Staff Reviews


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


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Sunraysia Daily Library Column - 15 June 2024

The last of the apple blossom  

Feline fatale by Rita Mae Brown

Available in print 

Politicians fight like cats and dogs, but when things take a deadly turn at the Virginia House of Delegates, Mary Minor “Harry” Haristeen calls on her beloved pets to help her crack the case and stop the fur from flying in this latest mystery from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.

Spring flowers may be about to bloom in Crozet, Virginia, but Harry is thinking about snow. Her dear friend Ned Tucker is in the House of Delegates, advocating for a bill to improve road clearing during bad weather, and Harry and Ned’s wife, Susan, have gone down to the statehouse to support him. Tensions are high between political parties, and no one can agree on anything for long enough to get something done.

The bill’s chief detractor is the glamorous Amanda Fields, a former newscaster turned delegate whose flair for the dramatic has earned her a formidable reputation—and made her more than a few enemies. Amanda’s claws-out approach to politics might have some of her colleagues wishing she was dead, but the statehouse is rocked when one of the young pages who assists the delegates dies under mysterious circumstances.

Could his death be related to the political infighting?  Or is something even more sinister threatening the lives of Virginia’s finest representatives?  With help from her feline sidekicks, and canine buddies, Harry is determined to find the answers and restore order once more.


The dark  

Break by Kayla Miller

Available in eBook and graphic novel

Spring break is full of possibilities… but not for Olive.

This year, Olive is leaving her friends and all of their exciting vacation plans behind to visit her dad at his new apartment in the city. Goober is thrilled to spend a whole week with their father and has a long list of activities for their time together. Olive, on the other hand, still remembers the hurt of their dad moving halfway across the world. She would rather spend time with her friend Bree or scrolling through her new phone to keep up with everything she’s missing back home, than catch up with him.

As the week winds on, the normally easy-going Olive finds feelings of loneliness and resentment throwing her out of whack. Is there any hope of salvaging the visit – or will Olive’s Spring break be a Spring bust?


Wrapped in rain  

Maisy loves bees by Lucy Cousins

Available in board book

Learn all about bees with Maisy in this brand-new series celebrating our planet!
Maisy is finding out about the bees in her garden and learning why they are so important for our planet. What do bees do all day? Where do they live? Little ones will discover the answers to these questions and many more in this colourful board book. Open out the final scene to see Maisy and the busy bees at work!

Maisy loves bees, is part of the Maisy’s Planet books. They are perfect for little nature-lovers aged from 18 months. This sturdy, toddler-friendly board book features bright colours, simple language and a fun open-out spread.


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.