book reviews | fiction | reading

A couple of good reads

As I mentioned in my last post I’ve had the chance to do some summer reading. Reading calms me and makes my heart piroutte with joy, especially when it is a good book. Fortunately my latest reads have been just that.

“House for all Seasons” is the first novel for Australian author Jenn J McLeod and what a debut it is. House for all Seasons tells the story of four women who grew up in the same country town, Calingarry Crossing in New South Wales. Although they were somewhat friends at school after leaving the small town behind they become estranged and we meet them twenty years later. They are brought back together after unexpectedly being left a house in their home town which they affectionately called the ‘Dandelion House’ and was a big part of their childhood in different ways. Each woman is required to revisit the house for three months, separately, in order to fulfill the wishes of the benefactor.

The book is broken down into the experiences of each woman as they return to Calingarry Crossing in each of the four seasons. We are introduced to the characters and each of their fears, baggage and crosses to bear and a secret that binds them all. McLeod writes beautifully with intent and illustrates the setting and the characters with love. Her writing dances in front of your eyes so much so that you feel you are right there with each of them in Calingarry Crossing.

The story itself is captivating and intriguing as you begin to both love and sympathise with each character. subconsciously relating to each of them in a different way. McLeod weaves the story and surprises with an unexpected twist that will leave you shocked, confused and at peace all at once.

Although I wouldn’t call it a ‘can’t put down’ book, I was definitely intrigued each time I began reading and wanted to know the secrets of the house and the answer to the mystery that tied the women together. My only criticism would be that I felt the author doesn’t relay each woman’s experience equally. I felt one of the characters was more intensely developed compared to the other three, however that may be because I related with that character more perhaps.

House for all Seasons would be a fantastic Book Club book as many issues are both on a personal level and on society and the way we live our lives as a whole.

Recommended reading. 9/10


“First Love” is written by best selling crime author James Patterson. I have read many a James Patterson novel as I love his fast paced crime stories, short chapters and engaging characters. What I didn’t know is that Patterson has also dabbled, successfully, in a few romance novels.

With “First Love” Patterson has teamed with Emily Raymond whom I had not heard of, but who is a successful ghostwriter of many young adult novels. The partnership works well. The book sticks to Patterson’s formula of short chapters and a fast moving story line and it doesn’t take long for you to be drawn into the novel.

Told through the eyes of Axi Moore, “First Love”  tells the story of sixteen year old Axi and her best friend Robinson, who she convinces to runaway with her from their small town in Oregon  and embark on an adventurous road trip. Axi, who is secretly in love with Robinson her handsome, witty and cheeky ‘scalawag’ as she calls him, has had a hard time in her short life dealing with many battles including losing her sister at a young age, her mother running out on the family and her Father turning to the bottle for comfort. The road trip is the only way that Axi can see to escape her life.

The story line moves along quickly and we begin to get to know both Axi and Robinson and realise the chemistry between them. The characters bounce well off each other and Patterson/Raymond litter the book with secrets to their past along the way. About half way through the book we see Axi and Robinson faced with something that will change them and their relationship forever.

At first I had mixed feelings about the book. It’s certainly an engaging read but it is not without it’s flaws. I felt in parts that some of the events were a little unrealistic. Patterson tends to glaze over the realities of certain things to move the story forward and as someone who likes to have all my i’s dotted and t’s crossed found it at times a little unbelievable. I also felt the characters were a little under developed even though the basis was there. However, Patterson & Raymond certainly nail the underlying theme of the book; first love and the profound impact it can have of an individual forever.

Without saying too much I would suggest not reading the authors notes until you have finished the book as it may contain a little hint of a spoiler, but it also demonstrates why Patterson felt compelled to write the story.

After finishing the book I found myself thinking about life, love and the journey we are all on and for this I must give kudos to the authors. First Love is beautiful, at times funny and certainly an engaging  read that will tug at your heart strings. Grab a cup of tea, some chocolates and a box of kleenex and enjoy the road trip. 8/10.


Have you read either of these books?
Share what you’ve read recently too – I’m always on the lookout for another book to add to my growing reading list!