May-June, 2015: New adult books reviewed by Janet Croft

The more stars, the better the reading…..


The Book of the People, how to read the Bible, by A.N. Wilson. PB from Atlantic and Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99

This book gives the author’s opinion about how the Bible ought to be read. Whilst it meanders through his experiences with the Bible, and with authors who have sought to discover the ‘historical’ Christ through various sources in the Bible and other literature, it is also the story of his continuing association with a woman, now dead, called “L’ who seems to have shared many ideas with this author. It was obviously a platonic relationship about beliefs which both held dear, and which they explored together. Wilson believes that each generation must read the Bible, and make contact with it as is appropriate for the times in which we live. He decries the fundamentalists who insist that the original setting and ideas of the Bible stories must be upheld in their original form; he believes that for all of us, we must read and interpret the stories of the Bible in terms which connect with our current experience. The book is discursive, but quite readable.

*Money, Master of the Game, by Tony Robards. PB from Simon and Schuster. RRP $29.99

Many books are written about how to become wealthy. Robards gives what appear to be the seven steps to financial freedom. It is a complicated book; the depth of detail provided is possibly more than what somebody who is starting to build up their capital could use. There is one section where he invites seven of the super wealthy and successful (in financial terms anyway) of the world. Such advice must be sound, but it is not necessarily applicable to everybody. I could not get interested enough to read it all–the detail about superannuation laws for example is only appropriate for the US. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, there are a lot of good ideas in the book.

***Follow your Gut. The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes. By Rob Knight, with Brendan Buhler. HB from TED and Simon and Schuster. RRP $16.99

The microbes which exist in and on your body weigh about one and a half kilos. They have ten times more DNA than the rest of the body, and integrate in many, many ways with our lives. This is a book that probably raises more questions than it answers. The research being carried out, and also yet to be done about the inter-relationships cover health, obesity, diabetes, possibly autism, asthma and many digestive issues. It is a complicated topic that the author covers in a manner which made me think about the over use of antibiotics to treat disease, not only in humans but also in livestock. It is one of the most interesting and readable, thought provoking small books I have ever read.

Daily Greens, Four day Cleanse, by Shauna Martin. HB from Murdoch books, RRP $24.99

I read this book yesterday, and now need to decide whether I will cleanse, and see what benefits I obtain from it. The preparation involves a week of healthy green smoothies, followed by four days of green drinks. All the recipes look quite appealing, with not too much kale, and pleasant flavourings like ginger and lemon. The author began her move to green juice drinks after she and her sister both underwent radical surgery for breast cancer, almost at the same time, when in their early thirties. Martin is convinced that her robust good health now is the result of a massive switch in her diet, and to the continued programme of green juices with which she starts her day, and also uses for many other meals. I admit to feeling a bit confused about why some of these green vegetable fans suggest that green juice is the way to go, while others decry the use of juice, saying that it is the fibre in the smoothies which does all the good…

This is a very attractively presented book—lavishly set out, with coloured photos of each and every smoothie, and juice concoction, and easy to follow instructions for all the recipes. The ingredients too, are easily obtained in my large NSW town, so I expect they would be available anywhere. For those who feel they will benefit from a greener diet…

**From India with Love, by Latika Bourke. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $24.99

Latika Bourke was one of three children adopted by an Australian family from India as a baby. She also had five biological brothers and sisters. Growing up in this large, loving family in rural Australia made her very Australian, although her Indian features made it apparent that she had been adopted. As Latika grew up she always resented the questions about where she really came from. It was after she completed a degree in media studies at CSU Bathurst, and had spent time in Britain that she and her partner decided to travel to India and find the orphanage that had cared for her as a new baby. This is a book which encompasses many issues. Latika’s trips to India made her realise how fortunate she had been in the lottery of life and how caring the nuns had been. Although she acknowledges that not all adoptions work, she is happy to identify herself as Australian. It is an easy to read, interesting and heart-warming story. In fact it is a pleasure to read. Suitable for teenagers, and adults of course.

***Stuffocation, Living More with Less, by James Wallman. PB from Viking and Penguin. RRP $29.99

This would have to be one of the most engaging, and inspiring books of the year so far. As its title suggests, we in the Western world are suffocating in our own stuff. We have so much stuff many of us don’t have room for it in our homes, and hire space to store it all! This is certainly a book which champions the way forward with less clutter, which will then lead to a more serene, cost-efficient lifestyle. We have all seen the shows on TV which have presented houses where there is so much stuff that the people cannot even exist there comfort ably.   Non-western cultures do not suffer the same problems. Our western lives seem to have been imbued with a ‘mantra’ which says ‘more is better and more successful’. but the social experiments outlined in this book prove clearly that we do not need 80% of what we have. Time to have a severe attack of the ‘de-clutter bug!’

*Granta, 131 the Magazine of New Writing, edited by Sigrid Rausling. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $24.99

Among others, this collection has contributions from Janine di Giovanni from Baghdad, Charles Glass on the life of an Armenian family in a village near Aleppo, Syria, following the jihadist occupation, Edward Luttwak on the middle managers of the CIA, Binyavanga Wainnaina on a gay village in Ghana, and what happens with a man in the village goes to prison for homosexual crimes. There are also chapters of new fiction from China Mieville and Mark Slouka and some poetry.   One of the themes behind the choice of inclusions is to raise awareness of contested ideas around the world. A lot of the writing requires the reader to move out of any comfort zone, and to confront the mess other humans are making of life for countless thousands, mostly in African and middle eastern countries. This will be a great book to give to HSC students, to help them learn about writing styles, tone, themes, and the art of understatement so that the reader must fill in gaps via imagination. At the end there is a visual presentation of the analysis of a short story—quite fascinating, and certainly useful for some senior students. Excellent reading for all actual and budding authors, plus students of current affairs.

***Musings from the Inner Duck, by Michael Leunig. PB from Penguin. RRP $24.99

Michael has not changed his approach and outlook on life, society, and our foibles and failing. Here our inadequacies are revealed again and again through his gently whimsical cartoons. He has been described as a visual poet and I feel this is an apt description as he introduces issues like the merits of a carbon tax and the use of a GPS, here called the global positioning sausage—and of course all through the eyes of Mr curly. This is a gem of a book for relaxed musing. The humour, and unspoken comment on the way in which we are asked to buy rubbishy items which we don’t need is delightfully revealed on the page where “A Man goes shopping in a Department store”! For all ages from about 13 up.

*****Gittins, by Ross Gittins. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $32,99

It is not often that you read a book where, whilst reading, you continually think about who, other than yourself, would enjoy the book. This is one of those rare occasions. Ross Gittins sees himself as an economic journalist with a job which provides information and interest to his readers. He quotes Lord Northcliffe, who defines news as ‘something, someone, somewhere doesn’t want published’. During his forty years of work for the Sydney morning Herald, Gittins has been close to and knowledgeable about what happens in government, both with people and policies. His thoughts on the style by which news is broken on TV; the future of newspapers in the digital age; his ideas on characteristics and abilities to look for when hiring staff; his thoughts on writing styles which will hold peoples’ attention, and some lessons on English gramma and punctuation are all reasons why a wide range of people and backgrounds will, and probably should, read this book. I have enjoyed it immensely and have great respect for the thoughtfulness and integrity of the writer.

Very Good Lives, by J.K Rowling. HB from Hachette. RRP about $15

Subtitled, ‘The fringe benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination”, this is the text of a speech given at commencement to students at Harvard in 2008. It presents Rowlings’ ideas about how we can and should embrace failure, and how we can use our imagination to benefit others. It is an intensely personal story; with lots of examples from Rowling’s background in her post graduate years before the dramatic change in her fortunes following the release and immediate success of the Harry Potter books. All the proceeds from this small, but very readable book go to various charities, some at Harvard, and the rest in Britain.

**Modern Australian Usage, A Practical Guide for Writers and Editors, by Nicholas Hudson.(3rd Ed) PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $35

This is another book for my bookshelves. As a tutor I am faced almost daily with children—mostly the teenage ones—who have not heard of ‘irony’, or ‘sarcasm’ or a raft of other technical terms used by students of English. Teachers do a wonderful job with analogies, onomatopoeia, and quite a few other terms, but there are so many for senior students to learn and apply to their analysis, that they really need a book like this which is arranged alphabetically, at hand to check the meaning, and to read the examples of usage provided. It is a comprehensive guide. There are lots of comparisons between Australian (usually based on British) and American usage, and most of the examples are easily understood by most secondary aged students. For example, to say that teenagers use ‘bad’ and ‘sick’ to suggest ‘good’ in an ironical way is very easy for the kids to understand. Some of the articles are quite long, and make for good reading just for interest—including some which present how changes in sexist language have made problems for other languages, such as French.   It’s an erudite and interesting guide for all those involved with writing, and for those who teach or edit.

***The Internet is not the Answer, by Andrew Keen. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99 ( and as Ebook)

This provides a negative, and quite chilling assessment of the value to mankind of the proliferation of Internet use. Keen asserts that the only people to benefit from the web are the small group of “young, privileged, white, male, and Silicon-Valley multi-millionaires.” Why the negativity? The internet has changed everything, from the face to face of meetings and social occasions, to our reading habits, and correspondence with family, to business, banking, cars, navigation—education, on-line shopping, use of taxis or Uber, and of course crime. Such a rapid transformation of western society, and, progressively the rest of the world as well, have all been transformed in only about 25 years and huge areas of collateral damage are emerging, in ways which were never predicted by the earliest web users. In particular, individual privacy has suffered. While the first 200 pages of the book outlines the developments of the past 25 years, Keen then presents in his final chapter a five part plan for the next twenty five years to rethink the web, empower government authority, protect and restore privacy, and consider how we want the web to be a tool which protects, rather than sacrifices humanity and turns us into press button brains. He believes that the most important single factor is to regrow the use and appreciation of human brain memory, and history.   It is a complex book—the more one works with the internet, and business, the easier it will be to follow and understand, but the message is really clear—if we wish to protect humanity, we MUST reinvent the web.

Buy me the Sky, by Xinran. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

China’s one child policy is recognised as a very effective way to control their huge population. One estimate has said that it reduced potential births for the next thirty years. Xinran was born in China but now lives in England, and only has one child. She became interested in the long-term effects of such a radical policy. Chinese families had relied on multiple children to look after the elderly and be a backup for childhood deaths. What Xinran found was that most of the single children became very precious, and the entire focus of the parents. Many grew up unable to look after themselves, relate to other people and resentful of their parents for treating them as pets, not children. There are lots of stories from situations in Britain and New Zealand for example, about young Chinese who have been handicapped in their adult life because of their limited childhood experiences. It makes very interesting reading. Social engineering, like every thing else can have lots of unexpected results.

****I gave a Gonski, by David Gonski. PB from Penguin. RRP $32.99

This is a book of selected speeches. Gonski became a household name when he was asked to report to the Australian government on school funding—private, public and secular. Initially, he trained as a lawyer, then moved into merchant banking and now is chairman of two of Australia’s biggest companies. He has also worked for various charities, and is chancellor of UNSW. Gonski had often been asked to write about his life. Instead he has assembled this condensed series of speeches. The range of subjects is considerable, and the speeches contain much of what I call wisdom. From gender diversity on company boards, to the role of a chairman, and of company directors, to the topic of doing business in Asia and philanthropy the range is considerable. There is even a chapter about how it feels to turn sixty! Initially I had thought it might be a book for those who aspire to become a company director, but there is a lot about life in general as well. It is a book which I thoroughly enjoyed, and will remember with enthusiasm.



**Toxic, by Jaime Doward. PB from Murdoch Books. RRP $29.99

This is a big story about espionage. The CIA had established a bank so it could have a clearer understanding of the money which floats around the world’s terror organisations. Is the bank bankrupt, and out of control, or controlled by the terrorists? Kate Pendragon is a runner, a financial analyst seconded to British MI5. She has picked up that something huge is about to happen. Both the massive Saudi funds and the CIA Higgs Bank were beginning to take positions to be in the right place when a catastrophe occurs. What will be the trigger to set it off? This is the debut novel for Jaime Doward—it has a British background and is an excellent, fast moving story. A very good read.

A Place called Winter, by Patrick Gale. PB from Hachette. RRP $29.99

Harry Cane came from a privileged background. He did not need to work to live, married well and was devoted to their young daughter. He became entangled in a scandalous affair which meant he had to abandon his family and life style, and emigrate to Canada to try to establish himself in a society totally alien from his past. It is a well-written story, loosely based on a real life family mystery. Harry begins to farm, and to form relationships with the brother and sister who are now his next-door neighbours. At times the story is brutal, at others though it is tender and intimate, and there is a surprising ending which makes one marvel at the ways in which some people live and love.

***The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George. PB from Hachette. RRP $29.99

Jean Perdu lives what would seem to many to be an idyllic life. He is a bookseller who has the rare ability, referred to as being a ‘literary apothecary’ to recommend to various readers, books which suit them well. This is particularly so with readers with troubled souls. Perdu has worked for twenty years from a large restored barge moored on the Seine. The love of Perdus’ life fled Paris, but left behind for him a letter that he was not to read for twenty years. When he eventually did read the letter, he realised that he should have read it earlier, but immediately set off on the barge, along the canals of France, with two cats, and as companion, Max Jordan, whose only book had been a best seller, but who then suffered severe writer’s block to try to find his past lover. This is a book of fascinating personalities, and a voyage of love and hope. It is great to read a book which leaves you feeling happy!

The Love song of Miss Queenie Hennesey, by Rachel Joyce. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

The author has called this book a companion to her earlier novel “the Unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry”, which I read, loved and reviewed several years ago. Queenie Hennesey was the person who was the destination of Harold Fry ‘s pilgrimage. He walked the length of Great Britain, only to find her on the brink of death and unable to communicate with him. Here we read the reminiscences of Queenie, as she narrates them. Queenie believed that she dictated her thoughts to a nun at the excellent hospice where she then lived. In reality, the nun reports that Queenie just records nonsense, and her words are unintelligible.. The thoughts and reminiscences make perfect sense to Queenie; they were about her friendship, unspoken love and memories of her time with Harold, when he would drive her to work, and she would be the passenger. The book fills out the story of Harold Fry in a very satisfying, although somewhat sad manner.

Tiddas, by Anita Heiss. PB from Simon and Schuster. RRP about $30

This is the tale of five young women from Wagga Wagga, who all move to live in Brisbane. The girls pass through typical 21st century social dilemmas, career and work vs. motherhood, playing the field with men; then, as wives, sometimes post divorce trying to re-establish themselves, and deal with the possibility of alcoholism. The story doesn’t really go anywhere. Each young woman is presented with a series of issues, and they all survive. I suppose that it is an achievement that you all live their lives according to preferred measures of happiness. There are no noticeable stand out characters, which is probably why the story does not give much of a buzz. OK, if it appeals.

*Pleasantville, by Attica Locke. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99

Pleasantville is a high class black neighbourhood of Houston, Texas. It is 1996, and the mayoral election approaches and America is thinking ahead to the presidential election that gave America George Bush. All elections are hard fought, and dirty tricks can be used. Jay Porter has been a very successful lawyer in the area, winning some significant cases for local people. He would like to wind down his work load, but is roped into the defence of Neal Hawthorn, grandson of Alex Hawthorn who is the clear favourite to become Houston’s first black mayor. Jay is convinced that Neal Hawthorn has been made a scapegoat for the murder of three young girls. It is a well written, intriguing drama, albeit with a lot of time spent in the court room.

***The Beachside Guest, by Vanessa Greene. PB from Hachette. RRP $29.99

This is a delightful pleasant read about three women who, as teenagers, spend an idyllic holiday on the Greek island of Paros. They stay in a windmill guesthouse, and all take fond memories of their time there back with them to England. When the Windmill guesthouse comes up for sale, two of the three decide to return to Paros, and ‘do it up’ They renew past relationships and make new ones, and it is this time which is the meat of the story. The engaging romances and girly independence was fun, and they certainly took me with them to Paros.

Goodbye Sweetheart, by Marion Halligan. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99

William is a successful lawyer who has a heart attack and dies while swimming. He was in his third marriage, with one child from each wife. The book tells the story from each wife, and also from the perspective of the children. There is also a current mistress, who feels she should be included. The result of all these narratives was that the story was too fragmented, and I found it difficult to remain interested.

McKellan’s run, by Nicole Hurley-Moore. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99

When Violet married, she made an error of judgment which affected her whole life—she married the wrong McKellan brother. This is a long running love story, which runs a predictable line. It must appeal to somebody, but it was not me.

The Cellar, by Minette Walters. HB from Random House. RRP$29.99

Muna had been collected from an orphanage, although Mr and Mrs Songoli had forged papers which stated that she was their niece. Muna was brought up as a slave, kept in a cellar, and nothing in her life was good. She had no education, was unable to speak English, raped by Mr Songoli, treated badly by the two sons and hidden away by Mrs Songoli. The only reason to persist with this story-because it is both brutal and bitter– is to discover the revenge that Muna was able to extract from the family. She is much smarter that they thought, but possibly just as evil as the rest of her adoptive family. A chilling story, but quite plausible.

The A-Z of you and Me, by James Hannah. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

Ivo is in a hospice—middle aged and mixed up in his thinking. Sheila is his nurse, and suggests that Ivo play an alphabet game to pass the time, and maybe sort out his head at the same time. The result is a readable series of recollections—quite lively, and easy to read and they reveal Ivo to have been a person who has loved deeply. Not all memories are happy however, and Ivo doe not want to see Mal.   OK, if it appeals.

Leap, by Myfanwy Jones. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $26.99

This is the story of Joe, and how his life took a dramatic, persistent downwards spiral after his school time sweetheart died, hours after they had had a row at a friends party, and Joe had left. I did not enjoy the story, because it seemed inevitable that the title would come into play.

Ghost Flight, by Bear Grylls. PB from Hachette. RRP $29.99

This is the first novel by the well known TV adventure man, and star of “Man vs Wild” and “The Island”. Jaeger has not been a happy man since the abduction and death of his wife and son. He is persuaded to join an expedition to the Amazon, hopefully to find a mysterious WW2 war plane, supposed to have been carrying a secret cargo which was of importance to the whole Western world, and maybe to contain clues to the murderers of his family. Jaeger joins a team of ex elite commando style adventurers, and the team included the lovely but sinister Russian Irena Narov. The mystery harks back to Nazi Germany, and it is imperative that Jaeger reaches the wreck first.   This story will appeal to teenage boys, as well as to adults. Grylls would benefit from some lessons about how to use complex sentences to provide variety in a narrative. As it is the story makes tedious reading.

***Stay with Me, by Maureen McCarthy. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $22.99

Maureen McCarthy is an Australian author, mostly, to date of teenage fiction. She has a large and appreciative audience for her novels—often with a social theme. Tess was not a studious and ambitious student like her sister. When Tess was invited to Byron Bay for a holiday, she stayed, found a job, then entered a violent and abusive relationship, and had a baby.   At this time she had abandoned contact with her family but then needed to plan how to escape from Jed, particularly since he has been cruel to Nellie, their daughter. Jed is on drugs and has threatened to kill Tess. A chance meeting in the library with a young couple allows her to succeed with her escape. I suspect that this story will stay in my mind as long as McCarthy’s earlier book The Convent has!   Whilst it is a gripping novel, it is also a sobering story about abusive relationships; how often they occur in our society, and how difficult it can be to escape them. The book is suitable for both older teenagers, say 16 and over, and adults. (I will publish this review in the adult section as well).

Where they found her, by Kimberley McCreight. PB from Simon and Schuster. RRP $29.99

Freelance journalist Molly Sanderson is called to cover the story of a dead baby found on a creek bank near the university at Ridgedale. Everybody is concerned that Molly is exposing herself to too many memories about her own lost baby. It is a complicated story which gradually bring more and more former secrets into the open—the characters have more in common than anyone imagined. I have reached the stage where I try to avoid any book with the work ‘dark’ in the blurbs. “Dark’ seems to be a good indication that the plot is about more unpleasantness than pleasure.

**Theodore Boone, by John Grisham. PB from Hodder and Stoughton, and Hachette. RRP $29.99

Theo is a fourteen-year-old boy, son of very busy small city lawyers. He has a better relationship with his paternal uncle Ike, than with his parents. On a school trip to Washington, Theo recognises one of America’s ten most wanted criminals. Theo talks to Ike, and they report the sighting to the FBI. There is a one hundred thousand dollar reward for the capture of this crim. The story involves Theo, with Ike helping to identify, and to find a reluctant witness so the crim can be convicted. John Grisham has written some 27 novels—this is for a new generation of readers, possibly mid-late teenagers.

The Trivia Man, by Deborah O’Brien. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

Kevin Dwyer lives for trivia competitions. He is a fifty-year-old accountant whose only friend is his eight-year-old nephew who is also too focused on facts to fit in with his peers. It is a book about personalities—the trivia team ranges from a domineering doctor to a shy teacher of Latin, Maggie. Maggie has spent most of her life loving the wrong man– three times married Josh. Nowhere in the book is any syndrome named—maybe it should be one of the quiz questions. I enjoyed reading the story. It is quite appealing and really shows that we are all different, and that everybody fits somewhere.

Prey, by James Carol. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $19.99

Jefferson Winter once worked for the FBI as a profiler. His father had been abusive, and eventually was executed as a serial killer. While Jefferson is having a quiet meal in a New York eatery, a woman stabs and kills the cook. Jefferson feels that she killed in order to gain his attention, and linked the murder to one that had been solved six years previously. Winter and this woman play a complex game—they are both extremely intelligent, but adversaries, not friends. Serial killing and profiling are a common theme in American murder mystery novels. James Carol writes a good story and he shows clearly how small details can reveal good clues. Prey is a good example of the genre—it is not crude, and there are not too many bodies or unpleasant people.

**Gun Control, by Peter Corris. PB from Allen and Unwin. RRP $29.99

Cliff Harvey has featured in many of Corris’s forty plus published novels. It is a pleasure to read intriguing Australian crime fiction, rather than American. Cliff is getting older and wiser; he is a private investigator with good contacts. He has been hired by a business man to find out what happened to cause the death, by shooting of his son, a death which has been listed as a suicide. This is a fast-moving world of crooked cops, bad bikies and dysfunctional families. It is a really good read.

Solitude Creek, by Jeffrey Deaver. PB from Hachette. RRP $29.99

Catherine Dance works for the California Bureau of Investigation as a sleuth. Antioch March like to set up a situation where people panic in an enclosed area, with the threat of fire and not be able to escape. March feels successful when people are crushed and killed. This is a complicated story and a lot seems to happen at once. Dance is a widow, with two children and two serious admirers who both want to marry her. Her teenage son has fallen into bad company, her boss has lost faith in her and is trying to demote her. I would have to say that I prefer Deavers’ stories where Lincoln Rhyme is the investigator but this is an OK story.

Missing you, by Kylie Kaden. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

Any story which involves a high needs child will involve emotions, and frustrations, and the possible breakdown of relationships. This is no exception. When Ryan and Aisha marry, Ryan was hesitant about having children. When Eli was born, and was high needs, the marriage disintegrated, and Aisha ended up walking out, leaving Eli with Aisha’s elderly father Patrick. The story is told as a multiple narrative, but hangs together well, although I admit to surprise at the ending of the story, when everything turns out better than I had anticipated.

***Northern Heat, by Helene Young. PB from Penguin. RRP $32.99

Two families had been torn apart by tragedy. Dr Kirsty Dark had married an older man, who had a strong urge to control lives around him. She moved to Cooktown with her teenage daughter to start again. Conor had been working for a major finance company when he realised the company was corrupt. As a whistleblower he was a target for the Russian criminal who killed his wife and daughter. He moved to Cooktown under a new name, living on a sailing boat, and coaching children at the YMCA. The story is romantic suspense, with descriptions of life in abusive families. The characters are strongly drawn, there is suspense and lives are in danger. This is a fine story, but it is a book to read in one sitting, so be prepared.

The Mountain Story, by Lori Lansens. PB from Simon and Schuster. RRP $29.99

The mountain had always attracted Wolf Truly. As a teenager he spend a lot of time on the mountain, but this came to a tragic end when his friend Ralph injured himself badly in a drug fuelled accident. Wolf had decided to kill himself on the cable car, however on the way up he offers to guide three women to his favourite lake. They all end up lost and trapped in very bad weather for four days. It is a test of all their characters as they face wild animals, exposure and their own natures. It was OK, but not a story which inspired.

Down Outback Roads, by Alissa Callen. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

This author’s first novel Beneath Outback Skies was impressive. It presented life in a small NSW town with the authenticity you only find when someone has lived in such a place. In this novel, the rural background and small town is the same, but the characters are different. Kree and Ewan both have devils and tragedies in their past to overcome—emotional baggage and the financial woes of a tough time in the bush at the moment do not help. It is light reading, but the characterization is strong, and it all seems plausible.

I Take You, by Eliza Kennedy. PB from Random House. RRP $32.99

Phew—this is quite a salacious read. Lily Wilder is a lawyer, with a dream job and friends who adore her. For better or worse, Lily is engaged to Will, an archaeologist. Are the pair well matched? As the wedding approaches, Lily questions more and more whether marriage is the right step for her. Her relationship with Will is hot and steamy, but monogamy? Is that what either of them wants, and can they make it work? Lots of this book seemed repetitive, and I wearied about the indecisiveness, but have no doubt that others will enjoy it.











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