Lex Tyler is ready to go back to work, adorable baby Gigi at her side. There’s only one small problem – her job is killing people off for Platform Eight, a division of Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Her newest assignment is to infiltrate a group of London’s elite mummies with Gigi in order to kill off a Russian patriot.
I read about half this novel while waiting for the action to begin. I’m sorry, I just don’t find it that entertaining that she forgot nipple pads, and whether breast milk has DNA in it. I continued reading after a month or two had passed and still felt underwhelmed. The ending promised to have a little more action in it, but in the end it felt rushed and unfinished. I needed significantly more shadowing throughout the novel to feel convinced about the betrayals…
The sexist language and swearing doesn’t add anything to the story, it just made me cringe in revulsion. I fully understand that being a ‘Rat’ would be dominated by men with crude language, but I’m also certain that I’d rather Lex showed a bit more restraint with her own language at home!
I really like the idea behind this novel which pokes fun at the problems women have at work after going back when they have had a baby. Lex meets them with ?style? and tries to smack preconceptions out of the boys’ heads. What could be worse than going back to killing after giving birth to a new life? This novel reminded me of The Thief of Light – the protagonist is a woman doing a man’s job better than him and paying the price for it.
I don’t understand why Lex is so relaxed about Will and Gigi being at home by themselves. If it’s so easy for her to break into houses better guarded than her own, wouldn’t she feel more anxious about hunting a Russian oligarch?
Anyway, this novel’s slow start/finish/entirety and crude conversations leads me to give it a 3 star rating. I’m certain I have read another novel similar to it, but better executed – does anyone else remember?
Allen & Unwin | 25th July 2018 | AU$29.99 | paperback
We See the Stars
Kate van Hooft
Simon doesn’t say much. Anything, really. He’s quiet and has to count colours in order to keep the angries in. When his new teacher shows interest in him, and he makes friends with the peculiar Cassie he begins to speak. But will he choose the right things to say?
The blurb promises that Simon will have to hunt for his teacher, but the majority of the novel is really about getting to know Simon and understand his relationship with the world. I actually really enjoyed Simon’s unique perspective. It’s exactly how I would imagine thoughts to be of a mildly autistic child (in my limited, and purely academic knowledge that is). I liked each of the small parts that came together to understand his worldview, and how he saw other people and imagined his insides reacting to different situations.
What ended up frustrating me was that there were many unresolved questions and perhaps too many character relationships. I like that it is all through Simon’s perspective and therefore it wouldn’t be appropriate to expose everything, but I would have liked to know if his mother was even still alive!
I didn’t understand the ending. Up to that point, I had been able to take all of Simon’s quirks in stride and work out what was the ‘real world’ or just fantasy. But the last couple of (negative number) chapters confused me and left me feeling incomplete and unsatisfied with this novel.
The majority of this novel deserves 4 stars for its compelling and unique reading, but the ending takes down the novel as a whole to 3 stars. Please author, please consider writing me a better ending. I didn’t find solutions to all the problems I saw. A similar novel was The Sign which had an equally disappointing ending.
Allen & Unwin | 27th July 2018 | AU$29.99 | paperback
The Thief of Light
Carrie is a rookie cop determined to become a Detective. Imagine her delight when it looks like a serial killer is once again on the loose in her tiny township. Assisted by the grumpy Chief Bill Waylon and the tortured Jacob Rein, can Carrie find the killer in time?
I’m surprised they managed to catch the killer as they were so busy swearing at each other and cracking stupid jokes. I never got Carrie’s motivation for being a cop and her naivety and bright-eyed shine weren’t authentic. It seemed to me that there was a huge focus on the previous child serial killer, but I struggled to work out what the gory details really were.
It swapped unpredictably through the perspectives and I don’t get why that was useful. I didn’t get any additional insight from the Chief. The only one that was useful was from Rein, that dark tortured soul that the book’s worth rides on! Otherwise Carrie’s inauthentic babbling would have done the job.
It was tense but I lost hope early on. I fully expected more deaths to take place. 3 deaths wasn’t nearly enough. The ending was a let down. All that chasing and it turns out to be the 2nd person they tried. I expected more. I knew everyone would survive.
I just noticed that this is the first book in a series with Rein. I wouldn’t expect Rein to feature again – after all he’s lost an important appendage! I wouldn’t be averse to reading another novel by this author, I’m just not sure I can put up with Carrie being so bright and bubbly (and insensitive in her own way).
3 stars from me. If you’re looking for serial killers, try Find You in the Dark or the Kendra novels.
Penguin Random House | 20th August 2018 | AU$32.99 | paperback
Princess Theodosia has been a captive since she was six and is Princess in name only. Brought out on State occasions dressed sumtiously but with an ash crown, Theo is punished for any uprisings by her people. When she is offered the chance to escape, she can’t decide whether to stay or go.
I found this novel lacking and predictable. Of COURSE she’s going to fall for an inconvenient guy. OF COURSE she’s suddenly going to gain a backbone. Theo is a perfectly fine protagonist, but she’s just not believable. Her behaviour, particularly when she betrays someone close to her, is just repulsive. I couldn’t get behind her quick changes in personality and pathetic excuses either.
Perhaps I can say something positive about the world-building. I certainly could imagine the confines of Theo’s room, with the Shadow’s niches all around, but the world outside that was opaque. Perhaps this was deliberate on the author’s part to make the reader feel like they too were trapped in the castle. I’d like to give the benefit of doubt here, since otherwise the scenery was nice.
It’s a 3 star novel for me. I have just reread Amy Tintera’s Ruina series which has a similar princess/prince storyline, and honestly it is far better executed! Go and get your hands on Ruina (and its sequels) and don’t bother with Ash Princess.
Pan Macmillan | 24th April 2018 | AU$16.99 | paperback
Inside the Tiger
Bel needs a social cause to support for a project at school. Rather than following in her father’s footsteps to promote harsher penalties for murderers, she chooses to write to a prisoner in the notorious Thailand ‘Tiger’ prison. Little does she know that she’s going to get in deeper than she imagined…
Bel is a likeable character, but it does feel a bit like ‘insta-love’. She falls really quickly for a boy she knows nothing about. I find it noble that she doesn’t care what Micah has done, but at the same time – wake up! Your own life should have tipped you off that nothing is what it seems.
I could have had more opinions from characters other than Bel. Bel seems to feel so sorry for herself all the time because she has a single parent who is busy all the time. I’m sorry, you have some really great friends and you’ve had this Christmas every year! Although Bel learns to speak up for what she wants, in the end she’s a pushover who somehow connives people into doing what she wants.
The ending is just as it should be. Good work Lawrence – it might not have been the ending we wanted, but it was the one we needed (I can’t remember what that’s from, but it’s a cliche sort of morning. It’s nice not to have a sugar coated ending.
I’m giving this 3 stars. I can’t say I was enthralled by it, but it wasn’t a bad read. It provides an interesting teenage insight into one of the toughest prisons in the world, with the most antiquated penalties.
Penguin Random House | 3rd September 2018 | AU$19.99 | paperback
Bluebelle is fat, and not afraid or ashamed to admit it. She loves food in every way, and she’s determined to not go back to school, instead applying for an apprenticeship at Planet Coffee. To negotiate with her mom, Bluebelle finds herself forced into doing a food diary.
This was an average novel with a meandering storyline that had me losing interest about half way through (and thus pausing to write this review). BB was a lovable, cuddly protagonist and it was certainly comforting to read a fat-positive novel for once. However, she IS unhealthily fat and I’m not sure I can give completely positive feedback to a novel that initially promotes it.
It was unclear to me how much of the text was food diary, and how much was actually narrative. Some of the things BB wrote in her food diary were a lot more suited to a general diary, not a food one! That ‘boyfriend’ of hers was so slow and BB’s reactions so cliche that I figured it couldn’t possibly be written in a food diary – but lo and behold it was!
Confession: I skimmed to finish reading this novel. I don’t want to condemn it to 2 stars despite that, because I’ve just come back from vacation and I literally have a stack TBR of higher than a meter and other things just look more exciting. BB’s redemption and joining a gym, precipitated by the big family upset were ok, but not compelling.
I’d recommend reading Holding Up the Universe or Pretty Girls Don’t Eat before diving into this novel. Their protagonists have more depth, and overall the love stories, while taking a backseat, are more intriguing and believable. I’ll give it 3 stars because it could have finished strongly – but I wasn’t going to hang around to find out when there were better things on offer.
Allen & Unwin | 23rd May 2018 | AU$19.99 | paperback
Joni’s family struggles to pay the rent and Joni wants to keep her family together. All she wants is to send her little brother to camp by working more hours at the library, but the invasion of the region’s rich girl Annabel is going to disrupt more than that plan.
Oh Joni, why are you so blind? Why are you so stubborn? Why can’t you just let things go and see further than the end of your nose? You certainly don’t fly higher because your feet are firmly on the ground and your head is either fixed on them or glaring into someone’s face.
I was frustrated by Joni’s attitude towards everything in life. I appreciated her concern for her little brother and her disappointment in the rest of her family, but I just feel irritated and angry that she didn’t actually think about what those things might mean.
Once again, being gay is something to be frowned upon and it overshadows the rest of the novel, which I thought was actually more important. People losing jobs and their housing is a big problem, and it’s not often explored in young adult fiction. I always hope for novels that could reflect a teenager’s life and this one had the beginnings of it.
A confession to be made that it has been at least 2 months since I read this novel and so it has become a bit hazy in my head. However past me gave it 3 stars, so I’m going to roll with that rating.
Bloomsbury | 1st July 2018 | AU$16.99 | paperback
Stephanie Plum series
Stephanie Plum is a terrible daughter, neighbour and employee. Most of these qualities are due to the fact that she’s employed as a bounty hunter for bail jumpers – but leaves her cell phone flat and her gun in the cookie jar. This lovable/hateable unlikely heroine regularly finds herself being shot at but with the help of her love interests Morelli the cop and Ranger the sexy beast, and her ex-ho friend Lula she’ll live to fight another day.
You don’t need to have read the first novel in the series. You don’t need to have read any of the series in the middle to the novel you’ve gotten your hands on! Evanovich sets the scene of Stephanie very simply at the beginning of every novel. In the past, I read Turbo Twenty-Three without having touched the novels before! I read 5 or so of these in a row before I couldn’t take anymore.
Steph is so clueless, and the jokes so stupid and the badguys so unbelievable it just makes you laugh the whole way through. The novels are set up in such a way that the reader can predict the ending but Steph is left wandering around in the dark (literally, half the time). When she got the dog, Bob, the funniest moments were when he ate too much and she took him to poop on her arch-nemesis’ front lawn. So I’m not immune to toilet humour, sue me. I can’t believe they made this into a movie! I fear for my eyeballs.
This is just like the Mercedes Thompson novels I just read! A cruisy light read that encourages your brain to switch off for vacation time. However, the plot and execution of the Mercedes Thompson series is more my style in the end (also, there is 25+ novels in that series!).
I’ll be giving three stars to this harmless crime-romance series. Just don’t read too many in a row or your brain may fall out from Steph’s sheer stupidity.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
Amy E Reichert
Chef Lou Johnson loves her restaurant, is relatively happy with her fiance and is lined up for a comfortable holding pattern for the rest of her life. When she bakes a Coconut Cake for her fiance but instead finds him naked with an intern. That night, a anonymous food writer comes to review her restaurant – where Lou is burning and destroying dishes left right and centre. His resulting review starts a breakup in Lou’s life – but the new man she’s met could be a catalyst for positive change.
This is the second novel in a row that I have read about food. Clearly I was feeling hungry when I went to the GoodWill to pick out some new holiday reading. The feel of this novel was quite different to the last one though, because here there are more secrets being hidden. Also the life of a small business owner chef is very different to that of a personal chef. When I go out to a meal, I want to order something I couldn’t make for myself – and the things described in these delectable pages were certainly of that nature.
I love the way that the secondary characters got some proper airtime and were fleshed out as characters. I could almost see the burly Harley in the kitchen delicately sculpting impeccable fragile desserts, and see John’s beard oer the writers’ cubicles! I could have had more airtime of them, and I wouldn’t even mind another novel focusing on John now that he is going to Paris. He’s a secondary character who deserves a life.
I appreciated the ending of this novel, and the nice little twist. I like it when things don’t work out neatly. It wasn’t too cloying, as long as you are ok with some fate and ending up with “the One” no matter what! I almost cried because I was so attached to the older couple in the novel.
3 stars from me. I have no strong urge to read it again, but it was an excellent escapism read that prompted me to keep reading it because of the suspense Devlin brought to the restaurant’s survival.
Mercedes Thompson series
Mercedes Thompson, or Mercy to her friends, is a VW mechanic who just happens to have a werewolf for a roommate and a pack of werewolves for back neighbours. She also happens to be able to turn into a Coyote. Somehow she manages to get herself into multiple scrapes with vampires, the Government and the Fae despite wanting a quiet life.
I gobbled up 4-5 of these novels without taking notes on each one, so this is a group novel review. The picture to the left is actually the first novel in the series that I didn’t actually read (I just grabbed one off the shelf in a hurry and didn’t even realise it was part of a series). No matter, the novel stood well alone.
This is a fun set of novels because I wasn’t ever really sure what would happen next, and Mercy was a funny and engaging protagonist that resonated with me. Nothing like having a no-nonsense mechanic as a heroine. It reminds me of Mercedes Lackey’s Elves on the Road universe but seems to be a lot funnier with a better focus on the semi-human protagonist (but let’s admit that there is less substance to Briggs’ work).
I’ll give these novels a rousing 3 stars. If I owned them, I’d probably keep them on the shelf as light reading when I couldn’t be bothered with something that needed a brain and offered simple entertainment.