Book Reviews Take Time

August was a big reading month for me but I struggle with writing what I deem to be ‘decent’ book review amongst all the other things I try to fit into my schedule – yet I know how important they are to authors and readers. By decent I mean a 300-word review covering characters, theme, plot (without giving away too much), style and setting.

With not being able to fit in full reviews of books I am now not reviewing at all. So, I’m aiming to do a blog post once per month with mini-reviews of the books I’ve read. I will post those mini reviews to Goodreads and several other reading sites.

Are you a big reader?

Are you reading this? I encourage you to do the same as I cannot tell you how much it means to an author as it gives them an indication of how readers experience their book. If you do full reviews, then fabulous – keep doing that but for those you struggle for time here is a mini-book review template to make it a bit easier to manage.

How to do a mini Book Review

  • 1 sentence blurb about the book (I usually quote the publisher’s blurb).
  • Write 1 or 2 sentences to introduce theme, characters & setting.
  • Find 1 or 2 qualities in the book that really stand out to you.
  • In a few sentences say what you liked about the book and what you didn’t – give evidence (if you want) for your opinion. A small paragraph is ample, two if you have a little more to say.
  • Sum up your overall opinion.

Hint: Make a few notes while reading.

August Mini-Reviews

Vigil: Verity Fassbinder #1 by Angela Slatter: “Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds. The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has very little power herself, but does claim unusual strength – and the ability to walk between us and the other. “

Verity Fassbinder is a kickass private investigator to the Weyrd. Set in Brisbane, the Weyrd and the Normals (us) kind of exist together. No one has told the Normals that the underbelly of their city is run by an ancient race of very un-normal beings. Verity gets about town in a purple cab solving strange cases with her side-kick Ziggi whose third eye, in the back of his head, keeps an eye on things. Throw in a Weyrd ex-boyfriend, who is also her boss, angels, sirens, creepy child killers, and more mystery than I would have thought possible in one book – it makes for an enjoyable read.
If you love gritty, dark, urban fantasy with great characters then grab a copy.

The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose: “A mesmerising literary novel about a lost man in search of connection – a meditation on love, art and commitment.”

I was lucky enough to meet Heather Rose at the Premier’s Literary Awards after she won the Christina Stead Prize for Fiction. She was smiling from ear to ear after the win which was on the back of winning the The Stella Prize.

The story follows Arky Levin, a composer, who is struggling with his art, his marriage and life. He is drawn to The Museum of Modern Art in NYC to see Marina Abramovic in The Artist is Present, a silent performance piece which runs for 75 days. Marina sits completely still for 7 hours for the 75 days and people sit for as long as they want and gaze into her eyes.

Other characters come in and out of the novel, all drawn to the MoMA to see the performance. Narrated by an omniscient ‘ghost’ or muse the story follows Arky mainly, but weaves in and out of other people’s stories as they too visit the performance, as well as exploring the life of Marina herself. The book explores art and its purpose, how it changes people and their lives, and how it makes us think and feel. The Museum of Modern Love is beautifully crafted and written. A true literary classic but one I found easy to read.

Side note: try looking into someone’s eyes for an extended period without speaking, moving or smiling – it is harder than you would think! I tried it for a minute at a time with friends and it was SO hard! I failed miserably. I giggled the ENTIRE time! It was an interesting exercise though – think about what it would feel like to look into someone eyes for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. Vulnerable is what I think I would feel – if I could stop giggling for more than a second. Is giggling how I protect myself? #SoDeep

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson: “In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.”

My apologies about all the f’s. They were a bit hard to avoid.

The key to a good life is not giving a f*ck about more; it’s about giving a f*ck about less, giving a f*ck about only what is true and immediate and important.” Mark Manson thinks people are guilty of “…giving too many f*cks in situations where f*cks do not deserve to be given,” and to “Save your f*cks for the truly f*ck-worthy parts of our lives.”

I picked up this book because I was giving a f*ck about a few things that didn’t deserve any f*cks. Simples. More to the point – I worry about so many little things that don’t deserve my sleep-depriving worry especially things that are out of my control. There was a lot more to the book than the author simply throwing around f’s like a champion though – it was about being present in your life, only giving energy to things that truly matter, about shaking up the idea that people think they should be ‘…entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times,‘ about suggesting that people need to more self-aware, and about how we deal with problems is all about choices. There is a lot more in there and although the book may not be for everyone I do believe there are nuggets in there that will hit home for many. A funny book at times and sometimes a little repetitive this was an entertaining and thought provoking read.

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig: “I am old. That is the first thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong. Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.
He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries.”

Tom Hazard is lonely, but the first rule of the Albatross Society is to never fall in love. Tom fell in love once, centuries ago but his condition meant that he stayed young while those he loved grew and aged. The mysterious Albatross Society protects those with this condition – as long they follow the rules. The book follows Tom as he looks back over time from his youngest days through significant moments in history as he searches for meaning and a person he hasn’t seen in centuries – a person like him. Death is a catalyst for us mere mortals to make sense of our lives and give us the drive to make the most of it but for Tom he has done it all over and over again for so many lifetimes – and he has done it alone. Love is there if he wants it – but Tom has always followed the rules of the Albatross Society and it’s persuasive leader…

I loved this book. Loved it!!! If you’re looking for a gift for someone for Christmas, then I recommend this one. Totally absorbing and well written. I literally read it in one sitting. I did not move.

Who’s Afraid by Maria Lewis:
This is the story of Tommi, a young Scottish woman living an ordinary life, who stumbles violently into her birthright as the world’s most powerful werewolf.”

Tough as nails Tommi leaves Scotland after her mother’s death for New Zealand to search for her father. What she finds there is not what she expected. Tommi’s heritage is a whole lot more than being a Kiwi. Werewolves, ancient wars, and other supernatural beings are now her world. She must learn to fight, to control her transitions into her wolfy self while navigating life back in Scotland amongst her friends and blossoming love. But danger followers her wherever she goes.

I really enjoyed this book – it was fast paced with a good storyline. Some parts of the plot seemed slightly too convenient at times but overall Tommi is a likeable, brave character who fights for what she believes in and I like that! Good read.