Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby, Jeremy Leggatt (Translator)

“I would like to be a part of all this hilarity, but as soon as I direct my one eye towards them, the young man, the grandmother and the homeless man turn away, feeling the sudden need to study the ceiling smoke-detector”

Quite possibly the best novel to read when feeling sorry for yourself. I guarantee after reading it you will feel better about your circumstances and possibly have nightmares about being shut-in. The lengths that this man went to in order to write this are nothing short of miraculous and yet it is the beautiful, evocative prose that really resonates.

This is one of those rare occasions where I had watched the movie adaption previously and I think that possibly impaired my appreciation of the source novel. Not really sure how to say much more on this one to be honest.
5 out of 5

Why Kill the Innocent (Sebastian St. Cyr #13) by C.S. Harris

“Now in his fifties, he was monstrously overweight, endlessly self-indulgent, notoriously dishonest, and reviled by the same populace that had loved him so long ago.”

This should have been a home run. I was unable to bear weight and had nothing to do but read. Heaven I hear you say. Doubly so because I had the latest Sebastien St, Cyr novel to hand. Alas my foggy brain would have none of it! In what I can only describe as a wickedly cruel fog, my brain resisted the urge to read.

Then, one fine day, the fog lifted and I was able to launch back into the mystery of the murdered piano teacher. Royalist plot? Dodgy husband? What is behind the murder of Jane Ambrose?

Naturally there will be drama with Sebastien's inlaws and who knows who else. Death, drama, intrigue all lay ahead. Did I mention there's a frost fair - perfect for those Doctor Who fans who know what really lies under the ice.

 5 out of 5 - like Britney says ... gimme more.

5 out of 5 piano teachers should not tinkle away prematurely.

The Devil's Candy by Julia Salamon

"Perhaps there would never be a perfect Maria — outside the realm of Tom Wolfe's imagination."

There is nothing more interesting in a non-fiction story than the contributing factors of a colossal disaster. Sometimes all the drama culminates in critical success a la Apocalypse Now, and then there's Bonfire of the Vanities.

Translating a massively successful, enormous novel to the big screen makes for an entertaining read. The laboured casting sessions, the quest for the perfect vision of the Concorde and drawing in the very people the original novel satirised. This is fun because as the reader, we are removed from the pressure cooker.

For anyone who has ever had to deliver something impressive to time and budgetary constraints, you will appreciate the struggle of De Palma and co.

I read this on the recommendation of the fabulous chat10looks3 podcast and as always those ladies know how to pick em!

If you are a cinephile with a penchant for schadenfreude then grab yourself a copy and settle back.

 5 out of 5 , get my good side.

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan

“Self-consciousness is the destroyer of erotic joy.”

This is not my favourite McEwan work and I think that’s because I’m just not in the mood for torture at the moment. A couple are swept into a horrendous occurrence and the fallout is strange to say the least. Tragedy, obsession, this slim volume has all of that in spades, and perhaps that was what I found so difficult to deal with.
Running to help save a young boy from a ballooning accident, the protagonist locks eyes with another man and further drama ensues as the second man becomes obsessed with him. I’d had a hard week and this ‘debbie downer’ of a novel really wasn’t the antidote. I’m sure I’ll re-read it some other time and review it more favourably. It contains some really stunning writing that I just wasn’t in the mood for. For now, I think I need something more upbeat.

4 out of 5 what comes up must deflate.

The Blood of an Englishman (Agatha Raisin 25) by M.C.Beaton

"Charles noticed that Agatha insisted on repairing her make-up before approaching Gareth Craven’s house.
His fears that Agatha might be in the grip of one of her unfortunate obsessions died when he met Gareth. The man was handsome, but in rather a weak way."

Breaking my ankle has really put a spanner in the works of my novel reviewing. I finished number 25 of the Agatha Raisin series back when I had two functioning legs and my brain was addled by lack of sleep and work stress. One's priorities shift when one's abilities are impaired.

Anyway, I'm trying desperately to recall what happened in number 25 but I remember that I enjoyed it immensely and was super eager to explore the next edition. The details are slowly coming back to me. There is a rather horrific death at a pantomime that sets the scene for gory drama. Not enough Bill Wong for my liking - let's face it he has now become my favourite due to James Lacey's ambivalence and Sir Charles's unreliability. Okay I still like Charles I just don't want Agatha to wind up with him.

 5 out of 5 enjoyable antics.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Being Black ‘n Chicken and Chips by Matt Okine

“I had a pokey little pigeon chest with scrawny arms like chicken wings, and legs that resembled two bendy, brown chopsticks.”

There was a glorious time in my life when I used to wake up, jump in the car and listen to the adorable voices of Matt and Alex. I loved those guys so much and only really began to feel old when they surrendered their DJ duties on triple J. I’ve since followed both of them on social media and think back fondly of their daily entertainment. When I saw that Matt had written a book, I jumped straight on to  the Booktopia website and ordered up a signed copy.
Just as I loved to hear Matt talk about catching crabs with his Dad ( and of course when his hilarious father would ring in), I was equally enchanted by his literary stylings. The similarities between the author and his protagonist made this an interesting read for me. I imagined Mike as Matt from the way he used to speak on the radio and indeed the book is based upon his stand up show of the same name.
Usually I shy away from novels about parents suffering from Cancer, I always find that a little torturous. Okine, however, delivers such a beautifully nuanced piece of work that, much like life, peaks and troughs so as not to overburden the reader. Humour is all pervasive and perhaps the most effective parts of the tale are the cringe worthy coming of age parts of the story like school boy crushes and various accidents. There are so many themes that will resonate with the child in all of us, the feeling of needing to belong, of being different, of just having to survive childhood, along with those gem like hours where life, friends and love make everything special.

I would thoroughly recommend you get yourself a copy and dive on into the sometimes murky waters of a young boy growing up in the nineties.

5 out of 5, avoid the swamp.