Guest Review: At The End of the Day – Liz Byrski

At the End of the Day

Liz Byrski

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760987893

Pam’s View:

I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.

The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.

This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.

The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.

Review: Lucy and Copper

Lucy and Copper

Mandy Foot

Lothian Children’s Book

Hachette

ISBN: 9780734420282

RRP $16.99

Description:

Smudge has been Lucy’s best friend since she was little. But these days, Lucy is too big to ride her beloved pony.

Lucy is sure no one can replace Smudge, even when Pa brings home a new horse called Copper. Can Lucy grow to love Copper just as much?

A story that will warm the heart of every animal lover, from the bestselling author-illustrator of Joey & Riley and The Wheels on the Bus.

My View:

This is the perfect book to transition your pre-schooler from the first easy read/picture books type of beginnings to following along with an actual narrative, a great read!  

A perfect bedtime read, engaging, not too long and the illustrations are gorgeous.

Review: Still – Matt Nable

Still

Matt Nable

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733644740

RRP $32.99

Description:

STILL is an evocative, confronting and page-turning thriller from a brilliant Australian writer. If you loved THE DRY and SCRUBLANDS, you will love STILL.

Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

My View:

The hype did not mislead, this is a brilliant read! Powerfully written; emotive, evocative, filmic, tragic, an expose of historical violence and racism in a remote town, intriguing with more than a few dead bodies (and some nearly so).

This book is a time capsule of the 60’s in regional Australia; the idea of women’s rights, women as directors of their own destiny, is just starting to surface, witness the Stolen Generation policy in action, the fear it generated, the family disruptions, as we are taken back to the not to distant past, a past that can be confronting and challenging.

Women’s rights, racism, violence, corruption, revenge and the isolation of distance intersect and interact in often heart-breaking scenarios, yet there is hope. There is an amazing read. Be prepared to be transported to another time and another place. Be prepared for nail biting tension… and crocodiles.

I will most certainly be looking for more reads by this author.

P S Love the cover art.

Review: The Book Of Australian Trees – Inga Simpson

The Book of Australian Trees

Inga Simpson

Illustrations Alicia Rogerson

Lothian Children’s Books

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780734418531

RRP $29.99

Description:

Trees tell stories about places. Australia has some of the tallest, oldest, fattest and most unusual trees in the world. They have changed over thousands of years, adapting to this continent’s deserts, mountains, and coasts. Many have found clever ways of dealing with drought and fire.

Their leaves, flowers and seeds are food for birds, insects and mammals. Old trees have lots of hollows, which make good homes for possums, sugar gliders, birds and bees. But trees aren’t just important for other animals, we need them too. What trees breathe out, we breathe in. They are a vital part of the Earth’s ecosystems.

When you first stand in a forest, the trees all seem the same. But if you look more closely, they are each a little different, like people. This book is a love song to Australian trees, from the red ironbark to the grey gum, the Moreton Bay fig to the Queensland bottle tree.

My View:

This is such a beautifully illustrated book! Inga Simpson is a writer and tree lover – her passion for the natural world is evident in all she writes, fiction and non-fiction. Although this book is touted as a children’s read, I think this book is more than that; it is amazingly illustrated and any art lover will enjoy flicking though the pages, it is a great read for anyone interested in the natural world of Australian flora (although I would like to see this expanded to cover more varieties and more regions), this book would make a great gift to send to a relative overseas.  

A delightful book.   

Review: The Chase – Candice Fox

The Chase

Candice Fox

Bantam

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9781760896799

RRP $32.99

Description:

When more than 600 of the world’s most violent human beings pour out from Pronghorn Correctional Facility into the Nevada Desert, the biggest manhunt in US history begins.

But for John Kradle, this is his one chance to prove his innocence, five years after the murder of his wife and child.

He just needs to stay one step ahead of the teams of law enforcement officers he knows will be chasing the escapees down.

Death Row Supervisor turned fugitive-hunter Celine Osbourne is single-minded in her mission to catch Kradle. She has very personal reasons for hating him – and she knows exactly where he’s heading …

My View:

Over the past few weeks, I have read 3 books that I am prepared to say are the best reads of 2021. Each are in different categories, each is memorable, remarkable, enjoyable, well written and coincidentally written by an Australian author. Each is an immersive read – you will not want to put these 3 books down; you will not want the stories to end.

This is the second book.

Don’t pick this book up and expect to read a few chapters and then go to bed…uh uh. This book won’t let you rest until you have finished reading. It is fast paced, character driven (oh how I loved the two protagonists), engaging, enticing, enthralling, exciting and I absolutely loved reading this engaging book.

I believe this to be Candice Fox’s best work to date. How is she going to surpass this one? I can’t wait to find out.

PS I do believe the movie rights to this book will be snapped up soon (if not already).   

I do have one bone to pick with Candice though, since I finished reading this, I have not been able to pick up another crime/thriller read and they are my favourite genre.  I have a serious book hangover 😊

Check out what other book reviewers have thought of this read – I think you will find they all agree with me.

Review – The Emporium of the Imagination – Tabitha Bird

The Emporium of Imagination

Tabitha Bird

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 139781760895914

Description:

From the author of A Lifetime of Impossible Days (winner of the Courier-Mail People’s Choice QLD Book of the Year Award) comes this beautiful and uplifting story, that will make you laugh and make you cry.

Welcome to The Emporium of Imagination, a most unusual shop that travels the world offering vintage gifts to repair broken dreams and extraordinary phones to contact lost loved ones.

But, on arrival in the tiny township of Boonah, the store’s long-time custodian, Earlatidge Hubert Umbray, makes a shocking realisation. He is dying . . .

The clock is now ticking to find his replacement, because the people of Boonah are clearly in need of some restorative magic.

Like Enoch Rayne – a heartbroken ten-year-old boy mourning the loss of his father, while nurturing a guilty secret.

Like Ann Harlow, who has come to the town to be close to her dying grandmother. Though it’s Enoch’s father who dominates her thoughts – and regrets . . .

Even Earlatidge in his final days will experience the store as never before – and have the chance to face up to his own tragedy . . .

‘Prepare to immerse yourself in wonder, childish delight and dark, dark trauma in this unique novel from a new and important Australian literary voice.’ Australian Women’s Weekly on A Lifetime of Impossible Days.

My View:

Over the past few weeks, I have read 3 books that I am prepared to say are the best reads of 2021. Each are in different categories, each is memorable, remarkable, enjoyable, well written and coincidentally written by Australian authors. Each is an immersive read – you will not want to put these 3 books down; you will not want the stories to end.

This is the first of those 3.

This is the second book written by Tabitha Bird and sadly I missed the first but this read has convinced me to hunt down and read “A Lifetime of Impossible Days”. THIS book is remarkable; evocative, magical, heart breaking, encouraging, community building…life affirming…glorious! Fabulous! Poignant – you will tear up a little at times. It has so many themes woven into this magical narrative – the biggest takeaway for me is about missed opportunities and righting mistakes, about misdirection’s and false starts and getting back on track, about doing what you are passionate about, loving who you love, caring for the community – you never know what someone else’s life looks like inside the façade they present to the world.   It is never too late to mend, heal, follow your dreams.  

And it is about grief – all consuming, overwhelming, life changing, grief.  Grief in all its forms, grief that is intense, grief that changes how we live, and the intimate, personal grief for oneself, the for the child within that has been pigeonholed, held back, controlled…this book cuts those chains and releases the soul to be what it is destined to be.

A superb read!!!

Guest Review: Invisible Boys- Holden Shepperd

Invisible Boys

Holden Sheppard

Fremantle Press

ISBN: 9781925815566

Rachel’s View:

A gritty, authentic and emotional story of three teenage boys grappling with their identities in a country town. With heart-wrenching honesty, a dash of humour and all-to-real descriptions of rural life that are both beautiful and devastating, Invisible Boys is the kind of book you can get lost in. Holden’s multi-award winning YA novel has been called a “once in a generation” debut, exploring the crushing feeling of being made to feel like an outsider in the place that should be your home. It’s raw, angst-ridden and at times will have you cringing at the situations the characters find themselves in, but ultimately the undeniably relatable sense of aching is tempered with hope. #invisibleboys

Guest Review: The Lucky Galah – Tracy Sorensen

The Lucky Galah

The Lucky Galah

Tracy Sorensen

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781760552657

Description:

It’s 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Crouched around a single grainy set, radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare at the screen, transfixed, as Armstrong takes that first small step.

I was in my cage of course, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson’s story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight…

The Lucky Galah is a novel about fate. About Australia. About what it means to be human. It just happens to be narrated by a galah called Lucky.

 

Brenda’s Review:

Evan and Linda Johnson and their young daughter Jo drove from Melbourne to the small town of Port Badminton in Western Australia for Evan to take up the position of radar technician, communicating between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. It was the 1960s and the Moon landing was imminent – the installation of the gigantic Dish caused great discussion among the residents…

The Johnson’s moved into a home two down from the Kelly family. The children would become great friends – Marjorie and Linda became unlikely friends. Enter “Cocky” when Kevin Kelly acquired the galah as a pet for his children. Caged and untended, Lucky began her narration of the life and perks of her humans and own flock high above. And Lucky discovered her communication with the Dish – something all galahs were able to do apparently.

As life moved inexorably toward events already written, Lucky continued to keep the readers up to date with the sometime hilarious, always insightful comments whilst drinking tea and eating biscuits with Lizzie 😊

What a quirky, original and fascinating novel by debut writer Tracy Sorensen! The Lucky Galah captivated me from the start to the finish with its complete difference. I loved Lucky as we discovered her (yes she’s a female!) life story from tiny chick to how she became part of Lizzie’s life. Highly recommended – 4 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan AU for my ARC to read and review.

Guest Review: Amber and Alice – Janette Paul

Amber and Alice

Amber and Alice

Janette Paul

Penguin Random House Australia

ISBN: 9780143783084

 

Description:

Take a hilarious road trip into the Australian outback in this witty romantic comedy, with an enticing family mystery thrown in!

When Amber Jones wakes up in her sister Sage’s speeding car, with no idea how she got there (though the hangover is a clue), all she wants to do is go home. But Sage is convinced a road trip to Alice Springs will finally answer the burning question: who is Amber’s father? Because nine months before Amber’s birth, her late mother Goldie made the same trip . . .

Armed with just a name and Goldie’s diaries, Amber agrees to search for a man she’s never met in one of the world’s biggest deserts.

And that means spending two weeks in a convoy of four-wheel-driving tourists and camping in freezing desert nights. To make matters worse, her fellow travellers hate her and the handsome tour leader Tom thinks she’s an alcoholic.

But slowly the desert starts to reveal its secrets – and Amber must decide which horizon to follow . . .

 

Brenda’s View:

The speeding car, the disorientation, the torn stockings and the bird’s-cage in her mouth had Amber completely confused – where was she, why was she here, and most importantly; why was she with her sister?! Sage wasn’t someone Amber spent a lot of time with; she was the complete opposite to Amber’s meticulous, sensible and organised self – but as the memories gradually returned, she was struck with a horrid slide-show of the previous night…

Sage had “kidnapped” Amber, determining she needed a change in her life and the road trip with a tag-along tour group to Alice Springs was just the thing. But Amber was used to hot showers, her morning coffee from a nearby café and shopping. How would she do camping – in a tent; AND with her sister? But when Sage mentioned Amber’s father – the man she had never met – and the fact that their mother had made the same trip where she’d met him twenty eight years previously, Amber finally and grudgingly agreed…

Nothing seemed to go right for Amber right from when they met up with the tag-along group in the little town of Denman in NSW. Each and every member of the group thought Amber was either crazy, or an alcoholic. And the more Amber tried to get it together, the more it all fell apart. Would their long road trip make things better or worse? Would Amber find her father? And was it possible that she and Sage could be close again?

Amber and Alice is a laugh out loud journey through Central Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs, with towns like Dunedoo, Coober Pedy and Uluru along the way. Aussie author Janette Paul has written a wonderful novel about finding your inner self, and the trouble you can get into along the way. I loved it! I found myself having to smother my laughter quite a number of times – it was such fun! 5 stars! Highly recommended.

With thanks to Penguin Random House AU for my ARC to read and review.

Last But Not Least – A Fantastic Four Book Give Away

I think you will agree that I have had some very special giveaways listed on my blog today, but they represent just a small sample of the talent that is Australian writers!  Next time you are selecting a book to read – at a bookshop, library,  airport news agency, online or in person, as a gift or for yourself consider Aussie authors – there is so much choice, so much talent in this country.

And speaking of talent, if you are not lucky enough to win this awesome book pack generously provided by Echo Publishing, you owe it to your self to seek out a copy of these contemporary eclectic reads.  And by the way – what do you think to these covers?  Magnificent aren’t they ? For your chance to win this 4 pack book treat, it is so simple, in the comments tell which cover art displayed here, speaks to you.

****Giveaway open to Australian residents only. Giveaway ends midnight 28 January 2017.

le-chateau

Le Chateau

Description:

When Charlotte regains consciousness after an accident, she finds herself living a stranger’s life. The previous five years are a blank, and her husband, Henri, and daughter, Ada, are strangers. Arriving at their family chateau in southern France, she hopes to regain her memories. Instead, she feels isolated and unsettled. Strange events hint at underlying darkness and menace. Charlotte doesn’t know who to trust.

Did she really have an affair with their charming Irish neighbour, as her enigmatic mother-in-law suggests? And what of Henri? He seems loving and kind, a good parent, but Charlotte is wary. Then there is Ada, a little girl who just wants her mother back.

With the help of her friend and fellow Australian Susannah, Charlotte starts to piece together events, but her newfound confidence is shaken with news that puts a deadline on her quest…

 

resurrection-bayResurrection Bay 

Description:

Caleb Zelic, profoundly deaf since early childhood, has always lived on the outside – watching, picking up tell-tale signs people hide in a smile, a cough, a kiss. When a childhood friend is murdered, a sense of guilt and a determination to prove his own innocence sends Caleb on a hunt for the killer. But he can’t do it alone. Caleb and his troubled friend Frankie, an ex-cop, start with one clue: Scott, the last word the murder victim texted to Caleb. But Scott is always one step ahead. As he delves deeper into the investigation Caleb uncovers unwelcome truths about his murdered friend – and himself.

 

 

skin-deep

Skin Deep

Description:

When washed up journalist Harry Hendrick wakes with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out.

When more tattoos appear — accompanied by visions of war-torn Afghanistan, bikies, boat people, murder, bar fights and a mysterious woman — he begins to dig a little deeper.

There’s a federal election looming, with pundits tipping a landslide win for opposition leader Andrew Cardinal. Harry knows there’s a link between these disturbing visions and Cardinal’s shadowy past, and is compelled to right wrongs, one way or another.

Skin Deep is the thrilling, layered, genre-bending debut novel of Brisbane author and journalist Gary Kemble.

 

ida

Ida

Description:

How do people decide on a path, and find the drive to pursue what they want?

Ida struggles more than other young people to work this out. She can shift between parallel universes, allowing her to follow alternative paths.

One day Ida sees a shadowy, see-through doppelganger of herself on the train. She starts to wonder if she’s actually in control of her ability, and whether there are effects far beyond what she’s considered.

How can she know, anyway, whether one universe is ultimately better than another? And what if the continual shifting causes her to lose what is most important to her, just as she’s discovering what that is, and she can never find her way back?

Ida is an intelligent, diverse and entertaining novel that explores love, loss and longing, and speaks to the condition of an array of overwhelming, and often illusory, choices.