Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Trust in Me by Sophie McKenzie

How well can you really know another person? How well do you really know your best friend? Your spouse? Can you trust them? That is the premise of Trust in Me, a new novel by British thriller writer, Sophie McKenzie.

Livy has enjoyed a comfortable life as a wife and mother of two and has a great friendship with Julia. Her happy life has only been tainted just a little with two events--the brutal of her sister, Kara, eighteen years ago and when her husband had a brief fling with one of his work colleagues. Julia has been the friend that Livy has depended on during these hard times. Through Livy's eyes we see Julia as a strong and capable woman. So when Julia dies in an apparent suicide, Livy is certain that Julia's death was not self inflicted. She starts to investigate ... and discovers just how little she knew her supposed best friend and some of the other people around her.

Trust in Me is a novel that is unpredictable and sometimes impossible to put down. The author carefully plots a setting that contrasts family and relationship drama with, questions of trust, and a cat and mouse game between a killer and his ultimate prey. But who is this violent psychopath? What does he want from Livy? And how far is he prepared to take his games? And what will become of the safe life that Livy has always known? Wanting to find out the answers kept me reading well into the evening. The strongest parts of the novel, I felt, were those written from the perspective of the killer, though Livy makes for an interesting heroine--an ordinary woman, who by her knowledge of right and wrong, and by her belief in others, is thrown into an extraordinary situation. Some of the family drama weighed the novel down a little, though the family problems that Livy experienced--such as trust issues and her fears about motherhood--felt very believable.

An enjoyable novel. Recommended for those looking for a thriller with a likeable and unlikely heroine.

Finally, a bit shout out to Simon and Schuster Australia for my free review copy. Thank you. 

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Picking up where The Fiery Heart left off, Silver Shadows, the fifth novel in Mead's Bloodlines series tells about Sydney Sage's horrific time spend in an alchemist rehabilitation centre while her forbidden love, Adrian, fights to find and free her. 

Although entertaining and a fun distraction, Silver Shadows is the eleventh novel that Mead has set in this universe (the first six novels make up the Vampire Academy series, while Bloodlines serves as a spin-off) and the series as a whole is starting to feel a little tired. That said, there is still a lot to like within the narrative. Fans of Sydney and Adrian's romance are in for a treat. The novel ends of a (not entirely unexpected,) cliffhanger that will lead perfectly into the sixth and final novel of the series. 

Strictly for fans or for those eager to know what happens next. 

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Review: Luna Tango by Alli Sinclair

Luna Tango is the first novel I have read to be set almost entirely in Argentina and I loved author Alli Sinclair's depiction of Argentina and, more importantly, the famous Argentinian/Uruguayan dance, the tango. The novel opens with Dani, an Australian journalist, based in New York but sent to Argentina to do a piece researching the history of the tango. Dani's personal life is a bit of a mess--her fiance has just ditched her for his ex-wife and her connection with Argentina is unpleasant in a very personal way--when she was a small child, Dani's mother abandoned her and moved to Argentina where she became an exceptionally famous dancer. Add to the mix the fact that Dani's grandmother (who raised her) is staunchly refusing to speak to Dani until she leaves Argentina and that her interview subject, Carlos is quite an eccentric man who refuses to answer any of Dani's questions until she learns some dance steps and we have quite a colourful story. As the story progresses, we learn of a murder that happened many years ago in Argentina and that Dani may have a very personal connection to it all ...

This one was a fun, entertaining and often page turning read that kept me up well into the evening as I tried to sort through Dani's family life and its possible connections to Argentina. Carlos made for an interesting love interest. The flashbacks and family secrets kept me engrossed as did the real sense of history and culture that moves through the narrative. My only real complaint is that the ending felt a little too abrupt, though it is fitting given the possible/probable fates of two very important and likeable characters. 

Luna Tango is the first book in the Dance Card series, with two more books to follow--Flamenco Fire and Turning Pointe in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Recommended.

Finally, a big shout out to Harlequin and The Reading Room for my free copy. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Writers on Wednesday: Tony Berry

Time once again for Writers on Wednesday. This week I am chatting with Australian journalist, author and editor Tony Berry. 



Tell us a bit about yourself …

Known variously as an old curmudgeon, the marathon man and dedicated pedant. Started in journalism way back when as an apprentice reporter whose Wednesday night duty was to read and check galleys under the beady eyes of the paper’s proofreaders. Since then I’ve travelled the world as reporter and feature writer and spent more than 40 years in Australia as feature writer and editor with a broad mix of daily newspapers, trade journals and magazines, much of the time as a freelance. a dozen years or so ago I eventually got around to indulging in a lifelong wish to write a book rather than report on events. These days more time seems to be spent on editing other writers’ books than on writing my own. But I love it.

Tell us about your most recently published book?

This is The Devil Deals in Diamonds, the third in a series of crime novels built around my main character, sleuth Bromo Perkins.

Tell us about the first time you were published?

A real buzz to hold my book. My baby! My first born! Even if I did publish it myself rather than be blessed by a mainstream publisher.

As writer, what has been your proudest achievement so far?

Acknowledgement by the Australian Society of Authors with a mentorship (under Sophie Masson) for my second crime novel, Washed Up.

What books or writing projects are you currently working on, if anything?

Some 35,000 words of the third Bromo Perkins book have been fed into the computer and it’s flowing along nicely. I’m itching also to get back to do a complete update and revision of my memoir From Paupers to iPads, which blends fact and fiction to tell my family history based on extensive worldwide research.

Which do you prefer? eBooks or Paper Books? Why?

No argument. A book is a book; an e-book is a gadget. I detest gadgets and have an unloving relationship with technology.

Indie Publishing, or Traditional Publishing?

Again, no argument. Traditional publishing means acceptance even if we might argue vociferously about the quality of much that is published; indie publishing has no judgement – anyone can do it and Amazon is awash with books with little merit. People are churning out books with no assessment as to their quality. Sadly people are reading them and lavishing excessive praise where so often none is due and all critical judgement seems to have been thrown overboard. Everything seems to be “awesome”, “stunning”, “amazing”, “superb” and the like when it is nothing of the sort. It is the excessive phrases of the X Factor being applied to books. Stop it!

Aside from your own books, of course, what is one book that you feel everybody should read?

There’s no answer to that. Everybody should read the books that works for them, be it fact or fiction, for laughs or thrills, for help or inspiration, for escapism or instruction.

Finally … is there anything you would like to say to your readers in Adelaide, Australia?

Do as I did: move to Melbourne as soon as you can.

~ No. I refuse to live in a city without frog cakes. Kathryn. 


Links

Books by Tony Berry on Amazon:
From Paupers to iPads (memoir): http://tinyurl.com/d44zq2n
Washed Up (crime fiction):  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007V3CYEE
Done Deal (crime fiction): http://tinyurl.com/cznho52

The Devil Deals in Diamonds: http://tinyurl.com/q8qgz6k

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: A Place For Us by Harriet Evans

The day that Martha Winter decided to tear her family apart started out like any other day ... Or so begins the haunting first sentence of A Place For Us, a haunting new novel by British author, Harriet Evans. I found this novel somewhat reminiscent of Maeve Binchy with its cast of colourful characters and multi-layered storytelling set in a rural town ... but with a bit of a sinister twist--one that I was not prepared for or expecting, despite many of the clues that the author lays through the narrative.

Martha Winter and her husband David have enjoyed a good life in a small English village. Martha has enjoyed her role as a wife, mother and as a hostess to many parties that the family has become famous for. David is a successful cartoonist with his own daily comic strip. They have three children--Bill, a doctor who lives nearby and who has recently remarried the much younger Karen (a woman who just does not 'get' people); Florence who is currently studying in the city after which she was named and Daisy the middle child who no one talks about and who is said to be abroad--and who we meet in flashback and soon learn may not be the nicest of people. Rounding out the family are Bill's daughter, Lucy--an aspiring fashion writer--and Daisy's daughter Cat who was raised by Martha and David and who now has a child of her own. The bulk of the novel tells the story of each of these characters, along with that of local baker, Joe, as they make their plans to attend Martha's birthday celebration. There, a surprising revelation is made and we get to see how the family copes with that.

In many ways, this novel felt very long and filled with a few too many characters. I struggled a little with the Daisy storyline and found many of the other sup-plots--such as a possible romance between Cat and Joe and some of the other family secrets to be far more interesting. Though endearing and with a lot of positive points, I felt that this was not perhaps Evans strongest novel.

One for fans or for those looking for something a bit different.  

Random Trivia--this novel was originally released in serial format and will not be available in some countries until next year. The Australia release date is September 9. 

Thank you to Hatchette Australia and to the Reading Room for my review copy. 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Around Adelaide: Street Art


Game of hopscotch, anyone? While walking along the Esplanade at Glenelg, I was amused to discover this painted on the shared footpath/cycle track. It's a part of the South Australian Government's Be Active promotion, which encourages residents to think outside the square and do fun, little things to be more active in their every day life.