Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd by Jonas Jonasson

Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd. by Jonas Jonasson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think we can all say that we have had a neighbour or someone at work do small little things that make us so frustrated and annoyed that we think up petty revenge ideas to spite them. Well, this is the premise of this wonderfully told story and I loved every second. I laughed so many times and it just left me feeling good.
The characters are wonderfully written, and the pace is just right all the way through. By the end it seemed that there were just a few too many happy coincidences – but I was happy to overlook those as the storyline was lovely.
Can’t say too much about the story itself without spoilers!
I took this on holiday, and it was perfect easy reading for travelling and for those times you need a feel-good, fun read.

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Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“It’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is.”

This was a story about a lot of things – a rabbit, the economy, two police officers, a father and son, a bank robber, Stockholm, a bridge, a banker. The list goes on, and I feel like I know each of them like a friend. Fredrik Backman’s ability to create stories around characters that all have personalities that are relatable is one of his best writing qualities.

The storyline can’t really be spoken about without giving away spoilers, but suffice it to say it was one of the best whodunnit books I’ve read for a long time.

My favourite character was Zara, her character development – in so much that it was, just got me with every line. Each phrase that she spoke was so thought-out by the author, and for her tone to be so consistent the whole book shows Backman’s writing is always intentional.

I felt this story was well-paced, it’s point of view changes were all at the right times, and the dialogue in the interviews was hilariously good. It was visual yet not overly descriptive – I believe there is a series, but I honestly feel like I’ve watched it already due to the excellent writing.

Highly recommend!

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The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

The Bluffs by Kyle Perry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This would be a 3.5 for me if that was available.

I thought this was a fun ride, and the most enjoyable Australian crime thriller I’ve read in a while. I like the setting – a small town in Tasmania, it’s just the right mix of creepy and beautiful. I thought the local Hungry Man story was a great backdrop, and the group of characters was fun and varied.

The Hungry Man story of 1985 still haunts Limestone Creek and I think the author did well portraying what it’s like to live with that story hanging over a town. The only problem was that it then became overshadowed by a whole subplot that didn’t need to have a place in the story and that I’m still not sure where it came from.

The characters while fun and varied, there were just too many of them with too much focus. Even though the story revolved around three points of view – none of those characters felt totally real to me, and within their points of view the other characters had too much attention so there were a few chapters where I forgot we were even looking from a character’s perspective.

Having said that – I really liked Con, Murphy and Gabby. I felt like they all had just the right mix of honesty, dishonesty and forgetfulness that all good crime thrillers are based from. I thought Con was the good outsider with a dark history that makes it hard for locals to like him in Tasmania. I thought Gabby was an energetic sidekick that was a good balance to Con. Murphy was just awesomely portrayed in every sense.

I liked the way teenage girls were represented and how their minds worked, it was both a scathing look at social media and showed how powerful a platform it can be for those who feel like they don’t have a voice.

What I really liked was that the author got major points for including powerful women characters without drawing attention to that or making it a focus of the story – they were normal people being their normal selves in normal positions. He did the same thing with the indigenous perspective throughout the story, it was a part of the plot in a completely normalised way and I loved the elements that it brought.

A few of the reviews had said you will either be satisfied with the ending or hate it – I sort of fell in the hated it column because I am a grudge-holder and wanted more justice for that brat! But it made sense and was neatly done.

I couldn’t put it down, the writing was easy-to-read and had just the right depth for that type of genre. I hope there is a next instalment to see if some of those annoying bits get smoothed out now we know the characters.

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The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Written by Stuart Turton

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To be clear, you really have to suspend your disbelief for the entirety of this story – but when you do, it’s a great ride!

I wasn’t keen to read this, it was a book club pick that I have put off for a month or so believing it would be too silly to be plausible. However, the author did really well with a storyline that could have really been awful.

I enjoyed the mystery, and I liked the idea that was behind Aiden waking up in the different bodies to relive the same day eight times to discover the murderer of Evelyn. It was filled with interesting plot changes and the never-ending question of who he could trust throughout. I liked that the influence of the mind and body of the person he woke up in played a part in what he could do with that person – a clever twist on behalf of the author that added a fun element to the twisting plot.

Anna, Daniel and the Footman were all interesting characters in their own right, and I can’t say anymore on any of them without going into spoiler territory – needless to say, they played various parts in loop and it was done in a way where they still were fleshed out characters.

There were glaring plot-holes, completely unexplained knowledge, and stretching of understandings to make leaps of judgment that were beyond acceptable – but, if you didn’t think about it and just carried on as though of course that could happen, it actually flowed quite well considering the various crossed paths that occur. And it not only flowed, it made some type of sense and was wrapped up very neatly.

The ending could have gone so many ways, and I was happy with the way it did – although, I have to say for a mystery, the ending was fantastic as I didn’t pick it, it was plausible (as plausible within the storyline as it could be), and I didn’t know what would happen at all. I could have been happy with any ending, which is another tick to the author’s clever writing.

Half the novel I felt I could have gone without the Plague Doctor, and I’m still a bit unsure about that whole background stuff. Having said that, it would have been hard for the story to resolve itself without that part – so, I learned to enjoy that complete bit of weirdness for the sake of continuing to enjoy the ride.

Couldn’t put it down, easy writing style, great ability to twist a story where it should be so confusing you can’t follow it – but you can because the author did so well at portraying it and making it accessible. You really need to be able to suspend disbelief to read, but well worth it if you want to just read along and follow a great mystery.

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Honeybee by Craig Silvey

Honeybee by Craig Silvey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Honeybee, although there was a lot of suspension of disbelief involved. Don’t get me wrong, I like a story where I have to suspend my disbelief and go with it – but as it was aiming to be realistic, there were more than a few times I was drawn out of the story with the thought of, ‘but it doesn’t work that way’.
I loved Honeybee, I liked the character and the growth. I found his lack of communication frustrating but highly believable. I really liked how Vic came into his life, and I liked the choices he made to try and keep people being nice to him.
Aggie was hard to accept as a real person, but I loved her nonetheless! Their friendship was an amazing aspect of the story and I loved her parents for their understated role.
I guess, the part I really struggled with was the mum’s addiction problems and how they were handled and shown. I also struggled with Steve as a character because I found his whole storyline too convenient and too nice for the person he was. His knowledge of Honeybee’s home and the things Honeybee knew, and the contacts Steve was supposed to have – it was all a bit silly how that ended.
In the end, it was a bit of a fairytale, which doesn’t take away from the gorgeous story-writing, and the quite brilliant observations around changing times and acceptance of people for who they are, but the cost of that clashing with old-views and beliefs. It was a great read, and I found it so easy to pick up and continue despite some hard passages.
Another excellent Australian novel that doesn’t revert to harsh landscape references to prove it’s Australian-ness – yay!

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Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very happy that this instalment broke the formula of the first three of the series!
I enjoyed the ride and the growth that Robin and Cormoran made, long overdue for both and so very welcome.
Cormoran and his relationships with family were covered in well-written scenarios that gave his character credibility in his feelings towards his family members. Joan’s storyline was beautiful and I thought she added a depth to the overall story.
I was invested in the storyline, I wanted to know what happened to Margot, and I enjoyed the time that the author took for this investigation to play out – it meant that there could be a focus on other investigations without it taking away from the main storyline or make it seem too much.
I thought that the Morris storyline was well-written and had an excellent conclusion, and I found the time given to issues women face in the workplace was enough while still being exact.
There were a few parts of the mystery where I thought the ending was going to be different, and I have to say that there were enough clues for the ending to make sense – but it still surprised me, which is exactly what I want in a crime novel.
Loved that this series seems to be back on track, can’t wait for the next one!

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All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fantastic ride that was dense while being light at the same time.
Despite knowing about the bombing of Darwin, the details of the attack were unknown to me, I found it interesting to read about that point in history.
I have a deep dislike for how Australian authors describe the Australian landscape, and I often will stop reading if a book falls into dry, harsh language. Trent Dalton was able to take me on a journey through the deep bush where I felt I saw the beauty of the Australian landscape, I could see what it looked like, it was familiar, and it wasn’t harsh and brutal. I loved this aspect of his writing in this story.
I found the characters fantastical but real at the same time, I liked their stories and progression for all characters – even Aubrey. The fact that Bert the Shovel made an impression shows the author’s talent for creating excellent characters for us to enjoy.
The tale of the curse of Tom Berry was great and told in a wonderful maze of ways that really built the curse and family history. However, I felt that Longcoat Bob said exactly what Tom Berry had told in the end, so I was a little confused about the gold being stolen and the origin of the curse.
I found it hard to get into, and there was one stop too many along the way to the ending that seemed forced. Apart from that, I really enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a great Australian tale.

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The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was excited to read this, it had great reviews and has been picked up for filming – the blurb made it sound like a gripping read in a future where climate change has taken over, with a strong female lead and eccentric characters – how could you go wrong?
It was possibly one of the most boring books I’ve read in a long time. I found nothing about this story gripping, I knew the “shock” ending by at least half way through and the main character was just un-likable.
The writing style was not one that I enjoy reading, it was as though the author wanted Franny to have a mystical quality that was really profound despite the fact that she wasn’t mystical, and is in fact annoying and has mental health issues that are brushed over because she’s so unearthy in her ways.
Two main threads of the story are based around people loving her and as I can’t find the appeal in her character, the plot didn’t flow for me.
I found the secondary characters not well fleshed out and their entire backstory told as one long paragraph rather than through snippets of them as people. Which I think is really what I felt was the trouble – I was being told and not shown a lot of this story.
There was too much backstory, too much jumping back and forth in timelines.
I can see how it would make a great drama series, because there was a lot of potential that was unexplored but I found it didn’t really work as a novel.

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Burn by Patrick Ness

Burn by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was so excited when I saw a new Patrick Ness in the bookshop that I even got the hardcover copy because I knew that I would want to share the book with someone after reading it. And I was right.

This Ness offering wasn’t as punchy as I would have liked, I felt the ending was a little rushed and I couldn’t tell if he was setting it up for a sequel or just being vague so we could draw our own conclusions – but it lacked finality.

The characters were awesome, and the world worked so well that we just don’t question that there would be wastelands with dragons in them. Or that a weird religious cult would worship them – or that they would be so extreme – as that seems to go with the territory unfortunately.

The assassin was extremely well done in terms of character and development that made sense. I really enjoyed their story and how entangled it became. I liked how he drew the strands of everyone together in a way I wasn’t totally expecting.

Lots of storylines going into one, but we didn’t lose anything. I think it’s the mark of an excellent writer to be able to have multiple characters and stories that meld together seamlessly and without anything becoming too confusing.

I did feel the ending could have been a little bit bigger – it was over so fast and then it was just done, moving on.

Loved it, would definitely recommend!

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Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews

Petals on the Wind (Dollanganger, #2)Petals on the Wind by V.C. Andrews
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I couldn’t stop reading this story, yet I didn’t want to continue reading it at the same time.
It blows my mind that this book had a popular reception – Cathy is a terrible role model for any girl to look up to. I wanted to see her get revenge so badly, I kept going though – so guilty of liking that part.
I won’t be reading the rest in the series, because I just can’t comprehend the appeal of whatever will come next.

The main reason for my dislike is that Cathy not only marries, but excuses a violently and emotionally abusive man. His actions are so far beyond what is acceptable in a relationship, and despite Cathy acknowledging that she puts men on a pedestal when they don’t deserve it – it is completely unacceptable for the book to promote the idea that she brought her abuse on because she didn’t care for her husband enough. There was never a time that she recognised that she should have left Julian earlier.
She also accepts being raped many times. WTF?

So, no – I will not be reading the rest of the series.
I thought her revenge was fabulous, if a little mentally unstable. However, I liked that the mother got what she deserved.

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