Review: Lisa Unger – Ink and Bone

Ink and Bone
Lisa Unger

Finley Montgomery hears things that noone else can, and they block out her perception of reality. A squeak-clink is the newest sound to interfer with her studies – could it have something to do with the abduction of Abbey?

30073778This didn’t quite have me on the edge of my seat, but close enough! I felt like all the girls were already dead, and that Finley might bring the perpetrator of crime to justice, but it was too late for the children. Finley didn’t seem to catch on that she usually sees dead people… So the ones she is seeing and hearing can’t possibly be alive!

Ok, so I admit I was a bit slow to get the title of this novel. Having read another novel titled Ink and Bone, I kept being a bit confused when I saw the title on my shelf. I’m not sure about the ‘bone’ in the title of Unger’s novel, but the ink certainly makes sense.

To me, this felt complete, but incomplete at the same time. I barely got attached to Finley’s grandmother and the blurb suggests that this is the beginning of Finley’s training – yet she seems to have been there a while. A quick google tells me that this novel is a stand-alone but there are other novels set in The Hollows. I don’t know whether those novels also have something to do with Finley’s grandmother, but I’d perhaps suggest to the reader to try reading those first, even if this is a standalone novel.

A psychological thriller, but not too thrilling that I felt haunted afterwards (or tried to avoid picking it up!). I’ll give it 4 stars.

4star

Simon & Schuster | July 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Natasha Carthew – The Light that Gets Lost

The Light that Gets Lost
Natasha Carthew

Trey’s family was shot by a religious figure while he hid in the cupboard. Years in and out of foster homes has seen Trey finally end up in a compound run by priests – where perhaps he will be able to find his parents’ killer and enact his revenge.

20617991Despite starting out like a corrective detention redemption and revenge novel, this rapidly degenerates to a Lord of the Flies drama. Trey is infected with a Demon that burns to burn things. The girl he likes has interesting looking scars on her back. Then all the adults go to hell, and the kids wreak havoc on everything. Power corrupts. What is new?

The imagery drove me nuts. Anyone for seeping red, sticky red, blood? Anyone want Trey to set fire to his own head, so that the ashes can match his heart, the landscape, everything else in sight?

I didn’t love a single one of the characters. Their language and consistent shortening of all words and the repetitive and obvious thoughts and actions that each ‘performed’ felt strange and strained. Trey, you’re an idiot. I don’t know how old you are really, but pull yourself together man!

This could be called future fiction, because the novel hints the whole time about the world outside the compound possibly being even worse for children than what they face with the Preacher in charge. Something to go along with that was the ending of the novel. If life out there is so good, why hadn’t they just done that earlier? Escape.

This is not a gripping novel. I drove myself to finish reading it, but it was a struggle. I had picked it up once, put it back down after trying to slog through the painful internal dialogue of Trey, then picked it up again because after all, I requested it! 1 star. Don’t bother wasting your time.

1star

Bloomsbury | 1st December 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Jessica Watson & Dougal Macpherson – Introducing Teddy

Introducing Teddy
Jessica Watson & Dougal Macpherson

Teddy is keeping a big secret from Thomas, and Teddy is worried that Thomas won’t understand and might not like him anymore. Will Teddy be accepted as Tilly?

27158837There’s not very much I can write about a children’s novel so small. Oh, but how will I convey how impressed I am with this?

In a world where transgender individuals are gradually getting the rights they deserve, this novel is how to introduce children from a young age that some people aren’t born into the right bodies for their brains.

It’s sensitive, simple and something that younger readers (maybe grade 1 or 2) will be able to read by themselves (with adult guidance for the contents). The language is straight-forward, and the message of acceptance is clear.

With any children’s book, I’m not sure whether to recommend you buy it, or borrow it from the library as it may only get one read, depending on the age of your child. I received a paperback and a hard copy version, and I donated the hard copy one to my library. Well worth having in a collection of children’s books.

5star

Bloomsbury | June 2016 | $24.99 | Hardback

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Review: e. lockhart – fly on the wall

fly on the wall
e. lockhart

Everyone is different, or pretends to be different at Gretchen’s high school. Gretchen herself feels ordinary, and doesn’t know how to talk to boys. A misguided wish to be a fly on the wall of the boys’ lockerroom means that she’s going to learn more about boys than ever before.

30323804I hated Gretchen’s inner monologue. I hated it when she was human and it interfered with me actually being able to grasp the situation around her. Things were slightly better when she was a fly, because she tended to have fully coherent thoughts, but it was still painful.

Boys have gherkins, girls have biscuits? Seriously. She’s going to spend a week checking out ‘gherkins’, she might as well call them penises. If you’re an artist, you should be ok with that! Maybe it was some sort of cute high school quirk, but I wouldn’t pick gherkins any day of the week.

So maybe this is entirely a huge teenage romance, and it’s cool that nothing else goes on, but I wanted more substance. Who cares about her grades? Who cares about her parents? Who cares about any of this? It’s all about those cute boys she’s giving ratings to their asses.

GoodReads is split on the verdict about this novel. I’m weighing in with 2 stars. It’s readable, but seriously don’t waste your time on it.

2star

Bonnier | 23rd November 2016 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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Review: Dane Cobain – No Rest for the Wicked

No Rest for the Wicked
Dane Cobain

Naked and androgynous Angels have begun to exact vengeance on all those who have sinned. But who says they are from the Lord? As more and more people are killed, and more Angels appear, it is up to a priest and his illegitimate son to sort out the mystery and save mankind.

22088645After loving former.ly by Cobain, I was hoping for another fantastic first person forey into a world where physics might have created Angels that are anything but! Sadly, this novel did not meet my expectations.

Despite the blurb promising me a secretive elderly priest that is the only one who can stop the invasion, I was faced with a range of other experiences of others facing the Angels. Despite Jones and Father Montgomery’s perspectives popping up more often than the others, I wasn’t satisfied with the flow of the novel or the character development.

The author also sent me a book of poems (Eyes like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home) but I’m not sure I am going to touch those. Poetry doesn’t float my boat, but this author has so much to offer I might try one or two of them.

For me, this novel didn’t work because all the conflicting perspectives drove me up the wall. For someone else, this might be a nifty novel to get you thinking about science and faith, and how the two might interact. 3 stars from me.

3star

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Interview with Susan DeFreitas

susandefreitaspressphotoAn Interview with Susan DeFreitas, author of Hot Season

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

Great question! Like many writers I know, I have more than one of these manuscripts. The book I worked on for most of my twenties was abandoned, mid-draft, when I realized that I just didn’t have the skills to finish the sort of complex story I’d chosen–in other words, I realized that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. At that point, I decided to go back to school for my master’s degree in writing, which is where I wrote the stories that would become Hot Season. That original novel of mine has indeed been relegated to an obscure folder on my hard drive, but I hope to return to it someday.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?hot-season-cover_72dpi

There are writers who struggle for ideas, and there are writers who struggle to keep up with their ideas; I’m one of the latter. That said, it does take a whole lot of refinement, feedback, and fine tuning to really produce a book of lasting quality, so I suppose my aim, at this point, is to refine the work I’ve already produced while also drafting new work in small increments. I’d love to pump out a novel a year, but it may wind up being more like one every two years. =)

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I can write most anywhere, but I am particular about my mediums–I prefer to draft new work by hand and to revise it on a screen. As far as drafting goes, I’m a big believer in doing it away from the computer and all the deliciously devious distractions it provides.

I also like to make use of notebook margins to include alternate pathways in logic and association–phrases, sentences, and even whole paragraphs I may wind up using later and may not. You can’t do that in Word, and I think word processing in general is best for refining and perfecting rather than generating new work.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I’m lucky enough to have a stellar weekly critique group, and we all run our books through the group before submitting them for consideration by agents and editors. As for hiring an editor, my book is traditionally published, but I did work with an editor from my own firm, Indigo Editing & Publications here in Portland, Oregon. Even editors need editors!

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

Yes! Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland is a bit of a literary mecca, and with good reason; the store takes up an entire city block and caters to every interest under the sun. I love spending time there, and I’m always amazed at the quality of their staff picks. But I will admit, I see the charm of e-books as well; I recently downloaded something like 20 books published by Small Beer Press–a fantastic small press publisher of speculative fiction–through Humble Book Bundle for a ridiculously cheap price, and now I can rest assured that I always have a great book available when I go on vacation and don’t want to lug around a bunch of books.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?

I love both literary fiction and speculative fiction, and many of my favorite books straddle the line between these genres.

childhood?
I was OBSESSED with a tricksy mystery novel called The Westing Game when I was a kid. Must have read it 10 times!

adolescence?
The Invisible Man really knocked my socks off, as did Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

young adult?
I cannot deny the influence that both Ed Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench Gang and John Nichol’s The Magic Journey had on me–living in the American Southwest, these books just spoke to my experiences in such a powerful way.

adult?
I’m a huge fan of Ursula K. Le Guin. Absolutely everything she writes is amazing.

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What are your feelings?

I actually enjoy participating in social media, Facebook especially, as it’s been a great way to keep in touch with people from many different points in my life, and to network with local writers as well–I also use Twitter and Instagram, in a somewhat more haphazard fashion. I’ve found the former good for keeping track of publishing industry news and that latter a nice outlet for my closet visual artist. But I agree that social media sucks up a whole lot of time–especially around the time you have a book coming out! I’m looking forward to getting back to writing and editing soon.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Never! Interviews are fun, and I love meeting new people and talking about books, delicious books. =)

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Interview with Aniesha Brahma

Interview with Aniesha Brahma, author of All Signs Lead Back to You 

I’m not going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?

Hi, Rosemarie! J Thank you for interviewing me. When Our Worlds Collide is my personal favourite novel, because in many ways it set the ball rolling for me to finally be recognized as a young author!

Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?

The first novel that I ever wrote was about a girl called Sara Basu and her stepbrother called Iemon Mukherjee. I actually got it printed from a print-on-demand shop just to see what the book might look like. I think the story exists on a site I used to write on. I don’t do anything with it. I haven’t decided if I want to go back to it – ever.

Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?

My mind is always bubbling over with new ideas. And in order to stay relevant authors do need to pump out a novel very year. I’m forever looking for that little spark that would set into motion a story that my readers would be able to relate to. The spark comes to me whenever it wants, without warning. It’s honestly a little annoying at times.

I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?

I wrote an entire children’s book on my phone during my metro journeys to and from work! I don’t think it’s the place half as much as it is the state of mind one requires to be in while writing. I am most comfortable writing on my laptop. I don’t think I’ve written anything by hand since I was gifted my laptop during my second year in college.

Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?

I have loving friends who are more than happy to suffer through my first drafts and give me very honest feedback. As for choosing an editor, I’ve just been very, very lucky that the editors and I have gotten along very well. So the nasty fights never happened between us.

I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?

I work in a publishing house as a social media manager and hence I’m surrounded by paperbacks and hardbound books all day long. I am the happiest when I’m around books. While I don’t have a favourite bookshop, I am more comfortable ordering books online. While I am not an e-reader fan, I understand that it’s okay to like reading e-books. I cannot possibly afford the paperbacks of all the books I’ve been reading…for me, the story has been more important.

I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind from:
1. childhood?  Grimm brother’s Fairy Tales.
2. adolescence? I used to read a lot of Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl and Ruskin Bond during this phase of my life.
3. young adult? I started reading classics like Pride and Prejudice and Gone with the Wind and Rebecca during the time I was a young adult.
4. adult? And I started reading Young Adult fiction when I was an adult. Because YA is NOT a category, it’s a point of view!

Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. How do you manage its demands?

I manage my own platform. And I am most comfortable running my Facebook author page and my Instagram page. I am on twitter as well, but I don’t use it as much. I spend chunks of ten minutes a day to make the creatives which I would be sharing from my social media. J On a daily basis, at least fifteen minutes a day get spent in promoting my work. I just find it easier to reach a wider audience this way to be honest.

Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?

Sometimes. But I never recycle them. I take the time out and reply to each and every interview personally.

All Signs Lead Back to You 
2013.

As the final bell for the day rang on their last day in school, Diya Rai, had a chill run down her spine. The chill of not knowing what the future holds for her and her high school sweetheart, Ashwin Chowdhury.
So she does a preemptive strike.
She dumps him before he can hurt her.

2015.

Two years later, Ashwin and Diya, cross paths. Each holds grudges, feelings and only one half of the story that completes them.
Told from alternating points of view, through a non-linear timeline, this is the story about first love, second chances and ALL the SIGNS THAT LEAD BACK TO YOU.

Meet the Characters

Diya Rai – is the protagonist of the story whose actions have always had terrible consequences for those around her. Diya is self-absorbed and never chooses anyone else over her own self. Diya’s troubled past keeps her from letting people into her life. Even though she’s hurt Ashwin she wants him back in her life years later.

Ashwin Chowdhury – is her best friend in school and later on, boyfriend. He is left heartbroken by Diya but when their paths cross later on, he realises he doesn’t want anything to do with her. He lives with his mother and elder brother and hails from a upper middle-class family background.

Nina Gonzales – is Diya’s best friend in college. She and Diya had met during their admissions and had become fast friends with one another. Nina and Ashwin end up competing with one another to see who is really Diya’s best friend!

Rishabh – is the quintessential hot, rich guy that Diya dates in college. He seems to be in love with her, but Diya doesn’t seem to return the same affection towards him. Nina hates his guts.

Trina – is the girl Ashwin is interested in. She goes to the same college as Diya and Nina, and while Diya dislikes her mostly because Ashwin seems to be interested in her, Nina is indifferent to her.

Aniesha Brahma is an author who realized her passion for writing at the tender age of six. She also happens to be the social media manager for BEE Books. Her debut novel, The Secret Proposal (2012) was published by General Press and was followed by When Our Worlds Collide (2015) by the same. She blogs at: www.anieshabrahma.com and runs an online magazine, BUZZ Magazine. She can be contacted at: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com. She lives in Kolkata with her family and her five super adorable cats!

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Review: Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey – Belles on their Toes

Belles on their Toes
Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey

After the patriarch’s death, the dozen surviving members of the Gilbreth clan must learn how to get along with Mother away, and a budget of $600 for several months. Then there is a bout of chickenpox which can be cured by only one The blurb is quite misleading, suggesting that the Gilbreth children set up an egg farm to sell eggs. If this does occur, it’s not discussed in the novel. They do collect manure from the streets though!

1129940This sequel to Cheaper by the Dozen simply didn’t hold as many good ‘tips’ on motion study as did the first one. It’s a bit more entertaining perhaps and catalogues what older society times thought of a woman teaching motion study to engineering men.

I think I’d like a motion study kitchen! Imagine the inefficiencies that have crept into smaller businesses from the loss of people like the Gilbreths from the world. My partner notices these inefficiencies every day in her workplace. Ah, for simpler times.

Do I give this stars? For GoodReads, I have to, and so there I’ll give it 5 stars. But here, it’s non-fiction, so I’m just going to recommend it as a good, oldfashioned non-fiction that illustrates what can happen in a big family after a father dies.

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Review: Alexander Weinstein – Children of the New World

Children of the New World
Alexander Weinstein

In the near future, social media implants are normal, and memories can be virtually implanted. Sex, souls and ass are currency and children can be deleted from life or have their insides fail. This collection of short stories is an eye-opening horror that will leave you thinking about the implications of technology long into the night.

29243630The short stories lapped in with each other, the world felt complete and despite the short stories being, well, short, I felt satisfied after reading each one. I’m not sure that I would be able to comfortably read a whole novel of this, nor what storyline could go with it. There is just so many disparate things happening that it seems impossible to get

I want to suggest this novel for others to read, and perhaps lend it to a friend or two, but I’m also hesitant because I’m not sure most people are going to be accepting of most of the ideas. It’s out there alright, and I think it should be read. It’s another level of “1984” (with the same sort of Big Brother ideas).

Oh, I wasn’t sure whether to give this 4 stars or 5 stars. Normally I wouldn’t go in for a book of short stories, but it really was fantastic.

4star

Text Publishing | 1st December 2016 | AU $22.99 | Paperback

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Review: Kendare Blake – Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns
Kendare Blake

Katherine the Poisoner, Arsinoe the Naturalist and Mirabella the Elementalist have been doomed to murder each other for the sake of the crown since they were children. The Poisoners have held the island council for many years, but now it could be time for a change with Priestesses wanting their favourite candidate for the throne to win at any cost.

30240773Personally, I think the blurb on GoodReads gives far too much away. You start to get inklings of something being wrong with this generation of Queens as you are reading, and to have them all knocked away before you even start reading would be a serious detriment to your enjoyment of the novel.

I couldn’t decide which Queen I liked the best! I of course felt sorry for Katherine, because she was being poisoned all time and was sickly. But was that just because she was the first Queen introduced in the novel? I’d be interested to hear about the author’s reasoning for which perspectives to display in each order.

The first third of this novel wasn’t riveting enough for me. I couldn’t work out when the dying would occur. Hint, it doesn’t occur in this novel, it might occur in the second (or third, I’m not clear on how many novels will be in this series). I was left with more questions than answers and some intriguing theories about why each of the Queens had odd behaving powers.

I’m not sure there is quite enough depth in there for a re-read, but it certainly has potential if the next novel is as good. 4 stars from me.

4starPan Macmillan | 1st October 2016 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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