A list of the books I recommend.
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I am Rembrandt’s Daughter is a charming book about Cornelia van Rijn, daughter of Rembrandt van Rijn. Raised by a famous painter, alive during the years of the plague and living with a strict class system, the life of this woman must have been interesting indeed. This book puts forth one woman’s thoughts of what Cornelia’s life might have been like.
Written in first person, with periodical diary excerpts, this is a lovely story that had me hooked from the beginning. The author has a light, easy-to-read style that makes this book a pleasant experience. Irrelevant to the story, but I also love the soft canvas-style cover!
This is the third Jodi Picoult book I have read and I was not disappointed. I love the way Jodi writes in first person, jumping from character to character and from past to present. This can be confusing for those unused to her style, but life is rarely linear and the different perspectives enhance our understanding of the story, allowing us to empathise with different characters and preventing us from pre-judging behaviour.
Nineteen Minutes is an emotional look at the lead up and aftermath of a columbine-style school shooting. Picoult, however, has her shooter survive, allowing us to explore the effect of this event on the lives of the shooter and his family as well as those of the victims. It is often easy to lay blame when such a tragedy occurs, so easy to forget that the shooters family are as much victims as anyone else.
I found this book very scary. We cannot protect our children from being bullied, and we cannot always know what they are thinking or feeling. It is frightening to think that our children could have been any one of the characters in this book – the bullies, picking on those more sensitive than themselves; the girl pretending to be someone she is not, in order to fit in; the shooter himself – and we would be none the wiser.
I definitely recommend this book to parents, teens and anyone who finds themselves quick to judge on the basis of a news story alone…
Shadow Warrior is written in a relaxed, conversational style that is very easy on the eyes. The story of how David Everett went from one of the military’s elite to Australia’s most wanted is an interesting one. Each step was a logical progression from the one before until he found himself on the run from the law and out of contact with his family and friends.
While I found some of the war chapters a little repetitive (war is like that sometimes), the plight of the Karen is a sad indictment of Australia’s political and social conscience. One can forgive David much of his behaviour with the knowledge of the reasoning behind it.
Overall, this was an enjoyable and informative book to read and the reader is left feeling sympathetic to David’s plight. I would definitely recommend this to a friend.
What a brilliant idea! If only I’d thought of it first…
If you have ever found yourself thinking these words, then you’ll love this book! This is the story of an ordinary guy who managed to trade up from one red paperclip to a house (yes, a house!) in just fourteen trades. Written with style and not a little humour, One Red Paperclip details the incredible journey Kyle travelled in order to fulfil his dream of owning a home.
Where most of us would have thought it couldn’t be done, Kyle took the plunge, making some incredible trades and having a lot of fun along the way. This is a highly amusing and inspiring book and I encourage everyone to read it.
I was kind of surprised that a book about the Fritzl’s was published so soon. The author certainly didn’t waste any time! We all saw the news about this poor woman and her children, but the truth is much more horrifying than even the media hype. The nightmare life these people were forced to endure for twenty-four years would have sent many people insane, but Elisabeth managed to survive with enough presence of mind to seize her chance at escaping.
House of Horrors is not an enjoyable read, but it is an informative one. The author has shown sensitivity to the emotional and psychological needs of the victims by refraining from publishing intimate details of the crime (unlike the paparazzi, who insist on imposing on their privacy) and the book is written in a casual style that makes it easy to read.
Whether you are interested in true crime or simply wish to learn about this particular case, this book is worth reading.
I read about Nightfall when it was mentioned in passing in New Scientist magazine. Their description interested me, so I borrowed the book from the library. This is the first Isaac Asimov I have read and I can see why he has such a great reputation. Living on a planet with just one sun, we do tend to take darkness and stars for granted. But what if we had never seen either? How would a people, used to eternal light, cope with their first exposure to night? How would someone who had never seen the night sky deal with all those millions of stars? Nightfall is a riveting account of how one society faced just such a challenge and it is an account that is well worth reading.
I picked this book up fully intending to read a chapter before bed. Nine hours and six glasses of coke later, I was finished. The story this book tells is sad and tragic, and the writing hooks you from the beginning. Betrayed details the doubts and uncertainties most parents feel at some point, especially when dealing with what appears to be a problem child, and highlights the lack of help available to such families. The fact that Sarah and her family had to endure such horrible events for so long is an inditement of our society, where parent’s concerns are dismissed as nonsense, and illnesses and psychosis are diagnosed for convenience. Betrayed is a difficult book for parents to read, but I highly recommend it.
Written in diary form, Life As We Knew It tells of one family’s struggle to survive while the world collapses around them. Told from the point of view of sixteen-year-old Miranda, this story brings home just how reliant we are on all the modern conveniences. How would you survive if you were suddenly without electricity, natural gas, air-con, phones, running water? If gas and food were no longer being transported? If medicines were running out? It’s a scary prospect for us as adults, how much scarier for children and teenagers?
This is an apocalyptic novel that is all the more frightening for it’s feasibility.
The Thirteenth Tale is an amazing journey into one woman’s hidden past. Filled with beautiful language and wonderfully descriptive passages, this is an extraordinary first work by an incredibly gifted author.
Book lovers will relate well to the narrator Margaret Lea, and will enjoy the timeless gothic atmosphere and the enchanting prose as Vida’s life slowly unfolds. The Thirteenth Tale is a remarkable story that will be enjoyed by all.
I loved the language in this novel so much, I am including two of my favourite quotes:
“What succour, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with it’s long fingernails? No. When fear and cold make a statue of you in your bed, don’t expect hard-boned and fleshless truth to come running to your aid. What you need are the plump comforts of a story. The soothing, rocking safety of a lie.” Vida Winter in The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Love in the Time of Cholera is a moving tale of love, constance and devotion. Told in the third person flashbacks this story reveals the lifelong consequences of a brief, but passionate, love affair between young Florentino Ariza & Fermino Daza. Fermina Daza moves on from this affair, marries Doctor Juvenal Urbino and lives a full life. Florentino Ariza, who never stops loving Fermina, moves through a series brief affairs until old age, when the death of her husband leaves Fermina free to be wooed once more.
Some parts of this book were a little drawn out and hard to get through, which is why I haven’t given it full ratings. Overall, however, this was a wonderfully moving story of the constance of the human heart. This is not a romance novel but it is romantic – not with the impetuous passion of youth, but the comfortable, familiar love of old age. I highly recommend it.