A pick of some of the best recent reads:
NYPD RED 2, by James Patterson and Marshall Karp.
Best-selling crime writer James Patterson is back with a gripping follow-up to his New York thriller NYPD Red.
In NYPD Red 2 Detective Zach Jordan and his partner Kylie Macdonald are put on the track of a vigilante serial killer.
It begins with the discovery of a woman’s tortured body on a carousel in Central park. The pair face a rising body count as they try to find out what’s motivating the murderer’s rampage.
But in a deadly game, the elusive killer manages to stay one step ahead of them.
Patterson has already attracted a huge reader following with his Alex Cross, Women’s Murder Club and Michael Bennett novels.
It’s likely that this latest series will prove just as big a hit.
THE NEWS: A USER’S MANUAL, by Alain de Botton. Penguin Books
Why are we so glued to news about a missing Malaysia Airlines plane but so bored with budget shortfalls?
In his new book The News: A User’s Manual, English philosopher and writer Alain De Botton looks for an answer.
The reason we find some news so compelling but other news so dull, he says, is because facts, in the wrong hands, are boring.
He says real journalism is the art of shaping facts into something meaningful, that interests and enriches us.
The book analyses the kinds of news we like – about politics, world news, economics, celebrities, disasters and consumption.
He argues that news stories frighten, enrage and entertain us. But rarely do we consider how they can make us better people.
MAKING SOAPIES IN KABUL: HOT DAYS, CRAZY NIGHTS AND DANGEROUS LIAISONS IN A WAR ZONE, by Trudi-Ann Tierney. Allen and Unwin
There’s nothing new about people in Australian TV heading overseas, but producer and writer Trudi-Ann Tierney chose an unusual destination: Afghanistan.
In Making Soapies in Kabul, she describes the three and a half years she spent working for Afghanistan’s Moby Media Group.
Under the Taliban, TV had been banned for 10 years. Tierney had the task of raising production values, and went on to call the shots on soap operas, action dramas and even a mockumentary series about Afghan bureaucracy.
All this while wearing modest garb, dodging the censor, and desperately trying to find and keep actresses, in a land where that profession is viewed as akin to prostitution.
This portrait of a fledgling industry and a land in transition makes for a diverting and different read.
WILD THINGS, BY Brigid Delaney. HarperCollins
Journalist Brigid Delaney worked as a tutor at the University of Sydney’s St John’s College, which gained notoriety in 2012 for a drinking stunt that left a young female “fresher” in hospital.
Her new novel, Wild Things, is loosely based on those events.
But this work of fiction ventures further into sadism and sexual deviance.
Set in Australia, the fictional St Anton’s college of Wild Things bears a strong resemblance to St John’s.
The protagonists are the school’s `old boys’, part of a cricket team who inflict near-fatal abuse on a first-year Malaysian student, Alfred.
What follows is a pact of secrecy that eats away at friendships and haunts each person involved.
It all swirls inside the walls of a first-world institution ruled by wealth, anarchy and mob-rule.
BOB CARR’S DIARY OF A FOREIGN MINISTER, NewSouth Books
Bob Carr’s diary is excruciating: staggeringly self-serving even by the standards of political memoirs, dripping with ego and elitism, and full of bizarre dietary detours.
It’s also a must-read.
Carr took up his dream job in 2012 knowing full well that – with Labor hurtling towards electoral defeat – he’d only get to keep it for 18 months. So he was determined to “squeeze” the job “for all it’s worth”.
Diary of a Foreign Minister provides plenty of ammunition for critics who believe Carr was only ever in it for himself.
And yet for all the book’s faults, it’s a hard on to put down.
Partly because Carr is a very good writer. Direct, active language. Short, declarative sentences.
And partly because while it’s hard to like Carr, he is a fascinating figure. He’s colourful and eccentric unlike so many of our cardboard cut-out politicians, and his unabashed intellectualism is refreshing.
DISRUPTION, Jessica Shirvington. HarperCollins
Jessica Shirvington’s latest book is a sci-fi thriller with a heavy dose of romance.
It might sound like an odd combination, however the author of the Embrace series and wife of Olympian Matt Shirvington manages to make the story of her new novel, Disruption, work.
That’s if you’re a sucker for doomed love tales.
Set in a futuristic America where people’s compatibilities with one another are dictated by microchips and high-tech bracelets, Disruption follows rebellious teenager Maggie Stevens as she sets out on a dangerous mission to find her father.
There are some cringeworthy moments and soppiness, but the book is an easy read and also has an interesting action-packed sci-fi element to it.
YOU’RE STILL HOT TO ME, by Jean Kittson. Macmillan
When comedian Jean Kittson hit menopause, she was amazed at what she didn’t know. That got her wondering why menopause is so little discussed.
Kittson has put together an easy-to-read, informative book that will help women learn to recognise the symptoms, get medical attention and find ways to combine menopause with work, parenting and sex.