fiction

The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld

Oh my this is grim! As I was reading it I was really hoping that it wasn’t based on the real experiences of the author, or anybody!

Jas and her siblings are growing upon a farm in The Netherlands. They fantasise about what life might be like over the other side of the lake. Then one sad winters day Jas’s brother disappears, he has drowned, fallen through the ice. The family begins to break, the tension between their parents is horrible. Jas tries to understand her feelings of pain and growing up with no adults paying attention and begins to behave in really damaging ways. All of this family are broken. Terrible things begin to happen and on top of it all their beloved cow herd become afflicted with foot and mouth disease.

This book was totally riveting. It was so awful, one of those books you can’t take your eyes away from because things get worse and worse but you are compelled to keep going, hoping all the while that Jas will come through this, that they will begin to repair themselves and that their mother will begin to eat again. There is creeping menace and there is tension, there is also a lot of wincing as situations unfold in front of you.

Broken people, harsh lives, uncomfortable and unpleasant and brilliant.

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

switchRight book, right time. I was in a bit of a reading slump, couldn’t find something that really appealed on my shelves and then Netgalley released audiobooks. Yay! This was my first and it certainly won’t be my last.

The narrators switch from Eileen a feisty elderly woman, voiced by Alison Steadman with humour and verve and Leena her granddaughter voiced by Daisy Edgar-Jones, who manages to perfectly convince as the frustrated and tired, overachieving businesswoman. I loved hearing their voices, the two different flavours added so much to the story.

Eileen is angry, having suffered her rather insufferable bore of a husband for years, he has taken off with another woman, left her high and dry and desperate for company, and a bit of sex to go with it. Leena has been treated badly at work, a coworker with very mean tendencies has worn her down and she is tired. Her boyfriend who seems so marvellous, is very absent which also doesn’t help. Both these women are still grieving for Leena’s sister who died a year ago from cancer. Then they come up with the brilliant idea of swapping lives, Leena will go to the country, live in Eileen’s house and Eileen will go to London and try the lifestyle there. And in this way, the action begins. There are challenges for both women of many kinds.

This book is fun, full of action, and lots of hilarious moments. Your heartstrings will be plucked, you’ll cheer at the village fair, squirm at the uncomfortable scenes which bring in some big issues such as family violence and infidelity, but overall you’ll have a really fine time. It is a great big dollop of feel-good drama.

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for access, I had a really good time. Must just up that rating to 5 stars

The Motion of the Body Through Space by Lionel Shriver

spaceI’ve been talking about this book since I started it. Lionel Shriver certainly gives you plenty to mull over while you read her books. Is it selfish to spend your time away from those who love you doing competitive exercise? To obsessively devote every moment to self improvement? To put your life at risk in order to achieve a goal? The Motion of the Body Through Space is posing some big questions and I was obsessed with this book. Is it ok to put your weekend aside to read Lionel Shrivers words and ignore all else until you are done? I have zero interest in exercise of any kind other than going for walks with my beloved dog. I think people are weird wanting to take part in extreme sports (climbing is the exception).

Serenata and Remmington Alabaster have retired to the quiet town that Remmington grew up in, they live a slightly dull, placid life there. They have a wayward son and a daughter who is married to an unsuitable man and who is constantly having children and talking about God. Serenata reads audiobooks for a living. Remmington has far too much time on his hands. Serenata has been a consistent exerciser all her life. Running miles and now that her knees are letting her down, spending time doing calisthenic exercises with a great deal of rigour. It turns out that her family have resented this, now Remmington has decided to take up running which leads him to triathlons known at Mettleman, a competition which is extreme and requires months of training. We follow his journey, the obnoxious characters he meets as part of his squad of fellow tri competitors.

It is obvious that the author is making a point with this book. She definitely has an opinion on extreme exercise, the self that is so vital to the pursuit of extreme exercise. I didn’t care. I loved spending time with these slightly weird people. It won’t be for everyone but polarising fiction is awesome. In a world where opinions seem to be getting dangerous in some ways, Lionel Shriver isn’t afraid to share hers.

Thanks to the Publisher and Netgalley for giving me access to this book.

Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare

I’m so pleased this lived up to the hype. I was hooked from the first page, gripping stuff! You are immediately caught up in Evie/Kate’s story. It is told in sections, what is happening now and in flashbacks to her life in Melbourne and the story leading up to her current situation. Evie is being looked after by her uncle Jim, she has only limited recollections of what happened. She has been removed from Melbourne to a small town in the Hawkes Bay of New Zealand, she isn’t sure how she got there. Jim is controlling everything, what she eats, when she can leave the house, he keeps her drugged and she is in hiding. Gradually, through the fog of the drugs she begins to put things together, the events of a night where a young man died, where she was drunk behind the wheel of a car and where Jim turned up holding something. 

The mystery of what happened is at the core of this book. It is cleverly and slowly revealed to the reader as the book goes along. I honestly didn’t pick the twist. 

This is contemporary, it is interesting and the action just hums along. I was totally hooked on this, read it in two days and am still thinking about it now. Highly recommended if you like a contemporary thriller.

The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone by Felicity McLean

This engrossing book had me hooked from the very beginning. Everything about it made me happy. The tone is light, from Tikka’s point of view as she reflects on the disappearance of her best friends and neighbours, The Van Apfel Girls, when she was a child. Tikka is home from Baltimore for a visit after hearing that her beloved sister Laura has cancer.

Ruth, Hannah and Cordelia and Tikka’s sister Laura, were inseparable, spending time walking together to school, playing made up games, sweltering in the heat together and cooling off in the pool. Their good times however are always overshadowed by the harsh nature of the father of the Van Apfels. He is bad tempered, ultra religious and believes in punishing harshly for even the smallest misdemeanour, minor infractions earn the sisters a beating and wrath. It is uncomfortable and it isn’t spoken of but Tikka and Laura know that their own happy home life is very different to that happening down the street.

It is 1992, Azaria Chamberlain was taken by a dingo and Lindy Chamberlain has just been exonerated, it is hot, so hot. The school is working up to the Summer Showstopper, a talent show at the end of the year, Tikka is writing a show based on the Azaria story. Meanwhile the older Van Apfel Girls plan to run away with Laura’s help while everyone is watching the Showstopper.

The story loops around and around as Tikka reflects back on the events leading up to the girls disappearance. There is a wonderful cast of characters, a creepy teacher, the sinister Mr Van Apfel, nosy neighbour, Tikka’s mum and dad who watch the activities of the neighbours.

I loved everything about this book, the point of view is fabulously written, Tikka’s voice is so authentic. As we circle around to the girls disappearance the tension is palpable, Seen through the eyes of a child we get a different perspective of the time after the disappearance than we would have if the book was narrated by an adult. Tikka the adult has so many unresolved emotions and the pain she felt as a child, the emptiness and loss she felt are with us from the beginning of the book and remain the whole way through. I loved her voice.

This is right up there for me in my picks of the year.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to this book.

The Fragments by Toni Jordan

The Fragments

The Fragments by Toni Jordan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This is a gem of a book. Right up with my faves of the year. It is a literary mystery and I’m always up for one of those.

Inga Karlsen was a beloved author, she and her publisher and every copy of her second book were killed and destroyed in a warehouse fire in 1938. This was a tragedy, the country and the world mourned because her first novel, All Has An End has become one of the most read books of all time. The world had such high hopes for her second novel, The Days, The Minutes and now nothing remains except for some fragments of pages, which have become a travelling exhibition, visiting art galleries worldwide. People queue to see these fragments, scholars study Inga and her life she is beloved still, even in death.

We also have Caddy, a young woman in Brisbane in 1986, who loves All Has An End, she has studied it and it has become part of the fabric of her life. She is standing waiting to enter the exhibition of The Fragments when she strikes up a conversation with the woman next to her in the line. This woman quotes lines from the destroyed book which doesn’t seem possible, how can she know these lines? Nobody knows them. Caddy is fascinated and begins to investigate. Along the way she meets Jamie, a rare book seller and he and she begin a love affair which I found just so lovely and heart-moving.

I can’t really put my finger on why this book appealed to me so much. Both storylines are glorious. Caddy with her quiet life, her observations of everyone around her, the steel beneath her quiet demeanour. And Rachel, whose life has ended up to be so completely different from where she started or thought it could be. This is a story full of tragedy and sadness but with moments of clear light and hope. It is written with a light touch about big feelings. I wanted it to go on and on and I want everyone to read it.

Thanks to Text Publishing and to Netgalley for approving me for this gorgeous book.



View all my reviews

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

ghostThe beginning of this book is so thoroughly creepy I was hooked from the first lines. A young girl tied to a stake about to be burned to death, everyone is watching and nobody is helping her. The tone changes immediately and you realise that you have been reading the ending and now you spend your time wondering how those horrific scenes will come about. Creeping menace, lots and lots of it, abound in this book!

Sil’s family are spending the summer in an experimental archeology exercise in Northumberland close to the moors and near to the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall. They are living life as it was in the bronze age. Wearing tunics, living in a primitive tent together, cooking over a fire and foraging for everything they eat. It is not fun at all. Sil’s dad is a domineering, bully of a man. Her mum is meek and mouselike. She is beaten and submissive to her husband. Sil has become used to doing exactly what her dad requires because it is easier and she is less likely to end up with bruises. The way that Sarah Moss has written him is so good, you really feel his simmering anger! Along with Sil and her family, there are 3 university students and their professor who are living the ancient lifestyle with them as part of their studies. One of the students is a young woman who becomes close to Sil and who, partly inadvertently, leads Sil astray and into danger.

This is a small book with a great big story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a book which would appeal to reluctant readers due to the instant entry into the action and the easy vocabulary. It is very well written and I’m going to be buying copies for school. I would recommend it for junior high school age students. Although it is set in Britain near the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall I think that young people anywhere would relate to it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this book.

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

ladderOne of the things I think John Boyne gifts to the world with his books is that they are all so different in storyline, but one of the themes that holds the books together is injustice. The victims of the protagonist in this novel, the odious Maurice Swift are treated so unjustly that it is heartbreaking.

Maurice is without moral fibre, you could call him a cold fish, he has no concept that furthering his own life, feathering his next with the ill gotten gains of others is a bad thing. His attitude is one of self serving, graspyness. Maurice is a talentless writer, that is a problem, he has no ideas for stories and therefore must steal them from those he meets, beginning as a young man and carrying on until middle age. He is completely ruthless and leaves the bodies of those who get in the way behind him. Maurice desperately wants a son and when he gets one he is heartless towards him, this seems to be the thing with Maurice, he wants so badly but it is never enough when he gets what he wants.

The structure of this novel is interesting. It is told in part by Maurice’s poor wife, a woman so talented but having to deal with his petty jealousies, his social ineptitudes and the dreadful way he treats her and those people who are admiring of her. Maurice just cannot bear to be out of the limelight. He was shortlisted for The Prize, which we assume is code for the Man Booker, and that was his peak, but even this story is stolen because he is completely without original thought, other than finding crafty ways to steal stories from others. We travel the world with Maurice to Berlin, New York, the Amalfi Coast, various locations in England. Some of the scenes are written so well, I was blown away. The scenes on The Amalfi at Gore Videl’s house were just perfect.

It is hard to read characters so unlikeable yet at the same time you want them to fail, but Maurice is just so dastardly I was completely caught up waiting for his game to be up. The way he does eventually get his comeuppance, as indeed he must, is so well done I was blown away with the cleverness of it.

This is a big sprawley wonderful book, I wait anxiously for a John Boyne to come along and this was in no way disappointing.

Thanks so much to the publisher and to Netgalley for giving me access.

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

anchorHave you ever seen a more beautiful cover on a book? (It is far more beautiful in person than it looks in the image on here.) The cover is what attracted me to this in the first place, but it is a tale of medieval times and I really like reading about that period of history. I’m so pleased I picked it up. Inside that lush cover is a story of sacrifice. Sarah, a young girl reeling from the grief of her sister’s death and the lascivious advances of the son of the local Lord, decides to become The Anchoress and devote her life to God. The Anchoress lives in a tiny room attached to the church, nobody can see her and her meals, such as they are, are passed through a tiny window to her by her serving maid. She is completely alone in her tiny stone hewn room. Her only contact with the outside is with the visiting priest who is responsible for her and her servants and the occasional visit from a woman or child from the village.

Sarah spends her time praying and doing devotions, her life is quiet and serene but even within the confines of her tiny space there is much to think about and ponder. Sarah has removed herself from the world, yet worldly concerns encroach upon the space. Concerns she discusses with her priest, Father Ranaulf, a serious man who is employed at the priory to write manuscripts. His conversations with Sarah worry him, her concerns for things beyond her walls bother him, he is not a worldly man and he finds her confessions troublesome.

Sarah is tormented by Thomas, who inherits the Manor, he cannot let her go and he instructs Father Ranaulf to make a manuscript on the life of St Margaret. This becomes the rubbing point for her life, her fascination with the life of Margaret, she meditates upon her life and finds so many things disturbing prompting her to have thoughts which challenge her ideas of purity and provoking more questions to the uncomfortable Father Ranaulf.

The book has a meditative feel. As Sarah thinks and prays and gradually comes to terms with her existence, she becomes braver and more able to defend her views while at the same time being so very vulnerable to the whim of the Lord of the Manor. Life progresses very slowly and the outside world intrudes into her world in many ways. This is beautifully written and so beautifully drawn. It is a lovely book.(less)

 

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

timI finished this ages ago but haven’t been up to writing a review, this book left me feeling bereft and empty when it was finished. I’ve had a long and loving relationship with Tim Winton. I hereby admit my love of his beautiful sentences and his descriptions of place and feelings. I love the way he thinks about the tiniest of things, how he notices the sounds and nuances of the land, the birds and the skies. He makes you see the world in a different way and he makes your heart ache for the characters he makes, they are flawed, very bad things happen to them, they do very bad things to other people and yet they are loveable and real.

Jaxie is a hard boy, he is on the run and he heads out into the bush. He is ill prepared for a long stretch in the wilds and suffers terrible thirst and hunger, he has to make decisions about how he will manage his survival. While he travels he mulls over his life, the awful illness and death of his much loved mother, his angry and now dead father. The fact that Jaxie is going to get the blame for his death. He thinks about the love of his life and tries to make his way to her in a town a long distance away. Eventually he comes across a hut with signs of life, living in there is a disgraced priest, Finton MacGillis someone Jaxie cannot trust and who leads a lonely existence in the middle of nowhere. These two will build a relationship based on mutual distrust. They will come to mean something to each other.

This is not for the faint hearted. It is sweary in the extreme, it is tough, brutal and wincingly extreme at times, but it is beautiful. I didn’t want it to end

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

exitwestSo many big themes in such a small book. I completely understand why it is shortlisted for the Booker, it is utterly contemporary and perfect for our times. I found it completely absorbing and it was great company for an afternoon where spring finally sprang and I could luxuriate in in the first really warm day of the season. This is the story of migration, of war looming on the horizon of people’s ordinary lives, of the lack of safe places and the rise of the refugee as a political and social force. I was completely absorbed in the lives of Nadia and Saeed and their quest for a peaceful life with enough resources for them to make a decent life without struggling for every sip of water and bite to eat.

This is also about the pressures on their relationship. Dealing with the guilt of leaving Saeed’s father behind, of being each others only company for extended periods, of the pressure of trying to find a community in a world of strangers and suspicion. It is so clever, politically really interesting, beautifully constructed and totally absorbing. I know lots of people who will love this book.

I found this interview with the author which makes the origins of the story very clear.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old

groenOh this book. It is a week or so since I’ve finished it now and finally I have my thoughts gathered enough to write a little something about it. In short, I really enjoyed it. In length, I thought it was sad and beautiful and funny and sweet. When I first started it I thought it might be a good present for my dad who is nearly aged 83 1/4 years old! As time went on I realised that it might be a bit too close to the bone. Even though there are lots of moments of levity in Hendrik’s life, there is also a lot of dying going on. I guess that is what happens when you reach a ripe old age and so have your friends.

I loved the war of the old people raging against the petty rules and regulations of the rest home, I loved the relationships between the friends, their outings and the sadnesses and challenges of their lives. There are a few times in the story where it drags a little, but a gentle slowness when you are so very old is fine I think. I love the stories of acquiring a mobility scooter, of world politics happening quietly in the background but being completely unimportant in the scheme of these people’s lives. The description of the elderly ladies dressing in their finest and primping every time a new bloke arrives on the scene in the nursing home is spectacularly funny, as is the discussion on womens magazines.

It is a lovely book and I think it will be enjoyed by lots of people for a very long time as it has universal themes. For those who like a sad and beautiful book this is a little gem.

Otherworld by Jason Segel & Kirsten Miller

otherworldI’m always looking for books which the gamer guys, the Ready Player One guys will enjoy, this book fits the bill really well. In the same way as RPO you are immersed in the game with competing with other players. You’ve left your body behind and you are in the virtual reality of a world which feels completely real. It is very cleverly done, scene after scene with a very real feeling, an almost breathless ride, action pushing forward all the time. There is a lot of tension between the characters, mystery and mayhem are all taking place in a breathless rush.

There is such a lot going on that it gets a bit relentless at times. It has a feel of a book which is written for a specific audience and which nails that well, but at the same time there is a slight feeling of emptiness. Maybe the characters could have been developed a bit more. Simon’s obsession at all costs, even to constantly endangering his life for the sake of his friend are at times unbelievable. There is a huge conspiracy, bad doctors and dodgy hospitals all over the place, Simon in in the game and trying to save his friend. There is a lot going on. I got a bit over the relentless struggles inside the game but I can imagine that these would be thrilling for the target audience of teenage boys.

Given it is labelled #1 it is obvious there is going to be another and I’ll definitely be buying this for our library.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this title.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

happinessUsually I reserve the category of favourite for those books which are a clear 5 stars -ooo just thought about that and updated it to 5, and here is why!

This book is a gigantic statement of Indian politics, attitudes and how the influences of the outside world have influenced society in India since the 1980s. It is bigger even than that, it is about the marginalised and the isolated, those who stand up for what they believe in, even being prepared to die for their causes. There are spies, soldiers and politicians and a cast of interesting characters. At times I lost track a little bit of whose story I was reading, but I found it best just to keep on going as things became clear in time.

The structure of the book is varied, the beginning is a story, we meet the wonderful Anjum, born with both male and female genitalia, I spend lots of time hoping we were getting back to Anjum and eventually of course we do, I loved everything about Anjum and wanted an entire novel about just her. But then there were the others, weaving in and out of the story are politicians and rogues the gentle and the violent. There are lists and itineraries and it is a book made up of lots of parts.

To me it felt like Arundhati Roy was writing her impressions of everything that has happened in India in the time since Indira Gandhi was running it. Her observations are definitely personal, this entire book is full of her, to the point where it almost isn’t a novel. It is an observation, a comment. It made me think deeply about society and how technology has changed India, the influences of western culture on India and politics in general. It is a big book which drew me in, confused me and made me think. This is an experience rather than a novel.

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

unearthedI completely loved this book. Nicely played Kaufman and Spooner! Science Fiction and archaeology combined in an action packed thriller set on a far away planet where aliens have left clues for the human race. Earth has huge problems with it’s environment and is gradually becoming destroyed to the point where people will have to find either a way of fixing it fast or will have to move to another planet. The race is on to be the person who will find the technology on another planet to bring back to Earth to save us all.

Deciphering the clues in massive temples though, provides vast challenges, they are puzzles with death as the outcome if you get them wrong. Amelia is a scavenger, raiding ancient sites on far off planets to sell for cash which she is using to pay her sister’s captors back on earth. She runs into Jules, who is the son of a disgraced historian, someone who said too much and who is now in jail. Jules has travelled to this planet to try and solve the biggest mystery ever and to prove that his father was right, but also for the personal satisfaction of being the guy who solved a massive mystery. Jules has studied the messages sent back to earth by the inhabitants deciphered the codes and is on a mission to find out what the clues in the messages mean for humanity.

This is going to be hugely popular, I hope it has an awesome cover with an androgynous cover on it. the fraught relationship between the two protagonists is great. The way that total mistrust leads to complete trust is so nicely done. I love the protagonists alternating chapters.

Secondary school libraries are going to want to buy lots of copies of this. And it is just the beginning of a series, one I will be following avidly.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

beforefallAfter I’d done a few investigations about the author when I’d finished the book I realised why I liked the tone of this so much. This guy wrote the Fargo TV series, a favourite of mine. Ah ha, I thought, this is why the tone is so good. The structure of this is really interesting. It starts off with a straightforward story of a plane crashing into the ocean, the only survivors are an artist and a little boy, they swim to shore from the crash. It is exciting, tense and really gripping. Then you take a step back and you get the stories of the people on the plane, written in a kind of report style. At first, I wasn’t sure about this, particularly about the character Ben Kipling who is secretly doing dastardly business. You’ll have to read it to find out what, but in the end, I loved these sections. Our story travels to and fro between the accounts of the lives of those who have been killed and our hero Scott who saved the little boy.

Yes, this is a crime novel but it is a great exploration of the human psyche, how we react under pressure, the things we hide from our loved ones, how we are able to push ourselves in times of strife. It has comments on the role of the media, how artists view the world differently to those of us who are not artistic, how some of the things we value in society are not attractive qualities. This is a really interesting book. I read an e-book and all through it people had highlighted paragraphs of insightful writing. I’m looking forward to more novels from this author.

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

essexAn interesting and marvellous book. Marvellous because it has much to make you think, to mull over and ideas to carry around and consider while you are reading it. It is a big story, with characters who started to take over my life. Often the minor characters became people I wanted to grow bigger in the story and then low and behold they would get a bigger role. Cora Seabourne is a young widow, she and her young son head from London to a village in Essex where the locals are spooked by rumours and strange goings on which are blamed on The Essex Serpent, a creature which has become the stuff of legend even though nobody has actually seen it. She is introduced to the local reverend and his wife via mutual friends and their relationships form a large part of the story.

There is so much in this book, unrequited love, suspicion, repression, suffering, religion, love, friendship and dying. It is set in an age where women were considered capable of learning but not able to have a career or study at any level higher than school. I think it would be a wonderful book to study, to pull apart and savour all its little moments which build to make a whole which feels complete and satisfying.

And would you just gaze upon this utterly glorious cover!

 

Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf

oursoulsA clear 5 stars from me. I read it in a day. Swallowed it up and then sat, staring into space when it was done. This is the story of two older people who are lonely, they live in a typical small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business. Addie is so lonely it gives her pain. If you are lonely and you know the man up the street is also lonely, and your greatest desire is to have someone to share your nights with, after all nights are the loneliest time, then isn’t it only right that you should get together to share those nights? So, Addie approaches Louis, who agrees tentatively, to come and spend the nights with her. They are nice people, they don’t want to be the talk of the town.

Then Addie’s grandson comes to stay and the three of them and the newly acquired dog begin a process of healing, growing together, building their relationships and becoming close. This is rudely interrupted by Addie’s son, the father of Jamie who judges them harshly and meanly. The small mindedness of people, their judgyness and their thrusting of what they think their elders need upon them is so awful and so well depicted in this book.

This gorgeous short novel which made my heart happy.

A love story starring my dead best friend by Emily Horner

First book of the school holidays and it was a great choice.  This is a great cross-over novel, meaning written with appeal to both teenage and adult readers.  Emily Horner has a great website with lots of good stuff about this book and a thoughtful blog as well.

Cass is desperately missing her friend Julia.  Julia was killed in a car crash and it has rocked all her friends and her boyfriend, but Cass and Julia had one of those friendships which was deep and complex.  A finish each others sentences kind of friendship.  Julia was obsessed with drama and was writing her masterpiece when she died, the friends decide that they should put on the show she wrote.  This creates lots of difficulties because it isn’t exactly  your standard school musical, the title is Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad which is enough to set alarm bells ringing with the school staff.

In the meantime Cass sets off on her bike, to complete the journey to California that she and Julia always planned to make, bringing Julia’s ashes with her in a tupperware container.  The bike trip is beautifully written.  The relationship she has along the way, the feelings this brings on and the mechanics of the relationship are written in a realistic way. Tentative and scary, but also with comfort. The lonliness of being on the road, the dangers from big trucks, people you meet and dealing with the memories of someone you love who has gone from your life, dealing with your emerging sexuality and also love, lots of love in many forms, all make for riveting reading.  This is a wise book.  I know my girls would have loved it when they were teenagers, but it is also a book I would give them now.  This book has lots of the feeling you get when you read John Green or David Levithan and I’m really looking forward to reading more by Emily Horner.

 

 

There is no dog by Meg Rosoff

There is no dog is about God, whose name is Bob!  He is a teenager (he is 19) who has been given the responsibility of creating and then the ongoing maintenance of Earth.  Unfortunately like most teenagers he takes his eye off the ball fairly regularly and chaos ensues on our planet.  He is minded by Mr B, my favourite character in the book, who spends his time trying to juggle the catastrophes which God causes, a lot of which involve God being irresistibly  attractive to young women, and being consumed with himself, his dislike of his interferring mother, who won Earth in a poker game in the beginning which is how Bob came to be God, and who also has now carelessly lost Bob’s pet in yet another poker game.  Mr B, is responsible for whales being on earth and has his hands full ensuring their continued survival what with Bob being all involved with himself and his lovelife.  Confused, I was! 

Meg Rosoff is one of my favourite authors but this book seems like a good idea that just ran off with itself and left the author with not enough places to take what remained.  It seems a bit disjointed, a bit loopy and underdone.  There are tone changes which don’t sit quite right, there are disjointed chapters and the resolution is – weird.  I kept reading because I really wanted it to be fabulous, and I always enjoy the cleverness in a Meg Rosoff book, and that is there in this book but not in big enough doses to keep me hooked.   The book is good natured, and has heart which Meg Rosoff always brings to her books, her sense of humour really is great.

I have adored every single previous novel by Meg Rosoff  here is what I thought of The brides farewell,  (loved it) and I will certainly await the next one eagerly but this one is one I’m glad I didn’t have to spend my library dollar on.  I was loaned a proof which is fabulous and exciting and always a thrill, it feels like you are in with an early look at a treat before anybody else gets hold of it.  I enjoyed parts of the book but I’m really more looking forward to the next one.

Meg Rosoff has been in NZ for Auckland Readers and Writers Week and I have been so jealous that she came south as far as Nelson, but not to Dunedin, and it is so nice here!  Come a bit further next time Meg and we will look after you – and we have far more excellent water than Auckland down here!  Read this post on her blog to see why I wrote that!