Thursday, 28 July 2016

Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights by Salman Rushdie

"Why do you imagine your kingdoms - your fathers, your husbands, your sons and you yourselves - are safe?"

I had been eagerly anticipating another jaunt in Rushdie's fairytale worlds. Somehow this just left me a little cold. Sexually promiscuous jinn and a war between the dark and the light. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this. There are passages of beautiful writing, there are torrents of words. To be completely honest, I kept on getting distracted and just wanted it to end. So not exactly in love here.

3 out of 5 stars

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

"These people are amateurs. The ones in here as well as the ones outside"

Perhaps reading a book about a kidnapping by terrorists was not the best choice of reading material before jetting off to Europe for a holiday. Notwithstanding, Bel Canto,  is an intriguing novel that draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat. Part thriller, part musical odyssey thanks to the transformative voice of opera singer, Roxane Coss - one of the key characters of the tale.
Successful businessman, Katsumi Hosokawa is drawn to a South American country's Vice President's house for a birthday party in his honour. His presence is based solely on the ability to meet and be entertained by the world renowned soprano, Roxanne Coss. When the party is taken over by terrorists an atmosphere of guilt, fear and unexpected romantic interludes takes over and the story wafts through the air ike any grand opera.

I am not going to give any more away on this one. You will just have to seek it out. I think perhaps I took off 1 star, because the idea of armed crazy people is something peppering the news of late and not an idea I wanted to spend much time considering.

4 out of 5 parties end badly.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

These things happen by Greg Fleet

"But once, twenty-seven years ago, for a brief few hours, I was the king of Gay Mountain."

I remember seeing Greg Fleet one comedy festival ( I miss that about leaving Melbourne) and feeling slightly underwhelmed. "He seems like a junky", I thought to myself. Chances are at that time he was. Fast forward a good 7+ years ( I'm rubbish at time-keeping) and my good friend Nicki sent me a care package of must-reads including this one (signed by the author no-less).

Fleet is an engaging, self-deprecatory writer who takes his readers on a journey through the dark and often ridiculous times in an amazingly engaging manner. I was surprised at how much I related to his story and admired the mix of hilarity and pathos.
I really could not put it down, which is amazing given I was quite reticent to begin with.

While the author takes delight in some of his antics, he is perhaps at his most effective when he considers the impact of some of his less than savoury antics on his daughter and other relationships.

5 out of 5 comedians can even make you cry.

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

"I can teach you a lesson you won't forget in a hurry"

Another gem courtesy of my amazing bookfinder and general literary wunderkind, Nicki. This is a delight from cover to cover. Cute little Scottish sounding tiny men that love to cause a ruckus, combine with a feisty farm girl who's had about enough of her baby brother - what's not to like?

The world will never be the same without Terry Pratchett. Lucky for me I have quite a number of volumes to get through before I can mark all his work on my read list.

5 out of 5 wee little fellas are a chuckle.

Monday, 4 July 2016

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

"It was all very different from my previous fiction."

Having no idea about the content of this book before opening its pages other than a familiarity with Mantel's Wolf Hall , award winning historical fiction, I was intrigued to find it contained a strange mix of contemporary short stories.

The perplexing title stems from the final story, which, while not my favourite, delivered a dark and interesting tale. One of the tales that I found particularly harrowing (and brilliant nonetheless) was The Heart Fails Without Warning which brings the horror of anorexia to the fore. I also particularly enjoyed Harley Street, particularly in its descriptions of the sterility of working in a doctor's surgery (mind you I have no direct experience of this).

At its best the book recalls Roald Dahl's dark humour and for me, that's where it succeeds. Some of the stories failed to resonate with me, perhaps they deserve a second look - it had been a long week.

4 out of 5 kids will do anything for a puppy.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Lioness Rampant by Tamora Pierce

"You can't do anything from a grave, Liam"

The final instalment of the Song of the Lioness  series is a fitting finale. Alanna gets a new and temporary love interest who also manages to impart some new fighting skills. Her quest for a mysterious gem proves to be an action packed one. An old enemy is back thanks to her meddling brother. All this and more drama jam packed into a measly 300 or so pages.

Will Alanna find a man who lets her be the warrior woman she is? Will her homeland be saved? I'm not about to tell you, you will have to have a read for yourself. I just wish there was more. I am reassured that there are plenty of other Tamora Pierce stories for me to explore.

5 out of 5 lionesses run rampant.