Welcome to the August 2021 General Fiction Round Up.  And you have all been very busy reading and reviewing during the last month of winter with 87 reviews covering 58 titles.  Thanks to everyone who has contributed once again.

Our first title comes from Meredith Appleyard and it is called All about Ella.  Brenda’s Reviews couldn’t rate this one highly enough and thought this was another 5 star read from this author.  “All About Ella is another brilliant novel by Aussie author Meredith Appleyard which I loved. An excellent plot which saw a woman who was determined to have her own life, and her family equally determined she wouldn’t. It also shows how people who aren’t related – Angie, Zach, Claire, Leon, Ruth, Gabby – are sometimes more family than the real family. Love and loyalty, trust and compassion – All About Ella is a remarkable, heartwarming novel which I recommend highly. I’ve loved all Ms Appleyard’s books, and this one is no exception!”

One title that many readers are eagerly anticipating and looking forward to grabbing a copy of is Liane Moriarty’s new release Apples Never Fall.  Her popularity is just growing and growing and many people (including myself) are currently watching the screen adaption of Nine Perfect Strangers.  A review that gives it all ‘all the stars’ comes from Heidi@butbooksarebetter and she thought “as with Moriarty’s other books, APPLES NEVER FALL is a slow burning, character driven mystery that focuses more on interpersonal dynamics and relationships than the actual mystery itself. The thing I love most about Moriarty’s books is the way she lets us see deep inside her characters’ heads and explore the deepest darkest corners of their psyche. Families are complex, and Moriarty has nailed it!” Certainly can’t wait to get my copy as I will put it there, I have always been a huge Moriarty fan myself.

An author I haven’t heard from before is Jacquie Byron and if you click on her name it will take you to a recent interview she did with the team from Better Reading.  Her book is called Happy Hour and Marianne’s Reviews has written a glowing review about this debut novel “Byron’s tale examines grief, blame and forgiveness, reclusiveness and loneliness, and does it with humour and sensitivity. Her characters have depth and appeal, displaying very human flaws and, in Franny’s case, occasionally disappointing the reader with poor behaviour. Her inner monologue is often darkly funny. Funny, moving and thought-provoking, this is an impressive debut.”

The Unusual Abduction of Avery Conifer by Isla Evans was reviewed by Jennifer Cameron Smith who thought “this is such a clever novel: each of the women comes to life, and Avery is delightful. There are some laugh out loud moments in the journey, as well as an appreciation of the different ways in which women mother and nurture. I enjoyed this novel, both the serious aspects of caring for family as well as the more humorous escapades. A terrific and heart-warming read.”

Journalist and speechwriter Marion Frith has turned her talents to writing a novel called Here in the after.  Denise Newton Writes thought this was a sensitively written and timely novel in the light of the recent developments in Afghanistan.  She writes “Here in the After is a sensitively written story of appalling trauma, the slow rocky path to recovery, and a different type of friendship. As we witness the tragedy in Afghanistan, the story is a timely reflection on the scars that violence leaves on its survivors – some visible, others less so.”

Popular Australian author Barbara Hannay has a brand new novel which is receiving very positive reviews.  It is titled The Garden of Hopes and Dreams.  Shelleyrae@Bookdout’s describes this one as ‘delightful and uplifting’ and I think we all need a bit of that right now.  Helen’s Reviews was very positive and encourages us to read this one, “this is another fabulous story from such a wonderful author, Barbara Hannay never fails to disappoint me with her stories they are filled with characters that are so easy to make friends with, this one is a story of friendships made through a roof top garden there is love and heartache but so much joy and one that is sure to leave any reader feeling very happy.”

Emily Madden’s The Buchanan Girls has been promoted as a “a sweeping family saga about betrayal, forgiveness and the cost of love.”  Brenda’s Reviews adored this one and felt “The Buchanan Girls is a novel set in both 1941 and 2008 by Aussie author Emily Madden and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the story immensely, felt incredibly sorry for Ivy, and angry and frustrated with Olive. Townsville and beautiful Magnetic Island where the army, air force and AWSA members had their R&R was divine. The tying together of the two time-frames was beautifully done and I felt sadness as well as satisfaction. The Buchanan Girls is an exceptional novel which I highly recommend.”

With a title What would LaVonda Robinette do? I am sure we are intrigued by this novel by Kirsten Caron and Burgeoning Bookshelf reviews this one very favourably.  “Kirsten Maron’s writing is entertaining as she builds intrigue through a witty narrative. LaVonda is extremely likeable even though she has a deviated moral sense, we see most of her dark thoughts through her internal monologue.  What Would LaVonda Robinette Do? is an engaging and witty read filled with, fierce and fabulous females, a storyline that will have you laughing out loud and a twist that I didn’t see coming.” 

Joanna Nell always delivers with heartwarming, funny and surprising stories and her latest one The Tea Ladies of St. Jude’s Hospital sounds like another terrific novel.  Marianne’s Reviews gave this one five stars and absolutely loved it. “Once again, Nell has her finger on the pulse when it comes to seniors, touching on many issues that affect the elderly: loneliness, poverty, malnutrition, denial in grief, the need for a sense of purpose, and the fear of being irrelevant or invisible. She addresses these topics with sensitivity and humour, giving the reader laughter and lumps-in-the-throat in equal measure. The clever chapter headings are a bonus. A delightful read!”

So will leave it there, lots of terrific titles this month with very positive affirming reviews.  All the best to everyone as we continue to cope with the challenges that 2021 is bringing us.  Take care, stay safe, stay well and keep reading and reviewing.