Staff Reviews


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


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Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 8 June 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

The Jam Queens by Josephine Moon

Available in print 

Award-winning jam maker Aggie is determined to take her Barossa Valley cafe to new heights. She has put the pain of unsuccessful IVF treatments and a broken relationship behind her and is focused on the many wonderful possibilities life still holds in store.

When an invitation to travel across Australia on the Ghan for her mother’s seventieth birthday comes her way, she is at first apprehensive. But the trip offers a precious opportunity to spend some quality time with the other women in her family – all four generations of them. 


The dark  

Rewilding the Urban Soul by Claire Dunn

Available in print, large print, CD and eAudiobook

We’re a famously nature-loving nation, yet 86 per cent of Australians call the city home. Amid the concrete and the busyness, how can we also answer the call of the wild?

Once upon a time, a burnt-out Claire Dunn spent a year living off the grid in a wilderness survival program. Yet love and the possibilities of human connection drew her back to the city, where she soon found herself as overscheduled, addicted to her phone, and lost in IKEA as the rest of us. Given all the city offers — comfort, convenience, community, and opportunity — she wants to stay. But to do so, she’ll have to learn how to rewild her own urban soul.


Wrapped in rain  

Wake by Shelley Burr

Available in print, large print, CD and eAudiobook

The small town of Nannine lies in the harsh red interior of New South Wales. Once a thriving outback centre, this ghost town now has one sinister claim to fame: the still-unsolved disappearance of Evelyn McCreery nineteen years ago from the bedroom she shared with her twin sister.

Mina McCreery's life has been defined by the intense and ongoing public interest in her sister's case. Now a reclusive adult, Mina lives alone on her family's sunbaked, destocked sheep farm. The million-dollar reward her mother established to solve the disappearance has never been paid out. Enter Lane Holland, a private investigator who dropped out of the police academy to earn a living cracking cold cases. Lane has his eye on the unclaimed money, but he also has darker motivations.


Wrapped in rain



Taste by Stanley Tucci

Available in large print

Before Stanley Tucci became a household name with The Devil Wears PradaThe Hunger Games, and the perfect Negroni, he grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the table.

Taste is an intimate reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about growing up in Westchester, NY, preparing for and filming the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia, falling in love over dinner, and teaming up with his wife to create conversation-starting meals for their children.

Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burnt dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last. Written with Stanley's signature wry humour and nostalgia, Taste is a heartwarming read for anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.


Wrapped in rain



The hummingbird effect by Kate Mildenhall

Available in print and eBook

One of the lucky few with a job during the Depression, Peggy’s just starting out in life. She’s a bagging girl at the Angliss meatworks in Footscray, a place buzzing with life as well as death, where the gun slaughterman Jack has caught her eye – and she his.

How is her life connected to Hilda’s, almost a hundred years later, locked inside during a plague, or La’s, further on again, a singer working shifts in a warehouse as her eggs are frozen and her voice is used by AI bots? Let alone Maz, far removed in time, diving for remnants of a past that must be destroyed?

Is it by the river that runs through their stories, eternal yet constantly changing – or by the mysterious Hummingbird Project and the great question of whether the march of progress can ever be reversed?


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 1 June 2024


The Mallee's living histories 5

Available in print

The Newest Compilation of Local Histories.

This book is dedicated to a generation that has nurtured children and worked to develop caring communities, especially those who have been happy to share their experience in this gathering of memoirs.



The dark  

The many lives of Barry Humphries by Rowan Dean

Available in print

Actor, comedian, raconteur, writer, poet, painter, songwriter, music lover and one of the most gifted artists of the last century, Barry Humphries was an Australian global superstar.

In this affectionate tribute, Rowan Dean, one of the last people to spend time alone with his friend Barry, reminisces the many lives of Barry Humphries with a plethora of Humphries' closest colleagues and associates about their unique and untold personal relationships with the extraordinary creator of Dame Edna and Sir Les Patterson.


Wrapped in rain  

Wendy Whiteley and the secret garden by Janet Hawley

Available in print

For more than twenty years Wendy Whiteley has worked to create a public garden at the foot of her harbourside home in Sydney's Lavender Bay. This is the extraordinary story of how a determined, passionate and deeply creative woman has slowly transformed an overgrown wasteland into a beautiful sanctuary for everyone to enjoy - and in the process, transformed herself.

Wendy Whiteley was Brett Whiteley's wife, muse and model. An artist herself, with a finely honed aesthetic sense, she also created the interiors at the heart of Brett's iconic paintings of their Lavender Bay home. When Brett died, followed by the death nine years later of their daughter Arkie, Wendy threw her grief and creativity into making an enchanting hidden oasis out of derelict land owned by the New South Wales Government. This glorious guerrilla garden is Wendy's living artwork, designed with daubs of colour, sinuous shapes and shafts of light.

This is Wendy's story but it's also the story of the countless people who cherish the Secret Garden.


Wrapped in rain



The big book of more STEM activities by Jenny Jacoby

Available in print

A follow-up to the hugely popular bumper activity book, this volume includes simple at-home experiments! Here are even more STEM activities to keep your brains buzzing!

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. From topics such as the human body, plants and flowers to computer coding and outer space, the information in this second bumper activity book will continue to encourage a lifelong passion for learning, inventing, problem-solving and discovering.

Now with super-simple science experiments you can do at home to bring the STEM to life!

Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 25 May 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Normal rules don’t apply by Kate Atkinson

Available in print, large print and CD

Nothing is quite as it seems in this collection of eleven dazzling stories. We meet a queen who makes a bargain she cannot keep; a secretary who watches over the life she has just left; a man who bets on a horse that may—or may not—have spoken to him.

Everything that readers love about the novels of Kate Atkinson is here—the inventiveness, the verbal felicity, the sharp observations on human nature, and the deeply satisfying emotional wallop.


The dark  

The dressmaker & the hidden soldier by Doug Gold

Available in print and large print

Greece, 1941. Peter Blunden, a New Zealand soldier captured in Crete, jumps from a train and escapes his Nazi captors. He is taken into a safe house by Tasoula Paschilidou, a dressmaker and a member of the Greek resistance movement, who hides fugitives until they can be smuggled to safety. She employs several young seamstresses, including Thalia Christidou, who wonders why the door to a room off the living room is always locked. This arrangement works well for some time, but the Germans are everywhere, and there is mounting concern that the men will be discovered.

One day, Thalia catches sight of them, and Tasoula admits to her involvement in resistance activities. Thalia proves a trustworthy confidante, and soon she and Peter become close. But the Nazis are becoming suspicious of Mrs Paschilidou, and local gossip suggests that she has something – or someone – to hide…


Wrapped in rain  

Halfway house by Helen Fitzgerald

Available in large print and eAudiobook

When her disastrous Australian love affair ends, Lou heads to Edinburgh for a fresh start, moving in with her cousin. After a week of partying, she starts at the only job she can get, working at a halfway house for very high-risk offenders.

On a solo night shift, Lou wakes to discover that she has been locked in her room and is being held hostage. With no one to turn to but the other residents – all of them dangerous criminals – Lou is forced to rely on her own resources. Turns out she’s excellent at negotiating – and even better at killing…


Wrapped in rain



West heart kill by Dann McDorman

Available in print and large print 

An isolated hunt club. A raging storm. Three corpses, discovered within four days. A cast of monied, scheming, unfaithful characters. When private detective Adam McAnnis joins an old college friend for the Bicentennial weekend at the exclusive West Heart club in upstate New York, he finds himself among a set of not-entirely-friendly strangers. Then the body of one of the members is found at the lake’s edge; hours later, a major storm hits. By the time power is restored on Sunday, two more people will be dead . . .


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 18 May 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

I hope this doesn’t find you by Ann Liang

Available in print and eBook

She’s school captain, valedictorian, and a “pleasure to have in class.”

Sadie has a trick to maintaining her model-student smile: she channels her frustrations into draft emails. She’d never send them – she’d rather die than hurt anyone’s feelings – but it’s a relief to let loose on her power-hungry English teacher or credit-stealing classmate.

Sadie’s most vehement words – “You’re attention starved and self-obsessed and unbearably vain” – are directed at Julius Gong, her co-captain, whose arrogance, and competitive streak have always infuriated her.

She doesn’t hold back in her emails, because nobody will ever read them…until they’re accidentally sent out. It’s Sadie’s worst nightmare – now everyone at school knows what she really thinks, and they’re not afraid to tell her what they really think of her either.

But amid the chaos, there’s one person growing to appreciate the “real” Sadie – Julius, the only boy she’s sworn to hate…


The dark  

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Available in print

Perpetually awkward Nima Kumara-Clark is bored with her insular community of Bridgeton, in love with her straight girlfriend, and trying to move past her mother’s unexpected departure. After a bewildering encounter at a local festival, Nima finds herself suddenly immersed in the drag scene on the other side of town.

Macho Drag Kings, magical Queens, new Love Interests, and surprising Allies will move Nima both painfully and hilariously closer to a self she never knew she could be – one that can confidently express and accept love. But she’ll have to learn to accept lost love to get there.

From debut author Tanya Boteju comes a poignant, laugh-out-loud tale of acceptance, self-expression, and the colourful worlds that await when we are brave enough to look.


Wrapped in rain  

The crimson fortress by Akshaya Raman

Available in print

The search for the Ivory Key has reunited estranged royal siblings Vira, Riya, Ronak and Kaleb, but finding it has only led to more mysteries to unravel…

Without magic to protect Ashoka’s borders, and with an enemy territory closing in, time is running out to restore their country to its former glory.

As their quest forces the siblings to split up in search of answers, they will uncover much more than an evil emperor’s schemes. And when an ancient power is released, Vira, Riya, Ronak and Kaleb will need to come together yet again to face the past and save their futures once and for all.


Wrapped in rain



Those girls by Pamela Rushby

Available in print and eBook

The poster had a picture of a tanned, healthy girl, wearing a regulation uniform hat and shorts that were, surely, anything but regulation.

When Hilly volunteers for the Women’s Land Army in 1942, she’s sixteen years old. She expects to be picking sun-kissed fruit and bottle-feeding fluffy white lambs, all while she’s wearing a flattering outfit.

Travelling to farms across Queensland, Hilly encounters backbreaking work, but also friendship and fellowship with other Land Army girls, Aileen and Glad, all seeking independence for their own reasons.

War is a chance for a life away from family and familiarity, offering adventure and romance. But the poster didn’t mention crutching sheep or 4am starts. Or the prejudice they would face, and that some men needed to be fought off, rather than fought for. In the midst of adversity, Hilly finds exactly what she is capable of…and it might be more that she ever thought possible.

She is one of ‘those girls with grit.’


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 11 May 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

A new home in the Dales by Betty Firth

Available in large print 

October 1940. Twenty-three-year-old Bobby Bancroft is working as a typist for a city newspaper, but she longs to be breaking the news herself. When she successfully applies for a junior reporter role at The Tyke, a magazine serving the Yorkshire Dales, she’s thrilled – even if she only gets the position because so many men are away fighting.

Bobby moves to the sleepy village of Silverdale, but she quickly discovers life in the countryside is a different world. Not only does she need to win over the local animals but there are a whole host of eccentric characters to get to know, not least of whom is her editor’s younger brother: charming but infuriating village vet Charlie.

As Bobby struggles to be taken seriously by the gruff Dalesfolk, she starts to wonder if she’s made a huge mistake. Will the city girl ever find her place?


The dark  

Digging for victory at Rookery House by Rosie Hendry

Available in large print

March 1941. After Flo Butterworth loses everything in Manchester’s Christmas Blitz, she decides to leave the area and join the Women’s Land Army. Putting the past firmly behind her, she arrives at Rookery House in Norfolk hoping for a new start and a chance to do the gardening work she loves.

The grip of war has intensified and growing more food is vital to keep the nation going. Thea buys an extra field to grow crops, and in the village, her sister Prue leads members of the Mother’s Day Club and Women’s Institute as they take on a derelict allotment. Meanwhile the construction of a nearby aerodrome disrupts village life and brings even more new residents to Rookery House now bursting at the seams, will it still be the happy home it’s always been?


Wrapped in rain  

Widow's choice by Nancy Revell

Available in large print

When Angie marries her sweetheart Quentin and moves into Cuthford Manor to begin their new life together, she feels like the luckiest woman in the world.

But Quentin falls victim to a tragic accident and Angie’s life is left devastated. Now, along with the prospect of rebuilding her life, she is faced with an impossible choice that will have far-reaching consequences for herself and those she loves the most.

Only with the help of her family, the community of Cuthford Manor and her old friends from the shipyard, will Angie draw on the inner strength to find happiness again.


Wrapped in rain



Jeannie's war by Carol MacLean

Available in large print

Glasgow, WW2. Despite being shy and reserved, Jeannie finds herself newly engaged to Arthur the day war is announced. Unsure if she will ever get another proposal, Jeannie accepts. But with war raging on, her wedding must wait.

As she sets off to work at a munitions factory she meets Eileen, Janet, and Annie. As her new friends reveal their chaotic romances at such a troubling time, Jeannie is grateful to be settled rigid, formal, and straight-talking Arthur.

Until she begins to doubt everything. After meeting Canadian soldier Bill, Jeannie realises she has found a spark she was always missing. But how can she tell Arthur? And is she strong enough to fight her own battle, with the country already at war.


Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 4 May 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

The hidden book by Kirsty Manning

Available in print and large print

Europe, 1940s: Imprisoned in the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, Spanish fighter and photographer Mateo Baca is ordered to process images of the camp and inmates for a handful of photo books being made for presentation to top Nazi figures. Just five books in total, or so the officials think …

Mateo manages to make a secret sixth book and, with the help of a local woman, Lena Lang, it remains hidden until the end of the war.

Australia, present day: When thirteen-year-old Hannah Campbell's Yugoslavian grandfather, Nico Antonov, arrives in Australia to visit his family, one of the gifts he brings with him is an intriguing-looking parcel wrapped in a flour sack, which Roza, Hannah's mother, quickly hides.

Later, Hannah sneaks off in search for the mysterious package. She is horrified to find in it a photo book full of ghastly historical photographs of a terrible place full of people suffering.

At first Hannah has little context for what she sees, but over the years, as she experiences love, grief, and trauma, she understands what these photos came to mean, for herself, her freedom and for those who risked their lives to 'bear witness' to history.

A startling story of clandestine courage and treachery in World War Two, and how we must meet and overcome our pasts to move into our futures.


The dark  

That Bligh girl by Sue Williams

Available in print, large print, CD and eAudiobook

Mary Bligh is no shrinking violet. After an horrific six-month sea voyage from Britain, she proves as strong-willed as her bloody-minded father, the newly appointed Governor William Bligh. The pair immediately scandalise Sydney with their personalities, his politics and her pantaloons.

When three hundred armed soldiers of the Rum Rebellion march on Government House to depose him, the governor is nowhere to be see. Instead, Mary stands defiantly at the gates, fighting them back with just her parasol.

Despite being bullied, belittled and betrayed, Mary remains steadfast, even when her desperate father double-crosses her yet again in his last-ditch attempt to cling onto power. But will Mary turn out to be her father's daughter and deceive him in pursuit of her own dreams and ambitions?

Sue Williams returns to the untold stories of the women of colonial Sydney with another fascinating, meticulously researched historical novel.


Wrapped in rain  

Paris dreaming by Anita Heiss

Available in print, large print and eBook

Libby is determined to stay on her no-man fast: no more romance, no more cheating men, no more heartbreak. But in the city of love there is no escaping fate … A hilarious and heartfelt romantic comedy from bestselling Wiradyuri author, Anita Heiss.

Libby has given up on romance. After all, she has her three best girlfriends and two cats to keep her company at night, and her high-powered job at the National Aboriginal Gallery in Canberra to occupy her day – isn't that enough?

But when fate gives Libby the chance to work in Paris at the Musée du Quai Branly, she's thrown out of her comfort zone and into a city full of culture, fashion and love.

Surrounded by thousands of gorgeous men, romance has suddenly become a lot more tempting.


Wrapped in rain



Sleepless in Stringybark Bay by Susan Duncan

Available in print, large print and eAudiobook

When five couples pool their resources to live in a house located where a turquoise lagoon meets the sea, the quirky little offshore community of Cook's Basin is shocked. How will ten people - one in a wheelchair and one with a hauntingly familiar face - survive where the only way in or out is by boat?

When a member of the household is found floating face down in the bay, the police insist the death was accidental, but the bizarre circumstances have locals scratching their heads.

Former journalist turned café owner Kate Jackson is curious to discover why a group of retirees in their late seventies would choose such an isolated location. Then a throw-away line in an old magazine story leads to shocking revelations.

Wrapped in the colourful culture of a boat-access-only community, Sleepless in Stringybark Bay celebrates having a go at any age, revels in the magic of the bush and explores the fragility of relationships, old and young.