Book Club Book Reviews August 2021

Napoleon’s Last Island by Thomas Keneally

Summary

In October 1815, after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon Bonaparte was sent to live the remainder of his life in exile on the remote Southern Atlantic island of St. Helena. There, on what he called “the cursed rock,” with no chance of escape, he found an unexpected ally: a spirited British teenager named Betsy Balcombe who lived on the island with her family. While Napoleon waited for his own accommodations to be made livable, the Balcombe family played host to the infamous exile, a decision that would have far-reaching consequences for them all.

Comments

We generally did not enjoy this book although most of us researched the characters after finishing it. We were not engaged with the story and felt that modern ideas and opinions were to too prominent in the narrative. We would have been more interested in reading about the central characters’ life in NSW as a result of their time and experiences on the island.

Read by MJ Readers

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Summary

For years, rumours of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Comments

Starting in the 1950s, set in North Carolina, Where the Crawdads Sing follows the story of Kya, who grows up alone after being abandoned by her family.  She learns her life lessons from the wildlife around her.  Learning how to hide from the truant officer and hunting skills to catch food.

We absolutely, unanimously loved this book!  Loved, loved, LOVED IT!  Beautifully written; we felt like we were in the shack, or hiding in the marshes, or on the boat exploring the water ways of the swamp.  We enjoyed the way the story alternated between Kya’s childhood and, her present day.  This book kept us guessing to the very end.  To an ending none of us picked and loved all the same.   We loved Kya, her quiet strength and determination.  And the wonderful characters that surrounded her (Jumpin & Mabel) and the relationships she had with all of them.  Even the not so likeable ones. They were real, and people we could relate to.  The book covered a whole range of issues, loss and abandonment, racial prejudice, social injustice, and love.  We cannot recommend this book enough.

Read by Cultcha Club – Rating 9.5/10

All About Books Winter 2021

Welcome to the Winter 2021 edition of All About Books. Once again there is a wonderful range of fiction and non fiction books being published for adults and teens from best selling and debut authors. The always popular Staff Picks make an appearance and news of our upcoming author talks are on page 43. Many of the titles are available as ebooks while those that aren’t can be added to your to be borrowed pile when we re-open. Happy Reading!

Podcast Classic Fiction for Young Readers

What makes a book a classic? The fact that it is beloved? That it has stood the test of time? That it is of a quality that makes it stand out? Like fairytales and folk tales before them, children’s classics are usually a mix of all of these things.

Join Nisa and Antonia as they talk about some established and modern classics for children: 

Chronicles of Narnia: the lion, the witch and the wardrobe by C. S. Lewis. (Originally published) Geoffrey Bles, 1950.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (Originally published) Reynal & Hitchcock, 1943

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret by Judy Blume. (Originally published) Bradbury Press, 1970

Hitler’s daughter by Jackie French. HarperCollins Publishers, 1999

Happy Listening!

Staff Picks What We Read in May

Wow! May certainly was a great month for reading.

In fact, our lunch room has been abuzz with all the book talk. Each one of us eager to share with the other what amazing book we have been reading. The upside of all our book discussions is we then get to share with you our fellow readers just what books have caught our attention this month.

It is our hopes you will then share with your book buddies, enabling every one of your book loving friends to have an endless supply of good books to get lost in over the coming colder months.

So, what have we been reading over the last month? We have listed them below for you to browse and find your next great read!

Recommended Reading

Sistersong by Lucy Holland (Fiction) – I absolutely adored this book! The perfect mix of British folklore and fantasy. Beautifully written, and at times heartbreaking, Lucy Holland manages to weave a brilliant story web that keeps you ensnared until the very last word has been read! (Jody)

The Prison Healer by Lynette Noni (Book 1) – Young adult fantasy at its best! (Jody)

Life’s Too Short (Friend Zone, 3) by Abby Jimenez – Amazing! Definitely my favourite book in the series. (Kate)

The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer by Joel Dicker

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Solstice Countdown by Lisa Shearin – The 7th book in the urban fantasy SPI Files series featuring seer Makenna Fraser and her goblin dark mage partner Rake Danescu protecting the world from evil – great continuation of the series.

Heartsick, three stories about love and loss, and what happens in between by Jessie Stephens

The Fix, how to overcome the invisible barriers that are holding women back at work by Michelle P. King

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Even More YA Reads

Spanning the last years of primary and all the way up to early adulthood, young adult fiction has an appeal that knows few bounds. Back by popular demand, this is the third in our series of YA book chats. Join Nisa and Antonia as they discuss the following titles:

Listen Layla by Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Penguin Books, 2021

Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina. Allen & Unwin, 2018

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas. Walker Books, 2021

The Selection by Kiera Cass. Harper Collins, 2012

HAPPY LISTENING!