Monthly Archives: April 2017

‘The Dry’ by Jane Harper (Aaron Falk #1)

This very well written debut mystery novel had me gripped on the first page and kept me going throughout, with plenty of twists and turns, right to the end. It’s one of those gems that I can recommend to anyone and everyone. Good pacing, great characters, and evocatively described scenes. Set in the Australian outback, in the middle of a crippling drought, the author made me feel the overwhelming heat and taste the dust and despair in the air.

Tragically and oddly, it seems Luke Hadler has killed his wife and small son in his own home, leaving his infant daughter untouched. A murder suicide almost seems plausible from a desperate man in a town that is dying. But when Aaron Falk arrives back to the place of his youth to attend his friend’s funeral, he is confronted with questions about what actually happened. Was this murder connected to secrets from their childhood? Should he stay to investigate when all he wants to do is run away as he had to before?

‘The Woman in Cabin 10’ by Ruth Ware

There’s a lot of things I liked about this book (the cover art is great!) but I wouldn’t highly recommend it. It’s ok, but it felt a bit like a waste of time in the end, to be honest. It’s a bit like The Girl on the Train meets Agatha Christie–a contemporary old style whodunit with an unreliable narrator, all of the characters contained in one place, and the killer hiding in plain sight–on a cruise ship.

Laura (Lo) Blacklock can’t believe her good fortune when she ends up with an assignment on a luxury liner, cruising the fjords in the North Sea. A journalist for a travel magazine, it’s the trip of a lifetime for Lo, except that she unwittingly gets caught up in a murderous plot that threatens to take her life. The cruise ship setting was intriguing, as was the premise, but it ended up being a bit slow and boring at times. I found some parts of the story confusing and illogical which I found annoying. I did want to find out what happened so I kept reading and finished it, but I don’t think it was worth it in the end.  If you are marooned on a desert island when your boutique boat has sunk, and this is the only book available, by all means go for it, but there was nothing special about it from my perspective.

‘The Tale of Halcyon Crane’ by Wendy Webb

“It all sounds quite Gothic,” he said. “A huge old house, stuck on an island in bad weather, an unsolved murder, mysterious encounters with ghosts and rude townspeople, even the eerie old maid.”

Hallie James was raised by her father, being told, as a child, that her mother had died in a fire. Naturally, she’s shocked to receive a letter years later stating that her mother just died recently. Anxious to know what really happened, Hallie travels to a beautiful but remote island in the Great Lakes where her mother lived. Hallie isn’t exactly embraced warmly by the locals, and she realizes the secrets to her past are likely to be revealed on this mysterious and strange island.

A nice spine tingling romantic ghost story for a windy night curled up in front of the fire with a steaming cup of tea. But not so scary that you can’t let your husband go up to bed early, leaving you alone. I liked the creative premise and felt intrigued by the journey Hallie takes to find out who she really is. It reminded me of The Secrets Between Us by Louise Douglas, which I also really enjoyed. Although I believe in the spirit world, I’ve never encountered any ghosts, so that keeps me always looking for and preferring reasonable living explanations for the naughty souls long passed who keep doing weird things and just won’t go away!

A light contemporary spooky read that is also warm and fuzzy and kept my attention throughout! I think I have found a new author to return to for horror-lite!

‘Ragged Company’ by Richard Wagamese


“When hands on the street are held out, it isn’t always alms that are beggared; it’s life, contact, touch, generosity of spirit…”

Ragged Company is about a group of homeless people who win the lottery (13.5 million) but can’t collect because they don’t have a fixed address! It’s been on my to-read pile for ages but I bumped it to the top after the recent passing of this great Canadian author Richard Wagamese. Like Medicine Walk, this book is a real, elegant, earthy, funny, and gentle story well told.  Parts of it are delicious reflective prose and though it isn’t a quick read, I did fly through it and couldn’t put it down. It is deeply compelling and healing as a human reflection on the meaning of ‘home’ but also is intriguing to see what happens to people when they suddenly have an unlimited source of money and go from getting enough for each day to having enough for each day. Wagamese explores the development of the inner lives of four homeless people, as well as the lonely jaded journalist who befriends them and the lawyer who helps them. They become a rather odd ragged company, but isn’t that what all of us are in the end?

What does it mean to belong, to be needed, to be free, and to be in community? After reading this book I feel even more strongly that when giving to the homeless it should always include a gesture of  human connection as well…get a name, have a brief conversation, give a blessing–do not allow them to be invisible. Do not make assumptions about them or consider them all alike–they each have a unique past and a story, as do we all. Wagamese turns our conventional ideas upside down and makes us think in new ways about winners and losers, rich and poor, bondage and freedom, love and friendship, value and worthlessness, support and community, faithfulness and rejection…all through a powerful story. Rest in peace Richard Wagamese. You have taught us that we are story and we are grateful.

The New York Times Obituary

‘A Dog’s Purpose’ by W. Bruce Cameron


Every dog happens for a reason.

If you’re a dog lover like me, you wonder why every animal story has to end with a tragic death. You read carefully through your eyelashes with a guarded heart because you know it’s going to be gut-wrenching. Well, this book is different, but not in the way you might think.

In this story the dog dies several times, and each time is reincarnated into a different dog, yet with his own inner self intact. In this manner, he learns and grows as an individual in each life, accumulating wisdom that eventually brings him to his ultimate noble purpose. In this way, he never really dies. Nifty premise!

The problem with a dog narrating the novel, is that I’ve always felt that dogs would be much less interesting if they could talk! Part of the charm of a relationship with a dog is guessing what he’s thinking, so in a sense the narration feels like too much information!

Although bordering on sentimental, I think the author did a pretty good job of it (52 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), but in my opinion not as good as The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. There is a companion novel which follows on seamlessly from this book called A Dog’s Journey. The best news yet is that the movie just came out and my guess from this trailer is that it’s going to be better than the book–my advice–skip to the movie! 🙂