Sunday, 19 August 2018

Warlight by Michael Ondaatje

"This almost anonymous person, balanced awkwardly, holding on to her own safety. Already incognito".

I am one of those people, and I feel like I'm in the minority, who didn't really enjoy The English Patient,  and yet I loved this. Here is a novel which is awash thematically with numerous threads. The idea of identity, of family, a spy novel, a coming of age story, the strange relationship between parents and their children; there is a lot going on here, That is not to disparage the mix of conceits in any way. Rather, its thematic richness adds to the appreciation of the text,or at least, it did for me.

There is perhaps a sense of remove from the characters, which is perhaps a necessity due to the enigmatic nature of portions of their lives. Is the narrator a believable one? What is really happening? Where are the missing parents of Nathaniel and Rachel and who are their "guardians"? Here lies the mystery framework that really draws you in. IN fact the whole novel was reminiscent of a 1940s Hitchcock film, well in my mind anyway.

I think this one would make a great bookclub book, because I have a sense that it would elicit a very different response from different readers and that always makes for interesting conversations. Also, if you are one of those people who likes to read the Booker prize would be contenders, well get on board - this one has made the long list.

Have you noticed the crazy world we live in today has really nefarious overtones that mirror the thirties and forties? I think that's why fiction set in those times resonates, unfortunately, so well today. Let's hope we learn from history - not that anyone ever learns from history - my dating life is a testament to that. If people read more instead
of indulging in hateful speeches in parliament, and/or the internet, perhaps we wouldn't be feeling this way. Just saying - rant over.

5 out of 5 is espionage genetic?








Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

"His sense of self was so fragile and contingent; it might dissolve like a watercolour in the rain."

Having been a big fan of St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose series, when I saw there was a new release from him I put it on the top of my to buy list and it speedily married. A chapter in and I'd realised it was an homage to King Lear and yet it took on a fresh and enjoyable voice. The novel is part of a series of re-imaginings of Shakespeare's stories by famous novelists and this is my favourite to date.

All the characters just bounce off the page in a kind of warts and all style that is irresistible. A billionaire media mogul finds himself at the mercy of his power hungry daughters, drugged and placed in an institution while they attempt a coop over his business. 

Thankfully, his youngest daughter has other plans and therein lies the drama. This book was my happy escape from a work week of seven days and countless hours that pushed my abilities to concentrate to their extremes. My only quibble was that it finished way too soon and now I have no more St Aubyn to lose myself in. If you're reading this sir, please continue with your writing as you have a captive audience here.


5 out of 5 family squabbles can be intense.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

No Bed For Bacon by Caryl Brahms and S.J. Simon

"In future, he decided, he must try to find time to read his plays before buying them."


What's a lady to do when she admires a playwright and longs to tread the boards? Why pretend to be a man of course. While the plot may seem decidedly like the movie Shakespeare in Love,  then you would be absolutely correct, and yet this one came first.
While at times a little melodramatic and not nearly as funny as I would have liked, this still has its moments. If you know me, you know how I love me some Shakespeare and I'll take it anyway I can.
My introduction to the novel was its inclusion in the Guardian's 1000 novels everyone must read list in the Comedy section. Having said that, if you seek tonnes of laughter this probably isn't the place. Not to say this isn't entertaining. Of course it is.

 4 out of 5 times there's nothing to shake a spear at.

King Suckerman by George P Pelecanos

"Clay put on his shades; Karras put on his."

I've had some stressful work dealings of late, so I look forward to an escape through literature. This books just did not do it for me. It is all over the place stylistically and I hated the senseless violence and the objectification of women. They just seemed to be there purely as a source of nudity and mainly nipples. This guy is definitely a boob man.

I only read this novel due to its inclusion on a list of the 25 most stylish men in literature and to be honest I am a little perplexed as to how they got there with this one. The writing is sub-par and ultimately i just lacked any interest in the outcome of the action.

One of those moments when I thought to myself, hmm... I just need to finish the pages.


2 out of 5 times driving around the block with hoods ain't all it is cracked up to be.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Romancing The Werewolf by Gail Carriger


"Those rare moments, among all the rest of his time as a drone, had also been the very best."

I welcome any excursion into the supernatural world of Ms Carriger, be it novel length or in this case a tasty novella. This is the second in the Supernatural Society Novella stories which showcase characters from the Parasol Protectorate series in "LBGTQ stand-alone romance novellas".
All those sexy vampires and werewolves in one place, sign me up!
That being said, this is very much romantic in content, there's a lot of longing and waiting and fabric choices. The trials of a bunch of beefy werewolves dealing with abandoned babies does make for some hilarious pages that I just ate up.
Yes, I certainly devoured this little tale on my way home from work and it certainly put a smile back on my dial.
Now I'm just counting down until the next one.

5 out of 5 longing looks eventually hit their mark.

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham by M.C. Beaton

"But his invitation gave her a warm little glow, and he was a wizard at fashioning her hair into that elegant style."

I needed another dash of Agatha Raisin in my train commuting life and after the excitement of her Cyprus based adventures, Agatha is back to village life. The weather is stifling, James has disappeared and a new hairdresser is about to do more than transform Agatha's do.

Is the wizard with the scissors a blackmailing gigolo, or just a star with a brush? Will Agatha fall for his movie star charms or will her dating life be interrupted once more with a murder? Prepare for the return of Charles for a little distraction as well.

Well this certainly made the morning commute fly by and I finished this adventure in a rather short amount of time.It is all too tempting to buy the next one on iBooks and continue on to see what's next for the crime solving Mrs Raisin.


5 out of5 , a good hairdresser is to be cherished.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death by M.C. Beaton

"Agatha blinked at him. She wished she had never gone to bed with him again."

Agatha is back from holidays and still on the outer with James. While her heart pines away a new murder mystery is sure to distract. Likewise a new gig in PR with the water company at the heart of the murder mystery and the upside benefits of a hunky new boss make for some rather interesting distractions.

Yes, I quickly finished the next instalment on the train to work and back. Such is the speed with which I devour Agatha's adventures. Except for the cats, I can kind of relate to her poor choices in male company and her easily bruised ego. Indeed I find her little world a welcome respite from the real one. Quite disturbing to think that village  murder mysteries are less problematic than the every day challenges of work. What is that about?

Will a fancy village fete draw out the answers Agatha seeks? Will James and Agatha once again join forces to fight crime. Seriously, will Bill ever wake up to how problematic his parents are in relation to his dating life?

Oh come on, do yourself a favour and crack open the covers. You won't regret it!


5 out to 5 bottles of water with a skull and cross bones are asking for trouble.