September 23, 2020

Staff pick: Miranda Tapsell's "Top End girl"


You can find this book here.

I don’t often read autobiographies; I am not much of a nonfiction reader at all to be honest. The good thing about looking at books for a library; however? Reading outside your likes and comfort zones. It is about opening up to different narratives and points of view that you might not find by reading that same genre you read every other day.

Autobiographies are very different for me because they are about specific lives and specific points of view other than my own. These can be confronting, comforting, or a celebration, but either way it can be emotional. And it should be because it is the story of someone’s life, or part of their life depending on which autobiography you read.

Tapsells’ heart is in this book as she talks about some of the most impacting moments of her life, particularly her career and making the film Top End Wedding.

Tapsell is a straight-forward writer, and I imagine a straight-forward talker too. She is bold in speaking up about what she believes in and what she is passionate about and is very self-confident: evident through her stories about her childhood.

A very important message in Tapsell’s story is about her connection to country as a proud Larrakia and Tiwi woman. Tapsell brings up the pride and love she has for her culture and family; as well as the importance for non-Indigenous people to learn of and understand the issues and inequality facing First Nations people.

This is particularly true of Australia. Everyone should know, or learn, about not just the effects of colonisation on Indigenous people; but the invisibility of people of colour that continues today through how history is told, or even how health care and custodies work. The land is more than a way for governments to make a profit; and people are more than the stereotypes or covert racism that pervades everyday language.

Tapsell never says she speaks for all First nations people: she speaks for herself. It is a strong voice that shows clearly how much she has worked in her life, enjoyed life and celebrated everything she has and works towards. This book is one to read, because it helps show anyone how important it is to not just be aware of, but love and embrace community and culture.


And if you are interested, you can borrow "Top End Wedding" here at the library!

September 16, 2020

Dean Koontz' "Devoted"

You can find this book here.

If you know of Koontz, this writing is like a lot of his others. To be honest, I found it a little gorier or adult than other books he has written, but you might have a different opinion. Or you might think I am right. Maybe we will see in the comments section?

The story itself covers a very short amount of time for a lot of the main characters: Megan Bookman, Woody Bookman and Kipp. In fact, it only spans a couple of days. The novel itself is separated into parts that show the time frames, even though a lot happens throughout the novel across this short amount a time. This means that even if there is a lot of content, the story moves rather quickly.

As far as plot goes: Megan Bookman’s husband died, leaving her alone with her autistic son who does not speak. They are trying to live their lives in safety, even though Woody believes that his father’s death was no accident, but in fact murder. Through looking for the people responsible for his father’s death, Woody and his mother’s lives become threatened by the same people. If this were not enough, there is also something else out there, something “becoming”, intent on Megan Bookman.

I also hear you say, “Where is Kipp in this plot?” Well, Kipp is there, as important as Megan and her son. But I don’t want to give away anything special about Kipp. If you read the novel, you’ll love him as much as I do anyway 😊

The book is a thriller / light horror novel, so I don’t want to give away all the horrors involved. If you have read any of Dean Koontz’ other work, you will see similarities between this and others. For example, the theme of how everything always seems to universally work out in strange ways; as if the way chance or coincidence works is also a character that plays with the motions and choices of actual characters in his books. You will also have a very distinct definition between good and evil characters: these are always well-defined and not much grey exists in-between.

If you like more grit in this type of story; sorry, but this will be missing from ‘Devoted’. However, I have always enjoyed how the world moves in Koontz’ work so I recommend giving this one a shot. It is slightly darker, as I have said, than other novels I have read of his; but nothing that will turn any stomach. Also be aware that some of the writing is repetitive. He does re-explain things you have already learnt a couple of times. This may become frustrating, particularly if you aren’t a fan of Koontz. Or maybe even if you are.

I still think the book is solid Koontz, with elements of his classic writing style in there. If you have never read a novel of his before, maybe don’t start (or end) here; but, it is a light and quick read that will get you through an evening or two.

Other versions of the same novel can be found on our catalogue here.

Links for you:

Koontz in the Library:

A big little life (nonfiction)


Life expectancy

Koontz in cloudLibrary:

Anthologies in the Library:

Koontz has no work in these anthologies. they are both edited by Stephen King (and others), and are short, sharp stories that hold to elements of over-arching themes found in Koontz' work at times.

This is edited by Jonathan Maberry and contains short, sharp stories that hold to elements of over-arching themes found in Koontz' work at times. be aware that some in this anthology will be written as poems.

Author read-a-likes in the Library:

Jonathan Maberry

The library does have other Maberry books. Be aware that the genres may be different between these authors; however, the writing is similar in terms of being fast-paced, action-packed and focusses on the battles between good and evil. Also note that Maberry may be a darker, heavier writer than Koontz.

September 09, 2020

Stop! Grammar time.

Prasoon, S. (2015). English grammar and usage: Read swiftly, speak fluently and write correctly. New Delhi: V & S Publishers, [97]. Retrieved from

In this Grammar Time, I would like to look at passive voice. However; the example from above also mentions transitive verbs. So I think we should start there. 

A transitive verb is a verb that takes or demands an object be given to a subject (person or thing). When you look at the sentence that contains transitive verbs, the object (another noun in a sentence, but one that has actions done to it, not like subjects discussed in an earlier post where they cause the action) comes directly after the verb:

Sally kicked Sam.

The dog barked at me.

Terry eats ice cream every day.

Laverne wants Shirley, but Shirley doesn't notice her.

In the above examples, the words in purple are the transitive verbs. The words in red are the objects directly affected by the verb: the verb is demanding or transferring what it does to an object (person or thing).

Everyone still on board? 

Now, passive voice. This is something you might have seen working in any kind of electronic document. The squiggly line underlines your sentence and says 'passive voice', and never quite offers up how to fix it. Or even if you should fix it (I'll get to that later).

What is passive voice? Passive voice is when you kind of turn your sentence around so that the object in your sentence becomes the subject. If you would like examples, visit this link here. Your Dictionary also have an option to look at a very solid PDF of examples and definitions of passive and active voice on this page (active being the way we learnt our basic sentence structures previously).

Is the passive voice a little clearer? 

We all do this in every day language and in our writing. It also doesn't mean, that just because squiggly lines are there, that the sentence is incorrect or shouldn't be used:

Booher, D. (2013). Write to the point. United States: Dianna Booher, [24]. Retrieved from

In this resource, changing sentences so that some are passive are good for variations in your writing. It is not recommended for essays or academic writing; but letters, emails, creative writing, passive voice can work well here.

So do not always be disheartened when you see this popping up in what you are doing. It doesn't make it incorrect. It is just a different way to write a sentence that can help vary pace or add variety to the paragraph.

September 02, 2020

Marlon James' "Black leopard, red wolf"

You can find this book here.

James' book is epic in nature: in length and scope of the book, which by the way is the first in a trilogy, known as the Dark Star Trilogy.

In the first of this series, Tracker is hired as a mercenary to find a missing boy. the reason for this is because "he has a nose" for tracking anyone down. The book's perspective is all Tracker's and as it progresses it shows how whilst he is used to working alone, he teams up with a band of people with different abilities and secrets to find the boy. One of these is a shape-shifter who turns into a black leopard, mentioned in the book's title.

So, when I say this book is epic, I mean it. It draws from African history and mythology and James' own imagination to create a layered novel that looks at themes of power, ambition and truth. I think truth is very important in this novel, particularly as you only gain one character's perspective throughout. However, the trilogy itself will focus on different characters in each of the other two books to look at the same events in different ways; really bringing a look at what truth is to people, or at least these characters. 

Not only this, but the writing style is not linear and there is always a lot going on that may be hard to follow. I found that it took awhile for me to understand this flow; but once I did, it was a really strong read. You just have to make it through the first thirty pages or so. The language is very strong and it is a very gritty and descriptive book, also something to be aware of. This book is definitely not for the faint of heart. but if you are looking for a strongly written, gender-bending, fantastical epic, this book should be a go-to.

The settings and characters are well described; incredibly diverse in their abilities, personalities and cultures; and once you get past the jumping through non-linear storylines, you feel very enmeshed in the story, the characters and their fates. 

I hope you make it through the beginning of this novel, because it is a great read once you adapt to the prose.

Links for you:

Read-a-likes in the Library:

Who fears death
Nnedi Okorafor

The novel is set in an African-inspired setting where outcasts with powers go on a dangerous and violent quest. The difference is this novel is more futuristic, whereas James' is timeless.

Fifth season
N. K. Jemisin

Jemisin's book is lyrical with strong world-building. It is also Afrofantasy and has a large cast of complex characters. it is also the first in a series, though it is more apocalyptic than James'.

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.