Book review: Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone

Friday, April 9, 2021 Permalink

One of the biggest problems with a book getting rave reviews or media attention is that readers’ expectations are heightened. That was certainly the case for me going into Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. In fact there’s a glowing quote by Stephen King on the front cover and I’ve seen him praise it elsewhere.

Of course one of his novellas, Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, features prominently in this book, but I don’t think he’d be that easily cajoled.

three-half-stars

Book review: Driving Stevie Fracasso by Barry Divola

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 Permalink

There was a lot I liked about Driving Stevie Fracasso by Australian journalist Barry Divola. I was for example, reminded of my fetish for the movie (and soundtrack) Eddie & the Cruisers (and its dodgy sequel), released in the 1980s – though I didn’t watch until sometime in the 90s.

Divola’s lead character Rick is a bit older than me, however he references an era I remember well and this brought back many memories.

This book is probably a little too densely populated with music trivia and detail for me (a music-heathen) but I enjoyed the underlying messages about family, relationships and change. The latter in particular being relevant for me at the moment as my own worst enemy.

three-half-stars

Book review: Other People’s Houses by by Kelli Hawkins

Saturday, March 6, 2021 Permalink

Other People’s Houses by by Kelli Hawkins is an intriguing and bittersweet tale of loss, grief and obsession. It could be akin to breakdown porn as readers get a front-row seat to the disintegration of someone’s mental health. However Hawkins handles lead character Kate with respect and sensitivity. This book is being compared to Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train and I suspect it’s due to the similarities between Kate and TGOTT’s Rachel. Not only are both heavy drinkers, but they indulge in risky and obsessive behaviour… even though they know better. Both authors however, treat their leads sympathetically.

four-stars

Book review: The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Sunday, February 28, 2021 Permalink

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson has described by many as featuring a murderer to rival everyone’s favourite 1990s serial killer and general-bad-guy Hannibal Lecter.

“Oh, so it’ll be gruesome,” I thought and prepared myself. I don’t like (read or watch ) horror and was worried it might border on that genre, but it was fine. Grisly on occasions and Matheson isn’t shy about going into detail about severed body parts and the like, but I’m not very visual so it wasn’t something that would give me nightmares.

four-stars

Book review: Find You First by Linwood Barclay

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Permalink

It has to be said there’s a lot to like about Find You First by Linwood Barclay. I enjoyed the element of suspense but found the character development to be particularly interesting, becoming far more attached to some than is sensible in a thriller.

I read a media release, or perhaps a comment by Stephen King, noting this book opens with a bang and it certainly does. And the pace pretty much keeps going until it’s done. I’ve read most if not all of Barclay’s books and this is probably fairly close to being a favourite.

four-half-stars

Book review: Girl A by Abigail Dean

Friday, January 15, 2021 Permalink

There’s been a bit of buzz around Girl A by Abigail Dean. That can be both a good and bad thing. I read it earlier than planned as I was excited about it, but at the same time I probably had heightened expectations as a result.

For much of this book I wasn’t sure if I was reading about a cult, or about kidnapped children. Dean keeps it pretty vague for a while and readers are on edge, recognising that we don’t have the full story. Waiting for more.

three-half-stars

Book review: Contacts by Mark Watson

Wednesday, December 16, 2020 Permalink

Contacts by Mark Watson is going to be hard to review because though I enjoyed it – to an extent – my main issue with it is the content (underlining premise) itself. I can’t decide whether I think it’s ill-conceived, irresponsible and totally inappropriate or perhaps cathartic or helpful.

Either way it needs a big trigger warning as the entire book is about someone planning to suicide and how they got to that point.

three-stars

Book review: The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland

Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Permalink

The Valley of Lost Stories by Vanessa McCausland arrived wrapped with a gold bow and handwritten note from the author. It was a lovely gesture from Vanessa and Harper Collins and an acknowledgement that 2020 has been pretty shitty for almost everyone and we should grasp any glimmer of light and joy we can get.

I read McCausland’s The Lost Summers of Driftwood last year and enjoyed it though took umbrage at a couple of references to the fact a character in her late 30s must have felt like a failure because she didn’t have a partner or child.

Her new novel similarly traverses women’s fiction – a group of women and the problems in their lives with parenting, relationships and their identities – but with a little suspense thrown in.

four-stars