Daughter of mine by Fiona Lowe

Cynthia Daughter of MineAlthough most events were predictable I enjoyed reading about this family in rural Victoria. It brings to light the affect of family secrets, experiences, expectations, history, perceptions and dynamics. Fiona has a great writing style that flows well.

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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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Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Kate Into the WaterI chose the audiobook of ‘Into the Water’ by Paula Hawkins, not as one who had read ‘The Girl on the Train’, but seen (and loved) the movie. Being the first audiobook I’ve listened to with not one but four narrators, with so many characters telling the story from their point of view, I actually thought that was clever. As each spoke in their own unique manner and voice, it helped recognise who was then telling the story, something I’ve seen others find confusing when reading the book. It was not quite the thriller I had hoped it would be, but I throughly enjoyed getting to know all the diverse characters (and such a range of accents) and wondering about, to quote the synopsis, ‘the stories we tell about our pasts and their power to destroy the lives we live now’.

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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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Working class boy by Jimmy Barnes

Kate workingclassboyBeing memoir, my favourite genre, ‘Working Class Boy’ is a book I considered many times but, not really a fan of Jimmy Barnes and or knowing anything about his life, it really didn’t appeal to me. Not until, that is, he won the biography category at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and then I quickly borrowed the ebook before anyone else could!

‘It is the story of what shaped my life,’ Jimmy said. ‘The good, the bad and the very, very ugly.’
His brutally honest storytelling, about things I would rather not know, made this a difficult book for me to read, and I felt he wasn’t giving me any credit as a reader, repeating things and telling me not showing me. After the third time he wrote, ‘as I said before …’ I vowed to quit if he wrote it again. But he didn’t, and I became captivated by the sense of healing I was witnessing as Jimmy searched for hope in his story, quite often using a wicked sense of humour at what seemed inappropriate times. I soon realised this was his way of coping with the ugliness of it all. The book felt like a confession, an opening up by Jimmy. At first he sounded hesitant and unsure, but I could sense him settling into his new role as an author and imagined the healing tears flowing along with the healing words.
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The shape of us by Lisa Ireland

Renee The State of UsRead via Borrowbox – ebook

This is the type of book I would pick up and hand to random strangers in Kmart and insist they buy… Okay, it’s the actual book I did that with. The story has stayed with me long after I finished reading. It’s a fabulous example of contemporary Australian women’s fiction – full of friendships, romance, and personal growth. I laughed, I cried, I ran out of pages too quickly.
Four women from diverse backgrounds meet in an online weight loss forum and develop a deeper friendship. They share their struggles and each takes a different path on their journey. This book would be particularly relatable to anyone who has ever stood on the scales and seen a number they didn’t like.

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Gilded cage by Vic James

Amy Gilded CageSet in an alternate, modern day Britain, The Gilded Cage is about power and the class system, with a magical twist. The aristocrats, or Equals, have magic, called Skill, and they rule, making every commoner spend 10 years of their lives as slaves to them. One family begin their slave days together and become entwined with Equals, caught up in political machinations as they try to protect each other. It’s dark and clever, engrossing and, sadly, the recently released first book in the series. Now, to wait for the next….

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What would Beyonce do?! by Luisa Omielan

what would beyJust finished the most hilarious audiobook, it was like being at a comedy show where the laughs (briefly interrupted by moments of tears) are non-stop for seven hours. I guess the paperback or ebook would be just as funny but not as enjoyable as hearing Luisa Omielan narrate it herself with such passion, conviction and enthusiasm, so much so I had to stop myself from yelling ‘go sister!’ time and time again with such passion, conviction and enthusiasm. Continue reading

Suite Francaise

Amy Suite FrancaiseThough only two parts of the suite were finished before the author was taken from her family and killed in a concentration camp in 1942, the scale of this novel is still so grand. In the first part, people flee Paris as the Germans approach, and in the second, a country village is occupied. The setting is breathtakingly beautiful, the different reactions to the situation are raw, shocking, tender, brutal and very real. It’s hard to separate the book from the author’s real life tragedy, and why should we? The film focuses on just one part of the book, where it is set in the country village. Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas ( American, Belgian and English) do a great job playing the French and German characters and it is a moving film.

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Memories of May by Juliet Madison

Renee memories of mayMemories of May is the fifth book in the Tarrin’s Bay series but can be read as a stand alone. Olivia is a single mother who runs a bookstore previously owned by her grandmother, May. When Joel, the author of a popular memoir, comes to town to run a short writing course, Olivia decides to join it and write a memoir of her grandmother’s life. May’s memories of a long-ago romance unfold as Olivia steps outside her comfort zone and falls in love with Joel.
As a fellow book lover and writer, I found Olivia very relatable. The romance was a slow burn, friends to lovers. The story was sweet and emotionally engaging. I first met Olivia in the previous novel, April’s Glow, and was hoping to see more of her. I look forward to reading more in this series.

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