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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Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Book blurb…

“An exciting debut from a talented new voice. Girl in Snow is a propulsive mystery set in a suburban community marked by unsettling voyeurism. Danya Kukafka patiently reveals layers of her characters’ inner lives—their ugliness and vulnerabilities—in prose that sparkles and wounds. I couldn’t put this one down.” —Brit Bennett, New York Times bestselling author of The Mothers

An addictive debut thriller about the mysterious death of a small-town golden girl and the secret lives of three people connected to her: the social misfit who loved her from afar, the rebellious girl who despised her, and the policeman investigating her death.

As morning dawns in a sleepy Colorado suburb, a dusting of snow covers high school freshman Lucinda Hayes’s dead body on a playground carousel. As accusations quickly spread, Lucinda’s tragic death draws three outsiders from the shadows.

Oddball Cameron Whitley loved—still loves—Lucinda. Though they’ve hardly ever spoken, and any sensible onlooker would call him Lucinda’s stalker, Cameron is convinced that he knows her better than anyone. Completely untethered by the news of her death, Cameron’s erratic behavior provides the town ample reason to suspect that he’s the killer.

Jade Dixon-Burns hates Lucinda. Lucinda took everything from Jade: her babysitting job, and her best friend. The worst part was Lucinda’s blissful ignorance to the damage she’d wrought.

Officer Russ Fletcher doesn’t know Lucinda, but he knows the kid everyone is talking about, the boy who may have killed her. Cameron Whitley is his ex-partner’s son. Now Russ must take a painful journey through the past to solve Lucinda’s murder and keep a promise he made long ago.

Girl in Snow investigates the razor-sharp line between love and obsession and will thrill fans of Everything I Never Told You and Luckiest Girl Alive.Intoxicating and intense, this is a novel you will not be able to put down.

My thoughts…

I’ve never read a book like this before. A story full of odd people in an odd town filled with dirty secrets. As no one really talks to each other, the narrative is very ‘telling’, but then there is ‘prose’ that makes for an interesting contrast.

Although uniquely told, Girl In Snow is not my kind of narrative. I prefer stories with more dialogue and a deep POV that, for me, makes the characters more relatable and their character arcs/growth stronger and more emotional. But the reviews in the NY times speak very well of the debut novelist. So, I guess its one of those ‘you cant please everyone’ type review scenarios.

That said, it is a very good book, just different and that can be a good thing in today’s market. I have to wonder what sort of mind comes up with this sort of story, which can appear disjointed at times but does actually all come together in the end.

I chose to read it because it was listed as a ‘thriller’. There is a murder, but it’s not a suspenseful thriller. Worth checking out if you like introspection with prose.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Simon and Schuster

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Lie To Me by J. T. Ellison

Book blurb…

Domestic noir at its best.

Readers will devour this stunning page-turner about the disintegration of a marriage as grief, jealousy, betrayal and murder destroy the facade of the perfect literary couple. New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison takes her exceptional writing to a new level with this breakout novel.

They built a life on lies…

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. They seem made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

My thoughts…

Lie to Me will capture you and hold you hostage to the story until The End. And WHAT an ending! This novel has everything you need: lies, jealousy and betrayal.

I loved it, devoured it, and felt for both Sutton and Ethan as their marriage falls apart over the pages.

I also loved the way the Author wrote the story, giving me insight into the evil mind of the perpetrator (narrator). Fabulous. Readers meet this evil narrator several times during the story, brilliantly foreshadowing what is in store for the both Sutton and Ethan.

If you love a thriller to keep you away from your daily chores, this is for you!

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Harlequin (Australia) TEEN / MIRA

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Prodigal Daughter by Jane Carter

Book blurb…

Is there any place like home…?

Twenty years ago, in a hot-headed rage, Diana Crawford left the family farm to build a new life in London. Now, following her husband’s fatal accident and unable to find respite from the barrage of guilt-inducing and heartrending memories at every turn, she runs to the one place she feels Charlie’s ghost can’t follow her: Mog’s Hill, the Crawford farm in New South Wales. There, among the smell of lanolin, the dust of the sheep yards and the beauty of the land, Diana hopes she can regain her strength and put her life, as well as those of her three shell-shocked kids, back on track. But home isn’t as she remembers, and her return cracks open old family wounds.

Stella has longed for her prodigal daughter’s return for years. Now if she can convince Diana to open up and let them back into her heart, she might just be able to keep her grandchildren close by and find the family peace she craves. But Stella already has her hands full trying to hold everything together, and now the Crawford family is a hair’s breadth from shattering forever. Can Stella keep the peace? Can she make Diana see the strength in relying on family, or will Diana leave them behind once again?

‘A heartwarming story of family, love and loss with characters you won’t want to leave.’ — Tricia Stringer, Australian bestselling author.

My thoughts…

Prodigal Daughter was a perfect title for this novel.

This story gave me a glimpse at the difficulties families on the land face, especially deciding how to plan for their children’s future. I enjoyed the authenticity the author brought to the tale in this regard. The novel is a light read with the drama kicking in the latter part of the book when big decisions need to be made and children considered. (Always an emotional element.)

The theme is very much about loss and family and how running away from either simply makes life more complicated.

I particularly enjoyed the contrast between the English winter and the Australian summer on a sheep property.

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

Published by Harlequin (Australia) TEEN / MIRA

Posted in Australian fiction, General fiction - adult | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Brothers and Sisters by Adele O’Neill

Book blurb…

Nothing remains buried forever… What would you do to protect the ones you love?

A gripping, highly emotive story of love, survival, dark family secrets and sibling loyalty. Perfect for the fans of Kathryn Hughes and Dorothy Koomson.

When human remains are found on Fitzpatrick Estate, Detective Kelly is drawn deep into the complex web of Fitzpatrick family secrets as Timothy and his sister Rose, now in their sixties, are catapulted into the centre of the investigation.

When the pathology report identifies the remains as that of their uncle, Patrick Fitzpatrick, missing from Fitzpatrick Estate since 1970, they scramble to protect their past.

What would you do to protect the ones you love?

My thoughts…

This story, Brothers and Sisters, moved me beyond description.  It was powerful, well written, and a book I could barely put down.

I was so engaged with the main characters, Rose and her brother, Tim, that I felt every ordeal they endured. The author’s telling of some unsavoury elements was so cleverly handled that I knew exactly what was happening and how the brother and sister felt about their early lives without the need for shock factor. Brilliant! Totally captivating. Tissues required.

This story’s secrets and lies are bound in a bubble of love that endures the decades. Forty-six years, in fact.

This book should be moved to the top of your to-be-read pile.

This review is also published on Goodreads

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Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Book blurb…

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason: her father was murdered, her mother ran away to join a cult, and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her. Now, Josie has settled in New York with her boyfriend Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past – starting with her last name. Then investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a hit podcast that reopens the case of her father’s murder and Josie’s carefully constructed world begins to unravel. She is forced to return to her hometown where she must confront the lies from her past – as well as those on which she has staked her future.

My thoughts…

I loved everything about Are you Sleeping: the overall plot, the characters, the use of a podcast to facilitate the opinions of the people and direct the investigations is inspired.  I could not stop reading.

The characters had depth and I was at one with the twins emotionally throughout their journey as they come to terms with their fathers murder.

There were times when I wanted to pull the plug on the investigative reporter.  I hated what her podcast and what the associated Twitter feed was doing to the family, but it was the catalyst bringing Josie and Lanie’s relationship to a head. Very clever story telling.

This review is also published on Goodreads

Published by Pan Macmillan

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