‘Is there any doubt that Don Winslow is the greatest?’ New York Times
In five intense novellas connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, heart-stopping, heartbreaking best. In Broken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.
With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction.
PRAISE FOR DON WINSLOW:
‘He’s a master’ Michael Connelly
‘One of the best in the field … a writer for whom nuance and multiple levels are articles of faith’ Independent
‘Winslow’s the best’ Stephen King
‘You should try to get your hands on everything Winslow’s written, because he’s one of the best thriller writers on the planet’ Esquire
Don Winslowis the author of twenty-one acclaimed, award-winning international bestsellers, including the New York Times bestseller and sensation The Force, the #1 international bestseller The Cartel, The Power of the Dog, Savages, and The Winter of Frankie Machine. Savages was made into a major film by three-time Oscar-winning writer-director Oliver Stone. The Power of the Dog, The Cartel and The Border sold to FX in a major multi-million-dollar deal to air as a weekly TV series beginning in 2020. A former investigator, anti-terrorist trainer and trial consultant, Winslow lives in California and Rhode Island.
Nana, a cat, is devoted to Satoru, his owner. So when Satoru decides to go on a roadtrip one day to find him a new home, Nana is perplexed. They visit Satoru’s old friends from his school days and early youth. His friends may have untidy emotional lives but they are all animal lovers, and they also wonder why Satoru is trying to give his beloved cat away. Until the day Nana suddenly understands a long-held secret about his much-loved owner, and his heart begins to break.
Narrated in turns by Nana and by his owner, this funny, uplifting, heartrending story of a cat is nothing if not profoundly human.
“It’s not the journey that counts, but who is by your side”
A book about love, kindness, and a man and his cat’s heartwarming journey around Japan. The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, translated by Philip Gabriel, is a beautiful Japanese translation that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. A must read for all cat lovers.
Nana is a stray cat and is very proud of his street smarts until Satoru discovers him sleeping on his silver van and and begins to feed him tasty treats. Nana soon comes to trust Satoru with his life and decides that he will stay with him, even when Satoru tells him that they must leave their home to find a new person to care for Nana.
Nana doesn’t mind travelling in the silver van, he is happy anywhere as long as he is with Satoru. He also makes sure to cause problems in each of the old school friends homes they visit so that he is able to continue his travels with Satoru.
I loved this book and I loved the idea and execution of Nana narrating parts of the story. All cat slaves will recognise Nana’s sarcastic sense of humour, his judgmental attitude, his attraction to warm objects and old cardboard boxes, and his unwavering belief that he is superior to every animal he meets, especially humans.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles does have an enormously sad ending, but it is one of those special kind of sad endings that is beautiful, heartwarming, and worth all the tears. I honestly can’t remember the last book that had me sobbing like this one did, but I would still read it again and recommend it to anybody who has loved a cat and knows that their cat/s loved them back.
What if you gave birth to someone else’s child? A gripping family drama inspired by a real-life case of an IVF laboratory mix-up.
‘Engagingly and unflinchingly told, Gannon’s new novel, The Mothers, is the story of every parent’s worst nightmare. It is that novel that makes you muse on the most difficult of questions … What makes a mother? And can you ever un-become one? Like all my favourite books, The Mothers is both heartbreaking and heartwarming, and it leaves you with a lot to think about after you turn the final page. I sobbed my way through this wonderful book.’ – Sally Hepworth, bestselling author of The Mother-in-Law
Two couples. One baby. An unimaginable choice.
Grace and Dan Arden are in their forties and have been on the IVF treadmill since the day they got married. Six attempts have yielded no results and with each failure a little piece of their hope dies.
Indian-Australian Priya Laghari and her husband Nick Archer are being treated at the same fertility clinic and while the younger couple doesn’t face the same time pressure as the Ardens, the Archers have their own problems. Priya suspects Nick is cheating and when she discovers a dating app on his phone her worst fears are confirmed.?
Priya leaves Nick and goes through an IVF cycle with donor sperm. On the day of her appointment, Grace and Dan also go in for their final, last-chance embryo transfer. Two weeks later the women both get their results: Grace is pregnant. Priya is not.?
A year later, angry and heart-broken, Priya learns her embryo was implanted in another woman’s uterus and must make a choice: live a childless life knowing her son is being raised by strangers or seek custody of a baby that has been nurtured and loved by another couple.
“Two Couples, One Baby, An Unimaginable Choice”
The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon is a powerful family drama inspired by a real-life case where two couples are forced to battle it out in court to determine who a baby’s rightful mother is after a mix-up at a fertility clinic. Is it the woman who is genetically linked to the baby or the woman who gave birth?
The first half of the novel focuses on two couple’s IVF journeys which enables us to intimately get to know them and the difficulties they faced trying to get pregnant. Grace and Dan went through 6 stages of IVF and are in their 40s, while Nick and Priya were younger, but facing a serious relationship breakdown due to the stress caused by IVF. I thought this section was really well-done and I imagine it is an accurate portrayal of how IVF treatment must negatively affect people. By the end of this section I was fully invested in both couples having a happy ending.
The second half of the novel examines how the mix-up was discovered, the reaction of the couples and the IVF facility, and the gut-wrenching court case. I had to put this novel down for a short while after the verdict because it was so emotional. I was heartbroken for the mother who lost, although I ultimately do agree with the decision that was made.
Genevieve Gannon has outdone herself with this novel. The characters are so well developed, and their fertility battles and the court case, are described in such an empathetic way that I found myself rooting for all of them. The Mothers is an emotional read, but it does end on a positive note. I loved this book and I can’t wait to find out what is coming next from Genevieve Gannon.
This year got off to a slow start reading wise but I certainly made up for that in February. I managed to get myself out of a long blogging slump, catch up on most of my outstanding book reviews from last year, and I have read some fabulous books.
On a personal level, the start of this year was a little bit insane. The bush fires affected almost all of us here in Australia in some way or another, and although the worst fires have mostly been contained now, there is a long road to recovery ahead and issues to overcome.
I have also finally knuckled down and am writing a terrible first draft of the novel that has been knocking around inside my head for a good while now. I’m off to a good start so far and have come up with a good writing routine that is working for me, so fingers crossed it turns into a final draft some day!
Books I read in January
I only managed to read one book in January, but it was a corker! Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton is already an Aussie classic, and rightfully so. It’s a bit of tricky book to classify genre-wise, but just trust me, you need to read this one!
My next review, and first February, review was Love and Other Battles by Australian romance powerhouse Tess Woods. Love and Other Battles is a multi-generational family saga that moves between the Australian suburbs, the Vietnam Wars, and the bright lights of Nashville.
Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe was my first non-fiction read of the year and I recommend this book, or its children’s counterpart Dark Emu, to everyone in Australia. Dark Emu challenges the idea that Aboriginal Australians were only hunter-gatherers before colonisation and provides compelling evidence for this argument. A must read!
Postscript by Cecelia Ahern is the long awaited sequel to PS I Love You. I thought it was a lovely sequel to such a well-loved book and movie, not an easy task to accomplish, but it was very well done.
I loved Blackthorn by Terry Tyler. It’s set in the future a couple of generations after a virus wiped out most of the world. Blackthorn is the largest community in the UK and a charismatic young traveller brings back spirituality. This novel is part of Terry Tyler’s Project Renova universe, but it can also easily be read as a stand-alone novel.
My final book review for February was The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan. This is the third book of the Irish Detective Cormac Reilly series and I think it might be the best one yet. This series if perfect for you if you love character driven crime fiction and gritty Irish detectives whose accent you can hear while reading.
What’s Coming up in March?
I am planning to keep up my reading and writing routines, so look out for some fabulous new book reviews over the next month.
I don’t want to tie myself down too much, but if you take a look at the bookshelf in my main photo you might be able to spy some of the books I will be reading soon in the background.
I’m currently reading and loving The Mothers by Genevieve Gannon, so you should be seeing a review for that very soon!
Thrilling Aussie noir. The Accusation by Wendy James will keep you guessing until the very end!
When Ellie Canning is found on the side of the road in a small country town her story explodes on the news and social media. Ellie is a young attractive blonde, and her story about being kidnapped and held hostage by two crazy women is fascinating.
At first it seems ridiculous when the local teacher, newcomer Suzannah Wells, is accused of kidnapping Ellie, but as the evidence begins to pile and things quickly begin to unravel, it suddenly doesn’t seem so unlikely.
I flip-flopped the entire way through this novel. Sometimes it seemed as though Ellie had to be telling the truth, sometimes it seemed impossible that it could have been kind Suzannah who had abruptly put life on hold to care for her elderly mother with dementia. I genuinely had no idea what the truth was until the very end.
I also really enjoyed the media/social media aspect of this novel. Wendy James has done a fantastic job at highlighting how things can be distorted by the media and will make you question everything you see online.
Eighteen-year-old Ellie Canning is found shivering and barely conscious on a country road, clad only in ill-fitting pyjamas. Her story of kidnap and escape quickly enthrals the nation: a middle-aged woman with a crazy old mother has held Ellie in a basement, chained her to a bed and given her drinks from an old baby’s sippy cup. But who was this woman and what did she want with Ellie? And what other secrets might she hide?
When the accusation is levelled at local teacher Suzannah Wells, no one seems more bewildered than Suzannah herself … to start with. The preposterous charge becomes manifestly more real as she loses her job and her friends. And the evidence is strong: a dementia-affected mother, a house with a basement, a sippy cup that belonged to her long-dead daughter. And Ellie Canning’s DNA everywhere. As stories about Susannah’s past emerge, even those closest to her begin to doubt she’s innocent.
And Ellie? The media can’t get enough of her. She’s a girl-power icon, a social-media star. But is she telling the truth?
A powerful exploration of the fragility of trust, and the power of suggestion, from the author of The Golden Child and The Mistake.
PRAISE FOR THE GOLDEN CHILD
‘The novel is cleverly constructed, the characters are extremely well-drawn, the use of social media as a plot device is very sophisticated, and the resolution is a genuine surprise’ Judges’ report, Ned Kelly Crime Awards, 2017
‘This is domestic noir at its most intelligent and sharp’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘It takes 48 hours to pulse through Wendy James’ rollercoaster 21st century story about parenting’ Australian Women’s Weekly
‘an engaging and intimate read that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult, with nods to Lionel Shriver and Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap . . . 4 Stars’ Books & Publishing
I can’t wait to read the next installment of Dervla McTiernan’s Detective Cormac Reilly mystery series, The Good Turn. Coming to a bookshop near you in 2020!
‘With her third novel Dervla McTiernan confirms she’s a born storyteller’
Award-winning, number one bestseller Dervla McTiernan has established herself as one of the biggest names in crime fiction, with both The Rúin and The Scholar garnering critical acclaim around the world and over 130,000 copies of McTiernan’s books sold in in Australia and New Zealand alone.
In 2020, McTiernan returns with her third Detective Cormac Reilly mystery, The Good Turn. Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.
While Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter
Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone. For some, like Anna and her young daughter Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Rúin, was published in 2018 and went on to become a huge international success, receiving rave reviews from both critics and readers. The Rúin, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, the Davitt Award for Best Adult Novel and the Barry Award for Best Paperback Original. It was shortlisted in two categories for the 2018 Irish Book Awards, for the 2019 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards and the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards, and longlisted for the 2019 Indie Awards. Screen rights for The Rúin have been snapped up by Colin Farrell’s production company and Hopscotch. Dervla’s second novel, The Scholar, debuted straight into the Nielsen Bookscan Top 5 on release in 2019, confirming her place as one of Australia’s best crime writers. Detective Cormac Reilly and his team have become firm favourites amongst readers and the crime fiction community, with Val McDermid, Don Winslow, Candice Fox, Jane Casey and Chris Hammer all devoted fans of McTiernan’s writing.
Dervla was born in County Cork, Ireland, to a family of seven. She studied corporate law at the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Law Society of Ireland, and practiced as a lawyer for twelve years. Following the global financial crisis, she moved with her family to Western Australia, where she now lives with her husband and two children. An avid fan of crime and detective novels from childhood, Dervla now writes full-time.
I was lucky to be at the beautiful Mornington Library just in time to catch an author event featuring Karen Viggers, author of the The Stranding, The Lightkeeper’s Wife, The Grass Castle, and her latest novel, The Orchardist’s Daughter.
Sixteen-year old Mikaela has grown up isolated and home-schooled on an apple orchard in southeastern Tasmania, until an unexpected event shatters her family. Eighteen months later, she and her older brother Kurt are running a small business in a timber town. Miki longs to make connections and spend more time in her beloved forest, but she is kept a virtual prisoner by Kurt, who leads a secret life of his own.
When Miki meets Leon, another outsider, things slowly begin to change. But the power to stand up for yourself must come from within. And Miki has to fight to uncover the truth of her past and discover her strength and spirit.
Set in the old-growth eucalypt forests and vast rugged mountains of southern Tasmania, The Orchardist’s Daughter is an uplifting story about friendship, resilience and finding the courage to break free.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Karen talk about books, as well as her writing and publishing process. It was fantastic to hear an author be so honest about all the hard work that goes into writing a book and I think many aspiring authors would be encouraged to learn that it took five years and a huge rewrite before The Orchardist’s Daughter was finished!
The large audience was fantastic to see and Karen answered the many thoughtful questions fantastically. I don’t think I would ever be able to think so quickly on my feet!
Many thanks to Karen Viggers for such an interesting talk, the Mornington Libraryfor organsing the event and providing such a great event room, and the local independent bookstore Farrell’s Bookshop for being on hand with copies of The Orchardist’s Daughter at the ready. I’m looking forward to reading my copy soon!
About the Author
Karen Viggers writes contemporary realist fiction set in Australian landscapes, and her work explores connection with the bush, grief and loss, healing in nature, death, family, marriage and friendship. Her books tackle contentious issues including choices at the end of life, whale rescue, kangaroo culling, scientific research on animals and logging of native forests.
Karen is a wildlife veterinarian who has worked and traveled in many remote parts of Australia, from Antarctica to the Kimberley. Her novels are known for their evocative portrayal of Australian people and landscapes.
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!
Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?
The women in these startlingly original stories are all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Was Kept on the Shelf and The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.
Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.”
Each story involves a different woman who is undergoing an issue that makes them feel uncomfortable, undecided, or angry told from a feminist perspective. In short, all the women in these stories want to roar!
The main idea behind these stories is wonderfully original, as they are told through allegories. Some of the situations are really quite outlandish, but they mostly managed to ring quite true.
I found myself able to relate to many of the characters and the universal everyday issues they experienced as women struggling to have it all, as we do often do in this day and age. None of the main characters were given names, and I felt this was a nice touch that really made the women feel like ‘every woman.’
ROAR is a refreshing and creative take on feminism. I did feel that it became somewhat repetitive, but the ideas behind it are fascinating. 4 stars!
I’ve been hoarding my beautiful Vintage Classic edition of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY for some time, so I was excited to make the time to revisit an old favourite during my month of selfish reading.
I was giving the gentlest of nudges to hurry up and get reading by the brilliant author of THE GIRL ON THE PAGE,John Purcell, who reminded me of the universality of Jane Austen’s novels in his bestselling debut. We have since bonded on Twitter over our mutual agreement that there is no problem in the world that can’t be made better by curling up my favourite classic author.
“I do not attempt to deny,” said she, “that I think very highly of him – that I greatly esteem, that I like him.”
Paperback, 444 pages
Published: June 26th 2014 by Vintage Classics (first published October 30th 1811)
“Elinor is as prudent as her sister Marianne is impetuous. Each must learn from the other after they are they are forced by their father’s death to leave their home and enter into the contests of polite society. The charms of unsuitable men and the schemes of rival ladies mean that their paths to success are thwart with disappointment but together they attempt to find a way to happiness.”
It’s been years since I read SENSE AND SENSIBILITY, or any of Jane Austen’s novels, and it felt just like catching up with a good friend. Austen’s debut novel tells the story of two sisters, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, who are about as different as two sisters can be.
Marianne is the youngest and has the very strong opinions commonly found in teenagers. She is convinced that her future husband will love all the same things as she does, will sweep her off her feet in a whirlwind romance, and that it is only possible to truly love one person.
Elinor is far more sensible and spends a great deal of her time making excuses for Marianne’s rudeness to potential beaux and well-meaning neighbours alike.
The novel begins when Mr Dashwood’s death means that the girls and their mother are forced to leave their home to allow their elder half brother and his greedy wife to move in. This reflects Austen’s own life, as she was also forced to move due to unfavourable inheritances.
Marianne finds romance with the charming Willoughby, while scorning the elder and far more steady Colonel Brandon. Elinor is left wondering if her romance with her sister in law’s brother, Edward Ferrars, was all she thought it was when she encounters a rival she never knew existed.
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. Even though this was Austen’s very first novel, it is a delightful read. I couldn’t help but think on this reading that a lot of the problems he characters went through were very British and could have been solved with a little bit of straight talking, but their polite inability to say what they really think is one of the reasons the rest of the world loves the British so much.