What Library Staff are Reading – May

Autumn is lingering, but it might be time to head to the library and get your winter reading sorted. Here are some suggestions of what to look out for (and what to avoid) from your library staff.

Everybody died, so I got a dog by Emily Dean – British writer and radio presenter Emily Dean’s hilariously heartbreaking memoir about her glamourously dysfunctional family and what happened when they all died. Spoiler alert: the clue’s in the title. PS If you enjoy the memoir, have a listen to the delightful podcast Walking the Dog in which Dean interviews special (human) guests (usually comedians) whilst walking dogs in the park. 5 stars

A few right thinking men and A decline in prophets by Sulari Gentill (eAudiobook on BorrowBox read by Rupert Degas) –  These are the first couple in the Rowland Sinclair mystery series set in 1930s Sydney.  Rowland is the youngest son of a wealthy and influential farming family. He lives in a magnificent mansion pursuing a life as an artist with his like-minded artistic friends. When his uncle of the same name is found murdered, Rowland and his friends are drawn into the dark and nefarious world of the New Guard (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Guard), a monarchist, anti-communist, fascist paramilitary organisation active from 1931. The real historical events and people behind the stories are ones I had not heard of before and I found it absolutely fascinating. They are an easy read and if you enjoy Maisie Dobbs or Phrynne Fisher I’m sure this series will suit you too.  4 stars

I also listened to The Deathwatch journal by Ian Rankin via BorrowBox.  This is a story written for BBC Radio 4 about a prison officer on death watch over a man accused of killing his wife.  So authentic sounding I tried finding the story! 4 stars

Queen Victoria : daughter, wife, mother, widow by Lucy Worsley – Dr Worsley has taken a different approach to this much written about monarch’s life.  Instead of a chronological journey through Victoria’s life, she concentrates on 24 significant dates – her birth, her ascension date, wedding, death of Prince Albert etc.

All over the map: a cartographic odyssey by Betsy Mason & Greg Miller – a big beautiful coffee table book about maps and map making – historical, fantasitcal, conflict and crisis, waterways, movement of peoples, industry, sub oceanic, poverty and affluence.  Just awesome – 5 stars

More DI Tony McLean in Written in bones by James Oswald – this one had a particularly gruesome murder with a body falling out of the sky and landing in a tree in The Meadows a large park south of the University of Edinburgh’s George Square campus (my old stomping ground). 4 stars

Katherine Howard: a Tudor conspiracy by Joanna Denny – this is an old book I bought at a Library book sale, first published in 2005.  Some of the things Ms Denny states as fact are now disputed so it was a bit jarring to read at times. 3 stars

Murder at the Book Club by Betsy Reavley (eaudiobook on RBDigital) – If you’ve ever thought about joining a book club, this cosy crime eaudiobook might put you off forever. I didn’t love the narrator’s voice, but the story has plenty of suspects to keep you guessing to the end. 3 stars

I so enjoyed the mind-boggling book of Tara Westover. She was only in her 30s when she wrote Educated, a Memoir, the story of growing up with her doomsday parents who “home-schooled” her and her siblings using the bible and Mormon teachings. She helped her mother make tinctures and her father in his junk yard. OH & S didn’t exist. Not only did Westover set out on a quest to get an education without ever being in a classroom but, in spite of huge ignorance, she managed to get to both Harvard and Cambridge and to obtain a PhD.  4.5 stars

Vintage girl by Hester Browne, and read by Cathleen McCarron – A light, enjoyable, romantic eAudiobook, complete with Scottish reeling and potentially dodgy antiques. 4/5

The Arsonist: a mind on fireby Chloe Hooper – A gripping true crime book about Black Saturday in Victoria. The book is broken into three parts – the detectives, the lawyers, and the courtroom – covering the experience of the fire, the lawyers representing the defendant and the unfolding trial. I wouldn’t use the word ‘enjoyable’ to describe the experience of reading this book but it has been one of my favourites this year. 4/5

A Month of Sundays by Liz Byrski – Set in the Blue Mountains the four female characters are feeling overwhelmed by their life circumstances – retirement, health issues, regrets, family revelations – but are buoyed by fresh mountains air, friendship and books. A very easy, enjoyable read. 4/5

I read The Art of Taxidermy  by Sharon Kernot-  it gets a 3.

I attempted to read 99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai – It was awful and I gave up after having forced myself to make it about half way through. .25 stars

Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein- it gets a 4.

I gave up on Milkman by Anna Burns less than ¼ of the way through. I give it a 2.

Best Summer Stories edited by Aviva Tuffield  – some of these stories stay with you long after reading them – they really hit a nerve! Highly recommend!  And I have bought as a present for many people. 4 stars.


Re-reading the Outlander Series before tackling the TV series – up to Book 2 – Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon – still stands up after all this time.  Definitely worth the re-read.  What a great storyteller! 4 stars

At Freddie’s by Penelope Fitzgerald – Only my lack of interest in the theatre prevented me from enjoying this more. Set in a decrepit stage school in 60’s London, it boasts a cast of horribly knowing children and less than adept adults, all ruled and manipulated by the ruthless Freddie.

The Pisces by Melissa Broder – what to say about this Woman meets Fish-Man erotic warts-and-all tale… remind me never to go to group therapy for people with relationship addiction. Oh, and then there is the dog murder at the end. Over-sharey, but not funny.

Let’s pretend this never happened: a memoir by Jenny Lawson – after the horror show of The Pisces, I thought this might elicit a laugh. Jenny Lawson has the material in her less than conventional childhood, but lousy, try hard writing made it a chore, and I failed to finish it. Apparently she is a blogger. I can believe it.

The sky is yours by Chandler Klang Smith – I have only just begun this sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction book set in a world where a couple of mysterious dragons hang out over a crumbling city, making life difficult for those who still call it home. I don’t know yet if I will continue, and it has failed the LOL test.

Wintering by Krissy Kneen – This is set in a tiny coastal town in southern Tasmania over one winter, where the protagonist is grieving the loss of her missing partner and becomes embroiled in the mystery of his disappearance. However, I wasn’t expecting this to turn in to a paranormal story with were-thylacines, and it didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps had I known what I was in for I would have enjoyed it more. Or not.

American pastoral by Philip Roth – I felt overwhelming deja vu reading this, and began to wonder if I had read if before, not realising that the narrator, Nathan Zuckerman, has been in many of Roth’s books, and that I was thinking of The Human Stain. Anyway, it made me realise that I have moved on from being interested in the world view of older American men, and my days of catching up on Significant Authors and Books may be over.

DVD Corner

A Simple Favour  – good cast, a twisty plot & I would watch again. 4 stars

Crazy Rich Asians  – enjoyed the book so knew what to expect in the movie. The sheer opulence and snobbery are amazing between Singaporians/Chinese Americans and mainland Chinese. 3 stars

 Happy Valley series  – what a great drama although the accents sometimes were a bit difficult to understand BUT what a story. 4 stars

Mission Impossible: FALLOUT–  I am not a Tom Cruise fan but he is excellent as Ethan in Mission Impossible action is fast, acting is excellent and there is a story line  4 stars

Pine Gap double disc 6 episodes – Paranoia, distrust are two of the elements in this series that is between Australia and America never let you right hand know what your left hand is doing! What a story it does slowdown in the middle of the series but worthwhile watching. 3 1/2 stars

My Blind Brother – A patron recommended this DVD it is funny and poignant as the title implies 2 brothers one is blind and an over achiever at his sighted brothers expense. 4 stars

The Party  – with Timothy Spall, Kirsten Scott Thomas and an excellent cast (especially) Cillian Murphy. I do recommend “The party” excellent acting and a plot that twists in so many directions it is in black and white and it is a black comedy.


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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Man Booker International winner – 2019

Congratulations to writer Jokha Alharthi and translator Marilyn Booth for winning the Man Booker International prize for Alharthi’s novel Celestial Bodies. The £50,000 prize has been divided equally between its author and translator. Jokha Alharthi, the first female Omani novelist to be translated into English, is the first author from the Arabian Gulf to win the prize.

Blue Mountains Library has both physical and eBook copies, ready to be reserved. For more information about the International Man Booker prize, and the other shortlisted works, head to their website.

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Good Reading Magazine – May 2019

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


  • Meet New York Times cartoonist Gavin Aung Than and his team of shape-shifting, insect-slinging sidekicks.
  • Amra Pajalic chronicles a childhood with a bipolar mother in her memoir Things Nobody Knows But Me.
  • Carmel Reilly on Life Before, her gripping new novel about an ordinary family trapped in a terrible situation.
  • Author of The Thornwood House, Anna Romer, gives us a tour of the beautiful bushland around her cottage.

New Fiction

Life Before by Carmel Reilly
Lori Spyker and her brother, Scott Green, have not spoken in decades. Twenty years before, when they were teenagers, a devastating event tore their family apart. Now in her 30s, Lori is a wife and mother of two, leaving home for the morning school run, when a policeman delivers the news that Scott has been hospitalised following a hit-and-run. Lori hasn’t seen Scott in decades. She appears to be his only contact. Should she take responsibility for him? And, if she does, how will she tell her own family about her hidden history, kept secret for so long? Read our interview with the author.

The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa
Would Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson have ever crossed the Blue Mountains without the help of the local Aboriginal people? The invaluable role of local guides in this event is rarely recognised. Well into the twentieth century, Indigenous people were routinely engaged by collectors, illustrators and others with an interest in Australia’s animals. Yet this participation, if admitted at all, was generally ¬-barely acknowledged. However, when documented, it was clearly significant.

New Non-fiction

Things Nobody Knows But Me by Amra Pajalic
When she is four years old Amra Pajalić realises that her mother is different. Fatima is loving but sometimes hears strange voices that tell her to do bizarre things. She is frequently sent to hospital and Amra and her brother are passed around to family friends and foster homes, and for a time live with their grandparents in Bosnia. At sixteen Amra finally learns the name for the malady that has dogged her mother and affected her own life: bipolar disorder. Amra becomes her mother’s confidante and learns the extraordinary story of her life. Read our interview with the author.

Australia’s First Naturalists by Penny Olsen & Lynette Russell
Would Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson have ever crossed the Blue Mountains without the help of the local Aboriginal people? The invaluable role of local guides in this event is rarely recognised. Well into the twentieth century, Indigenous people were routinely engaged by collectors, illustrators and others with an interest in Australia’s animals. Yet this participation, if admitted at all, was generally ¬-barely acknowledged. However, when documented, it was clearly significant.

The Great Emu War by Gordon Cope
In 1932, in the wheat country of Western Australia, there was a plague of emus. The plague was so great that the Federal Government was convinced to send a squad of soldiers equipped with machine guns mounted on trucks to deal with the problem. They were ordered to shoot the emus – a tactic that had been tried before and failed miserably. Still, consistency often prevails while unrequited success weeps in the corner.

Being You: How to Build Your Personal Brand and Confidence by Maggie Eyre
Practical, authoritative, inspirational, and illustrated with stories and case studies based on Maggie Eyre’s own international work and experience, this is the essential toolkit to developing a confident, authentic personal brand, whether you’re an established businessperson or just starting out in your career. Read an extract!


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

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – May

Best Read: The Survivors by Kate Furnivall

Germany, 1945. Klara Janowska and her daughter, Alicja, have walked for weeks to get to Graufeld Displaced Persons camp. In the cramped, dirty, dangerous conditions they, along with 3,200 others, are the lucky ones. They have survived and will do anything to find a way back home. But when Klara recognises a man in the camp from her past, a deadly game of cat and mouse begins. He knows exactly what she did during the war to save her daughter. She knows his real identity. What will be the price of silence? And will either make it out of the camp alive?

Crime: It’s always the Husband by Michele Campbell

It’s Always the Husband…unless it’s the best friend.

Kate, Aubrey and Jenny are inseparable at college – friends who promised they’d always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, their friendship is about to take a deadly turn.

Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door, but when one of the friends dies in shocking circumstances, will everyone assume that it’s always the husband? Or could it be the best friend?

Australian Author: The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy by B.M.Carrol

Sophie McCarthy is known for her determination, ambition and brilliance. She’s tough, but only because she wants to get the best out of people. Aidan Ryan is strong, honourable, and a family man. He’s tough too; the army requires it. Now Sophie’s life is in ruins and Aidan is responsible. Her family wants to see him pay for what he did. His family is just as devastated. Aidan’s prepared to sacrifice everything including his marriage and his child to fix the mess he’s made. But Sophie, who is facing a lifetime of pain, is darker and much more complicated than she first appeared.

General: The Wolf Hour by Sarah Myles

Thirty-year-old Tessa Lowell has a PhD in psychology and is working in Uganda to research the effects of PTSD and war on child soldiers. She joins a delegation travelling across the Congolese border, deep into the African bush, for peace talks with Joseph Kony, notorious leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.? At the camp Tessa meets thirteen-year-old Francis, already an experienced soldier and survivor of shocking violence. The talks stall, and the camp is attacked by other rebels who take Tessa. Isolated in an increasingly volatile situation, she tries to form a bond with Francis. In Melbourne, Tessa’s parents are notified of the kidnapping, but learn there is little that government agencies can do. Desperate, they contact their son Stephen, an astute if manipulative businessman based in Cape Town. He agrees to search for his sister but has other reasons to contact the rebel forces. As Tessa’s time runs out, her family begins to fracture. Her parents arrive in Uganda to hear awful news about what she has endured. They also learn the devastating truth about the kind of man their son has become. Only they have the power to stop a terrible injustice. But at what cost to their family?

Thriller: Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall

There’s no such thing as a little lie… When Sasha North comes into Ellen’s life, Ellen falls under her spell. As Ellen is welcomed into Sasha’s family, she doesn’t see the darkness that lies beneath their bohemian lifestyle. Not until a brutal attack changes all their lives forever. Ten years later, Ellen and Sasha share a flat in London, still bound together by that night. When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. The police won’t take her seriously, but the events of the past give Ellen good reason to be frightened. What really happened that night? Who is telling the whole truth? These are the questions Ellen must confront when searching for her friend. But someone knows Ellen is looking. And they don’t want the answers coming out . . .

Thriller: Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

It all started with the email. Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack. She’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him. But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion. Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Saga/Romance: The Invitation by Belinda Alexandra

In Gilded Age New York, money buys everything. What is your price? Sometimes the ties that bind are the most dangerous of all … Paris, 1899. Emma Lacasse has been estranged from her older sister for nearly twenty years, since Caroline married a wealthy American and left France. So when Emma receives a request from Caroline to meet her, she is intrigued. Caroline invites Emma to visit her in New York, on one condition: Emma must tutor her shy, young niece, Isadora, and help her prepare for her society debut. Caroline lives a life of unimaginable excess and opulence as one of New York’s Gilded Age millionaires and Emma is soon immersed in a world of luxury beyond her wildest dreams – a far cry from her bohemian lifestyle as a harpist and writer with her lover, Claude, in Montmartre. Emma hopes for an emotional reunion with her only family, but instead she finds herself in the vice-like grip of her charismatic and manipulative sister, who revels in the machinations of the ultra rich. As Emma begins to question her sister’s true motives, a disaster strikes, and New York society is stripped bare – beneath the glittering exterior lies a seething nest of deceit, betrayal, moral corruption … and perhaps even murder.


The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper (Borrowbox)

Della Atterton, bereft at the loss of her parents, is holed up in the place she loves best: the beautiful Hawkesbury in New South Wales. Della has no wish to return to Sydney. But the unexpected arrival of Captain Stefan von Richter on a quest to retrieve what could be Australia’s first opal precipitates Della’s return to Sydney and her Curio Shop of Wonders where she discovers her enigmatic aunt, Cordelia, is selling more than curiosities to collectors. Strange things are afoot and Della, a fly in a spider’s web, is caught up in events with unimaginable consequences …
1919 Sydney, NSW – When London teashop waitress Fleur Richards inherits land in Australia from her husband, Hugh, killed in the war, she wants nothing to do with it. After all, accepting it will mean Hugh really is dead. But Hugh’s lawyer is insistent, and so she finds herself ensconced in the Berkeley Hotel on Bent St, Sydney, the reluctant owner of a Hawkesbury property and an old curio shop, now desolate and boarded up.
As the real story of her inheritance unfolds, Fleur and damaged returned soldier Kip are drawn deep into the past by a thread that unravels a mystery surrounding an opal and a woman in a green dress … a green that is the colour of envy, the colour buried deep within an opal, the colour of poison …

The Lost Man by Jane Harper (RBdigital)

Three brothers, one death, a fenceline stretching to the horizon. Two brothers meet at the border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of outback Queensland. They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish. Something had been troubling Cam. Did he lose hope and walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects… For fans who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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Alison’s Picks – May


In The Quiet by Eliza Henry-Jones. Bit hard to resist a novel in which the first-person narrator is already dead. She doesn’t remember how she died, but she drifts, unseen and sealed away in her deadness, around the lives of those she loved: husband, children, sister and others. She watches them all from ‘the quiet’, with a degree of detachment not available to her in life. I love the gentle, undulating rhythms of this novel. The writing is exquisite but not showy. We are inducted, gradually, into the lives and thoughts of people whose innocent, true selves the narrator, Kate, understands. This is a writer to watch, and to keep reading.

Mercy Street by Tess Evans. George Johnson is living ‘worn-out, washed out  days’. His wife is dead, his interests are few, as are his friendships. A five-year-old child wanders ill-temperedly into his universe – and this story is born. This novel was impressive. Again, the theme of innocence sits centrally, reminding the reader how vulnerable that quality is. It can confer strength, in an odd, backhand way… but it can so easily be damaged too. I thank the author for focusing so keenly, so intelligently, on the quality of innocence. She knows how important it is.

Hare’s Fur by Trevor Shearston. Trevor chose his own stamping ground for this, his latest novel, and coincidentally, it traverses similar terrain to Mercy Street, above.  I’ll quote the back cover: “Russell Bass is a potter living on the edge of Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains. His wife has been dead less than a year and, although he has a few close friends, he is living a mostly solitary life.” Into this reclusive life come three kids, living rough. How does the potter deal with this? I really loved this book, finishing it and turning back to the beginning. The writing is assured, the intricacies of a potter’s life richly stamped on the whole text; and the character of the potter both clear and layered. The sensory detail makes it all vibrate. And dare I say that the consideration of innocence is subtly here as well, though the three children have been robbed of this birthright?




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Good Reading Magazine – April 2019

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

In this issue:

  • Bestselling author Nina George, on seeing numbers as colours, and her new novel The Book of Dreams.
  • Elizabeth Stead, niece of literary luminary Christina Stead, on her latest novel, The Aunt’s House.
  • Stephen Davis writes about two shocking instances of #fakenews in Truthteller.
  • Author of the new book This Excellent Machine, Stephen Orr evaluates Victor Hugo’s home décor.


Eight Lives by Susan Hurely

Former refugee David Tran becomes the Golden Boy of Australian medical research and invents a drug that could transform immunology. Eight volunteers are recruited for the first human trial, a crucial step on the path to global fame for David and windfall gains for his investors. But when David dies in baffling circumstances, motives are put under the microscope. With its origins in a real-life drug trial that ended in tragedy, Eight Lives is told from the perspectives of David’s friends, family and business associates, who all played a role in his downfall.

The True Story of Maddie Bright by Mary-Rose MacColl

In 1920, a 17-year-old girl in London accepts a job as a serving girl on Prince Edward’s 1920 royal tour of Australia. Maddie’s talents soon earn her the respect of Helen Burns, the prince’s vivacious press secretary, and Rupert Waters, his most loyal man, and Maddie is in awe of Edward himself, the ‘people’s’ prince. Decades later in Brisbane, an elderly Maddie answers the door to Victoria, an English journalist searching for the identity of a famously reclusive writer.

The Shining Wall by Melissa Ferguson
In a ruined world, where wealthy humans push health and longevity to extremes and surround themselves with a shining metal wall, privilege and security is predicated on the services of cloned Neandertals, and the exploitation of women in the shanty towns and wastelands beyond the fortress city. This is the frightening yet moving story of orphaned Alida and her younger sister Graycie, and their struggle for survival in the Demi-Settlements outside the wall.

Non Fiction

Truthteller by Stephen Davis
In the era of ‘fake news’, what are methods those in power use to lead the public astray? In Truthteller, Stephen Davis uses his skills as an investigative journalist to expose the tools at play in the propagation of falsehoods by governments, organisations and the media.

Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books by Megan Daley
Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop – not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years? Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley has the answers to all these questions and more.

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

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Librarians’ Choice – April


1.The Place on Dalhousie by Melina Marchetta

Rosie has walked away from Sydney, leaving behind the place on Dalhousie that her father, Seb, painstakingly rebuilt for his family but never saw completed. Two years later, Rosie returns to the house and living there is her step-mother Martha. And so begins a stand-off between two women who refuse to move out of the home they both lay claim to.

2. Gravity is the thing by Jaclyn Moriarty

3. River of salt by Dave Warner

4. The True story of Maddie Bright by MaryRose MacColl

5. Eight Lives by Susan Hurley

6. The Artist’s portrait by Julie Keys

7. Growing up African in Australia by Maxine Beneba Clarke ed.

8.  Australia Day by Stan Grant

9. Under the Midnight sky by Anna Romer

10. The sparkle Pages by Meg Bignell

source: Librarian’s Choice




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