Category Archives: Australia

Review: You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

You Were Made For Me by Jenna Guillaume

YA author Jenna Guillaume is back with a fun and modern feminist twist on the 1985 pop cult film Weird Science.

Sixteen-year-old Katie Camilleri can’t believe she’s accidentally created a teenage boy. A boy six-feet tall with floppy hair and eyes like the sky on a clear summer’s day. A boy whose lips taste like cookie dough and whose skin smells like springtime. A boy completely devoted to Katie. But silly musings and kitchen antics with her best friend, Libby, have definitely taken a whimsical twist into something bigger than Katie could have ever daydreamed. Turns out the consequences of fumbling a human being into existence are rather complicated. More importantly, does Guy, the golden Adonis Katie’s created, like her because he wants to, or because he has to? And will he be Katie’s very first kiss?

From the author of What I Like About Me comes a hilarious feminist twist on a classic narrative, loaded with laughs, mishaps, and plenty of 80s and 90s pop-culture callbacks. Jenna Guillaume’s entertaining romantic comedy novel features a humorous and relatable voice and will appeal to fans of Jenny Han.

Published (ed) 1 April 2021|  Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

Being Australian, I have been aware of this author for a few years and of this book, sometime in 2020 (noting Australian publishing date was August 2020). For some reason, however, I never thought to add this to my TBR as it just didn’t seem to be my kind of read. I do love this cover though and as it popped up as a ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley, I just had to click that button, don’t I…

I have to admit that I jumped into the novel not knowing exactly what I’m in for. At the start, this novel was quite fascinating where two teenage girls ‘made’ a perfect boy out of clay to meet the dreams of the main protagonist. The story is easy to read and I do love the growth of characters but the structure of the telling bothered me so I didn’t particularly enjoy the read.

We have Katie Camilleri, the protagonist, who is writing this story down while her best friend, Libby, is standing over her shoulder, reading & interrupting with certain inputs of when to fast forward the story and what’s to include in the story. At first, I really liked Libby’s comments (snarkiness between BFFs are to be appreciated) but about halfway, I just found it disruptive and annoying. So, I guess, this structure didn’t quite work for me.

Thank you Peachtree Publishing Company via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram |  facebook

Review: The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

The Hope Flower by Joy Dettman

From the bestselling author of Mallawindy and the Woody Creek series comes a story of love and survival.

Lori Smyth-Owen isn’t your average teenager – as you’d expect from the only girl in a family of twelve. Or they were a family, until their father took his own life to escape his bed-bound wife, too obese to leave her room.

But for Lori and the remaining brothers, there is no escape from their volatile, mentally unstable mother. They raise themselves away from the gaze of the authorities, realising that though abandoned, they are now in charge. They can control everything, including their mother’s food intake.

In time, their mother emerges, after losing two-thirds of her body weight. But does she bring with her the seed of hope for a better future, or will all hell break loose?

Published 30 March 2021 |  Publisher: MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$14.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  |  QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Joy Dettman is a well-known Aussie author but I’ve yet to read any of her books until this one. A few are on my TBR but I guess they’re not my particular comfort reads so they keep getting pushed back. As this was a review copy courtesy of the publisher, I pushed myself a little to reading this. I must admit that I wasn’t particularly keen on cover nor description but once I started, it was pretty easy to keep going. Noting my reading mood this year, the fact I managed to finish the book speaks well of its readability.

The Hope Flower is told from the perspective of a 15 year old girl, Lori Smyth-Owen. The only girl of 12 children and currently, she rules the roost. The house is a busy one (even as their mother does nothing all day) but routine is well regimented and chores shared all around. This time, Eddy came up with another scheme to get their mother to shape up. When she did shape up, however, the only to benefit was herself but she did go out in style.

While the story is actually quite sad and heartbreaking (how can your heart not hurt for these neglected children?!), I didn’t find the read depressing. Lori is one feisty character; full of gumption and yet, beneath all that hard rock is a soft spot where seedling of hope is still being kept alive. All these children are such amazing characters; resilient and resourceful! Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any adult characters here.

I just found that The Hope Flower is not the first book by this author to feature Lori but I don’t think I can go back to read the other one, Henry’s Daughter. I can’t tell you if you’d miss anything if you read this without reading the earlier one because this truly reads like a stand-alone for me. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed reading The Hope Flower as it has definitely exceeded any expectations I had for it.

My thanks to MacMillan Australia for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Joy Dettman sees herself as a wife, mother and grandmother, who steals time from her family to satisfy her obsessive need to write.

Joy was not always a wife, mother and grandmother. She can recall her early obsession with newspaper cartoons. They were her picture books. A newspaper shoutline allowed her to break the code of reading prior to entering a school room, thus addicting her for life to the printed word.

Joy’s early draft of Woody Creek, single spaced, margin to margin, messy, was typed on the family room table, where in 1986-7, she wrote Mallawindy. Her number one fan, her little sister, read it, and for the next ten years, publication became their joint obsession.

In 1997, she received a phone call from Pan Macmillan. Mallawindy was accepted for publication and by ’98 Joy and her number one fan held that book in their hands.

Review: Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

Dirt Circus League by Maree Kimberley

I stumbled towards the Meat House, my body shaking with the violence that raged within me, as the realisation of the mistake I had made in coming here rose to the surface of my mind. This was the last place I should be. That thought was crossed by another, even more terrifying.

This is exactly where I belong.

Asa’s running from a troubled past. To a remote outback town, a disappointing father and a fresh start that’s already souring.

But then the notorious Dirt Circus League arrives. A troupe of outcast teens performing spectacular fight sequences and challenging any who dares to take part.

They’re ruthless. Menacing. Thrilling. And led by the magnetic Quarter. He’s dark, powerful and intensely attractive—and he faces a threat only Asa can see.

Will Asa be drawn into the league’s mysterious community?

And, as she discovers the violent secrets at its heart, will she delve into her own untapped abilities to save herself—and heal those caught in its evil web?

Dirt Circus League is a compelling and fast-paced novel about the powerful allure of danger and the battles we face with our demons in a world beyond our control.

Published 30 March 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (2.5 / 5 stars)

Such an eye-catching cover! That bright pink on background of pure black with title in eye-popping neon yellow; overall, one of the best covers I’ve ever seen. And when you add the word ‘circus’ to the title, I’m a goner. I have to read this book!

Going by the book description, this book could be contemporary or it could be fantasy. Truthfully, I’m finding it hard to place this book in a certain category but I think I’d actually place it as magical realism which is a bit hit and miss for me so unfortunately, this book was closer to a miss.

The setting is a fictional outback town of Australia (possibly in QLD) and it is set in the present time. Asa, the protagonist, is running away from a mother who does not care for her but also of her grief and anger at losing her grandmother who loved her. She came across the Dirt Circus League, became fascinated by the violence, and decided that it may be a good space for her and her anger. What she found at their headquarters, however, was beyond even her imagining and Asa had to decide whether to give in to her anger or accept herself and become better.

As you’d know, magical realism is usually full of strange and at times, wonderful things. In this novel, though, it mostly strange, violent, and more violence. Language wise, I found the novel easy to read and Asa is a pretty easy protag to like despite her anger issues but yet, that’s understandable and she came out strong in the end. I just couldn’t appreciate all the imagery so this is all on me.

Thank you Text Publishing via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

Review: The Gaps by Leanne Hall

The Gaps by Leanne Hall

When sixteen-year-old Yin Mitchell is abducted, the news reverberates through the whole Year Ten class at Balmoral Ladies College. As the hours tick by, the girls know the chance of Yin being found alive is becoming smaller and smaller.

Everyone is affected by Yin’s disappearance—even scholarship student Chloe, who usually stays out of Balmoral dramas, is drawn into the maelstrom. And when she begins to form an uneasy alliance with Natalia, the queen of Year Ten, things get even more complicated.

A tribute to friendship in all its guises, The Gaps is a moving examination of vulnerability and strength, safety and danger, and the particular uncertainties young women face in the world.

Published 2 March 2021|  Publisher: Text Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$19.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Fabulous cover and I am familiar with author’s name even if I’ve not previously read her books. While I do read some contemporary YA, it’s not my preferred genre but I think I was slightly misled by the description of this book which makes me think that there’d be some mystery solving duo. It’s my own fault though for reading into it the way I wanted to rather than what it actually says. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the reading; identified with some characters, shed some tears, and bowled over by the powerful emotions emanating from each protags.

There are 2 POVs in this story: Chloe who comes into Balmoral Ladies College on scholarship in Yr 10 and Natalia, the queen of Yr 10. While Chloe struggles to adjust herself to her new environment where not only is she demographically different but where most of these girls have known each other from primary school, Natalia appears to be in control of everything around her but internally she’s ready to combust. When Yin Mitchell, a Yr 10 student at Balmoral, disappeared, Natalia’s tight control over her thoughts and feelings begins to unspool.

What hit me most in this novel is the myriad of feelings; of confusion, grief, rage, hopelessness. They were so powerful, it was nearly overwhelming. Maybe I’ve also forgotten what it’s like to be a teen though I’ve never had an issue like this (a kidnapped friend). Yet amongst this anger against an unfair world, lives keep on rolling forward and whether you’d want to or not, you are swept along. Both Chloe & Natalia along with a number of secondary characters have grown leaps & bound throughout this novel and certainly in a very good way so I guess that’s an excellent ending for the novel. I’m left with a teeny bit of unresolved disappointment but I don’t want to spoil anyone so I’ll leave that one as vague as it is.

Thank you Text Publishing via Netgalley for the e-copy of this book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

 

Review: The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

The Codebreakers by Alli Sinclair

They will dedicate their lives to their country, but no one will ever know…

A compelling story about tenacity and friendship, inspired by the real codebreaking women of Australia’s top-secret Central Bureau in WWII. For readers who love Judy Nunn and Kate Quinn.

1943, Brisbane: The war continues to devastate and the battle for the Pacific threatens Australian shores. For Ellie O’Sullivan, helping the war effort means utilising her engineering skills for Qantas as they evacuate civilians and deliver supplies to armed forces overseas. Her exceptional logic and integrity attract the attention of Central Bureau – an intelligence organisation working with England’s Bletchley Park codebreakers. But joining Central Bureau means signing a lifetime secrecy contract. Breaking it is treason.

With her country’s freedom at risk, Ellie works with a group of elite women who enter a world of volatile secrets; deciphering enemy communications to change the course of the war. Working under immense pressure, they form a close bond – yet there could be a traitor in their midst. Can the women uncover the culprit before it’s too late?

As Ellie struggles with the magnitude of the promise she’s made to her country, a wedge grows between her and those she holds dear. When the man she loves asks questions she’s forbidden to answer, how will she prevent the double life she’s leading from unravelling?

Published 3 March 2021 |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

464 pages and I read it in a single sitting. Well, practically a single sitting. I had to break to prep for dinner and be “present” at family dinner but other than that, I was basically not “present”. I met Alli for coffee when her last book, The Cinema at Starlight Creek (you should read this one too!), she was doing lots of researching for this book and I was so excited to hear about female Australian codebreakers! I’ve read a bit on Bletchley Park & some women codebreakers (also watched & loved that Netflix series, The Bletchley Circle) so this was a most anticipated release for me and I LOVED it!

‘So we cling to hope and stars?’

‘With all our might.’

There were just many things I loved about this novel. From a most inspiring protagonist to a swoony romance to the realisation of just how many women in the past have fought (and most, in silence) for us to be where we are today (and we are not done!).

The men suffer in silence, never ones to talk about the tragedies they’ve suffered. We women try to hold everyone up with our strength, until our knees shake and our arms threaten to drop the heavy load. But we do it. We carry everyone who needs support. We help the world right itself and nurture those who need it most. Women are incredible creatures; don’t you ever forget it. So, if you have the chance to do something you want, take it and don’t be apologetic. Women spend too much time bowing to society’s expectations instead of allowing ourselves to be who we truly are.

Set in 1940s Queensland, in the height of World War II and its immediate aftermath, we follow Elanora O’Sullivan as she served to end a war she did not believe in, found & lost friends and love, struggled to find her place in the world as a woman who knows she’s as good as the men around her.

The Codebreakers is a fictional tale inspired by just such intelligent, strong, and courageous women and such an empowering story! It’s ticked so many boxes and filled up my heart meter to the max. I cannot wait to see what Alli’s next book will be.

Thanks to Harlequin Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She is Australian and has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart. Alli hosts retreats for writers and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working in film on international projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth…

Published 28 February 2017 |  Publisher: Pan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  QBD  | Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Red herrings right for the very beginning! They coloured the characters’ perspectives and therefore, the readers’. I absolutely could not pick out who until it all became very obvious. The Dry is an immersive crime novel set in outback Australia. The drought was killing off the environment, animals, and businesses but was it such that it factors in this horrific murder-suicide?

Aaron Falk, a Federal Agent, ran away from this town 20 years ago under a cloud of suspicion from the death of a friend. He has returned for the funeral of another friend and found himself agreeing to “look into” things. However, the past will not leave him be… Is this present case connected to the past?

The novel is told from Falk’s perspective in the present but in between, there are paragraphs (in italics) where the past intrudes whether it be Falk’s perspective or others. As always, the past never seems to be as you remember it to be and always refused to be left behind.

What really got to me in this novel is Falk’s realisation of just what ‘drought’ really means;

“His own naivety taunted him like a flicker of madness. How could he have imagined fresh water still ran by these farms as animals lay dead in the paddocks? How could he nod dumbly as the word drought was thrown around, and never realise this river ran dry?”

I bought this paperback copy for my own reading pleasure

About the author

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man. Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Find Jane on:  goodreads  |   twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  | website

Review: Preservation by Jock Serong

Preservation by Jock Serong

Preservation, based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, sees master storyteller Jock Serong turn his talents to historical narrative.

On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features—and inhabitants—they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive.

It is Lieutenant Joshua Grayling’s task to investigate the story. He comes to realise that those fourteen deaths were contrived by one calculating mind and, as the full horror of the men’s journey emerges, he begins to wonder whether the ruthless killer poses a danger to his own family.

Published 29 October 2018 |  Publisher: Text Publishing |  RRP: AUD$22.99

Read a sample chapter from Preservation here.

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  Abbey’s  | Text Publishing

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

This is one of those books that’s been on my radar but I’ve resisted to add to my TBR because I just wasn’t sure whether it’s something I’d like. I ended up reading it to fulfil a reading challenge, of course, like so many of my reads and… I really quite enjoyed it.

Preservation has the flavour of a psychological thriller set in Colonial Australia. I’m not usually a fan of psychological thrillers – they frighten me somewhat but this novel is not quite the norm. It is inspired and/or based on a true historical event. One which I was not at all familiar with… I’ve just read the Wikipedia entry and the major plotline followed that but since not much else is known, the author really did have a lot of room to play with.

The first few chapters were a bit strange because this story is told through multiple point-of-views and as usual, this takes some getting used to. Each perspective is unique and wide-ranging (the perpetrator, the accomplice, the witness, the investigator and sidekick) so we have a very nearly well-rounded view of the case. For this novel is rather like a case study of a crime with some sprinkling of historical and personal interests to engage the reader.

Thanks to Text Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Jock Serong is the author of Quota, winner of the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction; The Rules of Backyard Cricket, shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction, finalist of the 2017 MWA Edgar Awards for Best Paperback Original, and finalist of the 2017 INDIES Adult Mystery Book of the Year; and On the Java Ridge, shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Awards.

Find Jock on:  goodreads  |  twitter

Review: Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss

Dead Man Switch (A Billie Walker Mystery #1) by Tara Moss

Bestselling author Tara Moss returns to crime fiction with a stunning new series, and a stunning new heroine. Meet PI Billie Walker – smart and sexy, with a dash of Mae West humour, she’s a hard-boiled detective with a twist.

She’s a woman in a man’s world …

Sydney, 1946. Billie Walker is living life on her own terms. World War II has left her bereaved, her photojournalist husband missing and presumed dead. Determined not to rely on any man for her future, she re-opens her late father’s detective agency.

Billie’s bread and butter is tailing cheating spouses – it’s easy, pays the bills and she has a knack for it. But her latest case, the disappearance of a young man, is not proving straightforward …

Soon Billie is up to her stylish collar in bad men, and not just the unfaithful kind – these are the murdering kind. Smugglers. Players. Gangsters. Billie and her loyal assistant must pit their wits against Sydney’s ruthless underworld and find the young man before it’s too late.

Published 21 October 2019 |  Publisher: HarperCollins – AU |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Firstly, loved the cover!

Secondly, it kinda reminded me of Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series… albeit set a couple of decades later (in comparison between first books) and in different countries BUT that is the best thing about this book, it is set in my own backyard or rather Sydney & the Blue Mountains. I recognised all the landmarks and that was just added an extra layer of sweetness to this novel.

I must admit though that it meant I did a lot of comparing between Billie Walker (the protagonist in this novel) to Maisie Dobbs and while there are a number of similarities (eg. losing their loves to war, setting up private investigation agencies, injured returned soldier as assistant, etc), there were enough differences that I could appreciate especially the fashion (!) If you love fashion in novels, in combination with mysteries, you’d love this book.

Billie Walker is working hard to push her grief aside. She’s also working hard because things are tough after the war; everyone is looking for work & are mostly strapped for cash. At the same time, she also loves her work. She loves solving puzzles and seeing justice served. She’s a character one can easily loved. It was also quite easy to love the secondary characters from her toff mother, her most reliable assistant, to the enigmatic detective inspector; Moss has created a most appealing set of characters.

The mystery itself was pretty interesting and the author has done well in connecting the dots. I do love the car chase scene and Billie’s overall capability as a private investigator. There is no bumbling about like an amateur, she’s all professional.

There were 2 things which I found a little bit weird… Instead of using words like ‘gut instinct’ or ‘intuition’, she used ‘little woman’. There was a paragraph in the book explaining why she’s chosen this phrase of ‘little woman’ but really, it just didn’t sit right with me. Maybe I’ve just got a dirty mind (?) because when we have a male protag and he refers to ‘little me’, he’s usually referring to his private parts. Can I just say that I therefore automatically applied the same meaning and had to work really hard to steer myself in the right direction? That was just too strange.

Also, there were too much ‘looking into people’s eyes’ – not staring as such but Billie seems to like to make sure she’s looking into whoever’s eyes a lot… but then again, I read an uncorrected proof so maybe there have been some changes since.

Dead Man Switch was an absolute delight to read. I loved walking through Sydney in the 40s in the high-heeled shoes of a fashionable, capable & brave young woman. If you love historical mystery set in Australia or those like Maisie Dobbs series, I’d highly recommend that you get on board with Billie Walker!

Thanks to HarperCollins AU via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Tara Moss is the bestselling author of eleven books of fiction and non-fiction published in nineteen countries, a documentary maker and host, public speaker and outspoken advocate for human rights and women’s rights. She is the writer of the popular Mak Vanderwall crime series, the Pandora English paranormal series, and the feminist memoir The Fictional Woman. She received an Edna Ryan award for making a feminist difference, inciting others to challenge the status quo. Tara currently lives in Vancouver with her husband and daughter.

Find Tara on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  |  pinterest

Review: River of Salt by Dave Warner

River of Salt by Dave Warner

1961, Philadelphia. After having to give up his brother to save his own life, hitman Blake Saunders flees the Mob and seeks refuge on the other side of the world. Two years later he has been reborn in a tiny coastal Australian town. The ghosts of the past still haunt him but otherwise Coral Shoals is
paradise. Blake surfs, and plays guitar in his own bar, the Surf Shack. But then the body of a young woman is found at a local motel, and evidence links her the Surf Shack. When Blake’s friend is arrested, and the local sergeant doesn’t want to know, it becomes clear to Blake – who knows a thing or two about murder – that the only way to protect his paradise is to
find the killer.

Published 1 April 2019 |  Publisher: Fremantle Press |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (3 / 5 stars)

So some GR friends were very excited about having access this as ‘Read Now’ on Netgalley and it was so contagious, I caught it. For some reason though, the words (in the description) ‘reborn’ and ‘ghosts’ made me expect something supernatural?! I don’t really know what my frame of mind was like at that time but my head was definitely not screwed on properly because there’s really nothing supernatural here…

Of course, incorrect expectations didn’t help because whatever I expected never happened and that can let to a disappointment. I’m afraid that even after I read other reviews, I still couldn’t get rid of my original thought. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of noir so River of Salt turned out to be just an okay read for me.

I enjoyed the first chapter a lot as it really gave form to the character of Blake Saunders. This is not a novel about the mafia though so he needed to be ‘reborn’ and what better place that some little coastal Aussie town. But even in an out-of-the-way sort of place, there is no avoiding bad things and as Blake tried to get it all sorted, things just kept escalating ’til he came across a ‘ghost’ from his past.

I love the setting (and said descriptions) and secondary characters (especially of the female variety). I’d love to live in a town like that – sounds divine – but I really would not like to live in the 60s as a woman. The mystery itself was astonishing, the climax heartpounding, and the ending, I think this could be a series 😉

Thanks to Fremantle Press via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Dave Warner is an author, musician and

screenwriter. He originally came to national
prominence with his gold album Mug’s Game, and
his band Dave Warner’s from the Suburbs. In 2017
he released his tenth album When. He has been
named a Western Australian State Living Treasure
and has been inducted into the WAMi Rock’n’Roll
of Renown.

Find Dave on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: Room for a Stranger by Melanie Cheng

Room for a Stranger by Melanie Cheng

By the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction, 2018.

Since her sister died, Meg has been on her own. She doesn’t mind, not really—not with Atticus, her African grey parrot, to keep her company—but after her house is broken into by a knife-wielding intruder, she decides it might be good to have some company after all.

Andy’s father has lost his job, and his parents’ savings are barely enough to cover his tuition. If he wants to graduate, he’ll have to give up his student flat and find a homeshare. Living with an elderly Australian woman is harder than he’d expected, though, and soon he’s struggling with more than his studies.

Published 7 May 2019 |  Publisher: Text Publishing |  RRP: AUD$29.99

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I went to see the author’s panel at Sydney Writer’s Festival this year and Christos Tsiolkas, who was facilitating, praised this novel for its quiet splendour (I can’t quite remember the exact phrase he used but it’s something along that line) and I couldn’t agree more! This little unassuming novel was so relatable; it’s easy for me to relate to Andy as I was myself an overseas student but I also found myself to be able to relate to Meg, an older Australian lady.

In Room for a Stranger, we have two seemingly very different people come together and found, in the end, that they were troubled with what is essentially the same thing even if troubles came in different forms. It is very clear that the author knows her subjects well as she drew from her own personal experiences as an “overseas student” and a GP to many older patients.

While the book dealt with our protagonists going about their daily lives: Andy with his parental expectations of good results and Meg with her loneliness, it also did not shy from the hard reality of life: sickness, health, unhappy marriages, and racism (one particularly shocking scene where even I as a reader felt the shame of it and I’ve had my share of scenes…).

A wonderful novel about life – no matter who you are or where you are in life, it is always possible to connect with the stranger next to you.

Thanks to Text Publishing for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

I am a writer, mum and general practitioner from Melbourne, Australia. I have been published in print and online. My writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, Overland, Griffith REVIEW, Sleepers Almanac, The Bridport Prize Anthology, Lascaux Review, Visible Ink, Peril, The Victorian Writer and Seizure. My short story collection, Australia Day, won the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Unpublished Manuscript and went on to win the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction. My latest book is the novel, Room for a Stranger. If Saul Bellow is right and “a writer is a reader moved to emulation” then I am moved by authors like Richard Yates, Alice Munro, Haruki Murakami and Christos Tsiolkas.

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