Yakuza Moon by Shōko Tendō

Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter

Published in: 2004
Pages: 196
Edition read:

Book description:
Born to a wealthy and powerful yakuza boss, Shoko Tendo lived the early years of her life in luxury. However, when she was six, everything changed: her father was jailed, and the family fell into debt. Bullied by her classmates because of her father’s activities, and terrorized at home by her father, who became a drunken, violent monster after his release from prison, Tendo rebelled. As a teenager she became a drug addict and a member of a girl gang. At the age of 15 she spent eight months in a juvenile detention center after getting into a fight with another gang.
During Japan’s bubble economy of the eighties, Tendo worked as a bar hostess, attracting many rich and loyal customers, and earning money to help her family out of debt. But there were also abusive clients, one of whom beat her so badly that her face was left permanently scarred. Her mother died, plunging Tendo into a depression so deep that she tried to commit suicide.
Somehow, Tendo overcame these tough times. A turning point was getting a full-body tattoo with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, an act that empowered her to change her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at work, she looked up at the full moon, which became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book she wrote as an epitaph for herself and her family.

My review:
This is not a well-written book, the author states this herself in the opening paragraphs. She is not a writer, she is not looking to make a living from this, she is simply just wanting to tell her story. And that she does, quite well, given she is not a writer. Her writing style jumps a bit, and sometimes she will throw in bits and pieces that don’t add anything to the story; or she will start on one thing, and then next sentence she is on some other subject with no explanation; but if you can overlook this and get into the story, it’s pretty good.

I originally wanted to read this book as I thought it might give me an insight to the Yakuza, which is always portrayed as bad-assed motorcycle riding sword wielding Japanese mobsters in movies- but are they really like that? However, this isn’t really a book about them, this is about someone who is linked to the Yakuza and how it has influenced them.

This was fascinating to read, and kept me entertained during a long car-ride down south for a stupid cousin’s wedding that I so did not want to attend. It was also quite short, which was nice given the length of other books I’ve been reading lately!

Final review:
Yakuza Moon rating:
Would I re-read it? No, this is one of those books that you really only need to read once
Who would I recommend it to? For anyone interested in memoirs, Japanese culture, or Yakuza.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6482679-yakuza-moon
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Yakuza-Moon-Memoirs-Gangsters-Daughter/dp/1568364385

Ice Study by Maria V. Snyder

Ice Study (Study, #3.6)

Published in: 2009
Pages: 30
Edition read: Hardcover- was added in at the end of my Fan-Edition Dawn Study book
Series: Book 3.6 in the Study series

Book description:
This story is a prequel to Shadow Study. Ice Study tells a short story after Fire Study and another short story Power Study.

After the events of Fire Study, Yelena and Valek’s sabattical is cut short when they become entangled in a plot to prevent the Ice Moon from falling into the hands of a rogue magician.

My review:
So the Study series refers back to the events in this short story quite frequently, and although everything seemed familiar, I hadn’t actually read the short story before. It’s a quick read at only 30 pages, and yet Maria has managed to cram in so much story! It amazes me how she manages to do this.

This was a good story to read to get you prepared for the rest of the Study series, but not essential reading before the Study series as you can pretty much piece together what happened. I really enjoyed it though, and it helped ease the grief of finishing off the Study series and having this gaping hole in my life with no hope of any more Yelena and Valek stories in the future; it reminded me that I could go back and re-read the entire series all over again! Huzzuh!

Final review:
Ice Study rating:
10/10, because I love this series.
Would I re-read it? Yes! This series can do no wrong.
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of the Study series, fans of fantasy books with lots of action and awesome kick-ass characters.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7276503-ice-study
Author’s website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/IceStudy.php
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ice-Study-Maria-V-Snyder-ebook/dp/B01LYCNG12

Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3) Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6) Dawn Study (Soulfinders, #3; Study, #6)








Published in: 2017
Pages: 478
Edition read: Hardcover, Australian Fan Edition
Series: Book 6 & final book in the Study series, book 3 in the Soulfinders Trilogy

Book description:
Despite the odds, Yelena and Valek have forged an irrevocable bond and a family that transcends borders. Now, when their two homelands stand on the brink of war, they must fight with magic and cunning to thwart an Ixian plot to invade Sitia.
Yelena seeks to break the hold of the insidious Theobroma that destroys a person’s resistance to magical persuasion. But the Cartel is determined to keep influential citizens and Sitian diplomats in thrall and Yelena at bay. With every bounty hunter after her, Yelena is forced to make a dangerous deal.
With might and magic, Valek peels back the layers of betrayal surroundig the Commander. At its rotten core lies a powerful magician and his latest discovery. The fate of all rests upon two unlikely weapons. One may turn the tide. The other could spell the end of everything.

My review:
Why the three covers? Because look how pretty they are. This is one thing about this series that I adore, the covers of each edition of these books are gorgeous. Just look at them! The Australian one is the most dull simple with the black background, but even so it’s still pretty. I had to get the special fan edition that has tiny pictures of Maria’s fans that make up the image (it’s pretty cool), but now the hardcover doesn’t match the rest of my paperbacks! Ah book problems.

So. This book. Oh my gooooooooooddddddd this book. Where do I start? Well. It was amazing. Valek and Yelena are hands-down my alltime favourite characters, possibly ever. That’s saying something. I just adore them soooo much. The adventures these two get up to, its amazing. The love they share, it’s awe-inspiring.

Gushing aside, this book is told from multiple POVs and that makes for interesting reading, as we get the impressions of other characters like Valek, Leif, Janco, etc. It’s fun to read their perspectives, and it gives more variety to the story as we get all their adventures as well as Yelena’s. Yelena’s pregnancy is really awesome, seeing her progress but still kick-ass while waddling (could we expect any less from her?) and the ending is so sweet.

The only problem I have is that a swift conclusion seems to have been reached after such a buildup, it’s like 400 pages of building up to this massive plan, and then bam two pages and it’s done. Although I realise now that had Maria gone ahead and played out the plan in detail, it’d be another 300 pages (not that I’m complaining, bring on more story!).

So, I am now super sad that this series, that Yelena and Valek are now finished, and I won’t read anymore of their adventures! What am I to do with my life now? I mean, I couuulllddd re-read Poison Study again…

Final review:
Dawn Study rating:
Study / Soulfinder series rating: 100000000/10.
Would I re-read it? Duh. Of course I will. Did you not read the gushy-gushy above? This book = love. This series = super love.
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of Maria’s other work, the Study or Soulfinder series, fans of fantasy books involving magic and epic adventure.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33976343-dawn-study
Author’s website: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/books.php
Harlequin books: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781489220899
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Dawn-Study-Maria-V-Snyder/dp/0778319857

Speaking in Bones by Kathy

Speaking in Bones (Temperance Brennan, #18)
Published in: 2015
Pages: 303
Edition read: Paperback
Series: Book 18 in the Temperance Brennan series

Book description:
For every case Temperence Brennance has solved, there remain innumerable unidentified bodies in her lab. Information on some of these is available online, where amateur sleuths sometimes take a stab at solving cases. One day, Tempe gets a call from Hazel “Lucky” Strike, a web sleuth who believes she’s successfully connected a body in Tempe’s lab to a missing persons report on an eighteen-year-old named Cora Teague. Since the bones in her lab do seem to match Cora’s medical records, Tempe looks into the case, returning to the spot where the bones were originally found. What seems at first to be an isolated tragedy takes on a more sinister cast as Tempe uncovers two more sets of bones nearby. When she then learns that the area is known as a viewing point for a famous unexplained light phenomenon with significance for a local cult, Tempe’s suspicious turn to murder by ritual sacrifice—a theory thrown into question when Hazel herself turns up dead. Still reeling from her mother’s diagnosis and the shock of Andrew Ryan’s potentially life-change proposal, Tempe races to solve the murders before the body count climbs further.

My review:
I liked bits and pieces of this book, but it wasn’t as wow-factor as some of the other books, which was a shame. The last book leaves on such a revelation/cliffhanger/OMG moment- what will Tempe decide? I was yelling “SAY YES!!” at my book, like the characters could hear me, and eagerly started this book to find out what her answer was… which we don’t really get until towards the end.

The mystery of this book revolves around an online forum/collective dedicated to solving cold cases, which sounds cool until you get down to the dirty politics (people fighting over cases, stealing leads, etc). It also revolves around crazy religious sects and the demented things that they do all in the name of their beliefs, which is just totally batshit insane.  It was a pretty good mystery, but I know Kathy has written way better ones before and had been hoping for a real zinger with this book (but alas, no). I will have to wait until she publishes her next book, which is a bummer as before it was a matter of reaching for the next book on my bookshelf, but now that I’ve caught up in the series… I have to twiddle my thumbs and wait like a chump.

How do people live like this? (My solution was to dive headfirst into the longest book I could find, which was a 1,840 page humdinger…. A month on and I’m still not even halfway through that behemoth so maybe that wasn’t the best of ideas!)

Final review:
Speaking in Bones rating:
6/10. Good, but not great
Would I re-read it? Yes, but I would read other books in this series over this one.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the series, fans of murder mysteries, crime fiction, etc.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23664683-speaking-in-bones
Author’s website: http://kathyreichs.com/speaking-in-bones/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Speaking-Bones-Novel-Temperance-Brennan/dp/0345544064

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies

Published in: 2014
Pages: 406
Edition read: E-book

Book description:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

My review:
So this is currently an 8-part mini-series showing on TV and it looks amazing. Liane is an Australian author and the book is set in Australia with the right slang and settings, so it was really fun to read as I could actually relate to the characters. The TV series is set in an American town and is completely different (but amazing and I love it- plus it has Alexander Skarsgård in it, so we can all drool over him/I mean admire his acting skills. Yeah that’s it.)

The book, I read this in about a day. Non-stop. I actually got annoyed that I had to go out and socialise with friends because I just wanted to keep reading this book, which is very easy to read and very addictive. You don’t know who is murdered at the start, and you don’t until the very end- I did not see that coming at all. There is a very strong message about domestic abuse in this book, and it is very well done; there is also a strong message about the culture of parental involvement in schools, bullying and it’s effects on people, and the pressures of society.

Basically, this book was amazing from start-to-end, even with all it’s super dark themes and messages, as it is very well written, the story progresses at a great pace and keeps you entertained the entire time, and it’s easy to spend 3 hours breezing through the book and then realise that you’re past the halfway mark and may as well keep reading because you just gotta know how things end up- does Jane ever get to confront Ziggy’s dad, does Celeste ever get to leave, how will Madeline up the ante on this weird feud, and why do we hate Renata so much (when if we were in her place, we’d totally be doing the same thing as nobody abuses your child goddamnit!)

Basically, read this book. Just do it. Also, the TV show is pretty awesome too.

Final review:
Big Little Lies rating:
Would I re-read it? YES!!!!! OMG SO TOTALLY YESSSS.
Who would I recommend it to? For anyone watching the TV mini-series, as the book is always better (and the book is different slightly, so you should read it to see where the inspiration came from).

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19486412-big-little-lies
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Little_Lies_(novel)
Author’s website: http://lianemoriarty.com.au/Book/big-little-lies-us/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Big-Little-Lies-Liane-Moriarty-ebook/dp/B00HDMMISA

The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs

The Bone Collection: Four Novellas (Temperance Brennan, #0.5, 15.5, 16.5, & 17.5)

Published in: 2016
Pages: 388
Edition read: E-book
Series: Temperance Brennan series, books 0.5, 15.5, 16.5, 17.5

In First Bones, a prequel to Reichs’s first novel, Déjà Dead, she at last reveals the tale of how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist. In this never-before-published story, Tempe recalls the case that lured her from a promising career in academia into the grim but addictive world of criminal investigation. (It all began with a visit from a pair of detectives—and a John Doe recovered from an arson scene in a trailer.) The collection is rounded out with three more stories that take Tempe from the low country of the Florida Everglades, where she makes a grisly discovery in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python, to the heights of Mount Everest, where a frozen corpse is unearthed.

My review:
This collection of novellas was pretty good, though it was written in a different tense to the rest of the series, which kinda annoyed me.

There are 4 stories that fit in between the main novels of the Temperance Brennan series, and they were all pretty entertaining. One shows a young Tempe and her first case, in a time before Katie, before the divorce with Pete, and before her alcoholism. Another involves big snakes, the wetlands, and a snake hunting competition, which was pretty entertaining. A third involves a body dump in a canvas bag, enviro-nuts, bird fanatics, and a puppy farm. The fourth, and my favourite of the stories, involves a death on Everest and a straight-forward identification of frozen remains that turns out to be anything but. That was the most entertaining, and the most unique- who would even think to murder someone on Everest, when a wrong footstep will do the work for you?

These books previously existed only as separate, downloadable books, but thankfully Kathy Reichs has released them all in a handy paperback collection, so anyone can access them regardless of whether they have a computer (which is great for the older readers!)

Final review:
The Bone Collection rating:
Would I re-read it? Yes!
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the series who may have read the other books but not had a chance to get to the novellas, this is straight-up for you! Otherwise, anyone who may have an interest in this series/author but isn’t sure if they will like it, these handy short stories are a great starting point for you to test the waters!

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30651909-the-bone-collection
Author’s website: http://kathyreichs.com/bone-collection-11-1-16/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bone-Collection-Four-Novellas/dp/0399593225

Of Merchants & Heroes by Paul Waters

Of Merchants & Heroes

Published in: 2008
Pages: 471
Edition read: Paperback

Book description:
At the end of the third century BC, as Republican Rome’s long war with Carthage was at last drawing to a close, it was already threatened by a new enemy, Philip, the tyrant king of Macedon in the east. Thus begins Rome’s long involvement with Greek civilization, from which it is to learn so much . . . Into this turbulent world emerges our Roman hero, Marcus, whose father is brutally murdered by pirates on a journey from Italy to Corfu on a visit to his uncle. Fate takes him to some of the great cities of the Greco-Roman world at a time of major turbulence, where he learns much and finds love unexpectedly.

My review:
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading this book. Some in this genre of ancient Rome/Greece are tedious and too detailed/too technical/too lingo-full for the casual reader, which detracts from the story. This was a perfect blend of storyline and historical facts, sprinkled with little bits of lingo that just added to the story.

The main story involves Marcus as he struggles with an asshole step-father, his revenge against the man/pirate/asshat who killed his father, the political climate of Greece and how to be a Roman in Greece, and a romance with Menexenos. A lot of people probably have issue with Marcus and Menexenos’s relationship, but this was completely normal in ancient Rome, for men to take male lovers. The author could have shied away from that subject, but instead he embraced it and it became quite an integral part of the story. He also included a note at the end of the book stating that above fact, which I thought was really good for those who may have been curious as to why this was in the story, and also better than having it at the beginning where some people might see that and decide not to read this book because they are homophobic assholes. No, this way, you are invested in the story when the relationship blossoms. Much better! Plus it’s totally worth reading as it was just a damn good book.

Final review:
Of Merchants & Heroes rating:
Would I re-read it? Yes, it was very easy to read and had a great story
Who would I recommend it to?
For fans of ancient Rome/Greece and historical fiction.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2953530-of-merchants-heroes
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com.au/Merchants-Heroes-Paul-Waters-ebook/dp/B00ASZZ46W
Google Books: https://books.google.com.au/books/about/Of_Merchants_and_Heroes.html?id=M-O9ngEACAAJ&redir_esc=y

Bones Never Lie by Kathy Reichs

Bones Never Lie (Temperance Brennan, #17)

Published in: 2014
Pages: 336
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 17 in the Temperance Brennan series

Book description:
Unexpectedly called in to the Charlotte PD’s Cold Case Unit, Dr. Temperance Brennan wonders why she’s been asked to meet with a homicide cop who’s a long way from his own jurisdiction. The shocking answer: Two child murders, separated by thousands of miles, have one thing in common—the killer. Years ago, Anique Pomerleau kidnapped and murdered a string of girls in Canada, then narrowly eluded capture. It was a devastating defeat for her pursuers, Brennan and police detective Andrew Ryan. Now, as if summoned from their nightmares, Pomerleau has resurfaced in the United States, linked to victims in Vermont and North Carolina. When another child is snatched, the reign of terror promises to continue—unless Brennan can rise to the challenge and make good on her second chance to stop a psychopath.

But Brennan will have to draw her bitter ex-partner out of exile, keep the local police and feds from one another’s throats, and face more than just her own demons as she stalks the deadliest of predators into the darkest depths of madness.

My review:
This was a bloody good book! There were a few meh ones lately, but this book… this was sooo good. The book throws back to an earlier book and case involving Anique Pomerleau, and as Tempe and Ryan (Yes, Ryan is back!) go back over their old case, it was all coming back to me as well- Anique trying to burn down the house, the other women that were killed, Tawny escaping… The murderer was hard to pick, but the clues were quite obvious this time (in retrospect) and I had an inkling that something was off with them.

The best thing is that Ryan is back. After not appearing much in the recent books, having him back for longer than a chapter or two is amazing. He may not be his old self, but having him watching out for Tempe, the way they can bounce ideas off each other, it’s what makes them such a good duo (and so good to read!)

We also finally get to meet Tempe’s mother, who is fascinating. A bipolar woman who was in and out of Tempe’s life, she was not what I expected- although I thought she was dead, even though it was never actually stated. She was integral into finding the murderer, she’s a whiz at the computers, and I think that she could be a really interesting character if she appears in future books and isn’t just killed off, which is where it seems to be heading.

Oh, and the ending. What?! I need to read the next book to find out if… ah!

Final review:
Bones Never Lie rating:
Would I re-read it? Yes I would
Who would I recommend it to? For fans of the author, anyone interested in crime, mystery, drama. It helps to have read Monday Mourning so you are familiar with the story, but you don’t have to in order to be able to enjoy this book.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/19322169-bones-never-lie
Author’s site: http://kathyreichs.com/bones-never-lie/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bones-Never-Lie-Temperance-Brennan/dp/1501111744

Bones Of The Lost by Kathy Reichs

Bones of  the Lost  (Temperance Brennan, #16)

Published in: 2013
Pages: 324
Edition read: E-book
Series: Book 16 in the Temperance Brennan series

Book Description:
When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered?

The medical examiner has also asked Tempe to examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquities and the trafficking of humans?

As the case deepens, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the Army. Meanwhile, Katy’s father Pete is frustrated by Tempe’s reluctance to finalize their divorce. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America, to Afghanistan, and right to the center of Charlotte.

My review:
This was a good book, the murderer was not the person I thought it’d be even if the clues were there. Tempe is the only one pushing the investigation into a poor dead teenage girl who looks to be an immigrant and a hooker, which apparently means she is no longer important because she’s not white and rich. Which is infuriating, so I was totally there with Tempe pushing Slidell and co to investigate this murder, and cheering on Tempe as she kept investigating when others would have given up.

Tempe also visits Afghanistan in the book to help clear the name of a soldier who has been accused of shooting unarmed civilians, as well as connecting with Katy who has taken a position in the army, been deployed to Afghanistan, and is currently serving in the war-torn areas. I liked the glimpse into army life over in Afghanistan, that was really fascinating (I wonder how factually accurate it is though?).

The way everything comes together in the end is really good, given how unrelated everything is at the start, and the book kept me really interested throughout, so overall it was a good read.

Final review:
Bones of the Lost rating:
Would I re-read it? Yes
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of the author, her books and television series, anyone interested in murder mysteries, crime fiction, or forensic anthropology.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16130559-bones-of-the-lost
Author’s website: http://kathyreichs.com/bones-of-the-lost-uk/
Penguin books: https://penguin.com.au/books/bones-of-the-lost-9780099558057
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bones-Lost-Temperance-Brennan-Novel/dp/1476754748

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Published in: 1886
Pages: 96
Edition read: E-book

Book description:
Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego.

My review:
This short read was not quite what I expected- for starters, Mr Hyde, the monster, actually is a smaller runtier version of Dr Jekyll. Not the giant hideously malformed monster he is represented as in most movies. That was a bit of a let-down. Mr Hyde is basically all of the evil and bad parts of Dr Jekyll, and through a special liquid, Dr Jekyll shrinks into this version of himself and has no conscience, so he can do whatever he wants- drink, smoke, screw, murder.

We learn of Jekyll/Hyde and their misfortune through his friends, whom he eventually reveals his secrets to, and help to identify him when he no longer can retain the form of Jekyll.

It’s an interesting idea, but given the length of the novel, it doesn’t go into too much detail.

Final review:
Jekyll/Hyde rating:
Would I re-read it? No, it was ok but once was enough
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone into literature or curious about where the Jekyll/Hyde legend came from.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/288840.The_Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strange_Case_of_Dr_Jekyll_and_Mr_Hyde