Staff Reviews


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


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Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 24 February 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Meditation for the real world by Ann Swanson

Available in print 

Did you know that meditation can help you feel better - both mentally and physically - starting right now?

No matter how busy you are, wherever you are, your age, or what you are going through, meditation offers simple, fast relief and can support you in your day-to-day life. Through science-backed, practical and accessible guidance, this book will show you how meditation can work for you.

Balm your soul and body with over 75 can-do meditation techniques to build into your daily routine. Whether you want to practise on a mat or take your experience elsewhere – when walking, running and swimming; using sound and music; with art and creativity – discover which method works best for you.

Meditation for the Real World will also address specific moments of need, such as how to find calm before a stressful situation such as a flight; to enhance focus before a big presentation; to reduce inflammation and pain; and much more, each with the science to support the practice.


The dark  

Tattoo : 1730s – 1970s by Henk Schiffmacher

Available in print

One part history book, one part art book, and one part fascinating memoir, this book is an overview of more than two centuries of tattoo history intermixed with an intimate look at the lives of tattoo artists, and the personal struggles and triumphs, occupational hazards, and artistic courage that have defined so much of this history.

For the last forty years, Henk Schiffmacher has poured his heart and soul into his collection, amassing tattoo drawings, designs, photographs, and artifacts from around the world. Each of the book’s chapters features many never-before-seen highlights from this collection and includes lithographs, etchings, tattooing instruments, original drawings, and tattoo designs known in the business as flash, among them extremely rare vintage flash sheets from major players in early Western tattooing.

The vastness and variety of tattooing around the world is chronicled in the book’s hundreds of images, including the indigenous tattooing of the Maori and South Pacific islanders, the ancient traditions of Asia, and the origins of old-school Western tattooing in Europe and the United States. The book also features a dozen original illustrations by Schiffmacher in his inimitable style.

Schiffmacher brings a fascinating perspective to tattoo history through his personal reflections and wild tales of adventure. In this book, we learn not only about the history of tattooing, but also about the adventures behind the making of one of the largest tattoo collections in the world, by a self-taught tattoo artist in love with the art and its innovators.


Wrapped in rain  

Norse mythology : the gods, goddesses, and heroes handbook by Kelsey A. Fuller-Shafer

Available in print

Learn more about your favourite Norse gods, goddesses, and heroes with this collection of profiles that share the real stories behind the characters.

With characters from Norse myths coming to life on the big and small screens, and in the pages of new and exciting fiction, this guide can give you all the details you need to understand your favourite heroes, villains, and powerful deities. With comprehensive entries that outline each character’s names, roles, related symbols, and foundational myths, you can get to know the roots of these personas, and better understand the new stories we tell about them today.


Wrapped in rain



Create authentic Kemonomimi characters by Shugao

Available in print

Learn to create amazing kemonomimi with authentic animal features and accessories!

Long, swishing tails and pointy animal ears or maybe antlers, horns, wings and feathers if you prefer - this is the ultimate furry handbook for manga and anime artists as well as cosplay enthusiasts. Choose your favourite animal then fuse its salient features with a fabulous human form and animal-specific clothing.

Shugao shows you how! She teaches you to combine authentic animal details with original fashions to create new and exciting characters. And she provides hundreds of amazing examples.

Whether you're inspired by furry characters or looking for a way to draw authentic kemonomimi, this is the book you have to get!


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 17 February 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Island girl to airline pilot by Sylvia McLeod

Available in print and large print

The incredible true story of Silva McLeod, the first Tongan woman to become an airline pilot, told with frankness and wit by Silva herself.

A Tongan girl from a small island with little hope of anything beyond getting married and churning out babies, Silva’s dreams of becoming an airline pilot seemed just that – dreams – until Ken McLeod came into her life. He was an Australian hired to build a hospital on her island of Vava’u. She started dating him despite frowns from her family and, after a whirlwind romance, they were married in a traditional Tongan ceremony before moving to Australia.

Silva faced challenges in Australia as a woman of colour. Then came the biggest challenge of all – Ken was diagnosed with cancer. He said to Silva ‘Do you still want to fly? Life is too short, if you have a dream, go for it.’

Silva’s story is one of love, sacrifice, and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Above all, it’s a story of what can happen if you dare to dream. 


The dark  

Auntie Rita by Rita Huggins and Jackie Huggins

Available in large print

Auntie Rita is an award-winning memoir of Aboriginal woman Rita Huggins.

Rita battled dispossession, poverty, personal tragedy and racism to create a rich meaningful life, lived out during the momentous changes of the 20th Century.

‘Most people call me Auntie Rita, whites as well as Aboriginal people. Auntie is a term of respect of our elder woman folk. You don’t have to be blood-related or anything. Everyone is kin. That’s a beautiful thing because in this way, no one is ever truly alone, they always have someone they can turn to.’ 


Wrapped in rain  

Wifedom by Anna Funder

Available in print, large print, eBook and eAudiobook

Looking for wonder and some reprieve from the everyday Anna Funder slips into the pages of her hero George Orwell. As she watches him create his writing self, she tries to remember her own…

And when she uncovers his forgotten wife, it’s a revelation. Eileen O’Shaughnessy’s literary brilliance shaped Orwell’s work and her practical nous saved his life. But why – and how – was she written out of the story?

Using newly discovered letters from Eileen to her best friend, Funder recreates the Orwell’s marriage, through the Spanish Civil War and WW11 in London. As she rolls up the screen concealing Orwell’s private life she is led to question what it takes to be a writer – and what it takes to be a wife.

Compelling and utterly original, Wifedom speaks to the amazing work of women everywhere today, while offering a breakthrough intimate view of one of the most important literary marriages of the twentieth century. It is a book that speaks to our present moment as much as it illuminates the past.


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 10 February 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

The Paris assignment by Rhys Bowen

Available in print and large print

Londoner Madeleine Grant is studying at the Sorbonne in Paris when she marries charismatic French journalist Giles Martin. As they raise their son, Olivier, they hold on to a tenuous promise for the future. Until the thunder of war sets off alarms in France.

Staying behind to join the resistance, Giles sends Madeleine and Olivier to the relative safety of England, where Madeleine secures a job teaching French at a secondary school. Yet nowhere is safe. After a devastating twist of fate resulting in the loss of her son, Madeleine accepts a request from the ministry to aid in the war effort. Seizing the smallest glimmer of hope of finding Giles alive, she returns to France. If Madeleine can stop just one Nazi, it will be the start of a valiant path of revenge.

Though her perseverance, defiance, and heart will be tested beyond imagining, no risk is too great for a brave wife and mother determined to fight and survive against inconceivable odds.


The dark  

The royal Windsor secret by Christine Wells

Available in print and eBook

Cleo Davenport has heard the whispers. Told she was an orphan, she knows the rumour that her father is none other than the Prince of Wales, heir to the British throne. And at her childhood home at Cairo’s Shepheard’s Hotel, where royals, rulers, and the wealthy live, they call her “the princess.”

But her life is upended when her very proper aunt whisks her away to London to make her debut. Cleo loather being confined to a ballroom, and she longs for independence as a jewellery designer for Cartier, far away from the rules of society. But she cannot move forward until she finds out about her past.

After the chaos of Edward VIII’s abdication, Cleo travels to France, where her search takes a shocking turn into the world of the Parisian demimonde, and a high-class courtesan whose scandalous affair with the young Prince of Wales threatened to bring down the British monarchy long before anyone had heard of Wallis Simpson.


Wrapped in rain  

Child of the ruins by Kate Furnivall

Available in print and eAudiobook

1948, Berlin. World War II has ended and there is supposed to be peace; but Russian troops have closed all access to the city. Roads, railway lines and waterways are blocked, and two million people are trapped, relying on airlifts of food, water, and medicine to survive. The sharp eyes of the Russian state police watch everything; no one can be trusted.

Anna and Ingrid are both searching for answers – and revenge – in the messy aftermath of war. They understand that survival comes only by knowing what to trade: food; medicine; heirlooms; secrets. Both are living in the shadows of a city where the line between right and wrong has become dangerously blurred. But they cannot give up in the search for a lost child…


Wrapped in rain



The talented Mrs Greenway by Tea Cooper

Available in print, eBook and eAudiobook

1814 Sydney. When Mary Greenway, freshly arrived from the old country, steps into the maelstrom of Sydney Town with three children at her skirts, she has high hopes of a new beginning, despite having little money and a husband in irons. After all, the sudden death of her sadistic first husband has meant freedom from her gilded cage and Francis Greenway is an architect of some promise, under the protection of Admiral Phillip himself.

Mary herself is a woman of great resources and an even greater creative passion, a passion that will surely burn through anything that the filthy, burgeoning vitality of colonial Sydney can throw at her. Soon ensconced in a tiny cottage in George Street, Mary sets about moulding a life for her family from the unpromising clay of this new colony, with a determination fired in equal parts by guilt of her disastrous past action that nearly brought ruin to them all and desire to see her true calling realised.

When she is befriended by Elizabeth Macquarie it seems that fate is smiling on them with the promise of a better life in her grasp. But fate is a difficult mistress and with past secrets to keep, and current betrayals on the brink of discovery, the stakes are higher than ever. With Mary’s grip on this new life slipping, will her past lies come back to haunt her?


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 3 February 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Yeah, Nah!: a celebration of life and the words that make us who we are by William McInnes

Available in print

From bestselling author and acclaimed actor William McInnes comes a collection of hilarious memories and moments inspired by Australia's way with words.

Have you ever bunged it on?
Behaved like a drongo?
Added mayo to a story?
Lost your Reg Grundies?

Join bestselling storyteller William McInnes as he offers his own take on our colourful and colloquial way with words. From the simpler times of childhood to today's testing (and unprecedented!) times, or when we're wasting time, enjoying sporting times or hitting the big time, Australians have a turn of phrase for every situation. Our love of plain speaking communicates the essence of the thing to our mates, to those in the know - and to those who should know better.

Part memoir, part manifesto, this warm, witty, poignant, and laugh-out-loud funny collection will have you thinking about what you say, how you say it and what that really says about us as a nation.


The dark  

Baby names Australia 2024 by Eleanor Turner and Cathy Proctor

Available in print

Are you having trouble choosing a name for your baby? Do your parents want to follow a family tradition? Does your partner really like a name you absolutely hate? Or do you just need some inspiration?

Choosing a name for your newborn can be a challenge. Family, in-laws, friends and countless others all want to be involved in giving your new baby a perfect name. Naming your baby is one of the first things you give your newborn, so its right to think long and hard about the name that you and your partner will give your little one.

If you’re struggling for inspiration Baby Names 2024 provides you with over 8000 names, separated into boys and girls names and all listed with their meanings. So, whether your baby is a Joel or Jamel, Helena or Heidi, you’ll be able to find the perfect name in Baby Names 2024. As well as thousands of names to choose from Baby Names 2024 includes the year’s most popular names, celebrity choices and trends from 2023, plus great tips and advice on choosing a name.


Wrapped in rain  

Grandparents :a practical guide to navigating grandparenting today by Michael Carr-Gregg

Available in print

The grandparent–grandchild relationship is a truly special one, but the lives of grandparents and grandkids have changed so much in recent times. How do grandparents create close relationships with the children they adore while living their own busy lives?

Bestselling parenting expert and psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg’s Grandparents celebrates the immense contribution grandmothers and grandfathers make to families. His groundbreaking Grandparenting Code offers a wise formula for successful and harmonious grandparenting in today's world. Michael shows how to be involved in grandchildren's lives without treading on parents' toes, and addresses tricky topics such as screentime, 'greycare' and divorce.

Grandparents features inspiring, funny and heart-warming stories from well-known grandparents Jackie French, Kevin Rudd, David Williamson, Jane Caro, Jenny Kee, Hugh Mackay, Professor Gordon Parker and Eric Tweedale.

An invaluable resource for modern grandparenting, Grandparents is the perfect gift for a first-time grandparent, or whenever challenges arise.


Wrapped in rain



The last night on the Titanic : unsinkable drinking, dining, & style by Veronica Hinke

Available in print

The Last Night on the Titanic demystifies life in all three classes aboard the world’s most beloved ocean liner. Learn why the Titanic still captures the heart of people everywhere even 110 years later.

Sailing—and making history—on the cusp of Prohibition, the Titanic defined drinking and dining styles of the Edwardian era. Societal lines were distinctly drawn as never before. Laden with never-before-experienced luxuries in all three classes, the Titanic set an unprecedented standard and created a time capsule that continues to draw intense interest even 110 years later.

Veronica Hinke has curated a culinary narrative that informs and provides new and thrilling insights on what passengers and crew experienced. The Last Night on the Titanic is based on carefully researched and studied historic news articles, menus, and books, as well as dozens of intimate interviews with experts and family members of passengers and crew. Recipes related to moving stories of tragedy and survival are interspersed throughout and easy for readers to make at home.


Wrapped in rain



The coming wave : AI, power and the twenty-first century’s greatest dilemma by Mustafa Suleyman

Available in print

Cofounder of the pioneering AI company DeepMind sounds the alarm on the unprecedented risks to global order posed by a wave of fast-developing technologies like artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

A stark and urgent warning on the unprecedented risks that a wave of fast-developing technologies poses to global order, and how we might contain them while we have the chance.

We are about to cross a critical threshold in the history of our species. Everything is about to change.

Soon we will live surrounded by AIs. They will carry out complex tasks-operating businesses, producing unlimited digital content, running core government services and maintaining infrastructure. This will be a world of DNA printers and quantum computers, engineered pathogens and autonomous weapons, robot assistants and abundant energy. It represents nothing less than a step change in human capability.

We are not prepared.

As cofounder of the pioneering AI company DeepMind, Mustafa Suleyman has been at the centre of this revolution, one poised to become the single greatest accelerant of progress in history. The coming decade, he argues, will be defined by this wave of powerful, fast-proliferating new technologies. Driven by overwhelming strategic and commercial incentives, these tools will help address our global challenges and create vast wealth-but also upheaval on a once unimaginable scale.

In The Coming Wave, Suleyman shows how these forces threaten the grand bargain of the nation state, the foundation of global order. As our fragile governments sleepwalk into disaster, we face an existential dilemma: unprecedented harms arising from unchecked openness on one side, the threat of overbearing surveillance on the other. Can we forge a narrow path between catastrophe and dystopia?

In this groundbreaking book from the ultimate AI insider, Suleyman establishes "the
containment problem" - the task of maintaining control over powerful
technologies - as the essential challenge of our age.


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 27 January 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

The Twat Files by Dawn French

Available in print

A hugely relatable, funny, honest and inspirational 'memoir of twat moments' in which Dawn celebrates what it means to be a gloriously, messy human. Dawn relates that when she was younger, she wanted to be an interesting, sophisticated, semi-heroic, multi-layered person, But for many reasons that never worked out.What she achieved was to become a champion twat. “Being an actual twat was much more the real me”.

In The Twat Files Dawn will tell you about all the times she has been a total and utter twat. The moments where she misunderstood stuff and messed up. Her hope is that these stories might fire people up to remind themselves of just what a massive twat they also are. So now we can all celebrate together and revel in this most delightful of traits. 


The dark  

Behind the shoulder pads by Joan Collins

Available in print

In her new book, she returns in dazzling form to share her most memorable moments from her eclectic and vibrant life. In and out of the limelight Dame Joan Collins has always believed that one should retain some mystery in life and hide a knowing smile behind one’s shoulder pads. This book will take you on a spectacular journey from her early years as a young star in Hollywood to her very large shoulder pads in Dynasty; from the glittering heights of Saint-Tropez to the busy Oscars seasons in LA over the years.

Joan writes movingly about her adventures with and grief for her sister, Jackie, delves deeper into the ups and downs of love and relationships, and discusses her happiness with husband Percy (her 5th). Filled with a cast of household names and Hollywood icons, Behind the Shoulder Pads is a spectacularly entertaining, bound to delight and shock in equal measures.

Hilarious, intimate, and completely spellbinding, Joan invites you into her life like never before, sharing the stories she only tells her closest friends.


Wrapped in rain  

Loosely based on a made-up story by James Blunt

Available in print

This book is inspired by true events but is not a biography. The truth is James Blunt’s truth, not The Truth, and that's as honest as he can be. While James Blunt's crimes against music are well-documented, he also has some stories that are not. In Loosely Based On A Made-Up Story, James reveals his most riotous anecdotes to date for your amusement - and his parents' horror - in this highly anticipated non-memoir.

From his questionable Norfolk roots, eccentric family, boarding school antics, misjudged military service, rise to music stardom and tour escapades, James delves into his fascinating life to date. What do you do when your mother writes irate emails to the future prime minister defending your honour? What does it take to run a male escort agency? And why exactly should you refrain from crowd-surfing? Are the stories in this book grossly exaggerated in an attempt to impress? Maybe, but you will need to read the book to find out.


Wrapped in rain



Book of life by Deborah Conway

Available in print

Deborah Conway has written iconic songs, been covered in Nutella and was photographed shovelling cream cakes into her mouth; if you are old enough, have you thought about whose bare bum adorned the giant billboard ads for jeans in the 1980s and how much they got paid to do that; if you liked Tracy Mann's vocals in Sweet and Sour, but asked yourself, 'did she really sing them?'; if you think Running On Empty is a classic form the era and need behind-the-scenes gossip, now's your chance to find out all this and so much more.

Conway exposes the fevered world of 1980s post-punk and the spectacular rise and fall and rise of one of the more obstreperous women in Australia's music industry, a woman who has straddled the high arts and the low without losing her footing or her mind. A woman who said no to the system and whose fierce independence has seen her produce her best work.

Welcome to the good, the bad and the ugly of an extraordinary life from the vantage point of a music maverick with a deep need to tell the truth about it all.


Wrapped in rain



Finding my Bella Vita by Pia Miranda

Available in print

For years Pia Miranda has been stopped in the street by calls of, 'Found you!', forever linked to that character we all loved: Josie from Looking for Alibrandi. But playing Josie is only one small part of everything that has shaped the woman Pia has become.

As a child, her Nonna would tell her stories of the small volcanic island off Sicily she called home. Cannoli, curses and lighting a candle at church were as much a part of Pia's childhood as mouse plagues, her Aussie Nanna's lemon slice and cheering on South Melbourne at the footy with her Nonno.

After chasing a childhood dream to become a ballet dancer (with a back-up plan of becoming a nun) she was cruelly shamed out of her leotard and into a new dream of acting. The roller coaster ride of fame would see her travel the world, but after fame comes real life. Work stress, career questions, money worries, relationships and heartbreak, love and marriage, illness and grief. Having grown up pinballing between her very Italian side and her very Australian side while trying to carve out a space all her own, Pia didn't realise how the push and pull of tradition had made her world all the richer.

Finally, setting foot on Vulcano to reconnect with her roots, Pia understands how all the parts of herself have made her the true survivor she is. Like her Nonna told her, every day on top of the earth is a good day.


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 20 January 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Country Homes in Australia – Volume II

Available in print 

Take a journey with Country Style through the beautiful country homes that dot our landscapes, from an historic sandstone cottage to a classic Queenslander and everything in between.

In Country Style's new book, Country Homes in Australia Volume II, we take you inside the most beautiful regional homes and discover the stories of the people who live there. There are 17 homes to peruse, from an historic sandstone cottage in Tasmania and a restored miner's shack in Daylesford, Victoria, to a bank transformed into a lovely family home in Hay, NSW. Whatever type of country home you like, you'll find it in Country Homes in Australia Volume II - it's all the inspiration you need for refreshing your home, regardless of whether you live regionally or in a city. Also included are verdant country gardens and tales of people who have moved to the country.


The dark  

House Cat by Paul Barbera

Available in print

Inspirational interiors and the elegant felines who call them home.

Cats can be divas or devoted friends.

Cats can be homebodies or intrepid explorers.

Cats can love or loathe their canine counterparts.

But one thing they all share is a natural affinity for a comfortable home filled with sunshine, art and books. House Cat features fifty charismatic cats in the incredible spaces they allow their people to share – from a penthouse above Billionaires’ Row in New York to a Mexican hacienda-inspired home in Los Angeles, complete with nine feline residents.

With stunning photography accompanied by witty text, it is the ultimate pairing of enviable abodes and the confident cats who call them home.


Wrapped in rain  

Home Edit: stay organised by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin

Available in print

Just as The Home Edit Life reassuringly told us that it's okay to own things, Stay Organized promises that it's okay to create a mess. When your systems are working, you'll be able to clean them up within 15 minutes. And as we've all learned over the last few years, maintenance is self-care. Our homes are critical to our mental health. When your systems work, you have more bandwidth. You don't have to start from a maxed-out place. Above all else, move forward feeling calm, collected, and confidently organized -with humour, relatability, and beautiful imagery.

Stay Organized covers all kinds of topics related to maintenance, showing readers actionable ways to create systems in their own homes that will be easy to maintain for long-term success.


Wrapped in rain



A life in garden design by Paul Bangay

Available in print

“Garden design has both ruled and nurtured my life.”

Paul Bangay is Australia’s most sought-after garden designer, with close to forty years’ experience. Known for his mastery of scale, balance, form and colour, Paul draws on his lifelong study of the natural and classical worlds to create gardens around the globe.

This illustrated memoir explores the evolution of one of Australia’s finest design minds. A visual delight, it ranges from photos of childhood gardens and goats to hand-drawn plans for Paul’s earliest designs. Through never-before-seen materials, the story behind Paul’s vision is revealed – and we see the creative workings that come to fruition in meticulous and timeless gardens.


Wrapped in rain



Overgrown by Julian Raxworthy

Available in print

Addressing one of the most repressed subjects in landscape architecture, this book could only have been written by someone who is both an experienced gardener and a landscape architect.

As a discipline, landscape architecture has distanced itself from gardening, and landscape architects take pains to distinguish themselves from gardeners or landscapers. Landscape architects tend to imagine gardens from the office, representing plants with drawings or other simulations, whereas gardeners work in the dirt, in real time, planting, pruning, and maintaining. In Overgrown, Raxworthy calls for the integration of landscape architecture and gardening. Each has something to offer the other: Landscape architecture can design beautiful spaces, and gardening can enhance and deepen the beauty of garden environments over time. Growth, says Raxworthy, is the medium of garden development; landscape architects should leave the office and go into the garden in order to know growth in an organic, nonsimulated way.

Raxworthy proposes a new practice for working with plant material that he terms “the viridic” (after “the tectonic” in architecture), from the Latin word for green, with its associations of spring and growth. He builds his argument for the viridic through six generously illustrated case studies of gardens that range from “formal” to “informal” approaches—from a sixteenth-century French Renaissance water garden to a Scottish poet-scientist's “marginal” garden, barely differentiated from nature. Raxworthy argues that landscape architectural practice itself needs to be “gardened,” brought back into the field. He offers a “Manifesto for the Viridic” that casts designers and plants as vegetal partners in a renewed practice of landscape gardening.