Book Review: Six Goodbyes We Never Said

Six Goodbyes We Never Said – Candace Ganger – Wednesday Books – Published 24 September 2019

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Synopsis

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her. 

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It’s causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects.

My thoughts

Six Goodbyes We Never Said is an honest reflection of the complications and messiness of grief, an upfront and realistic portrayal of mental health and an ode to friendship and family, which can sometimes be as weird and tangled as it can be necessary and life saving. This book unfurls the journey of grief in a compelling and frank way, at times moving while other times delightfully amusing. It’s the perfect book for reflective readers or those who need something or someone to relate to when the world around them doesn’t reflect back what they see in the mirror.

Naima and Dew are what mainstream society would wrongly label as outsiders. Those who are different or who behave differently from society’s perception of acceptable or normalised behaviour. Both are struggling, not only under the heavy burden of grief so complex they can hardly speak of it, but with social anxiety (Dew) and the rituals and counting patterns (Naima) that has become a part of their every day existences. In each other they find someone who is facing the same complex emotional roller coaster.

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Book Review: Deadly Intentions

Deadly Intentions – Lisa Harris – Revell – Published 6 August 2019

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Synopsis

Research scientist Caitlyn Lindsey is convinced that someone is taking out her team one by one. First, a friend and research partner was killed in a home invasion. Three months ago, her boss died in a suspicious car accident. Four days ago, another partner supposedly committed suicide. And now Caitlyn herself has miraculously survived a hit-and-run. Afraid for her life with nowhere to turn, she reaches out to one of the victim’s husbands, Detective Josh Solomon.

Though initially skeptical about Caitlyn’s theory, Josh soon realizes that the attack that took his wife’s life was anything but random. Now the two of them must discover the truth about who is after Caitlyn’s team–and what their end game is–before it’s too late.

My thoughts

Deadly intentions by Lisa Harris is a fantastic thriller. It reads like one of my favourite TV crime shows, with just the right amount of action, intrigue, nail-biting they’re-not-going-to-get-out-of-this-alive tension, and just a touch of romance.

Caitlin knows something is wrong in the research science lab where she works. Three people have died in apparently unrelated ways, yet now, with the last death and the sharing of a secret, Caitlin suspects there is more to the deaths. But someone is following her and if she can’t discover who is behind the deaths, own life may be in danger. Unsure what else to do, Caitlin turns to Detective Josh Solomon, husband of the first victim. But if they are going to work together, she’ll have to convince him she’s right about her theories first.

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Book Review: Vow of Justice

Vow of Justice – Lynette Eason – Blue Justice #4 – Revell – Published 6 August 2019

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Synopsis

When Allison Radcliffe is killed, FBI Special Agent Linc St. John goes after her killer with a vengeance until he discovers she’s been in hiding. He must put aside their unfinished business before she becomes the next victim.

My thoughts

Vow of Justice is the fourth instalment in Lynnette Eason’s Blue Justice series, which follows the crime-fighting St John family. Vow of Justice is FBI Agent Linc St John’s story and it is chock full of tension, buried secrets, dark pasts, evil bad guys and chemistry-charged romance.

When an undercover case involving the Russian Mafia goes wrong, Linc St John is devastated to learn his partner, Allie has been killed. Determined to hunt down her killer, he is shocked to find her alive and well. But Allie has been keeping secrets from her partner and they might be enough to get them both killed.

Vow of Justice is gripping from the very first pages. The crimes Allie and Linc are investigating are the work of the Russian Mafia, involving multiple assassinations and murders. But it is also personal. Allie’s past is entangled with the crimes and people she and Linc are investigating now and that makes everything so much more deadly and important to them both.

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Book Review: Promise Me Happy

Promise Me Happy – Robert Newton – Penguin Books Australia – Published 7 May 2019

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Synopsis

Nate’s had it tough. An abusive father. His mother dead. He’s done things he regrets.

But he’s never met anyone like Gem. She’s a tiny piece of wonderful and she’ll change everything he knows about himself. Is this the beginning of happiness? Or is there more hardship around the corner?

My thoughts

Promise Me Happy – a moving, authentically Aussie coming of age story at its best. Perfect for fans of YA contemporary fiction about relationships, family and finding a place to belong, Promise Me Happy is a soothing, gently-paced and touching novel.

Nate knows this is his last chance. Leaving juvie to live with an uncle he doesn’t know, Nate has low expectations about this next phase in his life, yet it can’t be worse than returning to live with his drunk and abusive father and memories of his dead mother. But living with uncle isn’t at all what he expects, nor the charming little fishing town, the slower lifestyle, space to breath, quirky young neighbour, Henry or the intriguing, combat-boot and tartan-wearing Gem. It may be just the second chance Nate needs, if he can hang on to it.

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Book Review: 100 Days of Sunlight

100 Days of Sunlight – Abbie Emmons – Published 7 August 2019

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Synopsis

Terrified that her vision might never return, Tessa feels like she has nothing left to be happy about. But when her grandparents place an ad in the local newspaper looking for a typist to help Tessa continue writing and blogging, an unlikely answer knocks at their door: Weston Ludovico, a boy her age with bright eyes, an optimistic smile…and no legs.

Knowing how angry and afraid Tessa is feeling, Weston thinks he can help her. But he has one condition — no one can tell Tessa about his disability. And because she can’t see him, she treats him with contempt: screaming at him to get out of her house and never come back. But for Weston, it’s the most amazing feeling: to be treated like a normal person, not just a sob story. So he comes back. Again and again and again.

Tessa spurns Weston’s “obnoxious optimism”, convinced that he has no idea what she’s going through. But Weston knows exactly how she feels and reaches into her darkness to show her that there is more than one way to experience the world. As Tessa grows closer to Weston, she finds it harder and harder to imagine life without him — and Weston can’t imagine life without her. But he still hasn’t told her the truth, and when Tessa’s sight returns he’ll have to make the hardest decision of his life: vanish from Tessa’s world…or overcome his fear of being seen.

My thoughts

What if you couldn’t see? What if someone couldn’t see you? Does it change how you judge people, judge the world? 100 Days of Starlight is a teenage love story, but it is also a story about resilience and learning to get back up when knocked down by life.

A car crash leaves Tessa temporarily blind. Now Tessa refuses to write her poetry or leave the house, so her grandparents place an ad for a helper. Weston sees the ad at his father’s paper just before it’s pulled from publication and decides Tessa is someone he can help. As a double amputee, the idea of someone getting to know him without seeing him is very appealing. At first reluctant to work with Weston, Tessa pushes him away in every way she can, but he doesn’t give up – determined to show her that life is about more than what she can see. Continue reading

Book Review: How To Make Friends With The Dark

How To Make Friends With The Dark – Kathleen Glasgow – HarperCollins AU – Published 1 April 2019

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Synopsis

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

Here is what happens when your mother dies.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

My thoughts

How To Make Friends With The Dark is an honest look at the journey of grief, complicated and messy, as well as the variety of conditions and struggle for normalcy faced by children who lose a parent or are removed from unsafe living conditions. It is a delicately crafted novel, unflinching and considered.

Tiger and her mother are a unit – it’s them against the world. Things might be tight and Tiger might chafe against the close rein her mother keeps her on, but everything is okay, or at least sort of, when they are together. But when her mother suddenly dies, Tiger is thrown into a whirlpool of foster homes, halfway houses and uncertainty. She battles unrelenting grief and can only liken it to standing on the edge of a black hole ready to swallow her up. As family secrets are revealed, she questions if she ever really knew her mother, or what she can expect from life now that everything that she knows has been stolen from her.

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Book Review: Hello Girls

Hello Girls – Brittany Cavallaro and Emily Henry – Katherine Tegen Books – Published 6 August 2019

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Synopsis

Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

My thoughts

Hello Girls is an epic road trip novel slash crime novel slash ode to friendship slash feminist piece de resistance. With razor-sharp wit and punchy action, this book swings from hilarious to what the hell to hell yeah and back again.

To everyone else, Winona’s father is charming and kind. To her, he is both jailer and torturer. Lucille works hard to keep a roof over her mother’s head and her hard-earned savings away from the grubby hands of her drug-dealing brother. The only peace the two girls find is with stolen moments together in a run-down bar outside of town and dreams of starting over. One night, Winona leaves, steals her grandfather’s convertible and a hand full of valuables. Together, Winona and Lucille start off across the country. Towards what, they’re not sure but it can’t be worse than what they’re leaving behind.

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Book Review: The Killing Tide

The Killing Tide – Dani Pettrey – Coastal Guardians #1 – Bethany House – Published 6 August 2019

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Synopsis

When one Coast Guard officer is found dead and another goes missing, Coast Guard Investigative Service special agent Finn Walker faces his most dangerous crime yet. His only clues are what little evidence remains aboard the dead officer’s boat, and the direction the clues point to will test Finn and the Guard to their limits.

When investigative reporter–and Finn’s boss’s sister–Gabby Rowley arrives, her unrelenting questions complicate an already volatile situation. Now that she’s back, the tug on Finn’s heart is strong, but with the risks she’s taking for her next big story, he fears she might not live through it.

Thrown together by the heinous crime, Finn and Gabby can’t ignore the sparks or judgments flying between them. But will they be able to see past their preconceptions long enough to track down an elusive killer, or will they become his next mark?

My thoughts

The Killing Tide follows in the way of Dani Pettrey’s previous titles with a strong mystery story, plenty of action and high-stakes suspense, and charming, faith-filled romance.

When investigative journalist, Gabby Rowley’s life is threatened by the drug lord she helped send to prison, her protective big brother, Noah, insists she return home with him to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he and his Coast Guard Investigative Service team can keep an eye on her. But when bodies begin to pile up, including one of their own, Gabby is drawn to the investigation, even if it means working alongside old flame and the man she left behind, Finn Walker.

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Book Review: Past Perfect Life

Past Perfect Life – Elizabeth Eulberg – Bloomsbury YA – Published 9 July 2019

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Synopsis

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.

But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?

My thoughts

What would you do when you discover you’re not who you thought you were? A homage to home, friendship and family, Past Perfect Life delves into the questions of what family really means and what it takes to discover where you truly belong. With a strong female lead character who walks that balance between determined and flexible, cautious but brave, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters, Past Perfect Life is a compelling YA contemporary novel.

Ally Smith’s life is turned inside out when, while applying to college, has her social security number denied. She discovers her dad – the dad she loves spending time with, who is her best friend and rock – isn’t who he said he was. Everything she thought she knew was a lie, but Ally isn’t so sure what to hang on to from her old life and what to embrace in her new one.

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Book Review: The Arrival of Someday

The Arrival of Someday – Jen Malone – HarperTeen – Published 23 July 2019

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Synopsis

Hard-charging and irrepressible eighteen-year-old Amelia Linehan could see a roller derby opponent a mile away—and that’s while crouched down, bent over skates, and zooming around a track at the speed of light. They don’t call her Rolldemort for nothing! What she couldn’t see coming, however, was the unexpected flare-up of a rare liver disorder she was born with. But now it’s the only thing she—and everyone around her—can think about.

With no guarantee of a viable organ transplant, everything Amelia’s been sure of—like her college plans, the mural she’d been commissioned to paint, or the possibility of one day falling in love—has become a huge question mark, threatening to drag her down into a sea of what-ifs she’s desperate to avoid.

Then a friend from the past shows up. With Will, it’s easy to forget about what’s lurking underneath the lightness of their time together. It’s easy to feel alive when all signs point elsewhere. On the other hand, with the odds decidedly not in her favor, Amelia knows this feeling couldn’t last forever. But what can?

My thoughts

I love books that make me cry. I also love books that can make me smile. And The Arrival of Someday had me doing both. I often call books uplifting. The Arrival of Someday goes past uplifting (though, that fits too) and is totally inspiring. It is surprising (that ending literally come out of nowhere and smacked me across the face), it is fun (simply a pleasure to sit down with and enjoy), and it combines everything I love about really good YA contemporary fiction – family, friendship and self-realisation.

Lia loves a good cause. Raising awareness, taking on the school board, even a good rally. She also loves roller derby and it’s for good reason they call her Rolldemort. With early entry into her college of choice, a mural competition awarded and awaiting completion and her best friend Sibby by her side, Lia’s life is good. Until she discovers that her liver disease, something she has had all her life, worsens and leaves Lia needing a liver transplant – and soon. Lia must navigate the transplant waiting list while trying to decide how she feels about putting some things in her life on hold and sorting out her family and friends’ reactions to her diagnosis.

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