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VickiT (Australia)

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Price: £2.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YA must read, 11 Oct. 2015
This review is from: Ky! (Kindle Edition)
“Reading books had always been the best way for Rida to learn, and to escape from reality. In the detention centre, she’d read to take her mind off the intolerable heat, the endless kilometres of red sand and the razor wire. Now, she read to avoid two bullies who didn't like her. Rida was the only Muslim at her school, and wearing a hijab made her stand out. Wearing glasses didn't help either.” – Ky!

The schoolyard can be a scary place, and even more so if you’re different in any way from your classmates. And so it is for Rida, the only Muslim in her school.

The story of Ky! is told in an engaging and easy reading style, but underpinning it all are strong messages about bullying, multi-culturalism, illness, courage, and fortitude. But more than anything, it was the strength of the relationships on all levels that touched me most.

This is a book aimed at teenagers, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to adult readers as well.

Deadly Messengers: A Psychological Thriller
Deadly Messengers: A Psychological Thriller
Price: £5.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Dark thriller, 1 Oct. 2015
“‘A necessary evil,’ said the voice in her head. She knew this voice. Liked this voice. Wanted to please this voice. Whose voice it was she didn’t know. Now she thought about it, she didn’t care. The voice was right. This felt like a necessary evil. In fact, evil was the wrong word. Life changing, more accurate.” – Deadly Messengers

Hooked by the “3 massacres, 2 detectives, 1 writer, 0 answers” tagline, I raced through this intense and edgy thriller. I must admit, though, I skipped some of the more horrific details. Susan May’s writing is strong, the plot both intriguing and unusual.

My one disappointment was I had expected an Australian setting from an Australian author, not an American one.

If you enjoy gritty thrillers with a good helping of detailed violence, you’ll love Deadly Messengers,

War of the Shadows
War of the Shadows
Price: £2.21

4.0 out of 5 stars Clever mix of fact and fiction, 2 Sept. 2015
“Here, streams did U-turns to keep up with the bucks and twists of a tortured landscape. Here a broad valley came to a narrow neck with a stream forcing its way through. And plugging that gap was the steel trap of a barbed wire fence.” – War of the Shadows

The blurb for this book does not do the story justice at all. War of the Shadows is a robust and compelling read with no hint of the dryness the book description implies. The story is a clever mix of fact and fiction that is packed with tension and conflict balanced with lighter moments.

War of the Shadows is told in third person omniscient – not my favourite, but it works well here. My one niggle is the occasional head-hopping mid paragraph, which I must admit I found disconcerting.

But the strength of this book, and what I loved most, is the strong sense of place and time. A character in its own right, it added real depth to the story and made me feel I was right there. Impressive.

At the end of the book there is a map and informative introduction to New Zealand.

After Ariel: It started as a game
After Ariel: It started as a game
Price: £2.26

5.0 out of 5 stars Twist in the tail, 28 Jan. 2015
"Grant Winslow went down in a shower of Kevlar vests and testosterone with a police dog hanging off his bum." -After Ariel

After Ariel is the third Diana Hockley novel I've read and I think her best yet. Hockley's writing is fluid, the characters engaging, and the plot intriguing. It's a suspenseful, fast and easy read with a distinct Aussie flavour. (The author provides a glossary for readers not familiar with the Australian vernacular.)

And I loved the twist at the end, which caught me by surprise. Highly recommended.

The London Stories (Emily Castles Mysteries)
The London Stories (Emily Castles Mysteries)
by Helen Smith
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Agatha Christie with a twist, 13 Nov. 2014
This review is for Three Sisters (Emily Castles Short Mysteries Book 1).

"When she was at school it had always been implied that heavy lifting should be avoided because it might damage a woman's uterus. Now she hoped that if she came to grief from ignoring this advice, and the blasted thing shot out of her as she heaved at the suitcase, that at least it might land on Chris's head and choke him, mythical giant squid-like, with fallopian tentacles." - Three Sisters (Emily Castles Short Mysteries Book 1)

Three Sisters is quite a departure from other Helen Smith titles I've read, but regardless, her quintessential quirkiness shines through. She has a way with words that brings a story to life that will have you smiling one moment, frowning the next.

Agatha Christie with a twist is probably the best way to describe this cosy mystery. Emily Castle plays amateur detective to a unique cast of larger-than-life characters (another Helen Smith trademark). Three Sisters - the title will become evident at the end - with its sense of theatre, is a short (novella) but entertaining read, which I have no hesitation in recommending to cosy fans.

The Hunter's Prey
The Hunter's Prey

5.0 out of 5 stars Lock your doors, 30 Oct. 2014
This review is from: The Hunter's Prey (Kindle Edition)
"Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they are in the game." -Paul Rodriguez

Chilling, easy reading (if easy is a term that can ever be applied to true crime) accounts of murder from around the world. It's almost inconceivable what happened to these women. But I think what resonated with me most about all these cases is the ordinariness of the victims, women who did nothing wrong, women who happened in many cases to simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Women who could be anyone of us.

Jill Meagher's case in particular hit home. Jill, a 29-year-old Melbourne woman, was raped and murdered while walking home from a night out with workmates. It was a walk she'd done many times before. When Adrian Bayley decided to go hunting, however, she didn't stand a chance.

I, like many women, have walked that same street Jill Meagher did, oblivious to the evil lurking in the shadows. A timely reminder that we need to remain vigilant at all times.

Price: £1.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic and poignant, 11 Sept. 2014
This review is from: Unforgivable (Kindle Edition)
"Nuns walked across the wooden floor, not speaking, accustomed to the screams as much as to the smell of ammonia. Business as usual. Except for the girl crying out and the swish-swish of black or white habits, the scene resembled a silent movie--quiet and without colour." -Unforgivable

Powerful and poignant, Unforgivable has an authenticity about it that goes way beyond mere historical fact. The people are real, the emotions complex and deep. The standout character for me was Sister Gregory, a nun with both empathy and conviction. A nun who didn't always agree with the Catholic doctrine.

The story summons up conflicting emotions. Sadness, because even though it's fiction, it's what actually happened in 1960s Australia. Admiration for those same teenage girls, who despite being forced to give away their babies sight unseen, never forgot. Or forgave.

Highly recommended. If you enjoyed Love Child, the Australian TV series, you'll love Unforgivable.

Rosie By Name
Rosie By Name
Price: £0.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, 26 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Rosie By Name (Kindle Edition)
"N-never mind them. Just get this bloody spider out of my hair." -Rosie By Name

A fun coffee-break read about a brothel receptionist who goes above and beyond to keep her boss happy. Rosie By Name is a light, easy read, and with plenty of Anne Brooke's original metaphors and similes to keep you entertained until the twist in the tale.

Writer's Block (Constable Country Mysteries Book 1)
Writer's Block (Constable Country Mysteries Book 1)

4.0 out of 5 stars Reminiscent of Dorothy Sayers, 16 Aug. 2014
"Fiona stood with her hand still on the doorknob. Her mouth hung open and her eyes stared in disbelief. Kate stood in horror and stared from the wreck of a man on the floor to her aunt and back." --Writer's Block (Constable Country Mysteries Book 1)

A most charming and entertaining English cosy reminiscent of Dorothy Sayers. Havens' captures life in an English village, with all its secrets and scuttlebutt, perfectly. I really enjoyed Havens' fluid and easy writing style. The characters are real and, with the exception of the US mom used in lieu of the UK mum, the dialogue is natural.

Writer's Block is a good clean read with no sex or strong language and suitable for most ages.

Death on Demand (Tito Ihaka)
Death on Demand (Tito Ihaka)
Price: £8.54

5.0 out of 5 stars Entertainment plus, 23 Jun. 2014
"To Ihaka Wellington meant sagging skies the colour of birdshit and pedestrians leaning into the wind as if they were entering a ruck. People were always saying you can't beat Wellington on a good day, and this was obviously what they meant: a perfect sky, the harbour as flat and inviting as the crema on an espresso, dry warmth, crisp light." - Death on Demand

One of those books you can't put down, though I couldn't pinpoint why. Maybe it's the larger-than-life characterisations. Or maybe it's the gritty dialogue. I don't know, but Thomas's Ihaka series could be easily adapted for television - and it'd be a hit.

Highly recommended to all but those who are offended by strong language.

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