Review: Robin Storey – An Affair with Danger

An Affair with Danger
Robin Storey

Will is held up in an armed robbery, and can no longer think straight. His life as a lawyer should have prepared for the court to stand witness, but instead he finds himself falling for the perp’s girlfriend, Frankie. What follows is an affair that is perhaps a little dangerous.

The author gets points for making the novel potentially race along, skipping years where necessary to make the plot move. What redeemed this novel a little was the writing style, and the gentle nature of the male protagonist. He wasn’t all macho, which made it a refreshing change from other romance novels. Not to mention it was a MALE protagonist, which is rare in this genre.

This was a throwaway novel. It’s nothing special, I’m sorry to say. Where it fails is that it didn’t leave me with a sense of having gained anything in reading it. I didn’t get attached enough to the characters, I didn’t learn anything particularly pertinent about being a lawyer. It left me feeling lukewarm, with the romance/affair not being ‘throbbing’ enough to keep my attention.

This author did send me this novel off her own bat, and has spent a very unfair amount of time waiting for this review. I also interviewed her back in 2016. It makes me wish I could have gotten more out of the novel and given it a more positive review. I’m going to give it a lower end of a 3 star review, because I did finish reading it.

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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: Wolf Hollow – Lauren Wolk

Wolf Hollow
Lauren Wolk

Annabelle is a quiet sort of girl, happy to travel along in life with her friend Ruth, going to school and being educated. Once Betty comes to town though, everything changes. Betty isn’t nice, or kind – she seems set on killing someone. When she disappears, somehow it becomes Annabelle’s job to keep the local loner alive.

Let me start out by saying that the cover did not fill me with joy. I can’t resist reading any words that come past my nose, so I fully expected that something good would come from it. Instead, despite being promised that she would ‘earn her keep’, her role turned out to be useless.

Annabelle is ok as a character, and her actions in her relationships with her parents are believable. However, I had problems with the way she treated the bullying because it was clear that bodily harm was going to occur. If she had spoken up quicker, a lot less misery would have occurred.

This novel was far too slow to keep my interest. I struggled to pick it up, and it was far too easy to put it down again. Although the pace sped up in the last couple of chapters it was too late to redeem the novel for me.

Although I was erring on the side of 3 stars after finishing the novel, writing this review has crystallized it as only 2 stars. I just couldn’t love it, or Annabelle. Others have compared this to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ but I think this is weaker by far.

Penguin Random House | 3rd May 2016 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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Review: Amy Lukavics – the Women in the Walls

the Women in the Walls
Amy Lukavics

Lucy’s life should have been one of luxury – living on an estate with a long history and almost limitless parties, homeschooled to keep away from the ‘common people’. Lucy’s mother is dead though, and her Aunt has just wandered off into the woods. Then her cousin starts hearing voices and her life rapidly gets more confusing.

I was afraid of this novel to start off with. What could be more creepy than dead people whispering in the walls? Then I realised that Lucy wasn’t the one hearing the voices, and it distanced me from the whole situation. I couldn’t bring myself to care about Margaret – although Lucy professed to be worried about her, she didn’t do anything. The threat of discovery for Lucy’s ‘little secret’ surely could have been enough to get her sent away to those colleges she was obsessed with?

For a 17 year old, Lucy sure spooked pretty easily. I tried to suspend my disbelief, but I just couldn’t hold on to it. Ok, so you’re homeschooled and lived isolated on this estate for your whole life. But really? You’re just going to accept that the police haven’t been called? Don’t you have access to a phone? It seems to me like there really is more that you should have done.

The finale? I was hoping it would redeem the whole novel, but it simply failed to conclude or give evidence of why spending time reading this novel was worth it. Maybe an epilogue could have saved it? Don’t get me wrong, I love an unhappy ending, but this one needed a bit more flare.

I’m giving this two stars, although I really wanted to give up on it. I invested in those first couple of chapters as wanting something exciting to happen, then spent the rest of the novel feeling cheated. I wouldn’t recommend this one.

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

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Review: RJ Bailey – Safe From Harm

Safe From Harm
RJ Bailey

Sam Wylde is a Protective Officer for the rich and famous. With army combat experience behind her and a few bonus skills, Sam must try to protect those she is working for, while also protecting her own family.

This novel was a disappointment. It could have been written as a psychological thriller and been much more effective while still using the same plot points. As it was, the slow pacing and flashbacks/flashforwards destroyed the novel and any hope of me enjoying it.

Sam strikes me as quite dumb really. She doesn’t question anything she should perhaps should, despite being ‘the best in the business’. Being aware of what could go wrong should be able to save her right? Or maybe the point the author is trying to make is that it is impossible to foresee anything correctly.

I’m giving this two miserable stars. Although I am not a connoisseur of novels that have a self-trained woman as a person protector, I don’t think that this one is a good one. Look elsewhere for someone to ‘keep you safe from harm’.

Simon & Schuster | 1st February 2017 | AU $29.99 | Paperback

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Review: Julia Lawrinson – before you forget

before you forget
Julia Lawrinson

Amelia lives for her Art and her best friend Gemma. Sure, her teacher hates what she does, but she still has her parents intact. Her dad’s memory seems to have been going down hill since she started high school though, and lately it has gotten much worse.

I was utterly disappointed in this novel. There’s no true picture of what was ‘special’ about Amelia before this point in time. I’ve read plenty of novels that have the tortured artist as the main character, and this is just another of them.

I can’t believe Amelia just ignores everything that is going on with her best friend. How could she possibly miss that? How can she be so self-centred when her friend is in danger? Not to mention her crazy behaviour regarding Poppy. She seriously wasn’t thinking there. For a 17 year old, unless I am absolutely out of touch, she’s an incapable idiot.

This novel was not ‘ultimately uplifting’, it was a joke of a novel which perhaps tried to tackle too many issues at once without giving any of them the treatment they deserved. The part of this novel that I appreciated the most was the delicate friendship that developed between Will and Amelia. There wasn’t any ‘insta-love’, and Amelia appeared to have her head on straight for once.

I’ll give it 3 stars because I’m feeling generous and it wasn’t a complete failure as I finished reading it without too much complaint. There are better things out there though, and I’d suggest unbecoming as a start for memory loss, and Scars or hold still for a tortured artist.

Penguin Random House | 30 January 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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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: Matthew J. Kirby – Assassin’s Creed Last Descendants

Assassin’s Creed Last Descendants
Matthew J. Kirby

Cole wants to exonerate his dad of a crime, and he thinks the answer might be in his DNA. The Animus offered to him by the IT guy at school might give him access to his dad’s memory of the day. Unfortunately, instead Cole gets caught up with finding the Trident of Eden – and being hunted down by both Assassins and the Templars.

28691917The novel’s characters didn’t fill out for me. I remember Sean’s name. That’s it. I had to recheck the blurb to remember the other characters, even the ‘main’ character, Cole.

This read really oddly to me. The story felt empty, with a plot that played out very simply. I can’t explain my feelings exactly, but for me, I think this novel was too opaque to work. As far as I can see, it is written for the very specific audience of people who have played the video game of this.

I don’t know how this fits into the Assassin’s Creed universe, but other reviewers have talked passionately enough about how epic the video games are, and how epically well this novel fits into the universe. I’d strongly advise checking out some other reviews on this one.

This is aimed at YA readers officially, but to me it was more of a teenage fiction novel. There just wasn’t enough depth in any of the characters, and the hints of romance and violence that would make it necessary to classify this as a YA novel were not big enough.

I’m certain this novel has a place somewhere, it’s just not with me. Maybe for fans of the game that don’t recognise reading as a valid past-time? I wouldn’t recommend it for a strong reader, it doesn’t have enough sustenance for them. I”m giving it 3 stars – well written, but just not compelling.

3star

Scholastic | 1st September 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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Review: Mark Tedeschi – Kidnapped

Kidnapped
Mark Tedeschi

This novel covers Australia’s first and only kidnapping to date – Graeme Thorne was kidnapped for ransom because of his parents winning the Opera House Lottery. Unfortunately his kidnapper, Stephen Bradley killed him by accident and the ransom could never be paid. Fortunately, Bradley was eventually caught and sentenced to life for this crime.

kidnapped-the-crime-that-shocked-the-nation-9781925456349_lgSo you might think I have given away the whole novel with my opening paragraph – but in fact, you know all of that information almost from just reading the blurb and reading the first chapter. That alone would have killed the novel for me.

I picked this novel up from someone else’s TBR pile from publishers, because I was getting into crime and was excited to get my hands on some more Australian fiction. I should have known better perhaps. I so wanted to like it though!

This crime was one of the first to be solved using modern forensic techniques, and that alone should have made it more exciting for me. I like to know the science behind things, such as in Blood Secrets. Instead, I’m sorry. I found this novel utterly boring. I finished it only by skimming the last couple of chapters in despair of something truly exciting happening.

I’ve giving this novel 2 stars. Maybe another person who really REALLY loves true crime fiction will love it, but for me, the outcome was known too quickly and there was no sense of suspense to keep me reading.

2star

Simon & Schuster | December 2015 | $32.99 | Paperback

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Review: Jane Abbott – Elegy

Elegy
Jane Abbott

Cait and Michael have been bound together for an age – yet until this point in time they have just been step sister and brother. After Michael breaks a boy’s arm without even touching him, the family gets into deeper trouble, both in love and in life.

elegy_500-220x340This novel was awful. It was well written and everything, and the dialogue was believable, yet the plot left a lot to be desired. It was repetitive, and didn’t seem to go anywhere. I didn’t feel for any of the characters and the whole lot felt staged.

I could tell that they would die. I’m not going to specify who, but trust me, you’ll see it coming. And then, despite this being the earliest time Michael has come into his power, there is nothing new that happens. To me, the fact that they put other people at risk because of their love is really selfish – if they’re going to do it again and again anyway!

There’s no plot resolution and I was left feeling empty. I had hoped for a fantastic ending that would rescue the novel for me, but it didn’t happen. I didn’t get why Hope was so fantastic a name, or how that soul got there (given the timing and all). Sigh. I’m giving it 2 stars. I’m thinking that I would probably enjoy Abbott’s other novel as her writing style is not what broke this novel.

2starPenguin Random House | 29 August 2016 | AU $19.99 | Paperback

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