Review: David Baldacci – The Fix

The Fix (An Amos Decker Novel)
David Baldacci

Amos Decker is walking to work and is a firsthand witness to a crime that makes no sense. A seemingly straight businessman shoots dead a boring substitute teacher who has no connection to him, then kills himself. Transferred across to a new city, Decker must now learn to live with one of his team and with tenants with their own problems downstairs. And sometimes he wishes his perfect memory was not so perfect.

Decker reminds me of a male Kendra. But one that is less sensitive to other people’s needs, which is fine. I like a person who can get straight to the point. But of course, Brandon Sanderson has written some short stories of a man with a host of personalities/specialists inside his head, and that’s way better. Despite how interesting I find characters with Synethesia, this one just didn’t connect with me.

My only complaint is that despite the plot moving rapidly, or perhaps because of it, I found myself getting very lost. This just wasn’t a crime novel I could care too much about. American state secrets really don’t bother me, and I guess I’ve never had much of a soft spot for killings that involve characters I wasn’t even given a chance to connect to.

Decker has lost all his own family at some point in one of the two previous books (I assume). Irene’s protagonist loses his family, but he’s a much grittier and likeable bloke. The crime novels I seem to read are either excellent or poor, and I’m dumping this into the latter category with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, even if that opinion will get me ostracised in the book review community!

Pan Macmillan | 1st May 2017 | AU$29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Kendare Blake – One Dark Throne

One Dark Throne
Kendare Blake

Ascension Year has begun in earnest, and now the three sisters must stop showing off their strengths and get down to the business of killing one another. While MIrabella and Arsinoe have made some truces, it’s Queen Katherine that has started leading the race. Too bad that she could be corrupting the rest of the island.

This novel. Mmm. I once again had serious problems keeping the Queens and their abilities and all their hanger-ons straight as separate people. Yes, they had distinctly different names, but it didn’t actually help me much. I couldn’t work out the character transformations from one novel to the next either. What confused me was whether there are actually two poisoners now, or whether Katharine is just lying to herself? Theoretically the sets of talents only come in threes, right? Katharine is certainly changed, but I’m not sure if she is a true poisoner.

The plot felt like it didn’t move at all, and that the characters were never in real danger despite them apparently always organising to kill each other. I wouldn’t have felt that sad had any of them died. I was always waiting for more details, or more to happen. The plot felt thin. Perhaps if this wasn’t a trilogy (multi-part series even?), then the author could have been able to add more meat to the novel.

There are more exciting novels out there in this theme, unless you are super keen to see three sisters taking each other apart – with the permission and promotion of their families! Otherwise I feel that you could probably get away with reading another accession story where the wrong child (usually a cruel one) gets the throne.

I’ve already invested time into the series, and so it’s likely that when the next book comes out, if it is sent to me for review I will read it. But I won’t be buying the book for myself, which is why this is just receiving an average 3 stars.

Pan Macmillan | 26th September 2017 | AU $16.99 | paperback

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Review: E L Croucher – The Butterfly on Fire

The Butterfly on Fire
E L Croucher

A tragic, unchanging truth keeps three different lives twined to tell the same story. Eric realises he is different to everyone else, while Beam tried to balance everything in life. Finally, Queen Fabuki has had an innocent die at one of her shows – and she doesn’t know how to stop the mysterious intruder.

feel terrible about this novel. In fact, when I started writing a review for it (some months after I had started it), I started reviewing the wrong novel. I had read The Road to Transition one late night too, and somehow the two had merged into one. I had previously interviewed the author as well. 

I just couldn’t finish this novel. I actually started reading this novel when I couldn’t sleep one night and I sat with the fish tank light glowing on me. It added some nice atmosphere, and I did get a couple of chapters read. In the end though, it unfortunately served as a nice soporific to send me back to bed.


If you are desperate to read some more stories about transition, maybe this book could be for you. For me, because I couldn’t even bear finishing it, it’s getting 1 star. Maybe a second iteration would be ok, but I’m not willing to try again on this one.

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Guest Reviews from Kyria!

I have something amazingly exciting to share today! I had a guest stay with me for 11 days, and while she was here, she managed to read all these novels. I’d just sent my other novels away for photographing, so I didn’t have any guarenteeded good things to share. Nevertheless, she set off into the ‘eBay category’ (these are books that got < 3 stars from me) and found some that suited her 17 year old fantasy reader tastes.

Based on her reviews, I’m going to reconsider reading ‘Whisper to Me‘ (which I just couldn’t get past the first couple of pages for) and knock ‘The Book of Whispers’ and “Linting and the Pirate Queen’ from my TBR pile.

Whisper to Me

This was perhaps the first non-fantasy/sci-fi book that I actually loved. At first, I thought that it was going to be absolutely terrible; it started off very slow and boring, and the lists at the beginning really threw me off. However, as I got further and further into the book, I found myself really enjoying it. There were only two real issues that I had with the book: the first was that all of the swear words were replaced entirely by asterisks. This interrupted the continuity of the book, and I found myself counting asterisks numerous times to try and guess the word. That said, I can understand why it was done: as the book goes further, there are a few places with just entire sentences of asterisks. This shows, to me, that it’s not about the actual words they are replacing, but rather the feeling that the main character gets from it.

My other issue is that the entire story is essentially an email to someone, asking them to forgive the author. This sets up the entire story as a cliff-hanger as a ‘will he forgive me?’ At first this really annoyed me, but over time I was able to just enjoy the story. I was pretty annoyed at the end, when the entire book ended up being the email and we never ended up finding out if he forgave her, but once again I can understand why that was done; it would’ve interrupted the continuity of the book to suddenly jump from this email, which has essentially been the entire book so far, to a real life scenario. 4.5 stars


In brief: the one with the two cities and the trees and stuff. Solid book. This is the sort of general fantasy book that I loved reading when I was younger. It has a nice feel to it, and while at times it got a little hard for me to keep track of the characters, it wasn’t too bad. 4 stars




They Both Die at the End

This book was pretty good. Somehow, even knowing that the characters were going to die, the book was written well enough that I couldn’t help getting attached, and still felt sad at the death of the character. The book is a very different style to the type of book that I usually read, and it took me a while to get into it, but once I did it was pretty enjoyable. The ending wasn’t as good as it could’ve been, although I can understand to an extent why it was written the way it was, and it wasn’t altogether unsatisfying. 3.5 stars


The Graces

Quite frankly, this book confused me for quite a while. I spent a majority of the book not being sure whether or not the book was even supposed to be fantasy. In terms of character progression, and the relationships between the characters, the budding relationships between the characters was written quite well, although I was a little confused as to why the main character was first invited out to the spell.

Apart from that, the book was written well, and I did enjoy it. However, the ending was extremely unsatisfying, and as a reader, I felt like I was being tossed back and forth regarding the main character’s relationship with the graces. 3 stars


In brief: fantasy pretender. This book was destined to be a young adult novel, but desperately wanted to be classed as fantasy, so the author threw in whatever weak fantasy link they could find. The book was good, but the fantasy add-on felt misplaced, like it was there purely to class the book as fantasy, and not to add any extra meaning or enjoyment to the book. It started off a bit slow, but once it picked up I really enjoyed it. That said, the ending was unsatisfying and annoying, and brings up some weird questions about a young girl and an old man who both remember loving each other. 3 stars

The Song from Somewhere Else

In brief: dimensions and stuff. It took me a while to become accustomed to having the images alongside the book, but I found it really nice to have a visual explanation of some of the events that were occurring. This book felt like it was written more to get a good review from critics than to be enjoyed by the average person, and felt a bit pretentious to me. That said, it was easy to understand and follow. 3 stars



Safe from Harm

This book really confused me. In the beginning, there were a lot of flashbacks/flashforwards, and at times it was difficult for me to even keep track of what was happening. As the book progressed, it got easier to keep track, but there were still confusing moments when I just wasn’t quite sure what was happening.

The end of the book was also really dissatisfying, but in a way that is worse than the usual dissatisfying ending. Most times, I just dislike how the book ended, or how things turned out, but here I wasn’t certain what even happened, and the book was vague regarding what happened to the daughter. 2.5 stars


The Book of Whispers

Not overly memorable. I enjoyed the book, but it was very average: not amazing, but not bad either. I was also a little confused at times, when I couldn’t quite understand why the characters were doing what they were, or how it would affect anything. I found it very challenging to relate to the characters. 2.5 stars

Linting and the Pirate Queen

This book was a fairly average book. Events moved very slowly and not a lot happened. The writing and story was also very simple. To me, it felt like the kind of book I would read after I’ve spent hours reading other books and needed to give my brain a rest. Perhaps not a great book choice for (almost) adults, but I would recommend it for younger children, perhaps around the age of ten. 2 stars

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Review: Nick Lake – Whisper to Me

Whisper to Me
Nick Lake

Cass hears a voice. Just one, but that one tells her to hurt herself and not talk to other people, otherwise it will cause her dad to die. This causes her to hurt a boy she likes, so she writes him an incredibly long letter (email) in the form of this novel.

Sigh. I knew this novel wasn’t much chop from the very beginning. But a friend had said it was the best she had read while borrowing from my (limited) library. So I thought, ok, I’ll try it. It was the first couple of pages that put me off, honestly I’m not much of a list person, particularly in fiction novels. It better be useful, like in the start of me and you, but no, this one continued throughout the novel and it wasn’t useful.

There was no conclusion to that ending, and honestly, I was sick of it. I finished it, but that was it. Just a long email of apologising. Also, spoiler alert, no conclusion to the bad guys either. I’m not unwilling to read something else by this author, the writing style was engaging and I liked Cass’ characterisation well enough. But there was no resolution, and honestly the storyline was rambling (I know, I know, it’s the writing style of a teenager apologizing… over and over again).

I’m not even sure I can accept it for the mental illness content. Suggesting that ‘talk therapy’ can overcome hearing voices (even just the one voice Cass hears) is dangerous. As Cass finds out, when she stops taking her medication abruptly her self-preservation instincts go out the window. Honestly, I wouldn’t have been all that upset if she had died. Actually, that might have added some of the excitement I didn’t feel about Paris. Too much foreshadowing for so little actual action.

I do not recommend this novel. I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on it. I’d love to just give it 1 star, but I did at least finish it. So 2 stars it will have to be. I held out for hope of an ending, and nope, nothing there to redeem it.

Bloomsbury | 3rd May 2016 | paperback

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Review: Danielle Rollins – Breaking

Danielle Rollins

Charlotte’s been at Boarding school for a long time, but she never seems to fit in. She’s surrounded by pretty people, pretty people who also happen to be super smart. Charlotte’s boring compared to her two awesome best friends – but they’ve committed suicide, and she hasn’t. Can Charlotte gain a bit of a spine and find out the answers?

Oh man, oh man. I thought I had made notes on this novel and how AWESOME it was. But apparently not, and now I’m faced with a blank text editing box. Not very inspiring. I liked Charlotte and her ‘humanity’, despite her calling herself boring. Nothing’s boring about someone who is soooo totally average! There’s always that sneaky thing she only hints about…  Just reading it was lovely and gripping, and the ending did not disappoint.

Others reviewers have mentioned that the flippant references to suicide put them off giving this novel full stars. Personally, I knew the whole time that there was something else going on, and that there was no way that Charlotte’s best friends had done that. Also, there are some tropes of the same kind – you know, character thinks that she is the most boring person ever, all of the girls only want ONE fabulous guy, everyone is jealous of everyone else – but honestly?

I’m liking the themes at the moment towards products and potions that can make people instantly beautiful. Think Charisma and another book I read a while ago that I can’t currently remember the name of. Makeup has been such a big part of most women’s lives and conforming to the norms. But what happens when everyone is pretty? That’s what I’d like to see played out next.

For this novel, I didn’t realise until somewhere near the end that it could be considered a prequel to Burning. But there is no need to read this one first, or indeed both of them (although I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to read them both!). I read Burning about a year ago now on vacation! I read Breaking just before I went. I guess now I’m going to be expecting to have a Rollins’ masterpiece before every vacation!

Bloomsbury | 1 September 2017 | AU$15.99 | paperback

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Review: Allison Rushby – The Fifth Room

The Fifth Room
Allison Rushby

Self-experimentation is the only way to get results… Or at least that’s what an international secret society of Doctors believes. Brilliant highschoolers are invited to take part in this self-experimentation, and are pitted against each other to win a prize of continuing their research. But its a challenge, they’re all brilliant, but how many of them are willing to go to the end?

Oh my! This book was amazing! I gobbled it so greedily, and then neglected to review it. But just sitting here writing this review is making me want to re-read it, that’s how good it was. Uh oh, it’s within reach, I might actually reread it now….

Is this a psychological thriller? I don’t know, but it had me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t scared for myself at any point, and I wasn’t jumpy, so I’m not sure it’s a thriller. Nevertheless, I couldn’t put it down!

I know they set it up for a sequel, but I don’t care! It was amazing! The ending was just what I wanted. I didn’t really see it coming, and I found the final reveal to be entirely keeping with what we knew of Miri’s character. I don’t agree with all of her actions, but she’s certainly a believable character.

I’m giving this novel 5 stars, and strongly recommending you go and get yourself a copy. As we approach Christmas (it’s after my birthday, I can start mentioning it now), this would be the perfect gift for the aspiring high-school doctor (or undergraduate student) or teens in favour of thrillers with captivating storylines.

Scholastic | 1 September 2017 | AU$16.99 | paperback

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Review: Nicole Lara – Bullet It!: A Notebook for Planning Your Days, Chronicling Your Life, and Creating Beauty

Bullet It!: A Notebook for Planning Your Days, Chronicling Your Life, and Creating Beauty
Nicole Lara

“Dotted grids, handwritten fonts, and fun doodle tutorials make this more than just an organizing notebook. It’s an artistic keepsake for your life. And perforated pages make it easy to remove your favorite pages and display them in your home.”

I can’t tell you anything about the quality of this journal. I have a feeling that most hard-core Bulletters would look down their noses at this book, because it has guidelines to help you think of creative ways to present things. Additionally, those perforated pages are a temptation to remove things you shouldn’t remove! If a journal is about being honest, then having an easy way to rip out pages is not the way to go.

I found this to be a good gift to give to someone I didn’t know anything about. If they were already a Bullet Journaller, then they might appreciate having a new one to test out. Or if they weren’t, they could be tempted! I think I’d firmly recommend this as a suitable Christmas gift for those people who are hard to buy for. At the very least, they can use it to make grocery lists and rip out the pages!

I’m not sure how I feel about ‘Bulletting’ in general. Honestly, before I received How to Bullet Plan, I didn’t understand why anyone would want to pay good money to buy a journal full of dots. Now I can see the allure. Ok, mine wouldn’t look pretty, but ever since I started tracking a couple of goals, I would like to try out the practicality of it. I’m a serial list maker, and it could be cool. Stay tuned to see whether I take it up.

Pan Macmillan | 12 September 2017 | AU$19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Rachel Wilkerson Miller – How to Bullet Plan

How to Bullet Plan
Rachel Wilkerson Miller

Hit by the urge to Bullet Plan, but don’t know where to start? Can’t work out why you would bother setting up a Bullet Journal? This book is right for you. It gives you simple layouts and guides for almost any content you can think about writing.

I smashed my way through this book in about 1 hour, but it’s one that I would go back and visit when actually setting up a Bullet Planner. I think even semi-experienced Bulletters (is that even a word?!) would find it useful for ideas on different page layouts and the sheer number of things you can use it for.

I’m a serial list maker, and used to do this in a large journal. I’d also use it for writing down financial things etc. But then I fell out of the habit because I needed to start sharing my notes with my partner. I’m thinking this method would be more effective in a smaller journal (which would also be less daunting).

The complete irony is that this is a book about writing! And lately (cough, cough) I have not been doing any writing. Being worn out from the PhD submission is my excuse. I have around 20 books sitting on my shelf that I have read, but failed to review. Maybe soon? This review is the first after the drought as my teaching commitments wane for the year.

Full confession time here – I did receive a Bullet Journal for review… But I passed it on as a gift to a expectant mother. I googled about Bullet Journaling, and as the author of this guide suggests, was overwhelmed by the beauty and creativity of other people’s Planners. I now think I want to try this method again, but no way am I buying a fancy one in case I fall off the wagon again…

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Review: Megan Jacobson – the build-up season

the build-up season
Megan Jacobson

Iliad is named for a war, and she has a war going on inside her. Growing up in a home suffering from domestic violence, Iliad has been kicked out of five boarding schools and is now on her last leg of year 12 – successfully failing most of her units against art. Getting a dreamy boyfriend will solve all her problems… or will it?

Oh Ily, you are so clueless sometimes! And it’s not all about you. But I think her mother and nan made the wrong decision sending her away. Clearly she has PTSD, and although it might help to get away from triggering scenarios, it’s not going to heal her – therapy would have been the right thing to do. Domestic violence is currently coming under a lot of scrutiny in Australia, so at least we can hope this improves, even in the remote community that Ily seems to live in.

By the author of the breathtaking yellow comes another breathtaking novel that almost made me cry… Oh ok, I did actually shed at least one tear. And it wasn’t even at the end! It was right in the middle when I didn’t know what would happen. I honestly would have been ok with any ending, because I wanted the author to just keep writing.

I can’t think of anything I didn’t enjoy about the novel. I connected with Ily, I didn’t see everything coming and there was the right amount of emotional jerking. Oh, only one minor complaint. Ily should have blocked the mobile number, not just deleted it from her phone. Also, the blurb is inaccurate and gives away the last 3/4 of the novel.

As a young adult novel, this included tasteful sex scenes that should highlight to young readers the difference between a thoughtful lover and an asshole. Also, safe sex even when it is spontaneous. Ahh. A well written novel. A very happy reader. Just what I needed.

Why are you still reading this review? Go buy a copy.

Penguin Random House | 31st July 2017 | AU $19.99 | paperback

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