Reviews Published

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Grown-Up Kind Of Pretty

What can I say? I love Joshilyn Jackson's work. I fell in love with "gods in Alabama" and have loved every book since. If this makes me sound like a stalker, wait, there's more! Joshilyn once kindly agreed to be interviewed on this blog, and I sent her a list of questions that, had she replied, would have kept her busy for a decade.

So now, A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY, which has it all:
  • lovable characters (how the author made me identify with a teen, a 30-year old ex junkie and a motherly grandmother all at the same time is anybody's guess)
  • Joshilyn's unique addictive voice
  • a plot that keeps you guessing
  • a theme that can break your heart, but lifts it instead.
My only criticism is that it's finished. I wouldn't mind reading it for months and months still.

Thank you, Joshilyn. You're an inspiration.

OK, I'll stop gushing now. Don't want the Stalker Police on my doorstep.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Crime Writers' Conferences 2012

Here's a fantastic link with many writers' conferences. Some are crime fiction, some general fiction. Have a look.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Crime Fiction - Literary Acclaim?

I found this quote in a South African newspaper: "The critics appointed to adjudge each year’s best published work for the country's major prizes also still mainly pinch their noses when they encounter crime fiction."

And yet, many crime novels are beautifully written, complete with poetic language, themes, symbolism, foreshadowing and everything else D.H. Lawrence held dear. They make you think about current sociological issues (read any Harlan Coben thriller) and our morality (Dexter springs to mind, and yes, I know it's not a novel). They often take us to exotic places (H.F. Keating, YE Walus, Colin Cotterill).

So what gives? Is "Hamlet" not crime fiction, subgenre suspense? Did Dickens not use elements of crime fiction in "Bleak House"?

In Europe (Germany, Poland), crime fiction novels share the same bookshelf space as Tolstoy and Guenter Grass. Why is the English-speaking world so hung up on genre fiction being lesser?

Readers and critics, please feel free to respond.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Lee Child's TRIPWIRE

I've just finished Lee Child's TRIPWIRE. Because I read his books in whatever order I can get hold of them (the bookstore, the library, a friend's bookshelf), I've devoured this, the 3rd Jack Reacher book, after number 16... and number 13... and number 10. It doesn't matter. The Reacher books can be enjoyed out of sequence.

In a way, it's even more fun to discover the younger version of the hero after you get to know the more seasoned guy. Perhaps Lee Child knows it as well, because his latest novel (#16) is set in 1997 while book #8 goes all the way back to 1990.

But I digress. TRIPWIRE is a truly good read. I can do no better than quote the blurb for a quick hook: "Reacher's lazy anonymity in Key West is shattered by a stranger who comes to town searching for him but ends up dead. Following the man's trail back to New York, he finds a bewildered, elderly couple still mourning an all-American son lost in Vietnam, a woman Reacher couldn't forget, and a most vicious opponent."

Marked by Child's signature pace, packed with action and character development, this book stands out for me from the rest because of its message. War is pointless, it says. War heroes die in vain.

It's a hard message to swallow. It's also an important message to swallow. And then swallow again, lest you ever forget.