Posts

Showing posts from May, 2018

Reading journal: Aurora Darwin by Angela Bridgeman

Image
Genre: Science Fiction Published: 2013 Series: Aurora Date read: March 2018 Solid science fiction story about a female marine, Corporal Carrie Wells, who finally achieves her dream of assignment to a space vessel. She embarks on Captain Saul Harris’s ship, Aurora, on a rescue mission to Darwin Station, which has fallen out of radio contact. Carrie faces resentment from the previously all-male crew, and on arrival at Darwin the danger to all is extreme. The story has a strong military dimension, and some excellent descriptions of attacks, ambushes and fights. Not entirely my cup of tea, but this is a popular series with wonderful titles, including Aurora Pegasus , Aurora Meridian , Aurora Eden , Aurora Centralis and Aurora Decima .

Reading journal: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge

Image
Genre: Fantasy/Children Published: 1946 Date read: April 2018 This charming tale is set in the early Victorian era. Maria, an orphan, accompanied by her governess Miss Heliotrope and by the world’s most conceited dog, travels to the West Country to live with her cousin, Sir Benjamin Merryweather. A rich cast of characters helps Maria solve some mysteries, find out some secrets, and right some wrongs, ensuring everyone lives happily ever after. There is Old Parson, a musician; the evil Black Men led by Monsieur Coq le Noir; the courageous shepherd boy Robin and his mother Loveday, and a host of semi-magical animals. I loved this book as a child, and enjoyed it again this time. There is plenty of humour and lovely descriptions of the real landscape and the dreamlike fantasy world only a heartbeat away. Unfortunately, my nieces from the Harry Potter generation thought it was boring and refused to read it. Recommended, therefore, for adults. Worth it for the six-page descript

Reading journal: Seeing Red by Patty Jansen

Image
Genre: Science fiction Published: 2013 Series: Ambassador Date read: April 2018 Great space opera. This first book in the long-running Ambassador series is strong on world-building. The various aliens and their cultural attributes are done very well, as is the complex plot. The descriptions of refugees trying to escape through a crowded spaceport are particularly wrenching. Cory Wilson is Earth’s ambassador to the gamra , an interplanetary organisation that controls trade in space. Earth isn’t quite ready, and assassinations, riots and general mayhem ensue. Cory has to negotiate a path through conflicting plots, schemes and motivations to save Earth from attack. As a sub-plot, he must also resolve a personal romantic issue—this is the weakest part of the story, as his betrothed is feeble and annoying, but fortunately is not over-emphasised. Recommended for space opera lovers.

Reading journal: A Place to Stay by Jennie Jones

Image
Genre: Romance Published: 2016 Date read: March 2018 Rachel has moved to an outback town under an assumed name to escape from her violent criminal husband, and from the police who want to talk to her. Local cop, Luke, falls for Rachel, but complications arise when she rejects his interest out of fear, and he becomes aware of her history and is required to protect her and find out what she knows. Some local criminals and the arrival of the evil husband and his cronies are sketched in, but the focus is on the protagonists coming to trust each other. I enjoyed the descriptions of the red dust town. In fact, I enjoy all rural/outback romances simply because of the scenery. Sometimes I would like the plots to be a little more convincing.

Reading journal: Three wishes: Maybe, a love story by Peter Quinton

Image
Genre: Fantasy Published: 2018 Date read: April 2018 An imaginative story. Mary’s life is a mess, until a genie offers her three wishes and she liberates him from her computer. From then on things get complicated, dreams or possibly time travel are involved, as is plenty of medieval poetry from Persia and Andalusia. Very romantic interludes interspersed with confusing modern day actions eventually resolve into what might be a happy ending. I enjoy Peter Quinton’s experimental works and the way he melds stories from the past with modern experience. This one was light hearted and fun, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. Give it a try.

Reading journal: Murder Takes the High Road by Josh Lanyon

Image
Genre: Crime/Romance Published: 2018 Date read: April 2018 Carter Matheson, a librarian from California, joins a bus tour of Scotland for fans of crime author Dame Vanessa Rayburn. The tour visits locations used in Vanessa’s books. Carter isn’t enjoying the tour, mainly because his ex is also there with his new partner. There are compensations though; Carter is attracted to another passenger John Knight, and there is something mysterious going on behind the scenes which he is determined to expose. I enjoyed this book very much. Lots of suspense, poor Carter suffering miseries on the romantic side, and a not particularly surprising exposé at the end. Shades of Agatha Christie. Josh Lanyon is a prolific author who produces work of varying quality, but this one is most enjoyable.

Reading journal: How St Francis Tamed the Wolf by Elizabeth and Gerald Rose

Image
Genre: Children Published: 1958 Date read: April 2018 I received this picture book for my fifth birthday, and it made a huge impression on me. The story is an old one. A wolf is terrorising a town. St Francis tames the wolf with kindness and the townspeople undertake to feed the wolf so that he won’t need to hunt. The illustrations are brilliant and funny. In one, the wolf chases the schoolmaster around in his nightshirt. Remember, I was only five years old. In another, the hunters are cautiously following the wolf’s footprints through the snow, while the wolf sneaks cunningly along BEHIND them. And the wolf has a very long, red tongue and very sharp teeth. My copy is worn and repaired with tape on every page. Also on every page are pencil scribble embellishments contributed by one of my younger brothers. That’s why we can never have anything nice. A great story about kindness and getting along. We could do with more of it.

Reading journal: A Kill in the Morning by Graeme Shimmin

Image
Genre: Science fiction/thriller/alternate history Published: 2014 Date read: April 2018 The story starts in 1955, with an assassination. OK, this is a cold war spy thriller. The German Reich still rules over Europe. Hmm. Not only a spy thriller, then, but an alternate time line. Flashbacks into the protagonist’s involvement in destroying a Norwegian heavy water plant. OK, also a WW2 war story. Later, a mysterious experiment involving an ultimate weapon, time travel. I give in! It’s science fiction as well. A great story told at tremendous pace. It’s mostly told in the first person and the present tense, something I usually find tedious, but Shimmin is a master. You really want the protagonists to succeed and every setback is terrible. The author said he was inspired by Robert Harris’s Fatherland but many other influences can be identified. However, this book is all Graeme Shimmin’s, and it’s a keeper. If you like thrillers spiced with flavours of other genres, this one is

Reading journal: Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold

Image
Genre: Fantasy Published: 2015 Series: Penric and Desdemona Date read: April 2018 Penric is a young man whose life is transformed after an act of kindness. On the way to his betrothal ceremony he stops to help an old woman dying by the roadside. In return he receives a demon that gives him magical powers and knowledge that sets him on the path to becoming a sorcerer and temple divine. The twist is that the demon is not a single personality, but an aggregation of twelve assertive women. Quite a shock for a young man, to have twelve older sisters inside his head critiquing his every thought and action! Penric gifts them with the collective name of Desdemona. I love this book and this series. Whatever this author writes, I read it. Several times so far, in this case. Highly recommended for lovers of fantasy and humour.

Reading journal: Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Image
Genre: Fantasy Published: 2000 Series: Dresden Files Date read: April 2018 Great first book in a long series. Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago. In this story he takes on a black wizard while fending off destitution, a persistent reporter/girl friend, a fed-up police lieutenant, a crime boss, a hostile vampire, deadly magical scorpions and the enforcer from the wizards’ White Council. Harry’s story is told effectively in the first person with lots of humour and masses of wizardry action. I loved the first few books in this series, although the later ones dropped off in intensity a little. The books are better than the television series. Recommended.

Book review: Running Down: Water in a changing land by Mary E White

Image
Genre: Nonfiction Published: 2000 Date read: March 2018 This book explores the evolution of Australia’s river systems and how they have changed since European settlement. The book is packed full of wonderful photographs, maps, diagrams, and anecdotes, and a sobering message. White doesn’t paint a very optimistic picture. Our farming practices have created immense damage that most of us are not even aware of, since what we see now is what we assume was always there. There’s a truly awful story told by an old farmer from the Riverina. He describes how, on the advice of the Department of Agriculture of the time, they kept their land plowed and fallow. One heavy storm later, and most of their topsoil flowed into local rivers and creeks, filling them to the brim with mud and killing all the fish and other wildlife within. None of those rivers or creeks ever recovered to their previous condition, and neither did the farms. A tragedy. Publication of this book was sponsored by a g

Reading journal: And Fire Came Down by Emma Viskic

Image
Genre: Crime Published: 2017 Series: Caleb Zelic Read: March 2018 Caleb Zelic returns in this sequel to Resurrection Bay . He is struggling to keep his investigation business going without his old partner, and when a young woman asks for his help moments before her death he is reluctant to take the case. Instead, he wants to pursue his relationship with his ex-wife Kat, so he returns to his home town. Things aren’t going well at home, with arson and racial tension dividing the town and evidence of a drug war behind the scenes. Caleb can't help himself, and his investigation again brings danger to his loved ones. Eventually he has to choose between Kat and pursuit of the criminals. As in the first book, we see Caleb struggling with his hearing impairment, and with his father’s internalised harsh criticism. Caleb has to learn to ask for help, the one thing he has spent a lifetime avoiding. Great story, a step up from Resurrection Bay. Highly recommended.

Reading journal: Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

Image
Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery Published: 2017 Series: Green Men Read: January 2018 Set in Britain after the first World War, which had been fought in the occult world as well as the muddy and lethal real one. Saul Lazenby, a disgraced archeologist, takes a job working for an obsessive amateur researcher, the kind of man “liable to end up with ancient masonry falling on his head”. The investigations put Saul in danger’s way too often to be coincidental. Saul meets Randolph Glyde, a man responsible for keeping the mystical world on an even keel. The action shifts to the fens, where Saul and Randolph are trapped out of time and attacked by horrible fen-grendels rising up from the marshes. They survive through courage and “kissing for dear life in a dead land”. A great story, excellent pace, scary scenes, suspense, interesting ideas, sarcastic humour and a happy ending, everything I’ve come to expect from KJ Charles. Highly recommended.