April Picks

Julie’s been reading:

Moorehead, Caroline (2011) A train in winter.  Chatto & Windus.  A Train in Winter is the story of the female French political resisters rounded up and taken by train to Auschwitz – the only train, in the four years of German occupation, to take women of the resistance to a death camp.  Of the 230 Frenchwomen that were deported on 24 January 1943, only 49 survived. It is a harrowing book, not always easy to read, with a number of characters to follow; but it is fascinating story of courage and endurance, and of friendship. Recommended. Rating: 8.5/10.

Moyes, JoJo (2012) Me before you. Michael Joseph.  Lou Clark is forlorn when she loses her beloved café job. She is offered a six-month contract as a companion to quadriplegic Will Traynor, a former adrenaline junkie and City worker whose life has been intractably changed by a run-in with a motorcycle. Will has given up on life and Lou is determined to change his mind.  Moyes enriches her characters as they react to the most challenging of situations.  Will is not your usual romantic lead but he proves to be a truly memorable hero. Recommended. Rating: 9/10.

Jan’s been reading:

Smith, Ali (2011) There but for the. Hamish Hamilton.  Imagine you give a dinner party and one of the guests, a friend of a friend, brings a stranger into your house who decides to lock himself into one of your bedrooms and refuses to come out.  This is what Miles does.  Miles’ unwilling hostess is reluctant to break down the door because it is “believed to be 18th century”; instead of calling a locksmith, she calls a reporter.  Soon, crowds are flocking, and the hostess is flogging T-shirts and other merchandise.  Each chapter is reflected through the perspective of a different acquaintance of Miles; none knows him well, but each has had a pivotal encounter with him.  Miles, remains an enigma, and almost nothing happens. Clever but very frustrating.   Rating: 8/10.

Collins, Suzanne (2008) The Hunger Games. Scholastic.  In the ruins of a North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining but cruel Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen as tributes to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen,  is forced to represent her district in the Games. But to Katniss survival is second nature.  Obsessive, read the three books in the trilogy over three days (and have seen the movie, twice)!  Great story, and you don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy.  Rating: 9/10.

Roz’s been reading:

Twohig, Peter (2012) The Cartographer. HarperCollins. In  Melbourne in 1959 a 10-year-old boy witnesses a murder as he spies through a window.  Just one year before, the boy had looked on helplessly as his twin brother had suffered a violent death. Now, having been seen by the angry murderer, he is a kid on the run. With only a shady grandfather, a professional standover man and an incongruous local couple as adult mentors, he takes refuge in the dark drains and grimy tunnels beneath the city, transforming himself into a series of superheroes and creating a rather unreliable map to plot out places where he is unlikely to cross paths with the murderer. Fresh and charming.  Rating: 9/10.

Duchen, Jessica (2009) Songs of triumphant love. Hodder. While the celebrated opera singer Terri Ivory is in hospital, facing what could be the end of her career, her daughter Julie stumbles upon a long buried secret that forces her to question her past and her place in her mother’s affection. Mother and daughter try to keep their closeness to each other and to the men they love: self-destructive Teo, and Alistair who fails to predict the consequences of his decision to join the army.  When calamity strikes, all four must make vital choices to find their way forward.  A nice read. Rating: 8/10.

Jenny’s been reading:

Nesbo, Jo (2011) Headhunters.  Vintage. Roger Brown is Norway’s most successful headhunter, he is married to a beautiful gallery owner and owns a magnificent house. But he’s also an art thief. At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of The Calydonian Boar Hunt by Rubens, one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history. Roger starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble.  Moves at a cracking pace. Couldn’t put down.  Rating: 8.5/10.

Rimmington, Stella (2011) Riptide. Bloomsbury.  A Liz Carlyle adventure.  Somali pirates attempt, unsuccessfully, to hijack a ship carrying food, medicine and emergency supplies to the port of Mombasa, Kenya. The crew of captured pirates includes a young man of Pakistani origin who is a British subject. When asked to explain his presence among the Somalis, he either lies or remains stubbornly silent. The subsequent investigation leads Liz and her colleagues to the coast of Africa, to the offices of a charitable organization in Athens and London, and to a mosque in Birmingham, England, where young Islamic zealots are recruited, converted and transformed into agents of jihad. Perfunctory, although moves along well. Rating: 7.5/10.

Carol’s been reading:

Pope, Margaret (2011) At the turning point; my political life with David Lange. AM Publishing. Margaret Pope writes an eyewitness account of the “turbulent 1980s and the brilliant, elusive figure at their political centre”. She throws new light on the policy and personalitites of the fourth Labour government. Good to understand David Lange and the impact of “Rogernomics”. Rating: 8.5/10.

Grylls, Bear (2011) Mud, sweat and tears. Channel 4. Bear Grylls’ prime-time TV adventure series has reached an estimated 1.2 billion viewers in over 180 countries. This book covers his early years,  prior to TV fame; from his childhood at Eton to his tough physical and psychological training with the SAS, to his sky-diving accident that breaks his back, and subsequent Everest climb.  Gripping.  Rating: 8/10.

Chapple, Geoff (2011) Te Araroa: the walking guide to New Zealand’s long trail.  Random House. This is a guidebook of the Te Araroa Trail that runs from Cape Reinga to Bluff, 35 years in the making, officially opened in late 2011. The book maps the 3000-kilometre trail in 40-kilometre sections. Author Geoff Chapple is a modern-day visionary who took the concept of a continuous trail running the length of New Zealand and turned it into a reality. Chapple complements the maps with a running commentary describing the landscape, the flora and fauna encountered along the way, as well as the special features of particular parts of the trail. A very special book.  Rating: 10/10.

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