It’s taken me a while to get to this post but I finally unearthed my notes this past weekend and found some headspace to process the Problogger Training Event and its many learnings.
You know when a book blurb includes the phrase ‘mesmerising allegorical tale’ that you’re in trouble. If you’re and a literary heathen (like moi) that is.
I was reminded of Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things, which many Aussies were disappointed not to see on the Man Booker Prize long / short list… which I read in my own very logical and literal way; discovering later that it was dystopian fiction with some deep meaning I’d missed completely.
A few years ago I listened to a writer speak about her first book. She was in her early-mid 30s and taken a redundancy from her job in government several years before – which piqued my interest, having done the same.
But she said – although she earned a little income teaching writing and mentoring – it wasn’t enough to live on. She’d had the good fortune to get a publishing contract and an agent, and was working on final edits when she found herself broke.
She decided she’d have to go back to work and started looking at jobs in the field she’d worked before. It was soul-sucking she said… to think about going ‘back’. And then, her mother told her not to do it. Her mother offered to help support her while she continued writing.
I love love LOVED the first book in the Promise Falls series – Broken Promise – by Linwood Barclay. I loved our protagonist and struggling hero, David Harwood and the slightly-strange hometown he returned to.
I eagerly opened the second book (Far From True) on its arrival and was disappointed. Our lead character was relegated to a minor character and there was a new lead (PI Cal Weaver).
Other characters (police detective Barry Duckworth and dodgy businessman and former Mayor Randall Finley) reappeared and the underlying menace remained in the background… taunting us with something we weren’t yet seeing; but the crimes under investigation didn’t really grab my attention. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the novel but was a tad confused. Barclay had introduced so many supposed protagonists and threads that I no longer knew who and what I needed to care about.
And finally, we get to the final and third book in the series, The Twenty-Three.
Another week has flown by and though I should be concerned about this time-hastening phenomenon, I’m just glad I can flush my toilets again. That’s right folks… my water tank pump issues were sorted and I can flush freely. (I thought that was important for you all to know before I continue with my weekly retrospective!)
I realise that sounds kinda strange, but… I follow Rachael on social media and love her words, updates and tweets. I can very much relate to her and think I’d like her if I met her in person.
However… her books have traditionally fallen more into the ‘romance’ genre: one I steer clear of as much as possible. As I do with fantasy, science fiction and non-fiction. And really big L literature, written by Russians with complicated names.
Johns’ latest release, The Art of Keeping Secrets, has been receiving praise from a lot of readers and book bloggers; and, as it sounded like it focused less on the happily-ever-after I decided to dive in. And thank god I did.
I’ve raved a number of times about US blogger Carla Birnberg – who I’ve been following since her MizFit days – and who has inspired a number of my blog posts, including this one.
Yesterday Carla talked about her ‘personal first aid kit’ – an exercise she did with her daughter. The idea behind the kit is that it treats, comforts and heals emotional injuries – just as its better-known counterpart does with the physical kind.
I’m a fan of Val McDermid and was delighted last year with the return of her Tony Hill / Carol Jordan series via the impressive Splinter the Silence.
Her latest, Out of Bounds, features Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie who I vaguely remembered from previous novels. I was slightly concerned that – as I wasn’t a devotee – I might struggle to work out who was who or suffer from backstory ignorance. But it wasn’t the case and I really loved this book.
I knew little about this book going into it. I knew of Melina Marchetta’s young adult fiction – although I haven’t read Saving Francesca, On the Jellicoe Road or Looking for Alibrandi – I’ve certainly heard of them and seen the popular Australian movie based on the latter.
But Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil sounded very different to her past work. It’s targeted at adults, for a start. But it’s also more ‘my’ sort of book if that makes sense: a mystery to be solved; secrets to be uncovered. And it didn’t disappoint on either count.