Feed aggregator

Man Booker Prize 2015

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Novelist Marlon James has become the first Jamaican author to win the Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings. The book, a fictional account of the attempted assassination of Jamaican reggae singer/song writer/musician - Bob Marley, is set amid political upheaval in Kingston in the late 1970s.

James received £50,000 (about $76,000 US) for the prize. The Man Booker Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in literature, awarded to a novel written in English and since 2014, to a writer of any nationality. According to Michael Wood, the chair of the judges, this year’s decision was unanimous.


Australia's Second Chance

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Australia’s Second Chance: what our history tells us about our future by George Megalogenis

George Megalogenis is one of my favourite Australian authors, so when his latest book came across my desk I pounced on it, and was not disappointed. In it, George expands on his theory that we first glimpsed in his previous book and in the recent documentary DVD which he narrated,“The Australian Moment”. He argues that immigration was the source of Australia’s past economic and social achievements, and will be in the future if only we acknowledge and build on it. 

Going right back to Governor Arthur Phillip and concluding with the present turbulence concerning “boat people”, George uses his awesome knowledge of Australian history, politics and economics to demonstrate how Australia’s place among the highest income per capita nations was due to our welcoming great waves of immigrants - from the gold rushes to the post WWII period and through to the latest arrivals from our Asian neighbourhood. He warns that shutting off this movement would condemn us to cultural and economic poverty. You may say it’s dry stuff, but George’s writing makes it engaging, even compelling. This book is a must for anyone interested in Australian history and society!


Arthur Gardiner - Soldier, bushman and good "sport"

Links to our Past - history -

I found this interesting article in the Dandenong Advertiser of March 15, 1917. It's interesting because it talks about a few different local towns and areas and because it harks back to the time when this area was all rural and people had to live off the land to survive and when the hunting of native animals was accepted. It also reflects the importance of the British Empire - when bushman like Arthur would join up to fight for the Empire in South Africa - which naturally reflected the time this article was written when other men were also fighting for the Empire - this time in the Great War. So here is the story of Arthur Gardiner - soldier, bushman and good 'sport'. I have transcribed the article, with original spelling. 
Dandenong Advertiser March 15, 1917http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88657071

The above is a reproduction of a photo of Mr Arthur Gardiner, of Main Street, Pakenham, where he has a thriving butchering business. In his younger days he was in business in the wilds of Gembrook, long before the "iron horse" traversed the beautiful scenery between Fern Tree Gully and Gembrook terminus (and some of the finest scenery in Australia  is to be found in this popular health resort, which is now studded with cosey bungalows and week-end homes) As a "full private" Arthur went right through the Boer War and you can bet your life he played the Boers' game  in getting through rough country, his youthful experience in the Woori Yallock, Upper Yarra, Beenak and Tonimbuk country standing him in good stead. In the "gold old days" when protection was not in vogue, kangaroo. wallaby, wombat and other vermin paid tribute to his skill and mountain lakes and streams contributed to the results of his duck gun and fishing rod, the latter consisting of  a tea -tree stick and  a line  without a floater and an old nut bolt as a sinker. Only quite recently he took a party of four into the wilds of some "wayback  country" and he had to cut a trail half-a mile in length through briars, thistles, stinging nettles, tangled vines and tiger snakes to get to the little rivulet which could be jumped across and they bagged 1 1/2 cwt of blackfish,  ranging from 1lb to 3lbs and 4lbs each . Dingoes, wallabies, wombats and black cockatoo were to be seen in plenty and some of the dingoes gave their last dismal howl.  The photo depicts 'Little Arthur" (he is 6ft long) -  the soldier hunter after  a day when permission was given to hunt deer in the Kooweerup Swamp, where their depredations had ruined many crops. His faithful dogs, Spot and Brindle, are at his feet and the trusty rifle in held in his right hand. The trophy shows one of the finest buck's heads in Victoria and is on view at Mr Gardiner's shop. It is valued at 15 guineas. We are indebted to Mr Rushton, photographer, Pakenham, for the original photo from which this plate is taken.

This is the photograph which accompanied the article. It's  a very poor copy, sorry.
What else do we know about Arthur? His full name was Arthur Joseph Gardiner. The National Archives of Australia has his enlistment paper (part of Series B4418) His Regimental number was 478 and he was part of the Second Australian Commonwealth Horse (Vic) Unit. He enlisted on January 7, 1902 and he was 22 years of age and a Surveyor's Assistant. He was born in Berwick.  His next of kin was his father - James Gardiner of Berwick. He was listed as being 5 feet, 8 inches tall - a few inches less that the 6 feet which was said to be his height in the article. Perhaps his work as a Surveyor's Assistant helped him playing the Boers' game  in getting through rough country. 

Arthur's enlistment paper from the National Archives of Australia. www.naa.gov.au

However it appears that he had enlisted, around April 1900, previously in Tasmania as a Trooper (Regimental Number 55)in the Tasmanian Contingent. If you are interested in Boer War soldiers then the Australians in the Boer War website is a good source of information - this is the website http://members.pcug.org.au/~croe/ozb/oz_boer0.htm


Reading Rewards - reviews -

Bird by Sophie Cunningham.

To her lovers and friends, Anna Davidoff was a mystery. Beautiful, charismatic, irresponsible yet disarming; famous, in a way, but ultimately unknowable. To her daughter, she is no less an enigma even now, thirty years after her death. Of course Ana-Sofia knows the stories of Anna's unlikely transformations. How the young post-war refugee from a devastated Soviet Union became a Hollywood starlet, a muse to jazz greats, a friend of the Beats - and along the way a heroin addict. How later, ordained as a Buddhist nun, she died alone in a Himalayan cave at the age of forty-three. The stories, too, are famous. But now Ana-Sofia is the same age Anna was when she died. Successful, content, single in New York City and hopeful of new love. But Anna has begun to haunt her. 

This book is based on a true story.  It is an emotional journey into some fascinating times, but ultimately I got lost among the female characters and their perspectives and didn’t really enjoy the whole Buddhist thing – it just didn’t seem right! 


Our Zoo

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Our Zoo by June Mottershead

George Mottershead's ambition since childhood had been to open a zoo without bars. In 1930 he moved his family, including his four-year-old daughter June, to a property called Oakfield at Upton near Chester in England hoping that this would be the place to fulfil his dream. 

June's book chronicles her early years at the zoo, the struggles with local authorities, efforts to house and feed the continuously expanding stream of animals, to draw in the public and just to make ends meet. The zoo managed to keep open during the Second World War and began a huge period of expansion afterwards. June's parents and grandparents, working class people with very little money to fall back on, were extremely dedicated people who worked every day for very little financial reward, but her father in particular had amazing drive and vision and has had a huge impact on the way zoos are run today. 

Chester zoo is now one of the world’s top zoos and a leader in conservation of species. June and her husband were both keepers there for most of their working lives and her children and grandchildren have been involved as well. 

The story of Chester Zoo's early years has been made into a TV series and though June, now in her 80's, enjoyed the series she wanted to tell the real story with all its highs and lows and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.  



Reading Rewards - reviews -

Orient by Christopher Bollen.

Orient, seated at the toe of the north leg of Long Island, ebbs and flows with the seasons. When the days start to grow, the first SUVs begin to roll in, filled with beach towels, croquet sets, and the summering multitudes of nearby New York City. But when the season reaches its close and the swell recedes, a town remains in its wake. Mills Chevern rode into town in Paul Benchley's passenger seat on that last day of summer. Who is this foster kid? Where did he come from? Why did Paul, that nice, lonely, middle-aged neighbour bring him to the quiet streets? It's not long after Mills rolls in that all hell breaks loose: the local handyman is found bloated to bursting in the bay, an elderly neighbour is discovered face-down in her garage, and a grotesque creature washes up on shore. As the town swarms with fear, Mills (we're certain that's not his real name) finds himself the chief suspect in a riddle of violent deaths, one he must solve before his own time runs out.

Why We Love It:

It’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil meets Jonathan Franzen.  While the whodunnit mystery will keep you guessing until the very last pages, it’s the dissection of small town American life that had us truly hooked – for all 600 pages.

Orient beautifully captures the angst, desperation, innocence and dark side of small town life. It’s the second novel by Christopher Bollen.

from the team at Better Reading

Vale Henning Mankell

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Swedish author Henning Mankell has passed away, aged 67. The author discovered he had cancer last year, and wrote about the experience in his last book, Quicksand: What It Means To Be A Human Being. 

Mankell delighted fans with more than 40 novels, plays and children's books, selling about 40 million copies around the world, earning several awards for his children’s and youth books, among others the Nils Holgersson Plaque (A Bridge to the Stars), Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (A Bridge to the Stars), the August Prize (The Journey to the End of the World), the Astrid Lindgren Award and Expressen’s children’s book award (When the Snow Fell). 

His best-selling adult novels, which follow policeman Kurt Wallander through Sweden and Mozambique, were turned into a TV drama starring Sir Kenneth Branagh.


The House We Grew Up In

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-coloured house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Way back in 2005, I read a book by this author called One Hit Wonder and rated it one of my top reads of that year, which is why I picked this one off the shelf, despite the saccharine-sounding introductory para in the publisher’s blurb. 

And while The House We Grew Up In won’t make my best-reads-this-year list, it was absorbing and kept me listening, mainly because the main character, Lorelei, suffers from something I’ve never really considered before ... Hoarding.  Hoarding stuff, to the point where there are literally tunnels between the mountains of stuff as a way of getting from one room to another.  Or not - one room’s door cannot be opened because the mountain has collapsed inside the room.  The bed is not slept in because it can’t be found under mounds of ‘stuff’.  The family is fracturing under the weight of Lorelei’s disorder and this is what makes up the bulk of the story, but it’s not the tragedy alluded to, that’s something else altogether, and I’m not going to spoil it for you here. 

The House We Grew Up In is very well written, and I must say narrated brilliantly by Karina Fernandez in this Playaway audio format.  We have the book in all audio formats plus regular and large print copies. 


Sweet Caress

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Sweet Caress by William Boyd 

When Amory Clay was born her disappointed father gave her an androgynous name and announced the birth of a son. From this inauspicious start springs an entirely remarkable woman. Born in 1908, Amory survives two world wars, the first of which alters her father forever. As a schoolgirl, she learns the art of photography from her maternal uncle Greville, a talent that shapes her life.

After an unforeseen event splits her family in two, Amory finishes school and moves to London to work as an assistant to Greville, society photographer and kindred spirit. During this time, she grows from silly schoolgirl into a disgraced photographer working anonymously after causing a scandal with an embarrassing photograph.

Escaping London, Amory heads to Berlin where she meets another female photographer, Hannelore Hahn, and they begin a lifelong friendship. In pre-war Berlin her career begins in earnest; no longer photographing society belles, she starts taking secret photographs at brothels, which forms a London exhibition that sees her charged with obscenity.

Fleeing from London again, Amory takes up an offer from a handsome American, Cleveland Finzi, and relocates to New York to become a photographer with magazine Global Photo Watch. While in America, her real sexual awakening begins and she is caught between Finzi (a married man) and a charming French novelist.

Throughout the novel, Amory documents the action, everything from the fascist riots in London’s East End, to the advance of the US Seventh Army through France in World War 2, to the Vietnam War. Her first-person narration provides fascinating insight into major historical events, while touching on themes such as war, post-traumatic stress disorder, homosexuality, and infertility.

Why We Love It: 
William Boyd takes us on a sweeping journey through the twentieth century. While not always sympathetic, Amory is a woman ahead of her time and someone readers can relate to. The photography found throughout the novel is a captivating innovation employed for the first time by Boyd and gives us further insight into Amory’s life and work. Blending historical fact with fiction, and using found photographs to illustrate the text, Boyd captures the imaginations of his readers once again.

from the team at Better Reading

Aussie wins UK Gold Dagger

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Australian author Michael Robotham has taken out the coveted UK's Crime Writers Association top award, the Gold Dagger, for his latest novel, Life or Death. The Crime Writers’ Association Daggers have been synonymous with quality crime writing for over fifty years. The prestigious awards started in 1955; currently ten Daggers are awarded annually by the CWA, with the crime novel of the year receiving the Gold Dagger.

Sydney-sider Robotham was up against some heavy-weight opposition on the short list, comprising:

Stephen King - Mr Mercedes
Belinda Bauer - The Shut Eye
Robert Galbraith - The Silkworm
James Carlos Blake - The Rules of Wolfe
Sam Hawken - Missing
Attica Locke - Pleasantville.

Michael Robotham Tweeted last week ...

"Big week ahead. LIFE OR DEATH is shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. I'm up against my hero Stephen King among others. Dreaming of a joint win."

And today on Twitter ...
"I've only gone and won the CWA Gold Dagger. J.K. Rowling was among the first to congratulate me. What a classy lady."

Congratulations. Take a look at the author chatting about this book ...


Shanghai Girls

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

From the catalogue: Shanghai, 1937. Pearl and May are two sisters from a bourgeois family. Though their personalities are very different, Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid, they are inseparable best friends. Both are beautiful, modern and living a carefree life until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away the family's wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to two 'Gold Mountain' men: Americans. 

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, the two sisters set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the villages of southern China, in and out of the clutches of brutal soldiers, and even across the ocean, through the humiliation of an anti-Chinese detention centre to a new, married life in Los Angeles' Chinatown. Here they begin a fresh chapter, despite the racial discrimination and anti-Communist paranoia, because now they have something to strive for: a young, American-born daughter, Joy. 

Along the way there are terrible sacrifices, impossible choices and one devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of the novel hold fast to who they are, Shanghai girls.

I really loved this book. It gave me an indication of how things were at that time, lots of historical facts and descriptions. The author did her research well! I am looking forward to listening to the sequel "Dreams of Joy" to continue their story. 

We have this title in paperback and large print formats but I listened to this on audio. The narrator, Janet Song, was wonderful! 


Mobile Library services

Links to our Past - history -

Every week the Mobile Library visits 11 different stops in the Cardinia Shire. The area has had a Mobile Library since 1973 and probably the peak of the service was in the late 1970s/early 1980s because as more Library Branches were built the need for mobile libraries lessened. If you are old enough then you would remember mobile libraries being referred to 'the bus library' as that's what it was - a bus full of books.

Library services in this area were provided for many years by the Dandenong Valley Regional Library Service (DVRLS) which commenced on March 9, 1973. This was a co-operative venture and it served the Shires of Pakenham and Cranbourne and the Cities of Berwick, Dandenong and Springvale. In 1973,  the DVRLS began its mobile service but the individual Councils soon realised that to gain better coverage of their area they should purchase their own vehicle. Thus in  November 1976 the Cranbourne Shire purchased a Library book mobile - the number of stops went from 4 to 15 and the number of loans went from  around 16, 500 in 1974 to 85, 500 in 1977*  a phenomenal increase which showed that people were interested in Library services.

In 1980/1981 the Berwick Pakenham Mobile visited 24 places per fortnight; the Cranbourne Mobile 15 places per fortnight and the Springvale Mobile  20 places per fortnight. This map, from the 1980/81 DVRLS Annual Report shows the branch Libraries and the bookmobile sites.

This is also from the DVRLS Annual Report 1980/1981 and shows the address of each stop and the circulation figures. 

The Cranbourne Shire Mobile timetable in 1984.

In 1987 the City of Berwick ceased Mobile Library Services due to opening of the  Endeavour Library in the May. This meant that the municipality now had static branches (as we like to call them) at Doveton, Narre Warren (in Malcolm Court) and Endeavour Hills.

This is the Mobile at Endeavour Hills in 1979.
As early as 1984 there was concern at the age over the age of the Mobiles in Pakenham and Cranbourne, by then they were both over 10 years old and the Annual Report says a decision  needs to be made as to whether Pakenham and Cranbourne each plan to buy a new bookmobile or  a large vehicle is purchased jointly and shared.  As it was it was not until April 1991 that Cranbourne purchased a new articulated vehicle and less than a year later in January 1992 Pakenham also purchased an articulated vehicle - by that we mean a prime mover and  a trailer. The new vehicles increased loans - Cranbourne loans went from 43,300 to 54,100 in the first full year of operation and Pakenham Mobile loans increased 50 per cent in the first eight months of operation.

This is the Cranbourne Mobile in 1993
The Cranbourne Mobile service ceased in December 1995, following the Council amalgamations of the previous year and the loss of most of its territory to Frankston City Council. Another consequence of the council reform was the disaggregation of the DVRLS as the  newly created City of Greater Dandenong (the old Cities of Dandenong and Springvale) withdrew from the DVRLS in 1995 and so the Casey Cardinia Library Service was created on October 1, 1996,  with the newly created City of Casey and Cardinia Shire.
The Cardinia Shire has continued on with the Mobile Library - a new trailer was purchased in 1999 and it was refurbished in April 2010. The opening of the new Emerald Library in July 2006 meant that the mobile no longer had to visit the township, but Maryknoll became a new mobile stop as did a second visit to Bunyip on the Saturday morning. A new prime mover was purchased in June 2013. Incidentally, in spite of the fact that it is a very urbanised and that traditionally Mobiles service rural areas, the City of Greater Dandenong didn't close down its mobile library service until about 2007. If you want an historical view of the townships the Cardinia Mobile stops at click here.

Want You Dead

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Want You Dead by Peter James
Roy Grace Crime Series #10

From the cover:  When Red Westwood meets Bryce Laurent through an online dating agency, there is an instant attraction.  But as their love blossoms, the truth about his past beings to emerge. Everything he has told Red about himself turns out to be lies and her infatuation with him gradually turns to terror.  But Bryce is obsessed, and he intends to destroy everything and everyone she has ever known – and then her too …

I think I’ve stumbled across this series before because I recall quite liking Det. Roy Grace.  And the fact that even though this is a long-evolving series, you can pretty much read them like a stand-alone novel, though one thread is still continuing – Roy’s missing wife, Sandy.  

Don’t let the “online dating agency” bit bother you because it hardly rears its ugly head thank goodness.  This is basically a story of a narcissist’s revenge, and it’s one hell of a ride.  Despite at times wishing Red wasn’t quite so blind (what is glaringly obvious to us is not to her) – it is a gripping, stomach-clenching read and very well done in maintaining and upping the suspense.  I borrowed the Playaway which was very well narrated by Dan Weyman, but we have this title in all hard print and other audio formats.  I'm looking forward to borrowing the 11th in the series when it is released. 


The Martian

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Martian by Andy Weir

After being blown away by a ferocious wind storm, astronaut Mark Watney is presumed dead by his crew mates and left behind when they are forced to evacuate the planet.

From the back cover:  “I'm stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I'm in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I'll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I'll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I'll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I'll eventually run out of food and starve to death.
So yeah. I'm screwed.”

The Martian is not your typical science fiction novel – there are no aliens or futuristic robots, just an advanced space shuttle which is most likely on the drawing boards at NASA today.  This is a gripping survival thriller, which just happens to be set on Mars.

Andy Weir is a self-confessed science geek who self-published “The Martian” a few years ago. The book rights were sold to a main stream publisher, and within the same week, the film rights were sold. The film, starring Matt Damon as Mark Watney, was released last week. I’m looking forward to seeing it, but here’s hoping I haven’t spoiled it for myself by reading the fantastic novel first! 
Fingers crossed.


Splinter the silence

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I was very keen to catch up with Val McDermid's latest book "Splinter the silence" because I wanted to see how the ongoing storyline across the series would develop.  "Splinter the silence" is the next in the Tony Hill series, following the profiler and his work with Bradfield Police.

But first, there was a murder to solve.  Or was there?

"Psychological profiler Tony Hill is trained to see patterns, to decode the mysteries of human behaviour, and when he comes across a series of suicides among women tormented by vicious online predators, he begins to wonder if there is more to these tragedies than meets the eye. Similar circumstances, different deaths. Could it be murder? But what kind of serial killer wants his crimes to stay hidden? Former DCI Carol Jordan has her own demons to confront, but with lives at stake, Tony and Carol begin the hunt for the most dangerous and terrifying kind of killer - someone who has nothing to fear and nothing to lose . . ."

Val McDermid is great at getting you into the lives of the characters she writes.  I was fully engaged with the things they went through, upset when it went wrong, happy when something good came out of it and sympathetic at the fallout for others as a result.  Sound mysterious?  You'll have to read it yourself to find out what I am talking about.  :)

The mystery side came to a nearly sudden conclusion, with it all coming together within a short time, however, McDermid did manage to do so whilst only brushing against my suspension of disbelief.
This part alone was unsettling, but not unsatisfying and overall I really enjoyed the story, the whole concept of the mystery and the journey she took the characters on.  And there are some lovely lighter moments in there too to watch for and delight in.

If you like Val McDermid or the TV series Wire in the Blood, you will enjoy "Splinter the silence". If you enjoy forensic type mysteries, then I encourage you to get into this series.

~ Michelle

Only in Spain

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Only in Spain by Nellie Bennett

One day, Nellie Bennett falls in love with flamenco in a Sydney dance studio. Tired of her boring retail job and longing to get closer to the authentic experience, she packs her suede dance shoes and travels to Seville, Spain. What Nellie didn't realize is that flamenco is not just a dance; it's a way of life. While there, she falls in love three times-with a smoky-eyed dance teacher, a tempestuous Gypsy, and with a handsome Basque chef-only to discover that it's the country that's held her heart all along

Although this is a memoir, it's also a witty passionate story of romance and discovery. 

When she was in her early twenties Nellie discovered flamenco dance and travelled to Spain to further her studies at the birthplace of flamenco, Seville. She soon fell in love with all things Spanish, and moved to Madrid, where she learnt to dance from the neighborhood gypsies. 

Nellie Bennett grew up in Sydney, Australia. She has worked as a screenwriter in both Australia and Bollywood, and contributed feature articles to The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald. 



Reading Rewards - reviews -

Hopscotch by Jane Messer

Forced into an early retirement due to illness, Sam Rosen has lost any semblance of control over his life. His wife, Rhonda, confined to the carer role, is feeling her identity ebb slowly away as her former life retreats further and further into the past. Their eldest son Mark is over-invested and as he lurches towards financial disaster, he can't bring himself to tell his wife Ingrid that they're losing money fast. Middle child Liza has always been independent and content to scrape through on her child-care worker's wage in one of the most expensive property markets in the world. But when her biological clock goes off, she's out of time in a city where men are thin on the ground and grown-up ones even scarcer. Baby of the family Jemma thinks that being mild-mannered will let her pass through life unharmed. And then, one night, everything changes.

This contemporary read held me to the end with its humour and insights. The Rosen kids have grown up and left home living independent lives in their own ways.  Their parents are bumbling by, adjusting to Sam’s diagnosis. Each character is very clearly defined; their thoughts, loves, desires and errors are beautifully described. All of them are slightly different at the end of the book from who they were at the start. Each one has been transformed in some small way. Hopscotch is self contained yet doesn’t try to resolve the minutiae of the Rosen family’s experiences. There are a few little loose threads left for the reader to tie how they wish. This was a really enjoyable read.


The need for good literature at the Front

Casey-Cardinia 1914-1918: the Great War -

An interesting article from the Lang Lang Guardian of September 29, 1915 about the need for suitable literature for our soldiers at the Front. The Reverend H. de Putron Hitchcock, the Anglican Minister,  knew from experience that when a squad of men got together that they were apt to talk about what had better be left unsaid. Therefore good literature would keep the soldier's minds pure and clean. We have met the Reverend de Putron Hitchcock before in this blog - he helped to celebrate the first ANZAC Day commemorations in Lang Lang and Yallock in April 1916. Read about it here

Lang Lang Guardian September 29, 1915http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119512947

The Cellar

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Cellar by Minette Walters

Muna's fortunes changed for the better on the day that Mr and Mrs Songoli's younger son failed to come home from school. Before then her bedroom was a dark windowless cellar, her activities confined to cooking and cleaning. She'd grown used to being maltreated by the Songoli family. She's never been outside, doesn't know how to read or write, and cannot speak English. At least that's what the Songolis believe. But Muna is far cleverer, and her plans more terrifying than the Songolis, or anyone else, can ever imagine.

“This book is a Hammer Horror novella”.  Not sure what that is? Me neither, so I did some sleuthing ...

“Working in association with Hammer Films, Hammer publishes compelling and intelligent horror in the form of film tie-ins, backlist classics re-imagined to bring them to a whole new market with a modern and sophisticated twist, and new novellas by established authors…” in this case, the award-winning English author, Minette Walters.  

I downloaded the title from our catalogue and was immediately impressed with talented narration by Sara Powell - her African/English/male/female accents bringing a stomach-clenching atmosphere to the text.  And I think that about sums up the positives!  The very graphic contents I found disturbing.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it certainly was not slavery, physical beatings, sexual abuse, bullying, revenge and murder.  I also found Muna’s playing the family members off against one another in a manipulative manner quite unsettling; and if that's not enough, the ending seemed to be rushed and confused.

I don’t know if this book actually fits the Hammer Horror genre (aside from the horror of what humans can do to degrade each other). Although Muna believes there’s a Devil in the walls of the cellar, that never really hits its stride to make this a horror novel. Is it "Compelling?  Intelligent?"  I don't think so.    

Minette Walters’ first full-length novel was The Ice House, published in 1992. It took two and a half years to write and was rejected by numerous publishing houses until Macmillan Publishers bought it for £1250. Within four months, it had won the Crime Writers Association John Creasey award for best first novel and had been snapped up by 11 foreign publishers. With her next two books, The Sculptress and The Scold’s Bridle, Walters won the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and the CWA Gold Dagger respectively, giving her a unique treble. She was the first crime/thriller writer to win three major prizes with her first three books.

Perhaps one of these may erase my distaste, but I’m just not ready to jump in yet – a definite change of pace is required!!


After the Storm

Reading Rewards - reviews -

After the Storm by Linda Castillo

From the cover:  When a tornado tears through Painters Mill and unearths human remains, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder finds herself tasked with the responsibility of identifying the bones – and notifying the family. Evidence quickly emerges that the death was no accident and Kate finds herself plunged into a thirty-year-old case that takes her deep into the Amish community to which she once belonged.
Meanwhile, turmoil of a emotional and personal nature strikes at the very heart of Kate’s budding relationship with State Agent John Tomasetti, a reality that strains their fragile new love to the breaking point and threatens the refuge they’ve built for themselves – and their future.
Under siege from an unknown assailant – and her own personal demons – Kate digs deep into the case only to discover proof of an unimaginable atrocity, a plethora of family secrets, and the lengths to which people will go to protect their own.

Two things intrigued and attracted me to this story. Firstly imagine a natural disaster and amongst all the carnage, a body being discovered, totally unrelated to the tornado itself. Secondly imagine yourself as a female police officer, former Amish community member now alienated from that community, trying to enlist their assistance to solve a mysterious death.

This is just the start of what became a thrilling, horrific and intriguing tale of murderous proportions. The tornado at the start just sets the scene for the carnage and violence to follow. The title ‘After the Storm’ is very apt with storms brewing in Kate’s life both professionally and personally. 

It is the seventh book in the Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo, but don’t be put off by this. The reader is not required to have read the other books first. It is fine as a stand-alone read. But reader beware, you may just want to read the others when you realise the fine tale that Linda Castillo puts together with her heroine, Kate Burkholder!

~ Narelle


Subscribe to Casey Cardinia Libraries aggregator