Carve the mark by Veronica Roth

amy carve the markOne thing you can usually count on a YA series for, is a super fast pace. I raced through Divergent, which was silly in many ways, but compelling and lots of fun. I found Carve the Mark boring, for the most part, with small flashes of action or feeling, but ultimately it went nowhere exciting, and took forever to get there. Cyra and Akos are from two enemy races living on the one planet. Their fates and coincidentally compatible “current gifts” bring them together, and a little bit of confusing action, some unexciting romance, and not a lot else ensues. I may read the next book for closure, but I may not.

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Growing up Aboriginal in Australia edited by Anita Heiss

Amy Growing Up AboriginalWhat a brilliant idea, to ask a diverse range of Aboriginal people to tell their stories of growing up. Through these stories we experience the connection to country, and revel in the beauty of Australian places, we gain an insight into the oppression of racism, overt, casual, relentless, and the terrible pain and damage suffered by the Stolen Generations and those who followed. It’s enlightening, joyful, angry, poetic, tragic, proud and hopeful. A really important book.

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Patrick Melrose volume 2 by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Patrick melrose Volume 2This contains the final two books in the Patrick Melrose series – Mother’s Milk and At Last.

Mother’s Milk: After his breakthrough at the end of Never Mind, Patrick, now married with two sons, is struggling again; with inheritance, his marriage, his mother and parenthood. So sharp, delicious, painful, real, and delightful.

At Last: The final Patrick Melrose novel, and how I will miss him. Patrick is as bitingly clever as ever, and still working on gaining some equilibrium. The gathering at his mother’s funeral highlights the foibles of the upper class, the passions and fixations that hold people back, the complexities of living with past trauma, and the sparks of hope that keep us going.

This entire series is deeply insightful, witty, horrific, and brilliant.

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No more boats by Felicity Castagna

Amy No More BoatsSet during 2001, when the Tampa lay off Australia’s shores and the government refused to let the refugees come to Australia, No More Boats is the story of a man, once a migrant himself, whose life is turned upside down, and he loses his way. The ghost of a friend tells him to paint ‘No More Boats’ in his front yard, and he and his family must come to terms with what is happening to him, to themselves and to Australia. It is a quiet and thoughtful novel, with little action or resolution, but which highlights the complex issues at the heart of families, Australian society, and the cold, hard policies about our borders.

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Never mind by Edward St Aubyn

Amy Never MindI revelled in the language, even if what it described was rarely lovely. Never Mind is one day in the life of the Melrose family and two sets of their friends. David Melrose is an extraordinarily cruel husband and father, Eleanor, a drunk to escape her reality, and five year old Patrick is trying to navigate his confusing world. It’s a deliciously nasty slice of British wealth, and snobbery, with some foreign viewpoints to critique this world of loathing. A fascinating visit; I wouldn’t want to live there.

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Mrs M by Luke Slattery

Ali Mrs MThis is the story of  Mrs Elizabeth MacQuarie, second wife of Lachlan MacQuarie, reformist Governor of New South Wales. The novel starts in Scotland at the end of Elizabeth’s story, not the beginning as you might imagine. So the story is a reflection of her journey and life in the colony and the shared dream of reform that Lachlan and Elizabeth planned when they came to Sydney.

This is a fictional account of historical figures and I am not sure of the reality of Elizabeth’s relationship with the architect who designed and built her famous ‘Chair’ at Sydney harbour. In the book her much older husband is often busy and distracted giving the younger  architect the appeal that makes this story  both romantic and intriguing. However there are personalities who wish to continue the brutal control that has been the norm of the colony , contradictory to the MacQuarie’s more benign influences which ultimately causes the downfall of the MacQuarie reign in the colonies.

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Lullaby by Leila Slimani

Amy LullabyThis book starts with a murder scene; the nanny kills her two young charges before attempting to kill herself. What follows is the lead up to the horror, and it is a clever and disturbing look at the struggles of modern parenthood, career, city living, and the fascinating situation of inviting someone into your one to care for your children. I raced through it to the abrupt, but not unsatisfying, end.

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David Bowie : a life by Dylan Jones

Amy David BowieDavid Bowie was so many things. That’s obvious from the most basic understanding of his career. He was also, as we all are, different things to different people, and I suppose that is the strength of this book, that it is a collection of stories or recollections about Bowie at different tones in his life, from a huge range of people. It’s a weakness, too, though, in that it can be, as you would expect, contradictory, and sometimes repetitive. Reading about the early years was a slog, because while I loved the music, his lifestyle was pretty repugnant. I am glad I stuck it out, His was certainly a fascinating life with a massive impact on so many, but I didn’t find it an easy, or even greatly enjoyable, read.

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