Book review: The Others by Mark Brandi

Sunday, July 4, 2021 Permalink

If I understood the genesis of the term waxing lyrical (and wasn’t too lazy to google it) I would say I would be doing just that about The Others by Mark Brandi. Because I adored this book.

Brandi’s given us an amazing narrator in 11 year old Jacob and I do have a penchant for books written from a child’s point-of-view. It has to be done well though because their voice can very easily seem off. It can hard to capture innocence and naiveté of the young, when some – like Jacob – have good cause not to be.

five-stars

Book review: Snowflake by Louise Nealon

Thursday, June 17, 2021 Permalink

I’d only just hopped in the bath and started to read Snowflake by Louise Nealon when I shared a picture (of the book, not me…) and commented that I didn’t think I was going to be able to put it down until I finished.

Such is the addictive allure of 18 year old Debbie and the world in which she inhabits. Nealon opens by giving us some history into Debbie and her family – her uncle Billy and, to a lesser extent, her mother Maeve. in fact it takes Debbie a while to reflect on childhood events involving her mother and when she does it’s centred around her dreams and her mother’s belief that both she and Debbie have the ability to see other’s dreams.

four-half-stars

Book review: Nancy Business by RWR McDonald

Friday, June 4, 2021 Permalink

Let me just start by saying, when I grow up I want to be 12 year old Tippy Chan. Or at least occupy her world along with her pragmatic mother Helen, her eccentric Uncle Pike and his mostly over-the-top partner (and Tippy’s honorary sissy) Devon.

It’s so easy to get lost in the world RWR McDonald creates, that it seems very real. I feel sad at the thought of leaving them behind each time I turn the last page. Although – in reality – it feels as if it’s I’m the one being left behind.

four-half-stars

Book review: The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock

Wednesday, June 2, 2021 Permalink

The Other Side of Beautiful by Kim Lock was a delightful surprise. I particularly liked its lead, Mercy Blain. She’s in her mid thirties and well-established in her life and career, so relatable for me.

I’m loving the current trend of ‘normalising’ characters with quirks, phobias or mental health issues. Once upon a time it felt like they (we) were portrayed as victims or case-studies. Now their (our) idiosyncrasies and issues are merely part of who they (we) are. I commented in my recent review of Love Objects that I appreciated that the author, Emily Maguire, didn’t feel the need to rid her lead character of some of her obsessive (yet comforting-to-her) tendencies.

Here Mercy has become an agoraphobic – the result of a trifecta of things going badly in her life two years earlier. She’s barely left her house since but forced to do so when it burns down.

four-half-stars

Book review: How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns

Sunday, May 9, 2021 Permalink

There’s often a bit of a discussion online in relation to the use of ‘women’s fiction’ to group books that mostly target female readers. I’ve got a long-buried post about the weirdness of it, given that we don’t say ‘men’s fiction’. And quite frankly I’d be insulted if many of my favourite crime fiction novels or thrillers were labelled thus. In some ways I’m torn about the issue*. I know some male readers and reviewers who do read books predominantly about women and women’s issues but at the same time recognise books like How to Mend a Broken Heart by Rachael Johns predominantly target female readers.

And here Johns offers us two leads for the price of one, with her latest novel centred equally around a mother and daughter at very different stages of their lives. She also introduces an older woman, who I very much enjoyed meeting.

four-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 Crooked Tree by Una Mannion

Sunday, March 14, 2021 Permalink

I read A Crooked Tree by Una Mannion in a sitting and certainly enjoyed it. I am however, unsure how to describe it. I’m not a big ‘labeller’ of books. Or anything really. So I don’t mind that I find it hard to decide on this book’s ‘genre’, but I suspect I’m even going to struggle to explain what this novel is about.

The events of the book’s opening are—in many ways—the start of everything that comes after, but it feels as if the genesis of this story comes long before that. Mannion gives us glimpses into the Gallagher family’s history but I felt like something was missing. That a piece of the puzzle left unsaid or unexplained meant I entered the story too late and was playing catch-up.

three-half-stars

Book review: Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

Thursday, March 11, 2021 Permalink

Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray is being compared to Gail Honeyman’s popular 2017 novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I’d also suggest similarities to The Truth and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris and The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

The likeness—I suspect—is drawn because the lead character Amy is quirky. And rather prickly. She’s a hoarder and her life has become so focused on her accumulation of things that she’s retreated into herself and her home, and adept pushing people away.

four-stars

Book review: Driving Stevie Fracasso by Barry Divola

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 Permalink

There was a lot I liked about Driving Stevie Fracasso by Australian journalist Barry Divola. I was for example, reminded of my fetish for the movie (and soundtrack) Eddie & the Cruisers (and its dodgy sequel), released in the 1980s – though I didn’t watch until sometime in the 90s.

Divola’s lead character Rick is a bit older than me, however he references an era I remember well and this brought back many memories.

This book is probably a little too densely populated with music trivia and detail for me (a music-heathen) but I enjoyed the underlying messages about family, relationships and change. The latter in particular being relevant for me at the moment as my own worst enemy.

three-half-stars