November Picks

Jan’s been reading:

De Goldi, Kate (2012) The ACB with Honora Lee.  Longacre.  Nine-year old Perry’s parents are busy people, and they seek to keep their only child Perry busy too.  But Perry has a plan; she is making an alphabet book for everyone at Santa Lucia.  At Santa Lucia lives her grandmother Honora Lee who has dementia and a  head full of memories, and a group of eccentric residents.  De Goldi creates wonderful links between young and old in this warm and charming little story.  Beautifully designed and packaged.  A novel to be read in one sitting.  Rating: 9/10.

Harkness, Deborah (2012) Shadow of the Night. Viking. Sequel to A Discovery of Witches.  Diana and Matthew have time travelled back to Elizabethan England  in search of the enchanted manuscript Ashmole 782 and a magic tutor for Diana. Their mission entwines their lives with a coterie of old friends – the mysterious ‘School of the Night’.  This often rambling tale, over-stuffed with characters, weaves a tapestry of alchemy, magic and history.  A holiday read.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Raewyn’s been reading:

Theroux, Paul (2012) The Lower River. Houghton Mifflin. Ellis Hock never believed that he would return to Africa. He runs a menswear store in a small town but still dreams of his four years spent in Malawi with the Peace Corps. When his wife leaves him, he realizes that there is one place for him to go where he can be happy again: back to his village in Malawi, on the remote Lower River. But things are not the same – the school he built is a ruin, the church and clinic are gone, and poverty and apathy have set in. Is his journey back  an escape or a trap? An insight into African village life, politics, and changes that have taken place with the rise of consumerism.  Eye opening.  Recommended.  Rating: 9.5/10.

Julie’s been reading:

Haddon, Mark (2012) The Red House. Cape. Radiologist Richard, newly remarried to Louisa, hosts his resentful sister Angela and her family at his vacation home in the English countryside for the week. Both Richard’s new wife, and her  16-year-old daughter, Melissa, arouse the attentions of Angela’s teenage children: son Alex, and daughter Daisy.  Angela’s uninterested husband, Dominic; their youngest son, Benjy; and the lurking ghost of their stillborn child round out the family.  A week of tensions, misadventures, grudges, and unearthed secrets exposes the quirky underbelly of this family.  More challenging than The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, with a constant need to concentrate to stay in touch with the numerous characters.  Satisfying book. Rating: 8/10.

Seymour, Gerald (2010)  The Collaborator.  Hodder. Eddie teaches at a language school, his girlfriend is an Italian accountancy student. But the prime reason Immacolata Borelli is in London is to look after her gangster brother, wanted for multiple murders back home in Naples.  The Borelli clan are members of the Camorra; deadlier than the Mafia. Immacolata goes missing and Eddie stumbles into her life setting in motion a terrifying and unpredictable series of events. Terrific romping read. Recommended for readers of Jo Nesbo.  Rating: 9.5/10.

Angela’s been reading:

Newsham, Brad (2002) Take me with you. Bantam. “Someday, when I am rich, I am going to invite someone from my travels to visit me in America”. Brad Newsham was a 22-year-old travelling through Afghanistan when he wrote this in his journal. Fourteen years later, he’s a Yellow Taxi driver working in San Francisco. He’s not rich, but he has never forgotten his vow. This book is the account of Brad Newsham’s journey through the Philippines, India, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa as he searches for the right person – someone who couldn’t afford to leave their own country, let alone holiday in the West. One of the best books on independent travel. Fabulous.  Rating: 9/10.

Kirby, Michael (2012)  A Private Life. Allen & Unwin.  Michael Kirby is one of Australia’s most admired public figures. Even those who disagree with him have been moved by the courage required of him to come out as a high-profile gay man, which at times has caused him to be subjected to the most outrageous assaults on his character. This is a collection of reminiscences in which we can discover the private Michael Kirby. It allows the public figure to speak in his own voice, without any intermediary. He opens up about his early life, about being gay, about his forty-three-year relationship with Johan van Vloten, about his religious beliefs and even about his youthful infatuation with James Dean. Amazingly reflective and warm. Rating: 9/10.

Jenny’s been reading:

Kennedy, Douglas (2012) The Moment. Arrow. Thomas Nesbitt is a American writer living a very private life in Maine. Until one day his solitude is disrupted by the arrival of a package postmarked Berlin, from Petra Dussmann. For she is the woman with whom Thomas had an intense love affair twenty-five years before in a divided Berlin. And so Thomas is forced to revisit a past he has always kept hidden. For Petra Dussman had been a member of the Stassi, the East German secret police.  Her tragic secrets were to rewrite both their destinies. Really enjoyed learning about East and West Berlin.  Rating: 7.5/10.

Boyd, William (2009) Armadillo. Penguin. Lorimer Black is a young, good-looking, upwardly mobile insurance adjuster.  One winter’s morning, Lorimer goes to keep a perfectly routine business appointment and finds a hanged man. A bad start to the day, by any standards, and an ominous portent of things to come.  His life begins to spin out of control he becomes increasingly entangled in an apparent conspiracy that involves everyone he knows.  Well-written and really enjoyed, even if the main character is a bit frustrating.  Rating: 9/10.

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