Category Archives: Australia

Review: The Buried Ark by James Bradley

The Buried Ark (The Change #2) by James Bradley

Callie risked everything to get her little sister Gracie to the safety of the Zone. But Matt, the boy she loves, has been killed by Quarantine and Gracie has been absorbed into the Change.

Now Callie must learn to survive in the alien landscape of the Zone, a place where the Change is everywhere, and nothing is what it seems. That is, until she stumbles on a secret from her past that may hold the key to defeating the Change.

Hunted and alone, she finds refuge in the most unexpected of places. Only to find she is in more danger than ever.

Published 29 May 2018 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$14.99

My Blurb (4 stars)

Please note this review is for the second book of the trilogy and may contain spoilers. Here is a link if you’d like to check out my review of the first book: The Silent Invasion

If you’ve read book 1, you know how it ended and I’m sure you were just as frustrated as I was that we had to wait a full year to know what happens next. Thankfully, this book picked up immediately after that ending and what a touching scene it was….

Of course, nothing is ever as it seems! Callie, heartbroken & missing Matt & Gracie, had to figure out how she was going to survive in a place where she stood out as foreign; she is the ‘alien’, the one who does not belong. Strangely, despite her frequent contact with the changes, she remains herself. Is there a way to save the world from being changed?

I must confess to being rather sad as I missed the dynamics of Callie, Matt, & Gracie. In this second instalment of the trilogy, Without giving away too much, I did like a few of secondary characters introduced as her ‘sidekicks’. They were an interesting bunch but I just didn’t feel as connected to them as I did with Matt & Gracie though this could be that these new characters were not there with Callie throughout the whole book like Matt & Gracie did in The Silent Invasion.

The Buried Ark did not disappoint. It is a thrilling read and each time you’d think things are just getting better, they fell apart even more disastrously. James Bradley had aimed for an even bigger explosion to end book 2 and my world, didn’t he just blow the world apart?!

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. 

About the author

James Bradley was born in 1967. He is the author of three novels, Wrack, The Deep Field and his most recent, The Resurrectionist; a book of poetry, Paper Nautilus; and the editor of Blur, a collection of stories by young Australian writers. He is a well-respected critic and regularly reviews for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. He lives in Sydney with his partner, novelist Mardi McConnochie.

Find James on:  goodreads  |  website  | twitter

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Review: Dyschronia by Jennifer Mills


Dyschronia
by Jennifer Mills

An electrifying novel about an oracle. A small town. And the end of the world as we know it…

One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared. One among them has been plagued by troubling visions of this cataclysm for years. Is she a prophet? Does she have a disorder that skews her perception of time? Or is she a gifted and compulsive liar?

Oscillating between the future and the past, Dyschronia is a novel that tantalises and dazzles, as one woman’s pescient nightmares become entangled with her town’s uncertain fate. Blazing with questions of consciousness, trust, and destiny, this is a wildly imaginative and extraordinary novel from award-winning author Jennifer Mills.

My Blurb

Baffled.

Hence my star rating of 2 probably doesn’t worth much. I loved the cover and I was intrigued by the blurb, “One morning, the residents of a small coastal town somewhere in Australia wake to discover the sea has disappeared.” I, therefore, expected some sort of post-apocalyptic sort of novel and while it was in a way ‘post-apocalyptic’, it wasn’t… not really.

I struggled by the time shifts; I can’t even tell you how many there were supposed to be… There were the future (in visions?), the present, and the past; I know these for certain but there were time strands for each time anyway and there’s no particular warning, they can change within a chapter, a space or an asterix to indicate end of a section does not particularly help. Thankfully, there were only 2 perspectives: Sam’s (though she’s the one having visions so that didn’t help in anyway) and the town people’s (using the royal ‘We’).

I think I understood that the book’s themes revolve around the environment, climate, and corporate scams that in the end, only the plebeians suffer the consequences. I’m just not sure whether getting your point across despite the baffled reader is enough. I do have now an appreciation of the cuttlefish… not enough not to eat them (not that I eat them all the time). I am just so sorry that I could not love the book!

Source: I borrowed this book from my local library

About the author

Jennifer Mills is the author of the novels Gone (UQP, 2011) and The Diamond Anchor (UQP, 2009) and a collection of short stories, The Rest is Weight (UQP, 2012). The Rest is Weight. Mills’ fiction, non-fiction and poetry have been widely published, appearing in Meanjin, Hecate, Overland, Heat, Island, the Lifted Brow, the Griffith Review, Best Australian Stories, New Australian Stories, and the Review of Australian Fiction, as well as being broadcast, recorded and performed from Adelaide to Berlin. She is a regular writer for Overland literary journal and has contributed criticism to the Sydney Morning Herald, the Wheeler Centre, and the Sydney Review of Books. She is currently the fiction editor at Overland.

Find her on: goodreads  |  website  |  twitter

 

Review: If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

If I Tell You by Alicia Tuckerman

‘The second our eyes lock in the dark is all the time I need to know that whatever happens next, my life will never be the same.’

Life and love don’t wait until you’re ready, but what if finding yourself means losing everything you’ve ever known?

Seventeen-year-old Alex Summers lives with a secret and the constant fear someone will find out. But when a new family moves to town, they bring with them their teenage daughter Phoenix Stone. When Alex falls for Phoenix, there is no warning. In a small town with small minds, girls don’t go out with other girls, even if they want to.

In fear there is bravery – you can either cling to the edge or have the courage to jump. But what do you do when you’re left spiralling through the freefall?

This is a heart-wrenching story of love in an unloving Australian landscape.

My Blurb (5 stars)

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read many LGBT books though not because I purposely avoid them but more that they’re not particularly books I usually come across without having to research or specifically look for. I’ve done a lot of reading challenges so it’s come up a few times and I would usually have to really look for them. In addition, If I Tell You, is geared towards young adult… there are even less LGBT/YA books.

Alex Summers is an easily likeable character. She has dreams and wishes for her wedding day though there is one particular details which would differ from what her mother would’ve dreamed or planned. This is a secret Alex has kept from everyone. When Phoenix Stone arrived in town though, she was a temptation Alex cannot resist.

If I Tell You is told solely from Alex’s perspective and from it, I must say that it’s a pretty UN-likeable town (and I’m being nice here!) despite her supportive friends (I adore Lin!). I think Lin is the bright shining star in this book for me and that’s because I could identify with her better being Asian in ancestry. Which makes me think that Alex may be the bright shining star for those who have been and/or are experiencing the same sort of situation. How can you be happy when you can’t be yourself?

I was caught by story from the very first sentence. And I just couldn’t put the book down. I love that it’s very Aussie in setting & feel though I don’t know if I actually want to visit this town; it’s more of a homey sort of feeling that I’m sure we can all identify with. I cannot condone the behaviours of some of the people especially the mother. As a mother of 2 young children, I feel conflicted; I wanted to know further the reason for her reaction as I can think of dozens!

Writing this review is very hard for me. I feel like I am also treading a fine line as I may accidentally have written something which sounded okay to me in my head but due to missing the nuances of spoken words, they may be misconstrued. So, I’m just going to wrap it up by saying explicitly that I loved this book for its potential in the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the wider audience. I loved this book for all the feels; the giddiness of first love to the heartbreak of loss. If I Tell You is a compelling coming-of-age tale and all of you should jump into it.

Thanks to Pantera Press for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

 

Alicia Tuckerman is a driving force for young LGBT voices within Australia. Raised in rural NSW before she left home at the age of sixteen, she accepted a position to study at the Hunter School of Performing Arts.

Described as having an overactive imagination as a child, she recalls writing stories her entire life. Alicia attributes surviving her teenage years to the comfort, release and escape writing offered and she hopes to inspire the next generation of readers and writers to embrace their true passions.

Alicia was inspired to write If I Tell You after finding a lack of YA novels featuring two central lesbian characters. She draws on her life experiences to explore the joys, triumphs and cruelties of modern day adolescence and considers there is no fantasy world she could create that is more terrifyingly beautiful than the one we’re expected to live in.

Alicia is a Law Clerk and now lives in the Swan Valley region of Perth with her wife and two children, where she does most of her writing in the small hours before the kids wake up, or on her daily commute to the office!

Find Alicia on: goodreads  |  instagram  | twitter  |  facebook

Review: The Three of Us by Kim Lock

The Three of Us by Kim Lock

A life lived in the shadows. A love that should never have been hidden.

In the small town of Gawler, South Australia, the tang of cut grass and eucalyptus mingles on the warm air. The neat houses perched under the big gum trees on Church Street have been home to many over the years. Years of sprinklers stuttering over clipped lawns, children playing behind low brick walls. Family barbecues. Gossipy neighbours. Arguments. Accidents. Births, deaths, marriages. This ordinary street has seen it all.

Until the arrival of newlyweds Thomas and Elsie Mullet. And when one day Elsie spies a face in the window of the silent house next door, nothing will ever be ordinary again…

In Kim Lock’s third novel of what really goes on behind closed doors, she weaves the tale of three people with one big secret; a story of fifty years of friendship, betrayal, loss and laughter in a heartwarming depiction of love against the odds.

My Blurb (5 stars)

The one sure thing I know I’ll come across in this novel is a female character giving birth. Well, okay, maybe I don’t actually know for sure but that’s 3 out of 3! It’s not the focus of this particular novel but it’s there… I remember my reading experience of Lock’s novel (Peace, Love, and Khaki Socks) and I could never forget that birthing scene and it will always forever colour my view of Kim Lock’s novels. She’s just gone from strength to strength!

The Three of Us opens with Thomas Mullet, a 70+ year old man, at his first appointment with a counselor. He’s there because he’s running out of time and needed guidance on what to do before time’s up. And within 5 pages, the first bomb was dropped. And it was a pretty big one…

There isn’t much I could say about the book without giving hints which may spoil it for you. Whatever your first expectation is… that’s not it. What I can say, however, was that it’s a love story; there is heartbreak and there is happiness. This book spans about 50 years of these characters’ lives. It began in the 60s when Thomas & Elsie just begun their lives as husband & wife. When brides are to give up their fulfilling jobs and maintain an efficient sparkling household. It ended in more recent times when wives and/or mothers are expected to work full time and maintain an efficient sparkling household. But still… in the span of half a century, society has not change all that much

‘Society is more tolerant?’

Thomas gave a wry laugh. ‘We like to think so, don’t we? But I reckon it’s just different versions of the same intolerance. There’s still criticism – horrible things still happen because of narrow minds.’

It was a very uncomfortable read for the first third of the book. Mainly because I have an aversion towards a certain trope and I was very anxious for it not to be employed here. By the end of the first third, the second bomb detonated. A little relief with the way the plot is taking but it was still a rather uncomfortable read. Uncomfortable because we do not speak of these things; we do not expect it in our mundane daily life (as an aside, I actually do know one household and… whatever works for them to be happy, you know).

This is the best of Kim Lock to date even though I still preferred her first work (being lighter in mood). However, The Three of Us is a novel we currently need in the world. The world does not change by itself. We change it. And sometimes, we need a prompt, a push, a nudge, a shove, to change it. In The Three of Us, you will find a love story like no other. I would highly recommend it for a bookclub read. I can guarantee you a very lively discussion! Some wine and chocolates are warranted to chill things a little.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Kim Lock was born in 1981. She is the author of two previous novels Like I can Love and Peace, Love and Khaki Socks. Her non-fiction has appeared in the Guardian, Daily Life, and the Sydney Morning Herald onlineShe lives in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, with her partner and their children, a dog and a couple of cats.

Find Kim on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Come back tomorrow for Q&A with Kim! 😀

Review: Redemption Point by Candice Fox

Redemption Point (Crimson Lake #2) by Candice Fox

#1 New York Times bestselling author Candice Fox delivers a compulsive new crime thriller, which sees Ted Conkaffey once again teaming up with an unlikely partner – this time the father of the girl he was accused of abducting . . .

When former police detective Ted Conkaffey was wrongly accused of abducting thirteen-year-old Claire Bingley, he hoped the Queensland rainforest town of Crimson Lake would be a good place to disappear. But nowhere is safe from Claire’s devastated father.

Dale Bingley has a brutal revenge plan all worked out  and if Ted doesn’t help find the real abductor, he’ll be its first casualty.

Meanwhile, in a dark roadside hovel called the Barking Frog Inn, the bodies of two young bartenders lie on the beer-sodden floor. It’s Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney’s first homicide investigation – complicated by the arrival of private detective Amanda Pharrell to ‘assist’ on the case. Amanda’s conviction for murder a decade ago has left her with some odd behavioural traits, top-to-toe tatts – and a keen eye for killers.

For Ted and Amanda, the hunt for the truth will draw them into a violent dance with evil. Redemption is certainly on the cards – but it may well cost them their lives . . .

‘Definitely a writer to watch’ Harlan Coben

‘A bright new star of crime fiction’ James Patterson

My Blurb (5 stars)

Wishes do come true! Well… sort of! I wanted more of Ted & Amanda and I also wanted to hear a bit of from Amanda (my wish was in my review for the first book, Crimson Lake, so if you’re reading this, Candice, my thanks x). Redemption Point gave me both though Amanda Pharrell is still just as excruciatingly elusive. Excruciating in the sense that I just couldn’t see how she thinks but she’s just as entertaining and frustrating as ever!

How do you solve a problem like Amanda?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you find a word that means Amanda?
A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!

In this book, Ted and Amanda spent quite a lot of time on their own so it made sense to have multiple perspectives even though that mean we barely see them interact however there were a couple other perspectives and one of which gave me the willies. It was in the form of diary entries and was, therefore, very intimate and confessional. I was very uncomfortable with this, at the beginning, due to the character’s thoughts but halfway through I could just appreciate the additional thrills and suspense this perspective add to the book.

Ted, despite his best effort to bury himself, was forced to face up to the Claire Bingley’s abduction that he was wrongly accused for. He had resisted looking into the matter but he could no longer shy away. A confrontation with Claire’s father, Dale, combined with Ted’s own generous heart may just come to end the matter once for all… but for whom?

Amanda mostly had to investigate the murders at Barking Frog Inn (don’t you just love this name?!) without Ted though that did not mean she didn’t have any assistance. In the form of Detective Inspector Pip Sweeney who carried her own dark shameful secret. Ted may be missing in action but Amanda & Pip were just as on point. And that ending! Gah! *gagging myself from spoiling everything!*

Aside from amazing characters, I love the vivid descriptions in this novel. It’s one thing to have a vivid imagination but to be able to write them down without boring your reader, that’s skill. I feel and ‘see’ the humid lush isolated Queensland town. I love to live there in my imagination but not IRL lol

Between the houses on the other side of the creek lay thick tangles of rainforest, impenetrable by the eye, walls of crossing vines and elephant ear leaves wet and dripping…

Redemption Point is an amazingly crafted crime thriller. Tension was taut right from the very beginning and it just gets tighter; so strung up that by ending you don’t know whether to cry from heartbreak or relief. These poor characters get no break whatsoever especially Ted. And can I get back to that ending?! Just spectacular… I need book 3 (I’m hoping there is one…).

Thanks to Penguin Books Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Hades, Candice Fox’s first novel, won the Ned Kelly Award for best debut in 2014 from the Australian Crime Writers Association. The sequel, Eden, won the Ned Kelly Award for best crime novel in 2015, making Candice only the second author to win these accolades back to back. Her third novel, Fall, was shortlisted for the 2016 Ned Kelly and Davitt awards. She is also the author of the bestselling Crimson Lake, which introduces a new series character, Ted Conkaffey.

In 2015 Candice began collaborating with James Patterson. Their first novel together, Never Never, set in the vast Australian outback, was a huge bestseller in Australia and went straight to number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in the US and also to the top of the charts in the UK. Its sequel, Fifty Fifty, was released in August 2017 and she is currently working on their third collaboration. They have also co-written a prequel novella, Black & Blue, as part of the James Patterson BookShots series.

Bankstown born and bred, Candice lives in Sydney.

Find Candice on: goodreads  |  website  | twitter  |  facebook

Blog Tour: The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

The Harper Effect by Taryn Bashford

Harper Hunter doesn’t know how it came to this.

Her tennis dreams are collapsing: her coach says she doesn’t have what it takes to make it in the world of professional tennis.

Her new doubles partner is moody, mysterious and angry at the world. What is he hiding?

She is in love with Jacob, but he is her sister’s boyfriend. Or, he was. Harper could never betray Aria with Jacob … could she?

As Harper’s heart and dreams pull her in different directions, she has to figure out exactly what she wants. And just how hard she’s willing to fight to get it.

My Blurb

Strictly from the book’s description, I wouldn’t have picked up the book as I usually would avoid a love triangle involving sisters and/or best friends. However, when an invite for blog tour arrived, I couldn’t resist. I had my doubts about the book but maybe because of a lower expectation that I found myself actually enjoying the read.

In the first instance, Aria and Jacob had broken up at the beginning of the book. I’m still uncomfortable with the competing feelings however a couple of things eased my conflicted thoughts: Harper knew what’s right or wrong really but she’s struggling to do the right thing (haven’t we all been there?!) and I do not like Jacob. These helped me to settle comfortably into the story.

Despite Harper’s choices, I liked her a lot. Sure, she’s in a star-child bubble but at least she’s not a ‘tennis brat’. She worked hard for her dreams. She’s quite lucky actually with her parents and coach who will rebuke her when she’s wrong, nudge her to the right direction and love her for who she is. And Colt! Hhhmmm… what can I say? Mysterious. Hot. Broody. Talented. Even romantic. *sighs*

Even adults get confused with their feelings some times so really, Harper is allowed to be confused. Adults struggle to do the ‘right’ things too so Harper is allowed to struggle with doing the right things. Adults also make mistakes so Harper must be allowed to make her own mistakes and learn from them. I was cheering Harper from the stands.

As an adult, I’m just reminded of just how hard life is some times especially when you’re in the cusps of adulthood. I think this was a lovely novel; I have definitely enjoyed the few hours I spent reading it. I don’t follow tennis at all but it was an easy one to read, language and plot wise. It was a smooth read so don’t expect any twist. It’ll make a fine beach read or maybe um… at the tennis? lol ;p

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review. I have restricted my review to the book and my personal experience in the reading of it. Whilst I have seen what’s going on social media; I have made a commitment (blog tour) to the publisher.

You can, by following this link, read an Excerpt

About the author

Taryn lives the typical writer’s life with a supportive husband, teen children, and characters from her latest book insisting they help make dinner. Taryn has been an English Literature Honours student, a media Manager and a CEO of an internet company, but she plans to write inspiring, engaging novels until the day she can no longer type. Taryn is from a family of elite athletes, musicians and academics and is fascinated by teens that surpass the norm in their field.

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

Review: Haxby’s Circus

Haxby’s Circus by Katharine Susannah Prichard

Run away to the circus with this book by award-winning Australian novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard.

A world of wandering mushroom tents, spawning on bare paddocks beside some small town and then off again … places that smelt of milk and wheat, where the farmer people gave you milk and apples, or melons; you got fresh water to drink and a bath sometimes. A dirty, strenuous world. Cruel, courageous, a hard, hungry world for all the glitter and flare of its laughter; but a good world, her world.

Welcome to Haxby’s Circus – the lightest, brightest little show on earth. From Bendigo to Narrabri, travelling the long and dusty roads between harvest fields, the Haxby family and their troupe – acrobats, contortionists, wirewalkers, clowns and wild beasts – perform under the glaring lights of the big top. But away from the spotlight and superficial glamour of the circus the real, and sometimes tragic, lives of the performers are exposed: their hopes and dreams, successes and failures, the drudgery of life on the road.

Proprietor Dan Haxby lives by the maxim ‘the show must go on’, even when his daughter Gina, the bareback rider, has a dreadful accident. Gina may never ride again, but, with some advice from circus dwarf Rocca, who shows her how to transform her liability into art, she flourishes and discovers a courageous spirit within.

My Blurb (3.5 stars)

An impulse buy based on:
1. eye-catching cover: PINK!
2. I love anything CIRCUS related
3. Sale bin
4. Aussie classics

Did it live up to expectations? Yes and No… it’s a very realistic tale of circus life from the point of view of a woman. I love the glamourous face of a circus. Ever since I read Enid Blyton’s Circus series, I’ve always been enamoured (and a bit jealous) of the adventures of circus folks. This novel, however, does not spare you the drudgery and hard work of that life. And in that way, it’s a realistic story but it also made the novel hard to bear as sometimes the author would list of what needs doing etc. I found this last bit a little boring.

Gina Haxby has just bloomed into womanhood with the admiration of the crowd when she fell and broke her back. She will never again ride her beautiful horses nor perform any acrobatic feats. While her back is hunched, she’s lucky to still be alive and able to walk though it didn’t feel like that to her. She then found a reason to live; to protect her weak baby brother from her father’s expectations. Once again, tragedy struck and she decided not to stay with the circus but took her mother and new baby sister away.

She could not stay away forever, however, as fate brought them all back together. This time, however, she is a woman of strength and can stand on her own. Her little sister is also a strong character of her own and together, they will bring the circus back to its brightest.

I didn’t pay that much attention to the blurb at the back of the book before I started reading so I really was surprised when the first tragedy struck (oops!). I was really heartbroken for Gina as she’s such a lovable character but of course, steel needs tempering and that’s what’s happened. It wasn’t an easy road for Gina but she’s traversed it with help from her loved ones and flourished despite all that life dealt her.

I’ve read one other of this author’s work, Coonardo, and it was such a hard book to read (nature of topic). Haxby’s Circus was also a bit of a struggle as it was such a hard life that I barely felt the excitement of the circus. Plus the way she did lists became annoying and dreary after the first couple of times. Still, I did like the characters and the descriptions of life in Australia in those days.

About the author

Katharine Susannah Prichard was born in Levuka, Fiji in 1883, and spent her childhood in Launceston, Tasmania, before moving to Melbourne, where she won a scholarship to South Melbourne College. Her father, Tom Prichard, was editor of the Melbourne Sun newspaper. She worked as a governess and journalist in Victoria then travelled to England in 1908. Her first novel, The Pioneers (1915), won the Hodder & Stoughton All Empire Literature Prize. After her return to Australia, the romance Windlestraws and her first novel of a mining community, Black Opal were published.

Prichard moved with her husband, war hero Hugo “Jim” Throssell, VC, to Greenmount, Western Australia, in 1920 and lived at 11 Old York Road for much of the rest of her life. She wrote most of her novels and stories in a self-contained weatherboard workroom near the house. In her personal life she always referred to herself as Mrs Hugo Throssell. She had one son, Ric Throssell, later a diplomat and writer.