Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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This was written in 1915 and is an account of three male explorers discovering a land entirely composed of women. With no plot to speak of, and some dreadful writing, it’s pretty much just an exposition of how lovely an all female world would be. I’d give it a miss if I were you!


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.

Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason

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I’ve been challenging myself to read some new authors this year. I found the idea on a group on Goodreads to read authors with surnames starting with each letter of the alphabet. It sounded like a good idea and so far has produced a few good additions to my reading and a few rubbish ones. About what I expected. I’ll only read the one book by the rubbish ones and will be back for plenty more from the good ones (at least Tracy Chevalier, Robert Edric and Helen Garner so far). I had Arnaldur Indriðason bookmarked for the “I” slot in my challenge and I’m pleased to say that his name is going on the “good, try again” list.

This is a darkish police detective novel set in Reykjavík, Iceland. It’s the first one published in English but not the first of the series. The reader is somewhat thrown into the personal life of the main character, Erlander, without much back story – that’s fine. I find with translated works it takes me a while to forget that I’m reading a translation. I wonder if the author would really have picked that word or phrasing in English all the time. I have no knowledge of how translators work, I’m sure they are perfectly competent, I just somehow don’t trust them at first. After a while though I got absorbed in the story and forgot to look for holes in the language. Which is how it should be.

The plot here is deeper than it seemed at first and not as predictable as I thought it might be. The book is worthy of a wider audience beyond Iceland and I will certainly be reading the next installment.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.

This Is How by M.J. Hyland

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I liked MJ Hyland’s first two books a lot and am surprised how long it’s taken me to discover this one. It moves at what would be a slow pace if it wasn’t so beautifully written that it feels more like an elegant dance.

The only thing I can fault it for is moving that bit too slowly at first that, having not read the blurb or anything about the book, I put it down shortly before the pivotal moment at the end of part one and didn’t get back to it for a week. Once I got to that point it was practically unputdownable despite the fact that it couldn’t really be said to speed up.

I love the title, makes no sense until you read the story, then it makes perfect sense.

After three great reads Hyland’s next book will be a serious contender for buying in hardback.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a library book.

The Risk of Darkness (Simon Serrailler, #3) by Susan Hill

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Another really good book in an excellent series, this is the third. Definitely a middle of the series book though and not the place to start. It continues a story begun in the previous book and more or less ties it up. It doesn’t answer everything but I’m quite happy with it anyway.

Good, and I will keep reading. Not much more to say really!


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a paperback.

Can’t Let Go by Jane Hill

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I think I should probably give up on thrillers.

Oooooh, something bad is going to happen. Oh, no. It’s ok, not yet.

Right, something bad is going to happen now! No, that’s alright, nothing bad this time.

This time though something bad really is happening… Oooops no, not actually that bad.

Repeat for forty-odd chapters.

I may be shortchanging the book, and it did have some decent writing and some good characters. I had no trouble in believing in the characters. I just never believed anything was actually going to happen to the central character.

If you don’t see the twist coming then it might be a surprise – I don’t usually mind seeing the twist from a hundred pages away but this time I did as I didn’t think the book had much else to offer.

So yes, it’s probably just that I should give up on thrillers.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.

The Spare Room by Helen Garner

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A tale of one friend caring for another friend who is dying of cancer doesn’t sound like much of a page turning novel, but it is. Nicola travels from Sydney to Melbourne to stay in Helen’s spare room and get treatment from a new clinic. The relationship between them leaps from close to strained and back again as they both deal with the situation. Helen thinks the treatment Nicola is receiving is pure quackery, Nicola doesn’t want to face the fact that she’s going to die. Helen is up all night helping Nicola out, Nicola claims she doesn’t need nursing. It’s a great little book with a good mix of sad and happy parts. Good exploration of friendship and caring.

A couple of things that seemed off to me: I find it a bit creepy when authors use their own name for characters – I don’t mind if fiction is drawn from autobiography and have no idea if that’s the case here or not – I just find it a bit weird. Of all the names out there couldn’t they pick another? It makes me think there is some meaning to using their own name and that I’m missing something. And I found the end of the book a bit rushed; although I could see why the author had finished it as she did I was left wanting some more. Despite that I do appreciate the brevity – it’s the kind of book where you get to realise things for yourself, the author doesn’t feel the need to tell you the same thing over and over again.

I’d recommend it.


More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.