Rosy & John by Pierre Lemaitre

Camille is one of my favourite detectives, I love his quirky nature, his unusual view of the world and his utterly reliable nature.

This is a short, clever novel, just exactly what I’d expect from this author, no messing around, just straight into the action. A bomb explodes in a Paris street, a young man confesses almost immediately to setting it and then tells the police that there will be a bomb explode every day until his mother is released from jail and they are given safe passage to Australia. The police are determined to make him break down and confess to the location of the bombs, but this young man is not telling. Not now, maybe not ever. Disaster may not be able to be avoided.

Of course Camille is central to the storyline, as this story twists and turns you see his clever mind whirring away, sifting through the threads.

It is great. A little gem. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.

An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed, stories by Helene Tursten

Maude might look like a sweet old lady, but she is quite the most single minded and murderous little old lady I’ve met in a book. This is the second of this series and I thoroughly enjoyed it, maybe not quite as much as the first, but it is engaging and I raced through it having a lovely time. Maude is so extremely murderous, and the problem with that is that the very annoying police are constantly irritating her looking for her victims.

In this outing we get to find out more about Maud and her back story. Of course that isn’t at all comforting because she has been murdering people right and left all her life. People can be just so irritating and she and the world are better off without them, so she knocks them off.

You’ll enjoy this if you like a short entertaining read. It is unlike anything else and a really good time. How can a book where the main character just kills those who irritate her? I really don’t know but it is definitely the case with this.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for giving me access to this.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

If you’re after a good-hearted, full of enchanting characters, then get hold of one of T.J. Klune’s books. They make me ridiculously happy. Our hero is Wallace Price, a fabulously unpleasant man, a nasty piece of work. He dies. Yep, we open with our main character’s death. Crikey he is angry about that, he has stuff to do, he is important, it absolutely does not suit him to be dead. Worse he is able to observe people mourning him, but not enough, there just isn’t enough of an outpouring of grief at his demise for his taste. The Reaper comes to collect him and takes him to what’s next. That turns out to be an unassuming house that seems to store people who are transitioning from one phase of death to the next. It’s a kind of purgatory. While he is there he is going to learn a lot about his fellow humans, a bit late because he is dead right now!

As Wallace comes to terms with being actually dead, he begins to transform, to deal with some of the things that made him so angry and unpleasant in his life, and to accept people. All this while dead! This all sounds quite strange, but it is written beautifully and while it is full of lessons about acceptance and diversity, it’s funny and sad and poignant and a great deal of fun.

I think this would be a great book for the school library, something a bit different, I definitely thought there would be a YA audience for it. Now that I’ve read two of this author’s books I’m going to hunt out some more. They have such a light touch they make for a very good reading experience. I really enjoyed it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this gem.

Blood On Vines by Madeleine Eskedahl

Quintessentially kiwi, Blood on Vines is the first book of Madeleine Eskedahl and I hope it isn’t the last, and the signs are good, book 2 in this series is on the way we’re told at the end of this one. Set in the gorgeous wine growing area of Matakana near Auckland, it is a lovely place to go for great food, warm weather, nice beaches and a warm vibrant community, all that comes across in this novel. This is the story of a group of friends who were there working on a vineyard during their uni holidays. Time has passed, they have families and settled down, or they have high flying jobs. Time as gone by, some keep in touch, some not so much. When a human hand is found under one of the friends houses it seems creepy but nothing to do with them, but as bodies start to mount up, threatening notes are left and generally things get creepier and nastier, there is cause for a great deal of concern. Something connected to their experience in their youth is putting them in grave danger. Things are getting very dark. This puts pressure on the team of two police officers, one of whom is best friends with a victim. I so enjoyed reading about the police officers, the young rookie and the sage older man.

It is a nicely complex mystery. I thought I had it figured out, then I didn’t, ah ha I thought, got it, but no. Fooled again! I did figure it out in the end and was very satisfied with the red herrings laid and clever management of the reveal. This book is an excellent beginning to what I hope if a great crime writing career. If you like your crime novels nice and dark with some great gore, this’ll make you very happy. Y

Thanks so much to the author who sent me a copy to review. I really enjoyed it and will look forward to the next one. ou can follow her on Instagram @madeleineeskedahlauthor

Falling by T.J. Newman

Haven’t read a thriller in ages, not sure why not but probably because I have been surrounded by so many other good options. This is a hijack novel, but this time with all the twists you could ever imagine. Prepare to gasp as it unfolds. Action all the way.

A pilot receives a message which states that his family are being held hostage, strapped to bombs. They will be blown to bits if the pilot refuses to crash the fully loaded plane. He is to tell nobody, and will be caught out if he does as there is an informant on the plane. What is he to do? His beloved family are in mortal danger, he is a good man, how can he kill all of the people on the plane, and this includes a close friend on the cabin crew. It is the very worst kind of dilemma.

This is such a great ride. The machinations of the way it plays out are fantastic. Nicely twisty and turny with a fantastic cabin crew as our heroes.

I finished it in 2 days, a quick read and its rekindled my interest in thrillers.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman

We Are Inevitable by Gayle Forman CR: Simon & Schuster

This took me ages to read, which wouldn’t ordinarily be a good sign, however, once I saddled up and devoted undivided time to it, I liked it. It is a slow burn, a very slow burn. I was confused at times and found myself a little bit lost with the characters, who was who and where did they fit? What exactly was going on? How did this kid suddenly come to own a bookshop at his tender age? Gradually it became clearer, but I wonder how much tolerance for this the target audience might have. So in that way, it does miss the mark a little bit. It rewards perseverance which most teens are not going to put up with.

In the end, I became attached to the characters, I really liked their quirk and I loved the inclusiveness and the way that diversity of gender and sexuality was just part of their lives. I quite like a YA story where the parents are a bit useless and the teens have to take charge. There are some definite glitches but the overall feeling I had at the end of the book was that it was a good read. Not a great read, but one that is rewarding after the halfway point. I’m kind of damning it with faint praise, mostly because I’m a bit conflicted.

I loved that it was set in a bookshop. I loved that there was a strong music element. I really liked the romance, fraught with difficulty but full of goodness. The parent thing is problematic for me. I’d have loved a firmer hand with the editing to make the beginning of the story as strong as the second half. In the end, I don’t think it is memorable, which is a shame, because this author can write wonderful books.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book.

The Gaps by Leanne Hall

Anyone who is a fan of the current wave of crime hitting the YA shelves will love this book. It was a slow read for me at the beginning, but once I was in I couldn’t put it down. This is an abduction story, told from two perspectives, you’d be forgiven for not totally getting that you were getting two points of view – at least I didn’t realise for quite some time. So, a little bit of confusion at the start. But I’ve still given it 5 stars so you already know I thought it was good despite the confusion.

It is a missing person story. Yin Mitchell, best friend, great student, well known to all at school, has gone missing. One minute here in school, doing the everyday stuff, next minute gone. Is she murdered? Has she run away? Both of these seem very unlikely, but the fact is, she isn’t around anymore and her family are desperate and her friends are scared and upset. We hear Chloe’s point of view first, she is a scholarship student, she is new to the school. The others have come through from primary, but she is new. Talented and hard working but with different a different life to the other girls at this private school. And then we meet Natalia, someone who has a posse of acolytes, girls who hang on her every word, she and Chloe are not made for each other they clash and Natalia makes Chloe pay. But tying these girls together is the mystery of Yin. They are both affected, both so needing to know where she is.

There is tension, school politics, mean girls, music, art and conflict. I thought it was wonderful, loved the scenes where the art is described. It is a cleverly constructed, interesting novel.

Off the Map by Scot Gardner

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book. Scot Gardner is one of my favourite young adult authors. I don’t think I’ve ever met a book of his that I didn’t like.

This one is short stories, all set in a small country town, the protagonists are all young people and all of them have a great story to tell. These stories all give the reader pause, they deal with some hard stuff some of them. It is often hard being a teenager and that is captured here in the voices of the stories. They take risks, they hurt each other, they test the rules and they love each other. Some of their young lives are impossibly difficult and some of them are just fine, or are they?

I think some of these stories would be great class read alouds. It would make me really happy to think that lots of young people read these stories, or had them read to them. Another fine book by this wonderful author for young adults. 

RuPaul by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the only things my 3 kids have in common is their love for RuPaul’s Drag Race. It unites them as they discuss the outfits, the relationships between the queens and the unjustness of some of the dismissals on the show. This Little People, Big Dreams book is really cute. I adored the pictures and it is satisfying to read. Just the right amount of information for a little fan of the show and a great way of introducing children to the diversity in society. It’s super cute and is a great format. Just right.



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The Electric Kingdom by David Almond

Gaze upon this glorious cover! Enlarge it. Look at it’s detail. Siiiiggghhhh!

I loved this novel. Loved it! It is thoroughly weird, beautifully written and I’m going to miss spending time with these characters now that I’m done. I read it slowly, savouring it. I found it moving and so incredibly sad at times, but it is a novel with such a big heart that I also laughed at other times.

This is post-apocalyptic fiction at its very best. At times you aren’t quite sure what you’re reading, but this is a quest book, trust the author, he is going to bend your mind and break your heart. Nico is wonderful, a character I just totally loved. When she meets a group of kids who have a history that ties them together, you just know that this is going to be a wonderful lot of relationships. Kit, my heart belongs to Kit, a treasure of a character. A ragtag group of kids facing danger, trying to survive a pandemic, killer flies who carry people off by sheer numbers lifting them up and carrying them away. It is horrific! I love the use of cinnamon as a deterrent to the flies.

There is so much, so very many ways that this book is amazing. It confirms that David Almond is one of my favourite authors for young people.

Thanks so much to Text for giving me access to this wonderful book. I loved it.

Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Argentina before and I really enjoyed reading about this sporty young woman and her hopes and dreams to be a professional soccer player. A life which is not what her parents have planned for her. Camila must practise and play her sport in secret, to keep her life separate from her family so as not to get into trouble with her volatile father and she doesn’t want to upset her mum. On top of this is the childhood friend Diego, whom she adores, and it turns out it is mutual, but he is in Italy, playing football for Juventus, far away and her heart pines for him.

I really enjoyed this book, read it quickly, though it has taken me a long time to write this. It has a slightly uneven pace but I think it works really well. The pace matches the fast paced games of soccer, and the angst that Camila feels is well written. I really loved the relationships she had with her family and the way that she decides to stand up to her dad. Great book for young people to read a different perspective on life, to learn about life in Argentina and for those who love a sport book which is well written, those are few on the ground. Great book for a school library.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book.

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

There is something about Trent Dalton’s writing that I love, his short sentences, slightly disjointed sometimes stuttery ways should irritate me, but they really don’t. I find them engaging, and gripping. I can’t wait to read the next page.

This is Molly Hook’s book, she is gutsy and brave and has the most unusual sidekick you can imagine. A shovel called Bert. Look, it all sounds so silly but it just works. Molly is the gravedigger’s daughter, and the daughter of a mother who was a dreamer, literature lover, and disappointed woman, a woman whose potential was never realised. Molly has grown up in abject poverty, she is a little girl who is used to making do, used to dealing with a drunken father and an abusive uncle, and she takes solace in poetry and the books her mother owned. She is used to being alone. But Molly’s uncle has a girlfriend who is a delight, Greta is a beautiful drunk with a bad reputation but a heart of gold. She is an actress in a town that doesn’t appreciate her talents with an abusive boyfriend who she can’t leave behind. And Greta loves Molly.

When Darwin is bombed by the Japanese, Molly and Greta set off together to set about reversing a curse put on Molly’s family. At the same time, a Japanese pilot, crashes and lands in their path and thus a threesome of travelers become adventurers, questers and friends.

This book takes a bit of work to get stuck into, but once you are in these characters will sweep you away. This is a weird kind of magical realism. Just suspend your disbelief and get stuck in and you’ll find a story that is not like any other. You’ll fall for Molly from page one, you’ll despise her relatives and come to understand the value of unexpected consequences in her life. This is a gem of a book. What the heck is Trent Dalton bringing us next? I can’t wait to see. These first two have been amazing, unusual, and moving. I’m totally there for anything he brings me now.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book, I bought my own copy because I loved it so much.

Prodigal Son by Greg Hurwitz

I really like Evan Smoak, I like his attitude, his cool apartment and his uncomplicated stance on right and wrong. This latest offering takes us into the past, the time when Evan is in an orphanage, where he is spotted by Jack, although the way he ends up being Jack’s protege is not straightforward, and we wouldn’t want it to be.

Evan gets a message from someone who appears to be his long lost mother, but how could that be, he has never met her, she has never been in touch with him. This woman sets him a task which of course will be dangerous and life threatening, I mean it has to be, thats how these books work. So, despite Evan’s compulsory retirement, by order of no less than the President, he is back on task, investigating and protecting and being shot at and beaten to a pulp as per usual.

Another great addition to the series, best of all I love that you can dip in and out of the series and still get the gist. Evan is a machine with a heart. The boys and staff at my high school love these books. We all hang out for a new one. I’ll be recommending this one very highly.

Consolation by Gary Disher

This is the third novel in my new favourite crime series. I’ve told all my crimey friends to read this series, they are reliably good, great comfort reading. There is enough action to keep you turning the pages furiously, Hirsch is one of the nicest cops you could ever hope to meet, the bad guys turn up in unexpected places and the scenery is so beautifully written. I’m so invested in these novels that when this one was finished I had a terrible moment of sadness that I’d have to wait for ages to get a new one.
This time Hirsch has a ‘snowdropper’ to deal with, someone who steals women’s underwear, the middle aged and elderly women of Tiverton are troubled by this, it is making everyone uncomfortable. Hirsch has dealt to the awful cops of Redruth, they have been replaced and now he has a decent boss, but she is not in town and Hirsch is acting chief. There is a lot of crime going on, a child being treated appallingly on a remote farm, a stalkery teacher, a local businessman has gone missing. And managing to keep track of all of this, plus patrol his huge remote area is full on.

What makes these books so engaging is Hirsch. His mild manner, his love of music, the way he relates to the people in town and the recurring characters are becoming like old friends to me. These are quiet crime of the very best kind. This new one is a great addition to the series.

Thanks Netgalley and Text publishing for giving me access. I loved it.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Nasty! A lot of nasty in this story, and that’s what makes it so good. Sit back, suspend your disbelief and get ready to be hooked.

Margot knows nothing about her family, there has always been just her and her mum. That has been enough, but Margot has been emotionally shut out by her mum, and now she has a clue to her mother’s past and she runs off to investigate. What she finds is a town full of damaged people, huge secrets and very scary going ons. She finds a grandmother who is manipulative and downright creepy, and cops who are trying to pin a crime on her gran. And before that there is a fire, a terrifying, nasty and destroying fire.

This was an audiobook, read amazingly well by Lauren Ezzo, she got the tone just right, the pace and her reading set just the right notes.

I really enjoyed this, found it hard to stop listening to and I’m looking forward to reading more from this author. Give it to kids who loved One of Us is Lying.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for giving me access to this great audiobook.

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Oh my this is grim! As I was reading it I was really hoping that it wasn’t based on the real experiences of the author, or anybody!

Jas and her siblings are growing upon a farm in The Netherlands. They fantasise about what life might be like over the other side of the lake. Then one sad winters day Jas’s brother disappears, he has drowned, fallen through the ice. The family begins to break, the tension between their parents is horrible. Jas tries to understand her feelings of pain and growing up with no adults paying attention and begins to behave in really damaging ways. All of this family are broken. Terrible things begin to happen and on top of it all their beloved cow herd become afflicted with foot and mouth disease.

This book was totally riveting. It was so awful, one of those books you can’t take your eyes away from because things get worse and worse but you are compelled to keep going, hoping all the while that Jas will come through this, that they will begin to repair themselves and that their mother will begin to eat again. There is creeping menace and there is tension, there is also a lot of wincing as situations unfold in front of you.

Broken people, harsh lives, uncomfortable and unpleasant and brilliant.

The Greatest Superpower by Alex Sanchez

Out of the blue, Jorge and Cesar’s parents announce that they are getting a divorce, at least that is how it seems to them. They are 15 year old twins and they are shocked. Jorge has always been close with his dad but when he announces that he is moving out into a house nearby that rocks his world. Then when his dad announces to the family that he will soon be transitioning into a woman called Norma that is an even bigger shock. This is the story of what happens to the relationships in the family, about love conquering all and friendship, with people who understand you and will help you through your troubles.

I really loved the relationships in the family, between Jorge’s mum and dad, with each other, and with the boys. The chats they had were lovely, warm and felt very real. I loved the diversity and the way that Jorge’s friends accepted Norma. I loved how it wasn’t all plain sailing and I thought the issues were dealt with sensitively. With any book about transgender characters there are always community members who will find a book inauthentic. What I want is for there to be books with characters dealing with issues about rainbow families and characters and for there to be lots of them. So, for me, this book is a win.

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman

I loved The Magicians and it’s sequel The Magician King, so I was really excited to get started on this audiobook edition of The Silver Arrow narrated very engagingly by Simon Vance. It was provided to me by Netgalley and the publisher.

This is quite different from the previous books, and pitched at middle grade readers but I think that some of the younger high schoolers I know would appreciate it’s lovely fantastic feel, especially the fans of Phillip Reeve and Angie Sage. It is a fantastic adventure, and one which appears a simple story on the surface but it has some great messages about taking care of the planet and looking after each other.

A rather precocious girl asks her rich uncle for a birthday present. Kate is most surprised that he agrees and a beautiful silver train is delivered to her house, she and her brother Tom jump aboard and the adventure begins. The train is managed by a crew of animals with whom she has no trouble communicating. Some of them need careful management. The train itself needs careful management, the flames in the engine can never be extinguished, this will be a challenge as the journey takes the passengers on the train through extremely cold, dangerous and underwater locations.

It is lovely story with lots of themes of resilience, teamwork, the value of friendship. It is an action filled adventure and I really liked it.

Rosy & John by Pierre Lemaitre

Camille is one of my favourite detectives, I love his quirky nature, his unusual view of the world and his utterly reliable nature. This is a short, clever novel, just exactly what I’d expect from this author, no messing around, just straight into the action. A bomb explodes in a Paris street, a young man […]

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

If you’re after a good-hearted, full of enchanting characters, then get hold of one of T.J. Klune’s books. They make me ridiculously happy. Our hero is Wallace Price, a fabulously unpleasant man, a nasty piece of work. He dies. Yep, we open with our main character’s death. Crikey he is angry about that, he has […]

The Book of Knowing by Gwendoline Smith

This is a great book for anybody curious to find out about how your brain works when it is sending you messages of stress and anxiety. What is going on in there when your thoughts are whirling, when you get stuck and can’t make decisions and prevents you from living as you want. This book is a handy book for teenagers but it is interesting for anyone who is interested in the brain and how it works.

It is written in a light hearted way which makes it really accessible. Perfect for any school library. Funny cartoons, hand drawn charts and diagrams make it very user friendly too.

If someone in your life is suffering from stress or anxiety, hand them a copy of this book. But read it yourself before you do.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book.

His & Hers by Alice Feeney

hisThis is a deliciously devious thriller. Twisty and turny and a book to keep you guessing all the way along. This is a gritty book. Plenty of violence to be had, bodies abound, people are horrible to each other and to top it off an unreliable narrator or even more than one. I thought I had this one pegged early on, but it turned on me and messed with my mind and had me trying to figure out exactly how all the pieces fitted together all the way.

This book has really cool narration. The actors are sufficiently creepy which fits perfectly with the story. Positively creepy. Richard Armitage has the perfect voice for Jack, who is investigating the case and Stephanie Racine does a brilliant job of the nuanced role of news presenter Anna Andrews whose ambition sees her chasing murder stories, trying to take down her rivals. There is such a lot going on in this story, double crossing, lies, blind ambition and resentment for things long past. Phew!

If you like your thrillers full of mystery and intrigue and told in multiple voices and in this case voiced really really well, get hold of this book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access.