Saturday, December 19, 2009

Her Fearful Symmetry

Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Publication Date: 2009

Category: Fiction

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.

Publisher: Scribner

Monday, December 14, 2009


Author: Alex Miller Publication Date: 2009 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? Readers who enjoy a story told with emotion, compassion, love and tolerance. Also how immigrants and travellers can put down roots in a foreign land and try to carve out a life for themselves through their stubborness, memories, ignorance, customs and hope for a different life or the hope in returning back to the motherland. Point of no return: Before the story starts there is this - I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the wild does: do not stir up or awaken love until it is ready! THE SONG OF SOLOMON adjure -to command or enjoin solemnly, as under oath "adjoining her in the name of God to declare the truth" I was also eagerly awaiting Millers next book after" Landscape of Farewell". Classic line: 'Love's never simple. You know that. Dad.' p 8 'We'll have a wonderful life,' he said 'Whatever we do. I just know we will. It doesn't matter what we do' p 74 What's it all about? A small Tunisian cafe called 'Chez Dom' in Paris is a home away from home for the North African immigrant workers at the great, smelly and bloody abattoirs of Vaugirard. The cafe is run by the recently widowed Houria and her young niece Sabiha. It is by chance that John Patterner, a lost Australian traveller seeks shelter in the cafe from a sudden storm and so meets Sabiha, and their love story unfolds. Years later John meets Ken, an ageing writer. John confides his story to Ken and what happened to him and Sahiba at Vaugirard. Ken also sees the potential for one last simple love story but is love simple??? Miller has the ability to take you into the human hearts of his characters , their failings, aspirations, desires, fears and misgivings. Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tabby McTat

Author: Julia Donaldson, Illustrated by Axel Scheffler

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

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters

Author: Jane Austen and Ben H. Winters Publication Date: 2009 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? Anyone who loved "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies", any Austen fans with a sense of humour. Point of no return: For me, it was the title. Classic line: Willoughby, on Colonel Brandon (page 56):"Who, though he may have a thinking mind, has also a fish's face, and should perhaps be more comfortable out of his gentlemen's coats and submerged in the tank in my parlour." What's it all about? The classic "Sense and Sensibility" story, set after "the Alteration, when the waters of the world grew cold and hateful to the sons of man, and darkness moved on the face of the deep." (page 7) After the death of their father, and the subsequent forced move to Pestilent Isle, in the Middleton Archipelago, the Dashwood sisters' lives take a completely new direction. Marianne falls in love with the handsome Willoughby (who appears to best advantage in full diving costume and helmet), Margaret becomes increasingly aware of the unusual nature of their island, and Elinor tries to maintain and instill a semblance of sense and decorum in her family. I thoroughly enjoyed this "Quirk Classic", and cannot wait for the next one! Publisher: Quirk Books

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Author: Junot Diaz

Publication Date: 2007

Category: fiction

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


Author: Peter Temple Publication Date: 2009 Category: Australian crime fiction Who'll want to read it? Crime fiction lovers who don't mind a bit of a challenge. Point of no return: There is no way this book would go un-read by me! I've been very excited since I heard Peter Temple was releasing a sequel to The Broken Shore. Even though it is a sequel, it does stand alone as a separate story. I was rather pleased to see that Joe Cashin's poodles managed to get a mention in Truth. Peter Temple obviously knows a good dog when he sees one.
Classic line: "The Herald Sun front page had pictures of Kidd and Larter, mug shots, the lagophthalmic psycho child-molester serial-killer look all men had when their driver's licence photographs were enlarged six hundred per cent." pg 213 What's it all about? The story is about Stephen Villani, Homicide boss who we met briefly in The Broken Shore. According to his Dad, Bob Villani, Stephen has always had a "boss manner" that made some a bit nervous. Lots of people have lots of reasons to be nervous in this story of revenge, murder, torture and abuse. To top it all off, the worst bushfires in memory are threatening Bob Villani's farm outside Melbourne and Villani's 15 year old daughter is missing on the streets of St Kilda. I love the way Peter Temple is so sparse with his dialogue and explanations - sometimes finding the meaning is like deciphering a code. It takes a couple of chapters to get into the rhythmn, but it's worth it. Truth is a fabulous read, one that kept me up all hours and even beckoned to me at 3 am. I can finally get some sleep now that I've finished it! Publisher: Text Publishing

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Love Letters

Author: Katie Fforde Publication Date: 2009 Category: Romantic Fiction Who'll want to read it? People who need a lovely romantic escape. Point of no return: I thought the decication sounded quite promising: "To Ireland and Irishmen, this is for you!"
Classic line: "Listen, if you don't want to find out, with demonstrations, exactly what the Blarney Stone and meself have got up to, I'd go to the shop in double-quick time." pg 231
What's it all about? Laura works in a bookshop which will be closing in a matter of weeks. She soon finds herself thrown into a different world, helping to organise a literary festival and traipsing across Ireland to personally ask famous recluse Dermot Flynn to be their star attraction. There's love, friendship and seduction. There's also conflict and confusion, but not without the inevitable reconciliation. If you are a Katie Fforde fan you will know I'm not giving anything away there. Yay! it's another fabulous book you'll find yourself wanting to read until 2 am. Publisher: Century

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Graveyard Book

Author: Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell Publication Date: 2009 (I read the paperback version) Who'll want to read it? Anyone who is not afraid to read a children's book, no matter how old they are, because those that take the chance will discover a world of incredible stories that have so much depth and beauty and so many wonderful intricate details to enjoy.
What's it all about? Nobody Owens lives in the graveyard at the top of the hill, he has lived there for as long as he can remember, discovering the ins and outs, the hidden secrets, learning to fade into nothingness and making friends with ghouls and long departed people of the town. However, Nobody Owens is not dead, he is very much alive. Publisher: Bloomsbury

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Infernal Optimist

Author: Linda Jaivin Publication Date: 2006 Category: Australian fiction Who'll want to read it? Adults Point of no return: Page 1: "There she was, waiting for me - Marlena, me own little Version a Heaven. She Who I Love, Honour and Try to Obey. She Who I Call She Who For Short, what she is, being even shorter than me." Classic line: " 'Nothing behind the razor wire is lovely,' he said again, like she hadn't heard it the first time. 'Except present ladylike company,' I go. 'You yourself are looking particulately lovely today, April.' Her lips moved briefly in the direction of up. 'You've got a way with words, Zek,' she goes. I couldn't think of anything to say to that." pg 175 What's it all about? Zeki gets out of his latest stint in jail only to find himself thrown into Villawood Immigration Detention Centre. It turns out Zeki, born in Turkey and raised in Australia, never became an Australian citizen because he couldn't be bothered waiting in line. With his criminal record and his perceived "bad character" this makes him a "five-o-one" awaiting deportation. Some of what Zeki sees, hears and experiences in Villawood will make you laugh, but will probably mostly make you cry. Zeki seems to be a bit of a dummy, but his innocent yet somehow perceptive insights cut right through the core of the injustices occurring in detention centres at the time this book was written. Through all of the humour, you just know things are going to go so very badly for many of the inmates. It's a well written book that gives faces and emotions to the people we may only hear about in the news. Publisher: Fourth Estate

Monday, August 17, 2009

A case of exploding mangoes

Author: Mohammed Hanif Publication Date: 2008 Category: Literary Fiction, Humour, Love, Murder & Mystery
Point of no return: The ambiguous title caught me. Classic line/s: Pg 1: "His smart casual look hides a superior diplomatic mind; he is a composer of sharp, incisive memos and has the ability to remain polite in the most hostile exchanges."
Pg 18: " 'See you at the square, Baby O.'
I felt jealous, not because of the intimacy that it implied, but because I wished I had come up with this nickname for Obaid." What's it all about? It's part love story, part murder-mystery and part tragic comedy. It's a wonderful book that I didn't want to end - I was enjoying the company of part time narrator Ali Shigri so much. Apart from the captivating storyline, this book is beautifully written - it's like reading a lilting poem. The story revolves around the mysterious explosion of a C130 Hercules, in which Pakistan's military dictator General Zia dies in August 1988. General Zia "knows" someone wants to kill him, but doesn't know who. General Zia might as well be in a "choose your own adventure" story as far as that goes: Will he be poisoned? Will a curse kill him? Will one or two of his Generals betray him?
If you get the chance, listen to the author at the 2009 Sydney Writers' Festival. This session was a real bonus as Mohammed Hanif read quite a bit from the book. I think my experience of the book was much enhanced from being at this session - it gave me the accents and the humour. I guess this is what made Ali Shigri so real to me.
Publisher: Jonathan Cape

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Persepolis : the story of a childhood & the story of a return

Author: Marjane Satrapi Publication Date: 2008 What's it all about?
Persepolis is biography about Marjane Satrapi’s childhood and adolescence in graphic novel format. Marjane grew up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution and she reveals what that was like in dark, tragic and humorous language. The format made some of the more historical and political content easier to read - and all the more hilarious in some parts. This book is a great story about growing up, I learnt a lot about Iran, it made me laugh out loud and cry bitter tears. I don’t read many biographies or comics but this is a fantastic and interesting read for something really different. Publisher: Vintage

Friday, August 07, 2009

Knit-In & Wrap with Love @ Wallsend District Library

On Friday the 7th August Wallsend Library patrons participated in the annual Wrap with Love Knit-In.
10 eager ladies attended, knitting and crocheting squares to be made into blankets for distribution to the needy both here and overseas.
A beautiful crochet rug and knitted squares were also delivered by community members unable to attend the Knit-In.
A regular monthly Craft Club morning will be held on the 1st Friday of each month between 10am-12noon at Wallsend District Library. So bring along your craft work or knitting and join us for a morning of craft and chatter.
Wallsend District Library, Bunn St Wallsend Contact Ann or Natasha for details on 4985 6680 Visit Wrap With Love for more information about the annual Knit-In.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon Publication Date: 2005 Who'll want to read it? Anyone who loves to live in a world of books, who is interested in Spanish culture and anyone who loves a story they can curl up and get completely lost in. What's it all about?
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

The Lost Book of Salem

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

Author: Karla S. Rugh, with illustrations by Michele Earl-Bridges

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?"

pg 28 "You'd be amazed at the things your puppy will taste or chew up!"

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.

Publisher: Barrons

Does my little Edith Piaf look like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth? Looks can be so deceiving.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Slap

Author: Christos Tsiolkas Publication Date: 2008 Category: Contemporary adult fiction, Australian. Who'll want to read it? Everyone! Especially people in book clubs - there is so much controversy to discuss. Point of no return: The writing draws you in from the very first page. Classic line: I don't recall a standout line - it is all fabulous. What's it all about? It's a brilliant story set in the multicultural middle class suburbia of Melbourne. The central event of the story takes place during a game of backyard cricket at barbeque. A very very naughty and exceedingly irritating little boy is slapped by a man who is neither his parent or a relative. As the book explores the fallout of this incident you realise it's not just about the "slap". Each chapter features a different character and different facets of the incident. Each intracately drawn character has their own distinct voice, their own politics, perspectives, prejudices and lifestyles. None of the characters are one dimensional, and EVERYONE is flawed - which makes it all the more realistic.
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

The Shiralee

Author: D'Arcy Niland Publication Date: 1955 Category: Classic fiction Who'll want to read it? People who have seen one of the movies and never read the book; people interested in Australian bush culture in the 50s, who aren't afraid to accept the attitudes of the day. Point of no return: Page 1: "He had two swags, one of them with legs and a cabbage-tree hat, and that one was the main difference between him and others who take to the road, following the sun for their bread and butter." Classic line: Page 135: "'I'll walk along the road, and all the roads, and keep going on the roads 'cos I know you always walk on the roads and I'd find you.'" - Buster What's it all about? Macauley is an itinerant worker, who has burdened himself with his four year old daughter, Buster. Macauley walks the roads of outback New South Wales, searching for the next job. Buster becomes more and more of a burden, as job sites prove unsuitable, and Macauley finds it difficult to stay out of trouble.
Publisher: Angus & Robertson

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Author: Susanne Gervay Publication Date: 2000 What's it all about?

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

Find out about Susanne Gervay's author visits to our library

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Gatsby's Girl

Author: Caroline Preston Publication Date: 2006 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? People interested in F. Scott Fitzgerald's life and inspirations. Classic line: Page 4 : How could I have ever guessed that the Princeton boy who wrote silly songs and poems would turn into a famous author? What's it all about? Ginevra King is known to be the inspiration for Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, as well as other characters in other books. This novel is inspired by Ginevra and Scott's brief romance. It follows Ginevra Perry (Page 10: "My father named me after a woman in a painting by Leonardo da Vinci he saw in some old book. He seemed to think she was pretty.") from an uppity sixteen year old school girl, when she first meets Fitzgerald, to a lady with three children, the youngest thirteen, meeting with Fitzgerald's grown daughter. Ginevra keeps tabs on Scott throughout his life, mostly through the media, squirreling away news clippings in an accordion file, and reading his novels, searching for traces of herself within them. Her life is an ordinary one, with marriage, children, and financial concerns the main focus, and Fitzgerald a fine thread that interweaves it all. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith Publication Date: 2009 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? Any Austen fan with a sense of humour or a love a zombies. Point of no return: The first line: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains. Never was this truth more plain than in the recent attacks at Netherfield Park, in which a household of eighteen was slaughtered and consumed by a horde of the living dead." Classic line: There are so many!
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

Wallsend District Library's Manga Drawing Competition

As part of MANGA MANIA Wallsend District Library held a Manga Drawing Competition asking participants to create their own manga style character/creature.
Congratulations to our fabulous winner...13 year old Wendy Park! (See photo above)
Thank you to all who entered our competition, we received some truly amazing artwork. MANGA MANIA was a great success and we hope to hold many more manga events in the future!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Pete the Sheep

Author: Jackie French, illustrated by Bruce Whatley

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

Into White Silence

Author: Anthony Eaton Publication Date: 2008 Category: Young Adult/CBC Short List 2009 Who'll want to read it? Adventure readers, readers of books about extreme expeditions and adventurers, such as Ernest Shackleton, Douglas Mawson, Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Edmund Hillary. Point of no return: The Author's Introduction in which the journal of Lieutenant William Downes is introduced. And he informs the reader that he stole this journal from the station library at Casey Antarctic Base. Classic line: "And there is one memory - one moment, which I cannot place as either dream or reality, but which I can still recall with absolute clarity - I remember looking up into the face of the Ice man, as he stood over me." What's it all about? A mad ambitious, expedition leader with only one goal - to reach the South Pole using an untried route, a black, steel clad ship, and all 32 men and dogs on board the vessel Raven, in 1922. If it wasn't for the words - this is a work of fiction - on the verso of the title page, I would have believed this book to be non-fiction. It is the powerful, haunting account of an expedition to Antarctica told through the journal of Lieutenant William Downes, from the past, and the author's own words from present times. I would have believed that Anthony Eaton had actually stolen the journal on his sojourn in Antarctica, and Downes really did leave his parents home at Weatherly Station, near Ballarat, and his fiancee, Elsie, never to return. It all reads like an autobiography of Shackleton or a journal by Scott. The horrendous journey, braving the Antarctic seas, as well as the single-mindedness of the expedition leader, is horror enough. But the deprivations, and hopelessness of their situation when they come in sight of their landfall is beyond human tolerance. Yet I could not lift my eyes from the page, I had to find out how, where and why each tragic event was to be met. And then there is the sheer, cold, mesmerising beauty of the Antarctic, the Southern Aurora, the stars and sunsets. This book will haunt my dreams - day and night. I feel the pull of that extreme south land, I want to see the curious Adele penguins, the Southern Aurora. Eaton has brought to life our history and given insight to a land of mystery and wonder, also of science and extremes, of what makes people follow the "lure of little voices", to step into white silence. Publisher: Woolshed Press

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Mammoth Book of Zombie Comics

Author: Edited by David Kendall 

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

The Good Thief

Author: Hannah Tinti Publication Date: 2008 Category: Fiction Classic line: 'I studied Latin with a man who had no teeth at all', said Tom. 'He always smelled like lavender soap but he was a smart old codger.' 'How did you pay for that?' Benjamin asked 'My mother cleaned his house', said Tom 'She paid for all my lessons that way.' 'Too bad she isn't here' said Benjamin. Tom stopped scrubbing, his mouth set in a line. Then he put the tooth down and reached for the bottle. What's it all about? Ren's name had been sewn into the collar of his nightshirt: three letters embroidered in dark blue thread - Ren, inhabitant of St Anthony's Orphanage, New England, lost his mother? lost his father? lost his left hand - most definitely. But what does the future hold for Ren when he is claimed by his lost brother Benjamin Nab? Hannah Tinti's debut novel spins a tale of mystery, of adventure, of loss and longing, set in the dark and seamy world of nineteenth century America, a tale full of perceptively drawn characters - Benjamin Nab, Tom and Dolly - of dangerous and extraordinary locations. Beautifully written, The Good Thief a very Good Read. Publisher: Headline Review

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Fraction of the Whole

Author: Steve Toltz Publication Date: 2008 Category: Australian Fiction, Literary Fiction Who'll want to read it? Adults willing to commit to a 710 page book. Point of no return: First page: "There's a female guard whose stare of indifference is alluring, but I've never been good at chasing women - I always take no for an answer." Classic line: I could quote you the first 50 pages of this book, each line better than the last, but I'll give you an episode from page 8 where Jasper talks about being raised by his eccentric father: "He taught me if I had to meet someone for an appointment, I must refuse to follow the 'stupid human habit' of arbitrarily choosing a time based on fifteen minute intervals. 'Never meet people at 7:45 or 6:30, Jasper, but pick times like 7:12 and 8:03!' If the phone rang he'd pick it up and not say anything - then, when the other person said hello, he would put on a wobbly high-pitched voice and say, 'Dad not home'. Even as a child I knew that a grown man impersonating his six year old son to hide from the world was grotesque..." What's it all about? Set in Australia, France and Thailand, it's the story of Martin, Terry and Jasper Dean and, if not the Human Condition, then certainly the Australian Condition. It's tragic, it's funny and it's captivating. It even has a Sizzler restaurant in it. Martin and Terry are brothers growing up in a town near a prison. Martin is intelligent, but weird. Terry is great at sports, and obsessive about it too, until a stab wound to his thigh changes all of that. Watch the circumstances leading to young Terry chanelling his obsession in a destructive manner instead. Watch as he influences his brother's and his nephew's lives for years to come. I'm not ignoring Jasper on purpose, it's just that I think I'd give too much away. It really is Jasper's story and he tells it well. If he existed I'd like to meet him, preferably when he sorts himself and his heritage out. This is a fascinating story of cause and effect - seemingly innocent choices made by the characters' wreak monstrous results one after another. I'm so glad I read this book. Publisher: Penguin Books

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Erotic Potential of My Wife

Author: David Foenkinos, translated from the French by Yasmine Gaspard

Publication Date: 2004 in France, 2008 for English translation

Category: Adult fiction, quirky

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.

Publisher: Telegram

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Great Gatsby : a graphic adaptation

Author: A graphic adaptation by Nicki Greenberg of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald Publication Date: 2007 Category: Graphic novel Who'll want to read it? Someone who wants to read F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel in a hurry, someone who enjoys graphic novels, or someone who enjoys the Great Gatsby. Point of no return: Page 4, when you find out Gatsby is a seahorse. Classic line: "Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope." What's it all about? The mysterious Jay Gatsby who lives next door and throws lavish parties, but seems desperately unhappy and uninvolved in all the frivolities, has an underlying motive... Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Monday, February 16, 2009

Lord Vishnu's Love Handles: A Spy Novel (sort of)

Author: Will Clarke Publication Date: 2005 Category: Humour Who'll want to read it? Anyone with a sense of humour and sense of the absurd. Point of no return: I rather liked the title to begin with, but page 1 definitely dragged me in. Classic line: "A therapist once told me I might be crazy. Well, he didn't exactly say that, but I knew what he meant. That's when I stopped talking about what "I know". And I stopped seeing that asshole. Now, I keep what goes on inside my head in my head." Pg 4 What's it all about? Dallas yuppie Travis Anderson thinks he's psychic, but is he? The resulting pages are hilarious as Travis's upper-middle-class lifestyle crumbles around him. It's a fast paced 'spy novel, sort of' in which the IRS, the CIA, Lord Vishnu and Disneyland bring the whole story to a sort of happy ending. Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

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

Tales from outer suburbia

Author: Shaun Tan Publication Date: 2008 Who'll want to read it? Anyone What's it all about? This is a book of short stories incorporating beautiful and extremely detailed illustrations. It is a book that reminds you of all those fantastic theories and questions you had when you were a child like "Does the world end at the edge of the last map in the street directory?" or "What would happen if a whale landed in your front yard?". There a stories about secret gardens, stick men, exhange students, saving turtles and missiles.
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

The Time Traveler's Wife

Author: Audrey Niffenegger Publication Date: 2003 Category: Fiction Who'll want to read it? People who like love stories with a bit of honesty and bite. I know that sounds strange when the book involves time travel, but the story felt very real to me.
Point of no return: After reading the prologue. Classic line: "(... it seems foolish and self-important to just declare one's own death as an out-and-out fact.) About this death of mine ... " What's it all about? Henry (a librarian) has a genetic ...erm... disorder, that causes him to time travel involuntarily. Clare (an artist) is his wife. She first meets him when she is six, and he is 36. He first meets her when she is 20, and he is 28. There are a lot of different relationships in this book, a lot of different kinds of love - passionate, unrequited, romantic... It is a very honest look at two people's lives and the way they deal with a very difficult problem.
Publisher: Harcourt