Tuesday, 6 December 2016

2016 Booklist #30: The Dressmaker

By Rosalie Ham.  (A Bookclub Book).  I was familiar with this book from the movie trailers (I haven't seen the move), so I was expecting a quirky comedy. It was certainly quirky and I guess it was a comedy, but it's a pretty dark book,  with very few sympathetic characters, and an ending that felt like a farce.  There's no doubt that Ham's characters are unique.  Her Australian town is not a typical Aussie town (or maybe it is?? perhaps I should say it's not *stereotypical*), but was it an enjoyable read?  I'm not sure...

(No picture as it was a library book that has gone back to the library!!)

2016 Booklist #29: Soul Kitchen

By Poppy Z. Brite. Brite mentions in her foreward that this book was finished the night before Hurricane Katrina which made reading this quite poignant - how much of the buildings and landscape remained after this book? A good read, Ricky and G-man have slightly more complex problems and are very tired. Perhaps Brite is tired too, as the book feels quite weary, and a conclusion to the main plot line is somewhat demoralising. Still the final *actual* ending is very sweet.

2016 Book list #28: Prime

By Poppy Z. Brite. Another charming outing with Ricky and G-man. Two years on, they're not quite as fresh, a bit more weary. This story has quite a cleverly entwined mystery/thriller element that becomes obvious in the end, but otherwise add quite a nice twist to the story. As always, the descriptions of cooking and restaurant life is fascinating.

Friday, 14 October 2016

2016 Booklist #27: Wild

By Cheryl Strayed. I read this for Book Club. I read it very quickly, and it is quite a thrilling read. Strayed accomplished an amazing feat - I think one that I would NEVER attempt. However, I'm not sure it will stay with me long term, not sure why. Even a week or so after finishing,  I don't really feel the impact.

(Still not actually sure how to pronounce Cheryl's last name - i though it was Stry-add, until I read how she came to have it. Actually, just looked it up - it looks like it really is Straid http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/mbatt/2012/06/hello-my-name-is-cheryl-strayed/)

2016 Booklist #26: Liquor

By Poppy Z. Brite.  OMG - How charming is this book! Poppy Z. Brite was already on my QUILTBAG author list, but the recommendation for this particular series came from a particular friend (Thanks T!).  I'm not sure how to quite categorise this book - cheffy thriller comedy? Ricky and G-man are lifelong friends, lovers and setting up a new restaurant. I loved the level of detail  given about the New Orleans food scene and restaurants in general.  I loved both hot headed Ricky and sensible and calm G-man.  I loved the earthy dialogue, and I have ordered the next two to read.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

2016 Booklist #25: Burial Rites

By Hannah Kent.  This was reminiscent of my recent read, Hild, as it's fiction based on true events,  in this case the execution of the last woman in Iceland (Agnes Magnusdottir). It's very well written, and absorbing tale of life in Iceland - I am pretty sure this is the first book in Iceland that I've read! (though written by an Australian). The book weaves 'present day' (which is the incarceration of Agnes with a farming family before the execution), and the events leading up to the murder that she has been charged with.  It seems evident that Kent has meticulously researched the history of the period and the events them selves, I do wonder how much inference she has made about 'what really happened', though I also wonder how important that is (or why I feel it is important to me). Definitely recommended!

2016 Book List #23 and 24: The Drowning Girl and The Red Tree

By Caitlin Kiernan.  It think it was probably a shame that I read these back to back, and that I read The Drowning Girl first, because they have very similar themes/ characters, unreliable narration and even literary references (esp The Mick Turtle's Song from Alice in Wonderland), and I think that 'The Red Tree' was better (but lost impact having read Drowning Girl immediately beforehand).  The main difference I would say between them is that the Drowning Girl is more about a haunting - unsettling but not super scary, whereas The Red Tree is more definitely horror, with an evil presence that brings genuine dread.  I almost felt inclined to reread The Red Tree again, to try and piece together the story better, but ultimately did not, as that would have technically been my third Caitlin Kiernan in a row... (I did go back to recheck a few things in the preface/intro)

There's no doubt that they're both very well written,  but I do feel a bit wary reading more Kiernan, as I don't know whether the similarities were a reflection of her overall writing, or I just lucked out by picking very similar books to read. At some point,  I want to revisit the Writer and the Critic Podcast, where they review the Drowning Girl to see what they say, in part because it was Kirstyn who brought Kiernan to my attention in the first place.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

2016 Booklist #22: All the Birds in the Sky

By Charlie Jane Anders.  I LOVE the cover of this book (apologies for the picture being sidewise!). However, perhaps it gave me higher expectations of how much I would love the book, which I'm afraid I feel a bit underwhelmed about. I think part of the problem was the style, which I think was trying to angle for a fairytale/fable feel.  Which is fine,  but I did find both Patricia and, to a lesser extent, Lawrence's families quite unbelievably horrible.  In Patricia's case in particular,  I did wonder if there was a point of view element to how horrible her family was to her, because it appeared to be so completely irrational. I loved the idea of the two types of magic coming together, and the magic school, part Hogwarts, part Hunger Games (sort of).  I loved the potential 'epic-ness' of the story, but I'm not sure the book was big enough for the story it wanted to tell, and to be honest, a week or so after finishing the book, I can't actually remember how it ended...

2016 Booklist #21: Hild


By Nicola Griffith.  What a remarkable book! In terms of the historical detail, it reminded me of Hillary Mantel's Wolf Hall.  This is, i think, an amazing interweaving of historical scholarship with and an absorbing narrative.  However, the best thing about the book was the point of view.  Hild lives in a very female world.  The main protagonists (or antagonsts) are women - like her mother and the Queen.  Yes,  the king is 'all powerful'  but he is portrayed as someone who is not really in control, influenced by superstition and emotion. He is really a side character in the main character.  I loved how intelligent Hild is. Her power in court is due to her place as King's Seer ( in niece),  but there is no supernatural angle to he skill.  She is observant and canny (and a little lucky).  I look forward to reading the next planned books in the Hild trilogy

Saturday, 25 June 2016

2016 Booklist #20: Leviathan's Blood

By Ben Peek. This is book two in 'The Children' trilogy (though the cover is very subtle about this fact!). To be fair: there is a short report/historical document that neatlys summarises the action from the first book, so you could probably go into this book 'blind'. Things that I love about this book: beautifully written, and full of diverse characters - both in terms of gender and race (and I guess god-status :D). This book expands from the first book with more point of view characters and action happening in very different areas of the world - i liked the introduction of Ooila and the (rather fraught) court of the First Queen. The story is a bit more fractured than the first (where everything was happening in the same city - more or less), but the chapters are really well organised, in terms of building to the climax. The book ends on more of a cliffhanger than the first book (which is not unwelcome!) At this stage I have no idea how this is all going to end...

Thursday, 26 May 2016

2016 Booklist #19: The Tainted

By Glenda Larke. Book 3 in the Isles of Glory trilogy. A great ending. Larke incorporates a few more new POV characters to great effect. In this book, there isn't so mcuh a twist as the pleasure in seeing how Larke brings about and ending that has been hinted at through the whole trilogy. I loved the scientific experiments with magic. A great ending.

2016 Booklist #18: Gilfeather

By Glenda Larke. Book 2 in the Isles of Glory trilogy, a bit of a slow start, with the change of POV from Blade to Gilfeather, but it ramped up fairly soon, and ended up breaking my heart! I worked out one twist by myself, but the other completely surprised me. I also love the overarching theme of anthorpology and science that's brought in with the framing letters. A worthy book #2.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

2016 Booklist #17: The Last Stormlord

By Glenda Larke. A bit of a slower start than 'The Aware', but such an amazing, complex world! Very relevant to now, given the prominence of water to the story. Huge huge cliffhanger at the end. Fortunately it was a pleasure to read - looking forward to the next one!

Friday, 29 April 2016

2016 Booklist #16: The Girl in the Spider's Web

By David Lagercrantz. There's no doubt this is gripping and entertaining - and it kept me reading well into the early hours. It's not great prose, but the originals weren't that great either - I'd have to reread to compare more closely. One thing I wasn't so keen on was the embellishment of Lisbeth's backstory. I can see that it might have been necessary, but a lot of it didn't ring true to me - especially the comic stuff. Though a clever way of explaining Lisbeth's hacker name.

2016 Booklist #15: The Aware

By Glenda Larke. Have been meaning to read Glenda Larke for years. 'The Aware' is amazing - female main character, very original story with interesting science/anthropologic angle. Highly recommended. I'll read the rest of the trilogy for sure.

Books I read

2016 Booklist #14: The Last Word

by Hanif Kureishi. Wit rather than substance: http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/13232610

Books I read

Thursday, 14 April 2016

2016 Booklist #13: Nimona

By Noelle Stevenson. Charming, funny and possibly my first graphic novel...

Monday, 4 April 2016

2016 Booklist #12: Death Comes to Pemberley

By PD James. I am afraid I cannot recommend this book. I listed my annoyances here.

2016 Book List #11: The Robber Bride

By Margaret Atwood. Failed to take a photo, so I will just link to my BC post (it was well worth reading)

Sunday, 6 March 2016

2016 Booklist #10: Astray

By Emma Donohue. Whoops, I got rid of this before taking a picture! This is a fascinating premise - writing short stories based on historical records, and all related to travel or immigration (and mostly centreds around or in America). The stories are generally well written vignettes, though generally made more poignant due to their historical origins. It lacked the emotional depth of 'Room', however.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

2016 Booklist #9: Cherry Crow Children

By Deborah Kalin. Amazing book, amazing horror. Each story is my favorite as I'm reading it. Afterwards? I just can't pick... 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

2016 Booklist #8: The Spare Room

By Helen Garner. Powerful, gripping, engrossing - and the perfect choice after reading Elizabeth Jolley.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Booklist #7: Palomino

By Elizabeth Jolley. Had no idea what this was about before reading it. It's very literary (hence the lecture theatre named after Jolley at my university), very lyrical writing. Nothing like what I expected. I am fascinated to find out what era the story is written in, as I couldn't easily pick it from the story - the themes are quite modern (it was published in 1980), but it feels like it was set in the 50s or 60s. 

Sunday, 7 February 2016

2016 Booklist #6: The Case of the Lucky Loser

By Erle Stanley Gardner. I had never read nor watched any Perry Mason before this. Now I have. I am unlikely to read any more.

Monday, 1 February 2016

2016 Booklist #5: Cat's Eye

By Margaret Atwood. I loved reading this book. Beautifully written, gripping story - particularly Elaine's earlier years (to be fair everything was a bit anticlimactic after that). The setting (post-War Canada) felt novel to me too. 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

2016 Book #4: The Martian

By Andy Weir. Hugely entertaining and lots of suspense and science. I look forward to seeing the movie. 

2016 Book #3: The Island at the Centre of the World

By Russel Shorto.  Very easy read and very interesting look at the Dutch colony that founded Manhattan. My favorite bits were learning how certain parts of America and Manhattan came to be named (eg Wall Street, Brooklyn, Harlem), and also the influence of the Dutch language on America vocabulary.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

2016 Book #2: The Lost Dog

The Lost Dog by Michelle de Kretser. Reviewed by both Ursula Le Guin and A S Byatt!  Took a while to get into, partly due to the detached story telling style, but I enjoyed the eventual unfolding of the mystery and time shifted narrative.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

2016 Book 1: The Pilo Family Circus

Good to have it off my to be read pile. Otherwise, not too fussed about it. The writing very much felt like that of a newer author - which I think Will Elliott was at the time. However, I expected it to be better given all the awards it won.