Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Rosemary and Rue

Image sourced from here
I wasn't sure what to make of this book. Hands down, it's got probably the best intro twist in the first 10 pages that I have read out of any urban fantasy. But after this, I was wondering if it was just going to be a Dresden rip off. You know, fairies instead of wizards, San Francisco instead of Chicago, female instead of male, still drives a punch buggy.

But I was pleasantly surprised as the book comes into it's own. The lore and the magic system is fun and detailed, and hints back to real world myths and legends. I love it when a book does that. Toby is sassy and competent, which is always annoying that I find this a surprise in a female character.

Toby was a private detective of the fairy variety, and is a changeling herself. Until something happens that makes her want to stay the hell away from the fairy realm and society. Of course, until something happens that can't keep her away and also requires her special private detective skills. Throw in an ex-lover or two, and we have a great vaginal fantasy read.

And it was for about 250 pages. First 200 are good, the last 50 are good. But the middle 100 needed an editor or a tidy up or something. But I am hoping that is something that will come with experience as a writer for her. As this is the first book in the series, and I believe published by her, and there are many more of both I will pick up and try. I do like me a fairy.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Crocodile on the Sandbank

Image sourced from here
I was a bit excited for this book. Archaeology. Mystery. Victorian era. Sassy, societal and gender role shunning protagonist. Sounded like a rip roaring adventure through pyramids with parasols.

However, all I wanted to do was smack Amelia Peabody and her smug little face with her smug little parasol. The woman was insufferable. I am all for smartarse, outspoken, sarcastic, pushing society's role for you, female protagonists. But don't give it to me coated in smug.

I struggled through the book. In fact I put it down as I thought I was in a reading slump, but now I have finished the book, I think the book was the slump. But I waded through to show myself she got better and it was a fun little cozy that everyone enjoys. Nope. I just saturated myself in the smug.

And don't even get me started on the most forced love interest. I can sort of see what was being attempted but it was "sneaking" up on you from page 20 like a four year old hiding behind a pot plant, and wasn't convincing at all.

Urgh. Now I feel like I need a shower again.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Image sourced from here
My Dad read a lot. But he read things you could learn stuff from (gardening, wildlife, natural history, woodworking, diy, history, military, politics, etc books) or biographies/autobiographies of sportsmen or military persons. So much so that when he passed away and my Mum came with us to his flat, she remarked that copy of The Bourne Identity was the first novel she had ever seen in his possession. And she had been married to the man for 15 years at one time.

So that being said, the only novel my Dad ever recommended to me to read was this one. From what I can piece together, I think he had borrowed it from the library as he thought it actually was a book about fishing in the Yemen. It wasn't, and isn't, but Dad being Dad, seeing it was in his house for a month, he'd give it a go. And apparently he loved it.

I can honestly see why. It's the British kind of absurd he loved. It pays the crap out of those ridiculous people in London doing ridiculous things that his kind of Northerner doesn't get, and really, I only do as I live in the bureaucratic capital of another country. It's Yes Minister, but with fish and the Middle East. It is bloody funny.

It's a tongue in cheek look at the most boring man in British history who has been commissioned against his will through his civil service job to see if salmon fishing in the Yemen is possible. The book then follows him and his colleagues through the project and it's misadventures, and how it changes them.

It's also a rather insightful look into the political machine and British foreign policy regarding the Middle East in the 2000s. I'm glad Dad told me to read it actually. What I like about this book is very similar to what I loved about Dad honestly. Something so ridiculous and outrageous, in him the crazy Yorkshireman with the outrageous stories and the cheeky smile, but if you push further there was actually an incredibly nuanced understanding of foreign and military policy hiding within, both in the book and Dad. But Dad also had great information about growing tomatoes ;)

Sunday, 6 September 2015

I'm Not Dead!

2015 has not been my reviewing year. I do apologise if people do follow this blog for reviews. I have been slack and lame. I also have been through such an intense reading slump. I didn't finish a book from mid-June to August. Just nothing I picked up worked for me, and I now have a whole heap of half read books littering the house.

I also have a pile of books from pre-slump and post-slump sitting here to review. So once again, let's knock those over quickly, and then I'll get my shit together from now on.

A Study in Scarlet

First Sherlock book I have read, although obviously well acquainted with the world and characters. I really enjoyed the original book though, and felt that the book was incredibly easy to read over a hundred years later. Also made me really respect the latest BBC series SOOO much more, and I didn't think that was possible.

The War of the Worlds

Wins for the best use of the word "ejaculation" I have seen for a long time. I can see why it is a classic, and I can see it was completely mind blowing at the time. I did find it dragging in parts, just a slow pacing that Victorian novels can have. I am glad I read it, but I was a little let down due to all the hype I have heard for years.

Cocaine Blues

Phryne Fisher is more badass in the book than the series. Sometimes to the point of ridiculous, but more badass. But great intro to the 1920s lady detective running around Melbourne causing mayhem. And different enough from the series that you can happily read and watch with only minimum spoilerage.

Faceless Killers

Another intro to a detective I have watched on TV. Due to this, I spent the entire book imagining Wallander as Kenneth Branagh, and his offsider as Tom Hiddleston. I was slightly annoyed as I had watched this story a few times, but couldn't remember the ending and it bugged me. But this was not the book's fault, it was a victim of it's own success. Another good Nordic Noir series to stick your teeth into.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Oh my. Neil Gaiman. Gush. This book delivered on all the things you want in a Neil Gaiman novel and I devoured it in hours. Just a beautiful book.

The Oxford Murders

An Argentinian maths student gets a scholarship to Oxford to study, and it quickly drawn into the investigation of a serial killer. Maths puzzles, logic sequences and pattern recognition plays a large part in the book and takes it to another level than a standard murder mystery. I couldn't work out the time period though, and that bothered me with the attitude to women by the main character.

Jar City

I've avoided reading this book for a while, due to the English publishers ignoring series order and just publishing willy nilly. But I've waited so long, and it fitted a Toppler read so well, I just went for it. I am glad I did though. Icelandic murder mystery, not as dark and gritty as other nordic noir, but quite enjoyable. Standard fare really, but enjoyable and well told.

Ready Player One

How much nostalgia can you fit into one book?! This is an 80s-early 90s kid's heaven. So many memories, in a great adventure thriller. The world has descended into a dystopian future, where we spend all our time if we can plugged into a virtual world. It's like what would have happened if all the predictions about Second Life had come true. But throw in a quest and pursuit of an evil corporation, and it's just brilliant.

Moon Called

Too many hairy werewolves, for me, to, bear. I'm not a fan of werewolves and this is the best werewolf book I have read. I really like Mercy, I liked the world, the story was not too bad. I wanted to know more about everything else besides the werewolves though, like the fae and how they all worked. I would continue the series, as I enjoyed it enough, but it seems to be all werewolf based. I'm not sure if I can handle that.

The Messenger of Athens

Death of a young woman thought to be an adulterer on a small Mediterranean Greek island. Written off as an accident but thought by all as a suicide. Until an investigator from Athens shows up and asks questions. I liked the setting and the place. I wasn't fussed with the story. Didn't care for the characters, and again, was pissed off with the treatment of women in the book. I thought it was 1960s or so, then right at the end of the book we are given a timeline and I worked out it was 1994. Not on. Don't think I'll carry on with this one.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle

Image sourced from Lee Cannon
This is a novel of two parts. The first part is set in modern day, looking at the lives of Sabine and George as 70-something expats living in Trinidad. They have been there since Trinidad achieved it's independence and there is lots of discussion regarding what is still wrong with the country 50 years on. But more importantly, there is a lot going on with George and Sabine. And you're not sure what is happening, or what the history is. It slowly is revealed as the part, and the book goes on however.

The second part of the book is set 50 years earlier. It tells the story of George and Sabine coming to Trinidad as newly weds from London. The story is told from Sabine's perspective mainly, so you find out what it is like as a woman particularly on the island, where work wasn't an option as it would be for a man. But from Sabine, we get a look at the independence movement and the political atmosphere on the island from the observations in the street and the domestic house workers.

If I'm honest, the story was okay. I didn't like Sabine, so that made it hard. But the themes explored in the story, race, class, expat workers, political independence and agency was all well handled. I learnt a lot about Trinidad and it's history. I had a demonstration from my Trinidadian friend what steupsing was, which is important.

But the saviour was the writing, which was beautiful, descriptive and immersive. The descriptions of the island and the environment were invocative. I felt like I was on the island, looking at the flowers or iguanas, and feeling the heat. It lost the Prize-Formerly-known-as-Orange to The Lacuna, which I also enjoyed a lot more, but I can see why it was a contender.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Image sourced from here
Well. Why on earth have I not read this earlier? Why has no one forced this book upon me and told me I had to read it? Considered yourself cornered by me with wild crazy eyes, telling you to read it.

Welcome to the world of Karou. Karou is a 16 year old art student living in the beautiful city of Prague (seriously, the city descriptions are gorgeous. If the city is half as nice as the book suggests, I'm going to live there). She draws by day, hangs out with her friend in a weird gothic bar, and runs errands for her family at night. Her family however is a random group of mixed animal constructs. Who have portals that open up anywhere in our world. And trade in teeth.

You interested yet? I was. I wanted to know as much as I could about this world. It was different, interesting. Something a bit lacking in urban fantasy.

Add in a conflict, particularly with Seraphim (not what I learnt about in Bible study, but just as terrifying) and I was sold. There was the obligatory romance element to the story, but it was interesting enough to not be teenage angsty.

I want to tell you more. I really do. But I don't, as I don't want to spoil it for you. I'm leaning to 4.5 stars as I was annoyed at the ending. But I know there are another 2 books now, so I am glad I waited to read it for that reason. And I am going to find them. As soon as I can!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Beautiful Place to Die

Image sourced from here
I grew up like so many children of the 80s and 90s knowing about apartheid. I knew that in South Africa black and white people were separated, and black people were denied things, and rights, and opportunities that white people had. I also remember it ending, and Nelson Mandela becoming President, lots of happy people and dancing.

So I've always had the knowledge of apartheid. But I don't think I have ever really had an understanding of apartheid. I mean, it's pretty straightforward, right? White and black? I never considered the tiering between Afrikaans and English, or Jews, or Indians, or mixed race, etc. This book explores all of this and some. My 7 year old knowledge was blown out of the water and highlighted as what it obviously was, incredibly naive and simplistic. But until I had to really think about it, I really never realised how simplistic I assumed it was.

Detective Emmanuel Cooper is a white, English police officer. He is called out to a small town on the border with Mozambique. He arrives at the murder scene of the Afrikaan police captain, who seems to pretty much rule the town with his pack of sons. In an incredibly volatile situation already, Detective Cooper also has to work with officers from the country's Intelligence Agency who have taken over the investigation, while also enforcing the new apartheid policy and stamping out communism.

It's very well written. Both the story itself and the writing as a whole. I didn't think the story would be able to string itself out for the whole book, but she did it well. I thought I had the culprit picked early, but that got flipped on it's head, which I love. The writing of the landscape and the area was by someone who obviously loves the land, and made it sound incredibly beautiful, even in its barrenness.

She also handled the political landscape very well, I was impressed. There was obviously a point of view in the book, but it never felt heavy handed. I definitely would recommend, it's well worth the read.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Image sourced from here
I really wanted to love this book. I've been looking forward to reading it for years, and finally got the chance. Because of this, I've been sitting on this review. Mainly because the main word I have for this book is "disappointed".

The steampunk elements to the book are wonderful. I like the world, I like the premise. The catastrophe was interesting although never fully explained. There was so much to pull me along and to keep me engaged.

However, despite all this, the book never really grabbed me. The story had so much potential and just didn't seem to fulfill it. The world was fascinating, but never got explained or explored properly. The writing and the characters were somewhat wooden and never really drew you in or made you care. To be fair, some of the side characters where wonderful, but I never really cared for the main characters.

And the ending. I thought it was because I read the ending at 1am that I missed something, as it was a bit... meh. But I reread the last chapter a couple of days later as this was bothering me, and nope, missed nothing.

I will give Cherie Priest another go, I've seen her interviewed and actually really like *her*. Maybe another series before revisiting this one. But I would be prepared to revisit this world. I just hope that the next books have a little more oomph!

Thursday, 30 April 2015

A Walk in the Woods

Image sourced from here
This particular romp takes us through hiking the Appalachian Trail in the eastern most states in America, through the stereotypical storytelling, facts and ranting of Bryson. The trail starts in Georgia and works it's way along the coastal states to Maine. Bryson and his friend Katz decide to walk the whole thing, with no hiking experience, as well as being rather unfit.

I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I would. I was worried it would be a bit too much about their particular hike and day to day activities. Walked, pitched tent, slept, walked, etc. But I should have known better. While there were parts that were definitely regarding them on the trail, these were tied in wonderfully to history, science, tales of environmental destruction and woe, but also the wonderful anecdotes of the other people they encounter on the trail or experiences they have.

As always, Bryson handles his stories about the environment and the amazing devastation we humans are causing, and then through our own incompetence are increasing, beautifully. He doesn't preach (possibly unlike the reviewer). He states with an air of exasperation. What troubles me is that it is nearly 20 years since the books publication. I hate to think of the state of affairs now.

My one problem with the book, is the whole thing was written in the imperial system. Which is fine, as Bryson is an American in America. But as there were so many measurements (miles hiked per day, feet of mountains, slopes rising at rates) and temperatures, it really did hurt my brain converting all the time to meters, kilometers and celsius. There were a few pages in the last third of the book which were discussing mountain heights in great detail. I couldn't keep up. The book was thrown across the room with a long and loud tirade about backwards systems.

It honestly detracted from my enjoyment of the book as I had to stop at least once a page to convert something in my head to a vague approximation. And I probably was off a lot of the time. I was more annoyed as my copy was an Australian copy. I would recommend people check if there is a metric version available if you think this would bother you too.

But it honestly is a minor quibble. It's another enjoyable, educational and very funny read.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Let the Right One In

Image sourced from here
Sometimes you pick up a book, or get recommended one, and it is absolutely nothing like what you expect. This book was both of these things. I picked it up a couple of years ago for a couple of dollars, as I heard it was a movie and Swedish. I like Swedish things, and movies, and Swedish movies. Give it a go.

It's then sat on the bookshelves for a while, until my brother in law saw it last year and exclaimed (which is always exciting as he's incredibly tall) when he saw it. "Have you read that?! You have to! It's so scary! It's really good!". Right noted. Swedish and scary. Vampires no less.

So it is all of this, but not the scary vampire book I had in my mind. We meet Oskar, who is a bullied and psychologically traumatised if we are being honest, 12 year old boy living in the outskirts of Stockholm. He meets a girl who has moved in next door to him at night time (although that's not hard as it's late autumn/early winter in Sweden) in the playground, and he strikes up a friendship with her. But Eli is a little odd and has some very strange behaviours. But to be fair, so does Oskar.

There are vampires. They do gorey things. But that's not the point of the book. The point of the book to me is really more about friendship and finding someone you can trust and be yourself with. It's about overcoming adversity whether that's bullies, loneliness, thirst for human blood and being the size of a 11 year old. You know. Big issues.

For me, the scariest thing in this book was the setting. Stockholm but where the woods meet the city, in snow and ice and frozen lakes and just fricking cold. But most importantly for me though, was that these things were coming out at night. And it's October/November. THE NIGHTS ARE BECOMING LONGER AND LONGER!

This freaked me out more than anything else really. My own brain doing the maths. I mean, in winter here the nights are only 12-13 hours long at June (longest day). Can you imagine if there were things that could come at you in the night and your nights were 15 hours long and only getting longer?

This was a clever and disconcerting look at vampires. It wasn't what I was expecting and I'm very glad for that. For a subject matter that has been beaten to death over the past decade, this is a refreshing and very Scandinavian take.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

In the Darkness

Image sourced from here
Eva is walking alongside a river with her daughter, and they discover a dead body in the water. They go to a phone box to call the police, although Eva doesn't actually call the police so not to get her daughter or herself involved. But this is the second murder in this small town that occurred within a few days...

This book is pretty much what I love about Nordic Noir. We have a clever investigator (this time, an actual policeman), with an interesting backstory and past. A murder or two which may or may not relate to each other. Flips of narrative and playing with storytelling devices. Twists. Sudden ending. All with amazing descriptions of landscape and wonderful Scandinavian settings.

What annoys me about translated books, particularly with crime books, is that publishers tend to choose what they think are the "good stories" and just translate those. Who cares if it's book 7 in a 10 book series! This series is no exception, unfortunately, with many other Inspector Konrad Sejer books published before the English publishers thought that book 1 was worth translating. I'm glad they did though as I think this was a beautiful introductory novel, and I will join this Inspector again on his skydiving over fjords and maybe another murder.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


You know when you find a book that is so engrossing, you can't do anything besides read it? This was one of those. In the middle of this book, I completely tuned the world out. Lexx talked to me for ages and I have no idea what he said. Turns out, after he repeated himself, he was asking if we should go out. The answer was a yelled "No! Not yet!" and I promptly returned to the book and devouring the rest of my fingernails.

This is the story of Jack and his Ma, who are locked in a small room together. The story is told from Jack's perspective, which while some have found irritating, I enjoyed as a writing device. As the narrative is from a 5 year old's perspective who has absolutely no idea what the real world is like, and what normal is. I think the author uses this perfectly to describe to us a horrific situation. Jack doesn't think his world as horrific. It just is.

The second half of the book is where I really engaged with the characters.


Once we are drawn into Jack and Ma's escape, I had this desperate need to know they'd be okay. As mentioned above, I had invested 10 fingernails to the cause. Watching the freak out of Jack, the elation and then despair of Ma when the world wasn't what she expected, the complete lack of comprehension, understanding and empathy of the outside world. It was fascinating and yet makes me hope that we treat actual victims of such trauma so much better than this.

You can come back now.

For a book that deals with incredibly heavy issues, the ending for me is one full of hope. I was wondering while reading, how on earth you tie something like this up, but the author does it well. It allows the readers to gently and happily disengage with the characters. I can't give it 5 stars as there were parts that annoyed me somewhat, but it's a pretty damn good read.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


Image sourced from here
After hearing this book described for years and years as the quintessential Australian novel, I finally picked it up to find out what the hype was about. I am so glad I did.

It is very rare you pick up a book and find the essence of your cultural identity seeping off the pages. Not that I lived through the years after WWII, not that my family had the same troubles as these families. The families aren't even that sympathetic as you start reading. But the attitudes and values that they have and display are so familiar and comforting that it draws you in and makes you want to stay. Loyalty, pride, the fair go, the Aussie battler, hard work, family, friendship, finding humour in everything, every situation and everyone. It wraps you up like a large old blanket and makes you feel safe and understood.

While as I say, the families are not overly sympathetic characters to begin with, throughout the story you end up deeply caring for them. It sneaks up on you. You realise that you want to know that they are all going to be okay, because really, they are all pretty good sorts deep down. You don't necessarily agree with them or their decisions overall, but there is a deep feeling of connection when you finish the book. They creep into you, the Pickles and the Lambs. And I think that is the strength of this book. The slow, gradual, unnoticed sensation of comradery you build with the characters.

For me, the magic realism of the book wasn't really a big feature. To me, a lot of the time I didn't even think about these elements. They didn't bother me, I didn't question them. Strange things happen in the bush. You go out there long enough, particularly by yourself, in the big, wide, emptiness and you can see things. After driving 6 hours each day for the last couple of days, if I didn't have people in the car, I wouldn't have been surprised if I believed there was someone in the car with me. If I had been almost disemboweled by a kangaroo and was experiencing extreme blood loss, I would have some crazy dreams too.

I appreciated reading this book for fun and not for school where you focus on every single nuance of these elements of the story and dissecting it to death. I was happy to read and to accept that this land gets under your skin and things happen. Just like the Pickles family and the Lamb family. I am better for meeting them.

Monday, 30 March 2015

In The Woods

Image sourced from here
After being told again and again to read this book, I finally got to it for our Irish themed read for March. And I can see why there is hype. This is an intensely and intricately crafted psychological crime novel.

We all know by now how much I like place, and this book does setting by the bucket loads. Whether it's the dank, wet and slightly dark setting of the present day murder, or the intense, hot summer of Rob's past. The juxtaposition of the two is slightly disorientating.

But so is the rest of the book. The book plays with your head, although you may not really notice it at the time. It's clever. It's subtle. It reads a bit slow at the start, but it's building. Trust, relax and read.

I got a little frustrated with the character development in this book, with characters doing things I didn't agree with. While no one is completely unlikable, there was a lot of shouting at them. I find it frustrating when characters I don't hate/dislike do stupid things.

I'm being entirely vague about this book I know. I just don't want to give anything away, as even apparently insignificant things stack up in this book. But I want you to read it. Take away message for the night. Read it and let it play with your head.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing

Image sourced from here
I've been putting off this book for a while. Jasper Fforde and I have a turbulent relationship. The Eyre Affair is one of my favourite books ever. The next two I enjoyed, I love his writing style and his layers upon layers of literary jokes, but they slid down the meh slope for me. Then, as I owned them all by now, I got to Something Rotten and the love affair was back on. Restarted the series and we were back to meh. But a friend told me he loved the 7th book like the 1st, so I made myself pick this one up.

For this book, we are back in Bookworld. The thought that goes into Bookworld is always impressive, and this book came with a map! Love maps in my books! We are cruising around with written Thursday and soon discover that real Thursday has gone AWOL. Written Thursday sets about finding her, particularly as there is a civil war looming between Racy Novel and Women's Lit, that real Thursday is holding peace talks for.

Bookworld is so much more layered for me now, as my own reading has gotten more layered. I get more jokes and allusions. I wonder if I would enjoy the earlier books more now with this knowledge. And so many puns! Amusing, and sometimes incredibly clever. I can't believe all of it comes out of one man's mind.

But with all this added in, did I love it? Nope, but I enjoyed it. I am back on the side of reality in expectations for the next one, and hopes it surprisingly blows my socks off.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Hide and Seek

Image sourced from here
The second installment of Inspector Rebus. Rebus has had a promotion, but lost the girl. And we start the book with him being called to the body of a junky in a housing estate outside of Edinburgh. But the junky seems to be placed in a ritualistic way with witchcraft symbols around him. Over the investigation, more and more ties this junky to the elite world of Edinburgh, which shows the dark side of city doesn't discriminate by class.

Succubus Blues

Image sourced from here
I picked this up as I loved the first season of Lost Girl. I enjoyed the second. Don't get me started on the third. But I knew that this book was what the series was based off, although nothing really like it. A truer word was never spoken. The main character is a succubus. There is a dark and light side in the supernatural world. Similarities end.

However, I loved this book. It was trashy and silly, but fun. Georgina is a succubus but a reluctant one. She works in a bookshop and completely fan girls out over authors. The supernatural world was interesting, different, and plays on one of the more interesting and confusing verses in the Bible that has caused centuries of speculation.

For a book about a succubus there is not as many sexy times as you would think, but they are well written when they appear. I will be very interested in following Georgina's next adventures, either succubusy or just solving mysteries.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Mahu Surfer

Image sourced from here
We rejoin Kimo as he is moving to a new office since the last book and being reinstated as a police officer. Yet his boss would like him to keep this secret and go undercover into the northern surfing towns to help solve the murders of a couple of surfers. As an ex-semi-professional surfer, Kimo is the best fit, but after coming out and airing all his secrets in the last book, lying to family and friends is not high on his priority list.

Reality and a sense of duty convince him to do it however, so we get lots of surfing. Lots. As well as a man who is finally able to be himself but is also working out what and who that is.

Mystery wise, a little laboured at times and a few too many sexual intrigue links that are a bit unnecessary. And I picked the murderer heaps earlier than the end of the book. But still a fun read.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Other Side of Dawn

Image sourced from here
I started this series when I was 13. I have all the books and remember waiting for this one to come out. I read a few chapters, and just stopped. It's sat there ever since. With this year's series challenge I thought it was time to put it to bed.

I was mostly worried that the writing would be awful. John Marsden has achieved a sort of mythic level in my early teenage years. He wrote books about things no one would really talk about to us early teenagers then. While this series was more about the adventure, it still dealt with these pretty big issues throughout. I was terrified that reading him again as an adult would diminish this.

Luckily though, his storytelling and writing is still fantastic. It's an easy YA read, but it was a great ride. I can see why I lapped up his books when I was young.

Was it a satisfying ending to this series that defined my teenage reading? It wasn't terrible. I wasn't sure how you would end the series without being anticlimactic, but he did a reasonable job. The real thing about it was never pretending these teenagers will ever be normal again. They may wish and do normal things, but there was no "and now everyone's back to being 16 as we know it". That was my big fear and he handles it well.

So glad I finished this series, even 15 years on.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union

Image sourced from here
I struggled with this book for the first few weeks. I had no idea regarding the Jewish words and terminology. In Australia, unless you are in certain parts of Sydney or Melbourne, the Jewish culture isn't very prevalent. Which is a bit of a loss I feel. Although I have Jewish friends this knowledge only really extends to Pączkis at Hanukkah. Very much my loss. But also very time consuming while reading as I had to look up all these words and concepts.

Unfortunately really, the book picked up for me was in the last third of the book, while I was on holidays and had the 24 hour news channel on while the horrific Charlie Hebdo and related attacks were occurring. While reading about fictional Jewish extremism against Muslims in my book while having Muslim extremism against Jews on my screen, it showed incredibly clearly how ridiculous religious extremism and terrorism is. I don't care who you are, what divine right you think you have, what you are arguing, killing and destruction in the name of religion is deplorable, despicable, and 99% of the time in direct conflict with the religion you are invoking. And this dichotomy on the screen and in the book magnified this greatly.

The book is well thought out and presents a wonderful alternate reality where the Jewish population were relocated to Alaska instead of Israel. One I have thought of a few times as another option was central Australia. How would that society work and function? How would the host nation deal with this? This is crafted incredibly well.

I'm leaning to a 3.5 stars, and that is mainly due to my own lack of knowledge meaning I couldn't relax into the book. I have a few more of Chabon's books on the shelf, I will definitely try him again, as I feel that I will very much enjoy him with another subject matter.

I realised that my pile of books to be review was large. Large and imposing. And nearly toppling. And what that meant was I was beginning to procrastinate. I needed to review, quick and dirty, otherwise I was never going to review again. So. Dirty.

The Bat - Jo Nesbo

Really enjoyed this intro to Harry Hole. Did have the problem of reading your culture and language written in Norwegian and translated into English by a Brit. May be a market for an Australian/Norwegian translator for this one.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

I really enjoyed this while reading. After a few months of thinking on it, I think my opinion has gone down. But at the time of reading I liked being swept along (while sitting in hospital chairs unexpectedly) and didn't see the twist coming. Years of avoiding everything to do with this book was worth it.