Abundant Books

The blog of a self confessed book addict. Reviews and musing about what, where and how I read.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Good Reading

Good Reading is the Australian independent monthly magazine for all book lovers. Inside you'll meet authors, discover some intriguing book facts or join a reading group and through our independent reviews of books from all genres, including fiction, biography, history, mind body and spirit, gardening, cooking to kids books, expand your reading horizons. It's not only a good read but can help you find one!

I subscribe to this magazine through work - being a Teacher Librarian I need to keep up with all the current fiction. The reviews are easy to read and all genres are looked at. The feature articles are often very interesting. Myself and our school councillor read it from front to back and choose what we would each like to read. I form lists that I carry in my bag in case I happen by a book store and I often print from the Dymocks website the details of the books that I just have to have and then order them through my local Dymocks store. Every so often, Helen and I create order lists to update the library collection using this magazine.

Well worth the price.

by Tegan Bennett Daylight

Elizabeth has fallen in love in her early adulthood, but with a lack of conviction and disturbing results. A little damaged, in her late twenties she embarks on a new affair with Ross, a fellow academic at her university. Their relationship blooms and offers her protection and security, for which she's been searching since she stopped being a child. She moves into his big, old, rambling family home by the Parramatta River and becomes pregnant. Then Ross's father, who deserted the family as a child and for whom Ross only seems to feel hatred and bitterness, resurfaces. He is living in Spain, but he is dying. Elizabeth persuades Ross that the family should make a journey to see him, to make peace with him and to show him Anna - their new daughter. But their holiday lays bare discomfitting truths and frailties, both in their relationship and each other. Bennett Daylight unfolds Ross and Elizabeth's love affair, and the joy and pain of motherhood, with wonderful sensitivity in a captivating story written in her characteristically spare, limpid prose.

I loved this book. It was written beautifully and the characters and their feelings seemed so real. I found it very easy to identify with Elizabeth's sadness and lack of passion. It seemed that her choice of partner was simply "he'll do". It didn't require any great expenditure of feelings or passion; more companionship than true love. I now want to go back and read Tegan's other books.

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Monday, May 29, 2006

Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Golden

A seductive and evocative epic on an intimate scale, that tells the extraordinary story of a geisha girl. Summoning up more than twenty years of Japan's most dramatic history, it uncovers a hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. From a small fishing village in 1929, the tale moves to the glamorous and decadent heart of Kyoto in the 1930s, where a young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house. She tells her story many years later from the Waldorf Astoria in New York; it exquisitely evokes another culture, a different time and the details of an extraordinary way of life. It conjures up the perfection and the ugliness of life behind rice- paper screens, where young girls learn the arts of geisha - dancing and singing, how to wind the kimono, how to walk and pour tea, and how to beguile the most powerful men.

This book was a selection by the BRA (Book Readers Anonymous) Club that I belong to. I wouldn't normally read something like this, but I did enjoy it. The history and nature of geisha have always seemed mysterious and I'm sorry that they are becoming a dying breed, so to speak. I did lose track of time passing in the novel. It was not always clear how old she was and time did not seem a significant issue. It seemed to just float along. I am glad that all that she did in life did lead her to the Charirman - that was all that she seemed to exist for. Though I do question the notion that your life has no value if you do not have the man that you want. I'll be watching the movie. I imagine that it will be visually breath-taking. The novel did present some beautiful pictures that my imagimnation drew for me.

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Lara: Book One Of The World Of Hetar
By Bertrice Small

For Lara, the half-faerie daughter of John Swiftsword, her beauty is a blessing and curse. To raise money for her father, she agrees to be sold to a Pleasure House, but it turns out that no one, either because they fear her faerie heritage or her unnatural beauty, is willing to bid on her. Instead, Lara is put on a trading caravan heading to the coastal kingdoms of Hetar. First sold to the Forest Lords, who sexually abuse her, Lara escapes to the Desert Kingdom, where a Shadow Prince introduces her to the arts of seduction and desire. When Lara finally reaches the Outlands and meets one of its leaders, Lord Vartan, she discovers her true destiny.

Small begins a new fantasy romance that does have a few of her signature elements - including a heroine whose sexual experiences involve other men beside the hero. It was a fairly simple fantasy novel - not too many main characters and it lacked detail. The world that Small draws is interesting, but there is not enough information or depth. And her euphamisms for private body parts is blah! I don't know whether or not I'll read the next one. It really is a bodice-ripper in disguise.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

How I Read

I am not one to read one book at a time. Unless I'm on holidays. Normally I'll have two or three books on the go at any one time. At the moment I have 'The Garden Book' by Brian Castro' in my work bag - I chose this book because I've decided to read all the books nominated for the Booker Prize this year. On my big lounge chair in my office at work I have 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova, which I half read last year and haven't got back to. I am about to start 'Memoirs of a Geisha' by Arthur Golden as it is one chosen by the BRA Club (the reading group that I belong to). I have yet to see the film as I don't want to spoil the book. I'm going away this weekend, so intend to pick up something at Dymocks this afternoon to read in the car. I am also surrounded by books all day, being a Teacher Librarian, but I rarely read books from the library. I will more often buy a book for the library that I bought for myself, enjoyed and thought that some of my users would like.

by Kelley Armstrong

Eve Levine made a bargain with Fate, and now she's come to collect, sending Eve off on a quest to retrieve the soul of an escaped demi-demon. Playing ghost world bounty hunter isn't exactly what Eve had in mind for an afterlife career, but a deal is a deal. Eve never breaks a promise...even when the cost of repaying that debt turns out to be more than this ghost can afford.

This is part of a wonderful series of books. You can jump books - they are written so you can pick it up anywhere and not be totally confused. Although the narrator changes, the books take place in chronological order, in the same universe with the same cast of characters. A narrator from one book will appear as a character in another. Events from one book will be referenced in others. Some subplots carry on from novel to novel, bridging narrators. It's done very cleverly and there are always characters that you build a relationship with. Another series that I have to order from my local Dymocks. There are also quite a few shorter stories dealing with teh same characters on the web.


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Tears of the Giraffe
by Alexander McCall Smith

"The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency" introduced Precious Ramotswe - sassy owner of Botswana's only detective agency. Here, we are taken further into Precious' world. Among her cases this time are wayward wives, unscrupulous maids, and the challenge to resolve a mother's pain for her long-lost son.

I started reading this series as I was after a light, entertaining book. I read a lot of fantasy peopled with dozens of major characters, so I was after a change of pace. The people in these books are so calm, take life at a slow pace and have a lovely way of treating each other. Even the crimes and mysteries that Precious Ramotswe solves don't seem frenetic or particularly complex. If you are looking for a few hours light reding, try this series.

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Club Dead :A Sookie Stackhouse Vampire Mystery
by Charlaine Harris

Things between cocktail waitress Sookie and her vampire boyfriend Bill seem to be going excellently (apart from the small matter of him being undead) until he leaves town for a while. A long while. Bill's sinister boss Eric has an idea of where to find him, whisking her off to Jackson, Mississippi to mingle with the under-underworld at Club Dead. When she finally catches up with the errant vampire, he is in big trouble and caught in an act of serious betrayal. This raises serious doubts as to whether she should save him or start sharpening a few stakes of her own ...

Book three in a series. Easy to read, a horror that doesn't take itself too seriously. Sookie is a great character and the vampires in her life are sexy and mysterious. I can't wait to read the next book - I have to order them from my local Dymocks.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Easter School Holidays

My family and some friends spent the Easter school holidays in the Victorian High Country. An absolutely beautiful place and I found time to read four books - 'The Hand of the Devil' by Dean Vincent Carter, 'Club Dead' by Charlaine Harris, 'Tears of the Giraffe' by Alexander McCall Smith and 'Haunted' by Kelley Armstrong. I thoroughly enjoyed them all and I read in some of the most beautiful places imaginable.

by Stephen King

Civilization doesn't end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone.

What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something... well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn't matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath. Before long a band of them - "normies" is how they think of themselves - have gathered on the grounds of Gaiten Academy, where the headmaster and one remaining student have something awesome and terrifying to show them on the school's moonlit soccer field. Clearly there can be no escape. The only option is to take them on.

This a fantastic book - classic King. No aliens, space invaders or ramblings. Good old fashioned horror. It maked my realise how utterly dependent on technology we are, and how invasive it can be. A worthwhile read, but then I've always loved a good zombie story or movie.

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The Hand of the Devil
by Dean Vincent Carter

When young magazine journalist Ashley Reeves receives an intriguing letter, he leaves his London office in the hope of reporting on an unusual species of insect - the Ganges Red. That evening he arrives on Aries Island and encounters the writer of the letter - Reginald Mather. At first Mather seems no more than an eccentric collector, happy to live in isolation on the island. But when Reeves unearths the horrific truth, he finds himself thrown headlong into a macabre nightmare that quickly spirals out of control. His life is in danger ...and Mather is not his only enemy.

This novel was an easy read. A great story, especially if you have read the back story on his web site. I would have enjoyed more depth to the story, but he shows promise as a horror writer.



The Secret River
by Kate Grenville

After a childhood of poverty and petty crime in the slums of London, William Thornhill is sentenced in 1806 to be transported to New South Wales for the term of his natural life. With his wife Sal and children in tow, he arrives in a harsh land that feels at first like a death sentence. But among the convicts there is a whisper that freedom can be bought, an opportunity to start afresh.

Away from the infant township of Sydney, up the Hawkesbury River, Thornhill encounters men who have tried to do just that: Blackwood, who is attempting to reconcile himself with the place and its people, and Smasher Williams, whose fear of this alien world turns into brutal depravity towards it. As Thornhill and his family stake their claim on a patch of ground by the river, the battle lines between old and new inhabitants are drawn.

I ejoyed this book. I had heard both good and bad about it. After it was short-listed for the Booker Prize, I decided to read it and make up my own mind. It is a simple, yet engaging, novel about a man who falls in live with an alien land and the ramifications of his decisions on his family. Well worth reading, especially if you are interested in novels of our early history or just a good read.

Watch the ABC's First Tuesday Book Club review this novel.

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