Review: Passing Clouds ~ A winemaker’s journey


Passing Clouds by Graeme Leith

3 stars

Read from 1 – 4th July, 2020

Synopsis: Graeme Leith-electrician, Italophile and jack of all trades-joined Melbourne’s theatre collective at Carlton’s famously innovative Pram Factory theatre and said, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was: Graeme Blundell, Jack Hibberd, Max Gillies and many others produced over 140 new Australian plays in ten years.

Like many of his generation, Graeme left suburban Australia in the 1950s, bound for London and Europe. After a stint in Britain’s atomic weapons industry he rode his Lambretta scooter to Perugia in Italy, where he had his first taste of ‘ethereal’ wine and fell in love.

But Graeme had also fallen for the idea of making wine, and in the mid-1970s he and his partner Sue Mackinnon established Passing Clouds, a vineyard in Victoria’s Spa Country that produced award-winning wines from the beginning.

Then tragedy struck. In 1984 Graeme’s beautiful and talented daughter Ondine and her boyfriend David vanished en route to the South Coast of New South Wales. Ten days later their ute was found in Kings Cross, where it had been abandoned by their killers.

Heartfelt and heartbreaking, humorous and hilarious, Passing Clouds tells of a life fully lived-a life embracing the experience of fatherhood, of triumph and disaster, of joy and tragedy, of ingenuity and sheer hard work and, above all, an unquenchable optimism. Continue reading

Review: Tears of the Cheetah


Tears of the Cheetah by T.M. Clark

3 stars

Read from 28 September – 1 October, 2017

Synopsis: The fight to save the cheetahs is a race against time

Mackenzie came to South Africa to escape the trauma of her past and build herself a bright new future: love is the last thing on her mind. But she’s finding it increasingly hard to ignore her feelings for the strong-minded Cole, who runs the game reserve for cheetahs just outside her town. Cole has made no secret of his feelings for her, but he realises that Mackenzie cannot be rushed so he is prepared to wait.

However, neither could have predicted the terrifying events that are about to overtake them. When Cole saves Mackenzie from a vicious attack, it is only the beginning of an ever-spiralling maelstrom of violence.

Someone is decimating Africa’s cheetah population, and when the poaching threat comes to their door, Mackenzie and Cole have only one option: they must fight to save the animals and life they love. Continue reading

Review: Welcome to Orphancorp


Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward

five-stars 5 stars

Read from 14 – 15 June, 2017

Synopsis: Winner of the 2015 Seizure Viva La Novella Prize

‘Takes all of your dystopian nightmares and connects them to a mother lode of pure emotional intensity. There’s so much keen detail here about the cruel logic of oppressive institutions, you’ll feel Mirii’s yearning for freedom in your bones – and you’ll rejoice at every tiny moment of escape that she achieves. Welcome to Orphancorp is harrowing, scarily real, and ultimately super moving.’ – Charlie Jane Anders (i09)

‘Punchy, crunchy, sexy and smart, Welcome to Orphancorp is a short, sharp shock of a story with bruised-but-not-broken characters and a bonsai dystopia you can actually believe in. Marlee Jane Ward is a writer of heart and passion, muscle and slow-burning anger.’ – Ian McDonald

Welcome to Orphancorp is an intimate, heartfelt story set in the darkest of places. I can’t stop thinking about these characters.’ – Kij Johnson

‘An object lesson in how to dehumanise young people by locking them up and depriving them of all warmth and care – has never been more timely. This gritty, greasy story is peppered with violence and lit with the slenderest shafts of affection and hope. It will make your jaw clench with fear for the indomitable Mirii Mahoney, and your fist punch the air at her every tiny victory.’ – Margo Lanagan Continue reading

Review: Heart of the Country


Heart of the Country by Tricia Stringer

five-stars 5 stars

Read from 23-24 April, 2017

Synopsis: Heart of the Country is the first book in an epic historical saga of three Australian families. Spanning several generations, this epic tells the story of the Baker, Smith and Wiltshire families forging their paths in a land both beautiful and unforgiving.

Lives are intertwined by love and community then ripped apart by hate and greed but remain always bound to the land they love…

1846. Newly arrived from England, Thomas Baker is young, penniless and alone. Eager to make his mark on this strange new place called South Australia, he accepts work as an overseer on a distant sheep property, believing this will be the opportunity he seeks. But when Thomas’s path crosses that of ex-convict, Septimus Wiltshire — a grasping con man hell bent on making a new life for himself and his family at any price — trouble is on the horizon.

But Thomas is made of stern stuff and his fortunes take a turn for the better when he meets spirited farmer’s daughter Lizzie Smith, and soon he envisages their future together.

But this land is like no other he has encountered: both harsh and lovely, it breaks all but the strongest. When his nemesis intervenes once more and drought comes, Thomas finds himself tested almost beyond endurance with the risk of losing everything he and Lizzie have worked for… even their lives. Continue reading

AWW Review: Leap of Faith


LeapOfFaith

2 stars

 

Read from January 29th – February 2nd, 2017. Recommended for: Horsey people

Synopsis: The highly anticipated new novel from beloved Australian writer Fiona McCallum.

Jessica Harrington is a promising horse-rider who dreams of representing her country. But the recent death of her father – her coach and mentor – has left her doubting her ability to continue in the sport. When she fails at the Adelaide International Horse Trials her fears are confirmed – and her world begins to fall apart.

Unable to bear seeing her well-bred, highly trained horses languishing in the paddock, she makes the snap decision to sell. She’s broken her own heart, but can’t see any other way – now she will just have to focus on a life without them. Her husband Steve and best friend Tiffany, however, can see through her bravado.

Jessica is dismayed when Steve brings home a horse from a clearing sale, a horse so skinny and forlorn he just couldn’t leave it behind. Unwilling to be drawn back into the world of horses, she’s reluctant to get involved. But when a summer thunderstorm brings on a life-or-death emergency, she finds she underestimated the heart of one little horse. Can Jessica put her trust in Faith? Continue reading

2016 Reviews completed!


excitedbaby

I’m finally caught up to 2017 reviews… and it’s only July!

In 2016, I read 50 books.

2016books

Of those 50, I only rated two books 5 stars. Happily they were both Australian women writers! Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat and The Orchid Nursery by Louise Katz.

The rest of the break down went like this:

  • I rated 16 of the books 4/5.
  • 23 of them 3/5.
  • 7 books got 2/5 stars.
  • I rated one book 1/5.
  • I couldn’t finish one book.

How did you go in 2016? Are you trying to challenge yourself with a reading challenge this year?

Stay tuned for my 2017 reviews coming soon.