Thursday, 27 February 2020

Review: Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

Juliet Takes a Breath is a novel about a young college student from a loving but slightly crazy Puerto Rican family who comes out shortly before flying away to start a summer internship with her favourite feminist writer. Once she gets there she wonders if things will ever be the same between her and her mother again. And why won't her girlfriend answer her calls? Add to the mix that Harlowe Brisbane's motives may not be as pure as they seemed in offering Juliet the internship, and readers are left with an entertaining story of identity, feminism, what it truly means to come out and, ultimately, the importance of having--and using--your own voice.

Juliet was a joy to read about as she grew emotionally and spiritually over the course of the novel. Harlowe is portrayed quite realistically as a white saviour who nearly always misses the point and whose motives more often than not are quite self-indulgent. 

Ultimately this is a well written, novel of self discovery.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Review: Where the Truth Lies by Karina Kilmore

The debut novel of journalist Karina Kilmore (better known in the papers are Karina Barrymore,) is a gritty tale of backstabbing, corruption and murder set in Melbourne. New Zealand journalist Chrissie O'Brien has moved to Australia to start afresh after a personal tragedy. Which would be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that she is in a near constant state of self-loathing, and that her boss and most of her colleagues resent her very presence, landing a good job just at the point when many other journalists are being fired. Determined to prove herself, Chrissie begins work on a story about possible corruption on the docks. But when a female dockworker turns up dead (shortly before she was due to talk to Chrissie,) things start to take a very nasty twist. And Chrissie won't give up her battle to expose the truth, no matter what the cost.

If you are searching for is a twisty crime novel that features a main character who is both flawed and interesting, then Where the Truth Lies is for you. The author offers a gritty depiction of Melbourne, a city that despite being one of the largest and arguably, most interesting, in Australia, is rarely paid the attention that it is due in commercial fiction. And Mike makes for an interesting side character who gave the story some much needed balance.

That said, I have a couple of grumbles with this one,  in particular, Chrissie's dark past and reason for her self-loathing is revealed too soon. I feel very strongly that the author has what it takes to write a solid crime novel--something to rival The Dry--and, hopefully, readers will see this with her next offering. 

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my ARC.

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2020.

Monday, 24 February 2020

Review: The Light After the War by Anita Abriel

The Light After the War is a gently written story of two best friends, Vera and Edith who find themselves displaced after the tragic events of the Second World War. In 1946 and in their late teens, these two Hungarian women find themselves as refugees in Naples. They have lost everything they loved after a daring escape from a train headed to Auschwitz. What follows is a story that spans from Italy, to Venezuela, to New York to Australia as Vera carves out her career--and finds true love along the way.

Just as the title hints, this one is very light reading. Vera has clearly had a difficult time of it, but her extraordinary childhood (during which she became proficient in several different languages,) helps her to make the most of every situation while she pulls her dear but slightly less responsible best friend Edith along with her. Though they suffer some setbacks, many things came a little too conveniently, or easily, to Vera, which became annoying in places. Ultimately, though, this would be an excellent book to place in the hands of a reluctant reader, particularly one who might otherwise be put off by stories of refugees and survival due to graphic or confronting content. For seasoned readers, it makes for a bit of light escapism.

Random Trivia: This novel was inspired by the author's grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster Australia for my copy of The Light After the War.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Sweet Number Puzzle (Clip From the Curiosity Show)

My third and final (for now) clip from the Curiosity Show is this awesome number puzzle. 

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

The first instalment of American author Katharine McGee's futuristic Thousandth Floor trilogy opens with a young woman falling from an apartment block one thousand floors high. We know nothing of her, apart from the fact that she is young, female, at a party and she deeply regrets speaking with someone only referred to as 'him.' From there, the plot takes a step back in time to two months earlier (but don't worry, this book is set in 2118 so we're still well into the future,) and begins to depict the lives of several teens. There is Avery, a genetically designed beauty, whose combination of wealth, looks and sweet personality mean that she could have anything--except for the boy she truly loves. Her best friend is Leda, a slightly bitter young woman who has been cruelly let down by the boy she loves, and whose anger soon becomes an obsession. The third member of their group is Eris, equally as kind as Avery, but whose life takes a dramatic twist when her parents separate and she finds herself living in greatly reduced circumstances. Then there is Rylin, an impoverished teen whose romance with a rich kid may be her salvation, or her downfall. And finally, there is Watt, whose invention is not only illegal, but is something that could do irreparable harm to a number of people.

A little depressing in places, though thoroughly entertaining, the author kept me guessing right until the end which one of these teens would fall--and who would be responsible. In many ways, this feels like a futuristic, speculative fiction version of something akin to Sweet Valley High with plenty of rich kids, frenemies and gossip--and I love it. Who says that speculative fiction cannot have some light and bubbly moments?

On the whole, this one is an entertaining read, packed with entertaining characters and an absorbing mystery.


Friday, 14 February 2020

Puzzle - Ship Sailing Around Earth (From The Curiousity Show)

Following on from last Friday, I thought that I would share another fun clip from The Curiosity Show. This clip concerns the QE2, and has a problem to be solved for viewers.