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

 

Linking to: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? at BookDate; Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer; and the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

====================

*

Life…

*

As expected it’s been a little busier than usual around here.

My daughter went back to uni last weekend, and the boys are back at school now too.

On Thursday/Friday we checked out the University my son hopes to attend next year, it was also his 18th birthday on Saturday, and we went to the movies for the first time since 2019 to watch Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness.

Today for Mother’s Day, my parents visited and we enjoyed fish and chips in beautiful Autumn weather by the river (but we forgot to take a photo again!).

I’ve completed the training for the temporary job I start today. Wish me luck!

*

——————————————-

*

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

*

Remember Me by Charity Norman

Wake by Shelley Burr

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

Rising Dust by Fleur McDonald

*

———————————————

*

New Posts…

*

Review: The Nurses War by Victoria Purman

Review: Till Death,or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette

Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

Review: Wildfire by Monique Mulligan

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

*

———————————————

*

What I’m Reading This Week…

 

The revealing, compelling memoir of one of Australia’s foremost cardiothoracic surgeons, Dr Nikki Stamp.

Scrubbed is a raw, honest account of a life lived at the very edge of modern medicine, where heart surgeons tread the thinnest of lines between life and death, and yet where the greatest challenge can be the medical system itself.

From the drama of the operating theatre, filled with both triumph and tragedy, to the brutal realities of surgical training, and the sacrifices needed to reach the pinnacle of Nikki’s vocation, to the grinding nature of hospital bureaucracy and politics, Scrubbed is one of the most revealing books yet to be published about the real life and experiences of a surgeon

xxxxxxx

 

In every person’s story, there is something to hide…

The ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library is quiet, until the tranquility is shattered by a woman’s terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers sitting at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning—it just happens that one is a murderer.

Award-winning author Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with THE WOMAN IN THE LIBRARY, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

xxxxxxxxx

 

Big Little Lies meets The Witches of Eastwick–a gloriously entertaining and knife-sharp feminist revenge fantasy about three women whose midlife crisis brings unexpected new powers–putting them on a collision course with the evil that lurks in their wealthy beach town.

In the Long Island oceanfront community of Mattauk, three different women discover that midlife changes bring a whole new type of empowerment…

After Nessa James’s husband dies and her twin daughters leave for college, she’s left all alone in a trim white house not far from the ocean. In the quiet of her late forties, the former nurse begins to hear voices. It doesn’t take long for Nessa to realize that the voices calling out to her belong to the dead–a gift she’s inherited from her grandmother, which comes with special responsibilities.

On the cusp of 50, suave advertising director Harriett Osborne has just witnessed the implosion of her lucrative career and her marriage. She hasn’t left her house in months, and from the outside, it appears as if she and her garden have both gone to seed. But Harriet’s life is far from over–in fact, she’s undergone a stunning and very welcome metamorphosis.

Ambitious former executive Jo Levison has spent thirty long years at war with her body. The free-floating rage and hot flashes that arrive with the beginning of menopause feel like the very last straw–until she realizes she has the ability to channel them, and finally comes into her power.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio of women discover a teenage girl whose body was abandoned beside a remote beach. The police have written the victim off as a drug-addicted sex worker, but the women refuse to buy into the official narrative. Their investigation into the girl’s murder leads to more bodies, and to the town’s most exclusive and isolated enclave, a world of stupendous wealth where the rules don’t apply. With their newfound powers, Jo, Nessa, and Harriet will take matters into their own hands…

xxxxxxxxx

 

Behind the tall hedges of the affluent, gated community of Apple Tree Creek, not all is as it seems …

Out of the blue, Gertie’s husband decides they need a break and he’s leaving her with their three children. Two streets east and three gardens down, successful businesswoman Rachael discovers her husband has cheated on her – again – even though she’s pregnant with his third child. Thrown together by a chance encounter, the two women bond over the shared disaster that is their marriages.

But did one husband push his wife too far?

When the ambulance sirens cut through the serenity of Apple Tree Creek, the small community is shocked at the violence that’s played out in their midst. CCTV reveals no outsiders visited the estate that night, confirming that the assailant must have been one of their own. Is the culprit still living among them? And why didn’t any of the cameras, designed to keep them all safe, catch anything?

As the web of neighbourly relationships unravels and the workings of their inner lives are exposed, questions will be asked, but not everyone wants to learn the answers.

You can only push people so far.

———————————————

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR @thebookdate #SundayPost @Kimbacaffeinate #SundaySalon @debnance #Scrubbed #TheWomanIntheLibrary#TheChange #OddOneOut

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #ReadNonFicChal

—————

IN APRIL…

Carols Notebook says, “I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan which is why On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes [by Stephen Browning] caught my eye. The author sets out a series of walks around London, incorporating locations that feature in stories from the canon and incidents in Conan Doyle’s life. It made me want to go to London and follow the walks and suggested side excursions.”

+++++++++

 

Of All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell, Tracey at Carpe Librum writes, “I admire Hayley Campbell’s courage to shine a light on the often unknown world of death workers and the death industry.” However she also warns, “Just as Campbell felt weighed down by what she learned and experienced, I too began to feel heavy and had to set this book down for a few weeks before returning to it.”

++++++++

 

“This is not a book about Aesop’s fables but rather examining animal behavior….If you are interested in the science and animal behavior this will be enlightening.” writes Tina at Turn the Page about Aesop’s Animals: The Science behind the Fables by Jo Wimpenny

+++++++++

 

Will at Coots Reviews offers a thoughtful review of The Lonely Stories edited by Natalie Eve Garrett “Bottom line is that, while the title of this book may suggest it could be a downer, The Lonely Storiesis anything but. It not only connects on an emotional level, but offers a wide range of insight into the human condition. You will laugh and cry, and maybe feel prompted to consider loneliness, or lonely times in your own experience. One thing is for certain. However you react to this book, you will not be alone in that reaction.’

+++++++++

 

Fascinated by the recent discovery of the Endurance—which sunk 107 years ago, Susan at Bloggin’ About Books chose to read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, she says, “It’s narrative non-fiction at its best, bringing history to life in a way that is not just fascinating, but also engrossing and impactful. I couldn’t stop reading this iconic book.”

 

______________

What will you be reading in April?

Need some inspiration? Check out these posts

SOCIAL HISTORY and POPULAR SCIENCE

LANGUAGE and MEDICAL MEMOIR

CLIMATE/WEATHER and CELEBRITY

REFERENCE and GEOGRAPHY

LINKED TO A PODCAST and WILD ANIMALS

ECONOMICS and PUBLISHED IN 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

Review: Wildflower by Monique Mulligan

 

Title: Wildflower

Author: Monique Mulligan

Published: 8th March 2022, Pilyara Press

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy the author

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Wildflower is a thoughtful and poignant story by Australian author Monique Mulligan.

In this dual timeline novel, the narrative shifts between that of ten year old Jane Kelly over a six week period during the summer of 1979, and the first person perspective of an anonymous woman 20 years later. Both narratives thoughtfully address the issue of domestic violence -the behaviours and attitudes that contribute to it, and its tragic legacy.

The school holidays have just begun for Jane. She’s glad to be able to escape the daily bullying at school inflicted by Mary Evans, but despairing at spending the summer alone, so when Acacia Miller moves in next door, Jane is determined they will be best friends. To her delight, the two girls are almost immediately inseparable but Jane doesn’t understand why there are questions Acacia refuses to answer, or why she’s never invited to play inside her friends home.

In the latter timeline, related from a first person perspective, an anxious and bruised woman makes the decision to leave her abusive husband and, with nowhere else to go, finds herself at a womens’ shelter. As the woman struggles to rebuild her life from the welcome safety of the refuge, she reflects on the circumstances that has led to her situation, confronting a legacy of violence.

Mulligan writes with insight and clarity about the complex subject of domestic violence. She presents it from the perspectives of several individuals including victims, survivors, and observers with compassion and sensitivity. She also explores the social, cultural and various situational contexts that contribute both directly and indirectly to the problem, like traditional attitudes about gender roles, and alcohol/drug use.

A stand out for me is Mulligan’s portrayal of her characters, particularly her child characters who think, speak and act appropriately for their varying ages, something few authors are able to do well. I thought Jane was a wonderful narrator, while bright and curious, her youthful innocence underscores the poignancy of events.

I also thought it was clever of the author to use the anonymity of the adult narrator to add another layer of suspense to the story. I did not guess her identity until it was revealed, and I liked the way it tied into the main narrative.

Moving and powerful, Wildflower is an engaging story crafted with care.

++++++++

Signed copies available direct from the author at

MoniqueMulligan.com

Or help support* Book’d Out

 

*Purchase at Booktopia

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

 

Title: The Murder Rule

Author: Dervla McTiernan

Published: 4th May 2022, WilliamMorrow

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Offering some startling twists and turns, The Murder Rule is a compelling stand alone legal thriller from best selling author, Dervla McTiernan.

When law student Hannah Rokeby learns that the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia is making progress overturning the sentence of convicted rapist and murderer, Michael Dandridge, she leaves her sick mother, Laura, in the care of a neighbour, and relocates to Charlottesville where she convinces Professor Robert Parekh she’d be an asset to the program. But Hannah doesn’t want to save Michael, she wants to ensure the man is never released.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of The Murder Rule, and why, and how, a young woman might go about undermining a prisoner’s release. With the preliminary hearing for dismissal imminent, the Innocence team, and Hannah, are under pressure to complete their respective objectives, and that tension translates well to the story’s pacing.

Hannah certainly seems convinced that her mission is righteous, and though her ruthless moves to gain a place on the project are not flattering, once her motive is disclosed in the alternating chapters that provide entries from her mother’s diary written 24 years earlier, Hannah’s behaviour seems if not reasonable, then at least justifiable. I liked the ambiguity of Hannah’s character, I was never entirely sure what she’d do, particularly when faced with information that challenged her beliefs.

There are some quite spectacular surprises in the novel, one twist in particular made me gasp out loud as it was so unexpected. There are also a number of tense, and even violent, moments as Hannah, and her colleagues, step on toes during their investigation. As much as I enjoyed the story, I have to admit there are some distracting flaws related to the legal elements of the story, and these particularly detracted from the intensity of the climatic courtroom scene, even though the outcome was satisfying.

Though not as sophisticated as McTiernan’s award winning Cormac Reilly, I still found The Murder Rule to be a page-turning, entertaining thriller with a compelling concept.

++++++++

Available from William Morrow

Or help support* Book’d Out

Buy from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Review: Til Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette

 

Title: Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part

Author: Kathy Lette

Published: 29th March 2022, Vintage

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

The reported death of Jason Riley triggers a madcap revenge caper in Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette.

As sixty year old schoolteacher Gwen Brookes stares grief-stricken at all that remains of her handsome, loving husband of two years, Jason Riley, – a swimming cap and a piece of torn, blood-stained wetsuit – after he was reportedly taken by a shark while training for an Ironman competition, a woman in a bejewelled bustier and leather jacket barrels through the crowd calling her husband’s name. To Gwen’s horror, jazz singer Tish also claims to be Jason’s wife, and though she is loathe to believe it, Tish has their wedding certificate issued a year earlier, as proof. More shocks are to come when the women sit across from Jason’s lawyer and learn that his entire estate, and much of theirs, had been transferred to a female business partner in Egypt just days before his death.

Despite the antipathy between the two Mrs Riley’s, and Gwen’s fear of flying, the women fly to Cairo in the hope of recovering their money only to discover Jason, alive and well, in the arms of a younger woman. As Jason flees through the streets of the city, Gwen learns that Skye, a geologist, is not just Jason’s business partner but also his wife of less than a year, and though Skye is sceptical of the women’s claims, when she logs on to her banking account she finds both their business, and her personal account have been emptied.

Now three very hurt, angry and near broke Mrs Riley’s are on the trail of the conman they had the misfortune to marry, and Jason may well wish he was dead if they manage to catch him.

Sure the plot is absurd, but it’s also fun as the reader is led all over the globe while the women give chase, from Cairo to the Maldives, from Tanzania and through Europe, with Jason just barely eluding their grasp several times. Though it’s a whirlwind world tour, geography teacher Gwen insists on visiting at least some cultural sites as the women pursue their quarry by plane, train, ship and even bicycle, uncovering more victims of Jason’s as they go.

Tish’s bold personality and raunchy sense of humour contrasts sharply with Gwen’s sensible, timid manner, and Skye’s crystal loving spirituality. A descending decade or so apart in age (Gwen is the oldest) the women have almost nothing in common so there is plenty of conflict between them, but the bond that slowly develops between Gwen and Tish in particular is warming.

The dialogue consists mostly of wisecracks, innuendo and quips. Though Lette made me laugh more than once, the humour tends to be obvious and get a little one-note after a while.

For all its inanity however, the story does address issues such as the vulnerability of women of all ages and social groups to so called ‘love rats’, and explores the idea that women can choose to embrace the post menopausal period as an opportunity to redefine their lives.

Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part is a funny, raunchy, fast-paced adventure that you’ll likely either love or hate.

++++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

Buy from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Review: The Nurses’ War by Victoria Purman

 

Title: The Nurses’ War

Author: Victoria Purman

Published: April 2022, HQ Fiction

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy Harlequin Australia

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Set in the first Australian Auxiliary Hospital established in Britain for the recuperation and rehabilitation for Australian soldiers during WWI, The Nurses’ War by Victoria Purman is an emotional story of service and sacrifice, based on true events.

In 1915, Nurse Cora Barker arrives from South Australia to staff a sixty-bed Australian convalescent hospital at Harefield Park, a country estate offered by Australian heiress and her husband for military use, on the outskirts of London. At age thirty-one Cora is an experienced nurse, eager to serve her country and provide care for the men injured in battle, but nothing has prepared her for the challenges of wartime nursing.

Within days of its opening on June 1st, the hospital was forced to expand its services for soldiers evacuated from the battlefields of Gallipoli, France and Serbia. By mid month the grounds of Harefield Park were home to more than a dozen hastily erected wards to accommodate 360 patients, barely a year later it housed over thousand, while thousands more had passed through its doors, having been discharged from duty due to injury or disease, or recovered and sent back to rejoin the fighting. With sensitivity and compassion, Purman details the daily operation of the hospital as Cora and her fellow nursing staff spend long shifts caring for men, many with gruesome physical injuries and fragile mental health, while contending with their own exhaustion, home sickness, and emotional distress. The determination of the nurses to do everything they can for ‘their boys’ is inspiring, and I loved learning about the ordinary, and extraordinary, work and achievements of the Number 1 AAH and its staff, thanks to Purman’s meticulous research. Three of my four great grandfathers served in the Australian forces during WWI and may well have passed through the hospital. (I’d be interested to know if a patient list exists, I couldn’t find one with a cursory search.)

It’s easy to feel for Cora as the war that was expected to be ‘over by Christmas’ drags on. Though she has support from her fellow nurses, Leonora, Gertie and Fiona, no one could truly be prepared for what was to come, and Purman explores how the Cora was changed by her experiences. It’s a subtle process as Cora gains a clearer understanding of the human costs of war, and lets go of some of the social strictures she was raised with. I really liked Cora’s unexpected relationship with surgeon Captain William Kent, and the support they were able to offer each other.

Introducing the perspective of Jessie Chester allows Purman to explore the effects of the war on the civilians of Britain. A young local seamstress, Jessie is a sweet character who lives with her widowed mother and palsied brother. I thought the development of her character was very well done, as the establishment of the Harefield Hospital brings an unexpected opportunity for romance, and a change of career.

I did feel the pacing was a little off, a casualty in part of the nearly five year timeline I think, and I felt there was some instances of repetition, however these are very minor quibbles that didn’t detract from my satisfaction with the story overall.

I found The Nurses’ War to be a moving, thoughtful and absorbing tribute to the women who served with courage and compassion.

++++++++

Available from Harlequin Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon

 

Linking to: It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? at BookDate; Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer; and the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

====================

*

Life…

*

Between Easter, my birthday, school holidays, my son isolating with CoVid (he has recovered and by some miracle none of us contracted it), my youngest daughter returning home for her mid semester break, and the ANZAC Day long weekend it’s been a long fortnight in which I accomplished very little.

This is my eldest son bearing the school flag for the Anzac Day March this morning wearing his late Great Grandfathers WWII medals  (he is the only one that was masked).

 

Term two of school starts on Wednesday, and my daughter will return to uni next weekend, but the next month or so promises to be busy with a family reunion, my eldest son’s 18th birthday, Mother’s Day, my eldest daughter’s 26th birthday, and a college tour necessitating an overnight trip, plus I’ll be working full time for most of May as a prepoll federal election official, as well as the 16 hour shift on Election Day itself.

Somewhere in there I’ll be reading and blogging, I promise.

*

——————————————-

*

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

*

Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

Til Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette

Wildflower by Monique Mulligan

The Nurses War by Victoria Purman

Remember Me by Charity Norman

*

———————————————

*

New Posts…

*

Review: Dinner with the Schnabels by Toni Jordan

Review: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Review: Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

Review: The Tricky Art of Forgiveness by Meredith Jaffe

Review: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

Bookshelf Bounty

*

———————————————

*

What I’m Reading This Week…

{Click on the cover to view at Goodreads}

 

Welcome back to the streets of Sunder City, a darkly imagined world perfect for readers of Ben Aaronovitch and Jim Butcher.

In a city that lost its magic, an angel falls in a downtown street. His wings are feathered, whole—undeniably magical—the man clearly flew, because he left one hell of a mess when he plummeted into the sidewalk.

But what sent him up? What brought him down? And will the answers help Fetch bring the magic back for good?

Working alongside necromancers, genies, and shadowy secret societies, through the wildest forests and dingiest dive bars, this case will leave its mark on Fetch’s body, his soul, and the fate of the world.

+++++++

 

EVERYBODY THINKS THEY KNOW MINA McCREERY.

EVERYONE HAS A THEORY ON WHAT HAPPENED TO HER SISTER.

NOW IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH…

Mina McCreery’s sister Evelyn disappeared nineteen years ago. Her life has been defined by the intense public interest in the case. Now an anxious and reclusive adult, she lives alone on her family’s destocked sheep farm.

When Lane, a private investigator, approaches her with an offer to reinvestigate the case, she rejects him. The attention has had nothing but negative consequences for her and her family, and never brought them closer to an answer.

Lane wins her trust when his unconventional methods show promise, but he has his own motivations for wanting to solve the case, and his obsession with the answer will ultimately risk both their lives.

Superbly written, taut and compassionate, Wake looks at what can happen when people’s private tragedies become public property, and the ripples of trauma that follow violent crimes. Wake won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019.

+++++++++

 

Detective Dave Burrows returns in another breathtaking tale of rural suspense from the bestselling Voice of the Outback.

Dave Burrows is fighting to see his children and suffering from the guilt and trauma of his mother-in-law being shot by his nemesis, Bulldust. He’s being told by Mel’s lawyer that his job puts his children at risk and therefore he shouldn’t see them.

After a phone call suggesting to his partner, Bob Holden, there could have been some sheep stolen north of Carnarvon, they head north and Dave tries to put his children out of his mind. Especially when Shannon, a forensic pathologist, turns up to investigate the first body on the beach. Shannon and Dave have always had a close friendship and, on the beautiful beaches of the north, that friendship grows into something more.

A ferocious storm comes, uncovering another body, buried deep in the sand, and a truckload of drugs is discovered nearby as they recover the second body.

+++++++++

 

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…

Nora is a cut-throat literary agent at the top of her game. Her whole life is books.

Charlie is an editor with a gift for creating bestsellers. And he’s Nora’s work nemesis.

Nora has been through enough break-ups to know she’s the woman men date before they find their happy-ever-after. That’s why Nora’s sister has persuaded her to swap her desk in the city for a month’s holiday in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. It’s a small town straight out of a romance novel, but instead of meeting sexy lumberjacks, handsome doctors or cute bartenders, Nora keeps bumping into…Charlie.

She’s no heroine. He’s no hero. So can they take a page out of an entirely different book?

———————————————

Thanks for stopping by!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR @thebookdate #SundayPost @Kimbacaffeinate #SundaySalon @debnance #OneFootintheFade #RisingDust #BookLovers #Wake

Bookshelf Bounty

 

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review 

(My thanks to the respective publishers)

 

 

 

 

Review: Everyone in My Family has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson

 

Title: Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone

Author: Benjamin Stevenson

Published: March 2002, Michael Joseph

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++++

My Thoughts:

You cannot possibly read the brief prologue to Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson and not be immediately intrigued by the promise of this quirky murder mystery that breaks all the rules.

“Everyone in my family has killed someone. Some of us, the high achievers, have killed more than once.”

Though Ernest Cunningham self publishes ‘how-to’ books for crime fiction writers, he can offer no special insight when a stranger is found murdered during a high country snowstorm in the midst of the Cunningham family reunion. However when the sole police officer who responds to the report arrests Ernie’s brother, Michael, whose release from prison for killing a man is the celebratory reason for the gathering, his mother insists he clears Michael’s name. After all, Ernie is the reason Michael went to jail in the first place.

“Call me a reliable narrator. Everything I tell you will be the truth, or, at least, the truth as I knew it to be at the time that I thought I knew it. Hold me to that.”

Related by Ernest in the first person while writing a book in the aftermath of events, the storyline is roughly chronological, though with necessary digressions to explain the family dynamic, and with unnecessary, but often amusing appeals, directed towards the reader, and his editor. Ernie’s conversational tone is delightfully at odds with the escalating drama as death follows death, presumably at the hands of a serial killer with a distinct and unpleasant MO.

“Look, we’re not a family of psychopaths. Some of us are good, others are bad, and some are just unfortunate.”

Family reunions are rarely free of conflict but the Cunningham’s are besieged by it. Ernie is currently person non grata, having testified against his brother in the trial that jailed Michael for three years to the great disappointment of his mother. Ernie’s wife is attending the gathering as his brother’s girlfriend, while Michael’s wife is in attendance hoping to win her husband back. Ernie’s stepsister seems particularly annoyed with everyone, while his Aunt Katherine is demanding everyone sticks to her carefully planned colour coded schedule. And of course, people are dying.

“Ronald Knox’s ’10 Commandments of Detective Fiction’, 1929”

More akin to the classics, Stevenson cleverly subverts many of the expected conventions of mystery fiction, for example, though there is a locked room element to one of the deaths, the door is not actually locked, and he even foretells each murder, including page references in the prologue. Yet there are plenty of surprises, and importantly the pace never drags.

“Family is not whose blood runs in your veins, it’s who you’d spill it for.”

A creative and compelling whodunnit perfect for today’s jaded mystery readers, Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone is witty, entertaining and ingenious.

++++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Review: The Tricky Art of Forgiveness by Meredith Jaffe

 

Title: The Tricky Art of Forgiveness

Author: Meredith Jaffe

Published: March 2022, HarperCollins Australia 

Stats: Read April 2022 courtesy HarperCollins Australia

+++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

A novel about love, marriage and redemption, The Tricky Art of Forgiveness is the fourth novel from Australian author, Meredith Jaffé.

While her husband, Will, is overseas on business, Diana Forsyth is left to unpack their possessions in their new seaside apartment. It’s a bittersweet task for Diana who has had to say goodbye to the beloved family home in which they raised their children, and nostalgia strikes as their belongings pass through her hands. When she finds a hand written note among her husbands clothes that says, ‘I forgive you’, Diana is stunned, the phrase dredging up a past she thought was settled between them.

Shifting between the past, and the present, the story represents the truism that marriage is a choice that is not made just once, but every day. The highs and lows of Diana and Will’s relationship are laid bare from the heady days of their first meeting, to the difficult moments that have at times divided them. The timing of their latest marital crisis couldn’t be worse given they expect to host family and friends to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and Will’s 60th birthday in a week.

To be honest I came very close to putting The Tricky Art of Forgiveness aside more than once, as I felt there had been so little advancement in terms of story. I hadn’t really warmed to Diana either, and Will had yet to even make an appearance, but I pushed through and I was relieved to find the last third of the novel more satisfying.

On reflection I think Jaffe presents a thoughtful exploration of the changes in a long term relationship, examining the impact of common challenges such as autonomy, parenting, work/lifestyle balance, and ageing, as well as specific issues like infidelity, loss and individual sacrifice. There were some observations that struck me as insightful, and moments I found tender and poignant, I just wasn’t particularly invested until the couple’s secrets were revealed, curious as to how they would resolve the issues between them.

Though not a story that resonated strongly with me, I’ve no doubt The Tricky Art of Forgiveness will find its audience. And I must mention that the bonus Spotify playlist Jaffe links to that reflects her characters musical interest was an unexpected joy.

+++++++++

Available from HarperCollins Australia

Or help support* Book’d Out

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

Previous Older Entries