Recommended reading and viewing
Do you need some reading inspiration?
Can't choose what to watch next?
Then go no further than our recommended titles.
The Dry by Jane Harper
Review by Tania
You won’t be able to let this book rest until you have found out who really killed the Hadler family.
The small Australian town of Kiewarra is in shock after a local farmer, Luke Hadler, goes on a horrific killing spree, shooting his wife and small son before turning the gun on himself.
Detective Aaron Falk returns to his hometown to attend the funeral as Hadler’s former best friend, but on the request of Luke’s father starts to look into the case. The evidence seems clear until Falk starts picking at some loose threads.
But if Luke Hadler didn’t kill his family, who did? In a small town in the midst of a drought that has left people worse than desperate, the list of possible suspects is growing by the day.
And it seems Detective Falk himself has something to hide…
A true mystery that will keep you reading; fast-paced, the plot is well-formed and suspenseful, perfect for the beach or bach on a hot summers day.
Calling Major Tom by David Barnett
Review by Tania
Thomas wasn’t supposed to go into space.
Unexpectedly thrown into intergalactic space travel, from which you will not return, may trouble some people, but not cranky, sociophobe Thomas Major, he’s happy to be far above the earth, a space oddity, happily alone with his one real love: music.
But then he dials a wrong number from his spaceship and is connected with a family that may just have lives a little harder than his own. The Ormerods, from Wigan, are Grandma Gladys, and James and Ellie, all with their own problems, especially since their Mum died and their Dad was sent to prison.
An unlikely alliance between the astronaut and the Ormerods is formed, but where it will lead is anyone’s guess.
Told in the now with flashbacks to Major Tom’s past this book will make you laugh, cry and listen to David Bowie.
Westworld, Season one, The maze
Review by Tania
Created by Johnathan Nolan, Based on the 1973 motion picture written and directed by Michael Crichton
Starring Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris
In Westworld, nothing is as it seems. This series is dark, violent, and eminently watchable.
In a bizarre genre mix-up, Westworld is a theme park set up to look and feel exactly like the wild west. The 'hosts' robots, artificial intelligence so advanced it's impossible to tell the difference between them and the 'guests', humans paying to spend time in the park having adventures, shooting people, and "falling in love".
Scenes jump between the old-fashioned, no-tech, idyllic park where most of the action is set outside to the highly technical, bleak, office building from where Westworld is managed, where most of the scenes are filmed inside.
Robert Ford (Sir Anthony Hopkins) created Westworld and the AI technology, while a team of builders, technicians, behavioural managers and coders are responsible for the successful management of the park.
But something is up with the hosts. Most of them play the same storyline over and over with guests being part of the story. They are programmed to forget their pasts if they die. But Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) has started remembering glimpses of the past. And hiding it form the coders.
And who is the mysterious and super-violent Man in Black (Ed Harris) and where is the deeper level of the game he's looking for?
With twist and turns and secrets memorable of series such as Lost and the X Files, luckily at the end of this series we are afforded some knowledge of what is really going on, I will be signing up to series two coming out next year.
Review by Tania
Starring Viggo Mortensen
The Cash family are like no other. They run uphill and do interval training before breakfast, they hunt and kill and grow all their own food and they celebrate Noam Chomsky day instead of Christmas.
Ben and Leslie chose to bring up their six children away form civilisation in the Washington wilderness. With no technology, training them to be physically fit and self-reliant, the children are true free thinkers.
But when Leslie develops severe post-natal depression that leads to a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder and hospitalisation, Ben is faced with bringing up the children alone. And when Lesley succumbs to her disease and commits suicide he has to face the 'real world' in the form of Lesley's traditional and very wealthy parents. What comes next is a trip to Leslie's very conventional funeral and the real world. The shock of the real world to the kids is apparent and the trip turns into a crisis of confidence for Ben when he comes to question his choices and parenting style.
This movie is wonderfully uplifting and unbearably sad. The acting of the children is superb, their intelligence at the same instance as their innocence is heart-aching. Viggo Mortensen embodies a character whose convictions are noble while his heart is full of love for his children. I challenge you to make it to the end with dry eyes.