Month: April 2017

Review: The Thirst

The Thirst
The Thirst by Jo Nesbø
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Harry is back and he is also back to being brilliant. Grippingly, gruesomely and as cleverly as ever, properly back. Of course he is in mortal danger, of course he is chasing a guy who is utterly foul and of course a series of murders which nobody else has a clue how to solve are enough to bring him out of retirement. There will be screeds of reviews on Goodreads about this book and I’m pretty sure that there will be an outpouring of joy by the Harry fans who have missed him and who were disappointed in his last few outings. I love so much about Harry, his flawed and impetuous nature, his total disregard for the rules and the way he talks about music all through the stories.

All my old favourite characters where here in this book but the great thing about Jo Nesbo is that you don’t really need to have been following the series religiously to pick a book up and read it. If you like Scandinavian crime this is a really good return to form.

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Review: The Severed Land

The Severed Land
The Severed Land by Maurice Gee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maurice Gee can write a decent fantasy that is for sure! Some of the best things about his books is that they are not over written nor overly long. He is the master of showing not telling. This book is just heaving at the seams with rollicking action. Great characters who have missions to complete and once the story really gets going there is wall to wall action.

A wall divides the land, a wall of some kind of impenetrable substance which only very few are able to pass through. On one side of the land war between several tribes rages, on the other side of the wall, where the man who holds the wall up with his mind lives there is a kind of peace. Fliss is tasked with taking care of a young man who is one of a tribe at war with another, he is being hunted by a man who wants to kill him, he is Kirt. His sister is being held by one of the tribes and he is desperate to save her, but she is also important to Fliss because she is the only person who will be able take over the task of keeping up the wall. Fliss needs to safely get herself, Kirt and his sister back through the wall and save their world.

I don’t think it is a perfect book, but it is full of action and will definitely appeal to those who want a great fantasy with an interesting world which feels ancient but yet familiar and which is short and easily digested.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a book! I’m predisposed to like any book by Margaret Atwood, I like her style, her politics, her rapier sharp mind and the other books I’ve read a lot. This book is one of those books that you have heard so much about over the years that you feel like you know it before you even open the pages, but when you do start it is so rich and vivid that you realise that anybody who talks about it may well have a different reading experience from you, and see it very differently depending on their life and experiences. This is a book you can read for the story, which is so well done or you can read it as a commentary on a possible future or even what has happened to women in the past.

There so much ‘stuff’ in this book, so many ways you can see parallels with life as we now know it. Scary stuff. So many thinky thoughts about how control works, the whys and hows of how society can change in a second. A book to haunt you. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on the screen too.

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Review: The Room of Lost Things

The Room of Lost Things
The Room of Lost Things by Stella Duffy
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have enjoyed reading this so much, I’ve been looking forward to getting back to it between reading sessions and thinking about it when I was away from it. Stella Duffy is coming to Dunedin next month for the Writers and Readers Festival and I’m looking forward to meeting her. I had read her earlier books ages ago but this one I think is the best one I’ve encountered. Robert Sutton is ready to retire, for all of his life he has been running the dry cleaners in a suburban London street. By cleaning the local residents clothing he has an insight into their lives, their misfortunes, their affairs of every kind. People leave clues to their lives in their pockets, things like keys, receipts, jewellery and letters. Robert, and his mother before him have been collecting these lost things and storing them. Collecting them together, filing them in a special system and keeping them in a room above the shop secretly but methodically. Robert has had his challenges, his mother who was quite the handful, his wife who left him and took their daughter, but he is someone who the neighbourhood appreciates and who has a way about him which people appreciate. He is opinionated but kind and above all sometimes the only friendly face in a life of strangers.

Akeel is going to buy the business, he is earnest and willing and while he has major plans to make changes he agrees to work alongside Robert, learning the trade and being Robert’s right hand man. It is a relationship which is sometimes tense but also one in which the two men gradually become close and able to share their secrets.

This is a gorgeous slice of life. All the customers, their stories, the kids who hang around the shop, the pub across the road, the lives of ordinary people who live ordinary lives but who are in their own ways extraordinary. Ahhhhh it was lovely!

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Review: Into the Wild

Into the Wild
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read Jon Krakauer before and I thought I’d read this one too until I started it and realised I’d read about it, rather than actually reading the book. I got something I didn’t really expect, an interesting and thoughtful read about a young man who headed into the wilderness of Alaska and perished there. My thoughts on this guy changed a lot during the course of my reading, I went from thinking he was a fool, to thinking he was just and idealistic dreamer who was clever and interesting, if ill prepared for the undertaking he intended. I found the ending poignant, Chris’s parents visit the site of his death. Jon Krakauer has written this book with a sympathetic view of a young man who appears foolish on the face of it, I loved all the conversations with the people who had met Chris along his journey. It gave me much to ponder.

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Review: What My Body Remembers

What My Body Remembers
What My Body Remembers by Agnete Friis
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I so wanted to love this book, The Boy in the Suitcase is a book I loved to bits, I liked it because it was a different kind of mystery, one where I was guessing all the time, where I really liked the characters and where I really connected with the story. With this one though, I’ve just become really tired of it, I feel like I’m reading a puzzle with a bunch of missing pieces, but with so many missing pieces I can’t even get the edges done, let alone fill in the middle bits. At times the pace is great and the story races along but at others, I feel like I’m reading a scene I’ve already read.

The book was quite difficult to read because the formatting hadn’t been completed in any way, lots of running words together, odd pagination and it was a long way from fully formed, but that doesn’t usually worry me, this time because of the slow pace I found that it really did make it hard to read.

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me access to this, I’m sorry I didn’t love it more.

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Review: Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I saw very high recommendations of the audio book of this, George Saunders is a literary god in America, but this was just too weird for me. I had enormous trouble piecing the characters together, dozens of voices telling stories and talking but I couldn’t hold them all together in my mind. I found it annoying.

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