Rouda’s talent seems to lie in offering up flawed characters but luring us into their world, so we bond and feel sympathy or empathy before twisting things until we realise we’ve been duped. Often along with other characters we’re following on the journey.
I’ve now shared a few posts promoting controversial debates. Such as global warming and peace in the Middle East. Just kidding. I’ve pondered whether you’re a shoes-inside wearer, like pockets in clothes and think soup is a real meal or not.
And there was the earth-shattering discourse on whether you are a PJs or a nightie kind of person.*
I have plenty more of these dilemmas up my sleeve because, as a keen purveyor of the human condition I tend to
overanalyse ponder whether my thinking and behaviour is normal, or if I am weird and others… not-weird.
The Vacation by John Marrs is a difficult book to write about. It’s certainly an addictive read as I was desperate to see how it ended – or more accurately – how our characters all fared.
In some ways it’s a bit like a Woody Allen-esque movie featuring a series of vignettes with an array of characters, all with their own stories that come together in some unbelievably coincidental way at the end.
Missing memories or amnesiac episodes are always good fodder for crime fiction and thrillers. Particularly when it’s indicated that one of the central characters everyone knows and loves may in fact NOT have always been quite as loveable.
It’s certainly the case in Alafair Burke’s latest book, The Girl She Was. Although it features her popular detective, Ellie Hatcher and references a pivotal point in her life, it’s not actually part of that series; rather it’s a standalone novel so perfect for both fans and newcomers.
This time two years ago we could not have imagined what lay before us. Although there was some chatter about a virus besieging those on the other side of the world, most of us were complacent. The notion of lockdowns, compulsory mask-wearing and daily reports on case numbers beyond our comprehension.
I’d heard good things about The Good Mother by Rae Cairns, which I believe was previously self-published and shortlisted for the prestigious 2021 Ned Kelly Debut Crime Fiction Award.
I was a little worried however. I’m a bit ‘over’ books about motherhood in general… not being a mother myself means I often struggle to relate to the whole there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to protect my kids thing. And then there’s mention of Belfast and the IRA and even though that’s not exactly historical fiction I tend to stay away from anything that delves too deeply into politics or well…. history.
I used to love Jodi Picoult’s books. Some felt a bit obvious or preachy, or perhaps overly spiritual but they were full of emotion yet subtly poignant. However… after some time they became a bit sameish and it felt like I was reading the same story, with different players and themes in a different setting.
Having said that I very much appreciated some of the themes she’s tackled in a nuanced way recently, such as racism in Small Great Things and women’s reproductive rights in A Spark of Light. I felt like her last book, The Book of Two Ways, was a bit of a departure and I’m afraid I put it aside, the detail of Egyptian history and language being too much for me.
Her latest, Wish You Were Here, is a difficult read to describe. You think it’s going to be one thing. But then it’s not. And for a while I really liked where it was heading. But then there’s a change of direction again. It was obviously an important book to her however and Picoult has written a note in the back describing why she felt impassioned to write it.
A ‘memory’ from 2010 popped up in my Facebook feed on the weekend. In it I was commenting on the excellent service we’d had from a Brisbane hospital while my father was having six weeks of radiotherapy.
My mum and dad alternated weeks with my brother and I, and the hospital arranged night visits so we could take them there. My mother was comfortable driving around Brisbane at the time but the hospital is in the inner city and with new tunnels and bypasses it was a bit confusing to reach
I’ve avoided doing a ‘favourite books of the year’ post over the last few years because I’ve noticed increasing numbers of authors commenting on how much they dislike them. I’ve never been an ‘every child wins a prize’ kind of best-of lister and only ever include a few books each year so think I probably offend fewer authors than I would if I had lengthy lists.