Book Review Our Souls at Night

Kent Haruf

One of our members said ‘I loved this book, it touched my heart and then it broke it’. A short, simple and touching story told in plain, unadorned prose written by someone with an understanding of ‘alone-ness’ and isolation. This story taps into some of the inevitabilities of ageing.

Louis and Addie have been neighbours for years until Addie proposes that they establish a closer companionship. They are circumspect, but indifferent to small-minded gossip in their small town.

Addie’s young grandson, Jamie, comes to stay to escape the misery of his separating parents. To help his pain, a dog called Bonny, is added to the mix. Louis and Addie are perceptive and kind to Jamie and their own affection flourishes. When Jamie’s parents attempt reunion, Jamie’s father is savagely and punitively critical of the relationship between Addie and Louis resulting in its cessation.

Despite the apparent victory for small-minded bigotry and spite, Addie and Louis manage to re-establish contact. Maybe there is hope for their future?

8/10 – Read by Dundas Readers

Book Review Silver

Chris Hammer

Synopsis

For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping.

He’d vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won’t come again.

Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days has been brutally murdered, and Mandy is the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him.

He’s making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting.

Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present.

Comments

A page-turning thrilling crime novel set on the NSW East Coast of Australia, where Chris Hammers’ character Martin, from his previous book, Scrublands, grew up. His partner Mandy, inherits a house in the same town, prompting their move. They attempt to start a new life together, but when Martin arrives, he finds the dead body of a childhood friend. And Mandy seems to be the main suspect!

This clever style of writing draws the reader in from the start, wanting to know who did it! However, in order for Martin to solve the mystery he must confront his past. We meet a plethora of characters along the way, people that Martin had grown up with and people who have arrived while he was away being an award-winning journalist. All of which, kept us turning pages, eager to find more clues. We feel the ending may have been a little over thought; got a little confusing around the second murder. However, we still really enjoyed this book.   Another great holiday read for us!

Rating – 8/10

Read by Cultcha Club

Book Review Girt David Hunt

Summary

Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia…

Girt. No word could better capture the essence of Australia…

In this hilarious history, David Hunt reveals the truth of Australia’s past, from megafauna to Macquarie – the cock-ups and curiosities, the forgotten eccentrics and Eureka moments that have made us who we are.

Girt introduces forgotten heroes like Mary McLoghlin, transported for the crime of “felony of sock”, and Trim the cat, who beat a French monkey to become the first animal to circumnavigate Australia. It recounts the misfortunes of the escaped Irish convicts who set out to walk from Sydney to China, guided only by a hand-drawn paper compass, and explains the role of the coconut in Australia’s only military coup.

Our nation’s beginnings are steeped in the strange, the ridiculous and the frankly bizarre. Girt proudly reclaims these stories for all of us.

Not to read it would be un-Australian.

Comments

Girt by David Hunt is a different approach to presenting the history orfAustralia. There has been an incredible amount of research done by the author but, unfortunately, the style did not resonate with us. We found the writing to be demeaning, negative, flippant and condescending. In an attempt to be comedic or ironic, we felt the author trivialised women and gave no dignity to the people who forged our society. The only people who seemed to be presented positively were the ‘currency kids’ who are portrayed as hardworking and healthier than those who went before them, although they didn’t appear to value their own self worth.

The book felt very self indulgent and is not one that we would recommend.

Read by MJ Readers

Book Reviews

Take a look at all the amazing books our book clubs have been reading!

One Life: my mother’s story – Kate Grenville

Comments

While Nance did not think she led an exceptional life, she did exceptional things in her time.  From living more of her earlier years away from her family to getting an education, attending university, graduating, and then training to be a pharmacist; Nance then went on to open and operate two pharmacies successfully at a time when many believed a woman’s place was in the home.  Which Nance also did, raising 3 children and laying the bricks to build their family home. 

Kate Grenville writes a beautiful tribute to her mother.  It was a beautiful snap shot of what every day Australia was like growing up in the early 20th century, moving to the city, living through war and depression.  We really enjoyed this book.  We loved seeing the old photos, putting faces to the names mentioned in the story.    

7/10

Read by Cultcha Club


When She Was Good by Michael Robotham

Comments

Another great read from this author!  This is the second book in Cyrus Haven series, and we could not wait to read this one. 

When She Was Good, sees Cyrus looking for the person who found Evie. We find out how she ended up in a secret room of an abandoned house in the aftermath of a terrible crime.  But is he exposing her to more danger.  Should he be leaving well enough alone?

This one has us turning pages eagerly again as the narrative flicked between Cyrus and Evie.  Some parts were a little difficult to read, however, the author had us gripped to the end as the all pieces fell into place.  Wonderfully written. We love the main characters, Cyrus and Evie, and even the side characters too; Lennie, Sascha, the kids at Langford Hall and Poppy.  Would definitely recommend this one.  Made for a great holiday read. We can’t wait to read the next book in the series. 

7.5/10

Read by Cultcha Club


The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Comments

Quite an interesting psychological thriller however we felt there were too many separate threads that weren’t woven together very well.

A balancing act between hemispheres and cultures, cults and some unbelievable characters.

A good first effort!

Read by Dundas Readers


The Spy and the Traitor by Ben MacIntyre

Comments

The Spy and the Traitor is a true story about a Russian double agent, Oleg Gordievsky, who worked successfully against the KGB in the 1970s and 1980s.

Oleg was born into a staunch KGB family and was following in his family footsteps when he was approached by MI6 to spy for them against the Russians. Oleg had experienced the effect of the KGB on his family, the KGB as an organisation, the building of the Berlin Wall  and the Prague Spring, and had begun to question his allegiance.

This is a fascinating exploration into life in Russia, the workings of the KGB, MI6 and the CIA. His handling and eventual escape from Russia leave the readers on the edge of their seats. The information he provided on the KGB mindset for the UK and USA influenced world politics and policy. He opened the west to the inner workings of Russians, their paranoia and weaknesses.

His duplicity and defection eventually cost him all he loved. It was a high price to pay but hopefully, his sacrifice helped create a better world.

Read by MJ Readers


The Railwayman’s wife – Ashely Hay

Comments

This novel by Australian writer, Ashley Hay, is set in the beautiful little seaside town of Thirroul just after the second world war. The main character Ani Lachlan lives with her beloved husband Mac, a Scotsman, and her ten year old daughter Isabel. Their happy and settled existence is shattered when Mac is killed in a shunting accident at work. Ani’s grief is profound but she must provide a stable home for Isabel and when offered a job at the Thirroul library she takes it. The job, the love for her daughter and the beauty and peace of her seaside home, help her reintegrate into the community as a widow.

Two other characters returning after the war suffer grief of a different kind (called shell shock in veterans at the time). Roy, a quiet retiring man is an ex school teacher and an aspiring poet and his friend Frank is a GP. They are both struggling to come to terms with normal life after the horrors of war. Roy meets Ani in the library and they develop an unspoken fondness for each other fostered through a shared love of writing and reading.

Hay writes with such a light touch evoking grief ad melancholy in her characters while also leaving the reader with a sense of hope. Integral to the power of this haunting story is the sense of place which is where D.H. Lawrence wrote ‘Kangaroo’. Hay grew up in this area and her love for it’s beauty is eloquently expressed.

8/10

Read by Dundas Readers

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