Review: Torched -Kimberley Starr

Torched

Kimberley Starr

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648571537

 

Description:

An explosive, haunting and utterly compelling crime novel about mothers and sons and the ties that bind them.

 

A small Yarra Valley town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School Principal Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of Caleb who is accused of starting the fire – on purpose. Twelve people are dead, students from her school among them; only a monster would cause such carnage. But where was her son that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.

 

Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?

 

Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save the son she loves.

 

 

My View:

The publishing date for this read was changed a few times due to COVID- 19 issues of restrictions and the coincidental major bush fires in Australia- how difficult it must have been to be planning to release a book whose central character is a fatal bush fires and then an actual fire ravishes huge parts of Eastern Australia, devastating for the author and for the areas affected by the fires.

 

And so, I read this book, was fascinated, loved the tension packed pages, loved the family story and if you have ever wondered how it felt to actually be in the mist of a bush fires – well this read is so believable, so visual…I was “there”, smelling the fire, heat burning my nostrils… And then everything halted. The release was postponed and the book languished on my desk, pretty soon covered in various notes, other books to review…

 

This book is fabulous! It is on my list of “best reads of 2020” and I hope it will soon be on yours.

 

Review: The Lost Summers of Driftwood – Vanessa McCausland

The Lost Summers of Driftwood

Vanessa McCausland

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460757680

 

 

Description:

Is it more dangerous to forget … or to remember? A compelling drama about broken dreams, first love and the mystery of a lost sister, for all fans of Hannah Richell and Kate Morton. She remembered this part of the trip during the day time. Her sisters on either side in the back. The sunlight flickering through branches was like looking through a kaleidoscope. How could that be so long ago? How could so much have gone wrong?

 

Phoebe’s life has fallen apart and there’s only one place left to go. Alone and adrift after a failed marriage proposal, she flees Sydney to her family’s abandoned holiday cottage.

 

On the slow-moving river Phoebe is confronted with the legacy of her older sister’s suicide, a year before. Why did Karin leave a note written in flowers and walk into the water?

 

Phoebe’s childhood love, Jez, has moved back to the beautiful old house, Driftwood, one jetty down. He’s married now and the home has become a refuge for an unlikely little community.

 

As the river begins to give up its secrets, Phoebe finds herself caught up in old feelings and new mysteries.

 

The Lost Summers of Driftwood is a story of lost loves, rekindled passions, tragedy and betrayal set against the backdrop of an idyllic south coast town.

 

 

My View:

Vanessa McCausland has used this book as a vehicle to examine so many feelings and issues and she has done this with a feather light touch that draws attention to the world we live in today – a world of Instagram moments, a world of pressure to be perfect; to have the perfect life, to conform to the demands of social medias constant thirst for your energy.

 

But there is more to this narrative than a discussion about social media and the perfect IG snap shot. Friendships, grief, fertility issues, life in a country town, memories, fire and mystery. This mesmerising book packs a big punch and I highly recommend this read.

 

 

Stay tuned for another #FridayFreebie with an opportunity to win a copy of this moving, atmospheric read.

 

Review:The Burnt Country – Joy Rhoades

The Burnt Country

The Woolgrowers Companion #2

Joy Rhoades

Penguin Random House

Bantam

ISBN: 9780143793724

RRP$ 32.99

 

Description:

A scandalous secret. A deadly bushfire. An agonizing choice.

 

Australia 1948. As a young woman single-handedly running Amiens, a sizeable sheep station in New South Wales, Kate Dowd is expected to fail. In fact the local graziers are doing their best to ensure she does.

 

However Kate cannot risk losing Amiens, or give in to her estranged husband Jack’s demands to sell. Because the farm is the only protection she can offer her half-sister Pearl, as the Aborigines Welfare Board calls for her forced adoption.

 

Ostracised by the local community for even acknowledging Pearl, Kate cannot risk another scandal. Which means turning her back on her wartime lover, Luca Canali . . .

 

Then Jack drops a bombshell. He wants a divorce. He’ll protect what’s left of Kate’s reputation, and keep Luca out of it – but at an extortionate price.

 

Soon Kate is putting out fires on all fronts to save her farm, keep her family together and protect the man she loves. Until a catastrophic real fire threatens everything . . .

 

 

My View:

This was not the booked I expected to read!

 

Firstly I did not realise that this was the second in a series until I looked up the book details for my review. But don’t worry this reads perfectly as a stand a one.

 

Second – this is not the rural romance I thought it was going to be. There are relationships – but that is what life is about; the complex nature of our emotional resilience.

 

Thirdly – whilst this is a “historical” fiction the times are not that far away (late 1940s early 50’s). I found the social issues intriguing; women’s’ rights – financial, social, family, legal, work, domestic violence, the war, detention, The Stolen Generation… so so interesting and engaging.

 

This narrative packs a big punch – so many social issues, a tense engaging plot, relationships that felt real, I loved the way women supported each other and help raise each other up. The theme of fire was constant and added a cohesion to the overall plot and an uneasiness that anyone living in a dry, remote countryside will understand.

 

This read was surprising and amazing! I loved it and I hope you do too.

 

And I see a book to film in the future….

 

PS

I enjoyed the bonus recipes supplied at the end of the book.

 

 

 

Eliza Henry Jones Talks About Her Novel Ache

Welcome author of In the Quiet and Ache. “Eliza Henry-Jones was born in Melbourne in 1990. She was a Young Writer-in-Residence at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers’ Centre in 2012 and was a recipient of a Varuna residential fellowship for 2015. She has qualifications in English, psychology and grief, loss and trauma counselling. She is currently completing honours in creative writing – exploring bushfire trauma – and works in community services. She lives in the Dandenong Ranges with her husband and too many animals.” http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9781460750384/#sm.000013x3sti4gof8ssqbvqu70beyi

 

I recently read Ache and was seduced by the emotions and the poignantly written characters; individuals, families, communities, animals and the landscape  – a vivid and bold major character in this novel. The compelling writing will touch all that read it. I highly recommend this read.

Listen to Eliza  here:

 

 

Post Script: Ache – Eliza Henry Jones

Ache

Ache

Eliza Henry Jones

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9781460750384

 

Description:

A year ago, a devastating bushfire ripped Annie’s world apart – killing her grandmother, traumatising her young daughter and leaving her mother’s home in the mountains half destroyed. Annie fled back to the city, but the mountain continues to haunt her. Now, drawn by a call for help from her uncle, she’s going back to the place she loves most in the world, to try to heal herself, her marriage, her daughter and her mother.

A heart-wrenching, tender and lovely novel about loss, grief and regeneration, Ache is not only a story of how we can be broken, but how we can put ourselves back together.

 

 

My View:

I have had great difficulty trying to find the right words to describe my reaction to this book. It was an amazing read – written so beautifully, the writing seducing the reader to read more and more…and the feelings it evoked…an abundance of feelings.  The characters so credible and the situations they face almost unbearable at times and almost unbearable to read such is the empathy I felt for these paper people.

 

Survivor guilt, grief, PTSD…this book covers it all yet  despite the challenging scenarios presented in this narrative it is not a negative or depressing read, in fact it is full optimism. Read and discover your new favourite author.