Friday, 29 April 2016

Desperate Bookworm

The Girl In The Spider's Web (continuing Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series) by David Lagercrantz

Paperback:  The girl with the dragon tattoo is back.  Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have not been in touch for some time.

Blomkvist is contacted by renowned scientist Professor Balder.  Fearing for his life, but more concerned for his son's well-being, Balder wants to publish his story.  But more interesting to Blomkvist is Balder's connection with a certain female superhacker.

It seems that Lisbeth Salander, like Balder, is a target of a gang of ruthless cyber criminals which soon brings terror to the streets of Stockholm, to the Millennium team and to Blomkvist and Salander themselves.

About the author:  David Lagercrantz, acclaimed Swedish writer and crime journalist, studied philosophy and religion at university and subsequently graduated from the Gothenburg journalism school.  His first journalist job was at the in-house magazine of carmaker Volvo.  He later moved to the daily tabloid newspaper Expressen and worked until 1993 as a crime reporter, covering some of the major criminal cases of the late 80s and early 90s in Sweden, notably the Åmsele murders.  His first book was released in 1997, a biography of the Swedish adventurer and mountaineer Göran Kropp (1966 - 2002).  He is the author of Fall of Man in Wilmslow (2015), a novel inspired by the life and death of Alan Turing, and co-author of the bestselling autobiography I Am Zlatan Ibrahimović (2013).

David is a board member of Swedish PEN, an organisation that campaigns on behalf of persecuted writers all over the world.  He is also a supporter of The Reading Movement, a Swedish association that promotes reading and access to high-quality books for children as ways of improving their vocabulary and educational success.  David has three children and is married to Anne Lagercrantz, head of news and sports at Sveriges Television (SVT), Sweden's public service broadcaster.  He lives in the Södermalm neighbourhood of Stockholm.

In December 2013, David Lagercrantz signed a contract with the Swedish publishing house Norstedts and Moggliden AB, the company that oversees Stieg Larsson's literary estate, to write a new instalment in Larsson's Millennium crime fiction series featuring Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist.  David's book, The Girl in the Spider's Web (2015), is the fourth in the series.  It has been translated into 46 languages and was launched simultaneously in 27 countries in late August 2015.  David is to write two more novels in the Millennium series.  The novels are pencilled in for 2017 and, more tentatively, 2019, Swedish publisher Norstedts has announced.

More information can be read from David Lagercrantz's webpage.

About the translator:  George Goulding was born in Stockholm, educated in England and spent his legal career working for a London-based law firm.  Since his retirement in 2011, he has worked as a translator of Swedish fiction.

Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

A Blessing For Those Who Have Far To Travel

A Blessing for Those Who Have Far to Travel
If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.
Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.
There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;
to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.
There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.
Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel
to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.
—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

I'm Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

Hardback:  From a bold new voice in international crime fiction, a chilling debut in which two detectives must hunt down a vengeful killer and uncover the secret that ties each of them to the crime.

A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree with a jump rope around her neck.  She is dressed in strange doll's clothes.  Around her neck is an airline tag that says "I'm traveling alone."

A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger's first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Krüger to come back to the squad - she has been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past.  When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number "1" carved into the dead girl's fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning.  She will soon discover that six years earlier, an infant girl was abducted from a nearby maternity ward.  The baby was never found.  Could this new killer have something to do with the missing child, or with the reclusive Christian sect hidden in the nearby woods?

Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer.  But when Munch's own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer's sinister game is personal, and I'm Traveling Alone (2015) races to an explosive and shocking conclusion.

I'm Travelling Alone is the first book in the Holger Munch and Mia Krüger series and is translated from the Norwegian by Charlotte Barslund.  The second book - The Owl Always Hunts At Night - in the debut series will be out on 29 December 2016.

About the author:  Samuel Bjørk is the pen name of Norwegian novelist, playwright and singer/songwriter Frode Sander Øien.

Rating:  4/5

The Ex by Alafair Burke

Paperback:  In this breakout standalone thriller - The Ex (2016) - in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, William Landay and Paula Hawkins, a lawyer agrees to help an old boyfriend who has been accused of murder but begins to suspect that she is the one being manipulated.

Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene since the shooting of his wife by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago.  An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman who eerily but thrillingly echoes his past. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a "Missed Moment" item online and days later, a woman responds.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City's best criminal defense lawyers.  When she gets the phone call informing her that her former fiance, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence.  The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him - and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, and the hurt she caused him, but as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts.  The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

About the author:  Alafair Burke is the author of what the Sun-Sentinel has hailed as "two power house series" featuring NYPD Detective Ellie Hatcher and Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid.  Alafair's novels grow out of her love for writing, her experience as a prosecutor in America's police precincts and criminal courtrooms, and her ability to create strong, believable, and eminently likable female characters.  According to Entertainment Weekly, Alafair "is a terrific web spinner" who "knows when and how to drop clues to keep readers at her mercy."

A graduate of Stanford Law School and a former Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon, Alafair is now a Professor of Law at Hofstra Law School, where she teaches criminal law and procedure.  She is the daughter of the acclaimed crime writer James Lee Burke.

Alafair is often asked about the origin of her name, especially by readers who are familiar with the fictional character, Alafair Robicheaux, featured in her father's novels.  Alafair was named for her father's maternal grandmother.  It was a more common name in the United States, particularly the south, at the turn of the twentieth century.  Now it is a name that belongs to her, two of her cousins, and, from what she can find on Google, ten cats, two dogs, an alpaca, and a boat.

Rating:  3/5

Monday, 25 April 2016

Rainy Days

My Brilliant Friend (Book One of the Neapolitan Novels) by Elena Ferrante

Paperback:  From one of Italy's most acclaimed authors, comes this ravishing and generous-hearted novel about a friendship that lasts a lifetime.

The story of Elena and Lila begins in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighbourhood on the outskirts of Naples.

Growing up on these tough streets, the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else, as their friendship, beautifully and meticulously rendered, becomes a not always perfect shelter from hardship.

Ferrante has created a memorable portrait of two women, but My Brilliant Friend (2012) is also the story of a nation.

Through the lives of Elena and Lila, Ferrante gives her readers the story of a neighbourhood, a city, and a country undergoing momentous change.

Elena Ferrante is the author of three previous works of critically acclaimed fiction:  The Days of Abandonment, Troubling Love, and The Lost Daughter.  With this novel, the first in a tetralogy, she proves herself to be one of Italy's great storytellers.  She has given her readers a masterfully plotted page-turner, abundant and generous in its narrative details and characterizations, that is also a stylish work of literary fiction destined to delight her many fans and win new readers to her fiction.

About the author:  Elena Ferrante (a pseudonymous Italian novelist) was born in Naples.  Though one of Italy's most important and acclaimed contemporary authors, she has successfully shunned public attention and kept her whereabouts and her true identity concealed.  In 2012, Europa Editions began publication of English translations of Ferrante's "Neapolitan Novels", a series about two perceptive and intelligent girls from Naples who try to create lives for themselves within a violent and stultifying culture.  Critics have praised her for her "devastating power as a novelist" and for a style that is "pleasingly rigorous and sharply forthright."  Ferrante holds that "books, once they are written, have no need of their authors."

On 10 March 2016, The Story of the Lost Child was longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker International prize, celebrating the finest in global fiction translated to English.

Rating:  4/5

Monday, 18 April 2016

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson

Paperback:  Lisbeth Salander is a threat to national security.  Since she was thirteen, shady government forces have acted to keep her quiet.

Prone to violence, deemed mentally disturbed, she has had her freedom removed and her every movement watched.

Yet still, she is an unstoppable force for justice.  She is plotting her revenge against the man who tried to kill her and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.  But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign.

Salander has a bullet in her head and is under close supervision in intensive care.  She is wanted for murder and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release.  She knows that the secrets and corruption at the heart of her country's government go right to the top.  And she will not take it lying down.

With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence.  Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest (2009) is the third book in the phenomenal Millennium series.

About the author:  Karl Stig-Erland "Stieg" Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish journalist and writer.  He is best known for writing the "Millennium trilogy" of crime novels, which were published posthumously.  Larsson lived much of his life in Stockholm and worked there in the field of journalism and as an independent researcher of right-wing extremism.

He was the second best-selling author in the world for 2008, behind Khaled Hosseini.  The third novel in the Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, became the most sold book in the United States in 2010 according to Publishers Weekly.  By March 2015, his series had sold eighty million copies worldwide.

His family and Norstedts have instituted an annual award of 200.000 Swedish Krona in memory of him since 2009.  The prize is awarded to a person or organization working in Stieg Larsson's spirit.  The recipient in 2015 was Chinese Yang Jisheng for his notable work, Tombstone, which describes the consequences of the three years of the Great Chinese Famine.

Rating:  5/5

Thursday, 14 April 2016

National Bookmobile Day

Published on Apr 13, 2016
At eight years old, Storm Reyes was already working full time with other migrant farm workers in the fields outside Tacoma, Washington. One day, a bookmobile arrived and brought her new worlds—and hope.

Directed by: Julie Zammarchi
Executive Producers: Donna Galeno, Dave Isay, Lizzie Jacobs & Maya Millett
Producers: Rachel Hartman & Daniel Sitts
Audio Produced by: Michael Garofalo
Design: Connie Leung
Animation: Rebecca Raeder & Thomas Crew
Production Intern: Felix Lopez
Original Music: Joshua Abrams
Music Performed by: Joshua Abrams, Hamid Drake, Marquis Hill, Emmett Kelly & Adam Thornburg
Music Mixed by: Joshua Abrams & Neil Strauch
Special Thanks: Storm Reyes & Jeremy Hagquist

In Partnership with
American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress

Funding Provided by
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Ford Foundation
Category - Film & Animation
License - Standard YouTube License

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Bad: The True Story of The Perish Brothers and Australia's Biggest Ever Murder Investigation by Michael Duffy

Paperback:  And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?  Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

One body, seventy suspects, the worst crime boss you have never heard of and a strike force that would not give up.

When Terry Falconer's dismembered body turned up in the Hastings River in 2001, detective Gary Jubelin was asked to lead the investigation.  Falconer had been a violent criminal, a police informer and possibly a murderer.  The suspect list quickly grew up to 70 of the state's most hardened criminals, all of whom wanted him dead.

After a year Jubelin had a name.  Anthony Perish believed Falconer had carried out a contract killing on his grandparents back in 1993.  Perish was almost unknown to police, but as Jubelin and his team dug deeper, they discovered he was one of Australia's most successful drug manufacturers, with strong links to the Rebels bikie gang and a reputation for violence and professionalism.  Only the personal nature of his revenge murder of Falconer had brought him out of the shadows.

It took a decade to bring Anthony Perish and his brother Andrew to justice.  It is an amazing story of what police call serious 'badness', involving professional killers, protected witnesses, electronic surveillance, underground drug labs, secret hearings conducted by the New South Wales Crime Commission and over 180 000 recorded phone conversations.

Author Michael Duffy was given almost unprecedented access to police to write the story of what has been described as one of Australia's most difficult murder investigations - and its biggest.  The result is a chilling and forensic account of a secret Australian criminal empire that thrived in darkness for over twenty years, and a meticulous and enthralling chronicle of an extraordinary police investigation.

Bad (this edition:  2014) gives the true account of the events portrayed in the series Underbelly:  Badness but it is not the book of the series and has not been approved or endorsed by the producers or writers of Underbelly.

About the author:  Michael Duffy is a former court and crime reporter for several newspapers in Sydney Australia whose work led to the true crime books Call Me Cruel (2013) and Bad (2012), the story behind the television series Underbelly: Badness.

He now writes crime novels, the first two being The Tower (2009) and The Simple Death (2011).  Drawing on his work as a journalist and radio presenter, his novels embrace contemporary themes such as globalisation and voluntary euthanasia.

Drive By - about the war on drugs - was published in 2013.  It introduced part-Aboriginal detective Bec Ralston.

Bread: The Story of Greggs (Non-Fiction) by Ian Gregg

Paperback:  Bread has been an important part of our diet for thousands of years, but since 1945 consumption has decreased nationally by two thirds.

When Ian Gregg was just a boy he joined his father at work selling pies from his van to miners' wives around Newcastle.  Now retired, he can look back on a business that began as a husband-and-wife team in the 1930s, and survived a world war and two major recessions to become our favourite bakery, beloved by everyone from children to office workers to soldiers overseas.

Ian Gregg led the family firm as it grew, employing generations of families from around Newcastle and then becoming a public company with bakeries in Scotland and across the North, and now with shops on every high street.

Bread:  The Story of Greggs (2013) is a story of extraordinary success, but it is also a triumphant tale of how doing right by your people makes for great business.  Bucking every trend, Greggs have always put their customers, employees and local communities before quick profits for directors and shareholders.  Their astounding record of charitable works includes hardship grants, an environment fund, sponsorship of the North East Children's Cancer run and over £1 million raised annually for Children in Need.

Ian Gregg will donate all of his royalties and Greggs plc will donate all its profits from the sale of this book to the Greggs Foundation to help fund more Breakfast Clubs for children.

About the author:  Ian Gregg is a former Managing Director of Greggs the Bakers and the son of its founder.  Actively involved in the company until 2007, first on the shop floor and finally as Chairman, he was responsible for developing the business from a single shop in 1964 on Tyneside into a public company with several regional bakeries and hundreds of shops.  He established the Greggs Charitable Trust, focusing on relieving social deprivation, and has been actively involved in environmental conservation for many years.  He lives in Cumbria.

Monday, 4 April 2016

A Murder Without Motive: The Killing of Rebecca Ryle (True Crime) by Martin McKenzie-Murray

Paperback:  In 2004, the body of a young Perth woman was found on the grounds of a primary school.  Her name was Rebecca Ryle.  The killing would mystify investigators, lawyers, and psychologists - and profoundly rearrange the life of the victim's family.

It would also involve the author's family, because his brother knew the man charged with the murder.  For years, the two had circled each other suspiciously, in a world of violence, drugs, and rotten aspirations.

A Murder Without Motive (2016) is a police procedural, a mediation on suffering, and an exploration of how the different parts of the justice system make sense of the senseless.  It is also a unique memoir:  a mapping of the suburbs that the author grew up in, and a revelation of the dangerous underbelly of adolescent ennui.

About the author:  Martin McKenzie-Murray is The Saturday Paper's chief correspondent.  He is a former Canberra speechwriter, political columnist for the Age, and adviser to the chief commissioner of Victoria Police.

Definition: Sonder