Give Me The Child – Mel McGrath

Give Me The Child is a fast-paced psychological thriller that was recently released. Dr Cat Lupo has always wanted a second child despite the psychosis she fell into while pregnant with her daughter. Her wishes are answered when Ruby Winter turns up on her doorstep and becomes a part of her family. As some disturbing incidents begin to occur Cat starts to worry that Ruby is not all she seems and may be putting her daughter at risk. Things start spiral out control quickly, can Cat and her family make it through unharmed?

 

This was a fast-paced read taking me little more than a day to complete. I do have to say I preferred the second-half of the novel to the first. I found events spiralled out of control a little too quickly for my preference. I also found the protagonist to be quite foolish and, therefore, quite frustrating making it a little difficult to feel adequate sympathy for her. In fact I found myself hoping she was an unreliable narrator as the twist. At times I found aspects of this novel a little unrealistic. The other characters were quite fascinating and I enjoyed learning more about each of them as they were slowly revealed across the pages.

 

There were some great twists and turns keeping the reader guessing throughout the story. The psychological side of this novel as fascinating and I can see how it would appeal to many to try understand the phenomenon that is “evil children” and how they work. I didn’t want to put this one down once I started and I found it an easy and enjoyable read. Definitely one for fans of psychological thrillers. I give Give Me The Child three stars.

 

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Touch – Courtney Maum

This was the first book in ages that I loved so much I stayed up late reading it because I had to finish it. I really was not expecting to become so captivated. First read of the synopsis makes Touch sound like a fluffy contemporary. We have our female protagonist, Sloane, who works as a trendsetter, has an integral famous boyfriend who you immediately suspect is a bit of a dick. What you actually get us so much more.

 

This is the kind of novel that leaves the reader much to contemplate long after they have finished reading the pages. Richard Flanagan in The Narrow Road to the Deep North states “A good book leaves you wanting to reread the book. A great book compels you to reread your own soul”. The perfect quote to describe this read. Touch deals with the increasing prominence of technology in our lives and the effect it has on intimacy and relationships. Are we destined to sail solo off into the future run by technology eliminating any need to human contact? This novel made me realise the importance of switching off and revelling in human contact, even the simple pleasure of a hug, a touch.

 

The characters in this novel are great. Sloane is a fun protagonist and you quickly fall for the side characters. The writing is immersive. The pacing is spot on, I hit a point of no return early on a read the bulk of this book in one sitting and in fact finished it in one day. I highly recommend picking this novel up ASAP. A touching satire in today’s society. Oh, and go out, leave your phone at home and giving someone a hug. Particular someone who lives alone, who misses the simple act of human touch. I give Touch five stars. Please read.

 

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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami

My love affair with Murakami continues with The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle chosen because I came across it in a second-hand book store. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle tells the story of Toru Okada. He has lost his cat, his wife is acting strange and he starts receiving absurd, explicit phone calls. This is Murakami at his weirdest and wildest.

 

I do have to admit this was not my favourite Murakami read. I found it a little too long and meandering. After finishing it I was left feeling like I lost the meaning of the story. I did enjoy many aspects of this novel. The characters were fascinating, they all had such potential and yet they would appear, play their role and disappear, never to be seen again. I loved all the side stories. I found them vivid and engaging and just wanted more.

 

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is full of your typical Murakami quirks. Cats, cooking, awkward sexual dreams, it is all there. I really do wish I could have loved it but ultimately I was left feeling like I missed the point (very likely). This hasn’t, however, dampened my enthusiasm for Murakami so it is on to the next one, which will be Norwegian Wood, already on my out of control pile. I give The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle three wind-up birds.

 

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And Fire Came Down – Emma Viskic

And Fire Came Down is another in the slew of Aussie crime fiction at the moment – something I do not have a problem with. The second novel following Caleb Zelic, Caleb is recovering after his best friend was murdered, his wife tortured and now separated from him, he is constantly haunted by his past. When a mysterious young woman turns up at his house looking for him and ends up dead in the street Caleb finds himself investigating and being lead back to his home town, Resurrection Bay.

 

This was a good, fast-paced read, in fact I finished it in less than 24 hours. I enjoyed the diversity in this novel. Caleb, our protagonist deaf and he is constantly dealing with trying to understand all the mumblers and fast-talkers of the world. The local Indigenous community is an important part of the novel which I also applaud. Even though this novel stand on it’s own I do wish I had read the first novel, Resurrection Bay, before I started this one, if only to understand a little better his mind set and struggles as a result of his prior experiences.

 

The writing was simple, easy to read and efficient. I found myself gliding through the pages easily. The plot, however, was a little too intricate and messy. At times it was a little difficult to follow and try to understand. That being sad, it made it impossible to predict the twists and turns. Overall, it was good fun crime fiction and one I would suggest to those that enjoy the genre. I give And Fire Came Down three stars.

 

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The Dry – Jane Harper

After hearing so much about this award-winning crime fiction I had to find out what the fuss was for myself. The Dry sees Aaron Falk, Federal Policeman return to his hometown, Kiewarra, for the funeral of his childhood best friend, his wife and young child. It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years and the farming community are doing it tough in this devastating drought – but would that drive a man to murder his family and then turn the gun on himself in desperation? Falk finds himself drawn into the investigation all the while searching for his own answers. Answers to explain why he was driven out of town twenty years earlier.

 

Firstly, let me say this book has a great opening. The prologue had me hooked from the beginning with the simple, yet evocative writing. The plot was fascinating, a unique twist on the old small town secrets trope. I found the storyline interesting with the two intertwined mysteries, both unsolved, perhaps connected. In fact I was curious to see how Harper would come to a conclusion that did not seem far-fetched but she more than delivered.

 

The characters were good – not too stereotypical for your typical small town story but incredibly believable. As a child growing up in Australia I was a huge fan of classic Aussie TV show Blue Heelers (I mean, who wasn’t?) and I was delighted to discover that one of the characters had the last name as an actor from the show. Whether this was by chance or planned (I’m betting on planned as even the physical description matches) I loved the little connection and found myself thinking of the character fondly. The tone and descriptive writing was a highlight of the novel, placing the reader right there in the drought with the characters. The writing is really what makes this such a memorable crime novel.

 

I have already discovered that Harper has thr second Falks novel, Force of Nature, due for release very soon that sounds just as interesting. This was a great crime thriller that was believable and realistic, a bit more of a slower-burn than most thrillers but oh so rich and evocative. Definitely worth a read in my books, I give The Dry four drops of rain – poor Kiewarra needs it.

 

 

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Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi

Homegoing is the story of two half-sisters, Effie and Esi from similar backgrounds, living in Africa on the Gold Coast, who go on to live very different lives. One marries a slave trader and the other is sold into slavery. The novel follows Effie and Esi and their offspring into the many generations to come. The story spans decades and continents from Africa to America.

 

This has been all over my bookstagram and just couldn’t stop myself from picking it up. I really enjoyed the premise of the book, almost like a collection inter-related short stories. I found myself connection with each character, some more than others of course, but I felt each had sufficient time to tell their story, play their role. I know many readers wished to know more from some of the characters, there were definitely some I could have read an entire novel on, but I felt that Gyasi wove an intricate story in relatively short space of time and I certainly was not disappointed.

 

Ever since picking up The Power of One I have always had a fascination with African culture. The collective spirit, the superstitions, so unique and vivid and Homegoing left me wanting more. The early slaving stories broke my heart. The too say downfall of the Africans at the hands of the white invaders echoes Australia’s native history. Small tribes waring with each other – even selling each other off – made it all too easy to divide and conquer.

 

Overall this novel was simple and beautiful. I did not want to put it down and found myself racing through it. The ending holds a beautiful symmetry, yet, is not too sentimental with Gyasi showing restraint that left me wanting more. I give Homegoing four stars, well worth a read in my humble opinion.

 

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The Power – Naomi Alderman

I have heard so many mixed reviews of this award-winning novel that I had to find out for myself what all the fuss was about. The Power tells of the future where a ground-breaking power shift has appeared. Women all over the world are discovering they have tremendous power. Power to hurt and even kill. The Day of the Girls has come but how will it change the world? The novel is told through the eyes of several narrators: an American politician moving up in the ranks, a mixed-race girl living in terror of her religious foster parents, a Nigerian boy witnessing the power shift and a young English woman with a gangster for a father. Spanning ten years we see how this power shapes the structure of the world.

 

This is an ambitious novel with the best concept. It is worth reading just for this reason and if only to make up your own mind about it. Alderman hit the nail on the head in the gender role reversal,so many lines throughout are all too common for women in this day and age but when related to men sound audacious and terrifying. In fact, I would love to know a males response to reading this novel. There were reviews I read that thought Alderman’s descriptions within the book about consequences in places like Saudi Arabia were far-fetched but to those people I say – think again. Nazi Germany, religious fanaticism, terrorist and riots. We are more than capable of destroying social order in the right conditions and setting our worlds on fire. This a great novel for food for thought and an excellent bookclub pick – the conversations it will generate will be fascinating.

 

I do understand other people’s mixed reactions to this novel. Despite everything I have said it was still missing an element that made me 100% fall in love with it and take it to the next level. Some people did not enjoy all the different points of view and in a way this novel is a tad clinical and you don’t fully connect with the emotions of the narrators but I think this works for the story that is being told. I found each character did bring something to the table and provide a unique perspective in this new world. The character, however, develop differently to most other novels. They all start out likeable and at first you are rooting for them and the road they are taking but not all of them end up that way. We learn how power corrupts regardless of age/gender/background.

 

At first I was unsure of the format of the novel, presented as a research narrative that began and ended with emails between Alderman and the “author” of the novel Neil until I read the last line. Perfection. The best last line I have probably ever read – perfectly demonstrates the whole tone of the novel. Personally I think this is a novel everyone should read – if only to make up your own mind about it and see things from a unique perspective. If you are on the fence – give it a go as it is a great concept that is relates perfectly to relevant conversations in today’s society. It complements well with both The Natural Way of Things and The Handmaid’s Tale and provides the reader much to ponder. I give The Power four bolts of electricity changing the lives of women around the world.

 

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