The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Lou Lou, is that you?

Hello, it’s 1987 calling and it wants its perfume back. Cacheral named a fragrance Lou Lou, after silent-film star, Louise Brooks, in 1987. When it launched, I immediately loved everything about it – from the rich and distinctive (controversial) fragrance to the exquisite blue bottle and glorious floral packaging. And because I haven’t really moved on from the eighties, I still wear it (only in winter, of course) and I like it as much as I did the very first time I tried it on. So naturally, when I saw Laura Moriarty’s novel, The Chaperone, a story about Louise Brooks and her first trip to New York (with a chaperone, hence the title), I put it on my ‘Novels set in the 1920s’ reading list (1920s and 1980s being my favourite and best decades). Continue reading

We Are Water by Wally Lamb


When I first started Wally Lamb’s We Are Water, I had flashbacks to Hustvedt’s The Blazing World. And I really couldn’t go back there (it was my only DNF for 2014). Flashbacks because the subject of both books is artists with baggage. I guess all artists need baggage, don’t they? Anyway, that’s where the similarities end. Where Hustvedt pontificates, Lamb simply tells a story. Continue reading

Heading Out to Wonderful by Robert Goolrick


If I told you what happens in Robert Goolrick’s novel, Heading Out to Wonderful, in the simplest of terms, the story would seem melodramatic. Ludicrous even. And yet, it doesn’t read this way at all – Goolrick’s steady, almost detached style takes it in another direction altogether. Continue reading

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


I actually finished Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See almost a fortnight ago – around the time everyone else was publishing their ‘Best Books of 2014’ posts *sarcastic font*. Why so long to write my review? Yes, the end of December tends to be on the busy side but actually, it’s because I was (still am) having trouble articulating what it was about this story that completely and wholly captured me. Continue reading

Two quick reviews (because reading challenge pressure)

Two quick reviews of books that I found underwhelming –


Raising Cubby by John Elder Robison

You have to admire the subtitle for Raising Cubby“A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives.” That sounds fun, right?! Continue reading

What’s in a Name Challenge 2014 Wrap-up


Of all the reading challenges, I have the most fun with What’s in a Name, hosted by The Worm Hole. I like browsing through my TBR stack to find titles that fit the challenge categories.

The challenge is simple – read one book that fits each of the five ‘categories’ – Continue reading

Australian Women Writers Challenge 2014 Wrap-up


I enjoy the Australian Women Writers Challenge – it goes a little way to addressing the gender bias in literary review pages, plus I try to buy my AWW titles from an independent book shop (doing my bit for the Australian publishing industry and independent booksellers).

This year, I upped the ante and signed up for the Franklin level (read ten books, review at least six). I romped it in. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

racel castle beach towel

A few notable bookish things –

1. This brilliant round-up of the best book covers for 2014 (tweeted by Jenny).

2. This list of books that made us cry in 2014. I do love a good cry over a book.

3. NPR’s Book Concierge – a gimmick but fun.

4. Scott’s crap book of the year list made me laugh. Out loud. Especially this bit – Continue reading

Best Books of 2014 – A List of Lists

Illustration by Jen Wang.

Every year I get a little peevish about the number of ‘Best Books of 20??′ lists being published in November. Because clearly the people who compile these lists don’t read in December.

I read in December – I guess I have time because I don’t write a column about books for the New York Times…

Anyway, I’m about to start All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s on a lot of the lists below and it might be the best book I’ve read this year. And it’s December. Remember readers, you may still have THE book of 2014 ahead of you.

But if you are yet to discover THE BEST BOOK OF 2014, here are some ‘Best of…’ lists. It’s a list of lists – go forth and add to your TBR stack. Continue reading