Splinter the Silence By Val McDemid – Book Review

A series of young women are being targeted and murdered and no-one can figure out why. At least not until Carol Jordan and Tony Hill are on the case. Cyber-attacks play a large part in it.

I take great pleasure in reading mystery books set in the recent past with limited internet/technology. At the time, they were probably cutting edge. But with things changing so quickly, it’s almost impossible to keep that fresh, and now it’s like a nostalgic walk… albeit one with horrifically murdered youngsters along the way.

Soon by Morris Gleitzman – Book Review

The war is over, but as Felix has discovered, this does not mean people have changed. In Poland, militaristic patriotic groups have sprouted and are forcing anyone with less than pure Polish blood to either leave or be killed. There is not enough food, streets are filled with rubble and, beneath the rubble, dead people. Felix is living in hiding with a small child when he stumbles into a bad situation – the kind of bad situation that leaves you with a death threat hanging over you and a small baby that you cannot care for in your arms. To help himself and the child, he must trust people and his own instincts.

It’s wonderful to be back in Felix’s world, even though it is a tough and scary world. But what is truly wonderful is I’ve not read much set post-WWII, and this is fascinating. To see Poland at peace, but not yet at peace, to see the struggles that they have to go through. It was painfully wonderful.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Book Review

Simon is gay, but he hasn’t told anyone. He has a secret email pen-pal, Blue, another gay teen from his school, and when this secret relationship is discovered by Martin, who decides to go down the path of blackmail, Simon is trapped. While he doesn’t want to be outed, he thinks that everyone close to him will be okay with it, but he’s scared to cause Blue to be outed too.

This is wonderful. Becky Albertali creates great characters who are interesting and it’s easy to get drawn into their world. Simon is totally annoying at times, but I was on his side the whole time and wanted everything to work out for him. It’s a rollercoaster, but one worth riding.

Sharp Objects vs Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – TV Review and Book Review

Camille (Amy Adams) is a journalist unwillingly sent back to her home town to investigate a missing girl. She doesn’t want to return because she has memories of her cruel mother(Patricia Clarkson), her distant father (Henry Czerny), the sister who died (Lulu Wilson) and the sister who remains (Eliza Scanlen). But when the disappearance turns out to be a murder, the tensions become deeper. Haunted by her past (and her present), Camille spirals. Then there’s the sexy out-of-town cop (Chris Messina), the local cop who has a close friendship with Camille’s mother (Matt Craven) and the group of friends who remind Camille of the world she left behind.

This show was compelling, strong performances, beautifully created, and it had this mysterious style which captured the often drunk POV of Camille, along with these sharps cuts and loud, sudden, sharp noises which made the whole thing disjointed and strange.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

After watching, I wanted to read the book (as is often my want) and it was fascinating to read the source material and see how it had been taken and shaped into the show. Both tell the same story, but in such different ways it was almost like two totally separate projects. Both pretty impressive.

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld – Book Review

This is a strange one… Sittenfeld has created an alternative reality book based on what would have happened had Hilary not married Bill (these are the Clintons we’re talking about here). It’s strange because… Hilary’s a real person. In fact, many people in this book are real. And current. And reading about them in this way is… well, it’s strange. To say the least!

Firstly, the opening section is the ‘reality’ – it’s an historical fiction account of Hilary’s life when she met Bill and how they got together. With a lot of sex, which given that they are (as mentioned previously) real, it’s… strange. Then things branch out into an alternative reality, when Sittenfeld makes up what might have happened.

Despite the strangeness, I was compelled to read this book. I just couldn’t put it down. I kind of loved it.

Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park – Audio Book Review

It’s the early 80s in Sydney. Abigail’s parents are splitting and she’s not coping well with this. Often, she takes the children from her next door neighbour in the apartment block down to the playground, and they see a strange girl hanging about. One day, on her own, Abigail chases her and ends up travelling back in time a hundred years, unsure of how to get home, but safely taken care of by the family of the little girl, Beatie Bow.

I LOVED this book as a kid. Reading it now, there are some aspects that I still enjoyed, but jeez, Abigail is annoying. Plus the whole splitting up parents storyline is oh so fraught and problematic. I suppose it’s all a product of its time, but… ooch. Hard to love it so much. Some things perhaps should just live in our memories!

Phosphorescence: On Awe, Wonder and Things That Sustain You When the World Goes Dark by Julia Baird – Book Review

Baird is an Aussie journalist who’s had a terrible run of health and other issues, but has come through it through her love of early morning sea swimming. In this book, she explores this and how to get through tough times.

It’s beautiful, that’s for sure. And I’m somewhat jealous not just that she lives somewhere so close to the beaches of Sydney, that she has a top group of swimming mates and that this is the thing for her that she draws on for her own health. However, it’s not my thing, and just reading about it was plenty for me.

Certainly, the coincidence of this book coming out right during the first Melbourne lockdown meant that it really had a strong drive for many folks.

Past Tense by Lee Child – Book Review

On his usual drifting around the US, Reacher spots a sign to his father’s hometown and decides to take a visit. But when he gets there, no-one’s heard of the name Reacher, nothing’s in the records. As always, Reacher is not satisfied with this and sets out to track down the truth and, of course, nothing is as it seems.

Great. One of the great Reacher books. Mystery, confusion, and a whole heap of bad guys and violence. Just what we’re after from a Reacher.

One Summer by David Baldacci – Book Review

A man is terribly ill, terminal, down to his last days. Then his wife has a car accident and dies and he makes a mysterious recovery. After weeks of rehab, he collects his children and heads to his wife’s beach house for the summer.

It is a cheesy book, certainly not the style of book expected from Baldacci. It’s well written and not a bad plot, and I think a lot of readers would really enjoy it. I didn’t hate it, but found it a bit schmaltzy for my liking.

Olive Kitteridge vs Olive Kitteridge plus Olive, Again – TV and Book Review

Olive Kitteridge

Any time I see that Frances McDormand is in something, I want to check it out. So with no prior knowledge of the production, I watched the short series Oliver Kitteridge and it was fascinating. Not exactly linear, yet mostly so. No overall story arch, but more like a series of shorts. Olive (Frances McDormand) is pretty unpleasant but yet the audience is on her side. We want her to succeed despite the way she treats people – she’s direct but to the point of being offensive. She’s the type of person that I’d hate to have in my life, yet if she was and I made her happy for me or proud of me, it would be a huge feat. The series is charming but not lightweight. And made me desperate to read the book.

Olive Ketteridge plus Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout

The book is wonderful. Each chapter is its own story, sometimes with Olive as the main focus and othertimes with her presence more in the background. Like the show, she is unlikeable yet very lovable. The way she treats those she loves so harshly and sometimes seems to have far more generosity for those she’s not close to. A second book, Olive, Again, came out last year and I was a little hesitant, worried that it might not live up to the wonder that the first book inspired in me. But I shouldn’t have worried. It was delightful.