Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & the Six

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published: March 5th 2020, Hutchinson

Status: Read January 2020

++++++

My Thoughts:

Despite the praise heaped upon Daisy Jones & The Six by many, I really wasn’t all that interested in the premise. I picked it up to read over Christmas mainly because it was selected as the prompt for January’s Six Degrees of Separation meme, and it happened to be on my local library’s ‘highlight’ shelf when I was picking up other titles I’d reserved.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, Daisy Jones & The Six is the story of the rise and fall of a FICTIONAL (I feel must stress the point because it seems to be an area of confusion for some) 1970’s era rock band.

Reid presents Daisy Jones & The Six as a manuscript written by an initially unidentified author compiled primarily from transcripts of interviews and conversations with current and former members of the band, as well as family, friends, and industry elite who surrounded them at the time. I sincerely doubted that this would be an effective means of telling a story, but I was wrong. It works brilliantly for this subject, giving the story an extraordinary sense of authenticity that pulled me right in.

The story begins by alternately chronicling the journey of The Six, fronted by Billy Dunne, from an unknown blues-rock group gigging throughout their hometown of Pittsburgh to a band with an album climbing up the charts, in their own words, and Daisy’s recollections of sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip as a teenager where she discovered sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, dreaming of becoming a singer/songwriter. Eventually Billy and Daisy are brought together by a savvy music producer, and Daisy Jones & The Six rocket up the charts.

Daisy and The Six is about more than just sex, drugs and rock n roll. The characterisation is superb, as each relates their unique perspective of their rise to fame. They tell us about their hopes and dreams, their resentments and jealousies, their triumphs and tragedies. Not everyone remembers things the same way, and there are secrets that these conversations reveal for the first time, including why, at the height of their fame, the band dissolved, and what happened after (I loved the ‘twist’).

Creative and compelling, I’m not at all surprised that Daisy Jones & The Six won the 2019 Goodreads Choice Award for Historical Fiction (except I resent that the 1970’s is now considered historical). This was a hit for me.

*Incidentally, as I loved reading Daisy Jones and The Six, I also decided to give it a try as an audiobook. It’s not a format I’ve had success with but I figured this may be the book to convince me otherwise. Sadly that was not the case, though I did like the multi actor voicing, audiobooks are simply just not for me.

++++++

Read an Excerpt

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

 


Alternate Covers UK/US

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3

 

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far this year. The challenge asks participants to read up to 12 books over the year, each from a different categories.

Categories

1. Memoir 2. Disaster Event 3. Social Science 4. Related to an Occupation 5. History 6. Feminism     7. Psychology 8. Medical Issue 9. Nature 10. True Crime 11. Science 12. Published in 2020

Click here to learn more about the 2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia, Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

For the next three weeks I will post some examples that might inspire your own selections

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

 

Click the cover for more information about each title at Goodreads

Nature

 

True Crime

 

Science

Published in 2020

 

 

Review: Infinity Son {Infinity Cycle #1} by Adam Silvera

Title: Infinity Son {Infinity Cycle #1}

Author: Adam Silvera

Published: January 20th 2020, Simon & Schuster Au

Status: Read January 2020, courtesy Simon & Schuster Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

Infinity Son is Adam Silvera’s fifth book, but his first foray into the fantasy genre. It’s the beginning of a trilogy titled Infinity Cycle, featuring brothers Emil and Brighton caught up in a magical war.

The physical setting for Infinity Son is based in urban New York, and while the population of Silvera’s fantasy world is human, a small percentage are known as Celestials, who may act as Spell Walkers, whom are born with inherited powers that usually manifest during childhood, or Specters, who may act as Blood Casters, whom gain their abilities with alchemy derived from murdering magical creatures like hydra’s, basilisks or phoenixes.

In New York at least, the Celestials and Specters are enemies, and both groups are generally reviled by the current government, who seek to imprison or control them, so when Emil unexpectedly manifests extraordinary powers in defence of Brighton when attacked by a Specter, the brothers, along with their mother and close friend, are forced into hiding with a group of Spell Walkers.

There are more shocks in store for Emil, and he struggles to accept his new role, especially as the situation with the Specters escalates. Meanwhile Brighton, desperate to contribute, uses his social media savvy in an attempt to restore the Spell Walkers reputation, but the reflected glory is not enough to satisfy him long.

Though Emil and Brighton are the central characters, Infinity Son unfolds from a number of other viewpoints, including Spell Walker, Maribelle, and Ness, a Specter. It’s a diverse cast, which includes male and female queer characters, and persons of colour, who I enjoyed getting to know, but I do think it was perhaps a little ambitious of Silvera to introduce so many. There is a general lack of nuance, where the characters are defined by a single trait, rather than having a well-rounded personality.

The plot is fairly simple, Silvera utilises the familiar ‘chosen one’ trope with the inevitable battles between good vs evil. There’s a touch of sibling rivalry, a suggestion of star-crossed lovers, and unexpectedly for the genre, a whole lot of social media. Infinity Son also offers plenty of action, and the story is generally fast-paced.

To be honest, the magic structure of the world feels like a slightly messy mash up of Harry Potter, X-Men, and (CW channel) superheroes. I think in part this is because Silvera provides very little in the way of exposition, and I struggled at times to connect, and make sense of, the scattered information. I’m fairly sure I figured out the basics, but there were a few elements that remain inexplicable.

Despite its flaws, I did enjoy Infinity Son, and I think the Infinity Cycle trilogy has potential as long as Silvera (or his editor) can rein in the obvious enthusiasm, which is what has led to this somewhat scattershot result.

++++++

Available from Simon & Schuster Australia

Or your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

Review: Dear Life by Rachel Clarke

 


Title: Dear Life: A Doctor’s Story of Love and Loss

Author: Rachel Clarke

Published: January 28th 2020, Hachette Australia

Status: Read January 2020 courtesy Hachette Au

++++++

My Thoughts:

“For the dying are living, like everyone else”

Dear Life is part memoir, part meditation on medicine, death and dying.

Much of the first half focuses on Rachel Clarke’s personal life. After a short career in journalism, Clarke surrendered to the inevitable and commenced a degree in medicine, following in her revered father’s footsteps. While completing her training in the NHS, Clarke unexpectedly found herself drawn to the area of palliative medicine.

As a palliative care doctor, Clarke believes the specialty demonstrates medicine at its very best, ‘placing patient, not disease, centre stage’. Like most I fear death, in part because I am terrified of an end of indignity, of pain, and suffering. Touching also on the ethical questions surrounding the common ‘life-at-all-cost’ practice of medicine, and the importance of Advanced Health Directives, Clarke explains how palliative care aims to address and alleviate those fears as much as possible. Clarke’s portrayal of her patients and their struggle to live, even while dying, is insightful and compassionate. With empathy and honesty the author shares the last days of some of her patients, who approach their end with a mixture of anger, understanding, fear, resignation, and often, perhaps surprisingly in the end, acceptance.

This becomes all the more important to Rachel when her beloved father, a G.P, is diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer, and when treatment proves unsuccessful, she does all she can to ease his demise.

Dear Life is a thoughtful, inspiring, and surprisingly comforting exploration of a subject most us find difficult to discuss, or even contemplate. The hard truth is, Death will one day come for us, and when it does, we will want palliative and hospice services that will facilitate, and advocate for, the inevitable end on our own terms.

++++++

Available from Hachette Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

 

US Cover

Review: The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

 


Title: The Daughter of Victory Lights

Author: Kerri Turner

Published: January 20th 2020, HQ Fiction

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read January 2020 courtesy HQ Fiction

++++++

My Thoughts:

The Daughter of Victory Lights is a captivating historical fiction novel from Kerri Turner.

When World War II ends, Evelyn Bell is reluctant to return to civilian life having served in the country’s only all- female searchlight regiment protecting London from German bombers. A chance encounter at a fair introduces her to Victory, a unique floating cabaret show, and she accepts the owner’s invitation to join them to work with the performance lights, despite the vehement protests of her family.

Evie delights in her new role, and the friendships she forms, but working and living in such close quarters leads to unexpected complications, and devastating consequences.

Evelyn proved to be an appealing protagonist, I’d not heard of the all-female searchlight regiment before, and was intrigued by the part she and the other women played in the war effort. Evie’s disappointment in losing her autonomy and returning to live under her sister’s repressive roof was understandable, as was her yearning to put what she had learnt to use.

I was completely charmed by the author’s vivid depiction of the Victory and their risqué performances. I thought it was particularly impressive of the author to create Victory based on an imaginative amalgamation of burlesque shows, tramp steamers, and floating theatres. It seemed entirely plausible to me that such a ship would exist post war.

Turner keeps the focus on four main characters that come to mean the most to Evie aboard the boat, Victory’s owner, Humphrey Walsh, his lead performer, Bee, Alvin, who performs as a fire breather, and his best friend and fellow vet, Flynn. Evie surprises herself by falling in love with Flynn, but tormented by his experience of war as a Graves Registration officer, their relationship is a tempestuous affair.

When the narrative leaps ahead ten years, Turner introduces a young girl named Lucy who is living with her aunt. The subject of scorn and ridicule from both her family and her peers, Lucy isn’t happy, but when an unfamiliar man appears and whisks Lucy away to the Isle of Wight claiming he is taking her to live with her father she is, and remains, apprehensive about this new life. This poignant half of the novel reveals the fate of the Victory, and young Lucy’s struggle to understand the parents she never knew.

Beautifully crafted, with vivid descriptions, engaging characterisation, and attention to historical detail, The Daughter of Victory Lights is a delight.

++++++

Available from HQ Fiction

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #SundayPost #SundaySalon


The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading
meme is hosted at BookDate

I’m also linking to The Sunday Post @ Caffeinated Reviewer

And the Sunday Salon @ ReaderBuzz

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Life…

It’s been raining here for the last 24 hours on and off, enough in my area that the fires that have been burning since November are finally considered to be extinguished, though along the east coast of the country, 69 fires continue to burn, 20 of which are uncontrolled. And of course because Australia is a land of extremes, in the North there are floods, and inland several towns have been impacted by a massive dust storm. Meanwhile Puerto Rico has been hit by earthquakes, and a swathe of the US mainland is experiencing a series of severe storms, Indonesia has experienced catastrophic flooding, there was a deadly avalanche in Pakistan, and a volcano is threatening to erupt in the Phillipines. It’s insane, all of it!

On a slightly lighter note, hubby is back at work, and we are still watching Monk in the evenings. The younger kids have only about 10 days til the start of the new school year so this week we need to get organised, they will be entering Year 12, Year 10, and Year 9. Meanwhile my oldest daughter is planning a trip to Greece with a friend later this year. My plans this week involve the aforementioned organising, reading, blogging, and counting down the days til Picard premieres on January 24th (on Amazon Prime here in Australia), are you looking forward to it?

 

 

If you are in the US, click here for the trailer (stupid georestrctions)

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What I’ve Read Since I last Posted…

Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson

The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner

Dear Life by Rachel Clarke

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New Posts…

Review: A Murder at Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey ★★★★

Review: Chosen by Kiersten White ★★1/2

Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore ★★★★1/2

Review: Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson ★★★

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2

Bookshop Bounty

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What I’m Reading This Week…

 

 

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Balancing epic and intensely personal stakes, bestselling author Adam Silvera’s Infinity Son is a gritty, fast-paced adventure about two brothers caught up in a magical war generations in the making.

Growing up in New York, brothers Emil and Brighton always idolized the Spell Walkers—a vigilante group sworn to rid the world of specters. While the Spell Walkers and other celestials are born with powers, specters take them, violently stealing the essence of endangered magical creatures.

Brighton wishes he had a power so he could join the fray. Emil just wants the fighting to stop. The cycle of violence has taken a toll, making it harder for anyone with a power to live peacefully and openly. In this climate of fear, a gang of specters has been growing bolder by the day.

Then, in a brawl after a protest, Emil manifests a power of his own—one that puts him right at the heart of the conflict and sets him up to be the heroic Spell Walker Brighton always wanted to be.

Brotherhood, love, and loyalty will be put to the test, and no one will escape the fight unscathed.

xxxxxx

 

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. Woman meets dog…

The world has changed around Missy Carmichael. At seventy-nine, she’s estranged from her daughter, her son and only grandson live across the world in Australia, and her great love is gone. Missy spends her days with a sip of sherry, scrubbing the kitchen in her big empty house and reliving her past–though it’s her mistakes, and secrets, that she allows to shine brightest. The last thing Missy expects is for two perfect strangers and one spirited dog to break through her prickly exterior and show Missy just how much love she still has to give. Filled with wry laughter and deep insights into the stories we tell ourselves, The Love Story of Missy Carmichael shows us it’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks. It’s never too late to love.

xxxxxxx

 

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

After a storm has killed off all the island’s men, two women in a 1600s Norwegian coastal village struggle to survive against both natural forces and the men who have been sent to rid the community of alleged witchcraft.

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, THE MERCIES is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

xxxxxx

 

The Lawson Sisters by Janet Gover

A heartfelt and compelling story of family, secrets and second chances, set in the heart of the beautiful Hunter Valley of NSW, from an award-winning new voice in Australian fiction.

A fractured family. Guilty secrets. Can the Lawson legacy be saved?

For many years Elizabeth Lawson has battled single-handedly to run the family’s historic horse stud in memory of her beloved father. But a devastating loss puts her dreams at risk. With no options left, Liz is forced to turn to her estranged sister Kayla for help.

Kayla has built a new life in the city as a wedding planner, far removed from the stableyard sweat and dust of her rural upbringing. She never thought she’d go back. But when Liz calls out of the blue, Kayla forms a plan that could save their childhood home.

Kayla’s return forces Liz to confront her past … and her future, in the shape of Mitch, her first and only love, who still watches over her from the other side of the creek.

But Liz still hides a terrible secret. When Kayla learns the truth, will the Lawson sisters find common ground or will their conflict splinter the family once again?

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Thanks for stopping by!

Bookshelf Bounty

 

Every third Sunday of the month I share my Bookshelf Bounty – what’s been added to my TBR tile recently for review from publishers, purchases or gifts.

This month I’m linking up with Mailbox Monday

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)
(My thanks to the respective publishers)

 


For Review (ebook)


2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2

 

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Nonfiction Reader Challenge so far this year. The challenge asks participants to read up to 12 books over the year, each from a different categories.

Categories

1. Memoir 2. Disaster Event 3. Social Science 4. Related to an Occupation 5. History 6. Feminism  7. Psychology 8. Medical Issue 9. Nature 10. True Crime 11. Science 12. Published in 2020

Click here to learn more about the 2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia, Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

For the next three weeks I will post some examples that might inspire your own selections

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 1 #Memoir #DisasterEvent #Social Science #Related to An Occupation

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 2 #History #Feminism #Psychology #Social Science

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Recommendations Part 3 #Nature #True Crime #Science #Published in 2020

Click the cover for more information about each title at Goodreads

Click here to post your review links

History

 

Feminism

 

Psychology

Medical Issues

CLICK HERE to enter your review links

 

Review: Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson

 


Title: Mix Tape

Author: Jane Sanderson

Published: January 23rd 2020, Bantam Press UK

Status: Read January 2020, courtesy Bantam Press/Netgalley

+++++++

My Thoughts:

I had been looking forward to reading Mix Tape by Jane Sanderson for a while before it finally came up in my schedule. I am of an age when mix tapes were common. I’d be listening to the radio on my boom box on a Sunday evening, a blank tape in the cassette deck, waiting for the Top 40 to start, with my fingers on the ‘play’ and ‘record’ buttons, poised to catch the opening bars of the whatever song I was hoping to record. We played mix tapes at parties, traded them among friends, and shyly gifted them to our boyfriend/girlfriend. I still have two or three of those tapes, though I no longer have anything to play them on.

Moving between the past and the present, this is the story of Daniel and Alison, who meet as teens in Sheffield, England in 1978. Their romantic relationship is brief, but intense, ending abruptly when Alison is compelled to flee her harrowing home life. Alison’s journey eventually leads her to Australia, and in 2012 she is a bestselling novelist, married with two near-adult daughters, when Dan, a music journalist whose home base is in Scotland with his wife and college bound son, receives a tweet from an old friend directing him to the profile of @AliConnorWriter. When Dan finally reaches out to the woman who has haunted his dreams for decades, he does so with a music video that speaks to a seminal moment in their relationship, ‘Pump It Up’ – Elvis Costello and the Attractions, 1978.

“No words, no message. Only the song, speaking for itself.”

Mix Tape is unapologetically a love story, a tale of soulmates forcibly parted, and then reunited after a separation of thirty years.

Sanderson wonderfully captures the intensity of Daniel and Alison’s connection as teenagers. Dan, sweet and steady, is infatuated with the beautiful and enigmatic Alison. Alison, whose home life is chaotic and neglectful, basks in Dan’s admiration and returns his desire. When she leaves they are both devastated, aware they have lost something special.

When Dan and Ali reconnect decades later, they initially communicate only by trading songs via Twitter that remind them of their relationship, and then songs whose lyrics speak to their growing desires. I’m in my mid forties so I wasn’t particularly familiar with a fair amount of the music referenced in Mix Tape, and I found myself having to stop and search through YouTube on occasion to listen to the song to understand its significance. It’s a delightful idea though, a modern take on those not so subtle cassette mix tapes declaring love

Without sharing a word, despite all the time that has passed, the physical distance between them, and being married to other people, Dan and Alison rekindle the flame. Here is where Sanderson lost me a little, because while the idea of a love that cannot be denied is romantic, that it comes at the expense of others, even if neither of their spouses are particularly likeable, is uncomfortable for me. Still the inevitable reunion is epic, and to the author’s credit I wanted it to happen.

Mix Tape is unapologetically a love story, but it’s also about heartache, nostalgia, loss, forgiveness, and the music. While my feelings about it remain a little mixed, it has its charms.

++++++

Available from Bantam Press UK

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository

Review: Long Bright River by Liz Moore

Title: Long Bright River

Author: Liz Moore

Published: January 9th 2020, Hutchinson

Read an Extract

Status: Read January 2020 courtesy Penguin Books Australia

++++++

My Thoughts:

Long Bright River is a compelling literary novel of family drama and suspense from Liz Moore.

“There’s a body on the Gurney Street tracks. Female, age unclear, probable overdose, says the dispatcher. Kacey, I think. This is a twitch, a reflex, something sharp and subconscious that lives inside me and sends the same message racing to the same base part of my brain every time a female is reported.”

Set in a depressed neighbourhood of Philadelphia where the opioid crisis is taking an increasing toll on its residents, police officer Mickey (Michaela) Fitzgerald patrols the decaying streets of Kensington, always keeping a look out, among the prostitutes on the sidewalks and the drug addicts slumped in doorways, for her younger sister, Kacey. When it becomes clear that a serial killer targeting sex workers is stalking the ‘Ave’, Mickey begins a frantic search for both her missing sister, and the perpetrator, risking the job she loves, and even her own life.

I’m not always keen on a first person narrative but I found Mickey’s voice to be compelling as the novel moves between the story of the sisters’ difficult childhood (Then), and their present circumstances (Now). Moore’s characterisation of the sisters, and their complex dynamic, is nuanced and gripping. Raised by their resentful grandmother after the overdose death of their mother, the sisters were once close, but no longer speak. Nevertheless, Mickey tries to keep tabs on Kasey, who is lost in her addiction, driven by a potent mix of guilt, regret, and love, while barely holding together her own life.

Though the plot with regards to the serial murders is a little vague at times, it serves more as a backdrop to the multi-layered narrative that explores the devastating impact of opioid addiction on individuals, families, and communities, the dehumanisation of vulnerable persons, childhood neglect, sexual abuse, police corruption, and a myriad of other issues that define life’s struggles.

A thought-provoking, poignant story of loss, addiction, forgiveness, and healing, told with compassion and authenticity, Long Bright River is a powerful and absorbing novel.

“All of them children, all of them gone. People with promise, people dependent and depended upon, people loving and beloved, one after another, in a line, in a river, no fount and no outlet, a long bright river of departed souls.”

++++++

Available from Penguin Australia

Or from your preferred retailer via Booko I Book Depository I Indiebound

 

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