Friday, 18 August 2017

The Secrets of My Life by Caitlyn Jenner

Hardback:  In this remarkable memoir - written with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Buzz Bissinger during her pivotal first years of rebirth - Caitlyn Jenner reflects on her past as she looks to her future.

"The juxtaposition of Bruce and Caitlyn is shocking even to me.  How could one become the other and the other become the one?  I know that Caitlyn was my gender at birth, waiting for the right moment to subsume Bruce.  Imagine defying your core and soul.  Then add to it he most impossible expectations that people have for you because you are the personification of The American Male Athlete."

Bruce Jenner, the celebrated Olympic icon and later the patriarch of one of the most famous families in the world, seemed to be living a dream life of success, fame, and prosperity.  But the all-American image and million-dollar smile belied a lifelong struggle with gender dysphoria, and it was not until the sensational Diane Sawyer interview that the public mask of Bruce Jenner was finally retired, and through the memorable Vanity Fair piece by Buzz Bissinger, that Caitlyn Jenner was introduced to the world and set free to exist on her own terms.  Since then, Caitlyn has undertaken an arduous emotional and physical odyssey to achieve the completeness she always felt was missing.

In The Secrets of My Life (2017), Caitlyn reflects on the inner conflict she experienced growing up in an era of rigidly defined gender identities, and the cruel irony of being hailed by an entire nation as the ultimate symbol of manhood.  She recounts her Olympic triumph, her rise to fame, and relates how her sense of frustration and shame grew with the passing years and the lengths to which she had to go to conceal her true self.  Caitlyn in turn uncovers the toll that these personal struggles had on her three marriages and, subsequently, the relationships with her children.  She also talks candidly about her life in the public eye as a member of the Kardashian clan, what led to her decision to become Caitlyn, and how she, her family, the transgender community, and the rest of the world has since embraced her new life.

Filled with incredibly personal and moving stories of struggle and victory, of anxiety and fear, and, finally, of surrender and acceptance, The Secrets of My Life reveals the real Caitlyn Jenner by tracing her long and eventful journey to becoming herself.

About the author:  Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, is an American television personality and retired Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

A Distant View of Everything (The Isabel Dalhousie Series) by Alexander McCall Smith

Hardback:  Recently distracted by the arrival of her and Jamie's second son, Magnus, Isabel Dalhousie - philanthropic editor of the Review of Applied Ethics - is anxious. The next issue of the Review is far from ready, her eldest, Charlie, is jealous, and their housekeeper, Grace, has an officious approach to childcare.  With some relief, Isabel returns to helping out at her niece Cat's delicatessen, where surely the most taxing duty is the preparation of sandwiches.

It is not long before Isabel's helpful, philosophical nature draws her into customers' problems, specifically that of ambitious, self-proclaimed matchmaker, Bea Shandon.  Bea has staged a potentially dangerous liaison involving enigmatic plastic surgeon, Tony MacUspaig, who may not be quite who he claims to be - and Isabel's help is required in getting to the truth of the matter.

Good-hearted Isabel proceeds with her usual thorough attention to task, and on Bea's advice talks to her friend Rob, a trustworthy regular on Bea's dinner party circuit, and known to have deep suspicions about MacUspaig.  It becomes clear, however, that Rob has an agenda of his own and Isabel is now contending with that, along with a mysterious medical condition of Jamie's and some frustrating dead ends when it comes to Bea's predicament.

When the truth finally reveals itself, Isabel must conclude that along with MacUspaig, Bea, Jamie - and even Cat - she herself is not immune to misunderstandings, or the neurotic fantasies that arise from keeping secrets.

A Distant View of Everything (2017) is the latest and eleventh book in the philosophical and much-loved Isabel Dalhousie series set in Edinburgh, Scotland.

About the author:  Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and most popular authors.  For many years, he was a professor of medical law, then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty-five million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into over forty-six languages and become bestsellers throughout the world.

These include the 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the von Igelfeld series and the Corduroy Mansions novels.  His novel, Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party, was winner of the 2015 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction.

Alexander McCall Smith is Professor Emeritus of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and holds honorary doctorates from thirteen universities.

Rating:  5/5

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Mountain Parks


Deadfall (Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper Series) by Linda Fairstein

Hardback:  Amid the concrete and skyscrapers of New York City, the Wildlife Conservation Society works to preserve and protect the animal kingdom.  But dangerous creatures do not always have claws and fangs, as Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper and NYPD detectives Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace know all too well.

Predators lurk close to home, and in the aftermath of the shocking drive-by murder of someone Alex has worked with for years, the trio must discover who the bigger snake is:  the killer of the victim.

Investigations into the death provide more questions than answers, as a tangled mess of secrets slowly comes to light.

From bribes to secret societies, from big-game hunting to the illegal animal trade, from New York City zoos to behind closed doors in government buildings, Alex will have her work cut out for her if she wants to uncover the truth and uphold the integrity of the office she has so proudly served.

Deadfall (2017) is the latest and nineteenth book in the Assistant DA Alexandra Cooper series set within New York City.

About the author:  Linda Fairstein (born 1947) is one of America's foremost legal experts on crimes of violence against women and children.  She served as head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's office from 1976 until 2002 and is the author of a series of novels featuring Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper.

Ms Fairstein is an honours graduate of Vassar College (1969) and the University of Virginia School of Law (1972).  She joined the Manhattan District Attorney's office in 1972 as an Assistant District Attorney.  She was promoted to the head of the sex crimes unit in 1976.  During her tenure, she prosecuted several highly publicised cases, including the "Preppy Murder" case against Robert Chambers in 1986.

Linda Fairstein left the District Attorney's office in 2002, and has continued to consult, write, lecture and serve as a sex crimes expert for a wide variety of print and television media outlets, including the major networks, CNN, MSNBC among others.  Ms Fairstein is often called to provide her opinion on high profile prosecutions including:  Michael Jackson's molestation charges in 2004, Kobe Bryant's sexual assault charges, and Scott Peterson's trial.  She is also a frequent speaker on issues surrounding domestic abuse.

Ms Fairstein lives in Manhattan and on Martha's Vineyard with her husband, Michael Goldberg.  Her novels draw on Ms Fairstein's legal expertise as well as her knowledge of and affection for the rich history of the city of New York.

Rating:  5/5

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell (Current Affairs) by Louise Milligan

Paperback:  This is in part a story of a notable Prince of Church, a staunch defender of Vatican authority.  It is also a heartbreaking tribute to the children abused within his circle, and both before and during his time of authority - knowledge of which he denies, as is his legal right.  But above all, Cardinal (2017) introduces new evidence indicating that as engrossing as this account may be, George Pell's career has not yet taken its final direction. - Tom Keneally, Australian novelist, playwright and essayist

George Pell is the most recognisable face of the Australian Catholic Church.  He was the Ballarat boy with the film-star looks who studied at Oxford and rose through the ranks to become the Vatican's indispensable 'Treasurer'.  As an outspoken defender of church orthodoxy, 'Big George's' ascendancy within the clergy was remarkable and seemingly unstoppable.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse has brought to light horrific stories about sexual abuse of the most vulnerable and provoked public anger at the extent of the cover-up.

George Pell has always portrayed himself as the first man in the Church to tackle the problem.  But questions about what the Cardinal knew, and when, have persisted.

The nation's most prominent Catholic is now the subject of a police investigation into allegations spanning decades that he too abused children.

A world-first report by an actual Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that 7 per cent of Australian priests working between 1950 and 2010 had sexual abuse complaints made against them to the Church.  That is far higher than the international figure of 2 per cent as the quantum of paedophile priests offered by Pope Francis to Italy's La Repubblica newspaper in 2014.  Of the complaints at that time, ground zero was the Archdiocese of Melbourne which Pell oversaw.  Between 1950 and 2010, 8.1 per cent of 859 priests were accused of sexual abuse.  While there were other dioceses where the percentage was higher, they were in places where the numbers of priests were far lower.  Melbourne had more paedophile priests than any other place in the country.  And most of them operated during Pell's time in Victoria as priest or bishop.

In 2009, the Vatican's representative in Geneva, Switzerland, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, was quoted as saying that the sexual abuse crisis in the United States and internationally was about homosexual priests preying on adolescent boys rather than paedophilia per se.  It was 'more correct', Tomasi said, to speak of ephebophilia, an attraction to adolescent males than paedophilia.

According to LifeSiteNews, a Canadian pro-life news site which focuses on religious, particularly Catholic, issues, Tomasi's views were 'backed up by a report commissioned by the US bishops that found in the overwhelmingly majority of cases the clergy involved were homosexuals, with 81 percent of victims being adolescent males'.  The implication of this report appeared to be that the problem was homosexuality, not clergy abuse.

Louise Milligan is the only Australian journalist who has been privy to the most intimate stories of complainants.  She pieces together a series of disturbing pictures of the Cardinal's knowledge and his actions, many of which are being told here for the first time.

Conspiracy or cover-up?

Cardinal uncovers uncomfortable truths about a culture of sexual entitlement, abuse of trust and how ambition can silence evil.

Melbourne University Press will withdraw Louise Milligan’s book about George Pell from Victorian bookshops (Australia) following the cardinal’s charges for multiple historical sexual offences.  Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell details allegations against Pell, but now he has been charged, the book may prejudice the case and be in contempt of court.

About the author:  Louise Milligan is an investigative reporter for ABC TV's 7.30 and Four Corners.  She has covered the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.  Her exclusive stories on the allegations against George Pell won her two Quill Awards from the Melbourne Press Club, including the Gold Quill for best story of the year, the highest honour in Victorian journalism.  Milligan is Irish-born and was raised a devout Catholic.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The Late Show (Introducing Detective Renée Ballard) by Michael Connelly

Hardback:  Crime never sleeps.

Los Angeles can be a dangerous city - never more so than in the dead of night.

Detective Renée Ballard, once one of the department's young hotshots, now works 'The Late Show', the graveyard shift at the LAPD.

It is a thankless job keeping strange hours in a twilight world of tragedy and violence, handing over her investigations as the sun rises, never getting closure.

Some nights are worse than others.  And tonight is the worst yet.  Two cases:  a brutal assault, and a multiple murder with no suspect.

Ballard knows it is always darkest before dawn.  But what she does not know is how deep her dual investigation will take her into the dark heart of the city, her department and her past.

The Late Show (2017) introduces Renee Ballard, a fierce young detective fighting to prove herself on the LAPD's toughest beat, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly.

The consistency of Connelly's writing is impressive!

About the author:  A former police reporter for the Los Angeles Times, Michael Connelly is the internationally bestselling author of the Harry Bosch thrillers.  The TV tie-in series - Bosch - is one of the most watched original series on Amazon Prime and is now in its third season.  He is also the author of several bestsellers, including the highly acclaimed legal thriller, The Lincoln Lawyer, which was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club in 200, and has been President of the Mystery Writers of America.  His books have been translated into thirty-nine languages and have won awards all over the world, including the Edgar and Anthony Awards.  He spends his time in California and Florida.

Rating:  5/5

That St Louis Poet

Ovid (20 March 43 BC - 17 AD), Roman Poet