Librarians’ Choice – February

1. 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend.

2. Into the Fire by Sonia Orchard

3. The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers

4. Small Blessings by Emily Brewin

5. The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

6. The House of Second Chances by Esther Campion

7. After the Party by Cassie Hamer

8. Fusion by Kate Richards

9. Heart of the Grass Tree by Molly Murn

10. Home Fires by Fiona Lowe

source: Librarian’s Choice




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Author Talk – Sulari Gentill

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – February

Best Read: The Pearl Thief by Fiona McIntosh

Severine Kassel is asked by the Louvre in 1963 to aid the British Museum with curating its antique jewellery, her specialty. Her London colleagues find her distant and mysterious, her cool beauty the topic of conversations around its quiet halls. No one could imagine that she is a desperately damaged woman, hiding her trauma behind her chic, French image. It is only when some dramatic Byzantine pearls are loaned to the Museum that Severine’s poise is dashed and the tightly controlled life she’s built around herself is shattered. Her shocking revelation of their provenance sets off a frenzied hunt for Nazi Ruda Mayek. Mossad’s interest is triggered and one of its most skilled agents comes out of retirement to join the hunt, while the one person who can help Severine – the solicitor handling the pearls – is bound by client confidentiality. As she follows Mayek’s trail, there is still one lifelong secret for her to reveal – and one for her to discover. From the snowy woodlands outside Prague to the Tuileries of Paris and the heather-covered moors of Yorkshire comes a novel that explores whether love and hope can ever overpower atrocity in a time of war and hate.

Crime: Second Sight by Aoife Clifford

Eliza Carmody returns home to the country to work on the biggest law case of her career. The only problem is this time she’s on the ‘wrong side’ – defending a large corporation against a bushfire class action by her hometown of Kinsale. On her first day back Eliza witnesses an old friend, Luke Tyrell, commit an act of lethal violence. As the police investigate that crime and hunt for Luke they uncover bones at The Castle, a historic homestead in the district. Eliza is convinced that they belong to someone from her past. As Eliza becomes more and more entangled in the investigation, she is pulled back into her memories of youthful friendships and begins to question everyone she knows … and everything she once thought was true.

Australian Author: The Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning

In 2016, fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm, when her grandfather is dying. With only weeks left together, her grandparents begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. In 1939, two young girls meet in Shanghai, the ‘Paris of the East’: beautiful local Li and Viennese refugee Romy form a fierce friendship. But the deepening shadows of World War Two fall over the women as Li and Romy slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession and the desperate Shanghai Ghetto. Eventually, they are forced separate ways as Romy doubts Li’s loyalties. After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. As she peels back the layers of their hidden lives, she begins to question everything she knows about her family – and herself. A tale of female friendship, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage to shape us all.

General: The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd

Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted. A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release. But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all …

Thriller: All the Beautiful Lies by Peter Swanson

On the eve of his college graduation, Harry is called home by his step-mother Alice, to their house on the Maine coast, following the unexpected death of his father. But who really is Alice, his father’s much younger second wife? In a split narrative, Peter Swanson teases out the stories and damage that lie in her past. And as her story entwines with Harry’s in the present, things grow increasingly dark and threatening – will Harry be able to see any of it clearly through his own confused feelings?

Thriller: The Passenger by Lisa Lutz

Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time. She meets Blue, a female bartender who recognizes the hunted look in a fugitive’s eyes and offers her a place to stay. With dwindling choices, Tanya-now-Amelia accepts. An uneasy, and dangerous, alliance is born. It’s almost impossible to live off the grid today, but Amelia-now-Debra and Blue have the courage, the ingenuity, and the desperation to try. Hopscotching from city to city, Debra especially is chased by a very dark secret, can she outrun her past?

Saga/Romance: The House Across the Street by Lesley Pearse

Twenty-three year old Katy Speed is fascinated by the house across the street. The woman who lives there, Gloria, is the most glamorous neighbour on the avenue, owning a fashionable dress shop in Bexhill-on-Sea. But who is the woman who arrives in the black car most Saturdays while Gloria is at work? Sometimes she brings women to the house, other times they have children. Hilda, Katy’s mother, disapproves of Gloria. She wonders if these mysterious visitors have just been released from prison. Is Gloria secretly bringing criminals, or worse, into the heart of the community? Then one night, the house burns down. In the wreckage, the bodies of Gloria and her daughter are found. Katy is sure the unexplained visitors must be responsible until her father is arrested and charged with murder. Have the police arrested the correct person? Are the rest of the street safe? Can Katy find the truth before it’s too late?


eAudio Books

The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper (BorrowBox): The Arsonist takes readers inside the hunt for a fire-lighter. After Black Saturday, a February 2009 day marked by 47 degree heat and firestorms, arson squad detectives arrived at a plantation on the edge of a 26,000-hectare burn site. Eleven people had just been killed and hundreds made homeless. Here, in the Latrobe Valley, where Victoria’s electricity is generated, and the rates of unemployment, crime and domestic abuse are the highest in the state, more than thirty people were known to police as firebugs. But the detectives soon found themselves on the trail of a man they didn’t know.

The Arsonist tells a remarkable detective story, as the police close in on someone they believe to be a cunning offender; and a puzzling psychological story, as defence lawyers seek to understand the motives of a man who, they claimed, was a naf that had accidentally dropped a cigarette.
It is the story not only of this fire – how it happened, the people who died, the aftermath for the community – but of fire in this country. What it has done, what it has meant, what it might yet do. Bushfire is one of Australia’s deepest anxieties, never more so than when deliberately lit. Arson, wrote Henry Lawson, expresses a malice ‘terrifying to those who have seen what it is capable of. You never know when you are safe.’

Teacher by Gabbie Stroud (RB Digital): Watching children learn is a beautiful and extraordinary experience…. It is a kind of magic, a kind of loving, a kind of art. It is teaching. Just teaching. Just what I do. What I did. Past tense.In 2014, Gabrielle Stroud was a very dedicated teacher with over a decade of experience. Months later, she resigned in frustration and despair when she realised that the Naplan-test education model was stopping her from doing the very thing she was best at: teaching individual children according to their needs and talents. Her ground-breaking essay ‘Teaching Australia’ in the Feb 2016 Griffith Review outlined her experiences and provoked a huge response from former and current teachers around the world. That essay lifted the lid on a scandal that is yet to properly break – that our education system is unfair to our children and destroying their teachers. In a powerful memoir inspired by her original ground-breaking essay, Gabrielle tells the full story: how she came to teaching, what makes a great teacher, what our kids need from their teachers, and what it was that finally broke her. A brilliant and heart-breaking memoir that cuts to the heart of a vital matter of national importance.

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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Flash Fiction Competition

Attention budding writers, keen readers, and anyone willing to just give it a go! To celebrate Library Lovers’ Day on February 14th, we are running a flash fiction competition on the theme ‘There was love to be found in the library’. There is a book pack prize up for grabs at each branch.

Come in to any Blue Mountains Library branch, pick up an entry form, and get writing. Entries close 21st February 2019. Call us on 4780 5750 or 4723 5040 for more information. Good Luck!

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Good Reading Magazine – February 2019

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

  • Jennifer Spence poses a thorny philosophical question about personal tragedy and the nature of time in The Lost Girls.
  • Book publisher and author Jane Carswell tells us about Talk of Treasure, her memoir about how to be a writer.
  • Sulari Gentill returns to her quirky historical fiction detective series with All the Tears in China.
  • In an extract from Jared Cooney Horvarth’s new book Stop Talking, Start Influencing learn about how reading became silent.

New Releases

The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts

Three children went out to play. Only two came back. The Flower Girls. Laurel and Primrose. One convicted of murder, the other given a new identity. Now, nineteen years later, another child has gone missing. And the Flower Girls are about to hit the headlines all over again …

Breaking and Entering: extraordinary story of a hacker called ‘Alien’ by Jeremy N Smith

In 1998 a hacker now known as Alien entered MIT, intending to major in aerospace engineering. Almost immediately, she was recruited to join a secret student group scaling walls, breaking into buildings, pulling elaborate pranks, and exploring computer systems. Within a year, one of her hall mates was dead, two others were on trial, and three had been institutionalised. And Alien’s adventures were only beginning.

Talk of Treasure: A memoir about books, meditation and word by Jane Carswell 
Following on from her award-winning memoir, Jane Carswell writes about the transformation between the private interior worlds of reading and meditation and the noisy exterior world of publication, between the books we read and treasure and the ones we write.

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

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Alison’s Picks – February

The Year of the Farmer  by Rosalie Ham. Here is a brilliant, satirical evocation of Australian rural life. Mitch Bishop’s farm is going to hell in a handbasket, owing mainly to drought. Water is more precious than gold, and is in dwindling supply. Worse than all of that, he’s married to the hideous Mandy, when Neralie Mackintosh has always been the girl in his heart. And there are water cheats about.

I have a mental picture of Jane Austen sitting at her little writing table, her button boots naughtily up on another chair, snorting with laughter as she reads The Year of the Farmer. Oh, this writer knows, says Jane. She knows how people work. I see and hear these country Australians as clear as daylight.

The Ballad of Banjo Crossing by Tess Evans. And here’s another novel set in country Australia, where the small community of Banjo Crossing is put under the spotlight. Outsider Jack McPhail wanders into Banjo Crossing by accident, on the run from his past, and gets drawn in to local life. It’s a workmanlike assemblage, but I could see the marionette strings at work, and it has none of the earthy humour and acid wit of Rosalie Ham. No contest.


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What Library Staff are Reading – January

L’Arlesienne by Vincent van Gogh

The Diary of a Bookseller is the diary of Shaun Bythell, owner of Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. The life of “The Bookshop” in Wigtown is fascinating in its ebbs and flows. Bythell is not shy of making scathing comments about anyone who displeases him, from customers to staff to Amazon. Even librarians come in for a serve. I thoroughly enjoyed his observations.

The Library has The Diary of a Bookselller in print, as an ebook and as an eaudiobook. I listened to the eaudiobook on the RBDigital app – Bythell would probably roll his eyes at my laziness. 4/5 stars

Becoming by Michelle Obama –  She is a great writer, lots of great descriptions. It was fascinating reading about what life is like living in the White House and particularly the constant security issues. She is honest and straight-talking but maintains optimism and hope. 4/5 stars

One hundred years of dirt by Rick Morton – After hearing Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales rave about this book on their podcast and hearing the author speak on Richard Fidler’s Conversations I felt I had to read it. It was a fascinating glimpse into the lives of a family living in crippling poverty in Ipswich, Queensland. Morton includes research about the effects of poverty and stress on the brain and the fledgling field of epigenetics. It was hard to read in parts simply because of the constant desperation and struggle but it is well written and really a must read if we care at all about understanding the lives of others. – 3/5 stars

The writer’s map: an atlas of imaginary lands edited by Huw Lewis-Jones – I love maps.  Don’t listen to the howls of derision from my book group, it’s only the maps in the front of fantasy fiction books that I hate.  This is a beautiful book and should be savoured slowly and frequently. What a shame Christmas is over because a)it would make the perfect gift for the bibliophile in your life and b) I could have asked for it for myself. There’s always birthdays . . . 5 stars

The Princess Bitchface syndrome 2.0 by Michale Carr-Gregg and Elly Robinson – I have a teenage daughter and it’s a struggle at times.  That’s all I’m going to say.  4 Stars

Now we shall be entirely free by Andrew Miller – It’s 1809 and Capt John Lacroix is back from fighting the war with France in Spain. He’s not very well and, in order to avoid having to go back to his regiment, he embarks on a trip to the Hebrides to collect the music of the islands.  Meanwhile, two men have been despatched from Spain to bring him to book for an atrocity committed there.  Beautifully written, this book is getting good reviews and I enjoyed it although I probably didn’t give it justice and took a week’s break from reading it so the momentum was broken.  The only bugbear is that we never get to know who is behind the order to do away with Lacroix, or why (or maybe I’m too obtuse)  4 stars

Henry VIII & the men who made him by Tracy Borman – I’m a Tudor nut and have enjoyed books by the learned Dr Borman but this one was a bit too dense even for me.  Perhaps it was the huge pile of other reading on my bedside table that had me distracted?  Maybe it’s one to dip in to, read a chapter and leave for a couple of days before giving another chapter a go?  I hadn’t finished before I had to bring it back to the library.  Maybe I should buy my own copy and take my time over it.  2.5 stars

Shadow and Light by Mark Colvin – Mark Colvin had one of the most glorious voices on ABC radio and a long and distinguished career as a journalist and foreign correspondent for UK and Australian media.  This is his memoir.  It’s a little more interesting than some as it’s also about his father who, ostensibly a British diplomat, was actually an MI6 spy. 3.5 stars

A spark of light by Jodi Picoult – in this book we start at the beginning of a hostage situation. A man has taken the staff, patients, protestors and visitors of an abortion clinic hostage.  In chapters alternating between the man, the Police negotiator, staff, patients and protestors, we work back in time to the circumstances which bring these disparate people together. It was an interesting premise and quite a page turner.  The backwards facing plot maybe didn’t work as well as I’ve experienced in other novels.  There was a twist I didn’t see coming so kudos for that. 3.5 stars

The wages of sin by Kaite Welsh – This is the first in a series to feature Sarah Gilchrist who is one of the pioneering group of female medical students admitted to Edinburgh University in 1892.  As well as attending to her studies, Sarah volunteers at a hospital for poor women.  One of the patients, a young prostitute is subsequently found dead and Sarah begins to investigate. As well as the obstacles Sarah needs to face to track down the possible murderer, we learn about the obstacles the first female students faced – mostly the abuse and condescension of their male lecturers and fellow students. It was a good story that fairly carried the reader along but I found Sarah a bit annoying.  She is by turns naïve and meddling and comes to some silly conclusions and I often wanted to take her by the shoulders and tell her to get a grip. 3 stars

Lethal white by Robert Galbraith – the long-awaited 4th novel in the Cormoran Strike series now being televised.  This time Strike and his side-kick Riobin Ellacott are investigating the possible blackmailing of a government minister.  As with all good detective novels there are plenty of suspects, sub-plots and red herrings.  The niggle in this book is the personal lives of Strike and Ellacott which intrude too much on the detecting for my liking.  Robin gets married at the beginning of the book and from there on the author goes on ad nauseum about how that might have been a mistake and about the attraction Strike and Ellacott have for each other.  A little bit of romantic/sexual tension, as in the previous novels, is OK but it was just annoying here. I still give it 4 stars though.

Scrublands by Chris Hammer – a detective mystery set in Australia in the middle of a very hot summer – very difficult to read this summer! Another novel where you know what the crime is from the start – a priest has shot 5 men after church one Sunday.  Journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in the tiny town out the back of nowhere a year later to write a story on how the town is doing.  Of course Martin finds that things were not exactly as they were painted a year ago and starts to investigate what actually happened.  More red herrings, suspects and sub-plots!  Hammer has written a gripping tale and his descriptions of drought and bush-fire are very vivid and it lives up to the hype and long- Hold list for library books.  I alternated between reading the book and listening to the audiobook on RBDigital which is narrated by Dorje Swallow.  This time it was the names of the characters which annoyed and then distracted me (it’s been hot and I get cranky easily) – the priest is called Byron Swift, Martin’s love interest is a young woman called Mandalay Blonde and other characters revel in names like Codger Harris and Harley Snouch. Really?  That aside I’ll be waiting eagerly for his next novel.  If you enjoy Jane Harper or Peter Temple you’ll enjoy this one too. 4 stars

Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata – Translated from the Japanese, this story looks at the world from the point of view of Keiko, a 36 year old woman who works in a convenience store.  But Keiko is a little odd.  She sees the world as an outsider, someone who doesn’t really belong, but has learnt to mimic others in order to blend in and get by.  When she becomes aware that she is not living up to society’s expectations, she finds a unique way to meet the expectations of family and friends.  A sometimes dark, sometimes funny novel.  I had trouble putting this one down. 4/5 stars

But you did not come back by Marceline Loridan-Ivens.  It is a book about the holocaust but even so is a delight to read.  It’s autobiographical.  I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil things.  I give it 4/5 stars.

I’ve also just opened a book that was a return and I’m hooked so I’ve borrowed it – Katie Hickman The Aviary Gate.  It is set in Oxford ‘In the present day’ and Constantinople in 1599.  I’ve only read the first page so it’s too soon to give it a score.

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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