There is voting to find the best Australian book of the year, Picture Book displays and workshops, Indigenous Writing and more. I linked to the site above if you want to read more.
Meanwhile, reader extraordinaire, myself, has already devoured about 10 books since January 1st, heading for my goal of 100+ books again. I've read Gardens of Delight by Erica James, two more books in Nora Roberts' Irish Trilogy, another Jane Green novel and Goldengrove, by Francine Prose (whose prose is amazing) and more...Print books are still my favourite, but I have about 3 e-books on the go by some amazing blogger authors such as Francine Howarth, Roland Yeomans and Anne Gallagher.
So I thought I'd post a book review to kick off my National Year of Reading 2012. Was hard to choose, but Afterwards is my hot read so far...
by Rosamund Lupton (Goodreads Author)
There is a fire and they are in there. They are in there...
Black smoke stains a summer blue sky. A school is on fire. And one mother, Grace, sees the smoke. She knows her teenage daughter Jenny is inside. She runs into the burning building to rescue her.
Afterwards Grace must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her children from the person who's still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.
Rosamund Lupton is one of my latest favourite literary authors. I first came across her poetic writing when I read her debut novel, Sister, a chilling tale set in London. (I reviewed Sister here...)
Afterwards is also a chilling tale, but this time the reader enters a world where two disembodied spirits are the protagonists. This is a leap for some, yet I found everything about this book - the cover, the writing, the plot, all magnificent.
Here is a brief overview of the storyline:
Grace Covey is at her eight year old son Adam's school’s sports day when she sees smoke coming from the school building. Afraid for her children, a daughter and a son who are inside, she runs towards the school. Her son is outside the building being minded by the daughter of a friend, but her daughter, 17 year old Jenny, is still inside and Grace is desperate to rescue her little girl. (You might wonder why she doesn't leave it to the firemen, but there is a reason - they cannot get their trucks into the grounds because of the parents' parking.)
Grace finds an unconscious Jenny on an upper floor and drags her downstairs. Mother and daughter don't make it. Grace collapses before she can get both of them out of the building. They are admitted to hospital, both seriously burnt and fighting for their lives. However, the real fight hasn't begun yet because it is revealed that the fire was deliberately lit. Grace believes that somebody is out to destroy her children and she is desperate to stop that person, whoever he/she may be.
Before the fire, life was beautiful and easy for the Covey family but afterwards comes the fighting. Afterwards comes the time to appreciate the things that are truly important in life, to discover hidden depths of love and strength, especially of the bond between a mother and her children. Afterwards is the time when everything changes, forever. Afterwards is a time of sacrifice.
I've already said I loved this story. I loved the mystery with so many possible villains and a very credible solution, although I was slow to guess. It's an absolutely gripping story with Lupton's characters captivating, and her dealings with emotions are both credible and heart-rending.
This is one of those books I didn't want to ever finish, yet I read like lightning as the storyline had me in thrall. I can't wait for her next book.
I also posted a longer version of this review at Reading at Dawn, a book review blog I collaborate on with Dawn Embers and Writer's Block NZ. Anytime you want to read a book review, check us out at: readingatdawn.blogspot.com.