What Library Staff are Reading . . .

Last Night at Chateau Marmot by Lauren Weisberger – I love my trashy nightime reading – this month it was the latest by The Devil Wears Prada author.  Not as great as some of her other novels but still worth the read.  It doesn’t end up as I predicted : http://www.laurenweisberger.com/

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes – 2011 Booker Prize winner – a story of mystery, of memory and missed opportunity. Tony Webster, a cautious, divorced man in his 60s who “had wanted life not to bother me too much, and had succeeded,” receives an unexpected bequest from a woman he’d met only once, 40 years earlier. The mother of his college girlfriend, Veronica, has bequeathed him £500 — a legacy that unsettles Tony, pushing him to get in touch with Veronica (their relationship had ended badly) and seek answers to certain unresolved questions.   Beautifully written and a joy to read.

44 Charles St by Danielle Steele – I had not read Danielle Steele since I was a teenager.  I remembered her books as love stories with a bit of a storyline to them.  The blurb made this book sound interesting – based around a house in New York. To keep the house and pay the mortgage, Francesca gets in boarders – a lively interesting bunch.  What I didn’t remember about Steele’s style of writing was how repetitive, middle class and preachy it was!  Steele made her main character, Francesca an extremely patronising, no-sex-before-commitment character and of course one of the boarders who used Internet dating ending up in a sticky mess – all her own fault according to Francesca.  I actually found the whole story an interesting insight into how Babyboomers may view the happy-go-lucky Gen Y who have grown up with gadgets and have no sense of privacy.  The story, even though repetitive, kept me interested to the end – I wanted to see if Francesca ended up with the Babyboomer dream of white wedding, happily every after with the love of her life (“as if!” says the cynical Gen X in me)

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville – Lieutenant Daniel Rooke sails into Sydney Cove with the First Fleet, hoping to advance his career.  Instead his life is unimaginably changed.  A young Aboriginal girl visits and begins to teach him her language. As they learn to speak together, they build a rapport that bridges the gap between their dangerously different worlds.  Then Rooke is given a command that forces him to choose between his duty as a soldier and the friendship that’s become so precious to him.  Inspired by the First Fleet notebooks of William Dawes, The Lieutenant is about a unique moment when one world engaged with another, and the two remarkable individuals who found ways to share understanding.  I loved the exploration of the Aboriginal language throughout this novel.

Bad Girls by Rebecca Chance – a wonderful holiday read of trashy chicklit!  Supermodel Amber Peters should have the world at her feet. But her secret addiction has led her down a dangerous path. Lap dancer Skye Ellwood is desperate to get out of the life she’s living, but has no idea how – until a client makes her an unusual proposition. Following an ultimatum from his fiance, A-list movie star Joe Jeffreys is finally heading to rehab to sort out his sex addiction – and save his squeaky-clean image. Spoiled daughter of a legendary rock god, Petal Gold is convinced she’s a huge star in waiting, and she’ll trample on anyone she thinks is standing in her way.  Passion, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and scandal: during their tumultuous thirty days at Cascabel clinic, the lives of Amber, Skye, Joe and Petal will be transformed forever. But for one of them, the stakes could not be higher – or more dangerous.

Dreaming in English by Laura Fitzgerald – this was a work of fiction but I had to keep reminding myself as it was written in the first person and really seemed to be about someone’s life – it was that realistic!  Tamila was from Iran and went to visit her sister in the US.  From there it is a story of how she tries to stay in the country.  Great little read full of drama.

Labels by H.C. Carlton – Could this be the novel that inspired The Devil Wears Prada?  Written in the 80s, by a man who was there. From the wild sixties to the sexy seventies, they ruled the world of fashion – and fashion ruled them. Mackenzie Gold – outrageous, racy, shocking, yet desperately yearning for what she can never have. She’s fashion’s pop queen, obsessed with designing the hottest threads on the scene. Mia Stanton – gorgeous, refined, but tormented by the most shattering hang-up a passionate woman can possess. Her designs set trends that reap fame, wealth, and the undying envy of the person who should love her the most. Coral Stanton – uninhibited, unscrupulous, untrustworthy. She’s Mia’s mother, the hellfire editor of a top fashion magazine, a woman prepared to pay any price to get what she wants. Set against a canvas of free love, passion, ambition and betrayal, Labels draws you into the world of three women determined to stop at nothing to fulfil their dreams of fashion.

In the Country of Men and Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar – this Libyan author writes beautifully about his country and exiles. I cannot recommend him highly enough. He gave the opening address at the Sydney Writer’s Festival this year.

Why be happy when you could be normal? by Jeanette Winterson – so said Jeanette Winterson’s adoptive mother when Jeanette told her she was a lesbian. A very interesting autobiography about a very complex relationship.

Bereft by Chris Womersley

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel – I read this again so I would be ready to go with the sequel, Bring up the Bodies, which I started to read on the anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution!

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do – a lovely, upbeat memoir from a lovely, upbeat guy. My daughter (11 and not a big reader) read it too.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert – I was inspired to read this after listening to Alison wax lyrical about it during her Listeners in the Mist interview. All I can say is I couldn’t stand the spoiled, nasty Emma Bovary. I’m sure the untapped potential and the ennui of the lives of 19th century women is the whole point of the book but I just found it all too tedious. I duked it out with Emma for two thirds of the book but if I’d been made to finish it I would have lost the will to live.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce and The Terrible Privacy of Maxwell Sim by Jonathan Coe – two quirky British books where the protagonist goes on a journey. Harold Fry goes to post a letter to a dying former colleague in the post box at the corner of his street in Devon and then finds himself walking all the way to Berwick on Tweed to deliver the letter by hand and Maxwell Sim leaves the ruins of his personal life to drive a Prius and a box of  toothbrushes from Luton to the Shetland Islands with only the SatNav lady for company.

Defy Gravity by Caroline Myss – Caroline Delves delves into a journey beyond logic, beyond reason, and into a mystical consciousness.  Inspired by ordinary people who overcame a wide array of physical and psychological ailments—from rheumatoid arthritis to cancer—Caroline delves into the works of the great mystics to gain a deeper understanding of healing’s spiritual underpinnings. Based on these studies, she demonstrates how conventional and holistic medicine often fall short in times of need. Both systems rely upon a logical approach to curing illness when there is nothing reasonable about the emotional, psychological, or spiritual influences behind any ailment.    Integral to this mystical healing approach is the engagement of the soul, which we experience through exploring our seven shadow passions, building an empowered inner self around our seven inherent graces, and learning how to work with the mystical laws that govern it. This knowledge holds the key to understanding what it means to defy gravity and break through the boundaries of ordinary thought.  You can channel grace. And you can learn to live fearlessly’.

Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The girl with the glass feet by Ali Shaw – a lovely modern fairytale/love story with a not so happy ending.

Revelation  by C.J. Sansom – the author was recommended by a customer. Lovely historical detail around a whodunit.

Be the pack leader  by Cesar Millan – because my dogs don’t know that I am the pack leader

A feast for crows by George R.R. Martin –  part of an ongoing fantasy series and I’m getting a bit fed up trying to keep track of all the characters

Flock by Lyn Hughes – for my book group (it didn’t fare very well, only 2.2 out of 5)

I’ve recently read Stillwater Creek by Alison Booth – an easy to real Australian novel set around the late 1950’s, it deals with a large number of contemporary issues and  prejudices that bubble within a small town situation. Subjects such as same sex morality, refugee assimilation, paedophilia, and the treatment of aborigines, all swirl around in this little coastal village.

I’ve also read  Why be happy when you could be normal which was an amazing read in that it made me think about how warped adults can be, and the effect this has on their children, and the direction this will then take them into adulthood. Not an uplifting biography that’s for sure.

I have just finished reading all the available titles in Andrew Martin’s Jim Stringer, Steam Detective series, set in Edwardian Yorkshire and surrounds. I liked the cast of genuine characters, the authentic language and settings, plenty of real locomotives and told in the first person of course. Can’t wait for the next book.  Murder at Deviation Junction was short-listed for the Ellis Peters Historical Crime Award in 2007.  “The snow falls on the Cleveland Hills; the mighty Ironopolis of Middlesbrough pumps out its strangely coloured gases, and in the midst of a feud with his immediate superior, Jim Stringer is sent north to investigate the disappearance of entire carriage-load of wealthy passengers on the Whitby-Middlesbrough line.. “

  •      (2003). The Necropolis Railway.
  •   (2005). The Blackpool Highflyer
  •   (2007). The Lost Luggage Porter.
  •   (2008). Murder at Deviation Junction.
  •   (2008). Death on a Branch Line.
  •   (2009). The Last Train to Scarborough
  •   (2011). The Somme Stations.

A Lover of Unreason: the life and tragic death of Assia Wevill by Yehuda Koren. The drama-filled life of the mistress of Ted Hughes. Some of it is well-written, but there are parts that (annoyingly) aren’t. It is an interesting saga, however, and I was interested the whole way through. If you are a Sylvia Plath / Ted Hughes fan, or a fan of the bohemian 1950s – 60s era in London, it is worth a read.

My Mom, Style Icon by Piper Weiss. A nice exploration of fashion through family generations.

The Small Hand by Susan Hill – a creepy ghost story! Daniel Radcliffe from Harry Potter has just starred in one of her earlier books the Woman In Black!

Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda – very entertaining, and what delighted me most was Alda’s unflagging enthusiasm for all that came his way. That’s a precious human quality.

Selected Stories by William Trevor – he writes beautifully about ordinary lives – which never are ordinary.

Four letter word: new love letters edited by Rosalind Porter – I picked this up at random when I needed to read something during tea break, and found it was a collection of fictitious love letters composed by well-known writers. I’m loving it, some of them are hysterical, some dark, all well written. The love letter is a rich genre, I imagine it will be with us forever.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.

The Freudian Slip by Marion von Adlerstein –  a witty novel set in Sydney in 1963. If you grew up in the 1960’s you’ll chuckle with the memories of Great Western champagne, princess line dresses, gloves, seamed stockings, Tanya Verstak, Beppis, and Cahills. This story tells of three women, Desi, a television producer, Bea, a copywriter and Stella, a secretary, all working in an advertising agency. A quick read.

Inheritance by Nicholas Shakespeare

The Soldier’s Wife by Joanna Trollope

Worse things happen at sea by William McInnes

The Erased By Grant Piercy – This was the first eBook I have read, I did it on the iPhone and didn’t mind the experience at all. A lot better than I expected. This book was also self published on Amazon by a friends husband and is a good dystopian story if you enjoy that kind of book.

Nothing Sacred: The Truth About Judaism by Douglas Rushkoff

A.D.D.: Adolescent Demo Division by Douglas Rushkoff (graphic novel)

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner

Angels Of Vengeance by John Birmingahm

 A Billion Wicked Thoughts by Sai Gaddam and Ogi Ogas

I have just started reading Sulari Gentill’s detective series, I enjoyed the historical settings of the first two books, A few right thinking men and A decline in prophets, and the chance to get more information about NSW in the 1930’s.

I also reread The grapes of wrath, a beautiful and terrible read – and unfortunately still very relevant in terms of monoculture farming, the small farmers/business people being pushed out by the bigger corporations, and the way we convince ourselves that “others” are different and therefore less worthwhile than “us” and can be treated badly.

And while the Phryne Fisher murders are on the tv I’ve been rereading the series and enjoying the greater depth and detail that doesn’t appear in the one hour tv version.

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