TBYL Garage Sale, coming soon!

It’s an exciting time at the moment for That Book You Like! The winds of change are picking up, steering TBYL away from retail and right towards more reading, reading, reading and of course, lots of writing.

As such, I’m looking to clear all the books left in the TBYL Store, and I’m having a Garage Sale to do it!

garagesale

Make sure you put the 26 July 2014 in your diary, and better still RSVP to our online event here! That way I can give you a holler first thing on the day to make sure that you don’t miss out on any bargains.

There will be a great range of adult fiction and kids titles as well as a few other gifty bits and bobs. Great prices, some books will even be at cost.

All items will be posted on our Facebook page on the 26 July (starting at about 10am) and it’ll be first in, first served. Numbers of titles are strictly limited, and specials will be exclusive to the Facebook page only.

Hope you’ll join us!

A Lucky Life: Where Earth Meets Water

It always amazes me how some authors are able to capture colour, movement and feeling, to tell a story so rich and real. Today’s review from Jennie Diplock-Storer tells us of a story that captures all these things and more. Here’s her thoughts on Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone (Harlequin)…

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Pai Padukone’s debut novel, Where Earth Meets Water, takes us to dichotomous parts of the world and introduces us to the lives of four intrinsically linked people. Pia has written a novel that successfully wraps the reader around it’s finger, and all within the first few paragraphs.

where earth meets waterTelling the story of Karom Seth involves more than Karom alone. His life holds several traumatic events, some of which we are made aware of very early in the book. Despite this trauma, if fact almost as a result of it, Karom appears to have lived a very lucky life. As a college student in New York, he remains behind on campus when his class attends a conference at Tower One on September 11th, 2001. That day the world is changed for ever by two planes hitting the Twin Towers. Karom, of course, survives, but loses many friends from his student group.

As a senior at college, with his final exams coming up, a family reunion is organised at the coastal town of Bhupal in India. Seth relatives are flying and travelling from all parts of the world and Karom is excited at the prospect of meeting all of these blood kin, many of whom he has never met before. As fate would have it, he delays his arrival in India by one day, so as to complete his study. When he gets to the airport he finds flights to India cancelled but can find no information as to why. Phone calls to family members are unanswered and he ultimately returns to college.

After a time, Karom is notified by a cousin that a “freak wave”, emanating from an underwater earthquake has hit coastal areas of Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka & India, decimating the region. His parents and most of his relatives are lost in this disaster.

Fortunately, Karom’s room-mate, Lloyd, is there for him during this time. He hears the nightmares and Karom’s cries in the night and supports him as best he can. This relationship is a pleasure for the reader to share. The two men become best friends and years later, Karom is to be Lloyd’s best man in his wedding to Malina.

We are introduced to Gita, Karom’s long term girlfriend. Although she wasn’t in Karom’s life during these earth-shattering events, she is certainly impacted by them. They are a very happy couple and enjoy their life together – all but for one behaviour pattern of Karom’s. He plays, with worrying regularity, what he terms “a game”. We see an example of this ‘game’ in the first few pages of the book…

While waiting at a train station in India with Gita, Karom edges himself closer and closer to the edge of the platform until finally, he jumps down onto the track and walks up the train line. It takes some time before Gita realises what he has done and drama ensues as Karom returns to the platform unharmed. His words of reassurance to Gita fall on deaf ears, as she is scared and sick of the game, behaviour which she only sees ending in tragedy.

new york trainWe learn that in New York Karom often stands as close as possible to the edge of the station platform and also plays “chicken” with cars on the road. It appears that in escaping death, dodging terrorists and earthquakes, Karom feels he is either invincible or he is tempting fate.

Where Earth Meets Water is written in components dedicated to the major characters involved in Karom’s world.

We start in India, where Gita and Karom are staying with Gita’s Ammama, her Grandmother. Gita shares her anxieties about Karom’s behaviour to Ammama and Ammama herself sets upon the problem in her own way. There is much love and colour here and we are fortunate to be gifted  by the author, Ammama’s story.

We learn about Lloyd’s relationship with Karom also, how Karom’s fears have influenced their friendship.

Gita’s story shares with us the complexities and vulnerabilities involved in being in a long term relationship with Karom. What does this mean to her? How is his fears and behaviour affecting them as a couple?

As a reader I was grabbed by Where Earth Meets Water in the first paragraphs. Padukone writes with colour, melody, vibrations and deeply exposed emotions. Many sections of the book are pure prose. We, the reader, are where the characters are, at any given moment. On occasions I found myself holding my breath, unable to turn pages fast enough. At other times I was wary moving on, scared to travel with a character on the path they had chosen.

There are phrases of pure beauty, with Padukone having the gift of putting on paper movement and touch that the reader can feel.

Every character is so completely developed, it is impossible not to be fully invested in them. This makes the reading of the last half of this book riveting. Secrets are exposed, fears are shared and feelings confessed. I raced to the last pages and was not in the least bit disappointed.

I highly recommend Where Earth Meets Water. Although intense feelings and events are contained, there is nothing threatening or difficult in the reading of this book. I truly hope that this is the first of many for Pia Padukone.

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You can find out more about Where Earth Meets Water by Pia Padukone here…

Goodbye and Hello: Safe with Me

The opening of Amy Hatvany’s newest novel Safe with Me (Allen and Unwin) could have lost me. It could only be described as traumatic, hitting hard with details of an accident involving the loss of a child, a child about the same age as one of my own sons.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would be able to push through the scene, but I thought – why would a writer be doing this to me, the reader, unless for a good reason?

The book’s ‘teaser’ promised me more than just the heartbreak found in the first few pages of the text and so, as is the way with good storytelling, at the same time as being horrified, I was hooked…

safe with meWith the horrific screech of tyres, Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it is brought to a devastating end.

One year after the accident, Hannah is still discouraging all attempts by family and friends to help her resume her normal life. But when her path crosses with Olivia Bell and her daughter Maddie who is finally on the way to recovery after a serious illness, Hannah develops a surprisingly close friendship with Olivia in a short time.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Many times on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him as never before in the wake of Maddie’s illness.

Meanwhile Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to live her life in the way she’s longed to do, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

I persevered, and I found within this book a touching and inspiring story. In a similar way to the storytelling of Jodi Picoult, Hatvany introduced me to a cast of conflicted, flawed and endearingly human characters – Hannah still deep in her grief, building her business whilst hiding behind it; Olivia living in fear, her perfectly manicured appearance and measured emotions working to protect herself from a vicious husband, and to shield her daughter from his cruel volatility; and Maddie, a young girl finding her way through the fog of serious illness and teen angst, learning to deal with the fact that she is only alive due to the sacrifice of another.

Although it’s a little coincidental that Hannah, Olivia and Maddie happen to meet, it is of course pivitol to story being told and so I forgave the stretch. Essentially I was glad that they meet, as it gave grounds for an exploration into the emotions and experiences of these woman. Though a difficult process, all three women help each other face their demons (in some cases, quite literally) and essentially come through the other side, stronger and freer.

Safe with Me, is a good, clean narrative, a story-based novel that will have you drawn in. There were a few occasions where I thought the pace could do with a little work, but I think that’s mainly because of my own reading preferences, not so much the novel itself. If you like a good story, a solid plot and well developed characters, this novel is for you. I can say pretty confidently that if you’re a fan of Picoult, you’ll enjoy Amy Hatvany’s work equally.

You can find out more about Amy Hatvany’s Safe with Me at the Allen and Unwin website here…

Oh Emily: Time Will Tell

TBYL Reviewer Tam Jenkin was very excited when this book came her way…

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This beautiful story, Time Will Tell by Fiona McCallum (Harlequin) is the second instalment in The Button Jar series by Fiona McCallum. I read the first story, Saving Grace last year and loved it and after eagerly awaiting the second book, I was not disappointed.

time will tell

Emily Oliphant has made some drastic changes in her life. She’s ditched her abusive husband and embarked on her own adventure, renovating a dilapidated property and starting up her own business. Against all odds, she’s found a sense of place and purpose, but is still too scarred by her past to form any romantic attachments, regardless of who’s vying for her attention.

Now she’s received an offer from the elderly owners of her beloved rented home to buy the property, land and all. Hopeful and tentative, Emily feels she is taking a step in the right direction, although is unsure how she will raise the money.  Except Emily holds a button jar – a gift from her recently deceased Granny Mayfair – which, unbeknownst to her, could contain the solution to all her problems…

But just when Emily thought things were beginning to go her way, everything takes a turn. Soon, she’s involved in a romance she thought she had no time for and dealing with the shock of two unexpected deaths, forcing her to make some difficult decisions. With her finances, her property, her friendships and her budding relationship now hanging in limbo, Emily is once again drawing on her inner strength to overcome a new set of challenges.

I was extremely impressed that this book picked up at exactly the place that Saving Grace finished, meaning that I didn’t feel that I had missed out on any of the journey, and I was quickly drawn back into the story. Again, Emily is our leading lady and her story is filled with tragedy, tough decisions, and a further journey of self discovery.

Emily has to decide whether she should take up the offer to buy the old house she is living in and possibly make her dreams of running a Bed & Breakfast a reality. She just can’t work out how she will afford it. Emily’s mother is still making her undermine her own abilities, but with the help of her Dad, her best friend Barbara and the handsome Jake who comes visiting again from Melbourne, she begins to learn how to stand up to her mother and stop listening so closely to all whispering voices of self-doubt.

Just as she thinks decisions have been made tragedy strikes, leaving Emily in shock and also with the possibility of a farm to care for. Emily finds she is a topic of town gossip again and this has her making some decisions which leave her lonely and questioning everything all over again!

While reading, I did feel that sometimes Emily needed a good shake to get her to see clearly – I really didn’t want to mess up her budding new relationship with Jake. I felt slightly anxious about all the issues that Emily had to deal with and wanted to tell her ‘just one thing at a time, Em’. Fiona McCallum writes beautifully and again she swept me away with her descriptions of country living. I wanted to take early morning walks on the farm with Emily, and I wanted to sit down and have a cuppa with her and Barbara. This book very nearly had me packing my bags to make the country move myself!

We get answers about Emily’s Gran’s button jar and the mystery of “seven of Golconda’s finest”. Jake continues to take a stronger role in Emily’s life and in the story. I enjoyed watching this character develop. I also enjoyed the way Fiona McCallum tells a love story without it all being pages of description about what happens in the bedroom. A beautiful novel filled with romance, inner strength and above all, friendship.

Meant To Be is the third instalment of The Button Jar series, and is due for release in November 2014…and I can’t wait!!!

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If you’d like to find out more about Time Will Tell by Fiona McCallum check it out at Harlequin Books today.

 

Pardon Me for Mentioning

Sometimes it’s time to take a little break from novels. After a  few novels in a row (particularly if they’re a little on the serious side) it’s good to be able to break it up a little with a good compilation/non-fiction/novelty title.

pardon meI read today’s book over the Christmas period last year, while there were lots of demands on my time. I was time-poor and needed something that I could dip in and out of easily. Pardon Me for Mentioning… Unpublished Letters to the Age and The Sydney Morning Herald by Alex Kaplan, Julie Lewis and Catharine Munro (Allen and Unwin) was exactly the compilation in order.

It’s a fascinating collection of Letters to the Editor on topics as varied as gender wars, illustrious Canberra and, umm,  body odor. Some letters are earnest…

“Ulf Ewaldsson from Ericsson must be really happy that global mobile penetration will read 100 per cent by 2016. The headline claims ‘Everyone who want to make a phone call over a mobile can.’ Maybe the starving millions in the horn of Africa will soon be able to simply dial a pizza. Angus McLeod, Cremorne”

Some are funny…

“Each page of my school report was for a different subject and had three headings – effort, progress and comment. I recall my father being distinctly unimpressed when my French teacher place a ‘no’ in front of each heading. Warwick Harty, Maroubra”

 And some just plan absurd…

“If I get good service in a restaurant I usually tip 10 per cent of the bill. If the service is poor, the tip I leave to the waiter is: ‘Don’t overwater your bromliads in winter.’ John Byrne, Randwick.”

All of them hark back to a time (in the not-that-distant past) of papers in print and a community of voices making themselves heard. The most fun of all is that most of the writers of the letters have their tongues placed firmly in their cheeks. Even those letters of a serious nature have delightful smart-arsery about them, one that will have you giggling wryly. They make their point lightly, yet completely clearly.

I really enjoyed this collection and it has make me read the Letters section of the paper differently. I now see it as a community, a set of voice saying their piece, calling others to account, and sometime just trying to entertain the rest of us a little. 

If you’d like to find out more about  Pardon Me for Mentioning… Unpublished Letters to the Age and The Sydney Morning Herald you can visit the Allen and Unwin website here…

Growing Up: The Best Feeling of All

Today’s novel had TBYL Reviewer Narelle, tripping down memory lane…

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The Best Feeling of All by Jack Ellis (Arcadia) tells the story of two girls, best friends Mols and Jaz, growing up in present day Sydney’s Northern Beaches…

the best feeling of allLife doesn’t happen, you make it.

Mols and Jaz can’t wait for life to begin. In the meantime, they’ll make sure they get their share of excitement and fun. When they’re not seeking out the next ecstatic thrill, they’re making big plans for the future while exploring the sand dunes, headlands and storm drains of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They happily race along the ridge between possibility and reality until they slam into the shocks, heartaches and impossible choices of adulthood.

Much like real life adolescence, the story meanders through the girls’ lives, loves and friendships from age fourteen to twenty six.

The sense of both feeling and finding independence and a frustrating lack of control that mark this part of life run true throughout  the story. Friends are pivotal in the girls lives as they move from teenage parties and hookups, clubbing and drinking to adult life with jobs, babies and all the challenges these things bring.

The girls rescue of an abandoned puppy early in the story bonds them and becomes an anchor for their relationship. They are there for each other as they are also both forced into decisions that shape their family makeup and to deal with changes they’d never expected.

I found Ellis at his best depicting the girls friendships and the rush of discovered mutual attraction. While my own adolescence might have been a while ago now, I could relate to the intensity of feeling and freedom portrayed.

“Now, sitting by herself in a scruffy park in the middle of a work day, drinking beer and eating battered fish, made her feel as if she had somehow just re boarded a psychic train that she had climbed off sometime back then. She felt again the powerful sense of possibility that had permeated every thought when she and Jaz were still dreaming of the clear air of adulthood.
Quit my job – tick. “
Jack Ellis’ novel really did capture the best, and worst of the feelings so many of us associate with growing up.

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You can find out more about Jack’s novel The Best Feeling of All here…

Back on Board, and His Stupid Boyhood

You may have noticed that it’s been a little quieter at That Book You Like… of late. I’ve been popping up weekly, but not daily (as I’d like). In short, moving house, relocating TBYL HQ and an increase in my ‘day-job hours’ have, as you might expect, interrupted my writing time somewhat. In saying that, I’ve still been reading like a fiend and I’ve got the most incredible pile of books that I’ve read over the last couple of months but haven’t had a chance to write about yet.

And that’s where the fun starts…

TBYL HQI’m pleased to say that I’ve now settled into my new, wonderful home and TBYL has a brand new HQ. I’ve rejigged my timetable to account for the extra hours in the city, and scheduled lots and lots of great reviews.

Some of these write-ups will feature books that have been out for a few months, other books that are brand new. In the near future, I’ll be introducing a few new friends, and I’ll give you a chance to pick up some bargain-basement bookish gifts. And of course, there will be give-aways, lots of chances to win.

I hope you’ll join us for another year of That Book You Like, and as promised, here’s a nice shiny new review for you…

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A disclaimer before I start today’s review – I’ve not read anything by Peter Goldsworthy, and I read his memoir His Stupid Boyhood (Penguin) because it was sent to me to take a look at, and it sounded interesting…

his stupid boyhoodFew Australian writers have delved as deeply as Peter Goldsworthy into the mysterious state of being that is childhood. 

In this memoir he applies his fascination with that state to his own boyhood, from his bizarre first memories to the embarrassments of adolescence. For all his working life Goldsworthy has been both doctor and writer – Australia’s Chekhov – and here he reveals a mind charmed equally by science and literature, by the rational and the imagined.

And you know what? I’m so glad that I read this book! It has introduced me to a fascinating Australian author (and poet, and composer, and doctor) and it has also revealed to me a new kind of memoir, one all-together more skilfully complied than your average autobiography.

For me, reading memoirs can be a little challenging. I find the revelations and details interesting, mostly entertaining, but I also find it hard to get past the quiet, almost unavoidable egotism that goes hand-in-hand with writing ones own story.

Interestingly, I can honestly say Peter Goldsworthy’s book seems to have quite successfully moved away from this. The self-deprication, the humility and absurdity of some of Peter’s tales lighten the tone, making it easier to believe that Goldsworthy has written this memoir as a kind of revelation of his foolishness as a child…

“In my final year of high school I took to wearing a cravat and smoking a pipe when heading out for a night on the town. This would have been a major style disaster for a pimple-pocked sixteen-year-old string bean in any bush town, but in tropical Darwin the effect of a cravat worn with the formal Territory rig of short-sleeved shirt, shorts, long socks and suede Hush Puppies was beyond parody. I wore this ensemble to parties, to the drive-in, to the Parap open-air picture theatre; I wore it to the Mecca coffee lounge round midnight before heading home.

On Friday nights, fishing with my best friend Iggy from the Darwin wharf, I wore the cravat with shorts and thongs.

What was I thinking? I think I was thinking that I looked like an intellectual, although I spent far more time thinking about being one than being one, thinking…

…What was everyone else thinking? That I looked like a skinny, pimple-pocked, would-be Hugh Hefner, stranded in the great outdoors with not a single Bunny in sight.”

It’s this focus on childhood that makes His Stupid Boyhood really readable. The scope of the tale is very manageable, spanning only about eighteen years, a coming-of-age story. I was grabbed by the writer’s humour, but also by his dedication to detail and to learning (both then and now.) I was taken in by his name dropping; Corso, Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti and frequent mention of Penguin Modern Poets 5 made my ears prick up – I’ve a much-treasured copy of that book on my own bookshelf. Further, I was impressed by the inviting, entertaining and literary writing style of this unique boys-own-adventure.

Whether you’re a fan or not, I’d have to recommend this memoir as a good read. It’s a great snap-shot of Australia, of how one grows up writing and of what makes a multi-talented, slightly eccentric gentleman tick.

You can find out more about Peter Goldsworthy’s His Stupid Boyhood here…

 

It’s Burger Time! The Burger Book

It’s always so fascinating when an author shares their passion with readers. Often it’s a passion for art, for travel, for romance or action. For me, it is books (of course), and for other bloggers it might be parenting, or craft or music.

The Burger Book coverFor Ethan Jenkins and Jimmy Hurlston his passion is burgers. Burgers and beer. This culinary coupling is one that he’s chased, studied, and documented on his hunt throughout Victoria.

The Burger Book: Victoria is the latest offering from Smudge Publishing, written by Ethan Jenkins and Jimmy Hurlston and beautifully photographed by Katie Wilton (with wonderful graphic design by Grace West) and it’s just what you might expect – a book about burgers.

Big burgers, small burgers, pub burgers, gourmet burgers, all accompanied by the perfect beer.

Burger Book

Take a look inside The Burger Book: Victoria here…

As is usually the case with Smudge books, this beautifully presented hard-cover book is a combination of recipes, guide maps to the best burgers in town and informative write-ups of venues such as TrunkBeer DeluxeThe Little Ox and The Inkerman Hotel (and many, many more!)

“On a food and culture pilgrimage to New York, Little Ox’s chef, Tim Fetherston, worked at a number of kitchens in New York, one of which was the Lighthouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Tim managed to work under Head Chef Nicholas Cox, who spent time teaching him the American way (burgers, ribs, chicken wings, cornbread, you get the gist.) Upon his return, Tim immediately began chatting with the local butcher about mincing premium cuts for a Brooklyn inspired burger…

The upstairs of the Little Ox was formally the office of Tommy Collins Events. Since, Tim has recreated the space into his own veggie garden, which he uses in the cafes, with a space reserved for future Rooftop behives. The Little Ox pretty much acts as a community center for locals. Whether it’s to kick off a morning ritual of coffee before work, a place to meet the kids after school or be ladies who lunch, this burger venue by the bay is bustling with energy.”

I found it fascinated to read about the amount of thought that can go into the creation of a humble burger, consideration that does so much to separate it from it’s mass-produced, homogenised cousins.

The Burger Book: Victoria is another example of just how many amazing venues are on offer in this state, even for those with simpler tastes. No fine dining here, just good, hearty food and drink.

I’m heading off to the launch of this book this afternoon, which promises burger eating, beer drinking and lots of entertainment. I can’t wait to share some happy snaps with you, so stay tuned!

If you’d like to find out more about the book, or purchase a copy for yourself, check it out at Smudge Publishing.

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A new addition – a fantastic give-away!!

signed burger bookThat Book You Like is very happy to be able to give away a signed copy of the fabulous Burger Book: Victoria by Jimmy Hurlston and Ethan Jenkins.

To enter to win a signed copy of the book, just comment here and email your name and postal to info@thatbookyoulike.com.au. A winner will be picked at random after midnight 25 April 14.

Winner must have an Australian postal address and will be contacted by email to confirm details. Good luck!!

 

 

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…