It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

My life is incredibly uneventful. The only deviation from routine this week was a visit from my parents. Though we have no CoVid-19 cases within a several hundred kilometres of us, because my oldest daughter works in retail I still enforce social distancing when they visit, just in case, so we had afternoon tea outside and I made Choc-chip Banana Muffins and Creamy Lemon Tarts. I love lemony things and these tarts are so easy.

Creamy Lemon Tarts

24 shallow pastry cases, baked and cooled

1 395g can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup (125ml) fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp icing sugar

Mix all ingredients with an electric beater on a high setting for approx 3 minutes or until mixture thickens. Spoon into pastry cases and refrigerate for minimum 1 hour before serving. Drizzle tarts with lemon curd, for a fancier finish (I didn’t have any on hand unfortunately)

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

 

The First Time He Hit Her by Heidi Lemon

The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

The Farm at Peppertree Crossing

The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman

The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

 

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New Posts…

Review: Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky

Review: The First Time He Hit Her by Heidi Lemon

Review: The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

Review: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing by Leonie Kelsall

Review: The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman

 

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 


London 1943: War and dwindling resources are taking their toll on the staff of Partridge Press. The pressure is on to create new books to distract readers from the grim realities of the war, but Partridge’s rising star, Alice Cotton, leaves abruptly and cannot be found.

Alice’s secret absence is to birth her child, and although her baby’s father remains unnamed, Alice’s mother promises to help her raise her tiny granddaughter, Eadie. Instead, she takes a shocking action.

Theo Bloom is employed by the American office of Partridge. When he is tasked with helping the British publisher overcome their challenges, Theo has his own trials to face before he can return to New York to marry his fiancee.

Inspired by real events during the Second World War, Finding Eadie is a story about the triumph of three friendships bound by hope, love, secrets and the belief that books have the power to change lives.

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Why would the police come back looking for a dead man?

Young widow Tilly is making a new life for herself, keeping house for the rangers at the Binboona Wildlife Sanctuary in the isolated wilderness of the north-western Gulf Country. Caring for injured wildlife and helping to run the popular tourist campsite are just the distraction she needs from everything she left behind when her husband, Gerry, and young daughter were lost at sea.

But when the police show up asking questions about Gerry, the peaceful routine she’s built is disrupted as she begins to question what really happened to her family. The arrival of botanist Connor stirs up even more emotion and has Tilly questioning who she can trust. When she and young ranger Luke stumble across evidence of wildlife smugglers on a visit to the local caves, suddenly her sanctuary is no longer safe and it becomes clear the past has well and truly come back to haunt her.

Set against the lush backdrop of the Northern Territory with its vibrant birds and deadly wildlife, this is a chilling and highly evocative family mystery about the wild and dangerous things that can happen in the most remote and untamed corners of our country.

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Samantha Casey loves everything about her job as an elementary school librarian on the sunny, historic island of Galveston, Texas—the goofy kids, the stately Victorian building, the butterfly garden. But when the school suddenly loses its beloved principal, it turns out his replacement will be none other than Duncan Carpenter—a former, unrequited crush of Sam’s from many years before.

When Duncan shows up as her new boss, though, he’s nothing like the sweet teacher she once swooned over. He’s become stiff, and humorless, and obsessed with school safety. Now, with Duncan determined to destroy everything Sam loves about her school in the name of security—and turn it into nothing short of a prison—Sam has to stand up for everyone she cares about before the school that’s become her home is gone for good.

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On the morning of Monday 23rd December, Jamie Buckby takes the commuter riverboat from his home in St Mary’s, southeast London, to work in Central London, noting that his good friend and neighbour Kit Roper has not turned up for the 7.30am service they usually catch together.

At the London Eye, where he disembarks for his job in a café behind the South Bank Centre, Jamie is met by the police. Kit has been reported missing by his wife.

As Jamie is taken in for questioning, he discovers someone saw him arguing with Kit on the boat home late on Friday night. The other passenger believes Jamie committed murder.

But what really happened?

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Thanks for stopping by!

Review: The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman

 

Title: The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands

Author: Jon Billman

Published: July 7th 2020, Grand Central Publishing

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Grand Central Publishing/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

 

“A person isn’t missing until they’re reported missing. Even then, if you’re over eighteen years old, going missing isn’t a crime or even an emergency.”

Conservative estimates put the number of missing persons whose last known location was somewhere in the wildlands of the United States at 1,600. I was astonished to learn that no one really keeps track of how many people have disappeared in the mountains, parks, forests, scrub or deserts across the country, and as such the real number is likely quite higher.

Some of the people reported missing may eventually found alive, perhaps disorientated, injured, or even living a new life elsewhere. Others may be recovered deceased days, weeks, months, even years after they disappeared, having met with some kind of misadventure. Some are never seen nor heard of again. Of particular interest to Billman are those cases where someone disappears under circumstances that suggest they should be easily found, like Jacob Gray, or conversely those that are found, alive or dead, after an improbable period or in unlikely locations, like Casey Hathaway.

Billman details a number of cases in The Cold Vanish, gathering information from relatives and/or friends, law enforcement officials, search and rescue personnel, and other interested parties. One of these is the case of Jacob Gray which the author repeatedly returns to throughout the narrative.

For seventeen months after Jacob Gray went missing in 2017, his red bicycle and hiking gear found by a river near the Olympic National Park in Washington, his father searched, traversing miles of river, trails, and streets both near and far from where he was last seen. Left in an agony of limbo, he was willing to consider every possible fate for his son from a mundane slip and fall, to abduction by a cult or a serial killer, to an encounter with a Bigfoot, if it meant he would find some answers. He followed up on every clue from vague sightings to psychic predictions.

Billman examines the factors that influence searches, not only delays in reporting but also, unsurprisingly, terrain and weather, as well as search personnel experience, bureaucracy, funding, and jurisdictional conflicts. The average official search period for a missing person in wild areas is five days, and the resources available vary widely between locations. Billman interviews expert trackers, search dog handlers, divers and advocates, and writes of his own participation in searches for the missing, accompanying both officials and volunteers.

With a well organised, well researched, and accessible narrative, Billman effectively communicates the facts, but also ensures the humanity of his subjects is never forgotten. I found The Cold Vanish to be both a fascinating and frightening read.

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Available from Grand Central Publishing

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Review: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing by Leonie Kelsall

Title: The Farm at Peppertree Crossing

Author: Leonie Kelsall

Published: July 2nd 2020, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Allen & Unwin

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My Thoughts:

Told with heart, humour and candour, The Farm at Peppertree Crossing is Leonie Kelsall’s first contemporary rural romance novel.

When Veronica is told she is to inherit an 800-acre farm in South Australia she is at first convinced it is a scam, and then certain it’s a mistake. Growing up within the foster care system she learnt the hard way to trust no one, and believing in the generosity of an aunt she never knew is difficult, so Roni is not surprised when she learns there is a catch. In a series of letters, her late aunt explains that to freely inherit the Peppertree Crossing Roni must complete a number of tasks. Single, pregnant and with few other options, Roni, with her beloved cat Scritches in tow, decides to accept the challenge, and perhaps find the home she’s always yearned for.

Kelsall explores familiar themes such as family, friendship, and love in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing. The themes of forgiveness and redemption are also strongly represented in a way I particularly appreciated. Several sensitive issues are also raised in the novel, among them sexual assault, addiction, suicide, and pregnancy loss, in a manner that feels genuine rather than contrived. These subjects add depth to the story, pushing it a little beyond the borders of the genre.

Romance is still a key element in The Farm at Peppertree Crossing though, with a twist on the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope between Roni and share-farmer, Matt. Roni’s first instinct, particularly around men, is to be wary and defensive and she misconstrues Matt’s genuine offer of advice, help and friendship as manipulative and devious. I appreciated that Matt is not cast as her saviour, Roni must reach the conclusion that she is worthy of love on her own before their relationship can progress.

Roni is a prickly character to begin with, nursing a deep hurt she is closed off, mistrustful, and stubborn. I really liked Kelsall’s development of her character, which is somewhat slow, but authentic. She’s destined to learn lessons the hard way it seems, but she does learn and grow. Her journey is supported by several charming characters, most notably her late aunt’s dearest friend/partner, Tracey, and Matt, but also of the four-legged variety which includes her cat, a sheep named Goat, and a calf named Baby.

Well written, thoughtful and engaging with an ideal balance of romance and drama, I am impressed by The Farm at Peppertree Crossing and look forward to more from the author.

++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

Title: The Silk House

Author: Kayte Nunn

Published: June 30th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

 

The Silk House is an entrancing novel from Kayte Nunn, unfolding over two timelines from the perspectives of three women.

The novel begins in the present as Thea Rust reports for work at her father’s alma mater, Oxleigh College. The exclusive English boarding school has accepted its first ever class of girls, and Thea, a history teacher, is to live in with them at their campus residence, known as Silk House.

In 1768, Rowan Caswell is an orphan employed as a maid-of-all-work by the owners of Silk House, silk merchant Patrick, and his wife Caroline Hollander. The home is not a happy one, for the master’s moods are mercurial and the mistress longs for a child.

Mary-Louise Stephenson is a spinster facing penury with her widowed sister. She believes she is capable of creating unique silk designs that will assure her a fortune, but the male dominated industry is uninterested until silk merchant Patrick Hollander offers her a commission.

Nunn weaves links between the past and present as Thea bears witness to the echoes of tragedy. Troubled by her experience of mysterious occurrences in Silk House, Thea investigates the building’s history discovering it’s reputation for being haunted due to a series of deaths, beginning with that of Caroline Hollander.

The story of Caroline’s haunting demise is revealed primarily through Rowan, who is an unwitting contributor to her mistress’s fate when her knowledge of herbal medicines, passed down to her by her late mother, is ill-used. A suggestion of witchcraft, an omen of bad luck, and a doomed love affair all contribute to the inevitable tragedy that stains Silk House.

To be honest I felt the third perspective of Mary-Louise introduced by Nunn was the only real flaw in the novel, as I thought it superfluous, even though Mary-Louise’s silk fabric design is of some significance in the story. Thea and Rowan are definitely the more compelling characters.

Nevertheless, part ghost story, part mystery the pacing is excellent as the story unravels. Nunn skilfully develops a sense of foreboding and unease as she weaves in and out of the past and present. The story is enriched by historical detail, enhanced by its feminist themes, and enlivened by interesting characters.

Atmospheric and intriguing, with gothic sensibilities, The Silk House is a finely written, spellbinding tale.

++++++

 

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: The First Time He Hit Her by Heidi Lemon

Title: The First Time He Hit Her: The shocking true story of the murder of Tara Costigan, the woman next door.

Author: Heidi Lemon

Published: June 30th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Hachette Australia

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My Thoughts:

Twenty-eight-year-old Tara Costigan was one of 103 women who died violently as a result of family violence–related homicide* in Australia during 2015. The hardworking, loving, mother was holding her newborn daughter in her arms when her ex-partner swung an axe at her neck, her two young sons looking on in horror.

Author Heidi Lemon was shocked by the bare details of the murder reported in the news and made contact with Tara’s uncle, Michael Costigan, a few months later. She spent two and a half years writing The First Time He Hit Her in the hope of understanding the tragedy, and bringing awareness to the relationship between verbal abuse and intimate partner homicide.

“He’ll go ballistic,” [Tara] conceded, “but he won’t hurt me. He’s never hit me.”

Marcus Rappel had never posed a physical threat to Tara until that fateful day. In recent months Marcus had become paranoid, most likely due to anabolic steroid and Ice use, and grown increasingly emotionally and verbally abusive, berating her for hours over imagined infidelities and slights. Tara held on to the hope that the man she fell in love with would reappear until at eight months pregnant she could no longer endure Marcus’s behaviour and asked him to leave. Despite already being embroiled in a new relationship with an ex-girlfriend (the mother of his first child who was also now pregnant), Marcus continued to harass Tara. A few days after Tara gave birth to Ayla she successfully applied for a DVO, and on the day it was served Marcus used an axe to break down Tara’s front door.

During her own experience in a verbally abusive relationship, Lemon failed to recognise it as a form of domestic violence, because she never felt that she was physically at risk. She was shocked to learn during her research for this book that in an estimated quarter of cases of intimate partner homicide there had been no physical violence before the murder. It’s a startling find that contradicts our misconceptions about the danger emotional and verbal abusers pose to their victim.

“Control, then, is the link between all forms of abuse, including murder. The very same appetite for control lies beneath the invisible forms of violence and the single act of violence that will result in someone’s death.”

The First Time He Hit Her is a thought-provoking examination of domestic violence in Australia, a devastating tale of murder, and a moving portrait of a life taken too soon.

If you or someone you know (in Australia) has experienced any kind of abuse, sexual assault, domestic or family violence, please call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or visit their website to chat online.

If you’re concerned about your own behaviour and would like support or information (in Australia), please call MensLine on 1300 78 99 78 or visit their website.

* https://www.saferresource.org.au/the_evidence

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Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky

 

Title: Love & Other Crimes

Author: Sara Paretsky

Published: June 30th 2020, HarperLuxe

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss

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My Thoughts:

Paretsky is credited with transforming the role and image of women in the crime novel with her female private investigator, V.I. Warshawski. I ‘discovered’ the series in the early nineties and instantly became a fan. The first book, Indemnity Only, was published in 1982, the latest instalment, titled Dead Land (book #20) was released earlier this year.

Love & Other Crimes is a collection of fourteen short stories, eight of which feature Warshawski, including one original story. Written over a period of about twenty years, the common thread is love.

“….we kill out of love—love of money, but also love of family, a desire to protect those for whom we feel responsible.”

If you aren’t familiar with Warshawski, this short story collection is a good introduction to her character. Vic was raised, lives and works in Chicago. Specialising in investigating white-collar crimes, she is often drawn into cases involving her friends, family or vulnerable persons who are victimised by corrupt politicians or greedy businessmen. She is smart, capable and dogged with a strong belief in justice and all these traits are on display in the stories in this collection.

Most of the other six short stories have appeared elsewhere, often in themed anthology’s or magazines, though I was familiar with none. Two of the stories pay homage to Paretsky’s own literary hero’s – Race Williams, who was the first of the hardboiled detectives, created by Carroll John Daly in 1923, Amelia Butterworth, an amateur detective created by American crime novelist Anna Katharine Green. I like that Paretsky includes a note for each story in the collection that reveals the purpose of, or motivation, for the title, it’s a welcome glimpse into her authorial process.

Somewhat surprisingly I enjoyed every story in this collection, though I remain partial to those which involved V.I. Warshawski, reminded of how what a great series it is, and to move Dead Land up my TBR list.

++++++

Available from HarperCollins

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

School holidays begin today. We don’t have any plans, my husband has work as usual, as does my oldest, who is still healing but doing much better. My other daughter has study plans as the HSC trials are next term, and the boys will keep themselves busy.

I need to do some catching up, I’m at least two weeks behind in reading and reviewing.

 

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

 

The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky

 

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New Posts…

Review: Better Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton

Review: The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

Review: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #6

Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved to The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 

At the bottom of the world, there is an island. It is a land of rugged wilderness, of ice and snow and blistering heat … They say extinct tigers still roam there. They say other things roam, too.

When a school group of teenage girls go missing in the remote wilderness of Tasmania’s Great Western Tiers, the people of Limestone Creek are immediately on alert. Not long ago, six young girls went missing in the area of those dangerous bluffs, and the legends of ‘the Hungry Man’ still haunt locals to this day.

Now, authorities can determine that the teacher, Eliza Ellis, was knocked unconscious, so someone on the mountain was up to foul play. Jordan Murphy, father of missing student Jasmine and the town’s local dealer, instantly becomes prime suspect, but Detective Con Badenhorst knows that in a town this size – with corrupt cops, small-town politics, and a teenage YouTube sensation – anyone could be hiding something, and bluffing comes second nature.

When a body is found, mauled, at the bottom of a cliff, suspicion turns to a wild animal – but that can’t explain why she, like all victims past and present, was discovered barefoot, with her shoes found nearby, laces neatly tied.

What happened up there on the bluffs? Somebody knows… unless the local legends are true.

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An unexpected inheritance, a traumatic past and a family whose secrets are kept by the town

After a fractured childhood spent in foster homes, city-girl Roni has convinced herself that she has no need of anyone – other than her not-as-tough-as-he-looks rescued street cat, Scritches, and her unborn baby, who she’s determined will feel all the love she’s been denied.

Despite facing a bleak future, Roni distrusts the news of a bequest from an unknown aunt, Marian Nelson. But, out of options, she and Scritches leave Sydney behind, bound for the 800-acre property on the edge of the wheat fields of South Australia.

However, this is no simple inheritance: Marian seeks to control her legacy from beyond the grave by setting tasks that Roni must complete before she can claim the property and a life that could change her future. With everything at stake, Roni must learn to trust in the truth of Marian’s most important lesson: everyone deserves love.

A captivating story of family, friendship and forgiveness.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Six Degrees of Separation: What I Loved to The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective

Hosted by Kate at booksaremyfavouriteandbest, on the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form Six Degrees of Separation. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book.

This month the chain begins with What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. I’m not at all familiar with this novel or the author, but her biography tells me she has strong ties to Norway, so that is going to be where I start.

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The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave is a novel set during the 17th century which begins as a freak midwinter storm hits Vardø, Norway’s north-easternmost point. A captivating novel about love, fear, obsession, and evil, The Mercies is inspired by historical witch trials.

As is the The Darkest Shore. Author Karen Brooks seamlessly blends historical detail with informed imagination to create a spellbinding story that explores the true events that occurred in Pittenweem, Scotland during the early 1800’s, where seven women (and one man) were imprisoned and tortured after being accused of witchcraft.

Veronica McCreedy isn’t a witch, she simply an elderly, eccentric and wealthy woman who travels from her home in Scotland to Antarctica to spend time among Adelie penguins, despite not being welcome. Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior is an entertaining and uplifting story.

 

 

 

 

Heatstroke is a tense, atmospheric novel from Hazel Barkworth about mothers and daughters, desire and obsession, trust and betrayal. It begins when the best friend of Rachel’s fifteen year old daughter, Mia, disappears, but this is not really a story about the missing Lily, it is about what Rachel feels she is losing…. her daughter, her youth, her attractiveness, and perhaps her mind.

In Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healy, the protagonist, Maud, really is losing her mind. The eighty two year old mother and grandmother suffers from progressive dementia and when her closest friend disappears from her life she grows obsessed with finding her. I found this to be a clever and engrossing read.

From an amateur investigator to a professional, Maud West was a real life ‘lady detective’ in London during the early 20th century. Susannah Stapleton’s biography, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective: Secrets & Lies in the Golden Age of Crime, details her exploits and reveals a complex woman, perhaps more elusive than the most slippery private eye’s quarry.

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Next month the Six Degrees of Separation meme will begin with How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #6

 

I’m delighted with the response to the inaugural Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far, and since sign-ups are open until December 1st, a few more may decide to join us during the year.

If you hadn’t yet noticed, I’ve created a permanent page for the challenge, you can CLICK HERE, or select the menu link at top left.

The Linky to add your review to can be found there. This new link will remain active for the rest for the year’s submissions. Look for the text in orange.

On the first Saturday of each month, I will be highlighting a handful of Linky submissions, but I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they have been reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on twitter, Facebook or instagram #2020ReadNonFic

JUNE

Of Fathoms: the world in the whale by Rebecca Giggs, TeresaSmithWrites says: “This is a remarkable book. The scope and sheer detail is so impressive…. highly readable and deeply thought provoking – there’s something in this one for everyone.”

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Jo of BookloverBookReviews describes the memoir MI5 and Me by Charlotte Bingham as, “… an entertaining reminder of fact often being stranger (and sillier) than fiction and the perils of taking ourselves too seriously.”

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For the disaster category, Carla of CarlaLovestoRead chose to read Malibu Burning: The Real Story Behind LA’s Most Devastating Wildfire by Robert Kerbeck. She says, “This book takes you into the hearts and minds of those who fought for their lives while the world watched Malibu Burning…. well written and worth a read if you are interested in fire fighting, Hollywood, climate-related disasters or just an informative and interesting non-fiction story.”

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Of Breaking Anxiety’s Grip: How to Reclaim the Peace God Promises by Dr. Michelle Bengston Barbara of StrayThoughts writes: “The coronavirus pandemic began just after I started this book, and the chapters I read then helped me immensely in the uncertainty and anxiety of that unprecedented situation.”

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Tina of Novel Meals read two books for the Nature category, Birding Without Borders by Noah Stryker and Wesley the Owl by Stacey O’Brien. She recommends the former for enthusiasts, of the latter she writes: “I loved this book, it was very informative, engaging and I cried near the end.”

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And congratulations to Denise of DeniseNewtonWrites who has successfully reached her goal of reading 6 nonfiction titles earning herself Nonfiction Nibbler status!

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Do any of these interest you? What will you be reading in July?

Click here to see what else other participants have been reading!

In case you missed it….

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #5

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #4

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #3

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #2

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Monthly Spotlight #1

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

Review: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Title: The Weekend

Author: Charlotte Wood

Published: June 25th 2020, Weidenfeld & Nicolson

Status: Read July 2020 courtesy Orion/Netgalley

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My Thoughts:

“Adele and Wendy and Jude did not fit properly anymore, without Sylvie.”

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood is a searing and insightful portrait of friendship, ageing and grief.

“Because what was friendship, after forty years? What would it be after fifty, or sixty? It was a mystery. It was immutable, a force as deep and inevitable as the vibration of the ocean coming to her through the sand. Wasn’t it?”

Less than a year after the death of Sylvie, her lifelong closest friends -Jude, Wendy and Adele, are spending Christmas weekend emptying her holiday home in Bittoes on the NSW Central Coast. It’s a chore each of them have been dreading, and in the sweltering summer heat, the task threatens to tear them apart.

“‘This was something nobody talked about: how death could make you petty. And how you had to find a new arrangement among your friends, shuffling around the gap of the lost one, all of you suddenly mystified by how to be with one another.’”

Shifting perspectives reveal the complex inner lives of these women as they grieve, and bicker and reminisce. Wood explores the fragility and resilience of their friendship as old hurts resurface, resentments simmer, and secrets are laid bare.

“It was true that time had gradually taken on a different cast. It didn’t seem to go forwards or backwards now, but up and down. The past was striated through you, through your body, leaching into the present and the future. The striations were evident, these streaky layers of memory, of experience— but you were one being, you contained all of it. If you looked behind or ahead of you, all was emptiness.”

Aged in their seventies, the women keenly feel the passage of time, reflecting on their pasts, and contemplating their futures as they attend to their tasks. Having enjoyed successful careers, and relationships, they struggle with their losses, and what they have yet to lose. Ageing is an uncomfortable process for them all, though in different ways for different reasons. Wendy’s old and feeble dog, Finn, is a clear metaphor for its indignities.

“And each of the three let go, plunged down and felt herself carried, lifted up in the great sweep of the water’s force, and then—astonishingly gently—set down on her feet again. They breathed, and wiped their eyes, reached for each other again, waited for the next wave.”

Yet there is plenty of life left in these women, none are quite ready to submit to mortality. Told with wit, tenderness and brutal honesty, The Weekend explores the mundane to expose the extraordinary.

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Available from Orion Books UK

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository i Hive UK I Indiebound

 

Also by Charlotte Wood featured at Book’d Out 

 

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