Book review: All our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

Monday, September 28, 2020 Permalink

Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was one of my favourite books of 2018. Possibly my favourite book. I’ve long been a fan of Dalton’s writing and though I avoid non-fiction, am generally riveted by his pieces in weekend newspapers. Articles or non-fiction essays about seemingly ordinary people and places, made extraordinary through his telling.

Dalton’s second novel, All Our Shimmering Skies is quite different to his first. It’s far more fantastic and mystical. It’s deeper and requires more intellectual translation in many ways. As my taste is fairly prosaic and comprehension very literal I was probably less drawn to the plot. The characters however, are as bewitching as I expected and (again) Dalton’s writing is beyond beautiful.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

Thursday, September 24, 2020 Permalink

I’ve actually just written an assignment for my Masters about Australian crime fiction and mentioned Jane Harper’s debut novel, The Dry and the rise and rise of rural or outback noir. Released in 2016 The Dry won much acclaim and a lotta love. It’s since been adapted for television and will hit our screens in 2021. And though I’m looking forward to it, I much preferred Harper’s 2019 standalone novel, The Lost Man.

Although her fourth book, The Survivors, has a different feel to Harper’s previous books, it occurred to me there’s a strong theme underpinning all of her novels (including the two Aaron Falk ‘detective-based’ books). It’s one of families, of childhood and long-past legacies, and the impact they continue to have many years later.

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four-stars

Book review: Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 Permalink

I read Kimberly Belle’s Dear Wife just months ago. When I read the blurb for her new release Stranger in the Lake it made me worry a little about her take on marriage as both featured missing, murdered and fearful wives.

Interestingly I was a little torn as I read this. Though I enjoyed the book overall, the things I liked about the book and our characters in the beginning ended up being the things that ultimately frustrated me.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Good Teacher By Petronella McGovern

Monday, September 14, 2020 Permalink

I very much enjoyed Petronella McGovern’s Six Minutes when it was published in 2019. It’s currently up for Ned Kelly and Davitt Awards, which are well deserved. And timely… as McGovern’s second book, The Good Teacher has recently been released.

I’d misunderstood this book to be about a well-meaning teacher erroneously accused of something horrendous and having to fight to clear their name… which felt like it’d been done before. But this book is not ‘that’ and includes a range of weighty but deftly-delivered themes.

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four-stars

Revisiting my life in Africa

Friday, September 11, 2020 Permalink

One of my University subjects requires me to write a personal essay. All three subjects actually require ‘major’ assignments and I keep changing my mind about them. But drafts of two are now due in mere days, so I figure I need to stop friggin’ procrastinating and worrying that I’ve not chosen the perfect topic and just start writing.

I (eventually) decided my personal essay would be about my time in Africa. Long-time readers of my blog will recall I’ve often pondered the idea of writing some sort of factional account of my 18mths (or so) there in the mid 1990s.

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Book review: Shadows In Death by JD Robb

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 Permalink

Shadows In Death is the 51st in the futuristic cop series by JD Robb. So, author Nora Roberts (writing as Robb) is obviously doing something right. The series kicked off in 1995 but—as I’ve mentioned before—our characters traverse time slowly so, Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire hubby really only exist when we’re there to see them. Just like Santa Claus. Except the opposite.

Here, Robb offers us something a little different. The ‘crime’ in question happens early, which isn’t uncommon. But usually we would spend the rest of the novel trying to work out whodunnit. Here Eve and her offsider, the delightful Detective Delia Peabody solve this pretty quickly. It’s murder for hire but things get complicated when Roarke’s (kinda sordid and unlawful) past comes back to haunt him (and those he cares about).

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Saturday, September 5, 2020 Permalink

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman came as a huge surprise. I’d requested it thinking it sounded a bit quirky but at the same time unsure I wanted to hang with a bunch of old people talking murders.

But it’s addictive. It’s cleverly-written, extremely funny and offers up some delightful characters. It reminded me of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Britt-Marie was Here and The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village. With a side or two of murder thrown in for good measure.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey

Thursday, September 3, 2020 Permalink

When I first saw The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey I assumed the title reflected something fairly obscure in the way literary fiction sometimes does. It didn’t occur to me it was actually named after people with morbid thoughts. I’m intrigued now, wondering if fatalistic people, or those who assume death is around the corner…. are officially called / nicknamed morbids.

I must admit I love the word morbid and use it far more than I should. I’m not hugely paranoid about death but I certainly used to get on planes or helicopters in obscure dodgy locales (in my previous life in international development) nervously flashforwarding to the ‘Lifetime movie of the week’ about our demise.

Anyway, I digress as I am prone to do. What’s important is whether I liked this book. And yes… I loved it. Really bloody loved it. It’s easily a contender for my favourite book this year.

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five-stars

Book review: House of Correction by Nicci French

Tuesday, September 1, 2020 Permalink

House of Correction by Nicci French is the latest standalone by the married couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. It’s an interesting book. I initially engaged with our lead Tabitha though was a little baffled by her naiveté about her predicament (ie. in jail on remand but assuming ‘the truth will set her free’). Then we see a side of her that had me realising she was perhaps not entirely a nice person. And – though I can cope with unreliable or unlikeable narrators if they’re psychopaths or sociopaths, I wasn’t sure I’d cope with one who was just a bitch.

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three-half-stars