Good Reading Magazine – February 2020

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

This Month

  •  In The Light After the War, Anita Abriel draws upon the true story of her mother surviving the Holocaust to craft a sweeping tale of love, friendship and the human spirit after the horrors of World War II.
  • The Lotus Eaters, a new memoir from Emily Clements that explores self-redemption – When Emily found herself stranded in Vietnam at just 19, she found herself spiralling into despair. gr spoke to Emily about her journey to finding self-worth and avoiding the trappings of typical travel memoirs.
  • D L Hicks on putting 25 years as a police officer to good use in writing his debut crime novel, The Devil Inside.
  • The anxiety of writing your second book with Pip Drysdale.
  • Lee Child Hands Over Jack Reacher
  • Podcasts with D L  Hicks, Benjamin Gilmour, Emily Clements & Genevieve Gannon

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

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – February

Best Read: The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved. 1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave. Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late. Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever… Read her letter. Remember her story…

Crime: I Thought I Knew You by Penny Hancock

Who do you know better? Your oldest friend? Or your child? And who should you believe when one accuses the other of an abhorrent crime? Jules and Holly have been best friends since university. They tell each other everything, trading revelations and confessions, and sharing both the big moments and the small details of their lives: Holly is the only person who knows about Jules’s affair; Jules was there for Holly when her husband died. And their two children – just three years apart – have grown up together. So when Jules’s daughter Saffie makes a serious allegation against Holly’s son Saul, neither woman is prepared for the devastating impact this will have on their friendship or their families. Especially as Holly, in spite of her principles, refuses to believe her son is guilty. For fans of He Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal, Penny Hancock’s I Thought I Knew You is about secrets and lies – and whose side you take when it really matters.

Australian Author: The Burnt Country by Joy Rhoades

Australia 1948. As a young woman running Amiens, a sizeable sheep station in New South Wales, Kate Dowd knows she’s expected to fail. And her grazier neighbour is doing his best to ensure she does, attacking her method of burning off to repel a bushfire. But fire risk is just one of her problems. Kate cannot lose Amiens, or give in to her estranged husband Jack’s demands to sell: the farm is her livelihood and the only protection she can offer her half-sister pearl, as the Aborigines Welfare Board threatens to take her away. Ostracised by the local community for even acknowledging Pearl, Kate cannot risk another scandal. Which means turning her back on her wartime lover, Luca Canali … Then Jack drops a bombshell. He wants a divorce. He’ll protect what’s left of Kate’s reputation, and keep Luca out of it – but for an extortionate price. Soon Kate is putting out fires on all fronts to save her farm, keep her family together and protect the man she loves. Then a catastrophic real fire threatens everything …

General: The Other Half of Augusta Hope by Joanna Glen

Augusta Hope has never felt like she fits inches And she’s right. And now that she’s an adult, Augusta has no interest in the goings-on of the small town where she lives with her parents and her beloved twin sister, Julia. When an unspeakable tragedy upends everything in Augusta’s life, she’s propelled headfirst into the unknown.

Thriller: Good Girl,Bad Girl by Michael Robotham

A girl is found hiding in a secret room in a house being renovated after a terrible crime. For weeks, she has survived by sneaking out at night, stealing food for herself and two dogs that are kept in the garden. The nurses at the hospital where she is taken call her “Angel Face” because she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is 12, maybe 15, or somewhere in between. She doesn’t appear on any missing person’s file, or match the DNA of any murder victim. Six years later, still unidentified, the same girl is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac, when she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult. Psychologist Cyrus Haven is sent to interview Evie and decide if she’s ready to go free, but Evie Cormac is unlike he’s anyone he’s ever met. She’s damaged, destructive, and self-hating, yet possessed of a gift, or a curse, that makes her both fascinating and dangerous to be with – the ability to tell when someone is lying. Soon, he is embroiled in her unique and dangerous world, his life in utmost peril.

Thriller: The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath

On a night out, four friends witness a stranger in trouble. They decide to do nothing to help. Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group realises that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands. But why did each of them refuse to step in? Why did none of them want to be noticed that night? Who is really responsible? And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all?

Saga/Romance: Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson

Ten years ago, Pieta was kidnapped from outside a London nightclub by a man who said he wouldn’t kill her if she kept her eyes closed for 48 hours. Pieta survived the weekend but was left emotionally and physically scarred by the experience. Now living in Brighton, she is a mother and journalist with a good life, until she is tasked with interviewing Callie, a woman who has the same story and scars as she does. Pieta has never told anyone what she did to escape with her life but now she may have to. Fifteen years ago policewoman Jody made a terrible mistake that resulted in a prolific serial killer known as The Blindfolder escaping justice. Only his newest victim Callie is willing to talk publicly about her ordeal, but when Jody finds out journalist Pieta was also once kidnapped by him, she realises how she can catch him. But that would mean endangering at least two innocent people. As the newest victim of the man known as the Blindfolder, Callie knows all eyes are on her to tell her story and give the police the information they need to catch this man. But does Callie know more than she is willing to tell? They kept quiet to protect themselves. Will they tell all to save or sacrifice each other?

EAudio Books

Daughter of the Murray by Darry Frazer (BorrowBox)

1890s, River Murray, Northern Victoria

Young and spirited Georgina Calthorpe is not happy living with her foster family, the MacHenrys, on their neglected sheep run on the banks of the River Murray.
Unlike the rest of the family, she isn’t looking forward to the return of the family’s prodigal son, Dane. She is right to be concerned, as on his return he’s furious when he discovers his inheritance is in severe decline. Ignoring the true culprit – his father – he blames Georgina and she decides to flee. Unfortunately, she makes her escape on Dane’s prized stallion and he gives chase …
From here their fates collide with Conor Foley, a businessman with a dark secret. He is offering Georgina security: marriage and status in the emerging nouveau-riche echelons of Melbourne. But where does her heart really lie?
No one could imagine the toll the changing political and social landscape will have on home, heart and family. Will Georgina’s decisions lead her into grave danger and unhappiness, or will she survive and fulfil her destiny?

Silver by Chris Hammer (rb digital)

Martin Scarsden returns in the sequel to the bestselling Scrublands. For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping. He’d vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won’t come again. Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days brutally murdered, and Mandy the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him. He’s making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting. Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present. An enthralling and propulsive thriller from the acclaimed and bestselling author of Scrublands. “Sprawling and explosive – a masterpiece.” HERALD SUN on Scrublands

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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Stella Prize Long List – 2020

The Stella Prize Long List has just been announced, and it is time to get reading! The library has copies of all of these worthy books, and there is bound to be one to interest you.



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What Library Staff are Reading – February

Wheat Field in Rain – Vincent van Gogh – 1889

The Chain by Adrian McKinty – I have enjoyed Adrian McKinty’s other novels set in Northern Ireland and with such interesting titles as I hear sirens in the street and Police at the station and they don’t look friendly. Apparently he was trying to break into the US market with this one which is set in a coastal town in America.  Rachel’s daughter is kidnapped but rather than having to pay the ransome herself she has to kidnap someone else’s child. The kidnapper has taken Rachel’s child to save their child who was kidnapped in turn by another parent otherwise, their child will be killed. And so on. I struggled to the end of this bland story.  I just couldn’t empathise with the characters and the ending was predictable. 2 stars

Erotic stories for Punjabi widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal – this was chosen by a friend for book group.  It’s about a young woman who is engaged by the local Sikh temple to teach writing to some of the women who are widowed.  Things go slightly awry and they end up telling erotic stories to each other – which all has to be hidden from the scary woman in charge.  We had a wonderfully funny time at the discussion, not least because our hostess had this story to tell about reading the book on a flight back to Sydney from Melbourne : Picture me on a flight seated with the only Punjabis on the flight. The old man sitting next to me was very quiet, the text is LARGE and he was not blind. At the end of the flight his elderly wife leans over stating that they are Punjabi and could she get the details of the book. I explained the plot and that it has some naught bits in it.  She leaned over her husband and whispered, “we can be very naughty.”  I was floored! And he had a smile on his face.  This is a fun read 3.5 stars

A single thread by Tracy Chevalier. A friend bought and lent me this novel set in Lincoln between the wars. Violet Speedwell’s fiancé died in the Great War and she has fled the oppression of her mother’s home to live independently in Lincoln.  She joins a broiderers group who are embroidering the new kneelers for the cathedral.  As always, Chevalier is drawing on real life events and those who are interested can go online and see the kneelers at the cathedral and read about the woman who headed the group. Violet however, is busy falling in love with a married man, while being chased in the country-side by another one.  I didn’t quite get what the attraction was for Arthur by Violet and couldn’t fathom what triggered her stalker.  Not my favourite Chevalier. 3 stars

Men at work : Australia’s parenthood trap by Annabel Crabb – this is a Quarterly Essay exploring why men do not take on more domestic chores, especially child-related ones and parental leave.  Very interesting. 4 stars

The ventriloquists by ER Ramzipoor – this novel grew out of a PhD thesis into resistance literature, and is based on a true story.  It is set in Belgium in WW2 among a group of people working to produce a subversive copy of an evening newspaper that usually prints Nazi propaganda, Le Soir.  It is narrated from the point of view of Gamin, a girl who survived by dressing as a boy.  Chapters alternate between what is happening to the various characters, some of whom the reader is not sure are going to turn collaborator. A different story, an enjoyable read. 4 stars

At the moment I am reading The cut out girl by Bart van Es which won the Costa Book of the Year in 2019.  I’m very nearly finished and would highly recommend it.  Bart’s grandparents hid Jewish children from the Nazi’s during the occupation of the Netherlands, one of whom was a 9 year old girl called Lien.  After some time living with the van Es’s, they were raided and Lien had to move elsewhere, and did so multiple times.  At the end of the war she requested to go back to the van Es household and did so, fitting in happily with the family.  Somewhere along the line something went wrong though and Lien became estranged from the family.  Bart van Es wrote this book about his investigation into this story.  5 stars

Without a word by Kate McQuaile (rb digital) – Well-plotted and engaging Irish police procedural. The storytelling alternates between the perspective of the detective and that of the chief witness. The audiobook uses both a male and a female  narrator – both with marvellous lilting Irish voices. 4 stars

Watching You by Lisa Jewell (Borrowbox) – Wonderfully compelling thriller with a cast of interesting characters. The story moves back and forth in time between the events leading up to a terrible crime and (without giving much away) excerpts from the police interviews after the crime. The plot has just the right amount of twists and turns to be both plausible and engaging. At the start of the audiobook I wasn’t keen on the narrator’s voice, but the story was so compelling I had to keep listening and before long I was enjoying it so much I was glad I’d done so. 3.5 stars

Girl, Woman Other by Bernadine Evaristo – though provoking and interestingly written.

Catch 22 by Joseph Heller – for the umpteenth time.

I have been listening to Emma by Jane Austen on Borrowbox – a bit of comfort food for dark times.

DVD London Road – great cast, interesting story, absolutely terrible. Could not endure any more than 20 minutes of viewing and I love musicals. I give it 1 star

DVD The best of Enemies – Great cast and a wonderful thought provoking story. I give it 5 stars

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


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Alison’s Picks – February


Peace by Garry Disher. The title is of course ironic, because Constable Paul Hirschhausen, manning a small police station in country South Australia, is pretty much run off his feet. The nature of country policing is that, if you don’t know everyone, you know someone who does. Hirsch, while trying to have quality time with his understanding girlfriend, finds himself investigating several apparently unrelated crimes and misdemeanours. They lead us down absorbing rabbit-holes, but am I going to elaborate on them? No – because what shines in this novel is a finely-tuned understanding of the rich array of characters to be found in an Australian country town, and the texture of their relationships. What also shines is Disher’s poetic grasp of the landscape his characters live in. His sparse prose mirrors the landscape, and sends me running to Google Maps to see for myself that country north-east of Adelaide and the Barossa. “Crime-novel” is just one of this book’s identities. It has more.


Helen Garner: Yellow Notebook Volume 1.  She’s a seminal voice in Australian literature, I read most of what she writes, and now here are her diaries, edited for publication. But still an act of ultimate bravery! Who among us diarists would strap ourselves to the examination table in this way? I love the fact that she has though, because I think what we value in Garner’s work is that unstinting truthfulness, that far-seeing eye, that readiness to chuckle at human oddity – and fierce integrity combined with self-judging humility. It’s a singular voice – and I feel larger in spirit by seeing the world through her gaze. However, a caution: if you’re looking for narrative drive, sequential action, don’t come here. That’s not what she’s about in this first Yellow Notebook. She selects fragments – some little scraps of poetry, some funny exchanges, some reflections, some pithy character studies. Her language – so crisp and precise! And when you finish the book, the air seems to ring differently.


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New eMagazines for 2020


Blue Mountains Library has several great new eMagazines to borrow from rbdigital. BBC History, Pip Permaculture, Mollie Makes and Australian Sky & Telescope are all ready to read, with 12 months back issues available for each title. For the kids there’s Storytime. It’s packed with fairy tales, myths, poems, fables and much more – and is completely ad free. Finally we have How it Works – an all ages title that explains everything you never knew you wanted to know about the world we live in. You won’t find some of these on the library shelves, so check out rbdigital today. All you need is your library card number and password.

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – January

Best Read:  The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter 

A mysterious kidnapping. On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor. A devastating explosion. One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast–followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed–the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC. A diabolical enemy–Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene–and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre–putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves.

Crime: Run Away by Harlan Coben 

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. You haven’t seen her in six months. Then you find her busking in New York’s Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is frail, filthy, terrified, and in more trouble than you ever imagined. You don’t stop to think. You approach her. You beg her to come home. SHE RUNS. You follow. What choice do you have? And as you descend into the dark, dangerous world she’s lost herself in, you quickly find yourself out of your depths. Down here, no-one is safe – and now both of you might never make it out alive…

Australian Author: Esther by Jessica North

Esther only just escaped the hangman in London. Aged 16, she stood trial at the Old Bailey for stealing 24 yards of black silk lace. Her sentence was transportation to the other side of the world. She embarked on the perilous journey on the First Fleet as a convict, with no idea of what lay ahead. Once on shore, she became the servant and, in time, the lover of the dashing young first lieutenant George Johnston. But life in the fledgling colony could be gruelling, with starvation looming and lashings for convicts who stepped out of line. Esther was one of the first Jewish women to arrive in the new land. Through her we meet some of the key people who helped shape the nation. Her life is an extraordinary rags-to-riches story. As leader of the Rum Rebellion against Governor Bligh, George Johnston became Lieutenant-Governor of NSW, making Esther First Lady of the colony, a remarkable rise in society for a former convict. ‘North skilfully weaves together one woman’s fascinating saga with an equally fascinating history of the early colonial period of Australia.

General: After the End by Claire MacIntosh

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. They’re best friends, lovers – unshakable. But then their son gets sick and the doctors put the question of his survival into their hands. For the first time, Max and Pip can’t agree. They each want a different future for their son. What if they could have both?

Thriller: Taken by Tony Parsons

When masked men attempt to kidnap the mistress of the biggest gangster in Europe, they make two fatal mistakes. They snatch the wrong woman. And they cross the wrong detective.

Thriller: Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise–she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems… Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle. I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself. I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything.

Saga/Romance: The Hidden by Mary Chamberlain 

Dora Simon is comfortable in her retirement, indulging her interests in gardening and music. Joe O’Cleary is content on the Jersey farm he helped rebuild with its owner, Geoffrey Laurent. But their worlds are shattered by the arrival of Barbara Hummel, a young German who is anxious to track down the identity of a mysterious woman whose photograph she found among her mother’s possessions. As the truth of what happened under the occupation begins to be revealed, the lives of Dora, a Jewish refugee, and Joe, a Catholic priest, start to unravel in shocking and surprising ways. The consequences of the lives they lived under the Germans and the lies that followed are as unexpected as they are devastating.

EAudio Books

Under the Midnight Sky by Anna Romer (BorrowBox)

When an injured teenager goes missing at a remote bushland campground, local journalist Abby Bardot is determined to expose the area’s dark history. The girl bears a striking resemblance to the victims of three brutal murders that occurred 20 years ago and Abby fears the killer is still on the loose.

But the newspaper Abby works for wants to suppress the story for fear it will scare off tourists to the struggling township. Haunted by her own turbulent memories, Abby is desperate to learn the truth and enlists the help of Tom Gabriel, a reclusive crime writer. At first resentful of Abby’s intrusion, Tom’s reluctance vanishes when they discover a hidden attic room in his house that shows evidence of imprisonment from half a century before.

As Abby and Tom sift through the attic room and discover its tragic history, they become convinced it holds the key to solving the bushland murders and finding the missing girl alive.

But their quest has drawn out a killer, someone with a shocking secret who will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

Complicit by Nikki French (RBDigital)

As lovers betray one another, passions turn murderous and friendship itself becomes a crime. Everyone tells lies. But who is prepared to tell the truth to uncover a murderer?



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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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