My review: The Passengers, by John Marrs

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About the book:

Eight self-drive cars set on a collision course. Who lives, who dies? You decide.

When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.

The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?

My review:

Another hit from one of my favourite authors. John Marrs never disappoints. I literally couldn’t put this book down. It just took me hostage and held me tight to the end. The number of twists and turns was purely mind-blowing. John Marrs takes us on an entertaining, chilling, fast-track and driver-less ride where technology betrays humans.

The plot and idea are super fresh and relevant. Driverless cars are not a new concept but the potential consequences of this were never explored in such way. After I finished the book, I came across driverless bus that was going through trial in one of the areas of the city. To be honest, I felt unease and it reminded me John’s book. I am sure it will take years or possibly decades for this to happen on a road and in suburbia, but the potential risks should be taken into account.

This book isn’t just about risks of new technologies; it’s about opportunities and potential actions that need to be considered to avoid any malice.

The characters are so different which makes the book a very exciting read. You start asking yourself a question from the book, “Who lives, who dies?”.

Without any spoilers, this book is fantastic and can’t recommend it enough. Loved it!

My review: The Train Guy, by Michelle Prak

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About the book:

How do you introduce yourself to a stranger?

Charli is obsessed with The Train Guy.

She sees him every weekday waiting for the 8.05am from Roselea Station. She’s convinced he’s the man for her, but Charli is too terrified to say hello.

Her world is upside down since Eddie left her in humiliating circumstances. Now Charli is advertising for tenants to share her inner-city cottage, and her friends are pushing her to apply for a promotion at the cute hotel where she works. And don’t even mention what happened with the Prime Minister.

Everything would be perfect if she could just meet The Train Guy. He’s chivalrous. He’s handsome. He’s perfect. Isn’t he?

Charli has read enough spy stories to know that she could find out more about The Train Guy – by following him.

Part rom-com, part chase, The Train Guy is a page-turning joy to read.

My review:

Michelle’s second book is a real page-turner. Usually page-turners belong to thriller or suspense genre. For a rom-com it is rare which makes this book really special. I must say I quite enjoyed the plot and the main characters. I was also surprised to see a mention of the project I work for J (if I got it right). In general, this book is a light but inspiring read.

Charli is quite likable girl that anyone can relate to. I was excited to follow her thoughts, dreams and her story. Her sweet and fun character makes her an ideal bestie everyone is dreaming to have.

Several times I laughed out loud as the book reminded me myself and my fellow commuters on the train. Okay, I also have The Train Guy! I haven’t seen him since the end of the year, he must’ve broken his leg… I hope he is okay. Probably, I won’t follow Charli’s steps to try to engage with him, though.

It was fascinating to follow Charli’s story – from a single, sad, shy girl to a confident manager who knows what she wants in her professional and personal life and who wants to enjoy life to the fullest. I liked how Michelle perfectly described the development of Charli’s character. So many of us (female readers) see ourselves in Charli.

This book is perfect for a light holiday read, but also for the train ride to work.

 

My review: Goodbye Newsroom, by Michelle Prak

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About the book:

When reporter Anna is sacked from the newsroom, she limps home for sympathy from her sister and housemate, Holly. But she discovers that Holly is jobless too, after resigning from the Fairweather Report, a celebrated women’s website.

Now, Holly has grand plans for starting her own online media empire, and she insists that Anna joins her.

Anna’s first task? She’s whisked away to an influencer tour of Uruguay. It’s scary stuff for a reporter who barely knows the difference between hashtags and HTML, but at least handsome Donovan is there to help.

Life becomes even trickier when Holly publishes Anna’s romantic adventures on their fledging website. The sisters become an online sensation, but Anna is furious that her private life is being used for clicks.

Will the sisters stick together and make a living in this new media world? Or will Anna return to a newsroom again?

And who is Holly’s menacing and persistent troll?

If you love career stories like Devil Wears Prada or The Bold Type, you’ll adore Goodbye Newsroom, a modern ode to self-made young women whose greatest tools are their smartphones.

“Perfect for the digital-savvy reader who wants to escape into a juicy world of public relations, A-list parties and online intrigue.”

My review:

It took me an unusually long time to finish Michelle’s debut novel because the release coincided with my own debut as a mum of a baby girl. So, reading was happening bit by bit, during and between the feeds and naps. Sometimes I felt so tired that couldn’t read a single line, even to save my life.

Anyway, enough complaining, back to the review 🙂

The book brought back many familiar feelings. The area of work of two main characters, Australian specifics, some events in girls’ lives. It all made me feel like I know Holly and Anna for a long time. They are your usual friends – girls living next door, with their own interests, love life, ambitions. Both of them are very likeable and you empathise with them immediately.

Holly is bold and brave, Anna seems to be a little bit more sensitive. Anna’s redundancy brought back my feelings of the time when I got redundant at work. All the hurt and regrets… looking for options and trying to find a new ‘me’. I felt all the sympathy for Anna who had to come back to her workplace and keep the face in front of colleagues.

It is a great debut for Michelle who incorporated her experience with media into the plot of the novel and effortlessly raised some important questions.

I quite enjoyed the book, an easy read that touches close personally to me and many current subjects – the world and the challenges of mainstream media, social media community and influencers, career choices in this industry, ethical issues and boundaries that people can face on social channels.

What I also liked about the book is that to me it is about the change. Changes in the industry, person’s life, way of living, in everything and Goodbye Newsroom shows well how all these changes, despite being scary and daunting, are still positive and only happen for the best.

The only downside for me is that the book finished too fast. It felt a bit rushed to the end, I would’ve like to read more. I guess I will wait for a sequel 🙂

My score is 4* out of 5*.

My review: Cottage by the Sea, by Debbie Macomber

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About the book:

A seaside town helps one young woman rediscover hope and healing in a brand-new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

After tragedy strikes, Annie moves in to the summer cottage where her family vacationed when she was a child. Soon Annie finds herself making new friends, even developing a romance with a quiet and mysterious painter. And as she becomes part of the community, Annie learns that the surest way to heal is by making a difference in the lives of those around her.

My review:

This book is quite light if you’d like some rest from the thrillers/murders/mysteries (like me) but at the same time will touch your soul in very deepest ways. It is about many different things – family, parents, friends, love and loss and things that are important in life.

It grabbed me from the beginning and embraced me in this warm hug. The writing style was good. I am so used to books narrated by a main character or a few, that third-person narration felt a bit strange. But at the same time refreshing, as I felt like someone is telling me a beautiful story.

Cottage by the Sea is a really heart-warming book. You start sympathising to the main character/s from the first pages. It also has a story – at different times sad, sweet, angry, kind.

If you are looking for a summer/ beach/ cozy read, look no further, Cottage by the Sea is a perfect choice to warm up your heart (like a cup of a nice hot chocolate) or to relax your mind (like a light cocktail at the pool or a beach).

My rating is 4* out of 5*.

My review: The Date, by Louise Jensen

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About the book:

Something bad has happened to Alison Taylor.

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future.

By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

My review:

Another great thriller from Louise Jensen. The storyline is captivating, but sometimes I was questioning things, like why Ali didn’t go to the police. Naivety is a major trait for many Louise’s characters. I can see how it cannot work for some readers. I always enjoy the author’s writing style and language, the plot usually is quite entertaining and twists are good. Louise does a great job creating a very frightening and creepy life situation for her main character which is hard to unravel even with a stable and confident mind.

The pace of the book is excellent (finished it in 3 days with full-time work each day) and I truly enjoyed how the things were going and how more new twists and turns were coming into picture.

I would recommend this book to any thriller fan who enjoys some good quality suspense with a little splash of imagination.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: Small great things, by Jodi Picoult

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About the book:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My review:

Oh my! Jodi Picoult did it again! I must say that at some point I just stopped reading Jodi’s books as they started to blur a bit in my head. But then I decided to give this book a go as I’ve heard it is something very special.

And it was for me! This is a powerful book, very bold in expressing the words out loud instead of thinking them. It is probably the best book about everyday racism written by a white author. I am Caucasian, too, but this book did it for me too. Passive racism has so much in common with discrimination of any sort. It is very relatable to many people who feel out of place, who feel it is harder for them to achieve things just because who they are.

Jodi is never afraid to raise difficult topics, but this book is completely different level. I was under so much impression – I couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t get to write a review, couldn’t start another book.

There were a few moment that couldn’t work for me, for example, trying to understand and accept a point of views of a white supremacist. It was really hard for me to relate to his and his wife’s feelings. At the same time it made me think about people with these views. What brought them to think this way and why.

This book makes you think, compare things and have more insights into people’s lives. The research done by the author is incredible which has a great reflection in the book.

I just leave this quote here that really resonated with me throughout the book and after:

“What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit? How come we haven’t been able to change the puzzle instead?”

My score is 5* out of 5*.