21 January, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

Each Tuesday I will post a TED talk - some to make you think, some to make you cry, some to amaze you and some just to entertain you. If you want to join in, feel free! Post a TED talk on your blog and then put a link in the comments. Grab the button if you want as well.

This TED talk appeals to the feminist in me. As a 40+ year old woman trying to reenter the workforce in a meaningful way, it speaks to me and is so important For me, 2014 is going to be the year I lean in. What about you?

20 January, 2014

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?

Shift - Hugh Howey - this is the second installment of the Wool trilogy that my sister put me onto. It's actually a prequel to Wool. Enjoying it so far.

What I read last week.

Only one finish last week.

Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs - starting to get a bit jaded about this series...

Quiet week for me, what have you been reading?

19 January, 2014

Book Review: Bones of the Lost

From Goodreads: When Charlotte police discover the body of a teenage girl along a desolate stretch of two-lane highway, Temperance Brennan fears the worst. The girl’s body shows signs of foul play. Inside her purse police find the ID card of a prominent local businessman, John-Henry Story, who died in a horrific flea market fire months earlier. Was the girl an illegal immigrant turning tricks? Was she murdered?
The medical examiner has also asked Tempe to examine a bundle of Peruvian dog mummies confiscated by U.S. Customs. A Desert Storm veteran named Dominick Rockett stands accused of smuggling the objects into the country. Could there be some connection between the trafficking of antiquities and the trafficking of humans?
As the case deepens, Tempe must also grapple with personal turmoil. Her daughter Katy, grieving the death of her boyfriend in Afghanistan, impulsively enlists in the Army. Meanwhile, Katy’s father Pete is frustrated by Tempe’s reluctance to finalize their divorce. As pressure mounts from all corners, Tempe soon finds herself at the center of a conspiracy that extends all the way from South America, to Afghanistan, and right to the center of Charlotte. 

Thoughts: I so wanted to love this, I really did. What is it with crime writers who feel the need to continue beyond the natural life of a character? The story was good, the science held together for me, but how many times can one character face the bad guys and get away with it - especially when they are not actually a law enforcement agent! If Reichs could simply let go of the Tempe Brennan character I would find this so much better. I must admit I am also over the tortured love story. Is there a single reoccuring crime novel character in a normal, happy, satisfying relationship - or no relationship at all and still happy? On top of that, the male cop in this, Slidell is a pure caricature. All the failings of this for me are character based. The stories are good, engaging, but the characters are starting to feel old and stale. Chances are I will read the next one, but I won't be pinning any great hopes on it.

14 January, 2014

TED Talks Tuesday.

Have you heard of TED Talks? They are brilliant. Covering a wide range of topics, they are usually no longer than about 20 minutes, although many of them are shorter. I often come across a TED talk I would like to share, so I thought I would start a meme -

Welcome to TED Talks Tuesday!

Each Tuesday I will post a TED talk - some to make you think, some to make you cry, some to amaze you and some just to entertain you. If you want to join in, feel free! Post a TED talk on your blog and then put a link in the comments. Grab the button if you want as well.

My first TED talk is by an Australian Beat Box artist. This one is just for entertainment - enjoy!

13 January, 2014

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.

So I'm going to attempt to get back into this meme in 2014. If you want to see what I read in 2013, click here. In the meantime, let's just start with 2014!

What am I reading now?

Bones of the Lost - Kathy Reichs - love a good thriller mystery and Reichs very rarely disappoints.

What I finished this week/ fortnight?

Cross and Burn - Val McDermid - more quality crime fiction. I love Tony Hill!

11/22/63 - Stephen King - pleasantly surprised by my first King read in a long, long time.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley -  a book that fits into the only two challenges I am doing this year - 5 From Forever in 14 and Best Book List Challenge.

Not a bad start to the year I feel. So what have you been reading? Leave me a link in the comments, I'd love to know!

Book Review: Brave New World

From Goodreads: Far in the future, the World Controllers have finally created the ideal society. In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has brought the human race to perfection. From the Alpha-Plus mandarin class to the Epsilon-Minus Semi-Morons, designed to perform menial tasks, man is bred and educated to be blissfully content with his pre-destined role.
But, in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, Bernard Marx is unhappy. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, feeling only distaste for the endless pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress…

Thoughts: This is one of those books I've been meaning to read for years and thanks to both the 5 from forever in '14 and 100 Best Book list challenges, I've finally done it!
Like many dystopian novels, Huxley's vision of the future is quite scary. While the idea of a world where everyone is happy all the time sounds great, there are of course issues.
What I often find interesting in reading classics is what they were unable to predict or see happening. In this hight scientifically controlled world, the recording each embryo and child are subjected to are off a paper roll. Written today, it would of course be computer based, most probably directly into the brain! There is no mention of environmental issues and the "feelies" today would more likely be an interactive, holographic event.
I enjoyed the book, but quite often found myself wondering exactly where it was going. I assumed a protagonist who bucked the system and met resistance. Of course what I got was a slightly disillusioned character and an outsider bought into an incredibly synthetic situation. The sudden focus on The Savage towards the end kind of came out of nowhere for me. It was interesting, but I thought it could have been explored more. The ending was abrupt and jolting. I'm still not sure how I feel about it. I'm glad I've read it, but think I will need to think about it some more.

Challenges: 5 from forever in '14, 100 Best Book List Challenge.

12 January, 2014


From Goodreads: If you had the chance to change the course of history, would you? Would the consequences be what you hoped?
Jake Epping, 35, teaches high-school English in Lisbon Falls, Maine, and cries reading the brain-damaged janitor's story of childhood Halloween massacre by their drunken father. On his deathbed, pal Al divulges a secret portal to 1958 in his diner back pantry, and enlists Jake to prevent the 11/22/1963 Dallas assassination of American President John F. Kennedy. Under the alias George Amberson, our hero joins the cigarette-hazed full-flavored world of Elvis rock'n'roll, Negro discrimination, and freeway gas-guzzlers without seat belts. Will Jake lurk in impoverished immigrant slums beside troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald, or share small-town friendliness with beautiful high school librarian Sadie Dunhill, the love of his life?

Thoughts: It has been a long time since I've read a Stephen King novel. I use to love them, but then it became a case of "I like your old stuff better than your new stuff." Apart from a few exceptions such as The Green Mile I pretty much stopped reading anything after Misery. However, several blogs I read said this was good - and a few of them were like me in their King attitude.
It was good. I enjoyed the romance, the intrigue, the flow of King's writing. He is good at writing a page turner - needing to know what happens next. After I finished it though - this is the question that did my head in:

Have the descendants of JFK or Oswald read it and what do they think?

Do they wish history could be changed? Would they care about what the long term consequences were if it gave them extra time with their loved one?

King still has life in him. I think he has done the horror thing and is best off steering away from it, although I have also heard good things about Dr Sleep? Maybe a King revival for me in 2014...

08 January, 2014

100 Best Book List Challenge 2014

Through out the year you frequently see Best Book lists. Best books of all time, best books from Australia, best books of the 20th Century, books to read before you die. I always look at them and tally. I also look at them and think "I'd like to read that one, and that one, oh and that one." So this year I have issued myself (and anyone else who wants to join in) the 100 Best Book List Challenge. It's really easy. Pick any best 100 book list. You can use the one I'm using, or another. Give yourself a goal (anything from 1 book off the list to the whole list!), set up a page with a link to your list and to keep track and off you go!

My tracking page is here.

If you're looking for some ideas on lists to choose from, here's a few.

100 Books to Read Before You Die (this is the list I am using)

All-Time 100 Novels

Australia's Top 100 Favourite Home Grown Reads

100 Best Novels

101 Best Selling Books of All Time

Dymock's 101 Club 2013 list

To see how I'm structuring the challenge for myself, hop over to my tracking page.

Want to join in? Just leave a comment below with a link to your tracking page, or, if you don't have a blog, let me know which list you are using. Feel free to grab the button as well!

Happy reading!

06 January, 2014

Book Review: Cross and Burn

Format: Kindle

From Goodreads: Cross and Burn, picks up where The Retribution left off: following the best crime-fighting team in the UK-clinical psychologist Tony Hill and police detective Carol Jordan-who when we last saw them were barely speaking, and whose relationship will now be challenged even further.
Guilt and grief have driven a wedge between long time crime-fighting partners psychologist Tony Hill and ex-DCI Carol Jordan. But just because they're not talking doesn't mean the killing stops.
Someone is killing women. Women who bear an unsettling resemblance to Carol Jordan. And when the evidence begins to point in a disturbing direction, thinking the unthinkable seems the only possible answer. Cornered by events, Tony and Carol are forced to fight for themselves and each other as never before.

Thoughts: You know when a new book in the series you love comes out and you read it and it goes way too quickly and then you're all in a funk because it's over and the author has not yet written the next book? Yeah, that's me as I write this review.
Cross and Burn is the latest installment in Val McDermid's Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. The BBC made a fabulous TV series based on the series called Wire in The Blood. Robson Green was a perfect Tony Hill.
Hmmm, Robson Green....

Anyway, the previous book in the series left Tony and Carol in a not good place. A major rift formed in their friendship, MIT was disbanded and it's members scattered, Tony was cut loose due to budget cuts and Carol had quit the force.
But yet another serial killer is on the loose and it could have dire consequences for both Tony and Carol.
McDermid keeps her plots moving at a rollicking pace. Discoveries are constant and help push the storyline along. Unlike many reoccurring characters in books of this genre, McDermid's characters have not become annoying one dimensional people whose constant issues are whined about incessantly and never resolved in any way. McDermid's characters have issues, but they learn and grow from them or at least accept them as personality traits they aren't willing to change and therefore don't moan about! 
My dilemma now is what next? Something from a different genre? A different book by McDermid? (she has other series' and stand alones, but I have never been able to get into them) or go back and re-read Tony and Carol from the beginning? What would you do?

05 January, 2014

Challenges in 2014

Well almost a week into 2014 and I am thinking about what challenges to take on this year. I think I'm all challenged out this year - so I am whittling right back. I am doing one challenge set by someone else and one challenge I am thinking about setting myself.

This post will be all about the challenge being set by Miss Dove. This year she is running the
Little White Dove
I love the idea of this challenge if for no other reason than my TBR list, like most readers is huge! So here's the idea. In 2014 you need to read 5 books that have been on your TBR list for "someday". You know the ones. The ones you will read, but not today. Someday - later. Well later is here!

My five from forever will be:

1. Brave New World - Aldos Huxley

2. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot

4. The Help - Kathryn Stockett

5. Egg-Larva-Pupa-Women - Ogo Akubue Oybata

I had a hard time choosing just five, so I've added two back ups just in case one of the ones above don't strike my fancy at any time.

1. Me Talk Pretty One Day - David Sedaris

2. Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood

A tongue in cheek crack was made about me completing the challenge by Australia Day (January 26). I cheekily replied I would try and have at least one done by then! So after I have finished my current read, I'll be picking one of these.

Want to join in? Pop on over to Little White Dove and sign up! 

03 January, 2014

2013 Best Reads

2013 was a good year. In fact it was hard to whittle it down to just 10 books, but those above, in no particular order, are my best reads of 2013. Below you can find links to my reviews of each of these books.

Blood - Tony Birch 
Birch was a new author for me. I desperately wanted to read his books after listening to an interview with Richard Fidler. I also really enjoyed his two books of short stories - Shadowboxing and Father's Day. 
Recommended for: those who love a good, gritty, Australian read.

Land's Edge - Tim Winton 
My love for Tim Winton continued this year with this previously undiscovered gem. Land's Edge is Winton's memoir of growing up and holidaying on the WA. Through this book he explores his love of the ocean and the importance of it in his life.
Recommended for: any one who had part of the coast as their childhood or those who want to get a feel for the effect a landscape can have on one man.

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak 
Love, love, love this book. This is one that springs to mind when people ask for a good read.Zusak's tale of a girls life during World War II and the relationship she forms with her foster parents, a hidden Jew and a boy who becomes a friend for life is mesmerising. Told from the point of view of death, you get to see all. Bound to become a classic.
Recommended for: everyone. Despite knowing a few who have not enjoyed it, I would recommend everyone at least give it a go.

Wool - Hugh Howey  
I love Dystopian novels, but am finding it harder and harder to find original and interesting ideas. (YA fiction seems to be flooded with a lot of very bad dystopian at the moment - but like the vampire craze, I'm sure this too will pass!) This was fabulous. After an apocalyptic event, humanity has retreated to a silo. Each level with it's own role and no one able to step foot outside. But things are not always what they seem.
Recommended for: Disillusioned Dystopian readers or those who enjoy the genre.

 I Know This Much is True - Wally Lamb   
Every time I read Wally Lamb I fall in love with his language and his story telling. I continue to make my way through his back catalogue, finding each book more and more wonderful. He released a new title in 2013 (We Are Water) which I look forward to getting my hands on this year.
Recommended for: those who enjoy a story whose characters are flawed, vulnerable and yet resilient. Lamb's books are character driven and his characters are superb.

The Wild Girl - Kate Forsyth 
Another book I have raved about to all and sundry this year. I put it on equal footing with The Book Thief. Forsyth tells the tale of Dortchen Wild and Wilhelm Grimm - their love, the obstacles and how she was a major contributor of the stories he and his brother collected. Loved it. Another classic in the making.
Recommended for: again everyone. I'd especially recommend it for those who like quality, well researched historical fiction.

Maus - Art Spiegelman 
Maus was my graphic novel read for my 13 in '13 challenge. I was dubious about graphic novels, thinking no further than the traditional super hero or anime stuff I knew was around. I cannot even remember how I stumbled upon this, but am so grateful I did. It lead me to further exploring the genre including Blankets by Craig Thompson, another excellent graphic novel.   
Recommended for: graphic novels are excellent for reluctant readers. Maus is a thoughtful and emotional look at the Nazi's during World War II.

Dirt Music - Tim Winton 
Yep, Winton again. This I listened to as a talking book and became immersed. Again, flawed characters who really need to get their shit together! I never know whether to hate or pity the characters, they seem so bent on self destruction! One of the few authors who doesn't annoy me when he leaves the ending up in the air and unresolved!
Recommended for: lovers of good Australian fiction. Winton is this country's best.

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion  

One of the funniest things I have read all year! Simsion's tale of a man who has Aspberger's searching for a wife is guaranteed to have you in stitches. Well written and just hilarious.
Recommended for: those who like a funny read that doesn't take cheap shots.

And the Mountains Echoed - Khaled Hosseini  
Hosseini is just a wonderful storyteller. He keeps you engaged and invested with the story and the characters. His descriptions of Afghanistan are breathtaking - beautiful and harsh all at the same time.  An author who I look forward to reading again and again.
Recommended for: those who want to see how the other half live. Hosseini takes you into a world most of us are lucky to never have to know. 

02 January, 2014

13 in '13 Challenge Wrap Up

Little White Dove 

 When I first signed up for this challenge I suggested to the organiser (who is a friend as well) that instead of me having to read 13 books, that she set 13 different genres for me. Agreeing that by doing so it may take me more than a month to complete (and in reality, it would have taken me 2.5 months, but lets not quibble over small matters) Miss Dove set the following categories.

Graphic novel

My finished list looks like this.

Interestingly, 8 of the 13 were by Australian authors and 12 were new authors to me.

Pick of the bunch for me would have to be Maus. Incredibly powerful and lead me to read a couple of other graphic novels. Blood by Tony Birch would also have to be highly recommended.  Worse read of the lot was The Sheikh's Love Child, which sent me off on yet another feminist rant.

I enjoyed this challenge and Miss Dove has promised us a new one for 2014 so I will be watching with interest. In the meantime I'm trying to decide what other challenges I will take part in - if any...Either way I will continue to track what I read in one form or another.

Wishing you all a 2014 full of great books.