Book Review

Ash Mountain – Helen Fitzgerald

Today I am joining the blog tour for the brilliant Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald. Many thanks to Helen, Orenda Books, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Blog Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of 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…


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Ash Mountain Cover Image


From reading the blurb, I had assumed that Ash Mountain would be a family saga type novel, with secrets being revealed, rifts being healed, and the bushfire providing a little bit of background drama to it all. I was right in part, but my goodness was I wrong about the fire. It is almost a character in its own right as it advances on the town, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

Ash Mountain flits back and forth between the day of the fire, the days leading to the fire, and events thirty years previously, as we get to know Fran and her dysfunctional family. Everything about their stories and experiences feels very raw as they come to terms with their new lives, and, for Fran at least, the memories that returning to Ash Mountain stirs up. This human story on its own would be enough to keep me gripped by this book, as Helen creates a community of strong, relatable characters.

Like many other people, I watched the news of the recent bushfires in Australia, and I thought I had an understanding of what it was like over there, but this book brings the reality to life in ways that no news story did. Helen Fitzgerald captures the raw terror caused by an unstoppable, deadly fire in a way that caused an almost visceral reaction in me. It was painful to read about the utter destruction of lives, homes, wildlife, as the fire rips through the area.

In Ash Mountain, Helen Fitzgerald captures something that would previously have been unimaginable for people who haven’t lived through it and makes it real. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.


Helen Fitzgerald Author PicHelen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Her 2019 dark comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in both The Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband.



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Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information about the book.

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Book Review

Seventeen – Suzanne Lowe

Today’s blog tour is for a dystopian tale that feels scarily possible, in the shape of Seventeen by Suzanne Lowe. Many thanks to Suzanne, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part, and for providing me with a copy of the book.


Imagine a world where everything you grew up with is gone. No adults, no internet, no rules.

The world is facing the deadliest virus ever known.

When the KV17 virus kills everyone above the age of seventeen, life becomes a battle of survival for the children left behind. Seeking to escape the escalating violence in the city, two sisters, Lexi and Hadley flee to the Australian outback. Finding sanctuary in the small town of Jasper’s Bay, they soon realise it is far from safe, as a gang of lawless teenagers terrorise the town.

Caught in a bitter feud leading to betrayal, deceit and murder, the girls must quickly uncover who their enemies are, and who they can trust.

In a world drastically changed from everything they once knew; can the sisters and children of Jasper’s Bay learn to adapt? Can they maintain control of their town, and protect it from those who would destroy it?



As a fan of dystopian fiction, I found this book to be a refreshing change from the norm. Instead of throwing you straight into an already broken world, in a place out of time, Suzanne Lowe has taken a familiar time and place and shown just how quickly society can crumble. This, for me, made Seventeen feel scarily close to home, and in the times we are currently living, not outside the realms of possibility.

The unbelievable cruelty displayed by town kids, a ruthless group of teenagers, took me back to my school days of reading Lord of the Flies, and left me wondering just how much worse things would get before (or if) they started to improve. In contrast to this though, the resilience and kindness of the Jasper’s Bay kids did leave me with some hope.

I thought Suzanne’s decision to set Seventeen in the Australian Outback was absolutely inspired. Jasper’s Bay is a place so remote from the rest of the world that the failure of technology means it is totally cut off in a way that a town in Europe would not be. The harsh landscape and climate of Western Australia just adds to the challenges face by the kids in their fight to survive.

I am very much looking forward to reading book two in this series, and I am so glad that I don’t have to wait too much longer for it.


Seventeen Suzanne LoweSuzanne was born in Perth Western Australia and as a young adult grew up in the small country town of Tom Price situated in the outback of Western Australia. Her current home is in Perth with her husband, two daughters and cat Abby. ​

Suzanne has a Bachelor of Science Degree, majoring in Sports Science. Her interests include watching movies, particularly sci- fi, travelling, photography and reading. She also enjoys going to the occasional comic book convention!

Like the young women in her stories, Suzanne has had the opportunity to experience many exciting adventures in her life so far including being part of the Australian Army Reserves, climbing to Mt Everest base camp, descending into one of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt, flying in a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, parachuting from a plane at 12000 feet in York and sitting on the edge of an active volcano on Tanna island in Vanuatu.

Suzanne is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Australian Society of Authors.

Her published works include;

Seventeen, Book One in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia. Winner of the New Apple E-book awards in YA horror and Sci-Fi

Rage, Book Two in the Seventeen Series. A YA dystopian adventure story set in Australia. Available August 2019

The Pirate Princess and the Golden Locket, a pirate adventure story for middle grade children






Don’t forget to pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for this book.

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