December 31, 2013

Book Review - The Dunbar Case by Peter Corris

Another Cliff Hardy installment. This is a classic of the hard bitten private detective genre. Cliff is on the hunt for some historic information from a convicted criminal. He gets involved in current murder and mayhem, reconnects with an old flame and annoys local gangsters. Taut writing and believable plotting, Cliff has still got it. Wendy

December 29, 2013

Book Review - Return to Priorsford by Evelyn Hood

This is a gentle village drama with a varied cast of characters. I am new to this series but you can catch up fairly quickly. We follow two pairs of lovers and some assorted other families through some twists and turns in a quintessential English village. There are the impoverished gentry, the struggling famer, the local store keepers and publicans in the mix. It's undemanding yet quietly satisfying. Wendy

December 28, 2013

Book Review - The Caspian Gates by Harry Sidebottom

The next installment of The Warrior of Rome story is packed full of battles, adventure and travel as Ballista and his familia experience an earthquake in Ephesus and then head for the Caucausus Mountains to rebuild the Caspian Gates, a barrier to hold the mountain passes against the marauding Alani barbarians. The author teaches classical history at Oxford University and is well versed in the period detail. More importantly, he tells a rollicking good yarn. His warriors are men who fight and kill and face death. They live with honour according to their various gods and customs. Ballista is a northerner of Germanic origin, taken as a hostage as a boy and now a veteran soldier of Rome, whose fate is unfortunately as often decided by the labyrinthine politics of the region as by his skill in fighting battles. The complicated Roman social and political structure is explained enough to let you concentrate on the fighting, the drinking and the sex, with the odd bit of philosophy thrown in. The meditations on being exiled are pertinent and thought provoking. A complete escape from the modern world and well worth a visit. Wendy

December 27, 2013

Book Review - Beseiged: siege Warfare in the Ancient world by Duncan B. Campbell

This informative volume charts the development of strategies and equipment used in besieging towns and cities in the classical worlds of Greece and Rome. Ancient texts, archaeological finds and modern re-constructions of war engines are used to explain when and how they were used. Famous generals such as Hannibal, Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great feature, with descriptions of their successful and unsuccessful attempts to subdue fortified towns. It was quite important for towns to defend themselves, because if they fell, the men were generally killed and the women and children enslaved by the victors. Filled with illustrations and extensively annotated. Wendy

December 25, 2013

Book Review - The Teleportation Accident.

This book starts out in 1930s Berlin in the louche world of theatre and art. The protagonist, Egon Loeser, is desperately in love with a girl, Adele, who seems to love every body but him. His story takes many twists and turns in this dark, funny, quirky novel. There are many characters in his book, all practicing deceptions, seeking love, studying physics, avoiding blackmail, seeking advancement, getting married and working for governments of all persuasions. Read it – you'll either love it like I did, or you'll give up very quickly. If you stay, you will be rewarded. Wendy

December 23, 2013

Book Review - The Scriverner's Tale by Fiona McIntosh

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Fiona McIntosh's series and this one picks up the story of one of them, several generations later in time, but adding a travel to different worlds segment incorporating modern day Paris. I don't really think this one works for me. I found the exposition rather long and as it was some time ago that I read the previous series, it took a while to work out where some of the characters had their genesis. That said, the explanations to explain the back story did seem to obtrude once I found my bearings. Eventually, you do get to where the current characters'stories take off and that is quite satisfying. However, I would recommend this for interest's sake to the fans and recommend new readers to start with 'Myrren's Gift', volume 1 of 'The Quickening' series or her other series which are excellent. Wendy

December 22, 2013

Book Review - The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood

Love and loss changes a person and the way your life unfolds cannot always be predicted. Mary Baxter is dealing with a great grief. Though reluctant, she joins a knitting circle and finds that this helps her move on through the stages of her healing journey. The book has a simple premise, that people dealing with grief and loss can find a way forward through starting a simple physical process of learning to knit. The process engages the hands and distracts the brain so they can do it at a level they can manage. The more complicated stitches and patterns can be introduced gradually to match their developing functional capability. The act of creating even a simple scarf, out of a repetitive and almost meditative process is quite therapeutic. It also connects them with other people on a very unthreatening level and helps to break down the isolation of their grieving. Even getting help to unravel a tangle or rescue a dropped stitch is practice interacting with and receiving help from other people. As they start to develop knitting skills, they, in turn can 'pay it forward' and help start others on their journey. As Mary gets to know each of the other knitters, and their stories, she finds how to love and live again. This is a quiet novel of loss and grief and it made me cry. It's also a novel of healing, sharing, friendship and love. I'm glad I read it and I'm glad I have found friends who taught me how to knit. Wendy

December 21, 2013

Book Review - Keep Your Mouth Shut and Wear Beige by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

Don't you just love it because of the title? It doesn't disappoint. This is a dissection of a modern family by a penetrating but compassionate hand. The advice in the title is for a mother-in-law to be. The heroine finds that her main rival is not her future in-laws but her ex-husband's new wife. By turns funny, touching and dramatic, this is a lovely read. You may then wish to read her earlier novel 'Summer's End', another heartfelt story about blended families and what is really important about family traditions. Wendy

December 20, 2013

Book Review - Deity by Steven Dunne

This one sat at the bottom of my reading pile for a while, but what a treat when I finally got to it. Another debut novel. It is an intricately plotted combination of two investigations; one into an unidentified corpse in the river who unaccountably is missing some internal organs; and another into several missing students. The usual suspects are included, the young intelligent female, the maverick brilliant loner with poor interpersonal skills, the supervisor with an eye on the budget and the political realities. The writing is fresh however, and this is another new author to add to my list of ones to look out for. Recommended. Wendy

December 18, 2013

Book Review - Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell

Inspector Wexford is getting on and feels the creaks and strains of advancing age which suits me just fine as I do too!. I hope this doesn't put off younger and more active readers because Ruth Rendell is still on top of her game as the unidentified body count rises. Strong police procedural although she does rather telegraph some of the answers. Wendy

Book Review - The Cleaner of Chartres by Sally Vickers

The cleaner has a troubled background but has the capacity to see what is real and hold up a mirror to others allegedly more fortunate. A moving and lovely portrait on the lives she touches. Wendy

December 17, 2013

Book Review - Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin

It's Rankin and it's Rebus and he is right back into solving crime whilst upsetting as many of the rule followers as possible. What more do you need? He may have been retired to cold cases but that doesn't stop Rebus from taking over a current investigation, running too close to his informers for Complaints section's liking and further complicating Siobhan Clarke's life. Why do strawberry-coloured trousers have a fascination for the Edinburgh man? (cf Alexander McCall Smith) Wendy

December 16, 2013

Book Review - Eye Contact by Fergus McNeill

This is the first novel from an experienced computer game developer and it is therefore no coincidence that his protagonist has set up a complicated game of murder with its own internal rules, rewards and penalties. A series of seemingly random deaths are connected across police districts as painstakingly detailed work by dedicated investigators does eventually bring rewards. It took me a little while to warm to this one but it was worth it. Another new author to look out for! Wendy

December 15, 2013

Book Review - Gallows View by Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson is one of my favourite British mystery writers with his excellent Inspector Banks series. This story takes us back to when Banks first comes to Eastvale and he has a job to solve crimes and win over the locals. A non-London based police procedural at its British best. I also like Banks' taste in music. Wendy

December 13, 2013

Book Review - Sleep No More by Iris Johansen

Another Eve Duncan story. The author spins a good tale if you can suspend disbelief as to the latest freakishly talented person who helps their investigation and the rather implausible previously unknown sibling. I think that the Bonnie stories stretched on for too long and am rather glad that Bonnie's role in this story is much reduced. You can read this as a stand-alone or you can check back through the earlier stories which are held by the library. Wendy

December 12, 2013

Book Review - A Week in Winter by Meave Binchy

Maeve Binchy liked people and loved to tell stories that show everday happenings, doubts, decisions and love stories. Attachments to places and people are complex and here, she uses the device of a Bed and Breakfast being brought back to life to entwine several stories about people at crossroads in their lives. A charming and gentle read masterfully created to flow effortlessly and reveal truths about very human people. Vale Maeve Binchy. Wendy

December 10, 2013

Book Review - A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller

Another atmospheric mystery set in the back blocks of the USA. This time it’s the Appalachian Mountains. A beautiful but deadly setting. A scattered small town society where the mines have closed down, there are few jobs and the quickest way to easy money is to feed the habits of intergenerational drug users. The county's Prosecuting Attorney grew up here and has come back to make a difference but questions her decision as a murder investigation involves her family. The author does such a good job of depicting the unrelenting misery of most of the town's inhabitants, that this obscures a fine development of cause and effect. Wendy

December 08, 2013

Book Review - 1356 by Bernard Cornwell

The English and the French are engaged in the Hundred Years War and the English are using their deadly weapon – the long bow- to good advantage. Cornwell hits the mark with another of his muscular historical novels. Mixing in a little religious mystique with full blown battles where you can almost smell the sweat and the blood, this one has an intriguing story amongst the grunt. You can feel the years of training and the strength it takes to wield the long bow. Training that must begin in youth and continue as adult stature is reached. Looking after your bow was one thing but a successful army also needs strategy, as well as supplies of arrows and food and all the logistical supports. The story races along, buoyed by meticulous attention to detail and crafted by a master storyteller. Wendy

December 07, 2013

Book Review - The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

Another thought provoking, layered mystery featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. His life experience has led him to develop a great understanding of and compassion for human frailty. This time, he and his offsider, Inspector Beauvoir, are still recovering from a difficult police operation where fellow officers were killed, when they are unexpectedly placed into an isolated monastery to investigate the murder of one of the monks. The monastery is famous for Gregorian chants and although a small house of 24 monks, they have been a destination of choice for monks with a passion for divine music and an ability to harmonise. Someone has broken this harmony and murdered the choir director. Gamache is used to reading people and is disconcerted by the ease with which the monks read him. Living as they do under the rule of silence, they have become expert at shielding and reading unspoken emotion. The investigation proceeds slowly but is accelerated by the arrival of a Dominican monk from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith at Vatican (otherwise and previously known as the Inquisition); and Gamache's superior officer, a man he neither likes or trusts. Unless they can uncover the divisions that culminated in this brutal death, they will not solve the mystery. Beauvoir struggles with the isolation, finding it hard to empathise with the monks' vocation and choices. Gamache finds solace in the divine music but he will need all his formidable skill to solve this one. Classic murder mysteries provide a closed community and a reason for the outside world to be at a distance until the murder is solved; this setting in a remote Canadian wilderness provides all the classic elements in a modern and thoroughly entrancing read. Highly recommended. Wendy

December 05, 2013

Book Review - Inside by Alix Owen

Three stories are intertwined in this novel by a Canadian author. Grace, a psychiatrist, who has a suicidal boyfriend and a particularly troubled teen patient. Mitch who tries to help a desperate Inuit boy, and Anne, an actress trying to make it in New York. Eventually events unfold so we know how these three connect . This sounds depressing and it is not a depressing novel but it also doesn't have a particularly happy ending. The characters do arrive at a greater understanding of themselves in the world, however, and it was a strangely satisfying read. It was also interesting to discover snippets of how daily life is affected by snow which is not something I have ever lived with. Wendy

Book Review - Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

This is a first fiction book by an historian who clearly feels very familiar with the British Royals. An imagined and unexpected journey by the Queen who is aided by a disparate company of household staff and hangers on, takes her to Edinburgh to see the decommissioned yacht 'Britannia'. Initially rather mired in its own capacity to explain why so many of the Royal staff are homosexual, it develops into a pleasant story where several of the characters come to a better understanding of themselves and each other. Not for everyone, it would help to be a monarchist and an Anglophile, I found it gently drawing me in to the rather predictable conclusion. It's a diversion, not a main meal Wendy

December 04, 2013

Book Review - There and Back Again: J.R.R. Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit by Mark Atherton

One for the Tolkien enthusiasts. The influences that formed the Hobbit came from many areas of Tolkien's life and interests. History, language, literary sources and geography are discussed in this readable exploration of the many facets of The Hobbit. What, for example, were the previous iterations of dragons and their attachment to hoards of gold? Where did the riddle games that Gollum and Bilbo play originate? A treasure trove to dip in and out of. But the best advice is probably to go back and read The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings one more time! Wendy

The "Who, What, When and How" of Australian Reading

An interesting new survey on Australian reading habits has been published recently. A Changing Story: Trends in Reading Amongst Australians found that the most well-known Australian authors were: - Bryce Courtney - Tim Winton - Matthew Reilly - Colleen McCullogh - John Marsden - Di Morrissey The most identified international authors were: - J.K. Rowling - Stephen King - James Patterson - Jodi Picoult - Dan Brown For the full report, click here.

December 03, 2013

Book Review - The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling

You have probably heard about this one by now. I enjoyed it thoroughly. It deals with the effect on a town, of the death of a small town's councilor thus creating a casual vacancy on the council. His death affects many in the town. From those who are jockeying for his council position to others who only now realize that their relationship was in some way buffered by his presence. I heard a review which said that the dead man was the only nice man in the town and I can see why that is the impression but the writing is more nuanced than that. It doesn't shy away from problems of the disconnected and the poor, viz drugs, abuse, bullying and teenage sex but I found the characterizations compelling and the situations realistic. Wendy

December 02, 2013

Book Review - The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

An assured and intriguingly different novel from the queen of mysteries, this is a standalone, not part of her successful mystery series. A child is abducted at an American airport while his guardian, Stephanie Harker, is going through security procedures. Who knew they would be where they were and who had a motive? Stephanie tells her story to the FBI and investigations begin on both sides of the Atlantic. Just when you think there is an answer, there's another twist in the tale and the story goes on. A truly surprising ending and a page-turning read. Wendy

December 01, 2013

Book Review - The Trouble with Keeping Mum by Rosie Wallace

A light hearted entertaining novel which yet touches on serious subjects. Annie Cochrane is a Member of the Scottish Parliament, a government minister and the divorced mother of a teenager. Through the course of several months, she delivers on a major new government initiative, manages to have her first affair of the heart for many years, deals with her mother's failing health and tries to stay connected meaningfully with her son. The machinations of some of her colleagues and some personal dramas mean some major re-arrangements in her life. A humorous take on a working mother trying to hold it all together. Wendy

November 30, 2013

Book Review - Part of the Spell by Rachel Heath

"A small quiet town sits in a slight valley, encircled by barely-hills and surrounded by the ancient fields and trees of Essex." The novel opens with a description of the town which is as much a player as any of its inhabitants. Why are the people here? Are they happy to stay where they have always lived or have they arrived on the run from somewhere else? "News of Sheila Buttle's disappearance spread across the town, carried by a distinct but indolent autumnal breeze. Along the pavements, across the rooftops, weaving amongst the queue at the butcher's or between two neighbours on a street corner. It spread aimlessly, without purpose, or force, without a headwind. Nothing like a forest fire, without heat or urgency. Stealing through an open bedroom window, whispering around the ankles of parents at the school gates, wafting into the café in the market square, cooling cups of tea…When people heard the news they wondered what it might mean, turned over in their minds how such a thing could happen. They warded off the darker ideas but the urge to speculate and to gossip lingered." I enjoyed this book very much, loving particularly how the people relate to their town and the gorgeous descriptive passages. Wendy

November 28, 2013

Book Review - Watching the Dark by Peter Robinson

Robinson's new Inspector Banks novel lives up to my high expectations for one of my favourite mystery writers. A policeman is killed by a crossbow in the grounds of a rehab centre. A Professional Standards Inspector is brought in because there are rumours of police corruption. A missing girl whose case has remained unsolved for 6 years. The clues to the mystery may lie in the city of Tallinn in Estonia where the girl disappeared, or they may be solved by solid police work back in England. Annie Cabbot is back at work after being badly injured and once again is seeking to prove herself. A marvelous background of classical and jazz music underscores the intricate plotting as all the tangles are unraveled and answers are revealed. Wendy

November 15, 2013

DVD Review - Happy body – Fabulous 40s and 50s with TV Physio Anna- Louise Bouvier

Happy body – Fabulous 40s and 50s with TV Physio Anna- Louise Bouvier This DVD is a general intro to how your body changes and what you can easily do to maximize your strength and fitness whatever level you are currently at as you encounter the effects of gravity as you age. The short chapters are a bit annoying but the walking workout is achievable and easily modified to all fitness levels. Also held is one targeting the 60s and 70s. Wendy

The Most Popular Books of All Time

Here's a great graphic from Love Reading UK that shows the print-runs and copies-sold of the Most Popular Books of All Time.

 Is one of your favourites on this list?

 For a full-size copy of the image, click here.

November 13, 2013

Book Review - Trust your eyes by Linwood Barclay

This is a terrific read and a refreshingly new take on a detective story. Ray Kilbride has returned home to sort out his father's estate and try to arrange appropriate residential care for his schizophrenic brother, Thomas, who has a fixation with memorizing the street layouts of all major cities. Thomas thinks he is working for Bill Clinton and the CIA, preparing for the time when the world will be totally dependent on his memory for street maps. Thomas comes across a picture of a woman being strangled on a New York street and Ray sets off to find out what happened so he can placate his brother and get him to move forward with resolving his father's legacy. Also in this intensely layered but very readable story are a scheming political fixer, a failed gymnast whose second career is as an assassin for hire, and a family secret that has tormented Thomas's life since he was 13. Thomas is both more and less able then Ray gives him credit for and the brothers face danger together in the thrilling climax to this very different mystery. Wendy

November 11, 2013

Book Review - The Death Sculptor by Chris Carter

Another fine mystery featuring genius detective Robert Hunter and his partner Carlos Garcia as they hunt a killer who is organized, ruthless and without pity. The victims are tortured and then their bodies are arranged into grotesque sculptures. But just what is the killer trying to tell them and will they figure it out before there are more victims? Not for the faint-hearted. Wendy

November 09, 2013

Book Review - Gone Missing by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder grew up Amish but is now the Chief of Police in a small town close by to Amish communities. This gives her an edge when dealing with several cases of missing Amish teenagers. Kate is reminded of her own troubled past as she joins with her new some time lover, Agent John Tomasetti, to try and solve the case. Kate has had previous adventures in fiction but this reads well as a stand-alone. The extraordinary detail of the Amish way of life adds an intriguing clash of cultures to this excellent mystery.

October 17, 2013

Review - Life, Death and Vanilla Slices by Jenny Éclair

Jean is hit by a car on her way back from the shop with a box of vanilla slices. She always buys them when she wants to celebrate but what is the event that she is celebrating? Her grown-up daughter Anne, comes back home to care for her and they both have time and space away from their daily routines to reflect on their shared history and how their family was formed. Anne was her father's favourite, her sister Jess was her mother's. But when Dad died it got a bit lopsided, Mum, and I know it must have been hard for you because I think you did love me, it was just you liked Jess more. I'm glad I don't have a favourite with my boys, though to be honest, I don't like either of them much at the moment. The reason your parents make decisions may be based on things you knew nothing about; and children have inner lives that their parents cannot fathom. Jenny Éclair is one of my favourite Grumpy Old Women and a noted stand up comedian and this is her third novel. Some of the words from the reviews on the cover include unflinching, brilliantly sharp, black humour, brave, angry, melancholy, rich and honest. I agree with all of them. It made me think differently about being both a daughter and a mother. Wendy

October 16, 2013

Review - The Venetian Contract by Marina Fiorato

Feyra is a Turkish Muslim young woman from Constantinople, who has trained as a doctor but is on the run to Venice after the Sultan dies and his son inherits power. Their ship brings plague to Venice and Feyra takes refuge in the house of Palladio, the great architect, who has been contracted by the Doge to build a great church so that God will help Venice in her time of trouble. She is able to share the secrets of the great Islamic buildings in Constantinople with Palladio, which inform his designs. She then forms a professional working relationship with a Venetian doctor who has set up a hospital on an island where he can try new methods of combating the plague. This is an interesting time in medicine and the passages with Feyra and the doctor are the strongest. The author states that she wanted write a story about Palladio, but I think she has been taken over by her young heroine and the medical story. Although the different parts of the story do not really hang together well, you get an excellent feel for Venice in the late 1500s and a charming romance. Wendy

October 15, 2013

Review - Norwegian by night by Derek B. Miller

I was at first quite annoyed by Sheldon, the 82 year old slightly demented hero of this book but he surely grows on you. Sheldon has come to Norway to live with his grand daughter after his wife died. He has only been here a couple of weeks when there is a murder in their apartment and he goes on the run with a small boy because he isn't sure who may try to hurt him. We learn of Sheldon's war history and how he lost his son in the Vietnam war. He had wanted to fight for America because although European countries were based on tribes, America was based on an idea – an idea for all who came to the country to share regardless of their origin. The strands of family and belonging that cloud his remembrance as he navigates an unfamiliar land are built into an absorbing tale of love and loss. He is hunted by the police and by the killers but the journey also gives him a new view of his adopted country and its beauty of land and of people. There is a dramatic conclusion when all the strands come together. By the end, Sheldon has become exactly the romantic warrior hero he always pretended he wasn't albeit with arthritis and much reduced eye sight. It's worth persevering until he gets you under his spell. Wendy

October 13, 2013

Review - The Single Girl's To-Do List by Lindsey Kelk

This is a fluffy romp through modern romance. Rachel has been in a relationship with Simon that is comfortable and that she doesn't question. When he wants a break from their relationship, at first she is devastated but with the help of her two best friends, she makes a list of actions to enable her to take charge of her life. The ensuing adventures help all three of them understand just who is Mr Right for each of them. If you wanted to revitalize your own life, what would be on your list? Light entertainment for an idle afternoon Wendy

October 12, 2013

Review - The Black House by Peter May

Inspector Fin McLeod is returning home to assist with a murder inquiry to the Isle of Lewis off northern Scotland, a land of harsh beauty. He hasn't been back for many years. It was a brooding landscape that in a moment of sunlight could be unexpectedly transformed. Fin knew the road well, in all seasons, and had never ceased to marvel at how the interminable acres of featureless peatbog could transform by the month, the day, or even the minute. The dead straw colour of winter, the carpets of tiny white spring flowers, the dazzling purples of summer. To their right, the sky had blackened, and rain was falling somewhere in the hinterland. To their left, the sky was almost clear, the summer sunlight falling across the land, and they could see in the distance the pale outline of the mountains of Harris. Fin had forgotten how big the sky was here. When Fin grew up, the swings were chained up on a Sunday. The community was close-knit, united in a harsh and dour faith. Fin has escaped but never really left. The current investigation brings him back to where it all began. I particularly liked the way in which Fin comes to revise his thinking about his best friend and the school bully who made their lives miserable. An evocative probing of human failings and the long term effects of choices you make along the way. Wendy

October 10, 2013

Review - A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir

I first read Alison Weir many years ago when I read her elegantly wonderful biography of Eleanor of Acquitaine. Her scholarship in English history is well respected and forms a firm foundation for her story telling skills. This is her fourth historical novel and it is the story of two girls who were close to the English throne, Kate Plantagenet, base born daughter of Richard III, in the 1480s and Lady Katherine Grey, cousin to Elizabeth I and sister of the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, who was briefly put on the throne by Protestant sympathizers in the 1550s, prior to Mary I's ascension to the throne. At first I was a little confused as to who was who as the narrative shifts between the two girls and I needed to keep referring to the extensive family trees given at the front of the book. But fairly quickly, the two stories took shape, each Kate's voice became distinctive and the feeling of being right beside them developed. Period detail is excellent (especially the sumptuous clothes and the streetscenes) and her re-take on the mystery of the Princes in the tower, which exerts fascination to both Kates, is excellently imagined and described. Both girls love deeply but their fates are determined by their family connections and their dangerous closeness to the throne. Thoroughly recommended. Wendy

October 08, 2013

Review - Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham has a very good series featuring Inspector tom Thorne, but this is a stand alone which follows 3 English couples who meet on holiday in Florida. Shortly before they all fly home, a girl goes missing. She isn't found until weeks later and by then they have begun a series of dinners at each of the couples' homes. An inexperienced trainee detective constable is tasked with follow up interviews with the holiday makers and she notes some inconsistencies in their accounts. Then a girl goes missing in England and suddenly a Trans-Atlantic investigation is underway. Billingham does a good job of revealing the personalities and the stresses affecting them. More than one person has opportunity but who has the motive. It culminates in a shocking discovery and a death. A very well constructed thriller and a page turner. I didn't guess it although I was on the right track. Wendy

October 06, 2013

Review - The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson

This is a short but difficult book to come to grips with. Set in the 1600s in the height of the witch mania which has blighted our western history, Winterson evokes the hard conditions afflicting the poor and dispossessed. Scratching a living on the margins of society and with no-one to speak for them, the characters in this novel who find themselves locked up and awaiting trial for witchcraft live through dreadful travails. By the end of it though, I didn't find any character I could care about. Just about everyone was rather wretched. It feels historically accurate largely due to her sure usage of local dialect and sure hand with the living conditions but I'm not really sure why Winterson has told the story? What do you think? Wendy

October 05, 2013

Review - The Truth by Michael Palin

Palin's second novel is the story of an ageing writer who yearns for success and he is planning his great novel when he is offered the biography of one of the world's heroes, a humanitarian and environmental activist, Hamish Melville. This is a thoughtful and layered look at fame and how it is used and abused. If you seek after truth, whose truth are you seeking? Keith's adventures in following his subject eventually lead him to understand himself. I enjoyed this book. Wendy

October 04, 2013

Review - Taboo by Casey Hill

Reilly Steel, which has to be one of the most deliciously imagined names for a detective heroine, is a forensic expert who has been trained by the FBI but finds herself living in Dublin, where she has moved in order to be closer to her father. There is a frisson of cross cultural conflict as she adjusts to the Irish way. Contrary to expectation, Dublin provides a series of murders which she solves with the help of Detective Chris Delaney. A nice amount of revealing depth about the detectives and an intricately plotted whodunit. It feels a little light but mysteries come in all shapes and sizes. Wendy

October 02, 2013

Review -Scream by Nigel McCrery

DCI Mark Lapslie has an intriguing neurological condition – synaesthesia – which means he experiences a taste sensation when he hears sounds. The tastes are not at all related to the sound and may be pleasant or nasty. The story involves his condition in an intricate plot where a tape of a woman screaming is the only clue that the police have to go on. Why does she scream 27 times before she dies and who else has gone missing? This is a well written, competent police procedural but be warned there are very gruesome murders. Wendy

Review - Sunshine on Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

The Number 1 Detective Agency series by this author is rightly acclaimed but I think I prefer the Scotland Street series with its gentle musing on modern manners and the perennial problems of human nature. The gentle skewering of middle class pretensions continues as does the warm understanding of people's individual worries and concerns. McCall Smith is witty and engaging as Bertie and his neighbours and friends have another series of adventures. Pure bliss. Wendy

September 25, 2013

Review - Dark Secrets by Hjorth and Rosenfeldt

This duo of Swedish writers are experienced screen writers and that show in their mastery of character and plot twists in this terrific mystery. A stunning collection of flawed, clever and not-so-clever detectives investigate the disappearance and murder of a teenage boy. Sebastian Bergman, has come to town to sort out his family estate. He is a criminal psychologist and has his own reasons for infiltrating the investigation but finds that it takes him back to his own teenage years at the same high school. Sebastian is very clever, easily bored, and just a bit out of control in his personal life. He can be an embarrassing addition to an interview with witnesses and suspects but his insights help the team. Rumours spread quickly through the small town when first the school bully and then the principal are taken in for questioning. Loved It! Wendy

September 22, 2013

Review - I Should Be So Lucky by Judy Astley

Competent by the numbers chicklit with a young widow, celebrity stalkers, a handsome guerrilla gardener and a family inheritance mystery. Greg meets Viola who is determined to stay unattached since the death of her philandering second husband and the discovery that her first husband is gay. An interesting secondary story follows Viola's mother caring for one of her friends as she declines into old age. Light and escapist. A pleasant diversion. Wendy

September 17, 2013

Review - Potboiler by Jesse Kellerman

FicJesse Kellerman expands his soaring range with this hard to classify book which starts with the musings of a failed writer/creative writing teacher wondering if he can afford to go to the funeral of his erstwhile friend from college, a hugely successful thriller writer. I don't think I can tell you much more without revealing the surprising twists and turns in this weirdly satisfying read. Kellerman continues to exceed his early promise. Each of his novels has been unique, each explores characters with depth and interest and he has the gift to bringing to life people with age and life experience different to his own. This even contains a generous slice of post-modern existentialism. Watch out for this man and read everything he publishes. I know I will be. Wendy

September 11, 2013

Books that changed the world

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Did you check out last night's Jennifer Byrne Presents: Books That Changed the World, Volume II, shown on ABC 1?  

Filmed at the Perth Writers festival, a wide and varied list of books was chosen by panelists. Books included Darwin's "On the Origin of Species", "The Odyssey" by Homer and "The Quran", and even the "The Hunger Games"

It was an interesting discussion on the power of the written word, and what makes a book a world changer.

You can catch up on the discussion on the First Tuesday Book Club website

What would you pick as your book that changed the world?

What about a book that changed your life?

August 22, 2013

Lego Libraries!

Two of our favourite things have finally been brought together.

Mr Library Dude has created some fantastic library scenes using LEGO!

To see more of these fantastic lego library images, visit the Library Dude blog.

July 11, 2013

The Psychology of Book Abandonment

Psychology of Abandonment -
Goodreads has just published a fantastic pictorial graph of the Top Five Most Abandoned Books ... and a few reasons why they were abandoned by readers. For the full list, head to the Goodreads website.

Do you feel guilty for abandoning a book? Or do you think life's too short to be reading something that you're just not enjoying? 


April 11, 2013

Book Review - The Origins of Sex : a history of the first sexual revolution by Faramerz Dabhoiwala

Don't get too excited by the title, this is a scholarly work looking at how attitudes to sex have changed from medieval times to the present focusing particularly on English legal and social history. Did you know that at one time poor couples were prevented from marrying as it was feared their children would be a drain on the parish. How did a woman's popular image change from sexual predator to vulnerable victim? Why was there a mania for reforming prostitutes in Victorian times? I particularly liked the chapter on how the rise of cheap printing revolutionized public opinion forming and was saddened by the reminders of how class and money have affected how people behave through the centuries.


April 09, 2013

Book Review - Scandalands by Kyle Sandilands

I decided to read Kyle Sandilands biography 'Scandalands' because, to be honest, I really didn't like him and I thought this would give me a better understanding of his character and the way he thinks.I tried to read his book with an open mind, after all he continually has one of the highest rating radio segments in Sydney,so there must be something endearing about him, right?

I'll start with the positives. The book is well written and incredibly honest, it really was hard to put down.
To say he had a difficult childhood would be an understatement, having lived on the streets for over a year gave Kyle a real heart for the underdog.

I found it interesting that Kyle desperately wanted to be a policeman in his teenage years and I laughed reading about his escapades pretending to be an undercover policeman, keeping the streets of Brisbane safe from troublemakers..........until he got caught.

Kyle had even stronger ambitions to work in radio. If nothing else, Kyle is proof that if you want to achieve something with all your heart it can be done. The only obstacle was himself. ok, enough of the niceties.

I spent most of the book picking my jaw up off the floor. I learnt a number of things, if you negotiate hard enough and never back down you will get anything you want. However there seems to be a fine line between Kyle pushing himself to achieve his goals or becoming a down right bully. It appears Kyle had insulted, yelled, sworn at and belittled almost everyone in the radio world. Funnily enough, a lot of the time he got his way.

It's very difficult not to judge Kyle negatively and he certainly isn't scared of telling the warts and all truth. Chapter eleven was certainly an eye opener. As he said in his own words, I hope Nan doesn't read chapter eleven, I wish I hadn't read chapter eleven!

What conclusion did I come to at the end of the book? I'm sure Kyle has lost a lot of friends on his way to the top and I doubt he will ever obtain the respect the audiences have shown to John Laws and Alan Jones, however, I'm glad I read Kyle's biography but sadly, my opinion hasn't changed.


April 07, 2013

Book Review - The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Nora Roberts has romance writing on a string and she is in typically fine form here. A handsome trio of builder brothers are renovating an old historic and haunted hotel. Clare runs the local bookstore and has a young family. She was widowed when her childhood sweetheart was killed in Iraq. But one of the brothers has loved her from afar since school. They get together with the usual stops and starts, helped by a rambunctious cast of home town characters. The hotel ghost even gets in on the action. Its not rocket science but it's very readable and a pleasant diversion.

April 03, 2013

Book Review - Daughters by Elizabeth Buchan

Lara has 2 step-daughters and a daughter from her marriage to Bill who is now getting married to Sarah. Eve, the younger step-daughter, is also getting married. During the course of the wedding preparations, Bill and Sarah inherit a huge old house, Bill and Lara finally address the loss of their stillborn son and all three daughters learn a few things about how they want to live their lives. Very different approaches to marriage and family exist within this one blended family. Resolving where each person 'fits', is an engrossing read.

March 31, 2013

Book Review - How it all began by Penelope Lively

One old lady has a fall and her daughter cannot go to work as she has to look after her. From this one event, routines are broken, marriages fail, careers are changed and friendships are formed. Sit in for a comfortable ride as scenes from 'real' life unfold. Lively's prose is entertaining and lucid. Her characters are believably flawed and her plotting is delicate. Temptations exist but what should you do about them? How does one age well? Who is your family? I enjoyed this book very much.

March 27, 2013

Book Review -Backlash by Lynda LaPlante Fiction

 Another strong entry in her Above Suspicion series, this can be read as a stand alone story. DCS James Langton must be one of the most infuriating and bullying characters in modern fiction but thankfully he is on the fringes of this story which starts with the random stop by police of van. They find a dead body in the back. The murderer turns out to be far more deadly then they first imagine and the hunt for clues is difficult and far reaching. LaPlante is very strong procedurally which makes up for a certain emotional distance in her main characters. This should please her legions of fans.

March 24, 2013

Book Review - Summertime Death by Mons Kallentoft

Why is it that some of the best fictional detectives are moody, obsessional, insomniacs with difficulty in maintaining family relationships? Meet one of Sweden's detectives, Malin Fors, in this elliptical, crackling hot, new novel. The provincial city of Linkoping is suffering a summer heatwave, the forest fires are filling the air with smoke. Everyone who can, has gone on holidays. The reduced staff of detectives have an assault victim with no memory of what happened to her, a murder victim who can't talk and there is little forensic evidence to help.

Malin seeks inspiration from the crime scene…."the wind is blowing through the leaves of the oak, rustling them. It's a warm wind. …..The water of the lake almost seems to bubble in the heat. Boiling and stagnant, deadly poisonous yet still endlessly tempting: Jump in, and I'll drag you down to the bottom….The sun reflects off the water …... The reflections are like lightning in her retinas but she doesn't want to put on her Ray-Bans, wants to see reality just as it is."

And that is what we need from Mailn, to confront the reality of her victims and drag out the truth of a hurt that started a long time ago. Kallentoft continues the promise of her first excellent crime novel "Midwinter Sacrifice"; and Malin Fors cements her place in the pantheon of fictional detectives.


March 21, 2013

DVD Review - The Mentalist

Simon Baker is perfect as Patrick Jane with his trademark cheeky grin, uncanny powers of observation and mesmerising knowledge of human behaviour . He provides a fine balance between the compassion he displays to the victims he meets and the stark revenge he wishes to unleash on Red John, the man who brutally killed his family. Jane, Agent Lisbon and the team are introduced in the Season 1 of this series. Murder mysteries are leavened by flashes of genuine wit and humour and the team dynamics are handled deftly. Season 2 also held.

March 20, 2013

Book Review - Overdressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

If you need a reason to wean yourself off the 25 cheap t-shirts and skirts in your wardrobe, here is the book for you. Looking at the shift in clothing manufacture from the USA to China and other low labour cost countries, this could easily be Australia's story. The endless cycle of disposable garments has in its wake the loss of local skills, jobs and quality. Consumers are hooked on buying a lot of items at cheap rates and of poor quality. Cline surveys the economics of a generation who refuse to pay more than $20 for a jacket, and cannot sew on a button. Salutary reading. The only glimmer of light is her look at the slow clothing trend in the last chapter.


March 19, 2013

Book Review - Tuesday's Gone by Nicci French

Nicci French is a pseudonym for a successful writing partnership of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French and they deliver a taut, psychological drama in the next installment in pyschotherapist's Frieda Klein's forays into assisting the police solve murders. The story features a mystery man found dead and being cared for by a mentally ill woman. Frieda must interpret her utterances to gain insight into the man's life and work out if he is victim or perpetrator. A dark shadow from the past hangs over her as the players are revealed. Frieda must come to terms with just why she does what she does and how to heal her fractured family. If a con man was to identify your weakness and prey on you…. What would it be? Reading the first book in the series Blue Monday, is not necessary but would add depth to the storylines. Nicci French does it again with an engrossing puzzle.


March 17, 2013

Book Review - Snow White and the Hunstman: a novel by Lily Blake

This is a movie tie-in and is based on the motion picture, the screen story by Evan Daugherty and the screen play by Evan and others. It's a re-imagining of the classic fairy story. Snow White is imprisoned for years by the evil Queen who has killed her father and taken the throne. She escapes just after she learns that there are some in her father's kingdom who are resisting the Queen's reign of terror; they are led by her boyhood friend, William son of Duke Hammond. The huntsman is suffering from the loss of his beloved wife and thinks he has nothing left to live for. The queen has no pity as she battles against the fading of her powers and sends him after Snow White into the Dark Forest, a magical realm of enchanted traps and monsters. What will Snow White and the huntsman learn? Will they survive? And what choices will they make? An enchanted read.

Book Review - Double Entry: How the merchants of Venice shaped the modern world and how their invention could make or break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White

In the fourteenth century, Venetian merchants were using Roman numerals and an abacas to manage their businesses. Hindu-Arabic numerals were viewed with great suspicion and were in fact outlawed until their subversive use became so widespread that they had to be accepted. These numbers also enabled developments in painting (through the understanding of perspective transforming the flat two dimensional pre- Renaissance paintings) and architecture, spawning the great buildings we see on Grand Tours today. Their great benefit was to enable the use of arithmetical calculations on paper. The principle of double entry accounting launched the great merchant shipping voyages and through ever increasing complexity underpins our great global corporations today. This is an entertaining historical account of the rise of accounting practice (OK! I have no life!); its great advances and its great shortcomings. After the great Depression of the 1930s and during the two World Wars, countries saw the need to embrace a national accounting system which has gradually developed to guide many international transactions. The people developing these systems knew they were limited in their capacity to quantify indirect costs such as environmental damage. This is the next great challenge in corporate and national accounting.

March 15, 2013

Book Review - In the Bag by Kate Klise

Daisy and her daughter Coco are on a plane, as are Andrew and his son Webb. The story is told through each of the character's viewpoints as a series of mishaps and misunderstandings complicate a very contemporary love story. Funny and charming, Kate Klise hits the spot with her first adult romance.

March 14, 2013

Speculative Fiction....more than the undead.

It can be easy to dismiss speculative fiction as purely asteroids and "zombie lit" and while there is an element of that (and that is OK and very enjoyable!), there is oh so much more.

Speculative fiction encompasses not just the bio-engineering fuelled post apocalyptic nightmare that is found in Justin Cronin's The Passage but also the laugh out laugh universe of Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Asimov's robot riddled futures.

As a genre it is one I have returned to many times. In early high school while other young teenage girls were enjoying the Sweet Valley High Series (Bubblegum pulp) I was enamoured with Kelleher's Taronga, a post apocalyptic adventure set in Sydney's Zoo where the main character can communicate telepathically (thankyou to my high school English teacher for that one).

Later high school, saw my introduction to The Handmaids Tale, Atwoods exploration of female subjagation at the hands of a theocracy. Not only did it set of the biggest exam hissyfit in my academic life (I walked out as I hadn't prepared properly and didn't understand the question), it asked a 16 year old to examine doctorine, equal rights and the wisdom of using butter as moisturiser.

Over the ensuing decades (of which there have been a couple), I have enjoyed so many different sc-fi, paranormal, alternate history (some of the many genre's that seem to fit within this one) that it hard not to list them all. Sara Douglass and her twists on Greek mythology and time travel (The Troy Game) kept me thrilled right to the last page. Suzanne Collins Hunger Games made me cry (and quite possibly neglect my children "Shhhh, mummy's reading") and the Time Traveller's Wife was simply one of the best pieces of writing I have come across (just don't get me started on the movie).

Too many people presume that these books aren't literary, or are just for children. Other's think they should "grown up and read a proper book". I support wide reading.  I support reading outside your comfort zone. i also support reading whatever you like, and with so many different themes in speculative fiction, there is alot to like.

So give me vampires, zombies, robots and cyborgs, take me to worlds where war never happens or is never ending and let me indulge in my fantasies of what the world would be like if time travel was possible.
And don't ever tell me (or your kids, spouse or next door neighbour) , that what I read isn't educational, interesting or literary.

(Oh, and if you do enjoy "zombie lit" check out our blog supporting the Narella Zombie Apocalypse.! )

Narellan Zombie Apocalypse  - April 13 2013

March 13, 2013

Book Review - Force of Nature by C.J. Box

Another American anti-hero with a shady military past and an awesome repertoire of skills, Nate Romanowski's past catches up to him in this thriller where falconry, wilderness hunting and the magnificent southern Wyoming countryside are an integral part of the story. Big old cottonwood trees by the river, red rock cliffs and everywhere a winter dusting of snow forming a backdrop to Nate's battle with his old master in a clandestine killing unit. Escapism with an arsenal, suspend disbelief and enjoy this latest of C.J. Box's muscular, tautly written series.

March 12, 2013

Book Review - The Translation of Bones by Francesca Kay

This was recommended to me by a borrower and thankyou for the recommendation which I am now passing on! Kay's first novel won the Orange Prize and although I don't always seek out prize-winners, I will be looking for her other work. An English suburban church has some regular helpers who clean and do the flowers. One day, one of the helpers, Mary Margaret, a simple woman with strong faith, sees Jesus on the Cross bleeding from his head shortly before she falls and is taken to hospital. This novel has achingly real and beautiful depictions of Fidelma, an unmarried mother from Ireland, now facing the end of her life; of Stella, an MP's wife reflecting on her children's lives; of Father Diamond, the parish priest, desperately seeking answers; and of Kiti, whose life experience leads her to see conspiracies where they don't exist. Mary Margaret is a catalyst in ways she doesn't even comprehend to changes that affect them all. Searing and evocative, thoughtful and measured. I could easily read this several times and get more out of it each time.

March 05, 2013

Book Review - The Fall by Claire McGowan

Charlotte is totally consumed by her wedding preparations to Dan. So consumed that she completely misses the signs that all is not well in his life. Dan and Charlotte go out on the town and in the aftermath, Dan is arrested for murder and Charlotte's life unravels completely. She links up with Keisha, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is also linked to the murder and they develop an unlikely partnership. DC Matthew Hegarty is an honest cop who cannot leave the case alone and is increasingly attracted to Charlotte. Just what is Dan guilty of? A competent crime novel expertly interweaving the characters' stories.


March 01, 2013

Book Review - Fault Line by Robert Goddard

Jonathan Kellaway is about to retire when he is asked to do one more task for his employer, a multi-national china clay company. The company and Jonathan share their origins in a small Cornish village, where he had a seminal summer involving a pretty girl and her troubled brother.

And that was how we first met, Vivien Foster and I. …she never once glanced around at me, though she cast several glances in her brother's direction. It was pretty clear she'd barely noticed me. But I'd noticed her. And I was already certain I'd never forget her. How right I was.

Told partly in flashback, the story evolves layers of complexity as Jonathan finally resolves the mystery underlying that summer and the ripple effects on all who were involved. Another intriguing story from Robert Goddard.


February 26, 2013

Book Review - One Summer by Roisin Meaney

A succession of summer lets at Nell's house by the sea brings people who need to change direction in their lives to the perfect place for making decisions and seeing new possibilities. Nell is letting her house to earn money to save up for her wedding to Tim but she is spending dangerous amounts of time with everyone but him. Meanwhile other village residents also experience events of great sadness and great happiness as the summer unfolds. Relaxing reading by another accomplished Irish writer. There must be as many charming Irish villages as there are murders in Midsomer!

February 21, 2013

Unexpected Afghans: innovative Crochet Designs with Traditional Techniques by Robyn Chahcula

This is a welcome addition to our extensive craft collection. The author has collected designs from many contemporary American crochet designers. Explosions of colours, granny motifs, Tunisian, cable and lace designs. I am definitely going to make one of the cable afghans – but which one to choose? Who knew you could do cable in crochet? Not me, but it looks very impressive in the examples in this book. Unfortunately, as it is an American book, it uses American terms, so for those of us who learnt the Australian/British terms you will need to translate Double crochet stitches into Triple crochet etc . I think some of these designs are definitely worth the effort.


February 19, 2013

Book Review - Wesley: The story of a remarkable owl by Stacey O'Brien

Stacey is a besotted biologist who adopts a baby owl who has a wing injury and cannot be rehabilitated to the wild. She doesn't realize that Wesley will become the companion of 19 years of her life and will help to develop our understanding of his species along the way. Full of owl facts and very human emotion as Stacey learns 'The Way of the Owl" from an owl with great personality and a deal of playfulness. One of the most interesting features was the difference in how to 'train' owls as opposed to creatures we are more used to living with such as cats and dogs. One for animal lovers. Find it in the Biography section.

February 17, 2013

Book Review - Force of Nature by C.J. Box

Another American anti-hero with a shady military past and an awesome repertoire of skills, Nate Romanowski's past catches up to him in this thriller where falconry, wilderness hunting and the magnificent southern Wyoming countryside are an integral part of the story. Big old cottonwood trees by the river, red rock cliffs and everywhere a winter dusting of snow forming a backdrop to Nate's battle with his old master in a clandestine killing unit. Escapism with an arsenal, suspend disbelief and enjoy this latest of C.J. Box's muscular, tautly written series.

February 16, 2013

Book Review - an interesting history of an accounting standard.

Double Entry: How the merchants of Venice shaped the modern world and how their invention could make or break the Planet by Jane Gleeson-White

In the fourteenth century, Venetian merchants were using Roman numerals and an abacas to manage their businesses. Hindu-Arabic numerals were viewed with great suspicion and were in fact outlawed until their subversive use became so widespread that they had to be accepted. These numbers also enabled developments in painting (through the understanding of perspective transforming the flat two dimensional pre- Renaissance paintings) and architecture, spawning the great buildings we see on Grand Tours today. Their great benefit was to enable the use of arithmetical calculations on paper. The principle of double entry accounting launched the great merchant shipping voyages and through ever increasing complexity underpins our great global corporations today. This is an entertaining historical account of the rise of accounting practice (OK! I have no life!); its great advances and its great shortcomings. After the great Depression of the 1930s and during the two World Wars, countries saw the need to embrace a national accounting system which has gradually developed to guide many international transactions. The people developing these systems knew they were limited in their capacity to quantify indirect costs such as environmental damage. This is the next great challenge in corporate and national accounting.


February 12, 2013

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Powell

Eleanor is new and doesn't quite fit in. Her clothes are weird, her family is chaotic and dysfunctional courtesy of her abusive stepfather and her life is difficult. She meets Park on the bus. Park is half Korean and has a father with a military background. His life is ordered and conventional. They are 16 and this is the bittersweet and tender story of how they fall in love. This is a first novel but it is an assured debut from an author who has great gifts in both remembering and conveying the soaring, confused turbulence of adolescence and the overwhelming nature of first love. Funny and charming, sad and nostalgic, you'll be glad you spent time with Eleanor and Park.

January 30, 2013

Back to School....

The Summer school holidays are over and it's time for children to go back to school.

For some children they are starting school for the first time. Some children may be very excited about this whilst others may be a little anxious.

Below is a selection of fiction and non-fiction books that you might find useful
to assist in preparing your child, and yourself, for their first day of school and help make their transition as smooth as possible.


The first day of school
/ Toby Forward; illustrated by Carol Thompson

Day / Dandi Daley Mackall; illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

It's your first day at school, Annie Claire / Nancy White Carlstrom; illustrated by Margie Moore

Bella goes to school
/ Ian Whybrow; illustrated by Rosie Reeve

Countdown to kindergarten
/ Alison McGhee; illustrated by Harry Bliss

Jojo's first day jitters
/ Jane O'Connor; illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Off to kindergarten
/ by Tony Johnston ; illustrated by Melissa Sweet.


Ready, set, go?
/ Kathy Walker.

Ready, set ... go! : off to school : fun learning activities for 4-year-olds
/ Becky Daniel.

Starting school : how to help your child be prepared
/ Sue Berne.

Thriving at school : a practical guide to help your child enjoy the crucial school years
/ Dr John Irvine and John Stewart.

Getting ready to start school: parents and experts share advice and experience
/ Netmums with Hilary Pereira and Hollie Smith

January 29, 2013

Book Review - Flesh and Blood by Mark Peterson

English police procedural with an interesting lead character, DS Minter, a product of a relentless string of foster homes, who retains a fierce commitment to honesty and integrity. He doesn't have the social awareness to fit in and this causes tension in police ranks as they try to contain a drug war in their seaside city of Brighton & maintain front line policing whilst dealing with the internal politics of the force. Occasionally gruesome, as revenge and payback escalates, Peterson has the capacity to provide the shades of grey that bring to life the complexity of the choices that are made in the story. A good solid crime novel.


Assassin by Tara Moss

Some time ago I took one of the early books in this series home on CD read by  the authorTara Moss.  I am not sure whether it was the authors intriguing accent or her absolute ownerships of the words she was speaking but I was hooked and then read each of the books in the series ( starngely hearing the author's voice  in my head as I read them).

Yes I think I might be a little in love with Mak Vanderwall but I think more than that, Mak is who I would really like to be.  Mak is the female equivalent of Jack Reacher - she is tough, intelligent and driven.  I was luckey enough to hear author Lee Child speak about his Jack Reacher books and he agreed with the idea put to him that all men want to be Jack Reacher and all women want to love him, and Mak certainly is the female equivalent.

Assassin is the final book in the series and Moss has taken the opportunity to go into a darker space.  Former model turned forensic psychologist and PI Mak Vanderwall is missing, presumed dead in Paris. By hiring a hit man to kill her, the powerful and corrupt Cavanagh family aimed to silence her for good. But after narrowly escaping death, Mak has taken over her would-be killer′s world.

She is very much alive.
And transformed .

If you are new to  the series and Mak's world try to read the other titles in the series first- each of them is complete and can stand alone but it is great to go on the journey with the characters.  This series has been a real find.



January 22, 2013

Book Review - Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles

This book is about friendship and alienation. It is about small daily happenings that spiral into life changing decisions. It is hard to describe without betraying the surprises in the story. It is full of black humour. It is full of simple but evocative language. At one stage, the hero is traversing a post-industrial wasteland in the Eastern European city that is his temporary home. The thoroughfare is impeded by lots of rubbish piled up against buildings and spilling out over the street. The sense of accusatory menace in this episode is brilliantly portrayed by sentences like "An office swivel chair, its fabric and padding ripped off by someone or something, stood in my path like a Dalek rape victim. " This book won't be for everyone but I found it compelling.


January 15, 2013

Book Review - Wattle Creek by Fiona McCullum

In the Australian bush town of Wattle Creek, Damien, a depressed young farmer is trying to manage the family farm after the death of his father from cancer. New to town is Jacinta, a young and attractive psychologist. She helps Damien see what his life could be if he stops trying to be what he thinks other people want him to be. And she copes with the good and bad regarding everyone knowing your business in a small town. A recognisable cast of supporting characters add texture to a pleasant romance with serious undertones.


January 08, 2013

Book Review - Scared Yet by Jaye Ford

Jaye Ford's second novel continues her strong entry into Australian crime/romance fiction. A woman is attacked and then stalked. The tension escalates as the stalker also targets friends and co-workers. Luckily there's handsome, strong Daniel to help her but what does she really know about him? Could he be the stalker? Why is the police detective so wary of him? A satisfying read.


January 07, 2013

Discovering Chicklit!!

What I did on my holidays by Chrissie Manby

Narellan Chicklit F MAN


Although I have always loved great fiction, I had never been really sure what 'Chicklit' actually referred to.  Way back when Narellan Fiction was organised via genre, I decided that reading a title from this section needed to be on my 'to do' list.

Needless to say, years have gone by, but now I'd like to share one of my recent finds.

I had the rare occasion of a weekend away while the juniors of my family attended a triathlon and I took along a good read for the Saturday night.

The cover page of this title called to me from the display shelves - yes I did judge this book by its cover and the thought of a casual stroll along the shore, thongs in hand really appealed.

In Manby's title, a great holiday, planned for months, was on the agenda for Sophie and partner, Callum, who also happens to be her work colleague. Imagine the despair when Sophie finds out, the night before the trip to the airport, that Callum is actually not that into her and will not be going on the trip!!! What unfolds includes many hilarious moments as Sophie attempts to hide in her bedroom for the duration of the trip - the embarrassment of being left to go alone on the trip was just too much.

What I discovered is that chicklit is literature written mainly by women for women. Many titles include storylines based on work, children, motherhood, friendship, dating, dieting and all sorts of life challenges. The role of humour in chicklit was evident in "What I did on my holidays". Many titles are written from a first person viewpoint, making them very realistic. Although a fun read, Manby's title touched on thought provoking, emotional issues making it a fun but also touching read.

Recommended for a quiet moment when you just want to relax and enjoy a light read.