Monday, 23 April 2018

book seventy-six: Hillbilly Elegy

Sunday 17 June 2018

Hillbilly Elegy is 'A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis' by JD Vance.  It tells his story of growing up a hillbilly and, against the odds, graduating from Yale Law School  Here is his TED Talk

We'll meet at Leigha & Steve's place.

Mari will bring the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):

Sunday, 22 April 2018

book seventy-five: Lincoln in the Bardo

Sunday 22 April 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, from Leigha's shortlist.

We met at Tim and Wendy's place.

We forgot to score - maybe that was because only half of us (Jim and Leigha) had read the book.  Better luck next time! 

Sunday, 4 February 2018

book seventy-four: Whipbird

Sunday 4 February 2018.

The next book is an Australian new release (published 31 July 2017) called Whip Bird, by Robert Drewe.

We'll meet at Monika's place.

Leigha will brought the short list.


Leigha 12 
Johanna 10 
Wendy 13  
Cherie 13 
Tim 11 

Mon 13 

Average: 12

Sunday, 8 October 2017

book seventy-three: Leviathan Wakes

Sunday 8 October 2017

Our next book is from Monika's sci-fi shortlist - Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey.  This is book one of the "Expanse" series, but Monika assures us we should be able to read it on its own.  

The series has been made into a TV series (it's on Netflix), if you're into that kind of thing.

We'll meet at Leigha & Steve's place.

Tim will bring the shortlist.

Monday, 24 July 2017

book seventy-two: The Orchard Keeper

Sunday 23 July 2017.

The Orchard Keeper, Cormac McCarthy's first novel.  

Maree hosted. 

Monika brought the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):

Leigha 10 didn't go anywhere but prose was well written 

Monika 3 put me off trying any of his other books. Interesting picture of time and place. Three points: one each for the prose, one for the picture of the time and place, and one for the dog.

Average: 6.5

Sunday, 7 May 2017

book seventy-one: The Gentleman

Sunday 7 May 2017

Our next book is The Gentleman, by Forrest Leo.  It appears Jeeves would approve.

Johanna hosted and brought the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):
Leigha: 12
Maree: 16
Monika: 17
James: ??
Mari:  ??
Johanna: ??

Average: 15.0

Sunday, 15 January 2017

book seventy: Gaudy Night

Sunday 12 March 2017

In a change of pace, we are going to back to the Golden Age of mystery novels with Gaudy Night, a 1935 mystery novel by Dorothy L. Sayers,  the tenth in her series about sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

We met at Jim and Mari's place. Jim brought the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):

Johanna - 9 Will keep reading it.
James - No score
Mari - 9 as well. Slow and a bit boring but I do think about the world she created.
Leigha - Will score once through more - you've all told me that it picks up!
Monika- 12 Found it slow going to start with. I did enjoy some of the discussions between the characters. Like how the world was described. How passionate the female scholars were and the description of the old English culture. Words were almost too eloquent and could have been more concise. Could have edited it though!
Wendy - 14 Enjoyed the world. Great discussions around role of women. Snapshot in time but the same conversations are still happening!

book sixty-nine: Nimona

Sunday 15 January 2017

The second graphic novel we read over Christmas was Nimona, a debut young adult graphic novel by Noelle Stevenson, based on her web comic.

Ratings (out of 17):
Jim: 12
Wendy: 14
Mari: 15
Leigha: 9
Tim: abstained (hadn't finished)

Average: 11.8

book sixty-eight: Habibi

Sunday 15 January 2017

The first of two graphic novels from Mari's shortlist that we did over the Christmas break, Habibi is an exquisitely illustrated epic by American Craig Thompson.  

We met at Tim and Wendy's place and Wendy did the shortlist for next time.

Ratings (out of 17):
Jim: 15
Wendy: 14
Mari: 15
Tim: 16
Leigha: 13

Average: 14.6

Sunday, 9 October 2016

book sixty-seven: Olive Kitteridge

Our last book for 2016 is the 2009 Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge by reformed lawyer Elizabeth Strout.

The short stories that make up this book were made into a television miniseries by HBO, available in Australia to stream on Presto or purchase on iTunes or you could go old-skool and get the DVDs.  The TV show won eight Emmy awards.  Of course, being a bookclub and not a TV club - read the book before you watch it!

We met at Monika's place.

Mari will bring the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):

Monica - 15 liked unconventional novel style, interlinking characters. Liked Olive, a bit different. Found interesting enough to go to another book of same author. Am finding more about Olive in second book.

Mari - 10 didn't dislike but didn't read enough to really like it. Too slow, didn't grab me. Too loosely woven.  Meet one character and then they're gone.

Terri 8 - that's it.

Maree 15 - really enjoyed it. I finished it.  I liked that it wasn't neatly pulled together and the characters made a lot of sense to me. Maybe a lot not likeable about Olive but it seemed true to life. Especially re mental health issues.

Leigha 14 - could recognise a lot in Olive from a close relative who is a retired teacher. Some characters didn't add value which bothered her a bit. Expected them to return, but they didn't. Quite enjoyed major characters.


Johanna 13 but being generous.  Easy and enjoyable but not life changing.  Ploughed through happily enough; did not offend.  Liked the small story format.  Interesting characters.

Average: 12.5

book sixty-six: Various Pets Alive and Dead

9 October 1016

We meet at Leigha & Steve's place.

Leigha brought the shortlist.


Tim, Mari and Marie - present but abstained because (as usual) they hadn't read much
Wendy 12 - hasn't finished but will because she wants to find out what happened 
Monika 11 - found it slow, some aspects not finished to her satisfaction.  
Jim 8 - didn't like it. The writing was flat and the story didn't go anywhere. 
Leigha 9 - disappointed, didn't meet expectations of hilarity. It was like bad Franzen
Johanna 9 - didn't hate it but didn't love it, but did finish it, which is saying something.  

Average: 9.8

Sunday, 7 August 2016

book sixty-five: The Signature of All Things

7 August 2016

The Signature of All Things by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert - the story of Alma, the heiress of the Blackmores of its day in early nineteenth century Philadelphia. Alma's a botanist.  She's into moss.

Gilbert spoke in the Sydney Opera House in 2013 and has given a TED Talk in March 2014 about life after Eat Pray Love.  The Signature of All Things is part of that life.

We met at Johanna's place.

Tim brought the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):
Jim - 8 It takes a long time to go nowhere
Tim - 11- not even half way through, was enjoying up to this point but the discussion at bookclub has me wondering whether to go on.
Leigha - 8 About two-thirds of the way thought, will finish it.  There seem to be too many characters who aren't developed.  
Johanna - 7 Feels robbed, finished the book - persisted hoping for resolution but didn't deliver.
Mari (postal vote) - 8 Read about 75%
Monika (postal vote) - 5, and that's being generous. Disliked the lack of plot, and thought it needs a good edit.  

Average: 7.8

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

book sixty-four: All the Light We Cannot See

Sunday 5 June 2016

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  The prizegivers love it.  The clamouring hoardes love it.  Australia loves it.  

But do we love it?

We met at Jim & Mari's new house.

Monika brought the shortlist.

Ratings (out of 17):

Tim 15 really enjoyed it 
Mari 10 I liked plot but can't work out what I didn't enjoy. Felt it was "Oscar bait". Didn't like the hook at the end of each chapter.
Angela 15 really enjoyed it. UnderstoodOscar bait comment but don't think it was. Didn't especially like the post-war chapters - could have finished without those.
Wendy 15 as well.  I enjoyed it ..
Terri 14 better than average close to pretty good, took a while to get started.
Monika 14 because found it hard to get engaged and irritated by shorter chapters. But enjoyed it and if there was a movie would go and see it. Perhaps he used the war as a platform.
Joanna abstained as hadn't finished.

Average: 13.8

Sunday, 14 February 2016

book sixty-three: The Circle

Sunday 17 April 2016

Our next book looks at a fictional California-based tech giant that knows everything about us.  Like that would ever happen.  It was written by Dave Eggers, who founded the quirky publisher, McSweeneys.

In keeping with the theme from Maree's shortlist, it is being made into a film that is set to come out this year, starring Hermione and that guy from Forrest Gump.

We met at Maree's place.

Wendy brought the shortlist.

Scores (and would you see the movie?):

Wendy: 15 made me think; Y
Tim: 12 liked it, maybe a little long; Y
Jim: 12 liked ideas but needs a bit of sparkle; Y
Leigha: 12 intrugued so far; Y
Maree: 13 enjoying, but a little clunky in parts; Y
Monika: 15 occasionally predictable, didn't like ending; not sure whether she'd see the movie 
Cherie: 10 lacked tension but was an interesting enough read; Y

Average: 12.7

Book sixty-two: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

14 February 2016

Our next book should be an easy Summer read... The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian is an illustrated 'young adult' book by Native American poet, writer, and filmmaker Sherman Alexie.  Though it might be a bit edgy... some US schools have banned it.

Maree brought the shortlist.

We met at Tim and Wendy's place.

Jim: 14
Mari: 14
Johanna: 15
Wendy: 15
Monika: 8
Maree: 13
Tim: 12

Average: 12.7

Sunday, 6 December 2015

book sixty-one: The Heart Goes Last

Sunday 6 December 2015

Our next book is Margaret Atwood's shiny new one, The Heart Goes Last.  

In a departure for Atwood, this novel is a feel-good rom com.  No, wait... sorry, it's yet another futuristic dystopia.

We met at the Powerhouse.

Mari brought the shortlist.

Wendy 14
Monika 15 
Jo 10 
James 12
Mari 11
Tim 13

Average: 12.5

Sunday, 11 October 2015

book sixty: Landscape of Farewell

Sunday 11 October 2015

Landscape of Farewell by KRudd fan Alex Miller was assigned to us by the lovely Maggie, who wanted to include our little bookclub in her research.  The book involves extended periods of not-much-happening, a massacre, then more not-much-happening.

We met and Leigha & Steve's place and welcomed new bookclubber Monika.


Maree: 14 really enjoyed it
Leigha: 13 parts were slow but overall really enjoyed it
Wendy: 12 slow start but beautifully written
Tim: 7 meh
Mari: 8 (being the sum of zero points for the first half and 8 points for the second half)
Jim: 12 really like second half
Johanna: 13 enjoyed it - there were enough 'wow' moments to compensate for the fluff
Monika: 12 liked the slow beginning


Sunday, 2 August 2015

book fifty-nine: The Magicians

Sunday 2 August 2015

From Jim's shortlist we selected The Magicians by Lev Grossman, an American author.  Our protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, goes to Hogwarts.  Or something like that, apparently.

We met at Maree's place.

Leigha - 11 struggled with superficiality of character development 
Maree - 11 felt it was not really going anywhere 
Mari - 8 very angry, not well written, but not fun to read
Jim - 11 implausible behaviour
Tim - 12 page turner 
Jo - 6 high hopes dashed
Wendy - 13 enjoying, intends to finish


Sunday, 31 May 2015

book fifty-eight: Daughter of Fortune

31 May 2015

Daughter of Fortune, by Isabel Allende, was originally published in Spanish.  The English translation was chosen for Oprah's bookclub, back when that was a thing.  That fact may or may not enthuse you.

We met at Tim and Wendy's place.

Jim brought the shortlist.

Leigha: 15 slow at first but picked up - really enjoyed it
Maree: 15 agreed with Leigha - the story really picked up once Eliza met Tao
Jim: 14
Mari: 15
Wendy: 14 liked the writing style
Tim: 15 enjoyed it despite himself

Average: 14.6

Monday, 2 February 2015

book fifty-seven: The Girl With All the Gifts

Sunday 15 March 2015

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey.  This book club has gone on for way too long with no zombie stories.  That stops now.  Slate says it's like Roald Dahl's Matilda but with zombies.  That's good enough for me.

Jim and Mari hosted at the Powerhouse.


Mari: 12 fun read, could have tried harder
Jim: 12 also thougt it was fun
Leigha: 14 really enjoyed especially as didn't expect to, love story angle unnecessary
Tim: 12 first zombie book
Wendy: 13 thoroughly enjoyed it, liked the world building 
Jo: 13 brought zombies to life

Average: 12.7

Sunday, 1 February 2015

book fifty-six: The Husband's Secret

1 February 2015.

Our next book is The Husband's Secret, by Australian author Liane Moriarty. 

We'll met at Leigha and Steve's place.

Tim brought the shortlist.


Cherie (Postal Vote): 16  I won't be there (of course!), but will have to weigh in with a score of 16/17, mostly because of the very satisfying way that everything came together in the end. I read this a few months ago, after finishing What Alice Forgot. 
Mari: 6  Pedestrian writing, cloying.  Frothy is ok as long as there's coffee underneath.  The problem with this book is that there isn't any.  It's a babycino.  There's not even any chocolate on top.
Jo: 11  It's not going to change my life but I really enjoyed reading it.
Leigha: 10  Finished it, was interested enough to want to see how it ended, but was disappointed that it was so twee.
James: 8  Didn't bother him as much as it did Mari, but it did feel a bit contrived and forced.  The ending reinforced this.  
Wendy: 14  Enjoyed it.  Accepts it is contrived and tied up too neatly at the end but thought the characters were believable.
Maree: 9
Tim: 14  

Average: 11.0

Sunday, 7 December 2014

book fifty-five: To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, by American author Joshua Ferris, was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, the first year US authors were eligible.  The New York Times hails it as "a high-water mark in the literature of dentistry, however limited that may be."
We met at Tim and Wendy's place, on 7 December.  Leigha brought the shortlist.

Maree 13 got me thinking about things
Leigha 9 doesn't like plot, not enough layers
Wendy 10 struggling half way through
Tim  9

Average: 10.5

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Book fifty-four: There But For The

 There But For The by Scottish author Ali Smith.

We hijacked Mari's birthday party at Cloudland on 19 October 2014.  Maree brought the shortlist.


Mari 7
Tim 10
Wendy 11?
Leigha 12
Maree  10
Jo 15
Jim 13

Average: 11.1

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Book fifty-three: Boy Snow Bird

26 July 2014

An intimate affair, this book club meeting, with only four attendees.  Two hadn't read the book, and one only half of it!  Luckily Mari sent her inimitable comments and scores in by postal vote.

The book was Boy, Snow, Bird, by Helen Oyeyemi.

We met at Maree's place.  Jim brought the shortlist.

Mari 11 

Jim 12
Leigha 14

Average: 12.3  

Sunday, 1 June 2014

book fifty-two: The Corrections

1 June 2014

Our next book is the award-winnign novel The Corrections by American author

Jonathan Franzen. which caused a decade long feud with between Franzen and Oprah.

We met at Leigha and Steve's place.

Leigha - 14 didn't like start but got a lot better
Tim 12 - agreed with Leigha
Jim 15 - one of the best books we've read

Mari 14 - liked the hallucinations, liked the way it got better as it went  

Saturday, 10 May 2014

book fifty-one: Her Fearful Symmetry

6 April 2014 at Tim & Wendy's place.   Jo brought the shortlist for the next book.

Her Fearful Symmetry is the second novel by Audrey Niffenegger, following her crowd-pleasing debut The Time Traveller's Wife.  Unfortunately it didn't go down so well with our crew.  

Most thought it was all a bit too far fetched (but then what do you expect with a story about ghosts? - Ed).  Apparently the twin story isn't original.  Both male characters, Robert and Jack, were thought very weak.  Didn't have enough information about Jack to know why he put up with all of this.  The group questioned why the girls' parents allowed the twins  to keep dressing the same way and being so close. It was felt that the parents should have put their foot down earlier; instead they set up the twins for the same break down in twin relationship with Edie and Elspeth.  

And last but not least... inconsistent ghost wold rules irritated our readers - the kitten ghost was able to get out of the flat but Elspeth couldn't.  Outrageous.


Mari 8 - just below half. It was too coy. High expectations and disappointed. Julia was happy to be a bum. Very unlikeable. Valentina at least had the excuse of being weak and needing sometime to sort out her issues.  The omniscient narrator point of view doesn't work. Too many people telling the story, but deliberately not sharing information. It would have been better to leave out Elspeth's narration and leave it as being subtle, for us to try to work out who was in which body. Treating the audience like they are stupid.
Leigha 11 Enjoyed the first two thirds and then felt it lost its way. Wonder what sort of headache the editor had. Prior to that I was drawn in. The love triangle aspect where one dead was intriguing.
Jo 6  Gagging cliches. There could have been a book just about Martin and Marieke.  I can say that it was easy to read fast.
James Everyone has talked me down to 8. I was going to give a 9.
Wendy 12  Worried about Tim getting to the tipping point. First two thirds was really good. Enjoyed a lot of the insights about how the different relationships work. Just didn't like the ending. Wanted a happier ending. Too hard to believe that Valentina would decide to end it rather than just have a conversation. Scoring it 12 because I enjoyed it more than anyone else.
Tim hadn't finished a the time of the book club, so sat out of the discussion.  In the rain.  by himself.  Not that he's bitter.  Finished the book afterwards and can see what everyone means about the story getting silly in the last bit.  Still, enjoyed it overall.  11

Sunday, 10 November 2013

book fifty: Midnight's Children

Sunday 9 February 2014

Our second book for the bumper Christmas season...

Midnight Children by Salmon Rushdie.  It has recently been made into a movie, if that helps.  Just don't take offence.

book forty-nine: In Cold Blood

Sunday 9 February 2014

Homework over the Christmas Break!  Two books instead of the usual one.

The first is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.  It's quoteworthy, it started a genre, but is it right?

We met at Tim & Wendy's place. Wendy brought the shortlist.

Jim 13
Mari 12
Leigha 15
Maree 14
Tim 16
Jo 12

book forty-eight: Three Crooked Kings

Sunday 10 November 2013

A new non-fiction book by Brisbane journalist and author Matthew Condon.  It is a story of corruption in Queensland from 50s to the 80s, focussing on Terry Lewis's career, including his rise to Commissioner of Police in Queensland before his downfall and imprisonment after the Fitzgerald Inquiry in the late 1980s.  

Companion piece:  Bonus points for bookclubbers who also watch the 1987 Four Corners episode, The Moonlight State, which aired the night before a judicial inquiry into all these shenanigans was announced.

We met at Maree's place and she also brought the shortlist based on her friend's bookshelf!

Wendy 11 - will finish it.  Average writing but interesting content 
Leigha 9 - high hopes. Not the explosive true story that it promised. 
Maree 15 - wrote really well given it was written in recent history and you cant embellish too much, because its dealing with people who are still living and their children. Looking forward to next book. 
Tim 6 - not explosive,  more of a damp squib.  Interesting subject matter, just told in a very boring and frustrating way. 
Mari 7 - turns out I only read 9%. I can't tell that he's interviewed people. He will introduce a character and then tell you what the character is doing in 10 years time. I am interested in the history but would prefer a Wikipedia page. Prose was poor. Badly written. 
Jim  8 for same reasons as everyone. Should have been more engaging. 
Jo  8- first few pages I thought I'd enjoy it but then it went on and on, in same journalistic style and it never went any deeper.  Very cautious. 

Average: 9.1