Best Read : The pearl that broke its shell by Nadia Hashimi
Crime : Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Australian Author : The wrong hand by Jane Jago
General : The evening chorus by Helen Humphreys
Saga/Romance : Florence Grace by Tracy Rees
As the weather turns chill, we turn to more indoorsy pursuits, and what better than some good reading? Here’s what your library staff have been reading this month.
- Tinder written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts (YA). This was wonderful, really well written and crafted. The story is based upon the Hans Christian Andersen fairy-tale ‘The Tinderbox’. I love that there are illustrations in this Young Adult book – I am a fan of David Roberts other illustrations (‘Tyrannosaurus Drip’ by Julia Donaldson (Picture Book)
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
- All I know by Mary Coustas – Despite her comedic output, Mary’s life has had its fair share of sadness and loss. This book is touching and depicts Mary’s strength in overcoming obstacles in life. There’s a little bit of Effie in there, too.
- Bonkers: My life in laughs by Jennifer Saunders – Very funny memoir from a very funny lady. The only negative aspect is that the title put the Dizzee Rascal song ‘Bonkers’ in my head for weeks. Very irritating.
- The Girl with All the Gifts by Mike Carey – A sci-fi, horror read: everything I normally wouldn’t touch but it came recommended at a State Library seminar so thought I would step out of my comfort zone and was rewarded. Gripping, imaginative (not too gory) and actually quite thoughtful. I enjoyed this the way you enjoy rich food, wouldn’t have it all that often but when you do…
- Zac and Mia by AJ Betts – A YA title. So so read, but I confess I did cry at one part even though I know I was manipulated.
- Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow – Short and sweet but nothing really special. This was nominated for a Booker and I have never read anything that has been nominated for such an award before. It sounded interesting, and it was I suppose, but I didn’t find myself really wanting to know what was going to happen until the last quarter or more.
- Asterix and the Picts by Didier Conrad – The new Asterix book by new authors. It was Asterix but it wasn’t. I can’t tell if it’s not as good because it isn’t as good or because I have too high expectations. Seemed too try hard at times.
- Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen – Great biography of a man whose new music I haven’t listened to since the late 90s. He is a hard living guy, makes me want to read Keith Richards autobiography to see how they compare. He tells a great anecdote about how he missed out on meeting his hero Keith because he was so high, tired and cranky he kicked the Rolling Stones out of his house not knowing who they were. He has done more drugs and been in more dodgy situations than all the members of Motley Crue combined. Well worth a read if you have ever been a fan of his music.
- Every Day Is an Atheist Holiday! by Penn Jillette
- Zombie Apocalypse! by Stephen Jones
- This is How You Die: Stories of the Inscrutable, Infallible, Inescapable Machine of Death
- The Wit & Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister by George R.R. Martin
- The Ukulele Handbook by Gavin Pretor-Pinney- a girl’s gotta have a hobby
- Perth and West Coast Australia by Lonely Planet- I can pretend that my holiday will be well organised if this book sits around the house for long enough
- The Walking Dead graphic novels by Robert Kirkman – Blood, guts and reanimated corpses brought to life in spectacular black and white
- John Donne: Collected Poetry by John Donne – Perhaps I was feeling some HSC nostalgia, but I decided to revisit some of Donne’s poetry. I can still recite large chunks of it from all those years ago. A bit of last minute cramming that actually stuck
- Darwin’s sacred cause: race, slavery and the quest for human origins by Adrian Desmond and James Moore, world authorities on Darwin. This book opened my mind up to how Charles Darwin’s abhorrence of slavery was a strong motivation behind his scientific endeavours. It is based on the authors’ analysis of Darwin’s extensive correspondence and other manuscripts. I found it fascinating, and very pleasing to find out the strength of his fellow feeling for all peoples and his belief in human racial unity
- Memoirs from the Corner country: the story of May Hunt by Harold Hunt. I am in the midst of this story, and enjoying its honesty and homely detail. It is great to get a personal story of an Aboriginal Australian from the NSW outback
- Inferno by Dan Brown – who doesn’t like a good escape novel with literature, philosophy, archaeology and art thrown in for good measure! Learnt a lot more about Dante’s Inferno than I knew previously…..and if you want to learn more about the quote that is constantly referred to thoughout the book, “the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who remain neutral”
- A Short History of Ukrainian Tractors by Marina Lewycka – Wonderful over-the-top characters in a tragic tale of looking for a better life http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Short_History_of_Tractors_in_Ukrainian
- Ride like hell and you’ll get there by Paul Carter. This was not an author I had come across before but he seems to be prolific and he tells a good yarn. Previous books include “Don’t tell mum I work on the rigs, she thinks I’m a piano player in a whorehouse”. So you already get his sense of humour. The best way to describe this book is via a tag cloud:
- For more information on Paul Carter, click here – he is an interesting character! If you have time, check out his public speaking – there is a funny story of owning a pet monkey when working on oil rigs in Asia
- The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
- Sydney Modern: Art for a new world by Deborah Edwards
- Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose – not just lovely for writers, but for those who love reading too
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- Currently reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
- How to speak dog : a guide to decoding dog language by Aline Newman – didn’t help, I still don’t know why my little dog has a ‘thing’ for the cushions on the couch.
- The elements of eloquence : how to turn the perfect English phrase by Mark Forsyth – Not your ordinary English grammar primer – dip in and out of this one and enjoy the humour.
- A killer in the Family by Amanda Howard – claims on the back to give ‘a disturbing, fascinating insight into the minds of murderers, and the families in which they were raised.” It does nothing of the sort. There is no evidence that Amanda Howard interviewed the families of the murderers she discusses (which include the Wests, Ivan Milat, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson). Some of these killers came from appalling family backgrounds themselves (Fred and Rose West were both from sexually abusive families for instance) but others, the Menendez brothers for example, were from stable, comfortable families and there is nothing to ‘blame’ for their crime. Each account was little more than a chronological retelling of the crime. It was not well written, it was tedious and contradictory at times: p197 (on the Menendez brothers) “Two months before the murders, Jose spoke to his brother-in-law about writing a new will, which would leave both boys out.” At the top of the next page, “The day of 20 August 1989 started out beautifully for the close knit family” (my italics).
- Restoration by Rose Tremain – a book group read, we all found it a bit dull
- A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness – a beautiful novel for Young Adults dealing with grief
- The Invisible Woman by Claire Tomalin now a film starring Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones – a very readable biography of Ellen Ternan for whom Dickens left his wife.
- Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir – Alison Weir is one of my favourite Tudor biographers.
- And just now I’m reading Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas for book group with great pleasure.
- I’ve just finished reading William MacInnes’ The birdwatcher which was a really nice read, gentle and everyday but dealt with some wider issues of difference, and relationships between people, family members, and people and the wild. Fun.
- Richard Flanagan’s The narrow road to the deep north is not such fun to read but a big and important story very well told. There were times when I found it dwelt a bit much on one particular relationship but by the end of the book I think that all the different aspects of the story fell in to place. The experiences of the prisoners of war did make for difficult reading.
- The signature of all things by Elizabeth Gilbert, was also a fairly big read with parts that frustrated me and I felt were not as interesting as other aspects of the story, but all together I enjoyed this story of an independent and intelligent woman at the turn of the 19th century.
- I very much enjoyed getting in to some of the nitty gritty of the early days of the colonisation of NSW with Susan Boyer’s Across great divides. It is not often a cheerful story but the attention to detail is a very interesting way to look at this period again.
- For light relief I reread The silver brumby by Elyne Mitchell. It was still a thrilling read but very interesting to reread it as a not horse-mad adult and pick up all the other background information and ideas floating around. In the back of the book there was a final short story of the series. It was so much like the story itself that I realised I hadn’t missed a lot by not reading the whole series when I was a young little bit horse-mad teenager!
Hunker down out of the cold with some of these for May.
Bernardine Evaristo : Mr Loverman
Rebecca Mead : The Road to Middlemarch : my life with George Eliot
Lisa Jewell : The Making of Us
Evie Wyld : All the Birds, Singing
The links will take you straight to the Library Catalogue so you can put a Hold on a copy right now!
The Undertaking by Audrey Magee
Found on the Adult Fiction shelves at MAGEE
Plot Summary : Desperate to escape the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met; it is a marriage of convenience that promises ‘honeymoon’ leave for him and a pension for her should he die on the front. With ten days’ leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin; both are surprised by the attraction that develops between them.
When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad. Back in Berlin, Katharina, goaded on by her desperate and delusional parents, ruthlessly works her way into the Nazi party hierarchy, wedding herself, her young husband and their unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina, ordinary people stained with their small share of an extraordinary guilt, find their simple dream of family increasingly hard to hold on to… (Source : Fantastic Fiction)
Review : This is Audrey Magee’s first book and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in this historical period combined with an unusual love story.
Reviewed by : Carolyn