Pageturners Holiday Reads

Daytime Pageturners had a great chat about their holiday reads. You may find your next book on this list:

The Premonition by Michael Lewis – about the pandemic, factual but written lie a story with scientists, epidemiologists et trying to explain how government prepared for pandemic. Also goes back in history to the Spanish flu.  It is well-researched, well written story with person al info about the characters involved and as well as the impact of social isolation. 4/5

Catch Us the Foxes by Nicole West – an Australian novel set in Kiama is rare, a bit disturbing, would’ve been better to have a fictional town, about homophobia and bullying and a murder, cults, lots of twists and turns, things happened that I didn’t expect. 3.5/5

When Things Are Alive They Hum by Hannan Brent – absolutely beautiful, well written, young sister had downs syndrome and co-morbidities, her name is Harper and I love the way she expresses herself. The author does have a downs syndrome sister, the older sister tries to save her with a heart transplant, they live in Hong Kong. 4/5

River of Dreams by Anita Heiss, indigenous story, beautifully written, based on fact where the river flooded and residents of Gundagai drowned, Aboriginals saved some of them, goes off on other tangents, it doesn’t preach, lovely and heartfelt. 4/5

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty observes family life of a tennis family, rising star, sibling rivalry, misinterpret communications, family history repeats, same style as the Family Doctor by Debra Oswald, contemporary writing style, a little implausible, seemed to be written as a film option. 3/5

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is based on a true story, describes the harsh living conditions in Iceland in the 1800s, really authentic, historical novel that narrates the final year in the life of the last woman to be publicly executed in Iceland, Agnes Magnúsdóttir. 3.5.

The Promise by Damon Galgut – last year’s Booker Prize winner – reminds me of Howard’s End, The Promise charts the crash and burn of a white South African family, living on a farm outside Pretoria. The Swarts are gathering for Ma’s funeral. The younger generation, Anton and Amor, detest everything the family stand for — not least the failed promise to the Black woman who has worked for them her whole life. After years of service, Salome was promised her own house, her own land… yet somehow, as each decade passes, that promise remains unfulfilled. It’s about  family relationships, about not keeping promises. 3.5

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – just fantastic.

Last of the Bonegilla Girls by Victoria Purman, about 4 women who went to Bonegella in Wodonga, it is Australian historical fiction, light read, drama, breaking down barriers of culture and language, those aged over 16 became a labourer or a domestic works. A post-Second World War story of strong female ties and family, secrets and lies, set in the multicultural Australia of the fifties. Can the Bonegilla girls defeat their past? Or will it come to claim them?

Rum – A Distilled History of Colonial Australia by Matt Murphy – I heard him interviewed about early Australian history, about the impact of Rum on the early settlement of Australia, there was a conscious decision not to have currency, you could barter with rum, there are also lots of footnotes, I learnt the difference between overproof and underproof, there are opinions on the different governors, mentions of John Macarthur, a good section on Bligh, it is not a long read and it is interesting. 4/5.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (he wrote All the Light We Cannot See which is being filmed) – this is a large book it is actually 3 books in one, it is a group of stories about different people, set in Constanople, one is born disfigured and considered the devil’s child and becomes and oxen whisperer, there is a girl in a convent, a siege is set up in a library, all the stories are interwoven. 4/5.

The Dark Hours by Michael Connelly – it is fast paced read but is more about the inner workings of the LAPD and the relationship of two cops Harry Bosch and Renee Bollard. They have to investigate a crime where a person was murdered during the tradition of firing shots into the air on New year’s Eve. 3/5

At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski – about older people and what their family would think. When Mim Squires and Mathias Vander are stranded together on a disrupted flight home to Perth, they are surprised to find that they have much in common. Mim owns a bookshop, Mathias is a writer, and both are at turning points in their lives. As Mim and Mathias both struggle to adjust to the challenges of being in their late seventies, secrets from the past that neither wishes to face rise to the surface, challenging their long-held beliefs in their independence and singularity.

Still Life  by Sarah Winman – the first 50 pages couldn’t get into, set in England, hard to describe. Publishers describe it as a big-hearted story of people brought together by love, war, art and the ghost of E.M. Forster. Moving from the Tuscan Hills and piazzas of Florence, to the smog of London’s East End, Still Life is a sweeping, joyful novel about beauty, love, family and fate. 4/5.

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri is about philosophy and people. Maids went to the Italian islands and went missing, abused by males while songbirds are poached to make money. The publishers says with infinite tenderness and skill, Christy Lefteri has crafted a powerful story about the unseen who walk among us, cleaning our homes and caring for our children – what it is to migrate in search of freedom, only to find yourself trapped. Songbirds is a triumphant exploration of loss, the strength of the human spirit and the unbreakable bonds of courage, and of love. 4/5

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