Friday, 29 May 2015

Dark dreams: Australian refugee stories

From escaping the Holocaust and surviving terrible boat journeys from Vietnam to persevering war-torn Croatia and Bosnia and fleeing oppression in Afghanistan and Iraq, these stories provide a representative sample of the various backgrounds and amazing experiences of asylum seekers in Australia over a very long time.

The stories represent many different countries and themes. Some focus on survival, some on horrors, some on the experiences and alienation of a new world. These stories are shocking, moving, and at times funny. Some are written with the quirky humour of children, others show the frank compassion and honest surprise of young Australians as they encounter experiences more terrible than their own. Some are gut-churning stories from young children just starting to rebuild lives here. Across the collection, there emerges the recurrent them of friendship: friendships lost, broken, remembered and found, now in Australia.


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Refugee by Angela Neustatter

This book features extended interviews with six children/young adults who are refugees or asylum seekers. They come from various countries including Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan and Romania. The interviews are carefully constructed to cover both the emotional as well as the practical consequences. The aim is not to be sensational but sympathetic and informative.


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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad

This book is a genuinely gripping and moving portrait of a family, and a clear-eyed assessment of a country struggling to free itself from history. This mesmerizing portrait of a proud man who, through three decades and successive repressive regimes, heroically braved persecution to bring books to the people of Kabul has elicited extraordinary praise throughout the world and become a phenomenal international bestseller.

The Bookseller of Kabul is startling in its intimacy and its details - a revelation of the plight of Afghan women and a window into the surprising realities of daily life in today's Afghanistan. One husband, two wives, five children, and many other relatives sharing four small rooms opened up their lives, unforgettably. The Khans openly, speak for themselves about their joys, sorrows, rivalries, loves, dreams, and temptations. Through this close-knit household, we gain an intimate view of life in an Islamic country just beginning to find its way between the forces of modernity and tradition. The book contains vivid descriptions of the Afghan way of life.


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The happiest refugee by Anh Do

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.


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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The Ice Twins by S.K Tremayne

One of Sarah's daughters died. But can she be sure which one? A terrifying psychological thriller that will chill you to the bone. A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives. But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity - that she, in fact, is Lydia - their world comes crashing down once again. As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past - what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

The ice twins has got to be one of the creepiest novels I have read in a long time. I even read the last three chapters a second time to really absorb what had happened. The suspense and tension rarely let up throughout the entire book and although the subject matter is bleak, the story is so compelling I couldn’t put it down. Every time I thought I had figured out the truth the author would head off in another direction and I would realize that I had it all wrong. This happened over and over again.

If you enjoy a psychological thriller that will keep you awake at night...then this is the one for you. I will not forget this book for a long time.


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Thursday, 21 May 2015

Saving Mr Banks - DVD

Saving Mr Banks is a beautiful movie (PG Rated) with a combination of comedy, drama and excellent performances by its two leading actors, Emma Thompson, as the impeccably English author P.L Travers and Tom Hanks, as the infamous and successful Disney founder, Walt Disney. This true story tells the making of the 1961 musical classic, Mary Poppins, which was based on the original novel by Travers. Emma Thompson embodies the very, English school-ma’m character who travels to Florida, U.S, after 20 years of persistence from Walt Disney to make her story into a movie.

Travers is very strict about the way her characters and story are portrayed - wanting "no animation" and even at one point "no colour red" in the film, among many other requirements. There are some very entertaining scenes of the Disney filmmakers playing piano and writing the score, including the infamous "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.”

This movie is also a story of the personal journey of the main character played by Emma Thompson. As a child, Travers grew up in rural Australia and idolised her alchoholic and imaginative father, who was a manager at the local bank,(hence the name of one of the main characters of the Mary Poppins movie being "Mr Banks").

Travers looks back at her childhood at sad solitary moments as she stays in the Beverly Hills hotel while the Mary Poppins movie is being made with her close involvement. We see scenes of a poor rural Australian childhood in which Travers is eventually greeted by a hopeful, magical Nanny who represents the character (here played by Rachel Griffiths) we later come to know, through Travers' writing and the subsequent film, as "Mary Poppins".

It is beautiful to watch the links between past and present and the birth of a story and film which Travers has so brilliantly created. Walt Disney manages to influence changes to her story into a "Disney movie" - there is the colour red in the Mary Poppins movies and there is definitely animation. If you love feel-good movies with the bonus of a true story which is brilliantly acted (especially by Emma Thompson), you will love this wonderful film which is Saving Mr Banks.


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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Anchor Point by Alice Robinson

I first saw this novel reviewed in The Age Melbourne and was immediately attracted to the storyline and the fact that it was a Melbourne writer and Australian narrative.

Wonderfully written and gripping from the very beginning. The story and the depth of the main character is compulsive. I found myself engrossed in the dilemma facing Laura and the way Alice Robinson expresses the emotional struggles against the backdrop of hardship and a character driven by her need to support those around her to the detriment of her own self.

The novel opens when Laura is ten years old living on a country farm with her father, mother and very young sister. Tensions are fraught and when the mother goes missing it drives Laura for four decades. Laura’s family tries to eke out an existence on their farm, struggling with the impact of climate change but they slowly come to the realisation that the land will never truly be theirs and that nature is bigger than humankind.

Riveting and thoroughly absorbing. I couldn’t put the book down.


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Friday, 8 May 2015

Celebrating the life of Ruth Rendell

Prolific mystery writer, Ruth Rendell passed away on the 5th of May, 2015 at the age of 85. Over her long career Ruth won numerous awards for her writing including three Edgar Awards, four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger for outstanding contribution to the genre from England’s prestigious Crime Writers’ Association. Her remarkable career spanned more than fifty years, with more than sixty books published.

Ruth Rendell is probably best known for her Inspector Wexford series but she also wrote under the pseudonym, Barbara Vine. After the death last year of fellow British crime writing legend P. D. James, Ruth was described as the last Grande Dame of the police thrillers. Sadly, it is now up to another author to pick up the mantle.

If you would like to read or listen to any of her novels just visit our catalogue. We have many of her titles in print form, audio books, eBooks and eAudio.


Wednesday, 6 May 2015

New fiction titles for May

The following new titles are now available on our library catalogue. Simply click on your chosen title to be transported to The Vault. You can place FREE holds, browse our extensive new book and AV collections, download eBooks and eAudio and read magazines and newspapers, all at the click of a button.

Scarlet gospels Clive Barker
Mrs Pargeter’s principle Simon Brett
Tail gait Rita Mae Brown
Royal wedding Meg Cabot
Ming tea murder Laura Childs
Texas tough Janet Dailey
Silver kings Stephen Deas
Ever after Jude Deveraux
Earth bound Christine Feehan
Drowned boy Karin Fossum
Friday on my mind Nicci French
Dead in the water Ann Granger
Harvest man Alex Grecian
Summer secrets Jane Green
Skeleton plot J.M Gregson
Flower arrangement Ella Griffin
Darkness on his bones Barbara Hambly
Keep the home fires burning Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Flood David Hewson
Never die alone Lisa Jackson
Legacy of Greyladies Anna Jacobs
You are dead Peter James
Hand of god Philip Kerr
Black ops Stephen Leather
Charlie Martz and other stories Elmore Leonard
Fall John Lescroart
Trust me Claire Lorrimer
How to start a fire Lisa Lutz
22 dead little bodies Stuart MacBride
Plague of the Manitou Graham Masterton
State of emergency Andy McNab
Double down Fern Michaels
My mother’s secret Sheila O’Flanagan
Untamed Diana Palmer
Brush back Sara Paretsky
Slaughter man Tony Parsons
Long Utopia Terry Pratchett
Troll Mountain Matthew Reilly
Confessions at Maddleskirk Abbey Nicholas Rhea
No mortal thing Gerald Seymour
English spy Daniel Silva

Reserve your copy today to avoid the queue!


Monday, 4 May 2015

Zinio Magazine of the Month: Australian Homespun

Australian Homespun magazine is a place of inspiration; it combines creative techniques with a vast array of styles and themes taken from a team of leading craftspeople throughout Australia and the world. Australian Homespun is a publication that is at the forefront of the industry, made by people who are passionate about craft. Each issue of the magazine features step-by-step easy-to-follow project ideas and accompanying patterns sheets, a variety of crafts including quilts to bags to dolls, inspirational photographs of fantastic finished products plus interesting reads to engage and entertain.

May’s edition of Australian Homespun is all about ‘melt-your-heart animal projects,’ so what’s not to love? Discover the pattern and instructions for making a teddy-bear’s picnic quilt and how to make your own carousel horse cushions! Plus, learning how to make cat and kitten softies is ideal for feline fans! Don’t miss out on this fantastic edition of Australian Homespun this May.

To download this magazine FREE from Zinio, simply click on the magazine cover. Click here to view our entire Zinio collection. If you need further assistance with creating an account, please don’t hesitate to contact library staff for additional help.


Friday, 1 May 2015

Broadchurch: Season one

It's a hot July morning in the Dorset town of Broadchurch when Beth Latimer realises that her eleven-year-old son, Danny, is missing. As Beth searches desperately for her boy, her best friend, local police officer DS Ellie Miller, arrives at work to find that the promotion she was promised has been given to disreputable Scottish outsider DI Alec Hardy. When Danny's body is found on the beach Ellie must work alongside DI Hardy to solve the mystery. As the case becomes a murder investigation the news hits the national press, jolting sleepy Broadchurch into the national spotlight.As the town's secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Right now it's impossible to know who to trust...

Broadchurch: season one is the highly acclaimed British drama series starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman. Set in a small seaside town of Broadchurch, the storyline focuses on the murder of eleven year old Danny Latimer. On the surface the town seems like a typical idyllic English town but as the residents secrets start to unravel, everyone appears to have something to hide.

The plot is extremely well written and I can see why it has won both critical acclaim and multiple awards. The actors are brilliantly cast and I found the murderer reveal to be particularly harrowing. The final question of “How could you not know?” stays with you long after the credits have finished. This is easily one of the best TV dramas I have seen.


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