Friday, July 30, 2010

Miles Franklin Award 2010

In keeping with the previous 2 posts about Literary Award shortlists, here is another.
The winner of the 2010 Miles Franklin Award was announced on 22 June 2010.
The winner was Peter Temple for his book Truth. This was a bit of a controversial choice as he is more known as a Crime Writer. For more information about the winner have a look at the Miles Franklin Awards page

Two books on the Miles Franklin shortlist have also been nominated for the Prime Minister's Literary Award. Sadly I haven't read any of these titles, but Jasper Jones and Lovesong have been on my TBR list for about a year now.

The shortlist for the Award was:
Lovesong by Alex Miller  Allen & Unwin
The Bath Fugues by Brian Castro  Giramondo Publishing
Jasper Jones  by Craig Silvey  Allen & Unwin
The Book of Emmett by Deborah Forster  Random House
Truth by Peter Temple  Text Publishing
Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett  Penguin Group (Australia)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prime Minister's Literary Awards 2010

After posting about the Man Booker Prize longlist, I thought I should include a post about Australian Awards as well.
The short list for the Prime Minister's Literary Awards were announced on15 July 2010. For more information visit the Awards Page. There is no date for the announcement of the Winners, but I suspect it will be sometime after 21August 2010. When everyone is less busy campaigning for the election.
There are 4 categories this year - Adult Fiction, Adult Non Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Children's Fiction

Of Adult Fiction books I have Ransom and Lovesong on my TBR List. I have heard good things about The Ghost at the Wedding from colleagues at work.

The shortlisted books are:

Summertime by J. M. Coetzee
The Book of Emmett by Deborah Forster
The Lakewoman by Alan Gould
Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
Ransom by David Malouf
Lovesong by Alex Miller
As the Earth turns Silver by Alison Wong

The Water Dreamers: The Remarkable History of Our Dry Continent by Michael Cathcart
Strange Places: A Memoir of Mental Illness by Will Elliott
The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens
The Life and Death of Democracy by John Keane
The Blue Plateau: A Landscape Memoir by Mark Tredinnick
The Ghost at the Wedding by Shirley Walker

Young Adult Fiction
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
The Winds of Heaven by Judith Clarke
Confessions of a Liar, Thief and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon
The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds
Swerve by Phillip Gwynne
Jarvis 24 by David Metzenthen
Beatle meets Destiny by Gabrielle Williams

Children's Fiction
Cicada Summer by Kate Constable
The Terrible Plop by Ursula Dubosarsky and illustrator Andrew Joyner
Just Macbeth by Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton
Mr Chicken goes to Paris by Leigh Hobbs
Running with the Horses by Alison Lester
Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood
Mannie and the Long Brave Day by Martine Murray and illustrator Sally Rippin
Tensy Farlow and the Home for Mislaid Children by Jen Storer
Harry and Hopper by Margaret Wild and illustrator Freya Blackwood

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Man Booker Longlist Announced

The longlist for the Man Booker Prize was announced on 27 July. I don't usually find out who's on the long list, until the shortlist, or the winner is announced. How on the ball am I! Not only on the ball finding out the list, but I've started reading one of the titles. Skippy dies by Paul Murray was talked about at Book Chat last month. I just started it last night and didn't want to put it down.

Now I'm thinking of reading my way through the longlist. We don't have all the titles at the library, but I'm sure I can pick them up along the way. Maybe it can be my goal when I'm in the UK to find the less well known books while I'm there! It does mean giving The Slap another chance though... I started it, but really didn't like or care enough about the characters to bother finishing it.

Oh the long list
Peter Carey - Parrot and Olivier in America (Faber and Faber)
Emma Donoghue - Room (Pan MacMillan - Picador)
Helen Dunmore - The Betrayal (Penguin - Fig Tree)
Damon Galgut - In a Strange Room (Grove Atlantic - Atlantic Books)
Howard Jacobson - The Finkler Question (Bloomsbury)
Andrea Levy - The Long Song(Headline Publishing Group - Headline Review)
Tom McCarthy - C (Random House - Jonathan Cape)
David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet  (Hodder & Stoughton -
Lisa Moore - February (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Paul Murray - Skippy Dies (Penguin - Hamish Hamilton)
Rose Tremain - Trespass (Random House - Chatto & Windus)
Christos Tsiolkas - The Slap (Grove Atlantic - Tuskar Rock)
Alan Warner - The Stars in the Bright Sky (Random House - Jonathan Cape)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Name is Memory - Ann Brashares

About the Book
My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares is about reincarnation and true love. Daniel remembers all of his past lives and through all of them he has loved and been looking for Lucy, who he thinks of as Sophia. It is rare that they are alive at the same time and the same age, but in 2006 he discovers they are. Lucy doesn't remember her past lives or Daniel but she does have strange dreams. Daniel struggles with wanting Lucy to remember and not wanting to push her so too hard and scare her away as he did at High School graduation. In the meantime Lucy has an encounter with a psychic which changes the way she thinks.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed reading this book. The contemporary story is interwoven with Daniel and Lucy/Sophia/Constance's past lives. The romantic in me loves the idea that there is one true soulmate and that they find each other no matter who or where they are. I think the most touching scene of this in the book is when Daniel is about 5 and Lucy is an older woman and Daniel snuggles up to her in church.

There were a couple of parts that I really didn't like. *spoiler alert* The first was when Daniels brother from his first life turned up at Lucy's college and pretended to be Daniel. Lucy had been obsessing about the guy for years, and had spent time with him, yet she wasn't able to  recognise that it wasn't him.

The other part I didn't like was the end... it didn't wrap anything up, in fact new developments in the story line occured in the last couple of pages. There is nothing in the book to indicated that it was anything but a stand alone novel... it was only much digging around that I discovered that
it is the first part of a trilogy. This explains why it ended like it did. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.

As I was reading it though, the parts describing Daniel's past lives reminded me of Andrew McGahan's The Wonders of a Godless World . The two books are quite different as Brashares' book is about love and McGahan's is about consciousness, character and I think to an extent power. However they handle the reincarnation aspect in a similar way. Both main male characters remember their past lives in great detail and use those details in their subsequent lives.

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

This was the July selection for the Wednesday book group that I run at work. I wasn't expecting to enjoy this book, and after a couple of false starts I really got into it. I think it took a while to get into the story because the main characters aren't introduced for quite a few pages. It starts with a lot of setting the scene and a lot of new concepts. The group was amazed that it had been published in the 1930s and it contained so many advanced ideas.

About the book
Brave New World is set far into the future. It is a Utopian society, where everything seems mechanised. Reproduction is done on a production line and natural childbirth is considered immoral. Everyone is created for a particular role. There are several main groups - Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Epsilon. Everyone is happy. There are reservations where small communities live "natural" lives. The two cultures clash when Bernard Marx, who is becoming dissatisfied with his life, decides to visit a reservation.

They discover a woman who had vanished 30 odd years ago living there with her son. Bernard takes them back to "civilisation".

June Roundup

June was oddly a great month for reading. I managed to get through a record 20 books this month. There was a wide range of titles and genres, making for an overall satisfying reading month. So at half way through the year I'm up to 50 books, which is a good sign I think.
I revisited a couple of favourite reads with the first 2 books in the Harry Potter series, and the first of the Hitch Hiker's guide series. A good friend was insistent on my reading the whole series, unfortunately I was missing the 3rd book so it will have to wait until July. I also reread The
kite runner for one book club and Notes on a Scandal for the other. I'm still thinking about my reaction to Notes on a Scandal and think it might be one of the top 5 for the month. Hehe it's not very often that I get to have a top 5.

The books read were:
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
Who moved my blackberry - Lucy Kellaway
Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Marked - P.C & Kirsten Cast
Brooklyn - Colm Toibin
Betrayed - P. C & Kirsten Cast
Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone - J. K. Rowling
Harry potter and the chamber of secrets - J. K Rowling
Notes on a scandal - Zoe Heller
The second short life of Bree Tanner - Stephenie Meyer
Toxic beauty - Caroline B Cooney
Green angel - Alice Hoffman
The foretelling - Alice Hoffman
Tamburlaine must die - Louise Welsh
Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy - Douglas Adams
Restaurant at the end of the universe - Douglas Adams
Quest: Sam Silverthorne bk 1 - Gary Crew
In the Miso Soup - Ryu Murakami
The murder farm - Maria Andrea Schenkel
The burning wire - Jeffery Deaver

This brings my total for the 100+ Reading Challenge to 51, for the Aussie Author Challenge to 5, Buck-a-book challenge to $51 and Bibiliophilic challenge to 6.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Murder Farm - Andrea Maria Schenkel

In keeping with my current reading binge, I picked The murder farm off the library shelves because of it's size. It is 181 pages, which I can usually read in a day if it's not too hard to read, or concentrate on. I started this at 10.30pm on Tuesday night and told myself I'd just read for half an hour. At the end of half an hour I didn't want to put the book down and had to read 10 more pages.

This is an usually told story. It has 3rd person narratives of a selection of characters. Then it has 1st person narrative of different people who knew the people who lived on the farm. It sounded like they were talking to the police about what they knew of the family and of the days leading up to
and after the murder. I don't know what it was, but it created a feeling of menace when I was reading. You never quite know what's lead to the murder, and the family is portrayed as not very nice.

I rate this as one of the best reads for the year.

The burning wire - Jeffery Deaver

The first Jeffery Deaver book I read was The Blue Nowhere . It was about the police trying to catch a man who was hacking into a person's computer and using that to kill people. It was recommended by a colleague who is a Jeffery Deaver fan. I have to admit he chooses interesting subjects for his books.

About the book
The Burning Wire is a Lincoln Rhyme novel, about the hunt for a man or group who has taken  over New York's electricity grid and diverting the "juice" to electrocute people. I've not read a Lincoln Rhyme novel before and was surprised to learn he is a quadriplegic. It took a while to get over wanting to know how he became wheel chair bound. I'm sure it's in one of the earlier novels.

My thoughts
The writing is quite clever. Just when I started to fear for any unconnected character who appeared in the story, he went and changed the formula! There is a neat little twist towards the end, which would have been picked up earlier by a more discerning reader. I wasn't really thinking about where the story was going, so it surprised me!

The reason I chose this book is because the idea of taking over the electricity grid sounded really interesting. I wasn't disappointed in this regard. It also pokes fun at the reliance of "new age" intelligence agents relying on cloud computing for their intelligence, over the old school running of snitches.

The only thing I didn't really like about the novel is that after the crime was solved there were still about 50 pages of the book to go. They were spent wrapping up loose ends, but it just seemed to go on too long.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In the Miso Soup - Ryu Murakami

I came across this book at one of our book chat sessions. One of the group members had just finished reading it and was reading another of Ryu Murakami books. Someone else borrowed it from him first and when she handed it back she said she couldn't finish it because it was too tense and menacing... and that it was best not to read it at night.

I can't remember ever feeling menaced by a book... so I was looking forward to it... in a weird kinda way. I was a bit disappointed in that regard. The tension built up when Kenji, a Japanese tourist guide, began to have
suspicions about Frank's, an American toutist, true nature. There was a particularly gruesome scene in the middle of the book, which made me wary about what was going to happen in the rest of the story. I was a bit
disappointed in the end. Kenji has to work out what to do about Frank. I must say that it wasn't what I expected!

Again, my expectations of the book somewhat clouded the reading of the book. I did enjoy reading it, but was expecting to feel a certain way while I read it. I think I would be happy to try more of Murakami's work.

Kenji is a tour guide of Japan's seedy side. He gets a call from Frank, who says he's in Japan on business and would like to hire Kenji's services for 3 days up to and including New Years Eve. Kenji accepts, despite having plans with his girlfriend Jun, who is a 16 year old schoolgirl. Everything starts of normal enough. But slowly Kenji begins to feel uncomfortable with Frank. It becomes apparent that Frank has lied to him and he begins to think that maybe Frank has something to do with the murder of a school girl that had been in the news. When a homeless man is killed Kenji is convinced it is Frank who is behind it. It is with this tension that Kenji meets Frank for the second night and things take a turn for the worst. The second half of the book is dealing with Kenji's moral dilemma about what to do about it.