Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doggie day care murder

A Melanie Travis mystery (no. 15). Melanie is a mother, the wife of Sam, a schoolteacher, a lover of standard poodles and a solver of mysteries. Most of the books in the series revolve around events associated with the world of dogshows - breeders, handlers and judges - but in this book the setting is a day care centre for dogs. When Melanie and Alice visit the centre to check whether it is suitable for Alice's dog to attend, they discover that Steve, one of the owners has been murdered. Melanie investigates. The books in this series are laced with humour and are enjoyable to read, however the laws regarding using mobile phones when driving appear to be more relaxed in America than in Australia - kept wanting to say, "Stop the car to take the call".

The keys to the kingdom

A fantasy series - Mr Monday, Grim Tuesday, Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday and Lord Sunday - written for older children and teenagers by Garth Nix - introduces the reader to another realm, the House, plus a mystery involving the Architect, the Trustees, the seven Keys and the Will. Arthur Penhaligon, Suzy Blue, Leaf and a host of other extraordinary characters battle many forces of evil, enabling Arthur to collect the seven Keys and the seven pieces of the Will needed to save not only the world of the denizens but also Earth which is being invaded by evil forces from the House. An exciting series with many gripping adventures.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Not so eminent Victorians

A collection of ten essays about individual school teachers working in Victorian schools in the nineteenth century edited by R J W Selleck and Martin Sullivan. An essay by Selleck about the career of John Murphy vividly describes the life of teachers working in elementary schools. Murphy began as a pupil teacher when he was 13 and continued working and sitting for exams until he became a qualified teacher. Initially he worked at schools in the Stawell region. Moving to Melbourne to complete his training he became actively involved in teachers' associations, political debates about education and improvements required for teacher training. For two years from March 1889 he was head teacher at Box Hill State School. He died in January 1891 aged thirty-five from hepatitis and typhoid fever. The essay highlights the problems faced by teachers after the introduction of compulsory education in 1872, inadequacy of teacher training, over crowded schools and debates on corporal punishment. The collection of essays about ordinary teachers shows the challenges faced by teachers in nineteenth century Victoria.

The Double Comfort Safari Club

The 10th addition to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith returns us to Botswana to spend time with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi as they search for a Safari Camp guide to give him a legacy from an American tourist, a former visitor to the camp. They also investigate claims by a husband and wife that each partner is having a relationship outside the marriage. Mma Makutsi's has additional concerns as her husband-to-be has had an accident and she has to contend with his senior aunt who wants Mma Makutsi out of her nephew's life. An enjoyable few hours is spent revisiting the world of Mma Precious Ramotswe and her friends.

A truth universally acknowledged: 33 reasons why we cannot stop reading Jane Austen

Jane Austen would have to be one of my favourite authors. This collection of articles written by authors providing critiques on the importance of the work of Jane Austen in English literature is edited by Susannah Carson. Contributing authors include E M Forster, W Somerset Maugham, Kingsley Amis, J B Priestley, C S Lewis, Martin Amis, A S Byatt, Fay Weldon and Virginia Wolfe. Jane Austen only wrote six novels but her characters and her art of describing everyday life continues to fascinate readers. Jane Austen's novels are books that devotees do not read only once but read and enjoy many times. I think it is time that I revisited the novels and became immersed in the world of Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey again.