Sunday, 31 July 2016

Book Review: Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Dear ThingDear Thing by Julie Cohen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm sure from the synopsis you can already see this is going to be a difficult book. Ben and Claire have been trying for six years to have a baby and every attempt and intervention has failed. Although we aren't there for this emotional roller-coaster, we get given a great insight into the aftermath on their emotional well-being and relationship. It is, naturally, heart breaking.
Romily is Ben's best friend since College and one drunken evening declares she will be their surrogate, using her egg and Ben's sperm.

I found this book so hard to put down because I was so intrigued and curious as to how Cohen would be able to manage this seemingly impossible situation. I loved the characters and felt for all of them, and just like The Day Of Second Chances I was swept into their lives.

The ending wasn't quite satisying, and I still had a lot of questions about what happens next, but I also don't know how this kind of story could be ended in another way.

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

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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Book Review: The French Lesson (The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot #2) by Hallie Rubenhold

The French Lesson (The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot #2)The French Lesson by Hallie Rubenhold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Henrietta Lightfoot is living as a mistress to the wealthy Lord Allenham when he is required to go to Paris and she, despite his instruction, decides to follow him soonafter. This coincides with the timing of the French Revolution and Henrietta finds herself at the mercy of strangers to have shelter, food and safety.
Told through first person POV of Henrietta via letters, we experience the life of a "professional mistress" in a time of great upheaval. It is not often I come across historical fiction of this period, let alone from the persective of someone on the fringes of "good society".
I hadn't read the first book, and I didn't feel like that was an issue as Henrietta does refer to previous events, although it would have been nice to have that background of her relationship with Allenham.

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

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Friday, 29 July 2016

Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Junior narrates this tale, which is his story of a period of time in his teens. Not unlike the premise of many other YA books, except this one has a Native American living on a reservation who takes the opportunity to go to school "off-res" and then faces backlash from those on the Res and discrimination at his new school.
I found this a very odd book, but also quite humorous. There were a number of times I laughed out loud, and by the end I did feel like I really connected with Junior.

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author, which I always love, and it did take me a little while to become accustomed to his voice as he has a slight lisp, but once the character's background is explained (loosely based on the author apparently) it just adds to the story.

3.5 stars

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Book review: Quick by Steve Worland

QuickQuick by Steve Worland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Steve Worland is predominantly a screenwriter, and that is clearly evident by reading this book. From the start it is full of action and adventure and reads like a movie playing in front of your eyes.

I read that one of Worland's goals is to get more men, and boys, reading and therefore he appeals to their sense of adventure. He is happy to be seen as "another" Matthew Reilly and wants to write blokey adventure stories with an Australian hero.

He definitely hits his goals with this book. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it, and quickly told my husband he needs to read it too!

I won the audiobook from Bolinda (thank you), and the narrator was good, but not great. A few little things, like he has an American accent which is a little off-putting with a story that has an Australian main character, and initially is based in Australia. He can't do an Australian accent and his attempts at European accents (French, German, Russian) all sounded like a strange Russian to me. I found it such a shame that for an author who really wanted to have an Australian hero, the audio narrator was not Australian.
And while I'm on the nationalistic theme, there were just a few things that the MC said that are American-isms. I know that Worland works in the US and he probably doesn't even realise he did it, but his editor should have. Especially when the MC is meant to have never left Australia before (they called his annual leave "vacation time" and McDonalds "Mickey Dees" which Australians call "Maccas"). I know they are only small things, but they always stick out at me as an indication of the quality of the writing and editing.

Anyhow, don't let that stop you. Go and read this book! :)

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Thursday, 14 July 2016

Book Review: The Lake House by Kate Morton

Why I read this: My Sister-in-law lent this to me a while ago and it has been on my bookshelf mocking me.

Genre: Historical Fiction

In a Nutshell: 
Family Saga, Mystery

Would suit fans ofDiane SetterfieldPhillipa Gregory

The Lake HouseThe Lake House by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is Kate Morton at her finest.
An intricate mystery, gorgeous country estate, characters that resonate and are easy to believe in.

Despite the large size of this book, I found it so easy to read and I became so impatient to get to the end to find out what happened! Although the ending was probably a little too tidy for my taste, I did thoroughly enjoy the book and I can see why so many people were disappointed in The Distant Hours which didn't quite have the pacing or suspense of this novel.

Also, the audio narration is fantastic.

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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Book Review: Infomocracy by Malka Ann Older

Why I read this: Requested it from NetGalley... yes probably because of the pretty cover

Genre: Sci-Fi

In a Nutshell: 
Political saga, futuristic

Would suit fans of: I won't suggest any as I'm not a big Sci-Fi reader

InfomocracyInfomocracy by Malka Ann Older
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think this is a case of "It's not you, it's me".
I'm not a big Sci-Fi reader and I enjoy character driven novels. A book like this really isn't about the characters, but more about the world and, in this case, the election.
As much as I tried, this book just felt like a chore to read. I couldn't stay focused and couldn't really engage. This is probably also because you are just thrown in from the start and it is difficult to get a grasp on what is happening and why. Many times at the start I went back and read the synopsis and other reviews to try and get my head around the purpose of the book and the characters. I guess this is where a prologue and a character list, and a list of the parties and their goals, would have been really helpful.
In the end, I could appreciate the author's purpose and ideas to put this novel together, but I think this is one for true Sci-Fi fans.

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

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Book Review: Bookmarked For Death by Lorna Barrett

Why I read this: I started the series on audio, and decided to continue

Genre: Cozy Mystery

In a Nutshell: 
Fluff reading

Would suit fans of: Kerry Greenwood, Elizabeth Peters

Bookmarked For Death (A Booktown Mystery, #2)Bookmarked For Death by Lorna Barrett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is hard to not enjoy a cozy mystery set in a town full of bookstores with a cat called Miss Marple!

These are quick easy reads with pretty good audio narration. It won't win awards any time soon, but is the perfect book when you are in the mood for something a bit light.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Book Review: If I Should Lose You by Natasha Lester

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

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, 

In a Nutshell: 
Organ donation, Ethics in medicine, families and relationships

Would suit fans of
Sally Hepworth

If I Should Lose YouIf I Should Lose You by Natasha Lester
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been sitting on this review not really knowing what to write.
The book explores the very difficult topic of organ donation from the viewpoint of a coordinating Nurse in the hospital (who talks to the families and tries to provide them with information to make a decision about donation), who also happens to be a mother with a terminally ill child in need of a liver donation. Understandably, the Nurse's family is under stress and her marriage is breaking apart.

The book is well written with respect given for this very difficult subject matter. It was at times full of hope, but also despair and disappointment. I think what I like about Lester's style is that she doesn't tell the reader what to think or feel. We are provided with information about a situation and left to our own pondering. It makes for a novel that has you thinking well after you have finished reading.

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Saturday, 9 July 2016

Book Review: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Why I read this: I am slowly making my way through all of Moriarty's books. I love her characterisations, humour and Sydney locations

Genre: Women's Fiction, Chick-Lit

In a Nutshell: Joyous, easy to read

Would suit fans of: Jojo Moyes, Monica McInerney

Three WishesThree Wishes by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Moriarty is yet to write a book that I don't enjoy. She just has a knack for characters and immersing you into a short period of their lives. This book is also REALLY funny. I was listening to the audio and a number of times found myself laughing spontaneously.
The story begins with eye witness accounts of three sisters (triplets) jointly celebrating their 34th birthday when everything goes wrong. Then we go back in time to discover how it all came to escalate to that point. The relationship between the sisters is awesome, you just want to hop in and be a Kettle sister too! But like any family they do have squabbles and possibly stick noses in where it is not required from time to time ;)
I thought the way Moriarty wrote the three sisters was not just compelling reading, but also gave them really distinct personalities and an "order" from eldest to youngest, while still being triplets ; which could not have been an easy task.

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Friday, 8 July 2016

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

Why I read this: Someone lent this to me a while ago and it has been on my bookshelf mocking me.

Genre: Historical Fiction, 

In a Nutshell: 
Family Saga, Gothic

Would suit fans of: Diane Setterfield, Phillipa Gregory

The Distant HoursThe Distant Hours by Kate Morton

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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Thursday, 7 July 2016

Book Review: Mr Wigg by Inga Simpson

Why I read this: I read a review in a newspaper a while ago and I liked the sound of it.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

In a Nutshell: Australian, character driven, best enjoyed with the heater on and a cup of tea

Would suit fans of: M.L Steadman

Mr WiggMr Wigg by Inga Simpson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is perfection. The best example of Australian writing I can think of.

Mr Wigg is set in the early 1970s in rural Australia. Mr Wigg has lived on the land his whole life with an orchard full of fruit trees and an amazing rose garden. These days, windowed and with failing health, he does his best to tend to his property, and we watch him through short chapters and the seasons tending to his beloved fruit trees and baking with his grandchildren.

This is a story of a "simpler" time perhaps, but not an easier one. There is a Vietnam war happening and controversy over the South African cricket team only having white players. This provides a backdrop for what is a story about family and love. Love for each other, including when it turns into something ugly and full of regret, and for a man's love of his farm.

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