The Perfumer's Secret is Fiona McIntosh's seventh historical tale of romance. Set in the Provence region of France during World War 1, it's a story of The Perfumer's Secret is Fiona McIntosh's seventh historical tale of romance. Set in the Provence region of France during World War 1, it's a story of duty, secrets, love, family and perfume.
Dramatic and romantic, the plot of The Perfumer's Secret centers around Fleurette Delacroix. To secure the futures of Grasse's eminent perfumery dynasties, Fleurette is forced to wed Aimery De Lasset by her eldest brother, Henri. Though resigned to her fate, it's a relief when war is declared before the marriage is consummated and De Lasset rides off to join the French troops marching against the invasion of Germany. With the men, including Fleurette's brother away at war, it is left to her to ensure that both family business continue to flourish, a challenge she is more than capable of, for Fleurette has 'the nose', a rare ability to distinguish over 3000 scents. But when Fleurette's husband's estranged brother, Sebastien De Lasset, appears in Grasse, he carries a secret that could destroy everything both families have built, and break Fleurette's heart.
Fleurette is a lovely character, from the first pages she demonstrates spirit, courage and patience, and continues to mature over the course of the novel. Given the era she has few options when Henri insists she marries Aimery, but she doesn't let it dampen her hopes that she will find a place in the family business, and she copes admirably with the scandal and tragedy that befalls her. Aimery is an uncomplicated villain, arrogant, boorish and misogynistic, while Sebastien is a traditional heroic character. The romance that develops between Fleurette and Sebastien is easy to root for.
McIntosh's deftly weaves historical fact into her fiction. The story is meticulously researched, in terms of location, period and the specifics of the perfumery industry. McIntosh describes the study she undertook in the back of the book, spending time in Grasse, interviewing perfumers, visiting museums, and creating a signature scent. I don't wear perfume (my husband is allergic) but I still found learning about its production and scents interesting.
An easy, engaging and pleasant read, The Perfumer's Secret is a grand historical love story ideal for francophiles and romantics. ...more
Prick With a Fork is a funny, lighthearted expose of the food industry from the point of view of a disenchanted waitress turned restaurant critic.
Fro Prick With a Fork is a funny, lighthearted expose of the food industry from the point of view of a disenchanted waitress turned restaurant critic.
From almost killing a stripper with a wayward steak knife to staging go slow's to frustrate obnoxious customers, Larissa Dubecki claims she was the world's worst waitress, unashamedly sullen, insolent, disinterested, and often hungover, yet she spent over a decade waitering in everything from cyber cafe's to gastro pubs throughout Melbourne.
In Prick with a Fork, Dubecki details working with psychopathic chefs, hostile customers, drug addled colleagues and bartenders on the take and reveals insider secrets about illicit trysts in coolrooms, cash hidden under registers, and unpleasant uses for carrots. Her anecdotes are hilarious, though often slightly nauseating, you may never be able look your waiter in the eye again.
Salted with confessions and peppered with pathos, Prick with a Fork is a light and entertaining read. ...more
Swimming Home is the sixth novel by Mary-Rose MacColl, her previous book In Falling Snow was a favourite read of mine in 2012.
Exploring the themes of Swimming Home is the sixth novel by Mary-Rose MacColl, her previous book In Falling Snow was a favourite read of mine in 2012.
Exploring the themes of family, belonging, regret, and redemption, Swimming Home is a gracious and engaging novel.
When fifteen year old Catherine is orphaned, her aunt, Dr Louisa Quick, insists she abandons her idyllic island home in the Torres Strait and move with her to London. An independent and busy surgeon, Louisa is determined to provide her niece with the opportunity to become a well educated and successful young lady, but Catherine is miserable in her exclusive day school, missing the warmth of her Islander family, and the ocean. It's not until Catherine swims the width of the Thames on a dare and Louisa is approached by the enigmatic banker Manfred Lear Black, that she reconsiders her plans for her niece.
As a doctor, Louisa is intelligent and confident, but she struggles to relate to her niece and, uncomfortable with emotion, she makes some poor decisions when it comes to seeing to Catherine's well being. Though there is no malice intended, Louisa's actions have far reaching consequences and she suffers a crisis of conscience as the novel progresses. Louisa is not a particularly likeable character at times but I think MacColl portrays her well, and I was sympathetic to her flaws.
Catherine is resigned to her new life in London and wants to please her aunt, but she is lonely and homesick. Having spent almost everyday of her life swimming in the ocean, she jumps at the chance to swim to under Manfred Lear Black's patronage in New York. I felt for Catherine, whose loving and idyllic childhood came to such an abrupt end. She is remarkably stoic, but her longing is palpable and she obviously feels out of place, London contrasts sharply with her island home, as does the New York 'tanks' to her beloved ocean.
There are two subtle threads of mystery that run through the story, and a few surprises in the plot though Swimming Home progresses at a measured pace. What action there is stems largely from the Black's determination that Catherine will be the first woman to swim the breadth of the English Channel. MacColl weaves fiction with fact as she writes of Catherine's competitors, including Gertrude Ederle who was the first woman to swim the channel in 1926 and I enjoyed learning something about the birth of competitive swimming for women.
Set in an interesting period, with complex characters and a thoughtful story, Swimming Home is a finely written, poignant and pensive, but ultimately uplifting novel.
Is This My Beautiful Life? is the memoir of Jessica Rowe, best known as an Australian television news presenter, and ambassador for the organisation b Is This My Beautiful Life? is the memoir of Jessica Rowe, best known as an Australian television news presenter, and ambassador for the organisation beyondblue.
Jessica Rowe writes candidly about her unsettled childhood as a result of her mother's bipolar disorder, her legal battle with network Ten, the hurtful criticism leveled at her by the public and media, the loss of her job at Channel Nine, and her struggle to conceive via IVF. But it is her battle with post natal depression after the birth of her first child with 60 minutes journalist Peter Overton, that is the focus of this memoir.
Challenged by breastfeeding, uncertain about her instincts as a mother, and exhausted by the demands of a newborn, Jessica found herself overwhelmed. She is honest and open about being unable to admit to her increasing distress. She writes of her fears of developing a mental illness like her mother, of her feelings of failure, and her reluctance to reach out for help, despite the support of her husband and family.
Offering encouragement, sympathy and comfort to women who may find themselves struggling with 'having it all', Is This My Beautiful Life? is an open and touching read, addressing an important subject that affects around 1 in 7 Australian women.
The Saddler Boys is another delightfully engaging rural romance from Australian author Fiona Palmer.
Natalie Wright is excited about taking up her firs The Saddler Boys is another delightfully engaging rural romance from Australian author Fiona Palmer.
Natalie Wright is excited about taking up her first teaching position in the remote farming community of Lake Biddy, and is determined to make the most of a years freedom from her parent's expectations. Welcomed by the locals despite her city ways Nat quickly falls in love with Lake Biddy and her adorable young charges, particularly shy and sweet Billy Saddler.
The development of the relationship between Natalie and single dad Drew Saddler is charming. It begins as a friendship sparked by Billy's admiration for Nat, and her interest in understanding what farming entails but the attraction between the two is quickly evident, even as they both try to deny it. The relationship is of course complicated by Natalie's engagement to Gary, whose character contrasts sharply with Drew's.
Additional drama develops as the government announces its intention to shut down Lake Biddy primary school, Billy's mother, who abandoned him as a newborn reappears demanding contact with her son, and Gary grows increasingly impatient with Natalie's desire for independence. These subplots all add a frisson of tension to the story, and depth by touching on topical issues such as regional school closures, drug abuse, and domestic violence.
While I really liked the wonderful characterisations of Natalie, Drew and Billy, I also loved the authentic feeling of community Palmer evokes in The Saddler Boys as the residents rally against the school closure and attend the raucous P&C fundraisers. She captures the generosity of country neighbours as Doris drops off Tupperware containers full of food, and friends trade babysitting duties during harvest and seeding.
Written with warmth, humour and spirit, The Saddler Boys is an lovely read about belonging, family, and love....more
The Patterson Girls is Rachael Johns first foray into general contemporary fiction, though she doesn't stray far from her literary roots in rural roma The Patterson Girls is Rachael Johns first foray into general contemporary fiction, though she doesn't stray far from her literary roots in rural romance.
The titular Patterson girls, obstetrician Madeleine, wife and teacher Lucy, professional violinist Abigail, and Charlotte, the self described under achiever, have come home to spend Christmas with their recently widowed father. Keenly feeling their mothers absence, none of them are surprised when he announces his plan to sell the family motel and willingly agree to help clear out their mothers things. As the sisters rummage through their mother's keepsakes, reminiscing over old photos, fashion and jewelry, their curiosity is piqued when they discover a reference to a Patterson curse. Wheedling the details from the reluctant Aunt Mags, the particulars of the curse stuns all four sisters, and becomes a catalyst that turns the Patterson's sisters lives upside down.
Told from the shifting third person perspectives of Madeleine, Lucy, Abigail and Charlotte, The Patterson Girls is a story of sisters, secrets, loss and love.
Vivid characterisation brings the personalities of the sisters to life. Each has distinct strengths and flaws, and are beset by their own personal challenges, from unrequited love to infertility. While I identified most closely with Charlotte, I also found Madeleine, Lucy and Abigail to be interesting and well rounded characters and I really enjoyed Johns skillful portrayal of their sisterly dynamic.
The plot blends domestic drama, romance and a hint of mystery. While it's clear from the outset that all of the sisters are struggling in one way or another, the revelation about the Patterson curse piles on the pressure, and provokes much of the drama that follows, particularly for Madeleine, Lucy and Abigail. Charlie is finally finding her feet when a twist in the tale threatens to shatter the happiness she has forged for herself. Meanwhile, romance proves to be troublesome for all of them. While Charlie's feelings grow for an old friend and Abigail meets the man of her dreams, Lucy's marriage is floundering, and Madeleine's love life grows increasingly complicated.
A well crafted, entertaining, contemporary novel with strong characters and an engaging story, The Patterson Girls should appeal to fans of Monica McIerney and Marian Keys....more
With a narrative alternating between the past and the present, Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, tells With a narrative alternating between the past and the present, Sweet Wattle Creek by Kaye Dobbie, also known as Sara Bennett and Lilly Sommers, tells the story of Belle Bartholomew and Sophie Matheson, two women haunted by the secrets of their pasts.
When her father commits suicide after losing his wealth during the post war depression, Belle Bartholomew is stunned to learn of the secrets he had been keeping. Eager to know more, she travels to Sweet Wattle Creek to claim her inheritance, a rundown hotel bequeathed to her by Martha Ambrose, and though Belle's questions put the locals offside, she is determined to solve the mystery of her birth.
Nearly sixty years later, reporter Sophie Matheson is enchanted by a vintage wedding dress donated to the Sweet Wattle Creek centenary celebrations. Intrigued by its mysterious provenance, Sophie begins to piece together the story of Belle and Charlie, and their connection to the old burnt out hotel on the town's fringe, unaware that her own past is catching up to her.
Both Belle and Sophie are appealing and sympathetic characters. Though their situations are very different they share a similar spirit, facing adversity with courage and determination.
Dobbie's portrayal of small town Australia during the 1930's is very well done. The community of Sweet Wattle Creek is still struggling with grief for their loved ones lost and injured in the Great War, and are worried about the impact of the post war depression, particularly as 'travellers' pass through their town. Dobbie skilfully communicates this tense atmosphere, and Belle's status as an outsider.
The mid 1980's is a fairly bland era by comparison but Dobbie is careful to ensure the period is reflected in the storyline. The local paper where Sophie works still uses a mechanical press to publish, archives are stored in the basement, and the single computer that saves data to floppy discs is still a novelty.
Most importantly, I thought the story was very well structured, both the historical and contemporary timelines complement each other well, and advance the plot as a whole. The pacing is good and the suspense builds nicely. There are some neat turns to the plot and I thought the conclusion was satisfying.
Sweet Wattle Creek is a well crafted and engaging tale combining mystery, drama and romance, and I'm happy to recommend it....more
Peta Jo's second novel, The Crushing Season, is an engaging story about friendship, family, love and loss.
Leah, May, Tate, Alex and Benny are the best Peta Jo's second novel, The Crushing Season, is an engaging story about friendship, family, love and loss.
Leah, May, Tate, Alex and Benny are the best of friends. They met in high school and more than fifteen years later, despite the separation wrought by their busy lives, remain close. When May is hit by a double crisis, her friends rally to support her, but none of them realise how badly she has been affected, until she does the unthinkable.
I became quite attached to all of the Crushing Season's protagonists, who are wonderfully developed characters. Tate is a feisty news editor, struggling to balance her commitment to her work and new motherhood. Leah runs her own successful restaurant, but is plagued with a history of bad relationships. Benny is a frustrated writer on the verge of giving up on his dreams. Laid back Alex is suddenly anxious about his future. May is the linchpin of the group, whose gentle and caring nature never hints at the dark secrets she holds close.
The dynamic between the friends is skilfully rendered. I enjoyed their rowdy reunion, their affectionate ribbing and bickering, and of course the way they supported each other in times of crisis. Even when their bond is complicated and strained, the connection is clear. In many ways, they remind me of my own close circle of friends whom I don't see as often as I would like.
Peta Jo's exploration of the books somber issues such as abuse, depression, suicide and guilt, are thoughtful and compassionate. Most importantly, the characters emotions are sincere, and their behaviour genuine. Though there is real sadness in The Crushing Season, there is also plenty of heart and humour, which often made me smile.
Well paced, with excellent characterisation and a strong plot, The Crushing Season is an affecting tale, both achingly poignant and truly heartwarming. ...more
The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman has an unusual premise. When Luisa rekindles an old romance after a family BBQ she becomes determined to escape The Replacement Wife by Rowena Wiseman has an unusual premise. When Luisa rekindles an old romance after a family BBQ she becomes determined to escape her lacklustre marriage of twelve years. Desperate not to be branded as a homewrecker, Luisa concocts a plan to find her husband a replacement wife, allowing her to exit the marriage blamelessly. While fantasising about the new life she will build with Jarvis, Luisa pushes a procession of single women at her husband but when it seems she has finally found him the one, she's no longer sure she wants to be replaced after all.
Though I didn't like Luisa at all, I thought Wiseman's characterisation was very interesting. Luisa has a delusional self narrative, she believes herself unselfish for wanting to secure her husband's happiness before she leaves him, compassionate for selecting women who will a good mother to her son, moral because she refuses a physical relationship with Jarvis while still married. Luisa's skewed perspective is obvious to the reader, who can see exactly how flawed her thinking is, and the looming pitfall's of Luisa's grand plan.
'Be careful what you wish for, you may just get it' is the overriding theme of The Replacement Wife, however I struggled with the inconsistent tone of the novel. The first three quarters of the book or so reads mostly like a screwy romcom as Luisa attempts to fix up her husband with a handful of single women while swooning over the ridiculously effusive texts and emails from Jarvis, but then the tone shifts abruptly and The Replacement Wife becomes a serious morality tale, and though Luisa's fate is deserved, the overall imbalance is awkward.
I didn't dislike The Replacement Wife, I thought the unique premise was quite clever, and the writing of a good standard, but unfortunately the execution didn't quite work for me....more
In the latest addition to the Private series, James Patterson teams with Aussie crime author Kathryn Fox, introducing the reader to Craig Gisto, and h In the latest addition to the Private series, James Patterson teams with Aussie crime author Kathryn Fox, introducing the reader to Craig Gisto, and his staff, in the Private Sydney agency who have two cases to investigate in this crime thriller novel.
The first involves a surrogacy scam, a murdered woman and a missing baby. Gisto's agency is accused of negligence when a couple hires Private to run a background check on a woman who has volunteered to be their surrogate. Within hours of turning over the report, the woman is murdered, an 8 week old baby in her care abducted, and the identities of the couple prove to be false. Gisto and his team have few leads and work hard to unravel the scam, determined to find the missing infant.
The second case involves the missing CEO of a billion dollar company. Stonewalled by the man's business partner, Gisto begins to suspect large scale fraud is the issue. However it soon becomes clear that whatever Eric Moss has done, he has made some dangerous enemies. Despite attempts at intimidation, Gisto refuses to back off, especially when threats are made against the missing man's daughter.
Short chapters, an economy of words, and a sense of immediacy keeps the pace moving quickly. The plot is well crafted and not entirely predictable, with some smaller subplots that fill out the pages. Studded with action, there is also a touch of romance. You don't get much more than a general sense of the characters, but it is enough to satisfy.
The Australian setting, which moves from Sydney city to the Blue Mountains, should appeal to Patterson's international and local fans.
Private Sydney was exactly what I expected, a quick, easy, entertaining read....more
Inspired by the Grimm Brothers fairytales, most notably ‘The Singing, Springing Lark', a variant of Beauty and the Beast, Kate Forsyth weaves a compel Inspired by the Grimm Brothers fairytales, most notably ‘The Singing, Springing Lark', a variant of Beauty and the Beast, Kate Forsyth weaves a compelling tale of romance, war, heartbreak and courage in The Beast's Garden.
The Beast's Garden opens in 1938 as Hitler begins to persecute the Jewish population of Berlin. Nineteen year old songstress Ava Falkenhorst is stunned by the violence, and horrified when close family friends, the Feidlers are targeted simply for being Jewish. When Ava's childhood friend Rupert is transported to Buchenwald, and her father threatened with arrest, Ava permits the attentions of Leo von Lowenstein, a high ranking handsome Nazi officer torn between duty and honour. Though their marriage secures Ava's father's safety, Ava, who is determined to help the Feidlers and others like them, can't trust that Leo will not betray her and hides her subversive activities, unaware that her husband is also working against the regime he serves.
With authentic and compelling detail Forsyth explores life under the Nazi regime in the lead up and during World War Two. The terrible suffering of the Jewish population and their attempts to defy Hitler are exhaustively documented, but rarely is mention made of the Germans who rebelled against the Gestapo in both small and significant ways. Forsyth acknowledges the efforts of the German people who risked their own lives to mitigate the attrition, and real historical figures, such as Admiral Canaris, and Harro and Libertas Schulze-Boysen of the Red Orchestra Resistance, who actively worked to disrupt Hitler's rule.
Not that Forsyth shies away from illustrating the experience of Nazi rule for the Jewish. Threads of the story illustrate the harrowing experiences of Rupert, imprisoned in Buchenwald, a concentration camp ruled by Karl-Otto Koch and his sadistic wife known as The Witch of Buchenwald; and life for Rupert's sister, Jutta, in Berlin as she becomes involved in the resistance and struggles to stay one step ahead of the SS.
It is the relationship between Ava and Leo that echoes the fairytales we are familiar with. Ava, the innocent, brave beauty, Leo the 'Beast'; an unlikely love, besieged by tragedy, that blooms, like the roses that feature in their courtship. Rich characterisation ensures neither Ava nor Leo are mere cliches, and though there is a happy ending, it is hard won.
Skillfully crafted, The Beast's Garden is another magnificent historical novel seamlessly melding truth and fiction, from Kate Forsyth. A wonderful tale of daring and courage, of struggle and survival, of love and loyalt, this is a 'must read'.
What My Daughters Taught Me is a heart warming memoir by Joseph Wakim who found himself the sole parent of his three young daughters when his beloved What My Daughters Taught Me is a heart warming memoir by Joseph Wakim who found himself the sole parent of his three young daughters when his beloved wife, Nadia, passed away after a short battle with cancer.
'Amazing' Grace, 'Ma Belle' Michelle and Joy 'to the World', each named after song's favoured by Joseph and his wife were just eleven, nine and four when they lost their mother. Despite his overwhelming grief at losing his soul mate, Joseph vowed to be both father and mother to their girls.
With humour, honesty and faith derived from his Maronite church (he is a Muslim Christian), Joseph learnt to cook, use conditioner on tangles, braid hair, referee bathroom wars, peg out laundry at the speed of light, and gracefully submit to his daughters fashion stylings. He nurtured his daughters' love of dance and music (starting a band called Heartbeats), helped them study, and taught them to drive.
Sharing the details of his courtship with his wife, and her painful demise, as well as providing a glimpse into his past as part of a large Lebanese immigrant family, Joseph writes of grief, love, family and life's roller-coaster.
To ensure financial stability for his family, Joseph moved from social work, having been responsible for the Streetwork project in Adelaide and having been awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2001, into business. He founded the Australian Arabic Council, was once the former Victorian Multicultural Affairs Commissioner, but now writes regular opinion pieces about human rights issues. He authored Sorry We Have No Space, a finalist for the Australian Christian Book of the Year, in 2013 about racism experienced by Arabs in Australian.
However this book is not about his professional achievements but about his greatest personal accomplishment - raising his daughters with love, wisdom and faith. It has been twelve years since Joseph lost his wife, and their family is thriving. His daughters are beginning to establish their independence, and Joseph is proud of the role he played in shaping the women they have become.
*please note I choose not to rate memoirs* ...more
Asked to choose a prop for Cloudwish is a delightful new contemporary young adult novel from Fiona Wood, author of Six Impossible Things and Wildlife.
Asked to choose a prop for a creative writing assignment, Vân Uoc Phan selects a small glass vial. Inside, a slip of paper says wish. Vân Uoc considers the possibilities, she could wish not be the only 'scholarship/poor/smart/Asian' in her privileged private school, or that the government would stop persecuting asylum seekers, but Vân Uoc's most private and fervent wish, is for Billy Gardiner to like her.
Readers familiar with Wildlife might recognise Vân Uoc and Billy for their role in the book as minor characters. Vân Uoc is the only daughter of Vietnamese refugees, she lives in a housing commission flat, attending the prestigious Crowthorne Grammar on an academic scholarship. She is quiet and studious, her parents expect she will become a doctor or a lawyer, though Vân Uoc dreams of becoming an artist. Billy Gardiner is Crowthorne Grammar's golden boy, he is smart but takes very little seriously. One of the first eight on the successful school rowing team, the son of wealthy parents, he takes his privilege for granted in a way Vân Uoc never can.
When Billy suddenly takes notice of her, Vân Uoc assumes she is being set up for a joke but as his attention persists, she begins to wonder if a wish really can come true. The ensuing relationship between Vân Uoc and Billy is sweet and believable, deftly handled by the author within the context of the story.
But this is not just a story about a teen romance, throughout the story, Wood sensitively explores the experience of diversity in all its forms with a focus on socioeconomic, racial and cultural difference. Vân Uoc keenly feels the divide between herself and her classmates, she can't afford designer jeans or even a cup of coffee after school, her free time is limited to spending Friday nights watching movies in her neighbours flat, and she has responsibilities they can't imagine. Vân Uoc is also haunted by her parents experiences as refugees. Though she knows few of the details, her mother's annual slide into depression suggests unimaginable horrors.
With references to Jane Eyre, Vân Uoc's idol, and Pretty in Pink, Australian politics and the legitimacy of asylum seekers, mean girls, Chapel Street, and magic, Cloudwish is a wonderfully observed and heartfelt Australian story about identity, belonging, love, and dreams.
"Jane had all the answers. Of course she did. When had she ever let Vân Uoc down? It struck her like a proverbial bolt from the blue that within Jane Eyre's framework of realism - of social commentary on class, on charity schools, on imperious rich relations, on gender equality and the restricted opportunity for women, on love and morality...there was also some mad magic."...more
I look forward to each new installment of Felicity Young's historical mystery series featuring Dr Dody McCleland, autopsy surgeon. The Insanity of Mur I look forward to each new installment of Felicity Young's historical mystery series featuring Dr Dody McCleland, autopsy surgeon. The Insanity of Murder is the fourth book in the series which continues to impress me with its rich period detail, strong characterisation and interesting plots.
The Insanity of Murder begins with an explosion set by the suffragette's at London's 'Necropolis Railway'. With a watchman badly injured, Dody is horrified when Florence is arrested for the crime, afraid that a regime of force feeding in prison will destroy her sister. While Dodie and Pike do their best to protect Florence from the worst consequences of her behaviour, it's the witness to the bombing that captures their attention. Initially mistaken for a vagrant, they discover the elderly woman is Lady Mary Heathridge, who has escaped from the ladies 'rest' home where she is confined, in search of a missing friend.
The main plot then involves Dody and Pike's ensuing discrete investigation into The Elysium Rest Home for Gentlewomen where they suspect the attending doctor is performing illegal and possibly experimental treatments on the women entrusted to their care. Florence, benefiting from new laws regarding the incarceration of suffragettes, decides to help by getting herself sent to the home, but instead finds herself in grave danger. The plight of these women, several of whom have simply been discarded by husbands and families, is chilling, treated in horrific ways for their 'hysterical' behaviour.
I did feel the story was a little diluted however. Pike is distracted by his daughter, Violet, who is trying to convince her father to let her study nursing, his secret involvement in shaping a new law, and politics at play in Scotland Yard. Naturally Dodie's main worry is for her sister, concerned by the suffragette movements increasingly violent and dangerous protests, but her relationship with Pike is also on her mind.
Still, the writing is of its usual high standard, and the pace is good. The historical detail is fascinating, of note here is the death of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison at the 1913 Epsom Derby.
As with the previous books in the series, The Insanity of Murder is an interesting and engaging read. And I will be looking forward to the next.
Six Degrees is a stunning departure from the psychological thrillers that have made Honey Brown a bestselling author. Subtitled 'The Power of Attracti Six Degrees is a stunning departure from the psychological thrillers that have made Honey Brown a bestselling author. Subtitled 'The Power of Attraction Connects Us All', this book is a a collection of six loosely linked passionate and sensual short stories.
It begins with 'Threesome' and ends with 'First Time', each of the six stories exploring the tension and ecstasy of attraction, of connection, of desire. There is no judgement, no pretence. Brown's tales are a celebration of shared lust and intimacy.
The characters are ordinary people, among them a cafe owner, a pharmacist, a bartender and a tyre salesman. They speak and behave in ways which are authentic and familiar. Though each story is related in the third person, the women are more often than not (the major exception being 'Two Men') in control, seeking pleasure, closeness and fulfillment.
Unusually, the subtle connection that links the characters in Six Degrees is the tragic death of a man - a stranger, a father, a best friend, a neighbour. Studies show that a craving for intimacy in the wake of loss is not uncommon, and sex is a natural way in which to instinctually deny death its power.
The expressive writing is explicit yet tasteful. The collection is erotic but not pornographic. The scenes of sexual intimacy are hot, sensual, and provocative but there is real depth to the characters and their circumstances.
Six Degrees is alluring, exciting and seductive. ...more
Drawing on official documents and extensive general research into the period, author Eleanor Limprecht blends fact and imagination to create a convinc Drawing on official documents and extensive general research into the period, author Eleanor Limprecht blends fact and imagination to create a convincing narrative that tells the story of a woman forgotten by history in her novel, 'Long Bay'.
Born in Paddington, New South Wales in 1885, Rebecca Sinclair was the fourth of six children, raised by her mother who was widowed when Rebecca was two. She married at nineteen, birthed a daughter, and four years later, alongside her husband, was convicted of manslaughter for the death of a mother of three who died after an abortion procedure performed by Rebecca went wrong. Rebecca was sentenced to three years hard labour in Long Bay and while imprisoned, Rebecca birthed her second daughter.
Limprecht builds on these known details of Rebecca's life with her imagination, informed by research, creating a story that depicts a childhood of poverty, a marriage marred by bigamy and violence and the events that led up to the tragic event that resulted in her being jailed. Long Bay illustrates an era where women had limited control over their lives and often struggled under the weight of deprivation and hardship.
There is no doubt that Rebecca's story is fascinating and I was intrigued by the details of her life, but the writing is often quite dry and unsentimental, lacking the emotion that could have breathed more vitality into the narrative. Yet the story is rich in period detail, evoking the city landscape and era well.
A thoughtful and readable novel, I did enjoy Long Bay. I feel it is a story that will interest readers of both historical fiction and non fiction, especially those curious about women's lives and issues at the turn of the century.
The Callahan Split is Australian author Lisa Heidke's sixth novel but her first foray into the world of self publishing, supplementing her successful The Callahan Split is Australian author Lisa Heidke's sixth novel but her first foray into the world of self publishing, supplementing her successful career in traditional publishing.
Professional doubles tennis champions, sisters Samantha and Annie Callahan, have each others backs both on and off the court. Riding high after winning a gold medal at the Olympics they are favourites to win the Australian Open, until Annie's new boyfriend drops a bombshell just before their first match, and the girls relationship begins to falter. Samantha, ambitious and driven, is irate as a love-struck Annie loses interest in their childhood goal, and is completely devastated when her sister severs their partnership to pursue a singles career. Without Annie by her side, Samantha is lost and is forced to wonder if winning is really everything.
The Callahan Split is a story about sisters, Samantha and Annie share a close personal and professional bond which is severely tested when their goals in life no longer coincide. The main theme takes Heidke's protagonists on a journey of self discovery, but it also explores serious issues such as depression, anxiety, and abandonment.
I didn't relate particularly well to either sister initially. I found Samantha's single-minded focus and emotional immaturity draining, and Annie's desertion selfish. To be fair, the sisters have their reasons, not the least being their mother's abandonment, which had a significant impact on them both, and I wasn't entirely unsympathetic to the pressure they were both under as elite athletes trying to stay on top. Most of the story unfolds from Sam's perspective, and I grew to appreciate the hard earned growth her character experienced. I felt her relationship with Violet and her family, and her romance with her coach, Bear, also softened her sharper edges somewhat.
I have to admit, I'm not that interested in tennis, though I spent several sleepless nights watching the Australian Open in 2003 as Andre Agassi and Serena Williams claimed the title, while nursing my newborn daughter, however I did enjoy the behind the scenes look this elite level sport, including the gossip about the on and off court antics of the players.
A tale of personal and professional adversity and triumph, The Callahan Split is an engaging story, another winner for Lisa Heidke. ...more
'Trivia is a serious business, not a social occasion'
Kevin Dwyer is a socially awkward middle aged forensic accountant whose obsession with collecting 'Trivia is a serious business, not a social occasion'
Kevin Dwyer is a socially awkward middle aged forensic accountant whose obsession with collecting information informs his only hobby - trivia. When Kevin, on his own, blitzes the other teams on the first night of competition at the Clifton Heights Sports Club he is feted by his competitors, but Kevin isn't a team player, until he meets Maggie Taylor.
Deborah O'Brien's novel unfolds from the perspectives of Kevin, Maggie and Kevin's sister, Elizabeth, set over the twelve weeks of the trivia competition that brings together Kevin and Maggie.
Sweet and artless, Kevin lives alone, his only friend his eight-year-old nephew Patrick. Kevin knows he is different, never having understood the social ease of others but he is largely content with the status quo. O'Brien paints a sympathetic picture of a good man who slowly blossoms as the story unfolds.
Maggie, a teacher of high school French and Latin in her early fifties, is single after a decade pining over a lost love. She's a lovely character, who befriends Kevin almost by accident, but is preoccupied with the reappearance of the aforementioned 'one who got away'.
Kevin's sister Elizabeth has always been embarrassed by her brother and she is horrified when the similarities between Kevin and Patrick behaviour are pointed out. I didn't care for Elizabeth at all but Kevin is determined to show Elizabeth he can be 'normal', especially when she stops him from seeing Patrick, believing him a 'bad influence'.
Smaller subplots play out amongst the members of 'Teddy and the Dreamers', filling out the story. Trivia buffs should enjoy answering the questions posed by the MC, and recognise the dynamics of the teams.
Comparisons to Graeme Stimson's The Rosie Project are inevitable given the behavourial similarities between Don Tillman and Kevin, though O'Brien approaches both her characters and the story with a more serious and realistic tone. The humour is subtler, and Kevin's quirks are not the focus of the novel.
I did enjoy The Trivia Man, it's a sweet, uplifting read about friendship, acceptance and love....more