book reviews · Bookish

Ash Mountain by Helen FitzGerald (Review)

Happy Humpday everyone! Today I’m thrilled to be on another wonderful Orenda tour. This time for Ash Mountain by Helen FitzGerald which is released tomorrow – 20th August 2020 in it’s paperback format! It’s also available in Kindle and Audiobook formats. I received a copy of the book for free as part of the tour.

Ash Mountain is set in the astoundingly hot Australian summer and centers around Fran who has returned to the place she thought she had left behind so that she could provide care to her father. She tries to get used to life back at Ash Mountain with this new challenge to contend with, but it ends up being far more than she bargained for when forced to confront her past, the start of a romance and her daughter uncovers a dark secret. Thing’s are getting hot and intense on Ash Mountain… in more ways than one.

This book is not a very long one, but it sure packs a punch. It’s pacey and intense. It’s emotional, heart wrenching but also comedic. It’s vivid, it’s… it’s a LOT of things. It’s.. simply excellent. It explores loss and abuse, but also redemption, love and forgiveness. I feel like it would be really easy to spoil this book because it’s like a whirlwind. It’s complex, just like life truly is.

Ash Mountain has turned out to be one of my favourite reads this year. It’s one of those that lingers in the mind; the sort of book that you have to take a moment with once you put it down. It feels so authentic and convincing. Fran is so wonderfully human. The balance is just right. Many things are bleak but this book will still make you laugh. It’s one you can easily read from cover to cover. I didn’t want to tear my eyes away from the madness of Fran’s story for a single moment, lest I miss any of the action.

About the Book

Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life and a woman and a land in crisis and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget

book reviews · Bookish

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald (Review)

Happy Tuesday! Today I am on the tour for Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald, available from the 16th May in Paperback, Kindle and Audio-book editions. I received this book for free as part of the tour. More info after the jump. Please check out the other tour stops too!

Mary Shields is a menopausal, alcoholic, probation officer, who’s tired, fed up and ready to pack it in. She’s got a foul mouth and a bad attitude, but an obligation to help people due to her job. It appears Mary is not a bad person, but she does have a whole bunch of problems which results in things becoming chaotic to the detriment of those under her care/supervision.

The book doesn’t focus on Mary’s alcoholism, and this isn’t made super crystal clear during the book, in my opinion, but the presence of alcohol is firmly there and Mary clearly has quite a relationship with it. There’s no obvious sneaky flask, or vodka in water bottles, it’s more nuanced than that. I quite appreciated that. Many people have issues but they’re not always glaringly obvious or displayed in the usual means.

Mary has a tricky new charge to deal with – Liam Macdowall; murderer of his wife, author of the book “Cuck”, filled with letters to his dead wife and now hailed a hero and poster boy for mens rights activists with an ego far too large for his former prison cell.

Mary has a son, and he seems far more level headed than her. Macdowall has a daughter named Holly. The two of them become friends and Mary is really unhappy about the situation, but it appears the pair of them have far better wits about them than their parents do. Liam is bad at following the rules of his life license. Mary is bad at managing Liam. Perhaps things would be different if she wasn’t so self absorbed.

Worst Case Scenario is pretty funny, tense at times and a whirlwind of chaos. Mary just seems to break things more and more. I really enjoyed her character despite her serious issues. I was looking forward to seeing where her smart-mouth would land her! I’m honestly unsure how I feel about the ending though. I wanted more. What next? But not all books have happy endings and everything wrapped up neatly in a bow. This book is one of them. You – the reader, can come up with your own theories and ideas about what happens next. I feel like this book would be a good book-club read as there are many points for readers to discuss. Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. Mary and her dark humour were quite entertaining!

About the Book

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

About the Author

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of Dead Lovely (2007) and nine other adult and young adult thrillers, including My Last Confession (2009), The Donor (2011) and most recently The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Helen has worked as a criminal justice social worker for over ten years. She is one of thirteen children and grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband and two children.