Book Review: All That Is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

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Hello again! I know it has been a long time between reviews for me (so my colleagues have been reminding me). My problem is I haven’t actually read a book in quite a while; in fact the last book I read was A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet.

While I may not have been reading, that didn’t stop me from buying books only to put them on the book shelf and look at them, much to the amusement of my husband.

So the big question is, what was the book that finally got me reading again? It was the couldn’t-put-down, read-until-my-eyes-couldn’t-stay-open, All That Is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster. Sara is one of Australia’s bestselling psychological suspense authors and in my newly-formed opinion it’s not hard to see why.

All That Is Lost Between Us is a psychological thriller, but at the same time it’s so much more. I think what sets All That Is Lost Between Us apart from other books of this time is the way Sara develops her characters. You get to know each of them and become invested in their stories. At the same time there is a suspenseful undertone to the story, which had me cuddling closer to my pillow as the goosebumps crept up my arms. What I also found amazing was the way Sara completely transported me to the English country side and the wild marsh country. I could almost feel the mist on my arms. While this book might be too light on the suspense part for some readers, it was perfect for me.

Georgia and her family are believable characters with real life worries and normal family dynamics. Georgia, 17, has withdrawn from her family and her cousin Sophia, who is her best friend. Anya, her mother and a counsellor, knows something is wrong but Georgia is always shutting her out and she doesn’t know how to reach her. Georgia’s father is dealing with his own guilt, and when Georgia’s brother Zac discovers what is behind the change in his sister the family reaches crisis point.

In the days since finishing All That Is Lost Between Us, I’ve been scouring the book stores for my next read. However, as Amanda and I have both found, there isn’t too much around at the moment that we’re interested in. My solution to this problem was to start reading Beneath The Shadows another book by Sara Foster and as of last night, or should I say the early hours of the morning, I am totally hooked! In fact I can’t wait till everyone goes to sleep tonight and I get my quiet time so I can finish.

I want to end by saying “Thank you Sara Foster for deciding you wanted to be a writer, I will be forever grateful!”

Jody

P.S

After doing some investigating today I found out Sara has a new book coming out this year, and I can’t wait. The title is The Hidden Hours and it’s out in April in Australia. Lucky I have a couple more of Sara’s books to read before then to keep me happy.

On Australian Women Writers. You are amazing.

You may have read that Jody’s going through a bit of a reading slump at the moment. Fortunately, while she is struggling, I’m devouring some of the best books I’ve read this year. Say goodbye to slump days, and hello long train and plane trips to nowhere, I say! Isn’t it just the best feeling when you have a long stretch of time to fill ahead of you and the book you’re reading makes it go by in a flash?

What really impressed me about the books I’ve been inhaling is they’re all Australian… and they’re all written by women. I know we’ve waxed lyrical many times about the quality of literature in this country but it continues to amaze me. This year I’ve really grown into a passionate advocate of Australian writing, with good reason.

So, with that in mind I signed up Jody and I to the Australian Women Writers Challenge, whereby we challenge ourselves to read a certain amount of works written by Australian women. Child’s play I say. Why didn’t we do this months ago, Jody says? We’ve already read SO many without even noticing! Out of all of the beautiful, astonishing, incredible books we’ve blogged about this year, by my (rough) calculations, at least half have been by Australian women. Helen Garner, Peggy Frew, Cath Crowley, Emily Maguire, Anita Heiss, Fiona Wright, Liane Moriarty, Sofie Laguna, Inga Simpson – the list goes on and on and on. And that’s only the tip, there are so many more we’ve read but not had time to review.

Is it Australia’s isolation from the rest of the world that makes for such diversity and quality among our female writers? Is it our education system? Is it the passion we have for our culture? Is it courage? It takes great courage to pick up the proverbial pen and write in a country that has such richness in landscape and story, and yet has an “ingrained, unconscious bias” against female writers.

I do know this: I am so proud of the literature produced by women in this country. I know some argue it could be more diverse. I know some argue it could better reflect the society we live in. But if you ask me, it’s getting there – you just need to know where to look. And apologies to those blokes out there, but I look to women.

I look to women because I feel their empathy. I look to women because I feel their passion. I look to women because they, and their characters, are vibrant and fierce and funny and kind. I look to women because I think we need a louder voice in this country and I know that voice can be found in literature. In the delicate, curious, exploration of our past, in the ardent advocacy of a different, more all-encompassing future. When they write, I listen. What they write, I learn from. So please, from one reader, from many readers – write more, and know that we are listening.

Amanda x

 

Book Review: The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna

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To show my support for the Australian book industry in the wake of the Australian government’s proposed changes to copyright, I decided that in June I would read only books written by Australian writers. This wasn’t hard, as there are so many great books to choose from. The one that stands out as my favourite is The Eye of The Sheep by Sofie Laguna. I had heard lots of talk about this book as it was the winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Award, and now having read it I can see it was a worthy winner.

Never have I read a book that had me gulping for air and holding back tears one minute and at the same time smiling to myself!

The Eye of the Sheep is a story of a family in crisis.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He’s not like other kids – he’s both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy’s mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father’s way. But when Jimmy’s world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.

Jimmy is an amazing character whose story grabs hold of your heart and splits it into tiny pieces. This is not a book to read if you want something light. It is however the perfect book to read if you want something with a little more depth and heart. While the subject matter is heavy, there is always a little light at the end of the tunnel as they say. That light is Jimmy! Without his thoughts and voice it would have been hard to read a book like this; Jimmy gives the book its heart and soul.

This book may be fiction it felt very real to me and so did all the emotions I felt while reading it. It may not be a book I will read again (I don’t think my heart could take it), but it will definitely rank among my favourite books of all time.

The Eye of the Sheep is truly one of those special books that masterfully creates real flesh and blood characters. Where you feel so lucky to have shared their story. I even have a lump in my throat writing this. An amazing book!

Jody

 

Dear Author: A letter to Helen Garner

Dear Ms Garner,

I write this knowing that, given the overwhelming confluence of content on the internet, you will likely never read it. That’s the great paradox of this thing we call the information age, don’t you think? Despite the freedom of information online, so much remains largely invisible. Or visible, but lost. Perhaps that is a metaphor for our times. Nevertheless, I have no influence here. And so I remain.

Many years ago, when I was just a quiet, quietly ambitious journalism student, I picked up Joe Cinque’s Consolation, like so many others. I read it at a time when I was conflicted about my journalism studies. I felt like we were being taught to create the story, not seek it. We were being taught to invent the drama, not observe it. It was a formula, and to get great marks, we had to follow it. I needed a role model and I hadn’t found it in any of my lecturers, tutors or the books they prescribed.

Joe Cinque’s Consolation made me realise there was a different way of looking at journalism. That it could tell the whole story, from the beginning. You made me realise it’s possible to portray the emotions of the subjects involved, purely through the gentleness of the writing. Through considered concern for the characters. Where the writer is a soft presence. But present. So different to my lecturers’ mantra to lay out the facts with cold clarity. Make sure everything’s in the first paragraph, because readers won’t be bothered to commit beyond that. Time is precious.

Time is precious. And I recently committed a little of it to reading your new book. Everywhere I Look. The collection of stories, many of which have already been published, together form a beautiful snapshot of this world we live in. I was filled with envy when you wrote of Mrs Dunkley, your stern fifth grade teacher. When I went to school, anything more than the definitions of a noun, verb and adjective was considered superfluous to my early education.

I laughed a little at Red Dog’s Mutiny (I imagine the incident wasn’t funny at all though!), and at Tim Winton’s stout, “Thanks mate” to the priest’s offering. My eyes welled at your anecdotes about your grandson, penned with such love. But it is those beautifully crafted in-between moments that brought me the greatest joy. Have you thought about Twitter? Because your ability to craft a 140-character sentence would put many to shame.

You write:

A dark sky, striped low down with bands of translucent pearly grey and the faintest, driest yellow. Bare plane tree branches disposed against it, as in a painting.

And:

Peter Porter on The Book Show: ‘The purpose of form is to prevent you from putting down on the paper the first thing that comes into your head.’

So I apologise because that is entirely what I have done here, with my limited knowledge of form. I won’t pretend to do your writing justice. However, I am so glad that I spent a little of my time reading your book. Not one second I spent reading it was wasted.

I never did end up a journalist, but you were and still are a role model to me and to many others. You write on subjects we struggle to comprehend, on the complexity of the human condition. You do it with grace. With care and careful consideration. So thank you.

Amanda.

10 Quick Questions for Author Annie Seaton

Recently we asked author Annie Seaton 10 quick questions about her life as a writer. Annie lives near the beach on the east coast of Australia (lucky thing!) and is passionate about the Australian environment. This is evident in her latest book, Kakadu Sunset, a contemporary romance set in the beautiful Kakadu National Park.

We are so grateful to Annie for being our first author chat here at SR! We love hearing from anyone who loves books as much as we do, and who better to ask than someone who writes them?

When did you realise you wanted to write books?

My earliest memory is when my mother took me to a library when I was four! I wrote my first book when I was eleven.

How extensively do you plan your novels?

I don’t. I have an idea and setting, then my characters develop and the action happens! I call myself an organic writer.

Where do you write and when?

I write weekdays from 7.30 am till 3pm…and occasionally on weekends if there is nothing else happening.

What were your favourite books growing up?

Anne of Green Gables, and the Famous Five!

What are you reading and want to recommend at the moment?

Jenn J McLeod…The Other Side of the Season

What do you like to do when you’re not writing (or reading)?

I walk the beach with our dog and spend time in my garden.

Are you working on another book at the moment? What can you tell us about it?

I am currently in edits for Book 2 of the Porter Sisters series: Daintree Sunrise, and am also a third of the way through writing Book 3, Kimberley Moonlight. I am loving Kimberley Moonlight, the setting is glorious!

An obsessed worker, I am also writing a paranormal suspense called The Green Trees, and a light contemporary about an editor!

You write beautifully about the Australian landscape, what is it that you love about it? 

I guess it is because we live in such a beautiful country with diverse landscapes from tropical beaches to isolated deserts, to urban landscapes. We have so many places to visit to have different experiences all in our own land.

What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Be passionate and determined, and you will succeed.

And, of course we couldn’t resist asking you about libraries! You seem very passionate about them (we are too!) and once moonlighted as an Academic Research Librarian. What is it that you love about libraries?

No moonlighting there … being a librarian was my dream career and I did it for twenty years before I became a teacher. I hold a postgraduate degree in Library Science too.


Thanks so much Annie! We really loved getting a glimpse into your life as a writer and wish you all success with the new novels you are working on.

Kakadu Sunset is published by Pan Macmillan and you can find out more about Annie from her website and on Twitter @annieseaton26

 

On Rereading Liane Moriarty

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When thinking about what I should write this week the first name that popped into my head was Liane Moriarty.

Amanda and I have both read all of Liane’s books and we loved every one; it’s fair to say we are huge fans. They have everything we both look for in a book; great characters, stories that keep you entertained, family dynamics and real life issues. Liane has a real talent for writing books that have substance but are enjoyable too.

This month I decided to re-read a few of my favourite Liane Moriarty books – The Husband’s Secret, What Alice Forgot and Three Wishes. I also hope to get to Big Little Lies again next month.

The Husband’s Secret was the first Moriarty book I read and it was so good I ran out and bought every book she had written. At first I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this book the second time around given the whole big secret reveal plot, but I really did. Knowing the outcome in no way diminished my enjoyment of the book because of all the great supporting characters and their stories. The Husband’s Secret tells the story of Cecilia and the secret she discovers her husband has been keeping and how knowing and sharing his secret affects her family and the lives of the people around them.

When I first read What Alice Forgot a couple of years ago I loved it! Alice was a great character; someone you could really identify with and the story line was such an interesting one. After falling and hitting her head, Alice wakes up a decade later. She’s ten years older and everything is very different (that has got to grab your interest). This was an enjoyable read but one that made you think at the same time. How would you feel? Are you happy with the direction your own life has taken? If you had the opportunity to make different choices would you? Complex, isn’t it! So many different aspects to one book. What Alice Forgot is one of my favourite Liane Moriarty books, well worth a read especially before they make the movie!

Now I don’t know if I’ve written too much and you are already sick of me rambling on about Liane Moriarty, but I have to keep going and tell you about Three Wishes.

Three Wishes is now officially my number one favourite Liane Moriarty book. It was second behind What Alice Forgot, until now. Reading it a second time has allowed me to absorb so much more of the story and the characters. A family saga revolving around the Kettle sisters (they’re triplets). Three Wishes is funny (laugh-out-loud-on-the-train funny), sad and altogether intriguing. I got to know the characters so much more the second time around; taking the time to reflect on what I was reading without powering on through to find out how it would end. It’s my favourite because the characters pull you in and don’t let go. They are likeable and real. A great book!!!! Too many exclamation marks?

Anyway I am sure you’ve had enough of me rambling on by now and I promise you won’t have to read any more about how enjoyable, engaging, entertaining and amazing Liane Moriarty’s books are – at least until her new one comes out in July (yeah).

Until then, why not do yourself a favour and pick up a Liane Moriarty book today.

Jody