Post Script: Night Bird – Alice Hoffman

A delightful optimistic, wondrous magical little book!

Night Bird

Night Bird

Alice Hoffman

Simon & Schuster UK

ISBN: 9781471124228

 

Description:

Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible apple pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig’s first true friend, and ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse. A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town’s famed apple orchards.

 

My View:

This is a book that is written for the YA /middle grade readers but has a particularly charm, innocence and optimism that can feed the needs of readers of all ages. Filled with positive messages about living and let live, about celebrating who we are as individuals, about conservation and love… I think this is the prefect book for a classroom read along/read out loud – the words are light, they float in the air, an air that is filled with the smell of flowers and apples and spices. Delightful. Magical. The perfect classroom read or rainy day read – will uplift your spirits. And as an added bonus has a recipe for Pink Apple Pie at the very end of the book.

 

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher.

 

 

Post Script: What She Left – T. R. Richmond

What She Left

What She Left

R. Richmond

Penguin UK – Michael Joseph

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9780718179366

 

Description:

What She Left is a touching and exciting novel that surprises at every turn. Recommended for fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or Jane Shemilt’s Daughter.

 

The Book

When Alice Salmon died last year, the ripples were felt in the news, on the internet, and in the hearts of those who knew her best.

But the person who knows her most intimately isn’t family or a friend. Dr Jeremy Cook is an academic whose life has become about piecing together Alice’s existence in all its flawed and truthful reality.

For Cooke, faithfully recreating Alice’s life – through her diaries, emails and anything using her voice – is all-consuming. He does not know how deep his search will take him, or the shocking nature of what he will uncover…

 

 

My View:

An interesting premise, that, ironically I thought was not best delivered in electronic format (ironic as the novel relies of the footprints of social media to share this story); for me this is largely about formatting – I always enlarge the font on my ereader and consequently this disrupts the original pagination which confused me as to whose voice I was hearing and in what time frame (I am assuming that if I had read this in paperback I would have noticed the page breaks/new entries/voices and followed the story easier). Unfortunately I found the constant skipping back and forth in time a little confusing and hard work to read and not compelling. But that is just me.

 

Update – the physical book arrived in the mail this week – just flicking though it I can see it will be much easier to read and keep up with events than in the ebook.

Post Script: Foreign Soil – Maxine Beneba Clarke

Brutal. Raw. Jagged. Insightful.

Foreign Soil

Foreign Soil

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Hachette Australia

ISBN: 9780733632426

 

Description:

In this collection of award-winning stories, Melbourne writer Maxine Beneba Clarke has given a voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, the downtrodden and the mistreated. It will challenge you, it will have you by the heartstrings. This is contemporary fiction at its finest.

 

Winner of the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award 2013.

 

In Melbourne’s Western Suburbs, in a dilapidated block of flats overhanging the rattling Footscray train-lines, a young black mother is working on a collection of stories.

 

The book is called FOREIGN SOIL. Inside its covers, a desperate asylum seeker is pacing the hallways of Sydney’s notorious Villawood detention centre, a seven-year-old Sudanese boy has found solace in a patchwork bike, an enraged black militant is on the war-path through the rebel squats of 1960s’ Brixton, a Mississippi housewife decides to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her son from small-town ignorance, a young woman leaves rural Jamaica in search of her destiny, and a Sydney schoolgirl loses her way.

 

The young mother keeps writing, the rejection letters keep arriving…

 

 

 

My View:

Ms Clarke writes with a passion that explodes on the page. This collection of short stories, is, for the main part brutal and savage and for me the experience was mind opening… many of the circumstances described here are familiar, we have seen something like this on the TV or heard on the news but have become desensitised to and have switched off or ignored. Here you cannot ignore the story; the style and the intensity of the writing will ensure these narratives stay with you long after you finish turning the pages.

 

If I was recommending this book to you I would suggest you start from the middle or towards the end as I found the authors voice to be easier to read than in the first few stories (the first few are spoken with accents that I am unfamiliar with and I really had to study the words to understand some of the conversations.) For me this was a distraction to the purpose of the prose but that speaks to my experiences or lack of. I think some of these stories should be told not read for best effect.

 

Regardless of where you start reading, just start. These are voices that need to be heard. Ms Clarke has delivered a brutal and honest message that might at times be uncomfortable to read but is worth the effort.

Post Script: The Maxwell Sisters – Loretta Hill

Choc ‘o block full of local delights – a must read for travellers, wine lovers and readers of rural romance. Come explore the Margaret River Region with me. I love a book sited in my region.

The Maxwell Sisters

The Maxwell Sisters

Loretta Hill

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Bantam Australia

ISBN: 9780857984296

 

Description:

From the author of the bestselling The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots comes a heart-warming romantic comedy about three extraordinary women on a journey to find love and rediscover family. All families have their problems. No more so than the Maxwell’s of Tawny Brooks Winery. Situated in the heart of the Margaret River wine region, this world-renowned winery was the childhood home to three sisters, Natasha, Eve and Phoebe. Today all three women are enmeshed in their city lives and eager to forget their past – and their fractured sibling relationships. Until Phoebe decides to get married at home . . . Now the sisters must all return to face a host of family obligations, vintage in full swing and interfering in-laws who just can’t take a hint. As one romance blossoms and others fall apart, it seems they are all in need of some sisterly advice. But old wounds cut deep. Somehow, the Maxwell sisters must find a way back to one another – or risk losing each other forever.

 

My View:

This delightful read takes us a road of discovery literally and physically: discover the romantic Margaret River Wine region – host to so many great wineries, the perfect place for weddings, the perfect place to explore the regions many beautiful caves, beaches, forests and amazing sunsets. Enjoy gourmet and organic foods, sweet delights. And enjoy reading this book – it is such a bargain; you get a little bit of romance with a very satisfying ending, a lot of local wine making knowledge (thanks to Ben at Blind Corner Wines) and of course a tour of this spectacular region. Sit back, enjoy.

I love a book situated in my region!

 

Sunset -Gracetown - The Bay, Margaret River Region, Western Australia

Sunset -Gracetown – The Bay, Margaret River Region, Western Australia

 

 

 

Post Script: The Unquiet Dead – Ausma Zehanat Khan

Draped in a cloak called crime fiction this narrative speaks of truths we all need to hear.

The Unquiet Dead

The Unquiet Dead

Ausma Zehanat Khan

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250055118

 

Description:

Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she’s still uneasy at Khattak’s tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton’s death. Drayton’s apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn’t seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak’s team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995.

 

If that’s true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs?

 

In her spellbinding debut, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

 

 

My View:

WOW! This book is….is so many things, it has blown me away! I don’t know where to begin or how to write a review to do this book justice. And did I mention this is the author’s debut novel? This author is incredibly gifted and I predict this book winning many awards.

 

This book:

  • Is a great work of crime fiction.
  • Speaks in a voice that is intelligent, articulate and captivating.
  • Is at times beautifully descriptive.
  • Is at times brutally honest, tough, grim, disturbing and so so sad.
  • Has wonderful empathetic characters that you want to know more about.
  • The settings both in Canada and Srebrenica are powerful and realistic.
  • The mysteries are captivating.
  • The evilness lingers leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. 

 

 

This is a complex book about family, beliefs, relationships, loss, justice, trust, crimes and the ugliness in our world. This book begs you to read it and defies you to not be moved, this book pricks at your conscience and perhaps persuades you to choose a path that is more tolerant and accepting or maybe it gives you a nudge to become a more political individual; after you have read this book you will not be the person you were when you woke this morning. This book will enlighten and move you. Read it.

 

PS

This book is the first I have read for the Eclectic Reader Challenge 2015

 

Post Script: The Sunnyvale Girls – Fiona Palmer

Visit rural Western Australia and Italy….without leaving home.

The Sunnyvale Girls

The Sunnyvale Girls

Fiona Palmer

Penguin

Michael Joseph

ISBN: 9781921901454

 

 

Description:

Three generations of Stewart women share a deep connection to their family farm, but a secret from the past threatens to tear them apart.

 

Widowed matriarch Maggie remembers a time when the Italian prisoners of war came to work on their land, changing her heart and her home forever. Single mum Toni has been tied to the place for as long as she can recall, although farming was never her dream. And Flick is as passionate about the farm as a young girl could be, despite the limited opportunities for love.

 

When a letter from 1946 is unearthed in an old cottage on the property, the Sunnyvale girls find themselves on a journey deep into their own hearts and all the way across the world to Italy. Their quest to solve a mystery leads to incredible discoveries about each other, and about themselves.

 

 

My View:

Dual time settings, a recent history that beckons and beguiles, strong passionate women working on their own land – what more could you ask for? I loved the settings – as I started reading I was sitting in my own garden, coincidentally one of the protagonists was working in hers! She had the screeching of galahs as she admired her tomato plants, I raced around scaring Twenty-eights (demon parrots) from our olive trees, roses, tomatoes and anything else that looked young and fresh and green growing in our garden. Immediately I was transported and enmeshed in this story of the land.

 

More than a rural romance this narrative opens up a window to a local history that I quickly discovered I wanted to learn more about – the internment of POWs and immigrants in Australia during the Second World War, a population that helped shaped the countryside by working on farms in rural Australia. I am surprised that I have not come across more of this type of local history before now – this would make a brilliant heart-warming film of significant multicultural interest.

 

PS – did I mention the writing – flowing, fun, enjoyable and realistic. Take me to Italy any day even if only with your words.

 

 

The Eclectic Reader Challenge Sign Up

I am entering a new challenge this year – the Eclectic Readers Challenge hosted by Shelleyrae at Book’d Out.

eclecticreader15

*Select, read and review a book from each category listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.

 

*  You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. You may combine this challenge with others if you wish.

*  Where a book is identified by more than one genre eg historical romance, it may only count for either the historical fiction or romantic fiction genres – not both.

*  You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just complete the challenge by December 31st 2015 to be eligible for the prize drawing.

Bookmark the Eclectic Reader Challenge Page for future reference

Categories

  1. Retellings (of fairytale, legends or myth)
  2.  A book set in a country starting with the letter S (eg. Sweden, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Slovakia)
  3.  PI Crime (fiction featuring a private investigator)
  4.  A novel published before you were born
  5. Contemporary romance
  6. Fiction for foodies (fiction featuring food/food related business)
  7. Microhistory (Non Fiction)
  8. Science Fiction set in space
  9. Sports (Fiction or Non fiction)
  10. Featuring diversity
  11. Epistolary Fiction (fiction written in the format of letters/emails/diary entries)
  12. Middle Grade/YA Adventure

I think there will be some challenges here 🙂