Tag Archives: #aww2022

All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien -a review

All Thats Left UnsaidAll That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

There were a dozen witnesses to Denny Tran’s brutal murder in a busy Sydney restaurant. So how come no one saw anything?

‘Just let him go.’ Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation. That night in 1996, Denny – optimistic, guileless, brilliant Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in Cabramatta, a Sydney suburb facing violent crime, an indifferent police force, and the worst heroin epidemic in Australian history.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case: several people were at Lucky 8 restaurant when Denny died, but each of the bystanders claim to have seen nothing.

As an antidote to grief and guilt, Ky is determined to track down the witnesses herself. With each encounter, she peels away another layer of the place that shaped her and Denny,exposing the trauma and seeds of violence that were planted well before that fateful celebration dinner: by colonialism, by the war in Vietnam,and by the choices they’ve all made to survive.

Tracey Lien’s extraordinary debut pulls apart the intricate bonds of friendship, family, culture and community that produced a devastating crime. All That’s Left Unsaid is both a study of the effects of inherited trauma and social discrimination, and a compulsively readable literary thriller that expertly holds the reader in its grip until the final page.

Published 30 August 2022  |  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Ky didn’t allow her mother to have feelings, because to grant her these would mean acknowledging that she was a person who had desires and dreams beyond what Ky saw. It was easier to imagine her as a caricature, as an immigrant Cabramatta parent, whose only desire was for her children to become doctors and lawyers (or ideally both), whose only means of expressing love to them was through cooking their meals, washing their clothes, and criticizing them into being better people.

My background isn’t Vietnamese nor refugee however I’m married into one and hence, this book piqued my interest. In the 90s, I was in my teens and we didn’t live anywhere near Cabramatta though we heard stories, of course. Despite Cabramatta not being my own stomping ground and my childhood, as sheltered as it was, there were many moments in the book that were just so identifiable in many different ways.

Ky is the main protagonist whom readers follow as she tried to find out how and why her brother was murdered. However, at least half of the novel is told from and of other people involved in this mystery. So much so that, near the end of the book, I feel that the structure of this novel is like a jigsaw puzzle where each piece reflects a different facet of this community and together, they form a full picture, albeit with cracks.

All That’s Left Unsaid is a novel of loss, of grief, of burdens we were given and picked up throughout our lives. Author’s prose is concise and phrases are polished to a shine; it is sharp as papercut. Please do yourself a kindness and read this book.

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

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  instagram

The Happiest Little Town by Barbara Hannay -a review

The Happiest Little TownThe Happiest Little Town by Barbara Hannay

Happiness has a way of catching up with you, even when you’ve given up trying to find it.

Tilly doesn’t believe she can ever be happy again

Fourteen-year-old Tilly’s world is torn apart when her single mother dies suddenly and she is sent a million miles from everything she has ever known to a small country town and a guardian who’s a total stranger.

Kate is sure she will be happy just as soon as she achieves her dream

In the picturesque mountains of Far North Queensland, Kate is trying to move on from a failed marriage by renovating a van and making plans for an exciting travel escape. The fresh start she so desperately craves is within reach when an unexpected responsibility lands on her doorstep.

Olivia thinks she’s found ‘happy enough’ until an accident changes everything

Ageing former celebrity actress Olivia is used to winning all the best roles in her local theatre group, but when she’s injured while making a grand stage exit, she is relegated to the wings. Now she’s determined that she won’t bow out quietly and be left alone with the demons of her past.

When these lost souls come together under the roof of the Burralea Amateur Theatre group, the countdown to opening night has already begun. Engaging with a diverse cast of colourful characters, the three generations of women find unlikely friendship – and more than one welcome surprise.

From the bestselling author of The Garden of Hopes and Dreams comes a heartwarming and uplifting story about the joys of new beginnings.

Published 2 August 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

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

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

Isn’t it just the cutest book cover!? And that title, I feel that I’m guaranteed an easy, light-hearted, and uplifting read which my mood tells me I need these days. It did not disappoint; The Happiest Little Town certainly made me happy.

I find it always touching when 3 generations of women are brought together. I love to see the effect they have on each other. In this novel, the mix of Olivia’s wisdom, Kate’s generosity, and Tilly’s grief made a lovely cocktail of lasting friendship. I am in Kate’s age group so while I was rather frustrated with some of Tilly’s decisions and actions, they are rather understandable considering her loss. I am in awe of Kate’s heart and her generosity… it’s not Tilly’s fault that she is who she is but golly, Kate was just so very kind.

While the story revolves our 3 main protagonists above. There were bits and pieces about other residents of this town that made it The Happiest Little Town. They may not be that relevant to the plot as such but they do make the town more 3-dimensional. And what’s a town without its people?

The Happiest Little Town‘s residents may not be happy aaallll the time as each of them have either had difficult pasts or are still struggling to come to terms with those pasts. However, they do know to pick themselves back up and let’s just say it’s a happy ending all around. Such a comfort read and truly, I just want to give this book a cuddle – that’s how much I enjoyed it.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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