Showing all posts tagged: TBR list

Again, Rachel, Marian Keyes

28 February 2022

Again, Rachel, Marian Keyes, book cover

Readers of Irish author Marian KeyesWalsh Family Series of novels first made the acquaintance of Rachel Walsh in 1997, in Rachel’s Holiday. Rachel was twenty-seven, and not in a good place. She’d just broken up with her boyfriend, Luke, and had been placed in rehabilitation by her family on account of her substance abuse.

Fast forward to 2021, and Rachel’s world is a better place. In fact, she has come full circle. She now works as a councillor at the facility she was admitted to twenty-five years earlier. Further, she’s in a happy relationship, and is getting along nicely with her mother and siblings. All up, everything seems to be going exceedingly well for Rachel. But her reverie is shattered by an out of the blue call from an old flame, in Again, Rachel (published by Penguin Books Australia, February 2022).

Just when she thought she had everything sorted out, and was settled, Rachel finds her life turned on its head. What is she to do? Follow her heart, and her ex, and venture back into a time and place she thought she’d left behind? Or remain in the predictable now? How fragile, it seems, is the life we believed to be firmly established…


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Impossible by Sarah Lotz

21 February 2022

Impossible by Sarah Lotz, book cover

What would you do if an email intended for another person, made its way to your inbox? Would you delete it forthwith? Or would you, without blinking at it, inform the sender by return, of their error? Or might you feel that’d be tantamount to admitting you’d read the message? Might you think you were therefore exposing yourself to possible retribution, by making yourself known to the sender?

Or might you be like Bee, a London dress maker, who having received, and read, an incorrectly addressed email, decides to send a considered reply to the sender, because she found the contents intriguing? And would you believe for a second that such a response could be the beginning of a friendship, or perhaps something more?

This is exactly what happens in Impossible (published by HarperCollins Publishers, March 2022), by Sarah Lotz, the eighth novel by the British novelist and screenwriter. Nick, who is struggling personally and professionally, is surprised when Bee, a stranger, replies to his misdirected rant, but is delighted as their correspondence becomes regular and more intimate.

After all, who doesn’t like a meeting a new friend? But when Bee and Nick realise there is more to their exchanges than cordial banter, they decide to take the next step. Nick jumps on a train from Leeds, while Bee makes her way to London’s Euston station to meet him. But is it that simple? Can something come of what they have? Could it? Or is there too much they don’t know about each other to make that possible?


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The This, Adam Roberts

16 February 2022

The This, Adam Roberts, book cover

This sounds convenient. Instead of hauling a smartphone around all the time, you could instead have a social media platform injected into the roof of your mouth. The implant would mesh with your brain, eventually taking the place of your phone. Blink twice to take a photo maybe, communicate brain to brain with friends who also have the app implant.

Welcome to The This, the futurist social media app, and novel of the same name, written by British science fiction author Adam Roberts, published by Hachette Australia. The app is popular with many, but there are those who do not like it. They do not want to be part of the so-called hive mind. They’ve seen Twitter, they’ve seen enough. But the storyline has all the hallmarks of a hive mind, a sprawling, surreal, neural network spanning space and time.

Adan is a journalist, sent to profile the CEO of The This. But after Adan’s mother unexpectedly leaves the country, he is forced to join the army as he is left without a home or any money. Adan is battling a robot invasion, in a reality far removed from the one he once knew. In later centuries a diminished humanity is fighting off another hive mind, one intent of the final destruction of humanity. And all because we wanted to try out a new social media app…


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The Very Last List of Vivian Walker, Megan Albany

12 February 2022

The Very Last List of Vivian Walker, Megan Albany, book cover

I couldn’t imagine how I’d feel if I were told I only had a certain amount of time left to live. It’s not the sort of situation most of us are used to dealing with. Our time, energy, and thought-output goes into dealing with all those other everyday predicaments. Paying the mortgage, getting the kids into the best school. Meeting the latest deadline. No pun intended.

But this is what happens to Vivian, the titular character of The Very Last List of Vivian Walker (published by Hachette Australia, 9 February 2022), the debut novel of Kalkadoon woman Megan Albany, an Australian author based in the Northern Rivers of NSW.

With her mortality hanging by a thread, Vivian does what any self-possessed control freak whose life is regimented by lists would; she decides to face her demise by organising herself. She prepares to-do lists not only for herself, but husband Clint, and son Ethan. These lists, she hopes, will soften the blow of her terminal diagnosis, and prepare the family for a future without her.

Vivian’s final days are punctuated with a certain dark humour, and one hopes not too many of us will ever find ourselves taking a leaf from the book of Vivian Walker.


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Ice Crash: Antarctica, Lynda Engler

11 February 2022

Ice Crash: Antarctica, by Lynda Engler, book cover

American science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson is among writers who are hopeful fiction featuring climate change, and the consequences of global warming, will play a part in changing the perceptions of people who still don’t take the worldwide environmental crisis seriously.

For instance his latest novel, The Ministry for the Future, paints a bleak picture of a planet in deep trouble, but also presents a pathway through the turmoil, towards a positive future. Ice Crash: Antarctica (published by Amazon, February 15, 2022), by North Carolina based American author Lynda Engler, is another work of fiction taking on the topic of climate change, coupled with a series of devastating natural disasters.

Here, an earthquake in Antarctica pushes the Thwaites glacier, also known as the doomsday glacier into the ocean, bringing about a sudden and catastrophic rise in sea levels. Kathryn, a seismologist working in Antarctica, who has been alarmed by the unusual seismic activity, becomes trapped at McMurdo Station, by a succession of earthquakes.

Her husband and son meanwhile, who are in Boston, and her daughter who is in Florida, need to evacuate as sharply rising sea waters, and a series of tsunamis, bring devastation to the continental United States, and other nations around the globe.


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The Truth about Faking It, Cassie Hamer

10 February 2022

The Truth about Faking It, by Cassie Hamer, book cover

The first rule of lying is not be caught out. But to lie frequently, or compulsively, means you either need to have a good memory, or hope that no one ever uncovers the truth. And webs of deceit are at the heart of The Truth about Faking It (published by HarperCollins Publishers, May 2022), the third novel by Sydney based Australian author Cassie Hamer.

Lies run through Ellen’s family. Her daughter Natasha, a composed television news reader, and grand-daughter Georgie, the producer of a reality TV show, are accomplished at concealing the truth, and their feelings. Ellen isn’t half bad either. Despite being married to David, she has been seeing the well-off Kenneth, on the side. But when the accident prone David dies in a boating accident in Thailand, having travelled there with his elusive and seldom heard of brother, Ellen, Natasha, and Georgie, smell a rat.

Something is not quite right about the whole affair, and the three women decide to delve further into the circumstances surrounding David’s demise. But in doing so, in exposing the truth of what happened to David, they risk lifting the lid on their own sordid lies and deceptions. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive…


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Cooper Not Out, by Justin Smith

1 February 2022

Cooper Not Out, by Justin Smith, book cover

It’s a funny old game cricket, some days a player’s skill sees them soar to heights not seen before, other day’s fortune roundly turns on even the best. Then there’s Roy Cooper, a police sergeant who’s been a member of the rural Australian Penguin Hill Cricket Club for years. He’s never scored a century, nor for that matter, gone much passed double figures.

Nor has he ever taken a wicket, let alone a hat-trick, or a ten wicket haul. But as local schoolgirl Cassie Midwinter discovers, Roy has a claim to fame, one seemingly overlooked by the statistics mad doyens of the game: he has not once been dismissed while playing. After decades at the crease, Roy has never been bowled, stumped, caught, nor run-out.

It is a feat Cassie brings to the attention of a renowned cricket writer known as Don Garrett, who thinks the national men’s cricket team could benefit from Roy’s talents. Australia are being trounced by the West Indies in the 1984 summer test series, and Don sets about bringing Roy’s achievement to the notice of the team selectors, in Cooper Not Out (published by Penguin Books Australia, 18 January 2022), by Melbourne based writer and journalist Justin Smith.

Will the unthinkable happen? Will a life-long club player find himself pacing onto the pitch at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, in a bid to reverse the fortunes of the men’s test team? It might seem like a pipe dream, but as they say, it’s a funny old game. But Roy isn’t the only one with unnoticed accomplishments, and there’s much more to Don, the sports writer, than meets the eye.


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Burnt Out by Victoria Brookman

21 January 2022

Burnt Out, by Victoria Brookman, book cover

Writing that difficult second novel, it might be what many authors consider to be a good problem. Their debut novel has been published, an epic achievement, and now they have the opportunity to write another book. What aspiring novelist wouldn’t want to be in such a situation?

Cali, an author residing in the NSW Blue Mountains may be such a person, in Burnt Out (published by HarperCollins Publishers, January 2022) the debut novel of Australian author Victoria Brookman. Cali’s struggling to write her second novel, in fact she was meant to have turned in the manuscript long ago. In reality she hasn’t even started work on it. But for the moment that’s the least of her worries.

Her home has been destroyed by a bush fire, likewise her possessions, and to top it off her husband has left her. But Cali sees an opportunity amid the turmoil. Speaking to a television news crew, she tells them her manuscript was also incinerated, and goes onto chide politicians and well-off Australians for their inaction in response to the devastating bush fires. Her words immediately strike a chord nationwide.

After seeing her on-air rant, a billionaire offers her a place to stay in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, so she can “re-write” the novel. But will Cali overcome her second book syndrome, or will she find herself overwhelmed by the lies she keep telling everyone, including herself?


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Case Study, by Graeme Macrae Burnet

14 January 2022

Case Study, by Graeme Macrae Burnet, book cover

If Case Study (published by Text Publishing, 19 October 2021), the fourth novel of Glasgow based Scottish author Graeme Macrae Burnet, were a movie — and who knows, it might yet be — based upon video or film clips, it would be called a found footage story. The found footage technique is commonly seen in horror films, but it be could argued there’s elements of horror in Burnet’s latest work.

The literary equivalent of found footage is epistolary, where a story is told through a series of letters, or other written works, of which Case Study is an example. Martin Grey, who lives in present day Clacton-on-Sea, contacts the author after finding five diaries written by his cousin some fifty years earlier, under the pen name Rebecca Smyth. The journals detail her dealings with Collins Braithwaite, a therapist, who is remembered for his unconventional practise methods.

Rebecca’s sister Veronica, who had been a patient of Braithwaite’s for two years, killed herself, and Rebecca has no doubt the therapist was responsible. After creating a fictitious identity, and new persona for herself, Rebecca likewise becomes a patient of Braithwaite, in order to find out more about him. As the author reads the journals though, he comes to realise the intrinsically straight-laced journal writer was becoming ever more delusional, as she increasingly wrapped herself up in her free-spirited alter-ego.


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Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel

7 January 2022

Sea of Tranquility, by Emily St. John Mandel, book cover

Where are we in time? Where is the motion of the cosmos taking us? Forwards or backwards? Possibly though, you feel you’re stuck in neutral, moving nowhere, yet keenly aware of each passing minute. The strange times we live in have left many of us displaced and confused.

Sea of Tranquility (published by Pan Macmillan Australia, May 2022), the sixth novel of Canadian author Emily St. John Mandel, may well be a microcosm of our pandemic dominated epoch. Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective living in the twenty-fifth century, is asked to investigate a suspected anomaly in time.

But his search for answers is far from straightforward. The detective finds a young man, Edwin St. Andrew, who claims to be the son of a noble British family, who lived in the early twentieth century. And then there is Olive Llewelyn, an author unable to travel home because of a pandemic, who apparently lives in the twenty-third century.

What brings Edwin and Olive to the present day, and how? But is everything as it really seems to be in this usual world? Are Edwin and Olive who they claim to be, or is something else at play? Might the detective have stumbled upon some sort of switch junction in time, explaining the presence of Edwin and Olive?


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