Book Review Good girl, bad girl

Good girl, bad girl by Michael Robotham

Summary

Evie Cormac is a girl without a past. Six years ago, filthy and half starved, she was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a shocking crime. She had lived for weeks in the murder house, sneaking out at night to steal food, hiding from the ‘faceless men’.  Six years later, still unidentified and given a new name, this same girl is living in a secure children’s home when she launches a court action, demanding that she be released as an adult. Forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven is called upon to decide if Evie is ready to go free, but he discovers a girl unlike anyone he’s ever met. Damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with—the ability to tell when someone is lying.
Meanwhile, Cyrus has another crime to investigate – the death of champion figure-skater Jodie Sheehan. The two cases are soon interwoven, drawing him into a world of secrets where nobody is telling the truth and only one person knows who’s lying.

Comments

This is now the second book we have read by this author that we have thoroughly enjoyed. The story follows forensic psychologist, Cyrus Haven, 

as he investigates the murder of a school girl figure skater, while also taking Evie Cormac into his care.  While we wanted to find out whodunit, we were equally,

if not a little more, intrigued in Cyrus and Evie’s past.  We loved the way the narrative was split between them, alllowing both side of the story to be told. 

Between the murder and murky pasts of the main characters we were turning pages, eagerly trying to find out more about Evie and how she came into Cyrus’ care. Wonderfully written. Loved all the characters and cannot wait to read the other books in this series.  Definitely recommend this one. Would make a great summer read. 

Read by Cultcha Club

Book Reviews – Book Clubs

Becoming by Michelle ObamaRead by MJ Readers

Summary

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her – from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it – in her own words and on her own terms.

Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations – and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Comments

Our group enjoyed Michele Obama’s autobiography. So much of what we know of the White House is male centric so reading a female perspective was refreshing and informative.

Michele’s life story tells of a close knit family, institutional racism and hatred, the importance of education, taking opportunities, questioning, listening and learning. Her family was her great strength encouraging and supporting her to embrace her ‘smartness’ without pride. She tells of the sense of fear and resentment she and Barack provoked in others as hatred of people of colour was ‘old, deep and dangerous as ever’. How they and their family coped with  and rose above prejudices was an enthralling read that created much discussion in our group.

Lyrebird by Cecelia AhernRead by Dundas Readers

Summary

‘An emotional love story with great heart’ Sunday Express Her life is a secret waiting to be set free… Following the death of her father, Laura Button’s hidden life in remote West Cork is revealed. Encountering her by accident, deep in the woods, Solomon Fallon feels an instant connection. Laura, nicknamed Lyrebird for her gift with sound, has a talent that offers her a passport into the world. Through Solomon, she seeks a new life. But Solomon’s fear is that the world won’t set Lyrebird free. Instead, it will put her in a cage… The story that unfolds is one of a quite extraordinary love.

Comments

Reclusive twenty six year old Laura is found
living alone on a remote farm in Ireland by a TV documentary crew.

Laura  is an excellent mimic, almost unconsciously reproducing any sounds she hears just like the
Australian Lyrebird, hence her becoming known as Lyrebird. She is encouraged by the TV crew to participate in a TV talent show to showcase her unique gift.  As a result, she faces many challenges as she attempts to adapt to city living and navigate relationships.

This story received a mixed response from our group. Some detested it and others enjoyed it. Those who didn’t enjoy it felt that it was poorly written, unrealistic, predictable and that it belonged it the YA category. Others who enjoyed it felt that although some of it was predictable and unlikely, the concept of Laura’s gift and ensuing rise to fame was intriguing. One member even said ‘I hated it and I loved it’! Our group score was 6 out of 10.

Book Review Scrublands

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Summary

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin

can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

Comments

For the most part, we enjoyed this book.  It had us engaged from the first chapter.  A priest in a rural community, is seen welcoming his parishioners before his Sunday services, enters the church to don his robes, he returns five minutes later, holding a hunting rifle. Killing five people, one of whom he was just seen greeting with a warm smile and a friendly handshake.  What could they have been discussing?

Scrublands is well written, and we liked the small insight into how the media, and in a particular a newspaper journalist works.  We loved the side characters and all their backstories, from single mum, Manadalay Blonde, to town recluse, Codger Harris.  However, it seemed to lose it’s way a little towards the end.  There seemed to be a lot going on in a small, rural town.  

Overall, we liked Scrublands and look forward to reading the next book in this series, Silver.

7.5/10

Read by Cultcha Club Book Club  

Book Review The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Summary

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.Two brothers meet at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron.Something had been troubling him. Did Cameron choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

Comments

A well written and suspenseful mystery. The protagonist, Nathan, is the
eldest of three sons in a family on a vast and isolated cattle station
in far outback Queensland. When the body of the second son, Cameron, is
found near the grave of a stock man, three generations of the
family and three workers are aware that someone knows more than they are
admitting. Was Cameron really the upstanding family man and successful
property manager he seemed to be? The history of this family is slowly revealed as the story progresses. The author captured the sense of isolation as well as the atmosphere of the Australian outback.                                                                                                               We all enjoyed this well-paced story which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Read by Dundas Readers

Book Club Review The Book Ninja

The Book Ninja – Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

Summary

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really. A clever, funny and wryly observed story about books and discovering who you really are.

Comments

The Book Ninja is not a book that we would recommend. Although it began well with some excellent writing it was not maintained throughout the novel. We found the idea of leaving the books on trains interesting, but the story seemed to morph into teen angst with the search for a boyfriend. We found the characters shallow, self absorbed and, at times, ridiculous. We also felt there was a lot of ‘book snobbery’ when discussing young adult novels.

Read by MJ Reader