Where the Murray River runs by Darry Fraser

cynthia-where-the-murray-river-runs.jpgIt did take a few chapters for me to get into this historical story based in country Victoria in the 1890s. The story features the sometimes hard to read issue of domestic violence and the people willing to fight on their behalf. It made me appreciate the way that laws and people’s attitudes have changed, but unfortunately some things have not. Strong female characters are a highlight, along with the men who support them. Overall a solid Australian historical story that moves at a great pace.

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Home fires by Fiona Lowe

cynthia-home-fires.jpgFrom the beginning of the story I was involved in the story, the characters were relatable and likeable.
It is the story of a group of women living in a small rural town that has been affected by a bushfire. We delve into their lives, both before fire and after fire. The topics covered are many, including depression and domestic violence, and the story could of been completely maudlum, but in the hands of the author we are given hints of hope and love. A very engaging Australian story.

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The dry by Jane Harper

amy-the-dry.jpgAaron Falk left the small, Victorian country town he grew up in, many years ago, and not in happy circumstances. Now, he finds himself there for the funeral of his old friend, who seems to have killed his wife and son, before killing himself. In the middle of a drought, Kiewarra is not a pleasant place to be, but Aaron and the local policeman don’t think the story adds up, and do a little unofficial investigating. This is an atmospheric, fast-paced and suspenseful rural noir novel, and I can understand why it has been so popular.

Star-crossed by Minnie Drake

cynthia-star-crossed.jpgThis was such a fun read. Justine works for the local paper and meets up with Nick, an old friend. When she discovers that he lives his life by the stars, Justine decides to alter the astrology column to help nudge him in her direction. Of course things do not go to plan and altering the stars affect other people as well. I loved how these characters were woven into Justine and Nick’s story. I was chuckling throughout the story – it was just what I needed.

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An American marriage by Tayari Jones

amy-an-american-marriage.jpgRoy and Celestial were married for a little over a year when Roy was falsely accused of rape, and sent to prison for twelve years. We follow the story alternating between narrators, and through the letters written while Roy is in prison. When he is let out early, they need to work out what their life can be. It’s about marriage in modern times, class, racism, love, independence, and strength. It’s a difficult story, but the ending is gently hopeful, and I found it captivating.

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The bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald

amy-the-bookshop.jpgI thought the film was pretty bleak, so I wanted to read the book to see if it was different. If anything, it is significantly more bleak, but also simpler, and somehow more affecting. Florence Green is a widow who opens a bookshop in a small, not especially lovely, coastal English town. It’s not a happy story, not even a little, and it isn’t about the power of books, really, either. It is, however, a quietly powerful story of relationships, strength, and quirky personalities.

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Tarnished city by Vic James

amy-tarnished-city.jpgIt took me a little while to get back into the story, as I read the first in the trilogy some time (and many books) ago. All three are out now, so you can read the trilogy straight through. It’s set in an alternate Britain, where the cruel, ruling class are not the aristocracy, but those with Skill (like magic). It’s about the fight for justice and freedom, with loyalty, betrayal, love, loss, and plenty of twists.

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