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My blog posts tend to be sporadic, coming in clumps and then none for months. If it’s been a while since I’ve posted, don’t worry, I’m most likely working on something, and will be back sooner or later with more news to share.

In the meantime, please enjoy my older posts, I’ve reviewed some wonderful books over the last couple of years – maybe you’ll find something you’d love!

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Book Review – Beneath the Mother Tree by D M Cameron

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I really enjoyed this story.

‘Beneath the Mother Tree’ is the story of Ayla, returned back to her island home after a year on the Australian mainland at University. Summer has been it’s usual, but now two newcomers have moved onto the island, Riley and his mother Marlise, a strange woman who prefers to keep to herself, and is struggling with giving her now adult son his independence.

Ayla and Riley are attracted to each other, but Ayla’s Grandfather, known as ‘Grappa’ is convinced that Riley is Far Dorocha, a dark servant of the Queen of Faery, and his mother might be the Queen herself. Raised on his grandmother’s tales from her homeland of Ireland, Grappa has no doubt that these beings exist, and does everything in his power to keep Ayla seperate and safe from these dark beings.

This is such a fascinating and unique Australian story.

 

Book Review – Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

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Maud has dementia. She’s forgetful and confused, her thoughts slipping between the present and the past, and sometimes – often – mixing up the two.

In order to remember, Maud writes herself notes, and her notes tell her that Elizabeth is not answering her phone, and is never home when Maud visits, and through the story we get the exasperated conversations with Elizabeth’s son, who refuses to tell Maud anything. She’s convinced he is involved, desperate to get his hands on his inheritance.

This disappearance triggers memories of Sukey, Maud’s sister, who disappeared without a trace 70 years earlier.

I loved this story! ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ is Emma Healey’s first novel, and is so skillfully done –¬†Maud is the protagonist, and the story is told in first person, so her life and experience of the world unfolds before us in all it’s confusion, and yet the story is so well written that the reader is never (or rarely) confused, and the synchronicity of events that leads to both mysterious disappearances being solved doesn’t feel contrived. Highly recommended!

 

 

Book Review – Catching Teller Crow by Ambelimn Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

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There is so much to love about this story, and if I may be a bit geeky, the title is one of those things. It’s so clever, because while the title as a whole makes sense, each word in the title is also the name of a character.

Beth Teller is the first character we meet. She’s a ghost. She was killed in a car accident, and is hanging around because she doesn’t want to leave her father alone (her mother died when she was a baby). Her father is the only person who can see and hear her.

Beth’s father is a police officer, and together they are visiting a small town. A children’s home has burnt down and while all the children escaped, there is a dead body inside the building. It seems like a case of faulty wiring and bad luck, but as they delve deeper they find there is far more to the case than first meets the eye.

Isobel Catching is the other main character in this story. She was found wandering the river after the fire, and is considered to be a witness. Beth and her father try talking to Isobel, who tells them a strange strange story, about almost dying, and crossing into another world and having all her colours stolen.

Crow is a girl who Isobel meets in this other world, and who helps Isobel escape back into this world.

But there is far more to this story than meets the eye, and when everything clicks into place you realise exactly all the awful things that have been happening to Isobel, and exactly how it fits in to the fire in the children’s home, and the dead body inside.

On the surface, this is a crime/mystery, but underneath it is so much more. This is a story about stories, and how telling those stories, how being heard, can strengthen a person, and help in the healing process.

 

 

 

Review – Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

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I have to thank one of the wonderful women in my local writers group for recommending this brilliant story!

Rivers of London follows probationary constable Peter Grant, who learns one night that he can see ghosts, when he tries to take a witness statement from one…

What follows is a brilliant story of the supernatural side of London.

There is a murderer on the loose, a spirit, able to infect people and set off a train of events that results in someone being violently murdered, while the person who carried out the murder completely unaware of exactly why they snapped and killed someone.

Meanwhile, Father Thames, and Mother Thames, both personifications of the great river that runs through the city, are having a disagreement, and their many children – all the smaller rivers and brooks and streams that run into the Thames, are involved.

Peter not only learns that magic is real, he learns how to wield it, his experiments (when he uses magic, his phone is destroyed, and he’s curious enough to try and figure out why) leading him to successfully summon a spirit with five calculators at the points of a pentagram, and a glow-stick instead of a candle.

Rivers of London is witty, and well written, a brilliant story line.

Book Review – The Vanishing Witch by Karen Maitland

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Set in the 1300’s in England, this is a story of witchcraft.

It’s filled with a cast of characters: there’s a wool merchant, his wife, two sons, and their two servants. There’s a wealthy widow and her adult son and young daughter, and their servant. There’s a boatman and his wife and children. And there’s a ghost, and his pet ferret, popping in to the story here and there to give his opinion of events.

When the wool merchant’s wife falls sick, it’s the widow who steps in to nurse her. Though the servant suspects foul play, everyone else has only praise for the selflessness of the widow. No one bats an eyelid when, only a few short weeks later, the wool merchant announces he is to marry the widow. Only the merchant’s sons speak up about it, and when the oldest one turns up dead shortly thereafter it’s believed he’s been murdered by theives who’ve been stealing from the family business.

But the household’s ill luck doesn’t stop there. When the servant declares her suspicions of the new mistress of the house, she’s declared and mad and sent to live with the nuns who torture her with terrible ‘remedies’ supposed to cure madness – like a bath of ice, for example.

One thing after another goes wrong, and all the while it’s a mystery as to who is actually at fault – is it the widow, what about her daughter, who seems to know a little too well how to curse those who irritate her? And when it comes out that the widow’s servant is actually her mother… well, what was the purpose of that deception?

 

Book Review – Just One Word, Just One Smile by Tony Caplice

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This is a bit different to my usual read. I don’t usually read memoir, but I’ve heard Tony talk about his book a couple of times now, and he read a section of his book out at the Little Laneway Festival, in November last year, and I had to read more.

The story is heartbreaking. Tony and his wife Sue are travelling through South America when Sue suffers from a brain aneurysm while they’re in Bolivia. Bolivia is a poor country, and so of course it’s hospitals are not equipped as well as the hospitals Tony is used to, here in Australia.

Even when Tony manages to break through the language barriers and make it understood that his wife needs a hospital, it takes time to get her there, and as the weeks drag on it’s uncertain whether she will ever leave.

From the start, Tony’s writing propels the reader back to that terrifying moment when his wife has a seizure in the bed beside him, and carries the reader back and forward through his and Sue’s history, and the painfully long 14 weeks before Sue can finally come home, now suffering from a condition very much like dementia, putting Tony in a new role of carer.

Extremely well written, I highly recommend this story.

 

 

Book Review: The River Wife by Heather Rose

 

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This story has been on my ‘To Read’ list for such a long time, and I’m so glad I finally got to read it.

It’s a beautiful love story/folk tale of a River Wife – fish by night, human by day – her human father, and the human man she falls in love with.

The River Wife has no name: “I have found in the naming of things, something happens,” she tells the human, Wilson James.

“There are times now in the forest when a flower appears, berries grow, a certain fungus blooms, and if I name it I can pass it by as if I have seen it already. I do not want to pass it by… The bark of each tree has a pattern that is unique, a constellation of small creatures and plants which grow there and make it home, and it may have a neighbour which stands also in bark of a similar cloth, but it is not the same because its name is the same.”

The River Wives have always lived in this river, and this particular River Wife has been here for many many years Рso many years that her human father  has turned into a tree so that he will always be nearby.

“My father once said that any story of a place was a story of sadness, because everything changed. So a story of belonging would always be a story of losing.”

She’s warned against humans by her father, and she does try to resist the lure of Wilson James for a while, but she’s curious, too. He shouldn’t be able to see her, for she exists across a veil that humans cannot cross, but he can. How?

In the end her curiosity proves the better of her, and she succumbs to meeting him, and ever so gradually reveals the truth about herself.

But then something happens to Wilson James, and the River Wife has to make a dangerous journey to find the oldest ones and see if they can save him.

 

“‘What do hearts get mended with? ‘

‘Sunshine, kindness, the touch of your child’s hand in yours, spring rain, the green wings of dragonflies, rainbow scales, the webs of spiders, the voice of a woman who loves you.'”