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Until You're Mine

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Until You’re Mine by Samantha Hayes
Narrated by Clare Corbett

You're alone. You're vulnerable. And you have something that someone else wants. At any cost...
Claudia seems to have the perfect life.  She's heavily pregnant with a much-wanted baby, she has a loving husband, and a beautiful home.  And then Zoe steps into her life. Zoe has come to help Claudia when her baby arrives.  But there's something about Zoe that Claudia doesn't like. Or trust.
And when she finds Zoe in her bedroom, Claudia's anxiety turns to real fear.

Set in the UK, this story has all the hallmarks of the classic psychological suspense novel.  Apart from some gory crime scenes, it seems quite benign on the surface but there’s that swirling tummy-tensing undercurrent where you can feel that something is not quite right and you just can’t put your finger on it.  And when you do, whammo!  It was a good story well narrated by Clare Corbett but definitely not recommended for women who are currently pregnant – choose something else until Junior has at least started walking!  

Vale Doris Lessing

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Novelist Doris Lessing, who tackled race, ideology, and gender politics throughout her long writing career, died peacefully at home in London at the age of 94.  Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2007 as well other notable awards include Somerset Maugham Award - 1954, James Tait Black Memorial Prize - 1995 and the Premio Principe de Asturias - 2001.   

Her 1962 novel The Golden Notebook has been praised as a feminist bible, although she herself rejected the label.  Lessing produced more than 60 works including short stories, poetry and operas.

All quiet on the Western Front

Reading Rewards - reviews -

We all remember those books that we had to read in high school English classes. A lot of them were terrible, but occasionally one of those books would make an impact and in Year 12, that was me and this was the book.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque was one of our prescribed texts for English, in my then HSC year, whose theme was not surprisingly - war. I had two other fiction titles as part of that theme, but it was this short book (around 180 pages) that left me with the greatest impact.
"Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive."
The first thing that caught me by surprise was reading a story about a front-line war experience, written from the perspective of a soldier from the other side. I had grown up learning about the hardships of war, the losses and the battles, but all from the Allies side. It hadn't crossed my naive 17 year old mind that there are two sides and that the other side might have had it even worse.
The second was the personal nature of the story. This was about a character you can to know and like quickly and you got caught up in his life and dramas. You mourned the loss of his youth as he went to war and you mourned what this loss meant not only in terms of life and injury, but what it would mean to a country and a world whose youth both aged and were lost long before their time.
The book has been translated into film a number of times, with another one due out at the end of 2014, but although I was touched by these visual representations, the book will always be the best telling of this story for me - quite possibly because it was the first, but also because it will always have my interpretation on it, rather than someone else's.
It's not a long book, but it has impact and it will touch you. For all its brevity, its not an easy read, but it is well worth the investment, particularly as we head towards the centenary of the beginning of World War I. 
~ Michelle

Endeavour Hills Library - 1980s

Links to our Past - history -

The Endeavour Hills Library was officially opened on May 31, 1987 by the Mayor of the City of Berwick, Cr Eddie Barron. Here are some photographs of the Library and the Library site from around this time.

This is the site of the Library, next to the Community Centre. The Community Centre opened October 17, 1982. The shopping centre had opened in 1979.

This is the Library site, before construction started.

The day of the opening. All participants received a commemorative bookmark, below.

Above and below, are two early photographs of the Library from 1987/1988. 

The Library was renovated and extended in 2007.

Wolf and Dog by Sylvia Vanden Heede

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Animal

Tell us about it: 'Wolf and Dog' is one of my favourite junior books. Wolf and Dog are cousins. Wolf is wild. His manners are bad. He has fleas. His fur is grey and unkept. Dog, on the other hand, is tame. He has a boss, and sleeps in a basket. He can read. Wolf and Dog have their ups and downs. Sometimes they get along; sometimes not. Wolf, being bossy and tough, generally has the upper hand. See what happens, though, when Wolf and Dog enter Wolf's forest to scare off Wolf's arch-enemy - kitty! Finally dog manages to outwit Wolf but you'll have to read the book to find out how! The illustrations in this book are delightful. My favourite is an illustration of Wolf sitting down to devour his meal. His chair is made up of a couple of bones; his table consists of a tyre over the top of an old toilet. Recommended reading for anyone who loves a good story and who likes to laugh.

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Ann


Links to our Past - history -

These are more slides from the Shire of Pakenham collection which  I have been scanning.  They were taken in 1993, which isn't that long ago, in some ways, but considering the massive change in this area in the past twenty years they document the changes in Beaconsfield from the country town that it was to the suburb that it is becoming today. 

The old township signs that were erected by the Shire of Pakenham.

Princes Highway, Beaconsfield. The town of Beaconsfield was by-passed with the opening of the Berwick by-pass in December 1983.

The Beaconsfield Railway Station July 1993. The railway station was opened on December 1, 1879.

This building was used as an Antiques store in 1993, but as you can see below, was originally Adamson's hardware store. It is located in Woods Street.

Book thief

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I had been meaning to read the Book Thief by Marcus Zusak for quite a while, but the news of the forthcoming movie got me motivated.

And I did need motivation to begin with. At nearly 600 pages it is a daunting prospect. As I started reading, I was wondering what all the fuss was about - turned out it took me a little bit of time to adjust to its unusual perspectives and for the story to warm up.

However, when it did... Wow!

So what is the Book Thief?
It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. Liesel Meminger and her younger brother are being taken by their mother to live with a foster family outside Munich. Liesel's father was taken away on the breath of a single, unfamiliar word - Kommunist - and Liesel sees the fear of a similar fate in her mother's eyes. On the journey, Death visits the young boy, and notices Liesel. It will be the first of many near encounters. By her brother's graveside, Liesel's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Gravedigger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a Jewish fist-fighter in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up, and closed down.

It is not just a war story though.  It is about love, the power of words, second chances and missed opportunities and the strength and passion of a young girl in an horrific period of our history.

The story is narrated from the perspective of Death, who finds Liesel and her life intriguing. It is the Second World War in Germany and Death is forever collecting souls in her part of  the world, so is able to be there for all the significant events in a short period of her life.

This story is inspiring, sad, intriguing, eye-opening and a classic - which although fiction, gives an amazing insight into the history of our world. I highly recommend it to anyone!

I am looking forward to see how they manage to translate it into film, as it will be a challenge (the movie, starring Geoffrey Rush as the foster father, will open in Australian on 9 January 2014). But whether they manage to do it successfully or not, this book will remain with me, as will its amazing characters.

~ Michelle

Thea Stilton and the Mystery in Paris by Thea Stilton

Book Swamp -

Type of story: Adventure

Tell us about it: Join the Thea sisters on an amazing adventure in Paris! In Paris they stay with Collete's cousin, Julie. Julie is preparing for a fashion show but someone has been stealing from them! Join Thea Stilton on an amazing adventure that you will never forget!

How good was it? Fantastic

Review by Naomi, age 10

The Beginners Guide to Living

Quicksand -

:The Beginner's Guide to Living  by Lia Hills 

 The book centres around seventeen year old Will, whose life falls apart after the sudden death of his mother. His father copes as best he can with the grief by going back to work and drinking and his older brother Adam is distant and often absent. Will becomes increasingly isolated and angry as he struggles to find a purpose in his mother's death. He befriends a girl he saw at his mothers funeral and falls in love for the first time. Will must deal with the conflicting emotion of how he can feel so happy and sad at the same time. He begins to document his grief using his mothers camera and embarks on a spiritual journey to find an idea for which he can live and die for. As if this wasn't all enough, he has his final exams looming. It's a moving book about those moments in your life that change you forever. 


Every Breath

Quicksand -

'Every Breath' is Ellie Marney's first novel for young adults.
Teenage Rachel and her family have moved to the city from rural Victoria.
It is a radical lifestyle change for the family and Rachel is finding the move very difficult.
Living in the same street as Rachel is James Mycroft - or simply 'Mycroft' as Rachel refers to him - a rebellious and enigmatic teenager who becomes Rachel's friend.
From the offset there is strong chemistry between the two and on virtually every page there is reference to the sizzling and ongoing tension and sense of anticipation between them.
Mycroft and Rachel's friends are believable and likeable personalities, and their family circumstances ring true to adolescents who are treading a balance between dependence and independence.
Mycroft and Rachel stumble on a murder scene and join forces to try and find out who was responsible.
With Mycroft and Rachel's investigative powers and interest in forensics they are soon hot on the trail of the murder investigation and find themselves in deep danger.
As for Mycroft and Rachel's 'will they won't they' relationship - well, you'll have to read the book to find out what happens.
My lips are sealed!
Recommended fiction for teens - part mystery, part family/friends/relationships.
I look forward to the next novel by Ellie Marney called 'Every Word' where we see the return of Rachel and Mycroft.


Daughters of Fire

Reading Rewards - reviews -

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Narrated by Judith Boyd
Two thousand years ago, as the Romans invade Britannia, the princess Cartimandua who will become the powerful queen of the great tribe of the Brigantes, watches the enemies of her people come ever closer.  Cartimandua's life takes one unexpected turn after another as tragedy changes the course of her future. But the young queen has formidable enemies - among them Venutios, her childhood sparring partner, and Medb, a woman whose jealousy threatens not only her happiness but her life.  In the present day, Edinburgh-based historian, Viv Lloyd Rees, has immersed herself in the legends surrounding the Celtic queen. She has written a book and is working on a dramatisation of the young queen's life with the help of actress, Pat Hebden. Viv's Head of Department, Hugh Graham, hounds her as she struggles to hide her visions of Cartimandua and her conviction that they are real. Her obsession grows ever more persistent and threatening as she takes possession of an ancient brooch that carries a curse. Both Pat and Hugh are drawn into this dual existence of bitter rivalry and overwhelming love as past envelopes present and the trio find themselves facing the greatest danger of their lives.

God this was long.  This novel based on the real Queen was good, but way, way too long.  I Googled Cartimandua and found out that she ruled around the time of the iron age – ca. 45AD.  This period of history I have read about before, and also seen on television documentaries, so I was aware of the large round houses, the forts containing a whole city, Druids, and the bloody battles of the Roman invasion.  The fictionalised parts of the story are handled well, and the narration, involving many accents, was delivered perfectly by Judith Boyd.  It was very absorbing, but, sigh, did I mention how long it was?   Deb

Oral Histories collection launched today!

Links to our Past - history -

We officially launched our Digitised Oral History collection today! The interviews were recorded on cassette tape by Dr Debbie Stephan, the City of Berwick and later City of Casey Historical Officer and by students from Berwick Secondary College  in the late 1980s and early 1990s. These tapes  have been sitting in our Archive since then. Over that time, no-one had an opportunity to listen to them or even knew what a great resource we had, so we thought it was time to digitise the tapes and make them available to the general public.  There are over 50 tapes already digitised with another 30 to go. We haven't edited them at all, just improved the sound quality. They are now available on our website - click on this link www.cclc.vic.gov.au/oralhistories and it will take you straight there.
These oral histories cover a wide range of subjects and time periods. Dr Stephan had interviewed people associated with the formation of the City of Berwick  such as Mr Neil Lucas, the CEO; Mr Ross Currie, City Engineer; Mr Jeff Marjoram, Director of Community Services and Mr Ron Chidgey, Technical Services. We were fortunate that Neil Lucas, Ross Currie and Ron Chidgey could attend the launch - in fact Neil did us the honour of officially launching the collection today. We listened to some of Neil's interview and he talked about the very first City of Berwick Council meeting which was held at 10.00am at the Berwick Inn on October 1, 1973. It was held at the Berwick Inn as that is where the first Berwick Road Board meeting was held.

This photograph was taken after the first meeting of the City of Berwick at the Berwick Inn. The newly elected Mayor, Barry Simon, is at the front, behind the bar. Left to right are David Lee, Jack Thomas, Keith Wishart, Sid Pargeter, Jan Bateman, Jim Alexander, Joan Phillips, Ron Irwin, George Chudleigh, John Byron and Bill Hudson. Our oral history collection also includes interviews with David Lee, Barry Simon and Jan Bateman
The oral histories are not just related to municipal affairs - other people interviewed include - Mr Vivian Campbell, the manager of the Piney Ridge farm which was located where the suburb of Endeavour Hills is today; Mr Ted Allen of Cranbourne who talks about his service in World War Two; Dr Noel Stephenson who talks about the changes to the Berwick Bush Nursing Hospital; Miss Lucy Bailey, of Araluen, whose grand parents came to Narre Warren North in the 1890s and established the first orchard in the area; Mr Doug Smith who talked about Cranbourne when it was a country town and Mrs Queenie Brundrett who talked about Narre Warren North in  the depression.
This is just a snap shot of the broad range of stories, memories and information that you will find in our oral history collection. Many of the people interviewed have now passed on, but a part of them will live on in these oral histories.
You can access the Oral histories from our web page www.cclc.vic.gov.au and there are links in the Local History section or just click here www.cclc.vic.gov.au/oralhistories

Pokemon: Black and White

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Pokemon: Black and White Volume 12 is the latest in the Pokemon Black and White series by Hidenori Kusaka. 

His entire life, Black has dreamed of winning the Pokemon League! Now he embarks on a journey to explore the Unova region and fill a Pokedex for Professor Juniper. White has an exciting career as the Trainer of a talented troupe of performing Pokemon. She dreams of making her Tepig Gigi a star! Together, Black and White continue on their journey...What surprising new Pokemon - and people - will they meet next?!


The House of Hades

Quicksand -

The fourth book in The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan has been released. The House of Hades follows on from The Mark of Athena.

At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy's instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea's forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

Check out this clip of the author Rick Riordan reading from the new book The House of Hades.

The Last Runaway

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
From the cover:  When modest Quaker Honor Bright sails from Bristol with her sister, she is fleeing heartache for a new life in America, far from home. But tragedy leaves her alone and vulnerable, torn between two worlds and dependent on the kindness of strangers. Life in 1850s Ohio is precarious and unsentimental. The sun is too hot, the thunderstorms too violent, the snow too deep. The roads are spattered with mud and spit. The woods are home to skunks and porcupines and raccoons. They also shelter slaves escaping north to freedom. Should Honor hide runaways from the ruthless men who hunt them down? The Quaker community she has joined may oppose slavery in principle, but does it have the courage to help her defy the law? As she struggles to find her place and her voice, Honor must decide what she is willing to risk for her beliefs.

I have not yet read The Girl With a Pearl Earring, but I very much enjoyed Remarkable Creatures and The Virgin Blue, so thought I’d give this a go.  
Slavery and the abolitionist movement in early America is not a subject I know much about.  Ditto the Quakers and quilt-making, so this book dragged a little for me.  However, Chevalier is a deft hand at the writing business and her settings and characters are always a highlight.  An interesting book, some will enjoy it more than others.  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid - Hard Luck

Book Swamp -

The eighth book in The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney is due for release in November so REMEMBER to place your HOLD on the book Hard Luck

Greg Heffley’s on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has ditched him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg’s life destined to be just another hard-luck story?

Check out this great clip as the author, Jeff Kinney tells us about his new book!

Man Booker Prize

Reading Rewards - reviews -

New Zealand author Eleanor Catton has won the 2013 Man Booker prize for English fiction for her novel The Luminaries, becoming the youngest winner in the award's 45-year history.

Chair of judges Robert Macfarlane described the 28-year-old Catton's 848-page second novel set in the New Zealand goldfields of 1866 as dazzling and very, very clever.  "The Luminaries is a magnificent novel: awesome in its structural complexity; addictive in its story-telling and magical in its conjuring of a world of greed and gold," he said.

From our catalogue:  It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On the night of his arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction, which more than fulfils the promise of The Rehearsal. Like that novel, it is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery.

The judges considered 151 novels for the $80,000 prize.  Next year American authors will be allowed to compete for the Man Booker Prize for the first time.

Three Graves Full

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

From the cover:  More than a year ago, mild-mannered Jason Getty killed a man he wished he’d never met. Then he planted the problem a little too close to home. But just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property, neither of which is the one Jason buried. Jason races to stay ahead of the consequences of his crime and while chaos reigns on his lawn, his sanity unravels, snagged on the agendas of a colourful cast of strangers. As the action unfolds, each discovers that knowing more than one side of the story doesn't necessarily rule out a deadly margin of error.
I borrowed the audiobook and liked it ... eventually.  It starts off slowly, almost ho hum slowly, hooks you in around the middle, and sets a cracking pace towards the end.   It’s quirky, a little along the lines of Carl Hiaasen but not as funny.  And as the mayhem ramps up, the only thing, the ONLY thing that is top of mind is … what’s happened to Tessa, the dog!  I enjoyed this book but unfortunately one of my literary bugbears reared its ugly head. 

Back in 2011, I wrote a review of The Dead Path, a ghostly thriller by Stephen M Irwin, in which I said:  “…  although the author has crafted a gripping story, it loses some power by sinking into a huge abyss of similes, ahem, like a submarine with hull damage.  There are “ rain dripped like a …. , a smile like a … , wind blew like a, like a, like a” etc.  Then of course there was “as strong as a ….” and “as tall as, as cold as, as dark as, as wet as ” and on and on they came, in great waves.  Hundreds of them.  Sometimes two or three or more in the one sentence. Honestly!   When I eventually heard “with eyes as heavy as manhole covers” (I kid you not) I threw my hands up in the air and got the giggles.  Surely not what a stomach-clenching, all-out-creepy, hair-raising story should engender.” 

Thank heavens Three Graves Full isn’t littered with similes like the above, but, groan, it does contain its own ineffable pearler: “… his eyes rolled like ball bearings on a lazy Susan.”  Oh please!  What is it with authors, eyes, and cringe-worthy similes!!  

Nobel Prize for Literature

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Canada's Alice Munro has won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature, making her the 13th woman to win in the history of the coveted award.  The Swedish Academy honoured Ms Munro, 82, as a "master of the contemporary short story".  It hailed her "finely tuned storytelling, which is characterised by clarity and psychological realism. Some critics consider her a Canadian Chekhov."
Her works include Who Do You Think You Are? (1978), The Moons of Jupiter (1982), Runaway (2004), The View from Castle Rock (2006) and Too Much Happiness (2009).
The collection Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001) became the basis of the film Away from Her from 2006, directed by Sarah Polley. Her most recent collection is Dear Life (2012).
Ms Munro will receive the prize sum of eight million Swedish kronor ($1.3 million).


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