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.

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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 

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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.

10. A mystery or thriller

Another book that crosses multiple categories.

  
I really should have blogged about this book back when I read it. Which was in April I think. Because, for the life of me I cannot actually remember what it is about. Possibly that is a good thing because it means I won’t be giving away any spoilers, but it does make for a pretty generic review.

I have read all the Nikki Heat novels, and I used to love watching the TV show they were spawned from, Castle. This year though, we’ve kind of drifted apart. I thought it all got a bit stupid when Castle was kidnapped on his wedding day and the whole amnesia thing was really annoying. Mostly I stopped watching though because that serial killer was back, can’t even remember his name, but I wasn’t in a good frame of mind for watching serial killers (I was spending a lot of nights up, alone). 

I kind of feel ready to start watching again though. I miss Castle and Kate, and I really like Alexis and apparently she features quite heavily not that Castle can’t be the NYPD’s shadow.

But I digress.

What I like about these novels is not that they are the TV show, but that they come from it. Unlike Veroncia Mars which extends the drama of the show into book form, the Castle novels actually exist in the TV world. I mean, he claims to be a writer after all. 

And like the show used to be, they are just a fun piece of fluff writing that you get carried away in.

Haven’t read the Storm books yet, also from the series. I’m not sure I’ll like those because of the male protagonist.
Coming up on my next blog: Let’s switch to food.

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.

25. A book with antonyms in the title

  

It is probably a bad thing that I had to look up the plot of this novel because I had forgotten what it was about. Though I did enjoy it a lot and read it quite quickly because it is very suspenseful and you just want to know what will happen.

I guess the only problem with it is that I guessed the twist about two chapters in and I was just waiting for it to happen for the rest of the novel. 

I only picked it up because I needed a book to fill the number 25 spot on my reading challenge list. And I guess that’s the whole point of the read harder aspect of my reading this year. Antonyms in book titles are almost as hard as books without pictures on the cover. Although it is my kind of thing because it is set in an expensive American private school. 

Apparently this is the first in a series, what a surprise for a ya novel, and while I won’t go out of my way to buy it, if I find it in the local library I would probably read the others. 
Coming up on my next blog: I continue being opinionated.

31. A Book Set in High School

I draw a very long bow here, and was originally going to use this as the novel with the character’s name in the title but I changed my mind.

 
This series is set in a place called ‘The School’ amd because it’s characters are teenagers I feel that it’s ok to place this in the high school category. But it’s not like any school I am familiar with. The School is a special place, separated from the rest of the world because of a pandemic that has wiped out the earth’s population.

Pandora Jones has awoken in the school after surging the epidemic. There she learns how to survive in a post apocalyptic world and to gone her special talents. But the more she becomes aware of herself and her abilities the more she begins to question the institution in which she lives.

I don’t want to spoil the whole series by revealing the plot of the third book here, suffice to say things are coming to a head and Pandora’s curious nature is about to help her unravel the mystery. There are secret meetings, explosions and revelations a plenty.

However, things were just too tidy. There were a few too many coincidences that made things very easy for the main characters. So in the end I was a bit disappointed. After the twists and turns of the other novels I though this was a it tame and lame, but then I guess it’s always hard to end a series, it can’t just keep on going forever. Perhaps J.K Rowling proved the secret is seven books if you are writing a high school story, one for each year of study.

My favourite high school stories are ones with a bit of mystery though. Some kind of boarding school murder plot or horror story. Especially if they are set in an American boarding school. Those ones are the best. If you’re looking for at kind of thing can I suggest you read:

  • Hysteria by Megan Miranda
  • Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann
  • New Girl by Paige Harbison
  • One Hundred Candles by Mara Purnhagen

That is after you have read the three Pandora Jones novels of course.
Coming up on my next blog: I’m on a reviewing roll.

Murder in Mississippi by John Safran

Yesterday I didn’t blog for the first time in a year. And it kind of felt a bit weird. I could have rustled something together, I had gone out to the city the night before for a friend’s birthday, I’d also gone to ikea (my favourite place in the whole world) that morning, and was going to the city again to see The Lion King musical (which is spectacular) but in the end I just didn’t feel like it, plus I have my one photo a day thing on Instagram now which kind of makes up for it.
One thing I do like about not blogging every day is that I don’t feel the need to create witty or punny titles for my posts, so despite this long winded intro about myself, this blog is actually about the book I have just finished reading.

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Normally I don’t go in for true crime, mostly because its salacious drivel that appeals to the more morbid and disgusting parts of human nature. You know, those books that detail all the blood and gore, violence for violence’s sake. My only exceptions to this rule have been Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, my copy of which is AWOL, and

20140104-154209.jpg In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, which I consider to be one of the best books I have ever read. If you haven’t read it, you should. Now.

I can now add John Safran’s Murder in Mississippi to that list of exceptions.
And it’s funny because all these texts are set in rural America. Not its bustling, and perhaps Mob filled cities, but it’s apple pie heartlands.

Safran writes his book because he knows the deceased. Or more accurately, knows of, the deceased. He goes in search of who this man really was and why someone would want to kill him.

I really thought I would be reading this book with his voice in my head, like I do with Dave Callan’s tweets. But I didn’t. When he was interviewing people, or just turning up on sir doorsteps Today Tonight style, I did try to imagine those questions in his voice as they were pretty weighty ones that I don’t think anyone but him could have gotten away with. When you read some of those questions in your own voice you wonder why those people didn’t shut the door in his face, or shoot him on the spot. But when you reread them with Safran’s distinctive high pitched nasal squeak you can just imagine how disarming that might have been.

Coming up on my next blog: I will have to think of a new sign off now that I am not writing every day and this catchphrase has kind of become redundant.

Another One Bites the Dust

I read a really great book today (Hysteria by Megan Miranda).
At the moment I am really into novels that are about American teens being sent to Connecticut boarding schools. They all seem to come from places near the beach and so are shocked by the cold, both literally and figuratively. What is good about these books is that they all revolve around mysteries too. This is the second one I have read but if anyone has suggestions of others I’m all ears.

Sometimes I wish I could just read all day at not have to worry about anything else.
Or if I could be a teenager again, that might be nice too.

I also went for my second run today.
And I didn’t die!
I actually was not as tired as after the first run either.

Coming up on my next blog: A Weekend Wedding