French Exit by Patrick deWitt – a literary mix tape

I mentioned how slow I’d been to write a review of French Exit by Patrick deWitt. I read it in February – can’t remember much except that I laughed out loud and loved every moment. So, a mix tape instead…

4/5 Dark and hilarious. Continue reading

Second Place by Rachel Cusk

Second Place was my introduction to Rachel Cusk. I quickly became engrossed in the story and wondered why I had expected her writing to be impenetrable. Where had this impression come from? Other readers? Reviews? Her regular appearance on literature award lists? Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised – no, relieved – to find Second Place highly ‘readable’. No persistence required. Continue reading

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

If I had the energy to rewind to all of the blog posts from December 2020 titled ‘Most anticipated books of 2021’, I suspect that Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid would feature heavily. Because even if Daisy Jones & The Six wasn’t your usual genre, there was something appealing about it – the nostalgia, the music alive on the page, the glamour and grunge of the industry.

Reid has used the same ingredients for her latest novel, Malibu Rising, but unfortunately the result lacks the magic of Daisy. I’m not sure why because the ‘ingredients’ are solid – professional surfers, Malibu beach, set in the eighties – but these scene-setters were diluted with too many superfluous characters, and a house party that is described in laborious detail (a stark contrast to the first half of the book which covers decades of the family’s history). Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (Winter) 2021 – Challenge Complete(ish)

The 20 Books of Summer reading challenge drew to a close yesterday, on Melbourne’s first distinctly-Spring-like day (it was 22 degrees and glorious). Continue reading

Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey

Sometimes you pick up a book, thinking that it ticks all the boxes before you’ve even started. Life After Truth by Ceridwen Dovey was that book for me.

Campus-lit. Tick. A story about a group of friends. Tick. A reunion (allowing lots of time for mature adults to reflect on their less-mature-selves). Tick. An author whose work I have enjoyed previously. Tick. Continue reading

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Ordinarily, if a book I’ve read has thousands of reviews on Goodreads, I’ll do a literary mixtape instead of a review. Because really, what more can I say about a text if 20,000 others have shared their thoughts? Conversely, there’s always an audience for eighties music videos paired with some choice quotes (I think).

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee has 266,391 ratings and 26,202 reviews on Goodreads. But there will be no mixtape, for the simple reason that although I found this family saga engrossing in terms of plot, there was nothing particularly compelling about the style of Lee’s writing. It’s a really good story. It’s a memorable story. The writing is straightforward. Continue reading

The Golden Maze by Richard Fidler

Wars and alchemy and people dying because they didn’t do a wee at a feast… I’d forgotten about all the excellent gruesome detail of Medieval times until I plunged into Richard Fidler’s ‘biography of Prague’, The Golden Maze.

There were other reasons I picked up this tome –

  1. Back in the eighties, I loved the Doug Anthony Allstars (although was in constant fear I’d be roped into audience participation).
  2. My brief visit to Prague whetted the appetite, and I certainly wished for more time there.

Continue reading

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig is a collection of thoughts and reflections on happiness and hope. Haig doesn’t claim to have any particular insight or expertise. Instead, his words are intended to soothe in times when many people are feeling frayed.

Like any book of this nature, it’s one you can open to any page – it’s probably the best way to read it, taking from it what you need at any one time. As a result, some entries will resonate more than others (although, the entry which simply says  – ‘No physical appearance is worth not eating pasta for’ is universal, and equally, ‘It’s rare to escape a maze on the first attempt’, is also useful). Continue reading