Life lately – an April 2021 check-in

Monday, April 12, 2021 Permalink

I’ve been extremely slack on the personal blogging front of late. I’ve even struggled to get book reviews done and several have wallowed in my website drafts folder for far longer than usual.

My thoughts are weighty at the moment and it’s been easier to keep them firmly locked inside my mind. It’s probably not healthy but I’ve rehashed the good ol’ life purpose / meaning of life / direction I want my life to take thing again and again here, so will save you from that angst. Instead I’ll do a light check-in post… just to get my out of my blogging slump.

Book review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Friday, April 9, 2021 Permalink

One of the biggest problems with a book getting rave reviews or media attention is that readers’ expectations are heightened. That was certainly the case for me going into Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. In fact there’s a glowing quote by Stephen King on the front cover and I’ve seen him praise it elsewhere.

Of course one of his novellas, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, features prominently in this book, but I don’t think he’d be that easily cajoled.

three-half-stars

Book review: Escape to Curlew Cottage by Joanne Tracey

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 Permalink

I’m always nervous when I read a book by someone I know. Let alone someone I see as a friend. Thankfully every time I read one of Joanne Tracey’s books I come away a little agog – that someone I know could create something like this. Something magical. Something that makes me care. And something that makes me cry.

Escape to Curlew Cottage is loosely linked to Wish You Were Here, which I read in 2016. I spent much of last year in my self-absorbed little bubble so missed two books Tracey released in 2020, but her warm style of writing, her development of very real and likeable characters and yarn-spinning ability was exactly as I remembered. Although I didn’t remember that until I started reading…. if you know what I mean.

four-stars

Book review: The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana

Monday, April 5, 2021 Permalink

The Hiding Place is the third novel I’ve read by Jenny Quintana. Looking at my ratings and reviews, my appreciation of her books is pretty consistent. I enjoy them and usually read them in a sitting.

I notice I’ve commented before on the pacing or found their conclusions unsatisfying however, and it was the same here.

It was only when I was in bed after I’d finished reading, that certain factors played on my mind. If you’ve read the book you might also have wondered about Connie’s luggage including the letter from her lover. Why did Quintana make the current tenant of flat one so elusive and felt like an unfollowed thread? And why did Marina try to talk to everyone but Mrs Hyde?

Of course the fact I was pondering it hours after closing the book is probably also a good thing.

three-half-stars

Book review: Love Objects by Emily Maguire

Saturday, April 3, 2021 Permalink

Somehow I missed Emily Maguire’s popular and critically acclaimed An Isolated Incident so I was excited to receive her latest novel, Love Objects, for review. I realised as soon as I started reading that I wasn’t familiar with her writing. Her sentences are long, almost verbose*. And perhaps because of this, her prose is lyrical and quite lovely.

Very weirdly it was the second book I’d read about a hoarder in a couple of weeks. I’m not sure if the focus on minimalism has shone the light on its polar opposite or whether hoarder reality TV shows have inspired authors.

four-stars

Book review: A Gambling Man by David Baldacci

Friday, April 2, 2021 Permalink

I wasn’t a fan of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series* but have loved almost everything he’s published since. Indeed, his books take up quite a bit of real estate on my bookshelves. I particularly love his Amos Decker and Atlee Pine series but somehow I missed the first in his new historical crime fiction series featuring ex-con Aloysius Archer.

And I enjoyed this so much I’m going to be hunting down its predecessor, One Good Deed.

four-stars

Covid contact tracing – a glimpse into the lives of others

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Permalink

We’ve been really lucky here in Australia as we’ve had very few cases of the Coronavirus and our state governments, in particular, have gotten onto any COVID cases or ‘outbreaks’ (as we call them with some good ol’ Aussie exaggeration) very quickly. The latest in my state of Queensland – four community contracted cases announced yesterday – resulted in a lockdown of our state’s capital and increased distancing requirements throughout the rest of the Queensland while contact tracing goes ahead.

Because our cases have been pretty sporadic, details involving most individual cases are lapped up by the media. I’m conscious that wouldn’t happen if we had hundreds or thousands of cases but just a few means that our health departments and media outlets diligently share the movements of those testing positive.

Book review: Something to Hide by Fleur McDonald

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Permalink

Each time I review one of Fleur McDonald’s books featuring Detective Dave Burrows I make some quip about the fact there are two. Series that is. Not Dave Burrowses.

McDonald kicked off the series with a middle-aged Dave, but later took us back in time to the late 1990s and early 2000s to a young (Detective) Dave who was hoping to join the Stock Squad.

I adore both series and am intrigued how the Dave we meet in the past becomes the Dave we meet in the present.

four-stars

Book review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Sunday, March 28, 2021 Permalink

Every Vow You Break is the fifth book I’ve read by US author Peter Swanson and ever since his debut, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, he’s offered readers something a little different. A little off-centre.

His latest is no different. In fact he’s written it in a way that the introduction misleads readers completely. I wasn’t quite sure who I should be trusting or believing. In some ways, he offers us an anti-hero who ends up being a bad guy. Like Clark Kent becoming The Joker. Or something.

three-half-stars