About Edie Hawthorne

Wishes she could read more than she does.

The Lady Has Wonderful Eyes

Sophie and the Sibyl
Patricia Duncker
Bloomsbury
June, 2015, RRP $29.99

Sophie and the sibylBefore I start I should mention that there are a few minor spoilers within this review. So if you are sensitive to that sort of thing best look away now.

A long time ago I read a historical romance in which the heroine had, unbeknownst to her family, run off to live with an artist—our romantic hero—with no discussion of marriage. At one point in the novel they went to visit the beautiful and spirited lady novelist George Eliot, who, if I remember rightly, bestowed some words of wisdom about living with conviction, or something. It was meant to make the heroine feel better about not following the proper path for a young lady of her time. Continue reading

On the Beat

Tennison
Lynda La Plante
Simon and Schuster
September 2015, RRP$39.99

TennisonA long time ago—back when the term ‘on a school night’ actually referred to a night before attending a learning institution—I remember sticking a tape into a VCR recorder to capture the rest of the first Prime Suspect mini-series. It was after all a school night and Netflix was not yet the tiniest twinkle in a TV addict’s eye. I don’t remember the series in great detail; Helen Mirren striding down a corridor to visit someone in the cells, Helen Mirren drinking more than she should, Helen Mirren yelling. Basically, Helen Mirren is about all I remember. Continue reading

Formation, Transformation

Tom Houghton
Todd Alexander
Simon and Schuster
October 2015, RRP$32.99

tom-houghtonGrowing up is hard, for everyone, no matter the circumstances. At least that’s the impression I have taken away, and taken comfort in, from the many creative expressions which delve into the experience of growing up and coming of age. This theme is also at the centre of Todd Alexander’s novel Tom Houghton. Continue reading

Writers Aren’t People Exactly

WEST OF SUNSET
Stewart O'Nan
Allen and Unwin, RRP$29.99
June 2015

West of SunsetEver find that you read one book about an era, event or group of people, and are then bombarded with a multitude of other books centred on the same theme. For me, I am never sure whether my book trends are actual publishing trends or mere coincidences. I suspect my current trend of books about the Jazz Age—more specifically the leading couple of that age, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald—is an actual publishing trend. It definitely feels like one, right?

Continue reading

The Best Botanist on Mars

THE MARTIAN
Andy Weir, narrated by RC Bray
First Published 2011 (Self Published), Audio Version: Podium Publishing March 2013

The MartianI had a google fail recently and thought that The Martian the movie was being released in Australian cinemas in November—and so with this review would be giving you all a good lead time to read the book The Martian before watching the movie. Turns out the Australian release date is actually October 1st, so there goes that plan.

Well, you still have two days to cram in listening (or reading) Andy Weir’s novel The Martian before the movie based on Weir’s book, and starring Matt Damon, comes out on Thursday. The audiobook is a little under 11 hours, so it will be a bit of a push, but doable—especially once you get sucked into the life or death struggle of our Astronaut hero, Mark Watney, stranded alone on Mars. Continue reading

The Shadows of Suburbia are Long

THE LIVES OF WOMEN
Christine Dwyer Hickey
Allen and Unwin/Atlantic Books, RRP $27.99
May 2015

the lives of womenSome books have language that submerges the reader into their world from the first sentence. The Lives of Women by Christine Dwyer Hickey was one such book for me. One moment I was cracking open the cover for the first time wondering what was to come, the next I was ensnared in the world of our narrator Elaine.

As an adult Elaine has returned to care for her invalid father in her childhood home, a place where her teenage life remains a ghostly overlay. The landscape of family and the family home are clearly spaces which Elaine has been detached from—both emotionally and physically—for many years and it is time to unravel the cause of this detachment. The adult Elaine’s narrative is interspersed with snippets of her younger life as a teenager coming of age in a suburban estate during the 1970s and her life as an adult in New York and Paris. The different threads of Elaine’s life slowly reveal the tragedy which occurred during her last summer living with her parents. Continue reading

Being Cruel to be Kind

THE KINDNESS
Polly Samson
Bloomsbury Circles, RRP $29.99
May 2015

the_kindness_4Last year I wandered to the cinema with my housemate, and regular movie viewing buddy, to watch the film adaption of the latest book sensation Gone Girl. I was breaking my own rules of not reading before watching but I didn’t think it would matter so much as, one: rules were made to be broken, and two: I don’t read much in the crime or thriller genre anymore. Or so I said then.

The movie of Gone Girl was actually really absorbing (colour me surprised) and it got me thinking about dipping my toe back into what I label ‘twisty’ fiction. Though not technically crime or thriller, The Kindness by Polly Samson fits into the purview of the Edie-created genre of ‘twisty’ fiction and so down the rabbit hole I went emerging a very happy reader. Continue reading

Never Judge a Book by its Cover, Literal vs Philosophical Applications

A YEAR OF MARVELLOUS WAYS
Sarah Winman
Hachette Australia/Tinder Press, RRP $29.99
July 2015

Winman

 

Never judge a book by its cover.

Ok, that is both a useful and true statement in many ways but, to be perfectly frank, I love an appealing book cover and I really don’t care if that makes me seem shallow. Many a time I have run my eye over a shelf, or table, or pile of books, and it has come to rest on a particularly interesting book cover—be it the colour, the font, or the image—and this has been the introduction to another joyful reading adventure. And this visual shallowness is how I came to get my hands on a copy of Sarah Winman’s new novel, A Year of Marvellous Ways. The blue page-ends, and then the cover image caught my eye, and that was that. Continue reading

Vagrancy in a Post-Apocalyptic Landscape

THE VAGRANT
Peter Newman
Harper Collins, RRP29.99
April 2015

Vagrant

An unnamed man makes an illegal drug deal in a post-apocalyptic city, no sooner has he walked away from the deal than he is betrayed, such is our first introduction to the character The Vagrant in Peter Newman’s debut science fiction novel.* Thankfully The Vagrant has enough tricks up his sleeves that he continues on if not unscathed then at least free to continue his journey. Lucky, really, or else the novel would have been several hundred pages shorter than what it was. Continue reading

Writers Never Show Their Teeth

THE STORY OF MY TEETH
Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney
Granta, $24.99
April 2015

Story of my teeth

Firstly, if clowns and questionable dentistry are not your thing I am just going to warn you that there is a scene in Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth containing both creepy clowns and discussion of teeth and dentistry—enough so that you will be falling asleep with your mouth firmly closed and keeping one eye on all large projection screens in the near future. However, do not let that put you off entering the world of Gustavo ‘Highway’ Sánchez, main narrator of The Story of My Teeth and self-proclaimed best auctioneer in the world, who on the first page announces that he wishes to tell the story of his teeth. This tale is also Highway’s life story–and not just for the fact that teeth generally being in one’s mouth throughout one’s life imply that the teeth and the owner of the mouth have the same story.

Continue reading

Love and Leather… and Vampires

The ShadowsThe Shadows (Black Dagger Brotherhood Book 13)
J.R. Ward
Piatkus, March 2015, RRP $29.99

I can’t remember if I’ve already outed myself to the MRB readers as a romance genre reader. In real life everyone knows, and are mostly accepting, though I get a few comments about ‘those shirtless dudes’ on the covers.* As a genre, romance is huge, and made up of a multitude of subgenres. Thus finding your way into the genre, let alone into the subgenres can be a really tricky process. One of the large sub-genres that has been extremely popular over the last few years is paranormal romance. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and a whole host of other supernatural creatures have all made their appearance in different iterations.

Continue reading

Hard Boiled Dames and Tragic Universes

Cara Josephine

 

Cara Josephine, Josie Long, MICF 2015 Supper Room, Town Hall until the 19th April.

How is it already the tail end of the 2015 Melbourne International Comedy Festival? That has all gone past rather fast this year. My approach to the comedy festival generally involves outsourcing my comedy ticket selection and procurement to fellow MRB reviewer Jamie.^ There is one exception to this outsourcing; I discovered Josie Long through some separate non-Jamie comedy adventure a few years ago and try to see her show when she is performing in Melbourne. Continue reading

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      FLOOD OF FIRE Amitav Ghosh John Murray, May 2015, RRP $29.99; eBook RRP $16.99 Flood of Fire is the final book in Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis trilogy and concerns the first Opium War, the eventual Chinese defeat, and the seizure of Hong Kong by English forces.  Sorry, um, spoilers I guess?  It introduces some further … Continue reading