Book review: The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey

Thursday, September 3, 2020 Permalink

When I first saw The Morbids by Ewa Ramsey I assumed the title reflected something fairly obscure in the way literary fiction sometimes does. It didn’t occur to me it was actually named after people with morbid thoughts. I’m intrigued now, wondering if fatalistic people, or those who assume death is around the corner…. are officially called / nicknamed morbids.

I must admit I love the word morbid and use it far more than I should. I’m not hugely paranoid about death but I certainly used to get on planes or helicopters in obscure dodgy locales (in my previous life in international development) nervously flashforwarding to the ‘Lifetime movie of the week’ about our demise.

Anyway, I digress as I am prone to do. What’s important is whether I liked this book. And yes… I loved it. Really bloody loved it. It’s easily a contender for my favourite book this year.

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five-stars

Book review: Finding Eadie by Caroline Beecham

Sunday, July 5, 2020 Permalink

I realise I harp on about the fact I don’t read historical fiction. I occasionally make exceptions for books written in dual timelines (the then and now), but every so often I seem to accidentally read historical fiction and don’t hate it. In fact I quite enjoy it.

So, although mention of ‘the war’ (I or II) has me heading for the hills this is now the THIRD of Caroline Beecham’s novels I’ve read that’s been set during wartime and each time she has inexplicably lured me in with all sorts of interesting information I didn’t realise I enjoyed learning.

I’ve previously commented on her work being similar to that of Natasha Lester, in that there’s something ‘meaty’ (deep or educational) in her narratives. Beecham’s latest, Finding Eadie, brings readers yet more fascinating fodder about life during wartime. This time it’s centred around publishing, books and reading – which is akin to catnip for me. Though there’s also some insight into the less-palatable subject of ‘baby farming’ – illegal adoption / trafficking of babies.

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four-stars

Book review: The Deceptions by Suzanne Leal

Friday, April 3, 2020 Permalink

I read Suzanne Leal’s The Teacher’s Secret when it was released in 2016. I enjoyed the novel and was particularly interested in the way Leal considered society (in general) via the microcosm of a small town.

Her latest release ponders similar societal issues, though subtly. It’s one that unfolds in two timeframes, during World War II (and immediate aftermath) and the present. Well, 2010 which apparently is a decade ago though doesn’t feel like it.

The thing I like most about Leal’s work and this book in particular, is that she also challenges readers, taking us to dark places and forcing us to consider complex issues. She doesn’t spoon-feed us life lessons or shove ethical and political / societal / cultural dilemmas of today down our throats, but they’re evident nonetheless and impossible not to ponder – perhaps long after we finish reading.

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four-stars

Book review: The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Friday, December 27, 2019 Permalink

I really enjoyed Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things, released in 2015. At the time I suspected the book – which I took fairly literally – was some great metaphor I just didn’t quite understand and it wasn’t until later I noticed others’ reviews labelling it dystopian fiction and I realised I’d been right.

I loved Wood’s writing, which I thought exquisite. I missed her latest release, The Weekend, when it came out but thankfully won a copy recently and probably (now) need to add it (belatedly) to my ‘favourite books for the second half of 2019’ post.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Monday, October 21, 2019 Permalink

I was very excited when Michael Connelly started pairing long-time fan favourite Harry Bosch with newcomer Renee Ballard. It is interesting though as I think Ballard’s character is sufficiently strong and charismatic enough to carry a series on her own. Having said that the pair are perfect foils for each other. Partners but not partners. Officially, anyway. And I like there’s a recognition of what it is the other does well (or not) and a mutual respect continuing to grow between the pair.

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four-stars

Book review: Bruny by Heather Rose

Monday, October 7, 2019 Permalink

I’m fairly sure I should be ashamed of the fact that I only heard of Bruny Island recently so had some vague idea where it was. I’d been contemplating attending a writing festival in Tasmania in Huon Valley and discovered that (nearby) Bruny Island is a popular tourist destination.

So… I’d thankfully I had some idea of the context of the setting of this excellent new novel by Australian author Heather Rose which takes place in the not-too-distant future.

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four-stars

Book review: Silver by Chris Hammer

Monday, September 30, 2019 Permalink

Journalist Chris Hammer’s Scrublands – featuring an investigative journalist looking into the seemingly incomprehensible mass shooting by a priest in a small Australian town – was one of my favourite novels of 2018.

It was (is) beautifully written. I still remember the opening paragraphs and pages and how well Hammer transplants we readers into the small town of Riversend.

I was reminded of that in the opening paragraphs and pages of his latest novel, Silver, as he does that very same thing again. We’re there, with Martin as he returns to his childhood hometown and to his memories.

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four-stars

Book review: Snake Island by Ben Hobson

Thursday, August 29, 2019 Permalink

I was on a bit of a reading hiatus when Snake Island by Ben Hobson was published. I wasn’t exactly sure it was the sort of book I’d enjoy… not specifically being crime fiction or a psychological thriller. However, upon reading, it reminded me a bit of Trent Dalton’s excellent Boy Swallows Universe, though traverses less time and the events probably more tragic and futile.

I’ve read a lot of books set in small Australian towns and am very much looking forward to a session I’m attending at BAD Crime Writer’s Festival in Sydney called Country Noir because there’s something about stories set in rural and regional Australia that effortlessly reflect darkness or foreboding (am thinking of Emily O’Grady, Sofie Laguna and Jane Harper, for example). Generally there’s also a sense of community though here readers are left with a sense of some of the characters living in isolation and despair.

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four-stars