Dunedin Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute

Books Archive

Month: October 2016

All of Us and Everything

By Bridget Asher

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 also on podcast

What if you learn something as an adult that makes you question your entire childhood?

This is the scenario the Rockwell sisters are face with.

Esme
Eldest child, control-freak, perfect wife and mother.  In fact, her husband has run off with his dentist and their teenage daughter is live-tweeting the entire mess to her 3,000 followers.

Liv
Middle child, fiance stealer, squatter.  Holed up in her ex-husband’s apartment with her acupuncturist and a bottle of whiskey.

Ru
Youngest child, writer, runaway.  Hopes to find inspiration for her second novel by studying the behaviour of elephants – and fleeing her fiance.

One-by-one the siblings return to the family home, where an even bigger drama unfolds.  A box of old letters is delivered to the house containing the answer to the mystery they have all lived with, until now: who was their father, and why the hell did he disappear?

The Flame Bearer

By Bernard Cornwell

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October also on podcast

From the day it was stolen from me I had dreamed of recapturing Bebbanburg…

Britian is in a state of uneasy peace.  Northumbria’s Viking rule and Mercia’s Saxons have agreed a truce.  And so England’s greatest warrior, Uhtred of Bebbanberg, at last has the chance to take back the home stolen from him so many years ago, now held by his scheming cousin.

But Uhtred has made many enemies, sworn many oaths that could distract him from his ambition.  And new threats arise as Constantin of Scotland seizes an opportunity for conquest and leads his armies south.  Britian’s precarious peace threatens to turn into a war of annihilation.

But Uhtred is determined that nothing will keep him from his birthright.  He is the lord of Bebbanburg and will muster the skills he has learned in a lifetime of war to make his dream come true.

Conclave

By Robert Harris

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 also on podcast

The Power of God.  The Ambition of Men.

The Pope is dead.

Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.

They are holy men.  But they have ambition.  And they have rivals.

Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.

The One Man

By Andrew Gross

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October also on podcast

Nathan Blum is about to risk his life for one man.  One man he’s never met.

Auschwitz, 1944.  Alfred Mendl’s days are numbered.  But he has little left to live for – his family were torn away from him, his life’s work burned in front of his eyes – until a glimmer of hope arises as he watches a game of chess.  To the guards Mendl is just another prisoner, but in fact he holds knowledge that only two people in the world possess.  The other is working hard for the Nazi war machine.

Four thousand miles away, in Washington DC, intelligence lieutenant Nathan Blum decodes messages from occupied Poland.  After the Nazis murdered his family, Nathan escaped the Krakow ghetto and is determined to support his new country – and the US government knows exactly how he can.  They want to send Nathan on a mission to rescue one man from a place no one can break in to – or out of.

Even if Nathan does make it in and finds him, can they escape the most heavily guarded place on earth?

Magpie Murders

By Anthony Horowitz

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October also on podcast

One for Sorrow, Two for Joy
Susan Ryeland is looking forward to reading bestselling crime author Alan Conway’s new manuscript.

Three for a Girl, Four for a Boy
However, his latest crime novel set in a sleepy English village, is not all that it may seem.

Five for Silver, Six for Gold
For within the tale hides another story.  Susan finds herself playing detective, as she wonders, is life imitating art?

Seven for a Mystery that needs to be Solved…
Editor Susan Ryeland has worked with bestselling crime writer Alan Conway for years.  Readers love his detective, Atticus Pund, a celebrated solver of crimes in the sleepy English villages of the 1950’s.

But Conway’s latest tale of murder at Pye Hall is not quite what it seems.  Yes, there are dead bodies and a host of intriguing suspects, but hidden in the pages of the manuscript lies another story: a tale written between the very words on the page, telling of real-life jealousy, greed, ruthless ambition and murder.

Small Great Things

By Jodi Picoult

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 also on podcast

‘If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.’  Martin Luther King Jr

‘I don’t want that nurse touching my baby.’  Those are the instructions from the newborn child’s parents.  However, when the baby goes into cardiac arrest, Ruth, a nurse of twenty years’ experience, sees no option but to assist.  But the baby dies.  And Ruth is charged with negligent homicide.

Ruth is shattered and bewildered as she tries to come to terms with her situation.  She finds different kinds of support from her sister, a fiery radical, and her teenage son, but it is to Kennedy McQuarrie, a white middle-class lawyer, to whom she entrusts her case, and her future.

As the two come to develop a truer understanding of each other’s lives, they begin to doubt the beliefs they each hold most dear.  For the provileged to prosper, they come to realise, others have to suffer.  Racism takes many forms and is reinforced by the structures of our society.

In gripping dramas like Nineteen Minutes, My Sister’s Keeper and The Pact, Jodi Picoult has explored the big issues of our time through characters whose lives resonate with us.  Here we see once again her unrivalled ability to immerse us in a story whose issues will linger with us long after the final page has been turned.

Holding

By Graham Norton

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 and also on podcast

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled.

Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel.  As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut.  Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

By Adam Rutherford

October 1, 2016

Reviewed on Wireless Books Otago Access Radio 105.4FM 29 October 2016 and also on podcast

This is a story about you.

It is unique to you, as it is to each of the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath.  But it is also our collective story, because in every on of our genomes we each carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and sex.

In this captivating global journey through the expanding landscape of genetics, Adam Rutherford reveals what our genes now tell us about history and what history tells us about our genes.  From Neanderthals to medieval kings, redheads to race, evolution to epigenetics, this is a demystifying and illuminating new portrait of who we are and how we came to be.

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