Guest Review: A Single Woman – Maggie Christensen

A Single Woman

Maggie Christensen

Cala Publishing

ASIN: B07PMV51JF

Description:

Isla Cameron. headmistress at an elite girl’s school in Glasgow, is determinedly single, adroitly avoiding all attempts at matchmaking by a close friend.

Widower Alasdair MacLeod is grieving for the wife he lost two years earlier, struggling as the single father of two teenagers, and frustrated by the well-meaning interference of his in-laws.

When a proposed school trip to France brings Isla and Alasdair together, they find a connection in the discovery that each is suffering the loss of a loved one, but neither is interested in forming a relationship,

As their friendship grows, Alasdair struggles with his increasing attraction to the elegant schoolmistress, while Isla harbours concerns about the complications a relationship with him would bring.

Can Alasdair overcome his natural reserve, and can Isla open her heart to love again?

Readers of Christensen’s earlier books, The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, will love reconnecting with Bel and Matt while enjoying Isla Cameron’s unique story.

Brenda’s Review:

Alasdair MacLeod’s grief over the death of his wife two years earlier felt all encompassing. His two teenage children, Fiona and Robbie coped with the loss of their mother in their own way, while Alasdair’s father-in-law Matt and his wife Bel helped the best they could. Fi belonged to an all girl’s school in Glasgow and idolized the headmistress, Isla Cameron who’d been in that position for the past ten years. Isla was happily single, living in a small flat with her cat Sooty, catching up with her best friend Shona now and then.

With a school trip to France on the agenda for a select few pupils, Fi was desperate to go along. Alasdair met with Isla to discuss the logistics – Fi was wheelchair bound, but if the French au pair accompanied them, Fi could join the trip. As Isla and Alasdair got to know one another, they both realized they had much in common. They both wanted companionship and friendship – but was Alasdair ready for a relationship? And did Isla want to give up her hard-won independence?

A Single Woman by Aussie author Maggie Christensen is loosely linked to The Good Sister and Isobel’s Promise, and it was wonderful to catch up with Bel and Matt, Alasdair’s children’s grandparents, again. This author’s characters are always so real; people who live next door; people we know and love. I thoroughly enjoyed A Single Woman and love the way Maggie writes about the older generation, with ease and aplomb. I’m already looking forward to this author’s next. Highly recommended. 5 stars

With thanks to the author for my digital ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Boxed – Richard Anderson

Boxed

Richard Anderson

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925713657

 

Description:

When life delivers you gifts you don’t want.

 

Dave Martin is down on his luck: his wife has left him; his farm is a failure; his house is a mess; he has withdrawn from his community and friends; and tragedy has stolen his capacity to care. He passes the time drinking too much and buying cheap tools online, treating the delivered parcels as gifts from people who care about him.

 

And then boxes begin to arrive in the mail: boxes that he didn’t order, but ones that everyone around him seems to want desperately. As he tries to find out the secret of the boxes, Dave is drawn into a crazy world of red herrings and wrong turns, good guys and bad, false friends and true, violence, lust, fear, revenge, and a lot, lot more. It’s not a world he understands, but is it the only one Dave can live in?

 

 

My View:

Last year I read Richard Anderson’s debut Retribution – it was a stunning read – tension filled, evocative…with some thought provoking social commentary set in rural Australia, I loved it. When I was offered an opportunity to read Richard’s latest book “Boxed” I leapt at the chance and I was not disappointed.

 

Boxed is set in another rural small town – mysteries abound and personal tragedies /grief inform the mood of the narrative. (No spoilers here).  I love that contemporary issues are woven into this mystery, that there is hope and a wonderful sense of community, that the characters are richly drawn and empathetic and that the mystery element shines brightly. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

 

Richard Anderson has a talent for storytelling that is mesmerising. I cannot wait to read what he writes next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post Script: The Drifter – Anthea Hodgson

the-drifter

The Drifter

Anthea Hodgson

Penguin Books Australia

ISBN: 9780143797241

 

Description:

Cate Christie is a party girl, unable to commit to anything, until she is involved in a tragic accident that changes everything. To escape her guilt and her parents’ bitter disapproval, Cate leaves Perth for her Aunt Ida’s isolated farm in country Western Australia.

 

Henry is a drifter, a young swagman-like character who wanders onto the Christie family property and takes up residence in a disused shed. With secrets of his own, the last thing he wants is to get tangled up in Cate and Ida’s lives.

 

Against their own better judgement, the fates of Cate and Henry and Ida inexorably intertwine and they learn to face the realities of life, death and letting go.

 

A witty, charming and moving debut rural romance about what makes a good death and, more importantly, what makes a good life.

 

 

My View:

Debut Perth writer reflects on survivors guilt in a moving, fast paced most enjoyable coming of age read that ticks all the boxes.

 

Wonderful realistic characters

Natural and genuine dialogue

Local (Western Australian) settings – rural and city

Discusses many contemporary social issues including redemption and atonement, survivor guilt, end of life choices, the survival of small rural towns …

Has a fast paced narrative

Is mysterious and complex

Has an honest and trustworthy voice

Weaves into the narrative a few twists

And an ending that…will you will have to discover that yourself.

 

What more could you want?

Post Script: The Birdwatcher – William Shaw – Guest Reviewer

Please welcome guest reviewer – Bec: Audiobook and Book reviews at Audiothing

the-bird-watcher

The Birdwatcher

William Shaw

Quercus Books Riverrun

ISBN: 9781784297244

Description:

Police Sergeant William South has a reason for not wanting to be on the murder investigation.

He is a murderer himself.

But the victim was his only friend; like him, a passionate birdwatcher. South is warily partnered with the strong-willed Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi, newly recruited to the Kent coast from London. Together they find the body, violently beaten, forced inside a wooden chest. Only rage could kill a man like this. South knows it.

But soon – too soon – they find a suspect: Donnie Fraser, a drifter from Northern Ireland. His presence in Kent disturbs William – because he knew him as a boy. If the past is catching up with him, South wants to meet it head on. For even as he desperately investigates the connections, he knows there is no crime, however duplicitous or cruel, that can compare to the great lie of his childhood.

Moving from the storm-lashed, bird-wheeling skies of the Kent Coast to the wordless war of the Troubles, The Birdwatcher is a crime novel of suspense, intelligence and powerful humanity about fathers and sons, grief and guilt and facing the darkness within.

 

Bec’s View:

This beautifully written book tells the story of Billy McGowan, the boy raised amidst “The Troubles” of Northern Ireland who then becomes William South, Police Sergeant and Neighbourhood Officer for the Kent Police. He lives his life alone and he lives quietly, he is also a birdwatcher. He and his birding companion Bob Rayner spend hours together, yet neither man has any clue of the secrets held by the other.

Until Bob Rayner is found dead, murdered in a most horrible and brutal way.

For Detective Inspector Alexandra Cupidi who has transferred from the Metropolitan Police, this is her first case in her new post. Despite knowing that Bob was a friend of Souths, she wants him to accompany her to the grisly crime scene. South is deeply affected by the sight of his murdered friend, there appears to be no explanation, no possible reason why someone should do this, yet South recognises the effects of rage when he sees it.

Despite having a murder to investigate, Cupidi is distracted, her teenaged daughter, Zoe, is having problems settling in to her new home and school. Zoe and South develop a friendship of sorts, they discover something in common, each ones mother had moved them to a place they thought safer, yet both mothers had their own troubles to leave behind.

The body count rises, one of the dead is a name from Souths distant past, Donnie Fraser, who as a young man had admired Souths violent father, what possible connection could there be between Fraser and the other deaths? Why does Cupidi order South to keep away from the investigation?

I enjoyed how the author skilfully wove in the stories of both the young Billy and the adult William, separately yet somehow seamlessly, the reader isn’t jarred when moving between the two ages and countries. The ending of a book is, of course important! For me, this book has two endings, difficult to explain without spoilers so I won’t attempt it, just to say that one of them came as a real surprise to me.

I do hold the faint hope of a William South series.

This is a book to buy in hardback, to keep and savour, to take out now and again to re-read. It’s a keeper.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus Riverrun for providing an Advanced Reader Copy of this book

Post Script: Undying: A Love Story – Michel Faber

Undying

Undying: A Love Story

 Michel Faber

Allen & Unwin

Canongate Books

ISBN: 9781782118541

RRP A$24.99

 

Description:

How can you say goodbye to the love of your life?

 

In Undying Michel Faber honours the memory of his wife, who died after a six-year battle with cancer. Bright, tragic, candid and true, these poems are an exceptional chronicle of what it means to find the love of your life. And what it is like to have to say goodbye.

 

All I can do, in what remains of my brief time,

is mention, to whoever cares to listen,

that a woman once existed, who was kind

and beautiful and brave, and I will not forget

how the world was altered, beyond recognition,

when we met.

 

 

 

My View:

How do you rate someone’s pain and anger and grief?

 

By the way the words touch your soul, by the way your heart aches as you read.

 

This is a an exquisitely personal, intimate study of cancer, dying, grief and the authors love for his now deceased wife; his life companion, his lifelong love…

 

Poignant, angry (justifiably so), yet at times romantic and tender. This is love in real life, in the everyday, in the moment – be it the ugly moments of cancer or the moments the lovers dance and twirl towards each other.

 

Beautifully written, brave and honest. The presentation is stunning

 

Post Script: The Peppercorn Project – Nicki Edwards

The Peppercorn Project

The Peppercorn Project

Nicki Edwards

Pan Macmillan Australia

Momentum

ISBN: 9781760302306

 

 

Description:

One heartbroken woman. One bitter cop. One community to save them.

 

After the tragic death of her husband, single mum Isabelle Cassidy is bereft and broke. When she hears about The Peppercorn Project – a scheme that offers affordable rent in the tiny but vibrant town of Stony Creek – Issie sees it as her family’s best chance at a fresh start.

 

 

Newly single police officer Matt Robertson moved to Stony Creek to lick his wounds after a bitter divorce. Wanting only peace and quiet, Matt is against the Project, seeing it as a threat to the peace he’s found in the country town – until he meets Issie. Despite himself, Matt is drawn to the widow and feels inexplicably protective of her fragile family.

 

 

Just when Issie begins to imagine a future with Matt, an accident proves how far she has to go before she can move beyond her grief. But the citizens of Stony Creek won’t rest until they see these two broken souls find a new beginning, together.

 

 

Can Issie move beyond the pain of her past and entrust Matt with her family, and her heart?

 

 

A gorgeous rural romance for fans of Fiona McArthur, Rachael Johns and Fiona McCallum.

 

 

My View:

Sited in a rural Australian town, I loved the attitude of “paying it forward” with an opportunity for four families to get a second chance to improve their current lifestyle and circumstances and at the same time instil some lifesaving “new blood” into a rural community, there is plenty of scope for action and personal drama here. This the perfect “pick me up” read; when you need something optimistic, positive, charming and with an obligatory happy ending (and one of the most delicious male love interests around), you will not be disappointed in this read.

 

Take note- this is not a book of purely froth and bubble. Nicki Edwards tackles many contemporary social issues within these pages: diminishing populations of small towns and the repercussions for the community – in particular the depletion of services, the process of grief and healing, drug dealing (and in particular the infiltration of “Ice” into communities big and small)…and the importance of “second chances.”

 

An enjoyable contemporary Australian rural read!