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.

SPOILER:
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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Flower in the Attic by V.C Andrews

Flowers in the Attic (Dollanganger, #1)Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure how to begin this one.
I was gripped by the story – using Cathy’s voice as the storytelling medium was perfect because had it been mixed between the children, or included a voice from outside the room, I don’t think it would have worked.
I couldn’t put it down, and sort of felt a little ripped off that the ending wasn’t more in-depth. I wanted revenge for the children and I wanted to see their mother suffer.
I liked the irony that the incredibly pious parents created such a vain, selfish and heartless daughter. That the version of purity in this book was so far removed from what was right, you couldn’t help but feel this was a stab at religion as well as at the corruption of capitalism and it’s systems.
The incestuous story was handled with care, and was handled well – although I feel that the scene in the attic could have been used more. I feel this because the fallout didn’t really become imagined in the way I believe it was intended to. There were some musings of Cory being a repercussion, but really that falls flat with the complete betrayal of the mother. It has certainly become iconic, and is definitely a talking point as I knew about this scene despite never having read the book until now.
I certainly question why the children wouldn’t run away much earlier, especially as Chris was of an age entering the room that he would know the life he was missing, and understand that his chances of a good education dimmed with every year.
I think this would make an excellent book club book – a lot to agree and disagree with, and many meaty topics to be unpacked!
It didn’t get a full five stars from me only because I felt it went a little too long, there could have been some parts edited out that wouldn’t have been missed. I also feel that the ending was rushed after such a long time coming. I know this is a series, but the lead-in to the next instalment could have been better.

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Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany

Exploded ViewExploded View by Carrie Tiffany
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought the darkness of this story would stop me from reading, but if anything it kept me hooked as I hoped it ended with something bright.
I couldn’t put it down, and despite some issues I had with the language, I thought it was a brilliant way of telling this young girl’s story, as she was unable to.
The language – this is a personal problem that I have with a lot of Australian literature, and it really puts me off reading Australian books. The vocabulary range in Australian literature is often made to be as dry, brittle and brutal as some of Australia’s landscape – and I hate it. I hate everything being likened to shit, I hate the cracking ground, I hate the flies in mouths, I hate the sticky heat. I’m so sick of reading about it as a defining part of a story. I hate the pissing, and the bony knees – Australian literature could have so much richness that doesn’t have to revolve around sparse, harsh language. This book had a lot of that.
What it also had was a Holden Manual, and a beautiful prose that once you were in, managed to merge parts of a car with parts of a female body. Human experience against the running of a machine and its parts. It was amazingly well done.
The girl who is mute for most of the book creates us a world that tells us of her trauma through the pages of a car manual and her sabotaging of cars, particularly one. And it works so well.
There is barely any dialogue, yet I didn’t feel like there was too much describing – in fact, there could have been more. But the pared back writing style was a credit to the author, and sets this apart from ‘Mateship with Birds’.
I would recommend this story to anyone that enjoys well-written Australian literature.

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Carry Me Down by M.J Hyland

Carry Me DownCarry Me Down by M.J. Hyland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Set in Ireland, a view of a fracturing family told from the young son’s point of view – it sounds done before. There are many books attempting to ride through adult fiction by placing us into the minds of children. This one is one of the better offerings, riding a good line between realistic children’s thought patterns, while also making insightful commentary.
The part that threw me off was the odd semi-sexual awkwardness between the mother and child. Our young male protagonist is twelve, so on the cusp of many developmental jumps. There is a lot of talk about his size and being mistaken for being much older – however, there doesn’t seem to be a purpose to this at all. The other half of that is that if he read as a fourteen year old more than a twelve year old, it would make more sense. So, there are instances between him and his mother that feel off, her responses are off, and his feelings are off. They don’t gel for me, and that made it uncomfortable sometimes. Which may have been the point, but if it was then I missed why it was important.
I liked being on the edge of his mind – was he always going to end up making the decision he did with his mother, or were there moments where we went along with him not realising the crazy there?
It was enjoyable, and it was interesting, and the gender roles of the time were explored well. I felt the boy had a pretty rough time, but I also felt that what he chose to do came out of nowhere, and it didn’t feel real to me compared to the rest of the story. Due to this, whatever poignant point this story was trying to make, I didn’t quite put it together.
The blurb told me this book was a ‘psycological thriller’, I found it lacking that entire element. If it was meant to be a snapshot of a family going through a rough time at that period from the eyes of a boy coming of age – I’m all in, it was great. The other part didn’t fit for me, mainly because I don’t think a twelve year old outcast wanting to believe he has amazing powers is strange. A fourteen year old, yes – but twelve, not really.
I liked it, but wouldn’t read it again.

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On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

On the Jellicoe RoadOn the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took a few chapters to feel part of this story, which I believe was intentional – the characters would want you to be on the outside looking in for a little bit. I couldn’t put it down after those first few chapters though, I was part of the Jellicoe Road war games.
The idea that a bunch of teenagers would wage a war around the town for the holidays was fun and gave the whole book a purpose that was always there.
I loved the idea of this story, and I thought the author did an amazing job of describing the area – the school, town and cadet camp. I could see all the boundaries, and I could feel the summer air. I loved that this story was set in a country town of Australia, but it didn’t have the usual dry Australian language to describe it – that was almost my favourite part.
The characters, wow. Every character had depth, a story, a part to play. Marchetta captured everything about being seventeen and having seen/lived trauma, and it was brilliant.

I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book (after the first few jarring chapters).

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