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

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

Stuff on Sundays: 2016 Eclectic Reader Recommendations Part 1

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

I’m going to cover the first three categories today, and continue over the next month or so.

Click the cover for more information about each title.

 

A book about books (fiction or nonfiction)

Books about books are irresistible to most readers. Here are a mix of fiction and non fiction titles you could choose from

2. Serial killer thriller

Many of today’s bestselling crime and thriller novels feature serial killers with police hot in pursuit but serial killers can also become the unlikely antiheroes of the story…

3.  Paranormal romance

A paranormal romance novel blends together themes from the genres of fantasy, science fiction, or horror, but has a fundamental focus on the development of a romantic relationship between two protagonists leading to a ‘happy ever after’ conclusion. Many of these books are published within a series arc but generally focus on a different couple each time so they can be read as stand alone’s.

 

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: Mercury Striking by Rebecca Zanetti

 

Title: Mercury Striking {The Scorpius Syndrome #1}

Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Published: Zebra: Kensington Jan 2016

Status: Read from January 28 to 29, 2016 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

A fast paced, action packed dystopian romance, Mercury Striking is the first in a series from Rebecca Zanetti.

After the world is devastated by a mutated alien virus that usually either kills it’s victims or turns them into psychotic killers, Lynn Harmony, a former director at the CDC, is probably the only person left alive who can find a cure. She desperately needs information from a lab in Los Angeles but to get there she has to safely traverse the dangers of the lawless country while eluding the President’s men and then beg favour from Jax Mercury – nicknamed the King of L.A.

Zanetti has created a rich and intriguing world, the population of America all but decimated by the Scorpius Syndrome. Of the few that survive the virus most become ‘Rippers’, uncontrollable serial killers, but a handful recover most of whom develop varying degrees of sociopathic behaviour.

Small enclaves of survivors fight to endure the destruction of society and its infrastructure across the US including the stronghold ‘Vanguard’ in L.A. led by ex special ops soldier and former gang member, Jax Mercury who protects a group of around 500 men, women and children.

Jax is the only one placed to help Lynn find ‘Myriad’ and complete an important task but with the stain of her glowing blue heart and a presidential bounty on her head she is taking a huge risk when she seeks his help. Jax grants her request for asylum under strict conditions as eager as she to find a cure, but neither is prepared for the relationship that develops between them or the consequences of their relationship.

This is story with plenty of grit, involving plenty of action including deadly firefights and chases, and with some brutal scenes of violence and death, but at its heart Mercury Striking is a romance. . It’s all very ‘alpha male’ meets ‘feisty damsel in distress’ but I enjoyed the development of their relationship and the physical intimacy between Lynn and Jax sizzles (though I really could have done without the spanking scene).

The secondary characters, both allies and enemies, add interest and breadth to the story. I’m guessing that Raze and Vivienne will be the couple to feature in the next book to continue the series.

A quick, exciting, escapist read with an interesting premise and appealing characters, I enjoyed Mercury Striking and I’ll be looking for the next in The Scorpius Syndrome series.

 

Available via

Kensington Books I Amazon US I BookDepsoitory I IndieBound

Booko

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Paranormal Romance

Sign Up for the 2016 Eclectic Reader Challenge

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

In it’s fifth year, the aim of The Eclectic Reader Challenge is to push you outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different categories.

Join in:

The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 2016. Participants may join at any time up until December 1st 2016

  • Create a blog post committing to your participation in this challenge.

* If you don’t have a blog you are still welcome to sign up. You can create a shelf for the challenge at Goodreads or LibraryThing or a similar site Just include your name and a link to your shelf.

  • Select, read and review a book from each category listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.

* You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. You may combine this challenge with others if you wish.

* Where a book is identified by more than one genre eg historical romance, it may only count for either the historical fiction or romantic fiction genres – not both.

* You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just complete the challenge by December 31st 2016 to be eligible for the prize drawing.

Categories

  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

To sign up and get more details visit the 2016 Eclectic Reader Challenge page

2016EclecticReader_BookdOut

Review: Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library by Wayne A. Wiegand

 

Title: Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library

Author: Wayne A. Wiegand

Published: Oxford University Press September 2015

Status: Read on September 25, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Part of Our Lives is a fascinating and passionate treatise on the history, culture and contribution of American public libraries by Wayne A. Wiegand.

With a focus on the perspective of ‘library in the life of a user’ Wiegand explores the important role libraries play in the life of individuals: as distributors of information and education, as a source of fiction that entertains and enlightens, and as social community spaces, debunking the notion that libraries are, or have ever been, simply ‘warehouses for books’.

Tracing the evolution of public library services, from Benjamin Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia established in 1732, through to the 17,219 modern public library systems more than 93 million Americans utilised in 2012, Wiegand draws on official and anecdotal sources to illustrate the value of libraries that statistics don’t always reflect.

In addition Wiegand examines issues such as access, censorship, and technology and the sway of factors such as gender, race, class, politics, and religion, that have have shaped, and continue to affect modern library services.

Though primarily a professional text, Part of Our Lives is an accessible read, I’d recommend it to bibliophiles, social historians and anyone who treasures their library card.

Available to Purchase via

Oxford University Press I Amazon US I BookDepository

IndieBound I Booko

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Microhistory

Review: The Callahan Split by Lisa Heidke

Title: The Callahan Split

Author: Lisa Heidke

Published: August 2015

Status: Read from August 14 to 15, 2015 — I own a copy {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The Callahan Split is Australian author Lisa Heidke’s sixth novel but her first foray into the world of self publishing, supplementing her successful career in traditional publishing.

Professional doubles tennis champions, sisters Samantha and Annie Callahan, have each others backs both on and off the court. Riding high after winning a gold medal at the Olympics they are favourites to win the Australian Open, until Annie’s new boyfriend drops a bombshell just before their first match, and the girls relationship begins to falter. Samantha, ambitious and driven, is irate as a love-struck Annie loses interest in their childhood goal, and is completely devastated when her sister severs their partnership to pursue a singles career. Without Annie by her side, Samantha is lost and is forced to wonder if winning is really everything.

The Callahan Split is a story about sisters, Samantha and Annie share a close personal and professional bond which is severely tested when their goals in life no longer coincide. The main theme takes Heidke’s protagonists on a journey of self discovery, but it also explores serious issues such as depression, anxiety, and abandonment.

I didn’t relate particularly well to either sister initially. I found Samantha’s single-minded focus and emotional immaturity draining, and Annie’s desertion selfish. To be fair, the sisters have their reasons, not the least being their mother’s abandonment, which had a significant impact on them both, and I wasn’t entirely unsympathetic to the pressure they were both under as elite athletes trying to stay on top. Most of the story unfolds from Sam’s perspective, and I grew to appreciate the hard earned growth her character experienced. I felt her relationship with Violet and her family, and her romance with her coach, Bear, also softened her sharper edges somewhat.

I have to admit, I’m not that interested in tennis, though I spent several sleepless nights watching the Australian Open in 2003 as Andre Agassi and Serena Williams claimed the title, while nursing my newborn daughter, however I did enjoy the behind the scenes look this elite level sport, including the gossip about the on and off court antics of the players.

A tale of personal and professional adversity and triumph, The Callahan Split is an engaging story, another winner for Lisa Heidke.

Available to purchase via

Amazon,  Barnes & NobleKobo, iBooks
Available in paperback via Amazon

Also by Lisa Heidke

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Review: What She Left by T.R. Richmond

 

Title: What She Left

Author: T.R. Richmond

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin May 2015

Read an Extract

Status: Read from May 01 to 03, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

Who is Alice Salmon? Student. Journalist. Daughter. Lover of late nights, hater of deadlines. That girl who drowned last year. Gone doesn’t mean forgotten. Everyone’s life leaves a trace behind. But it’s never the whole story.

A Brief Thought:

I think the premise of What She Left is good and I was excited by the idea of the epistolary format, yet somehow the story didn’t quite live up to it’s potential for me. There seemed to be more focus on Professor Cooke, Alice’s former tutor,  than on Alice and her life. I also struggled with the scattered timeline and fairly slow pace.

What She Left is available to purchase from

Penguin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

eclecticreader15

Epistolary Fiction

Review: Hush Hush by Laura Lippman

 

Title: Hush Hush { Tess Monaghan #12}

Author: Laura Lippman

Published: Faber: Allen & Unwin April 2015

Status: Read from April 26 to 28, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

Though Hush Hush is the 12th mystery to feature journalist turned private investigator Tess Monaghan it can easily be read as a stand alone given its encapsulated story line.

In Hush Hush, Tess and her new partner, retired Baltimore P.D. homicide detective Sandy Sanchez, are hired to assess the security needs of Melisandre Harris Dawes, a woman who ten years previously had been charged with the wilful murder of her infant daughter. Having returned to Baltimore with an ambitious documentary maker in tow, Melisandre claims she wants to tell her side of the story and reunite with her estranged teenage daughters, Alanna and Ruby, but a series of sinister notes threaten both the project and the reunion.

The past and the present are on a collision course in this tale of madness, betrayal and murder.

Melisandre is manipulative and demanding and Tess suspects she is not being completely honest with her uncle, Melisandre’s lawyer, Tyner Grey. Despite being found not guilty in the death of her child, due to postpartum psychosis, questions remain about Melisandre’s past and the true motivation behind her current actions.
Melisandre’s surviving daughters, now teenagers, are conflicted about their mother’s attempts to reach out to them, especially as their father is reluctant to allow contact, for both the obvious reasons and to keep his own secrets.

Lippman extends the story beyond the crime exploring the effects of Melisandre’s actions on both her family and the wider community. She also examines the experience of motherhood and the ways in which women can struggle with it.

Events in Tess’s personal life adds another layer of interest to the story. Tess is still adjusting to juggling motherhood with her career, and nurturing her relationship with Crow. She, like Melisandre, is also being taunted by a series of anonymous notes that grow increasingly threatening.

Hush Hush is a solid story of suspense with interesting characters, and though there is very little action, the pace is brisk with events taking place over a period of about two weeks. It is an easy and enjoyable read.

Hush Hush is available to purchase from

Allen & Unwin Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

Weekend Cooking: Season of Salt and Honey by Hannah Tunnicliffe

wkendcooking

I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads a semi-regular post at Book’d Out.

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Title: Season of Salt and Honey

Author: Hannah Tunnicliffe

Published: Pan Macmillan April 2015

Status: Read from April 19 to 20, 2015 — I own a copy  {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Season of Salt and Honey is a bittersweet story of grief, love, family and food from forkandfiction.com blogger and author, Hannah Tunnicliffe.

Overwhelmed by grief after the death of her fiance, Francesca Caputo flees the sympathies of her well meaning family, seeking refuge in an abandoned cabin owned by Alex’s parents in a forested area of Washington. All Frankie wants is time alone to mourn the loss of forever, but her solitude is repeatedly interrupted, forcing her to reassess everything she thought she knew about her relationship, her family and herself.

“We were high-school sweethearts, just like everyone dreams about but no one actually has, because that kind of thing only happens in the movies. I knew right in my bones just how lucky I was. I knew everything was perfect, and did all the right things to keep it that way. Until now.”

Frankie’s grief at the loss of Alex is raw and biting, I felt for her and could understand her wish to be alone. She is craving peace and quiet, and the time to wallow in her happiest memories, but eventually Frankie is forced to confront some painful truths about her relationship with Alex when an offhand comment shakes her to the core.

“A loss that had started long before the ocean took him for good.”

Despite her desire for solitude, Frankie is befriended by caretaker, Jack, and his impish daughter, Huia, as well as the generous spirited Merriem, who all provide unexpected comfort as Frankie struggles to comes to terms with the changes Alex’s death has wrought. I liked these charming, enigmatic characters who offer kindness without expectation.

Frankie’s family is delightful, stereotypically Italian there is no escaping their loving, if somewhat suffocating, concern. While her Papa is a solid, comforting presence, Frankie’s aunts, Zia Rosa and Zia Connie, fuss and worry, cousin Vinnie makes mischief, and her estranged sister, Isabella, camps on her doorstep, reminding her of things she would rather forget.

Frankie’s family equates food with love, and Season of Salt and Honey includes the recipes for a handful of Italian dishes served and shared within its pages, including Pitta Mpigliata (Sweetbread rosettes with fruit and nuts); Lingua de Suocera (Marmalade filled pastries); Spring Risotto; and Pasta alla Norma (Pasta with eggplant, tomato and salted ricotta).

“The smells of the forest — the damp dark of the soil, the bleeding sap of the trees, the lemony cedar smell — all vanish in the company of the Sicilian food: the pungent garlic in Zio Mario’s salami, the vinegar pickling the vegetables, olives bobbing in brine, roasted peppers, the ubiquitous, sunshine-coloured olive oil.”

With lovely writing and a measured, almost lyrical, tempo, Season of Salt and Honey is a poignant novel embracing both the sourness and sweetness of love.

Available to purchase from

Pan Macmillan Iboomerang-books_long I Booktopia I via Booko

Amazon AU  I Amazon US

and all good bookstores.

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