NOT BAD PEOPLE, a contemporary Australian drama by debut author Brandy Scott @HeyBrandyScott

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!

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NOT BAD PEOPLE by Brandy Scott

“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.”

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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!

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NOT BAD PEOPLE by Brandy Scott and a lovely bottle of wine 

 

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THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by John Purcell (@Bookeboy) exposes the seedy underbelly of publishing while pondering the meaning of great literature. #BookReview

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THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by John Purcell

Goodreads Description

Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption. A punchy, powerful and page-turning novel about the redemptive power of great literature, from industry insider, John Purcell.

Amy Winston is a hard-drinking, bed-hopping, hot-shot young book editor on a downward spiral. Having made her name and fortune by turning an average thriller writer into a Lee Child, Amy is given the unenviable task of steering literary great Helen Owen back to publication.

When Amy knocks on the door of their beautiful townhouse in north-west London, Helen and her husband, the novelist Malcolm Taylor, are conducting a silent war of attrition. The townhouse was paid for with the enormous seven-figure advance Helen was given for the novel she wrote to end fifty years of making ends meet on critical acclaim alone. The novel Malcolm thinks unworthy of her. The novel Helen has yet to deliver. The novel Amy has come to collect.

Amy has never faced a challenge like this one. Helen and Malcolm are brilliant, complicated writers who unsettle Amy into asking questions of herself – questions about what she values, her principles, whether she has integrity, whether she is authentic. Before she knows it, answering these questions becomes a matter of life or death.

From ultimate book industry insider, John Purcell, comes a literary page-turner, a ferocious and fast-paced novel that cuts to the core of what it means to balance ambition and integrity, and the redemptive power of great literature.

Details

Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 24th 2018 by 4th Estate – AU
ISBN
1460756975 (ISBN13: 9781460756973)

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My Review 

“Two women, two great betrayals, one path to redemption.”

THE GIRL ON THE PAGE by Australian publishing insider, John Purcell, exposes the seedy underbelly of publishing while pondering the meaning of great literature.

Amy Winston is a hard working and hard partying young editor who made her career launch off the ground by taking an average thriller writer and turning him into a household name. She is given the unenviable task of doing the same for literary giant, Helen Owen.

Helen and her husband, Malcolm Taylor, have been at odds with each other ever since Helen undertook the huge signing bonus to write the novel Amy has been told to edit into the commercial success of the year and moved them out of the tiny flat they had shared and written literary fiction in, even sharing an office, for more than 50 years.

When Amy walks into this complicated situation and agrees to stay at Helen and Malcolm’s flat until the novel is completed she bites off far more than she bargained for and is left to question her career, her principles, and what is the meaning of great literature.

THE GIRL ON THE PAGE was far more deep and meaningful than I expected from all of the buzz surrounding it. I’ve seen/heard a lot of comparisons to the television series “YOUNGER” and while they are similar in how they take us behind the scenes of the publishing industry, I don’t think that comparison really does “THE GIRL ON THE PAGE” justice. There were plenty of gritty sex scenes and a fascinating insider’s view of the publishing industry. John Purcell’s industry insider credentials are very strong, as he is the current Director of Books at Booktopia and owned his own bookshop for many years. I particularly loved the inside joke of the title of both this novel and the fictional “GIRL ON GIRL” novel. It does seem as though every second popular book at the moment has either “girl” or “woman” in the title!

“THE GIRL ON THE PAGE” is far more gritty, fast-paced, and shocking than “YOUNGER”. It will certainly cause you to ask yourself what does great literature mean to you? I particularly loved the final pages where Malcolm discusses what great literature means to him, and couldn’t agree more with his use of Jane Austen’s “EMMA” as an example of great literature.

5 stars!

About the Author

 

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John Purcell, photo credit  Sarah Louise Kinsella

 

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing.

Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines.

​Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.

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My #BookReview of the atmospheric psychological suspense novel THE BOY AT THE DOOR by Alex Dahl @alexdahlauthor

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THE BOY AT THE DOOR by Alex Dahl

Goodreads Description

This riveting psychological suspense debut by Alex Dahl asks the question, “how far would you go to hold on to what you have?”

Cecilia Wilborg has it all–a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, and a gorgeous home in an affluent Norwegian suburb. And she works hard to keep it all together. Too hard…

There is no room for mistakes in her life. Even taking home a little boy whose parents forgot to pick him up at the pool can put a crimp in Cecilia’s carefully planned schedule. Especially when she arrives at the address she was given
and finds an empty, abandoned house…

There’s nothing for Cecilia to do but to take the boy home with her, never realizing that soon his quiet presence and knowing eyes will trigger unwelcome memories from her past–and unravel her meticulously crafted life…

My Review 

“What would you do for the perfect life? Would you lie? Cheat? Or…kill?”

THE BOY AT THE DOOR by debut author Alex Dahl is full of atmospheric Nordic suspense that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

Cecilia Wilborg has the perfect life with her handsome husband and two gorgeous daughters in the picturesque Norwegian town of Sandefjord. When the tiny and abandoned 8 year old Tobias needs a place to stay Cecilia’s perfect life slowly begins to unravel before her very eyes.

THE BOY AT THE DOOR is a brilliantly twisty and turny debut from half-American, half-Norwegian Dahl. There were a couple of times that I did need to suspend disbelief, such as the explanation for how Tobias came to stay in the Wilborg home for such an extended period, but once I decided to go with it I was too caught up with the mystery and suspense to worry about it.

I loved the first person narrative style, particularly from Cecilia’s perspective. She really did begin the novel as the perfect rich bitchy Mummy type and brilliantly descended further into madness as the novel progressed. I particularly loved the scene where she threw a champagne bottle at some of her frenemies!

A delightfully suspenseful debut and I’ll be looking forward to reading more from Alex Dahl.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

About the Author

 

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Alex Dahl

Half American, half Norwegian, Alex Dahl was born in Oslo. She graduated with a BA in Russian and German Linguistics with International studies and went on to complete an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, followed by an MSc in Business Management at Bath University. Alex has published short stories in the UK and the US as well as a novel, Before I Leave You, in Norway in 2013. Alexandra is a serious Francophile and currently lives between London and Sandefjord.

Sandefjord is the setting of Alex’s new novel, The Boy at the Door, a brilliant psychological thriller which has already attracted worldwide interest and book deals in UK, USA, Germany, Portugal, Italy, Czech Republic and Sweden.

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Book Launch: ‘The First Year’ by Genevieve Gannon @Gen_Gannon

About the Book

‘Genevieve Gannon writes with a fresh and funny narrative voice … chick lit at its very, very best’ Tess Woods, author of Love at First Flight

The first year of marriage is hard no matter what. Throw in jealous exes, high-pressure careers and two wildly different families, and the degree of difficulty goes up a few more notches. Determined to beat the odds, one couple comes up with a plan to keep their romance alive – but life has other ideas.

Saskia is an up-and-coming jewellery designer, waiting tables at a trendy cafe to keep her fledgling company afloat. Andrew is a corporate lawyer who wants to be known for more than his family’s money. They’re passionate about their work and each other, but with Andy’s job in jeopardy and Saskia’s jewellery label taking off, the pressure is taking its toll.

As life pulls them in different directions, the two of them are forced to decide: Just how important is their marriage? And how hard are they willing to work to protect it?

‘A clever and entertaining read-into-the-wee-hours-of-morning story about love, creativity and the things that make us tick. Genevieve Gannon writes with passion and wit in a story you’ll relate to whether you’ve struggled through love, art or the wrath of public transport ticket inspectors.’ Claire Varley, author of The Bit in Between

Details

Title: The First Year 

Author: Genevieve Gannon

ISBN: 9781460708460

Published: April 24th 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Genre: Chick Lit, Romance, Romantic Comedy

I’m looking forward to reading this one with a nice coffee or two!!

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Conjuror #bookreview

conjurorI have to admit that I am a massive Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Captain Jack Harkness fan, so I was a little bit geeked out to have the opportunity to read John Barrowman’s latest novel written in collaboration with his sister, Carole E. Barrowman.

There were a lot of features that I loved about this novel. First of all, there was a really great mix of diverse characters. Considering that Conjuror’s target audience is mostly teenagers, it made me smile to find a bad ass female Indian policewoman, an African American teenager, and LGBT characters all in the one book like it was no big deal.

Secondly, combining magic, mystery, art, and music into the same book is a pretty interesting concept and not something you come across every day.

I did feel as though I had missed out on some of the general background of the characters, especially the twins, although I have recently discovered that they appear in the Hollow Earth series also, so that’s probably why I felt their stories just jumped right in.

I would recommend Conjuror to fans of YA fantasy. It was an enjoyable and quick read, with some really interesting and diverse characters and concepts. I will definitely be hanging out to read the second installment because I’m dying to find out what happens next!

Description

Sixteen-year-old twins Matt and Em Calder are Animare: they can bring art to life, and travel in time through paintings. They work for Orion—the Animare MI5—protecting the secrecy of their order and investigating crimes committed by their own kind. It’s dangerous work. But when they are sent to Edinburgh to find a teenage boy who can alter reality with his music, they are drawn into something more dangerous still. For this boy, Remy, is the Conjurer’s Son. And he carries something that could change humanity forever.

Details

Title: Conjuror (Orion Chronicles #1)

Author: John and Carole E. Barrowman

ISBN: 9781781856376

Published:  April 21st 2016 by Head of Zeus
Genre:  Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy
Pages: 320
Source: Review copy from publisher (HarperCollins Australia)

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Yearbook Committee is being described as this generation’s The Breakfast Club and I theyearbookcommitteecovercan see why! The setting for this novel takes place in a private school. Five Year 12 students are thrown together onto the yearbook committee and we get to read about their progress over the entire school year.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the members of the yearbook committee who are all dealing with their own personal issues while they are completing their final year of high school. Despite the fact that almost none of them are on the committee by choice they gradually form friendships with each other and put together a pretty amazing yearbook.

The Yearbook Committee tackles some serious issues. Bullying is a major theme, and it’s the kind of insidious, relentless gossip that is unfortunately far too common among females. It can be so difficult to pinpoint or deal with and I think Ayoub did a brilliant job of depicting it realistically. This kind of bullying has always been around in high schools (and some workplaces!), but it can be so much worse when it moves online. The problem with the internet is that everything on it is permanent and public. So, unlike the pre-internet days when you could go home from school and it didn’t exist bullying now follows teenagers everywhere they go, even when they graduate! Apologies for the rant here, but it’s a subject dear to my Internet Communications geek heart. Getting back on topic, brilliant job by the author to raise such an important issue in the language that teenagers will pay attention to!

This novel also tackles such issues as family and peer pressure, mental illness, self-esteem issues, gender stereotyping and questions about friendships, decency and life after school. And it is all presented in a non-preachy and brilliant story with interesting and well-developed characters that teenagers and YA fans will fall in love with. Bonus points from me because it was set in Sydney with many references to my hometown, Melbourne. And yes, Charlie should definitely visit Lord of the Fries when she goes to Melbourne for the weekend, but not with Pete because he’s a jerk!

Description

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

Details

Title: The Yearbook Committee

Author: Sarah Ayoub

Published:  29 February 2016 HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780732296858

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 304

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman

 Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again… rebecca

Rebecca’s Tale is an unauthorised sequel of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic mystery. The year is 1951 and Colonel Arthur Julyan, long-time friend of the De Winter family, is still haunted by the circumstances of her death. With the help of his daughter, Ellie, and mysterious newcomer, Terance Grey, he determines to uncover the mysteries surrounding Rebecca’s death and her life before Manderlay.

The novel is told from multiple points of view, Colonel Julyan, Ellie, Terrance Grey, and Rebecca. During the course of their investigations Rebecca’s journal is discovered! Her journal details her childhood and why/how she came to marry Maxim De Winter and come to Manderlay. I loved reading from Rebecca’s point of view, even if she is proven to be an unreliable narrator, along with everybody in this story.

A lot of people have posted negative reviews of this novel. I think the biggest issue is that this version of Rebecca doesn’t match the way they see her. The author does use quite a lot of poetic license to create her version of Rebecca and the other characters. I really love this novel, though. It’s not quite as atmospheric or mysterious as the original, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Description

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family’s estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca’s tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

Details

Title Rebecca’s Tale

Author Sally Beauman

ISBN 006117467X (ISBN13: 9780061174674)

Published 2000

Pages 464

Genre Mystery, Suspense, Historical Fiction, Gothic

Source Own Copy

My Rating 5/5 stars

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