The Horseman is another great medical-rural romance novel by Aussie author Charlotte Nash. Her latest heroine, Dr Peta Woodward is determined to complThe Horseman is another great medical-rural romance novel by Aussie author Charlotte Nash. Her latest heroine, Dr Peta Woodward is determined to complete a hiking trail for personal and emotional reasons; but when she becomes injured and stranded in the bush her plans quickly take a turn to the small country town of Yarraman Falls. It’s the infamous horse trainer Craig Munroe who stumbles across Peta who is muddy, bitter and bossy; not that any of that turns him off. In fact, as she starts to mend, they develop a close friendship that quickly blossoms into something much more serious and Peta has to decide whether she is willing to take a permanent detour on her plans or if she turns her back on the the town that has started to feel like home.
Peta is a feisty and determined character that’s a little prickly in the beginning but I soon warmed to her as her backstory unfolded and the chemistry with Craig heightened. Craig is a very likeable guy, on the one hand he’s a reserved and strong male figure; but when it comes to his horses he’s soft and compassionate. Peta and Craig have plenty of challenges to face both individually and as a couple and I enjoyed seeing them find their way and overcome these barriers. I read this book very quickly as it was hard to put down and an easy, enjoyable read. Definitely recommend it!...more
In the Month of the Midnight Sun is the second historical Nordic Noir thriller by Swedish author Cecilia Ekback. Her debut novel, Wolf Winter was oneIn the Month of the Midnight Sun is the second historical Nordic Noir thriller by Swedish author Cecilia Ekback. Her debut novel, Wolf Winter was one of my favourite reads of 2015, so when I had the opportunity to read her new release (set 150 years later in the same setting) I was very excited! She’s a brilliant writer and creates a character-driven and intricate plotted murder mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end.
It’s 1855 in the Swedish Lapland’s Mountains and three men have been massacred. An indigenous man is in custody but refuses to talk. The Minister of Justice in Stockholm sends his son-in law Magnus, a geologist along with his exiled daughter Lovisa (and Magnus’s sister in law) to investigate and check on the Mountain resources. Once again, the Mountain is the star of the novel, it takes on a character in itself and creates an eerie backdrop to the intrigue of the murder mystery. Unlike Wolf Winter, this book is set during summer; known as the month of the midnight sun and so the heat creates an atmosphere amongst the people where frustrations simmer just below the surface.
Magnus is an interesting character whose past begins to emerge as he finds himself feeling at home in the mountains, while Lovisa redefines her identity without the disapproving observations of her father. Their meeting with settler and older Lapp woman Ester, initially fraught with distrust draws them together to uncover the mystery of the murder and the horrific tragedies that have been buried in the Laplands.
I won’t go too much into the plot; it’s really one of those stories you just have to read and experience for yourself. And in many ways when describing the plot it doesn’t seem like much really happens, but Ekback manages to make a lot happen without having to say much. I like that she allows the reader to read between the lines and discover things rather than being spoon-fed the clues.
Fans of Burial Rites will enjoy this one. Another great thriller and this author is definitely one I will seek out again in the future....more
New Zealand born Hannah Tunnicliffe has once again created a character-driven story centered around delicious food and a wonderful exotic location. WhNew Zealand born Hannah Tunnicliffe has once again created a character-driven story centered around delicious food and a wonderful exotic location. When I pick up a Tunnicliffe novel I know i’m going to get a novel with deeply flawed and strong characters, scrumptious food influences and a beautiful setting.
Quite different from her previous two novels The Colour of Tea and Season of Salt and Honey; A French Wedding brings together a group of college friends who reunite for Max’s 40th birthday. While it is Juliette whose POV we delve into first, Max really steals the show in the novel as his past and present collide. They meet up in his country house in France where Juliette is the interim cook. He’s well and truly in the midst of adulthood and yet he can’t seem to let go of all the habits that has kept him feeling young; alcohol, drugs, women and non-commitment. His friends are facing very real issues; marital problems, identity issues and health problems.
This is a very character-driven novel and I feel the author really succeeded in stripping away the layers of the underlying issues Max faces, but I was a little disappointed in the role played by Juliette. She’s painted as a very driven and focused woman who is determined to put her career above else and yet she’s very much invisible in this story. She’s in the background, watching everything unfold before her and I’d have liked to see her really take charge of her life. Her character could have been fleshed out further and pulled her to the forefront of the story to really give it a big impact.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed this story and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future....more
Set in 1963, there is growing tension between Charlotte and her husband Henry. She is struggling with motherhood and Henry dreams of far away (warmer)Set in 1963, there is growing tension between Charlotte and her husband Henry. She is struggling with motherhood and Henry dreams of far away (warmer) destinations. He is tempted by a brochure promoting job opportunities in Australia and despite Charlotte’s initial resistance she does agree to relocate with him in the hope that a new start would bring them closer together. Unfortunately it does the opposite. Henry’s reality does not quite live up to his dreams and Charlotte cannot bear to call the hot, dusty Australia her home.
The Other Side of the World is a character driven novel that unearths the fears and realities of a young family who are trying to find their way in the world. I do have mixed feelings about this book. on the one hand it felt remarkably realistic and believable, but on the other hand I felt the characters were frustrating and self-absorbed. While I could understand and sympathise with Charlotte’s predicament, I didn’t find her the least bit likeable. Charlotte and Henry’s experiences were very much internalised and I felt a big disconnect between them throughout the story (which was the point!), but that’s what I found frustrating, that this couple couldn’t just be honest with one another about how they felt. The biggest letdown for me was the ending, I just couldn’t see how Charlotte and Henry could move forward after what had happened and it left me feeling a bit underwhelmed. To go on the journey throughout the whole book with them, only to not really know what happens next- like the biggest part of the story is what happens after the book is finished.
Though a well-written novel and engaging, my dislike of the characters really got in the way of me being able to truly enjoy what this story was trying to evoke in the reader....more
This book turned up unexpectedly and I was very close to dismissing it due to other reading commitments. But when I saw that it was by an Australian aThis book turned up unexpectedly and I was very close to dismissing it due to other reading commitments. But when I saw that it was by an Australian author and it was a relatively short novel I thought I’d give it a try. I’m glad I did!
I was drawn into this story almost immediately. Written in first POV of Joe, a young man in his 20’s who is just drifting through life. He works two jobs, shares a house with a couple of mates and has the intriguing hobby of ‘jumping’ at all hours of the morning and night. He builds up his strength and endurance and pushes his body to the limits.
When a young nurse answers an ad for a spare room at the share house, there’s an instant attraction between them. Joe finds himself being challenged emotionally and psychologically as their relationship develops only in the darkness of the night. Meanwhile, he develops a deeper friendship with colleague Lena who he starts to share his story with. Joe is an interesting character with many strengths and flaws. He is grieving the loss of his ex-girlfriend, wracked with guilt and struggling to find a way to move forward- or whether he has any desire to do so. He’s been punishing himself for years.
The parallel story with the POV of newly separated mother Elise who has a secret, she likes to study the tigers at the local zoo. Every week at the same day and time she sits and watches, draws them and fantasises about their inner world. This connection allows her to understand her own grief and loss and find a way to get her relationship back on track with her husband. The connection between Joe and Elise isn’t revealed until much later in the story.
What I found so mesmerising about this story, was the sharp writing style, often abrupt and to the point. There’s no fluff in this book, every word and sentence serves a purpose. I liked that and it made the story flow and intrigued me to turn the pages faster. Though Leap is passable as a YA novel (or new age?), the contrasting story with Elise prevents it from falling into this genre. Leap is a character-driven novel, uniquely structured and written and trusts that the reader is smart enough to figure out the messages that lie beneath the text. I’d definitely recommend this novel....more
The latest novel by Cathryn Hein, The Falls is set in a rural town in New South Wales. Teagen Bliss is devastated by her parent’s betrayal and the losThe latest novel by Cathryn Hein, The Falls is set in a rural town in New South Wales. Teagen Bliss is devastated by her parent’s betrayal and the loss of her dream to manage her family’s farm in South Australia. She flees to her Aunt Vanessa’s home in NSW for respite, only to discover that she feels completely hopeless and depressed. With the support and nurturance of her Aunt, Teagan starts to find some sense of worth in working on the property and picking up a local job working with horses. Her Aunt’s friend and horse farrier Lucas Knight also helps to pass the time. Teagan is instantly attracted to him, but is no emotional state to enter into a relationship- not that she believes he’d ever have a romantic interest in her anyway. They develop a close friendship and Lucas proves to be a reliable friend and a committed lover; both of which Teagan finds completely overwhelming and unable to allow herself to enjoy. Her past experiences have landed her some major trust issues.
There are a lot of characters in The Falls, which helped to create a real community feel and a sense of place in Falls Valley. However, I felt that all the other characters and sub-plots got in the way of really fleshing out the conflict faced by Teagan and Lucas. The novel felt way too long for the rural romance genre and the numerous sub-plots really slowed down the pace of the story. Though I liked Teagan, her determination and hard-working demeanour, I felt the growth in her characterisation came quite late in the book when she acknowledges that she’s not coping. I’d have liked to see this happen earlier so that she could grow from that experience. In a long-winded story, the ending seemed a little rushed in that respect. As for the hero of the story, Lucas, I found him to be way too perfect and completely unrelateable. There’s so much focus on how amazingly good-looking he is and how Teagan cannot believe someone who stepped out of a Mills and Boone novel could ever be interested in her, that it completely overshadowed him as a man with any kind of substance. He certainly proves to be a reliable and supportive friend to Teagan, but I’d have preferred for these qualities to shine through rather than his glistening chest and warrior-like hair!
I’ve really enjoyed Hein’s novels in the past, but The Falls just didn’t do much for me. I struggled with the characterisation, the plot and the romantic elements. I did however love the setting, the small-town politics and the lessons that can be learnt from slowing down and enjoying a country way of life. While it wasn’t quite up to my expectations, if you’re a fan of Hein it is worth the read and I won’t hesitate to pick up any other of hers in the future.
Engrossing from the very beginning, McCarthy’s latest page-turner Stay With Me delivers a story that will definitely stay with you even once you’ve puEngrossing from the very beginning, McCarthy’s latest page-turner Stay With Me delivers a story that will definitely stay with you even once you’ve put it down. Seventeen year old Tess takes a break in Byron Bay with some friends. Raised by her three older siblings, she struggles to live up to their expectations of her and find her place in the world. Directionless, isolated and looking for an adventure, it’s when Tess meets Jay that her life turns upside down. He’s a man quite a few years older than her who pays her special attention and it’s this fascination with the budding attraction that instigates an impulsive decision to remain in Byron rather than returning to her family; much to their disappointment. Their relationship quickly becomes serious and Tess realises she’s in way over her head. Jay is controlling, manipulative and isolates her from the few friends she’s made in the town. She’s pregnant shortly after and that’s when the violence begins to escalate beyond psychological to physical. Tess does whatever she can to survive and protect her young daughter Nellie.
The story is told through Tess’s viewpoint in the present moment when she’s aged twenty-one and makes the brave choice to flee the situation, and through a serious of flashbacks and memories of her childhood and adolescence. Though it was sad, it was also completely believable that a vulnerable young teen would naively be seduced into an abusive relationship. McCarthy sensitively and realistically portrays Tess’s experience of domestic violence in this novel. The story oozes anxiety which reflects the impact of the trauma on Tess and the fear of the repercussions upon leaving the situation with her daughter. It adds a suspenseful element to the story also.
Stay With Me is very well written and adequately explores the difficulties faced by young women and their children who are abusive households. It also demonstrates just how hard it is for women in these situations to leave, and that when they do, their lives are endangered. I also felt McCarthy fleshed out the sibling relationships in a very relateable way and the tense dynamics when Tess is reunited with them. A very engrossing read....more
From India with Love is a remarkable memoir by Latika Bourke, a woman born in India and adopted by an Australian family as an infant. Latika’s insightFrom India with Love is a remarkable memoir by Latika Bourke, a woman born in India and adopted by an Australian family as an infant. Latika’s insight into her early years and pre-adoption was quite fascinating. Her parents were keen to raise a large family but when their second biological child was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis they turned their attention to adoptions. After two failed inter-country adoption attempts they successfully adopted Rani and then Damien from India before Latika also joined their family. Her adoptive parents went on to have another 3 biological children and so they ended up with 8 children!
Latika speaks quite positively of her adoption experience; she wholeheartedly identified as a proud Australian and actively rejected any elements of her Indian roots. It was actually quite refreshing to hear about an adoption that has had positive outcomes, but it was obvious that Latika had some definite defences when it came to anything to do with India. I’ve visited (and loved) India, I adore the food and have an obsession for Indian literature and Bollywood movies and I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth Latika would reject her Indian roots!
As the story of her life progresses, it’s revealed that a reluctant sitting of watching the Slumdog Millionaire movie was her wake up call. For the first time she allowed herself to think about what her life could have been like if she hadn’t been adopted. Her curiosity was sparked by this movie and she began to consider visiting the country of her birth. It was a couple more years before she made the big leap and booked a trip to northern India with her partner Graham. India had a strong impact on her; it was confronting and invigorating and it seems that the missing parts of her identity fell into place. Her experience of returning to the orphanage where she spent the first few months of her life was particularly touching.
As an adult, Latika has carved a successful career in journalism and undoubtedly her newfound passion for her country of birth will evolve through her influential role in the media. From India with Love is a light-hearted, easy read with a likeable character who challenges her own defenses and steps out of her comfort zone to resolve the only aspect of her adoption she was uncomfortable with; the elements of her Indian identity. A great read....more