Review: Hive – A.J Betts

Hive

Hive (Hive #1)

A J Betts

Pan

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760556433

 

Description:

All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.

 

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.

 

Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

 

A drip? It doesn’t make sense.

 

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.

 

Curiosity is a hook.

 

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

 

 

My View:

Let’s start by admiring the spectacular cover art with its gold embossing, award winning I would suggest.

 

The narrative is simply driven, and quietly spoken which belies the horrors of the actual landscape. Through Hayley’s eyes we explore a futuristic world where the division of labour determines an individual’s existence and pathway to adulthood, a world where dissidents are not tolerated.

 

 

A J Betts has quickly established this “other world”, the main characters and a mystery that is just starting to be unravelled by Hayley in this, the first book in the Hive series. Hayley is the perfect vehicle for us to explore and experience life in the Hive.  She has a naivety, curiosity and intelligence that connects her to the reader.  We care about Hayley. “Does it ever feel to you like life is a puzzle? “ I nodded. It did. “It’s not like that for everyone you know…. For most people life just happens and they don’t ask why or how. They don’t notice the gaps between the puzzle pieces, or wonder what they mean.” (p.243) Hayley is a naturally curious person, and you know what happened to the cat….

 

A great read that will leave you wanting more. A read that all ages can embrace. A read that will leave you thinking, thinking…so many unanswered questions, so much material here to stimulate discussion.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Review: Beneath The Mother Tree – D M Cameron

Beneath The Mother Tree by D M Cameron

Beneath The Mother Tree

D M Cameron

MidnightSun Publishing

ISBN: 9781925227390

 

Description:

A spine-chilling mystery and contemporary love story, Beneath the Mother Tree plays out in a unique and wild Australian setting, interweaving Indigenous history and Irish mythology.

 

On a small island, something sinister is at play. Resident alcoholic Grappa believes it’s the Far Dorocha, dark servant of the Faery queen, whose seductive music lures you into their abyss. His granddaughter Ayla has other ideas, especially once she meets the mysterious flute player she heard on the beach.

 

Riley and his mother have moved to the island to escape their grief. But when the tight-knit community is beset by a series of strange deaths, the enigmatic newcomers quickly garner the ire of the locals. Can Ayla uncover the mystery at the heart of the island’s darkness before it is too late?

 

Wrought with sensuousness and lyricism, D.M. Cameron’s debut novel Beneath the Mother Tree is a thrilling journey, rhythmically fierce and eagerly awaited.

 

 

My View:

This is a unique read. An amazing debut that is sensitively written, evocative, and dreamy, at times with a childlike innocence that beguiles the reader.  There is a wonderful mix of Indigenous and Irish traditional/folk stories that support a strong narrative that focusses on family, family ties and love.  There is a sinister touch as historical and present day crimes intersect where blood has been shed and an evil miasma lurks.

 

This is a powerful story unlike any other I have read. How do you define this read, speculative fiction, love story, historical fiction, faery tale…so many styles create this engaging read.  Maybe we shouldn’t try to define this, we should just read and enjoy.

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: Return to Roseglen – Helene Young

Return to Roseglen by Helen Young cover art

Return to Roseglen

Helene Young

Penguin Random House Australia

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780143787747

 

Description:

At times like these families should be coming together, not tearing each other apart.

 

On her remote North Queensland cattle station, Ivy Dunmore is facing the end of her days. Increasingly frail, all she holds dear is threatened not just by crippling drought, but by jealousy and greed – and that’s from within her own family.

 

Can Felicity, who’s battling her own crisis as her fiftieth birthday approaches, protect her mother and reunite her family under the homestead’s faded iron roof? Or will sibling rivalries erupt and long-held secrets from the past break a family in crisis?

 

 

My View:

This is probably the best contemporary read of the year!  It resonated in some many places.  Intelligent. Brilliant.

 

Families… (Do you hear me sigh?) We may wish for the shiny, happy, well-adjusted family circle that we see on television or in the movies but it’s often not what we get. Families are made up of individuals – with flaws and traits that are unique to themselves, with their own struggles, aspirations, weaknesses and strengths.  Create a situation where all those unique individuals come together to address a family crisis or two and what do you have?  Return to Roseglen.

 

This intelligent novel has glorious remote Australian settings, well developed characters – some you will immediately love, some you will grow to love and some you would cross the road to avoid.  Sound like a family to you? It does to me J

 

 

This novel has so much to offer; Helene Young has incorporated many contemporary social issues in this read without the narrative shouting “Lessons here for all.”  This is life. The narrative is honest. I am sure this journey will resonate with so many readers, it certainly did for me.

 

My only problem with this read – it finished far too quickly, I was invested in this family and wanted more.