Book review: Win by Harlan Coben

Friday, March 26, 2021 Permalink

I’ve mentioned before I was a latecomer to Harlan Coben’s work. I’m not sure why that was, but I’ve certainly enjoyed his most recent books, many of which have been standalone novels. It means I’m not really familiar with his popular protagonist Myron Bolitar, though I loved my brief interlude with his nephew Mickey in Found, published in 2014.

I’m assuming our lead in Coben’s latest novel, Win, was introduced in the Myron Bolitar series and as this is labelled Windsor Horne Lockwood III #1, I’m figuring it’s a spinoff.

And that excites me because I really loved this book. I adored Win. I adored Coben’s conversational style of writing. It felt like he was writing in second person, as if Win was telling ‘us’ his story. It was engaging and funny and Win, as a narrator, is unabashedly arrogant and elitist. If the plot had been a little less coincidental / contrived this might have been a five star read for me, but instead Mr Coben will have to settle for 4.5 stars.

four-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

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

Childhood dreams

Monday, March 1, 2021 Permalink

This meme / image* was doing the rounds on Facebook and Twitter over the past week or two. People were commenting with their childhood dreams or aspirations.

Most responses were career-oriented. Some seemed happy they’d pursued their passions. Some had a sense of regret or perhaps resolution. Others realised their childish fantasies were exactly that. Childish. Fantasies.

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