Category Archives: Book Review

Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre

Image Description: book cover of Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre. The book-cover depicts a shadowy silhouette in the mid-background standing on a long concrete driveway/runway, behind the shadowy silhouette is a CBD landscape (lots of differently shaped buildings). The cover looks like it was a photo taken from the passenger seat of a car. The cover also has a blue tint over the whole cover with the title of the book in yellow text and white text for the author title.
Title: Want You Gone (Book #8 of the Jack Parlabane Series)
Author: Christopher Brookmyre
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

About The Book:
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

General Observations:
~Engaging Plot: The plot is excellent, the pacing is brilliant, and the chapters are revealing enough but not too much. Those last few chapters with Sam and Jack separating had me enthralled, I just had to how they resolved the issue and what happened next.

~Dual Narration: This audio-book has two narrators, a female voice-actor for chapters from Sam’s point of view and a male voice-actor for chapters from Jack’s point of view, I felt that the two voice-actors working together captured the two distinct characters view-points and worked well together.

~Character Development: Sam is a character who spends a lot of time inside her own head,
chapters exploring her character could have been boring, but the interesting thing about Sam is that how she is online is very different to her IRL experience, something Sam has a keen awareness of. It’s great to see such a young woman of colour presented as flawed but relatable dealing with realistic problems and under goes a huge amount of positive character development. I don’t want to spoil too much but Sam definitely earns her happy ending.

By contrast, it’s kind of enjoyable to see a character like Jack brought down to normal, one of the joys of Adulthood is the level of freedom an adult has, and it’s good that Jack is reminded over the course of the novel that freedom may be a right, but it’s also a privilege. I really enjoyed Jack’s partnership with Sam, they fed off each other’s strengths and (once they put their egos and personal feelings aside) they worked well together and were engaging to read.

~Problematic Elements – Bullying: Through out the novel, Sam is regularly bullied by a group of girls, predominately the leader of the pack which is Keisha. After a bad bullying session, Sam gets revenge on Keisha, which results in an incident of major public humiliation for Keisha, this results in Keisha making a suicide attempt and ends up hospitalised.

When Sam finds out what Keisha has done because of her actions, Sam feels bad about it (because she’s not a terrible person), Sam feels remorseful for her actions. But Keisha is never really held accountable for her shitty behaviour. What Sam did was not okay and definitely unacceptable behaviour, but it’s presented in an unequal manner, the character resolution between Sam and Keisha is a False Equivalence.

I had planned to do a YouTube Video about this particular problematic element of the book, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I disliked how the situation was resolved between Keisha and Sam, and I’ll leave it at that.

All in all, a contemporary crime novel solved by combining hacking skills and investigative journalism, the plot is intriguing and has good development, and if it wasn’t for the problematic bullying issues, I’d have given this five stars.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible| Book Depository | Kobo Books

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin

Title: Knots and Crosses (Book #1 of the Inspector Rebus Series)
Author: Ian Rankin
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents. He recently received the OBE for services to literature, and opted to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.

About The Book:
Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

General Observation:
~Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two main plots going on this novel: the first one is the missing persons/murder case and the second plot is the drug trade operation that Rebus’s brother is involved in. From the beginning, the two plots don’t seem related at all, but as the novel progresses, the reader discovers just how interconnected these two plots are.
The plotting in general is phenomenal, all of the flashbacks and things mentioned link back to each other. In saying that, I do feel as though Rebus’s confusion and hesitation to seek out a hypnotist in the first place was a little drawn out, it could have been sped up a little.

~Multiple Points of View: Ian Rankin, while excellent at plot, is very character-orientated and If there is one detraction from this novel is that there are so many points of view. Some of them are necessary to further the plot, but some of the alternative points of view (like the reporter) helped to slow down the pace of the plot, rather than make the story more complicated and interesting, however, I’m willing to recognise that this could just be me. Maybe the reporter character has more relevance in later books.

~A Product of It’s Time: While it’s pretty clear early on that Inspector John Rebus is suffering from PTSD, the reader isn’t privy to all the details at first, but over the course of the novel, the PTSD and Dissociation that Rebus has been experiencing is explained (let’s just say, shit gets dark very quickly).
Nowadays, there are rules and procedures put in place to prevent this sort of situation from occurring. People in Rebus’s line of work (including social workers and nurses) would be given regular psyche evaluations and regular therapy sessions to manage PTSD (or at least this is the case in Australia).

All in all, it has a great plot, combined with an in-depth look at an interesting main-character, which has resulted in a great start to an interesting Scottish Crime series, I’m looking forward to Hide and Seek, the second book in the series.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains scenes I would describe as torture and military violence, as two characters are treated like Prisoners of War in a Terrorist Camp, the actions in those scenes are described in graphic detail.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Bleach – Volume 1 by Tite Kubo

Image Description: the book-cover of Bleach Volume 1 by Tite Kubo. The cover is a mostly white background with an adolescent male with orange hair wearing a black robe and pulling a sword out of a sheath.
Title: Bleach – Volume 1
Author: Tite Kubo
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Viz Media
Format and Price: Paperback at $10.56
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Tite Kubo, the son of a town council member in Fuchu, Aki District, Hiroshima. He never took drawing seriously until he was 17; after reading Dragon Ball he knew he wanted to be a manga artist. At the age of 18 he submitted his first concept for the series Zombiepowder but it got rejected. Zombiepowder was rejected multiple times until Kubo was 22, when it finally was accepted by Shonen Jump. It did not last long; it was cancelled after four volumes in late 2000. His next series, Bleach, about a high school student who becomes a shinigami and fights hollows, was not such a failure. Bleach began regular publication in 2001. It has been running in Weekly Shonen Jump ever since.

About The Book:
Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach , has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.

General Observations:
~Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The series Bleach is very Action orientated (lots of fight scenes) but the story itself is more Character orientated, when Tite Kubo focuses on specific characters, he does a great job, but the plot is slow. In fact, with Bleach, there are a lot of subtle hints and clues that a first-time reader might not necessarily pick up. There’s also a lot of back-story and character history that is only hinted at within the first three volumes, but it does get explained and does make sense.

~I Found This Humerus: While there are lots of good fight scenes (if that’s what you’re into), it’s the wide range of humour that I enjoy the most about this series. As the series progresses, it does get Darker and Edgier, so the humour balances things out.

~Long Term Commitment: While I think highly of the Bleach Manga series, I did stop reading the series half-way through The Lost Agent Arc. This is for multiple reasons, the primary reason being Arc Fatigue and the fact that the reader in dumped right into the middle of a time-skip and I was introduced to a whole bunch of new characters (via an organization called “Xcution”) that I cared very little for (mind you, this is at least 50 volumes into a 74 Volume series). I’m going to attempt to read it from the beginning.

All in all, it’s a good action urban fantasy with a super intricate plot, and I am happy to recommend.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Dying In The Wool by Frances Brody

Image Description: the book cover of Dying In The Wool by Frances Brody.
Title: Dying In The Wool (Book #1 of the Kate Shackleton Series)
Author: Frances Brody
Social Media: Blog, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Piatkus
Format and Price: Paperback at $7.31
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Frances Brody’s highly praised 1920s mysteries feature clever and elegant Kate Shackleton, First World War widow turned sleuth. Missing person? Foul play suspected? Kate’s your woman. For good measure, she may bring along ex-policeman, Jim Sykes. Before turning to crime, Frances wrote for radio, television and theatre, and was nominated for a Time Out Award. She published four sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award in 2006.

About The Book:
Take one quiet Yorkshire village, Bridgestead is a peaceful spot: a babbling brook, rolling hills and a working mill at its heart. Pretty and remote, nothing exceptional happens. Until the day that Master of the Mill Joshua Braithwaite goes missing in dramatic circumstances, never to be heard of again. Now Joshua’s daughter is getting married and wants one last attempt at finding her father. Has he run off with his mistress, or was he murdered for his mounting coffers? Kate Shackleton has always loved solving puzzles. So who better to get to the bottom of Joshua’s mysterious disappearance? But as Kate taps into the lives of the Bridgestead dwellers, she opens cracks that some would kill to keep closed.

General Observations:
~Novel Research: After a long time-period away from the Genre, I’ve recently been attempting to re-immerse myself with the Crime genre, specifically Scottish Crime Novels written by Scottish Authors (I thoroughly enjoy listening to Scottish voice-actors via audio-books). I thought it might be a good way to do indirect Novel Research and maybe help me get back into writing.

It turns out that, despite the novel time-period being after World War One, the novel is set in Leeds (in the United Kingdom), which is only one hour and forty-five minutes away (I know, only an Australian could think that isn’t too long a car-trip). It was interesting to get some history of the area.

~Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: Due to the Historical Fiction elements, this novel is mostly Kate Shackleton and her assistant Jim Sykes interrogating/weaselling information out of people, which means the book leans slightly more towards the Character end of the spectrum. This is fine when it’s done well and I believe Frances Brody does this well.

It seems, at times, that Kate Shackleton’s interrogation process is like pulling teeth, but this is more because her subjects are reluctant to reveal what they know, which is often the case. The plot had excellent pacing, not giving the reader all the clues at once, but enough to keep the reader engaged, and while the ending was a little predictable, the resolution was satisfying enough and it tied up enough loose ends.

All in all, the Historical Fiction elements and Crime combining into an interesting and engaging narrative, I’ll be looking into book two of the series and I’m happy to recommend to anyone looking for some escapism.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher

Title: The Princess Diarist
Author: Carrie Fisher
Social Media: Twitter and Goodreads
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Format and Price: Ebook at $16.99
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Book:
The Princess Diarist is Carrie Fisher’s intimate, hilarious and revealing recollection of what happened behind the scenes on one of the most famous film sets of all time, the first Star Wars movie. When Carrie Fisher recently discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a (sort-of) regular teenager.

With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes. And today, as she reprises her most iconic role for the latest Star Wars trilogy, Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candor and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience.

General Observations:
~Before, During and After: The Princess Diarist goes through three phases: Carrie Fisher’s life before Star Wars, during Stars Wars and after Star Wars. I must confess the before and after periods were more interesting to me that the segment during Star Wars.

That is not to say the during Star Wars segment lacked for interest. I liked reading about how she was nervous for her audition, how she was afraid she would be fired for not losing weight, I enjoyed reading about her hair and make-up sessions and her talking to the cast and crew, these parts were genuinely interesting. But a large chunk of the section was Carrie Fisher being obsessed with Harrison Ford.

As it was a three-month affair with little substance, it was far more interesting to Carrie Fisher than it was to me, but given Carrie Fisher’s age at the time, it’s understandable. There’s a reason why some people re-read their old journals containing passages written by a love-sick teenager and wish to burn them, however, I’m glad Carrie Fisher resisted that impulse (even if it did drag on a little too long).

~Sexism in Cinema: Seriously, Carrie Fisher is one of the greatest examples of Sexism and Misogyny in Cinema, while Harrison Ford and even Mark Hamill get to move on from Star Wars and complete other projects, Carrie Fisher is immortalised in that stupid metal bikini outfit (seriously, Madame Tussauds Wax Emporium has immortalised Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in that particular outfit with Jabba the Hut holding the chain and lurking right behind her, what the holy fuck?). Carrie Fisher is a brilliant writer and damn good actress and she deserves/deserved better than that.

~Right In The Feels: Unlike Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic, The Princess Diaries were difficult for me to get into, I suppose when you read memoirs detailing Carrie Fisher’s problems with alcohol, then read chapters from a nineteen-year-old Carrie Fisher’s perspective about how she doesn’t like to drink, there can be some disconnect.

I suppose the biggest problem I had with The Princess Diarist was that parts of the book were long segments of introspection of a young woman, starting out as an emerging artist, playing the role of entertainer to cover up the fact that she was deeply unsure and insecure of herself, in other words, it was deeply and uncomfortably familiar.

Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic are the recollections and reflections of an older woman who knows that she has bi-polar, the recollections and reflections of The Princess Diarist are from the perspective of nineteen-year-old woman who isn’t aware that she has bi-polar yet, and is struggling to figure out who she is and what she wants, as well as how to deal with undiagnosed mental health problems.

It was difficult to for me to grapple with the idea that, at one time, Carrie Fisher could be someone like myself, which I suppose was the purpose of the book, one must be a princess before one can become a general.

In conclusion, an interesting insight into the mind of Carrie Fisher, a legendary icon, at a particular stage of her life. It’s a little slow to get into, and there’s not as many jokes, but I consider it a worthy read as I was glued to every page.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books
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Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler

Image Description: The book cover of Out on Good Behaviour by Dahlia Adler. The cover has two white women with brown hair, cuddled up together, face to face, on a checked picnic blanket. The woman on the left is wearing a scarf and a coat, while the other woman is wearing a black shirt with plunging neck line that reveals two rose tattoos on both sides of her chest.
Title: Out on Good Behaviour (Book 3 in the Radleigh University series)
Author: Dahlia Adler
Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and WordPress Blog
Publisher: Self-published via Smashwords
Format and Price: Ebook at $3.61
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Dahlia Adler is an Associate Editor of Mathematics by day, a blogger for B&N Teens by night, and writes Contemporary YA and NA at every spare moment in between. She’s the author of Under The Lights, Behind The Scenes, Just Visiting, and the Radleigh University series, as well as over five billion tweets as @MissDahlELama. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves.

About The Book:
Frankie Bellisario knows she can get anyone she sets her sights on, but just because she can doesn’t mean she should—not when the person she’s eyeing is Samara Kazarian, the daughter of a southern Republican mayor. No matter how badly Frankie wants to test her powers of persuasion, even she recognizes some lines aren’t meant to be crossed. But when Frankie learns she’s been on Samara’s mind too, the idea of hooking up with her grows too strong to resist. Only Sam’s not looking for a hookup; she wants—needs—the real thing, and she’s afraid she’ll never find it as long as Frankie’s in her head.
Forced to choose between her first relationship and losing the girl who’s been clawing her way under her skin, Frankie opts to try monogamy…under her own condition: 30 days of keeping things on the down low and remaining abstinent. If she fails as hard at girlfriending as she’s afraid she might, she doesn’t want to throw Samara’s life into upheaval for nothing. But when neither the month nor Frankie’s heart go according to plan, she may be the one stuck fighting for the happily ever after she never knew she wanted.

General Observations:
~Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Pansexual Main Character: Frankie is an openly pansexual character, where as Samara is a closeted lesbian who (at the beginning of the novel) isn’t comfortable with coming out just yet because of her conservative parents and conservative friends back home in North Carolina.

~Character VS Plot: This is a book with a primary character focus, with a heavy emphasis on relationships and how those relationships affect other people. As a result, this novel has very little plot, and when there is a plot moment, it’s almost anti-climatically resolved. The element the author did well was the great friendship-bonds between Frankie, Lizzie and Cait.

The scenes with the three of them feel genuine and they were amusing to read. Lizzie and Cait have no problems intervening with Frankie when they think it’s appropriate (and it usually is) but they also know when to give Frankie space so she can figure things out for herself. Frankie’s friendships with other women is why I rated this book four stars instead of three.

~Sweet and Fluffy: On the Sliding Scale of Romance VS Smut, this books sits more towards the romance end of the spectrum. That might sound as though this book is devoid of smut, this is not true, there is an adequate level of smut, it’s just this novel tends to spend most it’s time focusing on “What did she mean when she said X?” introspective moments.

I enjoyed reading those chapters were Frankie and Samara were honest with each other and told each other directly what they wanted, because Frankie and Samara spent most of the book dancing around the subject. This inability to “Spit It Out” is entirely human and understandable, however, it got irritating towards the end.  

I don’t enjoy a lot of introspective character moments and, if an author is going to use introspective a lot, it should involve both romantic parties. I enjoy alternating POV’s, like a chapter from Frankie’s perspective, and then one from Samara’s perspective, instead the novel is entirely from Frankie’s POV. I would have preferred to read both points of view.

All in all, a sweet and fluffy character-driven romance with a good supporting-cast of characters and a strong emphasis on friendship and mutual support. If readers want to make Reading Recommendations of other books with pansexual MC’s written by pansexual authors, please feel free to let me know in the comments section down below.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo Books

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty

Image Description: The book-cover of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium by Caitlin Doughty. The cover is mostly white, the title text in black and red taking up most of the cover space, in between the title-text and the author-text is the picture of a silver surgical tray with a pile of ash within it.
Title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematorium
Author: Caitlin Doughty
Social Media: Twitter, Ask A Mortician Youtube Channel, Goodreads, and The Order of The Good Death
Publisher: Canongate Books
Format and Price: Ebook at $12.59
Rating: 5 out of 5

About The Author:
Mortician Caitlin Doughty—host and creator of “Ask a Mortician” and the New York Times best-selling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes —founded The Order of the Good Death. She lives in Los Angeles, where she runs her nonprofit funeral home, Undertaking LA.

About The Book:
From her first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into her curious new profession. Coming face-to-face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated and the mourning families they left behind, and found herself confounded by people’s erratic reactions to death. Exploring our death rituals – and those of other cultures – she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this illuminating account makes this otherwise terrifying subject inviting and fascinating

General Observation:
~I Found This Humerus: The book is filled with witty and hilarious observations, it filled with fascinating and funny one-liners about dealing with people and people dealing with death, which isn’t always the best combination as Death can bring out the best in people but also the worst. The Staff of the Westwind Cremation & Burial are also hilarious and surprisingly sweet.

~Highly Educational: It’s fascinating to peek behind the black curtains of the Funeral Process, the funeral process, the embalming process, the cremation process and I loved knowing all the gory details. Caitlin Doughty also mentioned a lot of different cultures and how they proceed with their Grief and Death rituals and, surprisingly, I found myself agreeing with a lot of Caitlin Doughty’s observations. Caitlin Doughty is very passionate about Death rituals, which are fascinating all on their own, but also how the problems in Western society have emerged because we have lost our rituals and thus haphazardly implement new ones to fill the void (whether we are aware of it or not).

~Right In The Feels: As this is a book about Death, and while I highly recommend it, it is not for the fragile, as there will be moments where Caitlin Doughty is making joke or telling a funny story and it will make a sharp turn into the terribly sad (which shouldn’t be too surprising given the topic), however, these moments aren’t jarring as the comedy and tragedy is equally balanced and mixed together well. I felt it was necessary to point out the economic environment and economic hardships that impact upon people’s behaviour. The chapter about the processing the dead infants and the story about cutting the hair of an eleven-month-old baby-girl was so sad.

All in all, a hilarious book about an interesting job, anyone who has read and enjoyed Jenny Lawson’s books Let’s Pretend This Never Happened and Furiously Happy will definitely enjoy this, my friends and family are most certainly getting a copy of this for Birthdays and/or Christmas

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books
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