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 Review The Hand That Feeds You

The hand that feeds you by A.J. Rich

Summary

I trusted you. This is how you repay me.

Morgan’s life is settled – she is completing her thesis on victim psychology and newly engaged to Bennett, a man more possessive than those she has dated in the past, but also more chivalrous and passionate.

But she returns from class one day to find Bennett savagely killed, and her dogs – a Great Pyrenees, and two pit bulls she was fostering – circling the body, covered in blood. Everything she holds dear in life is taken away from her in an instant.

Devastated and traumatised, Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death. Only then does she begin to discover layer after layer of deceit. Bennett is not the man she thought he was. And she is not the only woman now in immense danger …

Comments

This story is a collaboration between two women studying the links between victims and perpetrators with an emphasis on ‘pathological altruism’. The events are based on incidents in the life of a friend who died of cancer. The narrator, Morgan, returns home to find that her boyfriend has been killed and ripped to pieces by all or one of her three dogs. If this sounds horrific, it sets the tone of the book. An endless and complex tale peppered with violence and peopled by mostly unlikeable characters and their dogs. We all thought this to be a salacious and implausible story.

4/10 Read by Dundas Readers

Book Review The Foundling by Stacey halls

This month Dundas Library’s MJ Readers Book Club listened to their first eAudiobook, The Foundling by Stacey Halls.

The Foundling explores families, secrets, class, equality, power and the meaning of motherhood.

Two women from different worlds. And a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Comments

This was our first audiobook and we all enjoyed listening to it. The descriptive writing and characterisations were engaging with power, privilege, isolation, poverty, love and trauma as the key themes. As an example of historical fiction, we each responded differently to how the basic, factual framework was treated. Some felt that the ending in particular was improbable given the time and social mores, others enjoyed the ‘happy ending’, feeling that the characters had developed empathy and understanding. The story touched each of us and led to meaningful discussion.

Read by the MJ Readers Book Club

Book Club Review The Dictionary of Lost Words

Summary

In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme seizes the word and hides  it in an old wooden trunk that belongs to her friend, Lizzie,  a young servant in the big house. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. They help her make sense of the world.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Comments

Our group thoroughly enjoyed this novel. We loved the descriptive writing, the historical perspective, the believable characters and the gentle, interesting way the emancipation of women was treated. We savoured the warmth of the relationships between families and women. It was a love story that involved people, places and language. The treatment of women’s suffrage ran throughout the story but we weren’t ‘hit over the head’ with it. We were connected to it in a subtle, sympathetic way as we observed it through the life of the main character and her observations of others and understanding of the use and meaning of words. Learning how the dictionary was compiled was also fascinating. A great read.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Review Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern

Six Minutes by Petronella McGovern

Allen & Unwin, June 2020

How can a child disappear from under the care of four playgroup mums?

One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving Bella in the safe care of the other mums in the playgroup.

Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media descend on the tiny village of Merrigang on the edge of Canberra. Locals unite to search the dense bushland. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear.

Is Bella’s disappearance connected to the angry protests at Parliament House? What secrets are the parents hiding? And why does a local teacher keep a photo of Bella in his lounge room?

What happened in those six minutes and where is Bella?

The clock is ticking…

Comments

Bella has gone missing after she was left in the care of the playgroup mums Lexie meets up with once a week.  She was only gone for six minutes.  Where is she?  What has happened to her?

As mothers, this would be our worst nightmare!  Very relatable story, with lots of twists and turns that kept most of us guessing to the end.  A few of our readers picked who had done what, but not necessarily why that had done it.  Some of our readers found it a little hard to empathise with the main characters.  We thought the premise was great, but it left us wanting a little more.  Overall, we thought the book was well written.  Another good book, set in Australia, from a first time Australian author. 

We’d recommend this for readers who like Liane Moriarty books. 

7/10

Read by Cultcha Club