I’ve recently joined a social network called Good Reads, which is where people review and recommend (or not) books they’ve read. It’s free to join and I’ve found it really useful in terms of getting book recommendations from people you know and like. If you do join, my user name is emmamccleary so look me up.
The photo above is my pile of books I read over the Christmas break – along with Lola by Elizabeth Smither, which I’ve leant to Mum. I’m still reading The Finkler Question but here’s what I thought of the others… as reviewed on Good Reads.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (5 starts)
I put off reading this book for about a year because of my own experiences with grief. I thought it would be overwhelming and difficult to deal with and boy was I wrong.
Joan Didion has written a factual, meaningful, truthful but at times academic account of grief that is captivating, intense and enjoyable all at once.
I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the ’empty-gut’ feeling of grief and sudden loss, with the medical and factual accounts of what had happened. But for me, the real magic of this book was the snippets of memory – at once both beautiful, haunting and griping.
A highly recommended book that you’ll get through quickly because it is so well written.
In the Winter Dark by Tim Winton (4 stars)
Nobody does tension and suspense like Tim Winton – this book skipped along and was a thoroughly enjoyable read in Mr Winton’s usual well-crafted language.
The group of four characters were relate-able, well-crafted and believable. Having grown up in a rural area, the setting was true and the story something that I wanted to return to at once, so I ended up reading this in a day.
I enjoyed the snippets and clues of narrative that wove into the main story and brought a depth and interest.
A great read – and if you enjoyed this but really want to ratchet up the suspense and tension, then read ‘The Riders.’
My only gripe was the dedication of the book, which put the cart before the horse. Rip that page out before lending the book to others.
The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton (4 stars)
The Hilliker Curse by James Elroy (3 stars)
A masterclass in mother issues and how to ruin relationships. This is the first James Ellroy I’d read and once I’d got used to the staccato writing style and gumshoe tone it was an enjoyable read by an author I had only a passing knowledge of.
Pleasant enough if not something that will remain memorable. I enjoyed the telling of at times an angst ridden selfish tale in a way that remained interesting without being irritating. I felt absolutely no connection to Ellroy himself in the memoir or to any of the women but would recommend it as something to potter through that won’t change your life.
Lola by Elizabeth Smither (4 stars)
I picked up Lola with some Booksellers Tokens I’d been given as a gift because I’d heard snippets of it read on Radio New Zealand National and was attracted to the funeral home storyline.
Lola was an easy read of interwoven narrative and strong, especially female, characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the relationship between Alice and Lola and when Alice died about halfway through the book (that’s on the synopsis on the back cover so I’m not giving anything away) I felt she took some of the books heart with her.
I read this as a summer read and it was perfect for that. Entertaining, well-written but quite forgettable save for the big themes and the information on the back cover.