Category Archives: Book Reviews

On Chesil Beach by vs On Chesil Beach (2017) – Book Review, Film Review

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

It’s the early sixties, Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting have just become engaged and headed to their Honeymoon at Chesil Beach. They are both virgins, and have had no sex education. So things are tense, each comes with their own baggage and things don’t go well.

I found this read long, slow and tedious. It had moments which almost seemed to get emotional but then it just dragged on. I saw that it was a film starring the wonderful Saorise Ronan and had to give it a try, to see how they could possibly have taken a story I found so dull and made it into a film.

On Chesil Beach (2017)

As it happens, the film was a pretty decent reflection of the book, which unfortunately meant it was slow and dull. Though apparently I might be a bit alone on that one… there were a lot of good reviews, though there are also a few clankers in there.

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Witches of New York by Ami McKay – Book Review

It’s New York in 1880.  Beatrice travels to New York believing that she may find her fate there, answering an advertisement for work at a tea shop. There she discovers that she has certain skills and the tea-shop owners, witches Eleanor and Adelaide, take her under their wing. But not everyone is accepting of witches. There is danger.

I love the world that McKay has created, taking from the true history of New York at the time, adding in some kick-arse women and making stuff happen. This is absolutely screaming for an adaptation, it would make a really wonderful TV series. Dark, magical, and ace.

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The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen – Book Review

Nguyen tells a series of stories of different accounts of refugees from Vietnam in various different American lives – from a young man who ends up living with a  gay couple in San Francisco to a girl whose brother, who died during their escape, has his ghost come to visit her.

Nguyen’s writing is so beautiful and these stories are heartbreaking.

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The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad – Book Review

Bani Adam is at school at Punchbowl Boys High School in Sydney which is a wild world of the violence and aggression of teenage boys. And it’s intense. Even though he is also Lebanese, the dominant group in the school, Bani sees himself as separate to them. He sees himself as smarter, more committed to his faith and generally just better.

It’s a hard book to read perhaps because it is so close to the ugly truth. The racism, the misogyny, the do-gooders, the otherness which is part of living in Australia. Ahmad went to the school some time ago, and so it may be representative of a different world, although has it changed much? I don’t know. I hope that things are getting better, nicer, kinder… but I know that may not be the case in reality.

 

The Lebs was shortlisted for the 2019 Miles Franklin Literary Award and won the Multicultural NSW Award at the 2019 NSW Literary Awards.

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The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater –  Book Review – TW violence

This is a very hard but a very important book for teenagers, based on an horrific event that happened in the US. A queergender teen named Sasha who liked to wear skirts was asleep on the bus home from school when an African-American teen called Richard as a joke set their skirt on fire. Sasha was badly burnt and was sent down a path of hospital stays and operations. Richard was charged as adult with hate crime. What the book does is it explores each of the teens lives, it doesn’t treat either as a statistic or a just as their gender identity or race or social status. It shows that things are often far more complicated that they see, with Sasha and their parents arguing against the type of change against Richard despite the horrible crime.

There is a lot to recommend this book. While it is an extremely hard concept to read about, it is a wonderful, in-depth book which also educates the reader on gender and sexuality, on the concept of hate-crimes and other legal things. It’s hard, but clever, and everyone should give this a go.

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The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde – Book Review

Detective Jack Spratt and his new assistant Sergeant Mary Mary work for the Nursery Crime division in this weird alternate reality world. However, the Nursery Crime division hasn’t been doing too well, so when Humpty Dumpty is found dead, the pressure is on.

I love these characters and this world, Fforde has such a delightful sense of humour and I really just love all the little tiny references to different rhymes and cultural references.

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The Clasp by Sloane Crosley – Book Review

Victor, Kezia and Nathaniel went to uni with each other, but now they are reaching 30 and trying to figure out who they are. Victor becomes obsessed with a possibly real fictional piece of jewellery and somehow, through their own paths, all three end up in France.

I felt as though I shouldn’t have enjoyed this book as much as I did –  the characters are annoyingly self-obsessed and under achieving – but it is funny and fun.  I wanted it to be about 50 pages longer (as I seem to often want from a book)- I felt like there was a lot of setup in the book and I wanted it to go further. I loved the meeting between Victor and the mother of the groom at a wedding and the obsession that Victor develops around this story. The idea that a brief but significant conversation can lead to a whole thing.

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