Reviews Published

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Color Blind by Colby Marshall

A brilliantly plotted beginning to a promising series. The protagonist, an ex-FBI profiler, has an unusual condition: she can see emotions as colours. But will her sixth sense help in stopping a mass murderer from causing more public slaughter? Will it protect her family?

I picked up this book because I myself am blessed with the ability to see the alphabet, numbers, months and days of the week as colours and shapes. But one sentence in and I was hooked, regardless of the synesthesia quirk. I cared about the characters and found it impossible to predict the well-thought-out twists and turns of the action.

Read it. Your only regret is that Book 2 is not available yet.

A neurological condition characterized by automatic, involuntary sensory perceptions triggered by seemingly unrelated stimuli.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia by Peter Pomerantsev is one of very few non-fiction books I would choose to pick up. But pick it up I did, and having picked it up, I read it. To the end. Thoroughly enjoyed it. And now I want all my friends to read it too. It's that good.

And it's that scary. Cold War 2, here we come?

For those of you who are firm fiction fans, fear not. The book reads like fiction, like a series of short stories set in an unreal universe. Only, it's real.

From Amazon: "When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s, the West rejoiced with the relief that came with the end of the Cold War and the possibility of an era of peace and cooperation. At the same time, its corporations and conglomerates trained a beady eye toward its newly opened markets, and a seemingly virgin economic landscape soon became home to icons such as Coke and McDonalds and Levi’s. But the door was open wide, and tagging along with big business were some seedier characters: organized crime, a youth-and-glamour-obsessed oligarchy, and an entertainment complex hungry for the new concepts of its Western counterparts. That’s where Peter Pomerantsev comes in. Born in Kiev but raised in Great Britain, Pomerantsev returned to Russia as a consultant to its burgeoning film and television—especially “reality” television—industries. What he found was a capitalist’s wet dream: an unfettered cash and service economy with no apparent limits on cash or available services--one where everything is possible, if you can pay for it. At the top of it all sits Vlad Putin, infusing the old TASS tactics with Hollywood flair to create a vision of a bare-chested (bear-chested?) virility and power, of both self and state. Pomerantsev finds himself gazing deeper into this looking-glass world—willingly and otherwise—and he finds it impossible to look away, as will his readers. "

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Wave

The Wave - 1981 young adult novel by Todd Strasser under the pen name Morton Rhue. A must read if you want to understand why the Nazi movement ever gained momentum. Not exceptionally well-written (too much tell and not enough show), but still enjoyable and the actual message is super-important.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

"The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" - what a title! This book features a more-tell-than-show writing style.  It’s as though the author is telling you a story, the way a parent would tell it to a child. I didn’t mind it myself, perhaps because I’m used to Polish books written this way, but I can imagine it might annoy a reader who’s not used to it. I would advise you to persevere, because the story is hilarious – a Swedish Forrest Gump of sorts. I totally enjoyed it and want to see the movie.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Funny Girl

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby, one of my very favourite authors.

  • When you start reading it, you don't want to stop.
  • You wish you actually lived in the 1960s.
  • You want to ask the author what made him decide to write about a fictitious comedienne. 
  • You Google her to make sure she's fictitious. 
  • You wonder - in a good way - what life is all about.
  • When you finish reading, you email the author to tell him there's no way you're waiting 5 years for a new novel.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction by Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett is an excellent author, not only because his imagination created the magical Discworld, but also because he can write. I mean, really write. He understands grammar. He knows how to structure the piece. And his trademark sense of humour doesn't hurt, either.

A Slip of the Keyboard is a worthwhile collection of his non-fiction: articles, speeches, musings. From topics as diverse as Alien Christmas and Old Timers Disease (read the book to find out), he spins an enchanted web with which to capture his readers.

If you love Discworld, read this book, too.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Murder @ Work - #2 in the Christine Chamberlain series

Now on Kindle

Have you ever had a Boss From Hell? Not someone who's basically nice except on their off-peak days... we're talking about a Verbal Abuser who can't be sued or fired. Seduced by the heat of a South African summer, would you be tempted to tamper with his tea a little... just a little... ???

Friday, October 31, 2014

Short of time? Read Short Of Crime!

Short Of Crime, my collection of short crime stories is free on Kindle for the next 3 days. Go on, you know you want to.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Murder @ Play - the first Christine Chamberlain Mystery

When it comes to your loved ones, is it possible to know too much?

Murder @ Play, the first Christine Chamberlain Mystery, has a brand-new cover and is available - for a limited time only - at a reduced price of 99c on Kindle

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lucy - the movie

It was supposed to be a simple job. All Lucy had to do was deliver a mysterious briefcase to Mr. Jang. But immediately Lucy is caught up in a nightmarish deal where she is captured and turned into a drug mule for a new and powerful synthetic drug. When the bag she is carrying inside of her stomach leaks, Lucy's body undergoes unimaginable changes that unlocks her mind's full potential 100%. With her new-found powers, Lucy turns into a merciless warrior intent on getting back at her captors. She receives invaluable help from Professor Norman, the leading authority on the human mind, and French police captain Pierre Del Rio.
- Written by LeiaSolo

It's not a bad movie. The acting is great, the visual effects stunning, the plot perhaps a tad predictable. Personally, I didn't care for the ending. Don't get me wrong, I did understand it, unlike some of the movie reviewers - I just thought it could  have been cleverer. Fans of SF will probably find the movie too action, and vice versa. Still, worth watching just to form your own opinion.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lee Child - Jack Reacher 19 - PERSONAL

It's my dream to meet Lee Child one day and to ask him why he writes some Jack Reachers in the first person. There's no judgement in this question: I don't think the first person reads any better or worse than the third person, but my analytic and almost obsessive-compulsive mind needs to understand Lee's decision-making process, even if it's simply spinning a coin. Spinning a coin I'll accept. A vague "oh, I don't know, it just came out that way" will not fly with me.

So, anyway. PERSONAL is written in the first person (no, I won't accept a glib "because it's personal", either), and it's brilliant.



Don't believe any review that doesn't love it.

Oh, you want to know the blurb? Sure. Reacher is engaged by the USA army to track down one of the four snipers who may be planning to kill all of the world's major presidents. Some people may think that's actually not such a bad idea, to reduce the number of politicians, but Reacher is one of the good guys, so he accepts the task. This takes him to Paris and London. Go there with him. You won't regret it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Women In Black by Madeleine St. John

"The Women In Black" by Madeleine St. John is an underrated little number. The writing style is a mix of old-fashioned, anecdotal and literary, with only the most cursory of plots, but it somehow works in transporting the reader to the 1950s Sydney Goode Department Store.

A very good read.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

TV series - from the ashes rising

So. The Blacklist is back for Season 2. Person Of Interest is back for Season 3. The Big Bang Theory - I've lost count, but I'm just happy to step into that familiar circle of friends again. And I'm still catching up on Orange Is The New Black.

Is there anybody out there still wondering why people don't read books anymore?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry - an amazing book, very Orson Scott Card in style. There's a current movie of it, too, which I haven't seen yet. 
The book's dystopian setting is very orderly and very restrained. Nobody gets angry, families talk about their feelings at dinnertime and receive acknowledgement, praise or comfort, as needed. I know it's supposed to be inhuman, but do you know what? I found it soothing. Imagine a family that doesn't yell, children that don't squabble, a spouse who actually listens as you tell them about your day. Dystopia or utopia? A fine line there.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


I'm thrilled to announce that "Operation: Genocide" has a new Kindle cover. What do you think of the design? (And if it inspires you to buy the book, here's where you can spend your money:

Friday, September 12, 2014

Nigel Latta on Success

Last night, I really enjoyed watching Nigel Latta live as he talked to the 1000+ audience about success. His definition of success is not money or fame or a title or material stuff (though I daresay when you have money and fame and stuff it's easier to say they're not important). His definition of success is leading a meaningful life and making sure you have enough good moments that turn into pleasant memories.

Works for me.

He also mentioned the importance of treating people well and orienting your activities with other people's well-being in mind.

Still trying to process this one.... ;-)

According to Nigel, you shouldn't always follow your dreams. On a rational level, I get what he's saying. On an emotional level, I just think I'll be ignoring this bit of advice.

For people who've missed the talk, Nigel has a Politically Incorrect Guide To Adults (DVD). Well worth taking a look.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Only $2.99!

My virtual book tour is starting today!

To celebrate, we've lowered the price of the Kindle version of OPERATION GENOCIDE to only $2.99. Get it quick, because the special is valid for this week only!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

What is happiness?

What is happiness? Who's the happiest man on earth? Can a car make you happy? Famous Kiwi psychologist, Nigel Latta, has the answers here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dystopian Trilogies

Have you noticed the trend in the modern dystopian trilogies? I'm talking about the likes of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, Delirium.

Book 1 is all about the world, the interesting setting, and how it's dusfunctional.
Book 2 sets up the rebellion, sometimes with the heroine reluctant to join.
Book 3 is the war.

I love reading about new ideas, so the first book in a dystopian series is always a delight. What follows is just a rehash of World War Two set in that imaginary world. You get sewers, home-made explosives, capture and torture. You get the civilians and children involved. You eventually claim the bitter-sweet victory.

I can't help wondering whether there is an improved formula somewhere.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Workshop at the 2014 RWNZ Casino Royale Conference

Making your Sentences Rock – Yvonne Walus: Create strong sentences. 

Warning: this is not a grammar class. The objective is to teach you many interesting ways of sentence construction. Avoid the boring “She went, she saw, she conquered”, avoid the treacherous “-ing” words (e.g., “Running down the stairs, she put down her slippers”), improve the pace and the style of your prose.

(In case you need more encoragement, have a look at this awesome Friday Workshop with one of the top writing coaches in the USA, JAMES SCOTT BELL, a bestselling and award winning suspense writer.)

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Orange Is The New Black

From the people who brought us Weeds (The TV series) comes Orange Is The New Black, the "story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money for her drug-dealing girlfriend."

Despite the many naked boobs displayed int he first episode, my husband says he prefers Prison Break because of its puzzle and thriller components. But Orange is growing on me. I like that it's women-centric. I like the back story of each inmate. I like that it makes me feel lucky to have my freedom, my family, my lifestyle. My teeny-weeny problems disappear when I watch it.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Out Of My Mind

Out Of My Mind, by Sharon Draper

I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions. Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate.
Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus.
Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent.
Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry.
Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes - each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands. Deep within me, words pile up in huge drifts. Mountains of phrases and sentences and connected ideas. Clever expressions. Jokes. Love songs.

From the time I was really little - maybe just a few months old - words were like sweet, liquid gifts, and I drank them like lemonade. I could almost taste them. They made my jumbled thoughts and feelings have substance.

My parents always blanketed me with conversation. They chattered and babbled. They verbalized and vocalized. My father sang to me. My mother whispered strength into my ear. Every word my parents spoke to me or about me I absorbed and kept and remembered. All of them.

I have no idea how I untangled the complicated process of words and thought, but it happened quickly and naturally. By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meaning.

But only in my head.

I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.

(Yvonne says: Perhaps not as uplifting as Wonder, but a worthy read nonetheless.)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the second movie in the series, and I missed the first, so I can vouch for the fact that the sequel stands on its own.

It's a good movie. Not much you can do with a story that's been told before, but they manage to tell it in an entertaining and thought-provoking way. The visual effects are stunning, especially in 3D.

Go see it.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. If that alone isn't enough to send you to the movies / dvd shop / netflics, read on.

Imagine Groundhog Day set in a futuristic world with a total military flavour (which I thought would kill the movie, but it worked). The movie's slogan: "Live. Die. Repeat" is very well chosen, but there's more to the story than action. The plot is smart, the acting superb, and the ending will make you think, and think some more, and repeat.

Don't be put off by the robot-like images on the posters. Just see the movie.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Love And Other Foreign Words

Love And Other Foreign Words by Ellen McCahan is a true gem. Although a Young Adult read, this book can be enjoyed by adults. I loved the quirky characters, the dialogue, the whole atmosphere of the book. Most of all, I loved the language.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Wonder - The Julian Chapter

I was very glad to find this addendum to the novel "Wonder". "The Julian Chapter" fits right in, with its themes of kindness and heroic deeds. I missed Auggie, but I loved the chance to see what made Julian tick. A lovely read.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Wonder - The Book

I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.

Wonder by RJ Palacio. Every now and again a book comes along. It grabs your attention with the cover or the blurb or the first sentence. It grabs your heart on page one with these words: "If I found a magic lamp and I could have one wish, I would wish that I had a normal face that no one ever noticed at all. I would wish that I could walk down the street without people seeing me and then doing that look-away thing." And then it doesn't let go.

It makes you cry. It makes you laugh. It makes you appreciate your dog more. It shows you the meaning of heroism and courage, in such a fun non-patronising way, that you don't even realise it. And it really, really makes you want to be a better person.

You can read it to your 8-year old. You can read it for your own pleasure whether you're 18 or 80.

“... it's not enough to be kind. One should be kinder than needed.” 
― R.J. PalacioWonder

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Delirium and Matched

Because I so thoroughly enjoyed numerous Young Adult books (The Stars In Our Eyes, Hunger Games, One Day), I decided to go on a YA reading spree.

The novels that really spoke to me were Delirium and Matched. They're superficially similar: both dystopian romances, with curfews, marriages made by the authorities, and heroines who like running. However, Delirium is more complex, written in an almost poetic language, full of symbolism and twists. Not that Matched isn't an excellent read, though perhaps for a younger audience.

(Divergent left me underwhelmed by the writing style, though I did appreciate the originality of the idea.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Love is All You Need - An Amazing Anthology

Meet 10 women, from different places, backgrounds and times, and each with a different experience of men and romance. Their stories in turn hold the promise of romance, reflect on finding love, or show the lengths we'll go to for the special person in our lives. An anthology of stories which are funny, thought-provoking, and thrilling, with characters you'll empathise with as they discover that ... Love is All You Need.

Click here to see the listing on Amazon.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Book Thief

I started reading it, but it was way too sad. Some books are sad, but you can get past it. This one is probably too well written for that.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Auckland Writers' and Readers' Festival

The Writers' and Readers' Festival in Auckland - I went, I saw, I laughed. I had the good fortune of attending sessions with two very witty writers: one was Alexander McCall Smith (he of the Mma Ramotse fame), the other Sandi Toksvig (a comedian turned writer). To top it all, a workshop with Elizabeth Knox. Who could ask for more? I could and I will: can we please have Lee Child next time?

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Elizabeth Knox

Sandi Toksvig

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Reminder: my class is starting next week

Running Down the Stairs, She Put on Her Shoes by Yvonne Walus
May 12 - May 25, 2014
Level: Mixed
Where:  The Savvy Forums
Cost:  Premium Members $20 / Basic Members $30

"Running down the stairs, she put on her shoes." Do you know why your editor will tell you to rework this sentence?

Please bring your mug of coffee and join me here.

Friday, May 02, 2014

A character from "Operation: Genocide"

Would you like to know more about Annette Pretorius from OPERATION: GENOCIDE? Now you can. Please read my guest blog here.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I'm supposed to be reading book club books. I have a few good ones: The Book Thief and The Mermaid Chair just to mention a few. Instead, though, I'm reading new Polish thrillers and re-reading Lee Child. What does it say about me, I wonder?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Make Your Easter Happy with Thrillers!

The Easter break is approaching fast. In many countries, this means four days of no work. Four days of lazing about, catching up with family members, eating too much and reading not enough.

So, what is there to read in the thriller department? Mark Billingham's latest Tom Thorne book won't be out till 22 May 2014. The latest Lee Child is coming even later: August 28. And I've just finished Harlan Coben's brilliant new release.

Perhaps now is the time to go to the back list and read all those books I missed in 2013? Here are a few of those on my night table:
  • Blackbirds and Mockingbird by Chuck Wendig
  • 7 Dae by Deon Meyer 
  • The Bookthief - is that even a thriller or a literary novel?
  • And if I run out of other people's fiction, there's always my own: Operation: Genocide. :-)

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Person Of Interest - Blacklisted?

I have a bone to pick with the friend / friends who introduced me to the TV series Person Of Interest (fortunately for them, I can't remember who they are). The last thing I need in my life is spend more time on the sofa. I keep telling myself a good writer needs to stay abreast of modern storytelling, be it movies, TV series or novels. Consequently, it's so very easy to spend an hour or more every night doing "storytelling research" with a bowl of popcorn!

That's probably why the first two seasons of Person Of Interest whizzed by in a matter of weeks, and after that bit of catchup, I sat down with the rest of the world to enjoy Season 3. Is is just me? Have I had a Person Of Interest overdose? Or is the third season not as gripping as the first two?

I find myself wanting to watch an episode of Blacklist rather than an episode of Person Of Interest. I'm not very far into Blacklist (just three episodesso far), so perhaps this new addiction will wane, too. Meanwhile, though, I know whom to blame for introducing me to this latest vice: Colby Marshall, a fellow author at Stairway Press. Check out her thrillers, they are worth it!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Missing You - Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben is back with his latest thriller, MISSING YOU. After a few books which were solidly good yet not brilliant, he's created a set of oddball characters we love to love. Together with a twisty, satisfying plot, that will jerk your heartstrings, this is a sure winner.

(Incidentally, here is a reviewer who disagrees with me and while loving MISSING YOU thinks the 2013 Coben, SIX YEARS, was better.)

And yes, Mr Coben, I remember the song well. :-)

From the book jacket:

It's a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancĂ© Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years.

Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her.  But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

As the body count mounts and Kat's hope for a second chance with Jeff grows more and more elusive, she is consumed by an investigation that challenges her feelings about everyone she ever loved—her former fiancĂ©, her mother, and even her father, whose cruel murder so long ago has never been fully explained.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rediscovering Ruth Rendell

I used to read lots of Ruth Rendell books. My favourites include The Crocodile Bird, The Bridesmaid and Sight For Sore Eyes. So I was pleasantly surprised to discover The Vault which picks up the action years after the events of Sight For Sore Eyes, with Wexford trying to solve the more-than-a-decade-old mystery. A thoroughly good read.

Encouraged by that, I read The St Zita Society by the same author. I love the way she portrays her characters. I shall be reading and re-readign more Ruth Rendells soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

You know, I'm very pleasantly surprised by Raising Steam. It's almost as though old Terry's back. It's great to return to Ankh-Morpork where Nobby is Nobby, Vimes is Vimes and Vetinari is Vetinari - or is he? Having a steam train in Discworld is a logical step in the series, and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Class With Savvy Authors

Running Down the Stairs, She Put on Her Shoes by Yvonne Walus

Registration Information
Click to register
May 12 - May 25, 2014
Savvy Authors forums

"Running down the stairs, she put on her shoes." Do you know why your editor will tell you to rework this sentence?
This class will tell you why. It'll also teach you how to dig deeper into the story to come up with interesting sentence structures, other than the dreaded "she did this and then she did that."

Level: Mixed
Where:  The Savvy Forums
Cost:  Premium Members $20 / Basic Members $30

Lesson 1: Those pesky -ings
Lesson 2: He said, she said... Remove Those Tags!
Lesson 3: She went outside. She started the car engine. She drove... and the reader fell asleep.
Lesson 4: Q&A
Yvonne Walus is an award-winning novelist with over 20 books published in USA and UK.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Buy a book and win $100

Stop Press! If you are the 10th customer to buy "Operation: Genocide" before the end of February 2014, you will win $100 from me personally. To qualify, you must buy it here:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Sophie King Prize - Runner Up!

I'm stoked to be the runner-up in this competition: My story, High On Life, will be published in the resulting anthology. Watch this space!

This is a great honour for me, because I enjoy Sophie King's books so. I got to know her with The School Run, and haven't looked back. Thank you, Sophie.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thank you,!

This was kind of awesome. I received an email today with my own book suggested for purchase. Yes,, you're right. The book is definitely to my liking, LOL.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Dying Hours - Mark Billingham

5/5 for The Dying Hours by Mark Billingham, the 11th Tom Thorne book in the series that just keeps getting better. I like that the overall plot structure is moving towards a more thinking, more feeling Thorne. Even though his actions are still reckless and childish (that's why we love him!), he seems more emotionally mature in The Dying Hours.

Add a cool idea for a serial killer, mix in the usual supporting cast of friends and colleagues. Devour in one sitting.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hysteria 2

Hysteria 2 is an anthology of winning stories from the Hysteria 2013 writing competition. The stories span cultures, some you will be familiar with and others you won't. They cover a wide range of experiences that affect women in today's 21st century world.

We meet the girl who can't attain her dream because school is for boys, the reality of living with a stroke, long distance marriage, how the childless cope in a world full of technology and a marriage with no heart. Ten stories altogether, each is told with feeling and love and every one reaches into the heart of the reader without any effort whatsoever.

Contributors and Winners:

Tracy Fells
Valerie Clements
Veronica Bright
Yvonne Walus
Mararet McAlister
Shelia Llewellyn
Margaret Davies
Sarah Hegarty
Lynne Voyce
Mairi Wilson

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Sunstrike by Bev Robitai

SunstrikeSunstrike by Bev Robitai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A clever marriage of futuristic setting and crime fiction, this book will make you glad the world still has electricity. Most enjoyable.

View all my reviews

New Year's Non-Resolutions

Year after year, the 31st of December rolls in and I don't make any New Year resolutions. I'm happy with that. I know that it's not going to happen anyway. I won't get more sleep, no matter how much I want to. I won't work less or go to gym more. I will yell at the kids when I'm grumpy and I won't spend less time writing. This is who I am and I'm comfortable with that.

Happy 2014! May you all find contentment with who you are.