We have three books for you this month because they were all great and it was impossible to choose just one. They are all vastly different!

Product Description
Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2009, this title is an international bestseller. At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own…The reverberations call into question the relationships between all those who witness it. At a suburban barbecue one afternoon, a man slaps an unruly 3-year-old boy. The boy is not his son. It is a single act of violence, but this one slap reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen. In his controversial, award-winning novel, Christos Tsiolkas presents an apparently harmless domestic incident as seen from eight very different perspectives. The result is an unflinching interrogation of our lives today; of the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century, a deeply thought-provoking novel about boundaries and their limits…

This book contains strong language and some really unlikeable characters so if you have problems reading books with “colourful” language and characters that at times you would like to “slap” yourself, and some men with truly appalling attitudes towards women, then this book might not be for you.  It’s a challenging read but I really enjoyed this book on a controversial subject – what happens when someone slaps someone else’s child at a backyard BBQ and the fallout from that event. I really enjoyed how the story unfolded and we heard from just about everyone who was at the BBQ that day.  I found myself switching sides repeatedly once you got to see inside the heads of the characters, liking them and then disliking them accordingly.

I am from Melbourne (but not that side) so this book I think captured that society perfectly whilst at the same time, managed to make me homesick!  I read some reviews saying that you need to understand the society to appreciate the book and that might explain some of the more negative reviews, but I don’t believe that to be the case.  I think the book travels well like a good bottle of Australian red.  If nothing else it’s a glimpse into a society that you may never experience personally and I find the subject matter very interesting as people have very different views on punishing children and it can be a very sticky subject.  I wonder how I would react to someone punishing mine even if they were behaving as badly as the child in this book. But I have come to the conclusion that the boy definitely needed a good slap and his mother a good shake or perhaps vice versa. Long after I had finished reading this book I found I was still thinking about the characters and the story and wondering if the author might revisit them some time in the future and see what they are up to.  I think that is a sign of a good book, that the story and the characters stay with you long after you have closed the book and put it back on the shelf.

I also found that I recognised myself or my friends in some parts of the book, and in particular things that have happened to us,  it was really quite strange and a bit unnerving.

I also saw an interview with the author talking about this book recently which was why I was interested in it in the first place and I can also recommend the audio book version read by Alex Dimitriades.  I’m giving the book an extra star for that, as it was brilliantly narrated and added an extra something to the story.

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren’t trusted not to steal the silver… There’s Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child and nursing the hurt caused by her own son’s tragic death; Minny, whose cooking is nearly as sassy as her tongue; and white Miss Skeeter, home from College, who wants to know why her beloved maid has disappeared. Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. No one would believe they’d be friends; fewer still would tolerate it. But as each woman finds the courage to cross boundaries, they come to depend and rely upon one another. Each is in a search of a truth. And together they have an extraordinary story to tell…

Finished this last night.  I have the paperback so at times I was reading along while the audio was on.  It was good.  The audio is very well done.  I did try to read this last year and couldn’t get into it so for anyone who has struggled, give it another try, it’s well worth it.  The only reservation I have is that this was written by a white southern woman and I do wonder how authentic that makes her black characters and whether she’s got them and the details of the situation correct.  At the back of the book there is a note from the author saying that “I don’t presume to think that I know what it really felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s.”  She seems to have based a lot of Aibileen, Minny and Constantine on her own maid Demetrie and Skeeter on herself.  I’m still wondering where she got all the stories from…

James Lee Burke’s eagerly awaited new novel finds Detective Dave Robicheaux back in New Iberia, Louisiana, and embroiled in the most harrowing and dangerous case of his career. Seven young women in neighboring Jefferson Davis Parish have been brutally murdered. While the crimes have all the telltale signs of a serial killer, the death of Bernadette Latiolais, a high school honor student, doesn’t fit: she is not the kind of hapless and marginalized victim psychopaths usually prey upon. Robicheaux and his best friend, Clete Purcel, confront Herman Stanga, a notorious pimp and crack dealer whom both men despise. When Stanga turns up dead shortly after a fierce beating by Purcel, in front of numerous witnesses, the case takes a nasty turn, and Clete’s career and life are hanging by threads over the abyss.

Adding to Robicheaux’s troubles is the matter of his daughter, Alafair, on leave from Stanford Law to put the finishing touches on her novel. Her literary pursuit has led her into the arms of Kermit Abelard, celebrated novelist and scion of a once prominent Louisiana family whose fortunes are slowly sinking into the corruption of Louisiana’s subculture. Abelard’s association with bestselling ex-convict author Robert Weingart, a man who uses and discards people like Kleenex, causes Robicheaux to fear that Alafair might be destroyed by the man she loves. As his daughter seems to drift away from him, he wonders if he has become a victim of his own paranoia. But as usual, Robicheaux’s instincts are proven correct and he finds himself dealing with a level of evil that is greater than any enemy he has confronted in the past.

Set against the backdrop of an Edenic paradise threatened by pernicious forces, James Lee Burke’s The Glass Rainbow is already being hailed as perhaps the best novel in the Robicheaux series.

Really loved this, just brilliant.  Reviews are saying it could be the best in the series, I might have to agree with them as it was really really good.  After 18 books in this series, they just keep getting better and better