Archive | January, 2013

#13 Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

31 Jan
Scandalands - Kyle Sandilands

Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

Goodreads rating: 4 (37 ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: For those of you who aren’t from Australia, Kyle Sandilands is a ‘shock jock’ on the radio who most people despise and he often wins ‘biggest wanker of the year’ awards. I’m not a huge fan of Kyle’s but was interested in his life, so on the list it went!

First published: November 1st, 2012 by Pan Australia

Genre: Autobiography

If you don’t know who Kyle is, or any of the scandals that have littered his career, then there’s no point in reading this book.

However, if you hate Kyle, or love Kyle, I’d recommend it purely for the fact that it gives a little bit more information to the stories, and actually makes Kyle seem half human, rather than all monster.

It starts with his childhood in Brisbane, where by the age of 15 he was homeless and living under some boxes behind a store. I felt so sad for him, and if you consider that’s where he was 30 years ago, he has come an awfully long way to being a millionaire, successful radio personality.

We then get to read about all his various jobs in radio. Growing up he had 2 passions in life – the police force, and radio – and radio is the one he pursued. He goes through multiple jobs, gets fired and quits in multiple different ways, and loves every minute of it.

He gives away a few juicy secrets too. However, his ex-wife has tweeted “Wow … just read ‘Scandalands’ who knew I would take up half a book with stuff I didn’t even know about my own past life” (Source). This surprised me because he says how they’re still friends, however there are always two sides to the story.

Scandalands is not well written, does not use sophisticated language, and is a basic and easy read, but those are the exact reasons why I’d recommend this book as a light-hearted, quick read. Also, I personally love the fact that most autobiography’s have photos inside, and thankfully so does this book – it’s pretty interesting to see the ‘most hated man in radio’ as a youngster.

-H-

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Teaser Tuesday

29 Jan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: I’m currently reading the True Blood Omnibus, but I’m up to the third book in the series, Club Dead. I’m a huge fan of the TV show, unfortunately the books are nowhere near as good.

‘There were burn marks under the silver chains, which were draped all around him. I knew that silver caused unremitting agony to a vampire, and my Bill was suffering that now.

Club Dead - Charlaine Harris

Club Dead – Charlaine Harris

-H-

#12 Paint It Black – Janet Fitch

23 Jan
Paint it Black - Janet Fitch

Paint it Black – Janet Fitch

Goodreads rating: 3.4 (5,700+ ratings)

My rating: 3/10

Why it’s on the list: I’ve had this book for a few years, and i’ve started it about 3 times and have never got further than the first chapter, so finally decided i’ll finish it.

First published: September 18th, 2006 by Little, Brown & Co.

Genre: Modern Fiction

What a depressing book! By the end of it, I felt so down. Long, dragging story short – Josie Tyrrell is in love with a guy called Michael, and he kills himself by shooting himself in the head in a motel in the Californian desert. Of course, a terrible thing to happen, and Josie is obviously depressed.

That’s basically it… she and Michael’s famous pianist mum Meredith clash, and then become friends, and then fight, and are then friends. Josie does some drugs here and there, smokes a certain type of cigarette, wears some ratty clothes and does some acting. She eventually visits the motel where Michael killed himself… aaand that’s really about it.

Paint it Black was such a drag to get through, and it had promise. It’s written by the writer of White Oleander, which although I haven’t read the book, I have seen and enjoyed the movie. This story could have been great, but it wasn’t and I don’t recommend reading it

Fitch said in an Amazon.com blog “Paint It Black started as a gothic little short story, which became the emotional core of the book, like a secret windowless room at the heart of a haunted mansion. Then I built outwards from that room, into the outer life of the book, until I finally got the beginning, and then the ending, which is the doorway out, into the sun.” 

I really think it should’ve stayed a gothic little short story, rather than expanding it into a long-winded novel.

Oh and also, I don’t know if anyone else ever feels like a book isn’t set in the right city, but this one was set in LA and really should’ve been set in London.

-H-

#11 The Opal Desert – Di Morrissey

20 Jan
The Opal Desert - Di Morrissey

The Opal Desert – Di Morrissey

Goodreads rating: 3.58 (71 ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: I actually won this book from sending off a ‘Woman’s Day’ puzzle book entry. i won about 4 books I believe.

First published: November 1st, 2011 by Pan MacMillan Australia

Genre: Modern Fiction, Australiana, Drama

The Opal Desert is a fictional book surrounding 3 Australian women, in very different stages of life and areas of Australia. The book is separated into 3 sections, one for each women. It begins with Karen, a woman in her mid-40s whose famous sculptor husband dies suddenly, and who’s mother passes soon after. With older step children, and no children of her own, she is now lost as she spent most of her adult life devoted to her husbands work and reputation. A former art student, she decides to get away to the quiet outback of Australia and ends up at the mining community Opal Lake, where she meets the woman who is the focus of the second part of the book.

Shirley is almost 80, and lives a reclusive life in her childhood holiday home in the hills of Opal Lake. After being betrayed by her partner long ago, she has never found the motivation to leave her home. She inspires Karen to start painting again, and with Karen losing her mother, they develop a special bond.

The third woman is Anna, a professional runner from Adelaide who comes to Opal Lake to do some bar work while she figures out what she wants to do with her life. To be honest that is all you really get to know about her, because whilst there is a whole chapter meant to be about her, it ends up being more about Shirley and Karen. Anna seems to be a pretty obsolete character in this book, apart from the fact that she ends up revealing some personality traits of some other characters that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

When I opened this book, I was really apprehensive about reading it. The first paragraph is:

The desert. Red soil, white domed mullock heaps, a landscape scarred by acne eruptions of excavations, the excreta of miners’ enthusiasm and despair. Among the green smudged hillocks, dwellings were burrowed into the hillside. Other barely discernible buildings looked temporary. What was permanent was hidden below.

This made me cringe. It sounded like a book I would have been forced to read in high school, and it totally put me off. I’m glad I persevered though because the rest of the story is nice. It’s interesting, and relatable. However it’s no masterpiece. I enjoyed it because I’m from Australia and I liked reading about the landscape and the places, and when they were talking about Sydney (where I live) it was cool to be able to know the places they were talking about. But to be blunt, I wouldn’t have picked this book had I not won it, and I wouldn’t recommend people from other countries to read it.

I liked the characters and the setting, the story was easy to read, there was a little bit of mystery and wonder about what was going to happen, but nothing extraordinary.

-H-

#10 1984 – George Orwell

18 Jan
1984 - George Orwell

1984 – George Orwell

Goodreads rating: 4.05 (795,000+ ratings)

My rating: 8/10

First published: June 8th, 1948 by Secker and Warburg

Genre: Dystopian, Political Fiction

1984 was written in 1948, and was Orwell’s idea of what the future would be like in 1984. I’m not very knowledgable of politics or governments, so I probably won’t describe this book perfectly.

1984 is set in Oceania, where society is ruled and governed by ‘The Party’. ‘The Party’ controls everything, edits history, governs thought, and there is constant government surveillance and mind control of the people. Big Brother is the party leader, who may not even exist.

The book focuses on Winston Smith, who works for the Ministry of Truth and his job is to re-write past articles in the newspapers to reflect and support the current party stance. Winston secretly hates and wants to revolt against the party however the fact that all actions and conversations are constantly monitored, he doesn’t know if anyone else feels the same way.

Eventually, after a few interactions, he meets Julia, who feels the same way as him in regards to the party. They start meeting in secret, and fall in love. From here, they meet someone who they think is running a revolution, however, you can never be sure what’s true in Oceania.

loved this book. There were some dry parts that were a lot of text and read more like an essay, however the overall story was awesome. The thought of living in this world sounds terrible, however after I recently read Stasiland by Anna Funder, I realised that life in the German Democratic Republic from the 1960s – 1989 was a diluted form of the way of life in 1984.

I highly recommend this book, and it’s not overly long so despite some of the lengthier chapters, it’s a pretty quick read. It’s become a bit of a cult book, and a lot of the ideas and words have been often referenced since its publication.

Notable quotes

‘From where Winston stood it was just possible to read, picked out on its white face in elegant lettering, the three slogans of the Party:
WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY 
IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH’

‘People simply disappeared, always during the night. Your name was removed from the registers, every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, and your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.’

‘Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.’

In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. 

 Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious. 

“If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

Chastity was as deep ingrained in them as Party loyalty. By careful early conditioning, by games and cold water, by the rubbish that was dinned into them at school and in the Spies and the Youth League, by lectures, parades, songs, slogans, and martial music, the natural feeling had been driven out of them.

“Big Brother is Watching You.” 

-H-

Teaser Tuesday

8 Jan

Today is 42degrees celsius in Sydney, one of the hottest days on record! It’s crazy!

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Should Be Reading.

Rules
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Teaser

Book: Stasiland by Anna Funder
Page: I’m currently up to page 37. My spoiler is from page 157.

‘You have to understand,’ he says, ‘in the context of my father, and of the propaganda of the Cold War – the GDR was like a religion. It was something I was brought up to believe in…’

Stasiland - Anna Funder

Stasiland – Anna Funder

#9 Freakonomics – Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner

5 Jan

I don’t have a photo of the book I read, however this is the same edition. 

Freakonomics - Front Cover

Freakonomics – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 3.8 (233,900+ ratings)

My rating: 8/10

Why it’s on the list: My boyfriend was reading it whilst we were holidaying in Mexico & Hawaii, and I ran out of books to read, so read it after him.

First published: April 12th, 2005 by William Morrow

Genre: Non-fiction

Freakonomics is awesome. It’s basically the love child of pop culture & economics, written by a New York Times journalist, and an economist. I hated economics in university, didn’t understand it, didn’t like it one bit, and only passed by 1 mark. Freakonomics makes economics actually interesting. It is a book which applies economic theories and practices to questions such as ‘What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?’ and ‘If drug dealers earn so much money, why do they still live with their mothers?’. 

You’ll find yourself interested, and curious, about the answers to questions you never knew existed, which is why I loved this book so much. I gave it 8/10 because as much as I enjoyed it, I felt like you had to just take it on face value, and although there were lots of references to different studies, it obviously doesn’t really disprove opposite opinions.

Bits & pieces

  • By 2009, Freakonomics had sold over 4 million copies worldwide. [Source]
  • Peaked at #2 among non-fiction on the New York Times best seller list

-H-

#8 Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

3 Jan

The Southern Vampire Mysteries – Book 1 of 13

Dead Until Dark - Charlaine Harris

Dead Until Dark – Charlaine Harris

Goodreads rating: 3.95 (212,100+ ratings)

My rating: 7/10

Why it’s on the list: I’m a huge fan of the True Blood TV Series, which is based on this book series, so I thought i’d read the books too.

First published: May 1st, 2001 by Ace Books

Genre: Mystery, Fantasy, Vampire (if that’s even a real genre!)

For those of you who’ve watched True BloodDead Until Dark is literally just Season 1 of True Blood.

If you haven’t seen True Blood (you totally should), this series is about Sookie Stackhouse, who lives in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. In the Dead Until Dark world, Vampires are trying to assimilate with humans, however there is still lots of negative stigma revolving around them. They are not treated equally, and in the South particularly, there is a lot of hate directed towards them.

A vampire named Bill moves into Bon Temps, as the vampire scene is kicking off, and Sookie and Bill become an item, which has got the whole town talking. What does a pretty, young, blonde girl like Sookie see in the ‘scary’ old vampire. Coincidentally, around the same time Bill moves into town, a whole spate of horrific murders are committed, leading to a mystery with a cool twist.

If you happen to have seen True Blood before reading this book, you will know everything that’s about to happen, and the series practically mirrors the book to a T. If i’d read the book first, i’d be happy with that, but watching the show first makes it a (obviously) predictable read.

I still recommend it, especially so that you can continue reading the rest of The Southern Vampire Mysteries. 

-H-

WWW Wednesday & Happy New Year!

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

I haven’t done a review in a while, mainly due to xmas/NY celebrations, but also because I got a new kitten and he’s too adorable so i’ve been lazy with this.

I’m about to write a review, but for now, here’s this weeks WWW Wednesday, which is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Should be Reading. 

TO PLAY ALONG, JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING THREE (3) QUESTIONS:

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Yesterday I started Scandalands by Kyle Sandilands. For those not from Australia, he’s a controversial Radio host in Australia, who has been voted most hated man for years. He was homeless at 15, and has led an interesting life so i’m reading his book. Only a few chapters in, and while his writing style is terrible, I’m enjoying the content.

Scandalands - Kyle Sandilands

Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

What did you recently finish reading? 

The last book I finished was Paint it Black by Janet FitchShe’s the same author who wrote White Oleander. I will review this book soon.

Paint It Black - Janet Fitch

Paint It Black – Janet Fitch

What do you think you’ll read next?

The next to be read will be The Secret Ingredient by Dianne Blacklock. I have no idea what it’s about, but I got it for christmas 2011 or 2010 and haven’t read it yet!

The Secret Ingredient - Dianne Blacklock

The Secret Ingredient – Dianne Blacklock

Would love to read some other WWW Wednesdays, so please share!

-H-

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