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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Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

Before We Were Yours tells the story of two families, two generations. Present day we have Avery, a girl who has it all: the loving fiancé, a great career and a prominent and loving family, who she has returned home to in the wake of a health crisis of her father’s. Late 1930’s we have Rill Foss, a young girl living with her siblings and parents on a river boat. Happy and carefree everything changes when she and her siblings are ripped form their home and packed off to a group house. Can Rill keep her family together? How does this tie in with Avery? This historical fiction gives insight into stolen children and illegal adoptions.

 

One things I really enjoyed about this novel was how it grabbed my attention from the beginning. The format of the book switching narrators and time periods kept an air of mystery that kept me wanting more, wanting to know how it fit together. Incredibly fast-paced with strong writing I was captivated. Some aspects of the storyline were a tad predictable, but not necessarily in a bad way, I was just able to predict where certain aspects would lead. I enjoyed Avery’s voice in the present, desperate to understand her family’s involvement with a mysterious figure at a nursing home.

 

Rill and the story form the past was captivating, harrowing and touching. The characters were loveable and vivid and all you wanted was for them to get their happy ending. It was heart-breaking to realise that despite the characters being fictional, the experiences were realistic and not far-removed from the truth of those group homes. Wingate provides some background information and reading at the end for the interested in the historical aspect. I though the ending was realistic and not too sentimental. Quite fitting for the story as the reader comes to discover.

 

I would recommend this one for lovers of historical fiction, especially those that enjoy something realistic and historically accurate. This was a fast-paced and beautiful read, one I thoroughly enjoyed. I give Before We Were Yours four dragonflies, for each of the sisters.

 

 

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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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A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls was an exquisite middle-grade novel as compelling to children as to adults. The monster arrives at 12:07 but he isn’t nearly as scary as the nightmare Conor has each night. The monster has three tales to tell him before he must tell his own. The reader follows along Conor’s tale of grief and invisibility and growing up.

 

I absolutely fell in love with this book from the very beginning and could not put it down. In fact I read it in less than two hours in a single sitting. If you are going to read this I do highly recommend sourcing the illustrated copy – pictures will not do this stunning copy justice. The result is such a visually pleasing and immersive experience with the illustrations setting the tone of the novel.

 

This is one book well worth the hype surrounding it. Ness is an absolute wizard weaving a tale of growing up, grief, good and bad and all the complexities in between. I loved the fantastical fable element to the novel and found it fit the moral of the story perfectly. I sobbed my heart out reading this one and think it is a must read for anyone. I highly recommend seeing what all the fuss is about. It is a book I’m still thinking about several days later and a book I know I will pick up again and again. Five stars to this memorable novel. Please read.

 

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Barking Dogs – Rebekah Clarkson

I couldn’t help myself with this collection of inter-related short stories set in local Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills. These stories are full of Adelaide-isms so definitely one to read if you have lived in Adelaide or the surrounding hills at some point in your life. These short stories tell the struggle of a once rural town in the midst of it’s shift to a thriving suburbia and the invasion of shoe-box subdivisions.

 

I really enjoyed the eclectic mix of characters. In Barking Dogs we get all ages, genders and walks of life. Some characters are all too likeable, some not so much. I really enjoyed trying to pieces together all the connections and little mysteries contained within the threads of the stories. Barking Dogs is an honest representation of real life – the ups and the downs, the tragedies and struggles and of course the simple pleasures.

 

There is a great little twist at the end of the collection, something that ties it all together. This was a collection of stories that I could pick up again and again and glean something new from it each time. An enjoyable, fun little treasure of everyday suburban life and one I recommend to try even if you haven’t read short stories before, a new adventure worth trying. I give Barking Dogs four suburban houses.

 

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This year’s bookstack..

I was compelled this week by Belletrist‘s call to show us your bookstack. The idea took my fancy as I wanted to visualise just how much I had read this year. I was pretty impressed to see just what my pile looked like. Not a comprehensive stack but one containing the vast majority of my reads this year and most certainly my most enjoyed.
This year I did things differently. I didn’t set my reading goal for the year high, in fact I purposely underestimated myself. Instead of pushing myself to read more I wanted to dial it back and read for pleasure, when I wanted on my own terms, and to instead broaden my horizons. To read widely. I have attended my local writer’s week and read a huge range of books from authors that attended. I have taken personal recommendations from book sellers and local authors. I have delved into the world of non-fiction and not looked back. I have read around the world. I have read authors from my own backyard extensively. I have reread favourites and curled up with guilty pleasures. 
I am proud to display the books that have shaped my year. I am also proud that the ones not displayed, ones that were not really for me have been re-released into the world to be someone elses treasure. What does your stack look like? What do you like about it? 

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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