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A Shadow’s Breath

A Shadow's BreathA Shadow’s Breath by Nicole Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The date I read this may be a little out, but the timing is not. I devoured this book in a sitting. It is a compelling and heart-wrenching story, and the writing is spot-on. I was taking with a friend recently about reading books that have a moment where you are thrown out of the story because of a bum note in either the plot or the characterisation – there’s none of that in here. From the first page I was sucked into the claustrophobic, despairing and tense predicament that Tessa finds herself in. Hayes deftly weaves the past and present together in chapters named ‘Then’ and ‘Now’, slowly revealing Tessa’s life in all its gritty, difficult, messy, shameful detail. This is reality fiction at its finest. Tessa’s mother, Ellen, is clearly realised. A recovering alcoholic, we are privy to Tessa’s contempt for her and her promises to go straight this time.

Then…She wanted to believe her mum – that this was it. That things would be different…But…Tessa had to fight off this feeling like she did all the other things she knew would lead to disappointment. How else would she hold it together?
Still. It had been two months, and her mum was really trying. Three weeks straight of making lunches and asking about Tessa’s day. Curling up in front of the TV at night, both of them, together.
Two months of no arsehole and no booze. Half of it spent out of bed too.

Tessa’s longing and distrust are palpable. Kids want their parents to be the adult, no matter how much they push against the confines of being a teenager, but it is clear that Tessa has had to be her own parent.
In addition, Tessa is negotiating her way through the endless minefield that is high school. Despite having Nick as a boyfriend, most of the students at Carrima High treat Tessa as someone to be avoided at best, and, at worst, a total weirdo to be mercilessly mocked.
Just as in real life, every character in this story has secrets, and as Hayes reveals them we are slowly dragged into terrible and shocking realisations about Tessa’s past life and present situation.
To say any more would be to reveal too much. Suffice to say that tissues will be required.
I recommend this to all readers teenaged and above. All the feels.

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The Dry

The DryThe Dry by Jane Harper
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was good, not earth-shattering, but a solid murder mystery, with some interesting twist and turns. 3.5 stars.

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Everybody Sees The Ants

Everybody Sees the AntsEverybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was GREAT!!!
Lucky Linderman is my new hero. Smart, funny and an emotional young man. I do love a book with a male character that can articulate his feelings in an authentic way. Lucky is a total dude. Can totally recommend as a great read for young people and adults.

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Coraline

Coraline. An Adventure too Weird for WordsCoraline. An Adventure too Weird for Words by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I listened to this walking the darkened streets of my suburb. Scared the bejesus out of me. Definitely one to read with the lights on. Dawn French is a perfect choice to read this – alternately funny and scary and funny and batpoo scary!!!

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Angel Creek

Angel CreekAngel Creek by Sally Rippin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this family-based fantasy.
Jelly is struggling with moving away from her primary school friends, She is worried about starting high school, doesn’t get along with her cousin, Gino, and there a family undercurrents that are making her very uneasy.
It all adds up to one very unusual Christmas.

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Phantom of Blood Alley

Phantom of Blood Alley (Barnaby Grimes, # 4)Phantom of Blood Alley by Paul Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Barnaby Grimes is an excellent series. The characters are engaging, the plots intriguing and the world building is great. The whole is enhance by the wonderful illustrations from Chris Riddell.

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Mr. Standfast

Mr. Standfast (Richard Hannay, #3)Mr. Standfast by John Buchan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mr. Standfast concludes the Hannay trilogy, which begins with The Thirty-Nine Steps, and continues through Greenmantle.
In this instalment, Hannay is called in to help discover the identity of a masterspy. There are the usual characters – Blenkiron and Piennar – and the addition of a female character, Mary.

The novel roams all over the British Isles, and onto the continent. There’s goodies and baddies galore, red-herrings, romance, manoeuvres and more. Buchan doesn’t disappoint. This is another cracking read.

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