In Conversation with Paige Toon

Parramatta Library was very proud to host best selling author Paige Toon at Parramatta Town Hall on Tuesday 30th April. Paige was in Sydney to promote her new book If You Could Go Anywhere and have a chat with one of our wonderful librarians all whilst enjoying a sumptuous high tea. A lot of fun was had by all and many books sold – we were very grateful to Penguin Random House for giving us the opportunity to host an author talk with Paige who was a dynamic and engaging speaker. Her many fans brought or bought books for her to sign and commented how much they enjoyed the event and meeting one of their favourite authors. Paige was happy to answer our favourite question – Why do you love libraries?

Book Review: Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers

Liane Moriarty

Summary

The retreat at health and wellness resort Tranquillum House promises total transformation. Nine stressed city dwellers are keen to drop their literal and mental baggage, and absorb the meditative ambience while enjoying their hot stone massages.

Watching over them is the resort’s director, a woman on a mission to reinvigorate their tired bodies and minds. 

These nine perfect strangers have no idea what is about to hit them.

With her wit, compassion and uncanny understanding of human behaviour, Liane Moriarty explores the depth of connection that can be formed when people are thrown together in… unconventional circumstances. 

Comments

While some of our readers liked this book, the majority felt this one fell a little flat unfortunately. 

We were looking forward to this read, considering we loved ‘Big Little Lies’ and ‘The Husband’s Secret’ amongst her others, but were left a little disappointed.

We found it a very slow start and a bit repetitive with some characters hard to engage. 

For those of us who did enjoy this book,  they likened it to a good holiday, on-the-beach read.

Read By

Cultcha Club 6/10

Book Review: Working Class Boy

Working Class Boy

Working Class Boy

Jimmy Barnes

Book Summary

The time I have spent writing this book has caused me a lot of pain. Sometimes because of what I have remembered about my childhood and sometimes because of what I couldn’t remember. It is funny how your mind blocks things out when those things can hurt you. There are a lot of things I wish I didn’t remember…

A household name, an Australian rock icon, the elder statesman of Ozrock – there isn’t an accolade or cliche that doesn’t apply to Jimmy Barnes. But long before Cold Chisel and Barnesy, long before the tall tales of success and excess, there was the true story of James Dixon Swan – a working class boy whose family made the journey from Scotland to Australia in search of a better life.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, which fuelled the excess and recklessness that would define, but almost destroy, the rock’n’roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have.

Raw, gritty, compassionate, surprising and darkly funny – Jimmy Barnes’s childhood memoir is at once the story of migrant dreams fulfilled and dashed. Arriving in Australia in the Summer of 1962, things went from bad to worse for the Swan family – Dot, Jim and their six kids. The scramble to manage in the tough northern suburbs of Adelaide in the 60s would take its toll on the Swans as dwindling money, too much alcohol, and fraying tempers gave way to violence and despair. This is the story a family’s collapse, but also a young boy’s dream to escape the misery of the suburbs with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to join a rock’n’roll band and get out of town for good.

Comments

This Book gives the reader a warts and all insight into the lives of the poor and underprivileged in our country and the resilience of those like Jimmy Barnes who overcome their circumstances. This could be a depressing read but Jimmy’s sense of humour shines through.

After several attempts to document his early life as a ten pound Pom who arrived in Elizabeth in South Australia as a pre-schooler, until he left home at seventeen, he finally managed to tell his amazing story.

This is more than an autobiography; for Jimmy it was a therapeutic journey through very hard times. He has included several pages of contact details for help and support organisations to encourage those who may need help.

Shocking but realistic true portrait of growing up in Glasgow, amazing survival & black humour!

Read By

Dundas Readers – 6/10

Book Review: Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

Mrs Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn.

Mrs Queen Takes the Train – William Kuhn

Book Summary

A charming, whimsical story of what happens when a long-serving and long-suffering monarch decides to go AWOL. A richly witty, warm and wonderful novel of responsibilities, escape and friendship. 

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, is growing increasingly disenchanted after her decades of public service and years of family scandal. One day, the Queen takes things into her own hands and, in a spur-of-the-moment decision, leaves the palace alone and incognito. 

An unlikely group of six, including two of the Queen’s most trusted household staff members, William and Shirley; one of her loyal ladies in waiting, Lady Anne; an equerry fresh from the battlefields of Afghanistan, Luke; a young equestrienne who minds the horses in the Royal Mews, Rebecca; and Rajiv, an Etonian spending his early 20s behind the counter in an artisanal cheese shop in Mayfair, and moonlighting as a tabloid photographer, are the only ones who know of her disappearance. They vow to find her and bring her back to the palace before MI6 turn her Scottish sojourn into a national crisis. 

Capturing the faded but enduring glamour and glory of a seemingly old-fashioned institution, and a woman who wonders if she, too, has become outmoded, this is a charming, witty and poignant novel of responsibilities and freedom. 

Comments

We all thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It brought together characters from across the Royal household, crossing the boundaries of social class, to establish respect for and friendships with each other.

At the heart of the novel, though, is The Queen. She was a real person with worries and doubts about her purpose and position. She had the same emotions as everyone else and we all felt real empathy with her. This was a wonderful ‘non-portrait’ portrait.

At the beginning of the novel staff were protective of ‘The Queen’ as an institution. By the end of the novel they were protective of ‘The Queen’ as a person.

Read by

MJ Readers

Book Review: Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Book Summary

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along the muddy track. Only four come out the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and teach resilience and team building. At least that is what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a particularly keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing bushwalker. Alice Russell is the whistleblower in his latest case – and Alice knew secrets. About the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

Far from the hike encouraging teamwork, the women tell Falk a tale of suspicion, violence and disintegrating trust. And as he delves into the disappearance, it seems some dangers may run far deeper than anyone knew. 

Comments

A Library Book Club choice and a good one too. Federal Police, Aaron Falk and his offsider Carmen, are investigating a company fraud when their informant, Alice, who works for the company goes missing with four other employees on a team building exercise. The setting is dense forest in the Giralang Ranges in Victoria. The women lose their way and after a harrowing time only four of them emerge. What has happened?

This is a real page-turner. Jane Harper has complete control of the narrative throughout and she maintains the suspense while creating a cast of well-drawn and interesting characters.

Read by

Dundas Readers