Monday, July 20, 2015

Reading Days and Nights

Hello fellow wannabe librarians,

My reading mojo seems to have returned, which is good because I have so many good books waiting to be read. Lately it's been adult fiction that I've been ploughing through. Here are some of the things I've been reading...

The Convent by Maureen McCarthy

The Convent is one of those books that flicks between time frames and characters but with a thread that weaves each story together. Based on the lives of Cecilia, a nun in the 1960s and Peach a 19 year old who finds herself working at was once the convent, now converted into studios, cafes (actual setting in Melbourne - which I'm now desperate to visit!)... I really enjoyed this read it manages to harmoniously and sympathetically blend the life of a young novice in a convent and a modern, agnostic teenager. Neither life feels contrived or stereotyped and I think that is a hard balance to strike when they are both running side by side. This is the first of McCarthy's books that I have read but I am looking forward to the next of hers I have on my reading pile. Great reading for anyone who likes books where women of all ages are the main characters.
Details - Allen & Unwin, May 2015 RRP $16.99, also available as an ebook

Hush Little Bird by Nicole Trope

2 women find themselves in the same minimum security prison. Their crimes are unrelated, their ages and social status totally dissimilar but their lives are tangled by a past that both of them keep closed. As the story unfolds their pathways close in... what will happen when their stories come together? This story also bounces between both characters points of view. Hush Little Bird really hooked me in but it is also a really difficult read - you can see and sense the lives unravelling and you sort of know where it is going before it gets there. The characters felt realistic not caricatures of what they might be. I would be happy to read other titles by Trope - her writing is engaging and she deals with difficult topics with sensitivity and in a gentle way. Warning - this book contains sexual abuse of children. It is handled without gratuitous detail but it is still there, and harrowing.
Details - Allen & Unwin, June 2015 RRP $29.99, also available as an ebook

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan

F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of The Great Gatsby, one time darling of Hollywood. Written as a novel West of Sunset follows the final few years of Fitzgerald's life. The glamour and grind of Hollywood, the  encroaching shadows of WW2 and the decline of a man who is scrambling for the adoration that was once his. This book is like peering through the windows of the glamour-world we imagine the golden years of Hollywood to have been. Only, we find when glancing through the windows that the reality is not what we imagine. I found Fitzgerald's alcohol dependency and decisions hard to read at times - but I guess that is the reality of a brilliant person undone by their own weaknesses and addictions. The book also follows his difficult relationship with his wife Zelda, who spent many years institutionalised. Perfect for the lover of great names, the 1940s and Hollywood glitz as well as the struggling artist.
Details - Allen & Unwin, May 2015 RRP $29.99, also available as an ebook

The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox

John Wonder - man of 3 lives. Three wives, three sets of children - all named Adam and Evie and a carefully, intricately constructed life that keeps the three hemispheres separate. I like the premise of this book and the ending really worked for me but I really had to push myself to keep reading and there were a number of times that I wanted to give up. There was quite a lot of sexually explicit imagery which really diminished the book for me. I find this kind of thing really off putting and it was the whole identity of one of the key characters, so it does dominate the narrative. The book is clever and the way things unfold at the very end is really interesting but I wanted much more of the end and more of the three wives and who they were - which I didn't get enough of. This book and its author has a lot of praise - it didn't really work for me but I'd be open to other books by this author.
Details - Allen & Unwin, April 2015 RRP $32.99, also available as an ebook

At The Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

If I struggled to get through the novel above then I gorged on this one. Ellis, Hank and Maddie disgrace themselves in Philadelphia and find themselves cut loose socially and financially. So begins their journey to Scotland in search of the Loch Ness monster and trying to redeem themselves. Set against the backdrop of World War Two and the relationships between Maddie, her husband Ellis and his constant companion Hank the relationships become more difficult and entangled as the novel progresses. This book is really all about relationships and perceptions and I enjoyed the character of Maddie immensely. Perfect winter reading. I would happily read any of Gruen's novels. Highly recommended.
Details - Allen & Unwin, April 2015 RRP $32.99, also available as an ebook

Phew.... see I told you I'd been reading!! Next up some book reviews by some awesome boys I know. Hope that winter has been affording you some wonderful reading moments to snatch.

I sometimes have the opportunity to interview authors too, which is really cool. What questions do you always want to ask an author?? Do you like author interviews too?

love you more than the opening line of a wonderful read xxxx

thanks to Allen and Unwin for these great books - reviews and opinions my own, obviously ;-)