Post Script: The Animators – Kayla Rae Whitaker

The Animators

The Animators

Kayla Rae Whitaker

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925321920

 

Description:

She was the first person to see me as I had always wanted to be seen. It was enough to indebt me to her forever.

 

At a private East Coast college, two young women meet in art class. Sharon Kisses, quietly ambitious but self-doubting, arrives from rural Kentucky. Mel Vaught, brash, unapologetic, wildly gifted, brings her own brand of hellfire from the backwaters of Florida. Both outsiders, Sharon and Mel become fervent friends, bonding over underground comics and dysfunctional families. Working, absorbing, drinking. Drawing: Mel, to understand her own tumultuous past, and Sharon, to lose herself altogether.

A decade later, Sharon and Mel are an award-winning animation duo, and with the release of their first full-length feature, a fearless look at Mel’s childhood, they stand at the cusp of success. But while on tour to promote the film, cracks in their relationship start to form: Sharon begins to feel like a tag-along and suspects that raucous Mel is the real artist. When unexpected tragedy strikes, long-buried resentments rise to the surface, threatening their partnership—and hastening a reckoning no one sees coming.

 

“An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written The Animators.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder.

 

 

 

My View:

It has been few weeks since I read this wonderful novel and I still cannot verbalise or adequately describe the greatness of this read.

 

This is a book that ….. This book…  This is a fantastic read! Start reading, be prepared to be addicted to the writing, enjoy the journey this book leads you on, empathise with the protagonists, and share with them their pain and their joy.  Just read this book!

This book is…destined to be one of the best you will read this year.

This book… will stay with you for a long time.

 

Post Script: Close Enough to Touch – Colleen Oakley

Close Enough to Touch

Close Enough to Touch

Colleen Oakley

Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760294007

Description:

From the author of Before I Go comes an evocative, poignant, and heartrending exploration of the power and possibilities of the human heart, perfect for fans of the emotional novels of Jojo Moyes and Jodi Picoult.

 

Love has no boundaries…

 

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

 

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

 

My View:

What a reading week I have had!  A week full of un- putdown able reads, of 5 star after 5 star narratives that will stay with me for a long time and this book belongs on that list of outstanding writing that forms the “Best of 2017” list in my reading diary. This one really surprised me – it was not what I was expecting!

 

What can I say to convince you to pick up this book because I know that if you start reading it by the end of the first few pages you will be hooked?  This is a unique coming of age narrative, (yes I think it can be classified thus), a very unique journey where the flawed, complex, engaging and heart-warming protagonists share their growth and humanness in a sometimes humourous, often poignant and evocative way that will have you cheering for team Eric and Jubilee.

 

My only complaint…the book wasn’t long enough.  I wanted to know more, what had been happening in their lives (no spoilers – this will make sense when you read the book), why did it take so long? What happens next?  I predict this to be another book to film in the near future.

 

Caravaning Company

Travel = husband, dog, 5th wheeler caravan, beautiful scenery,  wild dolphins and books:)

Augusta-2017 Garry & Bob

Bob the Dog enjoying the sites and smells of holidays.

Dolphins

Dolphins playing in the river – you had to be there to appreciate it 🙂

The Animators

The Animators – Five star reading

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – a fabulous read.

The Unfortunate Victim

The Unfortunate Victim – a great Australian historical crime fiction read.

What more could you want?

 

Post Script: The Pretty Delicious Cafe – Danielle Hawkins

the-pretty-delicious-cafe

The Pretty Delicious Café

Danielle Hawkins

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752586

 

Description:

Food, family and fresh beginnings. For fans of 800 Words, Offspring, Josephine Moon and Monica McInerney.

 

On the outskirts of a small New Zealand seaside town, Lia and her friend Anna work serious hours running their restored cafe. The busy season is just around the corner, and there are other things to occupy them. Anna is about to marry Lia’s twin brother, and Lia’s ex-boyfriend seems not to understand it’s over.

When a gorgeous stranger taps on Lia’s window near midnight and turns out not to be a serial killer, she feels it’s a promising sign. But the past won’t let them be, and Lia must decide whether events rule her life or she does.

The Pretty Delicious Cafe will remind you of those special, good things we love about living. And the food is great.

A warm, witty novel, brimming with the trademark romance, friendship and eccentricity that Danielle Hawkins’s fans adore.

 

 

My View:

What’s not to like about a Danielle Hawkins book? If you don’t like witty, touching , contemporary writing with a few zany characters, relatable relationships and their trials and tribulations, good food, a wedding or two and a happy ending then don’t pick up this book.

This is life lit at its best! It is so refreshing to read a novel where life is accurately reflected. Life is not always black and white, people’s personal lives can be complicated, and friends do argue or have misunderstandings, marriages do breakup, mental health is a whole of community issue…and families…well they are the most complicated relationship of all.

 

Danielle Hawkins provides the reader with a glimpse of the microcosm of a small town that reflects situations and emotions that resonate with so many of us, there is realism on these pages. A very satisfying read.

 

PS – And a bonus – there are even recipes for some of the dishes served at The Pretty Delicious Café at the back of the book.

Post Script: Love at First Flight – Tess Woods

love-at-first-flight

Love at First Flight

Tess Woods

HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9781460752647

 

Description:

What if the love of your life is not your husband? A compelling novel that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty, viewers of Offspring, The Good Wife and movies like Up in the Air.

 

‘Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.’

 

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, her picture-perfect life unravels. Seated on the plane she meets Matt, and for the first time ever she falls in love.

 

What begins as a flirty conversation quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with consequences that neither Mel nor Matt seems capable of avoiding. As the repercussions hit friends and family, Mel’s dream romance turns into nightmare. She learns that there are some wounds that never heal and some scars that you wouldn’t do without.

 

LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

 

PRAISE FOR LOVE AT FIRST FLIGHT:

 

‘Love at First Flight is no light romp in the hay. It’s a mature, finely drawn effort that examines the emotions and motives behind an affair – and, ultimately, its ramifications. I dare you to resist’ – Jennifer Ammoscato, author of Dear Internet: It’s Me Avery

 

 

My View:

More than chick lit – perhaps this fits best in the new sub-genre “life lit”?

 

A very impressive debut that will connect on so many levels – this is life – real, honest, ugly at times. Steamy, personal, HONEST. (Tess Woods where did you get you get the idea for this one?)  I don’t think I have read anything that tackles a woman’s personal life crisis/ her emotional dilemmas quite like this.

 

The dual perspectives – Mel’s and Matt’s provide great insight. The characters are credible if not a bit uncomfortable to read at times.

 

Despite this definitely not being a genre I usually favour – this had me staying up late to finish – read in one sitting.

 

“The verb love is what counts, not the feeling of love. When you feel love, it’s selfish, it’s just for you and it affects nobody but you. But when you act love, you committing the act of loving somebody. Do you understand the concept?” p 290.

 

Do you?

 

Read the book and discover the depth of real meaning, real feeling and real life… in these words.

Guest Post – Remembering 9/11 – Laura Bloom

Welcome Australian author Laura Bloom to my blog. Laura is sharing some very personal moments with us as she reflects on an event that changed and influenced the lives of so many.

aura-bloom

REMEMBERING 9/11

On 9.11 my new husband Geoff and I were talking about breaking up. We had both grown up in Sydney but were living in London at the time, and had been very happy for a number of years. Then we married, and it mysteriously brought up issues for us that began to seem intractable. The morning of 9.11 we both called in sick to work, and walked around our neighbourhood, hashing out our problems. We went into a pub at one stage, to escape the bitter cold, but the blaring TVs and weird atmosphere among the other patrons put us off. We decided to break up, and my husband had packed his bag and just left our flat when a friend phoned and told me to turn on the TV.

It seemed to take ages for her to convince me it wasn’t an action movie, and that this TV footage of planes flying into buildings exploding into flames was real. ‘The authorities are warning people to stay at home and not to take public transport if possible,’ she told me. ‘Just in case there are more attacks here.’ London has long been a centre of terrorist activity. ‘You should tell Geoff not to come home from work on the tube.’ I hung up quickly and went running up the street. I caught up to him just as he was about to disappear into the Kilburn Station’s dark maw. ‘You can’t go on the underground,’ I told him, the thought of him being in any kind of danger reminding me of my love for him that dwarfed any consideration of the problems we’d been having. ‘Come back to the flat with me.’

We spent that evening sitting on the couch in front of the TV, watching the Twin Towers falling, over and over again. We decided to go to relationship counselling, before breaking up for good, and with the help of the wonderful British charity Relate, we decided to stay together. Which we still are, fifteen years and a wonderful son, later.

This is the scene I thought of when I came to write about 9.11 in my new novel, THE CLEANSKIN. In what is one of the two most autobiographical scenes in the novel, one of the main characters, Aidan, and his girlfriend Anne, also almost break up that day. They also go into a pub, and Anne also goes running up the road to stop Aidan taking the Tube. And 9.11 also saves them, temporarily at least.

Aidan experiences it even more intensely, however, because that was when Northern Ireland and the Troubles stopped hogging the world’s centre stage. After that the attention of the US and anti terrorism forces everywhere pivoted towards Islam, and for a little while a number of people thought the era of the Troubles was over. It wasn’t, completely – perhaps it will never be. Particularly recently with the Brexit threatening the Belfast Peace Agreement, that in 1998 brought peace to one of the longest running wars in history. But on 9.11 it’s described in my novel – which I borrowed from a newspaper piece written at the time – as though a great wave left the beach and went sucking back out to sea, taking the era of The Troubles, and all the problems Aidan and Anne and the other characters in my novel had experienced who were caught up them, with it.

It didn’t, of course. War and peace don’t begin overnight, and they don’t end overnight, either. But it’s a pivotal moment in my story, because that’s when Aidan decides that one day he will go looking for Megan, his brother’s fiancé, who is living in a small town on the other side of the world in Australia, under a new identity …

The Cleanskin

 

Post Script: A Beautiful Young Wife – Tommy Wieringa

A Beautiful Young Wife

A Beautiful Young Wife

Tommy Wieringa

Translated by Sam Garrett

Scribe Publications

ISBN:9781925321180

 

 

Description:

‘He had never married and had never been with one woman for long; he had always remained a collector of first times.’

 

Edward Landauer, a brilliant microbiologist in his forties, meets a beautiful young woman. She is the love of his life, and when the two marry in France, Edward is the happiest man in the world. At first, Ruth Walta appears to represent a victory over time, but even she cannot stop him growing older.

 

After the birth of their long-awaited son, the ‘happiness, delicate like filigree’ turns into something new, and Edward no longer recognises his great romance nor the woman who induced it.

 

 

My View:

This small book pacts a powerful punch – it is the kind of book that as you turn the last page you gasp in surprise and question “What? No more?” You want more…please….

 

On the surface this is a story that touches on a relationship in turmoil – but it is so much more. Wieringa poses so many questions, presents so any brilliant social observations in this sparse but beautifully evocative prose; identity – especially that of woman now mother is exquisitely explored. Scientific progress/experimentation and pain intersect succinctly. Relationships are displayed and prodded under a modern microscope depicting change.

 

The ending – yes I wanted more- not because I liked the protagonist – I disliked him immensely; his selfish manipulative ways, his pretentious mannerisms, his judgmental attitudes… but maybe because I could see some hint of self-awareness in his later life. The author has skilfully involved me in this man’s narrative.

 

Post Script: Between A Wolf and A Dog – Georgia Blain

Between A Wolf and a Dog

Between a Wolf and a Dog

 Georgia Blain

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925321111

 

Description:

Ester is a family therapist with an appointment book that catalogues the anxieties of the middle class: loneliness, relationships, death. She spends her days helping others find happiness, but her own family relationships are tense and frayed. Estranged from both her sister, April, and her ex-husband, Lawrence, Ester wants to fall in love again. Meanwhile, April is struggling through her own directionless life; Lawrence’s reckless past decisions are catching up with him; and Ester and April’s mother, Hilary, is about to make a choice that will profoundly affect them all.

 

Taking place largely over one rainy day in Sydney, and rendered with the evocative and powerful prose Blain is known for, Between a Wolf and a Dog is a celebration of the best in all of us — our capacity to live in the face of ordinary sorrows, and to draw strength from the transformative power of art. Ultimately, it is a joyous tribute to the beauty of being alive.

 

 

My View:

Exquisitely painful, melancholy, reflective, poignant and yet so beautifully written you will not be able to put this book down.

 

Without doubt one of the best book I have read this year!

 

This book should have been depressing but it wasn’t, it was a celebration of life and the joy of the everyday; sitting round the table with your family as a child, holidays with family, kids playing dress ups, cooking together in the kitchen, singing out loud, art… breathing in, breathing out, being in the moment….simple joys, beautiful locations (this author can write!)  This is a celebration of life, family and a peak at complex dynamics that make a family; of the fragility of love, the durability of love and moving on.  Beautiful.

I Just Have to Share

I have just finished reading a remarkable book –  I am in awe of the power of the writing here and I am having trouble doing justice to  my review of this author’s poignant work.  So until I work out how I can say what I feel about this book – believe me when I say – “You must read this.”

Between A Wolf and a Dog

Between a Wolf and a Dog

 Georgia Blain

Scribe Publications

ISBN: 9781925321111

Post Script: How Not to Disappear – Clare Furniss

How Not To Disappear

How Not To Disappear

Clare Furniss

Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781471144820

 

Description:

Our memories are what make us who we are. Some are real. Some are made up. But they are the stories that tell us who we are. Without them we are nobody.

 

Hattie’s summer isn’t going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to ‘find himself” and Kat is in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum’s wedding. Oh, and she’s also just discovered that she’s pregnant with Reuben’s baby.

 

Then Gloria, Hattie’s great-aunt who no one even knew existed, comes crashing into her life. Gloria’s fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia. Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery — Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are erased from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

 

Non Pratt’s Trouble meets Thelma and Louise with a touch of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, Clare Furniss’ remarkable How Not To Disappear is an emotional rollercoaster of a novel that will make you laugh and break your heart.

 

My View:

This is an engaging read, at time hilarious, at times poignant and heartbreaking – it may sound like I am describing a modern YA romance but this book is so much more than that. It is a coming of age story, a story of the circle of life – and in particular focusses on end of life/beginning of life, relationship and dementia.   But it is also about memory and identity, prejudice, love, family, assumptions, domestic violence and unplanned pregnancy…this narrative discusses so many issues you will wonder how the author managed to weave them all into a totally engaging and meaningful story. I enjoyed every moment of this – so much so I had a tear in my eye at its end.

 

In the acknowledgments Clare Furniss gives “heartfelt thanks” to the many friends, family and colleagues who “made the writing of this book possible in so many ways, from proofreading, and advising on historical details to child-minding and …support.”(p.407)

I would like to give my heart think thanks to Clare Furniss for:

  • Writing diverse characters  – with flaws, with temperaments, with histories, with dignity, with life experiences – the good and the bad.
  • Writing empathetically about aging and dementia.
  • Writing a complex narrative with so many social issues woven into its fabric – book clubs take heed – this book will suit your purposes very well.
  • Writing strong female protagonists – I loved then all – Gloria, Hattie, Kat, Edie, Alice, Hattie’s mum….
  • For not taking the easy way out and letting the car accident resolve the “problem” – no spoilers here.
  • For exploring and revealing the intricacies and diversity of relationships, the give and take, the abuse of.
  • For allowing Hattie to determine her own future.
  • For writing a wonderful mystery with twists and turns that you won’t anticipate.
  • For not sugar coating
  • For the dual story line/dual time lines – I loved the social commentary, the social history.
  • For writing a narrative that a fifteen year old or a fifty year old can enjoy.
  • For giving me a most enjoyable and entertaining evenings read.