Waking Romeo by Kathryn Barker (Book Review)

It’s a time travel book, so things get a bit confusing. So, it’s sometime in the future. Time travel has been invented, but only going forward in time. However, as more and more people leave the past, the present can’t be built… as such. People are barely surviving, Amongst this are Romeo and Juliet… a couple, only Romeo is in a coma and Jules is estranged from her family. But then a time traveller comes from the future, something which shouldn’t be possible, and things get super confusing.

What I love about time travel narratives is that often things only become clear toward the end, and then little things fall into place and everything makes sense. I loved this book. I trusted Barker and continuous and when it all clicked, it was great. It’s a YA romance sci fi… and Shakespeare. Ace.

With My Little Eye by Sandra Hogan (Book Review)

Australia in the 1950s. Living a seemingly normal life to those on the outside, the Dohertys are actually spies. Both parents worked for ASIO, and as part of their daily life, they used their children to watch for unusual activity, to remember number plates, to pose in places to allow their parents to take photos of people of interest and other, unusual behaviours. And to not ask questions.

With My Little Eye recounts these strange events in their lives and looks at the lasting effects of a life of clandestine behaviour on the adult Doherty children. It’s fascinating.

Trick of the Dark by Val MCDermid – Book Review

After falling into disgrace in the world of psychology, Charlie is relegated to exam supervision and other lesser tasks at her university. In addition to this, she’s developed an attraction to a woman who is not her wife. When the opportunity comes up to investigate a perceived mishandling of justice at Oxford University, the place where she was education, and where the other woman lives, Charlie is drawn away from her home. But things are not clean cut, and she finds herself unable to extract herself until she finds the answers she is looking for.

I’m a fan of McDermid, but I felt that this book had a few plot hole issues that I found difficult to ignore. Overall, it was a good mystery with red herrings, mis-rememberings and reveals that were very engaging. However, to thoroughly enjoy it, I needed to push aside my scepticism about certain aspects, and felt that perhaps had parts been reframed in some way, I would have believed it more.

This is How We Changed the Ending by Vikki Wakefield (Book Review)

Nate is sixteen and in a really tough position. His dad is abusive, particularly towards his mother. His family is struggling, his dad grows weed at home and he can’t see a way out. He gets some respite at the local youth centre, and escapes into his words in his ever-present notebook.

I seem to be in a patch of reading a lot of gritty Australian YA novels about teenage boys who are trying to get out of bad situations, and while they are all good (the ones I’ve been reading at least) it can be a bit much to be reading such similar, desolate content over and over again. Especially during a pandemic. This is definitely a good one, it’s bleak and difficult, but with a ray of hope. And a fantastic cover.

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay -Book Review

Do we really want to know what’s going on behind the scenes in the world of medicine? This is Going to Hurt has ex-doctor now comedian Adam Kay writing about his experiences as a junior doctor coming up through the NHS. There are funny stories and sad stories and plenty of gross stories. And it’s a really warning to… who? Politicians? Voters? Patients? That the flaws of the NHS are deep. It was released in 2017 based on journals from about a decade previously, and so maybe there is hope that changes have occurred. And maybe for me, there is hope that the Australian system is better.

I feel like I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone with a deep distrust in government and government run services as I feel as though it might confirm their beliefs. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to the squeamish. But for everyone else, it is extremely funny with moments of pathos.

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White (Book Review)

Kate’s husband has gone missing and (unsurprisingly given the title and chapter headings) turns up dead. Abby is a local on the island where his body is found, an island that barely survives in the off-season when tourists aren’t around. There are connections, but can you find them?

I came to this book after reading a lot of really depressing stories and it was exactly what I needed. A fast paced who dunnit, what dunwhat book. Thrilling, exciting, good characters, twists and turns. I read it in almost a single sitting.

The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling by Wai Chim (Book Review)

Anna is trying to juggle school and raising her younger siblings while her mother is in a deep depressive episode and her father is running the family restaurant. It’s a lot, and it just keeps piling on.

This book does an excellent job at juggling a whole heap of different issues, from mental health to teen romance and family responsibility. I wanted Anna to have a better life, to have people around her who would accept (and seek) assistance, and to give her a chance at normalcy.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Book Review)

A famous painter has been convicted of killing her husband and has never spoken of it, She lives in a secure, psych facility and it’s only when a criminal psychotherapist comes to work at the facility that perhaps the truth may come out.

This is one of those books that make me glad that I persist with books, because for three quarters, or perhaps even more, this book annoyed me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, it just annoyed me, but then suddenly, toward the end, I loved it. Things seemed to fall into place and I really liked the journey Michaelides took us on.

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton (Book Review)

Jaxie is a teenager living in rural Australia who flees home after his father dies in an accident which he thinks he might be blamed for. He heads out into outback Western Australia, luckily with some hunting skills, intent on getting to Lee, and escaping somewhere with her. When he ends up in the middle of nowhere at the home of an exiled priest, things take a turn.

I run hot and cold with Tim Winton. He writes beautifully, and crafts wonderful characters, but sometimes I just don’t like them. I’m torn with this one. I found Jaxie a very hard character to like, but Winton gave me a really empathy with him and his situation. And then the book got a bit strange, and then it just ended and I was left wanting more. I wanted to know what happened to Jaxie next. I feel like it just left me in the middle of nowhere with him.

The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child (Book Review)

Reacher is in Tennessee when he comes across his latest soul needing help – this time it’s an IT manager who has been fired from a local government position after a massive cyberattack which many deem his fault. As always, Reacher stumbles into the situation and, despite having no dog in this fight, decides to get to the bottom of it. And that’s why we love him.

This is the first book co-written by Andrew Child. It’s my understanding that Lee is retiring from writing the Reacher novels, and is in the process of handing the baton to his brother. If Andrew can keep up this level of Reacher-ness, I’m ready for it.