Book review: All our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

Monday, September 28, 2020 Permalink

Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe was one of my favourite books of 2018. Possibly my favourite book. I’ve long been a fan of Dalton’s writing and though I avoid non-fiction, am generally riveted by his pieces in weekend newspapers. Articles or non-fiction essays about seemingly ordinary people and places, made extraordinary through his telling.

Dalton’s second novel, All Our Shimmering Skies is quite different to his first. It’s far more fantastic and mystical. It’s deeper and requires more intellectual translation in many ways. As my taste is fairly prosaic and comprehension very literal I was probably less drawn to the plot. The characters however, are as bewitching as I expected and (again) Dalton’s writing is beyond beautiful.

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four-half-stars

Book review: The Patient by Jasper DeWitt

Tuesday, July 7, 2020 Permalink

It’s been a while between books set in psychiatric facilities. There seemed to be a spate of them for a while. Books about current or former ‘institutions’ featuring some of horrific practices of the past and those remaining today (well, at least in the more sordid settings popping up in crime fiction and thrillers).

The Patient by Jasper DeWitt is written as if a first-hand account (via online forum) by a Ivy League graduate who—for various reasons—accepts a posting at an old and obscure mental health facility in Connecticut.

Our lead Parker uses initials and pseudonyms to talk about a patient and colleagues he comes across at the facility. He’s arrogant and he’s open about—what he believes to be—his superior intelligence and insight. It could make him unlikeable but he also acknowledges this arrogance and is honest in revealing his misjudgements and failings.

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three-stars

Book review: Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates

Saturday, April 18, 2020 Permalink

I’m not sure why but I shy away from historical fiction. Though that’s probably an understatement. If I start reading a blurb and see reference to World Wars I or II or indeed anything pre-20th century I leap away as if it’s coronavirus-laden. I do, however, seem to make an exception for books unfolding in multiple timeframes. (ie. the ‘then’ and the now).

Very weirdly, with Inheritance of Secrets by Sonya Bates I had read THREE books about World War II (including concentration camps and refugees), all within a week or two of each other. Obviously I didn’t plan it that way; it was just a weird coincidence that three Australian books were coming out at once, partially set at the same time.

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four-stars

Book review: Sheerwater by Leah Swann

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 Permalink

I’d not read any of Leah Swann’s books when I picked up her new release Sheerwater, so wasn’t sure what to expect.

But her writing is exquisite. Beautiful, elegant and lyrical. From the first page I was enchanted by the way she wound words together. Smitten.

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four-stars

Book review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

Thursday, February 20, 2020 Permalink

I’ve heard Irish-born Australian-dwelling author Dervla McTiernan speak on a number of occasions, met her briefly and follow her on social media. She’s confirmation of my belief that authors (whose books I enjoy) are always likeable and engaging ‘off’ the page as well as on.

Though I liked her debut, The Ruin (the first in the Cormac Reilly series) I didn’t love it as much as most. Of course it went on to win a million awards so it says something about my judgement!

I actually preferred her second novel, The Scholar, again featuring Cormac. And now that I’ve read her third book in the series, it’s knocked its predecessor of its mantle. The Good Turn, is easily my favourite of the three (to date); so readers need not fear McTiernan has peaked!

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four-stars

Book review: The Lost Summers of Driftwood by Vanessa McCausland

Saturday, December 14, 2019 Permalink

This book by journalist and Sydneysider Vanessa McCausland came as a bit of a surprise. Its cover is beautiful but implied more whimsy than is on offer in the book. Which is a good thing for me as I struggle with ‘lightness’. It’s a hard book to describe in many ways… there are elements of romance, some meaning-of-life navel gazing and certainly some suspense.

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three-half-stars

Book review: The Scholar by Dervla McTiernan

Sunday, February 17, 2019 Permalink

Irish-born Aussie-dwelling Dervla McTiernan’s debut novel, The Ruin, was warmly received last year, winning hearts and accolades.

Her fans will be happy to know that its sequel, The Scholar, most definitely does not disappoint and we pick up with Irish detective Cormac Reilly where we left off.

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four-stars

Book review: Under My Skin by Lisa Unger

Sunday, October 7, 2018 Permalink

There was a moment or two after I started this book that I worried it was one by Lisa Unger I’d already read – one, in fact, I’d heard her introduce at a writers festival I attended in Brisbane in 2008 or so (ed: which I later discovered was Die For You).

I knew I’d read a recent book of hers with a similar name (ed: which I’m now assuming was In The Blood, #blood #skin #whatevs) and wondered if this was a re-release though it seemed different enough that I didn’t remember it in enough detail to have read it before.

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four-stars