Sample Saturday – a murder, a bride, and a Penelope

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. Continue reading

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Stink. Bloody. Rotting. Decay. Putrid. Stench. Rancid. Filthy. These are the words that dominate Sarah Schmidt’s historical gothic novel, See What I Have Done. There’s also lots of sweat, bits of brains, vomit, decapitated pigeons, decomposing flesh, and blood spattered walls.

It’s the story of the 1892 axe-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Massachusetts. Forensics wasn’t what it is today – the murderer left little evidence. Eventually, the youngest daughter, Lizzie Borden, was arrested, spent ten months in jail and stood trial but was ultimately acquitted (due to a technicality and inconclusive evidence from witnesses).

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the case, nor the accuracy of the detail as presented by Schmidt (there are hundreds of reviews of this book and others related to the murders, if that’s your thing). I should point out that I am apparently the only person in the world who knew nothing about this case until reading See What I Have Done. Absolutely nothing. So again, it’s pointless commenting on accuracy but I do have thoughts on Schmidt’s writing style and the way she tells the story. Continue reading

Reading in the danger zone

kenny-loggins

Do you start singing a certain Kenny Loggins hit when you hear the words ‘comfort zone’? I do. Even though comfort and danger are pretty much opposites… Anyhoo, my comfort zone is contemporary literature. I don’t stray often but there have been some notable (and excellent) exceptions in the last year or so –

Speculative Fiction Continue reading

The top 32 from the Best Books of 2015 List of Lists

best-books-of-2015

Even more exciting (and wildly popular) than my 2014 List of Lists was my post on the Best of the Best. It was the books that appeared most frequently on all of the lists I listed. So before I have to write the words ‘best of the best’ and ‘list of lists’ again, here it is, the 2015 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2015-Book-Lists-in-November top 32 books to add to your To-Be-Read stack. Continue reading

This House of Grief by Helen Garner

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Here’s the thing when I read true crime: I struggle to withhold my own verdict. I struggle not to cast myself as judge, jury, observer. At the same time, I really try to keep an open mind, willing the author to show me aspects of the story that haven’t already been cemented by the newspapers, 60 Minutes or similar. I’m actively avoiding sharing my own judgement in regards to the Farquharson case, the subject of Helen Garner’s latest, This House of Grief, short of saying that it’s a deeply tragic story. Continue reading

Top Ten Tuesday – Australian Modern Literature

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a new ‘top ten’ challenge is posted – anyone can join in. This week’s topic is a ‘freebie‘ – book bloggers can go crazy on their pet topic.

I tossed around a few ideas for a theme – I love all things Art Deco and 1920s and I’m also always drawn to stories set in New York or New England – strong possibilities for my top ten. However, from my observation, most of the bloggers participating in Top Ten Tuesday live in the US so I figured this week’s ‘freebie’ was the perfect opportunity to wave the flag for some talented Australian authors (with a particular focus on books that have been published in recent years). Here’s my top ten: Continue reading

‘Tiger, Tiger’ by Margaux Fragoso

Now for the most confronting book I’ve ever read.

I don’t restrict my reading to ‘warm and fuzzy’ books. Whilst I don’t seek out horror, true crime or books from similar genres I am prepared to read the less palatable, provided it’s in context (although, that said, there was a scene in Brett Easton Ellis’s Imperial Bedrooms that may have scarred me for life). Reading should be enjoyable but it should also be sometimes challenging  – unfortunately those things aren’t always synonymous. I finished Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso two weeks ago and I am still trying to order my feelings about the book.

Tiger, Tiger is a memoir. The jacket blurb reads –

“I still think about Peter, the man I loved most in the world, all the time.

At two in the afternoon, when he would come and pick me up and take me for rides; at five, when I would read to him, head on his chest; in the despair at seven p.m., when he would hold me and rub my belly for an hour; in the despair again at nine p.m. when we would go for a night ride, down to the Royal Cliffs Diner in Englewood Cliffs where I would buy a cup of coffee with precisely seven sugars and a lot of cream. We were friends, soul mates and lovers. 

I was seven. He was fifty-one. They were the happiest days of my life.” Continue reading