26 November 2014

Book Blast & Giveaway: How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love by Louis Efron

How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love - a journey to purpose, fulfilment and life happiness is a no fluff, highly effective, step-by-step guide to discovering your life’s purpose, finding a career you love, and living a life of intense fulfilment each and every day.

Do you love your job? Your current career? Your life? Or do you go to work feeling disengaged, uninspired or maybe even dreading the day?

In How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love, Efron reveals how to find purpose, fulfilment and more happiness in your career and life.

His distinct self-discovery process helps you create new excitement and vigour in your current job and career. If you're ready for change, he'll help you find new direction that brings you in alignment with your purpose and goals.

Through his proven process, you'll make job and career decisions for the right reasons, plus look at life options from uniquely different angles.

If you're feeling unfulfilled, uninspired, or disengaged in your job, career or life, or battling low self-confidence, this is definitely the book for you. Start your 30-day+ challenge today (included inside) and begin to proactively design the fulfilling, engaging life you desire and deserve.

To Enter: leave a comment below in answer to the following question: If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
Eligibility: international, open to readers from any country
Entries close: midnight Sunday 30 November, enter as many times as you like (must be a different answer each time)
Winner: the winner will be chosen based on entries received

Good luck!

About the Author
Louis Efron is a contributing writer for Forbes and Huffington Post, an award-winning Fortune 300 human resources executive, theatrical director, entrepreneur, charity leader and founder of The Voice of Purpose at LouisEfron.com

How to Find a Job, Career and Life You Love is Louis’ first book and he hopes to inspire people to find their purpose, become more fulfilled and make positive changes in their lives.
24 November 2014

Review: Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood by Halina Pasierbska

Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood by Halina Pasierbska book cover
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin *

After reading about a rich heiress who collected dolls and doll houses in Empty Mansions, it seems only fitting that I should read Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood by Halina Pasierbska so closely afterwards.

The V&A of the book title refers to the Victoria & Albert Museum, and the V&A Museum of Childhood is a branch of that museum, with both of them located in London. The author Halina Pasierbska was curator of Dolls' Houses and Toys there and in publishing this book is sharing years of knowledge and expertise in the magical world of dolls' houses.

There's something special about seeing the objects and furnishings of everyday life shrunken to a miniature size. The detail in replicating a couch, fireplace or cooking pot can be crude or detailed beyond belief, and they are all just begging to be played with.

History tells us dolls' houses were used as a teaching aid for servants and children of the household to learn how a house was to be organised and run, so that everyone knew their place and their role in the home. Dolls' houses from centuries ago capture life as it was at the time, and now serve as an historical snapshot into domestic life and the lifestyle of the occupants. 

Dolls' Houses from the V&A Museum of Childhood was written to compliment an exhibition at the museum and contains photographs and descriptions for some of the museum's oldest and most precious houses all the way up to the present day. My only complaint reading this book was that there weren't enough photographs for my liking. I really wanted more, and perhaps this interest would only be satiated by being present at the exhibit, but as a reader half a world away, I wanted to gain as much as I could from both the content and the colour photographs.

While many children will enjoy 'flicking through' this book, it will really appeal to mature readers, collectors, or wannabe collectors.

Highly recommended.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!

RRP $32.99
23 November 2014

Winner Announced: Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr

Thanks to everyone who entered my Empty Mansions giveaway, entries closed at midnight on Friday 21 November and it's time to draw the winner (drum roll):

Hols24 chose Melbourne as the best location for a luxury mansion. Here's her entry: 

Melbourne. Probably in Brighton near the beach. Then I could have huge luxury parties with French champagne and oyster stations and we could dance the night away in my grand ballroom. The views over the water would be breath taking and I would hire my mansion out for functions like weddings and other grand parties.

Congratulations Hols24, please email me with your postal address by midnight Friday 28th November and I'll send your prize to you right away; a brand new copy of Empty Mansions - The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr.

Thanks again to all those who entered and to Allen & Unwin for supplying the prize. 

I'll be running another book giveaway soon, so stay tuned and Carpe Librum!
19 November 2014

Review: A Vision of Fire (Book One of the Earthend Saga) by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin

* Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster for review * 

Renowned child psychologist Caitlin O'Hara is a single mum trying to juggle her job, her son, and a lacklustre love life. 

Her world is suddenly upturned when Maanik, the daughter of India's ambassador to the United Nations, starts having violent visions. Maanik's parents are sure that her fits have something to do with the recent assassination attempt on her father - a shooting that has escalated nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan to dangerous levels - but when children start having similar outbursts around the world, Caitlin begins to think that there's a stranger force at work. 

With Asia on the cusp of nuclear war, Caitlin must race across the globe and uncover the supernatural links between these seemingly unrelated cases in order to save her patient - and perhaps the world.

My Review
I've been a fan of actress Gillian Anderson for many many years, beginning with the epic TV Show The X-Files. I went on to enjoy her portrayal of Miss Havisham in BBC's Great Expectations her roles in Bleak House and The Crimson Petal and the White and she's simply brilliant in the TV show Hannibal as Hannibal's psychotherapist.

When I heard she was teaming up with author Jeff Rovin to write a sci-fi thriller called A Vision of Fire, I was really excited.

The book starts off with a very international feel, with one of the main characters being the daughter of the Ambassador to India currently engaged in peace talks. This wasn't really essential to the main plot but added depth and suspense later on. So did the fact that the protagonist Caitlin O'Hara has a deaf son, I really enjoyed his small role and their interactions together.

There's the discovery of an artefact, which for me was the most exciting part of the novel and I would have loved to read more about this set of characters.

The first half reads as a well-written thriller and it was hard not to see Gillian Anderson as the character Caitlin in the novel. She's smart and intelligent and great at her job. The second to last third of the novel is where things really move into the supernatural themes that made The X-Files so popular. It's not that Anderson and Rovin are using themes or ideas from the show - theirs is all new material - but the explanation for the fits and visions the young characters are having is pretty 'out there', and won't appeal to all readers. In fact the climactic scene almost reads as if it were a dream (I'd love to know which of the co-authors was the primary contributor here) and felt like the scene was transcribed from memory rather than created as fiction. Strange.

I'm pretty sure there's nothing out there at the moment (in the thriller genre anyway) quite like A Vision of Fire and it's exciting to see Gillian Anderson published as an author. The ending leaves room for a sequel and this novel is Book One of the Earthend Saga, so I guess I'll be staying tuned for the next one.

My rating = ***

Carpe Librum!
11 November 2014

Review & Giveaway of Empty Mansions - The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell Jr

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr book cover
* Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin for review *

Until I came across Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr, I had never heard of Huguette Clark and her story intrigued me right away.

With a fortune of almost $300 million dollars, this shy and reclusive American heiress spent the last twenty years of her life cooped up in a hospital room, despite being perfectly healthy.

An eccentric woman who gave $30 million dollars in gifts to her nurse and wrote cheques to others almost every day, Huguette had a love of cartoons and often watched The Smurfs and The Flintstones.

Huguette was a musician and painter at heart and owned many priceless artworks including paintings by Degas and Renoir. She also collected hundreds upon hundreds of dolls and dollhouses. Huguette owned several magnificent homes, although hadn't stayed in some of them for decades.

When Huguette Clark died at the age of 104, 19 family members tried to get their hands on her money. Paul Clark Newell Jr is a relative of Huguette and together with Bill Dedman bring us the details of this amazing woman and her life in Empty Mansions - The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune.

A fascinating read which had me diving for Wikipedia to see what her dolls or mansions looked like, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Empty Mansions. If my snippets above piqued your interest at all, you'll love this one too. See below for details on how to WIN your own copy.

My rating = *****

Carpe Librum!

Giveaway Details
To enter: to WIN your very own print copy of Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, valued at RRP $32.99, answer this question: if you could own a luxury mansion in any city in the world, where would it be? Leave your answer in a comment below to earn one entry.

Additional entries:
- Follow Carpe Librum on Google Friend Connect or subscribe by email for 3 additional entries (each)
- Follow @carpe_librum1 on Twitter for 2 additional entries
- Tweet this for 2 additional entries: I just entered to WIN a copy of #EmptyMansions by @BillDedman thanks to @carpe_librum1
- Share this article on Facebook for 1 additional entry
- 1 automatic additional entry for all existing Twitter, email and Google Friend Connect followers

Eligibility: only those with an Australian postal address are eligible to enter.

Closing date: entries close at midnight on Friday 21st November and the winner will be drawn using random.org and announced here. The winner will have 5 days to claim their prize or another winner will be drawn.

Good luck everyone!
09 November 2014

Top 5 Best Books Read In 2014

As the year is beginning to come to a close, I'd like to list the top five books I've read this year, in the hope it'll inspire others to discover them or give them as gifts for Christmas etc.

It wasn't hard to compile this list. First I looked at the all books I'd given 5 star ratings to, and from there looked for the ones I found myself telling others about.

Here's my Top 5 Books Read in 2014 listed chronologically, in the order they were read.

1. Eugenia, A True Story of Adversity, Tragedy, Crime and Courage by Mark Tedeschi QC
Eugenia, A True Story of Adversity, Tragedy, Crime and Courage by Mark Tedeschi QC book cover

In this true crime book, Australian author Mark Tedeschi, AM QC uses his extensive legal experience to take the reader through the life of Eugenia Falleni. Born a female in New Zealand in 1875, Eugenia decided to live her life as a man, dressing as a man and going by the name Eugene. In 1898, she moved to Newcastle and began her life here in Australia as a male.

Living under different names, Eugenia successfully married twice and lived every aspect of her life as a man, including conducting intimate relationships with women who had no idea of her true sexuality. In Sydney in 1920, Eugenia's life took a turn for the worse when she was charged with murdering her first wife, Annie Birkett.

I read Eugenia in April, and it's in my Top 5 list because I found myself talking about her case with others and her story really shook me.

2. Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes book cover

In May, I stayed awake reading until 5am, completely engrossed in the psychological thriller Into The Darkest Corner by ex Police Intelligence Analyst turned author, Elizabeth Haynes. The characters were compelling, the fear palpable and the suspense chilling. I was creeped out by the simplest of things (a button, a cutlery drawer) testament to just how far I was drawn into the story.

The plot was tightly crafted, the OCD angle fascinating and I really flew through the pages to find out what was going to happen.

I went on to have the pleasure of interviewing Elizabeth Haynes about her novels Into The Darkest Corner and Human Remains and it was great fun. You can read our interview here.

3. The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian by Andy Weir book cover

In June I read the funniest book of the year, The Martian by Andy Weir. The Martian is a science fiction novel about NASA astronaut Mark Watney, who finds himself deserted on Mars following a failed mission. His engineering and problem solving skills will make the difference between death or survival and Watney maintains a wicked sense of humour; evidenced in his online diary.

The Martian is laugh out loud funny and an absolute gem and I still remember his best jokes five months later. I'm always thrilled when I find out another friend is reading it and I keep recommending it widely.

4. The Farm by Tom Rob Smith
The Farm by Tom Rob Smith book cover

In July, the book I couldn't stop talking about was The Farm by Tom Rob Smith. With a brilliant opening scenario, (who would you believe, your mother or your father) the book was easy to talk about and I yelled out loud when the lead character decided which parent's version of events to trust.

Inspired by The Farm, I then went on to read Child 44 and to become the first Australian blogger to interview Tom Rob Smith here. Definitely one of the highlights of my year. Click here to find out for yourself.

5. The City by Dean Koontz
The City by Dean Koontz book cover

I've read at least 29 books by Dean Koontz, and easily consider him one of my favourite authors, despite never giving him a five star review. All that was set to change in July when I read his latest offering. The City is the coming-of-age story of nine year old Jonah Kirk growing up in the 1960s. It's a story of fate, luck, tragedy, family and love with a light touch of the paranormal and it's what I've been waiting to read from Koontz for years!

In The City we are given a glimpse into the life of one young boy, and the influence of his guardian, Miss Pearl and the unforgettable Mr. Nashioka, a humble tailor.


Have you read any of these novels? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment, or share some of your own favourite reads from 2014.

Carpe Librum!
04 November 2014

Review: Skinjob by Bruce McCabe

Skinjob by Bruce McCabe book cover
* Copy courtesy of Random House Books *

Skinjob is an exciting techno-thriller set in the near future from debut Australian author Bruce McCabe. Daniel Madsen is our protagonist; a Federal Agent with a small handheld lie detector unit, called to join the task force after a bombing in downtown San Francisco.

The target of the bombing was a brothel (called a dollhouse) where patrons pay to spend time with lifelike sex robots; called skinjobs because of their lifelike skin.

Skinjob includes the political landscape of the world McCabe has created, and features a religious movement that's more like a giant advertising machine than a church. The New Christian Organization of America (NeChristo) is a suspect in the bombing due to their protests against Dreamcom - the manufacturers of the skinjobs. 

NeChristo directly transmits their daily podcasts to their millions of followers by use of G-rings (cross-shaped earring that acts as a receiver and earpiece). A scary thought indeed. The descriptions of the NeChristo headquarters showed incredible imagination by the author and I wouldn't be surprised if his words inspired an architect or two in the process. I'd definitely want to visit!

Starting out as a self-published novel before being picked up by Bantam Press (Random House Books), McCabe's writing is unexpectedly polished and tight, and gives the impression of an experienced writer.

I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller, with more to offer than just crime, action and suspense. There's much to consider here and the reader is entertained in the process.

My rating = ****

Carpe Librum!
02 November 2014

Review: Pen & Ink - Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald & Wendy MacNaughton

Pen & Ink - Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald & Wendy MacNaughton book cover
* Copy from Allen & Unwin for review * 

I've noticed more and more people seem to have tattoos these days, and although I've had mine for more than 16 years, I might be thinking about getting another one.

Whether I do or not, I always enjoy looking at other tattoos and of course pondering the stories behind them. Isaac Fitzgerald is the editor at BuzzFeed Books and has put together a book of tattoos from people from all walks of life and the personal stories behind each one.  Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, the result is Pen & Ink: Tattoos & The Stories Behind Them.

I'll admit it was unusual to read a book about tattoos without colour photographs of the artwork, but I'll admit a certain pleasure seeing the drawings of the art instead; no trouble with poor lighting or distractions from the human canvases.

Pen & Ink: Tattoos & The Stories Behind Them would make a great Christmas gift.

My rating = ***1/2

Pen & Ink: Tattoos & The Stories Behind Them by Isaac Fitzgerald and Wendy MacNaughton is available from 1 November 2014, RRP $29.99.