Review: Wickedly Dangerous by Deborah Blake

Title: Wickedly Dangerous {Baba Yaga #1}

Author: Deborah Blake

Published: Berkley, September 2014

Status: Read on May 26, 2018

 

My Thoughts:

Wickedly Dangerous is the first book in Deborah Blake’s urban fantasy romance trilogy drawing on the legend of Baba Yaga, with a unique contemporary twist.

Barbara Yager is only one of several Baba Yaga’s, whose role it is to keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world. Instead of a cabin on chicken legs,as in legend, Barbara travels her territory in an Airstream with a mind of its own, accompanied by a dragon-turned-dog, Chudo-Yudo. When she needs backup she calls on the Riders, a trio of men/dragons who serve her bidding.

In Wickedly Dangerous, Barbara is summoned when a child goes missing in a small community in Upstate New York. Using her guise as a researcher, herbalist and healer, Barbara investigates, tangling with handsome local Sheriff Liam McClellan, soon divining the disappearance has a mystical cause.

To be honest, the mystery plot is a little uneven, the cause of the disappearance is solved fairly quickly, but it takes some time for Barbara to resolve things. While this gives Blake time to introduce her world, the main plot suffers somewhat for it.

I liked the character growth, which mainly stemmed from Barbara’s relationship with Liam. No longer really human, Barbara has closed herself off to the possibilities of normal friendship and love, but the Sheriff finds a way through her defences. I liked the way in which the romance developed between the two.

I enjoyed Wickedly Dangerous enough, that I followed up with Wickedly Wonderful and Wickedly Powerful, both of which have similar themes, featuring two other North American Baba Yaga’s.

Light and fun, the Baba Yaga series was a pleasant read, combining romance with fantasy, for me over a rainy weekend.

 

 

Review: I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue

Title: I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue

Author: Elias Greig

Published: Allen & Unwin, November 2018

Status: Read December 18th 2019

My Thoughts:

Monday, 2.50pm

Lady in sun visor: Yes, I’m after a book … I can’t remember the title, but it’s quite unique …

Me: Do you remember what it’s about?

Sun Visor: It’s about a French woman, and she finally tells her story. Do you have that one?

——————————

LOL? Any guesses on the title?

Written as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell and The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell, I Can’t Remember the Title But the Cover is Blue, Elias Greig shares the best, worst and downright weirdest customer encounters from his years working as a Sydney bookseller.

I Can’t Remember the Title but the Cover is Blue is a quick and easy read that will make you laugh, cringe, and perhaps even shed a tear (because either you will be grateful you don’t work in retail, or because you do).

Review: Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Title: Mr. Kiss and Tell {Veronica Mars #2)

Authors: Rob Thomas & Jennifer Graham

Publisher: Vintage Books , January 2015

Status: Read March 19th 2019

My Thoughts:

It was only a few years ago that I first watched Veronica Mars, and immediately became a fan. I’m a little out of the target audience age wise (ok, a lot), but I’ve binge watched it at least once a year since, including the crowdfunded movie (2014). Recently, I learned that Hulu has picked up a Veronica Mars revival to be screened in the (US) summer. According to news sources, the series picks up about five years on from the movie (and books), and will feature most of the original cast.. I can’t wait!

I first read Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Vintage Books, May 2015) which begins just a few months after the movie’s end. Veronica is behind the desk of her fathers PI firm, while Keith is recovering after the attempt on his life. Logan is still on deployment, Weevil is waiting for his trial to begin, and Wallace floats in and out, doing favours for Veronica. The only incongruent note is Mac being behind the Mars Investigation ‘secretarial’ desk.

Set during Spring Break, Thousand Dollar Tan Line has Veronica trying to solve the disappearance of two teenage girls at the behest of the Neptune Chamber of Commerce. Sheriff Lamb is as venal and useless as ever, leaving Veronica to tangle with the cartel, kidnappers and killers. For Veronica, the stakes are higher when one on the missing girls turns out to be her estranged mother’s stepdaughter.

I quite enjoyed the story, which was fairly fast paced with a solid mystery, and an interesting twist, but I felt the tone wasn’t quite on point somehow.

Mr. Kiss and Tell however, was. I had no problem imagining this story unfolding as an episode of Veronica Mars, and I enjoyed it almost as much.

In this instance, it’s been just a few weeks since the conclusion of Thousand Dollar Tan Line, and this time Veronica has been hired to investigate an insurance claim against the Neptune Grand for a rape supposedly committed by an employee. Several familiar faces crop up during her investigation, including Deputy (now Detective) Leo D’Amato, who provides back up as she hunts for a serial rapist.

In the background, Weevil’s trial is coming to a head, while Keith, and Clifford, try to prove a pattern of corruption in the Sheriff’s office. A newcomer also throws her hat in the ring for the Sheriff election.

Veronica and Logan’s relationship is a little shaky in Mr. Kiss and Tell. Without a sense of irony, Veronica is not thrilled by Logan’s long absences, nor the risks inherent in his career as a Navy pilot. It will be interesting to learn just where they stand with each other in the revival.

If you are a Veronica Mars fan, you really should treat yourself to these two books, and I recommend binge watching the television show, and movie first. As an aside, apparently Kirsten Bell narrates the audiobook versions of these novels, which would be fun I imagine.

 

Australian Indie Book Awards 2019

The winner of the Australian Independent Booksellers Indie Book Awards for 2019 has been announced.

The 2019 Book of the Year is Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton 

 

The individual category winners are:

FICTION WINNER:
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak (Picador Australia)

NON-FICTION WINNER:
The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper (Penguin Random House Australia)

DEBUT FICTION WINNER:

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Australia)

ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION WINNER:
Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton (Hardie Grant Travel)

CHILDREN’S WINNER:
Lenny’s Book of Everything by Karen Foxlee (Allen & Unwin)

YOUNG ADULT WINNER:

A Song Only I Can Hear by Barry Jonsberg (Allen & Unwin)

The Indies are considered the forerunners of all major Australian book awards. Since the Awards inception in 2008, the Indies have a well-deserved reputation for picking the best of the best in Australian writing. Past Book of the Year winners have gone on to be bestsellers and win other major literary awards. Previous winners include: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, The Dry by Jane Harper; The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; The Bush by Don Watson; The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan; The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman; All That I Am by Anna Funder; The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and Breath by Tim Winton.

 

Have your read Boy Swallows Universe?

What did you think? Feel free to link to your review in the comments.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is now hosted at Book Date

Life

So, it’s been a while 😉 

I’m a little rusty, and I have a lot to catch up on, not the least being visiting old friends, and making new ones.

I still have an extensive TBR list, and for now I’m staying away from netgalley, edelweiss etc so it’s unlikely you’ll be seeing much of the latest releases, but I hope you’ll stop by regularly anyway.

I’m also trying to get used to using WordPress on my iPad, so if my posts look a little strange, I hope I’ll get the hang of it eventually.

 

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted

Hmm that’s an interesting question… both a lot and not much.

 

New Posts

Review: Good Riddance by Eleanor Lipman ★★1/2

Review: The Helpline by Katherine Collette ★★★

ABIA Longlist 2019

Review: The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover ★★★★

Review: Scourged by Kevin Hearne ★★★★

Review: First Watch by Dale Lucas ★★

 

What I Am Reading Today

*In preparation for the can’t-come-fast-enough Hulu Veronica Mars mini series :)*

From Rob Thomas, the creator of groundbreaking television series and movie Veronica Mars, comes the first book in a thrilling new mystery series.

Ten years after graduating from high school in Neptune, California, Veronica Mars is back in the land of sun, sand, crime, and corruption. She’s traded in her law degree for her old private investigating license, struggling to keep Mars Investigations afloat on the scant cash earned by catching cheating spouses until she can score her first big case.

Now it’s spring break, and college students descend on Neptune, transforming the beaches and boardwalks into a frenzied, week-long rave. When a girl disappears from a party, Veronica is called in to investigate. But this is not a simple missing person’s case. The house the girl vanished from belongs to a man with serious criminal ties, and soon Veronica is plunged into a dangerous underworld of drugs and organized crime. And when a major break in the investigation has a shocking connection to Veronica’s past, the case hits closer to home than she ever imagined.

 

What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

In the second book in the New York Times bestselling mystery series, Veronica Mars is back with a case that will expose the hidden workings of one of Neptune’s most murderous locations.

The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman’s story.

The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why?

——————————-

Why had the house stayed empty so long? Why had it never been sold?

LOST

Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the

first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.

FOUND

Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.

FORGOTTEN

Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove. He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures

———————————

 A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier. 

But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

———————————— 

Thanks for stopping by!

And lastly, love and peace to New Zealand in the wake of such contemptible tragedy.

 

Im also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

Review: First Watch by Dale Lucas

Title: First Watch {The Fifth Ward #1}

Author: Dale Lucas

Published: Orbit, July 2017

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read April 4th-6th 2018

My Thoughts:

First Watch is not something I would generally pick up, however my fourteen year old son is an a fan of Fantasy fiction, and an ardent Dungeons and Dragons player, so I bought this for him. Like me, my son is a ‘reader’, he is part of a book club at school, and for school sport does ‘Reading by the River’ – where the only physical activity involves the 15 minute walk to, and from, the riverbank. He also likes to discuss what he reads, so I thought I’d give this a go.

First Watch is the start of Dale Lucas’s series, The Fifth Ward. It’s essentially a murder mystery set in a medieval fantasy world populated by “drug dealing orcs, mind-controlling elves, uncooperative mages, and humans being typical humans”, amongst others.

Our heroes are Torval, “a dwarf who’s handy with a maul and known for hitting first and asking questions later”, and Remeck, a runaway nobleman from the North.

When Torvals’s Watch Warden partner, Freygaf is murdered, he and Rem team up to trawl the underbelly of Yenara, a largely iniquitous port city, to find his killer. The pairs’ investigation leads them through the city’s Wards, exposing all manner of vice and corruption, including a vile human trafficking ring.

Our heroes are Torval, “a dwarf who’s handy with a maul and known for hitting first and asking questions later”, and Remeck, a runaway nobleman from the North.

Torval is the cynical, grumpy elder, and Rem the wide eyed ingenu, resulting in moments of humour in the vein of ‘mismatched cop buddy’ stories everywhere. I liked both characters, though neither were particularly surprising, nor unique.

While the main plot involves Torval and Rem’s search for Freygaf’s killer, they are often sidetracked by their work as Watch Wardens, the complicated politics of the city, and the occasional bar brawl and street fights. I thought Lucas did a decent job of bringing all the threads together to create a cohesive story.

I found the pace a little uneven in First Watch though, partly I suspect because of Lucas’s need to establish the world and its rules. At times the exposition got in the way of the story’s rhythm, and I found myself skimming on occasion.

Unsurprisingly, my son enjoyed this more than I did. He especially liked it’s D&D flavour. I thought it was okay.

Review: Scourged by Kevin Hearne

Title: Scourged (Iron Druid Chronicles #9)

Author: Kevin Hearne

Published: Del Rey, April 2018

Status : Read April 25th 2018

My Thoughts:

I began reading Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles in 2011, devouring Hounded, Hexed, and Hammered almost consecutively, and Tricked and Trapped on their release. Despite purchasing the last four book in the series as they came out, I just didn’t find the time to read them. I finally rectified this last year by reading the entire series consecutively from the first, to the last book, Scourged, in less than a week.

The grand finale, Scourged, sees Atticus battling the Norse Gods of Asgard, trying to prevent Ragnarok, aka the Apocalypse, which he had unwittingly instigated in a careless moment.

There is plenty of excitement, adventure and humour to be found in Scourged, as immortal is pitted against immortal in the bid to destroy, or save, Gaia. The various battles are epic in scale, though sometimes awkwardly brief, and on occasion, seemingly superfluous.

A variety of supernaturals, including the reoccurring characters of Coyote, The Morrigan, and Jesus, have their roles to play. Granuaile is her kick-a@@ self, Owen is hilarious, and though Oberon is largely absent given the circumstances, he is never forgotten.

I admit to being somewhat disappointed by the direction Hearne took in this last book, Atticus’s final moments of the series were not the triumph I was anticipating, but instead, rather maudlin. Nevertheless, I was sad to leave Atticus and his world behind. I still rate Iron Druid Chronicles among my favourite urban fantasy series, and one I recommend.

Available to Purchase at your preferred retailer

Review: The Land Before Avocado by Richard Glover

Title: The Land Before Avocado

Author: Richard Glover

Published: ABC Books, October 2018

Status: Read December 30, 2018

My Thoughts:

Technically I grew up in the 80’s, having been born in the early 1970’s, but so much of what Glover writes evokes memories of my childhood, from the pineapple ‘hedgehog’ cheese and onion appetisers, to the unbelted, smoke filled, weaving, courtesy of the ubiquitous cask wine in the bar fridge, car trips. I laughed aloud often at the nostalgic absurdity of it all.

However, The Land Before Avacado is also a sobering reminder of how far we have come as a culture. The status quo for baby boomers and most of Gen X would be inconceivable to today’s generations who can drink gourmet coffee (with smashed avacado toast) in the comfort of their own home, or by the roadside, any day of the week.

Tongue in cheek aside, many advances are sobering, from the drastic reduction of the road death toll, thanks to the introduction of drink driving and seatbelt laws, to laws protecting the employment status of pregnant women.

Glover also shares facts that will likely shock most readers who are convinced by their Facebook feeds that crime is at an all time high, when, in fact, the commission of serious crimes has more than halved across the board in the last fifty years.

While the nostalgic remembrances in The Land Before Avacado, appeal directly to those over the age of 40, I feel compelled to recommend to this to anyone over the age of twenty, many of whom could benefit from a little perspective.

Oh, and I am so going to cook the Spicy Meat Ring!

Available to Purchase at your preferred retailer

ABIA Longlist 2019

The Australian Publishers Association is excited to announce the longlist for the 2019 Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs). The longlist introduces the titles, publishers and authors in contention for a coveted 2019 ABIA.

Voted for by the ABIA Academy — a group of more than 250 publishers, booksellers, agents, media and industry representatives — have selected books published in 2018 across 12 categories.  

A shortlist will be released on Thursday April 11, with the winners announced at the publishing industry’s night of nights on Thursday 2 May.

For the complete longlist, visit the official ABIAs website abiawards.com.au  

General Fiction Book of the Year

• Nine Perfect Strangers, Liane Moriarty (Pan Macmillan Australia, Macmillan Australia)

• Scrublands, Chris Hammer (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

• The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)

• The Lost Man, Jane Harper (Pan Macmillan Australia, Macmillan Australia)

• The Nowhere Child, Christian White (Affirm Press)

• The Other Wife, Michael Robotham (Hachette Australia Pty Ltd, Hachette Australia)

• The Rúin, Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)

• The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris (Echo Publishing, Echo Publishing)

Small Publishers’ Adult Book of the Year

• A Superior Spectre, Angela Meyer (Ventura Press, Peter Bishop Books)

• Blakwork, Alison Whittaker (Magabala Books, Magabala Books Aboriginal Corporation)

• Deep Time Dreaming, Billy Griffiths (Black Inc. Books, Black Inc.)

• Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, Dr Anita Heiss (ed.) (Black Inc Books, Black Inc.)

• The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted, Robert Hillman (Text Publishing, Text Publishing)

• The Geography of Friendship, Sally Piper (The University of Queensland Press, UQP)

• The Western Front Diaries of Charles Bean, Edited by Peter Burness (UNSW Press, published in association with the Australian War Memorial, NewSouth)

• Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean, Joy McCann (UNSW Press, NewSouth)

The Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year

• Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)

• The Nowhere Child,  Christian White (Affirm Press, -)

• Eggshell Skull, Bri Lee (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

• One Hundred Years of Dirt, Rick Morton (Melbourne University Publishing, Melbourne University Press)

• Teacher, Gabbie Stroud (Allen & Unwin, Allen & Unwin)

• The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, Holly Ringland (HarperCollins Publishers, Fourth Estate)

• The Rúin,  Dervla McTiernan (HarperCollins Publishers, HarperCollins Publishers)

• The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Heather Morris (Echo Publishing, Echo Publishing)

What’s your pick for the winner?

Review: The Helpline by Katherine Collette

Title: The Helpline

Author: Katherine Collette

Published: Text Publishing September 18th 2018

Status: Read on Feb 9th, 2019

My Thoughts:

Collette’s debut, The Helpline, is similar in vein to recent popular novels such as Simison’s ‘The Rosie Project’ and Honeyman’s ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’.

Senior mathematician, Germaine, is a self proscribed expert in sodoku, the value of efficiency, and the immutability of numbers, but she is also uncomfortably socially inept, and awkwardly naive. Unceremoniously dismissed from her job of some fifteen years for reasons that she never quite articulates, Germaine finds herself working for the local council on the Senior Helpline, determined to prove her worth, and rebuild her career. Quickly singled out by the Mayor for a ‘special project’, Germaine is eager to please, especially when she learns that the project involves her childhood hero, former Sodoku champion, Alan Cosgrove aka Don Thomas. For Germaine, the need to resolve the Mayor’s standoff with the Senior Citizen’s Center, which happens to adjoin Don’s Golf Club, is a matter of responsibility and efficiency, until her equations are complicated by the unpredictable nature of the human factor.

Though Germaine is not always a particularly likeable character, I did warm up to her. Her neuro-atypical traits are never specifically identified but her different perspective is clear. The slightly eccentric supporting characters are varied, from feisty senior citizen, Cecelia Brown, to biscuit hoarder, Eva, and the inevitable love interest, bare kneed IT guy, Jack.

Generally, The Helpline was an enjoyable read. I liked the overall plot and it’s Australian setting, council going-on’s are actually a ripe setting for pathos, and humour.

Available to Purchase from

Text Publishing or your favourite retailer

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