Jarulan by the river by Lily Woodhouse

Cynthia Jarulan by the riverI was looking forward to reading this book based on the blurb; Australian – Family – History, all the things that I love to read. Lily’s descriptive writing gave me a good sense of place and what life was like at Jarulan. There was an overall sense of uneasiness and I had to keep reading to find out what would happen with the family. Then came Rufina, a character that I could not feel anything for, and this let the story down for me. I was also disappointed about not finding out the full story of the ghosts that would appear at the appropiate times, but not fully explained, and this made the novel feel a bit unfinished.

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Moonglow by Michael Chabon

Amy MoonglowMoonglow is Michael Chabon’s speculative autobiography, fictional non-fiction. As Mike Chabon’s grandfather is dying of cancer, he tells Mike about his life. It’s about being Jewish, about growing up, the war, marriage, brokenness, love and rockets. It isn’t a linear story, but rambles along, back and forth, in a beautiful, full of truth, story of the heart.

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Stars across the ocean by Kimberley Freeman

Cynthia Stars Across the OceanA foundling chasing her mother around the globe, a mother’s heartache at losing love and her daughter and a daughter coming to terms with her mother’s illness. Each of story is told well, but I finished the book feeling that I wanted so much more depth to each of the characters.
The ending was a surprise and I loved the way that Kimberley concealed it throughout the story.
I have enjoyed all of Kimberley’s stories that I have read and will continue to seek them out as I know I will get an interesting set of characters to read about.

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Philomena

Helen PhilomenaA young teenage girl, Philomena, becomes pregnant out of wedlock in 1952 and was sent to a convent to have her baby. When her baby, Anthony, was a toddler the nuns took the child away, putting him up for adoption in the United States. For the next 50 years Philomena searched for her son. When a former BBC journalist learns of her story they travel together in search for Anthony. Lots of twists and turns in this story. Also, have your tissues ready – a real tear jerker!

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Truly madly guilty by Liane Moriarty

Amy Truly Madly GuiltyLiane Moriarty is really great at writing about suburban Sydney-siders. There’s a strong sense of place, and the characters are real; frustrating, amusing, familiar. Truly, Madly Guilty is about three families who gather for a BBQ one afternoon and something terrible happens that has a negative impact on them all. The events of that afternoon are (very) slowly revealed over the book and the surprises are many. Though very good at pointing out people’s foibles, Moriarty is a hopeful writer, and this book is thought provoking, compelling and with a satisfying ending.

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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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The outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Amy The OutsidersI must have watched the film a lot, as a teenager, because I have never read the book before, but the dialogue came flooding back. It’s the story of Ponyboy Curtis (yes, really), a fourteen year old boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He and his family and friends are ‘greasers’, and they are in conflict with the ‘socs’. One night Ponyboy and his friend are cornered, and a soc is killed, whichleads to more tragedy. It’s typical teenage angst, in some ways, but ultimately, it encourages us to understand others; to see that everyone has their struggles and not to give in.

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Another world by Pat Barker

Amy Another WorldThis is the first Pat Barker novel I have read that isn’t historical fiction, though one character does struggle with his memories of WWI, and I didn’t love it as I loved the others. It’s about Nick who has just moved into a new house with his pregnant wife and toddler, along with two older children from previous relationships. Nick’s elderly grandfather is coming to the end of his long life and is reliving his bother’s death during the war. Relationships are messy, there’s a lot of hidden anger and darkness and a ghostly element. It was surprisingly hopeful, in the end, but on the whole there wasn’t enough light to balance the darkness for me.

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One hundred days of happiness by Fausto Brizzi

Caitlin one hundred days of happinessWhat would you do in the last one hundred days of your life? That is, in part, the premise of this novel by Italian director and first time novelist Fausto Brizzi.
Lucio Battistini is dying- he has made mistakes (for which he still wants to atone), he has sporting goals (as coach of a water polo team), and his father-in-law bakes him donuts every morning for breakfast – all valid reasons to keep on keeping on. Continue reading