Thursday, August 28, 2014

Reading in 2014 - Dirt Music

Dirt Music by Tim Winton

Dirt Music'Set in the dramatic landscape of Western Australia, "Dirt Music" is a love story about people stifled by grief and regret; a novel about the odds of breaking with the past and about the lure of music. Dirt music, Fox tells Georgie, is "anything you can play on a verandah or porch, without electricity." Even in the wild, Luther cannot escape it. There is, he discovers, no silence in nature.

Ambitious, perfectly calibrated, "Dirt Music" resonates with suspense and supercharged emotion -- and it confirms Tim Winton's status as the preeminent Australian novelist of his generation.'
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tim Winton's writing is quite amazing. He can write a scene and have you there, smelling the salt-water, feeling the gritty sand in your clothes and the relentless heat of the sun, yet he does it with a masterful use of fairly sparse language. With Winton I never feel bogged down in pages of description of trees or light or landscapes (unlike Bryce Courtney as one example).

For me though, the plot and characters in this one were a bit underwhelming. I often wondered where the story was heading and was left scratching my head at the end with no resolution. It was a fairly convoluted tale with lots of side stories that were never explored or developed. The back stories of the main characters were heavily hinted at but never explained, and to be able to empathise or simply understand the relationships and actions of the characters you needed those back stories.

I was left unsatisfied with far too many 'Why?'s to be able to say this was a great book.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Reading in 2014 - The Language of flowers

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The Language of Flowers
'The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love.
But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them.
An unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.'

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another one of the books pulled off the shelf for me by our librarian when I begged for assistance with picking some decent books.
I enjoyed it.
I think the style seemed to change mid-book, from a drama (coming-of-age, rising-from-adversity, girl-conquers-terrible-childhood) to a more standard girl-meets-boy-and-eventually-get-it-together-after-overcoming-obstacles/misunderstandings/sheer-pigheadedness-with-a-not-so-subtle-twist romance.
But that's okay. It is chick-lit. It reads like a movie script - but the sort where they change the end when they actually make the movie. It won't change your life but it will give you a few pleasant hours of escapism. We all need that sometimes.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Reading in 2014 - Coal Creek

Coal Creek by Alex Miller

Coal Creek
'The new novel from Australia's highly acclaimed literary treasure is an extraordinarily powerful exploration of tragedy, betrayal, the true nature of friendship and the beauty of lasting love.

'Me and Ben had been mates since we was boys and if it come to it I knew I would have to be on his side.'

Miller's exquisite depictions of the country of the Queensland highlands form the background of this simply told but deeply significant novel of friendship, love, loyalty and the tragic consequences of misunderstanding and mistrust. Coal Creek is a wonderfully satisfying novel with a gratifying resolution. It carries all the wisdom and emotional depth we have come to expect from Miller's richly evocative novels.'

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was picked out for me by the local librarian when I was whinging about not being able to pick anything that appealed to me. It was handed over with the warning that some people find the language and style a little hard to get into - but this was far from the case for me.

This reads as a memoir with a unique style and rhythm - the rhythm of the man and the rhythm of the land. It is sparse and measured and has the ring of truth to it. The only disappointing thing about this book is coming back to yourself at the end of it and remembering that it is a work of fiction not an actual autobiography.

It isn't a light read but it isn't very demanding either. Beautifully written and carefully crafted by an author that I will seek out again.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Reading in 2014 - Doctor Sleep

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Doctor Sleep (The Shining, #2)'An epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of hyper-devoted readers of The Shining and wildly satisfy anyone new to the territory of this icon in the King canon.

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The instantly riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special 12-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.'

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I bought this while on holidays and then kept getting cranky with the family for expecting me to put it down and spend time with them (the things we do for the ones we love...!).

I must be the only person in the world that has read this but not read The Shining (or watched the movie) but that really didn't matter. In fact, the trips down memory lane may possibly get annoying if you had read it fairly recently.

I enjoyed it. It is classic Stephen King. Entertaining, a bit gruesome, a bit creepy, enough going on to keep me turning the pages but also simple enough to dip in and out of holiday-reading-style without losing track of the plot or the characters.