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

Book Club Reviews

Read what our Dundas book clubs thought of their most recent picks!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Comments

The darkest part of our recent history, this story is the heartrending account of two survivors of Auschwitz. Lale and Gita met during three horrendous years of incarceration and their story is a tribute to their survival against all odds. History made personal in this way leaves a lingering mark on readers. A book well written and researched and well worth reading.

Read by Dundas Readers

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak

This novel was written with so many layers. It was complex yet at it’s heart, a family story with real, relatable characters.

We found the writing in the beginning chaotic but as the story evolved, it was very reflective of the lives of the characters. The style reminded us of a children’s spirograph with all the interwoven, bouncing lines coming together to form a resolution of reconnection, healing and love.

We so enjoyed the use of metaphors, succinct language and vivid descriptions. They had us laughing and crying. A novel well worth taking the time to read.

Read by the MJ Readers

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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June Wrap Up: Book Clubs & Reading Groups

City of Parramatta Libraries, Book Clubs and Reading Groups seem to grow each month; in June we welcomed another Book Club into our Club’s.

Before June comes to end I find myself already preparing July’s Book Club and Reading Groups Kits; with twenty seven kits already to for July!

The popular title and author this month was Jane Harper, with two groups reading The Lost Man and other reading Force of Nature. In fact Jane seems to re-appear each month on the list of book club reads. I can understand why too. I loved both The Dry and The Lost Man.

If you are also a Jane Harper fan then you might like to check out her website for more information and updates on the up-coming film version of The Dry; starring the talented Eric Banner as Aaron Falk!

As always you can read our Book Club and Reading Groups reviews on Parra Reads. Just search the Categories Book Club Kits and Book Reviews.

Happy Reading!

Jody

May’s Reads: Book Clubs & Reading Groups

As usual it has been a busy month for all of City of Parramatta Libraries Book Clubs and Reading Groups.

The month of May saw twenty seven Book Club Kits delivered to our Library Branches, making it simple for our wider reading community to pick up their Book Club Kits. Thanks to the Library’s wonderful courier, Vic who never gets upset when each day he arrives and there are more Book Club Kits waiting for him to deliver.

This month Book Clubs and Reading Groups read a wide range of titles, including both fiction and non fiction. Popular titles this month included ‘Bridge of Clay’ by Markus Zusak, and First Person by Richard Flanagan; both of which were read by four clubs.