Friday, 26 August 2016

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

"That they should never let a magazine or dating site or matchmaker monster tell them they're in a lower bracket of desirability because of their age or weight or sense of humour."

I am a massive fan of Inside Amy Schemer, and was eager to get my hands on a copy of her book. I will try not to fan girl out too much in extolling its virtues; fair warning, that may be difficult. Billed as a selection of stories, rather than a fully fledged autobiography as she "has a long way to go" until she reaches that stage, the book is a delightful peek deeper inside Amy.

Who can't relate to the angst ridden journal entries of adolescence? There is a chatty honesty and immediacy that is just as infectious as her television show. Share this with your gal pals with whom drunken antics, failed romances and dick picks are sure to strike a chord. Lest you think this is all rather shallow, Amy's remembrances of her family and growing up deliver more than just laughs and considerable pathos. It would take a hard heart not to be moved by her reaction to the Trainwreck  shootings and campaign for gun control.

So Amy, don't go changing you are a sublime teller of tales and possibly still a bit of a hustler.

5 out of 5 swipes right.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

"Cedric's smile broadened, warming his features. Were his eyelashes longer than mine?"

Sometimes I'm a little embarrassed to admit my love of Richelle Mead's works. Yes they are aimed at a young adult audience. Yes, they essentially are all variations on the theme of a gorgeous young woman escaping the binds of some kind of social structure and in the process falling for the "wrong guy" according to her station, who turns out to be just right. They are also a lot of fun and well realised.
I wonder sometimes if my appreciation of such delightful flights of fancy is the sign of a hopeless romantic or of being an overgrown child. Now, enough navel gazing, let's talk about the book.

Lady Whitmore, Countess of Rothford is not looking forward to the prospect of an arranged marriage. Switching places with one of her maids she escapes to become part of the Glittering Court, an undertaking which overhauls impoverished girls into marriageable material for the well off men of Adoria. My chief concern with that conceit is that our heroine basically runs from one arranged marriage to be bought and sold in another, or at least that is what she is contracted to endure.

All these queries are put aside by a cracking pace, some fascinating characters and the lengthy eyelashes of Cedric Thorn. Will he be a thorn in her side? Will her cover be blown? Will blackmail, piracy and heretical religions keep her on tender hooks? I guess you will just have to have a read and see.

Once again, thanks go to my fellow book sharer Nicki, for lending me this lovely hard copy and I'm excited to see there will be more to come from Ms Mead in this series, namely Midnight Jewel focussing on Adelaide's friend Mira's adventures.

5 out of 5 glittering girls always command attention.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

"All the books from the Restricted Section and then some."

Can you resist another foray into the world of Harry Potter? I certainly could not resist and all praise iBook because I didn't even have to wait to indulge. If you are expecting something new and different then you are probably looking in the wrong place. This is one for the fans and revisits all the favourite aspects and locales that you know they'd be crying out for.
Hogwarts, time-travel and he who can not be named - this one has a little of everything. If your scar starts itching, you know trouble can't be far away and junior Potter and Malfoy might just be in the thick of it.

5 out of 5 death-eaters can really ruin your day.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Zero K by Don DeLillo

"Tableau vivant, I thought, except that the actors were dead and their costumes were super-insulated plastic tubes."

I'm not really sure that a depressing book about dying was a good way to spend my birthday book voucher. Perhaps it was indicative of the drama that surrounds the gift giver, or perhaps I'm just jet-lagged still and sprouting nonsense.
I found it rather difficult to immerse myself in the novel, due in part , no doubt, to the subject matter.

Ross Lockhart, an ageing billionaire, has put in a call to his estranged son Jeffrey to visit the compound of his new investment. A place where the sick leave behind their ailing bodies pending future cures. A strange labyrinth of empty offices and endless questions.

Jeffrey's journey into his own thoughts within the strange surrounds is complex as he learns he is to accompany his father to bid farewell to his father's love, Artis. Internal monologues haunt his musing wanderings. His father has more news and there is much to contemplate here.

Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more had I not been reading it on planes and between goopti transfers - a strange way to make my way around Europe. Jeff's conflict is reminiscent of the fog I currently find myself in.

4 out of 5 scary compounds have uncertain ends.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Life of a Good For Nothing by Joseph von Eichendorff

"She took some too and we sat together happily cracking nuts and gazing out into the silent landscape."

So your dad tells you that you are a lazy sod and off you trot, playing your guitar to pick up chicks, lying a garden sprouting poetry and eating nuts with the love of your life. Such is the life of a good for nothing.
This novella, at a lovely little 110 pages, was a quick win on the 1001 books I am really trying to get through list. It is also a blissfully meandering work that is gorgeously written and certain to put you in a dream like mood.

5 out of 5 meandering journeys are what life is all about.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins

"Females followed a simple rule: look all the males over, and go for the one with the longest tail."

It took me an absolute age to finish reading this sprawling book. The fact that it was on my iPhone was probably a contributing factor. Let me start by saying this was not the book to be reading as a divorced non-breeder around a milestone birthday that hints at the end of fertility, while engaged in a  tumultuous and most likely ill-fated romance. One doesn't need to hear the suggestion that playing coy might be the way to go for the female sex.

Despite that, there are some very interesting conceits included. Of particular interest was the notion of the "Nice guys finish first" chapter which looked at cautious benevolence as the most effective survival method, that is be nice, but don't take any crap if you want to come up trumps.

4 out of 5 genes like memes.

Malice Aforethought by Francis Iles

"It was not until several weeks after he had decided to murder his wife that Dr Birkleigh took any active steps in the matter."

It is hard to believe that this little corker was published way back in 1931 by Anthony Berkeley, there is something delightfully quirky and somewhat timeless about it. Certainly divorce is more acceptable today, however, it can still bring difficulties in relation to financial and social standing and murder of a spouse is sadly, still a possibility today. That being said, this tale is more of the comedic style.

 The pathetic lovelorn Dr Birkleigh, a notorious trouser snake, meets his match in lady player, Madeleine. Clearly in thrall, he begins to plot the murder of his annoying wife, Julia when she refuses to divorce him. His chemistry experiments prove lethal. The inner monologue of the beleaguered Dr Birkleigh will have you turning the pages with glee and will no doubt illicit the odd chuckle or two.

Getting away with his wife's murder might just be the start of Dr Birkleigh's complications, as you will discover should you read this yourself.

5 out of 5 opiates should only be consumed in moderation.

Questions of Travel by Michelle De Kretser

“Rome, like paradise, would gather her in”.

Lying on a beach chair on the idyllic island of Kerkyra with a button to attract the attention of the wait staff is probably the most decadent and wonderful way to lose yourself in a book about travel. Have I made you jealous yet? Fear not, I also spent plenty of time lodged firmly in an economy size aeroplane seat devouring the  same pages.

Winner of the 2013 Miles Franklin award, this novel has been sitting in my must read pile for quite some time and I admit my own travels have gotten in the way of me reviewing it. It involves an interesting exploration of travel through the divergent stories of its cast of characters, Laura a travel writer who has escaped from Sydney and Ravi, who is fleeing the torment of his murdered wife and child in Sri Lanka. Whereas other novels might have brought these two together in a romantic context they exist as a strange convergence of cultures, orbiting the same places, drawn together by their work and yet always apart through their very different perception of the world through which they travel.

Do not expect an upbeat ending; instead enjoy the journey and commentary.

 5 out of 5 times a thick novel is what will get you through a long haul flight.