Review: Barbara Bourland – I’ll Eat when I’m Dead

I’ll Eat when I’m Dead
Barbara Bourland

Cat’s boss has died in a locked storeroom with a huge slab of ribbon next to her. Deemed to have stemmed from an eating disorder, it was just a heart attack. That locked door prompts a investigation by a cop looking for promotion, and bam! Cat is suckered in to doing her own research.

This was like eating a really bad, stale peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I chewed my way patiently through the first 1/4 of the book, sitting through honestly a quite boring backstory and the party lives of Cat, Bess and some random other person they went to school with. Then, I got some tasty jelly, where we got into the crux of the investigations into the murder and a bit of development of a on-again off-again relationship between Cat and the detective. AND THEN, someone forgot to put the peanut butter in. The next 1/4 was simply Cat and Bess being swaddled around with Cat hating the experience and Bess being pretty happy about it. Then there’s another bit of bread of nothing even really happening until the end. I didn’t care about Cat or Bess enough for it to matter at that point.

Maybe part of the problem with this novel was this promised to be a bit of an expose on the women’s fashion industry which promotes thin women that buy expensive clothes. Instead, I found a main character that professed to follow these views, then failed to follow any of them. Sure, the magazine promotes American made fashion, then promotes ecologically and ethically sound wares, but to an extent it is all lip service.

A story of socialites that could have potentially had their comeuppance. If you’re doing lines of cocaine, smoking pot on a regular basis and having a flirting affair with heroin, I can’t feel that sorry for you. I appreciated that Cat insisted on using condoms when having wild, random sex, and was pretty vocal about the fact, but it couldn’t redeem the novel.

What’s with the title? They don’t have a problem with eating as far as I can see, there is a different Problem with a capital P. In fact, I recently stated my opinion on a new YA novel that I think has the same title, which promises to be much more exciting. Honestly, when this one came in the mail, I thought it was that book and got excited. That was enough for me to start reading it anyway, and I shouldn’t have wasted my time.

Women’s fiction with a hint of crime? I think it was sold to me as a bit more attractive than that, otherwise I never would have touched it in the first place. Don’t waste your time on this one. 2 stars because I finished it in the hopes of it improving.

Hachette Australia | 16th May 2017 | AU$29.99 | paperback

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Review: Joy Callaway – The Fifth Avenue Artists Society

The Fifth Avenue Artists Society
Joy Callaway

Virginia wants to be a novelist and marry the boy next door. This wasn’t necessarily a problem – except that in the 1890s women were expected to marry and produce children rather than having a career. It seems as if she will get to have both dreams come true, right until “her man” proposes to someone more wealthy.

This novel was sent to me by mistake by Allen & Unwin, but I decided to read it anyway. I love music and appreciate artist talent, despite not having much talent (or none, when it comes to art) and so I thought it could be good. Instead, I was hit with Ginny’s romance, and very little writing! I was frustrated that she didn’t do more with her art. I also found it unrealistic in how talented simply EVERYONE was.

Ginny got very close to men that she wasn’t married to. She’s kissing them in public, being felt up on the couch. For a period romance, I don’t think this was realistic. The same applied for some of her sisters. I thought that the 1890s was a very conservative time, even in America. Someone please correct me if I am wrong, I know that history is not my strong suit.

The ending could have had more pizzaz. Considering that Ginny was all ‘If it’s not my Charlie, I’m not going to marry’, she was pretty broken about what happened with the salon. And her hero worship for her brother was… cloying? Unrealistic? Ginny may be an idealist, but I didn’t think she was that much of an idiot!

With all that in mind, I still stayed up late finishing the novel and so I’ll be giving it 3 stars. I was just disappointed in the ‘happy ending’, and the way the prose got slower and slower as the novel progressed.

Allen & Unwin | 23rd November 2016 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Emily Fridlund – History of Wolves

History of Wolves
Emily Fridlund

Linda lives in an ex-commune with parents who love her, but are a bit off-handed with their parenting. School isn’t perfect either, being labeled a commie and a freak. But it’s not like she is interested in school anyway. The chance to make some money and babysit the new neighbour’s kid seems the perfect idle escape.

Sold as a ‘Coming of Age’ novel, I honestly don’t know why I kept reading this novel. Linda doesn’t even make a choice, as promised in the blurb. She just wanders along in her own life, with no absolution and no explanations.

For me, it was not obvious that Paul was sick, until he was really sick and sleeping a lot. Kids get sick right? Linda takes him out in the forest and he seems like a perfectly normal boy to me. A quick google didn’t tell me how long a child is likely to last in his condition, but 4 years seems like a long time to survive.

Again, this novel had flicking back and forwards in time, making me feel slightly sick and very confused! Why should I care about your current life Linda? Why should I care about your behaviour towards Lily and the teacher? Why should I care about anything in this novel?

I understand that this novel is trying to expose at least some of what goes wrong in Christian Scientist lives – they believe that if you don’t think you (or anyone else) is ill, you will survive. I could also argue the same for other religions where blood transfusions are not permitted etc. I think for this novel to have worked on me, I needed the connection to be more explicit.

I hoped and hoped for this novel’s redemption, but it never happened. I’m even hesitating to give 2 stars, even though I finished it. Choose something else. If you want another novel with death and lies, pick Wolf Hollow, even though I didn’t love that one much either.

Hachette Australia | 1st January 2017 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Sally Hepworth – the mother’s promise

the mother’s promise
Sally Hepworth

Alice refuses to accept that she is dying. She’s come through other health scares before, because she doesn’t have a choice. She’s the only person in 15 year old Zoe’s life that Zoe can trust to any extent. As things progress, both Alice and Zoe must learn to let go – and so must Kate and Sonja.

This novel hit me. The writing is powerful and it makes the reader slip effortlessly inside each of the women’s minds. Each has a unique view of the world, and their place in it – it seems like they are running their lives, but really there are external, unknown factors making an impact. The reader will be invested irrevocably in the story.

I’ve tagged this as Women’s Fiction, but really that’s quite unfair. This novel is edgy and painful to read, and not soppy at all. It will make you hurt in the end, even if you are ambivalent about some of the characters.

I was on the edge of my seat towards the end. I couldn’t put it down and I stayed up far too late to see the ending. The ending was inevitable, and yet at the same time it had a twist that the reader might have seen coming. Oooh, spine-shiveringly good.

I think that I may need to revise my ratings system of 5 stars if I am going to reread it. I’m giving this novel 5 stars because it made me cry, and it made me feel everything that the women were going through.

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

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Review: Georgia Clark – the regulars

the regulars
Georgia Clark

Pretty. It’s a purple liquid that can change the way you look without diets or face lifts. It gives you a whole new body with just one explosive session in the bathroom. The catch? It only lasts for 7 days, and it gives you a body so good that no one ever recognises you so you have to make a new identity for yourself. It’s another chance to do things over.

31119267This is some Women’s Fiction with a bite! This actually clearly attempts to take down societal norms, even if it is in-you-face with obviousness of what is being taken down. There’s a lot of drama, some of which is probably needless, and that fits in with this genre too. Contrary to normal for me though, I actually really enjoyed this novel.

Now that I looked at other reviews, I realised that the three main characters are a little cliched in the roles they have in life and what they have done with them (angry lesbian, tortured artist and reckless actress). For that, I docked a little bit of my love without even realising it. It could have taken someone REALLY ugly in my opinion and fixed that. Also, it could have followed up with Penny more and the biology/origins of Pretty.

I’m giving this 4 stars because I enjoyed reading it so much. Ok, so the characters weren’t unique, and the plot line was a bit transparent, but it made me laugh with the absurdity of some of what happened. It’s not quite a ‘light beach read’ as some might say, but it is light-hearted enough for pure enjoyment.

4star

Simon & Schuster | 1 August 2016 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Kim Hooper – People Who Knew Me

People Who Knew Me
Kim Hooper

Emily Morris married young from college and set out to support her husband’s needs first. After his business fails and his ailing mother moves in with them, Emily needs a break. one so drastic that she pretends she is dead and moves to an entirely different city.

People Who Knew Me - Cover ImageUnfortunately the blurb gave away pretty much everything in the past sections of the novel. I was promised a suspenseful novel, but from the outset I knew what would probably happen. Then, finally, I HATED the ending of this novel.

Emily, I wanted to care for you. I understood what was wrong with you. I was happy with your affair. I was happy with your new life. I can’t see what made you do those final things. Ugh. There’s a good reason you walked away. Bad Emily. Why you so stupid? Why must you annoy me so much?

3 stars from me. I’m going to put this in line with Promise, as another ‘Women’s Fiction’ novel that could have been amazing but just didn’t hit all the right notes.

3star

Pan Macmillan | May 2016 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Valerie Davisson – Forest Park

Forest Park
Valerie Davisson

Logan loves her new job, and can’t wait to learn more from pioneers in the area. Little does she know that a Vietnamese family will take her heart, and that she will be lost in a mystery while losing her faith in men once again.

28230074What sold the first novel to me was missing in this novel. While there were interlocking storylines, it didn’t ‘have the mystery of the first novel. It also lapsed back into too descriptive prose – the one line that has stuck with me is that Logan wears Burt’s Bees Cranberry flavour.

It had potential with everything, yet failed to deliver. Logan, where is your head? Why can’t you just talk to people? The passive-aggressive ignoring is not doing you any favours. What kind of woman are you anyway? And honestly, you didn’t do any mystery solving this time.

As for the last novel (sorry to keep comparing them), the title of this novel means very little. Much of the action appears to take place in Logan’s head and bedroom, rather than in the park the novel is named for. In fact, the park doesn’t seem to play a big role until somewhere near the end, and it seems like an afterthought.

I was really excited for this novel, and then turned out very disappointed. I’m tempted to give only 2 stars, but it wasn’t that badly written compared to some stuff I have read recently. Perhaps if you REALLY think you might like it, or have already been invested in Logan by Shattered, give it a read.

3star
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Review: Norma Jennings – Passenger from Greece

Passenger from Greece
Norma Jennings

Olivia Reed wanted to see the world – so she chose the career of a flight attendant. A brush with death ignites a romance that she wasn’t expecting – but it’s complicated with her work and family expectations.

26865265Dear me. This novel. Where to start with its faults. There weren’t enough clues for the reader to really feel like they were on the scene. I was told how to feel about every situation, I didn’t need to think for myself. Again, the blurb gives away too much of the novel contents.

Romance hey? ‘The One’? Ugh. The sex scene in this was just awkward, and I swiftly skipped the pages. This must be a woman’s fiction romance, but I expect more from my characters. Do you have no backbone? Oh wait, you do, but I’m still not convinced. You’re so gullible! And oh, you trusty friend, why didn’t I love you before?

I couldn’t have cared less what they ate! The amount of time spent looking at and eating food could have been used on developing the characters and trying to get me to be more sympathetic about their problems.

I couldn’t get why they were so terrified of drug smugglers. Surely they could have just been more calm about it? Stop touching the evidence guys! And for goodness sakes, stop acting so guilty! How dumb can you be?

The plot was completely transparent, and not in a good way. Hmm, I wonder which of the tiny cast of characters might be at fault? Way too easy to answer. I think it was the blurb that waned me off. It wanted to tackle too many issues without enough substance in its characters.

It’s a bad sign when I want to fill a review with rhetorical questions. A really, really bad sign. I put off reading this for months, and I fully understand why I did. I read it so that I wouldn’t need to bring it home with me from my overseas trip. 1 star. Don’t waste your time.

1star

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