5.12.16

Peas & Queues

Peas & Queues: the minefield of modern manners by Sandi Toksvig

How do you get rid of unwanted guests? What do you do if there's a racket in the quiet carriage? Who are you supposed to kiss - and is it one kiss or two? How to behave, like how to punctuate, is an aspect of life that many are no longer taught - and getting it wrong is the stuff of comedy at best and humiliation at worst.

Thankfully, Sandi Toksvig has come to the rescue with her entertaining guide to modern manners, with tips on what to do whether you're talking to a bore, or forgot their name in the first place.

If you're a fan of the tv show QI hosted by Stephen Fry, you will be familiar with the inimitable Sandi Toksvig, the pint size performer with the razor-sharp intelligence and quick wit.  She is one of the rare people who can spontaneously drop quotes from Erasmus to Barak Obama while parlezing double entendres with one arm tied behind her back.  A gifted author of both adult and children's book, prolific traveller with a portmaneau of tales tall and true, radio and tv performer, Peas & Queues is not really what you expect from her.

Liberally sprinkled with Toksvig-isms and peppered with the disappointingly number of witticism, this book is actually hard work. It's not the most rivetting of subjects so I was expecting it to be more humorous, more laugh out loud, but it is actually a real "how to" or rather "don't do this" - yes, from how to set a table (I had never heard of 'fork only has four letters, the same as roll, so a dinner roll is set to the left on the fork side, whereas knife has five letters and so does glass, so a glass is set to the right above the knife position'.)  Wow.  

All in all, perhaps a book to dip into when you need some advice on the lost art of manners, but definitely not one for the long-haul read.  I borrowed the audio version which is narrated by the author - it's just soooo Sandi.  And I like her.  Many don't.  We have this title in print, large print, audio CD and Playaway formats.

~ Deb

2.12.16

Four legendary kingdoms

The Four Legendary Kingdoms by Matthew Reilly is the latest in the Jack West series.  In reading the usual roller coaster ride that is a Matthew Reilly title however, I discovered that you don't have to have read the others in the series, to understand and enjoy this new adventure.

From the blurb: Jack West Jr and his family are living happily on their remote farm......when Jack is brutally kidnapped and he awakes in an underground cell to find a masked attacker with a knife charging at him. Jack, it seems, has been chosen - along with a dozen other elite soldiers - to compete in a series of deadly challenges designed to fulfill an ancient ritual. With the fate of the Earth at stake, he will have to traverse diabolical mazes, fight cruel assassins and face unimaginable horrors that will test him like he has never been tested before. In the process, he will discover the mysterious and powerful group of individuals behind it all: the four legendary kingdoms. He might also discover that he is not the only hero in this place...

Matthew Reilly began his writing journey as a self-published author and every one of his books takes you on a roller coaster ride of adventure, puzzles, heroes and villains and overcoming evil.  I have read all of his books and have even seen him speak so am always happy to get my hands on a new title by him.

What I discovered with Four Legendary Kingdoms was that I didn't always like the way the story went, or how it was written, but I still could never just put the book down!

Having said that, the story was great, the challenges amazing, the whole scenario both fascinating and disturbing and the whole secret twist....... well enough said.  I don't like roller coasters much in real life, but I love Matthew Reilly's books because he really takes you for an awesome ride - compelling through every dip and peak.

If you love adventure, challenges, puzzles, heroes overcoming villains (in often very imaginary ways), then you'll love Jack West Jr in Four Legendary Kingdoms.  And if you enjoy this, you can go back and read the other Jack West stories and try out Matthew Reilly's other titles, including other compelling heroes.

~ Michelle


30.11.16

EVENTS, HOURS & CHRISTMAS

Hello from the RR Team!  It’s  that time of year and our libraries are busting at the seams with the magic of Christmas, great holiday reads and entertainment, some wonderful events to pop in your diary and a look at a couple of brilliant author events heading our way in early 2017.  All these are listed in the column at the left, below our operating hours, just scroll down to catch up on what’s what.  Our Christmas brochure detailing ALL events can be found at www.cclc.vic.gov.au

‘TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING 

Forgiving Trees have been established at all our libraries in the lead up to Christmas.  We are encouraging people to contribute items of food or unwrapped gifts for those in need of support. If donors have library fines or lost fees due to Casey Cardinia Libraries, we will waive their fees in acknowledgement of their generosity.

CEO, Chris Buckingham said: “This is the season for giving and we want people across our community to know that if they pay it forward and help out others, we will return the favour.”

The Forgiving Tree is a golden opportunity for library members with overdue items or fines to wipe the slate clean and feel good about it. 

“By waiving fines and encouraging people to visit our libraries we can bring people together and help celebrate the best things about community life in Casey Cardinia”, said Chris.

The Forgiving Tree campaign will run from December 1– 24 and all donated goods will go to local charities. Donated non-perishable food needs to have its packaging intact with best before dates in 2017. Christmas gifts must be new and unwrapped.

STAY TUNED …
The Reading Rewards Team will soon be presenting the most popular post of the year – Our FAVE READS for 2016!!!

~ Deb.

29.11.16

A Chance of Stormy Weather

A Chance of Stormy Weather by Tricia Stringer

Paula, an independent Sydney girl, has had a rocky past with men.  Then, at a friend's wedding, Paula meets Dan. He is ruggedly handsome with a smile that leaves her weak, but there's just one problem - he's a farmer. Within an month they're engaged, and much to the distress of her parents, have a hasty wedding. Paula moves to South Australia to live on Dan's farm and is looking forward to a fresh start in the country but as 'new blood', she has no idea what she's in for.

It soon becomes very clear to Paula that the life of a farmer's wife will be harder than she thought. Dan's aunt Rowena is a blunt, ruthless woman who leaves Paula feeling unnecessary (especially on the farm), there's a beautiful woman named Katherine who keeps appearing at every turn, Dan is constantly out working late hours, and, to make matters worse, her new home is infested with mice. Paula's days soon run together and the isolation begins to set in - was this what she signed up for?

Why we love it: Tricia Stringer takes us to outback Australia in a page-turning rural romance with characters we invest in wholeheartedly.

~ by The Team at Better Reading

28.11.16

Only Ever You

Only Ever You by Rebecca Drake

Three-year-old Sophia Lassiter disappears at the playground only to return after 40 frantic minutes but her mother Jill's relief is short lived. Jill is convinced the tiny dots on her daughter's arm are puncture marks. When doctors find no trace of drugs in her system, Jill accepts she won't ever know what happened during her daughter's absence and is simply grateful to have her home safely. Except Sophia isn't safe. 

Three months later, she disappears again. This time from her bed at home, in the night. Working with the police and the community, Jill and her husband David are desperate to bring their little girl home. They remain hopeful until information turns up suggesting their daughter was murdered, causing the police to turn their suspicions on the parents. Facing ugly family secrets and heart-rending evidence, Jill is still convinced her daughter is alive. But when the dragnet begins to close around them, Jill realizes the worst: if the police believe she has killed her daughter, that means they aren't out there looking for the real perpetrator. They aren't hunting for Sophie or the person who still has her.

Jill and David Lassiter face every parent’s worst nightmare, their child disappearing from their home while sleeping one night. It is a calculated and meticulously planned abduction which brings suspicion on the nearest and dearest to the child, the parents. The story is told through the mother, Jill Lassiter; the abductor; and another unknown female, who teases the reader with journal entries that provide some insight into a fragile state of mind. 

This book was a true page-turner. If you want a quick read that you can’t put down, then this is for you! Lisa Unger, best-selling novelist, described this book as “a twisty, compelling, and harrowing thriller that will hook you and leave you breathless”. I definitely agree with her. Just when you think you are on top of the plot and have worked out the characters, there is a twist that changes everything!


Author, Rebecca Drake moves from suspense to thriller fiction with this must-read. It would have to be one of my favourite reads for 2016.

~Narelle

25.11.16

The Ghost Hunters

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring

Welcome to Borley Rectory, the most haunted house in England. It is 1926 and Sarah Grey is personal assistant to Harry Price, London's most infamous ghost hunter. Harry has devoted his life to exposing the truth behind England's many 'false hauntings'. So when Harry and Sarah are invited to Borley Rectory - a house so haunted that objects frequently fly through the air unbidden, and locals avoid the grounds for fear of facing the spectral nun that walks there - they're sure that this case will be just like any other. But when night falls and no artifice can be found, the ghost hunters are forced to confront the possibility that the ghost may be real.

This debut novel is based on the life of the controversial British ghost hunter Harry Price, a psychic investigator from the inter-war years, who made Borley Rectory in Essex briefly famous as "the most haunted house in England". Spring says the book took three years to research and write.  It feels like it takes that long to read, it's so slow and drawn out.

Narrated perfunctorily by Julie Teal and Leighton Pugh, there are some interesting parts in it, but they're few and far between.  For those seeking a good creepy, don't-read-it-at-night-when-you're-alone, goose-bump producing tale, this is not it.  We'd love to hear which book you thought delivers high up on the spook-o'meter!  

~ Deb

24.11.16

In Love with Betty the Crow

In Love with Betty the Crow by Robyn Williams

The Science Show with Robyn Williams on Radio National is one of the longest running programs on Australian radio. Scientific issues, debates, events, personalities, exposing scientific fraud, discoveries and broadcasting pranks have been its hallmarks, and the show has given Australians fascinating insights into all manner of things. 

In this lively account of forty years of The Science Show, Robyn reveals in his inimitable style why science is important - touching on topics like the flakes and the heroes, propaganda, cosmic revolutions, our relationship with animals, women in science, and of course, the environment. 

Informative, entertaining and memorable, this is a book that is a must read for anyone who is interested in ideas and the truth. 

Robyn Williams, the long time presenter of The Science Show, knows how to speak and write Science!  In this comprehensive review of the 40 years of the show he explains all of the important stories from the past and the scientists involved. He rejoices, celebrates and has a deep respect for, in particular, female scientists.  

I listened to the audio book, read by the author complete with audio of some of the scientists speaking. I would highly recommend the audio for anyone who might be put off by the quantity and breadth of the print copy as I found it made the subject matter quite accessible. 

~ Ali

23.11.16

All Is Not Forgotten

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

You can erase the memory. But you cannot erase the crime.

Jenny's wounds have healed. An experimental treatment has removed the memory of an horrific and degrading attack. She is moving on with her life. That was the plan. Except it's not working out. Something has gone. The light in her eyes. And something was left behind. A scar. On her lower back. Which she can't stop touching. And she's getting worse. Not to mention that her father is obsessed with finding her attacker and her mother is in toxic denial. 

It may be that the only way to uncover what's wrong is to help Jenny recover her memory. But even if it can be done, pulling at the threads of her suppressed experience will unravel much more than the truth about her attack. And that could destroy as much as it heals...


Why we love it: 
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker is a deeply chilling and utterly absorbing psychological thriller, an absolute must-read for fans of the genre.

~ from The Team at Better Reading.

22.11.16

The Three Miss Allens

The Three Miss Allens by Victoria Purman

How much of who we are is destiny and how much chance? In 1934, the three Miss Allens - Ruby, Adeline and Clara - arrive in the seaside town of Remarkable Bay for their annual summer holiday. It's the last time they'll spend summers as a family. Adeline is engaged, Ruby is weighing up an offer, and Clara is just eighteen and about to start her life. But by summer's end, the lives they have known will change irrevocably and a mysterious secret will tear the family apart. 

Eighty-two years later, Ruby's great-granddaughter Roma Harris moves to the now sleepy Remarkable Bay, retreating from tragedy. Roma's distant cousin Addy arrives too, fleeing a life with too much drama. It's only when the women discover an old guest book that they start asking questions about the mysterious third Miss Allen. Who was she? Why has she disappeared from the family's history? If they solve this mystery from their past, could it change the women's futures?

Another great women's fiction book by a talented Australian author. This story had me turning the pages constantly. It is set in a fictitious seaside town in South Australia called Remarkable Bay and is in two different time periods. Back in the day 'Bayview' was a guest house where well-to-do families holidayed. The Allen family was one of them. The three sisters are all very different, but it will be the last time they are all together. 

Fast-forward to 2016:  Roma, who is the great-granddaughter of one of the Allen sisters, moves to Remarkable Bay and purchases 'Bayview' not knowing the history behind it. She needs something to work on to help recover from the recent tragic death of her husband. Her distant cousin Addy comes for a visit and decides to stay to help renovate the house, as she herself is running from an abusive relationship. After they discover the hidden guest book, Roma is on a mission to find out what happened to their great grandmother's other sister whom they didn't know existed.

The story bounces back and forth between the two time periods and also introduces secondary characters both plots who were very believable and feel like someone you would know yourself. I liked the way that the author left a couple of things to your imagination, and did drop some subtle clues throughout the book. This added to the enjoyment of it.

~ Janine


21.11.16

Hidden Killers

Hidden Killers by Lynda La Plante


Jane Tennison, a young, inexperienced WPC, learns the hard way never to take anyone, or anything, at face value, whether in her dealings with her police colleagues or when confronted by seemingly innocent suspects. 

Hidden Killers sees Jane acting as a 'decoy' prostitute, with the hope of capturing a suspect wanted for numerous sexual assaults. The attacker is drawn in and put under arrest. Commended for bravery in the case, Jane is given CID status and moves from Hackney to Bow Street Station as Detective. Her first call-out is to a non-suspicious death. The victim is a young mother, drowned tragically in her bath, leaving a bereft and doting husband and a young child. 

The two storylines interweave as Jane begins to doubt the evidence against her assailant in East London, and becomes certain that the young woman in the bath did not drown in tragic circumstances. Two entirely different cases but one common thread - the lingering doubt in Jane's mind around the evidence, and around her colleagues...


Why we love it:
She’s back again in book two in a series, the unforgettable female detective Jane Tennison, immortalised by actress Helen Mirren in the hit television show Prime Suspect.


Last year Tennison creator Lynda La Plante took us back to the 1970s, pre-Prime Suspect Days, with Tennison as a rookie cop in the novel Tennison. La Plante’s latest Hidden Killers takes us to 70s London again and wow, what a great job she does of transporting us back in time. And we can see how Jane Tennison became the woman we got to know in Prime Suspect – intelligent, observant, tenacious, and courageous.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

18.11.16

Resurrection Bay

Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic

Caleb Zelic is a profoundly deaf private investigator working in Melbourne. His partner is the ageing, recovering alcoholic Frankie, tough and caustic but with a somewhat maternal attitude to Caleb when she lets her guard down (not often). When Caleb discovers the gruesome murder of his childhood friend Gary, he embarks on a wild chase from the back streets of Melbourne to his and Gary’s hometown on the coast, Resurrection Bay.

Caleb is determined to find out who killed good guy and cop Gary, but the perpetrators think Caleb knows too much so it’s a case of whether he can get to them before they get to him. 

Viskic builds up the action and takes us on a thrilling ride through Melbourne, leading us to a nail-biting and tense conclusion. Her skilful characterisation of Caleb and other key players increases the stakes. Caleb is an original and truly likeable crime hero who tries to hide his deafness from the world and this frustrates the hell out of those closest to him, particularly Kat, with whom he is still in love.

It is not surprising that Resurrection Bay pulled in so many of Australia’s key crime awards this year, including winner of the 2016 Ned Kelly Award for Best First fiction and winner of the 2016 Davitt Award for Best Debut Novel, Best Adult Novel and the Readers’ Choice Award. It also won iBooks Australia’s Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2015.

~ Deb

17.11.16

Clara & Mr Tiffany

Clara & Mr Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

In 1893, Louis Comfort Tiffany makes his debut at the Chicago World Fair with his luminous and innovative stained glass windows. Behind the scenes in his NY studio, is the freethinking head of his women’s division, Clara Driscoll, who designs nearly all of the iconic lead glass Tiffany lamps. While Clara struggles with her desire for artistic recognition and the challenges of a professional woman, she also yearns for love and companionship, exploring several friendships amongst her artistic community. Eventually she must decide between her work, with a strict no married women policy and her heart.

Vreeland delves behind the artistic world to deliver a fascinating insight into the lives behind the artworks – highly recommended for lovers of historical storytelling at its best!  My only regret was while the descriptions of the inspirations, design and fabrication detail are great, including some illustrations of the finished works that were created throughout the story would have been a bonus!

~ Pru


16.11.16

Under the Harrow

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry

From the back cover:  When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder. 

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is distressed and in danger. As her fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognisable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller, ‘Under the Harrow’ explores the fierce love between two sisters and the terrifying power of the past. This was an easy-to-read tale of intrigue. Nora finds her sister, Rachel, brutally murdered in her home. Years earlier, Rachel had been assaulted, and the assailant, never caught. Nora and Rachel had spent years since, trying to find Rachel’s attacker, unhappy with the lack of police support. Nora wonders whether the attacker had now returned. Once again, she lacks confidence in police enforcement which leads to a dangerous situation of her doing her own investigation into her sister’s murder. As the story unfolds, secrets are revealed and characters unravel. The reader will be wondering just who to believe until the very end.  

~Narelle

15.11.16

Macavity Award

Mystery Readers International is the largest mystery fan/reader organisation in the world and open to all readers, fans, critics, editors, publishers, and writers. Started by Janet A. Rudolph in Berkeley, California, it now has members in all 50 of the United States and 18 foreign countries. Members vote each year to nominate and select the winners of the Macavity Award from titles published the previous year. The Macavity Award is named for the “mystery cat” of T.S. Eliot's Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. 


Best Mystery
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

Best First Mystery
Past Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton

Best Critical/Biographical
The Golden Age of Murder: the mystery of the writers who invented the modern detective story by Martin Edwards

~ Deb

14.11.16

The Birdman's Wife

The Birdman's Wife by Melissa Ashley

Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. This book at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man. 

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an ever-growing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into countless exotic new species, including Charles Darwin's Galapagos finches. In this book, a naive young girl who falls in love with an ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to the colonies to discover Australia's curious birdlife. This is an indelible portrait of an extraordinary woman overlooked by history until now.

This fictional story was inspired by letters from Elizabeth found tucked inside her famous husband's research.  It takes the form of an intimate memoir of a woman whose talent and adventurous spirit led her from the glittering salons of London to the wilds of Van Diemans land and New South Wales.

It’s the story of a significant but little-known historical figure, a woman previously overshadowed by her better-known husband, John Gould, who was often known as Australia’s first ornithologist or the ‘Bird Man’.  The novel shows how this talented woman became much more than an appendage to her husband. She was an accomplished artist in her own right and her ambitious husband needed her at his side. With naturalists and explorers discovering new species of animal life in the new world, John Gould needed to venture from London and after meeting Charles Darwin, decided to launch his own expedition...

Why we love it: The Birdman’s Wife is as gorgeously rendered as some of the stunning lithographs by artist Elizabeth Gould.

~ from The Team at Better Reading

11.11.16

American Heiress

American Heiress: the wild saga of the kidnapping, crimes and trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin


On February 4, 1974, 19 year old Patty Hearst, a student living in Berkely, California and granddaughter of American publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, was kidnapped by a group calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. 

The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.” Patty, one of the first and most famous examples of the “Stockholm syndrome” thereafter participated in the SLA’s robberies, bombings and lawlessness and was on the run from the authorities for 19 months, before being tried and found guilty of bank robbery. She later had her sentence commuted by President Jimmy Carter, and was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. 

These are the bare facts of the story, but do not convey it’s bizarre nature and ambiguity. The SLA was in fact a ragtag bunch of self-styled revolutionaries, totally disorganised and inept. The only thing they did have was a huge arsenal of guns, which they had no compunction in using. Was Patty won over to their cause, or did she only join in their illegal activities after being kept in a closet for weeks and threatened with death? This is the mystery which is still unanswered at the end of this engrossing tale.

~ Teresa

10.11.16

Six Under Eight

Six Under Eight by Madeleine West


The mother of all parenting diaries!

You've read parenting stories before but most parents are only managing a small brood; with six children, all under eight years old, actor Madeleine West (Neighbours, Satisfaction, Underbelly) can justifiably lay claim to having seen it all. 

In this hilarious and moving book, Madeleine takes us through a year of her life as a mother and shows us that it is possible to have a large family and keep your sanity, wisdom and sense of humour intact.

Madeleine West is a well known Australian actress whose partner is restauranteur and chef extrordinaire, Shannon Bennett. This memoir chronicles a year in her hectic life, with four kids, then finding she is pregnant with twins! 

It is a very honest, warts and all depiction of life as a mum trying to juggle lunch boxes, school runs, nappies and vomiting babies. She does have a part-time nanny (who wouldn't if you could afford it!) but generally does a lot on her own. 

As well as descriptions of their daily routines, which are chaotic to say the least, she is also trying to get back into acting in a part-time way if the opportunity comes up, one day having to get her eldest daughter (9) to hold the i-Phone and film Mum reading lines while kids run in and out of the picture and the twins start screaming in the background! Needless to say, she didn't get that role!

I found this to be quite a laugh out loud book at times, one that all Mums out there will be able to relate to. I take my hat off to her, as The Chef (her nickname for Shannon Bennett) seems to be generally absent around 200 out of 365 days per year, and when he is home is busy in his study checking emails. She does offer some parenting advice which is interspersed throughout the book based on her experience.  A most enjoyable read!

~ Janine

9.11.16

Prime Minister's Literary Awards

The winners of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards have been announced. Prizes were awarded in six categories including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, Australian history, children’s and young adult literature. The winning entries were selected from a shortlist of 30 exceptional books by some of Australia’s most well regarded authors with the Prime Minister making the final decision.

The winners are:


FICTION – JOINT WINNERS
The Life of Houses, Lisa Gorton 
The Natural Way of Things, Charlotte Wood

POETRY
The Hazards, Sarah Holland-Batt

NON-FICTION – JOINT WINNERS
On Stalin's Team: The years of Living Dangerously in Soviet Politics, Sheila Fitzpatrick
Thea Astley: Inventing her own Weather, Karen Lamb

AUSTRALIAN HISTORY – JOINT WINNERS
The Story of Australia's People, Geoffrey Blainey AC 
Let My People Go: The Untold Story of Australia and the Soviet Jews 1959-89, Sam Lipski AM, co-author, and Suzanne D Rutland OAM, co-author

For full details, visit http://www.minister.communications.gov.au/mitch_fifield/news/2016_prime_ministers_literary_awards_winners#.WCJjmvl95PY

~ Deb. 

8.11.16

Wrong side of goodbye

Harry Bosch is back in Michael Connelly's Wrong Side of Goodbye and he is on a very different journey, but with the same Harry Bosch dedication to the job.

From the blurb: "Unstoppable detective Harry Bosch returns in a new thriller from #1 bestselling author Michael Connelly. Harry Bosch is California's newest private investigator. He doesn't advertise, he doesn't have an office, and he's picky about who he works for, but it doesn't matter. His chops from 30 years with the LAPD speak for themselves. Soon one of Southern California's biggest moguls comes calling. The reclusive billionaire has less than six months to live and a lifetime of regrets. He hires Bosch to find out whether he has an heir. Using all of his cold case skills, Bosch pieces together a 65-year-old mystery and finds out that the case is not as simple--or cold--as he thought. California's newest private investigator, Harry Bosch, searches for a reclusive billionaire's possible heir, a case with odd links to his own past, and volunteers to find a serial rapist for a small cash-strapped police department."

Harry Bosch is an amazing character who has developed through many Michael Connelly novels and its amazing to continue that journey here in a new stage of his professional life.   The two main storylines that are covered in this novel, keep you engaged and guessing and wondering as to who the "bad guys" are and whether they will get away with it.

Corporate greed, loyalty, personal greed, revenge and much more tie in to the stories, told masterfully once more by Connelly. Bosch personal ethics and commitment are challenged, making this an all round story, not just a murder mystery.

You don't have to have read any of the Harry Bosch stories to enjoy this one, but I am sure that Bosch fans will and anyone else will find much to like in "Wrong Side of Goodbye".

~ Michelle

7.11.16

Delta Lady: a memoir

Delta Lady: a memoir by Rita Coolidge

She inspired songs - Leon Russell wrote "A Song for You" and "Delta Lady" for her; Stephen Stills wrote "Cherokee." She co-wrote songs - "Superstar" and, unaccredited, the piano coda to "Layla". She sang backup for Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker and Stills before finding fame as a solo artist with such hits as "We're All Alone" and "(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher and Higher".

Following her from Lafayette, Tennessee, to her becoming one of the most sought-after rock vocalists in Los Angeles in the 1970s, Delta Lady chronicles Rita Coolidge's fascinating journey through the '60s and '70s pop-rock universe.

I remember so well two-time Grammy award winner Rita's soulful voice on the songs she sang, and I own a copy of her top selling album 'Anytime Anywhere'. 

It was interesting to read her story and this memoir covers her life from when she was a child to her life today where she is still touring and singing. She tells about her times with Joe Cocker and was part of the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour; her relationship with Graham Nash where she had been unfairly blamed for breaking up Crosby, Stills & Nash - the group. Her tumultuous marriage to Kris Kristofferson where life imitated art, especially after his starring role in A Star is Born with Barbra Streisand, is also chronicled in this memoir. It was a time of sex, drugs and rock and roll in the 70s. I really enjoyed this book.'

- Janine


4.11.16

The Bone Collection

The Bone Collection is Kathy Reich's latest title in the Temperance Brennan series (also the basis for the Bones TV series).  However, as the title states, this is a collection, of four short novellas, but still about Tempe and some interesting issues and one backtrack to how she started working on criminal cases.

From the blurb: The No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs is renowned for suspense and fascinating forensic detail. Now she brings that same artistry to her first volume of collected short stories. In First Bones, a prequel to Reichs's very first novel, Deja Dead , she at last reveals how Tempe became a forensic anthropologist. In this never-before-published story, Tempe recalls the case that lured her from a promising career in academia into the grim but addictive world of criminal investigation. Three more stories take Tempe from the low country of the Florida Everglades, where she makes a grisly discovery in the stomach of an eighteen-foot Burmese python, to the heights of Mount Everest, where a frozen corpse is unearthed. No matter where she goes, Tempe's cases make for the most gripping reading. 

Apart from the prequel short story, the other three stories deal with puppy farms, the python plague in the Everglades and Nepali aid after their devastating earthquake.  Each story is over 10 chapters and includes a short word from the author after it, outlining where the inspiration for the story came from and how to help with the issue at hand.

Each story is a mini novel in itself and even though they are short, Reichs still brings her master storytelling into it and each one is a 'can't put it down' read.  She is imaginative in the ways that she tells and takes her storylines and I found it interesting that sometimes I could pick where she was taking things and other times I couldn't.  It was also very interesting in discovering the back story and seeing what Tempe was like, including her personal life, before she became "Bones".

For any Kathy Reichs fans, this is a must.  If you like mysteries with a different angle, this is highly recommended.  The Bone Collection is a good read and having four short novellas in it, makes reading it a bit easier.

~ Michelle

3.11.16

Map of Stars

Mat of Stars by Catherine Law

Kent, 1939.  Eliza is to be married to Nicholas, her companion since she was a child. But when the pair are involved in a car crash, Eliza is rescued by a stranger, Lewis Harper, whose stunning eyes she will never forget. 

As the war begins, Eliza's world begins to fall apart: her beloved brother Martyn is killed in action, and her once-beloved husband grows increasingly distant. And then, when her efforts to help the Dunkirk evacuees take her to the south coast, she spots a familiar pair of eyes. Torn between passion and duty, Eliza must choose whether to follow her conscience or her heart. 

But wartime has plenty of its own dangers, and with spies infiltrating even the country houses of Kent, Eliza must find the courage to serve her country in even the most heart-breaking circumstances. 


I enjoyed the author's note at the end where she detailed that this was based on a true story of a homing pigeon, trapped and mummified in a British chimney, which fell onto the hearth bearing a WWII message container on its leg - the message still intact but alas, some 20 years too late.

Although the book centres mainly on the war years' characters and the courage of those at home, holding the fort so to speak and doing amazing work with the underground and resistance, it covers three generations of women - Mathilde, Eliza's French mother, Eliza herself, and her daughter, Stella, who brings the Beatles and flower power to their 400-year old Elizabethan country manor.  

Just as in life there are some heart-melting moments in this book, both sad and wonderful, and I think this is why I enjoyed it so much.  Love and duty, codes and spies - this tear-jerking wartime saga is superior to most I've read in this genre. 

~ Deb


2.11.16

INVITATION - Special Author event!

Bill Robertson is a local Melbourne writer and this is his second novel. For a great night out, come and meet Bill at the Endeavour Hills Library on Monday 7th November, 7.00-8.30pm. Books will be available for sale and signing during the evening. This event is free to attend but bookings are essential online at www.tinyurl.com/cclcevents or phone Endeavour Hills Library on (03) 8782 3400.


Fox by Bill Robertson

From the cover:  Colin Fox is an enigma. Part Scottish, part Aboriginal, as a child he is caught up in the Stolen Generation. What follows is a period of abuse and sorrow but Fox’s innate sense of decency and justice sees him not only survive but become a respected SAS warrior.  However fate deals Fox another bitter blow with the murder of his adopted family. Bikie gangs, gun running, dog fighting, and a mind that is pure evil cross his path in his quest for justice. Ultimately, Fox decides on the only law he can trust – his own.

Bill Robertson, a retired Assistant Commissioner of the Victoria Police, draws on his depth of police experience and indigenous research to provide readers with an intriguing tale. He masterfully tells the story of Colin Fox, a courageous and resilient young man who lives between two cultures. After residing in a few missions in Western Australia then going walkabout, Fox became part of a boxing troupe by the age of seventeen - he was a great fighter. As fate would have it, he reacquaints with one of the few authority figures who ever showed sincere kindness to him as a child - Caroline Connors, a policewoman with the West Australian police. Caroline and her family became instrumental in Fox joining the army. He was a gallant and clever fighter who later becomes a lethal SAS warrior. During this tale, there are other dark forces at play and what unfolds is both numbing, intriguing and horrific. It is a tale of bravery, resilience, revenge and persecution to the highest order.

~ Narelle


31.10.16

Order to Kill

Order to Kill by Vince Flynn with Kyle Mills

This entry in the late Vince Flynn’s bestselling series, the first by Mills (who completed 2015’s The Survivor), pits CIA officer Mitch Rapp against Grisha Azarov, Russian president Maxim Krupin’s personal assassin, and for once Mitch isn’t the odds-on favorite. 

Krupin has an ingenious plan involving the theft of Pakistani nuclear warheads and the deployment of dirty bombs in Saudi Arabia’s oil fields. The goal is to destroy the Saudis’ capability and enhance Russia’s ability to fulfill the world’s need for oil. As always, foiling this scheme falls on Mitch’s legendary shoulders, and watching him go about his lethal business is just as compelling as when Flynn was doing the writing. Mitch has to deal with a tragic love interest, Leah; rescue his best friend, Scott Coleman; capture a stolen nuke; escape from ISIS-controlled Iraq; and defeat the most deadly foe he’s ever battled. No problem. Satisfied fans will hope that Mills will fulfill their continuing Mitch Rapp needs far into the future.

Why we love it: CIA operative Mitch Rapp is back and about to go deep, deeper than ever before. But when the mission is to go under cover as an American terror recruit, will he make it back in one piece? Or – literally – lose his head? Kyle Mills seamlessly picks up where the late Vince Flynn left off, taking readers on a thrilling, spook ride that skids through Russian conspiracies deep into ISIS territory, without pausing for breath.

~ The Team at Better Reading

28.10.16

Atomic Thunder

Atomic thunder: the Maralinga story by Elizabeth Tynan

In September 1956 the first atomic test was conducted at Maralinga in South Australia by the British, six years after the Australian Prime Minister of the time, Robert Menzies, agreed to be the Britain’s guinea pig to see what effects atomic explosions would have on the land and the people who inhabited it. At the time virtually nothing was known of the damage nuclear bombs could cause, but Menzies was nevertheless willing to give the “Mother Country” carte blanche to see what would happen. 

The resulting desolation of the landscape, displacement of Indigenous peoples and crippling diseases contracted by servicemen who worked at Maralinga are positively scandalous. It took many years for the cover-up to be exposed and some measure of restitution to be instigated, yet there are still old men suffering from their involvement in the tests and the land is to this day poisoned and uninhabitable.

This is a shocking story but one every Australian should know about.

~ Teresa


27.10.16

Man Booker Prize

Man Booker Prize 2016

Paul Beatty has become the first American writer to win the £50,000 Man Booker prize for a caustic satire on US racial politics that judges said put him up there with Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift.

The 54-year-old Los Angeles-born writer won for The Sellout, a laugh-out-loud novel whose main character wants to assert his African American identity by, outrageously and transgressively, bringing back slavery and segregation.


Beatty has admitted readers might find it a difficult book to digest but the historian Amanda Foreman, who chaired this year’s judging panel, said that was no bad thing.

“Fiction should not be comfortable,” Foreman said. “The truth is rarely pretty and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon … that is why the novel works.

“While you’re being nailed, you’re being tickled. It is highwire act which he pulls off with tremendous verve and energy and confidence. He never once lets up or pulls his punches. This is somebody writing at the top of their game.”


~ Deb

26.10.16

Zodiac

Zodiac by Sam Wilson

In a society divided along Zodiac lines, status is cast at birth – and binding for life. Who you are can be determined by a matter of days, hours, even minutes.

When a series of uniquely brutal murders targets victims from totally different signs, is it misguided revolution or the work of a serial killer? Even for the most experienced detectives, every once in a while a murder can shake them to the core. Like when the Chief of Police is killed in his own home.

They may disagree over whether the answers are written in the stars, but they are united by their belief that a grand plan is being executed ...

I approached this book in two minds ... it had the potential to be total trash or something else.  I think I'm heading more for the "something else" side of the scale.

I found it startlingly laugh out loud at times - the sheer nonsense of it all, like this:  "... she said in her Libran accent". How the hell you can gain an accent via astrology is mind boggling! The outrage that if you're an Aries you should only live in a certain part of town! That Aquarians are creative whack jobs who will never be considered for 'serious professions'! That a mother will undergo a C-section to avoid a child being born a certain star sign! "Oh god, darling, we don't want him being a Virgo!". It's all so laughable.  But ... 

Within this world, murders take place. The rich are Capricorn. The entire police force is Taurus. The 'enemy' is the sign most despised  - Aries, who by birthdate, education, and ghetto living, are doomed to a life of struggle, despair and prejudice. There is an uprising from the repressed, atrocities are committed ... Are you getting a terrible sensation of deja vu?  It's all familiar; brutality, segregation, brainwashing, murder, corruption, power and control.  

And it's all been done before, in life and in fiction, but never under a starry cloak like this. Zodiac is a clever crime thriller but in a really cringe-worthy way. 

~ Deb.


25.10.16

Girl in Hyacinth Blue

Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland

A professor invites a colleague from the art department to his home to view a painting he has kept secret for decades - Girl in Hyacinth Blue. The professor swears it's a Vermeer, but why exactly has he kept it hidden so long? The reasons unfold in a gripping sequence of stories that trace ownership of the work back to Amsterdam during World War II and still further to the moment of the painting's inception. Each story is a luminous evocation of Dutch life, featuring people who have been touched by the painting’s seductive beauty and mystery, and whose defining moments take place in its presence.

This is a quiet novel about a Vermeer painting; each chapter goes back in time with each owner and their story until the moment he painted it. I found some chapters more engaging than others but a fabulous idea! Recommended for art lovers!

~ Pru


24.10.16

With Love from the Inside

With Love from the Inside by Angela Pisel

Grace Bradshaw knows the exact minute she will die. On death row for murdering her infant son, her last breath will be taken on February 15 at 12:01 a.m. Eleven years, five months, and twenty-seven days separate her from the last time she heard her precious daughter's voice and the final moment she'd heard anyone call her Mom. 

Out of appeals, she can focus on only one thing - reconnecting with her daughter and making sure she knows the truth. Secrets lurk behind Sophie Logan's big house and even bigger bank account. Every day when she kisses her husband good-bye, she worries her fabricated life is about to come crumbling down. No one knows the unforgivable things her mother did to tear her family apart - not her husband, who is a prominent plastic surgeon, or her "synthetic" friends who live in her upscale neighbourhood. 

Grace's looming execution date forces Sophie to revisit the traumatic events that haunted her childhood. When she returns to her hometown, she discovers new evidence about her baby brother William's death seventeen years ago - proof that might set her mother free but shatter her marriage forever. Sophie must quickly decide if her mother is the monster the prosecutor made her out to be or the loving mother she remembers - before their time runs out.

With Love From the Inside by Angela Pisel captured my attention from the synopsis, but the story is so much more. Grace and Sophie (her daughter) tell their stories in alternate chapters. Grace maintains her innocence while sitting on death row and Sophie is trying to put her past behind her. Sophie has not seen her mother for years, and is now married to a successful surgeon from a prominent family - all of whom know nothing about Sophie's family. Sophie receives news from her attorney that her mother is going to be executed. She returns to her childhood home to try to find out the truth and see her mother one more time. 

This was a very emotional and thought-provoking story which kept me turning the pages. What Sophie discovers will tear at your heartstrings; it's hard to believe this was a debut novel. With Love from the Inside will appeal to readers of women's fiction and those who enjoy mother/daughter relationship stories.  Highly recommended, five stars from me.

~ Janine



19.10.16

Jane Austen Writers' Club

The Jane Austen Writers' Club by Rebecca Smith

Jane Austen is one of the most beloved writers in the English literary canon. Her novels changed the landscape of fiction forever, and her writing remains as fresh, entertaining and witty as the day her books were first published. 

Bursting with useful exercises, beautiful illustrations and enlightening quotations from the classic author's novels and letters - and written by none other than Austen's five-times-great-niece - this book will teach you her methods, tips and tricks, from techniques of plotting and characterisation through to dialogue and suspense. 

Whether you're a creative writing enthusiast looking to publish your first novel, a teacher searching for further inspiration for students, or fan seeking insight into Austen's daily rituals, this is an essential companion, guaranteed to satisfy, inform and delight.

We don’t need to tell you how many spin-offs of Austen’s works there are –  some of them are wonderful works in their own right, others less so. But Rebecca Smith’s The Jane Austen Writers' Club: Inspiration and Advice from the World’s Best-Loved Novelist is another worthy addition. This time it’s not a work of fiction, but as evident from the title, it’s a creative writing guide.

Using her comprehensive knowledge of Austen’s works and surviving letters, Smith has created a series of interesting chapters examining many of the different aspects of a writer’s toolbox – plot, character, place, dialogue, point of view. Smith has constructed a delightfully user-friendly and enjoyable guide on the art of novel writing.

Why we love it: Another book inspired by the one of the world’s best-loved authors, Jane Austen? Don’t roll your eyes – for this is a must-read for any budding writer, who will find invaluable gems of advice, as well as compelling reading.

~from The Team at Better Reading

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