Book review: <i>Waiting</i> by Ha Jin



Nothing says love like waiting eighteen years for your boyfriend (who you’ve never even kissed) to divorce his wife and marry you. Really. Waiting is the heartbreaking tale of a man and a woman and another woman, living in China and making sure they adhere to the regulations of the communist party and the conventions of everyday life. Ha Jin manages to describe the utterly foreign (to me, anyway) experience of living in communist China, but he also manages to make it seem commonplace, interesting and alive all at once.

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Book review: <i>Jane Eyre</i> by Charlotte Bronte



If this was a sofa, it would be a pleasant-looking but dated design with ebony framework hand-carved with a slightly intimidating attention to detail. You wouldn’t put it in your lounge room in front of the TV, but perhaps keep it in your bedroom because, despite appearances, it would in fact be almost shockingly ergonomically satisfying.

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Book review: <i>Just A Corpse At Twilight</i> by Janwillem van de Wetering



Apparently this little gem is the twelfth book in the Grijpstra and DeGrier Mystery series (I can just manage to pronounce DeGrier, but I can’t even begin to vocalise Grijpstra), which follows two Dutch detectives going about their business in a manner that is extremely read-worthy. Just A Corpse At Twilight is well written with a decent plot and manages to convey the constant message that it isn’t just another murder mystery police novel. And if all this hasn’t convinced you, the back flap of the book jacket contains a photo of the writer, and one look at him should convince you that this will be an interesting read indeed.

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Book review: <i>Bangkok Tattoo</i> by John Burdett



Who could resist the title, really? And I'll be the first to admit, I selected this one based purely on the exciting bright yellow dust jacket and equally funfilled hot-pink stripe down the spine. We all have to judge a book by it's cover now and then. And this one certainly wasn't the unmittigated disaster other such judgements have been. I certainly wasn't unhappy to have selected it, and it was rollicking and funfilled and I really enjoyed to plot, but threre was something fishy about the actual writing techniques that I found difficult to reconcile with.

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Book review: <i>Homegrown Democrat</i> by Garrison Keillor



If this was a family, they’d play sport on Saturday, go to church on Sunday, all have at least one degree or formal qualification, read recreationally, and have a number of surprisingly earthy in-jokes, some of which would turn up in junior’s first novel.

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Book review: <i>Dust To Dust</i> by Tami Hoag



You’ll all be pleased to hear that Tami Hoag’s Dust To Dust is slightly less irritating than the only marginally irritating A Thin Dark Line, which is quite a positive step. Once again, a by-the-book thriller type with all the prerequisites, and I’ll tell you now unequivocally I prefer Tami Hoag to James Patterson. By a long shot. She just puts in more effort, and she isn’t pretending to be anything other than an author of pulp thrillers, so she gets points for both of those things. Oh, and while her books are light and easy to read and finish, they do have a little substance to them.

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Book review: <i>The Official Razzie Movie Guide</i> by John Wilson



Cover

Black background, dull text, and a blurry black-and-white screen grab of a man in an unconvincing gorilla suit flipping us off. (This admittedly apt image comes from a film called A*P*E, one of the first to be reviewed inside the book.)

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Book review: <i>An Artist Of The Floating World</i> by Kazuo Ishiguro



Set in Japan right after the second world war, An Artist Of The Floating World draws you gradually and effortlessly into the life of Masuji Ono, a renown yet now disgraced artist from imperialist Japan. The story begins in a manner that suggests that this story is just going to be a fairly standard set of reminiscences from an old man, but the twisting narrative style and artful teasing-out of the story a bit at a time turns this simple and beautiful tale into a heartbreaking and joyful experience to read.

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Book review: <i>Fargo Rock City</i> by Chuck Klosterman



If this was… I was going to give Klosterman the honour (sic) of comparing him to Motley Crue but I just can’t do it. It would belie the very valid points he makes about the nature of their appeal (Klosterman is NOT cool, and would never pretend to be – indeed his nebbish outsiderness is something he’s proud of). Got it – if this was thirty years old it would be the book Lester Bangs wrote about the music he loved and never got around to publishing because it was a bit too self-obsessed even for him.

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Book review: <i>Mary Mary</i> by James Patterson



Yes, it was 413 pages long, but don't let that fool you - I finished this piece of fluff in less than a day and still managed to get everything else that I cram into a day done - including watching several hours of tv, going to two doctors appointments, and a myriad of other things. So it wasn't exactly heavy going. Furthermore, while it wasn't so awful I wanted to put it down (which is how I felt about the last James Patterson I read, 4th of July), I only read it yesterday and I've already forgotten it. So "memorable" isn't going down as one the Mary Mary's finer qualities. Aside from that, the whole experience was relatively inoffensive, not overly time consuming and contained moments where I almost found it interesting. However, I just can't wrap my head around how this guy is such a consummate best seller. I'd probably have so much more time for him if he was just some second rate, independently published thriller author who was to be found solely in dingy little bookstores - it might actually force him to put some effort in.

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Book review: <i>The Truth (With Jokes)</i> by Al Franken



If this was a TV program, it would be the Daily Show Election Special where they actually say what they feel.

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Book review: <i>Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets</i> by J. K. Rowling



Ah, Harry Potter the second. With such a favourable impression left upon me by the first one, of course I had to read the second one. And by the time the second one was out in Australia, Harry Potter fever had begun and everybody wanted a copy. It was make or break time—could she do it again? Or was she just a one-trick-Harry-Potter pony? And I don’t think there were many disappointed people out there with Harry Potter And The Chamber of Secrets—Harry and his friends, on another dazzling adventure just as thrilling as the last.

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Book review: <i>Dave Barry’s Complete Guide To Guys</i> by Dave Barry



If this was a beverage, it would be a deliciously cold lager shandy, placed in your eager hand by a friend on a hot summer’s day.

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Book review: <i>A Thin Dark Line</i> by Tami Hoag



A Thin Dark Line is the quintessential textbook thriller. It had all the correct elements in all the correct places, and while it wasn’t a dazzling literary work, it kept me relatively interested and it wasn’t an effort to finish the thing in two days, which in my opinion is as a thriller should be. It was light, fluffy, and only slightly annoying, and it had a relatively unexpected twist and completely predictable sex scenes. All in all, an excellent example of an airport novel.

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Book review: <i>Overtaken</i> by Alexei Sayle



If this was an evening at home it would be a flukily good art-house movie, a favourite sitcom, a good conversation, tasty leftovers and kinky sex.

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Book review: <i>Pattern Recognition</i> by William Gibson



I found this book to be EXTREMELY difficult in a multitude of ways. During the reading process, which was quite drawn out due to the following, I struggled through stages of ambivalence, irritation, eagerness, interest, distaste, and the desire to just read something else and forget about it. So, I suppose you could call Pattern Recognition emotionally evocative... [...]

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Book review: <i>Inside Little Britain</i> by Boyd Hilton



I really enjoyed all three of the Little Britain television series and found the live stage show hilariously funny, and exceptionally well produced. The comedy of Matt Lucas and David Walliams is daring and challenging, these two men are undeniably funny. Unfortunately though, Inside Little Britain by Boyd Hilton is nothing short of the biggest pile of festering tripe that has ever been set on paper.

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Book review: <i>Breakfast of Champions</i> by Kurt Vonnegut



If this was a sofa, it would be a sublimely comfortable, utterly kick-ass retro-style seventies design which will only get more expensive as the years progress, despite being upholstered in a scary orange and brown design.

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