Publisher: Harper Collins

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

Posted December 11, 2017 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Made for Love by Alissa NuttingTitle: Made for Love (Goodreads)
Author: Alissa Nutting
Published: Ecco, 2017
Pages: 310
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: eBook

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When you think of Alissa Nutting’s writing, what comes to mind? Dark? Disturbing? Psychological? Or transgressive? While this is what I have come to expect from Nutting, I tend to enjoy the social criticism found in her books. In her stunning debut novel Tampa, we follow Celeste Price, a young beautiful middle grade teacher who is a hebephile. Which allows for an interesting take on the nature of a sexual predator, often not associated with female sexuality. This does allow Nutting to explore the schoolboy fantasy of an older woman teaching them the ways of the flesh, whether it be a Mrs Robinson type character, a babysitter or in this case a teacher. The sexual desire of a boy with their budding sexuality; to be with an experienced, already developed older woman. Tampa looks at how developing boys are unable to separate their emotions from the sexual act and this ultimately leads to them getting hurt not, to mention the emotional and psychological damage it will do to them for years to come.

However, you could also look at it as a novel of a woman unhappy in her marriage. From the outside it looks like they are the perfect couple, he is rich, hardworking and determined but she is truly unhappy, despite what people see. Is that because of her singular sexual obsession for fourteen year old boys or is it far more? When Tampa was being published, Alissa Nutting was in the midst of getting a divorce. While Tampa explores someone unhappy in marriage, her new novel Made for Love is the next step, someone trying to escape a bad marriage.

This novel follows Hazel who has just moved back in with her father and his new girlfriend Diane (truth is, Diane is a lifelike sex doll). She has run out of her marriage with Byron Gogol, the tech mogul and founder of Gogol Industries. Hazel is willing to give up the high life to just be free, but is she ever truly free? She ran because Byron planned to make her the subject of the first-ever human “mind-meld”, he will be able to see everything she does or thinks. Hazel on the other hand will not have the same level of access, he is a CEO and needs to protect his company.

I often look for the autobiographical elements in a book, I find it gives me a deeper understanding to both the novel and the author. This is why I often like to read a biography on some of my favourite authors. While I do not know much about Alissa Nutting’s personal life, knowing she went through a separation while writing Tampa really added an extra layer to the novel. Following up with a book similar to Made for Love, reveals even more. It suggests that there was more than just an unhappy marriage.

While there are plenty of novels about women living in a controlling relationship, I think Made for Love was the first one that ever made me feel the anxiety of trying to escape. In an age of social media and technology, it has increasingly become easier to track and monitor someone. Social media allows us to read about their thoughts with the world, and with an app like ‘Find My Friends’ I can tell you where my wife is right now. Privacy is becoming a distant memory and for Hazel, even her thoughts are not safe.

Yet again, on the surface their marriage appears to be a happy one, not even Hazel’s father understands why she would leave and give up on a life of luxury. Made for Love reminds me of Black Mirror in the way it explores technology in relationships and the disturbing reality of what it would be like to try to escape and abusive one. The way people value wealth and status over the emotional wellbeing. This is a biting satire and is what I have come to expect from Alissa Nutting, I eagerly await her next book.

This review was originally published in the literary journal The Literati


Mini Reviews; Crime Edition

Posted January 13, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime, Thriller / 14 Comments

I do not know if it is the fact that I have had some big months recently or that I associate violence with the holiday period but I have felt the need to read crime fiction lately. I think after a recent review of Dexter is Dead, I have been searching from a new crime series, and hopefully I will find one soon. As crime novels are hard to review without spoilers I thought I will combine them into a mini-review.

Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Vanishing Games (Goodreads)
Author: Roger Hobbs
Series: Ghostman #2
Published: Knopf Doubleday, 2015
Pages: 304
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: Library Book

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Jack the Ghostman is backed, this time his mentor, Angela needs his help. After a heist to steal some uncut sapphires worth millions of dollars goes wrong, Angela finds herself in trouble. An unknown crime organisation seems to be after her and she is stuck in Macau without any help. She turned to her protégé in the hope to get back the sapphires and get out alive.

I remember Ghostman to be a fun, fast paced heist novel so when book two, Vanishing Games was released, I knew I would eventually read it. What worked really well in the book was the setting; Macau becomes this mysterious city full of uncertainty. A sovereign state of China, Macau is one of the richest countries in the world, thanks to housing the largest gambling district. A tourist attraction for high rollers, but still housing a seedy underbelly. I had a lot of fun with this book, it was fun and action packed, but still a typical heist novel which is not a bad thing


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: In the Woods (Goodreads)
Author: Tana French
Series: Dublin Murder Squad #1
Narrator: John McCormack
Published: Viking, 2007
Pages: 429
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Audiobook

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I have been recommended the Dublin Murder Squad by Tana French multiple times, not sure why. So I finally decided to pick up the first book In the Woods, which tells the story of Detective Rob Ryan and Detective Cassie Maddox assigned to the murder of a twelve year old girl. More than twenty years ago Ryan and two friends got lost in the same woods. He returned, but what happened to his friends remains a mystery.

This was a fresh and dark psychological suspense, which I enjoyed far more than I expected. My problem with best-seller crime novels is they tend to be very formulaic and unoriginal. Tana French managed to keep the same format but still made the book stand out. I think the chemistry between Ryan and Maddox played a big part of this. I was shipping the two and hoping they will end up together. I hear this series follows different characters in the Dublin murder squad which I am worried about, I want more from these two characters.


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Villain (Goodreads)
Author: Shūichi Yoshida
Translator: Philip Gabriel
Published: Vintage, 2011
Pages: 295
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

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One morning in January 2006, the body of a female insurance saleswoman, Yoshino was found dead on Mitsue Pass. A young construction worker, Yuichi is arrested for her murder. Shifting perspectives, Villain tells the story of the events leading up to Yoshino’s murder and the aftermaths.

Kosaku Yoshida is often considered as one of Japan’s best crime writers and as a fan of Japanese Lit, I knew I had to check one of his books out. However I was a little disappointed; the story was interesting but I was not a fan of the execution. I thought it builds up the suspense, then shifts perspective; which felt like it kept stopping and starting and that just felt too clunky. Yoshida explores the idea of alienation, which seems to be a common theme in Japanese fiction. This worked well, however this was not enough to redeem the novel for me.


Mini Reviews; Crime EditionTitle: Hit Man (Goodreads)
Author: Lawrence Block
Series: Keller #1
Published: Harper Collins, 2002
Pages: 342
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: eBook

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Lawrence Block is a hard working pulp crime novelist, best known for his hard-boiled detective Matthew Scudder, gentleman thief Bernie Rhodenbarr and hit man John Keller. Hit Man is the first book in the Keller series, combining a collection of short stories to develop this character. This is an interesting technique and Block’s short story book One Night Stands and Lost Weekends remains one of my favourite crime collections. He manages to pack the same punch of a normal pulp novel into a stripped down story.

I enjoy Lawrence Block’s style; it is nice to know someone is trying to keep the pulp crime genre alive. However Hit Man is more of a thriller series, which develops the complexities of this character with short intervals for an assassination. I like the way the stories interlock as a way to introduce John Keller, I have never seen this technique and think it worked well. Having said that, I think this is a fun book but I am not sure if I will continue the series. I am looking for something darker and do not think the Keller series will give me what I desire.


The Art of Memoir by Mary Karr

Posted December 17, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 2 Comments

The Art of Memoir by Mary KarrTitle: The Art of Memoir (Goodreads)
Author: Mary Karr
Narrator: Mary Karr
Published: Harper Collins, 2015
Pages: 256
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Audiobook

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I have been getting into non-fiction lately and especially memoirs. I love reading bookish memoirs, exploring someone’s reading journey or a challenge they completed. I think I have an interesting reading journey and I would love to write it down on paper. I picked up The Art of Memoir to get some ideas and motivate me into writing it down, even if it may never become a memoir. I like the idea of experimenting with the memoir form, developing my writing skills; who knows I might put my reading journey up on my blog as a series.

Mary Karr is a memoirist that has three memoirs in print, The Liars’ Club, Lit and Cherry. All three have been meet with huge acclaim, though I have not read them yet. Karr is an English literature professor Syracuse University often teaching a subject on memoirs. The Art of Memoir draws from her own experience as well as some of her favourite memoirs, including Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, The Possessed by Elif Batuman and Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov.

I found that this book had plenty of interesting things to think about when writing a memoir and it really got me excited on the whole endeavour. I really want to check out Mary Karr’s own memoirs and I am thankful that she put this book together. It does not offer a step by step guide but instead offers different examples on how to approach writing. I like how she kept enforcing the idea of sticking to your strengths and building from there. What works for Vladimir Nabokov will probably not work for me, even if I adore and want to emulate his writing style.

I do not know what will become of my writing, I now think of myself as a non-fiction writer (blogging). Since embracing this writing path, I have felt more inspired. I just need to experiment with different styles and see what works for me. Obviously blogging and reviewing is great but I want to see where I can go with my writing if I push myself more.


October 2015 Mini Reviews

Posted October 27, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary, Crime, Literary Fiction, Thriller / 2 Comments

October 2015 Mini ReviewsTitle: World Gone By (Goodreads)
Author: Dennis Lehane
Series: Coughlin #3
Published: William Morrow, 2015
Pages: 416
Genres: Crime
My Copy: Library Book

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Ten years after the events from Living by Night by Dennis Lehane, World Gone By, tells the story of Joe Coughlin in a changing world. Prohibition is now dead, the world is at war again and Joe’s enemies have destroyed his empire and killed his wife. The novel is set in both in Cuba and Ybor City, Florida and World Gone By explores the implications of Joe Coughlin’s past. A novel of crime, revenge and the moral complexity of a criminal past while being a good example for his son.

I am somewhat discontent with the state of popular crime fiction and find myself longing to be surprised. Normally I am a fan of crime novels and like to explore the psychological or gritty nature of the plot. World Gone By seems to offer something different, I did not connect with Living By Night, but the synopsis of its sequel was enough to raise my interest. Sadly, this was unable to deliver, and I felt disconnected to the plot due to the fact that it was overly cliché. I wanted to enjoy this book; the time era and the premise are two elements I love in fiction and I had heard such good things. I need to stop listening to hype, or maybe I should give up on crime fiction all together.


October 2015 Mini ReviewsTitle: Mislaid (Goodreads)
Author: Nell Zink
Published: Fourth Estate, 2015
Pages: 288
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

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Set in 1966, at the campus of Stillwater College, Mislaid tells the story of Peggy. A freshman with literary aspirations, Peggy finds herself falling for Lee, a poet and one of her professors. Peggy falls pregnant and the two end up married. The only problem is, Peggy identifies herself as a lesbian and Lee as gay. This turns into some wry joke; they are an odd couple that has been mislaid.

Nell Zink takes it upon herself to explore the complex issue of sexuality with a mismatched pair stuck in a marriage that neither are interested in. The problem with Mislaid, is that this is such a complex issue and Zink was unable to handle the novel in a way it deserves. From the first chapter when the term ‘Mecca for lesbians’ was used, I felt uneasy about the way the GSM (Gender and/or Sexual Minorities) community was being treated. Then the wit found in Mislaid did not work for the majority of the novel. I was less than impressed with this book; it could have been a great story but nothing seemed to come together the way I expected.


October 2015 Mini ReviewsTitle: Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico (Goodreads)
Author: Javier Marías
Translator: Esther Allen
Published: New Directions, 1996
Pages: 57
Genres: Literary Fiction
My Copy: Paperback

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I do not know how I found this little gem, I would like to know who recommended it so I could personally thank them. Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico is a short novella that tells the story of Ruibérriz de Torres who is brought in to translate for Elvis Presley who is in Mexico to film Fun in Acapulco. While in town, Elvis and his entourage, find themselves in a seedy bar where they get into a little trouble with a local kingpin.

Javier Marías has managed to create a punchy story that explores a complex life of a translator, on one hand he has a big famous singer/actor that the world idolises and adores but his entourage has got him into trouble with a crime lord that is feared in Acapulco. Ruibérriz de Torres is stuck in the middle unsure if he should be translating the words that could get everyone into a fight. Should he censor the words for either Elvis or the kingpin just to keep the peace? This novella explores the idea of translations and the second hand nature of words, in a very meta way since this novella was translated from the Spanish into English by Esther Allen. This is only fifty pages long, but manages to explore a complex issue in a very interesting way; I have not been able to stop thinking about the ideas found in Bad Nature, or With Elvis in Mexico.


October 2015 Mini ReviewsTitle: Leaving Berlin (Goodreads)
Author: Joseph Kanon
Translator: Esther Allen
Published: Simon & Schuster, 2015
Pages: 384
Genres: Thriller
My Copy: ARC from Publisher

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Almost four years after World War II, Berlin is a mess, divided in two. The east is occupied but the political ideas from the Soviet Union and the Allies are trying to control the west. This power struggle will later divide Germany into two with the erecting of the Berlin wall in 1961. Alex Meier is a young Jewish writer who managed to flee Nazi Germany to find a home in America. Only he found himself in the crosshairs of Joseph McCarthy during his “Red Scare” witch hunts. Alex and his family are now facing deportation; that was until he was given an alternative by the CIA but is this a solution at all?

The setting for Leaving Berlin is fascinating, the rebuilding and restoration of Germany is interesting enough as it is, but then you have the political struggle and influences of America and the Soviet Union as well. The American propaganda towards communism plays a big part in this espionage novel, and reading a book about a country being torn apart by the Cold War was really interesting. I am very interested in the history behind the Cold War, especially when it comes to the way the media was used to manipulate and of course I am interesting in the Soviet Union. As far as this novel goes, it was entertaining and I enjoyed reading it, however the setting and political history interested me more than the plot. I would have enjoyed a non-fiction novel of post-war Berlin more than Leaving Berlin, but that does not mean I regretted reading it.


One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag Montefiore

Posted September 22, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction / 2 Comments

One Night in Winter by Simon Sebag MontefioreTitle: One Night in Winter (Goodreads)
Author: Simon Sebag Montefiore
Published: Harper Collins, 2013
Pages: 480
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Moscow 1945, the Soviet Union is preparing for their Victory Day celebration on the 9th May, celebrating the defeat of the Germans. While Stalin and the rest of Moscow is celebrating, on a nearby bridge a teenage boy and girl lie dead. Was it murder, a suicide pact or part of a bigger conspiracy against the Bolshevik state? Stalin himself is interested in this investigation which at the centre of it all is an exclusive school where all Russia’s most important leaders send their children.

Simon Sebag Montefiore1 is a British journalist and historian who has written many books about Russia including two biographies on Joseph Stalin (Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar). His book Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar went on to win multiple awards including the now defunct History Book of the Year at the British Book Awards. It is with this background he wrote One Night in Winter, his third novel set in Soviet era (the other two being My Affair with Stalin and Sashenka).

While the novel is set around the deaths of a teenage boy and girl, One Night in Winter starts off with our protagonist, Andrei. Having returned with his mother from exile in Stalinabad (known Dushanbe, Tajikistan2) for the sins of his father, Andrei is determined to start a new life. This included being enrolled into the exclusive School 801, where he wants badly to fit in and make friends. This is the school which the country’s top leaders send their children, and he quickly falls in with a group of people who are trying to start their own literary movement; The Fatal Romantics.

The Fatal Romantics are inspired by the workings of Alexander Pushkin and in particular, his novel in verse, Eugene Onegin. Despite the fact Pushkin is a cultural icon and even one of Joseph Stalin’s favourite poets, The Fatal Romantics are playing a dangerous game, one could be accused of bourgeois sentimentalism or being un-Bolshevik. The rules for The Fatal Romantics club were as followed;

  1. We suffocate in a philistine world of science and planning, ruled by the cold machine of history.
  2. We live for love and romance.
  3. If we cannot live with love, we choose death. This is why we conduct our secret rites; this is why we play ‘The Game’.

What stood out to me the most about One Night in Winter was the amount of research that seemed to go into this novel; the afterword from the author even goes into details about historical inaccuracies and why facts were changed for the story. I appreciate this in a piece of historical fiction and made me more trusting of what I was reading. Because this novel was a campus type novel, featuring a literary movement, set in Russia, I had high hopes for the book and it did not let me down. There are a few problems I did find with the book, however for the most part, I was completely sucked in.

I have not read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s non-fiction but I am interested in reading a biography or two on Joseph Stalin. I got the impression Montefiore is a little sympathetic towards Stalin and might lead to a bias view in a biography. Being aware of his opinions towards this tyrant will allow me to go in with a different expectation. One Night in Winter gave a great insight of the cultural and mindset of the people living through the Soviet era, and I found it to be a compelling read.


August 2015 Mini-Reviews

Posted August 21, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Historical Fiction, Romance, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: Black Girl / White Girl (Goodreads)
Author: Joyce Carol Oates
Published: Fourth Estate, 2006
Pages: 272
Genres: Historical Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Black Girl / White Girl tells the story of Genna Hewett-Mead who is reflecting on a traumatic event in her past. Fifteen years ago, in 1975 while attending an exclusive women’s liberal arts college near Philadelphia, her roommate Minette Swift died a mysterious and violent death. Minette was a scholarship student and one of the few African American women to be let into the college. Genna, a quiet woman of privilege got to witness the effects of racism first hand as the racist harassment escalated from vicious slurs to something far worse. However whoever was responsible for this murder still remains a mystery to this day. I had never read Joyce Carol Oates before and I thought this may be my chance to experience her writing. The premise of this novel intrigued me and I was looking forward to uncovering the mystery at play. However, this turned out to be a novel about reflecting on the changing times; I was interested in learning about racism within America during the time of civil rights movements but this focused too much on Genna.

I understand that Joyce Carol Oates may not want to write a novel from the perspective of a person of colour, since she is Caucasian and probably could not do the situation any justice. Rather she took on the perspective of a woman of privilege experiencing the issue first hand. This may have made the book a little more autobiographical and allowed Oates to still explore the issue of racism. While I enjoyed this book, I did not find anything special about it. Maybe this was not the best example of Joyce Carol Oates’ writing but I will try more of her novels in the future.


August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Testimony (Goodreads)
Author: James Smythe
Published: Harper Collins, 2012
Pages: 368
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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First there was static and the whole world freaked out. Then came a voice that said “My Children, Do not be afraid”. People said it was God, others said it was the government and still others believed it was aliens. The whole world was brought to a halt but no one had the answers. The Testimony details the apocalypse from the perspective of twenty six people around the world. James Smythe is a master at writing science fiction that will really make you ponder life and The Testimony is no different.

I was curious to check out James Smythe’s debut novel ever since I discovered his novels. The Machine was my first Smythe and still remains my favourite although many do prefer The Explorer. For me, while The Testimony was a thrilling read, it just was not on the same level as the other books I have read. Dealing with so many different perspectives was a great way to capture the different opinions and question the events. However this novel was not overly impressive, still a great book but if I compare if to James Smythe’s other novels, it falls short. This is proof on just how far Smythe has improved and makes me excited to read something new by this great author.


August 2015 Mini-ReviewsTitle: The Firebird (Goodreads)
Author: Susanna Kearsley
Published: Sourcebooks Landmark, 2013
Pages: 539
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
My Copy: Audiobook

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Nicola has a rare gift, she can touch an item and glimpse the lives of its previous owners. When she holds a small wood carving called The Firebird she sees a glimpse of Catherine I, wife and later successor to the Tsar Peter the Great. The Firebird is a fresh take on the time traveling romance genre, blending it with the ever popular paranormal romance genre. This is the second book in the Slains series by Canadian author Suzanna Kearsley.

My wife is a big fan of Kearsley and since this novel is partly set in Russian she thought I should check it out. There is some interesting aspects of the life and times of Peter the Great and allowed me to learn a little more about Russian history and culture. However there is something about this novel that I did not like. The Firebird is a story with no conflict and no antagonist and for me this meant it was a really boring novel. I understand people would read this book for the romance but I was uninterested in that story line, I was reading this for the Russian setting. Obviously I am the wrong person to judge The Firebird, it really was not my type of book.


Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Posted August 8, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Pulp / 0 Comments

Get Shorty by Elmore LeonardTitle: Get Shorty (Goodreads)
Author: Elmore Leonard
Series: Chili Palmer #1
Published: William Morrow, 1990
Pages: 304
Genres: Pulp
My Copy: Library Book

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Chili Palmer is a shylock with mob connections working in Miami. However he is sick of the grind and it seems that his friends in the industry have a bad habit of dying. While chasing a deadbeat across America, he eventually ends up in Hollywood, where he decides to stay and start a new life. Besides, he has a killer idea for a movie and this is the town where dreams can come true…or do they?

It is no secret that Elmore Leonard has a bitter opinion towards Hollywood and Get Shorty allowed him to vent his feelings. In 1984 Leonard won an Edger Award (Best Novel) for his novel LaBrava and during the hype, Cannon Films brought the rights for a film adaptation. Dustin Hoffman had signed on to play former Secret Service agent Joe LaBrava in what was dubbed “the richest star deal in entertainment history”.  Elmore Leonard had to do multiple rewrites (all unpaid) at the request of the star only to have Hoffman terminate his contract citing ‘contract desputes’. The reason behind Hoffman’s departure from the project was due to some advertising; Cannon Films two full page ads in some trade papers which showed him pictured under the heading “Welcome to the Cannon Family Dustin Hoffman”. His contract granted him final approval to all advertising for the upcoming movie.

When reading Get Shorty you get a real sense of Elmore Leonard’s bitterness towards Hollywood and the failed movie. According to IMdb Dustin Hoffman is 5’5” and his depiction in the novel is the over compensating Michael Weir (who was portrayed by Danny DeVito in the film adaptation). Despite what Leonard may have thought about the movie industry, Get Shorty turned into one of the great satires depicting Hollywood. The film adaptation was the next of his novels to make the transition to the screen, this time with only minor changes to the main plot. This lead the way to a range of great Elmore Leonard adaptations, from Jackie Brown, Out of Sight, Be Cool, 3:10 to Yuma and the TV show Justified.

Get Shorty is probably one of the best modern crime novels I have read in a long time. I tend to find that modern authors in the genre do not explore social issues within their books. Elmore Leonard was one of the best crime novelists and it was sad to lose him back in 2013. I plan to read the next book in the Chili Palmer series, Be Cool and I think I should rewatch the movies sometime soon as well.


Deeper Waters by Jessie Cole

Posted March 12, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Deeper Waters by Jessie ColeTitle: Deeper Waters (Goodreads)
Author: Jessie Cole
Published: Harper Collins, 2014
Pages: 384
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Paperback

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Meme has been enjoying the simple life in Northern News South Wales; that was until she saves the life of Hamish in a heavy summer downpour. Cut off from the rest of world Hamish discovers a world cut off from technology. During this time with this stranger in the house, Meme also learns about the world outside of her own.

Jessie Cole’s novel Deeper Waters is a coming of age story about the sexual awakening of twenty-something year old Meme. However it is also a culture clash novel between the lifestyle people in the city (Hamish) are used to and just how different the rural outback can be. Both Meme and Hamish are from the same country but their lives are very different. Growing up with technology, it is hard to see a world without it and interestingly enough Deeper Waters manages to capture this perfectly. At times you think you are reading a book set in the 1970s or early 1980s but then the mention of technology reminds you that this is a book set in current times.

This was a book club pick and not something I would generally pick up on my own but it did make an interesting choice to discuss. However, I found the character development a little problematic; Meme was well developed but Hamish was very two dimensional and her best friend Anja was just a pile of clichés. The book did show a lot of promise for this emerging Australian author, her writing was solid and atmospheric but she could have developed all the other characters a whole lot more.

I really did enjoy the culture clash but after that the book did fall a little short. There was one thing that was mentioned in our book club discussion that I did not pick up on but now seems to bother me. Meme has a clubfoot (congenital talipes equinovarus) which is a birth defect that you do not really hear about these days, due to the advancement of medical treatments. However this might be a sign of the area Meme grew up in but all I can think now is that Hamish travelled back to the 1970s.

Deeper Waters is an interesting book to discuss however there are so many novels about the sexual awakening that explore this topic so much better. I am glad I read this Australian novel but I feel like Jessie Cole had the opportunity to do a lot more with the book but didn’t take it. Having said that, it is still a good read and Cole is an author worth watching. I have heard from multiple reviewers that Jessie Coles has improved greatly since her first novel, so that must mean her next book will be well worth checking out.


Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted February 22, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

Acceptance by Jeff VanderMeerTitle: Acceptance (Goodreads)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy #3
Published: Fourth Estate, 2014
Pages: 341
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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Acceptance is the final instalment of the Southern Reach trilogy. It is winter in Area X and a new team is about to embark on a new expedition. The plan is to press deeper into the area and explore unexplored terrain. Will they finally find out the secrets behind Area X? What will Southern Reach do? And what is with this lighthouse?

Yet once again I am stuck trying to work out just what to say about this book, much like the other two novels in the series. I really don’t know what I can say without giving spoilers but I also have committed myself to write some kind of review with everything I read. Area X is a mysterious ecosystem; it is an environment that is untouched or corrupted by humans and yet Southern Reach is determined to discover the secrets behind this mystery.

Within Annihilation the readers are introduced to Area X and we are allowed to explore this new world, but there were so many questions being raised without many answers given. I loved this about Annihilation; I was thrilled by everything in this novel and I knew I had to read the series to find out the answers. Authority explored the mystery behind the governing organisation Southern Reach; while I didn’t enjoy the book as much I was interested in find out more about bureaucracy.

After both Annihilation and Authority, there were still a lot of questions to be answered and Acceptance felt more like a novel to tie everything up. There is a new expedition and there is still some excitement to be found in the final instalment, but for me it was a letdown. I got my answers, but I wasn’t satisfied and in the end I just felt like everything wrapped up too neatly.

The Southern Reach trilogy is a thrilling science fiction series that plays with ideas of environment and bureaucracy. The world that Jeff VanderMeer has created is immersive and wonderfully crafted. These books are short and don’t take long to read. While I had my issues here, I am still glad to have worked my way through this trilogy and am interested in trying to more of Jeff VanderMeer’s novels.


Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

Posted December 19, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Horror, Science Fiction / 4 Comments

Authority by Jeff VanderMeerTitle: Authority (Goodreads)
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Series: Southern Reach Trilogy #2
Published: Fourth Estate, 2014
Pages: 341
Genres: Horror, Science Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

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For thirty years, the clandestine government agency simply known as the Southern Reach have been sending expeditions into an isolated area known as Area X. Twelve expeditions have been sent to this unspoilt stretch of the US coastline but they are no closer to unlocking the mysteries of Area X. John Rodriguez, or as he is better known, Control is the newly appointed head of Southern Reach and he is determined to sort out this agency from all its disarray.

While Annihilation focused on Area X and served as an exhibition into nature, Authority is more about the bureaucratic nightmare of a secretive government organisation. The story follows Control, who serves as more of an outsider trying to make sense of everything that is going on within the Southern Reach. While this novel focuses on the organisation rather than Area X, readers can still expect to experience the same building of tension and terror found in Annihilation.

Even though it is a different cast of characters, I am very mindful of giving spoilers to the series so I will be a little vague and won’t be able to say everything I would like to say. Having said that, I tend to view Authority as a novel that parallels Annihilation in many ways. This makes me believe that the effects of Area X is not just a physical anomaly but also psychological. Yet again the reader is left with more questions than answers; What is going on here?

While I don’t think Authority was nearly as exciting as Annihilation. I am still very curious how this series will end with the last book Acceptance. I do have the last book from the library and I will probably read it sometime in January; I just need to know the answers. These books are a fun departure from the types of books I normally read but I do hate how vague I have to be in the reviews. Go out and read them; that is pretty much all I can really say.