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Showing posts from May 2, 2021

Being Black 'n Chicken, and Chips

K ookaburra in a tree. Port Douglas, Far North Queensland. April 2021. Being Black 'n Chicken, and Chips by Matt Okine This was a good little read, funny in parts, although not quite as funny as I think intended. This bittersweet coming of age story may have worked better as a memoir rather than a semi-fictionalised book. Matt Okine's youth saw him losing his mother to cancer and the struggles of having a Ghanese father, much like our narrator, "Mike Amon". While this choice may have both made the writing psychologically safer - and opened up the potential for more dick jokes - it does somewhat undermine the gravitas of what is quite a moving tale of loss, grief and growing up. It also isn't helped by an inconsistency in a tone that makes me wonder who the intended audience is. For the most part, it reads like a young adult, but the sentimental reverence of the late-90s and nature of many of the jokes and exploration of the mother-son dynamic suggests an older aud

“People without a sense of humor will never forgive you for being funny.”

Manjal Dimbi ( Mount Demi ), Mossman, Far North Queensland. April 2021. The Thursday Murder Club   by Richard Osman An enjoyable romp in the traditional English murder mystery form. Richard Osman has done a great job in conjuring up a rich and diverse group of characters with a keen eye for unsolved murders and plenty of time on their hands. The decision to set the novel in a retirement village allows Osman to give his elderly cast colourful backstories and useful skills required to both solve crimes and advance storylines. While it gets a little crowded at times, there's enough killing off of characters along the way to keep things moving and thin the herd! If you're after a spot of good old fashioned crime-solving fun with enough highs, lows, laughs and tears to keep one engaged, this is likely the book for you. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

"Who knows but that England may revive in New South Wales when it has sunk in Europe."

Fish of the Great Barrier Reef, Agincourt Reef, Far North Queensland. April 2021. Banks by Grantlee Kieza The strongest elements of this rich and detailed biography are those during the defining period of Banks' life and career: his voyage with James Cook's expedition to the south Pacific Ocean aboard HMS Endeavour from 1768 to 1771. I particularly enjoyed the section on their visit to far north Queensland (I happened to be visiting while reading the book). The tensions between the young Banks and Cook regarding the latter's brusque approach to the native peoples was enlightening and foretold both Cook's eventual fate and the subsequent treatment of Australia's original inhabitants. Much like Banks' life after returning to England, the book tends to drift with occasional flashes of colour. I was less interested in the internal politics of the Royal Society or Banks' love life than I was in the exploration of the new world. While Cooks' latter voyages, t

"Witches? We’re all witches in one way or another. Witches was the invention of mankind, son. We’re all witches beneath the skin.”

Ship heading out over the Coral Sea. North of Port Douglas, Far North Queensland. April 2021. The Flood by Ian Rankin This definitely has the ring of an early novel. While you can see the elements of talent that emerged in Rankin's later work, there is also an immaturity and slightness in tone that never quite convinces. The story seems undercooked, and the characters lack depth. While it is always interesting to read an author's early work, a tendency towards the melodramatic and an underwhelming reveal means that this one might best be given a miss. ⭐ ⭐