Four more to add to my challenge

The Return of the Dancing Master is another crime fiction – I just can’t keep away from crime fiction.

“When retired policeman Herbert Molin is found brutally slaughtered on his remote farm in the northern forests of Sweden, police find strange tracks in the snow — as if someone had been practicing the tango. Stefan Lindman, a young police officer recently diagnosed with mouth cancer, decides to investigate the murder of his former colleague, but is soon enmeshed in a mystifying case with no witnesses and no apparent motives. Terrified of the disease that could take his life, Lindman becomes more and more reckless as he unearths the chilling links between Molin’s death and an underground neo-Nazi network that runs further and deeper than he could ever have imagined.”

This was a riveting read. Set in the wilds of Sweden the gloom of the weather sets the tone.

Another crime fiction, this time by a Scottish author. I have read many Stuart MacBride books and none has disappointed me.

“Beware of the dark…Welcome to the Misfit Mob – where Police Scotland dumps the officers it can’t get rid of, but wants to. Officers like DC Callum MacGregor, lumbered with all the boring go-nowhere cases. So when an ancient mummy is found at the Oldcastle tip, it’s his job to track down its owner.But then Callum uncovers links between his mummified corpse and three missing young men, and life starts to get a lot more interesting.No one expects the Misfit Mob to solve anything, but right now they’re all that stands between a killer’s victims and a slow lingering death. Can they prove everyone wrong before someone else dies?”
This MacBride novel is a stand alone novel therefore no links to his previous characters.  It was a great read. 

This Tim Winton novel is only a short read but completely compelling.  His descriptive writing of the Australian bush is exquisite.

“In The Shepherd’s Hut, Winton crafts the story of Jaxie Clackton, a brutalized rural youth who flees from the scene of his father’s violent death and strikes out for the vast wilds of Western Australia. All he carries with him is a rifle and a waterjug. All he wants is peace and freedom. But surviving in the harsh saltlands alone is a savage business. And once he discovers he’s not alone out there, all Jaxie’s plans go awry. He meets a fellow exile, the ruined priest Fintan MacGillis, a man he’s never certain he can trust, but on whom his life will soon depend.

The Shepherd’s Hut is a thrilling tale of unlikely friendship and yearning, at once brutal and lyrical, from one of our finest storytellers.” (Goodreads)

The Silent Patient was a psychological thriller.

Alicia Berenson writes a diary as a release, an outlet – and to prove to her beloved husband that everything is fine. She can’t bear the thought of worrying Gabriel, or causing him pain.

Until, late one evening, Alicia shoots Gabriel five times and then never speaks another word.

Forensic psychotherapist Theo Faber is convinced he can successfully treat Alicia, where all others have failed. Obsessed with investigating her crime, his discoveries suggest Alicia’s silence goes far deeper than he first thought.

And if she speaks, would he want to hear the truth?” (Goodreads)

I don’t usually read psychological thrillers but this was certainly worth reading. A twisted tale.

Such an unusual book

“Heather Rose’s novel, “The Museum of Modern Love,” is a part-fact, part-fiction tale of art, love, grief and convergence.” (Joe Wigdahl for The New York Times).

I had not heard of Marina Abramovic before reading this book and I had to check her out on the internet to discover who she was.  The book revolves around a performance by this artist.  A truly remarkable woman.

You need to read this piece by Steve Wieberg to fully appreciate how mind blowing this book is.

There is another review by Tacey Richter which is also well worth reading.

If I tried to review the book I couldn’t do it justice so I will leave that to the links I have included for two professional reviews.

This is one of my favourite books this year.


Well that has changed my previous perceptions.

Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe has certainly changed my view of the history of Australian Aboriginal people. This book ought to be made compulsory reading for every Australian. There is a Ted talk by Bruce Pascoe that covers some of the ground covered in the book (…) but the book goes into much more detail.

I thought I had a fairly good idea of the history of the Australian aboriginal people but this book points out how history has been coloured by the perceptions of those writing about it. In many cases the actual evidence has been ignored so that history has been written to suit the person writing it.

“Dark Emu puts forward an argument for a reconsideration of the hunter-gatherer tag for precolonial Aboriginal Australians. The evidence insists that Aboriginal people right across the continent were using domesticated plants, sowing, harvesting, irrigating and storing – behaviours inconsistent with the hunter-gatherer tag. Pascoe challenges the hunter-gatherer tag as a convenient lie. Almost all the evidence comes from the records and diaries of the Australian explorers, impeccable sources.”

This was an eye opening read.

Couldn’t stop with this one.

I started this book and literally could not put it down.  It started off with what I would call a rather scary element but I was drawn in.  It is a book that has you puzzled throughout and you are even left with questions at the end.  It is the story of an outsider.  A must read.

“Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds.  It’s just her, her untamed companion Dog, and a flock of sheep, which is how she wanted it to be.  But something is coming for the sheep _ every few nights one is picked off and left in rags.

It could be anything.  There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure formidable beast.  And there is Jake’s unknown past as well, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound a story held in the scars that stripe her back.”

A book certainly deserving of the award.

Three that have a link

I have had a sudden burst of reading and these are three of the books I have read.

This one certainly provided a bit of humour to the complexities of growing old. It was a light read and thoroughly enjoyable.

The second book was also linked to old age but with the added twist of involving members of an online bookclub.

I loved this book.

There were so many aspects of the story that reminded me of people I had known or still know.  I loved the fact that there were four books that had been selected by the readers to reveal something of themselves.  Of particular interest to me was the choice of Tirra Lirra by the River as I had it in my pile of “To Read” books as it was a winner of the Miles Franklin Award in 1978.  Mention was also made of the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox , I had written about her in a previous post in 2011.

Tirra Lirra by the river was a short novel, only 141 pages.  Set in Brisbane, Sydney and London over a period of seventy years it is the story of the escapes of Nora Porteous.

“The tightness of a small-town family life, a sanctimonious and mean-hearted husband, the torpor of suburbia – these she endures and finally escapes.  On her flight from cruel realities she is sustained by desperate courage, discerning intelligence and ebullient humour.”

There is a wonderful article by the author Anna Funder on the set texts for secondary students in Melbourne in the 1980s which I suggest you have a look at.

“. . . . Tirra Lirra was a set text for secondary school students in Melbourne, Australia, along with Christina Stead’s masterpiece The Man Who Loved Children and Carson McCullers’ sublime The Member of the Wedding. They are a trifecta of high art, terror and truth that are almost too powerful to give to teenagers, which is to say exactly what they crave and need (as opposed to “relevant” books about “issues” which are “resolved” in candy-floss epiphanies and “growth and change moments”).. . . . “

At the end of her article she acknowledges the influence this book had on her own novel All That I Am.

I highly recommend this novel.

The last of my March books

These are the remaining few books I finished in March.

This was a non-fiction book, my first non-fiction for a while.  I found it extremely interesting and the blurb from the book gives you a good idea of why I found it so interesting.

“I was born into a world that expected very little of women like me. We were meant to tread lightly on the earth, influencing events through our husbands and children, if at all. We were meant to fade into invisibility as we aged. I defied all of these expectations and so have millions of women like me.”

This is the compelling story of Anne Summers’ extraordinary life. Her story has her travelling around the world as she moves from job to job, in newspapers and magazines, advising prime ministers, leading feminist debates, writing memorable and influential books.

Anne shares revealing stories about the famous and powerful people she has worked with or reported on and is refreshingly frank about her own anxieties and mistakes.  Unfettered and Alive is a provocative and inspiring memoir from someone who broke through so many boundaries to show what women can do.

‘It’s the story of a lot of things – Australian politics, feminism, journalism, international intrigue – but most of all it’s the story of an utterly singular woman, who always says “Yes” to life even when it scares her. Her memory for the events, and her frankness about the fear, make this an extraordinary memoir.’ – Annabel Crabb

Anne is perhaps more well known in Australia than the UK or USA but the reading is still relevant no matter where you are.

The Great White Palace was lent to me by a former neighbour who thought I might be interested in the story as I had just returned from a visit to the UK.  She knew I had previously visited Devon and thought this book would suit me.

“This is the story of Tony and Beatrice Porter’s renovation of the near-derelict and long forgotten Art Deco hotel on Burgh Island, after giving up their successful careers as fashion consultants in London’s West End. Up to their necks in debt and with a massive program of repairs and maintenance ahead of them, they gradually labored to restore it to its former glory and into the beautiful, luxurious place it is today.”

This was a super quick read and thoroughly enjoyable. I was interested to see that the hotel was used in the Agatha Christie Poirot series on television.

I would even contemplate making a visit to the island on our next trip to the UK.

I absolutely loved Marcus Zusak’s book.  I could not give a review that would do it justice so I am going to provide a link to a review that I think says it all. It is an expansive, touching saga of an Australian family’s losses and loves.  Interestingly the first few reviews on Goodreads were scathing.  To each his own.

Bridge of Clay Review

Denzel Meyrick is a new Scottish author for me.  I sure am glad that I have found him. I have started with the third instalment in the DCI Daley series but I will have no worries about going back and finding one and two.

“When a senior Edinburgh civil servant spectacularly takes his own life in Kinloch harbour, DCI Jim Daley comes face to face with the murky world of politics. To add to his woes, two local drug dealers lie dead, ritually assassinated. It’s clear that dark forces are at work in the town. With his boss under investigation, his marriage hanging on by a thread, and his sidekick DS Scott wrestling with his own demons, Daley’s world is in meltdown.  When strange lights appear in the sky over Kinloch, it becomes clear that the townsfolk are not the only people at risk. The fate of nations is at stake. Jim Daley must face his worst fears as tragedy strikes. This is not just about a successful investigation, it’s about survival.”

Fast paced crime writing set in Scotland.

“A bus crashes in a savage snowstorm and lands Jack Reacher in the middle of a deadly confrontation. In nearby Bolton, South Dakota, one brave woman is standing up for justice in a small town threatened by sinister forces. If she’s going to live long enough to testify, she’ll need help. Because a killer is coming to Bolton, a coldly proficient assassin who never misses.

Reacher’s original plan was to keep on moving. But the next 61 hours will change everything. The secrets are deadlier and his enemies are stronger than he could have guessed—but so is the woman he’ll risk his life to save.

In his 14th book in the Reacher series Lee Child still gets you hooked.