Beyond Carousel, by Brendan Ritchie

The house isn’t powered like Carousel. Pretty much nowhere is. But it has a line of solar panels on the roof and two summers worth of power stored in the batteries. Enough for showers, air conditioning, pool filters – anything we want. Except for lights. Never any lights.
At night we shuffle the long hallways with tiny reading lights tucked into our belts and pockets, our voices hushed and careful against the manic drone of insects outside.

Nox, Taylor and Lizzy have escaped the confines of Carousel, where they were trapped for months.Now they are holed up in an empty house in the hills, resting while they figure out what to do next. most of the population of Perth has vanished in the same event which saw them trapped inside the Carousel shopping centre. Now that they are out they are trying to piece together what has happened and what they should do next.

But while they have found a temporary haven, they are far from safe. There are other people roaming the mostly abandoned city, and packs of wild dogs stalk them. There are also problems with food and water supply and, of course, the fear that they are stuck this way forever. Then they discoevr that time is running out to get everything sorted out.

Beyond Carousel is an action-packed sequel to Carousel, and would is bets read after the first, though could possibly be read on its own.The premise and the way it plays out create lots of intrigue and plenty of action.

Good stuff.

Beyond Carousel, by Brendan Ritchie
Fremantle Press, 2016
ISBN 9781925164039

Carousel, by Brendan Ritchie

‘We almost got a door open today,’ Taylor said.
Lizzy and I looked at her.Carousel
‘What do we do if it opens?’ asked Lizzy.
‘Get the hell out of here,’ said Taylor.
‘Doesn’t it depend on what’s out there?’ I asked.
‘What do you think is out there, Nox? Zombies? A nuclear holocaust? You’ve heard the noises. We have to go out there,’ said Taylor.
I stared hard at the floor and wondered why the idea of a door opening freaked me out so much.

Nox doesn’t really understand how he’s come to be stuck inside Carousel shopping centre with only three companions, nor what has happened to the outside world. But it’s where he is, and it’s become a disconcerting kind of new-normal. His fellow residents are Canadian musical duo Taylor and Lizzy, and teenage Rocky, each of whom seems to cope with their containment in their own way. Their seemingly endless days of containment become a mix of figuring out how to survive, how to entertain themselves, and how to escape. Then there’s the dilemma of what they will do if they do escape. They have no contact with the outside world, and no idea what has happened out there and why are the ones who have survived. As time passes, though, they do have a growing need to find out.

Carousel is an absorbing young adult read with a dark edge. The four protagonists are, to their knowledge, the only survivors of some sort of apocalyptic event, but they have no way of knowing how true this is, and whether the disaster has just wiped out Perth, where the shopping centre is located, or if perhaps the whole world has changed.

The story is told from the first person viewpoint of Nox, a university graduate who has studied creative writing but hasn’t fulfilled any writing ambition, As such, it is Nox who we get to know best, but as the novel progresses the stories of the other inhabitants also develop. Readers will be absorbed by their predicament and intrigued by the mystery of what has happened and why they are there. The ending hints at a possible sequel, but the story stands satisfyingly on its own.

A strong debut novel suitable for teen readers.

Carousel, by Brendan Ritchie
Fremantle Press, 2015
ISBN 9781925162141

Available from good bookstores and online.

Small Bamboo, by Tracy Vo

I was on a plane from Sydney to Perth to see my parents, but it was much more than just a flight west. It would eventually take me back more than thirty years, all the way back to Vietnam, back to a time when my parents were young and brave and desperate.
Desperate enough to get on a leaky boat.

In 2012 a break from her Sydney-based media career to visit her parents made Tracy Vo realise how homesick she was. It was time to move home to Perth. Ultimately, this decision took her much further, on a journey of discovery into her parents’ past. Thirty four years earlier, they had fled post-war Vietnam in a leaky boat, making a new life in Australia, where Tracy and her b=older brother Trevor were born and grew up.

Small Bamboo is a captivating account of the Vo family’s life in Vietnam prior to and during the Vietnam war, their subsequent escape and journey to Australia, and their lives adapting to this new country. Vo also shares her own experiences as the child of refugee parents, and charts her career to date as a television and radio journalist.

Readers will be entertained and intrigued by this glimpse into one family’s lives, and also witness to the way that hard work and determination can overcome adversity and lead to success.

 

Small Bamboo, by Tracy Vo
Allen & Unwin, 2014
ISBN 9781743316153

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Mimosa Tree, by Antonella Preto

‘I’m not miserable,” I say but she is already turning away from me, sliding her handbag up her arm until it gets jammed tight around her flesh. Mum looks like she is about to cry about my pathetic life. ‘I’m fine, Mum,’ I say nodding encouragingly towards the door, and then because she looks so mournful I add: ‘I’ll make some new friends, okay? At university.’

It’s 1987 and Mira has left school behind and is ready to start university. There she is sure her life will be different. She can be who she wants to be. To celebrate she’s got an all-black wardrobe and a new haircut. But her interfering aunt has arranged a new friend for her – the perfect, rich Felicia – and it’s hard to get excited about studying teaching when she only enjoys art. Then there’s her certainty that the world is going to end soon, anyway, when Russia and America decide which of them will drop the first bomb. It’s true, her world IS about to change – but that change won’t come from the skies.

The Mimosa Tree is an outstanding d├ębut novel from West Australian author Antonella Preto. Set in the Perth of the 1980s, it is a haunting tale about growing up, finding one’s own identity and surviving adversity. Mira is embarrassed of her Italian family, but as her world collapses she finds a new appreciation of them and of her new friends, too.

The character of Mira is intriguing and the use of first person narration effective. Mira should be unlikeable – she is self-centred, morbid and down right rude to pretty much everyone. But she’s also self-deprecating and honest, so the reader can connect, and see that her flaws hide a troubled teen. She has a lot to deal with – especially her mother’s recent battle with cancer and her alcoholic father’s moodiness. Her bossy Aunt Via wants to run her life, but seems to never have a kind word, and she has no friends except for one foisted on her by her Aunt, and whom Mira feels she has nothing in common with.

Mira’s story will appeal to teens, as well as to those who were teens in the 80s.

The Mimosa Tree, by Antonella Preto
Fremantle Press, 2013
ISBN 9781922089199

Available from good booksellers or here.

Sharp Turn, by Marianne Delacourt

‘It’s from Wal Grominsky. He says, Keep a watch out for anyone tailing y–‘
I planted the accelerator and ran the red light, ripping a sharp left off the highway soon after.
‘–ou,’ Ed oophed out. He fell hard against his door and yelped in pain but I didn’t have time for apologies. In fact, I didn’t say a word for half-a-dozen more hairpin turns and a backtrack around the water tank on top of the Mosman Park hill.
Ed rubbed his shoulder. ‘What the-‘

Unorthodox PI Tara Sharp needs new clients, but she’s less than impressed when Madame Vine, proprietor of a high-class brothel, wants to hire her to sort out her staff. When the chance to work on a mystery threatening a high-profile motor racing team comes up, she’s much more keen. Tara is a petrol head, and hanging out at the track – and getting paid for it – seems like heaven to her.

But it isn’t long before Tara’s life is once again in danger. A body found floating in the Swan River reminds her that Johnny Viaspa may have it in for her. Add in a murder at Madam Vine’s abd a mysterious greay car tailing her, and it seems certain that Tara is in for more action than she bargained for.

Sharp Turn is the second action-filled crime novel in the Tara Sharp series, set in and around Perth. Tara is a sassy, clever investigator with the unorthodox investigative skill of being able to read auras. She is surrounded by an eclectic mix of characters, including a narcoleptic body guard, a runaway teen, posh parents and enough hunky men to satisfy any reader.

Readers will look forward to seeing more of Tara Sharp.

Sharp Turn

Sharp Turn, by Marianne Delacourt
Allen & Unwin, 2010
ISBN 9781742370033

This book can be purchased in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond.