Book review: The Stepdaughter by Debbie Howells

Friday, December 4, 2020 Permalink

The Stepdaughter is the fourth book I’ve read by Debbie Howells and it sat on my iPad for months and months as I’d believed its publication was deferred until next year. (And I only just discovered it wasn’t / isn’t.)

I very much enjoyed Howells’ first psychological thriller, The Bones of You, in particular.

Her latest is another complex story of relationships and of secrets and lies. I should also mention that it features domestic violence and references to child pornography (though no details etc).

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Book review: The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Permalink

The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland arrived wrapped with a gold bow and handwritten note from the author. It was a lovely gesture from Vanessa and Harper Collins and an acknowledgement that 2020 has been pretty shitty for almost everyone and we should grasp any glimmer of light and joy we can get.

I read McCausland’s The Lost Summers of Driftwood last year and enjoyed it though took umbrage at a couple of references to the fact a character in her late 30s must have felt like a failure because she didn’t have a partner or child.

Her new novel similarly traverses women’s fiction – a group of women and the problems in their lives with parenting, relationships and their identities – but with a little suspense thrown in.

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Alexander: Read. Listen. Watch.

Monday, November 30, 2020 Permalink

I returned to University to study (another) Masters mid year. Although I find some of the referencing requirements laborious and confusing and some of the academic-speak a bit wanky, it’s actually aligning with my interests. In a publishing subject for example, we discussed changing technology and its impact on the industry. It seems that good old print books are hanging in there, despite the increase in ebooks but that audiobooks are an area of growth. This, I understand is possibly piggy backing on the popularity of podcasts*.

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Book review: Hideout by Jack Heath

Sunday, November 29, 2020 Permalink

I blame our lack of daylight saving but I’ve been waking early which was my excuse for starting Jack Heath’s latest release Hideout at 5am in the bath accompanied by diet coke (my caffeine of choice) and brownies (the… ahem, breakfast of champions).

As is my habit, before starting a new book in a series I re-read my review of its predecessor. And in my review of the second in the Timothy Blake series, Hunter, I commented that we were left with a cliff-hanger. Annoyingly I don’t include spoilers in my posts which meant I had to get out of the bath and get my copy of Hunter off the shelf to re-read the ending. (Surely risking my neck on wet slippery tiles.)

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Book review: The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

Friday, November 27, 2020 Permalink

I’m not sure why I wasn’t drawn to The Miseducation of Evie Epworth earlier. I’m a sucker for a weird book title. Think, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Not to mention almost everything by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman.

One of my friends loved this debut novel by Matson Taylor but it still took me months to get to it and I am so thankful I did. In fact, although I was keen for something light… a good psychological thriller about some murderous psychopath; from the opening lines of this novel I was transported into Evie’s world. It’s written in first person from 16 year old Evie’s point of view and almost akin to stream-of-consciousness thinking. Taylor gives Evie a really delightful voice and this is a quirky and often-funny read. At the same time however, there are moments of poignancy, some of which come as a result of life experience and realising things young Evie does not.

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Shame versus guilt

Thursday, November 26, 2020 Permalink

Like many I’ve seen Brene Brown’s famous TED talk, watched her Netflix documentary and read a million other things about her shame research.

Despite this I’ve only just realised I’ve been misconstruing what she means by shame.

When I’ve thought of shame I’ve thought of BEING ASHAMED. Not being shamed by others, but feeling that way ourselves, akin to embarrassment. And I’ve not really thought it applied to me. However, I now recognise when I talk about feeling guilty – by her definition, I’m actually talking about feeling shame.

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Book review: White Throat by Sarah Thornton

Monday, November 23, 2020 Permalink

This is the second in the series by Sarah Thornton featuring former lawyer Clementine Jones. We learned in the first outing Lapse, that Jones had been convicted of drink driving and a woman died as a result – although I did think there was perhaps more to that story. She spent a lot of time in the first novel keeping that secret, but it’s not the case here and her history seems to be more accessible.

Lapse was set in Katinga in rural Australia, but this opens with (the elegant) mention of tidal flats and the ocean. Here Jones is housesitting and Thornton certainly offers eloquent imagery of Australia’s coastline. The setting was of interest to me as it’s actually in my back yard… near the Great Sandy Straits, set in the tiny fictional town of Piama. (I assume it’s fictional as I’ve never heard of it.)

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Post hoc fallacy – exercise, fitness and ageing

Monday, November 16, 2020 Permalink

I was going to call this Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc but the title I’ve used is an abbreviation of that. Apparently. It’s a phrase I only know from watching The West Wing. I don’t think it’s actually the right phrase for what I’m trying to say here, but the only other one I can think of is something from the lessons we had at school when computers were first being introduced in the mid 1980s… IF <something> THEN <something else>. Clear as mud?

Which doesn’t bring me to my point which is actually about exercise, fitness and ageing.

I started going to over-50s exercise classes a couple of months ago. My main motivating factor was that they were being held IN MY SUBURB…. or at least the neighbouring one. Small group, low impact, inexpensive. So, perfect.

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Book review: The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes

Saturday, November 14, 2020 Permalink

The Mitford Trial is the fourth in the series by Jessica Fellowes. Each of the books focuses loosely on one of the (in)famous Mitford sisters (of which there were five, as well as a brother). I hadn’t realised when I embarked on the first book in the series, The Mitford Murders that the Mitford family actually existed and that the girls in particular quite well known.

These books are fiction, but based on true events and Fellowes includes historical notes at the end of each book. The Mitford Trial is set over a few years in the early 1930s and we’re edging closer to the second world war. The mystery at the heart of this book very much reflects the involvement of Mitford family members drawn to fascism and communism and their allegiances with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

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