Review: Emma Geen – The Many Selves of Katherine North

The Many Selves of Katherine North
Emma Geen

Katherine (Kit) has been projecting her consciousness into endangered animals in an effort to understand them for longer than any others in her job – 7 years in fact. After the death of her host Ressie while she is inhabiting it, Kit starts to get a bit paranoid about what her company might be doing behind the scenes. Can she stop them before it is too late?

I’d like to hear other people’s opinions about this novel. What do you feel like you gained from it? It took me a long time to sink into this novel, and then I struggled with the then/now perspective changes. I recognised Kit’s mind struggling with the same thing, and I couldn’t separate her projections away from the truth.

It has a very interesting premise, that it is possible to go inside an animal’s body and control the limbs. The fact that the mind can comprehend it at all is amazing – the concept of ‘plasticity’. Of course, the animal is an empty shell, and so you can become almost anything. I couldn’t understand how you would get funding for such a thing! Research studies have enough trouble getting funding as it is, let alone for a body that can be harmed.

What I felt confused about was the tourists. How could they adjust to the syndrome of swapping bodies when Katherine herself always struggled? Clamping down on sensations is one thing, muting the whole experience is another.

Also, what’s so bad about human Ressies? It’s no worse than say inhabiting a cyborg, and it’s potentially less dangerous, depending on where you put the Ressie out! Perhaps that’s the crux of why I didn’t understand this novel, and why I’m only giving it 3 stars.

Bloomsbury | 1st July 2016 | AU $28.00 | Paperback

Review: Vic James – Gilded Cage

Gilded Cage
Vic James

In Britain, there are the Equals and the slaves. All regular humans must spend 10 years slaving for the Equals, who play their own political games and couldn’t care less about the lives that are outside their own.

There’s nothing gilded about that cage. Nope. This novel follows a family who accidentally get split apart, with the teenager son going to a hard work-camp and the rest of the family going to a comparatively easy Estate job. I got very attached to Luke but couldn’t care less about Abi. Simple, idiotic girl.

I actually quite liked Silyen and despised the other brothers. Ok, so he’s a tad brilliant, and a large patch of rude and arrogant, but there’s something going on inside his mind that is not obvious to everyone else. He hides things, but he’s obvious about it and not sneaky like the rest of the Skilled/Equals.

I finished reading this novel breathlessly. I was hoping so hard for a standalone novel that wasn’t going to leave me hanging unhappily until the sequel came. This one had the potential, but in the end it seems to be part of a series. So, I’d advise buying a copy, but not reading it yet – you’ll just be setting yourself up for a cliffhanger ending that will torment you!

I’m giving it 5 stars, and hoping that when the next novel comes out I have time to reread this one first to refresh my memory for all the twisty turns in it.

Pan Macmillan | 1st February 2017 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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.


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

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 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.


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.


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

Review: Robert Cole – The Ego Cluster

The Ego Cluster
Robert Cole

Ethan has discovered genes that seem to create the basis of the human Ego, and so could help change the world for the better. Unfortunately, being able to edit the Ego isn’t likely to make the company he works for money, so the project is abandoned. Ethan is determined that his research is worth something more, and he is willing to give up everything to do it.

31389312Bad guys never give up do they? This novel offers a satisfying plot with twists that I certainly didn’t see coming. Bam! Nothing like having sociopaths on the loose. Even if some successful scientists are likely also sociopaths. The ultimate question is whether removing those genes will be sustainable and what might happen next.

Some people have tagged this as science fiction, but it’s really not the case. It’s more future fiction or an apocalyptical future. The things that are happening in this novel? It’s happening now, albeit not in such a structured or successful way. But gene editing will get there, and it’s not unlikely that we will discover genes that are responsible for how humans interact with each other (although it will probably be more than 6).

I had a definite advantage having a science background. There’s a lot of jargon here for you to absorb, but it is absolutely worthwhile. If you enjoyed Sapient for the science, you will love this novel. If you enjoyed Ken Kroes novels for their environmental awareness, this novel is going to be for you as well.

Let me say that I was divided between giving this novel 4 or 5 stars. Some of the text didn’t flow smoothly for me in the beginning, and some of the interactions were messy. This problem was probably heightened for me by the fact that I was reading an ebook, never my first choice. Let me say now that I would buy a paperback version of this novel, so I’m thinking I’d better go with 5 stars.


Review: Dane Cobain –
Dane Cobain

Dan Roberts is an underpaid freeelancer trying to survive pay-check to pay-check. After an interview that requires morning drinking and a club, he suddenly finds himself working for, a social media network that only publishes content after the users’ deaths. When people close to him die, he wonders if there is something more sinister going on behind the scenes.

DA9E396C-0840-4C86-91A3-CE21D2883CA4This is a nifty concept that takes advantage of social media’s continual encroachment into our lives. Why not take it one more step so it hangs around after your death? After all, you’ll be gone and not able to see the inevitable fallout! But how do you sustain money into the business when all your users die?

I actually thought that could have worked! The more you learn about the background, the more positive you feel. At the same time, the secrets and turns that are revealed make Dan feel worse about working there. But what choice does he have?

I liked the ending, particularly the way that there were no excuses made for anyone’s behaviour and thus being able to get out of the inevitable consequences of crime. I never felt a particular attachment to any of the characters, so when they died, I was more like ‘Yep, ok, now who’s next?’

I was split between giving this novel 4 or 5 stars. It kept me reading, and I got so immersed in it that I was thinking about it all the time. At the same time, I don’t think there was quite enough depth for me to reread it.


Review: Kerry Drewery – Cell 7

Cell 7
Kerry Drewery

Martha has killed a famous celebrity – or at least she said she did. Now waiting her fate in an increasingly smaller set of cells, her last days on earth are not only numbered, but also watched 24/7 by the public. That public will decide whether she is guilty or innocent by voting. The only problem is that the system is rigged for those who have money to have the potential to make more votes.

29864658Martha has lost a lot of important people, and I can see why she does the things she does. But she came across as a selfish, shallow character that I simply couldn’t like very much. And considering that I was supposed to get attached so I would be worried when she was close to dying, well, I wasn’t.

It’s unclear how the different people come on board with the ideas that Martha and her offsider are working on to change the world. Not enough clarity around a lot of issues actually, which was really frustrating.

I’m sorry. Even if this is a new thriller series, I couldn’t give points for the ending. It felt like no progress had been made at all, particularly with the authorities showing some really clear blind eyes (if there is such a thing). I read the novel, and the pacing was fine, but the plot was transparent and I couldn’t care about the characters. 3 stars from me.


Allen & Unwin | 28th September 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

Review: Simon Mayo – Blame

Simon Mayo

Ant and her brother Mattie have been incarcerated for crimes they never committed – it’s called heritage crime, and because the authorities couldn’t catch their parents, Ant and Mattie have to serve the time. There’s certain perks that the neighbouring crime jails don’t have, but also other dangers.

28248382Ok, so another reviewer has pointed out that the novel is filled with predictable character types. I think that’s certainly true – plucky heroine protecting her too kind brother and tolerating the hatred of a foster brother who blames her for his parents’ fates. However, I didn’t find it offputting. It gave me more space to think about the implications of the novel, rather than having to do too much thinking about the characters.

That being said, there were a couple of twists that I didn’t see coming. Amos, you idiot! Ant, how did you think that was a good idea? Mattie, were you even thinking at all? Completely clueless.

I’m not sure how I felt about the ending. Why would a big piece of information like that be stored in that particular inaccessible place. Surely there are safer places to keep it? Anyway, just suspend your disbelief and be carried along anyway.

Now this novel knocked my socks off. I couldn’t wait to keep reading it, and see where they went. Unlike Cell 7, I liked the characters are there was plenty of action to keep me entertained and worried – particularly as it seemed as if some of my favourite characters would die. 4 stars from me.


Penguin Random House | 29 August 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

I’m not actually sure if I received this novel from the publisher, or a new collaboration I am working on with SocialBookCo.

Review: Isobelle Carmody – Scatterlings

Isobelle Carmody

Merlin wakes with no personal memory of who she is, just a jumble of memories that point to a world that seems long gone. A journey that should seem simple enough in order to find answers turns out to be fraught with dangers that have not yet been explored by anyone.

25956231There is no feeling of Merlin as a character as she begins simply as a construction of impersonal memories. The novel is plot based, and moves at a relatively fast pace once Merlin encounters other inhabitants of the desolate world. As long as you read this lightly without too many preconceived notions of how an apocalyptic novel should go, you will enjoy it.

Perhaps oddly, the female character on the front of the novel reminds me of Isobelle herself. It’s the free-flowing red hair and the slightly otherworldly skin. I also take issue with the male character that is Ford who should by rights be missing an eye.

Again and again in Carmody’s fiction we see her preoccupation with the many ways humans can destroy the earth. In Obernewtyn, we see what could happen after a complete nuclear disaster. In Alyzon Whitestarr, a sickness rises and contaminates people to create hatred. Here is the outcome of

Other reviewers have ripped this novel apart for simply reusing apocalyptic world atrocities and not bothering to make sense of the characters. They seem to forget that this is a relatively early novel and it is now more than 20 years old. I’d have to say it would have been a ground breaker novel in its time. People continue to put their heads in the sand about Global Warming and the mess that humanity will never be able to extract itself from.

I owned this novel for many years without reading it. After meeting Isobelle Carmody twice in the space of a month, I got this novel signed. Then it came to rest on my direct to-be-read pile as a personal choice novel. I feel strongly about all Isobelle Carmody books in giving them positive 5 star reviews. This one is no exception.