What we’re reading: Hall, Thorne & Welsh

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


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Gabrielle Williams is reading The Gaps by Leanne Hall

I’m reading The Gaps by Leanne Hall. Full disclosure, Leanne is a friend and a work colleague so of course you’d expect me to say great things about her book! But I love The Gaps for all kinds of reasons, none of which are to do with our friendship.

The writing is superb, the characterisation is fantastic, and the tension is high. It follows two girls whose classmate has been abducted by a serial offender. Her disappearance has the entire city on high alert, with constant news reports, social media and blogs going into hyper-drive, but the ripple effects of the crime on her classmates are compelling and unexpected. This feels like a very timely book, with #metoo calling Canberra to account at the moment, as well as the awful stories about the casual sexual assault of school girls throughout Australia. Categorised as Young Adult, The Gaps feels like an important read for everyone who cares about women’s safety. Excellent!


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Lian Hingee is reading Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne.

Thanks to our lovely Head Book Buyer I was able to get my mitts on and early copy of Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne, whose debut The Hating Game has been credited with injecting much needed life into the flagging rom-com genre. The Hating Game was one of my favourite reads of 2017, and while Thorne’s sophomore novel 99% Mine didn’t do much for me I was still excited to dip into this new novel.

Set in a retirement home of all places, Second First Impressions is the story of Ruthie, a young woman burdened with an overabundant sense of responsibility, some crippling social anxiety, and a wardrobe full of thrift-shop cardigans (so a girl after my own heart really). Ruthie’s been left in charge at the Providence Retirement Village, and her duties include finding a new assistant for the notoriously troublesome sisters Renata and Aggie. Enter Teddy Prescott, the dreamy, tattooed son of Providence’s new owner. Listless, jobless, homeless, and easy on the eye Teddy is the perfect victim, er candidate for the role.

Full of warm humour and plenty of heart, Second First Impressions is a slow burn for those who like their romances full of longing glances and unacted-on impulses. Thorne has done a lovely job of filling this book with some terrific peripheral characters: Renata and Aggie are mischievous delights that I would love to meet IRL, and Ruthie’s second-in-command Melanie needs a book of her own thanks.

This is a gentle and whimsical read that doesn’t quite manage to capture lightning-in-a-bottle the way The Hating Game did, but is still a solid and enjoyable addition to the genre.


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Tye Cattanch is continuing her deep-dive into Scottish literature and film

Meanwhile, deep from within my Scottish cultural rabbit hole…the past week saw me viewing not one but two movies on the ‘must watch Scottish films’ list. I began with Young Adam, a 2003 film starring Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton based on the 1954 novel by Scottish author Alexander Trocchi. Described as an ‘erotic drama’ the film opens with a very young Ewan McGregor gazing at a dead body in the water and quickly escalates from there. This is a hard one to talk about without spoilers, so I will keep my comments brief. Bleak. Brilliantly acted. Wasn’t expecting to see so much of the boaby. Could be a wonderful travel advertisement for Scotland, were it not so depressing.

On to something I hoped would be less depressing, Local Hero. Described as a hilarious Scottish comedy film, I was hopeful. Also, the soundtrack by Mark Knopfler, (who isn’t familiar with the soaring epic track Going Home?), so I was excited. Again, trying to avoid spoilers…WHAT WAS THAT ENDING???

Nothing for it I guess, but to get on with reading The Cutting Room by Louise Welsh. Published by Canongate in 2002, Welsh won many prestigious awards for her stunning debut novel. And rightly so. Brilliantly imagined characters, gorgeous depictions of Glasgow, truly original plot line. I LOVED it. But here is what I am starting to learn about our Scottish friends… they don’t enjoy a happy ending, at least not that I’ve seen. As long as the lead up to the never-happily-ever-after is beautifully written, or filmed, or set to stirring emotive music and portrays lady Scotland in all her glory, they are okay with that. And honestly? So am I.

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The Gaps

The Gaps

Leanne Hall

$19.99Buy now

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