John Birmingham’s RESISTANCE

9781742614052John Birmingham takes up where he left off at the end of Emergence. Dave is enjoying a well-earned rest after the battle of New Orleans while the rest of the world is coming to terms with the fact that monsters (Orcs, dragons, super-sized bugs, you name it) are now among us and wanting to re-subjugate their old food source. However human technologies are proving more than difficult, if not impossible, for them to overcome. New hordes of monsters soon start popping out all over the world and Dave quickly realizes that superpowers do not mean he is infallible. In fact they can even make him a bigger arsehole that he was previously.

You can tell Birmingham is having a lot of fun with The Dave as he is now known. But he also knows the limits. Dave is not hero material. He’s a pig and his new over-extended ego only expands these notions. While recovering in Las Vegas (of all places) following events in Emergence Dave really goes to town. But just when you think JB has tipped The Dave too far into chauvinistic, a-hole extraordinaire he brings his hero crashing down to earth, literally and figuratively.

JB keeps the action coming thick and fast and choosing to put us inside the heads of some of the monsters is brilliant, both for some wicked laughs and to set up some very nice spanners in the works. But the book is all about The Dave. He may not be the hero we deserve and may not want to be the hero we need but he is slowly learning the hard way how to be both.

I have no idea where book three is heading and cannot wait to find out. The even better news is the way John Birmingham has written this series I won’t have to wait too long.

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ISBN: 9781742614052
Classification:
Format: Paperback (233mm x 154mm x mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Macmillan Australia
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Publish Date: 01-Mar-2015
Country of Publication: Australia

Roxane Gay’s AN UNTAMED STATE

9781472120151One of the most uncompromising, unflinching, page-turning books I have read in a long time. It is a harrowing story that forces you to confront and challenge many important issues; gender, poverty, race and class to list but a few.

Mireille is visiting her Haitian parents in Port-au-Prince with her American husband and baby son when their car is stopped and Mireille is kidnapped. Her kidnappers demand a ransom from her wealthy father who refuses to pay. What follows is thirteen days of horror and deprivation.

The novel is told in two distinct parts; before and after. During Mireille’s horrific ordeal we get flashbacks to her life before; her childhood growing up in America, the wealth her family enjoy and the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. Interspersed with the flashbacks is Mirelle’s father and husband’s story as they come into conflict over what should be done to get Mireille back. And all the time Mireille must endure the torment of her captors.

9780802122513Roxane Gay does not take a backward step throughout the novel. You are forced to confront, firstly what her captors do to her and what this means for Mireille afterwards. Mireille must change herself to survive, she must bury her humanity to somehow protect it. She is broken mentally and physically and must somehow find a way to put herself back together, if that is even possible, a recover what humanity she has left. Gay’s portrayal of the post traumatic stress Mireille suffers is as honest, raw and emotional as the trauma she experiences.

While what happens to Mireille is confronting Roxane Gay uses this to open your eyes to other aspects we should also confront. She challenges us as a reader to explore the way we think about gender, race and class. Gender is at the heart of the violence that is done to Mirielle but the cause is wealth and poverty with everyone’s perceptions clouded by race.

This a novel that will shock you, surprise you and make you rethink your view of the world and the people in it. It is exactly what all great fiction should do and does so with style, honesty and empathy. It will strike a nerve, it will make you angry and break your heart and is a novel you will never forget, and nor should you.

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ISBN: 9781472120151
ISBN-10: 1472120159
Classification: Thriller / suspense
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Corsair
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 8-Jan-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Monthly Blog Round up – November

My blog posts from November

9781742614045John Birmingham’s EMERGENCE

Dave Hooper is not your typical hero. In fact he is a bit of an arsehole. He works on the oil rigs and blows most of his pay packet on booze, drugs and women much to the ire of his very-soon-to-be ex-wife and two kids. Dave is nursing a particularly nasty hangover on the way to work when all hell literally breaks loose. Read more…

9780356504582Claire North’s TOUCH

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry Augustannounced the arrival of a very special talent. Claire North maybe the pseudonym for Catherine Webb (and Kate Griffin), who has already published a number of books, but Harry August was something else entirely. It was bold, intelligent, gripping and mind-blowing. Before the real identity of the pseudonym was revealed I was prepared to believe that Claire North could have been any already majorly established author, the writing was that good. With her follow-up novel, Claire North not only confirms that she is worthy of comparison with established authors, she leaves them all for dust. Read more…

9781408864586Harry Brandt’s THE WHITES

It has been seven years since Richard Price last published a novel and it has been worth the wait. Writing under the transparent pseudonym Harry Brandt, Richard Price again demonstrates he truly is a master when it comes to crime and American life. Price delivers a multi-layered, slow-burning portrayal of friendship, justice and revenge and how easily the three of them can be incompatible. Read more…

9781408706558Sara Nović’s GIRL AT WAR

Sara Nović’s writing is incredible and she completely shattered me a quarter of the way into the book. She also structures her story perfectly jumping backward and forward from the war in 1991 to ten years later and its lasting aftereffects. This is a coming-of-age story which happens far too early. It is about how history defines us and haunts us. It is about trying to make sense of an unexplainable conflict and how in war innocence is so easily lost. Read More…

Sara Nović’s GIRL AT WAR

9781408706558I generally read 2-3 months ahead. It’s the nature of the book industry. I buy books for the shop 2-3 months in advance and get reading copies of the books being sold in. However with this book my 2015 reading has gotten a little bit ahead of itself. Six months in fact. I couldn’t help myself as this book was compared to two of my favourite novels of recent years; The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra. I had to read this book straight away.

Firstly the comparison is completely justified while at the same time telling a completely different kind of story to those two wonderful books. The book opens in 1991 in Zagreb. A city that was once part of Yugoslavia which is about to become the capital of Croatia as civil war erupts. Ana Jurić is ten years-old and the story is told through her eyes as the collapse of communism soon turns to a confusing and violent war.

Ana is like any ten year-old. She wants to play with her best friend Luka and the effects of the war are more intriguing than dangerous. The sandbags and other equipment are new areas to explore and play and the constant air raids are exciting. But when Ana’s baby sister gets sick the effects of the war and the new borders it has created become all too apparent. Ana has to grow up fast. Faster than she wants. Faster than anyone should have to.

Sara Nović’s writing is incredible and she completely shattered me a quarter of the way into the book. She also structures her story perfectly jumping backward and forward from the war in 1991 to ten years later and its lasting aftereffects. This is a coming-of-age story which happens far too early. It is about how history defines us and haunts us. It is about trying to make sense of an unexplainable conflict and how in war innocence is so easily lost.

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ISBN: 9781408706558
Classification:
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Little Brown
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 19-May-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Harry Brandt’s THE WHITES

9781408864586It has been seven years since Richard Price last published a novel and it has been worth the wait. Writing under the transparent pseudonym Harry Brandt, Richard Price again demonstrates he truly is a master when it comes to crime and American life. Price delivers a multi-layered, slow-burning portrayal of friendship, justice and revenge and how easily the three of them can be incompatible.

Billy Graves was a member of The Wild Geese, the WGs. A group of cops in the early 90s fresh into uniform and looking to make a difference on the wild streets of New York. Twenty years later he’s the only one still carry a badge. The rest of his crew have successfully and unsuccessfully carved out new careers, all for different reasons and under different circumstances. But all of them are still haunted by their ‘Whites’. The cases that got away from them, where justice for one reason or many was never served. The cases they just can’t let go of, for the families of the victims and their own sense of right and wrong.

Billy Graves is in charge of the Night Watch. The unit that responds to calls during the never glamorous night shift. He’s given the dregs of the department. The misfits and washouts, the cops nobody else wants to work with. He does his shifts and rushes home to get his two boys off to school before sleeping through the rest of the day. It’s life and it has it’s rhythm. Until he’s called to the scene of a stabbing where the victim is one of the WG’s ‘Whites’. When another ‘White’ is reported missing it is too much of a coincidence. As Billy picks around the edges suspicions quickly turn to betrayals. And when his wife and kids are targeted by a stalker it all suddenly gets too much for Billy. Operating on a severe lack of sleep and trust he grapples with what is the right thing to do while events slowly escalate around him.

Richard Price not only has one of the best ears for authentic dialogue but also for the street. It’s noises and rhythms that ebb and flow around those whom inhabit it.

“THE SOUND of tires rolling over a side street full of shattered light bulbs was like the sound of Jiffy Pop achieving climax”

He brings all his characters and their turmoils vividly to life with sublime nuance and empathy. Ultimately this is a story about the mistakes we make and how those mistakes and their consequences haunt us constantly. About how justice can be blind but vengeance can be all-consuming. If you let it.

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ISBN: 9781408864586
ISBN-10: 1408864584
Classification: Crime & mystery
Format: Paperback (234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publish Date: 12-Feb-2015
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

HarperCollins Trials Print and Ebook Bundling with Pages & Pages Booksellers and Boomerang Books

Pages & Pages Booksellers & Boomerang Books, in partnership with Harper Collins Australia and Kobo, are trialling the bundling together of print books and ebooks.

From today until the end of January customers of either  independent bookshop Pages & Pages or online bookshop Boomerang Books will have the opportunity to buy a selection of bestselling Harper Collins titles that will include a copy of the ebook.

The bundled books contain a unique code that customers can use to download the ebook from Kobo.

Bundling is a great idea when it comes to books. Unlike music and DVD, it is next to impossible to digitize a print book. Given some of the limitations that surround eBooks giving readers the opportunity to buy both formats together adds to readers’ convenience and gives them a handy backup for their digital library.The bundling of print books and ebooks opens a lot of doors currently closed by ebooks. People can easily gift a bundled book without fear of what device (if any) someone reads on. The rise of ebooks has eroded to some extent the art of sharing a book with friends and loved ones, bundling print books and ebooks overcomes this and reaffirms the physical book as the premier book format. An ebook reader can also have a physical copy to get signed by the author or to put on their shelf and a print book reader has a digital copy easily accessible from a computer, tablet, smartphone or ereader.

The books part of the bundling trial are:

Cleanskin Cowgirls by Rachael Treasure
Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetti
Kerry Stokes: The Boy from Nowhere by Andrew Rule
Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington
The Menzies Era by John Howard

The books are available now in store at Pages & Pages Booksellers and online from Boomerang Books

ebookbundles

My Top 5 Reads of 2014

What another outstanding year of great books. My book of the year was a real stand-out but there was a very close second. Sorting out the rest was nearly impossible. My biggest discovery was David Mitchell. I devoured all his books and loved them all and could have include all them in my top 10 but instead I just chose The Bone Clocks which just missed my Top 5.  So here it is my top 5 reads of 2014 (plus 5 more).

97808578642391. Redeployment by Phil Klay

Every story packs an emotional intensity not only rare in short stories but rare in longer fiction too. Imagine the emotional wallop of The Yellow Birds with the frank and brutal insight of Matterhorn distilled into a short story and you get close to the impact each of these stories makes on their own. Put together as a collection and you have something very special that will be read (and should be read) by many long into the future. Read more…

97804340227862. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

From the subject matter, to the structure, the characters and the language this is an astonishing debut. Smith Henderson manages to combine the raw intensity and emotion of Philipp Meyer with the haunting descriptions and beautiful language of Kevin Powers while delving into the dark shadows of society in a deeply personal and confrontingly honest way like Jenni Fagan. Read more…

 

97800919561343. The Martian by Andy Weir

This was of the funnest books I can remember reading in a long time. Gripping, funny and told in a totally original and authentic voice you can’t help but be hooked in by this part-Apollo 13, part-Castaway survival story. Read more…

 

4. The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey

9780356502847The book opens with 10-year-old Melanie. She is sitting in a cell waiting for the Sergeant who is going to strap her to a wheelchair and take her, under guard, to her classroom where she will learn about the world with the other children. Something has happen to the outside world and Melanie and her classmates might be humanity’s only hope. Read more…

 

5. The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

9780356502564This book draws immediate comparisons to Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. But where Life After Life was about a character who kept reliving their life over and over without knowing they were doing so, this is about a character who keeps reliving their life over and over and remembers everything. And this difference changes everything. Read more…

Honourable mentions go to The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (all his books a truly amazing and this really just missed my Top 5), We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (reminded me so much of one of all-time favourite novels Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides), The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman (seriously this trilogy is Harry Potter for grown ups), Fives and Twenty-Fives by Michael Pitre (if it wasn’t for Redeployment this would have been Top 5 easily) and Fallout by Sadie Jones (a return to form for one of my favourite writers).