Category Archives: Reviews

Life has been getting in the way of my reading so I haven’t been doing as much as I‘d like. And I’m a slow reader – always have been. But since I’m making an effort to find time I thought I’d start reviewing some of the ones I’m reading.
From time to time I also get to the theatre. Not often enough because of where we live.
And although I rarely watch movies, you may see a review of an occasional one of them too.

Movie Review: Ladies in Black

5 stars

Director Bruce Beresford doesn’t put a foot wrong in this movie adaptation of Madeleine St John’s best-selling novel.

This is a joyous exploration of Sydney’s and Australia’s cultural landscape in the late 1950s as the Ladies in Black discover life, love, themselves … and olives.

Magda is the cultivated “reffo” who takes unsophisticated Lisa under her wing and, with the help of a belt and some lippie, helps her blossom into a young lady. Along with her refugees friends, Magda adds a little European colour to the lives of those she meets, and beyond.

And where, might you ask, is Melbourne in this movie? It’s humourously relegated to 2nd place – although its coffee does get a mention.

5/5 stars. I’ll be watching it again.

Mini-series review: Loch Ness (The Loch)


I thoroughly enjoyed this 6-part, made-for-TV mini-series. I found it light enough to not need 100% concentration 100% of the time but also gripping enough to have me looking forward to the next episode.

Views of the loch and the surrounding countryside were featured and used to advantage to contribute to the storyline in a way didn’t feel forced.

The action plays out as a fairly standard murder mystery drama, with the predictable conflicts and plenty of twists and turns without becoming too convoluted.

The climax and conclusion were surprising though perhaps just a little unbelievable but not so unlikely as to detract from my enjoyment.

3.5/5 stars



Book Review: Barrel Fever (David Sedaris)


A book of two halves.

Or, perhaps more accurately, 3/4 and 1/4.

I’ve heard David Sedaris reading his essays and have always found his stories honest, entertaining and sometimes quite raw, so I was looking forward to this book.

The first part of the book is a collection of short stories. I will admit I didn’t read all these. In fact I ploughed my way through one and a half before heading to the essays and the end of the book.

The short stories I read seemed ridiculous and pointless. Not funny; not entertaining; not believable. Yes, I know it’s fiction, so obviously not true, but fiction – no matter how outrageous – needs to be believable.

The essays, on the other hand, were everything I’d hoped for. I thoroughly enjoyed his amusing take on these personal stories.

I’ll definitely read more of his work but will be a bit more discerning about which book I buy next.

3 stars out of 5.


Film review: Crazy Rich Asians

You know the story. You know how it ends. There’s no weird twists; nothing to strain your brain. Just a great excuse to relax and eat some popcorn.

It’s a RomCom.

Fun, funny, predictable, entertaining.

Sometimes that’s all you need.

Great to see this classic story line played out by different faces and in a different location. A great way to showcase Singapore, even if most of us will never enter the crazy, rich world of the movie.

4/5 stars for being an enjoyable interpretation of a classic theme.

Game review: Love Letter


Love Letter is a game of deduction and betrayal. With a little luck and a little strategy you will win the favour of the Princess. Use your advantages to get your letter to her. Use your power to eliminate your rivals.

Each player starts with 1 card. On their turn they draw a 2nd card then choose which one to play, taking the action on that card if they can.

A game for 2 to 4 players, more is better if you like a bit more intrigue and deduction but a 2 player game is perfectly acceptable and fun. In a 3 or 4 player game you burn 1 card. In a 2 player game you burn 4 cards. So there is always the chance that the best card is out of the game. And sometimes the highest scoring card is a weakness.

Simple to learn, fun to play, quick and easy but never the same.

Definitely one for those who like something to carry with them when they travel. We’ve played it on the table at home with 4, and 2 of us have played on the little side table between the seats in the airport.

There’s a number of themed editions available. We have the original Tempest Edition.


Book Reviews: Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch


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I was so excited about this book, and the potential for the rest of the series.

It sounded like just my thing – my ideal mix of mystery and fantasy and little bit of ridiculousness thrown in.

Sadly, it didn’t hold my attention the way I thought it would. I read it and was a little disappointed.

I haven’t gone on to read the rest of the series yet. I’ll consider it down the track.

Book Review: The Torso in the Town by Simon Brett

I wondered if I shouldn’t have posted something a bit more positive for my first review. But, hey, I was just being honest.

Still, I wouldn’t want you think I’m totally negative, so here’s one that I actually did enjoy.


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My first Simon Brett novel. I’ll be back for more.

A nice, light English murder mystery that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. The solution was unexpected without being unbelievable.

My biggest complaint was the loose ends that were irrelevant or unimportant were tied up, but they didn’t need to be. It could have been finished a few pages sooner without losing anything. And the American spelling. Surely an English novel should have English spelling, even for an American audience. Sigh!

Book Review: Summer Garden Murder by Ann Ripley

Life has been getting in the way of my reading so I haven’t been doing as much as I‘d like. And I’m a slow reader – always have been. But since I’m making an effort to find time I thought I’d start reviewing some of the ones I’m reading.


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What can I say about this one? Dreadful.

Although this is the 9th in the series, it was the first Ann Ripley book I’ve read. And the last.

The writing itself is riddled with mistakes of grammar and syntax, but the most galling thing for me was the discrepancies in the timeline. From the very beginning, sections were given dates. The first was a party on 4th August. The next date was 18th August. But in between was reference to that same party “3 weeks ago”. You don’t have to be a prize winning mathematician to work out that’s wrong.

So I was off-side almost from the beginning.

Then there was the murder itself. The whole plot relied on you having read a previous book. I hadn’t. Although I’d have liked to start at the beginning of the series, our small library won’t necessarily have them all so sometimes we have to settle for what we can get. Recurring characters are one thing, but relying on information not available to a first time reader is unacceptable. Each book should stand alone.

Despite this, I easily worked out who the murderer was. I couldn’t figure out the motive … because I didn’t know the history.

I soon got bored with the bumbling attempts of the amateurs to solve the mystery and flicked to the end to check if I was right and find the “why”.

My assessment: Tedious and poorly written. Don’t bother.