Saturday, 28 April 2018
Spotlight on other books I've read this month - April
The Gaslight Stalker (Esther & Jack Enright Mysteries #1)
by David Field
Published by Sapere Books
The Gaslight Stalker is author David Field’s take on the Jack the Ripper case, crossing fact and fiction to give the reader an eerie tale set in the back alleys and dingy pubs of 1880’s London.
The Gaslight Stalker is the first in a series featuring Esther Jacobs and Jack Enright.
In book one the Ripper is on the loose and a friend of Esther’s is murdered. Constable Jack Enright arrives to interview Esther. Esther considers herself a bit of a sleuth and her keen observation skills are a welcome help with the case. Jack becomes smitten with Esther and a romance ensues.
I’m not well versed on the Jack the Ripper case so cannot comment on any authenticity of the murder element, although it has the feel of a well researched story with excellent characterization and sense of place.
At times the story jumped from one scene to another without a break and I found this confusing.
The mystery was good and although predictable it didn’t spoil my reading pleasure.
Jack and Esther’s romance was sweet and had plenty of ups and downs which elicited sympathy from this reader.
The Gaslight Stalker is a superb start to a new series.
With thanks to Sapere Books for my copy.
Content: coarse language, sexual references, descriptive murder scenes.
Published by Head of Zeus
A Place to Remember is told in two time frames. Ava in her late 50’s and with failing health looks back 30 years to her 20’s and a love that ended abruptly sending her around the world on a quest in her late father’s honour. Present day Ava is a highly successful business woman who has brought up two children and run a large bakery franchise on her own. Her only regret is leaving the B & B Ivy-May, where she worked as a kitchen-hand, and the owners’ son, John, behind 30 years previously.
The books main theme is one of lost love but the story runs through many themes that are relevant and important to life on the land. Issues such as keeping rural towns alive and ensuring the townsfolk have access to doctors and schools, diversification of properties such as incorporating a B & B or retreats into a cattle farm, recycling and responsible land and cattle management, the burden of debt on farmers and their families, have been scattered throughout the story.
The story captures the fervour of love and the despair of a love lost, but never forgotten.
McLeod writes women that are strong, determined and extremely likeable.
There is so much depth to this story it’s hard for me to include everything in my review. Parent/ child relationships are also another driving force throughout the story.
Finally; the setting of A Place to Remember, Ivy-May near Candlebark Creek in the Capricornia region of Queensland was a character in itself, beautifully described, evocative and alluring it will have many a reader eager to experience the setting in real life.
McLeod’s entertaining and witty sense of humour is scattered throughout the story.
Highly recommended for lovers of romance, secrets and rural settings.
Book #10 in the Australian Women Writers Challenge
Book #6 in the Book lover Book reviews Aussie author challenge.
Dragon of the Month Club (Middle Grade fantasy)
by Iain Reading
Published by: Self published
Ayana has recently moved to a new town and a new school. To escape the school bully she takes refuge in the local library where she meets Tyler and they soon become firm friends. In the Library they come across a magical book that adds new pages each month with instructions on conjuring a different dragon each time. After filling out a form in the book they soon find themselves enrolled in the Dragon of the Month Club. Some are easy to conjure whilst others will take more time and skill. When one of the spells goes wrong they are pulled into a magical world filled with danger.
I loved the idea that the magical world they entered was actually Tyler’s bedroom which had come to life. As they entered each story book he had on his bed they faced different perils requiring problem solving and team work to overcome.
Tyler’s bedroom had turned into an animated world. The bedspread of islands, palms and oceans were now all real, every book a new adventure from China to Victorian London, where they meet Sherlock Holmes. They encounter the worms and sand hills of Dune and the scissor man from Grimm’s fairytales.
The idea of conjuring dragons from the elements (water, steam, wood, sand) was unique but I felt the dragons could have featured more and been more significant to the story.
Reading’s stories are educational as well as entertaining. The author included fun facts, about the stories the children ventured through, at the end of the book.
I really enjoyed this story suitable for ages 7 – 10 (please see content rating). It was extremely readable but to become a 5 star read it need a few things:
Explore themes fully – the bullying of Ayana caught my attention and empathy then petered out.
Equality in characters- in the author’s attempt to create a strong female role in Ayana he has inadvertently made Tyler look weak. I’m hoping Tyler will come to the fore in book 2.
Recommended for children that enjoy magical realism.
CONTENT: cautionary tales – may scare sensitive children. Characters say the words “bollocks” (in the sense of meaning nonsense) and “crap”.
My thanks to the author via Book Publicity Services for my review copy.
Little Gods (Literary Fiction)
by Jenny Ackland
Published by Allen & Unwin
Little Gods is a story of a regular family. Three sisters so very different, yet bonded by blood. Thistle- the philosopher, she believes in speaking up and speaking the truth. Audra- quiet, invisible, almost ghost like very rarely seen or heard. Rue- a catastrophizing mother who believes children should be protected from life and kept away from harsh realities. They are close but also annoy each other deeply. They don’t have deep and meaningful conversations. They bottle up their emotions just like any ordinary family. What struck me is the realness of the characters. This story is not escapism; it’s a stark look at reality.
Part literary fiction, part coming-of-age, Ackland’s writing is lyrical and original. A touching story that raises the question of how much or how little should we tell our children. Does withholding a truth really protect them?
Narrated by 12 year old tomboy Olive, she knows how to manipulate her peers. She’s not scared of anything especially the Sands boys. She likes to ask questions to know the how and whys of the world. When someone mentions she once had a sister she is determined to find out the truth even if it means listening in to conversations and piecing together snippets of information to formulate her own truths.
If you grew up during the 70’s or 80’s Little Gods is a nostalgic trip through childhood from going to the local pool to buying a razz and riding your bike through the local bush, Little Gods is authentically Australian.
Little Gods is a heartfelt coming-of-age featuring a young girl who is wilful, fanciful and brave and through her Ackland has captured the essence of 1980’s Australia.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my uncorrected proof copy.
Book #11 in the Australian Women Writers challenge
Book #7 in the Book lovers book reviews Aussie author challenge.