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 Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

Thursday, August 20, 2020 Permalink

I’ve talked before about discovering Agatha Christie in my teens. I snapped up faded copies of her books from second hand stores when home from University and devoured them. They’re books I’ve kept and—when I had hour-long* baths—were the perfect bath-reading fodder as I could easily read the exploits of Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot in a sitting.

I was excited when it was announced that Sophie Hannah would be reviving Poirot. The Killings at Kingfisher Hill is the fourth book following Poirot’s resurrection. I commented in my review of Closed Casket that Hannah has a different style to Christie… the books are much longer, the crimes more complex and Poirot feels more verbose but it’s wonderful to be reunited.

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three-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: The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 Permalink

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter is the tenth in the series featuring Will Trent, and though I’d say I’m a Slaughter devotee I somehow missed the last one or two.

Interestingly, for long term fans… this could almost be badged as a Grant County book as Jeffrey Tolliver, the (former) Chief of Grant County Police and headliner of that series (along with Sara Linton) features prominently. Which could be perplexing if you’ve read all of those books.

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four-stars

Book review: The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser

Thursday, May 28, 2020 Permalink

This book is garnering a lot of praise and it’s deserved. It’s bloody exciting. Heart-in-mouth pacing. The action does not stop.

I recently watched the new Chris Hemsworth movie, Extraction on Netflix. At the time I commented that it felt like one long action sequence. I’m someone who normally fast-forwards car chases and fight scenes… waiting for the dialogue to recommence. That didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the movie. I did, but it was what it was.

I felt the same about The Hunted by Gabriel Bergmoser. It is almost one long action-packed scene. It wasn’t until later I discovered the author is also a scriptwriter and a film based on the book is already under development. The Hunted is certainly a very visceral experience. So perhaps he visualised the entire thing, as if an action-sequence.

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three-half-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: Strangers by CL Taylor

Sunday, April 5, 2020 Permalink

I read Cally (CL) Taylor’s Sleep last year and enjoyed the Agatha Christie-esque whodunnit.

In that book Taylor offered us several narrators and she does the same in her newest release, Strangers.

I loved the way Taylor introduces each of the three lead characters as we slowly and steadily build a relationship with each. She offers up a circular plot structure; so we start at (or near) the end before going back in time as the story unfolds from the viewpoints of the three leads in the previous week.

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four-stars

Book review: The End of Cuthbert Close by Cassie Hamer

Friday, March 27, 2020 Permalink

I very much enjoyed Cassie Hamer’s debut novel, After The Party. I followed her via Twitter before she was published so we’d sort of circled each other virtually for some time. She seemed like the sort of person I’d like IRL… if you know what I mean? You often get an idea of what someone might be like through their interactions with you and others even if you’ve not met them in person.

And Hamer’s accessible, familiar and easy prose in After The Party only cemented that feeling for me.

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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