March TBR

I’m just going to post a short TBR list for March. I’ve just begun a new semester of uni which has a fairly heavy work load, so I want to take it a bit easy on myself. I will hopefully be able to sneak a few surprise reviews in, though!

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Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence chatterley.jpg

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER was banned on its publication in 1928, creating a storm of controversy. Lawrence tells the story of Constance Chatterley’s marriage to Sir Clifford, an aristocratic and an intellectual who is paralyzed from the waist down after the First World War. Desperate for an heir and embarrassed by his inability to satisfy his wife, Clifford suggests that she have an affair. Constance, troubled by her husband’s words, finds herself involved in a passionate relationship with their gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. Lawrence’s vitriolic denunciations of industrialism and class division come together in his vivid depiction of the profound emotional and physical connection between a couple otherwise divided by station and society.

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Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert bovary

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

When Emma Rouault marries Charles Bovary she imagines she will pass into the life of luxury and passion that she reads about in sentimental novels and women’s magazines. But Charles is a dull country doctor, and provincial life is very different from the romantic excitement for which she yearns. In her quest to realize her dreams she takes a lover, and begins a devastating spiral into deceit and despair.

Flaubert’s novel scandalized its readers when it was first published in 1857, and it remains unsurpassed in its unveiling of character and society.

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The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough tb

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story’s heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican…but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

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F*ck Love by Tarryn Fisher fucklove.jpg

Helena Conway has fallen in love.
Unwillingly. Unwittingly.
But not unprovoked.
Kit Isley is everything she’s not—unstructured, untethered,
and not even a little bit careful.
It could all be so beautiful … if he wasn’t dating her best friend.
Helena must defy her heart, do the right thing, and think of others.
Until she doesn’t.

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February Wrap Up

February has been another busy month for me. I’ve read seven books, including two from my David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks. I was also lucky enough to receive two ARCs from the lovely people from HarperCollins Publishers Australia, Missing, Presumed and The Yearbook Committee.

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It was the last month of my university holidays, so I did my best to relax as much as possible. I had lots of beach days, walks around the neighbourhood and vegged out in front of Netflix quite a bit. I’m beginning to feel that Sunday night feeling, but times about a million right now, though!

In crazy cat lady news, my new cat, Ziggy, has settled in very nicely. She’s starting to get along very well with her new brother, Zeus, besides from the occasional play fight and game of chasey!

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Books I Read in February

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (Translator) shadow2

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels gnostic

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

The Gnostic Gospels is a landmark study of the long-buried roots of Christianity, a work of luminous scholarship and wide popular appeal. First published in 1979 to critical acclaim, winning the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Gnostic Gospels has continued to grow in reputation and influence over the past two decades. It is now widely recognized as one of the most brilliant and accessible histories of early Christian spirituality published in our time.

In 1945 an Egyptian peasant unearthed what proved to be the Gnostic Gospels, thirteen papyrus volumes that expounded a radically different view of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ from that of the New Testament. In this spellbinding book, renowned religious scholar Elaine Pagels elucidates the mysteries and meanings of these sacred texts both in the world of the first Christians and in the context of Christianity today.

With insight and passion, Pagels explores a remarkable range of recently discovered gospels, including the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, to show how a variety of “Christianities” emerged at a time of extraordinary spiritual upheaval. Some Christians questioned the need for clergy and church doctrine, and taught that the divine could be discovered through spiritual search. Many others, like Buddhists and Hindus, sought enlightenment — and access to God — within. Such explorations raised questions: Was the resurrection to be understood symbolically and not literally? Was God to be envisioned only in masculine form, or feminine as well? Was martyrdom a necessary — or worthy — expression of faith? These early Christians dared to ask questions that orthodox Christians later suppressed — and their explorations led to profoundly different visions of Jesus and his message.

Brilliant, provocative, and stunning in its implications, The Gnostic Gospels is a radical, eloquent reconsideration of the origins of the Christian faith.

Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman rebecca

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family’s estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca’s tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess clockwork

From the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

“What we were after was lashings of ultraviolence.”

In this nightmare vision of youth in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him – but at what cost?

Social prophecy? Black comedy? A study of free will? A Clockwork Orange is all of these. It is also a dazzling experiment in language, as Burgess creates “nadsat”, the teenage slang of a not-too-distant future.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner missing

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.

A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her.

The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub theyearbookcommitteecover

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

The Serenity Stone Murder by Marianne Jones  serenity

The peaceful city of Thunder Bay is shocked when one of its most prominent businessmen is murdered with a stone stolen from a nearby church garden. Visiting the city to attend a retreat, friends Margaret and Louise become intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the murder and quickly find themselves embroiled in the investigation. Will they discover that they’ve stepped into something they won’t be able to walk away from? Will the murderer target them next?

 

Review: The Serenity Stone Murder by Marianne Jones

When Margaret and Louise set off to visit Thunder Bay, Ontario, for a church retreat theyserenity get a lot more than they bargained for. Instead of a nice relaxing holiday, they experience a series of unfortunate events that end up in a murder investigation. Will they solve the mystery of the Serenity Stone murder or will they become the killer’s next victims?

This was a really fun short read. Louise and Margaret are lovely characters. They’re two women in their 50s and Jones did a brilliant job of developing their bantering style of relationship. Louise and her cheeky dog brought a lot of smiles and lightness to the overall feel of the story and were a perfect foil for Margaret and her slightly grumpy ways.

Description

The peaceful city of Thunder Bay is shocked when one of its most prominent businessmen is murdered with a stone stolen from a nearby church garden. Visiting the city to attend a retreat, friends Margaret and Louise become intrigued by the circumstances surrounding the murder and quickly find themselves embroiled in the investigation. Will they discover that they’ve stepped into something they won’t be able to walk away from? Will the murderer target them next?

Details

Title: The Serenity Stone Murder

Author: Marianne Jones

ISBN: 9780981251684

Published: September 6th 2014 by Split Tree Publishing Inc.

Genre: Mystery

Pages: 204

Source: Review copy from author

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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Review: The Yearbook Committee by Sarah Ayoub

The Yearbook Committee is being described as this generation’s The Breakfast Club and I theyearbookcommitteecovercan see why! The setting for this novel takes place in a private school. Five Year 12 students are thrown together onto the yearbook committee and we get to read about their progress over the entire school year.

The story is told from the perspective of each of the members of the yearbook committee who are all dealing with their own personal issues while they are completing their final year of high school. Despite the fact that almost none of them are on the committee by choice they gradually form friendships with each other and put together a pretty amazing yearbook.

The Yearbook Committee tackles some serious issues. Bullying is a major theme, and it’s the kind of insidious, relentless gossip that is unfortunately far too common among females. It can be so difficult to pinpoint or deal with and I think Ayoub did a brilliant job of depicting it realistically. This kind of bullying has always been around in high schools (and some workplaces!), but it can be so much worse when it moves online. The problem with the internet is that everything on it is permanent and public. So, unlike the pre-internet days when you could go home from school and it didn’t exist bullying now follows teenagers everywhere they go, even when they graduate! Apologies for the rant here, but it’s a subject dear to my Internet Communications geek heart. Getting back on topic, brilliant job by the author to raise such an important issue in the language that teenagers will pay attention to!

This novel also tackles such issues as family and peer pressure, mental illness, self-esteem issues, gender stereotyping and questions about friendships, decency and life after school. And it is all presented in a non-preachy and brilliant story with interesting and well-developed characters that teenagers and YA fans will fall in love with. Bonus points from me because it was set in Sydney with many references to my hometown, Melbourne. And yes, Charlie should definitely visit Lord of the Fries when she goes to Melbourne for the weekend, but not with Pete because he’s a jerk!

Description

‘smart, funny and relevant’ – Melina Marchetta, bestselling author of LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI, SAVING FRANCESCA and ON THE JELLICOE ROAD

Five teenagers. Five lives. One final year.

The school captain: Ryan has it all … or at least he did, until an accident snatched his dreams away. How will he rebuild his life and what does the future hold for him now?

The newcomer: Charlie’s just moved interstate and she’s determined not to fit in. She’s just biding her time until Year 12 is over and she can head back to her real life and her real friends …

The loner: At school, nobody really notices Matty. But at home, Matty is everything. He’s been single-handedly holding things together since his mum’s breakdown, and he’s never felt so alone.

The popular girl: Well, the popular girl’s best friend … cool by association. Tammi’s always bowed to peer pressure, but when the expectations become too much to handle, will she finally stand up for herself?

The politician’s daughter: Gillian’s dad is one of the most recognisable people in the state and she’s learning the hard way that life in the spotlight comes at a very heavy price.

Five unlikely teammates thrust together against their will. Can they find a way to make their final year a memorable one or will their differences tear their world apart?

Details

Title: The Yearbook Committee

Author: Sarah Ayoub

Published:  29 February 2016 HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780732296858

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 304

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

Beautifully written crime thriller missing

When Edith Hind suddenly disappears the police immediately treat her case as high priority. Her father, Sir Ian Hind, is a prestigious doctor with connections to the royal family and politicians so they don’t want to stuff this one up. Missing, Presumed is told from the perspectives of Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw, Edith’s mother, Detective Constable Davy Walker and Edith’s best friend, Helena.  Through the multiple points of view, we are able to see the effect a missing person case has on everyone involved, both the police investigating and the family and friends who are going out of their minds with worry.

I really enjoyed reading this novel from the multiple points of view. This allowed far greater character development than you normally find in crime thrillers. Steiner did a brilliant job of bringing each character to life and I enjoyed finding out more about each character by reading about them through the eyes of the other people they interact with.

This novel is also beautifully written. It is a bit of slow-boil thriller, but it is definitely worth the wait because by the time I got to the twists and final reveal I felt like I was reading about people I knew intimately. Add this one to your TBR list if you like crime thrillers with the depth and observation of literary fiction.

Description

Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.

Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.

As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.

A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her.

Details

Title: Missing, Presumed

Author: Susie Steiner

Published: 1 March 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

ISBN: 9780008123284

Genre: Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Literary Fiction

Pages: 400

Source: Review copy from HarperCollins Publishers Australia

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Review: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Horrorshow raskazz with lashings of ultraviolence! clockwork

A Clockwork Orange is a modern classic. Published in 1962, it depicts a frightening dystopian future where youths hopped up on drugs run riot in the streets and terrorise people in their own homes. Alex, our humble narrator, is one of those youths.  Even though it is obvious he knows better, he is determined to continue on his merry way wreaking havoc with his droogs (friends), until they set him up and he is sent to prison. Alex undertakes an unusual and horrifying form of ‘therapy’ which makes him physically unable to perform or even think about acts of violence and is unceremoniously discharged from prison and left to fend for himself.

This novel raises some important questions about the matters of free will and choice. Is it morally ethical to remove a person’s ability to choose their own behaviour? How about when it means they will cease to commit acts of violence against others? Clearly the message this novel conveys is that is unethical to remove a person’s free will. I almost began to feel sorry for Alex when he was first released from prison and was unable to defend himself, but I soon got over that when he went straight back to his old ways as soon as he was able to.

The Final Chapter

My edition does contain the final chapter which is missing from many versions, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s film. I found it to be a bit of let down. I liked the idea of Alex deciding to change his ways, but thought the way he reached his decision was a bit unbelievable. It didn’t gel with anything we’d heard from him previously to just up and decide to be good for no other reason besides he wants a wife and child one day. Of course, I believe anyone can change, but there usually needs to be some kind of motivating event. Like maybe an actual wife and child.

Besides from that, it’s a must read. The made up language, nadsat, can be difficult to get into. I found this nadsat dictionary very useful for the first few chapters, but it is quite easy to get into the hang of it.

EDIT 24/02/16

I forgot to include my David Bowie song to match A Clockwork Orange. Obviously it’s Girl Loves me!

 


Description

“What we were after was lashings of ultraviolence.”

In this nightmare vision of youth in revolt, fifteen-year-old Alex and his friends set out on a diabolical orgy of robbery, rape, torture and murder. Alex is jailed for his teenage delinquency and the State tries to reform him – but at what cost?

Social prophecy? Black comedy? A study of free will? A Clockwork Orange is all of these. It is also a dazzling experiment in language, as Burgess creates “nadsat”, the teenage slang of a not-too-distant future.

Details

Title: A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess

Published: 1962

ISBN: 0241951445 (ISBN13: 9780241951446)

Genre: Classics, Sci Fi, Dystopia, Literature

Pages: 141

Source: Own Copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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This book is part of the David Bowie Reading Challenge #DBowieBooks

Books Read: 4/100

1984

The Great Gatsby

The Gnostic Gospels

A Clockwork Orange

Review: Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman

 Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again… rebecca

Rebecca’s Tale is an unauthorised sequel of Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic mystery. The year is 1951 and Colonel Arthur Julyan, long-time friend of the De Winter family, is still haunted by the circumstances of her death. With the help of his daughter, Ellie, and mysterious newcomer, Terance Grey, he determines to uncover the mysteries surrounding Rebecca’s death and her life before Manderlay.

The novel is told from multiple points of view, Colonel Julyan, Ellie, Terrance Grey, and Rebecca. During the course of their investigations Rebecca’s journal is discovered! Her journal details her childhood and why/how she came to marry Maxim De Winter and come to Manderlay. I loved reading from Rebecca’s point of view, even if she is proven to be an unreliable narrator, along with everybody in this story.

A lot of people have posted negative reviews of this novel. I think the biggest issue is that this version of Rebecca doesn’t match the way they see her. The author does use quite a lot of poetic license to create her version of Rebecca and the other characters. I really love this novel, though. It’s not quite as atmospheric or mysterious as the original, but it was still a very enjoyable read.

Description

April 1951. It has been twenty years since the death of Rebecca, the hauntingly beautiful first wife of Maxim de Winter, and twenty years since Manderley, the de Winter family’s estate, was destroyed by fire. But Rebecca’s tale is just beginning.

Colonel Julyan, an old family friend, receives an anonymous package concerning Rebecca. An inquisitive young scholar named Terence Gray appears and stirs up the quiet seaside hamlet with questions about the past and the close ties he soon forges with the Colonel and his eligible daughter, Ellie. Amid bitter gossip and murky intrigue, the trio begins a search for the real Rebecca and the truth behind her mysterious death.

Details

Title Rebecca’s Tale

Author Sally Beauman

ISBN 006117467X (ISBN13: 9780061174674)

Published 2000

Pages 464

Genre Mystery, Suspense, Historical Fiction, Gothic

Source Own Copy

My Rating 5/5 stars

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