Monday, 23 October 2017

The winner of the Man Booker Prize 2017

Book cover image of Lincoln and the Bardo
The winner of this years Man Booker prize is Lincoln and the Bardo by George Saunders.

In 1862 Abraham Lincoln is grief stricken after the death of his young son Willie. As he roams the graveyard where his son has just been buried, Willie is trapped in the ghostly world between the dead and the living - drawn to his father but surrounded by the recently deceased and the long dead.

"Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices,Lincoln and the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life".

The work is the first full length novel from American short story writer George Saunders. The Man Booker prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original novel written in the English language and published in the UK.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Book cover image of Behind her eyes
In Behind her eyes, Louise is a single mother that works part time at a medical centre. She shared kiss with a stranger in the pub only to find out the next day that he is her new boss and he is married to a beautiful woman.
Very soon she becomes involved in their life and she is not sure whom to believe - husband David who is always half drunk or wife Adele who has to hide her friendship with Louise from her husband.
What did happen in the past, what did happen to Adele’s parents and why are Dave and Adele are still together?
Find out for yourself.
Once you start reading Behind her eyes you will have to finish it. I really enjoyed this book.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

One Photo by Ross Watkins ; Illustrated by Liz Anelli

Book cover image of One Photo
Children’s picture books cover an enormous range of subjects. Many are light and entertaining ; as they should be. One Photo is a book of tragedy and heartbreak. It is a serious read.

This book tackles a difficult subject with beneficial outcomes for readers. It is a book for every family who is willing to face the potential of grief and loss in their own or others’ circumstances. We never know what life has in store for us. Our children can benefit greatly by being exposed to a range of experiences through books. It can be the basis of conversation that can raise questions and allow children, and adults to develop empathy for others. It can help to build resilience and to develop strategies for dealing with pain and loss.

One Photo is a deeply moving book. It examines the roles we play in our families. Sometimes the children are the leaders and remind the adults of what they have forgotten. Always, we need to support each other when things start to change.
Liz Anelli’s illustrations are heart-warming and heart-breaking. The mother, the son and the cat are touchingly portrayed as the story unfolds. The father is seen only from a distance or from an angle that doesn’t show his face. His photos tell his story. We see the pain in the faces of his family and in the text that is so beautifully crafted by Ross Watkins.
One Photo was shortlisted for the Childrens Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2017

Friday, 13 October 2017

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Book cover image of Astrophysics for people in a hurry
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an eminent cosmologist and one of the world’s premier science communicators. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is an illuminating and witty exposition about what science currently knows concerning the nature and history of the universe. Though the ideas are mind blowing they are presented with clarity and concision. The book delivers an awe inspiring insight into some of science’s most incredible ideas and discoveries.
The big bang, the theory of relativity and the mystery of dark matter are some of the subjects explored. DeGrasse Tyson relates how the elements forged inside stars form the building blocks of life thereby linking humans to the great unfolding cosmic story. I highly recommend Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Book cover image of Salvage
Salvage is Martin Rodoreda's thought provoking debut novel set in dystopian future Sydney. A future caused by global warming and a past resource war, the remaining population have been forced to life crammed under a protective dome and those who were left outside have mutated in a feral parody of humans, cannibalistic and wild.
This is very interesting and thoughtful book which will grip the reader and will keep them enthralled from the start. It follows Silver, a strong female character, who is part of a salvage team who scourge the old suburbs looking for anything of value to bring back to the dome.
Martin Rodoreda makes some interesting points about greed and political corruption, and though the world has gone to ruin, how people can use their power to feed their greed to the detriment of others. Salvage is a book for this generation dealing with global warming and its effect on the future.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Triangle by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Book cover image of Triangle
Triangle tells the story of Triangle, a mischievous prankster who lives in a triangle shaped house in a triangle village. He embarks on a journey to visit his friend Square, whom he intends to play a sneaky trick on. What follows is a simple, yet intriguing adventure story that you won’t be able to read just once!

The story is delightfully funny, the text is minimal and much of the humour is drawn from the pace and tone of the narrative which makes it really fun to read aloud. The illustrations are some of Jon Klassen’s finest, drawn in neutral colours with so much depth and texture, very different to the solid, bright colours featured in other children’s picture books.

The book is fun to read and fantastic listen to. Children will enjoy the quirky shape creatures and their antics, set amongst a beautifully illustrated backdrop. The ending is sure to start a conversation amongst readers and their audience!

I would recommend Triangle to children of all ages. It is adored by my two year old son and is currently his favourite bedtime story that we read over and over again! We cannot wait for the next two instalments in the upcoming Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen 'Shape Trilogy', ‘Square’ (to be released in 2018) and ‘Circle’ (to be released in 2019), to see what adventures they will get up to next!


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life

Unfu*k yourself : get out of your head and into your life
Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Life is yet another self-empowerment guide that joins the likes of Life-changing magic of not giving a f*ck, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, You are a bad ass, and F*ck Feelings.
It offers an honest, no-nonsense, tough-love approach to help you move past you own self-imposed limitations and ‘self-talk’. It covers divorce, loss, failure, burden, health…..

I feel many self-help reads out in the market are full of far too much detail and gooey love yourself concepts. Once you have read them, you will have a life changing epiphany and be able to solve all simply by following their concepts. This book would appeal to anyone with little time, as it is relatively easy to follow and is short, neatly packed into a quick read and is nearly not as "offensive" as Gary tries to make it out to be.

Originating in Scotland and moving to the U.S. Gary John Bishop, comes from a background of personal development with a lifelong commitment to changing people’s lives utilising a no-frills approach. As a result, he has an increasing worldwide following and has developed a world leading personal development company. He has coached top athletes to fortune 500 company executives and now has self-published his ‘urban philosophy’ to appeal to the general reader that represents a new wave of personal empowerment reads.

Curious? Then borrow this book from the library, have a browse, if you are not easily offended by urban speak and determine if it makes a life changing impact in your life. If you are easily offended, then Gary himself urges you to stop reading and re-gift - or in our case - lend this book to someone else in your life that may benefit from it.


Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Tunnel by Anthony Browne

Book cover image of The Tunnel
Beautifully written text with haunting paintings by Anthony Browne, The Tunnel tells an intriguing fantasy story about sibling rivalry and how their love for one another transformed their relationship. The two main characters are siblings Rose and Jack. The story follows the two going for a walk after having an argument.

Soon Jack discovers a tunnel, which he crawls through alone. After waiting for Jack to return, Rose builds up the courage to crawl through the “damp and slimy” tunnel to find him. In spite of her inner fears, Rose followed her brother into a mysterious tunnel, through a frightening wood. There she finds her brother Jack has been turned to stone, but Rose’s love and tears bring Jack back to life. The experience bonds the two and as they return home they smile at one another when their mum asks "Is everything alright"?

The main problem that Rose faces in The Tunnel is conquering her fears to save her brother, this is something both children and adults can relate to - that they need to conquer their fear in life to achieve the outcomes they desire.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Vote for new books !

Greater Dandenong Libraries has introduced its new book selection tool. You can register and vote for the books you would like the library to buy.

Click on the Vote for new books link on the right or Vote here. Enter your email address and Library card number to see the current selection.

Vote now and have your say in our collection.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Suri's Wall by Lucy Estela, illustrated by Matthey Ottley.

Book cover image of Suri's Wall
Suri’s Wall tells the story of a young girl named Suri who lives with lots of other children in a grand, old building located on the side of a mountain overlooking the local town below. However, despite the other children being of similar age to Suri, the children were afraid of Suri as she was much taller than they were. Suri spent many days and nights feeling lonely and found companionship in the big, stone wall that surrounded their home.

One day, Suri realised that she was suddenly tall enough to see over the stone wall and could see the beautiful view of the town and surrounds from where she stood. The other children noticed this and began to approach Suri to find out what the world beyond the wall looked like. Suri delighted in using her imagination to tell her new friends about the spectacular view from their big, grand building. The children continued to ask Suri every day about what she could see over the wall until one day, everything changed.

Suri’s friend Luca noticed there were some big, loud bangs and asked Suri to tell him what she could see. Despite seeing the turmoil across the wall, Suri chose to allow their innocence to continue for just a little while longer and used her wonderful imagination to once again delight her friends with the possibilities of an exciting life on the other side of the friendly wall.

Suri’s Wall leaves you asking many questions throughout the story while you feel for Suri as she relies on resilience in her lonely life followed by navigating new friendships as the story progresses. The confronting reality of war impacts the final pages of the story which in turn compels you to turn right back to the first page and read the entire story again.

The beautiful illustrations throughout enhance the emotions you feel as you read each page and the way the author has unraveled the story leave you eager to find out what is on the following page, even before you have had a chance to appreciate the the words on the current page. Suri’s Wall is a lovely story to read with a primary school aged child who will have many questions as you move your way through this emotional tale.
Amanda C.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Into the water by Paula Hawkins

Book cover image of Into the water
Into the water is the follow up to the very successful Girl on the train by Paula Hawkins. It is based on a series of deaths in a small English town. Like Girl on the train, the story alternates between different narrators, although this time there are a larger cast of characters, which can be quite challenging to keep up with, but it is interesting to get the different character's points of view and the story moves at a good pace with the intrigue gradually building.

Jules has come back to her hometown of Beckford after the drowning death of her sister Nel. Nel’s teenage daughter Lana is reeling from this bereavement and also from the apparent suicide of her best friend Katie. These two are part of a long line of women who have met untimely ends in the waters of Beckford’s “drowning pool”. Nel had been documenting and photographing the pool and its history as a project, now strangely she has become one of the victims of it. Did she drown herself, or was she killed? Jules’ suspicions increase as she finds out Nel had more than a few people in town unhappy about her little project.

As the background stories of all the characters are revealed, their connections and secrets slowly emerge. There are enough motives amongst many of the characters to keep you guessing who the culprit is (which is not revealed until the last page). There is an eerie quality to the story, with a hint of the supernatural, and Hawkins writing is sharp and self-assured, making it easy to read. If you like suspense and were a fan of her first novel, you will enjoy Into the water.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Mr Chicken arriva a Roma by Leigh Hobbs

Book cover image of Mr Chicken arriva a Roma
“Fantastico”! That is, Italian for ‘fantastic’ - an appropriate exclamation for the third installment of this popular picture book series. No surprise that Mr Chicken arriva a Roma (Mr Chicken arrives in Rome) is a 2017 CBCA Notable. Its veteran author/illustrator Leigh Hobbs holds the distinguished title of Australian Children’s Laureate for 16/17.

Leigh Hobbs has mastered a distinct visual style which I would like to coin ‘scratchy sketch’. His artistic talent has created other memorable lead characters such as Horrible Harriet and Old Tom. Signor Pollo aka Mr Chicken also falls into that category, an oversized, overzealous creature that mostly resembles a chicken, with a taste for travel to the big smokes… check out Mr Chicken Goes to Paris and Mr Chicken Lands on London.
Mr Chicken cuts a unique figure wherever in the world he is, introducing the reader to city and culture via visits to popular tourist sites. This series is like an introductory travel guide for children with some foreign language skills in the mix.
They say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. In Mr Chicken arriva a Roma Mr Chicken lives it up faster than a Contiki Tour, with a penchant for eating gelato, lots of it. And of course, pasta. “Delizioso”! (delicious).
The big question is, where in the world will Mr Chicken end up next….?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Why'd they wear that ? by Sarah Albee

Cover image of Why did they wear that

Sarah Albee writes Why'd they wear that : Fashion as the mirror of history, so get ready to chuckle your way through centuries of fashion dos and don'ts ! The book is a humorous approach about outrageous, politically-perilous, funky, disgusting, regrettable, and life-threatening creations that people have worn throughout the course of human history. Why people wore what they did is an illuminating way to look at the social, economic, political, and moral climates throughout history.

As a whole, the book is attractively designed, conversationally written, informative, and with narrow enough focuses to really interest. I adored the clothes of days gone by. Full of images that depict the time to show off every bustle, frill, and rivet, this wide-ranging guide to clothing throughout time will fascinate history and fashion buffs alike.

Albee gives overviews of Renaissance, Elizabethan, and Baroque fashions (among many others), while highlighting how economic and social changes were often directly reflected in clothing—during the Great Depression, for instance, costume jewelry replaced more expensive accessories. Why'd they wear that is an insightful study of how clothing is influenced by society as well as informing future creativity.

Monday, 11 September 2017

New fiction for September 2017

Book Cover image of Two kinds of truthBook cover image of Tell taleBook cover image of Two steps forward

Stock up on the latest new titles from popular authors such as Jeffrey Archer, Michael Connelly and Graeme Simsion

In the midst of Winter Isabel Allende
Shattered memories Virginia Andrews
Tell tale Jeffrey Archer
End game David Baldacci
Mrs Osmond John Banville
Agatha Raisin and the witches' tree M.C. Beaton
Every breath you take Mary Higgins Clark
Two kinds of truth Michael Connelly
Fools and mortals Bernard Cornwell
Cuban Affair Nelson DeMille
Manhattan beach Jennifer Egan
It girls Karen Harper
Sleep no more P.D. James
Killing season Faye Kellerman
Road brothers Mark Lawrence
Five-carat soul James McBride
Suddenly one Summer Fleur McDonald
Passage of love Alex Miller
Red Coast Di Morrissey
Darkest Day Hakan Nesser
Magic lamp Ben Okri
Wyoming Winter Diana Palmer
A spot of folly Ruth Rendell
Deep freeze John Sandford
Two steps forward Graeme Simsion Anne Buist
From the stars above Peter Watt

Simply click on your chosen title/s and you will be directed to The Vault, where you can place your holds. Want ideas for what to read next? Ask our friendly staff for a recommendation.

Friday, 8 September 2017

The winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2017 is...

Book cover image of ExtinctionsImage of Josephine Wilson
Josephine Wilson for her novel Extinctions. The novel explores the life of a retired engineering professor Frederick Lothian who has become a virtual recluse after his wife dies and he is estranged from his children.
Through meeting his neighbor Jan, he is encouraged to engage with life again and explore the impact of secrets and lies in his life. It explores the themes of ageing, adoption, grief, empathy and self-centeredness.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award, now in it's 60th year, was established through the will of My Brilliant Career author Miles Franklin for the advancement and improvement of Australian literature.
The prize, worth $60000, is given to the novel with the "highest literary merit" which presents "Australian life in any of its phases".

Other shortlisted titles for the prize were :
An Isolated Incident Emily Maguire
Waiting Philip Salom
The last days of Ava Langdon Mark O' Flynn
Their brilliant careers Ryan O' Neill
Congratulations to the winner and nominees.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Boss Baby (DVD)

Cover image of The Boss Baby DVD
I watched The Boss Baby with my four year old daughter and despite being a bit sceptical at the start, I actually ended up really enjoying this film.  It has a great storyline and many funny moments. The basic storyline involves a seven year old boy named Tim who has everything he could possibly want, especially receiving all the love and attention from his parents. But that’s all about to change one day when a baby dressed in a black suit, wearing a black tie, and carrying a briefcase arrives on the family’s doorstep. Suddenly everything changes and as weird as it seems, all of Tim’s parents love and attention turn to the new baby named “Boss Baby”. Tim can’t work out why his parents can’t find anything strange with a baby that wears a suit and tie and carries around a briefcase. Oh the baby also talks too! Anyhow, Tim and Boss Baby are constantly fighting with each other over who is the boss of the house and unfortunately for Tim, the baby always wins out. That is until one day they decide to work together to stop an evil plot whereby someone wants to make puppies rule the whole world. It’s time for these two brothers to team up and save the world! The Boss Baby is a great family movie that anyone can watch.

Monday, 4 September 2017

The colour thief : a family's story of depression by Andrew Fusek Peters & Polly Peters

The colour thief is a beautifully illustrated book recounting a child's experience of losing his father to depression. The boy’s father disappears into a world without color. We follow a young boy who loves spending time with his Dad, doing fun things together. When his father becomes sad and distant, he doesn't understand and believes he has done something to make his dad so, despite being told otherwise. Time passes and his father begins to get happier again and they have fun together like before.
As the father seeks help, color begins to reappear and with it hope. An ideal book for parents and caregivers to share with children to help them make sense of the devastating effects that depression can cause. The colour thief is a simple, heart-warming tale which helps to open up the conversations around depression and to support young children whose families have been affected.

Friday, 1 September 2017

The Princess Diarist - a sort of memoir by Carrie Fisher

During the filming of the first, original “Star Wars” movie, actress Carrie Fisher had kept her own journals which she would later discover (in the period of the reprised Star Wars in 2015) and publish in this biography The Princess Diarist…a sort of memoir.
Fisher’s until now very private romantic relationship with co-star Harrison Ford is revealed in all of her then naivety. Her descriptions of the backdrop of the hugely popular Star Wars films show the tentative steps towards Fisher’s sense of self as an actress and young woman.
Arguably, no one actor could be as instantly recognized (in costume) as Princess Leia. Fisher describes later in the book the joys and insanity of celebrity. Her role as Princess Leia would provide her with a purpose and “ongoingness” for many years to come, with fan autograph-signing, public appearances and her featuring in the latest Star Wars films, before her sad death in 2016.
The Princess Diarist…a sort of memoir has many shrewd, introspective insights, as well as whimsical poetry, in this enjoyable and funny biography.
My favourite quote from Carrie’s personal reflection as to how others would come to see her:
“I should let people I meet do the work of piecing me together until they can complete, or mostly complete, the puzzle. And when they’re finished they can look at the picture that they’ve managed to piece together and decide whether they like it or not. On their own time. Let them discover you.”

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Withering-by-Sea - A Stella Montgomery Intrigue by Judith Rossell

Judith Rossell is one of my favourite Junior Fiction authors. I read Withering-by-Sea when it first came out. When I saw she had written another “Stella Montgomery Intrigue” (Wormwood Mire) I was excited and eager to read it. However to refresh my memory and be part of the intrigue and anticipation, I re-read “Withering-by-Sea” and I was not disappointed. Both stories are full of adventure and captivating.

In Withering-by-Sea Stella, an 11 year old orphan, who has mysterious heritage full of secrecy and “possible scandal”, goes to live with her old maiden Aunts named Condolence, Temperance and Deliverance at the Hotel Majestic near the sea. A place where unwell people went to taste ancient spring waters “healing properties” and experience the baths while convalescing. Stella rebels against what a young girl should be doing and that is learning to be a “lady” by studying “Pianoforte, Deportment, Needlework and French” as they did in Victorian times. Stella has a curious and inquisitive mind that gets her into trouble on numerous occasions and meets with her Aunts disapproval, “Curiosity is vulgar, Silence is golden” (many of these Aunts sayings appear throughout the book).

I love what I consider, a play on words with the title of the book Withering-by-Sea. This is a feeling I sometimes get from Stella’s demeanour as she tries, on so many levels, to fight against her dull and depressing existence. Her only comfort was a tatty and slightly charred old Atlas that was full of new discoveries. She was often the only child, lonely and isolated. Her only sanctuary was the conservatory room made of glass, full of exotic plants.

At the conservatory one day, she noticed the new mysterious “foreign” gentleman Mr Filbert acting suspiciously, hiding an object in a plant pot. While she was there she witnessed a confrontation and a strange incident with another patron “The Professor” and an urchin boy (This boy befriends Stella and enlightens her that she is “special”). As Mr Filbert lay injured he told her to “Hide it and Keep it safe”. Now Stella was an unofficial custodian of this mysterious object.
Along the way, Stella finds answers to the questions of what this object is and why it is so important. Also during this time, she finds a photo of a lady standing with two babies in a pram outside mansion titled “Wormwood Mire”. Could this lady be her mother? Then why are there two babies in the photograph?
Which leads us nicely into the next “Stella Montgomery Intrigue” book - Wormwood Mire.
(Stay tuned for my next review).

Monday, 28 August 2017

Murder and magic - The zig zag girl by Elly Griffiths

The zig zag girl is told by Max Mephisto, a very famous, well-educated and wealthy magician. With his keen investigative mind and the help of an ex-war buddy turned policeman, they manage to solve mysterious murders.
The plot involves a group of magicians who are recruited into the British army during WW2 to form a shadowy unit called the Magic Men, to use their magical talents to confuse the enemy by any means possible along the coast between Britain and Europe.
Many years later in 1950 Brighton after the war, one of the magician’s former assistants is murdered in the same fashion as a magic trick ‘The Zig Zag’ that the Mighty Mephisto is famous for. Incensed by this murder he is now determined to find out who the murderer is.
The suspects are eliminated one by one and the murderer is finally revealed. I must admit the ending surprised me, let me know if you worked out who did it! However it was fun reading all the clues and trying solve the puzzles.
I really enjoyed reading The zig zag girl because of the Magicians aspect and the peculiar murder scenes.

Friday, 25 August 2017

The cat wants custard by Paul Crumble, illustrated by Lucinda Gifford

Kevin the cat decides that he wants to eat custard and that nothing else will suffice, including chicken in gravy or sardines. However his silly human can’t seem to get the message no matter what he does, what is a crafty kitty to do?
The cat wants custard is one of the funniest picture story books I have read in a while. It’s clever and embraces the cat stereotypes that have made them such a popular pet. When his human tries to pet him Kevin says that if they do they will not be getting their hand back in one piece (While looking like he wants a pet of course).

The pictures are simple but colourful, the dialogue is snarky and fun, so if your little one likes cats and you want a little giggle I recommend this picture book. I can see why it is a nominee for the Children's Book Council of Australia Early Childhood Notables 2017.
Lauren F.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Unforgettable what’s his name by Paul Jennings, illustrated by Craig Smith

The Unforgettable what's his name is about a boy who is struggling to find his place in the world and figure out where he fits in, a struggle that is real to many young people.

Thanks to his “friend” Gertag he is known as “what’s his name”.

There is something special about this young boy though, as his emotions change, he gets scared or nervous, he has the ability to blend in with his surroundings which make this adventure an interesting one to say the least.
With bikies chasing him, monkeys escaping from the zoo you are sure to go on an epic adventure with some funny toilet humour to keep it interesting.
Craig Smith's illustrations are great and help you feel like you are in the story.

The Unforgettable what's his name has twists and turns to keep you guessing, but you will have to wait until the end of the book to find out the name of the unforgettable “what’s his name”.

This book is one of the CBCA Notable Books for younger readers 2017


Monday, 21 August 2017

Winners of the CBCA Book of the Year awards

It's Children's Book Week and to kick it off the National Children's Book Council of Australia awards have been announced. The awards celebrate the best of Australian books for readers from early childhood up to young adult readers.
The winners are :

Picture Book of the year - Home in the rain Bob Graham
Book of the year : Younger Readers - Rockhopping Trace Balla
Book of the year : Early Childhood - Go home cheeky animals Johanna Bell, illustrated by Dion Beasley
Book of the year : Older Readers - One would think the deep Clair Zorn

This week our blog will feature reviews of Children's Book Council of Australia Notable Books.

See all the nominees on our Children's Book Week page and more information on the CBCA Awards Website

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The science of Stupid : the specials - DVD

The science of stupid: the specials is not your typical National Geographic production nor is it textbook science education. The novel element of comedy makes this DVD a delight to watch over and over again.

The format of the show is simple yet effective. Firstly, the viewer is presented with cute and humorous video clips of misguided animals and people performing various actions. Then with the help of simple animation, the footage is dissected for basic science concepts. Through this clever way of delivering information, you will quickly learn that for every one of those actions (call them painful stunts), there will be an equal and opposite reaction (uncontrolled laughter) on your part.

Among other fascinating facts, you will also learn why the Christmas period is sometime called the silly season, and the importance of centre of gravity and base of support when performing movements.

The science of stupid is not just for science buffs. It's creative and energetic delivery of science concepts has mass appeal. It is a fine example of guilt free viewing that entertains and enlightens. I strongly recommend it to young and old, particularly those people that can not resist cute animal video clips. Not only will you have a good laugh but you will also be reminded of the fundamental part science plays in our daily lives.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Two Days, One night - DVD

I will start with one critic's review of this film which says:
“No sex, no chases, no cyberterrorism. Just people interacting” (Peter Travers, American film critic). I totally agree.

Two days, one night is an emotionally resonant drama about one family in Europe. Sandra is a young working class wife and mother of two beautiful children. She works at a small company. Feeling better after time off coping with depression, she planned to return to work but her boss told her that the job she has been doing is no longer required. If she leaves, her workmates will receive bonuses, but if she keeps her job they have to give them up. She has 2 days and 1 night (one weekend) to find her colleagues and explain to them her dreadful situation.

Do they want to save Sandra’s employment and help her family in a difficult time?

Two days, one night is a drama that so many young families are familiar with, not just in Europe but around the modern global world. But behind this human tale is actually one warm, beautiful, loving family. Sandra, played by Academy Award-winner, the brilliant Marion Cotillard (from La Vie en Rose), with her husband’s support found the way at the end to understand what is really most important in their lives. Despite everything, “nada” (read : hope) for better days will prevail.

This DVD is available in our World DVD and French DVD collections (In French, with English subtitles).

If you like to watch a movie about people who struggle but never give up, then this is one for you.

Friday, 11 August 2017

What's new in August

Get in early for these new releases from popular authors like Harlen Coben, Anna Jacobs, Andy McNab and Lisa Scottoline

Scarred woman Jussi Adler-Olsen
New England affair Steven Carroll
Don't let go Harlan Coben
Damaged Martina Cole
Highland sisters Anne Douglas
Lover, wartime notebooks, practicalities Marguerite Duras
Fresh complaint Jeffrey Eugenides
First person Richard Flanagan
Enemy of the state Vince Flynn
Pulse Felix Francis
Dangerous language Sulari Gentill
Rooster bar John Grisham
Munich Robert Harris
Shadow play Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
Rules of magic Alice Hoffman
Saffron lane Anna Jacobs
Sleeping beauties Stephen King
Any dream will do Debbie Macomber
After the fire Henning Mankell
Time of love and tartan Alexander McCall Smith

King Solomon's Curse Andy McDermott
Line of fire Andy McNabb
Need to know Fern Michaels
Sanctuary Judy Nunn
Red-haired woman Orhan Pamuk
Cull Tony Park
Haunted James Patterson
Twenty-one days Anne Perry
Playing to the gods Melanie Rawn
Exposed Lisa Scottoline
Tiger's prey Wilbur Smith
Other girl Erica Spindler
Fairytale Danielle Steel
A question of trust Penny Vincenzi
Last hours Minette Walters
Barely legal Stuart Woods
Destiny's conflict Janny Wurts

Simply click on your chosen title/s and you will be directed to The Vault, where you can place your holds. Want ideas for what to read next? Ask our friendly staff for a recommendation.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Blue light Yokohama by Nicolas Obregon

Blue Light Yokohama by new author Nicolas Obregon starts with a bang - a disturbing and violent incident on a cable car in Japan. Fast forward 15 years and two detectives are hired to investigate the murder of a family in their own home. The killer left behind no traces, only a black sun symbol painted on the wall and evidence of some strange rituals. He apparently ate ice cream, surfed the net and left the house in broad daylight after the killings.
Detectives Kosuke Iwate, a troubled soul with a tragic past, and Noriko Sakai, a hardened, enigmatic young police officer come together to try and solve the mystery of the murders.
Iwate and Sakai travel around the country, following up different leads and the story goes back in time where we learn about Iwate's difficult childhood and troubled homelife with his wife. As another murder occurs, many threads are woven into the story, and the significance of the first incident in the cable car comes to light. Slowly the pieces of the story start to come together.
Taken off the case as corrupt cops frame an innocent man, Iwate risks his reputation and his life to pursue his own investigation as he believes he will find the killer, and needs to, as he knows who the next victim will be.

This is not the type of book I would normally read, but I enjoyed the Japanese setting of the book, and the pace was not too frenetic, enough to keep the story going, but not non stop action. It is a poetically written, intriguing story of the darker side of Tokyo society, cults, police corruption, loneliness in the big city and how the past shapes our lives. The title Blue Light Yokohama refers to a song, the lyrics of which are repeated throughout the story, a constant reminder of past events in Iwate's life.

Monday, 7 August 2017

U.S.A. adventure - Billy Connolly's Route 66

Billy Connolly is a Scottish stand-up comedian, actor, television presenter, musician, and author. Route 66 is about his journey on a three-wheeled motorbike along the historic United States road route. He also made this journey into a television series. These days Route 66 has been mostly replaced as the main travel route by newer interstate highways. However it is still popular with tourists.
I chose to read this book because I have enjoyed some of Connolly’s other work. I chose to review it because I enjoyed the book and thought it might appeal to people who enjoy travel writing.
One of the things I liked was Connolly’s enthusiasm. He admires positive achievements of human beings, such as great buildings, bridges and sculptures. He is also enthusiastic about people he meets along the way, such as a man who lives in an Amish community, and a Native American medicine man. Generally he finds that people are friendly and treat him well.
Another thing I liked was learning about the history and culture of the United States. Connolly mentions associations dedicated to preserving Route 66. He also talks about the civil war, racism, slavery, migration, prohibition, religion, engineering, Native Americans, Abraham Lincoln, railways, the wild west (which he first learnt about from cowboy movies), and music, including the song ‘Route 66’ by Bobby Troup which first inspired Connolly to take the trip.
Overall Route 66 is a good read for those who like armchair travel and who dream of going to the United States. Have you gone on a journey that you have enjoyed? Please send us your comments.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas

Do you have young children? Are they starting to ask you all sorts of things about the birds and the bees? Well if so, The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is a wonderfully honest and factual story explaining how babies are made, how babies are born and what happens shortly after a baby is born.
The story begins by showing that all animals and humans make babies and explores the theories that children might hear about how babies are made. It then continues to explain how little boys and little girls may look the same but have very important biological differences. These biological differences are then described in further detail as the story moves from little boys and girls and their development as they grow into adults.

The story then informs the reader about the physical act of how two adults get together to make a baby and how that baby is created inside a woman’s body. A thoughtful inclusion in the story at this point is how some adults need a little help from a doctor to make a baby. In-vitro fertilisation (IVF) is explained in simple terms using helpful illustrations to provide clarification.
The following part of the story tells the reader that a baby takes a long time to grow big enough before it is ready to be born. The experience of labour and birth is expressed using accurate words and illustrations and also explains that babies can be delivered naturally or via caesarean.
What happens to a baby after birth and the care a mother can provide is the final part to the story which ends with reminding the reader how amazing human bodies are and the amazing things they can do.

Some illustrations in this book are very confronting and I would encourage any adult to read this book themselves before they decide to show this book to their child. All children reading this book will be educated with the facts in a considerate and sensitive manner. The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is a wonderful tool for adults to explain the birds and the bees to their child with no birds and bees in sight!
Amanda C.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Eating ourselves sick by Louise Stephen

There are an increasing amount of books and documentaries out there expanding on the dangers of our modern day diet, a diet that is largely influenced by government standards. These standards are supposedly built upon the knowledgeable guidance of scientific experts, whose primary concern is the health and wellbeing of society. Except it’s not that simple. Experts are often recipients of generous funding by agricultural and food industry groups. As is the case with so many things, money plays a role in the ‘expert’ dietary advice filtering down through the media to the people. So Australian author Louise Stephen posits in her book, Eating ourselves sick.

Drawing on research around the world, Louise takes an in-depth look at the history of government dietary advice, food pyramids and industry standards. It’s not a pretty picture, with the almighty dollar governing what we are advised to eat. Big pharmacological, medical and food industries all bring their weight to bear, resulting in a society plagued by diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
What this book is not is a diet book. Only in the final chapter does she touch on methods readers can employ to eat right and take control of their health. But if you are interested in finding out more about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the food industry, Eating ourselves sick is a good place to start.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Sun and moon sisters by Khoa Le

Sun and moon sisters is a beautiful illustrated picture book that tells the story about two sisters, Sun and Moon. These sisters run the sky but are jealous of the other’s ability and power. Until they decided to switch roles and problems started to appear! When Sun decided to shine all night, everyone is exhausted as they could not get any sleep. Plants started to die due to the heat, so everyone wanted Moon to come back. However, when Moon decided to appear throughout the day, everything was cold and dark, so everyone wanted Sun to come back.
From this experience, they learnt the lesson about the importance of harmony and that they are both equally important. After jealousy dims their affections, sisters learn to let love shine in this original tale that is redolent of folklore.
Sun and moon sisters is a sweet morality tale of cosmic misadventures and sibling rivalry.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Wattle Creek by Fiona McCallum

Damien McAllister is a young farmer spending long, hard days on a farm he has no affection for. He is alone and lonely carrying on the family tradition and wondering why.
Damien hadn’t been himself for a while and had no one to talk to, but learned a long time ago to keep his problems to himself. Eventually he knew it was time to get some help.
Damien thought the doctor would just give him some tablets, but he was told to make an appointment to see a psychologist.
Jacqueline Havelock, a young psychologist has moved to Wattle Creek for twelve months - she has her own reasons for wanting to be away from it all in the country.
Jacqueline wants to help the community but soon realises that practicing in a small town can be challenging. Nothing is private and convincing patients like Damien to visit her without the whole town knowing is difficult. She develops a close friendship with the elderly widow Ethel who lives across the road. Ethel is willing to extend friendship and support to both Jacqueline and Damien as their relationship develops.
I did enjoy the story. Wattle Creek was a sweet book about two very different people and how they rely on each other in a small country town.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Twig by Aura Parker

It’s Heidi the stick insect’s first day at bug school and like all stick insects she’s very good at blending in. So good that nobody notices her all day! A gentle little story about finding your voice and belonging, told through the diversity of bugs found at Bug School. Twig is a beautiful picture book, suitable for pre-school aged children (although older bug-loving children will enjoy it too).

There are a couple of great double page spreads of all the busy bugs in the school playing and learning, as well as the end pages where readers are encouraged to spot particular species. Bug-loving children will really enjoy spotting the different types of insects and talking about their antics, a great way to encourage those pre-reading skills.

Twig is on the 2017 Children’s Book Council of Australia notables list for Early Childhood. Check out the CBCA website for more great titles.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

The Revenant (DVD)

The Revenant is inspired by true events; it is an epic adventure of a man’s survival and the extraordinary power of the human spirit.
Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) is brutally attacked by a bear and left for dead by two members of his own hunting team. Glass then begins his journey through the wilderness. He performs self-surgery and goes through particularly hard times to try and get back to civilisation.
It's a revenge story more than anything. What it also highlights is human determination and the will to live. The things that happen to this man are truly horrific and sometimes difficult to watch. DiCaprio's performance is great, he deserved the Oscar and the supporting cast is great as well despite their small time on screen, they all deserve recognition for their performances. As far as performances and picture making goes, The Revenant is flawless.

At the end of the film, we are left not even knowing whether Glass, after demanding revenge on the man who killed his son, lives or dies himself.
It is a great film has the power to carry the unbelievable.
You don’t just watch The Revenant you experience it. You walk out of it exhausted, impressed with the overall quality of the filmmaking. It is such an enjoyable film, I encourage everyone to watch it.

Editor's note : If you are interested to read the book version of The Revenant that inspired the movie we have copies available.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Aquaman Rebirth (YA Comic)

With his strong finish to the New 52 series , Dan Abnett takes the reins once again to lead the Aquaman
line into the new Rebirth era. Affectionately known for his work with publishers 2000AD and Marvel, taking on titles such as Guardians of the Galaxy, Ghostbusters and even Doctor Who, Abnett has been given a chance to elaborate on his take on Aquaman in a solid run that delves into the core of Aquaman themes of kingship, trust and identity, and makes headway into changing perceptions of a character (and the underwater world in which he lives) that has been more often than not undervalued and misunderstood in the scope of DC Comics universe.

Abnett carries forward the previous New 52 question of whether Aquaman
, on his own, and as a somewhat ‘illegitimate’ heir to a throne, can unite two worlds (the surface and Atlantis) and avoid all-out war. This series explores the surface world’s distrust of the Atlanteans, and the uphill battle faced by Aquaman and his closest allies to bring about constructive dialogue between the surface and Atlantis in the face of perpetual threats from various rogue elements attempting to undermine this delicate mission. Aquaman is essentially caught between two worlds, literally! – being half human and half Atlantean – he struggles to maintain cohesion between his heritages, not only within his respective camps, but within himself as well. The series does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of what it is to struggle with conflict, and is at its most captivating when it pits Aquaman’s sense of responsibility and duty up against his morality and his heart.

Abnett’s contributions to Aquaman has been to help bring the character up many notches in the DC universe social ladder and push past the common misconception that he is simply a character that talks to sea creatures. While only being one of many of his abilities, Abnett also explores Aquaman’s relationship to the other superheroes in the DC, sowing seeds of distrust and suspicion over the worthiness of Aquaman to be a member of the famous and powerful Justice League - which ultimately sees him use his super strength to brawl with none other than Superman himself! The series is worth it just to see Aquaman hold his own against such a powerful adversary.