitcase, handbag or briefcase, make sure you get on top of it to cushion the blow.

That’s because it’s possible that the items you’re on top of can break the force of impact and act like a crumple zone in a car.

 

LAY FLAT ON FLOOR

The best way to survive a falling lift is to lie flat on the elevator floor with your arms and legs spread out in a starfish shape.

This means you distribute the force of impact across your entire body and there is less chance of serious injury to one area.

You need to use the part of your body with the most fat on to cushion the blow, and try to protect your head and neck.

However, experts warn that it’s important to be aware of any shrapnel or debris which may come loose and hit you as you land.

Don’t panic — the fatality rate of using a lift is only 0.00000015 per cent or one in 650,000,000 rides, so you’d be really unlucky to find yourself in that position.

But, in the very unlikely event that you do, your best bet is to lay flat.

This story first appeared in The Sun