Monday, 11 December 2017

Forgotten Places by Johanna Craven

I've read a book by this author a few months back and thought it was excellent. So no hesitation to pick up this historical fiction novel. The history plays a bit of a supporting role as it is more about the two main characters in this story. But it was a surprising and good story. 5 stars.



This book is set in the 1830’s and inspired by a true story. An escaped convict hides out in the Van Diemen’s land bush (now Tasmania) after 11 years of hiding he has forgotten how to speak. Then into his silent world stumbles a young woman with a little girl in tow.
This was a great book that would also work as a stage play as most of the action is between the two main characters Grace Ashwell and Alexander Dalton. It feels quite claustrophobic as the two are enclosed by the unforgiving forest. She is not sure if she can trust him but needs him to survive. He is bewildered by having suddenly another human being around and isn’t sure what to do. He is also haunted by the ghosts of his dead comrades that escaped with him. Bit by bit it is revealed what happened to them both.
I was very surprised by this book as it didn’t go in the direction I thought it would and the second part was a real treat as the plot turned and twisted. Recommended if you like historical fiction or thrillers and ghost stories, there is plenty of story here to please a broad readership.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Dance of Chaos (Fiona MacDougall Book 1) by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

I recently reviewed a short story by this author. She contacted me and offered me a free copy of a full length novel. I told her I liked comedy and cats and waited for her recommendation as she has published a few novels. I loved this book, it ticked all the right boxes for me. Very funny, a cat that gets up to all sorts and no mushy romance. A healthy dose of swearing and poking fun at the clergy might offend some people (and the South-Africans might take a sharp intake of air!) but it is all good fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 5 stars.



I loved this comedy and laughed out loud a good few times. Fiona is 20 year old who still lives with her parents, brother Patrick and cat, and we get her somewhat deluded view of the world.  She is stuck in a dreary office but thinks her career will become more exiting by becoming a computer programmer. At home things are made difficult by her teenage brother, (who’s raging hormones cause all sorts of havoc) a mother who is phobic about cleanliness and a cat that likes to misbehave at the most inopportune moments.  What I loved about the book is the more than realistic and at times unlikable characters. Who doesn’t have an annoying little brother who pesters us into stupid schemes?  Or a blustering boss who doesn’t recognise our skills or merit in the work place? The interaction between Fiona her family felt familiar, and was written with great wit and warmth. Even though they can drive you crazy, you can’t help but love your family. I think you will love this book if you enjoyed reading Bridget Jones and watching series like The Office. But this book has a unique and Australian edge to it and is very funny. I look forwards to reading the follow up.

Monday, 4 December 2017

In our Memories by Mark Morey

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 is largely forgotten by the world. I've worked with a number of people that are of Armenian descent so I was aware of some of their history. But this book tells the whole story and now I know why so many of them ended up in France. (probably the most famous of them Charles Aznavour, the singer of Armenian descent.) I gave this 4 stars as I wasn't blown away by the writing. I recommend it anyway because of the research and comprehensiveness. Everyone should know about this part of history.



I choose this book as I love reading historical fiction and non-fiction. This was certainly a story that needed to be told. I was aware of the Armenian genocide, but not quite how brutal the Turks were in driving the Armenians out of Anatolia. Mark Morey tells this harrowing story through Anoushka Hagopian and her family.
The book is written in 3 parts. Part one is about the events leading up to the persecution of the Armenians and Anouska’s very harrowing forced march to the de facto concentration camp. I liked that the writer explained the political climate and named the politicians involved, it puts the story in context. Part 2 is more about Karine, Anoushka’s daughter and how they are coping and acting after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The last part is told from the point of view of the Armenian assassins who go after the 3 Pashas responsible for the genocide. It was a comprehensive and well researched book but I found the language a bit dry and somewhat repetitive at times. I would recommend it if you want to know more about this dark part of history.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

The Troubleshooter: New Haven Blues by Bard Constantine

I'm a sucker for a freebie and I'm so glad to have picked this one up when it was free. I'm a big fan of the film noir like the Maltese falcon and books by Raymond Chandler who wrote the Big Sleep amongst others. This writer has managed to capture that spirit, but has set it in a post apocalyptic world. The dialogue is sharp and very funny. I couldn't put this book down and it gets a deserved 5 star. I think you will see a few more Bard Constantine books coming past this blog.



I loved this book. The writer himself described it as a mix between Blade runner and Bogart and it is a pretty good description. Imagine Sam Spade being bundled in a time-machine but wakes up in a futuristic world called New Haven. He misses some of his memories and now goes by the name of Mick Trubble, but his instincts are as sharp as ever.  The dialogue and vocabulary oozes 1940 film noir and is sharp and witty. The plot was a real surprise to me (The item Mick has to retrieve had me giggling) and bit by bit we discover who Mick Trubble is and the secrets behind new haven. The action keeps coming at a furious pace but is interspersed with a good deal of humour and plot twists. This was a really entertaining read. There is a list at the back of New Haven speak, but I didn’t need it to know what the writer was on about. So listen up you cats, put on your Bogarts, get into your Wheelers and head over to Amazon. Take it from this broad who knows a thing or two about books.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Nigel's Holiday by Tabitha Ormiston-Smith

This short story I picked up because we use the same cover designer (Patti at Paradox book covers) and we both like to use cats in our stories. This was only 18 pages long but it will give you a sense of Tabitha Ormiston-Smith's writing and great sense of humour. I'm sure I'll review something else of hers soon.



This short story will speak to the writers amongst us but also to anyone who has come to a point in their career where we hit a big wall. In Nigel’s case it is the dreaded writer’s block that also triggers some problems in the bedroom. He thinks he takes the inspired decision to take a break in Roumania. Being a Gothic romance writer he reckons that a visit to Dracula’s castle will be just the thing to get all the juices flowing again. I liked this short story and flawed Nigel as its main character. He gets himself into some silly situations and I felt sorry for him while being amused at the same time. The cover attracted me in the first place and the cat is as mysterious, ehm well as all cats. We never know what they are thinking. It is a short story and it left a lot of promising avenues unexplored. (Like who is the mysterious Sophie) I think this story can go further; the characters and the writer’s wit could elaborate this into a novel.