20 April 2015

Death of a Kindle

My poor Kindle 2, bought in 2009, gave notice of its imminent death last week.
It refused to come to life when I pushed the "wake me up" switch.
I could fool it into life by connecting it to the computer as if it was getting a life saving drink, and then it would activate when I pulled the umbilical cord out. However if I then left it unattended, it went back to sleep, and would not activate.

So I thought, can I do without it? I do read using the Kindle App on my iPad, but I do read nearly a quarter of my books as e-books. I find the iPad a bit cumbersome when lying on my side reading in bed, so I bit the bullet.

I now have a Paper White Kindle - because of the Australian $ exchange rate, it was a bit more expensive than I would have liked, but in contrast to my older Kindle 2, it is back lit (so I could, if I wanted to, read in the dark), and there are no buttons - I can just touch the side of the screen to get to the next page.

I'm still learning the rest of its features, but I am amused at the way it can tell me how much time a book will take me to read.

One thing I would like to know is whether I can copy the content of my Kindle2 into my Paper White. Any experiences?

19 April 2015

Review: THE LOST SWIMMER, Ann Turner

Synopsis (Net Galley)

Rebecca Wilding, an archaeology professor, traces the past for a living.

But suddenly, truth and certainty are turning against her. Rebecca is accused of serious fraud, and worse, she suspects – she knows – that her husband, Stephen, is having an affair.

Desperate to find answers, Rebecca leaves with Stephen for Greece, Italy and Paris, where she can uncover the conspiracy against her, and hopefully win Stephen back to her side, where he belongs. There’s too much at stake – her love, her work, her family.

But on the idyllic Amalfi Coast, Stephen goes swimming and doesn’t come back.

In a swirling daze of panic and fear, Rebecca is dealt with fresh allegations. And with time against her, she must uncover the dark secrets that stand between her and Stephen, and the deceit that has chased her halfway around the world.

My Take:

Rebecca Wilding is having a tough time at Coast University, particularly with the Dean of the Arts faculty, Professor Priscilla Chiton, who seems determined to make her life hell. Priscilla used to be a friend, but now Rebecca suspects she is having an affair with her husband Stephen, Professor of Economics. Rebecca also suspects that Stephen may be dabbling on the stock market again.

Suddenly things start to go very wrong when accounting irregularities crop up and Rebecca is accused of siphoning university funds into her own accounts.

There were some heart stopping moments in this thriller, particularly when they are driving a red sports car up a narrow road on the Amalfi Coast.

Stephen's disappearance leads to Rebecca becoming a chief suspect for his possible murder, and she goes on the run from the police, attempting to track him down in Paris, where she thinks he is meeting up with Priscilla.

A good read: a debut novel from a female Australian author.

My rating: 4.4

About the author (publisher)

Ann Turner is an award-winning screenwriter and director, avid reader, and history lover. She is drawn to salt-sprayed coasts, luminous landscapes, and the people who inhabit them all over the world. She is a passionate gardener. Her films include the historical feature Celia starring Rebecca Smart—which Time Out listed as one of the fifty greatest directorial debuts of all time, Hammers Over The Anvil starring Russell Crowe and Charlotte Rampling, and the psychological thriller Irresistible starring Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill, and Emily Blunt. Ann has lectured in film at the Victorian College of the Arts. Returning to her first love, the written word, in her debut novel The Lost Swimmer Ann explores themes of love, trust and the dark side of relationships. She is currently working on her second novel, Out of the Ice, a mystery thriller set in Antarctica. Ann was born in Adelaide and lives in Victoria.

17 April 2015

Review: TRACKING NORTH, Kerry McGinnis

  • first published by Penguin Group Australia in 2013
  • ISBN 978-1-921901-47-8
  • Available for Kindle
  • 346 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Penguin Australia)

Kelly Roberts finds refuge in the rugged and remote cattle country of northern Australia, but when tragedy strikes she is forced to find a new life for herself and her children outside of Rainsford Station.

She retreats to the family's only asset – a freehold block of land owned jointly by her eccentric father-in-law, Quinn. In the valley at Evergreen Springs, Quinn hopes the fractured family might all come together to start over again.

Life in Queensland's far north is wildly unpredictable, with daily challenges and the wet season, in all its wild majesty, to survive. But when twelve-year-old Rob makes the gruesome discovery of a dead body in the valley, real peril comes far too close to home.

Tracking North is a beautiful family story about life in the stunning Gulf Country, one of the world's most unique and fascinating places.

My Take

First of all,  this is a book on the very edge of crime fiction, on the soft edge one might say. Certainly there is a crime, and a murder, and some violence, but essentially it is a story abut a way of life in Australia, in the Far North, and a family making its way in a world that is changing rapidly.

Kerry McGinnis has obviously drawn on first hand experience of living and working in remote Queensland, and I couldn't help wondering how a non-Australian reader would see the landscape and life style that she describes. Perhaps it will be an eye opener.

I did enjoy the book, inveterate crime fiction reader that I am, much more than I expected to, even the romance that won its way in the end. And, as the friend who recommended it to me said, there is mystery, there is the odd puzzle to be solved.

My rating: 4.3

About the author

Kerry McGinnis was born in Adelaide and at the age of twelve took up a life of droving with her father and four siblings. The family travelled extensively across the Northern Territory and Queensland before settling on a station in the Gulf Country. Kerry has worked as a shepherd, droving hand, gardener and stock-camp and station cook on the family property Bowthorn, north-west of Mt Isa. She is the author of two volumes of memoir, Pieces of Blue and Heart Country, and the bestselling novels The Waddi Tree, Wildhorse Creek and Mallee Sky. Kerry now lives in Bundaberg.

Poll results: making book lists

I launched this poll a fortnight ago, asking whether many people were like me, compulsive list makers.

You can see from the results that I am certainly not alone.
In their comments, masny of the blog followers confessed that while they made lists, they, like me, didn't always follow them.

The reasons for making lists were varied
  • books to participate in a specific meme
  • books to take to the library, to the bookshop, or to search for online
  • to track favourite authors and interesting new authors
  • books to acquire and books already read
  • "buy later" lists
  • books to bring variety into reading, to prevent falling into a "rut"

15 April 2015

Last chance to take the poll about making reading lists

I have had a poll running on my blog for nearly two weeks now about whether you make lists of books to look for.
It closes within 24 hours, so if you haven't taken it, hop in there now.

Look in the right hand margin.
There is also a link where you can leave a comment.

14 April 2015

Review: WINTER SIEGE, Ariana Franklin & Samantha Norman

  • first published in 2104 by Bantam Press
  • ISBN 978-0593-07061-1
  • 356 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A powerful historical novel by the late Ariana Franklin and her daughter Samantha Norman, The Siege Winter is a tour de force mystery and murder, adventure and intrigue, a battle for a crown, told by two courageous young women whose fates are intertwined in twelfth century England's devastating civil war.

1141. England is engulfed in war as King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, vie for the crown. In this dangerous world, not even Emma, an eleven-year-old peasant, is safe. A depraved monk obsessed with redheads kidnaps the ginger-haired girl from her village and leaves her for dead. When an archer for hire named Gwyl finds her, she has no memory of her previous life. Unable to abandon her, Gwyl takes the girl with him, dressing her as a boy, giving her a new name - Penda - and teaching her to use a bow. But Gwyn knows that the man who hurt Penda roams free, and that a scrap of evidence she possesses could be very valuable.

Gwyl and Penda make their way to Kenilworth [Kenniford], a small but strategically important fortress that belongs to fifteen-year-old Maud. Newly wedded to a boorish and much older husband after her father's death, the fierce and determined young chatelaine tempts fate and Stephen's murderous wrath when she gives shelter to the empress.

Aided by a garrison of mercenaries, including Gwyl and his odd red-headed apprentice, Maud will stave off Stephen's siege for a long, brutal winter that will bring a host of visitors to Kenilworth [Kenniford] - kings, soldiers . . . and a sinister monk with deadly business to finish.
My Take

After the synopsis above, there is not a lot left to tell you about the plot of this novel. To my mind it is much more a historical novel than a crime fiction one, although certainly it does have mysteries. It is set in a fascinating period of English history when the country is torn apart by civil war, King Stephen vs his cousin the Empress Matilda. And the portrayal of this period has a real feeling of authenticity to it. It was a brutal time when nobility seem to have swapped sides readily, once they could see which way the wind was blowing.

The structure of the novel is interesting: at Perton Abbey the abbot is dying.
He has something important to do. he has to record a tale of treachery and murder, also a story of courage and love, before he too twirls off life's tree; yet he is too ill, too weak to write it himself.

And so he is assigned a young scribe to write it for him.

Samantha Norman completed this novel in tribute to her mother Ariana Franklin who unfortunately died in 2011.

My rating: 4.5

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13 April 2015

Review: SLEEP TIGHT, Rachel Abbott

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2674 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0957652232
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • #3 in the DI Tom Douglas series

Synopsis (Amazon)

How far would you go to hold on to the people you love?

When Olivia Brookes calls the police to report that her husband and children are missing, she believes she will never see them again. She has reason to fear the worst; this isn’t the first tragedy that Olivia has experienced. Now, two years later, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Douglas is called in to investigate this family again, but this time it’s Olivia who has disappeared. All the evidence suggests that she was here, in the family home, that morning.

But her car is in the garage, and her purse is in her handbag – on the kitchen table. The police want to issue an appeal, but for some reason every single picture of this family has been removed from albums, from phones, from computers.

And then they find the blood…

Has the past caught up with Olivia?

Sleep Tight – if you can. You never know who’s watching.

My take

Rachel Abbott is one of my finds for this year - I have read all 3 in the DI Tom Douglas series. I thought that perhaps this one was marginally not quite as good as the earlier two, but it is still a page turner, and there is a little twist right at the end. There are little puzzles for the police to solve all the way through, and that keeps you reading.

Olivia Brookes' husband Robert needs to control every part of her life. He has been there whenever she needs him - when her lover disappears, when she needs to sell her house, when her parents die, when she becomes depressed, and when he best friend appears to desert her. But it takes Olivia a long time to begin to connect the dots. And then she realises the knife edge she and her children are living on.

My reason for saying this title is not quite as good as the earlier ones lies in the way bits of the plot strain the bounds of credibility. The structure is interesting: mainly a tale told from two points of view: Olivia's and Tom Douglas's, but occasionally we segway into Robert Brookes' mind as well.

Definitely worth adding to your list for this year.

My rating: 4.6

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