What Library Staff are Reading – April 2018

The Dinner by Herman Koch – read for a for book group. I found it quite compelling, if a little upsetting.  I would recommend it. 4/5

Sanctuary by Judy Nunn.  When I heard Judy Nunn talk about this book at a recent author talk, I knew I had to read it.  An absolute page-turner and I couldn’t wait to get to the end to find out what was going to happen to all the beautiful characters that Judy had introduced me to as part of the story.  Very timely story and puts a face to refugees.  4/5

http://judynunn.com.au/

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton – What’s not to love about a book with family secrets, inheritance, kidnapping and mysterious family ties.  A homage to the gothic novel, this story is a page-turner. 4/5

https://www.katemorton.com/books/the-forgotten-garden/

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman – I took this book away on holidays last year to read as it is based around the Masada tragedy – but it was a very difficult book to get into, so it sat, barely started, for months after I got home.  I picked it up again this recently determined to read this book that I knew I should love.  2/5

http://alicehoffman.com/books/the-dovekeepers/synopsis/

 The French Perfumer by Amanda Hampson – Full of loveable characters, this delightful story is a hidden gem.  Set in London and then the French Riviera of the post-war period of the 1950s, be charmed by the over-the-top caricatures woven through a great little story based around Iris, who had led a very sheltered life but left her stable job to take on a mysterious secretarial role with a perfumer.   Good to take on holidays. Listen to the author here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYgTdGfwoh8 4/5

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood – A surprisingly engaging novel about an orderly, logical, prickly, and middle aged feminist, Susan, who has to face some big challenges after the death of her mother.  Told from Susan’s point of view, the reader nonetheless can see through Susan’s bravado and watch her “bloom”. 4/5

The Dress by Sophie Nicholls (eAudiobook) – This story felt a little like ‘Chocolat’ by Joanna Harris, where mother and daughter have been wanderers and finally try to make a home in a new town.  Instead of chocolate and food, substitute the vintage clothing and the everyday magic of beautiful garments and friendship. 3/5

Stepdog by Nicole Galland (eAudiobook) – A funny romantic comedy that begins with being fired, finding love, lots of wagging tails, dog-napping, and an elusive Green Card. 4/5

The boyfriend list by E. Lockhart (ebook) – Book 1 of the Ruby Oliver Novels series.  Follows the life of Ruby (aged 15) as she goes through more than her fair share of teenage angst, and with the help of a psychologist looks back on the disaster of her social life and strives for a way forward. An eye-opener for parents, a cautionary tale for teens, and a surprisingly engaging read. 3.5/5

A Wrinkle in Time : the graphic novel by Madeleine L’engle – not my cup of tea at all and I will not be joining my book group in rushing to see the film.  I chose to read this for book group as a graphic novel as I thought it might help. It didn’t. I hated this book and scored it 1/5 accordingly.

Don’t let go by Michel Bussi – another crime novel by French novelist Michel Bussi who I was introduced to by a Library user.  This one is set on the French island of Reunion Island.  The wife/mother in a family holidaying on the island goes missing at the hotel.  There’s plenty of evidence of a crime and plenty of suspects, but no body.  Bussi always tells a compelling, clever story with a good twist at the end.  Scored 4/5

 Elizabeth’s Rival by Nicola Tallis – recommended in a podcast I listen to, this is a biography of Lettice Knollys who was a cousin and, for around 20 years, a favourite female courtier of Elizabeth I.  In 1578 Lettice married Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in a secret ceremony.  The queen was beyond furious. Marrying without the queen’s approval was a crime in itself but to marry the queen’s favourite was almost suicidal.  Lettice somehow survived but was banished from the queen’s presence for ever.  This was well written and right up my alley and I scored it 4/5

Armadillo by William Boyd – I’ve read a few William Boyd novels now and I love him.  This one has insurance loss adjuster Lorimer Black investigating the apparent suicide of a client. The unfolding investigation is interspersed with notes Lorimer makes about the sleep study he is taking part in and which serves to give the reader Lorimer’s back story.  A bit different. Perhaps not as good as the previous William Boyd’s I have read, Restless and Sweet Caress.  Scored 3.5/5

The Suitcase Baby by Tanya Bretherton – True crime account of the infanticide of a baby who washed up in a suitcase in Mosman in 1923.  The mother was found quite soon and she and her accomplice went on trial amongst a tidal wave of media interest.  Tanya Bretherton not only documents the police case and the trial but puts the infanticide in context.  In one chapter, Ms Bretherton gives a list of all the infants found dead in a short period.  The social reasons for babies being murdered is also explored.  It makes distressing but fascinating reading. I scored this book 4/5

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner – a book group read that I wasn’t looking forward to but ended up loving.  Crossing to Safety documents the friendship between Larry and Sally Morgan and their rich friends Sid and Charity Lang from its beginnings in the 1930s to the 1970s when Charity is dying and has summoned everyone to their holiday home for her farewell birthday.  There is no plot per se to this story which is something I usually cannot stand but Stegner writes so beautifully, elegantly, simply that I found myself transported.  No wonder it’s an American classic. Scored 4/5

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris – the novelised story of real life character Lale Sokolov who as a Jewish prisoner in the notorious concentration camp had to tattoo the numbers on other prisoners.  In one intake he meets Gita and they fall in love.  I’m afraid I found myself underwhelmed by this book.  It might be that it’s a topic I’ve read a little about so there was nothing new for me.  It might be that I didn’t really warm to Lale and found the love story a little cloying.  I scored it 3/5

The Last Train by Sue Lawrence – a mystery story with two time lines, one in 1890 set against the backdrop of the Tay Bridge Disaster in Dundee, Scotland and one in modern day Dundee. Two disappearances in two different times leave two related women grieving and confused.  While the modern day woman, Fiona Craig, investigates the disappearance of her partner Pete, she finds there is a family secret and similar story for her kinswoman, Ann Craig.  Scored 3.5/5

A Time of Love and Tartan by Alexander McCall Smith – one of the 44 Scotland Street series which I love not only for the wonderful, quirky characters, but for their ability to transport me back to the tenement buildings I inhabited as a student in Edinburgh.  Happy days!  Scored 4/5

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan – the ‘u’ in Ruin has an acute over it and the word in Irish means ‘secret’.  This is a mystery novel set in Eire and the first in a series to feature Cormac Reilly.  In The Ruin, Reilly finds himself reinvestigating a murder from 20 odd years ago when the body of the first victim’s son turns up drowned and an apparent suicide.  The plot was quite complex and I didn’t always follow what was going on but enjoyed it for the most part. Scored 3.5/5

The Chalk Man by C J Tudor – not quite as scary as the blurb on the cover might suggest and less horror than mystery but enjoyable enough to score 3.5/5.  As children, Eddie and his pals left chalk messages for each other but someone else starts leaving chalk men for the boys and things get really sinister when the town bully is killed.  As adults the ‘boys’ start getting the messages again and things are rekindled.

So I’ve now got two on the go – The Dinner by Herman Koch which is a book group read that I’m enjoying more than I thought I would and Walking Wounded by Sheila Llwellyn about a man sent to a military psychiatric hospital with what we would now call PTSD just after WWII.  I’m loving it so far.

The Country of Ice Cream Star by  Sandra Newman (sci fi) – this one does well in the Book Riot Read Harder challenge for me. With the one book I could theoretically tick off:

*A book with a cover you hate

*A sci fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author

*A romance novel by or about a person of color (at a stretch. There is some semblance of dystopian romance, but it isn’t “a romance”.)

If there was a category for book with its own made up language I would be on fire. Like A Clockwork Orange this book has its own skewed version of English, and it requires dedication to get into the rhythm. It is also long. It is set in a future USA where a disease kills most people by the age of twenty, so the characters are mostly children or teenagers – but don’t let that put you off. My interest waxed and waned, but on the whole it was an impressive novel. 4/5

Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides (short stories) – You couldn’t call Mr Eugenides prolific by any means. This is a collection of previously published short stories in lieu of a new novel I suppose. Ok, but I found I wasn’t in the mood for short stories. 3/5

Anaesthesia: The gift of Oblivion by Kate Cole Adams – with an anaesthetist in the family I have already heard more than I need to know, but it is a fascinating topic. The author spends a bit too much time on her own hang ups, but there is still a lot of fascinating insight into the mysteries of being sort of dead and sort of alive at the same time. Just pray that you don’t remember what happens when you go under, like some of the subjects in the book. 3.5/5

Kedi (DVD documentary)– if you like cats at all this is pure delight. A documentary that follows several tame but ownerless cats in Istanbul, it doesn’t stray (ha ha) too far into the dark side of life on the streets for urban animals. It may even make you feel ever so slightly less misanthropic, if you are little inclined that way. And a quick plug for our video service Beamafilm – it is available to stream now.  6/5

The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale book club by Sophie Green – I can highly recommend one NOT to waste your time reading….not even as engaging as a Mills & Boon.

SCORING

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

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Good Reading Magazine – April 2018

The February issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy!

In this month’s edition:

The fragility and strength of hand-crafted fine lace shawls provide a metaphor for human endurance in Australian writer Lauren Chater’s debut novel, The Lace Weaver, featured on the cover story this month.

 Internationally bestselling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova, talks to gr about her latest book Every Note Played which follows the decline of a classical pianist diagnosed with ALS, and Australian psychologist Gina Perry uncovers a forgotten social experiment conducted at an Oklahoman summer camp during the 1950s in The Lost Boys.

Justine Ettler republishes her initially misunderstood book in the era of #MeToo along with a new work, Bohemia Beach, and we break down the career of the long-reigning Queen of Suspense, Mary Higgins Clark.

All this including an array of book reviews, extracts and more in the April issue of Good Reading!

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

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Reading outside your comfort zone

Westerns, historical novels, family sagas, biographies, crime, chick lit, dude- action lit & Bryce Courtney. What do all of these genres have in common? I rarely, if ever, read them.

While vainly searching for something to read recently I realised with some horror that I am perhaps just a touch fussy. The book is set in World War II? Pass. Main character is married with children and contemplating what it means to be a wife and mother while holding down a full time job? Pass. Main character had 31 hours to save the POTUS and rescue his kidnapped daughter? Pass.

Sometimes we need a little help to expand our horizons. And naturally the internet is there to help. Here are some websites that might just get you, and me,  Reading Outside Our Comfort Zones…

So why should you even want to go on this exciting new journey? Psychology Today magazine explains how reading outside your comfort zone stimulates your brain, and for the budding writer, this just may lead to the breakthrough you have been looking for. The rest of us can settle for the growth of our intellects and development of our imaginations.

Wondering how to go about this challenge? The Open University’s 11 tips to start you on your journey might might be a great place to start.

But what to read? Reading challenges can be a great way of making us think outside the box. There are many lists to choose from, but here are a few to get you started:

The BBC’s Top 100 books to read before you die

Good Read’s 100 Books everyone should read

Better Reading’s Australian Top 100

Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge

Pop Sugars’s Reading Challenge

When is the right time to start? You know the answer to this one! Now is a great time to expand your horizons and read something unexpected. Head over to the Blue Mountains Library catalogue and see what’s new in the collection. You just may find something wonderful.

 

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Stella Prize Winner – 2018

Alexis Wright has been announced as the winner of the 2018 Stella Prize for her biography Tracker. Tracker is a collective memoir of the charismatic Aboriginal leader, political thinker and entrepreneur Tracker Tilmouth. Having known him for many years, Alexis Wright interviewed Tracker, along with family, friends, colleagues, and the politicians he influenced, weaving his and their stories together.

Reserve your copy now from the Blue Mountains Library catalogue.

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Alison’s Picks – April

 

Montebello by Robert Drewe

The Montebello Islands lie off the Pilbara coast of Western Australia. Australian writer Robert Drewe became interested in these islands when he discovered that the British conducted nuclear tests there in the 1950s. The bombs were huge, the complacency of the British high command astonishing. Radioactive winds blew off these detonations and travelled right across the Australian mainland. She’ll be right, mate. Australia was a lackey of the British Empire in those days, so they could do what they liked. Drewe, as aware as any modern thinking person would be of the ecological consequences of those detonations, wanted to go to these islands, and see what state they were currently in, and learn more of their history. And this is the story of that investigation.

The novels of Arthur Upfield: Wings above the Diamantina; The Bone is Pointed; The Mountains Have a Secret; The Widows of Broome

Born 1890 in England, Upfield came to Australia at 21, and explored extensively in the Centre and Western Queensland. His detective series features part-Aboriginal clever man Napoleon Bonaparte (Boney to his friends). Boney always gets his man, you’ll be pleased to hear. I was fascinated, riveted, by these novels. Yes, sexism and racism are there, in line with the times he lived in: but the attention to detail, the storytelling wizardry of this writer got me hooked. His landscapes are the ones I love, so along with his intriguing stories I learn more about Australia’s vast interior. I don’t much read crime fiction: but I devoured these books.

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – April

Best Read: The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it’s Meghan Shaughnessy’s. These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common – a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

Crime: The Stolen Child by Sanjida Kay

Zoe and Ollie tried for years to have a baby and couldn’t. They turned to adoption and their dreams came true when they were approved to adopt a little girl from birth. But 7 years later, they begin to receive letters and gifts. The sender claims to be her birth father. He has been looking for his daughter. And now he is coming to take her back.

Australian Author: A Woman of Courage by J.H.Fletcher

Fighting her way from humble beginnings in a foster home to CEO of her own highly respected international company hasn’t been easy for Hilary Brand.  Even after she seems to have reached the top, troubles abound: her business in China, always fraught with problems, is in peril; and her arch-nemesis Haskins Gould – once her closest business associate, but now her greatest enemy – is gaining traction in his unceasing determination to destroy all she has created.

General: The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

When their plane crashes in frigid, remote mountain wilderness, Dr. Ben Payne, a gifted surgeon facing a painful separation from his wife, and Ashley Knox, a young magazine writer en route to her wedding, are thrust together in this life-and-death situation.

Thriller: The Missing by C.L.Taylor

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…? When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She’s not the only one.

Thriller: Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre

There is no perfect marriage. There is no perfect murder. Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.Then she meets Peter.

Saga/Romance: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.

At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

eAudio Books:

All those Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

For Penelope Sheppard, university offers an escape from her troubled past. Running from a life weighed down with scandal and tragedy, Pen sees this as the ideal place to reinvent herself among perfect strangers. Life in her new halls of residence feels like a wonderland of sex, drugs, and maybe even love.

But all too soon Pen realises you never can run far or fast enough. And when Pen’s secrets are revealed, the consequences are deadly…


Never Look Back by Clare Donoghue

Three women have been found brutally murdered in south London, the victims only feet away from help during each sadistic attack. And the killer is getting braver …

Sarah Grainger is rapidly becoming too afraid to leave her house. Once an outgoing photographer, she knows that someone is watching her. A cryptic note brings everything into terrifying focus, but it’s the chilling phone calls that take the case to another level.

DI Mike Lockyer heads up the regional murder squad. With three bodies on his watch, and a killer growing in confidence, he frantically tries to find the link between these seemingly isolated incidents. What he discovers will not only test him professionally but will throw his personal life into turmoil, too.

 

Image result for borrowbox  eBooks & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

 

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Demystifying the HSC & Beyond Year 12

A3 Landscape - HSC Parents workshop 2018 (3)Are you struggling to understand the HSC, ATAR and how to help your Year 11/12 student choose future study and careers? This forum, featuring education and careers professionals, will attempt to unpick some of the more baffling aspects of the marking systems and how to make plans for Year 12 and beyond. And we’ll offer a free glass of wine with cheese to help absorb the information!

What we will cover:-

  • Understanding HSC marking;
  • Understanding ATAR and how this is compiled;
  • Exploring further education opportunities and how to apply;
  • Exploring VET and other career opportunities;
  • Helping Year 12 students set goals;
  • HSC Subject Choices (end Year 10);
  • Student and family wellbeing
  • Introduction to HSC Workshops for Students at Blue Mountains Library.

This is a FREE event but bookings are essential. Please call or visit any Library branch to book in.

Check out this interesting report which we have stored in our website for your ease of access:

Crunching the number: Exploring the use and usefulness of the ATAR

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