Pieces of Her by Karen Slaughter

Book blurb…

‘Slaughter has outdone herself with Pieces of Her – a novel that sets the standard for psychological thriller writing. Rarely in fiction have the past and the present collided with such force and in such a distinctive and compelling voice’ Jeffery Deaver

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

My thoughts…

Karen Slaughter is a prolific writer and one I will seek out in future.  I have not read any of her books before and I believe I have missed many opportunities to be swept away into the world she creates with her stories.

This story captured my attention from the first page and occupied my mind for days.  When you read this story it reminds you to be grateful that you know the family around you.

Or do you????

A great mystery. One that puts you firmly in the protagonist’s place and makes you feel everything she is feeling and wishing you were a part of the puzzle.

This review is also published on Goodreads

 

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The Boy at the Door by Alex Dahl

Book blurb…

What would you do for the perfect life? Would you lie? Would you steal? Would you kill?…

Cecilia Wilborg has the perfect life. A handsome husband, two beautiful daughters and a large house in the picture-postcard town of Sandefjord.

But then Tobias enters her life. He is a small, friendless eight-year-old. And he threatens to bring Cecilia’s world crashing down.

A masterful psychological thriller debut, sure to delight fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train.

My thoughts…

I love a GREAT debut novel because I know there will be another book on the way (hopefully!)

This novel left me thinking long after the last page.

It’s hard to put into words how I feel about the main character, Cecillia.  The author took my emotions on a bit of a rollercoaster ride. Other characters swept in, but I kept swinging back to caring about Cecilia. Such an interesting character and a fabulous plot. Very clever.

I loved The Boy at the Door.

Put this mystery on your to-be-read pile for 2018.

This review is also published on Goodreads

 

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Second Sight by Aoife Clifford

Book blurb…

A fugitive in the present. A runaway in the past.

Eliza Carmody returns home to the country to work on the biggest law case of her career. The only problem is this time she’s on the ‘wrong side’ – defending a large corporation against a bushfire class action by her hometown of Kinsale.

On her first day back Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate that crime and hunt for Luke they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district. Eliza is convinced that they belong to someone from her past.

As Eliza becomes more and more entangled in the investigation, she is pulled back into her memories of youthful friendships and begins to question everyone she knows … and everything she once thought was true.

My thoughts…

This is my second Aoife Clifford novel, the first being, All These Perfect Strangers, published two years ago.

Clifford structured Second Sight in a similar way to her first novel with the story being narrated from the past and then current day. I did enjoy this story. It kept me reading with impatience to finish so I could find out who was behind the fires and the bones that were discovered.

The main character was likeable and I was invested in her quest for the truth and on the edge of my seat when it looked like getting close to home for her.

There were moments when I felt confused due to the number of characters/names in both story threads (past and present). This did not diminish my enjoyment of the story at all, but you will need to concentrate and it’s perhaps not a story you can easily pick up and keep up.

I look forward to more from this author.

This review is also published on Goodreads

The book is published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Nowhere Child by Christian White

Book blurb…

‘Her name is Sammy Went. This photo was taken on her second birthday. Three days later she was gone.’

On a break between teaching photography classes in Melbourne, Kim Leamy is approached by a stranger investigating the disappearance of a little girl from her Kentucky home twenty-eight years earlier. He believes Kim is that girl.

At first she brushes it off, but when Kim scratches the surface of her family history in Australia, questions arise that aren’t easily answered. To find the truth, she must travel to Sammy’s home of Manson, Kentucky, and into a dark past. As the mystery of Sammy’s disappearance unravels and the town’s secrets are revealed, this superb novel builds towards an electrifying climax.

Inspired by Gillian Flynn’s frenetic suspense and Stephen King’s masterful world-building, The Nowhere Child is a combustible tale of trauma, cult, conspiracy and memory. It is the remarkable debut of Christian White, an exhilarating new Australian talent.

My thoughts…

The Nowhere Child is a remarkable debut novel written by Christian White, an Australian author new to me and the plot had me from the beginning.

Skilfully plotted, this is a true page turner that is complex and builds to an ending I did not see coming.

The main character, Kim, is gutsy and her drive to discover the truth was admirable. I was with her on the entire journey.

Structured as alternate time periods, the author rewards readers with carefully-placed clues to keep them intrigued until the end.

A book for the TBR pile for sure.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Book published by Affirm Press

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Liar’s Candle by August Thomas

Book blurb…

In this brilliant debut thriller, set in the US embassy in Turkey, one young woman finds herself at the centre of a deadly plot and marked for death … An intelligent, fast-paced spy novel for fans of Olen Steinhauser and Joseph Kanon.

SHE IS THE WOMAN WHO KNOWS TOO MUCH …

Penny Kessler, a young intern at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, wakes up in a hospital on the morning of July 5th to find herself at the centre of an international crisis. The day before, the Embassy had been the target of a devastating terrorist attack that killed hundreds of Penny’s friends and colleagues. Not only has a photograph of Penny emerging from the rubble become the defining image of the event (#TheGirlwiththeFlag), but for reasons she doesn’t understand, her bosses believe she’s a crucial witness.

Suddenly, everyone is desperately interested in what Penny knows. But what does she know? And who can she trust? As she struggles to piece together her memories of the event, she discovers that Zach Robson, the young diplomat she’s been falling for all summer, went missing during the attack. Now his boss at the CIA, Christina Ekdahl, wants people to believe that Zach was a traitor.

In a race to keep from being killed and to uncover the truth, Penny reluctantly partners with Connor Beauregard, a rookie CIA officer on his first overseas assignment. But the two won’t survive unless they can outwit – and outmaneuver – everyone from the Turkish president and his daughter to Islamic extremists, to the US State Department, to the CIA itself.

My thoughts…

What I enjoyed about this story the most was not knowing who to trust.  Okay, so I guessed who was behind everything, but when Penny is on the ground trying to survive I could not figure out who she should trust.

Zach or Connor?

I did have some trouble with the names of places and the geography, but it looks like the author has done a lot of research to put me in the picture so let’s blame me for this.

Well done, I think!

If you are into spy stories with some action this might be one to consider.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Love That I Have by James Moloney

Book blurb…

‘WINTER CALLS FOR A GOOD BOOK, AND WE’VE FOUND ONE TO RIVAL THE BOOK THIEF’

– The Australian Women’s Weekly

Margot Baumann has left school to take up her sister’s job in the mailroom of a large prison. But this is Germany in 1944, and the prison is Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin.

Margot is shielded from the camp’s brutality as she has no contact with prisoners. But she does handle their mail and, when given a cigarette lighter and told to burn the letters, she is horrified by the callous act she must carry out with her own hands. This is especially painful since her brother was taken prisoner at Stalingrad and her family have had no letters from him. So Margot steals a few letters, intending to send them in secret, only to find herself drawn to their heart-rending words of hope, of despair, and of love.

This is how Margot comes to know Dieter Kleinschmidt – through the beauty and the passion of his letters to his girlfriend.

And since his girlfriend is also named Margot, it is like reading love letters written for her.

From award-winning Australian author James Moloney, comes a fresh and compelling story about love, loss and profound bravery. For fans of The Book Thief, this powerful and heartbreaking story set during WW2 stays with you long after the final page is read.

MORE PRAISE FOR THE LOVE THAT I HAVE:

‘a beautiful, heartbreaking and affecting read. … Definitely one for book club, just don’t forget the tissues.’ – Australian Women’s Weekly

‘a heartbreaking, harrowing and deeply hopeful story … for readers of The Book ThiefThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas‘ – Books+Publishing

‘A compelling and emotionally charged story of young love and survival, bravery and humanity. The closing months of the Second World War in Germany are seen from a surprising and fresh perspective. I was holding back tears from page 72.’ – Shona Martyn, Spectrum Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald

My thoughts…

In the blurb above there is much advance praise from heavy players in the book biz. Having read this story I absolutely understand why.

This heartbreaking tale reminds me how grateful I am to live such a privileged life in Australia.

This story and the characters are so authentically told I was expecting an author’s note at the end to say the plot was based on some fact, or on a piece of history—an important story from the past that needed telling.

There seems to be a growing trend towards this sort of wartime tale. I can only assume from the absence of any author’s note (unless it isn’t included in the ARC copy I received) that the story — a simply beautiful and skilfully plotted novel — is courtesy of the author’s imagination.

Horrific in its war-time setting, the story could not seem more real to me.

The bravery in this story will make you cry, as will the love and devotion that finds its way through the terrible times that existed during the Second World War in Germany.

Thank you, James Moloney, and HarperCollins, for The Love That I Have.

This is a must read if you are at all inclined to historical fiction. I put this story up there with Laren Chater’s The Lace Weaver and Kate Quinn’s The Alice Network.  Don’t stop at one. Read them all. Highly recommended. Could NOT put this latest novel down (except to make coffee, stoke the warming fire, and grab a hot meal and feel grateful! You’ll understand this after you’ve read the novel.)

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harper Collins Australia

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Our House by Louise Candlish

Book blurb…

On a bright morning in the London suburbs, a family moves into the house they’ve just bought on Trinity Avenue. Nothing strange about that. Except it’s your house. And you didn’t sell it.

FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE.

When Fi Lawson arrives home to find strangers moving into her house, she is plunged into terror and confusion. She and her husband Bram have owned their home on Trinity Avenue for years and have no intention of selling. How can this other family possibly think the house is theirs? And why has Bram disappeared when she needs him most?

FOR RICHER, FOR POORER.
Bram has made a catastrophic mistake and now he is paying. Unable to see his wife, his children or his home, he has nothing left but to settle scores. As the nightmare takes grip, both Bram and Fi try to make sense of the events that led to a devastating crime. What has he hidden from her – and what has she hidden from him? And will either survive the chilling truth – that there are far worse things you can lose than your house?

TILL DEATH US DO PART.

My thoughts…

This plot is fascinating and well told, holding my interest until the last page.

That said, I’m not sure the ending was as satisfying as it could have been. It was one of those stories that leaves the reader wondering and, personally, I would have preferred the author tie up the final lose end. (But that’s just me.)

I felt for both Fi and Bram, although they both needed a kick in the backside as far as their relationship style goes.

The plot is one that highlights how doing one morally questionable thing leads, firstly to lies, and then to life spiralling out of control.

While well written, the conflict in the plot could have been resolved with a conversation and I became frustrated with characters that failed to take this opportunity.

Our House is still a good read and worth your precious reading time.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster Australia

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The Accusation by Zosia Wand

Book blurb…

Eve lives in the beautiful Cumbrian town of Tarnside with her husband Neil. After years of trying, and failing, to become parents, they are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. Though she already feels like their daughter, they just have to get through the ‘settling in’ period: three months of living as a family before they can make it official.

But then Eve’s mother, Joan, comes to stay.

Joan has never liked her son-in-law. He isn’t right for Eve; too controlling, too opinionated. She knows Eve has always wanted a family, but is Neil the best man to build one with?

Then Joan uncovers something that could smash Eve’s family to pieces…

My thoughts…

The Accusation is a compelling story about love and control, with a mother and daughter as the lead characters.

I found myself swinging between feeling so much for Eve (the daughter) and her husband, Neil, and then wanting to shake both of them until they realised what was at stake.

The Accusation begins as one of those stories that just cruises along and then – BAM! The plot jumps into another gear.

A good read that may make you think twice about the people and their motives, and question what those who love you really want from your relationship.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Head of Zeus

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Dead Girls by Graeme Cameron

Book blurb…

I may not remember everything, but I know he won’t hurt anyone else.

I won’t let him.

It’s been two months since a serial killer brutally attacked police detective Alisha Green and left her for dead. Two months since she could effortlessly recall simple things, since her mind felt remotely sound. The nameless killer thinks he knows her, thinks she’s just another dead girl among many. Ali Green plans to show him he’s dead wrong about that.

Ali has two enemies now: the dangerous man she’s hunting, and her own failing memory. As explosive new evidence comes to light, and conflicting accounts from a witness and a surviving victim threaten both her investigation and her credibility, she begins to question what is and isn’t real. And now Ali has no choice but to remember the past…before it buries her.

A hypnotically gripping thriller that proves internationally bestselling author Graeme Cameron is one of the most unique voices in contemporary fiction today.

My thoughts…

I enjoyed this thriller and loved being involved in hunting down the killer.

The main character, Ali, is a detective struggling to do her job and she certainly has some challenges to overcome in this story. Ali is a strong female character who hunts down the bad guy.

Dead Girls follows the characters over a two month period and builds to a gripping climax.

This review is also published on Goodreads

 

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The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Ringland

Book blurb…

The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.

An enchanting and captivating novel, about how our untold stories haunt us – and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. 

After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak.

Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run the farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family’s story. In her early twenties, Alice’s life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.

Spanning two decades, set between sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart follows Alice’s unforgettable journey, as she learns that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

‘Lush, powerful … This is an engrossing novel imbued with passion and reverence for the Australian natural world, with a cast of characters that inspire affection in the reader even as they make mistakes. Those who couldn’t put down The Natural Way of Things will find a gentler but no less compelling journey of female survival in this novel.’  Bookseller + Publisher

‘An astonishingly assured debut, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story of love, loss, betrayal and the redemptive power of storytelling … both heartbreaking and life-affirming.’ Kate Forsyth

‘The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a book that glows – in the fire and heart of it; in the wonder and hope of it. Holly Ringland is a gifted, natural story-teller and her novel-about finding magic in the dark; about the power of freedom and the freedom of story-is truly a light-giving, tender thing. A vivid, compelling, utterly moving debut.’ Brooke Davis

“I loved this brave and beautiful book. Alice Hart has the strength and magic of an Australian wildflower in bloom.” Favel Parrett

‘This novel shines with courage, with heart, and with love. Infused with a tender ferocity, and the beauty and warmth of native flowers, it invokes great stories of loss, kindness and home.’ Ashley Hay

‘The best fairy tales traverse the darkest corners of the human heart, and this beautiful novel is no exception. Truth and illusion, devastation and triumph, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart will spit you out whole.’ Myfanwy Jones

My thoughts…

Well, high praise indeed, according to these advance reviews. But, what might the ‘average’ reader (me) make of this novel?

I sit in the middle of the glowing and the not so good.

I enjoyed most of the book. I thought it original and interesting (until I read reviews that referred to similarities to another book titled, The Language of Flowers).

The plot certainly deals with a dark topic and the use of flowers is significant and helps add some light, but as the book went on I found the overuse of the flowers (and the dictionary) more an interruption.

I love reading stories about strong women. I didn’t t feel the character delivered. Alice’s decisions are not necessarily in her best interest.  I would have also liked a little more rounding off and tying up of threads. The story seems rushed at the end.  I got to know characters that were left behind without resolution for me.

This novel is an interesting one to recommend.

*spoiler*

The ending was neither happy, nor was it devastating. I didn’t feel anything other than glad I’d finished. I can’t help but wonder if a happy ending (which I would have liked) would have bumped this book out of the coveted ‘literary’ genre???

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harper Collins Australia

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