Book review: Dream Girl by Laura Lippman

Friday, June 25, 2021 Permalink

In her latest novel, Dream Girl, Laura Lippman is able to draw on her knowledge and experience of writing and the publishing industry to offer up a fairly blunt insight into the life of an author.

Through her lead character Gerry, she also offers some commentary on ‘cancel culture’. I couldn’t quite decide if she was supportive of society’s current penchant for calling out bad or inappropriate behaviour and prejudices, or slightly cynical about how easily some to use (the notion of) ‘cancel culture’ to dismiss stuff that annoys us or with which we disagree. Either way, Gerry finds himself constantly wondering if he’s able to say something or think something lest he be berated for its inappropriateness. It’s interesting because, as we gain more insight into his character and his background there’s a sense that the ‘he doth protest too much’ thing is actually rather warranted.

three-half-stars

Book review: Snowflake by Louise Nealon

Thursday, June 17, 2021 Permalink

I’d only just hopped in the bath and started to read Snowflake by Louise Nealon when I shared a picture (of the book, not me…) and commented that I didn’t think I was going to be able to put it down until I finished.

Such is the addictive allure of 18 year old Debbie and the world in which she inhabits. Nealon opens by giving us some history into Debbie and her family – her uncle Billy and, to a lesser extent, her mother Maeve. in fact it takes Debbie a while to reflect on childhood events involving her mother and when she does it’s centred around her dreams and her mother’s belief that both she and Debbie have the ability to see other’s dreams.

four-half-stars

Book review: Nancy Business by RWR McDonald

Friday, June 4, 2021 Permalink

Let me just start by saying, when I grow up I want to be 12 year old Tippy Chan. Or at least occupy her world along with her pragmatic mother Helen, her eccentric Uncle Pike and his mostly over-the-top partner (and Tippy’s honorary sissy) Devon.

It’s so easy to get lost in the world RWR McDonald creates, that it seems very real. I feel sad at the thought of leaving them behind each time I turn the last page. Although – in reality – it feels as if it’s I’m the one being left behind.

four-half-stars

Book review: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Friday, May 21, 2021 Permalink

Thankfully I’d read a number of reviews of The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward before I started reading it. It’s clever and well-written and some of the prose is quite magical. But I would have put it down just a few chapters in had I not known that it was worth ‘hanging in’ for.

In all honesty this book is a bit of a mind-f*ck. We know from the beginning that all is not as it seems. Our lead character Ted has (ahem) issues. Another narrator is a cat. Perhaps. It features much f*cked-upedness. But – once you get past the first few chapters it’s oddly compelling.

four-stars

Book review: Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Thursday, May 13, 2021 Permalink

I apologise in advance for the superlatives but I do not know how else to adequately describe how much I loved this book. I’d requested it as it sounded interesting but had I been aware of the astounding beauty of Jacqueline Bublitz’s writing, and how compassionately and poignantly she unfurls Alice’s story I would have devoured it the moment it arrived.

I mentioned recently that books with dead narrators have become a little passé since Alice Sebold’s Lovely Bones was published in 2002. We’re no longer shocked or horrified or even that uncomfortable to be in the head of the recently deceased. Here however Bublitz manages to bring something new via the voice of a teenage girl we meet and then lose far too early. She allows us to spend time with Alice before ripping her out of her world – and though we’re left with the sense of anger, frustration and sadness that everything has been taken from her as she’s on the cusp of happiness – we’re also comforted by her continued presence.

five-stars

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: Something to Hide by Fleur McDonald

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Permalink

Each time I review one of Fleur McDonald’s books featuring Detective Dave Burrows I make some quip about the fact there are two. Series that is. Not Dave Burrowses.

McDonald kicked off the series with a middle-aged Dave, but later took us back in time to the late 1990s and early 2000s to a young (Detective) Dave who was hoping to join the Stock Squad.

I adore both series and am intrigued how the Dave we meet in the past becomes the Dave we meet in the present.

four-stars

Book review: Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson

Sunday, March 28, 2021 Permalink

Every Vow You Break is the fifth book I’ve read by US author Peter Swanson and ever since his debut, The Girl with a Clock for a Heart, he’s offered readers something a little different. A little off-centre.

His latest is no different. In fact he’s written it in a way that the introduction misleads readers completely. I wasn’t quite sure who I should be trusting or believing. In some ways, he offers us an anti-hero who ends up being a bad guy. Like Clark Kent becoming The Joker. Or something.

three-half-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