In a desperate bid to reduce the books that are collecting dust on my TBR shelves, I have decided to collaborate with another avid reader and fellow book reviewer, Nicole from Certified Book Addicts. The #20BACKLISTIN2020 challenge is a self paced challenge hosted by Jaylamm.Reads, Reading and Sunshine, and Cassidys.Bookshelf. The overall goal of this challenge is to read 20 titles from the backlist books that are currently sitting on your TBR pile. For this challenge I will be reading non review books and taking my selections directly from my chock-a-block TBR bookcases (there are two shelved back to back). I will be publishing my reviews of these books on my blog and social media sites on the first and third Tuesday of the month.
Book #6 in the #20BACKLISTIN2020 challenge
Estimated TBR Shelf Life: 2 years
Bridget Jones meets Thelma and Louise in this fresh and very funny romantic comedy, as one woman finds the answers she needs (plus a little love) on a trip into the stunning Australian desert.
Take a hilarious road trip into the Australian outback in this witty romantic comedy, with an enticing family mystery thrown in!
When Amber Jones wakes up in her sister Sage’s speeding car, with no idea how she got there (though the hangover is a clue), all she wants to do is go home. But Sage is convinced a road trip to Alice Springs will finally answer the burning question: who is Amber’s father? Because nine months before Amber’s birth, her late mother Goldie made the same trip . . .
Armed with just a name and Goldie’s diaries, Amber agrees to search for a man she’s never met in one of the world’s biggest deserts.
And that means spending two weeks in a convoy of four-wheel-driving tourists and camping in freezing desert nights. To make matters worse, her fellow travellers hate her and the handsome tour leader Tom thinks she’s an alcoholic.
But slowly the desert starts to reveal its secrets – and Amber must decide which horizon to follow . . .
The vibrant Australian outback comes to life via a road trip with a difference for Amber, Janette Paul’s lead protagonist in her 2017 Penguin Random House publication, Amber and Alice. Funny, light, life affirming and full of eclectic characters, Amber and Alice is a family drama, with just a touch of romance.
Taking a step back from her crime and thriller titles, which are penned under the name of Jaye Ford, Janette Paul presents a different style of novel in Amber and Alice. A romantic comedy, a life lit title, a family drama, along with a road trip adventure defines Amber and Alice. The story revolves around Amber Jones, a woman who wakes up in a strange set of circumstances when her sister Sage hijacks her and takes her on a road trip to Alice Springs. On this fateful road trip, Sage hopes to help her sister finally uncover the identity of her father. In undertaking this journey, the sisters travel in the same footsteps their mother took before Amber’s birth. With only a few trace clues to help guide her, Amber’s quest to find her father proves to be quite a challenge. In making her way to destination Alice Springs, Amber follows a colourful crew of fellow travellers, tourists, and campers. Along the way Amber makes friends, foes and a possible love interest in her quest to find her father.
I really admire authors such as Janette Paul, who are able to switch genres. In Amber and Alice we see Janette Paul successfully move from suspenseful crime thrillers to a romantic comedy title. It is a bold act, but it works in this instance. Amber and Alice is audience pleaser. It has a summer read vibe, making it the perfect choice perfect for some relaxing poolside, or beach time reading.
Amber and Alice introduces two sisters, who are poles apart. Sage is the crazy, spontaneous and annoying sister of the two. Unfortunately I didn’t warm to Sage at all. Amber is much more grounded, but she has some mysteries about her life, as well as some uncertainties that she unlocks as the book progresses. There are a few side characters that appear in this novel and Paul ensures that they all are interesting, along with well presented. We get also get a very good glimpse into the travelling world, with the book featuring a good bunch of seasoned campers, tourists and backpackers. We also meet a charming tour leader, who provides a serve of romance for our heroine.
Not only is Amber and Alice a fun filled road trip it is also a family drama. Paul explores sibling relationships, parental tensions, family politics, secrets and birthright within her novel. Paul’s novel leans towards light touch rather than emotionally heart wrenching and after quite an eventful journey, a satisfying conclusion is reached.
Extra points go to Paul for her landscape descriptions. Amber and Alice truly is a beautiful ode to NSW, SA and the NT. There is a strong outback feel to this novel that I enjoyed. I loved the references to the towns I would just love to visit one day, if only I had the time and money I would be compiling my travel itinerary to these stunning parts of Australia, ASAP!
Take an eventful trip with Amber Jones and company as she negotiates a cross country adventure filled with friendship, love, spectacular scenery, positivity, disclosures, semblance and understanding. Amber and Alice is feel good Australian infused contemporary fiction.
*** 3.5 stars
Amber to Alice by Janette Paul was published on 29th May 2017 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Amber to Alice, Janette Paul, visit here.
Amber and Alice is book #27 of the 2020 Australian Women Writers Challenge