Books Finished January 2012

I bought this at the Folio bookshop in town - 2 years ago.  I'd started it and then ended up back on my shelf.  But this time I got stuck in and enjoyed the romp.  The concept isn't new - Lawrence Block and I think others have done similar things - but Ewan writes well, I love the Parisian setting and there is some good humour alongside the nastier characters - although not really very nasty at all I guess, compared to some books.

This was give to me recently - and I was drawn to the food theme.  There are some amazing descriptions of food, and some wonderfully larger-than-life characters, but I think it could have been so much better.  What was the focus?  There is a lot of set up to Hassan's eventual start as a chef - but then it's as if the air is let out of the balloon - the high energy kind of dissipates.  There were some annoying little editing glitches - nothing major, but still....    A good book, yes, and it definitely draws you in, yes, and it's well written, yes.  But certainly not outstanding....

This is the first book by Stella Rimington and more were to follow.  She had an amazing career in MI5, and she is a pretty good writer too.  I loved the thrill of it and the inside knowledge.  I enjoyed the characters.  Realistically drawn.  The ending was kind of lame - there was a huge build up to something major, but you know it can't possibly be that, and you work out what the alternative is and it just is not right.  Not a huge quibble - a really entertaining book.

I "met" the red dog who was in the movie when I was at the Byron Bay Writers Festival - which is why I had to buy the book.  A pretty good kids' book I guess.  The stories are supposed to be true, as de Bernieres did some good research.  You got a feel for the mining life in the 70s, and of course Red Dog's personality is larger than life.

I'd never heard of Jennifer Egan when I saw this book at Riverbend - I was browsing, but wanted to support the shop and took a chance and bought it.  I so enjoyed reading it.  It's kind of like a set of interlinked stories, but the same characters appear and re-appear.  Insightful and depressing at times, the characters have depth to them and Egan inserts lots of philosophical moments without being up herself.  Life is a mess, but somehow we get through it.

Until I read a review I didn't even twig that the title was a pun - sigh! - I'm slipping.  I was looking for someone else to say they didn't like it - but no, everyone thought it was wonderful and witty and light hearted - what?  A light hearted murder?  Hmmm.  It just didn't gel with me, and I've been a Halligan fan for a long time.  The Colonel is a client who spares no expense in hiring Cassandra (an editor), has her stay in his amazing house on the coast, disappears all the time, bottles apricots, and we later learn has other "interests".  Cassandra, who has her tyre changed by someone driving a car with the licence plate "Hotbaby", thinks HE's the murderer - on extremely tenuous grounds.  And there's more.  As I said, it just didn't gel for me.  What I did like were the Canberra scenes - places that are familiar and I felt at home.  There is a sequel but I won't be bothered with that.  Interestingly, I listened to this on CD some ago and really had little memory of it - so I wonder what that says?

I saw Tim at the Byron Bay Writes Festival last year.  He was clever and amusing and witty, and that is what you get with this book.  The first part seeks to analyse comedy - not easy - but he does a very good job, and it's worth getting the book for this alone.  The second part explores how to write a sit-com.  I tell you, I had NO IDEA what goes on behind the scenes in order to get an episode together - and that's simply from the writing point of view.  Tim's style is perfect - he pitches it so you learn without the content being over your head and without feeling dumb.  Excellent.  Bonus - when I opened my copy I found it was signed!!

I saw this is one of those high end gift shops - $50 if you please.  I WAS tempted, but I'm so glad I resisted.  The library version worked for me.  This is a lovely coffee table book - but it doesn't really bear re-reading.  The text is somewhat light, the photos are beautiful, but I would rather have my own to look through and remember. 

I am a huge fan of the shopaholic series - and when I saw this I thought - okaaay, could be good or could be bad (reading Evanovich's forays into the romantic genre was not a pleasant experience).  For $4, though, I was prepared to take the risk.  It was great - Wickham is a plotter extraordinaire.  There is humour, tension, honesty - I really enjoyed it.  It all starts when two (quite different) families end up at the same Spanish villa at the same time.  Hugh and Chloe are surprised to see each other - they have History.  Hugh and Philip find out they have a connection too.  The Aussie babysitter is a hoot.

I first read this years and years ago and loved it.  I saw it in a thrift shop the other day (when I was, sadly, sans Kindle and sans any other book - how did THAT happen?).  For 20c (I know!!) I grabbed it and devoured it all over again.  It's the (true) story of Patsy's experience building a house in Sydney in the mid 1980s.  Not much DOESN'T go wrong, but she tells it in a light way, and her people management skills are wonderful to behold.

This is another re-read.  I devoured it the first time, and then gave it away.  I got it as a Christmas gift, so decided to read it again - this time I enjoyed it more I think.  I found lots of new authors to discover, and have read quite a few she wrote about.  Sara talks about her commitment to read one book a week for the year and write about it.  Her writing wanders into other territory such as relationships, do you choose a book or does a book choose you, and so on.  Very good.