Friday, 24 June 2016

Book Review: What Is Left Over, After by Natasha Lester

Why I read this: I wanted to read Natasha Lester's back catalogue

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


In a Nutshell: Themes of loss


Would suit fans ofSally Hepworth


What Is Left Over, AfterWhat Is Left Over, After by Natasha Lester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of book you finish with a tingling sensation, a tear and a deep breath. Phew, got to the end. And I don't mean that in a bad way, it is just that the subject matter of this is HARD, but an important story to tell about an often taboo topic.
As the book opens Gaelle is very difficult to like, but as the story unravels and we discover more of her past, (her immediate past and her childhood), we join Gaelle on a journey of self discovery and forgiveness.
I received a copy of A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald from Netgalley for review and decided to start with Lester's previous books first. Mainly because a friend recommended her books to me, and I do love finding new and interesting Australian books to read. I particularly love going back to read an author's debut novel, and I can see why she won an Award for this novel and received a publishing contract. I can't wait to start If I Should Lose You next to see how she has developed her style.

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Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Why I read this: I quite like Kate Morton and someone gave this to me to read quite a while ago!

Genre: Historical Fiction


In a Nutshell: 1941 London and then 50 years later


Would suit fans of: Elizabeth Wein, Anthony Doerr 


The Distant HoursThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate Morton's style of historical fiction that flips back and forth between two time periods is back, but this novel is slightly different from her other books as it focuses on the gothic castle of Milderhurst.
With nods to other gothic tales like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Rebecca this story is all about the old and tragic events that occurred many decades earlier at the now crumbling, but not quite ruined, castle and its inhabitants.

I can see why there are quite a few poor reviews for this book, because it is true that it is slow and probably a hundred pages could have been removed. But I did enjoy the descriptions of the castle and its surrounds, and the sisters who are so tied to it.
It is a sad and haunting tale and the audio narration did it justice.
3.5 stars

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Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Why I read this: It has been on my radar for a long time, but the volume of the book, and the Romance tags put me off. It was chosen as a Book of the Month with Nothing But Reading Challenges so I decided it was time to try it.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Sci-Fi


In a Nutshell: Lots of violence and scenes of torture. Very small amount of Sci-Fi (time travel concept), mostly Romance in an otherwise historical fiction novel.


Would suit fans of: I don't even know! Sweeping sagas like The Thorn Birds


Outlander (Outlander, #1)Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Good
Gabaldon's writing style is very episodic making the book a fast read despite the fact that it is HUGE (12 hours reading time according to my kindle and the audio is about 33 hours). It also makes it easy to see how this would be suited to a TV series. The historical fiction aspect was also interesting, throwing us into 1743 Scotland. The start of the book really reminded me of Deborah Harkness, although (as you're about to find out) I think Harkness is a far better author.

The Bad
I didn't care for the relationship AT ALL between Claire and Jamie from about 43% and "that" scene. It only got worse from there in terms of the power dynamic and I just can't abide by relationships where the male completely dominates. There are just far too many examples in literature of heroines that are meant to be strong and smart just letting themselves being trampled upon by their partner.
I also really struggled with how Claire could just forget her husband in the current day within about 2 weeks (view spoiler)

The Ugly
And boy is it ugly. The unnecessary consistent violence, particularly the sexual violence just didn't work for me. By the end of the book I was comparing Claire and Jamie in my mind to those crazy sadist murderous couples you see on true crime shows every so often.

So although I'm glad I managed to get to the end, now I can move on and never read a Gabaldon book again. 

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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Book Review: Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

Why I read this: A free download from Audiobooksync and I liked the synopsis

Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi


In a Nutshell: Dystopian without a love triangle


Would suit fans ofGrace McCleen, Patrick Ness


Vivian Apple at the End of the World (Vivian Apple, #1)Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the best kind of Young Adult book because it is asking readers to question the world around you, appreciate and cherish your friendships and be confident and true to yourself.

Vivian Apple lives in an alternative America where there are constant natural disasters and disease and the world is dying. Along comes a new religion, "The Church of America" which convinces people the Rapture is coming and will save them. Vivian doesn't belive, but her parents do, and on the night of the Rapture her parents and thousands of other believers disappear.

Although Vivian starts as meek and compliant, as the book progresses her character develops and she becomes a confident heroine who is easy to like. Her and her friend Harp, and later Peter, embark on a road trip across America trying to decide what is true. Is the world really dying in a few months? Should they have believed in "The Church of America"?

There is no love triangle and no whiny teenage monologues which already catapaults this above three stars for me. I really liked the theme of the book too, which really isn't about religion, per se, but about how and why we believe in things.

I was surprised to see when I finished that there is a sequel, because it could have ended with this book (although there is a little bit of a cliff-hanger ending which may have annoyed some!), and I will seek it out.

The audio narration is extremely good, thanks to www.audiobooksync.com for providing a free copy.

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Monday, 6 June 2016

Monthly Picks: My favourite books from May 2016

Here are my top books from May
Photo via Visual Hunt

1.You Were Here. This was the stand out of the month for me. I loved the different points of view and the use of graphics in the book to tell a story. My Review

2. Orphan #8. A close second, this was a very good debut historical fiction novel about a little known time in US history. My Review.

3.Maggot Moon. This was an unexpected charmer. You won't find it topping best seller lists, but that is also what I enjoyed about it. My Review.

4. Trapped. You can start the series with Book 1, Hounded . A great Urban Fantasy series. My Review.

5.Earthly Delights: A Corinna Chapman Mystery . A cozy mystery set in Melbourne with some great characters. My Review.

6.Why Does E=mc2?: (And Why Should We Care?). Not a token non-fiction book for the list, this one was really fascinating! And we all love Prof. Brian Cox :) My Review.

7. The Royal Ranger. You can start this lovely Middle Grade --> Young Adult series with this book. The Ruins of Gorlan: Book 1 (Ranger's Apprentice). My Review.


These are genuinely my favourite books that I read in May 2016.  This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the book links and purchase, I’ll receive a few cents from Amazon. Cheers!

Book Review: Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Why I read this: A free download from Audiobooksync and worked for a reading challenge (Perks BINGO)

Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult


In a Nutshell: Russian folklore, fairytale


Would suit fans of: Alex Flinn


Egg & SpoonEgg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maguire is best known for Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West which I haven't read, but I was unlucky enough to read Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister for a bookclub which was just awful.

I give you this as an insight to my frame of mind starting this book! So why did I? Well, it was a free download from www.audiobooksync.com and I needed a book with a tree on the cover for a reading challenge. I know, pathetic. haha.

I also adore Russian folklore, and I'm generally interested in Russia and Russian history, plus the audiobook narrator is the amazing Michael Page (from the Gentlemen Bastard series), so there were a few positives there. And to start, I did really enjoy this book. It was a little bit The Prince and the Pauper mixed in with Baba Yaga and quite a bit of humour. Despite this being a big fairytale, it is not a children's story. I think it is fine for a YA audience, and works just as well for adults who may pick up on a few more of the nuances.

Unfortunately, the book is just far too long. At one point towards the end the MC refers to this "never ending journey" and I have to say, that is how I felt. At least 3 hours of the audio was tedious, so that is about 100 pages that should have been edited out. And what a shame that is, because it could have been a really great book.

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

UNO Team Challenge Completed

Today we wrapped up the three month long UNO reading challenge at Perks of Being a Book Addict.

My team completed all of our cards and all the mini challenges, but didn't have the points to win. We came in 4th which is just amazing! Like all card games there is an element of luck, so the teams that read the same as us, but had cards dealt worth more points, were able to get away in front and beat us by points. Oh well! We had fun and over the three months I read 51 books!

So UNO is away for another year and this month NBRC starts the WOBBLE team challenge which I am sticking to the sidelines for. 
I need a bit of a break, and I'm looking forward to "just" being a mod for the challenge and not a player or a captain. After Tower Teams and UNO I've had my fill of spreadsheets for a little while ;)



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