The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater

Book blurb…

A breathtaking debut about love and war, and the battle to save a precious legacy

Each lace shawl begins and ends the same way – with a circle. Everything is connected with a thread as fine as gossamer, each life affected by what has come before it and what will come after. 

1941, Estonia. As Stalin’s brutal Red Army crushes everything in its path, Katarina and her family survive only because their precious farm produce is needed to feed the occupying forces.

Fiercely partisan, Katarina battles to protect her grandmother’s precious legacy – the weaving of gossamer lace shawls stitched with intricate patterns that tell the stories passed down through generations.

While Katarina struggles to survive the daily oppression, another young woman is suffocating in her prison of privilege in Moscow. Yearning for freedom and to discover her beloved mother’s Baltic heritage, Lydia escapes to Estonia.

Facing the threat of invasion by Hitler’s encroaching Third Reich, Katarina and Lydia and two idealistic young soldiers, insurgents in the battle for their homeland, find themselves in a fight for life, liberty and love.

My thoughts…

I was drawn to this story by the time period, the setting, the title and the fact everyone was talking about it. And, wow! It so lived up to the hype.

What an amazing debut novel and by an Australian author. I am in awe of the talent in this country. This is one story worthy of a world-wide audience. There is something to learn and a lot to love about The Lace Weaver.

The author has woven an evocative and soul-searching plot and the shawl motif woven throughout a story that explores love, family and friendship and the tragedy of war, is both clever and beautifully done.

I had such a strong connection to every character and felt their pride and their heartache.

A must read that goes to the top of my list for 2018. Well done Lauren Chater, I look forward to your next story.

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

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

Book blurb…

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out?

It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

My thoughts…

In the book blurb the words “beautiful and devastating” are used to describe this novel and they certainly sum up the story for me.

Gilda’s life is so pathetically sad there were times I did not want to read on.  I remain unsure who should hold the responsibility for the misery both Gilda and her son experience, but if not for Reubin’s wife, Alice, both the main characters lives would have been lost to each other. And that would have been even sadder.

While far from a ‘happy’ story, the novel is well written and plotted, the characters well-described and certainly evoked emotions for me as the reader.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette

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The Secrets We Keep by Shirley Patton

Book blurb…

A mother’s secret, a father’s betrayal, a town on the edge…

When social worker Aimee arrives in the mining town of Kalgoorlie, she is ready for a fresh start. Her colleagues Lori and Paddy seem friendly, and she is also drawn to one of her cases: the Steele family, whose future looks particularly bleak. But Aimee has a dark secret and as the past reaches out towards her once more, she realises that somehow her secret is connected to this unfamiliar but harshly beautiful town and its inhabitants.

As she strengthens her ties with the  local community — especially with the vibrant Lori, stoical Kerry and wise Agnes — she finds herself questioning earlier decisions. Can she reveal her secret, even if it is not hers alone to share?

A compelling novel of the transcendental love of children and the truth’s unwillingness to stay hidden.

My thoughts…

The Secrets We Keep, by Aussie author Shirley Patton, explores friendship and love and the heartache that both can bring.

As the title suggests, there is a big secret at the heart of this story. The narration is detailed, telling of the lives of each character, including their flaws and strengths, and the author also describes the harshness of the local environment with the colour a place like Kalgoolie (outback WA) deserves.

I found the clairvoyant skills of two of the characters to be interesting plot device, especially in one scene where the skill is particularly useful in helping Kerry during her time of need.

The story explored the issues surrounding gold mining in the Kalgoorlie region and the government bureaucracy of a small town.

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

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Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Book blurb…

The police say it was suicide.

Anna says it was murder.

They’re both wrong.

One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .

My thoughts…

You won’t see this twist coming. Let Me Lie is a great read that will play with both your mind and your beliefs.

This novel is the kind that is better if you stop to digest the story bit by bit. Not for skimmers! You don’t want to miss the detail. It will make the twist at the end sweeter.

The main character, Anna, has a lot going on in her life.  She has a newborn, her family home at risk from the neighbour’s proposed extensions, and she’s suffering the loss of both parents in separate and tragic circumstances.  If this isn’t enough, she is dealing with questions about how her parents died.

Crucial to the narration is the inclusion of an ex police officer whose job it is to unravel the facts from the past.  I really liked that the author included a backstory for Murray. It’s a sad one but beautifully woven into the plot to ensure Anna gets the closure she needs to move forward.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer

Book Blurb…

Your sister needs you. But her child needs you more… A moving page-turner with a heart-pounding dilemma: Your sister or her baby. Who do you choose? Fans of Jodi Picoult and Jojo Moyes will love Australia’s Kelly Rimmer.

As children, Lexie and Annie were incredibly close. Bonded by the death of their beloved father, they weathered the storms of life together. When Lexie leaves home to follow her dream, Annie is forced to turn to her leather-bound journal as the only place she can confide her deepest secrets and fears…

As adults, sisters Lexie and Annie could not be more different. Lexie is a successful doctor and happily engaged. Annie is an addict – a thief, a liar and unable to remain clean. When Annie’s newborn baby is in danger of being placed in foster care, Annie picks up the phone to beg her sister for help. Will Lexie agree to take in her young niece? And how will Annie survive, losing the only thing in her life worth living for?

My thoughts…

Wow, another great Australian Author.  This is the first Kelly Rimmer book for me. It is so well crafted and researched. Really interesting and lots of ‘unexpected’ in this novel – in a good way.

The plot is mainly told from Lexie’s point of view, however we see the life lived by Annie through a journal.

A fascinating read that informed me as much as it did entertain me. I do love an author who can do both.

A must read for 2018.

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

Published by Hachette Australia

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The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

Book blurb…

Karen Hamilton’s THE PERFECT GIRLFRIEND is a frightening depiction of unbridled obsession, where love and pure hatred grapple on a knife edge.

Juliette loves Nate.  She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline, so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.  The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend.
 And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

My thoughts…

The Perfect Girlfriend is fiction that could easily be fact and given the plot of this psychological thriller THAT concept is terrifying. I was so drawn into the world of the girlfriend and discovering just how entwined love and hate can be. To that end, I remain unsure if this character in this novel loved or hated the man of her dreams.

Written in first person, the author gives us a very good look at the girlfriend’s life and her absolute cunning.

A great read for 2018, but a warning if stalker stories are not your cup of tea.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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Gallery of the Dead by Chris Carter

Book blurb…

‘Thirty-seven years in the force, and if I was allowed to choose just one thing to erase from my mind, what’s inside that room would be it.’

That’s what a LAPD Lieutenant tells Detectives Hunter and Garcia of the Ultra Violent Crimes Unit as they arrive at one of the most shocking crime scenes they have ever attended.

In a completely unexpected turn of events, the detectives find themselves joining forces with the FBI to track down a serial killer whose hunting ground sees no borders; a psychopath who loves what he does because to him murder is much more than just killing – it’s an art form.

Welcome to The Gallery of the Dead.

My thoughts…

I have read the last two Chris Carter books and this one did not disappoint.  Gallery of the Dead is a little confronting, however if you like books about psychopaths then this is the book for you.

Detective Hunter features again and uses his very clever skills to outwit the villain.

The story is written in such a way that the reader is in the moment along for the investigation with the FBI agents. Sometimes this may slow the story down, but if you are into the detail, then it will not be an issue.

Overall a good read.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster (Australia)

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The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Book Blurb…

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.

Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.

But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

My thoughts…

The Women in the Window has been toted as potentially the biggest thriller of 2018.  I was certainly drawn into the story.  The writing style of the story, being in first person and with an unreliable narrator meant, as a reader, I was never sure what the truth was and therefore where the story was going.

I can see why the author and this book is getting mentioned along with the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window.

An ending I did not expect at all.  Certainly put this on your to be read pile if you are into a good mystery/thriller.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harper Collins Australia

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The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

Book blurb…

Cormac Reilly is about to reopen the case that took him twenty years to forget … The stunning debut novel from your new favourite crime writer.

Responding to a call that took him to a decrepit country house, young Garda Cormac Reilly found two silent, neglected children – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lay dead upstairs. Since then Cormac’s had twenty high-flying years working as a detective in Dublin, and he’s come back to Galway for reasons of his own. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him. What ties a recent suicide to that death from so long ago? And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Harper.

My thoughts…

Wow! I have the utmost respect this author. What a mind! What an imagination! She has written a riveting plot that is so deep and with multiple points of view, with differing versions of the truth, that as a reader I was totally hooked from the start. Every page has something to keep me in my seat and reading until one of the most powerful final scenes I’ve read in this genre in a very long time.

There is so much going on in this novel. I read everywhere, every chance I got, desperate to solve the mysteries, both present and past.

The author’s note says she became attached to the main characters. It’s a true indicator of the story telling skill of this author that she transferred that attachment to me.

I loved The Ruin. A TOP READ and surely an award winner in 2018.

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

Published by Harper Collins Australia

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A Place to Remember by Jenn J McLeod

Book Blurb…

A man loses five years of his life. Two women are desperate for him to remember.

Running away for the second time in her life, twenty-seven-year old Ava believes the cook’s job at a country B&B is perfect, until she meets the owner’s son, John Tate. The young fifth-generation grazier is a beguiling blend of both man, boy and a terrible flirt. With their connection immediate and intense, they begin a clandestine affair right under the noses of John’s formidable parents.

Thirty years later, Ava returns to Candlebark Creek with her daughter, Nina, who is determined to meet her mother’s lost love for herself. While struggling to find her own place in the world, Nina discovers an urban myth about a love-struck man, a forgotten engagement ring, and a dinner reservation back in the eighties. Now she must decide if revealing the truth will hurt more than it heals…

My thoughts…

I write this review with some bias; I love this author, I’ve read every book, and her latest novel is a story to remember that will captivate your heart. A Place to Remember is a big novel – a romantic sage that spans three generations. There are some really likeable characters, and as usual, Jenn does antagonists that you want to hate but just can’t help but feel for by the end of the story. (Maybe not all of them!) Of course, her protagonists (a mother and daughter both looking for their place in the world, who find love) are resilient and determined.

You’ll fall in love with Ava and John as they fall in love (in the eighties) and Nina’s story (current day) will make you laugh and cry as she struggles to adapt to the land. Nina’s role is also to uncover an urban myth about a love struck man, a forgotten engagement ring and a dinner reservation back in the eighties.

This is a such a good story. Its almost two love stories in the one book and Jenn’s descriptions of life on the land always give me goosebumps. A Place to Remember is her best yet.

A ‘must read’ for 2018.

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

Published by Head of Zeus

 

Posted in Australian fiction, General fiction - adult, Romance, Women's fiction | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments