Reading Rewards - reviews

Macavity Awards

The Macavity Award is a literary award for mystery writers. Nominated and voted upon annually by the members of Mystery Readers International, the award is named for the "mystery cat" of T. S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. The award is given in four categories - best novel, best first novel, best nonfiction, and best short story.
Drum roll please ...

Best Mystery Novel: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Best First Mystery Novel: A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames 

Best Mystery-Related Non-Fiction: The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower

Best Mystery Short Story: The Care and Feeding of Houseplants by Art Taylor (Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, March/April 2013)


The Rosie Effect

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

From the cover: ‘We’ve got something to celebrate,’ Rosie said. I am not fond of surprises, especially if they disrupt plans already in place. I assumed that she had achieved some important milestone with her thesis. Or perhaps she had been offered a place in the psychiatry-training programme. This would be extremely good news, and I estimated the probability of sex at greater than 80%. ‘We're pregnant,’ she said. In true Tillman style, Don instantly becomes an expert on all things obstetric. But in between immersing himself in a new research study on parenting and implementing the Standardised Meal System (pregnancy version), Don’s old weaknesses resurface. And while he strives to get the technicalities right, he gets the emotions all wrong, and risks losing Rosie when she needs him most.

The Rosie Effect is the highly anticipated sequel to The Rosie Project, which was an international phenomenon with more than a million copies sold in 40+ countries. Described as the most hilarious romantic comedy of 2013, it won the coveted Book of the Year award at the 2014 Australian Book Industry Awards. The Rosie Project's central character Don even had his own Twitter feed (@ProfDonTillman). I would not be surprised if author Graeme Simsion suffered a massive attack of “second novel syndrome” during the writing of this book as the pressure to produce a sequel as captivating as The Rosie Project would have been extraordinary.

Don Tillman and Rosie Jarman have married and are living in New York City. Don has been teaching while Rosie simultaneously studies at Columbia Medical School and finishes her thesis. Just as Don is about to announce that Gene, his philandering friend from Australia, is coming to stay, Rosie drops her pregnancy bombshell.

While The Rosie Effect does not have the surprising magic of the The Rosie Project, it is still an entertaining read with many screwball adventures. We now know Don and almost want to scream out to warn him when he is about to become embroiled in yet another misunderstanding. It begins with the Orange Juice Incident, escalates over lunch with the Blue-Fin Tuna Incident and gets fairly ridiculous when he recruits his plumber mate’s pregnant wife to impersonate Rosie at an important appointment. Don’s interest in and enthusiasm for becoming a parent is heart-warming and hilarious but Rosie’s attitude and interactions become irritating.

Definitely worth a read for Don Tillman fans.

Sandra E

Alex Through the Looking Glass

Alex Through the Looking-glass: how life reflects numbers and numbers reflect life by Alex Bellos

Bestselling author Alex Bellos takes you on a journey of mathematical discovery with his signature wit, engaging stories and limitless enthusiasm. 

As he narrates a series of eye-opening encounters with lively personalities all over the world, Alex demonstrates how numbers have come to be our friends, are fascinating and extremely accessible, and how they have changed our world. 

He sifts through over 30,000 survey submissions to reveal the world's favourite number. In Germany, he meets the engineer who designed the first roller-coaster loop, while in India he joins the world's highly numerate community at the International Congress of Mathematicians. He explores the wonders behind the Game of Life program, and explains mathematical logic, growth and negative numbers. Stateside, he hangs out with a private detective in Oregon and meets the mathematician who looks for universes from his garage in Illinois. 

Alex will get you hooked on maths as he delves deep into humankind's turbulent relationship with numbers, and proves just how much fun we can have with them.

This is an enjoyable trip through the world of numbers, describing how maths underpins our lives in so many ways.  He is enthusiastic making this book very easy to read and full of interest. There is a great deal of information about how we use numbers and what they mean to us, including the world's favourite number [7 of course] but there are also explanations of why we like one number more than another.  The book discusses fractals, trig baggers, genetics and triangles along with a myriad of other topics.  

The Man Who Disappeared

The Man Who Disappeared by Clare Morrall

What would you do if, out of the blue, your reliable husband disappears? Then you are told he has been involved in money-laundering. Surely the man you know intimately couldn't be a criminal... could he? When Felix Kendall vanishes, his wife Kate is left in turmoil. As she and their children adjust to a hand-to-mouth existence, she looks back on her marriage and Felix's orphaned upbringing in search of clues, confronting the possibility that she has badly misread him. And as Kate gradually discovers strengths she never knew she had, many miles away Felix is coming to terms with just what he has done and lost. This compelling story of deception and self-deception, compromise and second chances questions how far we can know even those closest to us as it probes beneath society's veneer - in times of adversity, friends fall away and the most unexpected people step forward. 

Clare Morrall’s first novel, Astonishing Splashes of Colour, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. She has since published: Natural Flights of the Human Mind, The Language of Others, The Roundabout Man and After the Bombing. [Click here to go to the catalogue.]

Morrall’s hallmark has been strength of characterisation and this book is no different, though I doubt it’s an award winner.  I did like it though; set in Exeter in the UK, it’s totally believable that these people and this situation could happen.  From Felix’s aged great aunts to 9-year old Rory and the adults and children in between, the characters are drawn well, their personalities natural and the settings believable.  Maybe this is why this book is not a stand out – it’s too normal, too urban, which probably means the author has done a fine job in absorbing us into her world and caring about the people we found there.  I borrowed the Playaway version, which was expertly narrated by the oh-so English Julia Franklin but we have this also in hard copy, large print and CD formats.  If you enjoy books about relationships and the human condition, this would be a good one to lose yourself in. 

In the Company of Cowards

In the Company of Cowards by Michael Mori

The sorry saga of David Hicks is today perhaps just a distant memory of one of the repercussions of Presidents George Bush and John Howard’s “War on terror”, but this absorbing book by Michael Mori brings it all back. 

Michael Mori was the US Marine defence counsel assigned to provide representation to detainees held at the Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. David Hicks was his first client. This account tells of Mori’s long struggle for justice for Hicks against the monolithic US Department of Defence, and indeed, an Australian Government which refused to support the rights of an Australian citizen who was incarcerated in sub-human conditions, without charge, for 5 years. 

It is a story of Mori’s courage, persistence and eventual disillusionment with the institution he had signed up to fight for. It seems incredible that an Australian citizen was defended so steadfastly not by his own government but by someone in the employ of the government responsible for his imprisonment.

This is an amazing book which infuriates, amazes and enthralls from start to finish. 


Safe House

Safe House by Chris Ewan  

From the cover:  When Rob Hale wakes up in a hospital after a motorcycle crash, his first thought is for the gorgeous blonde, Lena, who was on the back of his bike. The doctors and police, however, insist that he was alone at the scene. The shock of the accident must have made him imagine Lena, especially since his description of her resembles his late sister, Laura. Convinced that Lena is as real as he is, Rob teams up with Rebecca Lewis, a London-based PI who has a mysterious connection to Laura - and learns that even a close-knit community like the Isle of Man can hide dangerous secrets that will not stay safe forever.

Now here’s something different… The setting – the Isle of Man; the main protagonist – a plumber who is also a motor bike rider in the famous TT [touring] races; his home base – a seniors retirement home that his parents run; an underpinning story of Eco Warriors vs a Dutch oil baron; a sadistic American with a baseball bat;  a female Private Investigator who used to work for the British Government; and Rocky the dog.  The author MUST be a dog person because Rocky is a constant in the book, and does all the typical dog things!

This story took me back to a difficult time in my life in the eighties. I was having some serious surgery done when my ex-flatmate, Australian champion motorcycle racer Kenny Blake, crashed and died in the 1981 Isle of Man TT. That may have made this book more “moody” than perhaps it otherwise is and possibly coloured my opinion.  I felt quite flat at times, picturing the track, the roads, even the island itself.  

Moving right along, although quite complex the story is well paced, even if the Manx style of speaking is quite the opposite.  I borrowed this on Playaway [we have hard print, e-Audio and CD formats] and enjoyed how deftly narrator Simon Vance handled all the different accents, both male and female - it really adds to the atmosphere when it’s done well. Quite a different book, and quite enjoyable.


Eyrie by Tim Winton

Eyrie tells the story of Tom Keely, a man who's lost his bearings in middle age and is now holed up in a flat at the top of a grim highrise, looking down on the world he's fallen out of love with. He's cut himself off, until one day he runs into some neighbours: a woman he used to know when they were kids and her introverted young boy. The encounter shakes him up in a way that he doesn't understand. Despite himself, Keely lets them in. 

What follows is a heart-stopping, groundbreaking novel for our times - funny, confronting, exhilarating and haunting, populated by unforgettable characters. It asks how, in an impossibly compromised world, we can ever hope to do the right thing.
- - -

There is something about the way Winton writes that I find mesmerising. He always creates a sense of place so strongly that it isn’t hard to see the characters, feel their emotions and ride the precarious journey with them. Every page holds something to experience and his latest novel Eyrie is no exception.

This time we see protagonist Tom Keely, a disillusioned lobbyist and spokesman for an environment agency.  He has put himself on the line only to be rejected and dismissed.  His career is gone, his personal life a shambles.  He is an idealist who has lost everything …”just another flannel-tongued Jeremiah with neither mission nor prophecy, no tribe to claim him but family.”

Although Winton takes us to dark places in the human experience, there is always wit and astonishing insights. This is a great book for individuals, book clubs and general discussion.


The House of Grief

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

On the evening of 4 September 2005, Father's Day, Robert Farquharson, a separated husband, was driving his three sons home to their mother, Cindy, when his car left the road and plunged into a dam. The boys, aged ten, seven and two, drowned. Was this an act of revenge or a tragic accident? The court case became Helen Garner's obsession. She followed it on its protracted course until the final verdict. In this utterly compelling book, Helen Garner tells the story of a man and his broken life. She presents the theatre of the courtroom with its actors and audience, all gathered for the purpose of bearing witness to the truth, players in the extraordinary and unpredictable drama of the quest for justice.

I do not normally read crime books, or courtroom dramas, but I could not resist the latest book from Helen Garner, and it did not disappoint. Garner’s writing is exquisite – soulful, probing and, above all, incredibly sad. The horrific story of Robert Farquharson, who drove himself and his three sons into a dam on Father’s Day 2005 and left them to drown in the murky water captivated most of Victoria, mostly because no one could understand such a heinous act. Yet Garner’s tale of the long five year trial, while never excusing his actions, provokes questions about blame, justice and relationships. She makes the story one not only about Robert Farquharson but about the tragedy of broken families. It is a tragic and utterly compelling book.

An Unsentimental Bloke

An Unsentimental Bloke: The Life and Work of C.J. Dennis by Philip Butterss

The Sentimental Bloke and Doreen are famous characters in Australian popular culture, but their creator deserves to be better known. C.J. Dennis transformed the larrikin from a street thug into a respectable image of Australian identity, and helped shape the Anzac legend. An Unsentimental Bloke traces Dennis's early years in rural South Australia, his work on a 
bohemian newspaper in Adelaide and move to Melbourne as a freelancer for the Bulletin, his period of political involvement, followed by enormous successes (he was more popular than Banjo Paterson or Henry Lawson ever were), spectacular fall, and re-emergence as an elder statesman of Australian letters.

The popular view of C. J. Dennis is to liken him to the Sentimental Bloke of his famous books but Butterss gives a much fuller and therefore more realistic view of Dennis's life and work. He describes his early life and his attempts to find his place in life, his struggles with alcohol and depression, marriage, politics and financial dealings.  Dennis had enormous 
success and spectacular failures and this is an interesting and well researched book. A bit of added interest for Emerald Library patrons is the author's description of the time Dennis spent at Sunnyside in Kallista and the friends who joined him. 

The Story of Before

The Story of Before by Susan Stairs

From the cover:  On New Year's Eve, eleven-year-old Ruth and her brother and sister sit at a bedroom window, watching the garden of their new Dublin home being covered in a thick blanket of snow. Ruth declares that a bad thing will happen in the coming year - she's sure of it. But she cannot see the outline of that thing - she cannot know that it will change their lives utterly, that the
shape of their future will be carved into two parts: the before and the after. Or that it will break her heart and break her family. This is Ruth's story. It is the story of before.

This debut novel was a great find! Beautifully written, it evoked many memories of childhood, particularly fighting with siblings (!). Set in the 1970s, the family has moved into a new housing estate, one the children freely roam during a long, hot summer.  Told through eleven-year-old Ruth's eyes, the arrival of baby brother Kevin is the turning point for her, along with trying to fit into the already closely formed friendship groups on the new estate.  

You can't help but pick up on the underpinning tension which increases as the family's lives begin to unravel at Hillcourt Rise.  Knowing there is worse to come keeps the pages turning, though this is far from being an action-packed novel. It is a slow progression that offers much to the reader - laughter, suspense, and heartbreaking sorrow.  An intelligent read and not one to rush through, The Story of Before is a moving and memorable first offering from this author. 

Dexter, the series


Dexter Morgan appears to be the perfect gentleman.  He leads a normal, quiet life working as a forensic officer for the Miami Police.  He has a nice, shy girlfriend and is liked by her young children.  But Dexter has a secret hobby. He’s an accomplished serial killer.  So far he’s killed dozens of people and has never been caught, because he knows exactly how to dispose of the evidence.  And there are those who would rather he wasn’t caught at all, because Dexter is a serial killer with a difference.  He only kills the city’s bad guys.  Then Dexter’s well-organised life is thrown into chaos.  Another serial killer is invading his territory - and he wants Dexter to come out and play.

Dexter Morgan is best known as the main character from the TV series “Dexter”, but he started his fictional life in Jeff Lindsay’s debut novel “Darkly Dreaming Dexter”.
I became aware of the novels at the time of the TV series first going to air in 2006.  As I found the idea of a serial killer that kills bad guys intriguing, I added them to my reading list. At that stage my list was way too long, so I didn’t take it any further than that.  Last year I finished watching the TV series, and like many viewers wasn’t thrilled with how it ended.  I finally got around to picking up the novel last month (and might admit to missing my regular dose of Dexter) and thoroughly enjoyed the read.  

Most of the book reads like Season 1 of the show, but it has a very different ending. I look forward to picking up the following books in the series.  The Dexter books are available in paperback, large print and audio book CD.  We also have all nine seasons of the TV series 
on DVD.

Charles Kingsford Smith ...

Charles Kingsford Smith and Those Magnificent Men  
By Peter FitzSimons

From the cover:  Known to millions of Australians simply as 'Smithy', Sir Charles Kingsford Smith was one of Australia's true 20th century legends. In an era in which aviators were superstars, Smithy was among the greatest and, throughout his amazing career, his fame in Australia was matched only by that of Don Bradman. Among other achievements, Smithy was the first person to fly across the Pacific, he broke the record for the fastest flight from England to Australia, and at one point he held more long-distance flying records than anyone else on the planet. If that wasn't enough, Smithy was also a war hero, receiving the Military Cross for gallantry in action after being shot - and losing three toes - during one of many flying missions during World War I. Smithy was not the lone adventurer of the skies. Early aviation drew to it a company of daredevils who all challenged gravity and fear. This comprehensive biography, written with typical flair by bestselling author Peter FitzSimons, covers the triumphs and tragedies of not only Kingsford Smith's daring and controversial life but also those of his companion aviators.

Peter FitzSimons writes with his usual savoir-faire bringing history alive again with this fascinating story of pioneering aviation.  It’s a rollicking read – a great way to absorb some amazing facts from times gone by; and as usual, the epilogue makes absorbing listening as we get to find out where life’s journey took these aviators once their names were out of the headlines.  We have this title in all formats and DVD.  Highly recommended. 

Tony & Susan

Tony & Susan   by Austin Wright

From the cover:  One day, comfortable in her home and her second marriage, Susan receives - entirely out of the blue - a parcel containing the manuscript of her ex-husband's first novel. He writes asking her to read the book; she was always his best critic, he says. 

As Susan reads, she is drawn into the fictional life of Tony Hastings, a maths professor driving his family to their summer house in Maine.  As the Hastings' ordinary, civilised lives veer disastrously, violently off course, Susan is plunged back into the past, forced to confront the darkness that inhabits her, and driven to name the fear that gnaws at her future.

First published in 1993, this forgotten novel from a little-known and now deceased US writer has received a new lease of life thanks to a UK publishing house.  Wright’s novel within a novel construction wowed the literati but provided not a lot in the way of wow for me. 

Unfortunately I found the main characters annoying – depressing, weak, neurotic and kowtowed by the banality of American suburban living. Susan’s life is one of resent; towards her current husband, a successful heart surgeon and adulterer; towards her ex-husband as his urge to write a book and never actually achieving it caused her to support both of them; and towards her own lack of life achievements. 

The manuscript, the ‘story within the story’ is a nasty, fast-paced thriller, but even the main protagonist in this, Tony, is the sort of person you sympathise with… for a while.  Then you want to thump him.

Overall, the book was a disappointing read.  There were wildly varying reviews when I first checked this out; the dual story obviously polarising readers into dual camps – the five star “so glad this was re-released” set and the ‘why did I bother’ set.  My foot is in the last camp.  Maybe yours won’t be. 

PS - We have this title in print and audio formats.  I downloaded the e-Audio version and, like the theme, it was read well by dual narrators, Lorelei King and Peter Marinker.

Lyrebird Hill

Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer
From the cover:  Ruby Cardel has the semblance of a normal life, a loving boyfriend, a fulfilling career, but in one terrible moment, her life unravels. The discovery that the death of her sister, Jamie, was not an accident makes her question all she has known about herself and her past. 
Travelling back home to Lyrebird Hill, Ruby begins to remember the year that has been forever blocked in her memory. Snatches of her childhood with beautiful Jamie, and Ruby’s only friendship with the boy from the next property, a troubled foster kid. Then Ruby uncovers a cache of ancient letters from a long-lost relative, Brenna Magavin, written from her cell in a Tasmanian gaol where she is imprisoned for murder. As she reads, Ruby discovers that her family line is littered with tragedy and violence. Slowly, the gaps in Ruby's memory come to her. And as she pieces together the shards of truth, what she finally discovers will shock her to the core, about what happened to Jamie that fateful day and how she died. I reviewed Anna Romer's first book, Thornwood House, back in March this year and was impressed with her debut novel, so I was delighted to see her latest release added to our catalogue in September. The audio version was once again narrated by the excellent Eloise Oxer, and, once again, it proved to be an absorbing read.  The dual stories of Brenna in the 1880s and Ruby in 2013 is a good foil, both stories pulling you adroitly into their time and place.  
Only two slightly annoying things: Romer's writing paints the Australian setting perfectly but one can only wax lyrical over bending grass for so long! And probably because of this, the story dragged in parts.  In general I find the whole amnesia thing annoying, it just seems to be an author's cop out I reckon,  but not so in this case, it was very well handled.  As well as being what is basically a family saga, there's a good bit of suspense to keep the pages turning, though I think putting it in the thriller genre just a tad over the top. Toss in a twist that I didn't see coming and you've got a title you should add to your own To Read list if you enjoy Australian settings and stories! Deb.  

How I Rescued My Brain

How I Rescued My Brain by David Roland

As a forensic psychologist, David Roland often saw the toughest, most heartbreaking cases. The emotional trauma had begun to take its toll - and then the global financial crisis hit, leaving his family facing financial ruin.When he found himself in an emergency ward with little idea of how he got there, doctors wondered if he had had a nervous breakdown. Eventually they discovered the truth: David had suffered a stroke, which had resulted in brain injury. 

He faced two choices: give up, or get his brain working again. Drawing on the principles of neuroplasticity, David set about re-wiring his brain. He embarked on a search that brought him into contact with doctors, neuroscientists, yoga teaches. Musicians, and a Buddhist nun, and found the tools to restore his sense of self: psychotherapy, swimming, music, mindfulness, and meditation.

This is the story of David's neurological difficulties and of his remarkable cognitive recovery. It is also an account of a journey to emotional health.

This thoughtful memoir shows that brain recovery is possible but what makes the book outstanding is David’s humility and vulnerability. He is a master at conveying sometimes complex ideas to lay people and has created a very accessible story of his life.  This book was even more interesting than I anticipated. Very highly recommended.

Before I Go to Sleep

Before I Go To Sleep  by S.J. Watson 

Each night when Christine Lucas goes to sleep her mind erases the day. Each day she wakes in a strange bed with a man she has never seen before. He explains that he is Ben, her husband, that she is forty-seven years old, and that an accident long ago damaged her memory. Each day she tries to reconstruct her life, her identity, her marriage. But how can she know who she is if she forgets her past? How can she love someone she can't remember? Are there things best forgotten? And why is she so frightened?

Memories define us. So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep? Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love — all forgotten overnight. And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.   Welcome to Christine's life.

This book is so far my top pick for this year, and again another debut author. I literally finished the last quarter of this book in one sitting, couldn't put it down, and really didn't see the twist coming at all. Fans of thrillers will love this, and I can't wait to see the film [starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman]. Hopefully it has done the book justice on the big screen. If this is an indication of this author's writing then bring on his next book!

Cross and burn

I am a fan of Tony Hill and Carol Jordan - characters from the books of Val McDermid and from the television series Wire in the Blood.  Think clinical psychologist working with the police on serious crimes.

I was devastated when in the last book, The Retribution, a horrific life-changing crime ended the relationship between them. I'm a sucker for a happy ending.

So when I realised that the next book was out - Cross and Burn - I quickly grabbed it to find out what had happened to these two and of course, to discover what mystery Val McDermid had to unfold.  So what did?

Someone is brutally killing women. Women who bear a striking resemblance to former DCI Carol Jordan. The connection is too strong to ignore and soon psychological profiler Tony Hill finds himself dangerously close to the investigation, just as the killer is closing in on his next target. This is a killer like no other, hell-bent on inflicting the most severe and grotesque punishment on his prey. As the case becomes ever-more complex and boundaries begin to blur, Tony and Carol must work together once more to try and save the victims, and themselves.

This is no quick and easy solution to the broken relationship between Tony and Carol.  The first three-quarters of the book explores the very separate journeys of the two main characters, whilst wrapped around the story of the crimes seen through the eyes of one of their team who is now working with another police unit. It is not until very late in the book that Carol and Tony even come across each other.

Val McDermid is an excellent storyteller, so even though I was wanting to see a solution with them, she wove an excellent tale around the crimes, leading you to think that you know what is going on, then discovering you don't. Coincidence wrapped in with ulterior motives makes for a riveting read and I had just had to keep turning the pages.

I guessed who the perpetrator was before the end, but was still surprised at some of the other turns the story took.  And it finished up really quickly, with all the loose ends tied up neatly in very short order.

As to whether Tony and Carol find a happy ending, you'll just have to read it to find out, but as a fan - I was satisfied.

~ Michelle

The Keeper

The Keeper by Sarah Langan 

From the cover:  Some believe Bedford, Maine, is cursed. Its bloody past, endless rain, and the decay of its downtown portend a hopeless future. With the death of its paper mill, Bedford's unemployed residents soon find themselves with far too much time to dwell on thoughts of Susan Marley. Once the local beauty, she's now the local whore. Silently prowling the muddy streets, she watches eerily from the shadows, waiting for . . . something. And haunting the sleep of everyone in town with monstrous visions of violence and horror.

Those who are able will leave Bedford before the darkness fully ascends. But those who are trapped here—from Susan Marley's long-suffering mother and younger sister to her guilt-ridden, alcoholic ex-lover to the destitute and faithless with nowhere else to go—will soon know the fullest and most terrible meaning of nightmare.

Earlier this year when I reviewed Sarah Langan’s debut novel, Audrey’s Door, it was Friday the 13th.   Now as we’re nearing Halloween, I’ve inadvertently picked up The Keeper, which is book one of a new horror suspense series by the same author.  

I’m undecided about this one.  On one hand it was very good, with some clever tricks of the trade employed to keep us a little off kilter, like the continual rainfall.  This is depressing and makes us feel trapped, hemmed in, knowing the streets will flood, cut the bridge, and no-one can get in or out.

Langan also employs onomatopoeia to great effect, with the constant undercurrent of ‘buzzing’, the ‘drip drip drip’ of water and the ‘slap slap’ of wet, heavy feet; something she used brilliantly in Audrey’s Door.  But there are some annoying things too, like what is in the woods that comes after Liz [can’t say here for fear of spoiling, but it has absolutely nothing to do with anything and never appears again!] and the pace of the book lurching between slow building suspense, to a feeling of ‘come on, get on with it’.  It definitely laboured in parts, yet finished like a runaway train.  Maybe even the author was getting sick of it by then herself.  

If I had to do a 5-star award review, this would probably be a 2½.

Prime Minister's Literary Awards

The 2014 shortlist is out and the winners of Australia's largest [$600,000] shared prizemoney will be announced before the end of the year. As well as authors in Poetry, Young Adult and Children categories, those making the list are:

A World of Other People by Steven Carroll 
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan 
The Night Guest Fiona McFarlane 
Coal Creek by Alex Miller 
Belomor by Nicolas Rothwell 

Moving Among Strangers by Gabrielle Carey 
The Lucky Culture by Nick Cater 
Citizen Emperor by Philip Dwyer 
Rendezvous with Destiny by Michael Fullilove 
Madeleine: A Life of Madeleine St John by Helen Trinca

Broken Nation: Australians in the Great War by Joan Beaumont
First Victory 1914 by Mike Carlton 
Australia’s Secret War: How unionists sabotaged our troops in World War II by Hal G.P. Colebatch 
Arthur Phillip: Sailor, Mercenary, Governor, Spy by Michael Pembroke 
The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright


You by Caroline Kepnes

Love hurts... When aspiring writer Guinevere Beck strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe works, he's instantly smitten. Beck is everything Joe has ever wanted: She's gorgeous, tough, razor-smart, and as sexy as his wildest dreams. Beck doesn't know it yet, but she's perfect for him, and soon she can't resist her feelings for a guy who seems custom made for her. But there's more to Joe than Beck realizes, and much more to Beck than her oh-so-perfect facade. Their mutual obsession quickly spirals into a whirlwind of deadly consequences. A chilling account of unrelenting passion, Caroline Kepnes's You is a perversely romantic thriller that's more dangerously clever than any you've read before.

Another debut author. This book had me hooked from the beginning. Book shop employee Joe is captivated by Beck as soon as she enters his store, thereafter he sets out to make her his, with devastating consequences. He literally takes over her life - from a distance- when she accidentally leaves her phone in a cab which means Joe has access to her email, facebook and twitter accounts. He stalks her and her friends and lures her into his fantasy world. This is a good example of how one's identity can easily be stolen by the wrong person and the effect it has on your life. Fans of Gone Girl will devour this in one or two sittings!