Monday, 24 April 2017

In honour of Anzac Day - The lost diggers by Ross Coulthart

A century ago, in a village in France called Vignacourt, Australian soldiers would stop and have their photo taken by photographers Louis and Antoinette Thuillier. After the war, these glass plate negatives were packed away, and forgotten until ninety five years later when they were rediscovered.

These glass plates became known as the Lost Diggers , due to the fact that the photos had no identifying features and therefore no one knew who the Diggers in the photos actually were. In an attempt to identify some of these photos and to learn the stories behind them, an exhibition entitled “Remember Me” took place at the Australian War Memorial, before touring the country, and the photos were published online on a dedicated Facebook page calling for anyone who recognised the Diggers. Slowly, people began to identify the men in photos – some recognised their relative’s faces, others recognised the distinctive background that was used.
The culmination of all this work was the first edition of The Lost Diggers, published in 2012, telling the stories that had been discovered and collected. In 2016, the fully revised and expanded edition was published, with new identifications and stories.
The book is filled with hundreds of photos taken by the Thuilliers during World War One, and not only of Australian Diggers. They took photos of all the soldiers who passed through Vignacourt, including British, French and Indian. A number of children also appear in the photos – local children from the village, as well as the Thuillier’s young son. It is quite haunting to flip through – so many faces that have yet to be identified, staring out. Many of the men are quite young and whilst many did make it home, even more did not and this brings an even greater sense of sadness to the book.
This book highlights the human side of World War One – the men who were fighting on the front line, the people who lived in the villages that one by one where being destroyed and of the nurses who faced the same horrors as the soldiers did, all in evocative and stark photographs.
I would highly recommend The Lost Diggers to anyone who would like to see the First World War through a different perspective other than reading about battles and sacrifice. This is the true human side to the Great War.

Friday, 21 April 2017

The winner of the 2017 Stella Prize is...

Arky Levin is a film composer in New York separated from his wife, who has asked him to keep one devastating promise. One day he finds his way to The Atrium at MOMA and sees Marina Abramovic in ‘The Artist is Present’. The performance continues for seventy-five days and, as it unfolds, so does Arky. As he watches and meets other people drawn to the exhibit, he slowly starts to understand what might be missing in his life and what he must do.

The novel was inspired by real life performance artist Marina Abramovic who performed 'The artist is present' in New York in 2010 , sitting quietly at a table in the museum and inviting visitors to sit opposite her in silence whilst maintaining eye contact. In the novel, a group of characters all going through different stages of their lives come to the museum to take part in the performance.

The prize was awarded at the Arts Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday 18 April. Heather receives $50,000 as winner. The award, which was established in 2013, celebrates Australian women's writing. It sounds like an intriguing book doesn't it ? Read it for yourself via The Vault

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The forgotten room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig

Have just finished reading a great book written together by three of New York’s bestselling authors Karen White , Beatriz Williams and Lauren Willig. The forgotten room follows the lives of three women Olive 1893; Lucy 1920; and Kate 1944-45 and how their lives are connected to the old Pratt Mansion called Stornaway House and the lives of the occupants that once lived and worked there. The first chapter starts with Kate who is working as a Doctor at the old Mansion now called Stornaway Hospital during the Second World War and with the arrival of a wounded Captain Ravenel. There is another male in the story - Harry Pratt, younger son of the Pratt family who is an artist and falls in love with one of the House maids Olive. Olive went to the house to find the documents and drawings of her father, because he was never paid for the final finishing of the Mansion. Olive left lovelorn and pregnant with Harry’s child and married the German Baker Haus Jungman, and her daughter Lucy was born calling herself Lucy Young later on in the story. This book has a lot of intrigue and romance involving the three main characters Olive, Lucy and Kate (Lucy’s daughter).
It would suit readers who like romance, family secrets and a bit of drama.
The forgotten room is a great read - I could not put it down.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Archie, no ordinary sloth by Heath McKenzie

Archie is no ordinary sloth, he doesn’t want to sloth at all. He doesn’t want the other sloths to sloth either, it’s so BORING! He wants to jump and tumble and play, but his family just finds his antics annoying and tells him to go be energetic elsewhere.
So Archie leaves and on his way meets animals who don’t look or act like they are expected to. He meets an elephant with no trunk, a giraffe with no neck and a hyena who won’t laugh. However he still wishes that he wasn’t different from the other sloths until a hippo that likes to climb says there’s nothing wrong with being who he is (there are many advantages to being different).
The best part about this book is that when Archie goes back to the other sloths he shows them that being different can be a good thing and his family accepts him as he is (changing their own habits to make him welcome).

Archie, no ordinary sloth is a cute book with cute illustrations, it demonstrates that being different can be a good thing and may be just what you need in a sticky situation. Archie, no ordinary sloth is also a Children's Book Council of Australia notable picture book for 2017

Monday, 10 April 2017

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big little lies was loaned to me by a friend as it is not the kind of book I would normally choose for myself. That said, this modern-day tale of parents and playground politics, available at CGD Libraries, was hard to put down.

Liane Moriarty is also the author of the number 1 best seller, Truly Madly Guilty. No doubt the popularity of Big Little Lies will increase further with the release of the HBO T.V series of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon in February 2017.

In Big little lies Moriarty skilfully weaves a story of the lead-up to a trivia night murder, in a downright funny way. From incidents such as a parent scrambling for cardboard for a child’s junior school project, to one of the main characters, Jane, finding out the man she has a crush on is not after all gay, the scenes are both humorous and heartwarming, but also written with razor-sharp observation.

Set in an Australian beachside suburb, the main female characters are portrayed in a modern, edgy way as they struggle through friendship and parenthood. Just when you finish reading a hilarious depiction, Moriarty twists the story into one of pathos, covering such subjects as schoolyard bullying and domestic violence.

This seamlessly woven story is one of contrasts and kept me entertained and at other times saddened.
I recommend this book to people who like to laugh out loud and also explore serious social issues, especially at the book’s climactic ending.

Friday, 7 April 2017

New forthcoming fiction for April

Action, mystery, suspense and romance. Check out these new releases coming your way in the next month :

Dirk Gentley’s holistic detective agency Douglas Adams
Fix David Baldacci
Death of a nurse M.C. Beaton
Dead woman walking Sharon Bolton
New boy Tracy Chevalier
Burial hour Jeffrey Deaver
Early birds Laurie Graham
The Lake Lotte and Soren Hammer
Sleep baby sleep David Hewson
Assassin’s fate Robin Hobb
White Lies Linda Howard
Dunstan Conn Iggulden
One quiet woman Anna Jacobs
Need you dead Peter James
Game over Quintin Jardine
Deadmen walking Sherrilyn Kenyon
Since we fell Dennis Lehane
Dark so deadly Stuart MacBride
Men without women Haruki Murakami
Thirst Jo Nesbo
Lucky one Caroline Overington
Fallout Sarah Paretsky
Black book James Patterson
Echo of murder Anne Perry
Girl who knew too much Amanda Quick
Stars are fine Anita Shreve
Testimony Scott Turow
Fallen Eric Van Lustbader

Simply click on your chosen title/s and you will be directed to The Vault, where you can reserve your copy. Can't see anything you like? Ask our friendly staff for a reading recommendation.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Half of the human race by Anthony Quinn

Connie is a young woman fighting for her rights to vote freely and be treated equally to men in early 20th century England. Will and Tam are cricketers, at the peak of their professional sporting careers. Somewhere, somehow, all three lives cross and what ensues is sometimes beautiful, other times complicated but always moving and entertaining.
Set among the throes of a dawning era, Quinn’s second novel, Half of the Human Race, is a charming exploration of the stuff of life; those relationships that ground us, the love that sustains us and the feuds that arise in between – be they personal, political or social.
In Quinn’s protagonist Connie, these life values are rendered tangible. A female suffragist, Connie inhabits the grey areas of early 20th century life. Intelligent, independent and fiercely driven, Quinn uses Connie as a critique of the era and its injustices.
Despite being written by a male, the females in this novel are strong – both in voice and characterisation. Not only does Quinn manage to capture the finer differences between the sexes that, quite often are overlooked, but he does so with delicacy and style. As the title of his book suggests, Quinn’s concern in this book is “half of the human race”. However, which half exactly remains an elusive question for readers to answer.
In this novel Quinn solidifies his status as an exceptional writer. As with The rescue man,the sincerity with which Quinn observes the workings of early 20th century England is refreshing and compelling. The tone of his prose is convincing and his reflections on history, love and what it means to be free ring with a simplicity that engages and compels.
Quinn’s Half of the Human Race is a tale for all – despite the claim that its title makes.