What Library Staff are Reading – August 2012
The tin ticket : the heroic journey of Australia’s convict women by Deborah Swiss is a book I am currently enjoying, if that is the word to use. I knew that the early convicts had a hard time in the home country and then in Australia, but as I read in detail the conditions of life for convict women in the early 19thC I am quite overwhelmed. The author has researched the lives of a handful of women, some of them very young, and the likely conditions and constraints of their lives, and creatively filled in the gaps to make very readable accounts.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – I wanted to read this book for a while but was worried about whether it would live up to the hype – apparently there was a bidding war on even before the book had been finished. I really enjoyed the book; it conveyed very well the Calvinist lifestyle of the people of Iceland – very like Scottish Highland & Islanders – a very plain life where there are no expectations of anything better. Agnes doesn’t fit in – illegitimate to start with and then well-educated and ambitious? I was a little disappointed by the end; Hannah’s end came very quickly after all the slow build up and revelation. Is it ghoulish of me to have wanted to know more about the execution itself? Apparently all the adult males were made to watch, there is documentation of it, why not describe it?
The Son by Philipp Meyer – I’d heard Meyer interviewed on the radio so again, I wanted to read this book. Picked it up at a good price one Saturday morning in Penrith and took it home. Thought I’d have a bit of a read over lunch. Didn’t want to put it down. Spent most of Saturday reading and Sunday and by Monday evening only had a chapter or two to go. Fantastic! Set in Texas, The Son focuses on three generations of McCulloughs and ranges from the early 1800s to the present day. In alternating chapters, the novel tells the stories of Eli McCullough who is kidnapped by the Comanches in a raid on the family farm and adopted by the tribe, Peter who is guilt-ridden over an incident involving his Mexican neighbours and Jeanne Anne, Eli’s great-granddaughter who looks back on her life as a pioneering businesswoman, wife and mother. I especially enjoyed the chapters narrated by Eli and it made me want to read more about Comanche life and so I quickly devoured Empire of the Summer Moon by SC Gwynne.
Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers – a book group read that I would have given up on. I found it boring for the most part, only really getting into it once I could see the end in sight. However, a colleague “read it one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it, will definitely read more of her work. I think I did years ago. It’s all a bit predictable but a good read just the same. ”
Chainsaw Operator’s Manual – I’m learning to cut up wood.
Serena by Ron Rash – I only started this last night but I really enjoyed The Cove by the same author a couple of months ago.
A traveller in Rome by HV Morton 1957
My New ipad by Wally Wang – because I know I can’t do things that I should be able to do.
Android phones for Dummies by Dan Gookin – because in this case I am a dummy.
Year of wonders by Geraldine Brooks – I really enjoyed it even thought it was about such a sad time in history. It was told by a woman from a small rural village who’s people were dying of the plague, how it got to the village in the first place and then what the village decided to do to protect other towns and villages around it. It was really interesting to learn about people’s beliefs and attitudes to the plague.
Lincoln – DVD – It was quite a slow moving film set in the era of the American war between the North and the South , about President Lincoln’s push to outlaw slavery via a change to the constitution.(not an action film ). I really enjoyed it.
Dickens of London – DVD – I found it an interesting insight into some of Charles Dickens’ life – I would have liked it to touch on more of his life – it seemed to me to leave out big chunks of his life and left me with quite a few questions which I will have to read up about. Overall though, I enjoyed it.
The wild girl by Geraldine Brooks –Set in the time of the French Revolution, it is about the Wild family who live next door to the famous Grimm brothers, focusing in particular on one of the girls, Dortchen who fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm right from an early age, but whose father was a very strict and violent man, especially to Dortchen. I’ve not quite finished it yet. I am up to the part where the l father has just died. I do so hope things work out happily ever after for Dortchen Wild and Wilhelm Grimm.
Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke – I had been putting off reading his thirtieth, yes 30th novel until I could give it my undivided attention, it was worth every word!. As one critic says – I am a long-time fan of James Lee Burke and feel like his Louisiana anti-hero detective, Dave Robicheaux, is my personal friend. But even your mama’s tried and true favorite fried chicken recipe would get old if that’s all you ever ate. Luckily for us fans, we also have Sheriff Hackberry Holland to keep our Burke cravings at bay. James Lee Burke returns to the Texas border town of his bestseller Rain Gods, where a serial killer presumed dead is very much alive . . . and where sheriff Hackberry Holland, now a widower, fights for survival—his own, and of the citizens he’s sworn to protect. When alcoholic ex-boxer Danny Boy Lorca witnesses a man tortured to death in the desert, Hackberry’s investigation leads him to Anton Ling, a mysterious Chinese woman known for sheltering illegals. Ling denies any knowledge of the attack, but something in her aristocratic beauty seduces Hack into overlooking that she is as dangerous as the men she harbours. And when soulless Preacher Jack Collins re-emerges, the cold-blooded killer may prove invaluable to Hackberry. This time, he and the Preacher have a common enemy. See JLB interviewed on You Tube: http://youtu.be/Gc44svS0rRg
Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk -Had this one on the shelf for some time and finally grabbed it needing something for the train. I am a fan of the film which did not lessen the impact of the book. Obviously the ending was not a surprise because I had seen the film however the writing was very good and it felt fast paced and exciting. I will be reading some more of his stuff when I have time.
The man who mistook his wife for a hat by Oliver Sacks – Case studies of this doctors patients with rare and interesting neurological disorders. Very fascinating conditions that help explain how the brain works and create even more questions. I found it very easy to read and enjoyed his writing style.
Stalin’s Hammer: Rome by John Birmingham – The first in a series of novellas set after the Axis of Time trilogy. In the Axis of Time trilogy a naval fleet from 2020 was sent back in time accidently while testing a new weapon, they landed in the middle of WW2 and obviously changed the course of history. I really like the whole world building in this great alternate history series, for example the Russians have seen the collapse of communism and have taken a page out of Chinas book in an attempt at creating a viable communist society. Prince Harry is back and is one of the central characters in this story, SAS soldier from the future, I like how he is written.
Distrust that particular flavour by William Gibson
The illustrated story of copyright by Edward Samuels
The Ocean at the end of the lane by Neil Gaiman – This was fantastic! If you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, you’ll love it. The library doesn’t have a copy of this one yet, but it does have “The graveyard book” by Neil Gaiman which is sort of similar and equally wonderful.
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
The scarecrow and his servant by Philip Pullman
The House of Memories, by Monica McInerny – Aiden and Ella O’Hanlon are married, adore each other, and have a son they call Felix. Before Felix reaches his second birthday he is dead. The consequences for various members of the family are deep and far-reaching. Complications arise from the fact that Ella and her brother have a half-sister, Jess, of whom they are jealous, so loved and wanted is she. This is a ripping yarn, one which I threw everything else aside to get to the end of – but I wish McInerny had edited herself a bit more. I could hear the grind of the plotting wheels, could often see where the writer was taking things and wished she’d practiced a little less manipulation, a little more economy.
A Mile of River, by Judith Allnatt – Jess (another one) lives on an English farm with her young brother Tom and dominating father. Her mother cleared out years ago. Jess longs to do the things other teenagers do, but is stymied by her father. I have only read 50-odd pages but enjoy the style of this debut novel and, my interest piqued further by reading some reviews online, will definitely continue with it.
Somewhere Towards the End, by Diana Athill – I love to witness writers coming at the subject of old age and death with wisdom and the strength to portray themselves and their views without sentimentality, without the need to polish the duco on their own character so that it looks better. This memoir/reflection of Diana Athill’s is refreshing in this respect. Not all of her chapters are riveting, but there’s enough here to make one think afresh about these interesting subjects.
Too busy to even get through one adult novel! Must be ‘cause I’m playing with the IPad! – The One hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. Translated from the Swedish by Rod Bradbury. This is a funny novel about Allan Karlsson who escapes from his room in the Old Folks’ Home in the town of Malmkoping. He was waiting for his one hundredth birthday party but he didn’t want to attend it so he decided to escape, still in his slippers, through his bedroom window. Haven’t finished it yet!
Sophie Scott goes south by Alison Lester – This is shortlisted for Picture Book of the Year ,The Children’s Book Council of Australia Awards, 2013. This is a wonderful, informative book of Alison Lester’s travels to the Antarctica, seen through Sophie Scott’s adventure. Children of all ages should try this.
Live Nude Elf by Rev Jen – the queen of the New York Art Star scene bares all (yes, literally). Autobiographical musings about the last several years of her life as an artist, writer and elf.
Sensitive Creatures by Mandy Ord – an amazing graphic novel set in Melbourne, with beautiful drawings and soulful content. My Artread for July!