Updating can be hard to do...

I have been reading and thus not updating and so it is time to catch up. The reviews are short as I kept wanting to go back to the reading. 

Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
 Paperback, 238 pages, Published March 29th 2005 by Ballantine Books

For 200 years Blackbird House has stood and watched as people have passed through it's doors. 
Each family has it's own tale to tell and you are moved through time. The first family that resides there suffers an awful tragedy at sea. As the waves overtake him a young boy releases his pet blackbird and the bird returns back to the house. Rather than being seen as a sign of hope the blackbird becomes the harbinger of bad news. 
Each of the stories are short, compelling and have you wanting to know more about these families. 
The linkages between families and time is deftly handled. You are seamlessly moved along and never wondering how did I get here.
Hoffman has beautiful lyrical style and you are carried along with the wonderful rhythm she creates. 

The Challenge of Things: Thinking Through Troubled Times 
by A.C. Grayling 
Kindle Edition, 321 pages, Published March 12th 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Grayling is not only a great thinker but makes you as a reader think. 
As a first time reader of his works, I was not sure what to expect. I had heard about him on a podcast and was suitably interested to make a purchase of this book. I found the reading challenging, in that I was confronted with ideas and thoughts not readily expressed elsewhere. There were times when I found myself easily agreeing with the arguments he presented and at other times questioning his views. 
It is the kind of book that you can not rush as you need time to spend picking over the themes and theories that are presented. As it is a really interesting collection of essays and articles that are very diverse in content. 

Leviathan  (Leviathan #1) 
by Scott Westerfeld, Keith Thompson (Illustrator) 
Hardcover, 440 pages, Published October 6th 2009 by Simon Pulse 

I have not read any of Scott Westerfield's books before but I was certainly aware of his Uglies series. Based on feedback about the series I was more than happy to give his new series a try. 
Set before the outbreak of WWI but in an alternate steam punk setting. Prince Alek finds himself without title and on the run after the assination of his parents. Deryn Sharp a commoner has longed to be an airman, the problem is she is the wrong sex! Not to be deterred she disguises herself and enlists. The two are thrown together in an adventure. 
There were many ellements of the novel I enjoyed. Westerfield has created a rich detailed steampunk world full of extraordinary machines and magnificent hybrid creatures. The alternate world is believable and uses enough 'real' history to give a great twist. 
This was a fun read, an easy read and enjoyable. 

Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church: The findings of
the investigation that inspired the major motion picture Spotlight 
by The Boston Globe 
Kindle Edition, 304 pages, Published February 4th 2016 by Profile Books

There should be a warning on this book about be prepared to be completely and utterly dumfounded by a large number of priests who over several decades abused children under their spiritual care. That the scale of the abuse is completely beyond imagination in both numbers of victims and crimes committed. 

This is not an easy read as you find on each page a new crime, a new victim, a new sexual predator and absolute and complete utter denial by the Church that there is a problem. 

There are no adjectives that can adequately describe he horror in this book. You have a complete failure to protect victims, complete failure to address the crimes committed, complete failure to prevent new crimes being committed and so it goes on detailing the systemic inaction of the Church leadership. 

I am staggered by the number of victims but heartened by the number of survivors who stood up to this insidious culture of denial.

The Best Australian Stories 2010 
by Cate Kennedy 
'There is little to match the pleasurable, exhilarating rush when we know we are in the hands of a writer with authority. Their power is like a kind of charisma – we allow ourselves to be willingly, absolutely persuaded.’ – Cate Kennedy

There is a real mixed bag of stories and there was a couple I enjoyed but nothing really stood out for me. That is okay as I have always found short stories to be a wonderful challenge as sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. 

I thought 'The Movie People' quirky, posing a great question and providing an interesting answer. The 'Little White Slip' was for me a stand out as I found myself engaged with the characters.

It has been awhile since I picked a book of short stories and I am glad I did. 

How the Marquis Got His Coat Back  (London Below, The World of Neverwhere) 
by Neil Gaiman 
Kindle Edition, 37 pages, Published October 27th 2015 by Headline

It is short, it is beautiful, you find out more about the Marquis de Carabas and you find yourself back in the world of Neverwhere. I love the world of Neverwhere, it is one of the most perfectly created worlds and that makes this short story perfect in so many ways. 
If ever there was a book that needed a sequel or another adventure set in the world, then Neverwhere is it. I continue to hope it will happen and this only raises the expectation it might happen.