Thursday, 5 June 2014

Lindy Jones has been reading...

Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011

Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds by John Pickrell


John Pickrell

Written by a journalist rather than a scientist, this accessible book presents the current thinking on the evolution of birds. In the process, it removes some long held misconceptions – thanks to the remarkable discoveries of amazing fossil fields in China, and fascinating research being carried out there and elsewhere.

It seems many dinosaurs were covered in feathery fuzz rather than scales, that flight as a strategy has been the most successful development of the animal kingdom, that clever science has discovered the colour range of dinosaurs, and that we don’t need to go all Jurassic Park and recreate dinosaurs, as they still exist today in a wonderful array of shapes and abilities today.

An entertaining and enlightening read!

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Tess Lea

The last of the NewSouth series on Australian capital cities, this maintains the consistent excellent quality of the other books. A blend of history, memoir, explanation and exploration, Darwin the city is a place that shouldn’t exist. Sheer tenacity has seen it survive natural catastrophes, wartime bombing, inhospitable geography and the indifference of Commonwealth governments.

Tess Lea reveals a city that has always struggled against its physical position (and the section on how mosquitoes have influenced settlement is both fascinating and slightly scary!) but holds pride in being so isolated, tough and defiant. Even if contemporary Darwin is losing much of what set it apart, and even if it is truly a militarised town where no-one mentions the impact of American Marines stationed there, or the fact Darwin is home to the biggest military aerial defence training zone in the world.

A paradoxical place, captured in cleanly descriptive style; a book that presents it in all its compromised glories!

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Louisa Young

This is the sequel to the excellent My Dear I Wanted to Tell You and continues the stories of Riley Purefoy and Peter Locke after the cessation of the Great War.

If war was hell, settling back into civilian life holds its own horrors. Riley’s facial disfigurement presents problems apart from the physical, and misunderstanding arises between him and his sweetheart Nadine even as they marry. Peter is struggling with a sense of futility, alcoholism and a wife bearing her own self-inflicted damage. As time passes Riley and Peter learn how to re-engage with life, never able to put aside their war experiences, but slowly finding their way in a world irrevocably marked by the cataclysm.

An excellent examination of the impact of peace.

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Sian Prior

This absorbing and revealing memoir deals with social anxiety, fame and its effects on relationships.

Sian had suffered from shyness all her life, but had managed to hide her ‘failing’, adopting a more confident persona that carried her through careers in the public eye for two decades. When she entered a relationship with someone famed for his songwriting and singing, she could thought she had found someone whose reserve matched her own, and felt safe in his company. But whenever they were in company, people gravitated to him and ignored her, and her social anxieties grew. Deciding to research the topic, she also delves in to more personal questions regarding her past. Then her partner drops a bombshell…

A book that will resonate with any woman who has been unceremoniously dumped by the man she thought was her true love. Sian might be criticised for not naming her ex but the book is about her, and not him, and I found this to be an effective method of dealing with the obvious trauma of losing him. I also find it hard to listen to his songs lately, but this memoir is a fine read.

Keir Alexander

If you want an easy and entertaining read, this one will fit the bill! Michael Marcinkus runs an old-fashioned deli in a New York neighbourhood. His aunt Rosa is a disreputable, shambling, unwashed wreck of a woman, muttering and shuffling and striking dread into the people who pass her by.

One day she is involved in an accident, and while she is in hospital, Michael ventures into her stinking flat, where he stumbles across an unexpected treasure – a pair of ruby shoes in a box stamped with a Hollywood insignia. This starts off a chain of events involving a number of characters in the district – the street boy up to no good, the man who has lost his partner, Michael’s wife and family, and an assortment of well-meaning customers.

Nothing serious about this, but a good way to while away an afternoon or two!

J A White

One night 6 year old Kara is snatched from her home and taken, blindfolded, to a field where the first thing she sees is her mother, bound and waiting execution. They have both been accused of witchcraft, a capital offence, but Kara manages to unconsciously fool the witch-hunter and is allowed to go free.

Seven years later, she, her sickly brother (who was born on the night of their mother's death) and her grief-maddened father are little short of outcasts. Their isolated island community abhors magic - even wishing is considered reprehensible - and is anticipating the return of a legendary leader who will save the world from its evil.

Surrounding the settlement is a forest, Thickety, which embodies all the darkness it fears, and between the trees and the farmland is Fringe, an area vegetated with treacherous plants. When Kara is lured into Thickety, breaking a promise she made her mother, dreadful things are set in motion, and everything she has struggled for is jeopardised…

This is far and away one of the best novels I've read in a very long time. I read it in one sitting because I was so absorbed in the world that was created and couldn't bear to put it down until I had reached the end - and what a finish: there's a major development I didn't see coming at all! There are many levels to this imaginative novel and its atmosphere of uncertainty and menace is artfully conveyed.

The creatures could come from nightmares, and the repressive nature of the puritan community is well described, but it is Kara who catches your attention from the very first. Intelligent, stoic, quietly defiant, she deals with habitual suspicion and doubt, yet remains faithful to her true self. I reckon Kara will be the next heroine to sweep readers away, and that this is the beginning of a very special series indeed!

Christine Paice

Rebecca’s father has been given a new parish, and Rebecca is most unhappy. Obsessed with all the fervour of a 15 year old she has had to leave behind her boyfriend; her older sister has left home for university; and the new neighbourhood is decidedly weird. Creepy, even. So when the ghost of a failed 19th century poet appears in her bedroom, she is not so much surprised as puzzled by what he wants. Their unusual friendship offers solace to them both, but the ghost of his sister wants something else again…

A coming-of-age novel with an energetic, almost breathless style that captures the contradictions and complications of leaving childhood behind.

Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

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