Monday, 30 July 2012

All that I am by Anna Funder

Excellent choice for the Miles Franklin 2012 Award. An Australian flavour throughout with the principal character reminiscing from Bondi.
Funder brings to life so eloquently the real life experiences of history between the world wars and the growth of the third Reich denied by the world even though so apparent. Much of Funder’s research has been found in historical documentation and permeates the narrative.

Dora is a passionately political woman. She is the thread that holds together her cousin Ruth, journalist Hans Wesseman, and Ernst Toller, a fellow activist and Dora's lover. The quartet flee Germany in the wake of Hitler's rise to power, but they refuse to be silent about the Nazi threat. Shifting back and forth in time through the framing device of Toller's autobiography, this debut novel by the author of Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall is a spiralling account of political activity and love during World War II. The social aspect of the politics, rather than the war, is the author's main focus in following Dora as she pulls Ruth and Toller along with her.

Very profound and brilliantly written.


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The winners of the 2012 Prime Minister's Literary Awards are....

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the winners of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards at a ceremony at the National Library of Australia yesterday.

Gillian Mears won the fiction award for her novel Foal's Bread while
Mark McKenna won the non-fiction award for his book An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark. The prize for Australian History was awarded to Bill Gammage for The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia and the award for poetry went to Luke Davies for Interferon Psalms.

The young adult fiction category was won by Robert Newton for When We Were Two and the children’s fiction award went to author Frances Watts and illustrator Judy Watson for Goodnight, Mice!

Now in its fifth year, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards recognise and reward excellence in Australian literature and history. The winner of each category was awarded $80,000 and each shortlisted author received $5000.

For more information and to read samples of all the shortlisted books visit


Monday, 23 July 2012

Peaches for Monsieur le Cure by Joanne Harris (Chocolat #3)

It isn't often you receive a letter from the dead.

When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerôme like a piece on a chessboard - slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon - a minaret. Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne's erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?

I really enjoyed my trip back to Lansquenet revisiting old characters from Chocolat. Lansquenet has changed, the river rats (gypsies) have moved on and in their place a growing Muslim community has arrived. Once again, Joanne Harris weaves a spellbinding novel exploring what makes a community tick - our fear of the unknown and how easily prejudices take root spreading unease and tension. In Chocolat, Vianne was the threatening newcomer who shook the foundations of this sleepy village. In this novel new tensions are emerging with the growth of a Muslim community and how they fit in with the locals. What follows is a thrilling narrative with two communities thriving on their own fear and ignorance. It can be read as a simple and enjoyable story but if you delve a little deeper there are lessons here for us all. We all have to live with others and sometimes it is as difficult to understand their ways as it is for them to understand ours.

Even if you haven’t read Chocolat or Lollipop Shoes I would still highly recommend this beautifully written, thought provoking novel.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Annie’s garden to table by Annie Smithers

Annie Smithers began her culinary career by serving an apprenticeship with Stephanie Alexander. In 2005, after working in many of Melbourne and regional Victoria’s top restaurants, Annie opened her own restaurant, Annie Smithers Bistrot, in Kyneton, Victoria. The bulk of the produce for Annie’s French bistro-style food comes from her own garden, and the menu is shaped daily according to which ingredients are at their seasonal best. Annie recently opened a café and foodstore called Du Fermier (from the Farmhouse) in the Trentham which caters to a more casual style of dining along with selling a range of homemade jams, seasonal garden produce and homewares.

Annie’s Garden to Table is part cook book, part gardening guide, part diary. It covers the 18 months it took Annie and her gardening guru Simon to set up her 1 acre plot, which now supplies both the restaurant and the café with up to 90% of their produce at specific times of the year along with many of Annie’s beautiful seasonal jams and preserves. It covers the joys and challenges they encountered, especially in the face of establishing a garden in the lingering drought years.

I loved reading this book and it was comforting to know that I am not the only one who has gardening disasters. With a lot of patience and perseverance Annie proves that you can be rewarded for all your hard work. This book is enough to inspire anyone to convert their backyard into a sustainable kitchen garden.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

New fiction titles for July

Place in the country Elizabeth Adler
Disgrace Jussi Adler-Olsen
Ancient light John Banville
Demands Mark Billingham
Third gate Lincoln Child
Honor Janet Dailey
Undead and unstable MaryJanice Davidson
XO Jeffrey Deaver
Tuesday’s gone Nicci French
Ransom river Meg Gardiner
Island house Posie Parker-Evans
15 seconds Andrew Gross
What comes next John Katzenbach
Potboiler Jesse Kellerman
Backlash Lynda La Plante
Home from the sea Mercedes Lackey
Let love find you Johanna Lindsey
Beautiful sacrifice Elizabeth Lowell
Big sky country Linda Lael Miller
Hour of the wolf Hakan Nesser
2312 Kim Stanley Robinson

Place FREE holds through the Catalogue or ask Library Staff about these books.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Download eBooks Anytime, Anywhere

Enjoy 24/7 virtual library access

Greater Dandenong Libraries is proud to offer you a range of eBooks for Adults, Teens & Children; all available 24/7 from the library’s website.

You can browse the collection, check out with your library card, and download titles to PC, Mac® and many mobile devices. To get started, you will need to install free software, Adobe® Digital Editions then you can enjoy selected titles immediately on a computer or transfer to a variety of devices, including iPad®, Sony® Reader™ and many others. Titles will automatically expire at the end of the lending period. There are no late fees!

With many fiction and non-fiction titles to choose from, the new collection is guaranteed to have something for everyone. You can download popular fiction, well-known classics, self-improvement guides and much more.

This new eBook service, powered by OverDrive, is free with your Greater Dandenong Libraries membership. To get started visit our catalogue or contact the Library’s friendly staff for further assistance.


Monday, 2 July 2012

After the darkness by Honey Brown

A thriller written from a different perspective –

Trudy and Bruce take a deserved holiday by the Victorian ocean: time for them to relax, their children left behind. Of course, a detour on the way home to a cliff-top gallery seems like the right, spontaneous thing to do. However, their misgivings when they enter the cold, glass-filled home are proven right and the following attack leaves them battered mentally and physically, with more to hide than to reveal -– and someone out there knows about it.

This vivid, taut story of the aftermath of Trudy and Bruce’s experience left me short of breath, as anxious as they were about every moment that followed. After the Darkness, told from Trudy’s point of view, takes many of the male/female clichés of crime and turns them on their head, as she toughs it out through Bruce’s shackling, both literally and metaphorically, during the book’s progress. A story as psychologically chilling as it is physically frightening, it is a dark look into the trauma of violence changing an everyday happy couple into one wracked with paranoia, regret and simmering violence of their own.

Yes, disturbing and close to decisions we might all face. I found myself immersed (sometimes losing track of which station I was at whilst reading on the train). This made me a little uncomfortable which is exactly what a thriller is supposed to do.
A good read from an Australian author placing the plot in Victoria. Good thriller material.