• 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
  • Book review: Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

    Thursday, March 11, 2021 Permalink

    Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray is being compared to Gail Honeyman’s popular 2017 novel, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and I’d also suggest similarities to The Truth and Triumphs of Grace Atherton by Anstey Harris and The Cactus by Sarah Haywood.

    The likeness—I suspect—is drawn because the lead character Amy is quirky. And rather prickly. She’s a hoarder and her life has become so focused on her accumulation of things that she’s retreated into herself and her home, and adept pushing people away.

    four-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 Family Doctor by Debra Oswald

    Thursday, March 4, 2021 Permalink

    I was surprisingly devastated by the events that open The Family Doctor by Debra Oswald. The author sets them up well and they trigger everything that comes after. I was worried however, that what did come next would be predictable: a cynical and distrustful woman driven mad by guilt and sadness and committing vengeful acts as a result.

    Thankfully however, the book wasn’t at all like that. The two leads Oswald gives us are fabulously nuanced. And fears I had regarding ‘the family doctor’, GP Paula, being overly obsessed and paranoid were unfounded.(TW: domestic and family violence)

    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: The Dare by Lesley Kara

    Thursday, February 25, 2021 Permalink

    I haven’t read Lesley Kara’s well-received 2018 release, The Rumour but I did enjoy Who Did You Tell, published in early 2020. Now I’ve read her latest book it’s obvious she’s drawn to themes reflecting hidden pasts and long-buried secrets.

    The Dare is a twisty read that lures readers into a false sense of complacency before throwing our trust back in our faces. It has us questioning how well we (actually) know some of the lead characters.

    three-half-stars
  • Book review: Faithless in Death by JD Robb

    Saturday, February 20, 2021 Permalink

    Faithless in Death is JD Robb/Nora Roberts’ 52nd book in the Eve Dallas / Roarke (In Death) series and it’s probably the best I’ve read for some time.

    I appreciate that Robb manages to come up with new plots and offers readers something different in each outing and I suspect it’s that, along with the like-ability of her main cast that keeps readers like me coming back. Again and again. And again and again. Well, 52 times.

    four-stars
  • Book review: The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor

    Thursday, February 18, 2021 Permalink

    They were a few weeks apart but it bodes well for 2021 that I read two books that I’m rating an easy 4.5 stars – a very rare honour in my world. The first was Linwood Barclay’s new release Find You First and the second, The Burning Girls by CJ Tudor.

    This is the third book I’ve read by Tudor but I don’t think it’d appeared in any new release catalogues that I recall so I sent a query after seeing her talk about the book on Twitter. I’d missed her 2020 release, The Other People, but heard great things about it. And thank god I chased for a copy because I freakin’ loved this book. There’s a fabulous twist early and they really don’t stop coming.

    four-half-stars