Sanctuary by Judy Nunn

Cynthia SanctuaryJudy Nunn tells a good story. This was a very human story – the politics of refugees has mostly been left behind, which I appreciated. Humans have such capacity to hurt, to damage but its our ability to show compassion that can make the biggest difference.

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Big little lies by Liane Moriarty

Amy Big Little LiesA suburban primary school’s trivia night degenerates so badly that someone ends up dead; if only all school events were so exciting! This is a murder mystery with characters and a setting so familiar, suspense, humour, twists and turns. It deals with the complex issues around domestic violence and also about school politics, parenthood, marriage and friendship. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, definitely not just for women!

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The turning tide by C.M. Lance

Cynthia The Turning TideI enjoyed this story and characters mainly based around the WWII campaign in Timor. I love it when a story makes me experience a range of emotions throughout the story. It is a story on the horror of war and its aftermath, mateship, complicated families, love and ultimately hope. The story jumps time periods several times per chapter, sometimes throwing me off the flow of the story, but this is only a minor complaint.

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Terra nullius by Claire G. Coleman

Cynthia Terra NulliusI don’t want to give away too much about this thoughtful novel. It was completely different to the style of book I usually read. The author does a good job of grounding the reader into the story and then pulling you into something completely different. The concepts were therefore familiar to me at the beginning of the story, keeping me reading when things were revealed to be not as they seemed.

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Big little lies by Liane Moriarty

Amy Big Little LiesA suburban primary school’s trivia night degenerates so badly that someone ends up dead; if only all school events were so exciting! This is a murder mystery with characters and a setting so familiar, suspense, humour, twists and turns. It deals with the complex issues around domestic violence and also about school politics, parenthood, marriage and friendship. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, definitely not just for women!

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Beautiful messy love by Tess Woods

Renee Beautiful Messy LoveTess Woods’s debut novel, Love at First Flight, stayed with me long after I finished reading it, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her second novel, especially when I discovered that Beautiful Messy Love was the story of the children from the first book. Beautiful Messy Love is a stand alone novel, though.

I found Lily very relatable – in my early 20s, I also struggled with studying a difficult university degree and debated whether to finish it. My heart went out to Anna and I loved Tante Rosa – the grumpy Egyptian matriarch made me smile. My favourite character would be Toby’s brother, John – he cracked me up so many times with his inappropriate, self-absorbed comments.

I went from laughing at hilarious one-liners to sobbing, on multiple occasions – a roller coaster of emotions. Two intertwining love stories, overcoming issues of race, religion, fame and grief. This book is firmly at the top of my Best of 2017 list.

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Love like water by Meme McDonald

Amy Love Like WaterSet in Alice Springs, during the 80s, Love Like Water is about Cathy, a young white woman looking for a new life after a loss, and Jay, an Aboriginal DJ, trying to find a way to survive. It’s a typical, very Australian, coming of age story, with the added stresses of racial tension and the pressures Indigenous people face. The setting is harsh, but beautiful, and the physical and emotional landscapes are poetically and movingly described.

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The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

Cynthia Fairville Ladies' Book ClubA charming Australian story about female friendship. Sybil decides to start a book club which leads to 5 women developing the strong bonds of friendship, bonds that will stand up against the bad and the good times. The setting of this book is a remote cattle station in the Northern Territory, which adds extra dimensions to the story, as well as being set in the late 70s. It was quite nostalgic going over some of the major world events for that time period which Sophie has included in her story and how much communication has changed (who remembers the telephone party line?). I was worried that the story was going to end all neatly wrapped up with everyone blissfully happy, but it wasn’t. Sophie has left room at the end of the story for the reader to continue the characters’ stories themselves – a great tool to let the story remain with you after reading the story.

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