About: Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

Title: Let Me Explain You

Author: Annie Liontas

Published: Scribner July 2015

Browse Inside

LET ME EXPLAIN YOU begins with a letter: Stavros Stavros Mavrakis-Greek immigrant, proud owner of the Gala Diner, having had a premonition of death and believing he has just ten days left to live, sends an email to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters in which he lays out his last wishes for each of them. He then sets about preparing for his final hours. With varying degrees of laughter and scorn, his family and friends dismiss his behavior as nothing more than a plea for attention, a mid-life crisis of sorts, but when Stavros disappears without explanation, those closest to him-particularly his eldest daughters Stavroula and Litza are forced to confront the possibility of his death and the realities of their loss.

My Thoughts:

I’d read about a quarter of Let Me Explain You when I realised I’d lost interest, so I put it down and picked it up again the next day only to finally admit to myself almost halfway through that I didn’t care if I finished it or not.  Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and in this case I’m not sure why.

Let Me Explain You is available to purchase at:

Simon & Schuster USAmazon US I BookDepository I Indie Bound

Review: Precocious by Joanna Barnard

 

Title: Precocious

Author: Joanna Barnard

Published: Ebury Press July 2015

Status: Read from July 16 to 17, 2015  – I own a copy

My Thoughts:

Review to come

There are some lessons you shouldn’t learn in school…
Fiona Palmer is (un)happily married when a chance meeting with her former teacher plunges her headlong into an affair.
Intercut with the realities of their adult relationship, Fiona remembers first meeting the enigmatic Henry Morgan as a precocious and lonely fourteen-year-old. Her schoolgirl crush developed into an intense relationship, but it was always one which she controlled.
Or did she?

Available to purchase via

Ebury Press I Amazon UK I Amazon US I Amazon AU

via Booko

 

Review: The Trivia Man by Deborah O’Brien

 

Title: The Trivia Man

Author: Deborah O’Brien

Published: Bantam Au June 2015

Status: Read on July 09, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Trivia is a serious business, not a social occasion’

Kevin Dwyer is a socially awkward middle aged forensic accountant whose obsession with collecting information informs his only hobby – trivia. When Kevin, on his own, blitzes the other teams on the first night of competition at the Clifton Heights Sports Club he is feted by his competitors, but Kevin isn’t a team player, until he meets Maggie Taylor.

Deborah O’Brien’s novel unfolds from the perspectives of Kevin, Maggie and Kevin’s sister, Elizabeth, set over the twelve weeks of the trivia competition that brings together Kevin and Maggie.

Sweet and artless, Kevin lives alone, his only friend his eight-year-old nephew Patrick. Kevin knows he is different, never having understood the social ease of others but he is largely content with the status quo. O’Brien paints a sympathetic picture of a good man who slowly blossoms as the story unfolds.

Maggie, a teacher of high school French and Latin in her early fifties, is single after a decade pining over a lost love. She’s a lovely character, who befriends Kevin almost by accident, but is preoccupied with the reappearance of the aforementioned ‘one who got away’.

Kevin’s sister Elizabeth has always been embarrassed by her brother and she is horrified when the similarities between Kevin and Patrick behaviour are pointed out. I didn’t care for Elizabeth at all but Kevin is determined to show Elizabeth he can be ‘normal’, especially when she stops him from seeing Patrick, believing him a ‘bad influence’.

Smaller subplots play out amongst the members of ‘Teddy and the Dreamers’, filling out the story. Trivia buffs should enjoy answering the questions posed by the MC, and recognise the dynamics of the teams.

Comparisons to Graeme Stimson’s The Rosie Project are inevitable given the behavourial similarities between Don Tillman and Kevin, though O’Brien approaches both her characters and the story with a more serious and realistic tone. The humour is subtler, and Kevin’s quirks are not the focus of the novel.

I did enjoy The Trivia Man, it’s a sweet, uplifting read about friendship, acceptance and love.

Available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

 

Review: Set in Stone by Ros Baxter

 

Title: Set in Stone

Author: Ros Baxter

Published: Harlequin MIRA June 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on July 07, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

“Lou was being brought home, finally, to face the music”

Louise Samuels swore she would never to return to Stone Mountain, but twenty years later she’s tossing back Tequila, dancing to Acca Dacca, and kissing the one man she hoped to avoid, Gage Westin, at her high school reunion. And despite her plan to return to the city with her best friend Sharni within twenty four hours, Lou is nursing a hangover when she learns her estranged mother is in the midst of a crisis and she feels compelled to stay.

Ros Baxter’s newest novel, Set in Stone combines romance with a touch of suspense in a rural setting.

The suspense is derived from two plotlines. The first involves a mining company which seems determined to exploit Stone Mountain vulnerable because of drought, perhaps by any means. It’s a topical issue of interest in regional areas that Baxter integrates well.
The second is the painful secret that has haunted Louise for twenty years, which continues to affect her relationship with her mother, Skye, and Gage. The eventual reveal is a surprise, but explains Lou’s wariness with both of them well.

Louise’s romance with Gage has been simmering for twenty years and their reunion is passionate, but complicated in a believable way. Baxter develops their relationship nicely and I enjoyed the tension between them.

“Because it was the kind of kiss that you get lost in – not just lost in time and place, but lost in another person. It was a kiss that took all the pieces of your identity and common sense, and scattered them like petals on the breeze, right at the same time that it anchored you in the brutal, beautiful moment.”

The writing is accomplished, with genuine dialogue and good pacing. I loved that Baxter headed each chapter with a song title, though I was stuck with the resulting earworms for a while.

I really enjoyed Set in Stone, the characterisation is genuine, the plot, and subplots, well thought out and the distinctly Australian setting is appealing. A great read, recommended for fans of contemporary and rural romance.

Available to purchase from

Harlequin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

Review: The Perfect Son by Barbara Claypole White

 

Title: The Perfect Son

Author: Barbara Claypole White

Published: Lake Union Publishing July 2015

Status: Read from July 05 to 07, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

When Ella Fitzwilliam is hospitalised after a life threatening heart attack her workaholic husband, Felix, is forced to assume the daily care of his teenage son, Harry. Harry is a bright, handsome sixteen year old, with Tourette Syndrome, ADHD and anxiety, and father and son struggle to cope in Ella’s absence.

Told from the perspectives of White’s three main characters, Harry, Ella and Felix, The Perfect Son is a heart warming and poignant story about family, acceptance, trust and love. The changing dynamic of the Fitzwilliam family is beautifully crafted and White writes with insight and compassion for the complexities of a family in crisis.

Ella has always been her son’s advocate and his strongest supporter. She doesn’t regret devoting her life to ensure Harry’s well being but hovering between life and death she is forced to let go and trust her husband and son will find their way.

As a perfectionist who is uncomfortable with both physical and emotional disorder, Felix struggles to negotiate both the everyday and extraordinary challenges involved in parenting Harry. Initially Felix is largely an unsympathetic character, while devoted to his wife, his attitude towards his son is cold and critical, however as White reveals his painful back story I began to understand his inability to relate to his son, and I really enjoyed the way in which the author developed him.

Harry is a wonderful character and I was impressed with White’s well rounded portrayal of him. Harry’s neurobiological issues are a part of who he is, but that isn’t all he is. Like any other teen Harry is contemplating his options for college, falling in love, learning to drive and testing parental limits. He deals admirably with the extra pressure of his mother’s illness and his father’s cluelessness and is a special and genuine young man.

White’s secondary characters are also a delight. Ella’s closest friend, Katherine, the family’s feisty elderly neighbour, Eudora, and in particular Harry’s best friend, Max, add humour and sentiment to the plot.

Tender, funny, sad and sweet, The Perfect Son is a wonderful story that pulls at the heart strings and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Available to purchase from

Lake Union I Amazon US I Amazon UK I Amazon AU

Indie Bound I via Booko

Review: The Other Side of The World by Stephanie Bishop

 

Title: The Other Side of the World

Author: Stephanie Bishop

Published: Hachette June  2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from July 01 to 02, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Stephanie Bishop’s novel, The Other Side of the World, is garnering much praise amongst critics and readers alike.

Exploring the themes of home, longing, identity and love Bishop presents the story of a Charlotte, a wife and new mother who reluctantly agrees to emigrate from England with her husband, Henry, a British Indian, in search of a fresh start in the sunny promise of Australia.

I admired Bishop’s poetic descriptions of both the physical and emotional landscape experienced by her characters. The writing is lyrical and evocative creating a close atmosphere that envelops the reader.

But this is a character driven novel and I failed to connect with Charlotte in particular. Rather than developing empathy for her longing for England, or more honestly for the life she had before children, I was irritated by her self absorption, horrified by her behaviour towards her daughters, impatient with her self pity.

“But that is all she has; there is the brightness of the outside world and then the starved, dark space of her own consciousness”

I found Henry to be a more likeable and interesting character, his struggle with his identity, of his yearning to belong, well articulated.

“Once more no one knows quite who, or what he is meant to be. He experienced this in England, but it was worse here – with his Queen’s English and his strange-coloured skin….his voice and appearance do not fit. Not here. Perhaps not anywhere.”

Though I appreciate the elegance of Bishop’s writing, the insightful exploration of themes, and finely wrought characterisation, I have to admit I didn’t really enjoy The Other Side of The World.

Available to purchase from

Hachette Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

 

Review: Hush, Little Bird by Nicole Trope

Title: Hush, Little Bird

Author: Nicole Trope

Published: Allen & Unwin June 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from July 02 to 05, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Nicole Trope’s fourth novel, Hush, Little Bird is a thought provoking and heartbreaking story.

Hush, Little Bird is told from the alternative first person perspectives of two very different women, both serving sentences in a minimum security prison, linked by the actions of one man, Simon, a former television celebrity, Birdy’s childhood abuser and Rose’s late husband.

It is a harrowing tale that details the suffering of a young, vulnerable girl at the hands of her abuser and the lasting consequences of his actions; and the implosion of a dutiful wife’s life when her husband’s shocking secrets are revealed. Trope gives each woman, both victims, a voice that ultimately shatters the silence
they have taken refuge in to protect themselves.

A story of innocence betrayed, regret, forgiveness and revenge, Hush, Little Bird is told with keen insight and compassion for the victims of abusers. Though this may be a confronting read for some, it is a story that needs to be told.

” I do not want them silenced. I want them to know that they have been heard.”

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

Also by Nicole Trope (click cover to read my reviews)

Review: The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

Title: The Book of Speculation

Author: Erika Swyler

Published: St Martins Press June 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from June 27 to July 01, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In Erika Swyler’s gorgeous debut novel, The Book of Speculation, Simon Watson receives an old ledger that once belonged to a traveling carnival in the mail, along with a note mentioning a connection to his late mother’s family. Struggling with his recent redundancy, the inevitable crumbling of his family home into the sea, and the return of his sister, Simon develops an obsession with the book which reveals a troubling history. For generations, the women of his family, all with a talent for holding their breath, including his mother, have drowned on the same date.

Dual narratives reveal Simon’s growing concern for his fragile sister as July 24th approaches, and the truth of the tragic curse that has haunted their family since the early 1800’s beginning with Evangeline, ‘The Atlantis Mermaid’. Similar themes are reflected in both tales – lust, guilt, love, betrayal, loss, and magic, and tangible connections are drawn with a tattered deck of tarot cards and the appearance of horseshoe crabs.

“At the corner of a page, just above a quickly jotted note about oppressive heat and fog, is a delicate brown illustration of a horseshoe crab. I shut the book and leave the house as quickly as my ankle allows. I need to get into the water, to clear my head….On the sand, crabs scramble around my feet and over each other. The tide has come up since the afternoon, hiding the thousands more horseshoes that lurk beneath.”

I loved reading about Peabody’s spectacular traveling carnival. The characters of The Wild Boy, the Seer, the Mermaid and Peabody himself are vividly drawn, their dark secrets are haunting and tragic.

“Heralded by a glorious voice, a troupe of traveling entertainers arrived. A mismatched collection of jugglers, acrobats, fortune-tellers, contortionists, and animals, the band was presided over by Hermelius H. Peabody, self-proclaimed visionary in entertainment and education, who thought the performers and animals (a counting pig deemed learned, a horse of miniature proportions, and a spitting llama) were instruments for improving minds and fattening his purse.”

The pace of the novel is measured, reflecting the melancholic, often close, atmosphere of the novel. The tension builds slowly in both timelines, as the truth of the curse is unraveled. The prose is often beautiful and enhanced by the illustrations that accompany it.

The Book of Speculation an enchanting tale.

“She knows that her name will find its way into his speculations. So will his. Because there are things you do for people you’ve known your whole life. You let them save you, you put them in your books, and you let each other begin again, clean.”

Available to purchase from

St Martins I Amazon US I Book Depository I Indie Bound

via Booko

Review: The Homestead Girls by Fiona McArthur

9780143799825

 

 

Title: The Homestead Girls

Author: Fiona McArthur

Published: Penguin June 2015

Status: Read from June 24 to 27, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Fiona McArthur’s, The Homestead Girls, is a heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion set in the outback of NSW.

In The Homestead Girls, Soretta Byrnes is struggling to keep her grandparent’s farm solvent in the drought, especially after her grandfather is badly injured in an accident, so when it’s suggested that she accept some boarders as a way to earn extra income, she agrees, determined to save Blue Hills Station.
Soretta is quickly joined by Daphne Prince, a flight nurse with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, eager to help the battling farmer; Dr Billie Green, with her rebellious teenage daughter in tow, who has returned to her hometown of Mica Ridge to fulfill a childhood dream by taking up a position with the RFDS; and eighty year old widow Lorna Lamerton, looking for company.
Despite their differences, the unlikely housemates soon become close friends, finding strength, support and happiness in their relationships with one another as they face a myriad of challenges.

I liked all the women in The Homestead Girls and delighted in their growing friendship. They all benefit from their living arrangements in both practical and emotional ways.

With such a large primary cast I did find some elements of the story a little underdeveloped. I’m not sure, for example, that the subplot involving Billie and her ex husband added anything to the story overall, the confrontation between the pair was anti-climatic and quickly overshadowed by following events.
Though there is romance in The Homestead Girls, for both Billie and Daphne, it doesn’t overwhelm the story. With both Billie and Daphne having been deeply hurt in past relationships they are wary of involvement and their romances with their respective partners, Morgan and Rex, develop slowly, though Daphne’s has been a long time coming.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an invaluable resource in regional Australia and McArthur highlights their stellar work in The Homestead Girls. The RFDS provides numerous services to outback communities from running immunisation and antenatal clinics in remote areas, to dealing with emergencies such as snakebites, heart attacks and vehicular accidents. I really enjoyed learning more about what it’s like to work for the service and reading about the team’s varied medical experiences.

An uplifting story of friendship and romance, The Homestead Girls is a lovely read I’d be happy to recommend.

CLICK HERE to read more about the inspiration for the setting of The Homestead Girls in Fiona’s guest post published earlier today.

The Homestead Girls is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

AWW Feature: The Outback, The Homestead Girls, and Fiona McArthur

fiona

I’m delighted to welcome Fiona McArthur to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of The Homestead Girls.

Fiona McArthur has worked as a rural midwife for many years. She is a clinical midwifery educator, mentors midwifery students, and is involved with obstetric emergency education for midwives and doctors from all over Australia. Fiona’s love of writing has seen her sell over two million books in twelve languages. She’s been a midwifery expert for Mother&Baby magazine and is the author of the nonfiction works The Don’t Panic Guide to Birth and Breech Baby: A Guide for Parents. She lives on an often swampy farm in northern New South Wales with her husband, some livestock, and a blue heeler named Reg. She’s constantly taking photographs of sunrise and sunset and loves that researching her books allows her to travel to remote places. Her first rural fiction novel with Penguin Australia, Red Sand Sunrise, was published in 2014.

Fiona McArthur’s second novel, The Homestead Girls is a heartwarming story of friendship, courage and compassion in the outback.

9780143799825

“Moving to the outback to join the Flying Doctors will change Billie’s life forever.
After her teenage daughter Mia falls in with the wrong crowd, Dr Billie Green decides it’s time to leave the city and return home to far western NSW. When an opportunity to pursue her childhood dream of joining the Flying Doctor Service comes along, she  jumps at the chance. Flight nurse Daphne Prince – who is thrilled to have another woman join the otherwise male crew – and their handsome new boss, Morgan Blake, instantly make her feel welcome.
Just out of town, drought-stricken grazier Soretta Byrnes has been struggling to make ends meet and has opened her homestead to boarders. Tempted by its faded splendour and beautiful outback setting, Billie, Mia and Daphne decide to move in and the four of them are soon joined by eccentric eighty-year-old Lorna Lamerton.
The unlikely housemates are cautious at first, but soon they are offering each other frank advice and staunch support as they tackle medical emergencies, romantic adventures and the challenges of growing up and getting older. But when one of their lives is threatened, the strong friendship they have forged will face the ultimate test…”

My review can be seen HERE, but first, please read on to learn more about Fiona McArthur’s inspiration for the setting of The Homestead Girls.

****

Outback Inspiration

by Fiona McArthur

Hello and thanks so much for asking me back as I launch my new novel, The Homestead Girls. And speaking of being back, I’d like to chat about background setting and how it’s such an integral part of a book. People have asked why I set a book ‘inspired by’ Broken Hill so I thought I’d mull over some of the ways I used our visits to Broken Hill and why I loved it?

I read an article once where Broken Hill was called ‘The boldest of the outback towns… pressure-cooked through the mining years.’ I wish I’d written that – but I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment. It’s a unique and layered township and surrounds and my husband loved it so much he wondered if we could retire there after just two visits.

Here’s 10 things I used from Broken Hill and Outback NSW for the Homestead Girls.

FullSizeRender-3

Mt Gipps Station mailbox

1/The Sky – Bluer than any you see in the city – in fact all of the colours are so vibrant it’s one of the main reasons so many artists live there. Think Pro Hart. Jack Absolom.

2/The Landscape from the air – imagine the vista the flight nurses and pilots see every day when they go to work. That great expanse of browns and golds and orange, with ribbons of empty creek beds, and then a station or tiny township coming up on the horizon. I took a fabulous one and a half hour flight with Silver City Scenic Flights and lots of notes – though notes were when I wasn’t hanging on – it was little bit bumpy!

The Landscape from the ground – the lookout at Mundi Mundi – what a view! The view from the ridge on Mt Gipps. What a place for a sunset drink! And a seduction scene.

3/The Racecourse. The Silver City Cup was first held in 1899, and is the oldest horse race in the region, and held towards the end of October every year. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for us but we walked outside the racecourse, peered at the stands and took photos for a scene I knew I would write there. I looked up all the photos of the racegoers after the event and they all had smiles on their faces. So did my characters when they went.

FullSizeRender

Murals Palace Hotel

4/The Palace Hotel main street Broken Hill – had to go and visit and sit on the stairs and just look. Wow! Inside is decorated with fabulous oil-painted murals up and down the stair walls and ceiling, including a magnificently flamboyant depiction of Botticelli’s Venus above the staircase. These are the paintings famously featured in the movie Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.

5/Walking down the main street beautifully restored buildings were exactly like the apartment one of my characters would live in Mica Ridge and then there are the roses. Love the roses outside all the town buildings. ‘Billy had forgotten about the roses until she saw them again on the day she arrived back to her home town.’

6/The huge airport and the RFDS Base – all those trees surrounding the tarmac, the heat that belts off it on hot days. Rental cars parked under the trees. Though, just stating, the flying doctor base scenes are set in Mica Ridge Base, which is smaller than Broken Hill. 

7/Silverton – two of my characters visited the pub, as did my husband and I, funny that, which is stocked with memorabilia from movies made in the area such as Mad Max, A Town Like Alice, it’s a must visit place with history around every corner. A really fun atmosphere, but so spread out it reminds you how much is gone, and gives the impression of being deserted.

IMG_6055

Desert Sculptures

8/The Desert Sculptures – loved this hilltop, in the middle of the outback, art gallery – arranged with huge, truly inspiring sculptures. The paths, bushes, trees, and native flowers all complimented the different-themed stone carvings (stone sourced from Wilcannia) on the skyline. Loved that the artist’s interpretation was explained on discreet signage beside each artist’s work.

9/Mt Gipps Station and the Sturt’s Desert Pea – inspiration for Blue Hills Station in the book – and the best farm stay ever.

10/And of course the people. The wonderful, laconic, incredibly tough people in town and on the land. Then there are the flight nurses, doctors, pilots and everyone else who makes saving lives in the outback, happen with a minimum of fuss.

I really hope everyone enjoys The Homestead Girls and… so my answer is why wouldn’t I draw inspiration from Broken Hill?

IMG_5766

Highway Signs

 *****

9780143799825

The Homestead Girls is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

aww-badge-2015

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,003 other followers