Emma – Jane Austen

The next classic on my pile to tackle is Emma, which I was excited to get into and it had nothing to do with the movie Clueless (jks). Emma is smart, rich and beautiful women. Independent in the limited way women could be back in those times but happily living it up single. Even happier when she could try her hand at matchmaking, with her new friend Harriet her next target. Despite the warnings of her brother-in-law Mr Knightley Emma persists in her plans to disastrous consequences leading to more than a little self-reflection.


In the Jane Austen way it took me a long time to get into Emma, to get my head into the language and times and keep all the characters straight. Much longer than it took with Pride and Prejudice, a firm favourite of mine. I do have to say this novel did not capture my heart in the same way that Pride and Prejudice did. Some of the blame possibly lays in the fact I spent the entire time comparing Emma to Clueless (another favourite) and, therefore, was able to anticipate all of the novel’s twists and turns.


I found most of the characters to be frivolous or irritating and not in an endearing way either. Mr Knightly was abut the only character I truly cared for and to be honest, Emma was just not as likeable as Cher. I found Mr Woodhouse incredibly tedious, Miss Bates was potentially one of the most irritating characters I have ever encountered. I would tune out every time she spoke. Mr and Mrs Elton were insufferable and Frank Churchill selfish and indulgent. The lack go attachment to the characters inhibited my ability to completely fall in love with the novel.


That being said, I still found it very much worth the read and look forward to continuing my plan to read all of Austen’s novels. I give Emma three stars but in all honesty, I’m off to rewatch Clueless.


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The Bright Hour – Nina Riggs

I have a morbid love for memoirs written by people with the knowledge of their own impending mortality. There is something raw and honest and beautiful in their words. What they deem memorable and worthy of being immortalised in print forever. The Bright Hour is another such read to add to the list. Nina Riggs has been watching her mother slowly succumb to cancer when she herself if diagnosed with breast cancer. At first optimistic, it then becomes terminal leaving Nina limited time with her husband and two young sons.


Nina’s story has a unique insight into first losing a parent to the horrible disease that is cancer, with the knowledge that you yourself are heading along the same path. A truly heart-breaking experience that is unimaginable. What I learnt from The Bright Hour was that Nina had a wicked sense of humour and would have been a bundle of fun. I love that she keeps her humour and optimism until the end but rather enjoyed the black twist  of her thoughts and found myself laughing out loud as i was reading along.


I did quite connect with this one as much as similar memoirs in the past but gained so much from her perspectives. The Bright Hour was a compelling and touching read that I would highly recommend picking up, which I give three stars. I also look forward to the release of another memoir published posthumously for author Georgia Blain, author of Between a Wolf and a Dog to be released in the near future.


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Every Last Lie – Mary Kubica

Clara Solberg has a great life and a beautiful family when it all comes crashing down. Her husband has a car accident with her daughter in the car which is deemed an accident due to speeding. While Maisie is left unharmed, Nick is killed by the impact. Left widowed with a newborn and Maisie, Clara is just trying to survive. Then Maisie starts having night terrors, tormented by a bad man chasing her and daddy, Clara begins to wonder if it really was just an accident or was there more to it?


Every Last Lie is a fast-paced thriller from acclaimed author Mary Kubica. Having never read her work before I found myself caught up in the story form the very beginning. I always enjoy a book that makes use of multiple perspectives and Nick and Clara’s narration in this novel worked perfectly. There were many twists and turns in this one, leading the reader down several paths. Just when you think you know something, everything changes again and you are left wondering what happened all over again.  The characters and their dynamics in this one as fascinating and will keep the readers interest. A thriller than will keep you guessing up until the very end and one I would recommend giving a go. I give Every Last Lie three black cars, the key to this mystery.




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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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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 Way Back – Kylie Ladd

The Way Back is what I could describe a psychological drama. Thirteen year old Charlie is your typical teenage girl trying to navigate the perils of high school, frenemies and boys, and spends every spare moment with Tic Tac, her pony. Everything changes when one day Charlie doesn’t return from her ride. In fact there is no trace Charlie anywhere. Four month later and Charlie is found filthy, unkept and undernourished. What happened to her? Is it just as simple as returning home? Can you really just go back?


I enjoyed the format of this novel, set in three parts: before, during and after. Simple, ordered, anything but the story within. This novel looks at the holistic impact on a family in a time of crisis. From Charlie suffering her ordeal, to her parents both dealing in their own ways struggling to connect with each other, to her brother struggling even before his sister goes missing. Ladd gives a good representation of trauma and how it manifests in different people, an important factor and one that would make me recommend this to someone trying to understand the role trauma plays. Personally I found it a tad to clinical at times for my taste. I do prefer a little more depth and flair to my writing, although, with such an intense story I can see how a simplistic writing style would appeal to many.


The pace was fast and engaging with the reader needing to know how Charlie escapes, how she even begins to recover. It certainly did not take me long to finish it. This may not have been my style of book overall but I do recommend it to those who are interesting in an accurate depiction of psychological trauma and how it attests not just the victim, but many more. I give The Way Back three stars.


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