Monday, 29 June 2015

Mercedes Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Is your ideal man a werewolf? Are you friends with a vampire? Do you work for a fae?

Patricia Briggs has penned a #1 New York Times best selling urban fantasy series based on female protagonist Mercy Thompson, a runaway tomboy mechanic whose Native American heritage enables her to shape shift into rare coyote form, and controversially ally with her next door neighbour - the local alpha werewolf Adam. All paranormal species are territorial and Adam’s werewolf pack, not to mention ‘the others’, have mixed feelings about Mercy the outcast whose powers are unique. With a good dose of romance and a tidal wave of magic, the action journeys on the fighting or aligning of supernatural creatures through the thematic books thus far - Moon Called (2006), Blood Bound (2007), Iron Kissed (2008), Bone Crossed (2009), Silver Borne (2010), River Marked (2011), Frost Burned (2013) and Night Broken (2014). In between novels, Briggs has also written a subsequent series “Alpha and Omega” following supporting characters from the world of Mercy Thompson.

Don’t expect complicated storylines or philosophical epiphanies – this is girl driven fantasy. Indulge your hyper senses and sink your fangs into an easy to read series that just may spell you into considering the opening questions.


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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The winner of the Miles Franklin award for 2015 is......

Australia's most prestigious literary award, the Miles Franklin, has been awarded to Melbourne author Sofie Laguna for her novel The eye of the sheep. Sofie was awarded $60,000 in prize money at a ceremony held at the State Library of Victoria last night.

Meet Jimmy Flick. He's not like other kids - he's both too fast and too slow. He sees too much, and too little. Jimmy's mother Paula is the only one who can manage him. She teaches him how to count sheep so that he can fall asleep. She holds him tight enough to stop his cells spinning. It is only Paula who can keep Jimmy out of his father's way. But when Jimmy's world falls apart, he has to navigate the unfathomable world on his own, and make things right.
Told from the mesmerising point of view and in the inimitable voice of Jimmy, this is an extraordinary novel about a poor family who is struggling to cope with a different and difficult child.
- Allen & Unwin

The Miles Franklin literary award was established in 1954 by the estate of My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin to celebrate the Australian character and creativity.

If you would like more information on the Miles Franklin awards click here.


Monday, 22 June 2015

Paranormality: why we see what isn't there by Richard Wiseman

From fortune telling to haunted houses, Wiseman tackles everything in the paranormal lexicon, shining his scientific light on the fascinating world of the supernatural. Peeling back the layers of deception, imagination and biological functions, Wiseman provides a detailed study of the various cases of psychics, out-of-body experiences and talking animals, among other things.

While sceptics may applaud Wiseman’s study, believers may not be convinced. Even if most readers were convinced by his analysis, learning the tricks behind the illusions somewhat detracts from the wonderful power of the imagination. While applauding Wiseman’s exposure of the charlatans who pervade the supernatural stage, this reader wishes to keep some things a mystery and continue to believe there is possibly a monster under her bed...


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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The most eagerly anticipated novel of 2015 has got to be Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Due to be published on the 14th of July, it has become the most pre-ordered book in Harper Collins’ history.

"Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her. Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right" - Harper Collins.

Go Set a Watchman is actually Harper Lee’s first book but on advice from her editor, she set the manuscript aside to write the story from the perspective of a young Scout Finch. The advice paid off and To Kill a Mockingbird was immediately successful; winning the Pulitzer Prize award in 1961 and going on to sell more than 40 million copies worldwide. The manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was assumed to have been lost until it was discovered in late 2014 by Lee’s lawyer. It will be published as originally written, with no revisions.


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Monday, 15 June 2015

Three bargains by Tania Malik

Unlike many novels that take awhile to get into the story, Tania Malik’s first novel, Three bargains, plunges the reader immediately into a fascinating and enthralling tale set in exotic Northern India.

The central character is a twelve year old boy named Madan who lives with his poor family while his alcoholic and abusive father works at the local timber factory. The wealthy and influential owner of the factory, Avtaar Singh notices the boy Madan’s, potential and takes him under his wing. He treats him as his own son and sending him to college for an education, which is something Madan could never have hoped for in his wildest dreams.

However, due to a number of unfortunate incidents that follow, Madan is required to make three bargains to save his life and others who are close to him, which gives rise to the name to the novel.

Things start to go seriously wrong for Madan when he develops a relationship with a girl from a family who is above his class. He is forced to flee to Delhi where he sleeps in concrete pipes and finds menial factory work. Eventually good fortune favours him again and he regains his standing over and above his previous status.

Whilst the subject matter is not always pleasant reading, in fact in some parts the events that unfold are quite abhorrent, it is a captivating story which once started, is hard to put down until the final page is reached.

An extraordinarily thrilling tale for a first novel. Highly recommended.


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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

New fiction titles for June

Winter is the perfect time to cosy up with a good book and a hot cup of tea. Here’s a list of new titles to help get you through the winter months:

Blotto, twinks and the heir to the tsar Simon Brett
Long, tall Christmas Janet Dailey
Dust that falls from dreams Louis de Bernieres
Devil’s bridge Linda Fairstein
Fixer Joseph Finder
Beast’s garden Kate Forsyth
Ends of the earth Robert Goddard
Taming of the Queen Philippa Gregory
Governor’s wife Michael Harvey
Marriage of opposites Alice Hoffman
Margaret of Anjou Conn Iggulden
Oblivion Arnaldur Indridason
Silent creed Alex Kava
Dragonbane Sherrilyn Kenyon
From a high tower Mercedes Lackey
No place to hide Susan Lewis
Wildfire in his arms Johanna Lindsey
Without a trace Liza Marklund
Something to hide Deborah Moggach
Wind / Pinball Haruki Murakami
Private Sydney James Patterson
Speaking in bones Kathy Reichs
Close your eyes Michael Robotham
Pretty girls Karin Slaughter
Other son Alexander Soderberg
Country Danielle Steel
Signwave Andrew Vachss

Happy winter reading!


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Thursday, 4 June 2015

The winner of the 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction is….

Ali Smith for How to be both.

The award, previously known as the Orange prize, is open to all women writing in English.

Previous winners include Zadie Smith for On Beauty, Lionel Shriver for We need to talk about Kevin and last year’s recipient Eimear McBride for A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. Ali was presented with her award during a ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall, London, and received £30,000 in prize money.

If you would like to know more about the awards, click here.


Monday, 1 June 2015

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner is a title that has been around for a number of years but has continued to be in the top recommendations for an insightful novel. This book is so different from what I would usually read (suspense, crime or thrillers) but one that was recommended to me and I wanted to see what it was that attracted thinking people to engage with the book.

An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes us on a journey in Afghanistan from the time of the monarch's overthrow to the tyranny of the Taliban. From the first page I was hooked. This book was life changing, heart wrenching, mindboggling and all those other clich├ęs you use when you can’t find a better word to express the depths of your feelings. This book broke my heart and as I sit here composing this review my compassion for the Afghan people is enormous. I’m glad I read this book because it has taught me that the Afghan people are one of tremendous faith, honour, customs, and hope.

Before, my view of Afghanistan was limited and governed to a fair extent by media coverage and the Taliban. There was an Afghanistan before the blast of bombs and the remaining rubble. The characters in this book were so real. This was a book of friendship, dishonesty, honour, guilt, and redemption. I encourage everyone to read this book but have a box of Kleenex nearby when you do.


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Ali's story ... a real-life account of his journey from Afghanistan By Sahador Maldanado

This is the real-life story of 10-year-old refugee Ali who, accompanied by his grandmother, flees his home country of Afghanistan to avoid the conflict caused by the war. Told in Ali's own words, it documents his feelings of alienation, separation and suffering that war can place on immigrant children and their families, and the thread of hope that can help them to overcome their ordeal.

The 'Seeking Refuge' stories were originally produced as award-winning animations for BBC Learning by Mosaic Films. These stories deal with the topics of war, separation, immigration and what it means to be a refugee. 'Ali's story' can be used to open up discussions for any age range about seeking asylum.


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Her father's daughter by Alice Pung

In the four parts of this book, you will discover Alice Pung’s powerful, vivid and clever account of her attempt to search for independence from a loving and overprotective father and to understand her roots.

Parts 1 takes us to China when “the story begins on a bus ……(as it) rolls down dirt roads” and Part 2 to Melbourne, four years before the China trip, when she moved out. Her father had “finally decided that it was safe enough for one of his flock to fly”.

Parts 3 and 4 transport us to Cambodia and its devastating history; revealing her father’s struggles and painful memories and the atrocities and many, many deaths . “Sometimes, the eyes can see too much”. “To kill you is no loss, to keep you is no gain, the Black bandits had told them again and again”.

Her father’s daughter is based on conversations between Alice the daughter and Kuan the father. This memoir is fascinating, even extraordinary as it captures a father-daughter relationship in a poignant and engaging way.


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