Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 books I wouldn't have noticed if not for Good Reading magazine

List by Tosca

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare."
- Kenko Yoshida

I spent the weekend and Monday sick with germs and I can say, hand on heart, that I make a terrible patient. I'm the sort of person who likes to be ill loudly and in full view of anyone else unlucky enough to be in the house with me at the time. I will park myself up on the sofa in pyjamas and with a blanket and generally wallow in my misery. An act which involves lots of sniffling and moaning about how hot my head is and how my throat hurts and that my eyes won't stop watering... The whole litany of ills. It's not much fun for anyone but I do like to milk the drama for all it's worth. One thing I've noticed, though, is that time stretches i-n-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-b-l-y long when you feel awful. And there's only so much daytime tv a person can take. Thankfully I had umpteen back issues of Good Reading to keep me sane. In a rare moment of pity I decided to hole up in my room to generally ooh and aah over each magazine and make notes about what I wanted to request. And here they are in this list of '5 books I wouldn't have noticed if not for Good Reading magazine.'

Query: Have you heard of Good Reading magazine? Do you request a lot of what they recommend? Did you know that you can access Good Reading via our Digital Library?

What is Good Reading? It's an Australian magazine about my favouritest topic in the world: books. They have book reviews, author profiles, book trivia, short stories, excerpts and more. If you're on the lookout for new and recently released titles I heartily recommend it!

Honourable mention:
  • Hunt for white gold by Mark Keating - described by Alan Gold as a "no-nonsense thriller written by a man who has sifted through volumes of research to recreate a time and place." Good Reading, May 2011, page 32
  • The diviner's tale by Bradford Morrow - described by Roze Abraham as a "combination of a family chronicle and a thrilling psychological mystery." (Good Reading, May 2011, page 32)

  • The cello suites : J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the search for a Baroque masterpiece / Eric Siblin
    Nonfiction. "Part biography, part music history, and part mystery, The Cello Suites weaves together three dramatic narratives: Bach's composition of the suites and the manuscript's subsequent disappearance in the eighteenth century; Pablo Casals's historic discovery of the music in Spain in the late nineteenth century, and his popularization of the suites several decades later; and Siblin's own infatuation with the suites at the dawn of the twenty-first century. His search to learn all he can about the music leads Siblin to Barcelona, where Pablo Casals, just thirteen and in possession of his first cello, roamed the back streets with his father, in search of sheet music. To their amazement, they found Bach's lost Cello Suites tucked in a dark corner. Casals would play the suites every day for twelve years before finally performing them in public--and making them his own. As Siblin pursues the mysteries that continue to haunt this music more than 250 years after its composer's death, he asks the questions that have stumped modern scholars: why did Bach compose the suites for the cello, which was considered a lowly instrument in his day? And what happened to the original manuscript of the suites, which vanished after being hastily copied by Bach's second wife? The Cello Suites is a journey of discovery, fueled by the transcendent power of a musical masterpiece--and of the listeners who, like Siblin, have loved it through the ages." -- Publisher's description.

    Tosca's comment: Good Reading magazine, February 2011. Recommended by Emma-Jane Murphy, musician from Selby and Friends. This issue also contains an interesting article on authors who made the leap from blog to book.

    A few right thinking men / Sulari Gentill
    General fiction. "Rowland Sinclair is an artist and a gentleman. In Australia's 1930s, the Sinclair name is respectable and influential, yet Rowland has a talent for scandal. Even with thousands of unemployed lining the streets, Rowland's sheltered world is one of exorbitant wealth, culture and impeccable tailoring. He relies on the Sinclair fortune to indulge his artistic passions and friens... a poet, a painter and a brazen sculptress. Mounting tensions fuelled by the Great Depression take Australia to the brink of revolution." -- Back cover.

    Tosca's comment: Good Reading magazine, April 2011, Great gift ideas for mum section.

    The woman he loved before / Dorothy Koomson
    "Libby has a nice life with a gorgeous husband and a big home by the sea. But over time she is becoming more unsure if Jack has ever loved her - and if he is over the death of Eve, his first wife. When fate intervenes in their relationship, Libby decides to find out all she can about the man she hastily married and the seemingly perfect Eve. Eventually Libby stumbles across some startling truths about Eve, and is soon unearthing more and more devastating family secrets. Frightened by what she finds and the damage it could cause, Libby starts to worry that she too will end up like the first woman Jack loved...Tense and moving, The Woman He Loved Before explores if the love you want is always the love you need - or deserve." -- Publisher description.

    Tosca's comment: Good Reading magazine, May 2011, Word of mouth section. Reviewed by Michele Perry who writes that Koomson's novel is "filled with lifelike characters, quandaries and heart-wrenching plights." The first time I read a Koomson novel I cried my eyes out. She's that kind of writer.

    Jamrach's menagerie / Carol Birch
    Historical fiction. 'I was born twice. First in wooden room that jutted out over the black water of the Thames, and then again eight years later in the Highway, when the tiger took me in his mouth and everything truly began.' 1857. Jaffy Brown is running along a street in London's East End when he comes face to face with an escaped circus animal. Plucked from the jaws of death by Mr Jamrach - explorer, entrepreneur and collector of the world's strangest creatures - the two strike up a friendship. Before he knows it, Jaffy finds himself on board a ship bound for the Dutch East Indies, on an unusual commission for Mr Jamrach. His journey - if he survives it - will push faith, love and friendship to their utmost limits. Brilliantly written and utterly spellbinding, Carol Birch's epic novel brings alive the smells, sights and flavours of the nineteenth century, from the docks of London to the storms of the Indian Ocean. This great salty historical adventure is a gripping exploration of our relationship to the natural world and the wildness it contains.

    Tosca's comment: Good Reading magazine, April 2011, Word of mouth. Reviewed by Wendy Waring who writes that this tale of "friendship and human survival goes well beyond the two historical events upon which it is based to give us an engrossing tale that plumbs the depths of faith, trust and survival."

    The heroes / Joe Abercrombie
    Fantasy. "They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls. The King of the Union, ever a jealous neighbour, is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and the armies are toiling through the northern mud. Thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, on a worthless hill, in an unimportant valley, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them. Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, has sworn to reclaim his stolen honour on the battlefield. Obsessed with redemption and addicted to violence, he's far past caring how much blood gets spilled in the attempt. Even if it's his own. Prince Calder isn't interested in honour, and still less in getting himself killed. All he wants is power, and he'll tell any lie, use any trick, and betray any friend to get it. Just as long as he doesn't have to fight for it himself. Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North, has gained nothing from a life of warfare but swollen knees and frayed nerves. He hardly even cares who wins any more, he just wants to do the right thing. But can he even tell what that is with the world burning down around him? Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts, or even the strongest arms that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes." -- Publisher description.

    Tosca's comment: Good Reading magazine, February 2011, Word of mouth, General fiction section. Reviewed by Leslie Lightfoot who writes "Tremendous battle scenes, multiple engaging storylines and intensely realised characters make this a raging read that will consume you for hours."

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