The Sirens Sing by Kristel Thornell unfolds in two timeframes. Unlike most dual timeline books however, the two aren’t intertwined or shared concurrently. Rather – in the first half of the book, set in 1991-1993, Thornell focuses her attention on David, finishing school and preparing to go to University. For us his story starts when he befriends Heather, a year younger but with whom he shares similar interests and a passion and aptitude for the Italian language. The second half of the book takes us back to 1960s – 1970s during which we spend time with David’s mother Janet (Jan) when she’s David’s age.
Wildflowers is the first book I’ve read by Peggy Frew and I’m torn. Frew’s certainly a talented and emotive writer but I wasn’t as enamoured as I could have been… or perhaps expected to be. I think it’s predominantly because the backcover blurb suggests that the three sisters travel to Far North Queensland to support the youngest to detox in the present. So when the book opens and we meet the middle sister, Nina, I assumed the trip (and main story arc of the book) was yet to come. But instead we discover the trip took place in the past. And that threw me a little. (Though) I’m not sure why.
Like several other books I’ve read recently Denizen by James McKenzie Watson was an award-winner before it was even published, winning the 2021 Penguin Literary Prize
I only belatedly requested a review copy after seeing others rave about it following its July 2022 release. And it’s certainly a brilliantly-written book. A confronting and challenging read in some ways and the second I’ve read in a row that tackles mental illness and self-harm.
There was a lot I liked about Electric and Mad and Brave by Tom Pitts. I’m tempted to say it’s a bit of a departure from my usual crime fiction and thriller reading, but in all honesty a lot of my favourite books are general or literary fiction, so I probably need to stop with the ‘I only read crime fiction’ mantra.
I very much liked our lead Matt, who’s in a mental health in-patient facility. We learn it’s his third time and as a result it probably doesn’t need to be said, but nevertheless this book comes with a big trigger warning relating to mental illness and self-harm.
I’ve only read one of Eliza Henry-Jones’s previous novels, Ache, and I loved it. It was beautifully written. Her latest Salt and Skin is no different. Her way with words is exquisite. Her prose stunningly eloquent. I already know I’ll have trouble writing this review, uncertain I can do her talent justice.
I must confess this book delved into a realm in which I’m less enamoured, as I usually avoid books featuring the mystical or mythical – selkies, witches, faeries, magic and the like. Of course I realise that in the past (and in the present) people are often labelled or written-off just because they’re different. Because they’re unique. Or special. The unknown is something that frightens many.
I’m not entirely sure why I’m reticent to delve into the whimsical. I suspect I’m too logic loving and pragmatic. So while I am very sure there are things in this world that cannot be explained, I also don’t necessarily want to divert my already-overthinking-mind to them. If that makes sense.
Loveland is the first book I’ve read by Robert Lukins so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Something terribly literary or esoteric I suspect as I know he writes for a number of literary magazines and journals here in Australia.
As it happened I did not flounder about in a state of bewildered confusion. I absolutely adore/d Lukins’s writing. His ability to craft phrases and sentences in a way that they offer so much more than what’s on the page is extraordinary. And far from an unfathomable metaphor I was unable to unravel, Loveland is a very enjoyable novel. About real people and only on a couple of occasions and at the very end did it dip into something possibly beyond my very literal comprehension.
Before The Stranger in the Lifeboat I’d not read anything by Mitch Albom. I’ve not even seen the movie based on his popular book, Tuesdays with Morrie. But something about his latest release had me intrigued.
As a lover of mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction, I knew it wasn’t going to be ‘that’ kind of book, but there was mention of a mystery at the heart of this novel which I thought might appeal. And I certainly enjoyed this book, however it wasn’t really the question posed by the book, but Albom’s writing that had me enchanted.
The Last Woman in the World is the third book I’ve read by Inga Simpson. I saw her speak at a bookshop locally around the time of her 2014 release Nest. I commented in that review about how inspiring I found her in person (and appreciated her blunt honesty about the challenges of becoming a published author), how much I loved her writing and her ability to instil in readers a sense of place.
I confess in my review of Where the Trees Were (2016) that I’m actually not a lover of nature. Of flora and fauna. And I’ve admitted on many occasions that I’m not a visual reader so not able to picture what I’m reading.