Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Liesel Meminger, daughter of a communist, Germany, 1939. Travelling on a train, with her brother and
mother, towards Molching. Liesel is heading towards foster parents Rosa and Hans Hubermann in Himmel Street. Her brother is heading towards a frozen grave. Her mother is not entirely relevant to this story.

Liesel Meminger is the book thief. The first book she steals is at the graveside of her brother. She can't read, but that isn't important.

Death is the narrator of her story.

I am struggling to describe this book, for a few reasons. The main reason is that this book has such beautiful descriptions, Markus Zusak's masterful use of words and language renders any attempts I may make, pitiful. I have not yet seen the movie adaptation, and although assured by my aunt that it does indeed do the book justice, I cannot imagine it. Descriptions like "unit blocks that look nervous" and "empty hatstand trees, and grey air."

Just a small tip for you, though. Don't read the ending in a public place.

Category: Fiction

Who'll want to read it? People who love language, people who are interested in Nazi Germany

Point of no return: I had been told to read this book by so many people whose judgement I trust, that it's hard for me to pinpoint a point of no return. I was going to read it anyway. But perhaps it came with the list, on page 6, of what the narrator says the "small story" is about, "amongst other things:

  • a girl
  • some words
  • an accordionist
  • some fanatical Germans
  • a Jewish fist-fighter
  • and quite a lot of thievery."

Classic line: page 38: "She would grin herself stupid, watching the lines drawing themselves down his face, and the soft metal of his eyes - until the swearing arrived from the kitchen."
page 39: "Papa's bread and jam would be half-eaten on his plate, curled into the shape of bite-marks, and the music would look Liesel in the face."

Publisher: Picador (Pan Macmillan Australia)

This book is also available in large print, as an audio book, an e-book, and an e-audiobook.

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Author visit - Bruce Venables

Bruce Venables is an actor, musician, poet and novelist, and is married to well-known actress and author, Judy Nunn. You may recognise him from TV shows, such as Home and Away, Wildside, and Water Rats, among others.

His fourth novel, Scattered Monkeys, is the third book in the ‘Hong Kong’ trilogy, and is inspired by his own time working in the Royal Hong Kong Police Force in the 1970s.

From Hong Kong’s glittering mansions to its shady opium divans, from its wealthy elite to its brutal triad societies, from warrior monks to merciless politicians, Scattered Monkeys is a heart-stopping, exhilarating thriller.
Wallsend District Library is delighted to be hosting Bruce Venables, as he tells us more about Scattered Monkeys. Please join us for this FREE author talk:
Monday 21st July 2014
Bunn Street, Wallsend

 For bookings phone:  Wallsend District Library
4985 6680

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

What started as a bizarre news story of violence in Russia, quickly becomes more and more common, all over the world. Maybe it was something they saw.
People start shielding their faces in public, locking their doors, and covering their windows. Soon, no one is going outside unless they have to. No one is looking outside. Then people stop going to work. The Internet stops working. Television and radio stops.
Malorie is raising two children. Alone. Doors locked, windows covered, blindfolds for when they have to go outside to get water from the well. A complicated system of checking nothing comes inside when she does have to open the door.
But today, today they are leaving the house for good.

This is the most compelling book I have read in quite a while. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Wondering. I read it in three days, which says a lot, considering those three days included a sleepover of three six year old girls, on top of the usual weekend activities, and my husband was working.

Category: Fiction, Anti-Utopia, Horror

Who'll want to read it? Horror readers, and anyone interested in the psychology of fear, or anyone who wants a thought-provoking novel. It does have an element of supernatural to it, but that is not the focus of the book.

Point of no return: page 1: "The children sleep under chicken wire draped in black cloth down the hall."

Classic line: Page 281: "Then she feels it. Just like when they let Tom and Jules back into the house. Just like when they thought they were letting Gary out.
The Moment Between.
Between deciding to open her eyes and doing it."

Publisher: Ecco

Visit Newcastle Region Library's Catalogue and Website.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The Reading Hour 2014

Put Tuesday 19 August 6-7pm in your diaries and stay tuned for updates on events, competitions and how your family, business, school or library can help celebrate the importance of reading again this year.
The Reading Hour initiative reminds parents and caregivers that reading together doesn’t have to be a massive undertaking in their busy lives, and that sharing a book with a child for 10 minutes a day - or just over an hour a week - will still give that child the best chance of becoming a good reader later in life, along with all the social and educational benefits it brings.

How do I join in?

Register your library, business, school, pre-school or community centre by signing up online, and get started by downloading The Reading Hour promotional items from the website:
  • Download your DIY promo kit – Inspire your community with engaging promotional display material – available now on the website for your convenience
  • Celebrate The Reading Hour, Tuesday 19 August, 6–7pm – host an event, throw a party, read a story with your kids, and join us in celebrating this important national event!
  • Spead the word in your community! 
  • Borrow a book or download an eBook from your local library
  • Stay tuned for what's happening at Newcastle Region Library

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

This is a first novel for Jessica Brockmole, a beautiful romance spanning the two World Wars. I picked it up because I have a fondness for letters, and I love that this is written solely in letter format. The language used feels appropriate to the times in the story, but purists will be upset by the length of some of the letters. No-one, in those times, would have wasted postage on sending a single sentence, often crossing the paper on both sides, to get more onto a single sheet.

People seem to reveal more of themselves in letters. It seems to be a contemplative exercise, almost meditative. More of your hopes, dreams, and observations come out when you are writing, and if you are writing to someone you have never met, it is easier to write things that you would never tell someone.

Such is the case between David Graham, a cocky young American, attending University, and Elspeth Dunn, a young married poet, living on the Isle of Skye. They start writing to each other in 1912, and continue right through WWI.

Every alternate chapter focusses on Elspeth's daughter, Margaret, who is embarking on a wartime romance in WWII. Her mother is concerned about her, saying "a letter isn't always just a letter. Words on the page can drench the soul." (page 16)

Category: Fiction

Who'll want to read it? People who love letters, who love delving into stories of the past. Romantics.

Point of no return: page 9: "Dear Rumpelstiltskin, If you teach me to play the cornet, I'll teach you to dance!"

Classic paragraph: page 173: "The whole back of the cottage, the side facing out to the sea, glowed with colour. It was like an Italian fresco, caught in the Hebrides. The lime-washed wall was covered with whorls and curves of paintings, some straight out of the Gaelic legends and lullabies Mother would rock me to sleep with. Selkie women slipping from their sealskins on the beach. A ring of fairies dancing around a shuddering green flame. A woman dressed in rose petals on top of a crag, her tears running down to the sea. The pictures merged and overlapped. A couple waltzing. A bowl of oranges. A pink pearl gleaming within an open oyster. Then images I knew could have come only from the last war. An ambulance hurtling past an explosion, while rows of boys marched by. The driver of the ambulance leaned out of the window, his face tilted towards the lock, and  I swear there was a gleam in his brown-green eyes."

Publisher: Ballantine Books