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Five weeks have gone by since my last list. Since then, Sydney has had a blast of sunshine even as thick snow blanketed the hinterlands. As usual, five different writers have penned the quintet of reads that I’ve covered. I’ve managed my second helpings of Baldacci and Simsion, while tackling two memoirs. Furthermore, I’ve also got cracking on the Will Trent series. Below is the full inventory, in order of finish.

1. Breaking Badly (Georgie Dent). An eye-opening account of one woman’s battle with her mind, I’ve had this on my radar for a while. I was among the first batch of patrons to get this at my repository. This book lets us in on a number of years in the author’s life: from her insecure teens to her agonising time at a law firm, her hospitalisation to her recovery. I would admit that it’s a more challenging read than other memoirs. Yet once you capture it, it has a long-lasting impact. I truly felt for Georgie: conflicted, long-suffering, and fragile. Going from one health practitioner to the next, with never-ending diagnoses, can break anyone. Don’t even get me started on the surgeries. Aside from being excessive, they were also unnecessary.

The memoir was funny at times. The support and care she received from family and friends never failed to amaze me. What stands out in the book to me is finding your mission and the fear of failure. She stuck with law since she was afraid of the response should she shift careers. This only exacerbated her worries and contributed to her meltdown. As Clint Eastwood once said, ‘Man should know his limitations.’ Do not wade through something that does not give you satisfactory returns. To quote a philosopher, ‘Find a job you love, and you will not work a day in your life.’ I’m glad that Dent realised her calling, both as writer and mother.

Rating: 4.2/5

2. The Rosie Result (Graeme Simsion). The final chapter in the Don Tillman trilogy; I skipped the second act as I heard it wasn’t that good. Don and his family return to Melbourne after ten years in New York. His son, Hudson, has real issues fitting in his new school, and it’s up to Don to save the day. Who else would be more suitable to meet this problem than Don, who spent his whole life trying to adapt? Even as both parents keep getting called to the principal’s office, Don refuses his son from taking the autism test. Tillman is all in as he tries to remodel Hudson, buying him new clothes, expanding his social circle, and teaching him how to ride a bike. Along the way, he himself encounters his share of tight spots. Instead of lecturing genetics and jump-starting cutting-edge research, Tillman establishes his own high-tech bar. A free-flowing read, this is an inside look into the struggles and hopes of the autism community. While the dialogue may at times be straight out of a science lab, this is a pleasant effort that would be well worth your eyes.

Rating: 4.3/5

3. One Good Deed (Baldacci). My second Baldacci novel started out slowly, taking its time to percolate. Yet once things got going, putting down this book was tough. One tells the story of Aloysius Archer, straight out of prison, who starts his new life as a parolee in Poca City. Of course, this is hardly a fresh idea. Remember The Majestic? How about Wayward Pines? In some respects, One has elements of The Majestic in that it is set in the 50s. Archer took part in the war but gets caught in a bad situation which sends him to jail. What makes this an irresistible read is the old school vibe, the full characters, the retro language, and the intricate plotlines. On the other hand, I didn’t appreciate the inordinate emphasis on attire description. I wonder if this is the norm with 50s novels.   

The shuffling of cards sparks the drama. In particular, the death of a main player spurs the action and takes the book on a different path. The moment of the death scene was like Kiefer Sutherland strapping on a bulletproof vest. It was that good. One has got far less chapters than The Last Mile, meaning longer sections. Unlike Connelly, Baldacci does not have breaks within his chapters. That matters little though when you tell stories this well.

Rating: 4.65/5

4. Triptych (Slaughter). The first in the Will Trent series, released in 2006. I’ve only recently discovered Slaughter, and her murder mysteries are almost as good as Connelly. Here, we are introduced to detective Will Trent and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). Trent is sent to investigate a brutal murder in Atlanta and joins forces with the local PD, which includes dodgy Michael Ormewood. Slaughter takes us to the sights of Atlanta, rich, poor, lavish and crumbling. We also learn that in spite of Will’s competence, he is dyslexic, but this doesn’t hinder him from chasing the bad guys. Moreover, Will comes from a foster home, where he forges an on-again, off-again relationship with Angie Polaski. The latter works undercover with vice as ‘Robin’ and the death (of her colleague) shakes her.

We get to meet John Shelley, recently released after the mutilation of a girl twenty years ago. Is he the killer? Did he perpetuate all these murders of mostly underage women? Or is the real killer still out there, biding his time, bamboozling the authorities? Triptych is unlike Connelly’s The Poet, which keeps you guessing till the end. Here the matador’s identity is revealed quite early, making it more like The Departed. However, the plot remains very well-constructed and is a top-notch thriller. Aside from killings and police work, Triptych is also a chronicle of a mother’s undying love for her boy. Through thick and thin, good times and bad, in sickness and in health, till her last breath, Emily would support John, her only son. All in all, Triptych is a good introduction to Will Trent and Karin Slaughter’s universe and exhibits the power of family, transcending prison walls and razor wires.    

Rating: 4.75/5

5. Jonathan Thurston: The Autobiography. This JT memoir is my most recent read. Don’t be confused; it’s not Justin Timberlake but Jonathan Thurston, widely regarded as one of the greatest league players. He wasn’t always on a pedestal, initially knocked as being ‘too skinny, too slow and too wild to succeed.’ He famously gave away his championship ring as a rookie reserve at the Bulldogs. Eleven years later, he kicked the winning goal during golden point which capped off the Cowboys’ march to the title. This book examines his rise from humble beginnings to the junior leagues and finally, the NRL. We are there as he is on the verge of quitting rugby and juggles other sports instead. Most importantly, we grasp his Indigenous heritage, his off-field generosity, and his love for family, club, and country. His steely resolve in the face of crisis awes us, never more apparent than in the dying seconds of the 2015 Grand Final, where he almost single-handedly rallies his squad to the chip. I must admit that I had given up on the Cowboys that night, seeing as they were behind with minutes to spare. This doesn’t diminish what truly was a fairy tale ending. Looking forward to reading the rest.

Rating: TBD

I usually only go for one non-fiction book with every list, making it one-fifth of the cume. This time, I bumped it up to forty percent. Last year, I read nil non-fiction books. Out of the six I’ve crested this year, five of them were memoirs. As of late August, I’m currently on my twenty fifth read. It’s good to have some variety, not just all novels. Once you’ve started, branching out is the next logical step. Cheers, to more variation!   

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