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WWWR? (What Would Woden Read)

Our well-read Woden team have spilled the beans on what they've been reading in this week's Spotlight on QBD!

Tell The Truth, Shame The Devil by Melina Marchetta:

Melina Marchetta holds a very special place in the hearts of Australians, her books dealing with coming of age in a multicultural Australia are considered de rigueur for a generation of young adult readers. Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil is her first foray into adult fiction and she doesn't disappoint.

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met receives a call that his daughter has been caught up in a bomb attack at a camp ground in France. As he races to her side his past is about to catch up with him because on site is Violet LeBrac, daughter of the infamous Noor LeBrac, the terrorist he helped put away 13 years ago. As the Police investigate the bomb attack and their attention turns to Violet, Bish will be dragged back into the web of LeBrac family history.

Thus begins a great read, a thrilling crime novel, a story of family ties, and, with Melina's signature style, a story of growing up in truly tumultuous times. - Rachel

Girt: The Unauthorised History of Australia by David Hunt:

History’s role is to inform. But what it informs us depends on the person writing it. What we usually don’t learn about are the murkier things, the oddities and the nonsense items. Yet it is amidst these that David Hunt, in Girt, has penned a satirical, tongue-in-cheek, very funny yet strangely informative account of the history of the Australian continent up until the demise of Governor Macquarie.

Take for example the matter of Joseph Banks, esteemed botanist, discoverer of a multitude of forms of flora and fauna on James Cook’s first southern voyage and eventual President of the influential Royal Society. He was also a womaniser, boozer and spoiled brat, although that did not seem to make it into my secondary school Australian History. Banks successfully lobbied for command of a second voyage down south. But he also demanded rebuilding of an entire ship’s deck to better house he and his mates. The changes so overbalanced the ship that Cook refused to sail it. Banks had a dummy spit and quit the voyage - although he forgot to tell the woman travelling under her own means to Madeira, dressed as a man - expecting to meet Banks when Cook’s second voyage finally arrived. This is typical of the fun in Hunt’s writing.

Hunt’s second book in the series, True Girt, was short-listed for the 2017 Russell Prize for Humour Writing and Girt is easily up to the same, delightful standard. - Ross

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:

Ready Player One is a rare breed of book. It seems that rather than creating the plot and the way that the characters fit into it, the author decided to create a list of numerous 80's references and built the plot around these references. As a result those that enjoyed geek pop culture from the 80's are in for a very strong nostalgia trip. However, do not let this deter younger readers as the book still has themes relating to millenials. Virtual reality, climate change, economic stagnation and fear of the future are the novels larger themes. The plot revolves around the main character Wade Watts who escapes real life by playing Oasis, a ubiquitous MMORPG in which anything can happen and to which almost the whole world is addicted.

The creator of the Oasis (James Halliday, not the wine guy) has since passed away leaving his immense fortune behind to whoever completes his challenges and finds the keys to his "Easter Egg" in Oasis. Whoever finds the Easter egg will acquire Halliday's immense fortune and control of the Oasis. So begins Wade's quest to complete all the challenges before the other competitors and to control Halliday's fortune.- Alex

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett:

We are often told not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case I ignored that and I do not regret it one bit.

Patchett is well known for her earlier imaginative novels Bel Canto and State of Wonderbut this new novel is quite a new departure and clearly autobiographical. As she knows her subject matter better than anything else in the world, she brings all her considerable skills to the creation of the blended Keating and Cousins family.

In the 60s in Los Angeles, at a Christening party for baby Franny Keating, Bert Cousins, an assistant DA, arrives with a bottle of gin and leaves with the heart of the baby's mother Beverly. Thus begins the blending (or commonwealth) of their 6 children as they leave California to settle in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The long set-piece chapter on the christening party would make a fine short story on its own, and the later stories of the children's lives as kids and as adults refer back to it often.

All the children and adults have chapters seen from their point of view: a meeting with a novelist who steals their story, accidental arson, a meditation retreat in Switzerland and more. But central to the story is a death. An event only hinted at initially, then developed image by image until the truth is revealed. There is a gun, but why is it there?

The beautiful mother whose actions set this story in motion catches the eye but is almost silent throughout the book. Her voice is passed on in the chapters devoted to the main character Franny, who was the babe in arms when her mother and Bert Cousins first kiss (dirty nappy and all).

Commonwealth is not a novel of events or of finding a solution, it ends in the way that family life does: by not ever ending. It is a masterful novel, that is perfectly controlled and in which not all questions are or can be answered.

This is my novel of the year so far. - David

The Boy Who Saw by Simon Toyne:

The Boy Who Saw is the second in a truly unique new series, a fast paced thriller with a good dose of mysticism. Following on from the first book Solomon Creed, we find Solomon, still with amnesia, again drawn to a person who he believes he must save, but from what or whom?

When a tailor in Cordes in southern France is killed in a horrific manner a conspiracy spanning decades and dating back to WWII will be uncovered but what is Solomon's part in the past and will he come any closer to learning his identity?

This sequel continues the same great characterization and exciting plot line. Simply a must have for any fans of Dan Brown or David Baldacci. - Rachel

The Rag Tag Fleet by Ian W. Shaw:

Kokoda and the New Guinea campaign in World War II are part of the Australian psyche. But it couldn’t have happened as it did without supplies – bullets, bombs, food, fuel etc. But the New Guinea coastal area is largely shallow and ridden with reefs ready to rip the hull out of ships. There were insufficient airfields capable of carrying larger aircraft loaded down with the necessaries. So how did all those crucial supplies get delivered to make the Kokoda victory possible?

Enter the Small Ships Section. This was a fleet of small vessels capable of delivering to those problem areas. Harassed by Japanese fighter planes while barely armed themselves and battling the elements as well as the treacherous coast, the ships and crews achieved what the rest of the naval and air forces had been unable to do. While nominally sailing under the US Navy, these were mainly Australians, either too young or too old for regular service. However, it was a great disappointment to realise just how reluctant Australian authorities were for decades to recognise that service.

Ian W Shaw has continued his usual theme of researching Australians at war, unearthing the little-told stories. And, also as usual, as much as possible of it is told through the eyes and words of the participants, bringing a more human touch to his narrative. - Ross

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Spotlight on QBD Woden 2016

 

Love a good book? So do our team at Woden!

These are their latest reads...

 

9781743317938The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson:

The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a fun, easy read for those looking for a light-hearted book.

This book is not what one would expect from a book about an old man, it follows a man and his escape from his nursing-home while including flash-backs of his intense and ridiculous life.
Seamlessly incorporating major historical events while never becoming dull enables Jonasson to maintain the humourous atmosphere of The Hundred Year Old Man.

I picked this book up because it had been quite popular and I wanted to know why, it took me a while to actually start to read it because I wasn't too sure that a book about an old-man could be very interesting. However I was not disappointed, this book captured my attention from the start and held it until the very end, when I felt a lull in the story may occur, Jonasson took the story in a new direction, engaging me once again.

While this book already has some hype around it, I cannot help but add to it, as I feel this book is perfect for anyone who is looking for a book which is action-packed and comedic while also being easy to read and hard to put down. - Caroline

9781460750957The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

The Rook is a fantastically creative urban fantasy that will have you absorbed from the first page.

It tells the tale of Myfanwy Thomas, who wakes up in the middle of a London park with no memory, surrounded by dead bodies which all seem to be wearing latex gloves. Finding a letter in her coat addressed to herself, from her former self, Myfanwy begins to unravel the mystery of who she is and why she ended up in a park surrounded by dead bodies wearing latex gloves. However this story is about so much more than Myfanwy finding herself.

O'Malley's imagination has built a world where seemingly ordinary people have astronomically astounding gifts. These people must come together to defend their world. The rich world of brilliantly imaginative creatures and supernatural organizations will keep you hooked until the end.The world he has created is based on a secret bureaucracy with the sole purpose to protect the world from magic. O'Malley works in the Public Service in Canberra, perhaps it is these experiences that enable him to draw out the humour in otherwise dull bureaucratic red-tape.

I picked this up after listening to the author at a writers festival, and he was so witty and funny I knew it was bound to be a good book. I was not disappointed - it is a delightfully humorous and inventive novel that never bores, even after half a dozen reads. I was first in line for the long awaited sequel Stiletto. - Sylvia

9781743534908The Good People by Hannah Kent

Hannah Kent follows up her enormously popular debut Burial Rites with another historical fiction novel loosely based on an actual event which takes place in Ireland in the 1800's. Hannah Kent's ability to research a period and bring it into vivid life is simply astounding.

Nóra Leahy looses her daughter and gains custody of her grandson Micheál a child she refuses to let anyone see, her husband dies at the crossroads, the cows in the valley stop producing milk and rumours of otherworldly interference take hold at the well where the women gather.

Old Nance Roche has "the knowledge" and she consorts with The Good People. As four year old Micheal is unable to walk or talk, she is convinced that he is a changeling, having been perfectly healthy at two. Nora clings to the hope that with Nance's knowledge, her true grandchild can be returned to her and the changeling sent back to it's own kind.

Nance, Nora and Nora's maid Mary must contend with dismissive doctors, who will take their money and declare Micheal a cretin, and interfering priests who claim his illness as god's will to bring about "The Cure". Unfortunately with all Nance's knowledge of "Herbs" and "The Cures", the plan takes a tragic twist that sees the three women put on trial.

At the heart of this book is the divide between science and the logical ideology of the educated townspeople, and country-folk holding onto their pagan beliefs and mythologies which have grown out of their attempt to explain the harsh and confusing world around them.
This is another beautiful book by Hannah Kent full of love, hope, tragedy and the humanity we cling to when the world we know turns against us. - Rachel

9781760277659The Fabulous Friend Machine by Nick Bland

A fresh-off-the-press new-release from the bestselling author of the Very Cranky Bear series.

Along with working at QBD I moonlight as a babysitter who takes bedtime reading very seriously and subsequently I am constantly on the lookout for books that entertain both adult and child alike, have terrific rhyming flow and incorporate an old-fashioned moral ending. The Fabulous Friend Machine is all of these and more.

The Fabulous Friend Machine tells the story of Popcorn,the very social and 'friendliest hen at Fiddlesticks Farm', who enjoys spending time with all the animals in the farmyard until she discovers the fabulous friend machine and becomes a recluse, more interested in making new friends she meets through the screen of her fabulous friend machine than spending time with her old farmyard friends.

With a thrilling ending, where Popcorn's discovers perhaps her new friends are not quite as friendly as she first thought, her farmyard friends come to her rescue and Popcorn learns a cautionary lesson of remembering who your true friends are and that perhaps you shouldn't trust everyone you meet through an electronic screen.

Through witty rhymes and clever illustrations, Nick Bland shows the negative impact mobile phones may have on our everyday relationships. This funny little children's story made me reconsider how much time I spend on my phone/iPad/computer and whether my face-to-face relationships are impacted by this. The Fabulous Friend Machine was great fun to read out loud and an enjoyable tale that both adults and children can learn from. I will definitely be adding The Fabulous Friend Machine to my babysitting collection. - Shannon

9780356502007Promise of Blood (Powder Mage Trilogy book 1) by Brian McClellan

A promising first novel from an author who has since gone on to finish the trilogy and expand the universe with nearly a dozen short stories and novellas.

The story takes place in the fictional land called "The Nine". The story is set against the backdrop of the industrial revolution with magic intertwined. You have your classical style of magic, in the form of the "Privileged" (That's what the wizards and witches of this world are called) who are egotistical and arrogant higher-class individuals. Tthey have the power to destroy cities with a flick of their hands.

The truly unique magic style in this series is that of the "Powder Mages". These individuals are able to snort gunpowder for increased strength, agility and the ability to see further. They also have the ability to make gunpowder explode on command and force a bullet to strike its target at a great distance with pinpoint accuracy.

The main character of the series is a solider called "Taniel" who is also a powder mage. His father field marshal "Tamas" has just executed the nobles and royalty french revolution-style in order to make way for a new modern style of government. Naturally the other nations surrounding them are not too keen on the idea of the populace realizing they can execute their kings and queens so a nation called Kez proceeds to invade Adro in order to stop these executions from becoming common. Taniel is tasked by Tamas to prepare for the invasion by eliminating any of the remaining royalists who have gone into hiding in the Capital while Tamas leads the army to face the invading Kez army in defense of their nation.

The story is full of well-written action, character, and world development. Due to the Powder Mages unique magic system, it helps keep the reader interested and its compelling plot is fast-paced. The story ends on a cliffhanger, but not to worry, it is the first novel in the trilogy and there is a lot more action to come.

By the time you've read the whole series you are simply hungry for more adventures in 'The Nine' world. For lovers of all good fantasy novels. - Alex

9781847923677When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

This memoir is a must for readers' of Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande's Being Mortal, however this beautifully crafted memoir will move and have a lasting impact on anyone who has the fortune of picking it up. From the first chapter onward I knew that When Breath Becomes Air would alter my perspective on the fragility of life and question how I would react if faced with my own very near mortality.

Paul Kalanithi was a doctor who dedicated the last decade of his life to the challenging specialty of neurosurgery. Nearing the completion of his internship, Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and suddenly transported from doctor to patient. Through his experiences as both doctor and patient he was able to poignantly reflect on the relationship between doctors, their patients and the practice of medicine. Tragically, Kalanithi died before the completion of his memoir with his wife completing the memoir with an emotion-filled conclusion.

Paul Kalanithi's memoir is incredibly well written and will unashamedly cause tears with the strength this man showed in the final period of his life and how he, instead of becoming overwhelmed at the prospect of not seeing his young daughter grow up or fulfilling the life he and his wife had imagined, was able to analyze what it is to live a 'meaningful life' and what makes life worth living in the face of certain death?

Unputdownable and moving. To readers of non-fiction and fiction alike, I cannot recommend reading this memoir highly enough. - Shannon

Spotlight on QBD Woden

Our Woden team have gathered together some wonderful reads this week!
Luckily our spotlight is used to handling glowing reviews.

9780553212419Sherlock Holmes Vol. I by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle:
Possibly the world's greatest detective and his companion meet the world as only Sherlock Holmes can. Doyle really brings his characters to life as they sleuth it out across olde time London. Impossible to put down as you are immersed in a piece of history and follow Holmes through the smoggy streets, solving any tiny clue set out in front of him. A fun, funny and exciting read. Sherlock Holmes has clearly stood the test of time. As fresh now as he ever was. - Derek

9780007551361Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne:
Solomon Creed burns with a slow wick. It reveals the plot slowly. It reveals the bad guys slowly and it reveals Solomon Creed himself very slowly.
We first meet him after a fiery plane crash near the border town of Redemption, Arizona. He is smartly dressed in tailor made clothes from Paris and carries a small paperback inscribed with the name James Coronado, who we learn has just been buried in the town's historic wild west cemetery. He saves many lives during the wild fire that results from the plane crash and threatens to burn the whole town. He is thrown in jail for his efforts.
The story is told from many different perspectives. The goodies and the baddies are given equal time, but the most interesting part is hearing the story told in the paperback Creed was carrying in his pocket. It tells the story of the founder of the town, whose desperate trek through the deserts of the south-west leads to horror, wealth, wonder and Redemption. Though the ex-copper and hit-man Mulcahy is pretty interesting too, walking the razor's edge between evil and really evil.
The rest of the story involves corrupt coppers and politicians, narcotics, psychotic drug kingpins from the badlands of Northern Mexico, and the strangest most intriguing albino hero you will meet in fiction. Solomon Creed can ride, shoot, fight but cannot remember where he is from or why he is in Redemption, Arizona but he knows he is here to save James Coronado, whoever he may be.
Part "No Country For Old Men", part "The Son" by Phillip Meyer, with a smattering of the supernatural, we could not put this book down. It is captivating, a bit blood thirsty and very satisfying. - David (Store Manager)

9780241968185Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey:
A fantastic and original concept in crime fiction.
This is the story of Maud, an ageing mother, grandmother and friend who's memory is rapidly deteriorating. Maud's life is made up of small snippets of memory helped along by notes she writes herself.
There are two puzzles in Maud's life one new and one old which she must find the answers too, even as she struggles with a life that is becoming more confused day by day.
This book will leave you guessing to the end as you help piece together Maud's story.
Told in a gentle, funny and sometimes sad way this book is full of wonderful, unforgettable characters. - Rachel (Store 2IC)

9780857980403The Beast's Garden by Kate Forsyth:
Everyone here at Woden knows that I am a hopeless romantic and cannot resist a heartbreaking love story, so it is not surprising that I grabbed Kate Forsyth's latest novel, The Beast's Garden, and did not let it go until the early hours of the following morning.
Similar to Kate Forsyth's recent novels, The Beast's Garden is a retelling of The Grimm Brother's tale 'The Singing, Springing Lark' which is a variation of Beauty and the Beast. The novel is set in WWII Germany and follows the lives of a young Nazi officer and his new bride. Ava initially fears her new husband, however gradually realizes he is a good man and comes to love him. Ava and Leo soon become wrapped up in a dangerous underground resistance movement. The Beast's Garden has all the indigents of a stunning love story; drama, intrigue and heartbreak. Not to be missed by any true romantic. - Shannon

9780099560432Ready Player One by Ernest Cline:
Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is a cult classic hiding in a modern day work. With unexpected thrills and over a hundred amazing references to popular 80’s movies and games, this book will give anyone who grew up in the 80’s nostalgia. The sci-fi book focuses on a video game called OASIS. OASIS is a fictitious virtual reality game that expands to thousands of kilometers and is so detailed that it is basically a whole new world. Wade, an orphaned boy, travels all the way across OASIS in order to find the only “Easter Egg” in the game. This hilarious book will take you on a unique adventure that will make you feel like you are actually in a video game. If you enjoy any type of video game or if you are a movie buff, Ready Player One will put you straight into its world and make you want more and more. - Alex

9781447268970Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel:
Canadian author Emily St John Mandel blew my mind with an artistic tale of the post-apocalypse named Station Eleven. Never before did I think that the post-apocalypse could be more than just an action thriller, Emily St John Mandel proved that wrong.
Taking place 20 years after an extremely deadly strand of flu took over 90% of the earth’s population, this book follows a group of actors and musicians called “The Travelling Symphony” who travel across the barren wastelands of the once known USA. The story crosses between before and after the flu, showing you a great deal of memory and loss and how it can affect people.
Station Eleven is a beautiful book with words and descriptions that made me feel like I was looking directly at a very beautiful but gruesome painting. A book that will make you actually feel like you’re in the post-apocalyptic world, Station Eleven will grab you by the heart and give you tingles down your spine. - Alex

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