3. A book set in your home state

I’m not sure how I feel about this book.

I did read it in about two days which means I must have liked it because I stop reading when I don’t like a book.

I think it is a good book. It’s set back on the early 1990’s and I like that because I’m a child of the nineties. It’s also set in rural NSW and I like that too because I’ve spent a lot of time there.

Normally I don’t like modern Australian fiction. Too much of the convict mentality taints it. Or perhaps that’s just David Malouf. But I’ve found myself reading a little more of it lately. Last year I read all of Inga Simpson’s novels and I can’t wait for her to right more. And I love all Helen Garner’s true writing.

In this novel, I think it’s the way it unfolds that I like best. Because the narrator is writing from the future, after all the events have taken place, she tells the story on real time, as it happens, even if she didn’t know the information in real time. This way the mystery unfolds chronologically and I’m not confused or kept in the dark as a reader, something I loathe. 

All good mystery/crime fiction should allow the reader to become the sleuth. There should be just enough information for you to have a stab at picking the killer but not so much that you actually do. The twists and turns of this story really fit with the rural community setting, reflecting both the historical time and some contemporary concerns.

The ending was a little abrupt but I was unsatisfied, just a bit taken aback that it was finished.

My problem at the moment is that I dont know what to read next because there is no YA fiction on my shelf and the ones I want to read haven’t been published yet.

Electronica

Sometimes I wonder if I’m truly a Luddite at heart. I have no problem turning my phone off overnight, I don’t need to be able to access the Internet 24/7, and I only feel truly naked if I leave my house without my watch – analog of course.

I am very suspicious of electronic copies of things. Give me a hard copy any day. I still buy CDs. I still buy books. And while I can see the benefits of google docs, I can’t think properly without a pen in my hand.

But I do not stick solely to the physical, hold in your hand version of things. Yes, I have an iTunes account. It’s the only way to buy ‘singles’ these days. And I will read the occasional ebook.

Every so often there is the apocalyptic article about how one or other traditional form of entertainment or media consumption is dying. This week it was books.

  
The tweet links to an article in the Chicago Tribune that says Americans are reading books, paper based page turners, just as much as ever. That ebooks haven’t taken over yet. All I can say to that is 

Der

This year I have read one series of ebook, five books in total. Normally I would read none.

  
I started with Not Famous in Hollywood by Leonie Gant because my read harder challenge dictated that I read a book by an author with the same first name as me. And boy are there slim pickings for someone named Leonie. But once I’d read that first one I had to read them all. I even had to go out and buy an iTunes card because I ran out of money by the third book.

These books are what I consider perfect ebooks.

They are interesting, funny, have a decent romantic plot line, and cost less than five dollars each.

I read ebooks when I want something light. They weigh nothing in the hand and should weigh little on my brain. If I’m reading something heavy I want to feel that physical weight too. It seems silly to cry into a screen, it doesn’t soak up tears as well as paper pages do. Nor does it make that satisfying thwack on the bed or ground if you grow your device down in disgust at a character’s actions. More likely than not you’re just going to be doubly mad as not only did something terrible happen in the boo, but you also cracked your screen.

Anyway.

This series by Gant follows an Australian (though she hardly acts like it) personal assistant in Hollywood as she sees to her clients needs and becomes entangled in murders that happen around them. The main character Trudie is the perfect balance of funny, needy and friendly. And the love interest, a cop is the right mix of condescending, confused and conscientious. The mysteries themselves are not overly predictable and all the supporting characters make this series really readable.

Now if only she would write more.

43. A book based on or turned into a TV show

  
Veronica Mars is probably my favourite character of all time. Which may make it seem odd that this book is not fulfilling the category of a book with the character’s name in the title. In fact, I’ve read a few character titled books this year, all by coincidence.

I came to Veronica Mars late. And I mean about a decade late.

That was good for me because it meant I got to binge watch everything, all three seasons, and I only had about a year to wait for the movie. 

This book is the second published by Rob Thomas and picks up where The Million Dollar Tan Line left off – which itself picks up from where the film left the story. I absolutely love Kristen Bell. She is perfect as Veronica, and when I read the books it is her that I picture and hear. This is the only book (except for the next one I’ll review) where you need to watch the show and movie before you read the books. If you don’t you just won’t get it.

What I love about the series, besides the cross text type composition, is the sass. There is no one quite like Veronica Mars. She is so clever, so funny. You just want to be her best friend.

So do yourself a favour, set aside a month, and binge on Veronica Mars. You won’t be sorry that you did.
Coming up on my next blog: The other TV / novel cross over series that I’m into.

Direction unknown

People have been messing with one of my favourite TV shows. 

Every time I sit down to watch Parts Unknown, what I end up thinking is who thought this direction was a good idea? It’s all MTV cutting edge and grit.

 
I get that Anthony Bourrdain is a ‘cool dude’ and that the places he goes warrant some amount of creative directing to capture their danger and uniqueness, but I’d really like to actually be able to watch the show.

I couldn’t even watch the new episode on Korea the directing was so stupid. It was all going backwards and made no sense at all.  

It has made me sad that there is less and less cooking, especially compared to his first tv show.

  
But I like Bourdain’s style (usually) and the way he narrates. I’m just not loving the kooky direction.

The same terrible thing happened to another of my favourite TV shows, Castle.

 
I haven’t been able to watch the current season because it is just getting so ridiculous. I just couldn’t watch any more after Castle went missing and lost his memory. I mean, come on. 

They had a tried and true format. Bizarre crime + mystery writer x driven cop = TV gold. 

Why mess with that?
Coming up on my next blog: More books, more TV.

9. A Book by a Female Author

Though you wouldn’t know it.

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I started this book in a waiting room a week ago and got kind if bored. I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to fit it in because I have a different novel in mind for number ten:a mystery or thriller, so I kind of stopped reading it. Last night, however, I decided I may as well include it as the book written by a woman as most books I read have female authors and this at least gives me a chance to write about the crime fiction genre and the odd names their authors use.
I am also glad that I continued to read it because it is an excellent novel. When I couldn’t sleep at half past one this morning it filled the time nicely between then and writing this.

What is it with crime writers using pseudonyms and being identified by their initials? Sure I get JK Rowling wanted to become an adult author (and had already used up her initials), but what about everyone else? Ruth Rendell writes under two names – In The Same Genre! Does it add to the mystery if you don’t know exactly who the author is? Or perhaps they don’t want people knowing how twisted their minds are to come up with such horrendous plots?

I suppose it is also important to talk about a female author writing a female character in what seems to be a manly genre. And I certainly suppose that this is the premise for this book, it’s title makes that glaringly obvious. I can’t really say a lot about how much crime fiction is a man’s world, I don’t read enough of it as it just doesn’t interest me. I don’t like being scared right before I go to bed, and often, if I read crime fiction, I have to stay up all night to finish it so I can fall asleep knowing there’s no monster lurking out there. I learnt this the hard way reading The Silence of the Lambs, coincidentally also a crime fiction novel with a female detective. And even though I am rational enough to realise it is fiction, most crime writers create a realistic and convincing world sowing that seed of doubt into the readers mind that something like this might just happen to someone like them. I suppose that is the mark of well written crime fiction – nothing is too far fetched, things are ordinary and plausible until someone gets dead.

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman is the first of two books about a female private investigator named Cordelia Gray. She has inherited the business and lands a big case about a suicide. It’s hard to review a crime fiction, I feel, because I don’t want to give anything away. So I’ll steer clear of plot and try to capture what I like about this book.
First is setting. It’s an English crime series, which it feel makes it genteel and rotten at the same time. Kind of like Midsomer Murders, there is that quaintness about it but also that underlying evil.
A British setting also makes for good British characters, always stoic with some terrible family secret to hide. You always know in British crime fiction that no one ever tells the truth first up. They all subscribe to the rule that

what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas

However, it’s usually more along the lines of

we’re all as guilty as each other so let’s just keep our mouths shut

Thirdly, there is a satisfying ending. Everything is teased out, nothing is ambiguous. And that’s how I like my crime fiction.

I have also read the other Cordelia Gray story by James, The Skull Beneath the Skin. Many people my age have probably read his novel if they chose Extension English at school and their teacher chose crime fiction. I was lucky that my teacher had a penchant for 19th Century Literature, and so came back to this later to see what all the fuss was about.

It struck me as odd that she only wrote two novels in his series. I quite like Gray as a character, she has a certain fortitude that is appealing in a detective and a no nonsense approach that helps the reader feel as though they are getting all the facts. I feel like James could have left off writing Death Comes to Pemberley and just written about Cordelia again. Despite feeling like they know all the facts it is still hard for the reader to figure out ‘whodunit’ and that does make this an excellent crime novel.

Coming up on my next blog: Still waiting.

Can I Please Have Some More?

You all know that I’m a sucker for a good crime fiction tie in. I have all the Richard Castle novels even though he is not a real author, so when my husband surprised me with a Veronica Mars novel I was practically beside myself. Because if there is one thing I love more than a crime fiction tie in, it’s a Veronica Mars tie in.
I came to the show late.
I watched the first few when it came out but commercial TV programming conspired against me and until last year I had only seen a handful of episodes. The. After I’d binge watched the whole series I was elated to know there was a movie in the works. And I watched that and then wished they were making another (or another TV series, I’ll settle for either).
Enter the Veronica Mars novel – my saving grace.

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It was absolutely perfect.
I felt as though I was watching the TV show – in my mind.
The novel is set after the film, so Veronica is back in Neptune, back with Logan, and back being a private eye.
Luckily for us, and for her, Neptune still seems to be a youth oriented town and she investigates the disappearances of two college girls during spring break. In my mind Veronica and her friends will remain forever young, so I like the fact at she is still investigating this world. I think it’s a trap we all fall into, despite being long out of school people always look back to those days as the most interesting and the best.
What makes this novel so great is that the creator of the show, Rob Thomas, also co-wrote the book and he has all that back story, all that history to draw on and ground his story in.
I hope he writes more.

Coming up on my next blog: Japan is on the cards again.

A long time ago, we used to be friends

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This is the greatest movie of all, continuing the story of the greatest tv show of all time.

I only arrived at Veronica Mars last year. I had watched it when it was on TV all those years ago (I can’t believe it is ten years old, Kristen Bell looks like she hasn’t aged a day) but then the Australian programming gods took over and it switched time slots before eventually disappearing. It’s probably better that it did. Binge watching it now that I am older has made me appreciate it so much more.

When I watched the first time all I was interested in was the high school drama. The who was going out with who, the relationship hook ups and break ups. What I missed then, and what I love now is its cleverness. It is so self aware, so on the money pop culture wise, that you can’t help but laugh and every piece of sardonic dialogue.

And the film is no different. There is still all the intrigue, romantic and crime wise. It’s just that little bit more grown up.

My favourite type of mystery/crime fiction is set in the American boarding school world, and Veronica Mars is just an extension of that. I love the mix of intrigue and bitchiness.
After watching the film I just want to go back and watch all the shows again. I know they could get another series out of it. And if not, I’ll settle for another movie.

Coming up on my next blog: I’ll be busy watching Veronica Mars again.