Review: The Reunion – Polly Phillips

The Reunion

Polly Phillips

Simon & Schuster




An utterly addictive, deliciously dark look at the underside of glamorous university life . . . An absolute five star read’ GYTHA LODGE

‘I was completely hooked. Reminiscent of Big Little Lies‘ VICTORIA SELMAN

A chance to reconnect.
A chance to get revenge . . .

Emily Toller has tried to forget her time at university and the events that led to her suddenly leaving under a cloud. She has done everything she can to forget the shame and the trauma – and the people involved. She has tried to focus on the life she has built with her children and husband, Nick.

But events like that can’t just be forgotten. Not without someone answering for what they’ve done. 

When an invitation arrives to a University reunion, everything clicks into place. Emily has a plan.

Because if you can’t forget – why not get revenge?

My View:
Picture this…… a long fuse….you hear a match strike, you see a flicker of light, and the flame “catches” and the fuse ignites, a gentle trail of red/orange/gold fizzes slowly along the fuse…you are mesmerized by the flame. BOOM!!! The dynamite explodes – as does this read!

A powerful read with a conclusion that will knock your socks off.

Review: The Gilded Cage – Camilla Läckberg

The Gilded Cage

Camilla Läckberg

Harper Collins Publishers

ISBN: 9780008283735



All that glitters…


People would kill to have Faye von Essen’s life. She lives in an ultra-swanky apartment in the most exclusive area of Stockholm, she has a gorgeous husband who gives her everything she’s ever wanted, and she has an adorable daughter who lights up her world. Faye’s life is perfect.


So how is it, then, that she now finds herself in a police station?


The truth is that Faye’s life is far from what it seems. The truth is that Faye isn’t even her real name. And now she’s been caught out. There’s no way she’s going to go down without a fight. The only question is – who will escape with their life?



My View:

I found it took me a little while to get “into” this novel. I think the translation was part of that reason – the style a little formal, a little clunky in places.


This is a narrative that illuminates the issues many women still face in life today – as being seen a possession, as having a “use by date”, of being “invisible” in the workplace, of not being given credit for ideas/work done. For highlighting and discussing those issues I applaud this read.


It is also a very cleverly constructed story of survival and revenge. At times you will find yourself silently applauding the protagonist, its that kind of read. The downfall for me however was that I generally did not like the main characters. I did not like their seeming obsessions with meaningless sex – although I thought just occurred to me – was this the authors deliberate intention – to demonstrate how a set of behaviours – sexual conquests – is mostly accepted in male characters but frowned on in women’s behaviour?  Interesting…clever.


An interesting read.







Review: Seven Lies – Elizabeth Kay

Seven Lies

Elizabeth Kay

Hachette Australia



RRP $32.99



Jane and Marnie have been inseparable since they were eleven years old. They have a lot in common. In their early twenties they fell in love with and married handsome young men. But Jane never liked Marnie’s husband. He was always so loud and obnoxious, so much larger than life. Which is rather ironic now, of course.


Because if Jane had been honest – if she hadn’t told those lies – then perhaps her best friend’s husband might still be alive . . .


This is Jane’s opportunity to tell the truth and, as she narrates their shared history and unpicks each of her seven lies, she reveals the pockets of darkness that have infiltrated their friendship and the toxic secrets still bubbling beneath. It’s a novel about obsession, grief, the dark corners of even the closest friendships and what it means to tell your version of the truth.



My View:

This is a very disconcerting yet mesmerising read.  The friendships and various relationships depicted in this narrative feel real and everyday yet the behaviour of the protagonist, who slowly morphs into the antihero, (an unusual development in itself) starts out as benign (who wouldn’t tell a little white lie to protect a friend/friendship?) and ends up scarily obsessive and destructive.   The author takes us on a strangely unique journey – from best friend to toxic friend…from the point to f view of the toxic partner.


This is a very engaging read and one where a simply depicted act of revenge is disconcerting and horrifying. Snap – a life is over.  This is a very unsettling read.



Review: The Recovery of Rose Gold – Stephanie Wrobel

The Recovery of Rose Gold
Stephanie Wrobel
Penguin Random House Australia
Michael Joseph
ISBN: 9780241416082

Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mother is a really good liar.

After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with the daughter who testified against her – and care for her new infant grandson.

When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend. And she has waited such a long time for her mother to come home.
But is she still the pliable young girl she once was? And is Patty still as keen on settling an old score?

Because if mothers never forget then daughters never forgive.

A chilling tale of obsession, reconciliation and revenge from an incredible new talent.

My View:
This one completely baffled me – right up to the last few pages and then it still had a few surprises – a great read!

This is a read that will keep you guessing, will have you shaking your head confoundedly, “how could this happen?”, will continually surprise you and you will gasp at the ending.

This is a great read.

Post Script: Little Black Lies- Sharon Bolton

Atmospheric, fantastic word visuals, contemporary issues and a mystery to solve- what a great read!

Cover Little Black Lies

Little Black Lies

Sharon Bolton

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers 

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593069202




What’s the worst thing your best friend could do to you?


Admittedly, it wasn’t murder. A moment’s carelessness, a tragic accident – and two children are dead. Yours.


Living in a small island community, you can’t escape the woman who destroyed your life. Each chance encounter is an agonizing reminder of what you’ve lost – your family, your future, your sanity.


How long before revenge becomes irresistible?


With no reason to go on living, why shouldn’t you turn your darkest thoughts into deeds?


So now, what’s the worst thing you can do to your best friend?



My View:

This was a great read – there is so much packed into this one narrative; it is evocative, the sense of dread and foreboding vibrates of the page. The scenes with the whales (no spoilers here) just so dark and sad and painful – it tears large wounds in your heart. Grief, despair, depression and post-traumatic stress provide the back beat to this black tune. What a powerful story!


 Then there is the mystery and disappearance of several young children and a mother’s passion for vengeance. Read and enjoy and maybe like me just be for the reveal you may guess the culprit.


Post Script: Five Minutes Alone – Paul Cleave

Five Minutes Alone

A Thriller

Paul Cleave

Atria Books

Atria Books

ISBN: 9781476779157




In the latest thriller by the Edgar-nominated author of Joe Victim, someone is helping rape victims exact revenge on their attackers, prompting an edge-of-your-seat, cat-and-mouse chase between old friends, detectives Theodore Tate and Carl Schroder.


Carl Schroder and Theodore Tate, labeled “The Coma Cops” by the media, are finally getting their lives back into shape. Tate has returned to the police force and is grateful to be back at home with his wife, Bridget. For Schroder, things are neither good nor bad. The bullet lodged in his head from a shooting six months ago hasn’t killed him, but—almost as deadly—it’s switched off his emotions.


When the body of a convicted rapist is found, obliterated by an oncoming train, Tate works the case, trying to determine if this is murder or suicide. The following night, the bodies of two more rapists surface. It’s hard to investigate when everyone on the police force seems to be rooting for the killer.


There’s a common plea detectives get from the loved ones of victims: When you find the man who did this, give me five minutes alone with him. And that’s exactly what someone is doing. Someone is helping these victims get their five minutes alone. But when innocent people start to die, Tate and Schroder find themselves with different objectives, and soon they’re battling something they never would’ve expected—each other.


My View:

This is a review that is causing me to wrestle with my response to the book – I had so many! Let me explain – I hadn’t read any others in this series but the premise of revenge drew me in. The first few chapters I found really engaging, tense, and dramatic. I empathised with the first murderer – I think anyone would. And hence starts the first of many moral dilemmas in this narrative.


The theme of revenge, of ‘doing the right thing by doing the wrong thing’ is a theme I have noticed weave its way into a few contemporary reads lately. The question is raised, would you do the ‘right thing’ when ‘the right thing’ isn’t necessarily the ‘legal thing’. And responds and provides scenarios that address the comment so many victims of crime or their close friends, family or partner may say after a horrific act – “Give me five minutes alone with the perpetrator.” We have all heard it before or maybe even responded the same way. What would you do with that time? Cleave provides some very interesting outcomes to stir your thoughts. (Some progressive gaols do encourage victims to meet with the perpetrator – whether that be to vent and rage or to try understand the “why” and help the victim deal with their loss of power.)


I really liked the characterisations in this novel – flawed but very human cops, the main protagonists’ being cops who are also victims/perpetrators of crimes themselves. This put a very interesting spin on the narrative and this is where I wish I had read the previous novels to get a better understanding of what made Theo and Carl the people we encounter in this book.


However the amount of bad luck that Carl Schroder experiences was a little difficult to believe; I could almost see the actions exaggerated just a little to fit the script of a very black slapstick comedy…The strength of the writing kept me reading.


So I am conflicted on how I feel about this book, would I recommend it to others? Maybe with the proviso you read the earlier books first and get a good understanding of the history that created Theo and Carl as depicted in this book. Was I engaged with this narrative? Yes I was, I wanted to know how Theo and Carl could possibly get themselves out of such a difficult situation and I wanted these flawed good /bad guys to win. It is too hard, I will leave this one for you to decide what you think about it.



The Skeleton Road – Val McDermid

The Skeleton Road

Val McDermid

Little, Brown Book Group UK

Little, Brown

ISBN: 9781408704578



The Queen of the psychological thriller returns with her latest chilling novel.


When a skeleton is discovered hidden at the top of a crumbling, gothic building in Edinburgh, Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is faced with the unenviable task of identifying the bones. As Karen’s investigation gathers momentum, she is drawn deeper into a world of intrigue and betrayal, spanning the dark days of the Balkan Wars.


Karen’s search for answers brings her to a small village in Croatia, a place scarred by fear, where people have endured unspeakable acts of violence. Meanwhile, someone is taking the law into their own hands in the name of justice and revenge, but when present resentment collides with secrets of the past, the truth is more shocking than anyone could have imagined . . .




My View:

This story is intriguing, is chilling, is revealing, is historic in its depiction of the atrocities committed during war buy all parties, and is also a murder mystery and a powerful love story. This book has so much to offer. This narrative cleverly reveals that anyone is capable of brutality or revenge. This is a powerful read.


So much social commentary under the guise of crime writing! I loved this book. I think there are lessons here for all to embrace – this is so much more than a murder mystery but a murder mystery it is and such a great police procedural too. The plotting is outstanding, the characters are engaging and contemporary, the ending just a little sad. I hope this is just the introduction to a new series starring DCI Karen Pirie. Magnificent!!!




Post Script: Confessions -Kanae Minato


Kanae Minato

Mulholland Books

Mulholland Books

ISBN: 9780316200929



Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.

After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm’s way. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.


My View:

The synopsis sounded intriguing; a story of murder and revenge however I found that I didn’t really connect or find the narrative compelling or thrilling. Perhaps there is a cultural disconnect or maybe something is lost in the translation– I found the style of writing conservative and polite, almost cold and the premise and the actions/reactions, sad.


The voice of the teacher I found quite stilted – but then that could be the accepted tone of a Japanese teacher/woman in Japanese society; reserved, polite and unemotional… I do not know. The voices of the children flowed a little better but I found the characters pathetic and childish, I know they are children but so much attention seeking behavior (they were meant to be 13year olds but came across emotionally a lot younger) yet they had understandings of AIDS, the legal system, porn etc. that did not marry with the childlike attitudes; something did not sit quite right for me.


I found that a lot of the consequences of actions in this narrative are based on attitudes about respect- for positions in the workplace, positions in the family (male centred), not necessarily about respect earned, about how the opinions of others is so highly valued, that appearance and conformity to social mores are paramount, how what the neighbors or community thinks matters more than what the individual thinks/feels,  that women are still valued by prettiness, youth and manners…so many values and attitudes that did not sit well with me.


The story – is deceiving – it began interestingly but in the end left me a little flat. Perhaps the general flatness and unemotional way this story was delivered inspired my lack lustre response, I certainly did not connect with any of the characters or with the plot or with the traditions/social norms or attitudes. There was a twist at the end, but by then I was not really engaged with this story and didn’t really care.   I would not describe this novel as a work of crime fiction or thriller, more a reflection on society – with some crimes.



Post Script: Teach Her – Mark Kotting

Teach Her

Mark Kotting

Legend Press

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781909878587

Teach Her is a fast moving, darkly humorous novel. A who did what to who and why. The most bizarre book you’ll read this year.


A teacher is in for the chop. An ex pupil with psychotic tendencies wants answers. A one legged soldier home from war has revenge in his heart.

Tension is rising as a diverse set of people struggle to live side-by-side in a small town.

A sparky and quirky tale that will leave you questioning the influence of teachers and the value of a fake leg.


My View:

Definitely quirky and full of anger and revenge. This book is strange and had me fooled for a moment – there are some very poetic passages and insightful glimpses, “He’s at an age when he forgets things, goes back to his larder of memory and there’s nothing but empty space where preserve jars of past events were once stored. Jim hates that, the dark emptiness of his larder.” Some observations such as this charmed and were brilliant but the rest…sorry just seemed to be sad, angry and very very dark. I didn’t see the humour and I didn’t enjoy this read.


If you are looking for something that makes you feel uncomfortable – this book is for you.




Post Script: Catalyst – Michael Knaggs


Hotel St Kilda Series

Michael Knaggs

Troubador Publishing Ltd


ISBN: 9781783067619



“Time’s up, Jimmy. This is for your neighbours hiding behind their curtains, for the guys you injured tonight and other nights, and for the misery and pain you’ve inflicted on hundreds of nice people. Oh yes, and for the lady I told you about. I don’t think I mentioned it before, but the third time she tried to take her own life, she succeeded.” He pulled the trigger.

The first book in the gripping ‘Hotel St Kilda’ series by Michael Knaggs transports the reader to a community under constant threat from a brutal gang, led by three brothers. When these men are lured to an isolated street and shot dead by a mysterious stranger, the subsequent euphoria on the estate where they lived is picked up by the national press.

Catalyst follows the crusade of Tom Brown, MP for the Opposition Party and champion of law and order, who is forced to put everything on the line, including his relationship with his wife, to implement a controversial New Justice Regime. He receives strong support from his Party colleagues and a local campaigner, George Holland, who travels the country to rally the support for radical change.

When the killer is eventually caught, the gang sets out for revenge, targeting George for his outspoken condemnation of their activities and uncompromising proposals for their demise. They descend in large numbers on the quiet village where he lives, armed and ready to kill, and the resulting event is dubbed ‘The Meadow Village Massacre’ across the national papers.

Catalyst builds from an opening sequence based on a short story penned by the author over fifty years ago. The saga of Hotel St Kilda will continue in the second book of the series, Heaven’s Door, and features a climax which has its roots in a separate short story. The narrative is a linking of these two events, and whilst purely a work of fiction, provides a vehicle for the author to express a number of personal issues on law and order.


My View:

I really enjoyed the opening sequences of this book and can understand why the author decided to develop this into a full sized novel – however I think a little of the tension and the excitement was lost in the translation to a novel about politics and manipulation. The original premise seemed to change to an altogether different agenda – a law and order social change theme and whilst it was certainly interesting to  read how the public, journalists and members of the government alike can be manipulated  so easily and cleverly, it was not the story I thought I was going to get or wanted.