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The Darkest Minds

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“Most of us didn’t survive the outbreak Those of us who did came out stronger Our minds powerful beyond belief. They couldn’t explain it…other than to give it a colour I’m Ruby and I’m a Green…” Follow her journey….
In time American children aged 10-17 years of age will find themselves subjected to a terrible and frightening disease that either kills or changes them. IAAN- Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration- they call it; 98% of the youth population will die from it while only 2% survive stronger and more powerful than ever. The government can’t explain it and they can’t control it, all they can do is contain it. Lock those blessed and cursed few away, labelling their new abilities by colour and sending the country into total disarray. On her tenth birthday Ruby became one of them, taken, labelled and locked away. What the government don’t know is Ruby is one of the dangerous ones…and now she’s been set free…what will she do?

This novel is not for the faint heart- like the Hunger games death and violence are prominent throughout-, it a brutally honest reflection on the human condition; life, death, loyalty and the differences that separate us and I was hooked from the minute I turned the cover. In particular I was taken with the commentary on the ability of mankind to go to extremes to protect themselves when they feel threatened. Ruby as a female protagonist is both appealing and frustrating, a ten year old stuck in the body of a 16 year old, she grows dramatically throughout the story. Secondary characters such as Chubs- who is so brutally honest- Liam and Zu are undeniably likable and quirky in their own unique ways. What really hooked me about The darkest minds was I never knew what was coming next, every turn of the page was a surprising and exhilarating- the revelation of Ruby’s back-story in particular stands out. Who is good? Who is bad? I could never tell. An unpredictable, thrilling and breath-taking read; dystopian fiction has never been so good.

Courtney :)

The Stella Prize

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Stella Prize, named after one of Australia’s iconic female authors, Stella Maria ‘Miles’ Franklin,  is a major new literary award commending Australian women’s writing. Celebrating women’s contribution to Australian literature, it has a significant monetary prize of $50,000.

The inaugural winner of the Stella Prize is Carrie Tiffany for her novel Mateship with Birds. 

The other shortlisted titles are:

The Burial
by Courtney Collins
Questions of Travel
by Michelle de Kretser
The Sunlit Zone
by Lisa Jacobson
Like A House on Fire
by Cate Kennedy
Sea Hearts
by Margo Lanagan.


Girl Defective

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Three cheers for 'Girl Defective' by Simone Howell.

I loved this book, and hope it wins all the awards and accolades it deserves.

Life is seen through the eyes of fifteen year old Sky (Skylark) Martin, a teenager who describes herself as being 'surface clean but underneath having a weird hormonal stew brewing.'

Sky lives with her family-a father who is a heavy drinker and whose record store business is in dire straights, and her brother 'Gully' who 'intense' and has social difficulties.

The setting-St. Kilda-is beautifully conveyed, whether it be buying fish and chips at the local shop or travelling past the St. Kilda beach the reader has a keen sense of the colour  and flavour of the St. Kilda scene.

'Girl Defective' is part-detective novel, part coming-of-age. An unknown person throws a brick into the window of the record shop and Gully throws himself into the role of trying to find out who the culprit is.

Sky is struggling to find her place in the world. Her friends, family and acquaintances are often quirky, odd-ball characters but are also very real and likeable.

Highly recommended.


Pulitzer Winners

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Awarded last night, 15 April, the Pulitzer Prize is an American award by Columbia University for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature, and musical composition produced in the United States. Among the many categories within each section is the Prize in Letters - books published in the US that are fiction, biography, general non-fiction, history and poetry. And the winners are:

FICTION: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson 

BIOGRAPHY: The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss

GENERAL NONFICTION: Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys by Gilbert King

HISTORY: Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam by Fredrik Logevall  

POETRY: Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds  



Quicksand -

Hi all,

I got the date wrong for the next teen book group meeting. It should be Thursday 9th of May, instead of the 10th. This key should really exist on our keyboards:

Hope to see you on the 9th!

- Celia

Heritage Festival April 21, 2013

Links to our Past - history -

The City of Casey and the Casey Cardinia Branch of the National Trust present their second annual  Heritage Festival which will be held on Sunday, April 21 2013 from 11.00am to 3.00pm. Venue: The Old Cheese Factory, Homestead Road, Berwick.

Have  a high tea in the 1870's homestead or take a tour of the c. 1875 cheese factory. Heritage groups from the region will be on hand to answer your local history questions. Have your antiques appraised by a professional  valuer - you might find out that the hideous vase you inherited is worth  a fortune! Lots of free entertainment  for the whole family.  Free entry.

Win with Miles Franklin!

Reading Rewards - reviews -

No, you are not being asked to run a race.

Rather the Miles Franklin Award, Australia's most prestigious literary award, is inviting you to read one or more titles from the list of this year's nominees, for their Miles of Reading Challenge.
You are invited to submit your review on the Miles Franklin discussion forum to be in the chance to win a set of the Miles Franklin Awards' most famous books.

This year's long list is:

Romy Ash - Floundering
Lily Brett - Lola Bensky
Brian Castro - Street to street
Michelle de Kretser - Questions of Travel
Annah Faulkner - The Beloved
Tom Keneally - The Daughters of Mars
Drusilla Modjeska - The Mountain
M.L. Stedman - The Light Between Oceans
Carrie Tiffany - Mateship with Birds
Jacqueline Wright - Red Dirt Talking

Click on the link to place your hold at the library and get moving as reviews must be submitted to the discussion forum by 30th April 2013.  The winner will be announced 19th June, so not too long to wait until you find out whether you and the judges see eye-to-eye on this one. :)

~ Michelle

Teen Book Group

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Hi All,

This is just a reminder that the second Teen Book Group session is coming up at Narre Warren Library. All teens are invited - whether or not you came to the first session. I can guarantee the group is super nice and we are looking for new members to join us.

The next book that we are discussing is The Fault in Our Stars by the amazing John Green. Hazel is tough, funny, awesome girl who has cancer, and is resigned to the fact that she is going to die. Then she meets Augustus at a cancer support group and things start getting complicated. If you love to have a good cry then this is a great book to read, but it is also funny and real - the way all John Green's books are. I highly recommend Looking for Alaska which is great too.

If you are keen to join the Book Group all you need to do is call Narre Warren Library on 9704 7696, and then show up on Thursday 10th May at 4.30pm. If you need a copy of the book you can borrow them from Narre Warren. Just ask for me (Celia) and I will get one for you. There will be food! I look forward to meeting you.

Below is the book trailer for the book, and below that is John Green reading the first chapter of the book. Enjoy!

- Celia

Jane Clifton

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Only nine more sleeps to go …  
Come along for an evening with a genuine show business all-rounder: actress, singer, published crime novelist, and registered Marriage Celebrant [!] – JANE CLIFTON
Don’t miss this hugely entertaining evening 7-8pm Wednesday 17 April at Narre Warren Library.  NO COST - Book your place now at www.tinyurl.com/cclcevents or phone 9704 7696.

        The Address Book     A Hand in the Bush       Half Past Dead


The Amber Amulet

Reading Rewards - reviews -

From the cover:  "Dear Sir/Ma’am, 
Please find enclosed this Amber Amulet. That must sound unusual to a citizen, but you will have to trust me on this count because the science is too detailed for me to outline here. All you need to know is that the Amber Amulet will eliminate your unhappiness by counteracting it with Positive Energy. This should see you straight. Fear not, you’re in safe hands now. 
Take care. 
The Masked Avenger.

Meet twelve-year-old Liam McKenzie, who patrols his suburban neighbourhood as the Masked Avenger - a superhero with powers so potent not even he can fully comprehend their extent. Along with his sidekick, Richie the Power Beagle, he protects the people of Franklin Street from chaos, mayhem, evil and low tyre pressure - but can he save them from sadness?  This perfect jewel of a book by the award-winning author will hold all readers in its irresistible power. 

Narrated by Grant Cartwright, this e-Audiobook download was short but entertaining!  Diametrically opposed to the powerful Jasper Jones, one of the great Australian reads, Craig Silvey has gone left field with a heart-warming little novella that seems quite child-like but one that touches something inside that makes an adult reader sigh, nod their head, and take a trip down memory lane.  Jumping off the garage roof with an umbrella?  Wearing Mum’s tablecloth as a cape to track down baddies?  Been there, done that, and glad to have travelled that road again with Liam.

Summer Read Recommends

Reading Rewards - reviews -

The Victorian Summer Read program has come to an end, even as our summer shows us one last blast.

Readers across the state enjoyed ten Victorian reads and as part of a competition, made suggestions for their favourite recommended reading.

So if you are looking for a great read, here are the top twenty recommendations from fellow Victorian readers, which you can borrow free from your local library.
~ Michelle

Throne of Glass- Sarah J. Maas

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A heart of Ice. A will of steel. Meet the assassin…Celaena Sardothien. Beautiful…Deadly… Destined for greatness
In the pits of the Endovier mines eighteen year old Celaena Sardothien, the most deadly feared assassin in all the lands, serves her life sentence for. Lasting a year in the horror of the mines is unheard of but somehow Celaena struggles through, then one day Captain Westfall visits with an abhorrent and unthinkable request, her freedom in exchange for her service to the King if she competes as the princes champion in the up-coming fight to the death tournament, with the best of the best from around the land. Live or Die, those are her choices but not even Celaena could have seen where her choice will lead her.
Throne of glass is best described as Cinderella who can kick ass; there is a poor girl who has been wronged, a handsome prince, a villainous king, a fairy godmother and an evil plot brewing.  This novel is less action-packed than I expected instead Maas focuses her attention on political intrigue, murder, mystery and romance. And while I found all this intriguing I have to say the romance did let me down. I felt while reading this that Maas was constantly changing her mind, first the captain, then the prince, then…who? It was never really clear what Celeaena felt for either one or in turn what they felt for her, because of this I become somewhat disconnected from the story. However what this novel does have some things going for it; there are some pretty vivid descriptions which compel the reader to read on and of course of the murder mystery too keeps the pages turning. Ultimately however Celaena, as the kick ass assassin is what really appealed predominantly in this novel. Overall not a bad read; like Twilight it’s a novel you’re either gonna love or hate it. So if your looking for a light and intriguing read that is not too heavy on the romance give it a go…it may or may not disappoint. Let me know.


Go Ask Alice

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'Go Ask Alice' is an amazing depiction of a teenager's life told in diary form.
Alice seems like your average fifteen year old living with various ups and downs as she negotiates school and family and potential new boyfriends.

Then comes a fateful encounter when she attends a party, and, unknowingly, her drink is laced with LSD. Alice's descriptions of her drug taking are vivid and strong. At first she is delirious and sees only the beauty and wonder of her new world whilst under the influence of drugs.

Then, as her journey with drugs continues, a more seedy side emerges. Her addiction for drugs takes over and Alice will do anything in order to achieve a drug-induced state.

Readers will be swept along with her tale, wanting her to abstain and resist the drugs as much as Alice, eventually, wants to abstain and resist herself.
This book was written in the 1970's but is still completely relevant today.
Recommended reading.


Creeks and Rivers

Links to our Past - history -

When you drive along the Princes Highway or the South Gippsland Highway around the Dandenong, Doveton area you cross over the Dandenong Creek and the Eumemmerring Creek. When I do this I try to imagine what the landscape would have looked like to the Early European settlers and the Bunurong People. These water courses were generally the location of the first European settlements as they provided the water needed for the settlers and their livestock.

The Dandenong Creek, taken between 1920 and 1950.State Library of Victoria Image H32492/1334
The Dandenong and Eumemmerring Creeks are now, in parts, concreted. These creeks used to run into the Carrum Swamp. Drainage works on the Carrum Swamp began in 1869 when the Carrum outfall drain (now the Patterson River) was created and thus the creeks now flow into this outfall drain. The Dandenong Creek was the site of the Bigning Run (also called  Bangholme or Bangam) taken up in 1837 by Joseph Hawdon. This, plus the neighbouring Ballymarang run, was taken over by the Wedge Brothers in 1839 and the 42 square mile (10,000 hectares) property was known as Banyan waterholes.

The 14 square mile (3,600 hectares)  Eumemmerring Run, based on the Eumemmerring creek, was taken up by Dr Farquhar McCrae (1807-1850) in 1839. Later the same year it was taken over by Leslie Foster  (1818-1900) or John Vesey Fitzgerald Leslie Foster, to give him his full name.  Foster held the run until 1842 when it was taken up by Edward Wilson and James Stewart Johnson who held it until 1846 when Thomas Herbert Power (1801-1873) took it on. The property then went from around the Dandenong Creek/Power Road all the way to Berwick.

Further south, the Clyde creek formed the border of the Mayune and Garem Gam Runs. Mayune was taken up by the Ruffy Brothers  1840, the same year James Bathe and T.J Perry took up the Garem Gam run. Mayune was 32,000 acres or nearly 13,000 hectares and Garem Gam was, in comparison, a tiny 3,200 acres or 1,00 hectares.

This is an aerial taken January 1970 and shows the Clyde Creek. the Creek is the dark line running diagonally from left to right. The road at the top of the photo is Patterson Road and Ballarto Road runs parallel to this at the bottom of the photograph. The Clyde Creek formed the border of the Mayune and Garem Gam Runs (see above).
Further east are the Cardinia and Toomuc Creeks which used to flow into the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp. In 1876, swamp reclamation works carried out by the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp drainage committee created drains which carried the water from these creeks directly to Western Port Bay. Around 1916, Deep Creek was channelled into the Toomuc Creek drain.

This is the Cardinia Creek in its natural state, taken January 1972, at Clyde North/Officer. The creek meanders across the landscape. In the bottom left hand corner is Thompson Road.

Contrast this photograph of Cardinia Creek with the one above; the Cardinia Creek has been 'tamed', no casual meandering across the countryside any more. The aerial was taken in December 1971 and shows the results of the 1876 drainage works carried out by the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp drainage committee talked about above. The drain coming  in from the top left is the channelized Cardinia Creek. This channel meets up with the channelized Toomuc Creek and Deep Creek at the bottom of the photograph. The Toomuc Creek is the one on the left of these drains that comes in at a 45 degree angle at Ballarto Road. Wenn Road crosses this drain. This is just east of the Cardinia township.
There were various runs either side of the Cardinia Creek. Cardinia Creek 1 run (5,120 acres or 2,000 hectares)  was taken up in October 1842 by Robert Henry. The Cardinia Creek 2 run was taken up in September 1838 by Terence O'Connnor. The Gin Gin Bean Station of 7,000 acres  (2,800 hectares) was first leased in 1840 and  then taken over in April 1846 by James Lecky. James Lecky purchased the 640 acre (one square mile) pre-emptive right of Gin Gin Bean in 1855 and built his homestead, Cardinia Park, on the Cardinia Creek, three miles south of Officer. Lecky was also an original member of the Cranbourne Road Board and the Cranbourne Shire Council. The Lecky’s owned the property until the 1930s.

The Cardinia Creek, in its natural state, at Harkaway. Photo not dated, but looks like the 1920s.State Library of Victoria Image H36420/20
Also on the Cardinia Creek was the 5,760 acre (2,330 hectares) St Germains Run. First leased in February 1845 by James Buchanan it was taken over in January 1848 by Alexander Patterson. Patterson (1813-1896) was an original member of the Cranbourne Road Board when it was established on June 19, 1860 and an original member of the Shire of Cranbourne when it was established February 24, 1868. The current St Germains Homestead was built in 1893.

I.Y.U. Station was the Toomuc Creek. This 12,945 acre (5,200 hectares) Station was first leased in October 1839 by William Kerr Jamieson. In October 1850 William Waddell took over and in June 1866 George John Watson became the owner. Watson (1828-1906) established the Melbourne Hunt Club, which moved to Cranbourne in 1925. The Cardinia Creek and the Toomuc Creek were also the location of two of the earliest hotels in the area – the Gippsland Hotel (also known as Bourkes Hotel) and the La Trobe Inn.

 This is the Toomuc outfall drain, created in 1876, taken at Manks Road in July 1938.Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph.
As we go further east there is the Ararat Creek around which was based the three Ararat squatting runs. Mount Ararat 1, a mere 1900 acres (760 hectares), was taken up in August 1844 by John Dore and Michael Hennessy. Mt Ararat 2, a Station of 16,000 acres (6,400 hectares) was  located six miles east of Pakenham and was south of Mt Ararat 1. Mount Ararat 2 was said to extend to just outside of Drouin. It was first leased in August 1844. There were various leaseholders until April 1870 when John Startup took over. Startup was an original member of the Berwick Road Board which was established September 29, 1862. The third Station was Mt Ararat Creek. This was of 5,120 acres (2,000 hectares) and was first leased in September 1846 by William Walsh.

The Main Drain of the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp or the Bunyip River, taken at the Eleven Mile bridge in 1939.Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp Historical Society photograph.
The next water course was the Bunyip River. This river originally flowed out over the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp until the sixteen mile (25 kms) long Main Drain, which was dug from 1889 to 1893, took the water directly to Western Port Bay.

Further around the Bay is the Yallock creek, where Samuel Rawson and Robert Jamieson established the Yallock Station in 1839.  Then further south is the Lang Lang River, the site of the Tobin Yallock or Torbinurruck Station. This was of 1920 acres (770 hectares)  and taken up in July 1839 by Robert Jamieson. In June 1913 the Lubecker Steam dredge started work on this river, described at the time as a ‘wandering creek’ and dredged it to prevent flood waters backing up across areas of the Tobin Yallock Swamp lands.

Author Event - Matthew Reilly

Reading Rewards - reviews -

I admit I have not yet read a Matthew Reilly book, but that certainly didn’t stop me from attending his author event at the Cranbourne Community Theatre on Monday 4th March. The event was organised by the Cranbourne Library and well publicised both in the library and in the local media. I was only one of about 250 people who had flocked to see the popular writer of the Jack West Jr.  and the Scarecrow series.
Matthew Reilly is funny and friendly, and he does a great Sean Connery impression. He spent the time before the official event chatting with the early arrivals, his readers, his fans. They talked about movies and why the fifth Die Hard didn’t work, and the last Indiana Jones movie should never have been made. He shared with his fans, his own anger and frustration when his favourite books get butchered in film. We can all relate to that.
When the theatre was filled and the official event started there was a sudden hush where moments before there had been a cacophony of sound. Matthew began by reading to us some of his bad reviews. These were ‘really’ bad reviews. One in particular described his books as “light-weight adventure crap.” Ouch!
Contest – his first stand-alone book – was initially self-published. Here’s the blurb from his wesite:
The New York State Library. A silent sanctuary of knowledge; a 100-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and spiralling staircases. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his eight-year-old daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. For one night, the State Library is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Stephen Swain is to compete – whether he likes it or not. The rules are simple: seven contestants will enter, only one will leave. With his daughter in his arms, Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds brutal. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight – but if he wants to live, he has to win. Because in a contest like this, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all.
One interesting piece of trivia is that for the US edition, the publishers asked that he change his imaginary ‘State’ library to the actual New York Public Library, which he did. He visited, took photos, drew up a floor plan and changed the scenes in the book to reflect the true layout. That’s dedication.
Matthew says his writing has evolved since his first book (first published in 1996 with a print run of just 1000 copies), and as a writer I know that the more you write the better you are at it. There’s more to it though. Matthew said that he feels he has to keep up with the audience, “the audience evolves, grows more sophisticated.” He needs to “up the ante.” In regard to Scarecrow and the Army of Thieves, he said “I wanted this book to be relentless in its relentlessness.”

“Your hero is only as good as your villains.”

Some critics have described Matthew’s books as formulaic. He said the only part of his writing that may follow a formula are the openings of the Scarecrow books. “They always start with Scarecrow zooming into danger.”

Matthew headed off one of the most common questions a writer is asked by telling us that he reads a lot of non-fiction and watches a lot of documentaries; both “fire his imagination”, he said. He wants his ideas and his stories to be “world changing.”

“The strangest things in the books are true.”

One of the questions from the audience was “Do you have to visit a place to write about it?” He said that although it’s not necessary, it does help. That said, he revealed that “about 85% of the stuff in Ice Station is true” and no, he hasn’t been to Antarctica; he researched the facts in his local library. The two best places he ‘has’ been in the world are Egypt and Easter Island in that order.

“Don’t antagonise your biggest fans.”

Matthew has long made it a habit to end his chapters on a cliff-hanger. While writing The Six Sacred Stones he decided he would end the whole book in the same way. “It was a good idea at the time,” he said. The trouble was, his fans read fast. They usually purchase his books the moment they hit the shelves and finish them within the first week. They then had to wait two years to learn the outcome of those final pages. To say they weren’t happy would be putting it mildly.

An audience member asked the question that many of Matthew’s fans would probably like to ask. “With the Jack West Jr. series will you continue to write them until you reach number one?” Matthew said he probably will, but with how long it takes him to write each book and the other projects he’ll be working on in between it may take a while.

“My head was exploding by the end of Temple.”

Temple, another of his stand-alone books, is a split story. It is the longest of his books and was also “the hardest to write.” Matthew said if his fans reread the description of character William Race, they would soon realise that it is an exact description of the author himself.

Hover Car Racer is a book you could give a ten year old to read. Matthew said, “It doesn’t have the violence or, let’s face it, the swearing of his other books.” He wanted Hover Car Racer to be fast, fun, and to contain some life lessons. The best message in the book is what Matthew referred to as the ‘Bradbury Principle’ – based on the 2002 Winter Olympic gold medal win by skater Steven Bradbury. Essentially this message boils down to:

“Never give up.
Never say die.
You are always in the race.”

Find out more about Matthew here http://www.matthewreilly.com/
Follow Matthew on Twitter https://twitter.com/Matthew_Reilly
Like his facebook page www.facebook.com/OfficialMatthewReilly

Book Chat from Emerald

Reading Rewards - reviews -

Book Chat is a great time to get together over a cuppa and share what we've been reading.  Here is a snippet from Emerald Library's last get together - such wildly different books, but I shouldn't be amazed because we're all wonderfully different readers!

The Stories that Changed Australia: 50 years of Four Corners  Edited by Sally Neighbour
50 Years is a remarkable feat for a TV program and this book highlights a range of stories, many of them controversial, topical and often confronting. Highly recommended for those who love in-depth, brave journalism.

Snow White Must Die by Nele Heuhaus A young man comes home to his small German town after serving ten years in prison for the murder of two teenage girls. He was convicted only by circumstantial evidence, the bodies have never been found. He and his family have been through hell in those years, and the trouble isn’t over yet; his presence is stirring up events from the past. There are so many clever twists and turns – just when you think you know what happened, you don’t! Absolutely brilliant! Dot.

Animal People by Charlotte Wood
As an ordinary day develops into an existential crisis, Stephen Connolly is at a loss. As he decides to break up with his girlfriend, he must also fend of his demanding family, deal with a near tragedy, endure another shift at his zoo job and attend a children’s birthday party. Masterfully told and beautifully written, Animal People is compassionate, sharply observed and humorous. It is with good reason the book was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, 2012. Just fantastic!

Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones
This is very good ‘faction’. The story of four sisters from Provence in the 13th century – Marguerite, Queen of France (Louis); Eleonore, Queen of England (Henry); Sanchia, Queen of Germany (Richard); and Beatrice, Queen of Sicily (Charles). There are politics aplenty, greed, murder, loneliness, family, and a monster mother-in-law. A fascinating look at the lives of these women – from birth to middle age, and the different ways they and their children influenced history.

Emerald Library's next Book Chat is on May 31. Pick up a flyer for other 2013 dates.


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They say I’m evil.
The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who sigh on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me.
And everyone believes it. Including you.
But you don’t know.
You don’t know who I used to be. Who I could have been.
For the first time Emily Koll is going to tell her story. Not what the newspapers will tell you, or the interviews on the late news, but her side of the story…her truth. Or as much as she dares to reveal.
Written in the form of a diary we learn that Emily is awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution. She is cold, distant, and refuses to apologise for what she has done. And what has she done?
We don’t find this out till the end of the novel and by then we want to know. By then we have travelled far with Emily, with her pseudonym Rose, and with her nemesis Juliet.
This novel is a psychological look at infamy,
so forget about Emily, now I’m Harry Koll’s daughter, about identity ,  the best thing about being Rose Glass was that I didn’t have to be Emily Koll 
and how far a person would go to seek revenge. You break it, you pay for it, and you broke me. You got what you deserved.
 This novel looks at revenge but also how we are shaped by our families. And if we could be anyone, who would we be?
Vicki @ Pak. 

This Is Where I Leave You

Reading Rewards - reviews -

From the cover: What would you do if you crept into your house on your wife’s birthday to find her in bed … Having sex with your boss? And what if you were holding a lighted birthday cake covered in hot melted wax? Well, what would you do?

Things only get worse for Judd Foxman when the death of his father brings his entire family together for the first time in years. They are reluctantly submitting to their father’s dying request, Shiva, spending seven days mourning together. In the same house. Like a real family. As the week spins out of control, grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions reawakened. Judd tries to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying not to get sucked into the regressive dramas of his dysfunctional family.

I’m shaking my head at the end of this book wondering if I’ve stumbled through a Woody Allen movie! This Is Where I Leave You is one colourful, quirky, very adult story and the opening chapters set the tone. It’s bitingly acerbic, hilarious in parts and yet at times deeply moving.

There are some richly-drawn characters here, take Judd’s Mum for instance: “Mom is a shrink. Twenty-five years ago she wrote a book called Cradle and All: a mother’s guide to enlightened parenting. The book was a national phenomenon and turned my mother into something of a celebrity expert on parenting. Predictably, my siblings and I were screwed up beyond repair.” [No wonder, ‘Mom’ dresses like a 60 year old Hooker too!] Phillip, his younger brother, wanders aimlessly through life charming the pants off girls, smoking dope and doing as little as possible with such winning ways that people just love having him around. For a while. There’s a sister-in-law who’s desperate for kids, a sister who has too many kids and not enough husband, and a big brother with not just a mega-chip on his shoulder but mega-scars from saving Judd from a pitbull attack. Just to make life more interesting, there’s the twerpy kid they went to school with, nick-named Boner, who is now their serving Rabbi, presiding over Shiva, much to their chagrin. Throw in some sex, actually a whole lot of sex, to quote Judd: “… you need a GPS to follow the sex lives of this family”, and there you have it, one of the more interesting reads so far this year. There is some very intelligent writing in here and I really enjoyed the humour too, but I felt this book was just a tad too long. Dream sequences are boring at the best of times and didn’t add a thing to the story. I’d be interested in hearing other’s opinions … borrow the book soon and let’s hear from you!

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Quicksand -

Jacob used to believe his grandfather when the old man showed him strange pictures from his past. As a child he wanted to believe that it was possible that somewhere little girls could float above the ground, boys could be invisible, and even that somewhere someone had a mouth on the back of their head. As he got older he began to doubt the truth of his grandfather’s strange playmates and the Welsh island where they once lived.

When his grandfather dies horribly, Jacob, now a teen, sees something that makes him think that his grandfather had been right all along. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children follows Jacob on his journey to sort the truth from the lies deep in his grandfather’s murky past.

Unsettling photographs are used as a very effective storytelling device in this novel. When Jacob’s grandfather shows him the pictures of the peculiar children, we see them too, woven seamlessly into the narrative. The story is at once more real and much creepier!
More pictures appear as the story unfolds, and they fit so neatly within the narrative that Ransom Riggs has developed that it is amazing to discover that the photographs used are all ‘authentic, vintage found photographs’ from a variety of collectors.

The story itself is wonderful. Suspense builds as Jacob uncovers more and more about his grandfather’s past, and the eerie photos heighten the experience. Timeslip elements are integrated seamlessly, and Jacob is a very engaging character, determined to uncover the truth.

Towards the end of the novel it is a bit disappointing to start heading into what looks like standard fantasy fare. However, I may be selling the author short, and I am sure that I will be picking up the sequel when it hits the library in 2014! I am also hanging out for the film, which apparently Tim Burton is set to direct.


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