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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

New Book Club Title for July

Attention all Book Clubs! The library has a new addition to our book club kit collection:

 The Light Between Oceans

Local book clubs can apply for a special Book Club membership card and use this to reserve and borrow a set of books for the club. The kits are loaned for a 6 week period, allowing you all plenty of time to read, discuss and return the books.

Kits include:

    * 8 copies of a title

    * Fact sheets about the book and author

    * Book reviews

    * Discussion questions


For more information, ask Library staff or see our catalogue which has downloadable fact sheets.

Author Talk – Mark Tedeschi, QC

Murder at Myall Creek : the trial that defined a nation

by Mark Tedeschi QC

The most sensational trial of mass murder in Australia’s legal history occurred in 1838 when eleven convicts and former convicts were put on trial for the murder of 28 aboriginal men, women and children at Myall Creek. The trial created enormous controversy at the time because it was virtually unknown for Europeans to be charged with the murder of Aboriginals. The prosecutor, and unsung hero of the case, was John Hubert Plunkett, the Attorney General of New South Wales.  Plunkett was a man mired in contradictions and controversy whose ideology set him apart from mainstream colonial society. The Myall Creek massacre trial proved to be his greatest test as it pitted his forensic skills and belief in the equality of all people before the law and against the  combined forces of the free settlers, squatters, military, emancipists, the newspapers, and even convicts.

In the deeply moving and page-turning account, Mark Tedeschi QC tells the story of the man who arguably did more to create modern-day civil rights in Australia than anyone else before or since. If Governor Macquarie was the architect of colonial Australia, then Plunkett was its visionary. Whilst Macquarie is remembered for his building projects and expanding the boundaries of the colony, Plunkett remains virtually unknown. Yet in his 24 years as Solicitor General and Attorney General of New South Wales Tedeschi argues that Plunkett did more to shape the future of modern-day Australian political, legal and educational institutions than anyone else in his day.


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