Month

September 2015

This Green Hell – Greig Beck (Audio Version)

This Green Hell

4 Stars (4 / 5)

I saw this audiobook on the shelf in my local library a few times over the last month or so. I looked it up on GoodReads and saw that it was the third in a series so didn’t borrow it. Usually I like to start at the first in a series, so I kept my distance. Then last week I saw it again and curiosity got the better of me. WOW So glad I gave it a go! What a ride!

Its like “Matthew Reilly meets Stephen King” in this adventure/horror/thriller/romance/action/sci-fi full throttle novel. Alex Hunter is back (or in my case I was introduced to him) in This Green Hell. Set deep in the rainforest in Paraguay, a group of scientists led by Amiee Weir, dig into the ground to find tiny micro-organisms that will hopefully be the key to unlimited energy. However what they find in the ground and in the rainforest is terrifying and may spell the end to all of mankind! Cue Alex Hunter, Aimee’s old flame (that she never really got over), to come and save the day with kick action scenes, excitement, romance, and a heap of darn fun!

You have to know going into this, its totally unrealistic. Even though the science is based around fact, and the science knowledge is quite impressive, at the end of the day this is an action book, its not supposed to be a literary masterpiece. There are parts that are totally unbelievable, but if you love the unbeliveable such as I do, this is your type of book! There is something special about a book that keeps you on the edge of your seat like this one.

The characters were awesome! The storyline was awesome! Even the totally corny bits were AWESOME

Why only four stars you ask? Because there was just something unresolved and missing about the Paraguay part of the story for me. It just sort of ended without really explaining much. It was totally going 5 stars for me throughout the whole thing and then it just lost momentum. There was a climax and then nothing, onto the next part of the story… That was the only thing I didn’t like about this book. And it wasn’t a big deal really, it was still exciting and worth it!

The audio version read by Sean Mangan was fabulous! Loved Mangans performance! I literally didn’t want to get out of my car when I was listening to it. Several times I hung around and extra 20 minutes just to listen to the next chapter! I even put an extra load of washing once just so I could keep listening while I was doing something!

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely for anyone who loves the above genres! And doesn’t mind some blood and gore!

I am super excited to read the first two novels in the Alex Hunter series. I have a feeling I am going to LOVE them.

Who can write about blood sucking vampires, a terrifying deadly, contagious-as-hell virus and an imminent nuclear bomb ALL AT THE SAME TIME?? Greig Beck can! Hats off to you Mr Beck! A CRACKING read!

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Yeager’s Law – Scott Bell

Yeagers Law

4.25 Stars (4.25 / 5)

I really enjoyed this book. It is up there as one of the better books I’ve read this year! I thought it was fantastic!

Yeager is a truck driver with some serious ex-marine, beat-up-the-bad-guys skills. So when the lovely Charlie randomly saves his life from a man with a grudge, besotted Yeager agrees to drive and pick up a load of books for her bookstore. However Charlie’s ex husband is playing her, and its not only books that Yeager picks up and brings to Charlie. Suddenly he has a bunch of bad guys after him, a drug cartel to somehow outfight, and a certain young ladies life to save!

Loved it! What a fabulous action packed read! I LOVED the action scenes! Lots of violence, blood and gore! Thought it was fantastic! There was one cringe worthy scene in particular which I won’t spoil for you, but I LOVED it! OUCH!

The characters were so likeable! Yeager! What a character! I thought he was fantastic. In the book he is described as having a Russell Crow vibe. I didn’t exactly picture him like that. In my mind perhaps I had a more Gerard Butler type in my mind… I guess they look kind of similar. Anyway he was awesome none the less! And I really liked Charlie, she is a feisty independent woman with a cute son and a dickhead of an ex husband. She was classy yet tough. Loved the secondary characters too. Victor and Cujo were awesome! Loved Victor in the action scenes! And Nina! What a piece of work she was! I thought she was a great character.

The tension and budding relationship with Charlie and Yeager was a highlight of the book for me. I love a bit of romance in a story and this did not disappoint. It was sexy without being overly graphic and the chemistry between the characters just worked.

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about this novel to be honest. I didn’t quite buy Yeager as a broke truck driver, although I’m not sure exactly why. I enjoyed how each chapter was written according to place and not character. I found it to be written very well overall.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely! Yeager’s Law is a fun ride for all action/thriller/romantic suspense fans!

Many thanks to author Scott Bell for a review copy.

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The Black Echo – Michael Connelly

the black echo

4 Stars (4 / 5)

This is the first instalment in the extensive Harry Bosch series, and also happens to be the first one that I have read (or heard in this case). I really enjoyed it.

Harry Bosch is a detective in the LAPD homicide division in Hollywood. While investigating a body found in an old tunnel, he recognises it as a fellow ex marine Meadows who served with him in the Vietnamese war. They were both “tunnel rats” who fought below Vietnam in the extensive tunnels. After recognising him, and realising it wasn’t a simple drug overdose that it looked like, Harry gets pulled into a bigger investigation. His bosses want him out of the force at any cost, and his enemies want him dead. The hunt is on for the killer before he finds himself the next victim.

This book pretty much had everything I enjoy in a novel. Bit of violence, a mystery, romance, sex, and lots of twists and turns. I enjoyed the audio version narrated by Dick Hill. He played Harry really well and I got totally wrapped up in it. However his female voices left a lot to be desired (not his fault, he is a man after all) and I struggled to listen to his impersonation of women. Especially the lead female character Eleanor.

Harry is an awesome character. I will be very interested to see how he develops in the later novels, when I get there. I also enjoyed that it was written in the early 90’s. No smart phones or internet… Everything took much longer, and the characters were constantly having to find payphones to contact other people. Not sure how we all survived back then!

I enjoyed the different storylines within the novel. Loved how everyone was out to get poor Harry, even though he was totally innocent. Sure, he didn’t go exactly by the book but he wasn’t crooked. Loved the tension and romance between him and Eleanor. Loved his ex partner. Thought all the characters were great in their own right. Even Lewis and Clarke!

The only thing I didn’t like about The Black Echo was the TOTALLY PREDICTABLE twist at the end. I must have figured it out about a quarter of the way into the book and it frustrated me that Bosch didn’t pick it up until the end. I think this was the main reason why I dropped a star.

I have the second in the series “The Black Ice”, also narrated by Dick Hill, ready to go on my iPhone. Looking forward to it.

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The Wrong Girl – Laura Wilson

the wrong girl

3 Stars (3 / 5)

The Wrong Girl was an interesting psychological thriller. It was good, but I couldn’t help feel a little disappointed.

Janice receives a phone call unexpectedly from her daughter Suzie who she gave up for adoption 40 years ago. The phone call brings her to her childhood home where she meets Suzie and Molly, Suzie’s almost-neglected 10 year old daughter. Molly is convinced that she is in fact “Phoebe”, a girl who was taken from her parents when she was 3 years old and looks strikingly similar. Molly has found proof that she is in fact Phoebe, so plans her next move to get away from her neglectful mother and into the arms of the parents who have been desperately searching for her for 7 years. Meanwhile Janice has to deal with the emotional turmoil of finally meeting her child and “grandchild” and the death of her brother. When Molly disappears secrets begin to surface.

The two main characters that the narration focuses on in this novel are Janice and Molly. I found it interesting to have two such different ages in the focus characters. It was done quite cleverly. The language and mannerisms between the two characters were extremely different and I thought that it was done very well.

I loved Janice’s character. A wild young girl growing up in the age of Rock and Roll. Where free love was the way of life for the youth. Now an older woman with regrets and guilt. She was multidimensional and extremely likeable. “Conforming to nonconformity had, in many ways, been just as difficult as conforming to the old, repressive rules and however much everyone pretended otherwise, it had caused just as much heartache.”

Molly was another good character. I loved her innocence and the way her mind worked and the conclusions that she made from different events throughout the novel. Her mother Suzie was well written, I really disliked her… In a good way! She had so much emotional baggage that she took out on her daughter. The secondary characters were good. They all have their demons…

Overall it was a good read.

However… I was disappointed with how slow moving I found this book. It wasn’t until at least the 70% mark that it started to improve and had quite a good ending. But it couldn’t completely make up for the slow start. In the first 70% there was a lot of emotional stuff, which was interesting in its own right, but it got really repetitive and I found myself struggling to get through it.

The last 30% however was excellent. It was exciting and held my interest – I breezed through it.

The only other problem I had with it was I felt it was just a bit all over the place with the primary mystery. It was a bit confusing to figure out exactly who was related to who, who knew who, and there was a lot of mention of characters that didn’t have anything to do with the story, I felt it was slightly disjointed. However it got there in the end.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, it was a good read overall and a solid 3 stars.

Thanks to Hachette Australia via NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Deeper Than The Dead – Tami Hoag

image

4 Stars (4 / 5)

I am totally addicted to audiobooks now! I absolutely LOVE being able to do other things while I listen to a book! I listen when I’m doing the housework, driving my car, folding the washing… Even have it on speaker when I’m in the shower! Feels like I am accomplishing something when I am doing menial tasks! Love it! And I LOVED this Tami Hoag thriller! This is the first book I have ever “read” of Hoag’s, but it absolutely wont be the last!

The year is 1985 and while running through the woods, children find the body of a woman buried in the ground. Her eyes had been glued together, the ear drums destroyed and the mouth glued shut. It is soon apparent that they have a serial killer on their hands in the town of Oak Knoll, as two other bodies have been found this way in the last two years. Investigator Mendez calls out FBI agent Vince Leone t0 help with the case. Vince is an expert at the controversial new skill called “profiling” (controversial back in 1985 that is…), and he uses his talents to find the killer. The story also delves into the lives of the children who found the body, and mainly focuses on their teacher Anne Navarre, who finds herself at risk of becoming the next victim.

Deeper Than The Dead was a great story! Although I was a bit disappointed with the ending and the “twist” that was not really a twist at all, I was still thoroughly entertained by this wonderful book.

The audio version worried me at first, as Kirsten Potters American accent is quite heavy, and I cringed at having to listen to it for 10 hours. However she did a really great job at the narration. I enjoyed her performance and after a little while the accent didn’t distract me at all. I especially enjoyed her portrayal of Chicago’s Vince.

The characters were all really detailed and enjoyable. The children were written really well , I really enjoyed how all the characters interacted and intertwined within the story. Loved the 1985 setting. I can barely remember when mobile phones weren’t the norm, and fingerprinting was done by a fingerprinting expert and not a computer system. Really makes you thankful for the technology that we take for granted today. DNA evidence was unheard of, and even police reports had to be sent or faxed over. No email here folks!

Loved the romance, even though it was EXTREMELY corny. I want to marry you after knowing you for 3 days and going through an extremely traumatic ordeal… Yeah right… But still, I found myself getting swept up in it. I love a bit of romance with my thrillers!

My favourite character was Vince by far! Fabulous! Bullet in the head Vince. I hope he is in the future novels set in Oak Knoll, yes this is the first in a series apparently.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely! Thought it was a great read! Looking forward to future ones, hope the audio versions are done with the same narrator!

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Melophobia – James Morris

Melophobia

 

4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)

Wow! Great book! James Morris does it again with another captivating YA novel that is sure to get people reading!!

Melophobia is set in an alternative, dystopian America, where somewhere along the way all music became outlawed. The government is in control of all things that can cause anarchy. The Beatles got arrested, and even listening to music became an offence punishable by harsh law. The story follows young Merrin, an undercover patrol officer, who spends her days (and nights) busting underground raves, parties and concerts – To rid the world of music once and for all. She is tasked with finding “The Source”, a musician who is talented in all genres of music, and distributes it to his followers. Merrin goes deep undercover to find “The Source”, but begins to question everything in her life as she begins to fall in love with the music, and the man behind it.

First of all, LOVE the cover! Simple yet gets the point across in a BIG way! I also love the title. Melophobia = Fear of music…

I REALLY enjoyed this book! Im a bit hit-and-miss with dystopian settings, but Morris’s music-free America was so well done! It was a fascinating and interestingly original setting! What a dark and dismal world it is without music! I am glad I don’t live in it!

Absolutely loved the characters! Merrin had a lot of growing to do throughout the novel, and I really liked her by the end. I enjoyed the unrequited love triangle, and Anders unhealthy almost obsession with Merrin. I loved how Merrin was the daughter of an important government figure and the back story of her mother and what happened to her absolutely made the novel for me! Loved the twists and turns! Don’t want to give anything away!

Loved the romance, it has a sexy scene that might be a bit graphic for the under 16’s, and a bit of blood and gore. But It had everything I love in a book; mystery, a great setting, bit of romance, bit of sex, bit of violence, twists and turns and was overall an extremely satisfying read!

I love how even in a book, music can be described so beautifully! I could easily resonate with the description of the music, as if I were sitting there listening to it myself. Just goes to show what a powerful thing music is and how we all take it for granted.

I enjoy YA dystopia novels because they help people understand oppression. This book is no exception. I can easily imagine this book becoming the next Hunger Games. It has the potential to be HUGE!

And what a dramatic ending!! I can’t wait for the next one! I truly hope that this book reaches the masses because it is FABULOUS!!

Big thanks to author James Morris for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

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The Saddler Boys – Fiona Palmer

the saddler boys

4 Stars (4 / 5)

FINALLY!!! Its taken quite a lot of books to get there, but here we are, The Saddler Boys… A romance worthy of 4 stars!! Absolutely delightful!

So city girl Nat is from an affluent Perth family and has just finished training to be a teacher. She excitedly moves out to a small town in the middle of Western Australia called Lake Biddy (A real place, I checked!) to become the new school teacher. She has a few reasons for going. She is pretty much scarily obsessed with teaching, and she wants to show her parents that she can do it, as well as her city boyfriend. She also wants to be by herself for a while before she has to deal with the pressures of her life, marriage, children etc etc… She starts teaching at the local school and starts to develop a friendship with Drew, one of her students fathers. Oh and he just happens to be drop dead gorgeous and available… Attempting to ignore the ever growing sparks and tension between them, she deals with the split between her city life and her “perfect” boyfriend, and the new home she has found at Lake Biddy. Meanwhile Drew’s ex is back and wants to be involved in their sons life even though she has never met him, and thinks take a dramatic turn.

I thought this was a lovely book. Considering I am an Australian, I don’t read many Australian authors… Especially those books set in outback Australia. For some reason I avoid them. I find that it usually doesn’t interest me. However this book has made me think again and has perhaps made me a bit more open to trying more Australian authors and books set in Australia.

Palmer’s writing is so easy to read and flowed almost flawlessly. She actually had me enthralled from the first few chapters which I wasn’t expecting. I am already looking into reading some of her earlier work.

I enjoyed that although it was a romance, it had other aspects of it. It had quite a lot of drama. The relationship between Nat and her boyfriend Gary took a turn I was not expecting and I found I was glued to the book and finished the whole thing in one sitting! Drew’s ex coming into the picture was a pivotal part of the story and also had me captivated, especially towards the end.

The characters were great. I was expecting Nat to be prissy and more annoying, but she was well written and I found myself liking her a lot. Drews little boy Billy I thought was adorable. And Drew… What a dreamboat!!! When I first read that he was dashingly handsome with a great body and a winning personality I admit I did roll my eyes a little bit, but his character had a great depth that I really enjoyed.

Ok, sure it was predictable… Its a romance, they are meant to be. Ultimately you know what’s going to happen at the end, but the ride was extremely enjoyable and a lot of unexpected things did happen to make up for it!

The ending I found to be a tiny little bit of an anti-climax. A little bit of a let down. But I did love the budding tension between Nat and Drew throughout the book. At times I felt it dragged on slightly, and that along with the disappointing ending was probably the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely, it was great!

Many thanks to Penguin via NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Followed By Frost – Charlie N. Holmberg

followed by frost

5 Stars (5 / 5)

I cannot even express how much I loved this book. It has completely stuck with me in the 24 hours since I finished reading it. I keep going over and over it in my head! I have been extremely lucky finding good books this year, and this one is another one to add to the favourites list!

 I think the first thing that captured me was the cover. It is beautiful. And having finished and reflected on this book – the cover really captures it perfectly.

I had no idea what to expect from this book, and that made it all the more beautiful. The synopsis peaked my interest – but gave nothing away as to the essence of the book, and I’m extremely glad because it was such a pleasant surprise.

This is predominantly a romance novel, and a beautiful one at that. I don’t want to go into the plot much as to give anything away, as the romance somehow caught me unexpectedly and developed so beautifully I was left breathless. I really don’t want to spoil it for anyone else by divulging too much, so I will sum it up very briefly. Smitha is 17 years old and is, quite frankly, a bit of a bitch. She is mean to people and thinks herself superior to others in personality and looks. She lives in a small village with her family and conspires with her best friend Ashlan. When a young man named Mordan makes his intentions clear that he wants to marry her, Smitha is absolutely disgusted and is absolutely horrible to him “Surely a toad could hold my interest longer, and be more pleasant to look at”. OUCH!!! And turns out she pissed off the wrong man, because unbeknownst to her, Mordan is actually quite a powerful wizard and angrily puts a curse on Smitha, making her the bearer of eternal winter. She is forever cold, everything that she touches turns to ice, and everywhere she goes brings with her a horrible cloud of rain and snow. After people in her village start to die because of the freezing cold, Smitha is forced out to brave the cold alone. However she isn’t totally alone, as death has taken an interest in her, and wants her to come with him to reign in the after world.

What a beautiful message this book has! Treat people as you would like to be treated, or perhaps you too will be cursed to brave an eternal winter. Smitha changes so much throughout the novel and it is lovely to see. She morphs from a spoiled brat into a beautiful selfless woman. It is about forgiveness and dealing with the cards in front of you. Not blaming others for the misfortunes in your life.

The writing in this book flows so easily, I absolutely loved it. The romance was just so beautiful. There is always something lovely about a romance where the main character has some problem and is unable to physically touch people. It is impossible, and it makes the tension all the more palpable. I was absolutely SWEPT up in it!

So many young adult novels have let me down lately, but THIS BOOK, Followed By Frost, is the reason I persevere. A beautiful book, with an amazingly beautiful message. I already want to read it again!

“For happiness has wings, and when burdened by the things a man should want, Garen could not reach it.”

Many thanks to 47North via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Release Date – 22nd September 2015

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Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

 

5 Stars (5 / 5)

I had a vivid dream a week or so ago. I was at the top of a giant tower. For some reason I had been there all day and I desperately wanted to go home as I was incredibly tired. I crowded into the lift with a handful of other people, none of whom I knew, and we began to make our descent to the ground floor. I remember the dream vividly. Suddenly the elevator jolted and we began to plummet to the ground. As the force of the fall flung me to the roof of the small enclosure, I KNEW I only had mere seconds to live. I immediately thought of my husband and my son, and the reality that I would never see my son grow up came into my mind. I knew I only had seconds left. We were falling, falling down, like on some tremendous rollercoaster. I made peace at that moment, quickly reflected on my life and I pictured my smiling son’s face in my mind and knew that this would be my last moment on earth. We hit bottom. I awoke with a start, sweat pouring down my face, and I could hear my son laughing in the other room with his dad. I cant even begin to describe the relief that poured into me then. The dream had been so real.

I only write about my experience last week because when I began to listen to the audio version of Burial Rites it reminded me of my dream. The darkness that Agnes endures, was like my seconds in the elevator, but drawn out so, so much longer. What an incredible book. The dark haunting atmosphere of this book will no doubt stay with me for a long time to come, and I imagine will always remind me of that brief instant in a dream elevator where my life was ending.

Loosely based on a true story, Burial Rites is the story of Agnes, the last person in Iceland to be put to death for murder. She is sent to a farmhouse to serve the remainder of her sentence before her execution, much to the family’s discontent. There, she receives spiritual guidance from Toti, a priest in training. Slowly she begins to open up to Toti, and the family about her history, her life, and what happened that fateful night that she was accused of killing two men in cold blood. Slowly the truth begins to unravel, and the family begins to realise that Agnes might not be the cold hearted murderess that everyone thinks she is.

I don’t even know how to describe this novel. I saw it in my local library audio book section and remembered seeing it on GoodReads and thinking that for a historical fiction book (not my forte), that it sounded good. It had great reviews and was written by an Australian author and was soon to be made into a movie. So I thought “Why not?”. Surprisingly it was read by Morven Christie, who had narrated my favourite character in “Code Name Verity” which I read recently, so it didn’t take me long to get used to her hauntingly beautiful voice.

It is set in Iceland which is another reason this book appealed to me. It is on my bucket list and I was interested in what it was like back then in the 1800’s, in such a cold, desolate, yet beautiful place. And I’m not going to lie. It’s pretty depressing. The way of life is hard and dangerous, as it was in most places back then. Children died in infancy, women in childbirth and the cold bred nasty infections for everyone. The way Kent describes everyday life in such exquisite, depressing detail is so profound. I am new to audio books, and can’t remember ever before being captured by beautiful prose like I was while listening to this book. My favourite moment of the book, even though it was in a depressing part of the book, was when Agnus was young and her foster father took her out into the cold to watch the northern lights. Their description sent shivers down my spine. I could see them in my minds eye so clearly.

Even before I listened to the authors notes I knew the research that went into this novel was obviously a HUGE undertaking. Thoroughly impressive! Kent’s love for the country is obvious, and it made me want to go and visit Iceland even more!

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely!!!! I HIGHLY recommend the audio version. Just don’t listen to it if you are in the mood for a feel good book! But my gosh! – Its marvellous!

If you enjoy Burial Rites, you may enjoy:

code name verity

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Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts – Janet DeLee

taking leaps and finding ghosts

3 Stars (3 / 5)

Ginny has a lifelong dream, to own her own house, a cottage. She starts up a social group for people who have a dream they want to fulfil. There she meets numerous people all with different dreams, and they help each other on the road to accomplishing them. From an aspiring musician to a man who wants to rid his business of ghosts. Yes ghosts… They form a wonderful friendship along the way.

This was a delightful, feel good book about the power of intention and positive thinking. I am a firm believer that you take from this life what you give, so it was refreshing to read about a happy character who believes similar things.

The characters themselves were delightful. There were some witty conversations and humorous occurrences through the book which were entertaining, and I certainly didn’t dislike any of the characters. It was obvious that the characters meant a lot to the author.

However, I feel this book was a bit slow for me. I was interested in the ghost story, but I felt it was quite anticlimactic. Also I found I was not interested in a lot of the subject matter. I’m not really into arts and craft or cooking and it fell a little flat for me.

There was such potential for a beautiful romance! The characters were there, one was divorced and one was single, and there was even talk of attraction and romance from other characters, although not the characters directly with each other. There were numerous chances for something to happen between the characters when they were alone – So I was expecting and looking forward to something happening. I was disappointed that this didn’t occur at all and  not explored further. I felt this was the most disappointing thing about the book.

However, it was still a lovely read, but potentially more suited to an older audience. I really enjoyed the positiveness and cheerfulness of Taking Leaps and Finding Ghosts.

Many thanks to the author for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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