Review: Lenny’s Book of Everything – Karen Foxlee

Lenny's Book of Everything

Lenny’s Book of Everything

Karen Foxlee

Allen and Unwin Australia

ISBN: 9781760528706

RRP $19.99

 

Description:

Our mother had a dark heart feeling. Lenny’s younger brother has a rare form of gigantism and while Lenny’s fiercely protective, it isn’t always easy being the sister of ‘the giant’. A book about finding good in the bad that will break your heart while raising your spirits in the way that only a classic novel can.

 

Lenny, small and sharp, has a younger brother Davey who won’t stop growing – and at seven is as tall as a man. Raised by their mother, they have food and a roof over their heads, but not much else.

 

The bright spot every week is the arrival of the latest issue of the Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world – beetles, birds, quasars, quartz – and dream about a life of freedom and adventure. But as Davey’s health deteriorates, Lenny realises that some wonders can’t be named.

 

A big-hearted novel about loving and letting go by an award-winning author.

 

‘A gorgeous, heartbreaking, and heartwarming book.’ – R. J. PALACIO

 

‘Such a big heart and not a beat out of place.’ – MELINA MARCHETTA

 

‘Tough, tender and beautiful.’ – GLENDA MILLARD

 

‘Unforgettable.’ – ANNA FIENBERG

 

‘Karen Foxlee, you’re a genius.’ – WENDY ORR

 

Author bio: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/popular-fiction/Lennys-Book-of-Everything-Karen-Foxlee-9781760528706

Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who writes for both kids and grown-ups. Her first novel The Anatomy of Wings won numerous awards including the Dobbie Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, Karen’s first novel for children, was published internationally to much acclaim while her second novel for younger readers, A Most Magical Girl, won the Readings Children’s Fiction Prize in 2017 and was CBCA shortlisted the same year.

 

Karen lives in South East Queensland with her daughter and several animals, including two wicked parrots, who frequently eat parts of her laptop when she isn’t looking. Her passions are her daughter, writing, day-dreaming, baking, running and swimming in the sea.

 

 

My View:

Karen Foxlee’s novel, The Anatomy of Wings, is possibly my all-time favourite Australian read so when I saw a new novel by Foxlee I had to read it. The advanced press and glorious reviews for Lenny’s Book of Everything are justified. What a bitter sweet read. What a wonderful exploration of what it means to be a family, the importance of community, hope, love and…life (no spoilers here).

 

This contemporary read can be read and loved by many but maybe not my copy, the pages on my copy are a little damp…*sigh* What a wonderful, poignant, heartbreaking yet satisfying read.

Review: Man at the Window – Robert Jeffreys

Man at the Window

Man at the Window

A Detective Cardilini Novel

Robert Jeffreys

Echo Publishing

ISBN: 9781760683306

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

An atmospheric crime novel with a burning moral dilemma at its heart.

 

When a boarding master at an exclusive boys’ school is shot dead, it is deemed accidental. A lazy and usually drunk detective is sent to write up the report. Cardilini unexpectedly does not cooperate, as he becomes riled by the privileged arrogance of those at the school. He used to have instincts. Perhaps he should follow them now…

 

With no real evidence he declares the shooting a murder and puts himself on a collision course with the powerful and elite of Perth. As he peels back layers, the school’s dark secrets being to emerge. But is his dogged pursuit of justice helpful or harmful to those most affected by the man’s death?

 

Man at the Window is the first in the Detective Cardilini series, set in 1960s Western Australia.

 

 

My View:

Superb! I have discovered a new author to add to my must read list.

 

Should I assume Robert Jeffreys lives in Perth Western Australia? Maybe he is an amazing researcher? Jeffreys writes 60’s Perth like he has lived there, like he is walking through my distant memories of when we first arrived in Perth (1966). I can see the houses, the street scapes, the city, not the privilege of private schools but even in the  public schools I attended teachers were top of the hierarchy and not to be questioned, as a child in those times you did everything you were told by an adult. And so it begins.

 

What a fabulous read! Jeffreys crates empathetic main characters based upon grief and isolation. The protagonist and his son are grieving the loss of a wife and mother, many of the boys in the private school are isolated (by distance) and some grieving the loss of their family during term time. Both groups are vulnerable, both groups elicit empathy. The reader genuinely cares about the main characters here.

 

This is a narrative of contemporary social commentary in a fast paced mystery studded with many ethical dilemmas.  “There’s the law and then there is justice. Who gets to decide?”  A fantastic read that will make it onto my top reads of 2018 list.

 

**I expect to see a film/tv series of this sometime soon.**

 

 

 

 

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: Scrublands – Chris Hammer

 

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Scrublands

Chris Hammer

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760632984

 

Description:

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.

 

A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.

 

Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.

 

Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

 

A compulsive thriller that will haunt you long after you have turned the final page.

 

 

My View:

 “The house is yelling now, screaming in its extremity: screeching steel, exploding timber, roaring fire, drowning out the sound of the receding dragon. Martin is soaking inside his overalls but his face feels paper-dry. He looks at the others, their faces red as if sunburnt. He watches as the shutter on the other side of the window begins to smoke and burn, slowly, almost apologetically. Smoke is gushing under the corridor door. Martin begins to cough uncontrollably, his throat raw.” P. 104

 

Can you feel it? Can you see it? Can you smell it? Bush fire engulfing the house… Chris Hammer delivers a crime thriller like no other. The prose is divine, sometimes irreverent which adds a little dose of humour to the read. You will find yourself transported to small rural town Australia, a town fighting to survive, a town and its inhabitants facing pressures from all sides – Mother Nature is not kind, the extreme weather conditions affecting all, the economy is slowly suffocating resilience out of the town.  The misdeeds of the past and the present collide to bring out the best and the worst in people.

 

This is a spectacular whydunnit that asks the big questions re history and the information we assimilate daily. Whose account of history are we hearing? Who benefits from this dialogue?  Whose agenda is behind this? What /where is the gain? Whose truth are we listening to, influenced by?

 

A fabulous 5 star read – a new author to add to your “Must Read” list and one to add to my “Best of 2018” list. I can’t wait to see this on the big screen and to read what is coming next from this author.

 

 

 

Post Script: The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Nowhere Child by Christian White cover art

The Nowhere Child

Christian White

Affirm Press

ISBN: 9781925584523

 

Description:

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

 

On a break between teaching photography classes, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes she is that girl.

 

At first Kim brushes it off, but when she scratches the surface of her family background in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards a tense, terrifying, and entirely unexpected climax.

 

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent attracting worldwide attention.

 

 

My View:

Fabulous read!

Debut novelists and their novels are often a risk; you don’t know anything about their writing, good, bad or indifferent. You often do not know any one else who has read the book to get a personal recommendation. You open the page totally without any expectations other than hoping that this will indeed be a great read, become your next must read author.

 

Take a risk! There is so much talent waiting for you to discover.  I have just added Christian White to my “must read authors” list. Christian has written a book that is subtle yet thought provoking. He has a written a book that is intriguing, engaging and demands to be read in one sitting. Listen to those demands; clear your calendar, turn off the TV and immerse yourself in this stunning narrative. You will thank me for the recommendation, I have just lessened your risk.

 

PS I predict awards for this book.

 

 

 

Post Script: Ghosted – Rosie Walsh

Ghosted

Ghosted aka The Man Who Didn’t Call

Rosie Walsh

Pan Macmillan Australia

Mantle

ISBN:  9781509886432

 

Description:

It was the perfect love story… until he disappeared.

Imagine you meet a man, spend seven glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything in your life. So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.

But he doesn’t call. And he doesn’t call. And he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong – something must have happened – there’s got to be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason – and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other? The truth.

If you’ve ever found yourself waiting for a call that didn’t come, Ghosted by Rosie Walsh is the book for you.

 

My View:

What a fantastic read! This narrative confused me a little (in a good way) from the glorious cover art to the back page synopsis I thought I was getting a run of the mill romance; something light, something that doesn’t require too much concentration or attention, something…middle of the road.  How wrong was I?

 

A mash up of mystery, life lit and a coming of age story, this book has it all. Beautifully written, engaging…and the twists…this one belongs on   my favourite reads of 2018 list.

 

PS This would make a fab film!

Post Script: The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton

The Craftsman

The Craftsman

Sharon Bolton

Trapeze

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781409174127

 

Description:

Catching him will make her career – and change her forever.

 

August, 1999

On the hottest day of the year, Assistant Commissioner Florence Lovelady attends the funeral of Larry Glassbrook, the convicted murderer she arrested thirty years earlier. A master carpenter and funeral director, Larry imprisoned his victims, alive, in the caskets he made himself. Clay effigies found entombed with their bodies suggested a motive beyond the worst human depravity.

 

June, 1969

13-year- old Patsy Wood has been missing for two days, the third teenager to disappear in as many months. New to the Lancashire police force and struggling to fit in, WPC Lovelady is sent to investigate an unlikely report from school children claiming to have heard a voice calling for help. A voice from deep within a recent grave.

 

August, 1999

As she tries to lay her ghosts to rest, Florence is drawn back to the Glassbrooks’ old house, in the shadow of Pendle Hill, where she once lodged with the family. She is chilled by the discovery of another effigy – one bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself. Is the killer still at large? Is Florence once again in terrible danger? Or, this time, could the fate in store be worse than even her darkest imaginings?

 

 

 

My View:

I read this until I could not keep my eyes open and then picked up the book again when I awoke. Quite possibly the best EVER book I have read !!!!

 

You must get your hands on a copy of this – it is chilling, it will keep you up all night reading and the ending??? Well I never!!! Never guessed this outcome at all. Never realised just who was the wrong doer here, didn’t see this coming.  Didn’t see…well you will just have to read it for yourself.

 

The best part of this book – and there are so many great features – great characters, loved the relationship between Flo and her son, loved the references to the 60’s early 70’s, loved the life lessons woven in….but the best part- this is the first book in a trilogy! More greatness to come- soon I hope.