Discussion from the Last Thursday Reading Group

The Last Thursday Reading Group had its first meeting of 2010. Members discussed the book ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ by Mary Ann Shaffer.

It’s a book set in WWII in Guernsey Islands. During German Occupation, the islanders established a literary group to support each other in the most difficult time. When popular author Juliet makes friendship and frequent correspondence with the islanders, the stories are told.

The reading group mostly enjoyed reading the book. They felt the book was interesting, but sometime it was hard to get into it without background information about the islands.

What more interesting was the development of friendship between the islanders and Juliet and appreciation of human spirit in this rather hard time.

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Sharyn Killens

The coming lunch hour author talk will be held on the 1st Wednesday of February, from 1 pm at Parramatta City Library and Sharyn Killens will talk about her book ‘The inconvenient child‘.

Born to a blonde white Australian mother and a black American serviceman father in 1948, during a time when what society thought, mattered, Sharyn Killens was the Inconvenient Child.

Placed in neglectful foster care at birth, at 19 months old, baby Sharyn was rescued by visiting African American champion boxer Freddie Dawson and taken to live in a ‘party house’ in Sydney’s red light district of Kings Cross. But at age five, her absent elegant mother abandoned her in a convent–orphanage, where she suffered years of abuse at the hands of a cruel nun.

By fifteen, as a runaway teenager on the streets of Kings Cross, she was arrested and sentenced to notorious Parramatta Girls Home; a reformatory where girls were stripped of their dignity and punished frequently. She was then transferred to Hay Girls Institution; an experimental disciplinary centre – in truth, a hard labor prison for young girls.

Throughout, her solace was her love of music and her burning ambition to become a singer as she battled for her mother’s love and approval, and her black American father’s denied identity.

Sharyn has become a popular singer and an established entertainer later on. She went to America to search her roots. She has written her life stories in her book ‘The inconvenient child‘ which was published last year and available for loan at Parramatta City Library. Sharyn’s author talk will certainly be a very interesting one.


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Review ‘The Men Who Stare at Goats’

Title: The Men Who Stare at Goats

Author: Jon Ronson

Golda’s Pick
Walking through walls, reading minds, turning invisible, it all sounds like something out of Harry Potter. Well this is no tale of fiction or magic. Attempting these feats were the really life pursuits of some of the most powerful military men in the US Army. 


Jon Ronson is a journalist with the amazing ability to extract the most interesting and often hilarious details about the little know military unit called the First Earth Battalion. From its early beginnings in the 1979 to the implications this unit has had on the way the War of Terror has been fought, Ronson traverses the history of this ‘special’ military unit and the characters that it has attracted over its three decade history.  

I really enjoy this type of non-fiction; quirky, irreverent and fascinating. Ronson is a master of research, digging up the most interesting details from the past and utilising the immense trust he managed to develop in those he interviewed. What is most impressive is the respect and real affection Ronson demonstrates towards the people he interviews and whose stories help make this book so captivating. It is very easy to be cynical and poke fun at the people in stories such as this but what Ronson is able to capture is the ideology behind this movement which can only be described as charmingly hopeful. He shows that despite having some of the most horrific implications, the men who stared at goats were visionaries who dared to image a different future for the US Army.

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New fiction titles of the moment

What’s new at Parramatta City Library so far? Well, across all genres, here are some titles for your information.

General Fiction

The drowing girl by Margaret leroy – stories of mothers and daughters

The gourmet by Muriel Barbara – stories of food habits

Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord – stories of teacher – student relationships

Lanterns on their horns by Radhika Jha – stories of rural poor in India

Life sentences by Laura Lippman – stories of female authors

The man in the shed by Lloyd Jones – Stories of New Zealand

The sad tale of the brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington – stories of brothers

The ship of brides by Jojo Moyes – stories of Australia

Lovesong by Alex Miller – seeking shelter in a Parisian cafe from a sudden rainstorm, John Patterner meets the exotic Sabiha and his carefully mapped life changes forever.

Winners and losers by Linda Sole – when Sarah Jenkins meets Con band and soon is blamed for assulting a woman, can he prove his in nocence? Meanwhile, Frances Danby has discovered that she has a tumour close to her brain and her pride won’t let her go to her sister for help…

New Fantasy/Supernatural

I am Scrooge by Adam Roberts – a zombie story for Christmas

Fallen by Lauren Kate

The final empire by Brandon Sanderson

Heaven can wait by Cally Taylor

The rats and the ruling sea by Robert V. S. Redick

New Historical Fiction

Galileo’s dream by Kim Stanley Robinson – Stories about Galileo Galilei

If the dead rise not by Philip Kerr

King Arthur : Warrior of the West by M. K. Hume

Pirate latitudes by Michael Crichton – about Japanese sailing

Red lotus by Pai Kit Fai – a novel set in China in the 1920s about Siu Sing, the daugher of a Chinese mother and the foreign devil ship’s captain who rescured her from the death. Raised until the age of twelve by an elderly Taoist sage who is master of the White Crane and trained as one of his last disciples, she is sold into slavery after he’s assassinated…

Secretum by Monaldi & Sorti – July 1700, Rome, Atto Melani once a celebrated castrato soprano, now a spy in the service of King Louis XIV, the Sun King mingles with other high-ranking guests at the villa of Cardinal Spada…

New Detective Fiction

Between the plums: visions of sugarplums, Plum lovin and plum I lucky by Janet Evan ovich – female detectives

True blue by David Baldacci – Mason ‘Mace’ Perry series

cut & run by Alix Bosco – Suspense

Get real by Danald E. Westlake – Crime

The gigolo murder by Mehmet Mural Somer – Turkey, Istanbul

The hua shan hospital murders by David Rotenberg – Detective in Shanghai

The secret shopper unwrapped by Kate Harrison – mystery

The Shakespeare curse by J. L. Carrell – thriller

The surrogate by Tania Carver – Suspense

Tell tale by Sam Hayes – family secrets

U is for undertwo by Sue Grafton – Kinsey Millhone series

Original sin by Tasmina Perry – stunning Olivia Asgill is about to marry into one of the richest and most powerful families in the US. But the Asgills are not all they seem and the past is riddled with lles,. Renowned pulist Tess Garrisen has no easy task keeping secrets locked away until the big day is over, secrets always resurface when least expected.

Occupied city by David Peace – dramatises and exploes the rumours of complicity, conspiracy and cover-up that surroung the chilling case of the Teikoku Bank Massacre…

Corpus delicti by Keith McCarthy – Eisenmenger’s relationship with Helena Flemming has deteriorated to the point that Helena wants it to end, leaving Eisenmenger devastated. Eisenmenger throws himself back into the work as a forensic pathologist and is immediately consumed by disturbing discovery…

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