A date for your diary – Katoomba Mini Book Sale, Saturday 24 September

Katoomba mini book sale

HSC Study Resources


Blue Mountains Library has a borrowing collection of HSC study guides on a wide range of HSC subjects; from Physics to PDHPE, English, Mathematics, Legal Studies, History, Chemistry and Biology. These include titles from Excel, Checkpoints, Macquarie and Leading Edge and many contain past examination papers. Guides are available at all Library branches and can be borrowed overnight.

The Library also provides access to many electronic resources for study help. Check out Australian and New Zealand Points of View Reference Centre which contains essays that present multiple sides of a current issue. With over 100 topics it provides a basis to develop persuasive arguments and essays and helps students build a better understanding of controversial issues and increase their analytical thinking skills. Or Science Reference Center; a one-stop resource for all science-related research: science encyclopaedias, reference books, periodicals, and other sources covering many aspects of science. All eResources are located on the Library website – go to Reference and Researchor call to speak to a Librarian.

Thomas Cromwell:the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant by Tracy Borman

indexThomas Cromwell:the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant by Tracy Borman

London | Hodder & Stoughton | 2014 | 450 pp.

On the Adult Non-Fiction shelves at 920 CRO

Summary: Thomas Cromwell was Henry VIII’s right hand man for about a decade from around the time his master, Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, came to grief for not managing to secure Henry his divorce from Katherine of Aragon to Cromwell’s own spectacular fall and execution in July 1540.

Famously having been of lowly birth – his father was a blacksmith and a beer brewer who several times was convicted of watering down his ale – Cromwell rose through the ranks in both Wolsey’s and then Henry VIII’s courts to become Lord Great Chamberlain and the most powerful man in England besides the king.  His loyalty to the king and to his friends is well known and an implacable enemy. Those who fell foul of his enmity included Henry’s second Queen Anne Boleyn.

Cromwell is credited with advancing the Reformation in England when he orchestrated the Dissolution of the Monasteries which made Henry fabulously wealthy. He introduced the distribution of the Bible in English, ordering a copy to be made available to the people in every church in England.  Family historians have a lot to thank Cromwell for – it wasCromwell who instructed that every clergyman should “keep one book or register, wherein ye shall write the day and year of every wedding, christening and burying, made within your parish for your time.” (P300)

In the end Cromwell’s fall from power was very swift, coming only weeks after having been made earl of Essex.  But he had incurred the wrath and the jealousy of the nobility over years for rising above his station and for the religious changes and upheaval.  After fending off several previous attempts to bring him down his enemies, headed by the duke of Norfolk, finally succeeded – arriving for a meeting of the Privy Council on 10 June 1540 he was taken by surprise and arrested on charges of treason and heresy. By the end of July he’d been executed.

Review : I have to declare myself as a lover of Tudor history and (reluctantly) acknowledge this book might not be for everyone.  Not surprisingly, there is a lot of detail of the official part of Thomas Cromwell’s life; he documented everything himself, had an army of secretaries and there are court reports, reports of foreign ambassadors, etc.  The details of his private life, especially his early life and domestic life, are fairly sketchy and there is a bit of conjecture going on, but Tracy Borman has written a very readable account.  On a scale out of 5 I would give it a 4.

If you prefer to read your history in novel form, Hilary Mantel cannot be beaten.  The first two books in her Thomas Cromwell series, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, both deservedly earned her the Booker Prize (it’s been an agonising wait for the last one) and the British TV adaptation of Wolf Hall was great too. (I had the great fun of watching it with a friend who knew nothing of the story so, like Anne Boleyn at the time, did not know what was going to happen).

The Shardlake books by C J Sansom are another very good series of historical detective novels with the Dissolution of the Monasteries as the backdrop.

Reviewed by: Alba

The Reading Hour 2016


the reading hour

The annual Reading Hour aims at encouraging families to spend time reading with each other.

Although the 16th of August from 6 – 7pm is nominated as the specific time and date for Reading Hour 2016 and some families and groups will choose to read for an hour together the intention is not to put extra pressure on people with their already busy lives – the Reading Hour aims to spread the simple message, ‘Share a book for 10 minutes a day, an hour a week, and give the gift of reading’. 

The benefits of reading are multiple and the earlier the reading habit starts the better.  This infographic spells out some of the benefits of reading.

Benefits of Reading

From Lifehacker Australia, 4 January 2016

ReadingHour ambassador 2016
Magda Szubanski– one of Australia’s most loved TV personalities, is the National Ambassador for 2016. Magda Szubanski has a background in comedy, appearing on several sketch shows including Kath & Kim as Sharon Strzelecki.  

Her first book Reckoning recently won the Indie Award for Non-Fiction, Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-Fiction at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and both Biography and Book of the Year at the Australian Book Industry Awards!

I especially recommend the audiobook version which is narrated by Magda Szubanski herself.  Get it out as a Talking Book or download it to your PC, tablet, iPad or smartphone from Borrowbox.

So, now you know about Reading Hour and why reading is good for you, what are you going to read?  We asked around the office and here are some replies :

Patricia – 4 books total (2 per child) – 6 year old: 1 x home reader (Kindergarten student), 1 x Pokemon Book (2 chapters of a chapter book) | 4 year old: 2 pre-schooler books usually a Dr Seuss, fairy-tale or ABC book  

Geoff – I am reading The Goblet of Fire to my daughter so will have to do an hour session tonight! She will be happy, when we finish a book we watch the movie the following weekend.

Happy Reading Hour!

Carolyn’s Books of the Month – August 2016

carolyns-books-of-the-monthBest Read : The Lace Balcony by Johanna Nicholls

Crime : Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Australian Author : The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

General : The Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Thrillers : Wink Murder by Ali Knight and Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Saga/Romance : The Separation by Dinah Jefferies

Carolyn's best

Alison’s Picks – August 2016

Some recommended reading for August from Alison.tree

Jane Rogers : Conrad and Eleanor

Patrick Modiano : Little Jewel

Tracy Chevalier : At the Edge of the Orchard

Liz Byrski : Remember Me



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