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Kirkus Review for Destination Dachshund

Kirkus Review for Destination Dachshund

I was so pleased to receive a positive book review for Destination Dachshund from one of the most prestigious brands in publishing – Kirkus Reviews. Servicing the book industry since the 1930’s, Kirkus Reviews ‘stands for integrity, honesty and accessible reviews written with an insider’s eye’ and the Kirkus Indie program gives self-publishers like me the chance to earn honest critical review.

STS_DD Ebook In between light and dark V5.2_mini_mini“A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.” – Kirkus Review

“Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—88 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her.” – Kirkus Review

“…Fleetwood can be a sensitive observer and she has an admirable fascination with and respect for history.” – Kirkus Review

I am pretty happy with the review (read full review below). To have received a positive review from such a respected player in the book industry means a lot to me. If the only slightly negative thing they can say is that we walked past a memorial to fallen Jews and then spotted a dachshund is a jarring juxtaposition then I’m ok with that – that’s what happened and that is life. We were feeling sad at the memorial but then a dachshund scampered by – what are we to do except delight in that? Life is a series of juxtapositions like that.

Full Review:
In her debut memoir, Australia-based blogger Fleetwood shares the highs and lows of an extended family trip from Sydney to New York City. The transition from blog to book is trickier than many writers realize, but for the most part, Fleetwood has the knack. In 2010, right before Fleetwood and her family took off from Sydney, one of their dachshunds, Coco, died unexpectedly; the remaining dog, Charlie, she says, “won’t leave our side or our laps…his howls break our hearts.”

In honor of Coco, the family invents a trip-long game of dachshund sightings. Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—86 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her.

The family goes to Singapore; Istanbul; Moscow; Budapest, Hungary; Nuremberg, Germany; Paris; and Dublin (with numerous stops in between), before finally reaching New York in time for Christmas. There, they discover that “People are all going in different directions and are pushy, loud and rough.” But Fleetwood is otherwise delighted by almost everything else she encounters, be it a dinner cruise on Europe’s Danube River or a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France (Christmas markets are her admitted addiction).

She’s also as adept at noting what it’s like to travel with family as she is at describing cathedrals, castles, battlefields, and Roman ruins. In Turkey, for example, her 12-year-old son “barters for a fez hat that he will probably never wear again”; later, at a Paris café, she notes her recently widowed mother’s loneliness, achingly detectable under her otherwise cheerful demeanor.

Fleetwood can be a sensitive observer and she has an admirable fascination with and respect for history. But occasionally, there are jarring juxtapositions. In Krakow, Poland, for example, the family visits a monument to many thousands of Krakow Jews who died in World War II; barely a paragraph later, Fleetwood’s husband spots a miniature dachshund: “I follow his pointed finger, and sure enough ahead in the distance is a darling brown miniature dachshund. It’s so cute!”

Overall, though, the author ably conveys the fleeting pleasures of managing a trip that embraces both grandparents and grandchildren. By the time they get to Poland, for example, the kids complain they are “churched out,” and anyone who’s ever been part of a family outing will certainly relate.

A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.

Pawsome Books About Dogs on #NationalDogDay

Pawsome Books About Dogs on #NationalDogDay

Dog1 copyNational Dog Day is all about our furry friends, the woofy kind. It is a day to celebrate dogs, no matter what their breed, to bring some attention to how many dogs need to be rescued each year, to honour the many brave doggies that help save lives and keep people safe, and bring comfort to so many people world-wide.

In my house EVERY DAY is all about dogs. (Yes, I do have a husband and teenage children too!) But everywhere I go there is a dachshund or three watching me, making me laugh, giving me cuddles, love and so much joy.

Dogs, or woman’s best friend as I call them, are a big part of what makes me happy. They provide me with so much – I simply couldn’t picture my life without a few dogs. Without them I would be missing something beautiful.

Below I have shared some of my favourite books about dogs, and a few I’d like to read. It was only after compiling this list that I realised that each and every one made me cry. They also made me laugh. But most of all they make me glad that I have dogs in my life.

Some of my favourite books about dogs. 

  • First up – my book!! You didn’t think I was going to miss this opportunity did you! 🙂

Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with an often hilarious dachshund-spotting competition at the heart of one family’s journey through Turkey, Russia, Europe and the USA.

Through the wonder of travel Destination Dachshund explores the bond of family and the grieving of loved ones, both human and hound, and the extraordinary effect they have on our lives.

Want to grab a copy? You can do that HERE 🙂

  • Next up is Lily & the Octopus by Steven Rowley – such a funny, heartbreaking and engaging read. I am getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it. Highly recommended read. 

LilyandtheOctopus

Lily and the Octopus is a novel about finding that special someone to share your life with. For Ted Flask, that someone is Lily, and she happens to be a dog. This novel reminds us how to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go and the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all.

Read my book review HERE. 

 

  • Following on is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I read this a few years ago now but it is a book I have never forgotten. It is not often that you read a book written entirely in the perspective of a dog. 

Garth SteinEnzo knows he is different from other dogs: he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.

 

  • I haven’t read this book, but the movie is an absolute winner. I’ve seen it so many times I’ve lost count. Tears in my eyes again just thinking about Red Dog. 

RedDog

No reader, regardless of age, will fail to be captivated by this charming story of a legendary dog, in Louis de Bernières’ Canadian publishing debut.

After his beloved master, John, is killed in an accident, Red spends the rest of his life looking for him, not understanding that John is gone for good. Ensuingly, Red becomes everyone’ s dog. Welcomed by everyone he meets, Red goes to parties, hitches rides, steals food at beach barbecues, and makes friends with the most reluctant people and wary cats. Based on the wonderfully irresistible adventures of a legendary Aussie dog, Red Dog is about devotion, independence and good food — the things that matter.

 

  • Only the Animals by Ceridwen Dovey is an amazing read. Even though only one story is about a dog, it was such a powerful story. This collection of short stories is well worth the read. 

ONly the animals

The souls of ten animals caught up in human conflicts over the last century tell their astonishing stories of life and death. In a trench on the Western Front a cat recalls her owner Colette’s theatrical antics in Paris. In Nazi Germany a dog seeks enlightenment. A Russian tortoise once owned by the Tolstoys drifts in space during the Cold War. In the siege of Sarajevo a bear starving to death tells a fairytale. And a dolphin sent to Iraq by the US Navy writes a letter to Sylvia Plath…

An animal’s-eye view of humans at our brutal worst and our creative best, Only the Animals asks us to believe again in the redemptive power of reading and writing fiction.

 

Lastly, here is Oprah’s 17 Great Books for Dog Lovers.

Enjoy!

Readers’ Favorite #5Star Reviews for Destination Dachshund #ReadersFavorite

Readers’ Favorite #5Star Reviews for Destination Dachshund #ReadersFavorite

STS_DD Ebook In between light and dark V5.2_mini_miniI am really pleased to share that I have received the Readers’ Favorite 5 Star seal and three wonderful reviews for Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds.

5star-shiny-web

Reviewed By Tracy Slowiak for Readers’ Favorite

In a simply delightful memoir penned by author Lisa Fleetwood, Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir – Three Months, Three Generations and Sixty Dachshunds, readers will be treated to a fun, funny, heartwarming and even an educational retelling of the travels of the Fleetwood family through 15 countries. The family, with teenagers and in-laws participating in the journey, leave for their epic trip just days after their beloved dachshund, Coco, passes away. While in Russia, they spot two engaging dachshunds, both wearing winter coats, and that spurs a new family game. With the search on for dachshunds across their travels, the family experiences are recounted with humor and love, and a great deal of history thrown in as well.

I very much enjoyed Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir. Author Lisa Fleetwood has done a wonderful job in telling the story of her family’s amazing adventure in an engaging style that will keep readers turning the pages from the start all the way through until the very end. This book is full of history, and information is provided about each of the family’s stops on their trip that many will find informative and interesting. I highly recommend this book to any reader who enjoys memoirs, travelogues, history, who has a love for pets, or who is just looking for a great read in general. I certainly hope that author Lisa Fleetwood would consider writing another book in the future. With her obvious talent, it’s sure to be an excellent read!

Reviewed By Chris Fischer for Readers’ Favorite

What a fun book I just finished reading! Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir – Three Months, Three Generations and Sixty Dachshunds by author Lisa Fleetwood is the tale of an amazing family trip taken with both her in-laws and her teenagers across fifteen countries. What do dachshunds have to do with any of this? Well, unfortunately, the family suffered the loss of their very loved pet, dachshund Coco, just a few days before their epic trip. While on their trip, they begin to notice dachshunds while they were traveling, starting with two smartly outfitted little ones in Russia. They decided to make a game of spotting these engaging dogs for the rest of their journey. What ensues is a fun and adventurous ride through historical spots, with dachshunds, of course, around almost every bend.

This sweet story was simply a delight to read. To any reader who enjoys reading about other people’s adventures while traveling, who likes to learn about other places and historical spots, who loves pets, especially dogs (and maybe especially those who love dachshunds) or to anyone looking for just a fun read in general, Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir is the book for you. Author Lisa Fleetwood has done a wonderful job in putting down her family’s amazing experiences in such a way that will engage most readers and will leave them wanting to hear more about this interesting and heart warming family. I can confidently rate this book most highly, and certainly hope to read more from author Lisa Fleetwood in the future!

Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir – Three Months, Three Generations and Sixty Dachshunds is a non-fiction travel memoir written by Lisa Fleetwood. The author received a lot of puzzled looks when she told friends about the family’s upcoming travel adventure. Most wondered how adult children would handle travelling with their parents and in-laws, as well as their own children, and for three long months, but Fleetwood figured it had been done before by others. After her father’s passing, she knew that she wanted to spend some time with her mom and her husband’s parents while they still could travel, and while her own two children, now teens, were still living at home. What made eyebrows rise even higher was their itinerary. The Aussies would be travelling through Europe and Russia in wintertime, and then heading across the Atlantic to Boston, but it made perfect sense to the Fleetwoods. It coincided with their kids’ holidays, and a snowy Christmas abroad might indeed be a magical thing.

Lisa Fleetwood’s non-fiction travel memoir, Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir, covers quite a bit of traveling, and along the way I began to truly enjoy the company of the author and her family. Fleetwood shares the high points, and a few of the low points, of a most impressive grand tour. I loved exploring Eastern Europe with the Fleetwoods and found myself thinking a lot about food as they ate their way through some delectable sounding cuisine. She also touches on the family dynamics of a trip where they were in close proximity almost all of the time, especially with the added stress of her father’s death two years before and the recent death of their beloved dachshund, Coco, just before they left for the trip. Fleetwood writes in an easy conversational style that makes the reader instantly feel at home. She’s also the consummate travel guide, giving the reader an inspired itinerary for any number of travel adventures. Destination Dachshund: A Travel Memoir – Three Months, Three Generations and Sixty Dachshunds is most highly recommended.


Readers’ Favorite has become the fastest growing book review and award contest site on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the Best Websites for Authors and Honoring Excellence awards from the Association of Independent Authors. 

In addition to reviewing for some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as the first time independent author, their award contest features entries by NYT best-sellers and celebrities, and includes an additional giveaway with tens of thousands of dollars in prizes.


Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds

Destination Dachshund: Three Months, Three Generations & Sixty Dachshunds

Author:
Tags: Dachshunds, Destination Dachshund, Recommended Books, Travel
Publisher: Lisa Fleetwood
Publication Year: 2016
Length: 275
ASIN: B01E3VZ80I
ISBN: 0994591403
Exploring the bond of family and the grieving of loved ones, both human and hound, Destination Dachshund offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with an often hilarious dachshund-spotting competition at the heart of one family’s extraordinary journey through Turkey, Russia, Europe and the USA....
About the Book

‘A likable author makes for a likable, dog-centric travel book.’ – Kirkus Review

With teenage children and in-laws in tow, the Fleetwood family embark on their 3 month adventure just days after the tragic loss of their beloved dachshund, Coco.

When two miniature dachshunds in smart winter coats are spotted in Moscow, it’s game on! A riotous, often hilarious dachshund spotting competition for the lovable, long-bodied dog ensues across 15 countries.

Filled with love, laughter, and sadness at times, Destination Dachshund offers a unique twist on the travel memoir with remembrance for those who have been loved and lost, at the heart of one family’s extraordinary adventure through Turkey, Russia, the Baltics, Europe and the United States.

Through the wonder of travel, this remarkable travelogue explores the bond of extended family, the abiding love we have for our pets and the grieving for loved ones, both human and hound.

AMAZON BEST SELLING BOOK
…’This is a fabulous read with so much to enjoy – a travel journal with real heart. ‘
…’Lisa has such an engaging way of writing that pulls you in. It’s hard to stop reading.’

Reviews
‘Fleetwood’s resulting chronicle of a multigenerational family trip—86 days, 15 countries, and 60 dachshund spottings—has an invitingly chatty tone that makes one feel like one is traveling with her.’ – Kirkus Review

‘What a wonderfully captivating read! Destination Dachshund is a humorous, yet moving memoir of a three generational family’s journey through Europe and the USA.’ — 5 stars, Melissa, Sydney

‘Destination Dachshund is a truly delightful read with many laugh out loud moments. And it isn’t just a book about travel – even though the extraordinary array of travel experiences captured between the pages is epic. The author unpacks with warmth and humour the intricacies of family relationships, our love of pets, and the joys of travelling with dodgy-kneed grandparents. And then there’s the hilarious dachshund spotting competition. I now find myself scanning walkways and parks for these spunky little dogs.’ — 5 stars, Vanessa, Sydney

‘As a traveler, animal lover, mom, journalist, and voracious reader DESTINATION DACHSHUND really captivated my interest. Lisa’s accounts of her family’s travels, experiences, interactions, and feelings were all relatable. Sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, we as readers were introduced to all the family dynamics and the places traveled with a very descriptive, relatable writing style. Recommend the book to all who travel or who just like to read of travels.’ — 5 stars, Terri from San Diego

Look Inside
Book Review: Figgy in the World by Tamsin Janu

Book Review: Figgy in the World by Tamsin Janu

  • Title: Figgy in the World
  • Author: Tamsin Janu
  • Category: Children’s Fiction
  • Publisher: Omnibus/Scholastic Australia 2014
  • Awards: Joint Winner NSW Premier’s Literary Awards Joint Winner: Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Fiction. Shortlisted for the Readings Children’s Book Prize and the CBCA Awards in the Younger Readers category.

Summary: Figgy has two problems. One is her name. Nobody in Ghana has that name. The other is that her grandmother is ill and needs special medicine. Figgy can’t do much about her name, but she can do something for Grandma Ama. She will go to America and bring back the medicine, and Kwame, her special goat, will go with her. Out in the wide world she will meet some bad people, but she will also find good friends.


Review: Tamsin Janu was inspired to write fiction for children after living for three months in Ghana, West Africa and working at a school and orphanage. In reading this novel I could really feel that experience coming through in the story.

The voice of Figgy captured me from page 1. She was a delightful character to read with such an innocent and wonderfully fresh outlook on the world. Figgy, who is the only Figgy in her village in Ghana, or the World she thinks, heads off with her beloved goat Kwame to make her way to the United States of America for medicine for her Grandma Ama. It doesn’t even occur to her that she can’t do it. Figgy wants to go to the United States to help her Grandma – so she sets out to do it! Simple! Children have such a straight forward thought process – one that I wish as an adult I could have kept hold of as I got older – but generally it leaves us all, or most of us anyway.

What a brave, resilient and observant little girl is Figgy, and although there are a few moments in the book where I thought some of the help that came along was extremely fortuitous, it didn’t take away from the story, or the wonderful voice of Figgy.

In Figgy’s incredible search for medicine for Grandma Ama, she faces many ordeals, both good and bad, meets new friends, including the resilient Nana, a boy she meets along the way, and learns about the ways of the World outside her village. Their adventures on their way to the ‘United Stilts of America’ as Nana puts it, is sometimes funny, often sad, and highly entertaining. This would be a great read for kids from 8 or 9 up, or to read out aloud to a class, or to your kids at home. And in a world of technology and excess, it shows us what is really important when it comes down to it, our family and friends, our health, shelter, food & water, but most of all love.

Congratulations to Tamsin on her joint win for the NSW Premier’s Literary Award Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Fiction and good luck for the 2015 CBCA’s Younger Readers category.


Buy this book: Booktopia, Bookworld, Boomerang Books, or download from Apple iBooks or Amazon.


Read all Welcome To My Library Book Reviews HERE


Bio: I was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. I studied law and international and global studies at the University of Sydney, and since January 2014 have worked as a youth worker in a remote community in the Northern Territory Central Desert.

I am inspired to write by the things I have seen and experienced. My first children’s novel, Figgy in the World, was born from memories of my three-month stay in Ghana, West Africa in 2009. It follows a little Ghanaian girl named Figgy and her goat Kwame on a mission to find the medicine that will make Figgy’s Grandma Ama well again. Many of the locations I visited and Ghanaian kids I met are depicted in my novel.

Visit Tamsin’s website: www.tamsinjanu.com or like her on Facebook


 

aww-badge-2015This book has been read and reviewed for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com To read about why I joined click HERE.

Book Review: What Happens in Book Club… E1 (It’s not me: It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth

Book Review: What Happens in Book Club… E1 (It’s not me: It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth

Spotlight on Australian Women’s Fiction – What Happens in Book Club… Episode 1: (It’s not me: It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth.


Summary: Your book club reads books? That’s adorable, Gwyn’s book club drinks wine and rates the hunks from classic literature. Sure they were once a regular book club, full of feisty discussions about Proust, but that all changes after the most awkward book club meeting of their lives. When schoolteacher Gwyn’s generally conservative book club covers a popular novel of a more suggestive nature, Gwyn can’t help but think of all the literary hunks in a suggestive fashion.

Enjoy the delicious sunny Australian setting as Sydney schoolteacher Gwyn learns all about lust, love, friendship and herself. And always remember, what happens in book club, stays in book club.


Review: What Happens in Book ClubEpisode 1 ( It’s not me; It’s you) by Robin Elizabeth is the first of a five-part series about books, friendship and love – oh, and maybe some wine to go along with all that! I love the beginning of this book! My own book club also read a popular novel of a suggestive nature, Fifty Shades of Grey, and lets just say what happened after that discussion must also come under the heading of ‘what happens in book club… stays in book club‘ and in Gwyn’s book club – after reading Fifty Shades of Grey they decide to ‘cleanse their loins‘ by ‘reading a classic of some sort‘. Furthermore, a year of reading novels about strong women is suggested and in Episode 1 (It’s not me; It’s you) they begin with Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre.

I really enjoyed What Happens in Book Club… Robin Elizabeth’s sharp wit as she tells of heroine Gwyn’s unlucky love life is hilarious, and that mixed with the fact that the men Gwyn meets seem to resemble the leading men from her book club’s monthly read is just too funny. Who hasn’t wanted to see what it would be like to find a Mr Bingley? Or a Mr Rochester. Gwyn does, and with hilarious results. I also loved the dialogue between Gwyn and her friends, Mac and Selene. The interaction between the three ladies is very engaging, whether it is face to face, over a wine or two, a cocktail or a pint or three, in their daily 3.05pm online chat or their get togethers at the pub. Gwyn is a sharp, funny heroine who is looking for love in all the wrong places, or perhaps it’s finding her!

But who does Gwyn really want? The mysterious man from the very beginning of the book – the sexy silver fox who lingered at the bar after they discussed Fifty Shades of Grey, the man Gwyn calls Mr Grey.

I’m looking forward to reading What Happens in Book Club Episode 2 (I’m just not that into you) and can’t wait to see what sexy men emerge from the literary classics at their book club! I hope Mr Grey, the silver fox, turns up again for Gwyn’s sake! After her adventures with Mr Bingley and Mr Rochester I think she needs it!

Don’t forget to download Episode 1 absolutely FREE here: Apple iBooks / Google Play / Scribd / Barnes & Noble Nook / Kobo / Inktera / Oyster  / Also available on Amazon.

Buy What Happens in Book Club Episode 2 (I’m just not that into you) here: Amazon / Apple iBooks / Google Play / Scribd / Barnes & Noble Nook / Kobo / Inktera


Read all Welcome To My Library Book Reviews HERE


 

Author BioHi, I’m Robin. I do like getting caught in the rain but not as much as I like Pina Coladas. When I’m not soaking wet and drinking coconut flavoured rum mixed with pineapple cordial, out of a brown paper bag, I’m a mum to three gorgeous children, a little angel just turned four and my identical Prince Charmings just turned eighteen months.

I’m an English teacher by trade and enjoy teaching at an all boys high school when not on maternity leave. I’m assured by staff that the boys miss my sense of humour and wish me back soon, and I’m assured by the boys that I don’t have a sense of humour and my jokes are not very good. I love writing, particularly stories for and about women and have recently, filled with my own sense of self-importance, started passing on my expert parenting tips and how to be a mad cow tips on my blog. You’re welcome Earth.

Visit Robin Elizabeth at her website HERE


aww-badge-2015This book has been read and reviewed by Lisa Fletwood for WTML for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com

Book Review: Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Book Review: Whiskey & Charlie by Annabel Smith

Following is another great book review by Angela Long!


  • Title: Whiskey & Charlie
  • Author: Annabel Smith
  • Category: Adult Fiction
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark 2015 (First published as Whiskey Charlie Foxtrot in 2012)
    Review by Angela Long for Welcome to my Library

Summary: Whiskey & Charlie is a captivating debut novel of brothers who have drifted apart and the accident that will determine their future, by an unforgettable new voice exploring the struggles and strengths of the sibling bond.

Some twins communicate in a secret language all their own. For Whiskey and Charlie Ferns, the two-way alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta) whispered back and forth over their crackly walkie-talkies is the best they can do. But as the brothers grow up, they grow apart. Whiskey is everything Charlie is not – bold, daring, carefree-and Charlie blames his brother for always stealing the limelight, always striving ahead while seeming to push Charlie back. By the time the twins reach adulthood, they are barely even speaking to each other.

When Charlie hears that Whiskey has been in a terrible accident and has slipped into a coma, he is shocked…although perhaps not devastated. But as days and weeks slip by and the chances of Whiskey recovering grow ever more slim, Charlie is forced to look back on their lives and examine whether or not Whiskey’s actions were truly as unforgivable as Charlie believed them to be.


Review: Whiskey & Charlie – brothers, twins, and antagonists: identical and yet nothing alike. Their bonds tenuously strung across a lifetime of rivalry.

Annabel Smith explores the relationship between the brothers through the eyes of Charlie, the younger of the twins. Younger by minutes, Charlie lives in the shadow of Whiskey, believing he lives a life of seconds. Yet as the story develops, we see that Charlie’s perspective is not always reliable; the narrative is twisted and dented by his experiences and bias. He has lived his life as a victim and most of that sentiment stems from his relationship with his brother, a little taller, a little braver. Now as Whiskey lies in a coma, hanging on to the last threads of life, Charlie is forced to face the choices he has made in their relationship. Through a series of vignettes he looks back through life shaping events, and as the months drag by he begins to acknowledge his own shortcomings. The twist of irony is that Charlie believes he must learn to forgive Whiskey when in fact it is himself he needs to redeem.

The structure of the novel is based on the two-way alphabet – a common interest to the twins and their special language growing up. Each chapter name relates loosely to the content and the alphabet provides the thread that eventually holds the brothers together. Although cleverly constructed this felt a little contrived. The narrative didn’t suffer but it wasn’t added to by the chapter titles, and most of the time I barely registered their connection as I hungrily turned the page to see where the next section would take me.

Annabel Smith has crafted a novel that is unsentimental – Charlie is not a likeable character.  As this becomes more evident our empathy turns and lies alongside Whiskey as he silently hangs on to life. For me I wanted Charlie to ‘get it’ to see how his choices had affected him and his relationships with everyone close to him. My emotions were stirred; I felt angry for his long-suffering girlfriend Juliet and wanted to cheer when his best mate finally told ‘him it like it was’. Unable to give of himself, Charlie’s arrogance and pride are a mirror of the narcissism that he accuses Whiskey of. Charlie needs to change and although there are adjustments, he never undergoes a metamorphosis enough to be fully likeable. Interestingly it is this lack of change that gives Charlie his most human quality, the inability to be other than who you truly are. His edges have been honed but he would always be a little cynical, a little self-absorbed, a little bit Charlie. This is the success of the novel.

I stumbled upon Annabel on Twitter as she was launching her novel into the American market. After reading Whiskey & Charlie I look forward to reading more of her work.

Follow Angela Long on Twitter 


Buy this book: Source BooksBooktopia, Bookworld or download from iBooks or Amazon.


Read all Welcome To My Library Book Reviews HERE


 

Author Bio:I am the author of Whiskey & Charlie (published in Australia as Whisky Charlie Foxtrot) digital interactive novel/app The Ark, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the West Australian Premier’s Book Awards. My short fiction and non-fiction has been published in iconic journals Southerly and Westerly, and I have been privileged to be selected as a writer-in-residence at Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre and the Fellowship of Australian Writers. I have been an invited guest, as panellist and chair, at Melbourne Writers Festival, Perth Writers Festival and regional festivals in Albany and Margaret River. I hold a PhD in Writing from Edith Cowan University, am an Australia Council Creative Australia Fellow, and a member of the editorial board of Margaret River Press. I am currently working on Monkey See, an epic quest with a sci-fi twist featuring a monkey, an evil priestess and the mother of all tsunamis. 

Visit Annabel Smith at www.annabelsmith.com


aww-badge-2015This book has been read and reviewed by Angela Long for WTML for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com

Book Review: Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven

Book Review: Heat and Light by Ellen Van Neerven

Following is the last of the 2015 Stella Prize book reviews from Angela Long. All of Angela’s fine reviews on Welcome to My Library can be seen HERE. Follow Angela on Twitter as she tweets her reading progress! Thanks Ange for sharing your reviews on my blog! 

The Stella Prize is awarded on Tuesday 21st April. 

  • Title: Heat and Light
  • Author: Ellen Van Neerven
  • Category: Literary Fiction
  • Publisher: August 2014 University of Queensland Press
    Review by Angela Long for Welcome to my Library

Summary:In this award-winning work of fiction, Ellen van Neerven takes her readers on a journey that is mythical, mystical and still achingly real.

Over three parts, she takes traditional storytelling and gives it a unique, contemporary twist. In ‘Heat’, we meet several generations of the Kresinger family and the legacy left by the mysterious Pearl. In ‘Water’, a futuristic world is imagined and the fate of a people threatened. In ‘Light’, familial ties are challenged and characters are caught between a desire for freedom and a sense of belonging.


Review: Ellen Van Neerven has presented an eclectic mix of stories for her debut fiction Heat And Light. Part mythical, traditional storytelling and part contemporary narrative, Van Neerven’s writing is sharp, sensual and modern. Winner of the David Unaipon Award in 2013, the stories are presented in three parts – Heat, Water and Light, and although each of the parts are very different, there is a general thread of cultural and sexual identity that snakes through the entire work.

Through five linked pieces ‘Heat’ unravels the story of the Kresinger family, from the mystical dreaming story of Pearl through to the present-day world of her granddaughter Amy. Two styles of storytelling spun almost seamlessly. Does desire and need drive each of the generations or are they cursed, destined to be captives of the wind, their sexuality controlled by the wind men; shaped by family and inheritance and cursed by those who have gone before.

‘Water’ is a futuristic foray into the politics of Aboriginal land rights and cultural cleansing. Daring and confronting, the dystopian story sees Australia, 2022, in a new era of reconciliation. The President has declared the ‘Australia 2’ land project in the guise of advancing native title and all things Aboriginal appear to be ‘in vogue’, commodified. But everything is not as it seems. When Kaden is employed as a cultural liaison officer she is given the task of relocating a new creature, part person, part plant, known as the ‘sandplants’. As she becomes involved in their life, she also uncovers the real intentions behind the new government policies. Her connection to the land is renewed and the outcomes are life changing.

The first two sections are short novellas in form, whereas the final section ‘Light’ is a fragmented clutch of short stories that lay bare the family and social dynamics of Australia’s marginal societies. There is a push-pull in each of the stories as they search to reconcile their sense of belonging, through their sexuality, heritage, family or place. The stories are raw and real; where love and violence sit side by side. The final story of the set ‘Sound’ is shocking and tender, questioning family ties, love and loyalty and leaves the reader questioning all three.

Heat and Light doesn’t follow standard structure and I felt that combining the three may have diminished their strength. There is also a self-indulgence in the writing that detracts from the strength of the collection; however Van Neerven is a strong writer who can bring characters to life and is prepared to experiment with style and form. Once this ability is harnessed she will be a brave new voice for Australian writing.


Buy this book: University of Queensland PressBooktopia, Bookworld or download from iBooks or Amazon.


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Author Bio: Born in 1990, Ellen van Neerven is a writer of Mununjali and Dutch heritage. She belongs to the Yugambeh people of the Gold Coast and Scenic Rim. She won the David Unaipon Award for an Unpublished Indigenous Writer in the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards for Heat and Light. Ellen’s short fiction, poetry and memoir have been published in numerous publications, including McSweeney’s, Voiceworks and Mascara Literary Review. She lives in Brisbane. For more information about Ellen Van Neerven visit University of Queensland Press 


aww-badge-2015This book has been read and reviewed by Angela Long for WTML for the 2015 Australian Women Writers challenge. To read more about the challenge see their website www.australianwomenwriters.com

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