I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.
“A Perfect Square” by Isobel Blackthorn is an Australian novel about two mothers and two daughters. Eccentric artist Harriet has her carefully controlled bohemian-bourgeois lifestyle in the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria upturned when her pianist daughter Ginny moves back home after a breakup. Tension crackles between them as Ginny tries to pry the truth about her father from her mother and they collaborate on a joint exhibition. In the UK, another artist called Judith struggles with her own daughter Madeline, and as the novel progresses the connections between the two families become more and more clear.
This is a dark and fraught story about the complexity of female relationships, and particularly mother-daughter relationships. I found Harriet a particularly fascinating character who straddles privilege and a more modest artistic lifestyle, who balances innate talent against anxiety about originality, and who wants to see her daughter flourish yet feels envy about her daughter’s success. I felt like there was some real honesty in the way that Blackthorn described an artist’s life. Harriet’s self-doubt and reliance on selling her artworks rather than just painting whatever felt very real to me. Blackthorn also explored some interesting ideas about fatherhood, being a single parent, and how much love and affection is the right amount to give to children.
The focus of the novel was definitely on Harriet and Ginny’s relationship, but the second half of the book had much more of a thriller theme. There were two families, but the majority of the story was so much about Harriet and Ginny that Judith and Madeline were effectively only support characters. I think that I would have liked to have seen either equal airtime for Judith and Madeline to better strengthen the overall sense of suspense, or to have removed them altogether and let Harriet and Ginny carry the story by themselves. I also felt a little like Ginny’s two best friends were support characters as well. It seemed like they had no lives of their own outside Ginny’s sphere of perception and I didn’t feel like Ginny had individual relationships with either of them.
A tense story with some difficult yet universal themes, this book gives an interesting perspective into the lifestyle of artists and expectations around motherhood.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author.
“Clovers” by Samira is a science fiction parody about Androxen, mercreatures who live in the Earth’s ocean and procreate with human women. However, despite living in relative secrecy from their human counterparts, increasing interaction brings the Earth’s dire situation to their awareness. The Androxen decide to seek help and send a message out into space to be intercepted by aliens.
This is a creative book interspersed with lots of colourful illustrations that you need a colour eReader to fully appreciate. It is a creative and light-hearted story that casts humanity into relief against two other sentient races. The book is structured like a anthropological text told by the fictional Samira.
At times however, this book can seem a little overwritten. The author relies very heavily on alliteration and the story is sometimes obscured by the wordplay.
A fun spin on the science-fiction genre that is as much about the words as it is the story.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. I was immediately intrigued by the premise – four love stories that cross through time and space.
“Bender” by Alexander Rigby is a historical fiction/science fiction hybrid novel about four star-crossed couples whose love is forbidden. During ancient Egyptian times, a pharaoh’s daughter falls for a slave. In Renaissance Italy where homosexuality is punishable by death, two men fall in love. In 1980s USA, two people meet who are already taken. Then, in an Argentina set 200 years from now, two women find themselves in an impossible situation.
Rigby is an elegant writer who fills his pages with rich imagery. This is a well-paced story that keeps you turning your pages to find out the fates of each of the four couples. Rigby’s concept is refreshingly original and thought-provoking. I found myself pondering the meaning of life, love and souls more than once throughout this book. The only thing I found a bit challenging about this book were that some of the stories, namely the ancient Egyptian and futuristic Argentinian stories, hooked me more than others.
A great book for anyone who is into romance, historical fiction or light science fiction.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the author. It is a crime thriller, which isn’t a genre I read much of, so I was interested to see what it was about.
“Kay’s Revenge” by C Halls is a crime thriller about Hollywood star Michael Miller. On the surface it seems like good guy Miller has it all: looks, career and a model girlfriend. He even has a fan-turned-stalker who has upped the ante with her messaging. However, beneath this veneer is a violent alcoholic whose hazy nights out are starting to affect his reputation. When he finds himself arrested for a crime he has no memory of, Miller starts to wonder if there is something else at play. If someone is deliberately trying to ruin his reputation and, ultimately, his life.
Halls is a detailed writer with a particular interest in the grey areas in issues such as self-defence, domestic violence and consent. Miller is a complex protagonist who struggles with hypocrisy and the fine line between being a good guy and a bad guy. Although capable of heroics, he is also capable of extreme violence and manipulation and as a reader, he is ultimately a bit of a difficult character to empathise with. At over 700 pages, this is quite a long book for a thriller and Halls does sacrifice some of the pacing by going over the same events from several perspectives and detailing long conversations between characters.
A book for people who like violence, crime and drama.