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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.