May 2016 favourite reads

Deborah CookLife 20 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.

I cannot believe we’re almost half-way through the year already…. in fact I’m a little shocked the Christmas decorations aren’t out already. But as for my month, it’s been busy with lots of reading amidst the usual boring stuff. It’s definitely been a case of too many books, too little time – but I’ve narrowed it down for you and here are my favourite new releases.

1. Other Side of the Season by Jenn J McLeod
Supposedly enroute to Byron Bay to look for work, Sidney lures her brother to Watercolour Cove in an attempt to track down their estranged grandfather who’s in prison nearby. On discovering he’s passed away their detour becomes less-brief and they find themselves enjoying life in the small community and as caretakers of an art gallery and (seasonal) B & B.

McLeod mixes things up because at the same time we’re meeting the wealthy Greenhill family and their neighbours on NSW banana plantations in 1979.

Obviously the two unfolding plots intersect, and secrets are revealed and lies uncovered. McLeod delves a little deeper here and has we readers considering the decisions we make and the impact they have for years to come. A great read by the Aussie author.

the other side of the season

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2. Gotham (and Venice) by Nick Earls
Last year I heard Nick Earls speak about an upcoming project. It was something different, he explained: a series of novellas released over a five month period. All inter-related and ultimately forming a collection – The Wisdom Tree.

I’ve now read the first and second novellas in the series and am reminded of Earls’ seemingly effortless ability to spin a yarn.

Released on 1 June Gotham, was AMAZING and features an Australian music journalist who’s in New York (with his wife and young daughter) to interview an up and coming music artist. Jeff is a seasoned freelance journalist who’s passionate about music, but there to do a job and wonderfully pragmatic about the gig. And we soon learn what’s driving him.

Venice will be released on 1 July and is centred around 32 year old Ryan who’s staying with his sister, her husband and their 4yr old child, Harrison. His hosts lead busy lives so the unemployed Ryan finds himself picking up the slack with his nephew who’s much loved but seemingly a low priority in his busy parents’ lives.

I know a lot of people struggle to read on a regular basis. And a novella is the ideal antidote. It gives you an opportunity to engage with characters, but at 50-60 pages, it’s not an onerous time commitment for even the busiest of people.

nick earls novellas
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3. A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester
This book was actually released in April but I skipped it at the time because I thought I’d hate it. And then I accidentally downloaded it. #longstory #dontask

I don’t read historical fiction. At all. Ever. But…. I bloody loved this book, which is set in the 1920s. So… you know… historical.

Everyone around Evelyn Lockhart has their hearts set on her marrying childhood friend – the wealthy Charlie Whitman. Evelyn, however, has other plans. After seeing a woman die in childbirth she’s determined to become an obstetrician – much to the chagrin of society, her colleagues at the male dominated Columbia Medical School and her own family and friends.

Thankfully Australian author, Lester, doesn’t allow the book to devolve into an angst-ridden family saga; and we’re not beaten over the head with historical information. It’s enlightening though – the horrendous practices of the medical professionals and their attitude to pregnant women and labour will have you breathing a sigh of relief for advances in medicine and technology AND the feminist movement.

a kiss from mr fitzgerald

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4. Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman
I should mention that Britt-Marie takes some getting used to. Recently separated from her husband of twenty years Britt-Marie is on her own and needs a job. She says she’ll take anything so becomes caretaker of a community centre on the verge of closure in the dying backwater of Borg (Sweden).

Instead of being annoyed by Britt-Marie’s quirks, the local community accept them. And despite knowing nothing about the sport she finds herself coaching the local soccer team which is as fractured but hopeful as the community itself.

I loved Backman’s writing and he portrays Britt-Marie magnificently. She’d most likely be diagnosed as an obsessive-compulsive or similar but the locals of Borg take her foibles in their stride. There’s also a deeper side to the novel as Britt-Marie rebuilds her confidence and she (and Borg) get a second chance at life.

britt marie was here

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5. The Dry by Jane Harper
I’ve not reviewed this on my blog yet because it’s not out until 31 May and it’s apparently much-awaited after a bidding war when the manuscript went to auction.

Harper is an Australian novelist and this wonderful debut novel does a great job at highlighting the challenges facing those on the land and those living in rural Australia.

Australian Federal Police officer Aaron Falk is forced to return to his childhood hometown two decades after leaving under a cloud. His childhood best friend has – apparently – killed himself and his family. Perhaps in a fit of despondency over the difficulties of life on the land. Or perhaps in anger.

Aaron’s forced to hang around and work with a local cop as a favour to the parents of his friend who believe their son to be innocent.

Other reviewers I know are raving about this book. I didn’t love it as much as them, but enjoyed it a lot. I particularly liked Aaron and loved the complexity Harper instilled in his character.

the dry by jane harper

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And that’s it for this month. I hope you can find something you enjoy here but if not I’ll be back next month to share some of my favourite books ever.

What are you reading at the moment?
Do you like the idea of a book which is published in episodes?

debbishDeborah Cook blogs about books, not-dieting and life in general at Debbish. Her life-long love of reading is only surpassed by her addiction to vanilla diet coke (which she’s attempting to give up), baths, chocolate and champagne.

Comments 20

  1. Great picks!
    A Kiss From Fitzgerald looks really good. I do love books set in the 20s. I think it is a great time period of excess right before things kinda fell apart. Britt- Marie was Here looks so good. I got it from BEA this year, I can’t wait to fit it into my reading schedule.

    1. Britt-Marie was a huge surprise to me Karen. (As a few books have been lately.) I actually assumed I’d struggle with it but loved the character and the book. And the writing is great!

  2. Britt-Marie Was Here is supposed to be a big one this summer 🙂 Right now I’m reading summer romances b/c here in the States, it’s getting “hot” outside. And as for those serial books or books published in episodes? HATE THEM!!! I can’t even stomach a cliffhanger in a normal book 😉 But that’s just my humble opinion…

    1. Ha! Thankfully these are stand-alone novellas so no cliffhangers Kristin. I tried to read a murder mystery in episodes but didn’t enjoy the book so stopped after number 1. I’m not a fan of short stories but find the novella is somewhere in between a short story and a novel, so don’t mind them as much!

  3. I do like historical fiction and put the book on my TBR list. The Dry also sounds like my kind of book. It is hard to believe that the year is almost half over.

  4. I love reading your reviews Deb! I rarely get the chance to read a book, but you definitely get me feeling all bookish. Brit-Marie sounds like something I’d read. I’ll add it to my library list (which is growing not shrinking – LOL)

    1. I used the word ‘quirky’ a lot in my review Leanne as it’s hard to find other adjectives which do it justice. The author (Fredrik Backman) is apparently a Swedish blogger. I really liked his writing so must check out a translated version of his blog!

  5. I’m not one for historical fiction, either, but I find myself now drawn to many books from the 1920s and onward….they actually don’t feel like historical to me, which label I now reserve for the nineteenth century and before.

    I love the cover of A Kiss from Mr. Fitzgerald.

    1. I think you’d enjoy it Laurel! I read Kate Morton’s books and they’re usually unfolding in dual timeframes – so a ‘bit’ of historical fiction!

    1. I loved Natasha’s book and loved that it was set in the US. For some reason almost all historical fiction I read (which isn’t a lot TBH) is set in England!

  6. The Dry sounds really good. I need to try an Australian book. I love British crime novels so I am sure I would like Aussie ones too. 🙂

    1. Candice Fox writes some gritty ones Stormi but there are a stack of other great authors. Am nervous about giving examples because there are so many, but I’ll make sure I include more on my blog!

  7. I love the idea of reading a series of novellas and the 1920s based novel also sounds really interesting and different!

    1. I think the novellas are perfect for those with limited time Jess. You can buy them electronically and I understand the compilation will be sold as a whole once complete. I’m enjoying each ‘episode’ at the moment. It’s a nice change for me to read something of a different length and pace.

    1. Ah yes, that’s one I’ve read as well. I enjoyed it but found it a little disjointed in places. Some interesting themes though re parenting, divorce, friendships and loss!

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