Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sons for the Return Home by Albert Wendt – Book Review *Slight spoiler*

This is the autobiographical story of Albert Wendt whose family moved from Samoa to New Zealand when he was a child. As a young man, he is trying to find is place in a world that’s not quite his.

While story feels very much of the sixties/seventies, it could easily be today, though hopefully some of the attitudes have changed. There is also the problematic issue that there is some domestic violence in this and it just kind of gets skated over. It’s a tricky one, because my expectation is that if this type of thing happens, there should be some kind of, I don’t know, at least regret. But here it happens and life goes on, and that’s a bit difficult. And of course something written twenty years ago shouldn’t be changed to today’s expectations, but it can be a bit hard to take.

Generally, the book is beautiful and heartbreaking and poetic. And given that I don’t think any of the characters were given names, at no time was I confused about who was being written about or what was happening.

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Book Review

Eleanor Oliphant has worked in the same job since she left college, keeps to herself and likes her life the way it is. However, things start to change when she meets someone and decides it’s time for her to move into the next phase of her adult life.

I loved this book. Honeyman drip-feeds the information, which kept me reading, desperate to know more. And I loved that it was from Eleanor’s perspective, so that we really knew what she finds absurd and strange and why. I couldn’t put this book down – I read it in a weekend. Beautiful.

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The Enemy by Lee Child – Book Review

The Enemy takes us into Jack Reacher’s past, back to when he was a Military Policeman and dealing with a most unusual case. There are people dying, and at the same time, army officials are being moved from base to base across the globe. Reacher is suspicious, and once he finds a couple of people he can trust (unsurprisingly one being a highly attractive woman), he gets to work figuring it out.

Oh, so good. Young Reacher, Reacher’s brother, travelling the world, it’s all happening. At school, the mum of one of my mates used to call these types of books chewing gum books – in the same way that chewing gum tricks your stomach into thinking that it’s about to eat, reading these books trick your mind into thinking it’s about to get some knowledge. (Actually, the Reacher books are a lot better than the rubbish I was enjoying back then, but similar). I like to think of them as palate cleansers – just to get me ready for another mental meal.

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Persuader by Lee Child – Book Review

Given that the main reason for starting this blog was as film and book diary for myself, the key question I really need to have with the Jack Reacher books that I love so much is how to tell which is which? So, for myself, this is the one with the swimming in the freezing cold ocean past the wall. I reckon I’ll know what I mean.

In this book, Jack Reacher is infiltrating the house of a criminal mastermind, using his son as the way in. See, an FBI agent went missing while trying to crack a case, and Reacher needs to set things right. (It’s hardly a spoiler alert to say that he does – but it’s in the way that he does it. Fabulous.)

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Queen of the Zombie Hearts by Gena Showalter – Book Review

The third book in the White Rabbit chronicles, Alice Bell and her slayer friends are still battling the zombies, plus the awful corporation, and still trying to find her way in her love life.

What I particularly like about these books is while they are somewhat cheesy and a little bit creepy (far too much sexy talk about spanking for me), they don’t seem to go the to the typical dystopia of so many YA novels. I want to see where the characters go. I want them to win, and I want them to have a happy ending. I’m more than happy to go to the fourth and (I think) final in the series.

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Postcards from the Edge vs Postcards from the Edge

Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher – Book Review

Upon the recent and tragic passing of the wonderful Carrie Fisher, I decided to revisit some of her writing, and first up was Postcards from the Edge. What a wonderful book – fabulous sarcasm wrapped up in self-doubt and the wondrous world of Hollywood in the eighties. It’s mostly told from the point of view of Suzanne Vale, an actress who has a drug issue and is facing reaching her thirties in the middle of a superficial world.

It’s a great read – a quick read, spaced out like a series of vignettes, almost a semi formed book. But what confused me, and made me really want to watch the film is the fact that Suzanne’s mother is mentioned once, maybe twice in the book, but yet is part of the poster for the film – how was this film translated from the book?

Postcards from the Edge (1990) – Film Review

Fisher has taken the key storyline of her novel, Suzanne Vale’s recovery from drug addiction and added in a whole lot of her mother. And with Meryl Streep playing Suzanne and Shirley MacLaine playing her mother, how could you not want more of them! These two women know comedy, and they know drama, and they know that both come playing it real, and even when being over the top. It’s funny and sad and crazy and fabulous.

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The Power by Naomi Alderman – Audio Book Review

Living in the age of Trump and Weinstein and Don Burke is a very strange time. The revelations of so many, varied forms of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and beyond brings hope that this culture is changing, that the world will be safer for women. (And men… imagine a world safer for everyone?). But I find it is also a fearful place to be, where there is a lot of knee jerking response, and men (and women) are often defensive in a way that builds my fear of backlash that could create a nastier and more dangerous world. It’s brain twisting.

So, imagine a world where women suddenly have a physical power, the ability to deliver electric shocks. Suddenly, women are physically stronger, and are able to dominate men in almost every way. How would this play out across the globe? In places where women are clearly oppressed, like Saudi Arabia, compared to places where the power gap is far more minimal, such as the US or the UK? Would the world be a kinder place, a gentler place?

I cannot stop thinking about this book. I listened to it through Audible (and huge kudos to the narrators – the author, Noami Alderman, as well as Adjoa Andoh, Thomas Judd, Emme Fenney and Phil Nightingale) and finished it several weeks ago, but it keeps coming back to me. It was brought to my attention because it won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction this year and I think I have recommended it to everyone I know, including strangers in a bookshop (to be fair, we were recommending books to each other). Alderman has such a great imagining of a wide range of possibilities.

I often like to re-read a book, but usually after time has passed and I can view it anew. But with this one, I can’t wait. I need to read it again. And probably again.

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