Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam (Agatha Raisin #10) by M.C. Beaton

“Agatha, reflected Charles, would never be a beauty, but she carried with her a strong aura of sexual magnetism of which she was entirely unaware”

Agatha is still mourning the loss of her relationship with James and feeling a little vulnerable. The suggestion of a fortune teller that her destiny lies in Norfolk, sees her pack up her house in the charming village of Carsely and rent a cottage in Fryfam. A village she settles on by sticking a pin into a map. Hardly an auspicious beginning and indeed, the new digs have their own sense of mystery.
 Weird lights in the garden support a local myth about fairies who have a habit of making off with bits and pieces from the largely unlocked houses in the area. When an expensive painting goes missing from the appallingly nouveau-riche, Tolly Trumpington-James. Apparently, he doesn’t’ just get on Aggie’s nerves, because the gentleman in question soon provides the body for another page-turning murder mystery.
The adorable, Sir Charles is back. I know he’s a bit of a bounder, but he’s way less of a wet blanket than James. Why Agatha doesn’t just enjoy the toy boy more often is beyond me. Sure, he picks on her, constantly forgets his wallet and trysts around a lot, but he’s always there when she needs a hand and often provides rather sage advice.
Can you expect the usual thrills and spills? Will fish out of water, Agatha endure more hilarious run-ins with the locals? Of course, that and more. Nothing like a little raisin to put a smile on my face. In further good news, apparently there’s a season 2 of the tv adaptations – hurrah! See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUPyO1K5i70. I love Ashley Jensen she’s such a great Agatha.

5 out of 5  - snoopy ex-PR mavens make for fascinating reading.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

10:04 by Ben Lerner

"What could be more contaminating than this remote control, which had been in how many sullied hands?"

I am completely torn on this one. Is it brilliant, annoying, or both? Probably both. The novel about a writer in New York suffering from a heart condition and also trying to help his best friend out by fathering her baby is verbose in the extreme. You can almost feel yourself trapped inside his head with thoughts flying around. Stream of consciousness writing bombards the page ( or in my case, in this instance, the e-book page - is it still a page?).

There are moments where this in-depth analysis of every move (every sight, every action)really works. Other moments where it seemed, to this reader at any rate, somewhat self-indulgent and annoying. What it does represent for me is, thankfully, another tick off the 1001 novels list - this one having been recently added to the fold in the latest 2018 edition.

Life is fleeting, maybe it is the minutiae that is important. For some reason the scene where the protagonist babysits a kid at the natural history museum and is desperate to use the loo, but not to leave the child, is one of the more memorable moments. That and the trip to the semen collection facility with the focus on hand washing and panic about the potential impact of Viagra. There's something infuriatingly infantile about him, as though he has zero agency and has to be pushed in any direction of note, or perhaps I'm projecting because of the author's first name.

4 out of 5 - don't drug the pigeons.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Time's Convert by Deborah Harkness

"Phoebe floated in a velvet darkness, sinking into folds of quiet."

Goodness me I've been awaiting this unexpected delight with anticipation since its announcement. I thought the All Souls Trilogy was all done and dusted. That I would never again enjoy the world of Matthew and Diana, save for the television series - which I've yet to embark upon.

This time Matthew and Diana are very much in the periphery as Marcus and Phoebe take the lead. That's not to say the domestic bliss of Matthew and Diana isn't fraught. Their children certainly bring the drama in this one with a faint whiff of  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  You may think I'm being particularly light on when it comes to details. You would probably be right in this assumption. I'm making sure I don't spoil the read for Nicki when she borrows the book.

The back story of Marcus is an interesting one and I certainly flew through the more than 400 pages. It is, as always, an entertaining world that Harkness creates, and one that I rather enjoy a sojourn within. Now that I've closed the final pages I'm left thinking.... but what next? Will there be more? I hope so!

This represents a nostalgic revisit into the All Souls world with a lot less romance. That being said, it is still great. I love the del Clermonts, although you would want to stay on their good side.

5 out of 5 vampire life is difficult... that's why I wear my sunglasses at night.

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.