Sunday, 16 May 2021

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem


"Like a jazz musician improvising, or a surfer looking for a wave, or a bird riding a current of air, you'll be rewarded by moments where everything comes together."

I've wanted to read this for quite some time now and was definitely not disappointed. Gloria Steinem is my spirit animal - someone that can't sit still and understands both the appeal and rewards of travel, apart from all the other amazing work she has done. Ms Steinem is the kind of woman that makes me think 'what the hell am I doing with my life', as I would have to never sleep again to attain her level of accolades and yet she gives us the gift of this book that talks about the importance of listening intently and acting where possible, of finding out what the big, wild, world has to offer and cherishing its lessons.
A love story to the road, to women and to a full life. Its hard not to feel charged up after reading this delightful read, as delighted as you'll be by a torrent of anecdotes, there's an underlying impetus to continue the journey in your own fashion, at the very least so you'll have interesting tales to spin in old age.

5 out of 5 - grab yourself a copy for your next trip out there in the big unknown.

Luster by Raven Leilani

"To be unemployed and wearing his wife's jeans is concrete."

Is 2021 the year of Millennial Soft Porn? Okay, I'm kind of joking here, nevertheless this debut novel is chock full of awkwardly unemotional sex and sexual commerce. A young black artist, Edie,  living in squalor ( well actually cockroaches are everywhere) dates an older man who takes her to Disneyland on their first date - hello red flag. Things get stranger and stranger as she meets the man's wife and becomes  a fixture of the couple's life. The white couple had adopted a young black girl and the wife is perplexed as to how to deal with her 'otherness', next thing Edie has moved in and things just get rather strained. All of these situations combined make for some truly problematic circumstances and part of the appeal of the novel is to find out where the hell this ride is heading.

As a debut novel, it is impressive, even if it feels that all the characters are rather unlikeable and troubled, perhaps that is part of the appeal...trying to make sense of a crazy world.

4 out of 5 - everyone just needs a decent hug.


Milk Fed by Melissa Border


"I could never tell if other people genuinely believed their own bullshit or not."

Milk Fed was an unusual book club read and raised some delighted banter about frozen yoghurt. Melissa Border has an amazing way with words and the novel begins strongly appealing to the constant battle most women face with counting calories and trying to appease our mothers - or maybe that's just me?

Rachel has a healthy fantasy life which seems a lot healthier than her dietary obsessions. Broder's inner depictions of her heroine's fantasies practically drip off the pages. Rachel genuinely seems lost but constantly seeking reassurance and love in all the wrong places. Her chief desire is the one frozen yoghurt treat she permits herself per week, however her control will be tested when she meets Miriam, who represents freedom from calorie counting, but is herself restricted by religious customs. Rachel's attempts to fit into Miriam's Jewish Orthodox family are painfully awkward. One senses that Miriam is just like a calorie-laden dessert, an overwhelming desire, that once sated quickly loses its appeal.

A speedy and enjoyable read, that perhaps lost my undivided attention about three-quarters through. That's not to say it isn't great, just that it failed to resonate quite so strongly as the plot played out. Ultimately, I wanted more for Rachel than ephemeral lust, but then again, maybe she just epitomises the state of confusion so many of us find ourselves in today - looking for everything in one person, when the statistics suggest that is entirely unlikely.

In any case this book made me equal parts excited and hungry - never a good combination!!

4 out of 5 - get this girl some frozen yoghurt stat!!

4 out of 5

Friday, 9 April 2021

The Fashion of Film: Fashion Design Inspired by Cinema by Amber Jane Butchart


"The desire to shock, scare and thrill by depicting the supernatural is as old as the moving picture itself."

What a fabulous coffee book, combining twin passions of fashion and cinema. From the gorgeous cover featuring the amazing Jane Fonda, to the contemporary catwalk interpretations of classic cinema this is a feast for the eyes.
If you've lusted over Catherine Deneuve's YSL in Belle de Jour or felt a pressing need to buy multiple cheongsams after watching the unforgettable In the Mood for Love, then this book should take pride of place on your display cabinet and will end up particularly well thumbed.
Fantasy and desire are enveloped in visual escapism personified by the silver screen and Butchart's book will give the uninitiated a quick course in cinematic looks. Interestingly there are a few films referenced that even this devoted cinephile has yet to experience and that adds an extra flourish.

4 out of 5 - I long to be as fabulous as Michael Caine's sunglasses in The Italian Job.

The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club #1)by Richard Osman


“At least I have discovered that online dating is not for me. You can have too much choice in this world. And when everyone has too much choice, it is also much harder to get chosen. And we all want to be chosen.”

Richard Osman is probably best known as a comedian with appearances on various UK panel shows and probably the least likely candidate to be the next Agatha Christie, but sometimes the most unlikely person can really deliver.

When I read the premise about a group of pensioner sleuths I was in, I mean one has to have some aspirations for retirement! This novel was chosen for my bookclub and it perhaps wasn't the best choice for that format because there's not a lot to discuss. Its more one of those enjoyable reads that don't require much discussion, just comfortable enjoyment.

Possibly the perfect Mother's Day present, but equally appealing to all ages. Sign up for the Thursday Murder Club, not since Jessica Fletcher have the more mature sleuths out there had such intriguing exemplars.

5 out of 5 retirement homes wish they were this exciting.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Themes and Variations by David Sedaris


“If you think I’m putting my bra back on for this bullshit, you are so sorely mistaken.”

David Sedaris is an uncommonly good writer. He captures the crazy minutiae of the everyday in a way that is hysterically funny and consistently compelling. I was introduced to him by a guy who I used to be friends with. So, even friendships that end leave a positive residue - in this case familiarity with a fantastic writer.
I had the pleasure of meeting David Sedaris at two book signings with said ex-friend. His quips at those meetings and the adorable message he wrote in my book affirmed my undying love for Mr Sedaris. If you ever get the chance to see him live, do it!!
This rather brief essay is the antidote for the misery on your television screen. Turn off the news and hook into this.

5 out of 5 - definitely worth putting your bra on for.

Dead Man Switch(Book #1 A Billie Walker Mystery) by Tara Moss


“It wasn't a fancy space. It didn't need to be. Clients didn't come to her for interior decorating tips.”

I was torn on this one initially. Getting into the novel took a little time because I was distracted by the length of prose dedicated to dresses and earrings. Another aspect that jarred was the overtly film noir stereotypes. I'm a big fan of Tara Moss and think she's an excellent human from what I've seen of her, so my expectations were very high.

The mystery of the novel certainly dragged me in once I got over my initial concerns. I love noir, I love a mystery, this should have totally won me over. Part of its charm was the Australian setting which I found endearing at times, and jarring at others. Whenever any character said or did something that seemed quintessentially noir, but not particularly local to Australia; I was taken out of the tale.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this trip back in time and while my praise seems less than effusive, that perhaps links closely to the expectations I had. Confusingly there are two versions of the title and I stupidly bought the paperback and the kindle, such was my enthusiasm for the premise. This broken reader who has avoided dating since breaking up with Voldermort wanted some romance for the protagonist. At least one of us should be having more excitement in that area.

Perhaps that was what was lacking and maybe that will be developed as the series progresses. Reading about another workaholic is not the escapism I need right now. Putting that aside, the novel certainly held my attention and the tale was interesting.

4 out of 5 Sydney, back in the day, also had some seedy characters