Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth - Book Review

I’d love to meet Sally Hepworth, I think she’d be a lot of fun (note to Pan Macmillan Australia: please include Adelaide in Sally’s upcoming book tour!)

The Family Next Door is a gem of a book. It’s easy to read with likeable characters experiencing everyday challenges of motherhood and career, with a few curveballs thrown in.

I enjoyed Hepworth’s empathetic approach to her characters mixed with her sense of humour and gentle wit.

I particularly recommend The Family Next Door for mothers with newborns to provide reassurance that your experiences are normal and comfort that you’re not alone.

I’m looking forward to Hepworth’s new book, The Mother-In-Law, to be released later this month.

Synopsis from Pan Macmillan Australia: Do you ever really know your neighbours?

The safest suburbs often hold the deepest secrets. Such is the case for Essie, a mother of two. In a moment of maternal despair she once made a terrible mistake, one she will always regret. Essie has since recovered, but she fears what may still lurk inside her.

Her neighbours in Pleasant Court have their own issues. Driven and organised, Ange appears to have everything under control, except perhaps her husband. Practical, intellectual Fran can't stop running. For exercise, or something else.

One day in February, during an unprecedented Melbourne heatwave, someone new arrives. Isabelle is single and childless, when everyone else is married with kids. She is renting, when everyone else owns. Her job is mysteriously vague. Strangest of all, Isabelle is very curious about her neighbours. Too curious, some might say.

It soon becomes clear that Isabelle's choice of neighbourhood was no accident. And her presence might bring even more secrets to light...

Happy reading!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens - Book Review

I’ve rewritten this review so many times. Oh, the pressure of doing this book justice! So in the interest of just getting it out there, here are three things I want to share about Where The Crawdads Sing:

1) Every summer for the past 30-plus years I have been fortunate to holiday on the south coast of South Australia, in a town called Goolwa by the Coorong. It’s where the River Murray meets the Southern Ocean, a landscape that includes river, ocean, sand dunes and wetlands, inhabited by birds and marine life. Where The Crawdads Sing has given me a greater appreciation for this coastal wilderness on my doorstep.

2) The Coorong is also the setting for one of Australia’s best loved children’s books. If you enjoyed Storm Boy by Colin Thiele as a child, you will love Where The Crawdads Sing as an adult. Delia Owens tells the story of Marsh Girl, a young woman who lives in the coastal marshlands of North Carolina in 1950s America. It’s a story about loneliness, resilience, coming of age, the beauty of our natural world….and a possible murder.

3) This is a beautiful, stunning, wonderful book. Please read it! As my first book for 2019 I’ve set the bar high. Have you read Where The Crawdads Sing? I’d love to know what you think.

Synopsis from Hachette Australia: For years, rumours of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl.

But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved.

When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life - until the unthinkable happens.

Happy reading!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel - Book Review

What would you do if your child told you that he or she wanted to live as a she or he? 

This Is How It Always Is explores this journey through the eyes of two parents wanting to do the right thing by their child. It’s such a delicate topic which Laurie Frankel addresses with empathy, warmth and compassion. 

Every parent should read this.

Synopsis from Hachette Australia: This is how a family keeps a secret…and how that secret ends up keeping them.

This is how a family lives happily ever after…until happily ever after becomes complicated.

This is how children change…and then change the world.

This is Claude. He’s five years old, the youngest of five brothers, and loves peanut butter sandwiches. He also loves wearing a dress, and dreams of being a princess. When he grows up, Claude says he wants to be a girl.

Rosie and Penn want Claude to be whoever Claude wants to be. They’re just not sure they’re ready to share that with the world. Soon the entire family is keeping Claude’s secret. Until one day it explodes.

Happy reading! 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

One Day In December by Josie Silver - Book Review

If you feel like reading a good love story, One Day in December by Josie Silver will hit the spot. 

It’s sweet and endearing and, while a little corny at times, I couldn’t put it down. 

A great holiday read that’s reminiscent of Jojo Moyes and One Day by David Nicholls with a little bit of Love Actually and Notting Hill.

Synopsis from Penguin Books Australia: Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist. After all, life isn't a scene from the movies, is it?

But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there's a moment of pure magic...and then her bus drives away.

Laurie thinks she'll never see the boy from the bus again. But at their Christmas party a year later, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.

Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?

Happy reading!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton - Book Review

Boy Swallows Universe is an ode to 1980s suburban Australia and a coming of age story told through the eyes of a teenage boy.

Some are touting this book, published by Harper Collins Australia, as the best Australian fiction in years.

The story will at once be familiar to anyone who grew up in the 80s with references to such delights as mullet haircuts, stubbie shorts, Dunlop volleys, Malvern Star bicycles, Pasito soft drink and Atari video games.

It also has a dark underbelly, set against the backdrop of drugs, violence and crime.

Main character and narrator Eli Bell has drug-addict-turned-drug-dealer parents, a convicted murderer for a babysitter and comes into regular contact with a cast of druglords.

Author Trent Dalton explores the intersection between good and bad – at what point does a person decide to be bad instead of good?

After reading this book I was intrigued to learn it is semi-autobiographical, loosely based on the author’s own family relationships and parental influences but with an imagined plot.

You might like this book if you enjoyed Puberty Blues, Jasper Jones, anything by Tim Winton and the recent slew of 80s Australian biopics such as Hoges.

Happy reading! 

Monday, September 17, 2018

Normal People by Sally Rooney - Book Review

Normal People by Sally Rooney will be one of this year's best loved books. It's on the Man Booker Longlist for 2018 and is my favourite of the eight contenders I have read so far.

Normal People is a coming of age story about Marianne and Connell who can't quite seem to get it together. Sally Rooney recreates the angst, insecurities and social dilemmas of young adulthood - remember those days? (If you don't this book will bring them rushing back.)

Normal People reminds me of One Day by David Nicholls with a dash of Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep and Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons mixed in.

Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton - Book Review

I didn’t realise how much I would enjoy The Shepherd's Hut by Tim Winton. I thought it might play out slowly but it was a surprisingly exciting read.

Teenager Jaxie Clackton has been dealt a tough hand in life and unexpected events see him venture into the Australian bush. He’s pretty rough around the edges but endears himself to the reader as his strength and depth of character are revealed.

There is a certain quality shared by good Australian fiction that brings the natural environment to life in a way that engages all of the senses. I place this alongside my other favourite Winton reads, Dirt Music and Breath.

P.S. It’s been a long time between book recommendations but I’m back! Thanks for staying with me all this time, I hope you’ll stick around. You can also find me on Instagram here and Facebook here.

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Thank you for being part of The Reading Experiment. Happy reading!