Friday, 8 November 2019

Book Club Book Review: Taking Tom Murray Home by Tim Slee

Taking Tom Murray Home
Tim Slee

Publisher: Harper Collins Australia 
Publication date: 22 July 2019
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Format Read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty and Lace 


Bankrupt dairy farmer Tom Murray decides he'd rather sell off his herd and burn down his own house than hand them over to the bank. But something goes tragically wrong, and Tom dies in the blaze. His wife, Dawn, doesn't want him to have died for nothing and decides to hold a funeral procession for Tom as a protest, driving 350km from Yardley in country Victoria to bury him in Melbourne where he was born. To make a bigger impact she agrees with some neighbours to put his coffin on a horse and cart and take it slow - real slow.
But on the night of their departure, someone burns down the local bank. And as the motley funeral procession passes through Victoria, there are more mysterious arson attacks. Dawn has five days to get to Melbourne. Five days, five more towns, and a state ready to explode in flames...

Told with a laconic, deadpan wit, Taking Tom Murray Home is a timely, thought-provoking, heart-warming, quintessentially Australian story like no other. It's a novel about grief, pain, anger and loss, yes, but it's also about hope - and how community, friends and love trump pain and anger, every time.


Taking Tom Murray Home has a true Australian feel. The small farming community of Yardley bands together after Tom Murray is accidentally killed whilst burning down his own home. This was Tom’s act of defiance when the bank threatened to foreclose on his mortgage.
Narrated through 13 year old Jack Murray the story is heart-felt as Jack tries to understand his father’s death in his own way. We quite often get jack’s somewhat naive look on events.
Dawn Murray decides to pack Tom’s coffin on a milk cart drawn by a draft horse and take the trip to Melbourne, a journey of six days, where he will be buried. They garner much support along the way and with the inclusion of media and police Dawn has to remind everyone this is a funeral procession not a protest.
I quite enjoyed this story about people coming together to support each other but I’m not sure they achieved much. Told through the eyes of a thirteen year old the story is slow going and there isn’t much description of the surrounds. The inclusion of the condition of Analgesia was well plotted and believable. I don’t think I’ve come across this in a book before.

 My rating  4/5 
This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub 
and part of the Book Lover Book Review Aussie author challenge 
Tim Slee is an Australian journalist with a wanderlust. Born in Papua New Guinea to Australian parents who sprang from sheep country in the Mid-North and Far North of South Australia, he worked for several years for the Stock Journal in Adelaide before moving to Canberra and then Sydney where he worked for the Attorney General's Department. Since then he has lived in Denmark, Canada, Australia and is currently on contract in Denmark again with a multinational pharmaceutical company. Although, according to his favourite airline, he has been around the world with them 22 times and visited 54 countries, Australia is still his physical and emotional home base. Taking Tom Murray Home is his first novel, and the winner of the inaugural Banjo Prize 


Sunday, 3 November 2019

Book Review: Blue Moon by Lee Child #BRPreview

Blue Moon
Lee Child

It's a random universe, but once in a blue moon things turn out just right.

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Imprint: Bantam Press
Publication Date: 29th October 2019
Series: Jack Reacher #24
Genre: Crime / Thriller
Pages: 384
RRP: $32.99 AUD
Format Read: Uncorrected proof copy
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Better Reading

In a nameless city, two rival criminal gangs are competing for control. But they hadn’t counted on Jack Reacher arriving on their patch.

Reacher is trained to notice things.

He’s on a Greyhound bus, watching an elderly man sleeping in his seat, with a fat envelope of cash hanging out of his pocket. Another passenger is watching too ... hoping to get rich quick.

As the mugger makes his move, Reacher steps in.

The old man is grateful, yet he turns down Reacher’s offer to help him home. He’s vulnerable, scared, and clearly in big, big trouble.

What hold could the gangs have on the old guy? Will Reacher be in time to stop bad things happening?

Blue Moon reads as a standalone if, like me, you are new to the series.

When Reacher helps an elderly man after an attempted mugging he inadvertently gets caught up in the Albanian and Ukrainian turf wars in an unnamed American city.

Once Reacher becomes involved you know the odds move in your favour. But it’s not an easy road to recompense.

Reacher teams up with an unlikely bunch of civilians, Hogan an ex marine, Barton a musician, Vantresca an ex Army Commander and Abby a waitress to do battle with both the Albanian and the Ukrainian gangs. The fighting was brutal and bloody and I wondered whether this group would really shake it off so easily.

What starts as a minor take-over, in the city’s criminal underbelly, escalates to an out of control tit for tat as the two gangs have no idea what they are fighting over.

The story is filled with plenty of action and danger, including blow by blow descriptions as every situation is sized up in full detail.
The inclusion of dry humour is a respite from the violence. The body count is high in this novel. I lost count at forty-five!

If you are new to the series or already a Reacher fan this book will not disappoint. 


My rating  4/5

Photo Credit: Penguin Books
Lee Child is one of the world’s leading thriller writers. He was born in Coventry, raised in Birmingham, and now lives in New York. It is said one of his novels featuring his hero Jack Reacher is sold somewhere in the world every nine seconds. His books consistently achieve the number-one slot on bestseller lists around the world and have sold over one hundred million copies. Two blockbusting Jack Reacher movies have been made so far. He is the recipient of many awards, most recently the CWA’s Diamond Dagger for a writer of an outstanding body of crime fiction, the International Thriller Writers’ ThrillerMaster, and the Theakstons Old Peculier Outstanding Contribution to Crime Fiction Award.


Saturday, 26 October 2019

Book Bingo - Round 22 #BookBingo

Book Bingo is a reading challenge hosted by Theresa Smith Writes , Mrs B’s Book Reviews and The Book Muse. Every second Saturday, book bingo participants reveal which bingo category they have read and what book they chose. 

This week I have chosen the category ''A beloved classic"
and as we have had to do a few double up weeks to fit all the categories in I am also doing "A book written by an Australian woman more than 10 years ago".

A beloved classic:

For this category I have chosen 'Brer Rabbit Again by Enid Blyton'

I'm so glad I pulled this down from my shelves after many, many years. I remember as a child thinking how funny and tricky Brer Rabbit was. You would think a fox would be wily and cunning but Brer Rabbit outwits him every time and he can't quite figure out how.

"There is a trick somewhere!" thought Brer Wolf to himself.
"Brer Bear knew there was a trick somewhere. But what it was he could NOT think." 

The animals fight, steal and plot against each other and Brer Rabbit always comes out laughing in these wits against brawn tales.
Anthropomorphism has always been and will continue to be a part of children's literature. Using animals to act out real life situations can be less confrontational for children.

My much loved copy. At some stage the dust jacket has become torn so I have cut it out and sticky taped it to the cover. 😃

A book written by an Australian woman more than 10 years ago:

For this category I have chosen 'Odd One Out by Monica McInerney'
Published in 2006.

I would like to thank another bingo participant Jenny for this book idea. I wasn't sure what I would read for this category preferring to find books on my shelf rather than buy more. When I saw Jenny use this book I knew I had it on my shelf and it was the perfect choice.

Sylvie Devereaux comes from a Sydney based family of successful, artistic people. She was the dogsbody always running around doing jobs for her mother and two sisters. She organised their lives and she was good at it but they didn't appreciate her. Her older brother lived in Melbourne. She didn't see him often but he was always on her side. He encourages her to come to Melbourne for a holiday. Away from all the hectic organising Sylvie gets a chance to reevaluate her life.

I loved Sylvie immediately. She had a heart of gold and even though she was being manipulated by her family I don't think the family could see how they were treating her. She really needed to stand up for herself.
The story is full of natural banter and humour which makes for an easy and fun read. It's not all plain sailing for Sylvie as she has some highs and lows before she finally decides to do what she wants to do in life.
The character of Great Aunt Mill is wonderful. She is in her 70's. Her health is declining a bit and some of the family may think she is a bit loopy but she is always there for Sylvie with some sound advice and a few handy hints.


Friday, 25 October 2019

Book Club Book Review: Akin by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue

A new novel from the “literary prowess” (Quill & Quire) of Emma Donoghue, the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of The Wonder and Room.

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 29th September 2019
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: Trade paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher via Beauty & Lace

Noah is a retired New Yorker, who takes his 11-year-old great-nephew, Michael, on a trip to the stunning seaside and cosmopolitan city of Nice, France. The two have almost nothing in common, apart from Noah being widowed and Michael effectively an orphan. The clashes between old age and youth, antiquity and modernity are striking, even over what they do and what they eat. Michael speaks with the street-smart language of his age while Noah talks like a professor of chemistry, and they often can’t understand each other.

I really enjoyed this story of an inter-generational friendship, of sorts.

Retired Professor Noah Selvaggio’s wife passed away nine years ago. They had never had children preferring to dedicate themselves to their careers. He found himself now just going through the paces until it was his time. Noah decides to take a last trip, an eightieth birthday treat, back to his birthplace of Nice, France.

A call out of the blue lands him as temporary custodian of his great-nephew Michael. Left with no other choice Noah takes Michael on his trip. In his luggage he has an envelope of mysterious photographs Noah has found in his late mother’s belongings.

The story unfolds with 80 year old Noah trying to connect with 11 year old Michael who is in turn withdrawn and reticent, more interested in his online games than the site. Noah being a retired teacher used every opportunity to impart his vast knowledge of just about everything on to Michael. Some things were fascinating although sometimes I found myself, like Michael, just wanting him to stop talking. Michael was also able to teach Noah a thing or two about technology and searching for clues through the internet.  Solving the mystery of the photos helped to bring the two together for a common cause.

I really enjoyed the mystery surrounding Noah’s mother during WWII and how the clues slowly unfolded. I felt Noah and Michael’s interactions were well written and believable with both characters getting on my nerves at times.

Overall Akin is an endearing story of family with a compelling mystery as a side story.

This review is from the Beauty & Lace Book Club 
@beautyandlacemag #beautyandlacebookclub


  My rating   4/5

Photo: Biblio Images
Born in Dublin in 1969 and now living in Canada, Emma Donoghue is a writer of fiction, history, and drama for radio, stage and screen. She is best known for her international bestseller Room, shortlisted for the Man Booker and Orange Prizes and winner of the Commonwealth (Canada/Caribbean), Rogers Writers' Trust and Hughes & Hughes Irish Novel of the Year Awards. Her fiction ranges from contemporary (Stir-fry, Hood, Landing, Touchy Subjects) to historical (Slammerkin, The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, Life Mask, The Sealed Letter, Astray) to fairy-tale (Kissing the Witch).