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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Every note by Lisa Genova

Ali Every note playedLisa Genova Is the writer of Still Alice, the heartbreaking story about dementia which was made into a successful movie which I’m sure many have seen. In Every Note Played, she tackles Motor Neuron Disease or ALS. Richard is a successful classical pianist who has divorced his wife of many years and lives for his music in a cool apartment with his Steinway piano. He is a selfish man, music is his life and his divorce and estrangement from his daughter Grace is due to putting his career above his family. The cost of this estrangement becomes apparent when he is diagnosed with ALS. Who is going to support him through this horrible illness and his emotional journey as he is quickly robbed of the ability to do the thing that he loves? Richard finds his new girlfriends are not there for him and it is left to his ex-wife Karina to step into the role of carer after hearing the news from friends. Karina was also a very talented pianist who gave up her dream to have their daughter Grace and support Richard in his career. Her dissatisfaction and Richard’s infidelities left Karina very angry. The fact that she steps into this role gives us one of the main topics of this story; forgiveness. Lisa Genova also uses her neurological background and research to illustrate how ALS progresses and the devastating effects it has on the person with the disease as well as family and friends.
I’m not usually a fan of this kind of fiction but it isn’t a sentimental story, it is quite practical in the the way it is told and there are unresolved issues till the end.

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Mrs M by Luke Slattery

Ali Mrs MThis is the story of  Mrs Elizabeth MacQuarie, second wife of Lachlan MacQuarie, reformist Governor of New South Wales. The novel starts in Scotland at the end of Elizabeth’s story, not the beginning as you might imagine. So the story is a reflection of her journey and life in the colony and the shared dream of reform that Lachlan and Elizabeth planned when they came to Sydney.

This is a fictional account of historical figures and I am not sure of the reality of Elizabeth’s relationship with the architect who designed and built her famous ‘Chair’ at Sydney harbour. In the book her much older husband is often busy and distracted giving the younger  architect the appeal that makes this story  both romantic and intriguing. However there are personalities who wish to continue the brutal control that has been the norm of the colony , contradictory to the MacQuarie’s more benign influences which ultimately causes the downfall of the MacQuarie reign in the colonies.

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Stephanie Alexander’s kitchen garden companion : cooking by Stephanie Alexander

Ali StephanieStephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Cooking is a handy book when you have an excess of produce from the garden! If you still have some pumpkins left, this is a great spring recipe. Very tasty it was too! It’s so easy to Google recipes these days but it is nice to sit and drool over a lovely recipe book which this is. This is the perfect book for using up the excess seasonal produce.

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Kilted yoga by Finlay Wilson

Ali Kilted YogaThis is such a fun book. Not only because it features a bare-chested, young man in a kilt (enough with the Scottish stuff you say), but because it teaches you some good yoga poses in a very light hearted manner.
Finlay Wilson took up yoga to rebuild his strength after a serious accident. His story is at the beginning of the book and explains a little of his journey.
He went on to become a yoga teacher and from there made the Kilted Yoga video which has gone viral. In this book Finlay introduces you to the fundamentals of yoga through four progressive sequences to help you develop your practice. It is easy to follow and the beautiful Scottish scenery is an added bonus although one should be very wary of ticks if practicing yoga in the heather, in a kilt!

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I, Daniel Blake

Ali I Daniel BlakeI, Daniel Blake is the most moving film I have  watched  in years. The reviews on the front cover say it all. It is a sadly realistic film with no melodrama, violence or sex but it had me crying when I am not a crier!  It is amazing that a film around the tedium and frustration of dealing with bureaucracy and the tragedy that can result, can have such an effect. It touches something deep within and  reminds us that we could easily find ourselves in this vulnerable position in this harsh world.

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Girl runner by Carrie Snyder

Ali Girl runner“My name is Aganetha Smart and I am 104 years old. Do not imagine this is an advantage”

An aged Aganetha is confined to a wheelchair when two young siblings take her on a journey back to the family farm which stirs her memory. The reasons for this visit are revealed as Aggie’s story unfolds.

Aggie’s story is of a young girl raised in Ontario whose passion is running. She moves to the city at 16 and is brought into an athletic club through work which ultimately leads to her competing and winning gold in the 1928 Olympics – the first Olympics where women were allowed to compete in certain track and field events. Continue reading

Coffin Road by Peter May

ali-coffin-roadI’m a bit of a sucker for a murder mystery and this one especially because it is set on the beautiful Isle of Harris off Scotland’s west coast. Peter May has written a number of stories set on the Outer Hebrides including the atmospheric Lewis Trilogy. What also makes a murder mystery enjoyable is the subplot which in this case is about bees, the effect that certain pesticides have on them and the fight to have this research recognised. So, as well as being transported back to my homeland, this novel educated me on why we need to look after our bees.

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