Guest Review: Last Bridge Before Home – Lily Malone

Last Bridge Before Home

Lily Malone

Harlequin Enterprises AU

ISBN: 9781489250506

Description:

For Jaydah Tully, the country town of Chalk Hill has never felt like home. Home is a place to feel loved. Home is a place to feel safe. Jaydah’s home life is dark in ways the close-knit community could never imagine.

Jaydah knows that the man she loves has never understood her need for secrets. Brix is a Honeychurch, she’s a Tully – her family are Chalk Hill’s black sheep. It’s better for everyone if Brix stays away.

But Brix is a one-woman man, and when he returns to his home town to help his brother, the first person he sees is Jaydah. Independent. Private. Proud. When things are good between them they are really really good but all too soon they’re back in the old patterns, caught in the same argument: Her father. Her family. Her life that doesn’t include him.

Underneath her tough exterior, Jaydah is drowning. She has one chance to change everything. Is she brave enough to take the risk and let Brix in? Or will her father keep them apart forever?

 

Brenda’s Review:

Jaydah Tully had always loved Brix, just as he loved her, but she couldn’t let him in. The life she led was one no one could know about. She was twenty-seven years old and still lived at home – but she couldn’t leave without her mother and sister. So Jaydah put up with it, hoping that one day things would change.

Brix Honeychurch was home in Chalk Hill for the weekend, helping his brother Jake at the farm. His winery three hours away was his life now, but he always had a lot of time for his family. Once again Brix caught up with Jaydah; once again they had the same old argument. It was frustrating for Brix, but also for Jaydah…

Until the day Jaydah came up with a solution. Would it work? Could the plan she’d come up with save the three Tully women? And what of the man who made their lives hell?

Wow! Last Bridge Before Home is a breathtaking, heart-in-mouth read by Aussie author Lily Malone. My heart was pounding – I was so worried for Jaydah and her mum and sister. The horror of domestic violence is explored in Last Bridge Before Home; the gleeful pleasure the perpetrator takes over his victims is terrifying. The novel was captivating, delightful, funny in places – the darkness ebbed and flowed. 3rd in the Chalk Hill series, Last Bridge Before Home is one I highly recommend. 5 stars.

With thanks to HarperCollins AU for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Damascus – Chris Tsiolkas

Damascus

Chris Tsiolkas

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760875091

 

Josh’s View: 

I don’t read to escape. I read to learn. To come to a new understanding or insight. I want to be a better person because of what I read.

That’s why, when I heard Christos Tsiolkas being interviewed on the ABC about his new novel Damascus, I knew I had to read it.

In the interview Tsiolkas talked about grappling with his sexuality in his early teens, and how St. Paul’s first letter to Corinthians regarding condemning homosexuality was the catalyst for him moving away from Christianity. But in his late 20s a personal crisis saw him in a church where he discovered St. Paul’s writing once again, but in a different light, a more compassionate one. That was the early spark that lead him to write Damascus.

Being gay myself, I have an aversion to most organised religions, so wanted to know what happened to Tsiolkas and how could he reconcile those letters to the Corinthians? Would reading Damascus give me the same inner conversion that Tsiolkas had reading St. Paul? Could I learn to accept people who didn’t accept me? Could I be a better person after reading it?

Firstly, Damascus is not for the weak of stomach. I have a high tolerance for most things, but even I had to turn away at times. This is what I loved about the book. Tsiolkas doesn’t give you today’s highly polished sanitised version of Christianity, he strips you bare, and leads you deep into the filth, muck, shit, piss and blood that lined the streets of Jerusalem and the Middle East almost 2000 years ago. And he doesn’t let up. His extensive research about what life and conditions were really like, only sharpens the contrast of today’s idea of the Christianity.

Thankfully, Damascus has given me a much deeper understanding of how radical Jesus’ message was back then. In a time of entrenched class systems, where you couldn’t move left, right up or down, where if you were born a slave you were always a slave – to say something like, ‘everyone is equal in the eyes of God’, was punishable by death. To have a group of people opening their doors, feeding and caring for you, and saying that you are loved regardless of who you are, was a radical act.

And that’s what the early followers of Yeshua (Jesus) did.

Familiar phrases that have become religious wallpaper today, like, ‘Turn the other cheek’, are given real context. Characters in Damascus breathe life into them, and show what they really mean, even if they struggle to do so themselves.

Tsiolkas gives the early Christian message critically important social and historical context and shows how real people dared to live it, all whilst grappling with their human frailties and ingrained cultural prejudices and biases.

I couldn’t help compare today’s evangelical Hillsong Church, and it’s million dollar stadium churches, with the people of 2000 years ago. The people who risked death to live the teachings of a man who said to give away everything, love your neighbour and that God loves everyone, no matter who they are.

For me, it felt like Tsiolkas was trying to strip away all the religiosity, and two millennia of multiple interpretations of Christ’s message, to find what was at the heart of it, especially what St. Paul was really trying to say.

Damascus is a big book, a brave book and it’s hard reading. I had to put it down often and will myself to get back into the headspace to keep going. But I’m glad I did.

When I write my kids books, I want children to be changed by what they read, and I know Christos Tsiolkas wanted me to be changed by what he wrote. And he has done just that.

Am I a better person for reading Damascus? I really think so.

 

Josh Langley

Award winning author, illustrator and daydreamer

 

Review: From the Ashes – Rowena Holloway

From The Ashes

(Ashes to Ashes #3)

 Rowena Holloway

Fractured Press

ISBN: 9780648205210

 

Description:

 The gripping conclusion to the page-turning Ashes To Ashes psychological thriller series

 

To expose the truth, she’ll trade the only thing she has left…

 

Journalist Charlotte Ashe has sacrificed her credibility, her friendships and her career. With no job and no prospects and a soon-to-be invalid working visa, she needs a big story. Fast. Her single lead is Blaxon Hall, a private brain injury clinic owned by Tyrone Garner.

 

And Tyrone Garner has become an obsession…

 

When Charlotte uncovers mystery surrounding the recent deaths of residents at the Hall, she knows she’s found her story. Are the deaths natural or murder? Does a killer lurk at the Hall? And why is Garner determined to keep his past, and his visits to the Hall, a secret?

 

But the closer she gets to the truth the real question becomes whether she can trust what she sees. Is she exposing the truth or is it all a figment of her overwrought imagination?

 

Then Blaxon Hall is consumed by fire. And one of the missing is Charlotte Ashe.

 

Lies kept her safe. Until Charlotte Ashe discovered the truth.

And his enemies found his weakness.

 

Read From The Ashes today and get lost in a labyrinth of twists that will leave you guessing until the last page.

 

 

My View:

Once again Rowena Holloway excels in her provision of the despicable, the violent and so credible “bad guy (s)” that in a few instances I had to stop and take a break from reading – such was the tension created on the page.

 

From the Ashes is the 3rd book in the Ashes to Ashes series is in my opinion the strongest in the series; perhaps that is because we have been on this journey with Charlotte and are invested in the outcome. Perhaps it’s because we see a different side of Charlotte – a more caring and selfless person who has developed a caring relationship with the residents of Blazon Hall.

 

Stay on this journey for a very twisty ride. I really enjoy the style of the writing – the different view points, the back and forward. There are many red herrings and wrong turns before the final exciting and satisfying ending.

 

This series is a great read.

 

PS I really like the cover designs on these books too.

 

Review: Darkness For Light – Emma Viskic

Darkness For Light

A Caleb Zelic Thriller

Emma Viskic

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760685812

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

After a lifetime of bad decisions troubled PI Caleb Zelic is finally making good ones. He’s in therapy, reconnecting with the Deaf community, and reconciling with his beloved wife.

But he can’t escape his past.

A violent confrontation forces Caleb back into contact with his double-crossing partner, Frankie. When her niece is kidnapped, Frankie and Caleb must work together to save the child’s life. But their efforts will risk everything, including their own lives.

 

My View:

I think I’ve been waiting all year for this book!

 

Those who know me personally, that is, in real life, will have heard me lament what I have experienced as a very lean year for crime fiction readers.  Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that the crime fiction books I have read are lacking in readability or excitement, they have just been lacking. For some reason so many excellent literary/contemporary reads have found their way to my mail box – some truly remarkable, outstanding reads but I am at heart a crime fiction reader and reviewer…and it feels like I have been waiting for this read all year!

 

This is an outstanding read (and just quietly between you and me, I’ll let you know now that this book is going to tie for my best crime fiction read of the 2019!)  Shhhhh…my “Best of Lists” haven’t been prepared yet but the minute I started reading this latest offering from Emma Viskic I knew that had a winner here.

 

I am not going to say anymore except I won’t be giving anything away but if you have enjoyed the Caleb Zelic thrillers you will adore this latest book! It is THE BEST of the three and it brings together two of my favourite characters – Frankie and Caleb – their relationship is complex and in this edition there will be revelations that will cause you palpitations.  It’s not all gloom though, there is optimism and hope for the future in this read.

 

Enough said, look out for this book which is sure to be on many “Best of 2019” lists and I predict will earn a place in many of next year’s crime fiction wards

 

 

 

Review: You Don’t Know Me – Sara Foster

You Don’t Know Me

Sara Foster

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781925685367

 

Description:

He’s guarding a dark secret, but so is she.

 

Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her. She was his first crush, his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

 

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared, under a darkening cloud of suspicion, and now he’s back for the inquest into Lizzie’s death – intent on telling his side of the story.

 

As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce on holiday. They fall for each other fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken – she carries a terrible secret of her own.

 

Is the truth worth telling if it will destroy everything?

 

 

My View:

Sara Foster is an excellent storyteller and a nice person to boot 🙂

What Sara always does well:

Dialogue – always realistic, fitting of the age groups involved/the relationships, the times.

Relationships – so well developed and again, realistic.

Surprises – the twists are good and in this one I couldn’t see the revelation coming.

The writing – always engaging.

 

What more could you want in a book?  A great read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Starting From Now – Fleur MacDonald

Starting From Now

Fleur McDonald

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760529284

 

Description:

A suspenseful novel of rural life and real country issues from our genuine Voice of the Outback, author of the bestselling Where the River Runs

 

When twenty-five-year-old journalist, Zara Ellison receives her mother’s ominous text message, Call me when you can, Zara knows it’s not good news.

 

Two weeks later, Zara has left her much-loved city life to relocate to Barker, the sleepy country town in which she grew up. For Zara, family comes first.

 

But she needs to work too, and the town’s police force is a rural journalist’s best source of information. Meeting Detective Dave Burrows and Dave’s second-in-charge, Senior Constable Jack Higgins, is a priority.

 

Amid her family’s troubles, and reporting on farming accidents and violently clashing activists, Zara is shocked to witness Jack Higgins in a role she’d never have believed. How could he possibly justify this? And what was she going to do about it?

 

Wrapped in the love of family, friendship, crime and mystery, Starting From Now is another compelling novel from the authentic voice of Fleur McDonald.

 

 

My View:

Fleur McDonald has an authentic country voice that she uses to share her experiences and knowledge of life in small country towns, farming and life in general. This narrative had a couple of standout plot threads – activism and social media – looking deeper, reflecting on “snapshots” on social media and media manipulation and the family in crisis.

 

I was particularly touched by the family scenes that dealt with family crisis (no spoilers here); the scenes were realistic, emotive and evoked memories that transported me to a difficult period in our lives. This was unexpected but very well written. I felt part of this family, dealing with their issues.

 

 

This book packs a mighty punch, cleverly weaving many plot threads together to bring about an informative, insightful and satisfying read.

 

 

 

Guest Review: The Life She Deserves – Maggie Christensen

The Life She Deserves

Maggie Christensen

Cala Publishing

ISBN: 9780648522423

Description:

Two old friends. A new relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

Growing up in the small Australian country town of Granite Springs, Jo and Col have been lifelong friends.

Following Jo’s divorce and the death of Col’s wife, the pair find comfort in their common grief. But as they tentatively explore their new relationship, they have little idea of the challenges that lie ahead.

What they haven’t bargained for is Jo’s interfering ex, along with their three children, all of whom have their own agendas.

Can Jo ride out the storm? Will she be granted the life she deserves?

 

Brenda’s Review:

When Alice died, her husband Col and best friend Jo were devastated. She had suffered a long time – she was now at peace. The three of them had been friends for a lifetime, now Col and Jo comforted each other with dinner out twice a week, always at ease in each other’s company. Gradually the respect and friendship they shared grew to more, and with it being a year since Alice had died and five years since Jo’s divorce, they were happy to explore their new relationship.

But Eve, Jo’s daughter and Danny, her son, were determined Jo should live her life the way they saw fit. It was only Rob, her youngest son, who was on Jo’s side, completely understanding her need for companionship and love. And it was Gordon, Jo’s ex, who was the biggest thorn in her side. What was she going to do? Would she go along with her children’s plans for her, letting them ride roughshod over her own needs and wants? Or would she rebel and have the life she deserved?

The Life She Deserves is the 1st in the Granite Springs series for Aussie author Maggie Christensen and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author depicts older characters extremely well and with both Jo and Col turning 60 in this story, Jo with adult children and grandchildren, the complexities of family and relationships shines through. A wonderful story, The Life She Deserves is one I highly recommend and I’m looking forward to book two already. 5 stars.

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