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

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

Milkman by Anna Burns

I need a special rating for books that I’m glad I read but didn’t particularly enjoy. Milkman by Anna Burns is such a book.

There’s much to admire in Milkman. Burns’s unwavering and meticulous stream-of-consciousness account of the Troubles is told through the eyes of our unnamed narrator, an eighteen-year-old girl who comes from a large family impacted by political violence. Although the narrator is trying to distance herself from the turmoil that surrounds her, she is drawn in after being accused of having an affair with a married man known as ‘milkman’ (this is despite the narrator having a ‘maybe-boyfriend’). In fact, the milkman is stalking the narrator, and it is soon revealed that he is a paramilitary figure who holds great power in the community.

As for the community, and my affair with the milkman according to this community, I was now well in it, that being the case whether I was or not. It was put about I had regular engagements with him, rendezvous, intimate ‘dot dot dots’ at various ‘dot dot dot’ places. Continue reading

The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J. Murray

Every so often I read a book that was a hit for others and a total miss for me. Such was the case with The Biographer’s Lover by Ruby J. Murray. And I do want to stress the ‘hit for others‘ part because some of my blogging friends adored this book.

The book is about an unnamed writer, employed by a wealthy family, to write a monograph about their mother, artist Edna Cranmer. Edna was not known for her work in her lifetime, however her daughter is intent on changing that, by having her paintings of the  landscape, Australian’s at war, and intimate portraits recognised. As the biographer delves deeper into Edna’s life, she discovers seccrets that some family members have worked hard to keep hidden. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – three stories about books

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week, all three samples are ones that I’ve had for years, and all three are stories based around books. Continue reading