Good Reading Magazine – JUNE 2020

The June issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy through Blue Mountains Library!


This Month

Jack McEvoy returns in Michael Connelly’s Fair Warning. This time Jack is facing a criminal mind unlike any he has faced before. After Jack’s one-night stand is brutally murdered he begins a risky investigation into the murder and the person behind it, connecting it to a series of deaths across the country. But Jack also has to clear his own name after being named as a suspect. In our article, Michael Connelly delves into the changing face of the world he called home before becoming one of the world’s greatest mystery novelists.

Nerve by Eva Holland tells the story of her journey into the world of phobias, answering the deep questions: Why do we feel fear? Is there a cure to fear? She meets with scientists working on a single pill to cure fears and individuals who don’t feel fear due to a rare disease. Holland also confronts her own fears on this journey, spurred by the unexpected loss of her mother.
‘Fear is your body telling you to stay alive … once you clear the depths of overreactions you can learn to trust the reactions that are true and rational.’

In The Cake Maker’s Wish single mum Olivia and son Darcy have just moved from Tasmania to the English Cotswolds for a new start. The Renaissance Project in their new town plans to bring the community back to life, bringing in migrants from around the world and sparking the economy. For Olivia, it means Darcy can finally meet his father. It might also be an opportunity for romance to spark for the first time in seven years. ‘Food gives me a focal point … the setting and food come before the characters or even the plot.’

You can borrow Good Reading from the library or access the digital subscription right here, right now, with your library card.

Posted in Books and reading | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Carolyn’s Books of the Month – May


The digital edition!

Here are some of Carolyn’s top picks for May.

eBooks on BorrowBox

The Lost Jewels by Kirsty Manning

In the summer of 1912, a workman’s pickaxe strikes through the basement floor of an old tenement house in Cheapside, London, uncovering a cache of unimaginably valuable treasure that quickly disappears again.

Present day. When respected jewellery historian, Kate Kirby, receives a call about the Cheapside jewels, she knows she’s on the brink of the experience of a lifetime.

As Kate peels back the layers of London’s stories of plague, fire and political turmoil, she is forced to explore long-buried family secrets. Secrets concerning Essie, her great-grandmother, and her life in Edwardian London. Soon, Kate’s past and present threaten to collide and the truths about her family lie waiting to be revealed.

Inspired by a true story, The Lost Jewels unfolds an incredible story of mystery, thievery, sacrifice and hope through the generations of one family.

Sheer Water by Leah Swann

Ava and her two young sons, Max and Teddy, are driving to their new home in Sheerwater, hopeful of making a fresh start in a new town, although Ava can’t but help keep looking over her shoulder. They’re almost at their destination when they witness a shocking accident – a light plane crashing in the field next to the road. Ava stops to help, but when she gets back to the car, she realises that somewhere, amongst the smoke, fire and confusion, her sons have gone missing.
For readers of Mark Brandi’s Wimmera, Stephanie Bishop’s The Other Side of the World and Emily Maguire’s An Isolated Incident, this is a beautifully written, propulsive, tense, gut-wrenching and unputdownable novel that grips the reader from its powerful opening chapter to its devastating, gasp-out-loud, nail-biting conclusion. This is an aching, powerful story from a substantial new Australian writing talent of the insidiousness of domestic abuse and the heroic acts we are capable of in the name of love.

Torched by Kimberley Starr

A small Yarra Valley town has been devastated by a bushfire, and Reefton Primary School principal Phoebe Warton can’t sleep. She’s the single mother of eighteen-year-old Caleb who is accused of starting the fire – on purpose. Twelve people are dead, students from her school among them; only a monster would cause such carnage. But where was her son that day? No one knows but Caleb, and he’s not talking.

Against mounting community rage, Phoebe sets out to clear her son. But every avenue leads back to Caleb. Why did he vanish from his Country Fire Authority shift? Who else was at the abandoned goldmine that day? Why is Caleb refusing to speak?

Phoebe will be forced to confront the nature of guilt and redemption, and decide what boundaries she is willing to cross to save the son she loves.

Torched is an explosive, haunting and compelling crime novel about mothers and sons and the ties that bind them.

eAudio on BorrowBox

 The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

Some lines should never be crossed.

Police corruption, an investigation that ends in tragedy and the mystery of a little girl’s silence – three unconnected events that will prove to be linked by one small town.

While Detective Cormac Reilly faces enemies at work and trouble in his personal life, Garda Peter Fisher is relocated out of Galway with the threat of prosecution hanging over his head. But even that is not as terrible as having to work for his overbearing father, the local copper for the pretty seaside town of Roundstone.

For some, like Anna and her young daughter, Tilly, Roundstone is a refuge from trauma. But even this village on the edge of the sea isn’t far enough to escape from the shadows of evil men.

The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie 

This is a memoir about a dysfunctional family, about a mother and her daughters. But make no mistake. This is like no mother-daughter relationship you know.

When Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents’ isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki’s mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was: ‘I’ll get you and you won’t even know I’m doing it.’

A ferocious, sharp, darkly funny and wholly compelling memoir of families, the pain they can inflict and the legacy they leave, The Erratics has the tightly coiled, compressed energy of an explosive device – it will take your breath away.

eAudio on RBDigital

The White Girl by Tony Birch

A searing new novel from leading Indigenous storyteller Tony Birch that explores the lengths we will go to in order to save the people we love. Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children from their families. When a new policeman arrives in town, determined to enforce the law, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves. In The White Girl, Miles-Franklin-shortlisted author Tony Birch shines a spotlight on the 1960s and the devastating government policy of taking Indigenous children from their families.

The Note through the Wire by Doug Gold

A WWII prisoner of war, a resistance heroine and their incredible true story. In the heart of Nazi-occupied Europe, two people meet fleetingly in a chance encounter. Josefine Lobnik is a Yugoslav underground resistance fighter; Bruce Murray a New Zealand soldier and prisoner of war. A crumpled note passes between these two strangers and sets them on a course that will change their lives forever. This is an extraordinary true account of two ordinary people living through the unimaginable hardship of Hitler’s barbaric regime. Woven through their tales of near-impossible coincidences, great bravery, daring escapes, betrayal, torture and retaliation is their remarkable love story that survived against all odds. “An unforgettable love story set in perilous circumstances. It is a reminder that even in the most horrific times love will find a way and ultimately conquer. I can’t recommend it enough.” HEATHER MORRIS, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

Image result for borrowbox

eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

Posted in Books and reading, Carolyn's Books of the Month | Tagged | Leave a comment

Good Reading Magazine – MAY 2020

The May issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy through Blue Mountains Library!

This Month

  • The Drop-Off by Fiona Harris & Mike McLeish

    Three parents at Baytree Primary are forced to team up and step up after tragedy strikes the school community in The Drop Off. Lizzie is a mother of four and a part-time midwife, Sam is a stay-at-home dad and ex-chef, and Megan is an ex-model single mum with an online business. They are an unlikely trio, with no interest in the school community, but together they step out of their comfort zones and learn about themselves, each other and the school.

  • Little Disasters by Sarah Vaughan

    Liz and Jess have been friends for ten years, ever since they both started a family. But how well do they really know each other?

    When Jess arrives at hospital with a story that doesn’t add up, Liz is the doctor on call. Jess has devoted her life to family and home. But she is holding so many secrets. As the truth begins to emerge, Liz is forced to question everything she thought she knew: about Jess, and about herself.

  • Ghost Species by James Bradley

    When scientist Kate Larkin joins a secretive project to re-engineer the climate by resurrecting extinct species, she finds herself torn between her duties as a scientist and her urge to protect their time-lost creation, Eve, a Neanderthal child.

    As Eve grows to adulthood she and Kate must face the question of who and what she is. Is she natural or artificial? Human or non-human? And perhaps most importantly, as civilisation unravels around them, is Eve the ghost species, or are we?

  • The Secret Life of Shirley Sullivan by Lisa Ireland

    When Shirley Sullivan signs her 83-year-old husband, Frank, out of the Sunset Lodge Nursing Home, she has no intention of bringing him back.

    While Frank may not know who his wife is these days, he knows he wants to go home. Back to the beach where they met in the early 1960s . . .

    So Shirley enacts an elaborate plan to evade the authorities – and their furious daughter, Fiona – to give Frank the holiday he’d always dreamed of. And, in doing so, perhaps Shirley can make amends for a lifelong guilty secret.

This month’s Book Club :

The May book club pick is Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Where The Crawdads Sing received a 5-star review from gr, and has been critically acclaimed by many other reviewers.

You can introduce this fabulous novel to your own book club, or come and join us for a book club discussion on our Facebook Page at the end of this month!

Happy reading everyone! #goodreadingathome

You can borrow Good Reading from the library or access the digital subscription right here, right now, with your library card.

Posted in Books and reading | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What Library Staff are Reading – April

Blue Mountains Library wishes you all happy reading and listening in April.

How the Dead Speak by Val McDermid eAudio on RB Digital – the is number 11 in the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series. (The eAudiobook of number 10 Insidious Intent is also available on RB Digital.) Fans of the classic Wire in the Blood television series will recognise the main characters of Clinical Psychologist Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan. Unfortunately if you are not familiar with these two characters, then number 11 may be a bewildering place to start. Excellent British crime fiction – 5 stars

Thinking About It Only Makes it Worse: and Other Lessons from Modern Life, by British comedian David Mitchell eAudio onBorrow Box, the  is a collection of grumpy newspaper columns written for The Observer and read by the author. One for the diehard fans, but naturally a bit dated and so only 3 stars.

Gotta Get Theroux This: My Life and Strange Times in Television by star documentary maker Louis Theroux eAudio On Borrow Box – this  is an entertaining memoir read by the author – 4 stars.

Snow White Must Die by Nele NeuhausOn eAudio on Borrow Box  – number 1 in the Bodenstein and Kirchhoff series. Moody German crime fiction – 4 stars

Seven Little Australians by Ethal Turner eAudio on BorrowBox – I’ve not lost my nostalgic love for this tale, but as an adult I’m somewhat appalled by the violence displayed by the Captain in disciplining his children. A hundred and twenty years ago, it was acceptable to whip one’s children. I am glad this is no longer so.

I only recently learned that a section was censored from Turner’s original tale, and was very glad to find it included in the audiobook edition I listened to. A woman ahead of her time, in many ways, including this passage where she refers to the indigenous Australian people as Koorie, a more sensitive and culturally appropriate term.

The book still prompts tears, decades after I first read it. Still a favourite.

Accidental Feminists by Jane Caro, read by Jane Caro – an excellent eAudiobook on RB Digital. Caro focuses on her own generation of Australian women aged 55 and over who weren’t necessarily brought up to be feminists but who have become so – however there is much here for other generations of women and men. 5+ stars out of 5

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James  eAudio on Borrowbox – I started listening to this, but the hold queue was getting long, so I returned it out of the goodness of my heart.

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood eAudio on Borrowbox – I have read this before, which means it is ideal for listening to. I am not very good at paying full attention to audiobooks

the Weekend by Charlotte Wood eAudio on RB Digital4 stars – excellent narrator and a riveting story.

So Anyway …written and narrated by John Cheese – John Cleese has the ability to make even his autobiography funny and engaging (why am I surprised), as it covers the ups and downs of life. While I am listening to this story I keep getting strange looks from my family, as I keep laughing out loud.  It was definitely worth the wait to “get hold” of this eAudiobook. 5/5

Dead Man Switch by Tara Moss. I give this 4 out of 5 stars due to the excellent scene setting of 1946 Sydney – with fashion included!  It was like an episode of Underbelly!  Good holiday read.

The last days of Henry VIII: conspiracies, treason and heresy at the court of the dying tyrant by Robert Hutchison.  This is a 2006 publication and so some of the history has since been updated and it can be a bit annoying now to read things that are no longer considered true.  I think the sub-title gives away what Robert Hutchison thinks. 3 stars

Anne Boleyn: 500 years of lies by Hayley Nolan. A more up-to-date retelling of Anne Boleyn’s rise and fall.  Again the author’s views are flagged in the sub-title.  Ms Nolan’s style was a bit too casual at times for my liking, with hashtag slogans and direct questions to the reader.  It read almost like a lecture being delivered, or as one reviewer on LibraryThing wrote “this sounded like someone defending their BFF from the Mean Girls.” 3 stars

Uncrowned queen: the fateful life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor rebel by Nicola Tallis.  A biography of the mother of Henry VII, father of the tyrant above.  A fairly dense, academic text although with a lot of repetition, often within a few sentences. 3 stars

Westwind by Ian Rankin.  One of my favourite series is the Rebus series set in Edinburgh.  This isn’t a Rebus.  This is a novel written by Ian Rankin in the late 80s and revived now.  It’s not as good as his later work.  3 stars

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain.  This was a book group read, not chosen by me.  I read it as a light, short, kind of romantic story about a man who finds a handbag and tries to find its owner.  Not all members of my book group felt the same.  Some were horrified by the protagonist’s behaviour and saw it in the blackest of lights.  We had a fabulous discussion. My intention is to put it on the reading list for my other book group and see what happens there. I’d given it 4 stars in my head before our meeting, only 2 afterwards so I’ll give it 3 stars here.

Boy swallows universe by Trent Dalton.  This book group choice about a boy growing up in 1980s Brisbane did not resonate with me at all.  By the time I got to our meeting last Friday I’d only read 115 of the 460+ pages and wasn’t planning on going any further.  However, after hearing the enthusiasm of my friends, who assured me it was just about to get exciting, I spent most of the weekend tucked up with the cat and finished it on Sunday afternoon. An thoroughly enjoyed it.  It’s beautifully written and the characters are lovingly drawn.  It’s just a shame I had to work so hard to get to the good bits.  Anyway, 4 stars.

Girt by David Hunt – there is a distressing picture of Joseph Banks, flanked by 2 Big Bad Banksia Men, taking away a gumnut baby as a specimen. I may never recover from the horror.

What do our scores mean?

1 star – I hated it / Don’t bother / It felt more like homework than reading for pleasure
2 stars – I didn’t like it / Not for me but worth trying / This book needed something different to make me like it
3 stars – I liked it / Recommended / This book was good. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad.
4 stars – I really liked it / One of the best books I’ve read this year / I’m glad I read it
5 stars – I loved it / One of the best books I’ve ever read / I will probably read it again


Posted in Books and reading | Tagged ,

Alison’s Picks – April 2020


Bruny by Heather Rose [also available as eAudio & eBook] -Well, there’s fiction that you know is fiction – and then there’s Bruny. The novel is set in contemporary Tasmania, where the Liberal government of the day has decided to build a huge bridge across from mainland Tassie to Bruny Island – and lots of people, mistrusting the government’s spin, are upset about that. Before the bridge is half-built, someone blows it up. And there the story begins. Rose’s interest in politics is forensic and partisan, so expect a polemic. But expect also a lot of fierce intelligence amongst the protagonists; dialogue that sizzles; Rose’s dry wit filtering every situation; people who are real, not stereotypes; a political thriller that, by the end, is extremely moving. When I read Heather Rose’s first novel years ago I thought, here’s a writer I’m going to follow. Haven’t changed my mind. I want every Australian to read this!


The Bee and the Orange Tree by Melissa Ashley [also available as eAudio & eBook] –  In her second novel, Ashley takes us to Paris. It is 1699. Mathe has talked her friend Nicola, a well-to-do socialite, into visiting a soothsayer. “You will enjoy it,” says Mathe good-humouredly. But Nicola’s skin prickles as she enters the soothsayer’s room. She hears the woman say, “In two months your great trouble will be over…” Nicola is married to a cruel, jealous man named Claude, so she hopes the prognostication might mean a settling of their differences.

Ashley’s research into the Paris of that period is beautifully embedded in her narrative, so that we are there, in Paris streets, houses, salons, cafes. It is a time when ‘justice’ is unjust; medicine is crude, politics is mean, class-conscious and gender-biased. Women struggle against these odds. But at the same time, the telling of stories and fairy tales is a popular pastime amongst Parisians, and there are women who preside over eagerly-attended literary salons. The storytellers are really centre-stage in this novel. I enjoyed Ashley’s unsentimental reading of Parisian life 300-odd years ago, her robust language, and her own considerable storytelling skills.


Posted in Alison's Picks | Tagged ,

3 ways to read The Mirror and the Light

The long-awaited sequel to Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies is here! Could Hilary Mantel pull off a hat trick and win the Booker Prize for all three of her Wolf Hall novels?

The buildings might be closed, but you can still borrow The Mirror and the Light from Blue Mountains Library. Borrow the eAudio through RBdigital. Like most of our RBdigital titles there is no waiting at all!

More of a reader? BorrowBox has you covered.

So, what’s it about?

England, May 1536. Anne Boleyn is dead, decapitated in the space of a heartbeat by a hired French executioner. As her remains are bundled into oblivion, Thomas Cromwell breakfasts with the victors. The blacksmith’s son from Putney emerges from the spring’s bloodbath to continue his climb to power and wealth, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

Cromwell is a man with only his wits to rely on; he has no great family to back him, no private army. Despite rebellion at home, traitors plotting abroad and the threat of invasion testing Henry’s regime to breaking point, Cromwell’s robust imagination sees a new country in the mirror of the future. But can a nation, or a person, shed the past like a skin? Do the dead continually unbury themselves? What will you do, the Spanish ambassador asks Cromwell, when the king turns on you, as sooner or later he turns on everyone close to him?

With The Mirror and the Light, Hilary Mantel brings to a triumphant close the trilogy she began with Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She traces the final years of Thomas Cromwell, the boy from nowhere who climbs to the heights of power, offering a defining portrait of predator and prey, of a ferocious contest between present and past, between royal will and a common man’s vision: of a modern nation making itself through conflict, passion and courage.

Posted in Books and reading | Tagged

2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist

The shortlists for the 2020 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards have just been announced. You can find the full list here, but below is a selection of fiction, non-fiction and children’s titles up for awards.

Have your say with the People’s Choice Award. Voting opens today. The winner will be chosen by the public from the shortlist for the 2020 Christina Stead Prize for Fiction. Vote via the State Library of NSW website’s survey.

Christina Stead Prize for Fiction

The White Girl by Tony Birch
The Palace of Angels by Mohammed Massoud Morsi
The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith
Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany
Wolfe Island by Lucy Treloar
The Yield by Tara June Winch

Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction

The Seventies by Michelle Arrow
The Enchantment of the Long-haired Rat: A Rodent History of Australia by Tim
Dr Space Junk vs the Universe: Archaeology and the Future by Alice Gorman
Australianama: The South Asian Odyssey in Australia by Samia Khatun
Tiberius with a Telephone: The Life and Stories of William McMahon by Patrick
The World Was Whole by Fiona Wright

Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature

Detention by Tristan Bancks
One Tree by Christopher Cheng
Catch a Falling Star by Meg McKinlay
Wilam. A Birrarung Story by Aunty Joy Murphy
Young Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe
Ella and the Ocean by Lian Tanner

Head to our catalogue and start reserving!

Posted in Awards, Prime Minister's Prize for Literature | Tagged