08 January 2011

My Mother She Killed Me ~ Kate Bernheimer (ed)

“Forty new fairy tales by assorted authors”
Missing the magic!

My love of fairytales is not “Disneyfied”; I know they are dark with an underlying malevolence but there is a moral and and a magic to them that I felt was missing in so many of the stories in this anthology.

There were a few that I enjoyed but most of them bore little resemblance to the fairy tale they were meant to be “inspired” by. They were grim or bizarre or confused. There were many that were just plain “duds”.

Some excellent writers contributed to the collection (eg Jim Shepherd & Neil Gaiman ... no wonder the word “dark” comes to mind!!!). My favourite would be the version of “The Little Mermaid” - a creepy, well nuanced short story.

An “Alphie” favourite but not my cup of tea.

07 January 2011

Jack London Photographer ~ Reesman et al (ed)

Coffee Table Book - large format with text, captions and glorious photography.
A social commentary in black and white.

Love Jack London as a writer and this book of his photographs is storytelling through the lens. This book of crisp, black and white photographs is photo-journalism through the eyes of a social activist.

There are chapters on the slums of London, the San Francisco earthquake, the Russo-Japanese War, sailing in the South Seas, the Mexican Revolution and more. Each chapter is introduced with information about the background to the historical context of the photos and photography techniques.

A wonderful historical study.

06 January 2011

Room ~ Emma Donoghue

***** FAVOURITE *****

Shortlisted : 2010 Man Booker Prize 2012
Tournament of Books : 2011

Wonderful use of “voice” of a 5 year-old.

A straightforward narrative - but with a twist. It is told through the voice of a five-year-old, Jack, who knows little of the outside world.

The “room” is the room that Jack and his Ma are imprisoned in. Ma was kidnapped as a 19 year-old and has been held captive for 7 years by a pervert.

A quick read but it stays in your thoughts after finishing. The narrative stays focussed and is well paced and plausible. It takes you through the background to the kidnap and imprisonment, the escape and the difficulty of adjustment to the world.

05 January 2011

Kill The Dead ~ Richard Kadrey


A “Sandman Slim” novel ... the return of Stark, the anti-hero.
Hardboiled Science Fiction / Supernatural Fiction.

Well written main character in a realistic set up (ok! so it is supernatural! ... Kadrey presents an well constructed other-world).

Lots of schlock-horror. It follows on well from the previous Sandman Slim without a lot of superfluous retell. Locating the story in Las Angeles was so apt - the underbelly of the city is almost a character of the book.

Reminded me of the early “Joe Pitt” novels ... but LA rather than NY.

04 January 2011

Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas ~ Hunter S Thompson


What a roller-coaster!!! All Uppers and Downers!

How was he able to put together such accurately observant sentences when his brain must have been totally fried??

A brilliant mind. Tight descriptive writing. So sadly funny, so sharply witty, so politically and socially astute.

03 January 2011

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet ~ David Mitchell

Longlisted : Man Booker Prize 2010

Not a bad good escape to Japan read. Set in an outpost of the Dutch East India Company, it follows the travails of upright and honest Jacob and his interest in a Japanese woman. He meets her when she comes to the “Dejima” to study western medicine.

Good historical detail with an interesting Dutch perspective. Well paced with strong, believable character development.

02 January 2011

Moonlight Mile ~ Dennis Lehane

Continuation of “Gone, Baby, Gone” .. a Kenzie & Gennaro novel.
Cliched and predictable.

While it is a continuation, happening a few years after the kidnapping of Amanda in Gone Baby Gone, it is a stand alone. But I feel that if this was your introduction to the detective partnership of Patrick and Angie you wouldn’t be that impressed.

Not a fav. Did he return to his popular detectives to please fans or refill his bank account? There is a lot of aggressive commentary re the Global Financial Crisis so maybe this was his inspiration or the impetus ... I don’t recall much political statement in previous works (so maybe he lost his nest egg with stock market collapse).

A pleasing holiday read with lots of threads - disappearance of Amanda, drugs, Russians, baby farming ... a little bit for everyone.