Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Book review: Faithful by Alice Hoffman

FaithfulFaithful by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"What is behind you is gone, what is in front of you awaits"
I loved this line from the book because it perfectly sums up the crux of this novel.
Shelby is involved in a terrible car accident as a teenager and shuts herself away from the world. We follow her over the next several years as she copes (or doesn't) with her guilt and anger and slowly reconnects with the world.
This is only my second Hoffman novel (the first being The Dovekeepers) and the novels couldn't be more different in topic, but also I found the writing of this book much more accessible and contemporary. I was surprised to find myself wanting to be friends with Shelby and really caring about her and not wanting to say goodbye at the end of the novel. And for anyone to be able to write characters like that is a real skill.
I recommend this to anyone that loves an easy to read contemporary fiction about life, love and family.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Book Review: Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood

Murder and Mendelssohn (Phryne Fisher, #20)Murder and Mendelssohn by Kerry Greenwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've really enjoyed reading Phryne's adventures over the last two years, and the audio narration by Stephanie Daniel is fantastic.
This is a standard Phryne book with lots of fun and further proof of her belief-stretching talents (including seducing a gay man!). I was disappointed that Lin Cho didn't make an appearance for this final novel. Perhaps Greenwood is keeping the door open on more additions to the series?...

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Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Book Review: The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

The Art of Keeping SecretsThe Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book follows the lives of three friends as they share some huge secrets that have made an impact on their lives.
I really enjoyed the characterisations and I thought they were all likeable and believable. It was also a story with a few surprises, tears and laughs.
On the flip side, I found the prose and the dialogue a little superfluous and a proper edit would have taken this from a good book to a great one that could sit along side other fabulous contemporary Australian authors such as Liane Moriarty.
For example, a character drives to a church and we are told "when they arrived...(she) slipped the car keys into her clutch bag and walked over to join Zoe, Seb...." The keys going into her bag and her walking over to these characters adds nothing to the story. I probably wouldn't notice this once or twice, but it was continual through the book that we are given step-by-step and it just isn't needed. Also, some of the dialogue "your daughters will be happy to have you closer to come again too, especially Hannah who will also be here". or "Would you like me to run you a bath and pour you a glass of wine" That just isn't how someone would actually speak in a casual setting. This may seem like I'm being picky, but it did bug me through the book as I think there is so much potential here.
Having said all of that, I did enjoy it and would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My favourite part of this book was the concept that the Fae can live alongside us mere mortals in "every day" life, but not necessarily in a peaceful way.
The characters were generally easy to like and accept, but not overly developed. I also felt that there were many conveniences taken with the story to move it along which resulted in a few plot holes, but it was still an enjoyable read.
3.5 stars

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Sunday, 6 November 2016

Book Review: Sheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes

Sheltering RainSheltering Rain by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Jojo Moyes is one of the best writers I have come across when it comes to character driven fiction. I had delayed reading her earlier work for fear that it may not be as good as all of her other books that I've read, but there was really no need. This lady has talent and clearly has continued to hone it over time, but these earlier works are just as good.
This is a story about family, secrets, assumptions and love. Although I didn't really connect with the mother, Kate, I still found her character believable and at the end of the book I was really sad to say goodbye to everyone.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

Book Review: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other EinsteinThe Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I find this a very difficult book to rate because of the creative license the author has taken when it comes to historical accuracies. I understand this is fiction, but I do still feel that when a historical fiction book is about a real figure, there is an onus on the author to portray that person and the facts as close to the truth as possible. The portrayal of Albert Einstein as a selfish, dismissive, and increasingly cruel husband surprised me. Upon reading the Author's Notes at the end, and other article's on Albert's character, I'm not sure how true to life his character is. Also the role of his wife, for which this book centres around, makes claims that are generally thought of as untrue in regards to her role with Albert's work.
The book was well written, and I appreciate the author's research, but for me, I would have preferred the narrative to be more focussed on Mileva rather than the relationship between her and her husband, and for there to be a little more truth than fiction to the characters and their actions.

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



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Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Book Review: The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall

The Woman Before Me (Cate Austin, #1)The Woman Before Me by Ruth Dugdall
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found this an uncomfortable read. In many ways because it is not easy to read about the death of babies, but also because the main character was so unlikeable. Reminiscent of Gone Girl, The Good Girl and The Girl on the Train, she was just a little too unhinged to ever really feel any interest in her story.
Considering this is meant to the the first book in the "Cate Austin" series, we really learn very little about Cate and I didn't feel her character was well developed.
Add into this a scene where a female gets drunk at a party, goes back to her male colleagues' house to "sleep it off" where he tries to have sex with her despite her repeated drunken attempts to remove him and say "no"... and this was never accepted as attempted rape, but just another funny story about how the new girl in the office was 'easy', led someone on, and embarrassed him. Made me sick actually and the book loses a star for that.

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Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Book Review: When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was OursWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

McLemore writes magical realism very well. Her first novel, The Weight of Feathers took me a little while to get used to and then I loved it. This book I found did the opposite. I fell in love from the start, and then it slowed down considerably and I would have liked to see a braver edit to keep a more steady, albeit still relatively slow, pace.
The author explains in her Author's Note that her husband is transgender and this, along with her interest in bacha posh (a cultural practice in parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan in which families who only have daughters dress one as a boy in order to be the "son" of the family) became the inspiration for this story about a girl called Miel who appeared out of the water on day with roses growing from her arm, and Sam the boy who has secrets he wants to keep.
It is a Young Adult book so there was a bit of teen angst, and beyond the magical realism there was also the "mean girls" story with a group of four perfect sisters who want to ruin what Miel and Sam have.
I would recommend to anyone who enjoys magical realism or stories about identity and truth. I look forward to the next novel the author releases.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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