White Bodies by Jane Robins

Book blurb…

Callie loves Tilda. She’s her sister, after all. And she’s beautiful and successful.

Tilda loves Felix. He’s her husband. Successful and charismatic, he is also controlling, suspicious and, possibly, dangerous. Still, Tilda loves Felix.

And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.

So she’s determined to save her. But the cost could destroy them all…

My thoughts…

The twists and turns throughout White Bodies were chilling and clever.  The author crafted a plot that was full of suspense and had me trying to guess where the story was going.  The relationship between the characters was complex, well portrayed, and totally unpredictable. A captivating story.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin Australia

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The Good Mother by Karen Osman

Book blurb…

How far would you go to protect your children?

A gripping psychological suspense, with a shocking twist that will leave you reeling…

Catherine is a good mother and a good wife. The family home is immaculate, her husband’s supper is cooked on time, but when she starts writing to Michael, a prisoner convicted of murder, she finds herself obsessing about his crime and whether he can ever truly be forgiven…   Kate has no time for herself. Caught in the maelstrom of bringing up two young children with no money, and an out-of-work husband, she longs to escape the drudgery of being a wife and a mother. And she soon starts taking dangerous risks to feel alive…   Alison has flown the nest. But university life is not what she had hoped for, and she finds herself alone and unhappy. Until the day her professor takes a sudden interest in her. Then everything changes…   Three women – all with secrets. And as the days tick down to Michael’s release, those secrets can no longer be ignored.

My thoughts…

I found the structure of The Good Mother intriguing, but I can’t tell you why because this is a story you need to read for yourself to see just how clever the author is.

Catherine, Kate and Alison are all interesting characters who find themselves entangled in their own desires and wondering if there is a way out for them.

A story well worth reading as it touches on some interesting areas of life and love.

This review is also published on Goodreads

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An Uncommon Woman by Nicole Alexander

Book blurb…

Inspired by a real newspaper story from 1930, An Uncommon Woman is an epic tale of duty, ambition, prejudice and love, from the pen of bestselling author Nicole Alexander.

It’s a man’s world – but not for long . . .

It’s 1929, and the world is changing. Cars are no longer the privilege of the rich. Hemlines are rising. Movies are talking. And more and more women are entering the workforce.

For Edwina Baker, however, life on her family’s farm in Western Queensland offers little opportunity to be anything other than daughter, sister and, perhaps soon, wife.

But Edwina wants more. She wants to see the world, meet new people, achieve things. For while she has more business sense than her younger brother, it will be Aiden who one day inherits the farm.

Then the circus comes to town. Banned from attending by her father, Hamilton, Edwina defiantly rides to the showground dressed as a boy. There she encounters two men who will both inadvertently alter the course of her life: pastoralist Mason with his modern city friends; and Will, a labourer who also dreams of escape.

And when the night ends in near-disaster, this one act of rebellion strikes at the heart of the Baker family. Yet it also offers Edwina the rare chance to prove herself in a man’s world. The question is, how far is she prepared to go, and how much is she prepared to risk?

My thoughts…

Every Nicole Alexander novel I’ve had the pleasure of reading has taken me on a journey: to an earlier era, to the country and to the heart of believable and loveable characters. An Uncommon Woman is set in a place and time and provides a journey into the outback of Queensland and into a time period where women were not forthright and were treated more like property than equals.

A great read yet again from Nicole Alexander, you put me so much in the picture that I could almost feel the prickly pear.

Edwina is a great character and I am sure every reader will be wondering throughout the book if she, as an uncommon woman wins in the end.

Nicole Alexander gets to the heart of Australian storytelling with all of her books and this is no exception.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women writers Challenge

Published by Penguin Books Australia

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Willow Tree Bend by Kaye Dobbie

Book blurb…

An interrupted phone call and a mysterious disappearance bring a family’s secret past crashing into the present…

1969: Small-town girl Faith Taylor leaves her family home in Willow Tree Bend and lands a job at the Angel—Melbourne’s most infamous nightclub. While Faith relishes her new-found freedom, she can’t help noticing that some things about the club don’t add up. So when a policeman reveals that a former waitress was murdered, Faith realises she must help to bring down the shadowy owner behind the club’s activities.

More than thirty years later, what happened at the Angel remains a closely held secret. When Faith disappears, her sister Hope—now a famous movie star—is left with an intriguing, though frustrating, piece

of the puzzle. But with a tell-all documentary film crew constantly by her side, how can she find where Faith is—and what she’s hiding—while making sure her own secrets stay hidden?

Faith’s daughter, Sam, is also concerned by her mother’s uncharacteristic behaviour. When she overhears a clue to Faith’s past, she’s determined to unearth the truth. What is the connection between the Angel and Willow Tree Bend? What does Faith’s disappearance mean? And what will happen when the final secret is revealed?

My thoughts…

Willow Tree Bend is an intriguing plot that took me from the city to the country to discover past secrets.

I do enjoy a sisters story and whilst an easy read I believe it would have benefited from a little more conflict between the characters, given the types of secrets being revealed.

This said, I would recommend it to readers.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Harlequin Australia

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The Visitors by Catherine Burns

Book blurb…

You can lock them in, but secrets find a way out . . . A deeply unsettling and compulsively readable debut novel.

A chilling debut inspired by high-profile cases of abduction and imprisonment that explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the gruesome realities that can lurk beneath the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother, John, in a decaying Georgian townhouse on the edge of a bleak English seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to shut out the secret that John keeps locked away in the cellar.

But when questions are asked, and secrets unravel, we realise that John might not be the only one with a dark side . . .

My thoughts…

I was totally drawn into this chilling novel. The story does not allow me to say too much as it might give away the plot and therefore the ending, which was terrific.

I can say that we would not want too many people in this world to have the type of dark side depicted in this story.  The Visitors is an excellent debut novel that delves into our human psyche and is a good one for the to be read list.

This review also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

 

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Sixty Seconds by Jesse Blackadder

Book blurb…

Inspired by the author’s own family experience.

The Brennans – parents, Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby – have made a sea change, from chilly Hobart to subtropical Murwillumbah. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they’re still adjusting to work, school, and life in a sprawling purple weatherboard, when one morning, tragedy strikes.

In the devastating aftermath, the questions fly. What really happened? And who’s to blame?

Determined to protect his family, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah – his innocence lost – faces a sudden and frightening adulthood where nothing is certain.

Sixty Seconds is a haunting, redemptive story about forgiveness and hope.

My thoughts…

I’m not sure what my thoughts are on this read. I agree with others about the writing being evocative and the subject matter is certainly powerful. But perhaps the characters were portrayed a little too realistically for me. That is not a criticism. It is a compliment to the author for developing the characters of Bridget, Finn and Jarrah. On that, I did find the POV interesting. Finn’s POV is regular 3rd person. Jarrah is portrayed as a teenager with fragmented sentences (short, sharp, teenage-like, I guess. Eg: Opened door. Sat down. Picked up remote). But Bridget’s 2nd person POV totally threw me. I thought I would get used to it, but reading ‘you’ all the time (Eg: You know you want a drink…. You want to walk over and you feel you…!!!) I just didn’t warm to the style but that may be because I did not warm to the character.  I was also thrown by the prologue which I worked out was the young child, Toby, but his descriptions/emotions of the lead up to the incident were that of a grown up. Interesting approach.

60 Seconds certainly is very thought provoking. It is a very important subject and a lesson, and if you like evocative descriptions and prose, this is an intriguing read.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

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The Blind by A. F. Brady

Book blurb…

With the intensity and rawness of Girl, Interrupted and Luckiest Girl Alive comes this razor-sharp debut, which reveals how one woman can go so far off the deep end, she might never make it back up.

Sam James has spent years carefully crafting her reputation as the best psychologist at Typhlos, Manhattan’s most challenging psychiatric institution. She boasts the highest success rates with the most disturbed patients, believing if she can’t save herself, she’ll save someone else. It’s this saviour complex that serves her well in helping patients battle their inner demons, though it leads Sam down some dark paths and opens her eyes to her own mental turmoil.

When Richard, a mysterious patient no other therapist wants to treat, is admitted to Typhlos, Sam is determined to unlock his secrets and his psyche. What she can’t figure out is why does Richard appear to be so completely normal in a hospital filled with madness? And what, really, is he doing at the institution? As Sam gets pulled into Richard’s twisted past, she can’t help but analyse her own life, and what she discovers terrifies her. And so the mind games begin. But who is the saviour and who is the saved?

In this unexpected and addictive psychological debut, A.F. Brady takes readers into the psyche of a deeply disturbed woman desperately trying to keep her head above water, showing that sometimes what’s most terrifying is what exists in your mind.

My thoughts…

My thoughts on this novel are mixed.  I enjoyed the plot but disliked the main character. I appreciate she was a troubled soul, however I thought she was irresponsible and could not relate to her treating vulnerable people. These feelings unfortunately affected the overall enjoyment of the story.

I was also disappointed with the ending. It seemed that the story just stopped with things left up in the air and without any rounding off of the characters.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin Australia

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The Pool House by Tasmina Perry

Book blurb…

Someone lied. Someone died…

This dark, twisting novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Tasmina Perry will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for everyone who’s been gripped by the TV series RIVIERA or THE AFFAIR, or J. P. Delaney’s THE GIRL BEFORE. ‘Gripping… Great pace and brilliantly written. I loved it’ Daily Mail on The House on Sunset Lake

When you’re invited to spend summer in the Hamptons with a group of new friends, you agree – who wouldn’t? But then you realise you’re taking the place of another woman, a woman who died in mysterious circumstances, just the summer before. Your housemates tell you her death was an accident. But which of them has something to hide?

My thoughts…

The author of The Pool House transported me to the Hamptons in summer with a house full of people who love the good life. From there I found myself intent on solving the death of Alice.  I was 100% along for the ride with these characters. I enjoyed Alice’s point of view and then the story from the present linking the clues and creating an ending I did not expect.

One for mystery lovers.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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The Girl From Munich by Tania Blanchard

Book blurb…

 Germany, 1943. The choices she makes will change her life forever.

Growing up in Hitler’s Germany, Charlotte von Klein has big dreams for the future. Her mind is full of plans for a sumptuous wedding to her childhood sweetheart Heinrich while working for the Luftwaffe, proudly giving her all for the Fatherland.

But in 1943, the tide of the war is turning against Germany, and Lotte’s life of privilege and comfort begins to collapsing around her. As Hitler’s Reich abandons Germany and the country falls to the Allied forces, Lotte is forced to flee from the unfolding chaos to the country with the darkly attractive Erich Drescher, her Luftwaffe superior.

Amid the danger, pain and heartbreak of a country turning on itself, Lotte must forge a new life for herself. But as the country struggles to find its future, shadows of the past come rushing back and Lotte finds herself questioning everything she has fought for – love, duty and freedom.

My thoughts…

The best part about a good book is the emotional connection a reader forms with the characters.  The Girl from Munich pressed all the right buttons for me in this regard.  I found Charlotte’s journey through such woeful times (and authentically told) so heartbreaking. I also fell in love with Erich many times over.

Well done to Tania Blanchard, yet another wonderful debut Australian author.

If, like me, you are captured by wartime stories, especially those set in the unfolding chaos of 1940s Germany, and enjoy books that force you to keep reading into the early hours, this is a novel for you.

This review is also published on Goodreads and Australian Women Writers Challenge 

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Death of Her by Debbie Howells

Book blurb…

The Death of Her is a haunting psychological thriller from Debbie Howells, author of the bestselling Richard and Judy Book Club success The Bones of You. A woman’s body is discovered on a Cornish farm, battered and left for dead in a maize field. Airlifted to hospital, her life hanging in the balance, no one’s sure who she is. Three days later she comes round, but her memory is damaged. She knows her name – Evie – but no more, until she remembers another name. Angel – her three-year-old daughter. As the police circulate Evie’s photo, someone recognizes her. Charlotte knew her years ago, at school, when another child went missing. Leah Danning, who vanished whilst in Evie’s care. When the police search Evie’s home, there’s no sign of Angel. More disturbingly, there’s no evidence that she ever lived there, forcing the police to question whether Evie’s having some kind of breakdown. But even from the darkest place she’s ever known, Evie believes her daughter is alive. The police remain unconvinced – unaware that on the fringes of Evie’s life, there’s someone else. Someone hidden, watching her every move, with their own agenda and their own twisted version of reality.

My thoughts…

I found myself drawn in at the beginning and I loved the twist at the end, however the detail in first person about Casey was overly reflective and tended to slow the story down a bit, in my opinion.

I normally devour a good psychological thriller, but on this occasion I felt removed from the story and found the police Investigation to be more of a convenient plot device and not realistic.

I had difficulty making the connection with Casey’s back story and the reasons for the missing child and would have been more invested in this story if I’d developed a stronger emotional connection to the characters. Maybe some additional editing could have tightened the story.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Pan Macmillan

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