The Husband Poisoner – Tanya Bretherton

So admittedly my husband was a little concerned when he discovered this book sitting on my kitchen bench – lol.

This was such a fascinating read, and unlike anything I’ve ever read before.  I don’t usually read a lot of non-fiction books unless they are true crime related and often about stories that are well publicised so it was so interesting to read this one and the lesser known crimes of some suburban Sydney housewives who decided to do away with their husbands or random members of their families.

Mainly set around the late 1940’s to the mid 1950’s, while this was an inside look into how you can find some nifty ways to use rat poison if you wanted to remove someone from your life, it was so much more than that.  It was a look into how so many of the regulations we know today came into effect. From banning dangerous poisons like Thallium that were once easily purchased at your local chemist, to introducing the food safety acts to ensure the food we purchase is healthy, safe and not contaminated in anyway.

For the locals out there the author also did a fabulous job of heavily building into the story two police detectives who played a huge part in uncovering the use of Thallium as a poison, but also of how their careers came to grow and prosper thanks to their heavy involvement in the NSW Police corruption of their time.  They may have been responsible for catching killer housewives, but they were effectively criminals themselves.

There were certainly frightening elements to the story, and certain sections of the book are absolutely not for the faint hearted as we learn about what actually happens to the human body at decomposition stage, personally, I now wish I didn’t know. 

It was also a heartbreaking reminder of how the mentally ill were treated in that era, often subjected to horrific treatments and inexcusable neglect.  One of the terrible symptoms of Thallium poisoning is severe damage to the nervous system and when no doctor could determine a cause for the victim’s excruciating pain they were simply diagnosed as being neurotic or suffering a nervous breakdown and ultimately sent to an asylum.

As a little light relief I loved how each of the chapters were finished off with a recipe that would have been popular in its time, such as Bonox, Brawn, or Potato and Bacon Pie, all minus the added ingredient of rat poison of course.

This really was a truly fascinating book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I’m so thankful for the chance to have read it thanks to Hachette Australia.  I would absolutely recommend this one to anyone that loves historical fiction, true crimes and anything that is that little bit different.

Dead Letters – Michael Brissenden

A dead politician, a mother’s letters from the grave, a daughter’s quest for answers.

OMG I freaking loved this book!!!!  Corrupt politicians, dirty cops, mafia links, gangs, counter terrorism………..seriously, what’s not to love.

I was a little nervous going into this one, it’s not the usual type of book I’m drawn to but honestly, once I started reading I couldn’t stop.  It was so compelling and so intriguing it had me hooked from the very first page.

When a politician is shot in the early hours of the morning, veteran officer Sid Allen, with his own closet full of skeletons, is called to the scene to investigate.  It’s not every day a politician is murdered.  What does it mean?  Is it terrorist related?  Is it gang related? 

Also poking around the death is journalist Zephyr Wilde who was only ten when her mother Shirley was murdered twenty years earlier.  Shirley was the owner of a local brothel and had contacts in high places, so why after all these years had the case of her mother’s death still not been solved?  Did someone want it to stay buried, no matter what the cost?

It’s not long before Sid and Zephyr’s worlds come crashing into each other and as the body count rises so does the tension.  The chapters were fact paced in this political thriller and the author has done a fantastic job of holding the reader’s attention right through to the nail biting ending.

As an added bonus, set across the fabulous city of Sydney, it was so good to read a book where I actually knew the name of the streets and the suburbs.

Thank you sooooo much Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this 5 star book.  I highly recommend running out to the bookshop now to grab a copy.

*****

Tell Me Lies – J.P. Pomare

This one was psychological suspense at its best,  You know the way the story is heading isn’t going to be where it ends.  You know the likely suspect you are being steered towards didn’t do it, but I loved the fact that even though I knew all that, I still didn’t know where it was heading.


Margot is a psychologist with a successful practice in Melbourne.  A loving husband, teenage children and a beautiful home.  She seemingly has it all.


So why would she suddenly push one of her patients into the path of a train on a busy platform in front of hundreds of witnesses?

  
The suspense in this one is palpable, You can almost reach out and touch it.  I’m going to be deliberately vague regarding the storyline and not going to divulge anymore , trust me, the less you know, the wilder the ride.


The pages keep turning, hours are lost and before you know it you have finished the book thinking wow, what just happened?  And that ending!!!!


A huge thank you to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this one.  A 5 star read for me, I loved it and will definitely be adding the authors previous books to my tbrlist.

Review – Playing Nice

Playing Nice – JP Delaney

Another twisting and turning tale from the masterful JP Delaney.  This one had me flying through the pages.  What was going on?  How were the babies switched?  Are the birth parents up to something?  Are the other parents up to something?  Stop!!! My brain is hurting!!!

I’m fast becoming a huge fan of this author and Playing Nice confirmed why.  Pete and Maddie are parents to 2 year old Theo who was born prematurely and spent a number of weeks in the NICU unit in one of London’s busy hospitals.  Maddie has since returned to work in advertising and Pete, a freelance journalist, is relishing playing the role of stay at home dad to his young son. 

Life is meandering along pretty nicely for them both bar the slightly too often behavioural issues that Theo displays when at day-care.  That is until one morning there is a knock on the door and a complete stranger drops what can only be described as every parent’s worst nightmare onto Pete.  Sorry, but I believe you have my child.  Yep, apparently there was a bit of a mix up at the hospital and we each have the wrong kid.  .  What the?

Enter Miles and Lucy, the parents of little David, who as it turns out is actually Pete and Maddie’s son.  Wow, confused yet?  Don’t be.  The storyline alternates brilliantly between Pete and Maddie and their take on the situation and all that unfolds…..and boy, is there a lot of unfolding. 

Both families try to work through not only how this could have happened, but what it means for the future of their children, while trying to find the most amicable solution possible. 

Agreeing that both boys should stay with the parents they have spent the first two years of their life with, while still being a part of the other family’s life, it really seems like all could work out.  Wrong!! Instead life for Pete and Maddie soon turns into a terrifying world of betrayal and fear.

I found myself screaming at this book so many times, almost like you do in a horror movie when you know something really bad is about to happen!!  The suspense was first rate.  A carefully constructed domestic/psychological suspense thriller is how I would sum this one up and a really really good one at that. 

And of course I always love to see my hometown of Adelaide referenced in a novel.

Another review where I’m not going to say too much about the plot, the less you know the better the ride. 

A huge thank you to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this awesome book.  This one is out now and you really need to grab yourself a copy.

*****

Review – Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Wow, what a read.  Not what I was expecting at all, another book that I went into blind with no preconceived ideas, I just knew I desperately wanted to read it and what a read it was.

Atmospheric, historical, lyrical, dark, intense.  They are just a few words that grab me when I try and work out how to describe Mexican Gothic.  Very much a slow burn yet perfectly paced.

Noemi, the beautiful and vibrant socialite of a wealthy Mexican family in the 1950’s is asked by her father to visit her cousin Catalina after they receive a troubling letter from her.  The letter is disturbing, filled with the ramblings of what could only be described as a mad woman. 

Catalina has been living in High Place since recently marrying her husband Virgil.  A hauntingly eerie mansion in the mountains of El Triunfo Mexico. Although irritated at having to make the trek, Noemi who is extremely fond of her cousin, agrees to visit and find out for herself what is ailing Catalina. 

As soon as she arrives at High Place Noemi instantly feels ill at ease in the house.  Used to a life full of glamour and fun she struggles to adjust to the dark and dreary mansion.  No warmth, no light and a house filled with a hauntingly eerie silence. 

Barely able to spend more than five minutes alone with Catalina away from the prying eyes and ears of Virgil’s family, Noemi soon starts to worry about what is hidden within the walls.  Catalina almost seems a prisoner of the house.  What should she make of her illness?  What are the family hiding?

I could rave on and on about this book and the hauntingly gothic tale that is woven but I can’t for fear of giving anything away.  It is vivid and descriptive and as this tale unfolds it becomes more and more frightening until you realise you have been holding your breath.  Scenes that make your stomach turn yet that feeling that you can’t look away. 

The one thing I will say, I will certainly never feel the same way about mushrooms ever again.

*****

Review – Tiny White Lies

Tiny White Lies – Fiona Palmer

A light, heart-warming easy read.  This is a novel to curl up with over a weekend and just sit back and relax.  Told through the eyes of two friends, Nikki and Ashley with chapters alternating between their recent pasts and the present day, this is a story of family, relationships and friendships.

Both Ashley and Nikki have had their struggles to deal with.  Ashley has recently lost her husband and has just found out her teenage daughter is being bullied online and at school, while Nikki has been keeping a huge secret to herself and worrying about her own teenage children slipping further and further away from her into the world of technology with social media and online gaming.

To escape and recharge the two families decide on a spur of the moment trip to the Western Australian bushland.  A camping retreat at a beautiful coastal getaway with no access to the internet and no phone reception.  I found myself laughing a few times at the teenager’s reactions to this new found hell with no ability to keep up with their snapchat streaks.  I could so easily picture my own teens behaving the exact same way.

There is a cast of likeable characters, including Nikki’s hunky husband Chris and his equally hot cousin Luke, and we start to learn a little more about all of them through evenings around the campfire.  As the days slide by tiny white lies are slowly revealed as their past secrets meander into their current lives.

While it is a light read, it does cover some pretty dark topics, such as suicide, depression, bullying, and issues with body image.  I just wished it could have delved into these topics a little more which I think would have given the overall story more depth. I really loved it when the author highlighted the women’s pasts, I was completely engrossed in what they were both going through.  There really was a lot to enjoy about this book, I just found the holiday chapters a little light on and too easy to skip through, but still a fun weekend read.

Thank you so much to Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read and review this book. 

Review – The Silk House

The Silk House – Kayte Nunn

The Silk House is going to be one of my favourite reads for 2020. It was so beautifully written and descriptive I couldn’t help but fall in love with everything about it.

An historical fiction, narrated through multiple POV’s in vastly different eras, the story-line is interwoven superbly. In 1768 The Silk House is home to a wealthy silk merchant, his wife and their household in Oxleigh. Rowan Caswell is the new maid at the house and in times where people are suspicious of anyone slightly unusual and talk of witchcraft still swirls around, it is a troubling time to be meddling in anything untoward. With white-blond hair and a skill in herbs, potions and draughts, mystery soon starts shrouding Rowan and she must be extremely cautious that no one becomes aware of here abilities for fear of putting her life at risk.

Meanwhile, in London 1768, Mary-Louise Stephenson is the designer of stunning one of a kind patterns but has so far been unable to break into the male dominated trade. When the silk merchant makes an unexpected visit to her home offering her the chance for her patterns to become a reality she jumps at the opportunity. Thrown into the shady world of the merchant and creating silks that seem to hold dark secrets Mary is soon wondering if she has made a terrible mistake.

Now in 2019 Silk House is home to an exclusive Boarding School, Oxleigh College. History teacher Thea Rust has just moved from Australia to the UK to take up a position at the college, the same college her father once attended. This is the first time girls have been admitted into Oxleigh College, previously a school only for boys so Thea has the unenviable job of not only being new to the school but having to help with this unwelcome change in long-held tradition. When strange unexplained things start happening and rumours of Silk House being haunted start circling Thea is desperate to find out as much as she can about its history and what really took place there all those centuries ago.

The atmosphere is superbly rich and detailed with Gothic undertones throughout plus the ever present mystery of witchcraft. A truly beautiful story that I just couldn’t put down.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Hachette Australia for the opportunity to read this amazing book.

*****

Review – Tiny Pieces of Us

Tiny Pieces of Us – Nicky Pellegrino

A beautifully written story that really tugs on the heartstrings. 

Born with a life-threatening heart defect Vivi receives a heart transplant, her donor, a 16 year old boy killed in an accident riding his bike home one evening.  Grace, the boy’s mother makes the selfless yet heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to her son and offers his organs so he can give the gift of life to others.  It’s one of the most gut wrenching starts to a novel I have read in a long time. 

A few years later Vivi, working as a journalist for a tabloid newspaper in the UK, publishes an article to raise awareness for organ donations and is soon contacted by Grace.  Her pain is still so raw and so fresh and she is struggling with the decision she made knowing that others now have tiny pieces of her son helping them live and breathe each day.  It has now almost become an obsession, she needs to find and meet these people so she can feel closer to her son again and Vivi is unwittingly thrust into the search with Grace.

Over time we are introduced to the other “organ recipients” for want of a better term.  Each with their own fears and struggles just like Vivi.  Although we don’t learn about the others in as much detail, we understand them as how Vivi sees them and how they fit in with her life, while still understanding the tears, heartaches but also joy they have all experienced at receiving a second chance at life.

The story captures the emotion of Vivi perfectly and how she lives her life with the constant worry of how things could suddenly turn for her, almost an acceptance that her life could still be a short one.  Will her new heart fail?  How can she plan for a future of a long and happy life when her body could reject her heart even years on from her surgery?

As someone who reads a few too many thrillers this was a surprising change of pace for me, one that was full of warmth and emotion and ultimately uplifting.  I thought the author handled the subject of organ donation with absolute care and sensitivity, it made me think of my own mortality and what I could be doing to take better care of myself.  Am I living my best life every day?

Tiny Pieces of Us is published by Hachette Australia and is out now.  Thank you so much for my advanced copy in exchange for my review.

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