Good news everyone: March is a reader’s dreamland. Special mention to a few insanely entertaining novels, such as Dervla McTiernan’s debut The Ruin and long-shining star Fiona Lowe’s latest family saga Birthright.
Dr Nikki Stamp’s book Can You Die of a Broken Heart? is a charming blend of poetic rumination and no-nonsense information about how to reduce your chances of heart disease, while Tim Winton’s novel The Shepherd’s Hut is an atmospheric plunge into a world of solitude and survival.
For the more literary-minded readers we have discovered a couple of absolute gems: Michelle Johnston’s Dustfall, which reveals the catastrophic destruction across Western Australia at the hands of greedy asbestos mining; and The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins, a poetic, flowing novel – an Aussie Ian McEwan.
Check out the full list here . . .
Birthright by Fiona Lowe:
Three families. One inheritance. Let the games begin. Ask any family court lawyer what is the one thing that can divide loved ones and we bet that they’ll tell you it’s money. In Birthright, Fiona Lowe has had a lot of fun portraying a wealthy family who begin plotting against one another as their mother’s health deteriorates and her long-hidden inheritance must finally be claimed.
Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer:
It’s the phone call Lexie dreads. The one in the dead of night from her sister Annie who needs her help – yet again. This time though it’s not just money or a shoulder to cry on that her sister needs. It’s worse, far worse. A crisis that puts Lexie on the precipice of an impossible decision, one that will change lives, maybe ruin some.
All The Beautiful Girls by Elizabeth J. Church:
Las Vegas in the 1960s with its neon lights, topless showgirls, high rollers, glamorous superstars like Frank Sinatra, Eartha Kitt, Sammy Davis Jnr., is the glittering backdrop for the gorgeously written All the Beautiful Girls. The alluring setting belies the serious side of this enthralling second novel from Elizabeth J. Church, whose acclaimed debut was The Atomic Weight of Love.
The Rules of Backyard Croquet by Sunni Overend:
You can tell from the cover with its gorgeous pink flamingo, that this book is going to be fun – and it is. One of those curl up on the couch, cosy, light-hearted romantic comedies that is warm and frothy with enough going on just below the froth to give it soul and to make you care.
While it’s always a tough act to follow a successful debut like Overend’s The Dangers of Truffle Hunting (‘Bridge Jones meets Nigella Lawson’), this popular new author has done just that and more with her thoroughly likeable heroine, the angsty Apple March and the alluring, pacey plot – fashion meets love (with complications, of course). Not to mention the stylish Melbourne backdrop, with visits to glamorous hotspots, Paris and New York and the gorgeous (sigh) clothes.
The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton:
Winton is the beach-bum recluse of Australia’s literary landscape that we have come to admire. With Breath due for impending film release, we have been eagerly waiting the publication of The Shepherd’s Hut .
Jaxie dreads going home. His mum’s dead. The old man bashes him without mercy, and he wishes he was an orphan. But no one’s ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for.
In one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. There’s just one person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for. But to reach her he’ll have to cross the vast saltlands on a trek that only a dreamer or a fugitive would attempt.
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan:
Responding to a call that took him to a decrepit country house, young Garda Cormac Reilly found two silent, neglected children – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lay dead upstairs.
Since then Cormac’s had twenty high-flying years working as a detective in Dublin, and he’s come back to Galway for reasons of his own. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.
What ties a recent suicide to that death from so long ago? And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?
This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Harper.
Can You Die of A Broken Heart? by Nikki Stamp:
Well, can you? In this distinct book – part memoir, part health guide – Dr Nikki Stamp answers many questions we’ve long-wondered about the body’s most mystical organ. Is red wine and dark chocolate really good for you? What happens to your ticker when you feel depressed? It is one of the most common questions she’s asked when people discover her profession: a lung and heart surgeon.
This book is charming and informative and accessible, for readers of books such as Giulia Enders’ Gut and anything by Dr Michael Mosley.
Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins:
Haunting, stunning, mesmerising . . . During the freezing English winter of 1962, seventeen-year-old Radford is sent to Goodwin Manor, a home for boys who have been ‘found by trouble’. Drawn immediately to the charismatic West, Radford soon discovers that each one of them has something to hide. Life at the Manor offers a refuge of sorts, but unexpected arrivals threaten the world the boys have built. Will their friendship be enough when trouble finds them again?
At once both beautiful and brutal, The Everlasting Sunday is a haunting debut novel about growing up, growing wild and what it takes to survive.
Dustfall by Michelle Johnston:
Dr Raymond Filigree, running away from a disastrous medical career, mistakes an unknown name on a map for the perfect refuge. He travels to the isolated town of Wittenoom and takes charge of its small hospital, a place where no previous doctor has managed to stay longer than an eye blink. Instead of settling into a quiet, solitary life, he discovers an asbestos mining corporation with no regard for the safety of its workers and no care for the truth.
Thirty years later, Dr Lou Fitzgerald stumbles across the abandoned Wittenoom Hospital. She, too, is a fugitive from a medical career toppled by a single error. Here she discovers faded letters and barely used medical equipment, and, slowly the story of the hospital’s tragic past comes to her.
Dustfall is the tale of the crashing consequences of medical error, the suffering caused by asbestos mining and the power of storytelling.
Mrs. by Caitlin Macy:
In the rarified world of New York’s Upper East Side, coolly elegant Philippa Lye is the envy of all the mothers at the school gate. Despite a shadowy past, Philippa has somehow married a true ‘master of the universe’, the scion of the last family-held investment bank in the city. And although this puts her at the centre of this world of hedge funds and privilege, she refuses to conform.
The Memories That Make Us by Vanessa Carnevale:
‘If you had your time over, would you fall in love with the same person? Would you live the same life twice?’ After a car accident, Gracie loses all the memories that define her and is forced to examine the person she has become.
This book is addictive and heartfelt reading from a new Australian voice.
Gracie Ashcroft is supposed to marry Blake Beaumont in three months’ time. The trouble is, she doesn’t know who he is…
Anna by Amanda Prowse:
One Love, Two Stories. Anna Cole grew up in care, and is determined to start a family of her own. Theo Montgomery had a loveless childhood, and wants only to find his soulmate. Then, one day, Theo meets Anna, and Anna meets Theo.
Two damaged souls from different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others’ hearts? There are two sides to every love story.
This is Anna’s. Psst: Keep your eyes peeled for the complementary book Theo, due for release in April.
Egyptian Enigma by L.J.M Owen:
Filled with ancient murder, family secrets and really good food, Egyptian Enigma is the third adventure in the charming series Dr Pimms, Intermillennial Sleuth. Really cold cases.
Dr Elizabeth Pimms, enthusiastic archaeologist and reluctant librarian, has returned to Egypt. Among the treasures of the Cairo museum she spies cryptic symbols in the corner of an ancient papyrus. Decoding them leads Elizabeth and her newly formed gang of sleuths to a tomb of mummies whose identities must be uncovered.
What is the connection between the mummies and Twosret, female Pharaoh and last ruler of Egypt’s nineteenth dynasty? How did their bodies end up scattered across the globe? And is the investigation related to the attacks on Elizabeth’s family and friends back in Australia? Between grave robbers, cannibals, sexist historians and jealous Pharaohs, can Dr Pimms solve her latest archaeological mystery?
Finding My Place by Anne Aly:
In 2016, Anne Aly was the first Australian Muslim woman, the first Egyptian-born woman and the first counter-terrorism expert to be elected to Federal Parliament. She was also most probably the first parliamentarian to have seen Zoolander 23 times.
‘What am I doing here?’ she asked herself as she was sworn in with her hand on her father’s copy of the Quran.
Told with warmth, humour and insight, Anne’s book is an irresistible story by an irrepressible Australian woman who has already made her mark internationally and in public life.
Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh:
We have been hugely anticipating this new release from Clare Mackintosh, author of I Let You Go and I See You.
The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They’re both wrong.
One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to ask questions about her parents’ deaths. But by digging up the past, is she putting her future in danger? Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie . . .
The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George:
Award-winning author Elizabeth George delivers another masterpiece of suspense in her Inspector Lynley series: Lynley and his pugnacious and deeply loyal Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers find themselves up against one of the most sinister murder cases they have ever encountered.
Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty:
Mums: Sleepless nights. Toddler tantrums. Porridge in her hair. Frankie needs the support of her online mums’ group just to keep her off the gin.
Versus Non-Mums: Late starts. Early finishes. Endless school plays and sports days. Poppy and Annalise are driven mad by mums enjoying special privileges at work while they pick up the slack. Setting up a Facebook group to vent about smug mummies is just a healthy outlet – right?
Equals War: But as their new group’s membership soars, the frustrated women start confronting mums in the real world. Cafes become battlegrounds, playgrounds become warzones and offices have never been more divided.
A rivalry that was once harmless fun is about to spiral out of Poppy and Annalise’s control. Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own. This book is great fun from one of the Moriarty powerhouse writers . . .
The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad:
Confronting, heartbreaking, and illuminating, this fearless novel by Michael Mohammed Ahmad is a descent into the unforgiving, rough world of Western Sydney. It centers around a young protagonist Bani Adam, literary enthusiast, Punchbowl Boys attendee, a romantic in a sea of hypermasculinity.
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton:
‘We have work to do,’ he says. ‘I have a puzzle which requires a solution.’
‘I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else,’ I say. ‘I’m just a doctor.’
‘You were a doctor,’ he says. ‘Then a butler, today a playboy, tomorrow a banker. None of them are your real face, or your real personality. Those were stripped from you when you entered Blackheath and they won’t be returned until you leave.’
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden can identify her killer.
But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different person. And some hosts are most helpful than others…
Rather His Own Man by Geoffrey Robertson:
In this witty, engrossing and sometimes poignant memoir, a sequel to his best-selling The Justice Game, Australia’s inimitable Geoffrey Robertson charts his progress from pimply state schoolboy to top Old Bailey barrister and thence onwards and upwards to a leading role in the struggle for human rights throughout the world.
Until April, Better Readers!