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December 27, 2009

The Sealed Letter

The Sealed Letter is based on an actual divorce case from 1860s London which caused quite a scandal at the time. Centring on a friendship between two women, one of whom is married and having an affair and one who has defied social convention to work in business and for women's causes, the story chronicles the effect on that friendship of public scandal. Well written by Canadian author, Emma Donoghue, it develops the story from each of the character's points of view as we watch them descend into a tabloid drama that leaves none of them unscathed. The legal system, specifically the divorce laws of the time is the other player in the drama - as one of the characters observes, if you made divorce easier for women, lots of them would leave their husbands. Wendy

December 22, 2009

Leah Giarratano - aussie mystery writer

In her second novel, Giarratano has ticked the boxes for a successful crime thriller. A psychopathic killer escalating in violence; a loner cop coming to terms with brutal events in her past; a return to past haunts for a traumatised army veteran capable of extreme violence in defence of his family; a quirky, intelligent and off beat federal agent who also has a tragic past; and an authentic Australian setting in various Sydney suburbs. I got quite a thrill of recognition when some of the action took place around the Liverpool streets that I know well, in behind the Spotlight store no less, although I don't agree with her characterisation of the public library there! The book builds nicely to a satisfying conclusion and a tentative thawing of the thick wall of ice surrounding our protagonist. Well worth a try if you are looking for a new mystery author.


The Witch's Trinity

This rather bleak book by Erika Mailman takes quotations from the Malleus Maleficarum which was basically the witch-hunters guide book to start each chapter. This book was widely available because of the development of Gutenberg's press some 30 years earlier. The Salem witch trials are famous but Europe also had it's witch hunts and trials. This is set in a small village facing famine and looking for scape goats. The writing is spare and elegant. The desperation and the humanity of the characters is delineated hauntingly and in spite of the quite horrible things that happen, it manages to be uplifting because of that humanity. The author was interested in this subject because of the experience of her ancestor whose story is briefly explained at the end of the book.

a cottage cosy mystery

A Welsh village, a missing bride, the wisdom of the long term village school mistress and the inexpert pairing of a manicurist and her new friend all help to solve the mystery. Add a touch of romance and you have the perfect recipe for armchair sleuthing. The debut novel by Elizabeth J. Duncan has a light and sure touch. The manuscript was awarded the 2006 William F. Deeck Malice Domestic grant for unpublished writers and I think the grant committee chose very well. I will be looking out for her next book.

action heroes!

Alex Rutherford continues a rich historical action adventure tradition with this fictionalised story of Babur, the Moghul emperor. The story begins with Babur inheriting his father's small kingdom in central Asia and follows him as he pursues his dream to emulate his ancestor Timur or Tamberlaine. Ranging through the countries of modern day Uzbekistan, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India, Babur's armies face many trials before achieving success. I don't think this reaches the standard set by other historical action writers such as Conn Iggulden or Bernard Cornwell but it is an insight into a very different time and different cultures and very enjoyable escapism.


December 21, 2009

Smiley movies set in Camden

The movies 'Smiley' and 'Smiley gets a gun' used some Camden and Cawdor locations when they were filmed in the late 1950s. A number of local residents were extras in the films. The movies are still enjoyable today and give an insight into the freedoms of growing up in the country at the time. In the first movie 'Smiley' the mischievous boy Smiley ends up in misadventure whilst trying to raise money to buy a bicycle. In the second movie he wants to have a rifle like the local policeman played by Chips Rafferty. Whilst many aspects of the films would not be considered politically correct today they reflect social history and the plots and characters still delight audiences of all ages. See if you can recognise some local locations and people. Copies of both movies are available for loan from the library as well as archived in the Local Studies collection. For a preview go to

December 01, 2009

History - epics, chronicles, romances and inquiries.

"He is the extreme case of a highly recognisable type in many ages: a brilliant, arrogant aristocrat with political ambitions and considerable eloquence and ability."
No, it's not Malcom Turnbull in 2009, it's Alcibiades in 415BC Athenian society as reported in A History of Histories by John Burrow (p. 45).
A review on LibraryThing appears here. Over 200 members of LibrayThing have given this book an average of 4 stars and I would agree with them. This book is an overview of who has written history from the earliest records to the present day; why they wrote it and why it matters what was going on around them when they did. Scholarly and informative, the author's wry humour leavens what can inevitably turn a little dry. I have enjoyed it in instalments and also secure in the knowledge I was reading just for my own pleasure - not to face a test! If you like history you may well get a lot out of this book.

November 26, 2009

True Blood comes to Camden Library Service

We have recently acquired all 9 books in the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris - and we plan to get the next one when it is published next year. These books were the basis of the TV series True Blood and are in the current contemporary vampire genre. Find out more from wikipedia or the author's website. Several reservations have already been placed - get in early to get your next vampire fix!

November 24, 2009


This wonderful book has been recognised with several awards/nominations. It won the 2009 Queensland Premier's Literary Award for Fiction, is one of the 2009 Books Alive 50 Books You Can't Put Down and was also one of the shortlisted fiction titles in the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Awards. In spite of all that, you might want to give it a try - you won't find it wanting (sorry for the bad pun). To find out more about the book, go to Richard Flanagan's website which has reviews, book club notes etc. The story intertwines Charles Dickens and Sir John Franklin, a polar explorer, with the story of Tasmania's aboriginal peoples and their interaction with white settlers in colonial times through the experience of an orphan girl, Mathinna. Sensitive, evocative prose and a masterly weaving of the disparate stories make a fine and thoughtful experience for the reader.

Jane Austen's Sewing box

A simple pleasure for Jane fans, craft fans and social history fans. The author has trawled Jane's novels and personal papers to identify craft activities and designed simple projects to illustrate the idea. The background is given in extracts from these papers. The sewing instructions do, I think, presume a level of sewing knowledge as some of the steps are not clear, however, the book can be read as a delicious journey into Jane Austen's world without any intention of actually doing the craft . Step back into time with relish .... then come forward and say thankyou for modern sewing machines etc and not having the responsibility of providing all your family's clothing by hand! Very pretty.


"politics isn't rocket science"

This DVD is an English series of 6 episodes (a double DVD) on The Amazing Mrs Pritchard who, in disgust at the antics of her local candidates in a national election, decides to stand herself because politics isn't rocket science. Her knowledge of people helps her connect, her timing is right for people who are tired of professional politicians but as you may expect, she and her family are catapulted into situations she has not anticipated. A funny, serious, moving and interesting look at the pitfalls and pleasures of power and family life. Many of Britain's finest actors contribute to the strength of this series.


November 09, 2009

2009 Best Fiction Reads

Our top 10 most borrowed books for 2009 are:

  • Sail James Patterson
  • The Whole Truth David Baldacci
  • Firefight Chris Ryan
  • Artic Drift Clive Cussler
  • Patriot Act James Phelan
  • Skeleton Coast Clive Cussler
  • Area 7 Matthew Reilly
  • The Chase Clive Cussler
  • Plague Ship Clive Cussler
  • Silent Predator Tony Park

Camden's social history

Alan Atkinson's book 'Camden: farm and village life in early NSW' is a fascinating account of the social history of our area. Reading like a novel, its chapters tell the story of families who farmed, worked, married and formed the early community. An appendix gives a snapshot of the Aboriginal people living here at the time and the comprehensive index makes it a useful book for students and researchers. Available for reference and loan at Camden & Narellan libraries.

Winner of the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction

The winner of the 2009 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction is Nam Le for his book of short stories, The Boat. This book was discussed by Camden Library's Book Discussion Group this year, and provoked lots of lively argument - it was loved by some and largely criticised by others. I think it's one of the best books I've ever read - absolutely beautifully written and well-deserving of this award. Give it a try.


Find out more about the shortlist and winners at

Book Discussion Group

Do you love reading and talking about the books you have read with other avid readers? Then why not join Camden Library's Book Discussion Group on the third Thursday of each month from 7.30pm. Books we have discussed lately, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas and Ransom by David Malouf. Our next meeting will be held on Thursday 19 November 2009 and will include a Christmas get together to discuss our favourite books of the year. At the January meeting we will talk about No Country for old men by Cormac McCarthy.

New Large Print Collection

You may have noticed that the libraries Large Print collection has grown dramatically over the past year. Check out the latest titles, best selling authors and genres appealing to all tastes including mystery, fantasy, romance and classics.

November 07, 2009

Live your best life!

"O" The Oprah magazine is now available at Camden library. There are lots of style and fashion tips but most importantly great positive articles about health choices, body issues and family relationships.
The magazine is proving popular already so don't forget you can reserve a copy online or at the library for only $1.10.
Enjoy Luise

October 13, 2009

Man Booker Prize Winner - Wolf Hall

Hilary Mantel, a popular author at Camden Library Service has won the prestigious Booker Prize with her novel about Henry VIII.
The other short listed novels were:
AS Byatt The Childrens Book
J M Coetzee Summertime
Adam Foulds The Quickening Maze
Simon Mawer The Glass Room
Sarah Waters The Little Stranger
These titles are either available at the library or will be purchased soon.

August 30, 2009

Storm Peak

John A. Flanagan is the successful author of the Rangers Apprentice series which are very popular with our younger readers. This is his first adult novel and it is a well crafted murder mystery with a competent loner female sheriff, a troubled and also competent man with a past who is drafted as her deputy and a suitably nasty serial killer on the loose. It is a paint by numbers story, with a little love interest, a mountain chase and a spectacular setting in a ski resort town. A satisfying read for lovers of this genre. I'll be happy to look out for his next offering.


One Thousand White Women

This novel is written in the style of fictionalised journal entries and letters from a white American woman who takes part in an attempt by the American government to treat with the Cheyenne nation by supplying them with 1,000 white women to be their wives and aid assimilation to white culture. In spite of the novel's attempts (including the blurb on the back cover) to set this out as historical truth, an author's note at the back of the book states that although this was a request from the Cheyenne, it was turned down flat with considerable disgust by the authorities. Nonetheless, it is an interesting construct - looking at a sad time in American history when the Cheyenne knew their days as an independent and proud nation were numbered. The wives who were drawn from mental homes, prisons and the vulnerable in society have a remarkable adventure facing troubles and happinesses - identifying with their new husbands and families but unable to understand the more brutal aspects of their culture.


The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

I quite enjoyed this slight novel dealing with the retired Mr Ali who creates a Marriage Bureau to use up his energy and time when he becomes bored after retirement. There are echoes of Alexander McCall Smith in his gentle prose and exploration of social customs although his finished product is nowhere near the well crafted delights of Mr McCall Smith. The plot is perhaps contrived and many of the characters are not developed however you do get an understanding of a very different culture and discover that human relationships do not vary so much wherever you are n the world.


August 22, 2009

Audition by Ryu Murakami

This is proclaimed to be the novel behind the "acclaimed cult movie'' which I haven't seen. A Japanese documentary maker, Aoyama, hasn't dated since his wife died seven years before and he is urged by his son and friend to seek a new wife. He advertises for actresses for a film he doesn't intend to make so he can look over many women with the characteristics he seeks. When Yamasaki Asami enters the room, "Aoyama had a very distinct sensation that something extraordinary was happening all around him. It was like being the millionth visitor to an amusement park, suddenly bathed in spotlights and a rain of balloons and surrounded with microphones and flashing cameras." When she spoke "it was a voice that poured into your ears and oozed down the nerves to the nape of your neck - neither high-pitched nor deep nor dusky, but round and smooth and crystalline". Beguiled by her beauty and intrigued by her troubled past, he ignores the warning signs and rushes headlong into a steamy relationship. Aoyama is a decent man getting though life the best he can but Asami-san is playing by different rules and she wants to be the only person in his life.
This novel is beautifully translated from Japanese by Ralph McCarthy. It is a short novel, lyrically descriptive, explicitly sexual and shockingly violent. It is truly said that you should be careful what you wish for!

The Sonnets

Warwick Collins has imagined Shakespeare's life during the time he was exiled from London when theatres were closed as a result of the plague in 1592-4. In conjuring this time, Collins gives a context for 32 of the 154 Sonnets and explores some of the political events as the periphery to the poet's work. He postulates a theory as to the 'dark lady' who has fascinated Shakespearean scholars over the centuries. He may or may not be right - but it is an interesting conceit and a pleasant way to re-acquaint yourself with some of the best-known poems of all time. You get a flavour for Elizabethan life and the insecurities of a young man with his way to make in the world. And I couldn't resist including one of my favourite sonnets below!

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade,

Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

August 21, 2009

The Underneath

Kathi Appelt has published several picture books according to her biog in this book but I hadn't particularly come across her. Her debut novel is haunting, cruel, endearing, heartbreaking, disturbing, glorious, and captivating.

"It wasn't the chirring of the mourning doves that woke the calico cat, or the uncertain sun peeking through the clouds, or even the rustling of a nearby squirrel. No, it was the baying of a nearby hound. She had never heard a song like it, all blue in its shape, blue and tender, slipping through the branches, gliding on the morning air. She felt the ache of it. Here was a song that sounded exactly like she felt.............." Wendy

August 11, 2009

Hugo Awards

The Hugo Awards

for SciFi/Fantasy

have just been announced -

check out the website

for more details.

Briefly these are
annual awards for excellence
voted on by fans!


August 06, 2009

Still Alice

I cannot rave enough about this book! It is a long time since I read something with such impact.

Have you ever paused a moment to consider what it might be like to descend into dementia? Still Alice is the story of one woman’s journey through early onset Alzheimer’s. Alice is a 50year old psychology professor who, at first puts her forgetfulness and confusion, as most of us would, to ageing, stress, lack of sleep.

Although fictional, Still Alice is a truthful and respectful depiction of life with Alzheimer’s and has been endorsed by the US National Alzheimer’s Association. Author Lisa Genova has a Ph.D in neuroscience from Harvard and combines her scientific understandings , with lots of research and contact with people who have Alzheimer’s and their carers resulting in a unique, touching story told from Alice’s perspective. I think that is what really makes the book so powerful as you become Alice. An easy read which I managed in a weekend ( although some of my tears slowed me down from time to time!).

Reading Still Alice has increased my awareness and understanding to the realities of the illness, and had me questioning issues of self and identity. The book left me moved and inspired. I reckon it will stay with you long after you have closed the last page. Linda

Devil's Brood

Sharon Penman has delivered an enthralling power play as Henry II and his fascinating wife, Eleanor of Acquitaine, deal with their 'devil's brood' growing up in her final volume of her trilogy on this the original power couple! Their 5 sons who include Richard the Lionheart and Prince John (of Robin Hood infamy) grow to manhood struggling to be recognised by their controlling father and to carve out their own destiny as Kings, Dukes and Counts in England and France. This is a long book - over 700 pages but the story rockets along as Henry deals with the aftermath of the murder of Thomas Beckett and the necessity to keep all his vassals in order. Sharon Penman does extensive research and adds notes explaining why she makes the choices she does when the historical record is not clear. Her website is also a source of good information on the period and her processes in writing historical fiction. As well as 'straight' historical fiction, she writes medieval mysteries which you will find in our Mysteries genre. I took a while to read this simply because the book is quite heavy - and I found it too heavy to read in bed but it's a great read so give it a go!

Kellerman Mysteries

The Kellerman family have added significant depth to our mystery collection. Jonathan Kellerman writes forensic psychology novels which delve into the murkier areas of human interaction following the cases of Alex Delaware and featuring a regular cast of LA police and Alex's on-again off-again relationship with a troubled sculptress. Faye Kellerman writes police procedurals with a cultural twist as her protagonist, Peter Decker, a seasoned cop marries a Jewish widow and then deals with the religious/cultural issues of that blended family as his stepsons grow up. his daughter from his first marriage, Cindy, also becomes a cop so some of the stories revolve more around her. Each of the Kellerman parents deliver well written genre offerings. Their son, Jesse Kellerman, is now well established as a mystery writer in his own right, having delivered 3 novels - Sunstroke, Trouble and The Brutal Art - which are all different, all excellently written and all show he has his parents' gifts for story telling and character development. His people are more likely to be adrift in a modern world where they are struggling to define their own place as they deal with unfolding mysteries and are well worth a look if you like a good mystery read.

July 20, 2009

Land of Marvels

A fascinating exploration of the differing threads of political influence in pre-WWI in Mesopotamia - modern Iraq; as the European powers jockey for position and influence and the Ottoman Empire crumbles. Somerville, an idealistic archaeologist is under pressure from all sides. An American geologist is surveying potential oilfields under pretence of being an archaeologist. Agents from Austria, Germany and Britain keep an uneasy eye on each other and the local Arabic peoples try to gain what advantage they can. Two women, a wife and a fiancee, offer both traditional and radical notions of contemporary feminity. A study of past upheavals in the area do not prepare Somerville for the present cataclysms. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the geological formations, the bitumen sands and other features which presaged oil being present and the somewhat naive idealism of the geologist who thinks that cheap and plentiful fuel will bring the world's people out of poverty by providing cheap power. Barry Unsworth explores his characters motivations with lyricism and understanding.

Fire and Sword

Book 3 in Simon Scarrow's epic story of Napoleon and Wellington is another absorbing story. You can feel the suffering of the troops as they march, counter march, deal with low rations and impatient generals. The generals have to deal with non-military imterference into what they know they can achieve. The characters of the two men are developing as they move towards their Waterloo. Napoleon is starting to give into his megalomania viewing all others as subordinate to his visions. Wellington had a much slower rise to much less power and was required to do much more with much fewer resources. The battles are detailed in vivid descriptions so that you can imagine being one of the great generals and trying to decide where and when to commit your last reserves.

who hasn't had doubts?

The DVD DOUBT has had critical acclaim for its uncompromising storyline and searingly honest portrayals of the main characters by some fine actors. Meryl Streep (Sister Aloysius) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Father Flynn) shine in this movie, ably supported by Amy Adams as the idealistic nun slowly losing her innocence as she encounters the gritty realities of running a school. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize and Tony award wining play by John Patrick Shanley who also wrote and directed the movie. What is the relationship at the heart of the movie? Is the merciless headmistress or the affable priest the real supporter of the children? How does a mother best protect her son in the light of unreasonable constraints? The film raises questions rather then providing answers in an absorbing and complex exposition.

June 29, 2009

From Little Britain to fiction

David Walliams is best known as one of the creators of the Little Britain TV series. This first novel is an exploration of "The Boy in the Dress" and seeks to explain a boy's journey into cross dressing. Beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake, the boy in question comes to an understanding with his class mates at school and with his father. He is helped by being one of the school's best soccer players and is needed for a crucial game. I can't help wondering if a boy without a sought-after talent would have fared quite as well. More fable than gritty but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Walliams has a light and sure touch and hopefully will write more.


All marriages have their own secrets.....

A thought provoking read as a man re-discovers his life after his wife dies suddenly in The Marriage Club by Kate Legge. Each person in their circle of friends starts to wonder how much they each know of their friends and of their own marriages. The Age writes " Legge's compassionate intelligence informs a graceful and deeply felt novel that will arrive as a welcome breathing lesson in many lives. Satisfying and interesting.

June 03, 2009

Quantum of Solace - The Complete James Bond Short Stories

James Bond has had so many incarnations it is difficult to tell what defined the 'real' Bond from the hyperreal cinematic spy. Each actor has brought various aspects of Ian Fleming's iconic character alive from Sean Connery's seminal tough, handsome and uncompromising portrayal through to Daniel Craig's near brutal, strikingly masculine and physical realisation in the most recent films.

However, you need to go back to the original source material to get the feel, the grit, the intellectual thrill of the real James Bond. Ian Fleming wrote 12 Bond novels and 2 collections of short stories. Quantam of Solace collects these short stories in the one book. The brilliance of this volume is that the length of each story necessitates a concise plotline and distils for the reader the essence of Bond that is raw man, considerate and occaisionally compassionate human, as well as the cold instrument of the British government.

It is a great introduction to the written Bond and although they are half a century old, the stories still excite and make for compelling reading.

May 27, 2009

International Man Booker Prizewinner - Alice Munro

You will find Alice Munro's work at both Camden and Narellan Libraries. I remember feeling transfixed by her wonderful short story collections when I first was recommended to them by a friend from Canada many years ago. Read about why she won this prestigious prize which is awarded to an author for their whole body of work. At 77, she has a significant set of titles to her name and she hasn't finished yet, as a new collection is due out in October 2009.

May 07, 2009


Cranford by Mrs Gaskell is a funny, satirical look at change in a closed off village society. Recently adapted into a very successful BBC series which the library also holds on DVD, the original novel holds up very well in its characterisations and comedy in spite of being written in the 1850s. The book is episodic and an excellent afterword explains that it was written in parts for Dickens' weekly publication Household Words. The consequent lack of an overall structure does not detract form the reader's gentle enjoyment. Interestingly, Mrs Gaskell apparently regretted killing off Captain Brown in an early chapter, so in adapting the novel for the BBC, the producers kept him alive. It is worth viewing the 'making off Cranford' special features for their discussion on the adaption.
Thoroughly recommended!

May 06, 2009

Twilight and Beyond?

Looking for something to read after the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer?
We have the following books that may appeal.

ð Vampire Beach series by Alex Duval
ð House of Night Series by P C Cast
ð The Vampire Diaries L J Smith
ð Tithe or Ironside by Holly black
ð Chronicles of Faerie by O R Melling
ð Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
ð City of Bones & City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
ð Shattered Mirror and Midnight Predator by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


May 02, 2009

The Husband

I haven't read Dean Koontz before but he is prolific and popular writing horror and mysteries. The Husband is held in Large Print and normal print in the library. A man who lives a simple life as a gardener, valuing his wife and his home above all else, is rung by the men who have kidnapped his wife and are demanding $2 million for her safe return. He doesn't have anywhere near $2million but they apparently know where he can get it... In dealing with this horror scenario, he is forced to confront his own past and re-evaluate his relationships with his family.
This held my attention and was well-paced - I will be looking out his other work to read soon.

The Coroner

A new author for the library, M.R. Hall, has written a tale about a newly appointed coroner, Jenny Cooper, who seeks a new start after divorce and a minor nervous breakdown. In reviewing the last few cases dealt with by her predeccessor before his death from a heart attack, Jenny finds some inconsistencies that lead her to suspect a conspiracy to cover up the unlawful deaths of two troubled teenagers. Has Jenny bitten off more than she can deal with as she battles to deal with her own rehabilitation, establish a new relationship with her teenage son and manage a civil conversation with her ex-husband? As she gets closer to the truth, the bad guys up the ante but her determionation to find the truth finds her new allies and the two teens' families find some resolution just as Jenny confronts her own internal demons and deals with her past. An enjoyable, quick read with a welcome light touch of romance for our embattled heroine.

Songs Without Words

This latest book from Ann Packer is another gem about contemporary family life. You may have read her earlier novel 'The Dive from Clausen's Pier' and marvelled at her ability to get inside each character's head and tell events from different perspectives. Her lucid prose and telling descriptions are evident in this new book. Little touches like her description of a minor character, a real estate agent showing a house....."never a hair out of place. Today she stood at the dining room table with her smoked salmon and her flyers, in a tobacco-brown blazer over a high-collared gold silk blouse that was like a display stand for her impeccably made-up face."

Two friends, Sarabeth and Liz, their places in their relationship set by their shared history and separate choices. When Sarabeth was in high school, her mother committed suicide and Sarabeth lived with Liz's family. Liz has, by choice, devoted her life to her family - husband David and two children and has a routine of home making, yoga, and voluntary work; Sarabeth works part-time at a variety of 'arty' jobs and has had a long term unsatisfactory affair with a married man.

David on Sarabeth"...she's going to a gamelan concert know those Indonesian chimes and gongs...Sarabeth was always doing something a little hipper than he and Liz would do on their own, and every third or fourth time, Liz would get a bee in her bonnet and they'd end up in some warehouse in Alameda , watching naked people write on each other or something. On the plus side, it gave him great stories for work."

Sarabeth and Liz don't quite realize that underneath their friendship, they regard each other's lives with 'scorn and envy' until a trauma in Liz's family is the catalyst for a re-assessment of their lives and relationships.

April 30, 2009

Glamour Cakes

This book is sumptuous and breath-taking! This is food art! hopefully there are people in our library community who will invest the time to make some of the creations in this book - for me - I am content to just look and marvel at what can be achieved. Butterflies, cherubs, white chocolate cigarillos, flowers and spots - who would have thought they could be so magical. For an elegant and sophisticated cake try the American Retro or Venetian Carnival....or lose your heart to Lavender Fields or Cherry Envelope. Extensive step-by-step instructions with pictures show how to make the cakes, icings, edible garnishes and how to construct your very own Glamour Cake.

April 29, 2009

Teatime for the Traditionally Built

All Alexander McCall Smith fans of the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series can relax with a cup of bush tea and a large slice of cake. The latest - the 10th in the series - does not disappoint. Mma Ramotse looks into the local soccer team to find out why they are losing with some help from her adopted son, Pusa. Meanwhile, her assistant, Grace Makutsi, has to see off an inferior graduate from Secretarial school who is trying to steal her fiancee. It's a pleasant read with gentle humour and a reinforcement of traditional values.

Envy the Night

A terrific read from Michael Koryta.
You might be interested in these other blogs' views of this work.
How does a son cope with his inheritance when his father was a successful FBI agent turned serial killer and he trained his son to be quicker and more deadly then his enemies?
Taut and with the obigatory plot twists, this kept my interest although I did feel a bit water-logged by the end.

April 25, 2009

The Wisdom of Birds

Subtitled "An Illustrated History of Ornithology", this is a detailed book full of surprising knowledge. Starting with Aristotle, through the ages, men (mostly men) have studied and written about bird biology and behaviour. In the early days of modern academic study, the scientific men were dismissive of the vast store of knowledge built up by amateur bird watchers and bird keepers but as time went by, this knowledge was synthesised and led to much greater understanding. I found the historical insights of most interest.
Why was an egg-laying cockerel burnt at the stake?
Which of Mozart's compositions was based on the song of his pet starling?
How was the role of bird song and plumage display interpreted over the years?
How did they eventually discover that some birds migrated and didn't actually spend the winter hibernating at the bottom of frozen ponds?
All wrapped up with a discussion on how scientific thought and process generally developed and affected the study of birds especially the great legacy of Charles Darwin - Natural Selection.
You can learn a lot (even if , as I did, you skip some of the more technical explanations) and also enjoy the reproductions of illustrations from famous historical bird texts.

April 10, 2009

Poetry for Young People - Emily Dickinson

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
I'd often read references to Emily Dickinson's poetry, generally in novels where young American women studied her in college, without ever having read her directly. This is an introduction to her for young people - or for anyone who wants to enter a simpler (and better?) world.

Fast, Fresh and Fabulous

A terrific cook book from Janelle Bloom of Ready Steady Cook fame. She covers entrees, mains, desserts, drinks, cakes and sweets and some basics for all occasions. As well as fabulous full recipes, she has quick tips eg Apple and Mint Sauce - peel and dice golden delicious apples, microwave on high until tender. Add spoonfuls of mint jelly and process until smooth adding sugar to taste. Serve with pork schnitzel. I can't wait to try her favourite mud cake or her potato and sweet onion frittata. Meats, seafood, vegetarian dishes - something to tempt every tastebud!


April 07, 2009


A man who is 'slow' is left orphaned and then wins the lottery. his Grandmother has taught him who to trust but how will he survive his conniving and greedy relatives and the new fame his fortune brings him. A gentle and engaging tale of how true friends and a sense of what is truly important in life can bring you joy.

Busy Woman Seeks Wife

Alex, a marketing executive is about to launch a new product line and needs all her attention at work, so she seeks help to manage her domestic life and look after her convalescent and demanding mother. The person she hires turns out to be not quite what she expects. A romance is in the offing but there are several obstacles to be dealt with before the requisite happy ending. Light and undemanding - perfect for your spare hour or two.

March 27, 2009

Cook's Endeavour Journal : the inside story

This charming little book takes all the work out of research and presents you with choice bits of information, facsimiles & transcripts of actual written records and reproductions of artwork from precious original items held by the National Library of Australia. While we go about our daily routine, busy people are working with these items and discovering our history and serving it up in these bite size chunks! Less than 180 pages of text and images give a wonderful flavour of Cook's journeys and the achievements of this talented crew which included Banks and Solander. The portions of transcripts are given background and context so we can understand their significance. The original journal is available on line as are the transcripts which is terrific for more in depth research but for a small weekend trip on the bark Endeavour, this beautifully designed book is perfect.

March 25, 2009

Make it Moroccan

A luscious new cook book exploring Moroccan cuisine. a brief introduction to Morocco and its cuisine is followed by chapters focusing on a different theme eg Tagines, preserved lemon/limes, pomegranates, salads etc. The chapter starts off with an explanation/recipe for the main theme and then has some yummy recipes. I think I'll try the Caramelised Tomatoes (ingredients include nutmeg, rosewater, pepper, honey, cinnamon and almonds) and then branch out into something more involved. Although the recipes use lots of spices, they don't seem too complicated. The photos certainly look mouth watering. Another fine addition to our wonderful collection of cook books.

March 24, 2009

The Race

In 'The Race', Richard North Patterson poses the question 'Can an honest man become president?' but as previous readers of his contemporary political novels will know, it's never that simple. Patterson brings the ambition and drama of a brutal political contest to life with the assurance of a person with inside knowledge of Washington power games. If you liked this one, why not try one of his earlier novels from our Fiction General collection.

March 22, 2009


Bernard Cornwell's masterly recreation of the battle of Agincourt, including the campaign that led up to it is personalised by the focus on Nicholas Hook. Nick has been drawing a bow since he was seven years old, building strength and skill.

"Hook had learned the whispering release that let the string slip through his fingers, which hardened into leather pads. and as he drew and released, drew and released, year after year, the muscles of his back, his chest and his arms grew massive. This was one requirement, the huge muscles needed to draw the bow, while the other, which was harder to acquire, was to forget the eye.
When he first started as a boy, Hook would draw the cord to his cheek and sight down the arrow's length to aim, but that cheated the bow of its full power. If a bodkin was to shear through plate armour it needed all the power of the yew and that meant drawing the cord to the ear, and then the arrow slanted across the eye, and it had taken Hook years to learn how to think the arrow to the target. He could not explain it, but no archer could. He only knew that when he
drew the cord he looked at the target and the arrow flew there because he wanted it to, not because he had lined eye, arrow and target.
That was why the French had no archers other than a few huntsmen, because they had no men who had spent years learning to make a length of yew and a cord of hemp become part of
themselves." ....... from page 134

War in 1415 is brutal and bloody so this book is not for the squeamish. Cornwell's gift for re-telling famous battles and military campaigns evidenced in his works on Wellington (the Sharpe Series) and the American Civil War (the Starbuck Chronicles) is in full flight here. 6,000 Englishmen (including a few Welshmen) beat a French army of 30,000 helped by the weather and the English longbow.

Interestingly, as an aside in his historical note at the end of the book, Cornwell theorises that as the French had threatened to cut off two fingers from the archers' hands to prevent them drawing the bow, that the English made rude gestures with those fingers at the French after they won the battle. Thus the origin of the infamous two fingered salute!

I love Cornwell's masterly evocation of the few men and women he focuses on to tell the story, his commmand of the details of daily life & military training and of course his strong, though flawed, heroes. Visit the author's website for more info on his works


March 21, 2009

Divas Don't Knit

A recent addition to the Large Print fiction collection, this is an easy read chronicling the life of our heroine after her husband dies in a car accident immediately after announcing he was leaving her. Taking her grief and anger, as well as two small sons, she moves to a small town and takes over a knitting/wool shop. Several improbable story lines involving a movie star and other celebrity friends later, she has rebuilt her life and has a new romance building. Enjoyable fluffy escapism. Have a nice night in with a box of chocolates and a glass (or two) of wine!

March 05, 2009

In A Unicorn's Garden - magic and mystery in medieval gardens

A lovely new book to browse or to read in more depth. Find out the characteristics of gardens for alchemists, knights, pilgrims, cooks and more! what were the gardens used for in the context of the medieval times and who looked after them. Loaded with planting information and sample designs as well as photos and stories about re-created gardens you can visit (sadly most are in Europe!) as well as information to help you create your own patch of magic. I was impressed to realise that I had a number of well loved plants that would grace a Mary Garden viz carnations, roses, lavender, rosemary etc. The abiding impression is of the tranquility and serenity of a well-tended and designed garden to soothe the senses and uplift the spirit.
ahh bliss!

March 04, 2009

What The Dead Know

A mystery with a difference. A woman has a traffic accident and wanders away. she appears dazed and confused and states she is one of 'the Bethany girls'. Two girls who had disappeared thirty years before when they went to the mall. As the mystery deepens, the woman reveals little by little her story. Are we dealing with murder, abuse, runaways and how did the long ago mystery affect the family and friends. A good read in Large Print for mystery devotees.

February 20, 2009

Lars and the Real Girl

I first heard about this movie on the ABC movie show and was intrigued. You would not expect a story about an anatomically correct adult female sized doll to be a gentle, life affirming story about how people in a small town can support and look out for each other. Beautifully cast, acted and directed. There are no murders, no car chases, no real conflict and yet it is a very satisfying exploration of how one man, Lars, finds his way forward. You might find the beginning slow and/or weird - stick with this understated love story and you will be enchanted.

February 11, 2009

Big and Me

A captivating new storybook by award-winning author David Miller, Big and Me captures the dilemmas faced by children dealing with someone in their life having a mental illness. Big and Me are both earth moving machines and Big sometimes 'goes a bit wobbly' and behaves erratically. Me has to find someone to help and maybe sometimes will have to stay with a friend for a while. This book will bring a smile to your face, with some underlying sadness; and it just might help you help a small person who is facing some tough issues. The story is enhanced by David's clever and colourful illustrations. An instant hit with library staff.

February 05, 2009

New Historical Mystery

The Redemption of Alexander Seaton by Shona McLean is not a straight-forward murder mystery. The author lives in the Scottish city of Banff where the book is set in the 1620s and it is obviously well informed by her studies in history. She deftly invokes the social setting of the times, where the town leaders had moral as well as legal authority over the townspeople. I particularly liked the touch where a crucial witness was banished from the town for being a prostitute and the understanding we gain of the effects of these kinds of laws. The protaganist, Alexander Seaton, must find his way to the truth and to an understanding of his own past failings before he can achieve the redemption of the title and it is a fascinating journey. The humanity of the characters coping with what is to us a very unfamiliar world is well drawn and although I found it a little slow to start, if you persevere you will have a very satisfactory read.

Classic fiction at Narellan Library

We are very pleased to announce that our collection of Classics at Narellan Library has recently been improved with many new titles. New copies of titles by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, John Steinbeck, Albert Camus, Alexandre Dumas, George Eliot and Victor Hugo and others joined our existing titles. They are now easier to find as the Fiction collections at Narellan have been separated into genre groupings and therefore the classics have their own area of the shelves.
Another new classic title is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. If you want some background on Mary Shelley, try 'Other People's Daughters: the Life and Times of the Governess' by Ruth Brandon held at Camden Library in the Biography Collection (B 923.7 BRA). both Mary and Claire Clairmont (her step-sister) feature in this exploration of the economic and social history of the governess. It is fortunate that there were some governesses who achieved some celebrity so that their records and papers were kept. Most governesses did not enjoy such a position. The book also includes information on early campaigners for female education and the establishment of the first female colleges at universities in England.