March 2016 favourite reads

Deborah CookLife 21 Comments

Editor’s note: Please welcome back Deborah from Debbish dot com who’s sharing her favourite new releases with Styling You readers each month. 

After a bumper crop of books last month, March started a little slowly. I usually read most nights and – although my (to-be-read) pile rivalled Mt Kosciuszko the big hill at the end of my street – nothing jumped out at me. Naturally I started to panic that I’d lost my reading mojo. (Cos I am, if nothing else, a drama queen!)

And then suddenly…  there was a flurry of activity marking the arrival of A STACK of books – perfectly timed for those who may have some down-time over Easter or upcoming school holidays.

1. The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
Musical genius and child prodigy Zoe Maisie was just 14yrs old when she was incarcerated for causing the death of three teenagers. A few years later Zoe’s living what she calls her Second Chance Life, with mother Maria, along with a new step-father, step-brother and baby half sister.

We meet Zoe as she’s about to give her first public piano recital in years – unfortunately timed, as the secret Maria and Zoe have kept from their new family and circle of friends is exposed. (As an aside… honestly, will people NEVER learn?) Anyhoo…. When Maria is killed later that night it’s only natural the police look to those closest to her. #dumdum

Macmillan sends readers down a few rabbit holes before tying up loose threads and it’s all set against the unfolding story of the events leading to Zoe’s arrest years earlier.

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

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2. Primary School Confidential by Mrs Woog
It’s always a bit daunting when someone whose work you admire releases a new baby into the world. I’m a fan of Mrs Woog’s blog, Woogsworld, so had fairly high expectations of an extended version of her no-holds-barred take on the world.

And thankfully I was not disappointed as her primary school exposé (well, of sorts!) offers the blunt hilarity to which we’ve become accustomed. Indeed – it’s a cliche but – I laughed out loud in bits and it brought back a lot of memories from my own school days.

The book’s essentially divvied up into three sections broadly covering Woogie’s primary school years; her primary school teaching career; and life as a mum of primary school kids.

In my review I harped on a bit about the structure and editing (as it jumped about a little) but I’m also conscious non-fiction doesn’t lend itself to easily what goes where.

That aside, Mrs Woog’s innate sense of humour and ability to spin a yarn sets her (and her writing) apart from others and fans will not be disappointed.

Primary School Confidential by Mrs Woog

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3. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
Caroline Kepnes’ debut novel You was much-lauded amongst book bloggers, reviewers and fans of psychological thrillers. It featured bookshop manager and psychopath Joe and the sociopathic object of his obsession, Beck. We discovered in You that Joe has a habit of becoming disillusioned with – and (ahem) disposing of – girlfriends (and others) as required. Although #natch (he believes) they deserve it. 😉

Well… he’s back. And this time around Joe has a new girlfriend. Well, briefly. Amy screws Joe over in a con and we all know Joe’s not going to take something like that lying down…

Again we’re in Joe’s head and the story’s being told in first person from his point of view, so sometimes he can almost seem sane. He can make murder and mayhem seem almost logical. Again I love Joe’s wit and wry humour and, as long as you have a strong stomach for blunt references to sex, happily identify with psychopaths and swearing is not an issue, well… you won’t wanna miss this one.

Hidden bodies by Caroline Kepnes

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4. All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford
We meet Penelope (Pen) Sheppard when she returns ‘home’ and to the psychiatrist she hasn’t visited for a couple of years. Through these sessions and her diary we learn of her past as well as her recent experiences at college – where there have been a spate of attacks on young women.

Clifford offers lots of twists and turns in this debut novel as well as some rather complex characters. Pen is flawed, but I loved her as a  narrator and it was very easy to get drawn into her world.

I did not want to put this book down. Be warned however – it’s one which definitely challenges readers’ morals and / or sense of justice. Right and wrong become very murky for Pen and her friends.

I didn’t see the events of the very end coming and must admit I wasn’t entirely enamoured with the book’s conclusion. It would (however) be a great read for bookclubs as there’s a lot to debate and discuss. Over wine of course.

All these perfect strangers by Aoife Clifford

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Those playing along at home may note I’ve only included four faves this month instead of my usual five. Well… that’s because I have a terrible confession… (forgive me for I have sinned. Etcetera.) I’m behind in my March reading (because of my aforementioned apathy and the late arrivals!), so I’m sharing a select few here today, with links if you’d like to know more.

But quickly, Inga Simpson writes beautiful novels in exquisite Australian settings. Six-Four apparently sold a million copies in six days (but has a gazillion pages!). Rachael John’s latest book is hugely popular and her work is always much loved.  And well, everyone in Australia is talking about Stan Grant.

other books1. Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson | 2. Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama |
3. Outback Sisters by Rachael Johns | 4. Talking to my Country by Stan Grant

And that’s it for this month. I hope those who celebrate Easter enjoy the festivities and others (like me) just enjoy their chocolate treats. I personally am a lover of Red Tulip bunnies. Haigh Schmaigh. Lindt Schmindt. Bring on the Red Tulip elegant rabbits!

Will you be adding any of these books to your autumn reading list? 
Any other new releases I might have missed? 

debbishDeborah blogs about books, not-dieting and life in general at debbish.com. Her life-long love of reading is only surpassed by her addiction to vanilla diet coke, baths, chocolate and champagne. 

Comments 21

  1. I love the sound of ‘The Perfect Girl’ and ‘Hidden Bodies’.
    I definitely would like to check them out. I heard a lot about the book before ‘Hidden Bodies’.. I should read that one first.. but I’m definitely adding them to my TBR!! Great list Deborah! 😉

    1. Yes Maureen, I’d definitely read ‘You’ first. It’s probably not completely necessary but it’s a good read and gives you more context and insight into Joe.

    1. Too true Emma. It was strange as February was such a big book month, but I was conscious that I might have missed some popular reads given I was behind in my own reading!

  2. I love your reviews, and always find some more books to add to my TBR pile. I’m dreading starting the school gate torture next year, so Mrs Woog’s book is a definite need to read!

    I also love when you review a book in a series, as I end up having multiple additions, as I inevitably get the previous books (the Thyme series by TJ Hamilton springs to mind).

    And I look forward to dissecting some of these over wine!

    1. Sounds like a plan. I enjoy discovering new series as well, but it’s a doubled-edged sword. Sometimes it’s great cos you’ve got a heap of old books to catch up on; but other times it’s hard reading things out of sequence as some later books include spoilers of earlier books!

  3. thanks deb! … always great to get and an honest opinion, albeit everyone’s perspective is different!
    i’m painting more than reading at the moment though!
    enjoy your easter! love m:)X

    1. Very true in relation to everyone’s perspective Merilyn. I read a lot of book reviews and book blogs and it’s always interesting to see how different people can take different things from a book.

  4. Great reviews, thanks Deborah. Perfect Girl and All These Perfect Strangers look like books to add to my list. I picked up Suffragette a few days ago, not new I know, but I’m greatly enjoying it. Happy Easter!

    1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying Suffragette Kathryn! (And on that note…) there have been so many great books made into movies recently. I guess it’s always been the case but I felt very conscious of that fact during this year’s Oscars and seeing the ‘Best Picture’ nominees!

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