August 26, 2020

Samanta Schweblin's "Little eyes"

You can find this book here.

'Little eyes' was this year shortlisted for the International Booker Prize. Her previous novel 'Fever dream', was the same in 2017. With two shortlists under her belt, this book is worth a look.

The plot of this book is about the movement of kentukis across the world. Kentukis are small machines that are dressed as animals (from rabbits to dragons) owned by "keepers", that are controlled by "dwellers". I hear you say I am moving too fast for you. A keeper is a person who owns a kentuki, treating it anywhere from a toy, to a pet, to a member of their family. A dweller is someone who controls the kentuki from a computer screen, watching the life of the keeper on the other side of the world from their office space or bedroom.

The book therefore looks at how connected we are in this way; and how disconnected we may just be or become through the use of such technologies.

'Little eyes' is told from a variety of voices, though some have more focus than others; such as Alina and Emelia. These voices are diverse, culturally and through their individuality. If; however, you do not like jumping across perspectives, this book may become a little overwhelming. yet the voices and behaviours of these different characters show the varied emotional connections made through technology and with it. It, at times, created a sense of unease with some of these perspectives that gives the book a thrilling edge to it.

in terms of depth, I do think this novel focusses on the impact of technology such as this with and between humans more than character development. I did not find a lot of depth to characters and readers may not relate as well; however, because the themes are strong they carry the text to its end well.

Links for you:

Read-a-likes in the Library:

Mathangi Subramanian

This book was chosen for its culturally diverse perspectives and issue-oriented focus. However, the issue is not technology-based, it will make readers think and offers multiple perspectives like Schweblin's novel. 

Angela Chadwick

This book was chosen as it is issue-oriented and thought-provoking. Whilst the issue is not as subtly written in this novel as Schweblin's, as LGBTQIA fiction it offers a different perspective.

Nick Clark Windo

This book was chosen for being issue-oriented in regards to technology and its global impacts.

August 20, 2020

Staff pick: Matthew Reilly's "Ice station"

This book can be found here.

This book is action-packed, fast-paced and an all-out knock-out boy’s fight. I loved it.

This is the story of a well-trained group of US men sent to secure a classified item in Antarctica. Intrigue, fighting and natural hazards made for some unexpected twists and complications. This book was funny and eventful, making it exciting to read and talk about. I would relate it to watching a superhero movie with some of the sequences pulled off; however, the twists in this book are possible because nature is unpredictable.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read military themed novels, who enjoys twists, exciting fight sequences and humorous characters.

-- K

It is also book one (1) in Reilly's Scarecrow series; but it is not necessary to read them in order.

August 19, 2020

Lang Leav's "Poemsia"

You can find this book here.

Leav's book is a young adult novel that encourages readers to see the passion of poetry. Whilst there are none of Leav's poems within this story, at times she writes with poetic descriptions from her protagonist to show her craft.

Verity Wolf is nineteen and obsessed with poets, like Mena Rhodes, and poetry (reading and writing it). With the help of her best friend Jess and an Instagram post that highlighted a favourite poem from an old book called Poemsia, Verity is thrown into a social media frenzy where poets like her can become famous in an instant.

I would argue this is a fairly standard young adult novel: friendship, love, betrayal ... elements that make a teenager's life exciting and overwhelming. However, the protagonist is fresh. Verity is not modelesque, and she may not even be girl-next-door; which makes her unique. The backdrop of books, literature and poetry also brings something fresh to the table as this would be an element seen as possibly outdated to some readers.

In saying that, the book is also very focussed on social media presences, behaviours and attitudes. The book has Twitter feeds, for example, as part of its writing style. This, as well as the writing, make it a fast-paced read and easy to get through.

Even if poetry is not your style, the universal themes within this book are great for hooking youth readers.

Links for you:

Leav in the Library:

Be aware this is a book of her poetry.

Read-a-likes in the Library:

#Find the girl
Lucy and Lydia Connell

Permanent record
Mary H. K. Choi

These books were picked as coming-of-age stories where the main character needs to find some form of identity amidst dealing with relationships (familial, friend and romantic) and social media.

August 12, 2020

Stop! Grammar time.

Grammar and usage. (2011). Irvine: Saddleback Educational Publishing, 8. Retrieved from

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.

Remember that sentence work we started here? Well, we are going to break it down even more. A sentence is a full thought that contains the 'who' and 'what they did'. Sentences do this by dividing into a subject and a predicate.

Let’s start with subject. The subject in a sentence is a noun that names a person, place or thing. A noun can be a name like Bob; a word that defines an animal or object like cat, dingo or chair; a place like Blue Mountains, Hollywood or forest; a feeling like fear, happiness or anger; a quality like laughter, plumpness or strength; or even something more abstract like biology, holiday or friendship (abstract because these aren’t tangible [able to touch and see them] nouns).

That is so many different types and examples!

It can be very confusing understanding even that little list; so we will go into more detail of nouns in another post; but for now, this list is a good example for working through sentences.

The predicate in a sentence tells a reader what the subject (noun) does or is. This means a predicate is a verb. Before I give you examples of predicates: there are two kinds. There are the action verbs (also known as doing words) that show action; and there are linking verbs that show “what is or seems to be”. When thinking about these two types of verbs; action verbs are much more recognisable: running, flew, ducked, steaming. Linking verbs are harder to spot: is, are, seems, appears, was, must, should.

So, let’s have a look at some examples and hopefully clear this up even more.

The boy jumped.

Boy is the subject because it relates to a person and jumped is the verb because the person is doing something; e.g. jumping.

The cat sat on the mat.

This is a sentence everyone hears about. In this short sentence the subject, or noun, is cat. Sat is the verb because the cat has done something; it has performed an action. Mat is also a noun, but because it follows the verb (remember verbs are doing words) and so is receiving action, not doing or completing an action, it becomes an object within the sentence.

The chair is in the kitchen.

In this short sentence the subject, or noun, is chair. Is, is the linking verb because it does not show an action; instead it links the subject with the object, which is kitchen.

And so that is sentences; at least short ones. Easy? We use them everyday; but maybe breaking it down shows how complex they can be so we can build on them and create new ones.

August 10, 2020

Staff pick: Philippa Gregory's "White princess"

This book can be found here.

I found this book to be detailed, compelling, thought-provoking and shocking. 

It is an historical romance, with so much detail given to the time period and the political and economical struggles at the time that I had to rethink what I knew of the English Monarch during the Tudor reign. The story is told from the female protagonist’s point of view and it sheds light on the royal family and the struggles of a person perceived as lesser or of little value other than to bear a male heir. The woman in this story is a unique and untold hero who faces real villainy.

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves historical novels, a strong female protagonist; stories revolving around historical Royalty; or, who is interested in learning an in-depth account of a story already told a thousand times before.

-- K

Here are other formats you can borrow of Gregory's book (including a television series).

It is also book five (5) in Gregory's Cousin's war series; but it is not necessary to read them in order.

August 07, 2020

Staff pick: Rachel Aust's "Less"

This book can be found here.

This book is about minimalising and simplifying things in your life and focus on what is really important, which we all could do with a bit of help along the way. It covers: the mind; the home; essential items; your wardrobe; the pantry; home furnishings, and staying minimal long-term.

Even the book's design is to appear clutter free: its A5 size and it's light to hold. Even the wording on the pages and graphics are  simply set out, bit of a go to pocket bible. here is an example below:

I absolutely loved reading this book!!

-- Lillian

August 05, 2020

Alvydas Ŝlepikas' "In the shadow of wolves"

This book is originally titled ‘Mano vardas – Marytė’. The translated book can be found here.

Ŝlepikas has written what I would deem a short novel; but definitely not sweet. Before that puts you off, this book was also a Times Book of the Year for 2019, so even if it isn’t gentle, it may be a book to read.

If you do not know this Lithuanian author, he apparently is multi-talented: writing and directing for films; a poet; and a playwright. In this book, he has written an historical work that has been influenced by a couple of ‘wolf children’ themselves who wanted the world to know what it was like for them in post-war Prussia after World War II.

‘In the shadow of wolves’ follows the Schukat family and their lives in Prussia after World War II. It does not follow all their lives equally, and for most of the novel, it focusses on Renate. However, it looks at post-war conditions, issues with World War II, how children feel and survive during these times and what it is like for ‘wolf children’.

As an historical note, and for some background; ‘wolf children’ are children who have found themselves alone in east Prussia and have had to do many things in order to survive. Outside of this novel, if you would like an historical article for reference, you can visit National Geographic’s article here.

The plot may sound very singular, but the focus is on the gritty reality of trying to survive. In fact, it appears this is the most important part of the writing in order to help readers come to know the truth of what post-war situations can be like for children: a part of history that might not be well known by many. If you are looking for in-depth character creation or emotional tugs towards one human protagonist or another, you probably won’t find that here.

Ŝlepikas does not shy away on details of what can happen to humans and humanity during times like those. It is gritty, raw and very, very real. However, it is an important story to tell. As the writer has gone to great lengths to find stories to incorporate into the novel, it also makes it more authentic. If this is too difficult, particularly where it comes to children, probably skip this book.

But people should be aware of such histories.

Links for you:

Usually I do Readers’ Advisory here; however, Ŝlepikas has no other works in our library and there is not, as far as I can find, any nonfiction specifically on the wolf children. So, I have created a list of fiction and, mostly, nonfiction information and biographies that relate to children and their family’s experiences during World War II or afterwards.


Bryan Malessa


Anonymous Members of the Kovno Jewish Ghetto Police

Kazimierz Sakowicz and Yitzhak Arad

Julija Šukys

Annette Janic

Wilbur and Charlotte

This image comes from Camden Library and its creative staff!

In times such as these friendship (with correct social distancing), is important for maintaining our emotional and mental health. Connecting via online options isn't as great as meeting people face-to-face like Charlotte and Wilbur were able to do; but connections are important to maintain anyway we can. 

Hopefully all of you are still maintaining relationships with family and friends and talking through anything that may still be overwhelming as restrictions tighten and ease across Australia (depending on where you are). 

Wilbur had Charlotte to talk through his worries about being fattened up and eaten (different kinds of problems, I suppose). But with the help of his friend; it all worked out (if you haven't seen the film or read the book, I won't spoil too much of the ending). 

If you haven't read this book or seen the film, you can find a list of the available items here. This list also offers a book on the story of the writer E. B. White. 

Happy reading ... and tell your friends and family about the reading experience, amongst the other important conversations we are all having 😀

August 04, 2020

Thubten Chodron's "Awaken everyday: 365 Buddhist reflections to invite mindfulness and joy"

You can find this book here.

A book to highlight compassion, wisdom, mindfulness and joy could not have come at a better time for me. Living in times like these, reaching for supports of any kind will often include finding a great read. I found just this in Chodron’s book from the shelves at Oran Park Library. 

This is a nonfiction title you can dip in and out of, read page to page or open randomly and absorb the positivity. I have enjoyed many moments of peace and inspiration at any time of the day. Wise words and reflections that are touching make this a must read if moments of serenity is what you are craving. Some of my favourite snippets so far include; “Happiness is for everyone”, “Two ears, one mouth” and “Pure generosity”. Look out for this one soon.  

-- KW