Jan-Feb Reading Wrap-Up

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Some of the books I reviewed in January and February 

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!

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Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

Read my review 

Books I read in February

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.

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Love and Other Battles by Tess Woods

Read my review

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean is another great Aussie novel: a bit a a Gothic mystery set in the 90s.

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The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

Read my Review 

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!

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Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe

Read my review 

The Accusation by Wendy James is a gripping Aussie thriller that had me guessing until the very end.

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The Accusation by Wendy James

Read my review 

I ran a giveaway for the hilarious So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter. I loved hearing about everybody’s favourite love stories and hope Melanie, the randomly chosen winner, enjoys her new book!

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So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter

Read my review

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.

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Postcript by Cecelia AhernRead my review

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.

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The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

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!

 

Book Review: The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

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The Van Apfel Girls are Gone by Felicity McLean

My Review

A dark and atmospheric Aussie mystery set in the 90s. 

Tikka Molloy returns to her hometown in the suburbs of Sydney and she can’t help but remember the summer of 1992 when the Van Apfel girls mysteriously disappeared. Tikka was only 11 years old when her neighbours – Cordelia, Ruth, and Hannah – went missing, but the events of that fateful summer still haunt her. Her memories are sharp and vivid, although they are obviously tinged with the naivety of the very young.

Australian readers will appreciate the nostalgic early 1990s setting of the novel and the very Aussie language and colloquialisms. I found the inclusion of the Lindy Chamberlain trial an interesting way to place the novel squarely in that era, although I’m not sure how well I was able to connect it with the events in the novel.

I was caught up in the mystery surrounding the missing Van Apfel Girls and loved the dark and atmospheric writing. The mystery doesn’t get resolved in the end, but I think that suits this story and its dream-like feel.

4 stars!

 

Synopsis

‘We lost all three girls that summer. Let them slip away like the words of some half-remembered song and when one came back, she wasn’t the one we were trying to recall to begin with.’

So begins Tikka Molloy’s recounting of the summer of 1992 – the summer the Van Apfel sisters, Hannah, the beautiful Cordelia and Ruth – disappear.

Eleven and one-sixth years old, Tikka is the precocious narrator of this fabulously endearing coming-of-age story, set in an eerie Australian river valley suburb with an unexplained stench. The Van Apfel girls vanish from the valley during the school’s ‘Showstopper’ concert, held at the outdoor amphitheatre by the river. While the search for the sisters unites the small community on Sydney’s urban fringe, the mystery of their disappearance remains unsolved forever.

Brilliantly observed, sharp, lively, funny and entirely endearing, this novel is part mystery, part coming-of-age story – and quintessentially Australian. Think The Virgin Suicides meets Jasper Jones meets Picnic at Hanging Rock.

Details

Author: Felicity McLean

Published: April 1st 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Source: Publisher

Read: Paperback, 304 pages, 2019

Goodreads

Amazon AU

Amazon US

Amazon UK