Iimages (2)enjoy Australian novels and was looking forward to The Dry, Jane Harper’s debut crime novel, which was well reviewed. However, the book did not work for me chiefly because there was so much emphasis on the twenty year old death of a local teenage girl, which was – in the mind of the investigator – linked to the current heinous crime of a family murder. Other Australian novels have conveyed a vivid sense of the land, the life, the seasons, notably Tim Winton’s books; the Dry didn’t offer much in this direction. It portrayed small town Australia at its worst. I didn’t find any of the characters appealing either. In short: a disappointment. To be fair, the denouement did come as a big surprise when I finally discovered ( as I said, the book is overlong) whodunnit.

I thought I’d give Nick Petrie’s Light It Up a try and what a hectic ride/read that turned out to be! Non-stop action from war vet ex-Marine Peter Ash against the background of Denver’s legalized cannabis industry. The shenanigans involved the vast cash payments being transported, not the actual weed. A thrilling read.

For years I’d been intrigued by the title Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.  I enjoy books about books, and had mistakenly assumed the novel stemmed from a writing group or literary magazine. I was wrong. Shy Swedish bookstore assistant travels to USA to meet a fellow reader, only to discover her hostess has died. She remains in the boring small town, and opens a bookstore using her hostess’s library for stock. A somewhat improbable plot, but this is fiction, and its called literary license. For me, the title was the best part of the book. After the initial shocking opening, the plot was predictable.

Forever and a Day – Anthony Horowitz. 007 revisioned in style: plenty of action, fast cars, beautiful women, sadistic villains, deadly plots. Great quick read.


The Queen of the Night – Alexander Chee. Epic historical novel, set in France 1867 onwards. Will appeal to opera fans, historical buffs and lovers of sagas.

The Dry – Jane Harper. Australian crime novel. Bleak and over-long. Small town Australia at its most unappealing.
Light It Up – Nick Petrie. Non-stop action thriller, cash heists, dangerous war vets, mercenaries, and a terrific female lead who looks after herself fearlessly. Recommended.
Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald, translated by Alice Menzies. A Swedish tourist, a boring small town in middle America, a predictable plot. Not a rave read, but okay.


The Portable Veblen – Elizabeth McKenzie. I enjoy quirky books & this one is a 5-star weird, wonderfully engaging read. Dysfunctional families, the evil pharmaceutical industry, and Veblen who talks to squirrels. No, really. Recommended.



Re-reads: Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott. I’m slowly re-reading her classic non-fiction advice on writing, and life. Enjoying chewing over each leisurely chapter. I seldom re-read, but this exercise is proving fruitful.



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Lesley Anne Ivory is the illustrator, par (or should I say ‘purr’) excellence, when it comes to cats. As some of you already know, I’m a cat fan of note. So it was a foregone conclusion that I would enjoy her little book of Christmas Cats. Not only did I enjoy it – I loved every page, and returned I the book with the utmost reluctance to my friend who lent it to me.
The small book is charming, delightful, heartwarming; each page shows one of the artist’s cats depicted in scenes of an English countryside Christmas – snow, holly, distant churches, twinkling yellow lights. It’s a nostalgia fest de luxe, and its gorgeous. One of the things I enjoy about Lesley Anne Ivory’s cat paintings is that they are meticulous portraits of these graceful animals, and not  caricatures, or stylised images. Each cat’s personality is evident in each portrait.
I particularly enjoyed the neat borders around each portrait, decorated with holly, robins, rosy red apples, pine cones, red, white and green Christmas stockings – all the much loved trimmings of a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas.
I read the book after Christmas, in mid-January which was a pretty good time to have an attack of the warm fuzzies don’t you think?


P.S. Give yourself a treat and Google  for Images – LAI  ; you have a feast  in store. Enjoy!