Book Club Reviews

Our Dundas Book Clubs have been very busy reading and reviewing their book club picks over the last month.

Read what they thought about, ‘The Woman in the Window’, ‘Any Ordinary Day’ and ‘The Alice Network’. All of which have been hugely popular reads with a lot of our clubs.

Enjoy!

Jody

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All About Books Spring 2020

Click here to download all about books Spring 2020 reading suggestions guide.The latest All About Books, our reading suggestions guide to some amazing titles for adults and teens being published this season is now here…better late then never! Another issue jam packed with a wide range of upcoming titles on so many different subjects and in a variety of genres – there is sure to be something for any reader. The always popular Staff Picks is back with reviews of books our staff have been reading lately to inspire you. We are also very pleased to announce the resumption of our author talks via an online platform – now you can listen to wonderful authors from the comfort of home and send in your questions. Pick up your free copy of our guide at any branch of the City of Parramatta Libraries or download now. Don’t forget you can click on any of the covers inside to reserve it before it arrives in the Library.

Book Club Reviews

As most of our book clubs have started to meet again in some capacity, either online, in cafes or in their homes I thought it would be nice to share with you some of their book reviews.

The Cultcha Club book club recently read ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo‘ by Christy Lefteri and rated it a solid 6/10.

Our Dundas Readers just finished reading ‘The Umbrian Supper Club‘ by Marlena de Blasi which they rated 5/10.

You can read both clubs comments below.

Enjoy!

Jody

Cultcha Club – ‘The Beekeeper of Aleppo‘ by Christy Lefteri

Nuri, a beekeeper, struggling to hold onto hope as he leaves war torn Syria, with his wife, Afra, blind from the horrors she has seen.  We follow their journey as refugees as they attempt to make their way to England, seeking asylum, hoping to reunite with his cousin. 

This book is beautifully written despite its tragedy.  Hauntingly beautiful, at times blurring the lines of reality.  While this book is fiction, it felt incredibly real and as if we were reading a personal account.  We watch the couple not only struggle with the physical journey, but also their relationship and finding hope and happiness after all they have endured due to things beyond their control.  While the writing is lovely, and the writer knows her subject well, we felt the story lost its way a little in the middle. 

Dundas Readers – ‘The Umbrian Supper Club‘ by Marlena de Blasi

Our library book club choice. A small group of mainly elderly Italians meet each Thursday night for supper. Previously their leader Miranda has cooked for them but as she is aging they begin sharing the meal preparations. Food is the predominant obsession for these people and it is an inextricable element of their culture and everyday lives. Over food and wine, in seemingly endless quantities, five of the women in particular share intimate life stories.

The book is well written but the enormous amount of often repetitive details about food began to be quite nauseating. Nevertheless, if you’re interested in Italian food and culture I think you’d enjoy it and might even be tempted to try making one of the many recipes at the back of the book.

Parra Reads Book Club Wrap-Up & September Pick!

I made it! Finally managed to finish one book club title for August just before we reach the end of the month. I am so happy with myself. I literally just finished reading ‘Six Minutes‘ by Petronella McGovern and thought to my self I had to hop straight onto Parra Reads and write about it.

If you haven’t already guessed by the tone of my writing, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact there wasn’t one section through the whole flow of the book that I did not enjoy. Sometimes when I finish a book and even though I have enjoyed it there are often some characters or story lines that I am not interested in. This wasn’t the case with ‘Six Minutes’, every character and every story line interested me and was relevant to the whole story.

On the cover of ‘Six Minutes’ best selling author Liane Moriarty describes the book as, ‘Impossible to put down. Full of twists and turns you won’t see coming! I loved this fabulous debut novel.’ I would have to agree with that description but I also think it is also so much more.

The setting, characters and their lives felt so real, like you are a part of the story watching the news or browsing through your Facebook feed. I haven’t experienced that with a book in a long time. Halfway through ‘Six Minutes’, I jumped online and ordered a copy of Petronella’s new book ‘The Good Teacher’, don’t worry we have ordered library copies too.

I am still reading our second August title, ‘Stranger Country‘ by Monica Tan. So far I am finding it an interesting and enjoyable read. I especially like reading about the Australian landscape.

To read something totally different in September we have chosen ‘A Thousand Ships‘ by Natalie Hayes which is a retelling of the Trojan War from an all-female perspective. And this month to take the pressure off everyone we will only be reading one book.

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Miles Franklin Shortlist, Our Picks!

Over the last month, myself and my colleague Sarah have been super busy reading!

What have we been reading? Well, as many books on the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist that we could manage! Not to mention our leisure reading and book club titles. Luckily we both love books and reading; although Sarah is by far the superior reader. I am constantly in awe of her seemingly endless list of books she has finished.

Now back to the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist. While we didn’t get through the whole longlist, we did manage to read six out of ten titles, which I think is not a bad effort.

We read:

The White Girl by Tony Birch, UQP, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – This made me cry! In a good way. I was totally invested in Odette and Sissy’s story. If I am honest I would have read another two hundred pages. Jody

Room For A Stranger by Melanie Cheng, Text Publishing, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Meg is an elderly lady living alone in her childhood home. After a break-in she finds a student to share her house. This is Andy, an international student from Hong Kong. Although they are from different backgrounds they develop a friendship as they do have some things in common. Sarah

Islands by Peggy Frew, Allend & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – The many different layers/perspectives in this book did confuse me a times; enough so that I did find myself re-reading parts. However, overall I did enjoy the book and after finishing it, felt that on some level the way it was written perfectly matched the disjointed lives of the characters. Jody

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing, 2020. eBook – This book had the power to mess with my head! The narrator of this book is a teenage girl living with her mother, brother and a dangerous man. She uses her mechanical skill to fight back. I found this book quite disturbing. Sarah

The Yield by Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Simply a perfect book! I enjoy reading books about Australian History, particularly Indigenous stories. ‘The Yield’ is complex and emotional book, with characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading their story. – Jody

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Four women in their 70s have been lifelong friends. After the death of one of the group the others spend a weekend at her beach house to clean it out. But there is conflict between the three ladies without the friend that held the group together. This novel looks at growing older and dealing with past regrets. – Sarah

We are crossing our fingers that our three favourite books, ‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch, ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch and ‘Room for a Stranger’ by Melanie Cheng make it onto the 2020 ‘Miles Franklin Shortlist’.

Do you have a favourite? What will be your pick for the 2020 Winner?

Jody