The Dry by Jane Harper

Image result for the dryLuke Hadler turns a gun on his wife and child, then himself. The farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily. If one of their own broke under the strain, well…

When Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra for the funerals, he is loath to confront the people who rejected him twenty years earlier. But when his investigative skills are called on, the facts of the Hadler case start to make him doubt this murder-suicide charge.

And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, old wounds start bleeding into fresh ones. For Falk and his childhood friend Luke shared a secret… A secret Falk thought long-buried… A secret which Luke’s death starts to bring to the surface…

(via Goodreads)

Set in a small country town, The Dry is the story of Aaron Falk, Australian Federal Police Officer who is drawn to investigating the mystery of his childhood friend’s death. What seems a cut and dried murder suicide, becomes a mystery Falk cannot walk away from.

This is a powerful debut from Jane Harper. The story telling is tight and the imagery of this dry and hot town is palpable. Characters are compelling and well thought out. I found the mystery to be engaging and not an easy guess. Coupled with our main story is a mystery from Falk’s childhood, a death that has tainted his life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It keeps the reader’s interest and the page turning. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a mystery novel.

4.5/5

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Gemina (Illuminae Files #2) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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The saga that began with breakout bestseller Illuminae continues aboard Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station commander’s pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station crew one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon, Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

(via Goodreads)

I really enjoyed this book, as much as Illuminae. I think it has a lot to do with the female leads in the stories. Not to say the men aren’t entertaining and relateable, but these books have such a strong female lead that is refreshing compared to some other YA novels I’ve been reading of late (I’m looking at you, Lily from Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares!).

Onto our main Image result for gemina hannah donnellycharacter Hannah Donnelly. The daughter of the Captain, she is thrust into saving her world from infiltrators and a wormhole with it’s own issues. I was very pleased she wasn’t a carbon copy of Kady  Grant (Illuminae). Where Kady was tech-savvy, Hannah has a physicality about her that makes her actions in the book believable.

Her counterpart, Nik Malikov, is an alleged gangster who is always in trouble. But as we expect, there is more to him than meets the eye. Gemina does a good job of unravelling his back story slowly. And I liked the outcome. It wasn’t a cop out, or frustrating.

Kaufman and Kristoff have built an amazing and intricate world for this series. Gemina and Illuminae, though focusing on different characters and ships, do tie in to one another.  And we can’t have a review without mentioning the original text layout, the art work, the dossiers. It makes a very large book a quick read. And it’s always fun to have to turn the book upside down to read the next line 🙂

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I recommend this to lovers of YA and Science Fiction. A well written ‘space opera’ and I am looking forward to Obsidio (what’s going to happen??!!).

4.5/5

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S Kemp

When the Emperor and his no23346660torious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

(via Goodreads)

Lords of the Sith is set after Revenge of the Sith, and is one of the first missions Vader and the Emperor embark on together. This is also where we see the first rumblings of the resistance.

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I really enjoyed this story for two reasons; we see the struggle between the Emperor and Vader, and the struggle within Vader himself.

When we were first introduced to Vader he was a robotic arch-villain. It was not until Return of the Jedi that we see his human side. He is redeemed, but there was this disconnect of sorts (for me, anyway) as to how he reached this decision to kill the Emperor. With that said, when the prequels were released, we could then imagine. But this story was great to see such human struggles within him. I really enjoyed it.

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The Emperor and Vader don’t have the tight relationship that it seems to be. The Emperor baits Vader, tests him, tries to trick him throughout the whole book. I imagine it will continue throughout the remaining books and into the original movies.

I wanted to see Vader rail back at him more. It made sense why he didn’t, he was new as a Sith, but it would have been good to see some more of that Anakin-esque rebellion come out of his character.

 

I also enjoyed a glimpse into the beginnings of the rebellion in the story. The character of Cham Syndulla was well written and you could really see his influence beginning to trickle down to the others. Very good choice for the story.

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What didn’t I like? Not much, some of the battle scenes were a little drawn out, but that might be just me. Overall, I really enjoyed this story.

4/5

 

 

Star Wars: Dark Disciple by Christie Golden

Image result for dark disciple star warsBased on unproduced scripts from the blockbuster TV show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The only way to bring down the dark side’s most dangerous warrior may be for Jedi and Sith to join forces.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force’s power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku’s side still runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. She’s more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos’s quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don’t compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

(via Goodreads)

This was a very interesting read. The story line crosses the Jedi line to see Mace Windu and Yoda enlist the help of “rebel” Jedi Quinlan Vos to assassinate Count Dooku. To do this, the Jedi Council instructs Vos to take on a partner, ex-Sith assassin Asajj Ventress.

And so begins the buddy cop story…well, not quite!

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Paired together, Ventress trains Vos to embrace his dark side and use it to kill Dooku. But his Jedi teachings makes it difficult and the two soon realise that this plan is not as easy as it seems. And the growing attraction between the two further complicates things.

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I found it true to the Star Wars universe, and the characters of Vos and Ventress are as complex as they are familiar.

For those who have seen the movies, the outcome will be mostly predicted. However, I did enjoy the subtle character differences, and the extra story that existed outside of the films and tv series. I’d happily recommend this to anyone who is interested to visit the extended Star Wars universe.

For those who follow the chronology of the 2016/17 canon, this story sits in between Insider 159: Kindred Spirits short story, and Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith.

4/5

Seeker (Seeker #1) by Arwen Elys Dayton

20911450The night Quin Kincaid takes her Oath, she will become what she has trained to be her entire life. She will become a Seeker. This is her legacy, and it is an honor.

As a Seeker, Quin will fight beside her two closest companions, Shinobu and John, to protect the weak and the wronged. Together they will stand for light in a shadowy world.

And she’ll be with the boy she loves–who’s also her best friend. But the night Quin takes her Oath, everything changes.

Being a Seeker is not what she thought. Her family is not what she thought. Even the boy she loves is not who she thought. And now it’s too late to walk away.

 

(via Goodreads)

This was such an interesting concept that was poorly executed. World building was minimal and the story line confusing. Throw in a predictable love triangle and you have ‘Seeker’.

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I couldn’t finish this book. I couldn’t even resort to skim reading to finish this before book club. And I’ve decided to no longer force a read if I am not liking something. Life is too short and there are so many books I want to read.

1/5

The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Image result for the young elites book coverI am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.

(via Goodreads)

I enjoyed this story. The world building reminded me of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha Trilogy and Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorn and Roses. Adelina is a survivor of the blood fever that gave her powers yet disfigured her beyond repair. Since she was a small child, her father treated her with cruelty to try and bring forth her powers.

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Adelina is found by a group of powered people named ‘The Young Elites’ who are vying to overthrown the throne and liberate the survivors of the blood fever from being treated as second class citizens. But Adelina feels a darkness inside of her, she feels it growing daily, and wonders if she indeed is the monster they believe her to be.

Adelina’s arc reminds me of the Anakin Skywalker character arc (pre Darth Vader, obviously). It made me wonder if book two will see her becoming really dark. I was so keen to know more at the end of this book, I put a hold on the sequel at my library. I am looking forward to reading it.

If you like Leigh Bardugo or Sarah J Maas, you will like this story. I also recommend it to anyone who likes YA novels.

4/5

The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco

18509623You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.

A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret – one that would just kill to get out.

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as “Dexter” meets “The Grudge”, based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

(via Goodreads)

Rin Chupeco’s Girl From The Well is a much better read than I expected. Based on the original myth that inspired The Ring, GFTW meshes well with the contemporary story line, without becoming another sequel.

Having said that, it wasn’t as scary as I wanted it to be. I wanted to be completely creeped out at the very least, but it didn’t happen. I ended up being more interested in the old Japanese legend the Bancho Sarayashiki.

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One thing that really bugged me about this book was the lack of proofreading – the author said Narrabeen was in Sydney, and Sydney was in Queensland. We’re talking 850km from Queensland to Narrabeen and another 50km-ish from Narrabeen to Sydney. How is that not picked up by the editor? Really frustrating for us down under!

I really enjoyed the way the narrative dropped in and out of lines on the page when Okiku was speaking. And the recollection of falling down the well found the words dropping. That was very cool.

3.5/5