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Australia and New Zealand, sitting as they do on the other side of the world, often call out to the LoveReading team. We feel as though we know them, there is a recognition, an intimacy, a knowledge, even if we haven't actually been there, and that is because some seriously good writing wings its way to us from the lands down under. The two neighbouring countries offer some stunning locations, there is something mesmerising about the landscape of Australia, and New Zealand seriously thrums with Middle Earth attitude. Some truly inspiring and memorable novels have been there, and however or whenever you visit through the pages of a book, something completely different is likely to catch your eye each time.
A Town Like Alice is a novel that can be read again and again, it opens a door to the not too distant past, even though the distance is felt in the pit of your stomach. It really does pull at heartstrings, and each time I delight in Jean’s determination to build a town like Alice. A truly wonderful crime series saunters from the pen of Chris Hammer. Scrublands his debut, was award-winning, and his second Silver, is one of our LoveReading Star Books. Liane Moriarty is another favourite with us, she opens the curtain on a normal world to reveal secrets, lies, and the occasional murder! If you’ve not yet read any of her novels, then you could start with the fabulous Little Lies. Recent standalone novels to have caught our eye are A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville and The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean, both stories as different from each other as could be, yet feature unique and fascinating women.
Let us know your favourite novels from Australia and New Zealand, what calls to you from the bookshelf and asks to be read again and again?
A scorching, provocative, heady hit of a read, that also feels refreshingly unique. The setting is Australia, three girls disappear and years later Tikka looks back at what happened and how the events have affected her life. Felicity McLean sets two time frames in motion, but the story doesn’t flow in a straight line, words meander, get caught in an eddy before rushing onwards again. It took me a few pages to settle into the writing, and that is just because it is so wonderfully and distinctively different. Tikka’s voice is compelling, her childhood evokes bright vivid colour and touchable vibrant feelings which all spill from the page. She didn’t just visit my thoughts, but set up home too. As I read, punches of realisation landed with precision, opening my eyes, making me consider. The Van Apfel Girls are Gone really is the most special debut, it is dark, atmospheric and tragic, yet bright, engaging and satisfying too. Also chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and Liz Pick of the Month, this Debut of the Month is one that I can highly recommend.
Savour every second of this stunning novel, take your time, don't rush, don't miss a single solitary word. The setting, Thirroul in Australia at the end of the Second World War, is described with such heartrending and vibrant beauty, you can quite literally feel the caress of the breeze, the grit of the sand, the thunder of the train on the track. The main characters are all lost and in search of something just beyond reach or possibly comprehension, the compassion the author feels for them is quite evident. Yes, this is a book about loss and love, yet at it’s heart feels as though it’s a celebration of life, in all it’s vital wonderful glory. This is a book to fall in love with, once finished to read again or dip in to, so you can re-capture the essence of the beautiful lyrical verse. ~ Liz Robinson
May 2017 Book of the Month. Simply fabulous, this is a truly beautiful, mind-popping story. I must admit to jigging up and down with excitement when ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ arrived on my desk, Liane Moriarty has a very special touch, her stories and words caress ordinary and normality and transport them to extraordinary and unique. Friends for forever, Erika and Clementine from Sydney have grown up together, yet their friendship has barbs of resentment that gnaw and sting and bite. Set in two time frames, the truth initially feels too distant to touch, as it slides closer, a feeling that is almost claustrophobic steals through the pages. The day of the barbecue lurks in this story, simmering, waiting to trip, to cause mayhem, to change lives. I couldn't wait to find out what had happened at the barbecue, yet I savoured every second getting there. I lost myself to the story, I resisted reality and read ‘Truly, Madly, Guilty’ in one glorious heady sitting, I really can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
So so readable, this is a throw yourself in and give yourself up to the story kind of book. The disappearance of a young woman means the past comes to haunt the present in a remote town on the edge of New Zealand. Nalini Singh is a New York Times bestselling author for her fantasy novels, this is her debut thriller (with a side serving of romance). The first sentence grabbed me and I read the whole book in one sitting. The story focuses on two main characters, Anahera who is returning home to Golden Cove, and Will the new, and only police officer in town. The town itself is fascinating, not only for the inhabitants and secrets it holds, but the descriptive detailing is so striking. I was able to step inside and see for myself this isolated coastal area. I remained in the story while a part of me dissected and explored the various options. At points I found myself ahead of the investigation, while at others I was racing to catch up. With an underlying tinge of darkness and difference A Madness of Sunshine is a thoroughly entertaining reading experience and has been chosen as a Liz Robinson pick of the month.
If books were friends (and more than a few are) then I feel as though I have met the most wonderfully quirky forever friend. Gravity is the Thing is a complete joy of a book, and one that refuses to be pigeonholed into a genre. Abi, a Sydney cafe owner, has been invited to attend a retreat to learn the truth about ‘The Guidebook’, chapters have been arriving since she was a teen, and have kept her company in the darkest of times. The book floats between 1990 and 2010, and as Abi opens up her life, she revisits, examines, and searches for answers. Jaclyn Moriarty writes with the most beautiful eloquence, sharp pointed observations sit alongside the tightest of warm hugs. I wanted to meander, to wander, to eke out my reading time, and yet hoover up the words and the feelings they created in one heady go. I contemplated loss and grief, I smiled, laughed, and believed… oh how I believed! Gravity is the Thing is different (in the best possible way), and I predict that this will be one of my favourite books of the year. So, as well as being one of our Books of the Month, it has also been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book. It really is that gorgeous! Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
As you might expect from an Australian author, this book tells it to you straight to the extent that, as you might expect from the title, it hits you right in the face. The Slap explores modern behavioural correctness in a world, and a language, where morality seems to have been turned upside down. For all its directness, this is a 21st Century book that deserves the praise that has been heaped upon it. But you might want to read it yourself before you lend it to your Mum. March 2011 Book of the Month. Click here to see Christos Tsiolkas' new book, Barracuda, which is published in January 2014.
May 2017 Book of the Month. Gosh, what a stunning read this is, I simply couldn't put it down and devoured it in one glorious sitting! Cassy travels half way around the world to New Zealand with her boyfriend, when they separate, Cassy is left stranded, and a split second decision changes the outcome of her life. I admit to grabbing this book as soon as it arrived in the office; Charity Norman has the ability to strike a chord, to answer a feeling, yet open your eyes and mind to new thoughts, and I simply love her writing. The prologue, set in 2016, sent chills racing down my arms, I almost had to sit on my hands to prevent me from sneaking a peak at the ending. As soon as I started to read chapter one, set in 2010, I was swept away, and stayed immersed in the story as the tension escalated to almost unbearable levels. I chided, fumed, beseeched, pondered and considered. Charity Norman has once again created a searing, expressive, and absolutely cracking read, I adored and highly recommend ‘See You In September’. ~ Liz Robinson
Our August 2020 Book Club Recommendation. Click here to see our Reading Group Questions. Glorious! A novel of such startling sincerity, clarity and eloquence it feels as though the narrator herself is stamped onto every page. A Room Made of Leaves is inspired by letters and documents on entrepreneur and pioneer John Macarthur and his wife Elizabeth. They left England in 1788 for New South Wales in Australia when he was posted as Lieutenant to the penal colony of Sydney Town. This is Kate Grenville’s first novel in a decade, she is the author of the 2006 Man Booker shortlisted novel The Secret River. Elizabeth narrates, headstrong and wilful she nonetheless finds she is folding herself smaller and smaller in order to not be observed. Each chapter may be short but they are full of suppressed emotion, candour, and are as compelling as can be. The chapter headings, if all joined together, would create a story in themselves. As each word, as each sentence and chapter flowers, the inner being of Elizabeth opened to allow me to see, and also feel her emotions. The cover is gorgeous and the understanding of the title when it came, made the beauty resonate all the more. Australia is obviously much loved, and I in turn loved reading between the lines of history. Unique and spirited, A Room Made of Leaves truly is a beautiful novel, it also deservedly joins our LoveReading Star Books. Have a look at our Ambassador Book Buzz for A Room Made of Leaves. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.
March 2018 Debut of the Month Told over a period of three weeks, with forays into the past, this thrilling debut gathers tension into a knotted tangled ball, before hurling it sky high. Set in Australia, a teacher is found murdered in the town lake with roses scattered in the water above her. Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock ignores connections to the past in order to pursue the case, yet years old secrets start to push forward and batter at her mind. Sarah Bailey allows Gemma her own voice, she speaks with a simple intensity, her words have a gritty almost dispassionate feel, yet passion is clearly simmering in the background, edging ever closer to the forefront. Other characters are occasionally allowed voice, giving further insight into Gemma. As information is slowly revealed, and the policing team struggle to place all the pieces, I felt the links closing in. The Dark Lake simmers with tension, infatuation, secrets, and lies, ensuring an absorbing, provocative read ~ Liz Robinson
Bitingly fierce and wonderfully different, Into The Night is a provocative powerful read. Senior Detective Gemma Woodstock investigates a hugely complex case, the murder of a movie star on a film set surrounded by hundreds of people. Although you could easily read this as a standalone, I really do feel that The Dark Lake is a fabulous introduction to Gemma, so if you haven’t read it yet, do buy yourself a copy of both books. Gemma Woodstock is prickly and feisty, her job means everything to her, however she isn’t quite sure where she sits in the world. Sarah Bailey creates a raw, plausible background for Gemma to reside in, and I found myself slowly becoming a part of it. Real human emotions are not only visible, they can be felt, including the unbearably grim and darkly amusing. Unexpected jolts and shocks lie in wait, while everything still feels incredibly authentic, and the rolling ending suited me down to the ground. Into The Night crept up on me, I didn’t realise how actively involved I was in the storyline until I came up for air at the end, highly recommended.
A blistering, deep and provocative novel containing moments of heartbreaking emotion and poignant humour. Fran leaves the city and returns to her childhood home in Australia to take care of her Dad. Memories rush back in, but then a devastating bush fire takes hold. The plot and location are as different as different can be when compared to her previous book Worst Case Scenario (a LoveReading Star Book), however I could still feel the distinctive style of Helen FitzGerald. She could plonk her next story on Mars and I would be desperate to read it, this is a writer that as a reader, I would follow anywhere. I just want to mention the stunning cover while I’m here, you’ll find out about it after you’ve finished reading the book, just take a good look before you start. The first chapter hits hard, straight into the middle of chaos, the impact was huge. Set over ten days, we travel with Fran as she returns to Ash Mountain, then back and forwards in time, dropping into her memories before marching on towards the fire. The intimacy of Fran’s life and searing shock of the fire made me shiver and flinch. This is 211 pages of truly fabulous writing, and an all-consuming read. Ash Mountain buffeted my thoughts and smashed my emotions, but oh my, it will be a book I will never forget. Chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month and a LoveReading Star Book, I really can’t praise it highly enough.
The Australian answer to Gone with the Wind became a publishing sensation when it was first published in 1977 and went on to sell 30 million copies worldwide. Readers enjoyed the book's 'large canvas' storytelling, its Australian setting and vivid sense of landscape. A real page-turner of a novel that will take you on an epic journey.
A rawly realistic, enthralling and thoroughly entertaining crime novel set in a small New Zealand town. Police officer Sam Shephard responds to reports of a missing person, when a body is found she discovers there is far more behind the apparent suicide than would first appear. The prologue is absolutely riveting, the first few sentences fell like a sledge hammer, nailing my concentration to the page. Sam is as fabulous as a main character could be, gutsy, down-to-earth, likeable, I could reach out and touch her feelings, empathise with her. Vanda Symon writes with a beautiful simplicity, not once overplaying her hand, she took me completely and entirely into the storyline. The Sam Shephard series has been on the New Zealand best seller list and shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel and I can see why. I highly recommend Overkill, it is powerful, cooly assured, and an absolute belter of a read. Books in The Sam Shephard Series: 1. Overkill 2. The Ringmaster 3. Containment Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
A crime series you can really get your armchair sleuthing teeth into, Detective Sam Shepherd is back in her typical headstrong (oh so fabulous) style. I have quite simply adored the first two books in this award-winning New Zealand based series, which starts with ‘Overkill’ and is followed by ‘The Ringmaster’. A murder is linked to a travelling circus, and Sam wants in on the detective action. Cracking whip-fast action goes hand in hand with Sam telling her own story. Vanda Symon has the wonderful knack of conjuring Sam into being before my very eyes. I can hear her talking as plain as plain can be, her voice magically transfers from the page, straight into my head. Sam makes me flinch, smirk, even laugh out loud as she makes her way through life, I really do have a soft spot for her and would be more than happy to go out for a drink (perhaps just the one though). The author allows you to be several steps ahead of Sam, sometimes it is a case of waiting for her to catch up, which I found to be exceedingly entertaining! ‘The Ringmaster’ is an absolute beauty of a read, well-written, absorbing, and extremely enjoyable.
Raw, honest, punchy and smirky, Containment, the third Sam Shephard book, continues the series in fabulous style. When a container ship spills its cargo on a New Zealand beach it sets in motion a series of events that puts Sam right in the middle of a whole heap of trouble. To have an understanding of Sam and what makes her just that little bit different, you really do need to start with Overkill and The Ringmaster. Vanda Symon has written a bold, gutsy protagonist who fights her way through life. Sam’s thoughts and feelings stamp her way all over this book, ready to kick and squabble just to keep her head above water. There is a relationship in the background, and that is where we see Sam’s vulnerable side (have to say that I wanted to settle her down for a good old chat on occasion). If you enjoy a quick-firing, fast-moving tale with a tight storyline then Containment could just be the very book for you.
Enthralling, chilling, challenging, and wonderfully readable, this story winds itself around a moment in history. In 1942 a fire started at Seacliff, classed as a lunatic asylum in New Zealand, and all but two of the patients in a female ward perished. C. D. Major uses the fire as a focus and begins the tale there. Edith was five years old when she arrived at the asylum, after the fire she is questioned and a new doctor begins to doubt the reasons for her being shut away from the outside world. Covering the years between 1927 and the 1940’s I found myself either fully immersed in ‘now’ or consumed by ‘before’. The plot itself twists, schemes, provokes, and ensures that this novel can’t be pigeon-holed by genre. The asylum sits brooding, biding its time, while the occupants become entangled and caught in the treatment and rules. Tension sweeps through the tale, and I found myself searching, questioning, hoping. Edith is a fascinating character, she is written with compassion and evoked so many emotions. The powerful ending made me exclaim, it truly spoke to me and has stayed in my thoughts. The author’s debut The Silent Hours was another emotional and impressive read and also comes as highly recommended. I have chosen The Other Girl as one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, it has a haunting quality that ensures a compelling read.
One of Anne Berry's favourite books. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2006. An epic novel of the early settlers in Australia, of the plight of the Aborigines and the crushing of ambition by the pure hardship of developing the land. We know the history but interestingly this leaves the reader to decide on the rights and wrongs as the facts are portrayed. It’s a very grand, rich, multifaceted work indeed. Comparison: Indra Sinha, Khaled Husseini, Barbara Kingsolver.
One of our Books of the Year 2014. August 2014 Book of the Month. Fabulously different and remarkably clever, this page-turner of an intimate yet scandalous tale keeps you guessing right up to the very end. Having been told that something awful has happened at the school Quiz Night, you are then whisked back in time to the beginning of the school year, where friendships are forged, tantrums thrown and bullying takes it’s first sneaky tormenting steps (and that’s just the parents). The author is adept at taking an everyday situation and adding little pops of difficult and uncomfortable. Nobody’s life is quite as it would outwardly seem and as you peek around the curtain of conformity you are drawn into the twisted web of rumours, facts and lies. As Trivia Night looms, you are kept quite literally on the edge of your seat, squirming with anticipation and fear for these wonderfully complete and complicated characters. This is quite simply, a deliciously entertaining read. ~ Liz Robinson A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘Liane Moriarty was THE success story of 2013 and we are absolutely thrilled to be following up on the phenomenal The Husband's Secret with a novel which packs, if it’s possible, an even more powerful punch. Little Lies is the story of three very different woman brought together by a cataclysmic event in the small Sydney suburb in which they live. Set in the present day and the recent past, we are invited into the lives of Maddie, Jane and Celeste in between hearing testimony and interviews with the police who, it appears, are investigating a murder. But who’s dead, who did it and why? I don’t know if I can put into words how completely brilliant this novel is. I’m blown away and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I finished it. The characters are incredibly well drawn and the plot takes us into such unexpected directions – Liane Moriarty really is a first-class writer, almost a magician as she conjures up twist and turn galore at the same time as developing real flesh and blood characters who make the same mistakes we do. A wonderful, genius, funny, dark, heartbreaking read.' - Maxine Hitchcock, Publishing Director, Penguin Group
Albert Black, known as Paddy, and later as the “jukebox killer”, was the penultimate person to be hanged in New Zealand at the age of twenty-five. Paddy came to New Zealand from Ireland, a sparky young man seeking a new life in a new land. Then, after killing another young man during a fight, a weighted court case sees him sentenced to death for murder. The events that led to the fatal stabbing are told from the engrossing and varied viewpoints of multiple witnesses, both on the stand and in real time. The lives of the jurors are explored too, their backgrounds, what makes them tick, how they’re biased against, or in favour of, the accused regardless of evidence or fact, from the “He’s an Irishman. Taking our girls,” comment of Wayne the gas fitter, to the sympathetic butcher who points out that “if someone’s not like you, you don’t want to know”. The ethics of the death penalty are explored too. As one juror remarks, “I cannot believe we’ve earned the right to decide who should live and who should die”, as is political history, the social history of Irish migrants forging new lives as ten-quid Poms, and the personal plight of Paddy’s mother back home who starts a petition and writes to the New Zealand High Commissioner and the Queen. As the case progresses (with prejudice against outsiders deftly explored and powerfully prescient), the novel lays bare how some individuals stand firm in their convictions while others crumble, and how anyone’s convictions might crumble when circumstances collude and collide. A love story unfolds too, which takes an unexpected and deeply poignant turn. Author Fiona Kidman is a highly-regarded recipient of many literary awards and honours in her native New Zealand and this affecting novel more than showcases her exquisite talent.
This may be a small book in size, but it is mighty of heart and contains 226 pages of delight. I think it would make the most wonderful gift, if not for yourself, then perhaps for someone who would appreciate a smile or hug in book form. This wonderful little treasure contains a myriad of short stories, sitting in sections that range from kindness to poignancy, and from school life to meeting in lifts. There are also some decidedly witty amuse-bouche stories (in cartoon strip form with illustrations by Iain McIntosh) to be found between the pages. It is no secret that I adore Alexander McCall Smith’s writing. He has the ability in a few sentences, to make me stop and think, or splutter and chortle. Every word counts, and each joins to create the most wonderful journey as you travel the world and through time. You can either dip in and out, or binge read like I did as I snickered and smiled my way through the pages. Short and sharp, yet bountiful and considerate, Tiny Tales really is the most fabulous book. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
An award winning debut and start to a fabulous new crime series. Scrublands won the John Creasy New Blood Dagger in 2019 and was described by The Crime Writers’ Association as “a heatwave of a novel, scorching and powerful with an acute sense of place.” Set in Australia with a journalist in the starring role, this is a series that promises much. Books in the Martin Scarsden Series: 1. Scrublands 2. Silver Serial Reader? Check out our 'Fall in Love With a Book Series' collection to find amazing book series to dive in to.
A cracking and class-act of a crime novel stuffed full of atmosphere and detail which skilfully sits alongside a truckload of tension. Journalist Martin Scarsden plans on a new start in Port Silver, Australia. On arrival he finds his childhood friend murdered, and his partner is number one suspect. While this could be read as a standalone novel, I recommend starting with Scrublands, Chris Hammer’s debut novel which won The Crime Writers’ Association John Creasy New Blood Award in 2019. The author has been a journalist for over 25 years and I feel his knowledge is anchored in this tale. This is a satisfyingly long read which sets a quite wonderful scene before the story really takes off. Australia sings and Port Silver becomes a known town, with a map planting the locations firmly in mind. I sank in and only came up for air a couple of times. I feel this a beautifully balanced novel, the storyline, setting, characters, and potential for the next book all smoothly combining into one effortlessly compelling read. Silver just has to be included as a LoveReading Star Book, it is a vibrant, sweeping, fabulous read.
November 2017 Book of the Month An intense, suspense filled thrilling tale set in Australia. Mia wants to be a reporter and she desperately wants to leave her small town, when she begins to investigate the appearance of small dolls left on doorsteps, danger grimaces and then beckons. Anna Snoekstra sets the scene from a small town perspective, she invites you to view the intimate and personal, this feels alive, vibrant and very real. I stepped into the book, got to know the characters, watched as secrets bubbled away, the tension builds, yet the tale remains grounded, allowing your mind to investigate and question. I galloped through ‘Little Secrets’, devouring the story, yet thoroughly enjoying the ride, what a surprising, gripping and very readable tale this is. Liz Robinson
A Town Like Alice is a book that I have regularly reread since a teen. I absolutely adore it. Nevil Shute has written the most heart-rending, beautiful, and simple love story, and it makes me cry every single time I read it. He really does paint a strikingly vivid picture with words, both Jean and Joe are dear to me, and Alice simply sings. In my opinion, this is a must-read.
Maxim Jakubowski's view... Collecting three Inspector Alleyn mysteries from Christie's once major rival in the literary sleuthing stakes. The dashing London policeman is all charm and grey cells and the mysteries he is called to solve are as ingenious as those facing Poirot. If you like Ngaio Marsh try Agatha ChristieMaxim Jakubowski recommends: The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
One of the Top 10 Lovereading Reader Review Panel Summer Read selections. A thoroughly charming book from this witty and intelligent Australian writer. Don leads a very ordered life. He does not consider himself odd, does not notice how much he shares with a group of children with Asperger’s syndrome, approaches everything in a completely logical way. This logic extends into his search for a wife. It is easy to mock Don and see this purely as a kooky rom-com, but it is more. It is an exploration of society with all its preconceptions and unwritten rules. To fit in or not? How much to fit in? Should one try to change just to fit in? And change how much? Rosie guides Don and the reader through these challenges in what must be one of the most endearing books I have ever read. It will probably be one of my most memorable books of the year. ~ Sarah Broadhurst One of our Books of the Year 2014. Click here to view The Rosie Effect, the sequel to The Rosie Project which is out in paperback in February 2015. January 2014 MEGA Debut of the Month. We defy you not to absolutely love this quirky romantic gem of a book, that weirdly sits somewhere between One Day by David Nicholls, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time from Mark Haddon and Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. Professor Don Tillman leads a v. v. structured life; single, intelligent, tall, fit, heathy - unable to see why he can’t find a wife and unable to see he is really rather autistic... His hyper-rational solution is a 16 page questionnaire. But love does work in mysterious and irrational ways. Touching, insightful and v v funny, please read the Opening Extract - you will be hooked! In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion for The Rosie Project a small number of Lovereading members were lucky enough to be invited to review this title - 'What a brilliant book... Please read it, he [the protagonist] will change your life' – Jayne Burton. Scroll down to read more reviews. Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
Originally published in 2006, this comes back into print for those who may have missed it. Actually she has changed publishers so her new one is reissuing her work. This is a great read, especially astute, and indeed amusing, about a family and their behaviour towards each other. We follow this particular family through four generations. They live on a charming Australian island which they turn into a tourist attraction and build a mystery surrounding an abandoned baby found by one of two sisters in the 1930s. The business becomes very profitable and each year the anniversary of the rescued baby is celebrated … until now. This is truly lovely stuff. November 2014 Book of the Month.
May 2012 MEGA Debut of the Month. What a brilliant and memorable debut. Superb characters, heart-rending plot and, set on an island 100 miles from Australia, a uniquely beautiful setting. After the horrors of WW1 Tom finds first solace as a lighthouse keeper and joy as he shares the experience with his young wife. Then one morning a decision they take, seemingly for the best, has devastating consequences. We think this is a perfect book for reading groups. Listen to an audio extract by clicking on the orange arrow below. The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman by Random House Audiobooks
Set on a small South Pacific island with war looming a teacher brings Dickens to life for a group of children who should be enjoying their paradise surroundings instead of contemplating the impending war moving towards them.
April 2017 Debut of the Month. An emotional, heart-stopping, and mesmerising debut novel. 34 year old retired banker and burgeoning artist Barry from New York, and 28 year old just-married Parisian architect Sophie, are the sole survivors of a plane crash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Stranded on a small uninhabited island, with only themselves and a small survival kit for company, can they withstand the trials that nature and the universe hurls at them? Chapter one was an unexpected and intriguing start, setting questions hovering in my mind, before I was propelled straight into the middle of a boiling, seething mass of water. Dane Huckelbridge’s clear, strong writing planted me firmly on the island, I witnessed shock, awe, and fear, laughter blurted out of me, I looked up at the sky, discovered joy, counted the days, felt hearts flutter. ‘Castle of Water’ is a gorgeous, captivating, surprising novel, one that storms your senses, yet encourages whispers of thoughts to escape your mind, and I absolutely loved it. ~ Liz Robinson
When Levi and Charlotte McAllister’s mother dies, she suffers the post-death fate experienced by many a McAllister woman. After cremation, she re-appears and bursts into flame on the lawn. Fearing his sister is headed for the same end, Levi swears to “bury her whole and still and cold”, which prompts Charlotte to flee southward “towards the bottom of the earth”. What follows is a cleverly twisting story that crackles with intrigue and invention as the lives of an assortment of compelling characters collide. There’s the wildly eccentric coffin maker Levi commissions to make Charlotte’s casket, and the hard-drinking female detective he employs to track her down. There’s the wombat-farmer slipping into insanity, and the young woman who works for him and changes Charlotte’s life. Raw and real, yet also suffused in otherworldly magic, the author has conjured an elemental mythological landscape alongside the true-world Tasmanian setting. I raced through these blistering pages, but this is a book I shall undoubtedly return to.