I got the phone call. Would I be able to do some book reviews? How many? Perhaps three favourites from the year and three current. Ha, where to start? It’s hard to cull just three from the amazing books I’ve read this year. So – here are my choices (although if I were to do it again tomorrow, I’d probably change my mind).
Best this year
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara.
Heartbreaking but beautifully written, this novel follows the lives of four college graduates who move to New York. All talented and driven, their friendships provide the glue to their lives as they follow very different paths. Short-listed for the Man Booker prize, it is a huge read with a big heart.
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
The third in the Cormoran Strike series written by J K Rowling under the Galbraith pseudonym. Cormoran is a private detective in London who is, at times, struggling to make a career in detective work after his return from fighting in Afghanistan. My favourite of the three so far, this story continues to follow the growing relationship between Cormoran and his secretary Robin. Meanwhile, someone has sent a severed leg by courier to his office and he has four suspects who he thinks would be capable of such brutality.
Our Souls At Night by Kent Haruf is a beautiful meditation on what life and love mean to us as we age. This was the last book he wrote before he died, and in fact he was inspired by his wife. He had told her that the moments he loved best were evenings in bed when they talked about their day, and shared their hopes and dreams. This novel introduces us to Addie, a widow, who pops over to see Louis, a widower, and asks if he would like to come over from time to time and stay the night with her. Questions are asked, eyebrows are raised and perhaps loneliness is kept at bay.
The Secret Chord by Geraldine
The story of King David (yes, he of the song by Leonard Cohen) as told by his prophet Natan. Brilliant at historical novels, Brooks fleshes out the character of David beautifully, and we see him in all his glory, his triumphs and failures laid bare.
The Hanging Girl by Jussi Adler-Olsen
The sixth in the Department Q thriller series. I’m a fan of the Scandi-Crime genre and Adler-Olsen doesn’t disappoint. I would recommend starting with the first novel Mercy, but if you happen upon this book first, just jump right in. Detective Inspector Carl Morck specialises in cold cases in Denmark and is aided and abetted by his faithful sidekicks Assad and Rose.
From The Cutting Room Of Barney Kettle by Kate De Goldi
A delightful young-adult read that I found very amusing and heart-warming. Much like the 10pm Question, this novel will be enjoyed equally by adults. Barney is obsessed with filmmaking and just knows he is going to be a famous director. His little sister Ren keeps him focussed and on track but he starts to worry when after showing his latest offering to his friends and neighbours, he realises he is lacking an idea for the next big project. After he finds a piece of paper of mysterious drawings seemingly addressed to him, he realises he has the makings of his next epic film all around him and we are then introduced to the quirky characters that inhabit his neighbourhood. This book is another delight by a very talented kiwi author.