What Library Staff are Reading – December

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas from the Blue Mountains Library staff.

Winter by Knausgård, Karl Ove. – I will read anything by this author, anywhere, anytime. 4/5

The righteous mind: why good people are divided by politics and religion by Haidt, Jonathan – This author presents a very plausible theory with good research evidence to explain that subtitle. It is very readable. 5/5

Into the heart of Tasmania: a search for human antiquity by Taylor, Rebe -If you are keen on the archaeology of the earliest people of Tasmania this book is very interesting, and it is written in biographical style about key players in the field, from the 19thC and the 20-21stC. It wanders into biographical detail of the 19thC collector beyond the stated topic, so as a reader I found myself wondering for a while what the book was really about, but it returns to its topic. 3/5

The Happy Life: the Search for contentment by Malouf, David – A beautifully written essay, with responses from other authors. 3/5

The tenth muse by Chung, Catherine. – A fiction that explores the choices and dilemmas of a woman in a mathematical career – the tension between achievement and love and the frustration of others appropriating discovery, and the glory that goes with it. 5/5

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee (4/5 stars) – This is a lovely magical tale, beautifully written, about a twelve year old girl who goes on a magical quest to save London. You can see that the author has been  influenced heavily by J.K. Rowling and even Neil Gaiman, but it is still a really enjoyable story. I’m going to read more of this author.

Knock Three Times by Cressida Cowell (4/5 stars) – I enjoyed the third instalment in the Wizard of Once In this book Wish, Xar and Bodkin are searching for the ingredients to a spell that will get rid of Witches. It felt sluggish in sections, but overall it was a fun adventure and I’m looking forward to book number four. Hopefully there won’t be too many books in this series, as I’m eager to find out the ending to this tale.

The Art of Growing Up by John Marsden (3/5 stars) – I felt that this would be an interesting and controversial book to read and I wasn’t disappointed. With terms such as ‘toxic parenting’ thrown about in the media, I was curious to see what John Marsden thought of the many varied parenting styles he would have come across and observed in his vast experience as a teacher and Principal. The first section of the book was very interesting, and somewhat confronting. However, the book then turned into more of an English essay with examples of characters and quotes from texts he has read relating to his topic points. I found myself skimming these sections. I’m happy to have read the book and reflect on my own parenting style and ways that I can improve certain things, as well as seeing the validity in a lot of the points that he is making. But no doubt there will be many parents out there who strongly disagree to the arguments that he makes.

The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (4.5/5 stars) – How amazing that this book is based upon a true story – a very emotionally moving story. War and genocide are indescribably horrific.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (2.5/5 stars) – I was disappointed with this sequel to Carry On, which I had thoroughly enjoyed. It was too young adult angst for me.

The Girl on the Page by John Purcell – I was expecting great things but I did not enjoy these characters.  Good concept – hard to read. 2 stars
https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/books/book-insider-lifts-curtain-on-publishing-world-20180919-p504n0.html

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon – Plugging away at this series but I actually found this book hard to read as it was no longer based in historical Scotland or England but in pioneering America.  I am looking forward to the next book and I hope it is my reward for struggling through this one. 3 stars https://outlander.fandom.com/wiki/Drums_of_Autumn

I took this month to indulge my inner child and really enjoyed a picture book called The Good Egg. This sent me on a mission to read all the Jory John books that we had in the library. I’ve enjoyed all of them but The Good Egg was still my favourite. 5 toast soldiers out of 5.

On a very different note I’m currently reading a non-fiction book called The gift of asking : a woman’s guide to creating personal power by Kemi Nekvapil. This was recommended by a Blaxland borrower as a Purchase Suggestion. A little confronting in parts but so far a very worthwhile read.

I’ve recently read Tell Me Why by Archie Roach this is a brilliant autobiography of an extraordinary life. It’s one of those stories that I think all Aussies should read, it gives a sense of what it takes to come back from being part of the stolen generation, it’s a very honest, no holds barred read with a really strong and gentle storytelling voice. 4/5

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo was a fascinating read, telling stories of many, somewhat related, lives of women and families of African and Caribbean heritage in Great Britain, going backwards and forwards in history. 3.5/5

The Yield by Tara June Winch was another fabulous read, a story of an Aboriginal family in western NSW, again  spreading the story from past to present, celebrating survival and mourning losses. 3.5/5

I have read The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I got in early with this one, and snagged a copy before the Booker was announced. I enjoyed it, and polished it off in a couple of days, but I am surprised by the Booker win. It feels like receiving a present from the author, with a largely happy ending; a gift for putting up with the brutality of the first book, and the even worse TV series (which I could not continue with, despite thinking it was good.) Offred’s story is indirectly wrapped up, being told through 3 voices, two of whom at least we know will make it to the end, as they were there to tell their own stories. This isn’t a spoiler by the way! Very readable, with a suspiciously fairy tale like ending. I am waiting for the next instalment that reveals all of these documents are false. 4/5

 I also read Just one damn thing after another by Jodi Taylor. This is a light and vaguely comic time travel series recommended by a patron. 2.5/5 stars, as I am not in a hurry to read the next one.

I listened to The road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson on rbDigital. Perhaps a little disjointed compared to some of his other travel books, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was suitable road trip fodder. 3/5

What do our scores mean?

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

What do our scores mean?

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

 

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Alison’s Picks – December

 

Only: a singular memoir by Caroline Baum. Baum is the only child of Austrian parents who were traumatised by their Jewish family’s experiences during the Hitler regime, and on settling in England felt driven to make the best life they could: to show by their conspicuous consumption that they were successful.  That driven-ness was a constant leitmotif in the life of young Caroline. Her father takes up much of the psychic space. He is bullying, capricious, highly intelligent, an enthusiast, an aesthete, a complex person altogether. The issue that hangs in the air for me, having listened to Baum reading her memoir, is the extent to which the trauma experienced by one generation is visited on the next. The disempowerment and cruelty to which Jewish people were subjected led many of them, I imagine, to over-compensate, once free. Young Caroline carried the heavy weight of that, embedded though she was in material opulence. This is an honest and compelling memoir.

 

The Bad Mothers’ Book Club by Keris Stainton. The focus here is on young women who are raising children, and the kinds of lives they lead. The political manoeuvring between the women, and their husbands, is amusing, and telling. Having read it and quite enjoyed it, I find I am ready to confront a possible prejudice that exists both in the wider community and in my own head. Is this classified as ‘chick lit’? In other words, is it light, entertaining and therefore without substance? Do I detect a tendency to dismiss books like this that deal with women’s lives? These women face issues that trouble them; they feel endlessly judged by all and sundry; they would die for their kids notwithstanding that those kids demand every ounce of their mothers’ energy and time. It’s hard, to do what they have chosen to do.

Stainton pulls no punches. She shows how each woman does things that hurt others, and that cause them to feel ashamed and confused. There are some ugly and visceral truths. Only with toughness of spirit do they find a way through the wood. If there is, in the reading community, a covert disrespect for novels that focus on the domestic rather than the broader socio-political – we need a reminder: home is the acorn, society is the tree.

 

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eAudio of the Month – December

Enjoy this great new eAudio title from Borrowbox. Head to the catalogue or straight to Borrowbox to browse and borrow from our fabulous collection.

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – November

Best Read: The Forgotten Letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon becomes her refuge. 2018. Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting in the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornish coast. When a violent storm forces her to take shelter on a far-flung island, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.

Crime: The Rumour by Lesley Kara

Careless talk wrecks lives… When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back… Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea. Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman. So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

Australian Author: The Homestead on the River by Rosie Mackenzie 

In stark contrast to her own childhood during the last days of the Raj in India, the spectacular beauty surrounding their home, Rathgarven in Ireland has proven to be a happy place for Kathleen O’Sullivan and her husband, James, to raise their four children. But Kathleen is no stranger to heartbreak, and when the family is faced with losing everything, she knows they will need to adapt to survive. Even if that means leaving their beloved home and moving to Australia to start afresh. Lillie O’Sullivan knows that her mother and father haven’t been entirely truthful about the reasons for their move to Australia. But as they settle into their new home in rural New South Wales she is willing to give it a chance. That is, until the secrets her parents have kept for so long finally catch up with them. Secrets that have the power to destroy their family and ruin their future. From the vibrant colours of India to the meadows of Ireland to the harsh but beautiful Australian land, a family fight for their future.

General: At the Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postorino

Forced to risk her life every day as a taster at Hitler’s secret headquarters, Rosa and a growing sisterhood of involuntary women conscripts navigate Nazi fanatics, an SS guard’s unwanted attentions, and the escalating war.

Thriller: Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

The Last Time I Lied follows a young woman as she returns to her childhood summer camp to uncover the truth about a tragedy that happened there fifteen years ago. Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she–or anyone–saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips. Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings–massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. The paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the socialite and wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale. When Francesca implores her to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor, Emma sees an opportunity to try to find out what really happened to her friends. Yet it’s immediately clear that all is not right at Camp Nightingale. Already haunted by memories from fifteen years ago, Emma discovers a security camera pointed directly at her cabin, mounting mistrust from Francesca and, most disturbing of all, cryptic clues Vivian left behind about the camp’s twisted origins. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing threats from both man and nature in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale, the more she realizes it may come at a deadly price.

Thriller: Judgement by Joseph Finder

It was nothing more than a one-night stand. Juliana Brody, a judge in the Superior Court of Massachusetts, is rumored to be in consideration for the federal circuit, maybe someday the highest court in the land. At a conference in a Chicago hotel, she meets a gentle, vulnerable man and in a moment of weakness has an unforgettable night with him. They part with an explicit understanding that this must never happen again. But back home in Boston, it becomes clear that this was no random encounter. The man from Chicago proves to have an integral role in a case she’s presiding over–a sex-discrimination case that’s received national attention. Juliana discovers that she’s been entrapped, her night of infidelity captured on video. Strings are being pulled in high places, a terrifying unfolding conspiracy that will turn her life upside down. But soon it becomes clear that personal humiliation, even the possible destruction of her career, are the least of her concerns, as her own life and the lives of her family are put in mortal jeopardy. In the end, turning the tables on her adversaries will require her to be as ruthless as they are”–

Saga/Romance: The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa

Based on the true story of the Nazi massacre of a French village in 1944, a tale of love and redemption from the bestselling author of The German Girl. New York City, 2015: Elise Duval, eighty years old, receives a phone call from a woman recently arrived from Cuba bearing messages from a time and country that she’s long forgotten. A French Catholic who arrived in new York after World War II, Elise and her world are forever changed when the woman arrives with letters written to Elise from her mother in German during the war, unravelling more than seven decades of secrets. Berlin, 1939: Bookstore owner and recent widow Amanda Sternberg is fleeing Nazi Germany with her two young daughters, heading towards unoccupied France. She arrives in Haute-Vienne with only one of her girls. Their freedom is short-lived and soon they are taken to a labour camp. Inspired by one of the most shocking atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II, the 1944 massacre of all the inhabitants of the village of Oradour-Sur-Glane in the south of France, The Daughter’s Tale is a family saga of love, survival and hope against all odds.

eAudio Books

BorrowBox: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

In the midst of war, he found love
In the midst of darkness, he found courage
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape.

Afra has lost her sight, and so they embark on a periluosjourney towards an uncertain future in Britain. As they travel, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is his beekeeper cousin Mustafa, who is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

Nuri and Afra set off through a broken world, on a dangerous journey in which they will confront the pain of their unfathomable loss, and in doing so find a way back to each other again.

‘This is a novel of international significance. Courageous, provocative, haunting, it will open our eyes.’ Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

RBDigital:  The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell 

 Two summers, decades apart. Two women whose lives are forever entwined. And a house that holds the secrets that could free them both. Lillian’s marriage to Charles Oberon has not turned out the way she thought it would. To her it seems she is just another beautiful object captured within the walls of Cloudesley, her husband’s Chilterns manor house. But, with a young step-son and a sister to care for, Lillian accepts there is no way out. Then Charles makes an arrangement with an enigmatic artist visiting their home and her world is turned on its head. Maggie Oberon ran from the hurt and resentment she caused. Half a world away, in Australia, it was easier to forget. But when her grandmother, Lillian, falls ill she must head back to Cloudesley. Forced to face her past, she learns that all she thought was real, all that she held so close, was never as it seemed. An utterly compelling story of secrets, betrayals and the consequences of a long-ago summer.

 

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eBooks, eMagazines & eAudio from Blue Mountains library

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Good Reading Magazine – November 2019

The November issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy through Blue Mountains Library!

This Month

You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster

He’s hiding a dark secret … But so is she.
Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her. She was his first crush, his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend. Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared under a darkening cloud of suspicion, and now he’s back for the inquest into Lizzie’s death – intent on telling his side of the story. As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce on holiday. They fall for each other fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken – she carries a terrible secret of her own. Is the truth worth telling if it will destroy everything?

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood

Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. Can they survive together without her?

They are Jude, a former restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed academic, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work. The grieving women gather for Christmas at Sylvie’s old beach house not for festivities, but to clean the place out before it is sold. Without Sylvie to maintain the group’s equilibrium, frustrations build and painful memories press in. Fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – and threatens to sweep away their friendship for good.

Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas

Christos Tsiolkas’ stunning new novel Damascus is a work of soaring ambition and achievement, of immense power and epic scope. Based around the gospels and letters of St Paul, and focusing on characters one and two generations on from the death of Christ, as well as Paul (Saul) himself, Damascus explores the themes that have always obsessed Tsiolkas as a writer: class, religion, masculinity, patriarchy, colonisation, exile; the ways in which nations, societies, communities, families and individuals are united and divided – it’s all here, the contemporary and urgent questions, perennial concerns made vivid and visceral.

True West by David Whish-Wilson

Western Australia, 1988. After betraying the Knights bikie gang, 17-year-old Lee Southern flees to the city with nothing left to lose.
Working as a rogue tow truck driver in Perth, he is captured by right-wing extremists whose combination of seduction and blackmail keeps him on the wrong side of the law and under their control. As the true nature of what drives his captors unfolds, Lee becomes an unwilling participant in a breathtakingly ambitious plot – and a cold-blooded crime that will show just how much he, and everyone else, still has to lose.

The Last Paradise by Di Morrissey

Grace has the perfect life: a job she loves, a beautiful daughter and a rich, successful husband. But one night, when their world falls apart in a shocking disaster, Grace suddenly sees what she couldn’t admit – her marriage and her husband are a fraud.

With the life she knew in tatters, she takes an assignment promoting the launch of a unique luxury hotel, hidden in a stunning, untouched oasis in the heart of tourist-crazed Bali.Here, in this last paradise, Grace gathers the strength to take charge of her world. And, inspired by a woman’s story from long ago, she discovers a path to a future she’d never dared to imagine . . .

Latest podcasts

Best-selling author and former Los Angeles times reporter Michael Connelly has a soft spot for Hollywood. In this episode, Gregg Dobbs talks with Connelly about the history of LA crime fiction, and how it inspired his latest Ballard & Bosch tale The Night Fire.

Award-winning author of The Museum of Modern Love, Heather Rose, is a sixth-generation Tasmanian. In this episode, Emma Harvey sits down with Heather to talk about the importance of engaging with those we disagree with, how she learned to rid ego and romanticism from her craft, and why her explosive new satire Bruny is proving more prophetic by the day.

Invisible Boys is the debut novel of WA author Holden Sheppard, which draws upon his adolescence growing up as a gay man in the regional town of Geraldton. In this episode, Holden chats to Max Lewis about the trials and tribulations of writing such a personal book, looking back on the same-sex marriage plebiscite two years on, and what he would say to a young man struggling with his sexuality.

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

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What Library Staff are Reading – November

Marguerite Gérard – Lady Reading in an Interior

The erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie – this is a misery memoir with a difference.  It’s a misery memoir with humour and I awarded it a rare 5 stars.  This is the story of the author’s relationship with her very difficult mother.  The style might  not be to everyone’s taste with the story not necessarily told linearly but, a product of a very difficult mother myself, I could both relate and thank my lucky stars my mother wasn’t quite THAT difficult.

Everybody died, so I got a dog by Emily Dean – another misery memoir with humour, although not as much as I’d anticipated.  Emily Dean has a very interesting podcast called Walking the dog where she interviews British celebs, mostly comedians, as they walk a dog (either their own, or a borrowed on).  4 stars

Another 4 stars for Too much lip by Melissa Lucashenko.  This is a book group read and we are still to discuss it.  I was involved in the story from the get-go.  This is a story of an aboriginal family in northern NSW and their fights and dramas between each other, and with the wider and white community around them.  The book is peppered with aboriginal language which I loved.  It reminded me of Hannah Kent’s The good people in that the language is used without a glossary to slow you up, you just have to intuit what the word might mean.

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon – continuing the Outlander saga – this is book three in the series.  Set mostly in the Americas, we get to catch up with the great love affair of Claire and Jamie.  Not as exciting as previous volumes but still a great book all the same.  3 stars

Tin Man by Sarah Winman – another book group read which I absolutely loved.  It’s about the relationship between two boys as they grow into men, told by each of the men in turn. I sobbed at the end and held the book to my heart.  That doesn’t happen often (the heart bit, I sob copiously at the slightest provocation). 5 stars

The body: a guide for occupants by Bill Bryson – as he did in his book, Home, Bryson takes a tour round the body giving fascinating snippets of history of medicine.  4 stars

Moving by Jenny Éclair – Jenny Éclair is a British comedian and was in the Grumpy Old Women series.  I listen to her and Judith Holder in their podcast Older and Wider and thought I’d give her fiction a go.  This is a story about family relationships told with a long, wide story arc. Not at all funny but very enjoyable. 4 stars

The Lebs by Michael Mohammed – I listened to this audiobook on the RBDigital app.  It’s a fictionalised account of life for a Lebanese-Australian schoolboy.  Gritty and fascinating and beautifully read by Hazem Shammas. 4 stars

Beekeeping for beginners by Laurie R King – a short story really, lasting just over an hour on RBDigital.  Mary Russell, a young girl, meets Sherlock Holmes on a cliff top just as he is preparing to commit suicide.  Mary is in danger and Holmes comes to the rescue. 3 ½ stars

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. I got in early with this one, and snagged a copy before the Booker was announced. I enjoyed it, and polished it off in a couple of days, but I am surprised by the Booker win. It feels like receiving a present from the author, with a largely happy ending; a gift for putting up with the brutality of the first book, and the even worse TV series (which I could not continue with, despite thinking it was good.) Offred’s story is indirectly wrapped up, being told through 3 voices, two of whom at least we know will make it to the end, as they were there to tell their own stories. This isn’t a spoiler by the way! Very readable, with a suspiciously fairy tale like ending. I am waiting for the next installment that reveals all of these documents are false. 4/5

 I also read Just one damn thing after another by Jodi Taylor. This is a light and vaguely comic time travel series recommended by a patron. 2.5/5 stars, as I am not in a hurry to read the next one.

I listened to The road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson on rbDigital. Perhaps a little disjointed compared to some of his other travel books, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was suitable road trip fodder. 3/5

What do our scores mean?

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

What do our scores mean?

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

 

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Alison’s Picks – November

 

See What You Made Me Do by Jess Hill. In 2014, young Luke Batty was bashed to death, in broad daylight, by his father. The nation was shocked into having a closer look at domestic abuse, which had tended to be relegated to the too-hard basket. Jess Hill made the courageous decision to examine as much factual material as she could find on this subject, to better understand what was actually going on.

Okay, nobody reads about domestic abuse for fun. So buckle up and be prepared, if you read this one, to find out about these things:

  • The various acts that constitute abuse
  • The nature of the abusive mind
  • The central importance in male lives of shame, as a motivating factor
  • How children are impacted by domestic abuse
  • When women use violence
  • Fixing it.

The book is impressive in that it looks dispassionately at evidence across a broad front, so the conclusions it draws can be trusted. I also think that it will give clarity and recognition to the many who are currently suffering under a regime of abuse.

The Orchardist’s Daughter by Karen Viggers. And it’s odd, how sometimes the books you are reading align themselves on an axis you weren’t aware was there. Seventeen-year-old Miki lives with her older brother Kurt, in a small Tasmanian town on the edge of old-growth forest. The house they had lived in with their orchardist parents had accidentally burned down, taking the parents with it; so now Miki and Kurt run a takeaway café in town. Miki has never had the opportunity to go to school; she was home-schooled by ultra-religious parents who thought she should be ‘protected’ from the world at large. This virtual imprisonment continues, with Kurt (surly, controlling and secretive) as her jailer. But she reads, and thinks, and strives not to be the victim that her life so far has set her up to be. Meanwhile, town politics is dominated by the loggers-versus-Greenies conflict, sadly a constant theme in Tasmania. People in the community find their lives skewed by it, but as in any town, there are cross-currents, as everyone looks for ways to negotiate their lives. I like the way Viggers manages the several thematic threads interweaving here. And I like the compassion that links all together.

 

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