Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

"This is an evil spot, princess, and we must leave quickly"

I was filled with anticipation at the prospect of a new Ishiguro novel, having absolutely loved the fierce intensity of Never Let Me Go  and the quiet reserve of The Remains of the Day. As such, I was quick to purchase a copy of this gorgeous looking book. So good looking I had to share the back jacket with you. Then, something happened... I started reading it in a slow, halting fashion that reflected the difficulty of the task at hand for the two, ancient,protagonists taking their final journey towards the truth.
When the true character of the novel revealed itself in a haze of dragon fog and Arthurian legend, I was somewhat disengaged from it and found progress plodded along at a crawling pace. This is a tale of memory and forgetting, taking refuge under the spell of a dragon that fogs memories of a wretched war. 
It was only at the end of the novel that I began to look upon it more favourably. It seemed appropriate on ANZAC weekend to reflect on a novel about wars and memory and trying to get over the destruction that war creates by forgetting and living in denial as an intriguing, yet ultimately unlikely way forward. We remember things, so hopefully we can not make the same mistakes again. Yet, when we look at history we know this is not the case. The war to end all wars was only World War One and today conflicts continue on a daily basis across the globe. Would a spell enable us to go forward in peace. I doubt it. Like, the ancient protagonists of the tale, we would always seek out the truth, regardless of how horrific it might be.

So, in short, I didn't particularly enjoy this book, but I don't think that is its point. It raises interesting questions.

4 out of 5 hidden memories tend to become unearthed.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Decent Ride by Irvine Welsh

"As his keks drop and Auld Faithful springs from his pants like the one o'clock gun, he's happy to endorse the playwright's plea"

I was lucky enough to secure a pre-release ebook for review from the publishers and unfortunately it has taken me way too long to write this review. Whinge over, let's get back to the book.

If you are a fan of Trainspotting, this world will be familiar, albeit from a different bent. Welcome to the world of cabby, Terry "Juice" Lawson. He is a definite pants man, old faithful, as he calls it, is impressive enough to allow this otherwise average guy to star in skin flicks. He has very little impulse control and can be the life of the party.
Life, it seems, wants to get in the way of that.
Queue, health issues, evidence of a chequered heritage, managing a brothel and whiskey bottle issues with a famous tv star client.
Everyone has issues, especially Jonty, some of the necrophiliac variety. If you've read Welsh before, you will no doubt be prepared for some of the more jarring aspects of his work and this one is full of them. There is also an inescapable black humour, mostly through Terry, that is somewhat infectious.
I probably left a point off because I felt as frustrated with my circumstances as Terry in the second half of the book, now you'll have to read up to work out what that means.

In any case, this is certainly interesting reading. I like Welsh's ability to literally write in different voices. It brings an additional challenge to reading quickly, but I love a challenge.

4 out of 5 golden girls aren't like this.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

"Will Rory be there this time?"

Neil Gaiman, how I do love thee, let me count the ways. You, who share my love for the Doctor and his Tardis and have so graciously included a who-vian extravaganza of a short-story hidden furtively in this intriguing and delightful collection of short stories. You,who consistently surprise and amaze, I apologise profusely for how long it has taken me to write this review.

Life, stress and a whole lot of crazy times have come between me and this review. A disappointing romance (low on the romance), a hilarious comedy festival outing with my amazing Melbourne friends and non stop work deadlines have cut a dent in my reviewing abilities. Fear not, I'm back!

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us return to the subject at hand. This glorious, and mixed up offering of tiny tales from the master of storytelling. I was lucky enough to get a little teaser of one of the stories read out by the author himself, on stage, on his wife, Amanda Palmer's book tour. There is a little something for everyone here with a vast of array of genre and themes explored.

I don't want to spoil it for you! Grab yourself a copy and discover for yourself.

5 out of 5, sometimes good things come in small packages.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Affliction by Laurell K Hamilton

"I made a small, helpless noise of happiness, and he laughed so deep a sound that it should have had teeth and claws around it."

Goodness, there was a moment there where I would never have believed that I would stick out the journey with necromancer, serial polyamorous lover of all things were , vamp and the like. Nevertheless, here I am about to wax lyrical about my latest interlude with Anita Blake.
Perhaps I need to get out more...

I think this particular outing represents a return to force. Ms Hamilton has managed to combine all the good bits and the story has a pace that entices. Did I mention stinky rotten zombie vampires? They make for some evil villains. Not to mention, a good dose of Micah, Nathaniel, Jean Claude, and a whole load of darling Nicky.

Anita gets to meet the parents when it comes to Micah’s family unit, but not in the way you might imagine. His Dad is rotting away and only Anita and one of my faves, Ed/Ted, and the rag tag gang can save the day.

I'd love to tell you more, but come on.. you know this is a guilty pleasure best experienced solo.

5 out of 5 hot, sweaty vampires ( can vampires sweat?)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Thirteen Roses Book 1: Before by Michael Cairns

"There were roses, the most beautiful red roses that smelled like a holiday, and were the colour of romance and belonged on a table in a tiny cafe in Paris."

A mysterious flower seller seems an unlikely entree into an apocalyptic zombie tale, but this one doesn't disappoint. I was fortunate to receive a copy from the author and I'm really pleased that I got the opportunity to post this review.

I think what makes this particularly intriguing is the quality of writing and the unexpected take on a rather familiar genre. I had to read this one on my mobile while enduring a particularly crazy working week and I think it says a lot about the writing that it held my interest despite the less than helpful interface and the distractions of competing deadlines.

A number of disparate characters linked by pungent flowers, mysterious figures and the threat of an apocalypse, well that certainly sounds like something that might draw you in, doesn't it?

5 out of 5 red roses by the dozen, unless its a baker's dozen.

Monday, 9 March 2015

The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham

“A bird in the hand was worth two in the bush, he told her, to which she retorted that a proverb was the last refuge of the mentally destitute.”

W. Somerset Maugham is one of those authors I tend to have a distinct response to, either positive or negative. For instance, I was deeply frustrated by Of Human Bondage  and yet loved Ashenden and The Razor's Edge.  That being said, I was a little ambivalent towards seeking out this particular novel.

I do love a good book recommendation and this one came from an Internet friend from far, far away.He clearly has impeccable taste and a weirdly accurate radar as to the kind of anti-heroine I would relate to. Kitty perhaps  will draw a response from all women, she is our frivolous dark side, bored by dull men; eager for adventure and yet ultimately somewhat trapped by convention.

She represents the last, best hope of her parents. The burden of expectations all built around the fleeting drug that is youthful beauty. Life, as it often does, gets in the way. Enter an unfathomable choice, a devastating realisation and a journey that appears to be the path to suicide.

I think the quote above exemplifies how gorgeous and clever the prose is and this is definitely a classic worth exploring. As per my friend John's recommendation, I'd urge you to check this one out too.

5 out of 5 girls would think twice about an affair with a toupee.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh"

"Their passion frightened her, and she came back from the confessional one day determined to put an end to it."

So this is one of those rare occasions where I've watched the movie before reading the book  and look how appropriate, my copy of the book is a movie tie-in.This one has been in my to read pile for an absolute age and going on my previous love of Waugh's other novels like Vile Bodies, I think I'd been saving it to savour.
That being said my praise is not completely effusive here. There are moments that are sublime, but it lacks the bite of some of his other works. This is more sad and reflective as, during the war, Captain Ryder revisits the scenes of his youth through his station at Brideshead as per the title.

As in Vile Bodies, Dipsomania raises its ugly head in the persona of Sebastian and his tragic story. My recollections, perhaps tainted by the cinematic excursion were more around the romantic tale and indeed the interlude of Julia and Ryder is rather fleeting but memorable.
For me this one seemed more about faith and love and relationships and frustration and guilt seeped out of the pages.

I think this one is a slow burn.

5 out of 5 memories fade.