15 Aug 2018

THE DRY.


THE DRY by JANE HARPER.


Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn't rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty.

Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke's death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend's crime.
- Back Cover Blurb

It wasn't as though the farm hadn't seen death before, and the blowflies didn't discriminate.
- First Sentence, Prologue

They looked at each other. Grant Dow had always been older, bigger, stronger. Constantly hovering on the cusp of anger, he sent people scurrying to the other side of the street as he approached. Now older, fatter and with the faint whiff of chronic ill-health on the horizon, the bitterness seemed to seep from his pores.
- Memorable Moment, Page 163

SOURCE ... An Oxford Centre Reading Group read.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Gripped from the off, I became more and more engrossed. Plainly seeing main character, Aaron Falk, in my mind's eye ... always a sign of a book well written (to my mind anyway).

Portrayed at its most cruel, as bleak as the snow-blown plains in the Nordic noir that has become so popular of late, the bushfires that promise death and destruction synonymous with the tensions that threaten to engulf the inhabitants of Kiewarra, it isn't just Falk (or indeed the other characters) that the author brings to life but a whole way of life. 

Not just the one mystery but two, for running alongside the murder of the Hadlers is the decades old mystery of just what exactly happened to Ellie Deacon, childhood friend of Aaron and Luke and were either of them involved, the incidents connected? 

A story of atonement, of the sins of the past with twists and turns aplenty, the author scattering possibilities like confetti, this is way up there as one of my favourite reads of 2018.


13 Aug 2018

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS.

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by JOHN GREEN.


Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.
- Back Cover Blurb

Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.
- First Sentence, Chapter One

See 'My Thoughts' below for my Memorable Moment

SOURCE ... On my TBR pile for so long I have forgotten.

READ FOR A REVIEW? ... Yes.
  • 8 of 12 books read for the 2018 Mount TBR Challenge.
MY THOUGHTS ... Disappointed, utterly disappointed. Of all of the 'cancer' novels out there this must be the one that moved me the least. 

Yes, I'm unashamed to say the main thing I'm looking for in a book of this genre is how much it moves me; how many tissues I go through; how red eyed and snotty nosed I'm left and in this respect, yep, I was disappointed, well and truly disappointed.

After that comes ... the characters. 

Alas unable to connect with them. I'm afraid I found main protagonists Hazel and Augustus unrealistic. Yes, cancer forces (many) teenagers to grow up ... and grow up quick ... but the conversations between these two read more like the conversations between, well, lets just leave it as like the conversations between those much, much older. Oh! Then there's the fact that, rightfully or wrongfully, whilst I felt I should be feeling their pain; empathising with them, for much of the time all I could think about was how angry I was. Angry that, amongst other things, Hazel felt ...

 "A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy…well” (Pg 9)

Which brings me to ....

Dun dun dun ...

The romance.

Not a believer in love at first sight to begin with ... Lust at first sight? Maybes. But love? Nah. Besides which I don't think it was so much love as them bonding because they both had cancer, Hazel because, well, he was hot and she had cancer. But mainly, once again, my main gripe was the narrative ...

 "I'm in love with you, and I'm not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I'm in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we're all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we'll ever have, and I am in love with you.” (Pg 153)

Now I don't know about you but neither I nor Mr T (and he works in a college full of teens) found this realistic.

And its not the only thing either ...


I took it off and let Jackie stick the cannula in her nose and breathe. (Pg 46)

Urgh! Hasn't she heard of cross contamination? To 'stick' a breathing tube in the nose of some random child, really? And as for a mother to allow some random stranger to let her child try said random stranger's breathing tube? I ask again, really?

When all is said and done though, essentially what I really, really disliked about the book was the author setting both characters up as heroic rather than, at least one of them, as a terrified teen facing up to their own mortality.

10 Aug 2018

TIMMY ON THE TOILET.

Timmy on the Toilet
TIMMY ON THE TOILET by PETA LEMON.


Timmy is walking to school one day and saves a fairy in distress.

He is granted a wish but accidentally wishes that he could fly whilst sitting on the toilet at school.

Join Timmy on his adventures flying on the toilet and find out what happens when the fairy grants him another wish for looking so daft.
- Back Cover Blurb

Timmy was walking to school one day
- First Sentence, Page Un-numbered

"Make this thing stop!" he started yelling.
"I should be in class doing my spelling!"
- Memorable Moment, Page Un-numbered

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the publicity department at TaleBlade.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... What is it about the world toilet that has children (and especially little boys) country wide (possibly even world wide) laughing? 

I don't know BUT mention the word to any small child and hear them laugh. Now mention a flying toilet and well ....

What I strongly suspect will be another winner from the author of The Fed-Up Cow, Timmy On The Toilet is a fun read written in verse that, beautifully illustrated by the talented Maria Dasic Todoric, will make a perfect addition to both the home and school library; lending itself perfectly not just to individual reading but, if published in a giant size, being shared by the whole class during story circle.

7 Aug 2018

MARY ANN SATE, IMBECILE.

MARY ANN SATE, IMBECILE by ALICE JOLLY.

As the nineteenth century draws towards a close, Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maidservant, sets out to write her truth.

She writes of the Valleys that she loves, of the poisonous rivalry between her employer's two sons and of a terrible choice which tore her world apart.

Her haunting and poignant story brings to life a period of strife and rapid social change, and evokes the struggles of those who lived in poverty and have been forgotten by history.

In this fictional found memoir, novelist Alice Jolly uses the astonishing voice of Mary Ann to recreate history as seen from a woman's perspective and to give joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.
- Inner front Cover Blurb

This manuscript was found at a house called Mount Vernon that is at the top of Butterrow Hill, just outside the town of Stroud, in the county of Gloucestershire.
- First Sentence, Note

The leg underneath is soft and swollen
Like marrow ovr ripe and split all open
Fat and purple and also green in some place
Smell sharp sweet dead flesh
- Memorable Moment, Page 28

SOURCE ... Received with thanks from the author.

READ FOR A CHALLENGE? ... No.

MY THOUGHTS ... Written whilst caring for her ailing master, Mary Ann Sate, puts pen to paper and tells her life story. A story that is lost only to be uncovered some years later during a house renovation. 

Set out to look like verse (you could be forgiven for initially believing this to be an extended poem) and with not a single full stop in its 600+ pages. Brave and ambitious; yes, but, it worked to great effect ... once you got used to the rhythm.

Meticulously researched, tackling sweeping social change; seamlessly weaving social commentary in a sprawling, evocative, very human story that swept me away. Its heroine utterly beguiling; her voice authentic; ordinary and yet simultaneously extraordinary. This is well worth a look if you are looking not only for some good historical fiction but also something that is deliciously different.