❝ Winter is on us once again, so to combat the chilly weather delve into the fantastic world of books! ❞
1b. Choose a book which has been on your TBR for a very long time – and finally get it READ!
2. Choose a New Release by an Aussie author which is published in June, July or August 2014
Greg Barron – Lethal Sky
A ship carries a deadly cargo that should never have seen the light of day … as an enemy is bent on a revenge that will lay waste to major cities across the world. Defending home soil for the first time, intelligence agent Marika Hartmann makes a life and death choice in the skies over Sydney. PJ Johnson has to choose between making a difference, or personal happiness. Microbiologist Dr Jan Sloven is the only man who can tell the world what is inside those stainless steel cylinders. Tom Mossel, head of the DRFS, wants desperately to avoid ending his career in disgrace and ignominy. Old sins come back to haunt them all in a last ditch fight against the dark side of society.
Expected publication: July 1st 2014 by HarperCollins Australia
3. Miles Franklin winner announced 26th June – read any one of the winners from previous years or wait until the 2014 winner is announced, and read it! OR Read a title authored by Miles Franklin herself!
Miles Franklin Literary Award (1996)
Christopher Koch – Highways to a War
“Pick any highway, I was told: all of them go to the war. I thought it was a joke, at first.”
Ray Barton travels to war-ravaged Southeast Asia to search for his missing friend Michael Langford, a brilliant, risk-taking combat photographer who has stolen into Khmer Rouge Cambodia on a mysterious mission and disappeared. The search illuminates Langford’s heroism, his fierce loyalties, and the personal highways he has traveled to war. Langford’s empathy for the brave but poorly commanded Cambodian troops and his love for a young Cambodian woman have led him in the end to put down the camera and take up the gun in a foreign struggle he has made his own.
Koch richly evokes Indochina–from the deceptively tranquil rice paddies of South Vietnam to the corrupt, doomed pink-and-white city of Phnom Penh. “Highways to a War” is a story of intense relationships forged in a dangerous and hallucinatory land continues to haunt the American soul.
4. It’s International Children’s Day on June 1st – choose a Young Adult book to read
Shelley Adina – Lady of Devices (Magnificent Devices #1)
London, 1889. Victoria is Queen. Charles Darwin’s son is Prime Minister. And steam is the power that runs the world.
At 17, Claire Trevelyan, daughter of Viscount St. Ives, was expected to do nothing more than pour an elegant cup of tea, sew a fine seam, and catch a rich husband. Unfortunately, Claire’s talents lie not in the ballroom, but in the chemistry lab, where things have a regrettable habit of blowing up. When her father gambles the estate on the combustion engine and loses, Claire finds herself down and out on the mean streets of London. But being a young woman of resources and intellect, she turns fortune on its head. It’s not long before a new leader rises in the underworld, known only as the Lady of Devices …
When she meets Andrew Malvern, a member of the Royal Society of Engineers, she realizes her talents may encompass more than the invention of explosive devices. They may help her realize her dreams and his … if they can both stay alive long enough to see that sometimes the closest friendships can trigger the greatest betrayals …
5. Real and Fake – (a) Read a Non-Fiction PLUS (b) a Fiction book (any choices)
5a.) David Miller – AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning. This is not merely a travel guide; it is a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man’s journey and the insights gained by abandoning what is comfortable and routine.
5b.) Benedict Jacka – Alex Verus series
Alex Verus is part of a world hidden in plain sight, running a magic shop in London. And while Alex’s own powers aren’t as showy as some mages, he does have the advantage of foreseeing the possible future–allowing him to pull off operations that have a million-to-one-chance of success.
1. Benedict Jacka – Fated (Alex Verus, #1) ★★★★
2. Benedict Jacka – Cursed (Alex Verus, #2) ★★★
3. Benedict Jacka – Taken (Alex Verus, #3) ★★★★
4. Benedict Jacka – Chosen (Alex Verus, #4) ★★★★
6. Choose a book which has a cover depicting Winter or has a Winter word in the title
Ian Tregillis – The Coldest War (The Milkweed Triptych, #2)
Someone is killing Britain’s warlocks.
Twenty-two years after the Second World War, a precarious balance of power maintains the peace between Great Britain and the USSR. For decades, the warlocks have been all that stand between the British Empire and the Soviet Union– a vast domain stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the shores of the English Channel. But now each death is another blow to Britain’s security.
Meanwhile, a brother and sister escape from a top-secret research facility deep behind the Iron Curtain. Once subjects of a twisted Nazi experiment to imbue ordinary humans with extraordinary abilities, then prisoners of war in the vast Soviet effort to reverse engineer the Nazi technology, they head for England.
Because that’s where former spy Raybould Marsh lives. And Gretel, the mad seer, has plans for him.
As Marsh is drawn back into the world of Milkweed, he discovers that Britain’s darkest acts didn’t end with the war. And as he strives to protect Queen and country, he’s forced to confront his own willingness to accept victory at any cost.
7. With National Tree Day on July 27th, BORROW a book from the library or a friend, or read an ebook – no purchases for this one! It MUST be an Aussie author as well:)
Turia Pitt – Everything to Live For
In September 2011, Turia Pitt, a beautiful 23-year-old mining engineer working her dream job in the far north of Western Australia, entered an ultra-marathon race that would change her life forever. Trapped by a fire in a gorge in the remote Kimberly region, Turia and five other competitors had nowhere to run. Turia escaped with catastrophic burns to 65 per cent of her body.
With too little unburned skin left for skin grafts, Turia was put in an induced coma in the Burns Unit at Sydney’s Concord Hospital while her body fought life-threatening infections and her surgeons imported skin from California. She lost the fingers on her right hand and her fingers on her left are partially fused together. She needed a new nose. There have been numerous operation, yet there are many more to come.
While the story of Turia’s survival involves many people – other race competitors, her rescuers, medical professionals – at its core is the strong will of Turia herself as she continues the long rehabilitation process with the loving support of her partner, Michael Hoskins, and that of their families in their New South Wales south coast hometown of Ulladulla, where the local community has rallied, raising funds to help with huge medical bills.
Everything to Live For is also a love story. Michael, Turia’s handsome teenage crush who became the love of her life, now cares for her as they plan a new life together; he is there to encourage Turia in her determination to move forward in an outwardly different body.
The real tragedy of this story is that it should never have happened – because the race should never have happened. The findings against the organisers of the event, Racing the Planet, in a far-reaching parliamentary inquiry by the Western Australian Government in 2012, were damning.
Despite facing a future with multiple challenges, Turia is optimistic. She is driving again and studying for her Master’s degree. She is walking in marathons and would one day like to run again. Above all, she wants her story to make a difference: her mission is to make skin a more prominent organ in the repertoire of donated organs.
It is a miracle Turia lived when she was expected to die. But Turia was not ready to die – she had too much to live for.
(Media: deadtree, borrowed )
8. Choose a favourite author, head to the Literature Map and pick the closest!
I entered Ben Aaronovitch (see below) and the closest authors are Michael David Lukas and Dd Barant (I was expecting Jim Butcher to be closer than he was in this map). Staying with the Urban-Fantasy / Urban-Paranormal theme;
D.D. Barant – Dying Bites (The Bloodhound Files #1)
Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…
Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…
D.D. Barant – Death Blows (The Bloodhound Files #2)
FBI profiler Jace Valchek was pulled into this parallel realm to hunt for Aristotle Stoker, a human serial killer who preys on vampires and werewolves. Now she works for the National Security Agency of the Unnatural States of America – and her boss is a vampire.
At a bizarre crime scene, Jace finds a bloodsucker murdered by magic, fried to the bone and dressed in the costume of the comic book hero the Flash – a character who isn’t supposed to exist here. Comic books have been outlawed for their powers, including crossover spells like the one that transported Jace to this world. Soon, she’s following a trail of dead bodies into the sinister underworld of black-market comics – where a deranged madman gives new meaning to the term “super-villain.”
Ok, I may just have finished of the entire series
9. Find a book written by an Aussie author showing a warm, summery cover – this will make you cozy!
Christos Tsiolkas – Barracuda
“He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.”
His whole life Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny’s win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys – he’s Barracuda, he’s the psycho, he’s everything they want to be but don’t have the guts to get there. He’s going to show them all.
“He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.”
A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.
Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?
Barracuda is about living in Australia right now, about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. It’s brutal and tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.
(Media: dead tree version)
10. Naughty and Nice – (a) Read a murder/suspense/thriller/mystery book PLUS (b) a
romance/chick lit/comedy book
10a.) Ben Aaronovitch – Rivers of London (Peter Grant #1)
Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior wants to tuck him awat in the Case Progression Unit. Then Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny.
Nightingale’s also a wizard–the last registered wizard in England. Suddenly Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddeses mingle with mortals, and ancient evils long thought laid to rest are making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.
(Media: Audio Book, eBook)
Ed O’Loughlin – Toploader **Winter Reading Challenge – 2015**
If Joseph Heller and Carl Hiaasen had a literary love child in occupied Gaza or Iraq’s Green Zone, it would be this insightful and darkly comic anti-war masterpiece. Spying inside the Embargoed Zone (aka the “Easy”) is expensive and hazardous, and the “terrorist” double agent known as Cobra needs his wages in cash. But his down-at-the-heels spymaster from the occupying forces can only pay with an American-made, top-loading washing machine. When it turns out that this piece of clothes-washing technology is critical to the occupation, a frantic scramble to retrieve the sensitive hardware ensues. Packed with unforgettable characters–including a resourceful local teenage girl, an intrepid reporter navigating the Easy, an egotistical blogger with delusions of relevance, a hapless drone pilot, and at least one very unfortunate donkey–Toploader is a savage and hilarious indictment of occupation diplomacy.
(Media: dead tree)
The total above is 12 books – but if you’d like to add more:
11. Lower the long suffering TBR
Ben Aaronovitch – Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant, #2)
” My name is Peter Grant, and I’m a Detective Constable in that might army for justice known as the Metropolitan Police (a.k.a. The Filth). I’m also a trainee wizard, the first such apprentice in fifty years. ”
Something violently supernatural had happened, something strong enough to leave an imprint on the corpse of part-time jazz saxophonist Cyrus Wilkinson as if he were a wax cylinder recording. He’s not the first musician to drop dead of a heart attack right after a gig, but no one was going to let me start examining corpses to check for supernatural similarities. Instead, it was back to old-fashioned police legwork. It didn’t take me long to realise there were monsters stalking Soho, creatures feeding off the gift that separates great musicians from those who can raise a decent tune. What they take is beauty. What they left behind is broken lives.
And as I hunted them, my investigation got tangled up in another story: a brilliant trumpet player, Richard ‘Lord’ Grant – my father – who managed to destroy his own career. Twice.
Policing: most of the time you’re doing it to maintain public order. Occasionally you’re doing it for justice. And, maybe once in a career, you’re doing it for revenge.
12. Lower the still long suffering TBR
Jim Butcher – Cold Days (The Dresden Files #14)
HARRY DRESDEN LIVES!!!
After being murdered by a mystery assailant, navigating his way through the realm between life and death, and being brought back to the mortal world, Harry realizes that maybe death wasn’t all that bad. Because he is no longer Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard.
He is now Harry Dresden, Winter Knight to Mab, the Queen of Air and Darkness. After Harry had no choice but to swear his fealty, Mab wasn’t about to let something as petty as death steal away the prize she had sought for so long. And now, her word is his command, no matter what she wants him to do, no matter where she wants him to go, and no matter who she wants him to kill.
Guess which Mab wants first?
Of course, it won’t be an ordinary, everyday assassination. Mab wants her newest minion to pull off the impossible: kill an immortal. No problem there, right? And to make matters worse, there exists a growing threat to an unfathomable source of magic that could land Harry in the sort of trouble that will make death look like a holiday.
Beset by enemies new and old, Harry must gather his friends and allies, prevent the annihilation of countless innocents, and find a way out of his eternal subservience before his newfound powers claim the only thing he has left to call his own…
(Media: Signed dead tree copy)
A 4.5 star read, I really enjoyed this one.
Jim Butcher – Skin Game (The Dresden Files #15)
Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….
Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.
He doesn’t know the half of it….
Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.
It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.
Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….
❝ I grunted. “She’s not a delicate princess,” I said. “She’s a warrior. Warriors have enemies. Sometimes warriors get hurt.” I felt my jaws clench. “And then their friends even things up.” ❞
— Jim Butcher
Skin Games (Dresden Files #15)