Thursday, 29 September 2016

Return to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul by Deborah Rodriguez

I was so excited to see there was a sequel to The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul. I loved the first book about a western woman, Sunny, setting up a coffee shop in war torn Kabul and of four completely different women coming together to form strong friendships. In the sequel we are reunited with the characters several years later. We once again meet Sunny, Yasmina, Layla, Candace and Halajan, who are all dealing with personal and cultural challenges.

Sunny is back in the US, struggling to deal with the loss of her boyfriend Jack. She is now the new owner of the Screaming Peacock Vineyards on Twimbly Island, a vineyard left to her by Jack. We are also introduced to several new characters in the story. Sunny meets a troubled Afghani teenager called Kat living in America who tries to renounce everything to do with her Afghan heritage. Sunny invites Kat to tutor Layla, Yasmina’s younger sister, who has come to stay with her on Twimbly Island for a little while. Through this we see a clash of cultures and gain an understanding of how difficult it is for Afghani people to come to terms with the western way of life, especially as the Afghan culture is so full of tradition, culture and pride.

Back in Kabul, Yasmina is running the coffee shop along with her husband Ahmet and his mother Halajan. She receives a visit from a young woman called Zara seeking her help as she’s being forced into a marriage to a ruthless, violent and corrupt man.

This is a wonderful story of strong friendships, courage and strength in a world where happily ever afters are not as simple as they seem.


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is a well renowned crime writer. The Guinness Book of World Records lists Agatha Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Murder in the Orient Express is one of her many titles that the library has in the collection. I have chosen to read this particular novel as I really enjoyed Death on the Nile also by Agatha Christie. Murder in the Orient Express is the tenth book in the series, featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot.

Just after midnight, a snowdrift stopped the Orient Express in its tracks along the Istanbul to Paris Line. “Being a luxurious train it was surprisingly full for the time that year”. But by the morning there was one passenger fewer. A passenger lay dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. In true Poirot style he endeavours to uncover who killed the passenger and how.

The train passes through several different countries with international passengers. This form of transportation is compact so everyone is in a confined space. Thus, the murderer, victim, and investigator are all thrown together. No one can really skip town, which makes for a fun and suspenseful read. The victim is Ratchett, and in true Poirot style the detective discovers that this is an alias and his real name is Cassetti. Poirot then examines how any or all of the passengers are connected to the victim.

The train itself is split up into first and second classes. The separation makes us keenly aware of the passengers' social standing and place in the world – key factors to solving the mystery Poirot with assist from his old friend, M. Bouc, a manager of the Orient Express and the Greek Dr. Constantine on broad interview all the passengers and are still confused as to who the assailant could be.
“Murder on the Orient Express” is told in an omniscient third-person voice, and is fairly unobtrusive sticking to given facts. The narrator also gives us multiple points of view and switches between, for example, Poirot, and other characters, such as Mary Debenham. Poirot examines several clues found in the murdered man's compartment, a watch apparently broken at the time of the murder, a burnt note, a pipe cleaner, and a delicate ladies' handkerchief, which leads to further intrigue as the door is lock on the inside.

Of all the murder mysteries I have read by Agatha Christie, this has been by far the best. It keeps you guessing repeatedly as to who could be the murderer, and if the perpetrator still lurks on the train. You will be surely in for a shock as the book nears its end...


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Perfect by Danny Parker and Freya Blackwood

Danny Parker says... Perfect is a story inspired by my daughter. One happy day I asked her what she wanted to do. Her reply was simple. ‘I just need a crayon and somewhere to scribble.’ And so began a little story about simple pleasures.

Perfect is like a warm blanket in the cool evening or the fresh fragrance of roses in a sunny room. It is just delightful. The children move through their day from the cosiness of the kitchen to the freedom of the outdoors. It’s full of action but not hurried. The children are curious and uninhibited. They are engaged in varied and meaningful activities according to their interests and desires: cooking, drawing, fixing, exploring, playing and sleeping. They are together but also they do their own thing. The supervision is provided by the cat. There is also the company of cows. It seems they have all they need in each other. The illustrations are fluid, easy and delicate.

Perfect is a lovely book with such a sense of freedom. It reflects the idyllic childhood we all need.


Monday, 19 September 2016

Could you survive the Call?

Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.

Every child in Ireland knows that the time will come for them to answer the Call, that horrifying moment when they are transported to the Grey Land, the land of the Sídhe. There they must run or fight to survive for 24 hours in faerie time, or three minutes and four seconds in human time. The Sidhe, although beautiful, are cruel and malicious creatures that enjoy using the full 24 hours to toy with their prey. Chasing and terrorising the teens until they can run no longer, they then capture and kill them. Or worse. Much worse.

Veterans of the Call have set up survival colleges throughout Ireland and from age 10 the children are taught the Sidhe language, combat skills, and knowledge they need to survive. The story revolves around a group of teens currently undertaking training skills at Boyle Survival College. In some regards, surviving training at the college is just as brutal as surviving the Call. Nessa, who is crippled by polio, is the most determined and focused of all the students at her school and will need to draw on all her strength to survive - the school, the bullies and finally the Call.

Well written and full of horror, action, and psychological torment, The Call gets under your skin and lingers long after finishing the book. I look forward to reading the (rumoured) sequel, The Cauldron.


Friday, 16 September 2016

Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher, the author best known for the Dresden files, begins a new series with this book.

The Aeronaut's Windlass is set in a fantastic world, some may say steampunk, but I would disagree. While there are steampunk elements I find the world building in this series goes beyond that and sets it apart.

The people that inhabit this world live in floating spires miles above a monster infested surface. The spires are each protected by an armada of floating ships powered by crystals that power them and give them lift. The spires are divided into hubs and most people will live and die in their hubs, never leaving or seeing the sky.

The story follows Captain Grimm who was drummed out of the armada for a crime he didn’t commit and now works as a privateer. When his ship is ambushed, it is heavily damaged. Grimm is given an opportunity to repair his ship but first he must take on a clandestine mission with some guards in training. What he finds out will be more disturbing than first thought.

The book is filled with really likable characters, with many laugh out loud moments. It is set in an interesting and unique world. Frustratingly, I would have liked to know about the world below so I am looking forward to the other books in the series to see where Jim Butcher takes it.


Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Man Booker Prize shortlist 2016

The prestigious Man Booker shortlist has been announced. Established in 1969 it is the leading literary award in the English speaking world, and has brought recognition, reward and readership to outstanding fiction for over four decades. The winner receives £50,000 as well as the £2,500 awarded to each of the shortlisted authors. Both the winner and the shortlisted authors are guaranteed a worldwide readership plus an increase in book sales.

Here is the full shortlist:

The Sellout Paul Beatty
Hot Milk Deborah Levy
His Bloody Project Graeme Macrae Burnet
Eileen Ottessa Moshfegh
All That Man Is David Szalay
Do Not Say We Have Nothing Madeleine Thien

Congratulations and good luck to all the shortlisted authors. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on October 25th so stay tuned.


Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Happy birthday Roald Dahl!

Did you know that today would have been Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday? Roald Dahl was one of the world's most popular children's authors, publishing 21 children's books including the much loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG and James and the Giant Peach. (My personal favourite is Danny the Champion of the World). Many of his books have been adapted into films.

Roald Dahl stories are filled with adventure and humor; some tend more towards slapstick humor, like The Twits, some are filled with suspense and adventure, like James and the Giant Peach, and some, like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, can be read for social commentary and satire as well. His stories are full of imaginative language and creative plot twists that hook children of all ages. Whilst best known for his children’s stories in which the good, young and kind always triumph over the old, greedy and the wicked, he also had a successful career writing macabre adult short stories, usually with a dark sense of humour and a surprise ending.

To celebrate his birthday why not re-read some of your favourite Roald Dahl stories and be transported back into his whimsical worlds. After all, in the words of the man himself, “A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men”.


Monday, 12 September 2016

Join the online bookclub - Sept 2016

Greater Dandenong Libraries is taking part in Together We Read, an online ebook club facilitated by OverDrive. From the 7th-21st of September you can borrow the ebook Worlds Apart by Ber Carroll without any waitlists. All you need is your library card. Simply click on the cover image to download your eBook and join the conversation today!

Erin and Laura are cousins and best friends who share a love of languages and travel. Erin, a French teacher in Dublin, reaches crisis point and drops everything to move to Australia. In Sydney, not only does she land the perfect job, but she meets the perfect man. Finally, her life is falling into place. Except Sydney isn't home, and never can be. Back in Ireland, Laura is struggling. Her husband appears distant, her work life is spinning out of control and her daughter's strange new nanny is undermining her at every turn. She longs to travel in Erin's footsteps, to drop everything and run far away. But these are dangerous thoughts for a mother and wife. As Erin and Laura desperately try to find their place in the world, a shocking family secret comes to light, and nothing will ever be the same again.

For more information on Together We Read and to hear a podcast interview with Ber Carroll, click here.


Friday, 9 September 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has recently been adapted for the big screen by English screenwriter Jane Goldman and directed by Tim Burton, who is known for his dark, gothic film style. Opening in Australia on the 29th September you still have time to read the novel before it hits the cinemas.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

Stieg Larsson’s Salander-Blomkvist saga is continued but written by David Lagercrantz. This being part 4 of the Millennium series (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest) posthumously written after Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004. Its publication was embroiled in controversy within the family but was eventually made possible after Stiegs estate allowed it.

The original title in Swedish: Det som inte dödar oss, literally "That Which Does Not Kill Us" in English, is still befitting the feeling and character of the first 3 Millennium books and the renaming to "the girl in the spider's web a further tribute to Stieg’s original titles. The main characters Lisbeth Salander "glitteringly angry genius punk hacker" and Mikael Blomkvist "an uncompromising crusading investigative journalist", join forces again in this adrenaline-charged, uniquely of-the-moment thriller along with old and new characters.

Mikael Blomkvist feels like he is stuck in a rut. In the year since Millennium magazine's scoop on "The Section" the publication has stagnated and is in danger of losing creative control to the whims of outside investors. Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from Linus Brandell who relates Frans Balder's tumultuous history. Blomkvist is largely bored with the recitation until Brandell mentions that some of Balder's activities were aided by Lisbeth Salander, someone Blomkvist knows all too well.

Frans Balder, a computer scientist, returns to Sweden, abandoning a prestigious job with a Silicon Valley company, to take custody of his autistic son August. His life is in danger from a criminal organization who called "Spider Society," by ignoring their warnings he puts his life in danger, preferring to focus on his neglected son. August exhibits Savant syndrome, producing drawings of impressive veracity and showing a facility with numbers both become crucial to the story.

After Frans Balder murder, things get hectic. Blomkvist in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help, she as usual has her own agenda. The secrets they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, murder, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .

Happily in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Lagercrantz has written a compelling story with a great deal of style and with a deliciously complex plot.


Monday, 5 September 2016

Spring into the library for some new fiction

Spring is here and with the temperature warming up there's nothing better than reading a good book outside. Unless you suffer from hay fever, then there's nothing better than reading a good book inside.

Wherever you choose to read we have plenty of new titles for you to enjoy. Just click on your chosen title/s to place your hold. Remember you can now have up to 20 holds per borrower card and all holds are free of charge.

Mirror sisters Virginia Andrews
This was a man Jeffrey Archer
No man’s land David Baldacci
Days without end Sebastian Barry
Night school Lee Child
Crepe factor Laura Childs
Schooldays of Jesus J.M. Coetzee
Betrayal Martina Cole
Wrong side of goodbye Michael Connelly
Chaos Patricia Cornwell
Odessa sea Clive Cussler
Deception Roald Dahl
Signal loss Garry Disher
Dark flood rises Margaret Drabble
Treachery’s tools L.E. Modesitt, Jr
Turbo twenty-three Janet Evanovich
Leopard’s fury Christine Feehan
Order to kill Vince Flynn & Kyle Mills
Triple crown Felix Francis
Virgins Diana Gabaldon
Whistler John Grisham
Travelling bag Susan Hill
Faithful Alice Hoffman
Wait for dark Kay Hooper
Secrets of a happy marriage Cathy Kelly
Crimes of the father Tom Keneally
Hidden killers Lynda La Plante
Twelve days of Christmas Debbie Macomber
Slaughter park Barry Maitland
Sapphire falls Fleur McDonald
Chocolate tin Fiona McIntosh
Cold blood Andy McNab
Distant journey Di Morrissey
Honeymoon in Paris Jojo Moyes
Cross the line James Patterson
Christmas message Anne Perry
Rather be the devil Ian Rankin
Bone collection Kathy Reichs
Every dark corner Karen Rose
Hero R.A. Salvatore
Escape clause John Sandford
Swing time Zadie Smith
If you dare Erica Spindler
Award Danielle Steel
Cousins Salley Vickers
At the sign of triumph David Weber
Blood mirror Brent Weeks
Christmas days Jeanette Winterson

Happy reading!