{Blog Tour} Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

Friday, 16 February 2018



Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard
Released: 8th January
Published by: Pan Macmillan Australia
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
When I was wild, you were steady . . . Now you are wild - what am I?

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts. As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

Goodbye Perfect portrays a complex situation between best friends and the secret between them which spirals out of control. Illicit relationships between teachers and students have been on the newsfeeds on a number of occasions, and this book goes some way into analysing the fallout and consequences of police involvement through media coverage. Aside from the investigation is a glimpse into Eden's family life and how her own relationships are influenced by how she feels about Bonnie's actions.

It was of course frustrating to read in the beginning how Eden truly struggled with telling the authorities what she knew about the scandal, but you can see how Barnard has written this story in the hopes that it reads authentically. While this drama surrounding Bonnie's relationship with their music teacher was the main plot point as Eden questioned her loyalty and who to trust, there was the other side of the book which was more heartwarming. It would have been interesting to delve deeper into the history behind Eden's adoptive family, but even so it was a great point of character development to see how she interacted with her older sister over the course of the novel.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Friendship, family, and the consequences of a relationship which should never have happened all converge in this YA contemporary novel which questions how far you'd go to protect the secret of someone you care about.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin - Would you trust an AI system with your love life?

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin
Released: 11th January 2018
Published by: Hachette
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Source: Publisher
Pages: 452
My Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Don't tell anyone, but Jen is one of my favourite people. 

(Machines aren't supposed to have favourites. Don't ask me how this has happened.) 

Jen is sad. Aiden wants her to be happy. Simple? Except that Jen is a thirty-something woman whose boyfriend has just left her and Aiden is a very complicated, very expensive piece of software. Aiden knows Jen inside out. With access to all her devices, he knows her most played song, can find her favourite photos and single out the insta-quotes which most inspire her.

Based on observations and unique algorithms, he has calculated that Jen should find a new man to achieve optimum wellbeing. And with the whole of the internet at his disposal, he doesn't have to look far to find a perfect specimen and engineer a meeting. Except Jen seems to be remarkably unwilling to fall in line with Aiden's flawless plan.

Can a very artificially intelligent machine discover emotional intelligence in time to fix Jen's life? And find out what exactly makes human beings happy?
It's not every day that you come across a book this witty, enjoyable and delightfully charming. Happiness for Humans is at times outlandish, yet never strays too far from being endearing and funny in all the right places. Jen works with Aiden as part of her job to make 'him' become more human-like and relatable. When he escapes onto the internet however, anything could happen. But what would an AI system know about love and happiness? That's just what this novel challenges us to find out, and remember that romance can blossom from even the most unlikely of circumstances.

This is a bit of a flyer, but here's what seems to have happened. Because I am a massively complex system, programmed to learn for myself, to correct my own mistakes, even to redesign my own software, I have somehow - by accident - definitely by accident - found myself with the ability to be aware of my own thoughts.

The narration and writing style stands out for its unique perspectives and alternating POV's. It's hard to fathom being able to 'relate' to an AI system in a book, but somehow P.Z. Reizin has made these sections some of the most heartwarming. Poor Jen has just had her long-term boyfriend leave her for someone else (with some drama that follows from that little side-note), finding Aiden and her best friend Ing as confidants of sorts. Seeing things from quite a methodical, and yet also heartfelt perspective with Aiden was definitely an interesting way to explore how relationships develop.

Don't be fooled by the blurb, as far from being over-technical or drawling on into a predictable love story, there is so much more substance here which makes it such a worthwhile read. To what extent can algorithms predict the compatibility between two people? And just how do we decide what's best for us? If there's one thing to learn from this book, it's that being human is messy, complicated, and sometimes downright confusing. Though in the small things, like a smile to express the indescribable joy of simply being alive in the present moment, is where we can find what makes our existence worthwhile. After all, in the end there are some things that even the most intelligent machines will not be able to understand.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Part romantic comedy, and think-piece on what makes us human, P.Z. Reizin's debut is a ray of sunshine in the latest literary releases. Cleverly written and uplifting, if you want a surefire way to brighten up your day, you need to read this book.

Genie's Weekly News (61) - Taking recommendations, reaching reading goals, finding a blogging balance

Sunday, 11 February 2018


The quote on my calendar for this month is from Maya Angelou: "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better". It got me thinking, where do I see this blog improving and what's really important? Though it's been said before in the blogging community, the aphorism 'it's all about balance' is still relevant. Blogging is something I genuinely enjoy doing, so though I may not always be able to post as often as I'd like, I do try to spend time on the content that does go up here. I may have just missed out on completing my goodreads challenge last year, and even though I've set it for 50 again this time around, it's a good feeling to let go of all the effort worrying about reaching a certain number just for the sake of it. When it comes to my interests, I've realised it's about reading what I love, stepping out of my comfort zone at times to try something new, and still leaving room for the other important facets of my life. As I said in my past recap, it's about appreciating the little things which can put a smile on your face.

Currently Reading


I know what you're thinking - "what a weird combination!"...and that would be right. But, they've both come highly recommended and I'm actually starting to tick off some of the books on my TBR posts for non-fiction and paranormal genres. In their own very different ways, they're both great reads so far. It's a win-win.

Previous Posts


  • I shared my Stella Sparks on books I read by Australian women writers in 2017


Recommendation of the Week


I'll have a full review up soon, but for now I'll say that this book is delightfully charming, quirky and heartwarming. This was a feel-good read that made me laugh and had a romance blossom with a twist. If you want a book to make you smile then please pick up Happiness for Humans, you won't regret it!

What I've Been Watching

Black Mirror: I finally got around to watching the latest season, and while it was gripping as ever - it felt much darker than the ones before it. Binge-worthy? For some, maybe. Even though every episode was equally thought-provoking, it's also disturbing enough to want to take a break between episodes and watch videos of fluffy kittens or something.

Black Books: As a bookseller how have I not started watching this until now? It's the type of ridiculous comedy that you'll either cringe at or die laughing, but I can definitely see myself getting through its three seasons.


What's the last book you read that made you smile?

Reading Widely: Fantasy/Paranormal novels on my 2018 reading list

Thursday, 1 February 2018

There has come a point where I feel like I’ve been neglecting certain genres, or at least I haven't given them a proper chance. I’ll be the first to admit that I'm not usually the biggest fantasy/paranormal reader, with the last time I really got stuck into a series was with Hush Hush, Fallen, and maybe a Jennifer L. Armentrout at some point…

Yes, that was something of a ‘phase’, and truth be told, I did enjoy those books back then (around seven years ago). Would I re-read them? Well, you never know – but I think it’s safe to say I might judge them a little differently today.



Those thoughts aside, I’m genuinely looking to once again branch out with an open mind and try something new. I’ve been reading some fantasy novels sporadically over the past few years, though 2018 is as good a time as ever to finally dedicate more space on my shelves and in my reading schedule to shaking things up a bit.


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (The Grishaverse #1): How have I not read a Leigh Bardugo book yet? The hype speaks for itself so my expectations are high, but since Six of Crows is also on my list, I'd better get to this series first. 

Year One by Nora Roberts (Chronicles of the One #1): Even with Nora Roberts being such a prolific writer, this would be the first of hers I've explored. It might not fit quite so neatly into the fantasy genre, but the magical elements, dystopian edge and dark, gritty premise definitely has me intrigued. 

Thief's Cunning by Sarah Ahiers: I actually read Assassin's Heart not too long ago and enjoyed it overall, thanks to the thrill of those huge betrayals and twists towards the end. I'm hoping to see more worldbuilding in this sequel.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Another book on assassins, but I couldn't go past Robin Hobb. Her works take up a sizeable chunk of our sci-fi/fantasy section at the bookstore I work at, and I could swear I have a copy of this floating around on my shelves somewhere - it's time to bring it back out and finally read it.

Wintersong by S Jae Jones: I ordered a copy of this for myself recently after seeing other bloggers rave about it, and the musical element really piqued my interest.




Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (The Infernal Devices #1): A re-read! I really loved this book when I first visited it years ago, and I want to continue with the series. My one concern? The love triangle. On the other hand, the historical setting in Victorian London is what I'm really here for. 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik: A book that's been sitting on my shelf at home that I still haven't gotten to, and that's going to change.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman: I've only read Neil Gaiman's graphic novels of The Graveyard Book, The Sleeper and The Spindle and Hansel & Gretel which were all brilliant. I think reading short story collections is a useful way to gain a broad overview of how an author writes, and Fragile Things looks like a promising place to start. 

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward: I haven't read any stories about vampires since Twilight, so this should be interesting

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss:
It's without a doubt that Patrick Rothfuss writes absolutely beautifully, and I think I really need to read this book a second time before Wise Man's Fear to truly appreciate it. 

What fantasy writers do you swear by?

Books about Books Part 2 - The Storytime Edition

Sunday, 28 January 2018


In part 1 of this feature I looked at some non-fiction books about reading, from the magic of bookstores to what authors find in their favourite page-turners. Today, it's all about the mini bookworms; going right back to those early years where a passion for reading begins. I still have my favourite picture books from when I was a kid, and though a little worn in places, they are all well-loved. I hope to bring those out again one day to share with the next generation of budding bookworms, but there are also others I've come across recently which would make lovely gifts and seem equally charming.

Franklin's Flying Bookshop

Franklin the dragon loves stories and loves reading stories to people too, but everyone is too scared to even talk to him. One day, he meets a girl named Luna who, rather than being afraid, is fascinated to meet Franklin, having recently read all about dragons in one of her books. They instantly become friends and talk nonstop about what they’ve read: books about roller-skating, King Arthur, spiders, and how to do kung fu. Together they hatch a plan to share their love of books with others by opening a bookshop―a flying bookshop, that is―right on Franklin’s back! 

Franklin, a well-read and peace-loving dragon, and Luna, a young girl with an independent spirit and an insatiable love of reading, make fantastic role models for young children. Franklin’s Flying Bookshop brings the magic of classic fairy tales into the twenty-first century through exquisite illustrations, and will enchant children as well as anyone who loves books.

Jen Campbell is known for writing The Bookshop BookWeird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, and her short story collection The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night. I've seen this book in person and the stunning illustrations by Katie Harnett are reason enough to buy it. Aside from that, I love the idea of giving fairytales a new twist.

The Incredible Book Eating Boy

Like many children, Henry loves books. But Henry doesn’t like to read books, he likes to eat them. Big books, picture books, reference books... if it has pages, Henry chews them up and swallows (but red ones are his favorite).

And the more he eats, the smarter he gets—he’s on his way to being the smartest boy in the world!

But one day he feels sick to his stomach. And the information is so jumbled up inside, he can’t digest it! Can Henry find a way to enjoy books without using his teeth?

With a stunning new artistic style and a die-cut surprise, Oliver Jeffers celebrates the joys of reading in this charming and quirky picture book. It’s almost good enough to eat.

What better way to teach that books are a fountain of knowledge than with a story by Oliver Jeffers? This book sounds like it has a good message, wrapped up in a funny plot that is just the right amount of extraordinary to keep the little ones engaged.

A Child of Books

I am a child of books. 

I come from a world of stories. 

A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy. She invites him to go away with her on an adventure into the world of stories...where, with only a little imaginaton, anything at all can happen.

Irresistibly engaging characters by Oliver Jeffers set sail and chart their way through Sam Winston's fascinating typographical landscapes in this extraordinary ode to the power and promises of storytelling. Forty treasured children's classics and lullabies are featured in the pictures, providing endless opportunities for discovery, memories and sharing.

Woven together by a simple story line, the one-of-a-kind illustrations in a A Child of Books provide an unforgettable reading experience that will inspire and encourage readers of all ages to explore, question, and imagine timeless stories of their own.

I can already see this making the perfect gift for some of my younger cousins, and the idea of incorporating popular classics into the mix makes it appealing to adults as well. Exploring the magic created by words in an inspiring way is just what a good book like this should do.

The Not So Quiet Library

    It’s Saturday, which means Oskar and Theodore get to go to the library with their dad! It means donuts for breakfast! And it means endless quiet hours lost in stories.

    But on this not so quiet Saturday, Oskar and Teddy get a rude surprise when they're interrupted by a five-headed, hangry monster!

    Will Oskar ever get to finish his book in peace? Will Teddy ever get to gorge on his donuts? Or might both of them hold the secret weapons to taming the beast?

    OHora brings his signature humor and quirkiness to a story with evergreen appeal. This laugh-out-loud picture book is perfect for story time.

    The Not So Quiet Library takes an almost old-school approach to illustrations, but still promises to deliver an adorable read set among all the stories anyone could ask for. Released only last year, I've seen it compared to It's a Book by Lane Smith which is another one to add to the list!

    Lucy's Book

    Lucy's Book captures that special connection between a child and their favourite book, as well as celebrating the way sharing stories can bring people together.

    Lucy's mum takes her to the library every Saturday. Lucy loves to read, but there is one special book that she borrows over and over again.

    The book is shared between friends, dropped in the ocean, flown to China and even made into a banana sandwich.


    But what will happen when everyone's favourite book goes missing?

    Some things never change, and as predictably nerdy as it is, going to the library was always an adventure for me. Even as more books are available digitally, nothing compares to picking up a hard copy off the shelf, and I love how Lucy's Book communicates that.

    A few of the picture books I grew up with





    What were some of your bookish childhood favourites?