Jewel of the north by Tricia Stringer

Cynthia Jewel of the NorthIt was so nice to revisit the Bakers and the Wiltshires and share in their stories of life in the Flinders Ranges. This is the tird novel featuring these characters. There is hardship, joy, sorrow and survival. The Australian landscape can be beautiful and also cruel. It is a lovely insight into what pioneering farming families had to achieve and how communities were built.

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First we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson

Amy First we make the beast beautifulIt was really great to get a picture of what anxiety can be like to live with; how it feels, and how easy it can be to misunderstand an anxious person. I found that element of this book fascinating and helpful. Otherwise, I found it confused and confusing, contradictory and scattered. There are many more questions in the book, than answers, but perhaps the journey will be helpful to other travellers.

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Autumn by Ali Smith

Amy AutumnAutumn is a little hard to explain. It’s the first of four, seasonal, ‘state of the nation’ novels. It’s about Britain, after Brexit, and how the western world is closing itself off from kindness and sharing. It’s about strong friendship, the transformative power of love, and about art. It’s clever, thought provoking, moving and sent me to Google to learn about Pauline Boty (British pop artist).

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Golden earrings by Belinda Alexandra

Cynthia Golden EarringsThis was an intereting historical novel, covering historical events that I did not know about beforehand. I did get a little lost in the politics of the Spanish Civil War which lessened my enjoyment of the book and Belinda does not hide from the brutality of war adding to the novel’s setting. The characters were interesting and made me continue reading the story – showing the great storytelling ability of the author. Throw in the history of flamenco dancing, a bit of a mystery and a bit of romance and it became a worthwhile read.

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The last painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

Amy The Last Painting of Sara de VosThis is a lovely novel, set in three different times and places. A Dutch woman paints in the 1600s, a young Australian woman paints a forgery of a painting owned by a wealthy New Yorker in the 1959s, and in the year 2000, the no longer young Australian is faced with the prospect of the real painting and the forgery coming together to her ruin. It is fascinating in its historical detail, and moving as we follow the characters through their lives. It’s about art, connection, love, loss and regret, and it is quite beautiful.

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The buried giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Amy The Buried GiantThe Buried Giant is beautiful, dreamlike, harsh and bleak, and yet tender, with a strong seam of golden hope running through it. Axl and Beatrice are an elderly couple, in long ago England, finally setting off on a journey, long neglected, to see their son. The land is shrouded in a troubling mist, and their way is indistinct and hazardous. There are knights and warriors, dragons and ogres, but it isn’t an action packed battle story, but one telling of the complexities of memory and war, and of enduring love.

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Kakadu sunset by Annie Seaton

cynthia-kakadu-sunsetA great Australian story, set in the Northern Territory. I loved the descriptions of the landscape – it brought back memories of when I travelled there many years ago, although I have to go there again and fly over the area this time! It was a good romantic suspense story. The level of suspense was maintained, even though you know who the bad guy is early in the story. The characters are very likeable.

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At the water’s edge by Sara Gruen

cynthia-at-the-waters-edgeThis story was not as I expected, I thought it was going to be a war story – but the war does not play a huge role in the story which was a disappointment as I do love a good war story. What I did enjoy about the story was the change in Maddie over the course of the story, she became so much more than a socialite, going from party to party and only thinking of herself. This made the story worth reading.

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