August Reading Wrap-up

Welcome to our monthly reading wrap-up fellow readers!

Books, books & more books.

Finding ourselves still in lockdown here in Sydney being able to enjoy the odd book or two is one thing we look forward to in our downtime. Enjoying every opportunity to share what we are reading our City of Parramatta reading community is one of our highlights.

With our reading theme for August being, ‘Big, Bang Books’, I decided to re-read ‘And the mountains echoed’ by Khaled Hosseini. While ‘And the mountains echoed’ isn’t my favourite Khaled Hosseini book, it was still a beautiful, emotional read that stayed with me for days after I finished the book. The next time I’m looking to have my heart squeezed, I think I might re-read, ‘The kite runner’ & ‘A thousand splendid suns’.

‘Banned Books’ is our reading theme for September and one that offers up a great chance to pick up one of those classics you have been considering for years. We have highlighted some titles you might like to explore for your reading or listening pleasure.

For those of you who are more interested in exploring what we have been reading, you will find a list below.

Whatever book you choose to read over the next month or so, we hope you enjoy it.

Happy reading,

Jody

Some of the fabulous books we’ve been reading

The distant hours by Kate Morton – eBook, eAudiobook

The Henna artist by Alka Joshi – eBook, eAudiobook

Still life by Sarah Winman – eBook

The truth about her by Jacqueline Maley – eBook, eAudiobook

Leave me alone: A memoir of me, myself and Trish by Christian Hall – eBook

The truth & Addy Loest by Kim Kelly – eAudiobook

Olive, again by Elizabeth Strout – eBook, eAudiobook

One hundred days by Alice Pung – eBook

Your second life begins when you realize you only have one by Raphaelle Giordano

The electric hotel by Dominic Smith – eBook, eAudiobook

So much life left over by Louis de Berniere – eAudiobook

The bluffs by Kyle Perry – eBook, eAudiobook

Thorn by Intisar Khanani – eBook, eAudiobook

And the mountains echoed by Khaled Hosseini – eBook, eAudiobook

Hamilton and Peggy! A revolutionary friendship by L.M. Elliott – eAudiobook A doctor in Africa by Dr Andew Browning – eBook, eAudiobook

Banned books

All the titles listed were at some point banned in Countries around the world or people were asking for them to be banned. How many have your read?

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Thrilling April Reads

Wow! What a month of books. I really enjoyed reading, ‘Peace‘ by Garry Disher, ‘You Don’t Know Me‘ by Sara Foster and ‘The Ruin‘ by Dervla McTiernan. All very different, but great thriller/crime reads.

If you were looking for a light easy read, then my recommendation would be ‘Peace‘ by Garry Disher. Constable Paul ‘Hirsch’ Hirschhausen, was such a likeable character and while this was the second book in a series of books about Paul Hirschhausen, ‘Peace’ can definitely be read as a standalone. The dry Australian outback and the problems that plague that environment and its people, is something I never tire reading about. ‘Peace’ is the second book in the Paul Hirschhausen series of books. ‘Bitter Wash Road‘ (book one), ‘Consolation‘ (book three).

Anyone, who is a regular reader of Parra Reads will know that Sara Foster is one of my all-time favourite writers. All her books seem to have the perfect mix of great settings, likeable characters, and enough mystery to keep you guessing. If you haven’t read any of Sara Foster’s books, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is a good one to start with.

The Ruin‘ by Dervla McTiernan is an awesome thriller set in Ireland. I don’t know if it was the setting, the characters or the mystery that caught my attention the most. Maybe it was the masterful way in which Dervla McTiernan mixed them together to create a brilliant crime read. I think I might classify this as my first real crime thriller read. The depth the author has devoted to the setting and character building really sets it apart from other books in the same genre. I can’t wait to read the next two books in the series.

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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.

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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

Uplifting Reads

Can you believe it is February already? Time definitely seems to be moving along quickly in 2021.

Most people are back at work, the kids are back at school, and that relaxing holiday vibe seems like so long ago now. You might even be feeling a bit blah, I know I am missing my extra reading and craft time. Which prompted me to search for a nice uplifting book to read.

This means, I did what I normally do when I am looking for something to read, I asked my colleagues for their suggestions and I am so glad I did because now I have a huge list of books I can turn to when I just want to read something that makes me smile!

If you, like me are finding you need a little lift, why not check out some of the ‘Uplifting Stories’ below.

Happy Reading!

Jody

Keeping Mum by James Gould- Bourn

When We Were Vikings by Andrew MacDonald

The Other Bennett Sister by Janice Hadlow

The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore

The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

The Family Holiday by Elizabeth Noble

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

The Jetsetters by Amanda Ward

Come Again by Robert Webb

Death and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor

Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds

Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Joyful: The Art of Finding Happiness All Around You by Ingrid Fetell

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong

The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Five Steps to Happy by Ella Dove