Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The dead will tell by Linda Castillo [Kathy, Birkenhead Library]


My first introduction to Linda Castillo’s character Kate Burkholder was on an audio book. Her descriptions of Amish life combined with clever crime writing drew me in. A narrator brought the stories to life and I enjoyed these renditions, with the bonus of learning how to pronounce the Pennsylvanian Dutch words. Now I can’t wait for the audio version to be produced and read the print books as soon as I can get them!

This is the sixth in the series but can be read as a standalone novel. Kate is the chief of police in a small rural town and is called out to investigate a suicide. It turns out to be a murder and Kate finds links to a dreadful event from thirty five years ago when five members of a family were killed and the mother disappeared, leaving a sole surviving son. When another murder occurs Kate realises she is dealing with someone intent on revenge.

I like the way Castillo writes – there is a good balance of descriptive and narrative passages, and the story draws you in. Cleverly all Kate’s ‘scenes’ are told in her voice and the rest of the story in the third person, which makes Kate’s view much more personal. Her complicated relationship with state agent John Tomasetti and her past life as a member of the Amish herself make her an interesting and comprehensive character.
You can always rely on a good twist in the books in this series, and this one doesn't disappoint.
Check out the earlier titles too, in print, eBook, or audio versions.

Author: Linda Castillo
ISBN: 9781250029577
Published: 2014
Publisher: Minotaur Books

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Uganda Be Kidding Me-Chelsea Handler [Sue W Central Library]

Total light frothy naughty funny trash. Chelsea I love you. Not so much  your show but your writing is hysterical. She is loud, vulgar, self deprecating and the person that speaks the things aloud that most others filter pre verbalising. 

The first book of Chealsea’s I came across was an entire book dedicated to the one night stands she has had. Yes truly!! I love the fact that she was so brazen (at the risk of sounding like my mother, although mother would use the term brazen hussy) about sharing the plentiful number of candidates but also that freedom as a women to state that yes she is a woman with an appetite, so what of it? 

So after reading that first book I devoured everything else the library had of hers. Like I said, I am not a fan of her E show but love how her humour transpires in written form. This is more of the same, but with a travel focus. Places she has been with her  girl bandits as willing accomplices and various examples of women  on location behaving badly. 

Title: Uganda be kidding me
Author: Chelsea Handler
ISBN: 9781455599738
Publisher: New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2014  

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Friday, September 12, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir [Christine, Takapuna]

The MartianFortune favours the prepared mind..

Mark Watney is in the worst possible situation; he is stranded, left for dead by his crew mates, on Mars. He is the only human on the entire planet, probably the only living thing. Mark however is an engineer, a botanist and a fully trained astronaut. He has the resources that the aborted mission left behind which include a habitation dome, food to last 6 people a month, power and equipment to make breathable air and.... six potatoes. What he doesn't have is immediate hope of rescue.

Much of this book is Mark's account; he devises solutions to living in his low pressure, very cold environment using historical technology when the 21st century stuff just won't do. He makes a ramp out of rocks like ancient Egyptians and a working sextant similar to those used by 18th century mariners. Totally admirable! Bear Grylls eat your hat!

Title: The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
Publisher: Crown
ISBN: 9780804139021
Date: 2014  
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“The Dickens Dictionary” An A-Z of England’s greatest Novelist, by John Sutherland [Ana, Central Library]


The Dickens Dictionary’ by John Sutherland is an interesting book which provides a great insight into Dickens works, the Victorian age, and Dickens himself.  John Sutherland is a literary scholar and clearly a Dickens lover.  The book is arranged like a dictionary or encyclopaedia, with about 90 different topics, which are arranged alphabetically.

Each of the subjects covers about a page and a half and many are accompanied by a photograph, engraving or sketch.  There are topics such as Blue Death, Boz, Catholicism, Christmas, Gruel, Micawberomics, Murder, Perambulation, Pubs, Ravens, Smells, and three segments on the Thames subdivided as:  1. Death and Rebirth, 2. Pauper’s Graveyard, 3. Corruption.

The author explains some of the background to Dickens life and how he wove this into his writing.  As a 12 year old child, Charles Dickens was put to work in a boot-blacking factory while his father and family were in debtors’ prison; this was a profoundly harsh period and Dickens only ever confided the details to his biographer, but he draws on this experience in references in his writing.
We also find out that in his childhood Dickens family was constantly on the move; in later life Dickens himself moved his place of abode constantly, and his final residence was the only house he ever owned - despite being very well remunerated during his lifetime.

The author gives a lot of detail about Dickens works - he puts these in the context of the times, and Dickens own views and experiences.  We find out that Dickens popularity benefited greatly from the expansion of the railway and the steam engine. The railway allowed his works to be distributed widely and quickly.

His writings were issued in serial form, and could be purchased at the station and read on the journey. And one could purchase a publication when boarding the train, and return it again on reaching the destination, for a partial refund or as a part payment for the next instalment. Dickens was involved in a major rail accident in later life and was fortunate to be one of the few survivors.

If you have read some of Dickens works, or if you are interested in the history of the Victorian age, you will find this a real treasure trove.  It is easy to pick up and delve into; you can read one page or many.  The illustrations are equally fascinating.  It is well worth a look.

Author: John Sutherland
ISBN: 9781848313910
Published: 2012
Publisher: Icon Books
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman [Judy, Orewa Library]

I knew a little about Jean Batten from my college days but I had no idea how famous this brave young woman from Rotorua really was until I read Fiona Kidman's brilliant new novel, The Infinite Air.

Jean Batten was obsessed by flying from an early age and, with the enthusiastic support of her mother, she pursued her dreams relentlessly, smashing existing international aviation records. Jean made the first-ever solo flight from England to New Zealand.

As well as describing her aviation achievements, Kidman reveals Jean's family relationships, especially her special bond with her mother. Of course, Kidman makes it a very interesting read.

The Infinite Air inspired me to research more into what Jean achieved - I found clips of her landing her plane, and giving short speeches. She was a real star, and I appreciate that Fiona Kidman has reminded us about her. It's a great read.

Title: The Infinite Air
Author: Fiona Kidman
ISBN: 9781869797928
Published: 2013
Publisher: Random House

- Judy, Orewa Library
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