Review: Fall by Candice Fox

 

Title: Fall {Archer & Bennett #3}

Author: Candice Fox

Published: Random House AU December 2015

Status: Read from December 21 to 21, 2015   – I own a copy

 

My Thoughts:

As the third book in Candice Fox’s debut trilogy, Fall offers a riveting finale to the partnership of detectives Eden Archer and Frank Bennett.

Picking up a few months after Eden, Bennett and Archer, the latter of whom is still recovering from her injuries, are back on the job. A female jogger has been found brutally murdered in a park in Sydney, and she won’t be the last. The case is interesting, with the focus on the killer’s twisted motives.

The relationship between Eden and Bennett is no less complicated in Fall, despite Frank having saved her life in Eden. Bennett’s concern for his partner’s physical and psychological wellbeing is always tempered by the threat she poses. Bennett finally learns the truth about Eden in Fall, though it’s hardly a comfort.

“It’s always very present between us, the fact that Eden could at any time, and rightfully so, decide that killing me is the best thing for her future.”

Frank is less aware of the threat his girlfriend, police psychologist Imogen Stone, poses. Imogen, who solves cold cases in her spare time with less than altruistic motives, is investigating the twenty year old abduction of the Tanner children, an inquiry that will pit her against Eden, who will do anything to protect her secrets.

And then there is Amy ‘Hooky’ Hooku, a seventeen year old computer genius, who first came to Frank’s attention when her younger sister murdered their parents. As her father was a Detective, Amy enjoys a special relationship with the police department and is now a consultant of sorts, despite her tender age. Amy is an intriguing character who has an unexpected role to play in Fall.

“And if he couldn’t save her, he’d do the best he could to patch her up. The way he did with everything that came to him in the tip. She’d be crooked. She’d be hollow. But she’d be alive again.”

Fall is a gritty, compelling novel and provides a stunning climax to an outstanding trilogy. Candice Fox has proved herself to be a writer of remarkable talent and skill.

 

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Also reviewed at Book’d Out

 

Review: Dastardly Deeds by Ilsa Evans

 

Review: Dastardly Deeds (Nell Forrest #4)

Author: Ilsa Evans

Published: March 10th 2016, Momentum

Status: Read June 2016, courtesy Momentum

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

Dastardly Deeds is the fourth book in the Ilsa Evans cosy mystery series featuring columnist, mother, and amateur sleuth, Nell Forrest.

Having endured a busy few years, what with her twenty-five-year marriage imploding, moving house, becoming a grandmother (twice), reconnecting with her estranged father, losing her sister to England, sabotaging a fledgling relationship, and being caught up in more than one murder, Nell is looking forward to escaping it all on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise. Unfortunately her mother, her ex-husband and his new partner, her ex lover, her sister, two of her five daughters, and a murderer decide to follow.

While I missed the quirky town of Majic, the exotic setting of Dastardly Deeds lends a little more colour to the story. The first death occurs in Rome, the second in Turkey, and Nell is convinced she is trapped on a cruise ship with a killer. The twists and turns of the mystery are convincing with plenty of suspects muddying up the waters. Nell really pushes her luck in this installment, very nearly becoming a victim herself. And then just when you think it’s over, there’s another surprise.

My favourite aspect of the Nell Forrest series remains the humour, from the ‘fan’ letters (Nell writes a syndicated newspaper column called Middle Aged Spread) that preface each chapter, to the exasperated snark Nell mumbles under her breath. I also enjoy the barely controlled chaos of her family, who are thoroughly exasperating and loving.

It’s been three years since Dastardly Deeds was released, but I still have hope that Ilsa Evans will revisit the series, I want more.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

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Previous Installments

#1 Nefarious Doings I  #2 I’ll-Gotten Gains I #3 Forbidden Fruit

 

 

Review: Outback Sisters by Rachael Johns

 

Title: Outback Sisters {Bunyip Bay #4}

Author: Rachael Johns

Published: February 2016 , MIRA

Status: Read March 2016, courtesy Harlequin AU

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

This is Rachael Johns fourth book in her rural romance series linked by the fictional community of Bunyip Bay. Readers familiar with the town will recognise Frankie Madden, the owner of a local cafe, and her sister, widowed mother of two, Simone, as the tititular Outback Sisters.

When a tall, ruggedly handsome and desperately sexy stranger strides into Frankie’s cafe and sweeps her into his arms with a bone melting kiss, she is stunned, and then a little disappointed to learn Logan Knight has mistaken her for her sister. Unbeknownst to Simone, her teenage daughters, Harriet and Grace, have been playing online matchmaker.

What follows is a charming, if slightly unconventional, tale of romance when Logan introduces the sisters to his older brother, Angus. Each of the four main characters are wary of love, having experienced hurt and loss in the past, and then there is the complication of their sibling bonds. I really enjoyed the way in which the author developed these relationships, it’s a tricky proposition but one which Johns achieves admirably.

Johns writes with a great ear for dialogue and a wonderful sense of humour. This ensures her characters feel authentic, including the teens. The relatable characters have been one of the strengths of the series.

It is satisfying as always to revisit Bunyip Bay, in this book we learn Faith and Monty (Outback Dreams) are expecting their first child, Ruby and Drew (Outback Blaze) are happily engaged, and we attend Adam and Stella’s (Outback Ghost) wedding.

The Bunyip Bay series has been a delight, I’m sad to see it end with Outback Sisters though it’s a wonderful note to close on.

++++++

 

Available to Purchase from

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or your preferred retailer

 

Review: Smoke and Iron by Rachel Caine

 

Title: Smoke and Iron {The Great Library #4}

Author: Rachel Caine

Published: Berkley July 2018

Status: Read July 2018

++++++

My Thoughts:

Smoke and Iron is another fabulous instalment in Rachel Caine’s The Great Library young adult fantasy series, following Ink and Bone, Paper and Fire, and Ash and Quill.

“The Archivist made us into an ugly thing,… A thing that used fear to control the world. But we are not what he made us. We are more. We stand, unafraid. And together. Because we are the Great Library!”

In a world where book ownership is forbidden, the rebellion determined to free knowledge from the Archivist’s Iron grip, and save The Great Library, is about to spill in to war.

The story picks up almost immediately following the events of Ash and Quill. This instalment unfolds from the viewpoints of Jess, Morgan, Khalila, and Wolfe. While Jess (impersonating his twin brother, Brendan) endeavours to learn the Archivist’s secrets, Morgan has returned to the Obscurist’s Iron Tower seeking vulnerabilities she can exploit. Meanwhile Wolfe struggles to hold onto his sanity deep in the cells of Alexandria, and Khalila does her best to keep her friends, and their mission, safe and on track.

The plot is fast paced and tension filled. Each member of the rebel group has an important part to play in preparation for the coming Feast of Greater Burning, the stakes are higher, and the risks greater, than ever.

The final book in this series, Sword and Pen, is not expected to be published until 2020. Such a long time to wait!

++++++

Available to Purchase from

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Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

 

 

Title: The Kiss Quotient {The Kiss Quotient #1}

Author: Helen Hoang

Published: Allen & Unwin June 2018

Status: Read March 2019

++++++

 

My Thoughts:

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I finally picked up The Kiss Quotient from my TBR pile, but it wasn’t the racy, romantic and entertaining novel I discovered.

Thirty year old Stella Lane has everything she needs – a successful and satisfying career as an econometrician, plenty of money, and an orderly daily routine. However her mother wants grandchildren, and Stella wants to oblige, despite a lack of suitors and an aversion to intimacy. Recognising the need to overcome both of these issues, Stella approaches the challenge in her own unique way – she hires an escort to tutor her in the art of lust, and love.

The plot of The Kiss Quotient is, in part, a twist on the classic movie, Pretty Woman (if you aren’t familiar with, watch it asap!),. Though Hoang gives it her own creative flair, the novel offers the same delightful sense of unexpected romance, drama and fun.

Fair warning, there are no fade to black scenes in The Kiss Quotient, there are several explicit sex scenes between Stella and Michael. I was surprised to find such explicit encounters in a mainstream romance novel but I thought they were tastefully written, and sexy, as opposed to tawdry.

I thought Stella was a wonderful character. I’ve read several books lately that feature a neuroatypical character and I felt Stella’s voice was one of the more authentic, something that was less surprising when I learnt the author herself, and her daughter, are on the spectrum.

Michael has an interesting backstory, and though it could be said that he personifies the ‘hooker with a heart of gold’ trope, I thought he was a well rounded character. I had to google Daniel Henney (whom I recognised by sight if not by name), and I certainly can’t fault Stella’s taste in men.

A charming and thoroughly modern romance novel, The Kiss Quotient is an enjoyable and engaging read.

 

++++++

Available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin or your preferred retailer

 

Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeymoon

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

Author: Gail Honeymoon

Published: HarperCollins UK, March 2018

Status: Read September 2018

++++++

My Thoughts:

With an interesting main character, and an unexpectedly compelling narrative, I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

“I have always taken great pride in managing my life alone. I’m a sole survivor—I’m Eleanor Oliphant. I don’t need anyone else—there’s no big hole in my life, no missing part of my own particular puzzle. I am a self-contained entity. That’s what I’ve always told myself, at any rate.”

All that slowly changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, and the elderly Sammy.

Somewhat of an unreliable narrator, this character driven story is filtered by Eleanor’s unique perspective, coloured by what is likely a neuroatypical disorder and the experience of repressed trauma. Eleanor evokes both pity and empathy, you can’t help but root for her to break free from her self imposed limits.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a poignant story, dark and yet ultimately uplifting, this is a completely fine novel.

+++++

Available to Purchase from

HarperCollins Australia or your preferred retailer.

Read an Excerpt.

 

Alternate Cover

Review: Peeing in the Bush by Adeline Loh

Title: Peeing in the Bush: The Misadventures of Two Asian Girls in Zambia

Author: Adeline Loh

Published: MPH November 2012

Status: Read December 2018

*******

My Thoughts:

“I decided that I was going to live my life. In the now. To the fullest. That entire night I couldn’t sleep, becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of breaking free. My imagination thundered with magnificent dis­coveries, foreign smells, strange weather and mysterious bathroom configurations. Yes, I was going travelling, job be damned.”

Peeing in the Bush is a charming travelogue memoir.

Tired of work in her Malaysian office, Adeline Loh convinces an acquaintance, Chan, to shun the convenience of ubiquitous package tours popular among her friends and family, and instead explore the wilds of Zambia with a backpack, and a tight budget.

Written with a light, self deprecating tone, Adeline details their cross country adventures travelling through the African bush via taxi, bus, jeep, on foot and by canoe, while trying to avoid being mauled by lions, hippo’s, baboons, or crocodiles.

Adeline’s descriptions of the landscape and wildlife of Zambia are evocative, and often humorous. She shares interesting information about the country’s history and social conditions. I really enjoyed her writing, and I felt that I learned something about an unfamiliar place.

Peeing in the Bush is an entertaining and informative read, ideal for any armchair traveller.

“…memories of Zambia that would continue to haunt me for the rest of my life and make me wish I had never left. At work, on the toilet, in my dreams and pretty much whenever my mind was idle, a nostalgic collage of the Southern Cross, lions brushing past our open vehicle, boisterous markets, walking safaris, fleeing from hippos on the Zambezi, Play-Doh nshima, gliding over phenomenal Victoria Falls, bush loos, booze cruises, mud villages and spending the night in Beat-Up Van would reduce me to a space cadet for months on end. All the beautiful, warm people who shared their intriguing and scary stories with us. All the adorable animals that could not wait to devour us. And all the fabulous salmon-pink sunsets that never failed to leave me gasping for air like an asthmatic.”

******

 

Available to Purchase from your preferred retailer.

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.

 

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 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

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