Book review: The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Permalink

The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland arrived wrapped with a gold bow and handwritten note from the author. It was a lovely gesture from Vanessa and Harper Collins and an acknowledgement that 2020 has been pretty shitty for almost everyone and we should grasp any glimmer of light and joy we can get.

I read McCausland’s The Lost Summers of Driftwood last year and enjoyed it though took umbrage at a couple of references to the fact a character in her late 30s must have felt like a failure because she didn’t have a partner or child.

Her new novel similarly traverses women’s fiction – a group of women and the problems in their lives with parenting, relationships and their identities – but with a little suspense thrown in.

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four-stars

Book review: Flying the Nest by Rachael Johns

Saturday, October 31, 2020 Permalink

I think I’ve read all of West Australian author Rachael John’s standalone novels. She always offers readers interesting characters. They’re very real and complex. We often meet them at a time their world has been upended and they’re hitting rock bottom, but she ensures they are resilient. In short they’re generally women I think I’d like.

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four-stars

Book review: Kokomo by Victoria Hannan

Saturday, August 1, 2020 Permalink

I’d had Kokomo by Victoria Hannan for quite a while before I picked it up to read. It’d been garnering a lot of praise from from bookstagrammers, bloggers and reviewers so—although the cover looked like something out of Fifty Shades of Grey—I decided to give it a try.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

Tuesday, June 9, 2020 Permalink

It’s no secret I’m a fan of Jane Austen. In fact, it’s almost exactly 11 years ago since I finally binge-read all of her work. I’d been away (at fat camp – long story) and took The Complete Works of Jane Austen with me. Devouring the tome easily.

It surprised me because though I’d loved the BBC miniseries of Pride & Prejudice and the Gwyneth Paltrow/Toni Collette movie version of Emma (my interest was predominantly piqued by Colin Firth and Jeremy Northam respectively), I’d not even considered reading her books. And I hate(d) historical fiction.

It was only then I understood the eloquent and witty genius of the woman (so) ahead of her time.

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three-stars

Book review: The Spill by Imbi Neeme

Sunday, June 7, 2020 Permalink

The blurb of The Spill by Imbi Neeme talks about the relationship between two sisters who remember their childhoods quite differently.

I was intrigued by that as I often have very specific memories of events from my childhood or teenage years which my mother debunks. They feel real or true to me and yet mum is like… “That didn’t happen.” It’s weird, to misremember things. I ponder how those memories were planted in my head. Were they things I wanted or thought at the time, or have they replaced the real events with the advantage of hindsight or wistfulness years later.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Museum of Forgotten Memories by Anstey Harris

Friday, May 29, 2020 Permalink

I really loved Anstey Harris’s The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton, released in early 2019. It is an understated book. If I wanted to sound wanky I’d say it’s about the human condition. Or perhaps it’s about all of those things that happen in our lives that make us the people we are. That make us ‘why’ we are.

The Museum of Forgotten Memories offers something quite different. Again though there’s some quirk, past secrets and a focus on relationships.

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four-stars

Book review: The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland

Thursday, May 14, 2020 Permalink

I’d requested The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland for review but unfortunately didn’t receive it. I have a rule that I’m not allowed to buy any books until the end of the year and then I’m only allowed to buy those that might make my ‘best of the year’ post. My weird logic is two-fold. I’m not really working at the moment so can’t justify buying many books PARTICULARLY when I receive so many for review. And my to-be-read (TBR) pile stresses me and I don’t want or need to add to that guilt – although there are quite a few books on there I’ve not requested and are outside of my usual reading genre.

Anyhoo, I’ve really loved Lisa Ireland’s last two books The Shape of Us and The Art of Friendship and met Lisa and also really like her. (I’ve mentioned before if I tend to like someone in person I generally find I like their writing!) So, when a friend suggested I borrow her copy of The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan I jumped at the chance. And thank god I did as I loved it! In fact it’s probably my favourite of the three (of Lisa’s books) I’ve read.

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four-half-stars

Book review: Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

Tuesday, May 5, 2020 Permalink

I keep vowing to stop reading books about parenting. I realise actual parents probably enjoy them and can definitely relate; but the mummy (mommy) wars and good vs bad parenting dilemma aren’t really high on my relevance agenda. Having said that, I do read a lot of books about sociopaths damaged by bad parenting, so…. I guess there’s that.

As it happens, I decided to read Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan however because I’d read and enjoyed a previous novel, Anatomy of a Scandal, by the former political reporter.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Monday, April 20, 2020 Permalink

Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare was one of my THREE favourite books of 2019. Unfortunately – and unfairly for her – it meant she had a lot to live up to with the release of her second book.

Fortunately for her (and thankfully for me), O’Leary certainly didn’t fall into the dreaded second-book trap (ie. in which it’s a disappointment: either an ‘actual’ disappointment, or just in comparison to the debut) as I was absolutely smitten with her new novel, The Switch.

I read it over two nights – which is unusual for me as I’m normally all about instant gratification. However, I had to put it aside on the first night and returned to it the next and….  those who know me would have seen my tweet (below)… I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to end.

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four-half-stars