17 October 2021

Review: Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson

Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson book cover
* Copy courtesy of Bloomsbury Australia *


Having thoroughly enjoyed Never Have I Ever last year, I thought I'd give Joshilyn Jackson's newest domestic thriller Mother May I a try. When the novel opens, Bree is happily married to a lawyer, they have three kids and a nice house. Life is great, until her infant baby boy is kidnapped.

There have been many thrillers of a similar nature released in the last few years, all posing the same question for the reader, 'how far would you go to protect your family?' I received Mother May I unsolicited from the publisher, but based on the strength of my own 5 star review for Never Have I Ever, I thought there's every chance this could be one of the best of the sub-genre.

I liked our protagonist Bree, and thankfully she didn't make any stupid or groan inducing mistakes when the kidnapper, an old woman who looks like a witch, gets in touch to tell Bree how she can get her son back.

Themes of motherhood, guilt and revenge dominate this book, and I enjoyed this character insight from well into the book.
"The mind revises... As time passed, events became mutable. People justified their actions, and the more shame they felt about a memory, the more they chewed it over, fretting and defending and editing, until they could live with it." Page 227
I think that's very true, and perhaps if I was a parent myself I would have found Bree's predicament more frightening. Mother May I was an enjoyable read, but nowhere near as gripping and engaging as Never Have I Ever, which was a clear standout for me last year. Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson is recommended reading for those who enjoy domestic noir and domestic thrillers.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.


My Rating:



11 October 2021

Review: Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso by David Sedaris audiobook cover
I'm new to David Sedaris and despite being well aware of his many books and essay collections, this is the first time I've dipped a toe into his literary ouevre, and let me tell you, this guy makes me laugh! Calypso is a collection of essays published in June 2018 and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him narrate the audiobook.

Sedaris is a humourist (which I've learned is different to a comedian) and he shares his observational humour and revelations of varying degrees of importance about a range of topics, but largely including his family, upbringing with five siblings, ageing of his parents (and himself), and comments on society.

I loved the quirky family jokes and insights and each essay is delivered in an intelligent, yet self deprecating and insightful way that often made me laugh out loud or chuckle to myself. His wry sense of humour certainly isn't for everyone, and I was only too aware of Sedaris' white privilege shining through in many of his stories. That said, Sedaris seems to be extremely self aware in a way that made it easy for me to let this go and just enjoy the ride. Besides, who can hate on a guy for his white male privilege when his hobby is picking up litter by the side of the road.

There were many moments I stopped to repeat a phrase or enjoy a sentence again, like this one from half way through the book.
"There was never any problem making conversation with my mother. That was effortless. The topics springing from nowhere, and we'd move from one to the next in a way that made me think of a monkey gracefully swinging through the branches of a tree." Chapter 11, 3 hours and 20 minutes remaining
Employing a droll sense of humour and acerbic wit, Sedaris successfully maintains the balance between serious topics, like the death of his sister by suicide, to lighter moments like toilet troubles or the engagements he has with readers in the signing line of his shows. (I'd love to see him perform live if he comes back to Melbourne).

I enjoyed Calypso by David Sedaris so much that I've decided to go back to some of his earlier work and continue listening. Have you read any David Sedaris, seen him on talk shows or even perform live? Do you enjoy his sense of humour? If so, I'd love to hear about it. In the meantime, I recommend his work with caution. I don't know if I'd have enjoyed Calypso quite so much if I'd read his work instead of listening to it, and his humour is an acquired taste. But I can't get enough, so take from that what you will.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.


My Rating:


06 October 2021

Review: The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous book cover
I loved reading The Au Pair by Emma Rous in 2019, and I was really excited to read The Perfect Guests this year, hoping for more buried family secrets, plot twists and flawed characters.

In 2019, Sadie is a struggling actress and receives an invitation to play a role at a murder mystery event at Raven Hall. In 1988, Beth is a 14 year old orphan sent by her aunt to Raven Hall to be a companion to a girl the same age, Nina.

The dual narrative in The Perfect Guests keeps the story flowing although I preferred Sadie's coming-of-age timeline at Raven Hall and the sinister undertones in the complex relationships between the characters.

I was worried the murder mystery setting might have been to cliche for my liking, but it totally worked and was the perfect platform for the 'reveals' at the end. I didn't guess at any of the character connection reveals or twists, and they were cleverly written and satisfying to uncover.

Just as in The Au Pair though, the cover design for The Perfect Guests wasn't representative of the novel for me. It's a scene from the book, however the UK cover design totally nails the atmosphere and setting and I wish this had been the cover chosen for the Australian market.

Raven Hall almost feels like a separate character, and once again, the author was able to bring the manor house and grounds to life in the way Stacey Halls does in Mrs England, and other authors like Laura Purcell and Kate Morton do that keep me coming back for more.

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous was a thoroughly enjoyable read and I can highly recommend it.

You can seize this book at Booktopia.


My Rating:


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