• Book review: The Schooldays of Jesus by JM Coetzee

    Wednesday, September 28, 2016 Permalink

    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.

    four-stars
  • Book review: The Twenty-Three by Linwood Barclay

    Monday, September 26, 2016 Permalink

    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.

  • Weekly check-in

    Sunday, September 25, 2016 Permalink

    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!)

  • Book review: The Art of Keeping Secrets by Rachael Johns

    Saturday, September 24, 2016 Permalink

    I’ve never read any of Rachael Johns’ novels, yet I included her in a post I wrote earlier this year for US book blogger, Caffeinated Book Reviewer, in which I featured three Australian authors.

    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.

    four-half-stars
  • Book review: Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

    Thursday, September 22, 2016 Permalink

    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.

    four-stars
  • Book review: Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

    Wednesday, September 21, 2016 Permalink

    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.

    four-stars
  • Weekly check-in

    Sunday, September 18, 2016 Permalink

    I’ve been home from my conference for nearly a week now and – in many ways – feel like I’ve achieved little. However… I’m happily ensconced in my own house so everything’s gotta be good, right? #spoileralert: The answer’s “Yes, mostly.”

    Before I share the exciting trials and tribulations of my life, I’ll start with my reading and reviewing.

  • Book review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

    Sunday, September 18, 2016 Permalink

    I’ve only read one previous book by the popular young adult novelist Gayle Forman and was surprised at how much I enjoyed I Was Here. In my review I mention that it touches on a lot of important themes. (As does the book-turned-movie, If I Stay, which I’ve seen but not read.)

    Forman’s latest is her first book for ‘adults’ – to use the publisher’s vernacular – and its theme is certainly targetted at an audience conscious of commitments and responsibilities. Like many of her young adult novels, the notion or threat of death lies at the centre of this novel though it’s probably a little less weighty (theme-wise) than many of her previous books.

    four-stars
  • Book review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

    Thursday, September 15, 2016 Permalink

    I need to confess that I had no idea Sophie Hannah had revitalised Agatha Christie’s famous Belgian detective and his little grey cells until this book appeared on a listing. It was only then I discovered Hannah had previously released The Monogram Murders, featuring Hercule Poirot, in 2014 – almost 40 years after the passing of Dame Agatha.

    I adore Agatha Christie. I’ve read all of her books a million times. At least. Once upon a time I used to call them my bath books as I could read a novel in the bath in an hour. (Which was before I sat in the bath for hours on end reading!)

    three-half-stars