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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Review: This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger


Title: This Was Not The Plan

Author: Cristina Alger

Published: Touchstone Feb 2016

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Status: Read from February 06 to 07, 2016 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

I’ve delayed writing this review because I don’t really have a lot to say about This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger.

It’s a quick, light read populated by charming characters (especially young Caleb), but there isn’t anything particularly unique or memorable about it. Perhaps it is because it features a single father in a role more often relegated to a single mother, struggling with the work/life balance and difficult relationships, that it is receiving rave reviews online, or perhaps I have missed some profundity.

Not a bad read, just not a particularly special one.

Available to purchase via

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Review: The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield


Title: The Flood Girls

Author: Richard Fifield

Published: Gallery Books Feb 2016

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Status: Read from February 09 to 11, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield is an engaging story of regrets and redemption set in small-town America.

After almost a decade’s absence, Rachel Flood is back in Quinn, Montana (Population:956) to make amends for the devastation she wrought as a wild teen to an openly hostile collection of family, (ex) friends and enemies. After a week of scathing silence, pointed glares and outright threats, Rachel is on the verge of admitting defeat when her mother, Laverna Flood, the proprietor of one of Quinn’s two taverns ‘The Dirty Shame’, is targeted in a robbery and her injuries require Rachel to take her mother’s place behind the bar, and on the local women’s softball team.

This is a story full of family dysfunction, addiction, friendship, failure and forgiveness. Rachel’s search for redemption is complicated, and no-one is inclined to make it easy on her, least of all her self.

Fifield has created an eccentric and often outlandish cast, including the uncompromising Laverna, the frightening Red and Black Mabel’s (distinguished by a rotten smile), Rachel’s no nonsense sponsor, Athena, and the members of the softball team. The town’s three rookie firefighter volunteers are all named Jim, the Police Chief runs the local AA meetings, and Reverend Foote is determined to convert the town’s sinners.

Of all the characters however is Rachel’s neighbour, twelve year old Jake, who is the most endearing. A devotee of Madonna and Jackie Collins, with an individual sense of style and fashion, he is mature beyond his years, but his effeminate manner infuriates his brutal stepfather. Jake is one of the few residents of Quinn willing to give Rachel a chance, and a delightful bond develops between them.

Though the humour is a little uneven and the plot not particularly original, The Flood Girls is written with heart and a genuine feel for small town life. A strong debut.

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Review: Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R Lansdale


Title: Honky Tonk Samurai {Hap and Leonard #11}

Author: Joe R Lansdale

Published: Mulholland Books Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 07 to 09, 2016 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Honky Tonk Samurai is the 11th book by Joe R Lansdale to feature the entertaining adventures of best friends Hap ‘a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel’ and Leonard ‘a black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper and vanilla cookies’.

Their language may be crude, their banter often tasteless but it’s impossible not be charmed by these redneck tough guys whose hearts are usually in the right place. Hap and Leonard may have casual regard for the law, but they share a strong sense of justice, they fiercely defend each other, those they love, and those who need their help.

“I don’t think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, and then something comes loose and starts to rattle, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh. I’m starting this at the point in the carnival ride when the bolt has started to come loose.”

In Honky Tonk Samurai, Brett, Hap’s live in lady, purchases Marvin Hanson’s private detective agency now that he has been rehired as police chief. The new agency’s first client is an elderly woman who blackmails Hap and Leonard into searching for her granddaughter, who has been missing for five years. Their investigation leads them to an upscale dealership selling much more than just cars, and puts a target on their back.

The plot is fairly simple and a bit of a stretch, but its all in good fun. There is plenty of action and violence on offer as Hap and Leonard, with a little help, take on a biker gang, the Dixie Mafia and a psychotic brotherhood of assassins. The humour is cheeky, often coarse, but the rapid fire banter is laugh out loud funny.

Readers familiar with the series will welcome appearances from characters such as Vanilla Ice, Cason and Jim Bob Luke. Lansdale’s descriptions of the characters that populate his novel are as colourful and vivid as ever.

“That’s when the door opened and a lady came in who was older than dirt but cleaner. She had a cane, which explained the cricket, but the elephant walk was a little more confusing, as she wasn’t much bigger than a minute. She had more dyed red hair than she had the head for. That hair seemed to be an entity unto itself, mounded and teased and red as blood. You could have shaved her like a sheep and knitted a sweater with all that hair, maybe have enough left over for at least one sock or, if not that, a change purse. Her face was dry-looking. She had a lot of makeup on it, as if she were trying to fill a ditch, or several. Her clothes were a little too young for her age, which was somewhere near to that of a mastodon that had survived major climate change but was wounded by it. She had on bright red tight jeans and a sleeveless blue shirt that showed hanging flesh like water wings under her arms. Her breasts were too big, or maybe they were too exposed; the tops of them stuck out of her push-up bra. They looked like aging melons with rot spots, which I supposed were moles or early cancer. “

The last few pages came as a shock but I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that another Hap and Leonard book (Rusty Puppy) is on its way, and I’m looking forward to the premiere of Hap and Leonard on Sundance TV in March 2016.

Available to purchase via

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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.

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Also by Jaye Ford reviewed at Book’d Out

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.

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Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore


Title: The Big Rewind

Author: Libby Cudmore

Published: William Morrow Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 02 to 03, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t resist the premise of Libby Cudmore’s debut novel, The Big Rewind. I have a cracked vinyl case full of mix tapes, including the odd one or two given to me by ex-boyfriends that I have never been able to throw away, even though I haven’t had a working cassette player in more than a dozen years.

Wannabe music journalist Jett Bennet is rocked when she discovers the bloodied body of her neighbor and friend KitKat while dropping off a mis-delivered package containing a mix tape full of songs about love and heartbreak. Despite a lack of grounds, police suspicion falls on KitKat’s missing boyfriend Bronco, but Jett, who temps as a proofreader at a private investigation firm, speculates that the mysterious compiler of the mix tape may have motive, and with the help of her best friend, Sid, hunts for the sender.

The Big Rewind is a murder mystery and a love story. As Jett searches for the person responsible for KitKat’s murder, she reminisces about her romantic past, browsing her own collection of mix tapes from former lovers. On her mind is the one that got away -Catch, even as her feelings for best friend Sid begin to change.

“There isn’t a better feeling in the world-not an orgasm, not a first kiss, not even that glorious soaring sensation you get when those first few notes of a new song pierce your chest and fill your whole body with absolute bliss-than acknowledgement that your mix tape was not only received and played but enjoyed. It’s a dance of sorts, balancing songs you think the listener will love while trying to say everything that otherwise dries up in your throat before you can get out the words.”

I liked Jett, though given she is aged only in her mid twenties or so, her sense of nostalgia is a little excessive and her fixation on her lost loves is a little unhealthy. Her motovation for solving the murder is a little flimsy but she unpicks the mystery in a way that makes sense given her lack of experience.

The Big Rewind has a turn of the century hipster vibe what with Jett’s mentions of Trader Joe’s, French Press coffee makers, kale and pot brownies, and visits to vegan bakeries, strip joints, retro vinyl record stores, and basement clubs which is a little painful, but also kinda fun.

What I probably enjoyed most was Jett’s eclectic taste in music, dozens of songs mostly from the 1980’s are referenced throughout the novel, playing to mood and emotion.

The Big Rewind is a quick and easy read, quirky and fun.

Want a playlist to listen to while you read? You might like to start with the following songs mentioned:

Keep Me in Your Heart – Warren Zevon
What You Doing in Bombay – Tenpole Tudor
Simply – Sara Hickman
Champagne – July for Kings
Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
Pure – Lightning Seeds
The Book I Read – Talking Heads
2 became 1 – Spice Girls
All for Love – Bryan Adams
She is My Sin – Nightwish
I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers
Bury My Lovely – October Projects
Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First) – John Mellencamp
Sunrise – Simply Red
Waiting for the Weekend – The Vapors

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Review: How to be Single by Liz Tuccillo


Title: How to be Single

Author: Liz Tucillo

Published: Simon & Schuster AU February 2016

Status: Read from March 28 to 29, 2010  – I own a copy

My Thoughts:

How to be Single has been re published to tie in with the movie release of the same name starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie, Leslie Mann, and Damon Wayans Jr.

I read this novel back in 2010 in my pre blogging days but posted some thoughts on Goodreads at the the time which I have shared below.

Maybe because I have never really been single, I just found this trite. From the perspective of being married, I want to tell these thirty something women to grow up and get over the princess in waiting attitude. I feel like most of the women have completely unrealistic expectations of what love and commitment are. Really if the reason Julie can’t get a guy is because she is only a size 6 and has cellulite – then how does that explain the hordes of happily coupled/married size 12 and up women?
Julie in particular is shallow and unlikeable, even before she decides that her true love lies in an already married man (no matter how open his marriage may be). I mean, really? I am wondering why she even bothered leaving her hotel when “researching” – somehow I think speaking to less than a dozen people in an entire country does not count as thorough investigation.
The girls who are left at home are much more interesting – Georgia falling apart in the wake of her husband leaving her, Ruby contemplating single motherhood, Serena acting like a total flake and Alice holding on to an ideal in the face of reality.
There were moments in this book – warm and humorous, but overall I think this book is irritating and I am not the least bit surprised that Julie remains single.

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Watch the official movie trailer

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.

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Also by Kirsty Eagar

@ Goodreads

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