I’ve actually not read any books in Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series. Which was a little worrying cos I hate entering series part-way through… and I’ve moaned about that before, so won’t go into it again. Thankfully it wasn’t an issue here as I was able to play along at home without having missed too much context.
This is actually the first book I’ve read by Australian author Sarah Barrie though she’s penned the Hunters Ridge series and I understand this is loosely linked to her 2018 release, Blood Tree River.
I kinda guessed the ‘whodunnit’ part here which is eventually partially handed to us. The why wasn’t as predictable though and sets up the suspense in this book quite nicely.
The cover of this book includes recommendations from authors of some of my recent faves, and the fact I knew almost all of those quoted boded well for this book… ie. it would sit firmly in my reading comfort zone.
And it certainly did. Mostly. There was a smidge of the paranormal which I’ve struggled with in one of Lisa Unger’s series, but definitely not enough to put me off. And as we’re offered great characters and an intriguing plot, I’m glad I had the chance to dive into this debut novel by Alex North.
I’d seen reviews of this book popping up in a few places and was surprised it hadn’t been on my radar. Fortunately I was able to access an online review copy and meet established Australian author Wendy James – for the first time – in my case.
I was having a conversation with a friend on the weekend and she said she’d been trying to explain to her 7yr old son, the concept of ‘looking stuff up’ or ‘research’ before the internet (and before google). She was planning, she said, to buy a hard-copy dictionary so he could learn how to use one.
We were reminiscing about our own childhoods and the encyclopedia we soooo relied on for homework and the like.
The book opens as 11yr old Stella’s father is forcing (albeit without actual physical force) her family to leave remote Evergreen Island, the only home she’s known. Ferrying people between the island and Poole Harbour is her father’s job but the weather is dire and their decision to leave sudden.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I adore books written from the point of view of a child narrator. I mean, it doesn’t always work… the author has to nail their all-knowing childish innocence and their voice has to be authentic, but when that happens; it can be amazing.
Which is the case with this new release, The Nancys by RWR McDonald, set on New Zealand’s south island.
Something to Live For by Richard Roper is being billed as ‘the most uplifting and life-affirming debut of the year’. And given it’s about a man whose job it is to visit the homes of recently deceased who have no obvious family / friends, to try to find a single person who knew them or a will (or money to pay for the funeral); it could be very depressing.
But it’s not. It’s a reminder that while there’s crappy stuff happening in the world and… yes, people die alone all of the time, there are still kind and generous people to be found. Not to mention the fact that people live small, rich and happy lives, or sad and loud lives we may know nothing about.
It’s a couple of months since I’ve done one of these checking-in posts and I must confess it’s probably because I’ve had little news to share.