Witchy Reads for Halloween

There are only 2 weeks left until Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve on 31 October. To get you in the mood why not check out some of our adult fiction and young adult fiction titles featuring witches of all kinds. They include magical realism, historical fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy and more in these witchy tales!

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

March Reads & April’s Thriller Picks

After I finished writing the blog post for the February wrap-up, and told you all what I was planning on reading, I literally changed my mind as soon as I clicked post. I blame Kate, one of my reading colleagues here at the library, for filling my head with even more reading suggestions.

The books I read this month were….

A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville (Historical Fiction)

This was such a beautifully written book. Although a fictional take on what Elizabeth Macarthur might have thought and said, I found myself believing whole-heartedly that Elizabeth’s voice was real!

What if Elizabeth Macarthur – wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in the earliest days of Sydney – had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? And what if novelist Kate Grenville had miraculously found and published it? That’s the starting point for A Room Made of Leaves, a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented. Marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her heart, the search for power in a society that gave women none – this Elizabeth Macarthur manages her complicated life with spirit and passion, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir lets us hear – at last! – what one of those seemingly demure women from history might really have thought. At the centre of A Room Made of Leaves is one of the most toxic issues of our own age – the seductive appeal of false stories. This book may be set in the past, but it’s just as much about the present, where secrets and lies have the dangerous power to shape reality.

Normal People by Sally Rooney (Book to Screen)

I am really struggling to write my review for ‘Normal People’, even after discussing the book with my colleague Sarah. Therefore, I will keep it short and to the point. I loved the writing! Just was not interested in the storyline. I am going to watch the screen adaptation and see if this changes my opinion.

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in the west of Ireland, but the similarities end there. In school, Connell is popular and well-liked, while Marianne is a loner. But when the two strike up a conversation – awkward but electrifying – something life-changing begins.

One Perfect Summer by Paige Toon (Chicklit)

Once again, Paige Toon managed to keep me glued to the pages until I had finished the whole book. How can one writer manage to write one amazing book, after another? Magic if you ask me! If you enjoy Chick Lit and haven’t read any of Paige Toon’s books give them a try. You will not be disappointed.

Alice is 18 and about to start university while Joe’s life is seemingly going nowhere. A Dorset summer, a chance meeting, and the two of them fall into step as if they have known each other forever. But their idyll is shattered, suddenly, unexpectedly. Alice heads off to Cambridge and slowly picks up the pieces of her broken heart. Joe is gone; she cannot find him. When she catches the attention of Lukas – gorgeous, gifted, rich boy Lukas – she is carried along by his charm, swept up in his ambitious plans for a future together. Then Joe is there, once more, but out of reach in a way that Alice could never have imagined. Life has moved on, the divide between them is now so great. Surely it is far too late to relive those perfect summer days of long ago?

The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson (General Fiction)

I have not finished this one yet, but I am more than half way through and enjoying it. I like the characters and want to know how their story ends.

What do you get when you cross a painfully awkward son, lofty comedic ambition and a dead best friend? Norman. Norman and Jax are a legendary comedy duo in the making, with a five-year plan to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe by the time they’re fifteen. But then Jax dies before they even turn twelve. Norman’s mum Sadie knows she won’t win Mother of the Year anytime soon, and she really doesn’t know, or care, who Norman’s father is. But her heart is broken when she discovers her grieving son’s revised plan – ‘Find Dad’ and ‘Get to the Edinburgh Fringe’. If meeting his dad and performing at the Festival are the two things that will help Norman through this devastating time, then Sadie is going to make them happen. So, mother and son set off from Cornwall, with their friend Leonard in his vintage Austin Maxi, on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh – to honour Jax and to track down a few maybe-fathers on the way…    

We were lucky enough to host Julietta Henderson in an online author talk. You can check out the recording here at parra.city/nswplevents

Now! Down to the business of April’s to be read, thriller list. I am hoping to read at least one of the books listed below.

Continue reading

Book Review This is Going to Hurt

In January our ‘Cultcha Club’ book club read ‘This is Going to Hurt‘ by Adam Kay. Checkout what they thought below….

Summary

Welcome to 97-hour weeks. Welcome to life and death decisions. Welcome to a constant tsunami of bodily fluids. Welcome to earning less than the hospital parking meter. Wave goodbye to your friends and relationships …
Welcome to the life of a junior doctor.
Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay’s This Is Going to Hurt provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. And yes, it may leave a scar.   

Comments 

Why not try Adam Kay’s other book….

Adam Kay was a junior doctor working for the NHS (British Healthcare) before turning his hand to writing comedy.  The book is full of snippets of diary entries that he kept  from his time working as a junior doctor.  While very British, with a few references some may not understand, this one had us laughing out loud and sharing stories one minute to holding back tear the next.  We thoroughly enjoyed this one.  And being mothers, we enjoyed the insight into an OBGYN ward. Wonderfully written with a new appreciation for all healthcare professionals. 

Cultcha Club rate ‘This is Going to Hurt’ 8/10.

That’s a Wrap! Parra Reads Online Book Club, February

As we come to the end of February and our first month of Online Book Club, I am feeling super excited & motivated for the months ahead.

A big thank you to every one of you who joined our Goodreads group, I love seeing what you’re reading. Navigate over to the discussion board and share your thoughts on the books you are reading, I don’t want to bore you all with my comments too much, I admit I have a tendency to babble.

I don’t know how you all did reading Australian authors this month, but I loved it! I hope you enjoyed discovering some of our wonderful home grown literature as much as I did. The books I got through this month were, ‘Mr Wigg’ by Inga Simpson, ‘Three Wishes’ by Liane Moriarty and ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch all of which were re-reads for me.

‘Mr Wigg’ is one of my all-time favourite reads. This is a beautifully written and gentle book that allows the reader to share the intimate story of Mr Wigg’s life. This book transports you to another time and place, allowing you to soak up the characters and the environment around him. If you enjoy reading a beautifully written book that allows you to share one-persons journey, then this book is a must read.

‘Three Wishes’ is one of Liane Moriarty’s first books and to this day remains one of my favourites. The Prologue reels you in, leaving you no choice but to turn the page to find out what happens. A fast-paced book with characters that draw you into their story, not to mention the hilarious family dynamics. An enjoyable read.

For the second time in less than a year I found myself reading; ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch; one of the best books I read in 2020. I loved the language, story and characters. This time I have been reading and listening at the same time. If you have read the book and enjoyed it, you should try the audio version. Hearing the Wiradjuri language pronounced adds such depth to the story.  

As we move forward into March and reading ‘Books to Screen’ I have been spending a lot of time thinking about what I want to read. While I was putting together the monthly list of reading recommendations, I identified a few potential titles to read during March, they are:

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

The Dry by Jane Harper, another re-read. It has been a while and I want to read it again before I watch the movie.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Whichever book you read in March I hope you enjoy it. I look forward to reading all about it on Goodreads, or share your review via our ‘Read & Review’ form, and I will share it on the blog.

I hope March is a good reading month!

Jody