I’m a little bit late with these, but here are the book reviews of what we’ve been reading this June
Jarulan By the River. Lily Woodhouse.
Matthew Fenchurch, patriarch and landowner of the northern NSW property Jarulan, lives in a grand decaying folly, invaded by ghosts and the local fauna. His wife is dead, one son has fallen on a battlefield in France, and another lives in exile as a remittance man on a marae in New Zealand. His only company are the farmhands, an old family servant and a part-time laundry maid with dreams above her station.
When Matthew builds a memorial above the river for his brave lost son – and all the boys of the district who have died fighting for King and Country – his daughters and grandchildren return for the unveiling. They bring with them someone who will change life at Jarulan forever, who will fight the ghosts of the past and the claimants of the present, and ensure a dynasty, though not as anyone expected.
Epic, sensuous, brimming with wildlife, love, beauty, babies, ill deeds, revenge, and unions – illicit and condoned – JARULAN BY THE RIVER is a glorious story of passion and redemption. A novel with the magic of Colleen McCullough, Bryce Courtenay and Cloudstreet.
I’m not going to lie – this book took me quite a while to read. I found it hard to get into at first, and read several other books in the time it took me to finish this one. I’m pleased I persisted though! The characters were difficult to feel connected to, but the little glimpse of New Zealand was fascinating. I almost felt as though my experience of this novel as a reader was one of floating over the events and the characters – I saw what was happening but really had no sense of ‘being there’ with them. This is one to read if you’re looking for that multi-generational family saga.
Persons Unknown. Susie Steiner.
Brand new literary thriller from bestselling author of MISSING, PRESUMED Susie Steiner.
Manon Bradshaw is back. As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.
DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.
She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.
How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?
So, this is the second in the Manon Bradshaw series, but don’t let that stop you from picking it up if you haven’t read the first. This was my first introduction to Manon and I had no sense of missing parts of the story as you sometimes do when you don’t follow a series right from the beginning. As well as an insight into a police investigation, this is also a commentary on motherhood and racial profiling. Fly will break your heart, and you’ll be left guessing right until the end.
The Alice Network. Kate Quinn.
In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, the “Queen of Spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.
I loved this – absolutely loved it! The characters are all damaged and flawed and they’re on a complete wild goose chase, which reveals harrowing tales and heartbreaking stories. I’ve read it twice already and I know it’ll be one that I read again and again. I sat with my iPad and googled my little heart out while reading this book as I wanted to know more about the people and events mentioned. This is a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.
The mini-reviewers have been reading:
Funny Kid For President. Matt Stanton
Meet the funny kid! Because every kid loves to laugh.
Every kid wants to laugh, but Max is the boy who can make it happen.
He’s the class clown, the punch line and he’s even volunteered his bottom to be the butt of the joke.
Max is the funny kid … and he’s running for class president.
Poop scandals, stalker ducks, surprise debates, psycho sports teachers, tell-all interviews and the great library vomit-a-geddon are just some of the things in store for Max and his friends at Redhill Middle School this election season.
For fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates and Big Nate, FUNNY KID is the hilarious new series from bestselling children’s author Matt Stanton.
This is SO funny, especially the parts about poop. We think that all kids would love this book.
Mama says: this is actually very funny, and all three of my munch bunch loved it. Bear needed help with it, but Buster was on hand to read it to him which was incredibly adorable. This one is great for those reluctant readers as it’s fast-paced and laugh-a-minute. Big hit in our house and we look forward to the next in the series!
The World’s Worst Children 2. David Walliams.
The brilliant follow-up to David Walliams’ bestseller The World’s Worst Children! Ten more stories about a brand new gang of hilariously horrible kids from everyone’s favourite children’s author, illustrated in glorious full colour by Tony Ross. If you thought you had read about the World’s Worst Children already, you’re in for a rather nasty shock. The beastly boys and gruesome girls in this book are even ruder, even more disgusting and WORSE than you could ever imagine!
This gorgeous collection of ten stories from the master himself, David Walliams, will make you snort with laughter and thank your lucky stars that you don’t know anyone like Gruesome Griselda or Fussy Frankie in real life. It also features a special appearance from fan-favourite Raj! Gloriously illustrated in full colour throughout by artistic genius Tony Ross, The World’s Worst Children 2 is a side-splitting companion to David’s blockbuster hit, The World’s Worst Children, and the perfect gift for kids aged 9 and up.
This is the funniest book ever. Every kid in the whole entire world should read it. It’s really funny. We loved all of the stories and think that David Walliams is really funny.
Mama says: David Walliams is always a hit with the munch bunch and this book is no exception. His humour is on the harmless side of shocking which keeps the kids giggling and wanting more. I love him too! Our house is quickly becoming a shrine to David Walliams books, and the munch bunch can invariably be found tucked up with one or another of his books past light’s out.