January 2019

Thank you for dropping by for this first newsletter for the New Year. As I write this, it is the final day of the Australia Day long weekend and I have to admit I will be pleased to see the crowds lessen a little. The coast has been filled to overflowing for the past few weeks, with so many families enjoying what has obviously been a very successful holiday season.

Weatherwise, we have been blessed with temperatures constantly between 30 and 32 degrees. Yes it is hot, but compared to the extreme heatwaves in the southern states, and the deluge of monsoonal rain in the north we really have nothing to complain about.

So, staying indoors to avoid the crowds and the heat, has given me the opportunity to complete my next book – A Memoir Course, Just for you – well at least that is the working title. After four drafts, my beta readers have given it the thumbs up, so all that remains now is to approach a graphic designer for a cover and it will be ready to publish. This one is for those of you who would like to write your own memoir, but don’t know how to begin. There will be two versions – a hard copy you can use as a workbook, and an e-book. Both have the same information but the workbook allows you to make notes as you read through. Watch for a revamped website next month

My Monday Memoir class has returned for the year and it was heart-lifting to see the group again as they arrived full of life, energy and laughter, with plenty of stories to tell. I will continue with both workshops and classes this year as both have proved an enjoyable alternative to actually writing. If you are interested in either the classes, or would like to pre-order one of the books, get in touch with me through the ‘Contact Me’ tab on the website.

Summer means reading to me and I think I the year has got off to a flying start with some beauties to recommend to you. I’m not a fan of Australian outback stories, but ‘The Lost Man’ by Jane Harper had me gripped from the first page.

This is the third book by Jane Harper, and I think it is her best one yet. Sometimes it is the characters that stay with you after you have finished reading a novel; sometimes it is the location. Both stayed with me for days after I finished this book as Jane Harper managed to bring both to life in such a way that from the first page, you are immediately drawn into the story and remain completely absorbed. Her vivid descriptions of life in outback Queensland leave the reader in no doubt of the toughness of life on the land and of the people who survive and call it home.

In the unremitting spirit of the landscape the deeply troubled Bright family search for the truth behind the mysterious death of one of their own.

‘Three brothers, one death, a fence-line stretching to the horizon.

Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother Cameron.

The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.’

To go into more detail will spoil the rewards you’ll find in this book. If you only read one book this year, make it ‘The Lost Man’.

For something completely different I recommend you try ‘Postcards from a Stranger’ by Imogen Clark.

Imogen Clark is a Yorkshire author, new to me, and I was pleased to discover she has an easy way of writing that immediately draws the reader into her story. Books that centre on the search for a mother, have a particular resonance with me as that is my own story, so after reading the synopsis, I was keen to read this book and it lived up to my expectations.

While caring for her elderly father, Cara stumbles across a stash of old postcards in the attic. Their contents make her question everything she thought she knew.

The story she pieces together is confusing and unsettling, and appears to have been patched over with lies. But who can tell her the truth? With her father sinking into Alzheimer’s and her brother reluctant to help, it seems Cara will never find the answers to her questions. One thing is clear, though: someone knows more than they’re letting on.

Torn between loyalty to her family and dread of what she might find, Cara digs into the early years of her parents’ troubled marriage, hunting down long-lost relatives who might help unravel the mystery, but the picture that begins to emerge is not at all the one she’d expected. As she soon discovers, lies have a habit of multiplying.

The book deals with the complexities of a family, and how, ultimately, the lack of truth can affect future relationships. The story was written honestly with believable characters, especially showing Cara’s feelings of frustration and guilt as she cares for a loved one who is no longer the person they once were. Her determination to uncover the mystery behind a box of recently discovered postcards makes an interesting and enjoyable story.

So 2019 got off to a great start with some fine reading. Already I have more to share with you, and many more on my ‘to be read’ list. It promises to be the year of the book for me. See you all next month.

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