Book Review Scrublands

Scrublands by Chris Hammer

Summary

In an isolated country town brought to its knees by endless drought, a charismatic and dedicated young priest calmly opens fire on his congregation, killing five parishioners before being shot dead himself.A year later, troubled journalist Martin Scarsden arrives in Riversend to write a feature on the anniversary of the tragedy. But the stories he hears from the locals about the priest and incidents leading up to the shooting don’t fit with the accepted version of events his own newspaper reported in an award-winning investigation. Martin

can’t ignore his doubts, nor the urgings of some locals to unearth the real reason behind the priest’s deadly rampage.Just as Martin believes he is making headway, a shocking new development rocks the town, which becomes the biggest story in Australia. The media descends on Riversend and Martin is now the one in the spotlight. His reasons for investigating the shooting have suddenly become very personal.Wrestling with his own demons, Martin finds himself risking everything to discover a truth that becomes darker and more complex with every twist. But there are powerful forces determined to stop him, and he has no idea how far they will go to make sure the town’s secrets stay buried.

Comments

For the most part, we enjoyed this book.  It had us engaged from the first chapter.  A priest in a rural community, is seen welcoming his parishioners before his Sunday services, enters the church to don his robes, he returns five minutes later, holding a hunting rifle. Killing five people, one of whom he was just seen greeting with a warm smile and a friendly handshake.  What could they have been discussing?

Scrublands is well written, and we liked the small insight into how the media, and in a particular a newspaper journalist works.  We loved the side characters and all their backstories, from single mum, Manadalay Blonde, to town recluse, Codger Harris.  However, it seemed to lose it’s way a little towards the end.  There seemed to be a lot going on in a small, rural town.  

Overall, we liked Scrublands and look forward to reading the next book in this series, Silver.

7.5/10

Read by Cultcha Club Book Club  

Book Review The Lost Man

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

Summary

The man lay still in the centre of a dusty grave under a monstrous sky.Two brothers meet at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old, no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron.Something had been troubling him. Did Cameron choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…For readers who loved The Dry and Force of Nature, Jane Harper has once again created a powerful story of suspense, set against a dazzling landscape.

Comments

A well written and suspenseful mystery. The protagonist, Nathan, is the
eldest of three sons in a family on a vast and isolated cattle station
in far outback Queensland. When the body of the second son, Cameron, is
found near the grave of a stock man, three generations of the
family and three workers are aware that someone knows more than they are
admitting. Was Cameron really the upstanding family man and successful
property manager he seemed to be? The history of this family is slowly revealed as the story progresses. The author captured the sense of isolation as well as the atmosphere of the Australian outback.                                                                                                               We all enjoyed this well-paced story which keeps you guessing until the very end.

Read by Dundas Readers

Book Club Review The Book Ninja

The Book Ninja – Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

Summary

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment. Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams. Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really. A clever, funny and wryly observed story about books and discovering who you really are.

Comments

The Book Ninja is not a book that we would recommend. Although it began well with some excellent writing it was not maintained throughout the novel. We found the idea of leaving the books on trains interesting, but the story seemed to morph into teen angst with the search for a boyfriend. We found the characters shallow, self absorbed and, at times, ridiculous. We also felt there was a lot of ‘book snobbery’ when discussing young adult novels.

Read by MJ Reader

Book Review First Person

Dundas Readers recently read….

First Person by Richard Flanagan

About the Book

Kif Kehlmann, a young penniless writer, is rung in the middle of the night by the notorious con man and corporate criminal, Siegfried Heidl. About to go to trial for defrauding the banks of $700 million, Heidl offers Kehlmann the job of ghostwriting his memoir. He has six weeks to write the book, for which he’ll be paid $10,000.But as the writing gets under way, Kehlmann begins to fear that he is being corrupted by Heidl. As the deadline draws closer, he becomes ever more unsure if he is ghostwriting a memoir, or if Heidl is rewriting him – his life, his future. Everything that was certain grows uncertain as he begins to wonder: who is Siegfried Heidl – and who is Kif Kehlmann?As time runs out, one question looms above all others: what is the truth?By turns compelling, comic, and chilling, this is a haunting journey into the heart of our age.

Book Club Comments

A combination of history, satire and autobiography by accomplished Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan. Aspiring young author, Kif Kehlmann is contacted in the middle of the night by a notorious corporate fraudster, Siegfried Heidl to take on the job of ghost writing his autobiography in only six weeks.  With a wife and young daughter and twins on the way, the ten thousand dollar fee seems too good to miss so he flies to Melbourne to meet Heidl and his publishers and begin work. However, it soon becomes clear that Heidl is a manipulative liar who has cheated the banks out of millions of dollars and may even be a killer.


Kif becomes more desperate as time passes and he is no closer to learning anything useful about Heidl although his boyhood friend Ray, who has worked with him provides some possible insights into his murky background. After pages and pages of exasperating, repetitive attempts to understand this thoroughly obnoxious man and the increasing hold he has over him, most readers would give up on these very unlikeable characters. On reflection however, I realised that Flanagan had cleverly succeeded in bringing out in the reader the very feelings Kif is struggling with!

In a last ditch attempt to get some answers to specific questions and a signed document to allow the publishing of the proposed book, Kif travels to Heidl’s remote house and an inevitable violent, bloody showdown results in Heidl’s death.  However, as we learn in the remaining chapters of the book, Kif cannot free himself from the pernicious influence of Heidl. His marriage to the only sympathetic character, his wife Suzy, eventually fails and he moves from Tasmania to work in television as a writer and producer of “pulp” television. He is professionally successful and wealthy but in his quiet moments he knows that he is nothing other than a pale copy of the immoral and hated con man Heidl.

This complex novel may be admired as a literary tour de force but it’s certainly not light and enjoyable reading!

Sydney Writers’ Festival 2022

https://www.swf.org.au/

City of Parramatta Libraries is very proud to be hosting two author talk events for the 2022 Sydney Writers’ Festival in May. Bookings are limited for these FREE events so don’t miss seeing these amazing authors in person.

Louisa Lim in conversation
When: Thursday 19 May at 6.30pm.
Where: Wentworth Point Community Centre & Library
What: Join award-winning journalist and podcaster Louisa Lim in conversation with author Linda Jaivin. Louisa will be discussing her fascinating portrait of Hong Kong Indelible City, which mixes memoir and reportage and aims to put Hongkongers at the centre of their own story.
How: For more information and to book click here.

Alicia Jasinska in conversation
When: Sunday 22 May at 3.00pm.
Where: Epping Leisure & Learning Centre
What:  Join Alicia Jasinska as she discusses her latest fantasy The Midnight Girls in conversation with one of our Library staff members. The young adult book is set in a snow-cloaked kingdom where two enchantresses secretly compete for the heart of a prince, only to discover they may be falling for each other.
How: For more information and to book click here.