Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Red Hunted by Allyson Lindt

"She pouted - that seemed to get her a good reaction."

I couldn't sleep and this was free on Kobo. I'd had a really crazy week and just needed something inane and through... hmm.. erotic fiction... why not? I will say, seeing as I'd been listening to the My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, I was surprised at how well written and entertaining it was. Likeable characters, believable sex. Perhaps I'd misjudged this genre. Did I mention it was free?

Like a good gateway drug, this one has got me in. Now the real test will be if I pay for the sequel?

4 out of 5 road trips aren't this eventful.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

“I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving.”


I happen to think that Michelle Obama is an amazing woman and I was super eager to read her autobiography. When a colleague from work offered to lend me a copy you could see glee writ large across my face.

That excitement dissipated somewhat when I started reading. For the first 200 or so pages, I was really struggling to connect with the author as a fully realised human being and it made me think. There was something too polished and almost pedestrian about the way she described events. When I thought about that, I figured, if I had been a public figure under constant scrutiny, that would be a manner that, for self-preservation at least, I’d have to affect.

It wasn’t until we got to more contemporary events and particularly when discussing her husband, her kids and the impact of some rather harrowing occasions that I felt we’d grown closer to the woman behind the pages. When that switch occurred, I really started to be drawn into the book and was sad to see it come to an end.
When a beautiful, strong, eloquent woman actually gets airtime in a world of Trumps and Kardashians it is hard not to want to know more about her and hope that she continues to strive.

4 out of 5 life stories should be long.


Sunday, 10 March 2019

The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

"We know just what to say to the men who for some reason have a great deal of trouble taking consistent care of themselves or anyone else."

I was having one of those days when I cracked the spine of this fantastic novel. I'd been reticent to watch the film or read the novel, and then the lovely Chat 10 Looks 3 ladies discussed it on their podcast and I couldn't resist. This is a cracker of a tale, well paced, well written, easy to digest. I finished it in no time. Well, not quite no time, but rather quickly nonetheless.

For me, I think it captures a certain recognition of ageing and the truly unfair status that is forced onto women particularly. We see the main character taking a decisive step at the opening of the novel, and then learn the reasons why, as the tale unfolds. Here is an intelligent woman whose relationship with her husband develops from a transgression in her youth. The mundane nature of an impressionable, young student falling for her married tutor amplifies the sense of disparity between the two. As she helps him to realise his personal and professional ambitions, her life takes a decided backseat, until she is a shadow-person in his reflected brilliance.

The truth behind the fa├žade makes for a great read. Perhaps because I’d read the blurb, seen the advertisements for the movie and heard discussion on the pod cast; the action did not come as a particular shock. This is no one trick pony offering however, and I was happy to just enjoy the ride. I think as I get older, I notice the gender disparity reflected in the text more markedly . Women are prized when they are young, nubile, impressionable and adoring; by the time reality sets in they are prepared to overlook the ageing of their male counterparts in a way that many men seem to find impossible. Faced with the prospect of losing their youthful looks and energy, only to be confronted by the potential that their partner could start again with someone younger, their circumstances are understandably fraught. Add to that the financial disparity of women who have surrendered their careers to be the caretaker of children and you can understand the brewing discontent that Wolitzer fleshes out here. Then *spoiler *the cherry on the top is whose brilliance are we really talking about? Is the much-vaunted author really the sole source of creative genius? Well I have to leave you something to read, so I’ll end this here.


5 out of 5 alpha males rarely achieve greatness on their own.





Monday, 4 March 2019

Calypso by David Sedaris

"Since getting my Fitbit I’ve seen all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally have come across."


My gorgeous and amazing friend Kate was lovely enough to lend me a copy of the most recent of Mr Sedaris’ musings. The experience for me was particularly bitter sweet because my appreciation of the author is firmly entrenched in my memories of another friendship that has recently soured. I am grateful for that friendship for introducing me to the delights of the adorable David Sedaris, the joys of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the addictiveness of the Fitbit and the efficiencies of Phillips Airfloss for interdental cleaning.  I am sad that the friendship is over, but sometimes you just have to move on. That did, however, make reading this difficult. I was constantly reminded of the last book tour of David Sedaris which was in fact promoting this particular work.
As always, Sedaris is open and engaging and a delightful raconteur. While a lot slimmer than some of his recent outings, it remains just as entertaining. I can hear it read in his voice as I scan the pages and envisage his strange penchant for male culottes. A number of the stories seemed so familiar and I realised this was because I’d heard them read aloud. That just made me love this more.

You will devour this so quickly because, like anything tasty, it is all too easy to consume. Anyone else who shares my Fitbit mania and love of reading can't help but love this too.
5 out of 5, literary relationships are forever.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

The First Casualty: A Memoir from the Front Lines of the Global War on Journalism by Peter Greste

"As I thought more deeply, I realised that our experience was  also part of a third, more obscure conflict between journalism and belligerents on both sides of what has become known euphemistically as the 'War on Terror'. "

This week has been a veritable slog in terms of waking hours with looming deadlines. I’ve had this particular tome for what seems like ages. I’d been fortunate enough to catch Peter Greste at last year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival and eagerly purchased a copy after his engaging talk.
It took me quite some time to get through the reading process. At first, I put it off because I feared the subject matter might be a bit hard to deal with and I had vivid recollections of how emotive Greste's presentation at the Writers' Festival had been.
When I did finally get some time to finish reading, I was, yet again, entranced by the subject matter. Greste has a writing style that really draws you in and he raises some really interesting questions about the state of the world today and the complicated circumstances that journalists seeking to provide an objective view are faced with. When politicians and terrorists and everyone in between seek to frame issues with a black and white perspective of "with us" or "against us", reporting on the shades of grey becomes fraught with danger for the personal liberty and safety of those reporting.

I realise my description above is laboured; and that's why I'd suggest you skip straight to the source and read the book.

5 out of 5, it is a troubled world out there.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

"She was determined that this vacation, this holiday, unlike any of her relationships, would have a very good ending."

Embarrassingly I have watched the movie adaptation of this countless times. Only recently did I discover that the movie story was an adaptation. Naturally I ran out and bought the book. The novel doesn't play for laughs quite as distinctly as the movie. I suspect that lies in the genius of Jennifer Coolidge and Bret McKenzie ( I am a huge fan of Flight of the Conchords).

So I guess I've established the fact that both works are rather different. Nevertheless, they are both equally delightful. I love them both. New York graphic designer, Jane, inherits a rather unexpected vacation in an immersive setting that transports the participants back to the age of Jane Austen.

Dressed in costume and with a stack of rules of behaviour to adhere to, Jane is initially a little perplexed by her stay. A personable gardener appears to add a touch of potential romance, unlike the seemingly staid, Mr Nobley, whose entire demeanour seems rather irksome. Rather like Mr Darcy first appeared to Elizabeth Bennett.

I fear I've given away too much at this point. So, rather than re-tell the entire story, I'd say, grab yourself a copy and a nice warm cup of tea, put your feet up and enjoy some confectionery goodness.

5 out of 5 holidays with a dash of romance make life worthwhile.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

Leave it to Psmith by P.G. Wodehouse

“Love, Miss Halliday, is a delicate plant. It needs tending, nurturing, assiduous fostering. This cannot be done by throwing the breakfast bacon at a husband's head.”

Another excursion into the world of Blandings Castle seemed like a good idea. Another point in its favour was that it meant I could tick off the entire list of the 25 most stylish men in literature. If you're a long time reader, you will know of my deep, abiding love of list fulfilment.

So, how to describe the contents of this particular Wodehouse work? Well things are much as you would suspect should you be familiar with his work. I really loved the recent television outing of the Blandings castle novels and this one combines with the Psmith series. Psmith is, well he's something else and the P is silent. Prepare for some umbrella theft, mistaken identities, assumed identities, jewellery theft and general shenanigans.

While published in 1923, this one still retains its sparkle.
4 out of 5 jewels aren't to be sequestered away.