Boy Swallows Universe is the debut Australian best seller and multi award winner of 2019. I’m not usually a fan of stickers on book covers, but that certainly is an impressive number of awards there!
Set in the suburbs of Brisbane in 1985, Eli Bell is struggling to grow up in the midst of a very complicated life. His mum is a junkie, his step-father is a heroin dealer, his brother is mute, his absent dad is an alcoholic, his best friend is a notorious criminal, and his pen pal is the ex sergeant at arms of the Rebels motorcycle club.
All of a sudden, tragedy strikes, and Eli’s life becomes a lot more complicated. He needs all the help he can get from his brother, his friends, his father who has suddenly landed in his life, and an attractive young (but still far too old for Eli) journalist called Caitlin Spies.
Boy Swallows Universe is a heartbreaking, but triumphant, Australian novel that reveals the true horrors lurking underneath the surface of most suburbs, I suspect. I’m still reeling from the wild ride of the last few chapters and Dalton shines through as a simply brilliant storyteller. If you are in the middle of reading this book and are perhaps thinking that there is a bit too much description and it jumps around a bit too much, just wait til the end where all will be revealed.
Author: Trent Dalton
Published: June 18th 2018 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia
My first completed book of February is the slow-burning contemporary drama NOT BAD PEOPLE by debut author, Brandy Scott. The novel is set in the fictional country Victorian town of Hensley. My own hometown, the Mornington Peninsula, gets a brief mention, so I thought it was fitting to take my copy on a trip to my local beach. It was a lovely beach read!
“Three Friends. Too many secrets. Honesty is the best policy. Usually.”
Paperback, 464 pages
Published: January 29th 2019 by HarperCollins – AU
ISBN: 1460756177 (ISBN13: 9781460756171)
Source: HarperCollins – AU
“A clever, compelling debut novel with a unique premise of what happens when three best friends engage in what seems to be a harmless act, but instead results in tragedy, leading the women to confront buried resentments, shattering secrets, dark lies, and the moral consequences that could alter their lives forever.
Three friends, thirty years of shared secrets, one impulsive gesture…and a terrible accident.
It’s New Year’s Eve, in a small town in the rich wine country outside Sydney. Thirty-something Aimee, Melinda, and Lou are best friends reveling in the end-of-year celebrations. And what better way to look ahead to the coming year than to let off Chinese lanterns filled with resolutions: for meaning, for freedom, for money? The fact that it’s illegal to use these lanterns is far in the back of their minds. After the glowing paper bags float away and are lost to sight in the night sky, there’s a bright flare in the distance. It could be a sign of luck—or the start of a complete nightmare that will upend the women’s friendships, families, and careers.
Aimee is convinced their little ceremony caused a major accident. The next day, the newspapers report a small plane crashed, and two victims—one a young boy—were pulled from the wreckage. Were they responsible? Aimee thinks they are, Melinda won’t accept it, and Lou has problems of her own. It’s a toxic recipe for guilt trips, shame, obsession, blackmail and power games. They’re not bad people. But desperate times call for desperate measures.”
There are three main characters in NOT BAD PEOPLE. Lou is a feisty single mum whose teenage daughter is causing almost as much trouble as she did when she was a teenager. Aimee has a seemingly perfect husband, children, winery, and life. Melinda is successful single businesswoman who has recently moved back to small-town Hensley from the big city.
The three thirty-something woman have been best friends since childhood, mostly because they are related to each other and their parents were friends with each other, just like most small town friendships are formed. Their lives begin to fall apart when an innocent incident on New Years Eve appears to cause an accident and now they are forced to deal with the consequences.
This is made far more complicated by living in small country town where no secret is ever truly safe and resentments have been left to fester for years, generations in some cases.
I really enjoyed NOT BAD PEOPLE and I felt that Brandy Scott set the scene of a small country town – quite similar to the one I grew up in – perfectly. The characters were extremely well-developed and I found myself able to relate to all of the three main characters at different times.
I did find some of the longer chapters would have flowed better for me if they had just focused on one characters at a time rather than going back and forth between all three main characters, but that’s probably just a personal preference of mine.
NOT BAD PEOPLE is a delightful novel, perfectly encapsulating the way small towns react to drama, and hold onto their secrets and resents. I especially loved the dynamics between the three friends and the slow-burning pace of the action.
Perfect for fans of the Moriarty sisters and for relaxing with a nice glass of wine. 4 stars!
I’m thrilled to be sharing with you an exclusive early look at the cover of the latest book by the brilliant Alli Sinclair, THE CINEMA AT STARLIGHT CREEK.
A heart-stirring novel of loss, love and new hope set against the glamorous backdrop of 1950s Hollywood and a small Australian country town.
How far would you go to follow your dream?
Queensland, 1994: When location manager Claire Montgomery arrives in rural Queensland to work on a TV mini-series, she’s captivated by the beauty of Starlight Creek and the surrounding sugarcane fields. Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging, but Claire has never let that stop her pursuing her dreams-until now. She must gain permission to film at Australia’s most historically significant art deco cinema, located at Starlight Creek. But there is trouble ahead. The community is fractured and the cinema’s reclusive owner, Hattie Fitzpatrick, and her enigmatic great nephew, Luke Jackson, stand in her way, putting Claire’s career-launching project-and her heart-at risk.
Hollywood, 1950: Lena Lee has struggled to find the break that will catapult her into a star with influence. She longs for roles about strong, independent women but with Hollywood engulfed in politics and a censorship battle, Lena’s timing is wrong. Forced to keep her love affair with actor Reeves Garrity a secret, Lena puts her career on the line to fight for equality for women in an industry ruled by men. Her generous and caring nature steers her onto a treacherous path, leaving Lena questioning what she is willing to endure to get what she desires.
Can two women-decades apart-uncover lies and secrets to live the life they’ve dared to dream?
Alli Sinclair, an adventurer at heart, has won multiple awards for her writing. She has lived in Argentina, Peru and Canada, and has climbed some of the world’s highest mountains, worked as a tour guide in South and Central America and has travelled the globe. She enjoys immersing herself in exotic destinations, cultures and languages but Australia has always been close to Alli’s heart.
Alli hosts retreats for Writers at Sea and presents writing workshops around Australia, as well as working on international film projects. She’s a volunteer role model with Books in Homes and is an ambassador for the Fiji Book Drive. Alli’s books explore history, culture, love and grief, and relationships between family, friends and lovers. She captures the romance and thrill of discovering old and new worlds, and loves taking readers on a journey of discovery.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered the competition to win a copy of Australian historical romance BURNING FIELDS by Alli Sinclair. I loved hearing about all of the times and places you would like to visit if you could time travel to any time or place in Australia!
Congratulations to Janet Ryan who answered on my Facebookpage that she would like to visit:
“The day the Harbour Bridge opened as it was my grandmother’s wedding day and they had to beg permission to cross the bridge before the formal opening otherwise they wouldn’t have got to the church on time. It would have been lovely to get photos of the new bridge and my Grandmother’s wedding”
Due to a lucky series of events I have a brand new copy Alli Sinclair’s brilliant Australian historical romance novel BURNING FIELDS.
Entry is open to residents of Australia and the lucky winner will be announced Monday the 17th of September.
BURNING FIELDS is set in northern Queensland in 1948, right after World War 2 so to enter simply let me know in the comments section of any of my social media accounts which time and place in Australian history would you love to visit (if you had free access to a time machine!).
To find out more information about BURNING FIELDS and to read my 5 star review visit: https://scatterbooker.wordpress.com/2018/08/28/burning-fields-by-alli-sinclair-allisinclair-5-star-bookreview/
The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength.
After her family suffers a tragedy when she is nine years old, Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her estranged grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak. But Alice also learns that there are secrets within secrets about her past. Under the watchful eye of June and The Flowers, women who run the farm, Alice grows up. But an unexpected betrayal sends her reeling, and she flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. Alice thinks she has found solace, until she falls in love with Dylan, a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is a story about stories: those we inherit, those we select to define us, and those we decide to hide. It is a novel about the secrets we keep and how they haunt us, and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive. Spanning twenty years, set between the lush sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, Alice must go on a journey to discover that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.
THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a haunting tale of family secrets, betrayal, and how the stories of the past impact the future.
Alice Hart grows up with an abusive father and downtrodden mother who still does her best to protect her daughter and teach her the language of native Australian flowers that she had learned from her mother in law. When tragedy strikes Alice is taken in by her grandmother, June. June is a flower farmer who takes in women doing it tough and caretaker of the language of flowers created by her ancestors and their family history. When Alice takes of to the Australian desert where she discovers that she is doomed to repeat the tragic history of her past unless she is able to come to terms with her own story.
I loved the language of Australian native flowers that Ringland created to tell this story. Each chapter begins with a description of a different native flower and what it means in the language created by Alice’s family. THE LOST FLOWERS OF ALICE HART is a brilliantly crafted debut novel that will definitely appeal to a wide audience.
*Thank you HarperCollins Publishers for sending me a copy to review.
About the Author
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother’s tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.
Inspired by the author’s own family experience. The Brennans – parents Finn and Bridget, and their sons, Jarrah and Toby – have made a sea change, shifting from chilly Hobart to a sprawling purple weatherboard in subtropical Murwillumbah. Feeling like foreigners in this land of sun and surf, they are only just starting to settle when, one morning, tragedy strikes – changing their lives forever.
Determined to protect his wife, Finn finds himself under the police and media spotlight. Guilty and enraged, Bridget spends her nights hunting answers in the last place imaginable. Jarrah – his innocence lost – is propelled suddenly from his teens into frightening adulthood. As all three are pushed to the limit, questions fly: Who is to blame? And what does it take to forgive?
A haunting and ultimately redemptive story about what it takes to forgive.
PRAISE FOR JESSE BLACKADDER’S RAVEN’S HEART AND CHASING THE LIGHT
‘… utterly intriguing and completely unputdownable … The writing is evocative and powerful’ Good Reading
‘Her writing immerses the reader in the beauty and danger of the Southern Ocean and the sights, sounds and smells of Antarctica. Verdict: DAZZLING’ Herald Sun
Sixty Seconds is a heartbreaking Australian novel about a family coping with the drowning death of two year old Toby in the family pool. The Brennan family have recently moved from cold and wet Hobart Tasmania to subtropical Murwillumbah NSW when the tragic death of their youngest son, the Brennan family are left wondering if they will ever be able to forgive each other or themselves for the tragic accident.
The novel is told from the POV’s of the Brennan family. Finn is an emerging artist and stay at home Dad. Bridget has always been the main provider of the family, working at a university in Hobart and now researching koalas for the NSW Government Environmental Department. Jarrah is a 15 year old struggling with teenage angst and bullying with a secret of his own. When Finn’s art finally begins to take off Bridget needs to take care of the children so he can finish his big commissions on time. It is during the breakfast rush that Toby finds his way into the family’s pool and drowns in less than a minute. In the aftermath the family is left with nothing but questions. How did it happen? Who is to blame? And will they ever be able to forgive each other?
I loved this book! Jesse Blackadder lost her baby sister in a drowning death when she was a child. Although Sixty Seconds is a fictional story, it is evident that the author understands how the death of a child in such a tragic accident can tear a family apart. Hearing the story of Toby’s drowning and the aftermath from the perspectives of the entire Brennan family really highlighted how tragedy can destroy a family. and the importance of forgiveness in these situations.