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Reviews Published

Friday, October 30, 2020

The Survivors by Jane Harper

I'll be forever grateful to my book club for introducing me to many, many beautiful books. I fell in love with Jane Harper's writing when I read her debut thriller, and she continues to deliver atmospheric character-driven suspense.

"The Survivors" ticks all the boxes: a sense of place so strong you can smell the chilly salt in the Tasmanian air, characters that come to life and sit next to you while you read, a few old secrets. It's a page-turner, it's escapist, it makes you think long after you've reached the end.

In case you still need the blurb:

Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran's parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away...  



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Silence

I want to say that "The Silence" by Susan Allott has left me silent, and I'm so worried this will sound like a turn of phrase,but I'll say it anyway. After turning the last page, I thought for a bit. Then I read the Author's Note (which I rarely do, because it usually contains a bunch of thank-you notes to people I don't know), then I thought some more.

"The Silence" is not really a thinking book. It's a who-dun-it that swiftly switches between 1967 and 1997, between Australia and England. It's a fast read, it's an engaging read. And it leaves you sitting quietly and thinking for a bit. About the harsh beauty of Australia, about its history, about the Stolen Generations.




Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

This is the best thing I've read in a long time. I couldn't make up my mind whether to race on to see how the story unfolded, or pause every few pages to prolong the pleasure of being in Crow Lake. Mary Lawson (a Canadian writer, and, according to the Wikipedia, a distant relative of LM Montgomery) has created a masterpiece of balance between the past and the present, between the mystery and the microscopic mindfulness, between beautiful writing and simplicity.

What is the book about? Family, love, destiny, happiness, living in a small community in Northern Ontario.


Saturday, July 11, 2020

The Secrets We Kept

"The Secrets We Kept" by Lara Prescott is a fantastic read: engaging, thought-provoking, moving. I used to think I didn't care for spy thrillers - now I know I didn't care for male-centric spy thrillers. Women spies - bring them on!

The book follows women who work for the CIA during the Cold War. Over in Russia, the plot revolves around the woman who was the inspiration for "Doctor Zhivago", a book that the CIA is hoping to turn into an anti-Soviet weapon.

As you fall in love with the characters, you get a glimpse of what life was like in the 1950s on both sides of the Iron Curtain.


Cry Baby

This one's different! I've been following Mark Billingham since his first official visit to New Zealand (the Auckland Writers' Festival), where he shared the podium with two other authors and joked that with that many people in the audience, we could all go up and hold the presentation in his hotel room. I fell in love with his humour right then and promptly bought "Sleepyhead" and all those that came after. I don't regret it.

***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS***

The plot of "Cry Baby", written two decades after "Sleepyhead", actually predates it. Don't let it be the first Tom Thorne book you read, because you'll deprive yourself of the little "aha" moments when Tom meets Phil Hendricks for the first time, or walks away from his future flat in Kentish Town, or visits his parents. "Cry Baby" is a throwback to the times when people didn't carry cell phones and there was no CCTV footage to do the police legwork - and it's also a throwback to a younger, less cynical, Tom.

Of course, if you don't want to commit to reading 16 Tom Thorne books before "Cry Baby", go right ahead. It can be enjoyed as a stand-alone. 



Monday, June 29, 2020

Exit

A difficult topic skilfully explored. 

****Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD ****

"Exit" by Belinda Bauer is about the controversial question of whether a terminally patient has the right to end their own life. The characters in the book don't assist the suicides - they are only there to provide company during that final act - but the reader can't think of those deeper issues as the plot unfolds.

Speaking of the plot, about halfway through the book I thought I knew what the ending would be. I was wrong.

I love Belinda Bauer's unusual characters, and this book is no exception: PC Calvin Bridge is my favourite, but all the characters are worth getting to know, so don't be put off by the sombre subject. and read the book.


Saturday, April 11, 2020

5-star review for Serial Wives

(Reviewed by Team Golfwell)

I was given a complimentary copy of this book, but it does not in any way influence this review of “Serial Wives.”

I was very much entertained in reading this mystery thriller, “Serial Wives: Introducing Zero Zimmerman” by Yvonne Eve Walus, who in my opinion is a highly creative and extremely talented writer.  She writes an exciting and thrilling multi-faceted story in this book.  

I think opening lines in many books tend to be mundane. However, when I began reading this book, I knew immediately after reading the first few pages, I was going to enjoy her writing style and this very exciting and intriguing book.

Here is an excerpt,

“The crayon moved down the page. Red, livid, ready. Spread on the table, splayed like a sacrifice, was the Classifieds section of the New Zealand Herald. He could’ve found the information faster online, but the risk of leaving an electronic trail made him turn to the old fashioned, the tactile, the untraceable. 
“The scent of fake wax from the crayon mingled with the fresh ink of the newspaper.  He paged to the adverts in the Adult Entertainment column. 
“’Bored? Lonely? Looking for a good time?’  
“No, that wasn’t it.  
“‘Fat? So what?’  
“He raised his eyebrows, continued his search. Suddenly, the red crayon halted.  
“’A gentle massage using modern or ancient Eastern techniques. Leaves you invigorated and stress-free. For appointments, phone...’”
“Unconventional. Not into rules. Yes, this one had potential. The crayon swooped, trailed a jagged red oval around the ad.
“’Honey? Are you coming to bed?’
“The voice wafted down the stairwell. He closed the newspaper, careful to line up its edges and smooth out its spine.”  
“’In a minute.’
“He read the advert again.  His blood raced.  The addiction simmered inside him. Excited. Expectant. 
“Yes. 
“Definite potential.”

It hooked me in, and I enjoyed this book very much. I also like the pace of the story and its clever organization.  The story kept my interest with increasing intensity, suspense, clever twists and turns, unexpected events, intriguing thoughts all of which increased as I read. I enjoyed the way the author wrote the story with clarity, great attention to detail, yet very concisely (saying a lot with few words) which is a style of writing I very much enjoy.
 
I also liked the way the author developed the diverse characters by relating what was going on in their heads and the true to life conversations and reactions all of whom in my opinion, she described very well.  I especially the female Constable Zero Zimmerman who is portrayed in a very realistic manner.

All in all, very well done and highly recommended!