Join me in the blog tour that celebrates the launch of Sandy Vaile’s new book “Combating Fear.” There will be an interview (and vlog), a giveaway and my review of this action packed read.
Here it is December 2016 already. I cant believe it – this year has flown by, life has been busy; a grandson was born and he is now 8 months old. Recipes have been tried and tested and many books have been read and reviewed – around the one hundred seventy mark thus far.
I am enjoying sharing the joy of reading with my grandson (with appropriate titles) – it is never too early to encourage a love of reading.
Recently I invited a couple of ardent readers to share some of their favoruite reads on my site – to broaden the type of book reviews available here. I hope you find some new favourite books and authors. Thank you Bec and Brenda.
The reading year has not yet wound up – there is a blog tour ahead; the launch of Rachel Amphlett’s new police procedural series, Scared to Death. There is a Q & A with debut Perth writer Anthea Hodgson, a Christmas menu to compile and share and a series of “best of 2016 reads” for you to comment on and…more reviews.
Seasons greetings to you.
The Rarest Thing
It’s 1966, and a mountain pygmy possum – a species that scientists considered to be long-extinct – is discovered in the Victorian High Country and transported to Melbourne where newspapers dub it ‘the world’s rarest creature’.
Thirty-year-old Dr Katharine Wynter is a palaeontologist who’s more comfortable with ancient bones than live human beings, particularly men – an exotic species of which she has little personal experience, apart from a predatory professor who has made her working life hell.
Having studied the tiny possum in fossil form, Katharine is curious to see it in the flesh, but her much anticipated visit is disrupted by the presence of wildlife photographer, Scott King, taking pictures for an international magazine.
Before long, Katharine finds herself thrown together with Scott on a quest to locate the miniature marsupials in their habitat – the rugged Australian Alps. Along the way, the timid scientist discovers a side to her character she never knew existed, while the dashing photographer abandons his bravado and confronts memories he’s hidden for decades.
As for the elusive possums, the cute little creatures lead their pursuers on a merry chase…
For this review I will try something a little different – I will start with the cover and work through the elements of the book I enjoyed – and I did enjoy this read.
To begin with I was approached by the author Deborah O’Brien to see if I was interested in receiving a copy of her latest book and perhaps reviewing it on my blog. This began a series of communications where I was introduced to the lovely Deborah, her new project and the mountain pygmy possum. As a book reviewer and blogger there is nothing more pleasurable than establishing a working relationship with an author. Relationship established I will now commence my review.
“Looking along the Blue Rag Range towards Mt Hotham, the inside front and back covers: Wildflowers at Blue Rag Trig with Mt Feathertop in the background.” This is the special gift edition paperback with a 360 gsm cover (which won’t curl), coloured endpapers and other non-standard features. (It is also be available as an eBook), though you won’t get the same depth of vision with an eBook copy. This cover is stunning and allows the reader to imagine themselves into the setting of the book, Victorian High Country.
The next page – the author states this book is inspired by a true event – “the discovery of a creature thought to be long extinct. It was such a big event at the time that the Guinness Book of Records featured the mountain pygmy possum as ‘the rarest animal on Earth’ in its 1967 edition.” (Author’s correspondence). And prefaces the prologue with this quote by Oscar Wilde: “To live is the rarest thing in this world. Most people exist, that is all.” I was primed to read this book, to immerse myself in the isolated natural settings and all things 1960’s.
And what followed was totally unexpected. The prologue, set in Sydney 1941 details a rich and loving relationship between a father and his young daughter (the protagonist, Kathy, as a child). Here the father plants the seed that the daughter can be anything she likes, even a palaeontologist (and don’t forget this is 1941 – such ambitions for a woman were unheard of). I loved the relationships described in this opening – there is love, laughter, respect and mutual admiration and support. Further, the elements of family, conservation and feminism are subtly woven into the prologue and are to become important themes in the narrative.
For me the overarching theme in this narrative is one of the feminists’ struggle for equal opportunities in education, the workplace and …life and relationships in 1960’s and beyond. O’Brien exposes some heartbreaking criminal behaviour in this novel (no spoilers here)…sadly behaviours like this have not been eliminated in our so called enlightened age. (See Zoë Morrison’s Music and Freedom for more on this theme).
So despite the sumptuous cover, the elegant introduction and the heart-warming scenes of family in the early pages, this narrative has a dark core that will surprise you. There are plenty of meaty issues within these pages to affect the discerning reader and a number of twists and some references to an unreliable narrator that will keep you on your toes.
This is a surprising read; at times it reads almost as a journal, private and personal. Yet the narrative is larger than just the personal, this multilayered drama is peppered with pop culture references, history, conservation, social issues, isolated beautiful settings and is written with a feminist bent. This is a story that will fully engage you, surprise you and at the same time shock you as family secrets are revealed.
A most enjoyable read. Thank you Deborah O’Brien – it has been a pleasure to discover your writing.
Thanks to Jenn J McLeod for stopping by my blog and sharing with us her thoughts about writing, life on the road and the release of her new book, The Other Side of the Season.
Picture this—life on the road:
Just wake up in the morning after a great night’s sleep, have a stretch and a yawn, and mull over a moreish brekkie of camp-fire cooked bacon, eggs and damper about which way to point the caravan today.
Sounds perfect, yeah?
Perfect fiction, maybe!
Almost two years of being gypsies, my partner and I are still trying to fit into the rhythm of life on the road and still meet publishing deadlines. We have no regrets, we haven’t killed each other—yet, nor have I missed a deadline—yet, and there’s been no Thelma and Louise moments either (*touch wood*), but there are things I wish we’d known before setting out, like how hard it would be to sleep when you can hear everything from boxing kangaroos fighting over territory to cows chewing their cuds. And let me tell you, the pitter-patter of rain on a tin roof might be lovely in a house. Sheeting rain, gale-force winds, thunder and lightning is the only time I miss the safety of bricks and mortar. Then there are things like:
“Umm,” I reply, “Only if you have room in that workshop for two people (including one a crazy writer) and a one-eyed dude-dog called Daiquiri who thinks she’s a Great Dane.”
The final thing I wish someone had told me earlier was to get out there and give it a go. What an incredibly positive influence the camping/caravanning life is having on my writing. Not only am I seeing and hearing and sensing things I’m sure I never noticed in the city, everything is clearer, crisper, and more colourful. My senses are in overload and they are inspiring lots of new stories.
So, yeah, the gypsy life has its charms and its qualms and life is now full of compromises—something my characters have to come to terms with in The Other Side of the Season.
Come to think of it, just about everyone in this book is having to compromise in some way in order to learn and grow.
So, yes, compromises are a fact of life (and, it seems, of fiction).
Book information and BUY links – www.jennjmcleod.com/book-room
Connect with Jenn on Facebook www.facebook.com/jennjmcleod.books and Twitter @jennjmcleod or join in the discussion at Readers of Jenn J McLeod Facebook group (no cat memes allowed!)
This is the perfect Australian (based in Qld) authentic voiced, police procedural.
Time To Run
J M Peace
A Time to Run is a tense crime thriller set in the Queensland bush featuring a cop-turned-victim and a Wolf Creek-style killer.
J.M. Peace is a serving police officer on the Sunshine Coast and over the past 15 years she has worked throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities.
J.M. writes with chilling authenticity and a strong Australian voice.
The hunt is on
A GRUESOME GAME
A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.
A FRANTIC SEARCH
Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent die on her watch.
A SHOCKING TWIST
The killer’s newest prey isn’t like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.
A RUN FOR YOUR LIFE.
I loved this read – with its authentic police voice, its gripping narrative, its wonderful strong female protagonists and its Queensland setting.
The details of policing/investigating that the author shares with the reader are intriguing and realistic. Too often crime fiction novels or movies/TV series based on crime fiction skip a lot of these type of details, giving their protagonists the power to do as they please, how they please. This narrative reveals the reality of the work, chapters alternate between settings in the police station where we see the hard work being played out and the legal requirements being adhered to juxtaposed against scenes of Sammi in the forest, scenes of the practical against the tense, emotional and terrifying.
Jay Peace subtly weaves important lessons into this narrative when she chooses a cop as the victim of this crime; consciously or unconsciously her voice is saying “this could happen to you, if it can happen to a cop it can happen to anyone.” She is saying don’t blame the victim, it is not her fault she was targeted, blame the perpetrator.
The pace is fast, the tension grows as we race to find Sammi. The reader often finds themselves asking “what they would do if in this situation.” Sammi is practical, focussed and realistic, the hint of paranormal/Angels adds an extra dimension to her character and to the read. Is she hallucinating? Is she dreaming? I loved this element of the story – just a wisp of “other worldly” adding interest and asking questions that the author lets you answer.
A great debut novel that only leaves one question unanswered, when is the next book in this series ready for release?
During the week I will share a Q & A with the author and host a giveaway of the book on my Friday Freebies 🙂
To see what other book bloggers thing about this novel – check out the other participants on this blog tour here.
The Fixer is back!
Fixed in Blood
A Justice Novel (Mort Grant #4)
T. E. Woods
Random House Publishing Group
Perfect for fans of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter thrillers and the novels of Lisa Gardner and Karin Slaughter, the gritty, action-packed Justice series continues as a depraved mind taunts those who seek retribution on both sides of the law.
I become whatever they want. Whatever they need.
Seattle Chief of Detectives Mort Grant is still reeling from losing his daughter—again. When Allie first walked back into his life, breaking years of silence, he could hardly believe his luck. And after hearing her story, Mort tried to do everything in his power to keep her safe. The only person he trusted with Allie’s life was The Fixer. But, for the first time, The Fixer let him down.
Now Mort has been called in on a gruesome murder case: a beautiful young woman found in a ravine, her body riddled with stab wounds. Within twenty-four hours, the police uncover a snuff film depicting her murder, the killer’s face always just out of shot. When a second body and video are discovered, Mort knows this is no ordinary case.
From a chain of sleazy payday loan shops to the dark underworld of the sex-slave trade, Mort’s chasing a twisted menace to hell and back. But he’s not the only one. Once again, The Fixer is on the hunt—and she’s desperate to make things right.
Plenty of action, plot twists, mystery and the protagonists we all love – Mort and Dr Lydia aka The Fixer; both have the same goals but different methods of achieving them. I am so pleased The Fixer is on this case; I love hearing her particularly realistic and sensible discussion with her clients, I love her need to establish justice. The Fixer is a great protagonist – she has the time and money to dig deep, to chase the details that will help solve the puzzles. She is smart, determined, vulnerable and flawed. A great heroine.
There are moral dilemmas, mob hits, drug lords, manipulation, abuse and thuggery, snuff films, PTSD and l family/relationship issues. I guess you could day this novel has it all. When I read The Unforgivable Fix I said that was the best in the series – that position has now been trumped by this book! I can’t wait for the next in the series.
I am very pleased to share with you the upcoming blog tour dates for the book Season of Shadow and Light by Jenn J McLeod. Jenn J McLeod is a much loved Australian author and as you may know I am very keen to support Australian writers. Save these dates and look out for some interesting reviews, interviews and comments. My part in the tour – is an interview with Jenn where I will tackle all the hard questions – in particular regarding her experiences as she combines caravanning, travelling and writing – all my favourite things:)
About Ermisenda Alvarez:
Now she’s working on a joint project with coauthor Eliabeth Hawthorne. Ermisenda has written Leocardo’s perspective of Blind Sight #1, the first book in an urban fantasy series that changes depending on whose perspective you’re reading. So the question is, “whose eyes will you read through?”
Bloody mistakes, ugly scars, and beautiful lies. A tale of corruption.
Helen Gardener is murdered on a trans-Atlantic cruise. The Diamond Royale sails from Southampton to New York with her murderer aboard. Set in the 1950s, Poisoned Waters follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by her death. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.
Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer?
It is not doubt that Ermisenda Alvarez is a passionate writer – the lush descriptions in her work Poisoned Waters attest to this fact. The premise of a murder on board a cruise ship, locked down, isolated…the killer among them, provides a great story line however I did not feel that the required level of tension was achieved to fully realise the potential of this narrative. I think this novel admirably reflects the attitudes towards women at the time – women as possessions, as adornments, with no rights, the receivers of silent, unnoticed domestic abuse… totally dependent on men to meet their needs.
I think that Ms Alvarez shows her potential as an upcoming writer in this book, however this book was a little too busy and the characters hostile and unpleasant for my liking and thus I did not really connect with or care for any of the characters. Some beautifully written passages, elements of visual excellence and a plot that has all the elements for a great mystery. This is a writer who will blossom with expert guidance.