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March 20, 2017

Book Review - 'The One Plus One' By Jojo Moyes


Jess has it tough—two jobs, an estranged husband who doesn’t contribute any child support, a stepson who gets bullied, a gifted daughter who due to financial difficulties cannot get a top education, and a guard dog that sleeps more than guards.
Ed is a successful man living in the city, recently divorced but the owner of two homes and two cars and eats out every night. After a bad business decision Ed is investigated for insider trading. To hang low while his case is sorted he retreats to his seaside home where he meets Jess – his cleaner.


 
From here Jess and Ed’s lives are thrown together out of necessity—necessary because Jess needs to get her daughter to a maths Olympiad in order to win the prize money to get her through private school, and necessary because Ed has realised how bad loneliness is, and is also in need to redeem himself from his own conscious. 
The book starts out as a dysfunctional family drama and slowly ebbs into romance a little bit before the half way point. It’s not soppy romance either, but the kind that seems natural and not forced.
Available in print or audiobook and eAudio

March 13, 2017

Book Review - 'Walks, Tracks and Trails of New South Wales' By Derrick Stone

This book provides a thorough listing of 140 of the best walks, tracks and trails in New South Wales, located in national parks, coastal parks, state forests, historic parks, conservation lands, and local government areas.


You don’t need to be an experienced hiker, the walks listed in this book are ideal for the moderately fit individual. 

Available in print or eBook

 

March 06, 2017

Movie Club - Happy-Go-Lucky


This month the Movie Club will be screening 'Happy-Go-Lucky'. Written and directed by Mike Leigh, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’ is a character-driven film that follows the protagonist, Poppy, as she experiences some ups and downs in her life. Poppy is a 30-something school teacher living in London. She is optimistic, chirpy and happy all of the time, it is not a superficial act, it is just who Poppy is. Poppy lives with her friend and co-worker, Zoe, who acts as a kind of moral compass in a film that combines extreme optimism with extreme pessimism (in the form of Scott). Scott is a narcissistic driving instructor whom Poppy seeks out for driving lessons.
The film relies on a series of events that slowly reveal the characters of Poppy and Scott. There is no major dramatic plot or action sequence, rather we meander through the everyday life of Poppy: as she goes to work and deals with a problematic student, as she converses with a homeless man, as she takes salsa classes, as she visits her younger sister Helen, as she takes driving lessons with Scott. It is through these sequential shots of Poppy’s life that we build-up a knowledge base that reveals layers of Poppy’s character. Dramatic tension is maintained throughout by the relationship between Poppy and Scott.
 
The film is interesting not only for its character study of Poppy, but also its depiction of gender and stereotypes. Most of the characters in the film are female, except for Scott and Tim. Tim is only a minor character, and Scott is presented as aggressive, impulsive and an unlikeable male. The lead character here is Poppy, the film is Poppy’s film, and there is no male counter-part that she ever needs to rely upon. To add to this, Poppy defies the norms of female happiness; rather than gaining a sense of meaning from a man, children or family, Poppy sources fulfilment from things such as work, flamenco dance classes, trampolining, and friends.
Nominated for an Academy Award, the film is funny and light, yet full of wise lessons and deep emotion.

'Happy-Go-Lucky' will be showing on Wednesday 8 March, 6pm at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film.

 

February 27, 2017

Book Review - 'Turkish flavours: recipes from a seaside café' By Sevtap Yuce


Written by Turkish chef, Sevtap Yuce, who grew up in Turkey and now lives and owns a restaurant in Australia, 'Turkish Flavours: recipes from a seaside café' consists of classic Turkish dishes with an inspired modern feel.



The book is organised into chapters according to dish type, and include chapters on Mezze and salads. The recipes are easy to read and simple to follow. The book also contains beautiful images of food that will make you want to start cooking right away.

You will find traditional dishes such as koftes, menemen and dolmades as well as yummy sweets such as baklava and yoghurt and olive oil cake. This is for anyone interested in Turkish cooking, or simply tasty food.

February 20, 2017

Book Review - 'The Lake' By Banana Yoshimoto


A novel of tender love and slow, unfurling mystery, Japanese author Banana Yoshimoto folds readers into the lives of Chihiro and Nakajima.
The Lake is narrated by Chihiro, a painter who was born out of wedlock and raised by her unorthodox parents in a small country town. When her mother dies, Chihiro moves to the city. It is here that she meets Nakajima, her neighbour.  The novel courses the two as they fall in love, however Nakajima hides a secret—a secret that Chihiro needs to know if they want to continue their relationship.
 
 

Yoshimoto’s characters are vivid and nuanced, and the prose is strong in its observant nature, for instance, “Of course, it’s true that sometimes the pink at sunrise somehow seems brighter than the pink at sunset, and that when you’re feeling down the landscape seems darker too – you see things through the filter of your own sensibility. But the things themselves, out there, they don’t change.”
For a relatively short novel there is a great sense of emotional depth at play here.