Review: Missing You by Kylie Kaden

 

Title: Missing You

Author: Kylie Kaden

Published: Random House Au April 2015

Status: Read from April 05 to 07, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

“At what point did this become my fate? Did I ever control it? And if I’d chosen differently, would all the good parts dissolve along with the bad? Even if this is the end, I have no regrets. For giving into that magnetic pull we had, despite wanting different things….I didn’t think it was possible to love another human more…”

Aisha and Ryan fell in love the moment they met, and were certain would make it work, despite the differences between them. Five years later, struggling with the reality of their compromises and the relentless demands of parenting their autistic spectrum son, they fight and Ryan walks away.
A day later, Aisha receives a late night phone call, and promising to return in an hour or so, leaves her son, Eli, in her father’s care. Three days later Aisha has still not come home, Ryan can’t be reached, and while the police seem inclined to dismiss Patrick’s fears, he is certain something is wrong.

From the first page the reader is aware that wherever Aisha is, she is in trouble. The tension builds as the reader wonders why she is missing, has Aisha simply had enough, snapping under the strain, or is there a more sinister reason for her absence?

“I calmly wonder is this is how it feels to die: This strange lightness, drifting in zero gravity. I feel no pain, but I have no control. I command my brain to charge my limbs, to pry open my eyes, but it’s no use.”

Missing You unfolds through the perspectives of Aisha, Ryan and Patrick, shifting from the present, through the past, until the two timelines merge.

Over a period of seven days, Patrick worries about his missing daughter while caring for his grandson. Eli’s behaviour is a challenge for Patrick and Kaden explores the difficulties of catering to his needs.

“Seventy years I’ve made it, and never seen a boy like him.”

Aisha and Ryan’s narratives reveal their life together – their passionate romance, their feelings about marriage and parenthood, – and why the cracks had begun to appear, leading to the fight that separates them the day before Aisha goes missing. Kaden does a wonderful job of creating two interesting, well rounded characters and mapping a fairytale relationship complicated by reality.

“My life isn’t perfect, Gabe. We’re broke, tired, antisocial. The highlight of my week is more than four hours’ consecutive sleep. But we love each other. I love my son.”

Missing You held me in its thrall from the first page, and while I confess to being a little disappointed in one element of the ending, I found it to be a layered, absorbing tale of love and suspense.

 

 Learn more about Kyle Kaden and Missing You by clicking HERE

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Also by Kylie Kaden

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AWW Feature: Kylie Kaden and Book Nerds Anonymous

Kaden, Kylie

 

I’m excited to welcome Kylie Kaden to Book’d Out today to celebrate the release of her second novel, Missing You.

Kylie graduated with an honours degree in psychology from Queensland University of Technology in 2000, she shares her frazzled parenting experiences in her regular column in My Child magazine, and is a strong advocate for telling it like it is when it comes to the struggles (and joys) of raising kids. Raised in Queensland, she lives in Brisbane with her husband and three young sons. Kylie knew writing was in her blood from a young age, using her brother’s Commodore 64 to invent stories as a child. Her debut novel, Losing Kate, was published in 2014 (Random House).

Missing You is a tantalising love story and a seductive suspense novel.

‘Our lives were built around the strength of a kiss between strangers. Yet seven years on, look where it led us . . .’
When Aisha met Ryan she fell hard for his good looks and easy charm. Why worry that he didn’t want children or a 9 to 5 job? Nothing and no one would come between them. But with the birth of their high-needs son, Eli, their extraordinary love is shackled into an ordinary life, their passion blunted by responsibility. Until Ryan can’t take it anymore.
Then, following a mysterious phone call late one night, Aisha leaves four-year-old Eli in the care of her elderly father Patrick – and doesn’t come back. As Patrick struggles with the grandson he barely knows or understands, his frustration with his missing daughter and absent son-in-law quickly turns to fear. Particularly when blood is found in Aisha’s abandoned car . . .

My review of Missing You will be published later today, in the meantime please enjoy this guest post from Kyle Kaden.

Book Nerds Anonymous

Since I gouged teeth marks through The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I don’t think I’ve gone a day without a book. They’ve been a constant. Just like my husband can recite who won the footy final each year for the last dozen or so and where he was for each, I can tell you that I bought Lovely Bones on Kamari Beach on Santorini (as it was one of the few books I could find in English). That I read Wuthering Heights in a converted barn in Tuscany (out loud). Like fire leaves its mark between growth rings of a tree, you can read my life by the books I’ve read, infer what stage of a relationship I was in, the life-phase, the mood – by the titles I chose. Like people we meet, some books are quickly forgotten, while others stay with us always. I’m a self-confessed book nerd, and here’s why.

I love movies, live music, theatre. But books – they are so approachable. Perennially available, they are ready when you are with no ad-breaks, no intermission. You can turn them down in bed one night, and they’ll wait patiently beside you ‘til you’re in the mood. The story unfolds at the pace you set, the characters look exactly like they should (with perfect accents). You can devour them on a train, on a beach, in a line. And there is a book for every taste. They offer a whole lot more than entertainment.

Books are like an update for your brain. They can enrich your soul, allow you to walk in the shoes of another human – all from the safety of your doona (and for the cost of a library card). Books are a friend for the lonely kid who’d rather fight dragons in dungeons during lunchbreaks than kick goals. They are a companion through post-divorce celibacy, a time-waster after a hysterectomy, a date on a Saturday night. For those that are believers, you shall never be bored. They can guide you through a diagnosis, a game of 500, a quilt project. Books are a tardis: there is always a book about to be released to transport you to another time and place. All you have to do is let it.

So I am humbled when the powers that be decided I was worthy to add the product of some of my mixed-up musings to the great big party of imaginary friends that literature has to offer the world. And everyone’s invited.

My latest romantic thriller Missing You, is about relationships tested by adversity and introduces Aisha: an offbeat-beauty struggling to be the mum she never had, Ryan – an opportunistic charmer coming to terms with being the dad he never knew he wanted to be, and Pat – a grumble-bum Grandpa lumbered with the care of a difficult four year old – Eli, who sees the world differently to the rest of us. When Aisha leaves her beloved son in the care of her elderly father and doesn’t come back, the family’s concern quickly turns to fear when a bloodstain is found in Aisha’s abandoned car…

Missing You is available to purchase from

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Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

Title: Normal

Author: Graeme Cameron

Published: Harlequin MIRA March 2015

Status: Read from March 31 to April 01, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Normal by Graeme Cameron is told in the first person, by an unnamed man who lives in a lovely English farmhouse with a separate garage, drives a white Transit van, and enjoys cooking.

The novel opens as our mystery man is cleaning up after the murder and dismemberment of his latest victim, and is interrupted by an unsuspecting young woman whom he abducts. With Erica safely caged in his purpose built, underground games room our protagonist goes grocery shopping.

“I know exactly when it all started to go wrong for me. It was April 5 at 19:23:17, and it started with a pair of eyes.”

It is there that he meets Rachel and his life begins to unravel.

Cameron has created a rather startling antihero, a serial killer who falls in love with a checkout girl. For years he has happily stalked, kidnapped, murdered and even eaten young women, but meeting Rachel throws him off his game.

“I stared down at my feeble prey lying cock-eagled on the floor, and I felt all of the craving, all of the desperate, clawing need simply evaporate. Abruptly, everything in my head was Rachael, everything in my gust was regret and everything at my feet was a ridiculous, unfathomable error of judgement.”

The question is what to do with his most recent captive, who turns out to be quite an unusual young woman, and the police detectives who are persistently curious about his house guest. The killer is clever and resourceful but slowly he begins to lose control of his carefully constructed, ‘normal’ life, and shockingly elicits some sympathy for his predicament.

The best surprise is in the black humour, which is often sly and offbeat. Ordinary scenes are injected with a dark twist that provoke a startled snicker.

“In Fruit & Veg I selected a peach. Small, rosy and perfectly rounded, she set my mouth watering the moment she caught my eye. Her burly, bruised companion, however, swiftly killed my appetite.”

Disturbing and whimsical in equal measure, Normal has its flaws, but overall is an entertaining, provocative and sharply written novel.

Available to Purchase From

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normal

Available in Australia  July 2015

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Review: Life or Death by Michael Robotham

 

Title: Life or Death

Author: Michael Robotham

Published: Mulholland Books March 2015

Status: Read on March 20, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Life or Death is Michael Robotham’s tenth novel, a rare stand alone from one of Australia’s favourite crime fiction author’s, best known for his O’Loughlin/Ruiz series.

Inspired by a real life news report, Robotham has built his story around the character of Audie Palmer who, after serving ten years in prison, escapes the day before his scheduled release. No one understands why Audie would run when he risks an extended sentence if caught, but it’s assumed that it has something to do with the unrecovered $7 million dollars stolen during the robbery he was convicted of committing.

It soon becomes obvious however that Audie isn’t motivated by money, hunted by the authorities and criminals alike, he is on a mission to save a life. Despite what Audie stands accused of, he quickly becomes such a likeable character, a victim of bad luck and worse luck, he demonstrates an enviable strength of character to rise above it all. He is the ultimate underdog, battling to do the right thing in the face of overwhelming odds.

Flashbacks provide the details of Audie’s back story, explaining his present predicament. The twists and turns of the plot are well executed, even if a touch predictable. I read Life or Death in a matter of hours, Robotham’s fluid writing, and tight pacing ensures this is a page turner.

An entertaining read with a great premise, appealing characters and a strong and satisfying ending, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Life or Death.

Available to Purchase From

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Review: Resistance by John Birmingham

 

Title: Resistance {Dave Hooper #2}

Author: John Birmingham

Published: Pan Macmillan AU March 2015

Status: Read from March 12 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

The second novel to feature rig engineer turned superhero monster slayer Dave Cooper, Resistance is another darkly funny, action packed fantasy adventure from Australian author John Birmingham.

Dave is enjoying his celebrity, in a typical Dave-like manner, after the defeat of the Hunn but the breach in New Orleans was just the start and now the Hunn are boiling up from the underworld realm all over the globe, eager to reclaim their dominion.

There is no getting away from the fact that Dave is a dick, and his basic nature is unchanged despite becoming a superhero. In Resistance he is confronted with his new responsibilities as the only man able to translate the intentions of the Hunn but he manages to alienate almost everyone when he makes the wrong choices.

Like Emergence, Resistance is a fast paced, entertaining read, hilarious, action – packed and unfailingly politically incorrect.

I’m looking forward to Dave’s final adventure in Ascendance

 

Resistance is available to purchase from

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Also available: Book 1

Review: Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway

 

Title: Lacy Eye

Author: Jessica Treadway

Published: Grand Central Publishing March 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 11 to 12, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:
It’s been three years since Hanna and Joe were brutally attacked in their own home. Joe died as a result, while Hanna was left with permanent physical and mental injuries. Now the man charged with the crime is seeking an appeal, and Hanna is desperate to recover her memories of the night her youngest daughter’s boyfriend tried to kill her, both to ensure he remains incarcerated and to put to rest any suspicion that her daughter, Dawn, was complicit in the attack.

The narrative unfolds from Hanna’s perspective and can at times feel claustrophobic. Hanna is isolated, her belief in Dawn’s innocence angers her older daughter, Iris, the case prosecutor and even strangers.

Hanna’s wilful self deception is frustrating though it soon becomes obvious she has a long history of avoiding uncomfortable truths. And though her past reflects somewhat poorly on her, it’s difficult to blame Hanna in the aftermath of the attack, for what mother would willingly entertain the idea that her daughter, whom she loves, wished her such harm.

While Treadway makes clear her sympathy lies with Hanna she demonstrates compassion for Dawn who struggled as a bullied child in the shadow of her older, popular sister. Nature vs nurture is a theme obliquely explored in Lacy Eye, through the relationships between mother and daughter and the differences between the two sisters.

The pace is measured as Hanna recalls the past and struggles with the events of the present. There isn’t a lot of dialogue or action but the tension is palpable as Hanna comes closer to understanding the truth of what happened that night.

Lacy Eye is a powerful psychological drama, inspired by a real life incident. It’s not an easy read but it is interesting and thought-provoking.

 

Available to Purchase From

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Review: Nothing Sacred by David Thorne

 

Title: Nothing Sacred {Daniel Connell #2}

Author: David Thorne

Published: Corvus : Allen & Unwin March 2015

Status: Read from March 01 to 02, 2015 — I own a copy

My Thoughts:

A gritty crime thriller Nothing Sacred is the second book from David Thorne to feature disgraced lawyer, Daniel Connell, following East of Innocence.

In Nothing Sacred, Daniel is reluctantly drawn into the underworld of Essex by the tearful pleas of his ex girlfriend Victoria who is being tormented by an unseen force and has lost custody of her young children. Meanwhile, Daniel’s childhood best friend Gabe, a veteran whose military career was cut short when he lost his leg, is mixed up in something deadly that has followed him from the battlefield of Afghanistan.

Nothing Sacred was a little too brutal and bleak for my tastes, but the action is fast-paced and the plot is well thought out. There are several twists and Thorne brings it all together well.
The characters are convincing, if somewhat stereotypical for the genre. Daniel’s sense of justice overrides his confidence in the law and he has no problem crossing the line when he feels justified in doing so.

A quick, solid read with a noir-ish feel, Nothing Sacred should appeal to crime fiction fans with a hard edge.

Nothing Sacred is available to purchase from

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Review: Second Life by S.J. Watson

Title: Second Life

Author: S.J Watson

Published: Doubleday February 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read on February 11, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

SJ Watson’s debut, Before I Go To Sleep was a smash hit and I imagine the pressure to produce a similarly successful novel has been immense.

London wife and mother, Julia, is devastated when she is informed her younger sister, Kate, has been murdered by an unknown assailant in a Parisian alleyway. Half crazed with grief and guilt, Julia becomes obsessed with finding Kate’s killer, infiltrating an online ‘hook-up’ service her sister used in search of suspects.
Lukas is one of the first men to respond to her tentative approach, and though she quickly dismisses him as a suspect in her sister’s murder, Julia can’t seem to extract herself from the connection they have made. Her stolen moments with Lukas are a reprieve from her despair but as their relationship transitions from the virtual to the real world, Julia’s ‘second life’ unwittingly puts everything she has, and those she loves most, at risk.

What Watson does particularly well in Second Life is create a close, tense and increasingly disorientating atmosphere as Julia’s life spirals out of control.

My dissatisfaction with this novel can be laid at the feet of Watson’s protagonist, Julia. I just didn’t buy into her behaviour, despite the author’s rationalisations of grief and guilt. I found Julia to be painfully frustrating – naive, self obsessed, and later, wontingly self destructive.

Unable to invest in the character, I then struggled with the plot, which relies on Julia’s poor judgment to progress. There is tension and some surprising twists but it wasn’t enough to convince me to put aside my dislike of Julia. Perhaps the strongest element of the story is the pacy and shocking denouement, though I’m still not quite sure how I feel about its ambiguity.

Just barely an okay read, largely due to my frustration with the main character, unfortunately, I think Second Life suffers badly in comparison with Before I Go To Sleep.

Available to Purchase From

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Review: Runaway Lies by Shannon Curtis

 

Title: Runaway Lies

Author: Shannon Curtis

Read an Extract

Published: Harlequin MIRA February 2015

Status: Read from February 01 to 03, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Runaway Lies is an engaging novel of romantic suspense from Shannon Curtis. The plot is fast moving, offering some exciting and dramatic moments, and the romantic tension sizzles.

Darcy Montgomery has managed to elude her former boss for four months but when she rescues the children of wealthy business tycoon Dominic St. James from his ex wife’s sinking car, her anonymity is at risk of being compromised. Despite her injuries, Darcy is determined to slip away before anybody discovers the dangerous truth about her.
Dominic is grateful to Darcy for saving the lives of his four-year-old twins, and feels responsible for her injury when it’s determined that the accident was engineered. He’s puzzled though by her reluctance to accept his offer of help, even when she has lost everything.
Despite Darcy’s hesitation, Dom convinces her to spend at least a few weeks recuperating with him and his family and, after months on the run, she finally begins to let down her guard. But just as Darcy decides to trust Dom with her secret, her carefully constructed facade collapses and Darcy has no other choice but to run to protect her life…and her heart.

I wasn’t sure what to think of Darcy at first. Curtis presents her as a guilty woman on the run and I made the assumption that she had somehow bought her troubles on herself. I was relieved to discover as the story unfolded that Darcy had simply found herself in an awful position and was doing her best to do what was right, even though it meant she had to lie.

I have to admit my least favourite character trope in romance is the ‘billionaire boyfriend’, it is usually relied upon as a plot convenience allowing the author to circumvent issues that would trouble someone without a Platinum credit card, but Dom’s wealth doesn’t interfere in the story. I liked him a lot, he proved to be a great guy and a caring father.

I really liked the way Curtis involved the children in the story. It’s notoriously difficult to do so in a way that is realistic but the author manages to integrate them neatly into the plot and keep their behaviour and actions age appropriate.

An entertaining tale of intrigue, action and romance, set in NSW, I really enjoyed Runaway Lies and would recommend it to fans of Helene Young and Bronwyn Parry.

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Review: The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald

 

Title: The Exit

Author: Helen Fitzgerald

Published: Faber and Faber UK February 2015

Status: Read from February 01 to 02, 2015 — I own a copy   (Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

A disturbing novel of psychological suspense, The Exit is Helen Fitzgerald’s eleventh book.

The narrative alternates between the perspectives of 23-year-old Catherine, an unemployed, arrogant party girl, and Rose, an 82-year-old children’s book author and illustrator suffering from dementia, whose hold on the present is tenuous. Rose is a resident of Dear Green, a small private care home in Glasgow, Scotland, and the two meet when Catherine, at her mother’s insistence, reluctantly accepts a job in the private facility as an aide.

Of the handful of residents, Catherine is least repulsed by Rose, and when the old woman offers her £1000 to deliver a message she is happy to humour Rose’s ravings about ‘truth’ and ‘Room 7′. Catherine is thinking only of escaping to Ibiza to work on her tan when she discovers some creepy entries in the care log and she begins to suspect that Rose might be right, something is very wrong at Dear Green.

There are several unexpected twists and turns in The Exit which eventually exposes a dark and perverted secret but not before Catherine and Rose almost become victims of their suspicions. I was slow to warm to Catherine, who seems determined to live up to the stereotype of Gen Y, while Rose’s dementia, and tragic past, inspires a mix of pity and admiration, but I found myself anxious for the welfare of both women as the story unfolded.

There was a major element of the story, involving Catherine’s mother, that didn’t really work for me. I can’t reveal too much without risking spoilers but I felt it was an odd addition to the plot. In addition the conclusion was more ambiguous than I would prefer.

The story feels a little slow to start as Fitzgerald establishes character but the pace picks up, and The Exit is a quick read. What I didn’t really expect was the vein of humour that occasionally leavens the horror.

The Exit is an unsettling thriller, though I didn’t grip me the way The Cry did, I did enjoy it.

 

Available to Purchase From

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