One Goal Achieved…

I reduced my reading expectations this year knowing that life would be busy once our grandson came along.  And it has been – beautifully, spectacularly and gorgeously busy. Being a grandparent is the best experience – so much love!

 

Anyway enough of my gushing. I did achieve my Goodreads challenge (150 books) and will add a few more reads and reviews before the year is out. Next I must update my Australian reading challenges pages…

 

good-reads 2016

Since I decided to blog my book reviews my ideas, ambitions and reviewing skills have changed as my experience has grown.   This year, as I mentioned life has been busy and so I am considering adding the occasional guest reviewer to keep the blog fresh and to provide me with some breathing space to catch up on some of my reviews. What do you think to that idea?

Finally I share my dream for the future – to be paid to read and review… if you know how I can make this happen, let me know:)  This would be the most perfect job!  Dreaming…yes I know.

 

 

Post Script: Crucifixion Creek – Barry Maitland

cover Crucifixion Creek Barry Maitland

Crucifixion Creek

Barry Maitland

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250072146

 

Description:

A meth-addicted biker shoots a woman during a police siege. An elderly couple commit suicide on the terrace of their favorite café. An unidentified white male is stabbed to death in the street.

 

 

For Sydney homicide detective Harry Belltree, not long out of the military and a grueling tour of Afghanistan, these three deaths appear to be just another day at the office. Until, that is, he identifies the stabbing victim as his own brother-in-law Greg, and journalist Kelly Pool suggests there’s a link between the three incidents. It seems Greg and the old couple had ties to the same man, a corrupt money man with a murky past and friends in both high places and low.

 

 

Harry Belltree can’t get officially involved in Greg’s murder, but he’s not going to leave it in the hands of others. That’s when he goes off-grid to investigate the links between these deaths. That’s when things start to get dangerous.

 

 

My View:

 

I am very pleased to make the acquaintance of Barry Maitland. I want to read all of your books!

 

This is the first book written by Barry Maitland that I have read – and again I ask – why haven’t I come across your writing before Barry?

And when is the TV series/big screen movie being released?

 

This book – the first is the Harry Belltree series is written in contemporary Australia but could probably be sited almost anywhere in the modern world – issues relating to war/returned soldiers, human trafficking, drugs, gangs, bikies, methamphetamines, grief, love…crime, so much is encompassed in this read.

 

What I loved –  a very fast-moving, well written and engaging character based narrative. I loved the images of Harry dancing in the dark with his blind wife; so personal, humanity exposed.

 

I loved that the protagonist is written is all shades – grey, black, white and mixtures thereof. Harry’s day job involves working on one side of the law – however Harry is complicated; he works both sides…A great character, a relatable character. A great read!

 

 

Post Script: Deadly Messengers – Susan May

Deadly Messengers Susan May cover

Deadly Messengers

Susan May

Digital Contact

ISBN: 9781517127060

 

Description:

3 massacres, 2 detectives, 1 writer, 0 answers

 

Freelancer Kendall Jennings writes fluff pieces for women’s magazines. When a horrific massacre occurs at Café Amaretto, she scores an exclusive interview with a survivor. Suddenly, she’s the go-to reporter for the crime.

 

Investigating veteran detective Lance O’Grady and his partner Trip are tasked with finalizing the open and shut case. Seven people are dead at the hands of an unprovoked killer wielding an axe. It seems simple.

 

Then another mass killing occurs. This time, arson, and ten eldercare facility residents die in the blaze. Both killers die at the scene. The crimes have no motive, and Lance O’Grady is left wondering how evil can strike twice.

 

Then it happens again. Even more shocking: a mother with a gun goes on a rampage at a family birthday party.

 

The killers share one odd detail: none have a murderer’s profile. No history of violence, no connection to terrorists, no vendettas. Ordinary citizens suddenly became killers.

Drawn deeper inside the crime investigation, Kendall finds herself not only clashing with O’Grady but also struggling with old demons. O’Grady resents Kendall’s involvement as her presence provokes memories of a personal tragedy.

 

O’Grady and Kendall are caught up in a plan greater reaching than the crimes. They just don’t know it. Someone is sending a message. And unless they can decipher the meaning, very soon, many more will die.

 

Deadly Messengers is a page-turning thriller taking readers into the minds of mass killers in all their disconcerting madness. It poses the question: Is there a killer lurking inside everyone? The answer could prove more frightening than the crimes.

 

My View:

Recipe for Compulsive Reading:

Mix together the following:

One cup horror (those opening scenes are pretty horrific).

One cup crime fiction.

One cup science fiction/science fact.

Add a dollop of incredibly well written, fast paced, action packed narrative.

Stir and imbibe.

Guaranteed to produce a satisfying outcome!

 

 

***Note from the author:

Are you looking for a page turning thriller read? I’m looking for early readers/reviewers!

If you would like a FREE copy of DEADLY MESSENGERS,  email me at  susanmay21@iinet.net.au and I will be happy to send an e-copy in any format to suit your reader or app.

This offer is open until the 30th September.

 

 

Post Script: First One Missing – Tammy Cohen

Compulsive reading!

First One Missing Tammy Cohen Cover

First One Missing

Tammy Cohen

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Doubleday

ISBN: 9780857522771

 

Description:

A page-turning psychological thriller with the gripping plot of GIRL ON A TRAIN and the chilling suspense of BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP …

 

There are three things no-one can prepare you for when your daughter is murdered:

 

– You are haunted by her memory day and night

 

– Even close friends can’t understand what you are going through.

 

– Only in a group with mothers of other victims can you find real comfort.

 

But as the bereaved parents gather to offer support in the wake of another killing, a crack appears in the group that threatens to rock their lives all over again.

 

Welcome to the club no one wants to join.

 

 

My View:

Compulsive reading!

Tammy Cohen writes crisp and pure psychological thrillers –the emphasis is on the story and the lives affected by a shocking event. Ms Cohen is a skilled writer; she writes a great narrative that engages and keeps the pages turning. Ms Cohen shows a great understanding of characterisations – her characters have a depth that makes them credible and allows the reader to empathise with or understand the motives of. Further the twist in plot that is revealed toward the end is a total surprise – you will not see this one coming, you will never guess this one at all – there are no breadcrumbs scattered along the way that lead you to this conclusion – there is just surprise, and sadness and understanding.

 

A great read! I will definitely be adding Ms Cohen to my list of must read authors.

Post Script: Splinter The Silence – Val McDermid

Splinter the Silence Val McDermid Cover

Splinter the Silence

Val McDermid

Little, Brown

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9781408706909

 

Description:

‘That day, waiting had been almost unbearable. He wanted something more spectacular, something that couldn’t be ignored. These deaths needed to make a mark . . .’

 

Psychological profiler Tony Hill is trained to see patterns, to decode the mysteries of human behaviour, and when he comes across a series of suicides among women tormented by vicious online predators, he begins to wonder if there is more to these tragedies than meets the eye. Similar circumstances, different deaths. Could it be murder? But what kind of serial killer wants his crimes to stay hidden?

 

Former DCI Carol Jordan has her own demons to confront, but with lives at stake, Tony and Carol begin the hunt for the most dangerous and terrifying kind of killer – someone who has nothing to fear and nothing to lose . . .

 

My View:

To begin perhaps we should have a little look at Hachette Australia’s website https://www.hachette.com.au/books/detail.page?isbn=9781408706909 at the biographical notes for Val McDermid;

 

“Biographical Notes

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.”

 

After reading the book (the 9th in the Carol Jordon & Tony Hill series) and then reading the Val McDermid’s bio – what is there left to say that hasn’t already been said? This award winning author writes her characters with ease and realism, the plot is complex yet not complicated, the pages turn over almost of their own volition, so keen are they to share their secrets with you. Brilliant.

 

And did I mention the intro? What a great hook – being privy to the murderous thoughts and plans of the villain of the piece – of course you want to read more, know more! Go ahead- but plan nothing else for the rest of the day – this book will demand your earnest attention. Fan? Me? YEP!

 

 

Post Script: I Forgot To Remember – Su Meck with Daniel De Vise

The perfect book club read.

I Forgot to Remember Su Meck Cover

I Forgot to Remember

Su Meck and Daniel De Vise

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781451685817

 

Description:

In 1988 Su Meck was twenty-two and married with two children when a ceiling fan in her kitchen fell and struck her on the head, leaving her with a traumatic brain injury that erased all her memories of her life up to that point. Although her body healed rapidly, her memories never returned.

Yet after just three weeks in the hospital, Su was released and once again charged with the care of two toddlers and a busy household. Adrift in a world about which she understood almost nothing, Su became an adept mimic, gradually creating routines and rituals that sheltered her and her family, however narrowly, from the near-daily threat of disaster, or so she thought. Though Su would eventually relearn to tie her shoes, cook a meal, and read and write, nearly twenty years would pass before a series of personally devastating events shattered the normal life she had worked so hard to build, and she realized that she would have to grow up all over again.

In her own indelible voice, Su offers us a view from the inside of a terrible injury, with the hope that her story will help give other brain injury sufferers and their families the resolve and courage to build their lives anew. Piercing, heartbreaking, but finally uplifting, this book is the true story of a woman determined to live life on her own terms.

 

My View:

This is a book that caused much debate, actually let me re phrase that; not so much debate – but rather a consensus and shared sadness that these events relayed in this memoir actually occurred – the systems that let you down Su, the situations that you coped with on your own are heartbreaking; this is an open, frank and at times confronting creative memoir that offers an insider’s view of life after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) but more or rather should I say in addition, this is a story of a family’s struggle to cope are with a horrendously debilitating injury and this is a story of domestic violence – Su, I know you probably dont want to hear that but the moment I started reading your story the warning bells rung loud and clear to me… such manipulation and control and anger…

 

Apparently Jim (the husband) agreed to have all these reflections of behaviour and attitudes “on record” (p.274), for me that does not excuse the behaviour. Su, you also reflect here on why you stay with Jim…I leave that you the reader to absorb and contemplate.

 

My voice clearly echoes the feelings this book has stirred up. This is an extraordinary book. Su you are living an extraordinary life; good luck and I hope you do find love.

 

This is the perfect book club read – I know it will educate and it will definitely create debate… and evoke many feelings.

**Reading/Book club notes for this book can be found here: http://books.simonandschuster.com.au/I-Forgot-to-Remember/Su-Meck/9781451685824/reading_group_guide

 

 

Post Script: The Homestead Girls – Fiona McArthur

A most satisfying read.

Cover The Homestead Girls

The Homestead Girls

Fiona McArthur

Penguin Random House

Penguin Books

ISBN: 9780143799825

 

Description:

After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.

 

Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and in desperation has opened her station house to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.

 

The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test . . .

 

A Little History:

Before I begin I would like to clarify my position on reading Australian Rural Romance. When I was younger (much much younger) I read anything and everything I could get my hands on – some would say I haven’t changed very much in that respect. I love reading. As many of you who are around the same vintage as will remember, early reading ( primary school age) was mostly centred around Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Secret Seven and then…well really I think there was not much on offer until I started high school when I was able to read books from the school library. So there was this in-between stage where I can’t really recall what books I read… but thinking hard maybe it was around this age (12/13years) I discovered a well-known brand of romance books. As I recall – they were fast reads – I do recall at one point noting I could read ninety pages an hour. They were formulaic, full of misogynistic stereotypes, back then I didn’t know the meaning of the word – life taught me that one pretty quick 🙂 Misogynists as defined by http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/misogynist “noun – a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.” Yep that pretty much summed the protagonist in these type of reads – the male protagonist – and yes a male was always the important character – was always good looking, physically strong, rich and had a passive aggressive relationship with the female love interest – who was usually of a lower social economic class than the protagonist – usually cook, maid, tutor, book keeper, shop assistant, waitress etc….usually always in desperate financial situation, lacking in choices and needed rescuing….and initially she hated the arrogant protagonist who treated her terribly….then in the next .x. number of pages (I used to know the formula) he would “force” himself on her (more often than not), then she would realise she was really attracted to him, then they would share a few pages of bliss and then have a big fight and them on the last few pages make up and marry. Did I get that right? That is roughly my recollection of the formula. And at one point this teenager thought she would write these type of books – and easily I thought. I never did. I progressed to Agatha Christie, Stephen King and the likes. Much better reading material

 

But by then I had these false impressions of “life” stamped on my brain and real life caught up with me – I had my own “bookish romance experience” and to answer your question, no, passive/aggressive controlling, violent behaviour isn’t romantic… but it did take me a while to realise this and to escape the situation – what doesn’t kill you…..Anyway it did make me stronger and empathetic.

 

Down the track, now older, wiser (mostly or at least I like to think I am) and better educated, a quiet feminist, happily married…I vowed never to set my eyes on those sort of formulaic “bodice rippers” ever again. I am sure many of you have heard me say that on my blog. And that fact remains true. Those style of books are not for me. But lately you may have noticed I have a read a few books which I think are loosely classified as Australian Rural Romance or maybe even Women’s Fiction. I have not been able to find a description of a genre that sits well with me that these books fit into – even Women’s’ Fiction comes with an implied second class reading (and writing ) status, a literary sexism; maybe we should just call these books Contemporary Fiction – for that is indeed what they are.

 

Anyway – back to the point – these works of contemporary fiction, in particular Australian contemporary fiction (I can’t comment on other countries contemporary fiction as I have not read any that I can recall) are so vastly different to the romance books of my childhood. Romance rules of old have been turned on their head; the protagonists in these reads are women, strong women, they are generally well educated; doctors, teachers, nurses, pilots, cops, soldiers…they may be divorced, or raising a child by themselves. They are resourceful, they are strong, they may have a great support/community network of mostly women behind them, they don’t put up with violent or controlling behaviour, life has its challenges but these women prefer to write their own destinies; this doesn’t however make them unlovable. Often there are elements of humour, spotlights on contemporary social, health and environmental issues and no bodices are ripped! These are the types of books I enjoy reading. The other style is probably still around but I will continue to avoid it. Contemporary fiction has an important place is my reading life – it provides a change in pace and storyline to my first love in reading – crime fiction. Reading crime fiction, novel after crime fiction novel, can be wearing; often books of this genre are intense and can leave me emotionally drained (not much humour in crime fiction – unless it is black humour), a change of pace  and style keeps my reading fresh and alive; revives me.

 

Back to the review at hand.

 

 

My View: The Homestead Girls

 

I really enjoyed this book – its outstanding quality – it made me smile. This is a great example of contemporary Australian fiction – wonderful rich warm characters, so many strong and feisty women, a great showcase for the service provided to the community by Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), an opportunity to remind people of how the drought effects farmers, rural life in general and regional towns. The protagonists work for the RFDS and as such a few health issues are exposed and explored and there is the most wonderfully satisfying relationship that develops between The Homestead Girls. What more can you ask for in a contemporary Australian rural setting? Nothing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: Badlands – CJ Box

Cover Badlands

Badlands

CJ Box

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Head of Zeus

ISBN: 9781781852859

 

Description:

Can one woman tame the last frontier?

Grimstad, North Dakota. A place people used to be from – but were never headed to – has struck oil. As pipelines snake across the prairie, oil flows out and men and money flow in. And with them, comes crime. North Dakota’s new oil capital has a serious law and order problem and newly qualified detective Cassie Dewell has just been appointed its deputy sheriff.

Twelve-year-old Kyle Westergaard is one of Grimstad’s paperboys. Kyle has been written off as the ‘slow’ kid, but he has dreams deeper than anyone can imagine – he wants to get out of town, take care of his alcoholic mother, and give them a better life. While delivering newspapers, he witnesses a car accident and now has money and a lot of white powder in his possession.

 

With the temperature dropping to 30 degress below and a gang war heating up, Cassie fears she might be in over her head. The key to it all will come in the most unlikely form: an undersized boy on a bike who keeps showing up where he doesn’t belong.

 

My View:

Let me start by stating I am a huge CJ Box fan – his Joe Pickett series is fantastic and I have read several of his standalones and one frightfully disturbing book I found so intense I could not read more than the first few chapters, (In Three Weeks to Say Goodbye, so powerful was the presence of bullying in this book I could not read it – my loss), so to say I like CJ Box’s work is an understatement.

 

What do I love about his writing? Everything – his writing flows across the page, his command of realistic dialogue and his ability to paint the setting and locations of his books is amazing. The characters become old friends – as you read on you adopt the main characters as your own friends – people you know, trust and admire. The narrative – always interesting; contemporary environmental issues take the main stage with intrigue and murder/mystery.

 

And Badlands has all those great characteristics and then some; an impressive, strong, female protagonist, situations that are diabolical with the most evil of villains who treat people as if mere carcasses, to be chopped and mutilated at their whim and the added factor of suspected corruption in the police force makes the tension palpable. The young boy Kyle adds an innocence and vulnerability to the mix.

 

Another great read from CJ Box!

 

 

 

Post Script: The Huntress Moon – Alexandra Sokoloff

Addictive Reading!

Cover The Huntress Moon

The Huntress Moon/FBI Thriller Series #1

Alexandra Sokoloff

Thomas and Mercer

ISBN: 1477822046

ASIN: BOONKTTDH4

 

 

 

Description:

 

Special Agent Matthew Roarke

thought he knew what evil was.

He was wrong.

 

FBI Special Agent Matthew Roarke is closing in on a bust of a major criminal organization in San Francisco when he witnesses an undercover member of his team killed right in front of him on a busy street, an accident Roarke can’t believe is coincidental. His suspicions put him on the trail of a mysterious young woman who appears to have been present at each scene of a years-long string of “accidents” and murders, and who may well be that most rare of killers: a female serial.

 

His hunt for her will take him across three states, and force him to question everything he believes about evil and justice.

 

*Thriller Award Nominee, Best ebook Original

 

My View:

Before I begin my review her is a little bit of background on the award winning author Alexandra Sokoloff (information I paid scant attention to before I started reading…which as it turned out was fortuitous as it didn’t affect my reaction to the book, I started reading with no real expectations except that this would most probably be a great read – and I was not disappointed) and it allowed me to have several uninhibited email discussions with the author on an equal footing.   Now I have discovered more about the author and have read the first book, I am in awe of this talented writer!

 

Ms Alexandra Sokoloff is, in her own words “… an American crime and thriller writer, recovering screenwriter, living half in Los Angeles and half in Scotland.”

 

The Huntress Moon is the first book in the “Thriller Award-nominated Huntress/FBI series, which follows a haunted FBI agent on his hunt for what may be a female serial killer….The premise allows me to take the “woman as victim” trope and turn it completely inside out, in the form of a nail-biting mystery/suspense series.”

 

 

I Begin My Review:

Ok so now you have read the intro, you know the author is award winning, has released many books and is highly regarded in the crime fiction writing world (and Alexandra is presenting a writing Masterclass at Bloody Scotland this September 2015 for those lucky enough to be able to attend), even if you didn’t know anything about this author all is immediately revealed by the time you have read…oh let me see… about 3 pages. Immediately the standard of the writing leaps out at you – you nod to yourself and go YES! And from that point on no one gets any sense or conversation out of you until you have finished reading this mesmerising, engaging, suspense filled book. But be warned just because you have finished reading episode one in this series doesn’t mean your world will start functioning again – it won’t!

 

When I finished reading this book I discovered I was on something that I can only explain as “a book high”. I was literally skipping around the room, my head light and somehow not quite connected to my body, I was excited and happy and could not begin to put words into coherent thoughts (which is why it has taken me so long to write this review). I felt like I did the last time I have had a hospital procedure and had sedation – when I skipped and laughed and giggled my way out of the hospital 🙂 (Too much happy gas I think) No wonder the hospital warns you not to make any important decisions, or sign any legal documents or drive after the procedure! I cannot believe a book made me feel this same way.

 

When sensible thought did return I had an epiphany. I will share that astounding thought with you; all book reviewing is relative, relative to what you read yesterday, the week before, the time before that. How can an individual really measure the worth of a book when so much relates to the experience of the books recently read? Let me explain my thoughts; these months I have read some amazing books across a few genres, (no names will be mentioned as I do not wish to offend anyone) these books I rated 5 stars – the highest accolade and I was enthusiastic and excited by the read and shared my thoughts with you. Then I read The Huntress Moon. If the others I previously ranked as 5 stars – what was this book I had in front of me? I regarded The Huntress Moon much more highly than anything I have read …since I can’t remember when.

 

The professionalism of the writing shines. The characterisations are wonderful – no one is black or white, the characters feel real, three dimensional; the narrative has two strong protagonists – two very likeable protagonists even though one we quickly discover is a murderer. Other minor characters are equally interesting. The narrative is fast paced, plenty of twists and turns and action and outcomes that are credible. This is a most engaging and satisfying read.

 

Have I convinced you? I hope so – if your passion is crime fiction – get a hold of a copy of a copy this book today. And then buy the rest of the series.

 

There is a bargain to be had here if you get in quick:

The latest in the series, Cold Moon, was released by Thomas & Mercer in print, ebook and audiobook 7 July, and The Huntress Moon is on sale on Amazon AU for 1.99 through the month of August. (I suggest you get in quick before this offer expires. I also have the audio book tucked away safely to enjoy at a later date)

 

Books 1 and 2, Huntress Moon and Blood Moon, were re-released in January and February of this year. The series has just been optioned for TV in the US.

 

 

Post Script: Close Your Eyes – Michael Robotham

An enthralling read. Loved every word.

Cover Close Your Eyes

Close Your Eyes

Michael Robotham

Sphere

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780751563351

 

Description:

I close my eyes and feel my heart begin racing

Someone is coming

They’re going to find me

 

A mother and her teenage daughter are found brutally murdered in a remote farmhouse, one defiled by multiple stab wounds and the other left lying like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her Prince. Reluctantly, clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is drawn into the investigation when a former student, calling himself the ‘Mindhunter’, trading on Joe’s name, has jeopardised the police inquiry by leaking details to the media and stirring up public anger. With no shortage of suspects and tempers beginning to fray, Joe discover links between these murders to a series of brutal attacks where the men and women are choked unconscious and the letter ‘A’ is carved into their foreheads. As the case becomes ever more complex, nothing is quite what it seems and soon Joe’s fate, and that of those closest to him, become intertwined with a merciless, unpredictable killer . . .

 

My View:

An enthralling read. Loved every word. Plenty of action, plot twists, turns, great characterisations and complex plot. The back story is so sad. When you pick up any book written by Michael Robotham you know you will be getting a fabulous read. I read this in one night, now what do I do? It is a long time till the release of the next book… 🙂  Write faster Michael.