Reviews Published

Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Wrong Girl - a review

 Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers’ Favorite

It’s been four years since I discovered the excellent writing of Yvonne Eve Walus when I read her book, Serial Wives. Though not her first novel, it was her first mystery murder featuring New Zealand policewoman, Zero Zimmerman. I loved both the story and the protagonist, so I was delighted to find Zero is back in The Wrong Girl, and what a terrific read Walus has for fans like me. The setting for this novel is a boarding school for the daughters of wealthy parents. Following a staff drowning, the suicide of a male student in the nearby boys’ school, and now what might be either a suicide or the attempted murder of a popular female pupil, Zero, a “human lie-detector”, has her work cut out for her.

Through Zero, Yvonne Eve Walus leads readers down varying and chilling paths of possibilities as she tries to discover the truth behind these deadly occurrences. But don’t feel bad if the sleuth in you doesn’t discover who and why these unfortunate events have happened: Walus is as highly skilled in keeping us guessing as Zero is in tracking down the truth! While I love Walus’ complex plots, the other things she brings to her stories make me want to stand up and applaud. In The Wrong Girl, Walus addresses current polarizing topics like gender issues. She delves deeply and thoughtfully into parenting problems, and she understands teenage crushes, jealousies, and angst. It’s fascinating how well she explores the roller-coaster of emotions teenagers face while Zero and other adults in the novel parallel the same insecurities when it comes to romance and love. How does she weave all that raw humanity into such a well-plotted novel? That’s what you will find out and enjoy when you read The Wrong Girl. Bravo, Yvonne Eve Walus!

Monday, April 01, 2024

The Wrong Girl - author interview

Interviewer: A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

Yvonne Walus: As a mother of teenagers, I knew I wanted to write about the issues that Generation Z faces: gender identity hype, very real gender dysphoria, the desire to conform to trends, depression, suicide ideation, heartbreak. I’m hoping to start a conversation about our children’s drive to label themselves: gay, autistic, non-binary, vegan, communist, cat lover, city-dweller. In their search for identity, do they create boxes and borders and societies divided?

Read the rest of the interview here.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson

If you don't know the work of Ellen Baker yet, you're in for a treat. "The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson" uses the author's signature prose to paint a powerful tale of love across four generations. Call it a family saga, call it historical fiction, as long as you also call it your next read.

There's so much to love about this book! The words, the world, the warmth. This book might make you cry, it might make you sigh with nostalgia, it might even make you rush out to buy circus tickets - but one thing it'll definitely make you do is think deeply about the world as it was in the 1930s and as it is today. 

In 1924, four-year-old Cecily Larson’s mother reluctantly drops her off at an orphanage in Chicago, promising to be back once she’s made enough money to support both Cecily and herself. But she never returns, and shortly after high-spirited Cecily turns seven, she is sold to a traveling circus to perform as the “little sister” to glamorous bareback rider Isabelle DuMonde. With Isabelle and the rest of the circus, Cecily finally feels she’s found the family she craves. But as the years go by, the cracks in her little world begin to show. And when teenage Cecily meets and falls in love with a young roustabout named Lucky, she finds her life thrown onto an entirely unexpected—and dangerous—course.

In 2015, Cecily is now 94 and living a quiet life in Minnesota, with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson. But when her family decides to surprise her with an at-home DNA test, the unexpected results not only bring to light the tragic love story that Cecily has kept hidden for decades but also throw into question everything about the family she’s raised and claimed as her own for nearly seventy years. Cecily and everyone in her life must now decide who they really are and what family—and forgiveness—really mean.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Cassandra Complex / Cassandra in Reverse by Holly Smale

These are the things I didn't know before I started writing this blog:

  1. "Cassandra Complex" and "Cassandra in Reverse" by Holly Smale are the same book. I was hoping it was a series, but nope.
  2. Holly Smale, the author of said Cassandra books, is not the authour of "The Rosie Project" trilogy - that's Graeme Simsion. My mistake, but a fortuitous one.
  3. "Cassandra Complex" is a Reese's Book Club Pick.

These are the things I already knew:
  1. "Cassandra Complex" is a bloody good book.
  2. Yeah, the protagonist is on the spectrum.
  3. It's about time travel.
  4. Everyone should read it.

Eye of the Needle by Ken Follett

"Eye of the Needle" by Ken Follett is one of the best spy thrillers I've ever read. It's right up the with 
The Day of the Jackal" by Frederick Forsyth - which, okay, stricktly speaking doesn't feature spies. What's interesting in both these books is that the plot hinges on events that have already happened, and yet the books manage to keep you biting your nails through the night as you read "just one more chapter".

I almost didn't read "Eye of the Needle" on principle, because I actively avoid World War Two fiction, having been exposed to it way too much as a child. I'm glad I bent on this one - it's exceptionally well written.

Christmas Presents by Lisa Unger

I love Lisa Unger's fiction, and her novella "Christmas Presents" was no exception. I read it just before Christmas (apologies I'm only blogging it now, but it's been a wonderful and busy holiday season), and can I just say to my favourite authors out there that writing an annual Christmas novella is an excellent idea....

This one has a podcaster, a cold case, and beautiful Christmas presents that may or may not be from a serial killer. Christmas fiction the way I like it! (And yes, along the same line of thought, "Die Hard" is a Christmas movie.)