Book Review – The Glass Castle

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

Summary

This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist’s journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, ‘brilliant’ but alcoholic parents.

At the age of seventeen she escapes on a Greyhound bus to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later. After pursuing the education and civilisation her parents sought to escape, Jeanette eventually succeeds in her quest for the ‘mundane, middle class existence’ she had always craved. In her apartment, overlooked by ‘a portrait of someone else’s ancestor’ she recounts poignant remembered images of star watching with her father, juxtaposed with recollections of irregular meals, accidents and police-car chases and reveals her complex feelings of shame, guilt, pity and pride toward her parents.

Comments

This was a novel that drew so much discussion. There were so many instances of neglect, abuse and cruelty and yet, at the core, the siblings supported each other showing resilience and intelligence.

It is a real testament to human spirit, family relationships and survival. It also highlights the influence a good teacher can have and the ‘ripple effect’ that positive influence can make.

Read by the MJ Readers 9/10

Book Review – The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

The City Bake’rs Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller

Summary

When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.

Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.

With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy  comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.

Comments

The City Bakers Guide to Country Living is a window into the life of a small town in North East USA, Livvy, an accomplished pastry chef escapes to Guthrie; Vermont and her high school friend Hannah, after causing a fire during a high profile event at her Boston workplace.

This story of friendship, love, compassion, rivalry and acceptance draws you in with Louise Miller’s great descriptive writing. I laughed out loud in parts. She brought alive the landscape and traditions of the area.

As an ex-caterer I was right there in the kitchen; it was so real. A compelling easy read!

Tina, Dundas Readers 8/10

Podcast – Young Adult Fiction

In Episode 17 of Parra Pods, Katherine & Nisa discuss some of the amazing Young Adult fiction books they have read over the last couple of weeks.

Reading Youth Adult fiction in all its diversity is great way to understand the issues facing the up and coming generation. The books that we review in this episode discuss diverse themes  such as “Black lives matter”, growing up Muslim in Australia, body issues and being young and LGBTQ identified. What these wonderful books have in common is that they are all thought provoking, funny at times, often inspiring and always entertaining. I urge you to grab a YA book now and enjoy!

Some of the books discussed in this podcast include:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, 2017.

How (Not) to Ask a Boy to the Prom by S.J. Goslee, 2019.

You Must Be Layla by Yassmin Abel-Magied, 2019

There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

June Wrap Up: Book Clubs & Reading Groups

City of Parramatta Libraries, Book Clubs and Reading Groups seem to grow each month; in June we welcomed another Book Club into our Club’s.

Before June comes to end I find myself already preparing July’s Book Club and Reading Groups Kits; with twenty seven kits already to for July!

The popular title and author this month was Jane Harper, with two groups reading The Lost Man and other reading Force of Nature. In fact Jane seems to re-appear each month on the list of book club reads. I can understand why too. I loved both The Dry and The Lost Man.

If you are also a Jane Harper fan then you might like to check out her website for more information and updates on the up-coming film version of The Dry; starring the talented Eric Banner as Aaron Falk!

As always you can read our Book Club and Reading Groups reviews on Parra Reads. Just search the Categories Book Club Kits and Book Reviews.

Happy Reading!

Jody

Book Review: Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman

Seven Types of Ambiguity by Elliot Perlman

Following years of unrequited love, an out-of-work school teacher takes matters into his own hands, triggering a chain of events neither he nor his psychiatrist could have anticipated. At once a psychological thriller and a social critique, Seven Types of Ambiguity is a story of obsessive love in an age of obsessive materialism. 

COMMENTS

Beautifully written. The writer has a brilliant turn of phrase. For our little book club though, this book was a struggle.  We found its volume a little overwhelming and struggled to connect with any of the characters.  We liked the premise; we liked the way the story was told from each character’s point of view and how new pieces of the puzzle were revealed with each person as they told their version of the story.  We also found it fascinating that two people could be in the same situation and both see it so very differently.  However, towards the end of the novel, the changing of views, brought with it a lot of repetitiveness and it felt cumbersome. 

Overall, we would recommend this to readers who have time to read and are not reading to a deadline.  As even with an extension, many of our readers still struggled to get this one finished.

READ BY

6.5/10 – Cultcha Club Book Club