Reviews Published

Thursday, May 31, 2012

22/11/63 or 11/22/63?

I keep getting the title wrong. I know what it stands for (the day JFK was assassinated) and my non-USA-formatted mind keeps referring to it as 22/11/63, not 11/22/63. Either way, you know the book I mean. Stephen King's time travel epic. About JFK. The very thick one, the one that makes you wish you'd bought it on Kindle so that your wrists don't get sore from holding it up. Yeah, that one.

It took me a few days to get into 22/11/63... er... 11/22/63. As a JFK conspiracy theory nut, I loved the premise: oh, to go back in time and see what's what! As a scientist, though, I was cautious: would preventing the assassination be ultimately better for the world? As a reader, I wanted to be swept by the pace of the novel, only to be left drifting to admire the world in 1958, with its cigarette smoke haze and its root beer that tasted food-additive free.

Don't get me wrong: it was a great journey. Today's world is too rushed, too global, too connected, too commercial, so I revelled in the slower pace of half a century ago. It's just that the pace was more literary-novel than thriller. I can live with that.

The book introduces several intriguing ideas, so if you're a time travel fan, read it. If you're a history fan, read it. If you're not a horror book reader, read it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Mind For Murder

On May 13th this year, I had the privilege of attending A MIND FOR MURDER, a morning filled with talk about crime fiction. Read more here.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Hunger Games - the books and the movie

Not sure whether I can say anything that's not been said before. But I want to say it anyway. Unstructured ramblings to follow. (Warning: Spoilers.)

Overall, I loved the books as much as I hated the premise. Never had I imagined I'd be reading and enjoying books in which children kill one another. Fortunately, Suzanne Collins writes beautiful prose, and she writes with heart. It still amazes me that I could admire a heroine as prickly and self-centered as Katniss.

What message did other readers get from the trilogy? For me, it clearly says war is wrong, war is a pointless waste of life, war kills children on both sides of the barricade. It clearly says all politicians are evil. And it clearly says don't drop roses onto a battle zone (this is a dig from me: story goes that during the Warsaw Uprising in WW2, British aeroplanes dropped flowers onto the city... the city wanted food).

Anyway, Book 1 was my favourite and it's joining my list up there with ROOM and THE HELP. I thought the movie did it justice, even if we couldn't hear her thoughts during the Games. Of Book 2, ironically, I enjoyed the Games the most. And Book 3 made me cry.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview with Vanda Symon

My interview with Vanda Symon will appear in this Saturday's Dominion Post (12 May 2012). Buy the paper and turn to p34-35 of YOUR WEEKEND!

Friday, May 04, 2012

Vanda Symon's THE FACELESS

New Zealand crime fiction author, Vanda Symon, has just had a new release, THE FACELESS. Vanda is one of my favourite people, and I'm doubly thrilled the book was launched by Penguin's commissioning editor Katie Haworth. I had the privilege of meeting Katie at the 2011 RWNZ Annual Conference, and I'll never forget the image she put in my head... of herself and her assistant reading through piles of submissions that reach metres into the air.

THE FACELESS is Vanda's first stand-alone thriller. I love that it's set in Auckland. I love that it deals with the delicate issue of sex workers, a topic I myself write about. I love that it makes the reader think of all the lonely, faceless people lost in the sea of human beings.

To win a signed copy of Vanda's book, please click here.