Review: Leah Thomas – Because You’ll Never Meet Me

Because You’ll Never Meet Me
Leah Thomas

Oliver and Moritz are two unlikely penpals. One has a strange allergy, yet affinity, to electricity. The other’s heartbeat is maintained by a pacemaker, so they can never meet. Although it takes a while for Moritz to warm up to Oliver, the two friends become fast friends – but will they still be able to share their secrets with each other?

I distinctly felt the two writing styles of Oliver and Moritz, and although at first I was worried about a text that consisted of letters the formatting ended up working well (i hate everyone but you got rejected from my bookshelf due to its text/email correspondence)). Even as the characters mature, the text styles stay different enough that it is obvious who is who.

This novel had me invested in the two characters and how they grew as people. At the same time as Oliver learning to focus, Moritz learnt how to reach out to people. I think more could have been made of the ‘superhero’ aspect, but at the same time, the novel was already well focused on their personal struggles. I kept expecting them to start writing a comic together though!

PS: There is a twist you won’t see coming AT ALL. Do tell me what you thought of it!

I can’t wait to read the second novel in this duo, Nowhere Near You. A road trip will be awesome! I put up with reading an eBook of this novel so that I could read its sequel ASAP. I’m giving this 4 stars for an interesting and intriguing storyline.

Review: Kerry Drewery – Day 7

Day 7
Kerry Drewery

At the last moment, Martha Honeydew has been pardoned from Cell 7, because the true killer stepped forth – just as they had always planned. Unfortunately, that’s when the plan stops working because Martha is still a target, and so is everyone she is close to. Will justice be able to be served for anyone?

Honestly, my enthusiasm for this novel waned over time. After reading Cell 7, I was very excited for what could come next. Cell 7 had what I think was a unique approach to crime, even if it was flawed! Day 7 departed from Cell 7 in offering a range of methods for punishing wrong-doers. These are once again flawed towards people that have money being able to push the judgement, and in fact this is used to Martha’s advantage.

I like the understated cover, it reminds me of James Bond films, which traditionally start with Bond looking down the barrel of a gun. This novel doesn’t have quite as much action as all that though. It tries, but with one character in a cell, and the other hidden to avoid being hunted, it’s difficult to have anything other than words exchanged.

Oh Martha, why can’t you just be sensible and stay out of the way? Her sometimes childish behavior, which I wouldn’t expect from someone who has been on death row, put me off her as a heroine. Isaac on the other hand seemed way too laid back about death. Maybe it is possible to lose too much?

I will need to read Final 7, which should be the concluding novel of this trilogy (but you never know). Although Day 7 wasn’t as awesome as Cell 7, I would still like to find out what the conclusion is for Martha and Isaac. Because of this, I will grant this novel 4 stars rather than 3 stars. Funnily enough, the consensus on Goodreads is the same!

Allen & Unwin | 30th August 2017 | AU$19.99 | paperback

Review: Anne McCaffrey – Crystal Singer

Crystal Singer
Anne McCaffrey

Killashandra Ree dreamed of being a diva after ten years of concentrated training. In her final presentation, she’s told she’ll never be anything but a backup singer – so instead she decides to become a Crystal Singer. Few people that land on Ballybran leave, but Killashandra doesn’t care – she just wants to keep singing for her career.

Sitting here reviewing this in fact months after I have read it, I am tempted to read it again. It’s like a much better version of another set of singing novels I attempted a long, long time ago. I don’t seem to have reviewed it, but I think the author was someone Modeste?

Killashandra is a powerful heroine who takes what she wants, even if she tends to be a bit blindsided sometimes. As usual, the protagonist is strongly gifted in something else to make the world revolve around her. She has to work for it though sometimes.

I found the character development in this novel very powerful. I think that without it, this novel would have fallen flat on its face. The environment/world building is quite good, but there is only so much description that you can take about rocks. I also thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of her training – I only wish I could sing rocks!

I confess, this is the first McCaffrey novel I have ever read! And here I am loving dragons. I will now try to make time to get my hands on her other novels and read them. This novel receives 4 stars from me.

Review: Gregg Hurwitz – The Rains

The Rains
Gregg Hurwitz

Chance Rain is just a simple farm-boy with a love of science until the asteroids arrive. Then all the adults turn into zombies, and only children are safe – until they turn 18 of course. With a single adult left to guide them, and a Bully-boy to try to control, can the Rain brothers still make it through and come up with a solution to the invasion?

I was glopping through the mud and becoming numb to the spectacle of adults mapping the ground blindly right from the beginning. I could feel the fear sweat running down my spine. Plus, I loved that joke ‘Rain can only go in one direction – down!’. The the two brothers turn out to be the most hardy of all of the child survivors, but they don’t really know why.

What I didn’t understand was Eve and Chance’s relationship. If Eve was that into Chance, why wouldn’t she go on missions with him? And Chance’s relationship with Alex – well, I thought Alex was a bit of a manipulative survivalist. If the two boys in charge of looking after her are in love, of course they will put her needs first. Smart move.

I also don’t understand why they are so special. Wouldn’t there be kids somewhere else that have taken down a Queen? Or some towns that were smart enough to chop down the poisonous vines before they took over? I feel like there have got to be some parts of the world that are still safe such as Australia. No-one cares about Australia, including aliens most of the time.

I really thought that this novel might be a stand alone, but once again, I was disappointed. However, it looks like a duo, and for some reason, the back cover makes me think that the other one is already out. But how could that be when this one was given to me by publishers? Anyway, the conclusion of this one was quite ok, but then there was a cliffhanger introduced right at the end. If you haven’t picked up this novel yet (or even if you have), I’d recommend waiting until you have that second novel.


This was an unexpectedly good dystopian novel that deserves to be given a chance (haha). 4 stars from me.

Penguin Random House | 2nd January 2017 | AU$19.99 | paperback

Review: Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski – Edgeland

Jake Halpern & Peter Kujawinski

The Drain is designed to take the rich dead through to the afterlife. No-one knows what is actually beyond the drop, but when a death boat accidentally takes a funeral payment with it, Alec and Wren fall in. If they are ever to get out of the Drain they will have to understand its problems and its secrets,

Wren is a plucky heroine that seems to be afraid of nothing except perhaps another betrayal. Alec on the other hand seems a bit wussy to me (which is perfectly ok), but he toughens up and becomes a character you can empathise with. They don’t really know what to expect next, and so neither does the reader.

This reminded me of Nightfall, honestly, which shouldn’t be surprising, as it’s by the same authors. Another novel by them is Dormia, which is also a decent read. But why aren’t they working on the inevitable sequel to Nightfall? There was certainly more there to be explored as well.

I’ll be keeping this novel on my shelf as a 4-star winner. I know some other readers who might enjoy it, and I’d love to get the opportunity to lend it out to them! For a ‘Hot Key’ book, it was very good. I’ve had bad experiences with them before, such as fly on the wall, but these authors kept me much better entertained.

Allen & Unwin | 1st August 2017 | AU $16.99 | paperback

Review: Garth Nix – A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes
Garth Nix

Khemri is Prince. But unfortunately, there are 999 other candidates for Emperor – and the rest are not as new to their roles as he is. With less than 2 years to prepare before the Emperor resigns, Khemri is asked to go on seemingly innocuous missions to prove his worth.

This is a usual good-quality Garth Nix novel that didn’t disappoint me. The main character Khemri certainly develops as a character, and it is interesting to see his progression/regression from Prince to person. Basically Khemri is ripped away from everything that is familiar, and then thrust into a world that not only does he have faulty information about, but also is out to kill him. The ending really came as a surprise to me. Wow!

I confess, I rescued this novel from a garbage bin. My copy was donated to the op-shop where I volunteer, and it was a rather badly beaten up ex-library copy, not even good enough to pass on for a book sale. Never fear though, it will now have a long and healthy life on my shelf.

You could consider this sci-fi, but it is very light sci-fi, perfect for a teenager to get into the genre for the first time. I confess that I am probably too old for this novel now, which is why I have starred this as both 4 and 5 stars. But if I need a light read, and Garth Nix is calling my name, this one might be it (or Eoin Colfer’s The Supernaturalists).

Review: Darren Groth – Exchange of Heart

Exchange of Heart
Darren Groth

Eve’s death has devastated Munro’s life to the point that he’s suffering flashbacks and anger on a daily basis. The voice in his head is constantly taunting him, and the only way to escape seems to be run all the way to Australia on student exchange. A volunteer placement at an assisted living placement shuts up Munro’s little voice some of the time, but can Munro silence it for good?

Hmm, I really wasn’t convinced by Munro’s story about Eve’s death, particularly as it was interspersed with the flashbacks he was having. I also felt that he was suffering from PTSD – why wasn’t anyone helping him with that? Yes, getting away from a situtation will help, but as Munro learns, it can’t fix all the problems.

I read this so long ago, probably when it first came out in July, especially as I had an ARC copy. Thus this review is not as in-depth as it should be. From what I remember, it gave me a lovely warm fuzzy feeling as I was reading. As I dipped back into the novel to refresh my memory, I remembered that there was a nice selection of supporting characters, and his love interest was believable.

I like that it’s not stacked full of ‘Australian vernacular’ like some novels that have an American protagonist. Something about having a protagonist from another country seems to make authors feel that they can get away with ‘G’day’ and a lot of things that regular Auzzies like me don’t even say. Groth is a native Australian.

It’s not a re-read for me, but it was a pretty RAD and AWESOME good book. 4 stars.

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

Review: Julie Israel – Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index
Julie Israel

Juniper’s big sister died, and now Juniper can only keep going by writing down one good thing that happened to her each day. When she finds a letter and loses one of her index cards with a big personal secret on it, the search for it will consume her and influence other aspects of her life.

Isn’t it a bit see-through that the main character falls for a guy totally outside the range of ‘norm’? For some reason, the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘wild guys’ always attract women. The heart wants what it can’t have? Anyway, it was totally predictable for who Paige would end up with, which made it a little more boring.

I wanted more substance, even with the touches on domestic abuse and suicidal thoughts. Give me more details! Make me really feel like I am there in the situation. As it was, I felt too distanced from the action, and it made me not as keen on this book as I could have been.

I let this novel sit for quite a while. A very long while, given that it was published in July and it’s now September! It didn’t help that I was out of the mood of writing reviews and instead just gobbling up novels. The title reminded me a bit of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Also, sure, Juniper Lemon was the main character, but was it important to put it in the title? But I digress…

I didn’t cry in this novel, despite it potentially being heart-wrenching, but it was a good enough read nevertheless. Maybe almost 4 stars? I didn’t put it down while I was reading it anyway. Maybe I am suffering from a case of having read too many YA novels back to back, and getting really picky about them! I look forward to more novels from the author.

Penguin Random House | 3rd July 2017 | AU $17.99 | paperback

Review: Karen M McManus – One of Us is Lying

One of Us is Lying
Karen M McManus

Five students walk into detention, but only four emerge. That student has been murdered – and there are four easy marks for the likely murderer. All of them have something to hide which might damage their careers and lives forever. But who is guilt? Who would stoop to murder to hide their secrets?

This novel was satisfyingly sneaky. The reader just keeps waiting for the penny to drop – and it never does! There’s hints of things that are awry, but I found myself always expecting one of the five suspects to make a mistake. It’s told from their point of views, but many other novels can successfully hide secrets from the reader by suppressing the thoughts of the character (such as in Breaking).

I think that the police can’t possibly be as dumb as they are always made out to be. Yes, yes, you have a very convenient scapegoat, but due diligence still says that they should be doing their jobs. Maybe I just don’t understand it because in Australia police generally have well defined roles, and I’d like to hesitate a guess that they might have less cases like this to deal with?

Despite this novel being of the general YA variety, it took me some time to pick up and read it. I picked this up, and then I put it down. It took me two attempts at reading it before I really got into it. I struggled a little with keeping the characters straight in the beginning, but I eventually worked it out. I think that’s what put me off picking it up in the first place, and also the cover reminded me of The Leaving, which I really didn’t enjoy. Sorry for judging you by your cover, novel!

Sorry to everyone who isn’t interested in YA novels. I’m STILL getting through the backlog from when I was finishing my PhD (you can call me Dr. Rose now), and I tended to read ‘easy novels’ that I could read and digest rapidly. Anywho, I still have at least 15 reviews to come from novels I have already read (I’m writing this review in late November btw), and the majority are YA.

Penguin Random House | 29th May 2017| | AU $17.99 | paperback

Review: Emery Lord – the start of me and you

the start of me and you
Emery Lord

Paige only dated her first boyfriend for two months before he drowned. Her life is filled with pitying looks from sympathetic strangers – which she doesn’t feel like she deserves. When she decides that this year is the year to get her life going forwards again, she makes a list of increasingly unlikely things to do.

This novel was engaging, powerful and awesome! I’m not sure that it was quite on the same level as When We Collided or The Names They gave Us though. I wasn’t expecting to see another novel from Emery Lord so soon, and I worry about the push by someone to churn out too many novels.

It seems like teenagers constantly forget that other people have feelings! Was I ever like that? Everyone makes mistakes, especially when they don’t know what first love looks like. The heart leads everyone so falsely! Not to mention the dangers of keeping a journal.

I enjoyed reading about Paige, but I did wish that there was a little more substance to her. It’s hard to explain, but she didn’t feel as real to me as some other characters. I also would have benefitted from a bit more about the motivations of the other characters, but it’s hard to see that in a first-person narrative.

Past me, you’re a terrible person. All I can remember after having left this review too late is that it left me wanting to cry in parts, and to celebrate in others. That’s ok! I’ll just pick it up and flick through it…. several hours later. Oops? I reread it. I guess that gives it 5 stars… but I’d recommend reading her other two novels first if you have limited reading time.

Bloomsbury | 1st November 2017 | AU $14.99 | paperback