Stuff I’ve been reading by Nick Hornby

stuff-ive-been-readingI love hearing about what people are reading; why they are enjoying books, or not, and what impact they have. Stuff I’ve Been Reading is a column Nick Hornby wrote for an American magazine, and his voice very entertaining. He is funny, reads thoughtfully, and loves Charles Dickens, which does tend to win me over (a reference to C.S. Lewis does that most quickly). I think I might need to read some more of his novels……

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The algebraist by Iain M. Banks

jeannie-algebraistThis was my first ever foray into the world of large scale science fiction, and what an introduction it was! The main plot follows Fassin Taak, a quiet and intelligent hero, as he reluctantly embarks on an intelligence mission. He is sent by the capitalist regime into the gas giants to speak to a race of galactic librarians who resemble wheels, live for billions of years, and hunt their own children.

Iain M Banks is an extremely skilled author with an ingenious, if at times somewhat unsettling, imagination.

This book will make your head explode, in a very good way. It is both vast, encompassing a rather overwhelming number of galaxies and their inhabitants, and awesome. If you haven’t tried much science fiction and are looking to give something a go, I highly recommend this book.

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The secret keeper by Kate Morton

secret-keeperYou know what you’re going to get with a Kate Morton book; modern and historical stories with mystery and romance. As her mother is dying, a woman remembers something horribly violent from her past and begins a journey that unravels secrets from long ago. Set in the 30s, 60s and 2011, the mystery unfolds convincingly, the characters are engaging and the settings are lovely. Kate Morton always delivers a great read.

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A place to call home. Season 3

cynthia-a-place-to-call-homeThe continuation of this series has proved popular and it is not hard to see why. The characters are interesting with storylines that keep me watching, lots of drama and romance. It is great to see the characters change and develop. I enjoy the setting of 1950s Australia. This season has definitely amped up the drama and scandal level of the series. Watch out for the last episode though, so many cliff-hangers are included! Now there is the wait to find out all the answers.

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The story of a new name by Elena Ferrante

story-of-a-new-nameI am well and truly captivated by this series now. Lena and Lila grow apart as their choices and opportunities take them on different paths, but the darkness of their Naples neighborhood has a power that is hard to break free from. This book is about oppression, money, violence, power, love, lust, learning and yearning to be free, but I could sum it up as bring simply about spirit, that spark that gives a person drive and passion, and life.

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Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

amy-emmaIt is a risky thing to read a beloved classic rewritten, even by an author you like. I enjoy Alexander McCall Smith’s light and friendly books with lovely settings. This is another of them. Some of the modernising efforts are more successful than others, which can be a bit forced or just silly. The story is fairly faithful to the events of the original, at the expense of character development and subtlety. It is made to be a moralistic tale, with less heart than the original, but enjoyable enough and perhaps more accessible. I think I’ll start rereading the Austen novels……

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Barbed wire and cherry blosoms by Anita Heiss

cynthia-barbed-wire-and-cherry-blossomsThis book is described as a love story, but I think the biases of 1940s Australian society play a bigger role in this story. How people were treated – based on White, Aboriginal, Italian or Japanese made a big impression on me. I was not sure how the story would end up and I think Anita Heiss ended the story beautifully and made sense of the characters. This is a story we have all heard about, but told a little bit differently.

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