2018 Stella Prize – Longlist

The Longlist has been announced, and it is time to get reading! Longlists give us exposure to some excellent books that may otherwise pass us by. Consider some of the following to get your reading year off to a good start.

The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar

A Writing Life: Helen Garner and Her Work by Bernadette Brennan

Anaesthesia: The Gift of Oblivion and the Mystery of Consciousness by Kate Cole-Adams

Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman

The Life to Come by Michelle de Kretser

This Water: Five Tales by Beverley Farmer

The Green Bell: A Memoir of Love, Madness and Poetry by Paula Keogh

An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen

The Choke by Sofie Laguna

Martin Sharp: His Life and Times by Joyce Morgan

The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

Tracker by Alexis Wright

The 2018 Stella Prize shortlist will be announced on International Women’s Day, Thursday 8 March, and the 2018 Stella Prize winner will be announced on Thursday 12 April. Read more about the Stella Prize here.

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Good Reading Magazine – February

The February issue of Good Reading magazine is ready for you to enjoy!

In this month’s edition:

Debut author Kali Napier on the toxic power of keeping secrets in The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge.

Tanya Bretherton on the brutal reality of a murdered newborn in The Suitcase Baby

The odd things that can sway our food choices in How We Eat With Our Eyes and Think With Our Stomachs.

Envisage an enriching Latin American Literary trail guided by Lonely Planet’s Culture Trails.

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

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What Library Staff are Reading

Edouard Manet – The Reader

We may not be as serious as Manet’s Reader (that is a really big book), but you just might find something below to pique your interest.

The time keeper by Mitch Albom – a nice easy read for over the Christmas/New Year break.  Score – 3.5/5

The last days of disco by David F Ross – this is the first in a series set in the early 1980s in and around Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Scotland and follows the ups and downs of a couple of lads just leaving school who are trying to set up a disco.  This may not be one I can recommend to everyone as it is quite specific to me as, at the time in question 1981-1982 I was just leaving school in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland.  I know Kilmarnock well. With the disco plot there’s lots of mentions of the music of the time too – it took me back to a happy time and place. Scored 3.5/5

The inaugural meeting of the Fairvale Ladies Book Club by Sophie Green – here’s a story about women in the outback in various towns or stations in the Northern Territory who manage to get together every so often for a book group.  The reader is introduced to the various personal dramas of each character and the plots unfold with the women finding inner strength, strength in their friendships.  This is a women’s book, the men, who appear as husbands, sons and lovers are fairly peripheral although as varied as the women themselves. Scored 3/5

The Dry and Force of Nature by Jane Harper – contemporary Australian detective novels set in Victoria which have received a lot of hype -the Hold lists are enormous.  This series features detective Aaron Falk who investigates financial crimes.  In The Dry the case is on home turf in the town he grew up in but left as a teenager after a tragedy involving him and his friends.  In the second a group of women go missing during a corporate team building bush adventure. Both books are engrossing enough, there is enough suspense to make you want to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going to happen but worth all the hype?  I scored them both 3.5/5

Queen Victoria’s matchmaking: the royal marriages that shaped Europe by Deborah Cadbury – Queen Victoria sat at the centre of a huge dynastic web with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren married and intermarried all over Europe, with varying degrees of success. Scored 3.5/5

Swapping Lives by Jane Green.  Ever wondered what it would be like to swap lives with someone for the life you think you should be living?  This is a fun story of a magazine features editor doing just that.  I loved the characters and the quirky lives they were living.  I doubt that swapping lives would be so easy and end with a bow at the end.  Good holiday read. 4/5


 Queen of the Desert by Susanna De Vries.  This was not at all what I was expecting – a warts and all biography of Daisy Bates.  This was a character that I actually grew to respect the more I heard about her thanks to the meticulous research of Susanna.  Want to hear the real Daisy Bates story and how she ended up in the WA desert making the study of aborigines her lifes work?  This is the story for you. 4/5


Rock Chicks: The hottest female rockers from the 1960s to now by Alison Stieven-Taylor.  Snippets and short stories of Rock Chicks since the 1960s.  From Janis Joplin to Pink, here are some background stories of where they came from. I also love that this talking book was narrated by Jane Clifton – herself a “rock chick” (and actress).  4/5


Artemis by Andy Weir – I’m afraid Andy is a one trick pony, as it is almost exactly the same as The Martian, except this time set on the moon, and with a few more people. 2.7/5 

The Nakano Thrift Shop by Kawakami Hiromi – a slightly melancholy slice of life novel about a woman who works in a second hand goods store in Tokyo. No dramas or plot progression, just the small tensions, ups and downs and reflections of a human being getting through her life. It was ok, but not very engrossing. 3/5 

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand (eBook) – Abysmal. Why was it translated into English? I read this on my phone on the few days I was catching the train to work. I wouldn’t have finished it if it wasn’t so short. 1.5/5 (for being short)

Persuasion by Jane Austen (eAudio) – Just something to listen to in the car. I have read it many times. 3.5/5

Shadow in the North by Philip Pullman (eAudio) – Only got snatches of this on and off as I was listening to it to get to sleep, but it did the trick. Is that good or bad? 3/5

The trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend  – The cover quote suggested that if you liked Harry Potter, then you’d like this book. I loved Harry Potter but I was disappointed with this book and got bored rather quickly, but managed to skim read to the end. There were a few interesting magical ideas to be fair, but the main character was hard to empathise with and was annoying. It was definitely no Harry Potter! 3/5

The extremely inconvenient adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty – An enjoyable tale about a ten year old girl whose parents are killed by pirates and the subsequent adventure she has in order to complete the terms of her parent’s will. 4/5

Sam’s best shot: a father and son’s life-changing journey through autism, adolescence and Africa by Dr James Best  – The author takes his teenage son who has autism on a trip to Africa to try to help him with his autism. It felt like a published personal diary of the trip rather than a constructed narrative and lacked detail in how the journey had helped Sam improve his autistic behaviours. The ending was strange and abrupt. 2.5/5

The disappeared by MR Hall – a psychological thriller, one in a series about Coroner Jenny Cooper set on the Welsh border.  In this one the mother of a British muslim man who disappeared from university almost a decade previously wants Jenny to find out what happened to her son.  He’s not the only one who went missing in similar circumstances. Some of it got quite technical about the legal and moral aspects of the work coroners do which may fascinate some but put others off. Score 3/5

The accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet – set in Saint-Louis, a real town near the French –German border, Inspector Georges Gorski is called to investigate a fatal car crash on the A35 road.  It looks like a straightforward case of a man falling asleep behind the wheel, but of course it isn’t and Inspector Gorski is intrigued by the beautiful widow and her fey son.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and, using Google Maps/Google Earth, I was able to follow the characters around town which I always enjoy. Scored 4/5

Half Wild by Pip Smith – a novelisation of the true story of Eugenia Falleni who lived as a man for many years in the early 20th century Sydney and was brought to trial for killing at least one of the women she was husband to.  I wasn’t always sure of what was happening in this story and much prefer Mark Tedeschi’s factual account. Scored 2.5/5

He by John Connolly – this is my favourite read over the Christmas break.  This is about Stan Laurel told from Stan Laurel’s point of view as an old man, frail and lonely in his apartment in Florida.  The chapters alternate between episodes in the past from Stan’s birth in Ulverston, England in 1890 and the present of the book which is the early 1960s (Stan Laurel died in 1965).  I found the story beautifully, lovingly told and thoroughly fascinating – I knew nothing of Laurel and Hardy beyond the films I’ve watched.  I had no idea of the parade of wives, or of his close relationship with Oliver Hardy which really is the core of this story.  Oliver Hardy died in  1957 and Stan Laurel (in the book at least) still misses him dreadfully. Scored 4.5/5

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi – translated from the French, this murder mystery is set in Giverny in and around Monet’s house and garden.  The story is told by three different women.  There’s a very clever plot twist at the end.  Again I followed the characters around the town on Google Maps/Earth.  This book was recommended to me by one of our borrowers proving that Readers’ Advisory is a two way street. An engrossing read and I shall pursue more titles by this author.  Score 4/5

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole – WWII and American student David writes a fan letter to Elspeth who is a poet living on Skye, Scotland.  As their letters criss cross the Atlantic they become more and more intimate with each other.  Interspersed with these letters are those of Elspeth’s daughter Margaret who is trying to find out who her father was.  A charming, easy read. Scored 4/5

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry – I have been attracted by the cover of this book for a long time and am not sure now why I didn’t read it sooner; I think I perhaps expected it would be a fantasy book which is NOT MY THING AT ALL!  Anyway, it’s more historical mystery than fantasy although there is the supernatural in it. Again, it was a pleasant read, not too taxing but engaging enough.  Scored 3.5/5

Nice work if you can get it written and narrated by Celia Imrie – this was an eaudio book that I downloaded using the BorrowBox app and which I listened to on my morning walks for several days.  This one is set in a small town on the French Riviera (my I’ve travelled near and far this holidays) where a group of ex-pat Brits live.  Some of them are trying to start a local restaurant, others are looking for romance or escape. A light, amusing ‘read’ which I scored 3/5

Restless by William Boyd – this is my second book by William Boyd and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was delighted to find it was made into a series several years ago starring Rufus Sewell so I will have to pursue that.  This is a spy story, another told from more than one point of view, from different time periods and partially by letters. Septogenarian, ordinary British mother Sally reveals via a series of letters to her daughter that she was actually a Russian refugee living in Paris when she was recruited to the British Secret Service during WWII and after the death of her beloved brother.  It’s an exciting story with lots of spy shenanigans, betrayal and revenge all wrapped up in beautiful, literary language. Score 4/5

My name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – almost a novella, this slim book tells the story of a mother-daughter relationship while the daughter, Lucy, lies seriously ill in hospital.  Her mother, from whom she has been estranged for some time, has come to sit in vigil by her bed.  Poignant. Maybe not enough action for me? Scored 3.5/5

So you’ve been publicly shamed by Jon Ronson – I both read the physical book and downloaded the eaudio book via BorrowBox where the book is narrated by the author.  Jon Ronson explores what happens when people turn on others via social media.  Horrible, horrible stuff of nightmares and utterly compelling. Scored 3.5/5

Currently I am reading The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins – another enormously popular book which I resisted for a long time.  I saw the film last week and had the book on my shelf so I thought I’d read it to compare the two.  The film has been set in America while the book is set in England but is fairly faithful otherwise.  I probably will give it a 3/5.  It’s not haute literature but it has a plot that carries you along at a fair clip.  I’m intrigued to see how the twist at the end is presented in the novel.

Deep Dish, by Mary Kay Andrews, and read by Julia Gibson – I recently listened to this eAudiobook and found it an enjoyable story to listen to.  It is a light hearted romantic comedy involving a TV cooking show, perfect for a summer holiday, especially if you enjoy listening to a pleasant southern USA accent.  3.5/5

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Carolyn’s Books of the Month – February

Best Read: The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Sixteen-year-old Noa has been cast out in disgrace after becoming pregnant by a Nazi soldier and being forced to give up her baby. She lives above a small rail station, which she cleans in order to earn her keep… When Noa discovers a boxcar containing dozens of Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp, she is reminded of the child that was taken from her. And in a moment that will change the course of her life, she snatches one of the babies and flees into the snowy night.

Crime: The Late Show by Michael Connelly 

Renée Ballard works the night shift in Hollywood, beginning many investigations but finishing none as each morning she turns her cases over to day shift detectives. A once up-and-coming detective, she’s been given this beat as punishment after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

But one night she catches two cases she doesn’t want to part with: the brutal beating of a prostitute left for dead in a parking lot and the killing of a young woman in a nightclub shooting. Ballard is determined not to give up at dawn. Against orders and her own partner’s wishes, she works both cases by day while maintaining her shift by night. As the cases entwine they pull her closer to her own demons and the reason she won’t give up her job no matter what the department throws at her.

Australian Author: Before we were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Based on the true story of a system of orphanages that was ultimately deemed responsible for the kidnapping and selling of thousands of children in illegal adoptions, in this story Wingate has created a riveting, heart-wrenching read.

Non Fiction: We were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

It is the spring of 1939 and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships threatening Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurcs will be flung to the far corners of the world, each desperately trying to navigate his or her own path to safety.

As one sibling is forced into exile, another attempts to flee the continent, while others struggle to escape certain death, either by working grueling hours on empty stomachs in the factories of the ghetto or by hiding as gentiles in plain sight. Driven by an unwavering will to survive and by the fear that they may never see one another again, the Kurcs must rely on hope, ingenuity, and inner strength to persevere.

Thriller: Death Message by Kate London

October 1987: the morning after the Great Storm. Fifteen-year-old Tania Mills walks out her front door and disappears. Twenty-seven years later her mother still prays for her return. DS Sarah Collins in the Met’s Homicide Command is determined to find out what happened, but is soon pulled into a shocking new case and must once again work with a troubled young police officer from her past, Lizzie Griffiths.

Thriller: Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out — and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date — one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

Saga/Romance: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Set in the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

eAudio Books:



Tennison by Lynda La Plante

In 1972 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case.



Good Friday by Lynda La Plante

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not. 

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation. 


Image result for borrowbox  eBooks & eAudio from Blue Mountains library


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Library Lovers’ Day competition – because the love is mutual


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee due to the depth and breadth and height 
of your collection, when feeling out of sorts
For overdue fines there are 3 days of grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need to sit and read. 
I love thee for being free, for striving for what is right. 
I love thee purely, as you love me.
I love thee with the passion put to use 
for all those books I have browsed and some I borrowed. 
I love thee with a love I share with free Wi-Fi 
and air conditioning. I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, were it possible,
I should love thee better tomorrow.

With profound apologies to Elizabeth Barrett BrowningThis Library Lovers’ Day let us know just how much you care. Write us a love letter between 14th February and 14th March and you could win a fabulous book pack to share with your loved ones. Call in to any branch from February 14 and fill in a Library Lovers’ postcard, telling us just what you love about libraries. Return it in person for a chance to win. There is a prize for the best entry returned to each branch. 


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Books to Film 2018

Here is a selection of books due for release as movie adaptations in 2018. Reserve a copy through our online catalogue, or ask staff for assistance.


The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

Originally published 2009.

One postwar summer in his home of rural Warwickshire, Dr. Faraday, the son of a maid who has built a life of quiet respectability as a country physician, is called to a patient at lonely Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once impressive and handsome, is now in decline, its masonry crumbling, its gardens choked with weeds, the clock in its stable yard permanently fixed at twenty to nine. Its owners—mother, son, and daughter—are struggling to keep pace with a changing society, as well as with conflicts of their own. But are the Ayreses haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? Little does Dr. Faraday know how closely, and how terrifyingly, their story is about to become intimately entwined with his.

The film will star  Domhnall GleesonRuth Wilson & Will Poulter and is due for release in the U.S. in August 2018.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Originally published 1962.

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.                           “Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

The film will star Reese WitherspoonChris Pine & Gugu Mbatha-Raw and is due for release in the U.S. in March 2018.

Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

Originally published 2012.

Ana and Christian have it all—love, passion, intimacy, wealth, and a world of possibilities for their future. But Ana knows that loving her Fifty Shades will not be easy, and that being together will pose challenges that neither of them would anticipate. Ana must somehow learn to share Christian’s opulent lifestyle without sacrificing her own identity. And Christian must overcome his compulsion to control as he wrestles with the demons of a tormented past.
Just when it seems that their strength together will eclipse any obstacle, misfortune, malice, and fate conspire to make Ana’s deepest fears turn to reality.

The film will star Arielle KebbelLuke GrimesDakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan and is due for release in the U.S. in March 2018.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Original published 2011.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape. 4.5 stars on Goodreads.

The film will star Tye SheridanOlivia Cooke & Hannah John-Kamen and is due for release in the U.S. in September 2018.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Originally published in 2014.

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition. Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

The film will star Natalie PortmanTessa Thompson & Oscar Isaac and is due for release in the U.S. in February 2018.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Originally published 2015.

Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist have not been in touch for some time.

Then Blomkvist is contacted by renowned Swedish scientist Professor Balder. Warned that his life is in danger, but more concerned for his son’s well-being, Balder wants Millennium to publish his story – and it is a terrifying one. More interesting to Blomkvist than Balder’s world-leading advances in Artificial Intelligence, is his connection with a certain female superhacker.

It seems that Salander, like Balder, is a target of ruthless cyber gangsters – and a violent criminal conspiracy that will very soon bring terror to the snowbound streets of Stockholm, to the Millennium team, and to Blomkvist and Salander themselves.

The film will star Claire FoyCameron BrittonSylvia Hoeks and is due for release in the U.S. in October 2018.

Bel Canto by Ann Pratchett

Originally published 2001

The poignant — and at times very funny — new novel from the author of THE MAGICIAN’S ASSISTANT, shortlisted for the Orange Prize. Latin terrorists storm an international gathering hosted by an underprivileged country to promote foreign interest and trade, only to find that their intended target, the President, has stayed home to watch his favourite soap opera on TV. Among the hostages are a world class opera singer and her biggest fan, a Japanese tycoon who has been persuaded to attend the party on the understanding that she will perform half a dozen arias after dinner. The tycoon’s engaging and sympathetic translator plays a vital role in the subsequent relationships between so many different nationalities closeted together, interpreting not only the terrorists’ negotiations but also the language of love between lovers who cannot understand what the other is saying. Ultimately, it is the terrorist strike that does more to promote foreign relations than anyone could have hoped to achieve with the party.

The film will star  Julianne MooreChristopher Lambert & Ken Watanabe  and is due for release in the U.S. in late 2018.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Originally published 2009

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.  Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

The film will star   Matthew GoodeLily JamesJessica Brown Findlay and is due for release in the U.S. in April 2018.

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eBook of the Month – January 2018

click image for a close up

Saga land is also available from the library in print as a talking book, as well as eAudio through Borrowbox.

Find our eBooks & eAudio on BorrowBox. Information on how to sign up can be found on the library website, or ask staff for details.


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