Wednesday, 31 August 2016

The Mangle Street Murders: Gower Street Detective Series by M.R.C. Kasasian

“Sidney Grice, London's most famous personal detective, is expecting a visitor. He drains his fifth pot of morning tea, and glances outside, where a young, plain woman picks her way between the piles of horse-dung towards his front door. Sidney Grice shudders. For heaven's sake - she is wearing brown shoes.”

I downloaded the book onto my iPad and started reading it while I was on holidays overseas as just something to fill my time with while on long haul bus/train trips. And I have to say I loved it so much, I read the full series (4 books and more coming) in couple of weeks. It’s a detective series set in the Victorian London, with the main protagonist being an assistant to a personal detective. And I say personal and not private. This is one of the on-going jokes throughout the book. The detective is reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot in the way he solves his cases, but with his own very distinct personality.

The story is well written and keeps you engaged until the last page, so much so that I just want to find out what happens in the next installation straight away. It is funny, gruesome, and being set in the period, at times quite disheartening and frustrating to the female gender. The protagonist, March, is a young woman whose views and manners are quite unorthodox and progressive for the time, who works alongside a quite chauvinistic, aristocratic and traditional gentleman, Sidney, so that relationship dynamic is very interesting. The story is as much about a murder of a young wife and the ensuing case as it is about relationship between March and Sidney.

Definitely worth reading for any detective buffs out there, but also just a great read for anyone who is quite happy to immerse themselves in a good historical fiction.


Monday, 29 August 2016

Miles Franklin winner for 2016

A.S. Patrić has won the 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award for Black Rock White City. Widely praised as emotionally powerful, challenging, and deeply affective, it tells a story of the migrant experience in Australia.

Black Rock White City is a novel about the damages of war, the limits of choice, and the hope of love. During a hot Melbourne summer Jovan’s cleaning work at a bayside hospital is disrupted by acts of graffiti and violence becoming increasingly malevolent. For Jovan the mysterious words that must be cleaned away dislodge the poetry of the past. He and his wife Suzana were forced to flee Sarajevo and the death of their children.

Intensely human, yet majestic in its moral vision, Black Rock White City is an essential story of Australia’s suburbs now, of displacement and immediate threat, and the unexpected responses of two refugees as they try to reclaim their dreams. It is a breathtaking roar of energy that explores the immigrant experience with ferocity, beauty and humour.

The Miles Franklin literary award was established in 1954 by the estate of My Brilliant Career author Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin to celebrate the Australian character and creativity. It is Australia’s most prestigious literary award.

Congratulations A.S Patrić!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Searching for Sugar Man

Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary released in Australia in 2012, charts the uneven career of musician, Sixto Rodriguez. The Mexican born American, released two albums in the seventies in the U.S. without any success and was largely forgotten over there. Meanwhile in Australia and South Africa, his albums without any significant backing or fanfare were hugely popular and influential.

But what of Sixto Rodriguez? Rumours circulated about an untimely death and could easily have remained as much if not for two South African fans who decided to do some investigating into someone who was seminal not only in their lives but spoke for an entire generation of South Africans; a soundtrack to their lives.

And so begins the documentary, directed and written by Malik Bendjelloul who charts the quest by, Stephen "Sugar" Segerman and Craig Bartholomew Strydom to uncover the fate of the Sugarman – a reference to the artist from one of his best known songs.

The documentary is unusual in that it examines its subject from the point of view of two of its fans and consequently proceeds like a mystery. This approach illuminates the artist as much as the effect that he had on a generation and one as far removed as apartheid South Africa of the 1970’s. Perhaps the most remarkable thing that the documentary shows is that while all of this was taking place, the artist himself was completely oblivious. Rodriguez was in fact working in construction and sunk in obscurity until the late 90’s when he was finally located and began to tour in South Africa first and subsequently the world, as his music was re-released, this time to more popular appeal.

The discovery of the man Rodriguez was one of more than just a gifted musical communicator but of a wonderfully spirited man; humble and congenial and without a trace of bitterness or regret but one of utter acceptance.

The documentary is triumphant in its humanity, primarily of Rodriguez but also of those fans who once they had discovered his existence were largely influential in returning him the success that he now enjoys.

If you enjoy documentaries and especially musical documentaries, then this is fantastic tribute to a very talented musician and a wonderful person.


Monday, 22 August 2016

The winners of the CBCA Book of the Year Awards 2016

The Children's Book Council of Australia has announced their Book of the Year award winners for 2016. Now in their 70th year, the awards celebrate the best of Australian books for readers from early childhood up to young adult readers.

Here are the winners for each category:

Cloudwish Fiona Wood (Older readers)
Soon Morris Gleitzman (Younger readers)
Mr Huff Anna Walker (Early Childhood)
Flight Armin Greder (Picture Book)
Lennie the Legend: solo to Sydney by pony Stephanie Owen Reeder (Eve Pownall Award for Information Books)

For more information on the awards please visit the CBCA website.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The shortlist for the 2016 Inky Awards has been announced!

The Inky Awards are an annual literary prize for the best new Young Adult books as voted for by teen readers. There are two awards: the Gold Inky Award for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky Award for an international book.

Gold Inky Award Shortlist

The Flywheel by Erin Gough
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Sister Heart by Sally Morgan
Green Valentine by Lili Wilkinson
Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Silver Inky Award Shortlist

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens agenda by Becky Albertalli
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

Voting will be open until 18 September and anyone aged 12-20 can vote via the Inside A Dog website. The winners will be announced on 4th October. Over the next few weeks our Children’s and Youth Services team will be reviewing various titles for you.


Monday, 15 August 2016

Coming of Age : Growing up Muslim in Australia

This honest and engaging book explores youth identity through the eyes of 12 different young Australian Muslims.

There are some funny, honest, warm and determined stories which I found intriguing to read. There is the footballer, the atheist, the lesbian, the writer, and many more contributors to a great collection of short stories about growing up Muslim in Australia. There are stories with themes of body image, discrimination, faith, gender, romance and career to name a few.

Reading over the accounts of these teenagers transported me back to my adolescent years, and I found it remarkable how there were so many similarities and at, at the same time, differences.

I think this book has helped me understand this chapter in the journeys of the young writers’ lives, and shown me how whatever faith (or not), teenage years are all about discovering who you are.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Gotta catch 'em all!

Have you or your kids been caught up in the Pokémon Go craze? Are you desperate to catch an elusive Pikachu, Farfetch’d or Ditto? Well you're in luck as we have the perfect magazine to help you!

The complete guide to Pokémon GO explains everything you need to know about Pokémon Go. Brought to you by the editors of PC Advisor and Macworld UK it outlines how to play Pokémon GO, shares essential tips and tricks and reveals how to find gyms and catch rare Pokémon. It also lists new features coming to Pokémon GO, explains Pokémon GO Plus, and has a beginner's guide to Pokémon GO.

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.

Happy hunting!


Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Not that Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

For fans of the TV series Girls, Lena Dunham’s semi-autobiography/advice manual follows in the same vein. Her humour is blatant and sometimes over-the-top, a far-cry from my usual reading material. But it is testament to her creative skill as a writer that I am always curious to continue reading the next chapter.

Some might find her manner crude, others may enjoy her forthright and often embarrassing use of personal anecdotes to illustrate the sometimes sad, often complex nature of being a female, paralleling fellow funny female, Mindy Kaling in her book Why not me?

From boyfriends and sibling rivalry to therapists and becoming famous in America, Dunham plumes the depths of her experience, offering it up for criticism, empathy and enjoyment.


Monday, 8 August 2016

My Dead Bunny by Sigi Cohen

“My dead bunny’s name is Brad;
His odour is extermly bad.
He visits me when I’m in bed,
But Bradley wasn’t always dead....”

Presenting another nominee shortlisted in the picture book category for a Children’s Book Council of Australia award... with a ghoulish twist.

My Dead Bunny presents as a dark but humorous rhyming tale, about a pet rabbit turned zombie bunny taken to haunting its former family. Due to the slightly deranged narrative and somewhat skewed illustrations, I think this book would particularly appeal to boys aged 7+. It may be a good book for a Halloween theme. Or, sharing a spooky story around the camp fire. Or, if you simply like zombies. The illustrator James Foley has paid homage to horror like visuals by using a black and white palette, looming shadows, and slime green for anything scary-like. The storyboard effect is reminiscent of a graphic novel.

This is Sigi Cohens first book, and a ‘freakishly’ good effort in collaboration with Foley.

Keep a lookout for many more CBCA book reviews on the Read and Relax Blog! You can also visit the CBCA website for more information.

Happy Reading!


CBCA book reviews

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

My dog Bigsy by Alison Lester

Alison Lester is one of Australia’s most recognizable children’s authors. A picture book collection is not complete without her titles. She mixes everyday life with imaginary worlds. So it is not surprising that her latest book My dog Bigsy has been shortlisted for a highly decorated Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) award - early childhood category.

The plot is simple; we follow a farm dog visiting fellow animals on the farm. It is Lester’s clever use of noise effects to move the narrative along that makes this book a stand out – with a “squawk, neigh, quack, moo, baa, oink, cluck, purr, ruff ruff ruff!” You’ll be surprised how many ways a dog can say ‘woof’! Also, her subtle, crafty, college inspired illustrations make a clean visual for young eyes.

Check out some of Alison Lester’s other books in our library:

Keep a lookout for many more CBCA book reviews on the Read and Relax Blog! You can also visit the CBCA website for more information.

Happy Reading!


Monday, 1 August 2016

The eighth story, nineteen years later...

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two part West End play written by Jack Thorne, based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. It is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play is currently enjoying a sold out run on London's West End.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

While I have yet to read the book myself, it is receiving mixed reviews online. Those expecting a novel will be disappointed (it is 350 pages of play dialogue) and although it may contain familiar characters and story lines, this is not your typical Harry Potter book. So what do you think? Will you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?

You can reserve your copy here. It is available in both print and downloadable eBook formats.