May Picks

Raewyn’s been reading:

Hoeg, Peter (2007) The Quiet Girl.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux.  Kasper Klone is an internationally acclaimed clown wanted in a dozen countries for financial irregularity. Kasper’s astounding gift is “his ability to access people’s acoustic essence, especially children’s”, and to listen well beyond the normal aural spectrum. He discovers that nine-year-old KlaraMaria has a similar prescient ability with sound waves and this gets her abducted by a criminal corporation, and him caught up with some very unusual nuns bent on using Kasper’s skills to find and safeguard the girl, all in the few days before he is deported for tax fraud.  Although not an easy read this is an intriguing and fascinating book. Rating: 9/10

Debbie’s been reading:

Mones, Nicola (2003) The cup of light. Random House.  When a young porcelain expert flies to China to evaluate a collection of artwork up for international sale, she lands in circumstances vastly different from what she expected. Lia Frank finds greed, deception, and political turbulence instead of clarity when she tries to learn the origin of a huge collection of priceless porcelains.  A great read about porcelain and getting the blue colour right, with a touch of romance. Rating: 9/10

Lynne’s been reading:

Wallach, Janet (2005) Desert Queen; the extraordinary life of Gertrude Bell. Random House.   Turning away from the privileged world of the “eminent Victorians,” Gertrude Bell (1868—1926) explored, mapped, and excavated the world of the Arabs. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence’s brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.  This is a hard read, but the life of this amazing women is not diminished in the telling.  Lynne recommends Georgina Howell’s Queen of the Desert; shaper of nations (2008) as a more accessible read.  Rating: 8.5/10

Julie’s been reading:

Cameron, Sally (2009) Grow it, cook it. Penguin (NZ).   A great cookbook for everyone who loves the idea of growing fruit and vegetables from their own garden and turning them into healthy and delicious meals for themselves and their families.  Great photographs and recipes, including Feijoa Crumble, and Chive, Parmesan and Buttermilk Scones, Rating: 8/10

Roz’s been reading:

Simonson, Helen (2010) Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. Random House.  This lovely novel is set in an English village.  The Major a very proper Englishman falls (unexpectedly) in love with an elderly Pakistani owner of the local dairy, horrifying locals and her own family.  A well written delightful book.  Highly recommneded. Rating: 9/10

Goldbloom, Goldie (2009 ) The Paperbark Shoe. Fremantle Press.  A story of love and loss, beauty and ugliness set in Western Australia.  Two Italian POWs are employed by Toad on his isolated farm and his wife falls in love with one of them.   The local community is horrified when the POWs are treated so humanely.  A wonderful and raw description of Australian rural life.  Rating: 8/10

Wright, Clarissa Dickson (2007).  Spilling the beans.  Hodder.  Wonderful. Witty. A tremedous autobiography by a well-known English cook from upper class society.   Rating: 9/10

Jan’s been reading:

Gavalda, Anna (2010) Consolation.  Chatto & Windus.  Translated from the French by the author of Hunting and Gathering (2007) this book tells the story of Charles Balanda a successful international architect, in demand and constantly on the move.  His life starts to unravel when he hears of the death of Anouk, the tragically big-hearted mother of a childhood friend.  One day he finds himself on a Paris pavement covered in his own blood, but fate holds out one more chance… A complex and challenging read with many rewards. Rating: 8/10

Jan Mc’s been reading:

Rees, Peter (2008) The Other ANZACs; Nurses at War 1914-1918.  Allen & Unwin.  By the end of The Great War, 45 Australian and New Zealand nurses had died on overseas service and over two hundred had been decorated. Using diaries and letters, Peter Rees takes us into the hospital camps, and the wards and the tent surgeries on the edge of some of the most horrific battlefronts of human history.  A book dedicated to the unsung commitment of women in war.  Rating: 7/10

Nehmat, Marina (2007 ) The Prisoner of Tehran; a memoir. Free Press. At 16, Marina Nemat was arrested by two of Ayatollah Khomeini’s soldiers. It was 1982, the height of the Iranian revolution. A devout Christian, she was deemed ”a danger to Islamic society” for demanding that government propaganda be kept out of the classroom. Thrown in prison, she was beaten and sentenced to death, and most certainly would have been executed had one of her interrogators not spared her life — on the condition that she convert to Islam and marry him.  An extraordinary story that gives a different view of Tehran, although there are some tender moments this is a story of survival. Rating: 8/10

Carol’s been reading:

Brown, Helen (2009 ) Cleo. Arena. Helen Brown wasn’t a cat person, but her nine-year-old son Sam was. So when Sam heard a woman telling his mum that her cat had just had kittens, he pleaded to go and see them. Helen’s heart melted as Sam held one of the kittens in his hands, with a look of total adoration.  A week later, Sam was dead. Not long after, a little black kitten was delivered to the grieving family.  The kitten Cleo’s zest for life slowly taught the traumatised family to laugh.  Divine and poignant, full of depth.  Rating: 8.5/10

Maggie’s been reading:

Verghese, Abraham (2009 ) Cutting for Stone. Random House.  Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.   This is a well-balanced and  intelligent book is a debut novel.  Contains graphic descriptions of surgery, and has an overlay of medical ethics. Rating: 8/10

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