Thanks for visiting my book blog! What you’ll see here is about what I’m reading now – and a few bits of news about writers and books, especially if they are represented on my bookshelves. I have so many friends who are avid readers and who like to talk, borrow, buy and recommend books, and I hope you’ll feel free to comment or recommend as well. My reading tastes are eclectic – everything from biographies to crime fiction, literary novels and blockbuster best-sellers to travel narratives. There’s a strong Australian bent to a lot of it!
Long flights demand a really riveting read. The book I had started before a recent overseas trip was not quite capturing my attention, so at the airport on my return journey I bought a book I’d seen recently that looked as if it would do the trick.
The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller that keep me page-turning on the 14-hour flight. I really couldn’t put it down. Even the inflight movies that had captured my attention for the flight to Europe couldn’t compete with this fast-paced novel.
The book is the first from former journalist Paula Hawkins, and after hitting the top of the bestseller lists, being optioned by Dreamworks for a movie (can’t wait!) and sold all over the world, it’s sure to be followed by more.
Chapters alternate between the main characters, Rachel, Anna and Megan, and are not always in chronological sequence. But it’s easy enough to follow. Rachel is the girl on the train, who sees something that she believes is important when Megan is reported missing. Anna is married to Rachel’s ex-husband, and lives in the same street as Megan. There are twists and turns and it’s not until the very end that we get an idea of how and why Megan has disappeared, and who is responsible. My allegiance and liking for these characters changed as the book went along; you might not like Rachel much from time to time, but her story will eventually fall into place.
I can’t say too much, so I’ll just say this: buy it. You won’t be sorry. A terrific read.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, Transworld Books, 2015.
Crime writer Michael Robotham has published 11 novels, but this is the first one I’ve read. It probably won’t be the last.
Say You’re Sorry is written in the voice of Piper Hadley, a teenage girl who has been missing for three years. Along with her friend Tash, she simply disappeared one night and the two were believed to be runaways.
But when clinical psychologist Joe O’Loughlin is called in to help police investigate a brutal double murder in the farmhouse where Tash once lived, he begins to suspect that the girls might be still alive. Then Tash’s emaciated body is found during the worst blizzard in a century, and their story begins to take on a much more sinister reality.
By this stage, with the chapters alternately told by Piper and Joe, I couldn’t put the book down. Would Piper be found? And more to the point…who was the man holding her, the man that she and Tash called “George”. And it kept me guessing right until the twist at the very end.
Say You’re Sorry is Michael Robotham‘s eighth novel, published in 2012 and shortlisted for the UK Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger for best crime fiction in 2013. He’s notched up a few more awards and it’s easy to see why.
Robothom is an Australian and lives in Sydney, but his novels are set in the UK, where he lived for some years. The character of Joe O’Loughlin appears in most of them.
This book was lent to me by a fellow crime fiction fan. I’m hoping he’s got a few more I can borrow!
Say You’re Sorry by Michael Robotham, published by Sphere, 2012.
And although there were times I found it deeply disturbing and had to take a break from it, Jeff Guinn’s account of the notorious murderer’s life is a riveting read.
Like most people, I knew the bare bones of the story that made headlines more than 40 years ago, but this is more than just a re-hash of those terrible events which saw nine people, including the young actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant, brutally slain in Tate’s Los Angeles home in 1969.
Instead, the author takes us back to Manson’s childhood, his crimes as an apparently harmless juvenile delinquent and the times he lived in. The book contains the first interviews ever given by Charles Manson’s sister and cousin and includes family photographs.
But most of all, it sets Manson in the context of the 1960s, the politics and social mores of that era. It explains how Manson used his charisma to persuade young impressionable women (and a few men) that he was their saviour and would protect them from the apocalypse that was to come through a race-war he believed would end civilisation as they knew it.
Among the information I’d never heard before was Manson’s obsession with becoming a musician “more famous that The Beatles” and how he ingratiated himself with bands such as The Beach Boys.
Intensive research is at the heart of the success of this book, and it shows. Like me, you may feel the need to walk away from it from time to time, but it’s a fascinating glimpse into a particular slice of history.
That said, I’m glad I borrowed this book from a friend. I’m not sure I want it permanently on my bookshelf.
Manson, The Life and Times of Charles Manson, by Jeff Guinn, Simon & Schuster (UK), 2013.
Writing has taken up more time than reading in recent months, but I’ve been slack in book blogging terms.
One of the projects I’ve been writing for is this wonderful book, Brisbane Art Deco: Stories of our Built Heritage.
The brainchild of Brisbane researcher Kim Wilson, the book features 35 buildings around our city built in the art deco style of the 1930s.
It’s a beautiful glossy publication of 152 pages, with more than 140 images, including historic photographs of some of the buildings of this fascinating era.
Brisbane Art Deco: Stories of our Built Heritage not only describes the architectural features of the buildings, but offers a colourful insight into the life and times of Brisbane. It also includes vignettes from Brisbane identities, who explain what some of the buildings mean to them personally.
Kim’s aim with the book, by sharing some of the interesting stories about Brisbane’s Art Deco heritage, was to highlight the significance of these structures in order to increase awareness of their value and strengthen efforts to preserve and protect such examples into the future.
The project was supported by the Brisbane City Council, through the Helen Taylor Research Award for Local History, and the Art Deco & Modernism Society. After its launch, it was the recipient of a Silver Award at the 2015 National Trust Queensland Heritage Awards.
As for my contribution, I was thrilled to be asked to write a chapter about the Walter Taylor Bridge (below) in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly, where I lived for 18 years (almost within sight of the bridge). It’s a fabulous story, as the bridge was originally a toll-bridge and the toll-keeper and his family lived in an apartment on the bridge.
My other contribution was a small piece on the Stones Corner Plaza building, just down the street from where I live now.
A large team of contributing authors and illustrators worked on the book – and we’re all very proud of it. Well done, Kim!
Brisbane Art Deco: Stories of our Built Heritage can be bought online from Brisbane Art Deco, for $34.95.
With a 10 day break over Easter, I was looking for something relaxing and easy to read and my travelling companion provided just the thing: the latest Harry Bosch novel, The Burning Room, released last year.
I’ve become a fan of author Michael Connelly‘s tough, ageing LAPD detective over the past year or so and have already devoured a couple of his books.
In this one, Bosch is working with a new female partner – Lucia Soto – and soon finds the case they’re investigating is entwined with an incident from Detective Soto’s childhood, the deaths of several children in an apartment building fire 20 years earlier.
Both cases are a fit for their work in the Open-Unsolved Unit, and in usual Connelly fashion the story races along. It was just what I needed.
If you haven’t met Harry Bosch yet, look out for the series. He’s a great character, and the plot twists are always hard to pick. That’s what I like in a book, especially a crime novel. And I hear that the next Bosch novel will be out in October. It’s called The Crossing.