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Showing posts with the label country towns

Rakali Springs — an imaginary Australian country town

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  I made up Rakali Springs. There's no such place, but I imagine it to look very like the pretty little towns in New South Wales' western slopes. Towns like Cootamundra or the town in this picture, Cowra.  The houses have corrugated metal roofs, and the older houses are wooden cottages. Houses are spread out on large blocks, and trees and gardens grow everywhere except in drought years. Most have railways running through, but these days there are only grain trains, no passenger services. The grain gets a royal ride and the people are jolted around on buses. Rakali Springs is the scene of the action in the cozy mystery / rural romance Wipptee. BUY EBOOK NOW

Wipptee — an Australian rural romance

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A cozy mystery with a feisty enemies-to-lovers romance on the side.   A young woman wants a quiet life in a small country town, but her past crimes as an animal rights activist return to haunt her.  BUY EBOOK  Maddison returns to Australia after five years away, desperate for a happily-ever-after future with her husband. But Daniel is missing and wanted by the police. Maddie follows a lead to Rakali Springs, the town where everything first went wrong for her and Daniel. She receives a hostile reception, but the Brackton family, Grace and her four sons, are willing to give her a place to stay.   It doesn’t take long for Maddie to discover that everyone has an agenda. Grace, the family matriarch, is determined to end destructive land clearing on neighbouring Wipptee farm at any cost. Matthew guards his secrets well, Liam is sleazy and unpredictable, and Travis wants only regular work for his earthmoving business. Worst of all, Constable Theo Brackton never misses a chance to accuse, crit

Reading journal: Rusted Off: Why country Australia is fed up by Gabrielle Chan

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Genre: Non-fiction Published: 2018 Date read: September 2018 Gabrielle Chan is a journalist who lives up the road from me, in Harden, New South Wales. This interesting book pulls apart the social structure of a country town and explores the point of view of people who feel unrepresented in Australia’s political system. It’s true that highly educated city dwellers find it hard to see things from a rural perspective. It’s a two-way street though. And Harden is only an hour away from Canberra. People travel between these towns all the time; in fact, many rural people are highly mobile, following work opportunities more than city people may do, and often have family all over the place. I enjoyed the book but was not totally convinced by the arguments. Governments in recent times have ignored everyone except their mates, and some of those mates were well-heeled country people. The argument is more one of connections, opportunities and funding than location, I think.

Reading journal: We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson

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Genre: Horror Published: 1962 Date read: July 2018 A scarifying story about a teenage girl, Merricat and her sister Constance. We know right from the beginning that something is off, and exactly what is revealed gradually. The girls and their uncle live apart from the town, exiled really. We learn that the rest of the family died in a horrific poisoning incident, but who was responsible? We suspect. We don’t know for sure. And then a greedy relative appears, and upsets the fragile family life that seemed so stable but really wasn’t, and everything goes straight to hell. I won’t include spoilers here, but if you want to read a perfect story about a sociopath, and how creepy haunted houses with demented old people living in them came to be, this is the one. Disturbing, unsettling and brilliant.

Reading journal: Embers and Echoes by Daniel De Lorne

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Genre: Rural gay romance Published: 2018 Date read: September 2018 Ben Fields, a policeman, and Toby Grimshaw, a firefighter, have a history. In a small town like Echo Springs, on the edge of the outback, they can’t avoid each other, especially when the town is threatened by escalating arson attacks. We want Ben and Toby to solve the mystery, survive the danger, and get back together, and since this is a romance, they do. An enjoyable light read.

Reading journal: The Rain Never Came by Lachlan Walter

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Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2017 Date read: June 2018 A story of a future Australia where the inland is in permanent drought and the inhabitants have been forcefully relocated or herded into camps. But there are hold-outs, people who hide from the Creeps and eke out a precarious living. The story begins with a football match against a passing First People caravan, and the return of Bill’s friend Tobe from his wanderings. Bill and Tobe are close, and share a tragic past. Bill’s loyalty is tested when Tobe insists on an exploratory trip into the badlands, but he follows Tobe faithfully, even when they must abandon their bolthole, only to be betrayed in the end. (I hope this isn’t too much of a spoiler). This is an interesting book. I enjoyed it as a writer, seeing how Walter has varied the pace to create atmosphere. The structure of the book is interesting too, a classic story structure with a strong inciting incident which I didn’t identify until the very end, even tho

Reading journal: A Place to Stay by Jennie Jones

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Genre: Romance Published: 2016 Date read: March 2018 Rachel has moved to an outback town under an assumed name to escape from her violent criminal husband, and from the police who want to talk to her. Local cop, Luke, falls for Rachel, but complications arise when she rejects his interest out of fear, and he becomes aware of her history and is required to protect her and find out what she knows. Some local criminals and the arrival of the evil husband and his cronies are sketched in, but the focus is on the protagonists coming to trust each other. I enjoyed the descriptions of the red dust town. In fact, I enjoy all rural/outback romances simply because of the scenery. Sometimes I would like the plots to be a little more convincing.

Reading journal: And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

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Genre: Crime Published: 2017 Series: Caleb Zelic Read: March 2018 Caleb Zelic returns in this sequel to Resurrection Bay . He is struggling to keep his investigation business going without his old partner, and when a young woman asks for his help moments before her death he is reluctant to take the case. Instead, he wants to pursue his relationship with his ex-wife Kat, so he returns to his home town. Things aren’t going well at home, with arson and racial tension dividing the town and evidence of a drug war behind the scenes. Caleb can't help himself, and his investigation again brings danger to his loved ones. Eventually he has to choose between Kat and pursuit of the criminals. As in the first book, we see Caleb struggling with his hearing impairment, and with his father’s internalised harsh criticism. Caleb has to learn to ask for help, the one thing he has spent a lifetime avoiding. Great story, a step up from Resurrection Bay. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: The Dark Lake by Sarah Bailey

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Genre: Crime Published: 2017 Read: February 2018 A gripping story about a murder in a large Australian country town. Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is investigating the death of an old school friend, a woman for whom she had an unhealthy obsession. As the investigation progresses, the consequences of decisions and actions made in the past come back to haunt Gemma. Traumatic events from her teenage years are slowly revealed to be integral to solving the case. I stayed up very late to finish this, as it was too difficult to put it down. The book is written in the present tense, which I usually find difficult, but in this case it seemed completely appropriate and easy to read. One word of warning. If you’re reading an ebook version, my copy didn’t open at the beginning (a prologue labelled “now”), instead leaping ahead to Chapter 1. Reading the prologue would have helped! Fast paced, lots of twists and turns and emotions, recommended.

Reading journal: Two Man Station by Lisa Henry

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Genre: Romance (m/m) Published: 2018 Series: Emergency Services Read: February 2018 The latest offering from prolific Australian author Lisa Henry is set in the remote outback town of Richmond in Queensland. Gio Valeri, dragging baggage from his previous Gold Coast posting behind him, joins Jason Quinn in policing the small town. He has to deal with snakes, neglected children, family violence, and the strange fallout from bingo night, as well as a growing attraction to Jason. A great book. I particularly liked the snake silhouettes that divide the chapters, and the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of single parenting and limited resources in policing in a remote area. Recommended. If you want to see what Richmond looks like in real life, there are plenty of photos on Google Maps and you can see the police station on street view. Town of Richmond, Queensland, Australia. Copyright Google Maps

Book review: Tell Me Why by Sandi Wallace

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I love finding new Australian crime stories, and this one looked pretty good, set in Daylesford in Victoria, and Melbourne. I liked the settings, well described, and the cast of characters is interesting and well rounded. The country cop, John Franklin, was convincing, and the plot developed nicely, although a little over-melodramatic in parts. Where I ran into difficulty was that I couldn't understand or like the female protagonist, Georgie. She's a freelance writer, but she misses a deadline. FAIL. She's a feisty millennial, but she leaves her phone in the car when going to interview a suspicious person. FAIL. She's an adult who should have more sense but she goes ALONE to chase down the murderous bad guys instead of waiting for backup. DOUBLE FAIL. And Georgie's other half, the lawyer AJ, isn't really present, just a cutout character. Don't get me wrong, I read to the end because I just had to find out what happened, and that's the ma