Book Review: The Sunday Girl.

A review of: The Sunday Girl – By Pip Drysdale.

Source: https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-sunday-girl-pip-drysdale/book/9781760851743.html?source=pla&gclid=CjwKCAjwgbLzBRBsEiwAXVIygCSCjAc-SeKZXMCPTw4-QMBT9gLNFsdWBcwXc7kZKuGZ0zNR48wlHxoCE_MQAvD_BwE

TITLE:
The Sunday Girl

AUTHOR:
Pip Drysdale

GENRE:
Thriller

PUBLISHED:
2018

PAGES:
336

GET IT HERE:
booktopia.com.au

Overview:

Taylor and Angus serve two parts of a whole lot of drama. They have a volatile relationship. And when they break up, it gets ugly.

For Taylor, getting dumped is one thing. Having your ex-boyfriend post an explicit video of you on to a porn site is something entirely different. And now she is out for revenge.

But what starts out as a plan for some kind of petty vengeance, soon turns into something more twisted. Taylor soon realises the person she loved is not who she fell in love with.

With Taylor’s plan for revenge spiraling out of control, she soon realises it’s not just a petty game anymore.

My Thoughts:

Drysdale’s novel, ‘The Sunday Girl’ is narrated in the first person by the main character, Taylor. This is much the same as Drysdale’s second novel, ‘The Strangers We Know’. And in much the same fashion, the reader sees things from Taylor’s perspective and gets a first-person account of Taylor’s thoughts and feelings.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of first-person perspective, but I did find ‘The Sunday Girl’ to be written better than ‘The Strangers We Know’. ‘The Sunday Girl’ was far easier to relate to, and the feelings the narrator felt, I began feeling too.

This novel had some interesting twists, and although neither party (Taylor or Angus) was completely in the right when it came to their actions, the ambiguity was realistic.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and the modern storyline.

My Rating: 3/5

Book Review: The Strangers We Know.

A review of: The Strangers We Know – By Pip Drysdale.

Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/The-Strangers-We-Know/Pip-Drysdale/9781925685848

TITLE:

The Strangers We Know

AUTHOR:

Pip Drysdale

GENRE:

Thriller/ Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

336

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Charlie’s life gets turned upside down when she discovers her husband, Oliver, on a dating app on a girl’s night out. Unwilling to believe her husband could be unfaithful, Charlie digs deeper, becoming suspicious of his friends, his work and his overseas trips.

But the deeper Charlie digs, the more danger she puts herself in. In a search for the truth, she finds far more than she was bargaining for.

My Thoughts:

Pip Drysdale’s novel, ‘The Strangers We Know’ is narrated in the first person, as Charlie. I find that writing in the first person can be slightly risky, as the story can become jumbled.

Drysdale does do an alright job writing in the first person, although I found the plot line jumps a little bit, as sometimes you’re in the moment, and then ‘Charlie’ will say things like:

And that should have been it: rock bottom. A cheating husband and broken dreams. Fair is fair. But no. Life was just getting warmed up.’

For me, it created an air of disorientation, and broke the suspense I was feeling beforehand.

Regardless, the plot itself was quite dramatic and had many twists and turns, which would keep any reader on their toes, no matter the perspective or tense. Everyone is a suspect, and no one is immune to Charlie’s scrutiny.

I can’t say much more without giving away all of the juicy details, so I’ll leave it at that.

My Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Paranoid.

A review of: Paranoid – By Lisa Jackson.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42191274-paranoid

TITLE:

Paranoid

AUTHOR:

Lisa Jackson

GENRE:

Thriller/ Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

368

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Luke Hollander was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, 20 years ago in the town of Edgewater. And his half-sister, Rachael, has been living with the guilt of it ever since.

What was meant to be a silly teenage game, turned deadly in a heartbeat, and Rachael still doesn’t know who replaced her soft pellet gun for a real one.

Rachael continues to blame herself for shooting Luke, and regardless of the relationships her guilt erodes, she can’t seem to move on and forget the horrors of that night. And judging by the whispers of everyone else in Edgewater, they haven’t forgotten either.

My Thoughts:

Paranoid, by Lisa Jackson, was a quick and easy read. Her writing flows well and leaves the reader wanting more. Jackson writes a compelling mystery – giving the reader enough of the past and present tense to keep up the guess-game, right to the very last page.

I was actually one of the many readers who seemed to think everything was all tied up, I knew who the culprit was and the story was done – when the last piece of the puzzle came along and whacked me in my silly, proud face.

My only qualm was that the shock ‘twist’ happened so late in the book, I felt I had already had closure and was ready to move on to a new book. Although there were a couple of telling clues, there probably could have been a few more, in order to make the ending seem more ‘complete’ rather than a tacked-on last thought.

My Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Pet Sematary.

A review of: Pet Sematary – By Stephen King.

Source: https://www.boffinsbooks.com.au/books/9781529378313/pet-sematary-film-tie-in-edition-of-stephen-kings-pet-sematary

TITLE:

Pet Sematary

AUTHOR:

Stephen King

GENRE:

Horror/ Fiction

PUBLISHED:

1983

PAGES:

480

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Doctor Louis Creed moves his family to Maine – a quiet, sleepy town with rolling hills and trees as far as the eye can see. A perfect spot for his children, Ellie and Gage, to grow up.

A perfect spot. The only sure danger is a busy highway where the trucks blaze by, on their way to the big cities. But nothing scary to worry about. Not even the ‘Pet Sematary’ in the woods, where countless generations of children have buried their beloved companions.

Nothing to worry about. A perfect spot. For a perfect little family.

My Thoughts:

Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ made my skin crawl the moment I saw the book on the shelf. And that feeling simply became more pronounced as I made my way through the pages.

The way King can give you a sense of growing unease, just from words on paper, is a talent very few authors have. Pet Sematary was full of (dark) colour and characters that seemed to form in your head and appear right in front of your eyes, like you’d known them for years.

All of this character and scene building makes the story come to life – pun intended.

I won’t write any more, for fear(!) of ruining the experience for you. But you’ll certainly be sleeping with one eye open after you finish this one!

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Normal People.

A review of: Normal People – By Sally Rooney.

Source: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/normal-people

TITLE:

Normal People

AUTHOR:

Sally Rooney

GENRE:

Contemporary/ Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

269

GET IT HERE:

booktopia.com.au

Overview:

Normal People, by Sally Rooney, explores the dynamics between two socially opposite people (Connell and Marianne) – and how they clash and also how they come together.

Connell hails from a severely middle-class, single parent background, while Marianne was born into money. On the outside looking in, the two of them appear at odds with the other, yet their connection is somehow unavoidable and oddly romantic, in a very un-romantic kind of way.

My Thoughts:

Normal People had my attention very early on. On a personal level, differences in social class and status hit home for me, and so I was immediately intrigued. Love is often the only common ground between two people, and yet sometimes that’s all that’s needed.

But Rooney’s novel quickly became very repetitive and oftentimes, predictable. Whether this is simply to do with what the title suggests, I cannot say. But I can say I was severely disappointed. The fire I was hoping for was not there, and the ending was one that seemed almost at odds with what the story seemed to convey.

Although I can understand the idea of ‘Normal People’ having normal, uneventful, angst-y and uncomfortable lives, the notion made the novel seem un-novellish. Yes, I know that isn’t a real word. Hopefully you get what I mean without me spoiling too much of it.

Personally, I think some people will find this book better than others, depending on their personal experiences with social classes, status and love itself. For me, I could not seem to find any strong feeling of connection with the ending, although I connected on some level with both the characters.

My Rating: 2/5

Book Review: Such a Fun Age.

A review of: Such a Fun Age – By Kiley Reid.

Source: https://www.bigw.com.au/product/such-a-fun-age/p/79534/?gclid=CjwKCAiA66_xBRBhEiwAhrMuLSeXZ5q7-XZxLCJDaqrc8SwwVsn1Sqx7f5tJd7m3HJt4ATkjUSI_ARoCfVgQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

TITLE:

Such a Fun Age.

AUTHOR:

Kiley Reid

GENRE:

Contemporary/ Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2020

PAGES:

310

GET IT HERE:

kmart.com

Overview:

Such a Fun Age, authored by Kiley Reid, follows Emira Tucker – a 25 year-old black woman from Philadelphia, who has no idea what she wants to do with her life. In the meantime though, she works as a babysitter for the Chamberlains – a nice, well-to-do white family who has just moved to town.

But when Emira is filmed being apprehended in a grocery store on suspicion of kidnapping Briar Chamberlain (the child she babysits), things start to snowball. One thing she knows is that she most certainly doesn’t want the video to get out, despite pressure from the boy who filmed it, and her employer, Mrs. Chamberlain.

Emira buries the video, and pretends it never happened.

But the well-meaning white people in Emira’s life can’t seem to let it go, forcing Emira to realise the stark reality of her situation – there’s always someone trying to take control, protect her or help her, even when she never asked.

My Thoughts:

Kiley Reid really brings everything to the table in ‘Such a Fun Age’.

Through character depth and connection, she tells the story of modern American racism, inequality and presumption. Reid’s approach to such broad issues in a way that is both eye-opening and yet not insensitive to others is truly a testament to her personality and writing style.

Such a Fun Age looks at this complex issue from all angles, with an acute understanding of ‘well-meaning’ white people who often overstep and ‘protect’ black people where it is not necessary, not asked for and often not even needed.

Reid has really created a work of art in the pages of ‘Such a Fun Age’, reminding everyone that a subject doesn’t have to be a mystery, for people to still miss the point.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Suitcase of Dreams.

A review of: Suitcase Of Dreams – By Tania Blanchard.

Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/Suitcase-of-Dreams/Tania-Blanchard/9781760851675

TITLE:

Suitcase of Dreams

AUTHOR:

Tania Blanchard

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

448

GET IT HERE:

Simon & Schuster

Overview:

Suitcase of Dreams, by Tania Blanchard, is the sequel to ‘The Girl From Munich‘. Picking up where the last book left off, the main character, Lotte, arrives in Sydney Australia, after the war in Germany.

Lotte and her family are desperate for a new beginning in Australia, hearing promises of abundant work and opportunities in the new and vibrant country. But Lotte and her husband Erich soon find Australian life to be much harder to settle in to.

Erich’s engineering qualifications aren’t recognised, the migrant working conditions are dismal and the attitude of some Australians toward them and others put a different spin on the life they were sold.

Erich and Lotte find they have to work doubly hard to provide a safe and secure place for their two daughters in this strange, new country. Slowly but surely, the two of them begin to find their place in Australian life – Erich building a business in carpentry, while Lotte pursues her photography career.

But will the family’s challenges and misfortunes build them up, or break them down?

My Thoughts:

This sequel follows the struggles of Lotte and her family now that they are in Australia. The author, Tania Blanchard, provides an incredibly moving insight into how life was for migrants after the war – many promised lives that never came to fruition.

Much like the first novel, Blanchard gives a strikingly raw story of love, loss and sacrifice, reminding the reader of the not-so-distant past. Touching on not only Nazi-Occupied Germany, but the Vietnam War and migrant conditions, she captures the true essence of their struggles, but more importantly, how Australia became somewhere so many could call home.

Whether you’ve read the first installment or not (which I would highly recommend), this novel is beautifully written and worth reading.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Cilka’s Journey.

A review of: Cilka’s Journey – By Heather Morris.

Source: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/popular-fiction/Cilkas-Journey-Heather-Morris-9781760686048

TITLE:

Cilka’s Journey

AUTHOR:

Heather Morris

GENRE:

Historical Fiction, Romance, Holocaust

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

324

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com

Overview:

Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris, is the sequel to ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which is based on true stories from World War II in Nazi Germany.

The novel follows the journey of Cilka Klein, who is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp when she is just 16 years old. When she arrives, Commandant Schwarzhuber notices her beautiful long hair and separates her from the other prisoners.

Cilka suffers ongoing sexual abuse from two S.S. Officers and is given horrific tasks, which she must do to survive. But these tasks and her perceived position of power create feelings of anger from the other prisoners.

When Auschwitz-Birkenau is finally liberated when Cilka is 18, she is condemned for her role at the Concentration Camp. Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sentenced to 15 years hard labour in a Siberian Prison Camp – Vorkuta.

Imprisoned once again, and guilty only of surviving, Cilka faces challenges both new, and yet also horrendously familiar. She finds herself taken under the wing of the female doctor at the camp, and begins training as a nurse, determined to help others survive.

Cilka’s story is one strength, determination and survival, even in the harshest of circumstances.

My Thoughts:

Just like ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ saddened me deeply. Her story is one of many million suffering souls, forced to experience the unbearable.

The novel carried over nicely from the first installment, with flashbacks of Cilka’s time in Auschwitz-Birkenau to provide context and perspective. The Author, Heather Morris, did her research (and well) – providing a harrowing experience of what life must have been like for thousands of people post-war.

My only criticism of this book is the same one I had for ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which was that the novel sometimes seemed rushed – especially toward the end. It seemed as though the ending was squashed in as an afterthought, becoming a tad predictable.

That being said, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ was still an exceptionally moving, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching account of the atrocities of both during and after World War II.

Whether you have read the first novel or not, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ is worth the read.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Daring Greatly.

A review of: Daring Greatly – By Brené Brown.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13588356-daring-greatly

TITLE:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead

AUTHOR:

Brené Brown

PUBLISHED:

2012

PAGES:

287

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

‘Daring Greatly’ by Brené Brown is a research-based book, documenting Dr Brown’s work in the field of vulnerability.

This book tackles the underlying feelings we associate with everyday life – things like vulnerability, shame and uncertainty – and provides the perspective that these thoughts and feelings can become strengths when viewed and channeled correctly.

‘Daring Greatly’ contains personal stories, research data and practical examples aimed at helping the reader understand that their most vulnerable moments can be defining and life-changing.

My Thoughts:

‘Daring Greatly’ came recommended to me by a friend, who gifted me the book.

In all honesty, I found this book very information-dense, and although I completely understand the point Dr. Brown has about being open and honest and wholehearted, the book itself was very disorganised.

It took me well over a month to read, as I had to continuously put it down and try to absorb what was being said, and then try and connect that to what had already been said. This was mainly due to the fact that the important information was hidden in long-winded personal stories that could have been summed up in a paragraph, rather than in 5 pages.

Brené Brown is an incredibly switched on, intelligent and curious person, which I completely and utterly admire – there is no doubt about that.

Usually I am not so critical, but this book seemed to be a hellishly twisted version of common sense. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth or slept on a bed of roses, but the idea that being open and honest can help you grow as a person was something that I understood when I was in first grade.

If you want a more succinct version, with most of what you need to know, I would recommend watching Brené Brown’s TED Talks instead.

My Rating: 2/5

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Book Review: Boy Swallows Universe.

A review of: Boy Swallows Universe – By Trent Dalton.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37558445-boy-swallows-universe

TITLE:

Boy Swallows Universe

AUTHOR:

Trent Dalton

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

464

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

‘Boy Swallows Universe’ is a raw, coming-of-age debut novel by Australian journalist, Trent Dalton. The novel follows the main character, Eli Bell, as he grapples with finding ‘the answers to the questions’.

It’s 1985 in the suburb of Darra, Queensland, just south of Brisbane. Eli is 13 and juggling his junkie mum, a brother who doesn’t speak, a heroin dealer for a step-dad and a notorious criminal for a babysitter – and he has a lot of questions. Like whether or not ‘Slim’ Halliday, his notorious babysitter, really killed that taxi driver in 1952. Or whether his older brother, August, will ever speak, instead of writing cryptic sentences in the sky with his forefinger:

‘Your end is a dead blue wren.’

And Eli’s questions only get bigger and more complicated as time goes by. And as his questions get bigger, so do his problems.

Eli will have to come face to face with a psychopathic drug dealer and his cronies, meet the girl of his dreams, break into the Boggo Road Gaol to rescue his mum and meet the Dad he doesn’t even remember, all in search of ‘the answers to the questions’.

My Thoughts:

The only regret I have about this book is that I didn’t read it sooner. If truth be told, I picked it up more than once in the store, and, after reading it was an Australian novel, put it back on the shelf in favour of something more gritty.

But ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ was eventually in my hands, and before I knew it, I couldn’t put it down. The detail with which this novel was written is a colossal success. I have never read anything like it – and probably won’t for quite some time.

‘Boy Swallows Universe’ sent shivers down my spine, put tears in my eyes and made me look back on the raw truth of my own childhood – filled with drugs and thugs and alcoholics for family members. And although from the outset, we know Eli Bell has it tough, his story is one of finding himself, finding love and finding meaning in the mess.

This novel certainly sets the bar high for future Australian novelists, and has restored my faith in story-telling. ‘Boy Swallows Universe’ is a true masterpiece – a stroke of genius – and a testament to the author, Trent Dalton.

If you do anything before 2019 ends, read this book.

My Rating: 5/5

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