The darkening hour by Penny Hancock

Cynthia Darkening Hour

The story opens with a body found in the river with the simple words ‘Mona’s gone’. We then go back three months and read the story of Mona who is hired by Dora to look after her ageing father. I loved that the story alternates between Mona and Dora – we hear the events unfold from their viewpoints. The tension builds throughout the story, making me want to keep reading.

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Oh dear Silvia by Dawn French

Amy Oh Dear SylviaI do like Dawn French. I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to like this, but I honestly did. It’s not hilarious, but quietly funny and rather moving. Silvia is in a coma, and people from her life come and visit her, working through their feelings, revealing snippets that make up the mystery of her situation. It’s a light, and not so light, sweet, amusing read with a twist of darkness.

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Unwind series by Neal Shusterman

Unwind Dystology series by Neal ShustermanOnly readers of dystopian fiction with strong stomachs should read this series as it is a disturbing premise that parents can ‘recycle’ their headstrong teenagers. The practice of ‘unwinding’ has become an accepted practice with parents believing that their children continue to live on as their body parts are highly sought.  There is a very descriptive passage where one child is cognisant throughout the whole ‘unwinding’ process. We follow three runaways fighting for their right to exist. Connor’s parents want rid of him because he’s a troublemaker; Risa is being unwound to cut orphanage costs; Lev is a tithe, his unwinding planned since his birth. Continue reading

My sister lives on the mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

My sister lives on the mantelpiece by Annabel PitcherThis book begins with “My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does… Mum and Dad had a big argument when the police found ten bits of her body… They each got five bits.” This sounds so irreverent but what is worse… I laughed; having finished the book now I wish I could take back that laugh! Jamie was five when it happens and he just relates the facts but feels nothing for the loss of his sister Rose. Annabel Pitcher, in this debut novel has proven to me that she is an author to watch. Continue reading

The girl with all the gifts by M. R. Carey

Amy The Girl with all the GiftsA librarian recommended this as the one book loved by every member of his fantasy/sci-fi book club. I am reasonably comfortable with sci-fi, indeed some of my favourite books happen to fit in that genre, but I was surprised to realise (about a third of the way through, a bit slow on the uptake) that this is a zombie book. I’m glad I didn’t know that , as I may have been put off and I really enjoyed this book. It is clever and suspenseful, with compelling, endearing characters and a satisfying and hopeful ending.

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Lady of the butterflies by Fiona Mountain

Cynthia's photo with Lady of the..Set in 17th century England, Eleanor has a strong curiosity and a desire to learn. With science in its infancy it is fascinating to read how the world was interpreted and studied. That the story is based on fact made it all the more interesting for me.

It takes courage for someone to want to change people’s perceptions of the world; you can be seen as insane by your community. What everyone takes as common knowledge and fact today is the result of research undertaken by people such as Eleanor. Continue reading

Huts of the High Country by Klaus Heuneke

Rhonda - Huts of the high countryI did a walk from Kiandra to Kosciusko and wanted to research the high country huts I would see along the way.

This book gave me a comprehensive coverage of the history of the Snowy Mountains Huts – the people who built them and the stockmen and gold fossickers who lived in them. There are also very early photographs of the huts, some of which have since been destroyed by fire.

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Eventual poppy day by Libby Hathorn

Eventual Poppy day by Libbie HathornGood timing for this book as it is the Centenary of ANZAC. Thoroughly researched and written by the wonderful author Libby Hathorn, this novel weaves seamlessly back and forth through time. Seventeen year old Oliver Roche is trying to deal with difficult family circumstances when he is handed his great-great uncle Maurice’s WW1 diary. Reading the diary obviously changes how Oliver sees the world but I became more engrossed in a secondary character, Oliver’s great- grandmother, whose humorous activities in the background of the story help to glue the whole story together. Recommended for ages: 14+

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