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

Book review: The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald

Thursday, March 4, 2021 Permalink

I was surprisingly devastated by the events that open The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald. The author sets them up well and they trigger everything that comes after. I was worried however, that what did come next would be predictable: a cynical and distrustful woman driven mad by guilt and sadness and committing vengeful acts as a result.

Thankfully however, the book wasn’t at all like that. The two leads Oswald gives us are fabulously nuanced. And fears I had regarding ‘the family doctor’, GP Paula, being overly obsessed and paranoid were unfounded.(TW: domestic and family violence)

four-stars

Book review: Girl A by Abigail Dean

Friday, January 15, 2021 Permalink

There’s been a bit of buzz around Girl A by Abigail Dean. That can be both a good and bad thing. I read it earlier than planned as I was excited about it, but at the same time I probably had heightened expectations as a result.

For much of this book I wasn’t sure if I was reading about a cult, or about kidnapped children. Dean keeps it pretty vague for a while and readers are on edge, recognising that we don’t have the full story. Waiting for more.

three-half-stars

Book review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Tuesday, January 5, 2021 Permalink

I’d completely misunderstood the blurb for The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean. I assumed it to be one of those kidnap victim sagas about someone abducted and held for many years (like Room and many books since). And it kinda is. But’s also about the far weightier and fraught topic of human trafficking, or at least its aftermath and its repercussions.

four-stars

Book review: Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

Wednesday, December 23, 2020 Permalink

When Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart won the 2020 Man Booker Prize I’d not heard of it. That (on the other hand) is not unheard of because I rarely read books featured on international literary prize lists. It was made more memorable for me because I joked that Stuart reminded me very much of Australian (dislodged from NZ) author RWR McDonald and we joked about it on Twitter.

I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy Shuggie Bain. I’m not a fan of weighty sagas about poverty and the plight of the working man. Particularly in that bleak bread, dripping and beer after a day of toiling in the mines way.

And initially I struggled a little with Shuggie. Well, not Shuggie himself but the book. There was no doubt however, it’s brilliantly written. But Shuggie’s story grew on me and Stuart’s writing enchanted me.

four-half-stars

Book review: Contacts by Mark Watson

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Permalink

Contacts by Mark Watson is going to be hard to review because though I enjoyed it – to an extent – my main issue with it is the content (underlining premise) itself. I can’t decide whether I think it’s ill-conceived, irresponsible and totally inappropriate or perhaps cathartic or helpful.

Either way it needs a big trigger warning as the entire book is about someone planning to suicide and how they got to that point.

three-stars