Book Review: Paranoid.

A review of: Paranoid – By Lisa Jackson.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42191274-paranoid

TITLE:

Paranoid

AUTHOR:

Lisa Jackson

GENRE:

Thriller/ Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

368

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Luke Hollander was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, 20 years ago in the town of Edgewater. And his half-sister, Rachael, has been living with the guilt of it ever since.

What was meant to be a silly teenage game, turned deadly in a heartbeat, and Rachael still doesn’t know who replaced her soft pellet gun for a real one.

Rachael continues to blame herself for shooting Luke, and regardless of the relationships her guilt erodes, she can’t seem to move on and forget the horrors of that night. And judging by the whispers of everyone else in Edgewater, they haven’t forgotten either.

My Thoughts:

Paranoid, by Lisa Jackson, was a quick and easy read. Her writing flows well and leaves the reader wanting more. Jackson writes a compelling mystery – giving the reader enough of the past and present tense to keep up the guess-game, right to the very last page.

I was actually one of the many readers who seemed to think everything was all tied up, I knew who the culprit was and the story was done – when the last piece of the puzzle came along and whacked me in my silly, proud face.

My only qualm was that the shock ‘twist’ happened so late in the book, I felt I had already had closure and was ready to move on to a new book. Although there were a couple of telling clues, there probably could have been a few more, in order to make the ending seem more ‘complete’ rather than a tacked-on last thought.

My Rating: 3/5

Quote Of The Day 19/02/2020

WEDNESDAY, 19/02/2020:

Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/172192385738798615/

‘Sometimes waiting is the hardest thing of all.’

– Luanne Rice

Book Review: The Wife and The Widow.

A review of: The Wife and The Widow – By Christian White.

Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=the+wife+and+the+widow+book+cover&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GB&sxsrf=ACYBGNQZG-vD6l6NBHT0NvziNVg6pO0PkA:1579939548785&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwipism8pZ7nAhXPV30KHVj6ChEQ_AUoAXoECA0QAw&biw=1242&bih=524#imgrc=3rBlZ5AolU-_sM:

TITLE:

The Wife and The Widow

AUTHOR:

Christian White

GENRE:

Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

384

GET IT HERE:

christian-white.com

Overview:

The Wife and The Widow is White’s (author) second novel, following the spectacular release of his debut novel, ‘The Nowhere Child‘.

The Wife and The Widow follows two stories: one of a wife named Abby, and the other of a widow – Kate. Both women find themselves on the island of Belport, searching for a murderer, and answers to questions they haven’t even thought of yet.

But as they search, they uncover things best left buried, with their stories becoming dark and increasingly intertwined.

My Thoughts:

Christian White’s second book really proves that the first one wasn’t just ‘beginner’s luck’. The Wife and The Widow is an extraordinary book following an incredibly intricate series of events – but White pulls it off stunningly well.

Although it is hard to write a detailed plot review without too many spoilers, The Wife and The Widow reminded me of ‘The Silent Patient‘ in some respects, by creating suspense by containing more than one point of view of the same incidents. It is hard to flaw this novel, as it is so precisely written, in order to keep the reader captivated until the very last word.

Christian White is truly someone to keep an eye on – he is currently working on his third novel, which will no doubt be much anticipated by his growing fan-base (myself included). I would 100% recommend reading this one!

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Suitcase of Dreams.

A review of: Suitcase Of Dreams – By Tania Blanchard.

Source: https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/Suitcase-of-Dreams/Tania-Blanchard/9781760851675

TITLE:

Suitcase of Dreams

AUTHOR:

Tania Blanchard

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

448

GET IT HERE:

Simon & Schuster

Overview:

Suitcase of Dreams, by Tania Blanchard, is the sequel to ‘The Girl From Munich‘. Picking up where the last book left off, the main character, Lotte, arrives in Sydney Australia, after the war in Germany.

Lotte and her family are desperate for a new beginning in Australia, hearing promises of abundant work and opportunities in the new and vibrant country. But Lotte and her husband Erich soon find Australian life to be much harder to settle in to.

Erich’s engineering qualifications aren’t recognised, the migrant working conditions are dismal and the attitude of some Australians toward them and others put a different spin on the life they were sold.

Erich and Lotte find they have to work doubly hard to provide a safe and secure place for their two daughters in this strange, new country. Slowly but surely, the two of them begin to find their place in Australian life – Erich building a business in carpentry, while Lotte pursues her photography career.

But will the family’s challenges and misfortunes build them up, or break them down?

My Thoughts:

This sequel follows the struggles of Lotte and her family now that they are in Australia. The author, Tania Blanchard, provides an incredibly moving insight into how life was for migrants after the war – many promised lives that never came to fruition.

Much like the first novel, Blanchard gives a strikingly raw story of love, loss and sacrifice, reminding the reader of the not-so-distant past. Touching on not only Nazi-Occupied Germany, but the Vietnam War and migrant conditions, she captures the true essence of their struggles, but more importantly, how Australia became somewhere so many could call home.

Whether you’ve read the first installment or not (which I would highly recommend), this novel is beautifully written and worth reading.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Firestarter.

A review of: Firestarter – By Stephen King.

Source: https://www.stephenking.com/library/novel/firestarter.html

TITLE:

Firestarter

AUTHOR:

Stephen King

GENRE:

Horror, Fiction, Thriller

PUBLISHED:

1981

PAGES:

416

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com

Overview:

Charlie McGee is no ordinary child.

But when you haven’t got ordinary parents, it’s only to be expected.

Charlie’s parents (Andy and Vicky) took part in a Government-run college experiment in the 60’s, when scientists were trying to find a link between psychedelic drugs and psychic abilities. Their experience was something they tried to brush off, but strange things begin to happen to them.

Andy and Vicky try to live a normal life, in a normal neighbourhood, eventually having a child – Charlie. But Charlie is not normal. At an early age, Charlie shows signs of extraordinary talent – drawing power from seemingly thin air.

But the Government isn’t done experimenting yet. ‘The Shop’ – a firm of secret Government agents – is determined to detain Charlie and her father, and continue studying Charlie and her father’s abilities.

Andy and Charlie go on the run, trying to evade and expose The Shop, in order to live out their lives in peace. But keeping one step ahead of The Shop is harder than they first thought…

My Thoughts:

This was the first Stephen King novel I have read – so I went into it with an open mind. Usually I steer clear of Sci-Fi and stick to historical fiction and story-lines based on facts, so this was a little out of my comfort zone.

That aside, the story was great to follow – filled with suspense and anticipation for what was going to happen next. The role of Andy being a father who simply wanted to make sure his daughter had a normal life is very relatable and also quite heartfelt at times.

Although the ending left me with some unanswered questions, I felt like that was all part of the intrigue of this sort of genre, and still thoroughly enjoyed the book.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: Cilka’s Journey.

A review of: Cilka’s Journey – By Heather Morris.

Source: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/fiction/popular-fiction/Cilkas-Journey-Heather-Morris-9781760686048

TITLE:

Cilka’s Journey

AUTHOR:

Heather Morris

GENRE:

Historical Fiction, Romance, Holocaust

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

324

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com

Overview:

Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris, is the sequel to ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which is based on true stories from World War II in Nazi Germany.

The novel follows the journey of Cilka Klein, who is taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp when she is just 16 years old. When she arrives, Commandant Schwarzhuber notices her beautiful long hair and separates her from the other prisoners.

Cilka suffers ongoing sexual abuse from two S.S. Officers and is given horrific tasks, which she must do to survive. But these tasks and her perceived position of power create feelings of anger from the other prisoners.

When Auschwitz-Birkenau is finally liberated when Cilka is 18, she is condemned for her role at the Concentration Camp. Cilka is charged as a collaborator for sleeping with the enemy and sentenced to 15 years hard labour in a Siberian Prison Camp – Vorkuta.

Imprisoned once again, and guilty only of surviving, Cilka faces challenges both new, and yet also horrendously familiar. She finds herself taken under the wing of the female doctor at the camp, and begins training as a nurse, determined to help others survive.

Cilka’s story is one strength, determination and survival, even in the harshest of circumstances.

My Thoughts:

Just like ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz’, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ saddened me deeply. Her story is one of many million suffering souls, forced to experience the unbearable.

The novel carried over nicely from the first installment, with flashbacks of Cilka’s time in Auschwitz-Birkenau to provide context and perspective. The Author, Heather Morris, did her research (and well) – providing a harrowing experience of what life must have been like for thousands of people post-war.

My only criticism of this book is the same one I had for ‘The Tattooist of Auschwitz‘, which was that the novel sometimes seemed rushed – especially toward the end. It seemed as though the ending was squashed in as an afterthought, becoming a tad predictable.

That being said, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ was still an exceptionally moving, heartbreaking and gut-wrenching account of the atrocities of both during and after World War II.

Whether you have read the first novel or not, ‘Cilka’s Journey’ is worth the read.

My Rating: 4/5

Quote Of The Day 11/11/2019

MONDAY, 11/11/2019:

Source: https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/565342559472043239/

‘Do your time before it does you.’

– Trent Dalton

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See.

A review of: All The Light We Cannot See – By Anthony Doerr.

Source: https://www.readings.com.au/products/18759436/all-the-light-we-cannot-see

TITLE:

All The Light We Cannot See

AUTHOR:

Anthony Doerr

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2014

PAGES:

531

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

‘All The Light We Cannot See’, by Anthony Doerr, is an incredibly moving story of a blind French girl (Marie-Laure) and a German boy (Werner) whose paths collide during the second World War.

Both Marie-Laure and Werner have very different struggles as the war begins to devastate Europe. Marie-Laure re-locates to her Uncle Etienne’s house in Saint Malo from Nazi-occupied Paris, while Werner escapes his poverty-stricken orphanage in Germany by securing himself a place in a Hitler-Youth Academy.

Marie-Laure begins to go blind at a young age, and has to learn to navigate the world in a completely different way, with the help of her father, who works at a museum. Young, determined and capable, she finds solace in the wonder of the outside world – feeling her way through sounds, smells and miniature models of the city, made by her father.

Eventually, Marie-Laure and her father must flee to her reclusive Uncle’s house, who lives in a tall building on the coast of Saint Malo.

Across the border, Werner lives in an orphanage with his younger sister Jutta. Inquisitive and exceptionally bright, Werner tinkers with old radios, fixing an old one up to listen to with Jutta. They listen to a nightly science program together, which inspires Werner, who writes down his many questions about the universe in a small journal.

Werner’s talent with fixing radios soon makes him popular in the village, and his skills in math eventually win him a spot at a coveted Hitler-Youth Academy – where he can escape an otherwise gloomy life of coal mining in the village.

Eventually, Werner finds himself amidst the action, helping Germany locate radio signals from the enemy, where he sees first hand just how damaged the country has become.

My Thoughts:

‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a true work of art. The parallel lives of Marie-Laure and Werner are wonderfully written – it is teeming with detail and single moments that took your breath away. The back and forth story-telling by Anthony Doerr provides a stark insight into how utterly different the lives of two young people can be.

The story-telling in this novel was incredibly detailed, reminding the reader that there is an unseen world all around us, filled with love and loss and everything in between.

Although heart-breaking at moments, this novel was beautiful and truly moving to read. This novel writes in a way that made it easy to see just how easily our fates can be woven and unwoven, without ever knowing what could have been.

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The President Is Missing.

A review of: The President Is Missing – By Bill Clinton & James Patterson.

TITLE:

The President is Missing

AUTHOR:

James Patterson & Bill Clinton

GENRE:

Crime Fiction, Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

513

GET IT HERE:

ebooks.com

Overview:

What happens if a cyber-terror attack was to occur in the United States – on a scale that could take every electronic device in the country, and completely shut it down? There would be no phones, no internet. no television and no computers.

But what about the stock market? What happens if every person’s wealth dropped to zero? What happens if all the government’s data was wiped? How would we know who has healthcare? Who would be able to tell criminals from civilians – the rich from the poor – or even our own identities, all stored electronically? Who could access the nations nuclear weapons?

Without cyber-security the entire nation, and even the world, is at risk of rapid deterioration.

The President is Missing follows the story of the United States’ President Duncan, as he navigates the political minefield of his workplace and an immediate, imminent threat to his country. Enemies from around the world are planning a cyber-attack of epic proportions, threatening to completely disrupt civilian lives.

With time and lives on the line, the President is forced to question who in his inner circle is trustworthy, and who is not. And then, he goes missing, with an entire nation waiting with bated breath and an administration left in confusion.

My Thoughts:

I decided to go out on a limb with this novel. This isn’t generally the type of book that I read, but I decided that it could be interesting, as it was co-authored by a former President.

Although it is very obvious that James Patterson probably wrote 90% (or more) of this book, there were some interesting details and small snippets of information provided about what life might be like in the White House, which definitely came from Clinton himself.

The President is Missing was a better book than I expected, although quite predictable in some parts. It got me thinking about how scary things would get if we did fall victim to a large scale cyber-attack. The fact that there are people working day in and day out, both on our side and on the enemy’s side, is both scary and comforting all at the same time.

I liked this book, and if you’re into a generic kind of thriller, mixed with a little ‘something extra’, this might be the book for you.

My Rating: 3/5

Book Review: The Book Thief.

A review of: The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak

TITLE:

The Book Thief

AUTHOR:

Markus Zusak

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2005

PAGES:

552

GET IT HERE:

ebooks.com

Overview:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is narrated by ‘Death’ himself. The story follows Death’s memory of a person he is particularly fond of: Liesel Meminger.

The book begins in 1939, when Liesel Meminger and her brother are sent to live with a foster family in Molching, Munich, after tensions begin rising in Nazi Germany. However, Liesel’s beloved brother dies on the journey, and she is forced to bury him in a graveyard beside the train-tracks.

While fare-welling her brother in the snow, little Liesel finds a book, dropped by one of the men who dug his grave. She doesn’t know how to read, but tucks it away anyway, to remember him by.

At first, Liesel is hesitant of her new Mama and Papa (Rosa and Hans Hubermann). Worried about the whereabouts of her mother, and haunted by the death of her brother, she tries her best to fit in. Liesel is picked on at school for not knowing how to read or write and feels lost in a land where her only friend is an annoying, blonde-haired neighbour named Rudy Steiner.

As time wears on, her new Papa gains her trust and begins to teach Liesel how to read – starting with the book she pocketed from her brother’s grave-site: ‘The Gravedigger’s Handbook’. Slowly, Liesel learns to read and write, finding solace in the words and a special liking of thieving books with her friend Rudy.

The story of Liesel Meminger is one of friendship and tragedy, hopeand pain, and the importance of the words we say, write and read in the defining moments our lives.

My Thoughts:

This novel is as much devastating as it is life-changing. The narration from ‘Death’ is an important and interesting factor in the novel, providing character depth where there usually is none. This depth gives the reader a glimpse into the ‘souls’ of those who Death knows, and is portrayed in a way that is truly heartbreaking.

The Book Thief is the sort of story that shows that the truth is not always right, or what we want or even what we need, and that where there is darkness, there will surely be light too. The novel lays bare the suffering of so many, in so many different ways – from the Jews, the poor communities and even the Mayor’s wife – everyone hurts over something.

The Book Thief was gut-wrenching, painful and beautiful to read, and should be on everyone’s list of ‘to-read’. This novel truly shows the power of words in the hands of the right people, and also the power of words in the wrong hands. A masterfully written piece, with the ability to unsettle and affirm, all at the same time.

My Rating: 5/5