Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.
Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established she disappears.
Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.

Melina has cemented her place as one of Australia’s masters of storytelling with her new novel Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil. This book is her first adult novel. Melina has twice been awarded the CBCA children’s book award and her best known YA novels are Looking for Alibrandi, Saving Francesca and
On the Jellicoe Road.

This clever detective thriller gripped me from the first chapter and didn’t let go. It is a narrative of one of the uglier turmoil's of today’s society: racism and cultural ignorance blended with courage, family, love and friendship.

I invested myself in each of the book’s multifaceted characters which Melina effortlessly created. The spunk of Violette and the gritty personal and professional struggles of Bish were standouts. The exciting subplots come together as cleverly as a fine spider’s web.

If you are a fan of Melina Marchetta’s you wont be disappointed this book and if you are yet to discover her stories Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is a must read.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Love, Marilyn (DVD)

50 years after Marilyn Monroe’s death, her acting coach discovered 2 boxes of personal papers and diaries, which are presented here by various Hollywood actors in fine dramatic style. Each actor reads either as Marilyn or as key people in her life, as written by Monroe during her turbulent and troubled life.
Included also is footage of Marilyn and excerpts from interviews which contribute to the revelation of “who was the real Marilyn Monroe?”, which, it seems ,is a difficult one to answer.
This is by far one of the best Monroe documentaries I have ever seen, for its’ dramatic effect and sensitive, personal portrayal of the star and her evident power to create a world-known persona.
Marilyn paid attention to her craft from early on in her career, and as this fascinating documentary shows, will be remembered in her many films and footage and now, in her own words.


Friday, 25 November 2016

Your fathers, where are they? And the Prophets, do they live forever? Dave Eggers

What a title, right? Not to judge it by its cover, but it was this very intriguing quote from the bible (I didn’t know it was until I looked it up on Wikipedia…) and what drew me to even have a look at this book. Getting started on it at 10pm one night about a year ago, I literally could not put it down until around 2am when I had finished it, making this one the quickest books I have ever read, not to mention one of the most different (I usually read fantasy/scifi). And it was that riveting!

As the back of the book states, a man kidnaps an astronaut, one of his childhood heroes, to simply ask him some questions. But this is only the beginning of such kidnappings, and the questions themselves are far from simple. This is a journey of (masculine) self-discovery in an age when such things are no longer as valued as they once were. The times and necessities for a man to punch down a wolf or blow up a mountain are behind us, but this leaves the protagonist aching for some new frontier to conquer or enemy to subdue. Hence the kidnapping.

Without giving too much away, as this story reads like a hostage thriller film, and the revelations need to be read, it is very fast paced but at no moment does our main man actually want to harm any of his victims, even though he is willing to if they do not answer him. The hostages extend from the astronaut, to a member of the kidnapper’s family right through to a prominent political figure. Maybe this book may answer some of our own questions about what we need to do with existing masculine energies that, if not used/spent, can be a source of self-destruction, to the individual or the community they come from.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Soulless – Gail Carriger. Book one of the Parasol Protectorate.

A Novel of Vampires, Werewolves and Parasols.
‘First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.’
Alexia Tarabotti is a Victorian London woman, she is also a metanatural or ‘soulless’. Her touch will render a vampire or werewolf temporarily mortal, understandably considered the height of societal bad manners.
When she is framed for the disappearance of a number of important vampires she must work for queen and country to find the true culprits. She is joined on her quest by Werewolf Alpha Lord Maccon and a particularly ugly parasol. If she fails her standing in London society, such as it is, may be forever damaged.
This is a fun book, it’s unique in that creatures usually the subjects of horror stories are instead nocturnal members of polite society with the same expectations of civility placed on them as any human. Alexia is a wonderful narrator, she’s no nonsense, tough and woe befalls anyone who gets between her and cream clotted scones with tea.
Alexia’s is a Steampunk story with a monster twist, the first series is five books long with a second series currently in progress.

Lauren F

Friday, 18 November 2016

Genesis gunplay by John Davage

Cody McCade rides into Genesis looking to uncover the truth about the sudden disappearance of the town’s previous sheriff and the mystery of a young man’s homestead, razed to the ground just before his wedding. But when up against local thugs and the powerful and deadly Shaw family he realises it will take more than asking around to get any answers. And the townsfolk have another mystery on their hands: just who is Cody McCade and what brings him to Genesis? Even as answers to some of those questions came to light, more mysteries were triggered.

As an avid reader of Western I found this to be an excellent read, I enjoyed the well crafted characters, each having their own personality that makes you want to side with them, or see them get their comeuppance. As well as tough male roles Cody and The Shaw family, he also includes a number of strong females too, one of whom does something that sees McCade set to take the fall for it, making this a very difficult book to put down. I will be eager to find and read more of his works.


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Roar: How to Match your Food and Fitness to your Female Physiology for Optimum Performance by Stacy T. Sims PhD.

This book delves into the physiological differences of female athletes, belaying the idea that women are just ‘little men’. Female athletes are physiologically different to male athletes and need to fuel, recover and repair accordingly.

It was refreshing to read a book oriented specifically to female physiology, including issues unique to women. Written by a woman who has not only researched the subject academically, but also competed at an elite level of fitness.

Straightforward writing style, easy to understand and follow with great advice for female athletes. Sometimes the advice challenges conventional health wisdom, such as the popularity of low-carb diets and how it can detrimentally impact a woman’s health, the pros and cons of supplements and the use and abuse of sports gels and drinks. While the focus is primarily on women competing in endurance sports like cycling or marathons, the advice provided can be beneficial to all female athletes for optimum nutrition and gaining the most from their effort.


Monday, 14 November 2016

Wings of fire: an autobiography by Abdul Kalam

Wings of fire is an autobiography of APJ Abdul Kalam written jointly by Arun Tiwari and Adbul Kalam, covering his early life and his work in Indian space research and missile programs.

APJ Abdul Kalam is a renowned Indian scientist who went on to become 11th President of India (2002-2007). He is very well known across India and is a recipient of India’s three highest civilian awards – Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and Bharat Ratna and Doctorate Honour from 40 University around the World. It is the story of a boy from a humble background who went on to become a key player in Indian space research/Indian missile programs and later became the president of India. It was very engaging initially, but tended to drag a bit towards the end with lot of technical details and procedural information of his space research and missile projects.

The initial chapters provide an interesting glimpse of religious harmony which existed before India’s partition. Kalam in younger years wanted to be an officer in air force; however he couldn’t clear the interview. “Accept your destiny and go ahead with your life”.

In the book we learn how Kalam started his career in Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) and were involved in the design of a hovercraft. Later he moved to Indian Space Research which was the brain child of Vikram Sarabhai. In 1963, Kalam went to NASA facility in Maryland (USA) as part of a training program on sounding rocket launching techniques. The book covers a lot of behind the scenes information and technical details about India’s satellite and missile program (SLV-3, Prithvi, Agni, Thrisul, Akash and Nag). Space and missile programs are huge complex projects and managing them is extremely challenging. The book does give a glimpse of the participatory management technique adopted by Kalam, but at the same time it doesn’t go into details.

Kalam is a poet and is a huge fan of poems. The book contains many of his own poems and his favorite poems.

One of the things that stand out throughout the book is Kalam’s positive thinking. He held many high ranking positions in various organizations. Yet in the book he rarely mentions anything about lethargy/corruption of bureaucracy or politicians. The secret to his success seems to be his ability to ignore negative things around him. The book also gives a clue to his popularity in India. Kalam is a simple, secular, inspiring humanitarian.

Worth reading for the students and young minds who are after the pursuit of their dreams come true. “Dream is not that which you see while sleeping it is something that does not let you sleep”.