July 08, 2020

Stop! Grammar time.

Tense. Yes, you may feel this way when it comes to writing, whether informally or formally (for work or educational purposes). But 'tense' is also important for understanding what people are talking or writing about: whether it is in the past, present or future.

Tense takes a base word (basically any word in the dictionary) and changes its ending so either a listener or reader understands the time period someone is writing or speaking about.

Cleary, B. P and Lew-Vriethoff, J. (2010). Punctuation station. Minneapolis: Millbrook Press, 16. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=e700xww&AN=311831&site=ehost-live

This resource can be found here. It is part of our online nonfiction collection of items that you have free access to with a library card. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of this page, and log in.

So, take an example like the word tolerate. As the image above shows, this word will change its ending to show its tense.

  • Mike tolerates Mitchell : This is the present tense for third person use. Because you can switch 'Mike' for 'he' and the sentence still makes sense, the present tense is used and the -s is added to the end.

  • Mike thought he was tolerating Mitchell well :  This is the present tense for first or second person use. In the sentence, 'Mike thought' shows his internal monologue and perspective, suggesting that for present tense -ing is added to the end of the word.

  • Mike had tolerated Mitchell for long enough : This is the past tense of the word and can be used for first, second or third person writing. The sentence shows Mike has been around Mitchell in the past, for possibly a long time, and has found he can no longer take what Mitchell is like anymore. To show the past relationship; therefore, -ed is added to the end of the word. 

These are past, present and future 'simple' tense examples. That doesn't mean it is always easy to stay consistent and clear in your writing though, particularly for essays.

Whilst you can write past and present tense in essays at the same time:

Smith argues that ...

Smith has argued that ...

You want to make sure that the work is consistent, clear and makes sense before you hand it in. 

As seen above, mixing tenses can also add a lot more depth to creative writing pieces. You just need to make sure your time periods and phrasing work well with each other.

The best way to know if a paragraph or sentence is working the right way for essays or stories? Rewrite them using different tenses! Then you get some well-worn practice in and you will see which works better for the point or plot you are creating.

July 01, 2020

Brian Bilston's "Diary of a somebody"

This book can be found here.

This book is filled with poetry. And you know what? I wasn’t too bothered.

Bilston is known for his poetry; starting there and gaining a huge following on social media. This book was his first novel and it is interspersed with his poetry as well. And as I said, I didn’t mind the fact that I was reading poetry as I was reading this book.

So, let’s talk about the poetry first, and bear in mind I am no expert (on anything probably, and yet here I am). There was a lot of humour in the poetry (some I didn’t get), but most I did. I enjoyed the linguistic jokes and the cultural references and I am sure anyone who enjoys his social media presence (check out his website here) that you would not be disappointed.

Since that’s all I know about poetry, let’s get down to the novel. The book is about a life; a “somebody” if you will. The character, Brian (possibly written because it reflects his own life? Hard for me to say, but it is interesting they share the same name), is a regular human. Maybe even less than regular as there is a typical dejection that follows him (or is created by him). The character; therefore, may be unlikeable to a lot of readers because of this naturalness of the character. Brian is unable to enjoy life, unable to see the good side, and often blames anything else but himself for his situation. What I found with the character however; is this didn’t bring me closer to Brian, it distanced me. However, there is a lot of humour and development of the story (not necessarily the character); that kind of ties it together. There’s almost a “Gumpness” to the character – but in a less positive way.

The remaining characters in the novel also do not seem to develop much, and as the story is told in the first person, you cannot fully understand what happens behind the minds of any of the other characters. 

In terms of story; it is rather slow. It basically follows the year in the life of Brian. There is not a lot of conflict or heart-racing moments; just like real life. The story itself is crowned by the poetry (this being its centrepiece and the story flowing around it). It may take some time to get into the story (for example the days about garbage); but every day is not full and exciting, and so it at least reflects life the way it should be. Or is.

I do think the novel is fun. It’s a short, quick read; even when there is no real pace. I will say that the poetry was great. Brian was interesting because he was so average, and it is nice to have a break from Adonises and Herculeses (if these can be the plurals?). If you don’t want an almost anti-heroic protagonist who is too human, don’t read the novel. But, you should definitely read it for the wordplay and poetry. If you must, skip the story … though I suggest you give it a shot anyway.

Links for you:

Title read-a-likes in the library:

Andrew Sean Greer

Author read-a-likes in the library:

Tom Hanks

This author was chosen for their use of dialogue and tone.

June 26, 2020

How to ... Trove!

What is Trove, I hear you ask?

Trove is an online resource that was created by the National Library of Australia. It collects information on Australian resources and allows people to have access to read and view these items, or shows you which libraries have them for you to view in person.

These collections come from all across Australia to represent communities, cultures and research. For example; you can look for items about and created by First Australians or you can look for newspapers from the 1800s. There are even digital versions of maps, images, journals and sheet music that can be viewed and explored by you!

If you were feeling incredibly interested in these newspapers also, for example, you could also spend time trying to transcribe what was written down for future generations to read.

Not only does it sound fun; Trove has also relaunched itself today!

So ... tips?

  • For starters, if you want to get the most out of your site visit, you could use their "How to use Trove" video.

  • No matter whether you choose to "Explore", "Categories", Community", "Research" or "First Australians" when looking for information, you can narrow your search by clicking on "all categories" beside the search bar to choose book and libraries; newspapers and gazettes; or websites, to name a few.

  • If you are on the homepage and scroll to the bottom, there is a pink highlighted bar that shows more you can do on Trove. This includes investigating your family history through state and territory and overseas links to archives and resources. If you had spare time and wanted to take up a new hobby you could edit and read news articles from the past. You could spend time discovering more about Australian culture. Or last, but certainly not least, by clicking on the final option, find new, interesting or quirky information that Trove has uncovered to share.

There is a lot to discover on Trove that relates to Australian and First Australian history and culture. Take your time exploring this site and stay in the know about events and news they have coming up in the future. 

Whatever the reason for looking at Trove ... you won't be disappointed with the opportunities and information available to you. So go ahead, visit today!

June 24, 2020

How to ... Hobbies! Wait, hobbies?

Interested in starting a new hobby? Want to increase your skills of a current one? Just want to grab that pattern or find out just "how to" ... do whatever it is you want to do?

Introducing Hobbies and Craft Reference Centre. This is an online resource that offers information, how-tos, patterns, videos and articles on a range of topics that people know a lot about, know nothing about or would like to know more about for educating and entertaining themselves.

Sounds like a lot of fun!

To access this resource, it can be found down near the bottom of our eResearch page on our website.

Clicking on the link to Hobbies Centre will open up a log in page. Add your library card number on the back of your card (don't forget the C and D) and you are in.

This front page then separates hobbies and crafts into different subjects to help you break down your search: Arts and crafts; Collecting; Home and garden; Indoor recreation; Kids' craft; Model building; Needlecraft and textiles; Outdoor recreation; Performing arts; Science and technology; and Scrapbooking and papercrafts.

By clicking the topic of your choice, it will take you to a page where it is broken down into smaller subjects. 

So give it a try. And, of course, if you need help in any way, don't forget to contact a library staff member who will be happy to help you.

What hobby can you start today that could impact you or others tomorrow?

June 17, 2020

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's "Good omens"

This book can be found here.

If you haven’t seen the show on Amazon Prime by now, you might have already read this one. It’s a classic (so the people say). Even the introduction from the authors mentions the dog-eared copies that fell in the bath so often from all the re-readings people do. So, this review could be irreverent, given the hype and popularity of this book. Though there might be a single individual out there not yet experienced either with the writings of Pratchett and/or Gaiman … maybe.

This book has multiple characters and their perspectives: so, there is no one main character, though you could argue both Aziraphale and Crowley could be those (and given the focus of them on the title for the television series … Michael Sheen and David Tennant … of course!). These two characters (one a demon, one an angel) have been on Earth so long that they enjoy it too much to give up being there, even for the Apocalypse. And these two characters are a lot of fun. Particularly Aziraphale (to a librarian anyway):

“Aziraphale collected books. If he were totally honest with himself, he would have to have admitted that his bookshop was simply somewhere to store them. He was not unusual in this. In order to maintain his cover as a typical second-hand book seller, he used every means short of actual physical violence to prevent customers from making a purchase. Unpleasant damp smells, glowering looks, erratic opening hours - he was incredibly good at it.”

I really don’t want to delve too much into the quirkiness of every character, because it is so much fun to read that I want you to discover it all for yourself (for the first time or again). Though the two characters I have mentioned predominantly are the most three-dimensional of the lot, so these may be the ones you will connect with the most.

The setting is urban London, but not as modern as say yesterday is, so younger audiences may not understand or get every reference. But there is enough notable pop culture to either smile or laugh out loud at. Do be aware that the book’s beginning is fast-paced, but really slows down near the end. Whilst it is important for this to happen for the progress of the story, this may bother some readers as it feels less like a proper and complete ending.

I should mention the writing style also. This is two authors coming together in their early days of writing to create something fun with each other, and not expecting it to become as large as it did. They both have slightly different styles that they have tried to entwine into one book. I could tell parts that were more Gaiman and Pratchett, having read other works of theirs; but if you haven’t read some of these, I don’t expect you to notice. Some may suggest that you cannot notice the difference, in fact the authors in an interview at the back of the novel suggested that they even thought some lines were written by the other it became such a complete tale on its own. I can see parts where this occurs, which continues the fluidity of the writing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I can see why fans reread it so many times. There are a lot of jewels as you read, and obviously you reread to find them all over again or new ones you missed the last time. Whilst you may not consider it as good as later individual works by the same authors, if you like comedic discussion on social and religious aspects: “It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism”  (think 'HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy' if you would like a similar book), then this book should be on your list.

Links for you:

Pratchett in the library:

Anything from the Discworld series

Gaiman in the library:

As a note, Gaiman started in graphic novels, which is why I have put this last one up.

Gaiman in cloudLibrary:

Title read-a-likes in the library:

Thomas Pynchon

Whilst this is darker, the themes resonate between the two works.

June 10, 2020

Layla AlAmmar’s “The pact we made”

This book can be found here.

This debut novel follows the character Dahlia as a woman living in Kuwait that straddles both modernity and traditional cultural values in her life. This is a very strong theme within the novel as Dahlia is almost thirty; which is the cut-off point for being a worthwhile wife and bride for a man to choose.

This can be seen within the title, which refers to the fact that when young, Dahlia and her two friends all made a pact to be married by twenty-seven. This itself; though Dahlia wanted out of the pact, shows the pressures of women and their roles even in modern Kuwait that Dahlia is expected to live up to.

So, this novel is all about self-discovery, self-identity and #metoo; but also the trials of just existing within society. A lot of the characters tend to struggle with life and its choices (most humans could); whether from Kuwait or not. The added layer of this novel? AlAmmar’s Kuwaiti traditional roles and ways of thinking adds dimension and struggle that I as a Westerner may not have ever encountered if in similar situations. This made parts of the novel much more difficult for me to read as I struggled with such traditional views; which Dahlia seemed to have to manoeuvre through as well.

Saying that; the plot is slow-going. This is about Dahlia’s progression through this almost “final” year of her life (or the beginning of her new one if it works out … not telling you though). It means that even for the secondary characters there is a sense of claustrophobia to their lives that can’t be escaped (possibly) and this can also slow the book down. 

Character is the driving force of the novel. It is mostly all about Dahlia and her processes and this, again, becomes rather claustrophobic. This is because it is first-person and so her voice and thoughts become sometimes a little overpowering outside of the story. Whilst this lends itself to strengthen a character trying to cope with trauma, some of it may push readers to the side.

In truth, this could be another layer to the novel: everyone is selfish and focussed ultimately on their own thoughts, goals and issues and trying to get out of, or through, them (generally). This would play well for a young adult audience, even with Dahlia almost pushing thirty (given the traditional values of the family in this novel, she is treated like a child and so definitely still fits). However, it might be a tough read, not in terms of language (though Arabic is used at times – well too, I might add), but because of Dahlia’s consuming thoughts. However, overall, the insight into the culture and an individual trying to balance and find their place in it was very well done.

Links for you:

Okay, so I am starting with an interview by AlAmmar with this blog “Reading women”. Probably a little controversial connecting between blogs, but this gives insight into AlAmmar’s writing processes.

Read-a-likes in the library:

Jing-Jing Lee

Read-a-likes in cloudLibrary:

Mohsin Hamid

June 09, 2020

Staff pick: Hilary Mantel's "Mirror and the light"

This book can be found here.

This is the final instalment of her celebrated trilogy on the life of Thomas Cromwell, who rose to be Lord Privy Seal to King Henry VIII of England, basically running the government of the realm. He helped solve the King’s Great Problem of how to divorce Katherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn in the first two books. Now there is a third Queen hoping to deliver the much-anticipated son and heir to carry on the Tudor dynasty. History tells us that three more Queens will await their fate after this Queen. Remember the rhyme:

Divorced, beheaded, died
Divorced, beheaded, survived.

Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour
Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr.

The earlier books in the trilogy, "Wolf Hall" and "Bring up the bodies", each won the Mann Booker Prize in 2009 and 2012, respectively. They were worthy winners. We won’t know until later in the year if this third book will be nominated, I will be surprised if it isn’t. Her style in these books is to create a vast, much peopled canvas, to follow the diverse nobles and the few commoners who shaped events, to have an overarching commentary from Thomas and to range back and forth in time. This enables her to bring forward incidents that developed his character, talents, networks and alliances as they are relevant to the current action. I found the back and forth in time a little bit jarring in Wolf Hall; it seemed much smoother in the next two, or perhaps the scene had been set and I had adjusted to her style.

Thomas Cromwell was the son of a brewer, from a poor part of London, near to the bottom of the social hierarchy. As a child, he worked in the kitchens of great houses. He went to the Netherlands and Italy, working with merchants and understanding finance. Double entry bookkeeping had been invented to keep the accounts of the great Italian merchant companies and printing was underway and books were becoming available to the rising merchant class as well as nobles and Church dignitaries. Whilst in Italy, he acquires a second-hand book.  This is one example of Mantel’s research. She knows the printer/publishers and their printer’s marks or devices, giving this book the mark of the dolphin and anchor of a famous Venetian printer: https://nyamcenterforhistory.org/2018/05/07/makers-mark-a-look-at-early-modern-printers-devices/. This is one small detail and it is matched by her careful attention to all aspects of Cromwell’s life and of English life during Tudor times.

When Cromwell comes back to England, he works for Cardinal Wolsey, then high in Henry’s favour. It is a great learning ground for a man who does appear to have been exceptionally able, much to the chagrin of the various nobles who envy his rise to power and who believe that lesser people in the social strata just are less able. But if the head that wears the crown is uneasy, it is more dangerous to be close enough to the King to know his secrets and weaknesses, and fatal not to be able to give him what he wants. Cromwell rises further on Wolsey’s fall and in turn will fall himself.

I normally like to race through a book to find out how the story develops but this is a familiar story to me as the Tudor period is one in which I have a great interest. I found I took this book at a more leisurely pace and there is much detail to digest. Knowing his story, I tended to linger, to enjoy the Tudor milieu, to delay the inevitable void. No more will there be a volume to look forward to. I might have to start again at the beginning and re-read the three of them.

It is long at 875 pages, but it is a pleasure to read, full of very readable detail about clothes, food, court etiquette etc. Mantel’s prose soars on the page, transporting you to Cromwell’s urban childhood in Putney; to the spring gardens of the great houses; to the bloody work of the butchers that provide the vast quantities of game, beef, lamb and pork to the great house tables; to the political machinations of the great families, and to the dreams and fancies of Princess/Lady Mary who was raised and lowered by their father with every passing marriage. Elizabeth, her half-sister was so much younger that she does not figure as much in the story, although equally affected by the succession uncertainties. If Cromwell was an intelligent, hardworking man able to conceptualise and keep track of all the economic, religious and political activity in the kingdom, he is surely matched by his creator in fiction. She illuminates her subject in every chapter.

Henry gives Cromwell a vacant position in the Order of the Garter, the highest award for the nobility to aspire to, some of whom are not impressed that they must share the honour with a commoner. But it is not politic to grumble at the King’s decisions. New people are appointed as vacancies arise. There are two vacant places but one is being held for the Royal child currently kicking in Queen Jane’s womb. On the night before he is invested with the Order, Cromwell goes to bed early…

He needs a space in which he can watch the future shaping itself, as dusk steals over the river and the park, smudges the forms of ancient trees: there are nightingales in the copses, but we will not hear them again this year. Tomorrow, all eyes will turn, not to the Garter stall he fills, but to the vacancy, where a prince as yet unborn reaches for the statute book, and bows his blind head in its caul. Why does the future feel so much like the past, the uncanny clammy touch of it, the rustle of bridal sheet or shroud, the crackle of fire in a shuttered room? Like breath misting glass, like the nightingale’s trace on the air, like a wreath of incense, like vapour, like water, like scampering feet and laughter in the dark….furiously he wills himself to sleep. But he is tired of trying to wake up different. In stories there are folk who, observed at dawn or dusk in some open, watery space, are seen to flit and twist in the air like spirits, or fledge leather wings through their flesh. Yet he is no such wizard. He is not a snake who can slip his skin. He is what the mirror makes, when it assembles him each day: Jolly Tom from Putney. Unless you have a better idea?      -- pp 504-5

If you want an impartial consideration of this book you will have to seek that elsewhere. I love the period, I love English history (it is my heritage) and I love this book. It’s not for everyone, but it is definitely for me. I hope it is for you, too!

For further reading, other worthy historical novelists dealing with the period include Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.

-- Wendy

June 03, 2020

Stop! Grammar time.

This resource can be found here. It is part of our online nonfiction collection of items that you have free access to with a library card. All you have to do is scroll down to the bottom of this page, and log in.

This first 'Grammar time' is going to look at something that can confuse anybody. Homonyms and homophones ... big words that mean big, fun things.

Homonyms are words that are spelled the same and sound the same, but have different meanings. As you can see from the cover of this book, the word 'bear' is both spelled exactly the same and sounds the same when you say it, but it has two different meanings. 

So, in the title of this book:

Bear means the animal and
Bear means how much one person can handle

So that is what a homonym is! 

Homophones are words that sound the same, but are both spelled differently and mean different things. Again, the example on the cover uses the words 'bare' and 'bear' to show this. These words are spelled differently and mean different things, but sound the same. 


Bare is b, a, r, e and means to wear no clothes (like in the cover image) and
Bear is b, e, a, r and means the animal 

You might not be interested in understading the names of these kinds of words; but knowing the difference is important when you are writing documents or even learning to read and write. 

The good thing about our eResource collection, is that this book by Cleary and Gable is written in a fun way that gives readers a lot of examples of both homonyms and homophones. The illustrations are fun too! It is also written for younger audiences, so it won't take long. 

Have a look at the book; or try and find other homonyms and homophones to play around with! 

Words are fun! Get it right when you write, and one by one, you'll have won at 'Grammar time'!

May 26, 2020

Stuart Turton's "Seven deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle"

This book can be found here.

Turton’s novel is his debut. It won the First Novel Award at the 2018 Costa Book Awards and is a Sunday Times bestseller; so head’s up, it won’t be bad. As an aside, before I get into the book, in the United States it is known as ‘7 ½ deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’. Whether that gives anything away or not to you; I don’t know.

‘We have work to do,' he says. 'I have a puzzle which requires a solution.'
'I think you've mistaken me for someone else,' I say. 'I'm just a doctor.'
'You were a doctor,' he says. 'Then a butler, today a playboy, tomorrow a banker. None of them are your real face, or your real personality. Those were stripped from you when you entered Blackheath and they won't be returned until you leave.' 

Great quote, right? That’s why I used it. And it will draw you in to the story you are going to want to read.

The story is about a character called Aiden who has been told he needs to solve a murder at Blackheath House. As simple as any crime novel? Except that at the end of each day, the day repeats and Aiden finds himself in another guest at Blackheath House, with what clues he has remembered. That is correct. He inhabits the bodies of guests at Blackheath House to solve a murder.

As far as the plot goes, it can be disorientating, but it is very solid. There is an historical setting to the novel, which is interesting given the way the main character Aiden moves through the novel (science-fiction-like, if you will). However, it is well-paced, and it isn’t drenched in description. In fact, the plot is much denser than the description, which helps the pace. This therefore makes it more complex than an Agatha Christie novel, though the same “whodunnit” theme can be found across. But it is a nice step up from Christie if you are used to reading her.

In terms of character … because of how Aiden works, and so I do not give too much away, I cannot say much about Aiden himself. However, all the characters at Blackheath are well-developed, different from each other and sordid. Surely that’s a Christie word, right? Most characters have dark secrets and character traits that make them unlikeable; so, it also makes it hard (at least for me) to really tell who did commit the crime until the end. Yet it also adds depth to the characters, the setting and the plot, as all these characters appear multi-layered.

This book was a very solid first novel; and reads like it isn’t. There is crime, action, deception, science fiction elements, mystery … it’s almost an all-rounder, making it a good suggestion for any reader.

Links for you:

Title read-a-likes in the Library:

Kate Atkinson

This novel has an historical setting, is structurally complex and has a main protagonist who lives days over and over again. It is more humourous than Turton’s and removes the mystery / crime element from it.  

Author read-a-likes in the Library:

Tends to write in a similar style with stylistically complex writing, intricate plots and a creepy tone. A lot of the items in the list (there is a trilogy there) have historical settings; and others are more suspenseful.

Author read-a-likes in cloudLibrary:

Paula Hawkins

Hawkins tends to write in a similar style with stylistically complex writing, intricate plots and a creepy tone.

Sophie Hannah

These were chosen as Hannah was commissioned to write new Poirot novels in the vein of Christie (she also writes her own suspense / thrillers). These will be typical “whodunnits” with the crime and mystery elements similar; though possibly less suspenseful, yet with historical elements and intricate plots. 

May 20, 2020

Bridget Collins’ “The binding”

This book can be found here.

“Memories,’ she said, at last. ‘Not people, Emmett. We take memories and bind them. Whatever people can’t bear to remember. Whatever they can’t live with. We take those memories and put them where they can’t do any harm. That’s all books are.”

This book is set in maybe an 19th - early 20th Century-style lifestyle (don’t ask me specifically which one, I still might be wrong with that broad a guess). So, there is no technology, but there is a sense of industrialisation in parts. A concept of progress, whilst Collins, like Dickens, shows the limitations to the idea of progress. But this setting also, besides the gloominess of the future of people, also helps understand why the characters themselves might be more desperate, more closed, more … lacking hope as well.

I think the setting is solid (though not close to Dickens at all), though the realism comes more from the characters and their responses to situations and ideas. Whilst the characters aren’t completely lost in their hopelessness or so desperate as to be pathetic (in some cases, not all), there is a realism that helps you see how hard it would be to live in this society. And this is where the plot comes in.

Emmett Farmer (yes, his last name reflects his and his family’s occupation) is an ill, weak boy who after a nasty turn is given to a book binder Seredith, to learn the trade and hopefully recover. ‘Book binding’ I hear you say? Yeah, this is where the fantastical element of the plot fits in. Binding is taking memories that are unwanted by someone (they must agree to the binding) and turning those memories into a book that should be stored and secured, unless the living person wants to remember again at some point. I could say a lot more about the binding process, but it might spoil the novel. The main part being the fact that one of the Binder’s customers, Lucian Darnay seems linked to Emmett in some way … dum dum dah.

This, for the first part of the novel is not completely understood and adds mystery to the novel. However, the second part (it is divided into three), explains it all, and the third therefore reveals the conclusion of the consequences of such bindings. So, whilst the core of the novel seems to move around traditions and memory, there is also love (biggest spoiler of the novel, unless you can pick it early on once you start reading).

The thing is I think the plot moves slowly. It takes a long time to build up, and in a sense never really does ultimately climax. It also ends too openly, and almost too positively, for the period this world and characters live in. Probably not bad for a reader, but it removes the realism slightly.

The characters are well built. They are realistic; more so than the plot. They aren’t just “nice” or “good” or “kind”. The characters are completely flawed in multiple ways and … dark. They can just be downright awful. This is not just main characters, but secondary ones as well. You will have no real hope in humanity from this book (again possibly like some of Dickens’ characters); even if you think the end is uplifting. And whilst I think this is what Collins has done to balance the novel in a world where there are such things as forbidden love, it could be hard to read for some.

And where does that leave me? In a bind … ha ha. I really enjoy realistic novels, where there is a lot of grit and darkness. The characters were real enough for me; which was positive. However, the book is slow; so, it will take a while for any reader to get into. The fantastical elements of binding were also very solid and unique. However, if you don’t like characters being overly secretive, dark or gritty, don’t bother. Just look at the pretty cover.

Links for you:

Title read-a-likes in the library:

Alix E. Harrow

Harrow was chosen for its 19th and early 20th Century’s focus, and the lyrical way Harrow writes. The story also focusses on young protagonists seeking answers to their pasts through magical libraries (of sorts).

Title read-a-likes in cloudLibrary:

Erin Morgenstern

Morgenstern was chosen because of the multiple perspectives telling the story which features LGBTQIA diverse characters. There is also a connection to the theme of “books about books”.

May 18, 2020

Staff pick: Rachel Clarke's "Dear life"

You can find this book here.

I just finished this wonderful book.

Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor working in NHS in England. The book describes how she came to that specialty and what she has learnt from her patients, their families and her colleagues. Her father, a GP, gets cancer and eventually is in need of palliative care himself. I would love to have her as my doctor if the need arose.

I smiled & wept throughout this book which brought me back to some difficult memories but ultimately it was life affirming. 

The last line from Philip Larkin's poem 'An Arundel Tomb' is quoted towards the end.....

"What will survive of us is love."

-- Wendy

May 13, 2020

How to ... cloudLibrary!

Just a quick post for all you out there who might want a little help with cloudLibrary.

  • The first tip is to make sure that if you use cloudLibrary on multiple devices (laptop, tablet, phone, etc.) that you always log in the same way. What this means is that if the first time you created your account you typed in C111111D, then you always need to remember to add the C and D when logging in the next time. 

  • We also have a lot of videos on the website here that might help you if you get stuck with anything technically. Try them out!

  • You are able to borrow, put items on hold (or reserve) and renew items just like if you were with us in person! The limit for borrowing is generally three (3) items at a time and the length of borrowing is three (3) weeks.

  • Items can automatically return themselves ... there are no overdue fines! However, that means if it has disappeared from your account that you will need to re-borrow it if you haven't finished that lengthy tome. 

May 06, 2020

Jay Kristoff’s “Lifel1k3”

This book can be found here.

‘Lifel1k3’ (or 'Lifelike') is the first in Kristoff's new young adult, dystopian series. As a note, I think the genre really works and the level of writing that Kristoff offers makes this dystopic future believable and realistic. It is gritty and dark and the language that is littered through is stunning, true cert. Though he did describe Ezekiel’s eyes the same way almost every time I was reading about Evie looking into them. You might get bored of that.

The novel centres on a character called Eve who when fighting a machina in WarDome is found to be able to fry electrics. From this moment on she is hunted by multiple factions, including the Brotherhood (the religious order of the day who want to kill her for being impure) and Daedalus (a large corporation of two that controls society so that their way of life and business may continue). Amidst trying to deal with all of this, Eve is confronted by an android called Ezekiel, who challenges everything she has grown up knowing whilst trying to help her save her captured grandfather.

I found the characters very solid and believable. I think Eve was well-done and I think the secondary characters were fun and strong enough to hold their own in the novel. The secondary characters are also given a stronger focus in the second novel; so if you really enjoy them, persevere and read the series!

It is fast and furious (and vehicles do play a nice part); and I also like the dire vision of the future that is played throughout. Kristoff also writes with great depth and has some solid moments of humour.

This is suited for a young adult audience, but if you don’t like gore or swearing, then don’t read it. If you like a mix of grit, humour and solid battle scenes, then read this book!

Links for you:

Jay Kristoff in the library:

Stormdancer ; Lotus wars 1

Kristoff in cloudLibrary:

Aurora rising ; Aurora Cycle 1

Nevernight ; Nevernight Chronicle 1

Author read-a-likes in the library:

Red Queen ; Red Queen series 1
Victoria Aveyard

Aveyard was chosen because she writes strong rebellious characters and teenage relationships . The work is also dystopic.

Ninth house ; Alex Stern 1
Leigh Bardugo

Bardugo was chosen for the author’s world-building detail and creating characters that are flawed.

Havenfall ; Havenfall 1
Sara Holland

Holland was chosen for her detailed world-building and strong female characters.

Author read-a-likes in cloudLibrary:

Throne of glass ; Throne of glass 1
Sarah J Maas

House of earth and blood ; Crescent city 1
Sarah J Maas

Sarah J Maas has been chosen not just because of the genre connection; but because of how the author world-builds: detailed and descriptive.