Stuff On Sundays: Bookshelf Bounty

It’s that time of the month or near enough,  so here is what I have added to my shelves recently.

Click on the cover images to view at Goodreads

For Review (print)

 

For Review (electronic)

 

Acquired

Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 3

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
  2.  Serial killer thriller
  3.  Paranormal romance
  4.  A novel set on an island
  5. Investigative journalism (non fiction)
  6. Disaster fiction
  7. Steampunk sci fi
  8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
  9. Psychology (non fiction)
  10. Immigrant Experience fiction
  11. YA historical fiction
  12. A debut author in 2016

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

You can learn more and SIGN UP here

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

Click the cover for more information about each title.

7. Steampunk

The term ‘steampunk’ was coined in the late 1980’s and I’ve read very little of this relatively new speculative fiction sub genre.  Steampunk works often set in an alternative history of the 19th century, or in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage.

 

8. Any Book Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

The Man Booker Prize is an annual award. Any novel originally written in English and published (not self published) in the UK in the year of the prize, regardless of the nationality of their author is eligible. You can select any title shortlisted since the awards inception in 1969. Wikipedia has an easy reference list.

 

9. Psychology (non-fiction)

I’ve deliberately kept this category general, but I’ve listed mostly popular psychology titles below with great ‘readability’.

 

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.

 You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2016.  For more details, click HERE

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

bookdateimwayr

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is now hosted at Book Date

Life…

This week I was an ‘in class’ guinea pig for my daughter who is training as a nail technician and for the first time in my life I possess long nails, courtesy of the gel technique. They look lovely but they are driving me crazy, everything is more difficult from typing and texting, to opening the multiple cans of Pepsi Max I drink every day. I don’t know how women with even longer nails manage, nor bear the regular long appointments for their application and maintenance. Luckily I spent most of the time chatting to my daughter’s instructor when we figured out we shared a mutual friend and a love of books.

nails

 

What I’ve Read Since I last Posted

Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield

Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

Breakdown by Jonathon Kellerman

 

New Posts

Review:  Darkest Place by Jaye Ford ★★★★1/2

Review: Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R Lansdale ★★★★

Review: The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield ★★★

Review:  This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger ★★1/2

Brooklyn Winners!

Review: Viral by Helen Fitzgerald ★★★1/2

Stuff On Sundays: Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

 

What I Am Reading Today

The best things in life . . . can be just around the corner. Rachel and Becca aren’t real sisters, or so they say. They are step-sisters, living far apart, with little in common. Rachel is the successful one: happily married with three children and a big house, plus an impressive career. Artistic Becca, meanwhile, lurches from one dead-end job to another, shares a titchy flat and has given up on love. The two of them have lost touch but when Rachel doesn’t come home one night, Becca is called in to help. Once there, she quickly realises that her step-sister’s life is not so perfect after all: Rachel’s handsome husband has moved out, her children are rebelling, and her glamorous career has taken a nosedive. Worst of all, nobody seems to have a clue where she might be. As Becca begins to untangle Rachel’s secrets, she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about her own life, and the future seems uncertain. But sometimes happiness can be found in the most unexpected places…

 

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. Returning home, exhausted, the driver lets the car drift off the road into a tree. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one is sent through the windshield. He is declared brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital. His heart is still beating. The Heart takes place over the twenty-four hours surrounding a fatal accident and a resulting heart transplant as life is taken from a young man and given to a woman close to death. In gorgeous, ruminative prose it examines the deepest feelings of everyone involved–grieving parents, hardworking doctors and nurses–as they navigate decisions of life and death. As stylistically audacious as it is emotionally explosive, Maylis de Kerangal’s The Heart has mesmerized readers in France, where it has been hailed as the breakthrough work of a new literary star.

Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with Southern Oral Tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birthname Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding her own secrets, the intense bond they once shared was fractured. These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a cryptic letter. “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.” Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.

What if the most terrifying person you’d ever met was your ten-year old sister? A spine-chilling psychological thriller from one of Australia’s finest YA authors.  ‘I promise,’ said Rosa. ‘I won’t kill and I won’t make anyone else kill.’ I can’t see the loophole. Since the guinea pig there’s been nothing. Months now without Rosa killing as much as a mosquito. As far as I know. Che Taylor has four items on his list: 1. He wants to spar, not just train in the boxing gym. 2. He wants a girlfriend. 3. He wants to go home. 4. He wants to keep Rosa under control. Che’s little sister Rosa is smart, talented, pretty, and so good at deception that Che’s convinced she must be a psychopath. She hasn’t hurt anyone yet, but he’s certain it’s just a matter of time. And when their parents move them to New York City, Che longs to return to Sydney and his three best friends. But his first duty is to his sister Rosa, who is playing increasingly complex and disturbing games. Can he protect Rosa from the world – and the world from Rosa?

Reclusive literary legend M. M. ‘Mimi’ Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies-with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane. When Alice Whitley arrives at the Banning mansion, she’s put to work right away-as a full-time companion to Frank, the writer’s eccentric nine-year-old, a boy with the wit of Noel Coward, the wardrobe of a 1930s movie star, and very little in common with his fellow fourth-graders. As she slowly gets to know Frank, Alice becomes consumed with finding out who Frank’s father is, how his gorgeous ‘piano teacher and itinerant male role model’ Xander fits into the Banning family equation-and whether Mimi will ever finish that book. Full of heart and countless ‘only-in-Hollywood’ moments, Be Frank with Me is a captivating and unconventional story of an unusual mother and son, and the intrepid young woman who finds herself irresistibly pulled into their unforgettable world.

***********

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 2

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

I’m happy to welcome those that have signed up for the Eclectic Reader Challenge so far this year, and several already have already gotten started and shared reviews.  The challenge asks participants to read 12 books over the year, each from a variety of different categories. These are:

  1. A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)
  2.  Serial killer thriller
  3.  Paranormal romance
  4.  A novel set on an island
  5. Investigative journalism (non fiction)
  6. Disaster fiction
  7. Steampunk sci fi
  8. Any book shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize
  9. Psychology (non fiction)
  10. Immigrant Experience fiction
  11. YA historical fiction
  12. A debut author in 2016

I encourage participants who aren’t sure what to select for each category to look for recommendations from other book bloggers who they read and follow, or browse lists such as Goodreads Listopia , Library Booklists, or whatever source is favoured, however I thought I might offer a few gleaned from my own browsing.

You can learn more and SIGN UP here

CLICK HERE to view 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

Click the cover for more information about each title.

4. A novel set on an island

I’ve selected these titles that feature islands that are both imaginary and real, large and small, from allacross the world.

5. Investigative Journalism

Investigative journalism is a form of journalism in which reporters deeply investigate a single topic of interest to shed light on a specific issue, such as crime or social injustice.

6. Disaster fiction

It was a lot more difficult than I expected to find examples of disaster (also known as catastrophe or apocalyptic) fiction, given the plethora of disaster films like San Andreas, Poseidon, Independence Day and Twister. Disaster fiction should focus on the disaster itself and the days immediately following, but post apocalyptic fiction, where years or decades have passed since a disaster, is far more common.

 

 

 

Feel free to share your recommendations in the comments.

 You can join the challenge at any time up until December 1st 2016.  For more details, click HERE

Review: This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger

 

Title: This Was Not The Plan

Author: Cristina Alger

Published: Touchstone Feb 2016

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from February 06 to 07, 2016 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

I’ve delayed writing this review because I don’t really have a lot to say about This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger.

It’s a quick, light read populated by charming characters (especially young Caleb), but there isn’t anything particularly unique or memorable about it. Perhaps it is because it features a single father in a role more often relegated to a single mother, struggling with the work/life balance and difficult relationships, that it is receiving rave reviews online, or perhaps I have missed some profundity.

Not a bad read, just not a particularly special one.

Available to purchase via

Simon & Schuster I BookDepository I Amazon US I Indiebound

Booko

Brooklyn winners!

Congratulations paper sign over confetti. Vector holiday illustration.

Congratulations to the following people who have each won a double pass to see Brooklyn in Australian cinema’s.

Diane V, Katy E, Benjamin T, Gloria B, Diane C,

Shannon, Kate W, Ross S, Marlene P, Rosemarie D

Emails have been sent.

Winners were drawn via random.org

Brooklyn_A4Poster

2[3]

 

Review: The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield

 

Title: The Flood Girls

Author: Richard Fifield

Published: Gallery Books Feb 2016

Read and Extract

Status: Read from February 09 to 11, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield is an engaging story of regrets and redemption set in small-town America.

After almost a decade’s absence, Rachel Flood is back in Quinn, Montana (Population:956) to make amends for the devastation she wrought as a wild teen to an openly hostile collection of family, (ex) friends and enemies. After a week of scathing silence, pointed glares and outright threats, Rachel is on the verge of admitting defeat when her mother, Laverna Flood, the proprietor of one of Quinn’s two taverns ‘The Dirty Shame’, is targeted in a robbery and her injuries require Rachel to take her mother’s place behind the bar, and on the local women’s softball team.

This is a story full of family dysfunction, addiction, friendship, failure and forgiveness. Rachel’s search for redemption is complicated, and no-one is inclined to make it easy on her, least of all her self.

Fifield has created an eccentric and often outlandish cast, including the uncompromising Laverna, the frightening Red and Black Mabel’s (distinguished by a rotten smile), Rachel’s no nonsense sponsor, Athena, and the members of the softball team. The town’s three rookie firefighter volunteers are all named Jim, the Police Chief runs the local AA meetings, and Reverend Foote is determined to convert the town’s sinners.

Of all the characters however is Rachel’s neighbour, twelve year old Jake, who is the most endearing. A devotee of Madonna and Jackie Collins, with an individual sense of style and fashion, he is mature beyond his years, but his effeminate manner infuriates his brutal stepfather. Jake is one of the few residents of Quinn willing to give Rachel a chance, and a delightful bond develops between them.

Though the humour is a little uneven and the plot not particularly original, The Flood Girls is written with heart and a genuine feel for small town life. A strong debut.

Available to purchase via

Simon & Schuster I BookDepository I Amazon US I Indiebound

Booko

Review: Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R Lansdale

 

Title: Honky Tonk Samurai {Hap and Leonard #11}

Author: Joe R Lansdale

Published: Mulholland Books Feb 2016

Status: Read from February 07 to 09, 2016 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Honky Tonk Samurai is the 11th book by Joe R Lansdale to feature the entertaining adventures of best friends Hap ‘a former 60s activist and self-proclaimed white trash rebel’ and Leonard ‘a black, gay Vietnam vet and Republican with an addiction to Dr. Pepper and vanilla cookies’.

Their language may be crude, their banter often tasteless but it’s impossible not be charmed by these redneck tough guys whose hearts are usually in the right place. Hap and Leonard may have casual regard for the law, but they share a strong sense of justice, they fiercely defend each other, those they love, and those who need their help.

“I don’t think we ask for trouble, me and Leonard. It just finds us. It often starts casually, and then something comes loose and starts to rattle, like an unscrewed bolt on a carnival ride. No big thing at first, just a loose, rattling bolt, then the bolt slips completely free and flies out of place, the carnival ride groans and screeches, and it sags and tumbles into a messy mass of jagged parts and twisted metal and wads of bleeding human flesh. I’m starting this at the point in the carnival ride when the bolt has started to come loose.”

In Honky Tonk Samurai, Brett, Hap’s live in lady, purchases Marvin Hanson’s private detective agency now that he has been rehired as police chief. The new agency’s first client is an elderly woman who blackmails Hap and Leonard into searching for her granddaughter, who has been missing for five years. Their investigation leads them to an upscale dealership selling much more than just cars, and puts a target on their back.

The plot is fairly simple and a bit of a stretch, but its all in good fun. There is plenty of action and violence on offer as Hap and Leonard, with a little help, take on a biker gang, the Dixie Mafia and a psychotic brotherhood of assassins. The humour is cheeky, often coarse, but the rapid fire banter is laugh out loud funny.

Readers familiar with the series will welcome appearances from characters such as Vanilla Ice, Cason and Jim Bob Luke. Lansdale’s descriptions of the characters that populate his novel are as colourful and vivid as ever.

“That’s when the door opened and a lady came in who was older than dirt but cleaner. She had a cane, which explained the cricket, but the elephant walk was a little more confusing, as she wasn’t much bigger than a minute. She had more dyed red hair than she had the head for. That hair seemed to be an entity unto itself, mounded and teased and red as blood. You could have shaved her like a sheep and knitted a sweater with all that hair, maybe have enough left over for at least one sock or, if not that, a change purse. Her face was dry-looking. She had a lot of makeup on it, as if she were trying to fill a ditch, or several. Her clothes were a little too young for her age, which was somewhere near to that of a mastodon that had survived major climate change but was wounded by it. She had on bright red tight jeans and a sleeveless blue shirt that showed hanging flesh like water wings under her arms. Her breasts were too big, or maybe they were too exposed; the tops of them stuck out of her push-up bra. They looked like aging melons with rot spots, which I supposed were moles or early cancer. “

The last few pages came as a shock but I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that another Hap and Leonard book (Rusty Puppy) is on its way, and I’m looking forward to the premiere of Hap and Leonard on Sundance TV in March 2016.

Available to purchase via

Mulholland Books I BookDepository I Amazon US I Indiebound

Booko

Review: Darkest Place by Jaye Ford

 

Title: Darkest Place

Author: Jaye Ford

Published: Random House Feb 2016

Read an Extract

Status: Read on February 08, 2016 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

I should have known better, being familiar with Jaye Ford’s previous novels. I picked up Darkest Place at 2am to read a few pages before bed and didn’t put it down til I finished the last page, just minutes before my husband’s alarm woke him for work at 5am.

After enduring years of guilt, heartbreak, and regret, Charlotte Townsend has finally found the strength to leave her past behind. In a new town, with a new apartment, and a new name, Carly has enrolled in college and is looking towards her future, but three days into her new life she wakes to find a stranger in her bedroom. When the police answer Carly’s call for help, they find no sign of the man and assure her it was likely a crime of opportunity. Though shaken by the intrusion Carly refuses to let the incident destroy her fledgling confidence…until then it happens again, and then again.

Darkest Place is an absorbing tale of psychological suspense. The tension builds slowly, gathering momentum until you realise you are holding your breath in anxious anticipation.

“She wants to scream. It’s building in her chest. Trapped there, scratching at her lungs as though her ribs are the bars holding it back. She hears breathing. Not her own. Deep and unhurried. It whispers across her face like a warm cloth. It turns her skin to ice. She lashes out. Hits, twists, kicks. She sees it in her mind, feels it in her muscles. But it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t move. Neither does he. She sees him now. A shape in the darkness. Above her, black and motionless. He is watching. She watches back. Fear roaring through her bones, pulse thumping in her ears. Her voice is wedged in her throat now and choking her. No. Something else is squeezing, pushing down, making blood pound in her face. Warm hand, hard fingers. She doesn’t want to see. Doesn’t want to feel. She shuts her eyes. Waits. “

Carly is a complex character, and given her emotionally fragility, I was never quite sure if I could trust her perception of events as the story progressed. The police certainly have their doubts about the reliability of her reports, and Carly’s psychiatrist offers a rational opinion that could explain her experiences, but I was sympathetic to her distress.

“She caught sight of herself in the mirror. Hair a mess, face tear-stained. Dark-ringed, pale, wild-eyed. And she spun away, the image burned onto her retinas. Distraught, panicked, confused. She looked like Charlotte. No, worse than that. She looked crazy.”

I have to admit I was ambivalent about the ending, though it works within the context of character and story, I didn’t find it wholly satisfying, though I can’t really reveal why I feel that way without the risk of spoilers. Nevertheless, there is closure and a sense of triumph and hope.

Darkest Place is Ford’s fifth novel and I would say her best to date. Clever, thrilling and gripping.

Available to purchase from

Random House Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko

Amazon US

Also by Jaye Ford reviewed at Book’d Out


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 

bookdateimwayr

The It’s Monday! What Are You Reading meme is now hosted at Book Date

Life…

I had a busy weekend, aside from the usual mundane activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, washing and cleaning, basketball season has begun and I’m back to coaching, and my parents and younger brother (whom I only see once a year or so because he lives in the Northern Territory) came for a visit. We went ten pin bowling,  in the photo below you can see my four kids on the left, my parents in front on the right, and behind them my brother and my oldest daughter’s (6ft4!) boyfriend.

bowling_family16

 

What I Read Last Week

 Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster

This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger

Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R Lansdale

New Posts

Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar ★★★★1/2

Review: How To be Single by Liz Trucillo ★★

Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore ★★★

Win 1 of 10 double passes to see Brooklyn in Aussie cinemas

Blog Tour Review: All That is Lost Between Us by Sara Foster ★★★★1/2

Stuff On Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

 

What I Am Reading Today

Carly Townsend is starting over after a decade of tragedy and pain. In a new town and a new apartment she’s determined to leave the memories and failures of her past behind.  However that dream is shattered in the dead of night when she is woken by the shadow of a man next to her bed, silently watching her. And it happens week after week. Yet there is no way an intruder could have entered the apartment. It’s on the fourth floor, the doors are locked and there is no evidence that anyone has been inside. With the police doubting her story, and her psychologist suggesting it’s all just a dream, Carly is on her own. And being alone isn’t so appealing when you’re scared to go to sleep . . .

 What I Plan To Read This Week

(click the covers to view at Goodreads)

Welcome to Quinn, Montana, population: 956. A town where nearly all of the volunteer firemen are named Jim, where The Dirty Shame—the only bar in town—refuses to serve mixed drinks (too much work), where the locals hate the newcomers (then again, they hate the locals, too), and where the town softball team has never even come close to having a winning season. Until now. Rachel Flood has snuck back into town after leaving behind a trail of chaos nine years prior. She’s here to make amends, but nobody wants to hear it, especially her mother, Laverna. But with the help of a local boy named Jake and a little soul-searching, she just might make things right.

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James. When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it. Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn’t want to be found?

The best things in life . . . can be just around the corner. Rachel and Becca aren’t real sisters, or so they say. They are step-sisters, living far apart, with little in common. Rachel is the successful one: happily married with three children and a big house, plus an impressive career. Artistic Becca, meanwhile, lurches from one dead-end job to another, shares a titchy flat and has given up on love. The two of them have lost touch but when Rachel doesn’t come home one night, Becca is called in to help. Once there, she quickly realises that her step-sister’s life is not so perfect after all: Rachel’s handsome husband has moved out, her children are rebelling, and her glamorous career has taken a nosedive. Worst of all, nobody seems to have a clue where she might be. As Becca begins to untangle Rachel’s secrets, she is forced to confront some uncomfortable truths about her own life, and the future seems uncertain. But sometimes happiness can be found in the most unexpected places…

Psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware is surprised to get the call when well-known TV actress Zelda Chase turns up half-naked, half-mad in the LA’s rural Westside. He has little connection to the starlet, save a psychiatric evaluation he performed on her adopted son several years ago, a child who has since vanished without a trace and whom Zelda refuses to talk about. When the actress turns up dead a few weeks later without a scratch on her, Delaware calls in police lieutenant Milo Sturgis to help him crack the case—or at least the wall of silence surrounding it. When the body of a second actress turns up with the same mysterious cause of death, Delaware and Sturgis start to wonder—is this a copycat case or a coincidence? When they uncover the death of another actress, a star from another era who vanished decades ago, never to be found, they realize they’re facing one of their most baffling, mind-bending cases yet.

***********

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!

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