• Alexander: Read. Listen. Watch.

    Monday, November 30, 2020 Permalink

    I returned to University to study (another) Masters mid year. Although I find some of the referencing requirements laborious and confusing and some of the academic-speak a bit wanky, it’s actually aligning with my interests. In a publishing subject for example, we discussed changing technology and its impact on the industry. It seems that good old print books are hanging in there, despite the increase in ebooks but that audiobooks are an area of growth. This, I understand is possibly piggy backing on the popularity of podcasts*.

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  • Book review: Hideout by Jack Heath

    Sunday, November 29, 2020 Permalink

    I blame our lack of daylight saving but I’ve been waking early which was my excuse for starting Jack Heath’s latest release Hideout at 5am in the bath accompanied by diet coke (my caffeine of choice) and brownies (the… ahem, breakfast of champions).

    As is my habit, before starting a new book in a series I re-read my review of its predecessor. And in my review of the second in the Timothy Blake series, Hunter, I commented that we were left with a cliff-hanger. Annoyingly I don’t include spoilers in my posts which meant I had to get out of the bath and get my copy of Hunter off the shelf to re-read the ending. (Surely risking my neck on wet slippery tiles.)

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    four-half-stars
  • Book review: The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor

    Friday, November 27, 2020 Permalink

    I’m not sure why I wasn’t drawn to The Miseducation of Evie Epworth earlier. I’m a sucker for a weird book title. Think, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, The Truths and Triumphs of Grace Atherton and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Not to mention almost everything by Swedish writer Fredrik Backman.

    One of my friends loved this debut novel by Matson Taylor but it still took me months to get to it and I am so thankful I did. In fact, although I was keen for something light… a good psychological thriller about some murderous psychopath; from the opening lines of this novel I was transported into Evie’s world. It’s written in first person from 16 year old Evie’s point of view and almost akin to stream-of-consciousness thinking. Taylor gives Evie a really delightful voice and this is a quirky and often-funny read. At the same time however, there are moments of poignancy, some of which come as a result of life experience and realising things young Evie does not.

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    four-half-stars
  • Book review: White Throat by Sarah Thornton

    Monday, November 23, 2020 Permalink

    This is the second in the series by Sarah Thornton featuring former lawyer Clementine Jones. We learned in the first outing Lapse, that Jones had been convicted of drink driving and a woman died as a result – although I did think there was perhaps more to that story. She spent a lot of time in the first novel keeping that secret, but it’s not the case here and her history seems to be more accessible.

    Lapse was set in Katinga in rural Australia, but this opens with (the elegant) mention of tidal flats and the ocean. Here Jones is housesitting and Thornton certainly offers eloquent imagery of Australia’s coastline. The setting was of interest to me as it’s actually in my back yard… near the Great Sandy Straits, set in the tiny fictional town of Piama. (I assume it’s fictional as I’ve never heard of it.)

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    three-half-stars
  • Book review: The Mitford Trial by Jessica Fellowes

    Saturday, November 14, 2020 Permalink

    The Mitford Trial is the fourth in the series by Jessica Fellowes. Each of the books focuses loosely on one of the (in)famous Mitford sisters (of which there were five, as well as a brother). I hadn’t realised when I embarked on the first book in the series, The Mitford Murders that the Mitford family actually existed and that the girls in particular quite well known.

    These books are fiction, but based on true events and Fellowes includes historical notes at the end of each book. The Mitford Trial is set over a few years in the early 1930s and we’re edging closer to the second world war. The mystery at the heart of this book very much reflects the involvement of Mitford family members drawn to fascism and communism and their allegiances with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

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    three-half-stars
  • Book review: Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

    Tuesday, November 10, 2020 Permalink

    Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza, released a year ago, introduced Kate Marshall. I was a little wary in my review as it opens with Kate, a police officer, on the verge of breaking a major case involving a serial killer. But then it’s quickly over – she catches the baddie… who happens to be her boss and lover.

    The book then flicked forward fifteen years and we again meet Kate, now lecturing in Criminology at a University. We get some backstory and learn she didn’t become a hero: rather her affair became public; she left the police force in disgrace; became an alcoholic; lost custody of her son (to the aforementioned serial killer); before regaining control over her life. In Nine Elms she gets pulled into investigating a copycat case however along with her assistant Tristan.

    And here, Kate’s again playing detective after discovering the body of a college student.

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    three-half-stars
  • Book review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly

    Friday, November 6, 2020 Permalink

    I’m a fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, though I was a latecomer to the series. And I absolutely adore Detective Renee Ballard. I also gave a rare 4.5 stars to the third in the (journalist) Jack McEvoy series earlier this year.

    I just commented in another review that I like the way Connelly crosses characters over and has them appear, a little or lot, in other series.

    The Law of Innocence is a Mickey Haller (aka Lincoln Lawyer) novel. And it wasn’t until I read this I realised I’ve only read one other in this series. Haller’s featured in other books I’ve read—briefly—but it occurred to me when reading this… I don’t actually like him all that much. And I wonder if Connelly intends for us to find him a tad disagreeable and socially-challenged, or if I’m alone in my antipathy. Or perhaps, because Haller’s own freedom is on the line here, he’s more self-absorbed and indignant than usual?

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    three-half-stars
  • Book review: The Shearer’s Wife by Fleur McDonald

    Tuesday, November 3, 2020 Permalink

    West Australian-based author Fleur McDonald has two series featuring outback detective Dave Burrows on the go. One is set in the present and the other in the past – not long after Burrows became a cop. The present day series is interrelated so Burrows is usually investigating a case but there are other characters central to the plot of that particular novel. In the last outing in that series, Starting From Now, we met investigative journalist Zara Ellison, who returned to small-town Barker to be near her dying brother. The likeable Zara stayed and returns to play a lead role here as well.

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    four-stars
  • Book review: Snow by John Banville

    Sunday, November 1, 2020 Permalink

    I saw Irish author John Banville interviewed on television just over a decade ago. I’m not sure if he spoke about a book in particular or his creative process but I was sufficiently intrigued to borrow his recent release, The Infinities, on my next library visit.

    Now I’m fairly obtuse so usually shy away from anything metaphorical and I’m not quite sure I knew what I was getting myself into. But I do recall being enchanted by the book… which is ostensibly about a dying man and his family. Not to mention some meddlesome immortals or gods. In my blissful haze I borrowed his better-known Booker Prize winning The Sea. I wasn’t using Goodreads at the time so my reaction isn’t there but I’m fairly sure (from memory) I barely made it a chapter or two when I put it aside. Its…. weighty slang-ridden prose far too erudite for moi.

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    three-half-stars