Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review: Black Rock White City by A.S. Patric

Black Rock White CityBlack Rock White City by A.S. Patric
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jovan and his wife Suzana fled Bosnia and sought refuge in Australia. Both previously literature professors at University, he is now a cleaner at a hospital and she is a cleaner for a private home.
As this story progresses we slowly receive more and more information as to their past and what they have fled. Overlaying this is the mystery surrounding Jovan's workplace where someone has been leaving graffiti throughout the hospital with strange words and small poems, and the graffiti slowly escalates to murder.
Language is a key theme in this book. The things we say, and don't say. The way that Jovan can think and feel poetically, but his grasp of the English language means that he is unable to convey these thoughts. The graffiti using words as weapons. Suzana's direct and sometimes hurtful and brutal honesty.
This is not an easy read and the use of short sentences that are not descriptive can make the reading sometimes jarring as the reader attempts to catch up with what just happened. However, there is a kind of strange beauty in the writing style and is worth the effort of reading.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Book review: The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, #2)The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eeek! Another cliffhanger ending. I am absolutely loving this series though. It is one of the best YA Fantasy series I have read for quite some time. I think because the world is really fascinating with some great characters who Pullman isn't afraid to kill off. I'm not sure about the right age range for the books though as although the MC is 11, I'm not sure that and average 11 year old should be reading these as there is a fair bit of violence, and even some sexual innuendo in this book!
Another great full cast audio narration which really brings the book to life and is highly recommended.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Book Review: The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley

The Birdman's WifeThe Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Starting in the early 1800s, this book is told in first person by Elizabeth as she meets and marries John Gould who becomes a famous ornithologist during a period of intense public interest in exotic birds. Elizabeth is an amateur artist who finds herself encouraged (somewhat pushed) by her husband into drawings of bird species while also giving birth to 8 children and joining him on a 2 year trip to Australia! This was not usual for a woman of the time, and so the author became fascinated with Elizabeth and clearly did an amazing amount of research not just into the Gould's, but also their professions. While I admire her research and devotion to brining Elizabeth's story to the world, I found it a very slow book and the descriptions of the birds and the drawing techniques became very tiresome to me. I would have much preferred more images of Elizabeth's work and less descriptions.
I would recommend this book to historical fiction fans who would like to learn more about a woman who has been somewhat forgotten in the shadow of her husband, and who don't mind a slow paced book with lots of details.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Monday, 26 September 2016

Book Review: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman

Northern Lights (His Dark Materials, #1)Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fabulous children's / YA Fantasy novel. I loved the characters and the world, especially the idea that humans have daemons in a mutual symbiotic relationship. Although there was a cliffhanger ending which is my least favourite kind, I felt like there was a lot explored in the novel. There are still plenty of questions to be answered and I'm going to jump straight into book 2.
I listened to the audio version which was fantastic. The author narrates the actual narration and all the characters are voiced by different actors. The full cast just brings this to life like a play (albeit a long play at 10 hours for the audio!)

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Sunday, 25 September 2016

Book Review: Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich

Curious Minds (Knight and Moon, #1)Curious Minds by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I started reading this, I decided that the authors had decided to make a parody of a Thriller, because surely such experienced and well known writers wouldn't write something like this seriously. Would they?
As a parody it is lots of fun. There are the evil henchmen that can't die, the evil family plot to take over the world (bwaaa-haaa-haaa), "top secret government installations", and amateur detectives who figure everything out and are the only ones who can save us from "the new world order".

So for a book I could laugh with (or is that at?) I gave it 3 stars. If you are after an actual thriller, then you may be best to move on.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Saturday, 24 September 2016

Book Review: The Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

The Girl in the Blue CoatThe Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hanneke is 19 and living in Netherlands during the German occupation in 1943. She finds and sells black market goods, but isn't interested in joining the resistance until chance and circumstance lead her to a meeting of other teens who are risking their lives in the resistance. At the same time she becomes borderline obsessed with finding a young Jewish girl whom she has never met, but who disappeared.
I found the historical aspect interesting, but it didn't really offer anything new that I haven't read before in other WWII books. I also found Hanneke quite frustrating and it was not really clear or really believable to me why she would take such a sudden interest into the disappearance of someone she had never met.
Possibly a book better suited to teens who don't know much about WWII and would like to explore some of the stories based upon real events.

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Friday, 23 September 2016

Book Review: The Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne

The Purloined PoodleThe Purloined Poodle by Kevin Hearne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a nice novella told from Oberon's point of view which means it contains a lot of references to food (especially sausages) and sniffing other dogs behinds! It was a short mystery that he and Atticus set out to solve and a good edition to the series.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Book review: A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt

A Deadly AffectionA Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

New York, 1907 and Genevieve is lucky enough to have the means, and progressive parents, that enable her to come a Doctor. Specifically, a psychiatrist who is trialling out a new form of therapy which we now know as cognitive therapy. When one of her patients is accused of murder, she is convinced of her innocence and so tries to track down the real killer.
I liked the time period and the writing, and most of the characters were well developed. I didn't really warm to Genevieve though, and I found some of her actions quite frustrating. Also, the mystery became a little comical in how convoluted it was, and even despite this it wasn't too hard to guess.
In summary, I thought this was a pretty good book and would suit Historical Fiction fans that don't mind a mystery, but I didn't really "love" it.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Book review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly Madly GuiltyTruly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moriarty is one of the best writers of character driven novels I have come across. Each of her books has taken me on a journey through the lives of some wonderful and interesting characters, usually with a few laughs and tears along the way.
It was hard to stop reading this book. It is most like Big Little Lies in that there is a mystery to this book which keeps you turning the pages. It is not until well after half way through the book that we discover what happened at "the barbecue" and then, of course, I wanted to keep reading to know how it would all end!

Great read.

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Friday, 16 September 2016

Book review: Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch

Red Seas Under Red Skies (Gentleman Bastard, #2)Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The long con and double, triple crossing got a little tiresome for me in this book. Perhaps because I read this right after re-reading book 1 and so it just felt a bit much?
Regardless, the relationship between Locke and Jean is cemented even further and I love how this is being developed. The humour and wit was also wonderful.
I will be continuing the series, but I think I may just need a short break before delving back into this world!

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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Book Review: Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

Not My Father's Son: A MemoirNot My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I only know Alan Cumming from The Good Wife, but I'd heard such good things about this memoir, and I found it was narrated by the author which always appeals to me.
I did love his narration, which was in his natural Scottish accent, and full of emotion and power where required and gentle and subtle where not.
There were many components of this book that resonated with me, and I loved his bravery in his honesty and his ability to verbalise his thoughts and feelings. A wonderful read about a difficult period in someone's life.

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Monday, 12 September 2016

Book Review: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary CanalGulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mary Roach simply owns this space of "highly accessible non-fiction about taboo-ish 'sciency' subjects told in plain English in an engaging and humorous way". It is quite a genre to own ;)

This is my second book of hers (the first I read was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers) and I just love them. I learn SO much and I find the subject matter endlessly fascinating. SO much more entertaining to read Roach's work than a bunch of textbooks and papers.

Can't wait to read another.

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Saturday, 10 September 2016

Book review: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting TimeThe Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was chosen for my book club, and I'll be honest and say I wasn't really looking forward to it based on the synopsis. It sounded a bit depressing and I don't do well with stories of children being harmed or in distress.
So, to my surprise, I actually ended up reading it quite quickly and rather enjoying it.
I liked that the book included excerpts from real cases of apparent "past lives", presumably the works that inspired the author. But this is not a spiritual novel, actually the discussion around reincarnation is clinical and 'factual'. It is more about the potential for things in this world we can't understand, and of course there was quite a mystery running through the book which kept the pace up and the pages turning.
I didn't really understand the need for some of the sub-plots, and even at the end I wondered about why it was necessary, but as a debut author I thought this was a very well written and intriguing bit of fiction.

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Friday, 9 September 2016

Book review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Harry Potter, #8)Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Unfortunately I can understand the poor and ambivalent reviews, and I have to say that having read this, I have no interest in seeing the play even if I was able to get tickets and make the journey! Five hours of this flimsy story? No thanks.

What I did like was Scorpius - great character as the son of Draco, and I liked being able to see Draco grown up as he was just a child in an impossible situation. I also liked that Harry has a son who doesn't enjoy Hogwarts and the impact that has on Harry. The first Act made me so happy to be back in HP world that I am still giving this three stars.

What I didn't like was that the characters weren't very well developed, and although I know this is a play, I've certainly read fantastic plays that have been able to convey character's thoughts and feelings and develop them appropriately. More so, I just didn't like the story. It was unoriginal and seemed like a cheap re-hash. I do wonder what JKR was thinking. There were also plot holes galore and the big 'reveal' just had me shake my head.

I've loved everything JKR has done until this point. I wish I had my own time turner to go back in time and stop her from ever agreeing to do this.

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