Thursday, 23 December 2010


I have recently come across some interesting websites that are worth exploring for new rading ideas. They are great for finding reading suggestions.

The Reading Room

You can create your own profile and add the books you read to your bookshelf and add reviews and recommendations. You can also join a range of online reading groups.

Love Reading

Lots of book reviews and suggestions. Check out the section 'like for like' where you can type in the name of an author you like and get suggestions of other authors and books to read. You can also search for books by a really extensive list of categories, such as 'for the boys', 'provocative prose', 'relationship tales' and more.


Discover new authors. You can type in the name of 3 authors you like and get suggestions for other authors to try or you can type in the name of 1 author and get a list of authors that are related.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

This is a great book if you are looking for something fun to read over the summer holidays. I was initially a bit sceptical if I would enjoy this reworking of one of my favourite books of all time so began it with some reluctance. The story is very similar to Austen's original and in fact much of the dialogue is taken directly from the original book. The story line and characters are also the same as the original book. Just with the addition of zombies! If this sounds ridiculous - it is. It is completely silly, and yet that is what I enjoyed (much to my own surprise).


Check Catalogue

Monday, 6 December 2010

To Love Honour and Betray: Till Divorce Us Do Part by Kathy Lette

Well this is not my normal type of reading but having read an article by Kathy Lette which was intuitive and right on the money with her humoristic appreciation of the British that I felt it worth picking this up.

In this very relatable narrative Lette brings a fabulous balance of fun, realism and excellent dialogue from both the Aussie perspective and that of a British migrant, Lucy. When Lucy's husband of eighteen years runs out on her, she'll do anything to win him back, including climbing out of her bedroom window at one in the moring wearing her daughter's mini skirt. Jasper has left Lucy for her best friend, the chic and thin interior decorator Renee. To make matters worse, her teenage daughter Tally, blames her Mum. 'Dad left becuase you've let yourself go, you're overwight and you nagged him. No wonder he buggered off.' While Tally is busy trying to find a loophole in her birth certificate sho she can put herself up for adoption, Lucy tries to accept that a child is for life and not just for Christmas.

Although a signed-up member of Underachievers Anonymous, in Lucy's quest to win back her husband she learns to be a surf life saver, loses weight and gets a job. She also falls in lust, finds herself torn between an older and a much younger man. however it's not until Lucy makes the Freudian discovery that her toy boy is also dating her daughter - and that he's been paid to do so by her conniving ex as ammunition for a custody battle, that she finally learns to stand on her own two stilettos.

Whilst I was frustrated for Lucy because of her inability to grasp the reality of her situation I was complelled to keep on reading. I hightly recommend this as a good chick read which will keep you turning the pages.

By Jane

Check Catalogue

Or Download an eAudio version of this book at Bolinda Digital

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Love and the Platypus by Nicholas Drayson

A beautiful, engrossing book appealing to those who love Australian wildlife and history. The story enfolds slowly, interspersed with multiple comments on the breeding habits of the Platypus. William, a Scottish Zoologist has been sent to Australia to scientifically investigate whether Platypus lay eggs.

Upon arriving at Burnett River, Queensland after a series of adventures with outback characters such as the drunken bullock driver, William sets up his lavish camp and proceeds to investigate the numerous Playtypus. William is helped in his endeavours by local aboriginals, learning their tragic history.

The beauty of the bush is explored lyrically by the author as William discovers the habits of the creatures surrounding him. Along the way he meets two sisters, one blind, one aboriginal and their story builds to a gruesome conclusion. The obsessive nature of zoological investigation and its consequences for the Platypus maybe off putting for some readers.

Cheers, Tricia

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

If you've been following Becky Brandon, nee Bloomwood, in the "Shopaholic" series you will love this latest installment. Becky now has a two year old daughter, Minnie, who loves to create havoc everywhere, loves the word 'mine' and who is even kicked out from 'Santa's Grotto' at Harrods but who knows how to stop taxis and the words 'Visa, Starbucks and shopping'.

Luke, Becky's husband, is concerned about his daughter's behaviour and hires Nanny Sue to give a diagnosis on his daughter, which Becky absolutely hates and goes out of her way to prove there is nothing wrong with Minnie. Of course this causes tension between Luke and Becky but when Nanny Sue meets them with her feedback they are in for a surprise.

At the moment there's a big financial crisis so everyone is having to cut back, including all of Becky's personal shopping clients. As Becky and Luck are still living with her parents the tension in that household increases, especially as Becky's parents seem to find their house is slowly getting smaller and smaller with all of Becky's belongings.

To cheer everyone up Becky decides to throw Luke a surprise birthday party on a budget and this is where the fun really starts as she struggles to keep it quiet from Luke. The party is getting bigger and bigger and everyone seems to know about it which causes Becky to frantically destroy Luke's Blackberry, laptop and employ devious means of keeping Luke away from the Internet, especially as some work colleagues even create YouTube clips. Amongst all the mayhem and with a lot of surprise help from movie stars and a 'surprise' source, the party is an absolute success which really does end up being a surprise for Luke.

This is a fun read which does cause you to laugh at some of the mishaps Becky creates along the way and leaves you waiting for the next installment when they travel to Hollywood.

Check Catalogue


Monday, 8 November 2010

Prime Minister's Literary Award Winners 2010

Today the winners of Australia's richest Literary Prize were announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for the Arts Simon Crean.

Dog Boy by Eva Hornung won the Fiction prize, while The Colony : A History of Early Sydney by Grace Kraskens won for Non-Fiction.

New prizes for both Children's and Young Adult fiction were awared to Star Jumps by Lorraine Marwood and Confessions of a Liar, Thief and and Failed Sex God by Bill Condon repectively.

For more information about the 2010 Prime Minister's Literary Award link into

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Halloween Reads

In honour of All Hallows Eve why not pick up something a little creepy, kooky and altogether spooky to read. If you loved series such as Harry Potter by J.K Rowling, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer or Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead check out the following recommendations. All titles listed and more thrilling stories are available from the City of Greater Dandenong Libraries.

From the Young Adult Collection

Beastly by Alex Flinn
This adaption of Beauty and the Beast has been modernised and is predominately told from The Beast's (Kyle's) perspective. Kyle narrates his downfall , summarises why he's been cursed and what he has to achieve to rid himself of 'the beast'. This modern day version of a classic tale is well written and an enjoyable, thrilling read.

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Do you believe in reincarnation? Fallen angels? Imagined falling in love with the same soul over and over again in every life lived? If so, check out Fallen, the first title in a new four book series by Lauren Kate. Whilst the concept of this story captured my attention, I was a little disappointed with the initial slowness and vagueness of the plot. However, I did finish Fallen because the premise of the series was different to other supernatural fiction I'd recently read. The next title in the series, Torment is also available through the library.

Need by Carrie Jones

Zara is living in fear and affiliates everything in life with phobias after the death of her stepfather. Zara's mother sends her to live with Betty, the only Grandmother figure Zara's known. Zara quickly becomes aware of a presence, a Pixie (and not a nice one) tracking and luring her into the neighbouring woods. Zara's unnerved at first, but quickly realises she needs to join with the 'were' creatures in the community who are destined to fight the Pixies. A fast past read followed up by the second book in the series, Captivate.

Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bryn is the main character, a young girl raised by a werewolf pack after her parents are brutally killed by a rouge wolf. Bryn is a terrific character; strong, spunky and determined not to lose her identity within the pack. Bryn is determined to find out why her parents were killed, which leads her into dangerous territory as she contests the very rules that govern the pack. I really enjoyed this story and am looking forward to a sequel.

Happy Halloween,

Monday, 25 October 2010

Room by Emma Donoghue

Short listed for The Man Booker Prize 2010, Room by Emma Donoghue is written well, but the story content is, at times, a challenge to read. I continued to read however, because the writing style is captivating given the story is told from the view point of a five year old boy with limited life experience.

Room opens with a young woman, known to the reader as Ma, trapped with her small son, Jack, in a room measuring 11-by-11 foot. (Approximately 3.35 metres by 3.35 metres in metric measurements; very small).

Ma makes Room a safe haven for Jack, who has known no other world; he is happy and content with Ma, loves the activities he does with her and the comfort of their daily routine. Jack also recognises furniture such as Bed and Rug as friends rather than inanimate objects. Meanwhile, Jack becomes anxious when it becomes more apparent that Ma is not happy and is increasingly disheartened with Room.

We get to know the jailer in this story as Old Nick, who has fortified, camouflaged and sound proofed Room to the extent that it is impossible to escape without assistance. Ma, however has decided and is determined to get Outside, much to Jack's confusion.

The plot to escape begins. At this point the reader starts to meet new characters, and we experience different anxious moments with Jack as he continues to narrate this tale.

I don't want to give away too much of the story, but there is one particular thread which is interesting to observe; Jack is still being breast fed at five years of age. The author touches on this issue and different character's reactions to this behaviour between mother and son. A topic which would certainly create conversation in a book club or the like.

Overall, I enjoyed this work, but I did have to be in the right frame of mind when reading this story as I became more emotionally connected to the two main characters and their feelings of anxiety, desperation and hope.


Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Nobel Prize in Literature & Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2010

7 October 2010 - The Nobel Prize Winner for Literature was awarded to Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa, who has written works such as Lituma en los Andes, La Fiesta del Chivo and Don Rigobertove beleznice, which are all available through CGD Libraries.

For more information on the Nobel Prize in Literature click here to access The Nobel Prize organisation webpage.

12 October 2010 - The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2010 is awarded to London author and columnist Howard Jacobson for The Finkler Question.
Check Catalogue

Click here for more information on The Man Booker Prize.


Sunday, 10 October 2010

Press Display Newspaper Database

If you're interested in current affairs from around the world, or would like to read an online newspaper in a language other than English, take a look at Press Display, a freely available database accessible to all City of Greater Dandenong (CGD) Library members.

Press Display covers material from 90 countries, some of which is available in original languages such as Arabic, Croatian, Hindi and Polish. Material can also be electronically translated into 10 major languages including Simplified Chinese, Spanish and French.

To access Press Display directly click here otherwise link into the database via Research Online under the Library tab and save it as a favourite in your web browser for easy reference. A user guide for this database is also available on the Research Online page otherwise check out the online demo by clicking the Library PressDisplay Demo button as shown.

For FREE database access log in using your CGD Library member user identification number including an A at the beginning of the number. For example A1234567.


Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Victorian Premier's Literary Awards: Winners 2010

The Victorian Premier's Literary Award Winners for 2010 were announced last night at the official dinner for the event.

Some of the awarded prizes included

The Vance Palmer Prize for Fiction which went to Peter Temple for Truth
The Nettie Palmer Prize for Non-Fiction was awarded to Brenda Walker for Reading by Moonlight: how books saved a life, and
The Prize for Indigenous Writing for Legacy by Larissa Behrendt

Check out The Wheeler Centre website to find out more about winning works in all of the literary categories.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

As part of the Get Reading! program and the 50 books you can't put down list, I picked up The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do to read.

I really enjoyed this memoir; it was easy to read, poignant in places but also extremely funny in parts, which I was anticipated given Anh Do is a very talented Comedian.

The book begins with a summary of how Anh's parents met and then leave Vietnam. The pace of the story is steady and quickly we're reading of Anh's family life in Australia. Anh's parents raise their children to be thankful to live in Australia and they are all encouraged to give back or help others whenever possible.

I was fascinated to read that Anh felt he had to pursue academic studies in acknowledgement of the sacrifices his mother made for him and his siblings. So while Anh's passions laid elsewhere, he simply worked harder to complete studies both at University and TAFE, plus worked and ran small business ventures as well. Anh demonstrated an amazing work ethic at a young age, which stood him in good stead when starting his comedic career.

By the end of the book I felt I knew Anh and his family intimately. His struggles and triumphs are highlighted with terrific stories of different people and key events in his life; I especially liked reading about the cultural differences between his family and that of his fiance's and how they managed those situations.
An enjoyable, positive read. Some family pictures are also included, which complement the story told.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Lonely Planet's Travel with Children

September school holidays are here again in Victoria and at CGD Libraries we have a terrific school holiday program with activities for babies to teens. To view more details of events and booking information click here.

Meanwhile, why not take a look at this travel book review provided by Karmel; Travel with Children 5th ed.

I have been toying with the daunting idea of taking an extended holiday with a small child. As soon as the thought enters my head though I immediately push it out again. It just seems all too hard. Then I came across this book, which puts the whole thing into perspective for me. With great insight from those who have already taken the plunge, this guide gives tips to parents on how to successfully take a family holiday that everyone can enjoy.

Containing information such as what to take (or not to take!), logistics (such as lugging around all that paraphernalia that comes with young children including car seats and prams) and the best holidaying spots for families both locally and abroad, the thought of travelling doesn't seem as daunting.

Happy September School Holidays, Susan

Monday, 13 September 2010

Man Booker Prize - 2010 Short List

The Man Booker Prize 2010 short list has been announced. An award for the best novel of the year written by citizens born in the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland.

This year's short list includes:

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey
The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
C by Tom McCarthy
In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Long Song by Andrea Levy

For further information about the titles shortlisted and the awards link into


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Killer's Art by Mari Jungstedt

Mari Jungstedt is another of the wonderful Swedish crime writing world. This is her fourth book translated into English, and tranlated very well by Tiina Nunnally.

All Mari Jungstedt's books are set on the scenic tourist island of Gotland in Sweden, and feature the sleuthing duo Inspector Anders Knutas and Swedish news reporter Johan Berg. Well developed characters whose private lives intertwine through the book. The action in A Killer's Art starts with the murder of a very well-known local art-gallery owner, Egon Wallin. Egon was a prominent and visible man in the local community, and well respected locally as well as in the art world. And now he is found brutally murdered and hanging from the medieval town gate in the beautiful and quiet little town of Visby.

As Knutas and his colleagues start digging into the case dark secrets and unknown facts start to surface. The gallery owner, who has just opened a new, very interesting exhibition featuring a young Lithuanian artist, had sold his gallery without anyone knowing it, not even his wife. Both he and his wife secretly had lovers, each without the other knowing about it. Also, his wife, going through the house after her husband's death, found a number of extremely valuable paintings hidden there. Further investigation showed that they had all been stolen from various Swedish owners over the last few years.
Then, while Knutas and his colleagues are still more or less completely in the dark, struggling to make sense of the case and not finding anything that seems to lead them in the direction of the killer, a new killing takes place. A man is reported missing from the local hotel and the police feel certain that he has been or will be killed. When he is mutilated and seemingly tortured. Time is running out for the police.

Having experienced withdrawal symptoms after reading Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy I found this a very enjoyable, intriguing and sufficient suspense to keep me engaged. Unlike so many of this genre it is excellently written, with good language, very clear and at times elegant. Also, it is a book that will perhaps be of particular interest to art lovers, as it moves in the world of art in Sweden, and features a number of interesting paintings and artists such as "The Dying Dandy" by the Swedish impressionist Nils Dardel along with several paintings by Zorn.


Monday, 6 September 2010

New TV program Shelf Life: explores reading, writing and libraries

This Tuesday, 7th September at 7pm, the new show Shelf Life premiers on TVS (Digital Channel 44).

Produced by the University of Western Sydney (UWS) School of Communication Arts, Shelf Life is a half hour program which explores topics such as unique bookshops, book launches, writing groups and libraries.

The series is focused on new books, new authors and new ideas; investingating how e-books are influencing the publishing world and how we gain recommendations for reading material from friends and through library experiences.

As quoted in the press release from USW - "Despite Australia's love of sport, libraries remain the most visited cultural institutions in the country...".


Thursday, 2 September 2010

The House of the Mosque by Kader Abdolah

The House of the Mosque is a story about an Iranian family who have lived in the house next to a mosque in the city of Senejan for centuries. The main character of the book is Aqa Jaan, the head of the house and the city bazaar. Two of his cousins also live in the house; one is the mosque's imam and the other is the muezzin. At the beginning of the book the life in the mosque's family is peaceful, uneventful and following age old traditions of the house of the mosque. Little by little though life is changing for Aqa Jaan's family. The fall of the Shah, the installment of the Khomeini government and the return of the Ayatollahs into power destroy the established order of the house.

In the years that follow the 1979 revolution the book follows the Aqa Jaan's previously prominent family that slowly finds itself first under surveillance of the Shah's secret police and almost overnight under the terror of Iranian Ayatollahs. There is an anaology in the book among the Aqa Jaan's traditional Iranian family with its members following diverse paths, children abandoning the old house of the mosque's traditions and the country that is falling apart, splitting into various political fractions.

I greatly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to read multicultural fiction and would like to learn more about Iranian religious and social culture and its traditions.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Get Reading! launched today

The Get Reading! 2010 program is an initiative of the Australian Council of the Arts and as quoted on the Get Reading website is "the largest annual celebration of books and reading in Australia". Previously promoted as Books Alive, the Get Reading! program encourages us all to get a book, get comfy and get reading during the month of September.

Keep an eye out for the books promoted by the program as the 50 books you can't put down. For further information access the Get Reading! website at or contact library staff at the Dandenong and Springvale Library branches for assistance.

Happy reading

Sunday, 15 August 2010

After America by John Birmingham

After America the latest techno-thriller by Australian author John Birmingham is not for the faint hearted. Liberally sprinkled with bodies and frank language, it follows on from his bestselling Without Warning. In the first book, the USA is enveloped by a deadly energy wave, that wiped that great nation from the affairs of the world. In the power vacuum left the world implodes. Nuclear and civial war erupts throughout the world.

After America follows characters in Without Warning and political situations that developed from this implosion, with characteristic violence and odd humour. Caitlin the super, robotic assassin is now a breast-feading mother, Jules the smuggler is now undergoing reconstruction work and Miguel the Mexican has spent several years in Australia with his family before resettling as a farmer in southern USA, now depopulated and back to wild frontier country in more ways than one. A fascinating, apocolyptic read examining what could happen if terrible war is let loose on the world.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Precious by Sapphire

Precious (originally titled Push and adapted into a motion picture), a story about the titled character, a 16 year old illiterate, sexually and physically abused African-American girl living in Harlem, is a confronting, yet compelling read. Gritty, horrific, but inspirational as well; this journal styled text has Precious sharing many traumatic and faith restoring experiences with her readers.

Whilst the abuse Precious describes is emotionally draining to read, the characters you meet that help and support her, and her own self growth kept me reading. Precious begins her journey very subdued by her circumstances, yet develops a strength of will and focus to attend an Alternative Education Programme to learn to read and write, to better herself and make a better life for her children. It is an engaging story.

Check Catalogue


Monday, 26 July 2010


We have a new magazine at the library called Goodreading. This is a great magazine for book lovers and contains reviews and other book news. The July issue includes a feature on Bret Easton Ellis and his follow up to Less Than Zero called Imperial Bedrooms, an article on romance - and why you shouldn't knock it till you've tried it, profiles of a range of successful teenage writers and even a list of book suggestions for people who can't find anything they like to read! Plus there are also heaps of reviews and information about new books.

You can place a hold for free so that you will be notified when it is available.

Check Catalogue


Monday, 19 July 2010

Melbourne Writers Festival

The Melbourne Writers Festival program is now available - it features over 300 different writers, as well as debates, workshops, readings, films and more. It runs from August 27th to September 5th. For more information go to their website.

Some of the high profile authors who are going to be there include Jostein Gaarder, Alex Miller, Nicholas Shakespeare, crime writers Val McDermid, Michael Robotham & Peter Temple and also non fiction writers such as Tim Flannery.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

This classic Gothic novel is great fun to read as it is so macabre and over the top. The passions and deviousness of the characters are all larger than life and it is gripping waiting for their villainous schemes to unravel.

The story is of the thwarted love between Catherine and Heathcliffe and how their unfulfilled passion eventually destroys themselves and everyone close to them.


Check Catalogue

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Future of Libraries

ABC radio national's The Book Show featured a story yesterday called 'The Future of Libraries' where they discussed the changing nature of public libraries. Once libraries were perceived as quiet places for reading and study, but now are often also full of activity and events. And in a time when information and books are easily available online, what are the implications for libraries? The show discusses these changes and featured interviews with Springvale library borrowers! If you missed the show you can still listen online at the abc website. To listen click here.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010


Last night the winner of this years Miles Franklin award - one of Australia's most prestigious literary awards - was announced. The winner was the amazing crime novel Trust, by Peter Temple. It is set during a sweltering summer, as Bush fires rage across Victoria and Inspector Stephen Villani (who made a brief appearance in Temple's previous novel The Broken Shore) is the head of the Victorian homicide squad. He is a man who is good at his job, but bad at managing his personal life and relationships. And throughout the book he must face many truths - the truths behind a series of crimes, the truth about his colleagues, and the truth about his family and his relationships with his daughter, brothers and father.

For more information about the award click here.

Check library Catalogue for Truth.

The orange prize for literature was also recently awarded. The prize is for excellence, oringinality and accessability in writing by women. This year the award went to Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna. It is an epic saga that crosses from Mexico to the U.S. and touches on important historical events, from the Mexican Revolution to World War II, and encounters with historical characters including Frida Khalo and Leon Trotsky.

Check Catalogue for The Lacuna.

For more information about the award click here.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Lush Life by Richard Price

Lush Life is set in the rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side of Manhattan, where trendy bars and restaurants mingle with housing projects. The story centres around a mugging gone wrong, looking at this crime from every aspect - from the perspective of the police, the victims and the perpetrators. The books primary focus is not figuring out who did the crime, but rather an examination of the repercussions.

Richard Price is a writer on the amazing, gritty TV Series The Wire, and this book conveys a similar realism, language, and examination of characters and society.


Check Catalogue

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Ray: Stories of my Life by Ray Martin

I was very keen to read about Ray Martin because I've always liked his style of reporting and interviewing whether it was news, current affairs or important events.

It was very interesting to read about his childhood, his abusive drunken father and his close relationship with his mother and sisters, resulting in a very nomadic life always moving from place to place. He became successful through sheer hard work and dilegence. In this day and age when in many instances fame leads to affairs, drugs etc. it is refreshing to know Ray is a loving and faithful husband and a devoted father to his children. The book also gives you a good insight into the world of Television where ratings play a predominant part.

A very enjoyable read.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper

In recognition of Reconciliation Week (from 27th of May to 3rd of June) why not take the opportunity to read the amazing The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper. It is a true crime novel, reminiscent in style of Truman Capote's classic In Cold Blood and focuses on the death in custody of Cameron Doomadjee at the aboriginal community of Palm Island in 2004. The book explores what occured, from the lead up to his arrest, his death in custody 40 minutes later, and the colonial inquest, riots and trial that followed.

What I found most extraordinary about this book is the way that Hooper conveys the story without taking sides or making judgements. The book does not convey anyone as perfect or a hero, nor anyone as purely a villain. It rather conveys the complexities of the story and provides a glimplse into a part of Australia that for many of us we have never seen or experienced.

I found this book not only extraordinary but also incredibly important for the way that it confronts these difficult moral questions.

Check Catalogue


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bayside Literary Festival

Commencing this Friday the 21st of May and running until Friday 28th of May is the Bayside Literary Festival. The festival features a range of talks by authors, including Underbelly author Andrew Rule, as well as writing workshops, Poetry readings and more.

For more information click here.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

This Gothic ghost story is set at the end of World War II in a dilapidated English country estate. The once wealthy Ayres family is now struggling to maintain both their estate and their way of life. The family is haunted by their struggles and their dying way of life, however as the book progresses a more sinister and malevolent source of their problems is hinted at as unexplained events begin to occur. Are the family descending into madness? Is there a ghost haunting them? Or is the house itself beginning to turn on the family?

The Little Stranger is both a beautifully realised historical novel and also a suspenseful ghost story imbued with a subtle yet sinister sense of foreboding.


Check Catalogue for The Little Stranger

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Happy Mothers day!

In celebration of Mothers Day this weekend, here is a list of books about mothers and motherhood. Some are humorous and light hearted, such as Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner or Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, whilst others are more serious explorations of the relationships between mothers and their children, such as The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan or Unless by Carol Shields.


Check Catalogue for Little Earthquakes
Check Catalogue for Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Check Catalogue for The Joy Luck Club
Check Catalogue for Unless

Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

This is a Young Adult novel - not what I usually read at all, but I noticed it one day whilst shelving books in the Young Adult section of the library and it immediately appealed to me. I read this beautiful book in just one sitting and I was so moved by this story that is filled with so much tragedy and yet also hope.

It is the story of Junior, a Native American teenager who lives on an Indian Reservation. The book details his life - both on the reservation and at the all white high school he attends. This book beautifully deals with issues of race, poverty and identity.


Check Catalogue

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Let the Great World Spin is loosely based around a true event - Philip Petit's tightrope walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre on 7 th of August 1974. However, Petit himself is only one of several interconnected characters in this story which explores the way an extraordinary event can impact on the lives of a diverse range of New Yorkers. The other characters include an Irish Priest living in Brooklyn, his brother, a group of prostitutes, two mothers brought together by grief for their sons, and many others.

What I liked most about this book was the compassion with which McCann portrays each of these diverse characters and the glimpse he offers us into their lives.


Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

This story is all about food and is the winner of the top French book award for food writing, the Prix du Meilleur Livre de Litterature Gourmande and is the first novel of French author Muriel Barbery, who has also written The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

It tells the story of an old food critic, Pierre Arthens, who is lying on his deathbed. Before he dies he is frustrated trying to remember the most delicious food that he has ever tasted, long before he became a famous food critic. Desperate to taste it one more time, he looks back over the years to all the different meals from his past to try and recall the taste he's trying to remember.

Each chapter is focused on a food, ranging from bread, meat, vegetables to even whisky and ice cream. In each of these food chapters he recalls how he first came to taste them and the impression they left in his mouth and his life. Each food group is described beautifully and you can actually feel the taste sensation as you're reading through the narration.

Other chapters in the book are all written by the other people who were closest to him and their own experience of him. It seems that even though he was the greatest food critic in France, because of his single-minded pursuit of gourmet and sensual delights, he could not be a nice man to his family, especially his children.

This is a wonderful read and if you're like me, you will find you can't put it down. It would also make a great novel to have in a book club as there are discussion questions at the end of the book.

A thoroughly enjoyable read.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

2666 by Roberto Bolano

This is an amazing novel, although it can also be hard work - both due to it's size (almost 900 pages) and the violence of it's content (a series of unsolved murders in a Mexican border town).

The book is really 5 books that overlap and it is nearly impossible to describe the book in terms of a plot. The different books or parts that make up 2666 involve different characters and take place in different time periods and countries - from Europe to Mexico and then back to Germany. What connects all of these parts is their examination of violence and death.

Whilst it can be loosely described as a mystery, it is not a book for those who like their mysteries to be solved. Rather it is a book for those who want something new and different, that will leave you thinking long after the last page.


Check Catlogue

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What's Next

A really common query at the library is "what is the next book in this series?" My favourite website for finding this information is a great site called What's Next Database.

This is a great resource for finding what books are in a series, and what order the books are in.

All you need to do is type in the information you know, such as the name of the author, or the name of the series. Or you can search for series by genres such as science fiction or mystery.
There is a link to this site under Sequels on the right hand side of this page. Or you can go directly there by clicking here.


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

An amazing story that is both funny and moving. I was hooked from the opening page by the wonderful writing and the slightly larger than life characters. The story tells the lives of cousins Sam Clay and Joe Kavalier and is set in Brooklyn before, during and after world war II as Kavalier and Clay become major figures of the Golden Age of comic books. Intersperced with the main story of Kavalier and Clay’s lives are excerts from their comics, and whist I am not usually a comic book fan, these sections were my favourite parts. Through the storylines of the comics Chabon comments on war, personal identity, heroism and more.

A great read that made me want to immediately go out and read more by Chabon.

If you like this book you may also enjoy The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem, another fantastic Brooklyn book that is inspired by the idea of the superhero.


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Thursday, 25 February 2010

Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a novel by the French novelist and professor of philosophy Muriel Barbery. The book follows events in the life of a concierge Renée Michel, whose deliberately concealed intelligence is uncovered by a suicidal but intellectually precocious girl named Paloma. Paloma is the daughter of an upper-class family living in the very classy Parisian apartment building where Renée works.

The events and ideas of the novel are presented through the thoughts and reactions, interleaved throughout the novel, of two narrators, Renée and Paloma, residents of an upper-middle class Left Bank apartment building, on one of the most elegant streets in Paris. The luxury apartments are mostly occupied by some of Paris's elite families.

Both concierge and child are very intelligent but do their best to hide the fact from everyone. The widow Renée is a concierge who has supervised the building for 27 years and being self taught in literature and philosophy, she conceals it to keep her job and, she believes, to avoid the condemnation of the building's tenants if they were to discover how cultured she is.

Twelve-year-old Paloma lives on the fifth floor with her parents and sister whom she considers snobs. A precocious girl, she hides her intelligence to avoid exclusion at school. She decides that life is meaningless, and that unless she can find something worth living for, she will commit suicide on her 13th birthday but plans to burn down the apartment before dying. For the time being she keeps a journal about her observations of the outside world, including her perceptions of Renée.

Paloma is the only one of the educated tenants who suspects Renée's is not what she seems. Although they share an interest in philosophy and thoughts about literature, nothing much happens to them until the death of a celebrated restaurant critic who had been living upstairs. A cultured Japanese businessman named Kakuro Ozu, whom Renée and Paloma befriend, then takes over the apartment and comes to share Paloma's fascination with Renée. Featuring a number of other characters, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is full of allusions to literary works, music, films, and paintings. There are reflections on the nature of beauty and art, the meaning of life and death. A very "French" type of novel.
The book was a phenomenon in France. I enjoyed this novel very much.


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Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Roadside Sisters by Wendy Harmer

This latest book by Australian author, Wendy Harmer, is a wonderful heart warming story about women's friendships. It's the story of three friends who have known each other for over twenty years since they performed in a gospel choir of seven women called "Sanctified Soul". They decide to go on a road trip in a mobile home painted with Elvis and the Confederate Flag on the back, from Melbourne to Bryon Bay for one of the lady's daughter's wedding.

During the trip, amongst squabbles, secrets, tears and laughter and incidents along the way, the ladies discover not only the true meaning of having female friends but also reflect on their lives, find love and learn to value what they took for granted in their lives.

It's a lovely light read that's full of warmth with never a dull moment.


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Friday, 29 January 2010

Andrew McGahan Wonders of a Godless World

The Aurealis awards, for Australian Speculative fiction, were anounced on the 24th January. The winner of the Best Science Fiction Award was Andrew McGahan's Wonders of a Godless World. It is an apocalyptic tale set on an unnamed island, and is about nature, earth, madness and much more.

You can view the full list of Aurealis award winners at their website.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Summer Read

The State Library’s Summer Read program is running again this summer, featuring 10 great Australian books. There is a wide range of different types of books, fiction and non fiction, so everyone is sure to find something to enjoy. From M.J.Hyland's This is How, to Brett Hoffman's thriller The Contract, Steve Amsterdam's acclaimed short story collection Things We Didn't See Coming and Barry Dickins' moving memoir Unparalleled Sorrow. For the full list go to the Summer Read website

All these great books also have a Victorian connection - either being set in Victoria or are by a Victorian author.

You can also vote for your favourite to go in the draw to win some prizes including $1000 worth of book vouchers!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

It is sometime since I have read one of Margaret Atwood’s novels. Always a delight to read with her rich language and engaging dialogue with her reader this became increasingly more difficult to put down.

The narrator of Atwood's riveting novel calls himself Snowman. When the story opens, he is sleeping in a tree, wearing an old bed sheet, mourning the loss of his beloved Oryx and his best friend Crake, and slowly starving to death. He searches for supplies in a wasteland where insects proliferate and pigoons and wolvogs ravage the pleeblands, where ordinary people once lived, and the Compounds that sheltered the extraordinary. As he tries to piece together what has taken place, the narrative shifts to decades earlier. How did everything fall apart so quickly? Why is he left with nothing but his haunting memories? Alone except for the green-eyed Children of Crake, who think of him as a kind of monster, he explores the answers to these questions in the double journey he takes - into his own past, and back to Crake's high-tech bubble-dome, where the Paradise Project unfolded and the world came to grief.

With breathtaking command of material which is both shocking and very challenging to our society today and her customary sharp wit and dark humour, Atwood projects us into an outlandish yet wholly believable realm populated by characters who will continue to inhabit our dreams long after the last chapter but also giving us an insight into a world manipulated by authorities and experiments in genetic engineering. This is Margaret Atwood at the absolute peak of her powers.

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