My review: The Chosen Seven, by Gill D. Anderson

About the book:

FARZAD ABED is an unhinged Iranian immigrant living in Australia. His sociopathic tendencies coupled with his political views make him a very dangerous man indeed. Farzad wants the world to sit up and take notice of him and randomly selects six bystanders to hold hostage at a city restaurant.

JACOB BROWN is a fitness fanatic who finds himself at the centre of a bizarre situation when he arrives at his favourite restaurant to pick up a takeaway for dinner.

JAGRITI GOSHAL is a young unassuming Indian waitress working at Alessandro’s Cucina.

REGINA TERRY is a fearless Afro-American woman in Australia on a business visa who unexpectedly finds herself embroiled in a crazy siege with a madman.

LEVI HAINES and BILL WALKER are colleagues having a business dinner at the restaurant. Bill is Levi’s sleazy boss with unethical intentions and Levi is dining with him against her will.

PAUL TOWNSEND is a local electrician who happens to drop off a quote at Alessandro’s Cucina at the same time Farzad descends on the restaurant to begin taking hostages.

Follow the roller coaster ride of emotions as these strangers find themselves embroiled in a terrifying siege orchestrated by a madman. The authorities scramble to put together a definitive plan of action to contain the situation quickly. But not everyone will come out alive …

My review:

I would like to thank Gill for the opportunity to read her second book and provide an honest review. I am always keen to support local authors.

Having interest in terroristic acts/hostage situations and how they are resolved, I was looking forward to reading this particular book.

It’s set in Adelaide, where I live, which makes it especially interesting. Adelaide is a state capital with a reasonable population and at the same time it is a small place where ‘everyone knows everyone’, and if you don’t know someone, you definitely know them through someone else. This phenomenon was demonstrated really well in the book and made me giggle a few times.

I was a little bit disappointed that book didn’t focus enough on a hostage drama, police and special force discussions and thoughts. I was hoping it would get a little bit more into psychological drama. Instead, it was mostly about prior histories of the hostages and their relatives that had nothing to do with the main storyline. I am not a big fan of ‘describing’ or ‘profiling’ characters instead of ‘telling the stories’ that give you an idea of who the character is as a person.

The characters were very different from each other but a little bit stereotyped. I didn’t feel any particular connection to any of them.

Probably the biggest message I got from reading the book is that this situation can happen anywhere, even in a smallishplace like Adelaide. The ending made me think about how events like this affect every involved person’s life and that it’s always good to pause and think if you are going the right way and if you are making the right decisions in life because anything can happen anytime…

My review: Untamed by Glennon Doyle

About the book:

There is a voice of longing inside every woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good mothers, daughters, partners, employees, citizens, and friends. We believe all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives, relationships, and world, and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this?

Four years ago, Glennon Doyle, author, activist and humanitarian, wife and mother of three—was speaking at a conference when a woman entered the room. Glennon looked at her and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. Soon she realized that they came to her from within.

Glennon was finally hearing her own voice—the voice that had been silenced by decades of cultural conditioning, numbing addictions, and institutional allegiances. She vowed to never again abandon herself. She decided to build a life of her own—one based on her individual desire, intuition, and imagination. She would reclaim her true, untamed self.

My review:

This book became some sort of revelation to me that some of the things I feel and think have their explanation and supported by Glennon and many others. As I am trying to learn how to be a good mother but most importantly to learn how to make my daughter happy in this world, I found some answers in the Untamed.

Coming from a very ‘traditional’, sexist society I now realise what always didn’t quite work for me all those years while I was growing up. ‘Taming’ girls and boys is so strong in our world culture and goes back in the past so far that now we face generations of unhappy people or people that are not quite sure what is wrong and what stops them from being themselves, from being human and not just culturally programmed citizens.

Some parts didn’t quite relate to me but it is alright as it is Glennon’s experience and life. I got many good ideas and thoughts out of this book that help me to sharpen my intention to stop contributing into our children’s unhappiness. My daughter is so untamed, bold, confident and knows what she wants. And she is not even two years old. I want her to keep these qualities as she is growing up.

Some parts of the book became quotes that I want to print out and frame as everyday reminders. Reminders to myself to stay myself, to listen to myself more and be confident in who I am.

I would recommend this book to everyone who keeps wondering and discovering things in life and how to approach and live your life.

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.