Sunday, 22 May 2016

Slade House by David Mitchell

"The steps up to Slade House are mossy and stained, the once-proud door is peeling and rotten and the knocker is chewed by rust and time."

So being the lucky lady that I am, I received a beautiful copy of this fantastic novel for Christmas from my utterly awesome friend Nicki. I didn't realise then that I should have read The Bone Clocks  first, let's face it, it is sitting in my to read pile. That being said, this works just as well as a stand alone tale; and what a tale it is.

I absolutely love parallel universes, time travel, ghosts and a mystery, so this encapsulates a little of all those notions and does so brilliantly. So much delightful, soul sucking mystery housed in such a little book with a mysterious address that is only open to a select few.

My hesitation to share any further details stems only from a deep desire that you too enjoy this book as much as I did. So, in the words of Molly Meldrum " do yourself a favour" and grab a copy.

5 out of 5 times google will never find this place.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Tropic of Capricorn by Henry Miller

"But the food of the body is champagne and oysters; feed it then on champagne and oysters; and so shall it merit a joyful resurrection"

Well the cover promised some purple prose and yes you will find snippets within its much banned pages. This was another tick off the 1001 novels list and I do so love progress. Admittedly I read this one on iBooks so I did get a little distracted by its rambling prose.
I remember Tropic of Cancer being far more easy to follow and far more enjoyable in general.
This novel had brilliant phrases throughout but a narrative was somewhere in the ether. It was a little like reading drunk. The salacious pieces are interspersed within the work and in between there are rambling sentences that I'm still not sure have reached their destination. Miller remains eminently quotable, as there are such brilliant lines hidden within this confusion of a novel. Every time I'd consider putting it down, a standard paragraph would drag me in and I'd push on. Miller also seems at his best when he is at his most ban-able, case in point the dalliance  finally described as "Just a couple of quiet maniacs working away in the dark like gravediggers.". He seems to reduce women to their sex organs be they "miscellaneous","laughing", "glacial", "made of pure joy" or "super" and  sex takes on a somewhat removed state, devoid of real intimacy.
If you wanted to play a drinking game and take a shot each time the c bomb was unleashed, you would no doubt be passed out on the floor in no time.

Yet, for all its faults, there are compelling aspects.

4 out of 5 banned books are hard to ignore.

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E.Schwab

"People always said that the waiting was the worst part, and Lila agreed."

The problem with really loving the first book of a series that is new launched into the world, is the interminable wait anticipating the next instalment. Such was the case with A Darker Shade of Magic which, let's face it, I only finished in January.  It is true that I have traversed the pages of many a novel in between, and as such, it took me a little time to recall the particular details of the first tome. The delightful memories of the world of the first book slowly returned and as such my delight in the world of the second grew.

Lila is such a great character that kept me hurriedly turning those pages. Magic, pirates, tournaments, intrigue, there is something for everyone here. My only quibble is that, as it came to an end,  I knew I would have to wait for the next instalment. My impatience for book three can only be quelled by its pages firmly pressed against my hands.

5 out of 5 magical gatherings can be more challenging than anticipated.

How to Worry Less about Money (The School of Life) by John Armstrong

"The conflicts between the concerns of money and the hopes of life are real and deep."

So there I was, questioning how bad I am with money and I thought, I know, buying a book about my tormented relationship with it will make me feel better. The book is an interesting collection of essays that force you to contemplate your situation and where it might be headed without judgement. I didn't particularly learn anything new, I'm quite familiar with what motivates me. That being said, it was still an interesting read.

3 out of 5 times visa owns my soul.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Killing Johnny Fry by Walter Mosley

"I noticed that he was wearing a condom - a red one. For some reason the color made me angry"

So when your best friend of the opposite sex says, "this is a book you have to read", you download it from iBooks and go for broke, ending your queries about what exactly constitutes a "sexistential novel". Perhaps better known for his Devil in a blue dress,  Walter Mosely's erotic adventure published in 2006 begins with a man tempted to stray by a youthful kiss and feeling quite guilty. When he returns to his girlfriend's place in an unexpected visit, he is confronted by his girlfriend Joelle, in flagrante delicto in what Kevin Smith would describe as " in an uncomfortable place" - not the back of a Volkswagen.

Cordell chances upon an adult video store and an intriguing dvd starring Sisypha Seaman; a tale of an adulterous woman  being caught out by her husband. Not unlike Cordell's own experience, although slightly more extreme. His journey continues as he questions his boring sex life with his girlfriend, his palpable hatred of Johnny Fry and quest for revenge, interacts with his incestuous neighbours and discovers some drug fuelled sex club hijinks.
Yes, this isn't the book you'd lend to your granny.

The tantalising writing easily suspends disbelief and it is easy to get caught up in Cordell's desire for revenge and to resurrect his bruised ego at being cheated on.

4 out of 5 night time reads are sometimes risqué. 

Friday, 8 April 2016

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

"There are various reasons why an individual might habitually consume large quantities of alcohol, but they all effectively boil down to the same thing."

A man in a sheep suit, dodgy motels, a man in a rat suit and lots of sex... yes it is time to fall down the Murakami rabbit hole once more. Come on, if you're like me, you'll enjoy the ride.
How can our protagonist resist the lure of a girl with perfect ears. What are perfect ears- is there such a thing? Lord knows this girl doesn't want another thing to worry about not being perfect.

This is far from being my favourite Murakami, even if it does contain a few gems that peaked my interest. I finished all 304 pages in 2 days, or two airports, it literally flies by- no pun intended.

From men who have special relationships with sheep, to ex wives that keep a sex score card, the novel is rich with quirky characters and occurrences, not to mention eminently quotable quotes. Example below:

"We finished our packing and had intercourse, then went out and saw a movie. In the movie there were a lot of men and women having intercourse too. Nothing wrong with watching others having intercourse, after all".

Also who can't relate to a hangover that feels like this:
"Had someone put me in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and like a madman shaken me up?"

While this is far from my favourite dive into the author's worlds, it still has its moments.

4 out of 5 bah bah black sheep of the family signing off.

The Scarecrow by Ronald Hugh Morrieson

"Mabel Collinson had always looked like a goddess to Sam Finn"

This novel was somewhat of an undiscovered gem that I initially had mixed feelings about. I was won over by the cover and its pulp fiction quality that seemed to beckon. I upped my initial review score when I reflected upon its content a few days after I had finished reading.

Initially, I was repulsed by the sense of threat that the violence against women that is such a key element of the story provoked in me. The gang threatening the beautiful Prudence in particularly, gave me the shudders. Beauty is something that is destroyed again and again within the claustrophobic surrounds of a small town.

Juxtaposed against the violence, is the sense of change, wonder and burgeoning sexual awakening that lies at the heart of puberty and is personified by Neddy Poindexter. In any case, this is a novel that brings a strange and unique voice.

Undoubtedly, this novel deserves more readers and it is great that Text Classics is publishing some fantastic Australian, and in this case, New Zealand writers of the past.

5 out of 5 big sisters would be lost without their little brothers.