Stage Fright, by Marianne Delacourt

I reacted immediately, twisting, ducking and punching. A slight ooph told me I’d hit my mark, but a second set of hands grabbed me around the waist from the other direction and a hand went over my mouth.
I scrabbled in my bag, searching for a weapon, and latched onto something slippery. With all my strength, I began whacking the guy in front of me with the barbecue duck.

Stage Fright

Tara Sharp might be good investigator, but she doesn’t need to use her psychic skills to know that she’s in a bit of trouble in Perth, thanks to her past couple of jobs. So when her friend (and sometime sidekick) Wal  finds her a gig in Brisbane, she thinks it’s worth taking, even if minding troubled rap stars isn’t part of her usual line of work. But even in Brisbane, trouble seems to find Tara wherever she goes. Looking after music star Sledge isn’t easy, and then there are the people who are out to make sure his tour runs anything but smoothly. And Johnny Viaspa, the man she upset in Perth, is involved in whatever it is that’s going down. Tara has to wonder if she’s bitten off a bit too much this time.

Stage Fright is the third title featuring Tara Sharp, a Private Investigator with the ability to read auras, and, like its predecessors, is action-packed and exciting, as well as humorous. Sharp has an eclectic blend of friends and enemies, including other psychics, bikies, and a luscious toy-boy model. The situations she finds herself in sometimes defy belief, but that is part of her appeal.

Great for summer reading.

Stage Fright, by Marianne Delacourt
Allen & Uniwn, 2012
ISBN 9781742377902

Available from good bookstores and online.

After Cleo: Came Jonah, by Helen Brown

When her beloved cat Cleo died, Helen Brown vowed that she would never get another one -hers was a one-cat family. Cleo had come into their life when they needed healing, and seen them through some tough times – and some good ones, too.

‘If I keep writing from my heart, I think Mum was saying it could do some good – not just for me, but for other people as well. There was something really urgent about it, too. Mum and Cleo were telling me to hurry up an finish it. They don’t want me to waste time.’
The prospect of running out of time hadn’t occurred to me before. It was something I was about to confront.

When her beloved cat Cleo died, Helen Brown vowed that she would never get another one -hers was a one-cat family. Cleo had come into their life when they needed healing, and seen them through some tough times – and some good ones, too. But a friend tells her that her old cat will, one day, choose a new one for her – the cat she is meant to have. As she battles breast cancer, Helen meets a feisty kitten called Jonah and, once again, there’s a cat in the house.

Jonah is different than Cleo. He’s a highly-stung, egocentric escape artist full of energy and happy to let his family know when he’s not pleased. At times Helen wonders what she’s let herself in for. But at other times, Jonah proves to be just the medicine she – and her family – need. Jonah is there as Helen recovers from her mastectomy, writes her first book, organises her son’s wedding, and struggles with her daughte’rs desire to become a Buddhist nun.

After Cleo Came Jonah is a warm, honest and uplifting account of family life amidst challenges and joys, with special focus on the mother-daughter relationship and the impact of facing one’s own mortality. A sequel to the best selling Cleo, readers will be delighted to spend more time with Helen and her family, in this intimate , heart-warming offering.

After Cleo Came Jonah

After Cleo Came Jonah, by Cleo Brown
Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742377773

This book is available in good bookstores, or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Vintage Alice, by Jessica Adams

In my dreams I see us standing on a beach in our wedding clothes a year or two from now…By then, Vintage Alice will be a shop, not just an imaginary fashion label.

Alice is over England. Really over it. She and her boyfriend Nash have applied for visas to go and live in Australia – and she’s sure that it will be the answer to all their problems. In Australia there will be sunshine. In Australia they will be able to afford to eat. And, in Australia, they won’t fight all the time. Yes, Australia will be the answer to all of Alice’s problems – if only they can get there. Their relationship may not even last long enough to get to the plane.

Alice is an unemployed fashion designer who has dreams of launching her own label, and of having a new life with Nash in a country she has never even visited. But when her relationship with Nash falls apart, she has to decide just how to recover from yet another failure, and find the courage to go ahead with her plans without him. And, in Australia, she has to contend with snakes, spiders, and crazy dog-kennel owners.

Vintage Alice is a funny, feel good story of one woman’s quest to find love and fulfilment. Set in damp England and sunny Australia, and with a diverse cast of characters and plenty of twists and turns, this is a tale which will make readers smile. Alice is a character who is as likeable as she is self deprecating and amusing.

Vintage Alice

Vintage Alice, by Jessica Adams
Arena, 2009

This book is available from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Dead Lovely, by Helen Fitzgerald

Kyle and I jumped, took cover, did all the things they do in the movies. But Sarah played her role all wrong. She didn’t hit us or shoot us or yell or slam the door or even leave. She sat down softly on the end of the bed and started to speak with a primary teacher voice and no sign of a quivering lip.

Krissie and Sarah have been best friends since childhood. It doesn’t matter that Krissie is a single man-eater who avoids close relationships, whilst Sarah is happily married to a gorgeous doctor and wants desperately to start a family. But when Krissie falls pregnant after yet another one-night stand, their relationship is trained.

As Krissie’s life spirals out of control, Sarah tries to help her. A holiday in the Scottish Highlands is supposed to help Krissie and mend their friendship – but things go drastically wrong.

Dead Lovely is a compelling read, with elements of chick-lit mixed with ghastly scenes of murder and retribution. With a mixture of first person and third point narration, and an ability to spring surprises right to the end, this hard to classify read is hard to put down and highly readable.

Helen Fitzgerald is an Australian writer now resident in Glasgow.

Dead Lovely

Dead Lovely, by Helen Fitzgerald
Arena, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond . Buying through this link helps to support Aussiereviews.

The Shadow Maker, by Robert Sims

She put her fingers to her nose and sniffed something like soot or ash. At first she thought her face had been disfigured then realised there were no wounds on her cheeks. So where did the burnt smell come from? Tentatively she moved her fingertips to her eye sockets. That’s when she started screaming.

There is a brutal sexual predator on the loose in Melbourne. Someone is attacking young women, knocking them senseless and leaving them mutilated. The first woman is blinded, the next has her ears damaged. The attacks are getting worse, and women are dying. Detective Marita Van Hassel, from the Melbourne Sexual Crimes Squad, is called on to use both her profiling and investigative skills to try to catch this animal. But the killer is proving elusive, and he has Rita in his sights as well.

The Shadow Maker is a thrilling and disturbing crime novel, from new novelist Robert Sims. With some really dark moments, the novel is frightening in places, but Sims contrasts this with some romance and the day to day life of the detective character, to make it balanced and absorbing. Readers will find this book hard to put down and will be looking forward to more from Sims and his character, Rita Van Hassel.

The Shadow Maker, by Robert Sims
Arena, an imprint of Allen & Unwin, 2007