Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver – Book Review

Dara and Nick are sisters who were close – very different personalities, but close. Then there’s a car accident and everything changed.

The book is told in chapters listed as ‘before’ and ‘after’ and from the point of view of each of the two sisters as well as pieces of writing by and about them. It’s a thriller, and so as the story goes along, information is dripped to the reader bit by bit, right until the end.

It’s hard to put it down once you start reading because you need to know what’s next… what is the truth? And just when you suspect one thing, there’s a twist and pow!

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon – Audio Book Review

Florence lives a pretty happy existence in her retirement home, hanging out with her mate Elsie. But when a man comes to the home who looks exactly like a man who died when Elsie was young, strange things start to happen.

It’s a really interesting book. I feel as though there aren’t a lot of books written about elderly people having active lives. For many, I think once people are in a home, they are forgotten. Any kind of deviant behaviour (like autonomy over self, over time, over personality) is frowned upon. I think it’s even more rare for a book to be written from the perspective of someone with dementia. In these ways, this is quite a rare book. I’d highly recommend it as an audiobook – Paula Wilcox is an excellent narrator, and I’ve just discovered that you can search Audible by narrator, so that’s exciting.

The Widow by Fiona Barton – Audio Book Review

A young girl went missing, lifted from her front yard. No-one was charged, and the one man who seemed to be the likely kidnapper was protected by an alibi from his wife Now, he is dead, hit by a bus, and the police think that his death may free her to reveal the truth, only she’s standing by her story. Add into the mix a journalist who wants her story.

Barton tells this story expertly, jumping from perspective and through time to reveal the complexities behind a case like this, from those directly impacted to the wider view of the police, the media and the rest of the world.

The English Spy by Daniel Silva – Book Review

It’s a story of revenge, of tying up ends, of killing to safe others and I got a bit confused. Though I think that’s partially because this is the fifteenth novel in the Gabriel Allon series by Daniel Silva and I read it without having read any of the previous fourteen. I mean, I followed what was going on, and I had a fair idea of who was doing what to who and why, but still, there were a lot of characters I didn’t know, and I think the advantage of reading the others would be that you’d have a great idea of who all these people were.

The Fragments by Toni Jordan – Book Review

Caddie Walker is a bookseller working in Brisbane in the eighties who has a passion for the work of Inga Karlssen, an author from the thirties who wrote one book and then died in a mysterious fire at the publishers where her second book was about to be printer, taking this tome with her. Or did it? It’s a mystery that’s haunted the book world and after meeting a mysterious stranger outside an exhibition of fragments of Kalrssen’s work, Caddie decides to investigate for herself.

I found this engaging. It seems unlikely that she could possibly uncover anything that hadn’t already existed, but this was in a world prior to the internet or mobile phones, when it could be a mystery tip that reveals things. And I loved it.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – Book Review

The Dutch House is a strange, large house where Danny and his sister, Maeve grew up. But after their mother left, their father remarried and they were displaced by this new family. They grow and find their places in the world, seeking home and some kinds of revenge.

I’m not sure if it’s set in a similar world, but this reminded me a lot in feel to one of my favourite books, The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I found it kind of fascinating and frustrating – that feeling that children should be valued and protected and when this doesn’t happen, it can be confusing as to why. Especially when told through an unreliable narrator.

The Copper Beech by Maeve Binchy – Book Review

It’s a small town, there are a whole lot of families whose lives intertwine. Classic Maeve Binchy. For me, I did enjoy this, but it’s not my fave of hers. A small town with all these interlinking aspects? I prefer Echoes, or Light a Penny Candle, or Firefly Summer. But if you love these by Binchy, and you want to read something similar but not re-read a fave, The Copper Beech will do.

The Coconut Children by Vivian Pham – Book Review

Cabramatta in the nineties. Sonny and Vince grew up next door, but as teenagers theirs lives are quite different. Vince is just out of youth detention, hangs with a rough crowd who are into intimidation, crime and partying, but Sonny is a good girl, trying to find where she fits in her world. But perhaps their lives aren’t as far apart as appears.

I loved this, despite all the challenges. Neither Sonny nor Vince have easy lives or families, and the fact that they can hang onto their connection despite how different their worlds are is heartwarming. This book is Pham’s first, and I believe she is very young writer. I look forward to more wonder writing from her.

The Ballad of Songbrids and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – Book Review

A prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy, this tells the story of Coriolanus Snow and how he became the villain. And it’s fascinating. Reading it, I wanted to be on his side. He had a tough time of things, and there was hope that he would go the right way. Yet, of course, he couldn’t come good. He always had to become the evil villain. And that made the reading of this really fascinating… almost like watching a favourite movie and hoping that maybe this time, things will go better. Very clever, and lovely to be back in the world Collins created.