Alice Bliss is a fifteen year old with a mother she struggles to accept, a father she adores and a younger sister who pushes the boundaries. Her father grows vegetables for the family, repairs the house and is a member of the National Guard. Then he is called up and is shipped to Iraq and the family learns to handle his absence, even though he writes regularly and phones infrequently. Then they are advised that he is missing in action and Alice, her mother and sister have to cope with his loss. A beautifully written coming of age story, of love, loss and grief. I loved it.
Sometimes all I want to read is a knockout thriller. Just to sit and become engrossed in what’s happening and how is the mystery going to be resolved. Well, here’s another one I cant recommend highly enough – Mercy by Jussi Adler-Olsen. What happens when a young, goodlooking female politician disappears, probably over the side of a ferry. Carl Morck is the detective, traumatised by the death of one of his colleagues so has been sidelined to a new department dealing with shelved cases. And the disappearance of this woman is his first case. Is it murder, suicide or kidnapping? Although we know fairly early on she’s being held prisoner in a concrete room. The translation is very very good and as it’s over 400 pages, so it’s had me going all week. I dont want it to finish!
One of the difficulties of my day is getting home late and then getting a meal on the table in a reasonable period of time. I’ve found my pressure cooker invaluable and now I can add Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Easy to my pile of books I grab for quick inspiration. The only problem with curries is the time it takes to cook them (and sometimes the ingredients you have to assemble). This book is in response to Madhur’s own need to simplify her cooking, and I can say unashamedly that the book works brilliantly. Roger can verify this. If you like Indian food, not just curries, you’ll love this one.
We had a great night on thursday night for the launch of Michael Robotham’s new book, The Wreckage. There was a lot of talking, a lot of laughter, lots of great wine and thanks Minna, for organising the night. This new book is terrific, in fact I think its the best he’s written. His thrillers are always tight, clean, exciting stories. This one jumps between Baghdad and the missing tens of millions of dollars the US Government had put towards reconstruction, and London, where ex cop Vincent Ruiz falls for a scam involving his credit cards and a young woman. Great writing which makes a great evening reading. In other words, I couldn’t put it down. We have signed copies if you’d like one.
A couple of months ago I mentioned a book coming from a new Australian author – Favel Parrett. Favel spent part of her childhood in south east Tasmania and from that time has come Past the Shallows, a book that is brilliant – one of the best I’ve read in the last couple of years. The book is now out, and I want you to head for your nearest bookstore and grab a copy. It’s one of those rare books that made me cry! The story is set in Tasmania, where three boys have tried to survive the tough life without a mother and a father who abalone fishes when he’s not drunk. The oldest boy has left, the middle boy Miles tries to protect the youngest, Harry, but he’s spending increasing time on the boat with his father. And Harry hates water, and his father hates him. For a first novel it’s breathtaking. Read it, please!