The Drowning Girls by Veronica Lando is reminiscent of her first novel, The Whispering as it offers up vivid imagery and again Lando manages to place readers in the north of my state of Queensland. And I was very much reminded of a trip I had earlier this year to Weipa (further north than the setting of this book), where we were welcomed to the ‘west coast of Queensland’. It was surreal to most as we tend to forget that my states’s entire west isn’t landlocked and there’s a whole coastline in the tropics – offering a dichotomous view of red dirt reminiscent of outback Australia against palm trees and blue sea.
Black Lies by Mercedes Mercier is the second in the series featuring psychologist Laura Fleming who works with inmates at Westmead prison. It kicks off two years after the events of White Noise and things seem to have settled down in Laura’s life after a history of pain killer addiction created problems with her ex-husband and daughter.
Dying to Know by Rae Cairns is the second book by the Australian author and I very much enjoyed her first, The Good Mother, despite it being about one of my less-favourite topics… of parenting-related angst and judgement.
In her latest novel she very deftly introduces an historical crime without belabouring it, which is something I very much appreciated. The backcover blurb made me wonder if there’d be a lot of back and forward in time (which I don’t dislike, but imagined might be drawn-out) when in reality Cairns cleanly and succinctly introduces the events of twelve years earlier and moves on to the present.
I received an advance copy of Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins as well as a final copy so I gave my mother the former to read before I got to it… and she read it very very quickly (within a day, while I was with her) and loved it.
I also very much enjoyed this novel and Hawkins does a great job at muddying the already-murky waters of Rory’s life with a misdirection or three. On one hand I kinda guessed who was up to some of the nefarious exploits (given they seemed to have an agenda of sorts), but I certainly didn’t guess why, or how they played out against other elements of the plot. Hawkins is able to keep threads completely hidden, revealing them just when we think we’ve got it worked out.
A Country of Eternal Light by Paul Dalgarno is a hard book to review. It’s amazingly written. The concept is very clever and Dalgarno’s prose switch from a fairly chatty and mundane narrative to something more confronting… jolting readers out of our comfort zone and reminding us that the narrator is (in fact) dead.
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.
I realise I probably didn’t enjoy The Brothers by SD Hinton as much as others because of my disinterest in all-things-war-related.
As a result I skimmed sections that talked about Jake’s time in the military. Thankfully – though there’s a lot of reference to Jake’s deployments (his experiences and the result of his injuries) – it doesn’t have much to do with the unfolding plot here, other than to explain why Jake and Tom haven’t seen each other for some time.
No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak reminded me very much of another book I read recently – Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp. (And I note that Allsopp has provided a cover quote for this book.)
I particularly enjoyed that both weren’t about exceptionally talented women… you know, the kind authors sometimes assume women aspire to be. But nor were they about completely dysfunctional or unreliable narrators. In fact, both lead characters are somewhere in between. And perhaps that makes them more relatable. They don’t have their shit together despite having reached adulthood. Instead they’re wading through the waters of life trying to reach the solid ground society seems to expect of them.
The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan is a standalone – a departure from the Irish-born Australia-dwelling’s Cormac Reilly series that I’ve enjoyed over the past four-ish years. I’ve read many good things about [The Murder Rule] over recent months and I can only agree as McTiernan manages to offer readers a likeable (though agenda-laden) lead, intriguing plot and several twists and turns to keep us guessing.