From life in an American funeral home to the relaxing waters north of Broome, books have taken me on quite a journey this summer. I’ve enjoyed swapping the hustle and bustle of the school holidays for some much-needed down time between the covers of some great reads. Kate Mayfield’s memoir The Undertaker’s Daughter recounts her time growing up in Jubilee, Kentucky and the steady influx of the deceased and those who mourned them. It’s a surprisingly gentle account and written with a strong and absorbing Southern voice. Highly enjoyable.

Jennifer Weiner’s All Fall Down is a race from start to finish, the inside scoop on Allison Weiss and her supposedly perfect life. We soon learn that Allison gets through the days aided by ‘mother’s little helpers’ – pick-me-ups that assist with her fast-paced, adrenalin-filled schedule. When Allison’s world comes crashing down, she has no choice but to sit back and let her family take over. Recovery is impossible without this leap of faith and Allison doesn’t believe it’s possible without her front and centre. Not a very relaxing read (Allison’s pre-fall schedule is exhausting!), but a timely warning about doing too much as we begin a new year.

Australian Kylie Ladd’s Mothers and Daughters picks up where All Fall Down leaves off: what happens once our children become teenagers and forging identities of their own? And what does that mean for their parents? When four mothers and four teenage girls holiday in the north with limited access to technology, tensions arise. The blissful, holiday brochure accommodation the travellers conjured in their imaginations doesn’t match the scenery. Meanwhile the friendships they’ve held so dearly look to be falling apart at the seams. An engaging and entertaining read.

Have you read any good books lately? What should I seek out in 2015? I’m doing Pip Lincolne’s A Year of Australian Writing and plan to read as much homegrown talent as possible. I can’t give up my international reads though, so it’s going to be a busy time!

PS Picmonkey collage using images as follows: The Undertaker’s DaughterAll Fall Down, Mothers and Daughters.