Author Archives: Librarians with Altitude

Librarian’s Choice – August

Have you ever asked your librarian for a book recommendation? Well here are the top 10 favourite books for August as voted by librarians across Australia on the Librarians’s Choice website.

1. The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green

In 1978 the Northern Territory has begun to self-govern. Cyclone Tracy is a recent memory and telephones not yet a fixture on the cattle stations dominating the rugged outback. Life is hard and people are isolated. But they find ways to connect. Five different women come together for a book club, united by one need: to overcome the vast distances of Australia’s Top End with friendship, tears, laughter, books and love.

2. Crossing the lines by Sulari Gentill

When Madeleine d’Leon conjures Ned McGinnity as the hero in her latest crime novel, she makes him a serious writer simply because the irony of a protagonist who’d never lower himself to read the story in which he stars, amuses her. When Ned McGinnity creates Madeleine d’Leon, she is his literary device, a writer of detective ction who is herself a mystery to be unravelled. As Ned and Madeleine play out their own lives while writing the other’s story, they nd themselves crossing the lines that divide the real and the imagined. This is a story about two people trying to hold onto each other beyond reality.

3. The beautiful miscellaneous by Dominic Smith

Nathan Nelson is the average son of a genius. His father, a physicist of small renown, has prodded him toward greatness from an early age—enrolling him in whiz kid summer camps, taking him to the icy tundra of Canada to track a solar eclipse, and teaching him college algebra. But despite Samuel Nelson’s efforts, Nathan remains ordinary.

4. Every lie I’ve ever told by Rosie Waterland (memoir)

It was all going so well for Rosie Waterland. Until it wasn’t. Until, shockingly, something awful happened and Rosie went into agonising free fall. Until late one evening she found herself in a hospital emergency bed, trembling and hooked to a drip. Over the course of that long, painful night, she kept thinking about how ironic it was, that right in the middle of writing a book about lies, she’d ended up telling the most significant lie of all. A raw, beautiful, sad, shocking – and very, very funny – memoir of all the lies we tell others and the lies we tell ourselves.

5. The good daughter by Karin Slaughter

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

6. The making of Christina by Meredith Jaffe

Interior designer Christina Clemente is caught off guard by an intense affair with her charismatic client, Jackson Plummer. He quickly becomes the cure to Christina’s loneliness and a surrogate father to her young daughter Bianca. When Jackson suggests moving to a rundown farm in the mountains, Christina soon forgets her initial hesitation and absorbs herself in restoring the rambling century-old house, Bartholemews Run, becoming obsessed with solving its mysterious history. But while living on the isolated farm, her once effervescent child transforms into a quiet sullen teenager and Christina increasingly struggles to connect with her. Because Bianca has a secret. And the monstrous truth threatens to destroy them all.

7. Taboo by Kim Scott

A group of Noongar people who revisit, for the first time in many decades, a taboo place: the site of a massacre that followed the assassination, by these Noongar’s descendants, of a white man who had stolen a black woman. They come at the invitation of Dan Horton, the elderly owner of the farm on which the massacres unfolded. He hopes that by hosting the group he will satisfy his wife’s dying wishes and cleanse some moral stain from the ground on which he and his family have lived for generations. But the sins of the past will not be so easily expunged.

8. How to stop time by Matt Haig

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love. How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

9. On the Java Ridge by Jock Serong

On the Java Ridge, skipper Isi Natoli and a group of Australian surf tourists are anchored beside an idyllic reef off the Indonesian island of Dana. In the Canberra office of Cassius Calvert, Minister for Border Integrity, a Federal election looms and (not coincidentally) a hardline new policy is being announced regarding maritime assistance to asylum-seeker vessels in distress. A few kilometres away from Dana, the Takalar is having engine trouble. Among the passengers fleeing from persecution are Roya and her mother, and Roya’s unborn sister. The storm now closing in on the Takalar and the Java Ridge will mean catastrophe for them all.

10. Because of you by Pip Harry (Young Adult)

Tiny is homeless. Nola has everything she could ask for. They meet when Nola is forced into volunteer work for the writers’ group at the homeless shelter where Tiny is staying, and at first it seems impossible that two people who are so different could ever be friends. But despite her initial prejudice, Nola quickly learns that there isn’t much separating her from the people who live on the streets. And Tiny begins to see that falling down doesn’t mean you never get back up. Because of You is a story about homelessness, prejudice and the power of words to provide a little hope. At its heart is the friendship between Tiny and Nola, and how this relationship changes both girls at the core. Pip Harry doesn’t shy away from some heavy topics—Tiny’s story is heartbreaking and the details about life on the streets of Sydney is horrifying—but Because of You is ultimately a hopeful story about human resilience and the life-changing power of discovering your best friend.

Save Power Kits at the Library

Have you ever wondered how much power your appliances are using? Where those draughts are coming in from? Just how long you are spending in the shower? The library has a kit to help you answer those questions.

Save Power Kits come with a number of tools to help you make informed decisions about the amount of power that is being used around the home. You may be surprised to discover that just having your appliances plugged in is costing you money. Washing machines, chargers (even when nothing is connected to them), TVs and many other appliances are drawing power if not turned off at the wall. Included in the kit is the clever Power Mate Lite, which will calculate the cost of running your appliances. Just enter the amount you pay for you electricity, plug it in, and it will work out the rest.

The Save Power Kits come in a specially fitted out case and contains six items:

  • A ‘How to Use the Power Kit’ book
  • Power Mate Lite which measures the amount of power used by an electrical appliance and estimates how much that appliance would cost to run for a specified amount of time
  • Stopwatch to time yourself in the shower
  • Infrared thermometer to measure the surface temperature of objects from a distance so heat lost/gained can be measured
  • Thermometer (ordinary one) to measure room, fridge and freezer temperatures
  • Compass to identify north and west facing rooms that get more warmth from the sun.

In addition, each borrower will get a worksheet and an Action Plan for future action in the home to reduce power consumption.

The kits are a great way to work out your energy use, but they are also a lot of fun!

The Save Power Kits can be borrowed for 3 weeks and can be put on Hold like other library materials.

Study Workshops for HSC Students

Blue Mountains Library is excited to be able to tell you all that we are collaborating with WordSmiths, local tutors/teachers, to provide a short series of FREE workshops for HSC students.

There will be three workshops over three consecutive weeks at Springwood and Katoomba Libraries.  Places at each workshop are limited to 20 students.

The Springwood Library workshops are on Monday evenings from 5:30pm-7:30pm on Monday 21st  August, 28th August and 4th September. As this workshop is taking place after our normal opening hours, the students should arrive 10 mins beforehand and will be asked to stay until the very end of the workshop.

The Katoomba Library workshops are on Saturdays from 11am-1pm on Saturday 2nd, 9th and 16th September.

Bookings can be made at any Library branch in person or over the phone.

What Library Staff are Reading – August

The Daffodils have spoken – spring is just around the corner. While some of us may now be tempted outdoors, the wise know that The Reading Season is not quite over. Here is a selection of titles that library staff have been reading recently.

One of us is lying by  Karen M. McManus – This book is an interesting take of a who done it. The story is based around the 4 teenagers that are suspected of murder. The  4 teenagers have detention with another teenager, whose water during detention is “poisoned” and dies via allergic reaction. The story is interesting as the story writes from all 4 perspectives and keeps you guessing for quite a bit! I will say that myself and my book club all figured it out WAY before the characters did, but it was still an interesting read if not a little predictable. It’s got drama, romance, and a little action thrown into a big mystery. It was an interesting read but I probably won’t be returning to this again any time soon. 3/5

Steal like an artist : 10 things nobody told you about being creative Show your work! : 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered both by Austen Kleon – both have both really got my cylinders firing. Now that I’ve stolen some of his fantastic ideas and I’m slightly encouraged to show my work, I’ll be sneaking in time for creativity wherever I possibly can. I’m even inspired to get up an hour earlier each morning to get in some time before the rest of the household wakes up. This is balanced by the fact that I go to bed about 3 hours earlier with an electric blanket, a book and a spread of cats. I’ve just begun reading his original book, Newspaper Blackout, which was what inspired me to order in all 3 of his titles for the library. I have myself a permanent marker and I’m not afraid to use it. The Gazette never read so well!

The strange library – by Murakami – just didn’t get it at all.  1/5

Whatever happened to inter-racial love? – by Kathleen Collins – a book of short stories.  I am generally not a fan of short stories so don’t really know why I gave this one a go. I didn’t like it. 1/5

A dog’s purpose – by Bruce Cameron.  Read this one because the picture on the front cover was just soooooo cute.  I loved it!  It should have come with a warning label though as I must have gone through several boxes of tissues while reading it.  5/5

Letters to Alice, on first reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon – I read this many years ago, but have just re-read it. Weldon’s fiction is a little too blistering for this faint-hearted reader, but Letters to Alice is an enchanting stroll through the country of literature by one who most comfortably lives there, and knows its highways and byways. Aunty Fay writes letters to her niece about writing. I will keep revisiting this book down the years, I suspect.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – You all know the story; Eliza, Mr Darcy, balls, perfidy, shameful younger sisters and embarrassing mothers… but in case you’ve forgotten the architecture of Austen’s language – have another look. I am always bowled over by the musicality of her prose, its rise and fall, its poise, its perfect grammar!

Outline by Rachel Cusk – A terrific book. These publishers’ notes give a concise picture of what it does:

Rachel Cusk’s Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and stark, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing during one oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner and discourse. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbour from the plane.
The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

I’ve gone back to the beginning of Game of Thrones by George RR Martin.  I got to about Book 4 last time and I gave up because of the brutality but having watched some episodes on Youtube I’ve realised the book is better hence the restart and I’m devouring it.

I also read Harp in the South by Ruth Park for my book group.  It is definitely well written but some of the ‘brutal’ bits got to me again.

The Orkneyinga Saga (pub. c. 1230)- this is in preparation for my upcoming trip to Scotland. Now I know that Sigurd the Mighty killed Máel Brigte the Bucktoothed of Scotland through treachery on the battlefield, but Sigurd got what for when he scratched his leg on the Scottish earl’s tooth, (his opponent’s head having been hung from Sigurd’s saddle), and the wound turned septic and killed him. He was only the second earl of Orkney, and I still have several to go before I reach the end.

Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern – I went on a bit of a Cecilia Ahern binge and this was the first one I read.  A beautiful story that captures fame and reality television and love.  4/5

The Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern – If you like family sagas and mysteries then this is right up your alley.  I learnt more about marbles than I ever needed to!   4/5

Don’t Tell Mum I work on the rigs (she thinks I am a piano player in a whorehouse) by Paul Carter –  Aimed at a male audience with too many blokey stories that might work at the pub but did not translate well to print.   2/5

Prince by Matt Thorne – If you want to learn more about the music behind the man then this is the book for you.  Matt Thorne is a music journalist so concentrated on the music rather than the social side of Prince.  Really interesting read. 3/5

Weightless by Sarah Bannon – A timely and on-the-pulse book about highschool bullying. If you have teenagers, read this book. 4/5

Raw Spirit by Iain Banks – A raucous read of visiting Scotch Whiskey distilleries in Scotland – purely to taste of course! 3/5

The Sea Detective by Mark Douglas-Home –Set in Edinburgh which is always a draw-card for me, this novel is a bit different from the usual Tartan Noir in that Cal McGill, the eponymous Sea Detective, is an expert on how sea currents and tides move objects about and mostly consults for corporations who have lost containers overboard and want to know what happened to them.  Here he is drawn into an investigation after feet are found washed up on beaches on the east coast of Scotland. A complex plot involving Cal’s own family history, people smuggling and political activism makes a compelling read.  It is the first in the Sea Detective series.  I gave it 4/5

Ice Cold Alice by C P Wilson – another Tartan Noir, also set in Edinburgh. Alice is a serial killer who is getting rid of men who abuse their families and giving their families the opportunity to disappear to a new life.  DI Kathy McGuire is trying to track her down. The narrative flips between the present day and about 15 years ago for both characters. Definitely not for lovers of Cosy Detective novels, this had just enough to keep me turning the pages so I could find out what happens, but only just. Again, this is the first in a series called Tequila Mockingbird. Scored 3/5

So High a Blood: the life of Margaret, Countess of Lennox by Morgan Ring – Margaret Douglas was the daughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister, and her second husband, Archibald Douglas.  She was also mother of Henry, Lord Darnley who disasterously married Mary Queen of Scots and fathered James VI of Scotland.  James VI became James I of England also after the death of Elizabeth I.  This rather dry at times book follows the highs and lows of Margaret’s life – she was imprisoned several times and schemed endlessly to further her family’s dynastic fortunes.  Scored 3/5

Silly Isles by Eric Campbell – ABC Foreign Correspondent Eric Campbell has a lovely, dry sense of humour and loves to point out the absurdities of life. In this book he writes about his travels to a number of the world’s islands and takes a look a life.  A fun book to dip in and out of, it’s been my lunch time reading for a couple of weeks.  Scored 3.5/5

Carolyn’s Books of the Month – August 2017

Best Read: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

 On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin.

Non Fiction: When Breath becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

Australian Author: Barbed Wire and Cherry Blossoms by Anita Heiss

Over 1000 Japanese soldiers break out of the No.12 Prisoner of War compound on the fringes of Cowra. In the carnage, hundreds are killed, many are recaptured, and some take their own lives rather than suffer the humiliation of ongoing defeat. But one soldier, Hiroshi, manages to escape.
At nearby Erambie Station, an Aboriginal mission, Banjo Williams, father of five and proud man of his community, discovers Hiroshi, distraught and on the run. Mary, Banjo’s daughter, is intrigued by the softly spoken stranger, and charged with his care. Love blossoms between Mary and Hiroshi, and they each dream of a future together. But how long can Hiroshi be hidden safely and their bond kept a secret?

General: Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

At 32, Russell Green has it all: a stunning wife, a lovable six year-old daughter, a successful career as an advertising executive and an expansive home in Charlotte. He is living the dream, and his marriage to the bewitching Vivian is the center of that. But underneath the shiny surface of this perfect existence, fault lines are beginning to appear…and no one is more surprised than Russ when he finds every aspect of the life he took for granted turned upside down.

Thriller: My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor

Heidi and Jason aren’t like other couples. Six years ago, Heidi’s daughter was murdered. A year later, Jason’s son Barney disappeared. Their shared loss brought them together.
By chance, Heidi meets a boy she’s certain is her husband’s long-missing son – but Jason is equally convinced it’s not him. Is Heidi mad? Or is Jason hiding something? And can their fragile marriage survive Heidi’s search for the truth . . .

Thriller: The Keeper by Alastair Gunn

There is something hiding in the forest. A man is found dead near an isolated forest outside of London. When another body is discovered a few days later, DCI Antonia Hawkins knows that she must move fast. The hunt is on. With each passing day, Hawkins struggles to find a pattern in this seemingly random scattering of murders. But who is the hunter?

Saga/Romance: The Midsummer Garden by Kristy Manning

From medieval France to contemporary Tasmania, two remarkable women discover their strengths, passions and loves.Travelling between lush gardens in France, windswept coastlines of Tasmania, to Tuscan hillsides and beyond, The Midsummer Garden lures the reader on an unforgettable culinary and botanical journey.


Man Booker Prize 2017 Longlist

The longlist has been announced,

and it is time to get borrowing!

Put your copies on reserve now, and start your Man Booker reading journey. The shortlist will be announced on September 13th, with the winner announced on October 17th.


4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US)

On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson’s life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Ireland)

Two-time Man Booker Shortlisted Author Costa Award Winner Thomas McNulty, barely seventeen and having fled the Great Famine, signs up for the U.S. Army in the 1850s. With his brother in arms, John Cole, Thomas fights in the Indian Wars and, ultimately, the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships, the men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US)

Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan-UK)

In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee. They try not to notice the sound of bombs, the radio announcing new laws, the public executions.

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Ireland)

Once a year, on All Souls’ Day, it is said in Ireland that the dead may return. Solar Bones is the story of one such visit. Marcus Conway, a middle-aged engineer, turns up one afternoon at his kitchen table and considers the events that took him away and then brought him home again.

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (UK)

From the award-winning author of If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and Even the Dogs. An extraordinary novel of cumulative power and grace, Reservoir 13 explores the rhythms of the natural world and the repeated human gift for violence, unfolding over thirteen years as the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy refuse to subside.

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK)

Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary English society and one family’s precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.

The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (India)

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness takes us on a journey of many years-the story spooling outwards from the cramped neighbourhoods of Old Delhi into the burgeoning new metropolis and beyond, to the Valley of Kashmir and the forests of Central India, where war is peace and peace is war, and where, from time to time, ‘normalcy’ is declared.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US)

A novel about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War. Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan)

 From an internationally acclaimed novelist, the suspenseful and heartbreaking story of a family ripped apart by secrets and driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences. Practical-minded Isma has spent the years since her mothers death watching out for her twin brother and sister in their North London home.

Autumn by Ali Smith (UK)

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means.

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (UK)

Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time. Two brown girls dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (US)

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia and life is hellish for all the slaves. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, and they plot their escape. Matters do not go as planned – Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her – but they manage to find a station and head north.


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