Thursday, 24 July 2014

Gap by Rebecca Jessen

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Written by Rebecca Jessen
Fiction, Verse
Published July 23rd 2014
232 Pages
Thank you to UQP 
Winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Award, Best Emerging Author.

When you’re at the end of the line with nowhere to turn, how far would you go to protect the one you love?

A man is found dead in an inner-city suburb, a police officer walks the blurry line between duty and loyalty, and a young woman from the wrong side of the tracks is on the run. Ana soon becomes a suspect in the murder investigation, and as sole carer for her younger sister is desperately trying to stay ahead of the law. In a surprising twist, the detective in charge of the case is no stranger and Ana is forced to face her past and the things she has left behind. Unsure of who she can trust and isolated by her crime, Ana is drawn into a passionate affair that breaks all the rules.
From the winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Awards, Best Emerging Author category, Gap combines a gripping crime thriller with a style evocative of Dorothy Porter’s cult classic, The Monkey’s Mask.

Ana's life has never been carefree, she's never truly lived, only merely survived. Now as the sole carer for her sister Indie, she works to allow Indie to live the life that was never offered to Ana after her father walked out of their lives, while their neglectful mother consistently chose her string of boyfriends at the expense of her daughters. But now it seems Ana will be forced to pay for her past.

After an altercation, the police come looking for Ana, but she never expected her former partner and high school sweetheart Sawyer to come knocking on her door again. With Indie to look out for, Ana begins to worry what will happen to her underage sister and the urge to flee town seems to be Ana's only option. Until her mother hears of her alleged crime.

Never having cared for Indie's welfare, her mother now demands that the teen return home, providing the police with further ammunition to suspect Ana. The fierce need to protect her sister, the unresolved feelings between her and Sawyer and on the verge of facing incarceration, who can Ana turn to?

My Thoughts

Told in verse, Gap follows the sorrowful storyline of Ana, who had just reached the lowest point in her life thus far. After being kicked out of her mother's home at only sixteen, Ana has struggled to survive, but after taking in her underage sister Indie, it's given Ana a reason to pick herself and provide a life that their mother couldn't and Ana will do anything to keep Indie safe.

What I found so striking about Ana was her realism. Her emotions, willingness to admit her past mistakes and give everything she has to protect and provide for Indie. Her emotions, her genuine fear and her unconditional love for the girl who also rescued her in turn is honest, raw and readers will not only find themselves drawn to Ana, but can relate to her downfall. But being a prime suspect in a murder case will unravel the girl who is just barely keeping her life together.

Although she's made many questionable life decisions, Ana isn't a hardened criminal, she's merely a girl who finds herself in a situation now where she'll need to fight for her innocence, regardless of the legitimacy. As the storyline reveals itself, we see Ana's internal struggle against her only option, to admit defeat or fight to the bitter end. But hope comes in the form of her former partner, who Ana admits she can no longer trust. I loved Gap, the short, punchy style of verse not only had an enormous impact, but was incredibly engaging and left my heart aching for Ana and her situation.

My only complaint is that it felt unresolved, but rather it's left to the reader to interpret how Ana's story will end. But an incredibly worthy winner of the 2013 Queensland Literary Award for the Best Emerging Author. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Protected by Claire Zorn

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The Protected
Written by Claire Zorn
Contemporary, Coming of Age, Death
Published July 23rd 2014
264 Pages
Thank you to UQP 
I have three months left to call Katie my older sister. Then the gap will close and I will pass her. I will get older. But Katie will always be fifteen, eleven months and twenty one days old.

Hannah's world is in pieces and she doesn't need the school counselor to tell her she has deep seated psychological issues. With a seriously depressed mum, an injured dad and a dead sister, who wouldn't have problems?

Hannah should feel terrible but for the first time in ages, she feels a glimmer of hope and isn't afraid anymore. Is it because the elusive Josh is taking an interest in her? Or does it run deeper than that?

In a family torn apart by grief and guilt, one girl's struggle to come to terms with years of torment shows just how long old wounds can take to heal.

Sweet Damage by Rebecca James

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Sweet Damage
Written by Rebecca James
Thriller, Romance, Mystery
Published April 1st 2013
336 Pages
'I still dream about Anna London's house. In my dreams it's as if the house itself has sinister intentions. But in real life it wasn't the house that was responsible for what happened. It was the people who did the damage...'

When Tim Ellison finds a cheap room to rent in the perfect location in Sydney it looks like a huge stroke of luck. In fact the room comes with a condition, and the owner of the house, the mysterious Anna London, is unfriendly and withdrawn. When strange and terrifying things start happening in the house at night, Tim wonders if taking the room is a mistake. But then his feelings for Anna start to change, and when her past comes back with a vengeance, Tim is caught right in the middle of it.

A thrilling rollercoaster of a story, read it with the lights on!

The Special by David Stavanger

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The Special
Written by David Stavanger
Published July 23rd 2014
96 Pages
Thank you to UQP 
Both fun and playful, Stavanger’s poems display wit and beguiling originality. They shift from the oddball to the vulnerable and from the zany to the deeply meditative.

Stavanger’s collection embodies a spirit of the post post modern in both intellect and spark, while playing off cool disjunctions against electrifying erudition. There is a strong trace of the performative and dramatic in these poems, Stavanger’s flair for performance poetry gives this award winning collection a distinct and likeable flavour.