Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Reviews / October 2014

The Beach House is set in the small mythical beach side Queensland town of Sunset Point where nothing much happens.
And the locals just like it that way (which is pretty much the same where we live).
So when an outsider with grand plans to build a large resort which threatens to demolish an iconic local landmark, the beach house, battle lines are drawn (again, something similar is happening in our area).
Jessica is a young newspaper journalist who wants to make her mark by covering the resultant court case. However her editor boss wants a human interest story.
She finds five people and some associated lessor characters who have stayed at the house on vacation and writes about them.
Her research establishes that staying at the beach house has changed the lives of every one of those five although they are not connected in any way apart from interaction with the town's resident life guard. He is the link which binds all the stories together.
While the book is almost a collection of five short stories it turns out to be a well written novel with easy flowing prose which brings together a group of characters we probably all 'know' and can relate to.
And the result of the court case? You will have to read the book!
Highly recommended.
Dave Berg was Jay Leno's co producer for 18 years and has written "an insider's view of the Tonight Show".
Behind the Curtain reveals the most memorable hi jinks and celebrity diva moments from the show's history.
It also recounts things said on the show or behind the scenes causing some celebrities to boycott the show.
But more interesting is Jay himself and the way he is, the way he works and the way he interacts with others. Berg describes Leno as a hardworking boss who rarely took time off, who battled to overcome dyslexia, and only lived off income he earned as a stand-up comedian. There is even a chapter on his car collection

There is a little background on the Leno v Letterman 'war', the Helen Kushnick era plus a sober account of the ill-conceived decision to move Jay Leno to prime time, and to install Conan O’Brien as the host of The Tonight Show, only to have Leno return several months later.
A good read, well written, that I feel might just engender even more respect for the show's host.
When you fly a fair bit, it is always interesting to find out what goes on behind the scenes in the airline industry.
Confessions of a QANTAS Flight Attendant is a supposed exposé of the lives of the public face of Australia's national airline.
There are plenty of these types of 'flight attendant' books around.
While it was an interesting enough read, there were no real surprises about their day to day jobs in the air.
However an insight into the lives of staff during their rest periods in various overseas destinations was a bit of an eye opener. Five-star hotels, huge food allowances, daytime lazing around the pool and night-time tabletop dancing with Bollywood stars, anyone?

The author obviously had his problems with Qantas and his version of their treatment of him after an injury caused by a workplace training incident does not paint a pretty picture. But most Australians would not be surprised at this. The demise of the reputation of a once revered national icon continues to this day.
As Ian Woods, a former Qantas pilot and aviation analyst says in a recent article "it's only too clear that everyone has a different view of what's wrong with Qantas and how to fix it. "Qantas is at war with its workforce", "the unions are driven by bloody-minded self interest", "shareholders haven't had a dividend for five years", "the product is tired and old", "management gets paid far too much for the continuing failures on their watch" are some of the kinder things I've heard said in recent times."
Disclaimer: I haven't flown Qantas for at least 25 years.
Anyway, a light weight and fun read for those who have an interest in this subject
According to the pundits Outlander (or Cross Stitch) is a book of mixed genre ie. historical fiction, romance, mystery, adventure and science fiction/fantasy.
It is extremely popular and has been made into a TV series.
Claire, on her second honeymoon (the first was disrupted by World War II) in the Scottish Highlands with her husband in 1946 is 'transported' to the pre second Jacobite Rebellion era (the Forty-five) in the mid 1700s.
Despite the opportunity to return to the present, she decides to stay in the past having been captivated by the dashing Highlander, James.

Sorry, but I didn't like this book at all. Attaching a fairy tale to an important event in Scottish history which would change that country, and maybe the world, for ever, just didn't sit well with me.
But if you are into murder, domestic violence, rape, torture, sodomy and other assorted acts of violence, not to mention a face to face meeting with the Loch Ness monster (yes, really!), then this the book for you.
There are another seven books in this series.
I won't be reading them.

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