Now I became aware of this book when it was mentioned in The Good Girls Guide to Getting Lost.
To be completely honest my interest in reading this book came from all of the controversy and conspiracy behind it – is it a true story or isn’t it?
The haunting story begins on Saint Valentines Day, February 14th 1900. A group of girls from the boarding school of Appleyard College, set out for a picnic at the famous Hanging Rock.
After the party has arrived and finished their lunch, the senior girls – Marion, Miranda and Irma – ask permission to go and explore the rock before heading home. It is at this point that different members of the group discover all of their watches have stopped at 12:00 midday. The girls are told that they may explore for an hour before everyone set off for home.
The school dunce Edith tags along with the girls and they set off on their journey. They struggle through bushland and jagged rock formations in their long petticoats and dresses in the hot summers sun, passing another group of picnickers on the way. Once they reach the famous rock the girls feel a strange sensation and all lie down for a nap in the sun.
The four girls wake and Edith, younger than the rest, tries to tell them she does not feel well. She receives no response and feels as if the girls are staring straight through her. She is then horrified as the girls drift away in a dream like state towards to rock-face without saying a word. Scared out of her mind Edith bolts down the rock and back to the party in hysterics and screaming.
The group soon discovers that one of their teachers has also vanished without a trace and after searching for hours they return panicked to Appleyard College to inform the headmistress Mrs. Appleyard.
Search parties are sent and scour the rock formation relentlessly for days to no avail and Edith has absolutely no memory to help with the investigation. The mystery goes on for over a week until one of the missing girls is recovered.
A miracle to have found someone alive after so long, everyone is hopeful that the mystery will now be solved – were the girls lured away? Murdered? Raped? However, once restored to full health, she too, has no memory of what happened.
Misery starts to spread to everyone involved and unfortunate accidents start to happened.
So is this a true story? What happened to the 2 other lovely young ladies who went exploring one summers afternoon? Will they ever be found?
Definitely give this book a read and decide for yourself what happened at Hanging Rock. Many different opinions have been shared by readers of this book and they are also worth having a look at if you enjoyed the book.
Years after the death of the author, the original 18th chapter of the book was released which is said to explain the secret of Hanging Rock and what really happened to the girls. Extremely hard to find and going for around $70 minimum, I am trying to get my hands on a copy. Update to follow….
Whilst brilliant, Memoirs of a Geisha is a sad and eerie story.
The story starts off with an introduction by fictional translator, Jakob Haarhuis, who has interviewed and written the story of elderly ex-geisha Nitta Sayuri.
Sayuri’s story begins when she is a small child known as Sakamoto Chiyo living with her older sister and her elderly father and mother, whose health is rapidly deteriorating. As the family is falling apart and her father realises death is not far away for himself or his wife, he sells his daughters to a Okiya in Gion.
As Sayuri, a beautiful young girl with startling light grey eyes (still known at this point as Chiyo), reaches her destination she realises her much plainer sister will not be coming with her to begin her training as a Geisha.
Here we are introduced to the stories main characters. A small girl around Sayuri’s age who earns the nickname Pumpkin, the 3 ladies who run the Okiya – the head lady, cross, angry and mean Granny, 2nd in charge money-obsessed Mother and the lower ranked Auntie, and the malicious and snake-like Hatsumomo, who is the most beautiful and one of the most popular Geisha’s around.
Hatsumomo takes an instant dislike to Sayuri due to her unique and lovely looks and does everything in her power to drag her down and destroy her up-coming career. After being blamed for theft and destroying of property that Hatsumomo was behind, Sayuri breaks house rules and sets off to find her sister to run away. This leads to an accident, some injury and the end of Sayuri’s training.
Threatened with spending her life as a maid and holding on to the hope that she will one day meet again a distinguished man that she met briefly in the street, she is determined that she will find away to convince Mother to let her resume her training.
Eventually she finds saving grace in Hatsumomo’s sworn enemy Mameha, who is determined to see Sayuri to success as the most popular Geisha and drive Hatsumomo out of Gion.
The whole story is filled with ups and downs and frustrating struggles for a girl who was forced in to this terrifying and lonely life. In a place where you are constantly earning debts against yourself, where one slip up could see you earning a living as a maid or prostitute and where a girls virginity is sold to the highest bidder, you find yourself rooting for the poor little lost girl from the poverty-stricken town. Most definitely worth a read.
It took me song long to put together my last post that I got through a new book in the mean time.
Wow – what a hidden gem I stumbled across here. Now me personally, I have been hit by the traveling bug very severely. Whilst I haven’t bitten the bullet and bought myself a ticket anywhere yet I cannot get my hands on enough travel literature.
I found this book after doing a random search of ‘top travel literature books’ and boy am I glad I did.
Even if you don’t have a massive travel desire like I do, you will still thoroughly enjoy this book. It may even put you on track to a slight obsession, similar to the one I have.
This true story leads us down the path of the writers journey as she discovers travel and a whole new life.
Rachel starts off as a responsible young woman fresh out of college and setting off on her ‘coming of age’ trip overseas to Ireland. She finds herself in this world so unfamiliar to her own, with her awkward big suitcase and fear of being alone in this strange and unknown place. Not one to go outside of her comfort zone this is a steep learning curve for her.
Eventually she finds a job and a shared apartment with some fellow travellers and starts to feel as if she belongs. This is where she meets Carly, a seemingly fearless and free-spirited Australian girl.
At the end of Rachel’s travels in Ireland she finds that she is not ready to go back and start life in the ‘real world’. The thought of further education, business suits and a full-time job make her uneasy and she wants something more. She remains in contact with Carley who casually suggests that Rachel comes to stay with her family in Australia.
Next thing we know Rachel is arriving in Sydney. She meets Carley’s family who is open and supportive, encouraging of their daughters seemingly endless travels. Once again this is a world that Rachel just can’t quite understand.
Slowly, as Carley downsizes her luggage and sends her off on her own to discover Australia, Rachel starts to feel a new person emerging. A sudden independence strikes her and for the first time she feels in charge of her own future.
Still not willing to settle down in to the conventional life her parent’s see in her future she makes a spur of the moment decision to travel to South America with Carley.
Setting off on her own before meeting up with her friend she starts to discover her self-dependence more and more. Eventually delaying meeting up with her travel companion. She meets more and more people along the way, and inspired by their stories she feels the travel bug pulling at her stronger and stronger.
When the two friends re-unite they embark on some unpredictable and scary adventures, meeting rough locals, traipsing through the jungle, cycling down ‘death road’ and sampling some bad local cuisine.
This is an amazing book that shows us how the smallest decision can lead to a life changing journey and teaches us that all it takes is a little exploring to unearth a whole new you. Definitely track this book down and give it a read.
Now obviously I haven’t read all 11 books in just over a week. I devoured books 1 – 10 in December (got to love when your work shuts down for the holidays) and I just snatched up and read the 11th this week.
Now I’ll admit that I am a sucker for anything by James Patterson. I will sit up all night to get through a book and find out the ending.
As a whole this is a really good series. James Patterson writes very captivating crime stories which are combined in these novels with the side story of 4 friends who are brought together through trying to solve the complicated cases.
You are kept on your toes as through the books we meet new characters and say goodbye to very prominent ones.
1st to Die – As it usually is in a collection of books the 1st is probably one of my favourites. We are introduced to our main characters and watch their friendships blossom. Lindsay Boxer – a cop, Claire Washburn – a medical examiner, Jill Bernhardt – an assistant D.A and Cindy Thomas – a crime reporter. As their paths interweave through their jobs, the girls bond becomes strong and they work together to solve some tough murder investigations, nicknamed the Womens Murder Club. I think the crime in the first book is one of the best of the series, it is complicated and the ending is a real twist and totally unexpected…
2nd Chance – In this book we are pulled in to what police first suspect is a vicious hate crime. The killer goes after children, elderly woman, members of the police force and one of the members of the Womens Murder Club. After a long pursuit of the man Lindsay believes to be behind it all, we discover last-minute the true identity of the killer…
3rd Degree – In the 3rd book we say goodbye to one of our main characters when she is murdered by a killer named August Spies who is targeting political figures. As the case is delved into deeper we learn that old family ties and cover ups connect her to the murderers motivation. We are also introduced to Lindsay’s new love interest Joe…
4th of July – Lindsay is forced to take a leave of absence after she is involved in a shoot out that leaves one teenager dead and her brother paralyzed for life. She takes time off and stays at her sisters house while she waits for her trial in which she is being sued by the parents for wrongful death which is where we meet the new member of the WMC Yuki Castellano. While she is taking time out she learns of some murders that resemble an unsolved case that she worked on when first joining the police force. We are introduced to some new characters and I had a suspicion early on in the piece who was responsible for the murders…
The 5th Horseman – When people start dyeing unexpectedly overnight in one of the top hospitals around suspicion starts to arise. When the police start investigating further they discover that all of the former patients were found dead with small coins covering their eyes. When Yuki’s mother is admitted to the hospital it is a big rush to find the person responsible. They discover cover-ups, pay wars and an extremely unlikely culprit…
The 6th Target – In this book we are pulled in to 3 separate cases. One attack at the beginning of the book leaves one of the WMC fighting for her life. The second case sees young child geniuses and their nannies being kidnapped off the streets and the third is a serious of violent crimes being made in Cindy’s apartment building. Being 1 member down the other 3 ladies push to bring all 3 suspects to justice. A bit too much going on in this one for my liking…
7th Heaven – In the first chapter of this book we are introduced to two maniacs that are tieing up rich couples in their homes and murdering them when they set ablaze to the houses. While Lindsay tries to solve this mystery, a second one is thrown at us when new information is discovered on a famous case of a well-known boy who vanished. Julie Moon, a known prostitute, is brought in for questioning after someone tells police they saw the boy entering her house. Yuki is thrown in to the spotlight as she tries to figure out if Julie is innocent or just a brilliant actress…
8th Confession – An old school but explodes in the street and a high society couple has been murdered – or have they? The police are desperately trying to discovered how the deaths of these people have occurred. In the meantime Cindy discovers the death of a homeless man on the street, which she is told straight out, will be a low priority. While more upper class people are mysteriously dyeing, Cindy’s case falls lower and lower down on the radar, but as she digs further in to the case she will find out that maybe this man was not as innocent as she thought he was…
The 9th Judgement – A man is approaching innocent mothers and their young children and murdering them as they are getting in to their cars. These savage attacks on babies and young infants strike strong with the WMC and they work long and hard to bring the murderer to justice. We are taken on a wild chase when the man leads Lindsay on a wild goose chase around the city. A big ending for this one when the man takes his own child as a hostage. Can they get him out alive…
10th Anniversary – Lindsay discovers that a teenage girl has shown up at a hospital covered in blood and undressed after giving birth to a baby. The girl claims to remember nothing and have no idea about the whereabouts of her baby which leads Lindsay on a long and frustrating case. While all this is going on Cindy’s lack of crime to reports sends her digging for something to report on. She discovers a string of women who have been drugged and raped after catching a taxi service home but this time Cindy may have dug too far…
11th Hour – I have to say I was surprised when this book came out. Everything was tied up so neatly at the end of the 10th book I assumed that was the end of the series. This book focused a lot more on the characters stories than the crime reporting. However, we are still thrown in to a big story when a decomposing head and a skull turn up in an old movie stars backyard. After sifting through the yard another numerous amounts of skulls are found, but where are the bodies? This book was not as strong as the earlier books in my opinion…
All in all this is a great series. The short chapters and gripping stories make for very quick reads. I would definitely recommend buying the set (search eBay, I found books 1-9 for $80 as a set) and getting stuck in to these…