Saturday, December 19, 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Who'll want to read it? People with a keen sense of the unusual.
Point of no return: I wanted to read this book because of who wrote it, but even if I hadn't, the first chapter is very captivating.
What's it all about? Robert's girlfriend Elspeth dies, leaving everything except her personal papers to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. Elspeth is herself a twin, although she has not spoken to Edie since her nieces were babies. The conditions of her will state that the girls are to live in her apartment for a year before disposing of it as they wish, and that Edie and her husband Jack are not allowed to enter the apartment at all.
Upstairs from Elspeth's apartment live Martin and Marijke, until Marijke can no longer live with Martin's obsessive compulsive disorder, and leaves him to fend for himself. His OCD won't let him leave the apartment, so he is totally reliant on the Internet, the telephone, and Robert, who lives on the ground floor.
Elspeth, after her death, finds herself back in her apartment, at first just drifting around, but gradually getting stronger. Once the girls have moved in, she begins communicating with them, and with Robert, who still has a key to the flat.
Julia and Valentina have a very close, almost stifling, twin relationship, but their move from America to England puts a strain on this. Julia and Martin develop a close friendship, while Valentina falls for Robert (who reciprocates).
And then things get complicated.
I really didn't like most of the characters in this book, but I was fascinated by their interactions, and their motivations. I still can't figure out if I liked the book itself, but I still class it as a good read, mainly because I am still thinking about it, wondering what happened next.
Edit: I've decided that I DO like it. Robert is very endearing, and I was left with a sense of justice served. This book has generated many conversations between people who have read it, and would make an excellent book club book.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Publication Date: 2009
Category: Children's picture book
Who'll want to read it? Cat lovers - grown ups and children.
Point of no return: The expressions on the faces of the cats on the front cover drew me in.
Classic line: "MEEE-EW and the old guitar, How PURRRR-fectly happy we are."
What's it all about? It's about the adventures of Tabby McTat - a busker's cat - including loneliness, marriage, fatherhood and working out your true direction in life. The illustrations are perfect and it is a wonderful wonderful story. And I'm not even a cat person.
Publisher: Alison Green Books (an imprint of Scholastic Books)
Friday, November 13, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
Publication Date: 2007
Who'll want to read it? I'm not really sure. It's a pretty crazy ride.
Point of no return: I loved the first line: "They say it came first from Africa, carried in the screams of the enslaved; that it was the death bane of the Tainos, uttered just as one world perished and another began; that it was a demon drawn into Creation through the nightmare door that was cracked open in the Antilles." I then really struggled through the first chapter, but persisted, mainly because the book had been recommended. It picks up again in chapter two.
What's it all about? For me, it was more about the females of Oscar's family. Oscar is an incredibly overweight Dominican in New Jersey, whose life revolves around all things science fiction and fantasy (including role playing games and manga films), and the unrequited love he has for every random girl he sees. There is a fuku on the family, from a previous generation - a curse that is so powerful, it is passed down to each member of the family in a different way. His sister Lola, and his mother Belicia are stronger characters than Oscar himself, and I found their tales much more interesting.
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Friday, August 07, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Daniel Sempre works in his father's bookshop in Barcelona, as a young boy he dreams of being a writer and of owning the fountain pen that belonged to Victor Hugo. One morning he wakes up to realise he cannot remember his mother's face, she is gone and he cannot remember her. This is the day he goes to the Cemetary of Forgotten books, the day his life is changed forever. Here he discovers a book named 'The shadow of the wind' by Julian Carax and after reading it Daniel seems to become drawn further and further into the world of the author, the story of the book and the many mysteries and dangers that this world presents.
This was such an amazing book! If I could have spent all day and night reading I would have, there were times when I just wished I could disappear inside the pages and join them in this world full of darkness, mystery and culture. It is a beautiful story and I'm glad to have made it's acquaintance. Publisher: Penguin Books
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Author: Katherine Howe Publication Date: 2009 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? Those interested in witches and history, particularly American Colonial history. Point of no return: When the two parts of the story link up for the first time on pages 63 and 64. A key falls out of an old bible, and it has a tiny piece of paper rolled inside it: "On it, in a watery ink barely legible in the flickering light, were written the words Deliverance Dane." What's it all about? Connie Goodwin is a PhD student at Harvard, spending the summer cleaning out her grandmother's old house near Salem, which leads to researching Deliverance Dane for her dissertation topic. Deliverance is a cunning-woman, a witch, in the 1690s, at the time of the infamous Salem witch trials. The past and the present seem interwoven as Connie continues her research, and she starts to develop the rather novel idea that for some, witchcraft is just a part of everyday life. Publisher: Penguin
Miniature Schnauzers : everything about purchase, care, nutrition, breeding, behaviour, and training
Publication Date: 1997
Category: Non-fiction - pet ownership
Who'll want to read it? The Schnauzer owner who is contemplating leaving this book on the floor in reach of their Schnauzer.
Point of no return: Who could resist the front cover? (obviously not my little Edith Piaf).
Classic line: pg 16 "Why did my Miniature Schnauzer do that?"
What's it all about? It's a must-read for anyone contemplating buying one of these little darlings. Try and read it before your dog eats it. Luckily I bought my own copy, so I don't owe the library a new one.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
What I enjoyed most about this book was how my opinions on each person changed so dramatically with each new chapter. One minute I loathed one of the characters - minutes later I was completely sympathetic to their situation. Then later, I sometimes found myself returning to my first opinion. I felt so manipulated, and because of that, felt I was implicated in the action - I really felt I could have walked into the book at any time.
Christos Tsiolkas deserves every prize he gets for this book!
Publisher: Allen & Unwin - see the publisher's web-site for reading group guides.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Jack lives in a flat with his mum, little sister Samantha and their extremely photogenic cat, Puss. Jack is full of great ideas and experiments (like his potato/onion "Jack's Ponto"). Since his dad isn't around he fixes things around the house "Without me we'd be living in the dark with a flood of water sloshing through the lounge room". Jack loves photography and telling jokes. However what Jack doesn't like is going to school, school means huge lava burp headaches, school means George Hamel and his cronies will be there, school means he is 'Bum Head' and nobody can save him.
I loved this story, it was hilarious and heart-warming at the same time as tackling the huge issue of bullying and what it feels like to experience that as a young person. I would definitely recommend this to parents or children as both would find this an easy and enjoyable read with issues and humour that we can all relate to.
There is a very powerful and positive message in the resolution of this story, a message that I hope will inspire and encourage those who have been bullied or those with the power to help to stand up and make a change.
Publisher: Angus & Robertson
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Page 14: "She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat."
Page 80: "' I don't suppose,' said Darcy, 'that you would give me the honour of dispensing of this unhappy business alone. I should never forgive myself if your gown were soiled.'"
Page 204: "'It is impossible that he should still love me, unless, by kicking him into the mantelpiece during our battle at Hunsford, I affected some severe change in his countenance.'"
What's it all about? It is the classic "Pride and Prejudice" story, with the extra added bonus of zombies! Elizabeth and her sisters are "servants of His Majesty, protectors of Hertfordshire, beholders of the secrets of Shaolin, and brides of death" (page 317), and as such, are responsible for sending the hordes of unmentionables back to hell, where they belong. They still manage to find time to attend balls, detest people's manners, fall in love, and there may be a marriage or four. Die hard Austen fans will notice a few quirky sentences that perhaps should have been included in the original. Not to be read without a sense of humour.
Publisher: Quirk Books
If you like zombies, see our Mammoth Book of Zombies review.
If you liked this book, see also Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Publication Date: 2005
Category: Picture book
Who'll want to read it? Anyone with kids, or an interest in shearing.
What's it all about? Shaun the shearer and Pete, his sheep-sheep, do things a little differently, and aren't welcomed by the traditional shearers and their sheepdogs. They decide to approach shearing in an entirely different way, and everyone is extremely happy with the results.
Publisher: Clarion Books
Read about our Pete the Sheep event!
Monday, May 04, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Publication Date: 2008
Category: Comics, horror, humour
Who'll want to read it? Zombie lovers
Point of no return: The front cover of course
Classic line: Pg 9, Introduction - The Rise of the Foot Soldier - "The dead rise, rot, and eat. It's the rotting bit that sets the zombie apart from other horror monsters. Vampires are dead too but generally look pretty good on it. Zombies by contrast inspire awe and delight in their lack of beauty and their complete disregard for the safety of their flesh."
What's it all about? It's a collection of comics, long and short, exploring themes of existential crisis within zombie afflicted societies. It includes many grim situations - from the despair of making that final decision when you husband or wife turns into a zombie (In Sickness by Jon Ayre & Stephen Hill) to coping with the necessity of eating live humans in an effort to "fit in" with the zombie crowd to avoid being eaten yourself. There is even a poignant reflection on the importance of toothpaste in one's life when the zombies come ("Zombies" by Kieron Gillen & Andy Bloor). It's a fun book with fabulous illustrations and is bound to make you feel safe and cozy once you've read it! Publisher: Robinson
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Who'll want to read it? People who like something different and funny.
Point of no return: First 2 lines: "Hector had the face of a hero. One felt he was always ready to act, to face the dangers of our vast humanity, to ignite the feminine masses, to organise family holidays, to hold conversations in lifts with his neighbours, and, if truly feeling in good shape, to understand a film by David Lynch." pg 10.
Classic line: Pg 19 On Hector's compulsion to collect: "...each collection stirred different emotions in him. Some, such as the pages of a book, were more sensual. Some collections, sensitive ones, of great purity, once gone, became fabulous sources of nostalgia. And other more carnal collections, one-night collections, so to speak, touched on more brutal and physical spheres. That's what it was like with the cocktail sticks. One cannot make a life with a cocktail stick."
What's it all about? I feel I can't do this book justice. Reading it was a very interesting experience in which I felt as though I was reading a book from the same mini-universe as the film Amelie. I am sure that if you loved Amelie, you will love this book.
I'll try to tell you about it. As a result of his apathetic upbringing, Hector is a very sad man. Although he has the "face of a hero", he attempts suicide on the very first page. Maybe the problem is his "chubby calves"? Never mind, he has always been a compulsive collector. Persist through Hector's turmoils and you will see him progress from collecting electoral campaign badges to collecting and storing moments watching his wife - who does not have chubby calves .... (I won't tell you what she is doing. It isn't risque, but this is something you must discover for yourself).
Read it and escape for a little while.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Author: Brian Selznick
Publication Date: 2007
What's it all about? This book -at first glance- appears to be a children's book and in fact the children's section is where you would find it in most libraries and bookstores. However it is a book that will appeal to adults as well. It is a combination of pictures, still shots from film and text that each take an equal part in telling the story of Hugo Cabret.
Hugo Cabret is a young boy who secretly lives at the Paris train station, he invents things, he fixes things, he steals things. Hugo has a secret nobody can know. This is his life until one day he is caught by the owner of the train station toy shop. There is an interesting cast of characters from Isabelle, a strange girl with an insatiable appetite for books, to Etienne the young man with a eye patch who sneaks children into the local cinema, to the mysterious and grumpy old man Papa Georges who owns the train station toy shop.
This story is so beautiful and whimsical, I read it in one night with each word or picture spurring me on, wanting me to find out more. It is a lovely story that not only captures your imagination but gives you some interesting information about the history of French cinema. The format was very sucessful in keeping a natural flow, once I got into the book I hardly noticed the changes from picture to text.
I would recommend this book to children, adults, aliens and animals, it is fantastic!
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Shaun Tan has done an amazing job and if you aren't already in love with his work, I am sure you will swoon with pleasure at his latest creation. Publisher: Allen & Unwin