Aussie Author Challenge Roundup

This past year I signed up for the Aussie Author Challenge  and bumped my category from  Wallaby to Walleroo.

Read and review 6 titles written by Australian authors, of which at least 2 of those authors are female, at least 2 of those authors are male, and at least 2 of those authors are new to you; Fiction or non-fiction, at least 2 different genre.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Fragments by Toni Jordan

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Disaster’s Children by Emma Sloley

Last but not least is the book Crucifixion Creek
by Barry Maitland.

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This completes my Aussie Author Challenge for 2019.

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The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

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An old Manse in the Scottish countryside. The mystery of a father missing for 27 years, along with a cache of diamonds from the jeweler he worked for, some “other worldly” dynamics from the house and tales of it’s haunting.  All of that grabbed me from the first chapter.

Ailsa Calder has inherited the old Manse after her mother dies.  It’s her early childhood home before her father disappeared and her mother moved them away.  The catch is Ailsa only inherited half the property.  Her missing father has the other half and she has no way to sell it without his consent.  In all the years he has been gone her mother never made time to have him declared legally dead.  She can live in it and that’s what she does for the short term.

Before each chapter there is a short story about where Ailsa’s father is living and the circumstances.  Each story is different and you realize it’s Ailsa’s theories on where her absent father ended up. She doesn’t know, no one does.

Ailsa invites her half sister Carrie to move into the old house with her while she sorts the legal process of selling it or renting it.  Ailsa is never comfortable in the house and you come to see why near the end. It’s spooky. Or corny, depending on your point of view.

There are many characters and the writing is well done, using dinna and other Outlander-type language so you feel the Scottish accents flowing in conversation.  There are many characters I liked and I honestly didn’t peg the villain character, not even when it was presented.  I would read more by Lexie Elliott.  Loved her first book The French Girl and am looking forward to more in the future.

Carrie made an excellent roasted chicken dinner and I knew I wanted that comfort food as soon as possible.  This was shared by Carrie, Ailsa and Fiona.

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Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

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The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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This is the fourth novel by Lisa Jewell I have read and obviously I am now a true fan.  I love the way she weaves a story and makes you care about characters.  They come to life and I found myself invested in the outcomes, good or bad.  Didn’t matter if there were a few unlikable characters, I needed to see what would happen.  Let’s face it, you have to have a few villainous  characters or there wouldn’t be tension.

The house in question here is a lovely place in the Cotswolds, home of the Bird family.  Colin and Lorelei Bird have four children.  Megan, Bethann, Rory and Rhys.  We journey through their lives and the drama unfolds over the years.  We meet the children when they are small and by the end of the book they are middle aged.

This book addresses the mental illness of a hoarder and what it does to a family.  It was distressing to watch Lorelei at times; I felt such empathy for Megan and Bethann and developed a dislike of Megan’s partner Bill after a bit.  Rory was a product of his environment and Rhys….I won’t spoil that part because it’s integral to the way everyone’s lives play out.

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

 

Non Fiction November

This year I planned to participate in Non Fiction November. Leave it to me to very late to the party! Well, I joined up at Goodreads, even though it’s this late in November.

This November I read and reviewed the following and I’ll finish it up with a book about astronomy.

Ghost Signs by Frank Mastropolo

The Year of the Dog by Vincent Musi

If You Lived Here You’d Be Home by Christopher Ingraham

Dark Skies is a Lonely Planet publication and creates a guide to astrotourism.  It is divided into categories such as stargazing, meteor showers, eclipses, launches. space flight and best of all (to me) dark places.  If you live in or near a city you probably have light pollution that keeps you from seeing some of the night sky.  In a truly dark place you will be gobsmacked by the stars and celestial sights.

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It’s very unlikely my husband and I will get to many of these places but it certainly gives a proverbial bucket list for places in the USA to travel and stargaze.

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This would be a lovely book to gift for your astronomy minded friend or family member this Christmas. The photos are great and it has very detailed resources.

That’s my roundup for Nonfiction November!

Sliding Doors by Peter Howitt

4D1DC633-AD62-4BC4-9DD4-183DE41205E3 The premise of this book intrigued me with the “what if” scenarios.    One little thing can change the path and outcome of your day….. maybe your life as well.

Helen is a PR executive living and working in London. On her way home from work she is rushing for the subway when a child steps in her path, causing her to slow down enough where she misses the train. The sliding door closes before she can board. 

She hails a taxi and eventually makes it home much later. It should be noted Helen has left work early.  This is important. Unbeknownst to Helen, her boyfriend has a woman in their apartment while she is working and so, by delaying her arrival she doesn’t catch Gerry and Lydia together.

Now, same scenario with Helen rushing for the train but she makes it and gets on board. A handsome man named James, who works at her building and spoke to her earlier, sits by Helen and engages her in conversation. 

As she made it on the train she does arrive at home early and catches Gerry with his girlfriend in their bedroom. This sets Helen on a different path as she leaves Gerry and goes to stay with her/friend Anna.

What I didn’t know when I purchased this book was the format.  It’s written as a play with the set and locale information so you may  visualize the scenes as they unfold.  When the two stories of Helen change it`s noted by the author using a different and bolder font for one story line. It sounds confusing but once I started reading it I could keep track.

This was made into a movie and stars Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah.  Having read the book I’m glad I did not watch the movie first as I wouldn’t have read the book.  I will also state that the end of one of Helen’s  stories had me about to toss the book across the room. 

I think about things like this on the way to work.  If you decide to take a later flight or a different way to work the outcomes may be identical ……but those different variables may place you in an accident or late or who knows what.  

The scenes were vividly described and you get a little tour of London while reading. Evidently the movie has you fully immersed in the London scenery.  But I doubt I’d watch it now.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

The Legacy of Mr. Jarvis by Jude Hayland

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It’s been rehashed in the book descriptor but I have to outline the plot.  A young girl named Mary Foster is unexpectantly uprooted from her childhood home in London and moved to to a seaside home far away.  She comes home one day and the movers are packing things up.  Her parents didn’t give her any warning.  Imagine that….I would be extremely upset to lose my friends and suburban life without warning, that is from the point of view of a twelve year old.

The perspective jumps to Mary as an adult, taking care of her aging father and her mother who now has Alzheimer’s. Things her mother remembers sparks Mary to research her past a bit.  It’s funny how some things we don’t understand as a child make perfect sense when you are an adult.

It’s a point of reference from the grown up experiences and how we remember something that suddenly fits like a puzzle.  The “Oh, that’s what that meant!” kinda thing.

Without spoilers I can say the end leaves you to make up your own mind how life proceeds for Mary. Two clear and distinct choices are presented by Mary, taking her life in the direction she chooses.  Which one did she pick?  Hmmmm….The author depicts a normal group of characters with everyday flaws and problems.  

Much thanks to NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book. I was not compensated for the review.  Would I read more by Jude Hayland?  Absolutely.

This book was published October 8, 2019.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell

foundThe setting is Ridinghouse Bay in northern England. We have multiple story lines overlapping which eventually merge. One story is about Alice Lake, single mother of three.

By her own admittance she isn’t a good mother. She sees a man sitting in the rain staring out to sea near her home and eventually walks up to him, gives him an old coat, a cup of hot tea and checks on him. The man is in a fugue state and can’t remember anything about his life, not his name or where he’s from. From other reviews I see some people didn’t like Alice and I can see some of their point of view. She’s a kind person and a loving person but she’s a bit too bohemian for motherhood. Giving this stranger a place to sleep in her guest “shed” is kindly yet you wonder is she putting her children at risk? Who is this guy? The loving exchanges with her children, feeding a troupe of her teenage son’s friends and taking in stray dogs….and people…..she is basically a very good person.

The second story line is set in 1993, over twenty years prior to the Alice Lake and the memory-lapse-guy story. The Ross family stays at Rabbit Cottage every year, located on Ridinghouse Bay. The two teenagers, Gray and Kristy, aren’t as enthused about going now that they are older. Typical teens, right? Enter a mysterious handsome 19 year-old who takes a rather creepy interest in 15 year-old Kristy. The parents don’t notice it but older brother Gray certainly does and feels very protective. This story ramps up quickly.

Last but not least we have a Ukraine bride named Lily, living in London with her English husband Carl Montose. They’ve only been married a few weeks and suddenly he is missing.  He flat out disappears and Lily discovers she knew nothing about his life. The police get involved as it’s a missing persons case and some startling facts are revealed about Carl Montose.  Could he be the memory impaired fellow staying in Alice’s shed? For what it’s worth, I did not care for Lily.  Too brusque.

What I especially liked were the mini cliffhangers. The end of the chapters had you wanting more but as you turn the page, you move on to one of the other stories. This is the third book I have read by Lisa Jewell and have become a fan. Of the three novels this was my least favorite but I did like it.   On hold at the library is Jewell’s book The House We Grew Up In and I am looking forward to that one.

There is a bit of food mentioned yet it’s not a foodie book by any means.  Cream teas, cucumber sandwiches, beet and horseradish tea sandwiches, roasted beef with root vegetables, sausages and mash, pizza, steak, bagels and peanut butter and cake.

Alice fed the throng of teen boys sausages and mash.  While that was tempting I went with a roasted chicken meal.  Alice roasted beef and root vegetables and I opted for poultry. Lovely meal to share over a glass of wine and lots of chatter.

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Original recipe post may be found HERE at Squirrel Head Manor.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.