January 2021 was a spectacular month for reading. The 8 books that found their way to me this month were varied but each of them highly enjoyable.
The Last Thing To Burn written by Will Dean. This book should come with a warning label, because once you open that first page you are not going anywhere. With a distinct and empathetic voice, the novel explores human trafficking, patriarchal control, survival and self-sacrifice. Beautifully written, this book is both tense and claustrophobic making the reader feel everything the protagonist feels. The Last Thing To Burn is an absolute must read and will remain without a doubt one of my favourite reads for 2021. Will also has a series of YouTube videos detailing helpful tips from the publishing industry. When I spoke with Will on the podcast, we discussed how living in a remote Swedish forest helps shape him as an artist.
Blacktop Wasteland written by SA Cosby. This compelling page turner was recommended by two of the greatest crime fiction critics in the world, Craig Sisterson and Ayo Onatade. The voice of the main protagonist is brilliantly captured, as is the world in which he inhabits. The novel explores whether we ever have control over who we really are or whether we are powerless to it. The car scenes are beautifully written, visual and a little sexy. Even if you’re not into car chase scenes! Cosby serves up something a little different in this novel and I highly recommend getting your hands on it.
Vanishing Falls written by Poppy Gee. This psychological thriller was a delightful surprise. Set in Tasmania, the book explores the impact of poverty, addiction and trauma in a small town. The characters are beautifully drawn, distinct and extremely memorable. The character voice was one of my favourite parts of the book. Overall, this book was an excellent read and the characters remain with you long after you finish the book. On the podcast, Poppy discusses the importance of setting and then she turns the tables on the interviewer!
Lucky’s written by Andrew Pippos. This was a lovely break from the crime fiction I found myself immersed in this month, and allowed me to delve into a different place and time. Spanning several decades and generations, this book balances the present with the past by examining relationships and how the past shapes who we become. The book explores how we heal from trauma and how forgiveness has the capacity to free us. When I spoke to Andrew, he was so thoughtful about his writing process and we had a wonderful conversation about the craft. Fascinating chat.
The Push written by Ashley Audrain. The Push is one book you must read this year. This psychological thriller will remain with you long after you finish it. This is another story that will definitely remain a favourite for 2021. A wonderfully unique voice written in second person, past tense, the book explores motherhood, the expectations society has of women and what happens when we are unable to meet them. The book is brutally honest and raw and will have the reader nodding as they recall their own experiences of parenthood. I read this book in one sitting and I highly recommend it as a must read for 2021. On the podcast Ashley and I spoke at length about motherhood, how it changes you and unthinkable acts committed by those you least expect.
Tell Me Lies written by JP Pomare. In true JP style, he writes beautifully and succinctly. He has a cracking plot, interesting characters and a super duper twist. JP has become one of the best voices in psychological thriller. This one is no exception.
Derek Dool Run For Your Life written by Adrian Beck & illustrated by Scott Edgar. The third instalment of the Derek Dool series does not disappoint, it has hilarity, originality and mad cap escapades. This is my favourite book in the Derek Dool series and in true Adrian Beck style, the book includes dad jokes, Derek fails and plenty of chaos and mishaps. The book also has heart, which I love, and an important message that encourages readers to strive to be the best version of themselves rather than trying to to be cool. Read this one aloud to your kids, laughter guaranteed.
Poo and other words that make me laugh written by Felice Arena & illustrated by Tom Jellett. This fun-filled picture book is more than you may think from its title. A wonderful collection of absurd words that are extremely fun to say aloud. There is a glossary at the back (my favourite part) where readers can find out the meaning behind words such as flibbertigibbet. A wonderful and highly entertaining picture book that will have kids laughing out loud while secretly enhancing their vocabulary. This book is quietly genius.