Lizzy Chandler's debut novel, Snowy River Man, is an engaging contemporary romance, with an edge of suspense, set in rural Australia.
Katrina Delaney Lizzy Chandler's debut novel, Snowy River Man, is an engaging contemporary romance, with an edge of suspense, set in rural Australia.
Katrina Delaney is stunned when she learns that the lost and frightened child she has seen in her dream is Jack Fairley's son. Seven years ago she and Jack spent a single passionate night together, only for everything to fall apart the morning after. Jack Fairley is frantic when his young son disappears while at a rodeo, seemingly without a trace, and he is willing to do anything to ensure his safe return, even if that means accepting the help of Katrina Delaney. Though wary of their history, Katrina and Jack are determined to put aside their differences in order to ensure Nick's safe recovery but in saving the lost boy, they just may lose their hearts.
I really like the bones of the story, for such a short novel (just 165 pages) the author has developed a well layered plot, even if several elements seem somewhat truncated. The main conflicts expose personal and professional betrayal and shocking family secrets providing plenty of dramatic tension. The suspense is well crafted and nicely paced.
Katrina is an interesting character, only recently having found some sense of equilibrium after enduring several difficult years related to a tragic loss and the intrusiveness of her psychic gift, it's brave of her to offer Jack her help, knowing she could be opening herself up to more pain. Jack is a fairly typical leading man for the genre, he has made mistakes but in general is kind and honourable. He is a loving father and a savvy businessman though it's his rugged farming persona that I found most appealing.(I have to mention too, I am a fan of the cover model representing him - yum!) The chemistry between Katrina and Jack is portrayed well, their simmering attraction, complicated by the past, eventually boils over in a sensual scene.
I must admit I wish the author had chosen to exploit the story's potential and developed Snowy River Man into a full length novel but it is a quick, engaging read offering an appealing tale of love, betrayal, forgiveness and family.
I've been curious about Adrian McKinty's work for a while. Though born and raised in Ireland, McKinty now lives in Australia, allowing us to claim him I've been curious about Adrian McKinty's work for a while. Though born and raised in Ireland, McKinty now lives in Australia, allowing us to claim him as one of our own. Despite my dislike of starting a series in the middle, so to speak, I couldn't resist the lure of Gun Street Girl, the fourth book in his gritty police procedural series featuring Sean Duffy, an Irish Catholic Detective Inspector in Northern Ireland during the mid 1980's.
It's a busy night for Detective Inspector Duffy who, after observing a multi-agency midnight raid on some gun runners which goes spectacularly wrong, is not long home when he is called out to deal first with a sensitive situation in a local whorehouse and then a double homicide just inside the border of their RUC district. A wealthy couple has been shot dead while watching the TV, and Detective Sergeant McCrabban is eager to take on the case. The scene seems straightforward, the dead couple's missing twenty-two year old son determined to be the likely perpetrator, but it soon becomes clear that this investigation will be anything but simple and Duffy finds himself chasing missing missiles, gun dealers and a clever assassin.
Duffy is a complex guy, a cop who believes in justice but is cynical about the law. He is not above breaking the rules, enjoying the occasional snort of cocaine and regularly circumventing the chain of command, but he clearly prioritises the truth over diplomacy or procedure. His failure to play by the 'rules', and the fact that he is one of the few Catholics amidst an overwhelmingly Protestant police force, means he will likely never rise any higher.
Th plot is well crafted with several layers, though I didn't really feel like it offered any surprises. I did appreciate that Duffy, with the help of McCrabban and Lawson, has to really work the case to get the answers he needs. The investigation is thorough but never tedious and enhanced by the story's subplots.
Set against the background of 'The Troubles' and referencing real events, the story is particularly well grounded in time and place. I love that Duffy's house is McKinty's childhood home in Carrickfergus, and though I'm not really a fan, music lovers may enjoy constructing their own playlists from Duffy's preferences.
" The heat was over, along with summer. They walked the dunes in a flush of new shyness, talking of the beginning of their last year of high school."
" The heat was over, along with summer. They walked the dunes in a flush of new shyness, talking of the beginning of their last year of high school."
Rose and Michael have just had sex for the first time, they are in love and shyly thrilled with their new intimacy. In the heat of the moment they forgot to use a condom, just twice, but as each others first, Michael's older brother assures him, at least they don't have to worry about disease. Two months later, Rose counts the days in her student diary - her period is 61 days late and a pregnancy test, obtained by her best friend Liz, shows two bold pink lines.
"'I've worked it out. We won't tell anyone. No one could help us anyway. I can hide it. It's not real....These things go away all the time.'"
With compassionate insight, Australian author Dianne Touchell explores Rose and Michael's responses to their unplanned pregnancy in A Small Madness. Ill-equipped to deal with the reality of their situation, Rose and Michael take refuge in denial that only grows deeper as time passes, leading to horrendous consequences.
Rose and Michael are 'good kids' from middle class families who regularly attend church, gets good grades and have plans for their future. I can't profess to understand their behaviour, but I feel that Touchell communicated her characters rationalisations well and my sympathy was stirred for both characters despite their egregious mistakes.
"She was a good person. And she was as genuinely appalled as everyone else by speculative descriptions of the monster who must have done this dreadful thing in the bush. Because it wasn't her."
The premise of A Touch of Madness may seem far fetched to some, but it was inspired by an American case reported in the media. I was curious to know just how common Rose's denial of her pregnancy is. I was quite stunned to learn that it happens in about 1 in 2,500 cases, and less than half the instances involve teenagers.
An emotionally powerful and provocative cautionary tale for both young adults and their parents, A Small Madness is beautifully written examination of a complex issue....more
A warm hearted story of family, motherhood and midwifery, The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth features three generations of women - Neva, Grace, A warm hearted story of family, motherhood and midwifery, The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth features three generations of women - Neva, Grace, and Floss.
"I suppose you could say I was born to be a midwife. Three generations of women in my family had devoted their lies to bringing babies into the world; the work was in my blood. But my path wasn’t so obvious as that. I wasn’t my mother—a basket-wearing hippie who rejoiced in the magic of new, precious life. I wasn’t my grandmother—wise, no nonsense, with a strong belief in the power of natural birth. I didn’t even particularly like babies. No, for me, the decision to become a midwife had nothing to do with babies. And everything to do with mothers."
As the narrative unfolds from the alternating perspectives of each woman, it is revealed that they each hold a secret. Neva has successfully hidden her pregnancy for 30 weeks and now that she no longer can, refuses to divulge the identity of the father, her mother, Grace, is struggling both personally and professionally, and Floss, the family matriarch, is increasingly anxious about the repercussions for both her daughter and granddaughter, of a choice she made years before.
Though the plot is fairly predictable and lacks any real sense of depth, The Secrets of Midwives is an engaging read. The drama generated by the women's secrets is fairly low key, there is never really any doubt that things will work out, and their issues are resolved quite neatly by the end of the book. I'm a sucker for birth stories so I particularly enjoyed the midwifery angle. I was a little worried that Hepworth may have had a 'natural birth' agenda but she presents a fairly balanced view that favours choice for the mother.
The characters are easy to relate to and generally believable. I thought the dynamics between the three women were well drawn, particularly between Neva and Grace whose relationship is loving but complicated, simply because they are very different people. Grace is probably the most nuanced of the three characters, but it was Floss, and her story, that I found most interesting.
An easy and amiable novel, I found The Secrets of Midwives to be a pleasant and satisfying read....more
A quirky tale with a hint of magical realism, Lisa Walker's third novel, 'Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing' is the story of one woman's search A quirky tale with a hint of magical realism, Lisa Walker's third novel, 'Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing' is the story of one woman's search for all the things she has lost....including herself.
“I am forty-one years old but perhaps it is possible … Can my life begin again?”
A year ago, Arkie Douglas's life fell apart. Her husband left her when Arkie confessed to an affair, and shortly after her business failed, her trend forecasting mojo having deserted her. It's New Year's Eve and Arkie is waiting on a deserted platform in Byron Bay planning to throw herself under the next passing train when a young Japanese woman carrying a briefcase and a surfboard, strikes up a conversation. Despite herself, Arkie is intrigued by Haruko Iida and excited when she recognises her own brand of trend spotting magic in the twenty year old. Abandoning her plans for suicide, Arkie convinces Haruko to work with her, hoping to recover her career.
"Pilgrimages are so hot right now. I think they are the Next Big Thing."
The idea is Haruko's, suggesting society is ready for a resurgence of spirituality, self discovery and simplicity. Arkie enthusiastically embraces the idea but traveling to Japan is out of the question, so instead she proposes a journey closer to home, a pilgrimage to Australia's 'Big Things'. Traveling by train, bus and on foot, while avoiding the Yakuza and Arkie's ex husband's divorce lawyer, Arkie and Haruko set out their unusual pilgrimage in search of the Next Big Thing.
From the Big Redback Spider, to the Big Banana and the Big Prawn, Arkie and Haruko look past the peeling paint and wire fences to find the beauty and meaning in the outsized icons. Their adventure is blessed by the Shinto Gods and smiling Buddha's found in unlikely places, but they face challenges on the 'yellow brick road' along the way. Arkie in particular is forced to reflect on the root causes of her present unhappiness and look closer to home for fulfilment . I enjoyed traveling to the Big Things with Arkie and Haruko, I have visited a few in my time. In fact the town where I live is home to The Big Oyster. It was once a restaurant, housing a roadside cafe underneath for highway travellers heading North, but the bypass forced its closure and the site was redeveloped, so now the Big Oyster is empty, presiding over a car dealership.
Truthfully Arkie doesn't engender a lot of sympathy, she is self absorbed and a confessed adulterer, but I could sort of relate to the questions she is struggling with. Her life has imploded and she is lost, looking for a way to regain her equilibrium. Haruko is an unlikely spiritual guide in the guise of a quirky, hip Japanese girl. An enigmatic character with an ethereal quality, she is self possessed with a talent for reinventing herself.
Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing is an offbeat, sometimes surreal, contemporary novel that will have you reminiscing about your last visit to one of Australia's 'Big Things' and perhaps yearning for your own spiritual road-trip.
Crushed when she discovers her live in boyfriend of three years has been having an affair, ICU nurse Kate Kennedy packs up her belongings and desperat Crushed when she discovers her live in boyfriend of three years has been having an affair, ICU nurse Kate Kennedy packs up her belongings and desperate to move on, impulsively accepts a position at a hospital in the small country town of Birrangulla, five hours west of Sydney. Everything seems to be falling into place, she's found the perfect job, the perfect home, and in search of the the perfect cup of coffee, may just have found the perfect man, but
Intensive Care is a contemporary rural medical romance in which the author, Nicki Edwards, draws on her love of country Australia and her personal nursing experience.
I found Kate to be a bit of a passive-aggressive character. There is a lot of emphasis on her dislike of confrontation but I thought she was often over sensitive, snappish and impatient. I understood her avoidance of her cheating boyfriend Marcus, especially as more details about their relationship were revealed, and sympathised with her feelings of hurt and betrayal. And while I admired Kate's professional compassion for her patients, her reaction to Joel's sister's concerns bothered me, she didn't demonstrate a lot of understanding for the younger woman's fears.
Taking place over the period of about a year the romance between Kate and Joel develops slowly. Though they both have good reasons to be wary of beginning a new relationship, I found their chemistry a bit lacking. Joel in particularly seems disinterested much of the time while Kate tries to force the issue, which was slightly discomfiting.
Joel, with his Irish accent, coffee making genius, and handyman skills, is an appealing hero, made more so by his tragic past. Though perhaps a little passive for my taste, I found him sweet and charming.
A blend of medical drama, and rural romance, Intensive Care is a pleasant novel which should appeal to fans of both genres....more
Emergence is a darkly funny, action packed fantasy adventure from Australian author John Birmingham.
An oil rig off of the coast of New Orleans is und Emergence is a darkly funny, action packed fantasy adventure from Australian author John Birmingham.
An oil rig off of the coast of New Orleans is under attack, not from terrorists, but from a group of terrifying monsters who have clawed their way up from the deep. Dave Hooper, the rig's safety engineer, is hungover and pissed when he finds a hairless, scabrous ape like creature that calls itself a Hunn snacking on the ribcage of his best mate and in a fit of rage crushes its skull with a splitting maul. Hours later he wakes in hospital and discovers his battle with the monster has somehow triggered super hero like abilities... and now Dave must save the world.
Dave Hooper is an anti-hero, who works hard but plays even harder. He takes his job seriously but he spends his downtime partying with hookers and blow, dodging the IRS and calls from his wife's divorce attorney. He is a lousy father with a crude vocabulary and politically incorrect opinions. Dave is not a man you could expect to count on, but the world it seems will have little choice.
The fast paced, explosive action sees the military struggling against the frenzied attack of an advance troop of Hunn as they storm their way through the tears in the veil and set upon New Orleans unprepared citizens. It has been centuries since the Hunn last roamed the earth and they don't expect any resistance from mankind so they are dismissive of what they encounter, for though armed only with primitive weapons and basic armour, the Hunn possess enormous strength, speed and thick hides. As New Orleans threatens to become overrun by the man eating demons, Dave is forced to step up and vanquish the Hunn back to the Underworld.
Emergence won't appeal to everyone but I found it richly imaginative, hugely entertaining and inappropriately hilarious. I'm looking forward to Dave Hooper's next adventure in Resistance...more