The List by Michael Brissenden

Book blurb…

Revenge and the war on terror collide.

Sidney Allen is a Fed. Part of the Australian Federal Police’s K block, a unit doing whatever it takes in order to stop terrorist attacks on home soil.

But when young Muslim men on the Terror Watchlist start turning up dead, Sid and his partner, Haifa, have to work out what’s going on.

Sectarian war? Drugs? Retribution? For Sid, there’s nothing unclear about a bullet to the head and a severed hand. Someone is sending a message.

Deciphering that message reveals a much wider threat and Sid and the agency have to decide just how far they’ll go to prevent a deadly attack.

Time is running out … for them and Australia.

My thoughts…

This plot is quite confronting with regard to the possible future of terrorism in this country.  Whilst I know it is fiction and these subjects should be discussed, I wonder if by putting these atrocities out there we might be inviting people to see these terror plots as real possibilities. It happens in both book and crime shows on TV, I know, but this was a little too real for me. The author has kind of done the job of planning an attack for them!

Both Sid and Haifa seem to carry their own share of baggage with them whilst they are investigating the killings. So much so, I found myself wondering why they were working for the AFP’s K block, as neither seem to be happy in their work!

I did get a little lost at stages in the story when I felt like the narrator was ‘teaching’ me about terrorism and the Muslim cultural connections in Sydney.  I did not like the way the Prime Minister is portrayed in such a negative light.

Overall, a lot of conflict that ultimately comes to a head and I guess the bad guys get everything they deserve, or do they? The author leaves this open.

This review is also on Goodreads

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Friend Request by Laura Marshall

Book blurb…

When Louise Williams receives a message from someone left long in the past she feels sick.Maria Weston wants to be friends on Facebook.Because Maria Weston has been missing for over twenty-five years. She was last seen the night of a school leavers’ party, and the world believes her to be dead. Particularly Louise, who has lived her adult life knowing herself responsible for Maria’s disappearance. But now Maria is back. Or is she?

As Maria’s messages start to escalate, Louise forces herself to reconnect with the old friends she once tried so hard to impress, to try to piece together exactly what happened that fateful night. But when another friend’s body turns up in the woods outside their old school, Louise realises she can’t trust anyone and that she must confront her own awful secret to discover the whole truth of what happened to Maria . . .

My thoughts…

This is a story that at its core is bullying and manipulation.  The life Louise lives is based on guilt and a lack of belief in herself from her school years right through to the choices she makes during her adult life.

Overall, a great read that will keep you wondering who is behind the Friend Request: an old school friend (I use that term loosely) or a dead school friend.  I did not have a clue until I was ninety percent through the story.

I would not have thought this book to be a debut novel.  It was so well plotted and paced.

I would recommend this to you if you like a thriller (but maybe not is you use Facebook!!)

This review is also on Goodreads


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The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

Book blurb…

The life she wanted wasn’t hers . . . The compelling new psychological thriller that will break your heart into tiny pieces, from world-renowned author Michael Robotham.

Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it’s Meghan Shaughnessy’s.

These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common – a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.

Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

My thoughts…

Michael Robotham has written a compelling psychological thriller that will have you reading into the small hours of the morning. This story was full of tension and I devoured it, desperate to know where it was going.

I loved the two points of view and I was drawn into each character’s life.  Both Agatha and Meghan have secrets and for Meghan it’s a question of what direction her life will take after Agatha enters the picture.

An intriguing plot that weaves the lives of these two women together and has you wondering if good or evil will prevail.

The Secrets She Keeps is highly recommended but is devastatingly close to real life.

This review is also on Goodreads

This book is published by Hachette Australia

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Wimmera by Mark Brandi

Book blurb…


An unforgettable debut that brings the darkness in an Australian country town vividly to life, as it slowly reveals its devastating secrets.

In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab’s dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben’s next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man’s shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab’s dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can’t ignore the past any more.

WIMMERA is the 2016 Winner of the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger (UK).

My thoughts…

I knew this book would haunt me from the beginning, I just did not comprehend how or why.  Now I know!

The language (very strong – a male point of view, including that of an adolescent boy) was an issue for me in the beginning, but I fell into the story and still enjoyed the read. (If ‘enjoy’ can be used with the themes in this tale!!) The subject matter is dark but sometimes such matters must be discussed and fiction is a safe place to do that.

The Author handled the revelations of the two boys very well, leaving the reader to interpret the behaviours and actions without having to be too explicit.

Congratulations to this debut Australian author, Mark Brandi.  This well-plotted tale lets the reader see how evil can be so pervasive and affect the lives of innocent children, but also how true friendship can alter your life forever.

If you like reading stories that will stay with you for days, put this onto you’re to be read list.

This review is also on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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The Good Teacher by Richard Anderson

Book blurb…

A sensible small town. An accident and a secret. They say a good teacher is hard to find …

Stony Creek is a quiet farming community where good manners, good will and fairness must be upheld at all costs. No one embodies these values more than married P&C president, Jennifer Booth. Though her only child is long graduated from Stony Creek Primary School (one teacher plus casuals), Jennifer prides herself on leading by example. But when she has passionate, unexpected sex with the new principal, Brock Kelly, just before a P&C meeting, on his office desk, no one is more surprised than she. And when an accident at the school looks like sabotage, then they’ve really got trouble on their hands.

Fellow committee member Sarah Howard, gifted with a highly developed intuition, takes one look at the guilty parties and knows her children’s futures are in jeopardy. Everyone always says that a child’s education should not be compromised and nothing about this scandal will end well for the school, the teacher or the community. Does disaster loom for Stony Creek?

My thoughts…

It’s impossible to put some books down, especially those so full of characters who have moral compasses so utterly out of whack. I was totally hooked by The Good Teacher and was gob smacked at how deceitful the people in this town could be.

The Good Teacher is not a big book and don’t expect me to mention the amazing descriptions of the town or the landscape because if there was any such detail I was too sucked into the characters’ lives to notice. I saw nothing other than what the narrator wanted me to see and I read well into the night because I could NOT put this story down.

A great read. Lots of lessons to learn from The Good Teacher!!

This review is also on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Beneath the Parisian Skies by Alli Sinclair

Book blurb…

A sweeping saga about love, truth, grief and passion — and what it takes to fulfil a dream.

Paris, 1917

Ballerina Viktoriya Budian narrowly escapes Russia with her life. She arrives in Paris determined to start afresh with the famed Ballets Russes but her newfound success is threatened when her past returns to haunt her. Forced to choose between love and fame, Viktoriya’s life spirals out of control and the decision she makes seriously affects the lives of many for years to come.

Paris, present day

Australian dancer Lily Johansson returns to Paris, the city that broke her heart and destroyed her ballet career, hoping to ease the guilt over her fiancé’s death and to make amends with her estranged sister, Natalie, a ballerina with the Bohème Ballet. Terrified of loving again, Lily nevertheless finds herself becoming entangled with talented composer Yves Rousseau.

Meanwhile, vying for the role honouring Viktoriya Budian, Lily’s sister Natalie develops an unhealthy obsession. As Natalie’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic, Lily fears for her sister’s safety and sanity. When Natalie goes missing, Lil and Yves set out on a desperate quest across France to find her and, along the way, battle their own demons.

Could the search for her sister lead Lily to realise that ballet — like love and life — should not be abandoned so easily?

My thoughts…

I loved being swept up into the world of ballet, especially under Parisian Skies!

This story is told over two time periods and I was particularly taken with the 1917 story thread and the struggles these characters endured. It’s not hard to fall in love with characters when they are strong but vulnerable at the same time. The present day characters have lessons to learn in order to grow.  Sometimes life’s lessons are too hard and Lily, Natalie and Yves certainly have challenges.

The author’s passion for dance blends with beautiful storytelling to make this a compelling tale of love.

This book has also been reviewed on Goodreads and also placed on Australian Women Writers Challenge

Published by Harlequin (Australia)

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Monster In The Closet (The Baltimore Series Book 5) by Karen Rose

Book blurb…

A mother is dead, and now her killer hunts the child that witnessed the brutal crime…

Private Investigator Clay Maynard locates missing children for clients, but has nearly given up hope of finding his own daughter, cruelly stolen from him by his ex-wife twenty-three years ago.

Equine therapist Taylor Dawson has chosen to intern at Daphne Montgomery-Carter’s stables so that she can observe the program’s security director – her father, Clay Maynard. Trying to reconcile the wonderful man she’s getting to know with the monster her mother always described, Taylor never expects to become the target of a real monster, the man who murdered the mother of the little girls she works with at the stable. Neither does she expect to fall for Ford Elkhart, Daphne’s handsome son, who is dealing with his own demons. As family and friends gather for a wedding, Taylor starts to imagine a permanent life in Baltimore.

My thoughts…

The writing, in particular the special bond that builds and the reconnection had me a blubbering mess, and not a third of the way into the book! I loved all the characters in this story with one exception! You will have to read the story to know who this is! And Taylor is a character that any reader will love, simply because she is strong, capable, but also vulnerable.

The father/daughter relationships tugged at my heartstrings more than once as I read, bumping this novel up into ‘page-turner’ category.

This story is well worth your precious reading time.

Review also posted on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Book blurb…

 ‘If you only read one thriller this year, make it The Marsh King’s Daughter. It’s sensational’ CLARE MACKINTOSH The suspense thriller of the year – The Marsh King’s Daughter will captivate you from the start and chill you to the bone.

‘I was born two years into my mother’s captivity. She was three weeks shy of seventeen. If I had known then what I do now, things would have been a lot different. I would have been a lot more understanding of my mother. I wouldn’t have adored my father.’

When the notorious child abductor known as the Marsh King escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

My thoughts…

Wow, wow and wow! This story will hold you captive until the end. I loved the use of the Hans Christen’s tale of the same name. Brilliant!

The Marsh King’s Daughter is the kind of story that lingers long after the last page is read. Even though it is fiction, this story is so powerful and so well told I was left wondering about some real-life abduction cases and what makes a person capable of such appalling cruelty to another human being.

Little else to be said about this story other than if this type of plotline/thriller interests you, the Marsh King’s Daughter will not disappoint.

Review also posted on Goodreads

Published by Hachette Australia

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The Lake and the Lost Girl by Jacquelyn Vincenta

Book blurb…

An intricately plotted debut about love, obsession, and the destruction of a family from the inside out.

When Frank’s single-minded pursuit for Mary’s lost poems puts his family in jeopardy, Lydia throws herself into the mystery, hoping to solve it and bring peace back to her home. But as Lydia begins investigating, her son takes action with a plan of his own…one that will bring the family to a breaking point and change Lydia’s destiny forever.

It’s 1999 in White Hill, Michigan, and Lydia Carroll’s husband is in love with a dead woman. English Professor Frank Carroll has invested years searching for the lost works of local poet Mary Stone Walker, whose mysterious disappearance in 1939 is only rivaled by the beautiful words she left behind.

My thoughts…

This book fascinated me from beginning to end – mysterious, mesmeric, and marvelous storytelling that shows how easily a family can destroy itself once obsession and disrespect enter a relationship.

Told predominantly in current day with glimpses from Mary’s life sixty years earlier. We get an understanding of the how she lived and suffered in her marriage. The story is well plotted and easy to follow.

I look forward to future novels by Jacquelyn Vincent.

The review is also published on Goodreads

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The Switch by Joseph Finder

Book blurb…

Michael Tanner is heading home from a business trip when he accidentally picks up the wrong laptop from security. What he doesn’t know is that the owner is US senator Susan Robbins, and her laptop contains top secret files that should never have been on there in the first place.

And Senator Robbins is not the only one who wants the laptop back… Suddenly, Tanner is a hunted man. On the run, terrified for the safety of his family – he is in desperate need of a plan – but who can he trust?

My thoughts…

LISA GARDNER described The Switch as “Completely original, emotionally satisfying, expertly twisted. The thriller to read this year.”

I could not agree more.  I loved everything about his book: the plot, the characters and how the suspense forced me to keep reading. This is a genuine page turner, extraordinarily plotted, and that ending…? Inspired. Love, love loved it.

I have not read any stories by Joseph Finder before but be assured I will read him again.

If you like reading thrillers, make sure this one goes on your to be read pile.

This review has been placed on Goodreads


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