Review: The Map of Bones by Francesca Haig

 

Title: The Map of Bones {The Fire Sermon #2}

Author: Francesca Haig

Published: Harper Voyager March 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 29 to June 01, 2016 — I own a copy courtesy HarperCollins

My Thoughts:

The Map of Bones picks up from where Francesca Haig’s debut novel, The Fire Sermon, left off. Cass, Piper and Zoe are on the run following the deadly confrontation at the Silo between the Confessor and Kip, with the knowledge of the Alpha Council’s horrifying plan for the Omega’s.

Despite the dramatic ending of The Fire Sermon, the narrative in The Map of Bones is slow to start. We’re almost a quarter of the way into the book before Haig introduces a new element to the story that finally prompts the characters to take action. From there the pace begins to pick up as Cass and her allies recognise the need to actively stand against the Council and pursue a new possibility for salvation despite the odds that are stacked again them.

I wasn’t really a fan of Cass in the first novel and I found her to be no less frustrating here. Drowning in guilt and struggling with her visions, her thoughts are often repetitive and circular. Piper and Zoe serve as good companions but I found neither character to be particularly compelling.

What I did admire was Haig’s descriptive writing and continued world building. She provides further detail about the cataclysmic events that destroyed the world and the twinning phenomenon.

Though I found The Map of Bones to be a somewhat dreary read, the story ends on a hopeful note and I am curious to learn how the trilogy will resolve in book three.

Available to purchase from

HarperCollins AU

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Amazon US I Amazon UK

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Review: The Light on The Water by Olga Lorenzo

 

Title: The Light on the Water

Author: Olga Lorenzo

Published: Allen & Unwin March 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from May 28 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy  courtesy of Allen & Unwin

My Thoughts:

The Light on the Water by Olga Lorenzo is a thoughtful novel exploring a myriad of the themes, most notably motherhood, grief, guilt and love.

Two long years after her young autistic daughter disappeared during an overnight hike, Anne Baxter is on the precipice of being charged with Aida’s murder. Shunned by her neighbours and vilified by the media, Anne waits…and hopes.

This is a story that focuses on character rather than action. Anne is a hugely sympathetic character, trapped in a hellish kind of limbo. The main figures of The Light on the Water are complex, and Lorenzo avoids many of the typical stereotypes of the genre, even with the dysfunction that plagues the members of Anne’s family.

Of particular note is the manner in which Lorenzo explores the response of the wider community to Anne’s plight. From almost the moment Aida is reported missing, Anne must endure the suspicion of strangers, all too ready to condemn her for any real, perceived, or even imagined action that has led to her daughter’s disappearance. No matter the truth of Aida’s fate, Anne is judged to be at fault.

The Light on the Water is a quietly compelling story. Simply written, it nevertheless evokes a wealth of emotion. The tension builds nicely as the story unfolds at a measured pace, though I felt the subplot involving the refuge was an unnecessary distraction.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin RRP $29.99

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Amazon US

Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 3

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
  2.  Serial killer thriller
  3.  Paranormal romance
  4.  A novel set on an island
  5. Investigative journalism (non fiction)
  6. Disaster fiction
  7. Steampunk sci fi
  8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
  9. Psychology (non fiction)
  10. Immigrant Experience fiction
  11. YA historical fiction
  12. A debut author in 2016

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

You can learn more and SIGN UP here

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

Click the cover for more information about each title.

7. Steampunk

The term ‘steampunk’ was coined in the late 1980’s and I’ve read very little of this relatively new speculative fiction sub genre.  Steampunk works often set in an alternative history of the 19th century, or in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage.

 

8. Any Book Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize is an annual award. Any novel originally written in English and published (not self published) in the UK in the year of the prize, regardless of the nationality of their author is eligible. You can select any title shortlisted since the awards inception in 1969. Wikipedia has an easy reference list.

 

9. Psychology (non-fiction)

I’ve deliberately kept this category general, but I’ve listed mostly popular psychology titles below with great ‘readability’.

 

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.

 You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2016.  For more details, click HERE

Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
  2.  Serial killer thriller
  3.  Paranormal romance
  4.  A novel set on an island
  5. Investigative journalism (non fiction)
  6. Disaster fiction
  7. Steampunk sci fi
  8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
  9. Psychology (non fiction)
  10. Immigrant Experience fiction
  11. YA historical fiction
  12. A debut author in 2016

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

You can learn more and SIGN UP here

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

Click the cover for more information about each title.

4. A novel set on an island

I’ve selected these titles that feature islands that are both imaginary and real, large and small, from allacross the world.

5. Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest to shed light on a specific issue, such as crime or social injustice.

6. Disaster fiction

It was a lot more difficult than I expected to find examples of disaster (also known as catastrophe or apocalyptic) fiction, given the plethora of disaster films like San Andreas, Poseidon, Independence Day and Twister. Disaster fiction should focus on the disaster itself and the days immediately following, but post apocalyptic fiction, where years or decades have passed since a disaster, is far more common.

 

 

 

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.

 You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2016.  For more details, click HERE

Review: Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

 

Title: Darkest Place

Author: Jaye Ford

Published: Random House Feb 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read on February 08, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford’s previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn’t put it down til I finished the last page, just minutes before my husband’s alarm woke him for work at 5am.

After enduring years of guilt, heartbreak, and regret, Charlotte Townsend has finally found the strength to leave her past behind. In a new town, with a new apartment, and a new name, Carly has enrolled in college and is looking towards her future, but three days into her new life she wakes to find a stranger in her bedroom. When the police answer Carly’s call for help, they find no sign of the man and assure her it was likely a crime of opportunity. Though shaken by the intrusion Carly refuses to let the incident destroy her fledgling confidence…until then it happens again, and then again.

Darkest Place is an absorbing tale of psychological suspense. The tension builds slowly, gathering momentum until you realise you are holding your breath in anxious anticipation.

“She wants to scream. It’s building in her chest. Trapped there, scratching at her lungs as though her ribs are the bars holding it back. She hears breathing. Not her own. Deep and unhurried. It whispers across her face like a warm cloth. It turns her skin to ice. She lashes out. Hits, twists, kicks. She sees it in her mind, feels it in her muscles. But it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t move. Neither does he. She sees him now. A shape in the darkness. Above her, black and motionless. He is watching. She watches back. Fear roaring through her bones, pulse thumping in her ears. Her voice is wedged in her throat now and choking her. No. Something else is squeezing, pushing down, making blood pound in her face. Warm hand, hard fingers. She doesn’t want to see. Doesn’t want to feel. She shuts her eyes. Waits. “

Carly is a complex character, and given her emotionally fragility, I was never quite sure if I could trust her perception of events as the story progressed. The police certainly have their doubts about the reliability of her reports, and Carly’s psychiatrist offers a rational opinion that could explain her experiences, but I was sympathetic to her distress.

“She caught sight of herself in the mirror. Hair a mess, face tear-stained. Dark-ringed, pale, wild-eyed. And she spun away, the image burned onto her retinas. Distraught, panicked, confused. She looked like Charlotte. No, worse than that. She looked crazy.”

I have to admit I was ambivalent about the ending, though it works within the context of character and story, I didn’t find it wholly satisfying, though I can’t really reveal why I feel that way without the risk of spoilers. Nevertheless, there is closure and a sense of triumph and hope.

Darkest Place is Ford’s fifth novel and I would say her best to date. Clever, thrilling and gripping.

Available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

Also by Jaye Ford reviewed at Book’d Out


Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
  2.  Serial killer thriller
  3.  Paranormal romance
  4.  A novel set on an island
  5. Investigative journalism (non fiction)
  6. Disaster fiction
  7. Steampunk sci fi
  8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
  9. Psychology (non fiction)
  10. Immigrant Experience fiction
  11. YA historical fiction
  12. A debut author in 2016

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

You can learn more and SIGN UP here

I’m going to cover the first three categories today, and continue over the next month or so.

Click the cover for more information about each title.

 

A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)

Books about books are irresistible to most readers. Here are a mix of fiction and non fiction titles you could choose from

2. Serial killer thriller

Many of today’s bestselling crime and thriller novels feature serial killers with police hot in pursuit but serial killers can also become the unlikely antiheroes of the story…

3.  Paranormal romance

A paranormal romance novel blends together themes from the genres of fantasy, science fiction, or horror, but has a fundamental focus on the development of a romantic relationship between two protagonists leading to a ‘happy ever after’ conclusion. Many of these books are published within a series arc but generally focus on a different couple each time so they can be read as stand alone’s.

 

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.

 You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2016.  For more details, click HERE

Blog Tour Review: All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

 

Title: All That is Lost Between Us

Author: Sara Foster

Published: Simon & Schuster AU Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 03 to 04, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

All That is Lost Between Us is a compelling modern domestic thriller from Sara Foster.

Unfolding from the perspectives of the four members of the Turner family, it is a story about guilt, secrets, betrayal and loyalty.

Seventeen year old Georgia Turner, high school student and champion Fells runner, is preoccupied by a secret she can’t share, not even with her best friend and cousin, Sophia.
Anya is frustrated by her inability to connect with her increasingly withdrawn daughter who spurns both her concern and affection, as does her husband, Callum.
Callum, mired in unspoken resentments, has thrown himself into his voluntary work with the local Fells rescue team, and taken solace in the attentions of a younger colleague.
When Zac accidentally discovers a shocking photo hidden in his sister’s bedroom, he is at a loss as how to best deal with his discovery.

A hit and run incident involving Georgia and Sophia is the catalyst that drives the members of the Turner family to the brink of crisis. As suspicion grows that the actions of the unidentified driver was deliberate, Foster builds the tension as secrets begin to collide.

One of the main themes Foster’s story thoughtfully explores is the vulnerabilities of family. Emotional distance has frayed the bonds between husband and wife, parent and child, in All That is Lost Between Us. The strained relationships are sensitively and realistically portrayed, disconnected, they are each vulnerable in the crisis and struggle to bridge the gap to offer each other the support they need.

Georgia’s angst is well drawn, her increasingly fraught emotional state is believable as she obsesses over her secret with the self absorption of youth.
I empathised strongly with Anya, it is difficult to let your children pull away from you, to find the balance between encouraging them to make their own choices, and protect them from their inevitable mistakes. My oldest daughter is 19 and I too feel as if she is “breaking off a piece of my heart and taking it with her.” as she forges her own life.

Set in England’s Lake District, Foster’s descriptions of the landscape are vivid and evocative. The rugged beauty of the Fells, its craggy peaks and forested valleys and sheer cliffs, also reflects the changeable emotional states of the characters.

All That is Lost Between Us is a captivating read I’d recommend to both an adult and mature young adult audience.

Available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster AU Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

Visit the other blogs participating in the tour

#AllThatisLostBetweenUs

All-that-is-lost-Blog-Tour-800x600-v3

Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

 

Title: Summer Skin

Author: Kirsty Eagar

Published: Allen & Unwin Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 01 to 02, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Summer Skin offers a ‘girl meets boy’ story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the construct to present a love story that honest, unique and relevant.

I found Jess to be a particular refreshing character for the YA/NA genre, though a mess of contradictions, she reflects a realistic young woman still figuring out that life and its challenges are rarely black and white.

Mitch challenges Jess in interesting ways, at first glance he is everything Jess despises – an arrogant rugby playing sexist pig, and she holds tightly to that initial assessment, which she often uses as an excuse and justification throughout their relationship for her own behaviour, even as she learns that Mitch is a much more than that. They both struggle to define their relationship in terms of both their own identities, and each other.

There is real depth to this novel beneath the humor, mischief, drunken revelry, dress up balls, and instagram poses that exemplifies campus life. The author explores modern day feminism and how its meaning varies between individuals, illustrated by the differing attitudes and opinions of Jess and each of her close friends, Farren, Leanne and Allie. She captures the conflict many young women face when negotiating issues of lust, sex and intimacy in the age of the hook-up culture. Eagar also touches on several relevant issues affecting today’s young adults including the use, and abuse of social media, the way in which porn distorts attitudes to sex, the risks of speeding and drink driving, but she never preaches.

Aimed squarely at a mature young adult/new adult audience, Summer Skin is smart, funny, sexy and thought-provoking. There is nothing typical about it.

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin  Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US I Book Depository

and all good bookstores.

Also by Kirsty Eagar

@ Goodreads

Review: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

 

Title: Mercury Striking {The Scorpius Syndrome #1}

Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Published: Zebra: Kensington Jan 2016

Status: Read from January 28 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A fast paced, action packed dystopian romance, Mercury Striking is the first in a series from Rebecca Zanetti.

After the world is devastated by a mutated alien virus that usually either kills it’s victims or turns them into psychotic killers, Lynn Harmony, a former director at the CDC, is probably the only person left alive who can find a cure. She desperately needs information from a lab in Los Angeles but to get there she has to safely traverse the dangers of the lawless country while eluding the President’s men and then beg favour from Jax Mercury – nicknamed the King of L.A.

Zanetti has created a rich and intriguing world, the population of America all but decimated by the Scorpius Syndrome. Of the few that survive the virus most become ‘Rippers’, uncontrollable serial killers, but a handful recover most of whom develop varying degrees of sociopathic behaviour.

Small enclaves of survivors fight to endure the destruction of society and its infrastructure across the US including the stronghold ‘Vanguard’ in L.A. led by ex special ops soldier and former gang member, Jax Mercury who protects a group of around 500 men, women and children.

Jax is the only one placed to help Lynn find ‘Myriad’ and complete an important task but with the stain of her glowing blue heart and a presidential bounty on her head she is taking a huge risk when she seeks his help. Jax grants her request for asylum under strict conditions as eager as she to find a cure, but neither is prepared for the relationship that develops between them or the consequences of their relationship.

This is story with plenty of grit, involving plenty of action including deadly firefights and chases, and with some brutal scenes of violence and death, but at its heart Mercury Striking is a romance. . It’s all very ‘alpha male’ meets ‘feisty damsel in distress’ but I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the physical intimacy between Lynn and Jax sizzles (though I really could have done without the spanking scene).

The secondary characters, both allies and enemies, add interest and breadth to the story. I’m guessing that Raze and Vivienne will be the couple to feature in the next book to continue the series.

A quick, exciting, escapist read with an interesting premise and appealing characters, I enjoyed Mercury Striking and I’ll be looking for the next in The Scorpius Syndrome series.

 

Available via

Kensington Books I Amazon US I BookDepsoitory I IndieBound

Booko

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

Paranormal Romance

Review: Numbered by Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

 

Title: Numbered

Author: Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

Published: Harlequin MIRA AU Jan 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read from January 26 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

‘Where are the damn tissues?’ is what I wrote when I finished Numbered by authors Ros Baxter and Amy Andrews.

When twenty nine year old Poppy Devine finds a lump in her breast she decides to get a jump on her bucket list, and surprises herself by crossing off three items in one day – Number one: Jump out of a plane, Number ten: Have sex with a stranger, Number twelve: Eat a Mexican meal.

Numbered is an emotive story, the tragedy of Poppy’s terminal diagnosis can’t fail to tug at the heart strings, but it is ultimately a celebration of life as Poppy with the support of her best friend Julia and no-longer-a-stranger ‘Ten’ (aka Quentin Carmody) endeavour to fulfil her bucket list before her time runs out.

Most of the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Julia and Quentin. Julia is both furious and devastated when her best friend is diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and is determined that Poppy will beat it. In the meantime she will do everything she can to ensure Poppy has whatever she wants, she just doesn’t think that Poppy is making a wise choice in keeping Mr-Rock-God-Surfer-Boy-Football-Legend around. Twenty two year old musician/short order cook Quentin Carmody has never had a relationship that has lasted longer than a few weeks but he’s found something special with Poppy, both in and out of bed, and he’s determined not to let her go.

Numbered is as much a story about they way in which Julia and Quentin cope with Poppy’s inevitable death, more perhaps, than it is about Poppy’s courageous last days. I loved Julia’s feisty spirit and take no prisoners attitude, and the way in which Quentin sees past Poppy’s illness. Both strong personalities, Julia and Quentin want what is best for Poppy but they don’t always agree on what that is or how to make it happen. The bickering between them is often hilarious, providing much needed light relief, but is clearly edged with the pain and grief they feel.

Beautifully written with heart and humour, Numbered is a poignant yet life affirming novel about friendship, love, hope, grief and redemption, a wonderful read that will likely leave you smiling through your tears.

Available to purchase from

Harlequin  Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Also by Amy Andrews & Ros Baxter

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