Review: A Caravan Like A Canary – Sasha Wasley

A Caravan Like A Canary

Sasha Wasley

Panterra Press

ISBN: 9780648987505

Description:

Two road trips. Twenty years apart. Can the memories of a troubled family past finally be put to rest?

When Tara Button’s mother asks her to drive the bright yellow family caravan from one end of the state to the other, it’s her charming but unreliable brother, Zac, who convinces her it’s a good idea. Besides, the road trip might keep Zac out of trouble – and that’s always been a second job for Tara.

Tara doesn’t expect Zac’s enigmatic friend Danh to come along for the ride. Or the bikies that seem to be following them up the coast .

As they travel along the open road, memories of the Buttons’ last trip in the caravan engulf Tara, while a rediscovered love for the wild, glorious ocean chips away at her reserve. When forced to face her past, will Tara find the courage to let go and discover her dreams?

My View:

Outstanding! The best read of the year!

I loved every moment of this read; the characters – so well developed I can visualise this one the big screen, the settings – some I recognise, some I have been to – in a caravan :), the trauma and PTSD I recognise and empathise with the characters and their situations, the narrative….engaging…just so much to offer the reader in this book!

This is a fabulous read and I think the best of Sasha’s work thus far. I eagerly await the next offering from this amazing author and lovely human.

Review: Wild Dogs – Michael Trant

Wild Dogs

Michael Trant

Bantam Australia

ISBN:9781761046773

RRP $32.99

Description:

Wild Dogs is a page-turning action thriller set in the WA outback, introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher

‘Tough, fast and hard – my kind of book.’ -Lee Child

In the drought-ridden rangelands of Western Australia, Gabe Ahern makes his living trapping wild dogs for local station owners.

Still coming to terms with his wife’s death – and the part he played in it – the old bushman leads a solitary life. Until one morning, when he rescues a young Afghan man, Amin, from certain execution.

Now, with a gang of people smugglers on his tail and the lives of Amin’s family on the line, Gabe is drawn into a ruthless game of cat and mouse. His main opponent is Chase Fowler, a kangaroo hunter with bush skills as wily and sharp as his own.

As the old dogger and roo-shooter go head to head, Gabe will need all his cunning to come out of this alive…


Wild Dogs is a just-one-more-chapter thriller that kept me up long after lights out.’ -Jack Heath 

My View:

Firstly I would like to disagree with the statement” ….introducing Australia’s answer to Jack Reacher“. This book is so much more interesting, complex, taut, gutsy, and raw; so much better than any Jack Reacher (apologies Lee Child, nothing personal).

WOW!!! That about sums up my reaction to this book. Read it, I think you will agree with me. 🙂

Guest Review: At The End of the Day – Liz Byrski

At the End of the Day

Liz Byrski

Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760987893

Pam’s View:

I’ve been a fan of Liz Byrski’s work for many years and her 11th fiction book At The End Of The Day doesn’t disappoint. Her ability to create believable and relatable characters shines through once again.

The main characters are of an age rarely highlighted in fiction, if seen at all this older age group is generally in a minor role, offering sage advice or in place as a warning about the ravages of time. Liz Byrski puts them centre stage with their imperfections, realistic concerns and ever present worry of irrelevance.

This character driven, insightful story deals with the nuances of ageing, the gradual physical changes and the mental challenges of self-worth, loneliness and decision-making that accompanies the years.

The wonderful main characters are balanced by a supporting cast of different ages dealing with realistic challenges of their own that are topical and thought provoking.

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and relatable, and I felt connected in a way that rarely happens through fiction. These people could have been my neighbours.

Guest Review: Stalking Claremont – Bret Christian

Stalking Claremont
Inside the Hunt for a Serial Killer  
Bret Christian
ABC Books
Harper Collins Publishers Australia

Rachel’s Review:

An incredibly gripping, insightful and compelling look behind the scenes of Australia’s longest-running homicide investigation.

I was absolutely hooked by this fascinating exploration of the horrific crimes and subsequent decades of investigations to catch the murderer that terrorised Claremont.

This meticulous probe into the high-stakes police work, bumbling mistakes, and relentless focus on innocent suspects was riveting. With broad strokes reporter Bret Christian paints a vivid picture of Claremont in the late 1990s, a world that in many ways feels so familiar and yet, in others, so far removed from my own experiences as a young woman in Perth just a decade later – testament to how much we were changed as a town when three women’s lives were cut short. Piecing together what we remember from the last 20 plus years of media coverage with all the things the public never knew, including how the case was eventually cracked, this is a considered, detailed and well-researched ode to three Perth women whose names will never be forgotten – Sarah Spiers, Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon.

Review: Inside the hunt for a serial killer: Stalking Claremont – Bret Christian.

Stalking Claremont

Inside the Hunt for a Serial Killer  

Bret Christian

ABC Books

Harper Collins Publishers Australia

ISBN 978073338731

RRP $32.99

 

Description:

The gripping true story of the notorious Claremont serial murders and the nation’s longest and most expensive investigation to catch the killer

 

In the space of just over a year in 1996-7, three young women disappeared from Claremont, an upmarket suburb in central Perth. When two of the young women were found murdered, Australia’s longest and most expensive investigation was established. More than twenty years later, an unlikely suspect was arrested based on forensic evidence that also linked the murders to two previous vicious rapes. Stalking Claremont, by local newsman Bret Christian, is a riveting story of young lives cut short, a city in panic, an investigation riddled with error, and a surprising twist that absolutely no one saw coming.

 

Author Bret Christian adds:

“It is hard to dream up a worse way to write the definitive book on the Claremont serial killings. It was always an unfolding story. At our local newspaper we had been following and reporting on the Claremont serial killer cases since 1995. After an arrest was made I gave many interviews, one to news.com.au. Almost instantly I received a call from ABC Books commissioning a book.  I wrote it in three months, realising the urgency – Edwards might plead guilty or, being a very high-profile prisoner, something might happen to him in jail.

Publication had to wait three years for a trial to begin,  then another 10 months for the completion of the  court case. In the meantime, with new interviews and court submissions, much new information had to be woven into the original manuscript. Avoiding making the additions look stuck-on, resembling a coronavirus molecule, meant many headaches.”

Stalking Claremont presents as a detailed murder-mystery thriller, but it was written to provide the answers – to learn from the past in order to better face he future.  What went wrong in the hunt for the Claremont serial killer? What was really behind the focus on the wrong people? What finally went right? Can these lessons be universally applied to other unsolved crime mysteries?

 

 

My View:

 I predict a Walkley!

 

This is a book of powerful emotions. At first my interest was piqued as the crimes and circumstances happened in my home state, in social situations I was familiar with/was involved with …the narrative, like the crimes committed felt very personal.  As I started reading, I was surprised at how quickly I was transported back to that era and how suddenly I got the “chills” and locked my open sliding door opposite my seat on the lounge where I sat reading. I felt discomfort, no I felt fear.

 

This uncomfortable feeling, this apprehension did not leave but was overtaken by anger when I continued to read and discover the many civil liberties that were trashed, individual’s health and lifestyles destroyed, for no concrete reasons, during this lengthy and mostly narrow sighted investigation.  How did/could things go so wrong for so long? There are many questions that needed asking, an enquiry that needs to be made (if it’s not happened already/or is happening), reassurances that this sort of flawed investigating never happens again.

 

I continued reading, again aghast at why useful information was not made public, why first-hand useful information was ignored…then I read details of the murders that had not been released to the public…oh dear! These poor girls.  Sorrow, grief…so many more emotions.

 

This is a book that I highly recommend you read; this excellently researched and written book is astonishing in the facts it illuminates, the wrongs it sets right by clearly announcing to the general public that the publicly persecuted persons of interest were not at all involved with the crimes, and had no physical evidence linking them to the crimes, ever, etc (where is the public apologies? Where is the compensation, though how you can compensate for this level of distress and intrusion caused to blameless individuals I do not know)?  I am outraged as you may have gathered. And I hope that somehow, someone reading this book will recall a vital piece of information that will bring Sarah Spiers home.  I hope Bradley Robert Edwards is never released from prison.

 

What a read! I don’t think a book has ever incensed me like this.

 

I predict awards for Bret Christian. Thank you for shining the light on this controversial investigation.

Review My Best Friend’s Murder – Polly Phillips

My Best Friend’s Murder

Polly Phillips

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781761100178

RRP $29.99

 

Description:

You’re lying, sprawled at the bottom of the stairs, legs bent, arms wide.

 

If I squint, you could be playing Sleeping Bunnies. Or maybe Twister.

 

I wish I could tell you how the blood pooling around your head looks like a halo.

 

But you’re past listening.

 

I need to let the paramedics in. And then I have to be careful.

 

Because as the energy trickles out of your body it’s pumping into mine.

 

And while this could be a tragic accident, if anyone’s got a motive to hurt you, it’s me.

*

Bec and Izzy have been best friends their whole lives. They’ve been through a lot together – the death of Bec’s mother, the birth of Izzy’s daughter, Bec’s engagement.

But there’s a darker side to their friendship, too – and Bec is about to reach breaking point.

Then Izzy is found broken and bloodied at the bottom of the stairs.

It could have been an accident – perhaps she fell – but if the police decide to look for a killer, then Bec is sure to be their prime suspect.

*

This is The Rumour meets The Holiday, a compulsive thriller with a toxic but layered friendship at its heart that keeps you in the dark until the final few breathless pages . . .

 

My View:

This is a really interesting read on a few levels. It is a genre I like – crime/mystery/domestic noir, and it has an plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep you guessing – in fact I didn’t work out the culprit – and was surprised when this was revealed (no spoilers). But for me this has been a significant read/discussion about relationships and has left me considering the toxicity of some of those relationships in my life.

 

For me this is a narrative about the stories we tell our self; of memory and how it is influenced by our own desires and need to fit, to belong, to be acknowledged. Reflection  sat heavily with me long after I finished reading this book. Thank Holly Phillips for creating a world that has shone a torch on my own relationships, toxic relationships are hiding within plain sight 😊 Now what to do about them…I don’t have stairs in my house😊 😊

 

PS Polly is a Perth writer – another reason t celebrate this read 😊

 

 

 

Review: The Ruin – Dervla McTiernan

the ruin

The Ruin

Dervla McTiernan

Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN: 9781460754214

 

Description:

 It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

 

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

 

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

 

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

 

 

My View:

Fantastic reading – and I don’t say this lightly!

I have discovered a new favourite protagonist in Cormac Reilly and lucky for me (and you) the second book in the series, The Scholar, is due out in a couple of weeks so you will be able to immerse yourself in the in Irish landscapes, the exciting mysteries, the politics and corruption (in the police force that makes for an interesting back story) and the brilliance that is Cormac Reilly.

 

Cormac Reilly is a realistic, hardworking, sensitive, conscientious, modern and honest cop. He is not flawed (that I have noticed, hurray!!) He doesn’t drink excessively, or have any addictions or other black marks on his character – so refreshingly different!  You will love this character and want to read more.

 

This is another read I predict will make a wonderful tv series.

 

 

 

 

A Special Announcement

I am so pleased to hear some great news from the talented Western Australian author – Sasha Wasley (S D Wasley).

Dear Banjo and True Blue are about to be joined by Love Song in the Daughters of the Outback series.

 

Love Song

About Love Song

Out June 4, 2019

When she agreed to tutor Charlie Campbell, falling in love was the last thing on her mind.

At 17, Beth Paterson had just lost her mother and was working hard to get in to university. She didn’t expect to lose her head over a boy – and she certainly didn’t expect him to vanish without even saying goodbye.

These days, Charlie is a big star on the alternative rock scene, while Beth is a respected doctor in her hometown. But her ordered life is thrown into turmoil when Charlie comes back to fight for the tiny community where he was raised. They can’t stop crossing paths any more than Beth can ignore the resurgence of that wild attraction they once shared.

However, Beth Paterson swore no man would ever screw her over again – least of all this man. She’s been protecting her heart since he left and she’s not about to let her guard down now.

Author’s comment on the cover: I love that the cover has gone back to the amazing red and blue spectrum of the Kimberley region. Beth is perfect – strong, solitary and sexy. And the best bit is the handwritten musical notes peeping through, reminding us that Charlie Campbell’s voice is always whispering in the back of Beth’s memory.

 

 

And there is more exciting news. 

The series, which has been a hit in Australia, is currently in bookstores in Germany and will soon be available as an audio book. 🙂

Even more exciting, Sasha has just sold the film rights to all three novels and we are hoping to soon see Willow, Free and Beth on the screen!

 

Fantastic news Sasha!!!

 

 

Now available for pre-order from your favourite store as paperback or ebook.

Paperback

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Hive – A.J Betts

Hive

Hive (Hive #1)

A J Betts

Pan

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781760556433

 

Description:

All I can tell you is what I remember, in the words that I have.

 

Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known.

 

Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling.

 

A drip? It doesn’t make sense.

 

Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it.

 

Curiosity is a hook.

 

What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

 

 

My View:

Let’s start by admiring the spectacular cover art with its gold embossing, award winning I would suggest.

 

The narrative is simply driven, and quietly spoken which belies the horrors of the actual landscape. Through Hayley’s eyes we explore a futuristic world where the division of labour determines an individual’s existence and pathway to adulthood, a world where dissidents are not tolerated.

 

 

A J Betts has quickly established this “other world”, the main characters and a mystery that is just starting to be unravelled by Hayley in this, the first book in the Hive series. Hayley is the perfect vehicle for us to explore and experience life in the Hive.  She has a naivety, curiosity and intelligence that connects her to the reader.  We care about Hayley. “Does it ever feel to you like life is a puzzle? “ I nodded. It did. “It’s not like that for everyone you know…. For most people life just happens and they don’t ask why or how. They don’t notice the gaps between the puzzle pieces, or wonder what they mean.” (p.243) Hayley is a naturally curious person, and you know what happened to the cat….

 

A great read that will leave you wanting more. A read that all ages can embrace. A read that will leave you thinking, thinking…so many unanswered questions, so much material here to stimulate discussion.

 

 

 

 

Review: Sisters and Brothers – Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer

Sisters and Brothers by Fiona Palmer is published by Hachette Australia. $29.99. Out now.

 

Description:

A poignant novel of heartbreak, adoption and a father’s love by beloved bestselling Australian author, Fiona Palmer.

 

Bill, 72, feels left behind after the death of his adored wife. He relies heavily on his only daughter, Sarah.

 

Sarah, career woman and perfectionist homemaker, struggles to keep up with the Joneses. As her husband grows distant, she has no support network.

 

Emma, a down-to-earth nurse and busy mother of three, always dreamed of having a sister . . . But nothing prepares her for the shock results of a routine blood test.

 

Adam, a successful florist, was raised by his mother. As his dreams start to fall into place, he can’t stop thinking about the father he never had.

 

Finally, Michelle is trying to build cake-making into a career. But at 46, has she left her run too late to fall in love, have children and find her birth parents?

 

These five very different people – all connected but separated by secrets from the past – could be facing their futures together. After all, friends will come and go but sisters and brothers are forever . . . The new novel of heartbreak, adoption, family and a father’s love by the Top Ten bestselling author of Secrets Between Friends, Fiona Palmer

 

 

My View:

For me this was a very nostalgic readI loved reading about this era (70’s- 80’s), clichéd as it may be – life was so different then and Fiona Palmer captures the innocence of youth (distilled into the character of the protagonist, Bill) juxtaposed against rapid changes in communications, music, health care, technology, the developing women’s’ rights movement…this is a sociology lesson without the homework 🙂

 

This is a narrative that is built on a foundation of secrets. It is poignant, reflective and ultimately healing. This is a most enjoyable read but don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two as you join Bill on his life’s journey.  Heart-warming, nostalgic, romantic, love affirming…this book has it all.

PS whilst reading this I was inspired to paint this – don’t you think it shouts 70’s to you?

 

carol's art