Thursday, 18 October 2018

The Devil in Amber (Lucifer Box 2) by Mark Gatiss

"He looked awfully dishy in that nice blue uniform. I gave him an encouraging smile and, not for the first time in twenty-four hours, asked him nicely to take it off."

Sometime in the wee hours of the morning, when I couldn't sleep courtesy of a horrific selection of pillows in my temporary apartment ( the joys of interstate work), I managed to finish this enjoyable read. Certainly, I am currently a little delirious, but don't let that stop you from taking my word for how much fun this is.

The sequel to the delightful The Vesuvius Club,  which I've reviewed earlier in the year, represents a shift in genre. While the first novel was more of a bi-sexual James Bond, here the element of the supernatural is introduced, with the hero, Lucifer Box ( love the name) facing off against that guy who really likes the number 666, amongst others.

During the proceedings Lucifer manages his usual fun romantic interludes with the better looking specimens of both sexes. At first it seems his main concern is the potential of being made redundant, but there is much more at stake. Not to mention we get to meet his rather hideous sister, who seems totally like a Trump voter (USA),  Brexit fan (UK) or admirer of Pauline Hansen ( Australia). You get my drift, my well read friends.

Once again, Gatiss reconfirms my affections for everything he does. I've seen some love it or hate it reviews for this one, I'm definitely feeling the love.

5 out of 5 sexy spies must go through a lot of laundry

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

"The taste of tea and something wild and sweet A fierce need stoked inside."

I absolutely ate this one up with a spoon. Such a great Australian thriller writer.
The lead character's deafness is an interesting quirk that lends an extra something to the proceedings. In some ways it is his super power.

This has violence, murder, sex, intrigue,. crooked cops, a trip to Geelong - there's a lot going on. Caleb Zelic just needs to find out what exactly before he, or someone he cares about, becomes the next victim.

Rather than ruin this great read by giving too much away, I'm just going to heartily recommend it instead. Works fantastically for a plane read, and would be just as easily digested this summer on the beach. If you're a crime fiction fan, get on board.

The good news is it looks like the beginning of a series and I look forward to reading more of the same.

 5 out of 5 - the lips of dead friends are hard to read.

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

The Russian women undercut the rest of us. They siphoned the money out of all the wallets.”


Despite my best efforts to try and get ahead of the game, it seems I’ve only finished one of the shortlist for the Booker Prize this year and the announcement of the winner is imminent. This is my first introduction to Kushner and it is an interesting voice. I’d have to say this isn’t one of those linear narratives, there are a lot of interweaved stories.

Set for the most part in a women's prison (when not in the strip bar of the title), it seemed to be the perfect choice of reading material for this prisoner of deadlines and stress. Fear not gentle reader, this too shall pass and hopefully not in the distant future like a life sentence.

I'm sitting here trying to recall more detail, but to be honest, work has friend my brain. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

4 out of 5 strippers have a story too.

Friday, 5 October 2018

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

"Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be."

I was feeling a little low this week after a breakup. Not so much over the breakup which is honestly a positive, but that feeling of remorse, of wasted effort and time. In that vein it was really difficult to concentrate on the other books I was reading. I cast them aside momentarily and launched into this. I think mainly to reassure myself that love actually exists, even if it is something that only other people seem to experience for real.

I was late to the Joan Didion bandwagon and yet was well acquainted with the work of her husband. I'd love his writing in Vanity Fair. His style of writing was at once personal and inclusive, while retaining a sense of Hollywood. This depiction of his death and its aftermath is painful and yet beautiful. What a void, a chasm, is created within moments when someone whose whole life is intimately entwined with yours ceases to exist. Is it any wonder that death is such a difficult thing to deal with? One minute you're making shopping lists and discussing the minutiae of life and the next... nothing. Discarded attempts to re-start hearts and noisy sirens.

Dunne's death is not the only horrendous thing that Didion has to deal with; her daughter is, at the same, time, fighting for her life in hospital. Life isn't easy but it seems particularly difficult here. Didion delivers with painstaking eloquence the trauma of her stage of mind and as difficult as it is, there's something reassuring here.

Her relationship with her husband is something so beautifully remembered  that makes the loss all the more palpable. I hope one day I finally find someone like that. Someone smart enough to understand what I'm saying, secure enough to be supportive, rather than to denigrate and at the end, some one who will be missed or will miss me. This is in stark contrast to the Dirty John  podcast I'm currently listening to, which unfortunately rings way more familiar at this point.

Life, it seems can be over well before you are ready for it. We all deserve a good one and to be loved, and missed. By the end of the book, Joan Didion  sounded okay and I think that made the book easier to deal with.

5 out of 5 losses are only possible if you have something to begin with.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

My Purple Scented Novel by Ian McEwan

" I simply enacted what others might only have thought."

A rather amazing short story. It is so delightfully evil. Let's face it I'm feeling a little like misbehaving after one completely disappointing week. On the plus side this slim little book was a win. The depths that the protagonist sinks to are unbelievable and yet believably rendered.McEwan is in top form here.

Ever been jealous of a friend's success? How far would you go to redress the balance? Well, if you are Parker Sparrow a reversal of fortunes requires some fiendish effort. If you want a quick read ( and I mean quick at 34 pages) this will hit the spot. I suggest you put the kettle on, and read this on your tea break, unlike demoralising romantic entanglements, this one will leave you satisfied.

5 out of 5 and the best part of my week.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

the Realms of the Gods, The Immortals IV, by Tamora Pierce

"That's the trouble with being so tall, she thought, not for the first time."

Well I've finally cracked the one hundred mark. That is one hundred books read this year and this happens to be the very book in question. It also happens to be the final chapter in  The Immortals series, one which I very much enjoyed.
Daine has grown in age and ability since the first novel and now she is hanging out with the Gods in the immortal realm.
A fantastic reunion is afoot, along with mystery, war and just a hint of romance. Yes, this one packs a heck of a lot into 347 pages. The questions of Daine's parentage are finally explained and are pretty impressive. Indeed, this is anything but a boring read. My only regret is that I've finished the book and now my time is Daine's world is up.

 5 out of 5 talking beavers gods are unusual to say the least.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

“When I am optimistic, I choose to believe that every life I lead, every choice I make, has consequence. That I am not one Harry August but many, a mind flicking from parallel life to parallel life, and that when I die, the world carries on without me, altered by my deeds, marked by my presence”

Lately, I have a particular fascination with books about time travel or eternal youth, be they the Outlander series, the book I read this month How to Stop Timeor my ongoing appreciation of all literary vampires. I say lately, but honestly, I think the subject has always held my imagination in thrall. Now that I am beginning to see signs of dreaded ageing, my interest has been amplified somewhat and perhaps that is what drew me to this novel. I’d just finished the book in my bag on the train and was en-route to the dentist’s office without any supplementary reading material. A potentially horrid situation that was put to rights by a quick dash into Dymocks in Sydney. I’d seen this book before and managed not to succumb to buying it, however this was a book emergency and it seemed to fit the bill.
Harry August lives more than one life, none of which are boring. In fact, the first three quarters of the book were spellbinding. I mean a man who never really dies. Well he dies, he just remembers all his lives. He even becomes a spy — it is like this story was devised purely to tempt me. All was going so well, a secret society — oh you know how much I adore a secret society (and with a name like the Chronos Club —  so appealingly steam-punk) — was icing on the cake and then; well then, Victor came along. I’m not a fan of Victor. I’m not a fan of his tale. That didn’t stop me reading and it doesn’t make the book less than stellar, it is a mere quibble of mine about the story in its entirety.
Perhaps you will find Victor more intriguing than I did. Something about him gave me a faint whiff of  errant posh school boy and that was not a positive thought. Now, I’m not alone in enjoying this book, it was nominated for a raft of awards and secured the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2015). I’ll be interested to see what my fellow fan of time-bending fiction, Nicki, thinks of this one when I lend it to her.
5 out of 5 deaths are permanent…or are they?