What Library Staff are Reading – March 2017
Here are some suggestions for what to read when it’s too wet to go outside:
- I haven’t read any books by Neil Gaiman and The ocean at the end of the lane was recommended to me as a good starting point. I enjoyed the quirky world that slowly came in to focus, and then went out of focus again! 3/5
- I was a bit nervous about reading LaRose by Louise Erdrich as I know that her novels can take you on grim journeys through difficult lives, but she writes so deeply and well about the effects of colonisation and dispossession in America that I knew I would want to go on whatever journey LaRose would take. This is actually a surprisingly gentle and positive story, even though people go through great tragedies, and again her writing is so strong that I was drawn in to the lives that are so skilfully portrayed here. 4/5
- I loved reading Hag-seed: The Tempest retold by Margaret Atwood. It was a clever retelling of the Shakespeare, bringing both the play and its plot in to the current day. The story of producing Shakespeare in a prison environment was compelling and I even got to like the main character more as the story unfolded. 4/5
- I also read Murder at Myall Creek: the trial that defined a nation. This is a biography of John Hubert Plunkett, the Attorney General of NSW and the prosecutor of the 11 men who were tried for the murder of 28 Aboriginal children, women and men in 1838. It was almost unknown for whites to be tried for killing Aboriginal people at this time and Plunkett stuck to his belief in ‘equality before the law’ against most of the population of the young state. 3/5
- I wanted to recommend The Hawley Book of The Dead by Chrysler Szarlan. I give it 4 Stars, really enjoyed it. A creepy read on a stormy night.
- I have read all four books in Alison Croggon’s Pellinor series – a huge dose of fantasy fiction which I just devoured, some of them I read twice – 5/5
- I’m currently reading Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project this is for book group and although I haven’t finished it I would recommend it – 4/5
- The mapmaker’s children : a novel by Sarah McCoy – based on the true life story of the famous abolitionist John Brown and his family – mostly his daughter Sarah. 4/5
- The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith. The action takes place in three ‘theatres’ – Amsterdam, early 1600s: New York 1958: and Sydney 2000. Sara de Vos and her husband Barent are painters during what later becomes known as the Golden Age of Dutch painting. Their beloved only child is taken by the Plague. To assuage her grief, Sara paints something that is now reverberating down the centuries in surprising ways. Riveting read, totally recommended.
- Nutshell by Ian MacEwan. Imagine an unborn baby boy, upside down in his mother’s birth canal because D-Day is near, listening to all that goes on in the outside world, which shortly he will enter, and not liking what he hears. His mother and her lover plotting to do away with his father! This baby is seriously displeased. He thinks in majestic prose, with Shakespearean flair. The humour is dark, but this is finest example of MacEwan’s linguistic bravura I’ve ever seen.
- The Good Guy by Susan Beale. Here’s another novel with a baby close to its epicentre, in a more roundabout way. Ted needs to be admired, so when wife Abigail doesn’t provide enough of this he finds his way to Penny, who does. Ted tries to live two lives in parallel, with more lies than you can poke a stick at. Beale manages this subject well, by situating herself at a slightly ironic distance from the characters. I liked this one a lot. It’s her first published novel.
- The Fields by Kevin Maher – there were parts of this book that I really enjoyed, parts that made me think, parts that needed to be shared and then parts that were utterly absurd. If you enjoy the Irish fiction genre, it covers all those bases but be prepared to go where you have never been before. 3 stars
A Few of the Girls by Maeve Binchy – I keep picking this one up and putting it down after reading only 1 or 2 stories – only because I want to savour them and not rush them. Each short story in this collection is a gem. 5 stars.
- A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon. This book has inspired me to look at what is important – what would I keep? And to take it one step further (as it did in the book) and capture my 100 moments of 2017. 4 stars
- Bittersweet by Colleen McCulloch – I love a good saga, spanning several decades and involving sisters. Great read and set in the Depression era of Australia. 4 stars
- The Promise by Jamie Zimmerman. I listened to this one on Talking Book – not sure if I could have read it. It really went there with the background to being in the army and the toll it takes on those around you. Jamie is an Australian Commando and outlines Australia’s involvement in the middle east. Worth reading if you want to know. 4 stars
- The Fabulously Fashionable Life of Isabelle Bookbinder by Holly McQueen – If you love chicklit, a hopeless heroine, great characters and a story that works out in the end, then this is for you. 3 stars
- The Travelling bag by Susan Hill – this is a collection of ghostly short stories. Susan Hill is great at creating a creepy atmosphere and is somewhat Dickensian in her telling. 3 ½ stars
- Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell – Maxwell’s tale of a short year with otter, Mijbil, on a secluded property on the west coast of Scotland is just glorious and had me laughing and weeping by turns. Maxwell was a tortured soul and the next two books in the trilogy demonstrate that clearly. This first one scores 5 stars for me though.
- Line of Fire by Ian Townsend – Townsend explores the little known story of Australian ex-pats caught in Rabaul , New Britain in Papua New Guinea as the Japanese army advances in 1942. Among those who surrender to the Japanese after hiding out in the hills for several months are 11 year old Dickie Manson, his mother Marjorie, his step-father Ted Harvey and his uncle. Unbelievably, Dickie and his family are executed for spying – I’m not spoiling the plot here, it’s all there right from the start. 4 stars
- Tulip by Celine Marchbank – a beautiful book of photographs taken by Celine Marchbank in the last year of her mother’s life. 4 stars