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Tony & Susan

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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!

Mobile Library towns - back in time

Links to our Past - history -

Casey Cardinia Library Corporation (CCLC)  has a Mobile Library which services various towns throughout the Cardinia Shire.   If you aren't  a regular Mobile Library user but happen to be meandering around the country side then you should pop in and take a look if you see it stopped and open for business. The Mobile has a good collection of  items - books, DVDs, CDs, magazines etc - you just use your regular CCLC membership card.  Click here to access the timetable.

I thought it would be interesting to take a look back in time, at the towns where the Mobile Library stops.

On Monday, it stops at Bunyip, Garfield and Tynong.

Bunyip - Main Street,  1908.Photograph: Call of the Bunyip by Denise Nest.

Garfield - Looking down Main Street, 1910.Photograph: North of the line: a pictorial record

Tynong - Looking westPhotograph: North of the line: a pictorial record
On Tuesday, it stops at Beaconsfield Upper and Gembrook.

Beaconsfield Upper - Wilson's storePhotograph: Upper Beaconsfield: an early history by Charles Wilson

Gembrook - Walker's StorePhotograph: North of the line:  a pictorial record
On Wednesday,  it stops at Beaconsfield.

Beaconsfield - Woods StreetPhotograph: Beaconsfield History Group
On Thursday, it stops at Maryknoll and Cockatoo.

Maryknoll - Post Office and General Store, 1969.Photograph: Maryknoll: history of a Catholic Rural Settlement by Gael White (2002)

Cockatoo - Fairbridge's storePhotograph: North of the line:  a pictorial record
On Friday, it stops at Lang Lang and Koo-Wee-Rup. 

Lang Lang - Main StreetPhotograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection

Koo-Wee-Rup - Rossiter Road, 1923Photograph: Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society collection.
On Saturday, it's back to Bunyip.

Bunyip - Pearson and Company store, c. 1905.Photograph: Call of the Bunyip by Denise Nest
If this has inspired you to visit the Mobile Library then click here for the link to the time table. 

Cross and burn

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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 Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Book Swamp -

'Origami Yoda' is an origami puppet made by a boy called Dwight.

The children in Dwight's class start asking Origami Yoda questions, and the puppet (through Dwight's voice) gives clever answers.

Can Origami Yoda see into the past, the present and the future? Many think that the puppet has amazing powers.

Tom wants to know if Sara likes him, and whether he should risk asking her to dance at the monthly dance night. So who better to ask than Origami Yoda?

Read the book to find out what happens!

Recommended reading. Very enjoyable!


The Fault in our Stars

Quicksand -

Author: John Green

The Fault in our Stars is all about a girl named Hazel Grace and she is a cancer sufferer. She didn't want to go to a Support Group and she likes it when she ends up meeting someone named  Augustus Waters. Firstly they were acquaintances and then when Augustus went to Hazel's house and then they became friends and they fell in love. They were the cutest couple. He made her wish came true, which was going to Amsterdam and meeting her favourite author of "An Imperial Affliction" by Peter Van Houten so they did that. But this is a sad book that's not such a good thing though because Augustus ends up having a prefuneral because... to find out the rest of this terrific book go and get The Fault in our Stars now. I recommend it
would be rated PG=)
How good was it? Fantastic

Age: 8

The Keeper

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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


Reading Rewards - reviews -

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!

The Fisherman's Daughter

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Fisherman’s Daughter by Molly Jackson 

From the cover:   When Robbie Fraser receives an anonymous note saying 'Your father has disappeared' he is shocked beyond belief. As far as he knows, he has no father. Robbie travels to a small Scottish fishing village to find the man he never knew, but he is met with hostility and the claustrophobic insularity of a small-town community. Only Heather McBain seems to want to befriend him, and from her he learns of the bitter rivalry between their fathers. As she and Robbie start asking questions, buried secrets come to light which could destroy them all. 

I really enjoyed this book; it was different, with lots of atmosphere and absorbing characters to get into, plus a bit of a twist when you thought you had it all worked out. 

What is amazing is that Molly Jackson is really SAS soldier, Chris Ryan. Ryan was a part of the Bravo Two Zero operation during the first Gulf War. Along with fellow soldier-turned-writer Andy McNab, the eight-man patrol was sent behind Iraqi lines to destroy mobile Scud launchers. 

It may be his first romance but Ryan, 47, insists it will also be his last. "It took me two years to get it right,' he said. I tend to stick to a subject that I'm comfortable with but I wanted to see if I could do a classic family saga. I won't be doing it again. If it taught me something, it was don't go out of your comfort zone, so I think I'll stick to writing about what I know." 

Ryan has written more than two dozen books, including ten in the Alpha Force adventure series which is aimed at teenage readers. The UK-born writer's best-known character is Geordie Sharpe, an SAS sergeant who does battle with the IRA, the Russians, and the Iraqis. 

The Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Quicksand -

‘Love makes us such fools.’

On the surface The Strange and Beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavendar by Leslye Walton is about Ava, a sixteen year old girl born with wings, who yearns to fit in with everyone else. But this novel also traces her family history, a history of love gone wrong, of myths and fables.

It begins with her grandmother, Emilienne, who fell in love three times before she was nineteen. After the deaths of her siblings, all due to love, or the lack thereof, she married a man she thought would never leave her. Love didn’t enter into the equation.

Ava’s mother Vivianne is just as much troubled by love as the rest of her family. Falls in love with a boy who, after a one night stand, leaves her. From this one night, Vivianne has two children, winged Ava and silent Henry….but all the time waits for her errant lover to return.

This novel is an interesting mixture of fable and magic realism. Nothing and no one are really how they appear. Vivianne has an unnatural sense of smell and can detect the seasons.

"Summer rain smelled like newly clipped grass, like mouths stained red with berry juice – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. It smelled like late nights spent pointing constellations out from their starry guises, freshly washed laundry drying outside on the line, like barbecues and stolen kisses in a 1932 Ford Coupe."

One of Emilienne’s siblings cuts out her own heart, another quietly turns into a bird. Ghosts freely roam this book as though it is the norm. Now it is Ava’s turn to try and find her place. She longs to leave the safety of her home, all that she has ever known. With the help of a friend she sneaks out but now becomes the obsession of a man who believes her to be no mortal woman but an angel.

This novel is like a grown up fairy tale.  If you accept that fact and allow yourself to be swept along with some beautiful writing, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

Vicki @ Pakenham

The Silent Sister

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain

From the cover:  Riley MacPherson has spent her entire life believing that her older sister Lisa committed suicide as a teenager. Now, over twenty years later, her father has passed away and she's in New Bern, North Carolina cleaning out his house when she finds evidence to the contrary. Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now? As Riley works to uncover the truth, her discoveries will put into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Riley must decide what the past means for her present, and what she will do with her newfound reality.

This is the second Diane Chamberlain book I have read - the author really knows how to weave a good plot into a storyline! This is a dysfunctional family with many secrets that quietly unfold as you read on. The main protagonist, Riley, is a school counsellor who has to return home to settle her late father's estate. She reunites with her brother, a recluse with mental issues, and while sorting out her father's belongings, questions begin to appear. She wonders about the family's hidden secrets and the lies that stood between her and the family she longed for. What is the truth behind older sister Lisa's supposed suicide? What lies under the surface of Lisa's privileged life as a music prodigy? How did their father manage to change the course of all of their lives by one series of actions? And who is Jade, living across the country in an alternate life?
This book will appeal to readers of Women's fiction, who enjoy a bit of mystery thrown in. 

Man Booker Prize

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The winner of the Man Booker Prize was announced at a ceremony last night, October 14, in London.  Prominent Australian author, Richard Flanagan, is the first Tasmanian to take out the £50,000 ($88,000) prize with his novel The Narrow Road to the Deep North, which tells the story of prisoners of war on the Burma Railway. 

There have been only two other Australian winners in past years - Thomas Keneally in 1982 for Schindler's Ark and Peter Carey for Oscar and Lucinda in 1988 and True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001.

United States authors were included in this year's award for the first time.

Trove Digistised Newspapers and the Bailey family, Orchardists, of Narre Warren North.

Links to our Past - history -

It's been some time since I have written about Trove Digitised newspapers and, as it is one of my favourite historical resources, I thought it was time to look at it again. Trove Digitised Newspapers, found at https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper, currently have over 14 million pages of Australia newspapers digitised from 1803 to recent times, depending on the newspaper.  The 14 million pages can all be searched using the one search box and you can then print off the articles, save the articles, just browse the entire newspaper or even create your own reference list on any topic you may be interested in.

The reference list facility is wonderful. You just need to sign in and create an account, It's free, you don't need to pay any money. You sign in and log in, using the buttons on the top right hand corner, see below.

This is a copy of the front page of Trove Digitised Newspapers -  you sign up for an account and you log into the account on the top right hand corner.
Once you have created an account you can then create lists of articles - this mean that you can do a search, save the article to whatever list you want, and then you can go back and review all the articles without trying to find then again (which is what I used to do before I discovered this facility!) You can make the lists public which means that anyone can access them or you can keep them private, so only you can access them.

As an example, I have created a list of articles on the Berwick Boys Grammar School, which operated from 1882 to 1928. Click here to access the list.  I  also have  a list on the Emerald County Club, click here.

Trove is adding content all the time. Just recently they have added 47 new titles from all over Victoria from 1914 to 1918 as part of the State Library / PLVN Digitising World War 1 Victorian Newspapers project.  They have also uploaded 25 other titles from various States covering various years.

Trove truly is a treasure trove of  information, covering local history, sporting history, world news, family history - if it was in the papers at the time you can find it. Don't just restrict your search to Victorian papers or to papers from your own area, you might find a mention of your town or family in a wide variety of newspapers. As an example,  I have created  a list about the Bailey family of Narre Warren, who were early orchardists in the area.  I have found articles from five states and at least ten different newspapers. You can see the list here.

This is James Bailey and his son, Sidney James Bailey, taken c. 1918 in their Narre Warren North orchard.

William & Fanny Bailey settled in Narre Warren North in 1894 and established the first orchard in the area on Bayview Farm at the eastern end of Bailey Road.   The Baileys had nine children. Their eldest son, George (1875-1960), had a General store in Narre Warren, operated by family members until the 1970s. George and his wife Florence built Brentwood (later called Clarinda Park) in 1904. In 1993, the address was 271-299 Narre Warren North Road, I don't think it still exists.  Another son James (1877-1962) married Lucy Agnes Webb, the daugher of Sidney and Anne Webb. He was also a fruit grower. They built Araluen in 1903 and their daughter, Lucy,  lived there until she died  in 1999/2000 and the land was sub-divided. Araleun bunt down in mysterious circumstances a few years ago.

The Key to Rondo

Book Swamp -

Author of the book: Emily Rodda

At the start of the book there was no detail but the further you read the more interesting,detail,action and adventure there was.Don't be fooled by the boring start because it is really good! When really the further you read the better it got. You can't put the book down when the action starts. I found it perfect for kids and adults especially fantasy lovers.
There is a series if you love the first book,
1: The Key To Rondo
2: The Wizzard Of Rondo
3: The Battle Of Rondo
What type of story was it?: Adventure
What do you rate the book out of 10?: 10

Age: 11
Berwick Fields PS

Death Mask

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Death Mask by Kathryn Fox
Book 5 in the Dr. Anya Crichton series.

Forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton is presented with a patient who has returned from her honeymoon with multiple sexually transmitted infections. Her husband has none of them. She tearfully denies having had any other partners and Anya believes her. Is this a medical phenomenon or has something more sinister taken place? 

Anya's investigation into the case results in a ground-breaking study that attracts international attention. Her expertise leads to an invitation to New York to address over three hundred football players in the US Professional League. The enigmatic private investigator Ethan 'Catcher' Rye is assigned to assist Anya during the summit. When an alleged rape involving five football players takes place, Anya is commissioned to investigate. She is immediately thrust into a subculture of violence, sexual assault and drug abuse. No one is what he or she seems. Anya soon discovers a devastating truth about the players that threatens to shut down the eight billion dollar football industry. Now lives, including her own, are in danger...

I thought I had been reading this series in order, but apparently I missed no. 4, Blood Born.  Never mind, most of these can be read pretty much as stand-alone books which is a good thing. The first three – Malicious Intent, Without Consent, and Skin and Bone, were powerful, but good. In my opinion, this one is not.  It was a disturbing, uncomfortable read - brutal and sleazy.  The subject matter is definitely not entertaining, and the storyline wasn't engaging enough as a 'whodunnit' to bother sticking with it. Some other reviewers have said how good it was to have the many views in this book thrown into the public arena to create discussion, but for me ... I shouldn't have borrowed it and I’m glad to be moving on to something else.  

As an aside, I listened to the audio format and Jennifer Vilutec delivered an excellent narration.  I've heard her before on other titles and have been impressed with her characterisations, particularly male voices which she does very well, so if you see her name on an audio book you're in for a listening treat.

All the Birds Singing

Reading Rewards - reviews -

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Jake Whyte is an outsider haunted by her past. She has moved from outback Australia to a remote unnamed island off the West coast of England where she lives with only her dog, Dog. Here she works on a sheep farm but there is someone, or something, killing them off, one by one.

As she tries to unravel the mystery of her present, her past and why she ended up on the other side of the world is slowly revealed.

I really enjoyed this work of fiction which won the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award. The story is compelling and well structured with Jake’s past and present alternating with each chapter. The very different landscapes are evocatively described and the characters are mysterious.
Highly recommended.

Leaving Time

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Leaving Time by Jodie Picoult

For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice's old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother's whereabouts. Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons--only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice's case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they'll have to face even harder answers. As Jenna's memories dovetail with the events in her mother's journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.

I was very disappointed with this book. After her great book The Storyteller last year I eagerly waited to read this new one. Firstly, the story was dominated by the history of elephants. If I wanted to know about them I would have picked up a non-fiction book! It really took away from the storyline and became quite annoying to me.

I won't give anything away but the usual "twist" at the end was really ridiculous and I thought very unbelievable. I will be reluctant to read any more of her books in the future which is so disappointing.


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