Book review: Here Goes Nothing by Steve Tolz

Sunday, May 8, 2022 Permalink

I don’t read much satire. I like humorous books, but usually tend to gravitate to those written in first person by someone who’s self-deprecating or where the narrative voice is snarky or sarcastic. Here Goes Nothing by Steve Tolz was a different kind of read for me. If pressed I’d describe the humour as ‘arch’ rather than funny, though note others have found it hilarious.

In fact… I’m not sure I enjoyed it. (As such.) But I must concede it’s good nonetheless. (And yes, I do think it’s possible to know/think a book is good without liking it.) It’s exceedingly clever and confronting. In terms of social commentary it reminded me of some of my recent reads by Inga Simpson, Sarah Foster and Mitch Albom.

four-stars

Book review: The Way from Here by Jane Cockram

Saturday, April 16, 2022 Permalink

The Way from Here by Jane Cockram divided some of my friends. I have one who loved it and one who didn’t really enjoy it at all. Sadly I’m probably closer to the latter. It dragged a little for me. I suspect the fact that the early stages of the plot were a bit all over the place, were supposed to reflect the state of mind of 19 year old Susie… pursuing one guy, then another when that didn’t work.

But it felt a bit scattergun. I wondered if Cockram was a ‘panster’ (writing by the seat of her pants) and letting the book take her where it wanted – unsure what story she wanted to tell or what sort of book it was to be. Things become clearer and the pace picks up, but not really without becoming overly-complex at the same time.

two-half-stars

Book review: No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak

Thursday, April 14, 2022 Permalink

No Hard Feelings by Genevieve Novak reminded me very much of another book I read recently – Love and Other Puzzles by Kimberley Allsopp. (And I note that Allsopp has provided a cover quote for this book.)

I particularly enjoyed that both weren’t about exceptionally talented women… you know, the kind authors sometimes assume women aspire to be. But nor were they about completely dysfunctional or unreliable narrators. In fact, both lead characters are somewhere in between. And perhaps that makes them more relatable. They don’t have their shit together despite having reached adulthood. Instead they’re wading through the waters of life trying to reach the solid ground society seems to expect of them.

four-stars

Book review: Remember Me by Charity Norman

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 Permalink

Remember Me by Charity Norman is the second novel I’ve read by the New Zealand author. It’s centred around Emily, a woman in her 40s, who’s returned to NZ to look after her father who has dementia. In the background lurks the mystery of a young woman who disappeared twenty-five years earlier, setting off to hike an area she knew well, but never returning.

This is more intriguing than edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. Leah’s disappearance casts a shadow over their small town and but also over Emily’s relationship with her father as she unearths secrets hidden for over two decades.

four-stars

Book review: Loveland by Robert Lukins

Wednesday, March 2, 2022 Permalink

Loveland is the first book I’ve read by Robert Lukins so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Something terribly literary or esoteric I suspect as I know he writes for a number of literary magazines and journals here in Australia.

As it happened I did not flounder about in a state of bewildered confusion. I absolutely adore/d Lukins’s writing. His ability to craft phrases and sentences in a way that they offer so much more than what’s on the page is extraordinary. And far from an unfathomable metaphor I was unable to unravel, Loveland is a very enjoyable novel. About real people and only on a couple of occasions and at the very end did it dip into something possibly beyond my very literal comprehension.

four-half-stars

Book review: The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe

Friday, February 25, 2022 Permalink

I usually try to avoid books featuring warring parents (both the intra and extra-familial kind). As a non-parent myself, novels featuring yummy mummies or daddies or parents trying to outdo each other; those where the parenting skills of others are judged; and even discussions about the way children are parented make my eyes glaze over.

It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy these books but it means I’m less likely to engage with the characters, though I realise they’re excellent bookclub fodder for groups of school mums and the like. They are – of course – of more interest if they feature something dire… like a disappearance or a murder, which The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe does.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Very Last List of Vivian Walker by Megan Albany

Tuesday, February 22, 2022 Permalink

The Very Last List of Vivian Walker by Megan Albany involved a lot of sniggering. Which is kinda weird given it’s about a woman who’s terminally ill with cancer with just months (or less) to live.

But it’s the no-holds barred approach to death and dying Albany – via Vivian – that’s both shocking and smile-inducing. Albany’s writing is sassy and chock-full of snark rather than poignancy. It’s all delivered through Vivian’s voice. And Vivian’s dry sense of humour is certainly a blessing because…. well… (hmmm…. how to put this?) she’s actually a bit of a bitch.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Cane by Maryrose Cuskelly

Saturday, February 19, 2022 Permalink

The Cane by Maryrose Cuskelly was an unexpected delight. Not because I didn’t think it would offer up a great mystery… which it did. Indeed it’s wonderfully atmospheric. Rural noir at its most noir-ish.

What enchanted me the most was the nostalgia this book brought with it. The blurb mentions the 1970s but I assumed it was going to be set in the present with some reflections on the past, when in fact… all of it is set in the 1970s and – as someone born at the end of the 1960s so in my formative years over the next decade or so – this brought back soooo many memories and Cuskelly effortlessly took me back to my childhood again and again.

four-stars