30 May, 2012

The Breaker

Title: The Breaker
Author: Minette Walters
Genre: Crime Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: When she revisited, always with astonishment, what had happened to her, it was the deliberate breaking of her fingers that remained indelibly printed on her memory . . ."

Twelve hours after a woman's broken body is washed up on a deserted shore, her traumatized three-year-old daughter is discovered twenty miles away wandering the streets of Poole.
But why was Kate killed and her daughter, a witness, allowed to live? And why weren't they together? More curiously, why had Kate willingly boarded a boat when she had a terror of drowning at sea?
Police suspicion centres on both a young actor, whose sailing boat is moored just yards from where the toddler is found, and the murdered woman's husband. Was he really in Liverpool the night she died? And why does their daughter scream in terror every time he tries to pick her up?

What I thought: Another book to cross off my library challenge and my quest to read all of Minette Walters' books! My goodness, but I am being productive.
I'm not sure what I can say about this that I haven't said about Minette Walters before. Great writing, great story, original so you don't feel like you are reading the same book again. If I have a critism of Minette Walters it is that her books have a lot of characters and I often have trouble keeping them straight. Not sure why, but I managed to keep control of them a lot easier than I normally do with this one. Either way, thoroughly enjoy it!
Challenges: Library Challenge

29 May, 2012

When We Were Orphans

Title: When We Were Orphans
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: Christopher Banks, the protagonist of Kazuo Ishiguro's fifth novel, When We Were Orphans, has dedicated his life to detective work but behind his successes lies one unsolved mystery: the disappearance of his parents when he was a small boy living in the International Settlement in Shanghai. Moving between England and China in the inter-war period, the book, encompassing the turbulence and political anxieties of the time and the crumbling certainties of a Britain deeply involved in the opium trade in the East, centres on Banks's idealistic need to make sense of the world through the small victories of detection and his need to understand finally what happened to his mother and father.

What I thought: I've been a little hesitant about reading any more Ishiguro since I was complete unable to get anywhere with The Unconsoled. This however was very different. I do find it hard to review Ishiguro's books because I feel so much of what I read goes above my head, but what I do love is the rich world he creates. Everything in this book seems exaggerated, brighter or duller than it would be real life, the characters larger than life and their experiences more significant. Whether I truly "get" these books becomes irrelevant as I am able to lose myself in beautiful language and a rich atmosphere.

Challenges: Library Challenge

28 May, 2012

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

t's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.
The Breaker - Minette Walters

This is one of my library books so fits with my month long library challenge.
It also fits into my quest to read all of Minette Walters books.

What am I listening to.

The Potato Factory - Bryce Courtenay
I'm finally back to this as my main audio and making good progress.

What I Read In the Last Two Weeks

Again it's been a fortnight since I posted, so here are my reads for the last two weeks!

The Coming of the Whirlpool - Andrew McGhan
Spartacus: The Gladiator - Ben Kane
A Straight Line to My Heart - Bill Condon
Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
When We Were Two - Robert Newton
When We Were Orphans- Kazuo Ishiguro - review to come, only finished it last night!

What's next?
It's all about library books here for the next month - or at least until June 24 when we go away for two weeks and it will become all about the Kindle! You can check out my month long library challenge here.
So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

27 May, 2012

Library Book Month

I love libraries. From the small suburban community library, right up to the huge grand State libraries - there is something about walking into one that instantly relaxes and calms me.

I consider myself lucky to work in a library - I love it! Although the down side is the number of books I bring home and don't get to read before having to return them! I currently have 12 books out, plus another 6 on request - and it's only that small because I have been very strict with myself! However, I want to read everything I have borrowed, so I am declaring from now to June 24 (when we fly to Canberra for 2 weeks) library book month. For the next month I will not borrow any new books (DVD's, CD's and magazines are the exception here) and I will read nothing but the library books I currently have out or on request once they come in!

Here's the list of what I currently have out.

When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro Finished 27/5
Storm Peak: A Jesse Parker Mystery - John Flanagan Finished 11/6
Lockie Leonard: Scum buster- Tim Winton Finished 8/6

Ishamael and the Return of the Dugongs - Michael Gerard Bauer Finished 19/6
The Breaker - Minette Walters Finished 30/5
The Alloy of Law: A Mistborn Novel - Brandon Sanderson Finished 23/6
48 Shades of Brown - Nick Earls Finished 19/6
*Bungawitta - Emily Rodda Finished 9/6
*Crow Country - Kate Constable Finished 2/6
*The Golden Door - Emily Rodda  Finished 6/6
*The Outcasts - John Flanigan Finished 9/6
* The Truth About Verity Sparks - Susan Green Finished 4/6
All My Dangerous Friends - Sonya Hartnett Finished 24/6 
*Nanberry: Black Brother White - Jackie French Finished 17/6

On hold I have:

Between the Lines - Jodi Piccoult & Samantha Van Leer
Complete Peanuts 1967-1968 - Charles Schulz
Various Positions - Martha Schabas

Anything marked with an * is part of my quest to read all the books short listed by the Children's Book Council of Australia for their Book of the Year Awards later in August. I've already read all the older reader books, so now am onto the younger readers. I'll also be doing the picture book and early childhood books - by they are all picture books and I haven't included them in my lists above although I do have a fair few of those out too!

So I am currently reading When We Were Orphans - lets see how many I can get through!

BTW, how many library books do you have out? Do you frequently return them unread??

25 May, 2012

When We Were Two

Title: When We Were Two

Author: Robert Newton
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: Dan had to go, He felt he had no choice, but leaving home was never going to be easy .
Dan and his brother Eddie take off for the coast, in search of their lost mother, in search of a better life . . . but it's a long road they face and Dan must use all his wits to get them there in one piece.
When they are taken under the wings of a group of would-be soldiers marching over the mountains to join up for the Great War, Dan and Eddie's journey becomes something quite unexpected. The experiences they share will shape their future beyond recognition.
This extraordinary rite of passage is a powerful, heart-rending story – Robert Newton at his very best.
What I thought: This is the sixth and final  book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list.
I've enjoyed reading all of the short listed books this year, and this final one is also worthy of being on the list. Robert Newton drew a perfect picture of Australia during the early stages of World War 1. The feel of the small towns Dan and Eddie passed through and the picture of the road and landscape in between was very clear in my head. Rather interestingly, this is the second book I've read recently where the one brother feels guilty for an almost drowning of the other brother - the other being in Cloudstreet. Invariably this lead to comparisons and thoughts of whether Newton was influnenced by Tim Winton or whether it is pure coincidence. Either way the outcome in the end was different.
Like Winton, however, Newton has a talent for producing characters that are so clearly and obviously Australian. You can see the laid back nature, hear the drawl in the voice, feel the sun warmed skin as they shake your hand. While not my favourite on the list, When We Were Two was a great read.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

24 May, 2012


Title: Cloudstreet
Author: Tim Winton
Genre: Austrlian fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Audio book - Library
From Goodreads:  Struggling to rebuild their lives after being touched by disaster, the Pickle family, who've inherited a big house called Cloudstreet in a suburb of Perth, take in the God-fearing Lambs as tenants. The Lambs have suffered their own catastrophes, and determined to survive, they open up a grocery on the ground floor. From 1944 to 1964, the shared experiences of the two overpopulated clans -- running the gamut from drunkenness, adultery, and death to resurrection, marriage, and birth -- bond them to each other and to the bustling, haunted house in ways no one could have anticipated.

What I thought: Being rather naughty, I am writing this review at work! (shhh, it’s quiet and I don’t think anyone I work with reads this blog!) The big advantage of doing this is that if I have left the audio book in the car (which I did!) I can grab a copy off the shelves to refer to while I write my review!
Having done so, I have discovered a bunch of comments on the back of the book that say so well what I feel about this book.

If you have not read Cloudstreet, your life is diminished.Mem Fox

Cloudstreet shows an exquisite feel for the language, the smell, the very pulse of Australia.Andrew Denton

I fell in love with that book and have been the most extraordinary Tim Winton fan ever since. - Judith Lucy

Reading it felt like coming home. It feels like looking through the plane window when you’re flying back in to the country. It really does. - Marieke Hardy

Every single word of these comments rings true for any Winton book as far as I am concerned. If you want to read an Australian author who captures Australia at its most pure, this is your man, and Cloudstreet is the book. And listening to it read aloud is about as perfect as it can get. Winton is pure manna for the mind and the soul. In the words of another famous Australian – do yourself a favour, go read a Tim Winton book.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

23 May, 2012

A Straight Line To My Heart

Title: A Straight Line to My Heart
Author: Bill Condon
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads: A funny, poignant, realistic story of Tiffany's first love and first job, and the inevitability of change in the first summer out of school School is over, not just for the year, but forever. Tiff and Kayla are free, which is what they've always wanted, but now summer is nearly at an end and that means life decisions. Tiff is hoping her job at the local paper will lead to something more, but "The Shark" soon puts her straight on what it takes to become a hard-nosed reporter like him. At home, Reggie—the only grandad she's ever known—has quit smoking and diagnosed himself as a cactus, and then Kayla hits her with some big news. And into all this stumbles Davey, who plays rugby but quotes Truman Capote, and is the first boy who has ever really wanted to know her. Tiff is smart with words and rarely does tears, but in one short week she discovers that words don't always get you there; they don't let you say all the stuff from deep in your heart.

What I thought: This is the fifth book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list.
This was an enjoyable read, with clear likeable characters. The feeling of a small country town was well captured, but for some reason this book just didn’t grab me. I can’t even really put my finger on why, there’s is nothing I can point at and say that’s the issue. Maybe if I had read it without the banner of CBC, or if it had been among the first I had read from the list I wouldn’t be so non committal about it, but put up against the other four books I have read so far, I don’t see it as a winner or a notable.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

22 May, 2012

Spartacus: The Gladiator

Title: Spartacus: The Gladiator
Author: Ben Kane
Genre: Historical fiction
Audience: Adult
Format: Book from the publisher

From Goodreads: The first of two epic novels which tell the story of one of the most charismatic heroes history has ever known -- Spartacus, the gladiator slave who took on and nearly defeated the might of Rome, during the years 73-71 BC.

In historical terms we know very little about Spartacus the man -- partly because most contemporary Roman historians were keen to obliterate his memory and prevent him from attaining mythic status. This of course is grist to the novelist's mill. Ben Kane's brilliant novel begins in the Thracian village to which Spartacus has returned, after escaping from life as an auxiliary in the Roman army. But here he quickly falls foul of his overlord, the Thracian king, who has set his heart on Dionysian priestess, Ariadne -- later to become wife of Spartacus. Betrayed again to the Romans by his jealous king, Spartacus -- and with him Ariadne -- are taken in captivity to the school of gladiators at Capua. It is here -- against the unbelievable brutality of gladiatorial life -- that Spartacus and Crixus the Gaul plan the audacious overthrow of their Roman masters, escaping to Vesuvius, where they recruit and train a huge slave army -- an army which will keep the might of Rome at bay for two years and create one of the most extraordinary legends in history. Spartacus: The Gladiator takes the story up to the moment when the slave army has inflicted its first great defeat on Rome.

What I thought: I was very excited to be asked to review Spartacus: The Gladiator by Ben Kane. First, it’s the first time I’ve been asked to review a book. Second, it’s a period of history I don’t know a lot about and most probably wouldn’t choose to read about and I love being pushed out of my reading comfort zone. And I am glad I was pushed!
It did take me awhile to get into the flow of the book – but that was mainly to do with the fact that I had trouble finding time to read uninterrupted. Spartacus has a fast pace to it, which for me means I need to be able to spend a large chunk of time reading or I lose the flow. Once I managed a couple of solid sessions, I really stared to enjoy it. In this, the first of two books, Kane takes us from Spartacus’ return to Thrace, through him being sold into slavery, his escape and the building of an army which defeated many a Roman assault against them. As I said before, it’s not a period of history I know a lot about, so I cannot speak to the historical accuracy of the book, but the author’s note at the end takes pains to explain what in the book is known fact and what has had to be filled in.
Kane keeps the story moving along at a quick pace, lending a feeling of desperation to the situation. He draws a clear picture of the difference between the upper echelons of Roman society and the hardship of the slaves owned by them. He does not shy away from what would have been the reality of war in that time – rape, pillage and the sacking of towns are common. The description of battles is graphic and wouldn’t be recommended for those with a weak stomach! What it does do is highlight the brutal nature of the time and the battles that were fought. I myself love historical novels that do their best to portray the truth of the time they are set in.
My only problem with the book was Spartacus’ wife, Ariadne. A priestess of Dionysius, I found her to be a bit two dimensional, her character stilted and not quite real. As the only significant female character I was disappointed to not be able to connect with her. On the whole though I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading the sequel.

16 May, 2012

The Coming of the Whirlpool

Title: The Coming of the Whirlpool
Author: Andrew McGahan
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - library

From Goodreads:  It is not drowning your mother fears. What she truly dreads is that if you go to sea then you will come to the attention of the Ship Kings. And that if they discover who you are, they will kill you. Young Dow Amber is no sailor. But driven by a strange sea-longing he ventures from the high country of New Island all the way down to a grim fishing village on the shores of the bay known as the Claw. There he finds a cursed people living in dread not only of the mysterious Ship Kings that rule their country, but also of the fury of the ocean itself. When the Ship Kings sail their tall ships into the Claw, Dow's forbidden longing only grows. Who are the Ship Kings? How do they navigate the high seas? And what of the strange and fascinating girl who lives aboard one of their ships? When the whirlpool rises, will the call of the sea lead Dow to his heart's desire or to certain death? The Coming of the Whirlpool is the first book in Andrew McGahan's stunning new Ship Kings series.
What I thought: This is the fourth book from the The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list. 
OK, when I reviewed The Dead I Know, I said if you only read one book off the list, that should be it. Well, you're going to have to read two! If I had to chose between The Dead I Know and The Coming of the Whirlpool, I would have a hard time - for completely different reasons.
The Coming of the Whirlpool is brilliantly written. The story is engaging and the characters are ones you will find yourself truly caring about. As I read, there was something about the writing that I just couldn't put my finger on. At the end of the book, in the author bio, was the answer. While The Coming of the Whirlpool is not McGahan's first book, it is his first for young adults and he has managed that rare thing of his writing having an adult feel while aimed at young adults. I'm not sure I explained that well! I often find YA authors lack a certain maturity to their writing - almost condescending, or trying to be cool and fit in, but not quite making it. McGahan's writing had the feeling of an adult who had mastered the art of talking to young adult's as equals, while still acknowledging their lack of life experience. I would love to read some of his adult stuff to see if it measures up to what I now expect! I look forward to the sequel to The Coming of the Whirlpool.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

15 May, 2012


Title: Princes
Author: Sonya Hartnett
Genre: Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Book - Library

From Goodreads: In a dilapidated mansion overrun by rats, Indigo and Ravel Kesby have gone to war. Identical twins, their two selves have gradually entwined until they have become all but interchangeable: no one can tell them apart. But when one twin attempts to sever the ties to his brother, their insular world quickly disintegrates into madness, treachery, and violence. As the story sweeps toward a shocking and inexorable conclusion, identity becomes a malleable weapon that will ultimately differentiate brother from brother.
 Sleeping Dogs was, for me, the first book where Hartnett started to excel. Her earlier books hinted at the ability that was there, but never really quite hit the mark. After Sleeping Dogs, came Devil Latch and it was a fantastic follow up. Although I have read much of Hartnett’s work, I’d never read The Devil Latch before. I’m so glad that I have now. To start you are not sure if the book is a gothic horror or a supernatural type book. I started off thinking that maybe Hartnett was way ahead of her time (it was published in 1996) with the vampire thing. But in the end, you realise it’s something completely different. The book shows how easy it can be to be drawn into someone else’s fantasy and the dangers of doing so. Next up by Hartnett, Black Fox!

What I thought: So I went looking for the last Hartnett book I read and it was August last year! Nine months ago!! That is so not cool!
Anyway, Princes is was perfect Hartnett. Indigo and Ravel are caught in their own world within the walls of their mansion. Hartnett draws you in until you can feel the suffocation of one twin by another. You know who the evil one is, you know who is being controlled and who is controlling. You are sure. And then you're not sure...everything that was certain isn't. You can feel the house shift and move as the dynamics between the twins shift and move. Part of the brilliance of this book is the fact that there are only two characters, but it is never stilted, never slow or ponderous. In fact it wasn't until the end that I realised apart from a few mentions of others, some who you are not sure exist at all, Indigo and Ravel are the only characters. As always, Hartnett is succinct - Princes only runs to 138 pages - once again part of her brilliance.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenge

14 May, 2012

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a meme hosted by Shelia over at Book Journey. A weekly check in to see what you are currently reading and what is coming up. Head over to Shelia's blog to see what others are reading this week.

What am I reading now.

Can you tell I'm back at work? Finding it a lot harder to find time to blog!

Spartacus: The Gladiator - Ben Kane
This was sent to me by the publisher for review. I'm really enjoying this although it's taking me longer to read than I thought it would - most probably that back to work thing!

The Coming of the Whirlpool - Andrew McGahan
The Coming of the Whirlpool - Andrew McGahan
Another book from The Children's Book Council of Australia Older Reader's Short list.  I stopped reading Spartacus to read this because it's due back at the library and I can't extend it as someone has requested it!

What am I listening to.

Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
Still going with Cloudstreet. Tim Winton books make such good read-a-louds.

The Potato Factory - Bryce Courtenay
I will get back to it eventually, I promise!

What I Read In the Last Two Weeks
I missed out on Monday's post last week, so this week you get two weeks worth of finishes!

Murder in Devon - Maggi Andersen - this was my first ever book tour. Hope I get to do more, it was fun!

Princes - Sonya Hartnett - review to come. Another that had to be read before it could be returned to the library!

What's next?
You know, until I finish what is already on my plate, I don't think I should be allowed to think to far ahead! I do know there is a bunch of library books I need to get through! Again, the problem with returning to work - it's way to easy to borrow books, but I have less time to read them!

So what are you reading? Leave me a link, I'd love to know!

08 May, 2012

Virtual Book Tour: Murder in Devon by Maggie Andersen

I'm so excited to welcome you to my stop on the virtual book tour for 

Murder in Devon 

by Maggi Andersen!

This my first ever book tour and I was thrilled to be asked to participate.

Published by Black Opal Books, Murder in Devon is a romantic/ mystery suspense book set in England.

An ex-patriot American reporter living in England, Casey Rowan wakes to find one best friend murdered and another seriously injured. Casey is determined to find the killer, despite running afoul of the detective in charge of the case—a blue-eyed Scot named Rod Carlisle, who considers her a prime suspect. As Casey gets closer to the truth, losing her heart to the sexy cop isn’t the only thing she risks. Now her life is danger, too.
Rod has no patience with civilians who interfere in police matters, even hot little numbers like Casey. Though he tries to keep things professional between, Casey’s beauty and spunk are hard to resist. Rod warns her that what she’s doing is dangerous, but she refuses to listen. Can he find the killer before Casey becomes the next victim?

I love to read Aussie authors!

Maggi Andersen and her lawyer husband are empty nesters, living in the country outside Sydney, Australia, with their cat and the demanding wildlife. Parrots demand seed, possums demand fruit, and ducks visit from the stream at the bottom of the garden.
Andersen always felt she was meant to be a writer, but raising three children and studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Arts in Creative Writing degree came first. Georgette Heyer has strongly influenced her historical romances.  Her love of romantic suspense came from Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt.
Her current favorite writers are Elizabeth George and Sue Grafton. In her spare time, Maggi enjoys reading and watching movies. She swims and goes to the gym to keep fit.

My review:

I found Murder in Devon an entertaining read.  The whole American character, in England, written by an Aussie author had me intrigued! Casey's dogged determination to uncover the truth behind the murder of her friend had me both cheering and fearing for her. As for her love interest, Rod Carlisle, I'm a sucker for a Scot! You could feel his frustration as he tried to protect Casey and do his job as well. The story moves along a fast pace, meaning you are never left wondering where it's going. False leads and plenty of characters with something to hide have you on the edge of your seat as you try to work out who did it before Casey and Carlisle do - will you be able to solve it?? (for the record, I didn't!

Murder in Devon is available as an ebook or in print format from Amazon  and in print format Book Depository.

I'd like to thank 
for asking me to take part in my first book tour! They are hosting a month of tour dates for Murder in Devon. You can follow the tour here, with more reviews and giveaways!

Tour Hosts and Dates

Book Nook Club May 1 Review
Buried Under Books May 2 Review
Buried Under Books May 3 Giveaway and Guest Post
Little Black Marks May 7 Review
TeacherWriter May 8 Review
The Bookworm May 13 Review
TeacherWriter  May 15 Interview
Over Cups of Coffee  May 11 Review
Socrates’ Book Reviews May 14 Review and Giveaway
Australian Bookshelf May 15 Review
Australian Bookshelf May 17 Giveaway and Guest Post
Beauty is a Sleeping Cat May 16 Review
Romancing the Book May 17 Review
Romancing the Book  May 18 Guest Post
Butterfly-O-Meter May 21 Review
Butterfly-O-Meter May 23 Giveaway and Excerpt
Bags, Books & Bon Jovi May 24 Review
Reviews by Molly May 25 Review
Reviews by Molly May 22 Giveaway and Guest Post