The inclusion of banned books in our reading themes for 2021 was certainly a good pick. It was the push I needed to finally read, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. While I am yet to finish reading, I am finding it to be the perfect book to relax with just before bed; also totally love the language.
‘Apples Never Fall’ was released in September and I admit to being super excited to read this one, although I was worried I might be put off by the tennis theme, not being a fan myself. Luckily I found this made no difference what-so-ever and while it wasn’t a book that kept me glued to the pages, I did enjoy reading it. The way in which Liane Moriarty weaves the story and characters together is truly skilful and the family dynamics as always is believable.
‘We Were Never Here’ by Andrea Bartz, is a must for fans of psychological thrillers. While I didn’t particularly like either of the two main characters, Andrea Bartz skill at weaving the story together, kept me wanting to know how their story would conclude.
‘The Bluff’s’ by Kyle Perry was one of those books I have been wanting to read since its release in 2020. ‘The Bluff’s’ ended up being my favourite read for September. I sat down and didn’t move until I finished the whole book. Kyle Perry masterfully uses the landscape to create an atmosphere and anticipation that had me holding my breath. Needless to say I can’t wait to read Kyle Perry’s latest book, ‘The Deep’ and then watch his interview about it.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her little problem taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister. 1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the queen of spies, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose. Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. That is until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth … no matter where it leads.
2020 was our first year of reading along together in an online environment, while COVID may have been the trigger it was an enjoyable experience for me. The ‘Parra Reads’ online book club proved to be an excellent way for me to connect, collaborate and read with my colleagues. City of Parramatta Libraries operates across seven branches and it is often hard for us book nerds to catch up and talk about books. The online book club has been one way for us to come together and share our love of reading with you all.
After much discussion we have decided to do things a little differently this year, in the hopes we can encourage more of you to read along with us.
So, what will 2021 look like for our ‘Parra Reads’ online book club? Well! For starters there will be more choices in regards to what title you read each month, we will be sharing more online via our blog, podcast, social media and in our Libraries.
If you are reading along with us and would like to participate and share your thoughts on what you have been reading, please do. You can share via Twitter, using the hashtag #parrareadsbookclub, or just comment on one of our tweets. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will share any suitable book related comments on our blog and in the library, rest assured I will only share first names. If you are a Goodreads member and would like to join our Parra Reads Virtual Book Club, log in and send us through a request.
Don’t forget to check out our ePlatform & BorrowBox collections! We have a huge library of both eBooks & eAudiobooks available for you to download.
However you choose to read & share with us this year is up to you, our only wish is that you read!
Each month we will provide some great reading recommendations to help you along your way, look out for these online and at all our Libraries.
Here’s wishing 2021 is a great year for reading!
Parra Reads Online Book Club – Monthly Reading Themes for 2021
February – A book by an Australian Author – Aussie Authors Rule! Check out our recommended reads below.
March – Books to Screen – Do you prefer to watch then read? Or read then watch? For me it is definitely read first!
April – A Thriller or mystery book.
May – Prize Winners – With so many different book awards each year what better selection could a reader ask for. Personally I will be reading my way through as many of the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist titles that I can manage before the shortlist is announced in June.
June – Second Chances – Read a book you have tried to read before but couldn’t finish! My nemesis is ‘Wolf Hall’ by Hilary Mantel; I have tired many times and still haven’t managed to get past the first chapter.
July – Memoir – What makes a memoir a great one? Is it the setting, person or subject?
August – Big Bang Books – Books that have made a big splash in the last 10/20 years! Literally an endless supply of choices with this one!
September – Banned Books – One for the rebels!
October – The first book in a series.
November – Hot of the printing press! With so many great books planned for publication in 2021, what better way to end the year.
Over the last month, myself and my colleague Sarah have been super busy reading!
What have we been reading? Well, as many books on the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist that we could manage! Not to mention our leisure reading and book club titles. Luckily we both love books and reading; although Sarah is by far the superior reader. I am constantly in awe of her seemingly endless list of books she has finished.
Now back to the ‘Miles Franklin’ longlist. While we didn’t get through the whole longlist, we did manage to read six out of ten titles, which I think is not a bad effort.
The White Girl by Tony Birch, UQP, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – This made me cry! In a good way. I was totally invested in Odette and Sissy’s story. If I am honest I would have read another two hundred pages. Jody
Room For A Stranger by Melanie Cheng, Text Publishing, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Meg is an elderly lady living alone in her childhood home. After a break-in she finds a student to share her house. This is Andy, an international student from Hong Kong. Although they are from different backgrounds they develop a friendship as they do have some things in common. Sarah
Islands by Peggy Frew, Allend & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – The many different layers/perspectives in this book did confuse me a times; enough so that I did find myself re-reading parts. However, overall I did enjoy the book and after finishing it, felt that on some level the way it was written perfectly matched the disjointed lives of the characters. Jody
Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany, Text Publishing, 2020. eBook – This book had the power to mess with my head! The narrator of this book is a teenage girl living with her mother, brother and a dangerous man. She uses her mechanical skill to fight back. I found this book quite disturbing. Sarah
The Yield by Tara June Winch, Hamish Hamilton, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Simply a perfect book! I enjoy reading books about Australian History, particularly Indigenous stories. ‘The Yield’ is complex and emotional book, with characters that will stay with you long after you finish reading their story. – Jody
The Weekend by Charlotte Wood, Allen & Unwin, 2019. eBook – eAudiobook – Four women in their 70s have been lifelong friends. After the death of one of the group the others spend a weekend at her beach house to clean it out. But there is conflict between the three ladies without the friend that held the group together. This novel looks at growing older and dealing with past regrets. – Sarah
We are crossing our fingers that our three favourite books, ‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch, ‘The Yield’ by Tara June Winch and ‘Room for a Stranger’ by Melanie Cheng make it onto the 2020 ‘Miles Franklin Shortlist’.
Do you have a favourite? What will be your pick for the 2020 Winner?