Disclaimer: This post and website is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com
Welcome to my November 2023 book reviews post. I hope you have had a good reading month. Mine has been a little slow and disjointed, and I’m not quite sure why. I certainly haven’t been doing any of the dreaded Christmas shopping – argh!
I did manage to attend a couple of really good author talks in November though, which has added even more books to my already ridiculously long book wish list. Fingers crossed some of them make it into my Christmas Stocking in December 🙂
Author Talk – Ben Stevenson and Chris Hammer
The first talk was with Australian authors Ben Stevenson and Chris Hammer.
Ben has written numerous books but his most recent one was Everyone in my Family has Killed Someone.
In the talk, he discussed the research he carried out for his second book. The story is set on The Ghan, a luxury train trip that travels between Adelaide and Darwin. In true Agatha Christie style, someone is murdered on the train which makes all the passengers a suspect.
Ben described how he travelled on the train as a passenger and spent his time asking the staff where it would be possible to hide a body. Apparently, you can only lock some of the cabins when you are occupying them which limits the areas for hiding bodies! Ben said the staff looked at him very strangely until he explained he was researching for his book!
He also explained that within his books he tells the reader in advance to look out for a clue or that a murder will occur on a certain page. This makes the writing process for him harder as he has to remember where to insert the necessary clues etc that he has foreshadowed at the beginning of the book.
In both books he has included a bird as part of the plot. The bird in his second book is the Australian Firehawk. It is renowned for creating bush fires. The bird collects a burning stick from one bush fire and then drops the stick in another area to start a wildfire to flush out its food of lizards etc. Ben explained that this provided the plot point of a bushfire that causes the train to be stationery at the point when the first murder has been committed.
Ben was very funny and amusing and I shall definitely be hoping to read his books soon.
Chris Hammer writes thrillers set in Australian landscapes. I absolutely love his voice – I’ve heard him on lots of podcasts. Originally a political journalist, he has now turned his hand to fictional writing and has been extremely successful.
His debut book Scrublands has just been adapted for TV. You should be able to watch it on Stan in Australia and BBC iplayer in the UK. I haven’t started watching it yet, but it’s on my list even though I haven’t read the book yet.
I am currently reading his latest book, which was the one he was promoting, The Seven. I will review it in my next book review.
Author Talk – Heather Morris
My second author talk that I attended was with Heather Morris.
She is most famous for her book The Tattooist of Auschwitz, which is in production as a mini series for TV.
I hadn’t realised that she is a New Zealand author, who didn’t turn to fiction writing until later in life.
Again, she was a very interesting speaker and explained where the ideas for her stories come from i.e. true life.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is about Lale Sokolov who was sent to Auschwitz in 1942. He was ordered to tattoo the numbers on the prisoners there and in doing so met the love of his life, Gita. His story is about how he fought all the odds to survive and ensure Gita did too. I haven’t read the book as I wasn’t sure if I could cope with reading about the horrors of Auschwitz but everyone says it is a book of hope which makes it more readable.
Heather then told a story that sent goosebumps down my arms. When she was touring to promote the book she was in South Africa. Her daughter kept contacting her, saying you have to read this email you have received from a Canadian man, Oded.
Oded had been travelling from Canada to Israel to see his mother and family. He bought a copy of the book at the airport and showed it to his mum. His mum immediately recognised the names of Gita and Lale, declaring that they were neighbours before the war. Oded’s mum and two sisters had all been in Auschwitz at the same time and recognised the tattooted numbers on Gita and Lale’s arms.
Thus the book Three Sisters was written by Heather, telling the story of the three young sisters who ended up in Auschwitz, fighting for survival as they had promised their father that they would always stay together.
Heather’s latest book is Sisters under the Rising Sun.
This book tells the story of English musician Norah Chambers and Australian nurse Nesta James, who were escaping from Singapore in 1942. Their ship the HMS Vyner Brooke was bombed and sunk. The two women managed to swim to an Indonesian island only to be captured and placed in one of the notorious Japanese POW camps. This is another book for my wish list.
So here’s my sparse Book Reviews for November 2023:
Philly Barker is on the Case – Joanne Tracey (fiction)
Philly Barker is an antiques dealer in Yorkshire, UK, who just seems to somehow get herself involved in murder mysteries.
Remote farmhouses are being broken into and their elderly owners’ treasured antiques are being stolen. Detective Inspector Robbie Dawkins asks Philly to help with indentifying the stolen antiques.
The investigation takes a deadly turn when Philly and Robbie’s prime suspect is murdered. Can they solve the mystery before any more murders occur?
I gobbled up this book in a couple of sittings. The story has great pace, lots of food references – hmm Eccles Cakes, and engaging and realistic characters.
I also loved the snowy, wintery setting of Yorkshire, just in time to get me in the mood for Christmas.
A top read for me, and you can read this as a stand alone if you haven’t read the first book Philly Barker Investigates.