Book review: Electric and Mad and Brave by Tom Pitts

Saturday, August 20, 2022 Permalink

There was a lot I liked about Electric and Mad and Brave by Tom Pitts. I’m tempted to say it’s a bit of a departure from my usual crime fiction and thriller reading, but in all honesty a lot of my favourite books are general or literary fiction, so I probably need to stop with the ‘I only read crime fiction’ mantra.

I very much liked our lead Matt, who’s in a mental health in-patient facility. We learn it’s his third time and as a result it probably doesn’t need to be said, but nevertheless this book comes with a big trigger warning relating to mental illness and self-harm.

three-half-stars

Book review: Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Saturday, July 9, 2022 Permalink

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the first book I’ve read by the popular American author. I’d heard A LOT about Daisy Jones and the Six. I didn’t get a copy for review and haven’t bought it, though not sure why given I’ve only heard consistently good things about it.

And if it’s anything like Carrie Soto is Back, then I’m sure I’ll be hooked as I was with this upcoming release. I adored everything about this book and the things I didn’t adore I realise I wasn’t supposed to. My frustrations were with Carrie and they were lessons Carrie herself needed to learn and we got to tag along for the journey.

four-half-stars

Book review: The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Tuesday, June 7, 2022 Permalink

I ADORED Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley giving it a rare 4.5 stars. It was astoundingly clever and such a delight. Rowley wrote with humour and sensitivity and – though not a dog / animal lover – I was completely enchanted by Ted the human and Lily the dachshund. (And, sadly… the octopus that ‘consumed’ her.)

I leapt at the chance to read The Guncle. The blurb had me wondering if it’d be like RWR McDonald’s wonderful ‘The Nancys’ series… featuring Uncle Pike and his partner Devon… albeit without the whodunnit.

four-stars

Book review: The Family String by Denise Picton

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 Permalink

I LOVE books written from a child’s point-of-view. It can be hard for writers to nail the voice without it sounding contrived, but if it’s done well it offers an opportunity for a story to be delivered without much of the nuance we usually get from a narrator who – whether they mean to or not – adds a layer of subjectivity.

Some of my favourite books are those ‘told’ by children, such as Lost & Found by Brooke Davis, Allegra in Three Parts by Suzanne Daniel, The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna, The Yellow House by Emily O’Grady,  Room by Emma Donahue, as well as everything I’ve read by Favel Parrett. And (not-so-coincidentally) I notice the media release for this references the two books first on my list.

The events of The Family String by Denise Picton are relayed to us by not-always adorable though desperately likeable, 12 year old Dorcas.

five-stars

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