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Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

Title: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart
Author: Holly Ringland
Publisher: 19 March 2018 by Harper Collins (Australia)
Pages: 400 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: fiction, contemporary
My Rating: 5 crowns


The most enchanting debut novel of 2018, this is an irresistible, deeply moving and romantic story of a young girl, daughter of an abusive father, who has to learn the hard way that she can break the patterns of the past, live on her own terms and find her own strength. An enchanting and captivating novel, about how our untold stories haunt us - and the stories we tell ourselves in order to survive.
After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her idyllic seaside home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers, a way to say the things that are too hard to speak.
Under the watchful eye of June and the women who run the farm, Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family's story. In her early twenties, Alice's life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the dramatically beautiful central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.
Spanning two decades, set between sugar cane fields by the sea, a native Australian flower farm, and a celestial crater in the central desert, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart follows Alice's unforgettable journey, as she learns that the most powerful story she will ever possess is her own.

My Thoughts

‘Who were the people that sent flowers instead of words? How could a flower possibly say the same things as words? What would one of her books, made of thousands of words, look like in flowers?’

Having read the reviews and seen the incredible publicity surrounding this book,  I entered this read with cautiously high expectations. I was not disappointed, so much so, that if  there is one book you read this year, make it this one. I now fully appreciate the attention Holly Ringland is receiving as her book is a most worthy recipient. On these pages you will find complete heartbreak as secrets bring about such violence and regret. Yet through it all is hope and that is what you cling to. You can’t leave Alice’s side with all she seeks to be and do from such a young age, right through to adulthood.

I simply adore how each chapter opens with a drawing and detailed information of a particular native flower that would be pertinent to that chapter - each flower so clearly carefully selected. So whilst it may read like a guide to Australia’s native flora, it is so much more with the powerful links being made between the use of the flower and how it conveys or relates to the underlying theme of what you are about to read.

‘She might not know where or how to begin talking to the child, but she could do the next best thing. Teach her the ways of speaking through flowers.’

Then there are the array of characters - wow - so complex and engaging. Do not be misled though, this is not an easy read. In parts you will be confronted by terrible, horrific incidents of brutality and violence - but once again it is the flowers, the hope that you cling to. The settings are breathtaking - from coast to rural inland to remote desert. These locations add to the whole ambience of the novel.  Finally, the themes are almost as vast as the territory covered - heartbreak and incredible sadness, love and hate, secrets and betrayal, terrible trauma with the hope of survival. This is a tale of the lost and found, forgiveness and acceptance, renewal and the future. Huge isn’t it! Commanding it is!

‘Thornfield had always been a place where flowers and women could bloom. Every woman who came to Thornfield was given the opportunity to grow beyond the things in life that had trampled her.’

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart is one of ‘those’ books, as it will captivate and consume you. It is such an incredible story and so deftly handled, that you cannot fail to be moved by all it presents. Do yourself a favour and take a journey into the world of Alice Hart.

'Her future glowed ahead of her, an ember waiting to be breathed to life.'

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh

Title:  Let Me Lie
Author: Clare Mackintosh
Publisher: 13th March 2018 by Hachette/Sphere
Pages: 400 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: mystery, thriller
My Rating: 4 crowns

The police say it was suicide.
Anna says it was murder.
They're both wrong.
One year ago, Caroline Johnson chose to end her life brutally: a shocking suicide planned to match that of her husband just months before. Their daughter, Anna, has struggled to come to terms with their loss ever since.
Now with a young baby of her own, Anna misses her mother more than ever and starts to question her parents’ deaths. But by digging up their past, she’ll put her future in danger. Sometimes it’s safer to let things lie…
My Thoughts

“Some secrets shouldn’t be shared outside the family. Others shouldn’t be shared at all”.

‘Let Me Lie’ by Clare Mackintosh is a psychological thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed. Slowly built up, the story is told between alternating points of view from main characters and then an unknown person, but somehow involved. Who is this mystery narrator? Your guesses will continue to change throughout the story! Clare Mackintosh's crime writing is sublime as she weaves the complex plot with it's many twists and turns.

Firstly, can Clare Mackintosh write! It flows so well with good, strong character descriptions. You cannot help but feel for poor Anna - new partner, new baby and both parents gone through suicide - or have they? On the anniversary of the deaths, a mystery note sends her slow healing world into a spin. Who would do this and why? Keep reading! Then there are the secondary characters and I state straight away how much I loved the retired detective Murray. He, along with his wife Sarah, provide a super side story to the main plot as the author deftly handles the issues of mental illness and suicide. Obviously dealing with his own personal issues, it is his tenacity in pursuing this cold case in an effort to assist Anna, that endears him to the reader.

Apart from those two main leads, add into the mixture Anna’s new partner and father to her child, Mark and what role he might play in handling Anna who was once his patient. Anna’s Uncle Billy, her mother’s godchild Laura, even the neighbour and you really are provided with a good strong ensemble of players in the tale.

I had previous read Clare’s ‘I Let You Go’ and was impressed. If you haven’t read her books before then you simply must. Unable to really cannot discuss the plot, I would still highly recommend this book as once again the complexity, depth of characters, vivid descriptions and killer twists all lends itself to a very entertaining read.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release