Staff Reviews

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Read about the latest items the library has added to its collections.

Reviews

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Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 14 May 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

Ultimate weekends Australia by Emma Shaw

Available in print 

Featuring over 60 destinations from every state and territory, this guide offers recommendations on the best things to do in the morning, daytime and evening, so you can plan your own itinerary. Destinations include all capital cities, regional areas, unique escapes and even a few far-flung destinations like Lord Howe Island.

The pages are also filled with author Emma Shaw's stunning photography, plus her planning tips and tricks to make your weekend holiday a success.

Sometimes a quick weekend getaway is just what you need to improve your happiness and wellbeing, and with so many diverse experiences in our own backyard, now is the perfect time to disconnect, refresh and discover Australia, one weekend at a time.

 

The dark  

Vantastic: van living, sustainable travel, food ideas, conversions by Kate Ulman

Available in print

Pack down and hitch up, it's time for the freedom of the road with Vantastic, your guide to life with a van or RV! In this revised edition, seasoned traveller Kate Ulman, of the popular blog and Instagram accounts Foxs Lane, provides practical tips and advice as well as comprehensive information on turning your dream of a #vanlife road trip into reality.

Start by learning to speak van, as Kate helps you to choose the perfect van or RV, as well as ways to retrofit a second-hand van to suit your purposes. Then dive into planning your itinerary, checklists, cute ways to 'dress' your van, and how to pack and hitch up.

And then, when you're ready to go, take note of essential #vanlife know-how including budgeting and sustainable travel advice, and handy apps. This guide also covers van-friendly recipes (including many vegan dishes), craft projects, fun family activities and mindfulness on the road, tips and tricks, and roadside tales. 

 

Wrapped in rain  

Tonight’s dinner by Adam Liaw

Available in print

Tonight’s Dinner brings us fresh, modern everyday food inspired by the expanding spread of dishes on Australian tables today. Adam’s warmth, humour and dynamic cooking-style will put the joy of cooking back into your kitchen easily, so you can feed your friends and family with thoughtful, healthful meals. These recipes require minimal preparation, are balanced in nutrition, affordable and light on the washing up! Because, often, the key to good home cooking is to just do good home cooking.

 

Wrapped in rain

 


 

The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

Available in print, large print and eAudiobook

Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.

When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh - a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house - Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.

What Sofia didn't say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can't help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all...

 

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 7 May 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

Social skills for kids by Keri K. Powers

Available in print 

Help your children develop essential social skills—including groups, one-on-one interactions, and virtual communication—with these 150 easy, fun activities to teach your kids how to socially succeed. From taking turns to making eye contact to staying engaged during conversations, developing appropriate social skills is an important factor for kids to be able to succeed in school and life in general. But how can you tell if your child is really making progress while you read the same stories, have the same conversations, and chaperone the same playdates? The answer is to add some variety to your child’s daily activities with these 150 exercises specially designed to keep your child (and their friends) entertained, all while teaching them effective social skills.

In Social Skills for Kids, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how social skills develop in children and what you can do to support their growth. In this book, you’ll find games to encourage them in group settings, activities that you (or another caregiver) can do alone with your child, and ways to make the most of virtual interactions for social skill development.

 

The dark  

The splits: how to help your kids navigate separation and divorce by Bron O’Loan

Available in print

Kids know stuff. Sometimes they know more stuff than we realise. They listen, they watch, they are sponges. When a family separates, the kids are involved whether they like it or not. But how much involvement is too much? And where do you draw the line between explaining what is going on and oversharing?

The Splits is not just a book about the important conversations you need to have with your kids about separation but also the conversations that should be left out. The Splits is a guide for parents who care about how separation will affect their children and need help to navigate the necessary conversations with their kids about all aspects of separation, divorce and what happens if it goes to family court. 

 

Wrapped in rain  

1000 years of joys and sorrows: a memoir by Ai Weiwei

Available in print

In his widely anticipated memoir, Ai Weiwei tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father Ai Qing, the nation's most celebrated poet. Once an intimate of Mao Zedong, Ai Weiwei's father was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as 'Little Siberia', where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labour cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol.

With candour and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist - and how his work has been shaped by living under a dictatorial regime. Ai Weiwei's sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011.

Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his own life story and that of his father, whose own creativity was stifled. 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

 

Wrapped in rain

 


 

Lean your loneliness slowly against mine by Klara Hveberg

Available in print

Rakel has always been more comfortable with numbers than with people. A gifted woman with a rare talent for math, she has never mastered the art of making friends. At nineteen, she moves to Oslo to attend university. There she meets Jakob, a brilliant older teacher who becomes fascinated by Rakel’s quick mind. Jakob is struck by the similarities between Rakel and Sofja Kovalevskaja, the first woman to become a professor of mathematics, and the subject of the novel he is writing.

Just as Kovalevskaja was close to her much older advisor, Rakel and Jakob are drawn to each other and eventually become lovers, although he is already married. In the years to come, Rakel's academic career soars, but her health declines, and from her bedside she spends hours imagining Sofja’s life while trying to understand her own. With a gaze both naive and mercilessly sharp, she examines what may be her life's only love story, looking for patterns and answers in numbers, music, and literature. 

Extraordinarily wise and penetrating, Lean Your Loneliness Slowly Against Mine explores the intricacies of the human heart, the complicated equation that is love, and the search to find meaning and connections when you need them most.

 

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 30 April 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

The cat who saved books by Sosuke Natsukawa

Available in print and CD

Bookish high school student Rintaro Natsuki is about to close the second hand bookshop he inherited from his beloved grandfather. Then, a talking cat named Tiger appears with an unusual request. The cat needs Rintaro's help to save books that have been imprisoned, destroyed and unloved.

Their mission sends this odd couple on an amazing journey, where they enter different labyrinths to set books free. Through their travels, Tiger and Rintaro meet a man who locks up his books, an unwitting book torturer who cuts the pages of books into snippets to help people speed read, and a publisher who only wants to sell books like disposable products. Then, finally, there is a mission that Rintaro must complete alone.

 

The dark  

Mouse boy by Gerry Lane

Available in print

I am a 13 year old albino boy. I was abandoned by my parents, the Earl and Countess Rodin. I've been called a hero by some, and a coward by others ... I've been bullied because I look different. Now I'm trying to make a decision on my future.

The year is 2021. I am standing alone in a classroom, my two pet mice sitting on my shoulders. A miraculous gift-giving portrait of me and my two mice is hanging on the classroom wall. My miraculous portrait has been hanging there for the past 130 years. Nobody can remove it. My story ends where it started.

The year is 2021. I have a choice to make: Go back in time to 1890 where it all started, or stay in the now - 2021? I am still standing alone in that classroom. Snowflake and Raindrop sitting on my shoulders. The portrait is still on the wall. I must make my decision. One that will change my existence forever ... what will it be?

 

Wrapped in rain  

All these bodies by Kendare Blake

Available in print

For months, a gruesome killer has been plaguing the Midwest. The murderer’s calling card? The bodies they leave behind are completely drained of blood.

Aspiring journalist Michael Jensen, desperate to escape his small-town life, can hardly believe it when the Bloodless Murders come to sleepy Black Deer Falls, Minnesota. Or that his father, the sheriff, located the only suspect: fifteen-year-old Marie Catherine Hale.

Tiny Marie doesn’t look capable of committing the grisly, inhumane attacks that are gripping the nation. At least, not on her own. With Marie refusing to talk to anyone but Michael, he agrees to tell her side of the story. But how can Michael trust Marie’s confession when it calls into question everything he's ever known . . . when falling for her lies, may cost him his life?

 

Wrapped in rain

 


 

The book of Baku by R.L. Boyle

Available in print

Sean hasn't been able to speak a word since he was put into care, and is sent to live with his grandad, a retired author whom he has never met before. Suddenly living an affluent life, nothing like the world of the estate he grew up in, where gangs run the streets and violence is around every corner, Sean spends his time drawing, sculpting and reading his grandad's stories. But his grandad has secrets of his own in his past. As he retreats to the shed, half-buried in his treasured garden, Sean finds one of his stories about 'The Baku', a creature that eats the fears of children.

 

 


 

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 23 April 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

The house beneath the cliffs by Sharon Gosling

Available in print

A remote yet beautiful village. A tiny kitchen lunch club. The perfect place to start again. Anna moves to Crovie, a tiny fishing village on the Moray Firth, for a fresh start. But when she arrives, she realises her new home is really no more than a shed, and the village itself sits beneath a cliff right on the edge of the sea, in constant danger of storms and landslides. Has she made a terrible mistake?

Yet as she begins to learn about the Scottish coast and its people, something she thought she’d lost reawakens in her. She rediscovers her love of cooking and turns her kitchen into a pop-up lunch club. But not all the locals are delighted about her arrival, and some are keen to see her plans fail.

Will Anna really be able to put down roots in this remote and wild village? Or will her fragile new beginning start to crumble with the cliffs… ?

 

The dark  

The visitors by Caroline Scott

Available in print

1923. Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in WWI, grew up in Penzance, and she's hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost. While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms.

Esme is nervous at first to be the only woman in this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers. But as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.

But everything is not as idyllic as it seems - a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme's world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.

 

Wrapped in rain  

All my Mothers by Joanna Glen

Available in print

London, 1980s: Though she has a comfortable, privileged life, Eva Martinez-Green is deeply unhappy. The only child of an emotionally absent mother and a physically absent father, Eva has grown up in a cold, unloving house. But Eva is convinced that all is not as it seems. Why are there no baby pictures of her? Why do her parents avoid all questions about her early years?

When her parents' relationship crumbles, Eva begins looking for a different, better life: a proper family, a perfect mother, and, importantly, real love. Her desire to find where she belongs leads Eva on a journey spanning years and continents -- and, along the way, she meets women who challenge her idea of what a mother should be, and who will change her life forever...


Wrapped in rain

 


 

The royal game by Anne O’Brien

Available in print

England, 1444. Three women who came from nowhere to challenge the course of history... King Henry VI's grip on the crown hangs by a thread as the Wars of the Roses begin to tear England apart. Everyone must choose between York or Lancaster. And from the ashes of war, the House of Paston begins its rise to power. Led by three visionary women, the Pastons are a family from humble peasant beginnings who rely upon cunning, raw ambition, and good fortune in order to survive. Their ability to plot and scheme sees them overcome imprisonment, violence and betrayal, to eventually secure for their family a castle and a place at the heart of the Yorkist Court.

But success breeds jealousy and brings them dangerous enemies... An inspirational story of courage and resilience, The Royal Game charts the rise of three remarkable women from obscurity to the very heart of Court politics and intrigue.

 

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 16 April 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

Hooked by Sutton Foster

Available in print 

Whether she is playing an age-defying book editor on the hit show Younger, or dazzling audiences on the Broadway stage, Sutton Foster manages to make it all look easy. Yet she experienced some of her greatest career triumphs while navigating some of the darkest and most challenging times in her personal life.

So how did she maintain such a sunny demeanour in spite of it all? Crafting. From the moment she picked up a cross-stitch needle to escape the bullying chorus girls in her first national tour, she was hooked. Cross-stitching led to crocheting, crocheting led to collages, which led to drawing and a full-blown craft obsession.

Channelling her emotions into her creations not only centered Sutton, but also gave her tangible reminders of her experiences. In hooked Sutton shares those memories and the crafts inextricably tied to them, including her fraught relationship with her agoraphobic, withholding mother, whom she connected with most easily through their mutual love of cross-stitching; the blanket that tethered her as a painful divorce was splashed across the pages of the tabloids; and the drawings that comforted her through struggles with fertility. She delves into her highs and lows while starring in beloved plays like Thoroughly Modern Millie, Anything Goes and Violet; her breakout TV roles in Bunheads and Younger as well as the joy of adopting her daughter Emily and passing a love of crafting onto her.

Accompanying these stories Sutton includes crochet patterns, recipes, and much more, that will leave readers entertained and moved as well as inspired to pick up their own cross-stitch needles and crochet hooks and get crafting.

 

The dark  

The lick of love by Julian Clary

Available in print

From one of Britain’s best-loved comedians comes this wonderfully funny, sharp, and touching memoir and a celebration of the bond between man and dog – an autobiography, if you will.

The Lick of Love takes us on a tour of Julian’s colourful life. From Fanny the Wonder Dog, who propelled Julian up the ranks of the alternative comedy circuit and onto television, and Valerie, the whippet crossbreed who escorted Julian through his forties, to Albert, who was sent to acclimatise Julian to middle age and most recently Gigi, an unpredictable fur bullet of a dog; dogs have been a near constant presence in his adult life.

Whether writing about encounters in seedy London nightclubs, finding success on television with Sticky Moments, the death of his partner, that Norman Lamont joke, a narrow squeak with a thwarted eastern European plot to kidnap him, his move to the country, or finally settling down, falling in love and getting married, The Lick of Love is the story of a fascinating life and a love letter to the dogs that have played a part in it. Told with humour and great honesty, this promises to be one of the best memoirs of the year.

 

Wrapped in rain  

The accidental teacher by Tim Heath

Available in print

What runs through this story is tika, pono, aroha and whanaungatanga. Tim knows it takes a village to raise a child and he created that through his teaching. He is a legend.

Funny, poignant, charming, and deeply sad at times, The Accidental Teacher is a fascinating insight into a teaching life.

With his sharp wit and poet’s eye, Tim Heath writes of a forty-year career, mostly in New Zealand but also in Samoa. He’s worked in small country schools, in bit city schools, at the Correspondence School, in primary schools and in secondary schools. He’s been a principal and a deputy principal. Teaching wasn’t his first choice, but once in the classroom he found his calling.

Tim is a passionate advocate for children and their learning, and his educational philosophy is illustrated through touching anecdotes of children and their struggles and successes.

Written against the backdrop of changing times in New Zealand, his memoir is a deep dive into education and its place in our world.

 

Wrapped in rain

 


 

Malachy by Dominic Frawley

Available in print

A single moment has the power to change any life, forever. This is a story about what happens next.

On 1st March 1999, Dom Frawley was a rural GP, providing medical care to a few hundred families through a small cottage practise. He and his wife Maggie were due to deliver their fourth child any day. Dom worked daily with people at their most vulnerable: sick, powerless, and often fearful or distressed. His job was to help carry them through.

By nightfall on 2nd March, Dom and Maggie were the ones needing help. Their newborn child was critically ill with a major heart defect and was flown by helicopter to an intensive care unit in Sydney. The baby’s life rested in the hands of Dom’s former colleagues.

Fear for the future stalked enjoyment of the present. Drawing on Maggie’s love, his passion for philosophy and innate optimism, Dom navigated a slow path to equilibrium. A deep father-son bond developed, enriching the lives of both.

Malachy explores the bond of love between a parent and their child. A reminder of how treasured and important all children are. It is also a story about living with the agony of loss: what it means to love and be loved, to stare down hostile fate with a sense of humour, and to embrace life with courage and resilience.

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 9 April 2022

The last of the apple blossom  

The heart principle by Helen Hoang

Available in print and CD

When violinist Anna Sun accidently achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her long-time boyfriend announces that he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex – he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just begun to understand.

However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family, she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that they also have to fight for themselves.

 

The dark  

The Guinness Girls: a hint of scandal by Emily Hourican

Available in print

As Aileen, Maureen and Oonagh – the three privileged Guinness sisters, darlings of society in Dublin and London – settle into becoming wives and mothers, they quickly discover that their gilded upbringing could not have prepared them for the realities of married life.

For the eldest, Aileen, in Luttrellstown Castle outside Dublin, being married offers far less than she had expected; for outspoken Maureen, in the crumbling Clandeboye in Northern Ireland, marriage means intense passion, but fierce rows; while Oonagh’s dream of romantic love in London is shattered by her husband’s lies.

And as 1930s Britain becomes increasingly politically polarised, the sisters’ close friends, the Mitfords, find themselves under the media glare – causing the Guinness women to examine their own lives.

 

Wrapped in rain  

The Banksia House breakout by James Roxburgh

Available in print and eBook

When Ruth Morris is moved into Banksia House by her workaholic son Michael, she is eight-one years young, mourning her loss of independence, and missing her best friend Gladys terribly.

So when she learns Gladys is dying a state over in Brisbane, Ruth is determined to say goodbye. Enlisting the help of her fellow residents, Ruth makes a daring departure from Banksia House alongside renowned escape-artist Keith, and her formidable new friend Beryl.

The journey from Sydney is far from straightforward, featuring grimy hostels, hitchhiking, and a mild case of grand theft. This unlikely trio finds themselves on the trip of a lifetime, where new connections blossom amidst the chaos. But the clock is ticking and Gladys awaits – will they make it across the border in time?

 

Wrapped in rain

 

 

 

 

Beautiful little fools by Jillian Cantor

Available in print 

On a sultry August day in 1922, Jay Gatsby is shot dead in his West Egg swimming pool. To the police, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide when the body of George Wilson, a local mechanic, is found in the woods nearby. Then a diamond hairpin is discovered in the bushes by the pool, and three women fall under suspicion. Each holds a key that can unlock the truth to the mysterious life and death of this enigmatic millionaire.

Daisy Buchanan once thought she might marry Gatsby – before her family was torn apart by an unspeakable tragedy that sent her into the arms of the philandering Tom Buchanan. Jordan Baker, Daisy’s best friend, guards a secret that derailed her promising golf career and threatens to ruin her friendship with Daisy as well. Catherine McCoy, a suffragette, fights for women’s freedom and independence, and especially for her sister, Myrtle Wilson, who’s trapped in a terrible marriage.

Their stories unfold in the years leading up to that fateful summer of 1922, when all three of their lives are on the brink of unravelling. Each woman is pulled deeper into Jay Gatsby’s romantic obsession, with devastating consequences for all of them.