31 December 2012


Favourite Reads of 2012 ... and it isn't that easy!

This year there haven't been any that have grabbed me by the heart and become all-time, close-to-my-heart, favourites ... but there have been some damn fine, entertaining reads :

~ perfect pre-reading for my New England Road Trip
yet to be reviewed 
~ Oh my! Breathtaking!
An engrossing, disturbing, memorable book
~ Awesome! Just loved it!!!
And now I think I'll have to read some Dickens!
~ Wow! North Korea is another world entirely
Almost like sci-fi!
~ Excellent use of voice;
Masterful suspense.
~ Excellent page turner,
Gotta love a psychopath!
~ Chock-a-block with interesting trivia;
Totally readable, totally riveting!
~ Non Fiction, Mexican travel diary
Another "if only I'd read it before visiting Mexico!!!!"

15 December 2012


Interesting Web Sites:

2013 Tournament of the Books

08 December 2012

The Night Surfer ~ Alpheus Williams

***** FAVOURITE *****

A dystopian present
Myths of old become a portent of our future

The Night Surfer is a wide ranging read in terms of location and time. The narrative is set on the coast : Emerald Beach, Australia and Santa Cruz, USA but there are also links to the rugged coast of Ireland. If you have an interest in Celtic myths, and how the storytelling of old is portent to our future, then you will find it here. 
I loved the imagery and mysticism of Amma and the stories she passes on to Frank (I will always be drawn to run my fingers over knitted cables to find the hidden “stories”).  These myths give the family lineage of the Night Surfer, Matty.

The main characters, Orson and Buster, on opposite sides of the Pacific, try to unlock the secrets of the strange events surrounding Matty’s disappearance.  Their efforts put them both in danger, and you are never sure who is good and who is evil, who you should trust and who will do you harm.

(This gives me the chance to say that immortal line : "Dear Reader, I married him.") 

Available now on Amazon

07 December 2012

Where'd You Go, Bernadette ~ Maria Semple

 **** RECOMMEND ****

Tournament of the Books : 2013

A farce paced ride
A compulsive page turner with a screwball edginess

By golly, does this take you along for a fast (or farce) paced ride!  And while it is a screwball comedy it is also full of pathos and funny/sad observations of the Subaru-driving, Microsoft-working, status-obsessed denizens of Seattle.

I thought the book had a terrific sense of place, just needed a coffee in my hand and I felt like I was in Seattle!  (I'll have to take the author's word for the Antarctic!)  Location almost has as important a role as the characters, providing a cultural landscape for the action.  The narrative is well crafted and far from ordinary.  The tightly woven plot is provided through the documents, emails, journal entries and other information accrued by Bee who is trying to find out where her mother, Bernadette, disappeared to ... and that is a lot more quirky than it sounds! 

The book is about relationships : within the family, between husband-and-wife and mother-and-child, with neighbours, the school community and co-workers.  It is also about motherhood and fulfillment.

Funny, clever, a rollicking read full of affectionate barbs and irresistible characters.

05 December 2012

How Should A Person Be? ~ Sheila Heti


Tournament of the Books : 2013 

Answer to the question : Bored Stupid
Get over yourself!!!

I jumped to the end in the hope that they all died ... sadly, they didn't!

This is self indulgent, fatuous, aimless, drivel filled with pointless minutiae.

This was stream of consciousness writing that bludgeons you into boredom.  I actually checked info on the author (aged 35), and at least I will give credence to the fact that she seems to be able to write the thoughts of a vacuous 20-something-year-old.  But Heaven help us if this is a true picture of what goes on in the mind of contemporary young women.

Instead of groundbreaking, I found the writing "style" (huh!!!) to be lazy and incomplete.  Maybe the sex scenes are what give the novel its fame (The "Fear Of Flying" of today???).  Fine, she writes "sex" with no emotion ... and that fits with the rest of the no "narrative" (Huh! again) where there is no emotional connection with the "characters" (huh!!!!).

04 December 2012

This Is How You Lose Her ~ Junot Diaz

**** RECOMMEND ****

Shortlisted : National Book Award 2012

Honest and depressing
Love and Yunior are the interwoven threads

This was a wonderful compilation of short stories, where each one left you both satiated and tantalised, annoyed that it finished but a little richer for having read it.

Yunior and his family are US immigrants from the Dominican Republic and Yunior is a womanising louse.  This gives the fabric of the collection for the threads to weave through, producing a rich tapestry of life.  Yunior is so easy to dislike (as a womanising louse!) but at the same time so easy to understand and identify his stupidity with relationships. 

I loved the sly humour, the sense of place and poverty, the street cred language, the trials and tribulations of love of family, friends and girlfriends. There were long portions of Spanish simply inserted into the text and translation wasn't needed as the tone and emotional direction of the writing was so obvious.  Clever writing, honest and depressing.

03 December 2012

The Color Purple ~ Alice Walker

**** RECOMMEND ****

Winner : Pulitzer Prize 1983
Winner : National Book Award 1983 
Finalist : National Book Critics Circle Award 1982

01 December 2012

Behind the Beautiful Forevers ~ Katherine Boo

** OK **

Winner : National Book Awards (non fiction) 2012
Finalist : National Book Critics Circle Award 2012

Not my cup of chai
creative nonfiction