Book review: The Chain by Adrian McKinty

Sunday, July 7, 2019 Permalink

There is currently a LOT of hype around The Chain by Adrian McKinty. I keep seeing articles on social media about the film rights of a book written by an Uber driver sold for a seven figure sum.

There’s actually an interesting note in the back of this book from McKinty about life as a writer. He’s got his successful Sean Duffy series under his belt but it’s a reminder that many seemingly-successful creatives (authors and the like) don’t actually earn much from their craft. Most have other jobs and alternative sources of income. Which makes me feel a bit grumpy about some idiotic athletes who earn gazillions.

But enough of my ranting. Let’s get down to it cos this standalone by McKinty is (#spoileralert) certainly worth all of the praise it’s getting. I wasn’t sure I was going to be enamoured but I was gobsmacked at how ‘real’ it all felt from the opening lines.

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four-half-stars

Book review: Something to Live For by Richard Roper

Sunday, June 2, 2019 Permalink

Something to Live For by Richard Roper is being billed as ‘the most uplifting and life-affirming debut of the year’. And given it’s about a man whose job it is to visit the homes of recently deceased who have no obvious family / friends, to try to find a single person who knew them or a will (or money to pay for the funeral); it could be very depressing.

But it’s not. It’s a reminder that while there’s crappy stuff happening in the world and… yes, people die alone all of the time, there are still kind and generous people to be found. Not to mention the fact that people live small, rich and happy lives, or sad and loud lives we may know nothing about.

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four-stars

Book review: A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino

Monday, April 29, 2019 Permalink

I’ve read a couple of Nicky Pellegrino’s books, One Summer in Venice and Under Italian Skies, and I enjoyed both. Of course it had long been my dream to travel to Italy. It was my big bucket list item and since reading those books I’ve been able to tick it off my list as I spent just over 3wks in Italy last September / October including a fabulous week at a Tuscan villa.

Pellegrino lived in Italy (and England) before settling in New Zealand and her passion for Italy – its culture and cuisine in particular – shines through in each of her novels.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The French Photographer by Natasha Lester

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 Permalink

I’d had this book for a while before I read it as I’m participating in a blog tour for this latest release by Natasha Lester, The French Photographer. It means I’ve seen a few reviews around, including a negative one in mainstream media which Lester shared just after the book’s publication.

I was surprised by that as this is possibly my favourite book by Lester; although it might be a toss-up between this and A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald, and I think that is because the subject matter is ‘meatier’ than her two more recent novels. (If that makes sense!)

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four-half-stars

Book review: Blood River by Tony Cavanaugh

Sunday, April 21, 2019 Permalink

Queensland’s capital Brisbane is well known for the river that ‘divides’ the city. It provides some lovely vantage points and scenery, but is also a bit of a nightmare for those having to commute ‘across’ one of the few bridges from the south to the city centre / north each day. And then of course there are the ‘once in a one hundred year’ floods. Which… in recent times have been proved statisticians and weather-predicting peeps quite wrong!

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Monday, February 25, 2019 Permalink

I enjoyed Kelly Rimmer’s Before I Let You Go, released last year. At the time I described it as genre-less. In a good way.

The blurb for her latest mentions World War II and the 1940s which had me worried as I’m not a fan of historical fiction. I do however, read books that flick between timeframes, as per Kate Morton and Natasha Lester, which is exactly what The Things We Cannot Say does.

It’s a book in which Rimmer tackles a couple of weighty subjects: WWII and Nazi Germany; as well as complexities associated when parenting children with disabilities and learning difficulties.

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four-stars

Book review: The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

Saturday, February 16, 2019 Permalink

I hadn’t read Esther Campion’s debut novel, Leaving Ocean Road and hadn’t realised there were connections with her latest release when I started reading. It didn’t matter. In fact Campion includes enough backstory to give us some context, but not too much that it’d render reading her first book redundant.

As is so often the case (lately!!!!) I’d misunderstood and thought this was going to be a book about people who come to live at a house for their ‘second chance’ of happiness. I’d envisaged women escaping violent marriages and those who’d overcome a drug addiction. I thought it might have been heavy going, but thankfully it wasn’t that literal and is more about the lives of those involved in planning and renovating the house itself.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village by Joanna Nell

Saturday, October 20, 2018 Permalink

This blurb on the backcover of this likens it to the TV show Grace and Frankie and book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. None of which I’d watched or read, or really found appealing.

That’s not to say I don’t like books about ageing ‘disgracefully’ or the quirks that come with old age. One of my favourite books is one called Elizabeth is Missing, about a woman grappling with dementia, in addition to Fredrik Backman’s books about grumpy old men and women (A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here).

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three-stars

Book review: Bright Young Dead by Jessica Fellowes

Saturday, October 13, 2018 Permalink

Last year I reviewed The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes…. which I described as ‘faction’…. a fictional account of a murder set around real life characters and events.

I’d not heard of the Mitford sisters at the time and was somewhat intrigued.

More interesting though was that the main character wasn’t one of the sisters, but rather their nursery maid or companion, Louisa. And in my review I commented that the Mitford sisters, particularly the elder, Nancy seemed to play a bigger role on the mystery-solving front along with an ambitious young police officer, Guy Sullivan. (And – at the time, as it was billed as #1 – I wondered who might feature in the next book in the series….)

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three-half-stars