Delighted to be asked to share some of my writing experience on this blog. To be honest, I’m a little jealous of The (Oblivious) New Mama when I see those gorgeous Instagram pictures of her lovely son, but then I remember the twenty-four-seven job that […]
The collected works of Liane Moriarty, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl;it seems as though the past few years the genre of domestic thrillers was born thanks to some truly epic female authors. I don’t quite know what it is about these types of books, but there is something about them that I simply cannot go past when it comes time for me to buy a whole new haul of books. There is something so deliciously erotic about this new sub-genre that has captured a huge audience over the past few years and, whatever the formula is for these stories, it is a winner.
I hadn’t heard of A Simple Favour before interviews with Anna Kendricks and Blake Lively started popping up all over the internet as they kicked off the press run for their movie of the same name. I love both of those actresses and the trailer was good and then I learned that it was a novel before a movie (of course it was) and that was it, I knew I had to read it.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, yes, however there were a few things that I felt a tad underwhelmed by. But more on that in a bit.
“She’s your best friend.
She knows all your secrets.
That’s why she’s so dangerous.
A single mother’s life is turned upside down when her best friend vanishes in this chilling debut thriller. It starts with a simple favor—an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another. When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son Nicky after school, she happily says yes. Nicky and her son, Miles, are classmates and best friends, and the five-year-olds love being together—just like she and Emily. A widow and stay-at-home mommy blogger living in woodsy suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a sophisticated PR executive whose job in Manhattan demands so much of her time.
But Emily doesn’t come back. She doesn’t answer calls or return texts. Stephanie knows something is terribly wrong—Emily would never leave Nicky, no matter what the police say. Terrified, she reaches out to her blog readers for help. She also reaches out to Emily’s husband, the handsome, reticent Sean, offering emotional support. It’s the least she can do for her best friend. Then, she and Sean receive shocking news. Emily is dead. The nightmare of her disappearance is over.
Or is it? Because soon, Stephanie will begin to see that nothing—not friendship, love, or even an ordinary favor—is as simple as it seems.”
From the blurb, A Simple Favour has all the promise of a truly gripping mystery/thriller and it is what made me want to dive into this book immediately. What I liked about this book is that I had no idea what to expect. The disappearance of Emily was sudden and unexplained and left me conjuring so many possibilities as to what could have made her run away from her life. I also appreciated that the ‘action’ started almost immediately – the disappearance takes place quite early on in the book and the remaining characters are left scrambling to figure things out.
What I found though was that the blurb offered more bark than bite. And, although I loved that we were thrown into disarray with Emily’s disappearance so early on, it meant that the characters were (extremely) undercooked. Yes, we are given shallow insights into their pasts and all of their secrets but there isn’t enough time in the book before everything kicks off to develop any real emotional connections with any of the characters. I can’t say too much without spoiling some of the story, but the secrets that each of them have weren’t that shocking to me either. Maybe my resolve has become hardened by all of the books of this genre that I have read, or maybe I am just used to all the awful shit that happens in real life that I read or hear about on the news – but what the two main characters claim to be their darkest secrets weren’t all that shocking to me. At all.
I am also someone who loves being kept guessing until the very end, until the very most absolute last moment. I felt that the explanation of Emily’s disappearance came too quickly in the story and found that after it was uncovered, I found myself far less interested in the characters and the story itself. When the main elements of the mystery were revealed I found that I was able to predict and piece together the rest pretty easily and quickly.
It was a simple read and much like books of the same vein, even though the characters lacked for me, there is still that mysterious, dark element that keeps you turning every page. A Simple Favour is one of those books that you enjoy while you are reading it and would probably recommend to a friend because it is entertaining and easy to dive into. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I really want to because, maybe for the first time ever, I think you could do a lot more with the story than with what is written in the book.
I was insanely excited to read this book; as soon as I learned of its existence, I was intrigued. Non-fiction, autobiographies and memoirs are not something that I read often, nor are they what I enjoy reading (which sometimes I think is a bit strange […]
Swedish authors are incredible. If you haven’t read a book by a Swedish author, do yourself a favour – buy one and read it immediately. I was first introduced to Swedish authors when I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It took […]
Where do I even begin?! Seriously. This year may have been hard, and challenging, and completely gut-wrenching at times, but it has also been rewarding and the most life-changing, transformative period of my life. And, I do feel that Summer 2018-19 is going to be a damn goodun’.
I know I should probably wait to post this when the list is complete (but it will never be complete, let’s be honest), but I am so excited for the weeks I have off in the lead up to my due date that I couldn’t help myself this kinda’ dreary Thursday afternoon! I was scrolling through my instagram feed the other day for some reason that I can’t remember, and I got so far down my post history that I landed back in the summer of 2017. I remember that summer possibly better than any other one that preceded it, but not for the reasons that you may think. I was deeply unhappy, but it was the kind of unhappiness that became so ingrained in me that I accepted it and almost treated it as a friend. I was staying in the suburb of Cremorne a lot and found myself so comfortable in my loneliness which, looking back on now is equal parts devastating and heartbreaking but I remember it feeling so freeing. I wasn’t fighting against my pain, I instead made friends with it.
What that meant for me was a lot of walks to and from the shops early in the morning to pick up a coffee and the newspaper for myself. I had time off from the cafe where I was still working, while those around me were still at their jobs after Christmas so I had nothing to do except fill my days however I wanted to. I had been dealing with my anxiety which always flared up when I ventured into areas of Sydney or did activities that I didn’t normally do, however I think the deep and enveloping melancholy nature of how I was feeling made me look past the point of my anxiety. I didn’t care. This worked in an odd way for me. I didn’t care how sad or anxious I felt that I would numbly drive myself to Balmoral Beach before seven in the morning, set my towel up and plunge into the cold water for hours on end. Then I walked to The Boat House and bought myself breakfast and a coffee and sat watching the water. I also took myself on a lot of picnics, surrounding myself with punnets of berries, my notebook and whatever book I was reading.
All those days and hours that I spent alone, I spent reading. I churned through more books that summer than I ever had before. I was averaging almost two books a day, and had to buy new books every week to see me through those hot months. It didn’t matter where I was, I was reading. I found solace in the books’ pages and familiarised myself with the characters I was getting to know everyday. I had company when I was reading and I think that the loneliness I felt actually showed me a completely new way to read. Never before had I immerse myself in literature like I did that summer.
Whenever I think about maternity leave, I find my mind wandering to what books I will read in the lead up to our son being born. I get giddy when I think about it and yesterday found myself wanting to reread some of the books I read that summer. I wandered around my house when I got home from work yesterday and pulled titles from my shelves – some that I have already read and others that I have been meaning to read for years. I don’t doubt that I will add to this pile (I will have to, my initial picks will nowhere near see me through summer), but for now I am allowing myself to feel that indescribable excitement one has at the prospect of a ‘to be read’ pile just waiting to be devoured.
My Thoughts Exactly by Lily Allen
This is the only new release in my pile at the moment. I wrote a blog piece about this book and I am so incredibly keen to read it. I have never been one for biographies or autobiographies, but when news of this book and the stories it contains hit my news feed I knew I wanted in. Lily Allen has never been someone I have kept track of although over the years, I have enjoyed listening to her music when it pops up. When the news started reporting on the content of My Thoughts Exactly, I was immediately intrigued. I have often been told that the amount of stories and ‘life experience’ that I have had in my short twenty-seven years on this earth is almost unbelievable, and I don’t know – I guess I just felt that maybe I am not the only one who feels this way, who feels as though their person is but a tapestry of events and experiences and unbelievable happenings. Keen. To. Read.
A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay
At work, we have a shelf in the kitchen where people leave books they don’t want or ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) that they have received from other publishers. I picked up A Noise Downstairs, drawn to it because I am absolutely loving the thriller genre at the moment. I had never heard of this book before, but once I read the back and a couple of reviews online, I was anxious to finish the book I am reading at the moment just so I could start this one.. read the blurb online. Do it. Do it.
River Run by Nicole Alexander
Nicole Alexander holds a special place in my heart. She was the first person to accept my invitation to be a #WCW when I founded The #WCW Project through my old blog, Don’t Ask Leah. Nicole had no idea who I was, but when I contacted her out of the blue and requested an interview she immediately accepted and we had an amazing, long and incredibly humbling phone conversation. I didn’t feel as though I was interviewing her, instead I felt as though I was talking to an old friend. I hadn’t read any of her work cover to cover before then, however had flicked through all of her backlist during my time at Angus and Robertson. River Run is her most recent book and I bought it as soon as it came out and it has remained on my ‘to be read’ pile ever since. This summer, it’s happening; and summer really is the perfect time to read a Nicole Alexander book because her description of the Australian landscape and climate and smells and sounds are just impeccable.
Still Summer by Jacqueline Mitchard
This is another one that I grabbed from work the other day. I skim-read the back and it sounded like the perfect, light, drama-filled read that every summer reading list needs and deserves. Much like when I read Candace Bushnell’s Killing Monica, I go into books like this not expecting to be blown away by keen literary skill or turn of phrase, I go into them expecting to be entertained and not have to think too much. I think the blurb speaks for itself and I do love a good simple read so this is another one I am excited to devour (easily).
“In high school, Olivia, Tracy and Holly had been known as The Godmothers, and their friendship has endured throughout the ensuing decades. Now, with the death of Olivia’s husband, a wealthy Italian Count, and her return to America, the friends decide to reunite on a luxury cruise in the Caribbean. Along with Tracy’s college-aged daughter and a two-man crew, they begin their journey uneventfully, enjoying the sun and the warm, clear waters of the Caribbean.
Then, a series of devastating events unfolds, leaving the women crewless, starving and terrified. Almost overnight, what was meant to be a blissful vacation devolves into a desperate fight for survival, as they soon find themselves battling the elements, a horrifying attack by drug traffickers, and their own frailties. It is at once a story about the bonds of friendship, the love between mothers and their children, and the strengths we don’t know we possess until we are faced with our own mortality.”
To The Sea by Christine Dibley
This was one of the highlights of the summer I spent the first few paragraphs rambling about. The way the Dibley described the Tasmanian coastline and the natural elements that the story worked around was nothing short of genius. I absolutely loved every single moment of this book and was utterly devastated when I was nearing the end of the book, and even more so when I completed it. This is also possibly the book I am looking forward to (re)reading most this summer. It is a family drama/crime/thriller which delivers on all fronts; not only is it suspenseful, but the twist and conclusion of the story certainly delivered AND the writing was absolutely beautiful. If you haven’t heard of this one, do yourself a favour and purchase immediately (if not sooner). A beautiful, haunting read. Literally cannot say enough good things about it. For real. So good. AMAZING.
Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey
This book I found when I was on my lunchtime walk down King Street in Newtown and wound up at Vinnies. I always keep an eye on the new releases and when this one appeared on my radar, it stayed there. The books you find at Vinnies are normally from years and years past but there, on the bookshelf sat a next-to-new copy of Whistle in the Dark for four dollars. FOUR DOLLARS for a new release?! How could I not buy it?
“Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days.
When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and police draw a blank. The once-happy, loving family return to London where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: making secretive phone calls, hiding books under her bed, sleeping with the light on.As Lana stays stubbornly silent, Jen sets out to solve the mystery behind her daughter’s disappearance herself…”
The Witches by Roald Dahl
This may seem like a bit of a weird addition to a pregnant twenty-seven year old’s summer reading list, I assure you it is anything but. I was talking to my friend about that old 80s movie Return to Oz.. which, if you haven’t seen it you should, but for some reason it also made me think of the film adaptation of The Witches. And then I realised that I haven’t read it in almost two decades and then I thought about how magical and amazing and creative and wondrous Dahl’s mind was and I think everyone’s summer could do with a bit of whimsy (albeit creepy whimsy).
A Little Change of Face by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
So – I read this when I was about fifteen on one of our family trips to Perth when we went to visit one of my godmothers. It was the first ‘older’ book that I bought myself and when I read the (rather juvenile) blurb, I thought that the protagonist sounded fabulous and the storyline sounded sexy and intriguing. I don’t remember anything about this book at all, having read it almost thirteen years ago now. But every time I have moved house and had to pack everything up, I have held this book in my hands and never wanted to part with it, promising myself that I would read it again one day soon.
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
I will admit that I hadn’t heard of this book before I was sick at home one day and the movie adaptation as on Foxtel during the day. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the whole idea behind the book club and, in fact, this film/book was one of the main inspirations when it came to me creating the Cliterature Club. I loved that they wanted to celebrate Jane Austen, who is of course an absolute pioneer of women and literature, but also that each of them were able to draw comparisons with the novels and their own life. I mean, that is one of the absolute beauties of reading, right? We are able to feel less alone, we find different parts of ourselves in the stories of others. I vowed that after watching the film I would read the book, because if I felt that strongly towards each of the characters on a screen, imagine how I will feel when I read them on the page..
I first came across The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society when I was working in Angus & Robertson in Chatswood. It was a new release and I remember reading the back of it and feeling immediately drawn to the main character, Juliet Ashton. She […]