Boy swallows universe by Trent Dalton

amy-boy-swallows-universe.jpgFour and a half stars for this beautiful coming of age story. Eli is growing up in a rough part of Brisbane, with drug dealing parents, a mute older brother, and a best friend who is a murderer. It’s a tough setting, but it isn’t bleak; it’s funny, touching, a little bit magical, and full of surprises and hope. I loved it.

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The lost man by Jane Harper

Ali - The lost man

This is the third book in three years by Jane Harper, her first novel The Dry only being published in 2016.

Harper’s third murder mystery is set in South west Queensland on a large cattle station where Cam Bright , one of three brothers is found dead at a remote landmark, the stockman’s grave.

Assumed to be an accidental death by the local police,  Nathan, the brother who discovers Cam’s body, cannot make sense of Cam , successful and organised,  abandoning his fully stocked land rover, to die alone in the extreme heat.

Nathan is the eldest of the Bright brothers  and  the one who and has  been ostracised by the local community for a mistake he made  ten years before. He lives a solitary life, estranged from his wife and the relationship with his son becoming weaker as Xander approaches adulthood. His property is in deep financial debt and he struggles to run the farm without the support of  his neighbours in drought like conditions.

Nathan starts to look into Cam’s death and uncovers uncomfortable truths about his seemingly popular brother, his deceased father and  events in the past that his mother has kept quiet for many years.

This isn’t so much a murder mystery as a family drama, but not in the sense of  a soap opera, more intrigue than that! The writing is  very atmospheric and descriptive and you  can feel the sun’s heat on your neck and the hot , red dirt under your feet while you follow the Bright family to the conclusion of this story.

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Black Swan Green by David Mitchell

amy-black-swan-green.jpgBlack Swan Green is stories from one year in the life of a thirteen year old boy, in an English village during the early 80s. It’s about the common and peculiar trials of being a thirteen year old boy, friendship, family relationships, music, politics, poetry and truth, love and loyalty. It’s funny, clever, moving, sad, joyful, and with the special delight for the regular reader of David Mitchell books, the characters from his other books. He is one of my very favourite authors.

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Half Moon Lake by Kirsten Alexander

Cynthia Half Moon LakeThe reader knows the truth of the story, but it is how each of the characters deal with and treat this truth, that makes the story interesting. I had to keep reminding myself that the story is set in the 1910s and crime investigation worked so differently then. Kristen adds layers to the story, dealing with race and wealth, and how each is regarded and treated. The story is based on a real case and I was glad I read about it after reading Half Moon Lake – it would of ruined the building tension throughout the story – everything had to turn out right, didn’t it?

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Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Cindy Nutshell

Whoa! This book was different. Written from the perspective of a baby still in the womb it tells the tale of a likely doomed trio that includes his mother, her lover and his father. The embryo infant contemplates the fates of his tragically flawed family and what influence he can possibly have in the grand scheme of things.

I really enjoyed listening to this on borrow box and it is also available in many of our libraries in traditional book format.

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Educated by Tara Westover

Amy EducatedEducated is the memoir of a woman brought up in a family that was isolated by their strong religious beliefs, and fear of intervention, which led to them avoiding doctors and school. Living in rural Idaho, there was so much dirt, danger, and ignorance, as well as emotional and physical abuse, as to make this a most uncomfortable read. Eventually, thanks to a thirst for knowledge and understanding, Tara is able to leave, be educated (all the way to Cambridge, Harvard and a PhD) and be freed from abuse. Though not always a pleasant read, it is a moving account of the hardships of ignorance and poverty, and the power of education.

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