lizabelle: (Book and sea)
Sydney's coolest bookshop has opened another outlet in the Inner West, and this weekend the city's literati turned out to celebrate. Booker winner Thomas Keneally was among the authors appearing at Gleebooks in Dulwich Hill on Saturday. He was joined by Miles Franklin-shortlisted (and local) Charlotte Wood, Commonwealth Writers' Prize-shortlisted Michelle de Kretser and young adult author Georgia Blain, before the day was wrapped up with a serving of poetry.


Party time on Marrickville Road

More under the cut: Garth Nix, Irfan Yusuf and PM Newton... )
lizabelle: (So many books)
The Gathering - Anne Enwright

I was underwhelmed by the blurb for this book, even when it won the Booker. "Family gathers together and the cracks start showing" - I seem to have read this kind of book so often. Nevertheless, Enwright very much achieves what she seems to have set out to do here, in a way that's moving and very readable. I thought it was brilliant, but the subject matter is too sad to make it enjoyable. Four stars.

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith

This was longlisted for the Booker last year, and I do wonder how much damage that did it. Any association with the Booker Prize inevitably raises expectations, and mine were thoroughly squashed after a few chapters of this. Which isn't to say that it's a terrible book - it was very readable, the setting (the end of the Stalinist era in the Soviet Union) was fascinating and the writer has a lovely turn of phrase. But the execution felt sloppy (sometimes literally in regard to punctuation), the characters a little too one-dimensional, and in the end, I just couldn't get enthusiastic about the story. Two stars.

The Women in Black - Madeleine St John

Fun! This is simply a perfectly poised novel - very light reading, and in some ways I suspect an exercise in wish-fulfilment, but (as a reviewer on the back cover mentions) like the perfect little black dress. Set in 1960s Sydney, it unfolds the lives of several "women in black" (working in a David Jones-like department store, who change into their regulation black dresses on arrival at work each morning) as they intersect during one busy Christmas. Four stars, and I'll be reading more Madeleine St John.

Blackout - Connie Willis

I have been trying very hard not to buy new books recently (you can see a pic of the overflow from our creaking bookshelves here), but when I noticed a new novel by Connie Willis, in her time-travel Oxford universe, how was I supposed to resist? Besides, it's set during the Blitz, and I have a bit of a thing for war stories. So I dug out my Dymocks voucher, which I'd been hoarding for emergencies, and two days (and five hundred pages) later, I'm now desperately awaiting the sequel.

Read more... )

Finally, have a link to The Morning News Tournament of Books, because it makes me gleeful.
lizabelle: (Book stack)
** (out of a possible *****)

I'm amused that the first "official" review on here is going to be such a negative one, because I'm usually quite a soft reviewer. I'm easily pleased: I can overlook a few flaws if a book has moved me enough.

Unfortunately, Restless failed to move me in the slightest, unless you count the number of times I rolled my eyes when I bumped up against yet another cliché or problem.

I should probably say that I enjoyed the book despite its flaws. It's an easy read, and a vaguely interesting one at times. I was keen to read the wartime setting, since that's an old favourite of mine, and the first chapter, in which twentysomething Ruth introduces us to her son and her widowed mother, was pretty engaging.

The book moves between 1976 (Ruth's storyline) and World War II (her mother's story). Ruth's chapters are told in the first person and Eva's/Sally's in the more distant third person POV; this may or may not be relevant later on.

It was when we moved onto Eva's story that the eyerolling commenced. The very first words of her story are "Eva Delectorskaya". Eva Delectorskaya? Delectorskaya? Come on, Mr Boyd. You just wanted to make everyone think of "delectable" when they saw her name, didn't you?

Cut for discussion of plot points with mild spoilers )

Mainly, I found the characters and plot implausible, and it's always annoying when you spot the baddie in chapter three and spend the rest of the narrative yelling at the characters for being so dim.


lizabelle: (Default)

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