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Trouble: Zero to the Bone

TBYL Reviewer Adam had a pretty unusual reaction to this very time-stamped genre piece. Here’s what Adam made of David Whish-Wilson’s Zero at the Bone (Penguin).
 
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Perth. The year is 1979. You don’t get much for a dime these days but then what else is new? Then she walked into my life, blonde flowing hair, that mysterious, melt a man with a wink look and I knew I was in trouble. Bloody dames…
 
zero at the boneWell, the year was 1979 and the city was Perth, but the rest of it I’ll explain later…
 
Max Henderson is a Geologist with a wife, property and a future, so his suicide comes as a shock, to no one more than his wife, who doesn’t buy it. Jennifer Henderson is an intelligent woman grieving for her partner and hung up on that fateful question… Why?
 
Enter detective Frank Swann, hired by Mrs Henderson to investigate the reasons behind Max’s suicide. Swann’s first enquiries lead him to a recent report on a mining site in outback Western Australia that seems to throw up more questions than Frank can think to ask. The primary one being – how did Max find himself involved in the various members of Perth’s underworld, the purported owners of the drill site?
 
The further Swann is drawn in, the more trouble rears its head from all sides, none more than from the direction of his former colleagues, the extremely questionable vermin that currently inhabit the Perth Police Force.
 
The story comes to a fantastic conclusion when Frank realises that nothing was ever what it seemed and no matter how hard you try, you can’t fight money!
 
Let me say – at no point during the reading of this book, did it really grab me. Interestingly though upon review, I realised I actually loved it! The concept of corruption that goes undiscovered and undefeated, and criminals that are not just hiding but also running things, creates an exciting read. The story concluded in a very satisfactory manner, but just not an expected one.
 
The one thing that kept drawing me out of the story was the style in which it was written. It felt less like a novel and more like the script of a 1940’s Bogart detective movie. Every second paragraph left you expecting a reference to a Maltese Falcon or a dame that walked into his life. If that wasn’t distracting enough, there were times where I really felt like I was missing something. David Whish-Wilson obviously grew up in Perth in the 70’s, which served him well in writing something familiar to the era, but unless you grew up there too, there are many references which may sail right over your head.
 
Still, if you can get past the writing style and the constant 70’s pub slang, David Whish-Wilson can tell a story. One I can honestly say I really enjoyed… after a while.
 
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Find out more about Zero at the Bone by David Whish-Wilson on the Penguin website here… 

Longing: The Next Time You See Me

Reviewer Carolyn really seems to have been taken in by the characters of Holly Goddard Jones’ The Next Time You See Me (Allen and Unwin) and reading her review, I can see why…

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Loneliness and a longing to escape are the emotions which are evoked when I think about Holly Goddard Jones’ captivating first novel The Next Time You See Me.  Set in small town America, this story centres on a mystery that links six very lonely individuals. Its intricacies, revealed as I read, kept me wondering throughout this haunting novel.

the next time you see meSusanna Mitchell is a young mother and the local middle school English teacher.  She leads a very mundane life and feels stuck in place, in the town she grew up in, spending all of her time pleasing others.  In contrast, her sister Ronnie appears to be the exact opposite, leading a carefree life, albeit much to the distaste of the town and in turn making her the topic of frequent gossip.  When Ronnie suddenly disappears, Susanna suddenly realises her state and how stuck she is in her life and she becomes focussed on finding her sister. Everyone in their small town thinks poorly of Ronnie and it seems that only Susanna cares about where she has gone.

Susanna is only in her twenties and has a big challenge ahead of her if she is to solve the mystery.

One of Susanna’s students is Emily Houchens, a thirteen year old who has a wild imagination and is misunderstood by her family and bullied by her peers.  Early in the novel Emily apparently finds the body of a young woman lying in the woods and she becomes excited by this discovery. Emily is thrilled about having a real life secret which appears similar to the literary characters in her English class stories.

The story takes place in October when the beginnings of Winter are setting in, in a town, sodden with secrets and drudgery. That is until a shocking event occurs, one that rarely comes by a place as insignificant as this one.  The main characters are isolated individuals and are suddenly connected to each other and forced to make decisions. Some make good choices and change their lives, others don’t.  The surroundings and the personal struggles endured by each character sets a solemn tone throughout the story but it was what I liked best about it.

The Next Time You See Me kept me guessing until the very end.  I wonder if others who read this, agree or will it be obvious? I truly liked the main characters and sympathised with them through their stories and their solitude.  It is easy to be distracted when it came to speculating the truth of what happened on that fateful night and thinking now, I prefer my own assumptions.

This book may sound quite depressing but the sad mystery with themes of heartache and loss drew me in and kept me interested.  There are times of happiness for some of the characters and it gave me hope that the decent people of this book can leave their lonely existences behind and start afresh with love and companionship.  The strength behind this book is its characters and how carefully Goddard Jones constructed them.  I was left, at the end, thinking about this story for days and still now, the characters are real to me.

“In her Camaro, on the road, with the window down and freezing air blowing in and her left hand making little waves as she raced along, she could be herself, finally.  She would rather be leaving than coming, driving than arriving; she lived better in the in-between than she ever had sitting still.  Which is why she didn’t belong in any photograph. She had looked through the camera’s lens and seen not her family but her own absence, and it had seemed to her for a moment that she was a ghost, that she didn’t really exist and wouldn’t be missed.”

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To find out more about Holly Goddard Jones’ The Next Time You See Me visit the Allen & Unwin website here…

 

 

Changes: Through the Farm Gate

It took reviewer Jennie a little time to come around to Angela Goode’s Through the Farm Gate (Allen and Unwin) but by the end of this tale, this city-girl reader came to understand why the telling of this famer’s wife was so worth telling. Here’s more on Angela’s story…

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The saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” really hit home for me when reading this book, although it wasn’t so much the cover – showing the lovely, smiling face of the author and cows happily grazing in the foreground of a lush countryside, it was the title. Mainly the tagline; “A Life on the Land.”

through the farm gateMy first thought was that this was not a book I would buy or read. The blurb didn’t help. What did I, a city girl, want to know about country land prices, livestock prices and ruined crops?

With this attitude foremost in my mind, I straggled my way unenthusiastically through the first 100 pages. This book is Angela Goode’s story. A story of a city girl marrying a country man and uprooting her life to the farm.

Angela, in the 1970’s, is working as a journalist at Adelaide’s The Advertiser. Aged 30, she has lived a career and experience-driven life. This has included 3 months mustering buffalo in the Northern Territory, as a State administrator of Youth Centres around South Australia, and a variety of of jobs in journalism. Freelance writing, working as a researcher for This Day Tonight on the ABC and freelancing for ABC radio’s South Australian Country Hour.

I started to get a little interested. Angela’s life seems anchored to the city, despite the occasionally rural adventure. Maybe I could find common ground with this storyteller. I became curious as to how Angela could go from her life in her 30s, to a life on the land.

Interestingly, Angela has both farming experience and family heritage, perhaps going someone to explaining her transition. Her country genes hail from a mottled collection of rural ancestors from Germany, Wiltshire and Ireland. Her mother took Angela and her three siblings to the country every school holiday. Always to a working farm where she rode her horse, learnt to drive tractors, experienced the slaughtering of sheep and basically learning about life on the land.

This love of the land stays with Angela, and when she meets Charlie, the manager of a 10,000 acre sheep & cattle property, at a friend’s dinner party in 1979, her life changes forever.

After a rough start – a few successful dates followed by Angela being “stood up” at a New Years Eve party, then a year of ignoring his calls and throwing herself into work – Angela and Charlie are engaged and married within a short period. Charlie is a widower and has two young daughters, so city girl Angela becomes a mother and a farmer’s wife all at once.

To Angela’s credit she throws herself fully into every aspect of her new husband’s life cooking for the farm hands, joining the community life, asking questions and learning farming tasks daily and mothering Charlie’s two girls. There are adventures and misadventures. Angela’s city dog and horse love their new life and adapt quickly. Angela’s garrulous nature & natural curiosity and tendency to question is capable of rubbing some of her country neighbours up the wrong way.

In many ways the farm world is very much a man’s world with the wife a silent, yet very active partner. Even in the 1980’s, her role is expected to be a domestic one. Cooking, cleaning, some farm chores, but basically looking after the man of the house & raising the family. It can also be a very isolating life with social functions occasional only and nearest neighbours often many kilometres away.

Angela continues to contribute a regular article to The Adelaide Advertiser, regaling the readers with stories of her new country life, and it is this engaging storytelling that had me captivated by about two-thirds of the way through the book. I was really going along for the ride.

As situations change, such as Nyroca, the property Charlie manages being sold by the owner, Charlie and Angela take on new farming opportunities. Their family grows, they experience major highs and lows as Charlie dreams big with innovative breeding and farming ideas and the country fights droughts, the plummeting of land prices, livestock prices and increased rates on country properties, higher than those in the city. Angela attempts to bring the city and country closer by platforming these topics in her newspaper articles.

Through The Farm Gate is a beautifully written book. Angela’s writing skills paint the reader clear pictures of sprawling fields, trees on the brink of extinction, the stress and strain felt by not only the farmers but also their wives, who often have little opportunity to share their fears and are frequently unaware of the true financial pressures on their farms. We learn about conservation, government policies, tragedies and celebrations and at times Angela focuses heavily on political displacements between city and country funding. I found some of these sections less inviting to read, but it certainly informed and educated me.

Angela’s story would strongly appeal to people who have experienced farm life or are living on the land. Having lived in the country myself for seven years and seen droughts, its effect on people and country towns, I could relate to parts of Angela’s passion. Her compassion, sense of humour and dedication to her beliefs are endearing and inspiring and bring a shine to her stories.

Through The Farm Gate is a story of joy and sorrow – the reality of life on the land.

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If you’d like to find out more about Angela Goode’s Through the Farm Gate visit the Allen and Unwin website here…

Lockdown: Always Watching

I would have liked to sneak up behind Tam J while she was reading today’s book – I think I would have been able to give her a good fright! I think it’s fair to say that Tam was more than a little spooked, and completely gripped by Chevy Steven’s Always Watching (Allen and Unwin)…

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 Well, in short, Always Watching is fast moving, suspenseful, chilling and I loved it!

Nadine is a psychiatrist who suffers from claustrophobia but has never been able to work out why. That is, until she meets with a patient, Heather, who starts to trigger flash-backs, memories that may hold the answer to her panic. At the same time, as you might expect, that are also memories that Nadine is not sure she wants to relive.

always watchingShe helps people put their demons to rest, but she has a few of her own…

In the lockdown ward of a psychiatric hospital, Dr. Nadine Lavoie is in her element. She has the tools to help people, and she has the desire—healing broken families is what she lives for. But Nadine doesn’t want to look too closely at her own past because there are whole chunks of her life that are black holes. It takes all her willpower to tamp down her recurrent claustrophobia, and her daughter, Lisa, is a runaway who has been on the streets for seven years.

When a distraught woman, Heather Simeon, is brought into the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit after a suicide attempt, Nadine gently coaxes her story out of her—and learns of some troubling parallels with her own life. Digging deeper, Nadine is forced to confront her traumatic childhood, and the damage that began when she and her brother were brought by their mother to a remote commune on Vancouver Island. What happened to Nadine? Why was their family destroyed? And why does the name Aaron Quinn, the group’s leader, bring complex feelings of terror to Nadine even today?

And then, the unthinkable happens, and Nadine realizes that danger is closer to home than she ever imagined. She has no choice but to face what terrifies her the most…and fight back.

I have spent most nights this past week reading way later into the night than I should, unable to put the book down. Each chapter seemed to end in a cliffhanger and I couldn’t help but read on. Nadine is a courageous character. She lives on her own, and seems to have no-one that would notice if she went missing. Despite this she searches the streets and dangerous houses full of squatters in search of her drug addicted daughter who left her home seven years ago. Chevy Steven’s skilful writing ensured that, as the reader, I was able to feel the threat, I was practically able to smell the stench that was described by the author, and I felt like I was walking with Nadine past each shadow.

Throughout the novel, Nadine starts to remember some terribly troubling memories of her childhood and specifically her time spent with her mother and brother in a commune. The commune was run by Aaron Quinn, and as her treatment of Heather continues Nadine begins to remember why that name sends chills through her. Aaron wields amazing mind-control when it comes to convincing people to join his commune and convincing them that he is the answer to their problems, but Aaron was not what he seemed to be. Nadine becomes determined to make him accountable for his behaviour and protect others from being mistreated at his hand.  Even if this places hers in terrible danger.

When Nadine’s daughter, Lisa becomes involved with the commune, Nadine’s drive to shut down Aaron and his followers becomes more obsessive. But who can Nadine trust? Who can really help her? And who is just posing to help her, but actually putting her in further danger?

Although I did find certain parts of this story a little predictable, I think that might be because I have read quite a few of these kinds of stories. Still, this did not detract from the story or the suspense I felt while reading Always Watching. I was still surprised by the twists, right up to the conclusion of the book.

I felt the eeriness that Nadine must have felt when she thought she was being watched, and I could practically hear the bumps in the dark and I felt her heartbreak too.

Always Watching is an easy read, and an enjoyable one. I would definitely like to read more novels by Chevy Steven, as I really enjoyed her writing style. I might have to have a bit of a dig around her website for my next read.

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You can find out more about Chevy Steven’s Always Watching here

 

Day out in Seattle: Songs of Willow Frost

I was tempted to keep today’s book for myself, if for no other reason but that I loved the cover. It’s gorgeous design promises up a stunning, exotic story and by the looks of Narelle’s review, it delivered just that.

Here’s what Narelle thought of Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost (Allen and Unwin)…

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Songs of Willow Frost opens telling the story of William Eng, on his 12th birthday in the orphanage that has become his home. The orphanage, as you would imagine, is a lonely place, and even more so for a Chinese boy, and Indian born Sunny and blind orphan Charlotte are William’s only friends.

songs of willow frostExperiencing a rare treat – a day outside the gates and exploring Seattle – William is struck when he sees a beautiful Chinese woman onscreen at the local cinema, Willow Frost. Convinced that the woman is the mother who left him behind, William decides he must find his way to Willow and find out if she really is his mother.

Together with Charlotte, William navigates the streets of Seattle during the great Depression, searching for Willow…

“As the bookmobile pulled onto the city street and sped up, William felt Charlotte squeeze his hand. 

She whispered, “Sister Briganti once said that all great stories of love and sacrifice have a moral – it’s up to us to find the lesson hidden inside.” 

William didn’t know if his story had a moral to it. Honestly, he didn’t care. He was going to find Willow Frost. All he wished for was a happy ending.” 

I was captivated by both William and Willow’s life stories throughout the novel and truly felt transported to the Seattle setting of 1920’s and 30’s. Its themes of love, family, sacrifice and hope for the future were beautifully rendered and genuinely moving. Songs of Willow Frost is a heartfelt, gorgeously written book that I believe many readers would enjoy.

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You can find out more about Songs of Willow Frost here…

Secrets: The Good House

If you’re looking for a book to gift to a bookish friend this Christmas, it sounds like Ann Leary’s The Good House (Allen and Unwin) might be just the ticket! Thanks to Jennie for this great review, wonderful teaser for a intriguing story…

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Ann Leary is the author of a memoir & two novels, The Good House (Allen and Unwin) being the second. I was unfamiliar with her work until now, but will be seeking out her previous books.

the good houseThe Good House is written in the first person, the voice of our protagonist Hildy Good. Hildy is a woman in her 60’s, a divorcé, a mother of two daughters, a grandmother, a realtor & an alcoholic.

She lives in the small town, Wendover Crossing, where she was born & raised. Her family indeed trace back eight generations in the town, with her eighth great-grandmother one of the accused witches tried & hanged in Salem. Due to this piece of history it is generally rumoured by locals that Hildy herself has psychic powers, a rumour she likes to play with.

Hildy makes it her business to know everyone else’s business. She shares an office building with the town Psychiatrist, Peter Newbold. She confidently  tells him that she can learn more about a person by walking through their house than he can in a session with a patient.

We enter Hildy’s life two years following an intervention by her daughters regarding her alcoholism. This is, of course, not a reality that Hildy accepts! She’s not an alcoholic! She enjoys a drink or two at social events like everyone else. Well, there may have been a DUI, but that was just one! And phonecalls to people late at night – she just likes to chat with her friends after a few drinks, she’s a gregarious person, it’s lonely in her house when she gets home!

Despite her very rational, heartfelt arguments, her family talk her into a 28 day Rehabilitation session at Hazelden Clinic.

The entire town of Wendover Crossing know that a 28 day disappearance from town means that Hildy was in rehab. So, at every public function thereafter, Hildy is a cheerful teetotaller, knowing that every eye in town is upon her!

This is where our book of secrecy begins. A labyrinth of secrets involving several people in this close knit town.

Very early on we learn that Hildy has, as many alcoholics do, two lives. She is a veritable puritan at social events. She is funny, occasionally does her psychic tricks at dinner parties & “reads minds”, she is the perfect guest.

When she gets home to her two dogs however, she indulges in her ritual visit to her cellar & her secret supply of wine where she imbibes in “1 or 2” glasses. It is more like one or two bottles & she happily walks with her dogs to the nearby lake, strips off & plunges nude into the water. It is her beautiful escape.

Hildy feels she is putting on a pretty charade but is happily maintaining her alcoholic lifestyle.

The serious secrets start leaping from the pages from this point. As Hildy knows everybody in Wendover Crossing, she knows the details of very many family lives. She detects any changes very quickly. She also becomes friends with a new couple in town & a confidante to the wife.

The beauty of The Good House is in the descriptions of the town & the people through the eyes of Hildy who knows both intimately. It’s a colourful cast of characters in this small town & Hildy brings them all beautifully to life in exquisite detail.

There is Frankie, briefly Hildy’s High School beau, who tells it like it is and plays a large role in the town; Callie & Patch with their autistic son Jake who desperately want to sell their house (which is severely damaged by Jake’s outbursts); Peter Newbold, who she also knows from school & Rebecca McAllister, new to town but quickly close to Hildy.

The strength of the developing secrets in the book lie in the fact that we are strongly invested in these people. The Good House is gripping, wonderfully detailed & funny. Sometimes laugh out loud funny (which I did!). I wanted to turn the pages as fast as I possibly could by halfway through the book as secrets became exposed. I eagerly read to find out how each piece of the puzzle fitted together.

The ending has profound implosive impact as it all comes together. Unbelievably a massive surprise awaits us at the very end.

I highly recommend The Good House. It’s a lovely light read, gripping & funny. A good stocking-filler for the readers in your life.

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You can find out more about The Good House, by Ann Leary here…

 

Meeting Steve Worland

Last night, we held another wonderful online conversation at TBYL, this time having a chat with the author of the explosive novel Combustion (Penguin) Steve Worland…

In case you weren’t able to tune in on the night, here’s a transcript of our chat with Steve…

Steve WorlandTBYL: My first question for Steve tonight is this… you’ve created a really interesting cast of characters in your novels. Do you have a personal favourite?

Steve: I love them all of course, but Corey and his cattle dog Spike would be my favourites. They’re funny and uniquely Australian, though I do love Severson, the out-for-himself-at-all-costs NASA executive, and Lola, the tough as nails Hollywood agent. I think they add interesting variations to the mix of characters. And that’s what you’re always looking for, an appealing mix that will give you conflict (even when the characters really like each other), lots of humour, insight into the human condition and that little something that feels genuinely unique and unexpected. Basically, I want the readers to love spending time with the characters, but to understand that they’re both heroic and flawed, often at the same time.

TBYL: Do you think there would be one particular character that readers would like most?

Steve: I think Corey and Spike give my stories an element that is humorous, heartfelt and genuinely Australian so they tend to be crowd favourites, certainly in Oz!

TBYL: I would think Corey would be very popular, wonderfully recognisable! I really liked Rhonda too!

Steve: Yeah, she’s great value. I kind of based her on my wife.

TBYL: Oh wow, that’s great! Can your wife fly a plane?

Steve: No, she’s an actress so she can pretend to do it!

TBYL: Perfect! Are the other characters based on real people too?

Steve: Well, the astronauts are all based on elements of real people. There’s a bit of Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, in Judd, and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, in Rhonda. Lola, the Hollywood agent, is a little bit like my agent. So, you use parts of people you know and read about, then make up the rest!

TBYL: Steve, there’s an element of the bizarre in Combustion, adding to the fun. I’m talking especially in regards to Corey and his dog Spike. Why did you decide to add these elements to the story, rather than take a straight action/adventure path? 

Steve: I wanted to create a point of difference that was both humorous, heartfelt and genuinely Australian, and I think Corey and Spike give my stories that element. Interestingly, the idea for the duo comes from a very real place. I have many friends and family in country NSW and when you see the almost telepathic communication between the guys who work the land and their cattle dogs, it’s not a huge fictional jump to reach the relationship Corey and Spike have. Then to take that relationship and throw them into a big action-adventure story is a lot of fun.

TBYL: Did you spend time in rural Australia and LA to get a sense for how this duo would translate from one to the other?

Steve: Well I’ve spent a bit of time in country NSW because of family, but never more than about a week at a time. I lived in LA for a year at the start of my screenwriting career, which was an interesting experience.

TBYL: I would imagine so! How did you find LA, especially as a resident?

Steve: It was all work really. Not a lot of time for fun. Just working at Lightstorm (James Cameron’s company) or writing. It’s a real company town that way and it can consume you.

TBYL: A bit like a really long business trip?

Steve: Yes, the film business doesn’t sleep so you do need to be on the ball.

TBYL: I always find it interesting when someone moves from one type of writing to another, and so I was wondering… what made you decide to make the shift from script and screen to novel? How have you found the transition?

Steve: Making the shift was pretty easy. I had been working as a screenwriter for almost twenty years and felt that I needed to write something for myself rather than for a director, producer or studio. Screenwriting is really about creating a blueprint for someone else’s work of art, which is fine for a while, but I just reached that point where I needed a little more autonomy. Having said that, a movie I co-wrote (with the Director) is in production at the moment in WA so that is exciting.

TBYL: Ooh, can you say any more?

Steve: Sure, it’s a kid’s adventure movie that Sam Worthington is starring in called ‘Paper Planes’. It’ll be released in 3D in January ’15.

TBYL: I’ll have to take a look at ‘Paper Planes’, sounds interesting.

Steve: It’s a little way away but the idea is to make an Australian kid’s movie.

CombustionTBYL: Hypothetically speaking, if your book were to be made into a film, who would you have play Judd, Corey, Rhonda and Lola?

Steve: Well there are so many choices! In a perfect world: Chris Pine or Bradley Cooper as Judd, Hugh Jackman or Sam Worthington as Corey, Jennifer Lawrence or Rachel McAdams as Rhonda, Greg Kinnear or Jeff Goldblum as Severson and Eva Mendes or Mila Kunis as Lola.

TBYL: Oh wow, the book has just taken on a whole new dimension! I’m so glad I asked that question! Would you like to see it on screen?

Steve: Absolutely! I just have to convince someone to spend the money!

TBYL: Not too harder sell I wouldn’t think Steve, especially with that many explosions! Next question – Steve, do you love watches?

Steve: I do indeed! I’m old school, I’d prefer to look at my wrist than my phone to tell the time! I think watches are pretty much the only jewellery men can get away with so I find it interesting what guys wear. That’s why I often mention the watches people are wearing in my books. It’s a personal choice that says a lot.

TBYL: I wish I knew more about what makes for a good watch, it’d probably help me shop for my husband for Christmas!

Steve: Just ask me. I can send you in the right direction.

TBYL: I might just do that! Okay, I’ve one last question for Steve tonight… Can you tell us anything about the third instalment in the series?

Steve: Well the Judd and Corey will finally make it in to space but not in a way you would imagine. It will tie up a number of story strands set up in the first two books and will be, hopefully, a rollicking, humourous adventure along the way. It’s due Father’s Day 2015. Next year I have different action adventure novel coming out that is set in the world of Formula One. It’s has a new cast of characters and some huge action sequences so I’m really looking forward to getting out into the world. I’m in the middle of writing it now!

TBYL: That sounds really interesting – lots of fast and furious car facts? Are you enjoying taking a break from the series?

Steve: Yes, lots of big car action, and a lot more beside. I think it’s good to give the Judd & Corey series a short rest. I want it to be fresh and hopefully, by the time Book 3 comes out, more readers will have found it!

TBYL: I’m sure they will have!

***

If you’d like to find out more about Steve’s books, visit the Penguin site here. You might also enjoy his personal website which is here…

 

Waiting for Wednesday

Although I’m not sure if TBYL Reviewer Carolyn was completely convinced when I gave her Nicci French’s crime novel Waiting for Wednesday (Penguin) to read and review, I get the feeling from this review that she’s starting to come around…

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Today’s review is of Waiting for Wednesday by crime writer Nicci French. It’s a very well written book and takes the reader on many twists and turns before the crime is solved.  This novel is one that I suspect lovers of crime fiction will enjoy.

waiting for wednesdayAlthough it took me a little bit of effort to get into this book, upon finishing it I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that it has contributed to my growing interest of this genre.  I discovered early on that this novel belonged to a series. The storyline was new but characters had already been introduced in previous books in the series. As you might expect, this meant it took me a little to grab hold of the context, but once I got to know the characters, it was no obstacle to my enjoyment of the novel.

Ruth Lennox, beloved mother of three, is found by her daughter in a pool of her own blood. Who would want to murder an ordinary housewife? And why? 

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein finds she has an unusually personal connection with DCI Karlsson’s latest case. She is no longer working with him in an official capacity, but when her niece befriends Ruth Lennox’s son, Ted, she finds herself in the awkward position of confidante to both Karlsson and Ted.

When it emerges that Ruth was leading a secret life, her family closes ranks and Karlsson finds he needs Frieda’s help more than ever before.

But Frieda is distracted. Having survived an attack on her life, she is struggling to stay in control and when a patient’s chance remark rings an alarm bell, she finds herself chasing down a path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has long escaped detection. Or is it merely a symptom of her own increasingly fragile mind?

Because, as Frieda knows, every step closer to a killer is one more step into a darkness from which there may be no return…

Waiting for Wednesday is the third instalment of the Frieda Klein series.  The novel opens with a horrific murder of an ordinary middle-class wife and mother of three, which, on its own captivated me and had me re-reading passages looking for clues.  I was to some degree left wanting, as not many clues are given at the beginning of the story; instead the writer takes her time recapping incidents that occurred in the previous two novels, reintroducing characters and their relationships.  As a first time reader to this series, I found it hard to get into the story because of this ‘revisiting’ and kept putting the book down to find something else to do.  However, as Mandi was waiting for me to write this review, I knew I had to persevere and devote my time to psychotherapist Frieda Klein no matter what terrors she had experienced in the other books. I’m glad that I did.

Waiting for Wednesday is written by two people, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Together they write under the pseudonym of Nicci French.  I had no idea until after I finished the book that this author was in fact a married couple.  The writing is seamless and they are able to get into the head of the main character very well. The further into the novel I got and the more I got to know Frieda, the more I wanted to stop the book and start the Frieda Klein series from the first book, Blue Monday.  The second in the series Tuesday’s Gone suggests that there will be seven in this series and judging from how Waiting for Wednesday was written, I think it will be great.

If we take a look at this book on its own and not as one in a series, the crime that occurs takes up only a small part of the story and is a fairly straightforward case.  Waiting for Wednesday spends a lot of its time developing characters that have featured earlier in the series and I’m assuming will be present in future books.  This book is very much the hump day in the series.  It appears that a climax will happen when Frieda Klein gets to the weekend.  Nicci French touches on something dark and frightening, waiting in the shadows, which had me wanting to know more.

You can read Waiting for Wednesday as a stand alone book however I think it would be more enjoyable to read the other two books in the series first. I know that reading this latest instalment has made me want to go back and read the first two, and I’d certainly do just that before reading the next in the series.

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If you’d to find out more about Nicci French’s Waiting for Wednesday you can visit the Penguin website here…

 

 

Three eBooks, sure to please

Over the last 6 months I’ve been sent a number of eBooks to read and review. Interestingly, they seem to be the sort of books that I dip in and out of, typically while I’m on the move, and as such they get a bit stuck on my Reading Pile. They get read, but not reviewed, and that’s no good!

So, I thought tonight I might do a group review of a few of the great books that I have on my eReader at the moment, in the hope that it might give you some good ideas for what to read next.


Wicked Wind, by Sharon Kay

The first thing that I noticed about this fun paranormal action-story is that it kicks off with a fantastic fight scene, featuring two tough women ready to save the day. A brilliant start, followed up by a really nice premise – it’s lead protagonist’s unique special ability – the ability to command the wind…

wicked windSHE GREW UP THINKING SHE WAS HUMAN
Born with the ability to command the wind, Nicole Bonham spends her life hiding her gift. Deciding to take control of her power, she dispenses her own brand of vigilante justice in Chicago’s worst neighborhoods. Stealth and surprise are always on her side.

UNTIL A CHANCE ENCOUNTER WITH A WARRIOR DEMON
Lash demon Gunnar prowls Earth and several supernatural realms to help maintain peace among the immortal species. His chance encounter with Nicole creates a hurricane of sparks between them, and he can’t let her out of his sight until he discovers her true identity. In his two hundred years, he has never seen a creature like her.

PLUNGES THEM BOTH INTO A FIGHT FOR HER LIFE
Nicole and Gunnar race to discover who – or what – is stabbing the city’s most destitute residents and stealing their blood. The fire that forged their bond explodes into white-hot passion, their erotic dance weaving their souls together on an unexpected level. Haunted by the past, Gunnar’s fiercely protective instincts battle with her need to defeat the creatures she was born to fight. As they track the mastermind behind the attacks, will Nicole’s unique talent unwittingly send her straight into his lair?

Wicked Wind is packed full of special powers, feisty women, demons and romance. It’s really original, which makes it a very entertaining story and it’s a quick read, great for reading on the go, especially if you’re a fan of paranormal fiction. You can pick up a copy here, and follow Sharon on Facebook here…


Distance, by Nene Davies
This novel is very different to our first. A frank and intimate tale of new beginnings, Distance is the story a Welsh family, in particular wife and mother Isobel Richardson.  After her husband’s reluctancy, relocation to Australia becomes possible which in turns goes someways to satisfying her inexplicably itchy feet.  This story unpacks the adventures, challenges and wonders of relocating a family, moving from one side of the world to another.

distanceEssentially, Isobel is an impatient and curious character, anxious to explore new options and push the boundries…

“One of the saddest things in the world must be to get to the end of your life and wish you’d done things differently. ‘I wish I’d got married; I wish I’d never got married; I wish I’d got married to somebody else; I wish I’d taken this course, or tried that job, built a career, had children (or not); I wish I’d been kinder, thinner, richer; less selfish, more generous.’ Imagine lying on your deathbed and thinking ‘Damn! I didn’t do it after all.’ Isobel thought she’d rather die now than face that.”

Her drive to experience as much as possible is a sentiment I can certainly identify with, and although Davies assures us that Distance is not an autobiography, her novel has a wonderful authenticity about it. You can pick up a copy here, and take a look at Nene’s lovely website, it’s a beautiful accompaniment to her novel.


Peace, Love and Khaki Socks, by Kim Lock
I’ve got to be honest, it was back in May that I read this book, and haven’t put pen to paper to write about it until now. This is problem, as some of my impressions of the story are a little blurry. To solve this problem, I thought I’d share with you fellow blogger Monique’s take on the book…

peace, love and khaki socksAmy is 24 years old, living in the married quarters at the Darwin RAAF base; her boyfriend, Dylan, is a digger in the army. She’s a reluctant Army Wife – not reluctant to be attached to Dylan, who she’s been with since high school, but reluctant to play along with the rules of the Army Wife Mob. She’s also a pacifist, so she’s living a life of contradiction as the partner of a gun-toting soldier. When Amy discovers she’s pregnant, she’s completely shocked – this wasn’t what she planned.

Peace, Love and Khaki Socks is written with a relaxed, easy style with some wryly funny moments – like hearing a birth story from a friend. It will especially hold appeal for those who are pregnant and/or considering home birth options. I did enjoy reading it, especially for the trip down memory lane – it’s the novel’s biggest strength – and the insight to life in Darwin, a setting that was well drawn. 

I’d love for you to read her full review over at Write Note Reviews! She also recently posted an interview with the author, Kim Lock which you can read here. This article offers up real insight into the writing of this really touching book.

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Three really different books, all fantastically entertaining stories. I’ve three more to share with you too, but I might save them until the same time next week.

Do any of these books tickle your fancy?

 

Apple Tree Yard

Today’s review from Kate had me intrigued… what kind of book could have you wondering on your own decision-making, and not just that of characters in the book?

Here’s what she thought of Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty (Allen and Unwin)…

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I always love getting new books to review from Mandi, as I never know what I am in for when I begin reading. Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty was no exception, and it actually got me thinking about what makes us make the decisions we do….

apple tree yardWhat makes one woman who has a seemingly perfect life make one rash decision that changes her life forever?

Yvonne Carmichael is a geneticist, highly respected and regarded in her field who, one day , for no apparent reason other that a look from a stranger makes one very rash decision that leads to diabolical consequences.

He kept looking at me as he rose to his feet, if we had met before, the look might have said, ‘oh, it’s you’. But we hadn’t met before and so it said something entirely other – but still with an element of recognition, I looked right back, and all was decided in that instant, although I didn’t understand that for a very long time.

And so begins a torrid, unconventional love affair with a man as mysterious as he is captivating. Yvonne seems to lose all sense of herself and the life that she has built with her husband and becomes blind to the inconsistencies and elusive behaviours of her lover. Her actions spin out of control and lead to a vicious assault and unexpected violence that sees her facing murder charges along with her increasingly mysterious lover.

Part psychological thriller, part exploration of human nature and morality Louise Doughty has written a true page turner. From the streets of London to murder the trial in the Old Bailey the story is gripping.  As the story unfolds you can’t help but wonder why the main character is doing what she is doing and how it can all turn so horribly wrong. It made me what to shake her and say ‘can’t you see what he is doing’!!

This is the seventh novel by Louise Doughty, her last Whatever You Love, being short-listed for the Costa Novel Award and long-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has won awards for radio drama and short stories and is a cultural commentator for UK and international newspapers and broadcasts regularly on the BBC.

I’d definitely recommend this as a fast-paced, sometime perplexing read which would suit lovers of thrillers and crime fiction alike.

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You can find out more about  Apple Tree Yard on the Allen and Unwin website, and more about the accomplished author, Louise Doughty here.